Let’s Go To The Moon (A Play-Along) – Act 3

Warning: This post contains spoilers for Act 3 of To The Moon. It’s the third part of the play-along hosted by Naithin. Now on to the questions!

1. Johnny… Joey… Twins. It seems after the accident Johnny lost his identity to his mother, and became a replacement-Joey. Does it change how you feel about Johnny as compared to your Act 1 impressions?

I spent more time thinking about how this worked than judging Johnny. Johnny gets beta blockers and, from what it seems like, completely forgets he even had a twin. I wonder who’s decision this was. Was it his mom’s? I can’t remember if it said she didn’t get them or if that’s just an assumption I’m making, but if she didn’t get them, does she just start thinking she has one kid and it’s Joey who survived? Did she get her memories erased and thinks she has one kid, Joey?

Johnny picks up Joey’s favorites (pickled olives and Animorphs). I’m thinking that was his mom’s influence. Now, I can’t hardly imagine loosing a child, but I can’t imagine making the choices she does which amounts to erasing the child that’s still alive.

I think I judged Johnny less harshly than some of the other play-along participants, but while this does increase my sympathy for him, I don’t judge him any less. The only thing I really judged him for was not reading the book on River’s condition–and I don’t think that was explained in Act 3. I’m still judging him on that, but he clearly loved River, so I can move beyond that one thing.

2. Eva and Neil have a verbal sparring match on their differing views of contract vs. what they now know (or think they know) about what would make Johnny happier. Outcome of Eva’s actions notwithstanding; do you sympathise with one view over the other here?

Neil’s for sure, but it’s hard for me to answer because I’m against memory alteration as a whole. Even with that aside, we find out that Johnny’s wish to go to the moon was to meet up with River.

This revelation is incredibly emotional. If you don’t see this scene and don’t feel anything, knowing what’s to come, your heart is three sizes too small.

But it’s about River. And in real life, Johnny spent his whole life with River. This request comes from a fragment of a chemically repressed memory. With his real memories, he’s getting what he wanted, but the words of his request are wrong and lead Neil and Eva in a wild goose-chase in the wrong direction.

And yet, I really relate to Eva in the scene where she’s all “I know what to do, just trust me!” and she runs off and does it. As a programmer, I often will think of the solution to something and be unable to articulate it–I’ll need to go and do it, Neils be damned.

Ace Asunder’s post reminded me that Neil said, “We happen to know what he wants better than he does!” I don’t hate Neil for saying this. I used to work for an agency and we very often knew what the clients wanted more than they did. Of course, I’m talking about software and not memories. I think that other people shouldn’t be deciding what memories to put in someone’s head, because other people shouldn’t be changing memories in the first place.

3. Throughout that same exchange, Eva asks Neil to trust her. He clearly didn’t. Did you?

Not in the way you might think. I definitely thought she was doing what she thought was the right thing. Because I could really see myself in that scene, I guessed she wanted to follow the letter of the contract and make Johnny happy.

But, knowing that there’s sequels: I have a feeling Sigmund Corp is up to something beyond just providing people with altered memories. It seems way too benevolent for a company in a video game. It wouldn’t surprise me if Eva knows a thing or two about it, while Neil’s completely in the dark.

4. “He can always find another ‘River’… But he’ll only have one brother.” Again, pretending for the moment you don’t know the outcome of Eva’s actions and what she (suspected) would happen… Do you agree? What about in this context of overwritten memories as opposed to life as it was?

No. It’s not real. The Joey isn’t even real, just constructed from Johnny’s memories. Even knowing the final outcome doesn’t make me think it’s right.

I don’t remember what I though the first playthrough. I wish I did. It would be interesting to see how my thoughts changed since then. I know that this time around, I strongly guessed that Eva’s attempts would be successful and that it meant we’d see River again. I don’t know if this was based on my own locked out memories of the game, or if it’s just my knack for guessing endings.

5. Do you ship Eva and Neil?

Of course! The sexual tension is there, folks.

But…I did tweet this a while back:

And I stand by it!

Cover Photo by SpaceX on Unsplash.

Let’s Go To The Moon (A Play-Along) – Act 2

Warning: This post contains spoilers for Act 2 of To The Moon. It’s part of the play-along hosted by Naithin. Let’s get to the questions!

1. When Eva was sitting, thinking about the reasons nothing at all changed in Johnny’s simulated memories — what conclusions do you think she reached? What conclusion did you reach?

First of all, the scenes where Eva and Neil are going through Johnny’s memories and trying to get Johnny to want to go to the moon is hilarious. Particularly the scene where Neil is giving the school presentation, reciting moon facts.

As an aside, having interesting or entertaining protagonists is essential to making an adventure game work for me. See The Longest Journey’s April vs. Syberia’s Kate.

Fan art of Eva and Neil via Janamation

Eva and Neil go through all Johnny’s memories and do what they can to manually implant as many triggers as possible, but Johnny still doesn’t want to go to the moon. It makes me wonder, why does old man Johnny want to go to the moon, anyway? If I grew old and regretted something, it would probably be something I’ve at least spent some time thinking about. Not just something completely out of the blue.

Maybe that’s what Eva’s thinking. They should call HQ and tell them it’s impossible. (Except maybe they want to keep their jobs.) Or, perhaps, there’s something missing in that blocked memory.

2. The block on the youngest memories and the use of beta blockers… What do you think this will be all about?

I think something traumatic happened at that time and the beta blockers were meant to repress that memory. That memory’s going to be the key to understanding all of this, I think. It seems like old man Johnny might have some bits and pieces and feelings from those memories that have leaked through. Somehow, the leaked memories and feelings have him wanting to go to the moon. Maybe he’s confused about them somehow, like he’s getting some lunar influences but it’s not exactly right.

3. What about Neil taking off for a moment while Eva returned with the… ahem… Contained dead squirrel odour? What could have been so important to him?

Absolutely no idea! Despite playing this game before, as I’ve mentioned, I don’t remember a thing except for not being able to get off that horse in Act 1 and there being a very twisty ending.

But, I have to wonder if Neil smelled that dead squirrel and was reminded of something himself.

Such harsh treatment of squirrels (and bunnies!) in this game. Has PETA complained yet?

4. We still have the third act to come. What do you think it will focus on?

It’s going to focus on the blocked memory and it will somehow tie everything up, and blow all of our minds. I remember being shocked and feeling very emotional at the end of the game when I finished the first time, but I don’t remember why.

Maybe they got to me with the beta blockers!

Apologies my answers are so short for this act. It’s been a busy week!

Cover Photo by Ganapathy Kumar on Unsplash. I’ve always had a certain attachment to the moon.

Let’s Go To The Moon (A Play-Along) – Act 1

To the Moon is an indie adventure game with pixel graphics, RPG maker sprites, and annoying tinkling music. But the story is so good, I loved it. I loved it when a friend insisted I play it over 5 years ago. Flash-forward to now, where I completely forgot entirely about the plot. I couldn’t even tell you that it centered around two people who’s job it was to implant new memories into a dying man’s brain. I knew I’d need a recap or an entire complete play-through before playing any sequels. So when Naithin announced he was hosting a play-along, I signed up.

There was one thing I remembered about the game:

It was really hard to get off the horse.

Get me off this thing! Via lparchive.org

Thankfully, Naithin took the time to write questions and answers for each Act in the game, so I don’t have to completely come up with my own stuff to write about. Whew.

Warning: Contains spoilers for Act 1 of To the Moon.

Let’s Play!

I’ve got the game launched. I’ve got hummus. I’m ready to go.

1. Let’s start off with the big guns — at the completion of Act 1 — how do you now feel about the very concept of granting someone’s dying wish by overwriting their memories with new ones?

Wanting to do this is a terrible idea. Sure, you’re on your death bed, and you think to yourself, “Wow, I really wasted my life. I wanted to be a marine biologist as a kid and instead I became an accountant. I never should’ve done that. What a crap life.” The best thing to do then, is…get new memories?

Your memories make up who you are. If those memories are implanted then you’re not really a real person, you’re just a fake set of memories. I can see good intentions in wanting people to die happy, but what about instead having them go through their memories and find the good ones? Maybe you wish you were a marine biologist, but as an accountant you stopped tax fraud or helped small businesses stay afloat? Maybe if you hadn’t become an accountant, you wouldn’t have met your spouse or had your children.

Plus, when you die, what happens to those memories? If you don’t believe in an afterlife, then, poof, they’re gone. Then what was the point of the whole thing? For a moment of happiness because your brain is lying to you the moment before you die? How much of whatever your benefactors would be inheriting did you spend on that moment?

If you do believe in the afterlife–well, let’s say you believe in Heaven. It’s not in the Bible so I can’t say for sure, but I’m pretty sure you’re not bringing those implanted memories with you. So you’d be stuck with those same old memories, which probably wouldn’t even matter, because you’d be partying with angels.

2. What did you think of River’s choice to put her treatment behind that of Anya?

Spoiler: Anya is a lighthouse.

Anya

My gut reaction is that it was selfish. She wanted this lighthouse to be “looked after” more than she wanted to be there for her own husband. She cared more about an inanimate object than she did about him.

But I think Anya is more than an object to River. I see Anya being a surrogate child. River and Johnny don’t have children, and I wonder if they wanted to but weren’t able to and somehow Anya took that place in River’s heart. If River sees Anya as her child, then of course she’d prioritize Anya’s life over her own.

3. In response to Neil commenting that it was like watching a train-wreck unfold, Eva says, “The ending isn’t any more important than the moments leading up to it.” Do you agree?

For sure. 100%.

I have a cat, Sashimi. I love my cat. I adore my cat.

Look at my cat. She wants boops.

My cat is going to be 9 next month. She’s not going to live forever. Someday I’m going to have to deal with her death. The thought itself makes me sad. It’s going to be a hard and terrible time in my life.

It doesn’t mean every happy moment I spend with my cat is pointless. No one says “if you’re going to be so sad when your cat dies, maybe you shouldn’t have adopted one.” If it was all about the ending, we’d never have pets!

I can come up with more examples–like a relationship I had in my twenties that was bad at the end. It doesn’t mean I can’t fondly remember the good moments and treasure the things I discovered and friends I made because of that relationship.

The journey matters.

4. What did you make of Johnny’s decision not to read the book offered by Dr. Lee?

Crap. Unless River didn’t want to do anything about it and ignore it and he was following her lead–but I don’t think that’s true or they wouldn’t be getting a diagnosis in the first place.

You can tell Johnny loves River, but I don’t know why he doesn’t read the book. Does he want to pretend it’s not a part of her? Is he afraid it will take away from the part of her personality that attracted him to her in the first place? I don’t get it. It’s not supportive. Shame on you, Johnny. You should’ve read the book.

5. How do you feel about Johnny as a person now, particularly after he reveals why he (at least initially?) was interested in River?

Johnny was initially interested in River because she seemed different and he wanted some of that uniqueness for himself. A rather selfish reason to date someone, right?

For sure. But when we first start dating someone, aren’t the reasons usually superficial and possibly selfish?

And it seems like he really likes her, and he does fall in love with her, so who cares what was going on in his teenage brain when they first met. It still bothers me that he didn’t read the book, but I can forgive him for this.

6. We saw River’s obsession with origami rabbits very early in the piece — and some of the events that tracked back as a possible origin along the way. After Johnny told her about his initial motivations is when it all kicked off. Neil thought it might’ve been River holding onto a grudge. What do you think?

I don’t think so, because like I said, I don’t think Johnny’s confession is that big of a deal. And from a story telling perspective, the game is only half-finished at this point so the answer we have now probably isn’t the actual answer.

I think it might have something to do with why Johnny wants to go to the moon. In Asian folklore, depicted in the moon is a rabbit grinding something with a mortar and pestle. What the rabbit is grinding depends on the specific culture. (Maybe here it’s pickled olives?)

Cover Photo by Aswathy N on Unsplash. So many rabbits!

The Real Life Parenthood Inventory Management Game

Welcome to Parent Pack, the real life parenting inventory management simulator. In this game, you play a parent who needs to get their kids out of the house. This game takes place in summer 2019, so no COVID-19 to worry about. You can actually leave the house.

MMO Pantheon announced they’re bringing back coin weight as a mechanism in inventory management and Twitter was abuzz about it for a while. I was surprised how many people are down with inventory management as a concept in general, since I always see it as a necessarily evil. It’s even more annoying in real life when you can actually feel the weight of the stuff you’re lugging around and you have to make crucial decisions about what to bring with you and what to leave behind.

Congratulations you’re a parent. You have a 3-year-old (who’s still in diapers) and a 4-month-old. It’s a Saturday in late June. The 3-year-old is getting antsy. Your partner has plans to do housework and yard work all day. You need groceries. You decide to go to the playground, have a picnic lunch, and get groceries.

You have to decide what to pack. You feed the baby right before you leave and decide two unmixed bottles of water and formula will be enough. They go in the diaper bag. You pack about 6 baby diapers and a pack of wipes. There’s already a pad in there and some diaper rash cream, plus a couple small baby toys. The baby needed to wear the last emergency outfit you had in there, so you grab another. You also grab a lightweight blanket. It’s sunny outside, so you pack a thing of baby sunscreen and a sun hat. You stuff your wallet and keys in there, too.

Now you need to pack for the 3-year-old, but the diaper bag is about full. Luckily, the 3-year-old can carry a few things on their own. They have a small backpack. You add a few diapers, snacks, small toys, and a bottle of water.

The 3-year-old picks up the bag. “It’s too heavy!”

You dump out half the water bottle. Now the 3-year-old can carry it. Except the 3-year-old refuses to use the baby’s sunscreen. Thankfully, the 3-year-old’s sunscreen is getting close to empty and does not add too much weight to the backpack.

You pack the cooler. You pack a small cooler, and have to forgo the bottle of iced tea you wanted because it’s too tall. You take La Croix for yourself instead. The entire cooler is stuffed. You can barely close it.

“Can we have grapes?” the 3-year-old says.

Crap. You didn’t pack grapes. Or any fruit. “Sure, honey.”

You wash and pack some grapes, but there’s no room for them in the cooler. You take everything out. You decide not to leave the chips–they’re getting kind of crunched up anyway. You pack the grapes.

Now you have to carry everything. In this game, you can carry a limit of 3 things. Your three things are: the cooler, the diaper bag, and the baby in their car seat. The game also has a mechanism where the heavier the stuff you’re carrying, you’ll eventually get slower over time. The heaviness of the stuff correlates to how fast you slow down. The stuff you have (particularly the baby) is fairly heavy, so you’ll slow down quickly. If you carry it all for too long, you risk collapsing. If you collapse, there’s a chance you’ll injure yourself and the baby.

You get everything out to the car. Putting the stuff in the car resets the slow-o-meter. Before you leave, you text your mom and she decides to meet you at the playground. She’ll bring her own food.

The walk from the car to the picnic area is long and your slow-o-meter is getting rather full. You can set your stuff on the picnic table, which resets the meter. Your mom is already there, with a pile of new clothes for the baby. She went on a shopping spree. You try to be grateful, but some of them have questionable phrases on the front and you don’t know where you’re going to put them to carry them back to your car. You push them aside for now to worry about later.

At lunch, your 3-year-old becomes very upset that there aren’t any chips and isn’t interested in the grapes. You are going to turn this into a life lesson about getting what you ask for, but it turns out your mom brought chips, and she readily hands some over. At least now you’re avoiding the game’s “Meltdown Mode.”

After lunch there’s a lot more room in the cooler: enough for the baby clothes. Your mom raises her eyebrows at you, and you have the option of starting a “Parenting Argument” mini game. It’s not very fun, so you say nothing.

You say goodbye to your mom and lug everything over to the playground. You set everything down on a bench, which while dropping the slow-o-meter back to 0, increases the chance that someone will steal you stuff. After about 10 minutes of heavy playing, the 3-year-old downs all the water in their water bottle. They says they’re still thirsty, so you help them at the drinking fountain. You bring all the stuff with you, because the theft chances increase greatly by leaving it there. It wouldn’t be a big deal if the clothes were stolen, but if someone steals the baby you instantly lose the game.

You help your kid with the drinking fountain, but water ends up all over their shirt and it eventually gets dirty after more playground play. You lose 5 points. Apparently you should’ve sacrificed a few diapers for more water in the bottle, or put diapers in the kid’s backpack and the water in the diaper bag. Who knew? Good thing this is a game and not real life, and you can try again for a better score.

Cover photo via The Honest Company on Unsplash. I’m forever unimpressed by how little you can actually fit in a diaper bag.

Life Update: Mid April, 2020

Hello and welcome to the blog where I, a busy working parent, discuss the multitude of reasons as to why I’m not playing video games right now.

Recently I started a knitting blog, and it was part of the same WordPress instance as this one. I realized I could comment with a link to the knitting blog, or this blog, but not both. This bothered me, so I created a new WordPress account, made it an admin, and transferred all the posts to this author. It was fun to revisit all my previous posts.

Like everyone else, we’re quarantined in our home. With me already working from home, my husband a stay-at-home-dad, and Indy not in school yet, it’s not a major change. The biggest one is that the two other humans never leave the house, which for me as an introvert who’s primary love language is being left alone, has been difficult. It’s hard for the kid because everything fun is closed: the library, playgrounds*, museums, the zoo, the dog park. Going to Grandma and Grandpa’s is definitely off-limits: we want to keep them healthy.

On the bright side, the weather is warming up. This means we can take Meabel outside to play. I’ve been teaching her how to play fetch with the Frisbee. She is not the brightest dog, but she makes up for it in enthusiasm!

I’d mostly been playing The Sims 4 during the first part of social isolation, then yesterday I decided what I really wanted to do was take my aggression out on pixelated monsters. I played Diablo III. My Crusader is so OP. The usual plot-heavy games that normally appeal haven’t. I want something more mindless. I’m thinking of picking up WoW Classic again, but this time I want to find a super casual (but still socially active) Alliance-side guild to chat with while leveling. If one even exists.

My husband and kid are currently watching old bike races because my husband is bummed some big bike race is canceled. We have resorted to more screen time since we can’t go anywhere–mostly tablet games, because the kid flips his lid when it’s time to be done watching TV. We’re going to give TV a try later this afternoon and see how it goes.

Cover image via pxfuel. I’ve missed the tree leaves so much, and I’m happy to see them budding again!

*Not really but we tell him they are.

Revisiting The Witcher 3

I started playing The Witcher 3 back in November and now if my estimations are correct, I’m about halfway through the game. I’m playing the main story and side quests I read about in various “best side quests from The Witcher 3” articles online. This technique is helping me with a trap I often get myself into with open world games where I find myself with a todo list of quests. I feel like I need to finish all of them, and I’m not sure which ones to do first, or which ones are fun and which ones are just “go kill something.”

(I did do a couple of contracts (“go kill this monster” quests) because I needed more gold, as being Mr. Nice Witcher was causing my armor and weapons to wear out.)

witcherweapons
Everything here in disrepair.

When I’m playing the game, I’m enjoying myself, but when I find myself with some time to game, I often have to talk myself into playing it. Few of the quests have had the sort of plot where I really want to know what happens. Plus, a lot of the characters are continually referencing things that happened in the past in previous games, and I have no desire to play those at this point. But for the most part when I play, I enjoy myself.

I also want to finish the game so I can watch the show. I know the show and game don’t have the same plot, but it seems like a good idea in my head and is a good motivator for finishing the game. I think the story might work better for me as a show than a game–we’ll see. Rock, Paper, Shotgun compares the bathtub scenes from the show and the game! It’s hilarious. As in, which would be the better bathing experience (I did think the tub in the game was rather small.)

In other words, I’d say the game is pretty good, and I’ll keep playing for now.

Cover Image from this wallpaper site.

Happy Secret Blogger Holidays!

I am frequently tired of “save the world” plots in games. Don’t get me wrong, its nice to be the hero in fantasy, but sometimes you want a more personal story. A story about people, trying to learn about themselves and grow. Sure, you might save some people along the way, solve some issues, retake a throne or two, but at the end of the day, its about the journey, not the destination.

I feel the same way. Can we scale down a bit? Fantasy and sci-fi games give us beautifully imagined worlds, but does every game have to be about saving that world?

I was excited to get Terminally Nerdy as my Secret Blogger Santa recipient. Here’s someone who also cares about stories in games, but is a much more prolific blogger than I am. I’ll definitely be following once this post goes live–I didn’t want to give myself away by following before.

cropped-terminallynerdybanner1

These Are a Few of my Favorite Posts

The Revival of City of Heroes – An excellent explanation of what happened after City of Heroes was shut down. My husband plays the game and it was interesting to read about the game’s mechanics, since I’ve never bothered to ask said husband.

A Nerdy Moment With: The Outer Worlds (A Review) – This game has been on my radar for a while and I wanted to see Clay’s impressions of the game. Now I’m even more on board–hopefully someone will gift me this one for Christmas or my birthday.

The Camp Halfblood Novels (Percy Jackson, The Kane Chronicles, Magnus Chase, and More): A Series Review – Clay also does book reviews!

TN’s Indie Impressions – Aurion, Legacy of the Kori-Odan – This is the post the intro quote comes from. Clay frequently covers indie games, which is awesome. I’m not sure I’ll play this particular one, but I appreciate all the indie game content.

A Gift From Me

Part of the Secret Blogger Santa prompt is to bestow a fictional gift on your recipient. For Clay, I’ve chosen a Crimson Welpling from World of Warcraft. As far as I know, Clay doesn’t play WoW (I didn’t see it mentioned in the blog) but I wanted to get him a little red dragon companion. For one, I was inspired by the critter Clay is holding onto in his header image. Even though I think that’s not a dragon since it doesn’t have feet. Wyvern? Basilisk? I’m not sure. Clay also mentions a red dragon in his later Bait Shop posts. So why not get him one? And I knew WoW was bound to have a few to choose from.

crimsonwelpling

Now Clay, don’t tie your Crimson Welpling up like you did with your Wyver-salisk. These little cuties don’t take well to chains. Make sure to feed him, too. He can get very hangry.

I hope you all check out Terminally Nerdy!

Cover photo by Michael Fenton on Unsplash. Happy Holidays!

The Parent Trope’s Top 5 Games of the Decade

Before writing this, I had to decide if I wanted to base this list on games I played from 2010-2020, or games that were released between 2010 and 2020. I ended up going with the release date, mainly because I couldn’t remember if I played Dragon Age: Origins in 2009 or 2010. (I think it was 2009.)

5. The Sims 4

sims4

I didn’t like The Sims 4 as much as The Sims 3, but 3 came out in July 2009. And even though I miss many things about 3, I’ve still enjoyed 4 quite a bit after I got over the fact that it just wasn’t going to have the create-a-style tool. The graphics in The Sims 4 are gorgeous, and even with more limited options I’ve had a lot of fun building various things in the game. Such that I’ve clocked a lot of hours in the game. I don’t know how to check that in Origin, and frankly I’m not sure I want to know.

4. Life is Strange

lifeisstrange

I like adventure games. Life is Strange is an amazing adventure game. I was completely hooked by this story, and the time travel piece added just the right extra element. I played quite a few adventure games in this decade, but this one has to be my favorite. The plot, the characters, the choices, the incredible length of the thing. It somehow manages to be a classic adventure game and a modern game at the same time.

3. Civilization 6

civ6-splash

Civ 6 was my game of the year last year, and honestly I thought about making it game of the year again for 2019, because it’s that good. The Gathering Storm added many fun new systems to the game that made it exciting all over again. It might even be my favorite Civ game, although I still have a special place in my heart for Civ 3.

2. Don’t Starve

dont-starve-cover

This is one of my favorite games ever. Top five for sure. If we’re just going by hours played it would probably be number two (after The Sims 3). Let’s not find out, though, because that would be embarrassing. The point is, I love this game. A friend told me about it when it was released in 2013 and then I spent so much time trying not to die.

Don’t Starve made me think I like survival games, but eventually I realized that I don’t. I just like Don’t Starve. I like the artsy graphics that look hand-drawn. I like the little characters and their quirks. I like the weirdness of it all. That’s what I like the best. Running into something and not knowing if it’s going to kill you or if you can chop it down or eat it. Maybe it will make you go insane and start seeing shadow creatures. If it chases you, jump down a wormhole and end up who knows where.

1. Mass Effect 2

MassEffect2_cover

Mass Effect 2 barely scrapes into the list having a release date of January 2010. I played Mass Effect 2 after finishing Dragon Age: Origins and hearing that Mass Effect was “like Dragon Age in space.” It did not disappoint. I don’t know why I started with 2 and not 1, but I loved 2 enough that I went back to play 1.

Mass Effect 1 had overly complicated combat and that terrible mako vehicle you had to drive around on occasion (see why I never got past the 4 hour mark in Mass Effect: Andromeda). But by now I was hooked on this whole universe and I wanted to start Mass Effect 2 with choices I actually made in the first game. Plus, I’d discovered the joy of playing renegade–and I really wanted to be able to recruit Morinth.

This game is, to me, what an RPG should be. Intriguing plot, exceptional characters, smooth combat, and not wasting countless minutes getting from quest point A to quest point B because someone decided all RPGs have to be “open world.” It’s the best. I don’t think we’ll ever get a game quite like it.

Cover image via xbox wallpapers.

Finding Time for Gaming as a Parent

I’m writing this with my almost-four-year-old hanging on my arm. He’s at the age where he wants to spend 100% of his waking hours (and let’s be honest, his sleeping hours as well) with me or his dad. With jobs and other responsibilities, it’s hard to find time to play video games. Gone are the weekends where I used to spend all day in front of the computer, immersed in another world. I still want to play video games, though, and I know I’m not alone. I belong to a Facebook group for parents who like video games. Many of my fellow gaming bloggers happen to be parents as well. We have kids, we want to game, but how do we find the time? I asked the Facebook group for their tips and compiled my own, and the result is this list.

Game With Your Kid

This works best for older kids. Indy is just getting to the age where he’s able to play some basic games with grown-ups. Sometimes we take turns playing fruit ninja on my phone. He spends more time meticulously choosing his blade and background than actually slicing fruit, but that’s fine. He plays Mario Kart with my brother. He’s terrible at it, but he has fun and you have to start somewhere. Nintendo Wii and classic systems and lego games come highly recommended for playing with your kid.

legovideogames.jpg

Not all games are kid-friendly, though. I’ve been playing Witcher 3 and I don’t want to play that with my kid around, much less play it with him. Although, I remember my husband playing Witcher 3 on the xbox while holding our child as a tiny baby.

Game During Nap Time

This works particularly well if you’re a Stay-At-Home-Parent, but there is one important requirement: your kid has to take naps. Indy stopped taking naps at about 2 1/2, and no longer having nap time cut big into gaming time. We miss nap time.

On weekends, we’ve replaced it with…

Game During Screen Time

We give our kid some screen time on weekend afternoons that usually turns into game time for me. The feasibility of this technique depends on your kid’s age, how much screen time you want them to have, and if they’re the sort of kid who will sit happily in front of a screen and not bother you for a few hours. Plop the kid down with some educational games on the tablet and go play some less educational games yourself.

Hire a Babysitter

Babysitters don’t have to just be for going out! Recently my parents took Indy for the weekend and while my husband and I did go out for dinner, we spent most of the following afternoon playing video games. (This might sound like a cute couple bonding experience, but he played City of Heroes in the living room while I played Witcher 3 upstairs.) I played the game straight for about four hours.

Take a Day Off Work

I used to take a day off work whenever Bioware launched a new Dragon Age or Mass Effect game. I know I’m not alone in this technique–a former coworker took a day off for Fallout 4. If Dragon Age 4 ever comes out, I’ll probably do this again. Having a SAHD husband makes me feel a bit guilty about it. This method only works for working parents.

Game While Your Kid’s Sleeping

This technique came up the most in the Facebook group and it’s something we do, too. My husband does group content with his City of Heroes guild Sunday evenings after the kid goes to bed. I don’t game every night, but sometimes I’ll get an hour of playtime after he goes to sleep.

If after bedtime doesn’t work for you, early morning is possible. One person on the Facebook group noted that her husband gets up at 5am to play. I’m definitely not a morning person, but if you are, that’s an option.

Make Gaming a Priority

Before you have kids, it’s easier to find time to game. I remember getting off work for the weekend and having two whole days of nothing to do stretched out before me. Now that I have a kid, I have to be more strategic. If I want to game, I have to keep in mind that it’s something I want to make time to do. After you have kids, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to fit all your leisure activities into your now much busier schedule. You might have to drop a thing or two. For me, I don’t binge watch TV anymore. I realized it was very time sucking and not as gratifying as gaming or reading.

Gaming might take precedence over other activities, too. One person in my Facebook group said, “We definitely play instead of, like, cleaning, which isn’t the most adult decision we’ve ever made.”

Take a Break

Maybe none of these ideas will work for you and your family, or maybe you’re just too tired and need to prioritize sleep. That’s understandable. Hopefully one day our kids will be grown, the economy won’t have collapsed so we’ll all have ample money to retire on, and we’ll have all the free time in the world. We can move into a comfy nursing home with great wifi and game the day away until our 5pm dinner.

When my kid was a newborn, I didn’t game. I was too exhausted. Having a newborn took every ounce of energy out of me. But eventually he got bigger, started sleeping though the night, and taking regularly scheduled naps. Then I could game again.

Several people in the Facebook group commented that they no longer have time to game, but for now enjoy living vicariously through the group and enjoy the memes.

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Cover Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash. This is not my kid and I don’t own a Switch.

Witcher 3 First Impressions: Is it Really an RPG Though?

I realize it’s been months since I last posted, and here I am ready to talk about a game I recently started playing: The Witcher 3. Yeah, I know, it came out in 2015. I’m a bit behind. I bought it on Steam sale for about $7 and decided to give it a whirl. Even though it’s a narrative heavy RPG (something I like) I’d avoided it because I prefer RPGs where I can customize my character or at the very least play as a woman. In The Witcher 3 you’re stuck playing Geralt, an overly-buff, white-haired sword wielder who has a few minor magical abilities.

Playing Geralt definitely feels like I’m in a heterosexual male fantasy: he’s muscular, sarcastic, and has plenty of girlfriends. His voice is deep and grizzled, and I wonder how many packs of cigarettes the voice actor had to smoke before completing his scenes. I rebel by making my Geralt the kindest possible version of himself in his dialog options.

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Geralt. So broad-shouldered. So gravely-voiced.

I play this and wonder if you can really call it an RPG? RPG stands for “Role Playing Game” and while technically you’re playing the role of Geralt, the term RPG is taken from the tabletop gaming world where players create their own characters. Can a game be considered an RPG if you’re forced to play a specific character? Or is Witcher 3 more of an adventure game with combat? Most people wouldn’t call Life is Strange a roleplaying game even though you’re playing the role of Max Caulfield. What makes that an adventure game but Witcher 3 an RPG? Is Witcher 3 an RPG because of it’s fantasy setting? is Life is Strange an adventure game because there’s no combat? I really don’t know–let me know what you think in the comments.

On to better topics: cats in the game, and whether or not you can pet them.

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Early in the game I ended up at a tavern and while questioning in the patrons I found a cat. I couldn’t pet the cat and the cat hissed at me. It might have something to do with my cat eyes. Very disappointing.

Despite not being able to pet the cat and Geralt not being my ideal player character (he does have nice hair and the cat eyes are cool), I am interested in the lore. I’ll try to focus on that as I keep playing.

Cover image via this website. I thought I’d finally found one without a person in it, but I was wrong. Cat photo by Milada Vigerova on Unsplash.