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.

Happy Friday, August 3 Edition

It’s Friday, which means it’s almost the weekend! It also means here’s a little list of yummy links to gobble up.

How to stream Making It – You know you want to watch Making It, the crafting competition with Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman. If you’re like me and never watch TV when it actually airs, you’re in luck! There are lots of streaming options.

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ZigZag is my new favorite podcast! Two women are taking on journalism by starting their own company and this is their journey. And they’re both moms! The host, Manoush Zomorodi is one of my personal heroes.

A Leisurely Pace is a fantastic little piece about choosing not to make “meaningful progress” in a video game. Because that feels like work. I don’t want playing games to feel like work. That’s the whole point!

Braxwolf discusses playing video games when your kids get older. How do you find time when they go to bed later and there’s only so much overlap in your interests? That is one good thing about having a two year old: early bed times and long naps.

If I’ve learned one thing this week it’s that people are upset over Blizzard’s narrative direction leading up to the new expansion. The MMO Syndicate has one of my favorite theories: the possibility of switching sides. Unlikely, but I’m imagining a long and epic quest chain involved. Fun idea, right?

This Wired piece about writing a short story following rules generated by a bot is from December, but it’s new to me. The rules the bot came up with were fascinating, particularly how much dialog women could have. The story suffered from all the required adverbs. I try to avoid adverbs in my writing. The article includes an annotated version of the actual story. Despite the excessive adverbs, it has an interesting concept: what if we discover life on another planet, but all we can do is watch them from a distance?

Are we alone out there? Cover photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash.