Video Game Lessons Learned

#VideoGameLessonsLearned is trending on twitter. Since it’s twitter, some of them are repugnant. But some of them are awesome. Here are a few of my favorites:

Last time my fiancé and I were playing WoW, he asked me, “Why am I burning?”

Treasure for sure.

See, video games can be inspirational.

For real life these are called “tutorials” or “instructions” and they’re magic: you read them and gain knowledge.

Here’s one for parents:

The only saved games I have from when I was a kid are on a CD that requires a Mac from the 90s to run. I think I’m safe on this one.

Finally, mine:

If video games taught me anything, it’s that you should stuff your pack with everything you can until you become encumbered. Even then, you might need that old coffee maker. Better hold onto it and walk slowly.

What have you learned from video games?

Cover image from The Longest Journey, a game in my top 5.

Sims Features I Want in Real Life

Money Cheat

You create your Sim family and purchase them a one-bedroom, poorly decorated house. You give them entry level jobs. They had to work, do their jobs, get promotions, and eventually you can update the house…

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In my dream world, you’d type “motherlode” up into the ether and a cat would come by with $50k for you.

Yeah, right. You create your family and without hesitation, pop in the money cheat. Now they’re rich and you move them to the biggest and create them the your amazing fancy dream house. I can’t imagine playing The Sims without the money cheat. Sure, I’ve played some families with limited means and tried out the legacy challenge, but it’s way more fun building houses with indoor swimming pools.

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You think Sims get to live in the downtown penthouse with basketball court thanks to hard work and determination? Yeah, right!

Then I send them to work anyway because they can only swim in their indoor pool so many times before it gets boring.

Instant Employment

You want a job? Just go on your computer and get an entry level job in the field of your choice. Your requirements for a promotion are clearly laid out. No applications and cover letters, no “it’s who you know, not what you know”, and no office politics.

Bonehilda

Bonehilda is a skeletal butler that your sims could purchase and the only buyable item in the game that stood out to me when . She came with expansion packs for Sims 1 and 3. She was the best thing in the Sims 3 Supernatural pack, which I otherwise found rather mediocre. Unlike human butlers, she doesn’t have regular human needs. If you buy multiple Bonehildas, they’ll team up and work together. If they run out of things to do, they’ll train your dog. How awesome is that?

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There’s one other buyable item: I remember Sims 3 had a teleporter. Since teleportation is my hypothetical superpower of choice, I’d take the device.

Click to Redecorate

Tired of blue walls? Click! Now they’re purple! Drag and drop a giant painting on the wall. Replace your sofa with just a few mouse clicks. Even if you pay for painting, furniture delivery, and art installation in real life, you still have to wait for the professionals. In the Sims, you can try a different decor style every day.

Change your Look

In real life if you decide you want to loose weight, you usually have to follow a diet and exercise plan. It’s hard. It takes a long time. It’s difficult to maintain. In the Sims, all you have to do is exercise a few times and boom, you’ve lost weight. If you want to gain weight, that’s easy, too. Just eat when you’re already full a couple times and off you go.

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3 hours on the rock climbing treadmill and you’re good to go!

Changing your hair is easier, too. A major hair change in real life requires a trip to the salon. In the Sims, you just need a trip to your nearest mirror.

Talk to Strangers

Making friends as a grown up in real life is hard. Making friends in the Sims is easy. Step 1, go to a public location and chat up some strangers. They won’t find this strange at all. They’ll be happy to stand and talk to you until one of you needs to use the bathroom. Step two, tell a lot of jokes. Funny interactions boost relationships. You can go from complete strangers to friends in one or two days. Then you have to maintain the friendship, which is a lot more like real life: spending time with the other person.

Sim life would be pretty awesome. But it would also take you about a half hour to go to the bathroom. It’s way easier to set fires in your kitchen. Ghosts and vampires are real. I like being able to cook more than 5-20 different dishes. I’ll take real life for now, but if someone could come up with a way that I can redecorate my house by clicking and dragging my mouse, that would be awesome. I’d have my art hanging on the walls instead of just leaning up against them.

Question: If you grew and butchered a cow plant, would the meat be vegetarian?

Cover image from the Sims 4 Outdoor Retreat pack. I want to go to there.

 

Reading, Playing, Writing, Doing – August 12 Edition

Unlike last week, this has been a busy week with work, kid stuff, and other responsibilities. I’m impressed that I managed to get some reading and gaming in this week. Notice that I didn’t mention writing.

Reading

I noticed Naomi Novik had a new book out. I’d loved Uprooted and Spinning Silver appeared to be in the same vein. I put Song of Achilles on hold to read it.

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Spinning Silver has a slower pace than Uprooted but I’m still enjoying it. I love Miryam. This is good, because I put a book about sled dogs on hold to read Song of Achilles and I put down Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers on hold to read that. I want to finish Starship Troopers someday but I’ll probably have to at least skim what I already read because I can’t remember what happened. The sled dog book belongs to a friend; I’m sure she’d like it back if she hasn’t forgotten it exists.

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“Hey Alli. Finish the sled dogs book!” Photo by Jérémy Stenuit on Unsplash.

Playing

The fiancé and I have been playing World of Warcraft together. We did the new Siege of Lordaeron content last night, but his computer crashed during it and he had to reboot. I’m finding warrior-ing difficult because you can’t just stand there and blast things. You have to move around and my character constantly yells at me that we don’t have a target. Bosses are fun, but the lesser mobs die too quickly when 7 other players are fighting them.

Otherwise it’s been Civ 6 all the time. I finished (lost) my game as Gilgamesh and started a new one as Tomyris. I wanted to play more aggressively.

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I’m about to kick Arabia’s butt. Until Egypt and Russia declare war on me, too.

Now all the Civs think I’m a warmonger and dislike me, except for Brazil. I managed to sweet talk Brazil into a friendship. Next I want to start a long game with a huge map and only 3 other civilizations.

Writing

Even my blogging suffered from my business last week. This week may be busy as well, with work, physical therapy, a meetup, and wedding plans. With writing blog posts, I can write a little and feel accomplished. The novel is harder.

Doing

Saturday morning two of my cousins took our engagement photos. They were more family photos since we included Indy. He did not want to cooperate. He’d only met the cousins a few times and I don’t think he remembered them. He’s been in a defiant stage and wants to say no to everything. I think we got a few good ones. When we were done, after Indy avoided my cousins the whole time, Indy decided he wanted to go home with them. He held their hands out to their cars. Okay, kid.

Much of Spinning Silver takes place in a frozen world, similar to the one in the cover photo. Photo by Jaanus Jagomägi on Unsplash.

 

Reading, Playing, Writing, Doing – August 5 Edition

Here’s a recap of what I’ve been reading, playing, and doing this week! It’s been a fairly low-key week. My fiancé took Indy to his mom’s (Indy’s grandma’s) yesterday morning, so I was able to have some alone time. As an introvert, this is essential, and as a mom, this is rare. It also means more time for reading and gaming!

Reading

song-of-achilles

Our pick for this month for work book club is The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. It tells the story of Greek hero Achilles from the point of view of his partner, Patroclus. Miller doesn’t hesitate to capture how terrible it was for nearly everyone in ancient Greek society, particularly women. My knowledge of Achilles from from the film Troy. I know how the story ends, but I’m engrossed regardless. My coworker liked it so much he’s already read another book by the author plus The Iliad and The Odyssey.

Playing

After a bit of fun playing our low level goblins, my fiancé and I decided to pick something to boost to 110. After all my talk of going Horde, we picked Alliance. He wanted to be a Gnome. He’s a Mage and so I picked a Draenai Warrior. I thought if I could tank we could more easily get into dungeons.

Flash forward to after I confirmed the boost when I remember why I never tanked before. I get lost. The tank always seems to be the person who knows where to go next in a dungeon and I am terrible with directions. I suppose if it’s too terrible I could switch specs or finish leveling something I started way back when. A healer this time.

I spent most of today’s nap time playing Civ 6. I have a special relationship with Civ and Sims games that involves buying the latest version right away, playing it at launch, then initially hating it and wanting to jump back to the previous version. Then I’ll let it be for a while until I get the urge to play again, and at that point I’ll be hooked. Sims 4 has been more difficult and I still miss some of the features from Sims 3, but I’m totally on board with Civ 6. The Civ games are a series I can see myself playing with my kid when he’s older. My latest game has been as Gilgamesh.

gilgamesh

Although, reading Song of Achilles has me wanting to play as Greece. I hardly ever Finish Civ games so I’ll probably start over!

Writing

Last week I wrote a lot of blog posts! I’m sure that will continue this week. Currently bouncing around in my head is a great idea for a fantasy novel, but I’ve been really itching to write a short story. Maybe I could condense the concept into something smaller. Meanwhile my in progress novel remains untouched.

Doing

We tried a new taco place: Stan Diego. It’s a joke, because the town it’s in is called Standale. There is a big orange VW van with surfboards on it inside which I think is supposed to represent San Diego. I’ve been there several times and never saw one. Indoor vehicles aside, the chicken taco was phenomenal.

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I normally don’t take pictures inside restaurants (unless it’s I’m instagramming my food, obviously). This time I felt the need to send this to my friend who lives in San (not Stan) Diego.

This morning we rode our bikes to a nearby park which boasts a play area for smaller kids. I found this appealing because I’m always terrified Indy is going to fall off big play equipment. Of course, the first thing he wanted to do was go down the slide in the big kid area. The tall one where the hand rail is higher than his head. He also climbed up the jungle gym, with me right behind.

The bike ride part was genius. It’s easier to get a toddler to leave the playground if he’s going in a bike trailer instead of the car.

What did you read, play, write, or do last week? I need to publish this post now–before my bedtime!

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.

 

The WoW Itch

I used to play World of Warcraft.

I used to be ashamed of it, too, because I was generally ashamed of being a nerd. I started because a friend showed me the intro video, and then I got my boyfriend at the time to play with me. I was a human warlock. We found a small guild and hung out with them mainly letting them bring us through low-level dungeons. It was all good until the guild leader started to get a bit weird.

We moved to DC and after a while got the itch to play again, so we switched servers and joined a casual RP guild, which unbeknownst to us was run by another DC-area couple. My happiest WoW memories were during this time. We met up with the guild leaders a few times and I became a guild officer. It was during vanilla and Burning Crusade and I remember having a lot of fun running Karazhan. It fell apart when my relationship ended.

When I felt the itch to play WoW again, I felt strange about going back to my old guild. In retrospect, it probably would’ve been fine. But instead I joined a different RP guild and had fun with them for a while running regular RP events and raiding in Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm.

I left them to start a new character, Horde-side, with some friends from work. That didn’t last very long, but I remember it fondly. I think this was around the time of Mists of Pandaria, and that whole expansion completely turned me off from the game.

When Warlords of Draenor came out, I thought I’d look up the old guild from Burning Crusade times. They were still around and had decided to get back into WoW after spending some time playing Star Wars: The Old Republic. I played for a few days. I wasn’t having fun. I apologized and quit, saying to myself:

This time it would be for good.

But now there’s a new expansion coming out and the hype train is trying to get me on board. What’s making it hard to resist is that I haven’t been able to find another MMO to occupy this WoW-shaped hole in my gaming life. This is really the topic for a whole different blog post, but I’ve tried Guild Wars 2, Elder Scrolls Online, LOTRO, SWTOR. I play The Secret World: Legends, but I play it as a single player game. Here I am, days before a new expansion, and I’ve got it bad.

I’ve got The WoW Itch.

I’ve missed it. I’ve felt like playing in the past, and always pushed it back with the thought “Nah, I said I’d quit for good.” With Blaugust starting, I’ve had the idea that I could try it for Blaugust and see how it goes. If I’m still having fun at the end of the month, I’ll continue. If not I’ll quit (for good for really for realz this time).

for-real

It would give me something to write about. It would be fun. Right?

If I play again, I want to play Horde. I’ve always loved Goblins in the game and never played one.

Would my fiancé want to play with me? Maybe, he’s been playing Diablo III every night for a while now.
My old character is still on my old guild’s roster, but as I said before, I want to play Horde. Even if I play Alliance, I’m certainly done playing a warlock.
Would I be able to find a new guild?
Would it be a complete waste of time?

Help me decide! Should I play WoW again?

 

Should You Play Video Games with your Toddler?

Some of my fondest gaming memories come from playing with my little brother. He’s 8 years younger than me, and I’d often let him shoot or fight while I moved the character around on the screen. What I don’t really remember is how old we were when we played together, and I’d like to know, because I’ve been wondering:

When will I be able to play games like this with my 2 1/2 year old? Could we start now?

Currently the only game I ever play “with” him is Pokemon Go. I’m not counting pushing him around in the stroller while I visit PokeStops. He likes to watch me do maintenance tasks like transfer and heal my Pokemon. (We refer to them as Pokemans at home, but I’ll spare you all.) He likes to click on the Pokemon so they do their little action and spin them around on the screen. It’s not much, but he becomes quite whiny when it’s time to be done, so I’m not inclined to do it with him very often regardless of how much he asks to see “Poke-Hands.”

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This tiny Snorlax photo was taken by Josh Hallett on Flickr. Isn’t it cute?

Should you let your toddler watch you play video games? Would this allow you to get a bit more gaming time in and bond with your kid at the same time, or would it just be frustrating for both of you? Here are a few questions to ask yourself to determine if this might be worthwhile.

Can your toddler handle watching without participating?

The latest episode of one of my favorite podcasts, Massively OP, not only MENTIONS THIS BLOG (!!!) but includes one of the hosts (Justin) discussing playing games while his kids watch. My child is not ready to handle this yet. I mostly play on the PC, and he can’t deal with being around someone on a computer without wanting to use the keyboard and mouse himself. This is completely understandable. He’s a toddler, and to him a keyboard is just a slab covered with buttons. How could he possibly resist?

You might get away with giving your toddler a spare keyboard or controller so they think they’re playing, even if their button smashing doesn’t actually do anything. You’d have to be sure they wouldn’t realize what was going on, or just want to use your controller for no other reason than it’s the one you’re using.

Is the content appropriate for your toddler?

I leave it up to individual parents to decide what content is appropriate for their children. If you really want to play something super violent and you don’t want your kid exposed to that kind of content, you might want to wait to play that particular game after they go to bed. Check your Steam list and determine if there’s anything you want to play that you feel comfortable playing in front of your kid.

Are you concerned about screen time?

Disclaimer: I’m not a pediatrician, psychologist, child development specialist, or parenting “expert” so if you’re concerned about screen time, I highly encourage you to do your own research. That said, I think if you’re actively engaged interacting with your child while you’re playing, it seems like more quality time than sticking them alone to zone out in front of a TV show.

In my personal experience, my toddler becomes a mini tyrant once the TV or phone is turned off. This discourages us from wanting to give him any to avoid the affront to our ears when it’s time to stop.

Do you just not want to?

In the podcast episode, Justin talks about how his kids issue instructions at him when he plays The Sims. Maybe you don’t want this. Maybe you want to make your own decisions and not have a high pitched voice telling you what to do for once. Maybe you just want to play your game by yourself.

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The Verdict

I’m passing on playing video games with my son for now. I think it will be something fun we can do together when he’s a little older, when he’s not ripping the keyboard out of my hands and throwing a tantrum when it’s time to put it away.

For those of you with toddlers, do they ever watch you play video games? How does it go? For those with older kids, how old were they when you started gaming together?