Sometimes you just gotta Skyrim

So my thirty loyal readers may have noticed I missed last week’s post. This is hardly so surprising, since my cadence lately has been more fortnightly than weekly. (Crazy to think at one point I wrote blog posts daily, or even more than daily! They were shorter, and not amazingly well thought out or written. As opposed to these posts… um, yeah.)

I often have really good excuses of why I’m too busy to do something. Sometimes I go through these periods where my schedule bounces between insane and crazy with only period stops at out-of-control. But I have to be honest with you – last weekend it was the video game Skyrim.

Lots of people are having a hard time right now. Across the Caribbean, there are folks who are struggling to keep body and soul together. Many are leaving homes they may never be able to return to, in the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and other smaller locales. Houston and Florida are still drying out. The West is burning. The air is unbreathable and the flames have claimed more than 35 lives. We refuse to even admit that global climate change is a problem, so it feels like there’s little hope of fixing it. The Dreamers wonder if they’ll be sent to exile in countries they do not know, whose language they do not speak. And there is fear, anger and hatred on every channel, Facebook check and news article. Heck, even the sports news is bad around here. The US Men’s Soccer team won’t be going to the World Cup, the Red Sox went down early and easily and the Patriots are not looking quite like the machine they once did. Also, football nastily kills or maims the boys who play it for our entertainment, so good luck enjoying that.

I’m a gamer, and we describe the characters we play using attributes. So for instance, your Cleric might have a 16 wisdom, a 13 charisma and a 10 strength. You would roll a 20 sided die to try to do something, and if the number is under your attribute you succeed. If it’s over your attribute, you fail. Sometimes, you get things that temporarily modify your attributes (like poison damage) that make it easier or harder by increasing or decreasing your attributes. So instead of a 16 wisdom, if your character say gets drunk, they might have a -2 modifier that means there wisdom is temporarily only a 14.

That’s a really long digression to say – I feel like everything I’m doing right now has a -3 modifier for the state of the world. Sure, I still usually am fine. But things that used to be easy are harder. And hard things feel almost impossible.

Generally I try to be a good steward of my time. When the weather is beautiful, I try to drag my kids on hikes. I exercise. I read. I make time for friends. I cook meals from my farm share vegetables. I LIKE video games, but I don’t really play video games because I carefully write thought-provoking blogs posts instead.

But man, these last few weeks my coping skills have run out, my well has run dry, and I’ve wanted nothing so much as a problem I can solve with a few fireballs and flame atronach. Grey had a sleepover for his friends last weekend where they mostly played video games together. And honestly? There were a million things I probably should’ve been doing. But what I was doing was getting my character up to level 29. I feel guilty. I actually think video games are a pretty bad way to recharge. A good book, exercise, clean living… much better ideas. But I’ve just run out of the will to keep making these healthy choices as often.

So if you’ll excuse me, I heard from a guy who used to be an adventurer like me (until he took an arrow to the knee) that there’s a dragon near Ivarstead that needs my attention.


How about you? There must be some people out there pleased at the way the world is going – are you one? If you’re not, what are some of the coping skills you’re using to face your every day?

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Not their target demographic

There comes a point in your thirties where you start answering survey questions, and you realize that you are (more or less) telling marketers to ignore your feedback. When you have to pick the “34 – 45” option instead of the “25 – 33” option… your preferences and ideas have just become a whole lot less interesting.

One of the great moments in one of the great video games of all time

I was having dinner with a friend who helps create computer games the other day. This is a guy who actually has some decision making ability about which video games get made. I was telling him what computer games I loved, and what I desperately wished his company would make. And over the lobster mac and cheese at Lucky’s he looked at me and said, “Yeah, those were great games. But you’re just not our target demographic. To be successful, a game has to be a hit with 15 – 25 year old males. We can’t afford to make games they don’t like.” So not only am I not a video game designer’s target demographic, I never was one. If they made a game (I’m thinking of YOU “Black and White”) that I loved… well it was practically by accident. Later versions of games I loved almost always emphasized my less favorite parts of the game and entirely scrapped the cheerful world building I loved.

That got me thinking about how often I am not the target demographic. The truth is that in most media, I’m not the target demographic. I don’t like violence. Right there, I’ve made myself not the target demographic for 80% of movies. I don’t like meanness. That rules out all the remainder but a handful of Pixar films. Although there are definitely movies I could like, I’m not the target demographic. The movies I would enjoy are rarely being made. And if they are, I’ve already tuned out and don’t watch them.

They don’t want to impress me

Or when you’re standing on the street, and a guy drives by who is *so selling his image*. He’s in a low-riding car with a custom exhaust and a sound system that can deafen you at 20 feet. He’s got tinted windows (rolled down) and is slouching in a seat, not wearing a seatbelt and looking at the world with a jaded eye. My thirty-four year old Protestant-white self clucks and tongue and thinks, “Who are you impressing? You’re not impressing me!” Then I remember: I’m not his target demographic.

I used to work in the same building as Cambridge College

I’m not the target demographic for most bus ads (I already have a degree, thanks.) I’m not the target demographic of our local Red Sox radio station, which seems to find it impossible to avoid misogyny with even ONE of its talk show hosts. I’m not the target demographic for the salons that dot my town offering increasingly esoteric forms of hair removal and supplementation. I’m not who they’re talking to, or who they’re trying to reach.

It can almost be depressing sometimes. So few things – or people – are really designed to please and entice me. How can you be important if no one is even trying to sell you something?

When I get it that mood (usually after a trip to Gamestop trying to find something I want to play – where I am also NOT THE TARGET DEMOGRAPHIC) I remind myself of the delightful flip side.

They’re not MY target demographic, either.

These handsome guys are MY target demographic!

That guy in the car? He doesn’t impress me, but I don’t feel the need to impress him either. No platform shoes or tight dresses for me, thanks! That judgmental person I run into who has something bad to say about everyone? They’re not my target demographic. Those beauty magazines that tell me that I need an expensive and time consuming regime in order to be acceptable? I’m not their target demographic either. My husband loves me the way I am. I look better than I “have” to in order to be promotable at work. My church family will not look down on me if I wear last season’s styles. My neighbors will invite me over after bedtime to hang out even if I have a mis-allocation of hair, according to the latest trends.

So although it can be sad that so little is made to suit me, I am more than compensated by my liberation from having to impress those elements of society that are most oppressive!

Who is your target demographic? And which group do you wish would pander just a little more to what you want?

Ahoy, maties!

When I was in fifth grade, we got this computer game called Pirates of the Carribean. Happily (from my perspective) I came down with chickenpox and had to stay home for a week. I certainly had the pox, but I wasn’t that sick. I spent the entire week, in the middle of an unusually frozen Northwest winter, playing Pirates. It was awesome.

I have realized lately that I’m not hitting flow in anything at any point in my time. I pump every two hours at work. I am pulled in 20 directions when I’m home and usually do chores until I drop. I don’t even get to settle into sleep. I get woken up between two and six times a night by various dependents of mine. (On a bad night, that includes the cats.) I desperately want, need, to get completely absorbed in something until I am no longer conscious of the passing of time.

This is why, I think, I was so desperate to find a good computer game to play. But I’ve played all the ones I know I like until they didn’t quite fit the bill. Either I was bored with them or I knew they weren’t quite what I was looking for.

So last night, babysitter available, my husband and I went in quest of a video game. We struck out completely at one Gamestop. The second was better, but noticeable scarce on PC games. So we decided to stop by Target before admitting we’d been skunked. And guess what? They had the best yet selection of video games for PCs. And they had the 2006 remake of that pirates game.

Arrr!!!!

You’ll be glad to hear that before bed yesterday, I managed to become the 7th most feared pirate. I have yet to locate any of my missing relatives or buried treasure, but that comes next, assuming I can keep the troops from mutinying.

It feels GREAT to just veg out in front of the computer for a bit. I just wish there was another day or two of weekend!

Grey adds:

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