Dude, where is my…?

Posted 8 years, 8 months ago at 19:34. 2 comments

I am like the sea turtle that has swum for hours and now arises to the surface to catch my breath. For about a month I have been submerged in the world of The Sims 3 and thesims3.com Of course, I have eaten, I have gone to work every week day, I’ve fed my cat, emptied her cat box and I have occasionally attended a social event, but otherwise I’ve been glued to my computer playing the game. Finally, after months of waiting for the delayed release, reading up, calculating trait combinations and finding TS2 meaningless due to the knowledge that TS3 was soon going to be released.


Since many of the things promoted by EA tend to have more bling than real content, I enter The Sims 3 world with mixed feelings, of curiosity and skepticism. Soon I find myself being totally fascinated by the large customization options in CAS, specially the option to make fat sims. And I’m not talking about a bit healthily chubby fat option like the one in TS2, which made us regular humans look enormous. I’m talking real life, full figured, curvaceous fat sims! From going from a mainstream barbie-doll sim in TS1/TS2 this really gives you potential to create all the type of sims you can think of. It takes me a while to get past the CAS actually and I spend days trying out different trait combinations and trying to make the personalities reflect on their looks. I go ahead and do the usual things, like creating a sims-self and my husband, I’m really disappointed that I can’t regulate the length of a sim, since one of our characteristics as a couple is that he is quite tall and I’m a bit on the short side. Of course, we turn out much better and young looking than IRL, it was all idyllic and boring so I create our negative counterparts.

The community is quite active and I chip in with my quota of complaints as everybody else. To my surprise a lot of players are quite upset with the new game mode and the so called story progression feature. I secretly love these them, although I admit it was a bit strange to get adjusted to it after playing TS2 for so long. The sims community has always been known for being very creative and even though the modders and mesh-creators have disappeared (hopefully they will be back soon), the builders are thriving. As it is right now I do not even bother to look in the Exchange, unless for patterns and buildings. The landscaping is fantastic and one can really be creative with the tools together with some few cheat codes.

All is fun and dandy this far, but when I am building my first great mansion I find myself unable to decorate all the rooms in detail. I am quite the pedant in decorating and I like making each room different from the other, I admit the customization of the items help a lot here, but if you put the same items with different colors/patterns in all the rooms it is still the same items. There is not even one single vase in the whole decorations department! Further, some real classics are missing, where is the hot-tub for the spa area? Where is the piano for the music room? What about the Hula lamp? It turns out that you can buy the Hula lamp from The Store, but I’m reluctant to buying anything from The Store just yet, there is something fishy about it. It is no big secret that EA is out to make the most money as possible, the question is whether they will play dirty or fair. I get the feeling that if I spend all my simpoints now on things, they might come with a future EP that I may want to buy anyhow in the future. So I will just wait, and see. Lets see who can outsmart who on this!

Lonely in Azeroth

Posted 8 years, 8 months ago at 09:39. 1 comment

After a couple of weeks of halfheartedly trying to get back on track with my WoW gaming  I realize that the problem isn’t that I’m so far behind with my enchanting or my fishing, or that I don’t have enough money for my epic flying mount. The problem is, that even with several thousand players in Azeroth…. I feel lonely. I mean, I am a warlock so I have my pet, but Khazzem is not much of a talker. It’s the harsh reality, suddenly I’m 13 years old, new at school and trying to find a place to sit in the school cafeteria. Most of my old guildies have moved on, and even though we keep in touch through a chat channel, it is often very silent and people are busy doing other stuff. I run around Northrend on my Dreadsteed killing mobs here and there but it just doesn’t give me that satisfaction as it used to. Where is everybody? Have all reached level 80 and are raiding with their great guilds?


At university a couple of friends and I managed to create a guild and play every Monday after school, it was perfect. We were five, each picked a specific class, we had tank, healer and dps in perfect balance. We also picked different professions so we could help each other craft things and we did instances and quests always together. Like most good things it didn’t last, it was the usual, we had the hard-core gamers that wanted to play more and the not so enthusiastic that actually were playing just for fun (hehe, you would think that is the reason everybody would play a game). So we joined a larger guild and then the circle of friends in perfect balance was dispersed. It is funny how in a large group of people one can feel so lonely, but for me it killed the fun, I didn’t know anybody, and was known by nobody. It just got impersonal.

But, to remedy my loneliness I decide to put my 70 warlock on hold and make a priest. In my experience priests are popular, you would get invites to instances high and low and everybody would want to invite you to their guild. The only problem, for me, is, the priest class has always been my nemesis. I think during the time I’ve played WoW I’ve must have created at least 20 priests that I’ve never got over level 20. I would really want to have a shadow priest at level 40 at least, but they are so boring in the start, but what the heck I give it a try.

As you may have guessed it gets boring. I had forgotten how low level groups tend to be full of newbs that make it impossible to do any low level instance, it just isn’t worth the hassle. The game is fun in its self, but really, the forte of WoW is the socialization, if you don’t make friends you might as well be playing off-line. So I give up. I decide to move my main to another server where I have high level friends and join their guild in the hope of being raiding sometime soon…. as soon as I get to level 80. It feels quite sad to leave my old server, I have to disband the guild that I once created and leave the idea of ever bringing it back to its time of glory. Good bye cruel realm!

The Endless Civilization

Posted 8 years, 11 months ago at 23:38. 2 comments

It is hard to speak to a non-gamer about gaming without getting that look where they try to decipher if you are a total addictive and antisocial lunatic. Even in this “day and age” I still get suspicious looks when revealing my hobby to the regular mortals. Especially as an adult, don’t expect the topic to be welcomed say at a couples dinner, or the family dinner. If you are a gamer, you probably have an addictive personality and will ruin your life if you continue. Actually, I have even heard from gamers, especially when talking about MMORPGs, complaining about how addictive they can be. An old co-worker once described WoW to be evil and bad for your health. Most of the time, I don’t listen, if you can’t play in moderation you probably can’t drink, smoke, eat, work, watch TV in moderation either, we all have our weak spot. My Mr Hyde, for example, comes to life in the calm and lush, turn-based world of Civilization.


I can frankly admit that my gaming reached a whole new level one summer when I was working in an amusement park. I would quit work around midnight and head home to play until 5 in the morning, then sleep for about 7 hours, get up as early as possible to play a couple of hours before heading back to work. That was my routine for the whole summer and the game that got me hooked was Civilization III, a co-worker had lent me his game and it was like opening Pandora’s box. Still today, playing Civilization IV - Beyond the Sword, I find it to be the most addictive of all the games I have ever tried. “Just one more turn” - has been the constant mantra that has gotten me glued to the screen. But don’t get me wrong, if I recall correctly I almost never manage to finish a game, my addiction comes from the need to restart the game over and over again.

The most unsatisfying aspect of this is that at the end of the day, I have accomplished nothing, no great civilization has been formed, I will be left with this empty feeling of… of boredom. One of the  attractive things of playing computer games, in my opinion, is starting with nothing and building something grand. Weather it is a city, a civilization, a nation, a character, a family, a hospital… I can even appreciate time spent away from the computer where I could refine my grand plan to later set in motion when I get the time. My problem with Civlization is that I seem to never be entirely satisfied with the options I have chosen for the game, so I end up restarting new games all the time. It is very rarely I load an old game when I sit down to play, I usually already have a new idea of a great way in which I should build my new civilization. I’m not sure if it is the nature of the game, with all the different options, or my compulsive idea of wanting to create the optimal civilization, to make all the right decisions.

I usually spend a lot of time choosing a map, it should be challenging and with variation, and I have a special fondness towards maps that enable settling cities to block the enemies from passing into large masses of land.  Climate and sea level can also make a difference to the whole game, but at the end of the day the choice of leader and of civilization (”unrestricted leaders” enabled) is what makes the whole thing so tricky. I pick a leader, start the game and play for a while, but I often find that I have early on made some bad decisions. If it isn’t that the opposing leaders are overly aggressive when I haven’t prepared my defense very well, it’s that I prepare for conquering other civs so much that I don’t put any effort in culture. Sometimes I restart because I feel that I have a map that makes everything too easy on me, or the contrary, that I find my self trapped and without resources. It might be that I expand too fast and end up in serious financial problems, or that I expand too slow and the other civilizations are suddenly huge compared to mine. For whatever reason I always end up restarting the game!

I will not take a stand to weather computer games are addictive per se or weather it lies in the personality of the human in front of the keyboard. I think that soon enough people will accept our behavior just like they seem to accept that people are glued in front of the TV all evening. MMORPGs are not evil. So what if I get stuck in an endless loop of turn-based decisions and have to ask my husband to drag me away from the screen? At least I’ve quit smoking.

Girls Play The Sims and Boys Play WoW

Posted 8 years, 11 months ago at 09:49. 1 comment

During coffee break at work the other day I was once again reminded of the hierarchies of gaming, and how you can loose status depending on the games you play. I am always happy to participate in a discussion about computer games but early enough someone makes a comment about The Sims and classifies it as a girls-game. The room is full of male programmers around their 30s and they all comment and nod, agreeing that that is the case and somehow that it makes the game less of a game. Firstly, I do not see how it would be negative for a game to be a girls-game, but somehow it fell way down to the bottom of the hierarchy established by the group, just by that comment. I go through my mind all the things that once have been classified as girly, and yes, it seems that when done so these things are seen as either lame, undesirable or something that people don’t want to be related to. Secondly, there are boys that play The Sims, anyone that has ever visited any The Sims forum or site would know that. But hey, people say all kinds of things without having a clue!


Sitting there, holding my cup of tea, I get a feeling of déjà-vu, this is certainly not the first time I am surrounded by male computer geeks who act condescending about typically female things. You would think the universities were blind and deaf when they wonder why there are so few females that apply for the developer programs. When I went to university I bought myself an Asus G1S and brought it to class all proud and happy, I was soon surrounded by classmates, but when I had turned it on and they saw that I had chosen a pink background, the sentence was set: “You can’t have a computer like that and put a pink background on it!” “You are killing it!”

When meeting male gamers, it is quite delicate to break the ice when revealing what games you play. I found I was easily accepted into the geek family by male gamers when I said that my favorite genre was historical strategy games, apparently heavy geek material. Voicing that I played WoW  also generated a sense of understanding and acceptance among the males, but if I said that I played The Sims a chill breeze would sweep the room and they would freeze sometimes staring back at me. Some would snap out of whatever thoughts were crossing their minds, in a way realizing they could not be voiced, and explain very diplomatically that they wouldn’t know if it is a good game or not since they had never played, but sure, why not….

Back at the office, of course, being the only human of female gender in the room, the eyes of the group turn to me, some are smirking, some stare attentively and in suspense. I realize that they expect a reaction from me, some kind of defense for something so offensive? Actually, I don’t find it offensive, the same way that I don’t get mad when someone says that I run like a girl, or that I scream like a girl or that crying is girly. Because, and here is the secret, I am a girl (well a woman by now), and I am happy about it. I usually try not to drag myself into these type of conversations, but well I ask: “Do you mean that guys do not play The Sims?” The same, smart guy, that previously shared his opinion about The Sims answers that guys do not play The Sims, he explains, girls play The Sims and guys play WoW. Well, in that case, I rest my case.

This is the beginning is the end is the beginning

Posted 8 years, 11 months ago at 08:01. 0 comments

I wake up in Shattrah, it looks deserted and lonely, not a night elf nor a human are seen anywhere. I’ve always liked the mornings because of the calm of not having to deal with people, only me, my wand and the fields, but this feels spooky. My guild has been disbanded, I’m the only remaining member, but I can’t let go, the sense of responsibility and nostalgy makes me stick to it. What once was something to be proud of is now an empty shell of old memories.


I mount on my Snowy Gryphon and find the bank to get on with my business, so many items that I’ve saved and collected are now worthless, some things I don’t even remember what I was planning to do with. I fill my bags with some of the items and go and sell them at the Inn. I soon realize that I’m not totally alone, some one is lfg for any heroic through the trade channel, of course there are also the regular jokers that are quick to respond “lfg sleep” or some other pointless lines. Another is lf enchanter, which I remind myself that I am, I SHIFT-click on the player and see that it’s a level 80. Hmm, it’s been a while, I’m only level 70 and I never maxed my enchanting skill, I have a lot to catch up. I decide to take a portal to Stormwind to check the Auction House and see what mats I can find.

How deserted Azeroth mat feel it doesn’t take long until I get whispered by some un-pronounceable human that wants to sell me gold, I guess not much has changed after all.

Back in Stormwind everything feels better, the old music, the green trees and sense of happyness that surrounds the city reminds me of the old days with the guild. I mount my Dreadsteed and I feel invinsible again, I’ve always prefered it to the flying mount. I guess getting the Dreadsteed through the quest chain was more satisfactory than grinding gold for the flying mount, which by the way now is worth very little. I look at my enchanting tab and remember that it was the Fel Iron Rod I needed to get last time I was here, I wonder how much I’ll have to pay for one of those now.

Standing in the AH an arrogant night elf looks at my gear and laughs, commenting about my Frozen Shadoweave set. I worked so hard to grind the mats for those pieces of gear, maybe that is what killed the fun of the game, the grinding for those primal waters.