Old Grandma Hardcore

This blog is the chronicle of my experiences with Grandma, the video-game playing queen of her age-bracket and weight class. She will beat any PS2, XBox, GameCube, etc., console game put in front of her, just like she always has. These are her stories. She is absolutely real. She lives in Cleveland.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Lumines II, Final Fantasy III, and more Grandma press

Grandma has been inching forward on The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess on her neglected little GameCube for the past week or so. She couldn't quite get into FF:III for the DS after finishing XII last month; the contrast between the Job system and the License Board system was just too jarring to make such a sudden switch. Besides, I think she had a bit of Final Fantasy fatigue after the last one. You can only play a single genre for so long before you get bored. That's good luck for me, however, because now I actually get to play something without her telling me how much further in the game she is. Between the two of us, Lumines II on the PSP is getting plenty of play (as is MLB '06 The Show; for whatever reason it just became addictive.) Evan sent us the codes for Lumines over XBL Arcade, but it just isn't the same without the full game.

Goddammit, I'll say it. Bottle Rocket is a guilty pleasure.

Here's Grandma's initial take on Twilight Princess:
Before I even tell you what I think so far, I have to ask you- please don't hate me. I love Zelda! I'm a Zelda fan! I've loved them from the beginning. Shit, Tim will tell you how much I got into Wind Waker. I'll admit I didn't like Four Swords too much, but other than that, I've watched Link grow up. I have to tell you that apparently because I see how much people pounce on those who suggest that Twilight Princess is kinda... ...mediocre.

It's not a shitty game at all, but it isn't what I expected. Granted, I'm not that far into the game, maybe only a third of the way through I guess, but from what I've seen I can't say I'm impressed. The graphics aren't too hot, for one. From what people tell me, The Wii version looks better, so there's always that, but I've seen some incredible looking games on the GameCube, so I'm not sure why this one is so choppy. Graphics are hardly everything, though. The controls are frustrating to say the least. Maybe it's just harder and I can't quite cut it right now, but it sure doesn't feel that way. It's just... ...frustrating! The button combination needed to attack something, put away your weapon, pick something up and run with it just feels weird. I HATE when Link turns into a wolf, which is strange considering how cool Okami was. For some reason it's just a pain to control Link-Wolf with Midna sometimes.

I don't know. Like I said, don't hate me, and I'm not that far into the game yet, but I'm going to need to finish this one before I can really have an opinion. Right now, all I know is: it's a bitch.

Grandma's playing it right now, riding a horse, shooting arrows at some flying something or other and damning the controller verbally. We'll get back to you as the situation changes.

305031015072. Apparently, that's the friend code you'll need if you want to taunt me while I'm trying to level up my FF:III characters. I can't imagine what sort of message you'd send, though.
"Hey, Tim! You're a goddamn loser! Look at you sitting around, mindlessly walking a little sprite around a screen until some arbitrary, meaningless number goes up a few digits. Say yo to Grandma- Peace!"

"Tim. What are you doing with your life? Anything important? Doubt it. Shout out to yer G'ma for me, LOL."

"Tim, you know what would be great? If this was a multiplayer game, I could totally whoop your ass. But it's not. So I'll just tap out this message so you know your ass would be kicked. That is, if this was a multiplayer game. But it's not. So I won't. Tell Grandma I said hello and such."

Leveling up is a staple of the Final Fantasy series we've come to accept and love, but Jesus Christ it takes forever to get their job levels up to anything usable. Ah, well. It's still fun!

Lumines II has a nifty new feature the first game lacked that adds the sense of excitement that public shame and embarrassment provides. Lumines II is awesome, there's no doubt about that, but when you find yourself turning down the volume on your earphones when Hollaback Girl starts up lest the rest of the otherwise silent denizens of the dentist's office conclude that you're a Gwen Stefani fanatic, you realize that some games really highlight one's insecurities. Really, I mean- who gives a shit if I like listening to some shitty Missy Elliot song, or the Black Eyed Peas' horrible resampling of Dick Dale tunes?! I don't care! Let the bastards think whatever they want to think!

And yet I still turn down the volume and angle the PSP ever so slightly so that some Middle Aged watcher of sensationalist nightly news segments doesn't confuse the beautiful game I'm playing with the "Playstation Pornable" material that would cause her to cover her mouth ever so delicately to stifle the exclamation "oh my word!" before she averts her children's eyes and starts to pray.

It's the fact that I catch myself turning down the volume that's most embarrassing of all. Grandma? Grandma doesn't give a shit. Grandma plays on MUTE. She's pretty much deaf and headphones aren't very comfortable for her. I couldn't imagine Lumines without the music.

The Press Conundrum.

Grandma has been around in quite a bit of press in the past month or so. The Newark Star Ledger did a lengthy piece on Grandma and the "phenomenon" of elderly gaming, which prompted WCBS in New York to call her for a short interview; Igromania Magazine had a HUGE spread on Grandma that garnered a lot of Russian traffic; Frauenzeitung Fraz magazine had an article on Grandma in the same issue they discussed the graphic novel "Persepolis" (which is awesome); Cleveland Magazine's January issue was just released, naming Grandma as one of the Most Interesting People in Cleveland (more on that in another post); NPR and the one and only Alex Cohen produced a short segment, which was picked up by Joystiq (who we love), but there lay the conundrum in plain sight in Joystiq's comment section:

2. I personally find it hard to believe that 25% of the gaming demographic is over the age of 50. Excuse me for a moment whilst I perform some research...

Posted at 11:01AM on Dec 8th 2006 by Unimental

OK, as of 2004... 19% of "gamers" were over 50. I put gamers in quotes since gaming can consist of consoles, PC, handhelds, and (what I think boosts the stats here) online quick-and-casual games like popcap et al. I would assume playing a round of solitaire at work would put you in this crowd as well.

Posted at 11:12AM on Dec 8th 2006 by Unimental

10. "kick butt with her grandson"

that makes it sound more like she watches him win and pretends it was her idea. i know the type (i am the type).

Posted at 11:37AM on Dec 8th 2006 by spoot

20. 25% of all gamers are over the age of 50

I CALL BULLSH*T!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted at 12:09PM on Dec 8th 2006 by JimmyHACK

23. Another bullshit research such as some Nielsen recent ones: they mix "gamers" of traditionnal PC/consoles games and "casual gamers" of free online games.
But it is trendy those days to say crap like "there is more women 18 to 35 playing than boys 12 to 18..." and so on.

Posted at 12:26PM on Dec 8th 2006 by gabur

26. I should have gone with God of War: Bed Pan Prophecies. That's better than Splinter Cell: Geriatric Showdown.

Posted at 12:53PM on Dec 8th 2006 by matthew

30. "She has 13(!) grandkids"

Thirteen grandkids isn't really that many...my grandma has almost 40....

Posted at 2:38PM on Dec 8th 2006 by Chyld989

The NPR piece didn't mention Grandma's nickname or MTV or even this site, which is fine in that we don't make any money from this site so traffic fluctuations aren't hugely important. What's surprising is that it's been what, almost two years now for Grandma's press, and Doris Self has had a lot of mentions, and there have been a ton of segments about adults playing video games, and adults waiting in line for PS3's and Wii's and 360's, and adults playing in tournaments, and the benefits of video games for adults and yet even NOW, when the industry itself says the target demographic is 18-35 year olds, people STILL say it's all bullshit and games are for children and immature teenagers.

So..... why the hell do people think this is such a rarity, anymore?! Grandma was not the first, she's just the most recognized. She's not the best, she's just the most recognized. She's not the oldest, either. There are MANY people just like Grandma out there! So all this press, all this attention, millions of people reading hundreds of sites and newspapers and watching syndicated news segments, and some people still think it's unusual to see an older person (or a woman, for that matter) enjoy gaming means that the problem must be with us. We're not doing a good enough job at getting the message accross.

So we're going to have to get better then, aren't we? :)

Game on!


  • At 3:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Here, here!

    BTW, Tell Grandma to do the hot springwater barrel sidequest from the Goron outside of Malo's shop in Kakariko before donating for the shop to open in Castle Town, saves 10x the rupees!


  • At 5:41 PM, Anonymous Annalisa said…

    Well, my own research tells me that 36% of the commentors in that blog entry are stupid sacks of shit. But I know it's trendy to say that. :)!

  • At 3:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I don't care what the polls say about Grandma or gamers. I hope I can be gaming when I'm into my silver years just like her!

  • At 9:31 AM, Anonymous naruto_sucks said…

    I think Twilight Princess is the best Zelda game since Ocarina of Time, but it also does look, at times, like an N64 game.

    The dungeons are brilliantly designed, and you get some really cool gadgets like the Spinner, Ball and Chain, and the Dominion Rod. Looking for Heart Pieces, Golden Bugs, Poe Souls, Hidden Holes, Hidden Skills, horseback combat, fishing, it is all incredibly fun in my opinion. After playing Okami, I felt that Wolf Link came up short, and felt a little too similar to that game, but oh well.

    I beat it last week, with everything collected. I hope Grandma gets into it more, and I think she will if she keeps playing.

  • At 9:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Grandma's awesome!

  • At 2:51 AM, Anonymous Stu said…

    I have to agree that Wolf Link could have more action, but Twilight Princess is truly a great Zelda game, and belongs right up there with the rest of them. Sure, graphics could have been better, but they were still pretty impressive, especially lighting. Do you know how rare it STILL is in games to not only have a shadow that looks like a character, but matches its movements, too? Having beaten the game, let me tell Grandma, wait for the spinner dungeon (fast, frenetic action) and the City in the Sky, when you get a second Clawshot. Initially, I was like "Another clawshot? How uninspired!" But when Link starts playing Spider-Man through dungeons, it adds a whole extra dimension. As far as the controls go, they could be smoother, but they do get easier as you adjust to them. I beat it (not finished) with only about half the bugs, half the heart pieces, and half the Poe Souls, and that took around 40 hours...I'm sure I've got that much to go just to complete everything. Hang in there, Grandma. It gets better...the final fight is one of the longest boss battles ever in a Zelda game...the phrase "Aren't you dead, YET?" was something I said often trying to finish him off.

  • At 6:48 AM, Anonymous Jen (blackroseowl) said…

    I don't think those people have a clue what they're talking about when they say that older people aren't gaming. I think it's just fashionable to be pulling statistics out of your arse and say "hey, this proves my point!" when it doesn't prove anything.

    To me, the truth is that a gamer is a gamer, regardless of age, gender or choice of game. (Though I would tend to question Solitaire as 'gaming' to be honest.) It's strange that they didn't mention anything about Grandma considering they were talking about her - maybe because they didn't want to give any actual information that would lead back to the blog and the videos and actual proof that she is indeed real and a gaming genius? Feh on them if that's the case. Cowards.

    Sorry to hear that Zelda isn't what you'd hoped for - maybe it's just that it's on the Gamecube, as you said. Maybe the game was designed mainly for the Wii and they didn't put enough work into redoing the controls for the cube? I don't know. Still, as you said, you haven't gotten far into the game yet so it might get better once you get the hang of it.

    Hey Tim, I'd love to friend you on my DS if only I knew how. (I am not good with that kind of thing, especially anything more complicated than "this is the on switch, now go for it") If I ever do, rest assured that I would send a nice message because you bring us such an awesome blog. :-)

    As for turning down the music on Lumines? Yeah, I do that all the time, but mainly to avoid irritating anyone near me with the constant repetition. It doesn't bother me, but it's gotten on the nerves of a few people I know, so in deference to them I turn the sound down (or off completely if I have to.)

    Game on!

  • At 11:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I live in Jersey so I saw the article on the front page of the ledger. I'm glad you have the article so I don't feel guilty not scanning it for you.

    I'm mostly a PC gamer, but I also heard some not so great things about Twilight Princess. Oh well, I hope it picks up soon.

    Game on!

  • At 1:47 PM, Anonymous Blue said…

    Ooooo I got it! I was pondering what games to suggest that Grandma has not already taught a severe lesson to (which is difficult, as I am so behind on my gamingness already that new ideas are slow to saunter into my skull) but I think I have it.

    Sub-option: Has Grandma played Bully yet? I've heard interesting things, but I'm reserving a final say for the OGHC on the matter.

    MAIN option: Rogue Galaxy! New RPG by Level 5 (Dark Cloud 2, Dragon Quest 8) that is cel-shaded and RIDICULOUSLY beautiful, from what I've seen so far. Heck, when I first watched a video of it, I was only able to make useless, high-pitched squeaking sounds for a little while after. Sci-fi fantasy with big ol' airships - a bit FFXII, true, but my curiosity and the good things I've heard compel me to place this option down reverently.

    Oooo, and when you get a Wii - pick up Rayman: Raving Rabbids. The bunnies are so lovably psychotic, and the minigames are so ingenious... I know it's out for the PS2, but I honestly can't imagine playing for any other system than the Wii. The enjoyment of a properly thrown cow, or face-plunger'd bunny is so... so visceral on that system, that I can't imagine diluting that joy.

    Anyhow. Very, VERY happy to hear from you guys - and got something neato coming your way before long. Need your new address! ::grin:: Take care, be well, and GAME ON!


  • At 10:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I was going to send you some mail in FFIII but it turns out both people have to have the other's friend code added in their address book for it to work. Bah.
    If you're looking to exchange some letters through mognet (and enjoy the completely asstastic interface they have for pecking out text) my friend code is 133232734514. Hope you're enjoying the game :)

  • At 11:45 PM, Anonymous rpm said…

    I have to agree with Grandma on Zelda. I just got it for the Gamecube last week. A good chunk of the time, it seems like I've played this game before. Bosses and dungeon puzzles seem ripped right out of Ocarina.

  • At 4:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I think the Vanguard: Saga of Heroes is going to be released on Jan 30'07. Already the BC expansion World of Warcraft Guides and News are released on Jan 16 '07.

  • At 1:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    without ever visiting this page before, I Applaud OGHC. She, without a doubt, is a telling the story of the young generation when they age. This, a rare occurance today, will appear so much more once the Video game generation reaches old age. We're Gonna be 80 Years old playing our XBoxes asking "Has anybody seen my doctor dre CD?" I think your awesome OGHC.

  • At 7:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I was extremely happy to read about
    elderly people playing videogames.
    All my contemporaries think this is
    a very odd hobby.
    The only one who shares my interest
    is my 6 years old grandson. He phones
    me every night to hear about my progress with the new Zelda, which I love.(I'm just about to enter the
    water temple)
    My other favorites are the Snowboard
    games. I'm still on the Gamecube, but I'm looking forward to buy the Wii consol.

    Greetings from Sweden
    Grandma Inger

  • At 1:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    my friend code is 025862379814.I just droped my Ds getting the code.

  • At 2:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Fuk ya'll ZTP is the best game ever made ya little wrinkled bitch granny

  • At 3:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    CAN that shit about Zelda TP!

    That game is the fucking bomb and your probably just a friggin n00b anyway so, well, if there was an online Zelda, i would make you eat from my ass.

    By the way, get Super Smash Bros. Brawl and tape a match of online play versus me. I will enjoy seeing you cry as your little shaky character gets served uber-pwnage from Macho Link.


  • At 1:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    hahaha laugh-my-fucking-ass-off


  • At 4:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I suspect you and she would enjoy it far more on the Wii. Better graphics, true, but more importantly a far better control system. The Wiimote works perfectly for Zelda, and unlike the Gamecube controls, you never feel like you had to do some awkward sequence of buttons to do something. Nothing ever requires a multiple-button combination, either. It feels highly immersive.

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  • At 3:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    yaaaa zelda wasnt that great (well twilight princess ocarina of time kiked a22)

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  • At 4:54 PM, Blogger ignacio said…

    abuelita,desde españa esperemos que te mejores,un abrazoo y a seguir viciandose!!!!

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    That grandma is my new and best idol!
    I wish I had a grandma like her, I'm still impressed to see the level she's got to play my favorite video games, She is really awesome!

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