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.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Grandma not dead, doesn't want to go in the cart

It's not the first time something like this has happened; in 2005 I actually received a sympathy card. A single anonymous comment in a thread somewhere can trigger that sort of thing whether it's a joke or a misunderstanding or ...something, but allow me to clear things up right now by stating that Grandma, in every sense, be it biologically, cognitively and philosophically, is still alive.

She is not dead.

She's doing Science and is still alive.

She feels fantastic and is still alive.

Which brings me to the game Portal...

But how the hell can I talk about Portal when I haven't mentioned everything else for the past few weeks first?!

Dig: Evan emails Grandma to see if she'd like a copy of Halo 3. She was playing the copy of Blue Dragon he sent her so she's on sort of a Microsoft kick at this point; her poor Wii and PS3 just patiently counting down the days until she picks up copies of Metroid Prime 3 and Ratchet & Clank: Tools of Destruction, respectively. Of course, she quickly gets back to him to say something on the lines of "fuck yeah!" It came about a day after that. Seriously, it was quick. Evan, you're very much like Santa Claus, I hope you know.

As Grandma sat listening to inane dialogue spoken by the most annoying English speaking voice actors towards the end of Blue Dragon (which was a phenomenal game, otherwise) she noticed her friends list exploding with Halo 3 requests. Her friends list on Xbox Live is at capacity, and she hadn't seen nearly as many people play BioShock upon release as she saw Halo 3 begin to saturate the entire list, and she thought BioShock was pretty dominant. Even that one guy who only ever seems to play Texas Hold 'Em for hours on end was now available in Social Slayer. Simply put, she was as excited as the rest of us.

Now, here's the funny part: literally the DAY that Halo 3 arrived, as she was playing Blue Dragon, her 360 died.
Her second Xbox 360. No red-rings-o-death this time. It would just sort of... freeze then fizzle away. She tried a different controller. She tried resetting it. She tried letting it sit and cool down for a few hours. Sure enough, five minutes in, *poof!*
At least it was consistent. She tried Halo 3, thinking that perhaps the third Blue Dragon disc was just wonky. It got all the way past the opening cutscene for the single player campaign, but after just a few moments, the same digital-artifact laced frozen screen was all she could see, rather than the texture rich helmet of the Arbiter leading Master Chief's squad through a jungle to attack some Brutes.

Well.... shit.

To their credit, Microsoft got this Xbox 360 to the repair center in Texas and back to Grandma in about two weeks.

In the meantime, Grandma had some money in the PS3 wallet since buying flOw awhile back, so she downloaded the worst online poker game in the history of online poker games. I don't even know what it's called. All I know is that it's on their online store, and Grandma fucking hates it.
"You can't turn off the goddamn animations, so whenever somebody calls or checks or folds, you have to see them scratch their chins or look at their nails- I swear to god they must think all women who play poker want to be portrayed as bimbos or some damn thing. I mean, it's fucking POKER! It's a CARD GAME! I don't give a shit about the graphics, there really doesn't need to be much more than some decent looking cards and a table. What's all this other shit?! And even THAT sucks. I remember being able to character customize better on old Xbox games. And there's hardly enough people on there to play, although at least it doesn't cut out as often as the 360 did. I don't really like it."

When her XBox 360 arrived from the repair center, I was lucky enough to be the only one home (she was out shopping, I think). Shiloh barked at the door, which was unusual for Shiloh because he's not really much of a guard dog. FedEx guy had me sign for it, and in about two minutes I had the power supply, ethernet and AV cords hooked up and was signed in under my gamertag playing the first level of Halo 3. I remember finishing Halo 2 around the same time as the rest of the world, but it all came rushing back. The Covenant, the Flood, Truth, Cortana.... I completed Heroic later that night.

I think Grandma let me take over just that one day. It had been awhile since I really had time to get into a game; I'm always worried that if I start one I'll play into the night too late as she does and feel groggy and shitty the next day at work.

After that- it was all her. It took her a bit longer to finish a Normal campaign, but that's because Grandma deals with The Flood a bit differently than regular people. She can't just run through and get to the next checkpoint, she has to blast every last one of the fuckers until there's no little red dots on the radar, which isn't always the best strategy. She was pleasantly surprised that the online demeanor of folks in ranked matches has matured a bit. There's less body humping and people calling nobody in particular "faggot" and the match playback system is the stuff of genius. If you find someone who's really good in a match and want to see things from their point of view afterwards, to study it; learn from it- you can! That, and seeing newer players unfamiliar with different maps run repeatedly off ledges to their deaths is sort of enjoyable in some sick, voyeuristic way.

She's still trying to plow her way through the rest of the game.

But she has something else in her cabinet that's causing distraction: The Orange Box.

She's been waiting for that thing for a looooong time. She bought the Xbox 360 version because hey: Achievement Points are good.

It didn't take long to get through the infinitely wonderful Portal, although she still has a lot of medals and advanced maps to get through (without using YouTube to cheat a solution, as I shamefully did.) "What's the point of playing a puzzle game if you're just looking up how to do it?" she told me. She's worried that her reflexes aren't quick enough for some of the Momentum based jumping sections of the advanced levels, but I think her problem is that her frustration shows and affects her game (if it didn't I don't know how interesting this website ever would have been.)

She's started in the middle of the Half Life series, opting to play Episode 1 first, then Episode 2, then Half Life 2. Why? Who knows. I'm still trying to get her to play Team Fortress 2 as well.

We'll be talking quite a lot about Halo 3 and The Orange Box in the coming days, I promise you that.

Let's see, what else...

Ah: you've sent Grandma lots of links and videos recently of other older folks getting into gaming and to say the least, she's thrilled! We're going to be talking about that too.

And to our Australian readers (one in particular, you know who you are ;) Grandma will be appearing on the ABC television show "Good Game" here pretty soon, so watch for it- I'll be posting more about this as it comes in! Grandma and I are both huge fans of The Chaser's War; so we're all about ABC.

Also: the Jeep is back and repaired, the insurance covered everything, we found a hell of a body shop that did an incredible job, and that nightmare is over. My work schedule is much more structured now, so hopefully these long gaps in between posts can be eliminated.

We have lots more to talk about but if I try to cram it all in one post it's going to be bad. More on the way!!

Game on!

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