It's been a long time, stranger!
I suppose I should tell you right now: it's my fault. I haven't posted close to a year now. There really isn't a good reason for that. There's a lot of bullshit spam in the comment section on older posts that I haven't cleaned up. There isn't a good reason for that, either.
You deserve an update and more.
The short of it is Grandma is doing just fine, for the most part. She's played quite a few games since we last spoke. At the moment she's exploring Fallout: New Vegas on her 360. I finally found full-time work again and I am happy to say I am a staff photographer at a great newspaper.
When I read the last few posts, I feel like a giant piece of shit. Final Fantasy XIII? Let me tell you something about FFXIII: it almost killed Grandma's love of gaming. Read them again, if you have the time- it's classic denial. Who were we trying to convince that it would get better? Well, ourselves, honestly. But we couldn't admit that back then. How goddamn embarrassing.
By the time Grandma finally said "fuck it" and moved the BluRay disc into its case that final time so it could properly be placed in the dark, shameful recesses of her archives until the aluminum oxidizes and the earth opens and consumes the plastic along with my car and polite society, she wasn't just disappointed, she was depressed. Maybe even a little hurt.
We remembered E3, all those years ago, at the Square-Enix booth. We remember passing up everyone in the huge line for the trailer preview because of Grandma's privileged status as a handicapped person. We remember feeling like kings as we sat in the front row and offered drinks and sandwiches while everyone else filed in to be dazzled by the teaser a few hours before everyone else on the internet. And now we look back and wonder:
Did they know?
Were there some Square-Enix executives behind a curtain, carefully watching our reactions and thinking to themselves "perhaps we can take their $59.99 without destroying their souls" only to be answered-
"No. There is no other way."
Except for Texas Hold'em and the occasional round of Catan on XBLA, Grandma didn't touch another videogame for weeks after giving up on FFXIII.
She just stopped caring.
I remember driving her to the grocery store one day and she actually said "I don't think I want to play videogames anymore."
That's how serious it was.
I recognized that point instantly as one of those moments that could brand me an asshole if I reacted the wrong way. I never pushed Grandma into gaming, (she was always the one pushing me, as it happens) and I wasn't about to start. So I didn't say anything, really. I decided I wasn't going to buy her some new game and socially manipulate an obligation to continue a hobby she had lost interest in simply because that hobby had defined her to millions. How goddamn sad would that be? If she was done, she was done.
A week or two later she bought Just Cause 2 on a recommendation from Packwolf.
She was back.
And she was back heavy.
This was a game that would have her playing for months. She didn't know it then, but that one save file would be her longest. She bought the strategy guide too but quickly found it was was the most worthless guide since "protip: shoot at it until it dies."
Grandma is one of those 100% gamers that just have to get every last motherfucking collectible and this game's map was ridiculously huge. It had that perfect little balance of actual gameplay and Pavlovian stimuli. 100%
100% of a town. 100% mobile radars destroyed. 100% gang missions. 100% skulls. 100% drug drops. 100% radar towers.
And a note on those radio towers: it got to the point where, when Grandma and I drove from place to place, in life, she would point to a red and white painted cell tower and say aloud: "you know it's weird, I just.. I really feel like I have to blow that up. 100%!"
She didn't get that one 100%. But she came damn close. Turns out there is this plane that, if you didn't get it before clearing a specific Military Airport, would disappear forever. Once she discovered that, it seemed pointless to search for hours and hours for the last couple water towers hidden deep inside the vastness of the map.
After Just Cause 2 came Call of Duty: Black Ops.
This seemed a bit harder to Grandma compared with Modern Warfare 2 but she enjoyed it enough. Her only complaint was a repeated one, that these games are way too short in campaign mode for those uninterested in multiplayer matches.
I think Halo: Reach was in there too, either just before or just after, but she finished them both so quickly, or at least comparatively quickly to Just Cause 2 that I can't quite remember the order.
She played Deadrising 2 for a little while, but was distracted by her awaiting Christmas present: Fallout: New Vegas.
That's what she's playing now. It's much harder than Fallout 3. Even the V.A.T.S. system can't save you when your weapons suck and you've wandered into an area on the map for which you're just not ready. She's having a ball.
And I promise, I promise I'll post more about it in the days to come.
As for me, I work and sleep. Sleep and work. And Civilization 5.
Seriously: FUCK YOU, Wu Zetian.