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.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

God of War 2, Lost Planet, Neverwinter Nights 2, Gamertag Radio!

No, we don't have the demo of God of War 2 yet; hell we just stole the cover art from (the big man himself) Cory Barlog's blog. The men and women at SCEA have been literally killing themselves over making this game perfect for its launch. Literally. I think people might have actually DIED. Grandma envisions Cory three different ways whenever we talk about game development:

1. He's the strong leader type; bringing the army of artists, programmers and testers gifts of coffee and booze in a sly attempt to assess what they're doing and coordinate the effort.

2. He's the slave-driver, cracking his whip upon the bleeding backs of "the wretched", compelling them to work faster without deviating from his empirical vision lest they be punished in ways that better capture the mythological theme of the piece.

3. He's hiding under his desk weeping; rocking back and forth muttering something like the word "Kratooooos" while his coworkers desperately try to get him to drink liquids.

Who can be sure, really... All I know is that Grandma is looking forward to March.

And who isn't?! We have what she played at E3 to go by to be sure, and the press junket last May where Cory and David talked about what GoW2 was to be, but now we need something new to drive our highly rational, anticipatory high.

So all we have is the cover art of the demo. That's alright, we can work with just about anything, really. Let's take a closer look:

So, the first thing that catches your eye is this big scary statue thing with glowing blue shit coming out of its eyeballs. Look at that thing. That thing is pissed. It has its hair styled in a messy sort of way rather than the braided, straight look of the Archaic period, so we're guessing probably more Late Classical or Roman Hellenistic. This may suggest Kratos is kind of an art snob. And who could blame him! Braiding makes sense; gods can braid each other's hair in their off time, but to suggest there is some kind of immortal cosmetic coppersmith that could fashion a headband for a god is absurd. That thing NEEDS a Kratos style ass-whoopin'.

Next up you see Kratos looking like he's having a bit of a bad day. He's got that German pieta Jesus look to him that just says "This fucking HURTS, god DAMMIT!!", but that wouldn't be Kratos. He's definitely more of a Laoco├Ân figure this time around, but it's going to take more than a few snakes to take him down, and certainly more than a haphazardly manicured giant hand of Athenian marble, we'd guess.

Kratos' look of pain can only mean one thing, then. This game is going to be fucking HARD. God Mode? Forget about it. Cory says welcome to TITAN mode.

Hmmmmm..... I wonder what the rating is going to be! Picture Grandma scratching her chin in a very conspicuous, dramatic way looking toward the ceiling as though the concentration on this thought is so deep it forces her to divert her attention to the somewhat less distracting sky.

I just WONDER what the ESRB is going to rate this game! It's so not obvious, I just may lose sleep thinking about it.

Anyway, if you haven't already read Cory's history of making this game, from the moment he discovered he was to direct it, all the way to the beta testing and beyond, check out his blog. "He's one of the good ones" as Grandma says.

The Final Fantasy XII/Okami overlapping tale has repeated itself once again, this time with Lost Planet for the XBox 360 slowly taking over Zelda: Twilight Princess on the GameCube. Truth is, Grandma may have spent too much time on the mini-games in ZTP, so it's taking her longer than most. We'll update as soon as she gives her final thoughts on the game. Lost Planet so far is very.... Capcom. You'd know it was a Capcom game even if you never saw the opening logo. It's fantastic. But more on that later!

On the 10th, Godfree over at Gamertag Radio published their interview with Grandma and I for their podcast. You can find the whole thing right here. They silenced our usual slew of vulgarity, so the podcast is SFW for all you employed readers. Grandma talks about the next-gen console war among other things, and I ramble on about god-knows-what. It's worth a listen to get addicted to their podcast, which has always been cool.

Speaking of things that are absolutely cool beyond measure:

Annie, who incidentally is one of Grandma's first friends from all this, sent Grandma an early Birthday present. As I think I've mentioned before E3, she works at Obsidian entertainment now. She thought it'd be groovy to send Grandma a copy of their masterpiece, Neverwinter Nights 2. She also thought it'd be groovy if she got the whole dev team to sign the box.

How fucking groovy is THAT?! THAT'S AWESOME!

So that does it, I'm getting Grandma into PC games. She's reluctant, goddammit. She loves her consoles and will never abandon them. EVER. So I'd like to get her to play some PC games as well, starting with this PC game right here. She's played a few in the past, but she's convinced she's the Alan Grant of computer destruction. Besides! If I can convince her of the virtues of PC gaming, it will be the one thing for which I can take credit in her gaming history. Everything else that she's liked, she found on her own. Now I get to teach her something. It's kind of exciting actually! It's my new project. I'll document her progress here.

Until then, you can guess who's playing it. It's a lot like KOTOR! (Obsidian made KOTOR II so it makes sense now that I think about it.) I like.

Grandma took a trip down to Columbus yesterday to appear on "Finer with Age", a show developed by the Ohio Department of Aging and it was ..quite the adventure! (All went well, don't worry.) We'll have more on that soon. We have some more things lined up as well and if I can get my ass in gear I'll be able to relocate the site to a more dependable server so we can post more often; something that will suit our "upcoming plans." More videos coming, by the way!

Game on!

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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!

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