Mama Mia (Parenthood)

Just, Wow!

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I wish I could even begin to describe how busy I’ve been lately. There has been madness galore…and lots of Peanut to make it all worth it in the end. I have (too) many active scholarly projects all going at the same time and no time to get them done!

When the semester started I promised myself that I would work in the office until noon and then leave to go and work on my own writing…yeah right. It’s December and I think I have yet to do that. I find myself dealing with the madness of WPA-land until I leave to pick Pea up from baby school every day at 4:00-ish (usually closer to 4:30). My one saving grace has been that for the last month KL and I have been meeting from 10-3 on Fridays to just sit together and write. Since she usually gets there at 8:00 I could squeeze in another hour or two if I could just get my butt into gear (ok, actually Pea’s butt) in the mornings. I am promising myself all over again that next semester I will find time to work on my own writing every afternoon and not just one measly day a week!

Now to spend a little time working on a proposal before heading off to bed. And I promise that I won’t spend that time playing Fable III or Torchlight (which is $5 on Steam this weekend) which is my new obsession!

Extra Life: Gaming for a Cause

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My beautiful Princess Peanut was born with a duplicate thumb on her right hand. When she was 8 months old she had it removed at Riley Children’s Hospital in Indy. The good Dr. Havlik did her surgery and she still sees him regularly to have her progress evaluated. We have received good care from some of the nicest folks at Riley and I can only imagine how much more comforting that would be if Pea’s condition had been life threatening.

This year I am happy to be able to participate in the Extra Life Charity Marathon to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network and Riley.You can find my Extra Life Donation page HERE.

What the H*ll Were They Thinking??

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Have you ever seen something so INSANE that it was impossible to believe that you were seeing what you were actually seeing? I think that this was the reaction that most sane people (aka people who agree with me) had when they looked at the Purdue student paper, The Exponent, this morning. In, what one can only hope was, an attempt at humor, The Exponent ran a bit in the paper today called “Sex Position of the Week: The Prestige”. Now before I actually show you the bit I have to say that this bit made me sick to my stomach. As a woman, mother.human being I had a visceral reaction to this piece that included a desire to see the idiot who let this run punished academically, legally, and physically.

You all already know how I react to violence against women in games, but for a student (run) newspaper to run what is essentially a rape guide is not only ethically, but criminally negligent. I understand the thought behind having a student run paper, but when the paper demonstrates time after time that they are not responsible enough to make good decisions like not running sh*t like this (or fact checking, or spell checking for that fact) then it is time to hire a faculty/professional editor who has final approval lest it ceases to be a learning experience. Maturity and good decision making skills are things that come with age and experience, but this experience is something that shouldn’t come at the expense of any one group of marginalized people. For the love of God folks let’s get this under control. Image below the fold so as not to offend anyone’s delicate sensibilities and give you a chance to avoid it. Click the image to see it in it’s entirety.

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Mama, Gamer, Soldier, Spy

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I have been thinking about how being a parent has change me as a gamer for some time (2 years and 2 months to be exact) and every time I turn around I find another way that parenthood has changed my gamerhood. Now I finally find the chance to put some of these thoughts into words so that they can perhaps be reflected on more extensively at some point. So here goes!

1. This is the most obvious. Parenthood really cuts down on the amount of time that you have to play games. As Peanut gets older I find that I have a little more time since she sleeps through the night and can occasionally be distracted enough to let me do a little bit of gaming while she is awake. Now when she was younger and have acid reflux there was almost no gaming going on sans the little bit of handheld gaming that I could sneak in when I was supposed to be sleeping when she slept. I was too afraid to actually play games at enough volume to awaken a sleeping baby back in those days. I am a gamer, but I am not under any circumstances crazy.

2. While the old elementary school teacher in me (I used to teach elementary school, I’m not channeling an elderly teacher) often cringes when folks tell me what their young kids are playing. Don’t get me wrong I am not a prude and I know that some kids are more mature than others, but there are some games that are disturbing enough to me as an adults who supposedly understands the medium and the situations reflected in the games that I can’t see how a child could even remotely begin to fully process them. Hey, but don’t get me wrong…maybe your kid is a genius (mine is).

3. Situations with children in them in games are pretty difficult for me. 3 of the most notable cases for me have been Bioshock, Bioshock 2, and Heavy Rain. When I played through Bioshock there was no way that I could bring myself to harvest little sisters (yep, it’s as bad as it sounds) even if it could make my gaming life a little bit easier. I just sucked it up and played through as a mama of a little girl. When the trailer came out for Bioshock 2 came out it freaked me out enough to make me never want to play the game! The molestation undertones were just too much for me! Check out the video

[Spoiler Alert: There is a description of two chapters of Heavy Rain in the next 2 paragraphs. If you don’t want to see it, skip them :-) ]

And because I had a chance to see the trailer before I bought the game I was able to avoid a lot of emotional stress. And lest I think that there might not have been any real emotional stress and/or physical effect one me I have to think about Heavy Rain. The first night that I played Heavy Rain I actually had to stop playing after one chapter and go to bed because the game gave me a damned headache. After a particularly violent “boss fight” involving several men in my apartment (as I was dressed in my underwear) and a metaphorical rape scene my head was pounding and I had to go to bed.

Surprisingly, this was after the early child death scene. You know, while I enjoy a good “Jason!!” joke (and parody song) as well as the next gamer I really didn’t appreciate having my son Jason killed off at the beginning of the game (or having my younger son snatched by a serial killer a few chapters later). Good lord, this game made me the worst parent on the face of the planet. And besides feeling extreme guilt for the clear neglect of my virtual children it made me question/reflect upon what I would feel if this happened to Pea.That kind of thing makes me physically sick to my stomach.

Has parenthood turned me into such a wimp that I am going to be tossing my cookies every time some kid is collateral damage in a military shooter (I had no problem wiping out an airport full of innocent folks in another FPS…in fact I rather enjoyed it), gets lost in an action/adventure game, or gets snatched to advance a narrative? Are games getting too good at immersion? Am I getting too old to play? What the heck is going on?

4. Why is parenthood so hot in games right now? And why is it generally fathers? Big Daddies in Bioshock, Nier, the father saving the ailing daughter in Nier, Ethan, the father (albeit an ineffectual one), in Heavy Rain, Fable III where the main character is the child of your Fable II character who has become a ruler who has been wronged by his/her other kid.

Ok, that’s all I have for now. I have to go and make sure that I have all of the games and consoles that I need for my Writing and Virtual Worlds class tomorrow morning and a little bit of sleep would be nice after 3 days of a sleepless baby cutting 2 year molars. Why doesn’t someone make a game about that? They could call it Sleep Deprivation and it would reflect the levels of madness that one descends into when babies take over your house. I think that everyone should be forced to play (and complete) that game before becoming parents!!

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