Cursed to Wander

Until recently, my 3-year-old boy was up every day at least an hour before anybody else. Because he gets upset and noisy if left alone, we’d usually end up on the couch downstairs, quietly playing Xbox games until it’s time to get everyone ready for the day. A perennial favorite of his was Farming Simulator ’22, a game I have come to loathe.

When we first tried it, I attempted to genuinely engage with the game, even though I didn’t find the subject matter very thrilling. My boy just saw a big tractor on the game thumbnail and got excited about that. I did a bit of the tutorial, moving between different farming equipment and getting a grasp of the controls, and then we discovered the Red Truck.

The Red Truck is a 1980s pickup truck that comes with most new save files, and driving it around became the only thing my boy wanted to do. From a certain point onward, if I tried to do any actual Farming, he’d angrily demand that we return to the Red Truck. Since it’s not the real point of the game, however, the Red Truck’s driving physics are terrible and there’s almost nothing to do that isn’t directly related to farming activities. Which I wasn’t allowed to do.

After a long enough time aimlessly driving the Red Truck around the game’s (pretty big) map, I began to slowly lose my sanity and imagine my farmer character to be in some sort of digital hell. Homes, stores and buildings can’t be entered, and peering in windows reveals the same couple of distorted, forced-perspective images. There’s very light traffic, and it will simply stop dead if interrupted, until the path is clear. Pedestrians walk serenely and silently around sidewalks and trails, but disappear completely if you try to make contact. Some roads lead out and away from the community, but you’ll be abruptly stopped by enormous, floating red X’s. The radio stations play generic, lyric-less music with no commentary or ads between. Time itself drags on during the day, or skips ahead by months when you sleep.

Again, I know these things aren’t the point of the game — it is first and foremost a Farming Simulator, and this isn’t a developer with the resources to make a ‘living’ world like Red Dead Redemption 2. All of the preceding is largely the rambling of a sleep-addled mind. Please ignore it! Farming Simulator characters are not self-aware and do not suffer in their silicon prison.

Let’s talk about a tumblr post that knocked me off my feet a couple weeks ago:

I’ve always been somebody who didn’t want to “wear out” the stuff he enjoys. I sample, I savour, I almost always stop myself from really indulging in the things I like as much as I want to. I have a fairly strict system for rotating the shirts I wear because I don’t want the ones I really like to get worn out “too soon”, whatever that means. Recently, I was putting clean dishes away and decided I should be stacking the clean plates on the bottom of the existing stack, so that we don’t use the same four plates over and over, but spread the usage evenly.

My kids don’t have this, and it’s hard to watch; if they get a sticker book they are absolutely gonna put those stickers everywhere and on everything, and not worry about “using them up”. Because sticker books are mass-produced and there will be more! And they’re having fun! I have to work hard to rein in the impulse to stop them.

That’s why this post hit so hard. I re-read it multiple times on the day it came across my tumblr dashboard, and then thought of it daily for a week. “Your life should not be a museum” and “Being alive is as special an occasion as it gets” are amazing ideas. I have decades of habit to work against, but I’m trying. We’ll see what happens.

Thing I Saw: Some Canada Geese strutting across my workplace yard, honkin’ it up. Reminder to give those guys a wide berth, everybody.

Thing I Learned: Lori and I started the latest season of the British panel show Would I Lie To You? and across two episodes I have guessed correctly Zero times. Apparently I no longer have any ability to discern if somebody is telling the truth or not.

I’m Grateful For: Speaking of Lori, we got to celebrate our 12th wedding anniversary!

There is a lot going on in this video and it’s pretty much all great