Today is my youngest sister’s 20th birthday. All the kids, including me, are now in their early 20s and it becomes more apparent how close we are in ages when I look at the numbers: 24, 23, 20. We’ve grown up together, have witnessed many events, many triumphs and tragedies. I don’t feel so old myself anymore because we are all in the same pool now. As we march across the threads of time, people around us rise and fall. Relatives we’ve grown to love (and sometimes hate) all of a sudden are gone. It’s surreal to think that I am now about the same age as my former fifth grade teacher was. She’s in her thirties now and it would be perfectly normal for us to date, if the whole teacher-student weirdness wasn’t attached. Of course, I could have aspired to teach that same class I was in but decided to pursue other things. I don’t know what grade she is teaching now or if she would even vaguely remember who I was, but all I can say is that she was the only teacher I knew who gave out “Bonus Points” during the year for good deeds the students did.
Life is all but one big cycle. You are born, grow up, get old, die, and re-fertilize into the earth. The birthdays along the way are like little checkpoints marking your progress in a level. A graphic may flash across the screen saying you have reached “Level X”. You can’t restart the game of life or even pause it to get a breather but you can revisit your past achievements and highlights through the aid of videos and journals. Like the Sims game, you have essential bodily functions like hunger, sleep, bathing, comfort, toilet-time, and social life to fulfill. If you fail to take care of one of those levels and let them drop to zero, a consequence (like missing work or peeing your pants) happens. In video games, you can die and simply restart and try again, but in real life there is only one shot and it is what you make of it.
In the game of life, there is the main quest you follow, associated with going to school and trying to figure out your career path, and then lots of mini-quests. Mini-games and activities like dancing, drinking, sex, and being a total jackass are fun ways to extend the games replayibility. Yes, spellchecker, I know that’s not a word. The correct term for being able to play a game over and over again without getting bored is replay value. Or you could simply say “replay ability”, with the words spaced, but that’s not as catchy or short enough for today’s quick thinkers.
The game I am currently in the midst of playing right now is Dragon Age: Inquisition. It came out in 2014 and received high praise from most of the top gaming companies. This game has much, much replay value because you can play as different characters and build relationships with other NPCs. What you say and do has an effect on the outcome of the game. It is an open world game like Skyrim and is similar in appearance, even down to the Old English sounding town names. The AI isn’t as complex though and you aren’t going to end up having guards chase you across the land after you stole a sweet roll from someone’s stash. This game is in my possession because of a zombie like walk through the store to the games and electronics section in the back. I was browsing the games section and looking for something to feature on my YouTube gaming channel. This game was within my budget and after reading the info on the back and being thrilled by the cover art, I decided to buy the game. The man behind the counter asked for my ID because this game is rated M for Mature, so I fumbled through my wallet for it. After finally fishing it out of my wallet full of cards, I paid for the game, hoping that this was really worth buying and I would enjoy it, which I definitely do, even if the game on a PC can be slow and laggy at times.
Back to my sister. I just want to wish her a happy birthday and the best on her future life a few states away from me. As I told her on Skype “once you enter your 20s, your childhood is forever in the rear view mirror and there is no where to go but forward.” Not actually those words but close. From now on, the road ahead and what you do on is all up to you.