Archives for posts with tag: fun

I was playing Alter Ego last night during an unintentionally extended break from studying. It’s a text-based RPG (role-playing game), somewhat similar to those Choose-Your-Adventure books, where they tell you to turn to page X if you want to do this, turn to page Y if you want to do that, except you’re not playing a predetermined character by the author. You’re playing yourself.

Instead of earning gold to buy swords which can hack up a Level 150 monster, Alter Ego takes you through the various stages of normal, unspectacular, human life — infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, etc. — and in each stage, you have a wide, wide range of possible choices, and your decisions will ultimately impact your future. In this way, the game achieves its goal to provide a place to imagine what your life would be like if only you did X or were more like Y.

The one qualm I have about Alter Ego is that they just don’t allow you enough turns per stage. This means that you don’t get to experience all the possible scenarios of each stage per run of the game, and I feel that’s just not enough to complete what you’re supposed to complete in each stage of life. For example, I was finally able to get through all the “college experiences” I needed to graduate…by the time I was in the OLD ADULTHOOD stage. >.> Would I even need a college degree by that point?

That the number of turns is limited is probably why the game is so short. I did not want to die yet (“there’s still so much I haven’t done!”), but there was no other choice: My time was up. They congratulated me on my death. I closed the browser window with the feeling that life is really transient. Did I not just run through a person’s entire life in a couple of hours? I was born, I grew up, I grew old, I died. Everything passes…so quickly. And it makes you think how fast real life passes you by too; in my case, I’m almost finished with another year of university! How can that be possible? I haven’t done that much yet!

Reflections aside, Alter Ego is a refreshing take on a fantasy-dominated game genre. Sure, there’s no images, but a game that is so personal in nature would not work with petty graphic representations. Try it — I’m sure you’ll like it. See what your life could turn out like if you make the same choices as you do in reality now, or become the exact opposite of who you are now…and see if your life turns out better (or worse). Perhaps you’ll walk away with some interesting reflections on life that may help you in reality.

After sulking through a green Christmas and an abnormally warm New Year’s Eve, we finally received real snow this past Friday evening. By real snow, I mean, “snow that doesn’t melt as soon as it comes in contact with asphalt.” In fact, we had what looked like a good foot of snow.

By Saturday afternoon, I could not resist; I donned my clunky snow boots and went outside for a walk.

What surprised me was all the snow that was left untouched. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in an age where Internet and video games were too costly or not as widespread, but when I was a kid, if you went out to play in the afternoon after a snowstorm last night, there would no longer be any fresh snow for you to play in. This was especially true during the weekends, when kids would literally just wake up, eat breakfast, and run outside to frolick in the snow. I was and still am a night owl at heart, so by the time I got outside, I had a hard time to find a perfect canvas of snow to make snow angels in.

Not yesterday though. There were plains and plains of marshmallowy snow everywhere, and while I was decidedly hesitant about plopping down and rolling around in it, I had no qualms about trampling all of it. I’m pretty sure I got weird stares when I was walking in the untouched snow drifts on either side of the cleanly shovelled and salted sidewalks, but hey, they should be thankful; I’m clearing snow for people who feel like jaywalking and those who need to get their snow-buried cars!

On Thursday, I lived a day as a dog owner.

Well, less than a day. And it wasn’t a complete experience — I didn’t have to wash him, feed him, or brush him — but still, I had a feel for what taking care of a dog was like.

My friend recently adopted a small dog, and she invited me out with her to walk her dog, Teddy. At first, I was a bit nervous about this, as I was slightly scared of dogs in general due to all those stories of them attacking people. Also, I’ve never had any friends who owned dogs until now, so I was unsure of how I should interact with dogs.

Thankfully, Teddy was very friendly. He excitedly licked me as soon as he saw me (I really had to make an effort to keep my face away from him), and was totally content in letting me walk him… Well, totally content in being able to walk me. I let Teddy set the pace for the walk, so I was walking behind him as he happily skipped ahead. I actually had to feel sorry towards my friend, who was walking behind us (she had to carry his water and food, so it wasn’t quite her fault for falling behind). But, thankfully, Teddy was conscious enough to turn around and check if my friend was still there, slowing down when necessary to wait for her to catch up. It was heartwarming to see that such a bond had already formed between them in the course of two weeks.

I came to the conclusion that dogwalking would be a satisfying and enjoyable workout (at least with Teddy, as he’s a ball of energy), if not for a few things:

  1. Teddy stops every ten minutes to make his mark (i.e. pee) somewhere. While I understand that this is a natural thing for him to do, it’s not particularly suitable for a good aerobic workout: I want to keep walking! Thankfully, the entire process doesn’t take too long.
  2. Teddy hates squirrels. At the mere sight of one, he barks and will probably try to climb up a tree to chase it. You have to coax and drag him away, or else you might as well be standing there for the next hour. I’m sure not all dogs are anti-squirrel though, so this wouldn’t be a factor with other dogs.
  3. Meeting other dog owners is a tricky business. It’s okay if the dogs are just interested in sniffing each other before going their separate ways, but sadly, a meeting can become quite aggresive. By the end of the walk, I found that I became apprehensive whenever we were approaching another dog, because who knows what kind of reactions we’ll have to deal with?

But those things aside, I wouldn’t mind walking Teddy again at all.

During my two hours as a “dog owner”, I also received a crash course in dog ownership when my friend got into a conversation with another dog owner we met at a park. Granted, it wasn’t terribly exciting dialogue, but the encounter was certainly entertaining, as their dogs were weaving around our legs, alternatively sniffing and avoiding each other.

As much as I wanted to keep playing with Teddy, I was glad that I actually wasn’t his owner. I found out — from walking him, watching my friend care for him, and the “crash course” — that dogs require a lot of attention and work to care for, especially since you’ll inevitably develop a tendency to spoil them.

But hey, I totally wouldn’t mind being a part-time dog walker. I think that would be awesomely fun.

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