The Reality Of Millennial Life

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I have found, yet again, another anti-millennial video making the rounds on Facebook. It seems like an entire genre of op-eds somehow manages to sustain itself on boomer antipathy alone. This content is usually shared with a certain hubris, a “speaking truth to power” attitude which flies in the face of the actual power that millennials have in comparison to the economically entrenched boomers and Gen X.

I could, in theory, attract quite an audience by catering to this mindset. I could crib notes from op-eds all over the internet since they all blur together anyway. I could even sell it and say “just add ‘entitled'”. But, because I want to write articles that are informed and not merely masturbatory in nature, perhaps I can shed some light on the reality that underlies the life that millennials face in the United States.

Millennials are not dealing with an attitude problem, they are dealing with a wealth of sociocultural and economic factors that are making it difficult just to get started.

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Plato’s Digital Cave

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Admittedly, summer has been particularly slow in regards to blog content. Perhaps it’s the lazy days of the season that make writing out of reach for me, or possibly because I just didn’t have much going on that warranted a blog post. However, that has changed.

I’m going to talk about World of Warcraft and game addiction. More specifically, my own experiences with the game and what happened as a result.

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The Cost of Benefits

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This has been an article I wanted to write for quite a long time. I had to approach the subject matter with utmost care, because of the intimate nature inherent to this discussion. Naturally, this is going to discuss sexuality in a frank manner. I will mention some personal stuff, but I’ll try to keep it discrete enough so that the emphasis is more on learning from this than indulging in salacious details.

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Things to Look For In a Tabletop RPG

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I love Dungeons & Dragons, everyone already knows this. But, I found myself wanting to go outside of that game in both setting and mechanics. My players got roped into running a D20 Modern campaign, which was a bit of a shock to my players who were used to 5e’s more streamlined approach when they opened up the skill and feat lists. D20 Modern’s character sheet has been removed from Wizard of the Coast’s website, perhaps stuffed in its archive mode.

A Google search leads to a fan-made character sheet, and you can only find the books at game stores that sell used copies (Games and Stuff gets a shout out here) or Amazon. It was during my search for a system (which I will write about in an upcoming post since I did manage to find one) that I eventually came to understand something in RPG product reviews.

I found that many product reviews lack a lot of information that I personally wanted to know. Usually, they boiled down to discussing mechanics and general “feel” of the system, but would only bring up cost and such in a very basic way. So, I wanted to compile a list of criteria that I had for purchasing a tabletop roleplaying game.

Cost of Entry

Simply put, if one wants to actually start playing, what do they need? I often hear about prices for core rulebooks discussed as if they’re in a vacuum when you usually need additional implements such as dice to play. This usually means that I end up looking at the introduction to find out what else I need, such as decks of cards, dice, and so forth.

Partly because my players are college students, and also because I try to be budget-conscious with my gaming decisions, I tend to go for systems that are less than $30 to buy core rulebooks for. Even now, my players are still getting their own copies of the 5e Player’s Handbook, which is understandable when the only thing separating you from total starvation is Cup Noodles.

Ease of Use and Ease of Explanation

Some RPG systems require a veteran player to show you the ropes. This doesn’t make them bad, but it’s severely limiting if you have a player base that doesn’t consist of veterans and you yourself don’t have experience with the system. My nightmare with playing the Star Wars RPG by Fantasy Flight Games is such an example. I’m sure that if a veteran sat down with me and ran through the entire system that I’d eventually get it.  But, can a completely fresh group sit down and play through a setting without succumbing to boredom?

System Flexibility and Portability

Dungeons and Dragons and, by extension, Pathfinder are exempt from this rule because of their popularity. However, for other games, I’ve found system flexibility to be a key issue when determining whether or not I want to purchase a new system. Since every system takes time to learn, it’s better to have a few systems that you use a lot as opposed to many systems that are only used in select circumstances (unless you have really patient or voracious players and money to burn).

In fact, I found myself looking for a “Not-D&D” system, which could be used when modifying D&D was too impractical and I wanted something that D&D didn’t specialize in.

Of course, there are systems that are good at solving particular design issues, such as GUMSHOE which does investigative play.

Publisher Support

Of course, when you play a tabletop RPG, you are going to have to visit the publisher’s page to download a character sheet. Additionally, you’ll probably want to see if they have additional rules supplements, campaign settings, premade adventures.

Are the character sheets printer friendly? I’ve seen many times where an aesthetically pleasing sheet gets the axe from me because of the sheer volume of ink it would require (even worse when they make these sheets in color). Are they form-fillable in PDF form? They don’t necessarily need to be since you’ll be erasing and writing stuff down anyway, but it is certainly nice if you have poor handwriting and need to write in static content.

Is there an easily accessible reference sheet that players or the GM can use? One RPG I looked at, which had problems with book organization, compounded this by having no GM or player reference sheet. Something that can be inserted into a GM screen is extremely helpful.

Is there a free introductory adventure meant to acclimate players and GMs to the game? Does the publisher have a “Getting Started” section that helps potential buyers pick what they need to play? Are there introductory rules for the game that can be downloaded as a PDF and played free of charge?

Is there a System Reference Document? How thorough is it? Has some content been removed or expanded upon? Has errata been covered on the publisher’s site?

This is a particular bugbear of mine (pun very much intended) because I find that nothing sours me on a system than a website that’s difficult to navigate or that is lacking content. If I don’t feel that the publisher is really supporting the product, it’s hard for me to get invested.

By the same token, there needs to be an easy access point, lest a neophyte get inundated with the sheer number of options. Otherwise, people will have no idea where to start.

Community

But a game where people play together is only as good as the people who play it. How easy is it to find a community? Do they have presences on Facebook, Reddit, and other channels?

Are they exchanging house rules? Settings? How is the user generated content handled?

I must confess that Wizards of the Coast’s method of focusing on premade adventures as opposed to rules supplements was a strategy I didn’t understand very well until I looked at the corresponding community pages like DM’s Guild. In actuality, a publisher should not act as an opener of floodgates, showering players with content. Instead, there should be a mix of publisher and community support, creating an ecosystem where content can be shared.

So, I find this list to be something that I would use in any given review of tabletop RPGs, and eventually, I’ll submit some reviews of my own.

Can’t Spin This

fidget-spinner-2329469_1920Now that I’ve managed to recuperate from post-exam exhaustion, it’s time for me to return to the blogosphere. I have a lot to talk about, and today I want to start with something topical.

I have seen the fidget spinner craze, and there’s been a lot of discussion on the toy in question and I want to approach a byproduct of that craze. Shortly after the fad took off, I saw the occasional odd post that voiced outrage at how neurotypicals were taking a toy meant for the disabled and making it impossible for the disabled to use due to the bans put into place after fidget spinners became popular and overused in the classroom.

These posts didn’t sit well with me. While the people who shared them probably just did so reflexively (which I admittedly find troubling, but somewhat understandable), it was because something unexpected happened.

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A Series of Unfortunate Dates With Russian Women From My Spambox

 

So, as I mentioned yesterday, I received an invitation to find “hot Russian girls” and look at their private photo albums.

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The savvy user may believe that this is just a phishing attempt. These people are wrong. I found myself quickly entangled with several suspiciously attractive Russian women. So attractive that they defy photographs. You’re just going to have to imagine hot platinum blonde women with perfect complexion and those ushankas on. Ushankas are pretty sexy, I’d say.

I struck up a conversation with Alyona first, and we quickly found ourselves eating at a nearby steakhouse. I remember her little quirks, how she’d wiggle the fork just a little bit when she stabbed into the hunk of meat. Her accent was thin, just noticeable if you asked her to speak in Russian or if a loanword got dropped in.

As it turns out though, my conversational skills around Russian culture needed a lot of work. It probably didn’t help that I cribbed all of my conversation topics from “Talking to Russian Women For the Willfully Ignorant”.

I began with vodka. Can’t stand the stuff, personally. Gotta have it mixed with something else. But she seemed hesitant. I pulled out topics, Tetris, communism, the prevalence of the names “Vladimir” and “Sergei”.

The conversation really got going when we talked about Lenin’s tomb. She informed me, “No, Lenin’s still alive. I don’t get why everyone thought he died and is just being preserved. He makes a pretty good cup of coffee too.”

This led me to ask, if Lenin was still alive, what else did I not know? She enlightened me, “Political decisions are determined by playing Tetris.”

Tetris! It was genius! Why didn’t I think of that? What if Alexei Pajitnov just flew in by chopper to the Kremlin? He would bring with the gift of Tetris ports, except for the iPhone one because someone royally screwed that up. How do you screw up Tetris? Maybe he has plans for the producers at Threshold who are making a movie trilogy out of it.

At that point, I could feel the tension in the air. Foregoing our social graces, we started making out on top of the table while “Korobeiniki” played in the background. Sure, I had no idea what was going on but I wasn’t about to kill the mood.

We finished up at a nearby motel, but we decided it would be best to part ways for now. I will miss Alyona, but perhaps it’s for the best. Perhaps if I check my spambox, I’ll find the next love…

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Hmm, looks like I’ve got my work cut out for me….