Stress Toys for Kids?

We know stress is bad for creativity.

Turns out, stress is really bad for a lot of things, most especially your heart. Let’s remember that heart disease is the number one killer in the US for both men and women.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that some of the top “toys” of 2017 are actual stress relievers for kids.

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On the top toys list…

I want you to think about that for a moment. Kids are so stressed, that top toys for Christmas are basically colorful versions of adult stress aides. In the top 20 toys, there are four different items that are designed to help reduce stress.

WTF?!? I mean seriously, when did it get to this?

Sure, yeah, I get it. Kids have never had an idealistic existence. Once upon a time, less than a hundred years ago (1938, to be exact. My skeptic wonders how much of that was to keep kids from taking adult jobs in the Great Depression rather than to protect kids, but I digress), poor kids worked to help support their families. Okay, poor kids worked so there was food on the table.

But in 2017 middle-class America, which is what these advertisers are marketing to, I was blindsided by seeing anti-stress balls marketed alongside “twins” for your child to play make-believe with.

I’m not entirely sure when this happened, but I shouldn’t be shocked. The most stressful years of my life were high school and college. I had to make excellent grades in high school to get into a good college.

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Being smart wasn’t enough. I was a poor kid and needed scholarships. And I wasn’t getting special treatment because my parents were alums anywhere. So, I had to be in sports, volunteer, find ways to make myself stand out.

I don’t remember there ever being a weekend where I had nothing to do. I’d try to get homework done on Friday night and Saturday morning so I could at least have Saturday night. It seldom worked. All this while making it through the coursework and trying to find my way through teenage hormones and a far less than ideal home situation.

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But I did it, and then came college. Now everything was on the line. I wasn’t going to be working for the rich family I didn’t have (unlike some of my classmates), so every future employer was going to be looking at that GPA for the rest of my life. It didn’t matter that my grandmother died or I had a massive allergic reaction to something that almost closed my windpipe. I had classes to attend, projects to finish, and tests to take. All so I could get a job at the end to pay back the loans I still had to take.

Yeah, I remember those days. And not fondly.

Apparently, the stress on kids is starting earlier and earlier. I’m not entirely sure why.

Perhaps because 44% of American children are living at or near the poverty line.

No, I didn’t mistype that number. I actually looked it up several places to verify it. It shocks me. And it saddens me. To climb out of poverty, to try to focus on school and work when you’re hungry, maybe that’s why people are buying a stress ball for Christmas.

For the other 56%, some are saying it’s because kids are too busy. Parents are so focused on trying to give them what they’ll need to succeed, that kids aren’t getting any time for relaxation and play.

This feels a lot closer to what I’m seeing. Now that I have kids, I see how much of my life is taken up just getting them to where they need to be. Once at dance class, soccer, or swimming, the kids are now in organized activities with a whole new level of stress on them. How good am I at this sport or activity? Am I good enough to compete? What do I have to do outside of class to get good enough?

When I was a kid, we couldn’t afford such things. Frankly, only the rich kids in my schools ever did such activities. Now, it’s expected of parents to provide these enriching experiences.

All of this is before you add in the stress of trying to figure out things like how to put your dress on the right way each morning. How to make new friends on your first day of school. How to handle peer pressure. And everything else kids have always faced.

I know how I feel about this, but I’m not really sure what to do about it. Children aren’t mini-adults. They do so much learning through play. I worked my tail off and waited until later in lie to have them because I wanted to give my children a good life. Not a life that includes stress balls for 5-year-olds and high blood pressure medication when you graduate high school.

 

How about you? Have you seen this phenomena? If so, how have you addressed it?

 

Unique Birthday Gift Twist

This year, I’m attempting something different for both of my daughters’ birthdays. Rather than get them a pile of store bought stuff they’ll love opening, play with, and forget, I’m trying to be a bit more thoughtful.

They each usually get one larger present. One year, this was magna-tiles. Who knew magnetic plastic could be so expensive?!?

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For the hours of play over the last two years, worth it, though.

Another year, it was a My Little Pony castle. I wish this would’ve been as worthwhile as the magna-tiles.

This year, both of their main presents are being created by artists from Etsy. It’s required me to plan well in advance of birthdays as most artists have a four to six week lead time, but I’m hoping it’ll be worth it. I want to give them something unique, but it also feels right to know you’re supporting an artist rather than a plastics factory.

We’ll see how it goes when I get the items, but so far, almost everything I’ve bought from an artist on Etsy has been spectacular. You can tell that they care about what they’re making.

Of course I’m hoping the girls will love what they’re getting.

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We’ve all gotten gifts like this.

Okay, it’s not going to be as bad as shown above. These are artists, not me, making the gifts.

More than just liking the gift, I’m hoping it’ll spur their imaginations and bring them to new worlds. I love watching them play with dolls, action figures, or blocks. Listening to the stories they’re making up, the reason they’re doing whatever they’re doing.

It’s a writer’s dream.

They’re literally acting out all the amazing imagination running through their heads. Making their pretend worlds come to life.

Frankly, another thing I really appreciate about Etsy is that nothing I’ve ever bought there makes noise. Or has an on/off switch. Or requires batteries. The gifts I’ve selected will appeal to things they already like, but it will require the girls to use their imaginations.

While there’s nothing wrong with electronic toys, and goodness knows they’re going to need to know how to use electronics.

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DD1 will already be using an iPad in her kindergarten class. But I also feel like this has gone a little too far. Does the fisher price school bus have to make a series of noises? Does every stuffed animal have to talk?

Volume controls and on/off buttons are nice, but does every toy need this in the first place?

I like to see the kids use their imagination. I love seeing where it takes them. They even snitched my stuffed green dragon, which I still haven’t gotten back, for some escapade or another. They love that dragon, and all it does is sit there. No roaring. No talking. No breathing fire. Just a plain stuffed green dragon to take them wherever their imaginations want to go.

 

How about you? Do you find your kids or grandchildren toys to require too many batteries? What do you think of current toys or the classics? Ever got a child a handmade gift before? How did it go?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knights: Code of Chivalry

The Knights of Valor are a prominent part of my fantasy romance novels. Why? Because I like the good boy, the knight in shining armor, so to speak. While I don’t feel the need to be rescued, thank you very much, I’ve always been drawn to the white knight.

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While the Knights in my stories live by a moral code directly tied to the god they serve, that code wasn’t created in a vacuum. I’ve never listed the code these Knights follow, because that wouldn’t exactly keep the story moving in my novels, but their code is very much based on historical precedent.

Real knights in the days of yore had a code of chivalry that they were supposed to follow. How many did, well, that’s another post. The punishments for not following it, again another post.

While many parts of our past are lost to us, The Song of Rolland documented the code of chivalry during the time of William the Conqueror, around 1066 AD.

1066 AD Code of Chivalry

  • Fear God and maintain His Church
  • Serve the liege lord in valor and faith
  • Protect the weak and defenseless
  • Give succor to widows and orphans
  • Refrain from the wanton giving of offence
  • Live by honor and for glory
  • Despise pecuniary reward
  • Fight for the welfare of all
  • Obey those placed in authority
  • Guard the honor of fellow knights
  • Eschew unfairness, meanness and deceit
  • Keep faith
  • At all times to speak the truth
  • Persevere to the end in any enterprise begun
  • Respect the honor of women
  • Never to refuse a challenge from an equal
  • Never to turn the back upon a foe

Sounds a lot like what we’ve come to expect from knights that followed the code of chivalry. A few of these seem redundant to me, and a few seem too bravado for my Knights of Valor, but I did think through all of them as I was creating my own code.

The speak the truth at all times gives my Knights of Valor a great deal of trouble, and from time to time, they may have even had to interpret that a little creatively.

In my fantasy world, being chosen by the God of Justice to be one of his Knights and following the code of chivalry imbues certain holy powers, including the ability to channel the god’s power to smite evil. But that’s fantasy. I could see how some of this code could really hamper a medieval knight.

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There are other codes of chivalry, including the one espoused by the Duke of Burgundy in the 14th century, but it’s not really all that different from the list above. The code from King Arthur’s court is perhaps the most famous, though much of this is shrouded in legend. The lack of solid facts makes it fun to write about, but more subject to interpretation.

More interesting to my mind is that such a code had to be written. That many things which seem like basic values had to be spelled out. But then, it was another time and Dracor, God of Justice, has not always reigned supreme in human history.

 

How about you? What do you think of knights and codes of chivalry? Ever see any in a book you especially liked? Or maybe you think the whole thing was bunk and prefer the knight that follows no code?

Book Review: Her Viken Mates

Book: Her Viken Mates

Author: Grace Goodwin

Viken

This is not my normal reading fare, as you may have noticed from my other book reviews. I am not entirely sure why I picked it up.

Okay, that’s not true. I do know. It was curiosity, plain and simple. It appeared in my Amazon feed, and while I was intrigued, but didn’t buy it. The book then intruded on my consciousnesses during my drive home, and as I had some digital credit with Amazon, I decided to give in to temptation and see what it was all about.

 

Characters

These are flat, one dimensional characters. Expect no growth because you’re not going to get any.

 

Plot

There was one. Somewhere. But it’s even less important than most other romance novels I’ve read. The plot is as one dimensional as the characters, and I’m actually somewhat surprised how contrived it was. I was shocked how quickly characters believed a heroine from another planet who was there as an interstellar bride. There is no real reason for them to do that. Nor is there a reason that the villain would do what they did or give their hand away as they did. But, you know, plot wasn’t what this book was about.

 

Steamy Scenes

This is why you’re reading the book. The novel opens with steamy scenes, and the steamy bits probably take up at least 50% of the story, maybe more. It does include multiple lovers simultaneously, and I have never read anything like it, though I know this is not uncommon in romance. Just uncommon to me. As far as I can tell, the author handled it well.

 

Writing Style

While the writing was just okay, it was relatively free of grammatical and punctuation errors. It was also properly formatted to the Kindle. When she did a jump in PoV, which she did often, she used a new chapter and labeled the chapter with the person whose eyes you were now seeing through.

 

Themes

Despite the fact that this was really just an excuse for steamy scenes, there were some pretty interesting themes running through a book that was mostly steamy scenes. Issues of trust came up time and again, but more than just trust, it was also about consent. This played throughout the book. I was pleasantly surprised by this. There was never even a hint of rape culture in the book, and while rushed, it did let the heroine explore her sexuality without guilt. Rather, her mates encouraged her to explore it.

 

 

 

My Recent Obsession with Weather

I’m not sure where my recent obsession with weather originated. Yet, I was glued to the screen watching what happened first with Hurricane Harvey and then Hurricane Irma. Was this going to be the “big one”? What were people doing? How were they coping? Were they going to be okay?

I was pulling for them and their pets.

I watched all that happened during the storm, and then I watched the efforts afterward. Read about people coming together to help their fellow human. It brought tears to my eyes.

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Yes, this line of boats made me choke up a little.

Maybe it’s been all the negativity I’ve felt for well over a year. I tuned into social media not long before the election here in the US. It was a constant bombardment of negativity.

Then came the election.

Then came the new administration, and I’ve felt like there’s a new kerfuffle every week.

This isn’t a blog on politics, so I’m not going to get into that, but what I will say is that my stress level has skyrocketed during this time. I’ve actively tried to tune out the media and news, but that’s easier said than done even if you’re a casual Twitter or Facebook user.

As I think through this, perhaps it comes down to a part of me looking for a “villain” we can all hate: the weather. This is an impersonal thing, not someone doing horrible things to others for reasons they feel are justified.

And, more importantly, it’s something we can all rally against. There’s no politics involved in this.

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We’ve done drives at work to gather up non-perishables and send them to Texas. There were donation drives for the Red Cross and a general feeling of getting together to help people. Not because of who they voted for, but because they were people in need.

We live up here in the frozen tundra, and while it has many drawbacks, we’ve never had to deal with hurricanes or earthquakes. When a tornado comes by, it might touch down, it might not, but it doesn’t destroy entire cities.

Winters are another story.

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Actual winter footage.

 

We’ve suffered through polar vortexes (days on end of -45F weather) where we’ve had to worry about cars starting because of the cold, but nothing on the wholesale devastation of Harvey.

But people here still stood up to help those in need in parts of the country they may never see. They stood by each other.

Makes me sad that it takes an act of extreme weather to get this to happen, but I’m so happy and relieved that it still happens.

 

How about you? Did you watch the Harvey and Irma coverage? Do you find weather related events watchable?

I Hate Trilogies and Here’s Why

I hate trilogies. I know, many of you will disagree with me and point me to epics like Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

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But I digress.

Well, Tolkien actually intended that to be a single book that publishers thought was too long for the audience of the time. So, they chopped it into three. Which, explains a lot, especially for those of us that saw the movies before we read the books and were quite angry at the end of the first movie when Frodo still had the blasted ring. After how ever many hours. With no bathroom break.

But that’s a story for another time.

No, my hatred of trilogies goes back to my childhood. I’d read a book called The Dark Angel.  Yeah, this story sticks in my head so much I remember the name even many decades later.

Darkangel
Art didn’t look anything like this back in the 80s when I read it.

I was so in love with this book, that I got my mom to take me to the library and snapped up the second book in the series, A Gathering of Gargoyles. What I didn’t know or understand at the time is what a trilogy was. But I was about to find out.

After devouring the second book as well, and I was totally rooting for the heroine and the hero to finally get together. To get their happily-ever-after. Yeah, I was a romance reader from the beginning. I’d been raised on Disney, and I had certain expectations even though I read these long before the Little Mermaid made its debut.

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I had no idea why Ariel wanted to be human when I so desperately wanted to be a mermaid.

So, I got to the end of the second book, and I wanted the third book. I begged my mom to take me to the library. After a bit of wrangling, she finally agreed. But the library didn’t have the third book. I lived in a small town with a small library. So I begged, whined and wheedled to get my parents to take me to the big library in the city that allowed me to borrow from them through a library exchange program. This was long before Amazon, and my family had to be frugal. No point buying what we could borrow.

Finally, my parents agreed to take me to the big the library the next day. I wasn’t happy, but if we went early enough, I’d have the book and still be able to finish it before school on Monday.

We got to the library when thy first opened the next day, but I couldn’t find the third book. I searched and searched. I couldn’t even find it in the card catalog. Yeah, I’m old. I not only know what one of these is, but I knew how to use them.

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Yup, like this.

Finally, I ask the librarian. She says if they don’t have the book, they could probably get it from the even bigger library system in the city of Milwaukee. It would only take a week or so.

A week!!

To my elementary school brain, that was forever. But I really wanted the book. So, she went to look it up and see if Milwaukee had it.

She comes back, but she isn’t holding the library hold slip. My heart thumps. Then she asks if I’m sure the book exists.

With the indignation of a elementary school child, I show her the three titles on the back of the current book. She checks again, and after some time (during which my parents and little sister are getting antsier and antsier), the librarian comes back to tell me the book hasn’t been published yet. There’s no release date on it, so it’s at least a year or two off.

 

I was devastated. How could I leave these characters not know what happened to them? I loved them, I wanted them to get together and be happy.

I cried on the way home, further angering my parents.

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About like this.

While I didn’t get it then, as a parent now, I totally understand their frustration. They did something to make me happy, something that was a pain for them, and it backfired. I was the exact opposite of happy.

Eventually, my tears dried, and being the precocious child I was, I wrote the author. I told her I loved her books and was wondering when the next one in the trilogy would be out as I had to know what happened next.

Kindly enough, she wrote me back and said she was still writing it. She also sent me an autographed hardcover(!) copy of another of her books, Birth of the Firebringer.

firebringer
It was the 80s. Don’t judge.

We were very frugal, and hardcover books were not in the budget. I was beyond excited to actually have a hardcover book, all my own, signed by the author.

But I only read it once.

See, I’d already suffered the pain of not being able to complete a trilogy. So, the very first thing I did was check and see if there were more books in this series. There were. Not all of them were out.

So, I put it in the cupboard above my bed. And there is sat for years. Every once in a while I’d check to see if all of the books in the series were out. See if it was time to read them. I continued to look for the third book in the Dark Angel series.

Eventually, all of the Firebringer books were out. So was the Dark Angel book. But I was five years older. Five years for a kid is a really long time. I was now in junior high. Reading Terry Brooks, Shakespeare, and Victoria Holt. I’d outgrown these books.

I did finally read the last Dark Angel book and hated it. This is a spoiler, but it came out almost three decades ago, so I’m going to let slip that the trilogy didn’t have a happy ending. Victoria Holt had already spoiled me. I expected more.

I did read Firebringer, but I never bothered to even look for the other two books in the trilogy. I had already moved on.

But these lessons stuck with me. To this day, I will not read a series until it’s complete. I want to know I’m going to get an ending.

 

How about you? Do you love trilogies? Hate them? What was your first experience with one?

 

When Hollywood Gets It Wrong

I recently read this post by Eric Goebelbecker, and he links to an article where Hollywood attacks the movie rating site Rotten Tomatoes.

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Too much truth here.

If you aren’t familiar with it, Rotten Tomatoes is an online site where they aggregate critic reviews and give a total rank. The NY Times article above goes into more detail as to how they choose who is and isn’t included in the reviews they aggregate, but it sounds to me like Rotten Tomatoes does a pretty good job. Especially as they try to include a more diverse group of reviews that the traditional middle-aged white male perspective.

Still, the whole things does reinforces the term “la la land” for Hollywood.

Because, rather than them taking a hard look at the movies they’re making and asking themselves why they’re flops, they’re blaming a rating agency for giving those who go to their site the truth as a wider array of critics, and eventually viewers themselves, sees it.

And this is what people want.

Rotten Tomatoes gets more than 13 million unique visitors every day.

If Hollywood were honest with themselves, they’d take a hard look at the competition. And I don’t mean just other movies.

They are competing with so many other forms of entertainment that they really have to bring their top game.

 

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Too much truth here, too.

Let’s face it, our choices are more expansive that ever:

  • Reading books
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Snapchat
  • Instagram
  • Video Games – whether phone, console or PC
  • On Demand TV – Netflix, Amazon, Hulu etc.
  • Whatever the heck it is millennials do on their phones

Many of these forms of entertainment are “free”. Once I pay for my Netflix subscription, I can watch what I want when I wish.

For my husband and I to go to the movies to see a single movie costs more than my monthly Netflix subscription. Add to that the cost of a babysitter, and the fact if I wait a few months, I can rent it or buy it for less than the cost of going to the theater, and we just don’t go. Especially as home theater systems and big screen TVs have become a whole lot more affordable.

Movie
Way too much truth.

And while Hollywood is bemoaning their “plight” with Rotten Tomatoes, HBO was laughing all the way to the bank as they cashed in on Game of Thrones.

So yes, people are watching “TV”, although the seventy-plus minute final episode of season 7 bordered on movie-length.

Yet, people were lining up to watch it. Waiting in eager anticipation. Talking about it all week before and after the episode. Building enough anticipation that the show has only gotten more popular, despite the gap of a year or more between seasons.

Yes, Game of Thrones has Drogon, and that’s hard to beat.

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But there’s a lot more to the show than Drogon. There’s a list of characters pages long that viewers have come to care about. Come to love. That we tune in to see what happens to them even they aren’t fire-breathing reptiles.

And yes, HBO spent a lot of money of those special effects. But it wasn’t all about special effects. How many of us were right there with Tyrion as he cursed Jamie for being an idiot as he charges Dany?

Perhaps if Hollywood could distill that and give it to us, they could make movies we want to see.

All in, I hope places like Rotten Tomatoes stick around. They give us what we want. If Hollywood would do the same, they wouldn’t have such an issue.

 

How about you? Do you go to movies? Ever used Rotten Tomatoes guides?

 

 

Games: Cooperative vs Competitive

I never liked games much as a kid. Most of them were boring with little strategy. The ones that did engage some strategy seemed designed to make one person feel awesome for winning and everyone else had be losers.

got
Sums it up nicely. 

So, I avoided games for years. Still don’t like board games, although I’ve since discovered things like D&D that are technically a game but are cooperative and a lot more fun.

My husband has loved board games his whole life, so he really wants our little ones to love games with him. Then, he’ll finally have someone to play with.

He introduced DD1 to Candyland. Which, she promptly cheated at. She got bored quickly because she knew her colors and how to count to two, so DH started trying to make up new rules to help her learn strategy. For example, she could pick two cards instead of one and select whichever card she wanted to play.

This lasted for a little while, but she quickly grew bored of the game. So, he got her My Little Pony chutes and ladders. We all know how much DD1 likes MLP.

Again, her interest lasted for a short while. Her learning curve was well past counting to six (she’s always been precocious), but the real issue was when she started looking at the pictures. She stopped wanting to play the game because she didn’t think the ponies would do all the bad things they were depicted doing to get sent down the slide.

Santa brought her some more games for Christmas, most of which were not terribly interesting to her. She played Guess Who for a while, intrigued by the differences in hair color, costumes, and faces of the people. But after a few months, even that wore off.

Then I stumbled across a game called Hoot Owl Hoot.

hoot

I’d never heard of it, but the premise was intriguing. A cooperative game where children play with their parent on the same side, and in the process, learn more advanced strategy instead of just basic numbers and colors.

I bought it, and it arrived in two days.

My daughter loved it! She would play three or four games of it before getting bored, and you could see her progress with strategy. When we lost, which we sometimes did depending on the difficulty level she chose, we’d say something like, “Those silly owls didn’t make it home before dawn.” Then, we’d set the game up to play again. No tears. Sometimes a little frustration, but never anger. Losing tended to make her just want to try again, with an adult’s help, of course.

This company makes other games as well, and she enjoys most of them. Hoot owl Hoot, though, is a favorite.

Doing a little research told me that she was behaving perfectly normal for a child of her age. Most kids aren’t ready to be okay with losing until they’re at least seven or eight years old. Even then, it can be a tough lesson.

I can see that she has the makings of enjoying games, especially games like Zelda. DH could probably even get her interested in role play games like D&D in a few years. But I think she might have too much of me in her to ever be willing to sit down and play Twilight Imperium.

 

twilightimperium
And this is the express version. The manual is longer than novels I’ve read.

Sorry, honey, she got half my DNA.

 

How about you, do you love board games? Hate them? Do your kids or grandkids like them? Any good ones for precocious preschoolers I should check out?

 

 

Do We Really Need Sleep?

According to Harvard (sounds like a reputable source), we do, indeed, need sleep even if science doesn’t know why. Yet.

There are some theories on it, though.

Why do I care? Well, other than the sleepless nights of late, I have a certain character who is quite skilled with sword and shield that is about to lose a fight because of sleep deprivation. This seemed legitimate given how I’ve felt lately, but I wanted to know if the science backs me up on this.

Looks like it might.

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Most us feel better when we’ve had a good night’s sleep. Better able to focus, we feel better, and we’re just in a better mood. The Harvard article relates eating to sleeping. We’re driven to eat by the powerful force of hunger. There’s a reason it’s the first level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. We are also driven to sleep by being tired.

Sleep is also on the first level of needs.

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From Wiki Commons

Scientists have apparently tried all sorts of sleep deprivation studies to see what happens when humans and other animals don’t get sleep. Still no conclusive answers.

 They do have a couple of theories:

Inactivity Theory – This says that sleep was evolutionary to keep us inactive when we’re most likely to get eaten by a lion. Seems pretty bunk as it would be safer to be awake and hiding in your cave from the lion than asleep and unaware of the lion. I suppose it was a start, and that’s what science is all about.

 

Energy Conservation Theory – One upon a time, there was no such thing as an obesity epidemic. Food was scarce, and humans even had to adapt to eating meat to get all of the fuel our massive brains needed. This theory suggests that sleep reduces our body’s energy consumption during times when it’s least efficient to search for food. Research backs this up as we use as much as 10 percent less energy while asleep. Gotta be more to it, in my opinion, though, as many American are over nourished but still suffering from the ill effects of sleep deprivation.

 

           Restorative Theories – This basically says we sleep so that our brain and body can repair itself from all that we did to it while awake. Research is starting to back this up after a series of studies showed animals deprived entirely of sleep lose immune function and die in weeks. More research has shown us that certain major repair the body does like muscle growth, tissue repair, and the release of growth hormones occur mostly during sleep.

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Brain Plasticity Theory – Science is discovering that sleep is at least correlated (if not causal) to changes in the brain. Studies have given us more insight into this, showing us the link between sleep deprivation and the ability to learn or perform tasks. 

Ha! There we go! My scientific evidence that it’s harder to perform tasks when sleep deprived! Backs up my personal experience at any rate. And perhaps it would realistically slow my Knight enough to bring him to his knees.

 

How about you? Ever experience the downside of sleep deprivation? Maybe you don’t need as much sleep as the rest of us? Or maybe you need more? Could you believe a sleep-deprived character would have a hard time swinging his sword?

Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Game: Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild

Rated: E for Everyone

Status: Worth Playing

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You can see more about it here.

Overview

Zelda’s been around since I was a kid, so it was fun to share it with my almost-kindergartner. She loves the game.

I’ve heard it called Skyrim for Zelda, and that’s not an inaccurate description.

 

Pros

  • It’s E for everyone, so the violence is cartoon in nature (think Road Runner or Bugs Bunny).

 

  • Bad Guys – Anything Link kills looks like a monster. These monsters come back alive at the next Blood Moon, so they don’t truly stay dead.

 

  • Not Scary – My daughter can be scared by My Little Pony. There was nothing in this game that truly scared her until we got to Gannon at the end. She would occasionally get frustrated with the puzzles in the game, but that’s okay.

 

  • Puzzles – The puzzles are challenging and thoughtful. Not something DD1 could solve on her own, but it challenged her to come up with ideas as even DH and I weren’t able to solve all of them easily.

 

  • Memories – We all enjoyed collecting “memories” (Link has lost his) and seeing what happened that led up to the post-apocalyptic world you start in. It let us get to see the way Zelda and Link went from an adversarial relationship, to friends, to something much deeper.

 

  • Environment – Environment becomes a factor to consider rather than just a backdrop: skeleton monsters come out of the ground at night, rain makes climbing more difficult, the sun rises and sets, the moon rises and sets, there are phases of the moon, etc. Many of these things actually feature in the gameplay, such as being properly equipped for the freezing mountain temperatures.

 

  • Load Screens– The load screens reasonable in length. Bethesda could learn a few things about this.

 

  • Armor Sets – DD1 loved the fact that Link could change his clothes, and she was very mindful that he didn’t overheat or freeze. These outfits were all upgradable, and really needed to be upgraded as you faced tougher monsters.

 

  • Rewards Worth the Challenge – Some things were always a challenge. Lynells and guardians, for example, are never a cake walk even at end game. You are rewarded for the effort with amazing weapons.

 

Cons

  • Gender Roles – It reinforces traditional gender roles. Zelda is the one who can’t master her power. Zelda is the one who falls crying to the ground. Zelda is the one yelled at by her father. Link is the one that has to save her. Blah. I almost didn’t buy the game because of this. Little girls get enough of this garbage without stuff like this reinforcing it. The game was originally going to feature the ability to choose whether you played Zelda or Link as the hero. I hope they release DLC that allows this. It wouldn’t be that difficult of a change. Not really. And it would let little girls see a girl kicking Bokoblin butt. I’ve tried to convince DD1 to think of Link as a girl, but she’s having none of it. Already. This is why not giving girls the option to play a girl is so awful.

 

  • Graphics – Enough said.
Link20122014
Frankly, the graphics from 2006 Twilight Princess were better.
  • Ending – I won’t spoil the ending, but we were disappointed. Not with the game play, per se, but I wanted the traditional cathartic release you expect at the end of a game. Especially a game this long. I didn’t get it, and I didn’t get to keep playing to finish up all those armor upgrades. Once you defeat Gannon, the whole thing is over even if you haven’t finished exploring. Hoping for a DLC on this where you can have Zelda as a companion and keep investigating the world. Seems wrong to leave the princess in the tower holding Gannon at bay while I explore the expansive world.

 

  • Controls – Unlike Mario Kart that my almost-kindergartener can not only play by herself, but give her father a run for first place, the controls for BOTW (Breath of the Wild) are complex. Even my husband had some issues at times. This was not a game DD1 could play on her own.

 

  • Tedious Upgrades – Some of the clothing upgrades grew tedious. How many times do I really need to camp the dragons to shoot some part of them?

 

  • No Real Story – There main story is pretty sparse, though the memories help. It’s really just: defeat Big Bad or else he will unleash total devastation. No explanation as to why, no character development, not even for Link or Zelda. And there’s clearly a huge opportunity with this with all Zelda has to do to unlock her power. Not even any really good side stories for Link to get involved in as he tries to regain enough strength to defeat Gannon. I suppose this is par for video games, which is really sad. They have the opportunity to do so much more.

 

All in, if you aren’t worried about the gender stereotypes, it’s well worth a play through.