9 things I learned while cleaning dog poop out of my carpet at 10 PM

Tonight I stepped in dog poop. On not-purpose. I didn’t realize it until I had already brought my dog in and walked through half of my apartment. 90 minutes later, paper towels dot the floor like cards in a crime scene marking spent shell casings. During that time spent on my hands and knees doing literally the least-fun thing you can do while on your hands and knees, I had some time to reflect on my situation.

1. The futility of cleaning up my dog’s waste when nobody else on my block does so for their own pets dawns on me.

2. If the social contract between neighbors is up for grabs, I want to shape it in my own image and smear dog feces on the handles of the doors to the apartments in which dog owners that do not pick up their dogs’ poo live.

3. My tolerance of cleaning up animal waste for my own pets does not extend to the pets of others. I’ve barehanded my own dog’s crap more than once without a blink, but I don’t want to go near Poncho’s skidmarks without anything less than a hazmat suit.

4. Tennis shoes are designed specifically to maximize the volume of animal waste that you bring into your abode with you from the elements. I’m sure there’s a scientific term to describe how such a quantity of shit can dwell within such a compact space, but I don’t know what it is. Running theory is Loaded-Weapon-Tardis “it’s bigger on the inside” magic.

It smells twice as bad on the inside!

It smells twice as bad on the inside!

5. One’s Sherlockian detective skills are amplified to Batmanian levels while searching for scatological deposits in one’s fucking carpet. I was able to determine after finding three shitspots (the technical term for feces that’s been ground down deep into the otherwise-pleasant fibers of your carpet) that there had to be another between two of my steps. After the usual method of putting my nose dangerously close to the carpet and sniffing like I’m trying to do lines of coke that’s been laced with whatever stuff made Eddie Murphy’s career faceplant didn’t work I was able to narrow  down a six-square-inch quadrant of my carpet to scan.

The grim truth of the matter is that it was also what gave him that iconic, nasally laugh.

The grim truth of the matter is that it was also what gave him that iconic, nasally laugh.

 

I don’t think I’ve ever felt such a euphoric sense of success from the smell of shit blooming in my nostrils, short of that one time I ate only pasta for a week and my bowels had turned to bricks.

6. I found this guide to determining your stride by measuring the distance of your footsteps on the sidewalk after walking through a puddle of water. Did you know that you can do the same thing by swapping “sidewalk” with “the carpet that you walk on every day with your bare feet” and “water” with “a putrid pile of fetid dog shit?”

7. I have a really long stride. It’s a good thing, too–instead of taking a thousand millipede steps before taking off my shoes and peppering the carpet with butt truffles (hey, you try writing a blog about poop and see how long you can use “shit” and “poop” while keeping the tone fresh. Ew. Fresh. Also, thanks BuzzFeed for your hardcore journalism work.) –I left only four unholy brown stains on my floor.

8. I’m amazed that there hasn’t been a reality show made of this yet.

9. While there’s enough Biokleen Bac-Out in the apartment to wipe out the defeated remains of the putrid rectum warriors on my carpet, there’s not enough time turners in the world to get my 90 minutes of being on my hands and knees, nose to the ground, and dragnet searching for fermented shit back. Hopefully, there’s enough alcohol in the county to burn the memory from my cortex.

"Sure, I'll delete the dog shit memories if you're okay with forgetting how to do basic algebra in the process." "I'm an artist, fuck it."

“Sure, I’ll delete the dog shit memories if you’re okay with forgetting how to do basic algebra in the process.”
“I’m an artist, fuck it.”

If you were wondering why women feel unsafe around you, here’s why:

Jay is amazing–she’s one of the best bloggers on my Twitter feed–and this is incredibly important.

days like crazy paving

So, a few days ago, I wrote this.

That letter is a semi-autobiographical composite based on a guy who not only stalked me and made me feel uncomfortable and unsafe, but did the same to several other women, including friends of mine. Some of those things he did to me; some of those things he did to other women; some of those things he told us about during group gatherings, seemingly under the impression that we would empathise with him in his struggle against all the terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad women of the world.

When I wrote that letter, it wasn’t really aimed at the Nice Guy in question (I honestly haven’t seen or heard from him in months, and thank [insert deity/deities/lack of deity here] for that). It was written for every woman who, like me, has known a guy like that or been “befriended” by a guy…

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19 Things Cosmo Got Horrifically Wrong About Frozen

frozen

This morning I saw a blog post about Frozen that was called 19 Things That Make No Sense About ‘Frozen.’ I was expecting it to be really interesting, axiomatic, and insightful, but instead it was trite and petty. But I shouldn’t have expected much–it’s Cosmopolitan after all. Still and all, I couldn’t help but form a verbose response, point by point, addressing each one. So here goes, Amy Odell, let’s do this.

1

Winter powers. Really, really powerful winter powers. She’s like a fucking Winter Goddess/Enchantress. Snow, cold, ice; get it together. Did you even watch the movie?

2

Because there’s an intrinsic relationship in most fictional magical worlds between your emotional state and the outcome of your magic. It’s a kind of “you put in what you get out” deal. I like to think of it as an analogue for everyday life–if you go into something with a negative attitude, you’re more likely to have a negative experience. Think Kiki’s mom’s potion spoiling in Kiki’s Delivery Service because she was emotionally distraught (the entire movie is about this, really). Or Harry Potter’s Patronus.

kiki

Magic is a practice of the mind, so your emotions are going to greatly affect whether or not you light a fire in your fireplace or blow up your house.

3

The gloves don’t. They’re a magic feather. See above about how magic is a practice of the mind and is linked to psychology. Apply the placebo effect to that, and there you go.

4

I’m beginning to suspect that you’ve never seen a fantasy movie before, Amy. That may be a leap of logic on my part, but I’m going to roll with it because you seem to fundamentally misunderstand exactly how these universes work. For a long time, humans thought that the heart was the center of everything that we were. Like, for a long, long, long time. Did you know that Egyptians used to pull brains out of the dead and discard them because they thought they were worthless junk? Weird shit. Anyway, since people basically thought this way for thousands of years, the notion of the “heart” being where the “soul” of a person lives kind of seeped into our culture. We know better anatomically, but our language still reflects this symbolic relationship between the heart and emotions (“she has a big heart” “you broke my heart” etc.)

UR Breaking My 3

This idea is especially common during fairy tale settings, and to see it reflected in a world of winter magic and stone trolls should be surprising to literally nobody. Anatomy has never mattered to fiction, least of all one with a reindeer that acts like a dog.

5

Good question. The impression I got while watching the film was that magic in humans was pretty rare–and if it’s not super rare, then it’s stigmatized (as evidenced by how every human seems to react to magic in general.) The Trolls, on the other hand, seem to be inherently magical creatures, and have a more normalized relationship (RING-A-DING-DING, we’ve hit upon one of the major moral themes of the movie!) with magic. Still and all, it’s not ALL the trolls who know, it’s their religious leader. Even among magical creatures, he was something of a specialist. It’s kind of like how a doctor actually knows why you’re sick, but your friends keep telling you to try oil pulling.

6

Another good question–actually better than the previous one. It may even be a genuine plot hole. Mostly I think it has to do with the aforementioned Magic Stigma. As for why Elsa’s parents know about them when nobody else does, a plausible explanation is that they’re royalty and have access to greater knowledge because, duh, they’re royal. Also, it’s bad form to be the king of a Magical Disney Country and not know all of your magical residents. I mean, otherwise what do you do if someone shows up with a poison apple?

7

Heheh, you’re a fashion blogger, I get it. Well done! That was funny.

8

I don’t know where you live or what you eat, Amy, but typically in most places in the world that are any measurable distance away from the equator only have a limited time in which to plant, cultivate, and harvest food–particularly in any period set before globalization (I.E. basically any setting before the 1950s). This food is supposed to last you through the winter months. In a place like wherever-the-fuck Elsa’s Kingdom is, winter is, you know, kind of long; therefore, the window for growing food for the year is significantly shorter than it is elsewhere. Late frosts can be damaging to crop yields, and even in this day and age farmers spend most of their time focusing on when to plant to time their crops properly to avoid frost. So when a random full-blown magical winter shows up with no end in sight sweeps the nation, yeah, it’s a cause of some alarm.

9

Another decently good point–but her “love” (if you can actually call it that) with Kristoff is way more measured. She learned from her previous experience. Note that she’s not asking him to marry her right away. She’s eased up on the gas. She’s moving more slowly. She still has the eagerness of youth, sure, but she’s not leaping into making bad personal decisions over this guy, which is a far cry better than whateverthefuck she was thinking previously.

10

Wow, okay, um, I guess I can explain this one to you. This is a Disney movie, right? A modern one at that. They’re trying to illustrate that Magic Powers (personal quirks, mental illness, introversion, homosexuality, ANY sexuality, [insert whatever you want here]) aren’t to be a cause of stigma and fear, but acceptance and understanding. Is it realistic? Probably not–but neither is shooting fucking ice out of your fingers. It’s a movie, it only has so much time, and it can’t devote months and months to showing people eventually coming around to understand magic better. This is for children, after all, and we’re trying to teach them to not suck.

11

BECAUSE ONE OF THE MAJOR THEMES OF THE MOVIE IS ABOUT HOW STIGMATIZING AND SUPPRESSING WHO YOU ARE EVEN IF YOU’RE DIFFERENT IS A BAD THING. Holy Christ. It’s there as a foil–it’s to set up contrast for the character development and the ultimate ending tone of the movie. Also Elsa’s parents kind of made bad decisions.

12

I don’t know, and I think you’re literally the only person who cares.

13

I googled “How old is Anna in Frozen” and they told me she was 18. 18 and awkward because of not being socialized. Furthermore, one of the OTHER major overarching themes of this movie was that it wanted to go against the typical Disney trope of True Love being the Boyfriend/Girlfriend->>>Marriage thing. It wants to highlight how that line of thinking has problematic elements. Furthermore, Anna is young and stupid. She made bad decisions in a panic because, duh, that’s what we do. She trusted a total stranger too much and it ended up badly. And then it ended up goodly. Because it’s Disney, and “sad ending” isn’t in their vocabulary.

14

We don’t actually know that for certain. They’re the only magical ones in the movie because it wasn’t important for there to be any other magical people. Maybe it’s the advent of a whole new magical age, and Elsa will found a Magic School for Gifted Youngsters. Maybe all the other magic people are in hiding because of the ignorant, superstitious attitude that most of the commoners seem to have.

15

OH MY GOD IT’S MAGIC. Please, for the good of the rest of us, never watch another fantasy film ever again, I’m begging you.

16

If you’ve ever owned a small business or known a small business owner, you’d know that the successful ones are obsessively watching market trends so they can keep a barometer on how their business is going to last in the long term. “Magical Winter That Came Out of Nowhere And Has No End In Sight” is probably at the top of Kristoff’s “If This Happens My Business is Fucked” list.

17

U7Hfw

18

Hey, Amy, did you ever read The Odyssey? I’m not trying to be a douchebag here, I’m actually curious. If you haven’t, that’s fine, John Green did a really fantastic Crash Course on the poem. The Odyssey is about many things, but one of its major themes is about how difficult it is to end a cycle of violence–you kill one guy for revenge, and his family kills some of yours, and then you kill some of theirs, and it goes on forever until everyone forgets why they were feuding anymore–they only know violence. More examples: Romeo & Juliet, The War of the Roses, Hatfield & McCoy feud, and it’s a major reason why it’s so difficult for Israel and Palestine to reconcile. A non-violent solution not only fits into the general direction that children’s entertainment seems to be taking, but it’s also the politically sound decision. The last thing a country that was recently thrown into economic, military, and political turmoil needs is a bloody war (something that it seems to be on the brink of if the Duke of Weselton is any indication.)

19

I’ll give you that one. The intro was a complete non sequitur. But I also liked the song, so eh, fuck theming.

Early access games aren’t the end of the world

It seems like I can’t hop on the Humble Store or Steam without seeing a new game being pitched to me. I say “pitched” because I’m not being proffered fully-realized and functional games–rather, I’m being asked to be an investor in the product. In return, I get to beta (or alpha) test these games before they’re even released. Yay! Ignoring for a minute that at the age of ten this would have sounded like the dream situation, this trend is horrifically jarring to me. I reckon it is to anybody who grew up in the 90s and early 2000s.

When I was a kid, you waited and waited and waited for a game to be released. During its long development time (unless you’re Oddword: Abe’s Exoddus) the developers paid (GASP!) testers to endlessly play their games in an attempt to break and exploit them. Games like Final Fantasy 7, with hours and hours of gameplay, would ship to you fully polished and flawless*. We didn’t have early access, and we were grateful!

I had a problematic obsession with throwing barrels on alligators when I was little. I had anger issues.

I had a problematic obsession with throwing barrels on alligators when I was little. I had anger issues.

Don’t look for an asterisk at the end of the page. There’s no annotation. The truth of the matter is, even with extensive testing, games still shipped with bugs. Some were better than others, but there was always something broken. If you were playing a console game, you were basically boned (fact: Basically Boned is the name of an 80s tribute band I’m working on) when it came to fixes–if you were a PC gamer, you’d get a few patches eventually.

I used to think that this was the perfect way to make a game–in fact, I thought this as recently as last Saturday. And then I started to think. And then I started to think some more. And then I remembered SimCity. And then I remembered Diablo III. And then I remember everything about Skyrim.

WheresMyFace-610x311

Looking at recent AAA Game developers in recent history, it’s difficult to not be left with the impression that they’re not devoting a ton of time to fixing bugs prior to release. With the advent of new technologies that have made it much easier to fix bugs post-release, it kind of seems like “pay-to-beta” is kind of what we’re doing anyway. It’s almost like some cigar-wielding exec said aloud, “Hey, let’s cut the ‘tester’ budget, release a game that’s barely limping forward, use our customers as unwilling crowd-source beta testers, and fix the stuff when they whine. I mean, what can they really do to stop us?”

While I don’t necessarily like the idea of having to pay for a game before it’s finished, I have to commend independent developers (who generally lack the huge financial backers of the AAA industry) for being upfront about it. Nobody’s forcing me to buy these games that are open for “early release,” and as long as the people paying for them are convinced that it’s a legitimate way to support an indie developer rather than encourage a blind and ruthless moneygrabbing expedition, good on them. Plus, who knows, maybe we’ll get another Minecraft out of it.

And if I have to choose between games that blackmail you into paying them through microtransactions and buying a game that looks interesting before it’s released, I can guarantee you that I’m going to pick the latter.

Why *some of you are shitty allies

some

I don’t frequently go to war on words. Those that know me know that I’m a very loud and staunch defender of the First Amendment. That’s my country’s Freedom of Speech thingie, for you non-United Statesians. As it sits, when it gets right down to it, I think you should be able to bark whatever ignorant drivel you want without fear of government reprisal; however it’s important that we (as a society) use our freedom of speech liberally in order to smack down bullshit when we see it. We are our own regulatory force, and there’s a kind of beauty in that.

That being said, I’ve reached the conclusion that the lot of you need to stop using the word “some.”

What? Oh. I guess you expect me to give you more than that. FINE.

I follow a lot of social critics on social media. A social critic– also known as a social justice warrior by their critics (it’s like critiception in here)– is someone who spends their time deconstructing patterns and trends in our culture looking for problematic messages and implications. You might recognize them as radical feminists, womanists, black power advocates, transactivists, and intersectionalists. Things like this tend to crop up around them:

1461419_10151853597549072_2079554274_n

A friend of mine posted that photo on her Facebook timeline a month ago. I thought it was brilliant. It reduces homophobia down to its fundamentals, highlights its ignorance, and adds a meta layer of feminism in there. If I were to critique it personally, it’d be that it’s too simplistic, but it makes for a great starting point for conversation. Unfortunately, this is where the insidious word “some” rears its ugly head.

“It is also making a generalization on the way men treat women…while this thing brings up some interesting and significant points, just as it fails by being misogynistic, it fails by not having the phrase be ‘the way some men treat women.'”

If you engage in or frequently observe conversations about social inequality, you’ll see that they’re a ripe breeding ground for this kind of statement. You may find yourself having flashbacks right about now. It’s okay, I’m here for you, and we’ll get through this together.

Let me make something perfectly clear: when you insist that someone prefix a criticism of social behavior with the word “some” you are wrong. And also a douchebag.

Here’s why:

1. You’re derailing the conversation and making it all about you, you, you.

alternate text

Fact: The Cookie Monster was involved in several social justice programs until, in 2006, it was discovered that he was in it just for the cookies. He lost his supply and had to change his name to The Veggie Monster to save face.

First of all, you’re derailing a conversation about a negative social behavior by refocusing the talk on the “good exceptions.” Why do we need to talk about the N% of people who don’t engage in the critiqued behavior? You’re not homophobic and you don’t creep on women? Congratulations. Here’s your cookie. Now sit down.

2. You’re mistranslating the subtext.

Secondly, if you read social criticism statements as blanket generalizations in which someone is trying to envelope the entirety of a group (whites, men, cis), you’re reading it completely backwards. You want activists to put the word “some” in their sentences? Great! Lucky for you, they already did!

What?

Yeah. It’s there. You just can’t see it. It’s hiding out in this invisible place called the subtext. Here, let me wave my magic wand and reveal the subtext for you:

“Porn* is exploitative of women, and is inherently damaging to our** collective view of masculine and feminine dynamics.”
*to be read as “the mainstream pornography industry.” Writer acknowledges that there is a narrow fraction of pornography that is arguably respectful/empowering to women, or at the very least is debatable and not blatantly as evil as its industrialized counterpart.
**excluding those who don’t watch mainstream pornography, or any pornography at all. “Our” as a collective refers to the way porn infiltrates our society on a basic level.

Learning to read sentences this way greatly changed my perception of social criticism. “But,” you say to me, “Why should I expend intellectual energy revealing subtext when the original statement could be written to say what it actually means?”

You may not realize this, but you’re already expending that energy, you’re just wasting it. You’re going out of your way to read the sentence as “all porn,” “all men,” “all white people,” “all cis-gendered people.” There’s no “all” to be found in these statements. YOU are putting it there. If you’re already going through the effort to see subtext, why not actually read it the right way the first time? Plus, if every social criticism had to add parenthetical statements to clarify their generalizations, anything longer than a sentence would become unreadable. The footnotes would become an essay. All to make you feel better about yourself while preventing actual conversation.

3. Nobody’s talking about you.

“I want to make clear –I’m a sociologist, sociologists work on the basis of generalizations– what I say is not true for every male. But what I say is true for patterns of masculinity.”
-Dr. Gail Hines

I’ve felt for months and months that dismissing valid criticisms of social behavior by enforcing the prefix “some” is problematic, but I couldn’t figure out exactly why until I listened to this lecture by Dr. Gail Hines. In that short statement above, Hines blew my brain wide open, like Zombie No. 1 from The Walking Dead.

caption

It’s like someone’s opened up a third eye or something in my forehead!

Hines was kinder than most in that she went out of her way to emphasize that she’s speaking in generalizations. And the truth of the matter is this: you can’t talk about social inequality on a large scale without making generalizations. You can’t. Who are the main oppressors of women? Men. Who are the main oppressors of people of color? White people. Does that mean that if you’re a white man that you’re going around actively oppressing black women? No. Exceptions are taken as a given in sociological generalizations.

But what’s even more important is that these criticisms aren’t about people, they’re about patterns of behavior. 

Being aware of this can mean the difference between being offended by what someone says and being able to actually talk about unhealthy social behavior. When you begin to look at these criticisms as attacks on things people do and not people themselves, you can have a little conversation with yourself. “This is about homophobic behavior and misogynistic behavior. Do I engage in this behavior? No. So this is not about me. Now I can talk about this with the full understanding that it does not apply to me, and yet there are people who do this.”

I understand it can feel alienating and a little uncomfortable when someone calls out a group to which you belong for behavior that you don’t participate in. And, to be honest, I don’t expect someone who doesn’t care about social inequality to give two shits about this. If you don’t care about racism, sexism, and deconstructing systematic inequality, you’re not going to devote energy to making subtle subtext distinctions.

However, if you claim to be an ally to the systematically oppressed, if you think racism, sexism, and exploitation of the vulnerable is wrong, then you are being a bad ally by thinking this way.

4. Okay, so what do I do about it?

All the way back up there in Number 2 I talked about pornography. Why did I pull that non sequitur? Because that was my most recent social inequality blind spot. In every conversation about the harmful nature of both the porn industry and exploitative porn itself, I went out of my way to try to make the conversation about sex-positive and feminist porn. Eventually, I realized that I was wrong in thinking this way. So here are ways to be better:

  1. Don’t tone police social criticism, even if you disagree with it. If you disagree with an aspect of a statement, debate it directly, don’t try to change the conversation into a back-patting party about how you don’t behave that way.
  2. Don’t assume that a statement is lumping ALL people together without exception unless it explicitly says so. Conversation –true, productive conversation– is about meeting people halfway. Someone making a critical statement about white people, men, or something else has already put through the effort of making a statement. The least you could do is read it in the best possible way.
  3. If someone DOES lump a group together without exception, walk away. This kind of person can’t be reasoned with.
  4. Recognize that nobody is obligated to do all the thinking for you. Nobody is obligated to educate you. Nobody is obligated to consider your feelings. If you truly want to be an ally, you won’t burden the people you’re supposedly advocating by making them walk you through every step.
  5. Sometime, at some point, somebody is going to say something that you disagree with outrageously; however, this isn’t an excuse to engage in problematic behavior. Examples: lecturing women on sexism, lecturing people of color on racism. That’s not your place. Walk away. Trust me, there’s no way to make yourself look worse than to tell a black person that they don’t understand the fundamentals of racism like you, The Educated White. Drop it. If it’s really so bad, someone else who’s qualified will probably carry that torch better than you ever could.

The freedom of speech is an amazing thing. Don’t abuse it.

How Skyrim made me a lazy gamer

Hi, I’m Austin Hourigan and I’m a Bethesdaholic.

No, seriously, ever since I played my first Elder Scrolls Game (Morrowind) I’ve been hooked on the sweeping, engaging, and immersive worlds that Bethesda is capable of creating. Every time a new game comes out, I play it extensively (except for the Oblivion-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named). Fallout 3, New Vegas, Morrowind, Skyrim– PUT THEM ALL IN MY MOUTH.

I’m going to talk about cigarettes for a second. It’s relevant, yes, but I’m also jonesing right now. I used to smoke cigarettes. Well, I still do, but I used to really smoke cigarettes, you know? A pack-a-day type deal. It got to the point where I wasn’t even sure I liked them anymore, but I kept smoking anyway, in spite of the pain I was having in my left lung, because I didn’t know any other way.

That’s the way I am with Bethesda games. As much as I love Skyrim, I’m not sure why I play it sometimes, or if I even like it. But it’s pretty and it gives me slow motion decapitation and bloody chest hair, so I guess there are upsides. But like a cigarette nicotine high, the feeling fades and I end up feeling unsatisfied.

Gimme that sweet, irradiated, ashland flavor.

I finally got around to playing the Dragonborn DLC for Skyrim and it was like a punch right in the feels for me. The DLC plot takes you to Solstheim, which is kind of a border island between Morrowind and Skyrim that was also a setting for the Morrowind expansion Blooodmoon. As an additional nostalgic touch of doom, Bethesda made sure to make the ambient world music the Morrowind tunes instead of the Skyrim ones. Seeing a silt strider was pretty much a nail in the coffin for me, and I had to boot up my Steam version of Morrowind that I bought months ago when it was on sale.

And then I had to immediately shut it off because the dated graphics destroyed my eyes.

Four failed mods, seven dozen google searches, two fresh reinstalls, one Morrowind Overhaul, and several hours later, I booted Morrowind up and my cock nearly blasted off out of my pants with excitement as I gazed upon this new world that I remembered from ages past.

Azura’s tits that looks fetching awesome.

After breezing through the character creation stuff, stealing everything that wasn’t nailed to the floor and selling it, I wanted to head to Balmora with my pockets heavy with money. So I hopped on a Silt Strider and joined the Fighter’s guild and accepted my first mission. And I stood there waiting for my little Skyrim waypoint quest arrow to appear.

Um.

“Where’s my little ‘stand under this point to beat the quest’ arrow? You know, the one that Skryim, Fallout, Mass Effect, X3, Diablo III, Arkham Asylum, and every other game under the sun has?” I said aloud to myself, even though nobody else was in the room.

Oh right. Those don’t exist in Morrowind. So how do you know where to find who you’re supposed to kill/rob/whatever? You get directions, like you would in real life trying to find the 200 Acres Pumpkin Patch that doesn’t have an actual address. They don’t even have the decency to give you GPS coordinates.

Here’s how a typical set of quest directions go in Morrowind:

“Oh, you know, just follow Old McCraggy Road (named after the old man who used to hurl feces at passers by while yelling obscenities about cliff racers) until you see a fork in the road. Take the slightly narrower-looking fork (I can’t remember if it’s on the right or the left) and keep waking about 50 paces and turn around. You should see a tree that looks like a penisdongle. Go east from there and you should see a pile of dirt. You’re halfway there, and you’ll have to look for a tomb somewhere around there. Just don’t go into the wrong one or a Bonelord will claw out your eyeballs.”

“I hearby declare that you shall forever be able to find Gimothran Ancestral Tomb as long as you swear to never have sex ever!

And like real life when you’re following some senile farmer’s directions, you’re going to get lost, either because the directions are unreliable or because you mistook one landmark for another. That’s just how they do it out in the Wasteland of Vvardenfell. When you got to that point, you usually had to bust out your Vvardenfell map that came packaged with the disk (the nerdier among us kept it readily available for perusal on our walls). You thought that map was just cool wall swag to further preserve your virginity? Hell no! You’re going to need that map, son.

After I shook off the initial shock of not having my hand held by the game I was playing, I opened up my in-game journal and started walking, occasionally looking back and then up and around, like some awkward Cyrodilic tourist trying to find the nearest Chipotle. No wonder everyone calls me “Outlander.”

At this point I’d settle for Qdoba.

I didn’t realize until I started playing Morrowind again just how complacent and passive modern gaming made me.

This is how I play Skyrim:

1. Go to person who looks like they have a quest.
2. Accept quest.
3. Ignore what person is saying.
4. Follow the arrow.
5. Kill everything between me and the arrow.
6. ???? (I’m sure I’ll figure it out when I get there.)
7. Profit
8. Go back to step 1

I’m hardly paying attention anymore. I’m just kind of breezing past this beautiful landscape in order to rush to the end goal. Granted, part of this is because I’ve been playing the game for hundreds of hours by now and I don’t have time for idle crap like sight-seeing, but one of the reasons Morrowind was so immersive (aside from just having an amazingly impressive amount of detail) is that it forced you to pay attention to the world around you. You couldn’t afford to have tunnel vision if you wanted to stay alive, let alone prosper financially and sexually.

I’m not necessarily saying that modern gaming is inferior to old gaming. Conveyance has been a huge issue in gaming, and there have been plenty of times in Morrowind where I had to undergo an organized search pattern and explore every crypt I come across within a certain radius in order to complete one simple quest.

But at the same time I find waypoints in video games to be patronizing and non-immersive. They pull me out of the game. It’s like the developers are knocking on my fourth wall and saying, “Hey, go here. Somehow you have a sixth sense on where to go. Don’t ask us. Don’t question it. Um. Dovakiin is psychic. There. Now play the game and chop off some heads.”

I’d like to see AAA games move away from holding our hands too fervently and find a healthy balance between accurate conveyance while still preserving challenge and novelty. The current trend doesn’t seem to favor this, though, and more and more games seem to be getting their actual challenge neutered.

I hope I’m wrong.