What I’m Playing: Skyrim (oh, and everything because Steam Sale)
If you aren’t a big video game player and you check out this blog from my Facebook/twitter/tumblr/Idolminded (thank you for recommending me Chiima!), every year there are two huge sales for PC game fans. They’re both on the digital client Steam, which pretty much dominates directly downloading games. There are other great sites out there (Amazon, greenmangaming, GoG, etc.), but Steam has gotten a lot of recognition for its massive sales. While in past sales I’ve bought more games than I might have needed (to be fair, most of those games were around 75% off), this year I’ve been a bit more frugal and just bought Skyrim, the fifth major installment of the Elder Scrolls series.
Here’s the thing: I’ve played bits and pieces of Morrowind and Oblivion, the two previous installments. They were fine, but I never really got into them all that much. Yet I’ve been really enjoying Skyrim a lot. Skyrim’s really popular, but among Elder Scrolls fans, from what I see online, Morrowind is generally regarded as the best game. The rationale I’ve heard mostly has to do with Skyrim being a bit more accessible whereas Morrowind and Oblivion are a bit more complex.
I can definitely appreciate that, but I definitely prefer Skyrim. Maybe it’s the graphics (Skyrim is a GORGEOUS game), maybe it’s that combat feels a lot improved, maybe things feel a little easier (as opposed to my experience playing Morrowind where I had no idea where I was going most of the time). In terms of difficulty, Skyrim is definitely easier. I’m playing on the default difficulty, and things have been much easier than Oblivion or Morrowind. However, I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. I think playing difficult games can be somewhat overrated. There’s kind of a stigma that exists in the video game community against playing a game on easy, but in my opinion if it makes the game more fun then you should play however you want to. I know I play Dragon Age: Origins on Easy mode, because all I really care about is playing the story, not the combat.
Still, I’ve really enjoyed Skyrim. I usually prefer more story-focused RPG games, but it’s just fun to ride a horse around this really gorgeous world. I do wish there was more of a story, but I’m having so much fun doing the small quests that I take a long time actually doing the main missions. The weird thing is, while I usually have trouble with open-world games like this, I do find myself making up a narrative more and more. My character, for example, is protective of her horse more than anything else (I really like my horse even though it’s not even that fast).
So yeah, it may be a bit watered-down and simplified. But I guess I have bad taste, because it totally worked for me.
What I’m Watching: Parks and Recreation and New Girl
I’m dabbling in other things (I’m going to start to watch Orange is the New Black and The Fall on Netflix), but at the end of the day I keep coming back to some of my favorite comedies. I’ve been rewatching Parks and Rec on Hulu (so rewatching the full 5th season), but I had to jump on New Girl because it was just added to Netflix and I haven’t seen every episode of the first season (because I studied abroad and didn’t watch too much American TV that semester).
Parks and Recreation is my favorite show on TV right now. I initially wrote it off because its initial season was less than stellar and I thought it was just a bad Office spin-off. However, after seeing many recommendations I decided to give it a shot. The reason I really love it so much is that it’s a really positive comedy. The characters all have flaws, but at the end of the day the show is about good people who genuinely care about one another (for the most part) and what they do. This can be rare, as comedies get more and more cynical. I like dark comedy as much as anyone, but it’s refreshing to see comedy that has so much heart to it. I can think of three separate episodes where I’ve sobbed happy tears while watching Parks and Rec. All of this was because I really root for Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope, and I want her to succeed more than any other TV character. The show is just full of so much warmth and love, that it is the definition of a feel-good show.
That doesn’t stop it from being hilarious; there’s a lot of really great humor in the show. Which is almost more remarkable; that it lets you love all the characters on the show, but still is completely hilarious. This is rare, and something I appreciate.
New Girl is also interesting. I was very excited for the show when it first came out. When I saw it I liked it, but didn’t love it. Then slowly, this past season it’s grown to be one of the funnier network comedies out there. Season 2 grew stronger and stronger, as opposed to season 1 which was funny, but more sporadically so. I think a lot of shows, comedies especially, need a bit of time to find what they’re going to be. So if you wrote off either of these shows based off their first seasons, I’d suggest checking them out again.