“I’ll just escape to the 2D world and console my broken heart.” But the 2D world is not just for escaping anymore – it is invading the “real” world on a broad front, or at least mine.
The Sims 3: University Life is fun and all, but perhaps it did not really deserve four entries. Then again it seems harmless, and does not require lots of special training and strange thinking. The Sims games are a great way to connect to people.
Back in the real world, I will gladly admit that I have mixed feelings about my own scarcity of higher education. I only took two winters of tertiary education. It was a lot of fun, but I was broke and living on my own. My parents were also poor and could not really have helped out much. Student loans were available, but the truth is that I had (and have) no ambitions of career in this world. I enjoyed learning just to learn, but I had no interest in competing and using my elbows to get ahead in the world. As such, I would not fit in too well with the type of people who took higher education in Norway in the early 1980es. It was still some years before college became a natural part of young people’s lives.
If I were suddenly to become rich, I might enroll at a college or university just for the fun of it, but at my age it has no monetary value at all. I would not be finished with a Master of anything until I was 57 or 58, and with the lower bound on retirement age now at 62, no employer would even consider me. We lack qualified workers of many kinds, especially engineers, but the best one can hope for when over 50 is working for a temp agency. I have every intention to work until 75 (the current upper bound on the flexible retirement age) unless some dire illness strikes me down. Which is certainly possible, but what I mean is, I have no intention to ever retire. I intend to work until I die or become disabled, whichever comes first. Work is love. Work is service to God and country and humanity. It is what we were born to do. But learning, learning is fun.
Luckily, unlike my sims, I can study online, and even for free. I can learn math at the Khan Academy, languages at Duolingo and Livemocha, all for free. There are also several traditional universities that offer online lectures and courses, some of these for free as well. I haven’t looked into that yet.
(Livemocha, despite its random name, is a website that helps arrange community-based language learning online. You study some small piece of the language with their course, then practice it with real people who already speak it. Or that is what it looks like from the description. I hear good things about it – it has a lot more languages than Duolingo, for instance – but I would not impose on real people unless there was some dire need. And since I am trying to learn to read, not to speak Japanese, it is anyway not what I am looking for. But it sounds awesome for neurotypicals, who love to do all kinds of things together with real people.)
When not playing The Sims 3, I find myself “playing” with French on Duolingo. It is quite a bit of fun, actually. Between the two, I am even lagging behind on my favorite anime. There are several decent series this year, and I am a couple weeks behind on most of them. What is the world coming to, when learning a random language is more fun than watching anime?
And of course, by now we have to wonder what I meant by “real” world. I suppose studying is more real than watching my sims study, kind of, but I am still listening to a robot voice on the Internet. Between studying French on the Internet and Japanese on my smartphone, playing games and watching anime, there isn’t much that is “real” in the way my grandmother would have meant “real”. But at least i eat real food (noodles are real food, yes?) and sleep in a real bed! Long may that last.