The Varieties of Thanksgivings

Help - Old Woman Lost in Cyberspace

category_bug_journal2.gif Many years ago, in 1989 or 1990, a computer game named SimCity was released for IBM PC computers which at the time still ran on DOS – no Windows yet. By today's computer graphics standards, SimCity was primitive then, almost pre-historic, but no one knew yet what was to come and I was thrilled. It was magical.

I have no memory of how I discovered SimCity. I had no interest in computer games in general and it seems odd now that I would have noticed it but somehow it came into my field of vision, I bought it and was hooked.

For the uninitiated, SimCity was (and still is) an urban planning game that allows a player – as mayor - to build cities with industrial, commercial and residential zones, hook them up to utilities, supply other urban necessities, handle the budget and watch the cities grow – unless you screw up and the city becomes blighted.

(Much later, the company released a Sims life simulation game sequel based around activities and relationships rather than urban planning. That one held no charms for me.)

When Windows came along, I upgraded SimCity and in subsequent versions, the cities became animated. When you built roads, cars ran on them; when you bulldozed a lot to make room for new buildings, puffs of debris floated up. There were sound effects now. It was delightful.

Although I never got bored with SimCity, my life got busier and there was little time for games. After a long absence from it, about 12 or 15 years ago I opened SimCity one work evening thinking I'd fool around for an hour or so before going to bed.

Suddenly, a contact lens fell out of one eye onto the keyboard and with a glance at the clock I could see that I'd been playing for four hours. If you had asked me how long I'd been at it, I would have guessed about an hour.

On only four hours of sleep, I was miserable at work the next day. I now understood why parents could not pry their children from Tomb Raider, Super Mario Brothers or any of the others. With modern-day graphics, the immersion is total.

It was scary that so much time could go by without my noticing. Nevertheless, as tired as I was at work, I was eager to get home to the game and that was even scarier.

Thinking it over on the subway, I had no difficulty imagining myself clicking away at my cities night after night, obsessing about them at work, rushing home to stuff myself with deli takeout while living inside SimCity instead of New York as my body gradually came to resemble that of Jabba the Hut.

Other people have crystal meth, heroin, oxycodone and various club drugs. I had SimCity.

So I banned the game from my life. I erased it from my hard drive. I forgot about it. Oh, now and again over the years, I checked out the graphic advances in the game. It was getting better and better. But I fended off temptation.

Until Saturday when somewhere online I ran across a reference to the game.

It had to my evil twin because it was not me who downloaded the latest SimCity that evening (now only $10). Of course, it is so changed and improved since I last played (it's gorgeous, fabulous, fantastic) that I had to work through some tutorials to get the hang of the controls. I did that and went to bed.

All the above is by way of telling you that I spent most of Sunday afternoon deep inside SimCity and literally forgot that I had not written a Monday blog post until just now.

Someday, when it is recalled that there once was an elderblog called Time Goes By and someone asks whatever happened to Ronni Bennett...

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Madonna Dries Christensen: It's Been a Long, Long Time


Oh no, I had never heard of SimCity until now but your account makes me want to take a look.

If I go several days without a fresh post, it will be your fault!

At least you build cities. I shoot Snoods when I have to rest from living in our uncivil civilization. They fall so languorously. Beware!

Yet this is a great blog post. It sounds as if this is a delightful way to wile away a few hours.

So glad you passed such a pleasant Sunday with urban planning.

Speaking of all things urban, sharing this site with you and your readers:


Your blog is really having a hard time taking comments for me today. I copied this one from earlier this morning and hope it works now--

I have never gotten into games like that one but it sounds like fun for the game oriented. I heard it's the original origin of Cain's 9-9-9. The only ones I play on line (and not regularly these) are Quiddler, Sudoku, scrabble, crosswords, or a solitaire version of something. I think it can be relaxing and my kids love the story type ones that take a lot to win. I'll keep SimCity in mind though for the future. I used to like to play the board games Risk and Civilization except my son would start building up armaments, no time to enjoy the city part and the next thing I'd know the game would be over ;)

I used to be a Sim City junkie, too. Nothing like a fun game for a time waster!!!! They're insidious!!!!!

Rain and others...
TGB was down for about a half hour this morning and is still loading very slowly with some rendering errors.

This is a server side problem at Typepad over which, of course, I have no control.

Venturing into the blogosphere has the SimCity effect on me! I lose track of time and leave some of life's essentials undone! SimCity (or desperation) must be inspirational! Engaging post!

Similar problems here, but related to reading blogs, commenting on blogs, keeping up with friends and family entries on Facebook (and, I must admit, the occasional game...) or reading a good book for hours on end. However, now that I've been retired (and relaxed) awhile, I've given myself permission to spend a day (or three or four) doing nothing of any serious consequence if I choose, and the world has not yet ended because I put off vacuuming one more day. :) Nice to know I'm not the only one who can get "lost" here!

My game is solitaire... it keeps my PC monitor/screen on my inbox page while watching TV! Elizabeth

My daughter gave me Sim City and it is still on a shelf waiting for me to get back to it. I was too new to computers then and I never got into it. Maybe I'll dig it out and give it another 'go' but I guess mine is so old that it would no longer interest me.

What am I saying? I have so many projects going now (including setting up a new computer) that I will never get back to blogging much less a game.

I do play Solitaire when I get stressed as it seems to relax me.

My daughter is the one who's gotten into all the Sims people games. I think she has every one created so far. I have three games I've purchased for my personal use: Bookworm Deluxe, Bejeweled 3, and Rainbow Web. I find all three very relaxing to play at the end of a busy day. For some reason, tho, games like Sim City, Farmville, etc., have never held any appeal to me. I guess because life is so full at this stage I don't have the creative juices left after caring for my young grandsons full time every work day. The word and puzzle games strain my brain cells just enough to let me know I still have a few up there.

Ronni, up the road here in Salem we have a nightmare building project, a municipal office building in the center of downtown that went very, very bad at only 10 years of age. (It's too dangerous to occupy, but of course the millions in "construction debt" grinds on and on). A Sim City whiz such as yourself would have seen and avoided the entire mess--I *know* it. So, don't deride the mental muscles this game develops--we could have used them when this mess was built and still could while the county tries to decide whether to tear it down or attempt to repair it.

Games are great time fillers. I'm not a game person, really, but they do come in handy sometimes as boredom chasers.

I've never played a computer game! My computer has always been synonymous with WORK--and still is--but I do find myself reading various blogs and articles. There's so much information and other stuff online these days that it's hard to resist wandering off. Then there's my husband. As a military man and police officer in his younger days, he enjoys warrior/strategy games and can play for hours.

Uh huh. You're becoming a slacker. :-)

My addiction is Poppit and Turbo 21 on the POGO game sight.

Ah AH! Another Sim City Addict - like you, I had to banish the game from my computer when I was working. THEN I discovered Caesar I, II and III and later, Pharaoh/ Cleopatra, city building games set in the ancient world. The graphics, city building and game place still fascinate me, even though the games haven't been ungraded in ages. In fact, although I am a Mac user, I have an IBM laptop which I use just for those games. Sometimes when I'm feeling gloomy and unappreciated, I lift my spirits by being Caesar, if only for a few hours.

You made me laugh with this one, Ronni. You might be interested in checking out the books and TED talk and website of Jane McGonigal. She discusses what it is about games that makes them so attractive, and how we can harness that for social good using online multiplayer games. She's a fascinating person, and would not be at all surprised to learn that old women love to play games.


Full confession.

Bless me, etc.


wow a blast from the past, before Sim City came out I played a pre-curser model of this game at UNH extension program at Pease Air Force base in NH. It was fascinating - and when the game came out commercially I was tempted but did not buy it. I am tempted to buy it now but I manage to spend too much time in front of the computer as it is so I think I will restrain myself.

I've played a few computer games (Solitaire, Angry Birds) but would rather get lost in following tutorials for, and creating "stuff" in, Photoshop and InDesign. Doing so feels like playing to me. It's fun!

It's fun to get lost in writing, too (short stories, poems, essays, whatever).

"To each his own," as they say.

Well when I got strung out on it in ~1992, I finally managed to build a city that was self-supporting. So I just let it run a few days until it made so much money -- that I quit playing it!

Me and Donald Trump,I guess.

But today I installed Ubuntu, just to spite Microslop, and it feels like I am off and running again, cuz I can't put it down!

Not necessarily a bad way to go.

Ronni--Very nicely done. It's been years since I've heard a really good shaggy dog story.
P.S. Yes, most machines in 1989-1990 still ran DOS. I recall that, as program manager on a (very small) missile program, I talked a VP into letting me purchase one 286, two 386s, one dot matrix printer, one electrostatic printer (and an interface contraption) and a MAC IIe with company funds. We purchased Windows 286 and whatever version of Windows it was that ran on 386s, Word Star, and Lotus 1-2-3. Ahhh...memories.

P.P.S. Come to think of it, the above info pertained to purchases made in early summer of 1988!

I recall losing quite a few hours of sleep over SimCity. But we always seem to go back to the old-fashioned board games -- Monopoly, Scrabble, Balderdash, and our latest, Apples to Apples.

The last time I got time-warped online was on the trail of long lost ancestors. Fascinating. But my guilty secret time waster is Sudokus. Addicted, sad to say.

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