This is how it always begins, isn’t it? A lone Sim surveying the big empty lot.
I’m starting another legacy. What? But why? Well, I’m retiring soon from a job I’ve held for a little over 23 years. It would be a good thing, right? But it’s a pandemic retirement–I’m choosing to retire rather than go along with a forced return to an office in a public building during a time of widespread infection.
So here I am, standing at the edge of my own big empty lot. My friend and fellow Simlit blogger Deira inspired me through her own new legacy. She describes how her first legacy pulled her through challenging times. A legacy can do that–the playing and the writing offer a form to explore and investigate the themes of our lives.
Deira also writes, “I’ll be mostly writing from my own perspective. There will be story snippets, probably world lore , but probably not full on story mode.” This is so inspiring to me!
What if I treated the blog as a combination of writer’s journal, game-play notes, and storytelling?
Might this offer me an imaginative and therapeutic way to move through this transition I’m in? Will it help me feel that I’m not missing this huge part of myself that I invested into my career as a web editor for 23 years?
Will it pull me through?
This isn’t going to be a light, everything’s-rosy legacy.
I mean, look at Case Flores. He’s miserable: physically, politically, spiritually, and emotionally.
He’s a green fiend living in an industrial world. (He’s also a vegetarian and a genius.)
The climate crisis is here, now, in his community, crushing down on his big empty lot.
It’s at about this point in the legacy story where the writer explains how the Sim, the founder, acquires the lot. Inheritance? Setting out in a new town? Running away from a checkered past?
His aspiration is Eco Innovator, so let’s go with this: He got a job with an environmental NGO, and his assignment is to do local political, environmental activism here in this crappy city. The job comes with off-the-grid “housing” here in the industrial section.
At this point, I remember he needs a house. My game crashes when I go into build mode. Should I just give up on the legacy? Stick with a game that doesn’t take twenty minutes to load, that doesn’t crash when I use certain features, and that doesn’t require a computer restart after every crash? (Good luck with that! ESO has been regularly crashing, too. Glitches are a daily part of a gamer’s life.)
On restart, I go directly into build mode. That works. The build and buy features from Eco Lifestyle are so cool! Neat windows and doors, solar panels, lots of things that work off-the-grid (from this and other game packs and expansions). I’m starting to feel pretty excited and before I know it, an hour has passed, and I’ve got a cute two-room dwelling to show for it.
The archetypal legacy start: big lot, tiny house, so much potential, let’s see how this grows!
Case Flores is random-generated. I clicked the dice in CAS until he popped up. His name and wardrobe are random-generated, too, but I assigned his traits and aspiration.
When I looked at him in CAS, I had my first doubts about starting a new legacy. He looked so cartoony, and my imagination wasn’t draw into that aesthetic. But look at this here! I can find something to grapple with, imaginatively, in this gritty world, with this edgy guy.
Of course he’s wearing noise-cancelling headphones. This is an abrasive, noisy world.
Every hour or so, he checks the EPA air quality report. It truly is as bad as it shows–well in the red zone every time.
Another local environmentalist drops by, his first guest. They agree on everything.
But it’s not a pleasant conversation. Talking about how bad the air is, how corrupt the local politics are, and how intertwined the industrial practices are to the local economy leaves both of them feeling worse.
I suspect that they forget they are allies in the wash of tension that pulls them under.
The air quality report isn’t any better twenty minutes later.
When I spot someone walking by the lot, I remember the prime-directive of the legacy–find a mate!
She’s so cute: jean-bib skirt with Argyle socks and hiking boots. Bangs and a little curl to her bob cut. I like her.
Case is too tense to make friends. He swears every few minutes. The air is just so fucking polluted that his lungs burn. What a shitty assignment.
“There are butterflies where I live,” Elsa Bjergson says. “Why aren’t there any butterflies here?”
“Because it’s so fricking polluted,” Case answers.
“But it doesn’t have to be, right?” Elsa asks. “I mean, it’s not polluted where I live. We have clean water, and the sky isn’t orange-gray, and we have solar panels, and wind turbines, and gardens. Why don’t you have wind turbines here? You could plant a garden and then the plants would take out the bad stuff from the air and put out good stuff, and then, pretty soon, it would be a better place. And if you have flowers, maybe butterflies will come.”
She had a point. And that was why he was here, after all. It was an assignment, not a lifestyle choice. The assignment was to implant his lifestyle choice here, in this desolate neighborhood that desperately needed a change. What’s a little suffering, if it’s done as part of an effort to make a difference? Maybe then, it eventually stops being suffering. Your eyes still burn, your lungs still get congested, you can’t breathe, your skin itches, you feel, physically, miserable–but you’re not here to have a good time. You’re here because you work for an environmental NGO and your assignment is to work here, locally, to implement eco-friendly Neighborhood Action Plans. You’re here to make a difference.