Our concert on the Methel stage

The Traveling Bilberries is the name of the band which I play in.  I am mainly a lyricist and theorbo player.

Tonight we did our first proper concert although we have performed a couple of times so far.  Here is the video of the concert.

I do want to post about making music in Lotro but that can wait – but at the moment I am exhausted and not really ready for a huge discussion on creativity and virtual  music making but I do want to post  his.  I have after-gig exhaustion and the usual high which will mean a crashing low tomorrow.

I was slightly disappointed by the number of attendees at our gig, but pleased about how it went – except that I made two errors; twice as many as anyone else – oh how annoying!  Tomorrow I will be so down about those errors.

Gaming is OK, really!

There was a point in my life where I realised that all the sexism and violence that I had seen in computer games were actually having little or no effect on the actual tendency to commit violence in the person I was most worried for – my son.

He played Tomb Raider and I had real problems with this partly because a hypersexualised mannequin was the heroine. That was the game he chose to show me to prove that games weren’t sexist – it has a female in the lead! I knew in the back of my mind that the others he played were probably much more questionable but I never asked and he never told.

Yet he grew into an OK bloke, who is not sexist or racist or homophobic.

I knew also that my partner was a gamer too, and I could see he was playing violent games as well, but he was the mildest and most reasonable person I know. Now here’s a thought – maybe I ought to try violent games as a substitute for real violence to help me get rid of my anger? That wasn’t my reasoning then, nor now, but is worth thinking about.

A 'no guns' sign

I don’t like guns.

There was a point where I grew interested in what my beloved was doing in these games. I suppose my first game where I actually killed something would have been Doom. We started off by Beloved trying to show me how atmospheric it was to have headphones on and be running through corridors. So I had a go, and that led me to play for quite a while, and yes, I did actually enjoy killing the aliens. But you see, that was the point, as long as it was aliens it was OK. It didn’t mean that I would be killing the next door neighbour. I still have this fear of de-humanising real people – I know it is the first step in creating a real enemy, and I don’t want any part of that. And then there were people in Doom and that shook me a little, but I figured that they were aliens too, so that was all right.

I went back to Transport Tycoon and other sims in my virtual world and ignored the games paraphernalia that came into the house – the driving wheel, the joysticks, the flight game controllers, with names like thrustmaster. I knew that they were never for me.

I think Bioshock was the first game I actually wanted to play but I already knew that I wouldn’t be able to. The platform games I had tried in the past led me to decide that fps games and I wouldn’t mix. I am dyslexic and have very poor hand to eye coordination as well as very little patience with anything or anyone that I don’t teach. Put me in a classroom and I never lose patience with a learner, anywhere else and I will lose my rag very quickly. But Bioshock was lovely; beautiful and I wanted to wander round that world. I tried it and struggled but then there was Portal.

Now around this time my Beloved decided that what would bring us closer would be if we could game together.  Portal 2 had just come out and he wanted to play it anyway and this collaborative game would be ideal to allow us to play together.  So I tried to play Portal.

The image shows a slice of lovely cake with the familiar Portal comment that "the cake is a lie"

One of the best phrases to ever come out of a game!

Oh at last! A game designed for me. I think that was the very first game I ever completed (with one bit of help on a bit that was a too difficult – where you had to jump and I couldn’t get it). I cried at the ending, I really did and only partly because it was the first game I had finished (apart from sims).  Now I was ready for Portal2  and gaming with another person.

I was wrong about computer gaming

I tried pong. I lasted about five seconds: I was useless at it. You had to pay for each game. What annoyed me was that I was being penalised for being rubbish at it – I couldn’t practice to get any better because I wasn’t good enough to get any bonuses. I tried asteroids and breakout and  space invaders.  I was useless at them all.  The first negative I found– games are (or can be) expensive.

picture shows a male using a space invaders machine

I never really got on with such games

Shareware was the start of my connection with computer games (or video games – I never worked out which is the correct term). Often games were given away on magazine covers – in the form of a floppy disk, and if they would run on my 386 dx25 we would try them. I tried Tetris, and got better at that because I didn’t have to pay to practice. I found it addictive and it was soon pointed out that I got quite angry and annoyed when interrupted especially if anyone tried to get me to give up playing it. I found my second negative there – so games do affect us, they can make us angry and aggressive, but I stress the word CAN.


An image of a screenshot of Transport Tycoon

For years this was my favourite game

Somehow I ended up with Transport Tycoon – Oh, how I love that game! A train-set: one that I can lay out as I wish, with proper signals and trains, and stations and… oh …all sorts. I had the train-set I always wanted as a girl and never got, probably because I was a girl. I played the first shareware version for years: it was limited to a year’s virtual play and only trains, but that was fine by me. My son bought me the boxed set full game for my birthday or mother’s day one year and it was one of his best gifts ever. Now I could run buses and lorries and trams. I quickly discovered that you could scupper your opponent by driving a worthless train across their road and stopping it on a level crossing (and yet I hate game cheats)! I played this constantly, rarely trying anything else to be honest and this is possibly why I believed so much utter tosh about computer games – they were all violent, sexist, racist and wholly undesirable for children. Transport Tycoon was off course an exception as it was for adults and was a sim. After a time I started to collect various Sim games.

By now I had seen a familiar pattern occurring in the marriages and relationships of friends that I found worrying. I was seeing, all around me, men and boys spending more and more time on the computer game and leaving their wives/girlfriends/partners/siblings to do the housework. Now this is no new phenomenon – some men were very good at avoiding their share of housework, and always will be and the truth is that if they were not playing games they would be doing something else to escape housework. Those men would be out at the pub, or even for the older men in the shed.

(I just want to point out that this is not all men, OK)

But for a young woman who is looking at games with a negative eye this was another reason why I disapproved of them.
The problems still existed in my head – video (computer) games are:

  • a waste of money
  • in the main violent and should therefore not be promoted
  • in the main sexist and should therefore not be promoted
  • in the main addictive and should therefore not be promoted


I now think that I was wrong about much of this. I am now, I suppose, a gamer. My views are now much different, but I wanted to explain where I had come from and how far I have travelled.