What have I been doing when I find some time to kill but have not the willpower, nor the creative energy to write after a day or week of teaching? I enjoy playing video games, sometimes multiplayer if I’m feeling the competitive edge, when I want to use skills and strategy to overcome (or terribly lose to) an opponent.
Other times, I’ve found myself wanting to explore. I’ve always enjoyed exploring virtual worlds just as I enjoy exploring fictional realms and stories in books. In video games, there’s interactivity and you can affect and change that world to some extent. Sometimes, I enjoy affecting change, altering the world to my whims and witnessing the results of my actions.
Still other times, I simply want to see things. See other places, other worlds, other creatures. To be an observer in the world. I enjoy the simple games, where the action is perhaps not that exciting but the thrill comes from the views, the scenes, the simple pleasures, not the adrenaline rush but a pleasant joyride or a casual stroll through a virtual world.
This sort of fascination began when I caught on to the game EuroTruck Simulator 2, a simulation game where you drive a truck through a simplified (and shortened) version of Europe. You literally are in a truck, you pick up a trailer, you drive on the road avoiding other cars and following the rules of the road (mostly) until you reach your destination, wherein you drop your load off, get paid and move onto the next job. This is all it is. You drive around Europe, carting trailers of ice cream, or logs or hazardous material. There isn’t any racing, or storyline or anything. There’s just the hum of the truck, the winding roads and the landscape that goes by. Sure, there’s a management aspect, where you own a trucking company where you take out loans, hire other drivers and trucks, there’s a role-playing aspect where you gain experience as you complete jobs and work your way up to longer jobs or jobs that have a stricter time limit, etc. But that’s all just hitched alongside the game play, which is simply driving.
There is excitement at times, close calls with other vehicles, taking a corner too tightly, running low on gas or sleep but needing to finish the job, etc. There can be rain and slippery roads and storms. These things happen but rarely. Most of the time you’re just driving, watching the scenery pass by, making sure you stay in your lane, that you’re not speeding, etc.
And I enjoy this.
You can turn on the radio and choose from a long list of internet radio stations from a handful of European countries as well as the good ol’ US of A itself. These stations have everything from Local Indie bands to Electronica to Drum N Bass to Country to Rap to Pop. Did you ever want to drive through along the highways of France listening to Polish Indie music? Well, you can.
The game also has a great Camera Mode so you can pause the action, move the camera around and take a great screenshot. I enjoy this as well, becoming an amateur photographer on the spot, just to take a picture of my sick truck running down the road.
Some would find this game tedious, I’m sure. Repetitive, boring, useless.
I find it pleasant, an escape, simple fun. You just focus on the road and the truck and the tunes and it’s good times.
I even saw a horse!
Any traffic incidents are obviously other people’s faults (and by other people, I mean the computer game that makes the vehicles go vroom)
It’s the simple experience that drives (heh) the joy of playing EuroTruck, the relatively easy and yet at times tense game play of maneuvering a big ol’ truck going down the road, taking turns and trying not to hit things, the beauty of the scenery passing by, farms, forests, mountains, lakes and rivers, etc. It’s the simple things.