singular pleasures

I … I am back on the Euro Truck Simulator 2.

I always say the full thing, including the number. I like to be fully aware of the reality of what I am doing with mean.

Every now again a sim game will pop up on Steam, faintly hilarious in its sincerity and banality: Wood Chopping Simulator 9, Road Sweeper Simulator 6. Try and actually play game – and I’m a sufficiently ironic motherfucker dick to occasionally do that sort of thing – and the joke lasts all about five minutes before actual hardcore unfun sets in.

But Euro Truck Simulator 2?

I don’t know. It just love … simulating that Euro Truck (2). I’m damned if I can tell you why. I mean, if I want to get stuck in traffic on the outskirts of Birmingham, I can do that myself, thank you very much. But, somehow, impossibly, Euro Truck Simulator 2 is one my life’s pleasures.

(Err, and I don’t get me wrong, my life has normal pleasures as well, like food and sex and sunsets and friends … but it also has Euro Truck Simulator 2).

The … err … premise of Euro Truck Simulator 2 is that you are an upcoming young trucker. Your aim is to work your way up from a lowly driver to … well… I don’t really know … Hilary Devey, I guess. Mainly this involves freighting stuff around Europe, earning enough money to allow you to buy your own truck, enlarging your garage (that’s not a euphemism) and hiring staff.

My own, err, trucker is called Rizo because, from the limited selection of profile pictures available, I chose one who looked a bit like Rizo from Grease, if she’d really, really let herself go. Her company is, naturally, called Get Trucked.

So far I have two drivers, three trucks, £50,000 in the bank, and £400,000 of debt.

But I feel there’s a story here. Currently it’s kind of a rags to, well, rags to tale … but I feel Rizo is standing for something: this middle-aged woman building herself up from nothing in what I presume is quite a male-dominated industry.

Generally as I truck across Europe – hauling woodchips from Felixstowe to Milan – I watch the landscapes change and sunrises over the motorways, and I listen to country music. I don’t know why. Based on no knowledge or experience, I feel this is something a trucker might do.

You can’t really play Euro Truck Simulator 2 obsessively. Which is good for me because I can disappear into a good game like I can disappear into a good book, except a book will take me a couple of hours, and a game can give me a world vast enough it takes me seventy or so to explore (hello there Skyrim). But Euro Truck Simulator 2 is a game for twenty minutes here and there. Over the past week I’ve hauled hot chemicals (ooh la la) from Gdansk to Aberdeen and, honestly, I feel pretty good about it. I feel I’ve achieved something.

Now if only I could remember what possessed me to accumulate half a million quid of debt.

But I think what Euro Truck Simulator 2 gives me … is space. I love games, but games are demanding. They’re bright and loud: run faster, jump higher, blow up more things. Euro Truck Simulator 2 is quiet. There’s just you, and the open road, and the sky – and an enormous trailer of hazardous materials, but who’s counting? My first couple of jobs didn’t go so well: upended trucks keening like wounded bison by the side of the motorway. Then I realised: stop driving like you’re in Grand Theft Auto. There really is no rush, here. Aberdeen ain’t going nowhere. So now I just take my time, drive carefully, follow the rules, and breathe.

The more I think about it, the more I realise, Euro Truck Simulator 2 is my new smoking. Despite being able to addict myself to all manner of absurd things, smoking has never been that kind of problem for me. I just, y’know, like it. I’m a fast-talking, hand-waving, highly-strung neurotic. Smoking used to calm me right down. More than that, it gave me permission to … just … stop. Because when you’re smoking, you’re smoking. That’s what you’re doing. For however long it takes you to pollute yourself with a cylinder of tar and nicotine you’re occupied. It’s like – to take a less harmful example – travelling or cooking or having a bath (or, less effectively, a shower). Not exactly activities one would consider a hobby (with the exception of cooking) but I nevertheless enjoy: moments when all rules and expectations are suspended, so there’s only the activity of the body and the freedom of the mind.

Aaaand in other news, my steampunk western, Prosperity is out. That is exciting.

Release week is blog tour is nearly over but there’s still chat and giveaways and excerpts and silliness on the Steampunk Flashgroup if you care to join us.

I also have Prosperity postcards that I would be delighted to send to anyone who would like them. You can message me via the group or elsewhere. They are soooo pretty.


playing, writing
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9 Responses to singular pleasures

  1. Pam/Peejakers says:

    First of all, let me say I *cannot* *believe* you managed to get in a blog post here this month! With everything else you’ve had going on?! I can’t decide if we should start calling you super-dude or crazy-dude 😉

    Anyway, hehe, I love this 😉 I remember seeing where you were playing this a lot last winter. I think it was right after I “discovered” you 😉 You’ll laugh, but at first I thought it was real, that you actually had a sideline as a long distance trucker! Drivin’ a big rig & shiftin’ gears, haulin’ woodchips & whatever 😉 And I was kind of like, wait, what, really? Okay, Wow! ” But I kind of got a kick out of the idea, to be honest.

    However, wood chips are one thing; hazardous chemicals are something else! So I’m glad you’re not actually risking life & limb driving dangerous cargo around. And & getting deep in debt for your efforts! The simulator version has all the good& none of the bad 🙂

    By the way, since I’m in the middle of reading Prosperity, this piece & my memory inspired a mental picture of you driving a big truck with the windows open & wind in your hair kind of like Byron Kae on the deck of Shadowless!. You definitely need to do that if you ever drive anything but a virtual truck 😉

    It does make me grin, how much you love this game 🙂 But I see how it would be relaxing. Some people like actual driving for that reason. Being able to zone out of your head for a while & just be in the moment of doing a thing is definitely stress reducing. “Activity of the body and the freedom of the mind”, exactly. I used get that from exercise, when I *ahem* actually did it regularly, which I need to get back to again. It felt like meditation to me.

    I’ve always thought it was so funny about smoking, how it calms people down even though nicotine is a stimulant. My husband has always said exactly the same thing. But I think you’ve just sort of explained why;)

    As for Prosperity, once again: Yaaaaay!!! I’m reading it slowly due to all the distraction celebrating of it’s release & the winding down of QRM. But what I’ve read I love & I think it’s really something special. And now that both the Steampunk Flashgroup for Prosperity & QRM are drawing to a close, give yourself a rest & some space to read & play Euro Truck Simulator 2 and, y’know, sleep & breathe. But then, when you’ve done all that, don’t forget to check out comments to the various blog posts & interviews you’ve scattered around the internet this past week or so. Including your post at Wonkomance *hints* 😉

  2. Ellie says:

    It seems this is the only place that I haven’t yet commented under a post of yours 🙂 And Twitter, but since I don’t have a Twitter account and just follow your tweets occasionally.

    Anyway, on the topic of games. My husband is the real gamer at our house, he plays some action 3D games on PS, on the computer which I so not my thing. I used to play a lot of simple search/mystery games but they can be addictive. Then I went back to reading, had a baby, started a blog and I have not time for games. Reading and blogging about books became my way to unwind.

    This “I’m a fast-talking, hand-waving, highly-strung neurotic” sounds so familiar, I have to admit. In my work I often interpret English-Bulgarian at meetings and the main criticism of my old boss was that I was waving my hands too much while talking. It’s like they say for the Italians that if you bind their hands they won’t be able to talk 🙂

    As for the neurotic part, I don’t even want to go there 🙂 I will just say that I just finished Glitterland and it’s scary how much I could relate to some of Ash’s thoughts and experiences.

  3. willaful says:

    My mom was the same about smoking — she said it was never addictive (she had no trouble not smoking when she was sick) — but that she just really liked it. She did give it up and is still kind of sad about it.

    Your feelings about this game remind me of “Smashhit,” a delightful game which is all about smashing glass and listening to the sound it makes. They recently added a “zen” mode in which all you do is smash while you’re drifting through a surreal landscape — no wins, no losses. I exclaimed, “It’s so pretty, and nothing can harm you!” and then realized I had paraphrased “everything is beautiful and nothing hurt.” 🙂

    My son recently expressed the opinion that mobile games were better for him than console, because they weren’t as overstimulating. I’m so impressed with development his self-knowledge lately.

  4. Vanessa says:

    ironic mothertrucker. 😛

    I like what you say about it giving you permission to not do anything else. I always feel like I need to stop trying to do all the things at once (and failing at many of them)–maybe I need a game in my life.

    Congrats on your new release–I loved it, and can’t wait to read more. 🙂

  5. Ellie says:

    I wrote a long, detailed comment and must have messed something up and it’s lost, though miraculously I’ve managed to subscribe to other comments and posts from the site. Some technical genius am I 🙂

    Onto the post.
    I used to play some simple search/mystery games some time ago, but my husband is the real game player in our house – he plays all sorts of action games in the Play Station, the computer. The games can be a great way to relax but they can be so addictive (for me, at least). Then I went back to reading, started blogging, had a baby and playing games completely fell of my schedule.

    What struck me most in you post was this bit – “I’m a fast-talking, hand-waving, highly-strung neurotic”. It sounds so familiar. I do a lot of English-Bulgarian interpretation at official meetings at my job and the main criticism from my old boss was that I was waving my hands too much when speaking. It’s like they say for the Italians that if you tied their hands they wouldn’t be able to talk at all.

    I was far as the neurotic bit goes, I won’t even go there. I will just tell you that I finished Glitterland the other day and it’s scary how much I can relate to some of Ash’s thoughts and fears.

    Not to bore you with my musing anymore, I hope you get a good rest after the hectic (for you) and absolutely wonderful (for your fans) QRM and I will be looking forward to seeing more of you on GR soon.

  6. A.B. Gayle says:

    Maybe you’re four hundred thousand in debt cos you’re taking it nice and slow! Why do you think all those log books get dodgied up? Still owning trucks is a costly exercise. I’ve met people who own real ones and they’re so much at the mercy of jobs. Drought? No crops to take to silos. An idle truck loses money.

    At least it’s only virtual money.

    Is seeing the countryside part of the attraction? Running around Skyrim was also good for that.

  7. Pam/Peejakers says:

    Hunh, I was wondering why I was the only one who commented on this! I guess everything was hung up in a filter somewhere? I just looked this morning, still just 1 – and now “boom”, suddenly 6 comments! Sadly I got all excited thinking you finally had time to answer. Oh well. *keeps waiting* *refrains from tapping foot* 😉

  8. Sandra says:

    I finally had a chance to read Prosperity tonight. I am in awe. I am in love. I am incredibly jealous of your talent. And I want more.

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