Life Game Mysteries: What happens at level 65?

My awesome Dad, inspired by The Girl’s updates on her experiences of life from a gamer’s perspective, spontaneously wrote me this guest post. As you can see, there are some scary changes ahead in Life Game when you get to my Dad’s dizzying heights. Anyone got some advice from the other side of Level 65?


Hi Gamers – Old Fogey here!


I have been playing the Life Game for almost 65 years without even knowing that I have been manipulating Life Bars. But now I finally realise how satisfying it is to know (part of) the Rules of the Game. I dearly want you to understand my problems being Level 64 without having a clue how to manage the Game. I need help, desperately. Note that I have only recently learnt that I was a RPGer and thus I am only a novice at the terminology. Please help me learn and develop my skills.

I have been searching for people at work who can tell me what is going to happen at Level 65, but strangely there is nobody present who is at Level 65. Searching up and down, they have disappeared! It gets me worried no end. What happens when you attain that level? Do you drop out of the Life Game; is Level 64 the last one? Is Level 65 a deep abyss, a black hole, in which you fall and from where no information returns? Are there special skills to acquire or specific spells to complete the transition to Level 65? Do I need to collect hard-to-get objects in my inventory?

OldFogey1A real puzzling problem is that I used to think that there was a strong relation between the Work Bar and the Money Bar. People have mentioned that there is no work available or carried out at Level 65. How can that be? Empty Work Bar, Empty Money Bar! How will I fill my inventory and Money Bar? But there are no longer any 65-levellers around to tell me where to get Cheat Codes and Hacks.

Fear mounts, rapidly. There is a folklore that in Holland, where I live, there are NPCs called ABP and AOW who will fill your Money Bar automatically each month while you Work Bar remains empty. This sounds absurd and does nothing to alleviate my fears.

OldFogey2Strangely, Gamers who are still at a much lower level keep asking me how I will handle Level 65 and beyond. How can one know if there are no 65+ Gamers around at the Work Place? These low-level Gamers seem to expect sensible answers, but there is no information. Please do you have any for me?

I have heard suggestions that one should put lots of points in the Health and Fitness Bar. This will prevent all kinds of awful things happening to you. Also full attention seems to be necessary for the Good Food and Wine Bar. Paying much attention to the Beauty Bar seems to be a lost cause as your Physical Attraction Bar is already way down.


Rumour has it that at Level 65 you will get access to new activities and areas. Wish it was true. So far I think I should concentrate on stuffing my inventory with Cuddle Points from beginning Gamers. They seem to thrive on them and hand them out with glee.

Cuddlepoints1It will bear heavily on your Money Bar as presents seem to be obligatory as well – without them only limited Cuddle Points are to be had. According to folklore, such points seem to be necessary to move on to higher levels. Maybe these are only rumours, who can tell?

Well Gamers, please help me in these uncertain times. Level 65 is inexorably approaching even without me making any effort. Without your help, how can I survive and enter Level 65 with confidence and a restful mind?


All the best,

Old Fogey




Into the Woods

The woods are just trees
The trees are just wood
I have no fear nor no one should

Today, I took advantage of the fact that my parents were around to go on a little trip into the local woods with the Boy. Opa came with us, but we left Oma at home to look after the Girl. She needed a sit down after hoovering my stairs and cleaning my bathroom.

I love the fact that we have a small wood just across the road. I hardly ever visit it, though. One reason is that the paths are inaccessible for buggies. This makes the wood all the more natural and charming, but it means I haven’t really ventured forth into it for the past three years. As soon as the Boy was old enough to be able to manage the walk with confidence, the Girl arrived. So today, Oma watched her as she tested various objects around the house for their usefulness as a walker, while Opa, the Boy and I set out on our forest adventure.

The Boy always wants to take things with him on outings. These were his objects of choice today:

Things you need for a walk in the woods: a doctor's case and a polar bear driving a car

Things you need for a walk in the woods: a doctor’s case and a polar bear driving a car

The reason you need two spare adults (one to mind the baby and one to come along) for a trip to our local forest became apparent to my Dad as soon as we got to the entrance.

“It’s not a very clean wood,” he said, surveying the bouquet of freshly trampled beer cans, discarded crisp wrappers, empty packets of biscuits and used condoms artfully displayed among the foliage.

Yes. We live in a run-down area and what happens in the forest when no one is looking I will leave up to your imagination. Suffice it to say that it is good not to go in alone, just in case. And not to go in after dark. Or stay too long. Before children, I once went running there with a friend and we encountered a police man. The forest was part of his beat, it seemed. He was strolling along, looking reassuring, and nodded a greeting as we jogged past.

“I’m not sure we could get the better of any attackers if there were three of them.” My Dad, always the academic, set about analysing the probabilities once I’d explained that he was our body guard.

“It’s okay,” I said, surveying a large branch lying across the path, “There are plenty of improvised weapons around.”

“Still… If there were three of them…”

“We wouldn’t need to beat them, we’d just need to stall them enough that we could run away.”

My Dad still looked doubtful, so I thought I’d impart some of my husband’s best self-defence wisdom: “Aim for the eyes. Everyone will naturally move to protect their eyes – then you run.”

“But wouldn’t they catch us? They’d be faster.” We were further into the wood by now. The debris had thinned a bit and the sun came out, lighting up the path ahead.

“Monkey! I see monkey inna tree,” the Boy exclaimed, entirely unphased and unaware of our rather morbid conversation.

“Wow, you can see a monkey?” I asked. “Shall we collect some different shaped leaves to go in your doctor’s case?”

“Yes. Love a different shapes,” he declared, pulling fistfuls of leaves off the nearest bush and stuffing them into the case.

“And scream. You could scream really loudly. But that’s not easy to do,” my Dad said, still studying our potential predicament from all angles.

We came to the edge of the wood, where you can stand on a raised bank and look out over the fields.

“Wow!” the Boy said. “Farm.”

“Somebody lit a fire here,” my Dad remarked, peering into the ditch. Burned branches and charred beer cans.

All in all, we decided it was wisest to take the Boy’s collection of leaves straight home to Oma, and headed back out of the forest. We took a bit more time wandering through the streets, letting the Boy stop and collect flowers.

“Need all-a colours of a rainbow,” he said. “Present for Oma.”

Leaves and colourful flowers for Oma

Leaves and colourful flowers for Oma. In a zip-lock bag.

Into the woods, and out of the woods
and home before dark.*

*Not my poetry. Song lyrics from Sondheim’s musical “Into the Woods”.

Opa and Oma



To the Boy’s utter delight, Opa and Oma arrived this morning to stay for the weekend. They came over from Nininand [The Netherlands] by car on the ferry, bringing all sorts of delights with them, such as a book about Pinocchio and a Pinocchio puppet for the Boy, and an adorable little dress for The Girl. They made me very happy by bringing a crate full of my favourite Dutch food stuffs and setting about cleaning my house for me.

My parents were not sure they were ready to become grandparents. When my husband and I first mentioned the fact that we were considering starting a family soon, a look of panic crossed my mother’s face and she said: “As long as you don’t expect me to babysit!” Part of the panic was the introduction of a taboo subject at the dinner table (“one does not discuss procreation with anyone other than the parties directly involved in making the baby”), but I think she also felt a certain dread at the prospect of shifting up a generation.

This led me to reflect on what it means to be a grandparent. What is your role, how does your attitude to life shift? Obviously, I can’t comment from personal experience, but from observation a lot of it seems to be about supporting your children as they become parents. It is like you step back a little and work behind the scenes. My parents are used to living like people in the prime of their life: they are active, they travel, they get involved in new things, they take centre stage. Of course, everyone is the protagonist in their own lives, but the importance and the potential of children temporarily gives their parents the very special role of Shaper. For this time in our lives when our main job is to raise children to become well-rounded, happy people, we are shaping society, shaping the world and shaping the future through them. Grandparents are there in the wings. They pat us on the back when we come off stage left, convinced we did an appalling job. They hand us props and tools when we need them. They change the set between acts. And because they are old hands at the play themselves, they know the lines, they’ve done it before, they can cover for us occasionally, when it gets a bit too much.

The day I found out I was pregnant with my son, I was due to pick my mother up from the station. We were going to a spa to celebrate my birthday, so I thought it would be wise to just check. Just to be sure. I wasn’t expecting a positive result – we had been trying for 18 months and I had been diagnosed with poly-cystic ovaries, so the chance was slim – but I just quickly did a test five minutes before I was due to head out. I was pregnant. My husband and I were in shock. I raced out to see my mum, now about fifteen minutes late, and told her straight away.

The first thing she said was: “Oh you *must* move back to the Netherlands, so I can babysit!”

Now that the kids are here, my parents love being Opa and Oma.  They are experts at support from the wings:

* They dedicate themselves to learning how we like to do things with the kids and how best to take care of them so that they can slot into our household and contribute to its running. “Opa, she has to grab the cucumber herself. That is what her mother wants,” my Mum berates my Dad when he tries to stuff a morsel of food in The Girl’s mouth.

* They look out for handy gadgets that might make life easier, appearing on the doorstep with a miniature gazebo (brought over in their car all the way from the Netherlands) to provide shade for our paddling pool.

* They cook, they clean, they make dinner and buy treats. “You shouldn’t take this as criticism,” my Dad says, wearing my apron and wielding a sponge, “but shall I just quickly clean your fridge?”

* They don’t live down the road, which is sad, but we talk on Skype twice a week to keep the relationship going from afar. My son is over the moon when we go and visit them or they come here. When he was a lot smaller, my Dad mused: “Why do you think he likes us so much? What is it he sees in us?”

“He sees that you love him,” was my reply.

So here’s to you, Opa and Oma! Thank you for being so wonderful, and for being there-and-here for us!

opa en oma