Five Out of Five Mullets Return to Valheim

Five Out of Five Mullets Return to Valheim The Garrett Ashley Mullet Show

After several weeks of intensive enjoyment, starting shortly after the game was first released in February of last year, my sons and I mostly gave up on Valheim, despite it having been voted the best game of 2021 according to PC Gamer, after having some issues with the reliability of the private server we were playing on. With a few, brief, scattered exceptions, we haven’t played it since. 

Returning this week, to the wonderful world of Viking survival, having built two My Tech High desktop computers since, we have begun again with our characters where we left off, and have not been disappointed to find the game as good as, and better than, we were fondly remembering it. 

Our new server, which my sons set up on the our most recent build, is still in its early stages of development. Not many hours so far, for Josiah, Eli, Sol, Dan, and myself all playing together, we are nevertheless off to a great start, as they go a-questing, and I stay back to build the base, and organize the materials and fortifications.

We’re excited to have a new randomly generated map, and build a new base, and explore what updates have been added to the game by its developers. These together, as well as how long it’s been since last we played, make Valheim at once both familiar and fresh.

This, then, is my follow-up, to the podcast episodes I recorded back in February of 2021, as well as March of the same year, in which I excitedly told our tales of daring-do. Let me therefore double down on what has not changed in the way of my opinion of this way of spending our time together.

That is, my opinion holds, regarding playing a game like Valheim with my four older sons, that it is every bit as valid a way to build relational, communication, and teamwork skills, as if my sons were to join a sports team. Though, for a surety, we are not getting out and physically active, this avenue has the advantage of us not needing to actually go anywhere in real life to play the sport, particularly when fuel costs, as well as the costs of everything else, having gone up in recent months and years. Besides, it’s winter outside, and we would be staying home anyways.

But now it is even better. We have four desktop computers, plus the trusty old gaming laptop, where before we could only play three of us at a time, with my four older sons trading off two at a time. Now all five of us can quest together simultaneously. 

And that really is glorious. Five is a server half full, after all. And it’s enough to do some significant exploring, questing, gathering, and building, and to make rapid progress, and to ultimately prove successful where before we were clumsily stumbling around, more like newborn foals than the hardy warhorses we are now.

To the stodgy, those who are always ready to warn about the dangers of videogames, and every other enjoyable and happy thing in life, particularly the deleterious effect on morals and manliness they will have if enjoyed, my enthusiastic claim about Valheim being good for character building will be met with skepticism, if not outright scoffing.

To my way of thinking, the term ‘narrowminded’ actually finds its appropriate usage describing these folks. Playing this game with my sons is an excellent investment of our time and attention, whatever they say. And my ambition here does not lack in merit just because the lessons being learned are accessed through a mouse, keyboard, and monitor, or internet connection.

The fun and newfangledness may throw off the detractors. So also, the way many approach games in as much an anti-social way as a sociable pursuit, has surely put a bad taste in the mouth of traditionalists.

But if character building, in more than one way, happens to be fun, or in some ways novel, that is only all the better instead of worse. Or what, should it be an arduous and miserable thing to get these skills, and cultivate this perceptiveness?

If that is what we have come to expect, the sooner we correct the misapprehension the better. At minimum, let us not make misery and unfeeling into prerequisites. Nor either should we be Luddites.

Believe it or not, I will even employ my tired old phrase here, which I repeat every time the latest scandal to do with American public education makes the headlines.

And this is why we homeschool.

Tolkien and Lewis would be on my side, by the way. Of that I am quite sure.

To quote Clive Staple, from On Stories: And Other Essays on Literature: 

“When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty, I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”

And let’s cite John Ronald Reuel for good measure. From Tolkien On Fairy-stories:

“Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if, when he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls?”

Yet I may take this Valheim business a slightly different direction, even so. Let’s also talk of James Cameron’s views on testosterone, and lawsuits dismissed or else allowed to proceed; let’s do consider “glory clouds” at places like Bethel Church in Redding, or how Klaus Schwab and the WEF are trying to take over the world.

It cannot all be make-believe, after all. And we have to know the real world when we come back to it, so we can engage with it appropriately. But then that really is my whole point.

If playing this game with my sons helps them to have a laboratory for learning to be decisive, brave, and creative, or to work together to accomplish noble and worthy deeds, even against perilous monsters, then it seems good to me that the real world will be the better for us having played it together.

What’s more, I believe the real world will be the better for it.

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