Most of the people who record themselves playing video games for YouTube suck ass. They shriek in exaggerated terror when playing horror games, narrate videos like amphetamine-IV’ed game show hosts, and yell racial slurs when not foisting far-right ideology on their viewers.
One of the few bastions in this hellscape, though, is Shirley Curry, the octogenarian YouTuber who’s out here making videos of herself softly reading in-game books from 2011's The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Curry, 82, was highlighted by Kotaku back in 2016 when she uploaded her 300th video. In the years since, she’s continued to focus on Skyrim, both playing through its remastered “special edition” in a series called “SkyrimSE The Deadeye Gang” and narrating books found in the game through her “Grandma Shirl’s Bookshelf” videos.
The latter of these, as the latest edition shows, are an oasis of calm in an internet full of screaming hype-people. Curry wishes good morning to her viewers (creepy or not, we are all “grandkids” to Shirl), then heads to a dock for a bit of lakeside reading. Everything set, she begins storytime with “Yngol And The Sea-Ghosts,” lulling the world’s children into a state of calm with her pitch-perfect pronunciations of ridiculous, invented fantasy nouns and pleasant asides (“Oh, I’d liked to have seen that,” she says after a description of a man wrestling “sea-ghosts”). The story finished, she heads into a nearby house in-game, examines some food on the shelves, and chats with a cat-person about fixing everyone “something good to eat.”
Curry’s regular Skyrim series is pretty good, too. There are episode titles like “You Subs Rock!! Puzzle Solved!!” and “Looking For Jobs...And Pretty Ladies!!,” which starts with grandma in a fancy headset and gamer chair advertising her channel partners. If anyone else did the same thing, it would be unbearable, but Grandma Shirl makes the usual YouTube stuff so much less nefarious.
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