5 Self Care Tips From Gaming

You may not think mental health often when you think of video games. How can something that is just a hobby to so many people end up being helpful to your everyday life? Well after years of gaming I have picked up five simple traits that have helped me that I try to apply every day. Some may come as second nature, others a large change to your day to day life, regardless, the goal here is to maybe impart one thing that will help you with your very own self-care.

Number One – Save Your Progress

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Journaling at the end of the day is something that you can do to really help your mind shake off all the dirt and grime. A lot of mornings I wake up roll over and journal a little bit to whatever was on my mind over the night. Things that you normally wouldn’t think of in the day sometimes pop in that head over the night in your dreams. Then when you get through all the long slog of the day you write everything out and it helps to give you a good perspective on what you have done and what you need to still do. Little things tend to add up from this, such as I wrote down what I was eating for a solid week and suddenly I was dropping pounds before I knew it. All that from just getting pen to paper.

Number Two – Grind

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When you focus on a task and repeat it until you master it you will get ahead. Other people will see those wins as luck or happenstance, but it is directly related to the time you put into it that you get back in success. When a large boss stands ahead of you in a video game you grind out what you need if you can’t beat it. A game that comes to mind for me was Bloodborne. When I was trying to finish the chalice dungeons up I just couldn’t get a few of the bosses to drop down. I would come close, a hit away, damage short, or my health just wasn’t there. I spent a solid five hours justing grinding through some of the other dungeons, listening to metal music as I went, determined to finish those bosses. When I returned they fell easy! Sure I overleveled more than I needed to but I wanted them done, and in life, if you want to make the hard things easy you have to grind.

Number Three – Equip The Best Gear

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Many times I have heard that the two things you invest in are a good pair of shoes and a good bed. If you aren’t in one then you are in the other so invest wisely in both. In a video game sometimes you go for what looks cool on the character instead of what hits the hardest of is actually effective. I see people do this in real life with getting things that are bad quality and in the end spending more on the same item over and over. Take the time and save up for what you really want or you will always spend more on the worse version. Vehicles, clothing, healthy food versus ramen for days, buy the best gear and use it. The extra money put in will normally repay itself tenfold.

Number Four – Heal The Party

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You never know when the next battle is in life. When you ignore the small things that add up on you suddenly they become not so small. I have too many times in games not used a potion because I think it isn’t enough damage or not a big deal and then suddenly I am loading up an old save hours behind. You have to go around and do the small things, you have to brush your teeth, shower, get to the gym and see the damn doctor if you are hurting. When you don’t heal the party suddenly things just start snowballing down and you will be regretting that you didn’t “use your potion” sooner.

Number Five – Hard Mode

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Yes I know I wrote Are You On Hard Mode? not too long ago, but it is slowly becoming my mantra. Take the hard road in life and everything will start to be more to you. When you fight all the way to the top of the hill the view is better than the flat road. You get better loot when you fight harder enemies and you are the only person who can set your difficulty at the beginning of your adult life. Tutorial mode finishes and you get to see the world how you want it too.

All of these Self Care ideas are things that I have mentioned or talked about before, but I want to always try to help you push forward. I like to surround myself with people who like to go the extra step, people who want to fight and do the hard things. If you are ever struggling and wanting to get further ahead just send me a message and I will always try to help if I can. I know things look grim at times but follow these five and aim ahead and things will get better.

– SCH

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Life Is A Platformer

Don’t miss that call it could be important! Did you make it to your work on time? Did you remember to eat so you had enough energy to make it to the meeting with the boss? No matter how you look at it everything in life can be translated into a video game. In this case, it is all 2D.

That call could have been making it over the jump in a level that led to failure if missed.

If you didn’t complete the level in time you fail, same goes for missing work or an important family event.

Don’t get that mega mushroom and I’m sure you won’t have an easy time with the endgame boss.

I know that a lot of people see every day as a challenge and an uphill struggle that makes you stretch and get there. Taking a moment each day to see things in a different light, or a more lighthearted one even can change how everything goes.

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I mentioned in Starting The Day With A Win that I have a routine I try to do in the morning to get the ball rolling and really get pumped for what lays ahead. I tell myself that mission one is making that bed. Mission two is power up with food so you can take on the day. The biggest tasks that I look at remind me so much of how life is like a platform game than possibly any other.

Things in these games, like Mario, Sonic, Braid or even Never Alone are simple to start and they progress harder through the respective levels. So many people have stormed passed level 1 -1 of the original Mario Bros. How far have you gotten without the continues? Have you actually gotten to the right castle before and saved the princess?

I like to think of all the different stages you have in life as different levels you can have. Each year is marked down as a long level, each month, day, or even sometimes minutes if its a really hard moment. I set my goals up based on these different timepieces and in my journal write down all the big obstacles I have coming ahead of me. In my year goals, I have twelve months I have to get through so my level time is defined, what bosses sit at the end and how much of the special item do I have to collect?

In an example, this year I know I am getting debt free. I am getting a newer vehicle, jumpstarting my online presence in writing, and completing all my backlogged video games. There are so many other things on the list as well, but let’s save you some time here loyal reader.

Many of those things listed can be completed with one thing. Money. So my coins from Mario or golden rings from Sonic are defined as dollar bills in this case. I then add up my total cost for everything I want to accomplish and get that down too. Then I divide it all out and see where I sit as I break it down into tinier levels. After all, a day level isn’t going to be as hard as the whole year, and as long as I hit the daily goals it builds into completing that larger goal.

So I know what I have to collect in the level, then I start out with my fear setting. The large obstacles that I can run into. Tim Ferris has a lot to say about this topic through TED talks and his books. I advise both if this is something that interests you. With the fear setting, I am able to understand the obstacles and adequately prepare for them before hand. I know that after two weeks of dieting or three weeks of working two jobs I will hit a wall. I have been there, I have failed, and I learned more about the level. Writing down and mapping the level out helps me know when I have to jump before I even get there. Now I am finding my hand reaches for the water before even thinking about the Pepsi because I can’t complete the level otherwise.

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Complete the obstacles, collected the items and already you are almost done with the level, you just have the boss at the end. This is where you put your largest most blatantly hard task you have. In day levels for me, it’s usually getting to bed on time. Something that I lose a lot, but it teaches me the next day when I wake up how important that is to do. My devious weekly boss is staying in budget. Something I struggle with daily, but I know I have to do to get by. That yearly boss that I hate looking at is my physical fitness. Sure I can save money and pay things off, but it is easy to ignore what is in front of you.

Make the boss yourself and have your own Dark Link battle. It isn’t pleasant, but it needs to be done.

Life is simply a platformer that you make and build. Construct your level, find and prepare for the obstacles, and take down that boss. Only you can do it. There is no Obi-Wan coming, you are your only hope, but you also know the only path there is to take. After all, you are the one crafting your game.

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Tabletop Lifestyle

We were knee deep into a game of Betrayal at House on the Hill when someone walking by asked, “What are you guys doing?” A normal question, but a surprise since we had fully immersed ourselves and forgotten we were at a pizza place. A quick answer told them about the game and they were excited to know that they could bring the game in there as well.

Sometimes with things like that, I smile because people forget that they are allowed to go places and nerd out and be happy. I know that when my group of friends travels out of town and we sit down before a large magic tournament our talk may sound like gibberish to many. One of us at a large table usually is re-sleeving his deck up in between bites of a burger and trying to figure out the exact fifteen cards they need to use for their sideboard.

 I’m describing taking what you love in tabletop games and embracing it.

Many times growing up my friends would play card games or Game Boys we snuck in during recess. If someone caught us that wasn’t a teacher we had to hear over and over how we were nerds. It was an interesting experience getting made fun of for something you love. Something that I thought for most people would go away as they got older, but for many, it hasn’t.

A large part of it is different generations not understanding how much the gaming medium has changed over the years. I have had times playing a Star Wars game and my Dad asks what movie I am watching, mesmerized by the action taking place and not believing that I am controlling it. Things have grown and advanced and a lot of this article has been sparked by the popularity of things like Game of Thrones and Endgame this week. A sort of pride of being a gamer and nerd and seeing these things hit strides so large that everyone is talking about them. Except for those few people who some reason seem proud they haven’t watched either. I guess they don’t like badass things so the joke is really on them.

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People have started to bridge the gap between all of these different specializations in gaming and nerd culture. I have now convinced people who in their words, “Hate all board games from too many years of Monopoly.” To play the Game of Thrones boardgame with me and then eagerly ask how they can get one or when we can play next. I’ve seen people get into DC deck builder and Marvel Legendary just because their favorite hero is on the box. Things that in the nineties and early 2000’s you just didn’t notice. Well, other than Pogs I suppose.

So  I wanted to bring this to the forefront of peoples minds and propose a challenge in this little blog of mine. In the spirit of For The Sake Of Gaming, I want all of you guys and girls, my loyal readers, to go out and play some games in the public. The largest renaissance I saw of this was during the first few weeks of Poke’mon Go and why did we stop? This weekend when you are out watching Endgame or grabbing a bite to eat, indulge in it. Take your favorite board game with you and a friend and play it around someone in the coffee shop. Be like that old geezer in the beginning of Bug’s Life and play some intense Chess.

Nothing is stopping you from going out each and every day and enjoying yourself. Some of the most painfully stricken people I’ve met are hand in hand with the happiest. They take each day as they can, enjoying the small things.

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I get that Thursday has been a tabletop review and I have next weeks on the works already. This week has been a crazy one with each and every day going late into the night and waking up early to rush into the store for work. Tomorrow night I will be working until about four am and enjoying the release of a new Magic set. This one is going to be huge and I can’t wait!

Fridays are soon going to turn into a guest author edition and if you want to be a person who gets themselves out and writes on here let me know. I want all my friends who have writing as a passion to follow through with it as well, I support you because I know how much you support me. I don’t ask much if you are interested other than the theme the blog has going for it right now. Again please message me with any questions you may have, I want to help.

Until the next time, go out, enjoy the culture, but don’t forget to Play Games and Be Happy.

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Starting The Day With A Win

During college one of the largest games to launch was Halo Reach. So many of us at the college and all over the world would log in each and every day to get our time in on a title that was unlike any of the others that came before it. The gunplay was great, the story was a beauty and the daily challenges made you want to get in there, get that exp, and get ahead. A few of us got to the point that we would wake up and the first thing that we would do in the morning is knock out those few challenges really quick, so we knew even if we didn’t get back on that day, we still got the bonuses.

It started a trend in my gaming that has helped me beat a ton of games but also advance further in my life. The idea behind it is a simple one and something that I see more and more when it comes to morning routines. For many, this task is making your bed when you first get up, but the premise is starting the day out with a win.

When you get to the point that you wake up and get a lot of small things done first you start to build up a certain momentum as you go. The larger more difficult things in your mid-day feel like less when you have already knocked out ten things on your to-do list. For me a lot of how I beat a game is before I go to bed I tell myself, “Just play until you unlock an achievement.” This type of play has kept me progressing through a ton of them and of course if I enjoy the game I just keep playing.

My mornings now when I am on my schedule consist of the little wins like making the bed, a shower, brushing the teeth and drinking lots of water. During this time I also like to load up a few different games as I move around in the morning to get a daily login in bonus of a challenge just from turning the game on. Elder Scrolls Blades gives a daily that I hit quickly every morning, Fortnite is much the same. I also like to turn on Arena, League of Legends and Gears of War 4, just to get the bonuses. Many times I don’t really play through the game during this time, instead reading a book as it loads or listening to a podcast as I grind out a quick match victory.

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It may sound silly to some to make games have these “chores” of a sort, but then when I do want to hop on and really play I have maintained being ahead.

A good friend when I told him of these routines said it made it sound like games are a task now and they are just money grabbing for your attention. All of the things I do for these dailies are again free. So it then goes back to what I mentioned earlier, starting with a win. To help explain some more, you have to understand that I am in no way at all a morning person. When insomnia lets up a bit and I do manage to doze off I am a pain to wake up. The alarm blares and I hit snooze and nothing ever seems to get accomplished.

However, when you hear that alarm and say, “Well let me punch in the daily really quick.” You wake the brain up for a reward, as soon as I log in on Blades and get the free item I am up and moving. Soon it is the bathroom and then back into the room to make my bed, I turn on League and finish up my emails. Quickly my morning that I don’t want to do turns into a productive few hours before I get into work and the money-making side of things.

Days that I know will be hard flash by when I know I already got to enjoy my morning. If I don’t want to exercise I like to do it in between matches of a game. I tell my self twenty push-ups or whatever it may be and then I can play again. If you lose you double it.

The point of this short sweet post is to let you know that you can easily start your day with a win too. Make that bed, read that chapter, or beat that game. Focus on dailies in a video game to implement them into your day to day life and let your hobby work for you.

Remember that winning the day is just a series of decisions you put yourself through, and you can accomplish anything.

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Are You On Hard Mode?

Sometimes all it feels like you are going through is hard mode. Things don’t go right at your job, your car breaks down, the dentist messes up, not even thinking about the money side of things. These make it more and more difficult to go back to it the next day and keep slugging through. You start not seeing the light at the end and only the never-ending grind.

Hard mode has a special place in my heart, my life and in videogames. A true love-hate relationship that leads to everything I do, including this blog I like to write.

In life, I tend to have horrible bouts of insomnia from time to time. Some weeks it hits and I don’t get any sleep at all or barely an hour or two. Not that I am complaining about this necessarily, just a fact of life. These fits of insomnia always come to me when I start to feel like I am not getting enough done. When I start saying to myself, “Why didn’t you finish that book, beat that game, sell more product, or get that business proposal to your friend.” Things add up, that is life and I think when you cruise through on easy mode these things will weigh onto you.

My easy mode is a day where I don’t have to work, get to eat out the whole day and drink a monster or two.  Realistically I prefer days like today where I did work, got all my tasks done, drank only water and am settling down feeling like I accomplished what I wanted to. Each day is a reset of the previous and you chose the New Game startup each time. When you feel sick and can barely lift your head it makes sense when you want to hit that Easy mode button and cash in on a simple day. It is something we all feel and I think that as I get older I contest with it a bit more, tasking myself to strive more to be happy and not just content.

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In gaming, I think I bore through games way to fast when they are easy and a cakewalk. I’ve seen gorgeous games fall flat because they have no challenge and games that aesthetically make your characters face look like a potato be titles that I love. The feeling like you actually went through a challenge goes a long way.

A lot of times when I am bringing up my top ten games of all time I talk about Dead Space 2. A title that I am sure many have played through, but also one that holds a dear part in my heart. The game has a difficulty mode called Zealot that truly was brutal and only allowed three saves for the whole game. The reward if you managed to finish this was an achievement worth I believe fifty points and a special item for future playthroughs that killed everything in one hit. The real reward was the satisfaction of beating something that was truly a challenge and the moments when every bullet mattered. One part you slammed through space at high speed and any collision was instant death. When you managed to do this perfect and you landed at the next spot, it was like nothing else.

Even quick little tasks like the Mile High Club achievement in modern warfare was extremely satisfying. Something you managed to beat in less than a minute, but took a ton of tries to actually accomplish. These are things that you remember as you go because they were not accomplished immediately. Again, talk to anyone that beat Through the Fire and the Flames on Guitar Hero 3 and ask them if they did it their first try.

The goal of this blog post is not to get too philosophical on you, but to try to bring to attention your personal life level. Take a second when you can and truly assess yourself and ask, “What mode am I on.” What more can you be doing to actually level yourself up and get ahead?

If you are a character in your own personal game what level are you really? What do you think your max level can be? Why aren’t you there yet? Have you not ground out enough side quests or defeated enough enemies that lay in your way? Side quests could be things like going to the gym, eating healthy, or finally scheduling a damn dr. appointment. Enemies can be any challenge in your life that you don’t want to face, but need to. We all have them, so find those struggles.

After all, life can be as easy as you make it, but the harder the mode, the better the loot.

 

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I Don’t Have Time

Out of all the excuses I hear from people why they don’t play games and read books the forever common, “I don’t have time” is the worst.  A common reason people spout out because they think it makes them sound important. After all, if you are busy you must be successful right? If I chose to tell people I don’t have the time to do the things I love and enjoy I’m finally being an adult right?

Sadly the truth is far from what people tend to believe. Things like reading and playing games are the reason you work not the other way around. Before all these, I like to think you put your personal health and family, but that is because you prioritize. Prioritizing will give you the time you need to get everything you want to be done. Taking the time to tell yourself early in the week what you need to prioritize now so you can do what you want to do later.

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I read a few years back in a book that by changing your internal vocabulary from, I’m too busy, into, that isn’t my priority you shift your mind. You then stop to think, why isn’t finishing the game I’ve been wanting to play for days or getting through that book on my bedside, not my priority? You will find yourself asking questions like this at times when you are sitting there doing nothing. Laying in bed when you shouldn’t be, sitting scrolling through Netflix until you chose nothing, or going and eating more food again. By no means do I want you to think I am bashing you here, I’ve done it all too.

I have just recently been getting people asking me things like, when do I manage time to play these games? Same time I always have really, when I can. I work a job that usually nets me a minimum of sixty hours of work a week. I like to go out to eat with friends and socialize and If I can I like hitting up Friday Night Magic then I push myself to finish two books a week. So I game the other time I have in the 86,400 seconds we get to a day. Sometimes I stay up late sure, other times I wake up nice and early and knock out the last level or two of a game as a good way to start the day. Starting off the morning with a win can go a long way for you in your real-world experience as well. Sitting at work knowing you just saved Tamriel or maybe even the whole universe is a bit of a confidence boost.

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Let’s say you wake up, you make your bed and shower and hop on to finish one of the games on your backlog before anyone else is awake. The world is nice and quiet and you get to charge down the path of a game to find out why Master Chief is doing what he is or when Tom Nook will give you a sweet new item. Games have progression in them, you are meant to progress through them and play them! When you don’t they build up gamer remorse just like anything else will in life. I should have played this, I should have read that, why didn’t I watch that movie before I saw the spoilers.

In fact the other day I was talking openly about Bioshock Infinite to a friend, a game that came out over six years ago. From the sidelines, a person in the game room shouts how we shouldn’t spoils games out loud for others. I asked if they owned it? Of course, they did, but they had to let me know that they just don’t have time to play it, as they continued sorting their magic singles. Six years is just under 2,200 days. Some 52,800 hours worth of time and if you didn’t want a spoiler I’m going to say you could have spared six of them to play through the main quest quickly.

It is okay if gaming isn’t your priority, in fact, you can be a person who plays once a year. You break out the old N64 every Christmas and run a few laps with the friends or family on Mario Kart and then laugh at the graphics on the original Smash. The goal of this is, if you enjoy the games and miss them then make the time to play them. You can buy every game that goes on sale and try to build a larger and larger collection, but to what end? Collecting for collecting sake is cool and I admit I’m envious of many man caves that have the full library of some of the older Nintendo titles, but what have you played?

I really don’t mean for this to sound pushy. I simply love the vibe you get when everyone is playing a new game at the same time. It can be all the same one when a new big AAA title drops, but a lot of the times I just like hearing about the little ones. I want to know why you like Aviary Attorney or why the newest updates to a game in early access have really made a difference. I want you to get me excited for a game so we can experience it together.

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The reason for all of this? My priority is to be happy while I’m here and to have a good time. To make the people I meet and talk to smile and laugh and to do as many things as I possibly can. Sure you may see me awake at three A.M. playing a game from time to time, but don’t worry, if you send a message to chat I’m sure I’ll give a quick reply.

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Dusty Nostalgia

As I’ve begun to flesh out what I want this site to really be to me I ‘ve begun writing down all the ideas I want to cover. Talking about games spanning back to the Atari to the ones that came out this very week. In conversation, I bring up titles with friends and we may react back on how much fun we had on Time Splitters or how apparently no one else has ever played through Darkwatch.

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Each time the talk gets to the point that I know I have to boot a game up nostalgia loses some of its veils and I start to notice things I didn’t like about the games. What is going on there? Didn’t I just an hour before rant about how much I loved that game?

Now nostalgia is a hell of a drug to the brain, constantly tempting you to want to rewatch a series or pop a game back in. Some of those actually holding up to what you remember. I’ve watched Nightmare Before Christmas countless times at this point, and The Last of Us is good to me every single playthrough. Others have strong graphical handicaps or were once good, but just not the same now.

It gets so frustrating when you do show someone and they have become accustomed to what we have now that they don’t understand that a game you love was outstanding at the time of release. That Final Fantasy 7 wasn’t just a game then, it was an experience. That Mega Man was one of the first games to really let you chose a path to go and that was cool because at the time that was new.

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My favorite hack and slash game didn’t hold up well but still kills an afternoon if I have one free. Maybe it is the constant array of games dropping now that make us ignore some of these older titles, or is it just the allure of the newest and shiniest thing. A type of play that makes us miss out on so many good little pieces of art that fall on the wayside. A title like Bastion that sits in my top ten of all time, that only a handful of people I know have played.

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Even still, some titles held up so well that people have gathered a cult following of them. I find it rare when someone bashes an old Zelda title or an RPG like Knights of the Old Republic. Still, I see copies sell all the time and people doing playthroughs of them over twitch. For myself, it is the old Fire Emblem games that bring me back time after time with their permadeath gameplay.

I like spending time dusting off the Gamecube and playing through Tales of Symphonia even if I can play the updated version on my PS3. I like check-marking the Ocarina of Time off my list as a game that now has one hundred percent completion. I like being able to make sure my TV can still use AV cables, or that my Donkey Kongo drums aren’t quite tapped out yet.

Nostalgia also can cause a lot of frustration in these ways. I have a tendency to not feel like I completed a game all the way unless I have all the achievements on it. Sure I have ‘beaten” the game before then, but a true completion is different. A topic I want to touch on at a later date. The point being some games you can’t complete at this point with server shutdowns or full games being cut in half. The Guitar Hero Live title is a great example with the Guitar Hero TV option being shut down last year losing you over eight hundred songs to play through. I believe you have about forty left at this point, a sad difference from a once huge playlist.

With all the pros and cons I think if you are playing games you are still having a good time. So this Sunday coming up make it a Sit Down Sunday. A time when you break out a game with real couch co-op and play it. Don’t care if you aren’t progressing through that giant backlog, or better yet,  knock it out with someone.

Otherwise, I’ll see you then when I talk about what I played for Sit Down Sunday tomorrow.

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