Movement

I can’t lie I haven’t been myself the past week. Personal things have gotten me down and it was an uphill battle even yesterday to get some words written down. All I could bring myself to do over the past few days was work, eat, and attempt to get some sleep. This happens, all of us go through depression or changes and have to give ourselves some extra time to get our momentum going. This article is about the one factor that can get you out of your dark depressive state and really attack life again.

This is about movement.

As in all things I am a gamer and I would like to throw out a simple example to illustrate the importance of getting yourself running and moving.

Level 1-1 of good classic Mario Bros on the NES is something that millions of people have played. Some memorizing the level to the point they know where to hit every jump and how to always get that flag pole to register from the very top. I have also seen people miss the very first jump in that game and say out loud, “I can’t do this I am bad at video games.” Well, Confucius was right when he said, “The man who says he can, and the man that says he can not, are both correct.”

I thrive off of the simple moment of showing someone that in that level all you need is to give the little plumber some movement and momentum and you can more than clear a jump! It is when the new player stops and looks at the hole and then jumps with no movement that they fall down and lose their life.

Now we all stop, things hit us, we trip and fall on hard times. Sometimes you miss someone so much it feels like your heart is ripped from your chest and you find you are at a standstill on the things you normally enjoy doing. None of that will get better until you make a move.

james-pond-191266-unsplash.jpgPhoto by James Pond on Unsplash

When I am helping a good friend out of a depressive state I start with the smallest step possible. Something small that they know they need to do and get them rolling. I ask, “Hey did you drink some water today or get a shower in?” Sometimes the answer is no, that is okay, sometimes we just need a little help. I’ll bring their dehydrated ass a bottle of water and get them moving. Suddenly the next day they text me and say, “Hey I showered and already drank two glasses of water, just letting you know so you don’t bother me.” At that point, I’m just happy they started moving since that was half the battle.

It is important since unlike that little Italian plumber we don’t have multiple lives. I like to think we do have a reset button to get the level rolling again at times, but really it is that we can climb out of the hole. Our Platformer known as life is a level that we don’t know how it ends. We may run up against a mean boss that we don’t think we can take, or a jump that is in our minds impassable.

Just take a step back and look at all the power-ups you have gained up to this point. Call a friend, grind, exercise and get what you need. Think of it like picking up your speed, each thing giving you a boost until you soar past that obstacle like it was a breeze.

The importance of movement is hard to describe in a small blog. It is something that I need to and will elaborate on further as I go. It is something that if you struggle with I am always only an email away. Start small friends, brush your teeth, make your bed, then get out and hit the big things hard.

Again, we all get hit with depression. You can let it win, and it will win undeniably. However, you can also fight, and when you fight then the victor is something you can help determine.

Just remember until the next one, play games and be happy.

-Shane

 

Feature Photo by Miguel Salgado on Unsplash

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Brick Wall Board Games

On my list of things to do today, I have, write a blog post about a board game called Seasons. Overall the things I have pumped out and written since I started this blog up, none of them have made me hit a brick wall when it comes to getting the words out. So I will be talking about that problem, but I do want to discuss the future of a board game day in general with all of you amazing readers.

Here is the problem.

Tabletop games are a large part of my life and I am around them often. I work with them and they are always there, yet somehow I draw a blank talking about them sometimes unless it is the week or months current demo. I get into my salesman mode over a game when writing when really I just want to talk about why I like it and how it is fun to me.

I noticed this in two places. One was that they are the least read topics out of anything I do. That is fine and somethings will be noticed and others will not. The interest of the readers and having conversations with you is the most important part of all this to me. I think I could easier talk about why Bastion is probably my favorite or second favorite game soundtrack over why Seasons is one of my favorite drafting games.

The reason why I can is that one is a passion. Something that I enjoy talking about and getting reactions from and seeing how you all react to them too. Having someone message me in an email and having it say they picked up a game after I talked about it made my whole day awesome. The other just still makes me feel like I am trying to sell something to you. Which if you saw me during the day at work, that is exactly what my goal would be. I want this blog to be a passion and not just more work.

That leads to the second places that I noticed this problem and that was my blog about Star Realms. I adore that game! It is something that I would gladly play if someone asks me too and enjoy it the whole time through, and yet still I made the thing sound like a sales pitch to my dismay. I felt that I was drifting from what I want this site to be and to grow into and that is a place to talk about games for fun and why we all enjoy them.

I don’t care if you play Minecraft to level out a mountain, beat the Ender Dragon, or to dig a hole. I care that you are happy and having a damn good time during it.

I don’t care if you go out to the movie for the plot, the date night, or the popcorn. I care that you enjoyed yourself and it gave you something to leave with. That you left with more than you brought.

Each time I post I worry that I will waste your time and that is the worst thing that I could possibly do with this site. So I need to really get down to my brass tacks and figure out what I like talking about so you get the best I can provide.

As the site expands and now has twitter and twitch is about setting up and ready to go I think making the time I do post matter more is the most important part. This summer along with my 40-50 hours at my game store job I plan to work another job as well to get a vehicle paid off and to upgrade my car to a newer one. I miss road trips and getting out to see everything, so I want to return to doing that as well. Turns out that is a lot simpler if you have a safe vehicle to rely on.

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Does this mean the end of board game posts?

I don’t think it does really. I like talking about things and at times boardgames will pop up and I will show why I love them, to try to share some of the joy with you. I know there will still be a post about the Game of Thrones boardgame, one that I have dumped hours and hours into. Really what I think the board game side of things will come down to is I will reach out to my network of friends and have someone who writes about them with a passion about boardgames instead. A few people already come to mind and they can hit the topic harder than I can anyways.

With this, I hope today wasn’t a waste for you. Sometimes all this website may turn out to be is a journal of sorts, but I will always be transparent with you guys and let you know what is going on. The other good news is I don’t think I will have any gaps in posting this week as a motivation based one for Friday crept into my mind, and I want to talk about it.

No matter what, go out and enjoy what is there. Play some games and be happy!

-SCH

Feature Photo by Susan Yin on Unsplash

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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Dark & Stormy Night

From the start, I knew who the enemy had to be. That man Dash had been running around the mansion as fast as he possibly could, collecting every trinket he could find. I heard him constantly opening and slamming doors, not stopping for a minute between, even when he plummeted three floors down to the basement I just heard him continue his exploration. When the door slamming ceased and we all heard the werewolf howl, we knew what had to be done.

Betrayal at House on the Hill is a game that has so many different outcomes each time you sit down to play. No two experiences will end up the same as the layout of the mansion changes each and every time. This constant replayability has allowed me to enjoy the game for years and killed over a hundred hours with others as I’ve grown and shared the title. So for this Table Top Thursday, let me share a little bit about what happens when you are at the house on the hill.

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Betrayal puts you in the shoes of up to six unlucky explorers. They are all lead to the house for different reasons and with that, each has a slight difference in stats. The stats in the game don’t matter a whole lot before the haunt begins, due to you being unable to die before then. They have things that affect how many rooms you can move through, how strong you are or even your characters mental sanity. Regardless of what happens to them when they first enter the house things change quickly.

The game lets you spend the first few turns exploring around on the three different levels in the house. Fall into the basement, begin your trek on the ground floor, and lastly find the tower and master bedroom in the upper floor. When you move a character in the game you go until you open a new door, which leads you to flip over tiles until a new piece is put onto that level. When you enter a room little things called events to happen, that describe a spooky scenario you go through and usually result in you having to roll to prevent something bad from happening.

The other thing you can find while exploring is omens. As these build up and the roll to prevent them from happening builds you will soon find yourself in the middle of a haunt. When you start this the game has a built-in fifty scenarios that determine which player is now the villain or betrayer and they get their own book that tells them how to now win the game. The survivors are who are left and they then get a book telling them how to win.

I always love this part of the game, you get a real sense of camaraderie if you are on the survivor’s side. Whereas if you are the villain you learn about your new added buffs and how to mess up their day. It’s always great having the villain leave the room and read his part, laughing when they try to return in too soon and a survivor yells, “Not yet we are still planning!”

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When everyone returns to play different scenarios will have different conditions on how to win. I can honestly say that I’ve lost and won this game about 50/50. Sure sometimes things just go your way as the villain and the survivors can’t find what they need to defeat you. Other times they have what they need already, it is a sweet mash-up of surprises every time. With all the mix up again leaving me ways to replay it again and again.

The expansion adds even more to this title or you can take a trip over to the DND side of things and try Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate. A sister title that makes you feel like you are playing through a DND session instead of just classic horror tropes. No matter what for the price you pay this will be a staple on your board game shelf for years and a title that sits close to my all time favorite.

Short and sweet this Thursday, but if you haven’t given this game a play with friends or family I strongly urge you to go give it a shot. Or if you see me in person I would love to get a game in some time. Either way, that is all for tonight and I will see you all tomorrow.

 

Five Trailers That Sold The Game

Sometimes all it takes is a good video to hype you up. The music fits perfectly and the action scenes mesh to crescendo at the right moment. You finish the short two or three-minute trailer and you say to yourself, “I need this game.” The very day you pre-order that title or rush out to pick it up, the trailer selling you on the whole thing.

Now not every trailer does this, many falling short or selling you a game that really isn’t what the gameplay is. The last reason is the only reason why you won’t see the Dead Island trailer on this list, although great it just didn’t put up for what the game actually was. Cinematically it was brilliant and sad, but the game was more of a zombie Borderlands than an emotional rollercoaster like the family trailer led you to believe. Loved the game, but man did that trailer hurt.

These next five were titles that pumped me up and got me to put money down the same day. All have their own merits and pros and cons, but tell me what you think below.

 

Number One – Gears of War (Mad World)

The game was announced and no one really knew what to expect at the time. We were early into the 360 franchise and were nervous to see what could be made on this newer and stronger system. This game promised strong co-op and a gritty multiplayer, including guns with chainsaws. An action shooter with a slower and darker trailer leaving you without hope made me think it may be a game to check out. Thirteen thousand kills on multiplayer later and I would say I got my money’s worth.

Number Two – Cyberpunk 2077

Now, this trailer was a kick in the teeth! First time I saw this was on a screen at the game store and my jaw dropped. My opinion isn’t unbiased, Cyberpunk has always been my favorite dystopia and this had a very Ghost in the Shell feel from the trailer. When I saw who was working on the title I practically screamed with joy. CD Projekt Red is no lightweight when it comes to games and at the end of the trailer it even quotes, “Coming: When it’s ready.” The new trailers just continued the hype for this soon to be game, but my excitement grows for it each day.

Number Three – Assassin’s Creed 3

By the time you had completed the whole Ezio Trilogy and the first title with Altair, you were hoping they would be able to move the series on into a good direction. The in-game story was building up to a cataclysm and you didn’t really know where they would jump to next. Chills went down my spine when I first saw Connor walking up the field and I knew this was going to be great. With Assassin’s feeling like another Call of Duty franchise with the yearly titles we were all excited to see things shake up. A few years followed where it went down and recently with Odyssey we have seen the rise to greatness again. However, the American Revolution will always feel cooler with the idea of Connor being in it.

Number Four – Borderlands 2 (2808 trailer) 

Joy puke your face off. A line you don’t normally see and yet a line that Borderlands puts into your face with large pink letters. A game that a lot of people were nervous about and were on the fence for pre-ordering because the first title was fun but really didn’t have any story to go off of. This trailer promised everything you wanted, it was hectic, well timed and had a dubstep dancing Claptrap. When this dropped me and three others went and pre-ordered the deluxe edition the same day. Borderlands 3 has brought the hype back again, but something about the sheer surprise of how much they stepped it up from one to two excited everyone back in 2012. Also, Kreig had a pretty great trailer too, so check that out!

Number Five – The Last of Us 2 

Goosebumps. The kind that you get all across your arms and up your back. That goofy kind of feeling that you get when someone on AGT sings so well, you think, “Holy crap is that real?” The first Last of Us is my all time favorite game, that I can’t deny. A game that brought real genuine emotions from me and I was always hoping for a sequel. This trailer left me with so many questions. When is this? Being the largest one, trying to figure out what had taken place to this point? The trailer dropped back in 2017 which is almost surreal at this point, but with E3 fast approaching my one wish is we get a release date. In fact, I am not a person to do special edition systems, but if they make one for this title I’m jumping onto that immediately. No one in gaming tells a story like Naughty Dog, what Projekt Red does for in-depth gameplay, Naughty Dog does to your heartstrings.

So this Wednesday I tried this little article and if you like this top five mechanic leave me a comment and let me know. I can try this every week and really hunker down to give you all some good ones. This blogging thing is a new way for me to really get into something and learn a little bit more about myself along the way. So tell me what you think and I will see you tomorrow for a Table Top Thursday game.

Photo by Jonathan Petersson on Unsplash – Feature Photo

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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The Culture

Today has been a long one. One that quickly slipped through my fingers no matter how many loads of laundry I attempted to do. One thing led to the next and now sitting here it is nine at night, some days tend to go that way and you don’t find time for any of the hobbies you tell yourself you enjoy. The whole day one thing has kept bouncing back into my mind to write about, and instead of taking the easy, “I’ll do it tomorrow route.” I’m going to make my tired butt write.

Today the Borderlands Game of the Year Edition remaster came out on PS4 and Xbox One. Although I have not yet had a chance to sit down and play it, the conversation of doing so came up multiple times with different people this afternoon. Whoever I was talking to and I reminiscing over the first time playing the original game. Laughing at the jokes that a shooter hadn’t really done well before then and getting excited to travel back to Pandora. Along with all the hype for Borderlands 3 of course.

This instant connection with another person as you speak about a game isn’t just stuck to the Borderlands franchise. It is one of the few things that can span language barriers and distance when it comes to gaming. I have students come in from UNK that barely speak English but will talk circles around you about League of Legends, with the mention of Teemo sending them into loud moans of disgust. Then there are the friends’ states away that can jump into a firing squad on a game and the friendship is still there strong as ever. Even now I work on a story for a group getting ready to start a new DND campaign on roll 20.

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The beauty of all this is that is a language to gamers themselves. One that while I grew up and went from house to house and school to school many times over I could always use. It didn’t matter how much money my family had or if we lived in the bad part of a town in California, we talked about Poke’mon. We talked about the new Smash Brothers or how there are secrets hidden in Ocarina of Time. When I moved to Kansas my Sophmore year and left behind all my friends from the first fifteen years of my life I found new ones talking over Halo 2. Who soon found ourselves binging the entire series over again and anticipating the launch of Halo 3 for all the new times to be had.

Really it doesn’t have to be a game that is even out yet to get the “bug” going and feel that contagious spark amongst others in the community. Recently a lot of that is going around in the Magic the Gathering culture as a new set spoils a few cards each day. Friends sending me messages over deck ideas and coming in to order boxes daily. Making people feel and talk about the story with a new gorgeous cinematic trailer, and trying to guess where the story goes.

The conversation is great when you can move up and down the age spectrum too. As many times as I can relate with someone twice my age over how cool it was the first time beating Adventure on the Atari, I can flip that and talk about Season eight on Fortnite with a little dude. Usually with them resulting in dancing away in some sassy dance featured in that season.

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It is something that excites me more and more as I get older and continue seeing the taboo that games are for nerds fall away. The fact that Esports leagues are popping up in high schools is great to me, and mainstream media making movies over titles I never thought I would see. That podcasts about DND are at an all-time high and Game of Thrones, a fantasy series, is the most anticipated show this year.

So even when the day is long, and I wish I could have skipped parts of it in its entirety, I’m always happy to sit back and talk an exciting new game with a friend. After all, it’s part of the culture.