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.

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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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Do You Finish What You Don’t Like?

Recently I played all the way through a game that lost my interest after about the first three hours. Nothing was inherently wrong with the game, it just wasn’t fun anymore to me. I’ll talk about that title here, but in the end, I did enjoy the final levels of the game. Something I wouldn’t have gotten if I didn’t push through the middle of the game. So today we are going to look at life and gaming under the microscope of finishing what you started. Even when you don’t like it.

This is a concept that everyone experiences at some point in their lives. It could have been that your parents had you do sports or learn an instrument growing up and you hated it. Perhaps it is that you did the laundry, but you still need to fold it and put it away, or that you signed up for an eight-week exercise class and want to quit after two sessions. I get it, things are hard.

Jumping back and forth here, but when you slow down in gaming there are basically two reasons. The first is a spike in difficulty that throws you off from the normal and halts your progress. The second is the progress just isn’t rewarding or fun to you, through loot or a narrative it can simply die. A game, movie or book all need to keep you going and feel that you are making progress in something. Video games hit a special place for people when we feel rewarded for beating a level, boss or finishing a quest. That special place is good old dopamine. So again when progress slows you miss out on that and your body and mind just wants you to move along.

Already some of you are saying, “I play games for fun, why do it if I’m not having fun?”

Just give me some time to hear me out.

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Some games put this paradigm to the test and make them far more difficult than average. This allows you to feel even more rewarded when you do get past to the next point. Again any souls game or even Cuphead can fit into this category. It openly tells you that there is an option to beat it however, in a sense dangling a carrot in front of you to strive onwards. Games that just suddenly require you to be twenty levels higher and the reward stays the same fail at this and lose people fast.

Which brings us to the second problem, when progress is just too slow and unrewarding. The game I finished over the last week was Borderlands The Pre-Sequel. A shock to my system since I had loved every other Borderlands game to date and had only missed this installment from bad timing and not sitting down to go through it. Seeing the trailer for the third game pushed me to knock this game out so I didn’t miss any of the lore that may be needed for that title.

The game had so much good going for it and yet fell flat. Maybe it was from a different studio working on the title, or that the characters didn’t grab you as much as the other games did, sure you have Jack and Athena to really drive it home, the others were just kind of there. Moxxi for instance just happened to have a moon bar, and Lilith and Roland were there on a date? I don’t know, something just felt odd. With this the guns progressed for damage a lot slower, meaning that mundane fights with bandits or “Scavs” in this title took far longer. Also if you wanted to explore the moon, you moved so much slower in the low gravity than you did in other titles normal speed. You would find yourself boosting with your oxygen reserves just so you didn’t move at a snail’s pace.

The first twenty levels of your character dragged hard. I can say that the ending was sweet and as you found out the big secrets in the title it was rewarding to see why things were happening. Even if the Raid boss is just the final boss over again, with more health. Bright side, Tiny Tina narrates the battle and the quest to it.

So why did I even play the game if I didn’t like it?

I learned a lesson in life that I have to finish what I start. I still am glad that I beat the game to check it off my list and to know how it all ended, actually enhancing my Borderlands 2 experience with new lore and insight into the characters. It comes down to something simple than that. In conversation time and time again I mention a title and I get the response, “I didn’t finish that.” It shakes me every time at how many unfinished things people leave going in their day today. I suppose I am weird that if I have something I need to finish it stays on my to-do list until it is done.

Now the goal of this blog is to promote playing games and having fun doing it. So if you don’t want to finish a game, don’t. There is a small chance if you take the time to go finish what you started, you will be that much happier with yourself. Take that into your life and follow it too. Don’t let an opportunity you started pass by you and just complete what you say you will. Find someone to hold you accountable, and put a little time in each day if you can.

In the end, you live life however it makes you happy but damn to I love filling in checklists as complete.

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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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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

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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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Weekend Blur

Sometimes everything passes by you in the blink of an eye. You get to work at ten in the morning and suddenly you are leaving at four AM. Normally this is a schedule you wouldn’t want to have, but every once in a while for a special event, it is totally worth it. So for today’s quick little article, I am going to tell you about all the gaming that was had at work that kept me away.

To give you a quick preface, my full-time job is at a game store. Been there for years and love it, but decided to also do this blog on the side for my own enjoyment and to branch out a bit. It helps scratch that itch I get at times to go out and write. The game store hosts all kinds of events throughout the year and this last weekend was the release of a large magic set. I talked about it a bit in The Culture, but this was a big one for a lot of reasons.

War of the Spark in Magic the Gathering brought a lot of high powered cards to the table and advanced the plot of the in-game lore significantly. Much in the same fashion of Game of Thrones and Endgame this last weekend, Magic also wrapped up years of work and the big bad guy battle.

With this culmination of work getting put together, people showed up from all over to play in the prerelease. A chance to get to play with the cards a week before the set even officially comes out and to get together with other fans of the game to talk and trade. Every person has their own goals when coming to one of these events. For some it is fun, others it is the competition and trying to get first for more packs, myself I like to trade during the weekend. My first goal when a set comes out always is trading as fast as I can for a playset of each card. A playset is four in this game, with that being the max amount allowed in a constructed deck.

Friends and I joked about where we would be going next in the story as I read the Novel that was released for the set when I did finally get home. Part of the beauty of Magic is that the set pieces can change radically from location to location. An eldritch horror set can be followed by a steampunk one, all from the way the story advances between planes, something I will love touching upon soon. All the guesses aside I do want to thank everyone who did trade with me and helped me get closer to getting a set of the cards I need.

Now with me working the events I got out the shop around five am for the midnight release, midnight the next day and a little later the last. Many of these hours going into trying to get ahead on things with this upcoming weekend being big too. I always have loved the fact that at my job there is something new on the horizon every time you look.

To mitigate the busy weekend I have ahead I am going to pump out the articles and schedule them to post in advance this week. This blog has a lot of relearning attached to it on how to maintain a site. I love to think I will get back and still write something out, but priorities tend to shift and sometimes the minutes slip through your fingers like sand. To be fair when I was home I didn’t want to tear myself away from the book I’m enjoying either and that was a large part of it.

The largest thing about this blog is I don’t want to become known for “calling in sick” and you great readers missing out. I was given a few messages asking if I was doing okay since I missed two and it made me smile even though I had to admit I was just not getting to them. It did push me harder today as work finished and I got my chores out of the way. Doesn’t matter how old you get you still have to clean your laundry and do your dishes. With everything settling and my eyelids already getting heavy I just wanted to get this out there and thank everyone once again.

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The schedule for the rest of this week is as follows.

Tuesday we will be firing up a new motivational post to really get you guys excited for the summer and the week in general.

Wednesday we have a brand new top five that I am excited to talk about. One that many people will chime in on I am sure, but I look forward to hearing opinions.

Thursday we have a tabletop game that I have enjoyed for years and wanted to bring to the table and show all of you. It is colorful, quick, and has an amazing drafting mechanic.

Friday I am popping out a game review even though I usually take this day off to get you guys some extra content for the missed days this last weekend. I wouldn’t be at this point without you guys and I plan to stand and deliver.

Saturday is talking about a few separate things involving comics and books that I’ve wanted to touch on for a few weeks.

Then we will finish strong on Sit Down Sunday with a co-op game you and a loved one have to try out.

I know this page isn’t much yet, but it is growing every single day with all of your help and that is awesome. So Listen up for that Facebook notification when a new post pops and I will excitedly see you all this week.

-Shane

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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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