Archive for the ‘ Gaming in General ’ Category

Gaming 2013 Catch-Up: Tomb Raider

All right, I’m obviously still shaking off some of the gloom that October had me in. It’s hard, but I’m definitely feeling better now than I did at the end of September, dreading the anniversary’s arrival and at the beginning of October feeling like it had happened all over again. I went quiet for the summer, however, that was due to me working 24/7 at my usual amazing summer camp and it being the usual combination of stress and elation. I did play games, though! May was rougher than the rest because my coworkers weren’t there yet and being alone in a place that my brother had previously worked with me every summer had a lot of baggage that came with it: sometimes good, sometimes bad, and either way exhausting.

Right before I headed to camp though, I had finished up my playthrough of the new Tomb Raider which I both wanted to try because I’d heard a lot of good things (despite the controversy) and because it’s a franchise that’s near and dear to my heart even if I was always too chicken to ever really play most of Lara Croft’s games. My parents had a sort of tradition of getting Ross and I a computer game on our birthday, and then another on Christmas (but god forbid we have a gaming console oh ho ho ho) – Tomb Raider I particularly remember because it was one of my first… “darker” games, I guess you could call it? We played educational games like Treasure Mountain, and we played Star Wars games or Wing Commander or Indy racing, but when I held this weirdly shaped box in my hand it was a game that could be scary.

And it was, to me. I saw that you could run into a T-Rex on the back of the box and then proceeded to never get past the first level on my own because I was determined that I would run into that damn dinosaur and I was terrified. But I played the hell out of the training rooms, and I remember Ross and I watching each other play, and cracking up at how we could make Lara swan dive from incredible height only to make her then break her neck because we accidentally (or maybe purposely) missed the pool. And we played that first level over and over once we knew what to do because the worst there was there were wolves and bats. I could handle that. And on level two when we first swan dived off that super tall waterfall and were so close to missing the water at the bottom that Lara screamed I thought we were going to lose it we were laughing so hard. We tried to recreate that over and over for my neighbor who would come over and play but we never quite could. But we BOTH heard it so we KNEW we weren’t imagining things.

Since my birthday is in the summer and this was back when my mom was obsessed with having healthy and productive summers off, we were taking bike rides with the neighbor boys (essentially adopted brothers by then as we were to their family) every morning on the path along the golf course near our house. We’d ride to the end and back while our moms walked and talked. The best part was when we got back to the house well before our moms were done, so we had the free time to have some lemonade and then game. This became a standard. Danny who was two years younger than I was, was way braver than I, and I’m not sure Ross genuinely had the coordination yet (or maybe he was scared too and just didn’t say so), so we’d all crowd around and watch him play the levels I was too chicken to continue. He did eventually get through the whole game, and I felt like I had legitimately participated and helped, but that game was important to me for one BIG reason, and that was that by default, you were a female character. Yes she had huge boobs and was the source of boners ’round the globe for fanboys, but I didn’t care, it was the first game I think I ever played where if you were allowed to be female, you actually SAW the main character. Any others were first person space sims or extremely androgynous kids with caps on so you couldn’t see their faces. No one blatantly and visibly female. Rebel Assault let me actually choose female and then they said she sometimes instead of he, but that was as close as I’d gotten by then. I remember my parents saying that’s why they’d gotten it for me too. I was ecstatic. Not so much so that I wasted money on the rest of the games when I found out I wasn’t going to get the guts up to play beyond level one, but I have a special place in my heart for Lara anyway.

The reboot? Is fantastic. And not even too scary for me to play! (Skyrim’s dungeons give me the shivers, so this is still a valid concern.) The controls are super smooth, and I’d say the one downside is it’s a very short, very linear game to pay the initial full price for, but I loved the story, I loved that they showed how Lara became badass without… completely putting her through a bunch of tropey experiences (there’s some, but I didn’t think it detracted from her character) and I know some were worried that since it’s an “origin” story of sorts they strip her of all her awesomeness to build upon – I didn’t think so. Physically and even mentally she’s still pretty hardcore from the start. I don’t mind seeing her having to learn how to kill a guy and that not being an easy thing to do the first time.

Anyway, old news for anyone current with games, but I did really love it, and it was fun playing a game that also made remember creeping around in pixelated tombs, thinking that T-Rex would be around every corner. Even if you never encountered it until like 10 levels into the damn game. To go with my playing catch-up on my gaming exploits, I’ve updated my Gaming To-Do page. I’m currently working on my bastard playthroughs of both Dragon Age: Origins, and DAII (while forever poking around in WoW, SWTOR, and GW2). It works out nicely that playing the game like a raging psychopath is both honoring how Ross always played things first and very nicely filling out all my incomplete achievements. When growing up one reason I never bothered to force myself to be an asshole to see the other side to the stories was because Ross would do it for me, and I just saw the story vicariously through him. Sort of like how I “played” Tomb Raider through Danny. I miss that.

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Ends of March…

So today is Easter, and it’s been a long time since my last post. Things are… busy…ish? Like I’m still spending the majority of my daily hours in front of a computer screen, gaming or watching shows, but enough other stuff has been happening that the weeks seem to end much faster. It’s the last day of March, and I don’t know where the hell that month went.

Suddenly the counselors are chosen for the summer at camp, I go to Seattle to look at potential neighborhoods in about 10 days, I have an online First Responder course to get going on, and then I’m due up at my summer job on the 29th of April. Somewhere in there I’m supposed to appeal for tuition. Suddenly these things that I thought I had time for need to happen RIGHT NOW and some days that feels good, and some days it feels like I’m desperately wanting to press pause and tell the world WAIT wait wait – hold on – I’m still absorbing yesterday, I’m still absorbing this morning, I’m still dealing with 6 months ago stop stop STOP. I’m not ready! I’m okay with this having things to do every week but deadlines… christ, I was terrible with deadlines before, let alone now.

Still, it’s a bit different. The things that are happening are things I want. Things I’m motivated about: preparing for this summer’s camp season, preparing to move to Seattle, preparing for… some sort of fresh start. It’s much easier to reign in the panic when it’s things that will inevitably make me smile rather than the misery I was putting myself through with school, slogging through anxiety day after day, only to feel like a failure come finals and wanting to give everything up.

It has purpose. A degree technically would have had purpose too, but, well, I was too buried to see what it could possibly be at the time. I do better with something tangible, and while that’s near-sighted of me in the grand scheme of things, right now I need things to have direct results. I need to be able to do something, and see the difference I make – however minor – to give me more reasons to get up every morning and keep doing that thing.

You know, I thought this blog was going to have a lot more gaming nonsense on it than it has so far. I’ve got ideas for posts in my head but it’s hard to get myself to sit down and type. I used to have trouble because I always felt like as much as I wanted to journal, I wanted to talk to people or have fun or sleep (priorities, I has them) more. Now I know journaling is probably one of the more productive or healthy things I can do with my time – I mean, do I really need to watch the latest Project Runway right now? [If Michelle doesn’t win this season, I will curse Heidi Klum to break a stiletto.]

I want to talk about March, but it would be long involved so I will bullet-point the highlights: Continue reading

To trigger or not to trigger…

A warning to anyone reading: some things in this entry may be considered graphic, as I’m about to discuss things in media that have and haven’t been a trigger for me due to Ross’s death. If your sensitivity is different than mine, or you’re also personally close to the situation, it might be hard to read.

I called my dad last night because he was home alone for the weekend, and I wanted to check up on him. He admitted he was doing alright but nights are hard, like usual. We talked about lots of things, including Game of Thrones since he just finished book four, but there was a pause in conversation where I found myself blurting out a question I’d been wanting to ask since seeing last week’s Castle episode: Was it hard for you to watch? Because Castle’s daughter was abducted and while I love that show, I spent the majority of the episode sitting there and imagining my parents watching it – wondering if it it hurt to see someone act the part of the concerned parent, and knowing that the fictional child will be okay, when Ross wasn’t.

I had a lot of feelings like that immediately in the months after the fire. It was like a raw, open wound and anything having to do with anything close to it felt like someone poking at it. They didn’t cause me to suddenly break down so much as just ache or tear up until I could move on. Games were similar. So many games have to do with death, or avoiding death, it was hard to get back to it at first. In the first couple weeks I couldn’t handle touching any of it, though more because it reminded me of what Ross and I did together  than any triggery content involved, but once I started getting back into things, there would be moments that would just make feel a bit sick to my stomach.

It wasn’t long before I got over that though, and found that I was able to separate the two in my mind. I play a fire mage in WoW, always have, and I remember sitting there and staring at it for a minute when I reactivated my account. I acknowledged that it was strange. I acknowledged that I will never be able to hear “fire” the same way again…. and then I took a breath, started questing, and proceeded to shoot fireballs at my enemies. I think my brain, out of sheer survival instinct and desperation to return to normalcy, compartmentalized it for me. It wasn’t long before I didn’t think about it anymore. Then a friend asked me if I was okay playing a fire mage and I blinked and had to go… oh… yeah. Actually it’s okay. Then I wondered if I was supposed to be okay and that maybe this was insensitive, and maybe I should feel worse.

Continue reading

Why I Play Games: My Escapism

Why I Play Games: My Escapism

Article by Daniel Lipscombe

“It’s my belief that videogames have the ability to transport you away from life in a more in-depth way than other forms of entertainment. Typically, you’ll be taking on the role of characters who have their own problems, but their problems nearly always have a solution – be it by finding an exit, shooting their way out, finding the princess or winning the tournament. There’s often a resolution at the end that leaves you with the contentment of achieving something, and in a world full of so many problems this can only be a positive thing. The game pad or mouse gives you a sense of control that’s so difficult to attain in life.”

Gaming through my Grief….

My brother, Ross, died in October 2012 in a house fire at the age of 21. Since then my life has been turned on it’s head, and yet one comfort aside from loved ones has stuck with me above all others: my gaming. Ross was a big gamer, and we spent hours upon hours talking, arguing, laughing about the games we played as kids and the ones we were playing now. This shared hobby kept us connected when I went off to college, and then when he did the same. Gaming now feels a little bit like… a way to stay connected. Somehow. To play the games we loved, or ones that were his favorites and I never managed to get around to it, or ones that I look at and know I’d have recommended to him….

My mom keeps asking me if there’s a hobby or a project or something I’d like to do in life that I’ve never gotten a chance to do before. Aside from visiting Europe or something hugely expensive like that, all I can think of trying to make the dork proud by gearing up my mage in WoW, or finally sitting down and getting through more than the introduction of Fallout 3. And that doesn’t even begin to involve the way gaming has given me a way (and a great excuse) to stay connected to the friends who’ve supported me through this. We’re all across the country, and having a game to log in to, and a reason to sit on skype and ramble about whatever we want, however meaningless or important it might end up being, has saved me from sitting alone and dwelling on things more than is healthy.

Now there’s obvious downsides if I take too far, obviously, and those tend to be the ones my parents are wary about when they saw me sit on my laptop every night in the months after the fire, but I can’t help but feel like it’s helping me more than they understand. Sure, I don’t want to resort to a sedentary lifestyle, or escape completely into these fantasy worlds, but it’s always been a coping mechanism for me, and I think I need it now more than ever.

I’ve also been really wanting to journal about the sort of feelings that I find bubbling up time and time again, but it’s an overwhelming thing to try and accomplish when you sit down and feel like doing so is akin to drowning in all the emotions it brings up. I thought, you know… what if I looked at it a bit differently… what if I explain why I spend hours gaming these days, and why I’d categorize it much more as ‘coping’ rather than ‘escaping’. That seems much more tangible, and doable in a time where some things feel impossible. And I can forget that he’s gone for a little bit every once in awhile, almost 5 months after the fact, but playing games I know he’s gone but at the same time he’s not. He’s always right there with me, laughing about a stupid glitch, naming characters ridiculous things with his tried and true animal+verb formula, or geeking out over the pros and cons of the latest RPG.

And maybe, if someone else out there has felt or is feeling the same, they could find some comfort in the fact that I’m there with you. Or enjoy the stories and memories about my dorky little brother. Or just have a smile at a girl’s awkward attempts to talk about her lifelong hobby.

This blog will be part gaming hijinks, part grieving sister. Cause I feel like that’s what my life is right now, and I’m okay with it. How much of each varies with any given moment and probably will on here too, but I’ve always been a pretty open person, taking comfort in telling stories to other people. There’s parts of myself that are private and for me and my loved ones alone, but this can be for the other stuff.