Posts Tagged "video games"

Surprising ways that Pokémon GO has impacted my life

Posted by on Oct 3, 2016 in Life in Writing | 0 comments

The date is Sunday, July 17th, 2016, and the time is 4:30 PM. I’d been waiting all week to hear any news of the official Canadian release of Pokémon GO, having decided to wait for official release rather than download the APK file. I’m hanging out in the kitchen at work and I decide to take a peek in the App Store, as I hadn’t all day. I type “pokemon go” into the search bar and I’m shocked when I’m met with the legitimate game as the first result. All week, I’d had fake duplicates staring back at me. My excitement was probably a little unreasonable for a 30-year old mom. I’m not going to lie: I’ve been waiting basically my entire life for Pokémon GO. My love for Pokémon in general hasn’t wavered since I discovered it in grade 7. There was a brief period in my life in which I treated Pokémon Diamond as though it was my full-time job. In short: I love Pokémon. As a mom to a very busy toddler, I don’t really get many chances to play video games. That makes me a little sad sometimes, as I do truly love gaming and have a lot of feelings about video games in general. Pokémon GO shone in the distance like a beacon of light in my dark, stagnant gaming life. Finally: a game I could play while out with my daughter. There was nothing I couldn’t love about this. It was perfect for me. And it still is, 2 and a half months later. So, here are some ways that Pokémon GO has impacted me. I’m looking at my phone far less (and therefore using less data) This is the one that surprised me the most. I thought I would be using my phone more. Before GO, I would often open up my phone and browse through Facebook while out on walks, checking my notifications and sometimes making posts. Not only has GO forced me to be more aware of my data usage, but it’s kicked Facebook off my data usage list altogether, along with the similarly high-cost Snapchat. I’ve been more productive With my mind away from my phone, I’ve been free to think of other things, and those thoughts have wandered back into the creative realm after a bit of a pause. Walking gets my creative juices flowing, too. Because of these things, and because of PoGO’s ease of use, I’ve been thinking more about what I can write while I’m out for a walk. I am attributing my recent resurgence in posting on this blog to that. I really am! I’m exercising more Don’t get me wrong: I usually do exercise quite a bit and I feel I lead a fairly active lifestyle. Nonetheless, I have found that GO has gotten me up and motivated on several occasions–particularly if I have an egg that’s close to hatching. I’m bonding with strangers and friends in new ways Within the first few days of playing the game, I ran into a couple of teenage boys who both had their phones out. Since you can usually tell who is playing by a glance, they called out to me “Pokémon GO?”. We high-fived in passing, then I proceeded to utterly fail at taking their gym from them. My point is this: I would never have interacted with these guys on a normal day. I rarely interact with people I know if I can help it, let alone strangers. I have gone on 2 AM Poké-hunts with co-workers and ridden in a car alongside a friend in PJs, and have simultaneously done a hostile takeover of gyms in Albert County with my friend while he was on his delivery route (Team Mystic for life). PoGO has led to some amusing and often impromptu social situations. For someone who resists spontaneity, this has been a refreshing change of pace. It has diversified daily outings with my daughter, and we’ve had some unique family outings Knowing that Centennial Park was a nest for Machops was reason enough to go, but the fact that...

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When Kamelot went to Montreal, and I went to Kamelot

Posted by on Sep 16, 2013 in Life in Writing | 2 comments

When Kamelot went to Montreal, and I went to Kamelot

The year is 2000. A 14-year old me is scouring the internet for news about the new Zelda game, which was up until recently known as “Zelda Gaiden”, set to release later this year. The game, now titled Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask promises to be an darker, deeper sequel to Ocarina of Time. I stumble across a site called Hyrule: The Land of Zelda. The splash page loads a flash video of the Skull Kid wearing Majora’s Mask. Suddenly, the most mesmerizing piece of music I’ve ever heard plays in the background. It’s the first 26 seconds of this song. And all I see is “Music by Nightwish” at the bottom.   And this is what got me interested in symphonic metal. Weirdest, stupidest way to get interested in a type of music, but it’s the truth. To be honest, a very similar event occurred to get me interested in Daft Punk: a clip of Digital Love on a GAP commercial. I had no idea what the song was called, only that the first 26 seconds had pulled me into an obsession. I had to know what that song was. And instead of doing the obvious thing and emailing the webmaster, I decided my best course of action would be to download songs until I found the right one. I underestimated Nightwish’s discography.  It took me about a full year to find the song, but in the meantime, I fell in love with the band. It hadn’t been long after Wishmaster had released, and the first full song I heard had been Sleepwalker, the bonus song from that album.  Years later, after their album Once had released in late 2004, I discovered they were playing a show in Montreal and knew I would have to go see it. I took a 13 hour train ride with a friend who wasn’t even remotely interested in this kind of music and went to see them live. As the first notes of Dark Chest of Wonders swept across the crowd in the Metropolis, I knew. This is my favourite band.  Years still later, I managed to see them live–in Montreal and Quebec City, because few good bands come to New Brunswick–three times with their new singer, Anette. The first show, I even brought the band a small doll I had made based on the character Eva from one of their songs. I was floored when Anette brought it onstage during the encore. Anette told me after the show that she was planning to bring it for other performances as well, and she was true to her word–she brought it onstage in Toronto the same week. Again, Nightwish was cemented firmly as my favourite band.  Slowly but surly, a contender appeared. Kamelot, at first, was unassuming to me. Seeing their video for March of Mephisto on MuchMusic in 2005 got me interested, but it wasn’t until I sat down and listened to the Black Halo as a whole that I truly understood what a fine band they are. I spent the entire summer of 2009 listening to that album on repeat. I couldn’t stop. “All right,” I told myself, “this is your favourite album. But Nightwish is still your favourite band.” Then, disaster struck. Last October, just a day before I was due to make a trip to Montreal for work, I discovered that Anette was no longer a part of Nightwish. I was heartbroken to hear that yet another of the band’s prolific, talented singers was gone. I’m not ashamed to admit I shed tears at both Tarja and Anette’s respective departures. Both times, the future was uncertain. The second time, though, I was starting to develop trust issues. I don’t like to take sides when I don’t know the full story, but I couldn’t help but feel a little bitter. Floor Jansen joined Nightwish to promote their Imaginaerum album and, from what I’ve heard from the live videos uploaded to YouTube, has done a magnificent job singing in the interim. Since the summer of the Black Halo, I had fully...

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The world would be a better place if it were more like Animal Crossing

Posted by on Aug 27, 2013 in Life in Writing | 0 comments

The world would be a better place if it were more like Animal Crossing

Here’s why. And don’t you dare judge me. 10. Renewable resources You can fish all day without a license. You can catch rare butterflies without the fear of airport security hunting you down when you try to smuggle them out of the country. Rare fossils can be found every day. Guess who doesn’t care that you just caught a half dozen whale sharks? The DFO.  9. Your pockets are freaking amazing This is the 27th one today. Fish and bugs can live harmoniously in your pocket without being crushed or killed, even when buried under 4 furniture items. You can store an entire week’s worth of clothing. In your pockets.  8. Storing furniture in handy leaflets There would be a lot more trips to IKEA in my future, let me tell you.  7. Everybody gets a mansion It’s like The Invention of Lying, only true. 6. You can choose your neighbours Don’t like one of your animal friend townies? Kick em out! Fascist. 5. Gardening is stupid easyYou can seriously grow a fruit tree in like 3 days. And then you can chop it down and grow another one in another 3 days. Also, these trees bear fruit every three days. Who needs seasons when you can grow fruit all the time?! Solving world hunger faster than you can count to 72. 4. Your tropical island destination is just a song awayLiterally. 3. Make your first million in a dayGo to the island. Catch beetles. Return to land to sell. Repeat ad nauseum. 2. Get your furniture upholstered in 30 minutesor your Bells back. Seriously though I’d get my furniture re-done every single day if it was as cheap and quick as Cyrus does it. Also if I could store it in a handy leaflet. (See point 8.) 1. Money grows on treesNo, really. Sweet, sweet Bells. My other blog, thisindiegameblog, is typically home to all kinds of other game writings, though they’re typically independent games. Check me out over there, too!Also my Dream Suite address is...

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A quick re-direction

Posted by on Jan 5, 2013 in Life in Writing | 0 comments

I’ve decided that, after four long and detailed blog posts about various indie games, to re-direct that effort elsewhere. I realise that some of the posts have actually become reviews as well as reflections. Rather than hold myself back from this, I’ve decided to go the “create another outlet” route for it. And thus, thisindiegameblog was born. thisindiegameblog will be comprised of reviews and shout-outs for indie games of all kinds. Maybe, through doing this, I’ll manage to find a home for...

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Finishing the Swan

Posted by on Dec 28, 2012 in Life in Writing | 0 comments

Finishing the Swan

Today, I braved the Boxing Day shopping rush to grab something other than a deal. It was a PSN card, so that I could download and enjoy a breathtaking PSN title called The Unfinished Swan. I played the demo last night and was immediately drawn (or painted, in keeping with the theme) to it, so I knew I had to play it as soon as I could. This game was released as a partnership with Santa Monica Studio’s incubation program, which also released other fine independent titles such as Flower and Journey. Naturally, I had high hopes for this game.   You play as a young boy named Monroe whose mother has passed away. She loved to paint pictures of animals, but she would never finish them. When she died, he got to take one of her paintings as a memento, and it was a picture of an unfinished swan. One night, Monroe awakens from his sleep, and the swan has gone missing from the painting. He goes to look for it, and he’s pulled into a white world where he must begin by throwing balls of black paint to reveal his surroundings. All the while, he is following the golden footprints of the swan to try and track it down. As the player, you watch the surroundings evolve from simplistic white canvas that reveals pathways and creatures through the thrown black paint balls, to landscapes that feature simple white with grey shadows, to all-around elaborate, inverted dark-to-light levels. The gameplay evolves from splattering paintballs, to using water balloons to grow vines that you can climb across, to creating blocks in an alternate dimension that will transfer to the regular dimension. Each chapter of the story teaches you how to play the game through sheer experimentation and simple puzzles that will bring you closer to completing the story. The puzzles never get too difficult, and the gameplay is very minimalistic, making it a good choice for experienced gamers and casual gamers alike. You can simply pick it up and play it. Some of the game’s concept art. Design-wise, it relies on minimalistic colours, shapes and designs, and the character designs possess a nostalgic, Petit Prince-like quality. The world, though mainly empty of characters, is full of breathtaking scenery, reminiscent of ICO. Its gameplay, though it uses a number of different mechanics to bring it to life, can be summed up as a platformer, though, as many games are, this game is so much more than that. It’s one of those refreshing games that is simple but complex. It creates a new idea of what gaming can look like, and the direction it might be headed. Another interesting component of the story is the unexpected dual storyline. At first, you’re witnessing Monroe’s story alone, but as the game progresses, the story of a self-absorbed king begins to unfold, to the point that his story is as important as Monroe’s. It also draws a lot of parallels to Monroe’s story, and to his mother’s story. While the game deals with some dark or sad themes, it is considerably lighthearted. Part of this is because of the game’s fairy tale-like storytelling. It deals with the subject of death in a way that is overt, yet sensitive and honest. To me, this is saying that death is a normal part of life, and how you accept death says a lot about you. The theme of leaving things unfinished is an interesting theme, as well, but I won’t go too far into detail, or else I risk spoiling parts of the game. The game is a triumphant voyage through the imagination. It’s beautiful, uplifting, strange, mysterious, and just a little bit sad. I felt compelled to talk about it in detail after playing it, but I also know I’m not quite finished with it yet. Something about this game begs to be revisited. It’s one of those games that, to me, feels almost allegorical, like a good piece of literature. It further cements the video game’s place as a form of art and a...

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