I Miss Dead Space

I’m pretty fickle when it comes to horror. I’ll happily skip most scary movies, but ever now and then I hit on one that I really enjoy, but it won’t convince me to get more into the genre. When it comes to role-playing games, the horror centric stuff is interesting but only in short bursts. My fondness for horror in video games is even more fleeting.

I like scary stories, but I’m just not fussed about spooky games with limited agency. Most horror games put you in a scenario where you feel helpless, which is what enhances the scariness, but they also often strip you of any self defence. You can walk around the map, and when the monster comes you can hide, but you can’t kick or struggle when it gets you. You can take pictures or scoop up documents, but don’t even think about picking up any sharp or heavy to fight the bogeyman off.

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Animal Crossing, My First Family Game

For the last few years, I keep putting aside some money to (maybe) buy a Nintendo Switch, only to talk myself out of it for ‘grown-up’ reasons. You know the kind: do I really need it? I should use the money on something more productive… and so on.

Knowing I would do the same thing this year, my amazing wife stepped in and bought me the Switch for Xmas. Specifically, the Animal Crossing edition. Her intention, of course, was for me to play it. What she didn’t realise was that Animal Crossing: New Horizons would be the first game that our little family would enjoy together – me, her and our little 1 year old. It’s turned out to be our first family video game.

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Why on Earth am I Playing Phasmophobia?

It makes no sense. For the last few years I steered away from horror games. Even games with high tension or stress-inducing gameplay have been avoided. I might watch other gamers play spooky, stressful games, but that’s as close as I get.

The reason: I only get the occasional night to game. Between school work, house work, child care and the occasional D&D game, time for video games is precious and usually just before bed time. Games with horror themes or those that require intense concentration leave me more wired than when I started. I realised I needed to switch things up half-way through Dark Souls. I was ending each evening game more stressed, focused and awake than I care to be just before bed time.

So why have I been playing Phasmophobia for the last few weeks? I could definitely be watching streamers play the game – and I was – but instead I decided to spend the odd evening in a scary game when I’d told myself that was a bad idea. Not only that, but I often play the game solo when my friends aren’t free to join me for spooks.

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My 1 Year Old Bought a Video Game

I remember the days when a parent or older sibling could hand a young person an unplugged controller and they would happily ‘play along’ with the older gamer. Now, with wireless controllers, a young child can take charge with a single button press.

I’ve not played too many video games around my 1-year-old. As I’ve mentioned earlier, I actually played more games after she was born, when she was struggling to sleep through the night and so on. Of course, she wasn’t aware of the game being played.  Continue reading “My 1 Year Old Bought a Video Game”

Which Game was Your Greatest Disappointment?

I recently hopped into No Man’s Sky. I’m usually late to a game, but in this case the wait was very intentional. You might remember that when the game came out it was met with bile and vitriol. To listen to early reviews and discussion, this game apparently lacked in quality in every way. On the dart board of wild, speculative expectation, the game hit the wall and bounced off.

I’m having a great time with the game, but I’ve jumped in four years late. A mountain of content, patching and tweaks have been made to the game in that time. “No Man’s Sky is good now” is a reoccurring suggestion online, a point which most people agree with. I am very happy I waited, and I was very confident I was going to have a good time.

The real reason I waited, however, was not just because of the early criticism. I’m pretty certain I could have enjoyed the original version. It’s definitely the sort of game I enjoy. No, the reason why I waited was because that original divide between ‘promise’ and ‘expectation’ was something I had seen before. As the game was released, I had a grim sense of déjà vu…

I was so disappointed by a game in my youth, that it makes me doubt that quality of games 12 years later.

My Greatest Disappointment: SPORE
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When Do Young Geeks Make You Feel Old?

I am still a decent distance away from considering myself ‘old’. I turned 32 last week, I don’t get confused by modern technology, I get very few eye-rolls when I reference popular culture around my students. My five month old daughter definitely makes me feel youthful, if a little tired sometimes.

Nevertheless, from time to time, I experience events that give me the sense that I am old, or at the very least getting noticeably older. This happens to us all in various ways. You might hear yourself saying things your parents exclaimed when you were little, or react to what you see on the TV with the disgruntled attitude of a person past their youth.

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Haha, you don’t know _____!

I don’t take issue with a great deal while I’m teaching. I’m accepting of the broad span of opinions and preconceptions. I rarely feel the need to lecture people in or out of lessons, and I would never tell you your opinion is flat-out wrong. But when someone laughs at someone for not knowing something, that’s when I dust off the soapbox.

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The Geek is a Dad: Baby VS D&D

I seemed to start playing Dungeons & Dragons as it began its surge in popularity. I can hardly say that I was “playing D&D before it was cool”; the game has been around for longer than I have. Nevertheless, when I was first introduced by a fellow teacher in 2015, the current edition of the game was only a year old, the massively popular Critical Role was just rolling out episode number 6 of campaign 1, and the vast majority of people I spoke to had barely even heard of D&D.

Four years later, D&D has evolved from a minor interest to a major hobby. Up until a few months ago, I was playing several times a month, most of which I was hosting. As the Dungeon Master of these games, I was either pouring over official campaign books or tinkering with my own, far-too-detailed homemade story. I enjoyed creating and playing D&D so much that it even took over the time that I usually reserved for playing video games or watching a good movie. I play other ‘Table Top Role Playing Games’ from time to time, but Dungeons & Dragons has its claws in me.

That was until six months ago, when I began to close the book on all my adventures in preparation for the arrival of my baby daughter. By Christmas, all of my groups knew that once we got to a satisfying place in the story I would bow out. My little lady was on her way and rather than string each game along until we ran out of time, I wanted to choose where the line in the sand was drawn. It was tough, because we all really wanted to play, but there’s nothing worse than a campaign that just fizzles out.

The games I was a player/character in would continue without me, but the games I ‘DMed’ would be gone for a long, long time… or so I thought.

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That One Workbook

There’s a strange phenomenon that occurs when I mark books: there is always one that goes unmarked. I’ve been teaching for 9 years, and each year I have at least half a dozen different sets of workbooks that I mark regularly throughout the year. Every single time, without fail, I hand the books out and one student raises there hand:

“Err, sir? You’ve not marked mine.”

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The Geek is a Dad: Baby VS Video Games

“Can you remember what life was like before?” That’s the curious question I have heard so many times since becoming a dad four months ago. The notion that life would become so unrecognisable because of a baby is not without its merits. I’ve certainly never in my life had this many conversations about sleep patterns or bowel movements. I do however find some fault in the query. Life has changed and is changing, but I don’t believe it will change so much that I cannot enjoy the things I did before, or that I can’t be the same gamer-teacher-geek I’ve always been.

Admittedly, it’s early days. I think part of the reason I’m writing this is so that I can look back at the ‘father of four months’ version of me further down the line. He’s probably going to seem so naïve (and less grey haired). For now, I am that hopeful sole that sees his fatherhood as a life equally nerdy as what came before. How, when and why I enjoy my geekiness – my video games, Dungeons & Dragons, history and teaching – will change, but the last few weeks have taught me that the Geek is a Dad, and the Dad is always going to be a Geek.

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