Convalescing, part one

So menopause…yeah. Yes, I know, not a topic traditionally talked about in gaming but f&%k it, it’s my blog and I’ll talk about OG gamer girl issues if I wanna. Hey, women my age are the fastest growing demographic in video gaming. So let’s talk about The Change.

In my last post, I mentioned my impending hysterectomy and bilateral oophorectomy which has since come to pass. I also talked about all the time to game the recovery would afford me. Ahhhh, best laid schemes.

Okay, so the first few days of misery, I expected. Surgery sucks, there’s no way around that. Pieces of my body were cut out. That’s gonna hurt. I had reconciled myself to the first few days languishing in bed. Two weeks later…I feel better, not great, but better. Some of it is still the incisions and stitches. But wait! There’s more!

Small bio lesson here: see the human body has three major reproductive hormones: progesterone, testosterone, and estrogen. I won’t go too much into what they all do, but they are all important to a person’s overall health and well-being. Right now, since I had both ovaries removed, my body isn’t producing much of those hormones and I’m miserable. No, that should be Miserable with a capital M. Actually, it should be MISERABLE, all caps. And yes, I’m shouting.

Now usually when misery comes to visit, I game. I play for hours on end, day after day after day. But without those essential chemical messengers coursing through my veins, I can’t focus, I have no energy, I can’t sleep and I’m on the verge of a serious depression. And now I’m missing one of the tools that helps me cope.

I’ve tried to force myself to play. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s mostly been Netflix and chill. And no, not in the colloquial sense, lol. Let’s put it this way, fifteen seasons of Supernatural might not be enough to last till I go back to work. The term “binge-watching” doesn’t scratch the surface. It’s more like mainlining TV. A wide open IV of mindless entertainment replete with a heparin flush to keep the needle from clogging.

Okay, I took that metaphor too far as I am wont to do. My point being: all this Netflix watching is not healthy. Not that no-lifing a game is, but at least gaming keeps the brain active. Encourages persistent optimism. Leads to strong social bonds. Not to mention burns 250 calories per hour.

When I decided to kiss my sickly female parts goodbye, I expected hot flashes, night sweats, forgetfulness, mood swings, insomnia, dry skin, and just a general sense of feeling like crap. I didn’t expect my love of gaming to go down the fallopian tubes. (See…see what I did there? I’m so clever 🤭 lol) Menopause, I can deal with, but game-o-pause? Oh hell no!

I’m just gonna say it, Mother Nature is raging b!tch. All the bull$h!t she puts women though? And now this? But that’s fine cuz I got science on my side. This week I start that good-good. That sticky-icky HRT (hormone replacement therapy). In a couple weeks, I’ll should be right as rain, gripping my controller tight. Till death do us part!

Author’s note: I started this blog post a couple weeks ago and just now had the mental energy to finish it. To all my lady gamers who are suffering due to menopause (or even worse, game-o-pause), please allow me to quote Jessica Tandy’s character from Fried Green Tomatoes, “You get yourself some hormones…”

The Change clip from Fried Green Tomatoes

I’m not a paid blogger…yet! Your support can help me reach that goal. Please feel leave your thoughts, subscribe to my blog or hit me up on Twitter @cindyjacks. If you’d like to buy me a coffee or leave a tip you can do so at ko-fi or cash app $cindyjacksbooks. All donations to my online content are much appreciated, but definitely not required to keep coming back to visit! Game on, my friends!

Laugh or Cry? I Choose Game

Picture of me with my hand over my eyes

There’s an old saying, “It’s either laugh or cry so I choose to laugh.” And yes, given only those two choices, I’d choose laughter most days. But if I can write in another candidate, I’d choose gaming.

To bastardize another cliché, when the going gets tough, I get gaming. And the going has been tough lately. I’m having some health issues. They have to do with my lady parts, we’ll leave it at that. No need for the gory details. And its nothing super serious, but enough that it causes me daily pain and I need surgery to make things right.

So when the doc starts telling me about the procedure and the risks and the possible things causing the problems, instead of focusing on the words hysterectomy and biopsy and extended recovery time (which is two weeks), my mind immediately started doing the math. 16 hours a day awake x 14 days. That’s 224 hours to game. Oh f%&k yeah. I suppose it’s my self-defense mechanisms kicking in, trying to figure out how to make lemonade cuz life just gave me lemons.

Do I want to have pieces of my innards ripped out? No. Not really. Do I want 224 hours to game. Yes, yes I do. So were I to say I’d give my left ovary to have more time to game (and the right one too), very soon that statement shall be true.

Yes, I know I’m being flippant. But one must always look on the bright side. Yes, the surgery most likely will make me feel better, but it also comes with a whole slew of potential side effects that must be dealt with and could ruin certain aspects of life I very much enjoy.

And I think it’s gonna be a while before I feel good again…if I ever do. So…yeah. Gaming is my way of taking my mind off all that stuff.

Lots of smart folks will warn you about escapism (let’s be honest, that’s what I’m talking about.) But really, I don’t see the harm in it, as long as you don’t drown in it. Adult life is stressful and it’s easier to face all the fear and loss and pain (physical, emotional, and mental) if once in a while you get to be a bada$$. Even if it’s just a role you play.

If I’m neck deep in boss fights and trepidatious exploration, I don’t have to listen when my brain pops out thoughts like:

Will I be the same after the surgery?

Will I suddenly code under anesthesia because some people die during surgery for no reason?

Will I be in a lot of pain afterward and will the docs be stingy with pain meds because they have to be these days?

Am I still a woman if most of my woman parts are gone?

Will hormone replacement be adequate?

Will sex still be enjoyable?

Am I gonna be able to replace all the money we took out of savings for this?

Will I still be me?

I am worried and I am afraid. And if gaming can give me a break from the constant loop of melodramatic thoughts, then I don’t see a problem with a little escapism.

I’m not a paid blogger…yet! Your support can help me reach that goal. Please feel leave your thoughts, subscribe to my blog or hit me up on Twitter @cindyjacks. If you’d like to buy me a coffee or leave a tip you can do so at ko-fi or cash app $cindyjacksbooks. All donations to my online content are much appreciated, but definitely not required to keep coming back to visit! Game on, my friends!

Gaming Blogs…Still Relevant?

Pic of me in a blue t-shirt holding my red Xbox controller

Lately I’m starting to think I’ve become a dinosaur. Does anyone read blogs about gaming anymore? There seems so much pressure to post videos on YouTube or stream on Twitch, but what’s an introvert like me to do?

The thought of talking to dozens of people live…okay, I’m flattering myself. No one would watch my stream. It’s not like I’m comfortable wearing low cut shirts and bouncing “accidentally” while I play. But let’s for argument’s sake say dozens of people tuned in, I’d freeze up. Unless I’m drunk, in which case the gaming would be $h!t. I choose to write because I need that distance from my audience. Don’t get me wrong, I love y’all, but you also scare me to death! Hi, I’m Cindy and I’m an ISFP. What that means in a nutshell is I have palaces built in my mind and I’d rather live in them alone than in the real world. You can check out what that means in depth right here 😉👉

Don’t get me wrong, I have dipped a toe in the swirling waters of Twitch with some friends and family. Check the feed below to see the disaster and yes…I was drunk so…yeah. It was really hard for me. I get so damn tense. And I hate the sound of my own voice. And it’s exhausting. The thought of doing that on my own is terrifying. Plus that’s a whole other mess of stuff to promote. I’m not even very good at promoting my own blog.

Twitch stream highlight courtesy of BeAStupidGamer

The biggest obstacle is simple: I’m a writer. Which brings me back to the original question? Does anyone read about gaming anymore? I do, especially guides when I’m stuck. I prefer how-to articles to videos because I can read faster than the video can play. I read reviews to see if I’ll like a game. Again, this is just more efficient to me than watching a fifteen minute video. And I do read op-ed pieces about gaming in general. But does anyone else?

I have a decent Twitter following that’s growing and inevitably I get the daily DM that asks what my Twitch schedule is or what my YouTube link is. When I reply I have a blog about gaming I can actually hear the pause on the other end of the conversation. Then they reply “Cool” or something equally as non-interested, lol. But blogging about gaming just makes sense to me. I love gaming and written words flow in my veins.

I started this blog because I was going through a rough patch in life. I continued pursuing it because of the conversations I had with some contractors remodeling my parents’ house. These middle-aged guys would chat with me for hours about Red Dead Online or Warframe or whatever story game I was no-lifing at the time. The general consensus was they wished the women in their lives enjoyed gaming. So I thought why not represent those grown up gamer girls, those of us bitten by the gaming bug in the 1980s and who remained gamer girls our whole lives. But will my voice ever be heard? Or am I just shouting into the whirlwind of obsolescence?

I suppose it doesn’t really matter because I love writing and I’ll never give it up. Perhaps I’ll try a more multimedia approach to my passion for gaming. Attach videos to my blog articles, give Audible a try so folks can listen to my insanity instead of having to read it. Make my presence known of different social media platforms. I suppose there are lots of ways to punch up just words.

But I love the plain old written…in case you couldn’t tell. 🥰

If I’ve entertained you or added some value to your day, wonderful! Please feel free to leave your thoughts, subscribe to my blog or hit me up on Twitter @cindyjacks. If you’d like to support my blog with donations you can do so at ko-fi or cash app $cindyjacksbooks. All donations to my online content are much appreciated, but definitely not required to keep coming back to visit! Game on, my friends!

Falling in Love Again

When Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands first came out, it didn’t pique my interest much. I’d just gone on a Borderlands binge with Charles. All four games played back to back to back (to back?) so yeah…I was a bit burnt out on the franchise.

And okay fine, I’ll admit it: while I found Tiny Tina’s murderous, foul-mouthed savagery mixed with a dash of innocence a wonderful addition to the zaniness that abounds in Borderlands, I wasn’t sure I wanted to endure a whole game of her affectations. Plus, there was also the whole Dungeons and Dragons RPG aspect of Wonderlands that I couldn’t quite imagine working as the premise for a video game. Boy, was I f@$king wrong!

It’d been about a year since I’d taken a hiatus from vault hunting. And as is often the case with my gaming library, I stumbled upon Wonderlands on sale in the XBox store. It was $36 for the Next Level Edition, which is pretty much half price. I learned my lesson long ago that $70 for a game I wind up tepid about stings like a b!tch. But less than $40, I can choke that down and move on. To my surprise, Wonderlands turned out to be an amazing addition to the franchise.

As soon as I started to play, it was like spying an old flame across a dimly lit barroom, that one that you parted with not because of spite or disgust, but simply because your paths diverged and since then you’d thought: what if? And there they are looking finer than ever and you walk over to say hi, their eyes light up and a smile tugs at their lips, you hug and then you know it. The spark ignites into a raging it’s gonna be one of those nights involving a zip ties, chicken feathers, and a jacuzzi full of lime Jello. Yeah, playing Wonderlands was like that.

I’d forgotten how the creators of Borderlands compose a symphony of sarcasm, dark humor, and absurdity, sprinkled with an undertone of tragedy. It’s a recipe few games can pull off, but each and every time they have. Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is no exception. And I’d forgotten how much I love inhabiting that wild and wacky world.

One of Wonderlands biggest successes is the writing. Being a writer myself, I appreciate masters of the craft. I also thank the writers for scaling back Tiny Tina just a bit. Just enough that her slang-heavy, colloquial style of speaking doesn’t get tiresome. But they left enough of the character’s TikTok diva attitude that she remains true to what you’d expect of her. There are also poignant moments where she reveals her fears and loneliness. The strong dialogue voiced by the oh-so talented Ashly Burch, Wanda Sykes, and Andy Samberg (who I’m pretty sure is Adam Sandlers’ love child…just sayin’) conjures up a fanciful masterpiece

The main quest and side missions parody every fairytale imaginable, both old school and contemporary. And the devs flaunt it at every turn which made me laugh out loud at times. You’ve got Ron Ribolte who fights a “cyclops” clocktower to rescue his love, Princess Daffodil. There’s Raiders of the Lost Shark. Not to mention nods to Peter Pan, The Little Mermaid, Pirates of the Caribbean, Pinocchio, Lord of the Rings, even a couple dabs of Star Wars. I could go on and on, but for the a player who knows their legends and lore, the references are everywhere and masterfully (and amusingly) reinterpreted.

I gotta give a shout out to my favorite reference: Gerritt of Trivia, master monster slayer. He even brags about bedding a woman while mounted atop a unicorn. I damn near dropped my controller I was fangirling so badly. You know I love my Witcher so I highly recommend The Ditcher side quest.

If I had to find something to complain about,  the only thing that comes to mind is the loot. Not enough? No, quite the contrary. There’s an overwhelming amount of it. And most of it is crap. But once in a while, you find that pearl amongst the mound of oyster shells which makes all the grinding worthwhile. It’s OP and therefore so are you. Also, selling the crap loot is the primary way you earn gold though you are paid for every quest.

I don’t often rate games because reviews aren’t the primary purpose of this blog, but I’d give Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands a 10/10. I also loved the message from the devs at the end of the game. It basically says that they love their gamer fan base and wanted to create something that brings people together even if they cant physicallybe together. This was inspired by the COVID lockdowns. What a beautiful idea. We love you too, Gearbox.

Even though I’ve finished the main quest of the game, there’s still a ton of content left. I’m so reticent to leave this world, I’m doing side missions and challenges after the fact. That’s rare for me. I even checked the list of achievements. I’m considering platinum’ing the game. Sorry, I mean completing all the achievements. I’m on XBox now, gotta stop with the PlayStation lingo. But point being, I’m not a completionist, but for Tiny Tina, I could be.

If I’ve entertained you or added some value to your day, wonderful! Please feel free to leave your thoughts, subscribe to my blog or hit me up on Twitter @cindyjacks. If you’d like to support my blog with donations you can do so at ko-fi or cash app $cindyjacksbooks. All donations to my online content are much appreciated, but definitely not required to keep coming back to visit! Game on, my friends!

Boy Games and Girl Games…Really?

Me at work in my Tyvek deliciousness
My Saints Row character

A recent occurrence got me thinking. Well, actually two recent occurrences. First was this f@%k-wit on Twitter who went on a rant about who is and isn’t a “real gamer”. Sorry, I shouldn’t call him a f@%k-wit. How about a$$hat? Nope, that’s not nice either. Neanderthal? Hmm, no, that’s insulting to Neanderthals. Okay, this unenlightened dude, aside from attacking casual gamers, spewed some nonsense about women not being real gamers either. And let me tell you why. He asserted that games like Pokémon and Stardew Valley aren’t real games and that tagging along with your boyfriend while he kills everything doesn’t make you a gamer.

Okay let’s unpack this bull$hit one point at a time:

1 – No one has the right to determine who is and isn’t a gamer. As far as I’m concerned if you consider yourself a gamer then yeah, good enough.

2 – It’s 2023, verbally assaulting and stereotyping a whole group of people based on gender, so NOT cool.

3 – Ummm, Pokémon is one of the most successful gaming franchises ever. And Stardew Valley has a huge following,  male and female and non-binary.

4 – Check my list of games played. You won’t see Pokémon or SDV or anything cute and sweet on that list. I’m a middle-aged woman with middle-aged grown up stress. I wanna beat the f@%k out of something on the daily. Might as well be some NPCs. I ain’t tryin’ to catch a charge, lol.

5 – A lot of the time I game alone. But when I do game with Charles, I at the very least hold my own, if not get more kills or points or whatever. Suck on that, Mr. F@%kwit A$$hat Neanderthal.

And this brings me to the second occurrence that got me thinking about girl/boy games. So, while Pokémon isn’t a franchise I indulge in, Charles loves it. He also quite enjoys Dragon Quest Builders 2. He’ll often call himself silly for playing such games. Now, hold on, before you get all outraged, you have to understand, we come from a time where boy and girl stuff was very delineated. And as much as we try to change with the times, some of that $h!t sticks. It just does. Early indoctrination and all that.

The way I see it, if the way you live your life ain’t hurting anyone else, then you do you, boo boo. Just like we shouldn’t be trapped into only gender traditional occupations, neither should gamers be limited or judged by the titles they play. It’s 2023, people.

But here’s the thing: my sweet lovin’ man is a 6’2 cowboy from Kansas. He served his country in Iraq, he’s never lost a bar fight, and he works as security at a city hospital. How much more traditionally male can you get? But does that does that mean he should only play steeped in machismo. Hell no! Just like there’s nothing wrong with me loving ultra-violent games such as GTAV or RDR2 or the Ghost Recon series. They help a lot with perimenopausal mood swings, I can tell you that!

In fact, I think it’s the role reversal that draws us to polar opposite games. Charles spends his days breaking up fights and restraining patients who would harm themselves and others so more violence during his time off just isn’t what the doctor ordered. I on the other hand, work in a lab where order, reason, strictly enforced processes, and best practices dictate my every move. When I get home I crave chaos, blood guts and gore. I need to go a bit feral. So is it silly for either of us to play games that step outside traditional gender roles. Not at all. Makes sense I’d you really think about it.

What games do you play that are “unexpected”? Drop a comment! I’d love to hear about them.

If I’ve entertained you or added some value to your day, wonderful! Please feel free to leave your thoughts, subscribe to my blog or hit me up on Twitter @cindyjacks. If you’d like to support my blog with donations you can do so at ko-fi or cash app $cindyjacksbooks. All donations to my online content are much appreciated, but definitely not required to keep coming back to visit! Game on, my friends!


Photo from Zombie Army 4 on XBox Series S

Not sure what it is lately, but I’d guess that about 60% of the games I’ve played in the last six months are zombie-related. Saints Row aside (which I think could only benefit from a zombie DLC mixed in to its beautiful madness), I’ve played 7 Days to Die, Back for Blood 4, Call of Duty Black Ops 3 (the zombie maps), The Callisto Protocol, Dying Light 2, Evil West, Resident Evil 2, The Evil Within 2, Plants vs. Zombies, Prey, State of Decay 2, and Zombie Army 4. This weekend I dove into Dead Island mostly because the trailer for Dead Island 2 looks bada$$$$$$$$$. But I’ve never much been into the whole zombie apocalypse thang before. Okay, fine, I did watch The Walking Dead, but who didn’t? Suddenly I’m all about the rotten buggers…so why now?

Video from Zombie Army 4 on XBox Series S

Maybe it’s just the sheer violence of zombie games. I mean it’s more than just a shmup. It’s like whack-a-mole, but with brains flying everywhere.

And there’s no guilt to bashing the face in of something that’s no longer human, right? That’s okay, right? I mean, ngl, but I don’t feel particularly bad murdering anything or anyone in a video game because guess what! It’s not real. Okay, I might feel bad stomping puppies or clubbing baby seals. But the average NPC baddie? Nah. It’s a virtual pressure valve for our basest impulses which no longer have an outlet since we are a polite, civilized society these days (🤣🤣🤣, I know, I can’t believe I typed that with a straight face). But it’s true, these days we fight with words and social media body shaming far more than with actual weapons. But there has to be more to my zombie fixation than just the violence. Cuz you can get that with any number of genres.

Maybe it’s the economy? There’s a study, I’d cite it if I could find it, but I don’t gave the time to dig through the interwebs right now, but there is a study done by actual smart people that states zombie lore does much better when the economy is crap. Well, it doesn’t get much crappier than it’s been lately. $6 for a carton of eggs, are you f@#king kidding me? Doubling electric bills. Corporate profits at an all-time high while worker wages and benefits are shit. The stock market is free falling. The cost of healthcare…don’t get me started on that, we’d be here all day. But even compared to a year ago, the average American is spending more on necessities and utilities and keep less for fun stuff, like…oh, you know, gaming? I think we can agree ye ole economy, not so hot. But why does that make the zombie apocalypse more appealing?

I have a theory, substantiated by nothing, mind you. When we’re all broke AF and struggling to keep the lights on, there’s something comforting and freeing about the collapse of society. It’s broken anyway. What if we could loot and riot and go back to survival of the fittest for real instead of just social Darwinism? And in video games, you’re character is always the fittest, most bada$$-est killing machine ever. Which for me is also freeing because physically, well, I’m about as coordinated as purple shoes with an orange handbag. Yep, if the zombies are chasing us, trust I’m the one getting eaten. Y’all would be fine 😂. But games like State of Decay 2 and Days Gone make me feel like I’m a survivor, that I can beat the MF system. I can amass a fortune in a world gone wild. And bash some zombie heads in to boot.

It also doesn’t hurt that most zombapocalypse games are co-op. Charles and I are forever looking for stuff we can play together, that we’ll both like and more often than not, we come up with a title revolving around the undead. Which only makes sense: fighting a horde alone is just a bad idea. And we like to shoot stuff, lol.

Whatever the reason, I believe fighting the infected and undead has become a staple of my gaming diet. I’m eagerly awaiting the release of Dead Island 2. And my boo was kind enough to buy me the Ragnarok DLC for Zombie Army 4. Hey, if Buffy can be known for dispatching vampires with extreme malice, why can’t I claim the title of Cindy the Zombie Slayer?

If I’ve entertained you or added some value to your day, wonderful! Please feel free to leave your thoughts, subscribe to my blog or hit me up on Twitter @cindyjacks. If you’d like to support my blog with donations you can do so at ko-fi or cash app $cindyjacksbooks. All donations to my online content are much appreciated, but definitely not required to keep coming back to visit! Game on, my friends!

Please, for the Love of God, Leave Retro in the Past

Space Invaders, copyright Atari

My apologies in advance. I don’t rant often, but I’m about to:

Okay, let me start off this blog post by saying I’m not trashing retro-gaming. Not at all. In fact, I play older games when I’m feeling nostalgic. And let me remind y’all that I’ll be 50 in August. My first gaming “console” was Pong. You hooked that machine and paddles up to a 20″ vacuum tube TV and batted a pixel ball across the screen. Then, one miraculous day when I was about 9 or 10, my dad brought home an Atari. I cut my gamer teeth on titles like Pac-Man, Frogger, Space Invaders, and Donkey Kong. So trust me when I say, I have love for what y’all call retro…it’s what I call my childhood.

But there’s this new fangled stuff called 60fps (even higher if you have a monitor that can handle it), UHD, 4K, HDR and games that are filmed with motion capture. So why…why why why why put out a new game with a brilliant concept with old school mechanics? I’m looking at you Weird West.

When I saw the trailer for this game, I wanted it. The concept is brilliant and I’m a sucker for Old West games. C’mon,  my favorite game is RDR2. I was even willing to overlook the top-down view. (Seriously, no one but a bird or a bat or flying f@#king squirrel sees the world that way?!) And I think I could love Weird West, except for the wonky twin stick aiming system. Even with the option of free camera the stupid POV gets in your way. WTF? The game was released on 03/31/2022. There’s no f@#king reason to put out a clunky a$$ game like this in 2022! No reason at all except perhaps the devs thought it would be cool.

Perhaps the devs never suffered though the old days of gaming when we didn’t have a choice, when the technology lagged behind our dreams of what we could do. It’s 2023, y’all. And stop romanticizing gaming of the past. It was hard, it was unforgiving and that didn’t make it more fun. It was what we had to deal with at the time so we made do. We didn’t know anything different. No autosave, no aim assist, no graphics so gorgeous they’d evoke a tear. It was slogging through pixelated madness, failing more times than not, until you got it right. That’s doesn’t add to the fun. That’s damn near the definition of insanity. I think that’s why you see so few hard-core gamers over the age of 40. Only those of us with OCD issues stuck with it!

And yes, I know I’m gonna get a lot of flack for the way I feel about it, but I’ve earned my stripes. I grew up with the games that restarted you at level 1 if you were unlucky or unskilled enough to die three times (or perhaps four if you’d jumped through enough hoops to earn an extra life). But I guarantee you, the vast majority of “retro” gamers are under the age of 40. I’d bet my left ovary (and that’s the good one) that even 30 is the cut off age for most of them. Why? Because while they think retro games are cool and funky and fun (and they can be: I still play Galaga and Pac-Man from time to time), gamers today have a choice. Should dying over and over and over and over and starting over piss them off to no end, they can play a newer game that doesn’t subject them to that $h!t. That’s not the way it was for those of us who weathered gaming in its infancy.

And for the devs out there, please…please, please, please stop making new games with old gaming features. It’s like trying to cure syphilis with mercury. It’s maddening. When I spend the money on a new title, I want new freaking tech, new combat systems, new ways to interact with the world. Don’t slap old school elements on it and call it art, because it’s not. No more than every black and white movie is art. It’s 2023. Conduct yourselves accordingly.

//End rant.

If I’ve entertained you or added some value to your day, wonderful! Please feel free to leave your thoughts, subscribe to my blog or hit me up on Twitter @cindyjacks. If you’d like to support my blog with donations you can do so at ko-fi or cash app $cindyjacksbooks. All donations to my online content are much appreciated, but definitely not required to keep coming back to visit! Game on, my friends!

#Game Hole

Amazon Fire TV Show Hole Commercial

It’s 7am, I’m hungover AF but I’m up early to play. Problem is I can hear Malcolm McDowell announcing in his epic voice that I’ve fallen into a game hole. Yes, I’m appropriating Amazon Fire TV’s slogan because that’s exactly what it’s like.

I’ve scoured Game Pass and PlayStation Plus for that next fix that won’t cost as much as a filling up my tank these days. Or as much as my co-pay to see my PCP. Wait…would purchasing a new game be a valid expense on my HSA card? 🤔 I mean it is definitely a mental health thing for me. Otherwise I have to dwell on the fact that I’ve got some scary medical procedures coming up (turning 50 is a bitch) and the fact that it’s February and I’m waiting for PTSD to punch me in the gut or the fact that I’ve never been able to listen to my own thoughts without running for some kind of coping mechanism and gaming is far healthier than the other coping mechanisms I’ve chosen in the past. Sorry. I’m rambling. And yes, I know that was totally a run on sentence.

This is me on the way home, knowing I’ve got nothing good to play

I mean it’s gotten so bad I replayed the original Plants vs Zombies on XBox. But I burned through that in about 8 hours. That includes meal and bathroom breaks. So yeah, WTF am I supposed to do now? Sit around and spend time with my family? C’mon be serious. Lol, kidding. And actually gaming is how me and my family spend time together so there…stop judging me 😂

I could replay one of the titles I love, but we all know that doesn’t provide the adrenaline and dopamine hit I’m craving. All the new and cool games I’m looking forward to on Game Pass are weeks or months away. I can’t afford the titles I want to buy. Okay, I can afford them, but there’s that whole pesky saving for retirement thing.

As I write this post I’m literally scrolling through. I’ve gotten all the way down to the W’s without finding something I’ve either already played or have no desire to try. I’m considering a couple out of sheer desperation The Wolfenstein titles might be fun. And there’s Weird West which looks right up my alley, bit the POV in the game is just odd. Too far away and sort of an over the top. Have I mentioned how much I hate the over the top POV? Why do devs ever choose it? It’s not how we see the world. How am I supposed to immerse myself in a world when I feel so separated from it? Seriously! Thus endeth the rant.

I suppose I’ll find some way to pass the time until Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty releases (OMG, soooo looking forward to that game, March 2nd, son…oh yeah!). And who knows, maybe I’ll find another masterpiece like the ones I wrote about last week. Most likely I’ll slog through something that leaves me feeling tepid about it at best. But that’s what gamers do. We play because we love playing. We are persistently optimistic. And gaming is like pizza or sex: when it’s good it’s so very f@#king good and when it’s bad…it’s still pretty damn good.

If I’ve entertained you or added some value to your day, wonderful! Please feel free to leave your thoughts, subscribe to my blog or hit me up on Twitter @cindyjacks. If you’d like to support my blog with donations you can do so at ko-fi or cash app $cindyjacksbooks. All donations to my online content are much appreciated, but definitely not required to keep coming back to visit! Game on, my friends!

Broke Down and Put Myself Back Together Again

Nightmare -Halsey, subject to copyright

Yes, I appropriated the title of this post from Halsey. Because Nightmare is spot on how I feel today. And I’m not even sure I’m going to publish this. Right now I’m thinking aloud, trying to trap my unwelcome thoughts on an electronic page.

So here goes: It’s a bad anniversary for me. Five years ago today, around 10pm the man I loved with all my heart, the man I’d devoted fifteen years to tried to kill me. He was drunk and abusing Adderall. No excuse. And it wasn’t the first time he’d hurt me.

Mentally, emotionally, physically. He’d find a way to beat me down. But five years ago he went beyond just the usual torture and started strangling me because I made a joke he didn’t like. Or at least he says I did. My memory of the incident is patchy. The weird thing is we were having a good day, until…whatever.

Honestly, I don’t know how I feel about any of it anymore. I’m no longer under his spell. I cast the evil one out of my life. I’m a different person. And the most wonderful man in the world blesses me with his love–real love. Sweet, kind, generous, thoughtful, beautiful love. In fact, Charles taught me the meaning of the word love. After what I’d been through that was no small feat.

So what does any of this have to do with gaming, you ask? This is a blog about video games after all. Well, in the wake of what N (that’s what we’ll call the prick to avoid too many pronouns and he’s a bit like Voldemort. Saying his name would give him power). So after N did what he did to me, I couldn’t get out of bed. To the point that my son, who was a young teen at the time, asked me if I was ever going to get up. So I knew I had to. But how? Resident Evil 7: Biohazard got me up and moving. I hadn’t had time to play it when my whole life revolved around N. But now i had the time so I decided I would try to focus on something besides the pain and shame and guilt I was drowning in. Yes, guilt…for not ridding myself of the bastard sooner.

I started by gaming in bed and it turned out immersing myself in a world so foreign to my own nightmare helped. It helped so much I started to function again…sort of.

Gaming became a huge part of my recovery. I’d get up, get dressed (yes, yoga pants and a t-shirt count as getting dressed), make breakfast for my son and once he went to school, I’d game. I’d actually set a timer and every two hours I’d pause the game and do one chore like put on some laundry or clean the kitchen or pay bills. And then I’d return to my XBox. The system meted out the time I’d have to spend in reality and made it possible for me to function in measured doses. And it was far healthier than drinking my way through the day. Okay, I did still drink way too much, but not so much that I couldn’t game. Again, the desire to conquer the T-virus overrode the desire to self-destruct.

Once I’d beat RE7, I moved on to Rise of the Tomb Raider. It sounds silly but Lara Croft’s badassery inspired me. She was a strong woman and so was I. I’d been viciously attacked, but I’d survived. This rediscovered love of gaming carried me through the bullshut that was yet to come. All the horrible things N did in an effort to get my attention. Or just to hurt me because I wouldn’t reunite with him.

See, it didn’t just end with him choking me and me banishing him from the house. There were financial and legal attacks. And other stuff I’d rather not put into words. The only place I could escape him was my XBox and PS4. RDR2 and The Witcher 3. Those games, both with vast quantities of content, became my safe space.

I know it sounds melodramatic, but gaming saved my life. I’ve no doubt I would’ve drunk myself to death or OD’d. When the pain got too much to bear, I turned on the XBox and its chirp as it awakened told me I could be free. If only for a little while.

And now I feel exposed because I’m talking very publicly about something very personal. Like I said at the beginning of this post, I’m not sure I want to publish it. But if I don’t then it feels like a dirty little secret. And maybe one person who reads it will feel less alone with their trauma. Still, it’s a bad day full of bad memories. I’ll definitely be running for the XBox and the shelter of my beloved’s arms when I get home today. It’s all I want to do. And all I should do because my other inclinations only hurt me. And I’ve been hurt enough.

Please feel free to leave your thoughts, subscribe to my blog or hit me up on Twitter @cindyjacks. If you’d like to support my blog with donations you can do so at ko-fi or cash app $cindyjacksbooks. All donations to my online content are much appreciated, but definitely not required to keep coming back to visit. Game on, my friends!

Weird But Wonderful

Deathloop cover courtesy of Bethesda
Lost in Random cover courtesy of Electronic Arts
Blacktail game cover courtesy of Parasight
High on Life game cover courtesy of Squanch Games

Yep, I’m still alive. And still struggling with the day-to-day grind that is life. Perhaps not so much depression, but just that blah feeling as though your walking through a black and white movie. And not a good one like Casasblanca. But a dull, drab, pointless one like Andy Warhol’s Empire. Just the same f@#king view in silence for over eight hours. Yes, I know the point was to watch time go by. But we do that every freaking day, Andy! Watch ourselves repeat the same $h!t over and over while we get older and our kids grow up and pull away and our dreams fade and we wonder ever godd@mn day what the f@#king point is… sorry, that got dark.

So, yeah. Daily life is rarely exciting or exhilarating. And that’s why a lot of gamers play. It’s a chance to live many lives, inhabit new and challenging situations that just don’t occur in real life. I know that’s why I do. But even games can get dull and repetitive. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a looter-shooter gal at heart. But once in a while you need a break from the “go here, kill this guy, fetch that” trope so prevalent in so many titles.

My trip into the weird and wonderful started with Deathloop which I would have voted as GOTY. Seriously, I loved it that much. And the funny thing is, I thought I’d hate it. I only tried it because XBox offered it free from the day it released. I no-lifed that game as much as a person with a full time job can. Ahhhh, I miss the endless days of sixteen hour gaming sessions. Get up, game till I couldn’t see straight, go to bed. But I’m off topic. Sorry.

So, Deathloop. I loved all of it. The weird, twisted mystery of why Colt is repeating the same day over and over and wondering why Juliana hates him. The logic puzzle of how to kill six people who are only available at certain four times of day. The morality challenge at the end. Oh and the violence. Very therapeutic. I don’t care what nonsense anyone spews about violence in video games. The vicarious experience of letting out my inner beast had saved many a customer’s life.

But of course there’s always that low, that letdown after you finish a game. That craving which isn’t satisfied by yet another playthrough. I wanted to discover quirky greatness again.

I did what any working class gamer would do…I searched my Game Pass and PlayStation Plus titles for something just as weird. I found Lost in Random. Another masterpiece! From the beautifully spun, charming main story to the inventive battle system. I rolled the dice through this charming little sleeper of a game till I cried. And yes, I did cry at the end. That’s the hallmark of a great game right there.

Refreshed I delved into the usual. Played some Ghost Recon Wildlands and Breakpoint with my boo. But we have this unwritten rule that we don’t play our co-op games while the other isn’t home. What to do on the weekends he works? Again Game Pass saved me. I watched the trailer for Blacktail and knew I had to play it. C’mon, it’s like Malificent, but for Baba Yaga!

And don’t let the fact that you’re a young girl wandering through a fairytale laden land fool you. Blacktail is challenging. The enemies and the combat are formidable. The story is finely crafted. Plus you get to choose whether Yaga is good or evil. Your choices do matter. I love those types of games. It was a revelation. I did my first playthtough as good, I mean we all know I’m a goodie two shoes. But I can’t wait to unleash my dark side on a second playthrough.

Rounding out my trip into games that break out of the box was High on Life. Yes, again, it’s free with Game Pass. But oh my f@#king god. The talking guns (aka Gatlians) make this game. Actually, all the dialogue and voice acting is superb and funny as all hell. It’s dark humor, but I’m a fan and nearly impossible to offend. Best line in a game ever (in reference to your character’s newly minted Bounty hunter status and zeal to go straight for the big boss): “Whoa there. Do they let you fuck the glumpers at Glumpees without a level four fuckpass?….Well, the answer is no. No they don’t.” I laughed so hard I had to pause the game. That happened a lot during this campy space cowboy romp. And their commentary on gaming and devs hit the mark. Besides, who hasn’t dreamed of wielding a sentient gun who shoots goop out of its “trick hole.” ‘Nuff said 😂

It’s true that quirky games can be hit or miss. I’ve tried quite a few that were well in the miss category, like the rat-nado game that shall remain nameless and that somehow got a sequel. Okay, I did try out the sequel…freaking Game Pass and its wicked ways. But the times out-of-the-box games hit, well, that makes all the difference in the world. And now I’m refreshed and ready to get back to some sh’mups.

Hey, if you’ve got a favorite weird game, I’d love to hear about it in the comments. And if I’ve entertained you or added some value to your day, wonderful! Please feel free to leave your thoughts, subscribe to my blog or hit me up on Twitter @cindyjacks. If you’d like to support my blog with donations you can do so at ko-fi or cash app $cindyjacksbooks. All donations to my online content are much appreciated, but definitely not required to keep coming back to visit! Game on, my friends!