The Evil Day Job

Me in my scrubs, wishing I could be home gaming instead.

Just about every content creator, writer, and artist I know will feel me when I say this: I’m so f@#king sick of my day job (or as I call it the EDJ for short). Don’t get me wrong. Most of the time I really like my job and I love the folks I work with. But spending 40+ hours a week doing something I don’t love, that doesn’t spark my heart and soul…well, it’s just exhausting. And it’s seriously cutting into my time to do the things I love most: gaming and writing.

That being said, some of this indentured servitude is self inflicted. Once upon a time I was a published author. I didn’t make tons of money, but I made enough to consider it a side income. But once again, I had to write about something that…well, wasn’t exactly something I wanted to write for the rest of my life. I wrote erotic romance (AKA chick porn) and while it was fun at first, it got tiring and repetitive. And then my publisher went out of business, but that’s a whole other story.

And yes, I could try to write for a more serious, professional gaming publication. But that would require me to be more serious…and professional. Yeah, that ain’t happening. I love writing about gaming in a very personal way. So yeah. Never gonna make tons of money writing about gaming and I’m sure a hell not a good enough gamer to go pro. And I’m pretty sure no one out there wants to watch a forty-nine year old woman on Twitch. Not to mention I’d probably have to have a whole lot of liquid courage to stream anyway.

I’ve come full circle (see how I did that?), I need the EDJ to pay bills and save for my golden years, but the EDJ cuts into my gaming and writing time. What is a grown up gamer girl to do? Alas, I fear there’s no easy answer to that question.

I have gamer friends who schedule their vacation around a triple A release. Charles regularly stays up too late gaming (I do wish I had the capacity to do that, but Mama needs her eight hours of sleep). We do play just about every evening and weekend, but it’s never enough. Not to blog about gaming the way I once thought I could. I can’t imagine having to come up with videos to post on YouTube or sticking to a streaming schedule. Like I said, I know there are plenty of folks in the same boat.

Adulting is difficult, plain and simple. I suppose the only thing to do, to quote Dory, is “just keep swimming.” Or in my case, trying to balance work and family and dreams. I know how miserable I’d be if I threw in the towel and made compounding pharmacy my whole life. Heaven forbid. And who knows? Maybe my little blog will become something bigger. Can’t know till I try. I just wish I didn’t feel so exhausted all the time. Perhaps that’s my next mountain to tackle. Finding the energy to have it all…if you know how, won’t you tell me, please?

If I’ve entertained you or added some value to your day, that’s 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 https://ko-fi.com/grownupgamergirl 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!

Grandma Gamer Girl

Gaming has always been a big part of my family life. My brother and I spent countless hours playing Pong or Tanks on the Atari. My cousins co-op’ed on Super Mario Bros when I’d bring my NES on visits.

I carried on the tradition with my son. We burned through every child-appropriate title on the Wii and Xbox 360 we could get our hands on. Even now that’s he’s eighteen, every once in a while he’ll humor me and invite me to play Fortnite.

Charles and I game together darn near every day with his son crashing cars in the background on BMG Fun. Even my ex-husband (my son’s father) obsesses over his creations on Minecraft. As I said, we’re a gamer family and gaming might be the only thing we all have in common. That and we all love each other, of course.

On March 28, 2022, I became a grandma and I can’t wait to share the evolution of gaming with my granddaughter. Yep, I’m forty-nine, old enough to have a grandbaby and no spring chicken when it comes to video games. What’s that you say? I’m aging beautifully? Awww, thanks! But I see posts all the time on Twitter questioning when one is “too old for gaming”. I say the answer is never.

Yes, I’m aware anyone over the age of twenty-four who still plays video games is labeled an “elderly gamer,” but here’s what I think Millennials and Post-Millennials forget: GenX was the first generation to grow up with video games. Arcades, Atari, Nintendo, and Sega were the staples of our youth. So why would we put down the controller (or joystick for my retro-gaming friends) simply because we hit a certain stage in life?

In Number of Gamers Worldwide 2022/2023: Demographics, Statistics, and Predictions, Financesonline.com states that 38% of gamers are 18-34 years old, but what actually means is 62% of gamers are well into the “elderly” category. 26% of gamers are women 50 and older (close enough, I’ll be 50 next year, lol). So while I might not be the most catered to demographic in grandma gamer girls aren’t as rare as they once were.

Considering I’ve played almost 150 titles in a little over two years, and countless others over a lifetime of gaming, I imagine they’ll have to pry the controller from my arthritic fingers at the nursing home (sidenote: Elliott, if you put me in a home, I’m spending your inheritance…not kidding). By the time my granddaughter is old enough to play, perhaps controllers will be a thing of the past. Then again, maybe not since the age at which folks start gaming these days is getting younger and younger.

It’s amazing to me that what started out as a little pixelated ball bouncing across the screen has given birth to such wondrous journeys suck as The Witcher 3, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Horizon Zero Dawn. I can’t wait to see what the future of gaming holds (yes, I’m praying it’s the Holodeck from Star Trek The Next Generation). And while it’s true gaming can foster unhealthy behaviors and toxicity, it also unites us all in a way little else can. Over the past 49 years, I have not lived one life, but many lives as various characters in various worlds and I’ve loved every minute of it.

If I’ve entertained you or added some value to your day, that’s 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 https://ko-fi.com/grownupgamergirl 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!

Death, Depression, and Destiny

Photo credit: Destiny 2 promo release, Bungie

Fun blog title…I know. But let’s face it, I’m not the only one who’s lost enough people in past two years to fill a Titanic lifeboat. Oddly, most of them didn’t die of COVID-19. Many passed away because of old age and its related ailments and one beautiful child…well, because, to quote Depeche Mode’s Blasphemous Rumors, I think that God’s got a sick sense of humor. I suppose when I die, I do expect to find him laughing.

All this loss strips away the joy of what it means to be human and I gotta say, I didn’t handle it particularly well. I did what I always do. Instead of writing, talking to those around me who love me, or anything else remotely healthy, I shoved all the pain and anger and fear as far down as I could, went to work, came home, gamed, ate a little, and slept. I did what was expected of me and little else. I know, I know. I do know better than that. I mean, if you read through my other blog posts from 2020 and early 2021, you’ll see I’ve been here before. I don’t know why I can’t internalize the definition of insanity, which we all know is repeating the same action over and over again, expecting a different result.

And as part of my cycle of self-destruction, I threw myself into a game. No, not Red Dead Online. RDO been a dismal disappointment this winter which is a whole other heartbreak. That said, Charles and I did enjoy the holiday Calls to Arms. And I do kinda miss them now that their gone. Hanging Dog Ranch was a pain in the a$$. But I’m getting off topic.

Destiny 2 happened to be the game that got me through this latest bout of depression. I’d never played it before last December. IKR?! Sad, but true. I didn’t expect to like it. I’m not really a fan of MMOs. But this one has a bit of charm to it and it sates the latent fortune hunter with the abundance of loot. Glorious legendary and epic loot! Helmets, robes (my main character’s a warlock), swords, boots, class items, and guns….oh the sweet, violent, satisying, Fallen-mowing, Taken-dissolving, Cabal-exploding, Vex-felling (I promise that’s the last compound adjective) guns.

In addition to the gorgeous array of firearms, each victory makes your character a little bit stronger. There’s something that feeds the soul about going from level 1100 to 1330+. Perhaps it’s the sense of control and progress that’s often lacking from real life, but that can be found in this simple FPS MMO.

Granted, it does fall into the trap that most “free to download” games do. Yes, there’s a lot of content that is free, but the really good stuff is locked behind DLC that can hit the pocketbook pretty hard, especially when purchased all at once. Fortunately, my loving man got me the first two DLCs (Forsaken and Shadowkeep) as a Christmas present so once I’d burned through those, Beyond Light wasn’t too costly to purchase.

With the Witch Queen release upon us, if you’ve never played Destiny 2 and you need something to alleviate the stircraziness of winter or (as was the case with me) a bout of the blues, I say jump in and game on!

Eat Like a #Gamer

The other night, on a whim, I posted on social media about my healthy version of Seven Layer Dip and got a surprising response. All my gamer pals drooled over it. Now, you know me. Before I met Charles, my diet consisted of frozen burritos, sour gummy bears, energy shots, and Coca-Cola. I know, I know. I don’t know how I came up underweight at my last physical. Okay, I do know, I didn’t eat a whole lot of anything even when I ate crap, but the anorexic phase of my grief has lifted and I feel like unhinging my jaw like a python and eating large quantities of fat and sugar. Won’t stay at fighting weight for long like that. And let’s face it, it’s too damn hard to take off weight as a middle-aged gamer so I’d like to hang around a healthy 130 lbs. Not to mention my beloved tends toward healthier eating habits so time to make some changes.

But I love my gamer food. Nachos, taquitos, fried mozzarella, bags of chips, large bags of Skittles. Damn, I’m drooling already. Those foods definitely have to go onto the “sometimes” food list. What’s a hungry gamer girl to do?

Inspiration struck when I pulled out my old cooking diaries. Believe it or not, once upon a time I used to eat a very healthy diet and tried my hand at fitness-ing up some old favorites that are traditionally chock full of fat and carbs. I came across a recipe for Seven Layer Dip that won’t lead straight to a coronary. After sharing it with Charles and getting the thumbs up (he had three helpings :D), I thought I’d share it with my fellow gamers.

Layer 1: Lund’s whole grain Spanish Rice (follow recipe on box to prepare)

Layer 2: No fat or low fat refried beans

Layer 3: Morning Star Spicy Black Bean Burgers, crumbled and browned like ground beef (you can also sub some grilled chicken in case veggie burgers just ain’t your thang)

Layer 4: Taco sauce (any brand you prefer)

Layer 5: Half a cup of your shredded favorite cheese (just a sprinkling for flavor)

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 mins until everything is hot and melty

Layer 6: Pureed avocado or plain greek yogurt (you’re choice or both, make it an eight layer dip, it’s your dish, do it your way!)

Layer 7: Veggies (shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, minced onion, toss that salad on top)

Makes 6-8 servings

Serve with baked whole grain tortilla chips and voila! You’ve got the perfect food to shovel in your mouth during cut scenes or loading screens. Who says you can’t eat like a gamer and still eat healthy? Game on!

If I’ve entertained you or added some value to your day, that’s wonderful! If you’d like to support my blog you can do so at https://ko-fi.com/grownupgamergirl or paypal.me/cindyjackalopes. All donations to my online content are much appreciated, but definitely not required to keep coming back to visit!

Sleeping on Immortals

Photo credit: Ubisoft Game Cover Art

One of the presents I got for my birthday was a PS gift card and it took me a minute to figure out what to spend it on. “Why?” you ask. “Do you not have a backlog?” Oh but I do. See, that’s part of the problem. There are lots of games both newer and retro that sound good, but not really great. Yes, I learned my lesson with Days Gone and Biomutant that reviews can’t predict what I’ll really get into. Just because other gamers dislike something doesn’t always mean I won’t enjoy it.

There’s a game that’s been on my “to buy” list for a while and there are lots of reasons it’s languished there. One, since it was released last year, the price on it is still pretty hefty. There are few games I’ll pay full price for, it’s got to be a game that starts me salivating every time I think about it. Immortals Fenyx Rising just wasn’t a drool-worthy title. It’s also Ubisoft…and no, I’m not Ubisoft bashing, but they can be a little hit or miss so I wasn’t gonna pay $60 to find out if they got this one right.

Aside from the price, there were also a lot of other games that I had already purchased that needed playing and some new releases that took precedence, such as Mass Effect: Legendary Edition. So yeah, Immortals just kept being pushed down the list until my birthday came. Eight months after the game’s release, a PS gift card and a sale price aligned: it was time to dive into Fenyx Rising. And my patience did pay off because I got the gold edition for only $40, which leaves me with $10 for RDO or ESO micro-transactions. Yesssss!

Given the reviews which were all over the place and the general lack of discussion about the game in the gamer community, I really didn’t expect much. I was pleasantly surprised when the opening cut scene made me laugh. As I explored further, I discovered the title is a charming good time that can only be described as AC: Odyssey (I mean why would Ubisoft reinvent the wheel?) meets Disney’s Hercules meets Tomb Raider. It just so happens I love all three of those works of art, so f@#k yeah, the game is fun.

“But Cindy,” you say, “IGN only gave the game a 7/10! How can it be fun?” Well, I had just such a discussion with many of my friends on Twitter. As they pointed out, some gamers consider anything less than an eight unplayable. He doesn’t happen to be of that opinion and neither am I. Also, this isn’t the first time I’ve disagreed with reviewers on a game score. No, Immortals isn’t GOTY material, but I don’t think it’s quite a seven either. Maybe a 7.5 or 7.75…7.6492? Whatever, point being, regardless of the game’s reviews, it is just plain fun.

Another friend on Twitter pointed out that Immortals released hot on the heels of Assasin’s Creed Valhalla and Watch Dogs Legion so it might have been overshadowed by those heavy hitters. Whatever the case, Immortals is a good bit of fun. If you’ve been sleeping on it like I was, seriously, give it a try. Will it change your life? No…no it won’t. Will it it amuse you during a time of financial uncertainty during this ever evolving pandemic. Yes, it most likely will. I suppose that’s my real point. There’s too little joy in the world today to overlook a diamond in the rough that will make you laugh, challenge you and give you the perfect excuse to ignore the outside world.

If I’ve entertained you or added some value to your day, that’s wonderful! If you’d like to support my blog you can do so at https://ko-fi.com/grownupgamergirl or paypal.me/cindyjackalopes. All donations to my online content are much appreciated, but definitely not required to keep coming back to visit!

When a Gamer Girl Takes a Break

Photo by JESHOOTS.com on Pexels.com

Yes, it’s September. And yes, as I predicted, the latest upheaval (albeit a delightful one) gave me pause. So, I did just that. I pressed pause and took a second to re-evaluate my goals and what exactly I hope to accomplish with this blog. For over a year, it has served as my therapy session and an outlet for the madness with which my life had been teeming. Now, though, everything is settling down, mellowing into the warm glow of happiness. I met my dream man. My son is venturing into adulthood with his first few wobbly steps. I have not one, but two places I call home. Everything has gotten comfortable. Waaaaay too comfortable.

This is supposed to be my year to challenge myself, step outside my comfort zone, and yes, I’ve done that on many fronts. As my new normal gets easier to manage, however, it’s tempting to let my writing and gaming ambitions slide. But we cannot have that so I’ve decided to take things up a notch. I created an Anchor account to make my blog posts into podcasts as well. I’ve also created a more regular posting schedule which hence forth shall be Tuesdays and Fridays. Plus, though not exactly gaming related (though gaming features in it) I’ve started writing a new novel. IKR? Inspiration abounds and I’m ready to strike while the iron is hot.

That being said, while I took a teensy break from blogging and writing, I did not take a break from gaming. I’ve been on Elder Scrolls Online and Red Dead Online grinding away. I beat Immortals Fenyx Rising. Not to mention a second playthrough of God of War. All good things and oodles to write about. Next on my list of games to tackle, I’m thinking Lost in Random and Knights of Amalur: Rereckoning (once my beloved is done whooping a$$ on it). Break time is over. It’s time to get serious about playing!

Along the lines of getting serious, I started a Ko-Fi account, just in case you’d like to donate to the cause of keeping a grown-up gamer girl in games to play. No pressure, I love all my readers and am grateful you’ve visited my blog in the first place :D. All the clicks, likes, follows, and subscribes help more than you know. However, if you do feel as though you’d like to help fund my dream, you can donate at https://ko-fi.com/grownupgamergirl or via Paypal – paypal.me/cindyjackalopes . But seriously, I’m thankful for each and every visitor I get and each and every person who supports my journey in their own way. Cheers! And until Friday, game on, my friends!

It’s My Birthday and I’ll Shoot NPCs in the Face if I Want to: RDO Call to Arms

Ammo at critical levels, minty and thyme big game meat damn near gone, buffs applied every couple minutes, enemies surrounding the roof where I’ve posted up, I’m in deep shit now. And I love it.

I’ve been leveled up in Red Dead Online for a minute. All the best ammo and weapons. Full health, stamina, and dead eye stats. Ability cards set so I’m damn hard to kill. Players that f@#k with me get they head blown off, several times till they choose to parley or leave the lobby. Even the new Blood Money Crimes posed little challenge. What’s a bored gamer girl to do with all this gear and gold buffs? Well, Rockstar, you done got it right for once (at least in RDO, I know GTA Online is a pampered, spoiled little game)

I woke a little late Tuesday morning and Charles was already on his PS4 as I padded out of the bedroom, yawning and stretching. I asked what he was up to. He said A New Source of Employment missions. Meh, I curled my lip. Wasn’t overly impressed with those re-packaged stranger missions. Then he said the magic words: “And these Call to Arms missions are tough.”

Whaaaaa? What’s that now? Something in the game I’ve never heard of. Wait! It’s update day…could it be? My breath caught in my throat. New content? It’s f@#king Christmas morning! Now, hold on now, Cindy. Don’t get too excited. Remember the first Quick Draw Pass. yawn-a-palooza for the most part. But as soon as Charles loaded into MacFarlane Ranch and wave after wave of pissed off NPC kept trying to murder him I got that sweet shot of adrenaline. Oh yessssss. Let’s do this.

Tried it solo at first, thinking I’d face-tank my way through it like I do every other mission in RDO. Then, it happened. I got my a$$ handed to me. Oh yes! Please hand me my own a$$. Make me try, make me think, make me bring my A game cuz I been coasting far too long. One lost day and night later, we finally defeated one of these beast missions. Granted I’ve been trying to solo or duo it with Charles. Nope, can’t do it yet. We had a very helpful high level and the three of us finally got the damn thing done.

The other cool thing about these missions is that they take place in different locations, each posing a different strategic and tactical challenge. Valentine requires more of a rooftop, pick ’em off approach, Fort Mercer you gotta have a player posted at every corner. MacFarlane Ranch takes a whole lot of running and gunning. Strawberry and Blackwater need a balanced plan of attack with their many avenues of entrance and egress.

Properly armed for bear and loaded with recovery items, waves 1-5, possibly even 6 don’t pose too much challenge and are totally possible to solo for a higher level player. It’s just a lot of killing hordes of enemies and you’ve got your NPC allies to back you up. But as they get picked off in the battle and the enemy brings in heavy artillery (Maxim guns and/or cannons), not to mention those hard-to-kill jerks with the machetes, things get a lot hairier. I’ve made it half way through wave 8 completely solo (in the video above I did clear wave 8 mostly alone, but my teammates were there for the other waves). I am bound and determined to solo one of these beasts before I officially consider myself satisfied. Yes, I’m a masochist. I admit this freely.

I don’t know that I’d recommend this update for lower levels (anyone under level 75) because it might prove overwhelming. However, if you’ve got a couple high level friends or are just a sucker for pain like me, why the f@#k not? Jump on in. It’s great practice for flickshots and running and gunning. And even if you fail, you still get a ton of gold, RDO$ and XP. When we first started these missions I was level 206, in two days time, I’m level 213 which is unheard of progress if you grind the old-fashioned way on this game.

Though I often give Rockstar a lot of crap for treating Red Dead like the red-headed stepchild of their online endeavors, I am woman enough to admit that this time, they done good. I hope to see more cool, challenging updates like this one. It’s so freaking awesome to have to focus and sweat and cuss my way through a mission. Explosive ammo isn’t just for trolls anymore! Yay! Yes, I’ve found a whole new method of anger management.

Don’t get me wrong, based on my last post, while I am happy, happier than I’ve been in decades, I still got lots of frustrations to take out on NPCs (cuz I don’t mess with other players unless they mess with me and I try my best never to take my bad mood out on those I love). But yeah I still got stuff. Little things like the IRS is taking its sweet time “reviewing” my tax return, cuz, you know, they owe me a lot of money. And big things, like it’s my birthday tomorrow and both my parents are dead. It’s not the first year without them, but things were so fresh and raw last year that I didn’t celebrate, I didn’t even think about the fact that it was my birthday. I just soldiered on with probate headaches and ignored the day. In fact, I think it was about that time last year I hit level 100 on RDO. Coincidence? I think not.

But this year my baby daddy (not the guy who tried to kill me, that’s a different ex) and my son want to throw me a party. Charles and I are headed back to WV with his son for the festivities. While having my blended family together for the first time warms my heart, that same heart breaks a little for the people who will be missing. I mean, my parents were the reason for the day after all. Most folks might sit and have a good cry about that, and I might, but really, I prefer to shoot machete wielding a$$holes in the face. Yep, that’s what works for me. Get the bad stuff out and game on.

Until next time, my friends! You know where I’ll be, battling it out in the Old West till I can’t see straight.

When a Grown-up Gamer Girl Falls in Love

Okay, so this whole post might sound a little nuts, but bear with me. It’s kind of about gaming. At least it’s gaming adjacent.

I’m freaking out ever so slightly because…well, I’ve got this feeling I’m not all that familiar with. The sun seems to shine brighter. The touch of a cool breeze feels softer. Birdsong at 6am after I’ve been grinding all night and I’m trying to freakin’ sleep…well, it still annoys me but not quite as much as it used to. I’ve been productive, creative, dancing around the house and singing from time to time. Holy $h!t, I might actually be happy. This is not good.

“Wait, Cindy,” you say. “How is being happy NOT a good thing?” Well, I’m glad you asked. I started this blog and gaming like there’s no tomorrow because I was miserable. Misery and I had become bosom buddies. From about 2017 to early 2021, well, the hits just kept coming. My mother went through a protracted battle with cancer and dementia, I ended a toxic relationship that had lasted way too f@#king long. I then fell into another less than healthy relationship. And then both my parents passed away within two months of each other. Not to mention the fallout out from COVID. That one messed all of us up. I know, I know.

Yeahhhh…Life had knocked me the f@#k out. I still don’t know how I scraped myself off the floor. But I did. And I swore the rest of 2021 was gonna be all about my dreams, my gaming, my writing. And yes, I also swore off men and dating. LMFAO, yep, f@#k you too, Universe. Sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Here’s what worries me about my current state of being: If I’m happy, will I still feel like writing? If I’m happy, will I still want to gorge on games? I simply don’t know because I’ve been unhappy for so long it took me a hot minute to realize just what the f@#k was going on as the depression lifted. Plus, it’s a happiness I don’t trust. I’ll get more into that in a second.

In many of my posts, I’ve explored the use of games as an emotional outlet. And usually those emotions are negative ones because, really, do we ever feel the need to let out the happy? No, we want to cling to that $h!t like a spider monkey. So what if this sudden ray of sunshine destroys a perfectly good gaming addiction? What will I write about then?

And let’s examine the source of this oxytocin and dopamine soup flooding my neuroreceptors. I’ve met someone whose smile sets my heart soaring. Someone whose kindness and patience bewilders me. Someone who makes me feel like a teenager again. Someone I think I could spend the rest of my life with. Yep…it’s that bad. I’ve fallen in love. F@#k me.

Now you can see why I don’t trust the happiness to last. It’s predicated on trusting another person with my emotions, with my fragile little heart. Okay, without going into TMI territory, the last man I felt this way about almost killed me. That’s not a metaphor or an exaggeration. In a drunken, drugged-out rage, he literally tried to choke me to death. And this was after being together for almost a decade and a half. Fortunately, I do not go gentle into that good night, thank you very much.

However, you can see why I trust games far more than I trust actual humans. While video games often try to kill my character, I can always respawn, at least in newer ones anyway. Video games don’t break your heart. Okay, they do sometimes, I’m lookin’ at you Cyberpunk 2077. But that kind of heartbreak doesn’t make you want to crawl into bed with a fifth of vodka and snot cry until you pass out or choke on your own vomit, indifferent as to which happens. Sorry, that got dark.

If anything, gaming has taught me that it’s the AAA titles you should trust the least. The games with the biggest hype rarely live up to it. And believe me, this guy is the AAA title of men. Yes, he’s that wonderful…or at least the gameplay teaser made him seem that way. If I’m wrong, though, consequences will be far worse than simply wanting to bang my head against the wall as I discover his glitches and bugs. But if I’m right, he’ll give me a lifetime of fulfillment, not just 70+ hours. So there’s that.

I’m more terrified and frustrated than I was fighting that giant spore-ridden uber-bloater at ground zero in The Last of Us 2. All right, all right, I’ll stop with the gaming metaphors. Falling in love again is frightening AF. But it’s also liberating. I’ve finally broken free of the tower I’d sealed myself inside. I’m connecting with other people, not just him. I’m getting $h!t done. I look forward to getting up in the morning (or afternoon as the case may be). I feel more like myself than I have in decades. Big risk, big reward.

None of us has the gift of foresight. If I’m ever going to live…truly live life again, I will have to accept that I may get hurt again. When I met the man of my dreams I was broken and hiding from the world. He listened without prejudice, helped me to my feet, dried my tears, gave me a kiss on the cheek and pat on the ass and said, “Go get ’em, tiger.” And he said this knowing I might not return to him once I rejoined the living. In fact, the fear and panic has gotten the better of me at least a half-dozen times and I’ve bolted like skittish filly. Good thing he’s a bonafide Kansas cowboy…or maybe that should be The Gamer Girl Whisperer. My every attempt to self-sabotage has been met with a gentle smile, an outstretched hand, and the words, “Talk to me, baby girl. Tell me what you’re afraid of.”

If that’s not a person worth taking an Assassin’s Creed sized leap of faith for then I don’t know who is. So I decided go big or go home. Thus the trip to Kansas. I have to find out if this thing is real or if it’s just two very talented writers scripting a love story. Oh, I forgot to mention that, my guy is a writer, too. IMO, a brilliant one, it’s actually the first thing that attracted me. His name is Charles Goetzinger, he’s a big, tough cowboy with a heart of gold and way with words that gets me every time. But the best thing about him is how he loves me for me. That is indeed a legendary find.

While I do worry how this rekindled lust for life will inform my blog and writing going forward, he hasn’t asked me to change a single thing about myself, not even the massive amount of my day I spend glued to my gaming monitor. In fact, he even joins me and plays my favorite games with me cuz he’s a gamer, too. IKR?! I’m telling you, I hit the freaking lottery. When a grown-up gamer girl falls in love with a gunfighting cowboy, it can be f@#king terrifying, but it also can be pretty f@#king wonderful, too.

When a Grown Up Gamer Girl Plays Fortnite…Wait, WTF?

Video credit: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/1109271086

Fortnite, Cindy? Really? Okay, hold on, now let me explain…As those of you who read my blog posts and follow me on social media know, I’m a self-professed introvert and super shy so I always thought MMOs and especially streaming on Twitch was a total no go for me. It’s one of the reasons I write. Safe distance between me and my audience. Don’t get me wrong, I love y’all, just talkin’ to you terrifies me. That’s on me, not y’all, and I’m working on it!

But the cool thing about introverts is that they can be social, when they are around people they are comfortable with, especially a more socially-oriented person who will take the lead. I had just such an experience with my friend and fellow gaming blogger, Ben Magnet.

Ben writes for Old School Gamer Magazine, is a co-host for Fake Nerd Podcast, and hosts his own podcast called Basement Arcade: Pause Menu. He also hosts a Twitch channel. Oh, and he’s working on a kick a$$ manuscript about the history of video games. IKR? Ben is one ambitious and talented dude.

We met on Twitter through the vast network of gamers and writers. We started talking shop and he was kind enough to invite me on to the Basement Arcade: Pause Menu (episode in production, don’t worry I’ll post the link everywhere when it’s ready!).

At first, I was terrified to do the podcast for the aforementioned reasons and I’m always afraid I’m not going to be interesting to talk to IRL. Again, hidden behind the written word, I have time to craft what I’m going to say. Make it exactly right. Or at least what feels right to me, but in person, who the f@#k knows what nonsense is going to fly out of my mouth? I sure don’t. But this is my year to try new things and, you know, re-join the living. So I put my grown up gamer girl pants on, drank a few hard seltzers (don’t knock the dutch courage!), and set an appointment to do the damn thang. Once I started talking with Ben, who has this very professional demeanor and broadcaster-worthy voice mixed with just the right amount of humor, I knew I was going to be okay.

During said interview we discovered that we both had an initial aversion to Fortnite, one he’d gotten over, but I hadn’t. What can I say…old dog, new tricks, and all that. The way Ben had overcome the aversion was to play with an experienced group of friends who guided him to the path of enjoyment. He posited he could do the same for me.

Okay, so when he first threw that theory out there, I approached it as I do most unfamiliar experiences these days: with a dollop of “f@#k it, why not?” tempered with a healthy dash of cynicism. Then, Ben upped the ante and asked if he could stream our Fortnite sesh on Twitch. *Deep breath, Cindy* Sure, f@#k it, why not?

At first, there were a few technical difficulties on my part. First and foremost I don’t think I have the audio set up on my PS4 to record when streaming. My bad, I mean, I am new to this soooo, yeah, lol. I also assumed we were going to load into the new co-op PVE portion, cuz there was no way we were gonna brave the Battle Royale. Wait…what’s that you say, Ben? Oh silly me! Of course we are jumping into the 100 PVP arena on my first go. Umm…okay…surrrre, f@#k it…why not? Lead on, Mr. Magnet!

On our first round we *might* have washed out at 46th, I believe there were wolves with alien parasites involved. I’m not 100% sure, I was still pretty confused at that point and nervous that we were broadcasting. We shook it off and entered another match.

Let me just throw this out there, if you are Fortnite-curious, but too afraid to venture into the arena, there is no better tour guide than Ben Magnet! He broke down each facet of a surprisingly complex game into bite-sized tutorials. There was the weapons grading system, the usual places you can find loot and chests, how to stay away from the freaking purple storm cloud, how to maximize your buffs and most importantly, what victory dance to do should we win. There can only be one and that dance is Gangnam Style. I mean, it’s kinda obvious if you think about it.

With my newfound knowledge of the game something magical happened that only other gamers can understand: I started having fun and getting invested in the gameplay and the world. Y’all know what I’m talking about. Things start clicking and you lose track of time and then suddenly it’s morning and your family is looking at you like, “Seriously, you haven’t slept?” Okay, we didn’t stay on Fortnite that long, but we did get into the “gamer zone” and a few hours simply evaporated.

Not only did the time fly but (and I’m not one of those victory oriented people, I’m totally not) buuuuuut we won seven Battle Royale victories in a row. Yeah, I know?! That $h!t never happens to me. Apparently it was like that for Ben the first time he played with his friends so I think he’s a little lucky and pretty darn skilled.

Not gonna lie, the first few victories, I just hide behind Ben and made it my goal not to be a liability, lol. I did get downed a couple times toward the middle, but my Fortnite partner had my back. But as I got more comfortable, I’m proud to say, I started getting kills of my own. In the last round, I might’ve even kicked a little a$$ when Ben got downed and there were two players on us. I dispatched them, got a medkit and revived my partner, which felt pretty freaking cool. Ben got the last kill that led to our seventh victory and then it was time for Gangnam Style on their graves! Oh yes it was! Okay, Ben did the dancing and I stood there Gangnam-ing internally because I don’t have that emote, but guess what I’m getting ASAP? Yes, yes I am.

So what did I learned from this experience? Even an old dog can learn new tricks. Sometimes it takes a couple tries to get into a game. Gaming with new friends doesn’t have to be scary. And when you are victorious, you better pick the right victory dance! Take it away PSY…

Image credit: Tenor

No RAgrets…yes, I know that’s spelled wrong.

In my feelings this morning. Big trip. Big risk, big reward. Charles knows what I’m talking about. Heyyy, babyyy. Sorry…I’ll do my best to focus.

Engaging with other content creators on Twitter and YouTube is par for the course, and it can feel like shouting into the void. But I’m here to tell you, it’s not like that. You have something to say and your audience is out there.

Let’s look at my vision. I’m a middle-aged woman who loves gaming, might have a mixed past (so totally do!) and who leaks her feelings on a blog. Who the f@#k wants to read that?! Well, it turns out…a lot of people do. My blog numbers grow every single day and for that…well, I have no words. And that’s saying a lot cuz supposedly I’m a wordsmith…so you know…yeah…totally😏

The voices in my head love to tell me no one cares what I have to say. I know a lot of you feel the same way. (Poet and don’t know it moment…yassss 🀘). But the thing is, even identical twins have different fingerprints. No one else can press their thumb into the clay and leave the same imprint. So leave your mark. Do the damn thing. F@king fight back against the doubt, the fear, the insecurity.

I have as of late and I can say I have no ragrets… (really not even one letter?) Nope. Okay, okay it’s no regrets. My point: You’re gonna fuck up and have ragrets but you’ll never REgret being true to yourself.

So after a self-proclaimed dating/man fast I, of course, met the man of my dreams like a month later. Of course, Universe. Thanks for that πŸ˜‰ And what makes it so cool is that he’s perfectly fine with Cindy Unfiltered. In fact, he’s more in love with the pedal to the metal version of me. Makes me stop and think, WTF have I been doing all these years?

Well, I know what I’ve been doing. As my banner states, I’ve been trying to make everyone else happy, at the expense of my own happiness. Funny thing is, no one was happy with that situation. Hashtag irony. Yeah….

But the gamers, artists, and musicians I most admire are unapologetically themselves. So that’s who I have to be. And guess what…it’s who you have to be, too. Cuz if you ain’t yourself, then who the hell are you? No RAgrets…just sayin’. Game on, my friends 😊🀘.