Back with My X

Dear PlayStation Four,

The past few years have been amazing and I’ve loved every moment we’ve shared together. You rekindled my love of gaming, got me through many, many hard times, and inspired me to start writing about our adventures together. Despite all we’ve shared, there’s an impediment to real growth our relationship.

I’ve tried being patient. I’ve waited and waited for the PS5 to be available at regular retailers. It’s been over a two years and I can’t wait any longer. it’s time for me to go back to my XBox. And yes, before you even ask, it’s a series S. I know it’s younger than you, my darling PS4. And yes, I won’t sugarcoat it, the improved graphics and load time have a lot to do with my decision. Not to mention that soon, gaming companies are going to stop making new games that are compatible with the old gen. I never meant to hurt you, but I have to move on.

I hope I can come visit from time to time. I hope we can still be friends. I will miss you. With all my love, Cindy

So yeah, I finally pulled the trigger on a next gen console. I waited and waited for a PS5 to be available through regular means. Not judging anyone else, but personally I refuse to reward scalpers by making a purchase from them. Plus the fact that Sony seemed to have no reasonable resolution for the bot-scalper issue offended me as a gamer.

Players should be Sony’s target demographic; we’re the consumers of their product. But they seemed to take the attitude that sales were sales whereas Microsoft addressed the supply chain issues fairly quickly. A year ago, while I was still waiting on a PS5, I purchased an XBox Series S for my son’s birthday on Amazon from Amazon at a regular price. A year later, I bought my XBox Series S on Amazon from Amazon at a regular price. I actually bought two, one for me and one for my boo. Again, that’s something I couldn’t do, even if my opportunity finally came up Sony’s wait-list. And don’t get me started on the wait-list. I was at work when my thirty minute window came up, I missed the email so, yeah. Yeahhhhhh. And yes, the PS5 is listed as “available” on Amazon now. Available by invitation. F@#k you, Sony.

Honestly, I don’t really care which console I play. I don’t buy in to the console war mentality. And really I could game on a PC and forgo the system altogether. But I cut my gamer girl teeth on Atari and Nintendo so I just plain prefer playing on a console.

I wanted to wait for a PS5 because despite the fact that I had an XBox 360 and XBox One, I switched to the PS4 right about the time I found myself with almost two years of nothing to do every day but play. It was the last gift my father gave me before he passed away and in those two plus years I played over 100 titles so switching back to XBox meant re-purchasing my favorite story games and abandoning all my progress on non-crossplatform online games, such as RDO and ESO.

Actually the fact that Rockstar has all but abandoned RDO had a lot to do with me letting go of my hopes that one day Sony would straighten out the PS5 distribution problem. As much as I have a deep sentimental attachment to RDO, there’s nothing to do on the game anymore except grind, rinse and repeat and I’m at a ridiculous level (like 260 something) so without new career paths or new features, it’s just grinding for the sake of grinding. Meh. Not interested. But I digress. Sort of.

As silly as it sounds, I really did agonize over the decision as to whether to go back to XBox. There’s just something sexy about the PS5, but at this point I feel like that guy at the bar who’s been watching a pretty girl dance, chatting her up, buying her drinks all night and then she goes home with another man. Weird metaphor, but I stand by it. Sony teased me with something I just couldn’t get my hands on unless I was willing to support a$$hole scalpers. Like I said, not gonna do it.

But what about the superior graphics and super fast load time, you ask? As much as I agree with the staunch PlayStation lovers as to the superior visuals on a PS5, I don’t have a fancy enough TV to notice the difference. And let’s face it, I’m pushing 50. My eyesight started diminishing ten years ago. Let’s be honest even if I had a UHD 4K HDR monitor, I doubt I have the physical ability to note the super crisp display anyway 😀 As for the load time, with age also comes patience and the XBox Series S still loads faster than the PS4 so it’s still an upgrade. Not to mention the price point. I got two new Xboxes for about the same price as one PS5 at MRSP.

The bottom line is I will always have a soft spot in my heart for my PS4. It got me through a terrible time in life, but life moves on. I wanted a next gen console and the XBox Series S is what I could get my hands on. For a gaming addict like me, that was the deciding factor. Mama needs her fix 😄

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 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

Who Doesn’t Love a Pirate

Video credit: Assassin’s Creed Black Flag gameplay on PS4

Upon the recommendation of my cowboy and other gamer friends, I finally gave in and purchased Assassin’s Creed Black Flag. Whaaaaa? No, I’ve never played it. I know, I know, but let me explain why.

The other AC games that include naval battles, like Origins and Odyssey, the ship stuff was my least favorite part of the gameplay. It could be just me and my barely average gaming skills, but the aiming and the bracing and the firing, it all felt cumbersome. Definitely not as satisfying as the combat: timing that perfect block to stagger your elite opponent or Sparta kicking a mercenary off a cliff.

And I have gone through the entire AC backlog in the last eighteen months, but when it came time to play Black Flag, I just swooped around it and went for Rogue. Hey, it’s my gamer journey and I’ll skip titles if I want to. I don’t like AC ship battles…or at least I didn’t think I did. I’m woman enough to admit when I am…umm…less than correct. Yeah, let’s go with that.

Two days ago, I gave into peer pressure and bought the damn game. Of course, I love it. The climbing mechanics remind me of the Ezio titles (loves me some Ezio), but the naval battles, far superior to Odyssey. This leaves me scratching my head. Why change the mechanics for later titles? It’s the same question I had for Ubisoft when they scaled back the fighting mechanics from the super cool Odyssey style to the simplified Valhalla style. Why, Ubisoft…whyyyyyyy??? Sorry…I need a moment…

Okay, I’m back. Turns out, Black Flag is so much more than just a bunch of ships firing on each other. It’s a deep dive into pirate life. And c’mon, who doesn’t love pirates? Look at the success of The Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise (loves me some Captain Jack Sparrow). There’s The Treasure Island Hotel and Casino in Vegas. And of course there’s the beloved literary classic from which the hotel takes its name. Hell, my most popular erotic romance series featured a cowboy pirate (hmmm…reminds me of someone else I love. Heyyy, Charles 😏).

So what is it about pirates that are so freaking intoxicating. Well, first of all, the wardrobe is *fabulous*. Scarves, earrings, beads, gold chains, over-the-knee boots, flowing lace up blouses. Pirate fashion is fierce. Then, of course, there’s the swashbuckling swordplay. Who doesn’t feel like a bada$$ duel-wielding Persian scimitars or British cutlasses? Yes, there’s something intoxicating about the trappings of a privateer, but I think it’s something more.

For me, it’s the freedom. Wind in your hair, salt spray from the open ocean, no rules but the ones you make and break for yourself. As I rediscover the liberty to be 100% Cindy, no apologies and no diluting my 80 proof personality, I get it. I spent too many years either denying her existence or shying away from adventure because there *might* be consequences.

Yes, we all have responsibilities and adult things we must do. Like doing the dishes and working an evil day job to pay the bills and making sacrifices for those who depend on us. But part of the human spirit yearns to be free. Rebellion is a natural reaction to bonds that hold us too tightly. It’s easy to dream about a life less ordinary and less restrictive and therefore idealize it. Nothing wrong with that as long as you keep in mind, it is indeed a just a dream.

Edward Kenway’s adventures throughout the game are full of daring, liberty, and bad ideas that turn into good stories. We’ve all had those nights 😉 And did I mention his fabulous wardrobe? I think I did. It’s easy to sink into your gamer chair and imagination for a few (or several) hours that you are not bound by the rules of society.

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, games give us the opportunity to live out our fantasies in a safe and controlled way. As the historical founder of the Hashshashin, Hassan-i Sabbah, is credited with saying, “Nothing is true, everything is permitted.” What that means is, once in a while, it’s oh so healthy to embrace your inner Edward Kenway and find the spot on the map of your soul that reads: here, there be pirates.

Rockstar, Where’s My F@#king Fast Travel?

Image credit: Red Dead Online gameplay “If I stare hard enough, maybe I can fast travel”

Dear Rockstar,

Why do you continue to break my heart? Actually, it’s my fault because I continue to let you do it. -Sincerely, Cindy.

As soon as weird sh!t started happening in free roam on Red Dead Online, like wave after wave of wolves spawning in places they don’t usually spawn, I knew the update was imminent. it’s happened that way before and I was so excited. There’s been so much speculation about what the Summer update would include.

So, the Blood Money update. Where to f@king start? Let’s start with the positive. The contracts and emerald heist were a great deal of fun. The general missions to earn the newest currency, capitale, weren’t all that different from usual stranger missions, but you know, RDO is like pizza. When it’s good, it’s great, and when it’s bad, it’s still pretty damn good. They also seem to have fixed the legendary animal spawns in free roam. I came across five just getting from place to place.

Which brings me to my biggest gripe. As I’ve written about before, I’m a spoiled little outlaw. I’ve got the best of the best gear and cosmetics. I love the damn game even when it doesn’t seem to love me. Like right now. I’m loading in and I’m stuck at 90%. For like fifteen minutes. Sigh.

I’ve done every update to completion and beyond. The biggest reward, for me, from the Naturalist DLC was the wilderness camp from which you could fast travel. I abused the hell out of that perk. So last night, as I worked my way through the Blood Money missions, I figured it didn’t matter that Lemoyne is hell and gone from my camp and moonshine shack because I could just drop my wilderness camp and fast travel. Ummm…nope.

To my surprise and dismay, that feature is GONE. I’m hoping it wasn’t intentional and a later patch will fix it (and of course break something else). And don’t get me wrong. I’m not dogging on the devs. I’m sure coding a video game is the same type of sweat shop work situation we all seem to deal with these days. Longer hours, higher metrics goals, less pay and less benefits.

There was some other wonky stuff, such as every flavor of moonshine listing as selling for $75 even if it’s the correct buyer. You do however get the appropriate amount of pay at the end of the mission so it’s more of a typo than a bug.

Also, the surroundings were slow to load in at times. And my horse seemed oddly fragile. Never used so much horse reviver in my entire RDO experience. But all these things I can deal with. Why…oh why, did my fast travel have to disappear? Yes, you can still ride to a FT post, but sometimes those are quite far away. My right thumb is killing me today, lol.

Did I love the update, no. Did I hate it? Nope, wouldn’t say that. I just wonder when Rockstar is going to stop treating Red Dead Online like the red-headed stepchild and let it blossom into its own. Yes, GTAO is their main money maker, but RDO has a solid fanbase. Just once, it’d be nice to be treated like we’re important to the company.

The ESO Connection

Image credit: Elder Scrolls Online gameplay

Okay, how the f@#k have I not played this game until now? Actually, I do know why. MMORPGs aren’t my jam. Or at least I thought they weren’t.

When I started gaming as a kid, it was a solo endeavor unless P2 sat in the same room with you and you had another controller. Positively primitive, I know. That being said, I do love Elder Scrolls Online. Why, you ask? Let me tell ya.

About a year ago, I discovered Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. It was one of those games that sort of takes over your life but you don’t mind because the amount of content and solid writing and adrenaline rush makes it worth neglecting your hygiene and loved ones for a couple weeks.

Knowing this, my gamer guy suggested ESO a couple months ago, but like I said I don’t f@#ks with MMORPGs (and no, RDO is not an MMORPG, don’t get me started). But I’m on this journey to explore all the gaming I missed while being a responsible adult so finally, I downloaded it. Bam! It was love at first button click.

I’m like a kid in a freaking candy store. There’s so much content, it’s almost overwhelming. All the loot. All the ways to customize your character’s build. Not to mention the map is massive and let’s face it, size does matter. The costume options are a little hit or miss, but all in all, I think I might have a new gaming love of my life. I can imagine losing months, possibly years, of my life to ESO. But hey, I have no life, so there’s that.

Currently, I’m playing as a nightblade class dark elf, but I can’t wait to explore all the other races and classes. I’m also looking forward to exploring the PVP options. Again, not my wheelhouse because I usually play story games or PVE online. But I will improvise, adapt, overcome. Of this I have no doubt.

What I find most fascinating is the sense of community. The way I grew up playing and how I first approached gaming once I got back into it was like that George Thorogood song, “I Drink Alone,” except I game alone. Well, sometimes I drink alone, but that’s a whole other story.

In a previous post I wrote about Jane McGonigal’s theory on gamer super powers, one of which was weaving a social fabric. MMOs foster a sense of camaraderie (is that really how that word is spelled? Sorry, I’ll focus). I don’t think I’m brave enough to jump into a guild with random people. But I can say gaming in a small group sponsored by gamer guy has opened my eyes to a whole new world.

If I’m honest, I’m a lot less lonely, even though we don’t game in the same room. I’ve been a bit isolated since, you know, my life started imploding about three years ago. Add my severe introversion to the loss of everything I once knew, I’m in need of a little connection. Humans are social creatures after all. Maybe I’ve found a good place to start, The ESO Connection.

White-Knighting…Let’s Talk about It

Image credit: eskipaper.com

There’s nothing more irritating for a gamer girl than a male player who assumes she cannot take care of herself in-game simply because she’s female. But is that really what white-knighting is? I’m not so sure.


Don’t get me wrong. Of course sexism exists in the world of gaming, just as it exists in every facet of daily life. You see it on YouTube all the time. Spawntaneous has made a career out of showcasing how condescending some gamer boys can be. This does not mean every guy who plays video games is a sexist pig, nor does it mean that every time a male player rushes to help a female player that it comes from a place of feeling superior simply due to outward facing genitalia.


Okay, first, let’s talk about what “white-knighting” means. The phrase applies when a male player will jump in to aid or verbally defend a female player, particularly one he doesn’t know (though not always), as though he has shown up to save her like a white knight on his noble steed, regardless of whether she asked for help. Hence the term: “white-knighting”.


So, is it wrong for a man to stand up for a women in a case where she’s in no physical danger? Yes and no. Yes, because it assumes that she needs help which could be perceived as he thinks she’s helpless. But no, because trying to lend a hand is generally a kind thing to do.


Okay, so now that we know what it is and why it may or may not offend someone, let’s look at why it happens. Does it mean the guy’s a condescending jerk? I’m sure in some instances that’s true, but I doubt that’s the only explanation. Not to mention that to assume a man helping out a woman in-game is always white-knighting is sexist in the other direction. Could be it’s just one gamer jumping in to play with another gamer, no gender politics involved.


But when something that looks like white-knighting does occur, I think there are a few non-offensive reasons it happens. It could be that due to the overwhelming majority of gamers still being male, Mr. White Knight would like to play with a female. He’s tired of the sausage fest that is his Saturday Night gaming group and he just wants to hang out with a member of the opposite sex for a little while.


In the case of a man defending a female player from some a$$hat who is saying nasty stuff like, “Why don’t you get off the game and make me a sandwich, b!tch” or “Girls can’t game” maybe this so-called white knight doesn’t want to hear that ignorant crap either. I mean, really, is it so wrong to tell a hateful person to shut the f@#k up?


As for men who game with women they know, such as friends, family members, or their SO, they might be trying to impress her or that they feel genuinely protective. Not because she’s weak, but because they care. My gamer guy BFF does this all the time and I let him because he’s earned the right to rush to my defense by being a true, caring, awesome friend.


In a world where we are ever more aware of how our actions and words affect other people, I think it’s also important to assume that the person stepping on your feelings didn’t necessarily mean to do it. At least until they prove otherwise. Perhaps it’s best to ask a player of any gender (non-binary included of course) if you can jump in or if they need help. That being said, if you ever do come across my characters on RDO or ESO, please assume I got this, because I so freaking do. Just ask my gamer guy BFF.

Keeping it 200: Red Dead Online

The goal is a waste of time. I know this. After level 100 on Red Dead Online you gain no more advantage from leveling up further. That’s it, all weapons, horses, clothing items, and abilities are unlocked by then. Okay, yes, every five levels you get a treasure map. Whooptie freaking doo. I’ve got more gold and RDO$ than I know what to do with.

So why can’t I stop playing this f@#king game?

There’s so much about RDO that irritates me. The forever load time. The way my saved outfits magically disappear from time to time. Cripps and his sudden need to pack my camp up while I’m en route. How my character gets stuck walking like John Wayne after certain missions. I picked the flamboyant walk because she’s a cute little ladylike outlaw, dammit. I don’t want her walking around like she’s saddle sore. You get my meaning 😉 Sorry, sorry. That bug really bothers me.

There are countless other bugs and glitches, not to mention the always half-baked updates. So I ask again: why can’t I stop playing this f@#king game? Not just continue to play it, but grind on it so often that I’m almost level 200?

To put this in perspective, once you hit level 100, it takes about 10,000 XP to rank up. And that increases little by little so that at this point it’s around 11,000 XP to level up.

For the sake of simple math let’s stick with 10,000. That means I’ve earned almost 1,000,000 XP. And to put that into perspective, the average bounty yields around 300, naturalist and moonshiner missions, maybe 500. The motherlode is the trader goods delivery which takes forever to build up to, but it rewards players with 2000 XP. Yes, there are other ways to get a little extra XP here and there, but when you consider chalking up 1,000,000 in a few months time, that’s a lot of wasted days and wasted nights. It’s okay, I’m woman enough to admit it.

So, if the game irks me and it’s grindy as all hell once you get to a certain level, what attracts me to it over and over again? It’s kinda like that lover that’s no good for you but who’s too much fun not to answer the phone when he calls.

But what’s so fun about it? I don’t know. Really I don’t! There’s just something about shooting a bandit in the face after you’ve tackled him. There’s a thrill to the ever increasing difficulty of the Legendary Bounties. And yes, I’m that player who’ll start Harriet’s naturalist missions but instead of sedating the Legendary animal, I kill it, skin it, and give the pelt to Cripps. But c’mon it makes the trader role so much easier. And then there’s the almost slots like discovery of collectibles throughout the world. Most of the time it’s just going to be a measly playing card, but once in a while you hit the jackpot and get jewelry or a rare flower.

Okay, so I do love unleashing my inner bada$$ in RDO. And it could be said that IRL, I’m a bit repressed. I follow rules. I’m nice even perhaps when I shouldn’t be. So maybe RDO gives me an outlet for all that inappropriate behavior I’ve got locked inside me. Better to release it in virtual reality than real reality.

I also think my affection for RDO comes from my love of the story mode. Red Dead Redemption 2 moved me in a way I can’t quite explain. I wanted so much to save Arthur, but we all know how that turns out. Perhaps continuing to inhabit his world is a way to stay connected to a character I grew to love.

What ever it is, I’m level 196 and I know I won’t stop until I reach 200. And then, really, who am I kidding, I’ll keep playing because I love the game. Maybe it’s just that simple.

The Tao of Biomutant

Hands down, Biomutant has the best writing of any game released in 2021. Yes, there’s silly stuff such as “Riding a googlide helps keep you goo free.” Or “Your ears just pooped.” Which is also part of the game’s charm.

But some of the narrator’s lines are so profound, I just sat and pondered them for a bit before I went on playing. It might have been the perfect game at the perfect time in my life. I’ve been struggling with so much trauma. I’m starting to heal, but it’s a daily struggle, one this beautiful, quirky little game has made easier.

My favorite wisdom-y-est lines from Biomutant:


All gameplay captured on PlayStation 4, Biomutant

Stories keep moving whether you drive them or not

Tracks are like the paths our lives take and you must deal with the outcome, even if you didn’t lay them yourself.

Control your destiny, or someone else will

What you do here matters–to you and the world.

Heroes are only heroes for others, but they do the work or they’re heroes to no one.

Whatever happens to the world, you shone as bright as you could. That matters more than you know.

History is like the trail you’ve been on, you can walk back down it anytime you like, until it’s worn smooth. But you get to blaze your own trail from here.

Fate is for those too weak to determine their own destiny and now is the time to face yours.

Don’t flinch away from this. It’s your moment. You need to focus.

If a story is about you, care for it.

We all share the same destiny: destruction or survival.

Life is a difficult game no matter how you play it.

We’re all heroes of our own stories. Or so we hope.

We all have things in our last we wish hadn’t happened and can come to remember seeing and doing things that never happened.

Whatever you do, do it right, or don’t do it at all.

What you do for yourself dies with you, what you do for your kin remains and makes you immortal in their memory.

We are lonesome animals who spend our whole lives trying to be less lonesome

Your destiny waits on the path you’ll take to avoid it.

What Do You Mean I Don’t Have Explosive Ammo? Red Dead Replay

Gameplay from Red Dead Online

Someone I care about very much told me he’d never played Red Dead Redemption 2, story mode…at least not all the way through. Well, that’s just not acceptable. Friends don’t let friends NOT play RDR2 story mode!

After much gentle persuasion (like nagging him incessantly), he finally acquiesced and installed the game. Actually, I found out later this was a very kind and ingenious plot to distract me from Father’s Day since my dad’s passing is still pretty fresh. What an awesome friend! IKR? And loving this game as much as I do, I was happy to start my 3rd replay and have a twelve hour parallel gaming sesh.

Aside from being absolutely in love with the tragic hero , Arthur Morgan, I also spend a lot of time of Red Dead Online. Yes, the portrait of the Old West painted by the game can be dark, disturbing, and at times kinda gross–par for the course for Rockstar– but I still love roleplaying in it.

While I’m not an outrageous rank online, like 396 or something crazy like that, I’m a respectable 188, which means I’ve got all the good guns, best horses, fully upgraded passive abilities, and all the cool perks like explosive ammo. I’ve become accustomed to playing at a certain level. I’ve also gotten lazy and sloppy.

I face-tank most online missions because I can. I’ve got more minty big game and thyme big game than I know what to do with. Plus I heal when I’m in Dead Eye. Cover shmover, I say. Yes, a good old-fashioned headshot will still take me out, but most of the NPCs aren’t skilled marksmen or markswomen…um, markspeople?

Anyway, starting back at the ground floor with a brand-spanking new Arthur, I learned just how lazy and sloppy I’d gotten. Taking cover suddenly became important again. As did flick-aim for headshots because Arthur’s beginning revolver sucks. And you’ve only got regular ammo. Regular ammo, ugh. I’m not saying I need explosive ammo, but at least express. Throw me a frickin’ bone here, people.

No more portable fast travel with my wilderness camp. Nope. Gotta get back in the groove of tapping X in time with my horse’s galloping if I want to get anywhere without taking all day. And Arthur’s starter horse, well, he’s no big beautiful Breton like my Bacchus.

Yep, I’ve been a spoiled little outlaw and I’d stop challenging myself. At least on Red Dead. So tonight I decided to undertake some 3 and 4 star Legendary Bounties solo. Some went great, some not so much. I think it’s in the times we fail as gamers that we learn the most.

This got me thinking about life in general, as gaming often does (hence the blog). Every experience teaches us something. While we can learn a great deal from success, we learn much more by trying, failing, learning from the failure and attempting to solve the problem a different way. That’s how we grow, learn new skill sets, and become more well-rounded human beings.

So, yeah… challenging myself more as a gamer (still not going the Sekiro route, ain’t nobody got time for that). As for life, don’t usually have to go looking for adversity there. Life has a way of punching you in the gut, perhaps repeatedly, and as you struggle to get back up, sometimes the most beautiful opportunities present themselves. Like a friend who will play your favorite game with you all day because you’re sad.