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Tale of a new Gamer Dad: Sleeping Dungeon

April 6, 2012 Leave a comment

There will be many trials when you’re a new parent.

Other parents will give advice but when it all comes down to it, you have to experience everything yourself.  There is no equation on how to be a perfect parent.  Each circumstance will be unique. One cannot tell someone what being a parent is like.  It’s like Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, one must travel up and see the light themselves to understand.

If parenting was like gaming, then it would be like a massive Role Playing Game where you battle the world and all that is evil and hope to teach your child to live right.  But before you can begin to do that, your child relies on you 100% of the first few years of her life and this will be the hardest training exercise ever.  Man has persevered through the centuries while the weaker animals have become extinct because of our ability to endure the first few months of parenthood.

My daughter is going to be one year. Our second child is on the way in August.  Things will only get more complicated.  In the first year of my daughter’s life, I learned that changing diapers is not as difficult as I anticipated.  The sleeplessness is something I could never have imagined.

This blog was started out under the pretense that I am a lifelong gamer and as one grows older responsibilities mount and it’s harder to find time to game.  Never has this been more true then with fatherhood.  Fatherhood is a treasure and I enjoy my weekend mornings with my daughter under the shade of the trees at the park, far away from my gaming devices.  I cannot help to feel most alive during these moments.  There is nothing I would rather do than spend time with my daughter, but let’s also be realistic, babies do sleep and nap and these are the times when people start to get back to their hobbies.  The first few months are impossible as you are dedicating all your time to late night feedings, but then your baby starts to sleep through the night and sit up on her own. This gives you chance to pursue some of those things you did before you became a parent.

I love reading books, playing guitar, writing, and gaming.  I pretty much stuck to these few items.  I gave up gaming until dawn, playing baseball on Sundays, and the luxury of sleeping in until mid-day like I assume Link would do if he wasn’t saving Hyrule.

So if there was a Parenthood RPG, your first task would be to build your character and acquire energy, stamina and special powers like “story-telling” or a “comforting and a sleep inducing voice.”  Once the baby arrives, the parents are drained from these powers, but those who persevere and see the beauty that is their child growing up quickly before their very eyes, start to use these parenting abilities, but it’s a never ending struggle.

I’ve been playing Zelda:Skyward Sword lately and my favorite character has to be the man who is married to the lady who sells potions and has his newborn on his back in an ergo carrier.  If you visit him at night he also has the daunting task of putting his fussy baby to sleep.  I knew I had to help him.  Me and him are brother in arms, (Arms that rock babies to sleep).  We both come from the same army of dads who have to endure the late night rocking of the sleepless baby.

Zelda Dad

Out of the bunch of mini-games available Wii Party, there is one game where you rock a baby and if you don’t keep a rhythm, your baby will not sleep.  Unfortunately it is not that simple.  This is how my baby rocking experience goes when the parent steps into the Baby Rocking Dungeon, don’t bother searching for a map or key, it’s you against the boss, the “Sleepy baby that refuses to sleep!”

I walk into the room and she is turning. Her body is twisted and contorted.

Her eyes are closed but her cries are increasing in volume.

I stare at her and hope that perhaps she’ll feel comfort in the fact I am now awake with her,

She cries and begins stretching out arms,

I pick her up and she instantly quiets down and closes her eyes.

Her body relaxes and I look at the clock to mark the time.

I tell myself, “give her five minutes of the rocking motion and then set her down gently.”

I rock her back and forward, I walk about the room in a random pattern to simulate perhaps a car-ride which has proven to induce sleep,

She moves herself from her head on my shoulder to the reclined position and is now cradled in my arms, which facilitates putting her down,

I lift her up ever so slightly so she clears her cradle, she opens her eyes sightly as she senses a shift in her gravitational pull.

As I begin her slow decent towards the mattress, she arches her back and lets out a scream!

A heart goes down on my health meter to indicate I’ve been beaten,

I pick her up and mark the time so I can decide when to set her down again.  The Cycle continues until finally the baby is breathing heavily and both her arms are heavy.  This means you’ve solved the puzzle on how to get her to sleep.  You set her down.

She lets out a little peep and slowly turns over and sleeps through the next 6 hours.

Warning: If you attempt to set her down too early, there is a chance she will completely wake up and then you’ll have to be up another hour or so instead of enjoying the sleep reward.

Good Luck Gamer Parents!

Another Nightmare Averted- Strategy for Ghost Hunters

December 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Ghost

Games have always taught us that ghosts are not to be feared

“Where shall the word be found, where will the word
Resound? Not here, there is not enough silence”  – T. S. Eliot

I have to admit that I have an overactive imagination.  A downside to that gift is sometimes my nightmares are surreal.

Last night was no exception.  I guess I have been watching too many Ghost Adventurers because my dream involved me and my wife traveling from house to house and each one kept getting more haunted than the previous one.

First of all, I already have a happy home, so it made no sense why we were traveling to different locations, but somehow our maniac landlord kept apologizing for the ghostly apparitions and kept offering us new lodgings.

One was an apartment which reeked of ghosts as soon as we walked in (assuming ghost have a scent. In my dreams they do).  The other was a log cabin next to a dark and desolate highway in a scene similar to Alan Wake’s lodgings.  I don’t recall ever seeing a ghost in my dream, but I did have an overwhelming feeling that ghosts were present.

A small part of me wanted to see the ghosts and confront them. I wanted to be like Zach from Ghost Adventurers and taunt the ghosts, but they never showed themselves.  Also deep down, I felt safe because I learned from Super Mario Brothers that if you are ever approached by a ghost, you look them head-on.  You never run away. Never show fear. Like King Boo, ghosts are given confidence when you waiver in yours.

Luckily for me, my daughter woke me up for her night feedings and saved me from my dreaming doom.

Until next time…Here’s a Haiku…

Pac-Man

Brave among the Ghosts!
He eats a power pellet,
The blue ghost they flee.

VGA Awards – Better than Nothing

December 11, 2011 3 comments

Gripes.

Gripes is all my Twitter timeline was filled with on Saturday evening because of the slew of tweets berating the VGA awards.  Sure they where horrendous moments where the viewer had to ask, “Why would you honor games with a soldier crouching over a video game producer?”  But for the most part, we have to be happy the show was on.

The image molded into my brain after the VGA

Most people probably won’t agree and just point to the horrible Hollywood element crept into the show (Charlie Sheen even presented an award), but I enjoyed seeing the industry celebs like Cliffy B and Miyamoto on the big stage.

Growing up I would have dreamed of watching a Video Game awards show.  Back then Video Games didn’t get any appreciation, only by the kids who played them. Now gaming is more mainstream so advertisers see an award show as a good way to reach their target market.

It’s the age of G4 TV and free games on Facebook.  Games are everywhere.  It’s not just the image of the pocket protector wearing guys who played Dungeons and Dragons.

I think all gamers are unique so it’s going to be hard to cater a Video Game award show to every gamer out there; which probably explains the public discontent on my Twitter timeline.

Sure I shook my head when I saw the guy tea-bagging and the discussions of tea-bagging.  Tea-bagging was a joke from the original Halo 2 online. So to me, that joke is far to old to be effective. Now, the joke is probably only potent to the pre-adolescent gamers.  Other than that one crude joke and the possible spoilers shown on the trailers, I am happy there was a Video Game Awards.  It’s far better than not having one at all.

Until next year Spike TV!

Mobile Gaming Cycle of Life

December 8, 2011 Leave a comment

“While I slept and traveled in dreams at night, the mountains didn’t move at all and I doubt they dreamed- ” Jack Kerouac

Becoming a parent consumes you.  You’ll pretty much focus all of your effort on your child with no time for anything else.  Your free time is pretty much diminished to basic grooming and eating.

I said in an earlier entry, before I took a long hiatus from the Beleaguered Gamer Blog, that I’d try to get some gaming in during the baby’s nap, but the truth is, in the early stages of parenthood, you are pretty much sleep deprived.  Then you get a brief period when the baby begins to sleep longer, so you decide to play and this time is nice, but then the teething stage begins and they are up at all hours of the night. Then it becomes a decision of sleep versus game and sleeplessness pretty much always forces you to forgo gaming.

Thankfully for me I got a 3DS.  Now I have to admit at first I wasn’t to thrilled with the lack of games, but then they started to release the classics as part of the Ambassador program. I started to play original Gameboy titles like Tennis and Baseball during those moments when I am stuck in the car while the baby is nursing.

Having a child didn’t completely kill my gaming life.

I still get to play console games.  Currently I am playing Skyward Sword, but there were others like Dragon Age II, Gears of War 3, and Modern Warfare 3, but the opportunity to play console games are not as frequent. Thankfully for me I can stomp a few Goombas and fly wing-side with the ever arrogant Falco in Star Fox because of the 3DS.  If it wasn’t for the 3DS I wouldn’t be getting much gaming time at all.

In the past I had handheld systems as a kid and eventually in my 20’s I grew tired of them when I pretty much had access to any system for whatever time I saw fit.  However, now I am going back to that period in life when I am stuck in a car and I want to throw a few red turtle shells at the Princess’ lifted vehicle.

Yes, for me the handheld gaming cycle has come full circle.

How we played 2 players

Retro handheld gaming involved chords.

Mobile Gaming Cycle of Life- Poem

Going back to a time,
A time when I was stuck in a vehicle,
Driving towards long destinations,
Parents in awe of sites to see,
But not me,

My face is dug deep,
In the florescent green screen,
Dot-matrix Mario jumping multitude of foes,
Undone by his own demise due to lack of mushroom consumption,

Want to play with me?
Here is a chord let’s link,
What did you think?
I was going to throw the pitch,
without me wiggling the control switch,
Swing and a miss,

Now I’m grown and future has shown,
An inclination to the handheld device,
Not a vice, but a tool,
To make fools of imaginary foes.

Time is limited so make use,
Idle minds can’t redefine themselves,
Solve a laborious mental labyrinth,
hear the chime to enlightenment,

It’s just like a book,
Takes you from a boring reality,
Mobile gaming makes it easy to partake,
In the virtual imagination.

Adulthood: Gamer’s Conundrum

June 26, 2011 Leave a comment

Sometimes in life you just feel weary.  It’s inevitable.  The soul gets heavy and it weighs you down. Depending on what the issue is, there is a different solution. However, one should never stop doing that which you love.

As you get older you have to adapt to new responsibilities, no longer can you live reckless with no regard for tomorrow. However, one should never stop doing that which they love.

Work problems are from 9-5.  Life’s joy is endless. Letting your career woes overtake your lifetime joys only diminishes your quality of life. What is life without doing that which it is you love.

Sure money buys security, but an overzealous approach can leave you permanently forlorn.
My two month year old grabbing my hand, a “saving” icon to show your checkpoint has been passed, a sunny San Diego Father’s Day is everything to me,

which is that what I love.

One thing is inevitable in life. We all grow old.  No matter how many attempts have been made, like sleeping in strange hydrobolic chambers or bathing in a remote waterfall, ever lasting youth is unobtainable.  Youthful exuberance is more mental than physical.  As you grow older you start to approach life’s issues in a different manner. Adult problems take adult-like solutions, but (depending on when you were born), this doesn’t mean you grow up and have to start destroying all your old records, compact discs, or 8-tracks, (kids today don’t break records, they simply delete the songs from their iPod).

The last couple of days I’ve been feeling angst as adult problems are causing me mental anguish.  This is predominantly because of my work, for my personal life is filled with nothing but bliss at this current moment in time.  I am usually carefree when it comes to “clocking out” of work, but for some reason the last few days have been rather rough on me and taxing on my overall mood.  Now here I am on a Sunday night typing away as the words ease some of the pressure.

Home vs Work

Author's artistic depiction of the problem. Notice how one figure is re-joycing, while the other looks dejected.

I would like to say that my problem is with a co-worker or with an overbearing boss, but it’s not; the conundrum is far worse.  The problem is that my mind is fixated on work, even when I am at home. I am not getting paid to think about it, but for some reason my mind is running around, always thinking about work.  It’s a sick, sick thing; someone who is overwhelmed with work. The brain ceases to think for itself but is instead fixed on one goal…the job.

Luckily for me, Father’s Day weekend helped me take a step back as I played L.A. Noire and MLB the Show all weekend.  I spent time with my daughter, enjoying my first ever Father’s Day. I purchased Zelda 3D for the 3DS and took a retro-trip back to my N64 days. I had lost track of myself being overly involved with work, but after some time with family and spending time with my gaming roots, I had the greatest insight.  Your personal life is what brings you the greatest joys.

So this leads me to the problem, I’ve been trying to revamp a work process and instead of my calm ways, I took an overbearing approach.  It is a seemingly insurmountable problem that requires major changes and a team of individuals to all be on board. Do I continue in my nonchalant ways or take on a more controlling role at work?  Adults are supposed to be serious and enforce rules on the minions. I can go Kratos on all the knaves at work. For those who don’t know, Kratos is the God of War. He uses anger and wrath to beat down his problems.  Not all of life’s problems are solved by mashing them.  Some of them require you to use your mind, like when you play the classic NES game, Adventures of Lolo.

I am angry now, but I know when I clock into work, my usual calm self will direct my actions.  Good thing to, I am not so sure someone like Kratos would be a good manager.

If you have a problem at work, don’t be a jerk. Write a poem about it and move on. That’s what I say at least…

Until next time…

Online games


Modem

"Back in my day, we had to wait for the modem to dial and connect to the internet as we walked miles in the snow to play online"

My first experience on an online game was on my 486 Windows computer.  The game was Duke Nukem 3D and the connection was a hardwired telephone modem to link me to the game server.

Not to many people had the game so, the only way I was going to play the game was with my friend Vince.  I remember calling him up late in the evening and we agreed on a time and we set the game up.

Duke Nukem 3D featured the first level as the multi-player map.  The level consisted of an area outside, similar to a courtyard and then inside was a movie theater.  I don’t recall too much about the strategies I employed, but I do recall one kill that left an impression in my mind.  I had used the jet pack and waited patiently in the movie theater.  Then I saw my friend scurrying in the projection room.  I used my jetpack and flew up to the projection booth window and in a move of pure genius, I shot him through the tiny opening.

It was my first official video game “ownage” but that term wasn’t invented yet.  I remember bragging the next morning at our job as interns and he was playing it down with a lackadaisical, “yeah yeah”.  I was excited and I remember bringing up that moment to other gamers but no one ever shared the same enthusiasm.

The beauty of online shooters are the multiple angles and ways to outwit your opponent. Each kill, each death, comes from varying angles, no single game is alike when you face another person because you are forced to rethink your strategy with every failure.  In the 486 Processing power element the physics engine was not developed yet, the target glided like a huge computer cursor on the screen as if someone had accidentally left the space-bar engage. But it was still on a 3D playing field and therefore, forced the two combatants to simulate their survivor skills.

Well, now it’s written down for the record.  I had the official first owning on an online opponent when I used the stratagem of an aerial assault and shot from the most of unlikely locations, with the rocket-pack engaged, gun in hand and sites set, through the projection window of a movie theater.

Never stop trying to out-think your opponents!

Carpe Diem

3D and Gaming

March 15, 2011 Leave a comment

“And a game of war among youngsters during a period of recreation, or a game of robbers-that too, is a sort of nascent art, an emerging need for art in the young soul, and these games are sometimes even better conceived than theater performances, with the only difference that people go to the theater to look at the actors, and here young people are themselves the actors. But it’s only natural”

Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov.

Yesterday I went to Best Buy to purchase a video game. I’ve been carrying some gift cards in my wallet since the holidays and it was time I infused money back to the gaming economy.

I hadn’t made up my mind what game I wanted, but as I approached the video game section I saw a 3D TV with a pair of 3D glasses and two controllers. On display in the PS3 was MLB the Show 11. A brother and sister were playing and the older brother was desperately trying to teach his sister how to hit the ball. “This sucks”, she muttered as she couldn’t figure out the timing on her swing.

I wanted desperately to put the glasses on and take a look for myself however, it appeared as if they were going to be a while as their parents shopped for electronics in peace.

I decided to peruse the games section to see if I finally make up my mind on which game to buy. There was BulletStorm and Killzone 3. I heard both games are great, but I wanted to take some time off from the shooter category as it seems the industry is inundated with this type of game. I saw that Final Fantasy XI was now dropped to only 29 dollars. I always loved this game but didn’t have time to play it before; but I decided against this purchase because I wanted something recent.

As I go through the isle of PlayStation games and then Xbox and Wii, nothing stands out as worthy.  As I make the turn back to the 3D TV it appears to be open, but as I turn the corner I see a small boy perhaps age 4 or 5 and he has the glasses on and appears to be in full game mode with hands clutched to the controller and tongue sticking out in obvious concentration.

I thought I could just take a peak of the game so I went for the glasses and left the controller alone because I didn’t want to ruin his gaming experience.  As I reached for the glasses he orders me, “Get…Play…Us”.  He pointed at the controller and he was frustrated because he was playing the 2 player game the previous duo were playing and he was forced to control both the batter and pitcher.  “Oh, you want me to play?” I say.  I grab the controller and I was Tim Lincecum.  He was the Padres.

3D Glasses

The child beckoned me to pick up the controller and play a game of baseball.

At first the 3D effect looked distorted, similar to how it looked without the glasses. I couldn’t tell if I had defective glasses or if my eyes were defective.  I let the pitch go and Lincecum threw a 93 MPH fast ball to the lower left corner and it hit the dirt before it even crossed home plate.  I was trying to lob it for the small child, but I missed my target and he swung and missed.  The boy took off his glasses angrily and left.

I then proceeded to strike out the batter myself so I can check out the effects. I was amazed at how the ball looked coming at me in 3D.  The 3D effect was evident while observing the pitcher in between pitches as the view of the game is from the catcher’s view point.  You can see far off in the distance, the fans and the outfielders, but during this particular screen shot your focus is on the ball.  It was pure fascination when I saw the ball coming out of the hand in the 3D realm.  In previous baseball simulators, sometimes it is hard to judge when the pitch is a ball or a strike so gamers swing at anything, but with 3D, it seemed a little better to judge the ball movement.

I thought 3D TV was going to be a fad, and it very well could be, but once the price goes down, I really wouldn’t mind spending some gaming time playing baseball indoors as it rains outside.  It’s not exactly “real” baseball but with the 3D use, the simulation just got a little more interesting.

I ended up purchasing Dragon Age 2 but on my mind the rest of the night, I was thinking of ways I can get my hands on a 3D TV for my gaming lair.  Also, I sure hope that toddler works on his batter’s eye because he was really reaching out of the strike zone.