Gaming is my Remedy

For anyone who has been reading my posts during the past few years, it is easy to say that I am not a well man. Yes, there’s something off about me, and I have embraced it personally. I feel that this community has embraced me as well, giving me a forum to pour out the flotsam and jetsam that are the thoughts in my head, that inevitably all lead back to my passion, video games… and alcohol, and sometimes cannabis… but mostly video games…… and beer. 

It is pretty obvious that gaming is a passion of mine. I wouldn’t be writing here if it wasn’t. I’ve written in the past how life has gotten in the way of that passion. School, work, relationships, family, and all the complications that come when one gets older, have a way of chipping away at valuable gaming time. This has been a topic covered by me and others ad nauseum. 

I (and others) have also written how gaming has become a coping mechanism for the trials and tribulations that is life in general.  Gaming has been one of the ways for me to stay grounded. No matter what is going on in my life, for over 35 years, gaming has been a constant. I make time to play video games, along with exercise, writing, spending time with my family, and doing home improvement projects.   

What you may not know is that I also live with anxiety, depression, and now, apparently, OCD. The OCD part is not at all surprising, now that I think of it. I see a therapist, psychiatrist and I’m on meds, to help balance me out. It is essential for me to stay active and engaged with my hobbies and family, as well as being supported by my therapists, or I will quite literally break down. I have to admit; the breakdowns have become much frequently lately. Now, more than ever, finding ways to cope has become even more imperative. 

I used to be hesitant to admit to these things. Now, I really don’t give a fuck who knows. Mental health is something that doesn’t get any way near the amount of attention it deserves in society. It is a global epidemic and, in my humble opinion, a lot of problems could be solved if there wasn’t such a stigma associated with mental health.  

The more people who come out and admit that they need help, or are getting help, the better the world will be. I used to feel embarrassed that I had anxiety and depression. I would try to tell myself that there was no reason for me to feel down or depressed even when things were going great. I have everything I could ever want, a beautiful home, a family, a well-paying if not highly demanding job. Want more could I want?  

Then you come to the realization that none of that matters because how I feel is predicated on the cocktail of chemicals in my brain, which are sometimes slightly off. Look at all the famous people who lived and are living with depression and you have proof that money and power mean nothing when it comes to mental health. Then look at all the famous people, with unlimited resources at their disposal, who fought, and lost their battles against depression. Heroes of mine, like Kurt Cobain, Chris Cornell, Anthony Bourdain, etc… and sometime I ask, this battle is hopeless. What chance do I have?  

Depression is an everyday battle, that is real. There is not a day that goes by that is not impacted, in some way, by my mental illness. I need an arsenal of coping mechanisms and a certain amount of structure to get me through the day. Without these coping mechanisms, I will fall into a hole. 

Gaming is an essential outlet and coping mechanism for me. It’s not a cure, but simply one of many things that I do to get myself out of a funk when I feel like I’m slipping down a hole. 

My therapist thinks that gaming is not the best outlet and to this I disagree. She mentions that games are too stimulating and that when I play them at night before bed, it probably disrupts my sleep. One would think that this makes sense, but thanks to the wonders that is modern technology and my Apple Watch, this is simply not true, at least, not in my case. My heart rate actually decreases when I’m gaming. One time, while play Red Dead Redemption 2, my resting heart rate dipped to 35 beats per minute. I know this, because my Apple Watch pinged me to ask if I was dying. 

Nope, I wasn’t dying, I was relaxed, riding my horse into a digital sunset, and my resting heart rate, which is already low (thanks to exercise and running) was responding to the serene imagery on my screen.  

Perhaps I was playing a game that was simply too relaxing? I tested this theory the following day, playing some more intense online shooters (Destiny and PUBG) and my resting heart rate was between 45 to 55 BPM. So, for me at least, gaming relaxes me, and is a good outlet for my anxiety. 

I also need structure to my day to day life as this helps with my anxiety. I like being in control, and having a plan. I’m not spontaneous, which is pretty funny, because my actual job necessities me being really into developing processes, planning, and organization. Nothing brings me more joy than a really nice checklist, spreadsheet, or logical project plan. It makes me feel all warm and gooey inside. Gaming is on my actual daily checklist of tasks, and if I can’t get in a game in, even if it’s just 30 minutes, then I get all out of sorts. Yes, I know, this is obsessive compulsive behavior. 

Gaming has helped me with my obsessive compulsiveness. Playing a game is one thing, but finishing the main story, doing every side mission, finding every collectable, and getting to or as close to 100% completion is the goal. I’m naturally attracted to open world games, like GTA, Red Dead, or games that require to level up your character, like Destiny 1 and 2, but any game that has anything unlockable is fair gameNothing brings me more joy than seeing a fully completed world map, or seeing my character’s power tick up one notch, it helps to scratch my obsessive compulsive itch, which is better, I suppose than washing my hands until they bleed, or checking the locks 100 times, or having a ritualistic approach to turning off the gas stove that involves checking all the nobs, clapping three times, and singing the Mongolian national anthem. 

My goal is not to trivialize mental illness, but simply shed some more light on it and share how I cope with it. Gaming is a small, but not unimportant part of my coping process. I hope that me sharing some of my challenges helps some of you out there. Perhaps you’re not familiar of mental illness, or maybe you’re struggling as well. If so, I hope this post resonates with you and hopefully, helps you in some way. 

I’ve Become a De Facto Expert of Video Games… And that Sucks 

Oh, hi there. It’s been awhile again. Been busy with my actual job and adult stuff. I actually got a promotion recently, and with it a whole caboodle of additional responsibilities. I actually have a fancy title with direct reports now, which let’s face it, is a terrifying prospect. The fact that the upper management at my company thinks that I should be providing mentorship and career advice to anyone has me questioning their decision-making skills. With that said, I’m still gaming AND writing when I can.  Hopefully, you’ll enjoy my latest: 

There is an old saying that goes, be careful what you wish for, because one day, it may come true. Older people would use this phrase as a response to me pining for something as child would always provide the most utterly ridiculous examples of why I should be “careful for what I wish for.” 

I immediately think back to the movie Home Alone, where a young Macaulay Culkin wishes for his family to disappear and in turn, they forget to take him on vacation to Paris, leaving home to fend for himself during the holidays. 

At first, he’s ecstatic, because he can do whatever he wants, but he soon learns that he misses and loves his family. This came after he tortures and nearly murders two burglars while narrowly avoiding being murdered by them. Really gets me into the Christmas Spirit. 

I remember teachers using this movie as example of being careful of what you wish for, and me thinking to myself, well that is a pretty outlandish. What are the chances that simply wishing to have some alone time leads to assaulting Joe Pesci via blow torch? 

It wasn’t until years later in a philosophy class that I took in college that I learned of the “slippery slope.” Unfortunately, I forgot after years of drinking and abusing my brain and body in various illicit ways.  So, a quick Google search and voila! 

“A slippery slope argument, in logic, critical thinking, political rhetoric, and caselaw, is a consequentialist logical device in which a party asserts that a relatively small first step leads to a chain of related events culminating in some significant effect. The core of the slippery slope argument is that a specific decision under debate is likely to result in unintended consequences. The strength of such an argument depends on the warrant, i.e. whether or not one can demonstrate a process that leads to the significant effect. This type of argument is sometimes used as a form of fear mongering, in which the probable consequences of a given action are exaggerated in an attempt to scare the audience. The fallacious sense of “slippery slope” is often used synonymously with continuum fallacy, in that it ignores the possibility of middle ground and assumes a discrete transition from category A to category B. In a non-fallacious sense, including use as a legal principle, a middle-ground possibility is acknowledged, and reasoning is provided for the likelihood of the predicted outcome.” 

See! It is amazing that after years of playing football before the invention of concussion protocols, combining Whippets with bong hits, and drinking copious amounts of cheap alcohol – and yet, everything turned out okay. Thank you internet and thank you Wikipedia! 

However, can there possibly be a grain of truth to all of this? I have learned that you should indeed be careful of what you wish for. Hear me out on this. 

When I was in my early teens, back in the greatest decade, known as the 1990’s, my parents and especially my father would ask me when and I’m going to give up playing with these “toys?” The “toys” he was referring to, were video games.  

“Never,” would be my reply. “Gaming is the way of the future and I will never stop. You’ll see, one day, video games will be more popular than everything.” I was a smart kid if I do say so myself, and is it turns out, I was right.  Video games did indeed become insanely popular and mainstream. I am vindicated. So why do I wish gaming was a more niche and less mainstream now? 

Kids find out that I am a gamer and they want to play with me like I’m a novelty. Let’s play with the old man they squeal gleefully, like I’m a dancing monkey or a horse that knows how to do math by tapping its hoof. I don’t like this. I’m not a freak. I’M NOT AN ANIMAL! 

It doesn’t stop there either. Other, non-gaming parents want to know what is good for their kids. I’ll get accosted at functions and get asked questions like, “Hey, you play video games, what’s the deal with Fortnight, Overwatchor whatever new gaming craze of the moment?” To which my reply is, “I don’t know, I don’t play those types of games,” to which many times, is a lie. I just don’t want to discuss games with a non-gamer and also, they should fucking Google it. I’m not trying to be a jerk but discussing video games with someone who is not interested in gaming and solely asking for their kids is mind numbing and negatively impacts my buzz. 

Even scarier than acquittances asking about gaming is the out of the blue stranger wanting to pick my brain about gaming. I travel a lot for work and always brought along a handheld or even more recently, my Nintendo Switch, the sight of which, earlier on, nearer to the console’s launch, would illicit a few questions on the device.  

It’s for these reasons that I avoid gaming related small talk with all strangers. I used to avoid telling people that I was a gamer because I wanted to avoid the negative stereotypes and connotation, on how gaming was anti-social, or for nerds, or for children, or too violent, or made children too violent. Now I avoid gaming related chit chat because I don’t want to get dragged into boring conversation. 

Now there is an even a more troubling issue. I have found that other adults want to know if I can help onboard them into gaming again as they haven’t played in years but want to start up because gaming is popular again. Case and point, my neighbor swung by the house the other day to pick up his daughter, who was on a play date with my daughter and noticed a copy of Game Informer (yes, I’m a dope) on the shelf.  

He apparently turned to my wife and was surprised to find out that I was a gamer, as I didn’t seem like someone who played video games. He mentioned that he used to be a gamer himself, but fell out of it, but perhaps he would pick it up again, with my help. My wife thought this was quaint, while I thought that this idea was terrifying. I’m not trying to be an ass, but the last thing I want to do is to teach another grown man how to be a gamer. I’m too old to be someone’s video game mentor. 

Lastly, I’m reluctant to become friends with other adult gamers, who want me to join up in their leagues or gamer groups. This happens a lot at work actually, where a random co-worker finds out that I am a gamer and then wants my Gamertag so that we can meet up online later. However, I avoid this at all costs for purely selfish and paranoid reasons. Selfish reasons in that I don’t want to give up my free time to play with someone new as I am pretty set in my ways. I don’t want to alter my schedule or the types of games that I enjoy to play with someone new.  

Also, what if I ditch work one day to play video games and my coworker sees me online for 8 hours when I told everyone that I contracted dengue fever? That can lead to bad optics and uncomfortable conversations with HR. 

It’s funny that I have gotten to this point. I wanted to so bad for gaming to become mainstream, and now that it is, I don’t want to embrace it, because I’ve become a tired old man. I almost yearn for the days where gaming was more niche, but I realize that is very selfish. So now I prefer to shut myself in my man cave and play inconspicuously with my small group of friends or randos, rarely revealing my true identity of a gamer. Unless I get pushed, by a young whippersnapper, then I have to beat him down. Never underestimate the old man gamer. 

Duke Nukem Movie Starring John Cena is in the Works

Hollywood is not done milking old video game franchises for ideas. We have the Rock going up against giant mutated monsters in Rampage, and now, John Cena may be going up against aliens in Duke Nukem.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, John Cena is in talks to play the titular character. If all goes well in negotiations, Michael Bay’s production company Platinum Dunes will produce the movie for Paramount.

The move is a bit surprising. Duke Nukem’s popularity has waned significantly and most gamers today will remember the disaster that is Duke Nukem Forever.

[Source: Hollywood Reporter]

I’m Still Waiting for a Truly Scary Video Game 

This time of year, posts about ghosts, the supernatural, and even scary video games are a dime a dozen. Even around the office, there have been lively discussions about ghosts and the supernatural. I don’t contribute much to these discussions, because I’m a bit of a skeptic. 

That doesn’t mean that I don’t like a good ghost story or haven’t experienced things that are unexplainable. Matter of fact, there are two instances which I experienced something sufficiently creepy. 

The first occurred years ago when my wife and I were shopping for our first home. The realtor was showing us houses in our budget in towns that that my wife and I liked, and she brought us to this pretty Victorian. It was an older home, quite large, and I was surprised that it was in our budget. Of course, we all made jokes that the house was probably so cheap because it was haunted.  

As we were doing our walk-through, I just couldn’t help feeling out of breath, and I wasn’t out of shape at the time, so stop calling me a fat ass under your breath. As we walked from room to room, I was filled by a feeling of lethargy and I just couldn’t fill my lungs with a satisfying breath of air. I was getting a real sense of dread in this place. The moment I walked out onto the porch, it was like a weight was lifted off my chest and I was able to breath normally again.  

I asked my wife if she felt like there was something off about the house and surprisingly she did not, which is odd, because she’s easily spooked by her own shadow. Suffice it to say, we didn’t pursue purchasing that house, because I prefer not be suffocated in my sleep by a vengeful spirit. 

The other spooky event happened a little less than a year ago. My wife and I were once again shopping for a house.  My daughter was growing up fast and we had another baby on the way and we needed to move into something bigger and in a town with better schools. Once again, the realtor brought us to a cute older house that was easily two hundred years old, but was beautifully restored.  

I have a theory that any house that is over a hundred years old has a very good chance that someone died in it. For every additional fifty years, those chances increase exponentially. The reason why, is that back in the good ole’ days, when people became sick, they usually became bed ridden at home.

In time, the local doctor came over and probably bled you or fed you mercury in order to remove all the bad humors from your body or some other crazy shit. Then you would die of mercury poisoning or from a lack of blood and or bad humors (WHO KNOWS?). If I died like that, I would be so pissed off that I would stick around and make other people’s lives miserable out of spite. This is all make perfect sense to me. 

Anyway, we were doing the walkthrough in this beautiful old house and we were standing in the dining room discussing the price and about ready to leave when I clearly heard a male voice say ‘hello.’ 

I was the only man in the group, so hearing another male voice was very surprising. The hairs on my arms and the back of my neck stood on end and I got the chills. I definitively got the feeling like there was something there and it was certainly not natural. The realtor heard this disembodied voice as well and she became pale as eggshells. She looked terrified and went room to room asking if someone else was there. The house was empty of course, and she came back into the dining room where I told her that we would not be making an offer. ZIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING!!!!!!!! 

I look back at this and laugh now. It’s not like this “ghost” said anything scary and cliché like “GET OUT,” he just said “hello.” Maybe he was a nice ghost? According to my mother, who also believes in ghosts and has claimed to see some supernatural things herself during her childhood, the fact that the ghost made its presence known meant that he didn’t want us there. 

I drive by this house every morning on my way to work and notice that a nice family lives there now. They seem happy and not too dissimilar to my own. So now I feel insulted because the ghost doesn’t seem to be bothering them. What does the ghost have against me?  Fuck that ghost. If I bought that house I would have him exorcised him, because I’m Catholic and we do shit like that. I don’t play around. There would have been liberal use of holy water, the burning of incense, incantations (IN LATIN), and the hanging of crucifixes on every damn wall. I would have used the power of Christ on his ass until he left. YOU HEAR ME MOTHERFUCKER! WHAT DO YOU HAVE AGAINST MY FAMILY!?! 

So, what am I getting at here? I’ve been creeped out by unexplained things in the real world, as well as scary movies and books. There is only one thing that has eluded giving me the frights, and that is my belvoed video games.  

I remember Friday the 13th on the NES as the first “horror” game I played that did not live up to expectations. As a child, the original Friday the 13th was a terrifying movie. Jason (and his mother) gave me endless nightmares. I clearly remember the apprehension that I had when a friend got the game and asked if I wanted to play it. All fears were quickly squashed by the stifling game play and a curiously purple and green Jason. Sadly, the scariest thing about this game was the box art. 

Years later, I remember getting a copy of Splatterhouse for the TurboGrafx-16. This game looked terrifying and the box even had a warning label, so it must be legit. However, upon playing this title, there was nothing truly scary about it. It was a serviceable action side-scroller that “borrowed” a lot of horror themes and had ample amounts of pixelated 16-bit gore, but I didn’t lose much sleep from this game either. 

Over the years, horror games got better. Resident Evil on PS1 had a fair amount of cheap jump scares, but I never found it scary. The early versions of the Silent Hill series were unsettling, and at times bizarre, but not all that frightening. Even the Alan Wake series, fell short in giving me a good scare. 

Even games link Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, which many celebrated as being truly scary, I found more gruesome and tense. Not necessarily bad things for sure, but I was not at all that scarred by it. I think that many game makers fall into this trap of thinking blood and guts automatically equals scary, but that is simply not the case.  

Case and point, the only game that came close to giving me a true scare was P.T. (yes technically part of the Silent Hill series), and it is a teaser for all intents and purposes. This game depends more on psychological fears and the supernatural rather than gore and it works. Unfortunately, we will never know how a full-length P.T. will pan out, because Konami is more interested in running health clubs and making pachinko machines than making games anymore.

So, what is it about horror games that makes them less scary than their movie counterparts? I think it’s a couple of things. 

First off, the fact that I’m in control of the character in a video game gives me some sort of comfort. This seems counter intuitive since you are controlling the character and whatever happens to him or her is vicariously happening to you, but you have the ability to fight back, or run, or hide. In movies and in books, you are a spectator and helpless to intervene in any way. It’s that feeling of helplessness that I find scary. 

Also, the gore in movies is much more unsettling than it is in games. Games are still in uncanny valley territory and seeing character in a game getting sliced up is nowhere near as unnerving as seeing a live person acting out the same. I find that even cheesy practical effects in movies from the 70’s and 80’s are more gruesome than anything in a modern game. I would even argue that CG in modern horror movies, like in video games, are lacking that visceral je ne sais quoi that can only be found when actors are liberally bukakied with a mixture of corn syrup and red dye. Also, bonus points if the victim is Kevin Bacon. 

Perhaps one day a game will be released that I find truly pants shitting scary. P.T. came close, and I would love to see Hideo Kojima give it another shot, perhaps in a new franchise. I really do think that a scary game is possible, but developers have to put in the effort and not depend on gore or easy jump scares.  

Hollywood is going through the same problem right now in my opinion. It’s far easier to throw up some CG blood and guts than to delve into the true foundations of horror. Foundations of Horror would also make a sweet name for a heavy metal band, so any musicians out there, feel free to steal it. 

Is there a game out there that you think will make me shit my pants with fear. Let me know in the comments. 

Happy Halloween folks… 

Game & Drink Pairings for the Discerning to Degenerate Gamer 

A couple weeks ago, I posted a blog for the first time since taking a hiatus. I’m not going to rehash this, but if you want to know why I was out, you may read about here. As with most of blogs, my wife likes to read them as well. It’s not that she finds them incredibly interesting or witty but rather she is checking my grammar and writing ability, since she fancies herself an English teacher. (Fun Fact: she’s an English teacher) 

So last week, after she told me that she read my latest blog and I asked her what she thought, she said that it was a bit more serious and somber than my usual posts and it seemed like I wasn’t trying to be funny and stupid. 

She was right. My last post was a bit of a serious entry and a departure from my normal writing style. Some may have been turned off by it. It’s like going to a heavy metal concert and the band decides to play a power ballad or some lame ass shit and everyone decides it’s a good time to go take a piss and grab another beer. 

Speaking of beer… 

Back in college, I had this amazing history professor. I remember the first day of class when I met him. He looked like your stereotypical history professor, right down to the tweed jacket with suade elbow pads.  

As professors invariably do on the first day of class, all he covered was the semester ground rules and the syllabus. He ended the class by saying that we were going to have fun, and history was great, but not as great as Guinness and that the dark stout was proof that there is a god and he loved us. 

Okay, so he was a horrible professor and probably an alcoholic, but it was the easiest ‘A’ in history I ever received. He was also a nice guy and I would bump into him every once and awhile at a bar by school. HUGE SURPRISE! 

So, it was right around this time in my life that I learned that imbibing in a merry brew or other assorted potent potable could be more about just getting black out drunk. An alcoholic beverage or two (or five) could be savored and paired with other things, enhancing the experience. 

For example, sipping a fine whiskey and smoking a cigar is pretty nice and not douchey at all! I can drink wine and eat cheese, olives, cured meats, and bread all day long, every day. Want a little advice, drizzle some honey on the cheese and shove that right in your face—you will not be disappointed.  

I even started drinking beer for the taste and to enjoy the craftmanship that went into the brewing process. Look at me! I have become so civilized. 

Given that life has become so busy now with two children in the house, I have found myself having to multitask the things I love. A cold beer or a stiff drink helps me to unwind after a long day as does a gaming session. Combining the two should be a match made in heaven as far as I’m concerned.  

However, some games pair better with certain drinks. For example, one wouldn’t drink a cabernet sauvignon with beluga caviar, unless he was some kind of CAVEMAN. We are civilized people here after all. 

So, for my totally unscientific and completely arbitrary study, I looked at some of the games I’ve been playing for approximately the past 12 months and paired them with the drinks that I feel make the most sense. To top off each entry, I will then regale you with an anecdote from my past where I drank too much of said drink, making a complete fool out of myself or perhaps experienced something whimsy. 

So, in not any particular order… PROST! 

Titanfall 2  Guinness 

Titanfall is a fine title, with a surprisingly good single player campaign, with a deep, satisfying, and balanced multiplayer. Whenever I’m in the mood for multiplayer, this is the title I turn to. 

Guinness, as it turns out, is always the drink that I return to as well. Beer is my drink of choice and I drink a lot of it. I’m not shy when it comes to trying new brands, because variety is the spice of life. With that said, there’s something comforting about Guinness. It’s a good standby that never disappoints, much like Titanfall 2. 

Back in my college days, I would visit a close friend who attended a different school up state. He was friendly with the rugby team and every year I was invited up to a big fund-raising bash where they would serve $3 pints of Guinness. However, since my buddy was close with the team, we didn’t pay a dime and got to drink as much as we wanted. What could possibly go wrong with that scenario? 

We started drinking promptly at noon and in a flash, we were having a good time. Eventually a pretty girl caught my eye and we struck up a conversation. Maybe there was a smooch or two at some point and she invited me outside for a smoke. Things were starting to get… interesting. 

I followed her out and she handed me her pack of cigarettes and a lighter. I lit two cigarettes up at once and handed her one, because I was cool and shit, and we continued the conversation. Then, in mid conversation, while we were standing in the middle of a parking lot, she reaches up under her skirt, drops down her panties, squats down and proceeds to take a piss, right in front of me. 

“WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?” I asked, clearly appalled.  

“Uh, peeing.” The girl nonchalantly slurred. 

I backed away and went back into the bar. Found my friend and told him we had to leave right, fucking, now. 

For the rest of the weekend, I was known as the guy who hooked up with the parking lot pisser. 

Madden NFL 18 – $3.00 40 oz. can of Bud Light from a NYC Pharmacy 

I used to play a lot of Madden football back in the day. It was almost like a signaling of the gaming season restarting after a summer off. The release of a new Madden meant that fun new games would be coming out soon and playing mindless video game FOOTBAAAAAW was a perfect primer to get back into playing regularly. Then I realized how mediocre these games were and took a 5-year pass on the series. 

I took a shot at the series again this year to play the Longshot story mode. While it was surprisingly fun and added a little something different, a part of me still feels like the title was not worth $60 I paid for it. 

The problem with NFL Madden 18, and all the previous titles before it, is that the franchise is hopelessly average, and this is coming from someone who is a football fan. The changes that come out year after year are so evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, that it is hard to get excited about it.  

With that said, people continue to buy this title year after year, so this franchise will never go away. There can be a thermonuclear war that wipes out civilization and EA will still find a way to release a new Madden. The only things that will be left are Twinkies, cockroaches, and new copies of Madden every year. MARK MY WORDS! 

In a way, Bud Light, which is the most blatantly mediocre of beers is the perfect match for the mostly blatantly mediocre of videogames. 

Know what else will be left after a nuclear apocalypse? Stock piles of cheap, watered down, yet surprisingly nasty, Bud Light. 

I used to work in New York City and had to commute in from New Jersey. That meant early mornings and late evenings commuting back and forth. The company I was working for was horrible, so the highlight of my day was buying the cheapest 40 oz. can of beer from the Duane Reade Pharmacy located in the bowels of Penn Station, and drinking it from a brown bag (CLASSY) during my train ride home. More often than not, the cheapest beer would be Bud Light. On rough days I would buy two cans and get sufficiently buzzed. I did this every day after work, and then found myself drinking regularly on weekends for no reason to boot. Finally, after a doctor’s visit for some anxiety, I was told that I was essentially going down the path of becoming an alcoholic, so it was time to cut down on the drinking. 

I eventually found a better job closer to home, working with Lizard People pretending to be humans, but I really didn’t cut down on the drinking, because my co-workers were so unnerving. 

YAY HAPPY STORY!  – Kind-of 

Horizon Zero Dawn – Fine Irish Whiskey 

Horizon Zero Dawn is a gorgeous open world action game that is surprisingly deep and at times wonderfully complex. It can be overwhelming at first glance, but give it some time, enjoy the beautiful graphics, and you’ll get swept away by it. 

Horizon Zero Dawn actually reminds me of the first time I was introduced to fine whiskey. A friend “taught” me how to drink whiskey while enjoying a glass of Johnnie Walker Black. I was told to sip and savor it, instead of drinking it down, enjoying the smoky, oak tinged essence of it. This is quite the departure from doing shots of Irish Mist and chasing it with Guinness, but things change. 

Over the years, I learned to try out different version of whiskies and bourbons. Much like Horizon Zero Dawn, a good whiskey is deep and complex. 

Back during my college days, I was invited by a friend to attend an “authentic” Saint Patrick’s Day party. I’m not sure what made it so authentic, other than we ate a lot off corn beef and cabbage and the drink of choice was primarily top shelf whiskey, chased by cheap beer. 

Anyhow, there are only a couple of things worse than getting drunk on whiskey. I now know that whiskey makes you into an angry, belligerent, stupid drunk, and you will have the worst hangover the following day.  Case and point, the party went from fun to a borderline brawl in just a couple of hours.  

My friend, of pure Irish heritage, who already had too much to drink decided that he would feel so much better if he just threw up. This is a perfectly fine idea when one had too much drink and knows it. The problem is, he decided to purge from out of the opening of a second story barn window. There is nothing more majestic than watching an Irishman vomit out beer, whiskey, and half digested corned beef and cabbage out of a second story barn window and onto a crowd of angry drunk men below.  

It is a sight that I will remember for the rest of my life, up there with seeing the Grand Canyon, Saint Peter’s Basilica, and the birth of both my children. 

Sonic Mania  Bartles and Jaymes Wine Coolers 

After years of miss steps, an honest to goodness Sonic was released that pays homage to the original while omitting human girl on anthropomorphic hedgehog action. 

Playing this game reminds me of my youth. I was 11-years-old when the first Sonic the Hedgehog came out on the Sega Genesis. Sonic Mania takes all of the good that I remembered from the original and none of the bad. It effortlessly infuses old with new creating a great modern take on the speedy side scroller. 

1991 was also around the time that I was introduced to illicit alcohol in the form Bartles and Jaymes wine coolers.  

I vividly remember a warm afternoon in the summer of ’91 playing Sonic the Hedgehog with my friends when the trouble maker of the group (not me, I swear) asked if we wanted to sneak some booze from his father’s garage fridge.  

We all thought this was a splendid idea and road our bikes over to his garage and each of us helped ourselves to a refreshing bottle of Bartles and Jaymes wine coolers. We then road over to a secluded section of a nearby playground and started sipping on our wine coolers, just like grown-ups do. 

Know what else grown-ups do? They smoke, and my friend had that covered too. He swiped a few cigarettes from his grandmother and we all lit up. Man, we were so cool drinking our wine coolers and smoking Virginia Slims in the playground.  

One of my friends, took a swig of wine cooler and had a loooong satisfying drag from his cigarette, he looked at me, and winked, almost to say that life doesn’t get much better than this… and then he vomited his Bartles and Jaymes wine cooler all over himself. My other friend did the same. Me and another managed to compose ourselves, but just barely. I rode my bike home, went to my room and skipped dinner that night, complaining of a stomachache. 

I wish I could say that I learned a valuable lesson that day and never had a drink or a cigarette again, but then I would be lying. 

Destiny 2 – Vodka & Red Bull 

 

Destiny 2 is my new infatuation. I enjoyed the first one, but it got old for me fast. Then one day I put down the original and never played it again. The new raids and DLC couldn’t even draw me back in. I can see that this is not going to be the case for Destiny 2. 

I don’t know if it is the inclusion of a semi competent if unoriginal story, which the first game lacked entirely, or the more streamlined leveling system, but this game has its hooks in me. I think about all day, waiting for the moment to have some free time to play. On the weekends, I’ll play late into the night, having to squeeze in just one more raid, one more patrol, one more public event, or just one more visit to the traveler.  If only there was a drink that could me sufficiently buzzed yet get me wired up at the same time so that I can continue playing into the wee hours. 

Do people still drink Vodka and Red Bull? The entire concept of mixing a depressant (vodka) with a stimulant (Red Bull) seems like a bad idea. Just the thought of drinking a Vodka and Red Bull now makes my heart palpitate. In the late 90’s and early aughts however, Vodka and Red Bull was just what the doctor ordered when hitting the clubs—that and Ecstasy.  

I wasn’t a big club goer but there was a short time where me and friends frequented them. It seemed like that was what everyone did back in the late 90’s and early aughts. Even if you weren’t into dancing, or hated dance music, you still went to a club, at least that was the case for me and my friends. 

Back in the day, there was three solid choices in New York City to go clubbing. There was the Limelight, which was perfect if you were a moody goth. The club was a converted church and they played dark trance music mostly. There was a legend there that clubgoers who went to the Limelight were at risked at getting poked by someone a with a hypodermic needle. Once you realized what was going on, a mysterious person would then hand you a black rose and whisper in your ear, “welcome to my nightmare.”  Legend has it, the needle was infected with HIV. Even if this is not true and just an urban legend, that is seriously fucked up. We didn’t go to the Limelight that much. 

There was the aptly named Sound Factory, which was your typical mega club that catered to mostly the bridge and tunnel crowd. There was a very good chance of bumping into your stereotypical Bobby Bachagaloop, Tony Bagadonuts, and their whole entourage from Long Island there. Make inadvertent eye contact with one of them, just for a millisecond, and they were ready to fight because you must be some kind of a “queerah.” Glance at one of their girlfriends and they were ready to fight because you also must be some kind of a “queerah,” which makes no sense to me, but apparently makes perfect sense to a coked-up juicehead from Ronkonkoma.  

Of course, there were a bunch of underground clubs that were super exclusive and normally required you to wait online for hours just to get turned away when you got to the door.  Fuck those places.  

Then there was the Culture Club, which was just kitschy stupid fun. This place was a theme club, essentially playing revamped 80’s dance tunes that were kicked up a notch as well as run of the mill dance and electronica. People went there just to have fun and there was very rarely any trouble. Seeing packs of girls on a bachelorette party was common, as were 21st birthday parties, and tourists. It was one of the few clubs where I felt relatively safe from juice heads from “Strong Island,” deranged psychopaths with dirty hypodermic needles, and Paris Hilton look-a-likes asking me if I had any coke. 

One night, while partying at the culture club, I already had a bunch of Vodka and Red Bulls in me, as well as god knows what else, all I know was I feeling incredibly euphoric and felt a kinship with everyone around me.  

Around 3:00 AM, the fire alarm goes off, the house lights come on, and everyone is ushered out by security into the streets. We were told that the club won’t be reopening for the night. Feeling a bit hungry, my group, and a lot of other club goers, made our way to street vendors selling your typical dirty water dogs, pretzels, and knishes.  

Nothing hits the spot better after a night of clubbing than street food. According to my friend, I struck up a merry conversation with two gentlemen dressed up as Boy George and Billy Idol. Who knows, they could have actually been Boy George and Billy Idol, I was too drunk and high to know any better.   

I have no idea what we spoke about, but according to multiple accounts, I bought both of them hotdogs and we talked about politics and sports for almost an hour. 

So, what are your favorite drink and game pairings? Have any depraved drinking incidents? Share them in the comments. 

Humble Bundle Acquired by IGN

Humble Bundle, the popular retailer of gaming relating products that has raised a significant amount of money for various charitable causes has been bought out by IGN.

For those who are concerned that this acquisition is going to have a negative effect, Humble Bundle CEO, Jeffrey Rosen promises that it will be business as usual at the retailer.

In a blog post, Rosen noted that Humble Bundle will “keep our own office, culture, and amazing team with IGN helping us further our plans.”

[Source: Humble Bundle Blog]

The Ataribox is Not Going to be Cheap

Information regarding the Ataribox has been relatively limited lately, but there are a few interesting nuggets to be found in a recent e-mail newsletter from the company.

For what its worth, the console  will ship with an AMD customized processor with Radeon graphics, according to a VetnureBeat interview with Ataribox creator and general manager Feargal Mac Conuladh. “The machine will run the kind of games that a mid-range PC can do today, but it won’t run Triple-A games that require high-end PC performance.”

The machine is also not going to be cheap, with a planned price tag $250-$300 (£185-£225). Fans who are involved in the Indiegogo campaign will also have access to special editions and exclusive pricing, however.

My take, the hardware itself looks beautiful, in all its retro wood goodness, but your $300 will be better spent on a PS4 or Xbox One.

[Source: VentureBeat]

Voice Actor Confirms New Wolfenstein in the Works

Wolfenstein: The New Order, was a more than competent game and quite enjoyable. It also sold well. Take all those things into account and a sequel is usually a given.

According to a Two Left Sticks interview with voice actor Brian Bloom, who voiced B.J. Blackowicz in Wolfenstein: The New Order in 2014, a sequel is definitely in the works.

According to Bloom, “If you look at Bethesda’s E3 2016 lineup there was a title hinted at in a cool way. It sparked a bit of wildfire.  That subtle, very simple DOS language, going through the titles. Perhaps we’re working on that as we speak.”

He’s referring to this:

People smarter than me took this image as proof that something was in the works back in June during at Bethesda’s E3 event. Well, it appears those people were right.

Also, video game voice actors are really bad at keeping things secret.

Look What’s Just Laying Around Nintendo’s Storage Closets

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I don’t speak or read Japanese, but a picture is worth a thousand words.

Nintendo of Japan has pulled back the curtain bit in a blog post showing off some storage closets containing their classic consoles and peripherals from the 1980’s. The kicker is that these devices are PRISTINE and still in original packaging.

I bet they still have that new console smell.

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Why You Should Never Trust Someone that Wears a Suit Without a Tie – A Stupid Theory

The 1960s, like today, were very turbulent times. As legend has it, back in 1965, Jack Weinberg, leader of the Free Speech Movement told a reporter from the San Francisco Chronicle, that he didn’t trust anyone over the age 30. Well, I’m over 30, and you can trust me, but do you know who shouldn’t trust? People who wear suits without a ties and this is a fact.

I will be level with you and fully admit that I despise the concept of suits. They are uncomfortable and restricting. They serve little purpose and are not practical.

Tuxedos on the other hand are awesome.  Whenever I wear a tux, I feel like a super spy, adept at firearms, martial arts, and seducing female Russian spies with my penis. I’m pretty sure that’s how espionage works.

There are instances when one has to wear a suit. I wear suits on only three occasions; weddings, funerals, and job interviews. I go to so many funerals, that my suit pockets are filled with memorial cards of deceased relatives only to be rediscovered at the weddings of living relatives.

One of the worst thing about suits is the tie. I feel like I’m being strangled whenever I wear one. I curse the man who invented the necktie. According to Wikipedia, the necktie was invented by Croatians (who I am no longer a fan of):

“The modern necktie spread by Europe during the time of the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648) when Croatian mercenaries from the Croatian Military Frontier in French service, wearing their traditional small, knotted neckerchiefs, aroused the interest of the Parisians. Due to the slight difference between the Croatian word for Croats, Hrvati, and the French word, Croates, the garment gained the name “cravat” (“cravate” in French). The boy-king Louis XIV began wearing a lace cravat about 1646, when he was seven, and set the fashion for French nobility. This new article of clothing started a fashion craze in Europe; both men and women wore pieces of fabric around their necks. From its introduction by the French king, men wore lace cravats, or jabots, that took a large amount of time and effort to arrange.”

And you know what? They still take a long time to arrange, but they are a necessary evil. If you are going to go through the effort of putting on a suit, one should go all out and wear a tie to have a “put together” look. I SUFFER FOR FASHION!

However, we’ve entered an age where more and more men are going around in suits without ties.  There’s something disconcerting about this. World leaders, businessmen, and executives alike have started donning suits without tie. This bothers me to no end.

A man in a suit without a tie looks sloppy and incomplete and should not be trusted.  Perhaps these men do this because they are trying to seem hip and loose. “Hey look at me! Look how cool I am. Sure, I’m wearing a suit,  but I’m cool because I’m not wearing a tie.”

But you’re actually not cool. You know who wore a tie every day of his life? Sinatra, and every member of the Rat Pack. When they told a lady friend that they were going to slip into something more comfortable, then would change out of a suit they were wearing and put on another suit!

See that images above? That’s the Rat Pack at a pajama party.

So where am I’m going with this?

I’ve noticed something disconcerting over the past few years when it comes to Sony’s press conferences. Something that has been occurring for years, and its bothers me to no end. Sony executives never ever wear ties with their suits.

It’s no surprise that Sony has lost a bit of cred with the gaming community. Look at them. They’re completely untrustworthy and they are not getting another penny from me until they either start wearing ties like the corporate shills that they are or embrace being phony casual, like the poser corporate shills at every other tech company.

Whether it’s the release of the over-hyped yet underwhelming No Man’s Sky, or raising the price of PSN, or the uninspired PlayStation 4 Pro, they have not been inspiring me lately and each announcement is made by a man in a suit without a tie.

On the other hand, Microsoft is showing that it truly cares for gamers and has turned over a new leaf.  No Microsoft executive has donned a suit, let alone a suit without a tie for quite some time. No wonder people are getting excited by what they are doing. One just needs to look at Phil Spencer and subconsciously feel like they can be trusted.

Don’t believe me? Think back to the last time an Xbox executive stepped out in a suit without a tie.

Need I say more?

Disclosure: This is my first attempt in fanboy conspiracy theory rabble raising.  Did I do this right?