Friday, December 17, 2010

Getting Buff

Last night I learned that my husband has a level 82 character on a server that I am not a part of. After I recovered from my WoW envy, I felt a twinge of guilt that he has been part of this virtual world for so long without me understanding. After this revelation and setting an awesome new Macros for my kitty the party set off to repeat a dungeon that I missed when my computer was being temperamental last week.

I should say before I discuss my play last night that we arrived home from a day at Disneyland at 6pm. After we got home, I taught my Thursday night yoga class. After teaching I got home at 9pm, sang to my daughter and logged into Terenes for scheduled questing.

As we moved forward I died- - a lot. I could blame it on our healer but really it is my own damn fault for pulling agro when I am the lowest level character in the guild. After my second death John reprimanded me and let me know to wait until he drew the enemies before I attack. Even though I knew it would quickly bring death part of me wanted to charge ahead even more. Instead I took my hands off my keyboard and waited for him to verbally say so before I charged forward. I knew before that I did not possess patience but waiting in the wings before I can beat guys up was horrible.

Aside from Johns secret leveling I learned a few things last night. The first is that I need to eat before I play so I am not grumpy. The second is that I cannot be the lowest person in the guild because I like to bait fights way too much. The final lesson for me is that I need to accept my role in a team a little more humbly instead of holding everyone back by dying over and over. This is the same group that replayed the same dungeon for me, yet again, just because they are awesome. And here I was running off when I am with a group of people who know what they are doing. Since I am a bit of a control freak, it is hard being in a situation where I am the least experienced. To resolve my feelings of inadequacy I need to level up so I can more effectively just play the muscle.

Friday, December 10, 2010

My First Time = No Stamina

Last night I shared my first guild experience. I had high expectations for my first time and really thought after one raid I would rue slow paced questing. It was a memorable first dungeon but more because of the company than the play. Because I was still level 15 on this server we got stuck in the Wailing Caverns dungeon and it was lame, luckily I leveled up quick and we could move on.

The dungeon experience was tainted for me because I faced several annoying logouts due to my overheating laptop. Once I leveled up we moved on to Shadowfang Keep and my computer decided it was to tired to let me play a better dungeon. At this point I was ready to just vege and watch some Vampire Diaries. Since I am an awesome wife, I let my hubby finish his boss fight before I watched his angsty vampire show so he could join in.

My first time did not rock my world but playing with real-life people was a memorable experience that I hope will last longer next time.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Perfect Pair

Travel Form was worth the lack of sleep. However, having a partner that can’t keep up makes it less useful. I keep offering to grant a level so that John can ride a horse but he doesn’t want to get too far ahead of me.

I finally have WoW professions for my Druid. I chose herbalism and skinning because I can just collect stuff.

My plan was to quest while the kids napped today. But my kiddos never napped. So instead I waited until john got home, we took a family walk around the local path for a few miles. The kiddos both feel asleep at 7:30 and we got our two hours of questing without neglecting sleep. Needless to say I feel productive.

Today we were productive in pairs. John wrote two papers, we each leveled twice, we walked two miles and played WoW for two hours. Overall a great day.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Will Travel Form be less impressive in the Morning?

My plan after yoga this evening to go to sleep early has been thwarted. With the elemental attacks going on at Kilrog I had to play WoW for just a few minutes. If you know what the heck I am talking about you likely also realize that just a few minutes is not what happened.

Basically there are cool mini-tornados swirling around waiting to get beat up by me in kitty form. Since I am starting my third server in three weeks, I am only at level 18. However, that is good enough to get both travel and sea form. I can turn into not only a cat but also a cat that runs fast and a cat-like creature that can breathe under water. I am almost ready to admit that John is right and we are not going to make to level 80 by the expansion. But I have not given up entirely.

The point of this brief and fruitless post this evening is that my I did not get extra sleep, grade or do dishes. I just spent the last 3 +hours playing WoW. I feel that my new abilities in game and 5 gained levels are a means of productivity. I wonder when I wake up early tomorrow to bright eyed toddlers and a long to-do list if Travel Form will seem as impressive?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

WoW vs. Grading

Because of the time of year my progress in WoW is a slow going. John has final papers, math labs & I have a mound of end of the quarter grading. Once the kiddos are asleep I am faced with a daily dilemma.

I started a new Druid last night and dragged John along for the ride. We found that he can successfully write portions of a paper with WoW minimized, unless I draw agro and then he needs to jump in and help instead of just follow. We joined Kilrog & John is getting back in the habit auctioning again so we don’t go broke. We are both arguing about how far we can level our characters during the winter break so I will keep you posted on how we are doing.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Intro to Video Game Studies & Married Life

In the winter quarter at California State University, Bakersfield I am teaching a course titled "Introduction to Video Game Studies." I am upping my gaming research IE gameplay time. It always seems to bring a spark into my marriage when I re-commit my spare time to gaming.

I started WoW on October 30th (after a 6 year hiatus) and I am working on my second Druid. I am currently at level 12 and only walking around in cat form. Things are slow going because of time limitations but John playing in a party with me is helping me level quickly. I work all day on a Mac but have been playing at home on a PC and the short cuts and typing are a bitch. I have almost got my interface right and then I work all day on a smaller computer and feel like I am back at square one.

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We plan to resume finishing up Tomb Raider co-op soon. I planned to wait until I was done with grading but that seems to be a pile I will never get under. So instead we are looking more optimistically at this weekend.

If you have suggestions about fun games to play side-by-side please pass them along. We may have completed our 100 days but the quest to remain a happily gaming couple forges on.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Boone Marriage is Saving the World

Jane McGonigal presented her research at TED on how gaming can save the world.  She challenged the world to play video games "21 billon hours a week." What basically equates to us all playing one hour a day.  It seems that my husband and I are well on our way to saving the world!

I quoted Jane in my Masters thesis because she is the best kind of gaming researcher: a scholar that writes and plays.  I am a public speaking teacher who was so impressed by this presentation that I think everyone should watch it.  If you read my blog you should watch this video, twenty minutes may seem like a long time but her research is amazing. 

Hero Hiatus

John and I decided together that finals week should take precedence over our daily play.  So we are a few days behind.  With God of War, Final Fantasy and Heavy Rain all sitting and awaiting completion we will now add a few Urgent Evoke games to our queue.  I actually had to take Final Fantasy to bed with me last night to curb John’s temptation.

Jane is Sexy

On a shallower note: I love Jane McGonigal’s boots and dress in her TED presentation.  Kudos to Jane for her brilliant research and proving that geeky gamers can be sexy. 

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

My PS3 is glitch-free but Heavy Rain is Random

Last night I accidentally killed a religious schizophrenic.  In real life I have never shot a gun but during the game Heavy Rain multiple option pop on the screen and you have to act quickly or you might be killed, maimed or loose the chance to catch the killer.  I quickly pushed a button not realizing it was the “shoot him” option.  I was horrified which was only lessened by the fact my character was horrified as well.

I also changed a diaper and fed a baby in the game last night.  This is the only game you can shoot someone in the face and then rock a baby to sleep ten minutes later.  I controlled the game for almost 2 hours last night before John nicely asked if he was going to get a turn?  You do not realize how much time has passed when you pulled in so many different directions.

I have mentioned before that it helps to play with partner who can prompt you on which button to press.  My skills of shouting commands can use some refinement.  Luckily john presses buttons before I talk out loud or our characters would all be dead already.

My only complaint so far is that loading times are taking longer.  I would whine about this more but I am just grateful to have a slim PS3 and not face the “glitch” or rather the online connection of death that other Sony customers faced this week.

When we finally went to bed we had unraveled so many plot twists that we were not as sleepy as usual.  We dozed right off but we were not zombies as we stumbled up the stairs: the random plot twists had our minds reeling.   

Friday, February 26, 2010

Heavy Rain is Tricky: SPOILER ALERT!

Heavy Rain is on the agenda again.  For our daily martial gameplay I came prepared with my yoga strap to stretch while John completed mundane tasks and I waited for my turn with the controller.  Instead the game picked up.  I would play for a few minutes and as soon as I felt the slightest tinge of annoyance a new cinema scene would begin. 

The cinema scenes were short but riveting.  Just long enough to keep me addicted to the game and want to complete a few more monotonous real-life activities to gain another piece of the puzzle. 

Saying I like to read is like saying most people like to breathe.  I usually read about one work of fiction a week and really like mysteries (especially if they have vampires in them).  John and I like to read books together to try and foresee the plot twists.  This game has so many clues and so much happening that so far nothing seems remotely clear.


When one of the main characters sons goes missing (with a serial killer of young boys on the loose) obviously the dad goes to the police.  The police question the dad (which you control) and you have to try and remember what your kid was wearing.  It never occurred to me to pay close attention to his attire while I was trying to figure out how to push a swing by holding multiple buttons in sequence. 

It is a little amusing that I am so eager to get back to a game and get more details when really I have only uncovered as much as I would already know from watching a trailer.  The game is tricky because you think you know what the next task will be but it not predictable at all. 

The music really helps make the game feel like a movie.  A slow and sometimes frustrating movie but as someone who has read 500 pages of a book before it got good I do have some patience.  It is exciting playing a game that might become a new genre.  In a few years if games like Heavy Rain continue perhaps it will be easier to predict what comes next.  For today, this game is tricky because its amazing developers have managed to really think outside the box. 

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Heavy Rain makes me Sleepy

We played heavy rain for almost two hours last night.  The first few scenes of the game are very slow and monotonous.  It does give you a chance to adjust to the controls.  But since we have been playing Gears switching to a game that is more task oriented is a little annoying.  The awesome music, cool concept and story still have me hooked.  

It helps to have two sets of eyes when playing Heavy Rain.  The game is a murder mystery and so while one person is moving around a partner can direct and keep their eyes open for details that could be important later. 

Two sets of eyes in a lifelike setting can also be confusing.  While John played I instructed him as an in game task to “check the fridge.”  Then I switched to real life mode and suggested he “turn on the dishwasher before he goes to bed.”  John in the game walked over to the dishwasher and remarked that he could not figure it out?  I chuckled and realized that getting John to take out the garbage would be much easier if I could just link it to a video game.

Our original approach to this game was to divvy up the four main characters.  We thought we would switch turns when our player became an option.  We quickly reverted to changing when each person got bored after about 20 minutes.  The opening scene requires you to dress, shave, shower, look around the house and yard and unlike Gears there is not running or speed increase.  In fact some actions, like shaving or setting a table with fine China, must be done uber slowly in order to be completed.

I had hoped after two hours to be further along in this game.  Since the game is so story driven and there are no take-backs John and I are committed to experiencing each aspect together.  After two hours of in game rain and lifelike activities that bore me in real life I went straight to bed and conked out.  I felt a little bad for being so sleepy but John feel asleep on the couch ten minutes later.  I thought John was up again watching ice-skating (yup my man loves him some ice dancing) but this morning he confessed he feel asleep too. 

I knew rain made me sleepy but a game with rain in the background?  Who needs nightquil or ambient sound machines when you can just play a game for a few hours and fall asleep almost instantly?  

Monday, February 22, 2010

Conferences, Locusts and Olypmics Oh My!

Day 64 

The last few days we have been killing locust in Gear of War 2

Day 62 Friday: I tried in vain to shoot locust without my glasses 
Day 63 Saturday: We killed locust and reavers while JoAnne Hudson watched 
Day 64 Sunday : We killed locust and then paused to watch ice skating 

Now we are finally at the point in our mission that surpasses where John stopped playing the game solo.  So now we  are moving into the unknown. 

I also decided to submit a paper proposal to NCA about our 100 day project: 

Coming Apart or Coming Together: 100- days of Video Games  

Recent studies have focused on gamers motives for playing video games.  Computer mediated communication in lieu of face-to-face interaction can change the dynamic of an interpersonal relationships.  This study utilizes auto-ethnography to investigate relational development through play.  Focusing on side-by-side video games a married couple will chronicle their 100-days of play to determine if gaming can provide a means for relational maintenance. 

John says he is okay with being an experiment and thinks that I should be blogging more.  So here is a new blog entry and an excuse for me to keep the internet updated on our progress.  

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Gears of War 2 & Lent

Day 60

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday and Inara, Nathan and I attended mass to get our foreheads smeared with holy dust (or just soot depending on who you ask.)   Saint Joseph’s parish was draped in purple and it made me feel like it is truly almost spring.  To keep in the day’s spirit of ash and dust John and I began a new game Gears of War 2.  Gears of War is crass, cinematic and beautiful all at the same time: kind of like me. 

It is strange that we found a new game on the first day of lent.  The irony that we are playing a game that takes place in a wasteland during the sacred days that Jesus walked the dessert are not lost on me. 

Usually I dread lent. It is a season about sacrifice and who likes that?  This year I am seeing the season in a new light.  It is the last 40 required days gaming with my husband. If I had not been raised a catholic I may not have thought to put a counter on our endeavor.

I do not think people should disclose what they are “giving up” or doing for God during lent.  But I am excited to report that John is making a Lenten commitment that forsakes his strict “catholic by association” claims. 

This Lenten season is geared to be different than any predecessor.  One vow I am happy to keep is not returning to Gamestop for a few weeks to try yet another game. 

Monday, February 15, 2010

12 Years without Stealth but Still Gaming

Today we played the demo for Heavy Rain.  It is not a co-op game so we switched off the controller between each different characters point of view.  The game looks and feels more like an interactive movie than any game I have ever experienced.  Heavy Rain showcases how far games have come in such as short period of time. 

The controls are strange but in a good way.  After discarding a handful of games we finally looking forward to a new release.

When East Bakersfield still had a mall there was a toy store called K-B-Toy Store.  The year was 1998 and John and I went to said toystore to buy the first PlayStation version of Metal Gear Solid.   I remember it was like forty dollars in change that we counted out in piles on the counter.  Lori (Johns Mom) went to a department store while we counted the change.  I am not sure if she was embarrassed at our coins or annoyed that we were spending all of our monies on a game. 

After the adventure of buying this much anticipated game we got back to Johns and took turns playing.  I died moments after emerging from the water. Then it was John’s turn.  We learned quickly that this revolutionary new stealth game was not my strength.  It was still fun and exciting to read about a game, talk about a game and then get to sit the day it came out and figure it out together.

Heavy Rain has clunky controls but no stealth required. 

Things are different than they were 12 years ago.  There is no East Hills mall. Instead of gaming buddies, John and I are married with kids.  Instead of tirelessly counting pennies we will just pay to deliver the game to our doorstep. It makes me take pause and wonder how different our world will be in 12 more years? 

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

High Velocity Bowling

John and I have faced many obstacles in finding a co-op game that suits our martial needs.  We have been bouncing back between games since we beat Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2.  Prompted by our professional game advisor Alfred we decided we should look at some sports games. We planned to try out some of the classics like Fifa , NHL or Madden; Before we could get a copy of said classics PS3 free demos took us in a different direction. 

Since the Olympics are right around the corner we started with the Vancouver Winter Olympics.  I have never skied in real-life but if this game is any indication I should stay away from the slopes.  John was upset that figure skating is not even an option on the full game so we decided to move on. 

I have three words for you: High Velocity Bowling. 

Thankfully I faired much better at PS3 bowling then real-life bowling.  We were both completely foreign to the controls for this game and that made it fun to learn together.   It was a welcome change there was no story mode, no major learning curve or enemies to combat.  This was a random fun.  It is like Wii bowling but the controls are different. 

High Velocity Bowling is not a game I would like to play every night but it was a fun change of pace. 

Monday, February 8, 2010

Pause, Rewind and Play


Most people know that about two weeks ago the H1N1 virus knocked me on my keester. I was on quarantine for 5 days and unable to see my kids, play games with my husband or look at any form of light without a blaring headache.  Obviously our 100-day commitment was on pause when I was on quarantine.  For those naysayers who argue we could have played online, please go back and read about my mind-numbing head pain.


Even though I have neglected my blogging we have been playing games.  In fact we finally beat Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2.  Beating our first game in this quest was a curse more than blessing. 

Since its end we have been wavering between new games.  We bought Ghost Busters and Harry Potter: we did not enjoy either.  Both games seemed fun enough but were not made for co-op play.  We settled into old faithful games such as Little Big Planet, Street Fighter and Castle Crashers.  We are still on the prowl for something more substantial and spent an hour at GameStop looking through the shelves with the kiddos in tow.


We have been reading the book series Song for Fire and Ice books together.  We have forsaken all our TV shows to read together (which is no biggie now that Dollhouse has ended).  We lay in bed when the house is quiet and read.  It is notable because the way we interact when we read in juxtaposition to the way we play.  We are still spending time just the two of us but it is more serene and less fun.

Today we bought Dynasty Warriors 6: Empires.  I am blogging and researching while John messes with the controls.  I would be playing but John has not yet “befriended” me.  In this game you have to befriend another character before you can play co-op.  You have to earn a person to fight along side with you; maybe this is the game we have been waiting for since it is about building relationships? Okay, the game is more about hacking and slashing but you have to make at least one friend to play with your wife.


Thanks to Gamestop’s awesome used game return policy if this games stinks we will just revisit the store again tomorrow. 

Monday, January 18, 2010

Do Video Games Damage Relationships?

Day 39

Video games bring people together and that potential is not limited to married couples that play for an hour a day.  Bungi has Halo players equipping emblems to support the Haiti effort.  Without the support of Blizzard players have successfully orchestrated gay pride in the MMORPG World of WarCraft.  The exponential growth of both Xbox live marketplace and Playstation Network are a testament to the interactivity of games.  I think that people who feel neglected by loved ones who play games should pick up a controller and sit beside that loved one (rah-rah video games).

John and I have been looking for video games to play physically together and have found that sophisticated co-op is lacking. The gaming industry is not developing games that nurture strong face-to-face interpersonal skills.  There is a plethora of multi-player games but most are online instead of splitscreen.  There is no shortage of games that provide communicative interfaces, there are far less games that allow players to engage in a close proximity.   

We can play music games like Guitar Hero or Rock Band.  We can play some FPS like Borderlands or Halo. I do not have a Wii, so the option for most party games is out.  I would love to play another adventure game like Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2.

The argument that video games damage relationships may have some merit.  Video games, like other technology are making it easier to connect with acquaintances and forsake those in the same room with us.  Facebook, the Xbox marketplace and MySpace all make it easy to keep in touch with people from different aspects of my life.  Are these technologies, including video replacing real conversations?  I hope soon John and I will find a game that helps us to enjoy our favorite entertainment without forsaking our communication.   

Sunday, January 17, 2010


DAY 38

I owe my husband a real anniversary. 

IE: An occasion where his wife shaves her legs fixes her hair and plays video games with him (without complaint).

I am sick.  So none of the aforementioned anniversary parameters were fulfilled.  John put the kids to bed solo.  Then we played video games while I coughed raggedly and blew my noise between fights.  Sometimes I may be tired, clingy or under the weather but this is a whole nuther shebang.  I am gross snotty sick and feel like my head is surrounded by a fishbowl. 

The last few days other folks have supportively reminded me that I need to get home to play that one-hour.  It is nice to know I do not blog in vain and that others are rooting for us.  When Lori reminded me today, I felt a pang of guilt for what a shitty co-op partner I am tonight.  Especially considering John had the season finale of Dollhouse queued during the kids naptime.

I felt both sad and old simultaneously watching a fourth Joss show come to an end.  I was anticipating a guest appearance by Felicia Day but she was nowhere to be seen?  The episode was a nice anniversary surprise by John and Joss and really was the highlight of my day.    

The bottom line is that my husband is ridonkulassly awesome and that I owe him big time.


The 7 Year Itch

Day 37 

At this time of day 7 years ago I was getting married to John.  Last night on the eve of our anniversary we celebrated the Cude wedding.  After the wedding reception we picked up the kids from the in-laws and after tucking them into bed played some Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2.  The wedding nostalgia made me want to stay up all night and play video games but my snotty cold had other plans. 

Last night we played for an hour before my coughing got too distracting.  I thought once we hit the 7-year landmark I might be a little itchier.  Luckily I may be sick but I am not itchy.   

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Is Blogging Good for My Marriage?

I started this blog to keep me accountable to not abandon our 100 days of play.  This journal is also a place to vent or share any martial epiphanies.  One question that I never thought to reflect is if blogging is good for my marriage?

Today John remarked that sometimes he finds this blog witty but inaccurate (ok I called my blog witty and he called it inaccurate.)  My reply was that John should respond candidly to my blog; but he said that to do so “is rude.”  I am having a hard time imagining how responding to a blog about your own marriage is rude?

My blog discusses the kids, our sleeping patterns along with the games we play.  Would it be better if this blog was dedicated to a discussion of games? 

I will be the first to admit that I am not a gaming journalist or ludologist. The few hits I get would quickly dissipate if I tried to formulate more technical articles.  My goal for the project was never to get hits.  If you are still reading at this point, you are probably thinking that you might read one CCB technical review just for chuckles.   

If you read this blog (husband or otherwise) please feel free to openly comment.  I am a tough chick who is not easily bruised by online remarks. 

Tonight the story in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 got interesting when we re-aligned with the other heroes. The pace of this game is great.  Just when I start to get tired of fighting bad guys we get a new combo, outfit or interest plot twist/cinema scene.  I am sad we are almost done with this game and am eager to find something similar to take its place next in our roster.  

When I Grow Up...

Day 35 

Inara goes to school at OLG (Our Lady of Guadalupe) and this week is vocation week.  Today she had to dress as what she wants to be when she grows up?  She told me and John that she wants to study the ocean and look for “Ariel, and flounder and Ursula…” but “marine biologist” has to many syllabuses for her to say correctly. John tried to teach her to say “Jacque Cousteau” to no avail.  For her costume we let her wear her “this is what a feminist looks like” shirt with her tulle Ariel mermaid skirt (close enough.) 

It was this morning that I realized something obvious:  John & I are officially grownups. 


Watched WWE and Buffy 

Played games

Ate chex mix


Watch Dollhouse, Yo Gabba Gabba and Supernatural

Play video games (when we are not stuck playing Barbies)

Eat whatever they sell at Costco (but more than one carb filled food group)

Life seems more complicated.  When I grew up I wanted to be a wife, mother and college graduate (done, done and done.)  It is all very surreal.  Some days I wake up and think that my kids are too cute to be mine and must belong to someone who is coming to claim them at any moment.  John is such a breathe of fresh air it as though we just met yesterday and are still in the honeymoon phase. 

After playing games last night with the kids all tucked in bed I realized: I am exactly where I wanted to be when I grew up.    But now I am craving some Chex mix in a bad way. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Drool & Stinky Gym Shorts

Day 34

Well my last post talked about romance and so will this post will do the same (of sorts.)

We are still playing Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2.  I was very tired when we finally got to our mission.  John realized midway that he wanted to change characters.  I decided to rest my eyes for a moment while he selected and I dozed off.  John did not realize I was sleeping but was curious why The Thing was inert on the screen.  I remember John tapping on the crown of my head with the Xbox controller.  Then I delicately blotted a dainty amount of saliva that had accrued on my cheek and we resumed play.  

According to John I wiped the back of my wrist like a sailor who just finished a tall frosty pint.  His account of the moment is completely inaccurate.

When we finished playing I went straight up to bed.  John walked me upstairs and I realized he was still wearing his gym clothes: which stunk.  Stunk might be an understatement, those shorts could viably belong to a street person who does not have access to luxuries like soap.  I batted my eyes and politely suggested that my adorable husband might be more “alluring” if he bathed before he came to bed. 

If you started out reading this post thinking by romance I was going to describe a Tom and Meg scene then you are starkly mistaken  (and you a have never read this blog before.) What made my account today romantic is that even though my husband was smelly, to me he was still the most amazing man ever.  And though it might have burned my sinuses I would have slept beside him stinky and all because he is so amazing.  Loving someone enough that even after stinky gym shorts and drool you are still attracted to that person is to me the best kind of romance. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Real Life Romance

DAY 33

Last night after finally taking down the Christmas tree we played Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2.  I did not make it the full hour of playing co-op.  Instead John played a level of Bayonnetta while I did my yoga hip sequence.  Little did I know that luring john to bed early I thwarted his plans to ambush me with an anniversary game.  This morning on the way to work he initiated his contingency plan.

My husband is the most romantic guy alive. He bought me gourmet chocolate and inside the box hid a puzzle to my next wedding anniversary gift.  I always let him do the sequence puzzles when we play co-op, now this is my chance to get better at puzzles and hopefully get more presents.  

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Achievement Whore

When we play games I am usually the muscle.  Basically I take all the major damage and fight the biggest nastiest thing.  Today our task required destroying turrets all of which my character pounded until they collapsed.  After all that agro I discovered that Xbox does not give me achievements when I play co-op with John?  John gets points but I do not.  Yes, I am signed in while we play. 

This is a lot like real life.  People often clash with my personality because I am the verbal muscle.  John is a very laid back person who rarely speaks up.  I am the person who tells stories, gets rid of telemarketers and asks forthright questions. 

This morning at breakfast my grandma tried to Jedi mind trick the waiter at Tina Marie’s to get her coffee for almost 10 minutes.  The moment he made eye contact with me for a millisecond I remarked that my grandmother was likely to “go crazy without a cup of coffee.”  My grandma blushed at my remark but she grinned ear to ear when they brought that cup.

I am an underappreciated co-op partner, breakfast partner and wife.  It is not fun always being the muscle but someone has got to do it.  I am not saying my social role is horrible but the perceptions that accompany being the pushy wife are not fun.  In video games I should at least get my achievement points but no.  Damn you Microsoft, for shame.  

Yesterday my sis and I took our kiddos for a day trip to Griffith Park Observatory.  John spent the day at the campus doing math proofs.  We all had dinner for my cousin Nicks birthday and we barely made it to our games. 

We played DS while watching IronMan.  After an hour of mini-games we feel asleep.  It was a relaxing prelude to gaming today.

We finally unlocked The Thing today. My next anticipated character is The Hulk. 

Inara woke up from her nap and found John & I playing Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2.   She demanded that John use Spiderman.  Even though that was not the best choice for our level, she was adamant.  She also explained that we need The Hulk.  We thought she was just listing names of superheroes.  Then she got the box and pointed to the Hulk in case she thought we misunderstood.  

My 3-year-old daughter knows more about Marvel comics than I do.  Recent movies have bolstered my knowledge of characters like Daredevil considerably but I am nowhere near John expertise.   It is interesting to see what the future holds for our little Marvel protégé.

I am off to start another vampire book and retire to bed.   

Friday, January 8, 2010

Choosing Sides

Tonight we played Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 and got to choose a side.  We are rebelling against the registration act and teaming up with Captain America.  The only downside to aligning with Captain America is that I have not been able to play with The Thing.  John was all for being a rebel but I can tell he misses Iron Man just a little.

Part of the fun of this game is playing with the different characters.  I think it is good that we chose a side that forces us to try out new heroes or I would never deviate.  Right now my characters are Wolverine and the Juggernaut.  I also played with Cable today. 

We played well over an hour tonight and it went by quickly because of three things.  The dialogue in this game is pretty darn funny.  Most of the humor is because we met up with Deadpool and he is set to be one of my favorite characters.  Secondly I learned when we are just meandering I can press select and auto follow.  Most importantly time went by quickly because we were having such a good time.

My eyelids are heavy and fingers achy.  I think it is time for my body to rest.  I know Nathan will wake me up soon so I better get a nap in while I can. 

Math Proofs= EVIL

I should start this post by saying that I want John to succeed.  I understand that mathematical proofs demand un-interrupted time and focus. That in order to finish his math credential he needs to complete proofs.  I want that all to happen.

WARNING: From this point forward in today’s post this blog digresses into selfish whining that abandons logic and reasoning.

After only 3 days of the quarter I hate math proofs. There are not enough hours in the day for John to sleep, complete 3 hours of math work, attend classes and play video games with me.  I think that I should fall higher on the food chain than at least sleep? 

This afternoon John accused me of neglecting my gaming commitment?  I answered student emails until midnight last night and got up all night with both kiddos.  I am not saying I mind him sleeping; in all honesty I am usually the first to sleep through the kids crying.  My point is that I am the one who offered to play with him in lieu of sleep and he refused.  I think pointing the finger at me for slowing our play is absolutely unfair.

I hope that this weekend will provide a much needed infusion of time. As I write this I just spotted my still decorated Christmas tree in my periphery that I suppose refutes my “free time” argument.  The goal of this project is to invigorate our marriage not give us another thing to bicker about.  I am confident our 100-day project is not the problem: The problem is that math proofs are evil and are stealing my husband. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Competing with Teenagers

DAY 28

Gaming the last few nights has been racked with interruptions.  We have fallen asleep while playing games two days in a row.  John is eager to play both Bayonetta and finish up Marvel Alliance 2.  He is a little jealous that his teenage cousin who just bought Marvel Alliance 2 is already further along than we are. 

Today Inara requested that we play Little Big Planet.  John let her re-dress his character with the accessories of her choice. Apparently this is a task that she and John have completed before because she had marching orders ready.  First was changing its hair color and then putting his sock-person in a “spiny-dress.” 

We have to be out of the house ever day by 7:15 am. By out of the house I mean all four of us dressed, fed and prepared for the day.  Sleep deprivation has demanded that my blog appear before its usual midnight hour.   It has been a nice hiatus the last few days that allowed me to get my class preparation done & read another vampire book before the quarter started.

Even while prepping for my classes gaming has not been far from my thoughts.  I ran out of juice writing quiz questions and made Jeff Gerstmann of Bombcast a possible answer.  I wonder if my students will google Bombcast or just think I am crazy?  The funny thing is, it is such a wildcard answer some students will probably select it.

We beat another boss in Marvel Alliance 2 and are headed off to bed.  Hopefully we will catch up with those darn insomniac teenagers. 

Saturday, January 2, 2010

High Matenience

John and I spent the majority of our day apart.  Thanks to John’s creativity we now have custom butcher block with my great aunt Honey’s marble cutting stone fit on top.  His project kept him busy all day and me and kiddos continued to help Mema move. 

Tonight I have been a high matenience partner.  I am sick and my voice is so hoarse it is almost completely inaudible. My whole body aches from moving boxes.  If I were an Xbox right now I would be flashing the red ring of death.

Before we played John moved a space heater by the couch and made some of my favorite Trader Joe’s holiday tea.  He scowled when I was not willing to unravel myself from my blanket to share with him.  I offered that we have several other throw blankets but he retorted that he “likes to share.”  I am not in the mood to share my blanket.

You are probably reading this thinking I am a spoiled mean wife.  I hope that my candid admission illustrates my desire to be less whinny.  But if you think I am a spoiled wife you have got me pegged.

Today we played Marvel Alliance 2. John finished Uncharted 2 and he has been itching to see what new characters we had unlocked from our recent MA2 play.  I tried out the Juggernaut for a few minutes but got bored with him and switched back to The Thing after no time at all.

Today gaming for me was a chore.  I love Marvel Alliance 2.  I love John.  But when I am feeling this miserable I do not love playing Marvel Alliance 2 with John.  Marriage and gaming like life has its bad days and today was one of mine.  

Friday, January 1, 2010

2009-My Best

Today John and I watched the Giant Bombcast top ten game picks of 2009.  I have to give Giant Bombcast credit because this year their postcast has stepped up and really filled the gap left when the GFW crew disbanded.  With the economy sucking it seems that good game podcasts are loosing their staying power, so mad props to GB. I was surprised how different the top ten for each reviewer was.  After watching these lists I really want to play Silent Hill and cannot believe that Flower just came out this year (nice pick Brad.)    

As I look back at the year a ton happened and I realized that this year was one of the best of my life.  In spite of the economy I have a career that I love.  With the birth of Nathan we completed our family.  Inara started pre- school and is thriving.  I began regular practice of yoga again. I read over 100 books almost all about vampires. John and I came up with a plan to keep our marriage strong: playing games.

For New Years Eve we played RockBand 2. I lost my voice singing off-key vocals.  It is funny how you think you know a song until you play this game and realize you only know the refrain; last night it was “so watch, watcha, watcha want?”  Luckily intoxicated loved-ones were on hand to sing duets.

I have been spending a lot of time watching John play through Uncharted 2. This was a holiday purchase we thought we would play co-op but then found out there is no split screen. Luckily, Uncharted 2 is more fun to watch then some games are to play.  It would take me forever to beat some of the platform elements of this game but John makes it seem effortless.  It is a lot like watching a James Bond meets Indiana Jones with the main character dying ever so often. Or once you get ambushed in Shangri-La dying frequently.  I find it incredibly amusing that Drake’s companions are so snide.  It is like when Inara and I are sleeping John still needs sarcastic women around.

Thinking back on the last month it amazes me how many different games we have already played.     

Today I naively realized that most gamers are one-trick ponies.  For example, my brother Alfred can play first person shooter on the Xbox blindfolded.  However, he is still working through the first Mario world on his new Wii.  Alfred like most gamers is really good at one kind of game but just dabbles in other genres.  This seems true for most people I know.  They are die-hard WoW, Halo or FIFA fans that are all forces to be reckoned within their respective genre. I am not good at one particular kind of game.  I think it is good that for these 100 days we switch between platforms and genres to find our niche. We are limited by finances but so far borrowing, replay and holidays have allowed variety.

We seem to enjoy Marvel Alliance and Little Big Planet more than other games but we still try other games in our library.  This experiment is about finding more than one game we like to play together.  Each game and system brings up new challenges for us to face together.  Some challenges so far include waiting for me to figure out camera angles or John being an item whore.  The other night we played Elite Beat Agents and had to fight to stay awake while we waited for our games to load.  

Marriage can be boring and part of this experiment is keeping things fun.  I could play Diablo 2 or WoW every day with John for an hour I am not sure it would have the same impact as diversifying our play?     

Diversity aside this month has made me realize my own considerable limitations in regards to gaming. My gaming ambition seems to exceed my skill level.  I regularly listen to gaming podcasts, read GameInformer or check out Kotaku and get excited for upcoming titles.  Often I never get to play said game or if I do loose interest quickly when I suck at it.  

My resolution for the year is, as Echo would say, “to be my best.”  I am going to try to be the best wife, mother, teacher and gamer I can be.  Maybe with daily martial play my skills will start to catch up with my interest.  It will be hard to top 2009 but maybe in 2010 I will suck a little less at first person shooters.