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.