Friday, January 30, 2015

Why I don't just play games for my husband.

Day 23: I can't breathe, but I can play. 

As I write this sentence it is officially two months since I discovered my best friend was keeping secrets.  I made the choice shortly thereafter to begin this experiment, 100 days of gaming, and chose to play my way through the unknown.

As a successful professional woman, I spend my life devoted to my family, and dedicated to my career.  With so many delicate plates to keep spinning it is a wonder I find time for games and blogging.  Admittedly, I am slowly becoming accustomed to the sound of breaking porcelain.  Some have recently questioned if the only reason I play games is to keep my husband happy?  The truth is that some days I play out of obligation, some days I play just for him, other days I cannot wait to abandon RL and have the only challenge in my world for a few hours to move past a goblin or an orc.
Yoga with my adorable kids.

Yoga in spite of my kids. 
 Yesterday was a long day that began at 4am after only a few hours of restless sleep.  After teaching from 7:30am -2pm,  I went to a grueling yoga class, had yoga playtime with the kiddos and then waited for my Diablo date.  Even though I have the flu, and worked all day, and the kids were sleeping I stayed awake.  But why? 

My motives for playing are not really as important as the fact that when I play I feel joy.  Often when we play there are these moments of perfect synchronicity that have nothing to do with skill and everything to do with friendship.  I find these connections harder to identify in RL but so easy to stumble across in fantasy realms. 

Even when glowing arrows are gone, and we are exploring a terrain, our characters never stop moving along side-by-side without us ever speaking a word in RL.  A new boss appears in the screen and I realize I am holding my breathe, and then look to my left and realize he is doing the same (btw Blizzard graphics are so effing beautiful).  The exhilaration of fighting past a cache of demons and laughing raucously and not even having to look to know he is grinning too.

These moments are why I play.

Even though two months have passed, the betrayal is so visceral that I feel like I am suffocating.  All the time I feel like I cannot breathe, but the chasm created by all the lies becomes less daunting each time I pick up my controller.  

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Husband's Side of the Story

Day 18: Bar room brawls 

What are your feelings about the “100 Days of Gaming” blog?

I love the blog, it is a way that we chronicle the way we have connected as friends, then partners, and then best friends. We lost that connection a while back and it feels great to commit to finding it again. 

I also think it is a very healthy outlet for Dr. CCB’s myriad of thoughts.  I am always excited to read the next post, and contrary to what some might believe, I have no idea what is written until the rest of the world does. 

I love games, it is one of my favorite things to do, and being able to share the joy that they bring with my best friend is pretty d*mn awesome. 

What is your partner’s most annoying habit as a gamer?

This one is easy, her inability to use two thumb sticks.  I understand that it's not the easiest skill and that I've had a lot more practice but whenever a game needs you to move with one and look with others it ends poorly.  This is the big reason why she has had so little success with shooters. 

A close second, is how freaking stubborn she can be.  She will get stuck at something stupid for what seems like hours and I can't help, if I do it's like I have taken her pride and stomped on it.  What's funny is this is one of the few arenas I have always taken help when offered.  I remember staying up late at night and playing games with friends we would swap the controller back and. Forth on deaths and no one cared who beat the stupid part just that we got past it. 

CCB: Phew, my trash talking and swearing are not on the top of the bad habit list.  Well that is a f*cking relief.  That said, I let no one, beat any section of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds on my behalf, that game was destined for one girl in all the world who was meant to fight the forces of evil.  Sometimes I cave and let him help, I can’t think of any right now, but it does happen, see my post about the human strategy guide.

What game do you most look forward to playing over the remainder of your 100 days of games with your wife?

This question is a toughie, it reminds me of the scene on Mall Rats where they ask Brodie “what superpower he would choose.”  

One of the games at the top is The Last of Us. That is probably the best game I have played in years, it is such a well crafted story and so emotionally heavy the two main characters are amazing, flawed and change throughout the game.  It's also a game that spoke to me the most about what it's like to be a dad.  It doesn't hurt that the game is absolutely stunning. 

Another that is at the top of my list is Super Dungeon Explore.  SDE is the perfect blend of what I want out of Dungeons and Dragons and old school gaming.  The miniatures and monsters all look so cool, the combat and gameplay is simple enough that the kids can play but deep enough to give it replay.  I've played it a few times with the kids and had a blast but never as a family.  Also the way it is currently played one person (usually me) controls the bad guys and the other players are the heroes. But there is an expansion coming out soon that lets us all play on the same team against the dungeon which is what I am dying to try. 

]\There are lots of other games I want to play with her, (GrimFandangoTales from the Borderlands, and always more Diablo!!).  There are some other games I have hesitated to try because I'm not sure if she would enjoy them but we still have a lot of days to go and I am super excited. 

What is your favorite gaming memory you have shared with your wife?

This one is super tough because my all time favorite memory was stolen by my lovely wife.  And is also our all night Burnout crash fest. So I have to go to a different favorite.  Which has got to be the night she organized a DnD party for my Birthday. 

The Scene of the Infamous DnD Brawl 10"

Serious DM with his campaign binder

This memory needs a little background.  I have always been intrigued by the idea of Dungeons and Dragons, but it is an immensely social game.  You need to have at least 3-4 friends who are willing to learn a complicated game and sit for hours basically playing make believe like my son would do.  Yes there are rules and dice involved but it essentially comes down to creating a character or persona that you want to be and going out fighting evil, causing trouble or solving mysteries.
The problem was I never really had a group of friends willing to play so I collected books, made characters and learned rules for years, but it wasn't until I was around 30 that I ever really played.  Chris knew all of this and set up a game on my birthday with a bunch of my friends who also never really played before. I researched and came up with a cool scenario that had the group at a bar and get drawn into a quest where they had to fight goblins. 
And then Dr. CCB happened.

I describe the opening scene at a bar and Chris had decided her character didn't like the way one of the guys was looking at her so she threw a chair at him.  One of the great things about this game is you can do anything you want and Chris embraced it. The game from there turned into an all out bar brawl that lasted for an hour or two and the group never even left the tavern or went on the quest. But you know what I didn't even care it was one of the best gaming moments I've ever had. 

CCB: DnD should always have a little WWE in the mix.  I had forgot about this party but I remember my character was built around Faith from BtVS and she was awesome.  I have to honor my favorite wrestler of all time, Stone Cold Steve Austin.  Throw a chair or cold frosty beer in the mix ever so often. 

What we played today. 

Game: Lord of the Rings Card Game
System: Table Top
Developer: Fantasy Flight Games

Reflection: When you live a geek lifestyle you forget that its not everyone’s normal.  I forget that I am a full-grown woman playing a card game until the stares of my fellow educators remind me.  During the union lunch hour we played cards in the lobby of a union conference at the Westin hotel. People seemed intrigued and amused but we only had eyes for the Hill Troll that keeps killing us.  I cannot wait to blog about beating him.  

Today's post in my favorite so far because it reminds me why we started the adventure and how great an adventure it has been. Life is an adventure best shared.