Yet another new gaming blog!

Hey-dee-ho

I think a key reason for the stop-start nature of this blog, in addition to several other much more valid but less humorous reasons, is my commitment to opening every post with a pseudo-conversational opening. ‘Hello’. ‘Hi’. ‘What’s up fothermuckers?’ None of these actually fill the role of being conversational, as that would require multiple conversing parties, and the closest thing we can get to equal discourse on the Internet is the one-sided, I-write-a-big-long-post-and-you-write-a-tiny-comment mechanic that has dogged YouTubers for over a decade now. But persist I shall, writing as if I’m speaking, and communicating as if there’s someone there to communicate to.

And communicate I shall, for I have embarked upon yet another gaming writing project. Tentatively titled Dodge Rolls & Determination – bonus points if you can identify which game series those mechanics come from – this blog covers sports strategy games, and dives into the nuts and bolts of their mechanics, rather than the loftier, more artistic approach to games I’m taking over on The Game Shelf and in my impending Skyrim dissertation.

Speaking of The Game Shelf, briefly, that is still very much a thing, although it is going through a rough patch as I’ve been struck by creative lethargy (one of the previously-mentioned ‘valid’ reasons for the lack of updates on this blog). I plan to combine the two projects in a monthly ‘here’s an interesting game mechanic’ piece on The Game Shelf, and leave Dodge Rolls & Determination for more in-depth and frequent trips to the GameFAQs pages of obscure RPGs; seriously, my first post – an introduction to the races of Bloodbowl 2 – pushed 4,000 words.

The reason that I have a shiny new blue-backgrounded site for these latest gaming ramblings is that I’ve become much more interested in the mechanics of game and game design lately, rather than my initial focus on ‘games as art’. Oddly enough this started last month as I watched several Let’s Plays of crappy noughties Sonic games, and I started to think on what makes a good game; how are the levels designed, how is plot presented, how is the player made to care about the characters and worlds of the game. These are more functional questions than ‘Is the opening of Super Mario Sunshine a feminist battle-cry?’, and ones I’m currently more interested in answering; I also feel like these questions are fundamentally different to the more artistic ones that float around on The Game Shelf. The subject matter – games – may be the same, but how they are engaged with is a totally different process; a thesis on the content of a Dickens novel will be entirely different to a thesis on nineteenth-century book-binding and distribution methods.

I’m becoming increasingly aware that, for better or worse, games are my thing. They’re the medium I feel most drawn to, the subculture I find myself most at home within, and the world that is accessible to the point of copyright-infringing democracy. But with great certainty comes great uncertainty, and I’m still not sure how I want to contribute to this growing world: do I want to be a gaming academic, preaching in lecture halls about queer theory in JRPGs; or a reviewer providing a service that is part-political, part-informative to gamers around the world; or even a gamer myself, making guides and tutorials, competing in tournaments and having a more personal connection to the games I play.

In all likelihood, I’ll settle for a tedious office job somewhere near a particularly shite part of Edgware and write game reviews on a half-arsed-looking blog when I’m in my forties and get a spare weekend. But that’ll be a source of delight few people will be able to lay claim to, and I’d love to live such a life; in the meantime, I’ll keep playing, writing, and badgering you to retweet my articles.

– Casey

Lethargic weeks

Heyho,

It’s one of those weeks. One of those endless spans of days that are either full of events but totally tedious, or packed with free time yet still manages to be unproductive.

Take my current essay, for example; in theory, it’s a romp through Norse mythology and my first foray into a topic my tutor is a world expert in and I want to study for my dissertation, but in practice it’s bleh. I feel stodgy and lethargic and just unmotivated, which are all perfectly normal feelings, they’re just happening at a rather odd time.

This week ought to be one of renewal and energy; I’ve started blogging again, I’ve had more ideas than ever for The Game Shelf, and as summer approaches I’m thinking more and more about my dissertation and internships to occupy myself with for the four months between classes. But now I just feel burned out.

It’s probably months of studying and writing taking their toll, as often happens; and while it may be advantageous to start dramatically amplifying my workload in anticipation of the coming exams, I often have a lull just before easter. There’s no point flogging yourself to climb a mountain if you’ve not made camp in eons.

Sadly, my triumphant return to the world of blogging has been rather hamstrung by this; I don’t feel like writing anything particularly inspiring (if ever I do), and I’m still finding a balance between personal posts and oversharing, and comedic pieces and just taking the piss like a dick.

I’ll get over it the way I get over all of such weeks – playing half-decent PS4 games and eating a load of chips – but it’s somewhat annoying that my optimism and excitement at the start of the week for various projects hasn’t translated to actual work towards those projects.

At least not yet.

Casey

Hello again

Hey you,

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Well, a while for some of you maybe; others of you might be totally new to this whole experience, in which case welcome! I hope you enjoy what you see.

This first post, however, is directed mainly at the people who followed my last blog, and my real-life friends, because I’ve been seeing you guys for months, after all. As some of you will know, a lot has, and a lot hasn’t, happened in the last few months, and I’ve been personally and mentally all over the place.

And that’s not really cleared up, nor do I expect it to ever fully resolve itself; I’m stressed and afraid and upset as byproducts of my more colourful, varied and wonderful life, and I think it’s worth taking a few afternoons of sadness for the longer periods of joy and great company. So I’m not too beat up about it; my life has changed, and my old blog wasn’t really an appropriate platform any more.

It was too bitchy, too full of knee-jerk reaction posts, and instances of me exaggerating a particular pet peeve into an unnecessary assault on groups of people or, in some cases, poor individuals I was too afraid to name, and too afraid to confront in real life. I started that blog to have a daily creative outlet, but as I took on other, more enjoyable creative projects, that blog shifted to be a daily spiteful outlet, a platform for me to rattle my sabre against all the things that I was too afraid, or too weak, to take on personally. And that’s not a very healthy use of an artistic platform, and it’s certainly not a very healthy use of my mind.

So this blog will be different. And not just cosmetically different – the selfies and white background aren’t just the ‘good’ to the snide grins and black borders that made up the ‘evil’ old blog – but different in a more fundamental way. I realise now – after eighteen months of almost daily oversharing on the Internet – that human beings are built to be social creatures, but social creatures with boundaries. And opening up some of my deepest fears and most harmful gut reactions to the world, as I did on that last blog, can be a very destructive thing; I’d write a post about how medics are bastards, then wonder why my medic friends hadn’t spoken to me in a week; I’d not said anything to them in person, but they’d all seen the post where I called them awful things, and I didn’t even realise.

Eventually, this took its toll; I ended up being stretched between people I engaged with in real life, and online. I wasn’t sure who I’d complimented or offended, and on what platform, and what my current conversation partner did or didn’t know about me. I almost had to juggle two identities – a raw online persona and a restrained personal one – that left me socially paralysed and generally afraid of human contact, all while pouring more and more personal details into people’s minds through that blog. It was a weird disconnect of oversharing, yet feeling like I had no-one to talk to; and it has been a factor, though not the only factor, in my recent bouts of feeling awful for nothing in particular.

So this blog will be different. Cleaner. More professional. Yet still personal. Think a poet who puts slightly more personal details into their work than their colleagues, rather than a random person who starts describing their preferred sexual techniques in limericks, and bellows them to the world.

On this site I intend to tell you who I am, and what I think, but not how I think, and why I think that. Obviously, these are related terms, and I’ll probably overstep the line somewhere, but that’s the plan at least.

And, just to make it explicit, I’d like to apologise to anyone I’ve offended, annoyed or spoken about when inappropriate in the last eighteen months. It was wrong of me – I could kinda tell that at the time – but it took me three months away from WordPress and a lot of reflection to start acting on it. If you were one of those people, and you’re still reading my stuff, thank you for the second, or third, fourth, fifth, chance.

And to everyone else, welcome.

Hope we get on,
Casey