On the twelfth day of Blogmas

Our choir of gaming Christmas carollers is back again for the second day of Blogmas, where creative conductor Athena from AmbiGaming is leading us in a rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas – but with a video game twist. Check out her blog to see what she’s written for her twelfth answer, and keep your eyes peeled for all of the other bloggers out there taking part.

Yesterday we looked at two games we’d like to improve. With the choir clearing their throats and warming up in the background one last time, let’s see what the subject the final verse is:

On the twelfth day of Blogmas, the gamers said to me:
What are your 12 favourite gaming memories?
Tell us 11 games you love!
What are ten reasons you’d play a game?
Give us nine games on your to-play list!
Who are eight characters you love?
Share seven of your favorite posts!
What are your six gaming or blogging resolutions?
What are five games you’ve played more than once?
Share four dramatic or memorable game moments!
What are three things you want gamers to know about games for the new year?
List two games you’d improve!
Tell us the one best reason to play video games!

Sometimes the best thing about video games isn’t the game itself. Sure, they’re an excellent form of entertainment and have the ability to keep us occupied during a spare hour after work. They can also teach us valuable lessons and provide us with a place to escape to for a short time when we need a mental break. And they can encourage independence, confidence, rehabilitation and therapy when the playing field is levelled so everybody can join in.

Those all are great positives that come from playing video games, but perhaps the best one is the people we get to meet through our hobby. If I didn’t play, then it’s likely I wouldn’t blog; and if I didn’t blog, I wouldn’t have had the chance to meet a bunch of truly amazing people. I’m proud to be able to call the following bloggers friends and would like to take this opportunity to thank them for everything over the past year. You lot are simply awesome.

⭐   Athena from AmbiGaming: much love to her for arranging a fantastic Blogmas collaboration. She’s a talented writer, an interesting conversationalist and all-round amazing person – and I wish her nothing but the best for 2019.

⭐   Ian from Adventure Rules: our Blogger Blitz hero! This guy does so much for the community and it’s time to give a little something back to him for all his hard work. Watch out for a little surprise tomorrow…

⭐   Tim from GeekOut South-West: my cosplay partner-in-crime! Keep an eye out for our Thundercats-themed costumes if we can fit into the lycra, along with our plans for GameBlast19 on 23 February 2019.

⭐   Luke from Hundstrasse: always on hand with a squid emoji and a haiku when you need one. It was great to see him at Rezzed last year; hopefully we’ll get to do the same again in 2019 and sneak into another developer session.

⭐   Nathan from Hurricane thought process: it’s been an eventful year for Nathan, and I’m so pleased he’s happy and settled. He welcomed his baby son in November and I can’t wait to meet the little fella this year!

⭐   LightningEllen from Livid Lightning: I love this lady’s sense of humour and she always says something that makes me laugh! She’s also way more talented than she realises. I have a feeling that 2019 is going to hold lots of special things for her.

⭐   Jonez from NekoJonez’s Game Blog: a fellow cat lover who exchanges pet pictures with me! This man can cram more into a day than I can in an entire year but regardless of how busy he is, he always has time for the community.

⭐   Pix 1001 from Shoot the Rookie: Pix’s blog has gone from strength to strength this year and I can’t wat to see what she manages to achieve in the next twelve months! She’s also one of the most fashionable bloggers around.

⭐   Chris from OverThinker Y: I’ve had so many chats with this man over the past year, which usually end up descending into GIF exchanges. I finally got to meet him last year and can honestly say he’s just as awesome in real life.

⭐   Teri Mae from Sheikah Plate: we’ve had some really interesting conversations recently, not only about video games but about politics too. She also makes the best carrot cake and I can’t wait to try out her cinnamon rolls.

⭐   Katie from The Gaming Diaries: I got to know Katie more during 2018 and it’s been so nice chatting to her regularly. I have no doubt our conversations will continue this year and hopefully we’ll be able to meet in person.

⭐   Everybody I’ve met here: I wish I had a post long enough to thank everyone individually because you’re all amazing. I’d like to send a big hug to every person mentioned on the high scores page for making 2018 as brilliant as it was, and I wish you all lots of wonderful things (and video games) for 2019.

And that’s a wrap! It’s time for the choir to rest their voices and have a well-deserved drink after all that singing. Thank you so much to Athena from AmbiGaming for leading us all in this collaboration, and a huge well done to everyone who joined in!

On the eleventh day of Blogmas

Our choir of gaming Christmas carollers is back again for the second day of Blogmas, where creative conductor Athena from AmbiGaming is leading us in a rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas – but with a video game twist. Check out her blog to see what she’s written for her eleventh answer, and keep your eyes peeled for all of the other bloggers out there taking part.

Yesterday we looked at three things we want gamers to know about games for the new year. With the choir clearing their throats and warming up in the background, let’s see what the subject of today’s verse is:

On the eleventh day of Blogmas, the gamers said to me:
What are your 12 favourite gaming memories?
Tell us 11 games you love!
What are ten reasons you’d play a game?
Give us nine games on your to-play list!
Who are eight characters you love?
Share seven of your favorite posts!
What are your six gaming or blogging resolutions?
What are five games you’ve played more than once?
Share four dramatic or memorable game moments!
What are three things you want gamers to know about games for the new year?
List two games you’d improve!

2009: Tales from Monkey Island

When Tales from Monkey Island was released almost a decade after Escape from Monkey Island, I was both excited and apprehensive. On one hand here was a sequel to my most beloved series but on the other it had been created by Telltale Games, a developer I wasn’t overly fond of (I can imagine many shocked expressions after reading that last statement). I gave the game a go regardless but I have to confess: I didn’t even make it through the first episode.

The control system was awful – and that was when it actually decided to respond. If you were clicking to move in one direction and the camera changed when you went into the next screen, everything would reorientate and you’d find yourself going back in the direction you came from. On top of that, Guybrush looked terrible and Elaine was unrecognisable; it’s like the pirate got himself a new wife between the fourth game and Telltale’s attempt.

I’ve said several times now that I’d like to do a Monkey Island marathon on Twitch and when that day comes, I’ll finally have to deal with Tales from Monkey Island and actually complete it. In the meantime however, I’d like to send a message to Disney: please sell the rights back to Ron Gilbert. Let the original artist have back his proverbial paintbrush and give us the game we deserve, because we all really want to be a pirate.

2010: Fable III

Fable II is one of my favourite games. When it was released in 2008, I took some time off work so I could buy it as soon as possible and spend all day playing it. It turned out to be everything the first game was and way more: silly humour, enjoyable quests, fairytale feelings and excellent characters (including with Theresa, who made it into my list for a previous Blogmas post). Here was a sequel which surpassed the original and I fell in love with it instantly.

You can imagine my excitement when Fable III was released two years later; I couldn’t wait to jump straight back into the land of Albion all over again. But what was this: a plot to overview the King by forming alliances and building support for a revolution? And a Road to Rule to replace the previous levelling-up system, a path in an alternative realm blocked by a number of gates? New features that didn’t feel like previous Fable content but I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt and continue.

I’m afraid to say however that it went downhill from there and I was left disappointed. Unlike Fable II which adhered to the previous title while implementing positive changes that redefined the game system, the third instalment took the formula and screwed with it. With the last year’s news that Playground Games are working on a new Fable IV perhaps this new developer will be able to take what made the series so special and recapture the magic of Albion.

It’s time for the choir to take a short break so we’ll be back for the twelfth and final day of Blogmas tomorrow, with two titles we’d like to improve. In the meantime, why not tell us about the games you’d change in the comments below?

On the tenth day of Blogmas

Our choir of gaming Christmas carollers is back again for the second day of Blogmas, where creative conductor Athena from AmbiGaming is leading us in a rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas – but with a video game twist. Check out her blog to see what she’s written for her tenth answer, and keep your eyes peeled for all of the other bloggers out there taking part.

Yesterday we looked at four memorable or dramatic moments from video games. With the choir clearing their throats and warming up in the background, let’s see what the subject of today’s verse is:

On the tenth day of Blogmas, the gamers said to me:
What are your 12 favourite gaming memories?
Tell us 11 games you love!
What are ten reasons you’d play a game?
Give us nine games on your to-play list!
Who are eight characters you love?
Share seven of your favorite posts!
What are your six gaming or blogging resolutions?
What are five games you’ve played more than once?
Share four dramatic or memorable game moments!
What are three things you want gamers to know about games for the new year?

1. You can find yourself within a video game

We’re all aware of how video games are negatively perceived: as a bunch of meaningless pixels which do nothing but encourage violence and addiction. But for every politician, media outlet and parent declaring them the root of all evil, there are just as many academic studies indicating that gaming has many psychological, social and even physical benefits. It’s a subject we talk about frequently here in the WordPress community – just take a look at this post on how games can be used for coping with difficult situations by Athena from AmbiGaming.

Earlier this year, a death in the family and a stressful situation at work caused me to retreat into myself. It was The Elder Scrolls Online that provided me with a sense of calm in going through the motions of completing a quest and time to think things over subconsciously. Having a virtual space to work through emotions can give a sense of purpose and a feeling of release which strengthens you enough to keep going. You can lose yourself within in a video game, but you can also find yourself.

2. Your backlog isn’t something to feel guilty about

Video games, bozes, shelf, row, adventuresAs gamers, we have this horrible habit of feeling guilty about either our backlogs or lack of completion. We all have our own ‘pile of shame’ that sits there patiently in the corner, eyeing us up critically as we reach for our wallets to purchase yet another release we won’t play. But we rarely stop to consider that it’s something we shouldn’t feel bad about: why should we spend our free time on titles we’re not enjoying when it’s so limited and therefore precious?

The result may be that we never complete some titles and our backlogs never reduce as much as we’d like them to, but surely it’s better to actually take pleasure in the games we do finish. We’re meant to look forward to our hobbies (it’s what makes them ‘hobbies’ rather than ‘work’) so that guilt we all feel seems a bit self-defeating. As long as we’re open to new experiences and give them a decent chance when they come along, there shouldn’t be any remorse felt at putting them down in favour or something else more fulfilling.

3. Gaming can mean much more than just fun

At EGX five years ago, I came across the stand for SpecialEffect: a UK-based charity that uses technology such as modified controllers and eye-control software to help people with physical disabilities play video games. This may sound like a small thing at first but it isn’t just for fun. Levelling the playing field and enabling gamers to join family and friends in a hobby they enjoy has a truly profound effect on confidence, independence, therapy and rehabilitation.

I’ve been volunteering for the organisation ever since and seeing their work (which is done all free of charge) first-hand has been inspiring. It’s not just me who feels this way; on the weekend of 22-24 February 2019, gamers all over the country will be taking part in GameBlast19 and streaming their marathon gaming sessions to raise funds and awareness for SpecialEffect. To find out more about how Later Levels is getting involved and help us decide on the titles to play during our stream, take a look at this post.

It’s time for the choir to take a short break so we’ll be back for the eleventh day of Blogmas tomorrow, with two titles we’d like to improve. In the meantime, why not tell us what you’d like gamers to know about video games in the comments below?

On the ninth day of Blogmas

Our choir of gaming Christmas carollers is back again for the second day of Blogmas, where creative conductor Athena from AmbiGaming is leading us in a rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas – but with a video game twist. Check out her blog to see what she’s written for her ninth answer, and keep your eyes peeled for all of the other bloggers out there taking part.

Yesterday we looked at five games we’ve played more than once (and are likely to do so again). With the choir clearing their throats and warming up in the background, let’s see what the subject of today’s verse is:

On the ninth day of Blogmas, the gamers said to me:
What are your 12 favourite gaming memories?
Tell us 11 games you love!
What are ten reasons you’d play a game?
Give us nine games on your to-play list!
Who are eight characters you love?
Share seven of your favorite posts!
What are your six gaming or blogging resolutions?
What are five games you’ve played more than once?
Share four dramatic or memorable game moments!

The following post contains spoilers for Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge, To The Moon, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons and Maize. If you haven’t played these games yet, I’d highly recommend doing so before reading on.

1991: LeChuck reveals himself to be Guybrush’s brother

In the tunnel system underneath Dinky Island during the final scenes of Monkey Island 2: Le Chuck’s Revenge, an incapacitated LeChuck tells Guybrush to take off his mask to reveal the ‘true face’ of his nemesis. He’s then revealed to be none other than… wait for it… his long-lost brother Chuckie. As the game ends however, Chuckie looks at the camera with glowing red eyes dancing with evil magic; and the player is left wondering whether not everything is as it seems.

I remember being totally blown away by this moment when I first played the title as a kid – and then being left completely confused. Are Guybrush and LeChuck brothers though or is this all an elaborate spell? It’s never officially explained and it’s not even made clear in the rest of the Monkey Island series, but in a chat interview published on 21 July 2003, Ron Gilbert said: “In one sense, yes they are brothers, in another way, they are not. If you get what I mean.” No, unfortunately I don’t.

2011: Johnny finally realises his dream of going to the moon

To The Moon’s story starts when doctors Eva Rosalene and Neil Watts are tasked with fulfilling the dream of dying patient Johnny Wyles: he wants to go to the moon but can’t remember why. They insert themselves into an interactive compilation of his memories and traverse backwards through his life to uncover the source of this wish, so they can implant a desire for space-travel in order to make him think it came true before he passes away. (It’s a little more complicated than this but you get the gist.)

It’s later revealed that Johnny wants to visit the moon because of a promise he made to his now-deceased wife, River, when they were children. After meeting at a carnival they agreed it’s where they would meet again if they were ever separated. Sadly Johnny didn’t remember this promise due to a sad event in his history, but he felt enough for River to know that it was where he needed to get to. And damn if that isn’t one of the most heart-wrenching stories ever.

2013: Naiee faces his inability to swim

In Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, the siblings must embark on an arduous journey to reach the Tree of Life in order to save their ill father. Each brother is controlled by one of the joysticks on a controller and the player must use both in tandem to progress through the game. Naia is the stronger of the two and can pull levers by himself while younger Naiee is smaller and can fit into tighter spaces; and when it comes to swimming, Naiee’s fear of water sees him climb onto his sibling’s back.

Towards the end of the title however, the younger brother is on his own and must face this phobia alone. At first it isn’t clear what you need to do because his right joystick isn’t working; but once you realise you need to use both joysticks together, similar to what you’d do if Naia was there, a bolt of emotion hits. It’s a beautiful way of reminding us that even though the people we love may have gone, we’ll never forget them and can use the memory of them to give us strength when we most need it.

2016: A disco in the middle of a field saves the world

Although it may not have made my favourites list on DAY, Maize is one of the best titles I finally got around to playing this year. It’s so weird but in a good way: the developers have left the game’s description deliberately vague and I can only guess they made this decision so as not to put anybody off. Trying to summarise a story about sentient corn and what happens when two scientists misinterpret a government memo here would make a lot of readers think it was something best left in that dark corner of my library.

The title ends on a plot-twist so bizarre that it’s almost not a shock after everything else you’ve witnessed. The final battle involves a sequence like a Dance Dance Revolution round to an upbeat track about top secret experiments and it’s such a fitting way to round off a game as crazy as this one. Partying with sentient corn and scarecrows in the middle of a field, dancing to an 80s-style song while trying to save their world – now that sounds just like my kind of shindig.

It’s time for the choir to take a short break so we’ll be back for the tenth day of Blogmas tomorrow, with three things we want gamers to know about video games for the new year. In the meantime, why not tell us your own memorable moments in gaming in the comments below?

On the eighth day of Blogmas

Our choir of gaming Christmas carollers is back again for the second day of Blogmas, where creative conductor Athena from AmbiGaming is leading us in a rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas – but with a video game twist. Check out her blog to see what she’s written for her eighth answer, and keep your eyes peeled for all of the other bloggers out there taking part.

Yesterday we looked at six gaming and blogging resolutions to see us into the New Year. With the choir clearing their throats and warming up in the background, let’s see what the subject of today’s verse is:

On the eighth day of Blogmas, the gamers said to me:
What are your 12 favourite gaming memories?
Tell us 11 games you love!
What are ten reasons you’d play a game?
Give us nine games on your to-play list!
Who are eight characters you love?
Share seven of your favorite posts!
What are your six gaming or blogging resolutions?
What are five games you’ve played more than once?

1990: The Secret of Monkey Island

I’m sure this one is no surprise to many people reading this! I’m not even sure how many times I’ve played The Secret of Monkey Island, along with all its sequels, since discovering it as a kid. It’s made a few appearances during past GameBlast streams and at some point I’d love to do a Monkey Island marathon on Twitch. The only game in the series I’ve only played once is Tales of Monkey Island and I’m not entirely sure I want to go back there; more about that in another Blogmas post coming soon.

1993: Simon the Sorcerer

I’ve played this adventure so many times that I now don’t have to think about the solutions for any of the puzzles. It’s like comfort-food: when I want something nostalgic that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy, Simon the Sorcerer is often the game I’ll return to. Last year I joined forces with nufafitc from Emotional Multimedia Ride to celebrate the series and I streamed the first two releases, but I haven’t yet had a chance to return to the third… that’s probably for the best however.

2011: To The Moon

I first played this title after getting into the indie scene and reading about in on a gaming website. I then played it again before starting the follow-up so Chris from OverThinker Y and I could discuss the title in depth. And I’m sure I’ll play it again before the next game in the series, hinted at during the ending of Finding Paradise, is released. I now can’t hear Everything’s Alright by Laura Shigihara without getting tears in my eyes because it makes me think of To The Moon’s story and I get all emotional.

2012: The Secret World

This game is my nemesis: I’ve racked up almost six hours on Steam but have never been able to get further than the first half-hour. I turn into a raging button-mashing mess every time I try to play it and end up quitting in frustration, with keyboards being thrown across the room. I’m determined to overcome this however because I really want to love it and so I have no doubt I’ll end up trying yet again in 2019. Just make sure any valuables are removed from the room before I start up the PC.

2014: The Elder Scrolls Online

I’ve never come anywhere close to completing all of the quests in The Elder Scrolls Online but I have restarted with a new character on a number of occasions. I’ve recently done the same once again as my other-half is now getting involved with the game: we spent Christmas adventuring through Auridon together after he decided to purchase a second PlayStation 4 last autumn. I’m not sure my on-off addiction to this title is ever going to truly end and with a partner-in-crime, perhaps this will be the time I make it further than ever before.

It’s time for the choir to take a short break so we’ll be back for the ninth day of Blogmas tomorrow, with four memorable video game moments. In the meantime, why not tell us about the titles you’ve played multiple times in the comments below?

On the seventh day of Blogmas

Our choir of gaming Christmas carollers is back again for the second day of Blogmas, where creative conductor Athena from AmbiGaming is leading us in a rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas – but with a video game twist. Check out her blog to see what she’s written for her seventh answer, and keep your eyes peeled for all of the other bloggers out there taking part.

Yesterday we looked at seven of our favourite posts. With the choir clearing their throats and warming up in the background, let’s see what the subject of today’s verse is:

On the seventh day of Blogmas, the gamers said to me:
What are your 12 favourite gaming memories?
Tell us 11 games you love!
What are ten reasons you’d play a game?
Give us nine games on your to-play list!
Who are eight characters you love?
Share seven of your favorite posts!
What are your six gaming or blogging resolutions?

1. Play more video games

While it’s not always possible to play something every day due to adult responsibilities, sometimes it’s ourselves who are the barrier to our hobby. I need to continue making a conscious effort to turn on the PlayStation or PC when I have a free hour after work rather than collapsing on the sofa. Alongside this, I want to expand my gaming horizons: the adventure genre will always be one I return to but I’d also like to try a few titles outside of this comfort zone. Let me know if you have any suggestions!

2. Finish the games I start – unless they’re bad

I was determined to complete more of I the games I started in 2018 and I’m pleased to say I’ve succeeded. However, I’ve also realised there’s no point in forcing yourself through a title if you’re really not enjoying it. High-ratings from critics doesn’t necessarily mean everyone should buy or will enjoy release, or will see it through to the end. As long as we’re open to new experiences and give them a decent chance when they come along (see the point above), we shouldn’t feel any guilt at putting them down in favour of something more enjoyable.

3. Finally make it to gamescom

My other-half and I have been trying to get to gamescom for the past few years and so far, something has always scuppered our plans. In 2017 there was Pete’s fear of flying; then in 2018 after he’d worked up the courage to getting on a plane, we decided to postpone due to a sad family event. 2019 could very possibly be the year we make it to Germany and we’ll be starting our arrangements soon. Who knows, I might finally get the chance to meet nufafitc from Emotional Multimedia Ride in person this summer.

4. Try to be more social

In October I wrote a post about the thing I find hardest about blogging: being social. I’m not naturally an outgoing person and I get anxious when faced with a large group, either in person or online. Blogging has certainly helped with this and I now know that I’m able to do it despite not being someone who’s completely at ease in social situations. That’s why I’d like to push myself even further next year and get involved in more conversations, collaborations and events.

5. Set up annual blogging awards

Being nominated for the UK Blog Awards recently has definitely been a highlight of 2018, and I can’t thank the anonymous person who did so enough. The Shameful Narcissist mentioned that she wished the States had something similar and it got me thinking: why don’t we set up our own blog awards here for the WordPress community? I’m not entirely sure what form these will take or how they’re going to work just yet, but all will be revealed in the autumn and hopefully we’ll have our first winners by the end of 2019.

6. Announce a new version of Question of the Month

The Question of the Month has now been running since February 2017 and it’s time for a bit of a makeover. Don’t worry, the monthly competition isn’t going away – but there’s a change coming that I think you’re going to enjoy! In September I mentioned that Chris from OverThinker Y and I had become partners-in-crime and we had a little something up our sleeves. There isn’t much longer to wait until all is revealed: make sure to visit on 07 January 2019 to find out what’s going on and how you can be a part of it.

It’s time for the choir to take a short break so we’ll be back for the eighth day of Blogmas tomorrow, with five games we’ve played more than once. In the meantime, why not tell us about your own resolutions in the comments below?