December 2018 Updates: The Path to a Great 2019

Greetings everyone, and welcome back to Normal Happenings! We’re all rested up from our break after dropping the epic collab that is The Games That Define Us! The purpose of this post is to get you all reacquainted with normality after such a huge event, and to lead us into 2019 on a high note!

Clearly there is much to discuss, so much so that, yep, that’s a table of contents. Click to jump to the sections that most interest you, or start from the top! Enjoy!

Table of Contents

👁️ Visual Renovations
🎮 The Games That Define Us
🤔 The Next Collaboration (#3)
👩‍🚀 Project: Dysontopia
📣 Project: Normal Talks
✍️ Daily Inklings
🔮 Future Topics
💙 Guest Posts
🏆 2019 NH Blog Awards
🎁 Patreon & Support


👁️ Visual Renovations

Back to top ^

Highlights:

  • NEW FEATURE: Section and Post Highlights.
  • Accent font change: Cocogoose is out, Geo Sans is in.
  • Each new blog piece will now have a unique but cohesive design.

We have unleashed the power of the block editor in a big way! I know many people don’t like it, and I don’t blame you if you’re having trouble with it. It certainly takes some getting used to, but for a CSS nerd like me the block editor is a godsend!

Continue reading “December 2018 Updates: The Path to a Great 2019”

Spyro the Dragon | The Game That Defines A Geeky Gal

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Audio

The Games That Define Us features carefully chosen music and remixes from the franchise of the game represented. Music is a key component of sharing the emotions one feels about a game, so we hope you will press the play button if you’re in a position to do so. 

introduction

We are officially halfway through the month of November, and it’s been an amazing ride! Welcome to Day 15 of The Games That Define Us!

Just a brief summary if this is your first time here: This collaboration is a 34-day long adventure through video games. Each piece is its own unique audiovisual experience, complete with artwork, designs, music, and (most importantly) amazing works of prose by brilliant bloggers around the world. This adventure will take you through nostalgia, joy, ambition, self-discovery, regret, anxiety, frustration, mourning, and every human experience in between. Video games exist as fragments on the timeline of our lives, and each one of us have chosen the adventure we feel most defines us.

The snow is blanketing St. Louis right now, as it is for many other areas, so it’s a very good day to get cozy with a blanket and some coffee and catch up on some pieces you may have missed!

This is a good place to start, as today we’re joined by the Geeky Gal herself, Megan, for her journey with Spyro the Dragon! A close friend and colleague, I’m not even going to try to list all the things Megan has helped Normal Happenings with — not the least of which is our logo and branding! She’s also a wonderful writer, as you’ll see here, so once you’re done you should absolutely check out her wonderfully-designed site:

The next chapter of The Games That Define Us is taking flight now!

– Matthew, Normal Happenings

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starring

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Megan @ A Geeky Gal

Twitter: @ageekygal_

For finding happy places…

Game: Spyro the Dragon
System: Playstation 1
Release Date: September 9, 1998

1P Start

Spyro shielded me from a lot of sadness and pain during that time. I didn’t even realize this in those moments, I just knew I wanted to get to the next world; one more dragon left to release, one more egg to catch, one more hot air balloon ride, and get one more step closer to the happy ending Spyro was seeking.

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Some people can’t tell you the exact moment when they fell in love with gaming. My moment was a cool Christmas morning in Gulf Shores, Alabama, U.S. in a cabin by the ocean when I was almost six years old. I awoke to my mom and grandmother (who I affectionately call my Nanny) speaking in whispers over a pot of steaming hot coffee.

The sun was just beginning to come through the curtains as I stretched and yawned before rolling out of the bed. The smell of coffee led me into the kitchen where my mom and Nanny were still in their pajamas, wrapped in blankets, with their feet in fuzzy slippers. They smiled at me and offered some hot chocolate. I eagerly sat down at the table, knowing that Santa had come the night before, but by tradition we had to eat breakfast before opening any presents.

While drinking my hot chocolate and digging into a bowl of grits, my mom brought over a tin box that Santa had left for me. Inside was a few Pokemon related toys and a note from Santa thanking me for the milk and cookies we had set out for him the night before. I was very worried Santa wouldn’t be able to find us so far from home when mom took us down to the beach for Christmas vacation. It was a magical Christmas already since we’d never had the money to go to the beach before. Santa assured me in his note that he had no problem finding us and that I’d been very good that year. I was ecstatic and couldn’t believe Santa himself had written me such a note.

I quickly finished my breakfast and finally went over to the living room where a big box waited for me. I looked at my mom with my mouth open. “Is this mine?” I couldn’t believe something of this size contained my Christmas present. She said, “It sure is.” I squealed and asked if I could open it now. She and Nanny brought their coffee over to the couch and settled in before giving me the go ahead.

I ripped into the present, excitement flooding my body. I had no idea what could be in such a big box. It was almost taller than me! After getting off the wrapping paper, my mom came over to cut the tape off and help me look inside of it. I can’t remember what all was in the box except for one thing that I still have with me to this day: a Playstation.

My family had always lived paycheck to paycheck. We didn’t always have the best electronics or name brand clothes. My mom did what she could for us. Getting something so “high end” and expensive was truly a treat. I knew how precious the Playstation was.

We pulled it out and set it up on the small living room TV our cabin had. It only took moments to do, but it felt forever for an almost six-year-old. My mom presented the two games that Santa had brought: Frogger and Spyro the Dragon. I really wanted to share my first experience with the PlayStation with my mom so I picked Frogger, and we sat down together to play a few rounds. We laughed and talked, my mom even convinced my Nanny to try it out, as lunch time approached.

Eventually, the adults were ready to move on from the video games and hit the beach outside our door, but I wasn’t quite ready to stop playing. I picked up Spyro and switched out Frogger. I had no idea that the next few hours would change my life so much. As soon as I met Spyro, the cute, sarcastic purple dragon and his dragonfly companion Sparks, I was in love.

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I felt my heart race as I took down enemies, released dragons, and collected gems. Charging through the home world, Artisans, felt like a dream. Breathing fire to defeat gnorcs made me feel powerful. Finding the secret world in Artisans made me feel smart. I was completely immersed in this world, and I needed to see more.

Our Christmas vacation ended, and we headed back home to our small house in the country. Mom set up my Playstation in my bedroom, and I felt so grown up to have such an expensive thing in my own room. School started back, and I focused on my studies, but on the weekends, it was just me and my purple dragon taking down the gnorcs, trying to defeat the Gnasty Gnorc himself. I’d play for hours in my room on top of the daybed that was much too tall for me. My stuffed animals were my audience as the shine had quickly worn off for mom. I tried over and over again to beat levels and bosses. I even remember famously taking my favorite Power Ranger bowl and filling it with ice and cold water to soak my thumbs after a particularly hard boss battle.

Despite such an amazing Christmas that year with a game that I grew to love quickly, I can’t say that I had a happy childhood all of the time. I love my mom, and I know she gave me all that she could, but I had a very tumultuous relationship with my biological father which caused me to experience more sadness than a child ever should. On the Fridays that I found myself at home, still waiting for him to pick me up, I’d load up Spyro and lose myself to get away from the pain in my heart. It was something that affected me for many, many years.

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Spyro shielded me from a lot of sadness and pain during that time. I didn’t even realize this in those moments; I just knew I wanted to get to the next world, one more dragon left to release, one more egg to catch, one more hot air balloon ride, and get one more step closer to the happy ending Spyro was seeking.

I knew I found my happy place in Spyro the Dragon and, eventually, gaming. Spyro helped me escape my childhood sadness and eventually led to my love of gaming now. Gaming became my comfort then and I still turn to it in times of sadness or stress or loneliness. I never felt alone when I had Spyro to occupy my time.

Months of playing Spyro on the weekends finally came to an end one Saturday. I had finally beaten the game. It wasn’t 100% completion (I found the flight levels especially hard), but I was proud nonetheless. I ran to grab my mom and we watched the ending scene and credits together. I was so happy but also so sad to see it end. I still played after that, trying to reach 100% completion. I was never able to do it.

Almost twenty years later, I downloaded Spyro the Dragon from the PlayStation Store to my PS3. I had no idea if it would hold the same magic it did when I was six, but I was feeling nostalgic. When I saw the familiar Insomniac sign held by a gnorc, my heart started racing, just like it had all those years ago when I first put the disc in. I truly lost myself in Spyro all over again almost twenty years later. That weekend, I beat the entire game at 100% completion. The child in me felt a pang of sadness and pride. I beat my favorite childhood game again, and this time, I did everything that needed to be done. Spyro could rest easy this time around.

After putting down the controller and saying goodbye to my favorite sarcastic purple dragon, I thought back to six-year-old me and what she’d think of me right now. I never in a million years thought I’d go to school to learn how to make video games or work on simulators. How crazy is it that a small purple dragon and his dragonfly sidekick inspired a sad little girl to make video games her passion? Thanks Spyro for lifting me up when I was down and giving me a passion for gaming and creating. And special thanks to mom for buying me such an amazing gift that has only fueled my love for gaming since. Six-year-old Megan would be proud right now.

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This collaboration took an overwhelming amount of time and dedication from 34 exceptionally creative, incredible makers! Help us with the resources to make more, even better, collaborations in the future! We also have aspirations of developing a podcast called Normal Talks about optimistically appreciating everyday life! Please consider becoming a patron of Normal Happenings and help us try to make the world a better, more positive place!
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