Goodbye St. Louis, You Gave Us the World

Over the last week or so, we’ve mentioned that we’d be undergoing significant life changes. It’s time to share those with our blogging family.

The Daily Inkling for January 16, 2019 was:
You return to your hometown or community after five years of being away. Give us a rundown as you rediscover things place-by-place with new eyes.

Let’s turn that into a fact.
We’re returning to our hometown after two years of being away. We’re preparing to rediscover things place-by-place with new eyes.

Such is life.

On July 1st, we’ll be moving back to Montgomery, Alabama U.S. I got a terrific position as a public relations professional – a career-advancing opportunity far too good for me to pass up. I don’t recall ever feeling such mixed emotions.

Let’s talk career. I believe in blessings – and that sometimes those blessings pay off as a consequence of hard, God-focused work. As such, I could not be more grateful or humbled that a 27-year-old could be entrusted with such a role.

Honestly and objectively, there’s a lot to like about a strangely thriving Sun Belt city, free from the stress of ice storms and a relatively short drive to the beach. The cost of living is low. The food is good-ish* – it is Alabama, after all. Let’s be real, Montgomery is doing some great things despite having a mixed reputation at times. Everywhere has darkness alongside the light.

*Sidebar: Alabama is known for its legendary food, but I’m not a fan of Southern food. Southwestern and Mediterranean food all the way for me. Though I admit I can make one heck of a poppyseed chicken casserole.

Yet, we’re sad. We have learned to love our home here in St. Louis. We’ve met some amazing people, and worked with three incredible bloggers! We’ve also done lots of healing here, because despite all of the positives referenced, we were both in a pretty dark place when we moved away. Such distance from our families and those we grew up with provided us with the one thing we needed most – perspective.

Our world bigger, we set upon casting off the opinions of others and finding our true nature. We like the people we’ve found, and are nervous we might lose them as we journey into the great unknown. I’m scared. I know we’ll be okay, but I’m scared. In many ways I wish we were moving somewhere completely new, but maybe the nearness is the next step in our healing process. I am, and always will be, optimistic in the face of a cynical world.

Now let’s talk about Normal Happenings. As we enter this time of transition, I actually feel I’m going to come out the other side with more time and energy to devote to my craft. As such, this might be a good time to go ahead and pursue another objective – that of transitioning to a self-hosted platform. More moving.

Such is life.

There are a lot of things we want to do design-wise regarding The Characters That Define Us! Normal Happenings is a blog of subtly, so don’t expect huge changes – just a few tweaks to change up the norm a bit. Bear with us as we build up our resources for a fantastic 2020.


We’ve ordering some special styluses laser engraved with The Characters That Define Us logo! Why? To reward our Patrons, of course! Any $5 and up Patrons by the end of June will receive one with their July Snail Mail Inklings! More on that in this post!

Did you know we’re part of the best community of bloggers in the world? Now that the Normal Happenings Starry-Eyed Discord is up, we’re having incredible conversations every day! You can join us right now by becoming a Patron of Normal Happenings! Also, $5+ Patrons unlock Snail Mail Inklings and get featured in very special blog posts!

IMG_20190519_214417_658.jpgbecome_a_patron_button

Appreciating Everyday Life

The normal happenings of each day help beautify our lives. They are like the trees planted to spruce up a city block, or perhaps a painting in a room acting as a fixture to draw the eyes. They may be hard to notice in the moment, but the sum of our moments would be far lass valuable without them. I simply appreciate that life exists and I am part of it.

In my introductory post for Normal Happenings, I said, “if you ever catch me straying, remind me to go back and read this post.” Perhaps this post should be added to that arsenal as well, readied for the day I inevitably fall off the wagon and start speaking incomprehensible gibberish that only makes sense in my own head.

I want to take this time of relative respite, while the big events of the past few months — things like Tracking Shells or the Blog Awards — to reemphasize what Normal Happenings is all about. I’ll call it a renewal of vows, if you will, perhaps because I’ve recently been concerned I’m reaching a bit too far outside of my writing core. It’s important I slow my roll and do a deep-dive into my own motivations. After all, over-ambition can get the best of me — a topic I intend to discuss in an upcoming post. Continue reading “Appreciating Everyday Life”

May the Years We’re Here Encourage Us

💬 Highlights:

  • Many live like they’re cursed by time.
  • Though times can be tough, it is possible to use it as a tool for encouragement rather than destruction.
  • Loved ones, learning, and art can make negative time a little better.

“May the Years We’re Here Encourage Us”

Volume 2, Number 4

Winter in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S. can be rough, especially if you can count on one hand the number of times you’ve seen snow growing up. When Nikki and I moved from Alabama, U.S. to STL, we very quickly found ourselves feeling particularly down during the winter months. We are outdoorsy by nature, and when the ability to explore nature twelve months out of the year was taken away from us, we found ourselves experiencing “cabin fever” quite often. The temperature would plunge, freezing the roadways and making it impossible to even go to the gym or get groceries. Finding ourselves stuck in our apartment, we were forced to confront negative time.

Continue reading “May the Years We’re Here Encourage Us”

Pedestrians of Our Own Lives

💬 Highlights:

  • There seems to be an interesting connection between forming our first memories and forgetting each day as an adult.
  • As we grow up, we lose our wonderment towards everyday life.
  • Avoid deriving a sense of purpose from life’s big accomplishments.

Minor trigger advisory: this piece makes a few sporadic references to faith. As we’ve made clear in the past, we have no desire to push those on other people.

“Pedestrians of Our Own Lives”

Volume 2, Number 2

Back in school, I remember having a friend who insisted that he could remember being born. He was the competitive sort, especially when it came to one-upping others in experiences and smarts, so despite my pension for giving people the benefit of the doubt, I am still skeptical. He is not the only one, though; a subset of the human population also believes they possess memories prior to birth. Sentience, without so much as glimpse beyond the barrier of protection that is the womb? That’s hard for me to believe. The passage of time, that sudden stream of memories flooding our brain, and our very own purpose — our first great awakening — it all comes together in a funny way I cannot fully comprehend.

Continue reading “Pedestrians of Our Own Lives”

The 2019 Normal Happenings Blog Awards: Now Accepting Nominations

Highlights:

  • The 2019 NH Blog Awards will be taking place on February 26, 2019.
  • Five categories exemplifying the best of blogging.
  • Accepting nominations within!

Blogs are great!
Readers are great!
Here’s a great idea!

Announcing:
The 2019 Normal Happenings 
Blog Awards!


We always want to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of the people in our little corner of the blogosphere! That is what Nice Job Badges are for, after all. So many of you have spurred our desire for crafting excellent blog posts, and we couldn’t have done it without the constant support of our community. From commenters to contributors to Twitter aficionados, it has been a pleasure interacting with each and every one of you.

Continue reading “The 2019 Normal Happenings Blog Awards: Now Accepting Nominations”

What a Pessimistically Optimistic World We Weave

💬 Highlights:

  • There is a concerning obsession for pessimism in world slowly improving.
  • While not blind to the problems of the world, I strongly desire to make the world better.
  • Many Normal Happenings features this year will be thematically optimistic.

🎧 Recommended Listening:

Your First Light My Eventide, The Echelon Effect

“What a Pessimistically Optimistic World We Weave”

volume 2, number 1

Do you remember back in December 2012, when the world was at least in part convinced themselves that the world was just going to end? That, even after all of the little story arcs in all of our lives, Earth was simply going to blink out of existence. Books and documentaries of both prophetic doomsday and analytical reassurance rivaled each other on the shelves of their media marketplaces. The whole pandemonium seemed a bit childish, especially six years removed from the calamity of never.

Continue reading “What a Pessimistically Optimistic World We Weave”

Super Metroid | The Game That Defines Power Bomb Attack

<< Previous | Adventure Map | Next >>

TGTDU Logo - Copy

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

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.

So, what does Zerathulu, yesterday’s writer, and Power Bomb Attack, today’s writer, have in common? They both have blog names inspired by the games they’re writing about in this collab! Today we’re joined by Imtiaz of Power Bomb Attack, a wonderful blogger and super nice guy. I’ve been excited to explore another SNES title, and this is the perfect blogger and game to lead us in that adventure!

Here are some favorites from this awesome blog:

DLC Pack two of four has been installed. We’re ready for the next chapter of The Games That Define Us!

– Matthew, Normal Happenings

divider

starring

DkgBNE_VsAAJvDK

Imtiaz @ Power Bomb Attack

Twitter: @powerbombattack

For the answers under your nose…

Game: Super Metroid
System: SNES
Release Date: March 9, 1994

1P Start

It’s a story about how the young boy known as myself, learned that attention to detail is key in games like Super Metroid. That scanning every nook and cranny or rooms and maps is needed to move forward.

Super Metroid is one of those games that when I think back, holds many dear memories for me. It’s a game that taught me many life lessons, a game that taught me it’s ok to ask for help. It’s a game that when I hear people talk about it’s greatness and accomplishments, I can’t help but feel proud as if I somehow contributed to its existence. It’s why I’d truly call it, my video game…

I could go on for forever about Super Metroid, but this post is to focus on stories I can recollect of my time with the game. One instantly comes to mind. It’s a story about how the young boy known as myself, learned that attention to detail is key in games like Super Metroid. That scanning every nook and cranny or rooms and maps is needed to move forward. This story is none other than…

That Time Super Metroid Kicked My Ass

There comes a point in Super Metroid where you get to Upper Norfair, and need to proceed to Kraid’s Lair. Up to this point in the game, I was proceeding pretty smoothly. I really had to learn my way around Zebes, but never hit any major walls, besides a few mini bosses that terrified me as a child.

Back when I played Super Metroid, the concept of the internet was non existent. If you got stuck, you were screwed. There was no quick google searches of youtube videos conveniently showing you the solution. No Miiverse to post on why Metroid can’t crawl…

Kids these days… Well, I certainly hit my big wall in the game in Upper Norfair. The next area I had to get to was Kraid’s Lair. I had received the High Jump Boots. After that, I searched around and simply could not find my way forward. I went all around areas I had access to over and over again, passing many times by areas I knew I couldn’t get to yet for what felt like weeks on end. It was infuriated.

I felt like I found many upgrades, and ended up learning those parts of Zebes very well. In fact, I perfected the wall jump technique during this time. But I still couldn’t move forward no matter where I looked.

It was only when I turned to a friend of mine. You see, this friend is the one who turned me to Super Metroid. But he wasn’t the expert, he didn’t like the game very much, I sought the knowledge of one greater being than himself… his Father! Yes, his father was a master of Super Metroid. The man finished the game countless times in under 3 hours and got the secret ending. I was blown away how a game this big could be finished so quick, so surely he knew the answer.

I told this… father of my plight. Instead of telling me what to do, or booting up his game, he instead did something very special for me. I only realized what it was when my friend came over with a VHS tape from his father. This tape contained recorded footage of how I needed to proceed, along with some bonus footage or some secret power ups I would eventually run into. Score!

I popped the tape in and eagerly anticipated the big reveal of what I needed to do. Despite being ecstatic to finally find the answer, it’s was sad to find out the answer was under my nose the whole time, and had I simply looked very carefully at my map, I would have found the way…

See that there? Next to the pink room is a blue coloured room on the map?

They are side by side, which must been, there is a secret passage between the two. Laying a couple of bombs reveals that the wall can be broken with super missiles, and voila! The way to Kraid’s Lair is now open.

You see, it was such an easy solution, and part of me kicked myself for not finding it sooner, but was also relieved I was finally able to move on. From here, I was able to take out Kraid and smoothly progress through the game. This moment definitely taught me to really look carefully at my surroundings and map. Never will I hit a dead end again.

You see kids, this is what we had to resort to before the internet. Intimate techniques like this. I sadly have to say, I don’t have the VHS tape anymore, but the secrets it held have definitely cemented themselves in my memory and will never be forgotten. And that is the story of how Super Metroid kicked my ass. I hope you enjoyed it.

divider

adventure map


WordPress Reader viewers, please consider enjoying this post again on the site. While we designed with you in mind, you miss some of the nuances of the piece by not enjoying it in its original form.

patreon

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!
become_a_patron_button

<< Previous | Adventure Map | Next >>

StarCraft | The Game That Defines The Zerathulu View

<< Previous | Adventure Map | Next >>

TGTDU Logo - Copy

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

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.

Zerathulu has come from the abyss to bring you an amazing first piece of DLC for The Games That Define Us. Each of the four DLC pieces are absolutely incredible, so you all are in for a treat during the first four days of December. Zerathulu is an awesome writer (and future physics teacher) with a focus on discerning indie gaming. Their reviews are top-notch, and we think you’ll enjoy these recent favorites:

These next four days of The Games That Define Us are going to be awesome!

– Matthew, Normal Happenings

divider

starring

Dkk8740V4AATL_u

Zerathulu @ The Zerathulu View 

Twitter: @Zerathulu

For commonality!

Game: Starcraft
System: PC
Release Date: March 31, 1998

1P Start

Eight years later I somehow found myself in a tiny dorm room with an amazing bunch of like-minded people. It’s absolutely incredible how at university you can meet people from all backgrounds and still have so much in common. All of us were studying either Physics or Chemistry. All eighteen. All vociferous nerds… And all of us were hooked on StarCraft.

It was probably a weekend, because the midday heat was stifling and I was at home, rather than at school. My brother and I were upstairs in our tiny, poster-adorned shared bedroom, and like all brothers in a confined space we were arguing.

“You’ve had it all day, I haven’t had a go yet!”

“Get off, five more minutes!”

“You said that ages ago, it’s not fair!”

“Let me at least get to a PokeCenter to save!”

[sighing] “…fine…..”

*2 minutes later*

“…hey, you’re on a Route now!”

“I’m leveling-up my Pidgeotto, five more minutes.”

I was ten and my brother eight. The Pokemon craze was still in full swing but as you can guess, my brother and I shared a GameBoy Color. It would’ve been fine, but my brother did not know the meaning of the word ‘share’. He took what he wanted, when he wanted. It made no difference that I was older, he knew I was a pushover and knew how to exploit me. Frustrated with myself at not having the courage to do something other than run and tell, I left the room. Sulking my way down the stairs which led straight to the front door I saw a blurry pair of legs through the frosted glass, and seconds later my father walked through.

My dad is the definition of eclectic. He had so many interests that he wanted to spend time pursuing, and had banks of magazines devoted to fishing, photography, birdwatching, DIY, American Football, motorcycles, and so on. Usually he went through phases of being obsessed with spending time/money following one interest, then rotated every couple of months. Recently however he’d found something new, something that already we could all tell was special to him because he was already talking about forming a side-business to make some extra cash.

He had discovered computers.

Instantly noting the look of dejection on my face, he gives me a hug and asks me to give him a hand with something. He tells me he’s just been to the local computer fair and he’s bought some new upgrades for his desktop computer. I watch as he squats down next to the big grey machine and starts removing all manner of wires and chips and things, handing him a screwdriver or cable tie as and when he needed. I remember my ten-year-old brain being both fascinated by the inner workings of the machine, but simultaneously feeling like it may as well be alien technology that I’d never be able to understand. It didn’t help that he kept muttering words like ‘ram’, ‘gig’ and ‘motherboard’. It’s a cliché I know, but it genuinely sounded like another language at the time. After a little while he puts the side of the machine back on and boots the computer up.

I still don’t really see what’s supposed to be cheering me up. But his shopping bag still has one item left in it. As he pulls it out, I see it’s made of dark, glossy card, roughly the shape of a hardback book. On the front is an unquestionably alien face, with no nose or mouth but burning yellow eyes. A mosaic-like pattern covers its otherwise featureless physiognomy. It’s flanked on either side by the face of a much scarier-looking alien, with a grotesquely evil demeanor and razor-sharp teeth framed by a chin that’s tapered to a point, and the face of a human, with large goggles and an unflattering bulbous nose. Above the three faces was silver-grey writing as if wrought in iron, with a faint blue glow. Just one word was written:

StarCraft

screen-shot-2018-12-01-at-9-42-45-am.png

He digs out the disc from the case and inserts it into the drive with a series of whirrs and clicks, beginning the long and arduous process of installing the game. I was definitely a little curious, but the game took forever to install. It just went on and on. I waited as long as I could before heading to the kitchen for a drink. I came back; it was still loading. After what felt like hours (though we all know how differently time travels as a child) my dad gives me a nudge and tells me excitedly:

“It’s done!”

All I can remember thinking was that this had better be good. The opening cutscene did little to encourage me: the graphics were so pixelated and the characters’ accents so contrived that I could barely make out what was going on. But when that stopped and the actual game finally started, I sat up and took note. I watched as during the tutorial my father controlled a little robot-looking thing and ordered it to do tasks, like mining a patch of nearby blue crystals and putting together new buildings.

Screen Shot 2018-12-01 at 9.39.19 AM

Honestly? I had no clue what the point of the game was. There was no main character, no jumping, nothing to collect, no power-ups. I watched my dad quickly progress to the first main level. Some nasty looking aliens, by the looks of them the evil-looking ones from the box art, had been spotted near a human (though for some reason I couldn’t understand they were calling themselves ‘terrans’) settlement, and we needed to move the terrans someplace safe. The mean-looking boss guy put us in contact with the local marshall, a cool and friendly guy by the name of James Raynor.

I remember liking Raynor, he had a cool-sounding voice and he was completely dedicated to helping people in need, even if it got him into trouble with his superiors. But to be honest, I don’t recall much after that in terms of the story. I was just fascinated by the gameplay mechanics; controlling an army of different types of soldiers, ships, weapons and buildings, and using it different ways. I had never seen anything like this from a video game, which might have explained why I never fully got into the game at the time. The next time I saw my dad playing he seemed to be controlling one of the other races, the ones with deep, echo-y voices and super-advanced technology. As I stood behind him and watched over his shoulder he sent a lone fighter to attack a base by himself. To his surprise, the single fighter killed a slew of enemies during his final stand before falling. Unaware of my presence, I clearly remember my dad saying under his breath:

“Cor, he’s a tough little fucker that one.”

Pretty sure that was the first time I ever heard him swear.

Screen Shot 2018-12-01 at 9.38.54 AM

I couldn’t get into it. Not properly. It went on for too long, I couldn’t follow the story, and it was too different to anything I’d seen before in a video game. I lost interest, and my recollection of that period of time ends.

Eight years later I somehow found myself in a tiny dorm room with an amazing bunch of like-minded people. It’s absolutely incredible how at university you can meet people from all backgrounds and still have so much in common. All of us were studying either Physics or Chemistry. All eighteen. All vociferous nerds. All had strong opinions on the distinction between geeks and nerds. All totally in love with then presidential candidate Obama, even though we were studying in the UK.

And all of us were hooked on StarCraft.

Screen Shot 2018-12-01 at 9.39.27 AM

To this day I have no idea how all of us found each other, and how it was that all of us were into the game. As we were getting to know one another and the types of games we enjoyed, as soon as the first person mentioned Starcraft we all took turns to say: “Holy shit, me too!” I wasn’t as enthusiastic as the others, but I remembered the memories of watching my father play which gave me the sufficient impetus to go out and acquire a copy of the game before anyone noticed I didn’t already have one.

It was awesome to bond with my classmates like that, and we spent endless hours embroiled in weekly mini-tournaments among ourselves. I picked the game up quickly, remembering certain units and buildings from all those years before. I never won any of the tournaments (mostly due to one of the others being a God at playing as Protoss) but it didn’t matter, never had I felt so accepted. My school life had been so crappy, so full of bullies and isolation. I even had a teacher who once joined in with the class as they all made jokes at my expense (though to be fair, I was able to do a brilliant job of acting like it didn’t bother me in the slightest). So to go from that environment of assholes and clowns to one full of people that all thought like me…well, it was special. And StarCraft was a huge part of that.

Screen Shot 2018-12-01 at 9.39.34 AM

But more than anything else, I think it was the story of StarCraft and its sequel Starcraft II that made me. It’s unlike anything that I’ve played before or since. The magnitude and scope of the games is breath-taking, on a par with games like the Mass Effect and Final Fantasy franchises. Power struggles, overthrown empires, all-out war, sacrifice, revenge, star-crossed love, redemption, and the ever-present threat of a prophesied apocalypse, all beautifully woven together into a rich tapestry of storytelling.

But what’s key to note is the sheer length of time in between my humble first experiences with StarCraft to the final chapter of this epic saga: Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void. I was ten years old the day my dad pulled the game out of his plastic bag to cheer me up after the argument with my brother. Eighteen years old when my true love for the game was kindled by my coursemates. And twenty-six on the day I finished the last installment of StarCraft II and the story was brought to its incredible, breathless conclusion. A sixteen-year journey, over half of my life, from watching Raynor take his first steps on the road to heroism, to seeing Artanis triumph over the dark God, Amon. From seeing a corrupt and brutal Terran Confederacy morph into Mengsk’s tyrannical Dominion, to a peaceful democracy allied with the Protoss Daelaam.

Screen Shot 2018-12-01 at 9.39.38 AM

And from seeing a lowly Protoss Dark Templar, exiled from Aiur along with others of his kind for their rejection of the Khala, display courage and wisdom in his attempt to unify Templar and Dark Templar alike. It was he who taught the warrior Tassadar how to use Dark Templar energies in his suicide mission which destroyed the Overmind. It was he who used the prophecy to foresee the return of the Xel’naga, and raced to urge the principals in this story: Raynor, Kerrigan and Artanis, to work together and save the galaxy. And it was he who gave his life to free Artanis’ mind from the control of Amon, and allowed him to rally friends and foes alike under one banner to defeat the dark God. An individual of courage, intellect and cunning. A valiant warrior bearing a powerful message of hope, unity, and friendship, with incorruptible morals and the enduring belief of a single, unified Protoss. A being that made the most fundamental impact on me more than any other game character, who helped to shape me and make me who I am today, whose name I would take on not just to honour his legacy but to remind myself of the values that he embodied, and to strive to conduct myself in the manner befitting his name.

Zeratul.

divider

adventure map


WordPress Reader viewers, please consider enjoying this post again on the site. While we designed with you in mind, you miss some of the nuances of the piece by not enjoying it in its original form.

patreon

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!
become_a_patron_button

<< Previous | Adventure Map | Next >>

The Sims 4 | The Game That Defines Nerd Side of Life

<< Previous | Adventure Map | Next >>

TGTDU Logo - Copy

Audio

The Sims franchise has legendarily great music. We hope you enjoy this playlist of calm Sim-creation and build music. Feel free to keep it running in the background while you work, play, or read.

 

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

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.

Welcome to the final day of November — the end of regulation for The Games That Define Us! But not to fear, we’ve got four more incredible DLC posts coming up in the first four days of December! These will be followed up on December 5th by the final secret entry.

Thank goodness for optimism. We’ve had so many dark games lately, it’s refreshing to be joined by Alyssa from Nerd Side of Life to finish off November. She’ll be dissecting the latest, greatest game in the most popular life-sim franchise ever made. Alyssa just launched a Patreon, you know, so you should consider supporting a great content creator!

I love her writing style; it’s so fun-loving and quirky, but serious when it needs to be. Here are some recent favorites from Nerd Side of Life:

We’re in the homestretch now. Please enjoy this next chapter of The Games That Define Us!

– Matthew, Normal Happenings

divider

starring

DppdiPMXcAgEocw

Alyssa @ Nerd Side of Life 

Twitter: @alyssamichelle_

For living a great life!

Game: The Sims 4
System: PC
Release Date: September 2, 2014

1P Start

Even after streaming and playing, The Sims 4 is letting me express my creativity. When I feel like I don’t have any creativity in me, I find myself going on The Sims and building houses and creating families. So thank you Sims 4, for being the best game I could have asked for. You are there for me when no one else is.

1

As someone with two brothers, I’ve been around games my entire life. From playing Mario Kart on the GameCube and to Mario Party on the Wii, my brothers and I were obsessed with gaming. And then I got older and they got into shooting games. I had lost people to play with and the motivation to play. Until I saw The Sims 2 in a Toys R Us sales bin and convinced my mom to buy it for me. Actually, we had to go BACK and buy the base game – the thing I had selected was just a stuff pack. I felt incredibly foolish but needless to say my mother and I went trekking back to find the base game. From that moment in early 2009, I’ve been obsessed with the Sims franchise. The Sims franchise is known for many things – mainly how people use the Sims to kill people.

What? It’s entertaining to watch. Don’t lie and try to say you haven’t attempted it yourself.

I remember that my first family I made in The Sims 2 was just a random couple in some base game starter home. I didn’t play as hardcore then as I did now because I was only 13/14 playing the game. Anyways, my first family was just a husband and wife. I was excited because I had gotten her pregnant and she was about to give birth when just suddenly, out of nowhere, THE HUSBAND DIED. I didn’t kill him or anything, he just, died.

And then I befriended the Grim Reaper. Good times, good times.

Anyway, back to my backstory with The Sims. When The Sims 3 came out I was thrilled because the graphics looked so much cooler and I played it obsessively, until about 2010 when I got a MacBook and everything changed. The game wouldn’t load and it was no fun for me to play anymore. I would try every once in a while and it would just end in frustration and a frozen game. Despite all my frustration with trying to play the Sims 3 I still loved the franchise and followed it religiously, waiting for news a new release and desperately hoping for a better Mac release. I even continued to buy the games and still have them in my Origin account.

That was until the holy grail of The Sims came out. The Sims 4 came out in September of 2014 for PC users only (and boy was I pissed about that) and shortly after for Mac users in February 2015. It was a long couple of months until the release.

4.PNG

I was in class during release time, and had bought the PC version the night before knowing that it would download as Mac when it released – and I also researched about it and discovered that if I bought it the night before, I wouldn’t have to bring my debit card with me to class and I would just be able to download it. Which was a win for me because I wanted to be able to play it right then and there.

Thankfully, that was my last and only class of the day so I spent the rest of my day forgetting about food and other people and just playing Sims 4 in my dorm room. I chatted about it for a little with my then roommate (who is also a gamer – she understood my excitement) and my boyfriend, who just nodded and agreed to keep me happy. He brought me food that day so I wouldn’t have to starve because honestly – I would have.

I swear, there is a point to this. Just keep reading.

Around the time the game released for Mac users, I felt alone. It seemed like all my friends had left me and I was feeling oddly home sick. I didn’t want to be at school and I wanted to transfer out somewhere and just give up on life. I was depressed all the time, but when I had The Sims 4 open, I was satisfied and content with myself.

This is incredibly cliche and cheesy, but The Sims 4 was literally my escape. It allowed me to create myself with another person (usually whatever fictional character I am currently crushing on – at the time Matt Murdock probably, and now currently Kylo Ren and Dan Howell) and live out a life that I knew couldn’t exist. I’d started off married, have a boat load of kids, and then have my dream job and dream house. For those moments that I was in the game, I was truly living the life that I wanted to live.

2.PNG
It became even more fun when my boyfriend would join me and we would make ourselves (and still do – currently we have all daughters in game which makes me laugh) and have children, our dream careers, and he would see me happy and still supports me and my obsession.

After that, it was even more fun when I found a community of other Simmers who loved the game as much as I did. We share Sims, stories, builds, and just build each other up and make each other happy.

For a brief time I streamed playing on Twitch and it allowed me to make so many MORE friends because I could be myself and play something that I adored more than anything else. I made YouTube videos of me playing the game and even though they got no views, it felt nice to be able to share myself playing. (I want to get back into that, but life.)

3.PNG

Even after streaming and playing, The Sims 4 is letting me express my creativity. When I feel like I don’t have any creativity in me, I find myself going on The Sims and building houses and creating families. Sure, I don’t make storylines like some other Simmers do, but I make it what’s best for me. I’ve even started dabbling in CC recolors!

So thank you Sims 4, for being the best game I could have asked for. You are there for me when no one else is.

divider

adventure map


WordPress Reader viewers, please consider enjoying this post again on the site. While we designed with you in mind, you miss some of the nuances of the piece by not enjoying it in its original form.

patreon

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!
become_a_patron_button

<< Previous | Adventure Map | Next >>

Day Z | The Game That Defines Will

<< Previous | Adventure Map | Next >>

TGTDU Logo - Copy

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

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 zombies. They’re back.

You know what else is back? The illustrious double-act of Geek. Sleep. Rinse. Repeat! That’s right, today we’ve got Will from G.S.R.R. covering a surprisingly modern game. It’s a stark contrast to the previous zombie game we covered all the way back on day five.

Will composes some great pieces for G.S.R.R., so if you survive this piece, you should journey over there. Here are some recent favorites:

Also, be sure to check out Murr’s much brighter piece on Pokémon Red and Blue.

We’ve turned down the lights in order to set the mood. The hunt begins, as well as the next chapter of The Games That Define Us!

– Matthew, Normal Happenings

divider

starring

Dow6Zb8UYAAtKsL

Will @ geeksleeprinserepeat

Twitter: @Will_GSRR

For the adrenaline…

Game: DayZ
System: PC
Release Date: December 16, 2013

1P Start

Since DayZ, survival games have come in droves, some have stuck around but many failed and disappeared, they just couldn’t quite capture that DayZ feeling… I owe that game so much, it has shaped me as a gamer, it is the game that has inspired me to make videos, to write stories about my experiences. I’ve literally made friends for life playing it.

DayZ, just the mere mention of it can spark some very firm views; it’s a game that splits opinions, a game that has been sat in early access for over 4 years. Some say it will never be finished, some say it’s a scam, others claim it to be a unique and incredible experience. Whatever your opinion on it, for me, it completely changed my video game world.

DayZ first existed as a mod to Arma 2; I only played the mod after the standalone version came out back in December 2013. Back then I wasn’t really a PC gamer and only had a laptop that could run a few games that weren’t too taxing on your processor or that didn’t need a super powerful graphics card to run – basically I played Football Manager and that was pretty much it.

Nevertheless, I was excited for the DayZ standalone experience, I wanted to play it and forked out for it on steam when it first released. This was my first ever early access game and my first ‘proper’ video game on a PC in about 10 years. Up to that point I’d been an Xbox owner, all of my serious gaming was done on console. But with the new generation of consoles, my gaming community became fractured. I stayed with Xbox and got the XB1, as did one of my friends, Murr – who I run the site with, picked up a PS4, and our other friend didn’t get anything, slowly but surely our group played together less and less.

But all was not lost, I had another group on the horizon they were PC gamers – one of which was my now brother-in-law. Actually at that point he was the only one I really knew from the group.

So there I was, with my laptop – underpowered though it was, and booted up DayZ for the first time. It ran like crap, my laptop could barely handle running it – it sounded like a jet trying to take off whenever I played it, and there was basically no optimisation at all. I was lucky to get 20fps on it, but I still persisted and I’m glad I did.

One of my very first sessions playing has stuck with forever. I’d spent some time searching around Electro – one of the bigger cities on the coast, and had a decent bit of loot which included a revolver in my backpack. I was making my way to try and meet up with a friend when I was held up by this kid – he must have been about 13. He was trying to make me do this quiz in order to keep my life – kind of like in Monty Python when they’re crossing the bridge. Anyway, he turned his back on me and I was able to quickly equip the revolver from my backpack and kill him before he could kill me – he was always going to shoot me, I’m not dumb.

It was only a brief encounter, but it was my first one that I’d ever had in an open world online game, it was an encounter that was unscripted with a stranger. This was something that I’d never experienced before; my heart was racing because I didn’t know how it would play out. I knew there was a good chance I would die and that I would need to choose my moment to strike perfectly. After it was over, the adrenaline was running through me, I was excited and actually glad that I was alive.

This encounter set a precedent and every time I was playing DayZ things like this would happen often – totally unique and unscripted moments that you just couldn’t really get anywhere else. Remember that up to this point I had either been playing single player games, co-op games, or multiplayer shooter games like Halo, Gears, and Battlefield. In my eyes there had never been anything like DayZ before, nothing that offered this freedom, the potential to meet all these random people with totally unpredictable outcomes.

Over the next few months I played DayZ more and more, eventually to the point where I decided I needed an upgrade in my rig. So I forked out for a new PC powerful enough to run most games.

By this point I also now had 3-4 other people to play DayZ with and we would regularly group together for adventures. During our time playing we had firefights across airfields, made friends with survivors, betrayed other survivors, got betrayed by survivors, saved people, stole vehicles, crashed vehicles, died climbing ladders, lost hours’ worth of loot in the blink of an eye, ‘assaulted’ a place called Green Mountain only for it to end in a massacre. It was incredible and an unparalleled experience.

Before seriously getting in to PC gaming, I played a lot of single player games, I was able to sit down for hours upon hours and plow my way through huge expansive RPG’s, spending tens upon tens of hours exploring every inch of what they had to offer. Nowadays I can barely complete a game that has a campaign of around 10 hours. I just lose interest with so many games now. I have a burning desire to play co-op or online, to play these sandbox style survival games where ‘anything’ is possible. Spending almost 30 hours on Rust one weekend was a joy because it was an experience that only my friends and I had.

Writing my DayZ diaries series on my blog was such a fun experience that again, no one else will ever have. That is what has stuck with me all these years, so many unique and memorable moments with my friends that you just can’t get playing games like Call of Duty or similar.

But it’s not just my experiences that I’ve loved, I’ve also loved watching and hearing about others playing the game, I closely followed a number of YouTubers through their adventures in the game seeing what they would get up to and who they would meet.

Since DayZ, survival games have come in droves, some have stuck around but many failed and disappeared, they just couldn’t quite capture that DayZ feeling. Sure it ran like crap, and has been stuck in development hell for years, but I owe that game so much, it has shaped me as a gamer, it is the game that has inspired me to make videos, to write stories about my experiences. I’ve literally made friends for life playing it.

The experiences I’ve had in that game are unique to the people playing at that moment in time and that’s what makes it so special for me, not knowing what’s going to happen when you next log on to play.

divider

adventure map


WordPress Reader viewers, please consider enjoying this post again on the site. While we designed with you in mind, you miss some of the nuances of the piece by not enjoying it in its original form.

patreon

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!
become_a_patron_button

<< Previous | Adventure Map | Next >>