Wedding Brain - The Difficulties of Having an Adult Wedding

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As an adult-child and proud dork, I'm having a hard time adjusting to the fact that getting married really is something I should take seriously and not inflict my, how do I say, various influences on. From the music to whether or not I can have bride and groom Emperial Walker cake toppers have come into consideration. Sure Mahna, Mahna is not an elegant classic, but it holds just as much meaning as Brian Adams' Anything I'll Do in my heart.

Shopping for a suit seems to be really hard as well. We're not having a typical wedding, not to say it won't be fancy (hence my disappointment over the nulled cake toppers), but it's not a tuxedo affair. After reviewing some prices and being simultaneously annoyed by and jealous of the fact my fiancee found an uber good deal on a dress, I feel disheartened that I may end up having to rent. This is one area where I actually always wanted to shine. Sure, I teased a tuxedo t-shirt, but it was just that. I want to own a suit, it's just I wish it was something Costco offered pre-packaged and reasonably priced.

Another couple of important things that need to be reasonably priced as well are the ceremony and the reception. We're having both in one place that was agreed upon. The figurative downside to paying for it all is we're keeping it to our nearest and dearest. There's really no problem with that in the long run, but, dag nabbit, I wanted my first wedding to be a relatively big one. It's my day! Sorry, a little Groomzilla came out there.

In the end though, it will be about the fact that I'll be married to the woman I love and want to spend the rest of my life with. Sure, I'll have to be a well dressed and respectable adult for a day, but she's well worth it. I can go without that They Might Be Giants song on an elegant play list. I can live without cake toppers on an already beautiful cake. I can grow up for a day. I don't want to, but for her, I'll do most anything, except get a cat.

Ni no Kuni First Impression (Not a Review)

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There are some light spoilers ahead (Ye be warned!)

Because I've only played the game for five hours, just dipping my toe in the water to check the temperature of this ocean sized epic, I've decided to write a first-impressions entry until I get to the point I can write a review! It will happen, just don't hold your breath. For those who don't know/ care, Ni no Kuni is an RPG from renowned developer Level-5 in cahoots with legendary animation studio Ghibli.

The story follows Oliver, a thirteen year old living in the Japanese interpretation of a quaint 1950's American Town named Motorville. After a freak incident, his mother dies. Caught up in the despair, Oliver locks himself from the world. His tears of sorrow bring to life a doll, named Drippy, who is apparently the High Lord of all Faeries. He tells Oliver a way to bring his mother to life which also requires him to save a magical and parallel world.

So, the vibe from the beginning is pretty dark. Olivers inherent goodness and Drippy's quips balance out the darker tones and bring the charm and emotional depth of most of Ghibli's films (for those familiar). The game looks like you're playing a Ghibli movie. Smart cell-shading and environments that look hand painted helped me get drawn into the game in a personal way I did not expect.

Heart has always been an important element in Ghiblis movies and Ni no Kuni is no exception. After roughly two hours of playing, I was literally mending a broken heart. Olivers goodness seems to play a key role in the story outside of being a strong character trait. Perhaps with his goodness lies the lesson of the journey. Drippy's enthusiasm is contagious and I found myself egged on to continue the journey, even when I lost to a boss a few times toward the end of the five hours.

Animal puns and cute critters (even the ones you fight) keep the game fun and engaging for me. The animals remind me of a cross between Pokemon and other Ghibli creatures, such as Ponyo or Totoro.

Combat is a blast. In the tougher boss fights, micromanaging properly switching between your critter, defending and healing were critical to success. Combat is a mix of real-time elements with turn-based style menus, which I imagine will require a lot more tactics later in the game, per the sub-genre's usual standards.

Ni no Kuni so far hasn't molded the JRPG into something new. Instead, the game feels like a throwback to JRPG's of old, when they ruled the genre. That in itself feels like an important lesson Level-5 and Ghibli wants to press onto us. I haven't felt this way about any RPG since Skies of Arcadia and I can't wait to dive back in and continue this gorgeous, heart felt, journey.

Killing My Interest Not So Softly

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From jumping on goombas' or turtles' heads to blowing up enemy bases, violence has always played a critical role in character-based games. Doom, Mortal Kombat and God of War all faced controversy because of their levels of blood-gushing, gratuitous violence. As someone who's approaching thirty, I'm used to blood and guts in my games.

Recently, developers and publishers have amped up the shock value by including rape and killing children as part of gaming. I don't know if it's my age, but it feels wrong and not just because such content is often very poorly executed.

In Batman: Arkham City, players hear chatter from goons keeping watch on the rooftops and streets of Arkham City. Eavesdropping on goons reflecting how theyd very much enjoy an intimate encounter with another convicts mother or some other **** feels as if the writers got bored and said, Sure. Why not? That sounds obnoxiously goon-like.

Being in a happy, monogamous relationship, I can safely and securely say that I enjoy a curvy woman on a regular basis - unless she's pissed at me. However, I had to laugh and shake my head at the absurdity of Hawke's clearly post-menopausal mother sporting a rack that perky in Dragon Age 2. Perhaps they were fake and that's why they hardly moved. Scantily-clad women have their time and their place, but they must get cold in those metal thongs and braziers. Thats why they shoot the Sports Illustrated annual swimsuit issue on a beach and not Antarctica. A woman running with her bared ass-cheeks through the snow doesnt say sexy nymph to me. Is there a hypothermia fetish in gaming of which Im unaware?

What I have a hard time wrapping my brain around is imagining the moment in the writers room when people nodded their heads in agreement at the writer who said, Hey, itd be really fun to include some rape in our game. It doesn't matter if the character is trying to escape from being raped. Its a cheap, lazy way to create tension that adds nothing. Sure, gratuitous, consensual sex and violence sell, but is there no point at which the little voices in the developers heads tell them theyve crossed a line?

In a landmark case involving whether a movie was or wasnt hard core pornography, the late Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously remarked, I know it when I see it. I realize that there is constant pressure and fierce competition for game producers to come up with the next big thing. However, blowing up children with car bombs and villains threatening to rape a players character is not the answer. The answer is to dig deeper to develop strong, original story lines, challenging game play and to never stop bettering the quality of graphics to enhance the experience.

Swag and Story: My Ideal RPG

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The idea, for most modern epics, that an adventure isn't about the end, but about the journey certainly has its appeals. These kinds of adventures make for great reads and some of the finest multimedia franchises out there. When it comes to video games, I need some more meat on my RPG sandwich.

Skyrim is a beautiful, vast, game with tons of things to do. You can follow the story and face the dragon that has been threatening the realm of Skyrim, or you can build a house. You can choose to hunt vampires or become a vampire. The world is your playground, it's just not for me.

Perhaps it's the lack of focus or definition that keeps me from getting lost in this apparently deep world. The icy realm definitely sounds cool on paper. My main gripe is the player has too much flexibility and that kills the sense of danger and immediacy and, therefore, the sense of adventure. I need a good reason to set out and invest time into an RPG. Call me cynical, but the first dragon-born in however long to come around trying to figure out why he/ she is chosen and tasked to save a bunch of creepy people that stop to stare at you whenever your near aren't good enough reasons to run all over the place and risk your life for.

I like my RPG's to have character. The it-thing now in RPG's is to have a kind of create your own adventure aspect to it. You can choose your own race, sex, class, age, features, yadda yadda yadda. You can choose actions that determine how people react to you and even effect certain story-arcs. I prefer my character to have a bit of definition starting out. Commander Shepard, from Mass Effect, comes to mind.

What makes these games special to me is learning about my own character as I play, as well as whatever companions may come along. Both Dragon Age games, the Mass Effect trilogy, The Witcher and Borderlands 2 give enough back-story to the characters that I care why I'm saving the galaxy and about who my character is. This helps me get more involved in the game and makes it easier to embrace the warm sense of escapism.

Another big draw to these games are the loot. Diablo 3, Torchlight 2 and Borderlands 2 dangle the loot over my head like kids playing with a cat better than most games. Many guns, swords, armor, shields, grenade mods, off hands await my discovery. Just the prospect of all the swag makes me go into a twitchy, drooling, day dream.

Back to character. Borderlands 2 has plenty of its own. Sure, the game-play may not be as deep as most RPG's, but the insane personality the game exudes, helped by the gonzo art-style, keep it fresh and fun to play. The personality poured into the game stretches out into the world, making Pandora one of the most interesting game worlds in recent gaming history.

I also enjoy a good challenge. Note: throwing a level 15 cat into an area where a level 10 character is trying to get to a level 9 quest area is just cheap. Dark Souls is a great example of difficulty done right. It holds the gamer responsible for figuring out their past, finding out where to go, and making sure you pay attention to your surroundings and enemies. It also requires that you have patience and learn certain strategies to survive the many dangerous obstacles and encounters. The game punishes you, severely, if you die, but also brushes you off and urges you to continue. Borderlands 2 is similar in that way, it can get very challenging and does punish you for dieing, but you spawn close to where you die and you try, try again.

Narration is also very important in RPG's. Varric, from the critically debated Dragon Age 2, holds a special place in my heart. His witty, dead-pan delivery of Hawke's rise to fame in Kirkwall a fun and engaging story, despite the abrupt ending. Mass Effect, on the other hand, has a more cinematic vibe to it. Following your build of Shepard throughout his/ her epic campaign against the reapers to the end is just as thrilling and arguably more gratifying than watching the ending of most celebrated sci-fi movies.

There is certain appeal to open-world RPG's. I just prefer more structured, story heavy adventures. However, the making-choices aspect does appeal to me. Just don't forget the swag and story.

I Stand Alone: A True Story of Canned Tuna, Betrayal, and American Cheese

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All the cheese was gone! That's all that ran through my mind as I made my way to work on the bus and over-crowded subway. Never mind that it was the worst downpour of the year and two-days after Christmas.

We had tuna melts, or, as my girlfriend and her daughter promptly corrected me, tuna delights the night before. My arguments that they're one and the same fell on stubborn ears. It was me vs. the world.

From my perspective, tuna melts and tuna delights are the same thing. Maybe even that tuna delights are derived from the tuna melt. When I was a kid, tuna melts were open faced, on slices of bread with tuna mixed with mayo, an optional slice of tomato, and a slice of American-Cheese. The major difference in the tuna delight is that it's on an English-muffin.

According to the other four people sitting at the dinner table, the differences between the two sandwiches were quite obvious. They claimed the tuna melt was closed and grilled like a grilled cheese, while the tuna delights are opened face. My call of shenanigans was futile. Even our house guest was proven a Judas when it turned out he was just humoring me! However, their lack of proof let me retreat to the shadows and exact my vengeance.

I digress. Back to the cheese. It was all gone! My sandwich for lunch that day would just be ham and mustard! Never mind that the house would soon be afloat!

Then I got an idea. Indeed, there was a way for me to compensate for the lack of American-Cheese. In the refrigerator there was a spread. Not just any spread, but Acme's Alaskan Smoked Salmon spread! Such revered things are talked about in whispers and hushed-code in our house.

There were even onion bagels on the counter. Huzzah! My taste buds would end up satisfied after all.

My good mood wasn't meant to last. SWithin the 30 seconds it took me to leave the house to get to the bus-stop, I was soaked. Luckily the bus was headed up the street when I get there. Dripping, I slumped down in my seat on the bus and grumbled to myself All the damn cheese is gone!

Les Miserables Film Review

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As someone who has never seen the stage production, I expected "Les Miserable" to follow a trend of darker toned, almost anti-holiday releases this December. Or, as Anne Hathaway and Samuel L. Jackson put in in their hilarious Funny or Die send up for Les Miz and "Django Unchained," nothing says Christmas like avenging slaves and dying French whores.

The movie follows Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) beginning in early 1815 with his lifetime parole after serving 19 years of horrific French imprisonment (five years for stealing a loaf of bread and the rest for escape attempts). Valjean, unable to find work or any scrap of human kindness as an ex-con, breaks his parole and what follows is the great-great-great-great-great grandmother of all chase stories as police officer, Javert (Russell Crowe), spends the next 16 years tracking him down.

It's inspiring to watch Valjean transform from a bitter, hateful man into a successful, honorable citizen and dutiful father all while being hunted. There are so many memorable and fascinating characters andstory-linesthat play outparallelto Valjean and Javert, it's no wonder high school students find themselves wishing there were Cliff Notes for the Cliff Notes when assigned to read Victor Hugo's weighty original novel.

The performances are mostly fantastic with veteran stage performers Hugh Jackman (Valjean), Eddie Redmayne (Marius), and Samantha Barks (Eponine) laying the foundation of strong vocals and giving heft to Anne Hathaway's Fantine (the dying French prostitute) and Russell Crowe's tormented cop, Javert. Hathaway's acting and vocals (I could hear people reaching around in their pockets for tissues during "I Dreamed a Dream") were breathtaking and her overall performance should earn her armfuls of award nominations.

Russell Crowe does not have a the booming stage voice of the more traditional Javert, but his acting was so subtle and honest that it worked. The least successful of the performances for a major character was Amanda Seyfried as Cosette. Seyfriend is pretty enough to play Valjean's cherished adopteddaughterbut she lacked both the pipes and the acting chops to leave any lasting impact.

Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Benham Carter were delightfully scummy as the infamous thieving inn-keepers,Monsieurand Madame Thenardier. I was grateful that neither actor attempted to reshape their character in their own image which could easily have destroyed their big number and one of my favorites,Master of the House."

Redmayne's performance throughout the movie and of singing Empty Chairs and Empty Tables was raw and definitely showed off the advantage of filming live-singing.

Knowing that the actors were singing live as they filmed draws the audience into the story with greater authenticity than a pitch-perfect soundtrack recorded in a studio andlip-syncedby actors during filming months later. The moment when you find out Javert knows that he has finally found Jean Valjean is one of the more physically andmusicallyimpressive moments as both actors sing while fighting.

Running at a meaty 157 minutes, I never felt the movie sagged - and not just because I already knew most of the songs.

There's a reason "Les Miserables" is such a celebrated musical and Tom Hooper such a venerated film maker. The decision to film live-singing showcases the best of film and the best of live performance - not an easy task. The impressive set design creates a gritty 19thcentury Paris while at the same time resisting the temptation to become strictly a period piece. Rather, Hooper and the performers remind us why Hugo's story is timeless.

**Note: This was written by my girlfriend and myself**

The Hobbit: An Unexpted Journey Review

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Peter Jackson returns to directing/ writing/ producing Tolkien's Middle Earth, this time telling the story of how Bilbo Baggins obtains the One Ring and battles Smaug, the dragon. The tale is lighter in heart than the brooding Lord of the Rings, providing more kid-friendly moments. A few returning faces, such as Ian McKellen, Ian Holms and Hugo Weaving provide a sense of continuity for those who have seen the LoTR trilogy. Though, because of the limits of The Hobbit's plot, and stretching it through three more movies, the movie does not necessarily hold up to the standards that Jackson previously set.

The story begins with a brief look into the life of elder-Bilbo (Holms), before the events of Fellowship of the Ring, who is starting to write his memoir, There and Back Again. The story then flashes back to younger Bilbo (Martin Freeman) who's perfectly content to stay in the Shire. Gandalf (McKellen) appears and tries to talk Bilbo into going on an adventure. Thirteen Dwarfs trash Bag End and explain that they need to take their kingdom back from the dragon Smaug. After a bit of convincing, Bilbo joins the dwarfs on their journey.

Running at 160 minutes, being part one of three, and adapting it all from a roughly 300 page book with plenty of supplemental material from Tolkien's works/ appendices, this first movie is a weighty quest. Much like butter spread thin over too much toast, even a patient person like me had a hard time sitting through this oversized fetch-quest. My less patient girlfriend compared it to paying $11 to watch someone play WoW for 3 hours.

That's not to say the adventure doesn't have it's appeals, especially to LoTR fans. The highlight of the movie, and the break it needed, was a battle of wits between Gollum (Andy Serkis, reprising) and Bilbo Baggins. To see the more feral, younger, and kind of adorable, Gollum, to the screen added some much needed blend of humor and danger to this mostly one-note story.

Thorin Oakenshield, the rightful king of the land Smaug has invaded, has an endearing tale of his own and acts as the emotional weight of the film. His not necessarily wanting Bilbo Baggins there matches nicely with Bilbo unsure if he wants to be there. An orc enemy from Thorin's past is hunting the small band to seek vengeance.

This movie is bright and greatly detailed, making for a more fantastical tale than Frodo's quest to destroy the One Ring. Mostly CGI creatures both work and don't work, the highlight of them being Gollum. The orcs and goblins look almost identical and the main villain looks like something right out of an action video game. The Goblin king was another highlight, linking the audience more to Tolkien's meaty lore within Middle Earth and being an intimidating foe for the band of dwarves.

The performances are top notch. Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman and Richard Armitage (Thorin) all bring their a-games and the results are ones that make me care what happens to these characters and the band they travel with. The camera can be unusually blurry when panning, resulting in a sense of vertigo for some, and there are ties to The Lord of The Rings that don't particularly add to Bilbo's story. For the most part, Jackson and co. make another quality adventure that, while not as interesting as the Lord of the Rings, I want to invest in and continue to follow through 2 more movies.

Borderlands 2 Review

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Three years is a long time for someone to wait for the next entry in one of their favorite series or franchises. Borderlands 2 was three-years in the making well spent. Gearbox takes everything from the original, amps it up (with a bit of wub-wub, of course) and sends it out the door with a coat of gorie sheen. They may have stuck to the basics of what would make it a sequel, but Gearbox also shows us that more of the same is more! can, indeed, work.

This time there's a cohesive plot to follow. Sure it's a typical race the badman to big bad weapon so he won't cap a fool and rule the world! scenario, but it's a lot more interesting than the originals vague set up and the villain, Handsome Jack, is really a [not nice person]. The plot that is based around Jack's racing to the super-weapon that is in a vault directly and indirectly involves the vault-hunters and this is where you come in. Sure, it may be cliché, but it fits Borderlands' insane sense of humor and visual design very well.

You get to choose from four vault-hunters, you lucky gamer you. Salvador, the Gunzerker, can duel wield guns, regenerating health and ammo while gleefully shooting baddies. Axton, the Commando, can throw out (and redeem) a customizable turret, which can emit a defensive shield, act like a nuke, or shoot missiles. Maya, the Siren, has a Phase-lock enemies, lifting them into a force-field, paralyzing them and leaving them prone to bullets, explosions and other kinds of unpleasant acts. Zero, the Assassin, can snipe, stealth and use his samurai sword for some serious crittastic melee damage, he also releases a decoy to distract enemies while in stealth. Each has their sets of one liners and zings to make them even more distinguishable.

Pandora, though, remains the most endearing character. At once beautiful and deadly, Gearbox has done a great job of showing us that there are more than just deserts and pretty-plains to Pandora. From icy tundras, to acidic caverns, to warehouses and cities, the environs in Borderlands 2 are very diverse.

Gearbox shows us that it's not the ending that's important, but the journey and those we meet along the way. And the loot! Oh, the sweet-sweet loot! There are guns, lots and lots of guns! There are shields, relics, class mods, and grenade mods as well. Most of the gear that drops is random, so there's mostly no guarantee you'll get the same gun, shield, etc., twice.

Characters, old and new, make up a large part of Borderlands 2's zany-charm. From fruit-cake favorites like Clap Trap, Zed, and Marcus, to newcomers like Tiny Tina and the now NPC vault-hunters from the original game, the writing is fun and the delivery is pitch perfect. The humor may mostly be low-brow, but good writing and execution make it hilarious and fresh all the same.

Large and diverse talent trees for each class let's you hone in on your play-style. If you want to tank with Salvador duel-wielding a rocket launcher and shot gun, go for it. If you want to snipe with Zero and communicate all of your enemies critical spots, there's a build for that too. Each character has three different trees to spread their points around. Unfortunately, there are 50 levels and leveling begins at level 5, which at first feels very, very, far away, but so good once you finally obtain it.

New head and body customization drops have been added. You can now change your character's (and your vehicles) appearance via the new New-U machines scattered throughout Pandora. This only really matters in menu screens and co-op, considering you never see yourself in game, but it's a nifty little add-on that gives loot hunters that much more to hunt for.

The customization also stretches to the PC settings. From standards like Resolution to an fov slider, there are plenty of graphic, sound and rebinding-key options for your gaming enjoyment. The game runs at a pretty smooth 30-60 FPS with my medium-grade gaming PC with PhysX options turned on high. There are very short load times and the game looks gorgeous, especially with the PhysX and lighting options on.

Playing with friends is also fast and easy. If they're in your Steam list, you can just join their games. You can also invite them to yours, complete with a lobby where you can see yours and your friends avatar.

Of course, playing with friends is the preferred way, considering you trust them and all. Loot is once again free-for all. There is a trade option available, but if you're pugging, you should probably still expect to play a game of Who's the Fastest Ninja?

Gearbox does not introduce a whole lot that's new. They took what they had, which was very solid three years ago, and polished, spit shined it, wrapped it up in a larger container and laid it before our feet. The vehicles still control with mouse and key-board. Characters, both hostile and friendly, blurt out crazy and often hilarious lines. Weapon chests still have that awe factor to them when they open. The game play is still based around shooting stuff and blowing stuff up but good.

It's also not perfect. Rag-dolls get caught in the environment and sometimes enemies will stare ahead of them as they're being flanked and shot from the sides. I also experienced one or two quest glitches that may have since been fixed.

Borderlands 2 is a fantastic and fun journey. It may be more of the same, but everything I loved about the original feels improved. The water color tapestries that make up the environments where I spin donuts in my bandit truck or ruthlessly slaughter bandits shows a new and beautiful side to an old friend. The increased use of voice acting gives great depth to the characters and makes the aged plot that much more palatable. Having a defined purpose also makes for great incentive to go out and stop that Jerk, Handsome Jack.

Pros:

-More of the same "Borderlands"

-Diverse quests, great writing

-Plot gives room for character development and emotional moments

-Pretty environments

- Things blow up good

Cons:

- A few graphical and quest bugs

-More of the same "Borderlands"

Socially Challenged? Putting On A Balancing Act

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Friends, family, work, and recreation are all important parts of life. We all have priorities, some the rest as others, others can be quite unique. But, where's the line? How much of each thing do we focus on and if there are many facets, how much do we focus on each part? This series is about my journey to build my social confidence up through video games and other various means.

I am sure that this part has been dreaded. The moaning and groaning of being put through yet another talk of ethics, moral obligations, etc. Well, yes and no. I believe it's important to put a large part of your focus on friends, family and keeping food on the table. But damn it, we all need that alone time as well. Yet, even in gaming, I feel an obligation to my friends to game with them, even if there's a single player game I want to play. I also sometimes feel left out if there's a group of friends playing a game I do not have. It could be residual wreckage leftover from losing the group of friends I used to game with.

Being a gamer, balancing time between multi-player and single player games has been the biggest hurdle for me. Recently, the PC v. console aspect has been gnawing on me. I have games on both consoles and PC I want to play, yet the more social aspect for me is on PC. Especially with Borderlands 2, Torchlight 2, and a bunch of games I have on my PS3, and X Box 360 I want to play through/ finish, it's hard focusing. I'll let you know if/ when I work this part out.

No one says relationships don't require any work. The best relationships require little work. This is the case with me and my girlfriend, who I happily live with. We've had our struggles and spats over our 2 ½ years of being together. She gave me an ultimatum between her or WoW when I became, once again, obsessed with it. I of course chose her and we moved on from there. I can tell having a gamer boyfriend is not the easiest thing for her. Yet, I'm not that guy who will just keep gaming if she needs attention or has something important to talk about/ do.

It's hard to balance pleasantries and what's important. In my teenage years, in one of his infamously lengthy life-lesson lectures to me, my dad told me that it's like tending a garden. The family plant would need more water than the friend plant. The friend plant would need more water than the work plant. The work plant would need more water than the recreation plant. You get the point. Do I live by this philosophy and mindset now? No. Yet, it sticks with me now and helped me become the nice and easy going guy I am now, on a more ethical level.

I maintain relatively regular contact with a few high-school friends, my brother, dad and live close enough to my mom that I see her regularly. I have my reasons for being distant and pretty independent, and that's okay too. The way I look at it, if you feel content with how you balance things, then you don't need to change a thing. I don't feel that content in my life, very few people do.

Helping SuperMassive (thegamerpost.com) has helped me find some balance on a social and creative level. His words of, You give such great advice. You need to take it yourself, stick in my head and I realize how lucky I am that I tend to surround myself with good people. I work hard to be a good person, despite the fact that I'm not among the most outgoing and that leads to being more balanced and content.

I'd like to be able to write more. My lack of self-confidence, and therefore motivation, keep me from sitting down and writing. This series has definitely helped me, as has taking a good-friend to college over the last three days. I know I'm creative enough and somewhat knowledgeable enough to write the fiction I've had in my head for years. Just putting pen-to-paper (quite literally) is not the easiest thing and can be quite scary. Yet, it also can be thrilling and I'm looking forward to what I can turn out once I get myself writing again.

Socially Challenged? Light the Fuse And Blow Off Some Steam

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Losing a good friend sucks, I mean really sucks. Especially when it's someone you've known for a few years, have been there for each other, talk to every day, etc. Well, I had a rough friend break-up and almost hit bottom. This series is about my journey to build my social confidence up through video games and other various means.

I could never find any good solutions in WoW, other than the fact that I could just keep building and improving my characters. The game doesn't sound like anything special to most people. I found myself playing hooky from work with lame excuses and almost getting fired/ dumped in the process to play the game. Playing me physically and emotionally numb. All that mattered when I logged in were the scores and honor I racked up in PvP. Considering what rock-bottom means for a lot of people, I get that it doesn't sound that bad, but now you understand what I mean when I say WoW takes me to a bad, dark, place.

Then there is Fuse, which I have to thank for existing in the first place so I had a place where I could let out my frustrations and nerd-out about video games and other things. This is where I got attached to certain people and joined Steam and reached out to them more. What a great social outlet both Steam and Fuse are for the gaming community.

Socially, I tend to lock up when I'm gaming on consoles. It used to be that unless there was a real life friend on, who mainly consisted of my former besty and his friends, I would feel like I was intruding if I sent a message or game invite. Maybe this will change with Steam, but even then, there are just a handful of people I really reach out to and annoy, though I think they would block me if I really got on their nerves. Why yes, I am available on both PSN and X Box Live.

It was through months of commenting on various peoples Fuse posts and making a few of my own that I started building a small social niche. Talking with them influenced me to get my steam account rolling again and contact them that way, as well as possibly game with them some. Now, this is not meant as a puff-piece on Steam, there are plenty of ways to reach out and socialize via the internets/ various console social networks.

Now, I'm more inclined to reach out on Steam, PSN and even XBL. Also, I am active in SuperMassives streams (which I highly recommend viewing via Twitch.tv) and have networked with others that way. Of course I'm still reluctant, maybe that just has to do with my gaming skills, but I look at the fact that I just started Counter Strike and manage to get at least one kill most games as a good thing. Woot.

Where I stand now is I have a handful of friends who I chat with regularly and game with occasionally. We talk games and life and whatnot and give our opinions and even occasionally play a game or two together. It's nice and is a good start to what is turning out to be a long journey.