2016 will go down in record as probably the worst I’ve ever experienced. All of the tragic celebrity deaths aside, my life went head over heels topsy turvy in ways I never expected.
I went from having a moderately decent suburban life with a great little family and a wealth of furry critters, to losing it all. I found out that my husband wanted a divorce and we therefore had to sell our home. I had to rehome one of my dogs, and another of them passed away a week ago at the ripe age of 14. I had to sell my horse, which was a devastating blow. I moved to a new townhome with my son, who has been my rock through this whole thing.
It’s easy for me to fall into the “fuck the world, everything sucks” trap, but I’ve never been one to do that. I still have a life to live, and I’ll be damned if I’m spending it mourning what was rather than working toward what I want to happen. I’ve spent a lot of time figuring out my identity post-motherhood, and I’ll admit I’m still in the thick of that, but I have a renewed clarity and motivation now that was hiding before.
In 2017, I have some plans. I’m not going to call them resolutions, and I’m not even going to call them goals. I have things I’m working toward and I will do my best to make strides toward achieving them. But I know that I’m single parenting a toddler, working a full time job, and I’ve been dealt a shitty deck of cards this year and I have a climb out of the rut ahead of me. I’m going to grant myself grace to not achieve everything, because my main job in life is to keep my son thriving, happy, and on a path to becoming a good person.
Having said that, he’s what I’m hoping to spend some time doing & thinking about in 2017:
- Gaming more. It’s been hard to find time for it, but since I’ve been back playing a bit of Skyrim, Overwatch, League, and mobile games, I’m feeling rejuvenated and a little more like “myself”. I have to remember to make time to do this, because I enjoy it. My biggest hobby (horses) was taken away from me, so I can’t just let myself be hobbyless. Gaming makes me feel good, so it’s gotta become a priority again for me.
- Reading more books. I say this every year, but this year I mean it. I want to try to read (or listen to) a book a week. It’s easy for me to listen to podcasts instead, or skim news articles rather than sit down with a good book. But I have a Goodreads “to read” list a mile long with lots of meaty fantasy, inspiring nonfiction, and a couple of trashy romances thrown in for good measure.
- Less internet. In particular, less smartphone. Considering during 2016 my wrist has been in a cyclical state of healing and reinjuring from repetitive stress from iPhone usage, I have to do something about that. It’s easy for me to fall into a trap of playing on my phone and browsing Facebook while my son is independently playing. But I want to be more present in general.
- Figuring out My Life ™. I have a bunch of loose ends and big ambitions to figure out. I have a great job, but I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I “grow up” (and at 32, I should probably get on that). I want a hobby farm, and I would like to make some real strides toward making that happen. It probably means leaving California, and that’s okay. It might not happen in 2017, and that’s okay too. It might mean crashing in my parent’s attic for a year while I save to make my dreams happen for me and Henry.
- Be more social. One thing that I’ve discovered, is that when you’re in a relationship for 9 years you tend to just rely on the other person for most of your companionship. At least I did. Throw in that most of my friends work in games and moved away over the past few years, and it’s left my existence rather lonely. I don’t have a ton of friends, and the ones I do are mostly text communication buddies at this point. I’d like to make new friendships, but at the very least I just need to flex my social muscles before I get too much out of practice and forget how.
- Healthy eating & exercise habits. I already started this one by losing 22 lbs since October, but instead of making this a “stick to my diet” resolution, I’m going to say that I want to keep up the habits I’ve made. I want to keep steering far clear of sugar, because it has no redeeming qualities aside from taste. I want to get moving around more, hiking and lifting weights again. I want to get better sleep at night.
I’m excited to start the year with a fresh slate. I’ll be officially divorced on January 1st, so I’ll need to figure out that whole name changeback thing. If I do it.
Apparently, I’ve been nominated for Liebster award — which means that Belghast has tagged me with the task of answering some questions on this here very blog! Since I’m still trying to get back into blogging, this is a good opportunity for me to do some thinking and lay down some words for y’all. Thanks Bel!
What are the three major elements of your ideal video game?
This is a fun question, but man – it’s kind of difficult. Because I have a few favorite types of video games and sometimes they have absolutely nothing in common. Sometimes my ideal video game is a fun roguelike where I don’t have to pay too much attention to the story and I can just die over and over. Sometimes my ideal video game has a lot of competition. And sometimes it’s a sprawling RPG world.
But I’ll say the first is probably story. Story is important to me if I’m going to be attached to the game and feel compelled to write about it and engage with it outside the game. It’s what draws me in to the characters and the world and the lore, so it’s why games like WoW and Dragon Age and Mass Effect really appeal to me. The second is collection. I love collecting things in games, whether it’s minipets, quests, gear, achievements, you name it. Having this feeling that I’m amassing some giant stockpile of ‘stuff’ is just always fun for me. The final element for me is character design. My ideal video game has fully fleshed out characters with detailed backstories who are believable, diverse, interesting, and preferably female. =)
What’s the origin of your blogging name?
Cuppy is the name that I choose for most things nowadays. It stemmed from Cuppycake, which was the character I chose for my Undead Priest in WoW when I made her back in 2004. I decided that I wanted the most cutesy sounding name because it would be ironic compared to my ugly Undead character with her jaw hanging off and her bones sticking out. Since then, Cuppy has stuck. My original MMO blog was Cuppytalk and I’ve chosen to keep the name ever since.
What is your favorite biome?
Easy. Jungly Forests. Not dark scary forests like Silverpine, but forests like Feralas. Lush, green, full of vines, hills, random flowers. Bright green palette. A place where I’m more likely to find whimsical critters than big baddies. Mushrooms and butterflies rather than icky swamps.
What is your favorite genre of movie?
Documentaries, actually. I watch a TON of documentaries. Basically anything that hits Netflix or Amazon Prime, I’ve seen it. I love dark, gripping, chilling ones mostly. Things about illnesses, crime, psychiatric disorders, class and war issues, things like that. I also like docs about occupations I know nothing about, or about food & nutrition, politics, you name it. Some of my favorites include Virunga, Dear Zachary, There’s Something Wrong with Aunt Diane, man….the list goes on. Love them!
How did you get started blogging?
Well, technically — I wanted to join in the MMO conversation so I started Cuppytalk in 2006. Then I got a job in the industry in 2007 and stopped blogging as much, but I enjoyed evoking debate and starting shit. I don’t know why, but being adversarial was always my thing. Picking fights and such. I was fiercely opinionated about games, but all that has been tempered since actually joining the game industry and seeing how things REALLY work. 😉 But before that, I wrote on MySpace blog, LiveJournal, Xanga, you name it. I’ve always enjoyed having an ‘online diary’ of sorts.
What is your fondest childhood memory?
My fondest memory is probably the day I found out I was getting my first horse. I was 11, and I’d been taking riding lessons since I was 6 and daydreaming about horses ever since. I was spending all my waking hours at the barn, wishing I had a horse of my own. I used to write a diary on a typewriter, pretending I had a pony or horse and making up stories about it. Finally, my mom worked out a deal to get me a horse through her employer, the St. Paul Police Department, which had a mounted police program. What she didn’t realize was that the horse was a reject. He didn’t work because he was…well…kind of crazy. I used to fall off of him all the time, but I loved him to pieces and he basically made my childhood a dream come true. I don’t have a single memory of him, but Rocky crafted my preteen and teenager years and I still to this day have to own a horse to be happy. 🙂
What is your favorite in game “mount” and why?
I don’t know why…but I don’t actually have one. I really like the plain ol’ horses, like some of the LotRO horses and there’s even a horse or two in RIFT that I really like. WoW mounts tend to be too fantastical for my liking, but just having plain horses and ponies would make me happy. If I had to name one though – it’s my Sparklepony. I remember when that horse went for sale it looked like it would be limited, like they only had so many to sell and if I didn’t pay $30 or whatever for it – I’d lose my chance forever. I love that thing and still ride it in WoW to this day.
Do you collect “mini pets” in game, and if so do you have a favorite?
Yes, I do, but not nearly as obsessively as others. In WoW I collect them, and my favorite is my Fluxfire Feline that I got from the Gnome? starting area. I love it because it’s robotic and cool and it’s a rare, and it just seems like a cool pet.
Cats, dogs, or something else?
Horses. But I also have three dogs (two Boxers and a Min Pin) and I love them to pieces. So let’s just say ALL ANIMALS.
Describe your relationship with your automobile?
Eh, it’s a car. It’s a hand-me-down from my husband (though it’s nice..it’s a 2011 Mazda 3 hatchback) but it’s not the car of my dreams that I would pick out. But it’s a good car with good gas mileage and it makes a good barn vehicle with the hatch. I don’t have a name for it or anything.
What role of the holy trinity of tank/dps/healer fits your personality most?
Oh jeez. Probably dps, because I’m frantic and clumsy and I tend to do damage everywhere I go. I’m loud and front of the line though too, so maybe tank? And I also am deeply empathetic and care for people, so maybe healer too. I don’t know, I think I break the bounds and kind of represent all of them. =D
Well, there we go! These were fun to answer, but I have to admit that I don’t really know anyone to tag. I don’t follow a ton of MMO blogs anymore, and the ones I do have mostly already been tagged. So, I’ll just leave it here and enjoy reading the posts from around the blogosphere!
Twitter’s character limit leaves me unable to express my opinions on this, so here’s my thoughts on the game Hatred and its controversy.
I would never play this game. I think its content is disgusting, and I wouldn’t be able to handle the graphic violence of murdering innocent victims in cold blood. I play games for fun, and this game would not add fun to my life.
It’s not the only game I won’t play. I also won’t show games that glorify or show graphic depictions of animals being killed. I think games like Big Buck Hunter and the animal killing parts of Far Cry 4 are disgusting. See the above, where I talk about how I can’t handle the graphic violence of murdering innocent victims in cold blood, whether non-human animals or human animals. Our society might be desensitized to one, but to me – they’re in line with each other. I also won’t play games like Consensual Torture Simulator, because the subject matter is just not for me, and that’s okay.
I don’t care that Hatred is on Steam. Just because I would not personally play this game, doesn’t mean I don’t think anyone should. It might be an unpopular opinion, but I didn’t have an issue with Super Columbine Massacre existing either. Until we can decide what kind of content is straight up ‘illegal’, I think there are too many grey areas to draw arbitrary lines in the sand (see the Postal vs. Hatred arguments). The internet is full of horrible things, most of them skirting the rules around what’s allowed. One can make decisions to completely avoid it, and their internet experience isn’t ruined. Big Buck Hunter is literally about murdering defenseless animals for sport, which I find absolutely abhorrent. But, it has every right to exist and I’m fine with that.
If Valve are going to moderate Greenlight games, they need transparency. It’s just the right thing to do here. If companies are relying on your platform for their livelihood and you’ve established yourself as the place to publish your game for massive success, it’s good business to be transparent about rules and regulations. I’d expect to see a detailed description of the moderation process, including what kind of content is straight up not allowed on Steam, and what appeals process there is (if any), and how many ‘strikes’ a game gets, etc. Even though they made the decision to restore Hatred to Greenlight, what about the next game that crosses the line even further? There’s always someone trying to push the barrier further and further, so it’s in Steam’s best interest to be transparent about this stuff before it happens again.
They need to moderate their forum cesspit. This isn’t really debatable for me here — right now, the Hatred forums are filled with comments from people who are demanding that the developers add DLC which allows them to murder Anita Sarkeesian and other “SJWs”. Apparently the responsibility for moderating these forums has always fell with the developers themselves, but that feels like Valve trying to avoid the extra overhead of watching all those forums for inappropriate content. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — that’s the responsibility you assume when you open online forums. If you’re not ready to police the boards for unsafe, inappropriate, illegal, or harassing content – you shouldn’t have boards. Right now, there is blatant hate speech taking place on Steam’s platform and they can’t abstain from all responsibility for it. This stuff is disgusting, and needs to go.
WildStar hasn’t been able to get as much love as I would have hoped, but it’s because I’ve been diving back into League of Legends. For those who haven’t heard, I’ve been a contractor at Riot Games now for about a month, and it’s rekindled my love for League and my desire to keep improving my skills.
I’m still maining support, and my favorite champs to play right now are Zyra, Nami, Morgana, Lulu. Lately I’ve been trying to learn a couple more roles proficiently since I am seeding in ranked and don’t want to be stuck doing a role I’ve never done before. I want to become decent with at least 1-2 champions in each role. The scariest for me is Jungle. I’m going to try to lock down my Elise mechanics and also pick up someone else, possibly Hecarim or Maokai. My ADC skills are also shoddy, but I’m trying to learn Caitlyn and possibly Tristana or Lucian as well. I’ve been doing a bit of last hitting drills to improve my CS, but that’s definitely my biggest weakness right now. I’ve also been playing mid a bit to improve my proficiency there, and have had some good successes with Vel’koz, Zyra, Lulu, and Swain.
Current Short Term League Goals:
- Continue to improve my CS as mid, learn to time my roaming so I am comfortable doing it more often
- Play more ADC and quit being afraid of it. In particular, learn Caitlyn, Lucian, and one more (maybe Tristana).
- Find 1-2 melee top laners to be comfortable with. I need to get out of my ranged comfort zone. Thinking right now about either Rengar, Yasuo, Aatrox, or Vi.
- Play more tanky supports. Braum, Thresh, Leona, Taric.
- Get ranked. Even if it’s Bronze V, I want to play more 9 more ranked games and get on the move with ranked.
- Learn Jungle. It would be great if the top laner I use could also do jungle (such as Vi, Aatrox) so I don’t have to learn champ mechanics twice.
One of my favorite initiatives from last year, the Newbie Blogger Initiative, is back in full force this year. It’s an exciting program, because it encourages people to start gaming blogs and then also helps them out with tips, tricks, writing help, and mentorship to encourage them to stick with it and be successful.
Blog-fading (or the act in which bloggers disappear leaving their sad website all alone without any updates) is extremely common. I even do it myself regularly…..though I always try to come back eventually! One of the big reasons is because people run out of things they want to talk about. I’ve found that if I just open up the “new post” editor, words come flooding out of my mouth. I rarely think about the post ahead of time, or compose it in my head. I know this is different than a lot of successful bloggers. But I also tend to write about my own personal experiences playing games, which might not be interesting to many people but always was fun for me to write.
I think the Newbie Blogger Initiative is great, because the number of high quality MMO blogs feels like it’s been dwindling over time. Some of my favorites from back in the day are still posting, but the scene doesn’t feel as large and vibrant as it used to. Instead of just sitting back and taking it, bloggers are doing something about it! Over 70 blogs from veterans are currently participating in the NBI, and I’m sure there will be more before it’s all said and done.
I’m offering myself up as a mentor. While my work here is sparse and sporadic, I also have a presence elsewhere on the web. I have a pretty popular Twitter account, and I’m Lead Editor at The Border House, a popular feminist gaming blog. I’m also a professional community manager for a living, so I think I can lend some advice when it comes to editing, writing, social media promotion, growing and cultivating a community, and providing interesting content that people want to read. Feel free to reach out!
I’ll also be adding these new blogs to my RSS reader and I’ll be reading and commenting on them! I’m excited to welcome this batch of newbies and I can’t see what sort of content is created!
I don’t really have many wants for games to purchase and play. I’m pretty fortunate in that my budget set aside for gaming has allowed me to buy just about every game on Steam that I could possibly want, leaving me with over a hundred unplayed-yet-purchased games that I could install at any time. Even right now, I’m sitting here with a pit of guilt for not finishing the last 2-3 hours I have remaining in Bioshock Infinite. And there is currently a sale on The Witcher 2, a game that I’ve had on my Steam wishlist for awhile. I’m avoiding buying it though, because I know that I won’t actually get around to playing it. Iwill end up going back to various MMOs instead.
I have a few standbys that I stop into and get relatively invested in for weeks at a time before disappearing again. WoW is the biggest culprit here, as it’s a game that feels dear and familiar to me every time I log in. My characters are always there waiting for me, the world is vibrant and I love the lore and the achievements. I have been subscribed to this game since 2004, so clearly I have a tie to the game. Another common culprit for me is EverQuest II, a game that always feels like the best complete package of features that appeal to me — great character outfits, the most robust housing system, tradeskill classes, achievements, the old familiar EverQuest lore. My current hobby is actually EverQuest 1, where I’ve started a little Half Elf Druid and I’m enjoying exploring EverQuest in a whole new way (they have actual QUESTS now!). Another common one is LotRO, where I stop in now and then and sightsee but have never gotten over level 15 (much to my dismay — as it’s a pretty damn great game).
I think I know why I do this, why MMORPGs always pull me back in and seem so exciting even if the excitement is fleeting. I just love the feeling of knowing that while I’ve been gone, a world and its community have continued to flourish without me. I know that my character is a part of something bigger, and even when I’m not making meaningful changes to the world (after all, who really does in MMOS?) I still feel an obligation to see what has changed and who is inhabiting “my world”. Single player games just exist in a vacuum for me. No one knows if I logged in, if I finished the game. There aren’t conversations happening around me, people to interact with (even if wordlessly questing in the same zone with them), monsters dying while I’m gone and loot being acquired. I just love how I can stop in and the game has changed since the last time I played — new content, new players, new forum posts to read, new quests and achievements and expansions. They feel like dynamic growing pieces of art that I can dip in and out of to smell the roses and expect them to feel familiar and cozy and wonderful.
Who knows how long I’ll be playing any given MMO. I do wish I could get to max level in more of them and hop around from game to game at max level instead, but with my gaming style and my waning excitement I know that I probably will be doomed to alts in various worlds forever.
Eek, I’ve been a bad, bad blogger. Admittedly, I haven’t been playing all that much lately because other things have taken over my life. But here’s a quick rundown of what’s been occupying my time:
- Bioshock Infinite. Yep, I bought it and I was taken over by how beautiful it is. I still haven’t quite finished it, I have about 3 hours left. I’ll be finishing it up this week.
- I stopped into WoW a couple nights and played my little Panda priest alt, but then real life got ahold of me and I haven’t played anything since then.
- I showed my horse at a horse show and I won! This has been a big part of my life: riding and training my horse. So every weekend hour that I have available I tend to spend out at the ranch.
- Working. My company released another iOS game! It’s called Eat Eat Hooray and you should download it.
- My fiance launched Defiance, which is a pretty awesome MMO shooter with tie-ins to the TV show by the same name from Syfy. I’ve jumped in that a few times, and though shooty type games aren’t normally for me, this particular one is fun because I can drive around in vehicles and run into things.
- Guild Wars 2: my fiance and I made little characters and ran around playing them for a couple of nights but then he got bored and a result, so did I.
I have a few things I really *want* to do but I just haven’t been able to get either the motivation or the time to do so. This includes going back to EverQuest 1 and playing. Trying out Vanguard again since it’s been a really long time since I played it. And I have a few single player games I want to devote some love to. But all in all, life is good. =)