Boxing Day/Black Friday

Real light week topic-wise from both podcasts, though topic 1 of the GameOverGreggy Show got quite heated with Colin expressing his dislike of Black Friday. In Canada, Black Friday isn’t a big deal (celebrating Thanksgiving the month before factors into this), but there are some stores that offer sales, and you can also do some bargain-hunting on Amazon. I usually browse the wares online and pull the trigger on purchases I’ve been meaning to make anyway.

This week I’ve decided to talk about Boxing Day because it’s similar to Black Friday, and it’s a holiday that I celebrate.

I know what you’re thinking: Boxing Day is overrated, the sales aren’t great, and the crowds are annoying. For the most part, I agree. But shopping isn’t the main reason I go out on Boxing Day—in the beginning it was, but now it’s deeper than that.

This coming Boxing Day marks the 10 year anniversary of a tradition my friend and I have, where we spend the day shopping, and then watch a movie starring Will Smith.

Now you’re probably thinking “wow, that second part is a very specific and seemingly random thing to do on Boxing Day”. Let me explain.

It started Boxing Day 2006. My friend and I decided to hit the stores and see what all the fuss was about. To take a break from the crowds, we decided to watch a movie, which was “The Pursuit of Happyness” starring Will Smith. We had a great time hanging out that day, so we decided to go out again the following year. And that year we watched “I Am Legend”, which also happened to star Will Smith. On Boxing Day 2008 we watched “Seven Pounds”, again starring Will Smith. It was then that we noticed the pattern and our tradition was born. We agreed that every Boxing Day we would go shopping and watch a Will Smith movie.

Those first three years it was chance that Will Smith happened to be in a movie showing in theatres on Boxing Day, and that we chose to watch them. The next few years there was no Will Smith movie in theatres, so we were forced to watch the movie from someone’s house instead—Year 4 was “Independence Day”, year 5 was “Bad Boys”, year 6 was “Enemy of the State”.

By 2012 (year 7), my friend and I missed going to see the movie in theatres, so we decided to alter our tradition to include any movie starring an African-American male—mostly because “Django Unchained” was showing and we both really wanted to see it (fun fact about “Django Unchained”: Will Smith was originally going to star in the film). Year 8 we watched “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”, starring Idris Elba, and last year we decided to go back to our roots and watch “Bad Boys 2”. This year, if a Winnipeg theatre picks it up, we will get to see Will Smith in “Concussion”, which is right up my alley because I love football.

And there you have it. That’s our tradition. The whole thing is about shopping and watching a (somewhat specific) movie, but more than that, it’s about friendship. Even though we are both very busy these days, my friend and I look forward to Boxing Day and spending that time hanging out. And sometimes we do find items on sale that we’ve been meaning to buy, or we use Boxing Day as an excuse to treat ourselves. I’ve bought some pretty awesome things on Boxing Day, such as a television, a PS3, and last year I upgraded my phone for a pretty sweet deal.

What are your thoughts on Boxing Day? Have you taken advantage of any great sales? And if you’re not into Boxing Day, do you and your friends celebrate any weird/fun traditions? Let me know in the comments.

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The Most Emotional Moments In Games

Well, its finally happened—this week I picked a topic from the Kinda Funny Gamescast! Gamers rejoice!

Topic 3 of this Gamescast episode came from a fan who asked the guys about games that brought out the most emotion in them while playing. I love that Tim pointed out that emotional doesn’t have to mean sad, even though it’s usually the first thing people think of. I’m still going to talk about some of my favourite sad moments in games, but I’m also going to share some stories about my happier gaming moments.

SPOILERS AHEAD FOR FINAL FANTASY 7 AND THE LAST OF US

DO NOT READ ON IF YOU PLAN ON PLAYING THESE GAMES

Alright let’s get into the sad stuff.

Final Fantasy 7 is the first JRPG (Japanese Role Playing Game) I ever played, and it was one of my favourite games growing up. It was nothing like the games I was used to playing on my Sega Genesis, and I quickly fell in love with the cool characters and interesting story. One of my favourite characters in the game was Aerith (Aeris). I always had her in my party, and I loved every scene that featured her and Cloud (the main character). I’m sure that even if you haven’t played Final Fantasy 7 you know where this is going.

She dies. The game kills her off about halfway through. I was choked. In disbelief  I tried to find some answers: is there any way to save her? Is there anything you can do to avoid this scene? I found out years later that there is no way to prevent her death, save for cheating/breaking the game essentially. This whole ordeal may have been my first heartbreak. I’ve heard that FF7 is one of the first games to kill off a main character, which is very cool, but I still wish it didn’t happen.

Next up, The Last of Us. There are plenty of sad moments in this masterpiece, but I’m going with the very first one—the one that sets the tone for everything else. The game starts by introducing us to Joel and Sarah, father and daughter, right before the world starts to fall apart. And of course Sarah gets shot and dies in the arms of her father. I love everything about this game, and that introduction really got me.

On to some spoiler-free happy moments. I’m a huge sports fan and I have some great sports gaming memories. One of my favourites happened back when I was a teenager. A friend and I were playing some NCAA football, and we had reached a very important game in our season. The game went into overtime, things were tense, and there was a very real chance we could lose. But as all fairy tales go, my friend threw a perfect pass that hit me in the end zone for the game winning touchdown. We both jumped up and down, cheering and high-fiving, it felt awesome. Until we noticed the game had frozen. That’s right, our moment of glory stolen away by a glitch, probably due to our jumping, causing the disc to skip. We both still laugh about this one.

Last one I’ll share is another sports gaming moment. Two friends and I we’re playing the dynasty mode of an NHL game pre-Winnipeg Jets. We had been at it for hours, we were all pretty tired, and around 4 a.m. something magical happened. The song “Come On Feel The Noise” was on the soundtrack of this game, and when it came on at 4 a.m. all three of us tiredly sang in unison. Even as I type this one I’m smiling. It was such a funny moment and one of my favourite gaming memories.

I got back into gaming a couple years ago and it’s one of my favourite pastimes. I love gaming as a story-telling medium and I believe it has the power to elicit strong emotional responses from players. What are some of your favourite gaming memories? Or some gaming memories where emotions ran high? Let me know in the comments!

 

Reviewing Our 20s

Topic 3 this week came from Nick Scarpino, and he wanted to know what the guys thought about their 20s. Since they are all in their 30s (except Tim who is 26 or 27), he wanted to know if they thought it was the best decade of their lives, and how they viewed those years overall.

I’ll be turning 25 next month, so I figured this would be a good chance to review the first half of my 20s, and also talk about some hopes I have for the second half.

For the most part I think my 20s have been pretty good. Sure there have been highs and lows, but I think the amount of good times and memories outweigh the bad.

I’ve had a lot of great experiences so far. I graduated from university, I did some travelling, and I spent tons of time hanging out and partying with friends. I’ve had some of the best times of my life over the last few years.

I’m grateful that in my 20s I still have (essentially) the same group of friends. We’re a tight-knit group that has been together since middle school (some even further back), and I think that is somewhat rare at this age.

I also think I started making better choices and decisions once I hit 20—specifically regarding university. I started university when I was 17 and I definitely wasn’t prepared— I took some classes for the wrong reasons, I didn’t fully invest myself in the experience, and I definitely could have worked harder. I’d say that between 20-21 I started to right some of those wrongs and my academic career improved. I graduated at 22, and overall I consider the entire experience to be valuable.

23 was a particular high point for me. I was working full-time, I finally had some money to pay off student debt, and I was even able to travel a bit. As I said in an earlier post, my travels were amazing, and 23 might be the best year of my life because of those experiences.

My biggest gripe with my 20s actually has to do with a pre-conceived idea of where I thought I’d be at this point in my life. I definitely thought that by 25 I’d be completely independent— working a great job, living on my own, making “mad bank”. I definitely didn’t think that I’d still be in school, living in my parents basement, slowly watching my savings disappear.

But I’m not alone in these thoughts. My friends have also stressed about the things they have yet to accomplish, or the places they thought they’d be at by 25. It helps knowing that my friends feel the same way I do, and though we’re struggling through different paths we’re all still moving forward.

I’m feeling optimistic about the second half of my 20s. Sure, being in school at 25 wasn’t exactly “part of the plan”, but I think I’ve put myself on the right track to where I want to be. I’ve learned a lot from these first five years, and I’m very excited about what’s to come over the next five.

Let me know in the comments how your 20s are going, or what you think about your 20s overall.

Nostalgia

Congrats to Kinda Funny on hitting 100 episodes of the GameOverGreggy Show! Here’s to the next 100!

I love the episodes where a member of the Kinda Funny community is the guest—it’s awesome seeing and hearing from people who love Kinda Funny as much as I do. I thought that this week’s episode was particularly strong topic-wise versus the last couple of weeks, and guest Alex Aziz’s topic on nostalgia was my favourite.

Nostalgia is such a powerful feeling, and it can be brought up by a number of things: seeing an old photograph, hearing a song you haven’t heard in awhile, finding an old toy. Greg and Colin talked about going to all their old college hang-outs and thinking about memories they had in each spot. Nostalgia is all about memories, but it’s also about how it stirs feelings of happiness and longing while remembering those times.

Nothing makes me feel more nostalgic than music. I find that I (and many others) have an emotional connection with music, and various memories are stirred up when I hear certain songs. When I listen to music, I’m reminded of different times in my life, how I felt during those times, the people in my life, and sometimes I feel a longing to re-experience those memories. Like the guys touched on, nostalgia is mostly good as you fondly remember things, but there is a twinge of sadness that those times are over and you can’t go back.

Lately I’ve been feeling nostalgic for my teenage years. I think I miss what it’s like to be a kid, but not quite feel like a kid (which is how teenagers feel). These days I’m an adult that doesn’t quite feel like an adult—similar concept, but quite the opposite feeling.

The lack of real responsibilities and the amount of time spent with friends during those years certainly makes me miss that time in my life. Another YouTube show I like watching is Teens React, where teenagers give comments on certain subjects and pop culture phenomenons. There is something refreshing about their opinions and their excitement, and it makes me think of myself as a teenager. Whenever I tune in I get a little taste of nostalgia.

Let me know in the comments what makes you feel nostalgic, and if there is a time in your life you’ve been feeling nostalgic for.

I’ll leave you today with a quote from Don Draper on Mad Men:

“Nostalgia – it’s delicate, but potent. Teddy told me that in Greek, “nostalgia” literally means “the pain from an old wound.” It’s a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone. This device isn’t a spaceship, it’s a time machine. It goes backwards, and forwards… it takes us to a place where we ache to go again. It’s not called the wheel, it’s called the carousel. It let’s us travel the way a child travels – around and around, and back home again, to a place where we know we are loved.”