The Second Annual Games with Coffee Last-Minute Christmas Shopping Guide! Part 2: Stuff!

Welcome to Part 2 of the Second Annual Games with Coffee Last-Minute Christmas Shopping Guide! It’s only a few more days until the big day, so if you’re stuck on what to get or need some inspiration for gift giving, you’ve come to the right place!

If you haven’t read Part 1, click here to check it out!

Continuing on from my previous list, Part 2 will cover apparel, accessories, trinkets and other recommendations that would be great to give this holiday season, if you haven’t already went and made your purchases! As I mentioned earlier, I won’t be providing links, just ideas on what to get for your favourite person this holiday season.

Warning: Shameless Plug Incoming!

Once you find that perfect gift or gifts, chances are you’ll need to wrap it up and put a neat little gift tag on it, right? Well, instead of some generic, boring tags you can find at the store, why not print out a set of really spiffy, hand-lettered tags made by my awesome wife, Usha from the blog Lettering by Usha!? For a paltry sum, you can get a PDF copy of a set of beautifully designed printable tags that you can print out, cut up and attach to your gift! Tags like these make a gift that much more personable, so when you’re done with this list, click here to get to her Etsy shop and pick up a set today!
End Shameless Plug!

And now, onto the list!


Apparel and Accessories

Alright, let’s face it: sometimes you just wanna wear and show off your favourite gaming series. From casual to professional and everything in between, I’ve got a few gift suggestions for the Mature, Distinguished Gamer.

*Note that several of these items are available for purchase on ThinkGeek, however they’re note sponsoring this post.*

Socks

Dress codes in professional settings can be a tad restrictive, but it doesn’t mean you can’t show off your gamer pride in some ways! And one of the best ways to do that is by wearing an awesome pair of socks, like these ones:

Image result for mega man socks

Eye-catching and comfortable!

Socks are one of those items that you need (unless you live and work on the beach, then no socks for you!), so why not make it fun! These Mega Man socks aren’t the only ones available though; you can find a whole slew based on your favourite series or characters online! For example:

Image result for metroid socks

Metroid: Samus Aran Socks

Image result for metroid socks

(Clockwise from top left) Super Mario, Mario Kart, Metroid, Legend of Zelda, Super Nintendo-motif.

Image result for halo socks

Halo Casual Crew Socks

Image result for God of war socks

There are even God of War Socks!

The choices available are only as limited as your search terms on Google or Amazon!

T-Shirts

For Casual Fridays, weekends or anytime in between, nothing beats a T-Shirt. Again, there are tons available, but here’s some ideas to choose from:

Image result for super mario t shirt

Princess Peach T-Shirt

Image result for Zelda t shirt

“Scarface” Legend of Zelda Shirt (I have this one, it’s awesome!)

Image result for Zelda t shirt

Divine Beasts Women’s T-shirt

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Shovel Knight Shirt

 

Sweaters and Hoodies

Still on the hunt for an ugly Christmas sweater? Here’s a few suggestions:

Pokémon Winter Sweater

Pokemon Ugly Sweater

Pokémon Pikachu Holiday Sweater

Pikachu Ugly Sweater

Ugly Christmas Sweater: Nintendo (S)

Legend of Zelda Ugly Sweater

Hoodies are also a great choice to get. Who doesn’t want to feel warm when it’s -30 degrees Celsius outside!

Kingdom Hearts Evil Heart Hoodie (MD)

Kingdom Hearts Heartless Hoodie

Mass Effect N7 Long Vinyl Ladies' Cowl Hoodie

Mass Effect N7 Hoodie

Space Invaders Sleeve Print Hoodie

Space Invaders Hoodie

Wallets & Watches

If you’re eyeing some wallets, here’s some ideas for you!

Yoshi Flap Wallet

Yoshi Flap Wallet

Kingdom Hearts Sora Wallet

Kingdom Hearts Sora Flap Wallet

Kingdom Hearts Fandom Wallet - Exclusive

Kingdom Hearts Fandom Wallet

Atari Black Katakana Wallet

Atari Black Katakana Wallet

Nintendo Mario World Wallet

Super Mario World Wallet

Shadow of the Tomb Raider: Wallet

Shadow of the Tomb Raider Wallet (Also available in a large format)

NES Controller Zip Wallet

Nintendo NES Zip Up Wallet

Watches are also a great gift to give for this holiday season! Here’s a few ideas:

Legend of Zelda Leather Watch - Exclusive

Legend of Zelda Men’s Watch

Pokémon Pokeball Watch

Pokemon Pokeball Watch

8-Bit Hearts Watch

8-Bit Hearts Watch

8-Bit Watch

8-Bit Watch

Fallout RadGlow Watch - Exclusive

Fallout RadGlow Watch (Looks pretty neat!)

Nintendo Mario Watch - Black

Nintendo Classic Mario Watch

Sonic Hedgehog Watch

Sonic the Hedgehog Watch

Toys and Collectibles

Have some young’uns in your life? Or just a collector yourself? Then behold some ideas for you!

Amiibo - Ridley

Look at him, standing there all menacing-like…

Amibo

The collectible that does more than collect dust on the shelf, it can unlock a wealth of content in compatible Nintendo games. For instance, in Smash (referenced in my previous post), using an amiibo unlocks a figure player to use and level up. Young and old, amiibo make the perfect stocking stuffer for your favourite person!*

*Just make sure they own a Switch or any other compatible Nintendo system first…

Nendoroid - Kratos

Kratos as you’ve never seen him before!

Nendoroids

Nendoroids are representations of your favourite gaming, anime and pop culture characters chibi-fied. These cute collectibles are highly poseable and come with a wealth of accessories so that you can recreate your favourite scenes! An excellent, albeit pricey, present to give!

Hasbro, makers of board games aplenty, seems to have a pretty good relationship with gaming IP’s of all kinds. Hence why you see icons like Mario slapped on Monopoly all the time. I haven’t had a real opportunity to play any new board games, so I can’t put forth any recommendations on that front.

Books

However, I can recommend a couple of books! For instance:

Image result for norse mythology neil gaiman

Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology is a great companion to anyone playing God of War. It provides backstory to the many characters you see in the game and provides some context to some of the tales you hear from Mimir. I highly recommend paring this book with the game.

Image result for little red book of writing

The Little Red Writing Book is a great gift for the writer (or blogger!) to give this season. It’s got a Well Red Recommendation from the Well Red Mage himself. (I’m totally coining that one Red!). This book helped me a lot in terms of my writing, both here and on my fictional works, so it’s on my recommended list.

And now for a couple books that may seem out of place on a list like these, but here me out:

Image result for code of the samurai book

Image result for how to live like a gentleman

If anyone you know is looking to make some changes for the new year, I recommend these two books. The Code of the Samurai and How to Live Like a Gentleman are books that have helped me become a Mature, Distinguished Gamer over the years and I find myself re-reading these on occasion.

And last but certainly not least:

Coffee Mugs

Of course on this list we can’t forget about coffee mugs! Here’s a few to look for:

Zelda Heat Changing Mug

Legend of Zelda Heat Changing Mug

Super Mario Turtle Mug

Super Mario Red Shell Mug

Spyro the Dragon 3D Sculpted Mug

Spyro 3-D Mug

PAC-MAN 20 oz. Sculpted Ceramic Mug

PAC-MAN Mug

Super Mario Group Photo Mug

Super Mario Group Picture Mug

Crash Bandicoot: Crash Mug

Crash Bandicoot Mug

Come To The Dorkside Mug

Come To The Dorkside Mug

Game Boy 16oz Heat Change Molded Mug

Game Boy Heat Changing Mug


And there you have it! All the ideas you’ll need over the next day and a half to get you shopping done! But don’t think these are only good for Christmas; you can pick up these items any time during they year as a gift for any occasion!

So, good luck on your shopping everyone! This is Ryan from Games with Coffee reminding you to stay safe during that mad rush, enjoy the holidays and the food and gifts they offer and reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing!

See you at the end of the year!

God of War (2018) [PlayStation 4] – First Impressions

Good morning and welcome to another edition of Games with Coffee! It’s the weekend, and what better way to celebrate than to brew a cuppa and play some games first thing in the morning? Well, that’s what I’m doing at least, after feeding my Mini-Me of course.

So, a highly anticipated game was released last Friday, April 20th. There has been much talk about it over the last several months since its announcement and… I’m sad to say that I haven’t picked it up yet. Of course, I’m talking about the unfathomably amazing Nintendo Labo! It’s cardboard that you build and play with using the Switch and judging from the initial reaction from my fellow gamers, it’s fantastic, easy to use and so much fun!

Alas, that’s not what this post is about, because on that same Friday, another highly anticipated game was released and is the one I picked up. That game is God of War!

(Spoilers for God of War III)

The series’ developer, Santa Monica, announced the game at 2016’s E3. It is the sequel to God of War III, where our erstwhile embodiment of rage and vengeance, Kratos, finally exacted his revenge against his father, Zeus, only to discover that he was a pawn for the goddess Athena (not you Athena, the other Athena). Athena desired the power of Hope that she had put in Pandora’s Box after Zeus sealed the evils of the world long ago, as she told Kratos that only she could use that power properly. She explains that when Kratos reopened the box and unleashed the evils back into the world in the first game, that power of hope was transferred to him, giving him the strength to overcome his many obstacles, such as defeating Ares, changing his fate after being betrayed by his father, Zeus, and eventually defeating him at the end of the third installment.

Kratos realized that to undo all he had wrought in his mad quest for vengeance, he needed to sacrifice himself and return the power of hope to the people of Greece. To that end, he impaled himself using the Blade of Olympus, releasing the power instead of giving it to the goddess, who left the warrior to die, disgusted over his decision. Post credits, we find Kratos’ body gone; the blade discarded to the side and a trail of blood leading into the churning waters below, his ultimate fate unknown.

(Spoilers end here)

The latest installment of the series shows that Kratos is alive and well, years after his conquest of the Greek gods, and living deep in the Wildlands with a wife and son in the Norse realm of Midgard. He’s also sporting a wicked beard.

The demigod lived a life of solitude with his new family until his wife’s untimely passing. It is here that Kratos’ latest adventures begins, as he promised his late wife that he and his son shall scatter her ashes at the highest peak in Midgard.

But an even greater challenge awaits the former God of War; being a parent to his son, Atreus.

After spending a week in The Nine Realms, I have to say that I’m incredibly impressed. Granted, I haven’t gotten very far in the game, but I’m enjoying my experience nonetheless. Four things stood out the most for me: Combat, Exploration, Story and Characters.

Combat

Combat in the game is vastly different from previous God of War games. The weapons that were ubiquitous in the earlier series have gone, replaced by a runic axe called the Leviathan Axe, imbued with the power of ice and given to him by his wife before her passing. It’s one of the most fun weapons I’ve ever used in this type of game! The neat part about the axe is it’s Thor-like ability to return to Kratos’ hand. You can arm the axe and throw it at enemies or objects and then recall it to your hand using the Triangle button. When the axe is thrown at enemies, Kratos can still defend himself using his fists and shield. Despite being weaker, these attacks can build up an enemy’s stun gauge enough that he can perform a finisher, a staple in the series. The battles themselves can be pretty tough and will require a combination of melee combat and axe throwing to get through them.

Another returning staple is the Rage of Sparta. When activated, Kratos becomes enraged and simply uses his fists to inflict massive damage to anything around him. As he pummels his foes, his health regains slowly, making it tactical to use in case you can’t find any healthstones (used to heal Kratos this time around). It’s very fun to use, but should only be used in a pinch.

Magic in this game is achieved through the use of Runestones, which can be equipped on the Leviathan Axe. There seem to be lots of spells to use. Magic has a cooldown period before they can be used again, which can be affected by Kratos’ Cooldown stat.

Kratos’ son, Atreus, is more than just a tag-along character – he actively assists his father using his bow to inflict stun damage, or can jump on an enemy and distract it long enough for Kratos to get in a combo or finish it off. He also warns Kratos of any hazard, allowing the player some time to react accordingly (either by blocking or dodging).

Finally, Kratos earns experience from every foe he and Atreus defeats, which is used to purchase skill upgrades, much like the Red Orbs of the previous games. It definitely give the game an RPG-like feel.

Exploration

A significant departure for the series is how open the world is, compared to the linear feeling of the previous games. I really like this change a lot! There’s a lot to see and do in the game. Atreus also provides a lot of context for the Norse world and its mythology, something that Kratos (and the player by extension) has little familiarity with.

The environment is very puzzle driven and reminds me strongly of the Legend of Zelda. Kratos and Atreus must work together to solve them; the father using his vast strength and axe and the son using his small size and light weight to fit into passageways and vault upwards to higher ground. The axe has a significant feature in that it can freeze objects when thrown. This is necessary to navigate puzzles where bridges or ceilings need to be locked in place to proceed, much like the Stasis rune in Breath of the Wild.

Like with its predecessors, secret areas hide chests filled with hacksilver or resources (used to purchase equipment and upgrades), Enchantments and Runestones, among others. There are also locked chests that can only be opened with Kratos throwing his axe at the ruins associated with the chest. The environment also has tons of breakable objects in which you can obtain spare hacksilver or reveal hidden passages.

Story and Characters

What I love the most about this game is the character development. Gone are the days of rage of vengeance that fuels Kratos; instead, he has a more quiet, stoic presence about him. He is also a man in mourning as his second wife, Faye, passed away to start the game. You can see the stoic mask drop momentarily in the opening scenes as he’s about to cut down the last tree for the funeral pyre, which I liked.

Through out the game, Kratos is at a loss on how to approach his son, Atreus, given that he both had no proper father figure growing up and that his warmongering, Spartan upbringing was the only thing he had ever known. He is very cold towards his son, addressing him as “Boy” and distancing himself from him. There are times that Kratos wants to reach out to him in comfort, but he hesitates, unsure of what to do in these situations, only to retract into his shell. I feel that Kratos can see his own vulnerabilities in Atreus, which is why it’s hard for him to reach out.

I really like this direction for the character, it shows that he has more of a human side that we all realize.

As for Atreus, he isn’t an annoying sidekick. Rather he sounds incredibly genuine. His quick wit and childlike innocence is an excellent foil to the brooding Kratos. He also provides his father valuable knowledge about the Nordic gods and the realm itself. Atreus is also helpful in battle, warning his father of dangers he cannot see, assisting him in general and adding research notes on the enemies they face, along with strategies. There’s also hidden depth to him, in that he doesn’t know his true nature as a demigod. His godhood manifests in strange ways, such as his mysterious illnesses mentioned in passing and bouts of unbridled rage.

I love mythological history and I appreciated the efforts Santa Monica made with adapting Greek mythology to Kratos’ story. It looks like they took a more in-depth approach with the Norse mythology, given Atreus’ vast knowledge of The Nine Realms. I personally can’t wait to see how Kratos and his son fit into the grander scheme of Odin and his pantheon of gods.

Right from the start with the appearance of The Stranger, it seems like the gods don’t take kindly to strangers in The Nine Realms. It also seems that both father and son will be drawn into the affairs of the gods on their journey up the mountain.

The best part so far? Meeting the World Serpent (Jormungandr). I thought the Titans from the previous games were huge, but the massive snake takes the cake.

Image result for world serpent god of war


So, that’s it for this edition. What do you guys think about God of War? Let me know in the comments below!

This has been Ryan, getting lost in one of my favourite mythologies and reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing!

The Anniversary Post (Or An Interview Between a Mage and a Mature, Distinguished Gamer)

Good morning and welcome to another edition of Games with Coffee! This one is special, because the blog’s now over a year old! Granted, I should have written this back in March – the actual month when this blog started back in 2017 – but circumstances that were out of my control prevented me from doing that. (And by circumstances, I mean babies.)

So, a year has passed since I started this blog. It’s hard to believe that time flew by so quickly… When I first had the itch to start this way back in December of 2016 as a part of my Quest to improve myself, I had no clue that this would be a gateway to so much opportunity and growth for myself during the course of 2017 – my thirtieth year of existence. I started out initially because I liked writing and I really wanted to get my story out there and share the fact that, yes, I’m a respectful adult juggling lots of responsibilities and I still love playing video games. Or as I call it, a Mature, Distinguished Gamer.

I discovered (to my surprise) that I wasn’t the only one with this mentality.

I’m so proud, stoked and downright honoured to connect with a community that supports one another, treats each other with respect and that’s willing to go into thoughtful, yet civil, discussions about gaming and its roles in society, in building character and how it shaped the lives of all those who’ve picked up a controller and played. Whether your game was Super Mario or Fortnite, whether you’re old-school at heart or a fan of the modern games of today, we’re all connected through a shared love of video games and it fills my heart with joy to be in the presence of such awesome individuals. You guys rock!

With that said, today I’m debuting a new segment for the blog, or at least a pilot/preview of it. I’m doing this as a way to celebrate the WordPress gaming community and the readers (like you!) who support us. Whether this idea catches on or not, at least today, you’ll learn a little more about the man behind the coffee mug.

So without further fanfare, let’s get into it:


I’m proud to present to you, dear readers, Beans and Screens! I’m your host, Ryan.

On this edition, the very first of (hopefully) many, I’ve asked a new friend of mine to be my very first guest. He’s an individual who writes sorcery on paper after ingesting an unholy amount of caffeine and has traveled here via Summoning Circle. Ladies and gentlemen, my first guest sitting next to me is The Hyperactive Coffee Mage!

*There is a stage with two cushy armchairs and a small table in between them. On the table are two coffee mugs.

Sitting in the chair beside me in a reclined, relaxed position was an individual wearing coffee coloured robes and a wide brimmed hat that obscures his facial features, save for a pair of bright, yellow eyes. On his hat is an emblem of a coffee cup.

He looks out, waves hello and then turns his attention to the empty mugs on the table. Pointing a finger at it and lazily waving it in a circular motion, the mugs magically fill up. The aroma of coffee permeates the air.*

HCM: How do you take yours?

GWC: Just black.

HCM: Nice.

GWC: *turns back to audience* So, here’s a huge plot twist right out of the bat: the good mage is not a guest for the first show. He will actually be the guest host! That’s right: I’m today’s interviewee!

Shall we get started?

HCM: Of course! First, let’s clarify something here; it’s not so much “Circles,” more like “Squares.” Summoning Squares that is-

GWC: Summoning Squares? Really? You’re gonna lead off with that? *rolls eyes* Next, you’re gonna talk about a Roy coming out of Grant’s Ear, which, I suppose, was the style at the time?

HCM: … And there goes the joke. Great job, you killed it.

GWC: … *raises eyebrow*

HCM: *shakes head* … Anyways, let’s really begin here. So first off, what is Beans and Screens and why go the interview/talk show route?

GWC: The name was created based off of a conversation I had on Twitter with Rob Covell from I Played The Game and Zach Bowman sometime in January around video game-themed coffee drinks. Rob came up with the neat name. (Thanks by the way!)

What’s Beans and Screens? It’s a segment dedicated to interviewing some of the very people I’ve recently met in my blogging journey. You know, getting to know them, why they’re so passionate about what they do and their dreams of the future. I see it… more as an opportunity for readers to get to know their favourite personalities in a casual talk show-like setting.

I was also partly inspired by other talk shows, namely one called Koffee with Karan. It’s a Bollywood talk show where the host, Karan Johar, has fun, open discussions with his guests, who consist of Bollywood’s biggest megastars. I’ve also drawn inspiration from Late Night TV personalities of past and present, like David Letterman and Stephen Colbert.

If there was one thing I enjoyed over the year I’ve been blogging, it’s talking with so many like-minded individuals. This might sound a bit cliche, but I feel like I found a third family with these guys, and I really wanted to celebrate and show my appreciation for them, besides giving the odd shout out here or there.

HCM: Third family? Who are the other two?

GWC: *laughs* Well, I have a wonderful, talented wife and a little baby boy who’s super cute! And my second family consists of the individuals who I’ve grown up with; friends, cousins, the like, y’know?

HCM: Fair enough. But that’s not all that’s gonna be on this segment, right?

GWC: Yeah, for sure, I’ll also be calling up some of the biggest stars in gaming to talk about their latest adventures, future plans and opportunities and to genuinely have some fun. It should be a blast! If… this takes off, that is.

HCM: Hope so. Anyways, let’s get a bit personal here; Tell us a bit about yourself?

GWC: Sure, so my name’s Ryan. I’m 30 years old and I work professionally as a Mechanical Engineer. I’ve been writing and gaming for… what seems like my whole life, I guess?

I am Indian-Guyanese and was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. My parents are immigrants from Guyana, a small, tropical country in the northeastern part of South America. The country is a part of the West Indies and it used to be part of the British Empire, until it gained independence in the late 60’s.

Growing up, my life revolved around video games and writing about them. I was bullied as a child and was also diagnosed with ADHD all throughout elementary school. I took lots of medications, ran through tests and spoke with counselors and psychiatrists. It wasn’t very fun. Those two things – gaming and writing – were what kept me going until I entered high school.

It was there that I ended up making friends with lots of people, thanks to a shared interest in video games. A couple of frequent readers on my blog are close friends from those years. Gaming has also been my muse, in that I also pursued art and music along with writing. These days, I focus more on writing, but I sometimes churn out a quick sketch or two.

HCM: Someone’s multi-talented!

GWC: Yeah! On top of that, I also whistle and I think I’m fairly good at it too. I put up a video on Twitter a while ago of me whistling while I did the dishes and recently put one up of me whistling Green Greens from Kirby, but I might be inclined to post some more? I whistle video game tunes (surprise, surprise), but sometimes I dabble in classical music, jazz and themes from popular TV shows and movies. If there’s one tune to whistle that I love to whistle the most… It would have to be the Overworld theme from Legend of Zelda.

HCM: You’re quite the jack of all trades?

GWC: Yeah, seems like. Oh, here’s a fun fact; my whistling puts my baby boy to sleep! I usually do the bedtime routine with him, which involves a story, a top-up and then I rock him to sleep while whistling something. He seems to like when I play soft, slow music like Cosmo Canyon or even quick, cute themes from Kirby. I’ve been exposing him to practically every kind of video game tune imaginable. *laughs* Hopefully when he gets older, he’ll recognize all these tunes and go “Dad! I know this one! Where is it from?! Oh, It’s from XYZ game, son! No way! So cool!”

HCM: Indoctrinate them young huh? *laughs* Good plan!

So, from what I understand, you credit your wife as the driving force behind your creative side as well, right? Tell us more about that?

GWC: Yeah, for sure, she’s definitely pushed me to explore my creative side more. Y’know, looking back, I haven’t really talked about her much, so I might as well start now! *chuckles*

HCM: Wow, way to redirect the question here!

GWC: OK so, I met my wife midway through high school. She moved to my hometown from a little city in the middle of the country called Winnipeg and we were introduced to one another through a shared family friend. I was instantly attracted to her but I thought I’d never have a chance with her.

HCM: And what did she think about you?

GWC: She thought I was a weirdo. She still does, come to think of it?

HCM: *winces* Ouch.

GWC: Anyways, we became friends and then hooked up at the tail end of my high school years. We dated for seven years and now we’ve been married for almost six. She and I are complete opposites; she’s highly-organized, tidy and a very Type-A personality, whereas I’m laid-back, a bit disorganized and very chill. But we do have several things in common.

HCM: Like?

GWC: Well, we’re both very creative. While I dabble in writing, she does something called hand-lettering and I swear, she’s a genius with it. Who knew that letters could be so artistic and beautiful you know?

We’re also stubbornly hard workers that challenge each other to do better. Like, she’ll start something, and I’ll be like, “Hey, I should try that too?” So I do it, modifying it to my liking, and then she sees me doing pretty good with it, so she’ll be like “OK wow, you’re such a copycat!” But then, she’ll adapt what I’m doing with her stuff and the cycle continues. We basically feed off each other in terms of our work ethic.

She has a blog as well here on WordPress showcasing her talents in hand lettering. Seriously, her stuff is awesome. Oh yeah, she shares a lot of her work on Instagram and she also has a store on Etsy where people can buy digital copies of things like gift tags and stuff and print them out for their own use. It’s pretty cool.

HCM: That is pretty cool! So, what’s your secret to making this all work?

GWC: I think the biggest secret to our success is that we work as a team at everything – our marriage, parenting, our hobbies, you name it. I’m honestly my wife’s biggest cheerleader. If she wants to do something creative, like take a course or get some new pens to test out, I’m like “Go for it!” I don’t try to stifle her or hold her back and she’s flourished because of that. Even though she just gave birth to our son, that’s not stopping her from pursuing what she loves and vice versa with my writing.

We argue, like all couples do, but we always find solutions to our current problems. Communication and trust are our greatest weapons.

HCM: Great, great, so… Your blog – Games with Coffee – you started that last March. But at that same time, you were apparently pretty lost in your career, right?

GWC: *shrugs* Yeah, so I’ve always been a very hands-on type of guy. I love building things and seeing how things worked and stuff, which is why I got into engineering in the first place.

When I started my career, I started out as a designer. I would use what I’ve learned in university to engineer solutions to client’s problems. I thought that being a designer would help get me to where I wanted to go. At that time though, I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go, but I wanted to end up doing something hands-on.

My first big design gig was very structured, almost to the point where it was stifling. Everything was already thought out for you, so there wasn’t much I could really engineer or create a unique solution for. I was getting pretty stressed because I kept making lots of mistakes. And I made those mistakes because I felt really bored at the job and being a designer. I hated being stuck at my desk for hours staring at a screen with the same programs over and over again.

HCM: So didn’t you make a change?

GWC: Yeah, after about 4 years I left that company and took a similar position one closer to home. The biggest difference between this job and my previous one is that there was less structure, in that there was better opportunity to engineer stuff and I’d have more ownership with projects. At least, that’s what was advertised to me at the time.

HCM: What do you mean by that?

GWC: Well, the job and the company was very free flowing and loose, it wasn’t structured like my old job. Now that’s a good thing because there’s no one to micromanage you and you have full control of your work, but the downside of it is that if things go wrong, it’s all on you. There’s no one readily available to check over your work before submitting it, because the company was so small and everyone can’t just stop what they’re doing and check your work. To top it off, my role directly affected everyone else in the company, so my mistakes were magnified. Beyond that, it was the same stuff as before: same programs, same issues around design, but with different problems and different levels of stress.

I started writing Games with Coffee at the end of that year, where I flamed out spectacularly. It really helped me to cope with the stress, since it involved my favourite subjects: writing and video games. Eventually, I talked to a professional who helped me sort out what I needed to work on both personally and professionally and suddenly, everything started to fall in place.

HCM: In that you ended up in a new position, yes?

GWC: Yep. And it seems like I hit the sweet spot with this one: it’s structured enough that you have a clear idea of what you’re supposed to do with the support to back it up, yet it also encourages making solutions on the fly based on both engineering principles and good old common sense. Best of all, I’m no longer focused on designing stuff; instead I do inspections and figure things out by going to a jobsite instead of trying to imagine how to fix it in the office. It’s pretty cool. It also helped that I took a vastly different approach for starting this job, in that I adopted a beginner’s mindset and embraced failure as something that’s normal to do. It’s helped me so far in succeeding in this position.

HCM: Nice to hear! So, last few questions before we wrap up: You talk a lot about being a Mature, Distinguished Gamer, what does that even mean?

GWC: *laughs* I had a feeling this would come up! Basically to me, being a mature, distinguished gamer is someone who knows how to balance gaming with everyday responsibilities, and I don’t mean just your job outside of home. I mean balancing it with spending time with family and friends, doing chores at home, like cooking or laundry, or what have you. Essentially, taking care of yourself, without letting gaming take over your whole life.

But on top of that is being respectful of other’s views, not just in gaming but in everything. Some people may think that Call of Duty is the greatest game ever made, (I’m using this as an example by the way) and while I personally disagree, I still respect that individual’s view. Sure, there are some good things that can be appreciated in the CoD series, but again, that’s not my personal preference. The point I’m making here is that I’m willing to engage and listen to that person’s viewpoint and maybe open myself up to playing games or genres I wouldn’t have considered otherwise. And also, one should never belittle someone for their choice of game or favourite series or installment of a series, because chances are that game has helped that person through a tough time.

Beyond that, a mature, distinguished gamer should have an appreciation for the classics as well as modern games, keeps an open mind about games of all kinds and reserves judgement on a game only after they’ve spent a fair deal of time playing it. Critical analysis of a game should focus both on what makes the game so good and identifying flaws and suggesting ways on how they could have been addressed, instead of simply saying “It sucks, don’t buy.” That’s just my opinion.

HCM: Alright, so what’s next on the pipeline for you? What’s your plans for this coming season of Games with Coffee?

GWC: So, this year, I’ve decided to jump on some opportunities offered by the community. Part of that includes writing for The Well-Red Mage as… The Hyperactive… Coffee… Mage…

HCM: … I’m sure our readers know by now that you and I are one in the same and that I’m brought here by the magic of fictional writing?

GWC: So… I’m basically talking to myself?

HCM: …

GWC: …Anyways, my debut review on Sonic 2 for the Game Gear went out earlier this month. I think I did a good job on it?

On top of that, the blog’s been nominated for a couple of awards and I want to respond in kind! Thanks again to Athena from AmbiGaming, TheGamingDiaries and NekoJonez for nominating me!

Furthermore, expect to see some more game reviews! I’ve modified my Espresso Shot format based on my work on TWRM. The categories remain the same, but I’m leaning towards providing some historical insight and personal connections to the game.

Also, I’ll be taking some time to focus on my personal writing. My biggest goal this year is to finish the rough draft of a fanfiction that I’ve poured my whole heart and soul into. From there, I’ll edit the heck out of it until it’s suitable for reading and then I’ll be starting a new segment where I’ll be releasing a chapter or two a week. All of this is for preparation for when I start writing my own original story someday in the future.

Other than that, my ongoing playthrough of Path of Exile continues. I’ll be sharing a few more personal anecdotes, particularly about Pokemon; I’m really excited about that one. I’m going to try and write some first impression posts of new releases, such as God of War, which I’m enjoying immensely.

And then there’s Beans and Screens, which I’m hoping takes off. I’ll be making some requests for interviewees in the coming months. (If anyone’s interested, let me know in the comments below!)

HCM: Got an idea of who your next guest will be?

GWC: Hmmm… Well, I suppose I could tease it a little?

So, I got in contact with a very high profile individual from a very successful game released last year. He’s kind of the strong, silent type, but his friend has agreed to interpret for him. So really, it’s two guests. I’ll leave it at that for now; anymore and I’ll spoil it!

HCM: Fair enough. Well, I’ll let you take over closing comments. Meanwhile, I have to draw another Summoning Circl-

GWC: Square.

HCM: …Whatever. *gets up, starts drawing a Summoning Shape using ground coffee beans*

GWC: The Hyperactive Coffee Mage everyone! And as we close off this first edition, I’d like to say a few words:

As enjoyable as this exercise was, none of this would be possible without readers like you. Thank you to those who have inspired, instilled confidence and pushed me to be a better writer. Thank you to you other bloggers out there, who are some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met, even though we’ve never physically met (Ah, the wonders of the Internet!). Keep doing what you do.

Until the next editions of Beans and Screens AND Games with Coffee, this has been Ryan, wishing you well, thanking you for an awesome year and reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing!