The Guide on Being a Mature, Distinguished Game: Part 3 – Respect, Kindness and Empathy

Hello and welcome to another edition of Games with Coffee!

Today is Part 3 on “The Guide on Being a Mature Distinguished Gamer!” Check out previous parts here:

Part 1 – Priorities

Part 2 – Success, Failure and The Gaming Mindset

Part 3 will discuss about Respect, Kindness and Empathy; three things that every Mature, Distinguished Gamer (MDG) should embody on a daily basis, whether it be in the real world or the virtual one.

With all of the outrage and negativity surrounding our world and the cruelty exhibited by people of power on a daily basis, I believe that an emphasis on kindness, respect and empathy are needed now more than ever. And not just towards others, but to the self as well. I believe that if one is kind and respectful to one’s self, they will extend that kindness and respect outwards towards others.

Today, I’ll share some of my experiences regarding these three things, both within and outside of the gaming sphere. Let’s dive in to Part 3 on The Guide on Being a Mature, Distinguished Gamer.

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Be Kind to Yourself

Quite possibly the kindest thing anyone has ever said about me was this recent tweet from my good friend and Magely compatriot, The Mail Order Ninja Mage (AKA Daniel Flatt of Home Button Gaming):

I may be a little modest about this, but I suppose what he is saying is the truth: I try to be as kind and as welcoming to everyone as possible. I do this simply because I treat others the way I want to be treated – something that many people learn in grade school. More importantly (and to reiterate my belief that I introduced in the first section), if one is kind to oneself, he or she will extend that kindness to others.

So, how do you be kind to yourself? It’s as easy as treating yourself as your best friend. How would you talk to your best pal in your life? It could be similar to Marina and Pearl from Splatoon 2? The two rib on each other constantly (especially during a Splatfest!) but they truly support and care for one another and want each other to succeed.

Perhaps it’s similar to the relationship between Solid Snake and Otacon from Metal Gear Solid? These two forged an unlikely friendship under difficult circumstances and it remained strong and steady throughout their many adventures afterward. And they also have an awesome bro handshake.

However you treat your best friend, you should definitely treat yourself in the same way.

When you make a mistake or say or do something strange or inappropriate or even start a conflict with someone, firstly, don’t beat yourself up. Talk to yourself the same way you would talk to your best friend if they screwed up. What if you don’t have a best friend in that way? Another strategy is to speak to yourself in the same way you would speak to your hero or shero in their time of need. Like reminding Cloud that, sure, you gave your mortal enemy the Black Materia, but it’s not too late to save the Planet? Or mentioning to Knuckles that it’s OK that he fell for Dr. Eggman’s schemes once again (for what seems like the millionth time), and that it’s not too late to do the right thing? Same sort of thing, but turning it inwardly to yourself.

Secondly, Forgive Yourself. Everyone makes mistakes, everyone says or does stupid things. We are not infallible beings, we are but human; Flawed and strange in every which way possible, but interesting, important and special at the same time. So give yourself permission to forgive yourself for your mistakes instead of beating yourself up about it.

Thirdly, remind yourself that you are worth something, that you are unique and that you deserve kindness. Don’t think and believe for a second that you are average and ordinary and don’t listen to others when they say so: you can strive to be Excellent and Extraordinary in your own way. Don’t make your mistakes define you as someone worthless, instead tell yourself that this is a learning opportunity and that you’ll grow stronger for it.

Once you give yourself a chance to be kind to yourself, you’ll find that it’s quite easy to extend that same kindness towards others.

Hate The Game But Respect the Gamer

Before we get into the meat of this section, let’s take a look at the following scenarios:

You know that feeling you get whenever you’re tearing it up in a multiplayer game (online or offline) and you’re on a roll? You keep winning and winning and then, out of the blue, a new challenger approaches and completely annihilates you. Every strategy you throw out and every trick in the book gets countered and you’re left completely helpless to this superior player as they cruise over to victory.

Now, two things can occur at this point: the first could be that you rage, scream and spittle at this player who has bested you, ruined your win streak and outright embarrassed you in the game you specialize in. You may be so vexed that you decide to harass this individual in whatever way you can. If the interaction is online, this person may block you or flag you as inappropriate to the admins and therefore have you suspended for some time. If this happens offline, then that person may look at you in a negative light due to your disrespectful behavior. Or they may look at you as a crazy person and do their best never to play with you again.

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Yeah. Don’t be this guy. (Found on Tenor)

The second would be recognizing and acknowledging the skill that this player possessed and moving on from that defeat. You may seethe privately that you’ve been thoroughly owned, but online or offline, you extend a “GG,” and continue on your merry way. Later, you check through the replays or recall the match in your head and see where you did it right and where your opponent took advantage of your weaknesses. You nod and possibly say to yourself: “Wow, that guy really exposed the holes in my defense, mad respect to them for showing me where to improve.” If you’re playing offline, chances are the person beside you would be willing and able to help you improve your game.

Now, I’m sure everyone wants to act in accordance to the second scenario, however, sometimes that’s not always the case. Sometimes you’ll get an opponent who’s sole purpose is to troll the heck out of you and goad you into making a critical mistake. Then when they are victorious, they perform some form of act solely designed to further infuriate you (spamming emoji’s/emotes, repeatedly striking taunting poses, teabagging, etc.). The key here is to not take offense to it and (if possible) rage about it in private. Or mute/block that person and continue on your merry way. An MDG strives to rise above trolling behaviour, and doesn’t have the time or energy to engage in that way either.

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Truth most spoken-eth.

In conclusion, you should hate the game, but never ever hate on the player, regardless of how they are acting toward you. It says more about your character if you don’t stoop to the level of a troll and behave disrespectfully.

So, how does the MDG approach this in real life? Simple:

Respectfulness IRL

Unlike online or even split-screen multiplayer (a rarity in this day and age), you can’t really choose who you have to work with at times. Sure, you can randomly pair yourself with other players in quick matches online, but 90% of the time, players forget about each other and move on to the next match. Unfortunately for us, that doesn’t apply to coworkers.

Chances are, you’ll either be working or already have worked with the individuals you see day in and day out in the office. Some coworkers can be good team members and a pleasure to work with. But the opposite is true and the MDG must be prepared to that inevitability.

A rule that the MDG must remember is that respect is a two-way street: In order to gain any respect, one must be respectful in kind. Sometimes that means biting the bullet and working with Joan from logistics or Doug from accounting to get things done, regardless of Joan’s nosiness or Doug’s constant needling at your appearance or working habits.

A good habit to establish is what I call the 80/20 rule: List down what you like and what you detest about this person. The rule here is if you can find and focus on at least 20% of positive qualities about that person, the other 80% of that person doesn’t really matter. In that sense, it prevents the other offending person from affecting you and your work.

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In this case, it’s 33%. (Note that Karen is a fictional character for this series. The pros and cons are based on real people though.)

If the person does frustrate you to no end, another suggestion I have is to write down your frustrations about this person in private. You can safely air out your grievances towards this individual while still maintaining a professional working relationship. Just make sure that what you’re saying is not publicly accessible. The best thing to use would be a journal or even a sheet of paper which you tear up into pieces.

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With this level of enthusiasm.

Respect doesn’t solely come from doing well in your work. It also relies on your ability to be personal and empathetic to others: those so-called ‘soft skills.’ Let’s talk about those.

Empathy in the Mature Distinguished Gamer

Alright, let me preface this by saying I’m that stereotypical, overtly nice Canadian, the one that says sorry for just about everything and that guy who speaks very formally and politely. The thing is, you don’t have to be a Canadian or overtly nice or a well-spoken individual to be empathetic to others.

For me, I always try to put myself in other people’s shoes and understand how they are feeling. Not only that, I take the advice of wise old Master Splinter and lend my ear to those who wish to use it to talk of their inner struggles.

Being genuine with others, helping them with their problems and getting yourself out of your own head – those are things that help me feel empathetic towards others.

But what if you’re not much of a people person? All it takes is to treat others with the same decency that you expect from others. If you can lend a hand when possible, do so, otherwise don’t sweat it. Sometimes, displaying the bare minimum of empathy towards others is good enough.

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Not all people are receptive to empathetic gestures and that’s perfectly fine. Give them space and move on. If they are though, set reasonable limits and know when to back off, change the subject or stop talking altogether. When they’re going into inane details about their third-ex or droning on about their endless complaints at their job, it’s time to end that conversation and move on! But, if they’re going on about something legitimately serious in their lives, do your best to listen and understand their feelings.

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And always remember to set healthy boundaries!

You’re not going to get it right all the time. I’m not perfect and I make plenty of mistakes when it comes to other peoples’ feelings; I’ll say the wrong things at the wrong times, or make an inappropriate comment, or I don’t give others my full attention when somebody wants it, or I can just generally be awkward. An MDG, when in such a situation, always tries to genuinely apologize when feelings are hurt and always does their best to be better. Slip ups happen from time to time, but as long as one recognizes and corrects themselves, then things generally tend to work out in the long run.

One Last Thing

Being kind, caring for others and trying to understand and acknowledge other’s feelings is an intrinsic part of being human. This human desire to connect with others has been emulated in several video games and we are indeed blessed to be surrounded by various characters we can all relate and look up to in times of joy or sadness.

If you want to improve your kindness, empathy and respect, look to those heroes and observe how they interact with others in their respective games. Some are great examples of how to act towards others and others can teach you how not to act! It’s all dependent on what you play.


So, how was that? I’m a bit nervous about this one; respect, empathy and kindness are touchy subjects and I really hope I wasn’t too preachy about them. If so, let me know in the comments or on Twitter! Also, let me know how you approach these in your life! I’m always interested in how others show respect, empathy and kindness!

The next part is the last in our mini-series and it’s about goals. I also have a few important announcements to make at the end, so I do hope you stick around until then!

This has been Ryan from Games with Coffee, reminding you with kindness and respect to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing.

The Hcman Gaming Keyboard: An Inexpensively Reliable Mechanical Keyboard!

Hey everyone, welcome to another edition of “Games with Coffee!” Continuing where I left off with the G502 Proteus Spectrum Mouse, I’d like to talk about my next acquisition: a mechanical gaming keyboard! This thing ain’t no Razer, or a Logitech Gaming Keyboard by any means, but it lights up, has that special, clicky mechanical feel, has various configuration options and all for a fraction of the price of the more high end keyboards available! This is the Hcman (HOW do you pronounce that?!) Mechanical Gaming Keyboard!

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Backstory

I have an ASUS Transformer laptop. It was the perfect unit to type stories and blog posts on due to it being compact, lightweight and easy to use. Well, it used to be perfect because only a few months ago, my keyboard dock started to fritz out on me and I lost the ability to type the ‘C’ and ‘S’ keys! I looked up solutions, applied BIOS updates and generally mashed the keys to force it to work once more, but it was no use: the keys were toast and are currently not working at all. So I had to find a new solution.

I first tried a wireless keyboard with a USB input. Things were going good for the first month until it ultimately crapped out on me. Anything I connected the USB reciever into – laptop, Raspberry Pi, etc. – the device couldn’t recognize the keyboard, so it became a useless paperweight that I bought for about $20…

Learning from my mistake, I decided to get a gaming keyboard with mechanical switches. They’re durable, the back light makes it easy to work in the dark and the clicking sounds they make were oddly satisfying to me. I didn’t have the scratch to plonk down for a high end keyboard, but I also didn’t want to cheap out either. After doing my research on Amazon, I settled on the Hcman keyboard, which (and I may be biased here) was an amazing purchase!


The Keyboard

For a roughly $40 keyboard, the quality is not that bad. The top has a sandblasted aluminum finish, with the company’s logo milled onto the surface between the arrow and page up/down key areas. It gives it a nice, upscale look. The bottom is plastic with rubber pads on the corners to keep it from moving when on a surface. r Each row has its own coloured back light; from top to bottom, orange, white, green, violet, blue and red.

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Look at those colours!

The keyboard actually quite compact: measuring in at about 14″ long by 5″ wide (355 mm x 127 mm for the metric folks). There’s no number pad on this board, hence why it’s smaller in size compared to other keyboards. There are a total of 87 keys on the board.

They keyboard has an anti-ghosting or NKRO (N-key rollover) feature, which allows a user to press multiple keys at once; perfect for gamers who need to press multiple keys to accomplish various actions.

The keys have a nice, clicky feel to them and look extremely durable. They’re a bit noisy, but I feel in a state of zen whenever I type on it. The noise, however, may annoy others around you; My wife hates whenever I use it and she complains that it’s always too loud.

The keycaps can be replaced, thanks to the included key removal tool, so it’s easy to customize the keyboard to however you like.

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I think the coolest part about this keyboard is the multiple lighting effects! There are nine in total, including pulsating, wave, scrolling and ripple, among others. Another neat feature included on the board is the capability to customize your key back lights for various games! There’s a built in RTS (real time strategy) and FPS (first person shooter) configuration, which lights up only the keys that you would use for those games, but there are three additional profiles that can be reprogrammed to suit your specific game. For instance, I have one specifically tailored to Path of Exile and another for emulation. Customizing the board is extremely simple; select the empty profile by hitting FN + 1, 2 or 3, hit FN +Esc to start recording, type the keys that you use for the game you’re playing and then hit FN + Esc to end the recording and save it to the board!

Performance-wise, I’m very pleased with it. The keys are very responsive and connecting it to my laptop was incredibly easy; just plug in the braided USB cable and you’re set!   I’ve put it through its paces by writing posts and my fanfic and I’ve had no problems doing either. If you’re a writer or enjoy writing, I recommend that you pick up a mechanical keyboard over all others. There’s even a back light setting specifically tailored for the office. It doesn’t do anything for the noise however…

I think the only complaint I have about this keyboard is how people complain how noisy it is. I love the sounds myself, but again, the noise may drive others crazy… Others may not like the fact that the number pad is not included with the unit, but I personally don’t miss it.


Right now, you can pick it up on Amazon for $39.99 CAD with free shipping, which I think is a great price for a mechanical gaming keyboard. If you’re looking for a great gift this Christmas, either for your favourite mature, distinguished gamer, or for yourself (because you gotta treat yourself at times!), I highly recommend this.

Stay tuned for the next edition coming very soon: Christmas is next week and if you’re looking for some last minute gaming gift ideas for your favourite person, then I have a few ideas for you!

Once again, this has been Ryan from “Games with Coffee,” reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing. See you next time!

 

Beginner’s Mindset, Failing Forward and Starting Over: How They Relate To Gaming and Real Life

Good morning and welcome to another edition of “Games with Coffee!” May today reflect the contents of your mug: filled to the brim with hot, delicious goodness!

Today, I’m going to talk about having a beginner’s mindset, failing forward and starting over. I want to talk about these because several situations have happened at my (now former) place of employment that I could have avoided if I took those three things seriously. Don’t worry though, I do have a new job lined up and I talk about it in this post.

I also feel that it’s important for mature, distinguished gamers to keep these three things in mind, whether you’re crushing it in the office, in front of the TV/PC/Handheld, etc. or wherever you are. With that said, let’s get started.


Beginner’s Mindset

Whether it’s in real life or video games, being an expert at something feels amazing. If you’re not careful though, it can really get to your head. You might either stop learning from or listening to others who are willing to teach you because you consider yourself such an expert at things, and that can cause lots of problems. I say this because that’s what happened to me at my old job. I thought I was the best at what I do, but it took two bad summers, several little mistakes that grew into huge problems and flat out pride to cut me down to size. I’m kinda glad that it happened, to be perfectly honest, because it got me to rethink what I really wanted to do with my engineering career and, after speaking with friends, family and career specialists, I’ve left my old job and am starting in a new, totally different direction in my career. I wanted to go into this new opportunity with a different mindset than I had previously; I already knew I was no expert, so I’m going to do the opposite – I’ll adopt a beginner’s mindset.

I learned about the beginner’s mindset idea after listening to an audiobook about Mindfulness by Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of the Mindfulness movement. Beginner’s mindset is one of the several behaviours he explains helps a person become more mindful of their surroundings and it was his explanation of it that inspired me to adopt it for myself.

Having a beginner’s mindset doesn’t mean to forget all that you know; it means to let go of the notion that you’re an almighty expert and to accept the fact that there’s always something more to learn in your field by listening and learning from those who are either more experienced, or from those who have a completely different perspective on the subject you’re learning about. Being an expert is good for several things but it limits your mind and makes you think that you know everything when you don’t. To have a beginner’s mindset is to embrace learning as an ongoing thing.

This doesn’t have to be limited to real life – it also applies to gaming as well. Take for example fighting and racing games; you can always try out new tactics you’ve learned from other players in versus mode and understand your character’s or opponent’s moves  better through the practice mode. In racing games you can shave off your best time and understand the track mechanics in Time Attack/Time Trial mode, or even go through the tutorial modes to brush up on and explore driving techniques you’d never think of using before.

On top of that, having a beginner’s mindset also means continually going back to basics, which can encompass many things, such as reviewing proper communication protocols between clients and colleagues, relearning how to take effective notes and regurgitating them when the situation calls for them and ensuring that checks and balances are in place to catch mistakes. In gaming, it can also mean going through basic controls and movesets, reviewing basic strategy, understanding strengths and weaknesses of things like weapons, armour or elements, playing through the tutorial levels a couple of times as a refresher or even re-reading the game’s instruction manual. Those are but a few examples; there are many more situations that can apply here.

You might be saying now, “What’s the point in all this?” Well, I look at it this way: Sometimes, after a situation in game, at work or home, or wherever has long happened, I’ll come across something so basic and obvious that I overlooked earlier and I think “Man, if I had paid attention to this basic thing earlier, I could’ve avoided that messed-up situation I encountered at home/work/in the game I’m playing. But now that I’ve reviewed it and better understand how to apply it, I’ll be ready for when that same or similar situation happens next time!” Reviewing the basics while maintaining a beginner’s mindset is something that I encourage everyone to do, whether it’s in the real world or in video games. It may help to raise your awareness of things that you may have overlooked.

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Listen to ROB64! Always practice the basics!

Sometimes though, all your best efforts will result in failure, but it’s never a bad thing. If there’s two things I learned after leaving at my last job, it’s that you should never be afraid of failure and that it’s never too late to start over.

Failing Forward and Starting Over

In a job interview I had recently, one of the questions my interviewer asked me was if I would be OK with starting over. This question was a follow up after they asked me what kinds of mistakes I made at work, whether recent or not.

Here, I sort of panicked. Job Interview 101 made me think: “What mistakes do I mention that won’t make me look bad but were negligible compared to the overall completion of the project?” So I started with something that happened some time ago in one of my first positions in my career. The fact that I don’t remember what I said now was a testament to how lame my initial answer was. So, in a moment of honesty, and trusting my instincts (Thanks Peppy), I revealed that I recently (like in the last two months) made a major design error which required me to go to the construction site, review how much work was already done with the incorrect design, return to the office to correct it and resend it back to the mechanical contractors to fix, causing a huge inconvenience for everyone involved and an resulting back charge to our company for the extra work. When the follow up was asked, I took no time in answering yes, that I would be willing to start over and relearn everything if it meant that I would succeed in my new role.

I pondered over those two questions after reading the offer letter in my inbox. To honestly admit some of my greatest mistakes was a difficult thing for me to do. I imagine it’s the same for many people but for me it’s nearly crippling; I tend to beat myself up, agonize and criticize myself over my mistakes and failures, to the point where it sometimes becomes destructive to my self-esteem, causing me to make further mistakes. It’s become a real problem for me which I’m slowly working to get better on with the help of some coaching and self reflection and learning how to really let go of my fear of failure.

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Me, running from my failures. (Image from Giphy)

Admitting my failures out loud, even to a potential employer, ended up being therapeutic for me and it allowed me to really examine what I’ve done and come up with a way to make sure these mistakes don’t repeat themselves. Even as I speak, I’m coming up with new ways to identify and learn from my mistakes, whether it’s through building checklists and logs or (my favourite option) performing a post mortem/lessons learned report to review what went well and what didn’t, along with ways to change my thinking whenever I do fail. What really surprised me was that after I mentioned that blunder in the interview, I still ended up getting the job. It felt like I was given a second chance to prove myself, even though it’s with a new company rather than the current one I’m was in before now.

With this in mind, along with a beginner’s mindset, I’m also going into this new opportunity with the notion to fail forward. That means reviewing the failures I’ve made and will continue making along the way in a nonjudgmental way, give myself the opportunity to learn from them, why they happened and reduce the likelihood of a repeat happening.

“But how does this all relate to gaming?” you ask, as you roll your eyes at my boring work story. Well, in platforming games, like Super Mario Bros. or Sonic the Hedgehog, you always have extra lives to use in case you die mid-level. However, if you really think about the mechanics of platformers and about how tricky they can be at times, when you lose a life, it gives you an opportunity to review and learn from your mistake. You can either perfect your timing, adjust the height and length of your jump to that difficult platform, or save that power-up for before you meet that tough enemy on your run instead of after, to name a few examples. In RPG’s, like Final Fantasy, you have the Save Point; a restore point where you can return if you lose your fight. It’s a great opportunity to either retool your characters’ weapons, armour or magic or refine your battle strategy when everything goes south and your characters fall in battle. Video games essentially teach a person to fail forward; make the failure, analyze and understand why it happened, try again with a new solution and repeat until success is found.

In real life though, you don’t always get extra lives or Save Points to retry from, but you’ll still get the opportunity to learn from your failures. Failing doesn’t mean that your less of a person or that you’re not good at what your doing (which were things that I had to come to terms with), it just means that you’re learning the right things for the next time that scenario comes forward again. As someone once told me, you got to fail your way toward success, and these days, I feel like video games do a good job in teaching that, I just never paid attention. Either way the moral of the story is: Fail forward and fail often.

Sometimes though, you can fail so hard at a job, in a relationship or in a game, that you’d think to yourself, “Man, I’d love to do that over again… I would have approached it differently/said something that fixed things, etc..”  There have been many times where I wished that I could start over and approach things from a different perspective.

In gaming, we have the reset button; used to either start from a save point or from the very beginning.  Resetting a game allows us an opportunity to choose a different approach to an in-game situation vs. the choice made prior to the reset. For instance, you can do that side-quest differently and receive an alternative reward that may be better than the one you first got, you could use a different strategy to take on a tough boss, take a different path that may be an easier way through than the one you were on before, or even choose a different response to an NPC you spoke to earlier to elicit easier or more favorable conditions for your journey.

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If at first you don’t succeed, reset and try again. (Image from Giphy)

Life, unfortunately, doesn’t really give a person a reset button to fix their current situation, but it’s the lessons you learn in those situations that you can apply when you do decide to start over, whether it’s in the same, or in a different direction altogether.


So, there you have it. Have you adopted a beginner’s mindset? Ever struggled with failure? Started over somewhere? Let me know in the comments below!

Stay tuned for the next edition, because I’m doing an Espresso Shot Review on the game, Golden Axe! Also coming up, I’ll be talking about a fanfiction that I’ve been writing and using the NaNoWriMo challenge to motivate me into finishing it, how using a gaming mouse at work may lead to increased efficiency and a brand-new gaming keyboard that I picked up from Amazon to replace my laptop’s faulty one.

Until next time, this has been Ryan from “Games with Coffee,” reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing! 

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this post are of my own and neither reflect the views of company I am currently employed for, nor the views of my former place of employment.