Devs

What I Love (And Don’t Love) By Devs

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Television

Devs, the new series by Alex Garland, almost feels like it was made for me. For those who are not aware of Alex Garland, he’s the brilliant mind behind 28 Days Later (the zombie movie that is not actually about zombies), as well as Dredd, the games Enslaved: Odyssey to the West and DmC, as well as the movies Ex Machina and Annihilation. I unironically love all of these things – so when I saw that Garland was creating a new series that would touch on some of the same themes as his more recent works, I jumped at the prospect to watch it.

After two episodes in, I’m not exactly hooked on Devs – but it does have a lot of interesting things going for it. For one, it’s the most un-TV-like show ever made, and spends time to establish shots and set the mood in a way that only Stanley Kubrick was known for. But on the other hands, unlike 2001: A Space Odyssey, which it seems to be greatly inspired by in the way that Mr. Robot is inspired by Fight Club and David Fincher, Devs creates its own spin on the concept of fate and free will – and plays with it in various ways.

Devs

Before going into the themes of the show a bit further, I do want to emphasize that the premise itself is fantastic. Nick Offerman, cast against type, plays a grieving tech entrepreneur, whose main focus seems to be to create human life from nothing in a deterministic way in order to resurrect his deceased daughter, who seems to have died in a car accident. He even has a giant statue of her on his company’s ‘campus,’ and has named the Google-esque company after her. While Offerman is treading the road traveled by Oscar Isaac in Ex Machina, there’s something vulnerable and even warm about his persona that adds so much to the role – and makes it all the more menacing.

Getting back to the themes themselves, the show is not exactly subtle, and is not exactly constructed like a TV show either. In fact, it often feels like Garland wanted to make a 3-hour movie, but went with a miniseries because the format is currently more friendly to creators who want to follow their vision more completely.

There’s one particular scene where Lily, a computer engineer who is trying to solve the mystery of her boyfriend’s death, talks with a homeless man outside her apartment, as does Jamie, her ex-boyfriend who she turns to for help that shows this very well. The dialogue here is a bit stilted, and it does little to characterize anyone in the show. As such, Devs is full with this type of filler and fodder that may pay off later (and I’m sure it does!) but its pacing feels like its plodding along, burning time slowly to get ready for the meat later on

Devs

And it seems to me, at least two episodes in, that there’s plenty of meat on the bones of this world. The story itself is simplistic, and characters seem to spell out their motivations all the same, but that adds far more room for the visual acumen of Garland, who loves to play with sound, color, philosophy, and religious imagery to create a cacophony of discordant symbols and imagery – all of which will add up to, well, something. We just inherently can’t know what it is yet.

Still, I am a big Garland fan, and I can see the show working overtime behind the scenes to deliver something great. That’s not to say that some of the fat can’t be trimmed, but establishing shots of San Francisco, the tech ‘campus’ and other areas do a lot to set the mood of the piece, and like Annihliation, it feels like a symphony in its opening act, just waiting to crescendo.

quitting writing

Why I’ve (Mostly) Quit Writing and What That Means Going Forward

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Writing

Those of you who have read this blog in the past but don’t know by now must realize something. It’s pretty fucking dead. There’s a pretty good reason for that. I’ve pretty much gone ahead and quit writing. That’s right. I don’t really write much anymore. It just isn’t really for me.

In truth, that’s not quite accurate. I do a lot of freelance writing, and write a lot of content. But that’s just words. It’s not really writing. Even blogging isn’t writing, not really. I’ve been working on my book, of course. But that’s some rewriting, and a lot of producing and waiting on all of the art pieces to fall into place. But it isn’t really writing.

Quitting writing, then, has just kind of been a natural choice for me. I have a job, I make plenty of money, I live in New York with my wife. I haven’t really written about any of this on the blog, because in reality, things are going quite well for me. I feel like I was largely drawn to writing in the first place because things were decidedly not going well. I felt like I couldn’t communicate; that this is the way I would lend my provocative point of view to the world, to feel like I mattered.

But provocation isn’t interesting anymore. Everyone’s doing it, from the government, to tech companies, to society at large; the whole world has been disrupted. Hell, the creators of Silicon Valley just ended the show because of how big tech have become the bad guys. It just isn’t funny anymore. As such, being that self-important voice just isn’t important to me anymore either. And really, it just doesn’t define who I am or the life I live in the way that it used to.

I do have a piece coming out next week, and of course, never say never, but I’m kind of turned off from writing nowadays. Even though I defined my blog, my social media, and my whole life by it previously, it just isn’t who I am anymore. I’m creative, I’m strategic, I’m good at structuring things, but most of all, I’m Daniel Horowitz. I’m not just a guy who can sling some sentences together and call it a day and be miserable thereafter.

I’m a husband, a brother, a son, and a great friend, and most importantly, I have a great life. There’s a lot more to me than just my writing.  I’ve had successes and failures as a writer, but quitting writing has taught me that those failures weren’t really failures. They were just roads that I was made to travel to end up where I am now.

Of course, it’s not like I’m never going to write again. I’m just not going to put the expectation on myself to do so. I didn’t even make it to 100 posts, after all. But I think putting the expectation on myself to write has kind of ruined it for me. Like breaking into any creative art, the burden of industry is too strong when you got into that it ruins your enjoyment of it.

But still, I think quitting writing is right for me right now. It’s not giving up if you realized it may not be what you wanted in the first place, or at least what makes your life worth living now. I’ll still write — but not to give myself meaning.

I’ll do it only if I want to.

 

How to Balance SEO and Creativity in Writing for Your Blog

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Marketing, Writing

It’s no accident that I don’t write for my blog as much anymore. Not only is it difficult to gain traction on social media since Facebook changed their content discovery algorithm, but I often feel like every piece needs to be optimized for distribution in some way or form. That kind of kills the joy out of not just writing in general, but also specifically writing for this blog. In short, the old adage, ‘if you built it, they will come’ is certainly not true when it comes to blogging.

I’ve often said that blogging is like writing a first draft – you’re kind of just throwing up on the page and seeing what sticks. It’s not as refined or pristine as something you’d try to publish on another website, or even something that you’d write creatively. Blogging is like walking on the treadmill – not useless, exactly, but it’s nothing to write home about in terms of developing your writing skills. That’s why, for better or worse, all blog posts need to be optimized around a keyword for SEO. If you’re not going to gain traction on social media (I’ve had articles that have gotten 20k views on Facebook and Reddit, which wouldn’t happen today without any paid ads) you need to focus on writing content around a keyword.

This is inherently stifling, your content only exists as a commodity, and it only exists to answer relevant user questions. But it doesn’t have to be. I have found that you can write blog content that is SEO optimized and that is also inherently creative. Take my last blog post, ‘How to Uninstall Blizzard Games From Your Life’. It’s not inherently a brilliant piece, but it does take my personal narrative about quitting Blizzard games once and for all and marries it with the keyword ‘uninstall Blizzard games.’ Obviously, that isn’t what the user intent is for the keyword. People are purely looking on information on how to uninstall a Blizzard game from their computer. But by adding a section about that, but also focusing on what I want to say around the topic, I found that I was able to rank the piece and get plenty of eyeballs on it.

Although I certainly don’t know the first thing about web design (as you can see from the structure of my blog) having an extensive knowledge of SEO and being a creative writer can actually be paired quite well. There’s no better marketing channel to get traffic from than Google – it’s estimated that over 40,000 people per second search for something on Google.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t know of any other channel that can potentially generate that type of search volume for you. If you’re a decent writer, and, more importantly, you know how to work the search system, you can climb the Google rankings with a mediocre blog for a keyword with high volume and low difficulty.  After all, I work in SEO, and have access to premier tools such as Ahrefs, so it wasn’t a stretch for me to do so.

To do so, you just need to approach the whole thing creatively. I once got a great piece of advice from a writing mentor of mine, “write the things you want to read but don’t exist.” Unbeknownst to him, you can also approach SEO content writing for your blog the same. All you need to do is create something really good that targets that keyword and that people will want to read. Just make sure your site can actually rank for that keyword based on what else is ranking. Forum posts and Medium posts, for example, are pretty easy to outrank.

The most important thing though is to write on your blog for the joy of just writing on your blog. I didn’t optimize this post toward a keyword – sometimes you just don’t want to do that. And that’s ok. Your blog isn’t going to change the world. But if you want people to read it – and you want to feel like what you have to say matters, then you better creatively optimize for SEO. Because if you don’t, you’re going to struggle with keeping up your blog in any meaningful way.

 

 

how to uninstall blizzard games

How to Uninstall Blizzard Games From Your Life

Posted 1 CommentPosted in Video Games

It’s been months since I’ve played a Blizzard title. For me, that’s a first. Since I got hooked on Starcraft in High School, I’ve been obsessed with Blizzard games. I even ran a clan in Starcraft for years, and have fond memories of playing the Helm’s Deep used map settings with both my clan and friends from High School. Since then, I had a short-ish stint in World of Warcraft (where my friends quickly outpaced me) and have been playing Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and Overwatch since launch. I was even, at one point, one of those whales that bought the $50 expansion for every Hearthstone release, single-handedly keeping the game afloat for years.

That’s all to say that while I wasn’t exactly a Blizzard fanboy, I was someone who played a lot of Blizzard games. But there comes a time in every nerd’s life where he or she just needs to move on. As such, I’ve realized that Blizzard games just aren’t for me anymore. Every expansion of Hearthstone is more repetitive than the last, and Overwatch hasn’t innovated since the supremacy of GOATS. Because of this, I felt compelled to look into how to uninstall Blizzard games, and realized that the task is a bit more obnoxious than I anticipated.

how to uninstall blizzard games

How to Uninstall Blizzard Games the Right Way

It really does take some work to get these files off your computer. It’s not just the emotional labor of uninstalling games from a beloved company that you used to obsess over every new update, it’s also  actually difficult to actually physically get the files off your machine. It’s so complex, that Blizzard actually has an advanced troubleshooting guide to getting rid of the games beyond just using the Battle.net app. That being said, all you actually have to do is go to the ‘options’ cog within the Battle.net app and delete the game from there. But, more than likely, you’ll also have to go into your files and manually delete the game as well. This is because there are typically some residue files left over, such as save files, that need to be cleared out manually. If you’re ready to do that, you’ll need to make a clean break and get away from Blizzard games once and for all.

how to uninstall blizzard games

What To Do Once You’ve Learned How to Uninstall Blizzard Games

Once you’ve uninstalled, it’s time to move on. In a way, I think that’s the hardest part. You can’t just uninstall Blizzard games from your life. You’ll always have the memories of spending countless hours searching for the right Hearthstone combo, running out of minerals in Starcraft, or trying to push the payload in Overwatch when your teammates are more intersted in pretending they’re playing team deathmatch. Except for Heroes of the Storm. That one we always knew kind of sucked.

This isn’t to say that I feel betrayed by the company. I know a lot of games (rightfully) do because of their recent antics, but Blizzard, like any other company, is just a business entity. They aren’t a collection of emotions or values, even if the games acted as a conduit for myself and other games to feel that way when they were at their best. But the truth is, I haven’t enjoyed Blizzard games for some time. I no longer get any joy out of the new Hearthstone expansions, and genuinely have no interest in booting up the game. I also am just plain tired of Overwatch. As one former Overwatch pro put it, “The game itself couldn’t tug at my interest anymore, and I couldn’t become the star. The same comps, the same maps, the same strategies.”

Granted, I’m not struggling with self-harm issues or anything like that, but the game really doesn’t hold any interest for me. As much as I’ve enjoyed bounding around the map as Brigitte, or  hooking it up as Roadhog, I just feel like I hit a skill wall where if I wanted to get much better I’d really have to dedicate more time to the game. And that’s just not something I — or a lot of players, it seems —am willing to do. It’s just not fun if it’s the same old thing.

how to uninstall blizzard games 4
Yep, it’s about that time…

All in all, I feel like I’ve learned how to enjoy video games again more and more. I’m playing more than ever —just not online. Blizzard was my last real link to online gaming with strangers. And severing my ties with Blizzard titles has also allowed me to focus more on my writing, my new marriage, and be more productive with work. Taking the time to learn how to uninstall Blizzard games has not just been good for my wallet — it’s also been good for my mental health. Instead, I can focus more on the single player experiences that I enjoy, and live my life the way I want to a bit more.

In other words, learning how to uninstall Blizzard games — both emotionally and physically, has done me a world of good. And it probably will for you too.

how's the weather today?

‘How’s the Weather Today?’: A Retrospective

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Culture, Travel

How’s the weather today?

This is a question that I never really asked myself much – at least until I moved to New York. Given that we just went through the rainiest season on record, looking up the weather has become something of a ritual for me. Because I work from home and have plenty of free time to actually go outside, the question of ‘how’s the weather today?’ is often the first thing that I look at when I get up, and the last thing I look at before I go to bed.

It’s weird living my life at the whims of an tampered climate, knowing that it’s only going to get worse. It rained throughout May and part of June, and the last few weeks have been the hottest on record in parts of the world. It’s not exactly a good time to be a human if you’re sensitive to the weather, and unfortunately, I’m pretty sensitive to the weather.

When traveling the world, the effects of climate change were much more evident. When in the Philippines, I remember looking at landfills of consumable garbage that were higher than some of the buildings they were situated right next to. In India and Nepal, the waste often got so bad that you’d have to wade through it on the street. On the supposedly nice beaches of Bali, trash washed up on the shore and contaminated the water, except at the beaches that white people curated for themselves.

Who says that travel can’t give you meaning? Well, I did – but maybe the meaning doesn’t come from the travel itself. You can go to all these places and collect all of these countries, but these are almost irrelevant experiences you’re having in a vacuum – one in which no one in your life back home can even attempt to relate with. Your absence is more like a void in other people’s lives, and even though it may seem like more than that in yours, that’s essentially what it is – filling a void.

Now that I’ve only done one trip (aside for a family vacation) in the last six months, maybe it’s more evident that travel does matter, or at least the effects of  it on you do, if not the action itself. After all, anyone can travel if they just have the free time and the disposable income, it’s not really an achievement or something to be proud of.

Except the kicker for me is that I’ve only only noticed the effects after I stopped traveling full-time. I don’t think I’d have a real sense of what I liked and disliked without having done it. I don’t think I’d be able to differentiate East Coast humidity from monsoons and humidity so egregious that the heat physically seems to rise off the street. Knowing the climate is fucked everywhere really makes you appreciate what you have weather-wise.

How’s the weather today?

Well, it sucks. But in context – it could be worse.

 

black mirror smithereens review

Black Mirror ‘Smithereens’ Review

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Culture, Television

When I first watched Black Mirror, back in 2015, the show’s reputation was synonymous with quality. However, since then, the show has been pretty hit or miss, with a lot of episodes being borderline unwatchable. Despite this, I’ve more or less kept up with Black Mirror, and decided to check out the new season, starting with the episode ‘Smithereens.’

Black Mirror ‘Smithereens’ Review: the following contains spoilers

From the start, ‘Smithereens’ played out like a lesser version of ‘The National Anthem,’ which played with the effects that social media had on society. If you don’t remember it well, it’s the one where the PM fucks the pig on national TV. As such, ‘Smithereens’ is also set in a contemporary world (2018) without the aid of futuristic technology, so it is totally based on the current world we live in. The problem with the episode is that the motivations of the characters don’t make sense relative to the current society we live in. The crux of the episode is that a mentally unstable Uber drive lost his fiance because he was checking his social media page while driving, getting into a fatal car accident and killing her. Due to this guilt, he wanted to speak to the CEO of the social media company to tell him that this happened. He doesn’t really hold him responsible, and he’s aware that his own actions were largely the cause of the accident. It wasn’t the great algorithm in the sky that caused his demise, but it was his own actions, and his own addiction to social media that caused this.

black-mirror-smithereens review

I’m not saying that nobody has ever killed someone due to getting a notification on their phone, but the whole contrivance of the scenario was a bit too much for me. The fact that the great twist is something out a PSA after school special was profoundly silly. I don’t really feel like social media is ‘ruining society’ because of the way people’s brains are hardwired. It’s such like a simplified worldview to think that that’s the problem, and I think it’s a point of view that Black Mirror seems happy to promote, even though the kidnapper does acknowledge his actions aren’t totally due to the evils of technology. However, the social media CEO that he talks on the phone with, who is supposed to be a pastiche of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey (the silent retreat he is one is based on one that Dorsey himself did in Myanamar), makes an argument that kind of undermines this. In the episode, he admits to sort of Frankenstein-ing his social media platform together, and for feeling terrible and having a conscience about the effects his platform has had on society.

In reality, I think this is meant to be catharsis for the audience, and I don’t think tech CEOs actually have horrible regret about the world they have wrought. The closest we have in Elon Musk, who is basically if Tony Stark was severally mentally ill and forced into the confines of creating technology that competes with other technology within market capitalism. That’s why you see him create things like The Boring Company and spark outrage with the SEC; because he wants to innovate, and wants to piss off his corporate overlords. That’s not to say that Zuckerberg and Dorsey don’t think they are changing society, they’re just too blinded by their own arrogance to realize it, and I don’t think a social media CEO would ever come to that realization in that way. 

The episode ends with people getting notifications about the standoff, and kind of just brushing the entire thing under the rug. The truth is, condemning the masses for doing this, in the way that Black Mirror does, is totally absurd. Why is that a bad thing? We’re so inundated with mass shooters on a regular basis, along with political updates that rupture the fabric of our society, and we all collectively shrug at it. What else are we supposed to do really? The episode takes this tack as though it’s the failing of the system growing too insidious and that its why people are fucked up, but is it really? Or are there other issues at play that don’t have anything to do with that? The episode doesn’t really consider that maybe the kidnapper was pretty fucked up before he even got into the car accident, and that it wasn’t exactly killing his fiance that set him on to the path of psychosis.

All in all, I don’t think that newer episodes of Black Mirror quite dig into the nuanced psychological ways that technology effects the human mind in the way that earlier seasons had (especially seasons 1-3). I will be watching the rest of the season, but not with high expectations.

If you liked this TV review, be sure to check out other reviews that I’ve done

Cobra Kai Season 1 Review

Samurai Jack Final Episode Review

cutting off damaged hair

I Cut My Damaged Hair Off and Never Felt Better

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Culture

By 30, it’s estimated that over 25% of men have noticeable hair loss. I wouldn’t say that I’m quite there, but to me, it’s noticeable. Partially to avoid this, and partially because I had been traveling full-time for over two years, I grew a travel beard and long hair.  When I was traveling, it was easier to maintain (or not do anything really), and at the time, it was definitely the look for me. But there comes a time where you look at yourself, and look at how your life has evolved, and realize that the hair isn’t just about the hair. It’s about the lifestyle. Now that my lifestyle has changed , and I live in Brooklyn, the long hair semi-homeless travel look no longer served a functional purpose for me. I was already thinking of cutting it off, but when I went to go get a trim, my barber informed me that having long hair was exacerbating my balding. As such, he recommended cutting off damaged hair in order to better preserve what hair I have left.

I agreed — I had the impression that my hair had gotten more damaged recently. It was getting frizzier and more brittle, and the curls did not have the same bounce that they used to. But cutting off damaged hair didn’t immediately occur to me as an option. I had thought that I wanted to keep my long hair — at least as long as I had enough hair to do so. After all, I had been rocking the style for two years, and I didn’t see any reason to change things up now.

But it wasn’t exactly a choice for me. Sure, I could have gone to another barber and saved the decision for another day. But not cutting off damaged hair would have just made my balding worse. Many men in their late 20’s to early 30’s have this problem, and if you let it, it can totally destroy your self-confidence. But genetics are genetics, and while there are certain products you can use, you can’t escape your fate. There might be a certain Greek tragedy element to this, but hair loss, like any form of loss, is somewhat inevitable.

It’s just that you choose how to deal with it.

The truth is, cutting off damaged hair has really helped me to see myself beyond who I’ve been. Hair is just hair, of course. But when facing the inevitable, it’s better to allow your body to make the changes it’s going to make. After all, by the time most men hit 50, they lose their hair anyway. Maybe sometimes it’s just better to go gentle into the good night, and to decline to rage against the dying light. Or maybe not. Who knows?

But for me, cutting off damaged hair has been eye-opening, and has allowed me to feel more like me. It’s a good feeling to know that you don’t regret a big decision about your body and your identity. But even if you do, it’s just hair, and damaged hair can always grow back.

how to grow a blog

Two Years of Blogging: How I’ve Learned to Grow a Blog into a Fun Hobby

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Marketing

Well, it’s that time again. I’ve officially been running this blog for two years, which is way more than I imagined I would when I started it. When I first started writing, I had no idea how to grow a blog, and would mostly just use Facebook groups, Reddit, Stumbleupon and other types of social media. I still do that, of course. But after one year of blogging, where I got a little bit too emotionally invested in the size of my readership, I took my second year of blogging to step back and actually enjoy learning how to grow a blog.

In my first year, I wrote around 60 posts, and got approximately 26.5k readers. That’s a lot of readers for a personal blog where I write about whatever I feel like, but it was also a lot of work to maintain. That’s an average of 5 posts a month, which is a little more than my schedule (or inclination) allows for now. This year, I took a step back and optimized my blog for search a bit more. Given that I work as an SEO manager, this wasn’t fundamentally difficult, and I did some link building as well as some keyword research and historical optimizations on posts in order for them to get better traffic.

With those efforts, I’m happy to report that my blog traffic this year was 22.1k readers, but on the basis of 38 posts, an average of 2-3 posts a month and significantly less than I wrote last year. That’s ok though, because those posts, on average, bring in more traffic than a lot of my posts did last year. In essence, it’s less effort on my part for a comparatively similar results, and allows me to pursue other things with my writing outside of this blog.

It’s kind of a cool feeling to see tangible results when running a blog for two years, though. While my goal is not to be a full time blogger, or anything resembling it, it’s really great to see that people are actually reading what I’m writing, if for no other reason that they find it interesting. But when learning growing a blog, being interesting is just not enough. You need to make your blog discoverable, and as a nascent blog, organic search is one of the best ways to do it.

I flirted for a while with branding my blog, but ultimately decided that blogging is just a fun hobby for me. I enjoy keeping it up, and the volume of readers are much less important to me than they used to be. Emotionally, I’m not tied to the success of my blog at all, but rather see it as a way to creatively communicate my thoughts and ideas on topics that interest me.

In learning how to grow a blog, I feel like I’ve learned how to grow as a writer. After two years of running this blog,  I’ve learned a lot about myself as a writer and have been able to share that with everyone reading. I’m still working on my book — it will be out this October, but writing for my blog gives me a different kind of satisfaction.

In running this blog, I’ve learned how to better promote myself, and how to maintain a regular writing schedule at least a couple of times a month, I’ve also learned to redefine my life from a struggling aspiring journalist to someone who has a day job in a related field and writes. Keeping up a blog for the last two years has really helped me do that, and allowed me to use my skills in SEO to help draw readers to my work.

When I publish more and bigger things, that skill set will be really important. But in learning how to grow a blog, I’ve been able to just take things less seriously, and really enjoy the journey.

After all, isn’t that the point of blogging?

how to enjoy video games again

Learning How to Enjoy Video Games Again

Posted 8 CommentsPosted in Culture, Video Games

It’s been a while since I claimed I’d be writing more about games again. The truth is, I’ve been busy moving and socializing lately, as well as working on my book, so I haven’t been doing as much gaming or blogging. That being said, gaming a bit less, and a bit more intensely, has allowed me to learn how to enjoy video games again. Now that I’m moved into my apartment, and started to feel a little less anxiety about the pressures and responsibilities of having fixed expenses and a fixed life, I’ve been taking the time to learn how to enjoy video games again.

The first thing is actually having all of my systems (including my gaming PC) in one place. I can hop on a quick game of Overwatch at any time, and not feel the emotional investment in it that I used to. I don’t play to win anymore; I play to have fun. But more importantly, I’ve been able to go back to my roots as a gamer, playing the types of games, like Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey and Super Smash Bros Ultimate, that I typically have associated with gaming. For me to learn how to enjoy video games again, I’ve learned to not care about the outcome, and to just enjoy the overall experience more.

Winning, or even just feeling like you’re the best among the people you know, was always important to me when growing up. When playing the original Mario Party, I was so cutthroat that I talked my babysitter into not buying the Star once. But since gamers have decided they are an oppressed ideological group, I’ve shied away from the experience a bit. When traveling, I wasn’t gaming as much, and not having access to my consoles and gaming PC made gaming get lost in the shuffle a bit.

That’s not to say gaming is inherently toxic. It’s a great hobby, but it’s just that – a hobby. It’s an identity, but not one that needs to come with any sort of baggage. The point of games is to play, but the point of video games is to experience. Video games are not just one for competition – it’s one where you can immerse yourself in new worlds, and experience stories in a way that no other medium can muster.

Even online games have their own narrative. When you learn to enjoy video games again, you’re learning that that narrative supersedes competitive play. It’s not just about your kill-death ratio, or the feats you can perform with your technical skill. It’s about what happens. If you’re playing Overwatch, for example, and a you break your team out of the gridlock of a stalled cart with a combination of luck and strategy, then that’s a narrative you’re creating right there.

Learn How to Enjoy Video Games Again with Friends

how to enjoy video games again

There’s no ‘I’ in video games (except for, you know, that one ‘I’). But the experience of playing video games is not done in a vacuum. Even if you’re playing a single-player narrative based game, you are a part of a broader culture conversation about that particular game. Nobody plays Dark Souls thinking they are going to have an easy time, or plays The Witcher 3 without expecting a masterpiece. Even if you’re not physically playing with your friends, your experience with the game is a part of your relationship with them — that is if you’re playing the same games. 

To learn how to enjoy games again, you need people to enjoy it with people you like spending time with. It’s not just a matter of queuing up a six stack in order to dominate in Overwatch. It’s enjoying the experience of playing with, or adjacent to the people in your life. Not everyone who games has friends like this, of course. But for me, having close friends who love the games I love has really helped me to immerse myself back into gaming.

To learn how to enjoy video games again, I’ve found that I needed to let go of some of my anger.  Even though Yoda didn’t help Anakin avoid the Dark Side, he was still right.

You need to train yourself to let go and enjoy the game again.

We Finally Moved Into Our Apartment — It’s Been an Amazing Decision For Us

Posted 1 CommentPosted in Culture, Travel

Well, we finally did it. We stopped traveling (somewhat) and finally moved to NYC. We moved into an apartment for the first time, at least one in the United States, and more importantly, somewhere I actually want to be in the United States. I’ve had anxiety about getting an apartment for a long time, but ultimately, most of my fears haven’t come to pass. Sure, the consistent fear of not being able to maintain the life we’ve built will always be there, but I think that moving to NYC is more than worth the trade-off.

Our life is so good here. I don’t mean that in a temporal sense; we live within our means, and I don’t feel the need to spend more than I have or take on more than I need. But I do love having a life, being in a consistent space, falling back into established relationships that were always there (even when we were gone), and starting to build a routine. Having a regular pattern of thought, I’m hoping, will help me to focus more on my writing and feel less depressed about it, to change the way it impacts me.

That sounds a little pretentious (and probably is) but not travelling and having this apartment is, I think, the best decision we’ve made in a long time. It will allow us to focus on being us, moreso than anything. Being here, we don’t have to try to be anyone except for ourselves, we don’t have to set expectations of who we are and what we need to do be doing. If anything, it’s just the opposite. We finally have the freedom to work more on the things that matter to us, spend time with people that matter to us, and, most importantly, feel that we impact our little corner of the universe, even if it isn’t global.

We haven’t been everywhere, but we’ve traveled a ton, and being a world traveler is something that has just become a part of my identity. Like being Jewish, or being a writer, or being from Long Island, that aspect of who I am is compartmentalized, but also omnipresent. It’s not something I ever don’t think about; it’s just who I am.

But I think, at least for the foreseeable future, slowing down and really focusing on what we want our lives to look like, what direction we want to be heading in, is the most important thing. Moving into an apartment for the first time was a big step for us, but one I’m ultimately really proud and happy that we were able to take.

The world will always be there. But our impact on it won’t. And while we can’t change the world, we can discover it more, be more aware of the circumstances that make it the way it is.

When we went to India, we saw rampant poverty in a way that I had never seen before, even in the rest of Asia. It was hard to see sometimes, and in ways it felt like a physical assault on my senses. But there’s also hope there, there’s relationships people build with each other, the impact they make on each other’s lives. One of the greatest things of moving back to New York is getting to experience that for the first time in a longtime, to really feel the relationships in my life impact me in a very real and very personal way.

And for that, it’s all worth it.