Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Thinking about iOS: Part 1

Random pictures from my life go here.
Back in the Fall of 2009, I was living in Japan, theoretically to study Japanese but functionally to set my life in order and get some direction. Looking back on the experience, though these 12 months of my life were by all merit the best I've had, I wouldn't say now that I used my full potential in these months. Perhaps it is no mistake that it was at this time that I purchased my first Apple device, my iPod Touch (3rd gen) and was introduced to the biggest time waster of them all: iOS gaming.

Honestly, to me, calling iOS gaming a time waster isn't negative, despite the connotation. When you first get an iPod Touch or iPhone and start downloading games, you start to notice the little places in your life you never knew where there before as game-time possibilities. Not to keep steering my writing topics toward bodily issues, but when it is time to go to the bathroom there is no dearer friend than my iPod Touch. With my iPod Touch, I really started to understand the appeal of mobile gaming: though I have owned every major portable console since the original Game Boy, they have never been things that I have really brought outside of the house, excepting long car/plane rides.

This was my appeal at the time that iOS gaming really took off. Abroad, in another land, with no form of personal transportation and lots of time to waste at a very remote University. I imagine that others in the general population also found the appeal, because the market as grown ridiculously big. And I can understand why. The first game I played for any great length was Doodle Jump, a simple but addictive jumping game (My top score - 60,000). This game seemed right at home when purchased for $1, but the next game I really got into was developer PopCap's Plants vs Zombies, where I simultaneously learned the addictive and rewarding nature of the 'Tower Defense' genre. I believe after blowing about 50 hours into an experience I only paid $3 for, I began to realize the value in gaming on iOS devices.

In the 3 years since those first discoveries, my interest in iOS gaming remained, but my wallet remained mostly closed. I made the occasional purchase, and even found some games that I really love. The Cut the Rope games and Where's My Water? games remain some of my favorite one-screen puzzle genre hits, and are crazy popular for a reason. I downloaded the Angry Birds games like everyone else, but never found them to carry my attention for very long, as I always eventually got frustrated by their extremely vague scoring system. I think Zero Punctuation's Yahtzee said it best, "On some levels I can use just one bird to destroy all the piggies, tear down the building and erect a monument in memory of my fallen comrades with the debris and the game still gives me only one star. What the fuck do I have to do to impress you Angry Birds...?"

So, if you couldn't already tell by the games I mentioned, I really just coasted the top of the App Store charts, taking real notice of the games that really took off because I knew they would have something of some quality to offer me. However, it wasn't until I started listening to the TouchArcade.com podcast that my interest in iOS gaming really started to grow. I think I'll write someday about all of the podcasts I listen to and how they influence my thoughts and what media I've seen, but for now I'll just say that this podcast is one of the best ones out there: the cast is entertaining and insightful, without being annoying. This was my beginnings into iOS gaming, and because of the TouchArcade podcast, I've recently stepped up my interest in it quite a bit. I'll write some more about the next step I've recently taken in this pursuit next time, as well as some great/amazing apps I've found and can recommend you try out.

Story-time over!


Currently Playing: Fez (X360), Skyrim (PC), and iOS stuff I'll tell you about next time~


Thursday, October 4, 2012

I'm back! Let's talk about my intestines.

I missed me too!

Do you ever have something eating away in the back of your mind, that you keep putting off extensively?  Did you ever put it off for 7 months?  Probably?  Well that thing for me is this site.

So, now that I have the hankering to write again let me reintroduce myself... again.

I started this blog on the last stretch of my senior year of college with the intent to write once a week about video games for an entire year.  I made it a good 17 weeks, got incredibly disgusted at the poor quality of my written work, and then swiftly ended that project.  However, I never lost my desire to write or to pursue the path of writing - I just had to grow up a bit more, learn that failure is a part of progress, and continue to push through the challenges until I become a great writer.  Is now that time?  Let's find out together.

So, now that I've got that out of the way I'd like to talk to you about the time my intestines fell into my scrotum.  Too personal?  Even for myself, maybe, but I'm going to tell you about it anyway because I hope you may find it funny/enlightening.  

It is my sincere desire, now that I'm writing for this blog once more, to write about more than just video games because I have a lot more going in my life than that.  In fact, until Tuesday last week I had a little problem going for the last several months that I may have no more, and naturally it has been on my mind a lot.  

You may (but probably not) remember that I wrote a little bit about my workout program while I was living in Taiwan.  Well, let me tell you the part of that story which swiftly ended that.  I had been going to my gym regularly in Tainan City, and I loved it: my status as a foreigner meant that all of the Taiwanese staff and other gym members regularly recognized me and we had a good relationship going.  Going to that gym was a place of rest and comfort, yet it was also a place of progress and improvement.  I was making great strides on my body, was developing and seeing muscles I had never seen before, and confidently I was working almost every major muscle group in my body - arms, chest, core, legs.  What I didn't count on was the poor condition of my non-child-bearing hips.  
So jealous.
You see, on the inside of your legs are these little muscle groups which work to pull your thighs inward, or push outward - these are the adductor and abductor muscles, respectively.  Any dumb schmuck in a foreign gym filled with trainers who don't speak the same language as that gym patron could step up to a adductor-training weight machine and think, "Wow, these muscles I have are so strong I don't even have to start at a low weight, I can do half the bar already!  I must have naturally strong legs.  I'm also really handsome, and not at all a dumbass."

Do I need to continue?  In a hurry, quite suddenly I felt the sharpest of pains when I tried to run one day.  I took a rest, and sure enough, the next gym day came and once again I couldn't run without great pain.  Then, I realized I couldn't lift weights with my right shoulder muscle without great pain.  Then, I realized I couldn't lift my arm heigher than my head without great pain.

"Okay, so I hurt myself.  This muscle is in my abdomen so it affects my entire body performance.  Shit.  Oh well, I guess I'll just wait for it to heal and try not to get fat again in the meantime."  However, this pain didn't go away.  A few months later, after finishing my time in Taiwan and returning to the United States, I got sick.  Not bad sick, just a common cold.  But, the problem was that this made me cough, a lot.  I didn't think much of it, other than each cough was incredibly painful, but when those hurt muscles were given this added strain, it led to a whole other issue I could never have expected.

When it was all over, and my coughing had subsided, I noticed a lump where that muscle had been.  This lump extended from that spot on the front of my pelvis and extended, like a curious puppy making his way around my privates, from that pubic zone right into the warm open space that was my scrotal sack, pushing his buddy (my right testicle) out of position like an overweight man hanging over his seat on an airplane.  

"Hey!  What the fuck is going on?  Get out of there!"  Next, I noticed, if I applied some soft pressure this lump would subside, almost as if I was pushing some kind of foreign passenger back into the recesses of my abdomen.  "Hmm, I must just be super good at relaxing that muscle back down.  There is no way at all that this lump I feel that falls out of place is my FUCKING small intestine now poking out of me like a slimy tapeworm."  
I bet you really wanted to see this today.

Well turns out it was.  Now you know what it is like to discover you have an inguinal hernia.  For the next couple weeks after I realized what was going on with my body, I soon found out what happens when you work on your feet for 60 hours a week with an open hernia.  Bad things.  Nothing life threatening, just make your life shitty-threatening.

Last Tuesday I had the surgery to fix my hernia, and have been out of work for the last week because of it.  What do you do when you're out of work for a whole week?  Well, if you're me, you watch a hell of a lot of Dexter and play a lot of games.  Ironically, the only console game I played at all was The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, a game which I wrote about during my last period of writing.  But, I don't intend to write about that game again (most likely).  Instead, I have a big urge to talk about the system which is new to me (I only bought it about 3 weeks ago), but took up the majority of my time while I was healing.  So, next time, I want to talk about iPad gaming!  

Til next time~