Uncharted & Reflective Gaming

Spoilers reside below for Uncharted 4 – continue reading only if you’ve completed the game, or really don’t care 🙂

I recently had the good fortune to play the latest, and final, installments in two of my most loved gaming series: Dark Souls III and Uncharted 4. Aside from the awesome fun of playing them (and you should too if you have even a passing interest in gaming) they both mark an end, and a new beginning.

Each game is an ending. In Uncharted particularly there’s a very definite finality about it. Looking back at each series as a whole the journey has been a wonderful one, starting with shock, awe, love and finishing with reverence, seriousness and again, love. I don’t want to get into the games and the stories themselves but I do want to illustrate a couple of things.

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Praise the sun!

These series have ended now. Just as a series of episodes in my life ends, and a wonderful new one readies itself to begin. I grew up, went to Uni, met a wonderful lady, got engaged and then married. Now all of that’s ended (although let me be clear, many of those things continue in perpetuity, like marriage!) and we look to the next series, or act. Parenthood. It’s kinda cool that these games I so dearly love would end now too, freeing me from their grasp to enable complete focus on the real life.*

What’s more important for this post is the end of Uncharted. After the main events of the game we jump forward in time. We see a new character, a girl aged around 12, who is clearly the daughter of Nathan and Elena Drake, the couple who we’ve adventured with for the past 9 years. I have always been one for a good story, and will always feel the emotional hooks if done well, regardless of the subject matter. But here, seeing a young couple older, with child in tow? It kinda hit me hard. In a good way. This will hopefully be us someday. The way I viewed this scene with my current view of the world, versus how I would perhaps have seen it a year ago? Night and day difference.

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Nathan & Elena Drake

I haven’t told my wife about the ending of the game. I wanted her to read it here first. That might seem odd but I’m a guy and saying this kinda stuff is a little bit out of my comfort zone. Writing this blog was a way to say stuff that needed to be said without necessarily having to say it. So there you go wifey, the ending of Uncharted 4 was awesome but probably not for the reason you might have expected I’d give. Thank-you Naughty Dog.

* – Note I will absolutely continue playing games BUT I recognise a certain new something has to creep above games in the priority list 😀

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What a crazy week!

So the past 7 days or so have been manic. I cam home from my work trip to Germany and watched Liverpool draw away against Borussia Dortmund. The weekend came and went as you might expect it to (read: chores, exercise and football). Then it was our 12 week scan.

This was good, and not so good. The good part – everything was completely as expected at this stage of pregnancy. This was awesome to hear. But we couldn’t do the Nuchal measurement and had been expecting that. So that left us feeling a bit down coming out of the scan. Sounds silly? Yes, in hindsight. But we’d gone in with expectations and these hadn’t been met. Given my wife’s age this was something we were very interested in.

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“You can’t fight in here – this is the war room!” Perhaps I needed one for my chat with my Mum

Now comes some of that referred to in an earlier post. My Mum had asked – nay, told me to let her know how it went straight away. So I did. I tried to explain it as we saw it. Turns out, after talking with her, my dad, and her again the next day, that they don’t care about what we hadn’t seen nor what it might tell us. They wanted to hear what we had seen – which was good news – and enjoy it. This whole palava got me into trouble with my folks (great – teenager again!) and got me down for a day or two.

Anyway. Got that sorted. Then Wednesday night we had managed to book ourselves a Harmony test. Another scan, some bloods drawn from my wife all with the aim of checking for the abnormalities the Nuchal test would have shown. I’ll have to detail both the Nuchal test and this in more detail in a coming post – educating potential fathers remember! At the same time my wife was experiencing some pain, and spotting.

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For some reason the name Anti-D just makes me think of Biohazard (mainly the game – or Resident Evil as it’s known outside Japan)

Thursday AM. My wife had called the midwife and we’d been advised to go to A&E. We spent the day at the hospital. Various assessments, scans and other tests. Two root causes for the pain and spotting. Both expected/normal things. An injection of Anti-D (spoiler: it hurts. So I hear) – again, to be explained in more detail soon – and then home, happy with the way the NHS looked after us and reassured that all was ok. Tired after a long day but happy as we got a bonus Nuchal test from the scan at A&E. This made us both happy.

Then we told our family. Our folks knew, but not my Aunt and Uncle, Brother nor sister-in-law. They do now. Surprise, happiness, shock and some level of expectedness / question as to why it took so long (various reasons other than choice thanks very much!) was the response. Regardless, it’s great they all know.

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What. A. Game.

And then, after a lovely dinner, I got to watch the return leg of the Liverpool vs. Dortmund European tie. A wonderful, but totally crazy (and entirely in-keeping) way to finish the 7 days or so. Phew.

Computer & Videogames

One of my main hobbies is computer gaming. I have played since I was a single-digit age and these days I even write reviews and stuff because I love games that much. There are certain games I adore and play a great deal. One of those, Dark Souls, is getting a sequel (well, second sequel) in April. I fully plan to approach this as if it were the last game I’ll get to truly experience for a very long time.

I see friends, family and colleagues tackle parenthood in different ways. In pretty much every case I don’t know the background, dynamics with partners and so on. As such it’s all pretty spurious evidence which stops me consciously applying it to our situation – which is for us to work out, and me to be realistic about. That way bonuses are welcomed and expectations are met.

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Clearly this game needs attention.

One colleague seems to play every game ever. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t finish many, but still. Another gets to play them on his (train-based dammit) commute or late at night. I get that – seems logical, at least once any child gets into a sleeping routine. Others grab what they can. I guess the age of the kids, and the life around them will impact everything too.

Anyway. I don’t think I’ll have to stop playing games. I do however know the way I play will change. Take Dark Souls. The first one. After starting it I left it for quite some time but when I came back to it my spare time was absorbed by this game and its world. I played for two to three months, as much time as I could. I played bits when coming home from work and the rest once my wife was asleep. I still made time for us to do things together. I would fully expect to apply similar principles here in the presence of a child, but for the game to take two, ten, one hundred times longer. I wouldn’t get sessions, I’d get moments. This is all fine.

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I wouldn’t do this. But it illustrates how well I’m approaching the situation in comparison, doesn’t it?

Granted when the child’s older this might change. It might not. I may have to wait 18+ years. We’ll see. The point is I recognise things will change. I can set myself up for that. I won’t be shocked and my wife hopefully won’t be disappointed as I won’t ask to play one more go when I really need to be reading a bedtime story. Priorities are different, already. This can be applied to anything I do today – or that my wife does, and indeed, what we do together. This is clear, obvious and frankly, not a problem. The way it should be.

I am going to look at the launch of Dark Souls III in April with desire though, and play it as if it is my last proper game for a significantly long time. When I can, at least!