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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The Reality of Pregnancy

So my wife is now 17 weeks pregnant. And you can tell. She’s really started to show in the past couple of weeks. To me it’s pretty cool, and shows things are progressing the way they should. I think she is the same, but she’s also surprised at how big she is right now.

It’s possible she’s also started to feel some kicks from the little one. It’s a little early for someone normally to feel this in their first pregnancy. But it does happen. This is also very cool. What’s a little off-putting for me is when my wife called it the Quickening. And yes, that is it’s widely-used term. It just made me think of the Highlander film series.

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The Quickening. The Highlander version.

We’re hoping to take a break somewhere in the UK for late May bank holiday weekend. This will be our holiday for the year, and also our last one before we become parents. It’s crazy to think about that. Later this year our lives will change massively, in a good way. After 17 years together and 6 of them married we’ll not be the only ones in this family and any holiday thereafter will have a very different focus.

I’m also seriously starting to think about the items we need to buy. Specifically travel systems and car seats. I have no idea what I’m doing. I do know if you ask for opinions everyone has a good one but I must remember that their choice was based on what they needed. They did the research and took the plunge. They then have a reference point from which to speak, but in the majority of cases no second reference point. In summary, take onboard the info but remember to use it to make a choice, not be the choice.

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This is me. So very true.

A Quarter Mile at a Time

Blimey. I’m broken. I’ve just finished watching Fast & Furious 7. Spoilers for that will follow, as well as for Armageddon. You’ll learn why. And yes, this is appropriate for a blog about becoming a Dad.

I love all the Fast & Furious films. I’ve just watched the 5th, 6th and now 7th around the Easter weekend. The 7th it turns out is one of the two films which make me – without fail – teary eyed since I became an adult. Just two films. I watch a lot of films. I love film. But just two make me shed tears.

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Paul Walker as Brian O’ Connor.

Fast & Furious 7 does it for two reasons, but really both are the same. Dom nearly dies and Letty explains she remembers everything. Marriage. Family. Then, of course, we say goodbye to Paul Walker. Family again. And fatherhood in the case of his character. Fatherhood is now truly what his character will be able to focus on.

In Armageddon Bruce Willis sacrifices himself for the world, but he does so for his daughter. He switches with his daughter’s one true love and fiancé. He dies to save the world and her world – she gets to live her life with her love.

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Harry Stamper on the front left. Hero. Godspeed.

I cannot cope with the end to either of these wonderful films (please note most people wouldn’t rate these as highly as I do but to me they’re 10/10, 5 stars and all the rest – stunningly good cinema, if not critical darlings of the film world). But now, each of these touches me differently. I’m gonna be a Dad. Family is different. The choice made by Bruce; the choice which will be made for Paul’s character, Brian. Wow.

I am wowed by what is to come. Wow = good 🙂

The West Wing & Fatherhood

Have any of you seen The West Wing? I have. My wife loves it, and so do I. We’re currently re-watching it and one of the episodes we saw tonight resonated with me as a father to be.

It was towards the start of season 5. President Bartlet’s daughter was missing, he had recused himself of the Presidency temporarily and the world was seemingly going to pot in and around America.

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Not read the article (it’s from 1993!) so I can’t comment on the sub, but Fatherhood is important.

But what got me was the tangential story-line whereby Toby Ziegler became a Father to twins. We saw him fall in love with his children. He didn’t know if he had the capacity to do that, but he did. He thought he was nervous because of that but no, it was because every father is nervous ahead of the birth of their child.

Actually, this narrative did more for me than I’d even realised watching it, and have now worked out when writing about it. Wherever you’re coming from as an expectant father the likelihood is you’ll be questioning how you’ll do it, knowing deep down you will, but how? And what and so on. In those few scenes Toby is that expectant father, the expectant father we all are. And he did it.

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I wonder if they do in the UK? No, really, I do. Now.

It gives strength that we all can. And for me, as a great fan of TV and cinema over the years, it works for me.

Grandparents Part One – Complete

So. My wife’s parents arrived for their weekend visit today. As they live some way away, and because my wife is still struggling with ‘Morning Sickness‘ we figured we’d take the opportunity to tell them we’re pregnant, despite the fact we’re not past the all-important 12 weeks’ mark yet. I think it went rather well.

My wife got home and we started taliing about food and she told them they were being promoted to grandparents. Now, they’re old hands at this given the three grandkids they have from my sister-in-law. But still, I could see Grandad smiling and Grandma was all effusive, huggy and clearly excited – for her, and for us. It was cool.

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Eeyore’s missing. Maybe he’s on his way?

We didn’t really touch on it much after that. Some comments regarding what and why we’re doing things to the house and so on. It was all good. Feels nice to share at last. But still early days, so not too much sharing for now.

Grandparents part two will be very different I suspect. If only what I call them when I post about that – they can’t be Grandad and Grandma too (although, honestly, these ones may get different names by the time it becomes relevant!!!).

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It’s not my wife but it is a pretty cool announcement method. Geeky, though.

Something Changed

Something Changed. Yes, it is a track off Pulp’s Britpop-era defining Different Class album but also a reality in my way of thinking today, and recently. You see, something has changed.

It was the UK’s budget today. I always listen keenly to estimate the impact it will have on mine and my wife’s life. Today I found myself adding another variable in there. Children.

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Children. The one on the right is an illustrated example

It’s not just today’s budget either. It’s everything. I hear about anything to do with education and my ears prick up whereas before they’ll have taken notice but only in passing. We were watching The West Wing tonight and Toby and Josh cooked up a plan to make US college tuition cheaper (tax relief). This got to me. It’s kinda awesome.

This is what it’s going to be like from now on, hopefully as all goes well. But frankly, whatever. I think my mind is in this mode now and there’s no off switch. It’s like I’ve gone to 11 because it’s one louder but I could only do so by getting a  new dial.

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They call me the Jackal

Well, here’s to it. However I must now go back and do some fantasy football theorising. I can’t totally change, after all.

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!

Man Bags, Man Crates and More

So, earlier in February a very good friend of mine became a Father. He lives halfway around the world though so I couldn’t just pop over with a spoon or whatever ekind of gift you’re meant to give to young ones – or their parents – on such occasions.

Given the predicament I looked online to see what I could get. I eventually sent something from a florists, comprising some gear, toys and if I recall correctly, flowers. This was after I spent some time trying to get him something specifically. Not sure why. Just seemed apt given I was at the time – as I am now – hoping we get to copy them, and as such I was perhaps looking for stuff for me, too.

Now, this was probably the best thing I could find but it only ships to the US which is a bit of a bummer. I didn’t really look at what’s in it until today but it just seemed, you know, cool.

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Man bags! For actual useful uses.

It sent me on a bit of a tangent too though. Man crates, loot crates and similar. Often looked at such things, never had one. They look like they could be awesome, but might be an utter waste of cash. And geeky – but that’s alright I am a geek. Not a nerd though, hell no.