My Loves: January 2018

Hey there,

It's a beautifully chilly Tuesday afternoon, and I'm writing you with a laptop sitting on another, older laptop. My desk is cluttered with mugs, cups, wires, books, and more wires.

The year has officially begun. January 1st is a fake day. It takes at least twenty days for my brain (and my hand) to fully accept that we are no longer in 2017. It's 2018! It's here! We are here, together. I hope your year is going well, but if it isn't, please know that I am sorry. I don't know if I can help, but the least I can do is share a few things I've loved this month. Maybe you will love them too.


I've made it my goal for the year to play a new game a week. If possible, I'd like to finish the game in that week, but some games are much larger than others, so I'm not stressing if I can't finish a game that's supposed to take hundreds of hours to complete. So far, I've kept my promise to myself, and then some! According to my list, I've played about 35 games! That's like, a game a day!

I've actually written about quite a few games that I've enjoyed over at Paste, but here are some games I've played (some released this month, some not) that I haven't talked about before:

Shu: Shu is a platformer about the eponymous character's quest to save his village from encroaching doom. With help from different villagers, Shu can possess different abilities to help the trek across the world. I really loved the emphasis on community, and saving the world together. While the controls were a little frustrating at times, the game still had moments where I landed a jump or ran fast enough to evade death, and those moments felt very, very good.

Pan-Pan: Pan-Pan is frustratingly cute. Solving a puzzle felt so good, but getting stuck on one felt stressful. I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing. I'm fine with a game that isn't always happy-go-lucky or carefree. The small world in the game was so pretty and peaceful, that I didn't really worry about traversing over and over. There was a puzzle I had to look up, and honestly I don't feel bad about it. 

Everything Dies: I can't describe this work better than how it's described on its page: "'Everything Dies' is a 3-minute-long thing about the end of a world, because everything dies, even if it's made of 0s and 1s." One of my favorite games as a kid was a JumpStart 3rd Grade. It was a computer game where you played as Botley, a robot who's tasked with the ridiculous job of fixing history after a professor's daughter named Polly decides to change history to reflect the silly answers she placed on a test. I loved it, and I can't play it, because it's so old that none of my computers are compatible with it.* The computer I'm writing with right now doesn't even have a CD holder. Everything Dies really reminded me of the feeling I got when I finally found my copy of the game, tried to boot it up only to realize not only have I outgrown it, but technology has, too.

Little Legs: Bitsy games are my favorite. I love how different they are, how large or small they can be, how traditional or nontraditional they are. This Bitsy piece is a story about a snow-loving dog. When I play it, I feel like I'm listening to a friend while taking a little walk in the snow. It feels personal and friendly. It's a short breather away from the rustle and bustle of life. 

Rain: Rain has a coziness to it that is offset by how lonely it is. Even the title avoids the reality of what's happening in this tiny space. I don't want to say too much because I'd prefer you play it than hear me talk about, but know that it's a game I've replayed many times. It's a short look at a sad situation, and I kept returning, hoping I could make something right.  



I write poetry, but I haven't lately because of an unfortunate rut I've been in for a few months. I used to be able to write a poem a week, and now I can't even write a poem a month. I know one of my issues is that when I stopped writing, I stopped reading. Reading is so incredibly important when you write. Not only does reading poetry help my own poems, but it helps my prose. I start to experiment with my language and diction. It makes me a better writer. So, just like games, I'm reading a book a week. These are the books I've read this month:

The Book of Endings by Leslie Harrison

I borrowed this book from the library back in December, and it is now weeks late. I finished it early this month and I haven't had the heart to let it go. I really enjoyed this collection, and I plan on buying my own copy so I do not need to part with it.

What It Done To Us by Essy Stone

The language in these poems is so vibrant, so distinct. The narrative is tense and feels like a short quip. It's a collection I knew I would read again as soon as I finished it.

Electric Arches by Eve Ewing

So, I do this thing where I keep a book in the bathroom. While I'm going, I sit there and read a few poems. Electric Arches was my bathroom book, and every time I went in there I wound up sitting in there for way longer than I needed, just because I was reading this book. This book had me dreaming about my own childhood, the ways black girlhood can be so similar and also so different

Point Blank by Alan King

I went to a poetry reading in Baltimore and heard Alan perform a few of his poems, and I enjoyed his simple stories turned into large, complex narratives. I feel a kinship in how he writes about ordinary life. This isn't a perfect collection, but there are some poems in there that have inspired me to inspect my own writing, and play around with how I address the ordinary.



When I was a teen, my life revolved around the music I listened to. I had plenty of CD's, ITunes playlists, Limewire, Winamp, anything that could get me more music. Then, as I grew older, I somehow fell out of my love for sounds. I don't know why, or what happened, but I just stopped listening to music. Occasionally I'd pop in an old CD, or watch an old music video, but I wasn't listening to anything new. I worked hard not to fall into that mindset of "music has changed! There's no good music!" because that is absolutely false. I couldn't find my type of music because I wasn't looking. Thankfully, the music came looking for me.

Paramore's After Laughter

I've known of Paramore since their first hit "Misery Business". Boy, did I love and then loathe that song once it was played over and over. I always followed their career from a distance; I liked the little hits I'd hear, but never bought their albums. And then I heard "Hard Times," and I couldn't stop listening to it. The song was released when I, too, was stuck in a hard time. And it's upbeat musicality with its low lyrics really grabbed me. And then I heard "Told You So" and I instantly bought the album. I loved it. I'm sad they haven't really won any accolades for it, but I'm still so glad and thankful that they made it.

Superfruit's Future Friends

Superfruit is comprised by Scott Hoying and Mitch Grassi, two singers from the popular A Capella group, Pentatonix. This debut album is delicious. It's gorgeous. It's poppy and fun and low and dark. The first song I heard was "Guy. EXE" which is so fun and funky. My favorite song, "Bad 4 Us" is another one of those upbeat tempos with down lyrics that I seem to adore nowadays.


Well, that's it. It's a long list, and I'm happy about that. I want my loves to be miles long, and my year to be filled with happiness. I want to remember the end of each month as a good month. That doesn't mean I won't come across any hardships. I know something or someone will upset me, and I'll deal with those emotions. I'll "feel my feelings", as my partner says. But I also won't dwell on them longer than I have to. I hope my list of loves gives you a few things to listen, read, or play. I hope you find a few of your own loves, and feel free to share them with me!


* So, JumpStart 3rd Grade has a newer version that is compatible with Windows 8. I'm very happy about that. I might even go buy it and play (some of) it. But look at the new design for the case. The original is the left, new one on the right.

 Botley, are you okay? Polly, how old are you?

Botley, are you okay? Polly, how old are you?

Times, people, games, books, music, changes, or in this case ADVANCES.  





My Extremely Serious Game of The Year List

I wanted to take a stab at a Game of the Year list this year. I think gaming categories are a little too boring though, so I spiced up the categories for the people who don't particularly care about best sound design or best indie game. Maybe you're more interested in the best game to regret playing, or the best game to play while procrastinating. Well, if so, here ya go.

Best Game to Drain Your BatteryAnimal Crossing: Pocket Camp

This is wonderful game that will absolutely drain your battery quick so please bring a charger with you before you leave your home. Pocket Camp came out at a time where I felt emotionally drained, so it only makes sense that I’d fall in love with a game that drains batteries. It’s a bit of a simplified version of the main titles, and I’m completely okay with that. Having fewer bugs and fish to collect doesn’t bother me. And I actually enjoy building furniture for my camp. I like to think my mayor from New Leaf decided to take a camping trip and never came back, and when the animals finally discovered her hiding in the wilderness, they decided to tag along.

Best Game to Stress You Out: Bury Me, My Love

This game is stressful in a great way. Through text messages, you watch as your wife Nour travels from Syria to Europe in hopes of finding a better life for her and her husband. The game is moves in real time, so sometimes Nour will do something and not text back for hours. HOURS, I said. I checked my phone as if I were waiting for a text from a real person. Every decision you make is bad. Not necessarily game over bad, but bad to the point where it’s hard to pick an option that feels right. It took me a lot of playthroughs before finding a winning path. Unfortunately, when you start over you can’t skip what you’ve already seen, so it gets a bit repetitive. But it’s still a powerful game and I highly recommend it for anyone looking to turn your hair gray.

Best Game That Burns Me - ARMS

"What a dumb name," I thought, as I played my 300th hour of the game I so desperately love and hate. I can only play this game for about an hour or two before I get so pissed that I need to take a break. It's a fighting game, and sometimes the players you face simply want to win. They don't care about strategy or tact. They want an easy win, and that's infuriating! Getting punched in a corner over and over is not fun! Having a character regenerate their health while you can't get a punch in is maddening! I hate this game! I've played ARMS for three hundred and fifteen hours and counting! 

Best Game I Want to Stop Hearing AboutOverwatch

Listen, I’m sure Overwatch is great, but I really can’t be bothered with this game. I don’t care about the characters, their shorts, their shirts, their shoes, or their service. I'm happy to see some people really connect with some of the characters. But, I don't know, I just don't see the appeal in the game to be honest. What's the point in all the story when the game is just to beat each other up? 

Best Game I Keep Meaning to Play - Dishonored: Death of the Outsider

I really enjoyed the first Dishonored. I thought the story was actually good! It fell into a few tropes, but honestly I was okay with it because of the gameplay. Yet, despite my love for the first title, I still haven’t played Dishonored 2, or Death of the Outsider. Sometimes there are games you can’t quite find a time to play, even if you’re excited for them. That’s what happened with me and the Dishonored franchise. Oops.

Best Game to Play and Then Regret Playing - Yooka-Laylee

Listen, I want more 3D platformers. I don’t think the form should be bound to the past  with games like Banjo-Kazooie or Spyro the Dragon. In fact, they’re not dead. I know I’m supposed to be talking about Yooka-Laylee, but let me just tell you that Skylanders is actually a fun 3D platforming collect-a-thon. It would have gotten more attention if it didn’t require expensive figures to collect everything. But anyway, Yooka-Laylee is a bad game. I do know that the developers have made some upgrades to fix the things that really made the game bad, like extremely slow text speed and unskippable cutscenes, but even then, I just don’t think the game is that fun as a whole. It relies so heavily on nostalgia that it forgets it's not the 90's anymore.   

Best Game to Read - Seedship

Seedship is SO good. I know I’ve mentioned it once or twice on Twitter, but please go play it. It’s a great look at the ways Twine can do some really cool things with a simple text-based design. Seedship is all about finding a habitable planet for the few humans who survived after Earth was destroyed. You control their ship, an AI meant to think like a human, to find a new planet for the humans to call home. There's a lot to maintain while looking for a new planets, like making sure the humans don't die, or that your scientific data isn't destroyed. There's a lot to it that my own text cannot adequately explain, so play Seedship instead of reading this. It’s a great Twine game that really proves the power of text is a real thing.

Best Game to Play While Procrastinating - Tiny Heist

Tiny Heist is the game I played when my brain needed some downtime from thinking. I pop in a CD to listen to while playing and bam I’m zoning out and forgetting about all the things I’m supposed to be doing. In the game, you play as a little thief bent on collecting as much as possible in a 15-floor building. Each floor has more challenges you must avoid to get to the next floor. The interesting thing is that no one moves until you move. If you’re still, the enemies are still, even if they spot you. So you can strategize as to where you’re going or how you’ll attack each enemy. I played a lot of it, and while it doesn’t have a counter to show how many players I put into it, I’m sure it’s somewhere in the hundreds.

To be honest, I didn’t play a lot of games this year. There are so many games I bookmarked that I meant to return to but never did. My year had a lot of self-doubt and lack of motivation. I still don’t think I’m a good writer, though I’m working to change that. Writing about games is very stressful. Who knew? Twitter doesn’t help. The U.S. is in shambles. I got married this week. This is how my life has been this year. It was a roller-coaster with no straight track, a sandwich that tasted great but had a horrible aftertaste. I played a lot of games that I already knew I loved as a way to stay in my comfort zone. But I’m happy that there were a few games that I did decide to try, because there really were some absolutely wonderful games this year. Hopefully I’ll play more next year, and I can continue to make this Extremely Serious GOTY list next time.