Thursday, August 27, 2009

So much yay right now!

Well, after a crazy busy summer, the kids are back in school, the remodeling is (somewhat) done, and I'm getting back into a routine. (Don't worry, this isn't turning into a non-gaming blog, I promise). It feels great to be settled in again, as much as a mom ever gets settled in. My evenings still seem to be crazy, but I'm used to that. I really enjoy my mornings and daytimes. Once the flurry of getting kids fed and off to school is over, my days fall into a regular routine, and I love that so much. (See? Yay!)

Of course, that routine includes indulging in some uninterrupted gaming time. Love it. Earlier this week I took a break to hang out with Shawn again on Massively Speaking, where I got to squee my little fangirl heart out about Guild Wars 2. I've come down from my initial omgomgomgomgGW2 excitement, but I'm still just loving every piece of information they have given us. Noon in Cologne is 5 AM for me, and I was out of bed at 4:50, watching the live feed, and logged into Skype with an Austrian friend who had kindly agreed to translate for me. The fan excitement was so much fun to watch, I loved it. And hey? If someone could just hook me up with one of those tshirts? That'd be great, thanks. I loved those, and wanted to be in that crowd really badly.

While you're at it, someone needs to have a telethon or something, and sponsor my trip to PAX. I want NCSoft swag!! I'd love to win that art book - given what we've seen so far, you just know it's going to be stunning. I was glad to hear it would be for sale at a later date. If you're heading to PAX, a recap would be more than welcome.

Lunchtime looms, but more squeeing is on the way.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Grind? Yes please!

I spent nearly an hour yesterday morning playing Guild Wars with my son. He's been playing for less than a month, and is still running around pre-searing at level 8, so it's all very new to him.

I keep a pre character on my main account for Nicholas Sandford, since the party points he gives out help my title hunt. But every time I head over there, I seem to burn out after five minutes. Kill a level one monster in under two seconds. Hope it drops whatever Nicholas is asking for. Kill another one. Rinse, repeat, snooze. I get so bored I just can't do it anymore.

Playing with my son made it a completely different experience. It's all still a challenge to him. He's been asking me over and over and over to go kill some Charr, mom! Bad mommy moment here - I put him off for quite a while because I couldn't bear the thought of staying in pre for more than ten minutes. Finally, the other day, I decided to suck it up, and finally play with the poor kid.

We crossed the wall with my level 9 elementalist and his level 8 ranger and went to find the Charr. And I was so surprised to find myself having a blast. We killed, and were killed (a lot) for almost an hour until we'd killed off nearly everything in the zone. There was a lot of yelling "Ahhhh! runrunrunrunrun! Aaghh, I'm dead!", and laughing like crazy. My son reached level 9 in the middle of it all and was delighted.

He is off to day camp today, but before he left he said "Mom, can we kill more Charr when I get home tonight?" I can't wait.

Sometimes looking at the old stuff through new eyes leads to the most fun you can have.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wow, I stink!

My poor blog. She has suffered from a combination of my super busy schedule (the kids are home from school for the summer and we're still mired in remodeling hell), and my suffering from a fit of "Oh shush, nobody wants to hear what you have to say!"

I do have a lot to say, though, so I'm going to make the effort to sit down every morning and bang out some of my thoughts. It's fun and relaxing when I force myself to stop, breathe, and write for a bit.

We're currently working on putting our house back together after remodeling the kids rooms, and doing the decorating in their bedrooms. Mine and Kev's room has turned into a landfill of sorts for everything that has been displaced in the rest of the house. Every time I dig something out of the pile, or install a new item in a bedroom or closet, I feel like I should get some kind of scavenging or crafting points. I'm getting better at it, I suppose that's what that is. I'm levelling up!

Right, gaming. My Guild Wars guild is turning four, and I organized a celebration beginning July 14th and wrapping up on August 1st with an in game party. I've had a ton of fun posting games in the forum and planning in game events, and as always, watching the reaction and behavior of people during this time fascinates me.

It's been a chance for people to show off their best sides - people flocked to donate in game items, and not just their junk. Nice things that I am excited to give away, and so many things that I had to create a gift mule to handle it all. My guild leader and another officer came up with some wonderful (and not cheap - I was amazed at their generosity) real world prizes to hand out, including a pretty pricey headset that I am dying to win. People have stepped in to help me out when real life keeps me too busy to keep up with some games most days. Seeing how generous people can be with their time and their money - both real and virtual - makes me smile.

There is the other side too - those people who set out to denigrate it for some reason. In a way, it makes me smile because it's a tiny fraction of the amount of good that I've seen. I had an incident the other day where someone got my character name from the forums, not hard to do at all. This person was a stranger to me, but came after me in game, whispering for almost two hours that I was a "fagget" (at least he gave me a chuckle with the spelling, and the assumption that I was a male.) and various other forms of verbal abuse. That type of person is a large part of the gaming community, and I notice that it's much more prevalant in the summer when school is out. I tend to take the negativity with a grain of salt because it speaks more to what kind of a person they are, than what kind of person I am.

I also tend to assume that these people are young, and mom/dad isn't keeping a close enough eye on what is happening on their child's computer. They have too much keyboard courage and too little supervision. It serves a bit to keep me vigilant on what's going on with my own kids.

Hm, parental supervision on teh interwebz. More to ponder on tomorrow morning. For now, it's time to do some of the work that I'm getting paid for. Off I go!

Sunday, June 28, 2009


A couple of remodeling projects have been kicking my butt lately, sorry for the lack of updates. It's beginning to settle down a bit around here. There is still a LOT to do, but the big push is done for now.

I've been thinking about this internet addiction thing quite a bit while working, though. I just don't think there is any way or reason to sugar coat it - whether it is officially recognized or named at this point, it's a real thing. Just like any tool or good thing, it's easy to abuse.

I really do think it's a bit different than the kind of addiction that we've grown up knowing about. If someone is addicted to drugs or alcohol, the commonly accepted solution is to stop, and never start down that path again. You can not have another drop of alcohol again, ever.

That's not really practical in this case, though. Sure, you can unplug from the internet completely, but I've never been a fan of throwing the baby out with the bath water. A better solution in my eyes here is a strong self discipline. I've taken to deciding what I want to do before I sit down, and making note of what needs to be done around the house. I make sure both of those things get done. If I just want some random playtime, I'll play for a short bit, then get up and do things around the house in between game tasks. (Since logging on this morning, I've done a couple loads of laundry, served breakfast, done some things with the kids, and cleaned the kitchen.) There are also a million tools out there, free and otherwise, to give you a hand. Look into them!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Is internet addiction even a thing?

I read a recent article on discussing how moms are more at risk for internet addiction. It really fascinated me, and I talked about it with another gamer mommy. Her response? "Pfft, yeah, I'm definitely addicted."

[shrug] Hey, she said it first, but I'll hop on her bandwagon and say "me too." Internet outage? Grrr!! Fix it, and fix it NOW. I need to check my email, and look at the weather, and play MMOs, and talk to my friends, and read articles on that tell me I'm on the internet too much! (Is it weird to anyone but me that an article like that is on...the internet?)

However, today I stumbled across this article saying that internet addiction technically isn't even a real thing yet, and that heavy internet use is a normal part of life these days.

I'm really wavering on this. I'm on the computer WAY too much. I make a conscious effort to limit my time, take care of my responsiblilites, and maintain my real life at a normal, healthy level. But the fact that I have to consciously make an effort to do this probably means that the addiction label applies to me. (Probably? As my friend said, "pfft".)

On the other hand, the computer is my mp3 player, TV, and newspaper all rolled into one. My main hobby, gaming, lives in the computer. Many times it is also my "phone". I had a nice chat yesterday with a real life friend via Facebook. We probably *could* have had a phone conversation, but it would have been hard. She was helping her daughter pack for a trip and I was at work. Our phone conversation would have been interrupted constantly. Facebook chat? We got to hold our conversation just as well, back and forth to the computer in between dealing with our other responsibilities.

When our conversation ended, I felt good. I'd gotten to touch base with my friend, and we spent a bit of time encouraging one another - real life is stressful for both of us this week. I felt a bit calmer and more relaxed after that, whereas a phone call would have left me a bit tense and wishing I'd had time to talk to her without constant "Hang on again. No, I said pack your GREEN shirt! Sorry, what were you saying?"

In many ways, the internet is a tool well suited to the breakneck pace most moms (and most everybody) keep these days. But too much of a good thing and all that.

How much is too much, and why do so many of us have such a hard time deciding that and calling a halt? Lots to talk about, and I'm anxious to explore this more over the next week or two. More to come...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Spike on 1. ZOMG nub I said spike on 1!!11! What are you, a little kid?

The other day, I read a post from a parent whose children play Guild Wars. His youngest child, eight years old, has grown bored with PvE and has begun experimenting with PvP a bit. He and his wife were discussing, and unsure if they should allow him or not. Neither of them could join him in this venture, as they did not have access to some of the areas that their son had access to.
(To clarify if you are not familiar: PvE is Player vs. Environment. You fight against the game itself, and your opponents are a computer AI. PvP is Player vs. Player. It's pretty much what it sounds like - your opponents are other players.)

I was happy to see that the discussion remained friendly and helpful, but the topic touched a nerve with me because this is a balancing act that Kev and I work to maintain every time our daughter logs into the game.

I have to say first and foremost that I've always felt that mothers are hard enough on ourselves without making it worse by being hard on each other. Tearing one another down over the way we choose to parent is *never* good. It helps no one. At the risk of sounding preachy, we need to be extending our hands to pull one another up, not to point a judgemental finger. So I try hard not to judge other mothers for their choices. (That's not to say I never fall into that trap. I do my best. Sometimes I screw it up.)

I think parenting decisions in game aren't really any different than parenting decisions anywhere else: Look at the facts of a situation, consider possible outcomes, think of how comfortable you feel with what your child will encounter, consider your child's personality (How will s/he deal with these possible scenarios?), discuss it with your child if s/he's old enough, and make the call. Of course, you should probably discuss all this with whoever else is responsible for raising the child, but I would hope that is a given.

Kev and I are fairly conservative, and if anything, we lean toward the overprotective side. We feel that we *need* to know exactly what our three children are doing on the internet. What they are seeing, who they are talking to, what they are sharing with the world. Both computers are in our family room, visible to everyone, and we know what's going on with them. In the gaming world, we are equally as conservative. Only our daughter plays at the moment, but when our son begins playing, he'll have the same rules: all chats remain off: local, guild, alliance, and trade. No voice communication software. You play set to offline so people can not whisper you. You only form groups with mom and dad, no playing with others.

As time has passed and she's grown older, we've adapted and modified some of those rules to reflect that. She is allowed to join groups sometimes, playing with people that Kev and I feel comfortable with her interacting with, as long as one of us is also in the group to keep an eye out. Our gaming friends know who she is and how old she is, and the ones we feel comfortable with have always been very respectful of that in her presence.

PvP, in my eyes, is an arena that my kids won't be entering. The gaming community can be a bit...well, you know. If one of my children enters a PvP arena of any kind, within 60 seconds she will see something that I have no desire for her to see at this point in time. Within 90 seconds, she would see something that I have no desire for her to see, and it would be aimed at her. That is just how PvP works 95% of the time, particularly random PvP.

The things that Kev and I are comfortable with, and our child's personality, do not mesh well with the possible outcomes of letting her join any kind of group of random strangers to play with. That is what works for us, and what is best for our child. But kids aren't math problems. You can't say "x element" + "y element" x "z element" will equal a happy, healthy, well adjusted child every time. The wonderful and difficult thing about kids is that each one is unique and no equation works just right for all of them. My solutions may not work for you, but it doesn't make you wrong, or a bad parent.

Find your equation, work it out, have your kid equip her weapon, and have some fun.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Juggling Mom.

I love GW2 for a living. I wife, mom, dance, game, garden, read. Those are all verbs. Wouldn't say no to a cocktail and a nap.