A New Way of Writing (For Me)

Before I start this blog post properly, I just want to say that the presentation that I was anxious about doing last week went really well. I wasn’t as anxious about it as I expected, and when it came time to perform it in front of the rest of the class, I lost any anxiety that I did have. I felt like my delivery was clear, and I even managed to make some eye contact with the group without simply just reading from the script, which for me, is an accomplishment. I’m really happy with how my group did, and even the lecturer said how we met and exceeded her expectations of us after she put us last because “we would be the best”.

Anyway, enough of that, I’m now working on my second assignment, which is the first essay that I’ll have to produce. For the essay, we have to review 10 different texts and present their arguments in a logical way. We had a few different ones to choose from (we could also pick our own), and I chose to go with “Review the arguments about diversity in Star Trek”. I like Star Trek, but I’m not a Trekkie. I’m also aware of some of the diversity that it has been involved with, so it seemed – as Spock would say – the logical choice.

First of all, finding 10 different texts on the subject was harder than it sounded. I kept coming up with the same articles or publications, which was just infuriating. But I did, nevertheless, find them.

The next task (which I’ve just finished) was to read, annotate and make notes on said texts. I’ve not done any annotating since I was at college *cough* 18 years ago, aside from the bits and pieces that I’ve done for the course already, and of course what I’ve done when going over drafts of my own work, although annotating in an academic way is so far removed from that, it doesn’t deserve comparison. Overall I’ve found this stage fairly easy, though. I find that I’m pretty good at pulling out useful information from a given text, so that’s really come in handy when I’ve been highlighting bits and pieces.

Now I’ve done that; I have to see how they all relate to one another. Which ones agree or disagree with each other, what they’re all trying to say, and see which points I want to talk about and expand upon in my essay. This (I hope) will be relatively easy, but I’m comparing it to the next step; writing the damn essay.

From what I’ve learned so far in my foundation year, writing academically is extremely different to the way that I’m used to writing, and that, at the moment, is tripping me up and making me second guess my abilities. I’m used to just writing whatever pops into my head, with no real thought for structure (until going through drafts) or word count. This obviously has to change with academic writing. I’ve got to get my point across in a simple way possible, within the word count, while making it all make sense. It’s going to test my abilities as a writer and probably make me question the way that I’ll write in the future. I’ve already picked up a few different tips that will transfer over to my novel writing.

I have until December 10th to write my essay on the diversity in Star Trek, so I have a little time, but still not much. I’ll have to get cracking, but at the same time, I don’t want to rush it. It’s going to have to be a balance as I want to be able to do other things too.

We’ve really been thrown in at the deep end with this assignment, and I just hope I can swim.

Single Player or Multiplayer?

Video games have been around for a long time now and in that time they’ve evolved in many different ways. One noticeable difference is the prevalence of multiplayer modes or just flat out multiplayer games.

Back in the day when multiplayer meant you plugged two controllers into the console or if you were fancy and having a party, you’d have a multi-tap, and I was there for that. There’s something very nostalgic about your 14 inch TV screen being split in half and having to squint to see what was going on on your side. I feel like we’ve lost that now. It’s very rare that you get a game that does local split-screen or even on the same screen as is the case in many sidescrollers, these days they favour online multiplayer and that just doesn’t have the same appeal to me.

Don’t get me wrong, I have and do enjoy the odd online multiplayer. For example I spent years living in World of Warcraft, and even games like The Division and Destiny have good memories for me. But it’s just not the same.

For a start you don’t know most of the players that you play with. I know if you have friends on your given console you can, but in the most part it’s strangers. There’s no longer that thrill of sitting on your bedroom or living room floor, next to your friend and trying to screw up their game by messing with consoles.

Another issue for me is just how toxic online multiplayer can be. There’s always that one git who thinks it’s clever to tell you he “f*cked your mum” or if you if you beat them that they hope you “get cancer and die”, I mean, there’s really no need, is there? I know that this may be a minority of wankers that do this, but it does ruin the experience for those who just want to play the game for fun without being insulted.

I don’t like the way that online multiplayer is also just forced into a game for no reason other than to prolong the life of the game. Like The Last of Us and Grand Theft Auto V have it and I don’t see the point. It doesn’t even make sense for it to be there. Plus, if you’re a trophy hunter, these online modes have their own trophies that are part of the main game. So if you don’t want to play online, you’ve got no chance of getting those elusive platinums or 100%. Again this can ruin the experience for some players. This could easily be solved by having them as a separated DLC kind of thing that keeps them away from the main list. But, that’s just me being picky.

Then you have games like Call of Duty. I won’t go into my opinion of these games (let’s just say it’s not favourable); I’ll just say what bugs me about the multiplayer. Now, I’ve not played a CoD game in a while, the last time I did, it still had local multiplayer, and that was fine. My brother and I used to play it together on occasion. But what’s been the same for as long as the games have been about is that they’re weighted towards those that play the game constantly. Because the games are very similar, as soon as a new game comes out, some players are a million times better than everyone else. These players aren’t put into their own groups together so they can piss each other off; no, they’re put with the new or casual players that then get annihilated and then insulted – more than likely, purely because they have a life outside of CoD.

Some games have multiplayer thrown in because the main single-player game is so damn short. For me, it would make more sense to expand the main game rather than duct taping multiplayer onto it like some kind of half-fix. Sometimes, when this is done, it ruins both aspects of play.

As I said at the beginning, I’m not against multiplayer games, but if it’s done wrong or it’s all there is, then I just don’t see the point. For me, it just seems like a money-making exercise so the publisher/developer can sell pointless little loot boxes or kinds for characters that you’ll never see because it’s a first-person game. I’d be far happier if more games had local multiplayer or co-op modes.

University Presentation Day

I’ve been at university for a good few weeks now, and we’re just starting to get going with things. So much so that today I’m about to do a presentation in one of my lectures, which will be my very first uni assignment.

For the assignment, we were given the choice of different articles that talk about a certain topic, and in a group, we had to figure out if we agree/disagree, find evidence to support our conclusion and then present our findings to the rest of the class. We started giving our presentations last week, but luckily, my group was chosen to go last, because, and I quote, “it will be the best one”; no pressure there.

Our chosen article was titled “Is Poetry Dead”. For some, this may have been an easy answer. Those that write poetry would have straight away said that it wasn’t. My group thought this too, but academically we had to support our argument. This is what we found challenging. But we worked together to figure it out and find our own evidence before we put it all together.

I gave myself the job of writing our script for the presentation, which I thought I would find difficult, but I found it easy and a little bit enjoyable. It’s our first assignment, and I found that enjoying it and finding it easy made me really think that I can do this university thing.

There have been a few times over the past few weeks that my head hasn’t been right, and I’ve just been thinking that I’ve made a mistake and I shouldn’t be trying to do a degree, but now I feel like I should be.

I’m a little nervous about giving the presentation today, but nowhere near as much as I would have ordinarily been before. I think feeling better about things and knowing that if all else fails, I can just read from the script has made it all seem a little easier. I don’t know how I’ll be when I actually have to give it, but I’m trying to stay positive about it. I still have a little bit of anxiety in my head, but I’m trying to push it to the back

I have a couple of other assignments that I have to work on now too, but I’m trying to break the back of them as early as I can so that I’m not worried about them at the last minute; otherwise, my brain may implode.

Reading this blog back, I can see that it’s a little bit all over the place, which probably shows where my head is right now. But I’m sure I’ll be fine.

Have a good week, and wish me luck!

Awkward Trophies: The Last of Us Part II Edition

I’ve done a couple of these posts relating to some of the more finicky trophies to get on certain games. You can find the Vampyr, Skyrim, and Fallout 4 one by clicking on them here.

In this edition, I’ll be taking you through some of the more confusing trophies in The Last of Us Part II.

Looks Good On You – Put a hat on your companion

This is easy to miss. Earned in the “Birthday Gift” flashback, to obtain this trophy you must pick up one of the hats dotted around the entrance to the dinosaur museum, which will cause Ellie to place it on her head.

In the second room of the museum, you can interact with the dinosaur skeletons and place the hat on their skulls. You want to do this twice with differing skeletons, which will cause an interaction icon to appear above Joel’s head. Go over to him and place the hat on his head to be rewarded with the trophy.

Put My Name Up – Earn the high score in the archery game

This trophy is self-explanatory and takes place in the aquarium when you are in control of Abby during one of her flashbacks.

All the targets are in the same room but there are quite a few of them so take the time to familiarise yourself with their locations before you begin the challenge.

For the below collectibles we used the guide over on Powerpyx

Arms master – Fully upgrade all weapons

Archivist – Find all artefacts and journal entries

Master set – Find all trading cards

Numismatist – Find all coins

Prepared For The Worst – Find all workbenches

Safecracker – Unlock every safe

Journeyman – Find all the training manuals

Survival Expert – Learn all player upgrades

High Calibre – Find all weapons

If you enjoy a scavenge for your trophies, then The Last of Us: Part II does not disappoint with many of the trophies following a similar mechanic to those in the original.

The difference in the sequel, however, is that there are certain collectibles, weapons and player upgrades that are specific to either Ellie or Abby, making it harder to keep up with what you have or haven’t got.

Honestly, you could try and collect all these organically, but if you’re in the mood for a trophy hunt you may be better off finding a guide to help you find all of the locations.

We personally did one playthrough collecting what we could naturally and then did a second run to mop up what we missed.  This way your first playthrough can be spent enjoying (I use this term loosely, here’s looking at you Rat King) the story, while the second allows you to focus on other aspects of the game, unlocking different dialogue and combat options through the collectibles that you may not have experienced in the first playthrough.

Who Lives Beneath: A VSS365 Story (Part II)

This is the continuation of my Twitter story written through the daily VSS365 word prompts. You can read Part I here. Follow me on Twitter @GaxTZ to catch up each day.


I climb up into the graveyard but have to prompt John to follow. From the way he is acting, I’m starting to think he’s regretting his decision to follow me.
We dart in and out of the memorials, trying to remain hidden against the vast waves of death.
The graves remind me that in year’s past, the dead had fallen like leaves in autumn. I know that I have to put a stop to it. No more shufflers will die at the hands of the overworlders. I set my sights on the goal before me and move forward.
As we push towards another wall, thought float around my head like seeds blown off a dandelion. At the bottom of the sheer stone, we look up towards the carpets.
“How are we getting up there?” John asks.
I answer with a sly smile.
I raise my cane and point it at the wall and concentrate on where I’m aiming. After muttering a few choice words, a green beam shoots from the tip of the cane. I stagger back with the force. After a flash of green light, thick vines grow up the wall and over the top.
After the noise of the growing plants, all falls silent. It’s only shattered by the caw of a blackbird flying high above.
It’s time to climb. I strap my cane to my back, grab a handful of the vine and pull myself up. John is only a little way behind me.
Halfway up the wall, I see a small gap from which a sliver of light is escaping. I pause to look through and can see multiple shadows moving inside. A voice shouts something. For fear that we are found out, I quickly continue up the vines.
At the top of the vines, we hoist ourselves over the crenelations and onto the walkway. Beneath us, the woods are alive with movement. Tiny lights zigzag through the trees. Searching. Crouching, we make our way along the battlements towards a tower.
We hear footsteps coming from the doorway. With no time to hide, we stand our ground. Out of the darkness comes a soldier with a nose like a heron’s beak. He looks at us in disbelief, but before he can make his move, a cold blast of air shoots from my cane.
The man stares in disbelief as a tangle of ice wraps around his legs and grows up his torso, eventually covering his face. He stands, frozen in time, as we dart past and inside the tower.
Inside the stone room, we stare in amazement at the countless jars hanging from the walls and ceiling, each one continuing several fireflies. Their light isn’t doing much to light the space, but there’s enough to cast creepy looking shadows.
Suddenly the wooden door across the room explodes into a million pieces. Shrapnels flies in all directions, striking both John and me despite our attempts to dodge. I feel a warm river of blood streaming down from my forehead where something had struck me.
The room is filled with the ebb and flow of myriad sounds. Shouting, screaming, explosions. The noise assaults our ears. I see John on the floor cowering where is was stood only a few seconds ago. The world around us seemingly dissolving.
In the chaos, feeling that this is the end, my mind goes back to the fun that John and I used to have as children. The times we spent beneath the ground, exploring the hundreds of tunnels. They were simpler times. Before the magic. Before the war.
I open my eyes and find myself beneath a shell of rubble like a scrap yard turtle. My ears ring, and the noises around me sound like I’m listening through water. My body aches, and I struggle to push some of the debris off me while attempting to get to my feet.
Through the ringing, I hear the voice of a stranger approaching. They seem to be telling others to search the ruins. I look around me, and my heart almost stops. I can’t see John.
“John?” I try. My voice is hoarse and dry.
I start to dig randomly, calling out his name.
Across the room, my eyes fall on a body being crushed by rubble. I don’t hesitate to dash over to it and start heaving the debris off this person. I think it’s John, but once I uncover the face, I see that it’s a woman and not someone I recognise. Where had she come from?
Lifting the debris off the woman, I help her to her feet. Once upright, she brushes the remaining dust from her robe.
“Who are you?” I ask.
“I’ll tell you in time. For now, you just have to trust me.”
I think for a minute.
“I need to find my friend.”
She looks around the destroyed room. When her eyes fall on one of the piles of rubble, she walks over to it, turns to me and smiles. I’m not sure what this is supposed to signify, so I hop over the debris towards her. She waves a hand, and the stones begin to move.
The rubble raises from the ground, moves across the room and then drops with several soft thuds. Johns body is now visible, and I rush over to help him up. With my friend now getting to his feet, I look back at the woman.
“We need to go to the cafe,” she says gleefully.
“What?” John asks with innocence and heavy breaths.
“We can get out through the cafe,” the woman says.
Both John and I must look confused because she clarifies, “This place used to be a museum. The cafe has an exit.”
“Oh,” is all I can maage.bin response.
Now a trio, we leave the destroyed room and head down a narrow corridor. We occasionally stop when we hear footsteps somewhere in the darkness. I feel like this hall should be darker than it is, but the woman seems to radiate light. I can’t explain it.
As we proceed down the intimate space, we hear more and more voices coming from all around us punctuated by explosions. It sounds like hell is breaking loose outside as the war continues, detached from our little group. At the end of the corridor, I see a sign, “Cafe”.
After several more dark hallways, we walk into the old cafe. It’s a shadow of its former self, although some of the tables and chairs are still arranged in rows.
“I’m glad you found us,” I say to the woman when we stop.
“It wasn’t an accident. I was looking for you.”
“What do you mean? How did you know we were here?” I ask.
“Think. Who would betray you?” She says in a calm, measured tone?
Betrayal? It was unthinkable. A shuffler turning against their own.
It’s then I notice John slowly edging away from us.
“John?” I ask in disbelief, “How could you be so treacherous?”
“I-I had no choice,” He stammers.
“Did you help them attack us underground?” I still can’t quite believe what’s happening.
John remains silent, but I can tell by his face what he has to say.
I can’t help but feel hurt by John’s actions. After all, we’ve been through together, for him to do something like this was beyond deceit.
“We need to go,” the woman says, snapping me out of my thoughts.
“How do I know I can trust you?” I ask.
“You don’t.”
I don’t know what to do. If John has turned against me, then who else? Would it be easier to flee back to my hovel? No. I can’t. There have already been too many shuffler deaths. I don’t know who this woman is, but I don’t think I have a choice but to trust her.
Still a trio, we make our way to the back of the old cafe. I don’t spook easily, but something about this room sends shivers up my spine. Perhaps it’s thinking about its use in year’s past before the world fell dark. I shake off the feeling and stay close to the woman.
At the door, she stops and looks back at us. I nod to prompt her to open the large wooden door that’s seen better days. It opens with an almost cliche squeal. We pause, hoping that no one heard the noise.
“Where exactly are we going?” I ask.
“Up,” she says simply.
I’m usually pretty good at judging a person’s inscape, but I can’t get a handle on this woman. First, she seems one thing and then another.
We come to a winding staircase that does indeed lead up. To where I have no idea.
I suddenly remember a dream I had a few days ago, before the attack. It involved a winding staircase, a witch and a knife. Did it foreshadow what was about to happen, or am I reading too much into this situation? Either way, I’m about to find out.
I sleepwalk through the next couple of rooms, not wanting to come back to the room to see my fate, whatever it is.
We soon stop though at another huge door, and I realise that we’re outside in some sort of courtyard.
“The gift shop is through here,” the woman says.
“This is where the death happens.”
“Wow, you could sugarcoat it a little,” I say.
“Why? It does. Changing the way I say it won’t make it any less so.”
She didn’t really need to say it at all. You could smell the scent of death and decay all around.
In the centre of the room is a small pit containing still smoking coals. I ask if it was a campfire. She tells me it’s used in the torture of shuffler. I grimace at the thought of how many we have lost over the years. We pick our way through the room, avoiding bones.
Hanging on one wall are ornate wooden objects hanging by some sort of thread. Each one is as intricate as a snowflake. I ask what they are, and she tells me they are the totems of one of the sects of overworlders. Not people you want to mess with by all accounts.
None of them had their own fingerprint as they saw it as identifying them as individuals; they preferred to be seen as a whole. As legion.
Luckily none of them are nearby; otherwise we would know about it. We skirt through the next few empty rooms.
We’re soon out on a street. The smell of primrose drifts through the air from some nearby laboratory. The overworlders were unlike we shufflers; they preferred science over magic. That was more fool them. Magic, in the right hands, was far more powerful.
From here, the town looks like it’s in retrograde. The buildings look dilapidated and are crumbling from their foundations up. The overworlders, despite wanting to take over, don’t seem to want to look after what they have.
Stalking through the town, hiding in the shadows and avoiding guards, we could be forgiven for thinking that we were winning, that our saga was coming to an end, but this was only the beginning of our fight back.
Soon we come up to another wall, the one that circles the centre of the overworld city. We stop as we see the mechanical sentries that stand dormant in large alcoves cut into the stone. Any sudden movement on our part could awaken them.
Any plans I have for once we’re inside are purely hypothetical right now if we can’t get past these metal beasts. As we tiptoe past, I raise my cane, ready to strike at a moments notice should the worst happen. I look back at John, who has stopped in front of one.
He steps closer and raises a hand like he’s going to touch one of the tin soldiers. I look him in the eyes, and without words, I implore him not to do it. Slowly he lays an open palm on a metal leg. In the blink of an eye, steams erupts, and red eyes glow. The mechanical man starts to slowly unfold from itself as it comes to life. John steps back from it, looks back at us and then runs away. I steel my resolve, fix my feet sternly on the cobbled road and hold my cane at waist height in preparation for the onslaught.

Actually Doing University Work

This week, as the rest of the university, is off to prepare for assessments, our course was also given the week off despite us not having any assessments for a while. For one of our lectures, we were given some work to prepare for a group presentation. This is the first “proper” work that I’ve had to do as a student, and I’ve found it quite hard, to say the least.

To prepare for our presentation, we had to go through a written article about a given subject; our group had a piece of writing titled “Is Poetry Dead?” Now, I don’t know a great deal about poetry, so I’ve gone into the read-through with an open mind, ready to take in what other people have to say on the subject. It wasn’t the reading and taking notes that I found difficult; it was getting the time and motivation to work on it.

If I don’t start work first thing (after my couple of wake up hours of gaming), I find it so hard to get my head into a place in which I can work and have my attention held. I don’t know whether this is just my head being a dick, or it’s because I’ve not been in education for a long time, so now we’re finally getting around to doing some real work; my head is just like, “what the fuck?”

After struggling all week, I finally managed to do what I needed to do yesterday, and I think I’m ready to get together with my group next week and go through what we all made of it. I’m interested to see if we have similar or differing opinions. But I’m also nervous about working in a group. Again, part of my anxiety is probably because I’ve not done this kind of thing for ages, but I think some of it is just because I’m not great at working in a group – my anxiety does summersaults because I end up with no confidence in what I’m saying.

The other reason why my anxiety is so high is that not only do we have to work in a group to put together our own argument relating to our chosen piece, but also present it in front of the rest of the class – I’ve never been great at this. I’m fine in class talking and giving my opinions, but when I have to stand up in front of everyone and talk, it creates a whole new level of anxiety.

Part of the reason why I’m doing this foundation year is to build up my confidence and my skills in areas like these that I might be lacking before heading off to start my actual degree course. I’m hoping that by the time I finish this year, I will have more confidence and fewer issues doing certain things. I’m not blinkered in thinking that I will be fine and my anxiety will disappear completely, but even if it just decreases some, then it will have all been worth it.

I’m getting into the swing of my daily life at uni, but I always knew that as soon as we started real work, I would start to struggle some. I’m trying my best to just get it done and not let my brain dictate what I can and can’t do, but sometimes it’s just so overwhelming and tiring to constantly be doing battle inside my mind.

Soon I have a meeting with the university to get a RAP (Reasonable Adjustment Plan) set up. This will hopefully give me things that will ultimately help me get through the course. It may include things like extensions on pieces of work or more time in exams. I don’t know if I’ll necessarily need these things, but my brain being the dick that it is, it’ll be good to have something in place just in case.

Now that I’ve done what I need to do, I’m going to spend the day working on my WIP – something else that I’ve been struggling to fit in this week. I’m only 950 words into my NaNoWriMo challenge, and I want to be much further in than that. I’m not pressuring myself, but it’d be good to get the first draft of And Then I Killed Her finished this month.

That’s it for this week. Have a good weekend!

Love or Hate: Open World Games

Open-world games are one of many genres of video game that is out there. These days there are many massive games where you can freely explore a map as long as you want without it having an adverse effect on the story. I asked my gamer followers on Twitter if they enjoyed open-world games or if they preferred a more linear experience; below are some of the responses:

Open-world games aren’t just a recent evolution of gaming. They have been around since the 70s, with the game Western Gun being released in 1975. In this game, you controlled one of two gunmen that could openly explore the game map while trying to shoot the other player. Western Gun might not be on the same scale as open-world games are now, but it is nevertheless the origin.

Over the years, this type of game evolved, bringing a larger map for exploration – like in the original Legend of Zelda for the NES – all the way up to games like GTA V, Assassin’s Creed, and Fallout. Each world allowing the player to complete quests from far and wide alongside the main story quests, as well as collecting items or just exploring to see what the map has to offer.

As seen in the response from gamers above, some people enjoy open-world games, others not so much. For me, I’ve always gravitated towards open-world games over the more linear ones. I relished the challenge of completing quests from the arse-end of the map or exploring some of the hidden places that others might not venture to. I enjoyed spending hours inside a game, seeing everything that it had to offer. Over the past couple of years, however, as much as I still enjoy a massive game, I find that I haven’t got the patience to explore as much as I would have done previously. Doing all of what I said above has somewhat lost its shine, and I find myself getting bored with wandering and then just running through the main questline. For some – I’m looking at you Skyrim – this will cut the game down to a matter of a few hours rather than hundreds, and it leaves a bitter taste because of missing out on so much.

Some open-world games are easier to play than others. Games like Death Stranding are amazingly beautiful to look at, and that makes you want to explore more of the environment. I find myself wandering just to see the prettiness of the map. For others, that just isn’t enough. For example, I really enjoy the Assassin’s Creed games – I know they’re all very similar – but recently, I was playing Odyssey, and I just can’t get into it. Now, it might be for a combination of things, but it’s a huge game that I just can’t be bothered to explore and I think that’s my main issue with it. I feel like if it’s a big game then I should be doing as much as possible in it. Maybe if I’d played it a few years ago, it might have been different; who can say. I just know that I’ve tried to get into it a few times and just can’t. Maybe if it was a smaller game, I’d find it easier to play.

For some open-world games, looking good just isn’t enough. If it has a character that you just can’t connect with, has overly complicated mechanics or just too much going on, this can also put me off it as a playable game. Linear, more story-oriented games sometimes have the same issues, but I can forgive most of them for it because they’re generally pretty short games, and they don’t usually take much brainpower – which on some days, let’s be honest, who needs that.

Like with most things in this world, it all comes down to personal preference. As I said in my last blog, don’t let someone make you feel bad because you can’t be bothered spending days in a game or if you just want to wander and explore some beautiful locations. Play as you want.

It’s NaNoWriMo Time Again

NaNoWriMo

What is NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. It is a challenge to write 50,000 words on a new novel or your current WIP. You keep track of your progress on the website, where you can see how everyone else is doing. You don’t lose out if you don’t manage to do the challenge; it’s all just for fun.


Last year I took part in the challenge with my then WIP, It’s All in the Eyes. I ended up stuck as to where to go with that story, so the challenge pretty much fell by the wayside. But I did manage to add another 20,000 words to the story. This year, however, rather than carrying on with IAITE, I’m putting my current WIP, And Then I Killed Her up for the challenge. I’m currently 22,300 words in, so if I can add another 50,000 by the end of the month, then it will probably be near enough finished. I’d love to get the first draft of this WIP finished, I know there will still be a lot of work to do on it, but it’ll be another step closer to publishing.

This challenge is a great way to get you to write every day, even if it’s just a little. Having a goal to work to makes it easier to see how far you’ve come. I urge any writers out there to give it a go. You’ll also be able to see my progress on my profile over on the NaNoWriMo website.

This weekend I had another idea for a story pop into my head, so I spent a bit of time making notes for it. I don’t want to say too much about it at the moment, but it’s going to be different to other things that I’ve written.

In other news, my story over on Twitter using the #VSS365 daily word prompts, Who Lives Beneath, is still going strong. I will probably do another round-up as a blog post soon, so you’ll be able to read it without having to scroll through the thread.

I’ll leave this here for now; I’ve got some uni work that I need to get done. Have a good week!

Why Play Video Games?

Video games have been around for many years now, from Pong to Mario Bros. to Skyrim; they have captured our imaginations and, for some of us, have been a part of daily life for as long as we can remember. But why do we play video games? I recently posed this question to my followers on Twitter. Below are some of the replies:

For some lure of video games is to escape into a world where you be and do anything. For others, it’s a coping mechanism for when the real world gets. And still others, it’s purely for fun. All of these, of course, are valid, and it’s not up to anyone to tell other people why to play. Whether you’re male or female, video games are there for everyone.

For me, video games are something that I think I will always rely on in times of crisis or even just downtime. Each game has a different effect and purpose, and it depends on the way that I’m feeling as to what I will play. For example, if I’m feeling down or I’m unable to concentrate, I might go back to some old favourites like The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. I’ve played that game so much that it doesn’t require much thought, and no matter where I’m up to, I can jump straight into my saved games and play until my brain feels better. If I’m feeling angry or upset, then I might try something like a shooter a la Bulletstorm. Again this doesn’t really require much thought, but it’s something that I can take some of my frustration out on without externally expressing my emotions. However, I play a lot of games for the experience as, at a base level, this is what all games are. They are an experience to be enjoyed (if frustratingly at times. I’m looking at you Crash Bandicoot) and are designed to stimulate you in the same way as movies or books – some games now are pretty much a cinematic experience, for example, Heavy Rain or Detroit: Become Human. This is made all the more true by the graphics capabilities of systems these days.

I’ve played video games for most of my life, but my tastes haven’t always stayed the same. Like the games themselves, my tastes evolve over time. I used to love playing side scroller platformers and shooters, but now they tend to infuriate me more than anything. I’ve historically been really bad at finishing horror games, but recently I’ve been able to play them without any issues – maybe I’m getting braver, I don’t know. Likewise, my reason for playing them has changed. When I was younger, I would play them mainly for fun, I didn’t have the same worries and whatnot back then, so there was no need to use them as a coping mechanism. Whereas now, as I said above, I play them for many different reasons. And in the future, my reasons will probably change again.

If there were no video games, then I would probably turn to something else to get me through tough times, perhaps books. Whereas as much as I love books now, they will always play second fiddle to video games. Both for the effect they have on my and the experience that I have while playing them.

There are many different genres out there, so there is something for everyone, but I perfectly understand those people that choose not to play them. Maybe they don’t have time, or just don’t want to and prefer to do other things – God forbid, outside! The fact is they’re not for everyone, and that’s okay. I see a lot of things being thrown around these by people who think that if you’re a gamer, you should play all the time, or you should/shouldn’t like a particular game (but let’s be honest, Call of Duty is a bit wank), Or that if you don’t game at all, then you’ve got no right to an opinion on anything. This is what I like to call “bullshit”. Game or don’t game, it’s up to you, and if you do, it’s up to you how you play them and why.

Gaming is a hobby. Enjoy it however you want.

Books I’ve Read This Year (Reviews)

Books, books, books. Books everywhere. They’re on bookshelves, in drawers, on my phone and my Kindle, and yet so far this year, I’ve read nowhere near as many books as I would have liked to from my list. This is because of a few reasons, some being writing my own stuff, gaming and reviewing and now going to University. That being said, since I’ve started uni, I’ve managed to get a few books under my proverbial belt, and in this blog, I will be talking about some of those, and although I’ve had issues with some of them, I would recommend each and every one to you, a fellow reader. The below books, by excellent authors, are ones that you have to check out.

Just as a side note, I’m not used to reviewing books so these are a little short. I’m hoping once I start doing them I can do more detailed ones.


Dear Annabelle by Scout Dawson

Five years before his wife’s death, a grieving widower made a promise to his beloved Annabelle that he would paint the “real” her, to immortalize her image forever. Drowning in grief, he commits to his promise, but the cost of perfection is greater than he could have imagined.

My Review

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Dear Annabelle is a gothic tale the likes of Edgar Allan Poe. The imagery created in this macabre short story is exquisite in its excellence. It’s a quick read and one every lover of Gothic horror needs to read.


Nevada Noir by David Arrowsmith

In these three dark and brooding short stories, set in and around the US state of Nevada, a cast of disparate characters struggle with greed and temptation, and the cursed lure of easy money… an old man goes in search of his son in the aftermath of a terrible storm, a couple down on their luck make a life-changing discovery and an ex-cop has one last impossible decision to make

My Review

⭐⭐⭐⭐

This trilogy of dark stories are expertly woven into noir tales of greed, struggle and temptation. Each story stands on its own as it follows its respective characters through their struggle, with each one being linked in some way to the others. I read this as part of my kick with short stories, and I wasn’t disappointed. My one minor qualm is that I would love to have seen these characters more and perhaps have a little bit more to each story. But despite this, I thoroughly enjoyed Nevada Noir, and I’d recommend it to any lover of dark, gritty tales.


Early Adopters: Rogue Elements by D.T. Wilby

They thought they were going to save the world…

Maybe someday.

First they need to save themselves.

Over a decade ago, a group of misfits underwent genetic editing under the auspices of scientific research. They thought they could make a difference. They thought they were going to be superheroes, but MiliTech turned them into their own living, breathing weapons.

Outside of their honeymoon period, they are disavowed and relentlessly pursued by their creators. Disparate, they do the best they can to stay one step ahead, stay out of each other’s way and maybe do a little good where they can.

But as MiliTech’s net closes in, these Early Adopters need to make a choice – will they keep on running forever or will they take a stand? Can they work together to free a forgotten hero from a golden age, or will they just make everything worse all over again?

The age of gods and monsters is upon us as the Early Adopters Universe begins in Early Adopters: Rogue Elements – an anthology of nine entangled stories developing into a single explosive narrative. An action packed love letter to science fiction comics and graphic novels.

My Review

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

A Dark Twist on the Suberhero Genre. Going into this book I’d already read the “Star Crossed” short story that is a part of this collection, and it made me want to read more of this universe.
In this collection, each story is separate compelling read with we’ll crafted characters and environments but at the end they all link togther into an intertwined and tense finale.
Wilby has a firm grasp on his universe and leads you through it with a dark vision.
I look forward to reading more about these characters and settings.


Kerwall Town by S.D.Reed

After two strangers appear in the dilapidated 70s’ town of Kerwall, the lives of every resident change. Members of the community are forced together as the number of bodies and secrets increase with every passing moment. As tensions rise and the inhabitants reach breaking point the question is raised: is it Kerwall’s newcomers draining its inhabitants or are they simply slipping through the cracks which have existed all along. With knowledge as their only tool against the world’s deadliest predator, the hunt for power commences. Kerwall’s hope rests on the shoulders of its youngest residents, forcing them into the depths of the earth, questioning everything they’ve ever known.
Will Kerwall ever be safe, or is the whole town trapped in the grasp of these outsiders?

Warning: DO NOT ENTER ALONE. Drag someone with you and if you are unable make sure to leave with your sanity in tact.

This nod to classic horror will leave you feeling as isolated as every character, constantly checking over your shoulder until the very last pages. Beginning the universe in which Reed’s future novels will take place, Kerwall Town demonstrates the scope of genres which can be expected from him going forward.

My Review

⭐⭐⭐⭐

An absolutely riveting read, this book draws you into the town of Kerwall from the very first page in a very Kind-esque manner. The world and characters are so intricately crafted that you believe that you are a guest in the town and are walking it’s streets.
The plot is a slow boil with many a creepy scene that keep you reading.
My one criticism and why I didn’t give this excellent book 5 stars, is that the ending appears and disappears so quickly. The book builds up to a conclusion that doesn’t give the rest of the story justice and, for me, it fell a but flat.
Having said this however I would recommend that you visit Kerwall and enjoy your stay, while you can.


Thank you to all the wonderful authors out there that continue to put their work out there. I know that it’s not easy at times but you persevere despite that. Thank you.