Video games aren’t always the happiest medium around. In their ongoing effort to adult and artistic, many games also become quite dark. Titles like The Walking Dead or Dark Souls certainly aren’t games I would look at and say “wow, that looks like it’ll make me happy.” Challenge me, sure. Tell a good story, heck yeah. But make me happy? I don’t know about all that. Even a brilliant, universally-acclaimed game like Breath of the Wild isn’t really a “happy” game. The themes of survival in a broken world, reclaiming your lost memories, reclaiming your homeland from one hundred years of darkness that you attempted to prevent but failed…definitely not subjects that bring the word happiness to mind.
Yet despite the dark themes and edgy characters, games still manage to make folks happy. So perhaps it is not totally inappropriate for a game blogger like myself to be nominated to share ten things that make me happy. This event has been making the rounds for a bit now and I was tagged in it by Kim over at Later Levels. You should definitely check out her happy post if you haven’t done so yet!
As far as I know there aren’t really ground rules other than sharing 10 happy things and then tagging other people you want to see talk about their happy things. At first when I put this list together it was really generalized, so I worked on it a bit to make each thing a little more specific. These are sort-of in order, I guess, but not really at the same time. Certain things are more significant during the time that I really need them, and some come up rarer than the others so they are extra precious when they happen. The real focus here is that these ten things cause joy to swell inside my crusty ole heart!
HAPPY THING #10: PROVING MYSELF AT WORK
I don’t really think of myself as a workaholic. I’m not super driven to climb the corporate ladder or make cartoonish quantities of money. But I do take pride in my work and I think it’s valuable to the community. So when I am able to bring my A-game and make a particular project successful, it feels pretty nice. While I try to humbly shrug off the accolades for a job well done, it still feels good to have everyone supporting me and thinking I’m the bee’s knees.
HAPPY THING #9: COOKING MYSELF A NICE MEAL
After a long day at work, I’m always ready for a delicious meal. There are definitely some days when I want that meal to be prepared by hands other than my own, but for the most part I am content to cook. I prefer homecooked meals as a rule not necessarily because I am the best cook ever but because I can prepare the meal exactly how I like it. Maybe I want more main course and less side. Maybe I like more seasoning or sauce than the average person. Maybe I don’t want to include certain flavors so the ones I really like stand out more. When I’m the one cooking, I can cater everything to my tastes and I end up with meals that perfectly suit my palette. After a tough day, a meal specially designed for me is the best way to fill my empty belly!
HAPPY THING #8: SINGING AS LOUD AS I WANT DRIVING ALONE IN THE CAR
Back when my wife and I weren’t married, we lived two-and-a-half hours apart during the summers. Once a week I would use a day off to go and visit her – often, I had to work the next day, so I’d end up driving about five hours total on those trips. To squeeze out every second of the day we could together, I would set out before the sun and not come home until the wee hours of the morning. This made it tough for me to stay awake during the drive sometimes, and when that happened I’d turn off the radio and just sing by myself.
There’s something about unbridled singing, just me and the open road, that feels really great. I don’t have to worry about how good I sound, or whether anyone else likes the song. I can dive in and focus only on enjoying the song and participating along with it. I don’t get to do this as often as I used to but traveling for work gives me the chance from time to time.
HAPPY THING #7: EXCELLENT STORYTELLING
The thing I love about video games is also the thing I love about a good movie or book – the engaging story that is told. And while I enjoy all of these mediums in general, I enjoy them most when experiencing a story that is particularly well-written. Clever dialogue, excellent symbolism, surprising twists, all of these things bring joy to my heart.
Games I’ve played recently that scratch the storytelling itch…first off, there’s Phoenix Wright: Trials and Tribulations. That game utilizes stories from the past and present to carefully reveal details about characters we have known for some time but maybe not seen as often. What seems like a cool way to do the tutorial by having Mia Fey as the player character is actually the beginnings of an ongoing story that takes place over many years. The dynamics between the different characters and the plot twists that rise out of it are incredible. Also, the writing in Fire Emblem Echoes is absolutely fantastic. Some favorites of mine include Claire and Gray’s dialogue where she absolutely tears apart his “I love you at first sight” schtick, and the incredible exchange between Lukas and Fernand about the value of having peasants in the Deliverance forces. Finally, Breath of the Wild had some excellent character development for Zelda, showing us sides of the princess we’ve never seen before (no, not the frog scene), as well as the excellent themes and symbolism.
HAPPY THING #6: MOTHER/SON DAYS
When you grow up and move out of your parent’s house, it’s a pretty natural side effect that you don’t see your parents as often as you used to. When you move two-and-a-half hours away, it gets even worse. My mother and I were always close when I was growing up and the distance certainly isn’t fun for either one of us. So it’s truly special when that rare time comes around when we can spend a mother and son day together.
Weirdly this happens somewhat often for us through work – my mother and I work for the same agency, just in different counties across the state. This means that anytime there’s a statewide event for the whole agency or when we end up working together on the same workgroup/project we get to see each other during work hours. We’ll try to take these opportunities to have a nice lunch together before heading our separate ways, and it’s not uncommon for us to catch up for a few minutes on Skype Business between appointments during the work day. More recently, we got the opportunity to go see Baby Driver together (which inspired this post) and that was an absolute blast! The rarity of mother/son days makes them even more special.
HAPPY THING #5: THE BLOGGING COMMUNITY
At the beginning of 2017, I made it a goal to increase the sense of community on Adventure Rules. Man, am I glad I did that. Blogging has become so much more enriching now that I am more engaged with the other bloggers around me. There are so many amazing people in this community who write incredible articles and are a delight to interact with. I’m learning from so many people and making positive connections with folks from all over the place. I speak frequently with bloggers from Europe, other parts of North America – it’s been rewarding not just because Adventure Rules has grown as a result, but because I get to watch with pride as other bloggers are successful and say “hey, I know them! They’re awesome!”
I’m particularly excited by how much people are embracing the Blogger Blitz event. It’s awesome to see the competitors and judges exchanging tweets, making jokes, talking about their events and encouraging each other in the competition. If you aren’t following every blogger involved in the event, I highly encourage you to check out their blogs and follow their Twitters as well. These creative minds have a lot to say and I’m honored to be able to host an event that allows them to work together to create even more great content.
HAPPY THING #4: MY RECENT TRIP TO FLORIDA
If you saw my unintentional break a couple of weeks ago (or read an update post recently), then you know I just had a friend get married in the state of Florida. For my wife and I, getting down there was a 12 hour drive. Luckily, we weren’t the only friends going to this thing, so we hopped in a car with some friends from college and made our way south.
It’s a rare occasion these days when we get to see our old pals. Most of us live in different towns now and when you combine the travel time with our work schedules, it’s hard to meet up and hang out. But for the wedding we got the opportunity to stay in this really nice house together – plenty of bedrooms, a nice pool, great kitchen, the whole nine yards. In the evenings after wedding business was done we could all hang out, have dinner, play Quiplash, go swimming – all that stuff was a ton of fun. But even more fun than that was reliving the old times – talking in the car about everything and nothing while waiting for someone at the airport, singing the same old songs we used to sing, joking about the sketchiness of the take-out place while waiting for our dinners to be cooked. As parents, my wife and I don’t get times like that as often as we would like, and even rarer than that are times where she can hang out with the ladies and I can just chill with the guys. We made a lot of great memories with our friends during the wedding and I’ll hold on to them for a long time.
HAPPY THING #3: A NIGHT OF TABLETOP GAMING WITH MY FRIENDS
Back in college my favorite night of the week was Sunday evening. That’s when all of us would get together after a tough week of classes, rehearsals, and homework to play a tabletop game. Mutants and Masterminds, Star Wars, Dread, D&D, Dungeon World – each semester was a new game and we told numerous stories about characters of all sorts. I love playing video games as a hobby and I love the stories that they tell, but there’s something special about the social aspect of tabletop gaming that I deeply miss when I’m not involved in a campaign.
This is another thing I don’t get to enjoy as much these days, but we find opportunities to play when we can. About a year ago we got together near Halloween to play the horror game Dread in an empty church – and of course the setting of the horrible goings on was also an empty church. That night it stormed like crazy – rain pounding against the roof of the church, crackling lightning turning the dark sky stark white. It was an awesome backdrop for a fun night of roleplaying. Now, my recently-married pal is preparing to run a Dungeon World game using Roll20, so for the first time I’ll get to be a player in what has become my favorite RPG! We’re supposed to start playing in August and I am so excited to feel the dice in my hand again.
HAPPY THING #2: MY SON’S LAUGH
When it comes to parenting, you learn to identify a lot of sounds from your kid. Fake cries, real cries, real fake cries, pain, hunger, joy, sadness – they have signals for everything and you learn to identify each and every one. My son is just over two years old and learning to talk is a big thing right now. He’s saying short sentences, picking up new words every day, and singing. His singing is so cute! It’s awesome!
Still, even with all that, my favorite sound to hear from my son is a hearty, genuine laugh. It’s bubbly and infectious, the kind of laugh where you can’t help but smile and chances are you’re gonna be laughing too. Some of my favorite laughing moments with him are when we’re with a group of friends or family – if something funny happens and we all break out in laughter, he jumps right in on the fun and it’s adorable. He’s ticklish as well, so when he’s in the right mood and we start in on tickling he’ll laugh so long and hard. After a rough day at work or when something bad has happened, that laugh is the best pick-me-up a dad can ask for.
HAPPY THING #1: PLAYFUL BANTER WITH MY WIFE
My wife and I first met over the improv club at our college. I was the student director at the time and she was an audience member interested in auditioning (depending on which one of us you ask, we didn’t “meet” until her audition). Destiny had a sarcastic, dead-pan style that we didn’t have represented on the team, so she earned her way into the club and we started getting to know each other that way. It’s funny that the sense of humor that drew me to cast her in the club is the same thing that draws me back in each and every day of our marriage.
We have a very quippy relationship full of sarcasm and banter. Not in a damaging sort of way, but in a way where we know exactly where the lines are and when it is not appropriate to joke about a subject. She loves puns, and I love to make puns, we both love to make fun of each other’s puns. It’s a good balance. That banter defines how we interact each other not only socially, but when flirting as well. Heck, playful teasing is how we first expressed our interest in each other!
It’s the little things, really. I’ve mentioned in the past that I love to make up songs about pretty much whatever. If we’re riding in the car and I start singing and particularly bad song I just came up with, Destiny will slowly reach for the radio knob and turn it on to subtly tell me to be quiet. If I start stuttering over my words or my sentences don’t make sense, she’ll pat my head and say “shh, go to sleep.” I tell all our friends how mean she is because she won’t let me sleep on my back, and she quickly retorts with the fact that I snore like a freight train. These little moments brighten up my day, make me laugh, and help us to keep the playful spark that brought us together in the first place. I look forward to teasing her about how old she is when we’re 85.
THE TAGGING BIT
There you have it, adventurers, ten things that make me happy! At this point I am supposed to tag some people so they can talk about what makes them happy, too. I’ve honestly lost track of who has and has not been tagged in this thing, which makes it a little tricky for me – between Later Levels, Power Bomb Attack, and AmbiGaming Corner, it seems like everyone I know has tagged everyone else I know! What’s a guy to do?
So this might be a bit of a cop-out, but I choose to tag YOU, adventurers! If you are reading this and haven’t already done a post on the ten things that make you happy, why not do your own and share the love? If you don’t feel up to an entire post, I’d love to read about your happy things here in the comments. Thanks for reading and I hope you all have a happy week!