For Beginners, new perspective, Recommendation, Review, Video Games

Gaming for Beginners: Stardew Valley

To continue with the trend as of late, I’m going to try another series. As you can imagine by the title, this series will be about gaming. I realized that if someone says video games are “a waste of time” they either 1) Have not played video games or 2) they tried video games, didn’t understand what was going on, got frustrated, and decided video games were stupid. So here I am to help. To remedy the issue, instead of writing reviews geared for those who already play games, I am hand picking games that provide a challenge, have depth, and are easy enough to jump into and enjoy for ANYONE.

Story

So let’s start with stardew valley. The story of Stardew Valley starts out simple enough. You’ve sold your soul to Corporate America and are working at a job you hate just to make ends meet. Sound familiar? Yes, it’s the story of the American Dream! While at the office you remember a letter your grandfather gave you before he died and him saying “open this when life has you in a tizzy”. In the letter, is the deed to the family farm. And thus begins your journey to Stardew Valley.

Gameplay

When you arrive, the farm is a mess. Weeds run rampant and you only have enough money to buy a few crops. Thus begins your first season. You clear land, meet villagers, and tend to your harvest in the hope of having a bigger yield next season to build a farm that Grandpa would be proud of. If you’ve ever fantasized about being a lumberjack, now’s your chance. Instead of growing thousands of pumpkins, plant a thousand trees; once they’re fully grown, chop them down. Want to spend most of your time fishing, use your rod and buy a few crabbing pots along with some bait. Want to hunt monsters all day and be a miner? Buy a sword and grab your pickaxe.

What did I do? Who was/is farmer Mike? I grew bored of planting crops, so instead I built a coop and a barn and had my sheep Ann and my chicken Lucy to keep me company. Then as months turned to years, I built a wine cellar, built a greenhouse (coffee all year round!!!), and grew wheat and hops to make beer. Then I met a villager, fell in love and accomplished what I’ve never been able to do in real life; settle down!

Time

So as you can imagine, this game is quite involved. I failed my marketing final because I had the brilliant idea of buying this game a week before (still got an A in the class). However, this is a game that you could play for 30 minutes, stop, and continue when you have more time. It’s beyond addicting. It has catchy music, beautiful sound effects, a rewarding progress system, and better conversations than you have with your friends in real life. It is a game where you could start playing in the morning, look out the window and realize that the sun has already set, then keep playing till the sun rises again. What’s more, it was developed by one individual during his free time. If you spend money ($15) you’ll be supporting one man who pursued his dreams and made a beautiful piece of art.

Verdict

This game is fun for everyone. If you’re looking for a new hobby, this game is a great starting point. If you’re trying to understand why all your nerd friends would rather sit inside all day than talk to your lovely face, just give this a try. I give this game:

5 out of 5 ripe potatoes: A must play


So there you have it! My first ever video game review! It was a lot of fun to write and hope you enjoyed it as well. I plan to do more in the future and think it’ll be a nice addition to my book and movie reviews. And with any luck, I might even make a game connoisseur out of you yet! As always, thanks for reading! I’ll post a link to the trailer for “Stardew Valley” below and feel free to comment if you have questions!

Stardew Valley Trailer

Book Review, Books, Recommendation, Review

Great Gatsby: Worth a read?

The Great Gatsby. The book most read in primary school. Did I read it then? I actually can’t remember. But I’ve read it now. And what did I think? Well… Let’s first talk about what it is.

The narration is from the perspective of Nick, a classy, honest dude who moved East to New York. The book is set in the 1920’s or better known as the roaring 20’s in the US and at it’s heart sets up a great mystery. Early in the story Nick meets his neighbor Jay Gatsby, a mysterious individual who perplexes the relatively reserved Nick. Gatsby is a man who has extravagant parties and has a taste for the finer things in life.

As the book progresses, we learn more about Gatsby and his past, uncovering the mystery of why he’s called “The Great Gatsby”. Woven into the plot is a tale of unrequited love and really goes to show that it’s about the journey, not the destination.

Why you should read

The book is beautifully written. When you read the book, it’s as though you’re in the 20’s and right there alongside Nick. The book has plenty of twists and leaves you questioning if what you’re told is the actual truth. The book steadily ramps up and the climax does not disappoint when you finally reach page 180. The writing is easy to follow and it makes for a quick, enjoyable read.

My recommendation?

I give “The Great Gatsby” 4 out of 5 stars. While not perfect, it comes close. It’s a great book and certainly worth your time.


Thanks for reading! The next book on my list is “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho, which I’ve only heard great things about. Already read “The Great Gatsby”? Feel free to discuss in the comments below, just be wary to avoid spoilers when you post.

 

Book Review, Recommendation

Blink: Worth a Read?

So, I read a lot. I’ve been going through about a book every week or two for the past few months. I’ve had a few favorite authors throughout my lifetime: Steinbeck, Hemmingway, Orwell. And now? Malcolm Gladwell, the author of “Blink” He was recommended to me through a professor of mine and I’ve since read “Tipping point”, “Outliers”, and now “Blink”. All three are wonderful books, so with that, let’s get started.

What’s it about?

“Blink” is an adventure book that delves into the unconscious mind. It explains specifically the question of “trusting our gut”. What I like about Malcolm Gladwell is he uses research to illustrate his points. He will go over case over case until his question is clearly illustrated. He’s analytical without being dry. If you’ve ever wondered why you make the decisions you make and have a “hunch” then this book is for you. As you read further into the book, the bigger picture becomes clearer and clearer. My favorite part was when he went over mind reading towards the end of the book. So if you say mind reading is impossible, you might want to give this book a go.

My Recommendation

Read it! It’s such a fun book. Not only is it fun but it’s a thinking man’s (or woman’s) book. Malcolm Gladwell has yet to disappoint. The writing is quality, the humor good, and the interesting subject material aplenty. So go on, give this book a spin and yell at me if you’re disappointed.


Where to Buy?

I literally do all my shopping on amazon (thank you amazon student), so here’s a link: Blink

Comments?

Already read Blink or have questions? Comment below and start a discussion, recommend it or say it’s terrible, whatever you want, just be polite!

Business, personal, Recommendation

The Power of Context: Life isn’t a one size fits all label

Ever heard the phrase “it’s the little things that matter most”? Of course you have, unless you’ve lived under a rock your entire life; no judgments here. Is it true? Yes, yes it is. That’s not to say big moments don’t matter but it’s often the little moments that add up and create big moments. So why then, as human beings, are we stuck in a vicious cycle of oversimplifying the complexities of life? We can say criminals are evil but that’s an easy answer that doesn’t add up. If I volunteer on the weekends, I’m perceived as a good person. As flattering as that is, that’s a generalization. So what makes everything add up, where you can say, “oh, now that makes a lot of sense”? Well, my friends, it’s context. We are not always good and we are not always evil. Context explains why “good” people do “bad” things and “bad” people do “good” things.

Why Context Matters:

Context matters because it allows us to make better sense of the world. Instead of saying someone did something out of “character”, we can analyze and break down what they did and why they did it. When we make generalizations, we are left scratching our heads. If I’m perceived as a good person people will dismiss when I do something out of line, or worse, change their view of who I am with this one instance. If, for example, I call someone a “bad” name, rather than trying to understand the context and what lead to the name calling, they can simply say I’m a “bad” person. And due to personal bias, once they make this new assumption, they will look for anything that will reaffirm their new belief that I am a “bad” person. Yet, flip the story around. Let’s say I compliment that person and reaffirm their world views. Then I am a “good” person. So, simple. Just be a “good” person. This would work in a perfect world. Yet what as human beings do we tend to do? We focus on the negative. We are hard-wired to do so. Everyone wants to feel as though they have worth and we seek this through the approval of our peers. Humans are social creatures, so it makes sense. In a perfect world, we would be 100% intrinsically motivated and not care what others thought of us, but once again, we do not live in a perfect world. So back to my previous example. We can have a thousand positive interactions with an individual yet it only takes one moment to destroy a relationship. Does this seem logical? No, yet we do it all the time. We hold grudges and we put up walls. So an understanding of context in a sense can overwrite what we are hard-wired to do and make forgiving others much easier.

Asking the right questions:

A question we don’t ask enough is why. Such a simple question yet so powerful. Why is a question of trying to understand context. It encourages discussion and facilitates results. It not only helps you understand the situation better but shows appreciation of the other party. Ask why enough times and you have an answer. Instead of “good” or “bad” we get “Oh, I never saw it that way” or “Oh, that makes a lot of sense”. That’s the power of understanding context. It’s understanding. Context encourages us to break down labels and try to understand the other person on a situation-by-situation basis. “Heat of the moment” now makes a lot more sense. So go ahead, ask the question “why” and let the results speak for themselves.

Business, Recommendation, Self Improvement

A Key to Success: to tell a…

So , there are many ways to be successful. This happens to be what’s worked best for me and I truly believe if you do this you can find success wherever that might be. What is it? It’s learning how to tell a good story.

Yes, from the dawn of time we have been story tellers. A story can take any form, it can be a painting, a photo, a blog post, literally anything. Let me clarify, just because you have something to say doesn’t make it a story. A story is a process of organizing information, tailoring a message to your specific audience. This audience can be yourself or others. We are constantly absorbing new information and this information is just noise until we break down the noise and organize. So what do stories need?

Stories need focus

One story at a time. Yes we have a lot to say and want to say it all at once, but this almost always ends in disaster. You end up having too much to say and end up spreading yourself too thin. You end up jumping from topic to topic and lose the interest of your audience.

Stories need a message

There is no point in telling a story if it doesn’t have a message. People want application. A story without a message is simply put, a waste of everyone’s time. You don’t tell a joke without a punchline and the same applies here.

Stories need to matter

You must tailor your story to your audience. Some stories are best left untold if they don’t add value to the other person. That’s not to say the story doesn’t matter, but it might be a story for another day and a different audience. If you find value in the story, great, that’s your own personal story. This said, my advice is try to find universal interests to frame your stories. Like, for example, everyone can relate to wanting to feel valued, to know that they have worth. You can tell many stories from this frame, whether that be giving advice through a blog or telling someone how much you appreciate their work and listing specifics.

So there you have it, a simple guide on what stories are and what to watch out for so you’re not giving people word vomit. I would like to note that this post is just one story. There very well has probably been another blogger who’s written about telling stories and reached a completely different outcome. Life isn’t about right or wrong, it’s about valuing the differences! Now go out and tell your story (or stories) whatever that (those) may be! Thanks for reading!

Business, Recommendation, Review

Good to Great Review: Is it worth a buy?

So “Good to Great”,  was it good or was it great? Well, that’s a tough call. As an “essential” business book I found it a little meh when compared to the works of Stephen Covey and Dale Carnegie. Th basic premise behind “Good to Great” is that in order to make the leap from good to great, a company must have “disciplined people, disciplined thought, and disciplined action”. It’s a fun idea and what I liked is the book found this information through extensive research into companies. For that fact alone it’s worth a read. This is a data driven book that tries (and largely succeeds) to marry the data to “universal rules”. I thought Jim Collins was a good author, being honest and transparent in his language. He does tend to repeat a lot of the concepts but for the most part I never felt like it was going in circles. So what’s my recommendation?

Recommendation: Worth a Buy, but I’d definitely wait until you’ve read some other “essential” business books. The book can get dry at times but there’s a lot of good material to read. Can also apply what you learn to your everyday life (although not to the same extent as “7 Habits” and “How to Win Friends”).

Note: I listened to the audible version, which was fun because Jim Collins himself narrated it and added extra snippets that weren’t in the original book. As far as content, there are a few diagrams which couldn’t be shown that are in the book but that Jim Collins took the time to describe in detail. As far as using this book as a reference, I would most likely recommend the hard cover.

Recommendation, Self Improvement

Two steps forward, one step back

So here’s an idea. Everyone knows the old saying, “one step forward, two steps back”, right? Well, I say let’s challenge that. Life comes down to perspective. Let’s break down the saying itself. Who in their right mind has ever taken one step forward and two steps back? No one. Isn’t it more likely for a person to take two steps forward and one step back (maybe to turn in a new direction). That makes sense. Why would you ever believe a saying that doesn’t even make literal sense? It’s a logical fallacy.

Moving Forward:

The first step – As it goes, the first step is getting started. If we want to get anywhere, we must take the initial step. This step is the foundation. The first step allows us to take the second step. If we only take the first step, we get nowhere.

The second step – In a perfect world, I’d say that the first step is just as important as the second step. That it comes down to perspective and that it really depends based on the situation. It doesn’t. The second step will always be more important than the first step. That said, without the first step the second step would never exist. The second step is what pushes us further. It is putting the decision in motion and giving us a taste of what to expect.

One step back – This is the turning point, the point where you choose whether or not to take the third, forth, five, etc. step. Think of it as a pivot, it’s not really a step back but rather a rotation, a change in priority, even a change in purpose.

So there you have it, a fun little musing of a common saying. I plan to do more of these “common sayings perspective shifts” but until then go take a few steps into the unknown. Learn from your mistakes  and you’ll always be moving forward. Thanks for reading!