The Number of the Beast

How did the last four days go? As it happens, not bad at all.

Valheim’s overriding hook, for me at least, is that I’m the one in charge. Animal Crossing got frustrating because you’re constantly chasing an aesthetic that someone else dictates, and with the best will in the world you need some peril, after a while. Just collecting stuff gets boring, trust me I know. This game has just enough toolkit to keep it interesting, will kill you if you don’t pay attention, and doesn’t try to be anything it isn’t. It’s effectively Minecraft as Purgatory: I hope Hell does look as good as this because the sunrises and sunsets are fucking breathtaking.

As I’m no longer a games journo there won’t be any Guides either, this is happening as a way to untangle my brain in a period of very high stress. Suffering some very unfortunate fatalities is a reminder this morning that the second major boss isn’t happening for quite some time, until there’s far better armour, consumables and lots more practice. However, as a displacement activity, with player housing and combat, it is pretty much perfect, and I suspect those people playing this in PvP will be having a whale of a time.

I need to build a Raft as a matter of some urgency…


I am one of many adults who enjoy PokemonGo as a mobile game. It served a useful purpose as coping strategy and relaxation up until I started having mental issues back in January, and the cessation of playtime roughly coincided with my acceptance of needing help and the subsequent counselling. That means I’m now back in the saddle: yes I spent 10 quid to update my wardrobe and buy some useful items.

Assuming that the release of the Harry Potter game will have altered this game world a bit, there are now far more Gyms and Pokestops in this area than was previously the case. It will hopefully make my task of catching up that bit easier, especially as I can legitimately combine step counts with research.¬†I’ve become very good at grinding video game progression over the years. This is no different.


Doing things that make me happy is a GOOD THING.¬†That’s a part of my equation that has been missing for a while. When you’ve gamed for forty years plus, knowing that you’re most content when it’s doing summat like this is an important acknowledgement. There is no shame or fear in being the person who plays games to relax. So, if you’ll excuse me, I have some eggs to hatch… :D

Big Time

Welcome to the first day of a new world. I’ve been promising myself that at some point I’ll stop fucking about, simply pretending to do this writing lark. Inspired by various friends who are making significant life changes and forging new careers for themselves later in life, I knew this was the moment. I think we’re in a position to make something¬†stick.

2017 Schedule.png

I’m never going to be a streamer. You and I both know I do my best work when not stuck up the front, after¬†consideration and planning is allowed. Therefore, I’m pushing the personal agenda to the fore¬†for the first time in eight years. There’ll still be Warcraft posts, but I feel that maybe if I stop lying to you that’s what I’m really here for then it will be easier to cope with life myself. That means this place and my writing is getting sold more, and I’ll be pushing my remit further afield. You’ll see absolutely no changes on the Twitter feed however, that remains exactly as is. It’s simply a redefinition, albeit subtly, of the rest of the stuff behind it.


That means, going forward, I’ll be rearranging a lot of the back end, shifting project priorities and generally having a tidy up. This place, however, is now the key focus. I’m still writing a weekly Warcraft column and my stuff for the Community Mag but there will be days now when there’s nothing on Twitter from that Blog except a link to a previous post.¬†The biggest trick in making time to write is prioritising what matters, after all. It also means I’ll be considering what is placed here with a bit more care in the months that follow, and to that end there’s already a boatload of planning to my right to support the change. However, for those of you who think this might mean there’ll be skimping on the fiction front, I’m here to reassure you that’s most definitely not the case.

The novel remains a major project and one of the reasons all this stuff’s being moved is to give me more time, not less. I’ve got my version of the book cover’s main graphic ‘in production’ right now and as soon as my commissioning artist is done I’ll be launching a section dedicated to it on my writing site as I go through the process of completion, editing and then attempting to find a publisher. That’s one of the goals from last year I’ve not hit, and until I do, we’re pushing forward with all speed. There will also be other projects: I’ve got a number of things sitting on the sidelines, I just need to organise myself away sufficiently to get them all moving, plus completion on the stuff that’s already started.


There you have it. Most people who are only here for the Warcraft jazz won’t take a blind bit of notice of this, and that’s just fine. If you want to support me in my venture? There will be ways and means going forward, but not just yet.¬†For now, we’ll do this for a while and get everything established, and once that’s done?

Anything is possible if I can do the work.

Ful Stop

I see I’m going to have to explain this to a few people. That’s fine, it is no big deal. I’ve not really discussed the details of my illness with you so, tell you what, let’s do that now.¬†

Anxiety is a big deal around these parts.


Being ‘not good enough’ is something I’ve carried about, in one form or another, since my teens. Taking the easy route, for a long time, was just how life happened. Only when I met my husband did life start being about better than that, but it is only in the last decade that I’ve really understood what the paralysis of fear and inability has wrought on my life. The whole exercise path has opened up an entirely new world for me to explore, but yesterday I was back in my teens.¬†My PT suggested a series of repetitions using gym equipment, that she thought I was capable of doing, but my brain said no. In the end I was in tears, after 20 minutes of fighting both mind and body simultaneously. I couldn’t do what was asked, even though my body was more than capable of the task.

Sometimes, I am my own worst enemy.


When you live so much in your own head, reality gets skewed. Because it is safer not to open your heart in case you get hurt, or simply hide yourself away because you feel people will not understand, there is potential for trouble. Inside your mind there is no failure or fault, and nobody will laugh at you if it all goes wrong. The problem with all of this internalising however is that when reality does happen, it can be difficult to live in both places simultaneously. The last few weeks on social media, with the terror of US Elections looming plus UK issues over Brexit and an increase in fascism as a concern… well, there’s a lot of people both unintentionally internalising and and quite deliberately externalising, all over my social media. This is, for many people, what they perceive as a ‘safe space’ for such things, but more importantly an opportunity for opinions to be heard, often by individuals who might have an influence on change.

It only occurred to me recently that I might be one of those people to others.


The problem I have is believing my own hype. I am well aware that as a result of things I have both written and said, things have changed in the World around me. However, this does not make me an Influencer in my own mind, that ‘label’ is somebody else’s to stick. I just sit here and write shit and occasionally, I hit a target. I don’t think there has been anything I really wanted to change that ever did, either, and that’s the point that gets lost in amongst all the hand wringing and navel gazing. I’ve never been able to make someone like my stuff, and it was never the intention for anyone to hate me. Those are the only two things that matter, in the end, and when it matters most you will not be capable of altering the world to the way you’d like it to be. I wanted a Remain vote but got Leave.¬†Bond’s never going to be a woman. The stuff that matters to me is so intractable, it’s just easier to live in my head for those things and not stress at all.

However, when I’m trying to be happy both inside and out and people won’t let that happen?


Yes, sometimes it’s an effort to be happy.¬†Fucking hell, people, anything worthwhile takes at least SOME notion of application. I can’t just eat chocolate and become a size 10. You don’t get good at gaming overnight. Maybe, if you grasp this, then understanding why making an effort to be positive is so fucking important, but NOPE that’s no on some people’s agenda. You’re only happy when it rains, when things are complicated and you’re stuck somewhere back in the mid 1990’s in your teens where everything was just so much easier. Well, newsflash Bucko, I did that midlife crisis and it fucking STANK so if you could just shut up and go away… and here’s the thing. Social media is two ways.¬†Otherwise they’d call it ‘listening in an echo chamber’ media and nobody would have the Internet to begin with. All those brilliantly helpful people with their open arms and open hearts who are willing me to greatness don’t need to be told this shit. YOU DO.

It isn’t about ignoring you either (though I’ll be honest, some of that has gone on when it becomes apparent that arguing is pointless.) You can only balance when there’s two sides to your scale, or if you have impeccable gravitational awareness, and lots of you can’t even turn on your brain before pressing Tweet, so no chance there. In these cases, I don’t say anything, yet compose Tweet after Tweet in that wee window before deleting every word, over and over again. Part of me wants to tell you how to be better, to put the record straight, to direct your misplaced perceptive reasoning to important shit like cats or memes. Then I stop, and breathe, and know that maybe the reason you did it is that you want just this, me to respond, in one of those ‘notice me Senpai’ moments. Then I remember that the good people don’t need any validation at all. They don’t check Twitter until they’re awake, if at all. Those are the people I need to emulate, and this month I am determined to do just that.

Moan all you like. I just made a choice to stop listening.

A Life of Surprises

My hair, up until last night, hadn’t been touched by a professional for coming up for 18 months. It’s no longer white, either.

That wasn’t the planned blonde however, FAR from it. The colour mix I chose (three blonde shades mixed) was formulated on a lavender base. The hairdresser assured me that the colour would vanish once the product was washed out…but it didn’t. Listening to two men quietly panic behind me as I sat happily at the bowls was, I will admit, quite amusing. You see, I wasn’t really that fussed, when all was said and done. My main concern was having more and more chemical piled on my hair, and that’s why I stuck with the colour I now have. For the longest time I’d asked if I could have this on my hair and every time I’d be told how hard it was to achieve. Basically, it was unattainable.

Sometimes, the unexpected does have a benefit.

Ironically, as a Pokemon player, yesterday evening was HUGELY productive too. Lots of balls back, new additions to the Pokedex, plus walking home last night I was able to do some rather satisfying Gym battles. I’ve even managed an achievement :D


I will, at no point, change the World with my Pokeplaying. I’m not like the cars full of 20-summat kids roaming the town taking down Gyms. I’m just here to have fun, and I’m doing that with space to spare.

The hair colour, on reflection, is an unexpected bonus.

China Girl

I went out with my husband and some friends of his a while back, to a concert at¬†our¬†town’s main venue. In conversation, my relationship with Twitter came up, especially in reference to the number of people I follow. My husband then was asked why he wasn’t nearly as prolific, and his answer was wonderfully simple: it was asking for trouble.¬†The rationale is really simple: when (for instance) you know there’s a fundamental differing of opinion between people you follow on the platform, a mental check goes on whenever Mr Alt decides he wants to respond to an issue. Will this offend someone I know?¬†If he’s at least in some way that¬†it could, he just doesn’t bother.¬†Confident enough in his own understanding of the place he lives and works in, it is not worth the effort if the result will be negative.

That’s the mental check every single person ought to do AS STANDARD.


Yesterday, someone quite prominent in the place I ‘work’ said something utterly inappropriate to a woman on a livestream. I¬†know for damn sure that¬†similar things have been said to women on TV, in interviews and on dance floors across the planet, and to men too, regardless of either gender assignment or sexual preference. In fact, at any point where someone has found someone else attractive and considered sexytimes with them in their heads? This thought process will have taken place. Talking about this at a Film premi√®re for a movie aimed (at least in part) at a teenage market may not be considered a totally appropriate place for this context. Saying it whilst representing an organisation that markets a bunch of T for Teen games and are about to bring out a YT set of novels is probably a bit iffy to boot. However, for me at least, these are the least of the issues. Considering how stringent this organisation normally is for vetting questions from the public? To allow a host to be that crass and inappropriate just shows that sections of¬†Nerd Culture are indeed still wanking in dark corners after several decades, and that someone failed to reinforce the point that professionalism beats edgy buffoonery, pretty much every single damn time.

Look, everybody does it, but nobody cares. That is of course until you mention women masturbate too¬†and then everyone gets all flustered and doesn’t know where to look. But, I digress.


Once we get past all the moral indignation and hand-wringing, plus¬†the casual sexism,¬†misogyny¬†and cisgender¬†backlash, the fact remains that if you’d thought first and kept your fucking mouth shut, none of this would be a problem. Every issue, on every subject, will be solved by just keeping quiet.¬†Someone told me this morning in all seriousness that this isn’t the way forward because it means life will be boring and they’d then have to be productive, rather than trying to start an argument with anyone who wants one on social media, which is clearly far more entertaining.¬†The bigger problem is when people’s bigotry starts showing, over everything and anything, the moral indignation that social media amplifies and exacerbates. If you’d only be like my husband and temper your responses: would the world be boring? Would an increase in productivity and general harmony REALLY be a bad thing?

Of course it wouldn’t, but then you’d have nobody to mock, and THEN WHAT?


The only way things change is when the people who crave the oxygen are starved of it, and as soon as a fight breaks out all that happens is that certain people come along with cannisters full of O2. You can try and temper stupid, but when even the most morally strong are temptable, it ain’t happening. Then it’s damage control and the polls and the dissection of guilt, but mostly nobody cares, unless the person’s so morally repugnant they’re not considered worth saving. What does matter however, is if anyone changes as a result of the event.¬†Can you learn lessons and move on? Will this incident make you a better person? If that happens then maybe, just maybe there will be progress. However, that’s often a very big if.

Remember kids, every day is a school day, even if you refuse to be educated.


Of course, tomorrow nobody will care. However, those of us with long memories will stand, shake our heads and realise that however much some organisations might claim they’ve changed, nothing’s really moved forward at all in 20 years. That’s the bigger issue that still remains to be addressed.

Sort yourselves out, Dudebros ^^


Bicycle Race

Yesterday,  after much procrastination, I finally joined Zwift.

Husband is, of course, very much on the ‘virtual cycling’ bandwagon, but I’ve largely resisted the temptation until now. However, as part of the #28FitDays Challenge, I have decided to spend some time daily getting some extra calories burned and ‘levelling’ a character. That ‘ding’ you hear on the video? That’s me earning XP :D I did 14k as a starting point yesterday and actually, it was incredibly hard. However, so challenging was it that I’d like to think I could do 15k today and advance my XP bar a bit more: you earn kits at the granting of each new level so that people know how far you’ve pedalled. However, should I make it to L2 (which is 50k travelled) I’ll actually need to pay for a subscription.¬†That means I have until Tuesday to make a decision.


What makes this ‘game’ that more interesting, especially if you’re a cyclist, is that real-life pros use this system.¬†That means that there is a good chance that at any point you could be cycling alongside a man who’s a part of the Tour De France peloton or a professional woman cyclist. More significantly of all, people don’t hide their identities, quite the¬†opposite.¬†This is all about a level playing field that anybody of any ability can use and participate in. This system has the potential to effectively revolutionise all forms of static activity, and provide those who wish to train with an environment where like minded individuals not only participate together. but actively encourage each other to better achievements. Most significantly of all, if you decide to cheat (and there are ways to do just that) the only loser, ultimately, is yourself.¬†This is a ‘game’ where the reward, ultimately, is your own fitness and nobody else’s prestige or perception matters one iota.

That’s going to be a bitter pill for some long-term gamers to swallow.


My 15k a day (which is roughly 10 miles) will effectively double my current output of exercise, but doesn’t add to my step total (because, you know, NOT MOVING) but no matter, I can tell the Fitbit it is the rough equivalent of a Spinning Class (which is in some ways true) and I’ll still get the throughput. This¬†is to add some variety to my day, show my husband that I get how important cycling this is for him (and give him stuff to do in sorting the same static bike for two completely different body types) and to push HIM in turn to greater exercise goals, as he’s now into a completely new area in terms of weight loss.

I like the idea of combining technology and fitness, because for so many people gaming means sitting on your arse and NOT being active. Without going into a long and possibly divisive rant about how fitness matters regardless of body type and shape? You need to get up from your PC/Mac once in a while and not be staring at a screen. You just DO.

What you do when that happens? That’s up to you.