On Burnout, Video Games, and Why Escapism Isn’t All Bad

On Burnout, Video Games, and Why Escapism Isn’t All Bad

Yesterday, I woke up feeling exhausted.

It’s not a great feeling any day of the week, but it was exceptionally unappealing first thing on a Monday.

There wasn’t just one reason for it; we’d had a busy weekend, with birthday parties, a baby announcement, a long day of trying to get my excessive to-do list for our home done. 

There’d been a lot going on at work, to the point that I’d given up trying to keep track of what I was working on. 

It had been years since I actually let myself have a vacation, because even when I do take one, it’s with every intention of tackling big projects.

And it was all just sitting in my mind.

I was feeling burnt out.

It takes a long time for the effects of burnout to hit me, but when they do, it’s first thing on a Monday when I wake up and decide that I need a vacation before I’ve even gotten out of bed.

It’s something that we all experience from time to time, although at least for me, it’s easy to brush it aside and think it’s not a big deal.

It’ll go away if I have enough coffee and just do nothing when I get home, right?

But unfortunately that’s not usually how it works. That usually leads to it getting worse, at which point I lose all interest in doing anything at all.

That’s why I love video games.

Usually, when you read about how video games tie in with an attitude of escapism, it’s a negative thing. People use it to escape their daily lives, live out a fantasy, yadda yadda.

It’s absolutely true, and I don’t think it’s such a bad thing.

For me, at least, that attitude of escapism helps mental health. It’s a mini-vacation when that burnout strikes, and I have to wait a few weeks before I can take a vacation. (I have to give a month’s notice, and I’m terrible at planning that far ahead.)

That’s why I love video games so much. They’re my form of self-care, a way to get out of my head and reset, so I can at least try to tackle the day—and all the things I want to get done—with a modicum of sanity.

And even when one of my games starts to feel more like work than play with an endless grind of daily activities that I need to do if I want to progress (not pointing any fingers), there are more waiting for me with open arms.

Now it’s your turn. Why do you love video games?

Into the Night: My First Impression of Shadowbringers

Into the Night: My First Impression of Shadowbringers

So! Now that you’ve seen what I thought of Shadowbringers in the 10 days before Shane and I started the story, let me tell you about my experiences with the expansion itself!

Fair warning: I’m going to do my best to avoid spoilers, but there may be mild, unintentional ones below.

First of all, holy moly the map size.

The first thing I noticed when I reached the first city was just how massive the map is. You can tell how far we’ve come in terms of computing power since the days of A Realm Reborn, for sure.

Kholusia, for example, instead of being three maps with their own aetherytes like you’d see in the original areas, is all one map with three aetherytes.

Same with the Crystarium, which I’m pretty sure in any other expansion would have been at least a two-zone city like Uldah.

The actual design is absolutely stunning.

I know I can be a little biased in terms of overexposed photos, which is basically what the entire world of Norvrandt is, but still. The party my eyes held when I saw the Crystarium for the first time was real.

I was entirely sure that I wanted the new housing area for Shadowbringers to be in Ishgard until I saw that beautifully shabby-chic, mildly steampunk city and let me tell you.

Every part of my heart that loves brick-walled lofts and exposed beams hopes that’s what we get.

The story is by far my favourite.

This is the first time Final Fantasy has ever let the player act as the Warrior of Darkness instead of Light, so my expectations were high for the story going in.

I’m maybe 10 quests in or so, and so far, it’s exceeding every expectation I had.

No spoilers, just…it’s amazing. Heartbreaking, but well, that’s just Final Fantasy, isn’t it?

I can’t wait to see what else is in store with Shadowbringers, and I also can’t wait to share more of it with you! I especially want to dig into the new build for my machinist, so stay tuned for that soon.

Have you played Shadowbringers? What do you think so far?

Before the Dark: My Pre-Shadowbringers Experience

Before the Dark: My Pre-Shadowbringers Experience

So as you may have ascertained from my unhappy outburst a week and a half ago, I wasn’t able to play the early access of Shadowbringers like Shane and I had planned. It’s always been something we play together, so I wasn’t very well going to go ahead and play without him when we were both so excited.

But after a very long 10 days, he has his account back, and can officially play! 

Sidebar: For those of you who are familiar with NBC’s The Good Place, that is how we’ll be swearing in-game from now on if we have to after that whole debacle.

So today, I’m sharing a two-part series on the latest expansion for Final Fantasy XIV—both the experience I had in the 10 days before we could access it, and the full day and a bit I’ve had of actually playing it.

So buckle up, it’s gonna be a fun ride!

My pre-Shadowbringers experience

Obviously, there are a few parts of the game I was able to experience before we actually got to the expansion. The first bit of new content I ran into?

The new races

Full disclosure: I spent close to a week in anticipation of Shadowbringers booting the benchmark, just so I could tweak the design I’d made for a Viera version of Diana. I was that excited.

I knew from my brief, second-hand experience with Final Fantasy XII—and the fact that its matching PS4 theme is basically a bunch of bunny person bottoms—that the Viera were very likely going to be pretty heavy on the fan service. 

And in the cases of many of those who were cavorting around Limsa Lominsa within an hour of early access, that was completely true.

But what I really like about the new Viera—and why I couldn’t wait to turn my character into one—is the way they were actually designed. As Shane explained to me, the Viera are basically the Final Fantasy version of DC’s idea of Amazons; a strong, powerful, matriarchal society. And for all their femininity (including the fact that they’re the only race in the game with a halfway decent smoky eye), I really think they embody that ideal.

I would honestly not be surprised to learn that they had been modeled after Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, they have that same subtle strength to them.

As for the Hrothgar, I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to them until Shane pointed out to me that they’re basically Kimahri from FFX. But even so, I think it would have been better if they’d made male Viera as well, since they are technically canon in FFX and in terms of FFXIV, Hrothgar are basically a cross of Roegadyn and Miqo’te anyway.

The new classes

Before Shadowbringers came out, I was absolutely in love with the dancer. I remember watching a video of the gameplay released after a demo a while back, and as someone who already mains the only two ranged DPS classes in the game, I was sure a third would be right up my alley.

I was a little surprised to learn that of the two, gunbreaker is my favourite so far. Maybe I just need practice with the dancer, but it seemed to be a lot lighter in damage than I was hoping, especially given the revamp machinist just got.

After leveling paladin to 70, though, I found that gunbreaker is a welcome boost in damage dealt, without sacrificing its own shielding abilities. 

As far as I’m concerned, it seems like the best of paladin’s large-scale crowd control and area of effect, with the damage and sturdiness of a warrior.

The class overhaul

I know a lot of people are unhappy with the changes made to some classes and skills, as a few hours watching the Novice Network chat told me. But let me be unpopular opinion puffin for a second and say that so far, I really like the changes.

Sure, I was sad that paladin lost Flash, and has to rely on other abilities I don’t know yet. But overall, I think it’s going to make the playability of super-combo-dependent classes like dragoon a lot easier.

The new housing items

It wouldn’t really be a blog post from me about FFXIV if it didn’t include some talk of housing. And honestly, it’s been a while since we got a big addition of housing items like we did for Shadowbringers.

My favourites by far are the new marble partition and archway, because for me they replace space-consuming stage panels and are actually the first doorway we’ve gotten that allow you to dye the whole partition.

A close second is the new simple curtains, just because they look classy as heck.

I’m still exploring everything that was added, but overall, it feels like it was all to help those of us who are far too into interior design create a realistic, modern setting for ourselves.

Now…are you ready for part 2 of this series, where I go into my experience with the actual content of the expansion? Don’t worry, I’ll do my best to avoid spoilers!

My Adventures in Building a Gaming PC for the First Time

My Adventures in Building a Gaming PC for the First Time

If you’re familiar with my adventures in computers, you probably know that they usually have…interesting endings, to say the least. A year and a half ago, it started with a misadventure in upgrading my video card, only to discover after a jarringly unpleasant game of League that it wasn’t compatible with the rest of my PC (despite being the supposedly included card). And not long after that, there was a keyboard that had a deathwish for my character in FFXIV.

I can’t really blame the computer, because both of those are avoidable situations. 

However, when my poor old PC Tony started dying about six months ago, it wasn’t really an avoidable situation. It started bluescreening multiple times a day with no apparent explanation, only deigning to tell me that the hardware was just old.

Helpful.

Now, when this started, I was perfectly happy just carrying on. I was sure it would stop, that it was just a bad patch or something. It wasn’t.

So after three more months of near-constant bluescreening, knowing that we wouldn’t really be able to replace parts in it after what happened last time, I finally listened to Shane and decided it was time to look into getting a new PC.

The hunt for a new computer

The biggest issue I had with looking for a new computer, and the biggest reason why I had happily been turning the other cheek to Tony’s mini heart attacks, was that they are expensive. I learned my lesson years ago about buying a standard-issue gaming computer from a box store, and I wasn’t keen to repeat the experience.

So I had a few options. I could look into a place that would build gaming PCs and offer financing, or we could buy the pieces ourselves and let Shane’s computer-building expertise come to the rescue.

We did look pretty seriously into one place in the States that would do financing for gaming PCs, almost ordering one before realizing that the financing wasn’t available for Canada. So we didn’t do that. Instead, we headed to a local computer parts store and started stocking up.

Piece by piece, as things went on sale, Shane and I started collecting what we’d need to build me a tower. And last week, just in time for Shadowbringers, we picked up the last piece.

Baby’s first PC build

When I bought my first gaming tower, I distinctly remember not wanting to build because I wouldn’t know where to begin, and I wasn’t willing to spend that much money and have it all go sideways.

After building my PC with Shane, I am glad I made that decision, because I would not have known where to start.

Shane, as an actual PC gamer and not just someone who’s happy if it boots when they press the button (not a specific example), knows a lot about how to put together a computer that works incredibly well, from picking the right parts to creating good air flow and everything in between. He was really patient with me through the whole process of building my new computer, hereafter referred to as Veronica in honour of the Hulkbuster suit, showing me exactly how to put it all together and what I’d need to do to take care of it.

He also rescues me very regularly from inadvertently murdering houseplants, but that’s a story for another day. Suffice it to say he’s good at taking care of things.

Now that I’ve learned the finer points of how not to mess up things like installing a CPU, building a computer doesn’t seem so bad. But don’t test me on it!

Putting it to t​​​​he test

When we started building Veronica, the hope was that we could have it done in time for Shadowbringers. And once we’d put it all together, I naturally needed to boot up the benchmark, just to see how it would do. 

It doubled Tony’s score.

Unfortunately, though, after what’s a bit of a long story involving a petty person intentionally rubbing Shane the wrong way in FFXIV and getting him a 10-day suspension, I’ll have to wait a few more days to see how it does with the new worlds. Main story has been something he and I do together in that game since Day 1, and I’m not about to change that now.

In the meantime, I’ll try to figure out where to stash all my Sims 4 CC and other files. And hopefully next week, I’ll be able to do a review on all things Shadowbringers!

Have you ever tried building a PC? Would you?

Behind the Scenes: What’s Going On at the Girly Geek

Behind the Scenes: What’s Going On at the Girly Geek

There has been a lot going on in my life lately, and it’s gotten to the point where I almost can’t write an individual post about everything! And with my most highly anticipated game (well, kind of) coming out this week, I thought I’d take some time today to tell you all about the new and exciting things in the World of Erin. 

So first of all…

Shadowbringers is coming!

Yeah, this is what I meant by my most highly anticipated game. It’s not a game so much as an expansion, but as those of you who know my deeply-rooted obsession with Final Fantasy XIV may know, Shadowbringers is coming out next week. I may or may not have gone for the preorder bonus, which means we’ll be playing early access this Friday!

I have no idea what to expect, because this is actually the first time I’ve been part of an expansion like this (I don’t count Sims expansions because let’s be real, I mostly use them for the building items). But I’m super excited to play, and to see what you guys think of it too!

Which leads nicely into my next point.

We built a new PC

I don’t know how much of this I’ve really talked about, but my poor old PC, Tony—yes, named for Iron Man—has been struggling lately. It’s been blue-screening a lot, and sometimes while I’m in game with nothing else running in the background.

I can’t really be mad about it, because it’s an out-of-the-box gaming PC from like eight years ago with a cheap version of the motherboard and video card that definitely are not what’s supposed to be in there. We tried to replace the video card once. Once. Just to find out what we were putting in was actually what it was supposed to come with but definitely did not.

So after a few months of scrimping and going to the local computer store to pick up a piece at a time, Shane taught me how to build my very own, very fancy gaming computer! I’m really looking forward to putting it to work with Shadowbringers this weekend; so far, at least according to the benchmark, it’s doing twice as well as my poor lil computer.

The new PC, named Veronica for what Tony Stark named his Hulkbuster suit because it’s a heck of a lot bigger and more powerful, is currently sitting very awkwardly on my desk, so I’m hoping early next week I’ll have found a good setup for it and can share the whole PC build experience with you guys.

And now, as for what I’ve been working on lately.

The Girly Geek has a new look

Well, okay. I’m not changing much about how the site itself looks, but a week or so ago I made a few presets in Lightroom for Girl Boss Academy, and I just loved them so much that I’m starting to use them on my own feed. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love my blue filter that looks like stained glass to me, so I’m still going to be using it in key places across the site. But I’m excited to do something different with my Instagram account; I’ve been using the same filter since I ‘fessed up to losing my job last March, over a year ago, and it’s time for a new milestone in what I love to do.

I’m also working on new content

My biggest creative issue in general is that I come up with a billion ideas and then run out of time and coffee to make them all happen. So that’s something I’m really trying to work on this year, putting in the time and effort and choosing the projects I think I can get done.

I’ve got some big plans for the Academy, and a lot of ideas currently in progress—including a couple of beginner and intermediate blogging series for starting a geeky blog! I’m hoping to have the first few videos out in the next few months, so stay tuned.

And lastly…

I went to a Facebook event

Many of you know that my day job is in marketing, and specifically social media. So when I found out that Facebook was holding a free training event in Toronto yesterday, I managed to get permission from work to go for the day!

It was a super cool experience, and I’m hoping later this week I’ll be able to write up and share what I learned with you guys. Basically I just need it to be sunny, so I can take pictures to go along with it.

That’s it from me for now! What’s been going on in everyone’s lives lately?