Raiding Saved My Life

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Blogging

Leading image is credited to CerezaMura from Sargatanas. This was my raid team prior to stopping FFXIV yet again last year.

With the release of World of Warcraft Classic (WoWC), I was inspired to write this article. Consider this part assertion of what I am/do, part informative/entertaining article and a bit of an apology. Also note, I won’t play WoWC, as I already have too much on my plate, as well as that I have the firm belief that I only have time for one subscription-based game at the moment. All I have to say is that if I do decide to pick up this game and play Final Fantasy XIV (FFXIV) at the same time, just say goodbye to most of my content creation.

One of the reasons why I started Gamers on FIRE was to make a career out of video games. That could fall into the stream of content creation (IE: videos, streaming, etc.), making games, or even being a community manager/public relations for a game I really enjoyed playing! I wasn’t sure how to make it, but I figured this would be a good stepping stone for that goal.

Did you know that I started streaming because of raiding? Let me tell you more.

Getting into Raiding

For those of you not familiar with the concept of raiding, it is endgame content in MMORPGs. This usually involves an instance where players have to kill this really big bad boss for loot, usually high-end gear or fancy titles and achievements. This is very prominent in games like WoWC and FFXIV. It involves high Damage Per Second (DPS) checks, mechanical jump rope and a good understanding of your class’ fundamentals. If a player messes up on their damage rotation, they can essentially screw the whole raid over just because the whole party doesn’t even meet damage requirements. It can kill all of the players involved, whether that be 8-man content or 24-man content (although more players could mean more leniency, but I have never played WoW, so don’t take my word for it). If a tank doesn’t understand how boss aggression (or aggro for short) works, he could have the boss hit the entire party because the boss decided to turn around and smack the person doing the most damage (and thus making said boss angry). If someone did not perform a mechanic, not only will it kill them, it will cause complications for the party later on.

With all of this in mind, I started recording my raid sessions so that I could start improving as a player. I couldn’t figure out a good way of keeping a recording but I found out that if I streamed to Twitch, it would save the replay for me and I could download it later for my own analysis. In fact, you can find one such recording here! (Will that mean I’ll use my YouTube channel more? Maybe! Stay tuned!) This concept wasn’t new to me; I recorded my own demos back when I was a competitive player for Team
Fortress 2
. I soon realized I could just stream for (mostly my own) entertainment, so I just started doing that. That was fun. Eventually, work and school got in the way so I had to stop any form of competitive play and cut back on a lot of gaming.

Life goes On

Eventually I did finish university. I’ve already covered this before, but everything about me was driven by video games. I found the love of my life through video games, my job path was driven by video games and now I wanted to make my life around video games. This could be done by working towards cutting back on working time (and not worry about money) and funding my video game addiction by generating passive income. First I needed to free myself of any financial obligations, however. I decided to finish my last two years of school with help from the military so now I owe the government four years of my life. It can’t be that bad; I’ve already been in five years at this point as a reservist! At least at this point my life I had done two things: a) get out of school (mostly) debt-free and b) secure myself a cool job with good benefits (really, the military has some cool health benefits and other things)

After I settled into my new place, the newest expansion for FFXIVStormblood, just came out. A month or so after that, the hardest content for the game at the time gets released and I’m itching to raid again. I also found out that my fiance also raided in the game and we were able to raid together. We opted to get a group together, so we got ourselves a bunch of friends (mostly his) and started recruiting. Things were looking good.

Trouble Was Brewing

We finally got ourselves a raid group! My fiance and I were flex players because we had leveled a class in each role of Tank, Healer and DPS. Problem was that we were both DPS mains, and of the same class too! However, since my group also consisted of my fiance’s friends and they had raided together before, they opted for him to be the DPS and I’ll be tanking. So I got stuck learning something completely new. No problem. I like learning new things, but I was a bit slower because I wasn’t familiar with not only mechanics but also class fundamentals. We were progressing well, until the third fight of the tier where things started to get rough in mechanics. I was also still new-ish to raiding, since I’ve only done two raids in FFXIV, while the rest of the group raided together for a whole expansion. I could already tell that they were getting impatient because I was just that slow in learning, not to mention the group had some temper/ego issues when the going gets tough.

Meanwhile work had started to wear down on me. The initial training period was about three years to complete, starting once I settled into my new place. What really bites was that the format was very similar to university. University was super tough on me; I nearly quit on my 4th year and it took me seven years to complete! To experience another three years of that was just… dumb. What anxiety nightmares I had in university now became a reality. One of these examinations I had to do was to stand in front of the room and regurgitate all of my knowledge out by memory. The evaluators were also senior officers. The anxiety and shame of actually performing really badly got to me. It was so bad that I managed to make a prophecy came true and I failed my first evaluated attempt. It was very upsetting and this all came during that progression into the third fight.

While we did eventually clear the third, started progressing on the fourth fight of the tier and I did pass my oral evaluation, things were not looking up. While my co-tank and I were able to work it out, Iwas having trouble trying to hold aggro from the DPS since I was the one initiating the fight. One of the DPS started yelling at me, one of my fiance’s friends. I’m sure he meant well, but my brain wasn’t connecting it. I asked for advice about my role from other friends as well; I was doing most things right, just needed to cast more things and that the yelling wasn’t necessary. We even tried swapping roles where I was DPSing and my fiance was tanking. I did everything a depressed person should NOT do during this time: withdrawing from the group, getting very angry at myself and beating myself up for it, not asking for help, and ghosting. There were many nights where I decided to go off by myself into town and drink my sorrows away. I came home late because I wanted to avoid being at home, even missing raid nights. It got so bad that when I finally did withdraw from the group, I started pestering my fiance while he was raiding with them. I started having thoughts that I wasn’t welcome in the group. I even started thinking of plans of starting to live homeless, bouncing from place to place just because I thought I was useless.

Eventually I made a decision to become a better person and seek some help and therapy. I also decided to dedicate more of my time towards my work.

Revelation

In September of 2019, I finally got posted to a ship. It was a dream come true! I always wanted to be on board of an actual war vessel! My unit just got reactivated so they had to do a lot of things to prepare for deployment. I was only a junior officer; despite my persona was. I don’t know anything! The rank I was at, Sub-Lieutenant, means you literally knew nothing and you were treated as such. That’s unfortunately one of the few things that I didn’t like about the Navy, where your rank does give you some clout about who you are as a person. (I’m not sure about the Army or the Air Force, but I heard they don’t treat you like that. Junior air force officers even get to have a whole section to themselves… What a joke.) What was funnier was that I was certain I was treated better as an Ordinary Seaman (or Private for you Army folks) than in my current position! Because of this, I was often relegated to sitting on the sidelines and watch. That actually hurt me to the core; I knew they mean well for safety and for efficiency. That hurt me to the core as I highly valued helping other people out; this was the reason why I decided to serve. Not only that, I really hated this because it also forced me to treat others as if they were stupid because they were of lower rank. While it was understandable that it’s the middle of the night, your subordinates were somewhat brain-dead because they had a long night and needed some hard prodding to get them moving, it was not right to completely assume they were stupid. I place a lot of value in trusting my Subject Matter Experts; they know what they’re doing and they do it well! I would let them run things unless they need some guidance on what I needed done.  (I was later told that this was only for evaluations, and in-real life this isn’t really it. I’m not buying it.)

If I actually went sailing... Maybe this would've happened.

I knew something was wrong when I came back to work one day, while on vacation, I sat alone in the lounge broken while waiting for another evaluation. I wanted this evaluation done so badly that I had to come in on my own time to get it done. I passed that evaluation with flying colors but I felt empty inside. The fact was that I started sleeping heavily once I came home from work, to mask the anger and pain I was feeling. I lost all interest in doing anything I wanted to do at that point. If I let this sunk any further, I might have allowed myself to get hit by a car sooner or later.

I had to be super honest for myself. I missed raiding and competitive games, and I missed playing video games in general. I wanted to help people towards doing things they wanted to do and I thought guiding people towards being the best they could be through a medium like video games was the way to do it. I wanted to give them the best experience of their lives, somehow, even though I wasn’t good at the games I’m playing. However on the work side, there was nothing wrong. Nothing wrong with the people, or the culture (despite what everyone else is saying), the job was cool and fun and I had finally gotten to the point in my military career where I was about to do the one thing I signed up for. Something in my core was shaken and broken and it didn’t resonate with the work me anymore. The two halves of me were in conflict with each other. One side of me was deeply afraid of going off the deep end; the end where I abandon a good job with benefits with no certainty of my future. The other me was ready to shoot myself first in the foot then at the head. One thing for sure was: I don’t want to lose the game of Life.

The Life Changing Decision

This was really hard to write. It really is. I’ve thought about it for a long time and I finally put in my papers to quit. It’s scary, but I think it was the for the best. I do have lingering regrets about not following through on my bucket list in my military career but it is what it is.

As for my raiding party back then, I apologize for my behavior. I really do wish it could have been better and I could’ve been a better person. You guys made a difference my life and I needed to remind and forgive myself. I know there’s one of you that we didn’t get along well. I’m sorry. I wish I could tell you how I felt. I knew you meant well but I wasn’t in the right place at the time and I wish I could have communicated better. I’m glad you’re doing well and I hope you’re doing well wherever you are.

It seems after all of this, I wrote this for myself. I’ll be honest, this was my way of letting go. The biggest takeaway from this is that you shouldn’t be afraid of what you’re going to do next.  Also, get help. Talking to friends (online or real), or your family can help you validate your feelings on the matter, and even kick you in the butt to do something about it. However, that alone isn’t enough. I almost killed myself doing this. I had to seek help. Keep moving forward and live in the hope that things will look better.

I sincerely hope this helped you. Has there any been any moments in gaming where you realized that you needed to kick yourself in the butt? Personally, I think this was the best decision I have done.

Life as a Game

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Fundamentals and Concepts

Here’s a short complimentary video. It’s my first one doing it for blogs. I won’t do it for every blog nor will every vlog will have a blog post. Let me know what you think! If you don’t like video scroll all the way down.

It was a hot day. The platoon stood in absolute silence as their drill instructor sighed, irritated by whatever news his colleague gave. Some recruits were pale as ghosts as they tried to hide the fact that they were wriggling in their boots. The recruits were exhausted, having been woken up for an early run followed by the last three hours of drill instruction. They were interrupted when another staff member came to the instructor and whispered something in his ears. Whatever it was, it was among hushed lips. He gave out a very loud sigh and marched briskly back to his place in front of the platoon. He was not a man who would berate his own troops. It was back to business, starting with more loud instructions. Little did the recruits know that they had their barracks turned upside down, beds flipped and stuffed overall dummies made just because someone had forgotten to lock their closet.

This sounded like it was a scene from Full Metal Jacket. It sort of is, but this actually happened to my platoon a couple of times when I took basic training when I first enlisted in the navy. In my ten years that I had been around, I had heard the same comments from various people, first when I was a Non-Commissioned Member, then as a strapping young junior Officer. “Basic (training) is really just a game. Play by their rules and you’ll see yourself through.”

How does this relate to video games or even early retirement? I did not see my life as a giant magical picture, instead I saw it as a real MMO. That’s right. I went there. Real Life WAS the first real massive multiplayer online game. Instead of being a knight in shining armor that took Kill X Monster quests, I was the protagonist taking the journey to become something. Life was The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, but set in the world of today and I was not an adult awaiting execution. The game started from when I was conceived in my mommy’s womb.

How I Came Up with this Philosophy

I never thought that the conversation about Basic Training would be important in my life. What was stranger was that I believed in this since I started becoming super competitive on Mario Kart 64. I had no idea how to put my ideas together not to mention how put it into words. That conversation finally put the words that I needed to lay out how I functioned in life.

Most things in life can be explained by certain game mechanics. Most tasks you had to do throughout in life is like quests in famous RPGs. Any big tumultuous moment in life can be a boss battle you had to go through. Doing stupid things often had consequences, where this world’s equivalent to walking in front of a high level monster was like pissing off a biker at a bar. You earned money like a reward for doing tasks, similar to working. Interaction with other people seemed like a real life party finder at times. Also, whatever skills you needed to level, like cooking and writing, had to be worked on. This sounded like a real MMO to me. Does this make you wonder if you’re now like the character in your favorite MMO? Inception!

Think of playing The Game of Life (a board game), or one of those mobile life simulators you saw on Google Play. There was something uncanny about how those games worked and applying it to yourself. Think about it, you had different strategies from early game (childhood) and end game (death). Anything that you wanted to achieve, whether you wanted to be the richest person on earth, being a pro athlete, or even just vegging out at the end of the day was a result of your quests of the day. You could strive to be super competitive, or even be the laziest bum. It was a net result of what tasks you set yourself as the protagonist. This philosophy was made to give you the ultimate power and the ultimate responsibility.

Rules of the Game

What were my rules of the game? Based on these rules, this was how I mostly functioned.

  1. Have fun in whatever I wanted to do.
  2. Be super awesome at above task.
  3. Whatever I do, DO NOT take myself out of the game by any means necessary.

Have fun in whatever I wanted to do.

Ever since I was eight years old, holding my first Nintendo 64 controller, I knew I wanted to do something cool and fun. I told myself that I would pick a cool job, and that was becoming an astronaut. That changed over the years, until I finally settled on being a computer engineer. A lot of things I did in life was based on me liking and having fun with the task. Even though there were tasks that bore me to death (like school), I learned to cope by selecting things that I had genuine interest in and looked forward to spending time learning it to perfection. If it wasn’t fun anymore, I dropped the subject like a hot potato.

Be super awesome at the above.

In order to have fun, I had to get good. I spent so many hours trying to get good. As long I saw progress (even if it was minuscule), I called it a good day. That dedication showed at my prowess at the subject I had decided to dedicate myself to. Other people were my competition, so I had to get better to get myself out there. But I never chased for their approval. In fact, the harshest judge was myself. While that had its own set of problems, it was a very good motivator for me to get good at what I wanted to do.

Never take yourself out of the game.

I had a hard time trying to understand why I never gave up. The words above in big bold letters suggested to me that resilience. Not once in my life had I contemplated suicide. I saw that as taking myself out of the game. This was the ultimatum I gave to myself (although I don’t know when or how I gave myself that) to keep on living. I guess it was a reflection that I wanted to be an honorable person and let something else take me when I’m about to go out for real. I would rather to lose to someone else; it showed their skill in besting me (even though it was hard to admit that).

How did it help me?

By having these three rules, I was able to place some sort of structure in my chaotic life. Don’t get me wrong, there always were and will be down times, and dark hours in the game. It was the driving factor for a lot of my decisions and it will continue to be my source of inspiration and motive for the life I strove for.

Have fun.

Most things in my life derived from me having the long term goal of being awesome and fun. I always believed in having fun in both the destination and in the journey. Even though I hated studying math, I knew that studying math would lead me to becoming a good engineer. I also knew that if I no longer had any fun, it would fashion my decisions towards getting out and moving onto the next thing. I always had a long term goal for myself, even though the steps to get there were initially just two steps, later to be fleshed out to have 20 or so steps in the process. To me, this rule provided the purpose in my life.

Being awesome.

This was my motivator. A fun thing can have ways to grate you to the point of giving up. Sometimes that was the driving force for me not continuing cool things. It helped me realize the true value of myself (even though I sometimes couldn’t believe it) by having something tangible in front of my eyes. It was the reason why I strove for beyond above average, and closer to expertise. This was mostly done only if you keep on repeating the thing you wanted to be good at and improving on the past.

Never take myself out.

This was my anchor. This kept me grounded during my darkest hours of anguish and pain. I always believed that I was responsible for a lot of things in life. I also knew I would cut myself short if I decided to give up and take myself out of the equation. Even though this had led me to paths where I thought I was walking on forever with no end in sight, I knew that there was something at the end of it (hopefully).

How to Implement Game Mechanics for Yourself

Life the Game can be played once you knew what the rules were, even if they were super vague. These were rules you had to set for yourself. My set of rules could be good examples, but only you could determine that. Only by setting your own rules and limits, you could surpass them. Limits were made to be broken, but if they were not defined, it would be very hard to find progress.

Here’s a good quote from a game called NieR.

Rules do not exist to bind you. They exist so you may know your freedoms.

Once you determined the rules and limits, now you had to figure out tasks that would enable you to keep yourself within the rules and break limits. The rules were made so that you would not accidentally delete yourself from your game. They were also there to help you determine how you should and act (even by that definition is subjective). The limits were set to give you goals and to determine your quest list. If you wanted to be a bodybuilder, you had to make quests for yourself to level up your exercise skills and your body stats.

Like in any party finder, people were and always will be the biggest factor in becoming a winner of this game. Not only did you have to surround yourself with people who would be behind you 100% (like a guild), you also had to find mentors. Your elders had records, whether it be written record, verbal stories or even just talking with them could impart you knowledge, skills and quests for you to level you as a character. And finally there would always be jerks on the field. There would always be people saying (or yelling) at your direction at every waking moment. You couldn’t control what they did or say, but you could control your reaction. Your interaction with people could break or make you. Play your cards correctly and you could come out on top of whatever you wanted to do.

Life as a Real Life MMO

Have you ever thought why games were Role Playing Games were popular? They always put you in the shoes of another person. I suppose it was irony that life is a reflection of ourselves in a game. If we were playing someone else in a video game, where does this put us as in another perspective? Weird thoughts, indeed.

But I did not write about this to contemplate about our own existence. I wrote this to explain how I functioned, and I thought this philosophy could help others. A lot of people told me that my resilience was something to be admired but I could not figure out why that particular stat of mine was high. It wasn’t until someone explained to me that a particular phase in life was something I could relate to was when I could finally put words to the philosophy I believed in.

By treating my own life as a video game, I was able to determine what I needed to do next for myself. My rules, my scenario, and my own dreams were all things that I could determine myself. While other people (other players) could determine who I hung out with, who were my biggest influencers, and who I would follow were big factors, none of them could write this story for me. This story was for myself and only I could write it.

How else did video games shape your life? Did they influence you in some shape or form? What do you think? Leave a comment and share. 🙂

5 Things Video Games Taught Me About Money

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Finances, Tips 'N Tricks

My family wasn’t rich. They held ordinary jobs: my dad worked at a fan manufacturing plant while my mom was a nurse’s aid at a retirement home. Mom and Dad believed in leveraging their children towards the best path possible. They pushed my brother and I into a private school (which was pretty costly) and also controlled the family’s spending.

As such, we weren’t spoiled; we had to work for our wants by showing our grades. It was a very good motivator, but it didn’t teach me a thing about money. It taught me hard work led to better things in life, but I never understood that even that would fail me (at least now I know it works about 80% of the time!). Since my parents were in control of the family spending, we had to ask for what we wanted and depending on the request, they would grant it. Most of the time, I learned to be crafty and picked free, if not, cheap alternatives. It doesn’t seem like I was set up to be financially educated.

However, my parents thought it was a good idea to get us some video games! Granted, some video games weren’t meant to teach you stuff, but I would argue that you do learn skills that you can apply to real life later on. Scoff at me all you want, but there were some moments in a game that actually shaped who I became later on. What actually matters is applying what you learned now.

Here are 5 things that video games taught me about money!

1) Video games taught me how to save.

When I first got into MMORPGs, there were many items that I wanted to get. However, being new, I was just another broke n00b! Panhandling never really worked; as everyone else was in the same boat and they all gave you the evil eye if you tried to do any of that. So I started to run around and do menial tasks, like crafting, questing and punching monsters to earn enough gold to get some of the best weapons in game. It even got to the point where I became an extreme penny pincher where I abstained from upgrading my weapons and armor just to get to the desired weapon at the cost of my time, money and sanity! (A lesson on that later.)

The proudest moment of my saving career was Runescape (now Runescape Classic) where I saved enough for a Rune Battleaxe, one of the strongest weapons at the time. This also lead to next point…

2) There are scammers everywhere.

I was so proud of that Rune Battleaxe. What happened?

Someone came up to me and told me they wanted to check out the weapon. Dumb and young ten-year-old me accepted to do so. You had to actually carry through with the trade, as there was no way to cancel or close the window without accepting it. So I accidentally traded away that Battleaxe for no money and watched in tears as that person logged off immediately after. I never saw them again. I also promptly decided to quit the game right then and there.

That was a hard and painful lesson to bear and I became super suspicious of trading and dealing with other people in-game and it carried into real life. No wonder I became an anti-social prick. A few years later I found out about how people impersonated the government in order to scam innocent people out of their money. In fact, I was the target for one such phone call! That really hardened my resolve to guard myself from any incoming scams by raising awareness and keeping up with the times.

3) If you want to get far, don’t be afraid to spend it.

“In order to make money, you have to spend it.” That was a lesson learned when I first got into the auction house game.

Remember how I said I was an extreme penny pincher? It got to the point where I kept on dying all the time and I was losing time, experience AND money (because of repairs and potions) because I was not geared for my level. Once I upgraded my gear, leveling became 100% easier. By being able to survive and kill things faster, I was able to increase my cash flow from what it was considerably.

I actually ran into the this problem in MapleStory. Like most Korean MMOs, where you were leveling was very dependent on your gear. It didn’t mean anything that you managed to hit level 100; if you were beating on a monster and all you did was deal 200 damage after one skill, you were doing something very wrong. If you had armor appropriate for your level, it would’ve saved you from instant death. Instead, you would’ve left that encounter with just a sliver of health left! This was very useful when you traveled from one point to another, where death could mean losing months worth of progress! (ONE percent back in those days could take a month to acquire at 100+! I don’t know how FangBlade did it, he was the first person to reach 200 in the game.) Upgrading both weapons and armor meant that I could a) survive longer (and save money on repairs and potions) and b) kill more things and get more money and experience.

Hey, if I can come out of the zombie apocalypse with $1.7k, we should be all right.

What does this mean in real life? Save for completely apocalyptic scenarios (see above), people thought that the way to go was to make sure that money coming in was equivalent to money going out. If you had any basic understanding of retiring, people kept on saying that all you had to do was to reduce the amount of money going out and put that money into a bank account. (You’re more likely to work until you were forced to retire at that rate.) The smart ones were thinking like this: “If I had to spend something, make sure I get something in return!” This was why those people were rich, they bought something like stocks, or real estate (kind of a weapon for you RPG junkies) early on and they were getting cash on return and that value continuously grew. If it stopped being profitable, they would sell and buy something else that would grow, only to repeat the process again. Most smart people knew that they could maximize growth if they used it for as long as they could, and then sell it as soon as they realized the effort to hold/maintain was not worth it anymore. They did not buy into the hype of sell, sell, sell immediately. (Believe me, I ended up selling my old armor/weapons once I got my new set. They just took up valuable space. The money I got back went towards my next set.)

If you applied this concept from a video game to real life, this was essentially investing 101. People thought that video games were wasted time, but only if you decided not to place any value in it. And here was a lesson I wish I had applied sooner in life:

4) Time is Money

Time is ticking
Time is Ticking.

This lesson did not really resonate with me until I decided to learn about multiple income streams. In real life that could mean having investments, working at your job, or even having a side hustle! In a MMO, I would be utilizing my time to make stuff for other people, or punching monsters. Other people I knew used this time to sell their prowess in mechanics to help others clear content that they would not have the time for.

What I didn’t realize was that I was already doing that while playing MMORPGs, where I was playing the market, buying and selling materials (whether full processed goods, or materials for others). Guild Wars 2 introduced the concept to me as I initially thought the only way to make money was to grind out certain dungeons or other instances. The auction house (or player’s market) could be quite a lucrative source of income if played right. I had to figure out fast what my niche was and capitalize on it. If my market crashed, I also had to learn to adapt very quickly and move production elsewhere.

I soon learned that I could flip items by gathering materials and craft the finished product themselves. I later learned that there is some profit to be made by buying the work others have done for you (although at a cost) and doing the same, which ate into your profits. The most important lesson in this for me was that it saved me time! This gave me some valuable skills that can be applied later on, and I’m not just talking about the skills that you needed to create the items in the first place.

If you did spreadsheets to make your in-game income work, why not with real money? If you didn’t like doing a certain job, you could always outsource it to someone else for a cost. Your time was better spent doing a) things that you liked doing and b) created value, either in happiness or your worth to you.

Black Desert Online was possibly the best example of this concept. A lot of good players knew that the best money is grinding hours at a time at a money-making spot. The highest earning players knew that there were ways to supplement their income by outsourcing the work and used their idle time doing something the game allowed them to, like fishing or processing. When they logged in early in the day, they sent their produce to the auction house, where they earned much more selling to other players in need. They made their money during their offline time, but depending on how much time they spent in the game, they also earned grinding at certain locations. This process had a lot of time investment upfront; if someone invested hours into a life-skill, they were rewarded with a chance to receive higher tier processed goods, which meant more money. In my case, my time was spent grinding whenever I felt like it while I made my millions offline processing the trees my workers gathered for me. All of my Discord friends saw me do this every day (if I’m not playing another game, that is).

Anyway, whatever you decided to do with your time is important. This meant you now have more time to spend it with what is more important to you whether that is your family, gaming, traveling or making even more money! You can always get more money, but your time on this earth is limited. Spend it wisely.

5) You are allowed to fail.

This was the hardest lesson for me to learn. Mostly because it was much easier said than done. In real life, starting the moment you went to school, you were consistently punished for failing. You failed a test? Time-out for you. The teacher segregated all the students with a gold star and those who didn’t based on their performance. The treatment difference was real. I dreaded talking to my parents about my grades. To survive, I had to learn how to get good and meet those requirements that my teachers and my parents set for me, and sometimes they wouldn’t even tell me what was absolutely needed. There was also the other end of the spectrum where helicopter parents swooped to save their children in distress from the possibility of failure. It was a robbed experience. It wasn’t fair and as a result it made me more hesitant and even fearful of trying new things.

Then came the video games. I lost lives trying to learn the right timing to reach that next jump to save the Princess. Every time I watched Leon in Resident Evil 4 die a very gruesome death meant that I needed to get better at a reaction sequence or learn how to avoid the baddies altogether. The game simply told you what you were doing wrong and if you were successful, you were rewarded with more progress or in some cases, shiny treasure! No weird gimmicks (aside from mechanics), no weird sudden restarts and you definitely didn’t have to start all over each time (the only time you did that is when you lost all your lives). There were not a lot of things that gave you instant success when you first tried it (unless you used Gameshark, of course).

No matter how you fail, the game allowed you to keep playing as long you keep within the defined rules. Riskology, a blog for introverts, says that the most creative things happened when there were defined rules but still enough room to let your mind wander. This was where you get to explore and experiment to your heart’s content with no backlash. Except, for the fact that you messed up with some expected rules set right from the start. Finding out what worked and what doesn’t then becomes a fun and interesting venture.

I wish we were taught that and even allowed to fail from when we were kids. We needed to learn in our own way through experience what was best for us. It was the best way a person can become better. We were not prepared to embrace that, and now we, the current generation and our descendants are paying the price. That thought was terrifying and sometimes suffocating. I wish I was able to learn that much sooner, even though I was a blind practitioner from the beginning. I just never learned or applied it until now.

Not being able to try something new and creative means that I wouldn’t be able to discover what would work for me and that innovation for me can mean a better, richer life for myself. The easiest way of thinking like this is to think that Life is a Video Game.

Conclusion

So there you have it. Five very important lessons I learned just from playing video games. How I learned these and when I learned them was when I started to do self-reflection. Actually, now that I think about it, the military actually taught me an important lesson about life: If you treat everything like a game, then you can expect better results in it.

No matter how you treat this game, whether you casually relax and hang back, or unleash your predatory competitive side, you can see success no matter where you go. The cards are in your hand now, it’s just laying it out in the right order and in the right sequence based on your internal game plan.

What did you learn about money from video games? Definitely leave a comment below and post this question on your social media of choice with #GamersOnFIRE. 🙂

ahh big spending!

Don’t Ever Regret Your Spending. I Certainly Didn’t. + BONUS: Statue Unboxing VOD

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in Finances

The last month I’ve been scrambling to pay off a rather pricey, yet expected expense. I pre-ordered an amazing set of Solid Snake statues made by First 4 Figures almost two years back, which turned out to be nearly $2000 and it finally arrived! The actual panic wasn’t really about me not having enough money, it was more about reshuffling my liquid stash to fully pay it off (without being forced to withdraw from my investments…More on that in a bit.). Well, that and my whole reserves is gone. It turned out to be some great streaming material too, as I decided to do an Unboxing Stream.

So why am I talking about expensive statues? Am I just flexing about how I can afford it? Not really. What I would like to say is: no matter how expensive an item is, don’t feel bad for buying it.

Life is too short to limit yourself to be like a monk.

But it is also too short to enslave yourself to the costly whims of pleasure and social expectations.

Changing the Mindset

I ask myself these questions whenever I am about to make a purchase:

  1. Can I afford it in liquid cash right now? (ie: I actually have the funds in my bank.)
  2. What can the item/service offer me in value?
  3. Will I be able to see a continuous return in value as time goes on?

In the words of Robert Kiyosaki, writer of Rich Dad, Poor Dad: “Questions open the mind. Statements close the mind.”

Asking these questions make you think. Saying that I can’t afford it makes me unable to think of ways to improve my current situation. Every single item you buy should always be a process of prioritization.

I always prioritize in making growth, whether in making me better a better person or making my finances bigger. After that, it’s about things that make my life easier which is a higher priority than my own enjoyment. I’m the kind of person who will find joy in min-maxing. That is, in layman’s terms, minimizing the amount of effort I put into to get a large amount of gains. I try to optimize everything that I do, whether it be finances, getting to work or even trying to maximize my build for PvP in Guild Wars 2. Lastly, if I buy this item, it should be able to provide me whatever function it is set to do for a long time. This is why I hate buying disposables, I end up throwing it out after I finish using them. (Food and gross things are exceptions.)

If any of the above three questions aren’t met, I usually don’t buy it. Unless I want to indulge myself sometimes. If you’re in the business of content creation, you have the nice bonus of indulging yourself and investing into your content stream! (At least in this niche anyway.)

Can I afford it?

thinking

Be honest with yourself. If the thing you’re buying means you need to pull the card out, stop and think.

Rule #1 of being financially smart: Pay yourself.

Rule #2 of being financially smart: Don’t make more debt if you have to.

If you know you can’t afford it now, don’t buy it! If you say you can pay it off later, especially if you put it on the card, that’s fine. Make sure you pay off the entire balance of the card before your next statement! This way you can get those sweet reward points and not owe the card company a single cent! This rule tends to go for most type of loans (with the exception of mortgages, but I won’t cover that here).

Interest rates are only getting higher, so be aware that paying minimum payments are not enough anymore! You have to tackle debt aggressively otherwise it will drain your funds even more.

Wait, why did we delve into rule #2 first before rule #1?

Aside from credit cards and debt draining your resources, one has to make a living and to invest and grow. I like to focus on keeping more money in your pocket, so that means I like reduce the amount of deductions pulling from my cash flow.

However, all of those deductions mean nothing if you actually have no money in your stash! Always stash away a bit of your cash from your paycheck every month. You can use that later, maybe for a purchase or better yet, an investment of some sort. Reaching FIRE is pretty easy, but you have to be really honest with yourself and be prepared to use a lot of self-discipline.

If you decided to use your money anyway (after determining that you won’t be in debt), let’s question the value.

What value do I see?

If I can increase my money stash, then I’ll do it in a heartbeat. This can range from:

  • more cash flow (investments!)
  • as a content creator: more content = more value
  • increase skill set and knowledge through education
  • increase influence = more potential customers

If it makes my life easier, or if it greatly entertains me, then I have to weigh out the pros and cons. This is entirely subjective and based on what your priorities and/or values are.

Let’s take a car for example:

Pros:

  • conveniently get around
  • longer range
  • carry more stuff
  • faster
  • look increasingly badass (depends on vehicle of choice)

Cons:

  • pollute the environment
  • makes me lazy
  • depreciates in value
  • big freakin’ price tag!
  • become a weapon of mass destruction for everyone around me and get jailed for it
  • there are as many stupid drivers as there are stupid pedestrians/cyclists
  • No, this is not Grand Theft Auto
Please don't do this.
Seriously, don’t do this while driving.

Even after evaluating that I had more negative points than positive, I found that my most negative points still overpower the positive ones (after all, you can have less points but they strongly resonate with you!). With this in mind, I would not buy a car in the near future.

Use your best judgement here. There is no right or wrong answer, but you have to think really hard and be honest if you need it or not. Own up to your decision and proceed.

Can I keep on getting the value out of it?

If you can get more of the same wonderful thing, will you jump up and down for it? I know I would.

If I had to throw it out right after, I’d be a bit more hesitant to buy it. It feels like a waste.

It means I have to buy it again at the same price. That really bites; I would rather use it as much as I an before I have to dispose it.

Well, that’s not really true for games though. Video games nowadays tend to be varying about its quality whether if it’s in the story or in the gameplay. The amount of hours played don’t mean anything anymore; you can keep on playing a crappy game like it’s a terrible job. A really expensive Triple A title could perform abysmally in comparison to a $5 Indie Game (I’m looking at you Anthem…)

Caveat: These impulsive buys of questionable value can be indulged upon once in a while. It’s like getting coffee from Starbucks! It’s super expensive to get coffee there! If you can get the same value by doing something else (or buying something that can let you enjoy it at a lesser cost), like making your own coffee. Think about what you’re going to get and what your value would be.

Do my Snake statues fit the bill?

My wonderful Solid Snake statues are definitely a single purchase. They are definitely oversized and overpriced paperweights. However to me, I get a lot of entertainment and personal value for the inclusion of these awesome statues to my video game den.

Does it really fit my three question criteria? Definitely yes. It’s questionable in some places, but I really don’t have to justify the purchase to anyone, or really regret it.

Remember Rule #1 of being financially smart? I broke that. Sort of.

I paid myself already, as I have already set up automatic payments to my investments (this way, I don’t forget!). Ideally, I wanted to invest into myself more (like about 60% of my paycheck), but on that day when I pre-ordered it, I decided to splurge.

I reshuffled all of my funds to make sure I paid the card in full. I knew these things are a prime collectors’ item when I do decide to sell the statues, but really the real value is making it an amazing part of my video game den. The statues are so well made that I can continuously look at the statue and admire the high quality craftsmanship behind it.

A nice bonus is that it has provided some additional content for my streaming channel!

Check out the VOD on my channel on DLive! And if you need permission to not regret your purchases, you’re now armed with the knowledge. With that, I can safely order you to do so. Captain’s Orders. 😉

Shopping online

Online Gaming Cash Shops are a Money Drain!

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in Gaming Bullshit, Tips 'N Tricks

So I got into a discussion with one of my favorite YouTubers, The Quartering (also check him out on Twitter!) who often calls out a lot of bullshit in video games. His tweet got me thinking about my spending habit back when I was young and naive. Of course, I know much better now.

This conversation made me think of all of my favorite free to play MMORPGs back in the day and that they had cash shops to give players who wanted to get a tiny edge. However, in recent times I’ve noticed that they’re everywhere, even in single player titles that you had to pay full price for! That’s pretty anti-consumer! I’ve seen many players fall for this trap and we should instead use this money elsewhere. I’m also very guilty of this as well, so don’t worry and don’t feel bad. I am a firm believer of educating people so I hope you guys won’t fall into this trap like I did! 🙂

Types of Cash Shops

So there are different kinds of cash shops, they can affect your gameplay in any shape or form, but it is an additional unneeded expense. It works like this: you buy in-game currency (usually a premium kind) with real money, and then you buy virtual goods with it on a store. The difference is what these goods do.

Sometimes you can then exchange these goods for actual in-game currency that you earn while playing the game. For example, in Black Desert Online, I can buy costumes using pearls, which is the game’s premium currency. I can then sell these costumes on the auction house, which are bought using silver from other players, the game’s actual in-game currency. This can go into pay-to-win category because you can exchange these premium goods for services or goods that can help in your progression. Or another case, you can buy these goods in exchange for another player’s help for progression.

And even worse, there are bots or farming accounts made to flood a market with cheap commodities just for the purpose of selling in-game currency with real money. It is illegal in many games, and for good reason. If left rampant, this can destroy an economy of a multiplayer online game. Not only that, this is super sketchy; these third parties can steal your identity!

However, I am not here to discuss the last two paragraphs. This is all based on how a community/game masters work together to tackle the problem. At best, it is a mere annoyance, at its worst it will completely drive legitimate players away. I will be focusing on what is done in-game and officially done by the developers.

Buying Cosmetics

This is the easiest to find and also least damaging to the game’s community. This will stroke a player’s ego because many people love to customize their characters. It can be done in-game, or through an external store, like Square Enix has done for Final Fantasy XIV:

 

These are mostly harmless, it just makes your characters look cool. There are also services in there that you can buy to even change what your character looks fundamentally, like race, skin color, hair, ears, etc. Square Enix, for example, also has exclusives that you can only buy in their store only; it’s not a big deal unless you’re a huge collector of cosmetics.

FFXIV Cosmetic store

The worst this can be is when they lock cosmetics away in loot boxes, which you can buy (keys, or boxes for more chances) in the store themselves. Team Fortress 2 and Overwatch are great examples of this. It is a very frustrating experience, I must note.

Paying for Convenience

In exchange for your money, you can get goodies or services that can speed up or accelerate your progress in a game. Or in some other cases, just simply get what you want in exchange right away. Like in Warframe:

buying a bundle in Warframe

Normally in Warframe, you can obtain Warframes (the playable characters you play as) just by playing the game. The game does give enough hints to help you get your desired frame. However, the game also allows you to instantly buy the Warframe using the game’s premium currency, Platinum, which otherwise can take you at least 5 days to build.

Other games, like Black Desert Online allow you to buy convenient stuff like extra additional inventory slots, and even cost-saving items for your attempts at upgrade. People like to argue that this is pay to win, because you are progressing faster money-wise than other players who don’t have the means of dumping money into the game. It really isn’t because it doesn’t affect them or the economy directly. It would be akin to buying things that would heavily influence your ranking on a chart that doesn’t feature any rewards for being in the top 20 for example.

Now be Damned – Paying to Win

This is the kicker. The big one. The one thing that a lot of gamers hate. Here, you can purchase goods that no one will ever get outside of the store and you will get a big boost to your progression. Essentially, you will directly affect other players to get goods that will push that gap between you and another player who does not buy into the system. If you go against a player who doesn’t have these exclusive items, that few stat points can be life or death for someone in a player-vs-player situation.

For example, in Elsword you can buy a costume that can give you a massive boost to stats not normally obtainable in playing.

Not only that, if it is possible to sell those costumes, like in Black Desert Online, you can potentially destroy the economy by selling the costumes for in-game currency to players that can help your progression. Do this multiple times, and you can potentially earn silver much faster than a person normally farming for silver in-game (because you have multiple players buying your costumes at x rate).

But there is a more sinister way of enticing players to get their money. First, I must present exhibits A, B and C from Elsword.

awful elsword cash shop to upgrade
Exhibit A – Blessed Fluorite Ore prevents item enhancement from resetting
Why does Elsword have this?
Exhibit B – Blessed Restoration Scroll can fix broken items from enchanting
awful elsword cash shop why
Exhibit C – Blessed Fluorite Crystal also prevents item enhancement from resetting

In these types of games, the game creates an artificial problem in the game. Usually this happens with abysmal upgrade success rates. Getting to a certain point is fine; it’s just becoming competitive can be a problem, which a lot of people are trying to strive for when trying to clear content. Since the game needs you to upgrade to clear content and trying to upgrade to that point, the game is developed to frustrate people with diminishing chances and punishing them for failing. To monetize, they help players provide a way to save their progress.

Here’s how Elsword creates this problem. Your first few upgrade levels are somewhat guaranteed; the chances are very high and you’re not likely to fail. Once you get into +10 though, your chances have been drastically slashed to 30%, or even lower! While this is a problem in the community where some players can exclude other players for not having the right gear level, the power spike from the last 9 levels to +10 is statistically strong. There is no way around it; you need to have +10 gear to be competitive. What makes it worse is that once you start failing, you are being punished for failing. This is a common theme in Asian MMORPGs. If you fail, at best nothing happens. Sometimes you can lose your chance to upgrade, but in some games there are extreme chances of your weapon being destroyed or lose your upgrading progress. Considering the amount of time and in-game currency it takes to get the right weapon, with the right stats, and even the materials, this can be very daunting to attempt. This creates a demand to save your progress, only for players who spend money at the cash shop.

Here, the game has these items in the cash shop to prevent progress loss and even weapon destruction. Other games also feature items that will unlock further weapon potentials! Even still, this does not guarantee your success, this only preserves your progress! Your rate of success stays the same despite buying items to conserve your progress in the shop. This is how they encourage people who want to do really well at the game to buy these items and those who don’t are forever damned not to be competitive. It’s a vicious cycle.

Many gamers do not like this kind of progression as it inflates the worth of the currency in comparison to the actual value of the product you want to buy in-game. Weird that this can be analyzed even though it is a video game.

Cash shops are just a huge drain in your wallet

Cash shops give no value to the player (unless you really just want to deck out your character in cool). It also sucks when you find that you no longer play the game you bought those items from or if the game goes under, you get nothing out of it. It’s a wasted investment.

Unless you want to genuinely support the developer for making such an awesome game, there really is no need to buy anything from cash shops. Your money is better off working for you. Invest this money, watch it grow and the sooner you’ll play video games just because you can.

What do you think about cash shops? Are you fine with just supporting your favorite developer? Respond in the comments below!

Controversy at the Epic Games Store! Exclusivity Deals Are Just Bullshit

Posted 6 CommentsPosted in Gaming Bullshit

Recently the publisher for the long awaited Metro Exodus, Deep Silver has announced that its PC release will be exclusive for one year to the Epic Games Store, as part of an agreement between the publisher and the Fortnite developer, Epic Games.

I, like many other gamers out there, were not happy. Even for those of us who had pre-ordered the game long before its actual release on February 15, 2019, this was akin to a rug being pulled right under our feet. At least both Deep Silver and Steam are gracious enough to let us keep our purchases.

What is Epic Games doing for Developers?

So here is how Epic helps Developers out:

I actually like that developers get more of a cut and I completely agree that they should seek out those kinds of deals; this means that they get to put the extra revenue back into their games and make them better! Big win for everyone!

It’s actually really good, because this also means that they can charge us for a lower price if we went to Epic rather than Steam. When it was available on Steam, we were charged $60 just to pre-order the game! Now here’s Epic’s offering:

That’s $10 less than usual! If I’m a stickler for buying at launch, I’d do that. (Although I don’t anymore to save money.)

If someone told me this earlier, I’d be ok with this… But it’s still many levels of wrong.

Epic Can’t Compete with Steam

I downloaded the Epic Games Store a few weeks ago in order to download a few free games featured on it. I’m just a bit disappointed by the lack of features. Ok, that’s a lie. Epic currently doesn’t have features that I consider very vital. Being able to access my games and continue off where I was at from different platforms (from desktop to laptop, for example) is pretty important to me. Sharing games with my closest friends and family is really important to me as well. I was able to discover Slay the Spire from my fiance because he was willing to share his library with me; I shortly bought the game after. I think being able to share games is a great way for a game to reach a wider audience (after all, that’s what mostly a lot of indie developers want to do). But these are not what I think is vital for a game distribution platform, although they are still quite important.

I totally played way too many video games...
Maybe it’s a good thing that it doesn’t show us how many hours I played a game…

The fact that the Epic Games Store lack user reviews, content sharing, wish lists (a huge one for me!) and a place for users to congregate is a huge epic fail. User reviews allow gamers to share their opinion if a game is worth their money or not and it is a huge driving factor in how gamers spend on their games. (It’s always nice to rely on feedback, but it can be prone to abuse thanks to review bombing in both directions.) A wish list is very important to keep users informed of an opportunity to get their game at a discounted rate! I use this all the time, especially since I’m super frugal about my spending. Also, the lack of forums for sharing content or asking for help is rather disappointing because gamers want to share content, their feelings and even ask for help. There’s no real place to do that on the Epic Games store.

I’m already peeved about the lack of features and I absolutely don’t want to have another place to download my games from. I am, after all, inherently lazy. If Epic actually had some cool things and features, I might consider using it, but it really doesn’t, aside from the free offerings. What really makes me mad is how they steal developers away.

Exclusivity is a Problem

While I’m perfectly fine with Epic offering better deals for developers, depending on their contract, Epic may have forced them (developers or publishers) into a binding agreement which can affect distribution. By locking games into a certain platform, this is actually really bad for the developers, who want to reach a wider audience (and thus, more sales) and for us, the consumers.

A Brief History in Exclusives

Games were always limited by the platform. So it came as no surprise when gaming started to become more popular, so too were the number of platforms. Starting in the 90s, we were seeing fierce competition between Nintendo’s Super Nintendo and Sega’s Sega Genesis. There were games that were available to both consoles, like Mortal Kombat and Double Dragon, but each had their exclusives such as The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Sonic the Hedgehog. Entering the 3D gaming era, there was fierce competition between Nintendo’s Nintendo 64 and Sony’s PlayStation consoles, which means both companies now have to fight for software developers to publish on their console. Sony did not have the reputation that Nintendo had at the time, being that they exclusively made other electronics at the time and that Nintendo have their own brand published exclusively on their platform, so they really fought hard to secure deals with third party developers. For example, Final Fantasy developers Square (now Square Enix) used to publish on Nintendo consoles, but now they develop and publish for Sony. Due to these under the table deals, one can surmise that the amount of fanboyism between the consoles can be called the “Console Wars”.

Note that I did not even mention a peep about PC games. PC gaming is unique and thanks to the internet, it is very flexible. Because of that, PC gaming is very wide and can cover many things, ranging from typical CD programs to being played right from your browser! (This was one of the reasons why I went to from console gaming to PC gaming.)

Anyway, by locking a game into exclusivity, you have to run into the risk of seeing if your platform can reach the intended audience. There is a reason why that despite both EA and Ubisoft having their own original platforms to launch their games from, they also sell their games on Steam (while still linking their platform, of course!). Steam commands quite a monopoly over the PC gaming audience and for good reason too. If another game distribution platform (like GOG Galaxy, which features DRM-free downloads) offers really sweet things in return, Steam would be forced to improve their own platform as a result.

What does this mean for us?

As consumers, we have to be wary of this crap all the time. We’ve already seen it in the console market. If I see a game I want from a particular publisher (say, Super Mario Odyssey), I would be forced to pick up a Nintendo Switch if I don’t have one already. Consoles are bloody expensive, as you can see for the Nintendo Switch. (Affiliate link here. If you do buy something, I will get something in return. More at my Affiliate Disclosure. Also, I encourage you to search Amazon for the other consoles too!)

The fact that Epic Games chose to go down this path is rather disappointing but it raises a lot of eyebrows. This creates a false funnel that gives Epic Games nothing to go on once their Fortnite money runs out (not saying that it would, it is still a very popular game), which in turn does not create any value for us.

Consider this: because of its exclusivity deals, games like Metro Exodus can be charged at any amount Epic (or the developer/publisher) decides on! That’s because there are no competitors to force the pricing of the product! That’s not all either! We are also at the whim of the distributor because we may not be able to meet certain requirements for refund, if they offer any at all. After all, a good example of this is Bethesda’s Fallout 76, launched exclusively on their own platform where they refused to issue out a refund after their disastrous launch.

My take on the situation

This is just me, but I’m a peeved gamer. As I’ve said before, this is completely bullshit and I’m just calling them out on it. I don’t like being limited in my choices of buying games (especially if it allows me to shop around for awesome deals) and I think a bit of competition is a good thing. (Steam needs it anyway!) However, the way that Epic Games is going into creating that competition is the wrong way of creating that competition.

I won’t be buying from Epic Games anytime soon. (But because I’m a stickler for free games, I’ll pick up the free offerings that Epic posts anyway!) What’s your take? Reply in the comments below!

5 Super Easy Steps to Create My Own Website + a tiny mental checklist

Posted 8 CommentsPosted in Blogging, Tips 'N Tricks

So you’ve finally decided to make your business around video games. Good job. I knew you could do it. 🙂 The first step is always hardest, they always say. Now, you’re telling me that you need somewhere to put all your content in. The easiest for this is a place where you have complete control on your content. This, my friends in the digital world, is a website. Unlike YouTube, Twitch and Facebook, you can control what you say, what you want to put and even when you want to put stuff. Your content is your baby, you should really take care of it yourself!

So, let’s get started!

Wait a minute! Don’t read the next few steps until you do this!

Oh snap, I nearly forgot! Right now, I’m going to give you a very tiny mental checklist that you want to keep in mind as you read this post. This is something you really need to do before you even go ahead and open up a website and start putting your stuff out there!

The checklist

The teeny tiny mental checklist

  1. Who are you serving?
  2. How can I solve their problems?
  3. Get Started!

An Explanation of the Tiny Mental Checklist

The reason why I gave you the checklist is that I want to help you achieve your dreams faster. We’re going to optimize and streamline as much as we can throughout the process. While I’m not a subject matter expert, it is definitely the mindset that you’re going to find in common with anyone who is going give you advice on getting started on your new website. It is also the same mindset that you would want to adapt as you start to open your doors and push out content like no tomorrow.

Who am I serving?

People are always looking for solutions to their problems. We’re here to solve those problems. If people like what you give, they’re more likely to give you money! This is a very easy way of thinking of the rules laid out here for us. So starting now, let’s think of what kind of people you want to help.

For example, maybe you’re an expert raider in World of Warcraft Mythic +. You know all the strategies, tricks and mechanics to clear a fight in record time. You already know there’s a group of people out there who wants to get better at raiding, so here’s your audience to cater to. If you can define that, you can get an audience of like-minded people to follow behind.

How can I solve their problems?

Once you know who you want to cater to, it’s time to find out what their problems are and how to solve them. The thing is, you need to know your audience pretty well to understand what they are looking for. The good news is, since we do play video games, by focusing on a game you’re really good at (or a variety of games you’re good at), you can find what your audience likes, dislikes, and even problems they have at a game. By checking out forums and interacting with the community by various means (Reddit, Discord, Facebook groups, etc.) you can get a better grasp on their opinions and even find valuable information.

Once you find their gripes, your job is now to solve them. 😀 By helping your audience, they feel happy and they might pay it back to you!

Get started!

This is actually the most important point of this checklist. Getting started. If you don’t start, you’ll never get it done. If you don’t start, you won’t know what’s ahead of you. If you won’t start, those people won’t get their solutions and everyone feels sad. No one likes sad people. This is the hardest step of them all, but it is the most important.

Now To Actually get Started

Always keep the checklist in mind. It’s small, but very important!

Step 1: Do the checklist.

Ok, I know, this sounds like a cop-out. I’m not kidding though; do the checklist. It will be very important throughout the lifetime of your new video game business. It’s going to guide you in how to approach your website and the content you want to put out. I would suggest doing at least 3-4 answers per question on the checklist. Don’t take too long, though! Remember the last point of the checklist!

Step 2: Find a Web host provider.

So now that you got an idea out, you now need to find a place to put your content on. You have two options. Go free, or pay someone to do it for you.

Going free

Now, going free is a very valid option but you might have trouble down the road if you’re relying on people to find you through search engines like Google. They don’t tend to rank very well on search listings. You can take a look at my favorite food blog, FoodWishes. Every recipe listed there I couldn’t find on Google; the only way I could find him was on YouTube!

Websites with free hosting tend to have their domain names attached to them and not only look goofy and not catchy, the providers have some partial control over your website. If you decide to go this route, you may not even be allowed to monetize your website (through ads, for example) at all! Despite this, there are many free providers, and you can switch later on if you feel you are ready to invest into a paid website domain. You will want to utilize your other social media like Pinterest, Facebook, and YouTube to drive traffic to your website. Examples: Blogger, Wix, and WordPress.com

Paying for Your Web host and Domain

Definitely the more expensive option you can look for. Aside from hosting, you actually also have to buy a domain name. Remember the checklist? By defining your answers, you can actually word your website in a catchy, creative way that tells your audience what you’re here for! Also, you can scale once your website grows and you have more content to share. And not only that, you have full control of all your content on the website! That’s pretty awesome!

… Except, you don’t know where to find your hosting. Here, I’ll provide you with some affiliate links. Now, these links will help you get some nice deals for what you need at no cost to you. Note: The links here provide you a discounted rate for your first year, so definitely shop around if being on a budget is your highest priority after your first year. If you decide to click on them and buy, I’ll get something in return for me recommending you their business. Again, I won’t recommend anything that I don’t like. More over at my Affiliate Disclosure.

Reddit results :)
Reddit seems to highly recommend SiteGround. A lot.

So, my recommendation is SiteGround. While I will honestly say I don’t use it myself, I have done a lot of extensive research on two of the most popular web hosts. So why would I recommend SiteGround over the others? While my favorite financial bloggers (who are very inspirational for this blog, by the way 😉 ), Mr. Money Mustache and Frugalwoods recommend BlueHost, this doesn’t mean I follow their recommendations blindly. As always, I will recommend doing extensive research. What led me to this conclusion was that after research, I found that SiteGround was faster, was more reliable and have excellent customer service. BlueHost provides a better starter package and is cheaper overall, which could be a better choice if you prefer to be on a budget. I would personally go with the better network and customer service as I like my content handled by people who care and have consistent up time.

Web Hosting

You’re wondering why I would recommend a paid service over a free one, I would think of this as an investment for your future. You’re building a revenue stream; of course you need to spend some money to make the money work for you!

Step 3: Create your Website

Now that you have your website, it’s time to install WordPress and other doodads. Fortunately the two hosts I recommended in the last step, has provided you a 1-click install button for WordPress, although you can choose to use other Content Manager Systems (CMS) if you are familiar with it. Pick ONE theme and stick with it. Don’t spend too much time trying to make your website look perfect. You can fix that later. It’s actually more important to start pushing your content immediately.

Step 4: Put your content out!

Now that you have a working website, it’s time to place content! You can place videos of your latest speed run, written guides to finally beat Bahamut, pictures of your favorite game waifu… Anything! As long you follow the mental checklist, you can determine what you want to put out next. I will highly recommend that you start talking about yourself and look for templates about Private Policy and legal jargon like Affiliate Linking for your first few pages just to cover your hide. Again, let the mental checklist help you determine what you want to make next. Remember to research whatever you’re going to put out! By providing people great quality content, you will get people to come back for your stuff. If you need to play video games for research, go do that!

Step 5: Start monetizing your content!

It will take a while for you to see any traffic come to your website. Expect at least 3-6 months of hard work before you see any traffic, let alone a dime. During this time you want to continue pushing your content, optimizing your website and talking to people/joining affiliate programs for content to promote. Remember that you want to help people and by recommending products that you love to help others out, everyone wins: you win by getting a cut of the sales of the product you promoted, the company you promoted has gained a customer and the customer wins by getting something that they need for their particular problem! Remember, the checklist is very important in driving your content forward!

Do you still need more help?

As I have mentioned before, I’m not a subject matter expert on this subject. I’m just good at video games and I’m still figuring out the best way of making gaming a career that I be proud of. Rather than try to reinvent the wheel, I will recommend a place that has helped me realize that I can make money on any particular niche. (Definition: A special area of the market. So, that’s definable by you!) This place is called Wealthy Affiliate. (Again, another affiliate link. But I’m seriously recommending this if you want to seriously accelerate your progress bar.)

I’ll cover in depth why I decided to go with these guys later, but I’ll give you a quick run down on what you get:

  • You get some pretty nice hosting, which is fast, secure, reliable and has awesome tech support! (but it costs more if you go premium: $49 USD per month!)
  • You have a free membership with a 7-day trial to experience what premium is about. (Don’t worry, you still have free hosting, but if you want the paid hosting, it’s going to cost you the above.)
  • Based on the mental checklist I mentioned earlier, you get lessons on answering those questions above as well as a call to action
  • You are surrounded by an awesome community
  • The community also has user-created lessons for you to take on
  • Because of the first point, you are able to apply them right away as you continue to learn!

Let me tell you one thing, I personally think that this is a worthwhile investment. I learn by doing and follow a good tutorial while doing so. (I mean, that’s how I learned how to be really good at Photoshop.) I feel like this is one of the times I would actually spend money to accelerate my learning (and getting the good information now) rather than stumble upon old and outdated (mis)information that can actually cost me more time and money (in the long run) while struggling to achieve my goals.

I’m also really active in the community, so if you don’t feel comfortable asking in Discord, I can help you out over there as well. (It’s also easier for us; I can directly link you to posts there.) You also have an awesome community of like-minded entrepreneurs with various backgrounds at your back. 🙂 Definitely come and join me if you want some ideas to bounce at.

Conclusion

Again, congratulations on the decision of making video games your business. 🙂 I hope these tools will be very helpful in your first few steps towards making a killing as an independent entrepreneur in the video gaming industry. I wish you well in your success!

Believe it or Not! Gamers need to be Healthy!

Posted 24 CommentsPosted in Fundamentals and Concepts, Tips 'N Tricks

Remember all the memes with fat D.Va eating Dorito Chips and Mountain Dew? Or how about the fat neck-bearded fedora nerd? All of these are the prime images of a gamer.

The truth is that gamers come in many shapes and colors. Now the unfortunate thing is that many people are fat (at least in North America). (I’m not fat-shaming. Just stating the truth.) This is the sad reality with the kind of lifestyle we tend to follow; sedentary, unhealthy and expensive consumerism.

How did we get there in the first place?

I’ll tell you a bit of a story. I mostly stayed at home, didn’t go out, didn’t even work out… I was a lonely hermit living in my room. Not only that, I also lived on a diet of instant ramen, beer and KD. I spent at least 20 hours a week playing video games, studying, more video games… But mostly studying. It wasn’t until I went to work that summer I found that one of my favorite blue shirts didn’t fit me anymore that I realized I needed to make a change.

But Murasa, this doesn’t tell me how we got to this sad depressing state!

Ok, so if you didn’t draw any conclusions from my story, here are some key factors:

  • I didn’t really move my body much
  • My diet is bloody awful
  • I was actually stuck in a state where I was doing nothing
  • Because of the above, no progress = depression!

The fact that I was sedentary, with no movement in mind, body and spirit was what caused me to become fat. I know, I’m getting all philosophical here, but really, it’s how I got fat. That summer, I was 160 lbs! I’m only 5’2″! That actually made me overweight!

The thing here is that we all need to realize that we are not taking care of ourselves. At that point in my life, I had let myself go. What made it worse was that I didn’t do anything about it for the longest time. We all go through that mode in life (several times, actually) where we just feel stuck in a rut and it’s just utter despair.

There are a lot of consequences to being fat.

Being fat can be costly!

Did you know that being fat costs us money?

Because of my need to feel whole again, I bought a lot of things that (like my terrible diet, for example) satisfied some of my cravings. Video games also filled a hole in my social and mental state. I was stuck studying a subject that I saw no way out of and it sucked my soul away. Since I ate a lot of bad foods and got into a vegetative state between two tedious things (I think the games I got into were time-consuming… It got into a grind I didn’t want to do), I had no energy to move. The cycle repeated itself when I just did nothing to fix it.

When I started doing research to make myself become better, I soon realized that I have more reasons to become more healthy. I wanted to show my granny that I was a functioning living person, I also realized that being fat is also really bad for the health. My family is plagued with obesity and there are many health complications for being fat. If I end up toeing a medical condition just because of my gait, there was something wrong.

There’s also direct costs of being fat.

Did you know that your insurance premiums increase the more fat you are? Not only that, you can have more costly fees trying to fix your medical problems. It’s also really bad that you can lose potentially lose days being sick just because of more health problems, which means you lose time earning money. Money that you can use for your future!

Also, being fat really does increase that stigma we have for being gamers. We don’t look really good and pretty depressing. Fat people are the epitome of gamers, nerds and geeks. We were the losers in the social circle, even though gaming is now becoming very mainstream.

How we can fix it

There are several ways of doing fixing our problem. We should always strive to have a happy and balanced life. Believe it or not, folks, even too much gaming can be bad for you!

So how do we get more fit?

Your diet is the biggest factor in this. 80% of your success in being fit lies within your diet. You can significantly control how much and what goes in your body and it is significantly harder to work that off. While food can be very costly, you can still be frugal about it and still eat healthily.  Remember that you are the one in control!

Working out is the other 20%. It doesn’t matter what you do to work out; the point is that you must give it your all, not half-ass it, and more importantly start! Because I’m more goal oriented and I like seeing numbers go up, I take up weightlifting. Hell, you can go into running, hiking and even joining your local muggle Quidditch League!

Some people have even incorporated video games into their workouts! There are mobile applications, modifications and even gadgets that let you play games as you run! (Really, button mashing while on an elliptical is a good way of working out. 😉 ) Heck, even playing Dance Dance Revolution can work you up a sweat!

This is very true with the introduction of Virtual Reality! Thanks to the VR sets like Occulus Rift and HTC Vive, you can work out while actually playing a game. Someone also has created a very interesting way of being an actual paperboy! (Affiliate links for the VR sets, but hey I actually picked up a VR set because we’re getting close to implementing games with reality… Like Star Trek’s Holodeck! )

Again, it’s very important that you start!

Lots of good reasons to be nice and fit!

As I have mentioned before, being fit and healthy will make you happier and can give you some purpose in life. It can also remove the stigma that you’re a depressing, anti-social, no-lifer hiding in your mom’s basement. And not only that, your mind, body and even your wallet is going to thank you for not being an overweight slob.

To take it to the next level, if you also want to compete with the best competitive players, you have to start living like one. (Note: don’t do it if you’re not ready or willing to be competitive. This can be expensive!) In a recent study from German Sports University, eSports Athletes are real athletes! They need to have a clear mind, lightning speed reflexes (comes from practice!) and a healthy heart to compete at such a high level. Yes, it’s actually more complex than mashing keys.

It’s easier to live a happy, balanced life

As I have said before, it is much easier to live a happy and balanced life. Doing too much of one thing can be very bad. Having too much pizza is bad. Sitting still to play video games all day is bad. Not doing anything about your poor state of health is bad. All of these things that can lead to being unhealthy and fat.

If you’re happy and healthy, you can make better sound decisions about yourself, which includes saving for your future. Being happy and healthy can lead to a lifestyle that you want to have full control over, even if it’s just playing video games. Gamers can come in many shapes and sizes, but it is much more about being happy and whole. That’s what we try to aspire to and inspire.

Being a healthy gamer is a pretty good deal, if you ask me.

Photo by Caspar Camille Rubin on Unsplash

Easily the Best Streaming Software on Twitch – StreamLabs OBS

Posted 10 CommentsPosted in Streaming, Tips 'N Tricks

So you want to start streaming. You don’t know where to start. You have all of these questions so you start looking. Well, I’m here to help. I completely understand, this is actually pretty overwhelming. I know, because I went through the same process myself. The setup is not overly complicated but nowadays you are bombarded with options and things you need to get before you start your first stream. Let’s get started on your career as a streamer!

So, what’s the first thing you need to get first? You need a streaming program to broadcast whatever you’re streaming and there’s so many options! Look no further, I have a solution for you.

Note: This contains an affiliate link where if you click on my link I may or may not get something in return. I will always recommend something that I use and I hope that it will help you. More info over at my affiliate disclosure.

Introducing StreamLabs OBS

So what is Streamlabs OBS? It is a streaming software that has a lot of features in it. Of course some of these are essential: Stream Chat (you talk to your viewers), video preview, video editor, recent events (whoever decided to follow, donated and even subscribe!), stream labels, a chat bot (to help with channel moderation) and a dashboard all in one app. That’s right, you have everything you need in one window.

Not only that, StreamLabs is free! Since we are financially savvy gamers, we don’t want to spend too much trying to build our streaming career! If you check out StreamLab’s own web page, you can see some top Streamers on Twitch use it! This includes Ninja, summit1g and pokimane. This is a very trusted streaming platform and you would be very wise to use the software that the best are using.

Easily Customize Your Stream With a Single Click

What made it stand out from other streaming programs like XSplit and OBS is how easy it is to implement themes, widgets and other custom features into your stream from your window. You can easily change what an alert will show on your Alert Box Widget right from the dashboard! It even provides user-made content for your use right on the Themes page. Before you had to find all of these things from the world wide web and then create browser sources in your favorite streaming software in order to show it off.

A huge selection of free themes and install in one click!

Believe me, this was really frustrating when I first started a couple of years back on OBS. I also found out about XSplit and tried it out; I liked it but it was very cost prohibitive for me to justify using it. StreamLabs has made it so super easy for me that I never looked back. (I’m also inherently lazy, and I would prefer to spend my time getting good at what I want to do rather than spend time trying to make it perfect on all the wrong things.)

The More Technical Details That Give You the Edge

I’m still small, but this is where I can see who subbed, followed or donated recently.

StreamLabs features multiple windows like StreamLabels, Stream Chat, Dashboard/video editing in one window. Before you needed to have multiple windows open (most of these in costly memory hogs that are browsers!) which can eat up RAM and CPU which can cause performance issues while you’re gaming! Not only that, I hate having multiple windows at once while I’m streaming because I have to ALT-Tab cycle all of them to get to the window I want and do what I need to do. Having it in one window makes it super convenient! The layout is super simple to use and easy to access.

Another huge feature is allowing you to use your mobile device as a remote control on StreamLabs! You can easily change scenes with a push of a button on your phone.

StreamLabs boasts that you can still have awesome video quality while streaming by using x264 and Nvenc encoder settings. This was heavily inspired by how Netflix’s AI compresses video scene by scene. They truly have optimized x264 by using AI to compress video scenes. This is incredibly good for people who have weak CPU, low bitrates or both. I’m not really good at explaining this, so I’ll just redirect you to StreamLab’s post about it.

I could artificially have a sound gate for my microphone!

It even has noise gain and suppression! People don’t like it when they hear background noises when you stream and can be a huge turn off. This is an important feature that you want to have while you’re streaming! You don’t want to scare away potential viewers just because they can overhear your neighbor doing… stuff… just because you have thin walls!

For anyone who used OBS are fed up with the multitude of windows they would have to deal with in OBS and don’t mind missing out on some features that StreamLabs has missed out on, you can easily upload your setup into StreamLabs.

What Comes in Features comes in Inflexibility

If you’re an Old School Streamer looking to see why you should switch, well this is your moment to shine and spit on all of us StreamLabs users. A lot of these people swear by the functionality that StreamLabs OBS seem to lack, such as being able to precisely transform your overlays according to your Stream. Another feature that was missing until recently was Studio Mode, which allowed the streamer to edit and preview whatever changes they make live before pushing it onto the viewers. StreamLabs OBS is still missing a lot of features but is consistently improving and adding in more features. It will eventually overcome some tried and true competition.

OBS, despite how complicated it is for newer streamers, can be a lot more powerful and even more efficient on your machine due to how it is consistently built and improved on by the multitude of users using it. This is because of the nature of it being an open source program. StreamLabs OBS is also open sourced, but it isn’t currently up to par to what OBS can provide. If you think you can take the extra time to utilize OBS’s flexibility there are many guides out there for users who are willing to learn.

Who is StreamLabs For?

StreamLabs OBS is definitely for any newcomer to the scene of streaming. It boasts ease of use and putting together a lot of essentials for streamers who are fed up with the complications of having multiple windows at once to manage their stream. There are also statistics provided in your dashboard about who followed you, how much was donated to you, and a large application store to pick up any stream theme and widget themes in a single click! I highly recommend this product to anyone who is serious about streaming and many top streamers on Twitch agree that this is the most reliable and easily one of the best streaming software on Twitch!

Go download Streamlabs OBS if you’re serious about streaming. I can’t wait to see your channel grow! Good luck out there!

I Hate Loot Boxes and You Should Too. Here’s Why.

Posted 8 CommentsPosted in Gaming Bullshit

Electronic Arts’ Star Wars Battlefront 2 sparked a controversy that landed on the front page of Reddit and garnered the attention of at least 15 European countries and one American State. This got me thinking about recent events and how it has made me think about how this affected my enjoyment in gaming.

Remember that our goal is to reach financial independence and be happy. I remember falling in the loot box trap and how I almost spiraled into a non-stop gambling spree. I want to help you guys not do what I did.

What are loot boxes?

Loot boxes are digital boxes that you open and you can randomly get cool prizes from it. The process of obtaining (or opening them) depends on the game, but it usually comes down to spending some actual real money to obtain one or a way to open one.

This wasn’t apparent before, but thanks to regulations in China and Japan, game developers now have to show gamers what their chances of getting their elusive prizes are. Let’s take a look at an example of these odds from a mobile game called Eternal Senia:

Loot box chances at Eternal Senia
These are ridiculous odds!

Unbelievable, eh? Not only that, these are just for types of cards alone! I can scroll even further and it will outline what the chances are for each card in the pool! So if I wanted to obtain a specific card, I only have a chance as low as 0.04% (after some rounding) of getting that card!

So let’s do some math. Let’s say you open 100 boxes. These boxes have the same rolls each time you open, which means that if you open another box after this current one, that box will have the same 0.04% chance of getting that card you want as this one.

Chances of you not getting your card when you open your box: 1 – (0.04/100) = 0.9996

Doing this 100 times: 0.9996^100 = 0.9608

Your chance of you getting that card in 100 tries: 1 – 0.9608 = 0.0392 → 0.000392%

Yep, these are really bad chances. Not only that these loot boxes have fancy celebratory animations that congratulate you for getting your nice loot! People love to be congratulated! They like to see the fancy things! We’re all prone to it, even though the screen just told you got crap! It’s frankly addictive!

Why is this a trap?

Bubble Hat.
I finally got a cool hat. But it’s BUBBLES. D:

When loot boxes first came out on Team Fortress 2, I was lured by the idea of having cool hats. And not just any cool hat either. It was a cool hat with cool effects. I’m a sucker for cosmetics and I’m not the only one. Lots of gamers love to customize everything about their game, which includes their characters. I spent almost $200 trying to get a hat with cool effects! I did get one eventually, but I was never happy, because I didn’t get that cool effect I wanted. This was made before the mandatory laws for developers to show all of their loot chances! I had no idea what I was going into! It wasn’t pure disappointment either though, I showed off my hats a lot while I was playing, but I could never get rid of that sour feeling. I will say this that this was a bad investment.

While cosmetics aren’t too bad on that scale, as it did not affect gameplay (unless your computer is garbage) there are many games with loot boxes that featured gameplay changing elements. These are very apparent in a lot of games developed in Asian countries, like Korea and Japan (whose marketed audience is in the mobile industry). Usually these features grant you a huge advantage if you get one of the rarest findings offered in the game. This really ticked off many players because it erased the value and concept of progression in the game. This encouraged a system where players with big wallets (affectionately called “whales”) would just throw money at the developers to eventually get that rare game-breaking drop. Star Wars Battlefront 2 has gotten this phenomena exposed to the whole world.

Also, loot boxes of today tend to have these nice flashy graphics with slot like mechanics that allowed you to watch how close your desired loot escapes your clutches. Here’s the shocking truth of this: your prize is already predetermined. Most likely you are already set to lose.

I absolutely hate them.

I hate, hate, hate loot boxes. People don’t understand why I hate them so I shall outline it here.

I hate that when I play against someone who has won something that I wanted, I go into a green fit of envy. I can’t get my prize otherwise either by earning it, or the not so bad option, buying it directly.

I get angry when I get wrecked in a game that has interesting and deep mechanics and I found out my opponent has a piece of gear that I cannot get elsewhere. My hard work in progression is ruined because someone has cheesed through certain spots that I still have trouble with because of a game-breaking piece of gear.

I abhor the idea of buying my way through progression because in a game that doesn’t feature player versus player has a turtle-like pace of manually grinding to the next stage. I am encouraged to buy and if I wanted to progress, I either have to rely on outrageous luck to win (if I refuse to buy) or buy for a significantly better chance of winning.

I don’t like how these flashy graphics get my hopes up for something that already tells me I lost. I don’t like losing. Or rather, I don’t like paying money for something to tell me that I lost. Every purchase you do should tell you that you’re a winner and a worthy prize at that.

What can you do to avoid this?

It’s actually much simpler than you think. Just don’t buy them. For some people it’s already harder than it sounds.

If you’re already stuck in the trap, I have to urge you to pull out. Think of it this way: loot boxes are very much like gambling at a slot machine. It is actually frightening that you can get trapped into a loop that you will never win and never get your investment back. The fact that there are mechanics like this in a hobby meant for children is absolutely terrifying. If you imagine yourself like pulling a slot machine, maybe that can help you. Remember this: if you try to win your money’s worth back, you’ll never get it back. You lost those dollars in the slot machine. It’s better to spend them to make them work for you.

Now that the government is getting involved, I also highly urge you to talk to your local representative and ask them what they are doing about this. Get active and involved. Implore that future generations are getting hooked into gambling and they don’t know it. (Ok, really, we’re looking out for ourselves here, but hey helping others not falling into this trap is rather convincing to get others to rally to our cause!)

Loot boxes are the bane of any financially savvy gamer.

It is hard to believe that we are being introduced to such a costly consumable, especially to young children who are coming to follow in our footsteps! For any concerned gamer parent out there, it’s best to keep these out of their hands. I wanted you guys to know my story as to why I hate loot boxes. I fell into the trap of gambling for nothing and it has cost me a lot. There are some people who spent over $10 000 on these!

Please share to your friends and family! I just wanted to get this out there!

But don’t worry, I hope you still stick around. The next few posts will be more informative and instructional. 😉