Tuesday, 1 July 2014

A travel into my gaming history....

...well, today i got sent a new toy. I got home to find a parcel from Amazon waiting for me. Now my partner had said to keep an eye on the post as he had bought me something to say well done for finishing Uni. I opened it up and it was this...

Words cannot express how excited i am by this and i shall tell you why (other than my partner being totally awesome of course....).

There is a gaming tradition in my family having started out in 1979 when my dad brought home one of these...

We lived in a tiny village in Yorkshire at the time and frankly it was the most exciting things i had ever seen. Yes the games in hindsight were very basic and im sure that kids of today wouldnt understand the thrill of something which had no monitor, had to be hooked into the tv and was realllllly sloooow, but it was a revolution! i still remember fondly some of those games - Missile Command, Donkey Kong, Galaxian, Joust...oh they were superb. A few years later we got an Atari 800...

 followed by an Atari ST...

My favourite games on these were adventure type games. As a family we would all sit down and try to work our way through the Scott Adams adventure games - text based adventures where you had to type in the exact word to get the game to go further - no images, just text. Again I'm not sure how the kids of today would cope with n graphics but they sure made your imagination work overtime! Some other family favourites were Ali Baba and Return of Heracles both basic graphic adventure games which we would sit down and play as a family - we still have family 'in jokes' from those days. I think that these adventure games fuelled my love of games like Zelda and Tomb Raider that i love today.

I had a few years without a console (getting married, having no money, getting divorced, life basically...) until my sister gave me an old Playstation - i didn't really get into the PlayStation at first other than Abe's Oddysee which appealed to my sense of humour. Then, after i made the move to Birmingham in 2000 and got a stupidly well-paid job in 2001, i bought a PlayStation 2*, ostensibly to play Prince of Persia. Then a good friend introduced me to Zelda Windwaker on the GameCube and i fell madly in love with the beautiful game with its adventure, puzzles and kooky creatures.

The Zelda games are EXACTLY the kind of games i like obviously harking back to those 80s adventure games. i have played Windwaker countless times - although games may seem an expensive outlay when you get a good one and spend hours and hours on it then they certainly become worth the money. My issue is that many games these days rely on graphics and not story content plus many of the big games are shoot 'em up types which i really don't like. Following Windwaker my other favourite games on the GameCube were Pikmin 1 & 2 which were puzzle solving games.

Over the years that passed i got an X Box 360 and have enjoyed the Assassins Creed series, the new Tomb Raider reboot is superb and Overlord (a more evil version of Pikmin still keeps me entertained) but i never lost my love for the Gamecube. I bought a Nintendo Wii and was so bitterly disappointed - i couldn't get on with the stupid sensor bar and playing Zelda Skyward Sword became a nightmare due to the appallingly bad control system. I sold my Wii quite recently and its a standing joke in our house that when anyone mentions the Wii my standard response is "i fucking HATE the Wii!"

So then Nintendo brought out the WiiU. I was sceptical - i hated the way they had gone down, what i call, the party game console. Im biased as i will forever love that little GameCube...look at it...its cuteness hides a superb games machine...

The problem is that trying to play GameCube games on a large screen tv is hampered somewhat by the picture looking terrible (something to do with resolution and g33ky sh1t that i don't understand...) so when i heard that they were bringing out Windwaker on the WiiU in HD as well as a long awaited sequel to the Pikmin franchise...well i really wanted one. being a poor student i hunted down secondhand WiiU's in CEX and the like but they are just SCARCE. Talking to people who work in CEX and Game, as well as friends who have a WiiU, its because people really like it. So i had to dream of owning one when i had saved up a bit of money.

but NO! here i am with a WiiU sitting in my living room! What are you doing sitting on your PC and writing this rather than playing Pikmin in a frenzy Emma? Well, I've had a little look but my partner had a friend over tonight and they were busy playing Mario Kart - i don't mind Mario Kart but am not a big fan of racing games. Now that Andy's friend has left i daren't go and start playing Pikmin as i will honestly spend hours on it and i have work tomorrow - i don't normally work Wednesday's and if i had known that a WiiU would be sitting in my living room i certainly wouldn't have agreed to go in for a meeting in Coventry in the morning...!!

So my plan for tomorrow afternoon is to get home as soon as possible and then lay claim to the console. Happy days :)

And for those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about in relation to Windwaker or Pikmin 3 then have a gander at these trailers - and give me a shout if you are a fan or have any other games of this type that you think i may like!

Windwaker HD trailer

Pikmin 3 trailer

Happy watching!

* i need to give a shout out to two awesomely brilliant games on the Playstation 2, Okami and Beyond good and evil. Again both adventure games and really, really enjoyable.

Monday, 30 June 2014


So it been almost two years since my last blog post...where did the time go?? A friend recently told me how much he missed my posts so I'm going to attempt to rectify this now that my life has quietened down somewhat....

So, a quick catch up. What have i been doing? Well, finances got the better of me and i had to find myself a paying job. I got a job with Swanswell who are a drug and alcohol support service. just an admin job at first working on the Accredited Programmes team. What are Accredited Programmes i hear you ask? Well, as part of their sentence some offenders get a requirement to do an Accredited Programme - these can range from Sex Offender and Domestic Violence programmes to Thinking Skills programmes. In the West Midlands Swanswell provide programmes to do with substance misuse on behalf of the National Offender Management Service so my role has been to liaise with probation officers to ensure that their offenders are motivated and ready to complete their programme and then to enrol them on the courses. i really love this job - i work within a probation office within Birmingham City Centre where the staff are lovely albeit that they are going through some (in my mind) short-sighted and scary changes thanks to Mr Grayling and the Ministry of Justice. Anyway, although i love the job it doesn't tax my brain (but keeps me very busy!) so I've recently been through some national assessment centres to become a tutor for the courses that we run. I have been successful in becoming a Drink Impaired Driver Programme tutor and a Lower Intensity Alcohol Programme tutor - the link above shows who these course target. I will still continue to perform my admin role but will also do the tutor role so I've increased my hours from part-time to almost full time and start the tutor role within the next few weeks.

So, what about the counselling i hear you ask? how can you fit that in with the increase in work hours? Well, I've finished Uni (big cheer please!) and handed my two final assignments in today. these assignments have been the culmination of five years hard graft and were pretty tough. I had to write about my emerging integrative approach (as my field of therapy is integrative counselling) and a case study based upon one of my clients. Its been an interesting five years where my approach has changed - i started off thinking that i was a person-centres counsellor but ended up being far more psychodynamic with a bit of person-centred thrown in (with a fair bit of Transactional Analysis, Gestalt and redecisioning therapy). Its been an interesting journey! When you start counselling training you are warned about how, as you become more self aware (personal therapy is a requirement), your relationships change and can even break down. My partner has been incredibly supportive and our relationship has just got better but my friendships with certain people have changed along the way.

I'm currently doing a placement which provides open ended NHS counselling (almost unheard of these days) with the LGBT community in Birmingham. I love, love, LOVE it!!! Its not without its troubles and i have an amazing supervisor who supports me incredibly, but the privilege of being with people and getting to know them so intimately is so rewarding. I still have 18 hours of my placement left to do for my uni course (we have to do 100 client hours in total) and then i have to submit my portfolio and undergo a viva but then i will be a fully qualified counsellor. Woop! Go me! I have an option to then undertake a BA top-up degree to get a full degree but have decided to take a year out from studying as i want to concentrate on the new role at work and my clients (i will continue in my placement as i love it so much). Oh, another good thing about the new role at work is that the Accredited Programmes are based upon CBT principles (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for those not in the know!) and as CBT is not a therapy im naturally drawn to (and it has very little place in my therapeutic work) I'm quite looking forward to practising it with offenders as the research evidence shows that it really does work for substance misuse problems.

On a personal note my partner has now moved in with me (a big step for me!) and my lodger continues to live here too....we are a happy little family...especially after our most recent addition.....

Say hello to TJ :)

TJ came to us just before Xmas from Portugal - its a long story - but his family weren't able to look after him anymore...i saw a photo....fell deeply in love and the rest is history. This blog may start to contain many dog photos in future....

So, i realise that this is a long entry but the last two years have been action packed! I wont bore you with anymore for now other than to ask you, dear reader, what you want to see on the blog? I have been asked to make sure that i still do some cookery posts (am more than willing to oblige!) but any other thoughts are most welcome!!

Much love to you all,