My Head (Canon) Exploded! The Mental Discomfort of Star Wars: The Last Jedi

NOTE: There are spoilers for The Last Jedi in this article. Please stop reading if you have not seen the movie yet.

The Last Jedi posterWhen I started writing this article, the first paragraph detailed my excitement for Star Wars: The Last Jedi and how the only expectations I had were that it would be a good movie. At one point in the original article I wrote, “I was happily absent of expectations before the film.” It felt true when I wrote it; it really did. As I kept writing, I realized it was not true. It was actually far from true! I had many expectations for the film beyond it being good. I was just unaware of them all.

There is a moment in The Empire Strikes Back when Yoda warns Luke not to take his weapons into the cave. Luke asks, “What’s in there?” And Yoda responds, “Only what you take with you.”

The Last Jedi is a Rorschach test of a film.

Consciously and subconsciously, we all have expectations about what Star Wars should be. And when The Last Jedi challenges those expectations – or openly subverts them – it triggers an anxiety reaction. How we monitor and process that reaction likely goes a long way to determining if we thought The Last Jedi was a “good” movie or not.

I’m not here to tell you how to react to The Last Jedi. What I am suggesting is to review the expectations you had about the film and franchise because I was unaware of many of my own expectations. Overall, I thought the film was brilliant, and I would like to harness the nervous energy I experienced during those two-and-a-half hours while watching the movie on opening night.

Because that feeling of plunging into the unknown was pure electricity.

My response to the Rorschach test of The Last Jedi is below.

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Ego Check with The Id DM – Episode 24 – Deven Rue

Deven Rue bio pic

Deven Rue

Deven joins me to discuss her art, approach to cartography, and her interactions with the roleplaying game community. She talks about being introduced to Dungeons & Dragons at the age of 14 and the importance of finding a hobby and community that felt comfortable. She details her visual impairment, and how that has influenced her personal and professional life. She discusses how she transitioned from painting to woodburning to illustration in recent years, and how she drew the attention of the larger roleplaying game community. Deven talks about the initial pressures of interacting with fans, and how that has subsided over time. She closes by talking about her efforts to monetize her talents including how recent proposed changes to Patreon caused her to adjust her process.

Enjoy the 24th episode of Ego Check with The Id DM! And please subscribe to the podcast at one of the links below:

You can also listen to the show right here:

Please consider leaving a review on iTunes and help spread the word about the show.

New episodes are released the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month. The first episode of 2018 is scheduled to post on January 2nd.

If you are interested in coming on the show for an interview, or would like to become a sponsor, contact me to make arrangements.

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Dungeons & Dragons Holiday Giveaway

As I recently updated on my Patreon page, it has been quite a year for my family and I. Through it all, I have been happy to post new episodes of Ego Check with The Id DM and write a few articles for the blog. I wish to end the year on a high note to celebrate the podcast, and that brings us to the Dungeons & Dragons Holiday Giveaway! At the end of the week, I’ll select a random person from those that enter to win the following fabulous group of prizes (my D&D table is not included!):

Prize 1

Enter to win some loot!

  • One copy of Xanathar’s Guide to Everything
  • One Dice bag with D&D dice
  • One Tome of Annihilation dice tin
  • Four Tomb of Annihilation notebooks
  • Assorted D&D stickers

The giveaway above supporting ‘Ego Check with The Id DM’ is not administrated, sponsored, or endorsed by Wizards of the Coast.

How to Enter

There are two steps to enter the contest for a chance to win the loot pictured above:

  1. Follow me on Twitter
  2. Like or Retweet my pinned tweet, or this tweet featuring my recent interview with Greg Tito, Senior Communications Manager for Dungeons & Dragons at Wizards of the Coast

That’s it.

The random drawing from those that enter the contest will take place on Friday, December 15th, and then I can get the prizes in the mailbox so it arrives to the winner before the holiday.

I am hoping 2018 is less tumultuous; however, I am fortunate to have a great deal of support from family, friends, and a wonderful online community of followers and fans. Truly and sincerely, thank you to everyone that continues to support my creative efforts. Have a fantastic holiday season, and good luck scoring the loot!

 

Posted in Ego Check, Gratitude, Wizards of the Coast | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ego Check with The Id DM – Episode 23 – Greg Tito

Greg Tito, Senior Communications Manager for Dungeons & Dragons

Greg joins me this week to discuss his career path before joining Wizards of the Coast in 2015, and details his roles and responsibilities as Senior Communications Manager for Dungeons & Dragons. He talks about his love of tabletop roleplaying games, and provides a compelling answer to the question, “What is D&D?” Greg discusses how D&D is built by a lean staff of approximately 25 individuals, and how many of those individuals have long tenures on the product and with each other. He speaks about the growth of streaming and video delivery services, which has allowed the tabletop hobby to expand into newer audiences in recent years. He briefly reviews some internal data that shows the average fan of D&D is skewing younger and more diverse, and he explores how Wizards of the Coast can continue to increase outreach and representation to broaden the fanbase.

Enjoy the 23rd episode of Ego Check with The Id DM! And please subscribe to the podcast at one of the links below:

You can also listen to the show right here:

 

Please consider leaving a review on iTunes and help spread the word about the show.

New episodes are released the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month. The final episode of the year will post on December 19th, 2017.

If you are interested in coming on the show for an interview, or would like to become a sponsor, contact me to make arrangements.

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Ego Check with The Id DM – Episode 22 – Megan Connell, Psy.D.

Megan_Connell_02.jpg

Dr. Megan Connell

I’m joined this week by Dr. Megan Connell, a licensed psychologist who is currently using Dungeons & Dragons in two therapy groups to teach children social skills and empowerment. She speaks about motivations for pursuing a career in psychology, including her decision to join the military after the events of 9/11. Dr. Connell provides her insights into how dungeon mastering is essentially people management, and how DMs can use specific skills to improve gameplay for all involved. She covers how important it is to talk with your players to establish ground rules and resolve potential conflicts. She details her use of a Session 0 for all new campaigns to accomplish these goals. We review how mental health symptoms can manifest for players at the table, and present some strategies on how to address these situations. She talks about her Psychology and D&D video series featured on YouTube and her stream, Clinical Roll, which features numerous mental health professionals playing Dungeons & Dragons.

Enjoy the 22nd episode of Ego Check with The Id DM! And please subscribe to the podcast at one of the links below:

You can also listen to the show right here:

Please consider leaving a review on iTunes and help spread the word about the show.

New episodes are released the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month. The next episode will post on December 5th, 2017.

If you are interested in coming on the show for an interview, or would like to become a sponsor, contact me to make arrangements.

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Ego Check with The Id DM – Episode 21 – Jerry LeNeave

Jerry

Jerry LeNeave

Jerry, known as The Dread Gazebo, talks about his views on the changing climate around tabletop and vidoegaming this decade. He speaks the lifespan of gaming blogs and the rise of streaming. He details his enjoyment of Shadow of the Demon Lord, and answers questions regarding gameplay. Jerry presents his thoughts on streaming culture, and how it often turns into a toxic environment. We explore the social contract of playing games like Dungeons & Dragons, and long for briefer gameplay experiences. We close the show by discussing the unique aspects of forming close bonds with others online because of gaming, and how those bonds can shift when we actually meet each other in person.

Enjoy the 21st episode of Ego Check with The Id DM! And please subscribe to the podcast at one of the links below:

You can also listen to the show right here:

Please consider leaving a review on iTunes and help spread the word about the show.

New episodes are released the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month. The next episode will post on November 21st, 2017.

If you are interested in coming on the show for an interview, or would like to become a sponsor, contact me to make arrangements.

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Climbing to Legend & Managing Anger in Hearthstone

It’s the 31st of August, and I have only a few hours remaining to reach the Rank of Legend in Hearthstone. Once Thursday turns into Friday the season will reset, and it’s back to the beginning of the Ranked climb. For the past week or more, I’ve been bouncing between Ranks 3 and 5. Last night, I was able to breach Rank 2, and Legend finally feels like it’s a possibility. I’m filled with a mixture of excitement and anxiety as I try to minimize the dreadful thoughts of failure swirling in my mind. Our 7-month-old son is (thankfully) soundly asleep, and my wife has agreed to let me spend tonight chasing this goal. However, she remains bemused:

“What is this you’re trying to do?”

“The card game I play on my phone. I’ve been playing it for over two years. I’ve never been this close to Legend before. It’s something I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to do.”

“Why does it matter if you’re Legend?”

“It’s an achievement. It’s something that I can check off the list, and not have to worry about it in the future. And you get a prize of sorts, so other players know that you’ve reached Legend.”

“You realize that sounds — “

“Ridiculously silly. Yes, I’m aware!”

“Well, good luck.”

My motivation to achieve Legend has numerous facets, and the most salient at this point is, “Once I do this, I’ll never HAVE to do it again.” The path to Legend is paved with experience, skill, money – and time. Time is a significant factor. There is no quick way to Legend, and even the fastest run to Legend from Rank 20 with no losses would require playing 56 games. The majority of Hearthstone games last between 5-10 minutes, so even the near-impossible 100% win-rate from Rank 20 to Legend run would take approximately seven hours to achieve.

A practical win-rate for a professional player is perhaps in the 70% range, which would be an average of 145 games and 18 hours of gameplay. Those of us mortals playing Hearthstone in the real world can hope to reach a win-rate of 60%, which means an average of 267 games from Rank 20 taking over 33 hours of gameplay. Even 60% is a strong performance, so what if you’re only able to achieve a 55% win-rate? That means you need to play an average of 451 games over 56 hours to reach Legend.

As Hootie and the Blowfish once mused, “Time, why you punish me?

I find Hearthstone to be an enjoyable game though losing is very-much baked into the product. Even the most successful (or “broken”) decks during the past two years only achieved a 55% win-rate, meaning that they are losing 45% of the time. Above it was highlighted that a 55% win-rate requires an average of 451 games to achieve Legend from Rank 20 in Hearthstone, or approximately 56 hours of gameplay. That win-rate means that over 25 hours is spent losing games.

Twenty-five hours!

A useful skill in Hearthstone is learning to cope with the losses that will surely happen. Losses will be predictable at times, and others will sprout up in the most soul-crushingly, creative ways. Losing can lead to frustration and anger, which in turn interferes with our brain’s ability to solve problems. Hearthstone is a game of questions and answers between two opponents. Anything that interferes with the brain’s ability to solve problems is going to make winning a game of Hearthstone more difficult.

Since the climb to Legend requires exposure to many hours of losing games, it would be helpful to reduce the suffering that often comes with those losses. An excellent method for reducing the suffering from losing is to rely on anger management techniques. The following article details stress and anger management strategies that have been shown to be effective in clinical practice. I also review useful resources that any Hearthstone player can access to improve his or her understanding of the game. Below, I present three useful strategies for climbing to Legend in Hearthstone:

  1. Be mindful.
  2. Be prepared.
  3. Be proactive to deal with anger.

These strategies helped me achieve Legend for the first time on August 31st, and I even had hours to spare to bask in the glow of a shiny new Card Back.

Hearthstone Screenshot 08-31-17 22.25.53

Seriously so happy I can check this off the To-Do List!

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