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.

Advertisements
Posted in Ego Check, Podcast | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

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!

Continue reading

Posted in Hearthstone | Tagged , , , | 20 Comments

Ego Check with The Id DM – Episode 20 – Duane Sibilly

Duane Sibilly bio pic

Duane Sibilly

Duane has been cultivating Hammer Gaming, a community for like-minded players who wish to avoid the toxicity that is often found in online games. He speaks about consulting with other gamemasters like myself, and we talk through an example of how we collaborated to flesh out various characters in my Dungeons & Dragons campaign.

Duane then delves into his experiences as a person of color playing video- and tabletop games, and the obstacles he has encountered over the years while trying to engage with the hobby. Here is a brief segment of this discussion:

I’m a person of color and… finding groups of gamers that are diverse continues to be a challenge. It can be very difficult to find other folks who look like me. And that’s not a huge problem; I’ll play with whoever wants to pull up to the table. It would be nice to have a bit more diversity in gaming. And I’ve encountered that on both ends – both as someone who helps run a community and have new gamers come to us, and as someone who goes to conventions and wants to sit down at tables with strangers and play games with them. It doesn’t happen very often but every now and then – I’ll get a funny look. Like, “Oh, hey, don’t see people like you very much at the table.” And I just shrug and play, because I’m there to play…

The representation problem isn’t just at the tables. It’s also in the content. I have a very difficult time finding folks who look like me or who represent stories outside of the Western European norm in the content published by tabletop RPG creators… To quote Avery Brooks who played Ben Sisko on DS9, “It is very important that brown children and brown people in general can see people who look like them in contemporary mythology.” And I really hope more effort is made… In addition to being at the table, it really needs to start showing up in the content. And I think it’s not going to start showing up in the content until more creators like Quinn [Murphy] are employed by the publishers or contracted by the publishers and say, “Hey, look. We need to tell these kind of stories. Let’s go ahead and hire the people that can tell them.”

He offers advice for other players and content creators to make gaming a safer space for a wider audience. He details how Hammer Gaming came to be created, and how it has evolved from a World of Warcraft guild to a vibrant community of 40-50 friendly gamers. We close the show by talking about Destiny 2, and he tries to convince me to dive in when it releases for PC.

Enjoy the 20th 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:

[audio https://theiddm.podbean.com/mf/play/jn2r53/Ego_Check_with_The_Id_DM_-_Episode_20_-_Duane_Sibilly.mp3]

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 7th, 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.

Posted in Ego Check, Podcast | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ego Check with The Id DM – Episode 19 – Enrique Bertran

Enrique Bertran bio

Enrique Bertran

Listen to Enrique Bertran, better known as NewbieDM, discuss the evolving Dungeons & Dragons landscape during the past 10 years. He shares his insights about how roleplaying games continue to get closer to “mainstream” status, and how 5th Edition D&D is a good system. We spend time reviewing D&D’s latest adventure, Tomb of Annihilation, which Enrique says “is 5th Edition running on all cylinders” and “the best adventure Wizards of the Coast has put out… since at least 2008.” He delves into the specifics of the adventure – without too many spoilers – and offers Dungeon Masters advice on how to run the game a bit differently than published to enhance the experience of the players. He speaks about the benefits for using online tools such as D&D Beyond and Roll20 to run his gaming sessions, and talks about his desire for official adventure content from Wizards to be briefer. He concludes with thoughts on a possible future project geared toward a roleplaying game for children.

Enjoy the 19th 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 October 17th, 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.

 

Posted in Ego Check, Podcast | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ego Check with The Id DM – Episode 18 – Jeff Chin

Jeff Chin

Jeff Chin, demonstrating how Bowties works.

I’m joined by Jeff Chin, Co-Founder of Road To Infamy Games, and he speaks about lessons learned from successfully launching two prior games through Kickstarter. Readers may remember my interview with Road To Infamy last summer, when they spoke with me about their second Kickstarter project, Galactic Debate. He details Road To Infamy’s latest Kickstarter campaign, Bowties: The Dapper Drinking Game. Jeff talks about his inspiration for the game and the development process for taking the game from initial conception to playtesting, and hopefully manufacturing. We discuss social behavior as it relates to consuming alcohol in public spaces – and playtesting games. He answers questions about the possible competition with other Kickstarter campaigns, and how he has embraced collaboration with other creators.

Enjoy the 18th 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 October 3rd, 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.

Posted in Ego Check, Podcast | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Childhood Ruined

ChildhoodRuinedLogo_final small

Thanks to Jimi Bonogofsky for the logo!

Earlier this summer, a close friend, Chris, and I launched a new podcast, Childhood Ruined. The title is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the notion that various things we were fond of while growing up in the 1980’s are not mangled for some reason in the modern day. We saw the podcast mainly as a forum to catch up with each other, and to talk about the realities of being two nerds beyond the age of 40. Chris and I are both mental health providers (we met in graduate school close to 20 years ago), and we thought an audience might enjoy listening in to our conversations about the intersections of geekdom, pop culture, and mental health. You can download and subscribe the podcast at the following locations:

iTunes

Podbean

The first episode truly hit the mark in terms of feeling like a part of our formative years were lost. We recorded the weekend after Chris Cornell died, and learned that his death was by suicide. We spoke about our love of alternative music in the 1990’s, which was during our high school years, and how Cornell’s suicide complicated the relationship with his music. We also explored the stages of grief, the realities of life with depression, and how it is vital to openly talk with loved ones about suicide.

In the second episode, we shared our thoughts on how music has changed in importance over time, and then dove into how our consumption of music has changed in the past 20-30 years. From buying cassette tapes in the 80’s to streaming music in the present day, we explored how and why music feels different now. The results from a recent research article about engagement in music over the lifespan was reviewed.

Chris and I felt like we were finding out grove with Childhood Ruined by the time we recorded the third episode. We spoke about a recent article, Why Do We Play Games Nowadays? The article presented eight reasons for playing games, and we provided our reactions to the reasons presented. Along the way, we detailed how our approach to gaming has changed over time and explored the changing nature of community in gaming, including the rise of eSports.

The fourth episode focused on Chris’ enjoyment of electronic dance music (EDM), and how he turned that into a hobby of mixing music and DJ’ing. This transitioned into a conversation about music festivals such as Electric Daisy Carnival, and the psychological principles that often result in bad behavior at these shows. We discussed the grief associated with losing touch with important hobbies as we age, and how our children fill that void in some ways. Chris talked openly about his son being on the autism spectrum and how that shapes his experience as a father.

Chris and I had put together four shows in four weeks, and we were feeling better and better about the content. However, soon after we posted the fourth episode I experienced a devastating personal loss when my brother died suddenly. Chris also spent weeks during the summer dealing with some personal matters – and Childhood Ruined got put on the shelf just when it felt like it was getting into a good routine.

And We’re Back

We decided to hop back on the horse this week, and recorded an episode about how we both approach competitive gaming, and how we handle the management of hobbies and collections. I talked about my first real attempt to reach the Legend Rank in Hearthstone, which resulted in an increase in stress, frustration – and maybe an ulcer! Chris provided some counsel to me, and we reviewed coping strategies for dealing with the anxiety that can come along for the ride during competitive gaming. Chris reviewed a current dilemma related to his collection of Magic: The Gathering cards and music albums, and we both talked about how hobbies from our teens and twenties start to lose a bit of meaning and value as we age.

Hearthstone Screenshot 08-31-17 22.25.57.png

Feels good, man.

After grousing about how “miserable” it was for me to try hard to achieve Legend in Hearthstone during the last episode, I succeeded in that quest after all. I believe talking out my frustrations with Chris was a big factor in being able to regroup and focus on that task – and I did have fun with it. I plan to write about my season of hitting Legend in Hearthstone in the future; stay tuned.

Our plan is to record and post new episodes almost every Friday starting later in September. If the content sounds up your alley, then give Childhood Ruined a listen, and let us know what you think.

Posted in Podcast | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Ego Check with The Id DM – Episode 17 – Ohad Zach

Ohad Zach bio pic

Ohad Zach, General Manager of Vicious Syndicate

I’m joined by Ohad Zach (ZachO), General Manager of Vicious Syndicate and writer of the weekly Data Reaper Report, which provides comprehensive statistical analysis for Hearthstone. He spoke about his fandom of Blizzard games and joining forces with Vicious Syndicate to create a new type of meta report for Hearthstone. He discusses the initial concept for the Data Reaper Report, and how the report has improved since it launched in May 2016. He speaks to how the accurate data analysis in the reports have altered the Hearthstone landscape – from how tournament matches are called by casters to how the meta adapts and settles after a new expansion release. At various times throughout the interview, Ohad responds to my anecdotal perceptions of current Hearthstone gameplay with analysis based on tens of thousands of game results.

For example, he details how the current Hearthstone meta is perhaps the healthiest it has ever been, why the Warlock class is in such a bad state at the moment, why Pirate Warrior in Wild is not as strong as people may think, and how Crystal Rogue shapes the Standard experience.  He talks about the latest addition to Vicious Syndicate, the Wild Data Reaper Report, which provides a similar type of statistical analysis to the Wild format. And we explore the casual and competitive allure of Hearthstone in addition to how Vicious Syndicate overlaps at times with Blizzard staff, streamers, professional players, and a thriving online community.

Enjoy the 17th 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 July 4th, 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.

Posted in Ego Check, Hearthstone, Podcast | Tagged , , | Leave a comment