How Do You Game in 2022?

My pro­gres­sion into gam­ing was pret­ty straight­for­ward. I start­ed with a VIC 20, fol­lowed by a Com­modore 64, then an Apple IIGS, got a SEGA Gen­e­sis for Christ­mas junior year, then off to col­lege with a Hewlett Packard Pavil­lion. My PlaySta­tion 1 got me through grad school and a PS2 got me through years of under­em­ploy­ment. I dropped my Sony loy­al­ty, get­ting an Xbox 360 when we bought our first house. I upgrad­ed to a Forza Xbox One when I went to Ford. We added a PlaySta­tion 4 Pro a few Christ­mases ago, then to an Xbox Series X last spring. My youngest got a Nin­ten­do Switch some­where along the way, too. This Christ­mas we added a PlaySta­tion 5 and an Ocu­lus Quest 2.

It’s at once embar­rass­ing and over­whelm­ing to try to man­age four gam­ing sys­tems simul­ta­ne­ous­ly and eval­u­ate which games make sense for which plat­form. I’ve tried to sim­pli­fy things with Xbox Game Pass Ulti­mate as part of the Series X pur­chase. That’s been help­ful from a dis­cov­ery and every day play stand­point for count­less titles that would­n’t have been worth $60 or more to prove disappointing. 

Where things get trick­i­er is know­ing which Switch titles are actu­al­ly good for a 2nd grad­er. He’s a good read­er, but some of the games ask a lot of the play­er. Addi­tion­al­ly, try­ing to stay on top of PlaySta­tion exclu­sives may be a chal­lenge. I’ve his­tor­i­cal­ly been an EA devo­tee, so sto­ry-ori­ent­ed games are a bit of a blind spot for me. I’ve pur­chased so many games I nev­er had a hope of fin­ish­ing once we had kids. I did­n’t do a great job man­ag­ing across plat­forms on the last gen con­soles we had pri­mar­i­ly because friends had PlaySta­tion and the prospect of play­ing togeth­er online in the pan­dem­ic was attrac­tive. It has hap­pened maybe a hand­ful of times.

Final­ly, Ocu­lus Quest 2 is new ter­ri­to­ry alto­geth­er. I’ve been gen­er­al­ly bear­ish on VR with the excep­tion of some indus­tri­al appli­ca­tions. What I’ve seen in the last week are some pret­ty sim­ple games that are fine, if not espe­cial­ly immer­sive and fun. Look­ing at this list from the Verge, it looks like there are few com­pelling options for a sports-for­ward kid.

What’s com­ing in 2022 that’s worth look­ing out for?

Another Year Trapped in Amber

I was try­ing to find the right way to describe how 2021 felt and then I read this:

For Niko­las Tsamouta­l­idis, an assis­tant prin­ci­pal, the most vivid image of the post-pan­dem­ic stu­dent body was at lunch this year, when he saw ninth graders — whose last full year in school was sev­enth grade — prepar­ing to play “Duck, Duck, Goose.” “It’s like fifth or sixth graders,” he said, “but in big bodies.”

New York Times

There was a meme float­ing around Face­book this year that went direct­ly to the heart of this, name­ly, that the last “nor­mal” year for a 7th grad­er was 4th grade so the above hit me hard. I cer­tain­ly see it first­hand with my own kids, but rec­og­nize how adults have been impact­ed, too.

At the out­set of the pan­dem­ic, we quick­ly make some risk assess­ments around our pod. They weren’t per­fect; in fact it was com­plete­ly porous, but pared down nev­er­the­less. Our core group was real­ly three fam­i­lies. It has­n’t changed much since. We vis­it­ed Michi­gan twice this year and it was like step­ping back into our social lives.

At the out­set of the pan­dem­ic, it tru­ly felt like an oppor­tu­ni­ty to com­plete­ly reimag­ine our­selves and how we live our lives. It’s felt more like try­ing to get tooth­paste back into the tube, espe­cial­ly as new vari­ants emerge and dis­rupt our lives again and again. How can we as a soci­ety real­is­ti­cal­ly address these challenges?

Remembering Jack Ramsay

My dad died a week ago. We had a com­pli­cat­ed relationship.

What can I say about him? He was a mys­te­ri­ous man. I have few specifics. What I have are some details that paint a gauzy pic­ture of whom I under­stand him to be, or to have been.

I know that his child­hood was fraught. That his father was abu­sive. That his moth­er was abusive. He grew up in West Philadel­phia at 61st and Girard. He had a guardian angel in his aunt Helen, who was also his par­ents’ land­lord. I knew her. He loved her very much.

While details of his boy­hood were scarce, he told amaz­ing sto­ries about his ado­les­cence. As I’ve heard from many Philadel­phi­ans his age, every­one seemed to fight con­stant­ly. The vio­lence was spon­ta­neous and intense. A neigh­bor­hood goon would ter­ror­ize the trol­ley. The plot of land that became Samuel Gom­pers Ele­men­tary School was a Gangs of New York-esque bat­tle­field where my dad punched the lead singer of the Dovells in the nose, or so he claimed. They beat each oth­er with spin­dles from stoop stair­cas­es. Philadel­phia in the ’50s was wild.

He loved bas­ket­ball and played at Over­brook. The team was led by Walt Haz­zard. My dad told me that the top eight play­ers went on to play pro­fes­sion­al­ly. He was not among them.

To hear him tell it, Philadel­phia was so dan­ger­ous, he felt com­pelled to enlist. He claimed that going into the ser­vice saved him from Grater­ford. He joined the Navy and was an air­plane elec­tri­cian aboard the U.S.S. Ticon­dero­ga. I only recent­ly real­ized he was aboard dur­ing the Gulf of Tonkin inci­dent. He wit­nessed a pilot be butchered by a plane pro­peller. For all the sto­ries he would tell about surf­ing through­out Asia, the war deeply affect­ed him. He rarely spoke about it and was sharply crit­i­cal of those who reimag­ined them­selves as war heroes.

There’s anoth­er ellip­sis after he returns home. His dad — a WWI vet born in 1899 — dies in 1963, I think. He mar­ries my mom in 1974. He gets his degree in food mar­ket­ing from Saint Joe’s in ’75. He went at night. They moved to a farm­house in Gabelsville, PA that was built in 1760, where they raised sheep and horses.

I arrived in ’77 and my sis­ter in ’80.

He worked at GE, then Mar­tin Mari­et­ta, then final­ly Lock­heed Mar­tin for 40 years in Val­ley Forge. He was­n’t allowed to talk about what he did, but he brought home amaz­ing sou­venirs that his col­leagues got for him. I have a t‑shirt from the Yeltsin coup. I have a Sovi­et offi­cers hat and a KGB watch. I got a t‑shirt with an ele­phant that just said “Africa.”

He was an amaz­ing provider. He cared very deeply about us kids hav­ing a bet­ter child­hood than him. His abil­i­ty to cre­ate a life for us is unde­ni­able. He want­ed so bad­ly to take us to Hong Kong. We nev­er made that trip.

While our rela­tion­ship grew com­pli­cat­ed as I got old­er, I ulti­mate­ly under­stood that he was doing his very best. I hope he knew that I knew that, even if nei­ther of us was able to say it to each other.

Love you, Dad. Give Aunt Helen a hug and a kiss for us.

Finding the Good in 2016

2016 was a tough year. I broke my leg. My base­ment flood­ed. Rather than dwell on the bad, I took the start of 2017 to think about the things I enjoyed and be thank­ful for those experiences.

  • The Felske Files: when the Phillies were good, there was lit­er­al­ly a brack­et-full of Phillies blogs com­pet­ing for atten­tion. Then 2012 hap­pened. It’s been a slog ever since, but last year a light switched on. The first full year of the Felske Files, a Phillies pod­cast host­ed by John Stol­nis, was one of my favorite things in 2016. As the Phillies rebuild, he’s brought in smart guests and great insights to the con­ver­sa­tion about the future of my favorite fran­chise. The Felske Files is the sports pod­cast the world’s been wait­ing for.
  • Iggy Pop at the Fox The­atre: I’m not some­one who ghoul­ish­ly tries to check box­es on leg­endary artists. I’ve nev­er seen Neil Young or Bob Dylan or Dol­ly Par­ton or Diana Ross or Aretha Franklin. But after Bowie’s death last Jan­u­ary, I felt com­pelled to see Iggy Pop when he came to his home­town. I was­n’t dis­ap­point­ed. The band, led by QOT­SA’s Josh Homme, was impos­si­bly tight and they stuck to a setlist that not only high­light­ed Iggy’s clas­sic work, but com­ple­ment­ed the new mate­r­i­al per­fect­ly. The crowd was amaz­ing, too.
  • Bruce Spring­steen at the Palace at Auburn Hills: con­sid­er­ing I once wrote a piece called, It’s Time to Fire the Boss, I found myself enjoy­ing every minute of his tour behind The Riv­er. Every­thing every­one loves about Bruce is true and, see above, I’m glad I got to see him live. A few weeks lat­er at a Par­quet Courts show, I found myself tap­ping my foot wait­ing for the band to come on stage at 11 pm. I men­tioned to my neigh­bor that Bruce had been on stage for 3 hours at that point.
  • Char­treuse: is it pos­si­ble that one of Detroit’s best restau­rants is under­rat­ed? If you’re vis­it­ing Detroit in 2017 — and you seri­ous­ly should; the New York Times says so — Char­treuse is can’t miss.
  • LVL UP — Hid­den Dri­ver: it was an anthem for me all year.
  • Pitch­fork Fes­ti­val: I had­n’t been to a music fes­ti­val in 20 years until last sum­mer. Pitch­fork Fes­ti­val was worth the wait. Not only did the line­up keep me engaged and enter­tained — Blood Orange was a per­son­al favorite — the weath­er was com­plete­ly beau­ti­ful and the peo­ple were friend­ly and fun to be around. Bonus: meet­ing mem­bers of Super Fur­ry Ani­mals made my day.
  • My neigh­bors: when Grosse Pointe Park was hit by sew­er back­up on Sep­tem­ber 29th, we weren’t the only fam­i­ly affect­ed. 200–300 homes were hit! We were over­whelmed by the out­pour­ing of sup­port from our friends and neigh­bors, who helped us clean up and get back to normal.
  • My fam­i­ly: when our base­ment flood­ed this sum­mer, we lost every­thing in a del­uge. 3+ feet of water wipes out a lot of mem­o­ries in the blink of an eye. It was a chal­leng­ing time, but we all pulled togeth­er and looked for­ward to the future, rather than dwelling on what we lost. We were safe and had only lost things, pre­cious though some of them may have been. My sev­en year old remains the most resilient, lov­ing kid I know and his spir­it real­ly car­ried us through.

As I wrap up this list, I find myself reflect­ing on oth­er moments and expe­ri­ences I omit­ted. It’s reas­sur­ing to know that 2017 is a new year and a fresh oppor­tu­ni­ty to make new memories.

#PublishADraft

Here’s a lit­tle secret to kick­start your per­son­al blog: pub­lish a draft. Sure­ly, you’ve been ago­niz­ing over some post for ages. It’s right there in Drafts. Pick one, clean it up a bit and publish.

In fact, I pub­lished one last week. It was there the whole time!

 Stop being such a per­fec­tion­ist. Let Twit­ter be your chan­nel for #hot­takes. Let the world know you can be thought­ful again and #Pub­lishADraft. If you do, you’ll feel amaz­ing. Promise. 

Use the hash­tag #Pub­lishADraft and let’s see if we can’t reboot a per­son­al blog or two.