Overcoming my worst gaming habit

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Gaming is a costly hobby. A few hundred dollars for a console or PC upgrade, sixty for the latest and greatest game, the inevitable DLC costs, and the memberships required to play online. For me, it seems the worst habit I can think of is stopping, or moving on, before my playthrough is completed. This particular problem is an unnecessarily frequent issue of mine. I spend all this money to play the game, and then get sidetracked with another game, my professional life, relationships, or even the game’s online multiplayer feature. (I’ll play hundreds of hours worth of Call of Duty multiplayer and never finish the campaign.)

This summer, I noticed a friend of mine playing some older games that he had already finished. In the summer slouch of game releases, he had gotten bored and found him self wanting to do another playthrough for achievements and to complete the DLC that had been released since he initially beat it. I realized I hadn’t even gotten around to beating the original campaign of the game even though I bought it. The game in question was, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor; a game that had been in the discussion for every game of the year award in 2014. I remembered loving the rival system, the brutality of the combat system, and the immersive world of Tolkien’s Middle-earth. This game is, without question, worth finishing at least once. How did I never finish it in the almost 3 years since release? How dare I call myself a gamer? This is something I needed to fix.

I dove back into Mordor this summer and found myself slicing, stabbing, and shooting an untold number of bloodthirsty orcs while I moved through an epic story. Now, I can proudly say that I beat Shadow of Mordor and all it’s DLC content this summer. I had a blast! Now, I’m even more hyped for it’s sequel coming this fall, Middle-earth: Shadow of War. My mission continues this summer with The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. Yet another game garnering just about every award it was eligible for. My problem with this game was a little different. There are so many ways to play it, so many skills to get, so many side-quests to do, that I got burnt out on the game because of all the different characters I was trying out before ever beating the main story line. This is the same problem I had with the Fallout series, another Bethesda masterpiece.

This season my goal is to finish each game I buy before I move on to a different one. I can already see Destiny 2 and Call of Duty: WWII breaking that streak for me with the return of classic Call of Duty style gameplay and rage inducing kill streaks that are as rewarding as they are frustrating.

Look like a superhero by working out like one.

 

Hugh Jackman

Image via Flickr Gage Skidmore

So, you’ve been watching all your favorite superheroes come to life on the big screen every summer and cannot believe that those bodies are attainable. I, being more Bruce Banner than Incredible Hulk, decided I would never be as big as The Hulk, but Wolverine? That seems doable, right?

Begin your super hero training here.

Where do I begin? Well, get a gym membership. That seems pretty self-explanatory, but we have to start somewhere. The gym should have plenty of free weights. Most of these exercises will need a dumbbell or barbell. If you have these at home, fine. However, I always feel more motivated to power through the workouts when I am in the gym rather than at home with a dog running around and an Xbox in the other room.

The routine and suggestions for completion

Now that I have a gym membership, I need a routine. I did a bit of research and found pieces of his workout here and there via interviews with Hugh Jackman and his professional trainer, David Kingsbury on websites like bodybuilding.com. What I pieced together is a 4 week or 1 month workout routine. Working the compound lifts like bench press, squat, and weighted pull ups to a heavy 4 sets of 3 reps (4×3) lifts week three and a light 4 sets of 10 reps (4×10) on the final week to recover.

Routine

Week 1: 4×5

Week 2: 4×4

Week 3: 4×3

Week 4: 4×10

I have built my own spreadsheet for this routine to track progress and remember which lift I need to do next. It also keeps the previous week’s weights, so I can decide if I want to increase them for my secondary lifts. This has helped me immensely and I would suggest making a simple spreadsheet for any workout routine. We all take our phones to the gym anyway, we might as well use them for more than music!

Find a sidekick

Bonus points if you bring a sidekick for your superhero inspired workouts. Going to the gym with someone else helps keep you accountable for your sessions. You will motivate each other to get that last rep in, get back to work after rest times, and it is more fun to show off your increasing max lifts to someone who has watched you lift from the beginning.

Reset and reload

When you are ready to start the next month of the routine, you should increase your max weight in the main lifts by 5%, or 10% if a certain lift seemed easy. (Pro tip: Keep track of your max each month to see your improvement.) This is, without a doubt, a long term endeavor. It reportedly took Hugh Jackman four months to get into shape for The Wolverine. He also had a fantastic strict diet which he maintained throughout the process. I, admittedly, am not on as strict of a diet. However, I urge anyone interested in weight loss, or weight gain, to use MyFitnessPal. It is free and incredibly easy to use. There is no reason not to. Be sure to log every meal, every snack, every bite. Seriously, do it. Lying about your calorie intake is the easiest way to stall out your progress.

Remember, you don’t get super strength by doing super easy workouts, these should be difficult but not painful.

If you are interested in doing this workout, check it out here. For more information on the specific lifts, or how to find your one rep max, visit bodybuilding.com they are a fantastic resource for anyone interested in weight lifting and fitness in general.

Why I am excited about Call of Duty: WWII

That satisfying “ding” when you expend the clip of your M1 Garand, the intensity of the flames engulfing everything around you, the immersive, intense, and infinitely tragic setting of WWII France having been destroyed by the largest war the world has ever seen. Those were the best parts of World at War and the other classic Call of Duty games, and they are all coming back for Call of Duty: WWII. Gone are the wall running, drone controlling, laser shooting days of the future. Sledgehammer and Activision are returning to the basics this year, and that is the best decision they have made in years.

Sure, call me old-fashioned if you insist. The truth is, I’m tired of the wall running, jet pack using, and laser weaponry of the sci-fi shooters. I want a good old military shooter with a “boots on the ground” feeling, and that is exactly what Sledgehammer Games co-founder Michael Condrey promised in the E3 Making of Call of Duty video. It is about time, sir.

The campaign will surely feel as epic as almost any other Call of Duty’s has, but on the multiplayer side of things the team has added an exciting new game mode called “War Mode.” In this mode players will battle over objectives to move the match along much like Battlefield has done in it’s multiplayer for years. The difference is, Call of Duty: WWII is keeping it’s fast paced style intact, and will still limit your ability to operate vehicles to kill-streak rewards. This seems to be exactly what traditional fans like myself have wanted from Call of Duty for quite some time.

Yet another beneficial change is coming to the multiplayer experience. The addition of a class system called “Divisions.” There are five divisions to choose from: Infantry, Expeditionary, Airborne, Armored, and Mountain. Players will invest into each division individually as they play. Players will do this by gaining experience and unlocking weapons and attachments for that particular division. According to the official Call of Duty website, this change “gives players the ability to reinforce their individual play styles.” In other words, a player who typically plays with a run-and-gun style would likely choose the Airborne division, which favors the SMG, and unlock the skills and weapons that cater to that play style instead of unlocking the sniper rifle that those who like to wait patiently for the perfect opportunity would enjoy. It makes each bit of experience go toward unlocking something the player may look forward to and actually choose to use.

I will see for myself if it lives up to my high expectations this weekend, when I get access to the multiplayer beta on Xbox One. The beta is available to anyone who pre-orders the game. (September 1-4)