The Gaming Life: How to be Your Best, In-game and Out of Game

"Spartacus" here, and today I'm gonna talk about a little different subject, but it's one that we all should think about: how gaming affects our life, and what we can do to use gaming to our benefits and not let it become something we no longer enjoy.

So to start this off, I'm gonna talk a little bit about my experiences with gaming. As I'm sure many people can relate to, Magic was my gateway game. I started back up in 2012 with that, when I was a dorky freshman in high school. I was awful, but I had a pretty strong community to go to to play and learn at when I first started. I played a lot of games with my dad, who probably to blame for my gaming hobbies, since he let me start using his classic Nintendo consoles from pretty much the moment I could hold a controller. Towards the end of 2013, I was looking for something new, and that led me to make the jump into miniatures with Warmachine/Hordes. I played Cygnar, and I was really bad. But the important part was that I absolutely loved the whole package of miniature gaming. I was actually surprisingly decent at painting, and I owe a huge thanks to my buddy Justin for teaching me the basics and giving me some paints to get me started. Most of my allowance or whatever money I made from my jobs went into that game, and I have no regrets about that. The guys I played with were also fantastic and gave me some of the best gaming experiences and nights of my life. I pretty much jumped on the Grymkin train the day they were revealed. The Dreamer's model is probably one of my favorite models I've ever painted.

Shortly before Grymkin happened, however, I met my partner in crime, Johnny. He was another WarmaHordes player, and I started to become decent friends with him. I saw him post something about Guild Ball once, and, well, the rest was history. I played only one game before I had him snag a decent lot for me. Shark was exactly what I wanted, and he's still probably my favorite captain. So here we are, a year and a half later, and I'm 6 guilds in, I've traveled 3-4 hours for fun, and I'm a pundit. Never guessed I'd have been here.

One of the hardest things I've dealt with is trying to balance the game(s) with live, especially recently. I'm at a full course load this semester for school, I've got a part time job on campus, I'm doing a bunch of other things on campus, and I still have to run events and whatnot back home, which fortunately for me is a 30 minute drive. I spend a lot of weekends running back and forth for games or just going home, and it can get stressful when I have other things going on. I don't remember the last time I got a WarmaHordes game in honestly. But there's some things I've discovered that have helped me keep a balance between my "normal" life and my gaming life.

1. Remember why you love the game.
This is probably one of this biggest things you can do to prevent burnout on a game. You've most likely spend a lot of money and even more time playing the game, and you obviously have your reasons why you love the game. As for the modeling aspect, it's a nice way for me to get a creative outlet on a semi-regular basis. One of the things that I know has kept me in the game is the people.  For me, it's just a nice way to meet new people and hang out with my close friends. Some people think I'm crazy when I say I'm excited to make a 2 hour drive to Milwaukee to see some super cool people and hang out for an afternoon, or that I'm excited to head to Chicago this weekend for Ben Lang's Snake Draft and probably get stomped on by the Strictly the Worst guys. So I guess what I'm trying to say is that if you wanna make sure you stay in the game and enjoy it,

2. Find a fantastic group.
Easier said than done, I know. I've been very fortunate that the people I've brought into the game have been people that I'm already friends with. If you're trying to make a group or better one you're part of, try and not take games seriously, even in tournaments (Johnny's terrible at this. 12-0 last game.). For those of you who don't have a meta where you live and have to travel, really try to make those few times a month you can manage to get there count. Just because you're meeting up for a game doesn't mean it has to just be the game. Grab a bite to eat before or after. Be actual friends with your gaming partners, which is something I think that gets lost sometimes in miniature games. My group has always been this way, and I'm happy that it is. Honestly, moving out was relatively easy for me, but one of the hardest things was knowing I'd have a very hard time getting games in with those guys on a regular basis.

3. Ignore/remove toxicity.
I can say 3 words that will spark some fire in the Guild Ball Supporters group on Facebook: Veteran Captain Salt. Probably gonna get some flak for that. Sorry, not sorry. If someone's having a good time with something, let them. Don't try to squish their fun just because you don't like that thing. Yes, things can get annoying, but if they're not causing problems, don't interfere. But if you have toxic players in your community, you need to act now. That's what kills gaming circles. Pull them aside and have a serious talk with them. If they don't change, then you or your store needs to step up and solve the issue, and this could be a number of things. I'll leave that up to you, since every case is different. A little tough love (if you know the person can handle it) is okay, but there's a fine line between tough love and being a dick. I know I can come close to this line every now and then, but I do really mean well. It's something I, and I'm sure a lot of us, need to work on.

4. Don't stress.
Didn't do well in your last game? Haven't played in a month? Haven't painted a model in weeks? Don't worry. Nobody's holding it against you (other than maybe yourself). It's a game. Most of you reading this aren't playing for international titles, so have fun. Be goofy. I know what it feels like to think your painting jobs are fantastic then put those models right next to someone who's got pro painted models. It sucks. But they're experts. That's their thing. You're having fun with it no matter what. So what if you can't do eyes or skin tones. You are doing your best, and I'm proud of you. You may have been 12-0'd your last 6 games, or you're showing up to an event with half painted models. But you know what? You're not giving up. And you're awesome for that.

5. If you need a break, take it.
I get it. Sometimes you get burnt out on a game. That happened with me and Fallout 4. I love the game, but I haven't played it in months after I put 100 plus days into my main save file. It doesn't have to be a long break. If you need a month to step back, take it. If it's just a few days, do it. If you need to leave for a longer period, don't burn the bridges. Stay friends with those people. You'll never know when you'll want to start up again.

6. Do that crazy thing you wanna do.
Wanna paint your Masons to look like astronauts? Wanna drive 3 hours just to lose 4 games but have fun? Wanna be a Pundit? Do. It. Seriously. If you have a crazy thing you wanna do, whether it's a lineup, a paint scheme, or some event idea, do it. It's better to try it and have it not work than not do it at all. I had my Avarisse and Greed finished for a few months, and then I started to finish up my Fish, and I wanted to make a display board for them. One issue: Avarisse and Greed were already based, and I wasn't going to rebase them to fit with my fish since they already were great. So I had a dilemma. How did I fix it? I made a new Avarisse and Greede to fit with my Fish. 

I had the carried version of Greede sitting around, so I hacked off his arms, head, and legs and made Beach Bum Avarrise and Water-Wing-Pool-Noodle-Wielding-Wader Greede. I have them about halfway painted up, and I'll get some finished pictures up soon. Back on topic, I just had a crazy idea for these two, and it came out fantastic (in my opinion). I did this in my college apartment in 30 minutes with green stuff and a toothpick. So if I can do that, you guys can do anything that you want. Go for it. I believe in you.

That's all for today folks! Johnny will have his wrap-up to playing into Farmers later this week!