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Writer. Gamer. Adopted Mountain Man. I write about games, mental health, the great outdoors, and the odd piece of fiction. @PeterCacek on Twitter.

It’s cold. It’s snowing. It’s the perfect time for a hike.

Photo by Riccardo Chiarini on Unsplash

After weeks spent inside, hiding away from the world and the escalating events of 2020, I needed to get out. I needed to hike. But it was cold and windy, and everything was buried under a foot of snow. Surely I was better off staying indoors, and seeing what was new on Netflix.

I did it anyway. I moved to the mountains to be closer to the wilderness, and spend my weekends getting lost in the woods. A million trails, parks, and historic sites now made up my backyard. …

A desperate escape for a desperate man

Image public domain, courtesy of The British Library, modified from original.

Three days spent running. Three days through the accursed valley, struggling through a blizzard, trying to stave off starvation and frostbite, while his side bled. The Hunter’s arrow had cut deep, and no matter how hard he tried to staunch the flow, the wound would not close. Now, Tal could run no further.

A snowdrift provided him shelter, and his weak fire offered comfort, but little warmth. Its smoke rose into the gray sky, giving away his location. Not that he could hide. The Hunter always found his prey. …

How this simple game about stacking blocks has grown, changed, and adapted to each new generation

My earliest memories of gaming come from the NES version of Tetris. As one of the first games I ever played, the sights and sounds that came with it are forever engrained in my mind. A flat gray background, colored blocks, and an 8-bit cover of Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies on repeat.

For most of my life, this is how I always envisioned the game. Then I played Tetris Effect for the first time, and everything changed. My original preconceptions of the game shattered, and I saw all the possibilities of what Tetris could be.

Despite not playing…

It’s hard admitting that a career path isn’t right for you, especially when you’ve pursued it for so long

Photo by Jornada Produtora on Unsplash

When I first started as a professional brewer, I thought I knew exactly where my life was going. It was a dream of mine for years to take my joy of homebrewing and transform it into a career. When I landed my first brewing job, I thought that I finally made it.

It took seven years and a lot of self-reflection for me to realize I was on the wrong career path. It took even longer for me to finally work up the courage to leave and pursue something else.

Shifting careers is a normal part of life. On average…

After so many ups and downs, it’s still an uphill battle for this ancestor of modern gaming

I miss arcades. The dimly-lit rooms and flashing lights of the cabinets. The pungent aroma of dust, sweat, and nacho cheese wafting through the air. The cacophonous riot of a hundred different cabinets trumpeting their siren’s call, willing me to drop a quarter into their recesses.

These were our sanctuaries as children. Spaces carved out of society where we were allowed to run wild and abandon our inhibitions, succumbing to the glitz and glamour of games old and new. Where junk food and soda were plentiful, and five dollars was considered an absolute fortune. Reveling in the promise that —…

A strange profession requires equally strange people

Photo by Elevate on Unsplash

For years, there was nothing more I wanted to do than brew beer. I got my first taste of the practice when I took a homebrewing class with a couple of friends. From there, the spark was lit and my path was clear. I was going to become a professional brewer, open my own brewery, and take the world by storm.

This happened ten years ago. In the United States, we were right in the middle of a craft beer revolution. The hype was real, and everyone was getting in on it. If you had the money, the equipment, and…

Long lines, harsh weather, and the fear of missing out. But above it all: comradery.

It’s seven at night. Winter is slowly creeping in, and daylight savings forced the sun to set long ago. A biting wind blows, and it’s threatening to snow. Only five more hours until midnight.

How an indie game uses tried and true mechanics to promote mental health

Ibegin each day with the same routine. A cup of coffee, a quick scroll through social media, and then I retreat to a small grove frozen in time, with a small campfire at its center, and a fox who acts as my guide to better understanding myself and the world around me.

This is Playne, a game designed around bringing life back to the world through meditation.

You can’t play this game with a controller. It can’t be played with others. There are no puzzles or boss fights. Each day, you are given one task— meditate. The game asks you…

How much we value our time with a game plays a large role in the likelihood we’ll spend money on it

It’s been a month since the launch of Genshin Impact. Like many, I was drawn in by the expansive world, the blatant comparisons to Breath of the Wild, and the idea that maybe this game could redefine what it meant to be free-to-play.

In that short time, I managed to see the majority of what the game had to offer. It was open and inviting, with a bunch of fun character designs, but as I progressed I found myself questioning the time I spent with the game. Was I playing it to have fun, or was I just compelled to…

With so many elements at odds with one another, this game still managed to stick with me after four years

I rarely ever preorder a game. I’ve been burned before, having fallen prey in my younger years to the Gamestop clerk warnings that if I didn’t pre-order right then and there, I probably wouldn’t get a copy on release day. I have boxes of sub-par, mediocre, and downright awful games that I was swayed into pre-ordering based on a fancy screenshot or by being tied to a recognizable franchise.

I did, however, make one exception a few years back. Square Enix was making World of Final Fantasy: a spin-off from the original series that incorporated elements of Pokémon, having the…

Peter Cacek

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