Writer. Gamer. Adopted Mountain Man. I write about games, mental health, and the odd piece of fiction. @PeterCacek on Twitter.
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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 — should fortune favor us — we could rack up enough tickets to get our very own Sega Genesis or Super Nintendo. …


A strange profession requires equally strange people

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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 even the barest knowledge of how to make beer, you could start a brewery. My start came from a small local brewery that was able to ride that wave. Over the next seven years, I clawed my way up to a leadership position with one of the largest breweries in the state. It required a lot of passion, hard work, and an insane amount of luck to get to that point. The pay was never great, and the working conditions were always rough, but it was what I wanted to be doing. …


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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.

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Source: Matthew Scott via Wikimedia.

You stand in a haphazard line against a cold brick building, alongside two-hundred other hopefuls, waiting on the chance to be one of the first to get the newest game console.

Inside the building, haggard-looking employees rush back and forth, moving displays, setting up stanchions, laying out the red carpet, and completely rearranging the store in a way to keep you and all the other dedicated — possibly rabid — gamers outside from completely demolishing their hard work. …


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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 to sit back, push away the keyboard, and focus on yourself. …


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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 start it up day after day? …


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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 player wandering an expansive world, capturing iconic monsters from the series, and fighting alongside them. Looking back, I believe it was the art style that swayed me. These cute, doll-like characters bouncing around in a brightly colored world, forcing hulking behemoths of destruction to do their bidding looked so out of place that I just had to see what this game was about. It would either be a fun, light-hearted romp or an incredibly weird experience. …


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How Spiritfarer made me a more compassionate person

Games are in a unique place when it comes to the types of media we consume. More than any song, movie, or book, games put us — the player — in an active role to experience what it has on offer. And with that comes stronger emotional feedback. Whether it’s saving the princess, solving the puzzle, or winning the match, it means more because it happened to us directly.

A good game sticks with us because of this emotional bond we create with it. Think about the last game that made you cry. Or laugh. Or swell up with pride. Or caused you to become so angry that you threw your controller at the screen and stormed out of the room. These are all emotions that we as gamers are well acquainted. Sometimes, though, a game doesn’t just stick with you. …

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