🎮 My Wizard of Oz Moment

If you’ve listened to the latest episode of the podcast you would have heard that I’ve been on a bit of a gaming kick recently, more so than I have for a while. I mentioned there that a lot of my time is spent on the Nintendo Switch, despite also owning a screaming fast Xbox One X, so I took a bit of time out to try and understand what the draw is of the Switch, and Nintendo in general.

From an early age, my life was full of adventure and wonder. By the time I had hit my early teen years I had already been on an epic quest to save a princess, I’d visited the stars and even raced a hovercar in the year 2560 at breakneck speeds. Life was good and the future was truly bright. I could do anything.

Role forward another twenty years or so, to early 2019, and the bright future I had been promised was nowhere to be seen. The colourful splendor of my youth had dissipated, only to be replaced with a heavy grey sheen of despair. My life was no longer full of honourable quests and laughing with friends. It was full of monotonous tasks such as the daily commute and a repetitive need to bang my head against a brick wall, metaphorically speaking of course. My life had become a monochromatic reflection of its former glory. Don’t get me wrong, I have a loving family, a good job and my health, but there is an aspect of my life that was in dire need of some colour. I needed a ‘Wizard of Oz’ moment, in that my life, like Dorothy’s, will change from a dull sepia to vivid life and colour.

Very recently I finally had my ‘Wizard of Oz’ moment. My life, once devoid of hope and luminosity, once again exploded into colour. What I am trying to say, via the use of some very convoluted metaphors, is that Shuntaro Furukawa and his company Nintendo were back in my life, thanks to the purchase of the Nintendo Switch. I had owned the Wii U (and Wii) prior to this, but the Wii U just didn’t grab my imagination like the Switch did, and continues to do.

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Since its release at the start of 2017, the system has seemingly exploded. Initially, at least, it was unlikely to be anyones primary console, but it lends itself to be a perfect secondary one. It feels like this has been a major contributing factor to the sales phenomenon the Switch has turned out to be. The flexibility of it’s use-case, as a home console or mobile device ticks so many boxes, and can easily be justified as a companion to an Xbox, not a replacement.

I’ve been a big fan of my Xbox (of various generations) over the years, and again continue to enjoy it, but after hour 500 in Destiny, having torn through thousands upon thousands of repetitive monsters, the grey drabness I mentioned above really started to sink in. I started to miss the colour, energy and pure joy that is a Nintendo console and it’s enviable pile of fantastic IPs.

I recalled my fondest gaming memories, such as playing The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, a game that remains one of my favourite of all time, and of endless multiplayer matches of Goldeneye and Street Fighter 2 with my brother. The list went on and on, with a single, very important link (pun intended) binding my happy memories together. That link being, of course, Nintendo.

My hunger for new Nintendo hardware was not hampered by the lackluster Wii U. The device felt cheap, it didn’t work well and the game catalog ended up being attrocious, but the console did act as yet another example of Nintendo not resting on its laurels and not following the crowd. It was something different, unique and it turns out it formed the very core foundation of what would become the Nintendo Switch.

When I started to see some of the announcement videos, as the launch date approached, I was both very nervous they could actually pull of what was promised this time, still tainted by the Wii U, but also completely on board. if anyone deserves my trust and loyalty when it comes to gaming, it’s Nintendo. It turns out this trust paid off, big time.

The console, as is the hallmark for Nintendo, took past design cues, both those that were successful, and those less so, and evolved the Wii U design into something that both looks, and feels, leaps and bounds ahead of what came before it. The console felt mature, yet maintained so many of the nice, family friendly characteristics that make Nintendo Nintendo, from the quirky dual controllers that can pop up for a quick 2 player action, to the smart colours and designs.

The strength of Nintendo’s past offerings has always sat with their first party games featuring Link, Mario, Kirby et al. This hasn’t changed with the Switch, but something that even Nintendo didn’t bank on, I’d imagine, is the incredibly strong third party support from incredible feats of engineering with ports of Doom and Wolfenstein 2, to unbelievable support from the indie community. Games such as The Messenger and Celeste are some of my favourite games on the system. While these are not Switch exclusives, they do feel so incredibly at home on the dynamic little console.

The point of this short article was not to review the Switch, it’s a bit late for that at this point. It was more to share a thought that gamers need to start remembering what it is that drew them towards the hobby in the first place. I can appreciate that we’re a diverse race, and we all have different ideas of what is fun and enjoyable. If the best graphics and realism are key for you, then by all means keep buying the Playstation 4’s and XBox One’s of this world. If, however, you yearn for a return to pure, and unadulterated fun in your life, I think you’re doing yourself a disservice by not picking yourself up a Switch and jumping into some of the most relaxing, empowering and enjoyable gaming experiences available today. I defy you to fire up Mario Kart 8 and not feel a massive grin crawl across your face …

I will always have an affinity to Nintendo, but systems like the Switch not only cement this for me and bring that much needed colour back into my life, but it will no doubt turn a whole new generation of young gamers onto the fun, lighthearted side of gaming that is needed now, more than ever.​

🎙 21: Getting My Game Face On!

So far, 2019 is shaping up to be the year of gaming here at Dent Towers. Join me on this weeks podcast while I take you through some gaming aspirations for the coming months.

I briefly discuss the new Dent Gaming channel, where you can find me on an occasional stream and clearing out my Switch backlog.

As I mention on the show this week, I’m considering adding a bit more Gaming related reviews, news, stories, and thoughts onto The Dent. If you have any thoughts on this, be they positive or negative, please do get in touch and let me know.

You can find links to the show below:

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You can also find a direct link on the podcast page.

🎙 20: A (Delayed) Look Ahead To 2019

This week I finally get around to sharing a few of the things I’m looking forward to seeing in 2019 and also take a look at some of my favourite blogs, podcasts and content creators I’m looking forward to watching continue to grow and put out some really interesting content over the coming weeks and months.

2018 was an interesting year, and I’m looking forward to what 2019 will bring.

You can find links to the show below:

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You can also find a direct link on the podcast page.

🎙 Appearance: And You Are? #3

Greg Morris, of Bring Your Own Device Podcast fame, recently launched a new interview podcast called And You Are?. The first two episodes featured two extremely fascinating guys, writer and podcaster Daryl Baxter and author Matt Gemmell. If you haven’t already, I recommend you stop reading right now and get caught up with these. I really enjoyed listening to both recently.

While the first two episodes were extremely enjoyable, things take an interesting turn with episode 3, at least for me, because Greg very kindly invited me on as his guest.

It was a pleasure having a chat with Greg. I really enjoyed our conversation that covered everything from tech pundits that are passed their prime, pub landlord etiquette and much more besides. You can check this episode out directly on Greg’s site.

I’m really looking forward to seeing / hearing who Greg speaks with next week, and beyond and I wish Greg all success he deserves throughout 2019 as he continues to grow the BYOD podcast along with his solo projects of And You Are? and his micro cast the GR36 podcast.

Tech For Good: Be My Eyes

In the spirit of keeping things positive, and looking on the bright side of technology, I’ve been keen to explore some of the more interesting things technology can do to enhance our lives, and the lives of those around us.

Our iPhones (other phones do exist, or so I hear) and iPads have improved our lives in numerous ways. They help us find our way, capture and share magical moments with friends and family, and even let us browse through pages and pages of cute animals at a whim.

Many of us spend hours reading reviews about the latest and greatest To Do app, or email client, but there is often not much said about how these powerful devices can be used to not only help us remember to put the bins out on a Tuesday, but also enhance and even improve the lives of those in need around us. Allow me to change that, in my own little way, with a very specific use case.

I recently discovered an app called ‘Be My Eyes’. The team behind the app provides this short, but succinct, description about what it’s all about:

Be My Eyes is an app made up of a global community that connects people who are blind or have low vision with sighted volunteers and company representatives through a live video call.

In essence, it’s very simple, but it can have a huge positive impact on someones life. After downloading the app, you create an account, let them know what languages you speak and you’re done. You then sit back and await a notification indicating that one of the currently ~100,000 blind members of the community need some assistance with something. The assistance will, as you can imagine, involve helping an individual to read a letter or notice they’ve received, read an instruction manual or perhaps describe an item of clothing the individual has received as a gift.

I was first turned onto the app via the Late Night Alternative With Iain Lee podcast, which also spoke a bit about another alternative app, called BeSpecular which is the same idea, but a little less direct. At the time of writing, the sign-up page for BeSpecular seems to not be accepting new applicants, but you can sign up still from within the app itself.

If you have a little time on your hands on occasion, in-between cute cat videos on Reddit, it would be a great idea to take advantage of one of the above services to improve someone’s day, even if just a little bit. Not only will you be helping people, you may even find it quite fun and, BeSpecular in particular, could even be a fun game to play with the help of your children. It’ll teach them the importance of helping others, and to also make them aware that not everyone is life is as able bodied as others, and we could all use a helping hand at times.

If you get one of the apps above, and give it a try, I’d love to hear about your experiences with it. Please feel free to give me a shout on Twitter.

🔗 PAL Keys – A Link To The Past

As I mentioned in Episode 19 of the podcast, I want to focus my time, both on the blog and elsewhere, on positivity and things that I enjoy. To this end, alongside the tech, I’m keen to put a bit more emphasis on gaming as well. I’ve even started to stream a little more frequently to my Mixer account. I have, however, realised being a streamer is far harder than I imagined. It turns out all I do is mumble to myself like some kind of mad man …

Gaming was one of my first passions, way before more fruit based technology took a hold of me. I look back fondly on many an hour spent on the Atari ST, my first computer system I recall with any form of gaming capabilities.

To date, my passion for gaming, and podcasts, have remained largely disparate. I try to listen to a few more genres than just technology, but gaming podcasts have been largely lacking from my library. That looks to be changing, however.

Daryl Baxter of The Outpost Show fame recently announced a new show, PAL Keys which sounds right in my wheelhouse.

Each episode will feature an interview with a different guest, talking about their favourite game and boss stage. This sounds like a really interesting take on an interview show. Nothing gets to the soul of an individual better than a deep dive into their gaming past. This premise has certainly got me thinking about some of my own favourite games and gaming moments, from the, then, heartbreaking death of Aerith in Final Fantasy VII (apologies if this is a spoiler!) to hours spent getting a kicking from my brother playing as Ken in Street Fighter II on the SNES.

I’m really looking forward to remembering even more ghosts of gaming past, via PAL Keys and the guests Daryl will be speaking to, over the coming weeks and months. I need to ask Daryl for the cheat codes he’s using to keep coming up with such great content.

You can subscribe to the show on iTunes now and listen to a short introduction to the show, prior to the first true episode launching on 11/01.

19: Are You Positive?

After a bit of a break for the festive period (apologies!) I’m back and ready to kick-start 2019 as I mean to go on, with some positivity!

I share a quick look ahead at what to expect from The Dent in 2019 and beyond. Leave your negativity at the door, please.

You can find links to the show below:

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You can also find a direct link on the podcast page.