For a guy who devotes as much energy as I do toward the pursuit of leisure, I am terrible at discovering new sources of entertainment. I can still remember the first time one of my junior school buddies showed me professional wrestling. Sure, I’d heard about it, but even when I watched The Rock run in on a Stone Cold match and listened to my friend freak out, I still didn’t get it. It obviously wasn’t real. It was a bunch of half-naked dudes punching each other. What was so great about that? As it turns out, everything. I don’t know when, if ever, wrestling and I would have crossed paths had it not been for my quick initiation in my parents’ basement on a barely-color TV. READ MORE


Remember that scene in The Simpsons when they’re all in the car and reflecting upon Homer’s decision to stop his career as a Cannonball Thingy Guy? They start talking about what’s cool and what isn’t. The children are decidedly unimpressed with their parents’ insistence that they know what “cool” is. It’s a hilarious ending to classic episode, and all the more fitting that it’s featured in a storyline looking back at counterculture and youths’ shaky affirmation that the older generations don’t know what they’re talking about. READ MORE


I enjoy novels focusing on a character whose motivations and questions mirror my own darker side. Two recent examples, The Magus (John Fowles) and The Magician’s Land (Lev Grossman), both explore the plight of the young man, and what is he to do? The Magus is a cryptic chasm of false starts, true shocks spiraling the narrative down a hole so deep, I don’t know if I’ve climbed out yet.

There were so many times I asked the very same question the main character did, he might as well have been me. What just happened? Was I there? Who is in on this? Is anybody in on this? What does this all mean? Questions still flood my memory and I’m unable to breach the surface to breathe. What just happened? How am I 31? Did I really do that play? Were they laughing at me? Did I say the wrong thing at a social gathering six weeks ago? Is everybody aware I said the wrong thing? My inner frustration grows, moreso when I’m not even sure if I should do something about it. READ MORE


I am astounded by how little I have to do in Cities: Skylines to produce a massive smile on my face.  Whether I’m swinging the camera around to get a better view of my newly-placed bridge, adding in a new residential corner or trying to improve gridlock in my downtown core, every aspect of the game feels rewarding and enjoyable. I can occupy myself with small tasks like ensuring my water budget is up to par, or start grand-scale plans to completely eradicate the industrial off-ramp as part of a new highway system. Every action furthers my suspicion that this game will end up in my top ten of the year. It also feels like something I’ve been wanting for a long, long time. Why is that, exactly? READ MORE


If I haven’t mentioned it before, here it is: I’m terrible at anything tactical. My ability to process information quickly and act before my opponent has been one of my major strengths in education, sport, theatre and, of course, games. Inevitably, when the playing field levels and my initial advantage is over, I suffer. Whether I don’t enjoying a slower pace, or lack strategy, I tend to struggle in this type of competition. “Slow down,” my teachers told me, “you don’t have to finish the test first.” No, but what could looking over my work and taking my time possibly do for me?

Finesse is never a factor in tactical games. It’s a style in which you’re given ample time to make decisions. Every movement, every upgrade and every attack is made with all the information available, like a pile of books dumped on your desk with no clocks in sight. Take your time. READ MORE