Masculinity is an act of rebellion

First of all, you have to understand that I’m not going to lay out a definition of masculinity.

I’ll go so far as to say this: if you’re born a man and believe yourself to be a man then you can be masculine.

Another aspect you should be wary of is that this post is going to come across as a bit sexist. When you get into the specifics of talking about masculinity you’re going to speak in general terms. When you speak in general terms, you come across as a bit of a sexist.

Consider yourself warned.

Masculinity is under siege

You wouldn’t say that masculinity is under attack. You could say that it’s under siege. Masculinity has been sectioned off and feels like it’s under constant guard.

Masculinity is seen as negative in this day and age. I don’t believe that there’s a sinister cabal trying to keep men down. If anything it’s far more mundane.

The western world doesn’t have as much need for traditional masculinity.

Masculinity has spent the entirety of history making life as comfortable for everyone. How do we say thank you? By demonising masculinity.

Society has a history of using up men and then discarding them as soon as they have served their purpose.

Look at Roman Polanski, who only recently has been kicked out of the Academy. Once his output diminished they finally made him a pariah.

Same for Harvey Weinstein, once his producing reduced people were more willing to hear his accusers’ stories.

To be clear, I’m not saying that his accusers are opportunistic. I’m saying that those who could have done something about it didn’t want to hear what his victims had to say.

People will forgive you for anything provided that they are benefitting in some way. Once they no longer benefit, you’re in trouble.

If you are going to set out and make your mark in the world here is my advice. Either don’t quit or be without sin and always have a witness around.

Otherwise, they’ll chase you out of town.

Survive til 25

The first part of a man’s life sucks.

You aren’t pretty like a girl, so people are less inclined to let you away with stupid shit. You’re ugly, awkward and you don’t want to speak to people. Coupled with the fact that you are in this weird space of constantly being horny and aggressive.

Sadly the first 25 years of a man’s life sucks. That’s one of the reasons that there is still a high percentage of us punching our own ticket.

Then you turn 25, and something unusual happens. Everything levels out and life becomes incredible.

One of the first things that I noticed was that women started to fancy me. It took a while to twig onto the idea, but once I did, it was a revelation. “Why is she hanging around, she’s going to be late for work tomorrow” I would think to myself. Then I would realise.

You don’t just magically become attractive.

You have become surer of yourself, you’re more confident. You’ve been rejected so many times in your life, it’s no longer a big deal. Also, you’ve had sex a couple of times and realise that it’s also nothing special.

Essentially you become chill yet authoritative. Everyone loves that.

Some advice

If you’re not 25 yet and feel like life is a big dark hole sucking you in my advice to you would be to hang on in there. Whenever you turn 25, you’ll see what I mean.

If you’re over 25 and still angry, I recommend meditation, gratitude and affirmations. You need to let go of that anger before you turn 30. I say 30 because someone who is over that age and still angry at life tends to get cut out of others. There appears to be a lot of bitter men over 30 who take every inconvenience as a personal offence.

Don’t be that guy.

If you’re over 25 and still a virgin seriously consider getting either a prostitute or an escort. Not because you absolutely have to have sex, but you need to realise that it isn’t that big of a deal. You put sex on a pedestal, and that will only psyche you out. You won’t lose that air of desperation that people can sense.

Boost your testosterone

Testosterone is a wonder drug for boosting your masculinity. The hormone has got everything a man needs packed into two little balls. All your body is doing is waiting for an excuse to release the chemicals.

Testosterone reduces depression, will make you smarter, more decisive, better able to improvise.

The benefits of testosterone are numerous and the work required to access it is minimal.

All you have to do is lift something heavy.

It’s that simple. Go lift something heavy. You don’t even need to go to a gym, just find something substantial, lift it up and put it down. Repeat this process.

Do push-ups, when you wake up do 100 push-ups. Guarantee if you commit to doing a hundred push-ups as soon as you wake up you’ll never feel sad again.

Shrug off peer pressure

You’re going to get pushback for being a man.

Masculinity can be intimidating to those who don’t have any.

You’re going to get manipulated into toning it down, making concessions for the weak.

In fact, that’s how the weak control the strong, through manipulation. The only advice that I can give you in that regard is to nod your head, say yes and then do whatever you feel like.

If they come to you later and complain that you are not doing what they said, tell them that you changed your mind.

After all, it’s a man’s prerogative to change his mind.

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Casual gamer: 5 reasons I became one

Just like that, I’m a casual gamer again. I played a lot of Metal Gear Solid 5 but all of a sudden I’m no longer interested. It just happens, lose all investment and not play now until maybe Christmas again.

If I do end up playing it’ll be my go-to downtime games such as Perfect Dark, Street Fighter 3 and Cuphead in small chunks. I’ve cancelled my game pass because I know I won’t use it. There are a couple of other reasons why I’m no longer big into games. Some might say “Kieran your 32 years old of course you should be done with games.”

Maybe I should grow up and get rid of the console. Probably, but playing games fall into the “consumer category”. If you told me that you played video games, you’re the same as a person who supports football or watches Netflix. You’re pouring money and time into something that will not return your investment.

There are a couple of other reasons why I consider myself a casual gamer, here’s a few.

1: Graphics blind

This is more to do with my age than anything else, but I swear, I struggle to tell the difference in graphics from generation to generation. Having played the Phantom Pain on both Xbox 360 and Xbox One I had to watch a video that pointed out the differences between the two versions. Aside from subtle differences like draw distance, I couldn’t tell the difference.

You have sharper eyes than I do so you can tell the difference. To me, it all looks the same. I guess you could say that I’m graphics racist.

All these 4k 1080p 60fps is gibberish to me, I mean I understand the essence to me, but it all just looks meh. Gaming is trying to mimic real life so much that it sends you barrelling into the uncanny valley.

Watch Lea Seydoux eat at the end of the Death Stranding trailer. Graphics wise, impressive but the mouth movements when she is chewing is just; I don’t know, there’s something off.

2: Mass Effect 3

The first Mass Effect had potential. It was a sci-fi RPG that was something like playing your version of Star Trek. What interested me was that your actions would carry across sequels. This wasn’t the first game to do that. Shining Force 3 was the first game to implement the “synchronicity system” as it was called.

Imperfect but pretty close

While the first Mass Effect was far from perfect, it intrigued me to stay invested. Along came Mass Effect 2 and it was great. The main plot wasn’t great. The end fight was anti-climactic but everything that leads up to that moment was brilliant.

It had great side quests with some beautiful sci-fi concepts. There was the crashed ship storyline. The captain feeds his crew local vegetation which makes them retarded. The captain turns his crew into slaves.

There’s the story of the scientist who merges an AI with his brother’s conscience. The only problem being that his brother has autism. I don’t know if these are original concepts. Knowing sci-fi, probably not, however, the game was enjoyable, and I was looking forward to Mass Effect 3.

Harbinger of doom

Mass Effect 3 single-handedly tainted any future investment I would have in a game franchise. Mass Effect 3 started the ball rolling for me to become a casual gamer.

Mass Effect 3 was eye-opening. If Mass Effect 1 and 2 were seasons 1-4 of Game of Thrones then Mass Effect 3 is the following seasons. Characterisation and in-world rules are cast aside as it became a race to end the story.

All that choice over three previous games is reduced to an option of A or B. There was no consequence to my actions. It was a rushed and unsatisfying conclusion to what was gearing up to be a perfect trilogy of games.

After that, I stopped playing games with too much depth. I played some of Witcher 2 and thought, this is going to take me too long to get into and stopped playing.

3: Online all the time, casual gamer will get suspicious

This is a short entry but why do games even single player games need a constant online connection? Again because I’m most familiar with it Metal Gear Solid 5 is shocking for needing to be online. Why does it affect the menus so bad?

Let me stay offline and don’t have it affect my playing.

4: Cutscenes are too long (and the writing mainly sucks)

There are so many games that want to tell you these complex, in-depth stories. If you want a casual like me to sit through those scenes, make the writing good.

The problem is the writing isn’t that good. Film scripts are about 120 pages. Video game scripts can run to 1000 pages.

It’s very rare that the writing in a film script is excellent. The likelihood of a video game script being good is even more unique.

One of the few examples of a good script and good acting is a game called Enslaved. Developers, Ninja Theory hired screenwriter Alex Garland to write the script. It also had it’s acting directed by Andy Serkis. I watched all the cut-scenes to, what a shame that the game itself was dull.

I play a game because I want to play. Don’t make me watch for too long. In fact, I skip through the cutscenes most of the time.

That’s why I’ll never play Heavy Rain or any of that. I want to play. Let me play.

5: Too complex for a casual gamer

The reason a casual gamer likes old favourites is that they have simple rules that are easy to follow.

Take Street Fighter 3; you can attack, block and avoid like other fighting games. However what makes this game special is the parry system. You can risk getting an attack in but you risk taking damage yourself. It is this mechanic that makes it one of the best fighting games.

Perfect Dark another old favourite. The enemy AI works like this, evaluate-act-revaluate. It is this fundamental concept and you as the player must work around this AI system. I don’t like Perfect Dark because it’s a highly realistic shooter, I love it because it’s fun to play.

Even Tetris has a simple rule system, make lines using the blocks, over time the rate the blocks drop speeds up.

The more simple a game, the more fun to play.

Once you realise Dark Souls is about watching your stamina bar, it becomes more enjoyable.

That’s why I don’t like Metal Gear Solid 5 as much as other entries in the series. Resource management has made it too complicated. The rules of the Metal Gear franchise were to get from point A to point B while avoiding the enemy. Metal Gear 5 discarded those rules. The game failed to replace them with anything meaningful.

Remember the writer’s adage KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid

Thank you for making June the best month

Thank you for what has been the best month yet for Kieranmajury.com. May had been a bit of a lull, but June surpassed all expectations and then some.

Thank you again.

I’ve been a firm believer that you don’t need everyone to read your content. All that you need is that one person who will read all of your content. Kieranmajury.com took a step closer to reaching that goal in June.

I wrote a piece on the power of affirmations and how you can do them. I wrote about how affirmations aren’t magical thinking, but a means to rewire your brain. Affirmations improve your focus.

Scott Adams made me take affirmations seriously. I thought that he might appreciate my article. I’m quite fortunate in that during the run-up to the election of 2016 Scott, and I regularly interacted on Twitter. Our consistent interaction lead to him following me.

Our mutual following meant that I was able to message him directly. Messaging him directly meant that I had a higher chance of having my work seen by him.

I took a chance and decided that I would message him the article. I thought that he would see my article and say thank you.

What happened next far surpassed my expectations. Not only did Scott read it, but he also complimented my writing and shared it with his followers.

This lead to an explosion in readers. The view count shot way up and has exceeded the combined views of the previous three months.

With more exposure, it has meant that I am one step closer to finding that one true fan.

What can you learn from this?

You have to understand something that it has taken me years to grasp.

Consistency is far more important than quality. I have been making daily writing part of my routine. I have the articles for Kieranmajury.com, and I also have the fiction work. Little by little my writing is getting better.

Do something consistently, and through habit alone, you will become better.

I wasn’t even sure about the quality of the article, but Scott complimented my writing. That’s good enough for me.

Don’t wait to be ready to start something.

Be grateful.

I’ve written about gratitude. So I have to say a big “Thank you” to Scott for taking the extra steps and sharing the article. The compliment and knowing that he read the piece was good enough for me. Him sharing it was the icing on top.

Of course on some level, I was hoping he would share the work and thankfully he did so thank you again, Scott.

I will show my gratitude to him financially by buying more of his work soon.

A big thank you to you too. Whether you’ve found me through Scott Adams or you’ve been here from March I appreciate your readership. There is a lot of content out there so thank you for taking the time to engage with mine.

July is going to be a bit of a comedown view wise, but together you and I are going to make it another great month.

Thank you and see you in July.

Customer Server: 5 ways to be better

If you’re reading this, you’re interested in becoming a better server.

I have ten years of direct face to face customer service under my belt.

I’m going to share a few tips and tricks with you that will hopefully make life easier for you.

Please note that this post is for the benefit of my Odyssey Cinemas employees.

Hopefully, whoever you are you can get something out of it too. Some of these guidelines are applicable in the real world. I invite you to try it out for yourself.

If you feel like some of the bad examples are about you directly there’s an easy way to prevent that happening in future.

5: Only apologise if you massively messed up and it’s your fault.

You overhear the person serving beside you, “Sorry for the wait”. You start thinking to yourself, is my colleague deliberately serving slow? Why am I working at full speed if they are taking their sweet time? The customer begins thinking, why am I stuck with the slowpoke, let me go to someone else. Everyone is a bit more miserable because of this.

The above is of course nonsense. No thinks that the person apologising is being deliberately slow. Everyone is working as quickly as they can, but that raises the question. Why is the person apologising?

You aren’t personally holding the queue up, are you? People understand that they are going to have to wait. You and I can’t control when people show up at the cinema; you also can’t control the decisiveness of a customer.

What I’m trying to say is you’re apologising for aspects out of your control. So apologising is unnecessary.

Another aspect of apologising is that the more you do it, the more you devalue genuine apologies. I don’t apologise for all that much, so people know that when I do, it means more.

4: Talk the right amount

Talking the right amount is something that you will have to gauge for yourself over time. Some customers are terse and give grunts; others will tell you their entire life story.

Talk the right amount so that you aren’t coming across as rude or abrupt but make it clear that you have to work not chat. It’s not rude or “not nice” it’s business. You understand that as does the customer.

Building relationships with individual customers is something that you can do over time. You will notice regulars, and in that case, you can get into deep and meaningful if you want. Trying to force it on the first interaction is weird and creepy.

Notice also when a customer engages in conversation, it’s always after they have got what they want.

Customers don’t want their time wasted but don’t mind wasting yours. Be polite but make it clear that other customers now need you.

Customers will also talk for the sake of talking. “Is it any good” is a weird question. They don’t care about the answer they want to talk. “I’ve heard it’s good” is all you need to say.

3: Be repetitive, be repetitive, be repetitive

Customers in their head know what they want, they know it so well that they think that they don’t need to tell you. This is where the power of repetition comes in. Parrot back to the customer their order because it reduces the risk of error.

Customers will also leave gaps in information. You can be more efficient by attempting to fill these gaps.

“One ticket for Star Wars.”

“One (Adult) ticket for Star Wars (now at 6 pm)

“No, I want a student for Star Wars tomorrow at 10 am.”

Repetition may seem a bit clumsy and unnatural, but it keeps you right. If there is an issue, you can say that you checked with them before proceeding leaving the responsibility with the customer.

2: Tell, don’t ask

Customers want to give you their money. There’s an expression with car salesman “No one steps onto the lot unless they want to buy a car”. Our expression would be a little more clumsy. “No one walks around the foyer for 10 minutes before looking for times on the foxy Fridays leaflets unless they didn’t want to buy a ticket”.

Doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?

Customers want to give you their money as quickly as possible before they talk themselves out of it.

Customers want to hand over the mullah minimum fuss.

How can you upset this, by giving them too many choices? The customer wants a cinema ticket a popcorn and a drink. They don’t care about how much they spend, make it easy.

How can you help the customer simplify the process?

By telling them and not asking.

Way off the mark

“Gimme a drink and nachos.”

“Absolutely, what drink would you like.”

“What do you have?

“We have coke, diet coke, coke zero, sprite, Fanta. Also how much ice would you like? Also, would you like the cheese on the side with the salsa over the top with a little fence of jalapenos or would you like me to spell out your name with the cheese while using the nachos and salsa to do a historical reenactment of the eruption at Pompeii with the crumbs representing the ash cloud? Or I could use the nachos to represent the ocean with the salsa the BP oil spill, and jalapenos represent seagulls and the cheese the shoreline”.

You probably thought what the point of that last paragraph was? Congratulations that’s what the customer feels when bombarded with choice.

Decision-making fatigue is a problem. The modern world bombards us with choice and the fear of missing out.

The cinema should not be that kind of experience. The best way to make it better is by removing the choice.

Better method

“Gimme a drink and nachos.”

“Medium coke, cheese, salsa and jalapenos on the nachos.”

“Sprite for the drink, no jalapenos.”

Tell the customer what you’re giving them. If they agree, happy days you’re one step closer to becoming a psychic. If they disagree, then it’s up to them to tell you what they want.

Here is the thing, the customer knows what they want, and there is an experiment that you can try out to prove it. Let’s say there is Deadpool 2, Star Wars and Avengers starting within half an hour. A customer comes up “What’s on?” The customer knows what they want to see; they’re too afraid to ask, I don’t understand why that is, you notice over the years.

Here is what you do, “Deadpool 2 and Star Wars are starting soon” I guarantee they will ask about Avengers. Removing the choice makes people more determined to have it. Try this out for yourself, and you will be surprised.

Tell the customer what you are going to do and let them correct you.

1: “Would you mind, because”

If you’re finding it hard to get members sign ups I’m about to introduce you to the most persuasive four words in the English language.

Would you mind because?

Insert these words into a sentence, and you just increased the likelihood of getting them to comply.

A customer approaches you “A ticket please.”

Say the following as it’s written below:

“Would you mind signing up to our members’ scheme because then I can give you discount on the tickets.”

You have now increased the odds of them signing up.

All that matters is that you tell them that they can get the tickets for less. I have heard some people overburdening customers with information, “You get money off at Eddie Irvine’s”,

Too much information can be as bad as too little.

I can’t prove to you about how effective “Would you mind, because” is but I ask you to try it out on people even when your not in work.

See how you get on.

I’ve told this method to a few co-workers, you can ask them how useful the phrase is.

Hope you found this helpful

Hope you found this helpful, I may write a more.

The easier we make it for ourselves, the easier it is for the customer, the easier for the customer, the easier it is for ourselves.

Life is hard; the cinema is an escape.

Let’s make life that much easier for everyone.

Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain is enjoyably broken

I was a big fan of Metal Gear Solid. The game came out when I was starting grammar school, and I was hyped. The game wasn’t that long, I finished it in a weekend, but it was great. It was the first game that I had played that had voice acting and stylishly directed cutscenes. It also featured the fourth wall breaking moments and overall I loved it.

Years and sequels passed. I stopped playing after Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, it went out on a high. Didn’t have a PlayStation 3, so I never played the fourth entry. I bought Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain on Xbox 360. I enjoyed it but didn’t play it that much.

Last month Xbox Games with Gold had released The Phantom Pain as it’s the free game that month. I reinstalled it on Xbox One and played it again. I’m going to share my thoughts with you in regards to why, although enjoyable, it is a broken game.

1: Metal Gear Solid Grinding

This is my biggest problem with the game. It is a grind. The Phantom Pain has a lot of resource management for a game series that was supposed to be about spying.

As you progress through the game, you are gradually introduced to more and more menus. You have to develop items, send soldiers on missions and build extensions to your base.

I don’t know how optional all this is but the game taps into that psychological need to collect everything. You want to max out every aspect of the game.

Part of me wonders did Kojima put these aspects in deliberately. The game keeps you playing for longer because you’re waiting for projects to complete. That means you play for longer. You ask yourself, why am I playing this for so long and your brain backwards rationalises that the game is good.

The problem with this is that the game becomes less challenging the more you play it, and the more you grind.

2: At odds with itself

Metal Gear Solid has always had a unique sense of tone. For every sad character death, there is some moment of slapstick nonsense. It was part of the charm but as graphics improved it has led to a jarring sense of tone.

There are aspects of the game that is ridiculous that also make it way to easy. The Fulton extraction where you strap a balloon to someone, and they magically show up at your base. I know it’s a video game and I’m not insinuating that it’s a bad thing. My problem is it’s hard to take the dramatic scenes seriously with this nonsense going on in the background.

3: Episodic nature Side missions are the same from

The first Metal Gear Solid was excellent because it was set over an 18 hour period. It wasn’t real time, but there was a ticking clock in the background which aided in creating tension.

In The Phantom Pain, this is not the case. There is an episodic nature to the game. Missions are split up into Story and Side Ops. If there is no urgency; there is no drama.

There is no difference between the Story Missions and the Side Ops. The majority of missions are going to this point of the map, rescue/kill someone and then leave.

There are many repetitive missions too. Rescue the child soldiers not once not twice but five times.

Overall they could have all the missions in one menu, but as I have found out, The Phantom Pain loves it’s menus.

4: MB coins

You can feel the rot set in with the MB coins. I’m not sure what they do, but they appear to be connected online. Part of my whole problem with the game is always online.

This was before Konami fired Kojima and they brought out Metal Gear Survive where you had to pay for a save slot. How much of the always online was to do with Konami and how much had to do with Kojima we’ll never know. However, due to my bias towards Kojima, I’m going to say it was all Konami’s idea.

5: What are the rules

In my time playing, I have never been entirely sure about what the rules are in the game. There is a lack of consistency in the AI of the enemy guards. Sometimes you can sneak past them. Sometimes they feel an inconsistency in air pressure and know precisely where you are.

I know you probably think I suck at the game. You’re right I’m not the best at it but I the game acknowledges it’s own shortcomings through the ranking system.

If I suck so much at the game then how am I getting a top rank in missions on the first playthrough? I barely know what I’m doing, but the game says that I am doing it well.

There’s no sense of challenge and no sense of reward if I am muddling through and doing fantastically in the eyes of the game.

6: Open world because why not everything is open world

Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain is open world, and it is not good. What you have is a big beautiful empty world with nothing much to do. There are guard posts, but good lord so much of the game spent with the sprint button held down. You have an option of cars and horses, but it doesn’t make it any more fun. Add to the fact that you can’t climb every rock. It means that there is a strong feeling of bottlenecking when it comes to taking on challenges. You can either approach from the left or the right.

7: The game feels rushed

It is no surprise that like the rest of modern games they always are released before they are ready. The Phantom Pain is no exception. The whole game feels like there was more to come. The way you’re introduced to new elements. There’s no real reason why and the fact that the game has one of the most baffling twists of recent years. There has also been footage released of the alternate ending. With Kojima no longer at Konami and Konami no longer making games it’s unlikely that we’ll ever see a final cut. It’s a shame that the series goes out with a whimper.

Xbox hasn’t got a clue. Here’s 5 reasons why.

Xbox loyalty

Be forewarned this post is about Xbox. The next two are also going to focus on gaming. So if you’re not interested, then I’ll see you next week.

I’m going to use Xbox and Microsoft interchangeably.

 

I’ve had an Xbox 360 for a while. Only recently did I upgrade to an Xbox One S. It’s mainly a £300 paperweight. I use it to play Cuphead now and then. At some point, I could have switched over to PlayStation but I like Xbox.

I don’t play games as much as I used to but I’ll go through periods where I’ll play consistently. Then after a while, I’ll get bored and won’t touch a console for months.

I’ve been playing more due to the Games with Gold giving away Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain. As I’ve been playing more, I’ve been more interested in Xbox. I looked into what they are up to, and I realised that Xbox hasn’t got a clue.

I like the console and want it ti succeed but the way it’s conducting itself is worrying.

1: They have good ideas, poorly implemented

It’s not that the company is entirely clueless. Part of the frustration that I have with the system is that there are many good ideas, just not well done.

Games with Gold

Games with Gold offers two free games every month. These aren’t indie nonsense that you’ll never play, these are often good top tier releases. If you’re patient you’ll never have to buy a game which suits a casual gamer like me.

Occasionally you’ll get something that isn’t good. Recently there was The Witness which I played for five minutes before uninstalling. Despite the occasional dud the good thing about Games with Gold that in the long run, it balances out with some top titles.

There have been several Assassin’s Creed Games as well as Mass Effect. In fact, sometimes the indie games that they give you are hidden gems that you would never think to get. The bullet time puzzler Super Hot is a good example.

What I’m trying to tell you is that the Xbox Games with Gold programmes is one of the best deals for consumers. All it costs is an Xbox Gold membership which is £40 per year. Even if all you use Gold membership is for Games with Gold that works out at £1.70 per game.

Xbox Game Pass

Xbox also has a game pass feature. For £7 a month you have unlimited access to a library of games. It’s the Netflix of gaming, and it’s a good idea.

Unfortunately, it’s still just that, a good idea. The problem, the library is limited. They had the gorgeous yet tedious Mad Max game. There is also a Tomb Raider game on there, but aside from that, it’s older arcade games that are available on Xbox 360.

Xbox Game pass releases system exclusives like State of Decay 2 and Sea of Thieves directly to Game Pass. Wanting to play State of Decay 2 was what made me sign up in the first place.

Having played State of Decay 2, I’m going to cancel my membership.

Xbox Game Pass is a good idea now that has potential to be great in future.

2: No exclusives

Having no exclusives is a more significant problem than I realised. PlayStation has way more exclusives than Xbox. There have been so many games that have been PlayStation exclusive it’s kind of sad.

Exclusives still sell consoles. PlayStation has seen an upsurge in sales due to the exclusivity of the critically lauded God of War.

That’s just a recent example.

There was the game about the girl who fought robot dinosaurs that looked great. Again, another PlayStation exclusive. Not to mention The Last of Us 2 which will further boost console sales.

The PlayStation exclusives kick the shit out of the Xbox exclusives. Halo has lost a lot of prestige since Bungie handed the reigns over to 343 studios. The series peaked at Halo 3, and it’s been a gradual decline ever since.

Xbox has few exclusives and let’s talk a bit about the ones that they do have.

3: The exclusives they do have leave a lot to be desired

Sea of Thieves

Xbox bought Rare studios the guys behind some of Nintendo’s best games in the 90’s. Xbox bought Rare, and as soon as they did, they turned them into garbage. That hasn’t been any different with their release Sea of Thieves. I have played this and to be honest, I hated the game. There’s nothing to do.

All the game appeared to be is a series of fetch quests with other people I couldn’t talk to.

Imagine Zelda: Windwaker only with more sailing. You have to manage all the minutiae of sailing, like rigging and sales.

State of Decay 2

The other big exclusive is State of Decay 2. I have to tell you that I loved the first State of Decay. It showed up randomly in the arcade store and was £20. It was a pleasantly surprising action RPG set in rural America overrun by zombies.

There is no way to get around this, but the game is dull. I enjoyed the dullness.

You manage resources, kill some zombies and make sure survivors are happy. There was permadeath which added tension to missions. It was repetitive, but it was fun. The game was buggy as hell. Zombies would glitch through walls you would bounce all over the map. For the gameplay, you got from the price you paid the problems were forgivable.

The problem with State of Decay 2 is that it is the same game. State of Decay 2 is State of Decay 1 with a fresh coat of paint. The only thing that has improved is the graphics. Somehow the bugs have gotten worse. The bugs would be fine had the game been released for the same £20 with no fanfare; however, this is not the case. The game is broken

Now State of Decay 2 has been pushed from second tier to top tier. State of Decay is not a top tier game. The amount of money and publicity Microsoft has thrown at this game is embarrassing.

Xbox may have noticed that they have nothing coming out for a while, so they pushed State of Decay 2 to front and centre. This was an error.

4: Xbox needs to get it’s house in order if it is going to compete

Microsoft needs to work on it’s relationships with studios. Xbox can’t control their developers.

This has always been the case since 360 days.

One of my favourite games Alan Wake had an overlong development history.

Alan Wake was supposed to be an open world survival horror game. The development overran, and Xbox prematurely forced the game out. The final game was a hybrid between straight shooting sections and empty open world segments.

Today is no different. Crackdown 3 should have been out ages ago but it’s still in development. Crackdown 3 a game in a series that wasn’t that popular to begin with is now two years late.

Get your house in order Microsoft.

5: Xbox are running a risk of becoming Sega

I see patterns repeat even though that may not be the case. Xbox is following a path that appears similar to Sega in the 90s.

Sega won the Mega Drive/ Super NES battle in the same way that 360 won the battle against PS3.

Victory has made Microsoft overly analytical in the same way as Sega. Both were successful in their respectful generations however I have a saying; you learn nothing from success. Microsoft and Sega are proof. When you reach the top the only way is down.

Sega after the success of the Mega Drive developed a load of peripherals. Sega developed the Sega CD, 32x and the next generation Sega Saturn in quick succession. These peripherals were expensive, oversaturated the market and that put gamers off.

The failure of these three hardware items made Sega rush out the Sega Dreamcast. The Dreamcast ensured their exit from the console market.

History repeats?

Do I see Xbox bowing out of the console market? It’s hard to tell. I consider myself a casual gamer, so am not the most informed on the matter but here’s what I see.

Xbox has three different versions of the one console. There’s Xbox One, Xbox One S and Xbox One X. Aside from terrible names, it’s the same system with different cosmetic qualities. There was also Kinect which Xbox has finally taken the hint and given up on. Don’t forget that they were also going to try and set up their version of Netflix. A company who make games were going to move into film production. Let that sink in.

The console is lucky it’s part of Microsoft. Sega only had itself to rely on which is why it exited the market early. Xbox will be around for a few more years, but if they keep making dumb decisions, it’s not going to matter.

Hopefully, Xbox, the underdog, are learning from their mistakes and course correct.

I want them to do well so whenever I next get an urge to game I won’t be stuck for choice.

Affirmations and the action you can take now

Affirmations an introduction

Affirmations are everything.

You recently read about how I meditate and how I practice gratitude. Here’ another daily practice that I do and that is writing affirmations.

Affirmations aren’t the most hippy-dippy thing I do, but I’m self-conscious about it. I shouldn’t be telling you about this but in my quest to not be ashamed of anything, here we are.

Affirmations is either writing down something that you want or stating it out loud to yourself. I do a bit of both every day.

Part of my reason for telling you about all these unusual activities is that it’s to inform you. To tell you that there’s no set way of doing things.

I want to break down my method for others. If you’re reading this and struggling, then I hope that this will provide you with some help.

Scott Adams

You’re aware of affirmations, what they are, you make a positive statement about yourself. “I, Kieran Majury, am a confident person” was one that I used to use before going out in public. Over time I found myself becoming more confident.

You’re thinking, what a load of new-age nonsense.

I was in the same place as you. I thought, how the hell is that going to help?

It wasn’t until I read How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big that I took affirmations seriously. Scott wrote about several occasions that affirmations helped him out.

Scott Adams is a highly successful author. Adams created Dilbert, the widely syndicated comic strip and has written many books.

If anyone is living proof of the power of affirmations, it’s Scott.

Scott believes that humans are moist robots. Like other robots, we’re programmable.

What’s the harm in trying?

Summer of 69

Let’s take a trip back in time to the early 2000s. I was in Our Lady and St Patrick’s College Knock and being a hormonal teenager. I had sex on the brain 24/7.

It was a time before the widely available internet. There was the “family computer” so access to porn wasn’t instantaneous the way it is now. Back then, we had to make do with the Channel 5 Friday night movie (The Ups and Downs of a Handyman is a classic, the policeman falls over).

Due to my perpetual horniness, I saw sex everywhere; I saw the number 69 as having great significance.

I would consistently see the number 69, and it had to mean something, didn’t it? It got to the point that friends would point out the number out to me.

The joke became 69 would follow me everywhere except the bedroom. Was I being followed around by this number?

Short Answer

No.

Slightly longer answer

The number didn’t occur more than usual to me than it did to anyone else. What happened was that my mind had been programmed to be extra vigilant for that number.

Humans have inbuilt biases and pattern recognition. When these two combine you can see whatever you want yourself to see.

Younger me had decided that it wanted to see significance in the number 69 so it saw the number 69 wherever it could.

Reprogramme yourself now

You’re wondering why I’m telling you this. I’m telling you because it’s how I believe affirmations work. I’m not a scientist or anything like that, so take what I’m about to tell you with more than your RDA of salt.

Affirmations are a way of manually reprogramming your brain. I’m not one of these people who believes that I’m “asking the universe to get me a car”. Far from that. In fact, I’m asking myself to see opportunity where I wouldn’t before. In the end, I have to go out and do the work.

When you do affirmations your job doesn’t start and end with you writing them down. You have to get out there and do the work.

Affirmations are a way of getting yourself into the right mindset. Breaking out of the negative conditioning that the modern world has instilled in you.

The joke tells the truth. So there’s the man who asks God to help him win the lottery. Weeks turn into months turn into years “Oh God please help me win the lottery”. The clouds open and the man hears a deep, commanding voice “Buy a ticket”.

Possible evidence

If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ve probably heard me speak of how I need a new job. I’ve written about it a few times on Kieranmajury.com. Like the man from the joke, it would help if sent and application out every once in a while.

One of my affirmations was “I, Kieran Majury will get a new job.”

Recently I was offered a promotion at work. Was this because I did the affirmations? No, it was because through doing affirmations I became a better worker.

My time keeping improved, as did my attitude and I became a better employee. My employers recognised my improvements.

Do you want another personal example?

One of my daily mottos is “Kieranmajury.com will become a highly popular website”. Now it’s not blowing up or anything, but after a bit of a lull last month June is looking to be the best month since I started.

Do I believe that people across the globe are asking “I wonder what happens if I key Kieran Majury into the search bar?”

No.

It’s because I’m uploading more consistently than before and because of that I’m becoming more visible. I’m doing a bit more promotion and am less ashamed of my writing.

For better or worse Kieranmajury.com is on the up.

How to do affirmations

Affirmations are easy to do.

Get yourself an A6 notebook and write out what you will do, Do that fifteen times.

This is the perfect size notebook for affirmations.

My current one: I, Kieran Majury, will be rich.

It’s basic but it’s what I need. The one aspect of my life that needs improvement is my finances.

I also put a date on the top of the page so that if I ever want to see how I have progressed I can do that.

So do it every day as soon as you wake up.

The only thing you have to worry about is someone catching you writing your affirmations. You’ll get funny looks.

My dad found me writing them, “What the hell are you doing?” it would have been less embarrassing had he walked in on me masturbating.

Praying and Affirmation: A hypothesis

Do you pray? There’s a chance if you’re reading this that you’ve prayed at some point in your life.

You only bother a higher power when you want something. Prayers are a series of words recited, and when doing so, you concentrate on what you desire.

There isn’t much difference between prayer and affirmations. They take on different forms, but the route purpose is the same.

If you’re too self-conscious about writing down or speaking out affirmations consider saying a prayer.

So see how you get on.

It worked for Chris Pratt.

Gratitude will make you have the right attitude

Gratitude is in short supply

Gratitude is essential, now more so than ever. You may have read my piece on meditation, but now I want to tell you about another aspect of my daily routine.

Again this is going to be a bit of a hippy dippy article. The main thrust is that you should practice gratitude daily. Gratitude is a way of reminding yourself how good life is.

Flashback to a lack of gratitude

As a kid, I was ungrateful.

I don’t know if I was a spoilt child, but I was a huffy one. I probably shouldn’t tell you about how much of an ungrateful kid I was but here goes.

Going back to the mid-nineties when I was still in primary school.

I had just got an A grade in my 11+ exam. I didn’t care about that. All I cared about was getting the Die Hard Trilogy game for my Sega Saturn. Games were delayed continuously on the Sega Saturn because it was a hard system to programme.

This was also in the dark ages before the readily available internet. So if I wanted to find out if something was out or not I had to go into Belfast city centre, with my parents and find out in the shop.

How primitive, I hear you think.

Anyway, they didn’t have the game, and I went into a full-blown huff for the rest of the day. My dad, frustrated with me said: “You couldn’t tell that you passed your exam”.

I felt wick after he said that to me but it helped put everything back into perspective. Looking back, I’m grateful he helped me realise how out of order I acted.

I was an ungrateful kid.

Further examples of my lack of gratitude

The example above is a memory that sticks with me most clearly. Don’t get me wrong; I’m sure that there have been many other times where I’ve been an ungrateful little shit.

I want to give you a few more examples to show you how far I’ve come. Some of these are embarrassing, and I haven’t told anyone before, but I have to get these stories out of me.

Back in the nineties

Going back even further, to the early nineties. I can’t remember what age I was, but we were still in Beechill Park, the first family house. I was younger than seven.

So our parents never made that much money, they were civil servants. We were never poor or anything, but we were never rolling in money either.

Not that Claire or I ever noticed if there ever was any financial difficulty. Christmas’ and birthdays, Claire and I always got way more than we deserved. Well, maybe Claire got the right amount.

Here’s an idea of how much we would get, this isn’t my memory, dad told me this.

One year I was found shoving all my toys into wardrobes and cupboards. This was so that Santa wouldn’t know how much stuff I had and would get more presents. You know, because Santa’s an idiot.

I’m taking a long way to say that my parents were very good to my sister and me.

One Christmas I got a Batman Helicopter, but my Batman figure didn’t fit into it properly. I remember going to my mother and telling her it was “The worst Christmas ever”.

Again, how ungrateful was I?

More recent examples

I’d like to think that I’ve become more grateful over the years, but I still have my moments. I have noticed that my ungratefulness tends to be food related.

I was on holiday in Brussels, I asked for onion rings. The waitperson brought me green beans and wouldn’t change, holiday ruined.

There was a time when Boojum only had the one location, and it had limited seating. I went for lunch there with my girlfriend at the time, Grace. Got our Burritos, couldn’t get seated, sat in the park. I hate eating in the open air; we had to end our lunch date. I said to her “I’m going to go into a massive strop, we have to end it here for today”. I left her home.

Again how ungrateful.

Practising gratitude

When trying to get myself out of a rut, I discovered the act of practising gratitude.

I bought a notebook and made it my gratitude journal.

Practising gratitude is simple. You date the page, and you write down ten things that you are grateful for, you do this every day. It takes five-ten minutes.

Here’s an example:

  • I am grateful to be alive
  • I am grateful for my health
  • I am grateful for my height
  • I am grateful to be able to write
  • I am grateful for all my family
  • I am grateful for my friends
  • I am grateful to have a job
  • I am grateful to have a car
  • I am grateful that I am creative
  • I am grateful for all my experiences, good and bad

It may look like nonsense but consider giving it a go.

When you start practising gratitude you’ll become more thankful.

You’ll realise how great it is to be alive, to be living in such times and to have people around you who love you.

You and I have it so good

I don’t want to make too many assumptions about you, but if you are reading this, you have it good.

You have access to the internet, you are literate, and you have the time to read this post.

I’m not saying things are perfect for you; nothing is ever perfect. What I am saying is that you have so much good going on in your life. Can you appreciate all that you have?

If you can, that’s great, and I’m happy for you.

If you get into the habit of practising gratitude, it’s easier to turn that light at the end of the tunnel into a spotlight.

I’m not a big fan of going to the gym or doing exercise classes, but I want to live for as long as possible. I also want to have as much of my mind intact, so I have to keep fit.

When I feel like giving up, when that internal voice says, “I hate this, go home, give up”. I talk back to that voice out loud. “Kieran you are so lucky to be able to take time out of your day and devote it to improving your help. There are fat people who have lost limbs to diabetes that don’t have that opportunity.”

That shuts me up.

Quiet your negative voice, practice gratitude.

Meditation will make you more chill

Meditation is good for you

Meditation is great, do you practice?

I do, at least I used to every day. I’ve fallen out of practice and am trying to rebuild the habit.

This post is more a reminder to me to do so, but you’re free to read along.

The main takeaway of this post is that meditation is a great way to ground you in the present. When you aren’t worried about the future all the time you can get on with tasks now that will help you prepare for the future.

There is no right way to meditate. You can take as long or as short as you want, The more you do it the more you will notice yourself becoming calmer and more chilled.

Fair warning this is going to get hippy dippy from here on out. I’m going to be using words and phrases that I probably shouldn’t be using.

Meditate early meditate often

Looking at the stats over the two meditation apps I use I’ve spent over 170 hours meditating over the past three years.

If you’ve never meditated before let me be your guide and dispel some of the myths.

There are myths that you need to spend hours with your legs crossed, eyes closed chanting “om”. That isn’t the case.

You can take as little time as you want. If you want you can take a minute. If you’re starting out, I would say at least five-ten minutes is a good length of time. After a few months, you can either lengthen that or shorten that as you wish.

The purpose of meditation is to focus on your breath. To bring your mind back to the present. Become more aware of what is going on right now. All you have is the present. The past is gone, and the future will never come.

All you have is now.

Humans are terrible at predicting the future. You spend so much time worrying about what might be that it can spoil the appreciation of how good you have it right now.

Take five or ten minutes at the start or end of your day and sit in silence.

Set a timer on your phone and place your phone on the other side of the room.

Sit on the floor, straighten your back and focus on your breathing. Count each breath once you get to ten, start again. In through the nose out through the mouth.

If you live with someone, ask that person not to disturb you. If you have kids, I’m not a parent, get up before them or maybe if they’re watching TV or playing with their tablets do it then.

Whatever your scenario you have the time.

The importance is to build the routine in the first place.

There is no “right” way to meditate.

The instructions I gave you are arbitrary there is no right way to meditate. What matters is that you believe yourself to be meditating. If you think it’s stupid and isn’t working for you, you’re right. If you believe that you’re finally getting the hang of it, you’re also right.

Even I’m still a bit sceptical as to whether meditation works.

Experiment with meditation. It’s quiet time for your mind. It’s about slowing down and chilling out.

In fact, meditating and the “proper” way to power nap aren’t that different. In the book Tired but Wired, Dr Nerina Ramlakhan tells you the proper way to power nap.

Sit, don’t lie, keep your eyes slightly open and take deep breaths.

Walking in nature is a form of meditation.

This is my favourite form of meditation. You and I live in a world dominated by technology. Smartphones and the internet control our lives. The technology explosion is recent. Humans have spent the majority of our existence among nature.

Nature, forests, woods and trees are part of who we are and to lose that connection isn’t right.

You and I need nature. The colour green has a significant effect on our mind. To step away from the modern world and go back to basics is good for you.

Drive to a forest, leave the phone in the car and go for a walk.

Disconnect to reconnect.

What to expect from a meditation

Your experience will be different from mine.

One meditation it felt like hours had passed when I’d only done ten minutes. It felt like I had just woken up from a great sleep, totally refreshed and full of energy.

Meditation is almost like a deep sleep in waking state. I don’t always have that experience but when I do it feels like my mind has opened. Through repeated meditation, you’re increasing the chances of having an experience like that.

My hypothesis on the point of meditation

I’m going to make an analogy comparing brains to computers. This won’t be that persuasive but bear with me on this one.

When you meditate, I consider it to be cleaning out the recycle bin on your desktop. It’s uninstalling the unused apps on your phone. That unnecessary noise your brain picks up throughout the day. You may not notice but it clogs your mind. After a while, you can’t concentrate. Like when you have a load of tabs open and the computer grinds to a halt. You meditate as a form of task killing.

This is why I’m building the habit of avoiding my phone until noon. As soon as you let a little in it comes in flood.

You open an email, follow a link that leads to twitter. That tweet leads to Facebook that leads to Youtube. You click on a suggested video before you know it you are in a comatose state of endless scrolling.

Meditation is a form of safeguarding against the background noise that gets louder throughout the day.

Meditation apps

There are a few apps that you can use to get started in meditation. There is Headspace. I don’t know about you, but the guy’s voice began to grate after a while. It has a paid subscription that you can use, but I can’t really recommend the service.

I bought a two-year subscription that still has a few months to go but I don’t use the app anymore.

I recommend Stop, Breath and Think. It has a load of free meditations and is easy enough to use. They’re moving into the paid subscription space, but you don’t need to use that.

There is also this guided meditation on Youtube.

Hope that you found this helpful and that at some point you’ll come round to the idea of meditating.

On Thursday I’ll be talking about gratitude.

See you then.

Ocean’s 8 will flop: 8 reasons

Ocean’s 8 is out today

Ocean’s 8 is in cinemas from today so I’m going to write about it.

I’m on a bit of a roll writing-wise. Did you read my update from Saturday?

Ocean’s 8 will flop and here is a totally non-gimmicky list of eight reasons why.

Zero hype

Did you know this film existed?

I didn’t, maybe that speaks more of my ignorance than anything else, but there has been zero hype for Ocean’s 8.

I know that it’s all female but after that, what’s the hook?

No one is excited about this film, no one asked for another Ocean’s film and no one is going to see it.

It’s champions lack enthusiasm.

This film will probably be fine.

It’ll be bland because most movies made today are inoffensive, insipid forgettable trash. Ocean’s 8 will be no different.

It’ll lack passion because it’s a film put together by committee.

There haven’t been many bad reviews but read between the lines of the “positive” reviews.

Several critics have said that the Ocean’s 8 isn’t perfect. Pointing out that something isn’t perfect is the most non-committal milquetoast observation you can make.

Of course it isn’t perfect; no movie is perfect.

Even films that I consider perfect contain imperfections.

In Ghostbusters how does Venkman know they have to empty their heads? Robocop, it isn’t clear if Clarence recognises Murphy as the cop he murdered. In Shadow of a Doubt there is, when, the, you know what, that film is perfect.

They’re damning Ocean’s 8 with faint praise.

Releasing on a Monday

Releasing a film on a Monday shows a lack of confidence from the studio.

Friday is the standard practice day to release a film. Release on Friday and you take the weekend gross to work out if the film is a success or not.

That’s because a film usually drops it’s revenue by 50% by the second weekend. Even films that most people consider to be “good” have this sharp decline.

If a film releases on Thursday that means that the studio is confident in the product and are hoping for good word of mouth to get the weekend crowd in the door. Look at Hereditary as a recent example. It’s been getting critical buzz even though it is splitting audiences, it will do well.

Releasing on a Monday means the studio don’t have any faith in the film.

Remember from Monday-Sunday is counted as “opening weekend”. Studios will count the whole weeks gross as opening weekend. You’ll hear that the film did great but don’t forget they’re counting seven days as three.

If the film does OK it will be because there is no competition. Solo was as genuine certified bomb and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom has been out for a while.

Heist films are meh

Does anyone like heist films? I’m personally not a big fan. The moral tends to be crime doesn’t pay or if you’re the lesser of two evils, it does.

Heist films tend to have a significant portion of the run time spent looking at maps and planning stuff out.

The stakes in heist films are too low. No one dies in heist films. The hero may get sent to prison, but usually, they come up with “one last job” while inside, so incarnation is no big deal.

Characters in heist films tend to be selfish assholes. You accept men as selfish assholes because we tend to be that way. Will people take women in the same way?

Good heist films tend to not be about the heist itself.

Reservoir Dogs doesn’t have a heist. Inception is about dreams. The Killing is probably the best film about a heist, which has a heist in it.

Ocean’s films are even meher

Is there a nostalgia for the Ocean’s films? If so I’m unaware.

Full disclosure, I’ve never seen any of the Ocean’s films. Not the Sinatra one, not the Clooney ones.

The films never interested me. All people ever said was that Brad Pitt eats in every scene, does that mean it’s good?

Were the sequels not famous for being bad, even by sequel standards? They had a whole bit were Julia Roberts character poses as Julia Roberts.

So good for you Ocean’s 8, you have brand recognition, score.

Women working as a team

This is the point you were expecting weren’t you?

I can’t go on too much about my thoughts about a group of more than three women working together harmoniously John Mulaney does a far better job.

What is going to kill Ocean’s 8 is that they are going to portray the women as these angels who walk among us. You can’t have them fall out because that might be sexist. Women not fighting may be politically correct or some nonsense, but it is not dramatic.

Look at Gone Girl, one of the finest films about male and female relationships. It was brutally honest about men and women, both were shown to be assholes and it was considered misogynist.

The Bechdel test is nonsense.

You will probably hear that this film passes the Bechdel test.

What is the Bechdel test?

If your film has a scene with two named female characters talking about something other than men, congratulations you passed.

It makes a film more female-friendly because women struggle to empathise with others, isn’t that right? If women don’t see other women in movies, they can’t relate.

I know this pain because I can only enjoy films with tall men in them (my favourite films, therefore, are Space Jam, Roger Moore James Bond, and Steel)

Examples of female-friendly/Bechdel test passing films: Annihilation, Alien saga, Die Hard and the first Terminator film.

Enjoy ladies.

Examples of films that don’t pass, Kathryn Bigelow’s entire filmography.

The Bechdel test is pointless, most real-life women wouldn’t pass it so who cares if fictitious women do?

Half-assed feminism

They never go all in on the feminism gimmick they always half-ass the job. Why stop at all-female principal cast? Make the crew all female?

Why do these “all-female” gimmicks stop at the cast? Why is the director always male.

Ghostbusters 2016 had a male director, Paul Feig. I hate Paul Feig’s directing, this video explains many of my problems with him.

If you’re going to make something all female then why not go all in, get a female director and all female writers.

Who directed this? Gary Ross, great the guy who hired Michael J. Fox to be his camera person on the first Hunger Games film.

I also see James Cordenmeofffromthepublic is in it too, wonderful.

So what’s the matter Hollywood, don’t you believe in women?

One final observation, did they spoil the “twist” in the first image they released? Is an antagonist going to be in on it from the start?

Why is Anne Hathaway on the train with them?

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