Tag Archives: Food



Last weekend, in less than 48 hours, I helped design a novel café-based card game from scratch.

I can scarcely believe that it’s been a whole seven days since the beginning of the whirlwind Global Game Jam 2015 / #SotonGameJam tsunami that wiped out 48 hours of my life last weekend but, evidently, it has. I’ve got a bigger game dev-based post in the works in which I want to write about my various board game projects (Penny Black, Babbage and, now, Café Carnage), so I won’t take up too much time here with them, but yes, in 48 hours Marco, Dickson and I came up with a brand new card game called Café Carnage as part of #GGJ15, and you can download the print ‘n’ play files here ~

Print and play files: Café Carnage – Global Game Jam 2015 game by Marco Caldarelli, Simon George and Dickson Chui // Ages: 8 and above, playtime: 15-30 minutes.

Café Carnage is a party, bluffing-type game where yourself and three friends decide to visit five restaurants with an initial budget of £30, and attempt to eat the most food whilst trying screw your friends over by getting them to share the bill when you’ve eaten heartily, or running away when it’s time to pay the bill. In the end, we actually managed to pretty much come up with the whole of Café Carnage in less than 20 hours after a false start where we focussed on a different concept, which sort of makes it even more surprising that we actually have a game to show at the end of it. And it works! It’s not the world’s best tabletop game nor is it free from minor problems and limitations, but it’s a playable game and (at least from the playtesting we managed to get done during #SotonGameJam) people seemed to be enjoying it 😀

There’s more work that can be done on it towards refining it, but it’s totally playable as it is for four players looking to have a quick, light-hearted bit of fun ordering food and trying to bluff your way out of the bill. So yes: overall, in between the panic-designing and epic exhaustion that were sort of hallmarks of the jam, I had a good time at #SotonGameJam. It certainly proved a dramatic, rollercoaster way of spending a weekend; even if it did – at times – help to fuel the raging inferno of insecurity in my own abilities and ideas.

Recently, a lot of my insecurities have (sort of) come to the forefront of my mind and hammered away at my sanity more often than I’d like. Over the years, I’ve become quite good at burying the insecurity and covering it up with distractions or occupations or (more genuine) stresses and strains; but, with my current situation of being between-jobs and on my own at home for most of the time, there’s considerable time for the insecurity to chisel its tiny way into your sanity and start tinkering away into your confidence and self-belief. I’ve never been particularly affluent in self-confidence and self-esteem but, recently, things have sort of accidentally conspired to erode what faith I did have in myself; causing me to doubt the confidence in my outward persona and the things that I say, make and create. The general result, essentially, is that I’ve had too much time to overthink a lot of things, and to reflect on where I am in life/love/legacy and whether I measure up to the imaginary standards I’ve concocted that I think the world is expecting me to live up to.

Whenever I’m faced with a question of “whether I’m good enough”, I naturally end up comparing myself to unrealistic benchmarks (famous people, fictional characters, people that I perceive to be “winning at life”) and conveniently forgetting about the millions of other people around me that have normal lives and normal expectations set of them; as well as the flaws & imperfections that my beloved ‘benchmarks’ inevitably possess in addition to their positive qualities. My brain knows that, rationally, there is no point in comparing my physical appearance with that of Tom Hiddleston but, for some reason, it seems to interpret the fact that Tom Hiddleston exists – and is uncomfortably pretty and charming – as some sort of sleight on myself and my own looks. I can sort of understand where it’s coming from, though: when Hiddlesexy is wandering about on the same celestial body as I am, who the hell would be physically attracted to me?

The thing is, such thoughts are far from helpful. I might be wholly unconvinced by my physical looks and (most of the time) think that I’m some sort of hideous troll, but that’s not to say that everyone else thinks the same, too. Naturally, I see my flaws and my imperfections because I’m looking for them, and I see them every day in the mirror or in my brain or in my hands and am continually reminded that they’re there. They’re there, right in front of me, all of the time and, because of the way my brain works, they blot out all of the good bits that aren’t flawed or opaque and cause me to forget all that’s good about me and the confidence I have in myself & my abilities. Deep down, I have trust that I’m not a terrible person nor possess the world’s most repulsive appearance, and that I have qualities that People value and want to have around them, but the brain sometimes has rather unhelpful ways of trying to be ‘helpful’.

It’s been a bit of a choppy sea that I’ve been sailing in these last six months out of long-term relationship, and I’m still finding my sea legs. I’m still properly figuring out where I stand in the world, now that I’m standing in it on my own; and, in trying to establish my comfort zone, I’m sort of still feeling around for signs that I’m doing things right and that everything is okay. I’m the sort of person that wears their heart not only on their sleeve but on their every facet, and so it’s sometimes easy for my exposed heart to find itself injured in the process of everyday life – in the absence of corrective feedback or affirmations of “yes, you’re doing things right”, my brain tends to interpret the neutrality as indications of my visible failures or inadequacies. Again: not helpful, brain.

I need to let go of who I think I’m supposed to be, and embrace everything that makes me, me; imperfections and all. Just because I am not some famous, swooning celebrity who’s solved cold fusion and won a Best Actor Oscar and climbed Everest does not mean that I am not still a kind, generous, intelligent, thoughtful, funny person that’s – in his own way – unique and talented and beautiful.

I can do a lot of things that a lot of other people couldn’t even consider doing: I mean, last weekend, in less than 48 hours, I helped design a novel café-based card game from scratch. I bet Tom Hiddleston couldn’t do that, even if he would look infuriatingly pretty whilst trying.


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That’s No Moon

I need to lose some weight. I’m not saying I’m like some kind of Small Moon or anything like that, but the PhD lifestyle (sitting at desk all day, eating all day to keep alertness levels up, not getting time for exercise) has hardly been kind to my figure. This will not do.

So, I’m starting a new regime which consists of the following details:

1. Stop Putting So Much Stuff in my Face ~ Yes, I eat far too much. It’s not necessarily what I put in my face (being a vegetarian, I eat a fair amount of fruit and vegetables so it’s easy to tick off my Five a Day), but just the sheer quantity. For a start, being located in the exact same spot for nine hours a day means that there’s an obvious temptation to eat whatever food you’ve brought in for snacking (mainly fruit), and the proximity of a chocolate bar vending machine is hardly helpful. Even out of my office hours, I often find I snack even when not hugely hungry; perhaps there’s something psychological going on there. Either way, cutting down on the quantity I eat is a necessity, because I sure as hell don’t use up all the energy I consume (nor need to consume to replace expended energy) and I could get away with eating a lot less.

2. Be Better About What I Put in my Face ~ Despite the above, I do still have treats and snacks of fatty stuffs a bit too often for my liking. I’ve got a hella sweet tooth and often crave chocolate-y things, and will pick sweet stuff over savoury every time. Also, when I’m left to my own devices and have to fend for myself and find food, I generally go for the easy option of heating up some bread and spreading something on top, or just eating something out of a packet. If I ate more ‘proper’ food, then I’d be filled up for longer and not continually snack on small (and maybe sweet) things.

3. Get Up and Do Stuff More ~ I’m pretty lazy. There’s plenty of opportunity to go do fitness-type things, but somehow I never bother; it’s easier to sit around the house eating toast and watching Top Gear. I should just go out of the door and sodding do something. The only regular exercise is the 20-minute walk to and from work each day.  I certainly haven’t done as much inline as I’d’ve liked this year – I should just bloody well grab my mp3 player, stick my protective gear on and jump on my skates for a blat around the Common or somewhere inline-safe. Why the hell not?

4. Never Take the Easy Option ~ I’m guilty of a number of things which reflect my general laziness: Taking the lift when I have only a handful of flights of steps to climb. Driving into work on the weekend when I could walk like I do the rest of the week. Eating easy, unhealthy food when I could construct a healthy meal with some home-cookery if I’d only input a modicum of effort. Of course, it’s going to take some thinking to get me into new routines, but it won’t take long to adapt to new ways of doing things.

5. Sweeten the Pot ~ Of course, the idea of being fitter and leaner and sexier is enough of a motivation to get in shape, but sometimes I’m forgetful and need extra bonuses to get me to do things. So the question is how to reward me when I’m doing things which are good for me: the problem is finding rewards which aren’t counterproductive (e.g. ice cream, chocolate, chips). Coming up with Rewards is going to be a tough battle, but targeting what appeals to me is pretty key to its success: fr’instance, I recently got back up to speed with JRPGs on the DS by buying a second-hand copy of Pokemon SoulSilver complete with the Pokewalker accessory. So now, in an effort to gain both gaming and real-life EXP, I’m making conscious effort to walk everywhere with a Tentacruel in my pocket. It doesn’t make me feel any more like a grown-up, but at least it massages my necessity to turn everything in normal life into some sort of game.

6. Remove the Misery of Exercise ~ One of the main problems I find with organised exercise is that it’s so damned boring. I can’t think of anything less appealing than going to a busy, grey-walled room full of ungodly machines of torture and sweaty, boring fitness freaks. I’d much rather get my kicks from the great outdoors where I can look at the scenery or laugh at the general public, or perhaps some sort of home-gym set up where I have aforementioned ungodly machines of torture positioned in front of a TV, games console and I can level-grind my way through Xenoblade Chronicles or watch The Rock while I pedal away on a cycle machine for a while.

I guess my main reason in defining things is that, now I’ve said all these words, I’m now committed to doing something about it. This is by no means a guarantee that I will do something about it, but it certainly means that I can’t go the other way and get fatter, lazier and an even more close resemblance to Jabba the Hutt. If I start now, then that gives me a head start on New Year’s resolutions, and might mean that I’m in good stead by the 1st January to actually maintain the regime for the whole of 2013. We shall see.  Wish me luck.


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