The Agent Reviews A Game: Hungry Dragon

Live every fantasy fan’s dream; roleplay as Smaug.
Source: Ubisoft

So a lot of my essays lately have been focused on LGBTQ+ – specifically transgender – issues due to their impact on my life. However, I realize that some people might need a break from the heavy topics and just have some fun. So, let’s get back into one of my increasingly favorite topics; mobile games.

In my side mission to find entertaining distractions that I can play anywhere I damn-well please (a big deal in previous months with no reliable Wi-Fi of my own), I’ve developed a sort of affection for fun and simple little games on my phone. And they don’t get much more simple and fun for me than Hungry Dragon.

Yes, from the company that gave us Rayman and Assassin’s Creed comes a manic mobile game with a simple premise; You dragon, they crunchy. EAT. THEY. ASS.

I was immediately grabbed by the visuals. A lot of mobile games claim to have great graphics, but they lack the charm that Hungry Dragon has. All of the detailed texturing means nothing if the design is uninspired. And luckily for this game, the dragons are given so much personally and variety ranging from genuinely intimidating to cartoonishly wicked that almost everyone will have their own favorite.

As for the gameplay, it’s a simple endurance game. You fly around the world eating anything you can fit in your gob – humans, livestock, goblins, OTHER DRAGONS, etc. – while dodging hazards like hunters, mines, and larger predators. Eat enough at once and you breathe a massive gout of flame that makes quick work of everything in your path. Keep eating and avoid starvation for as long as you can to get cool loot.

And the loot is indeed cool. You’ll end up unlocking pets that give stat bonuses, costumes that change how each dragon plays, and larger dragons that grant access to different pray and new areas of the world. Again, there’s enough variety and the designs are inspired enough that you’ll quickly find your favorites.

One of the things I appreciate most about this game though is it’s one of only, if not THE only mobile game I’ve played that doesn’t harass you to play it on its schedule. I’ve railed in the past about my disdain for games that force daily login goals just to keep players and how they make a simple game feel more like work. There’s no sign of that in Hungry Dragon. All you ever get is the occasional notification that an egg you’ve been incubating is ready to hatch. It makes for a much more casual, laid-back game perfect to unwind to after a long day.

While this is easily one of my favorite mobile games at the time, I have my qualms with it. For one, the graphic intensity of the game does tax my phone slightly resulting in some minor loss in frame rate. It’s not enough to ruin gameplay, but it does break the immersion for me. What’s more, I feel the lack of a competitive multiplayer mode is a bit of a missed opportunity. Games like Agar.io proved that people quite enjoy the concept of a player-eat-player competitive game.

Other than those minor points, however, this is a solid mobile game that I have yet to find myself leaving. It’s relaxed, it looks amazing, and it’s just silly fun to inhale an entire village only to find your controls have suddenly been reversed because you accidentally got tipsy on the town drunk. Download this game – you will not regret it.

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The Social Side Of Transitioning: Reflections On Coming Out As A Transgender Woman

 

I call this look, “Corporate Casual Goth.”

So after a PAINFULLY long hiatus as I dealt with moving to a new apartment, fighting with the former landlady, and living without regular and reliable internet access, I’ve finally gotten back into the swing of things. and it’s a good thing too; I was going stir crazy beating myself up about not making regular posts and making myself feel incredibly guilty over circumstances I had no control over.

But over the extended break from The Archive and in-between the packing, I was able to reflect on my new life as an out and proud transgender woman. And I came to a sudden realization; everybody talks about the PHYSICAL changes that people go through, but it feels like almost no one discusses the SOCIOLOGICAL changes one faces.

Now, obviously, there’s a good reason for that; physical changes can be quantified and measured and patterns often emerge that we can build accurate predictions off of. Social changes depend on, not only the individual’s personality but also the environment they were raised in, the environment they currently occupy, and the general attitudes of the public as they change and develop over time. Basically, Sociology and Psychology are “soft sciences” and much more difficult to predict and discuss.

That said, I CAN give my own personal reflections on the transition in the hopes that it will spark a conversation where others share their experiences and someone will find something relatable to their situation.

Now to give context to my experience, I feel I should let you know a few things. First, I’m 33 years old, so I’m starting the transition much later than most these days. Second, I’ve only been on HRT for 6 weeks, so I’m still relatively early on in my physical transition. And third, I live in southern New Hampshire and the state is a bit divided on LGBTQ+ issues. The stereotype is that the north(i.e. Cow-Hampshire) is nothing but cattle farmers and covered bridges (so very little context for or interest in LGBTQ+) and the south (i.e. New Massachusetts) is nothing but Malls and Drag Queens (so more interest in LGBTQ+, but not always proportional understanding).

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about my observations. For example…

Cisgender women are significantly more friendly to me

I have honestly lost count of how many times I’ve been out in public and a random woman has stopped me to compliment me on my clothing, marvel at my long legs, or offer and trade advice on how to do hair and eyeliner. It honestly makes me feel really good to know that so many total strangers are willing to be so neighborly.

It almost feels as if, trans or otherwise, women simply feel more comfortable in the presence of other women. It’s a feeling that I can relate to even BEFORE I came out. (NOTE: this is not too bad mouth my guy friends; you are awesome too).

It’s not a universal thing, obviously; I still catch the occasional cock eyebrow from a random woman from time to time. But the ratio between the two extremes is so vast as to be jaw-dropping.

On the other end of the spectrum…

Cisgender MEN are significantly LESS friendly to me

Again, this is not a universal truth; my male friends since before coming out have been extremely kind and helpful to me as I transition. However, in terms of total strangers, it seems that nearly everyone comes off with an air of indifference towards me or complete distrust – looking at me just long enough to cast a judgemental eye and go back to their business.

Now, I can’t say for sure what those penetrating stares are all about (3 seconds isn’t a lot of time to psychoanalyze a person), but I can’t help but feel like they feel betrayed when they see me. As their gaze says, “What’s wrong, are we not good enough for you?” And as someone who cares quite a bit (perhaps too much) about other people’s feelings, that sort of thing can eat me alive from the inside out.

But enough about interacting with strangers, let’s talk about closer interpersonal relationships.

It’s easy to forget that coming out affects others – not just me

I don’t always recognize the judging glances when I go out to dinner with friends or what passers-by are thinking while I’m sitting in the park with my dad having a heart-to-heart. I’ve spent so much time – over 30 years – worrying about what other people think, I just don’t care anymore.

Of course, therein lies the problem. I want to start focusing on making myself happy for a change before it’s too late, but doing so means leaving the people I care about to reconcile the aftermath I leave behind. Thankfully, most of the people in my life have been more than understanding in that regard and know that I need to start showing a little self-love. That said, it’s not an easy thought to handle and I frequently guilt trip myself about it.

 

Cisgender people get misgendered too

Not to mention any names, but I do have some older ladies in my life that have struggled with misgendering. They’ve lost the figure they had in youth, stress has caused hair to thin, and I have to imagine that it hurts just as much for them to be called, “Sir,” by a cashier as it does me.

That said, it does help me deal with it a bit better. Sometimes, honest mistakes happen and no one means any harm. Just politely remind them and try to move one if they start getting indignant.

Of course, if you’re the sort of person that KNOWS better than to call me a man and you still do to insult me or because you’re too ashamed to call me a woman around your friends, I’m going to be judging the s*** out of you for the rest of your natural life.

Archive News: Almost Back To Normal

So, yesterday night was a huge evening. We finally have our new apartment and are in the middle of setting up things. It’s honestly been a nightmare every step of the way, but it’s refreshing to know the vast majority of it is behind us.

As for the state of the blog, we have a stable, albeit temporary internet connection again. The only thing preventing me from doing something today is utter exhaustion from the move. Next week will see a return to form. In the meantime, I’m going to focus on making my new home livable again.

I’ll see you all next week!

Archive News: An Update On the Move and Starting My Transition

Once again, Field Operatives, I apologize for not being very active through the last few weeks. I’ve had to make do with whatever limited wi-fi I can find in my travels which vastly limits my posting frequency. That said, I did want to at least fill you in on what’s happening in my life.

Firstly, It seems that I finally have a date for when the new apartment will be ready. I should be rebuilding my life come August 25. It will be a bit of a struggle to get through, but it will be a positive change overall. My rent will be more manageable, the landlord is a good friend, and I’ll be back to having AC to get through what has been one of the most inhospitable summers in my recent memory.

I’ve also FINALLY started Hormone Replacement Therapy HRT. As is often tradition among the trans* community, I’ll be keeping a visual record on my Twitter account complete with body measurements documenting physical change weekly. I’m also considering a more in-depth review of my transition here if there’s any interest.

At any rate, the hiatus will continue until I can be sure that my internet connection is more consistent and stable. I’ll try to keep you all posted on any changes that may occur in the meantime.

Thanks again for being so patient with me. I’ll be back as soon as I can.

Archive News: Everything went FUBAR

Hey, Field Operatives. I just got back from my trip to New York. It was most pleasant and I feel fully refreshed.

Good thing too, because everything turned against me while I was out.

Firstly, due to trouble on the road and having to divert from the original path to avoid MULTIPLE accidents on the highway, I’ve arrived late and don’t have time to work on an article this week.

Another time-consuming factor is the news that my landlady is bumping up our rent, so it looks like we may have to vacate unexpectedly. That means a lot of time spent packing and possibly time without internet access.

I’m currently looking at workarounds to fix the internet issue. That said, even if I can’t get regular articles out for a while, I’ll at least keep you all posted on my living situation.

Here’s hoping we get back on schedule next week.

3 Fun Activities to Get You Out of The House

So, in an ongoing effort to stave off the effects of depression and anxiety, I’ve been trying to take steps to change my lifestyle here and there to better facilitate my emotional health. I recently started a new anti-depressant/anti-anxiety treatment, I’ve been actively cutting out people and things that may cause me undue stress, and I’m starting to listen more to my own sense of comfort – favoring an “if it feels good, do it” mentality over fretting over what society will think.

But, in addition to all that, I’m also making an effort to try an overcome my mild to moderate demophobia and disdain for social interactions by trying to force myself to go outside more often. The only problem is – and I imagine this a problem for A LOT of people with social anxiety – that unless you need to go shopping or something, there’s often little reason to leave the comfort of your bedroom/living room/personal office (I have very little living space; shut up).

So, I’ve been attempting to find and rediscover some old out outdoor activities to help get me outside, be more physically active, and socializing with humanity again. So far, I’ve come across three viable fun-time adventures to go on.

Urban Hiking

Yes, nature is pretty. But a skyline can be nice to look at too.
Source: Liz Thomas Hiking

My Father is a bit of a mountaineer. He’s hiked along almost every major mountain trail in New Hampshire and he’s been very encouraging to try and get me to join him.

The problem is that I live in the middle of the city with very little time to devote to traveling to the mountains. But who’s to say you can’t enjoy a hike through the city?

Sure, some people may scoff at the idea. But if you find it difficult to get to a nature trail, urban hiking may just suit you. Not only does it get you into a social setting, but you may just be surprised at what you find on your travels. I’ve been on hikes through college towns with lots of shops packed together and found places that I end up coming back to later; thrift stores, cafes, etc.

Most Urban Hikers seem to favor places with lots of stairs and hills to simulate the incline of a mountain trail, but you can always choose the path that best suits your level of expertise. It all makes for a more travel-friendly, lower-risk social activity.

Geocaching

“I found treasure… WITH MY PHONE.”
Source: Janesville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

One part hike, one part treasure hunt, and one part time capsule. Geocaching is the high tech way to wander the world in search of fresh new sights.

What’s nice about geocaching is how accessible it is. People have quite literally hidden these little boxes of surprise goodies that they trade from one cache to the next EVERYWHERE; in cities, on nature trails, in cemeteries, in parking lots – if you can covertly fit a container big enough to hold a logbook of some kind in it, someone has likely done so. As such, there’s no shortage of options to fit your skill level. All you need is a phone with a GPS and the drive to explore.

What’s more, there’s nothing quite like the thrill of coming across an item in a cache with a tracking number on it so you can see where it’s been. On my first outing, I found a keychain from the Hard Rock Cafe in Singapore with such a tracker. It had gone up the west coast from the southern tip of California to Washington state, leaped to mid-state New York, and again to New Hampton here in New Hampshire. I then left it in a cache in Maine to complete its coast-to-coast journey and, last I saw, it was somewhere in Texas.

The only catch is that you have to exercise a little stealth while playing as any non-players (referred to, much to the delight of Harry Potter fans, as Muggles) may be inclined to tamper with or even steal the cache. So tread lightly and stay aware.

Battle Gaming

All the action of a Dungeons & Dragons game right in your face.
Source: Wikipedia

Do you miss the days when you and your friends would roughhouse in the yard, but don’t want to risk losing teeth to recreate the feeling? Do you like the look and action of LARPing, but can’t be arsed to deal with all that role-playing nonsense? Well, grab yourself some foam and get into the ring of battle games.

I got into this back in my convention days and it was a blast. Armed with foam-crafted blade and shield (called Boffers) and your nerves, you can now capture the feeling of charging into battle like the warriors of old.

The rules of battle differ depending on who’s organizing the events. Some are one-on-one gladiatorial battles. Others are large-scale wargames with competing tribes and armies. And each has different regulations on how boffers are crafted and what weapons are allowed. Though almost all of them are designed to minimize the risk of injury while letting players go wild.

With foam arrows flying through the air and people shield bashing their way through a crowd, it can get hectic. But with the light bruises comes a sense of pride and exhilaration as you face down the horde and stand your ground against the odds… even if it’s all just pretend and sport.

The Social Importance of The Selfie (and The Agent’s Selfie Catalog)

In addition to the Summer Solstice – the longest day of the year and my official start of summer, today is recognized by us digital denizens as National Selfie Day. And I felt that the day provided an opening for useful commentary on human psychology and sociology.

Remember not too long ago when just the word ‘selfie’ conjured up a bevy of negative images in our heads? We associated the selfie with vapidness, vanity, and egocentric narcissism.

However, while that stigma has persisted to an extent, I feel people are slowly understanding the importance of the selfie in a modern society. The simple act of taking a photo of yourself says so much about you and your life.

For a start, it’s a proclamation of pride in your achievements – no matter how small. By going out into the world and snapping a photo of you at the beach or in the crowd at a concert, you are proclaiming to the world, “I was there. I saw the world HAPPEN in front of me and contributed to it.” A brief look at history will show the need to document our actions. Selfies are just a new evolution of this process that replaces long-winded words with an image that speaks thousands at a glance.

What’s more, it’s a statement of self-love – a form of love that seems in sadly short supply these days. I’m part of a body positivity group on Facebook; body positivity being a big deal to someone like me who is about to begin a gender transition. I can’t tell you how helpful it is to receive loving encouragement from friends, family, and kind strangers when coming to terms with my appearance. And judging from the response of others, I sense I’m not alone in that feeling.

So, make it a point today to go out, put on the best you that you have, and proclaim your existence to the world. Show – don’t tell – that you are here and that you matter.

Of course, this wouldn’t be a proper National Selfie Day article if I didn’t celebrate along with you. So, for those that don’t or can’t follow my actions on Twitter here’s a collection of my recent selfies. I wish you all a lovely day celebrating your beautiful selves.