MagAO-X 2020A Stay At Home Day 28: You Just Lost the Game

I report to you live from my bed, where I have spent a lot of time the last six weeks or so, sleeping, (…sometimes…) working, and playing video games.

[taps my metaphorical microphone] …hello…? Hello! I’m Erin Maier, your guest stay-at-home blogger for this fine Wednesday. I’m a PhD student in astronomy working with Dr. Ewan Douglas in the University of Arizona Space Astrophysics Lab group (UASAL) on various things related to high contrast imaging from space (including continuing the good work of Dr. Kelsey Miller on Electric Field Conjugation.) I report to you live from my bed, where I have spent a lot of time the last six weeks or so, sleeping, (…sometimes…) working, and playing video games.

Video games have become my biggest social outlets in these times of quarantine, and I know they have for other people too. Every day I get closer to buying a Nintendo Switch so I can play Animal Crossing with all my friends. Alas, I’m not quite there yet. The turnip market scares me. As does Tarantula Island. But I’ve picked up Overwatch for the first time in two years or so to play with my best friend; a friend bought me and another friend copies of a JRPG called Octopath Traveler and we’ve been livestreaming with each other on the weekends (we also have a cooperative Stardew Valley farm between the 3 of us); another friend and I have little dates in Destiny 2 every Tuesday evening to do a challenge that’s on a 6 week rotation and grab the special collectibles together. This is what our “we still on for this evening?” conversations have become:

“He’s trying to speak to me, I know it!”

Of all my games, I’ve been spending the most time in Destiny 2, and it’s been a major help in keeping my mental health up, mostly by being an escape fantasy. I mean, sure, the Universe is once again under threat by the powers of Darkness that nearly destroyed us a couple centuries ago, but that’s something I personally can do something about, unlike this pandemic. It’s an open world looter-shooter with plenty to do at all levels of commitment. It’s easy to spend a couple hours exploring and doing bounties on my own,

This game is incredibly gorgeous. I spend a good amount of time just taking screenshots, even after playing for over a year…here’s me standing above Earth’s last safe City.

or hop into the Crucible (6 player – vs 6 player battle royale mode) on my own or with friend(s) for a few matches,

Destiny 2 switched to being hosted by Steam in October. Steam allows people to change their display names at will. It can be pretty hilarious. There’s also been a rash of people making their names things like COVID-19, which in my opinions is in pretty poor taste, but it leads to situations like this: “Defeated covid-19.” Pretty satisfying. I recommend checking out the twitter @destiny2names, which takes submissions of funny names people see in game. Good for some laughs.

or throw up a “looking for game” post to preplan an activity if I want to do something mechanically difficult to take my mind off things. There’s a group of us slowly working through the list of achievements required to get the special title “Rivensbane” for Last Wish, my favorite raid in the game. We run it a couple of time a week together, and cheer on each others’ successes and commiserate the failures.

Group hug in the middle of Last Wish! This took us like 5 minutes to coordinate because it’s 3 pairs of people doing the same “hug” emote and we kept accidentally pushing each other out of it.

My fellow UASAL grad student in OpSci, Jaren Ashcraft, has also recently picked up Destiny 2! Which has been exciting! We yell about optics, take a break to go shoot some aliens, go back to yelling about optics. It’s been fun dragging him all over the Solar System and being like “oh god is this what my friends felt like when I was a new player?” I feel a deep sense of responsibility to make sure he gets to see all of the cool places and things and also to laugh when he misjudges his jumps and falls off a cliff (karma usually gets me a few minutes later).

He’s also still leveling his character, which means he’s often stuck with the ugly low rarity gear. I try very hard not to be mean about it because I was there once, but also, I can’t believe there was a time I thought this stuff was fashionable.

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Jaren’s character. His character is a sentient robot called an Exo.
For fairness’ sake, my main character (we’re called “Guardians”), circa February 2019, post-written qualifying exam, when I started playing. My character is an Awoken, a variant of a baseline human. Both Jaren’s and my characters are Warlocks, which means we’re space wizards.

You know what, this seems like a perfect time to do a reenactment of the Old Spice “Look at your man” skit.

Hello, Guardians.

My main character now, circa April 2020. Bit of a glow up!

Look at your Guardian.

The base power level is now 750. Back in my day, we had to grind all the way up from power level 10. UPHILL, BOTH WAYS.

Now back to me.

Now back at your Guardian.

Now back to me.

Sadly, they aren’t me. But if they keep grinding, and find some decent gear, they could, someday, have a power level like me! Look down.

Back up. Where are you?

The Moon in the Destiny 2 universe is unfortunately infested with an insectoid alien race called the Hive. Stopping to stare at the Earth and cry about how beautiful it is is likely to get you killed.

You’re on the Moon, with the Guardian your Guardian COULD be! What’s in your hand?

This is my Ghost, who raised me from the dead to be a Guardian and is my little robot companion who protects me and carries my gear and continues to resurrect me when I do dangerous stuff and get myself killed.

Back at me.

I have it. It’s the materials you need to upgrade your gear.

Upgrades are e x p e n s i v e.

Look again.

There are so many cute emotes in Destiny.

The materials are now pigeons. Aren’t they adorable?


Anything is possible when you work hard, Guardians.

I’m on a tiny sparrow.

(I spent like half an hour in game yesterday taking all these screenshots. Many thanks to Nan for their help with my shenanigans.)

We’re playing patty-cake here.

If you’re looking for another game to play during this quarantine and enjoy shooters, I recommend Destiny 2! The base game and first 2 expansions are free. If I finally break down and get a Switch and Animal Crossing, I’ll let you all know…MagAO-X’s own Lauren Schatz has recommended the game Astroneer though, so I might pick that up first.

Stay safe and healthy, my dear readers. Take some time for yourselves when you need it.

– Erin

Oh, I almost forgot – your song of the day! The “Escape” version of “Shell of What Was” from the Last Wish raid in Destiny 2. Great motivation music. Plays while you’re running a combination relay race/high stakes hot potato with the heart of a dragon.