Chapter 4: Being Gay

This is part four of my project, the Ingredients of Fear, where I peel back the onion and reveal everything that’s been beating me down and holding me back inside. Click here to learn more about The Ingredients of Fear.


In classic fairytales, the princess would meet the prince, and through overcoming evil or learning an important life lesson, they would live happily ever after. They’d never have to worry about filing taxes on time, dealing with severe droughts, or even the potential hidden danger of consuming genetically-modified soybeans.

My coming out process was supposed to be the story. In a conservative Chinese family, the protagonist realized the value of truth and self-worth, and risked everything to be himself. Fueled by cultural differences, there was a dramatic clash with his parents but through the power of love, everyone came together, saw past their differences, and learned a valuable life lesson. And like the end of every fairytale, having gone through everything I’m supposed to end up with this new found confidence and everything else in my life should fall neatly into place, including my very own happily ever after ending!

But as it turns out, coming out the closet was only the prologue to my story. TL;DR — I’m a friggin’ homo, now what? Turns out, being a gay man is a lot more than just being attracted to your own gender. If only.

Continue reading “Chapter 4: Being Gay”

Chapter 2: Failure

This is part two of my project Ingredients of Fear, where I would peel back the onion and reveal everything that’s been beating me down and holding me back inside. Click here to learn more about The Ingredients of Fear.


I’ve always loved a perfectly new notebook, ripped with the scent of freshly-cut pages. I especially love the way a new notebook always starts with a blank canvass, ready for someone to dive in and start writing in his or her new masterpiece at a moment’s notice.

I have a lot of these notebooks. Probably no less than a dozen, many of them still have their plastic wrappers around them. Yet the only task they’ve had so far was to sit on my work desk, collecting dust as time goes by.

It’s not that I don’t have anything to write, because I certainly have plenty to say. But when push comes to shove and when my pen is about hit the pages — I back out. I don’t want to ruin this perfectly new notebook with my subpar handwriting, ya know?

Continue reading “Chapter 2: Failure”

100w100d: Interstate 5

Day 92: I’ve driven on the I-5 more times than I can count since moving down to LA two years ago. The best part of this 6-hour drive to/from the Bay is the fact that I can catch up on my never-ending Podcast queue.

Just last night, I was listening to this five-part series on how a t-shirt is made. Sure, I might be driving a straight line down the otherwise dull highway in real life, but in my mind I was travelling around the world, completely captivated by the story of how this seemingly ordinary cotton t-shirt is anything but.

100w100d: Just Jokes

Day 90: Several of my friends have mentioned they like reading my status updates on Facebook/Twitter because of my self-deprecating humor, and that while amusing, the updates also tend to provide a tug to their heartstrings.

I’m not sure where my sense of humor came from. I’d never been inspired by any particular comedian growing up, though I suppose a big part is just how I see the world. There are two sides to any given situation, but sometimes it’s simply better to make fun of the ridiculousness of the situation rather than labeling it as good or bad.

Heartstrings, motherfuckers!

100w100d: My Teachers, My Heroes

haines_winson

Day 87: I have the utmost respect for teachers. Growing up, I was always that kid who hung out with teachers during recess and lunch. Sure, they taught me what their syllabuses indicated, but it had always been outside the classroom where they truly influenced, inspired, and shaped me into who I am today.

I’m fortunate to be in touch with so many teachers who have since become my friends (not to mention my mentors as I stumble through my adult life), as well as my friends who have since become teachers, inspiring roomfuls of hopefuls of their own.

Thank you, really.

Introducing 100w100d

Day 1: I’m great at starting things… but not so much with following through with them. Books, videogames, workout routines, everything. I get so caught up with things having to be perfect; this fear of failing turns my projects into exactly that — failure.

In my head there’s always this master plan, this big picture stuff that is never put to action because I’m too afraid of imperfections.

Maybe instead of focusing on one big post that’s never finished, what I need is to create 100 smaller ones. So that’s what this is. 100 words for 100 days.

Let’s see how this goes.

From planning to action: What do you want to do today?

Back in the ’90s when Microsoft first launched Windows 95, they also launched their first global ad campaign with the Where Do You Want To Go Today? slogan to help build awareness of the then-brand new “Start button” feature. The Start button was a breakthrough concept for Windows users back then, to be able to navigate all the games, programs, and settings from one single place, but so was the slogan. Where do you want to go today (and Microsoft can take you there)! It puts you, the user, in the driver’s seat and the slogan empowers you to explore all the possibilities, possible only with Windows 95.

Microsoft - Where do you want to go today?

I have a similar saying in terms of productivity: What do you want to do today? And no, it’s not about making sure you get active and go outside a play. (Michelle Obama is already pretty good with telling you that!)

Like Microsoft’s slogan, this saying not only places you in the driver’s seat to pursue your goals, but it also encourages you to take action today. I’ve mentioned it before when I was highlighting the Everest app on iOS, but the best plan to pursue your goal is to work backwards and break it down into smaller, concrete steps. Concrete steps you can take today. Continue reading “From planning to action: What do you want to do today?”

Sleeping Dogs Review from a Hong Konger Perspective

Sleeping Dogs by United FrontI’ve been borderline obsessed with playing Square Enix’s Sleeping Dogs. Set in Hong Kong, the main character Wei Shen (which is similar to the word for “Danger” in Mandarin) is an undercover cop who’s deeply seeded in the underbelly world of Hong Kong triads.

Sleeping Dogs is a great game all on its own, but I want to share my thoughts of the game as someone who’s born in Hong Kong and have spent nearly half of his life living there. As full disclosure, I happen to work at IGN, but I do not work in the editorial team. My opinions of this game are solely my own, and do not represent IGN by any means. You can read IGN’s official review of Sleeping Dogs here.

I was initially both curious and skeptical about playing the game. On one hand, I would love more than anything to finally see a game that will show the authentic side of Hong Kong, but having seen how Hollywood have treated my fair city in the past (e.g.: Art of War, Rush Hour), I was aware of the chance of that happening is miniscule at best.

Well color me surprised. As if it hit a different part of my brain, my arm hair stood the first time I heard Cantonese in the game’s opening sequence. I’ve played a game in Chinese before, but never in Cantonese, a dialect that is only spoken in Hong Kong (and various pockets around the world), and certainly not in a game of this scale. The fact that I’m playing an AAA title from a major game publisher with a Chinese character as the lead role is a groundbreaking feat by itself.

It’s apparent that United Front, the Canadian game developer for Sleeping Dogs, did their best in hopes of giving gamers the best experience of Hong Kong as possible. From the orange bus stop signs and the purple garbage cans on the street to seeing the blue-and-white noise-blockers on the Hong Kong highways, the environment of Hong Kong is extremely detailed and is well represented through their eyes.

And then there’s the driving. Oh the driving. I almost teared up the first time I was driving around North Point, a neighborhood adjacent to where I lived in Hong Kong. Sure, the actual geography of the Hong Kong Island may have changed, but the fact that I could drive down the windy, narrow road in SoHo and be able to walk past the old Police Station on Hollywood Road provided a nostalgic, if not cerebral, feeling no other game has given me before.

But of course the game isn’t perfect. The biggest challenge and the toughest enemy in the game is by far the camera. It doesn’t allow you to take full control and tends to move around at the exact time you need it to stay put.

The Chinese dialogues featured in the game is “accurate enough.” It’s accurate in the sense that they got most of the Cantonese correctly, though the non-native accent (especially Winston Chu’s character) can be distracting, similar to how the dialogues from Heavy Rain was for English speakers.

Some of the slangs used by the game are also quite outdated, sometimes by decades. It was a challenge for me to believe this game takes place in modern day when the slangs in the game had been extinct since the 80s. Just imagine playing a modern-day Grand Theft Auto but every now and then you’d overhear a passerby saying “Wazzzzzzzssssup?” or “Totally Radical!”

None of these things are deal breakers since most gamers who will play this game are not native Cantonese speakers. But the non-native accents and outdated slangs do prevent me from fully immerse in a world that United Front’s hope to provide to all gamers, including gamers like me.

To be fair, Cantonese is not an easy language to master, and I’m sure the slangs are very much alive (and are kept alive) by the Chinese families who emigrated from Hong Kong years ago. It’s also a dialect that tends to evolve at breakneck speed (my cousins in Hong Kong once made fun of me because I used a phrase that was from two years ago. By two years!)

All things considered, this game makes me yearn for the option to play this game in Cantonese exclusively. From someone who speaks the language natively, there lies this disconnect every time I’d have to “switch channels” in order to follow the conversation in both Cantonese and English. My bilingual mind is also constantly wondering why they’re speaking English to begin with if they’re capable of speaking Chinese. Are all triad members in Hong Kong ABCs?

Of course, I’m fully aware that having the entire game be playable in Cantonese doesn’t make business sense, since Cantonese is the minority language in China and there’s not a huge market for it (at least compared to Mandarin — China’s official dialect). But having this sampling taste makes me realize how lucky Italian and French gamers have been, to be able to enjoy games like Heavy Rain and Assassin’s Creed II in their native language for years.

All in all, I wasn’t expected to love this game, but Sleeping Dogs has became something so much more. It may not have the perfect usage of the Cantonese language, but it is nonetheless a very special, personal experience for me. I don’t know when there’ll be another game quite like this, but until then I’ll be zooming onto the Hong Kong highway from North Point, tuned into the Cantopop radio station, and wondering where the next exit will take me.

❤ wins


Winson Shuen works at IGN but is not an editor. All opinions expressed here are solely his own and do not represent his employer by any means. You can follow him on Twitter @vdot90.