Posts tagged gaming

hotel

Starbreeze / Overkill Pre-E3 & The Walking Dead Game Launch Event

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With E3 2015 wrapping up a couple days ago, we’ve been seeing some pretty cool announcements coming from the electronic world over the past week. Some fantastic-looking new games, new systems, new gadgets. Nerdy fun to be had by all.

Just before E3, however, I got to have a bit of that fun for myself. Recently, Overkill Software had an event they called the Hype Train for their game, PayDay 2. This happened back in February/March, but you can still see some of the info from it here. This event effectively solidified Overkill/Starbreeze as my favorite gaming company around today. While studios like Electronic Arts are nickel-and-diming us gamers with in-game purchases, and a studio like Gearbox is suspected of plagiarism, it’s getting hard to tell who the good guys are in gaming. Overkill made that a little easier with the Hype Train. Here are the basics: Overkill set a list of goals to reach with corresponding PayDay-themed prizes. These goals were met by fans purchasing the game, DLCs, characters packs, etc. Anything at all PayDay-related that was purchased from their official outlets in this time period went toward the Hype Train. As prizes were unlocked, anyone with the game got access to these prizes. So even if you just had the base game, but didn’t or couldn’t buy anything during that time, you still got the Car Shop Heist and the Hoxton Revenge Heist. The way they went about this event was very cool in that it was obviously for the fans. Instead of just being out to make a quick buck, they promoted the game and the additions in a way that engaged the community, and rewarded fans. I’ve seen a few cynical groups of fans criticize the gaming company for involving money in the event at all, but that criticism seems extremely short-sighted. Of course a business has to make money in order to continue releasing their brand of awesome. At least in Overkill’s case, they did it in a way that really gave back to their fans and their community – and not just the factions that could pay for it at that particular time.

One of the prizes released during the Hype Train affected me, directly. There was a possibility that a prize would be unlocked where Overkill would fly 10 heisters to L.A. for a Pre-E3 event. I’ll be honest – the details were incredibly vague at the time, and whether it would even happen or not had not even been announced yet by the time you had to enter to win this prize. However, to enter, all you had to do was send Overkill a tweet during a certain time frame. What does one tweet cost you?  Nothing. Nothing at all. I sent my tweet back in March, went about my life, and actually forgot about it.

That is until early June when I started getting messages from Overkill on twitter.  When they first started trying to get my attention, they hadn’t yet told me I won the trip. I was mid-sentence in a conversation with my husband, and checked a notification on my phone. I trailed off in conversation, and my eyes got very big. My husband asked what was going on, and I responded with “SOMETHING IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW.” A few minutes later, Almir Listo, producer of the PayDay franchise, let me know I had won, and asked if I’d be available to fly to L.A. in exactly one week. Naturally, I freaked out, put everything in life on hold, and went. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  I’ve been a big fan of the PayDay games for a while at this point, but even bigger, I have grown to respect and love Overkill as a gaming company. PC Gaming is one of my biggest hobbies in life these days, and these hotelguys were doing it right. I absolutely jumped at the chance to fly across the country and meet with them in person.

The following week was a blur of sustained excitement, and early on the Saturday morning following the announcement, I was on a plane. I arrived at the same time as several other heisters, and we instantly bonded. Everyone invited along, and everyone who met up with us from the studio were amazingly friendly and welcoming. We were all extremely excited.

We got to the hotel Overkill had us staying in – the Grafton on Sunset BLVD in West Hollywood.  A beautiful hotel that was rock-themed, newly renovated, and in a great location.  I walked with some of the other heisters to a nearby burger place, and had lunch. Afterwards, we were all in need of a nap – each of us had been traveling since early that morning, and were in for a long night ahead of us.

A few hours later, we were picked up in a limo, and given a tour of Hollywood before being dropped off at the event.

The party was at the Hollywood House of Blues. Technically, it was only half a block from our hotel, and we easily could have walked, but the limo ride was fun either way. There were 3 floors of drinks, food, music, fun people, games, and announcements. It was crazy. Immediately upon walking into the gate, I met Damion Poitier – the voice of Chains in the PayDay games. He was incredibly nice, and all for hanging with the fans. He also made the absolute best faces in all the pictures that were taken of him that night (see his twitter feed for more of these amazing faces).damion  We also chatted with Eric Etebari, the voice of Dallas, throughout the night as well. In fact, every time we turned around, there was either Damion or Eric. I’m pretty sure they wanted to be BFFs, but were too shy to say so (right? RIGHT??).

We were also greeted by shambling zombies everywhere. Since this event was the launch party for Overkill’s The Walking Dead, they made a point to really put you in the mindset of hanging with zombies. Now – I organized a large-scale Zombie Walk for years. We had some incredible zombies over the years, but none with the constitution of these Walkers. Never once did I see a single zombie break character, even for a second. One in particular made a point to sneak up behind various party people, waiting just inches from the back of their heads to notice him. The reactions were priceless.

zombie Next were the announcements.

Overkill’s The Walking Dead was obviously a huge one. There are a couple other TWD games out right now, but they’re both completely story-driven, not shooters. Since the Left 4 Dead franchise, I think we here in the gaming community have been itching for an awesome, new zombie-themed shooter. We saw a bit of the gameplay and graphics from the new TWD game, and it’s looking pretty badass. And it looks like there will also be a little crossover from the PayDay franchise. The game doesn’t come out until next year, but I’m already psyched for it. You can watch the trailer for it, and find out more details here.

Next was the announcement of PayDay 2 coming to consoles. In fact, they had several machines set up with PayDay 2 loaded up to try it out. I’m not a big console person, myself, so I asked some of the other folks in my group how it held up in terms of a console shooter. Since they were all fans of the PayDay franchise on PC previously, they were able to definitely say that the translation from PC to console was very well done. The controls are intuitive, and the game played just as well on console. So if you’ve been wanting to play PayDay 2, but just aren’t into keyboards and mice, look forward to that release.

 

walkingdead

Lastly, and possibly most importantly, we were surprised with the announcement of the StarVR system. This entire thing looks amazing. The StarVR system is Starbreeze’s answer to the recent Virtual Reality craze. It’s a headset that’s lighter than the Oculus, and instead of smaller circles to look through that are straight-ahead, the StarVR system has a wide screen that allows for peripheral vision. This may sound like a small difference in systems, but in reality, the way the StarVR is laid out allows you to really, and truly immerse yourself into the game much more than most other VR systems that are announced right now. Granted – the StarVR is still in process, as are many other virtual reality systems, and some changes and competitors may still arise. At the moment, though, it looks like Starbreeze is on the right path with this one. Here’s a Hands-on view from the E3 conference:

Overall, there were a ton of unexpected, and fantastic surprises at the Pre-E3 party. Friendships were forged, and a ridiculous amount of fun was had.

The next day, we had dinner plans with the Overkill gang, but were free until then. Some heisters explored Hollywood, some hung out at the hotel and gamed a bit. I had some friends in town, so I joined them for a killer waffle brunch. Then we were all given an address to meet up at.

The address led us to the historic Chinese Theater in Hollywood, and the shopping center behind it. It was a little bit confusing to know where we were going at first, but once we saw that there was a Dave & Busters, we all thought ‘of course they’re going to take a bunch of video game nerds to the gaming place.’ We were right – and thrilled to be.

starbreezeWe were joined by Almir Listo, Simon Viklund (who composes all of the music in the PayDay games), and Karl Lakner (art director for Overkill). A relaxing dinner with great conversation was followed by a lot of selfies and group pics. We all got the chance to really talk with these accomplished fellows one-on-one, and ask any burning, heisting questions we may have had.

However, at the end of it, not all of us were ready to call it quits. Almir had to leave us, but Simon and Karl were dead-set on seeing a movie. We walked over the Chinese Theater, and all grabbed tickets for Jurassic World, but still had a couple hours to kill, so we went back to D&B’s to play some games. I got to shoot ridiculous amounts of aliens and terminator-bots with Karl, and then even more dinosaurs with Simon. A few of the other Overkill guys joined us for the movie – and were more than happy to talk about the weapons, explosions, and landscapes they designed for the PayDay games, and what went into them. The gentlemen we got to meet from Overkill were easily some of the nicest, friendliest, and most welcoming people I’ve met in a long time.

The next morning, I flew the 7 hours back to my usual side of the country.

It was a crazy, jam-packed, exciting, whirlwind of a weekend that I never expected to happen.

 

I cannot thank the guys at Overkill, and especially Almir and Karl (who were both incredibly friendly and accommodating) enough for the experience. You guys made 10 little heisters’ lives incredibly bright for that weekend.

RockBand4-Promo-Illustration

Rock Band 4?? Yes, Please!

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In case you haven’t heard the news, Harmonix announced today (at about 5:30 in the morning..) that they’re ready for their encore! The Rock Bands games 1-3 were once a staple in friendly-get-together fun for gamers for years. It seemed the project was all but abandoned after the market was a little too saturated with at-home music games a few years ago, but we’re very happy to hear it’s been revived!

RockBand4-Promo-Illustration

 

The new game will be released for current gen consoles (PS4 and Xbox ONE), however the good news is that if you have an older gen console of the same type, your DLCs and previous game codes should work for the new game and new console. This will not work for changing platforms (ie: going from PS3 to the Xbox ONE), but that’s pretty understandable. Harmonix is also working with Mad Catz to get older instruments working with the new systems/game, but no promises have been made there yet.

They will be introducing new instruments for the new consoles. Details have not been formally announced yet, with the exception of a Penny Arcade-themed guitar. This special guitar will be available for pre-order if you visit the Harmonix booth at PAX East this weekend in person, and reserve it there. Info on the PAX East pre-order as well as general info on the RB4 announcement is available here:

http://www.harmonixmusic.com/blog/rock-band-4-announced/

 

If you’re not able to make it out to PAX East, but still want to be able to pre-order the game or get updates on release details, they have a handy sign up here (note: pricing has not been announced):

http://www.harmonixmusic.com/games/rock-band/preorder-notifications

 

And lastly, they have released a FAQ on the new game here:

http://forums.harmonixmusic.com/discussion/257486/were-ready-for-our-encore-rock-band-4-coming-2015

 

I don’t know about you guys, but I hope this means that Rock Band competitions will start popping up again. I will OWN that with Somebody to Love.  And I think this accurate describes our excitement over the announcement:

99gamers

The Future of Gaming?

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How many games do you have sitting your shelf that you’ve already played through, and barely even look at anymore? And how many games are there that you’ve been wanting to play – maybe even for years – but you just can’t justify the purchase of them, perhaps even because of the collection you already have?  Of course you can trade in old games to corporate companies like GameStop or Best Buy, and even purchase used games. But let’s be honest.. that’s kind of a rip. They don’t give you much for your trade-in, and turn around and sell it as used for more than twice as much.

99gamersThis is exactly the conundrum a group of gamers was discussing over at Reddit a while back, and developed it into a solution.  Now, you can head over to 99gamers.com to trade your games one-on-one with other gamers, and receive and pay amounts much closer to the game’s value. Personally, I love this idea. It’s a process that’s been much-needed in the gaming community for quite a while, and it’s finally here.  To hear more about the service, we recently contacted Brandon Kruzeniski of 99Gamers for some questions.

NiB- What is 99gamers.com?
BK- 99Gamers is a video game trading community. Members use 99Gamers as a platform to trade directly with each other. Members add their unwanted video games and sell them to other members for a virtual currency called ‘coins’ which are valued at $1 per coin. Members can then spend their earned coins on other games.

NiB- What is your role on the site?

BK- I’m one of the founders of 99Gamers with the other being my brother Jon.

NiB- I hear you got your start from a post on Reddit. Can you elaborate on that?

BK- I originally got the idea for a video game trading site when I came across a post on Reddit about how someone would shoot darts at their game collection to choose which game they would play next. I realized that this random person had a bunch of games that I would love to play but just haven’t had the chance to. I turned to my game collection and thought that this person would probably feel the same way about my game collection. 

I was also tired of getting ripped off by GameStop, knowing they would turn around and sell the game for double the next day. I knew other video game trading sites existed, but none of them were what I wanted them to be. 

I wasn’t sure how many people would be interested in something like this so I decided to post it to Reddit and see what the response was like. I was thinking maybe a few hundred people would see it and I’d be able to get some feedback on the idea, but within a few hours the post was at the top of r/gaming and even hit the front page for a while, resulting in thousands of signups. I then knew enough people felt the same way I did so I went forward with the site.

NiB- How can it help the gaming community? 

BK- First, we save people a lot of money. Trading on the site is completely free so you’ll really start to see the savings add up quickly. 99Gamers is built by gamers for gamers with the sole intention of getting more value out of your game collection. We are a platform for gamers to trade directly with each other so the middle man can be cut out. Many people feel like they get ripped off when using trade-in services so 99Gamers can be used as that alternative.

I’ve also found that because you have access to such a large game library you are more inclined to try out games you may have not given a chance before. You are then more likely to purchase the sequel when it comes out. For example I hadn’t played the Dead Space series yet but after getting the games through 99Gamers I ended up buying Dead Space 3 new.

NiB- Have you gotten any backlash from corporate gaming companies?

BK- We haven’t received any backlash at all. We’re still fairly new and have been mostly underground so it’s doubtful they know about us yet.

NiB- From what I understand, you just came out of beta. How has membership grown since then?

BK- We came out of beta about two months ago and we’re starting to pick up momentum. Just last week, it was nine months since I originally posted about the idea on Reddit so I did a follow up post about our progress so far. We ended up hitting the front page again which resulted in us more than doubling our user base within 24 hours. We went from having 2,300 members to now almost 6,000. 

NiB- Has this project been received well by the gaming community?

BK- Yes, I believe it has been received quite well. Both Reddit posts reached the front page which shows many people share the same feelings of not wanting to get ripped off by trade-in offers. When members trade directly with one another games can be offered at a lower value and people tend to appreciate knowing that their games will be going to a good home.

NiB- Are there any particular games trending on the site right now? 

BK- Assassin’s Creed III and Far Cry 3 have been popular over the last few months. Now that the new Tomb Raider is out it usually gets picked up quite quickly. Pokémon games are of course always popular as everyone loves playing them. I’ve found people will often buy every game in a series together. The Mass Effect series has been very popular in the past. 

NiB- Are there any games you’re hoping get put up so you can nab them?

BK- I actually had a list of games I had wanted when I came up with the idea and wouldn’t allow myself to get them through anywhere but 99Gamers. A few I’ve gotten are Kingdom Hearts, Max Payne 3, Pokémon SoulSilver and Assassin’s Creed II.  One that I hadn’t yet received was Just Cause 2 but after the Reddit post last week I managed to grab it and it’s now on its way!

NiB- Any future project plans for the site?

BK- Up next we’ll be adding PC games and digital codes. The search, browse and profile pages are getting a much improved new look. These will help members discover new and interesting games faster.
Down the road we plan on adding consoles and gaming accessories into the mix as well as some more exciting features. Our main goal continues to make buying and selling games as easy as possible so our members can spend more time playing games.

 

You can visit 99Gamers here: http://99gamers.com – Hopefully you’ll find something you’ve been wanting. Let us know how it goes!

famouscapsules

Minimalistic Art for the Geeky Eye

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These clever little capsules from Greg Guillemin will certainly keep us geek-folk amused for probably a little too long:

 

 

And while I’d probably make flash cards out of them, they seem to be available in some finely printed forms.

309260_10150289314126447_94947801446_8253915_1233268263_n

Ground Kontrol Arcade LADIES NIGHT!

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Ground Kontrol is proud to present the unveiling of its inaugural ladies’ night event, “Ms. GK”.

This night of lady-centric gaming and free-play night, will also have some other fun and exciting things to do!

**With an all-female deejay set (deejay ReighLee, DJ Ava Delay, DJ Pippa Possible) and a female-centric staff, we aim to bring a warm and welcoming ambience to Portland’s plentiful gamer crowd who may or may not know the awesome safe and sweetass space we provide every night, including this special night.

**Casual tournaments of both Burgertime and Bride of Pinbot and corresponding prizes from our sponsors SheBop, Things From Another World, and perhaps more!

**For those of you who are crafty, there will be a table set up for a free geeky craft exchange: bring a craft, take a craft!

FREE-PLAY!
CASUAL TOURNEYS!
DRINK SPECIALS!
CRAFT SWAP!
DANCEABLE MUSIC!
PRIZES!
WIN AT LIFE!

COST: $3 for ladies, $8 for gents.

Come enjoy this cozy event, we’re pulling out all the stops.

Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade
511 NW Couch St.
Portland, OR 97209
Open Noon-2:30AM Daily
All Ages Admitted Until 5PM
21+ & I.D. Required After 5PM

Reality is Broken: How Games Can Shape The Future

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How many hours a week do you spend playing games?  Any games. From simple little time-wasters on your mobile phone, to completely engrossing RPGs involving putting together missions and raids with fellow gamers.  What if those hours you spend building and changing virtual worlds could actually be applied to the problems in our every day life? This is the basis for Jane McGonigal’s Reality is Broken.

As a long-time game developer, McGonigal has had the chance to examine, first hand, how gaming can become a very huge part of a person’s every day life. In Reality is Broken, we explore how this is not only a growing trend, but how it can be a very positive one.  While non-gamers have always been critical of gaming, there are very clear perks to the lessons gaming teaches us.  A particularly interesting fact McGonigal expresses through her research is what she calls ‘the four super powers’ that a person develops through gaming regularly.  These include: urgent optimism, social fabric, blissful productivity, and epic meaning. This pretty much means that by being a regular gamer, a person can be their own highly-motivational pep rally, make connections, build trust, and learn team-building skills by working with other gamers, be legitimately happy about putting forth all of this effort, and feel like they’re making a difference. All of these skills are things you just don’t get in the real world very often these days.  You don’t get to level up by taking the trash out or recycling.  There are no one-up mushrooms for helping old ladies cross the street.  Beating your head on a brick definitely does not produce a ride-able miniature dinosaur.  …..okay, so maybe nothing can be done about that last one.

The issue here is that by keeping all of these great developments restricted to virtual worlds, we’re taking all of this potential out of the real world, and keeping it smothered in lands of orcs and fairies. Meanwhile, we have issues that need to be addressed in reality.  McGonigal’s suggestion to counter this is to create games that address real-world problems and offer legitimate solutions. Through this, we can not only train future generations to look at real solutions critically and creatively, but actually generate those answers quicker and more efficiently.  A few games like this already exist.  Consider Chore Wars, which is apparently a game similar to World of Warcraft, but played in real life, using daily, household chores as missions and achievements.  Additionally, McGonigal, herself, has created three – yes, three! – games in which you address large, real-world problems in a fun, gaming setting.  Games like World Without Oil, Superstruct, and Evoke are highly creative ways to brainstorm realistic solutions. Sort of makes you wonder if Left for Dead was actually a way to generate workable zombie plans, huh? To make this idea work, games would need to evolve in the right direction, and we’d all have to step it up on the amount of hours played.

Reality is Broken presents these views in a very thorough and thought-provoking manner. McGonigal offers well-researched scientific fact to back up all of the ideas expressed, and lays out a goal for the future that comes across as realistic and reachable.  While the beginning of Reality is Broken is a little long-winded going over qualifications for making these statements, this does establish a trust between the author and reader. McGonigal offers a radical idea backed up by well-documented facts, and a realistic path to get there.

I would highly recommend taking a look at Jane McGonigal’s bio and qualifications, her speech on this topic presented through , and, of course, the actual book, Reality is Broken, now available on .

What do you guys think? Can games change the world?

The Nerdy Casual Gamer

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Ok, let me preface by saying that I am in no way a “gamer”, but I do like to play video games. I have two of the three major systems in my house. Well, I have 3, but I only have a Playstation 2. We have both the Wii and the Xbox 360. And handheld-wise, we have Sony’s Playstation Portable and Nintendo’s DS. When I say we, I mean – my husband and I. The amount of money which has been spent on video games in our household could probably cure the national debt. Well, maybe not so much – but you get what I’m saying. We have a lot of games for all the systems. Our fearless leader, Miss Woots, had this idea about reviewing all the systems and asked for me to take a stab at it. So here we go. Again, this is from a standpoint of a casual gamer. Not a Fragg Doll.







Let’s begin our tale with the Playstation 2. Now, this system is a juggernaut. Sony has yet to stop releasing games for this system. Why? Because it had sold more units than any of the new generation systems (source). I still use my PS2. However, the only reason I use it is to play my favorite video game series (Kingdom Hearts). We have a few games for the console and we’ve owned it since March of 2003. We have yet had to replace it (*knock on wood*). Why on earth would Sony stop making the PS2 when they’re still selling consoles?


However, should the Kingdom Hearts series make its way to PS3, then this will be the title that will be a system buyer in our household. It’s unfortunate but true. There are many fun games on the PS3, but to me – it’s more about the Blu-Ray player than it is about the graphics. If you want a good Blu-Ray player, and wouldn’t mind playing some video games, then the PS3 is your ticket. The Playstation Network (comparable to Xbox Live’s network) is ok. You can download games, as well as stream movies from Netflix. However, when it comes to networks, I actually prefer Xbox to Sony. I know that I don’t own a PS3, but you can use the Playstation Network with the Playstation Portable (PSP). I would say that the Xbox interface is more user friendly.



Which brings us to the Xbox. The Xbox 360 is a great console. I love having one. I don’t play a lot of games, but the games that I do play, I have a ton of fun. Being able to talk with your friends via “party”, or just sending voice and/or text messages via the console is great. There are many games on that system that are meant for a casual gamer – such as, Castle Crashers and Peggle. I have spent many a night playing those two games with my friends. What’s great about Castle Crashers is that it is 4 person co-op game – you can play with up to 4 friends at the same time. This is one of the main reasons I love our Xbox. Xbox also has made it extremely easy to intergrate your “social network” through the console. When you have a Gold account (an Xbox Live account, essentially), you can access both Twitter and Facebook. You can tweet from you console, as well as update your FB status. For someone as directly connected to the social media network, I loved this integration. M$ gets points from me for this feature. Plus, with the Gold account, you can download trials for games that you may or may not want to play. It’s like a test drive for a car, but for video games. I’m sure we’ve all bought some pretty terrible games in our past. How great is that option? I mean, ‘Family Feud’ sounds fun and all, but is it really? Let’s download it and find out!

I’d like to take a minute and direct our attention to the handheld devices before I move on to the third and final console. I really don’t know what I would do when I go to the doctor’s office if I didn’t have my handheld devices. My DS saved my sanity when my mother was in the CCU a few years ago – but that’s neither here nor there.


As stated previously, I have both a DS (actually, I have a DS, a DS Lite and a DS XL) and a Sony PSP. Both are two very different machines. We purchased the DS a few months after launch (we have both the Gameboy SP and Gameboy Micro). I had gone to e3 in 2003 and played Mario Kart and then realized what a fun system it really was. Eventually, we bought two DS’. And that was a blessing in disguise because a game called “Animal Crossing” came out. I wish I was joking when I tell you that I played that game every single day for 3 years. That’s devotion. Or insanity. Or a little bit of both. There are a TON of games for the DS – my personal favorites are Super Mario 64 DS and then Kingdom Hearts 358/2 (surprised? i didn’t think so). Another great game for the DS – if you like role playing games – is ‘The World Ends With You’. There are Zelda titles, as well as fun games like ‘Scribblenauts’ – where you write a word and then a picture is drawn of that word. So, you write ‘elephant’ and an elephant appears. It’s fantastic! The DS also has the capability of going online – being able to play with players, as long as you have a friend code, for certain games. My love for the DS is never ending. The battery life is about 9-10 hours, give or take. I love the DS so much that when they release the new 3DS, we will be purchasing it for our household. I’d like to say we’ll be able to buy 2 at launch, but at a $300 (as of right now), that’s a little steep. But for sure our household will have one.


Now on to Sony’s Playstation Portable. I really like this system a lot. The graphics are far superior to that of Nintendo’s, however – it is a UMD system. A UMD is like a very small DVD (non technical term). Because it is a disc-driven system, the noise that it produces while trying to load is beyond ridiculous. There was one game I was playing and all I could think was “I think I can, I think I can” as I heard the UMD spinning. One game that I played ‘Final Fantasy VII:Crisis Core’ had cinematic cut-scenes that looked as if I was watching a DVD. Amazing. However, the noise of the UMD spinning is a bit distracting and makes it rather difficult to play the console in bed when your spouse is trying to sleep. Graphics – A+. Functionality – C. But, you can access the web with the PSP. So, there is that. And, you can use the PS Network, downloading games to your memory card (the DS has an internal memory, the PSP requires a memory card). The battery life for the PSP is about 5-7 hours, depending on if the game you’re playing requires a lot of juice (cue The Little Engine That Could).



Now, this casual gamer’s favorite console – the Nintendo Wii. I love my Wii. We’ve had it since launch, and we only just had to replace the hard drive this past summer (that was heartbreaking – losing all of my saved games? I held a funeral for them). The Wii is a perfect machine if you like to entertain. There are plenty of games that you can pick up while having friends over, and anyone can play. We’ve had quite a few parties where we end up playing ‘WarioWare’, basically throwing the Wiimote around like ‘hot potato’. And of course there’s Wii Sports. Who doesn’t love playing 4 person Mii Bowling? I think Nintendo finally found a niche – market to the casual gamers, or people who really had never played video games before. That’s not to say that there aren’t games on the Wii that are meant specifically for gamers (i.e. Red Steel, Goldeneye, etc). However, Nintendo is known for their heavy hitters – ‘Legend of Zelda’, ‘Mario’ and ‘Metroid’. ‘Mario Galaxy’ – both 1 and 2 – are fantastic games. They are easy enough for anyone to pick them up, but as the stages progress, you then find yourself feeling more like a gamer due to the difficulty level raising up quite a bit. If Nintendo were to only make those three games, I’d still be a fangirl. I love those characters that much.

This concludes our casual gamers’ look at the “console wars”. If you have a lot of friends that play the Xbox, buy an Xbox. If you are a person who loves technology and loves to have everything be crystal-clear images, buy a PS3. If you just like to entertain and have friends over, buy the Wii. And hand-held wise, prettier graphics – PSP. Hours and hours of entertainment without worrying if the battery is going to die – DS. I hope that what I’ve told you about may help sway you to purchase that particular console you’ve been eyeing.


Games of Nonchalance – Real Life ARG

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This weekend was Indiecade weekend in Culver City, CA. In case you are relatively new to the independent games world (like myself), IndieCade is the International Festival of Independent Games. It is basically an entire weekend dedicated to showcasing independent producers and developers of interactive gaming. Unfortunately I was not able to spend much time at the festival as I found out about it late and already had a full weekend, but I fully intend to learn more about it for next year. I did get some super cool pictures and will post them on our tumblr site later on this evening.

Yes, you can see me taking the picture in the TV screen.

In the short amount of time that I was there, I did get the opportunity to meet Sara Thacher, the lead producer and manager of Nonchalance. I intend to have a longer discussion/interview with her in the future and will post that information here once I have it.

In the meantime, I want to introduce you to the basic mission of Nonchalance, which is “to provoke discovery through visceral experiences and pervasive play.” My mind immediately went to my experience from the Dexter ARG but this is actually a different ballgame altogether. Nonchalance is located solidly in San Francisco and their most well-known game (Games of Nonchalance) creates an alternate reality in the physical reality of the city of San Francisco.

That sounds weird, doesn’t it? Real Life Alternate Reality Game. However, that is pretty much they have created. I don’t want to say too much about the game because 1) I haven’t had the opportunity to go complete it yet since it is in SanFran and 2) I wouldn’t want to spoil the fun. Instead I will direct you to the trailer below and their website.


Games of Nonchalance from Nonchalance on Vimeo.

Why am I so excited by this new discover? Because I think ARGs and games like the one described above have the potential to be one of the next great forms of storytelling. We talk about interactive media and transmedia storytelling but the game that Nonchalance created engages participants in a manner that most video games cannot do (yet). As Sara stated, their focus is on creating a game that rewards on different levels of engagement. Similar to a video game but located in physically accessible space, these games are re-playable and can be stopped at any level without taking away the fun of what you have done already. You don’t have to finish the game, even though it sounds like it is pretty badass if you do. And if you do finish the game, you can come back and do it again and explore different elements than you did in the first go around. Again, I can’t say too much because I just got a brief overview of the game at IndieCade (where Games of Nonchalance won World and Story Award) but I have a fellow nerd friend that went and finished Day 1 (Michael Andersen from @argn) and he shared his flickr page. (He would have done more but his time in the city was short).

What are your thoughts on the future of games like this? Even if you haven’t played it, would you be interested in playing a real life ARG? One that has you walking around physical space, regardless of how familiar you think you already are with that area?

Zombies! Are they people too?

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When Halo: Reach came out, I thought that would be enough to keep my better half entertained for a while and that we would be trading in our old XBox towards one of my games(namely Fallout: New Vegas)but alas I was mistaken.

Dead Rising 2 came out this past Tuesday and yours truly got sent to go and pick it up after I was sick for most of the day. This is not a game I would ever enjoy playing I don’t think but I have to say, the weapons you can create…they are EPIC with a side of AWESOME. My new personal favorite is the homemade lightsaber, created using a flashlight and gems…which you bust jewelry store cases to get to. The ridiculous amounts of zombie carnage warm my heart and make me giggle like I used to while mooning over a boy band at age 10. The story leaves something to be desired but the crazy weapon combos(like the IED made out of a propane tank and nails, or the 2x4s attached to a lawnmower which makes a very efficient zombie grinder), and the really sweet costumes were enough to make me actually put my iPhone down and watch the game.

It’s not one I’ll play…but I could watch my husband kill zombies with a smile on my face for hours…:)

TSIMU: Wil Wheaton and Ali’s Excellent Adventure

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TSIMU = True Story I Made Up
This is a work of absolute fiction. But it totally happened in my brain.
Wil Wheaton** and I were walking down the street one day talking about how unfair a gelatinous cube could be when he stopped dead in his tracks and his mouth fell agape.
I glanced at him quizzically. He pointed and stuttered a few times before choking out “TARDIS*. replica. right. there.” He pointed to my right and I did a double take.
Sure enough, a large blue Police box perched on the corner, a silhouette of a head illuminated through the windows.
“Someone’s in it,” I said. “We should probably keep walking.”
The doors opened and a tall lanky man walked out with floppy black hair.
“Neil Gaiman?!?!” both Wil and I exclaimed.
“You two need to hurry,” he replied. “I’ve been waiting for you. You have a competition to win.”
“Wait, what?” I couldn’t help it. I was flabbergasted. One of my favorite authors stepped out of the blue effing box and told us he was waiting for us.
I looked to Wil to confirm that Neil had indeed gone crazy and felt my blood pressure drop. Wil was wiping tears from his face.
“It’s… real?” he uttered.
“Of course it’s real. Now get in.”
“Where are we headed?” Wil said as he grabbed my wrist and led me into the contraption.
“The eighties.” Neil stepped in behind me.
“Okay,” I said with a sigh. “Um… I know what the TARDIS looks like, but I don’t know what it does. Isn’t it just a prop?”
“How would I have gotten it here?” Neil questioned.
“So you’re telling me that the TARDIS that they use on Dr. Who…” Wil began.
“… is real.” Neil finished.
“How did you get this?” I asked, not sure if I wanted to know the answer.
“I’ve been writing for Dr. Who,” Neil replied.
“You nicked the TARDIS from set?” I slapped both of my hands to my face and took a deep breath. Telling myself to calm down wasn’t working. I was on the edge of a panic attack.
“Hence the need to leave quickly,” he said as he fiddled with something on the interior of the cabin. “I’m sure there are some security measures they have taken to locate the box once it appears.”
My mouth went dry as this demonic whirring noise starting sounding around me, followed by a sound I can only write down as “pkew pkew”.
“Calm down,” Wil said, patting at his messenger bag. “A good GM never leaves anywhere without his bag of holding. If it’s the eighties we’re headed to, we’re talking Basic Set D&D. 2nd or 3rd edition. We’ll be fine.”
“This isn’t a Dungeons and Dragons competition,” Neil said, a long smile on his face. He handed me a faded newspaper article and I glanced at the headline.
“But… but… but…” I couldn’t help but stutter.
“What is it?” Wil said as I handed him the article.
“I don’t know how to breakdance.”
This concludes Part 1 of Wil and Ali’s Excellent Adventure. Will Wil (heh. that’s fun to write) and Ali prevail? What is on that article? What is in Wil’s bag of holding? Does Ali have a panic attack? Can she master a Pencil Spin? WTF IS a Pencil Spin?
Set your RSS reader to stun, because you will be. Oh, you will be.
* TARDIS is a registered trademark of the BBC. I own no rights to it. Nor do Wil Wheaton and Neil Gaiman, but I’m sure they’d both like one.

** I also own no rights to Wil Wheaton or Neil Gaiman. I do, however, thoroughly enjoy each of their bodies of work. This is a true story that I made up… in this dimension at least.

*** I have also never seen Dr. Who. That’s pretty much the only truth in this little escapade. That, and Wil Wheaton has a bag of holding.
If Wil or Neil happens to catch wind of this, uh… hi guys. It was a writing challenge that I inadvertently gave to myself. If you want me to remove it, I’d happily do so.
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