Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ten RPGs That Matter... to Kaitlyn

I'm very excited to announce that my blog was published this weekend on the Frag Dolls website. I've wanted to be a Frag Doll for over 5 years, so this is a huge dream come true for me. If you want to read the whole thing (and you should!), go to the Frag Dolls site.

In the meantime, here's a sneak peak at the games I talk about in the blog:

Ultima-te Skeleton Pwnage!

A Slime draws near!How to train your... Dragon Tank?

Good thing I'm as handsome as I am evil.I need a chocobo!

Some goomba require you to take extraordinary measures.Giving a whole new meaning to hack-and-slash.

Finally! I can gang up on you with my real-life friends.
Putting a little light into the dark side.

Lost Odyssey is... perfect?

Monday, March 01, 2010

Back By Popular Demand

I know it's been a long while since I was blogging regularly. I guess I've been swamped with directing, work, and gaming—the usual. The yoozh? So... what have I been playing/reading/watching, you may ask?

There will be some juicy details in the next couple weeks as I get you caught up on my entertainment life these past several months. As a sneak preview, here's what's in store for your ravenous reading:

1. Eternal Sonata: I came back to this after a long respite and it was worth the wait. What a beautiful game... even with the strange Chopin infomercial slideshows interspersed in there.

2. Assassin's Creed 2: I ambushed this game on opening day and threw it eagerly into my 360. I think AC2 improves some of the flaws of the original, but it's somehow less magical now that we're experiencing it for the second time.

3. Dragon Age: Origins: This game distracted me from AC2. The plot and characters are not as stirring as Mass Effect, Eternal Sonata, or Lost Odyssey. But the gameplay is exciting enough to keep my interest.

4. New Super Mario Bros., Wii: We played it at work, we played it at home. It's everything you ever loved about the Mario series, plus some of the best cooperative playing dynamics I've seen in a videogame.

5. Mass Effect: We spent some time playing this game during our lunch breaks at work. There's something exciting about making all the important dialog choices as a group. Mob mentality at its best!

6. Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise: I made a brief return to Piñata Island and immediately remembered how addictive this game is. Curse you, 3am Romances!

7. Left 4 Dead 2: Like AC2, this game lost some of its magic in the sequel. We'd already rode the roller coaster of frantic zombie defense. Fortunately, there is a little bit of sparkle in here.

8. Beatles Rock Band: I am still astonished at how well Harmonix handled this game. They could have just phoned it in and threw some Beatles songs in a Rock Band game, but this is entirely different. Everything is handled with such care!

9. The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom: Some mutter that it's a beautifully designed rip-off of Braid. I think this game far outshines the self-important complacency of Braid. Charming, witty, clever... good job, Odd Gentlemen!

10. Doodle Jump: Is the iPhone/iPod a legit gaming platform? It is now! This is just one of many awesome games I've found that has put mobile gaming onto my radar. It's not just for dabblers anymore.

11. Boom Blox: Did you know that this game is still fun? Some games really stand the test of time. And it's not just the Ocarina of Times of the world.

1. The West Wing: The thing I love the most about this show is that it still feels relevant, still makes me laugh and cry, and still has about 4 or 5 seasons that I've never seen. It's like there's this gift that I know is out there for me and that I get to open later.

2. House: At least half of the episodes I watch of this show really make me think. It's another that I'm watching slowly on DVD. What a great distraction.

3. Guilty Pleasures: When I'm sitting at home and can't be distracted by videogames, I actually turn on my TV and work during the commercial breaks. I know... cable. It's crazy. But I get to fulfill my guilty pleasure of crime drama. Bones is my favorite, but there's also NCIS, CSI, and Numb3rs. Also filing under the category of guilty pleasures: The Amazing Race.

4. Sports: Another great reason to have cable? I get to watch basketball, football, tennis, the Olympics, and (soon) baseball! What a day.

1. Robert Jordan: So I did, in fact, finish the most recent Wheel of Time book. (After re-reading the entire series for the first time.) Sanderson did a great job. I'm excited to devour another volume and sad that the series will soon come to an end.

2. Anathem: The latest by Neal Stephenson completely blew my mind. One of the most incredible epic literary journeys I've taken in a decade. From the London Guardian: "The only catch to reading a novel as imposingly magnificent as this is that for the next few months, everything else seems small and obvious by comparison."

1. I became a member at the Boston Museum of Science. Just in time to catch the wonderful Harry Potter exhibit. But also in time to see Running the Numbers, meet Cliff, and dance among the butterflies.

2. In the most recent news, I went to see Carbon Leaf in Portland, ME. They put on a great show (as always) and left me with all sorts of ruminations about the nature of performance, who gets it right, and why.

3. Directing. Yup. I'm doing it. This past fall I wrapped up a joyous production of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Now I'm moving on to Annie, Get Your Gun. And helping out with a high school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Oh the adventures of theatre.

Also, two of my close friends from college just had babies. I'm not even married or engaged. But I think I'll spare you the usual despair about singledom, growing old, and... (gasp) RUNNING OUT OF TIME.

I think life is a pretty awe-inspiring thing these days. With plenty to keep me busy, to revel in, to enjoy... Why rush away from this into something that will take time away from playing videogames?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Big Dreams!

Five years ago, someone sent me an article about this amazing group of female gamers, called the Frag Dolls. I've been following them ever since, as they spread the word about women in gaming, altered the world's perception of what girl gamers can be like, and fostered a safe and comfortable community for female gamers of every ilk. They are sponsored by Ubisoft, so they promote Ubisoft games, participate in Ubisoft community endeavors, and compete in a number of popular FPS titles. In short, they are awesome.

Three years ago, I applied to be a Frag Doll. I got to be interviewed by Morgan (aka Rhoulette), but didn't ultimately make the final casting round.

Well, tomorrow (my birthday!) I'm applying again. It's been my dream to be a Frag Doll for so many years that it seems silly to not apply.

For your fun and amusement, I'm posting my "Gaming History," which will be one piece of the application I submit. Wish me luck!


My gaming history.

If you want to find me, don’t look for me to be sitting on a couch, in front of a television, controller in hand. Instead, you can find me throwing touchdowns or cruising behind the wheel of an exotic sports car. I have been known to spend my lunchbreaks doing nosegrinds and boardslides in my custom-built skate park. I am a conspiracy theory photojournalist, I am an explorer of archaeological ruins, I stack irregular, two-dimensional solids with efficiency. Occasionally, I need food badly.

I grew up swinging across tar pits on jungle vines and dodging the occasional barrel tossed by an oversized simian. When I was just 14, I out-skated the skinny guy and drove the game-winning slapshot through the fat guy, across the ice, and into the opponent’s goal. I can do hurdles while running in place.

Nineteen years ago, I discovered the cure for an obscure red, blue, and yellow virus by stacking the appropriate medicinal pills. Six years ago, I liberated the galaxy from the dominion of the evil Darth Malak. And three years ago, I eliminated the terrorist threat inside several famous casinos.

If you want to know about my gaming history, ask my mom where I was when Samus first removed her helmet or when Sarge hugged the Elite. Ask my friends how many hours I’ve spent playing matchmaker to a host of paper animals full of candy.

And if you’re ever venturing into the unknown, consider taking me along. I never leave home without night vision goggles and sticky cameras. I hurl turtle shells at passing cars with deadly accuracy, I can fend off a grue with only a lantern, and I can sing lead vocals on “Enter Sandman.” I am an expert with the crowbar, a veteran with the chainsaw, and an artiste with the undead-slaying whip. When aiding injured comrades, I am occasionally invincible.

I have single-handedly uncovered a bioengineering conspiracy involving mutants and zombies, prevented the bungling DataDyne corporation from giving an evil alien race the power to destroy humankind, and rescued Mr. Pokeylope, the turtle. I have saved the princess, though she was in another castle.

When I was in Jerusalem, I instinctively wanted to climb the highest building. When I saw War of the Worlds, I expected the invaders to line up in neat rows. And I always wondered why the Scooby gang never took the magical pellet that would let them eat ghosts.

But if you need some practical advice, then look no further. I can tell you that the secret to a strong body is plenty of pizza. I know that a golden gun means a one-hit kill, jousting is properly done with ostriches, and folding fans are terrible weapons. Mist is spelled with a y and combat is spelled with a k. And when the dog laughs at you, I think it’s okay to shoot him.

To tell you the truth, I rarely have time to play video games. In the evenings, I’m an art student with the power to bend space and time. By day, I deliver newspapers with uncanny accuracy. In short, my life has been a tale of souls and swords from the kingdom of Daventry to the empire of Sun Hai.

If you want to find me, I can tell you where to look: flying my Arwing through the skies of Corneria, casting my spells in the plains of Cyrodiil, or playing my music in the fields of Hyrule. I have saved the Empress of Time, I have avenged the flower girl, I have beaten Mike Tyson.

But I have never been a Frag Doll.

Friday, March 13, 2009

RE5 and Gaming Anticipation

If you follow my gaming life at all, you'll know that I've been stuck in a Team Fortress addiction for... eons. L4D is a nice nightcap every once in a while, but it's pretty much TF2 that has me glued to the controller day in and day out.

Maybe it's time to change all that...! Last night, they started selling Resident Evil 5. It's the latest entry in a series that has always been top quality entertainment—and sometimes much more than that. So I'm eagerly anticipating all that is scary and exciting (and delicious) in RE5. I know many of my friends are already playing it, but I didn't see the point in picking it up at the midnight release. (I do have to earn a living during the day, after all.) So, after work, I'll scurry down to my local game store and drop $60 on the release.

There's something inherently nostalgic in rushing to a game store, clutching your hard-earned money on the day a new game comes out. Something about it makes me a little giddy and, I think, makes me enjoy the game a bit more. It's a feeling not unlike when your mom would give you a single dollar bill and you would scramble off to the arcade. I would always run straight to the change machine, get my trusty quarters, then stand in awe—or maybe nervous anticipation—wondering what to play. What game pried those four sweaty quarters out of your hand? For me it was Cruisin' USA. I know, it doesn't exactly give me gaming street cred. But I just loved that game.

There's something else special about RE5 for me. I get to play it with someone I love. The social aspect of gaming has always been the one thing bringing me back. And playing a cooperative survival horror game with my best friend is the happiest thing a girl can ask for.

Friday, December 12, 2008

TF2 Ladies

In honor of my re-addiction to TF2, I'm posting a collection of great female renditions of TF2 characters...

This might be my favorite all-team pose. True to the spirit:

Cutest cartoon ladies:

Badass chicks:

A decent sexy team. Like the Scout, Sniper, Engineer, Medic, and Soldier:

Anime TF2 Girls! The Pyro is awesome! Cute Heavy too:

A great Engineer:

My favorite Demogirls:

Three cute Scouts:

Two great Heavy ladies:
The only two spies I like. And they're great!


Too good to leave it out:

Monday, September 15, 2008

In Utter Shock

Rarely does something occur that leaves me so confounded that I simply must write about it. Even more rarely does something of that magnitude occur that does not involve video games.

When I found out today that Merrill Lynch had been bought by Bank of America, I was so astonished that I was sure I must be misunderstanding what had happened. When I became certain that this financial stalwart had actually been purchased, I was just speechless. I just kept repeating "what?"

It's not the financial import of this event that has struck some vital chord. I do acknowledge that Merrill Lynch has become synonymous with wealth management and that this is an important sale. But...

The real crux here is that the symbol of Merrill Lynch has been shaken, if not dismantled. Since before I was born, my dad has worked for Merrill Lynch. When I was growing up in Texas, my brother and I would go into the office with my dad on weekends and play among the filing cabinets and dry erase boards—this was really cool technology to us at the time. I remember the plastic plants and the enormous lunch room. It seemed cavernous at the time and we would run among the tables and chairs and build puzzles and play Othello. For my entire life, my dad has brought home t-shirts and dufflebags and mugs adorned with the iconic Merrill Lynch bull. For summers in high school, I even worked at Merrill Lynch: in the mailroom getting to know all the names of the most important people and what all the acronyms meant for all the Merrill Lynch departments.

And for my entire life, I have had my savings account, checking account, and stocks with Merrill Lynch. Well past the time when it was convenient, I grasped onto my Merrill Lynch account and my blind devotion to Merrill Lynch services. I say blind, but I think there's a reason they're the best at what they do and had lasted (until now) for 94 years. I've never encountered better customer service with any bank, investment firm, or company of any kind. When I moved to Boston, I decided I needed something a little more logical for day-to-day banking. A bank with more convenient, local services and easy, friendly online banking. Ironically, I opened a small Bank of America account. While I use this to automatically pay my rent and put money in a small savings account every month, it doesn't hold most of my money. I still have my Merrill Lynch account. My FA manages my pitifully small investments, I have an equally pitiful IRA, and I faithfully mail my checks in whenever direct deposit isn't an option. I love the little bull imprinted in the corner of my ancient faux leather checkbook.

So when I say that I was astonished, I'm not sure it's possible for you to grasp my full meaning. To me, it's as though I found out that Pepsi bought out Coca Cola or that Microsoft bought out Nintendo.

And I'm still reeling from the gravity of it all.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Tuesday Tribute: Graeme Base

Beyond the ken of mortal men, beneath the wind and waves,
There lies a land of shells and sand, of chasms, crags and caves,
Where coral castles climb and soar, where swaying seaweeds grow,
And all around without a sound the ocean currents flow...