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The 10 Commandments of 7 Days to Die

I’ve been playing a lot of 7 Days to Die over the past couple of months. (In fact, I wrote an early release review of it that you can check out here.) 

One of the things that has struck me about 7 Days to Die is how in-depth the game is when it comes to surviving in it, so much so that shortly after I started playing I started taking notes and writing down little epiphanies that I had as I played.

In an effort to help people who are new to this game, I would like to share some thoughts I’ve gleaned as I’ve been running for my life from a throng of zombies.

Thou Shalt Always Be Gathering

Nearly everything that you find in 7 Days to Die has a purpose. As such, you should always be gathering items from the world. Most commonly, I am always picking up small stones. They are literally everywhere you go in-game and are used in a few very important crafting recipes. The nice thing about picking up stones is that you can do it even when you are running for your life.

Even though I say you should always be gathering.... 

Thou Shalt Prioritize

Be mindful of what you need most at all times and try to gather that class of items. Also, be thinking of what your secondary and tertiary needs are as well, and so on.

Thou Shalt Leave a Couple of Inventory Slots Open at All Times

Nothing sucks more in a game than when you find a good piece of loot and you don't have the inventory space to pick it up. This is compounded in 7 Days to Die when you have a zombieor twelvebearing down on you intent on making you a member of their undead club.

Thou Shalt Be Organized

Speaking of a zombie horde bearing down on you: it's not a good time when you need a bandage or med kit and can't find it in your inventory or any of your storage chests or crates. Knowing exactly where your medical supplies or weapons are in your inventory or storage makes it more likely that you'll be able to get to them when you really need them in a bad situation.

Thou Shalt Carry Thine Own First Aid Supplies

In a game where you can break a leg, bleed out, or catch diseases, you really should be carrying first aid supplies for any situation, at all times. Seriously. At all times.

Thou Shalt Not Take the Obvious Way In

When breaking into a building, all entries are not created equal. Look for the way in that will take the least effort and make the least noise, lest ye bring down a furious zombie reprisal upon thine own head.

Thou Shalt Not Be Overly Noisy, Nor Smelly, Nor Showy

In 7 Days to Die every noise you make, every smelly piece of meat you carry, and every light source you use adds to a thing called the Heat Map. The Heat Map is what determines if and how many zombies might be drawn to you. So keep it down, stow meat in storage, and don't light unnecessary fires.

Always give yourself lots of room to maneuver.

Thou Shalt Have an Escape Plan

Whether you're in your base or scavenging in a building, always make note of another way out. It's not unheard of for a zombieor twelveto hear you rummaging or working and decide to come see what all the fuss is about.

A zombie or two may not be too big a deal in close quarters, but a half dozen or more will quickly lead to a very bad day.

Thou Shalt Not Engage in Fisticuffs with the Undead Unless Necessary

Every time you get in a scuffle with a zombie in 7 Days to Die, you take the chance of catching the disease, bleeding out, or just plain getting pummeled and munched to death. My advice is to avoid fighting when you can. Unless, of course, you feel like killing some zed.

Thou Shalt Choose the Ground of Thine Fisticuffs with Zombies Carefully

If you do decide you want to kill some zed, or it becomes unavoidable, make sure you choose where to fight. Make sure that you have any and all advantages wherever you choose to fight the undead. Most importantly make sure you have some open area so you can avoid being surrounded.

Well, those are my top bits of advice for gamers who are new to 7 Days to Die. This list is by no means even close to being complete. If you've played 7 Days to Die and have some thoughts I didn't include here, please help survival rates in this game go up by sharing in the comments below!


You Might Call Me a Casual Gamer, and That's OK

This is the game screen on my iPhone. 

And I spend the majority of my free time lately gaming here. 

For many people, that would make me not a gamer. Social and mobile gaming is considered by many not to be  "true" gaming, or not "hardcore" or "core," or somehow lacking in significance. 

Many people who play mobile games shy away from calling themselves a gamer, often because they do not want to identify with those hardcore stereotypes. 

Now I know many people who play PC or console games also play mobile games. Games for waiting in line at the bank. Games for the bus or train or other mode of passive transportation. 

That's not what I'm talking about here. 

I easily spend several hours a day between the games on my phone and a couple on my iPad. It fits lately with the other demands on my time in a way that PC gaming just doesn't. (In fact, I'm canceling my WoW subscription again because I just don't have the time to devote to an MMO.)

I was reading through my dissertation recently and came across a section where I was talking about going back to WoW while I was writing because I needed the "gamer cred" to effectively write about gaming. 

Now, I think "gamer cred" is a useless concept. I like my mobile games. I like that I can pick them up and start playing in an instant. I like that my time in those games is often limited by how much I can play at any given time. 

And I don't think that makes me any less of a gamer, core or casual. 

I suppose why I'm really writing this is because this is a shift in my own identity. I've always been a PC gamer and I suspect I will be a PC gamer again. 

How has your gaming identity changed in your gaming history? Have you moved in and out of different types of games? Platforms? Genres? Let me know in the comments if this kind of change is a common occurrence. 


Universal Studios: Thrills and Sexism

Entrance into Diagon Alley in Universal Studios


Thrill rides weren't on my list of consideration when marking my ♥ in the Universal Studios app but, it was a big part of our fun.  

The beauty and brilliance of Universal’s Harry Potter Wizarding World is a complete sensory experience.

  • With interactive wands sold in the park, you can actually do "magic" at given locations in Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley.
  • There is a dragon on top of Gringotts bank that breathes fire.
  • You can buy Butterbeer, Pumpkin Juice, chocolate frogs, and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans.
  • Everyone working in the world plays a role and enhances your experience.
  • You can walk though Diagon Alley, including Knockturn Alley, and all the shops you’re familiar with from the franchise.
  • Moaning Myrtle can be heard in the restrooms in Hogsmeade.

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Hogsmeade, Islands of Adventure

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

Just standing in line for this ride gives you the experience of walking the halls of the wizarding school of Hogwarts. Dumbledore, Harry, Ron, and Hermione, along with several portraits, tell a story of an adventure they need your help with. The ride is that adventure, where you fly your own broomstick through the Forbidden Forest, past dragons and Death Eaters. As exciting as the movie special effects made Harry’s flight as a Seeker, this ride put you one step closer, giving you the sensation of climbing to the heights of Hogwarts and diving under the bleachers of the Quidditch pitch, feeling the hot breath of a dragon or the chill of a Death Eater.

The Hogwarts Express

Hogwarts Express

The Hogwarts Express is not just a transport between the Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios parks. Leaving Hogsmeade, you experience train activity and outdoor scenery appropriate for leaving Hogwarts and arriving back in London. In line from Diagon Alley you can watch the visual effects of passengers entering platform 9 ¾ and on the train listen to students going back to school and see the scenery change from the muggle world to the wizarding one.  

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts

This ride experience is similar in mechanics to Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey but maybe a little more rollercoaster like. About an hour of the line was spent in the covered, snaking outdoor queue which was very dull. Once inside the bank, though, you get to see goblins at work. You will be taking a cart into the vault of Gringotts where you are attacked by Bellatrix Lestrange and Voldemort and chased by a dragon.


The Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley presented at Universal Studios is essentially genderless and asexual. Harry Potter is a mythos about the quality of character wrapped in a fantastic package of wonder for all ages, sexes, and cultures.

Universal’s Marvel franchise, on the other hand, is wall-to-wall male superheroes. In the Comic Book Shop, the titles appeared to be mostly special issue covers and there were only three female titles: Angela, Electra, and She-Hulk. It’s inexplicable why Captain Marvel was absent. She was on the cover of an Avengers title. But if you wanted a souvenir of a woman superhero, forget it. You can see from pictures of the Marvel themed area that the life-size models and store frontage is dominated by men.

Comic Book Shop, Islands of Adventure, Marvel Superheroes

Did this keep me from enjoying the park? No. I loved looking at everything and riding The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man (where we are rescued, BTW). But part of the immersion experience I got with Harry Potter was gone. As you can see from the picture of me and Spider-Man last week, I didn’t feel super but more like an observer.

What was more bothersome was the “Hop” themed live performance in front of a retro diner with an all-male drum line and an all-female chorus line that danced to “Lollipop."

The men were dressed in crop pants, short sleeve shirts, tails, and sneakers. The women were dressed thusly:

I’ve seen the movie “Hop” and really can’t understand why there’s an obvious gender division here. Why aren’t there female drummers? Why aren’t there male dancers? Drumming and dancing are both equally respected talents. In my struggle to nail down what bothered me about this, I reasoned that this is a retro styled entertainment revue so the sex segregation, burlesque dance number, and the underwear baring costumes all fit the theme. I’m all for authenticity and nostalgia but I don’t think you’re ruining anyone's glory days here if you simply mix the sexes in this revue.

I’ll Give You a Topic

What would you say to your daughter is she wanted to be a Lollipop dancer? A Solid Gold dancer?


Anyone Can Be a Nerd

Recently, I was listening to the Nerdette podcast and came across an episode where the hosts interviewed Peter Sagal. I actually enjoyed the interview as a whole, but something Mr. Sagal casually said in the beginning irked me and, weeks later, still sticks in my craw.

It came at the end of an explanation of how “nerds” these days have it so much easier than he did as a boy:  

“Guys, you’re not nerds, you’re fans, you’re enthusiasts.”


Hold on a second.

I have a huge problem with people denying others the right to claim the labels they wish to, be it nerd or geek or something else entirely, just because someone else’s experiences differs from theirs.

I’ll confess that when I was younger, I didn’t like to consider myself a nerd or a geek. Nerd was a thing otherkids called me. I was a tiny, bespectacled kid that always had her face in a book (not much has changed in that regard). I read The Lord of the Rings in the sixth grade while other kids gossiped during reading time, much like Mr. Sagal did. I did my math homework on the bus instead of goofing off with other kids, and read a book on the walk home from the bus stop.

I always made friends with librarians who worked at the libraries I frequented. I took advanced math, until I decided to drop it so I could take more art classes, because art was also a thing I was obsessed with (and admittedly, it was a lot more fun than trigonometry). As a young kid, I had to wear glasses and an eye patch because I had a lazy eye. That will never be cool.

TL;DR: I have geek cred. I even got bullied because I got good grades! Is it so hard to accept that things like that still happen?

As a member of the so-called generation Mr. Sagal is calling out, I’ll admit things are better for us of the nerd variety. We have the internet now, after all. We can find each other and talk about the things we love and obsess about.

Thankfully, one of the co-hosts, Tricia Bobeda, responded to Mr. Sagal’s statement:

“The nerd credential argument is one that we reject because we want to make it so that people who are the obsessed are ambassadors for the thing that they love so that it can become more inclusive.

"Because the subculture still exists.”

That’s right. We nerds are slightly more common and visible, but we’re still a subculture. And probably always will be.

We’re just better organized and appear in greater numbers at conventions and meetups.

I guess I’m lucky I grew up when I did, not 30 years before like Mr. Sagal, but isolation and bullies still exist. They’re never going away, although I’m not sure if that’s a necessary criterion to meet to check the box marked “geek and/or nerd.”

I think of it a little bit like arguing about the difference between film and digital photography. One is older, has a lot of nostalgia attached to it, and takes a little more time and effort.... But in the end, either direction you take, you still end up with a photograph, if slightly different depending on the way you go about it.

In the end, whether you choose to call us nerds or fans or fanatics, we’re still interested in the same types of things, even if we happen to enjoy them in different ways.

Things may be getting better for the nerdy and the geeky, but the road can still be a tough and lonely place, especially if you don’t fit into the narrow definition of what mainstream culture considers a geek. I certainly don’t—I just happen to wear the glasses and own the nerdy tee-shirts that make it easy to spot me in the wilds of normal life.

The world of nerdery and geekdom is vast and diverse. We don’t all look and act like the cast from the Big Bang Theory. And we certainly don't need to.


Knowing the Core: Smash Up's Original 8 Factions Explained (Part 2)

Today, I'd like to resume discussing the remainder of Smash Up's original eight factions. As I said last time, the key to understanding Smash Up is considering what factions would work well together as a team, and I hope that this primer will help. Note that I am far from a tournament player (but I have put in several hours playing the game, so I am not necessarily inexperienced, either).

ZOMBIES (brains...)

Focus - Discard Resurrection (Minions and Cards), Extra Minions, Base Actions

Zombies, true to form, come back from the dead in Smash Up: their primary trait is to reuse cards from the discard pile for your rival's detriment. Through unleasing your "deceased" minions once more onto the bases in play and placing cards from the discard pile into the deck or into your hand, Zombies make an excellent support half to a potential deck. Two base actions that revolve around minions further their usefulness. However, they have no way of destroying rival minions, and only one card effects other players in a negative fashion (the action Overrun, which prevents other players from playing minions on one base for one turn). They also do not have a Power 3 minion; instead there's two types of Power 2 minions. The overwhelming swarm of corpses will have to make due!

Key Cards

The three Power 2 Tenacious Z minions are a major part of a Zombie offensive. These cards, while low power, can be pulled at any point in your turn from the discard pile to be played as an extra minion (however, only one can be played in this way per turn). This is quite a boon for long-term play, and if you need to fish them out of your deck quickly, you can play the action Mall Crawl, which allows the player to search their deck for a card with the same name and put them into the discard pile. Instant undead support! Another excellent minion is the Power 5 Zombie Lord, who, when played, allows its owner to play extra Power 2 minions of any type on any bases where that player lacks minions.

Zombies have many extra minion options: the actions Outbreak (play extras on a base without any of your minions) and the two They Keep Coming (play extras from your discard pile), as well as the aforementioned Zombie Lord minion. The action They're Coming to Get You plays on a base and allows its player to play minions from the Discard Pile instead of their handa potentially nasty action if one has played their heavy hitters early on!

Click to read more ...