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2014 CON CALENDAR

SEPTEMBER
Wizard World, TN
Nashville, TN, Sept 26 - 28, 2014 Wizard World, Nashville, TN, Sept 26 - 28, 2014

OCTOBER
GeekGirlCon, WA
Seattle, WA, October 11-12, 2014 GeekGirlCon, Seattle, WA, October 11-12, 2014

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Friday
Oct102014

Gaming Terminology Primer: Strategy games

I was originally introduced to the world of PC strategy games by way of Command and Conquer and spent many an hour on my mother's computer playing it. Today, I hope to teach you a bit about my second video game obsession —  

Strategy Games: A game genre where the player acquires resources or territory, and manages their base and units to defeat the opponent. Typically, the player has an overhead view of the map or world they are playing on, similar to a board game. 

 More than any other type of video game, I feel that the strategy game best bridges the gap between the virtual world of video games and the physical world of the tabletop game. To me, there is something really cool about that. I think it's because strategy video games can look so much like a strategy board game, making them different ends of the same bridge between two different worlds of gaming. That bridge can allow someone who's never played a video game to find an experience that is similar to a tabletop game, or give a video gamer a way to find that tabletop games can be just as fun and exciting as a video game.

Let's dive into some of the different types of strategy games there are out there.


RTS: Real Time Strategy 
A Real Time Strategy game typically involves gathering resources, building a base, the player expanding their area of influence on the map, and finally, defeating their enemy or enemies as the case may be. All of this occurs in real time as the genre title suggests. This means the opponents are doing all of these same things at the same time as one another. A very fun but demanding type of game to play. It requires a great deal of multitasking, the ability to think on one's feet, and quick reflexes. 

Examples: The Command and Conquer series, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War series 

 

RTT: Real Time Tactics 
This genre of strategy game is also played in real time, however, it takes place at the tactical level rather than the strategic level. This means that the players do not engage in base building, or resource gathering. Usually they pick some units or are given some at the beginning of the game/map and use those as efficiently as possible to win.

Examples: The Commandos series, The Mech Commander one and two

 

TBS: Turn Based Strategy 
A style of strategy game that distinguishes itself from RTS by having the players act in turn. This slows the game play down and allows the players to think about their actions before committing to them. TBS games still consist of base building, resource gathering, and expansion, but just at a less frenetic pace than an RTS. 

Examples: The Civilization series, Age of Wonders series 

 

TBT: Turn Based Tactics 
Just like RTT games, the turn-based tactics game is dealing with combat at the tactical level. And just like the TBS games, it is turn-based. 

Examples: Most of the XCOM series, the upcoming Warmachine: Tactics 

 

Tower Defense 
Tower Defense games are different from the above genres of strategy game. Where the above genres have a mix of offense and defense in their game play, tower defense games are all about protecting something or keeping enemies out. In this style of strategy game, the player erects defensive weapons, traps, and/or barriers to try to keep enemies at bay. 

Examples: Defense Grid One and Two, Dungeon Defenders, Plants vs. Zombies

 

LEXICON

APM: Actions Per Minute. How many times per a minute a player interacts with a games user interface. Typically used as a measure of expertise in RTS games where better players will have higher actions per minute.

BO: Build Order. A planned order in which a player will build their buildings, upgrades, and/or units.

Expansion: The act of expanding one's area of control. This can improve the player's strategic standing by giving them access to resources, or denying an opponent those same resources.

Harassing: Using a small, quick force to disrupt an opponent’s resource gathering or building.

Micro: Short for micromanaging. The ability of a player to control every unit individually in a conflict. 

Teching: Short for “teching up.” A strategy where a player creates the minimum amount of early game units so that the can devote the majority of their resources to upgrading their base and units. 

Turtling: Derived from the word turtle. The strategy of building up one's defenses and keeping their units in and around their base for defense. Based on the idea of a turtle defending itself by withdrawing into its shell when attacked. 

Zerg: To overwhelm one's enemy with a force of quick and cheap units. Derived from the Zerg faction in the Starcraft games.

 

It can be said that all genres of video games have strategy behind their styles of play, and this is very true. However, I think that strategy games often times bring a deeper experience to the use of strategy in gaming — this experience, in my opinion, can only benefit a gamer. This is a good reason to give a them a shot.

Who knows? You might find that you actually like them.

Regina and Rhonda recorded a podcast on Tower Defense games. Check it out here.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments below or contact me at mark@gameongirl.com, or on Twitter @MarsUller.

Monday
Oct062014

episode 132 - Jim McKeny in "The Devil's Hand"

Have we got a treat for you this week, dear listeners! Actor extraordinaire Jim McKeny joins us to talk about his new movie, The Devil's Hand! We have a great discussion about all things acting and Hollywood. Make sure to listen to the end of the episode for a very special story about Robin Williams. 

Rhonda and I WRaP about our current obsessions with what we're Watching, Reading, and Playing. What fall shows are you loving? Hating? What's your latest game obsession? Let us know in the comments. 

You can also get in touch with us on facebookgoogle+, and twitter.  If you haven't done so already, please consider leaving us a rating or review on iTunes

LINKS

"The Devil's Hand"
Jim McKeny, J Pervis Talent Agency

"Miami Vice", S1E7, No Exit, mark 45:05
"Why it sucks to be the daughter of satan", io9

Entertainment Weekly, We Care, Character Actor PSA

Regina's Monologue in "Working"

WATCHING

"Brooklyn Nine Nine", Fox
"True Blood", Season 7, Amazon video
Dancing with the Stars, ABC via HuluPlus 

READING

"In the Woods", Tana French
"The Dead Tracks", Tim Weaver
House of Night, Revealed, P.C. & Kristin Cast 

PLAYING

Spellfall, BackFlip Studios

COMING UP

GeekGirlCon, Seattle, WA, October 11 - 12, 2014
"The Devil's Hand", October 10, 2014
"American Horror Story: Freak Show", FX, October 8, 2014

There's no way off that ship. You're surrounded.

- Jim has a brief voice over in season 1, episode 7, No Exit, of "Miami Vice". Forward to mark 45:05.

Until next time, game on!
Regina & Rhonda

Episode 132

Friday
Oct032014

#WhyWonderWoman: How the Amazon Princess Fits Into My Story

I've told this story several times on the podcast but I've never taken the time to write it down. I'm inspired to now because of the #WhyWonderWoman hashtag that started trending earlier this week. I wanted to tell my story on Twitter, but I really couldn't do it in 140 characters. 

Pretty much the entirety of my massive Wonder Woman paraphernalia collection are gifts I have been given at various points in my life and from various people, but they all tie back to one single person in my life: my mom. 

If you ask my mom to tell a story about my childhood, she always tells the same story. I'm five years old and we are in the emergency room at the hospital. I fell down the back stairs of our house and have a pretty nasty cut on my head. The nurse is prepping me for stitches. When she leaves the room, my mom leans over me and whispers, 

"I know you'll be strong when the doctor comes in because you're wearing your Wonder Woman underwear." 

I managed through the stitches, more I think because of my mom's strength, but I never forgot that moment and thanks to my mom's love of this story, everyone in my life has heard it at least once. It's pretty telling that the moment of my childhood my mother loves to relive is a moment of imparting strength and agency. She wanted so much for my life and much of my drive stems from a desire to make her proud.

It's cliche to say I wouldn't be the woman I am without my mom, but I also wouldn't be the woman I am without Wonder Woman. She was the pinnacle of strength and beauty, justice, and passion. A symbol for many women in a sea of male superheros, and weak, submissive female characters.

When we had Kristy Guevara-Flanagan on the show, I used all my self restraint not to burst into the re-telling of this story.  I wanted that episode to focus on all the other women whose lives have been strengthened by the Amazon Princess. The #WhyWonderWoman hastag reinspired me to tell this story again. 

So, Wonder Woman's invisible jet might be a tool she used for surprise attacks against bad guys, but for me, it was the quiet power I carried with me knowing I could beat my own bad guys (and gals).

An invisible force... well, perhaps visible by any who could see my Wonder Woman underwear. 

Monday
Sep292014

episode 131 - The Headlines Show

This week, we take on the latest feminist news in our headline show. There are SO MANY stories about feminism right now, good and bad, and we tackle a few here. What's your definition of feminism? Do you think it needs a new name?

Links

"What's it like to be a woman in competitive gaming? A female gamer explains." by Lilian "Milktea" Chen

Emma Watson speaks at the UN
The Emma Watson hoax

"Joseph Gordon-Levitt made a video about Feminism."
Pivot TV: Hit Record
"Brick"
"The Lookout"

Reading

"Chasing the Dead", Tim Weaver
"In the Woods", Tana French

Watching

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
"Gotham", FOX
"Forever", ABC
"The Mysteries of Laura", NBC
"Red Band Society", FOX
"Scorpion", CBS
"NCIS: New Orleans", CBS

Playing

World of Warcraft
Forbidden Dessert, Gamewright
Sequence, Jax
Love Letter, AEG
King of Tokyo, iello

Coming

GeekGirlCon, Seattle, WA, October 11 & 12, 2014
"Gone Girl", film, novel 

NOTHING goes over my head! My reflexes are too fast, I would catch it. - Drax 

Let us know what you think about the show and how you're geeking out this week in the comments below. You can also get in touch with us on facebookgoogle+, and twitter.  If you haven't done so already, please consider leaving us a rating or review on iTunes

Until next time, game on!
Regina & Rhonda 

Episode 131

Friday
Sep262014

When Harassment at Work Persists

One of the more urgent questions raised in the “Gender/Sex Issues in Video Games” DragonCon panel was how to deal with sexual harassment at work when the company isn’t dealing with the issue.

People know how they should behave. Companies have procedures to enforce when people act inappropriately. The government has an entire commission dedicated to enforcing federal laws. But none of this means people will behave, or companies will enforce, or red tape will be cut. What to do.

First, it depends on the severity of the harassment.

Physically Assaulted

If you are physically assaulted at work, call the police. Your company is not the ruling authority when it comes to criminal activity. They don’t have first dibs in addressing a criminal offense. Call the police immediately.

No Resolution

If you have criminal charges pending, a lawyer should advise you on any actions to take regarding your employment.

Physically Threatened

If you are being threatened, but not touched, with a physical weapon call the police. Your safety and life is in danger and the employer is not equipped to protect you. Weapons are guns, knives, box cutters, paper weights, fists, etc. Call the police if it is clear that an assailant intends to harm or kill you by threatening to strike or punch you.  

No Resolution

Again, this is in the hands of the police and your lawyer.

Verbally Threatened…

Verbal harassment takes more time, persistence, and professionalism to address. The onus is totally on the accuser.

… With Harm

If you are verbally threatened with physical harm (sexual or violent; “I will assault you”) or professional harm (fired or ruined; “I’ll get you fired.”) without weapons, you should immediately go to your HR department, enter their office, sit down, and refuse to leave until you are safe. Your manager, the assailant, and the assailant’s manager should be called in to resolve the accusation (yes, we are in the verbal world now so you’re an accuser).

If you still don’t feel safe you must clearly express why you are still in danger and create a plan with HR and the mediating manager. Make sure you have a copy of your company’s harassment policy. Get the name and contact info for someone in HR who will be your representative.

In parallel to all of this, you should also go to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) web site and study it. Like most government sites, it is difficult to navigate. Contact them immediately and be persistent.

No Resolution

If the company does not follow through and harassment persists, follow the exact same steps above and make sure that the harassment policy is being followed to the letter. If the harassment policy is weak or is just a straw man (a sham argument set up to be defeated), contact the EEOC, a lawyer, and the police.

… With Suggestions

If a co-worker is making suggestive comments or gestures that are inappropriate for the work place, the first line of defense is you. Respect your co-worker more than they are respecting you or themselves. Respond professionally and don’t use first-person pronouns. Say, “that’s unprofessional” or “that’s not appropriate for the work place.”

A common response to this might be, “I’m just kidding” or “you’re uptight.” Again, keep it professional and not personal. “That might get you in trouble at work with the wrong people and you’re more professional than that.”

If they shrug it off, I think they’ve heard you. It’s not your place to rub their nose in it or illicit a confession. Close the book and be happy if it never happens again. You made a difference.

If the conversation persists or the harassment persists, then it’s personal. You need to know your harassment policy and follow their guidelines immediately.

No Resolution

If harassment continues and HR is dragging their feet, work your way up through the hierarchy of HR. In parallel, contact the EEOC to get documentation and advice started.

If you make it to the top of the HR department without resolution, then go above them. If HR is not held accountable then you can conclude that the harassment policy means nothing to the company and harassment is tolerated. Things get tricky. Hopefully EEOC will step in.

I say put your head down, don’t say anything else about it, and do your job to the letter — all the time looking for another job. You have to get out of there. You might want to stay and be Norma Rae, but that’s a different article entirely.

-----------------------------------

The work place is not a unique or exceptional environment. Any time you’re not sure what to do, think about the situation if it were in a grocery store. What makes sense?

Company guidelines and laws can also be misused to falsely accuse co-workers. This is also an egregious offense and can do permanent damage. False claims negate valid ones and can potentially ruin careers. There is no justification for it.