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2015 CON CALENDAR
MARCH
PAX East, Boston
Boston, MA, March 6 - 8, 2015
Winston-Salem, NC, March 13 - 15, 2015


Emerald City, Seattle
Seattle, WA, March 27 - 29, 2015 JUNE
utopYA Con, Nashville
Nashville, TN, June 18-21, 2015
SEPTEMBER
DragonCon, Atlanta
Atlanta, GA, Septebmer 4 -7, 2015

OCTOBER
GeekGirlCon, WA
Seattle, WA, October 10 - 11, 2015 GeekGirlCon, Seattle, WA, October 11-12, 2014

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Monday
Dec082014

Episode 140 - Linda Breneman from Pixelkin

Linda Breneman from Pixelkin joins us this week. We have a great discussion about gaming with your kids, making content accessible to new gamers, and the fun of a good online gaming experience. Make sure to check out the site for lots of great reviews and excellent articles. 

Rhonda and I discuss some of our end of year geekiness in our WRaP session. Does the holidaze leave you with more or less time for geeking out? 

We also mention an upcoming holiday even we are doing in conjunction with RadioFUBAR.com and some of the podcast hosts from the network. Trust me... you're not going to want to miss out on this!

Until next time, game on!
Regina & Rhonda

LINKS

For PixelKin:

Facebook
Twitter
YouTube

There is something about connecting over mutual hatred that is just so much deeper than mutual love.

Anna in "A Million Ways to Die in the West"

Episode 140

Monday
Dec012014

episode 139 - Cathé Post - GeekMom

This week, Cathé Post from GeekMom.com joins us on the show. We discuss training your kids to be board gaming geeks, cosplaying as a family, and some of our favorite board games. In the WRaP, Rhonda and I discuss our current geeky obsessions!

Make sure to check out all the great DIY science stuff on these sites. Some good times are in store for sure!

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 nex time, game on!
Regina & Rhonda

LINKS

GeekMom
GeekDad

WATCHING

"Gone Girl"
"Penny Dreadful", Showtime

READING

"Batman: Hush", Jeff Loeb, Jim Lee, Scott Williams
"The Dead Tracks", Time Weaver
"Gone Girl", Gillian Flynn
"Never Coming Back", Tim Weaver

PLAYING

"Arkham Horror", Fantasy Flight
"Code Breakers", PennyDellPuzzles, December 2014 issue
"Dixit", Asmodee
"QuizUp", Plain Vanilla, Apple, Google Play, Android
"Stone Age", Rio Grande Games
"Terror in Meeple City", Repos Productions
"Warhammer: Fantasy", Fantasy Flight

COMING SOON

"The Imitation Game"
"The Librarians", TNT
"The Mentalist", CBS

She may have been in cahoots with Wilde all along! Cahoots... I've been cahooted!

Flynn Carson in "The Librarian: Quest for the Spear", 2004

Episode 139

Wednesday
Nov262014

Famicom Females: Milky (Onyanko Town) and Zelda (Legend of Zelda)

milky-otMilky (Onyanko Town)

Release Date: November 21, 1985
Developer: Micronics
Publisher: Pony Canyon
Format: Cartridge
Role: Main Playable Character
Any Subsequent Appearances: No  

 

Introduction: Pony Canyon, a popular Japanese record label, decided to cash in on Nintendo’s successful Famicom by producing games themselves. Onyanko Town was their first title, developed by the now infamous Micronics, who would go on to ruin Capcom and SNK ports in a few years with their shoddy programming. Here, however, the team created a simplistic maze game starring Milky, a mother cat who continues to lose track of her son. She must brave a cityscape full of hateful canines and homicidal butchers in order to retrieve her son. Her only defenses against the horde of haters are manholes that drop dogs to their doom, and grabbing the occasional fish, rendering her invincible to the canine cavalcade.

ot-screen
Character Design/Personality
: Milky wears a pink dress with an apron, strongly suggesting that she is very much a housewife. She’s hunting down her wayward son, which shows she cares for the lad, but could also posit that she doesn't pay him the attention he needs. She lives in an animal kingdom equivalent of the sundown town. She doesn’t have much of a personality from the in-game spritework. She is excited when she returns home with her son, leaping high into the sky. Beyond that, there isn’t much to go on.  

Impact on Narrative: She is the heroine of the piece, so there’s that. She is the one who rescues her son and braves the mobs of hateful neighbors. However, she has little agency because she can't do much of anything beyond wander about the maze and open and close manhole covers.  

Positive Aspects: She’s the second lead female on the Famicom, and the first from a third-party! She is one of the very rare “mother” characters in a game.

Negative Aspects: Her design is very stereotypical and trite. Her game’s design stacks the deck against her very heavily, as she has no real way to combat the game’s obstacles and foes beyond running away. This reflects poorly on her having any control over what is happening to her. Her environment is toxic and has unexpected parallels to real-world race and sex relationships.  

My Reactions: Not a very progressive character by any stretch of the imagination. A helpless woman trying to retrieve her son who wandered off smacks of negligence at best. Add in the creepy tangent that every single creature in the game world is looking to kill her, and she has no recourse whatsoever... and you have a rather unsettling title. Unintentionally, Milky’s plight could have grander significance in terms of studying the game as a discourse on racial dynamics than as an actual game. It’s sort of eerie how much the game’s design mimics what I’m reading in James Loewen’s excellent but terrifying Sundown Towns.

Future Appearances: As far as I know, this is her only game.

Sources:
Chrontendo Episode 5

Grouvee Page for Onyanko Town

Honest Gamers Review (image sources)
 

 

 

zelda-lozZelda (Legend of Zelda)

Release Date: February 21, 1986
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Format: Disc (Japan)/Cartridge (other territories)
Role: NPC (Damsel)
Any Subsequent Appearances: Yes… well, sort of

 

Introduction: Princess Zelda is Nintendo’s second leading princess, and their third damsel in distress thus far. She is the namesake of one of the greatest video game series of all time, although in this game her role is marginalized in contrast to Link and Ganon. In the original game, she is kidnapped by Ganon for her Triforce of Wisdom. Unfortunately for the King of Evil, Zelda had already split apart the Triforce and hidden it all over the realm. Her final task before her kidnapping was to send Impa, her nursemaid, to find a worthy hero to put a stop to Ganon’s tyranny… which leads to Link getting involved. She appears in the game’s ending, following Link’s victory over Ganon, in a room in Level 9 completely surrounded by flames. Link’s sword extinguishes the fires, and Link returns the Triforce of Wisdom to her. She holds the reformed Triforce high as Link does the same for the Triforce of Power, plucked from the ashes of Ganon.

loz  

Character Design/Personality: Her artwork depicts her as a Disney-esque Princess. She wears a simple pink dress with a plethora of bows, pink pearls, and a jeweled headband on her head. She is depicted in a prayer-like pose, suggesting meekness. In-game, her dress is the same color as Link’s outfit at the time (red is likely what most players ran across). She stands still until Link touches her, and then the game ends with them both holding their respective Triforces aloft. She expresses a smile at her freeing moments, but that’s really it in terms of personality.  

Impact on Narrative: She is the arbiter of the game’s storyline  without her initial actions, Ganon would have dominated Hyrule without any problems. She scattered the Triforce shards across Hyrule (supposedly by herself? Considering the hells in those dungeons…I find that dubious. But hey, maybe she’s like Smash Bros. Zelda when she’s not in Ganon’s clutches). She also indirectly recruited Ganon’s rival Link through her nursemaid, Impa. However, beyond setting the game’s plot into motion, she’s almost trivial to the actual goings-on of the game. Link's quest only bumps into the titular princess at the very end.

Positive Aspects: She did have the foresight to hinder Ganon’s efforts of taking over Hyrule with her pre-game actions...

Negative Aspects: Unfortunately, Zelda’s origin is pretty terrible. She defines the damsel trope here: she only appears in the endgame, and serves as the “reward” for beating the game. Link’s motivation? Save Zelda. Furthermore, she is clothed in “feminine” colors and garments. She’s also a princess, which begs for the damsel trope. It set into motion the recurring “kidnapping Zelda” motif of the franchise, and she is almost always captured, assaulted, or somehow diminished in the narrative as a means of plot progression. Even her most empowered moments (save Smash and Hyrule Warriors) lead to this end result. Ocarina of Time’s Sheik? Snatched by Ganondorf moments after her big reveal as a disguised Zelda. Wind Waker’s Tetra? Once she’s confirmed to be the princess, she’s shut away in a dreary castle and then swiped by Ganondorf. Skyward Sword? She’s pursued throughout the entire game by Ghirahim, and when her true power is ultimately unveiled, he manages to finally catch her and whisk her away. It’s ridiculous how often this happens.  

My Reactions: This rendition of Zelda is nothing special or noteworthy. She’s a means for the game’s story to hinge upon, and that’s it. More disappointing is how Nintendo continues to recycle Zelda’s helplessness into nearly every other project under the franchise’s umbrella.

Future Appearances: This Zelda is only in this particular game. However, her ancestors and descendants have made many further appearances in gaming lore, typically in a similar role of damsel. There are a few exceptions to the victimized rule, though: Super Smash Bros. Melee brought Zelda into its lineup, granting her a magic-infused moveset based on Link’s Goddess magic from Ocarina of Time. She could also turn into Sheik for Melee and Brawl. In the 3DS and Wii U entries, Sheik was isolated into her own character, and Zelda gained the Phantom from Spirit Tracks as a new move. She’s got some hard hitting strikes, especially in the air, and is a solid, empowered character in the series (outside of the Subspace Emissary, where she is, once again, kidnapped for a time). Hyrule Warriors also grants Zelda a more liberated role within its playable roster, although I haven’t played that yet, so I’ll refrain from further comment for now.

Sources:
Personal experience
Hyrule Historia
(book)
Zeldawiki (Zelda image)
VG Museum
(in-game screenshot)

Friday
Nov212014

Review: World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor

So I’m back playing World of Warcraft again. Even though I swore I would never be back again. I did pretty well though. I stayed away for around 3 years. Why I’m back is a story for another time. Why the fact that I am back is relevant to a review is this: 

I came back to WoW around August this year to an expansion (Mists of Pandaria) that was brand new to me. Because I was jumping in almost at the end of the expansion cycle, I didn't have the usual expansion launch headaches of long queue times, too many players in the zones, or launch bugs. This should have made the game a joy to come back to. It didn't. It just felt like the same old stale crap Blizzard has been churning out for years now. And so I kept my head down and leveled my toons waiting for Warlords of Draenor to drop. 

So far, I’m glad that I did. 

Just to be clear, I’m only reviewing what I’ve experienced of the expansion so far. That being the main campaign through leveling and the Garrison system.

Hello, old friend. You're looking good!Let's start with the feature of this expansion that didn't impress me much. New character models. Where they shine is the less than humanoid races of WoW. The dwarves, gnomes, orcs, and tauren look pretty good. However, the closer you get to human, like the elves and humans, for instance, the more flat they become. To my eye, those character models look like manikins up close. All in al,l the character model upgrade is pretty mediocre in my opinion. 

Where Warlords of Draenor wins big is the nostalgia factor. 

The first part of this nostalgia factor is the call back to the Real Time Strategy (RTS) days of the Warcraft setting through the use of the Garrison system. Shortly after an action packed string of events you end up in your starting area for the expansion and begin building your garrison.

And this is where things begin to feel … right. Because you're building a base just like you did in those old RTS Warcraft games!

The garrison allows you the option to build several different buildings, but not all the options at once. So depending on what you build you'll have a different experience and get different bonuses in game. For instance, I built the Forge for my Death Knight and at level 2 of the Forge, I could place a minion in the building that not only bolstered production, but gave a real nice 4 hour quality of life buff whenever I talked to that minion.

The second nostalgia punch is going back to Draenor and seeing all of the characters from the lore of The Burning Crusade and what Outlands was before it was fractured and ruined. I enjoy seeing what all these different characters are like in a different timeline and watching their stories play out through dramatic quest lines and cut scenes. 

I am the lord of all I survey.Nostalgia runs through the game in another major way  exploration. I remember when I started playing WoW almost 10 years ago, there was a real joy to exploring the geography of the game. Not because I would necessarily gain anything from it, but because it was fun. That may have never really left the game, but Blizzard has now made it profitable to take your time and look around.

Scattered throughout Draenor are hidden treasures. Some aren't too difficult to find; some are way off the beaten path. Sometimes it's a piece of loot you're just going to sell. Sometimes, very infrequently, it's a gear upgrade that you can use, a pet, or a gadget. Either way, it leaves you wondering at every turn.

At its heart, Warlords of Draenor is still a World of Warcraft expansion. But it's an expansion that reminds you what it was like to play WoW back in the early days of the game. The quest system is still the same old fetch or kill system it's always been, but tightened up and more efficient. Is it still grindy? Yup. But, for now, I’m really enjoying that feeling of the way things used to be. And, I think anyone who isn't completely fed up with MMOs will enjoy coming back too.

Tuesday
Nov182014

episode 138 - Holiday Playlist

In anticipation of the quickly approaching Holidaze, Rhonda and I invite fearless intern, Isabela, to join us for our holiday playlist episode. Starting an annual tradition, we make suggestions to help pass the time traveling to visit family and friends this year using your favorite electronic device or your favorite old fashioned device like a paperback book. Let us know your recommendations to pass the time this traveling season in the comments!

Until next time, game on!
Regina, Rhonda, and Isabela  

BOOKS - AUDIO

"A Christmas Carol" read by Jim Dale
"A Vision of Fire" read by author, Gillian Anderson
"Born Standing Up" read by author, Steve Martin
"Partials" by Dan Wells, read by Julia Whelan, first book in Partials series

BOOKS

"A Christmas Carol", Charles Dickens, free digital download
"The Secret History of Wonder Woman" by Jill Lepore
"Vixens, Vampls, & Vipers" by Mike Madrid
"Divas, Dames, & Daredevils" by Mike Madrid
"The Supergirls: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy, and the History of Comic Book Heroines" by Mike Madrid
"The Stepsister Scheme" by Jim C. Hines, first in the Princess Series

COMICS

"Supreme Blue Rose", Image Comics, Warren Ellis (writer), Tula Lotay (artist)
"Outcast", Image Comics, Robert Kirkman (writer/creator), Paul Azaceta (artist)

GAMES - MOBILE

"The Simpsons: Tapped Out", EA, Amazon, Apple, Google Play
"Dungeon Keeper", EA, Amazon, Android, Apple
"Daddy Long Legs", Set Snail, Amazon/Android
"Can You Escape", MobiGrow, Amazon/Android
"Puzzix", Oz Machine, Apple, Android, Google Play

GAMES - TABLETOP

"Anomia", party edition, card game
"The Resistance", Indie Boards and Cards
Cards Against Humanity

MOVIES

"Chef", 2014, rated R, Aldamisa Entertainment, Amazon, Google Play
"The Lord of the Rings" trilogy

MUSIC

"Letter to Laredo", Joe Ely, CD
"That's Christmas to Me", Pentatonix
The Black Keys

PODCASTS

CockTales, Don Diego, Podbean, iTunes
"Welcome to Night Vale"

TV - BINGE

"The Gilmore Girls", Netflix
"The Bletchley Circle", PBS, Netflix, Amazon, Google Play
"Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries"

TV - GUILTY PLEASURE

"Wonder Woman" with Linda Carter

WEB SERIES

"Carmilla"

Percy: Where are we?
Inez: This is Little Havana.
Percy:
Like in Grand Theft Auto?

"Chef", 2014, rated R, Aldamisa Entertainment 

Episode 138

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