BlogGlue

Greetings!

Here are a few of my favorite things: Nintendo, Penny Arcade, The Legend of Zelda, Mario, Pokemon, Harvest Moon, Fallout, Dungeons and Dragons, books, dice, Professor Layton, Shadow of the Colossus, Minecraft, and so much more. I'm going to talk a lot about video games, I sincerely hope you don't mind.

Newest paper sculpt project!

Sonic Screwdriver trio for my friend's birthday.

An interview with Adam Harum of Transolar Galactica.

They achieved their Kickstarter goal, and now the world gets more of their award winning sci-fi comedy!

Doctor Who themed lip balm!

Brought to you from Earthtastic! and A Bit of Geek.

Minecraft paper sculpt!

My submission to the Mojang community art contest. Watch the video!

A TARDIS desk lamp!

Instructions and babbling on how to make a TARDIS lamp from foam core!

Friday, May 30, 2014

'No Face' Spirited Away - Sculpt Video

Made for my cousin for his 18th birthday. He insisted that No Face was his 'homie' and needed him feeling greedy and surrounded by piles of gold. No Face himself came together fairly simply, but making piles of gold was really challenging. Damn all of the tiny circles! I also need to find a place to have mats made. Honestly I'm proud of how this red one turned out but it's just a piece of paper so it's not super sturdy. Oh well! Learning is good :)







-MJ

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Ben Wyatt's Top Nerd Moments

Ben Wyatt from Parks and Recreation is one of the best on-screen nerd representations in existence. For me it's a great joy to see someone who is an absolute, total, unapologetic geek who ALSO has people skills and a stable relationship (and personal hygiene). It's good to break the stereotype and show that being a nerd doesn't make you an outcast (a common misconception and trope in TV and movies), and that nerds are, in fact, very happy to be able to express their emphatic love. The show runners wrote being nerdy in such a positive way!



So, without further ado, I want to share the best of Ben Wyatt's nerdy outbursts. I'm sure there are more, but these are the ones that really made an impression!



Season 4 Episode 4 - Batman







Season 4 Episode 4 - Game of Thrones







Season 5 Episode 3 - Star Trek 







Season 6 Episode 9 - The Cones of Dunshire







Season 6 Episode 10 - The Bridge from Inception



http://youtu.be/kVBTA3-Q0ZU



Season 6 Episode 14 - Iron Throne

The official Parks and Rec youtube channel has the extended deleted scene (shown below), but here's a shorter one from the actual episode.



http://youtu.be/mS_CvXj21uk



Season 6 Episode 21/22 - The Forest of Endor







It has been announced that season 7 will be the last for Parks and Recreation, which makes me pretty sad. They've had an amazing run though and seven seasons is nothing to sneeze at! I hope that it'll be chock full of deliciously dorky outbursts from Ben.



What are your favorite Ben Wyatt moments?



-MJ

Monday, May 26, 2014

"The Stanley Parable" and You

This is the story of you.

Right now, you are sitting in that exact location with your eyes locked onto your screen, reading these very words. You are reading this so astutely, in fact, that your mind is jumping ahead through the text and wondering what the whole point of this introduction is.

I will answer that question by saying that now the voice in your head reading this article is now speaking with a British accent. Not a cockney British accent, but the most elegant, graceful British accent your mind can muster.

Let's read this sentence together, all with that British voice you made up in your head.

Well, did it work?

Are you thinking with a British voice, all because I gave you the suggestion to do so? If you are, then let me ask you this:

Why did you obey my suggestion?

What was the reason you decided to do exactly what I told you to do?

Was it because these words are holding your attention captive, forcing you to adhere to my every whim? Or was because you where going along with the story, giddily going along with the flow to find out where it was all going?

Well then congratulations! You've just learned a valuable lesson on the illusion of choice.

One such lesson learned from the video game called “The Stanley Parable.”

The Stanley Parable, for the curiously unfamiliar, is a first-person adventure game that deals with the subject of choice and the lack thereof. Written and developed solely by Davey Wreden, the game originally began as a mod of the Source engine and became available to Steam in 2011. But since its release, it has grown in such popularity that a high-definition remake was designed and released late of 2013. The game has been praised for its thoughtful subject matter, well-crafted design and its clear sense of originality.

But it's the story that really drives the success of the game. In the game, you play a simple office worker by the name of Stanley. Stanley's job is to press buttons all day when a prompt comes up on his computer monitor. He's so blissfully happy with this menial task that it's a shock to him, at the start of the game, when one day the computer stops telling him what to do. Upon further investigation, Stanley discovers that all of his coworkers have vanished suddenly without a word. All of this exposition, as you the play the game, is told to you by the voice of the Narrator, who walks through everything that Stanley does along the story. However, even as the Narrator vocally dictates where to go and what to do, you can opt to ignore his instructions, following the path led by your own choices. Your ending is thus altered, much to the annoyance of the Narrator who insists you stay on the original story.

Now while the plot may not sound like something truly groundbreaking, it's the real story behind the story that pulls you in. This is because, despite the notions established throughout the game, the story is really about you, the player.

Sure, the game follows the actions of Stanley, but because you're the one actually controlling the actions of Stanley, the story is actually yours, as told through the life of Stanley. Normally as a gamer, you'd brush this off and disassociate your life from that of the protagonist's.

But not in The Stanley Parable.

As the game progresses, you find out that the game acknowledges this disassociation and forces you to take reflection on what you're doing with your life, both through the game and out of it. It makes you pause at the confines of video game narrative and makes you consider one crucial question:

“Do I truly have a choice?”

Because, through the parable of Stanley, we have to wonder if the power of our choices were ever really real or if they were just designed confines, predetermined since before we were born. Most games don't really delve into such topics so as not to break your immersion of the game.

But not The Stanley Parable.

Because The Stanley Parable isn't the really the story of Stanley.

It isn't the story of his missing coworkers, or the Narrator.

It isn't even the story of whether choice is really relevant.

This is the story of you.

-Tom

Friday, May 23, 2014

When the 'Game' Changes: Am I Drifting from Gaming?

It’s not difficult for me to remember a time when a new game was on the horizon, tantalizingly out of reach, and building a hysterical excitement within me as I counted down the days until its release. Yet in spite of this easy to recall memory, I struggle to think of a game whose release I have anticipated. After some mental strain I came up with three: Animal Crossing: New Leaf, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, and Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon.



Really? I’ve only been excited for three games in one year? That can’t be right. Is the industry slowing down? Am I not paying attention to new titles? Are there fewer games being made that interest me? Or, maybe, am I losing touch with the current generation?



In all honesty, I have to assume it’s the last one. As sad and old as that makes me feel, I cannot deny that video games continue to hum and thrive all around me. I’ve always been at least a bit behind the curve on new releases, and it’s not unheard of for me to take years to actually finish a game (Skyward Sword, anyone? I’ll beat it someday). But does this mean I’ve already turned into a ‘golden age’ gamer who only likes the titles from their youth?!



super mario bros 3 map
You KNOW this is a good time waiting to happen.



Possibly.



But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. The backlog of games that I have yet to sink my teeth into (Mass Effect and Fallout: New Vegas, for starters) is truly enormous. I could go years and years without buying a new video game and still not run out of content to devour. At least I’m saving money, right?



Mostly it’s just interesting to me that I haven’t really noticed any video game news. Where is all the news?! Is there a single, reliable source for it anymore? Last time I tried to keep up I had to visit a handful of different websites, and most of that information I didn’t care about. Even when I was buying new games regularly I had a specific scope that I paid attention to (Nintendo), and I know that I’ll never stop having a foot in that pool. I definitely saw all of the hullaballoo regarding the re-releases of Ruby and Sapphire, which elicited an almighty shrug from me seeing as that was my least favorite batch of Pokemon (don’t hurt me).



 
Meanwhile, the rest of the internet world collectively lost their minds at the announcement.



So yes, I have become a dawdling old gamer who loves to wax nostalgic about the PS2 generation and everything that came before it. I’ve moved away from the flashy new releases and have started to focus my efforts on older games that I missed (like my Final Fantasy 8 diary), titles I wouldn’t normally play that have been gifted to me by friends, favorites that will never leave me that I simply have to play every so often, and, yes, the very occasional new game that I won’t even pick up until at least 3 months after it has come out.



Am I sad? A little bit! I didn’t think this day would come. And hey, maybe it’s not even permanent. Maybe a little bit of the other factors that I mentioned are at play, and in a few years the industry will shift in a direction that’s more immediately demanding to my attention. For now at least, I have a huge library to get to, and it’s pretty fun to be the 'old' person who can actually say, “Back in my day…”



 
Get it? Or have I crossed too far over the age gap?



Where are you in your video game career? Hardcore fanatic? Calm collector? Dawdling oldie? I want to hear about your journey!



-MJ



*Header image sources: link, nes, hat.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Review of West Seattle's Newest Game Store

Board games are a big part of my life. Guests to my home often find themselves sitting at my table staring at pieces of cardboard or little wooden game pieces, so as a seasoned board gamer I love it when a new shop opens as one can never have enough board games or places to play. Saturday, May 17th was the grand opening of Meeples Games, a gaming store and cafe in West Seattle and I stopped in to check it out.


Meeples Sign

First impressions: Meeples is a bit out of the way on the second story of a business complex. The location actually reminded me of the board game cafes in Asian countries such as Japan and Korea, as they were often tucked away on an upper level of buildings, accessible only through side-streets and cramped elevators. Thankfully, Meeples is easy to access and the size of the space is larger than you'd expect. All of the staff I encountered were extremely cheerful and helpful, despite the hustle and bustle of the grand opening.


somegames

The important part of a game store is of course the selection of games they offer and Meeples did not disappoint. They had a wide variety of both classic and recent games for sale, and I appreciated their organization style of grouping similar games together by theme or category. This makes it easy if you know of one game you really like and want  to find others that you might enjoy as well. I should also mention that behind the register Meeples featured a myriad of games to check-out and get a feel for them before buying.
register

Meeples is not just a game store, they have a cafe as well which serves a wide range of snacks and beverages, including espresso and beer for the adult patrons. The cafe side of Meeples is off to the right when you enter and I must say it exceeded my expectations. I ordered the brie, apple, pesto and prosciutto sandwich and it came with a side of potato chips. It was simply delicious and I highly recommend it!


1

I ended up staying for a Magic: the Gathering draft and was able to check out their gaming space, which is on the other side of the store from the cafe. The gaming area had many tables and comfortable chairs, and unlike other game stores I've been to it didn't get unreasonably hot when full of people. That was definitely a plus.



I was very pleased with my experience at Meeples and if you’re a gamer and find yourself in West Seattle, this is definitely a place worth checking out.



Check them out at: http://meeplesgames.com/

3727 California Ave SW

Suite 2B

Seattle, WA 98116



Hours: (per the website, last checked on 5/20/2014)

Sunday - Thursday 10:00 AM - 10:00 PM

Friday - Saturday 10:00 AM - midnight

Monday, May 19, 2014

Final Fantasy 8 Diary - Entry 12

ff8entry12pg1

ff8entry12pg2


controllerArrows2


ff8firstDiaryBanner

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Reaction Diaries - Vampire Diaries Meets Mean Girls.

What fun is there to watching a young adult melodrama if you can't be catty toward the characters once in a while?







-Rachel and MJ

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Sounds of Secret of Mana

I wanted to use this entry to gush about not only one of my favorite aspects of gaming (soundtracks), but one of my all-time favorite soundtracks itself:

Hold onto your butts. Source! 
Hold onto your butts. Source!

That's right, the diverse masterpiece that accompanied Secret of Mana for the SNES. Composed for the then-Squaresoft game by Hiroki Kikuta, the musical companion to the 16-bit adventure did its job stunningly by lending many different sounds for multiple feelings and situations.  From dark times to happy days, and from hot summers to chilling winters, there was a tune for just about everything.  Though Kikuta's work was almost always only attributed games that never made it to America, I'm certainly glad his genius got a chance to shine through in the release of SoM for us Westerners.

secretofmanadance

If you want to dance along with the little fella up there, I'll be linking to many songs as you read so you can get an idea of just how great these pieces are.  Honestly, you don't even need to know the context of the tracks, they're beautiful in their own rite.

Now, I'm not going to gush about every note, even though I'd like to, but I am going to start with the intro sequence to the game.  Few pieces of music can set the tone for its subject right off the bat, and "Fear of the Heavens" does exactly that.  You're about to embark on a magical and dangerous adventure guaranteed to evoke all sorts of emotion and the title piece is so good at conveying a sense of hope and adventure.  Then, once you get started, you are treated to a slideshow (accompanied by "In the Dead of Night") giving you the story of this world you will be spending some time in, and all of the fun follows soon after.

But time flows like a river... and history repeats.  Source!
But time flows like a river... and history repeats. Source!

Every game with an open world needs to have good adventuring music, right?  I don't think a track from a game has ever gotten me ready to go quite as well as the aptly named track, "Into the Thick of It," to which you are introduced pretty much right when the gameplay begins.  As the player, your hero now has a sword he picked up in forbidden territory, and now you need to fight your way back to your home.  Your inner reassurance had better have a badass tune to go with it, and that's where "Into the Thick of It" comes in.  Here is an orchestral arrangement that I think did a brilliant job of remastering the sense of adventure and wonder.

Don't let the cuteness of the local flora and fauna fool you, either.  Source! 
Don't be fooled by the cuteness of the local flora and fauna, either. Source!

The mood of the in-game music changes frequently, and is mostly location based.  For instance, you will hear an ominous tune such as "Whisper and Mantra" as you move through one of Secret of Mana's many palaces to visit a sage or spirit.  You'll feel just how much Dwarves like to party when you hear "It Happened Late One Evening" as you enter their underground village.  You'll feel the sadness of a town falling victim to a mysterious plague in "Phantom and a Rose."

Hell, there's even wintery music when you meet Santa Claus.  Source! 
Hell, there's even wintery music when you meet Santa Claus. Source!

Location-based music is a fantastic tool for conveying situational feelings, but what about all of the in-between?  "What about the battles?" you might be asking.  There's plenty of urgency in "Danger" to let you know you're fighting for your life.  This is one of my favorite battle music pieces because of how hectic it is.  At the same time, I love the bridge in the middle that gives you some hope, only to have it slowly dwindle away back to the "You better put your ass-kicking boots on" mode.

Also, a good one that always successfully creeps Rachel out is "Ceremony" which plays in ancient ruins where citizens of a nearby town are gathering for an unknown reason.  Pretty unsettling, if you ask me.

"But I JUST started!"  Source! 
"But I JUST started!" Source!

I can't continue on until I mention the musical accompaniment when you take to the skies on your dragon.  There are multiple tracks that play when in flight depending on where you are in the game.  I feel the song that best depicted the beauty of the world from the sky (as well as how great the three-dimensional capabilities of the SNES were at the time) has to be "Star of Darkness."  Just listen to it!

Source!
I've got no words.  Source!

You know, I think I have both successfully and unintentionally covered almost the entire soundtrack of Secret of Mana.  It's rather easy to get carried away when there is so much material and in such variety.  I have to urge anyone who hasn't played this game to give it a try.  It is an absolutely fantastic title.  Give yourself the opportunity to experience the adventure and to appreciate both audio and visual aspects of this masterpiece.

Any fond memories of video game soundtracks?  Old or new, doesn't matter.  Tell me about it!

Special thanks to Hiroki Kikuta for bringing this music to life.

-Zach

Monday, May 12, 2014

Being a Geek Parent: Year One

About a year ago, my wife gave birth to our firstborn son and we began a new chapter in our lives.



Obligatory picture of said brood: check 
Obligatory picture of said brood: check



It was a surreal experience and I could not truly grasp how much it would come to impact my life for the better. Because not only did I become a parent, but I also became something else. A relatively new brand of dad known only as the “Geek Parent.”

Yes, all my years of comic book reading and video game playing had not deterred my lovely spouse from me and together we brought into this world a beautiful, nerdy offspring. I'd become the kind of father most likely to play Super Mario with his son or teach him the mantra of the Green Lantern Corps. It was something I had come to expect, but what I hadn't counted on was how being a father would change my geekiness itself. How it would refine and change my perspective on everything I held dear and near to my two-timelord-hearts.

So for all of you expecting gamers and prego nerds, here's a bit of a heads up on some of the things I've learned in my first year as a geek parent.




Your Friends And Family Do Half Your Geek Introduction For You


When your child first comes into the world, you're going to feel the impulse to gather all the geeky related things you can for your darling Level 1 Human. Superhero onesies, Star Wars Pacifiers, the works. But what you'll soon come to find out is that the people closest to you are going to be more than willing to help you in this. Your loved ones, knowing how geeky you are and caring for their new relative, will shower you in enough geeky goodies that it will be impossible for your child to not be exposed to your interests. It's really awesome, actually, because when all of their clothes are options of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, Ninja Turtles, there's never a shortage of geek that's adorned onto your child.




You'll Learn Time Management And Which Of Your Geek Loves Most Deserve Your Free Time


It kind of goes without saying, but children take up your time. I'm being completely serious when I tell you that you're going to not have a lot of free time to yourself. But while some might get gloomy about this, it also helps you prioritize what interests you really care about. No more mindless wandering on reddit, no sir/madam, you're going to be crazy focused on what you really want to do. Want to finish that fantasy novel? Organize a new Magic deck? Complete the final campaign in the latest installment of your favorite video game? You're going to be more motivated than ever to do it! Because now you have a little one that depends on your time and attention, you're going to be less inclined to waste your free time on idle interests. So like a geek lightning rod, your true interests will come to focus and you'll be a better for it in the end.




Your Geeky Upbringing Will Not Be The Same As Your Child's, But It Can Be Similar


There was a lot that happened in your life to bring you to the wondrous form of nerd you are today. For me, it was the combination of the Frieza Saga, “The Spider-man Animated Series,” and lots and lots of video games. And while all those are well and good for me back when I was growing up, some of it might sadly be dated for me to expose my son to. Sure, I could attempt to recreate my own childhood for him, have him play on the N64 or gather old Pokemon cards for him to trade. But it wouldn't hold the same magic as it did then because that was the past, and geek future is moving forward. He's got to experience his own moments on the road to geekdom, ones that are better fit to the times he is raised in.

But that doesn't mean that you can't share anything with your child. If you want to get your kid into D&D, then by all means, do it. It's a part of who you are and even if it's dated to your time, your child will still take interest in it because it's something you can share together. Which leads into my last point....



Your Excitement To Share Your Passions With Your Child Will Reignite Old Flames And Bring You Closer


Being a geek, in its truest form, is about finding joy in something. Whether it's movies, video games, or whatever, it's all about having passion in something. And when you can share that passion with your new reason for living, it only enhances your interests. Suddenly, you'll be racing to think of all the things you want to introduce to your child. Old books you loved, video games worth talking about and board games that demand playing. You'll remember a lot of things you used to love in your pursuit to bring it to the attention of your loved one. Because now you have someone new whom you can bring your joy to and have them become just as invested as you are.

Not only will this make you both happier, but it will also bring you closer together as a family unit. A geek family is a happy family because you're united in a common interest.





So there you have it. This is only the tip of the things you'll learn as a geek parent and of the joys you'll experience along the way. It'll be a trying journey at times, but it will ultimately bring you to a happier place of togetherness and serenity between you and your little one. Because being a geek parent isn't just about telling your kids all the comic trivia you know. It's about presenting your passion to someone you love and watching in wonder as they take your hand and join you on the nerdy path.

-Tom



Header Image Source, Source

Friday, May 9, 2014

How to Throw a Gamer Party

I would love to throw a really great themed party sometime. When my nephew had his Mario Party last year I was pretty jealous. I won't lie. Ever since then I've been thinking about what I could do for my next birthday (edit** I wrote this before my birthday last month, which ended up being Harry Potter themed. Check it out!), or for a 'just because' gathering. I found this amazing article on how to have a brilliant Harry Potter party and with that in mind I thought "How can I stand on her amazing shoulders?" and I've landed on a video game/gamer themed party!



Here are the topics I'll be covering:

::Entertainment

::Music

::Decorations

::Drinks

::Food

::Invitations

::Dress Code



Without further ado, here are my ideas for a totally awesome good time!



Entertainment:

wil wheaton table top screenshot 
via gamewright



Board games, card games, and video games galore! This category is so expansive that the options are practically limitless. I think it'd be great if everyone brought a game and the guests could do a speed run. So everyone would break into smaller groups of 3-4 people (you'll need to throw a big party!) and they have ten minutes to play a game. Obviously this facilitates simpler games. At the end of ten minutes the groups go to the next game. Repeat until all games have been played or until guests are bored. It would be a great way to introduce people to new titles! For summer days you could even do a round of CTF.

Suggestions:

Cards Against Humanity. Apples to Apples. Carcassonne. Settlers of Catan. Zombie Dice. Uno (bonus for Nintendo Uno!).  What other games would do well in a speed run?

For video games I think it would be a blast to setup an old school Mario title and have guests compete in a speed run. This would be ideally paired with a small prize. Perhaps a $10 Amazon gift card? Don't forget a stopwatch!

Some more traditional party games might be the "Who Am I?" game. Before the party starts, write down the name of every game console you can think of, or at least ones that you think  your guests will guess. Then later everyone can pair off, slap a slip of paper to their head and start asking questions! If you think this would be too simple (i.e. "Am I made by Nintendo?" "Was I a flop?" "Did I give children headaches?" "Aww dammit I'm the Virtual Boy! Thanks a lot!" *table flip*) you could do it but with game titles instead. That guarantees more questions! This could easily translate to a charades situation, too.



Music:

couple with a record player 
via rubbersoulvintageblog



This one is relatively minor because ideally your guests will be so chatty and involved with games that they won't want to sit and listen to music! But I also know that parties without  music can be super awkward. There are plenty of video game music stations on Pandora, but they're a real mixed bag, and Radio Hyrule is great so long as you're a fan of the Zelda series. You'll find luck with video game soundtrack playlists on Youtube as well, which gives you maximum customization. Go nuts!

Are there any game tracks that you think are particularly party appropriate?



Decorations:

falloutParty 
via fallout wikia



This aspect of the party will require some elbow grease and creativity. You could acquire a number of decorations from online stores, but parties are expensive enough! I would go for a 1 up mushroom garland and rupee shaped cut outs stuck to the wall, just for starters. If you have extra controllers (I happen to have about 8 NES controllers) you could place them as center pieces in social and eating areas. Any action figures or toys that you own wouldn't go amiss either! An easy way to make a large statement would be using construction paper to make a giant NES controller (I know I keep looping back to this, it's just so iconic) that can go up on a wall. Pin the Start Button on the controller, anyone? I guess that should go up in the Entertainment section x)

If you are willing to buy online then I suggest you do a search for Video Game Decorations on Etsy. The options of pillows, prints, and various decor is staggering and you're sure to find something that you like. Less expensive options are corked glass jars from Michael's/JoAnn's/online simply filled with water with a dash of food coloring (red, blue, and green for various potions), solid colored pillows to represent a palette from a game, and, if you own any, or know anyone that does that would let you borrow them, cardboard cutouts would be aces!



gamerPartyPreview 
A sampling of my own collection.



What else would you do to decorate?



Drinks:

drinks 
via nexusmods



Thanks to the clever masses, the Internet is filled with video game themed drinks! The Drunken Moogle is my personal favorite resource. A few that stand out in particular: The Sonic Screwdriver, Beck (Mighty No. 9 cocktail), Frozen Eeveelution Drinks, and Slayer's Blood (Buffy the Vampire Slayer shot). There are also plenty of non-alcoholic drinks to choose from! More options are glass bottled Coke for Fallout, jars of milk for Zelda, and lemonade for Pokemon. These things could be enhanced by making labels to tape or glue onto the containers: a simple red piece of paper that says 'Nuka Cola', a white piece of paper with the cow head and blue circle for Lon Lon Ranch (depending on which version you choose to go with), and a white strip of paper with a pokeball drawn on it.

You could modify nearly any drink to emulate a beverage from any game! If you have it in your budget you could get these amazing dragon goblets or even these less expensive jeweled ones.

If you could fashion a drink from a game, what would it be?



Food:

marioFood 
via abitofgeek



The first thing that came to mind was hot dogs. Why, you ask? Because I'm currently playing Final Fantasy 8 and they keep coming up in dialogue. It's really funny! Hot dogs are also super easy and inexpensive. For more diversity the best place, hands down, is Gourmet Gaming.  They're on a hiatus that's supposed to end soon, thank goodness, and they have a huge archive of food! You're sure to find any edible you could want, complete with photos, ingredients, and directions, as well as a gauge for how complicated the dish is. I'm most intrigued by this Moogle Pie!

Some additional ideas I have are power up mushroom decorated cupcakes, pizza from The Sims, sweet rolls from Skyrim, and don't forget wheels of cheese! I suggest the small ones from Babybel (found in any grocery store I think!).

What in-game food seems most delicious to you?



Invitations:

Harry Potter Invites 
via justsweetandsimple



To really round off the themed party experience it seems only appropriate to send out real invitations! What should they look like though? Obviously we can't use regular, boring, store bought things. We have to spice them up to let the potential guests know that something special is going to happen. I think it'd be awesome to make aged scrolls like in Skyrim. You could even tie them with twine, or seal them with wax! If you chose to roll them up then they would probably need to be hand delivered. Otherwise folding would work just fine, and that way you could still go the wax seal route. It would also be fun to do letters on pink paper like they're from Princess Peach (be sure to include a Power Up drawing), or even individually marked up Pokemail paper. The possibilities are endless!



Dress code:

via DeviantArt 
via DeviantArt



Normally I don't give a spare thought to a dress code, but in this instance it's so obvious: come as a video game character! Encourage guests to make this as involved and exciting as possible. Even if they can only incorporate a small aspect of a costume that's still okay! I'd probably make a note in the invitations that even if they can't go all out then to do their best anyway. It's a theme party, for crying out loud! No street clothes. Of course if you're anything like me then you have found it difficult to get friends to dress up for Halloween parties (how is that even possible?), so perhaps this one should be optional.
controllerArrows2

And there you have it! My tips, ideas, and barely contained excitement on how to throw a video game/gamer themed party! Have you ever done something like this? If so did you find success? What would YOU include in your gamer party?



-MJ

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Ten Reasons to Watch Sword Art Online


Sword Art Online is an anime about the world of virtual gaming in the year 2022. Akihiko Kayaba, the developer of the Nerve Gear (the equipment used by the player to enter the virtual world), has released a highly anticipated game, "Sword Art Online". The show is told from the point of view of "Kirito" (his chosen in-game name). Kirito was one of the lucky 1000 players to be chosen for the beta testing for Sword Art Online, so he already knows his way around. What he wasn't expecting, however, was for Kayaba to appear and announce to all the players that they cannot log out. Instead, they are stuck in the game until all 100 bosses are defeated. Until then, the Nerve Gear will fry each person's brain if the equipment is removed. Also, die in the game, die in real life. Although Kirito is a "solo" player, he does team up with Asuna, another strong player (and of course, his love interest), quite a lot. Together, they make an unstoppable duo.

So if that description wasn't enough to convince you, here are ten reasons why you should watch it!



1. Virtual Reality

The portrayal of virtual reality in this show is honestly beautiful. The Nerve Gear (a helmet), which basically serves as the console, uses microwaves to connect to the player's brain, thus giving the player the ability to move their in-game body. So, pop the Nerve Gear on, start the game, and you're in a whole new body. Now, normally, if you died in-game, your character would just regenerate in a new spot. No pain felt, no harm done. Of course, this isn't the case in SAO (Sword Art Online).

Consider the possibilities! Actually running around, exploring a whole new world, fighting bosses, treasure hunting, using spells and magic...the list goes on.



Consider the possibilities! If I could play Skyrim as an actual avatar, I would just shit, you guys.  
If I could play Skyrim as an actual avatar, I would just shit myself from joy. source





2. The (eerily) Realistic Portrayal of Human Nature

Because this game is literally a fight to the death, most people trapped in Sword Art tend to shy away from any type of violence. The dynamics of society begin to lean towards survival the way we know it; some people join the military and fight on the front lines, and the rest of the population stands back and builds a life for themselves while they can. Oftentimes, the only thing that keeps Kirito and Asuna motivated to continue fighting is the thought that they are fighting for all of those in the game that cannot fight for themselves. After all, consider the facts: there are many people playing this game who do not have the strength to fight. Their only intention upon logging in to SAO was to play a game...you know, for fun. Imagine attending a paintball fight only to find out the guns are filled with bullets and not paintballs. Kind of takes the fun out of it.



That isn't red paint.  
That isn't red paint. source



And on the subject of death, let's talk about the mentally unstable. There are those in SAO who kill people. There are also murdering guilds, like the Laughing Coffin. If it were any other game, this wouldn't be such a big deal. People wouldn't actually be getting killed. But in SAO, you die in the game, you die in real life. And because it's easy to kill someone (there's no mess, no body to deal with) there is usually zero remorse. It's like that movie The Purge; given the opportunity and with zero consequences, humans may or may not begin to kill each other. It's truly terrifying to consider. But it's damn good TV.



3. The Sappy Love Story

I know, I know, why does every anime have to have some kind of cheesy romance plot? Because it's realistic, you jerks. Seriously. If you were trapped for two years fighting for your survival, side by side with a strong, attractive man or woman, wouldn't you start to fall in love? It goes right back to human nature. It would begin as companionate love; two people experiencing the same life-changing events, synchronizing combat techniques, having only each other to entertain and take care of. Then it would blossom into something much more than that. How can you go back from something so disturbing, so frightening, without maintaining the relationships you built while you were there? It's only human to fall in love with someone who has seen you at your worst and still chooses to stick around.



And a collective squeal was heard throughout the world.  
And a collective squeal was heard throughout the world. source





4. The Avatar

Akihiko Kayaba is a sick man. But he's also brilliant. Hear me out! I'm not condoning what he did. I'm just saying the man is a genius. Not only did he develop the Nerve Gear and the program that controls whether the players live or die, but he really got in to the mental aspect of it. When Kayaba makes his announcement to the players of SAO, one of the first things to happen is the stripping of their customized avatars. Suddenly, everyone looks exactly like they do in the real world. With some players, like Kirito, this doesn't make a huge difference--he only made himself look slightly older. But with others, it made all the difference in the world. You can choose your gender, age, body type; whatever you want. So having that taken away and revealing your true self has a major impact on your confidence. Imagine playing the game with an avatar that was seven feet tall and three hundred pounds; then you are forced to play out the game as your own five-foot-five one-hundred-twenty pound self. Not the most intimidating. Plus, you lose all that potential strength. Kayaba truly wanted the players of SAO to battle for their survival. He couldn't create that in real life, so he forced it on the people in the virtual world.



Keanu? 
Keanu? source





5. The Boss Fights

Of course, another genius creation of Kayaba would be the multiple bosses that need to be defeated in order for the players to escape SAO. He announces there are one hundred bosses to be defeated, one per floor in his creation, the Aincrad Arc. The players must first find the lair of the boss, and then team up to beat it. A lot of these monsters have surprises in store, however, and occasionally it's too late by the time they're realized. Kirito and Asuna must learn what they can about these boss fights to improve their skills for the next boss, to defeat the game and survive.



Fuck this thing.  
Fuck this thing. source





6. Making Friends

Kirito and Asuna could not fight this fight on their own. They need friends. Luckily, they have plenty of wonderful people by their side, willing to do whatever they can, even die, just to make sure they survive. Kirito meets Klein right at the beginning, before they even realize that they cannot log out of SAO. Klein is a strong, yet lighthearted, guy who always has so much confidence in Kirito. Agil is another friend of Kirito's. He runs a shop in Aincrad, but also fights on the front lines when he's needed. Lisbeth is a friend of Asuna's, a blacksmith. She soon becomes Kirito's exclusive blacksmith. Silica is a spunky "beast-tamer"  with a small dragon named Pina whom Kirito helps her save. Kirito's love for Silica stems from her similarity to his little sister in the real world. Without these wonderful friends they've gained, they could not have made it through many battles. It's important in a good story line to have friends in multiple places; otherwise, you probably wouldn't get very far at all. These characters also provide good comic relief, which is always necessary in a dark plot. Not only that, but these are real people too, just like Asuna and Kirito. We see their struggles and pain, and we root for them as well. Personally, Klein is one of my favorite characters. He has a very legitimate personality as a geeky gamer in his twenties, but still has a head on his shoulder and wants to kick ass and log out.



36347-sword-art-online-agil-asuna-sao-kirito-klein-lisbeth-silica2d7d57bb82b7438b63ca5f7edafd95db-1-1 
I'll be there for youuuu, 'cuz you're there for me tooooooo  source





7. The Black Swordsman and The Flash

Who are the Black Swordsman and the Flash? Why, Kirito and Asuna, of course! These are badass nicknames they've earned in-game for their incomparable skills and power-leveling. Kirito is a dual-wielder (sorry, bit of a spoiler, but also sort of not), a skill unique to him. Mostly he doesn't use this skill, because other players will see it and get angry that they can't have that skill as well. In a fight to the death, being unable to attain a certain skill becomes more than just a petty annoyance. Kirito fights with heavy, durable weapons, and perfects his techniques by training tirelessly. He's extremely fast, but not as fast as Asuna (aka The Flash, or "Lightning Flash" in the English dub). Her speed is unlike any other player's. Her small size and strong sword-fighting skills make her the perfect companion to Kirito's surprise attacks. These two are legend within SAO, and for good reason. Watching them fight is beautiful and incredible. They are truly the perfect match.



Gives new meaning to the phrase "power couple".  
Gives new meaning to the phrase "power couple". source





8. Plot Holes? What Plot Holes?

So what are those bodies in the real world up to? Akihiko Kayaba doesn't want everyone dying of thirst within the week, so he made sure to make his plans public in the real world as well. He even instructed people not to remove the Nerve Gear from their loved ones. Asuna mentions at one point how a lot of players went offline, sort of into a coma, for a bit while their bodies were being moved to the hospital. Kirito mentions how the Nerve Gear has an internal battery, so even if the device was unplugged, it would remain logged in. And so all the people in SAO are being kept alive in hospitals in the real world. In one particularly emotional scene, Asuna and Kirito discuss how they wish they could just stay in SAO together; but then Asuna reminds Kirito that their real bodies will not survive very long on life support in the real world, and they need to continue fighting if they want to live.



a (sort of?) easy way to grow your hair out.  
A (sort of?) easy way to grow your hair out. source





9. Always a Cliffhanger

Warning: this series is highly addictive. Every episode leaves you wanting more. I'm finished with season one and I'm frothing at the mouth waiting for season two! I am currently re-watching it with Zach, since he's never seen it before, and we can't ever just watch one episode at a time. He always wants to watch more. When we're not watching it, we'll start to discuss it. Zach will tell me what he thinks will happen next, or he will ask me a question to help him fill in the blanks. It's a really good show, and watching it with a friend or significant other makes it even better!



What? No...wrong cliffhan--nevermind.  
What? No...wrong cliffhan--uh, nevermind. source





10. Life After Sword Art Online

I won't go into much detail here, other than to tell you that yes, there is life after SAO. And no, virtual reality is not banned. It still exists. More and more games will be released for virtual reality consoles. That's all I'm going to say. You'll have to watch to find out more!



Wait, what the hell is that? 
Wait, what the hell is that? source





Season one of Sword Art Online is available on Netflix right now! If you haven't already watched it, please start now!

Have you already watched it (or read the manga)? Tell us what you think!





-Rachel



*Teaser image source

Monday, May 5, 2014

Final Fantasy 8 Diary - Entry 11

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Reaction Diaries - Jeremy and the Magical Growing Tattoo.

Bro listen, sometimes you get so swole from lifting you have to tear your shirt off. Just ask Jeremy Gilbert.







-Rachel and MJ

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