PAX prime approaches!

One of my favorite events of the year is next weekend – the Penny Arcade Expo. It’s a blast every year, but it’s pretty much impossible for a nerd like me to not love it. I love being able to demo upcoming games, especially the indie games that I’ve never heard of but end up loving. My favorite part is all the rooms where you can basically rent and play any video game or board game you can think of, including old and obscure ones. Not to mention the room full of free arcade and pinball games. And the cosplaying. And the tournaments. And and and

Okay, I’m kind of excited.

This year PAX is 4 days instead of 3, so I may actually attend more than one panel thanks to the extra time. I see that there’s an interesting looking one on Videogames in Medicine run by a UW professor, so I may have to check that out. There are a TON of panels on gender, sexuality, diversity, not being an asshole on the internet…but honestly I’m pretty burnt out on those topics, so I doubt I’ll go. But I’m glad they still exist for anyone else who is interested. Even though the people who need to hear it the most probably aren’t the ones who go…

And of course I’m excited about the tournaments too, which are really just an excuse to play more games with random people. But the competitive aspect makes it extra fun. I may try the 7 Wonders board game tournament, but expect to get my ass kicked. I’ll definitely try the Mario Kart Wii tournament, which is one of the few games I actually feel confident in.

I would say I’m excited to be able to rent my favorite old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game…but an arcade right by my house just got the arcade version! So much for stockpiling all of those extra quarters for laundry.

Is anyone else going to PAX? What are you looking forward to most?

PAX is almost here!

As you probably know, I’m a huge gamer and geek. I also live in Seattle. Which means over the next three days, I will be in absolute glee at the Penny Arcade Expo. I’m going to try my luck in the Mario Kart: Double Dash tournament and have a  blast checking out all the new and indie games. I might pass on the Pokemon League this year, since I’m not sure if I want to get my ass handed to me yet again. A lot of the panels seem interesting too. There are two – two! – panels on transgender gamers and game characters, a sex and gaming panel, a harassment panel, and I’ll be sure to check out “On God and Gaming.” Maybe I should make a protest sign along the lines of “BUT RELIGION BY DEFINITION HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH VIDEO GAMES! SPLITTERS!”

Is anyone else going to PAX? Make sure to say hello if you spot me there!

What video games are you looking forward to?

I’m absolutely itching to play the new Civilization 5 expansion, Gods and Kings. I’m such a fan that I’ll buy almost anything Civ craps out, but I’m legitimately excited about  this expansion…because it brings back religion.

I know, I know. It’s a little ironic for me to be excited about religion. But I love winning the game through peace and manipulation instead of all out warfare. I just find wars tedious and not as fun as developing my nation’s culture and infrastructure. Religion is a great way to spread culture, make money, and manipulate other countries into being your friends (or enemies). And this time you get to customize the traits of your religion to fit your needs, instead of all of the different religions being effectively the same.

I’m also dying for Skulls of the Shogun to come out, but who knows when that’ll be released. I played it at PAX last August and it’s still not out!

And while this isn’t a new game…I’m newly addicted to Tropico 4. What can I say, I love strategy games. Not to mention it has one of the best soundtracks ever. I’ve caught myself humming the songs all the time.

What video games are you looking forward to or currently addicted to? Do you have any suggestions for a new game my boyfriend and I can play together? We’ve beaten just about everything there is to beat in Dungeon Defenders. …Well, except that stupid Genie expansion level, because seriously, fuck that level. It’s not even Fun Hard…it’s just stupidly irritating.

This is post 24 of 49 of Blogathon. Donate to the Secular Student Alliance here.

RIP Borimor

Borimor the Apprentice

1/15/2012 – 2/14/2012

The video game gods are cruel when they take away our characters before our time. My boyfriend and I hoped dear old Borimor would pass away peacefully from old age (aka when we lost interest in Dungeon Defenders), but no. He was snatched away from us just shy of his 40th level, all because of an accidental bump of a controller and poor menu design. He will be fondly remembered, even though my boyfriend always called him Boromir by mistake.

Seriously though, Dungeon Defender’s menu designs are just awful. The game is fun enough that we’ve been totally addicted, but I could really do without the insane menus. Especially when the difference between selecting your character and deleting your character is a single click on the joystick.

Thankfully after a day of mourning, we moved on. My boyfriend started a new Archer, I started a new Monk (named Mendel). And because we’re dorks, we keep my old Squire on a third controller because we need his blockades in order to beat the levels.

For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about…just nod and move along.

The matriarchy is coming for your video games

Video games are no longer safe from our lady-clutches! Why, they’re starting to have female characters in them that aren’t totally worthless or in need of saving! And this has a lot of MRAs worried:

I call bullshit on this subject. Video games are the last place for guys to hang out and now women are taking over. Why not just save us the trouble and instead of eliminating our fantasy world just throw us in work camp to provide for thier bastard children (literally speaking) while they shit all over us…wait they already do that.

Oh noes, a space where we have to allow ladies?! How totally unfair! What does this takeover include? Why, portraying women as competent and equal to men:

You’ll see the same thing in most stat-based role-playing games as well, where you have the option of a female player character – like Fallout, Elder Scrolls, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, D&D, etc. The women never have any strength or intelligence penalties compared to the males. … They want to give the impression that people of any race, gender, and sexual-orientation are interchangeable – that there are no differences in ability between them, and that only a bigot could think otherwise. I’m sick of it too.

What do MRAs consider an accurate portrayal of women in video games?

It would be hilarious to portray the female characters realistically. If you chose the female character in your FPS [First Person Shooter] she would have to move very slowly, dragging the gun around. You could build in some extra shake to the crosshairs to represent hopeless accuracy. Every time you needed to reload your gun, instead of just pressing a button, you’d have to find a male character and go through some flirting dialogue options to persuade him to do it for you. One out of every four missions the game would tell you that you were sitting out this one due to ‘women’s issues’.

I’m sure women in the military would have a thing or two to say to this guy. You should read the rest of the silliness (like how Lara Croft somehow oppresses men) over at Man Boobz.

While we’re on the topic of video games: My boyfriend and I only have one level left in the expansion pack of Pixel Junk Monsters, and we’re looking for a new game to play together. We’re patiently waiting for Skulls of the Shogun since we loved it at PAX, but who knows when it will finally be released. And we can’t play Civ 5 together (yet) because my desktop computer is on the fritz. Does anyone have recommendations for good multiplayer strategy/tower defense/tactical type games? Co-op prefered but not required. (EDIT: We have a Wii, PS3, XBOX360, and PCs, so platform is irrelevant).

Recommendations are appreciated. Because, you know, I have to love strategy video games in order to invade his one last man space and enslave him. Not because we enjoy playing them with each other or something.

Kitten assimilation has begun

We’ve named her Pixel. It seems appropriate – she’s already thinking with Portals:

And helping me blog:

And appreciating my nerdy coffee table books:

And helping out my roommate as he plays video games:

She even managed to mark all of my Google Reader items as read as she pawed at my laptop. I think that’s her way of saying “Stop reading blogs and pet me!”

My life is weird

As I was mulling around some indie games at PAX, a very familiar face approached me. Very familiar, because I was certain it was Jerry Holkins, the writer of Penny Arcade (“Tycho”) and half of the duo putting on the very awesome convention I was currently enjoying.

“Don’t I know you?” he asked.

“Uhhhhh.” I glanced down at his name tag. Yep, Jerry Holkins. “I know you, but I’m pretty sure you don’t know me.”

Keep in mind the expo hall was super loud with the various bells and whistles of video games going off in the background, so it was hard to hear what he was saying. Plus I was very confused. And a little fangirly.

He asked me if I had a game there, and I said no. Now I was convinced he was mistaking me for someone. But then he seemed to remember something and said something about seeing me holding up a sign, but that just confused me more. I don’t remember holding up a sign anywhere.

Then he said “I followed all of Elevatorgate!”

Wut.

I then realized the “sign” he was referring to was my profile photo here. I was a little dumbstruck, and bumbled out something along the lines “You read my blog?” Yep.

We then babbled about the atheist movement for a good while and giggled about how stupid the internet can be sometimes. And how happy he was to run into me. And how happy I was to run into him.

I’ve oddly gotten very used to strangers approaching me (which also happened a couple of times today). Within the last year I’ve gotten used to famous people within the atheist or skeptical movement approaching me. But I’m definitely not used to someone from a totally different corner of the internet I appreciate approaching me.

Yeah, my life is really freaking weird.

And as an unrelated PAX update – I collected six gym badges today. Though to be honest, one was because I came up with a Pokemon haiku, another was because the IR connection kept glitching, and the third was because I was a “good sport” as I got my ass kicked. I’m going for the Ash Ketchum route to the Elite Four. I have no shame.

The church for gamer geeks

Oh goodie. I was already super excited for PAX – my cosplay outfit is done and my Pokemon team is all ready – but now I have a new thing to look forward to. What could possibly top three days of the largest video game conference in the US?

Church!

GameChurch.com has a booth at PAX. The site hosts game reviews from a Christian perspective, a “Strategy Guide for Life,” and a geekified version of the Bible titled “Jesus, For The Win!” From the introduction (yes, I couldn’t not download it):

“But wait! How can you be a Christian and kill zombies, cast spells and shoot someone?!? Isn’t that hypocritical!?!? I get that question from Churches and also from people that don’t want anything to do with Christians. It’s unfortunate that it’s even a topic. We’re ALL hypocrites. Every last human. Video games are not the problem. The problem is that we have complicated the message that Jesus brought to us. And yes, I do believe He would be leveling up with me in World of Warcraft.”

I can see it now. “Starving children in Africa? But daaaad, I’m in the middle of a raid!”

I can’t stop reading this thing, it’s full of terrible gems:

“Jesus… many people see Him like Gandhi, or the Pope. He was a good guy, maybe even a prophet, who died before I was born and has nothing to do with me. What if you found out that Jesus is not who the world says He is? What if you heard that Jesus came to Earth and hung out with stinky fisherman and prostitutes? What if He spent His time with tax collectors and people who were looked down upon by “higher society?” What if Jesus came to Earth for the GAMERS? Despite what you may have heard before, He did! Jesus loves Gamers, just as much as He loves thieves, soccer moms, and even pastors. Jesus came to PWN the Devil and save the world for YOU.”

Bahaha. I don’t even need to add my own commentary, do I?

I’m not going to lie. Part of me wants to stop by their booth for the chance that they’ll have some ironic free swag. I would definitely love a shirt about Jesus respawning (their words, not mine). The only difference is I realize magical Jesus is about as real as Zelda or Mario.

LAN bans women to protect them from misogynists

A LAN party for Battlefield 3 in Texas had this lovely bit of logic in its rules:

Nothing ruins a good LAN party like uncomfortable guests or lots of tension, both of which can result from mixing immature, misogynistic male-gamers with female counterparts. Though we’ve done our best to avoid these situations in years past, we’ve certainly had our share of problems. As a result, we no longer allow women to attend this event.

Yes. To protect the women from misogynistic assholes, we must ban the women. Instead of, you know, banning the misogynistic assholes.

That popping sound was my brain exploding.

This is post 37 of 49 of Blogathon. Pledge a donation to the Secular Student Alliance here.