Wednesday, October 31, 2012

I'd Like to Thank the Academy...The Liebster Blog Award

I return from my short absence with good news: I was nominated for a Liebster blog award! For those of you who don't know, this award is passed along from new blogger to new blogger as a way of saying "I like what you're doing. Keep up the good work!". Liebster is a German term of endearment.

(It's really just a blogger chain letter. But it doesn't involve your crush kissing you or tragic death in any way, so it's a letter you actually want to receive and pass along.)

Thank you, Carissa (from Lillies & Silk)! Your blog is fantastic by the way.

When you receive the award, you're supposed to post 11 random things about yourself, answer 11 questions from the person who nominated you, nominate 11 blogs of your own and post 11 questions for them to respond to. The best thing about this is that it's for blogs with less than 200 followers (Check my numbers; I'm not even close), so it's a great way to get exposure as well as connect with others.

Here's 11 random video game related facts about myself:
1.) I only own a Playstation 2 because a friend of mine got two for Christmas. He gave me all the games he didn't want, but I'm still very grateful.
2.) Many people honestly believe that I own a pink Wii. I wish I did.
Why don't I own this?!?

3.) If I play a game where I can decide my character's name, I choose either Jessica or Fox. Link is always named Jessica.
4.) I get extremely excited whenever I hear the main theme to Super Mario Galaxy 2.
5.) I played clarinet in high school, but I joined a saxophone group just so I could play the Super Mario theme with them for one performance.
6.) I only paid $1 for the DS that I have now. It came with Pokemon Pearl.
The deal of the century.
7.) There was a point in time where the workers at my local GameStop addressed me by name and spoke to me like we were old friends.
8.) I still have the original box and additional materials for my Nintendo 64. Including the old Nintendo Power magazine offer cards.
9.) When the colored Nintendo 64's came out, my mother suggested that I paint my dark grey one with nail polish. She was joking, but I considered it.
I only didn't do it because it wouldn't be transparent.
10.) My older cousin once carried me out of Target like a sack of potatoes because I didn't stop playing the in-store game demo console fast enough. I was just reseting it for the boy behind me. After all these years, I am still mad about it.
11.) I don't celebrate Halloween, but I would dress up as Princess Rosalina at least once if I did (Happy Halloween to those of you celebrating today).

The 11 Questions for Carissa's Nominees:
1. When did you start your blog?
July of this year after a previous failed attempt.
2. What made you decide to start blogging?
I want to be a writer. It was about time I started writing something.
3. What goals did you have for your blog when you started and have they changed now?
My initial goal was to start writing. Now my goal is to keep writing. 
4. What are your hobbies?
Playing video games, reading, writing, drawing, shopping, eating, magazine collaging.
5. Do you enjoy movies and if so what are your favorite two?
I love movies. My favorite two are Pocahontas and Taken. 
The colors of the wind: a rainbow.
The color of revenge: blood red.
6. What season is your favorite and why?
Fall. It's the best fashion season and pumpkin is in everything. 
Pure awesome in a liquid form.
7. If you could do one thing at this moment what would it be?
I wouldn't do my homework if I could still get a A.
8. Do you have any pets and if so what kind of pet is it?
Not at the moment. My mother has a Pomeranian but he doesn't like me so I don't claim him.
9. What is your favorite color?
Electric Blue Metallic.
A picture for reference.
10. What are you grateful for the most?
My life and the ability to get an education at the college of my choice while living in the best residence hall/apartment on campus with the best roommates ever. It's all thanks to God and my mother. 
11. What is your biggest fear?
Pregnancy and childbirth. No joke. Right now "I don't know nothin' about birthin' no babies" and I don't want to.

And here are my 11 nominees:
1.) Holly at Nintendo Lifeline
2.) Nicola at ChibiChic
3.) Zack at Nintendo Gamer Thoughts
4.) GurlNxtDoor at Gurl on Girl-Gaming
5.) Jessica at Southern Ramblings
6.) Miss Tattoo at Tattoos and Lace
7.) The Sorting House
8.) Jessica at Diary of a Young Adults Divorce
9.) Michelle at Michy Nails 
10.) Seabo at 3 Years in the Merde
11.) Brandi at Cupcakes and Curves

And my 11 questions for them:
1.) How did you come up with the name of your blog?
2.) Can you see yourself still blogging 5 years from now?
3.) If you won the lottery right now (the Mega Millions jackpot is at 32 million at the moment), what would you do?
4.) If you could only eat one food, everyday, for every meal, for the rest of your life, what would it be?
5.) Do you like to read? If so, what are some your favorite reading materials?
6.) Who would play you if your life was a movie?
7.) What songs would be on the soundtrack of your life?
8.) What are some of your hobbies?
9.) What are some of your talents?
10.) What was/is your least favorite subject in school?
11.) What is your favorite color?

Consider this a virtual pat on the back, from me to you.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Are Boys Really Better Gamers Than Girls?

She's not losing because of her gender; she just can't see the screen.

Now in the interest of actually writing a full blog entry, I'll explain myself. In the recent post Are Boys Better Gamers Than Girls?, Holly over at Nintendo Lifeline argues that males are naturally more skilled at playing video games. Now while her points are valid, I just can't agree. This isn't just my feminist side valiantly sticking up for all the girls out there, I really believe that natural, physical gender is not really a factor here.

Though males are considered to be more agressive and have better reflexes, doesn't this have more to do with gender norms and stereotypes than anything else? Girls are given baby dolls; boys are given baseball bats. Girls are urged to be more patient and nurturing while boys are allowed to fight and argue. And females are also pushed to preform artistically (in mediums like dance), while guys are pushed to be perform competitively (in mediums like sports). In the end, males don't have a natural advantage here, society gives them one...or at least tries to.

"Tries to" is the important part here because the generalization that boys are better at video games is just like any other gender stereotype that you've heard before. It's not true. Just because males are more inclined to be the agressive competitive type, this doesn't mean that there isn't just as many girls out there that behave the same way. Certain individuals might be so skilled that they can pick up any game and destroy even the most hardened veteran, but to jump and say that this trait goes across the entire gender is a bit unfair. Actually, I think that video games is one the only examples of an activity where the playing field is almost equal on both sides. Gender doesn't really matter when you're pressing buttons.

And I also operate under the assumption that if there are exceptions, there is no rule...So since I'm not very good at puzzle games and my brother refuses to play Super Smash Bros. with me because he doesn't even stand a chance, I'm pretty sure that gender really doesn't matter that much. 

But what do you think: Are boys better gamers than girls?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Replay Value--Can You Play the Same Game Twice?

If you play a game more than one time, are you "going green"?

Everyone likes to talk about a game's replay value when discussing its pros and cons, but does anyone take the time to play a game twice?

I ask because I usually don't. No matter how awesome an adventure is, I rarely have the patience to sit through anything a second time. There are a few exceptions to my unwritten one-time-only rule. After my eight year struggle with Super Mario 64, I turned the game inside out, playing it multiple times in a row and mastering all of the sequence-breaking glitches. And when my first trip through Luigi's Mansion ended with only the second best rank, I immediately ran through the entire game again, just so that I could get enough money to afford the best house available.

But when it really comes down to it, I don't particularly care about a game's ability to be withstand a second playthrough...I automatically assume that after I finish a title for the first time, I'll never play it again.

Is replay value something you take into consideration when purchasing a game? Have you ever loved a game enough to play it more than once?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Virtual to Reality--Kairi Takes a Lesson in Fashion But Not Personality

Kingdom Hearts--Kairi .Since we are on the topic of Kingdom Hearts inspired clothing, let's talk about Kairi. While she might not be the most dynamic of characters (face it, she's just there to be "the girl" of the group), she is one of the most fashionable.

When Kairi first appeared in the original game, her clothing was pretty basic, as a cute little girl's outfit should be. But when she showed up in the second installment, it was clear that her character not only matured physically and mentally, but also underwent a major style upgrade. Kairi's new design was a perfect combination of feminine appeal and casual comfort that matched the style of the series very well. 

If only she could actually do something for a change...

Who's your favorite Kingdom Hearts character?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wish List--Kingdom Hearts Organization XIII Jacket

Accept darkness and live in the light.
Oh, the convoluted gem that is Kingdom Hearts...

Overlooking the random side entries that seem to have taken over the canon, I still consider KH one of the best game series ever made. And though it sometimes seems like III will never come, the wait for the next main installment wouldn't be too long with this hoodie. Its brillance lies in the fact that it's so simple that it doesn't scream "cosplay" so you could wear it from day to day, but it's detailed enough for fans of the series to take notice.

You can find this and a few other similar jackets on Etsy.

Are you fan of Kingdom Hearts? Are you still excited for III or ready to move on?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Gamers Rock the Vote

One guess who I'm voting for.
Today is the last day you can to register to for the general election on Tuesday, November 6th. If you haven't filled out the necessary paperwork...

Nudge, nudge. Hint, hint. Time is running out.

This is important stuff, you know; more important than video games and fashion combined. The future of our country is at stake, after all. Don't you want to have your say?

Monday, October 8, 2012

"For Girls Only"--Nintendo Invites Females to the World of Video Games

Don't be fooled; pretty girls don't play games.
As a long time fan of Nintendo, I like to say that they can do no wrong in my eyes. "SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY" and all that. But with their new ad campaign, they have hit me and all video game loving girls where it counts: right in the chromosomes.

I wasn't originally going to write about Nintendo's "I am not a gamer" videos. Seeing them on the company's YouTube channel, I was mostly unmoved. After reading Zack at Nintendo Gamer Thoughts's article ""I am not a gamer': Nintendo's Identity Crisis" (check that out, interesting read), I sat on the topic for a few days, unsure how to respond.

And then I got mad

Here's one, just in case you haven't had the pleasure of seeing it:

The commercials themselves are, for lack of a better word, stupid. As a natural sceptic, I don't trust spokespeople and automatically assume that they are just in it for the money (because let's be honest, they are). So, having a "celebrity" come right out and say that they don't normally use the product is a huge fail in my eyes. I discounted these advertisements as a minor misstep. The fact that the two commercials both star young females stating that they don't normally play video games must be a coincidence, right? Right?

Don't worry if you're the wrong gender, Nintendo's got you covered.

Nope. Not on your life. Nintendo doesn't just imply that girls don't play video games, they separate the commercials into an unique playlist which has a name that spells it out for anyone who didn't quite get it (which includes me, the bright eyed fangirl).

I understand the facts: as a girl gamer, I am part of an exclusive minority. Most of the girls around me wouldn't pick up a controller to save their life and even if they did, they probably wouldn't know how to use it. And yes, when they see these commercials, the "brilliant" pitch might inspire to buy one of these titles. But they aren't the ones paying attention these videos; the girl gamers are. And ignoring the fact that a lot of girls do play video games and behaving as if females need their own little section and a formal invitation to usher them into gaming is ridiculous. Last time I checked, the medium was not a "gentleman's club".

Thanks for the invite, Nintendo. Too bad I never thought I needed it. 

Male or female, gamer or not, how do you feel about Nintendo's new ad campaign? 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Money and Sacrifice: When A Game is More Important Than Anything Else

My wallet. Note it's emptiness.
Everyone knows that playing video games is an expensive habit. It goes without saying that video game companies always have one hand on our pulse while the other is going through our wallets. But I don't think anyone really thinks about how it feels to be forced to sit back and watch the medium roll on without you because you just don't have the cash to keep up. 

It burns, just in case you don't know.

There are good deals out hidden in the world: reward/loyalty programs, trade-ins, online discounts, friends and family, really cool thrift stores...It is possible to save a dime; you just have to know how to shop around.

And there's always the most difficult option: good ol' fashioned sacrifice. Nothing's better than deciding that a shiny new video game is much more important than anything else your money could go toward.

My sacrifice tends to be personal copies of books for school because as an English major, I can pretty much find any book I need at a library or free online. Plus, there's always a helpful friend willing to let me share/borrow/buy their hand-me-downs. It gets a bit tougher when exams come around, but there's nothing foresight and good planning can't handle.

Of course, this money-saving method can go too far. Let me tell you, I have watched people choose games over bills and it never ends well. You have to maintain some sort of responsibility, unless you want to be rolling in debt. I wouldn't recommend such things but to each their own...

So, have you ever gone without to get the top game on your wish list? Do you have any go-to ways to save money or do you usually bite the bullet and pay the full retail price?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

(Not) Playing Video Games Ruined Your Childhood

Could the same be said about video games?
Everyone has their own ideas on the basic activities that make up a "normal" childhood: twisting and spinning around on a playground swing, building up speed to jump on a grocery store cart, waking up early to watch Saturday morning cartoons...

As a long-time video game lover, I couldn't even imagine life without the joy of staying up past bedtime to finish just one last level. But a recent conversation with one of my close friends reminded me that some people never had the wonderful experience of growing up in a virtual world.

This isn't about people who just don't like video games (that's a whole different conversation, let's save that one for later...). This is about people whose parents don't allow video games in their household for whatever reason. In my friend's case, her mother decided that there were better ways for her daughter to spend her free time. Recreation was found in big museums and thick books instead of game consoles and imaginary adventures on the TV screen. While money might have been a factor, as it often is when it comes to games, the main reason seemed to be that video games were a waste of time...for lack of a better way to put it. You know, one that is less offensive to a video game connoisseur like me.

While I respect her mother's decision and understand it almost completely, I'm uncomfortable with how it puts my childhood in a negative light. I don't feel as if I missed out on cultural experiences or learning opportunities by spending time indoors with a controller when I could have been perusing an art gallery. And my passion for reading and large book collection was never affected by my deep gaming habit (The only time I've ever spent in a museum was a summer volunteer position which was not the best time in the world...).

I automatically thought that by never playing video games, my friend didn't have a "real" childhood. Of course that's not true; it was just the first thing that came to my extremely gaming-centric mind. But are the gamers the ones that missed out?

Are video games a basic part of childhood or a just pointless distraction? Did you grow up without games because of your parents' rules?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Wish List--Running Low on Health? Get a Heart Container Meter Necklace

It's dangerous to go alone...
Haven't you always wanted a life meter to display your health status for all the world to see? 

No? That's just me?...

Well, if you never dreamt of such things, you still can't deny the appeal of this wonderful piece of Zelda inspired jewelry. A necklace this awesome could (and should) be appreciated by anyone, even someone who has no idea what it's supposed to be.

The coolest thing about this necklace is that it's creator is willing to customize it for you so the hearts are as full or as empty as you want them to be. Great if you're feeling absolutely fantastic/excruciatingly crappy and you want everyone to know. And bonus: you never have to worry about an annoying warning sound or a companion getting on your nerves...

Find this on Etsy.
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