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Uncle Yo

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Stand Up Zenkaikon

I’ve known of Uncle Yo for several years now. He’s been at nearly every convention I’ve been to and the first time I sat in on one of his shows, I was newish to anime and I didn’t understand every reference made and that was fine, I laughed at the ones I understood and sometimes just laughed with everyone else. It was infectious. A crowd of people sat around me, laughing till they cried, huge fans of the man on stage. At that time, he was just a comedian at a convention (my first ever) and a fun part of a hugely overwhelming experience that I was terrified to dip my toe into. Never did I realize I would later do a cannonball screaming like a lunatic later, into that very same nerd pool.

At Too Many Games 2016, I made a new friend and was talking excitedly about my first press pass. How scary it was, how exciting it was but deep down I was so self conscious about what I was doing, who was I talking to. Hell, Doug Walker was there and I’m a big fan of the Nostalgia Critic, I was even too nervous to show that man how much his work meant to me. Instead, I made a stalking joke (like I do). He laughed genuinely and went on his way.

Anyway, I had seen Uncle Yo the night before, like I had many times by now (even watching him online) and my new friend Sean says, “You should interview him! Let’s go find him!” I’m not sure I even agreed to this but off we were to find Uncle Yo, who was playing some retro game in the game room. Sean interrupts his play and says I want to interview him, he says of course and off we go.

Now I’m in full blown panic, I’ve not prepped for an interview… I’ve only done one, ONE IN MY WHOLE LIFE and THAT I was only mostly prepared for. One quiet(ish) room later and I’m sitting there giving the most awkward interview of, I assume, both our lives. My questions are random, not connected and I’m swallowing that panic attack like a champ. After the interview, I must have apologized a dozen times (I even apologized later in the evening) but he never said a negative thing. ‘NOOOO, it was fine!’ I can still hear it in his voice. I sucked it up, put the article up there and moved on.

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Cosplay Masquerade Ball, Zenkaikon 2017

Can you imagine my shock when we became friends on various social platforms? I don’t just mean through Real Women of Gaming, he has seen pictures of my life and I his, we’ve commented back and forth, I’ve seen/read much. He gets married, goes on a honeymoon to make anyone jealous, he creates new characters, goes to many more cons, meets many new people, brings more people to tears of laughter and joy. I’ve even started watching My Little Pony, on his suggestion, with my daughter and we both love it.

Zenkaikon 2017 comes up and we are asked who we want to interview. Of course, I mark down that I want to talk to him again among many other guests that are attending. HA HA, this time I will be prepared. One tweet however, keeps crossing the back of my mind and it’s one I know I will have to ask. I dive into his tweets, google search him and yet on the screen where I am typing up questions to ask, it’s still blank and it stayed blank. I only had one planned question.

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Karl & his wife Catherine

I see him at the opening ceremonies and he gives a loving pinky swear that makes me a bit emotional and he recognizes me as he’s leaving the room, a hug and a few happy words and he is off again to his next thing. I saw him running around throughout the weekend, he did so much you’d swear there was more than one of him running around. Saturday morning, I had a chance to sit down and interview him. This time a bit more properly, but unfortunately somber.  He explains that this is his last year in the convention circuit and this is his last Zenkaikon. He speaks so passionately about Zenkaikon, the community, his fans… it spills out of each laugh, every smile and all of his words. Our interview finishes, I thank him, give him a hug and he is on his way.

I see the second half of his show and at the end he tells everyone that this will be his last Zenkaikon. He expresses his emotions about it and even breaks a little at the end, sending me into waves of tears. However, he said something important that could have been easily missed. He tells people to take his absence in running panels and run their own. Step forward, be all that you are, show it to the whole community. I saw him at least once more before the convention ended. It won’t be the last time I see him, however.

I have to thank Karl ‘Uncle Yo’ Custer. He will always mean a great deal to me.

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Stand Up, Zenkaikon 2017

I, like many others, suffer from a great deal of things, disabilities, disorders, diagnoses, whatever you want to call them. The positive push he gave me after out first interview was everything to me. It helped me not be as hard on myself. Every time I’ve talked to him he always comes across as genuinely interested in anything I have to say and anything I want to ask. He’s caring and helpful. He’s proud of people he doesn’t even know for stepping out of their comfort zone. He believes they can do it and he doesn’t care what size you are. I’ve watched him tell entire rooms of people that it’s okay to be themselves and do it for themselves.

From kids to adults, sometimes we just need to hear that from someone else. I see faces light up when they see him, even if only because he makes them laugh or because he gets it. Karl is a treasure and I am so happy that I was lucky enough to cross paths with him. I hope to take his encouragement with me and I pray I can pass it on to other people.

Most of all, I hope people take all he has given them and pay it forward. I hope they step out of their comfort zone, host a panel, do that cosplay no matter your size. Embrace that new person at their first con and show them how awesome it really can be.

As for Karl, thank you so much. Now, you go get a drink and we will continue this conversation later. We will be right here.

Zenkaikon 2017, A Wild Ride

It’s a beautiful Monday in Southeastern Pennsylvania. I sit here listening to birds chirping, Vel playing video games and the pounding of the keys between sips of coffee and I can’t help but feel an empty little spot in my soul, a spot known to well as Post Convention Blues.

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Cosplay Masquerade

We spent three days at Zenkaikon, held at the Lancaster Convention Center in Lancaster, PA. With a star-studded guest line-up, a full schedule of panels and some amazing places to eat nearby, we were excited to go… and a bit nervous, as this was our very first Zenkaikon.

The convention is celebrating its 11th year, which is no small achievement for a growing convention with a highly dedicated fan base (for years, my friends have been screaming at me to go) that will fold you in like family as soon as they realize you’re a newbie. Over the course of those three days, we were so positively overwhelmed that it was exhilarating. Even the local restaurants were happy to see the flood of cosplayers, some embracing the event by giving discounts to con-goers and holding cosplay contests.

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Noodle King

Before I go into more about the convention itself, I want to point out that central Lancaster, surrounding the convention center, is beautiful. Even on the outskirts, I loved the area. It had the center city feel without the center city issues. There were some traffic pattern issues to deal with, of course, the convention was in town and there was a race on Saturday, so some streets were closed. However, I never felt the need to rush back to the car, the walk to the car (there was more than one parking garage within a two block radius) was refreshing and the weather this weekend made it more of a stroll than a rush. Not to mention the diversity in food and food pricing was an added bonus. From The Rabbit and The Dragonfly, a coffee bar with a great theme and amazing food, to The Noodle King, a treasure of Pho that we found thanks to our good friend Paul and even the smoothie shop across the street. We were not disappointed by our eats and the walk to each location was worth it.

Now, Zenkaikon…

I’m not even sure where to start. The lines for registration moved quickly and the staff at the front was not only knowledgeable and friendly, but also confident to tell me when they didn’t know the answer to a question I had. This wasn’t just a theme for the front, but for all of the staff I encountered that weekend. They were friendly, willing to walk with me if I was confused, and quick to go find an answer (if they were in a position in which they could leave their post) or tell me who to speak to. What I appreciated most, besides the friendliness of staff (so many pleases and thank yous), was the admittance of lack of knowledge on a particular subject. I’d rather get an “I don’t know” than several different answers from several different staff. I loved how they handled lines (Cosplay Burlesque’s line spanned two floors) and how, even come Sunday, they were still pleasant in making sure everyone was having fun. I want to thank the whole staff for a wonderful experience.

On to the guests! Charles Dunbar (Author), Cosplay Burlesque (Preforming Arts), Cosplay

The Slants

The Slants

Pro Wrestling (Preforming Arts), Ellen McLain (Actress), Greg ‘Greggo’ Wicker (Game Show Host), John Patrick Lowery (Actor), Karl ‘Uncle Yo’ Custer (Comedian), Keith DeCandido (Author), Kuniko Kanawa (Cultural Presenter), Mary Elizabeth McGlynn (Actress), Sonny Strait (Actor) who had to cancel last minute due to illness, Steve Blum (Actor), The Slants (Musical Guests). So many guests and so little time. We had the pleasure of speaking with Cosplay Burlesque, Ellen McLain, John Patrick Lowery, Uncle Yo, Keith DeCandido and The Slants (EPIC CONCERT!). Every one of them was an absolute delight to speak with and I will treasure those experiences forever. Those interviews and insights will come up in other articles as soon as possible.

The chosen theme for the year was ‘Under the Sea,’ so of course we started our Opening Ceremonies with Uncle Yo in… what I can only explain as an octopus corset (complete with tentacles) and swimming goggles being the amazing MC that he is, introducing guests, throwing candy and making jokes with the wonderful Maddy from Staff, who had a squid on her head. They spoke of cosplay contests, LARPing, game rooms, video rooms, events big and small, also panels, 18+, Con Safety from the lovely Princess Kiwi all before Uncle Yo lead us in a beautiful promise pinkie swear to leave the rest at home, be at the con for us, to have fun and make new friends.

Videos included Black Butler, Assassination Classroom, One Punch Man, RWBY, Yuri!!! On Ice, Baka and Test and many, many more. It’s a wonderful time to catch that first episode to see if you are really interested and want to dive in. I now have Yuri!!! On Ice on my list along with Erased, Steins Gate and a few other wonderful recommendations from other con-goers.

18157271_1071751016303094_6028366417503715593_nOf course, gaming was well represented and I don’t just mean THE MASSIVE AMOUNT OF OVERWATCH COSPLAYERS (I loved them all) who all looked amazing. Aside from LARPing and a room full of people playing board games was Artemis (which I forgot all about and am so mad at myself), Pokemon Sun and Moon, Mario Kart 8, Rocket League, Smash Brothers U and more. I was impressed by the steady stream of gaming through out the con and a Magic: The Gathering Tournament. I’m sorry I didn’t get to play some video games while I was there, but, alas, I was there as press and not to play games. However, I’m getting a game in next year.

Also, a congratulations to the winners of the Cosplay Contests, Cosplay Masquerade, AMVs and Karaoke. We had the pleasure of seeing thousands of cosplays, witnessing all the entries to the Masquerade and seeing the winning AMVs. Everyone did and incredible job. Even if you cosplayed just a little (such as I did) or a lot, everyone looked wonderful. I was even sandwiched between two doctors in my closet TARDIS cosplay. Most of all, I’m so proud of every one of you. It takes such heart, courage and bravery to step out in the first place, even if it is just presenting the AMVs you’ve worked so hard on, getting up on stage in front of hundreds to preform a skit with your friends or by yourself, or buying a cosplay or making it. I’m so proud and was so honored to be among you. You made the convention and kept it going. It’s your work, your ideas, your dedication, and your patronage that keeps Zenkaikon going each year and makes it so special. I love your love!

The Fan and Guest panels where filled with diversity, fun and interest. From Steven

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Uncle Yo

Universe to Doctor who, Retro Gaming to The K-Pop Dance Challenge, Dungeons and Dragons to Mermaids, virtually no fandom stone was left unturned. There were food panels, game design, make up, paper-craft, Miyazaki (honestly it’s not an anime convention without a Miyazaki panel), Fan Fiction, Orphan Black, Kimono Dressing, Star Trek… the list goes on. One I will note is that as much as Zenkaikon looks like an Anime convention it is so much more than that. It is evolving into an all-out nerd fest and I love it. There are still heavy anime elements, but there was literally something for everyone. From Vendors, Guests and Panels you didn’t have to be Anime savvy (cause I’m certainly not) to have the best time. If you are reading this and ever thought that Zenkaikon isn’t for you, I’m telling you that you are so wrong, just go. If you don’t have a blast, I’ll owe you a milkshake, but it’s an incredible melting pot of the nerd culture and you deserve it as much as it deserves you.

Bring the kids! I saw much more children there than I’m used to seeing at a convention. They were in cosplay and loving life. The con is full of family friendly content! However, if you are a bit twisted like I am, there was plenty of 18+ panels to wet your whistle. I saw my first ever Burlesque show and I got so excited, I accidentally slapped a friend in the face (I promise to tell the story in another article). From Mature Anime to What Did I Just Watch? to Guests Against Humanity (I MISSED IT), there is enough warped to go around and plenty of people who will happily welcome you!

If I haven’t convinced you to go by now, there is no hope for you. I can’t say enough wonderful things about this convention. I honestly can’t. I only wish there were clones of me and my staff so we could have literally been everywhere and seen everything. We are already making game plans for things we should do differently next year, plans to make to be better organized, equipment upgrades and gaming ideas.

To all the friends I’ve made, the friends I found, the people I’ve hung out with and the amazing guests and staff of the convention… thank you for giving me a weekend I will never forget. Thank you, thank you, thank you… and see you next year!

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Real Women of Gaming & CommonGeek.tv

Review: Cursed

Dev/Pub: Jetdogs Studioscursed_1
Medium: PC

I received Cursed and had a hell of a time playing it at first. I was trying to record it for Let’s Plays, but my software wanted NOTHING to do with this game. Finally I was able to stream the game.

What is it?
Cursed is a point-and-click horror type game with a female protagonist. Her fiance has been offered quite a sum of money to rebuild something at a far off estate. It’s odd, but you both want to get married and he takes the job. Off he goes, but it’s been sometime since you’ve heard from him. You do the only sensible thing, you go find him.

What did I think?
Well, that is a complicated answer. I liked and hated this game. It is gorgeously done, the graphics are great. I like the story concept and they added in some great touches. There is a lot to like about the game.

However, it felt disconnected. It lacked fluidity. You were given random puzzles with no inclination of what you were supposed to do. The clues were non-existent. It felt like dumb luck that I figured some things out. There were plenty of instances that it took me longer than it should have to get it, my fault. There were also plenty of times that I was using the hint button over and over because I had no idea what I was supposed to do.

At one point, you need to make a freeze potion to freeze the fountain. Unless I’m the only person who’s never seen an alchemy machine, I was lost. The lack of fluidity made me more frustrated than I would have liked for such a relaxing game. I found myself roaming around trying to figure out what I was supposed to do next. I really wanted to love this game, but I walked away from an anti-climactic ending feeling… meh.

It’s only $5 on Steam so give it a try if you want, but it isn’t one I’d recommend.

Watch Crymson’s stream of Cursed here:
https://www.twitch.tv/realwomenofgaming/v/111729543

Review: Slayaway Camp

Dev/Pub: Blue Wizard Digital
Medium: PC

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My inner horror nerd was squealing with gore-filled joy when I received this game. Of course, I fired up everything and started playing the game. The interior of a 1980s/90s video store popped up in my view. My first thought was, No Shit, well done! I haven’t seen a video store in nearly 10 years and it brought back that nostalgia of going to Blockbuster on Fridays with my parents to rent some VHS tapes for the weekend. Everything from the shelves, the tube tv in the corner playing previews to the cheesy overhead music was amazing. I’m pumped and I haven’t even started playing.

So what is it?
It is a 1980s horror puzzle where you control the killer. Your first killer is Skullface and you have to move around the board and slaughter teens at the summer camp you may have died at. Sliding around leaving bodies in your wake before disappearing into a demonic portal.

What did I think?
OMG THIS IS AWESOME.

The pixel graphics are only making this game more awesome for me. Not only that, it’s hard and easy at the same time. The game itself is easy to understand. Even when they add more elements in, those elements are easy to understand, yet hard to master. Not to mention, there are different types of deaths to be had! Sometimes, when you slide over to that annoying teenager about to have premarital sex, there pops up a cut scene and you are shown a comical and brutal scene THAT YOU PICKED.

You earn coins throughout the game so that you can buy other murderers and ways to die. I haven’t unlocked a lot, but I love the ones I have and am excited to see more. However, sometimes you just slide over and put a butcher knife in their forehead. Clean and classic. I appreciate the simple murders as much as the cut scenes.

It gets super creative. From using bookcases to murder unsuspecting teenagers or just to block the way so you can redirect your murder to his exit hell portal.

I’ve only played through 3 movies and have unlocked very little but I’m not stopping anytime soon. This is provides me with endless entertainment and it’s less than $10 on Steam. I can’t say enough good about this game. Actually, stop reading this and go buy the game and murder some teenagers yourself.

Women in Gaming: Felicia Day

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I can’t even tell you the first time I heard of or saw Felicia Day. To me, it felt like she burst out of nowhere and was suddenly everywhere I looked. I knew she was a nerdy girl but that is about all I was sure of until I saw The Guild on Netflix and, after having it on my list for months, decided that I was going to watch it.

I was confused because the episodes weren’t long at all and quickly found out they were webisodes, so entire seasons were only 20 mins long. I dove in, watching an episode lead to more until I binged everything they had to offer.

I quickly identified with Codex.

A quirky, weird girl who loved to play video games and didn’t get people. Just wanted to have friends and for people to get along. Couldn’t help but be awkward at the best and worst of times. Check, check and check. Hell, I am still all of those things; there is nothing I could do to change any of that. However, representation matters. So, more than anything, here I was, being represented. Even the character Tinkerballa wasn’t a healer (nothing wrong with healers).

I played World of Warcraft, my main (the character I played the most) is a two-weapon fury warrior. No one believed that I am a girl. Girl’s should be healers, boys play warriors. Watch me roll my eyes. I love my warrior and I always typically make a warrior first in all games I play, even RPGs like Dragon Age. /End Mini Rant.

So here I was staring at my representation and at first I had no idea how to take her. Not only did she fit, but she was the center of the show. A show full of awkward, nerdy, typical geek stuff. Ok, some of it’s exaggerated but not always and not always overly so. So of course, I looked into her even further.

In real life, she is a quirky, weird girl who loved to play video games and didn’t always understand people. Um, what now? I was floored. What am I supposed to do with that? More representation at my very finger tips. She geeks out, is running a successful Gaming Entertainment Company with a fabulous community and is just like the rest of us. She is an inspiration.

Felicia even appeared in one of my favorite shows (Supernatural, so jealous) and played a quirky, weird gamer girl. Even as I do research for this article, I realized that she did the voice acting for a character I just encountered in Guild Wars 2, last night. SHE’S EVEN BEEN IN BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. Holy crap, I have to go back and watch that again.

She is accessible. Even if you’ve never been on YouTube or Twitch, people typically know who she is. Maybe they remember her from that one episode of House, a commercial from Supernatural or caught her one of the millions of places that she has popped up.

Of course, we could name the tons of times that she has appeared in video games, even getting her own character in Dragon Age 2 DLC, Mark of the Assassin, Tallis, a character she created. They created DLC for a character she created. I can’t even wrap my head around that.

To me, Felicia Day is epic. She is helping to normalize women in all forms of gaming, while actively affecting the gaming industry in more ways than one. Not only her, but her company raises so much for charity. Even more, her representation continues as she announced she is going to have a baby very, very soon.

I wish her all the luck and welcome her to the geeky mom club.

Vel’s Milling & Evolve Deck Lists

Ever been interested in Hearthstone but didn’t know where to start? Or maybe you love the game and are looking to get a leg up. Here are two great Decks by our very own Vel and his YouTube video showing how they work!

 

Shaman evolved – 

Argent Squire – x2thrall319
Evolve – x2
Flametongue Totem – x2
Jeweled Scarab
Maelstrom Portal – x2
Rockbiter Weapon
Totem Golem – x2
Acolyte of Pain
Argent Horserider
Brann Bronzebeard
Feral Spirit
Hex – x2
Mana Tide Totem
Pantry Spider – x2
Tuskarr Totemic – x2
Arcanosmith
Barnes
Master of Evolution – x2
Bloodlust
Dopplegangster
Nerubian Prophet

Rogue Mill –

Backstab x2valeera_sanguinar2
Preperation x2
Shadowstep x2
Mistress of Mixtures
Sir Finley Mrrgglton
Eviscerate x2
Gang Up x2
Nat the Darkfisher
Sap x2
Brann bronzebeard
Coldlight Oracle x2
Fan of Knives x2
King Mukla
Shadow Strike
SI:7 Agent
Violet Illusionist x2
Refreshment Vendor x2
Vanish x2
The Curator

Guest Post: Synopsis of DC’s Raven Vol 1 (Comic Book)

By Dandc_special_-_raven_1

I would like to thank the staff at Real Women of Gaming for giving me the opportunity to write a few words for them about comic books. As a fellow geek, I understand the powers these sacred tomes hold dear to us, in various ways. I don’t know if I pique enough interest in my digital correspondence to the world, but I’ve never been one for backing down in a request from a friend.

Given the task of writing about a comic book hasn’t been an easy one. I seriously thought about choosing a character I can associate myself with, going beyond the actual powers of said character and resonating with the story itself. Initially, there were a few I thought would be “flashy” or “neat,” but shortly after reading them, I didn’t quite feel the message of what the writers were trying to portray. Deciding I was thinking too hard about this, I’ve opted to go for a gut feeling.

DC Comic’s Raven, issue one, written by Wolfman, Borges and Blond.

First glance of the cover art, I felt a strong sense of nostalgia. Raven’s wings juxtaposed to a shining white light conveys a sense of apprehension in being a protector, torn between the fear she has of people knowing who she is (as the book she’s clutching is a foreshadowing of her father) and the good nature, which I presume comes from her mother, or even her, herself. Its pretty apparent from the age she’s drawn at, she’s in high school, which only further reinforces the fact that she’s going through turmoil. This instantly reminded me of the struggles I faced in school, having been a “weird(nerd)” kid in school, constantly carrying all of my textbooks, being made fun of, wondering if people really liked me (or only for my homework).

Upon reading, you’re immersed into being a typical teenager, who’s lost and trying to find their way in life. The story starts with Raven sent to live with her aunt’s religious suburbanite family. This doesn’t seem so bad, unless you’re the daughter of a prime evil demon and your very namesake would make Poe never quote you. She feels uneasy being around such nice people, even if they are her family, but she craves trying to be normal, still thinking what she’s doing is for the best. This ideology causes her to have conflict with herself and dreams of her father lash out at her. This scares her new family, but they understand from a “normal” perspective, trying to cheer her up and soothe her. Raven’s aunt tries to assure her, that she’s just like every other “normal” teenager, even if she’s the daughter of her “different” sister.

At “normal” school, we’re inferred that she can just basically feel emotions around her. She presses on, knowing that “normal” kids her age are struggling with problems, too, given by a two page spread showing the different thoughts that typical teens might have. She feels that she cannot fit in, but she’s quickly made the center of attention from a group of friends that basically realize she’s not like everyone else, causing an instant bond. However, one teen is not quite like the others, and in comic fashion causes Raven to react to help one of her new found friends. We’re given the idea that someone can use powers similar to Raven’s, although is much stronger and controlled in their powers, and left wondering who that person could be.