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Women in the Gaming Industry: Brenda Romero

Women in the Gaming Industry: Brenda Romero

Brenda-Romero-Courtesy-of-The-Strong-Rochester-NY

Brenda Romero is a highly lauded force in the gaming industry. She is a game developer with a diverse resume. Brenda has also worked as a creative director and consultant for various companies. She has designed many different games, including one inspired by her daughter. Her creativity has been helping to fuel the gaming industry for years.

In 1981, Brenda started to work on Wizardry, a role playing series which helped to launch her fame in the gaming industry. Since then, Brenda has been a major part of many games and worked for various game companies. Some of these companies include; Atari, Sir-tech Software and Electronic Arts. Brenda is now the Program Director of the MSc in Game Design & Development at the University of Limerick. Brenda is also the co-founder of independent game developer at Romero Games, Ltd in Galway, Ireland. 

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Clearly Brenda has a passion for creating neat games for us to play. In addition to her work on Wizard, she has worked on Def Jam: Icon, in which the player uses beats and sound to – literally – crush their opponents with debris. Playboy: The Mansion is a game where the player helps Hugh Hefner build Playboy into the famous company that we all know today by completing different campaigns. Dungeons and Dragons: Heroes was inspired by her daughter. The Mechanic is the Message is an analog game that experiments with the word “game.”

Brenda has won many awards. So many in fact that I won’t list them. I suggest, instead, you go to the awards link on her page to read them. Brenda has also had the privilege of being a TED speaker. 

Brenda Romero is an accomplished game designer. She is a person who finds inspiration in many places. She shows us that work can be fun and that if you do the work you will be successful.

Always keep sparkling!  

Women in Gaming Industry: Aya Kyogoku

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Women in Gaming Industry: Aya Kyogoku

kyogoku-streetpass-mii-plaza I have a lot of respect for anyone who makes a living writing.  I also have a lot of respect for anyone who makes their living in the gaming industry. Someone who is a script writer for games is awe-worthy to me due to the difficulty of both fields, let alone combining them. Aya Kyogoku has been officially working for Nintendo in that capacity since 2003. During this time, she has helped to give us many successful and, quite frankly, fun games throughout the years.

Kyogoku is a native of Japan, where she honed her skills for working in the gaming industry. After joining Nintendo, she worked for the Entertainment Analysis & Development portion of the company. Kyogoku has been a huge asset to the company in a few different roles since being hired. As well as script writing, she has also co-directed a truly adorable game. Yes, I am talking the ever popular series Animal Crossing.

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Who doesn’t want to become mayor of their own perfect world? Especially if you get to  be around adorable animated characters. Well, that is what you get to do in the Animal Crossing franchise. Kyogoku co-directed Animal Crossing: New Leaf , which introduced all new characters and a new setting. She also used this game as a way to address diversity in the gaming world. In this interview, Kyogoku talks about why she continues to want a workplace where many ideas are able to be shared.Aya-kyogoku (1)

Kyogoku has also worked on two games in the ever popular The Legend of Zelda franchise. In The Legend of Zelda: The Twilight Princess, Link must try to save Hyrule from being engulfed by a parallel universe. In The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventure Link goes to once more restore peace in Hyrule. Both games were critically acclaimed and enjoyed by most fans.

Aya Kyogoku is a hard working and creative force in the gaming industry. She is a voice for greater diversity. We in the gaming world are lucky to have her fun-loving presence in one of our biggest companies!

Always keep sparkling!  

Influential Female Characters: Evie Frye

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Influential Female Characters: Evie Frye

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It isn’t easy being a woman in Victorian times. Neither is being an assassin intent on cleaning up an insanely corrupt London.  Evie does it with grace and snark. Her targets hardly stand a chance against her precision when killing. When it comes down to it there really isn’t a better woman for the job then Evie Frye.

acs-gameplay-og-EVIE Assassin’s Creed is a gaming franchise that has produced many successful games. There was even a movie made from the concept of the games recently. Players have been able to choose highly trained assassins in multiple areas and times in history; including but not limited to the American Revolution, the French Revolution and the golden age of piracy to play. These characters have targets, for various reasons, to dispose of. In Assassin’s Creed Syndicate the player gets to play as both Jacob and Evie Frye.

Evie  is the elder of the Frye twins. Both were trained by their father in the ways of assassins. Evie, however, took her training just a little more seriously. She and her brother are in London trying to rid the city of corruption in their own way. Evie’s way just happens to be using all her training and brains to kill her targets.


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Evie is honestly just a fun character to play. She is beyond capable in a role that we haven’t gotten to see many of her gender participate in. She is sarcastic. She is ruthless at times. She is so smart. She fights just as well as any of the other assassins. If you have been searching for a female character with depth and daggers, I suggest you pick up Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. Yes, you have to switch between playing Evie and Jacob but at least she is an option, which has been lacking in the other Assassin’s Creed games, save one.

Evie and Jacob have a great sibling relationship despite being so different. It is nice to see a character whose base concept is that of a killer to also be shown as so human. Her scenes with Jacob help to show that. They tease each other. They challenge each other. The Frye twins keep each other human as they hunt down their targets and I am really happy that they get to have that complexity given to them.

So if you are looking for a femme fatale in a historical setting, I would giving Assassin’s Creed Syndicate a try!

what a cutie

Always keep sparkling!

Ouran High School Host Club Review

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Ouran High School Host Club Review

199744-ouran-high-school-host-club-ouran-high-school-host-club The first time I sat down to watch Ouron Highschool Host Club, I had a lot of questions and some very strong feelings from the start. In fact, there was a lot of yelling at the screen. I am actually half convinced that part of my watching this anime was so that Crymson, and later Vanri, could watch me watching it. I didn’t turn it off, though. In fact, I marathoned Ouron till the last two episodes because, at that point, I was emotionally invested and didn’t want it to end.

Ouron Highschool Host Club is an anime based off a successful series of a manga that was written by Bisco Hatori. The anime debuted in 2006. Fans have not so patiently been waiting for a second season ever since. The characters are all parodies of shojuo manga stereotypes.

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In the pilot, we meet Haruhi Fujioka, the main character and honor student. Haruhi is attending the prestigious Ouran Academy on scholarship and looking for a quiet place to study. What Haruhi finds in an “abandoned” music room that is actually the home of the Host Club. The Host Club is run by six attractive and wealthy male students who entertain the school’s bored and equally wealthy female students.

Tamaki Suoh is the president of the club and its princely/king character. Kyoya Ootori is the vice president and the real brains behind the club while he represents the glasses/cool character. Hikaru and Kaoru Hitachii are identical twins in Haruhi’s class and the mischievous characters. Mitsukuni “Honey” Haninozuka is the sweet boy lolita character and his cousin Takashi “Mori” Morinozuka is the protector with a soft heart character of the club. Haruhi breaks an expensive vase and becomes indebted to the Host Club during this first meeting.my fav

Haruhi starts to run errands for the club to work off the debt. Soon the club finds out that Haruhi is a natural with their female customers and offer to let Haruhi become a Host to pay the debt faster. The series shows Haruhi becoming friends and learning that the Hosts are more than their roles in the club. These friendships are written beautifully. The information about the Hosts are given slowly throughout the series in different episodes. We even get more information about some of the secondary characters; such as my favorite, the head of the Dark Magic Club Umehito Nekozawa.

The Hosts also strive to understand Haruhi better as the series progresses. Since Haruhi comes from a very different socio-economic world, the group clashes at times. These clashes usually lead to some cringe worthy moments for me while I was watching. The Hosts make each other better throughout the series. It is wonderful to watch them all evolve.

I did have a hard time with some of the verbiage of the show. Some situations also made me uncomfortable. Overall, I really did enjoy the show. The characters are fun. The animation is a great mix of beautiful and silly. The music is very catchy as well.

There is even a live action version of the show which I desperately want to watch. 

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I can understand why people love this anime. Ouran High School Host Club is silly and fun. It also has a lot more depth than you expect.

I would rate this anime as: Yes watch! 

Always keep sparkling!

An Anime Review: Sailor Moon

An Anime Review: Sailor Moon

Sailor Moon Crystal

There is a fantastic concept in anime which is known as a “magic girl.” In this trope, a normal girl who, with the help of a magical item, transforms to fight villains in a super cute new disguise. She usually gets magical weapons to help her on her mission. It is a glorious trope. There were earlier versions of magical girls before, but on March 7, 1992 in Japan, the game was seriously stepped up.

That was the original premiere of Sailor Moon. You did do that math correctly. Sailor Moon is 25 years old this year! The show was based on a manga created by Naoko Takeuchi about a girl in middle school who was the reincarnation of the Sailor Scout of the Moon, who needed to search for the Moon Princess and fight the evil Nagaverse… oh, and finish her homework on time. The show would later air in America. It helped to introduce some American fans to anime, including myself.

Yes, Sailor Moon was my first anime. I was in middle school when the show first aired in America and somehow I happened upon it. I loved it from the start. I didn’t have a lot of friends at that stage of my life. I was chubby. Not great at school… and, well, you get the idea. I needed a hero like Usagi.

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Usagi is just a normal girl at the start of the show. She likes sweets, hates school and abhors studying. She loves her friends and family. She has a heart of gold, even if she is a crybaby. Oh, and she is a huge gamer, which should win her all the bonus points. Her favorite being the Sailor V game at the arcade. One day, she sees some children tormenting a cat. She puts a stop to it and thus starts her adventure.

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The cat is Luna, who can talk. Luna explains all about the fall of the Moon Kingdom and will guide Usagi on her mission. Usagi is given a compact, which powers her transformation to become Sailor Moon, the pretty guardian of the moon, love and justice. Through the series, Sailor Moon fights different villains who work for the Nagaverse; the crystal named baddies who are trying to steal the energy of humans to fuel their evil empire. Throughout the first season, she also meets the other sailor scouts, who become her best friends. Together, the girls help each other. The Sailor Scouts fight evil with, you guessed it, the power of friendship and love.

I know it can sound silly, but Sailor Moon is pretty amazing. It has a little bit of everything. There’s romance, character growth, some campy humor, plot twists, and fight scenes. Also it is just really pretty to watch.

The original English dub, Sailor Moon R, made a lot of changes, including cutting episodes, changing character names, taking out Japanese writing and adding these shorts at the end of the episodes with lessons on how to be a better person in order to make it more marketable. I don’t entirely understand why any of those changes were made. The new series has, thankfully, not made the same choices. 

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I spent a lot of time watching Sailor Moon. My friends and I bonded over it. I have great memories of waking up every day one summer at 7 AM to call my friend Maggie and watch reruns of episodes together. I have memories of sleep overs, where, with too much sugar, we would put in the English dubbed soundtrack and play with my other friend Amanda’s toys. Maggie used to draw the most beautiful Sailor Moon inspired art for us. Julie hated Tuxedo Mask with the burning passion of a thousand suns, so we used to play his theme for her all the time, because that is what good friends do. Julie also wore her hair in little buns all the time. We were so happy being in this fandom together and it really helped to strengthen us in different ways. Sailor Moon has always been a bright spot in my life.

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Recently, Sailor Moon was released with new art and a tweaked plot to be a bit more like the manga. I eagerly awaited the release of Sailor Moon Crystal. The animation is gorgeous. The new music is lovely. My only real complaint is that I wish the first season would have been longer so that we would have gotten more. That being said, the series is just great. Please watch it if you haven’t already for the animation alone.

In conclusion, I love Sailor Moon. I love it because it is girly and bright. I love how dramatic it is. I get exasperated sometimes and have to remind myself that the protagonist is a fourteen year old. I really appreciate that it teaches girls to love themselves and each other. I also enjoy that Tuxedo Max needs to be saved, too. It is just very important to myself, and other fans, that it shows him having doubts about his own abilities to protect Sailor Moon. In fact, I think that is just as important to the show as the female empowerment that he is given these moments of growth. 

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Right now, we all need heroes. I firmly believe that we especially need a hero like Sailor Moon, who is so human. I think we all very much need a klutzy crybaby to rise up and show us that we are all heroes. 

Thia’s rating: Must watch… and possibly fight evil by moonlight.

Always keep sparkling!

 

Power Rangers: A Movie Review

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Power Rangers: A Movie Review

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As a “90’s Kid” Mighty Morphin Power Rangers holds a very special place in my heart. I watched it every day it was on. We played Power Rangers at recess and after school. The franchise also launched many video games, some were better received then others. Currently, there is also a new mobile game available, so check your app store!  There was definitely an obsession that was fueled with high kicks and fights over who could be which Ranger. I always wanted to be yellow. In short, I loved Power Rangers. I wanted to be a Ranger. I wanted to save the world with awesome friends. I wanted to learn martial arts, which my family could never afford, and kick Rita’s goons in the face.

Because of this, I was a little concerned when I saw that a reboot movie was being made. My apprehension started to ebb away as I saw more about the Power Rangers movie. The humor in the trailers really helped. I agreed to see it with my friends on opening weekend. I walked in without high expectations. I don’t think any of us really expected more then to see flashy suits and to have a burst of nostalgia.

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I am so glad I did go. I laughed. I laughed a lot, which a person should do when watching Power Rangers. I cried a little. My friends and I kept looking at each other with these huge, goofy grins on our faces. The crowd around me, who were mostly grown up, hardened Rangers fans like myself kept laughing. We could all feel it. That collective moment of, “YES! They did it right.” They had made the movie and we were all LOVING it. This was beyond anything I thought it would be. I was happily surprised at how much I liked it.

Power Rangers is a story about a group of misfits coming into their own. In the small town of Angel Grove, not everything is idyllic as it seems. As an evil rises to take over the world, so must a group of heroes rise to stop her. First, they have to get out of detention, though. Yes, in this remake the kids really do have the attitude and some very real challenges in their lives. After finding colorful crystals, they have to figure out how to use their new powers and become a team in order to save everything they love.

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Without spoiling anything, I can tell you that I really liked the plot. The story was really well done. I enjoyed the costumes and the suits when seeing them with the overall story, which was something I had been a little concerned about prior to seeing the movie. The fight scenes were also really well done. I appreciated how the cast was diverse, and not even just in terms of race. I think a lot of us could see ourselves in at least one of the characters. They were all well developed and given a bit of arc, which can be difficult with a larger ensemble cast.

The music was great. The soundtrack really added to the movie. Rita, who I was probably least impressed with during trailers, ended up being one of my favorites. I was always kind of happy and also… cringing, in a good way… when I saw her come on screen. The effects were good without detracting from the action. The pace of the movie was also good.

Overall, I think it’s a great movie. I felt hyped up when I left, almost like a little kid again. My friends and I talked nonstop in the car. Even my two friends who have watched every episode of Power Rangers were really happy with the adaption. Yes, it had campy moments but, as a Power Rangers movie, it should. No, it wasn’t the series, but it was a very well done modern adaptation of it.

I would rate it: Must see.

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Always keep sparkling!

Women in Gaming: Laura Bailey

lb_1950When I started to get back into gaming, it was through Dungeons & Dragons. My friend and DM suggested I watch a stream of a show called Critical Role. He hoped that by watching, I would get a better idea of how to play. To get out of my head, stop worrying about the grid on the map and start being my character. I really enjoyed watching the stream. One of my favorite characters was the Half-Elf Ranger who snarked her way through most of the game. That was my first introduction to Laura Bailey.

Laura is a voice actress by trade and gamer for fun. She was one of the first really successful female gamers I had ever seen. She is what I strive to be when I play. In character and having fun. She is so good at playing in the moment while being filmed. Let me tell you, it is difficult to focus on playing a character while you know you are being filmed.

Laura is as talented as she is funny. As a voice actress she has given her voice to many characters in different mediums. She loves anime, which is where she got her start. Laura voices characters in different cartoons as well. She, of course, also voices video game characters which must be fantastic for a gamer to get to do.

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I have gotten to enjoy watching Laura play other games as well. Mostly she can be watched on Geek and Sundry. As I stated above, every Thursday she and other voice actors play D&D under their DM and fellow voice actor, Matt Mercer. Laura plays Vex’ahlia, who has gone through so much character development on Critical Role. I really enjoy Vex. I love her humor. I love her bear, Trinket. Laura does an amazing character who could have easily been annoying in the start. She gives Vex a lot of personality and emotion. She never holds back while she games and it is amazing to watch.

Laura teamed up last year with fellow Critical Role mates to game for a charity livestream to support MDA. Matt Mercer was the Sheriff, or basically a game master, and led the group through a thoroughly entertaining game of Deadlands. Laura played a gunslinger named Stinky Jules who was basically a Calamity Jane-esque character. She was hysterical and wonderfully inappropriate. The group helped tip Geek and Sundry over its monetary goal. Laura and her husband Travis also played Hearthstone in an episode of Worthy Opponents, which is a great way for newbies to the game to get to learn while being entertained.

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She has also played different games with Wil Wheaton on his Geek and Sundry show, Tabletop. Tabletop is a great show created by Wil to showcase different kinds of tabletop games. It has given me lots of ideas for games to try and also for games for friends in different stages of gaming. Laura also teamed up with Wil to play a character in his homebrew game called, TITANSGRAVE: THE ASHES OF VALKANA.

In Titansgrave, Laura plays a human cyborg named Lemley. Get ready for feels and lots of laughs when you watch this one. Lemley made me realize just how talented Laura really is at RPGs. Lemley is so different from Vex, and Laura gave her just as much love and attention. Titansgrave is also a really great series to watch for new RPGers. Laura and the rest of the cast do a great job of bringing you into the game. You really root for these characters as they try to accomplish their missions, which is a testament to the players.

Laura Bailey is a talented and hard working woman in the gaming industry. She tries to give back to the community. She makes mistakes and, literally, keeps on rolling. Laura really is a great role model for those of us trying to find our gaming style in the world of RPGs. I really admire her for her courage to be so expressive with her characters’ emotions. She also brings so much real joy to her gaming.

Always keep sparkling, my friends!