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Jillian Venters: Female Creators in the Nerd Community

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jv When one finds their community it is an incredibly happy time. Finally the people who “get” you. The right fashion or the music that speaks to who you want to be. The shared interests that make you squee with delight. It can also be overwhelming to find resources. That is where people like Jillian Venters come into play. The Lady of the Manners has dedicated herself to making her corner of the word not only a little nicer but also easier to navigate for those new to the dark crushed velvet world of Goths. 

Jillian Venters does not claim to have always been Goth, however she does claim to have always been attracted to the darker things. She was  lucky enough to have parents who understood instead of fearing her darker tastes. Her father was able to use this to encourage her to do well in school. This solid base of trust gave her the freedom to express herself and the comfort to discover who she was. That foundation is what Jillian has used to build upon. 

Being a new Goth can be difficult. There are many ways to identify as a Goth nowadays. There are also a lot of misconceptions about the culture and the people who live it. Seeing not only the in fighting but also the everyday difficulties Jillian started the Gothic Charm School. She wrote a lovely book about Gothic culture but also about being kind. 

The book is for everyone. For Goths who have been flashing their fangs for years, the new Goths who are figuring out their place in the night, their parents, their friends or those who are just looking for a good read. It also has lots of helpful tips. Ways to help make your wardrobe, which can be helpful for the Goth on a budget. It has a comprehensive history of the evolution of the Gothic subculture. She also has her website and has put videos on Youtube. There are tutorials and tips for all kinds of things. 

 “The Headmistress” has made sure to create a place for everyone. Kindness is the cornerstone of her teachings. All are welcome. All you need is to be open. No matter what your subculture is, that is a great lesson for all. 

You can also see more of Jillian’s content her Twitter and her Instagram.

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ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!!!

What Nerdy Women Create: Nerdy Nummies

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The nerd community is vast and full of amazing creators. With an immense amount of subject matter to draw from, these creators bring so many ideas to light. They are artists who use their passions to bring joy to others in many ways. 

Nerdy Nummies was started by Rosanna Pansino on April 7, 2010. The channel was started on Youtube as a way to share recipes inspired by different interests that she has within nerd culture. Cakes from video games? She’s got it. Donuts from video games with special guests from other YouTube channels? She’s done that. Macaroons based on science fun? Yes, those have been done, as well. There has even been a video about partnering with American Girl dolls. 

Yes, American Girl.

The company was impressed with the work that Pansino has done. By celebrating her love of the plethora of things within nerd culture, Pansino has inspired her viewers, who span all ages, to create. Her creations are beautiful and look complex. Pansino breaks down how to make them with her own brand of cheerful humor in a straightforward way. She also works to make sure that she has recipes that are good for viewers with options for different dietary needs. 

Pansino didn’t start off looking to bake on YouTube, though. Her first dream was to be an actress. Pansino was guest starring in multiple shows and had started her YouTube channel. She found herself at a crossroads. She had to commit to one career or the other. Pansino choose YouTube, even though she knew it was a big gamble. She said that it took a while before she started to make money, but she pushed on with what she loved. 

Pansino was taught how to bake by her grandmother. She now often works with her sister, the two of them using the lessons of their past to create nummy creations. Pansino is a gamer and now also an author. She has books available to help us nerds create tasty things to bring to parties. Thanks for teaching us how to look cool, Ro! She also works to showcase other’s creators talents on her channel through crossover videos. 

What we can learn from Nerdy Nummies is to keep going. Pansino could have quit at any time, but she didn’t. Now she is inspiring bakers of all ages. She shows that it is okay to mess up and evolve in her videos. She also proves that being a nice nerd really can pay off. 

If you want to learn how to make some really fun food that is inspired by nerdy things, check out Nerdy Nummies!

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ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!!!

PAX Unplugged 2019: Crystal Chaos

In the hustle and bustle of PAX Unplugged 2019, we were able to sit down with Fawn of Ogopogo Gaming. We sent her a few questions to answer about her game, which is currently on Kickstarter! Video interview coming soon.

Q. Tell Us About Your Game

A. Crystal Chaos is a fast paced party game that takes 10-15 minutes to play. It’s all about finding and acquiring the Treasure card while your opponents sow chaos all around you. The game seems simple at first, but once players get used to the mechanics of moving cards and hands around and manipulating the draw deck, they realize how deep the strategy can really be.

Q. What Was Your Inspiration To Create the Game?

A. I was driving in my car one day and a wave of inspiration hit me. I wanted to make a game that would appeal to experienced gamers and beginners alike as well as children and adults. I used to play Old Maid with my grandmother and cousins, so I started to brainstorm ways it could get a major overhaul to meet my requirements. I went over all the options for rules and card mechanics in my head and pitched it to my business partner. We started play testing it and tweaking it to make it robust. In the end, it’s very much a collaboration that we are both happy with.

Q. When should we expect to see it? OR, if already released, how has the response been since release?

A. The target launch is late July or early August 2020. So far the response to customer demos has been overwhelmingly positive. Our kickstarter is live now and is 20% funded with 16 days remaining. We have a lot to go, but we are determined to see it launch.

Go check out Ogopogo Gaming’s Kickstarter for Crystal Chaos! Back it if you’re able to because it’s seriously an awesome game! Stay tuned for the video interview, where Crymson plays the game with Fawn!

Games Created by Women: Centipede

250px-Atari0028For many gamers, there are fantastic memories associated with games from the 1980s. Between the accessibility of arcades and finally being able to play at home these games became a foundation for so many of us who like to game.

One such game was released in 1981. Centipede was sent out into the world by Atari and it has been a favorite ever since. Many quarters have been lined up on Centipede machines in arcades through the years. One of the creators of this game is Dona Bailey. Dona has truly been a pioneer for women in the field of programming.

 

If you choose to play this game you should know that you are our only hope. Using a gun at the bottom of the screen you must target and shoot down threats. These threats come down the screen in waves. The player must try to shoot them down with a gun at the bottom of the screen. You can only go so far and so fast so this game so it requires patience and skill. It is a lot of fun though!

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The game isn’t very complicated looking by today’s standards. However that is not to take away from the graphic design of it’s time. Centipede has a classic look and feel when being played. The concept is great. The music is timeless. So if you are looking for an old school game to play this is the one to get.

 

I would like totally recommend this game. It is a great game to start off with. It is also a great game for nostalgia feels. 

ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

Games Created by Women: Uncharted

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UnchartedIn a world were so many of us grew up with the Indiana Jones movies it is no wonder that so many people want to search for hidden treasures. To travel the world to gain that next artifact armed with a certain skill set and a lot of wit. Surely nothing bad would ever happen, especially nothing with lasting consequences.  

The first three games in the Uncharted series were created by Amy Hennig. The first installment was released in time for the holiday season of 2007. Uncharted utilizes a third person style of gameplay. It is an action filled game that fans have been enjoying for years. Uncharted is a key title for PlayStation and has been developed by Naughty Dog.

uncharted 2 Uncharted is also just a fun game to play. The protagonist is a man named Nathan Drake. Nathan is joined by reporter, Elena Fisher and his mentor Victor Sullivan. Together the team is trying to find the possibly mythical treasure of El Dorado. They face many challenges along the way that help to make the gameplay interesting.

Uncharted is a lovely game from a visual perspective. A lot of work went into designing the game and it shows. In some ways the game has a feel that is more like a feature film then a game. The characters are well designed. The voice acting is well done as well. Overall the game is an immersive experience that has left the gaming community continuing to ask for more.

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Amy Henning and the rest of the team from Naughty Dog made sure that a great world was provided for players. They have been able to continue to build off of that world. Different characters have been able to take on larger roles and the games have been able to evolve. Really though so long as audiences want to search for lost treasures the Uncharted games will continue to deliver a world for gamers to play in. So happy treasure hunting and gaming!

You can follow Amy on her personal Twitter here.

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ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

Games Created by Women: Portal

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Hello readers and welcome to Aperture Science, where absolutely nothing is wrong. In this article, everything will be perfectly safe. Maybe there will even be cake for you at the end!

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Portal is a single player game. The player finds themselves in Aperture Science Laboratories. At Aperture, scientists have been working to create a special kind of gun that creates portals. Players must listen to the announcements for updates and information throughout the game. The story of what happened to the labs, and why you are now running around with a gun that creates portals will also be revealed throughout the game.

Portal was designed by Kim Swift. Kim is one of the creative directors at Airtight Games. She is also a speaker. Kim is looking to expand her repertoire with her website. It features doodles and her opinions. Her creativity is a gift to the gaming community.   

Portal was released on October 10, 2007. Players are able to take advantage of the innovative nature of gameplay that Portal provides. Puzzles are the keys to winning the game. This style of gameplay has been one of the things that players enjoy most about the Portal games. They are able to find creative ways to win while they try to make it through the labs.

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Portal is a multi-award winning game. This is not surprising with the success of the franchise. The game forces players to look for different solutions to reach the end of the game. It was a refreshing form of gameplay when it came out. The game is also highly entertaining.

If you are looking for a fun game that will challenge you then you should give Portal a try. It has interesting graphics. The style of the game also helps to immerse the player in the story.

Portal is a fun and challenging game that fans have been wild about since it first came out.

 

ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

 

Games Created by Women: Blackwell’s Asylum

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Would you think you would be able to survive in a nineteenth century mental institution? What if, once admitted, you were sent to an asylum known as a place where no one ever left? What if the doctors were not only there to keep you from escaping but also to perform whatever atrocities on you that they wished?

Blackwell’s Asylum is a game that tests the abilities of the player to not only survive but also  to escape a terrifying asylum for the insane. Claudia Billie Stræde was the director of this game which started out as a project for the University she was attending. Blackwell’s Asylum was a multiple nominee. It also won Game of the Year and the Adventure/Roleplay category in the Intel Level Up 2011 Game Demo Contest. The game is also interesting becuase it was inspired by true events.

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Claudia was inspired by the written chronicle from Nellie Bly. Bly was a writer who had started her career as a young woman writing; “women’s columns.”  Bly wanted to write about more than cleaning and traveled to New York seeking opportunities. There she pitched the idea of going undercover at a mental hospital to expose what was really happening behind the closed doors of such institutions. For ten days she gained information and stories from other patients. Upon her release Bly wrote down everything in her six-part series called; Ten Days in a Mad-House. This work helped not only expose the crimes of the asylum but also gained more funding for public institutions to try to improve them.

The design of the game is interesting and unsettling. The player starts off, as Nellie, restrained as a doctor drugs them. The player then tries to escape. The coloring of the game is dark and it can make it difficult to determine where in the game the player is.  The effects of the drugs only aid in making the surroundings distorted and confusing.

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There are random shouts and other noises to make it difficult to focus. Blackwell’s Asylum does have a neat effect in which large circles like sonar when footsteps get closer to the player as they sneaking in the darkness. It is the only effect that helps the player with all the distortion. The character design is very well done. The sound effects also aid in the gameplay. 

Blackwell’s Asylum is an interesting first person game of escape.

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ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

 

Games to Get Excited About: January 2019

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It’s that time of the month again! (And I mean that in a good way!) Not only is it a new month, but a new year! Happy 2019! Here’s to hoping it’s better than last year! So far it’s off to a good start, there are great games releasing this month. Let’s chat about a few! 


Resident Evil 2 – Re-imagined – January 25

If you are an older gamer and like horror the chances are high that you’ve played a Resident Evil game or two in your life. Even if you haven’t, you may have seen some of the movies. Well, they have re-imagined Resident Evil 2 because it was released over 20 years ago and sold almost 5 million copies.  The game was bloody, scary, and had horrible graphics (not for the time, just for now). The new re-imagination looks amazing and you can watch the trailer here. They have what they are calling an immersive camera that is supposed to let you “feel” it when you get bitten, plus there is tons of detail put into Raccoon City. If you love Resident Evil as much as I do, this is a must get. Even if you’ve never played it or watched the movies, it should be on your list if you are a horror game buff! 

The Walking Dead: The Final Season  Episode 3 – January 15  

I’ve personally never played a Tell Tale game, but I hear they are wonderful. Many people know they are having some issues with the company, but it seems they are bent on finishing what they started. Episode 3 is following Clementine and takes us 75% through the story for this season. Zombie games are one of my favorite things and the ones in The Walking Dead TV show are pretty fast, so if they are the same in this game you better make sure you have running shoes on! If you enjoy Tell Tale games or The Walking Dead in general this is probably a great game. 

Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe – January 11 

 I grew up in the 90s and some of my favorite memories are of playing Super Mario Brothers, so while I don’t even own a Switch, I am super excited for this. This new game is a 2D Platformer that you can play solo or with up to 4 player. There are five different characters to choose from – Mario, Luigi, Toad, Toadette, and Nabbit. Now, if you are one of those people who thinks these games are too easy there are three extra challenge modes in this game to appease you! I don’t think you can ever go wrong with a Super Mario game, and I highly recommend you check it out! 

Last.. But definitely NOT least… 

Kingdom Hearts 3 – January 25


This is the game I am most excited for (even though I can’t get it because I don’t have a console /cry). I have played Kingdom Hearts from the very start and found it fascinating. If you are a gamer and a lover of all things Disney and you haven’t played this.. GET IT! I highly recommend starting from the beginning, but rumor has it you won’t need to do that to follow this new story. We will go to magical worlds like the 100-Acre Wood, Pirates of the Caribbean, Frozen, Tangled, and even Monsters, Inc! It took YEARS for this game to come out because they wanted it to be amazing and I have very high hopes. The game play looks beautiful and the characters make you fall in love with them.  

 


That’s all for this month, but there are plenty more games coming next month so stay tuned! And as always, ’til then, play what you love! 

Games to Get Excited About

Well, it’s that time of year, the time we’re all broke! All the big name games have already come out earlier this year, so December isn’t really a big time for video games to be released. However, there are some good ones coming out so let’s have a chat…

Just Cause 4 – December 4, 2018

This game is taking place in Solis, a South African World. The hero Rico Rodriguez has come here to find out about his past. And as we all know, in a video game that means things will get dicey! Just Cause games are really an excuse to do whatever it takes to complete your mission. I haven’t personally played any of them, but I’ve seen game play and they look like a blast. Lots of action to be had and enormous world maps. This new installment promises to be the most diverse and dangerous world they have had so far.

On this new island you aren’t just finding the truth, you are leading a rebellion, as in all the Just Cause games. Only this time you get a wind suit and insane weather that you can use to help you. The footage of this game is beautiful. The map has all different climates and it promises to keep you on your toes. Without having played any of the previous games, I’d definitely give this one a try.

 

Forza Horizon 4 – Fortune Island – December 13, 2018

Unless you are living under a rock, you’ve heard that Forza Horizon 4 is an amazing game. The driving is fun, tweaking the tuning can be for beginners or experts, and who doesn’t want a car just the color they always dreamed. This barely came out a few months ago and already it is expansion time! This new island is the biggest expansion of any of the Forza games and is promising to beat your expectations. They have new terrains and weather to really change up the driving experience. You can even watch the Aurora Borealis while you drive! If you own the base game, you definitely need to pick up this expansion. And don’t forget, it’s on Game Pass!

 

Silent Night: A Ghost Story for Christmas – December 2018

Until now I was completely unaware there were ghost hunting games. As a lover of horror and creepy – how dare I not know this! Then I found Silent Night. It’s a standalone game from Darkling Room who are the creators of the Crown franchise of ghost hunting games. There isn’t a lot about this game, but the idea behind it and the short trailer make it look like it could be a fun play through. I mean come on, a haunted church and graveyard on Christmas Eve, what could be more exciting? You get to use ghost hunting gadgets and encounter ghosts from all the way back to the Black Plague. This game doesn’t have a set release date yet, but I have definitely followed to find out when it is. I recommend this one for anyone who likes a game that’s a bit different, ghosts, and creepy things!


We all know these aren’t the only games coming out in December, so keep your eyes out for anything that looks good! It never hurts to take a chance on something you think you will have fun with. For those that love Borderlands 2, the VR version does drop on December 14, 2018. You can head over to Steam to find Silent Night: A Ghost Story for Christmas, you can find Forza Horizon 4‘s expansion on the Microsoft store, or Just Cause 4 online and at your local retailer.

That’s all for this month, time to get looking at what comes out in next year! ‘Til then, play what you love!

Games to Get Excited About – November 2018 Edition

The 2 games I’m most excited about this month are probably not a big surprise. Everyone is excited about the upcoming Fallout 76 and if you are a survival buff like me then you are equally excited for Ark: Extinction. Just in case you aren’t familiar with these, let’s have a chat..


Fallout 76 – November 14, 2019

So if you have ever wanted an apocalyptic game, you probably have heard of the Fallout series. It starts with Fallout 1 that takes place in 2161 and the following games go all the way to 2287 in Fallout 4. Well, this time Bethesda is taking us back in time to 25 years after the bomb drops – in 2102. Only, it’s not just a prequel, it’s also a multi-player game! Fallout 4 takes us to the doors of the bomb shelters opening for the first time after the bombs drop and we can play with our friends in this new/old world that is the largest dynamic world in Fallout history.

You can still play solo (for those who hate people), but if you choose to play multiplayer then there are no characters in the world that aren’t players and this sounds really fun. The price of Fallout 76 is the normal AAA price of $59.99 and up. If you want to see some video on it, check below. I’ll admit that I haven’t played any but Fallout 4, and thanks to a hard drive malfunction.. Not much of that. But, this looks like a ton of fun and I’d recommend it if you have the extra cash.


 

Ark: Extinction – November 6, 2019

So let’s start with the basics. Ark: Extinction is the third DLC for the base game Ark: Survival Evolved; which is a survival game set on an island, on another planet, full of dinosaurs. Be prepared to craft your own clothes, shelter, hunt for food, and survive the carnivores. This new DLC takes us back to where it all began, Earth. It’s hard to tell just how much time has passed because Earth is now a wasteland full of mutants, but it’s obvious this is the future because of the technology – and the new dinosaurs. Not only do we have mutated dinosaurs here, but also technological creatures to worry about. Not to mention, those mutated dinosaurs that have turned corrupted. These will always hunt you down if they see you, plus, they get pack mentality and can raid your base for the element you have gathered.

This new world looks awful and amazing at the same time. There are new gadgets, like drones, that become available. There might even be crafting of your own “pets” if they decide they don’t want us taming the tech creatures. This is going to be the hardest planet to survive on yet, but you can always make it easier by taming yourself a Titan. Yes, a Titan. There are two confirmed so far – the Frost Titan and the Forest Titan; that are tamable! For a peak of what’s to come check below. If you don’t own Ark at all then you have to buy the base game ($49.99) first, but if you have it then Extinction is $45.99 (there is also a bundle).  I would absolutely recommend this game for anyone who likes survivals. I have all the Ark’s and have not been disappointed yet. I mean there are mods upon mods to make the world what you want and even other maps and whole other play styles. Can be great for role-play as well.

 


 

So, if you enjoy survival games or apocalyptic MMO’s then pick these games up this month! You can head over to buy Fallout 76 here or run over here for Ark: Extinction on Steam! Or head to your local game store for a copy! That’s all for this month, time to get looking at what comes out in December! Til then, play what you love!