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Top 10 Things that happened to me at Zenkaikon 2017

Crymson went to Zenkaikon 2017! Here are some of the things she experienced:

 

 

10) Some utterly amazing cosplays where everywhere!

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9) I was sandwiched between two doctors in my T.A.R.D.I.S dress

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I found Wednesday Adams

8) So many people told me they love my hair!

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Waiting for Cosplay Masquerade

7) I made new friends!

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Our friends at CommonGeek.tv

7) I want hours to talk to Keith DeCandido

5) The Slants concert was AMAZING

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The Slants

4) I got a ‘NOTICE ME SENPAI!’ from a stranger

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Senpai Loves You

3) MY FIRST BURLESQUE SHOW! Not only did I see my first show

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Pre Show (Photography was not allowed)

2) I got to spend some time with Uncle Yo! Much more than an interview, I was able to see him several times, chat with him and give him a few hugs. He made me laugh, he made me cry.

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Crazy Uncle Yo

1) Ellen McClain and John Patrick Lowery Believe in me! Meeting them was definitely the highlight of the convention for me. They are two incredible people that I’d love to sit with for hours and listen to their stories. I cannot say enough positive things and hope to speak with them again.

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John Patrick Lowery & Ellen McClain are too precious for this world

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Noodle King

 

 

 

(Honorable Mention: ALL THE FOOD!)
If you live in the Lancaster Area, please eat at The Rabbit and The Dragonfly & Noodle King

Best Bows and Crossbows in Video Games

Over the years a large cross-section of video games have included the trusty bow and arrow as the weapon of choice and the trend appears to be on the rise. The bow is a weapon historians have found in settlements dating back to around 9000 BC. Pop culture loves the bow and arrow and a good slice of the movie industry has taken up the gauntlet with heroes like Hawkeye and Katniss Everdeen wielding them.

Targetcrazy.com has compiled a comprehensive top 50 of the best bows (and crossbows) ever in video games and with their permission we’ve reproduced the top picks here. 

Best Retro Game Bow – Kid Icarus – The Sacred Bow

The favorite bow from older games is the enhanced Sacred Bow wielded by Pit in Kid Icarus. While he starts out wielding a short-range bow, the Sacred Bow lets him fire arrows much faster and farther. Pit has an unlimited supply of arrows and can use fire arrows to deal more damage. By the time Pit returned in Kid Icarus: Uprising, the bow was only one of many weapons he used, but in the original two games, it was his primary weapon of choice.

The Best Crossbow – BioShock

Do crossbows count? They are bows, after all!  Not only is the crossbow in BioShock one of the favorite video game crossbows, but it’s also considered by many players to be the best weapon in BioShock. It deals excellent damage with multiple types of ammunition, it is powerful at both short-range and long-range, and a headshot from the crossbow will kill a Splicer in one hit on any difficulty setting. If that’s not enough, its bolts can often be recovered intact (and you can upgrade it to make this more likely), which means it’s an incredibly powerful weapon with a ready supply of ammo. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Magical – Bayonetta 2 – Kafka

While some game weapons are magical, some are just plain weird. Bayonetta is here to prove bows can be very strange. The Kafka, a new bow added in Bayonetta 2 (and named in honor of Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis) has a dragonfly-like appearance and shoots poison arrows. According to its in-game description the bow comes from a man who morphed into an insect and lives on inside the weapon to fire arrows made of venomous bugs. Indeed, if you perform one of the the Umbran Climax while wielding this bow it fires massive, demonic dragonflies at the enemy. A bow that shoots demonic dragonflies instead of arrows? It doesn’t get much stranger than that!

 

SciFi! – Crysis 3 – Predator Bow

You can’t beat an auto-loading compound bow! The Predator Bow from Crysis 3 is a fan-favorite with three draw weights you can switch between and four different types of arrows to fire: carbon-impact, electro/shock, airburst fragmentation, and super-thermite. In single player it has its own weapon slot and it is also the only weapon you can fire while cloaked without using energy. In short, the Predator Bow is one of the best bows in video games–science fiction or otherwise.

Better Than Real? Best VR – QuiVR

QuiVr is a multiplayer wave shooter designed specifically to be a fun, accurate archery game. Your trusty bow will let you take down wave after wave of enemies with physics designed to feel like actual archery. QuiVr isn’t the fullest gameplay experience out there yet but if you want to feel like you’re wielding a bow and take down enemies at the same time, this is the VR bow we like the most.

The Top 5 Best Overall Bows in Video Games

Some of these bows are in games where archery is a main focus while others just happen to have a good archery component but either way, these are the top 5 bows in video games and some of the games you most want to seek out if you’re looking for a fun archery experience.

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor – Azkâr  – Azkâr is a special bow originally made for Celebrimbor, but Talion can use it in Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor when he enters the Wraith world while in Ranged mode. This bow can be upgraded with Runes to gain special bonuses, and Shadow of Mordor is another game where archery is generally enjoyed by fans. You may not use it often, but between its gameplay and its connections to Lord of the Rings lore we feel Azkâr deserves recognition.

Dark Messiah of Might & Magic – Bow of the Dragonhorn – The Bow of the Dragonhorn available in Dark Messiah of Might & Magic is one of the most powerful bows in the game (especially against undead enemies) but that’s not why it has such a high spot on this list. Instead, we picked it out because many players consider Dark Messiah to have some of the most realistic and satisfying archery in video games with realistic aiming and physics.

Mount & Blade: Warband – Khergit Bow – Okay, the best bow is pretty divisive among fans but whether you favorite the Khergit Bow or one of the others, Mount & Blade: Warband is a must for satisfying archery combat. Just the fact that so many different bows can be considered the best depending on your style and preferences points to how strong its archery is. Not only that, but it has fairly realistic physics and aiming. In general, using a bow in Mount & Blade: Warband finds a nice balance point between realism and fun.

Tomb Raider – Compound Bow – As of the Tomb Raider reboot, the bow has become Lara’s standard weapon. There are many different types of bows you can use as well as various special arrows but as long as you don’t mind its slower rate of fire the Compound Bow is one of the best. It deals heavy damage and is a great choice for stealth. Tomb Raider and Rise of the Tomb Raider don’t have the most realistic archery combat but they do make it fun so give their bows a try.

Age of Chivalry – Longbow Age of Chivalry is a free total conversion mod for Half-Life 2 focused on medieval combat between two fictional orders. (The team eventually made a full game called Chivalry: Medieval Warfare.) Archers in Age of Chivalry can fight with a longbow, a crossbow, or a javelin, and the longbow’s fast pace and long range makes it our pick. Not only is archery a strong focus, but it’s also fairly realistic–Age of Chivalry is another go-to game for players interested in bows that try to feel realistic.

20 of the Best Video Game Bows Ever

 

Top 10 Video Games I’ve Actually Beaten

10. Dragon Age Franchise

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I almost didn’t add Dragon Age because, even if I have beaten every game, I didn’t want to add another RPG to the list. However, not only is RPG one of my favorite types of games, Dragon Age is an amazing series. Even the second one – oh yeah, I said it – which was rushed did well with that they had (YOU CAN’T RUSH ART!). I can’t wait for the 4th one!

9. Civilization Revolution

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So Civ Revolution is one of those games that doesn’t really have an ending, you just win rounds. Well, I’ve won it a ton and it’s probably my favorite of the series. It is different than most of the Civ franchise games and still a wonderful game to play and one I’ve put many, many, many, many hours into.
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8. Borderlands  1 & 2

I LOVE Borderlands! Both games were exceptional for totally different reasons. I had a lot of trouble getting into Pre-Sequel, which I know is a great game but it wasn’t capturing my attention at the time. Not only was it great to play, I miss a lot of the characters and hope they do so much more in the future. If you like FPS RPGs then you HAVE to play this series. Full of badass women and men, tons of inappropriateness and more guns than you can literally shake a stick at!

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Top 10 (Nerdy) Ways to Spend Your Tax Refund

So here we are, deep into February with March right around the corner.  It’s the beginning of tax season and with all that’s fit to buy, I’m going to offer up my top ten choices to spend a tax refund on:

10. Steam Wallet

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First off, Steam is addicting. With a sale for every season and weekly deals the year round, I suggest you dump part (or all) of you refund into your steam wallet. When the Spring sale starts, you won’t be able to cry you don’t have money in your bank account; it’ll be right there on Steam waiting for you to spend.

9. Kickstarter

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Following a close second to the constant games on sale are games yet to come out. Feeling nostalgic for a game you used to play? There’s likely a reboot, or an anniversary edition being crowdfunded on Kickstarter. I’ve got my 20th Anniversary Whiskey Box Edition of Deadlands coming and I can’t wait. New ideas abound there as well. There might be an awesome game you don’t know you’ll love just waiting for you to back it.

8. VR Equipment

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Virtual reality is hot, even Pornhub is into it (so I’m told). The high end phones, and even the PlayStation all have VR tech waiting to gobble up your cash.  There are inexpensive models you can purchase for your phone if you’re not ready for a setup the same price as a full console.

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Top 10: Video Game Soundtracks to Get You Through the Work Day

Greetings! Rinshi here. I haven’t written an article in a looooong time, huh? Well, part of that has to do with the fact that I’ve started working full time in an office. I know, I know: “But Rinshi! You can’t become just another boring office drone, forced into a routine of soul-crushing drudgery!” Fear not, gentle readers, for I have no intention of going quietly into that good night. My geek flag is flying higher than ever. The background on my dual monitors is of a super star destroyer and accompanying tie fighters. Jamison “Junkrat” Fawkes (my dear trash husbando) watches over me from his framed print on my desk, as do figures of Beetlejuice, David Lo Pan, and The Riddler. Once a week I play Dungeons and Dragons with coworkers over lunch. Even in the office, my nerd soul is sustained. I know there are many others who are not so lucky.

The work itself is not terribly exciting, being only somewhat more interesting than pure data entry, and so to help me get through the day’s tasks I like to pop in my earbuds and stream music from good ol’ YouTube. I soon found that soundtracks from video games were a wonderful resource, being intended already to serve in the background while you focus on more important things. Thus, I present to you ten of these gems so that you too can take advantage of them should you also have to pass your Mondays through Fridays, 9-5, in a desk chair staring at one or more computer screens. Lose yourself in the soothing sounds of adventure, beauty, wonder, and even a bit of excitement from the worlds contained within our incredible hobby. I found it wasn’t terribly fair to give them specific rankings, as there really is no single “best” and it is better to take them all as a whole to be enjoyed and rotated through throughout the day, so they are presented in no particular order.

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Top 10 Geeky Movies For When The World Is Ending And It’s Time To Start The Revolution

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Top 10 Geeky Movies For When The World Is Ending And It’s Time To Start The Revolution

Stories are powerful.

They are some of the most important things there are.  They teach us who we are, who we can be, and how to live our lives.  For many of us in the United States, the end of 2016 has been a time of profound suffering, and when we are suffering, stories can lift us up, bring us comfort, and strengthen us.  Over the past few weeks, I’ve found movies to be particularly helpful.  With that being said, I present “Top 10 Geeky Movies For When The World Is Ending And It’s Time To Start The Revolution.”

Full disclosure: my husband and I mainly watch two types of movies: children’s cartoons and franchise action flicks, so that’s what I’m going to be drawing on for this list (“Franchise action flicks?” said my husband. “That’s a pretty fancy way of saying ‘Marvel.’”  “Ah,” I said, “but we also saw Ghostbusters. That’s not Marvel.”)  And, while we’ve been spending our pre-apocalypse playing a fun game called “Give All Our Money To The Disney Corporation”  – they produced six of the ten movies on this list – Disney didn’t give me anything for writing this post other than sweet, sweet movies and movie-related merchandise.

Anyway, to paraphrase Jillian Holtzman, grown-up movies are for dudes.

10. Inside Out

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Inside Out is an amazing movie to watch at pretty much any time, but at its surface it doesn’t have much to do with the apocalypse or the revolution.  What it is about is processing difficult emotions.  I’ve been having a lot of those lately: anger, sadness, fear.  You probably have too.  Inside Out helps us name them and accept them.  It’s good to watch any time you’re going through something difficult; I must have watched it about a dozen times in 2016.  It helps.

 

 

 

9. The World’s End

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Shaun Of The Dead would have been a great pick, and I’m giving it an honorable mention, but I believe The World’s End is the strongest of Edgar Wright’s Cornetto movies in terms of theme, writing, and overall quality.  Besides: the name kind of says it all.

Spoilers:

The World’s End is about a group of friends who return to their home town to discover that their friends and family are being replaced by alien ‘blanks.’  They spend the rest of the movie fighting ‘blanks’ in some seriously badass action sequences and eventually defeat the aliens through sheer stubbornness.  “It’s no use arguing with you,” says the alien speaker before buggering off and leaving the humans to their own, dubious devices.  Also, the world ends.  But our main characters survive (more or less) and build new lives in the epilogue.  The world’s end is, for some, a new beginning.

8. Captain America: The First Avenger

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There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned Nazi-fighting superhero movie for when your country’s being taken over by neo-Nazis IRL.  Furthermore, Steve’s personal journey is one many of us can relate to.  He starts the film with little going for him other than courage and self-sacrifice, but grows into a true hero.  He stays true to his principles even when he becomes powerful, even when he feels like an impostor.  Captain Steve Rogers is someone we should all aspire to be like.  He reminds us what America’s true values look like, and what they don’t.

Speaking of TFA…

 

7. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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No Star Wars movie would be out of place on this list (well, maybe the Ewok movies but they shouldn’t count).  Their themes of resistance and rebellion against fascist autocracy are particularly resonant today.

Spoilers:

I chose TFA in particular for some of the same reasons I chose The World’s End.  Coruscant is destroyed, but it’s not the end of the movie (seriously, what is it with JJ Abrams and blowing up beloved planets?).  Han Solo dies, and it’s not the end of the movie.  Finn and Rey both had horrible childhoods that could have made them callous and bitter, but instead they join a generations-long fight for freedom and justice.  This is especially resonant in Finn’s case, as a former Storm Trooper.  The movie is a reminder that we can survive tragedy and that each of us has the capacity to become a hero.  Plus, I think that all of us have a Kylo Ren somewhere in our friends or family.

6.  Home

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Home got mediocre reviews when it came out, but I still don’t understand why.  It is for sure the best post-apocalyptic kids’ movie since Wall-E, if not even better.  Home is the first movie I watched after I learned the election results.  I watched it with my daughter.  It is the story of a daughter and her mother and the end of the world.

Spoilers:
The end of the world is prologue in Home.  We watch through the eyes of a well-meaning aliens as the humans of Earth are forcibly removed from their homes and transported to ‘Happy Humansville’ (totally not a concentration camp).  The aliens, known as the Boov, have destroyed human civilization without malice or even knowing that what they did was wrong.  As the film progresses, we watch Oh, the Boov voiced by Jim Parsons, befriend Tip, a human girl who has been separated from her mother.  Through knowing her, he slowly begins to realize what effect the Boov invasion has had on her life.  With creativity, empathy, and hope the two change the entire galaxy for the better.

5. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

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Much like with Star Wars, all of the Hunger Games movies deserve an honorable mention, but Catching Fire is special to me.  I chose it for this list because it is the beginning of the rebellion.  It is the point in the series where the ‘games’ become more than that: where the players start to look and act beyond the arena in earnest.

Spoilers:

The thing that, for me, makes Catching Fire so powerful right now is the story of people who have been pitted against each other by a system that controls and exploits them coming together to wield their righteous anger against that system.  At the climax, Katniss turns the table on the Panem elite, directing her weapon not at another player, but at the system itself.  In a time when so many of us are focused on levying blame on one another, we need to heed Haymitch’s words and remember who the enemy is.

4. Moana

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Ok, Moana probably seems like a break in the pattern, but bare with me.  The world doesn’t end in Moana (though it comes close), and nobody fights in a revolution.  At its core, though, Moana is a movie about moving beyond one’s comfort zone.  In order to save the world, Moana has to break with tradition and leave the island where her people have resided for a thousand years.  Maui overcomes anxiety and self-doubt, becoming a selfless hero  in the process.  Both characters embody courage, and that type of courage is one thing we desperately need.

The themes and story aren’t the only reasons I chose Moana, though.  Moana is the first movie on this list to come out after the 2016 election rocked our world.  When I saw it for the first time, I was expecting a brief escape from the nightmare around me, but what I got was much more than that.  I got a reminder that, even in the darkness, there is still good in the world.  Moana is the epitome of feminist princess movies; Moana stands on the shoulders of Belle and Jasmine, Mulan and Tiana.  She is both feminine and heroic, and there is no compromise or dichotomy between the two.  There doesn’t need to be.  Moreover, the film features only characters of color, played by actors of color.  That Moana is a major, box office topping motion picture today is evidence that even with everything that’s going on, there are a lot of good people in the world, who can accomplish amazing things when they work together.  It illustrates how far we’ve come as a society.  And that there’s just no telling how far we’ll go (sorry, I had to).

On that note (no pun intended), Moana is also the only musical on this list, and it’s a proven fact that singing makes people feel better(1).  So find the music, learn the lyrics, and rock out.  I sure as hell have and it’s the only thing that keeps me going some days.  Also, since they were composed by the same person, some of the melodies in Moana remind me of Hamilton, which is only not on this list because it is not a movie (yet).

3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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Without going too deep into spoilers, suffice it to say that for those of us in the USA, this movie has been a little too real as of late.

Spoilers:

…what with the bad guys we thought we got rid of at the end of World War II showing up again, infiltrating the government and messing everything up, not being able to trust anyone, the best friend brainwashed by Russians, leadership acting like nothing’s wrong even though it clearly is, I could go on and on.

Thomas Paine wrote, “THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman,”(2) leading some critics to posit that the true ‘winter soldier’ of the film is not Barnes, but Rogers, who stands steadfastly for his country even when everything is going to hell.  I’ll say it again: we should all aspire to be like Captain Steve Rogers.  It’s going to be a long winter.

2. Rogue One

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…I assume.  I haven’t actually seen it yet, but from what I hear it’s everything we need right now, and might just be the second best movie ever for starting a rebellion and fighting the evil empire when everything seems hopeless.  There’s only one movie that does it better.

 

 

1. Mad Max: Fury Road

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This film is pure perfection.  It’s got everything.  Apocalypse: check.  Revolution: check.  Baddies that are larger than life but seem a little too real in our current political climate: check and check.  The desolate landscapes that are showcased so beautifully are a perfect mirror for the desolation of my soul following the election, and the characters perfectly express the pain and rage I’ve been feeling and continue to feel.

And yet.  And yet it is still a story of heroes. A story of hard choices in desperate situations, of horror and violence, of unspeakable loss, but, ultimately of defiance, rebellion, and justice.  It teaches us that we are stronger than we know, better than we know, that we can find allies in unexpected places, and that, ultimately, even long after the world has ended, we still have the power to build a better society.

References:

  1. http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/inside-the-mind/emotions/singing-happy1.htm
  2. https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/175410-these-are-the-times-that-try-men-s-souls-the-summer

Thia the Bard’s Top 10 Horror Games

Thia the Bard’s Top 10 Horror Games

Here it is friends. October! My favorite month. It is filled with thrills and chills. Speaking of thrills it only seemed to proper to make this month’s Top 10 horror themed. Yes, it’s time to get spooky.

Here are some games to help you get into the Halloween spirit.

1. Five Nights at Freddy’s

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I don’t think I could compile a list like this without including this game. Five Night’s at Freddy’s is a horror game that, while it has limited gameplay, has been a fan favorite. Many of our favorite gamers to watch have been playing the games as they try to survive the night as an employee of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. While there isn’t a lot to the gameplay, the setting, music and overall theme does bring the scares.

2. Betrayal at House on the Hill

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Betrayal at House on the Hill is a favorite here at Real Women of Gaming. Wizards of the Coast developed this tabletop game that is a great one for any Halloween party. Players choose a character and start to explore the house by choosing different cards. The house builds as you play. Meanwhile, players are trying to acquire helpful items without flipping the tile that will set off an event that will lead to sudden yet inevitable betrayal of someone in your party. Then it is a game of survival against whatever horror has been unleashed.

3. Slender: The Arrival

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This one may be a little controversial to some people due to recent events. Slender: The Arrival is a survival game. Armed only with a flashlight, the player explores abandoned areas. Slenderman, based on the Creepy Pasta, flashes in and out of the player’s line of sight. His frequency and aggression depending on the level.

4. Dead of Winter

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Dead of Winter brings in an antagonist we can’t seem to get enough of, zombies. Wait…are the zombies really the biggest threat to the players? Every player chooses a character to play. Every character has a hidden agenda. A player could be hoarding gasoline because their card says to or they could be hoarding it because they are secretly working against everyone else. How do you know who to trust? With the undead at your door and shady people at your back, this game is a great horror tabletop.

5. Silent Hill

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Silent Hill is a horror game that has spawned multiple sequels and two movies. The games are set in a fictional town inspired by the real life burning Centralia in Pennsylvania. The town has multiple dimensions, one regular and the others are monster infested. The protagonist must complete different tasks and try to survive the monsters and baddies of the town. The games and the first movie are very popular. The games have been featured on many playthroughs and the characters have been used by many cosplayers.

6. Ouija

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There is a long history of people using “talking boards” to communicate with the dead. They gained popularity in America during the Spiritualist movement which began in the mid 1800s. The Ouija board has letters, numbers, “yes”, “no” and “goodbye” written on the board. The players use the planchette as a tool to communicate with the spirits following the rules of the game. There has been controversy that has come from many religious groups about a game being marketed for children that could open a door to demons or evil spirits.  Does it really, though?

7. The Uncle Who Works for Nintendo

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Recently, I was watching one of my favorite YouTubers and they started to play The Uncle Who Works For Nintendo. It is a text-based horror game. The player clicks on different options that then change the direction of the game. The game is fun. It also isn’t that long, even if the player goes for all the different endings.

8. Rippers

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Rippers is perfect for gamers who love both RPGs and the idea of being monster hunters. This game is set in a Victorian world with monsters on the loose. The players create characters who hunt the monsters down in a Van Helsing fashion. It sounds like a blast for a Halloween themed campaign.

9. Fran Bow

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Fran Bow is a game that our own Vanri the Rogue has been playing. After the murder of her parents, Fran is sent to a mental asylum for children. Her beloved cat, Mr. Midnight, cannot be found. After having a dream about him, she decides to run away to find him and her only living relative. The player solves puzzles and finds objects to help Fran on her quest.

10. Elder Sign

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Elder Sign is a personal favorite. I know it is found on a lot of these lists, but that’s because it’s a great game. The main goal of the game is to choose a character to help keep the Old Ancient Ones, like our lord and savior Cthulhu, from leaking into the Earth. Characters have special abilities to try to help them get artifacts and keep their sanity. The only problem is that you are reliant on the dice which, honestly, are always trying to kill us. It is a kind of complicated game, but so much fun. What more could you ask for this Halloween?

There you have it, my fiendish friends. I hope you bring out some of this frightful fun for Halloween this year!

Always keep sparkling!