Comic Review #2 – The Batman Chronicles #5 “Oracle: Year One”

Batman Chronicles #5 cover

I’m a huge fan of Gail Simone’s Batgirl, a series in DC Comic’s New 52 reboot; I was heartbroken when I learned she was stepping down as writer. She breathed life into the character, giving her a nuanced personality, with hopes, fears, relationship problems, family issues (to put it mildly) - and she wasn’t perfect. In other words, Gail Simone made Barbara Gordon relatable, a very average person doing extraordinary things, and that is something I treasure in comics. While I’m not a new fan of Batman, and have read some Batgirl comics in the past, Simone’s New 52 run is the first time I really delved into the character.

Simone started writing for the hero in Birds of Prey, where Barbara was known as Oracle - a persona she embodied after being shot and paralyzed by The Joker in the last comic I reviewed, The Killing Joke. That review was the start of my journey in exploring this character, and I’ve grown to love what she stands for. Oracle is disabled, but she’s not a trope. She is everything she was as Batgirl - smart, powerful, and resilient - but she had to redefine herself because of her disability. She couldn’t go out and fight criminals like she once did, but by using the skills she already had, she created a new, fulfilling life for herself.

When the New 52 reboot was announced, readers learned that Barbara Gordon would be “cured”; she would be back to her spandex and crime-fighting ways. Oracle, a character many had grown to love, was gone; she was once again Batgirl, stripped of her disability. This upset many readers, and Gail Simone was initially against the change herself. Then why was this icon for disabled comic fans taken from us? There is an interview with Gail you can read by clicking here that explains the decision, but I understand why fans continue to be upset over this. However, I think it’s important to remember that the decision was ultimately in DC’s hands, and Ms. Simone continues to create diverse characters (including other disabled individuals) that grace the pages of mainstream comics. That last fact is one reason why I remain an ardent fan of her work.

Since my obsession with Batgirl and Oracle has grown over time, and considering the focus of this blog, I thought it would be important for me to review crucial moments in the hero’s story. I want to make this a regular thing for The Geeky Gimp – a series, if you will. Sure, I’ll review other comic titles as well, but my passion lies here, with Barbara and Oracle and Batgirl. I suppose you could say I started the series already, with my review of The Killing Joke, but I feel icky beginning there. That comic was well done, from a purely artistic level, but it’s a painful read for me. It disturbed me. That isn’t how I want to introduce this character I love.

So I’m starting here, officially, with The Batman Chronicles #5′s “Oracle: Year One”. This is where Barbara stops feeling like nothing more than a victim, and starts empowering herself. The birth of Oracle, written by John Ostrander and the late Kim Yale, takes the horror and sexism of The Killing Joke and turns it into something meaningful. They give power back to the character, while portraying newly-aquired disability in a realistic manner. (more…)

Read More

Lift Off! Interview with Eduardo Baraf

Greetings, earthlings!

I’m excited to present to you my new YouTube channel, titled The Geeky Gimp Presents! I’ll still be blogging here, but this is just a way for me to branch out, challenge myself with a new creative outlet, and engage my subscribers. For my very first video, I interviewed designer Eduardo Baraf. We discuss he new game, Lift Off, which is quickly becoming a hit on Kickstarter. We also talk about accessibility in gaming, his design process, and his previous game, Murder of Crows.

Transcript is available here in PDF, or below the video. PDF: LiftOffTranscript

The video also has subtitles.

You can watch the video below, or click on this link. Subscribe to the channel and receive updates on new videos! I will still be writing here, of course, but I’m just branching out into vlogging!

I hope you enjoy.

(more…)

Read More

Computer/Video Game Review #4 – Sherlock Holmes: Murder at the Diogenes Club

Choose-your-own adventure fans, check out my review for the iOS game, Sherlock Holmes: Murder at the Diogenes Club over at Gamerrazzi! Just click on the image below, or the link in this sentence.

Also, stay tuned next week for the announcement of my new YouTube channel! I’ll be posting a video interview with Eduardo Baraf, designer of Murder of Crows, a game I reviewed a while back. He has a new game coming out, and we’ll talk about that, as well as accessibility in gaming, his design process, and more.

As always, thanks for reading!

 

Sherlock Holmes Solo Mysteries

p5rn7vb

Read More

Update #4: Twitch Streaming and Upcoming Reviews

You can now follow me on Twitch, an online community for live game streaming. Watch me play World of Warcraft, Star Trek Online, and a slew of other games! I have my webcam and microphone on the ready, and I’d love to chat with my fellow geeky gamers. I’ll even invite some of you to play along.

I plan to stream regularly on Thursday and Sunday evenings, around 9 p.m. EST. I’ll also be streaming intermittently in between, so “favorite” my channel on Twitch for updates on when I go live. Just click on the image below to visit the channel!

The Geeky Gimp Twitch ChannelI’m currently working on some reviews for The Geeky Gimp. I’m not exact on scheduling, but you can expect these in the next few months:

  • Comics: Batman Chronicles #5 – Oracle Year One, Batgirl Annual #2 (Did you know I love Batgirl? Because I love Batgirl)
  •  Tabletop Gaming: Ticket to Ride 10th Anniversary Edition, Splendor, Dungeon Roll
  • Video Gaming: Sherlock Holmes: Murder at Diogenes Club, Tomb Raider
  • TV: The X-Files “All Souls”
  • Movie: The Amazing Spider-Man

As always, comments, questions, and suggestions are welcome! Thanks for reading – I really appreciate all of the feedback I’ve received so far.

 

Read More

Computer/Video Game Review #3 – Nancy Drew #30: The Shattered Medallion

Recently, I joined a video game blog site aimed at gamers with disabilities. It’s called Gamerrazzi, and you can find it by clicking here. I’m honored to be a part of their writing staff! I will write Mac/PC and PS4 game reviews, with other opinion pieces scattered along the way. I’ll still be blogging here, of course, but Gamerrazzi is a great opportunity for me to help spread the word about access in gaming, and gamers with disabilities.

My first review has been posted there, and it’s of the latest Nancy Drew computer game, The Shattered Medallion. To check it out, just click on the image below or click here.

Nancy Drew Shattered Medallion logo

Read More

Gender in the Movies – Inamorata

Inamorata is a short film about women’s rights and sexuality in the 1960s. It’s being made by director Dominick Evans, who identifies as disabled. This is an important film, and is currently being funded on Indiegogo. You can check out the campaign by clicking here, or at the end of this interview. Since this movie is one I think needs to be made, I wanted to support the project as much as possible. It’s crucial that we include marginalized voices in the media we digest, and Dominick is striving to promote that through his work. I got a chance to speak to him about directing, education, films, and the ableism he has faced in his career.

Dominick talking about his film
Dominick talking about his film, Inamorata

Hi, Dominick. Can you tell us a little about yourself, and how you got involved in film-making?

I’m 33 years old and was born and raised in Toledo, OH. I actually grew up in a little town outside of Toledo city limits called Walbridge. It was so small I used to cruise around in my wheelchair, and could get from one side of town to the other in about 15 minutes. At 4 I was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type III. I walked until I was 16, but started using a scooter when I was 11, due to inability to walk long distances. I am the baby of my family. I have two, much older, half brothers, and one full-blooded brother. I’m Polish on my dad’s side and have a rich Polish heritage I have enjoyed discovering as I have gotten older. My maternal side is mostly British and Irish. I was very close to my Irish grandfather, Willie, who died last year, at 94. Other than my dad, who died when I was 20, Willie was my biggest fan. He always encouraged me to follow my dreams no matter what anyone else said about me. I currently live in Dayton, OH with my girlfriend of almost 12 years, Ashtyn, our teenage son, and our adorable shih tzu, Molly. Ash is from Michigan and we lived up there until I decided to return to Ohio to go to film school down in Dayton. (more…)

Read More

Tabletop Game Review #5 – Paperback

During one of my daily BoardGameGeek website visits, I came across Paperback, a game by designer Tim Fowers. It was only on Kickstarter, with a few people receiving and playing prototypes. Advertised as a Scrabble-like deck builder, I knew I had to back it. I’ve been playing Scrabble with my family since I was a kid, and I figured this was something I could enjoy with my parents. About six months after the Kickstarter, I received Paperback in the mail. I had completely forgotten that I’d ordered it, so talk about a pleasant surprise! I managed to play two games of it since then, and you can read my thoughts in this review. Currently, the only way to buy this game is to find it on auctions, or pre-order the second printing. You can order it here (click me!), and I strongly encourage it if it seems like something you’d enjoy. Once pre-orders reach 500, the printing will proceed, and you will not be charged until that goal is reached. But I have no doubt it will happen.

Also, this is a special review because I am co-hosting/co-reviewing with Mr. Richard Ham of Rahdo Runs Through! I’m a huge fan of his videos, and I can’t believe I am getting the opportunity to collaborate with him. Thanks to Richard, my wallet has suffered from buying the games he features on his channel. I can’t say I mind, though my mom is a bit annoyed at the stacks of board games taking over the house. C’est la vie! There is a great interview at the end of this review, and once Richard posts his video and final thoughts, I will include them in this post. [Edit: the videos are now below!] Meanwhile, check out his run throughs on YouTube by clicking the link in this paragraph.

This review also will be different because I am trying out a slightly new format. Let me know which you like better in the comments – just check past tabletop reviews for comparison. I’m always trying to improve, so feel free to give constructive criticism :) Now, on to the review! As always, click on the images to enlarge them.

Paperback box
Paperback box.

 

Overview:

Game: Paperback

Designer: Tim Fowers

Artist: Ryan Goldsberry

Publish Date: 2014

Players: 2 to 5 gamers, ages 8 and up

You’ll like this if you like: Scrabble, Dominion, Boggle (more…)

Read More

Computer/Video Game Review #2 – Grail to the Thief

Grail to the Thief is an interactive audio adventure game that is currently on Kickstarter, and produced by For All to Play. It simulates text-based adventures, or pick-your-own adventure games, and adds audio (including ambient sound, narration, and dialogue) for blind accessibility. I was able to play the prototype, currently available for Chrome and Opera users, and absolutely loved it. The story is engaging and humorous, while giving the player a lot of variety and freedom. Unlike other text adventure games where you must type in commands, Grail to the Thief offers you multiple choices to advance in the quest. Also, the sounds included in the prototype are not complete yet, but I really liked what I heard so far – the character voices are not dull, and made me feel like I was really interacting with them. The story itself is amusing, and I can’t wait to see what other adventures will be created for subsequent games!

Grail to the Thief logo
Grail to the Thief Logo

The creators of Grail to the Thief, Elias Aoude, Anthony Russo, and DJ White, were kind enough to answer some questions for me.

1) Can you tell us about yourselves and how you got into game design?

Elias: I’ve been playing video games my whole life. I can still remember going to the local toy store with my parents to purchase my first video-game console, the Nintendo Entertainment System. I brought it home and played Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt with my parents, siblings, and cousin all night long. I knew at a young age that I wanted to be working in the video game industry in some capacity, and now, I’m finally doing that.

Anthony: Games have always been, and will continue to be, a huge part of my life. I started playing games at a very young age, probably around two or three, on NES and later, Sega Genesis. I cannot remember a holiday, birthday, or trip outside the house that I didn’t ask to buy a game. I have wedged games into my life in every way that I possibly could. At a young age, I started learning how to produce 3D art for games. I wrote papers all throughout high school on the design and psychological effects of games. Even my Eagle Scout project was related to games, as I donated a Wii to a retirement home so the residents could get up and bowl once in a while and have fun as a community.

I am a lucky person, in that I have always known what I wanted to do and why. I want to make games because I want to deliver the sense of community and enjoyment that games have given to me my whole life to others. Whether it’s yelling at friends over multiplayer games, comparing times in a racing game, discussing story beats of a well-written narrative game, or talking about the intricate mechanics of the latest strategy game, I have yet to see a more social, engaging, dynamic medium than games. I have always wanted to be a part of its production, and I can’t imagine doing anything else.

DJ: I’ve always been really interested in video games. My parents owned an NES before I was born, so some of my earliest memories are actually of watching my mom play The Legend of Zelda. But I never really considered working on games until I was at WPI. I had already decided to head towards computer science, but as I thought more about what I was planning on doing after school, I realized that game design was where I was really headed. (more…)

Read More

Tabletop Game Review #4 – Le Fantôme de l’Opéra

Cover of game
Box cover! Click any image to enlarge them.

This past Christmas, I participated in BoardGameGeek’s Secret Santa. It’s a pretty huge event, with over a thousand people signing up to send complete strangers brand-new board games. This was my first year giving it a go, and I could not have been happier with my experience. Not only did my Santa send me Forbidden Desert and Ghost Stories, two games that have been on my radar for a while, but they also sent the hard-to-find (at the time) Le Fantôme de l’Opéra. I’d heard about Fantôme when I read a preview of the new games premiering at Essen, and the theme alone sold me. Phantom of the Opera is kind of my guilty pleasure – I adore the musical, and even liked the Gerard Butler movie. My mom is a bigger fan than me, so I knew I had to get this game as soon as it came out. Thanks to my Secret Santa, though, I didn’t have to! If you’re reading this, Santa, you’re awesome. So what is this game all about? Did it live up to my expectations? Let’s find out.

Overview:

Le Fantôme de l’Opéra
Publisher and Date: Hurrican, 2013
Designers: Bruno Cathala and Ludovic Maublanc
Players: 2
Ages: 9 and up
Length: 30 minutes
BoardGameGeek Link: Le Fantôme de l’Opéra
You’ll like this if you like: Mr. Jack, Clue, or any strategic bluffing game

(more…)

Read More

Update #3 – Support this Kickstarter!

Right now, I’m working on a review of Le Fantôme de l’Opéra, a great board game of strategy and deception. You can expect to see that some time this week – maybe even tomorrow! But before I posted that, I wanted to let you all know about a great Kickstarter that I recently supported.

64 oz. Games is working on making board games accessible for the blind community. They have created card sleeves and accessories with braille text for some popular games, such as: 7 Wonders, Lost Cities, Dominion, Munchkin, and more. They are looking to expand this list, but they need your help. 64 oz. Games is also producing their own micro party game for blind users called Yoink! In this game, you have to feel for different shapes and patterns on the cards, and be the first to make a complete matching set. You can watch videos for this, and their braille products, on the Kickstarter page. I highly suggest you chip in, even if it’s only $5! It is so important to make board gaming accessible for all, and this project by 64 oz. Games is crucial in that endeavor. 

You can find their Kickstarter here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/64ouncegames/board-games-now-blind-accessible

If you can’t make a donation, please spread the word by sharing the link with your friends on Twitter or Facebook. Thanks!

Read More