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!
I’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.
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.
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.
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…)
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.
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…)
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!
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…)
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.
Le Fantôme de l’Opéra
Publisher and Date: Hurrican, 2013
Designers: Bruno Cathala and Ludovic Maublanc
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
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.
This is the first in a series of articles I will be posting about video and computer-gaming accessibility. Today’s post is by a guest blogger, and I’m very excited about her contribution. I’ve been watching her YouTube videos for a while, and they’re super interesting and helpful to disabled gamers. I hope you enjoy! Also, I’m always looking for more guest bloggers. If you have something to share, please contact me – you can find my e-mail on the About page, or just leave a comment. Now, on to introductions and the review!
My name is April, and I am a disabled gamer. After years of thinking outside the box to find strategies to get around roadblocks in video games, some friends convinced me to start a website to share my tips in hopes of helping others. I started Ability Powered in early 2013. Now, I post articles, guides, and tips on my website, and have guides and accessibility first-look videos on Youtube. You can check us out at www.abilitypowered.com, or on YouTube at www.youtube.com/abilitypowered.
World of Warcraft is Blizzard’s popular MMORPG. Players are challenged with the task of questing and defending the world of Azeroth from invasions of all kinds. With villians and injustice at every turn, you and your fellow gamers quickly become heroes! Sounds fantastic, right? But what about accessibility?
Mobility in Azeroth is, honestly, as good as it gets. There are multiple options allowing players to choose how they wish to move their character. You can move with traditional keyboard movement, which is fully remapable in the keybindings menu. You can also move with your mouse in multiple ways. By default, you can move by holding down both mouse buttons simultaneously. Want to only press one button? You can do that by enabling the Click to Walk option. Click to Walk allows you to right click a point for your character to automatically run to. Need to walk with your right mouse button, or need an on-screen jump button? That’s also an option! The addition of Move Pad made it possible for disabled gamers to click an on-screen menu to move their character with simple presses of a button. That’s four movement options available to meet players’ needs.
There’s a great little store in the local mall called Marbles – they sell various board games, card games, books, and toys, all to engage the different parts of your mind. It’s a chain, though I don’t think there are too many locations. Anyway, on my first trip there, I saw a tabletop game with an intriguing cover: a test tube bubbling over, amoeba-shaped art floating around it, and a bright, rainbowy color scheme. I asked the shop guy what it was about – he told me, “you basically destroy your opponent with science.” Without even glancing at the reviews on BoardGameGeek, I purchased it. I don’t usually buy a game without any inclination of how it plays, but I knew I needed to have this one. How did I end up liking it? Well, let’s find out.
Publish Date: 2011
Players: 3-7, though there is a two-player variant.
Ages: 10 and up
Length: 60 minutes
BGG Link: Strain
The object of Strain is to be the first player to score twelve victory points by completing the objectives pictured on your organism tiles. At the start of the game, the tiles are divided into three piles, differentiated by their categories: cytoplasms, organisms, and petri dishes. On each turn, the player must go through three phases, and perform the optional actions within these phases. The phases are: Awaken, Evolve, and Shed.
When I reviewed “The Loss” from Next Generation, I wrote about my general disappointment with the show. At that point, I’d only seen up to season four, and I felt it was bogged down by too many crew meetings and negotiations. Well, now that I’ve seen the series in its entirety, I have to say that I ended up loving it. Season five was an overall masterpiece, especially the episode “The Inner Light” – it changed my attitude toward the show, and the episodes continued to impress until the end of the series. The episode I’m reviewing now, “Ethics,” is the 16th installment from season five. I decided to review it because it’s sort of the opposite of “The Loss”; while there are a few misfires regarding disability, “Ethics” tends to get it right. I expected lots of cringe-worthy moments based on the synopsis and ableist trailer, but was pleasantly surprised by the points raised in the script. So let’s take a look at the episode, and see if you agree.
We open with Worf and La Forge investigating some chemical leak in cargo bay three. As they scan the area, they discuss a recent poker game. Thanks to his VISOR, Geordi can see through the cards, but he only admits to peeking after the hand is over. I liked this little banter between the two because it connects the reality of disability with everyday life. Some suggest that Geordi’s disability/VISOR are only used to make him “special” or “superhuman,” thus falling into a disability trope, but I disagree. His VISOR helps him navigate the world, just like my wheelchair helps me navigate the world. The fact that his VISOR can sometimes be helpful in a mission or, in this case, give him an advantage in a poker game, doesn’t take away from his fully-developed character; he has a backstory, love interests, hobbies, a personality, etc. TNG doesn’t focus on his disability – it is treated as part of who he is, but does not define who he is. What his VISOR can do is just a reality of the adaptive technology of that time period. My wheelchair can do some pretty nifty things as well, but that doesn’t make me “superhuman.” (more…)