A Bug’s Life

August 10, 2016 Comments off

A million years ago, I was working at the Dell Factory Outlet in Austin. This total nasty lady came into the Outlet Repair Center, barged through the line, going on and on about how our products were shit, and that she was Very Important and demanded an immediately fix or replacement. Basically, it was this NL25 386 notebook. There was a known issue with the chassis, as seen here:


We did free replacements on the cases via recall. These were not manufactured at the Dell facility, and we had to send them off to New Mexico or something to get them fixed at the factory. There was about a 3-week turn around. Mind you, this was about the time the first Pentium chips were coming out in the mid-90s, and this Very Important Person was furious about her beat up 386.

I get it. PCs are expensive and laptops more so. Especially back then. She ranted and yelled and cursed. Of course, the sales manager went and talked to the back of the house tech support manager. We actually repaired walk-in PC repairs (or folks could send them in) at the Factory Outlet Service Center.

At any rate, she said she plugged the thing in, it poofed and sparked, then went dead. She demanded our techs fix it (even tho we didn’t have the parts. The tech manager agreed, due to sales manager escalating. Charge for us to look at it was $129.00. She agree and said to fix it.

She left her number (pre cell phone days) for her office and went away. Our team continued to help the line. Wasn’t 2 minutes later I got a call to come to the back.

A tech bench had a bunch of folks around it, some with cans of spray. The tech manager used a screwdriver to lift the unscrewed lid and hundreds of tiny roaches scattered. The rest of the team started stomping and spraying. The manager grabbed a bunch of dead ones (he was wearing gloves) and put them in a baggie. Taped the whole thing shut, with the big bag of roaches taped to the top. They refused to touch it further and told me to call her to pick it up.

The same folks who were waiting in line were still there in line. Since she was easy to reach, I called her from the Front Desk, instead of the back of the house (because i cannot abide abuse. Angry customers? Sure. Abuse? NEVER).



When I hung up, the whole waiting room bust out laughing and also with nervous “ew gross” gigglesr. She arrived 10 minutes later, paid the $129 without speaking, grabbed her laptop and stormed out the building.

Categories: Main

All things Gen Con!

June 3, 2016 Comments off

I’m super duper excited about Gen Con this year, and not just because I was selected as one of the 2016 Industry Insiders. Okay that’s a big part of it.

I’m super honored to be chosen this year, and I look forward to meeting so many amazing people.

I’ll be doing my usual duties, working in the Green Ronin Publishing booth. Actually, I’ll be rocking the Geek & Sundry portion of the Gen Con booth. So stop by for some Critical Role and Titansgrave goodness. I’ll post more to my socials when I know exactly what we’re gonna be selling and doing with the team. So many secret plans! /evil *edit* Here’s everything Green Ronin and Geek & Sundry! 

Before I get into more Industry Insiders stuff, I want to first thank all the old and new volunteer GMs who are bringing 90+ RPG sessions to Gen Con! We’ll be running lots of Mutants & Masterminds, Titansgrave, Fantasy AGE, Dragon Age, Song of Ice & Fire RPG, DC Adventures, some Freeport Pathfinder, and even Ork! You can do a search for Green Ronin to see all the games we’ve submitted. *gleeee*

Back to the Industry Insiders! I’ll be on a few panels for the Seminars below. Signups are live, so go ahead and add it to your schedule.


SEM16100220  – ­ It’s A Jungle Out There: Safety For Gamers

Controversies over inclusivity & other issues have created a dangerous social media environment for gamers. Learn how to protect yourself online, help victims of harassment, & more.


SEM16100219 – Inclusive Gaming: How To Host & Create A Safe & Welcoming Space For All – ICC : 241 (1pm-2pm)

Learn about creating a fun, welcoming, supportive environment for all gamers at your table, & about how to build rich, inclusive stories that your players will remember for years to come.


SEM16100225 – Making RPG Welcoming To New Players – ICC : 241 (10am-11am)

As the RPG & story gaming hobby grows, we need to know how to create a warm, inviting & safe atmosphere for new players. How do we do our best to make sure these players have fun & come back?

SEM16100231- Social Media & The Gaming Industry –  ICC : 240 (4pm-5pm)

Social media has changed the world, & gaming is no exception. Discussion on ways to improve your online presence, market yourself & your game to prospective clients & customers.


SEM16100226 – Raising Money To Publish Your Board Game – ICC : 241 (11am-12pm)

Confused about Kickstarter? Flummoxed about funding? We will discuss a number of different ways to fund your board game project beyond just crowdfunding, including related legal and business issues.

Still not enough to find me? Here’s where else I will be:


  • Meeting Green Ronin GMs. I’ll be stationed outside the expo hall so my GMs can find me and get their badges, and whatever information. Look for my GR shirt and green hair. Come hang out with me from 1pm-7pm.
  • Dinner at the Claddaugh Pub. Dinner & GM badge handouts
  • Diana Jones Awards


  • Working in the Geek & Sundry area of the Green Ronin booth, with the exception of the seminar.
  • VIG Party


  • G&S at Green Ronin again. I’ll be MIA from about 10am – noon, as I wrangle the Critical Role Q&A panel, which starts at 11am. It’s free, but you need a free ticket to attend. No generics accepted. Once the ticketed folks are sat, anyone can come in without a ticket, if there is room.
  • Playing Games with GR staff. Somewhere. Some time. I hope there is beer.



  • G&S at Green Ronin booth! Final seminar! Last hugs! Sales!
  • GR dinner and probably some drinks in there. Hah!


I Call BS

May 13, 2016 Comments off

Owen K.C. Stephens

It’s gatekeeping elitist narrow-minded BS of the worst sort to cowardly hint that a drive for diversity has caused the Industry Insider program to mysteriously lower its standards and result in a slate of lesser-known designers. And yet, many people are doing so, and some leaders in the industry are winking and elbow-nudging rather than taking a stand and calling BS.
So for the record, claiming diversity was only achieved by lowering standards in the program IS BULLSHIT. Of the highest order.
I was an Industry Insider once, with more than a decade of experience under my belt. Most of the other *PANELISTS* had no fucking clue who I was.
Next time someone makes that claim, I want to grill them about who the people who were in the program over the past decade were, and see how many of them are known, as compared to multiple salaried developers and managers…

View original post 59 more words

Categories: Main

Baby, I’m a Star

April 22, 2016 Comments off

I don’t have it in me to go into what Prince’s music has meant to me and the impact it had in my life when was younger. I do have a story about how his music came up in a very unexpected way for me many years ago.

My favorite Prince song is “Baby, I’m a Star”. I first heard it while watching “Purple Rain”. It was a pretty emotional movie. Sure, the acting wasn’t the greatest, but it wasn’t full of actors. But boy, did that movie  have heart.

When Prince & the Revolution played this song at the end, I heard it as a joyful expression of just playing music. The joy of music. Of performing. It was like everyone in the audience of that live recording was all in sync with Prince. Being a part of his joy. You can see it in this video.

So. I used to be a club DJ. Back in 1985, I was working in San Antonio. I was the DJ at the Hyatt, down on the Riverwalk. It was a slow night, in winter. Most of the customers around that time, were folks who worked in the bars, hotels, and restaurants on the River. It was super slow, as it was the downtime between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and a ‘school night’ to boot.


Normally, I stuck to a lot of the regular Top 40 dance tunes, but also a lot of my fave funk/freestyle tunes like Debbie Deb, Shannon, Freestyle, Trinere, Sheila E, Dazz, Gap Bad. On those slower nights, I also mixed in Lena Lovich, Nina Hagen, King Creole & the Coconuts. As long as the bar was full of “river rats” aka the folks who worked in hospitality, I could play what I wanted. After all, they were spending LOTS of money on drinks.

Anyway, so that December night, there was a KISS concert in town. There were heaps of young women and teenage girls running around the area. Apparently, they were staying at the Hyatt, I think? A lot of women tried to come into the bar, but since they weren’t 21, they were turned away.

I was playing some tune and folks were dancing. Until these two ROCK GODS walked in. I quickly saw it wasn’t Gene Simmons nor Paul Stanley, which were the only two KISS people I knew on sight. They were taken to a table with some security dudes and groupies.

Of course, the whole crowd wanted me to start playing KISS music. I figured that was the last thing they would want to hear. And the only song I had from them was “Lick it Up”. Yuck.

I put on a long song and went over to talk to them. ‘Hey, I’m the DJ here and everyone wants to hear some KISS. I’d rather play what YOU want to hear, and I’ll make a dedication or some shit”.

One of the dudes, “BABY, I’M A STAR! PLAY THAT!”

I was so jazzed and excited. Except, you gotta slam that one in right. Remember, this is Ye Olde Vinyl Dayes, so I have to be super precise on how I put this one in, for a couple of reasons. First, it comes very quickly after I Would Die 4 U. Essentially, you have a downbeat to knock it in on Baby’s first note. When mixing vinyl, you have to have a precise touch for matching the beats, which 12″ dance singles are made for. You match the beats, adjusting so it’s seamless. (gods, I miss this). With this one? You basically have to have your finger ready in the exact place, to hit the exact beat of the song already playing. You “slam” it in there. BAM. The song just HITS you.

I don’t even remember what I was playing, but I was talking over a part of the music with the “hey folks, this one goes out to you from KISS” and then SLAMMED IT.

Hard and loud.

It wasn’t what the crowd expected. But they went wild. Like jumping up and down wild. And that one dude from KISS…came out and dance in the middle of it all. People weren’t trying to do the best moves. They weren’t trying to show off, hook up, or anything.

For those few minutes, people were simply dancing joyfully. The feeling of oneness between the DJ, the crowd, and the song is one I simply cannot describe. It’s a feeling I think that Prince would have loved.


Categories: Main

NorWesCon 2016

March 8, 2016 Comments off

Luke, I am a Jedi...

It’s the time of year again, when I dust off the blog and post my NorWesCon schedule. I’ve got a pretty light year, with only 7 panels! Go me! I’m moderating most of them, so I really should email the panelists so we’re all on the same page regarding the discussion.

First, the non-panel things. We’ll have an OrcaCon table in the Club Table row. If you’re at NorWesCon, you can drop by and say hello. We’ll be handing out ribbons and promoting OrcaCon 2017. We’ll have a suite this year for #NachosBeerCon, which is really just having a quiet space to play games, eat nachos, and drink beer.

Now, on to the panel schedule!


Make a Gaming Night Recipe Book / 4:00 PM-5:00 PM – Cascade 12
A good thing to have for gaming nights is a recipe book with quick recipes that can be dished up away from the table, including good meals that are friendly to all participants and don’t get in the way of the evening’s games. For bonus nerd points you can give the recipes nerd themed names, which we’ll definitely be doing … because nerds.
Elizabeth Guizzetti (M), Lilith Whitewolf, Ogre Whiteside, SunnyJim Morgan, Donna Prior


Non-Traditional Gamers Speak / Fri 1:00 PM-2:00 PM – Evergreen 1&2
Come hear how gaming is and be an even more inclusive environment.
Donna Prior (M), J. F. High, Burton Gamble, Mickey Schulz


Video Games 101 / Sat 12:00 PM-1:00 PM – Cascade 5&6
FPS, MMO, RTS, MOBA… What do these acronyms mean? How do I select a console or platform that suits my needs? How do I manage my time and not miss dinner? How do I deal with harassment and trolls? What’s good etiquette for various online interactions? If you’ve asked any one of these questions or have similar queries, come ask our panel of experts.
Donna Prior (M), Elizabeth Sampat, Jonny Nero Action Hero, Annie Bellet, Burton Gamble

Internet & Real Life Trolls / Sat 4:00 PM-5:00 PM – Cascade 7&8
From Gamergaters to Rabid Puppies to the person who just doesn’t think that being “PC” is important… How does this affect the real people who are being subjected to mistreatment? What can we do take a stand against it? Should we and how should we?
Donna Prior (M), Mickey Schulz, Elizabeth Sampat, Rafeal Richardson

Is Fandom More Diverse & Accepting? / Sat 6:00 PM-7:00 PM – Cascade 7&8
The idea that fandom and SF/F is more accepting and diverse is often bandied around. Is that true? How do we move beyond the oppressive tropes? And what can we do to be aware of creating a truly accepting environment? How do we build inclusive communities?
Rafeal Richardson (M), Donna Prior, Brenna Clarke Gray, Sheye Anne Blaze

Geek Policing: Don’t Do It / Sun 1:00 PM-2:00 PM – Cascade 9
Geek policing and gate-keeping happens when someone evinces interest in something of the nerdy persuasion, and someone else starts quizzing them on it like nerddom is the Ivy League. It’s not okay. And we—all of us nerds of all races, genders, orientations, and ages—need to stop it. Period.
Donna Prior (M), Jeff Harris, Shubzilla, J. Rachel Edidin, Jonny Nero Action Hero

Star Wars: A (New) New Hope / Sun 3:00 PM-4:00 PM – Cascade 10
The Force Awakens came out last December, and fan passions are running deep. Was it a brilliant update that brought the saga to a new generation? Or a lens-flared fiasco of Jar-Jarian proportions? Either way, Disney is going all-in on all things Star Wars, so there’s much, much more on the way.
Donna Prior (M), Rafeal Richardson, Dee Wright, Jeremy Zimmerman, David Fooden

Categories: Main

GaymerX 2015 and me!

December 1, 2015 Comments off

Weee! I am so excited about attending GaymerX this year! I backed the first Kickstarter, but was unable to attend. I wanted to back the second, but I was in between gigs. Now I am super jazzed that not only can I attend, but I will be one of the RPG Bosses of Honor! *squeee* Look at the amazing Bosses of Honor!


I’ve got numerous panels and three RPG sessions, plus I’ll be running around playing games as much as possible. I’ll have copies of our game Love2Hate, plus other portable card/board games. Such a nerd. I’m also up for on-the-fly demos of Dragon Age RPG and Titansgrave RPG. I’ll bring plenty of character sheets!


Coming out in the Game Industry 1pm-2pm
From last year’s panel, we expand upon the struggles many have in coming out in the game industry, both on a personal level to friends and family, as well as a professional level to co-workers. If you are trying to find a way to be an open gaymer, come to this panel!

Titansgrave Friday, Dec 11, 2-4pm (4 spots open)
Explore the mysterious Rust Wastes, a technological graveyard in the city-state of Nestora that promises grave danger & wondrous rewards. Your characters will explore the mysterious Rust Wastes, a technological graveyard in the city-state of Nestora that promises grave danger and wondrous rewards. What secrets do the Rust Wastes hide? Titansgrave is the new RPG setting created for Wil Wheaton’s RPG show, “Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana”.

Building Inclusive Gaming Communities On & Offline 6pm-7pm
Community is the most important thing. But how do you build a community and make sure it is a healthy and welcoming one? Join us as we talk about building communities both online and offline around the things we  love the most. Because we know how important it is to find like minded people who understand what we go through. Let us show you how to make sure that happens by giving you the tools and knowledge to create it yourself.


Diversity in Games – What’s Next? 12pm-1pm
In this panel we will explore what developers can do to include all types of players. We will also encourage open discussion with the audience to learn how the community feels the industry needs to change to make a more inclusive generation of games.

Queer as a 3-sided Die 3pm-4pm
Industry panelists lead discussion of gender and sexuality issues in gaming from design and publishing to game-play and community.

Titansgrave Saturday, Dec 12, 6-8pm (5 spots open)
Explore the mysterious Rust Wastes, a technological graveyard in the city-state of Nestora that promises grave danger & wondrous rewards. Your characters will explore the mysterious Rust Wastes, a technological graveyard in the city-state of Nestora that promises grave danger and wondrous rewards. What secrets do the Rust Wastes hide? Titansgrave is the new RPG setting created for Wil Wheaton’s RPG show, “Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana”.


Dragon Age Sunday, Dec 13, 10am-12pm (2 spots open)
The Arl of Stenhold is hiring adventurers to escort his children home from an extended family visit in Denerim. The money’s good; what could go wrong? Based on the hugely popular video games, the Dragon Age RPG brings the excitement of BioWare’s rich fantasy world to the tabletop.

All Your Culture Are Belong to us: Appropriation, Erasure, and RPGs 1pm-2pm
You favorite game might be problematic… but it doesn’t have to be. This panel will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of RPG’s while pointing out examples of cultural appropriation or erasure.

NorWesCon 2015 Schedule!

February 2, 2015 Comments off

It’s that time again, the time we all love! CONVENTION SEASON! I’ve got heaps of things going on with Emerald City ComicCon, GottaCon, NorWesCon, Gen Con, and more. But for right now, I wanted to get my NorWesCon schedule online so I can link it around. For the times I am not in a panel, I will be hosting the OrcaCon table in the Fan Table hallway. Other than that, I’ll be enjoying NachosBeerCon in the bar!

Thursday, April 2nd

Your Grandma’s a Gamer, Too – Cascade 7&8 5:00PM-6:00PM

The accessibility of games is increasing due to phones and tablets, so who is actually playing all these new games? Let’s talk about what is out there and how to find the good ones.
Donna Prior (M), Adrienne Carlson, Jonny Nero Action Hero

How to Give Good Panel – Cascade 12 6:00PM-7:00PM
Tips and tricks on being a good moderator, panelist, or presenter at a convention. What’s your job, really, when your name appears after a panel description in the program book? How do you keep it on-topic and interesting for the audience? And what do you do when some blowhard in the back row thinks they know more than you?
Margaret Organ-Kean (M), Donna Prior, Bart Kemper

Is Fandom More Diverse & Accepting? – Cascade 6 8:00PM-9:00PM
The idea that fandom and SF/F is more accepting and diverse is often bandied around. Is that true? How do we move beyond the oppressive tropes? And what can we do to be aware of creating a truly accepting environment?
Sheye Anne Blaze (M), Amber Clark, Maida ‘Mac’ Combs, Donna Prior

Friday, April 3rd

How are Games & Gamers Changing the World? – Cascade 9 12:00PM-1:00PM
A discussion about the rising sun of the gamer, and all the different ways that this generation who grew up on video games has changed with how the world works. This will cover both the good and the bad.
Donna Prior (M), Elizabeth Sampat, David J. Peterson, Jonny Nero Action Hero, C0splay

Building a Community – Cascade 9 1:00PM-2:00PM
You have a passion that you want to share with the world. You know there are other people out there with similar interests, but how do you find them? Share and learn tips on building your passion into a community.
Mike Robles (M), Tifa Robles, Donna Prior, G. Willow Wilson

GOH Q&A – Grand 3 3:00PM-4:00PM
An interview and Q&A session with Norwescon 38 Artist Guest of Honor Julie Dillon.
Julie Dillon, Donna Prior

The Future Belongs to Everyone – Cascade 5 8:00PM-9:00PM
Recognizing positive examples of race, gender, and sexual identity in popular media.
Dennis R. Upkins (M), Sheye Anne Blaze, Maida ‘Mac’ Combs, Donna Prior

Saturday, April 4th

Creating Inclusive Gaming Groups & Events – Cascade 10 5:00PM-6:00PM
Enjoy board games? Love the idea of painting miniatures? Want to know how to find inclusive groups for gaming? How do you create your own gaming meet-ups? Our panelists will give you tips on creating game groups, finding public game meet-ups, and enjoying gaming conventions as a newbie. Want to be a better organizer? We’ll work with you to build positivity in your current groups, how to find new players, and how to encourage their participation.
Donna Prior (M), Elizabeth Sampat, Gwen Yeh, Bijhan Valibeigi

Sunday, April 5th

The Geek Secret Handshake – Cascade 7&8 12:00PM-1:00PM
School, work and social environments sometimes make it hard to fly your geek flag as prominently as you might like. Get and share tips for recognizing kindred spirits without freaking the mundanes. (I have Opinions(TM) about the term “freaking the mundanes” and will certainly share it)
Mike Robles (M), Donna Prior, David Shoemaker, Michael G. Munz, Minim Calibre

Fandom in Daily Life – Cascade 3&4 2:00PM-3:00PM
Are you weird, geeky, or a total nerd, and proud of it? Do you express your fannishness in daily life, or do you tone it down for your day job? Come participate in a discussion and share how you show your fannish colors.
Victoria Shaffer (M), Donna Prior, Mike Robles, Jonny Nero Action Hero, Shubzilla


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