Archive for September, 2011

Where I yammer on about Indie Video Games.

September 25, 2011 2 comments

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably noticed that I support Indie Games. I love them, even if they’re not a game I’d normally play. Yes, I get MORE excited if I have played it or seen it and /want/ to play it. I don’t own a console (really) but I do see a lot of great games which drive me to WANT one. So, most of the games I recommend are on the PC (or your computer of choice). Here are the top games I love or I am looking forward to seeing soon.

Cogs – I first fell in love with Cogs a couple of years ago when I found it on a random “steampunk games” search. I was looking for steampunk-themed games to showcase at the first Steamcon Seattle and fell in love. Lazy 8 Studios founder Rob Jagnow is a smart guy; a very nice one, too!

His passion for creating accessible good games is quite apparent when you meet him. I’ve been able to watch Cogs jump from being PC only, to being developed across many platforms. I have a pretty short puzzle fuse, as it were. But I enjoy that Cogs can be played a variety of ways. I’m much less likely to succeed in a time challenge than one based on moves. Some puzzles are very easy for me (gears & chimes) and some are downright impossible (anything with steam pipes). Still, I fail the puzzle, but I still feel that I’ve succeeded. This is a smart and beautiful game. Please buy it on as many platforms as you can.

Machinarium – I also found this game whilst researching Steampunk games. Machinarium is a point-and-click puzzle game. Now, I’m not normally a point-and-click kinda of gal; Machinarium changed my perception of this style. It is much more than just pointing and clicking. There are a lot of mini-puzzles and certain sequences you have to figure out to move the story along. And the story? Adorable.

Whenever I play, I am always immersed into the story of the little robots. It’s all done with thought bubbles and pictures to convey the feelings of the robots and how to move the story along. My favorite part is the mini-game which you find when you want hints. As a big fan of the Defender & Stargate arcade games, I was tickled to find this wee mini-game. Seriously, just get this. It is fantastic.

Osmos – I’ve seen this style of game before, but I am not sure I have seen one as beautifully done as this. The music is sublime. Hell, sometimes I’ll start the game and just listen while I’m working, doing chores or whatnot. I don’t think I have the words to quite describe why this game is so compelling. Or maybe I just did.


I first saw Osmos at PAX Prime in 2009. Every time I walked by the booth, I was drawn in by the beauty of the game and the soundtrack. One of the things I have enjoyed most about the game is that I have to SLOW DOWN. There’s no race to absorb the motes (mostly) and the slow & steady approach is actually the better one. I’m such a crappy gamer, so I just stumble through games, trying to beat them into submission. This game has helped me relax and focus into playing the type of game I don’t normally play. Which has carried over into the games I DO normally play.

Choice of Games – I first discovered these folks when I finally upgraded to a smart phone (Android,’natch). I wasn’t really feeling a lot of the games out there and was unsure I wanted to /pay/ for games on my phone (I have since changed my mind about that paying part). At the time, they only had one game out, Choice of the Dragon.

Well, I love stories, choose your own adventure AND DRAGONS. It was a perfect fit. I loved that I could promote the game via social media. Also, I loved that they also respond well to constructive criticism. Not only that, they take the discussions of gender and get input from their community! As Adam Strong-Morse writes in his post Gender in Choice of the Dragon

We discussed the treatment of gender extensively as we were planning our first game. I self-identify as a feminist, and I’ve worked to promote equality for the LGBT community in my non-gaming professional life. So I started off with a firm commitment to the idea that our games had to be good on gender issues.

Each game have made has been an improvement on the last. I love what they’re doing so I encourage you to buy their games on

Winter Voices – Winter Voices is an episodic RPG, told in 7 stories. This is a game you will really love or just not like at all. At least, from what I read in the reviews. This is one of those games I talk about when I’m blathering on about “mechanics don’t matter as much as the story”.

When I am playing, I don’t notice the mechanics some have criticized. I’m drawn in by the story, the music, and the art style. Winter Voices is up to episode 4, which you can buy in numerous places. The game is dark. The tale is dark. The music is dark. And my old elder goth self loves it.

SpyParty – How did I find SpyParty? I stumbled across this article, The Next Smart Video Game Only Lets You Kill Once by Stephen Totillo on Kotaku. What is SpyParty? “SpyParty is a spy game about human behavior, performance, perception, and deception.”

SpyParty is a game for nerds. Game dev nerds. Truly. Chris Heckler’s blogging on the SpyParty site is a luscious treat for design nerds. I am one of the 707 and cannot WAIT to get my hands on this game. Note: The screenshot below is prototype. Not finalized art.

I love watching videos of people playing this game. You can find heaps of them on Youtube. One of the other things I enjoy in the videos is that the audience doesn’t “cheat” for either player. They’re just as immersed as the people playing. This game will take concentration and paying attention to human behavior. Yes, Chris, please let me know when I can throw money at you.

B.U.T.T.O.N. – Brutally Unfair Tactics Totally OK Now – I saw this game at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in the Independent Games Festivalarea this year and was in tears laughing at everyone playing. Of course, I did feel sorry for their neighbors because it was pretty invasive to the games on their left & right. You know, watching this game in action is way better than reading me blather on about it.


NIDHOGG – Another game which captivated my attention at GDC in the Indie game area. I want to throw money at this game, too! I loved watching how the crowd reacted while people played each other. When there was a particularly good (or bad) move, the crowd would cheer or let out “Aww man!” type shouts. Lots of clapping & cheering on both players. And, as a game ended, people were happy to pass off the controllers to help others play the game. THAT is what I love about people who play games, make games and promote games. Whilst you may be disappointed in the human race in the gamer space at times, this was a great collective supportive group of folks. I loved it. Pictures don’t do this game justice, it’s all about the music and action.


I think I’m running out of steam (no pun intended). Here are links to some other games I love or am looking forward to playing.

There are so many more great indie games out there. Next time you are looking around for the latest and greatest, think about supporting some very creative & talented designers, programmers, artists, musicians and everyone else it takes to make games.

Categories: Video Games

Extra Life Charity Fundraiser & Community. Donate Now!

September 17, 2011 1 comment

I’ve seen the Extra Life chatter around the internet and decided I was going to participate this year. Not only that, I’m inviting in the Community Managers Group to join me in a team goal.

Extra Life Banner

I know I talk about the not-so-awesome aspect of some gamers & gamer culture. However, there are a lot more awesome gamers out there than jerks. And when it comes to charity fundraisers, there are a lot of great people doing great things.

This time, I decided to join in. I’ve donated to Child’s Play before, especially sponsoring the Cookie Brigade at PAX Prime & PAX East. There are so many inventive ways for geeks & gamers to be involved and now I’m going to be doing my part.

You can help me reach my goal by visiting My Donation Page If you are a Community Manager, you can help by joining our group.

I will be sorting out my list of games so you can track what I’m playing. I might live broadcast some of it, and there will definitely be pictures. You can track my games from watching my Twitter feed or following me on Raptr.

Hope to see you get involved!

Categories: Extra Life Charity, Main

Speak Out With Your Geek Out – Stripey Socks & Geek Attire

September 15, 2011 6 comments

I’ve always dressed a little different from other folks. Half is that I have no sense of fashion and the other is that I really like to wear things which make me happy. I’ve only been half aware that I might be dressing oddly, and have continued to simply ZOMG SHINY through my wardrobe through the years. My family has always kinda followed their own weird piper, so to speak.

Ahoy, matey!

I’ve had freaky hair, freaky clothes and have never been embarrassed or felt odd about it.

Oh yes, the 80s

I word the oddest things and was happy with it. Very happy. Most of the times I had my picture taken in my oddest close, I have the happiest smile.

Working on the San Antonio Riverwalk

I never quite wore appropriate clothing for my activities. Seriously. Just doing my own thing.


I had been attending renfaires since 1982, but didn’t dress up until the late 90s. My attire was pretty crappy at first, but after hanging out on Usenet (Yah, I’m old), I kinda hit my niche with hot pink attire. And eventually added neon green, as more people started getting wacky in their renfaire get ups. I’m the furthest you can be from being girly; the hot pink thing was a huge inside joke. My mom thought it was humorous; I think she was happy just to see color in my wardrobe after the YEARS of nothing but black clothing.

Who needs coffee when you can look at THIS?

I had a bit of a change happen to my wardrobe, once online shopping hit. I was happily buying from ThinkGeek shortly after I moved out to Virginia in 1999. Since they were local to VA, I was familiar with them as I worked with Fraize at Dell and had met Regan through renfaire. My shopping really kicked in somewhere in 2003. Tshirts & toys for myself. Tshirts for friends & boyfriends. I still do so. Hah! I have a couple of photos up there on the site. I always forget to send them in. I still owe them the lightsaber chopsticks picture.

I was tweeting this while wearing "i'm tweeting this" tshirt.

Fast Forward. So, I had joined a social network site which has some blogging in it. I found that when I used the blog, I met more people. I met a TON of great people in Seattle from the site; some who are close friends today and even attended my wedding! I’m used to people slagging on me for being weird, fat, having a big bumpy Italian nose and whatnot. But a gal named “Computer Barbie” posted the following:

I know a group of women who commiserate for hours that men will not commit, but they will not spend 13 minutes putting on make up. They wear nerd clothes too. One of them wears a boys student coat, androgenous moccasins, androgenous pants. She looks like she has long grey side burns. She pushes her hair behind her ears. 1 lock falls in front of each ear. That is the only part that is grey. Another wears Circus Socks [multicolored socks]. These women are Fashion Casualties. These women are middle aged but successful. These women claim to have boyfriends. JMO

As someone who LOVES awesome socks, I was kinda butthurt in a humorous way. So I blogged about it. Turns out a bunch of other women, from their 20s – 50s (and younger/older) also love their nerd clothes, their stripey socks. So a silly sock club was born. Many of us started buying MORE socks, because we wanted to day, You know, we dress for OURSELVES, not for you. Just because you think we’re too old to dress for happiness, doesn’t mean it is wrong.”. We all started posting pictures of our socks as we bought them, and the term “Sock Prawn” was born. You know. Wait. This is the internet. I don’t have to tell you.

I discovered Sock Dreams and Sock It To Me Socks, both in Portland, Oregon. I started shopping from SITMS because Holly, proprietor of Monster Art & Clothing sold her socks.

Sock wall at Monster Art & Clothing

We started having Stripey Sock Meetups. We bought each other socks. Friends & family started buying us socks; it became the thing to do.

Mine are the pink & turquoise

Not all socks we love are stripey. They can have all kinds of textures and patterns.

We love our socks. We love our geekiness of all kinds. Not everyone who’s a sock person is a gamer. Not every sock person is into fandom. However, we are all pretty geeky about a good many things. We’re made up of food geeks, history geeks, tech geeks, gamer geeks, glitter geeks, renfaire geeks, music geeks. No matter what your geeky stripes (hah!), when you run into a sock geek, you have an instant bond; something to talk about and share.



Gen Con Socks!

Categories: Geek Culture, Main

Speak Out With Your Geek Out – Hosting Geeky Events

September 13, 2011 Comments off

I already know I failed my mission just a bit in regards to my recent claim. I promised to write a blog post each day of the week for Speak Out With Your Geek Out, but I failed. But I swear, I have a great reason! Why? I was hosting the Girl Geeks Of Austin Monday Board Games & Brews event! Each Monday night, we have a group of women who drop by the Black Star Co-Op. So, it’s actually combining numerous geek things. Board games, craft beer and sustainable/local foods. And it is a co-op! One of my birthday prezzies to myself will be to buy a membership there. Such fantastic people.

Games we play!

I’ve posted before about why I started the game night. I’m all about supporting ALL people playing games; I believe everyone can find the right games and great people to play with. The difficult part – If you don’t already play games with people, how do you meet people for games? How do you find games? Board games can get pretty expensive; it is hard to justify buying a game if you don’t know anyone who plays them.

I’m an organizer geek; a nexxus. I LOVE bringing people together to do amazing things. I love meeting new people when I host an event and watching people discovering new people. It cheers me to see people make friends, share their info and talk about planning exciting games, dinners or whatever with each other. I like turning people on to new games and new beers. I like to encourage women & girls to play games.

Great Divide Oak Aged Chocolate Imperial Stout

Back to my Board Game & Brews night. Many of the women who come to the game night have never played board games. Or they’ve done family games like Monopoly, Sorry, Scrabble. There is nothing wrong with these games; for many people it is the first taste of gaming & socialization. Yes, even with family!

But many want more. They’re interested in games they see around. They want to not be talked down to or ignored in a game store. They want to do something creative and they want to socialize with other like-minded geeky people. No matter your geeky bent, while you’re doing a geeky activity, you get to learn more about people. You get to meet others who grok (look it up) you.

I’m not great at teaching people to play games. I yawn when reading rules. I am best learning as I play, so I usually stick to pretty easy to explain games that I’ve played a lot. Or some casual card games. Fluxx, Poo, Apples to Apples & Guillotine and many others are easy to teach and easy to learn. Then there are some dice games like Zombie Dice, Cthulhu Dice and some board games like Tsuro and Dixit.

How do you get started with your own group? is fantastic to start in finding a group. Volunteer to host a meetup. Most meetup group owners are DELIGHTED to find more people to host events. I know I am; I can’t do everything and be everyone. As example, we have people who do fiber arts and I do not. So I encourage our fiber arts geeks to host their own meetup event on our same group page.

  • Pick a place you want to host an event. A shop, a pub, coffeeshop. Get to know the people working there so they know to expect you.
  • Choose how often and what day you want to do your event. It doesn’t have to be weekly like mine.
  • Get yourself into Social Media so you can advertise your event. Good thing about You can do so much in it.
  • Show up. Even if no one does, show up. When I first started doing the Monday Steampunk Meetups at the Wayward Coffeehouse in Seattle, I was there at a small reserved table every week. Eventually, one or two would show. And as the word got out, more people showed. I kept up with advertising it on the local steampunk mailing list. Having our small group talk to others at the other local events & conventions, brought more people out. After a few months, there was anywhere from 10-20 people ever Monday. Stick to it and it will succeed.
  • Greet everyone. No matter what else is going on, remember you are doing this for a reason. Make sure everyone is welcome. When you have regular people, you can dub others to be greeters. No one should ever feel unwanted for a social geek event.
  • Have fun. If you’re not, no one else will. You may try and try again, but eventually you’ll get the hang out of it. Sure, epople will “Why don’t we meet on X side of town?” “Why can’t we ever do Y together?”. I always say, “GREAT IDEA! You can put something together and I’ll promote it. Unfortunately, I can’t take on another event, but I want to help you succeed.”. AND MEAN IT.

Hell, I’m Donna and I’m a Geeky Organizer.

Categories: Beer, Women Gamers

Time to kickoff off Speak Out With Your Geek Out!

September 11, 2011 1 comment

I’ve had dozens of ideas for topics ever since I decided to do this project. Now that there is a main site for it, it will be easier for people to keep up with all the wonderful things happening. Click over to Speak Out With Your Geek Out to read more.

My plan is to write a post each day, covering a different geek topic. I’m still pondering my topics, but so far I think it will be:

  • My favorite games
  • Stripey Socks & Geek Clothes
  • Beer, Beer & Beer
  • Encouraging & enabling women playing games
  • Conventions!

I don’t know if I’ll write them in that order; they’ll touch on what I’m feeling at any particular moment. I’ll see how it goes on the Twitter & Facebook. Heck, if someone had a topic they wanted me to talk about, I’m happy to do that, too.

This is going to be exciting!

Categories: Main

My thoughts on “Speak Out With Your Geek Out!”

September 3, 2011 2 comments

I’ve seen the “Speak Out With Your Geek Out” program fly around on Twitter & Facebook, but I hadn’t given it much thought. I promote “Read an RPG Book in Public” and “Read a Comic Book in Public” days, but I rarely actually participate. Mostly because I already do these on a regular basis. It never occurs to me that I would be ashamed or embarrassed at how people perceive my nerdiness; this is the key to feeling acceptance within yourself. You can’t control how others feel about your hobby. What you can do, by being confident in yourself and your hobbies, is bring others out of their shell.

This type of thinking isn’t limited just to gaming or comic pursuits. I find it in the beer geek hobby, too. Especially as a woman who enjoys VERY dark beer. I tend to strike up conversations about beer when I’m drinking something which isn’t seen as “normal for a lady”. It happens with my socks, too. Yes, sock collecting is a hobby. If you don’t believe me, check out Sock Dreams. All my favorite socks come from Sock it to Me.

I believe people are attracted to people who appear to be having fun. Whether the stripey socks, my weird glasses, my RPG books or a dark glass of beer, I always look like I am having a good time with the things I love. When you are passionate about something, in this case geek pursuits, it encourages others to explore their passions, too.

When I sat down to read the article Calling all Geeks: Post about Your Hobbies September 12th to the 16th I became excited about the project.

I then read Speak Out with Your Geek Out by Dorkland and In Which We Prepare to Speak Out… by Jess Hartley.

What struck me about it all, was the positive & passionate love for geek pursuits. This kept standing out to me:



Sometime during the week of Monday, September 12th to Friday, September 16th post about what geeky hobby you love. Then, tell us why we should try it, too. Leave your fears (and edition wars) at the door. Forget about your latest rant. Tap into that well of positive energy and share in the excitement of all things geek. Let us invite those who would stereotype us to sit at our table and share our interests.


The only thing I would change about this would be the last line about stereotyping. I’d much rather focus on encouraging people to engage. If we are only doing this to do a “IN YOUR FACE” to people who would stereotype people with geek passions, it isn’t very helpful. Yes, I understand the message in the quote above. However, there are many geeks who might attempt to use this as a way of promoting “I’m Geekier Than Thou”. Which is also one of my pet peeves.

I think we SHOULD address the ugly side of geek elitism. But that is for another post.

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