Skyrim FTW!

So guess what? I’m still playing Skyrim. A lot. Shocker. I don’t think I’ve advanced the main story at all since my last Skyrim post, though. I’ve been doing other important things! Like…scouring the world for Nirnroot so some chick in Riften will get off my case about her experiments…and making Apple-Cabbage Soup for my journeys….yeah.

My boyfriend and I are playing simultaneously and he is just as trapped in the word as I am. We are gearing up to do some geeky shit like write some Skyrim fanfiction! If that doesn’t expose who I really am..

Just me and Lids, trekkin' through the forest.

I still have Lydia! I’ve worked really hard at keeping her alive. Girlfriend gets in the way sometimes though! This guys Lydia wasn’t so lucky…makes me sad. I feel his pain.

OH GODS, DRAGON!

The scene at Dawnstar.

The last two times I’ve arrived at Dawnstar, dragons have appeared. I just slay, and everyone stands around like “ZOMG, a dragon”

You're so dead right now.

Docks at Dawnstar.

I love Dawnstar for some reason. It’s remote, no one really goes there, and I’m a hero cause of all the dragons I’ve destroyed here. I’ve mentioned this before, but I love snowy, arctic settings. Does something for me, I tell ya. I finally got in good with the Jarl here, so I basically own this shit now.

Night Sky.

Sigh. This game, right?? It’s a bit out of control with how expansive it is. And I love that. I do have issues with it at times. Like how I can’t seem to keep a horse alive. That’s the games fault, dammit! The horse mechanics are lame. Oh and the hair for everybody is so bad. It kind of looks like something peed on your head and it dried and that’s it. Once I finish the game (ha) I will attempt a fair review, including the good and bad. Until then…SKYRIM.

Look What I Found!

Found two kick ass things on The Mary Sue today:

Morrowind/Skyrim Theme Piano/Violin Medley

Life goal of mine is to learn how to play the piano. This video gives me chills, it’s so amazing. And my life has been taken over by Skyrim [check out my first impressions of the game, I will do more impressions. The game is the tits.]

Hunger Games Picture!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aren’t they, like, perfect?  [characters L to R: Cinna, Haymitch, Peeta]. I have to say, Lenny Kravitz is kinda perfect for Cinna. For me, at least. Can’t help but get all fan-ish over this film, I am way excited. Just started ‘Mockingjay’ after careening through ‘Hunger Games’ and ‘Catching Fire’. I love obsessive reading.

If Thanksgiving is your thing, hope you had a good one!

Twilight *gasp*

Yep, I’m going to write about Twilight. I almost decided to skirt the idea of commenting on the Twilight Hate Phenomenon, as more talented ladies have already spoken on the topic more eloquently than I probably will [nerds in babelandThe Nerdy BirdThe Carnival of Random] However, I like the Twilight books and movies, they hold a special place in my geek stash, so I figured why not?

I used to be able to openly admit to liking the Twilight series, but over the last few years something has changed. I feel awkward admitting I do in fact like Twilight. I feel I will be laughed at. I’m surrounded by this notion that it’s cooler to hate on Twilight than be a fan of it now. And if you are a fan, look out! You’re about to get it good from the haters. Google “twilight hate”. There is lots of energy spent on publicly hating the series. For the record, I’m fully aware of the concerns some people have with the series’ influence on young girls in regards to sexual exploration, relationships with men, and religious implications. Those are all valid concerns which I respect. I’d love to delve in to the world of media influence on society and how blame is being displaced. But, I’m writing more to explain why I enjoy the Twilight series.

Admit it or don’t, but Stephenie Meyer lit a fire in the world of reading. It definitely resparked my ability to get lost in a fictional world. Meyer wrote her story in a way that people can remember what it feels like to fall in love for the first time. Being able to relate back to a time in my life I thought was gone forever had me hooked. And yeah, there are vampires in it. Angsty “teenage” vampires, who sparkle and don’t have fangs. Put it all together, and you have a fun fantasy world to immerse yourself in. Simple as that. The writing is not deep or complex by any means. The simplicity of it comes across amateur-ish at times, but I’m okay with that.

What fuels the immature bullying and name calling? Is it jealousy? That a story about a teenage girl and her vampire soul mate has made so much money and seen success that most of us will never comprehend? No matter the reason, the hate is just hurtful and does more harm than good. I say: get over it. Please.  Everyone loves what they do for their own personal reasons. I don’t think it’s right to ridicule others for those reasons. One love, people.

GAME OF THRONES, SEASON 2

An ‘In Production’ first look at Game of Thrones, Season 2:

Exciting! I love catching small glimpses, it really fuels my anticipation. I’m so inspired by the production team’s creativity in bringing George R.R. Martin’s world alive. I fell in love with the series via the show, but have since obtained the books and can’t wait to catch up.

I want to have a real live feast to celebrate the season premiere. The Inn at the Crossroads site has tackled the amazing task of recreating and sampling the food from the series and have shared the recipes; my mouth waters thinking about Lemon Cakes topped with Lemon Curd. I will definitely be using their suggestions to recreate my own feast.

(video via HBO)

THE HUNGER GAMES

Quick post before I head out a Gamer Wine tasting [awesome], I have started and destroyed The Hunger Games-first book of three. I am so in love with it entirely. I was bound and determined to finish before I watched the trailer. I watched it and got choked up.

Jennifer Lawrence is perfection as Katniss, seriously. I have fun plans for the evening, so Catching Fire has to wait a few hours. But I plan on destroying it in no time. Yay reading!

Is everyone else liking the trailer? Sounds like it’s getting good feedback. Read these books! Magical storytelling happening there.

Changes: Round 1

I’m pretty surprised I found time between school and Skyrim to implement changes around here. Anyways, things are a little different, yeah??. Name/header/layout. I kinda like it :) I “commissioned” my boyfriend David to draw/design my header. And by commissioned I mean I annoyed and pushed him to do it while he works and plays Skyrim too. With our powers combined…

I may tweak some things over the next few weeks or so, but so far, so good.

SKYRIM: A Photographic Tour

Maybe you’ve heard the word, but as of 11-11-11 Bethesda’s Skyrim has arrived. Epic date. Epic game. I’ve played about 31 hours so far and there isn’t so much as a faint glimmer of the end in sight, which makes me all warm and fuzzy feeling. Skyrim will destroy my Fallout 3 play time of 112 hours total. Here are my first thoughts and impressions of the game thus far. Once I’ve logged more game time, I will write a more comprehensive review.

Checking out the view outside of the City of Whiterun

People; this game is breathtaking. I’m playing the PC version, which offers such better quality than my Xbox. And non existent load times. It’s the first RPG I’ve played on the PC, and I’ve been missing out.

After about an hour creating my character (seriously) I settled on a Female Nord. I relate to the tall/fair and resistance to cold sounded like a good perk. I’ve been focusing on improving my one handed weapons while duel wielding, improving my light armor, and for the first time I’m actually sneak attacking with a bow. I usually don’t have the patience to sneak and wait, but I can’t just rush in and gouge people. I will die.

Alex (Female Nord) with her girl Lydia and the City of Whiterun on the background

Lydia. Oh, sweet Lydia. It started out as a love/hate thing. Now it’s mostly pure love. I like adventuring alone, but as soon as I was given Lydia as my housecarl, I’ve realized I couldn’t do it without her. Yeah, at first she was whinny and was always in my way. She still kind of is. But now she carries my burdens and keeps me company. And saves my ass when I need it most. I will not let her die, ever. I will reload and replay if it means keeping her alive.

View of the moon from inside Whiterun

Everyone comments on how sick/ill I look, or asks if I’m feeling okay. I didn’t pay attention at first, I figured it was because I looked dirty or something? Or because my armor was grungy? But once everyone started mentioning it, I knew it had to be a sort of warning. I figured out how to use a temple shrine, and it told me all diseases had been removed. From what I’ve read online thus far, I think if you don’t cure yourself bad things will happen. I don’t want bad things.

Snow and High Hrothgar

I have this thing for arctic settings. So the snowy mountains, and blizzard conditions in Skyrim excite me. But, what’s with the Frost Trolls being WAY harder than the dragons?? I’m sure it won’t stay that way, but so far I’ve died fighting trolls but not dragons. Oh, and WTF with the giants and their mammoths? Seriously, I’m obsessed with befriending them because they are so badass looking and have pet mammoths. But so far I’ve been on the other end of their one shot kills and my dead body has gone flying 5,000 miles up.

So far I’ve really just been walking around, chasing butterflies and picking wild flowers. Sounds crazy. I’ve discovered caves with vampires, hundreds of bandits on the road, been jumped one time, and fought and killed 5 dragons. Dragon’s just randomly fly around like birds and you fight them. My boyfriend and I are both playing the game, and we both yell “DRAGON! DRAGONDRAGONDRAGON!” and battles begin. I’ve stolen goods, crafted armor, created potions, even done some enchantments. Made a few friends, made some enimies too. I’ve owned two horses who have both gone missing or died fighting. Horses are awesome, but I can’t seem to keep them alive. I’m going to keep trying though! Oh, I even had a drunken night that took me on a crazy adventure all across the world. I’m not even sure of the full story other than dragon’s have been reawakened, I am dragonborn and I can take them down and suck their dragon soul to make myself more powerful. Any more awesomeness on top of that is just icing on a delicious RPG cake.

Here are some more shots from my travels so far:

Alex and her horse, who lasted long enough for this picture

Fight stance and the Aurora Borealis

Night sky while traveling

Sun set outside of Whiterun

See?? Gorgeous, massive, epic. A place I want to live.

I know others are playing. How’s it going for you guys? Anything I need to check out? Tips? Suggestions? Let me know.

Stay tuned for more Skyrim gushing.

Mass Effect Literary Analysis [COLLEGE]

Okay, so this fall I started going  back to school to finish my bachelors degree. It’s been quite a few years since I’ve been a student. That is why I have ZERO HOURS to write anything not school related. I was halfway done with college already, looking for a career change and realized a college degree would be quite helpful. Anyway, I am taking a class called Video Games and Learning–basically my dream class. About 17 of us sit around and just talk about how video games help teach us how to effectively learn. Our text book was written by James Paul Gee titled What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy and it introduces some great ideas. Check it out if you have the free time.

My point in sharing all this; I wrote my first literary analysis for the class and my subject was Mass Effect. My instructor game me quite amazing feedback which made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, which then inspired me to share it. Check it below if you want:

Mass Effect Literary Analysis

Mass Effect is an immersive science fiction role playing game (RPG)/third person shooter developed by BioWare Corporation.  Released in 2007 exclusively on the Microsoft Xbox360, the Mass Effect series has since spawned a sequel released in January 2010 (accompanied by the option to play the game on Sony’s PlayStation3) and a third title to round out the trilogy releasing in March 2012. The series thus far has been received positively in the gaming community and has won several awards during its existence.

The main story quest follows Commander Shepard’s activation as the first human spectre, which is a group of enforcers who act outside of the law. Shepard and her team are assigned to hunt down a rogue spectre operative. During the mission, a larger threat to the galaxy is discovered, propelling Shepard and crew on a mission aboard the Normandy space craft to save the galaxy from destruction.

Mass Effect intertwines elements of both the RPG and third person shooter genres. At the start of the game, the player is asked to create their version of Commander Shepard, the central hero in Mass Effect. Shepard can be either male or female. The player must decide what class to choose, which will dictate how powers and capabilities develop throughout the gameplay. Lastly, the player is asked to choose a brief background story to round out Shepard’s personality. Along with character development, text book RPG conventions such as completing quests, earning experience (XP) from quests & combat, managing your various inventories (ie: weapons, armor, etc.), and acquiring party members who assist during missions, give Mass Effect the right to be part of the RPG genre.  The use of firearms and the “over the shoulder” perspective the player has when guiding Commander Shepard and her party throughout the galaxy is what qualifies Mass Effect as a third person shooter game.  The combination of both genres creates an immersive gameplay experience.

Much like our society, the Mass Effect galaxy is occupied by various different races. Though it’s a fictional universe, there is a subtext suggesting race dictates ones power and status in a society. The humans (in game) are a younger race and are viewed to be beneath more ancient races. The Asari, an all-female race whose main objective is to find a mate to reproduce with, are often sexualized and are frequently found in “escort” service jobs. The Krogen are a war torn, militaristic race, used as laborers and bodyguards, not considered a civilized race. It’s possible the game authors are implying how racial stereotypes can dictate one’s status in a society, much in the same way race has historically controlled people in our society.

There is also subtext of how controversial science can become when genetics are involved. The Salarian and Turian races, two highly intelligent groups, took it upon themselves to genetically alter the survival rate of the Krogen offspring in order to control what they viewed as a threat to the galaxy.  Naturally, the Krogen opposed this, causing long standing and deep rifts between the Krogen and those who are not willing to assist in finding a cure. This illustration of scientific controversy, specifically on genetics, could be a commentary on today’s highly debated topics.

The fidelity of the graphics adds greatly to the verisimilitude of Mass Effect.  The faces of some characters are so lifelike that it becomes easy to forget they aren’t real people. Glimpses of the night sky or the rising sun are familiar imagery to all who play the game. In addition to graphics, the quests provide several familiar struggles, from choosing between right and wrong, maintaining relationships, and learning how to react in difficult situations.  The game presents an emotional space that many can identify with, making the game seem very real and life like. On the other hand, the entire experience takes place in a galaxy farther than far, far away. There are made up races, space ships, intergalactic war, and futuristic weaponry which make the game obviously not realistic. Mass Effect accomplishes an emotional level of familiarity, whereas the context of the game is very much a fictional place.

Mass Effect (along with its sequel and upcoming conclusion) can become a total immersive experience, if the player is willing. The conventions of RPG games alone require a dedication that encourages immersion. Though controversies can arise during the game, it’s important to be aware that video game issues and real life issues may not be that distant from each other. What seems to be most important is the emotional familiarity the game can provide. People naturally want to be understood and accepted, and Mass Effect can provide that through Commander Shepard, her crew and the adventures they take as team.