Tag Archives: games

Good reads this week

I fell out of the habit of cataloguing the stuff I run into as I traverse the ‘Net for work and pleasure. It was a good habit; I’m going to restart it.

An old one (from 2014), but still very good. Rape culture is borne out of the idea that men need sex to be happy, he argues, and that’s bullshit.

Nerdy guys aren’t guaranteed to get laid by the hot chick as long as we work hard. There isn’t a team of writers or a studio audience pulling for us to triumph by getting the girl.

Source: Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Misogyny, Entitlement, and Nerds – The Daily Beast

*****

I read this, and then I got angry. Perhaps you will too.

I was not only told that I was assaulted, I was told that because I couldn’t remember, I technically could not prove it was unwanted. And that distorted me, damaged me, almost broke me. It is the saddest type of confusion to be told I was assaulted and nearly raped, blatantly out in the open, but we don’t know if it counts as assault yet. I had to fight for an entire year to make it clear that there was something wrong with this situation.

Source: Here’s The Powerful Letter The Stanford Victim Read To Her Attacker – BuzzFeed News

*****

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One of my recent games of Arboretum. Isn’t it lovely??

If you like beautiful card games, you should try to get a copy of Arboretum. It’s one of my favorite games of 2016. Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to find a copy these days. So while you’re waiting, and if you like game mechanics, read this:

Source: Meaningful Decisions: Dan Cassar on Design Choices in Arboretum — Cardboard Edison

*****

Gawker has been running a series of stories told directly from adjuncts in higher education. It’s an ugly, unfair, horrible mess that we’ve gotten ourselves into.  College now rests primarily on the backs of these underpaid and under-resourced junior faculty. At some point, the house of cards will fall. In the meantime, it’s grossly unfair to the adjuncts and it shortchanges students too.

The Educated Underclass – series (Gawker)

*****

I don’t usually post sports stuff, but everyone around me remembers Clemson kicker Jad Dean missing the field goal that cost CU a key game about a decade ago. I think you could hear the roar of anger across the entire Upstate.

Well, here’s the rest of the story:

Former Clemson kicker Jad Dean’s life has been a journey through football and faith.

Source: Former Clemson kicker finds peace in faith – Reignite My Story

 

Late August Notes

Hey folks!  I offer here an overview of some of the cool media I’ve been reading/watching/playing/eating (you can’t eat media, but I need to give a shout-out to some great August food) this month.

I’ll be honest,  it’s been really busy at work and things aren’t going to let up until later this fall.  I’ll write more when I can match up brain cells to blocks of time.  Till then….

COOL TUNES
Snarky Puppies have changed my life. Seriously. If you like music at all you owe it to yourself to watch this and revel in the fusion of jazz and horns and awesomeness. Just hit play and enjoy the background tunes for the rest of the post…. don’t turn it off before you hear 1) the fun guitar tune and 2) the awesome keyboard riffs.

Dose horns, doe!

KICKSTARTER FINDS
I find Kickstarter to be pretty amazing. Yes, you can get taken for a ride if developers suck. But that’s not happened to me (yet) and I’ve really enjoyed everything I chose to support on the kickstarted platform, from an indestructible wallet to hold all my random loyalty cards to games to music projects and even a few friends’ projects. (Like David Benedict’s outstanding album.)

At the moment, I’m most excited about a pinhole camera kit that you assemble yourself: VIDDY   It’s an analog way to do your Instagram. 😉 There’s still time to get on this campaign if you find this fascinating, as I do.

Also, The Printshop has opened up in Greenville, SC, offering more space for local artists and printmakers to do their thing. Cool.

And emberlight – a quick way to connect normal lightbulbs to your phone for easily dimmable lighting. Also still open for backers.

ENTERTAINING GAMES (IRL)
Jesse has arrived and brought his massive collection of board games with him. How massive? Massive. The pile currently threatens to overwhelm the small corner of our library where I thought we could shelve them.

Since last week, I’ve been introduced to half a dozen board & card games I’d never even heard of, with several dozen more to go.  We could host our own board games tournament here at the house.  Maybe that should be a fall party…..

I have enough material here to do a separate post reviewing the games we’ve played (and what skills they teach), so hit the post before this one to see my reviews of

Compounded
Mars Needs Mechanics
Arctic Scavengers
Space Realms
Sushi Go!
Archipelago

ENTERTAINING GAMES (VIDEO)
Finished playing the classic game Shadowrun (in the re-issued version from Steam, called Shadowrun Returns).  Good cyberpunk atmosphere & storyline, interesting story.  Built on the essential D&D game mechanic of turn-based combat (really, this is very close to Baldur’s Gate or other D&D style games).

Also enjoying Sanctum 2, which combines tower-defense play with FPS aspects.  You play as one of 5 classes (i.e.: different kinds of guns, different styles of play) and lay down gun towers or barricades on each of the game’s levels.  Wave after wave of enemies attack, but instead of just sitting back and watching helplessly, you get down in  the trenches with each wave to beat back the alien hordes. It’s a nice blend.

FUNNY THINGS I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN ABOUT SOONER
How did I live this long before discovering the online video series Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin’? (HAWP)  It’s random and intelligent (sometimes).

Language warning.
Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin’? MINECRAFT

AMAZING FOOD
I’ve told everyone I can find to make this carnitas recipe. Seriously. Will. Change. Your. Life.

Buns In My Oven: Authentic Texas Carnitas

I'm only sorry that the Internet can't provide a sense of smell along with this tantalizing photo of my carnitas.
I’m only sorry that the Internet can’t provide a sense of smell along with this tantalizing photo of my carnitas. Just add corn tortillas, a little sour cream, some shredded crunchy cabbage, and cheese.  Eat. Repeat.  Stop before you get sick.


INTERESTING STAGE PERFORMANCE

Last evening, we had the privilege of seeing The Restoration’s local-color album Constance brought to life via a stage performance of the album at the Trustus Theatre in Columbia.

Constance is one of my favorite albums musically. Its story is quite dark, offering a brutally honest look at the racist history of Lexington, South Carolina.  I’ve written about it before – here and here.

Check out the band’s videos & album coverage to hear samples, or read the story.

Translating a musical album to a stage production takes knack. I liked seeing the story more fully explained, but the musician part of me struggled to let go of how much I loved the album release show, where Daniel Machado (the band’s lead singer) voiced each of the characters through the words of the songs.  There’s a subtlety to that storytelling that I liked…. but I’m glad they’re pursuing a stage version of Constance, and glad to have seen this first step.

READING ANYTHING GOOD?
I am working my way through a book about using science fiction as a teaching tool. It’s a collection of essays, so the writing quality is uneven (to be expected), but the book sparks a lot of good ideas about how to evaluate sci-fi from literary perspectives, and how sci-fi can be used to generate cross-displinary integration between science and other fields (or literature and science).

Practicing Science Fiction

~~~~~~~

I’ll try to swing by the blog and write as I have time over the coming weeks.  My creative juices are being absorbed by work much of the time – developing a museum exhibit, planning a major event, designing stuff, managing projects.  It’s all good but it drains my tank by the time I get home, and all I want to do is read or veg or play a game or watch something.

Leave me a comment if you’d like — I’d love to know what you’re reading / watching / playing / doing / eating. 

August Game Reviews

Been playing a lot more board games lately.   Check these out:

Top picks for August:
Archipelago is a clear winner for me among everything I’ve played this week. It’s a semi-cooperative game that’s like Settlers on crack.  “Semi-cooperative” means the game is definitely competitive because each player pursues a personal objective (win! in a certain way) that diverges from the other players’ objectives, but at the end of the game, each player scores points based on other players’ objectives.  Yeah< I realize that won’t make any sense until you’ve played it but seriously — if you’ve played the crap out of Settlers of Catan and are ready to try something new, especially if you’ve mastered SC: Cities & Knights, then Archipelago needs to be on your list.   It’s all cut-throat and awesome.

Compounded (Kickstarter, now available for purchase) – enjoy chemistry without having to do any actual chemistry. Not sure how educational this is, but it’s fun to play and a well-designed game (both in play mechanic & in printed materials/graphic design). You build compounds in the “lab” using foundational elements like carbon, hydrogen, sulfur.  The chemical formulas for the compounds ARE correct.  Very playable.

Star Realms is a deck-building game and really reminds me of the excellent PC game Homeworld by Sid Meier.  I’d never played deck-builders before, but they use a simple mechanic (collect better cards & trash cruddy ones to give yourself a juggernaut of awesome cards for each round of play).  Don’t let the simplicity fool you – the game demands strategy in addition to the luck of the draw.  This particular game is just gorgeous – the art style for the ships & space bases (your cards) made my jaw drop.  Hats off to the artists here.  We’ve played this both “every man for himself” and co-op, and I enjoyed both.

 

An example of the Star Realms art style (from Kickstarter)
An example of the Star Realms art style (from Kickstarter)

Arctic Scavengers is another deck building game. Technically the first one I’ve ever played so it took me a few rounds to catch on.  A good play.  You build up your deck to accomplish a variety of purposes, including fighting (which nets you better gear or more people) and digging for resources in a junk pile. Since the ultimate goal of the game is to have the most people in your tribe, I like that you have to balance acquiring tools with keeping people cards who might not otherwise seem “useful.”  Just like in real life – the tension that “people are more important than things.”

Also played:

See? Isn't this cool??
See? Isn’t this cool??

Mars Needs Mechanics – this game gets a +5 for incredible steampunk graphic design and a gorgeous overall aesthetic, but a -1 for having somewhat confusing directions, and another -1 for being built entirely on an economic game mechanic. You manipulate a market of commodities via “machines” and player action.  It’s set on Mars but the game does nothing to really expand on what could have been a really cool setting.   However, if you’re looking for a way to teach supply-demand dynamics in a game that’s not otherwise too complicated, this is a good choice.

Sushi Go! wins for being the cutest game EVER.

from http://www.savvyeat.com/sushi-go/
from http://www.savvyeat.com/sushi-go/

Would be a lot of fun for kids – teaches matching, some basic strategy, and appreciation of sushi. Hey, that’s worthwhile.  You collect various cards as you pass your hand around.  Easy.

 

I’m sure we’ll be playing the rest of Jesse’s 50 or 60 games, and adding more. There are also tabletop RPG’s worth mentioning, like the gorgeous Fragged Empire that I just backed on Kickstarter — because #Australia and because #futuristic #cyberpunk  … but that’ll have to wait for another day.    🙂

Time to play some Civ V ….

Oh, and did I mention we’ve got a couple friends developing their own game? Yeah! if you’re in the Upstate, keep an eye on your local board game or comic book store for a playtest of The Specialists. It’s a co-op heist game for up to 5 players, and the guys would love to know what you think!