Healing Routines In A Time of Anxiety: Animal Crossing

It’s been a crazy week in a month that is flying by and a year that nobody was expecting. The world is on edge with the coronavirus threat, people are hoarding toilet paper (?) and while many of us are preparing to spend more time at home than we’re accustomed to, others around the globe are putting their own lives at risk working extended hours to help keep this thing under control.

Some things will change suddenly- it’s unlikely, for example, that the cosplay project I’ve been working on will debut at Calgary Expo in April as planned, as I highly doubt that it will be safe enough by that point to have such a huge gathering of people in one place. My sister’s Worlds Cheerleading competition has been postponed, as have peoples’ trips, weddings, exams, surgeries, and other important events.

In a time when plans are being dashed, trips cancelled, work halted, and unprecedented stressful situations are unfolding daily, it is important to ensure we keep some normalcy in our day-to-day. It’s good for our mental health to have things to rely on, things to look forward to, things to distract us and give us some calming rituals and routines. For me, this will include activities like creating art, playing with my dogs, spending time with my husband, and reading. It will also include, in four days’ time, Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

It’s been a while since I’ve awaited a game so excitedly. In our current goings-on, a new Animal Crossing game is just what I need to give my brain a break from the constant Breaking News.

If you’ve never played an Animal Crossing game before, they are extremely easy to recommend to just about anyone. The family-friendly series is known for being popular with everyone, their mom, and their grandma! The irresistible recipe of customization, decorating, crafting, improving the community, and making cute little animal friends gets better and better with each new installment. New Horizons offers so many cool new features, like landscaping, that I can’t wait to try out.

Last year I got the chance to check out the new Nintendo store at Parco Shibuya!

Sometimes, when the real world feels crazy, it’s nice to have a gentle, encouraging, somewhat predictable little oasis to call your own. I hope that Animal Crossing: New Horizons will be that for myself and many others.

Happy gaming everyone, and stay safe!

Steins;Gate: Now Is The Time- El Psy Kongruu

If you are reading this, maybe there is a small chance- please hear my plea.

The tides of time are turning.

I’ve come from the future, the year 2036, with a warning of grave importance.

.

.

.

It is imperative that you play Steins;Gate.

It is the only way.


Alright, I know, Steins;Gate is old news- it came out in 2009!- but with a Live Action TV series recently announced to be in the works by Skydance Television, it’s a great time to consider playing or revisiting this twisty, dramatic, hilarious sci-fi visual-novel game.

I will admit that for a while Steins;Gate was a game that I played in intermittent bursts, often while travelling; I have a downloaded version on my PsVita, and the story begins as fun but sort of plodding. However, I recently picked it up again on my way home from Vancouver and got to the part where things really take off– after that I couldn’t put it down.

What begins as a bunch of otaku and their chuunibyou leader dabbling with internet message boards and dubious technological advances rapidly accelerates into full-blown world-altering time-travel with devastating consequences. I’ve finished 3 of the possible 6 main endings, and I’m questioning whether it’s possible to ever “have it all” (You’ll know what I mean if you play the game…).

I myself am very much a geek and already moderately well-versed in anime & manga tropes and lingo, but for someone who doesn’t know much about the vastness of otaku subcultures, this game would be an excellent introduction. Also be prepared for a lot of mind-bending wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey talk: The “tips” accumulated throughout the game point out and explain the references and vocabulary dropped by the characters time and time again.

Steins;Gate is actually the second release in this “Science Adventure” franchise, after Chaos;Head, but the latter has never been released in English- a cryptic tweet from creator Chiyomaru Shikira in 2018 hinted that an English port would “probably” happen!

Regardless, Steins;Gate is a separate story from Chaos;Head, with different characters, and you can absolutely play Steins;Gate without having played Chaos;Head (I haven’t, though I would love to someday!). Steins;Gate is available on Steam, Vita, Ps4, iOS, Android, and more. The remastered version of the game, Steins;Gate Elite is also available on Switch as well, and features animation from the anime adaptation.

I am definitely ready to start playing the sequel, Steins;Gate 0!

“Nerds at a Table” Is Not Dead!

Hey friends, remember like… 9 months ago when I shared the first episode of a show my friends and I had been working on with Shaw Spotlight?

We’ve since filmed content for several more episodes. A lot of lifey-technologyish-scheduley stuff got in the way of getting out episode 2 in a timely manner, but it’s finally here, and in two parts!

And so, we present: Nerds at a Table, Episode 2, Parts 1 and 2- featuring a rousing game of Exploding Kittens, an unexpected near-death mishap, and yours truly donning the Cone of Shame!

Laugh with us! Cringe with us! Explode with us!

The Characters That Define Us

Matt over at Normal Happenings has finally revealed the character choices for his biggest blog collab project ever, The Characters That Define Us. The epicness will kick off in January 2020, with each week of the year bringing a different blogger and their chosen game character to the forefront, including tailored Daily Inkling writing prompts, themes, artwork, and of course uniquely personal blog posts!

Each participant is doing a different character- I wanted to represent the avatars that I’ve created for various RPG games over time, so my character will be… Alternate Shauna! 

Without giving too much away, I will say that my contribution to this project will delve into the different types of characters I’ve created for role playing games of all sorts- from adventure games and MMORPG to more chill games like Stardew Valley, Animal Crossing and The Sims. In doing so, I hope to highlight how creating these alternate versions of myself has given me new ways to express myself throughout my life, as well as virtual role-models to look up to.

Thanks again to Matt for preparing this awesome collaborative project! This will be something fun to look forward to in the new year!

Nerds At A Table

My friend Jake volunteers at Shaw TV and they were looking for a fun new local program to pick up. He pitched an idea and they liked it! And so, he enlisted myself and a few other geeks to come together for a show called Nerds At A Table (where we, some nerds, play tabletop games- get this- at a table!)

Local business Tactical Magic Games is letting us film on location in their store. We’ve filmed 3 episodes with Shaw so far, and I can’t wait until they air (they’ll also be available online!)- for now, here is our intro teaser!

Somehow I was bestowed the title “Punny Mastermind” (ok yeah, I love puns and use them liberally, but I wouldn’t say i’m a mastermind of any sort XD)

Each episode we will have a guest player from the local nerd community joining us.

No matter what ultimately happens with our show (local legend? public access cringe compilation?) I’ve really enjoyed filming it so far!

 

Why Dad from Fallout 3 is Awesome

Happy Father’s Day!

I made a list of Favorite Fictional Moms on Mother’s day, so I figured I better do one for Father’s day lest my blog become horribly unbalanced!

For some reason it was harder to come up with a list of Favorite Fictional Fathers than Mothers… I don’t know if this says something about me, or about society, or maybe the entertainment industry? Who knows, but I decided to just write about Dad from Fallout 3, because who doesn’t love James?!

  • He cares

James is the only Dad who immediately came to mind when I began to reflect for this post a couple of weeks ago. Hes a talented doctor and scientist, and really just wants his kid to be happy (he even throws you a makeshift birthday party in the underground vault! Sure, it’s somber as hell, but at least he tried!)

6-Fallout3_2012-01-17_13-42-39-90

^”You should stay and enjoy your birthday party” the game reminds you if you try to leave. >.>

meankid

^Dad still loves you even when you’re a total ass.

  • His backstory is super cool.

    When James left his child behind, it was with safety in mind, and an important purpose for the betterment of all. Fallout 3 is still my favorite Fallout game, and I love the role that Dad plays. No spoilers, but if you haven’t played Fallout 3, you really should.

fallout

 

  • His Voice is The Best

    Dad is voiced by Liam Neeson (!) His quiet, reassuring voice is one you can’t help but love. ‘Nuff said.

liamne

  • Design of Dad

    Depending on how you design your character, his design will also change to look more like you. (While this SHOULD be the norm for video games, and perhaps more diversity options are emerging in gaming nowadays, that wasn’t always the case).

 

And there you have it! Everyone loves Dad. Or should. And if you don’t, be careful…

mememem

Happy Fathers day to all the dads out there!

Detroit Become Human: A Spoiler-Free Review

I’d been waiting for this game to come out, but I didn’t realize it had finally been released  2 days ago until my hubby said “I bought you a present” and dropped it in front of me. So, I spent a good chunk of my weekend completing my first play-through.

detroit-become-human-release-date-2018-header.jpg.optimal

I am super impressed with this game. It far surpassed my expectations. I’ve always enjoyed these types of episodic, storytelling, quick-action games, and I am a huge fan of other Quantic Dream titles Heavy Rain and Beyond Two Souls. Detroit Become Human is right up there at the top of my list now.

This game is so engrossing that I think even people who don’t usually play video games should give it a shot if they have the chance. Anyone who has enjoyed stories like Ex Machina or I, Robot will surely love this game.

The plot of Detroit Become Human takes place 20 years from now, and revolves around the stories of three androids and the humans they encounter. Exploring the various detailed scenes of a futuristic (but still recognizable) world is a treat for the eyes. Some scenes are set in places so enchanting or lively that I don’t want to progress and leave, while others present a much more bleak or serious mood.

The various androids and humans in the game have interesting personalities, including the side-characters, and I found myself rooting for my favorites.

3390761-gameplay_detroitbecomehumanroughnight_gs

^Who wouldn’t love Ralph?

Detroit-Become-Human_05-24-18

^and Luthor, the strong and quiet guardian.

The voice acting is, for the most part, really good. I especially love Clancy Brown as Inspector Hank Anderson. Clancy Brown is one of my favorite actors, so I was pretty excited when I saw him in the beginning of the game.

His deep, throaty voice works well with the grumpy, foulmouthed, but otherwise loveable character.

detroit-become-human-ps4-pro-press-shots-1

The gameplay itself felt pretty solid for the most part once I got used to remembering the touch-sensitive pad (“playing” the piano is especially fun).

I played on experienced mode because I wanted my actions to really count, and sure enough I made a handful of oopsies throughout, especially near the end. I finished with what was probably one of the most tragic endings in the game. But, it was a wild ride and had me on the edge of my seat!

Did I mention yet? The graphics in this game are seriously amazing.

detroit-become-human-e3-2017

Detroit Become Human addresses questions of humanity and identity. It surprised me with some of its more blatant allegories to the darkest parts of our real world history- these were definitely heavy-handed at times, but regardless, I still enjoyed the story very much.

There are tons of twists and turns, and I am certainly going to do at least one more play-through soon to see what different outcomes I could have gotten.

Overall, I loved this game, and I highly recommend it!

Edit: I forgot to mention that, as a Canadian, the role Canada plays in the game made me excited XD