Showing posts with label Speak Geek. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Speak Geek. Show all posts

Thursday, August 09, 2012

You Got Your TWILIGHT in My Fighting Fantasy Style Gamebook, and I'm Glad.

When I purchased An Assassin in Orlandes, the first of Tin Man Games Gamebook Adventures, I did so out of a nostalgia for the old Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks by Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson and other excellent books in that genre.  I had recently acquired my first smart phone and was impressed that many of the old Fighting Fantasy books were available for purchase.  It was nice to revisit the books that along with Tunnels and Trolls solos had been my proxy game group during my middle and early high school years.  During that time, I was only able to play role playing games sporadically and the game books were a great substitute.  The smart phone versions brought back fond memories, even if it was harder to finish an adventure where one couldn't "accidentally" read future entries for clues.

The Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks, and their eventual competitors, became a huge phenomenon.  One thing they never managed to do was expand their audience beyond certain market sectors which were mostly male readers.  TSR made a brief attempt at expanding the demographic with their Heart Quest books, but they didn't catch on for various reasons.

With the smart phone and the transition to ebooks, the gamebook has seen a resurgence.  One of the leading publishers in this resurgence is Tin Man Games, and with good reason.  When I began playing An Assassin in Orlandes, just to see how this "small upstart's Fighting Fantasy competitor" would fare, I was impressed with the thoughtfulness that went into the production. The book had a compelling narrative, a fun little game system (that also allows for a little "tilting" of die rolls which is a nice touch), and even had "Achievements" that could be earned by successful and unsuccessful play.  In short, it was clear that Tin Man was going to be big.  Their success continued with the acquisition of the license to produce future Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks, taking them from competitor to partner, and the acquisition of the Judge Dredd license.  I've been playing around with their Judge Dredd gamebook app, and it is quite fun -- more on that later. 

Tin Man really seems to know what they are doing, and they are also doing what publishers should have been doing during the first boom.  They are expanding the pool of potential gamebook players.  While we geeks might be precious to protect our hobbies from "fakes," "hipsters," or "sparkly vampires," as John Scalzi points out -- we shouldn't be.  Whoever wants to be a geek should be allowed to be, and they should be welcomed into our hobbies with open arms.  One of the things that I've learned from living in Southern California is that everyone is a geek.  That's right...everyone.  Disneyland's profits are based on the premise, and have been working for years.  Walk around Disneyland one day as an observer of people.  What do you see?  People from all walks of life joyously expressing their love and affection for fantasy, science fiction, and cartoons.  It is a place where they let down their pretentious guard and allow themselves to have fun.  And that is what being a geek is about.  It is about never loosing the "Golden Age of Science Fiction is 14" attitude and making the Golden Age of Science Fiction right now.  The same is true for comic books, role playing games, or whatever else you geek out about.  When Vampire the Masquerade hit the gaming hobby, I remember those who wrong-mindedly poo pooed Goths coming into our hobby playing their "weepy Goth Anne Rice game."  While others were doing that, I was meeting some great friends who it eventually turned out happened to be willing to try playing Warhammer 40k and Globbo.  Trust me, if you can get someone to play Globbo you've won the pop-culture wars and I credit White Wolf with getting Vampire fans who would never think of playing Globbo in the first place to try it out.  VtM was the gateway game that lead to more gaming for a lot of people.

It appears that Tin Man Games is trying to give fans of the Twilight books and Vampire Diaries a gateway gamebook into my favorite hobby with Strange Loves: Vampire Boyfriends.  This is something we should be praising.  After all, how far is it from Vampire Boyfriends -- a book with game mechanics -- to Vampire the Masquerade?  And as I've mentioned already, Vampire the Masquerade can lead to Twilight Imperium play.

Check out Tin Man's book trailer for their new book Vampire Boyfriends, the first in the Strange Loves series.


You know what?  I think I might just pick up a copy of this book/game.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Geekerati Radio: Once More Speaking Out with Our Geek Out

On May 14th, 2007 the Geekerati Radio podcast streamed its first "live streaming" episode at Blog Talk Radio. That day I turned on my computer, started up Skype, and dialed a conference call with Bill Cunningham, Eric Lytle, and Shawna Benson. Within minutes we were discussing what we thought of the then upcoming 2007 summer blockbuster movie season. We scheduled the show to run for one hour, and the episode ended up at 73 minutes. Sixty of those minutes streamed live, the remaining minutes were "overtime."

Given our love of all aspects of popular culture the "overtime" feature became a regular component of our show. Unlike most podcasts, those based at Blog Talk Radio are live shows that can receive callers and we wanted to take advantage of that benefit. We also seem to have an uncanny ability to speak on and on about the things we love. So this left us with circumstances we could leverage to make our show a little more distinct from other podcasts/online radio shows. We could have live callers like a radio show (not that we ever received too many of those), and we could have bonus footage that could only be heard on the archive of our episode. Those who listened live could call in, but those who relistened -- or listened at a later date -- could hear the full content of our show. We loved it.

Between May 14th, 2007 and September 13th, 2010 we recorded 131 episodes of the show. For the first couple of years we aired weekly almost without fail, but that changed as life's obligations intruded one time too many into our schedules. The show came to a grinding halt, but that is all about to change.

Tuesday marked the 1 year anniversary of the "last" episode of Geekerati Radio, but this Sunday marks the triumphant return of an activity I deeply enjoy. Shawna Benson and I will be joining forces to discuss the upcoming fall season of television. Shawna is quite the television buff and she's got the lowdown on what's hot, what's not, and what the sleepers and disappointments will be. It should make for a great discussion.

Join us this Sunday at 4pm Pacific as we discuss the upcoming season, reminisce over Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and ponder the future of "television scheduling." We live in an exciting era for content. If you want to participate in the conversation, you can call us at (646) 478-5041 during the episode. We'll be happy to take your call, it can't be as weird as our infamous "what is this show about" call.

Our past episodes include interviews with:

  1. Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis
  2. Brandon Sanderson
  3. Brent Weeks
  4. Marc Bernardin
  5. Tim Minear
  6. John Rogers

That's only a smattering of the guests we've had in the past, and the kinds of guests we'll be having in the future.

Geek Out About Your Job

Hi! Eric here again.
Speak Out With Your Geek Out is all about getting rid of the negative sterotypes about geeks. Both on the internet and in your 'real' life. Almost everyone has something that they do for a living. It should be something you're proud of and fulfill you in some way. That's not always the case but it's something to which most of us aspire.

My second post for #speakgeek week is about loving what you do for a living. You can geek out about anything. That's what makes the word so common. You can be a Fantasy Football Geek or a Food Geek. But you can also geek about what you do at your job. For me, my job is in the field of Chemistry. Analytical Chemistry is wonderfully rewarding profession.

I have always enjoyed chemistry from my early days of childhood. I was always watching science shows like Mr. Wizard, Bill Nye the Science guy, and even Beakman's World. Remember them?

Mr. Wizard


Bill Nye the Science Guy

Beakman's World

At my work for California EPA I've had a lot of fun doing things for my job. We've blown up explosives in a microwave. I get to shoot things with an X-ray gun to analyze them. I've dissolved all types of stuff in concentrated acid to analysis with plasma. 10000K, hotter then the sun, Plasma! How awesome is that?!? I've also had great opportunities to teach kids and adults about chemistry in some of public outreach events.
Oh and then there's my other job: game designer. I'm having a lot of fun doing that too.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Go Out and Game Out

Hello, Eric here. It is officially Speak out with your geek out week and this is my first post for the event. What is Speak out? It's a pro-geek event that encourages you to be positive about your geeky hobbies and vocations. Blog, post on Facebook or Tweet with the hashtag #speakgeek all week long with us! It was put together by friends of the blog Monica Valentinelli , Jessica Banks and Amanda Valentine. This will be the first in a short series of geek-talk posts.

For today I want to talk about one of the things I geek out about the most, hobby games. More specifically Boardgames and D&D Encounters night at my favorite game store, EndGame in Oakland. The positive message for you today is find a local gaming community and go out and play.

Let's talk about why I go here once a week for seven hours of gaming every week, all in one great evening. It's a great place to meet people who are as excited about boardgames and D&D as I am. We have a very regular group of people who make the core group of the night, but new players are always welcome. EndGame prides itself on community building and Wednesday night is one of the prime examples of this. The environment is a really fun and loose. You'll never have to sit out of a game. People bring lots of new games try out every week. I've gotten to try out many new games(both newly released and older games I've missed) from all different genres here. It is also a good place to meet people who like to design board games. Prototypes of new games can often be seen on the tables on Wednesday nights. It's also where I met my co-designers Evan Denbaum and Chris Ruggiero. We designed Race to Adventure together at one of these Wednesday night events. Check out the blog for the game's origins here: Race to Adventure! aka the wallet game

I also help run Dungeons and Dragons Encounters here on the same nights. We have two tables for the current season Lost Crown of Neverwinter. This is a fun free publisher sponsored event for playing D&D at your local gaming store. At EndGame it is 1-2 hours starting at 7pm every Wednesday. When play is done people are welcome and encouraged to stay for boardgame nights. One good bridge for this group is the D&D adventure board game Castle Ravenloft. We are stuck on the last adventure trying to defeat the evil vampire Lord Strahd.

He's the toughest villian in the game, by far.

I greatly encourage you to find a local FLGS (Friendly Local Games Store) to play hobby games. It is a great way to share your geek hobby with others. If you can't find a FLGS with board game nights, ask them if you can start your own event at their store. Most store owners are more than happy to host events if someone else is passionate in organizing them. And if you don't have a neighborhood game store, try finding gamers in your area on the BoardGameGeek website.