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Vancouver's I Am A Gamer Jam To Advance Female Protagonists: Success or Failure?

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Personally, I was excited to hear about an event that would bring over 150  talented programmers, developers and others together in a 48-hour time span with the goal to create a video game with a strong female protagonist.  The I Am a Gamer Jam was held in Vancouver, Canada during the weekend of July 12-14, 2013. Due to the popularity of this event, satellite operations were set up in various North American locations and others participated remotely around the world.  The event was the brainchild of Kimberly Voll, a professor of software engineering and gaming design at the Centre for Digital Media in Vancouver, Canada. She stated she was stunned to hear that major video game companies were of the mindset that games with female protagonists would not succeed.  Her answer? -- The I Am a Gamer Jam 48-hour video game jam development marathon. 

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The question is, did this event that actually sold out in Canada serve its purpose to convince major video game companies to feature more female protagonists in video games, or did it do the exact opposite?  From most reports, the event was well attended; however, in my opinion, some of the video game submissions were not of the highest calibre.

First of all, when I found out about this event, I was under the impression the participants would collaborate and develop a video game with a female lead that would garner lots of attention after the event was over, and go on to become a huge success.  In other words, I thought that with all these great minds working together, the results would be stellar, culminating in a video game that not only had a realistic main female protagonist, but a game that would prove to be a financial success as well.

After the event was over, I was eager to learn of the game that could possibly propel and convince major gaming companies that video games with a strong female protagonists could actually succeed.  The resulting video game would be a sort of  a "See, I told you it could be done and here's the proof."  Did this happen?  You tell me.

Here's what I found out. First of all, the developers worked on separate games that supposedly cast a female character as the main protagonist.  This was my initial surprise -- Multiple video games would be created instead of one.  Maybe it is unlikely that so many people could collaborate and come up with one magnificent game after only 48 hours, but at least this would have been a good start, in my opinion.

 My second surprise was that most of the games were cartoonish, simplistic and lacked imagination of any kind, in my opinion. 

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Yes, the above picture of a banana was one of the more than 40 submissions of video games with a female protagonist. By the way, when you clicked on this game, nothing happened, so apparently it may have, thankfully, been taken down.  One of the statement made by a commenter was he or she  would not have played this game anyway -- even if the game did not have a  banana as cover art.

Unfortunately, it gets worse.  I got the impression the developers were determined to steer away from actually showing a female as a graphic.  Of course some of the submissions showed females, some as stick figures, some as unattractive cartoon figures or other images that were not appealing to the eye -- in my opinion.  Some of the submissions veered off the topic at hand and brought in social issues, and even religion.  

Could it be that some of the developers at this jam were not quite the best and brightest the video game community has to offer? Believe it or not, I "played" one of the games, that essentially was a story about someone's relatives.  You advance through the story by clicking on a link, which brought you to another page with a picture of someone and a story line that went nowhere. Where is the creativity in that?

Another question I have  is where were the imaginative, talented developers that create those big block-buster type games such as Call of Duty, Mass Effect and other creative games that are saturated with video game playing excitement?  Based on the results of some of these elementary video games submitted, they definitely were not at this jam.

 

bee

This is another game that supposedly advances the cause of having female video game protagonists.  A game with a grotesque looking bee, no less.  

There were other games that showed pictures or illustrations of buildings, etc. with nary a female character in sight.  With over 40 percent of the particpants female, it makes me wonder if they also veered away from showing an actual female as cover art for their video game.

To be fair, Ms. Voll, did mention that these were mostly independent developers; however, in my opinion, independent developers can be just as talented and creative as those who work for the major video game companies.

I believe that, unfortunately, the I Am A Gamer Jam may have done the cause a disservice by trying to cram creativity in video game development in a 48-hour period.  Sometimes it may taker over 48 hours to come up with a good idea for a video game -- much less to actually have one finished by that time.  Maybe a week's time span would have given the developers more time to get their creative juices flowing and come up with a plausible video game with a strong female protagonist.

Regarding the publicity for this event -- I recommend that Ms. Voll be mindful of the comments she makes which can be miscontrued or misinterpreted.  For example, what would you think if you heard her say that "Independent developers are the ones that can come forward and try crazy ideas."  Was she inferring that having a video game with a strong female protagonist, is a "crazy idea?"  Also she further stated, "What defines the industry is the big, production companies...On one hand I respect what they are doing." She's entitled to her opinion, however, did she mean she respects that some of these companies shun having a female protagonist in their video games?

Of course, sometimes things and situations seem differently from the outside looking in, and maybe those participating thought they were really doing something positive to promote having female protagonists in video games. I think organizing this event was  probably a huge effort on Ms. Voll's part; however, it remains to be seen if any positive actions in the video game industry will result from this jam.

It is possible a message was sent to the video game industry that they need to step it up relative to featuring female protagonists in their video games.  In order for this effort to have any affect on the video game industry, regardless of how insignificant-- they must look deeper into the overall idea of this 48-hour jam, rather than the actual substance, which unfortunately, in my opinion, left a lot to be desired.

Win a Shirt Weekend 11-6-16 : Forza 6

On Sunday, 11/6/16 you can win a limited edition All Games ‘Legacy’ t-shirt by beating Ms. H from Mom’s Minute in a race in Forza Motorsport 6 on the XBox One. To enter, send a friend request and message to gamertag ‘VARACES’ on Xbox Live or post your gamertag here stating you want to enter the race using the hashtag ‘#allgameswasw’ at anytime this week and we'll contact you. On Sunday, 11/6 at 4pm EST/1pm PST you will be invited to an online race via Xbox Live with other entrants along with Ms. H. If you win the race you will win a gorgeous AllGames ‘Legacy’ t-shirt.
Rules: Players may use any B-Class Vehicle
The Race will be 3 laps on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Ms.H will be using a custom 2014 Lamborghini Huracan
(we can ship to US or US Military Base addresses)

Rush Bros. (Mac/PC)

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If you would like to play a fun, energetic, competitive  type video game, then you may want to play Rush Bros. In the multiplayer mode, you play against your friends and find out just who is the better player.  Rush Bros. is essentially a platform racing game, where your video game character travels and avoids or conquers several obstacles before reaching the finish.  The gameplay consists of about 40 levels, with you as the video game player choosing the specific level you want to play. You do not have to traverse each level in sequence -- you have the freedom to choose whichever level you prefer to play.  There is also a survival and fast forward mode where the gameplay is basically the same; however, your character will move more quickly.

 

Rush Bros. Gameplay Before I get into the specific gameplay, lets talk about some preliminaries.  Rush Bros. is a PC/Mac game, so it is playable on either the PC or the Mac.  I played this video game on my Mac, and did not experience any problems having the game added to my Steam library for gameplay.  So it goes without saying that before you play this game, you must already have a Steam account or be prepared to set one up.  I'm thinking that if you are an avid video game player, whether you play games on your favorite consoles, PC or Mac -- that you more than likely already have a Steam account.  If not, why not set one up so you can play Rush Bros. with your friends?

 

Rush Bros.!Rush Bros.!

 A big part of video games in addition to gameplay is the graphics.  This game did not disappoint in this area.  I believe you will enjoy the bright graphics as well as the colorful backgrounds as you play the different levels of this game.  Even though Rush Bros is a racing game -- the race to the finish may not be as simple as you may think.  On your way, hopefully to victory, you will encounter spikes and other obtacles that you have to avoid if you want to clinch the win.  

 

Need help in getting to that next higher structure while you are racing?  Simply, use the springs to propel your character to the next higher height.  If the springs do not do the trick, then you may have to scale the side of the structure before jumping over the spikes to continue your journey for the win. My points here are there are a multitude of ways to move your character along the platform.

 

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 You may say to me -- "Well, that's all good, Ms. H, but were there any negatives about this game?"  My response would be the positives of this game outweigh the negatives -- but there were some.  When I loaded the game and saw the graphics on the main page, I thought this would be basically a music game.  I saw two figures wearing sunglasses who appeared  to be DJs.  And what do DJs do?  Among other things, they play music.  So I was getting excited about playing some sort of music game.  However, that was not to be the case.  Music is a big part of this game -- in fact, you can change the music to listen to different tracks as you play the game.  However, music is more of a by-product of the game -- instead of being intricately woven into the gameplay -- at least on the parts of this game that I played.  Once the gameplay started, the music was more of a backdrop to the game itself.

 

I'm not sure if this was a glitch in the game; however, while trying to get my character through a maze of blocks, I got him actually stuck in a block -- and he could not get out.  Try as I may -- the little figure stayed in the confines of the block until the challenger, of course, obviously won the race, since I could not get my character out of the block.

 

Another possible glitch is at one time during gameplay, I stopped pushing buttons during the game; however, the figure continued to run back and forth across the screen. Mind you, this was a character that should have been following my directional commands -- but that was not the case. He kept moving along, without me pushing nary a button.

 

There was also what I would call a "tedious" part of the game. The gameplay involved the character needing a key to open certain doors.  In order to get the key, the character had to backtrack over areas that had already been covered to retrieve the key -- and then go back to the door with the key to open it.  I found this part of the game to be tedious, because I felt that I made progress in getting to the door that required a key -- only to find out that I had to sometimes retrace my steps to get the key and return back to the door to open it.  Some may see this as a way to win the race, especially if your challenger is not fast at locating and using the key; however, I found it tedious to go back and forth in this game.  My suggestion would be to position the key at a checkpoint that is very close to the door to be opened instead of having the player to retrace his or her steps.  

 

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From a PC/Mac playing standpoint, versus the video game consoles, i.e. the current Xbox 360, and the PS3, I had to get accustomed to using either the directional arrows or the specific alphabet keys to move the character. In my opinion, this game would be more enjoyable to play using a controller instead of the keyboard.  In fact, I believe it is recommended that a controller be used along with your PC or Mac.  Unfortunately, during the game, in my zeal to win, my fingers would sometimes become overly taxed, as I pounded the keys to move the character.  Thankfully, my fingers returned back to normal after I stopped playing the game. Of course, you may or may not experience this discomfort while playing the game.

 

Now back to the positives. I liked  getting co-op help on certain parts of the game via challenger on Skype. I also liked the upbeat music that played during the gameplay, as well as the different environments that changed with each level. 

 

Sounds like a video game you would like to play? If so, you can play Rush Bros. now since it is available on Steam for the PC and Mac. 

 

Rush Bros. was released on May 24, 2013 by Xyla Entertainment.

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Mom's Minute 6-17-2013

Fresh from covering the Anime Mid-Atlantic event for Allgames.com, Ms. H welcomes everyone to the show with a promise to fill listeners in with more details of the event during her next show -- due to time constraints.  She also wishes everyone a happy "after Father's Day." She reviews Knytt Underground and Sonic the Hedgehog Tennis video games....

Mom's Minute Interviews Pinball Arcade's Bobby King on 9/22

Monday 9/22, Bobby King from Farsight Studios will join Ms. H on Mom’s Minute at 4pm PST/7pm EST for an indepth talk about Pinball Arcade and the new Kickstarter to bring the legendary pinball table, The Addams Family to life. For years Pinball Arcade has been dedicated to bringing the most realistic simulations of classic pinball tables to as many platforms as possible. Now they’ve set their sights on one of the most coveted tables of all time and are crowd funding the licenses needed to make it happen.

Ms. H will get all the details about the project from Mr. King and also find out what’s in the future for Pinball Arcade. And you can get your questions answered, too. You can interact with the live show by hopping into the chat room during the interview at allgames.com/live and submitting your question. If you can’t be here live on Monday 9/22 at 4pm PST/7pm EST, then you can still ask your questions for Bobby King right here by using the comment section below.

Author Baine Kelly on Mom's Minute 7/28/14

Ms. H welcomes critically acclaimed author, Baine Kelly to Mom's Minute on 7/28. Baine Kelly's latest novella, Splash, is set in the 'Sable World' she's created. Filled with vampires (without the sparkle) and the supernatural, Splash is the perfect entry point for readers into the intricate landscape that spans centuries.

Listen to the show live at 7pm est / 4pm pst at Allgames.com/live and hear how Ms. Kelly got her start, whats next, and maybe a few spoilers from the series. You can get interactive in the AllGames chat room and send questions directly to the host.  If you can't make the show live because you're too busy looking for a batch of O postive, you can still leave questions in the comments sections below.

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Will Aiden Pearce Deliver for Watch Dogs?

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The main protaganist, Aiden Pearce of the Watch Dogs upcoming video game, has his job cut out for him.  Not only is he expected to give video game players a spell-bounding, action-packed, suspense-riddled video game playing experience, but Aiden Pearce must also help bring in record breaking sales numbers for Watch Dogs --  similar to Grand Theft Auto V. When GTA V was released, it was probably not surprising that Watch Dog's original release date of November, 2013 was delayed.  (See Watch Dogs article link below).  You may know that GTA V went on to break video game sales records upon its release. During that time, it appeared that UbiSoft was not confident that Watch Dogs' Aiden Pearce was up to fighting against the video gaming beast that was GTA V; and subsequently, held off releasing Watch Dogs.

Aiden Pearce Fights an Uphill Battle

Looks like in some cases Aiden Pearce will be fighting an uphill battle to get to the "victory lap."  He is already being compared to the main protoganists of the Assassin's Creed and Unchartered video games.  Even the premise of seeking revenge upon which the gameplay is based resembles other video games.  As the storyline unfolds in Watch Dogs, Aiden Pearce gets into the hacking business to avenge the destruction of a family member.  His methods include hacking the surveillance system, CtOS which is used by the fictitious Chicago, Illinois company which he hacks into.  He spies not only on his enemies but also on his family because of his strong propensity to work hard to keep them safe. Even some of the gameplay of Watch Dogs is being compared to that of GTA V, Infamous Second Son as well as other games.  

The question is with these similarities to characters, actions, gameplay and missions of other video games, where does the uniqueness lies with Aiden Pearce as well as the game, Watch Dogs? What is the magic ingredient of Watch Dogs that will catapult it to record video game sales? The hacking element of the gameplay may fit the bill for uniqueness and may be the basis for the continued excitement for Watch Dogs, similar to when it was first introduced at Ubisoft's press conference at  E3 2012.  The game itself has been in production since 2009 and many may say that this game has improved with time.Watch Dogs Supporting CastWatch Dogs Supporting Cast

Aiden Pearce Strengths

Besides the similarities between him and other main male protaganists in video games, what does Aiden Pearce bring to the table that may entice you to want to play Watch Dogs?  For starters, he is a technological mastermind; an expert in social engineering; highly proficient in hacking; an expert at defensive and offensive driving; has impressive hand-to-hand combat skills,  and demonstrates atheleticism and agility when mobile.  He also appears to remain calm under pressure.  

Additionally, even though he is known as the best in his field, he still seeks out help with hacking from others including Clara Lille who he admits that he does not trust completely -- but she is the best hacker that he knows.  He shares the thought relative to technology,  "Big Brother is Always Watching." In fact, Watch Dogs gameplay uses the concept of information warfare, where all data is interconnected, in a world that is dependent to a degree on technology.  It is this information warfare and the thought that someone is always watching, in addition to revenge, that is the basis for Aiden Pearce's concentration on surveillance. Aiden Pierce in actionAiden Pierce in action

Aiden Pearce Weakness

Aiden Pearce has a criminal background, even though he seems committed to try to walk the straight and narrow sometimes.

Will Aiden Pearce Deliver for Watch Dogs?

All being said and done -- Will the video game character Aiden Pearce deliver for Watch Dogs?  The short answer is that after five years in development, the prevailing thought may be that Watch Dogs is now as good a game as it will ever be -- not allowing for the DLC that is sure to follow.  

With Watch Dogs being released in just a few days, I guess we will find out soon enough if the delay beyond the November 2013 initial launch date was worth the wait and if Aiden Pearce will deliver. When UbiSoft delayed the game upon GTA V's release, the expectation was not only would Aiden Pearce deliver for Watch Dogs, but the game, itself, would rival other games in the same genre of third person shooters, open world action adventure video games.

Watch Dogs, is rated M for Mature.  The video game releases on May 27, 2014 on the PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, the PC, and later (about Q4 2014) for the WII U.

http://www.moms-minute.com/index.php/ms-h-news/953-video-games-watch-dogs-release-date-revealed

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Ms H's Civil War V Tournament Report

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By Ms. H
If you would like to know what happened at the Civil War V Tournament, you’ve come to the right place. Not only will you find out who won at the tournament, but you will get a sense of the general atmosphere of the event and much more from someone who attended all three days of the tournament. Civil War V Tournament happenings will be shared with you raw – without any frills or fluffs.
So let’s get started!


The Civil War V Tournament was held in Richmond, Virginia at the Comfort Inn Hotel on April 19-21, 2013. This video game tournament included such fighting games as Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Street Fighter X Tekken, King of Fighters, Mortal Kombat 9, Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition, Super Street Fighter IV and many other fighting games. To the Civil War V Tournament organizers’ credit, the event even had the video game Injustice: Gods Among Us which was released less than a week from the start of the tournament.

Weather During the Civil War V Tournament
civil war v comfortinn 1civil war v comfortinn 1Rain greeted the players and spectators on the first day of the tournament on Friday, April 19, 2013, but the weather redeemed itself quite nicely with blue skies and sunny days on both Saturday and Sunday, April 20-21, 2013. Of course, once inside the Comfort Inn, weather was not a factor and probably far from everyone’s minds as the focus turned to the tournament. Attendees either actively participated in the video game matches with a chance to leave as a winner, or they were spectators -- basking in the after-glow of experiencing superb video game playing by some of the most well known names and competitors in the video game world.


Parking and Rooms at the Civil War V Tournament
Parking and hotel rooms at the Comfort Inn, Richmond Virginia were at a premium during the tournament. All the rooms at the Comfort Inn were sold out a few days before the event which started on April 19, 2013. The organizers appeared to have done a good job getting the word out that if you planned to stay at the Comfort Inn, it would be to your advantage to make your hotel reservations early. In fact, days before the event, the Civil War V Tournament website provided a count down of the number of rooms available at the Comfort Inn– until they sold out.

If you planned to stay elsewhere while at the tournament, there were plenty of other hotels within close proximity, or even a short drive away. Of course hotel arrangements depended on whether or not you travelled a long distance to attend the event. If you arrived at the Civil War V Tournament after the Comfort Inn parking lot was full, especially on Saturday, April 20, 2013, all you had to do was to drive around the parking area a few times and sooner or later someone would leave or take a break from the event, drive away in their car, and leave a parking space for you. I know, because I experienced this for myself on the tournament’s busiest day -- Saturday.

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Eateries at the Civil War V Tournament
There were no food services establishments at the Comfort Inn such as a hotel restaurant, eateries, etc. When the hunger pangs hit, video game players as well as spectators had to either go out to eat at one of the nearby eating areas, or place an order and have food delivered to the hotel. The plus side of the eating situation is the downtown Richmond area where the tournament was being held had lots of eating establishments around – some were even located within a short walking distance of the Civil War V Tournament site.


Civil War V Tournament - Day 1 - Search and Discover
I really did not know what to expect during the first day of the tournament. I was in a search and discover frame of mind. I did some preliminary research on the net and saw pictures of people huddled in a small room. I am happy to say the room sizes were a lot larger than I expected once I actually arrived at the site.


Once you walk through the double doors, which are located near the front entrance of the Comfort Inn, you are a hop, skip and a jump away from the main video game viewing area.
Due to the time of my arrival on Friday, April 19, 2013 on day l of the event, no one was at the registration desk. I walked right into the main video game viewing area where there were some chairs and a large screen video of the video game plays by the competitors.


At about 11:30 p.m., there were about 45 to 60 people in the room milling around or sitting as they watched the video game plays on the big screen. Some people were standing near the entrance way, while others were inside the video gaming room. I sat at a table which had casual video games set up. Soon after I arrived in the room, a Civil War V Tournament staff person walked in and announced or reminded the attendees that beer was not allowed in the area, after, I presume, he saw someone drinking beer. He also reminded everyone it was close to quitting time.


The first day of the tournament was scheduled to close at midnight and resume at 10:00 a.m. the next day (Saturday, April 20, 2013). In jest, he humorously said that he was going to have to kick everybody out if they did not leave soon since no one seemed anxious to leave.

civil war v attendees 1civil war v attendees 1Civil War V Tournament Day 2 – Full House
All I can ask is - Where were all these people on Friday? Everywhere you look, there were people either congregating together, standing along, walking around or sitting, if they could find an empty seat.


By the time I reached the Comfort Inn on Saturday, the video game tournament was in full swing. The registration desk was now open and staffed. Just in front of me was a young man who asked how much he had to pay to enter the venue. He was told $40.00. Apparently it appears that he did not preregister early for the tournament when he could have paid $20.00 instead of the hefty $40.00.
After a minor administrative mix-up of my name not being on a list of people who registered was cleared up, I received my official Civil War V Tournament spectator badge which I promptly completed with my name, Ms. H, followed by Allgames.com. The tournament participants wore blue Civil War V Tournament combatant badges, while the non-players wore orange spectator badges. I later wrote “MEDIA” on my badge to further identify myself as the press for Allgames.com.


People were crammed in the large video game viewing area, almost wall to wall.People were crammed in the large video game viewing area, almost wall to wall.. There was a noticeable shortage of chairs. As soon as someone got up to move, he or she promptly lost his or her seat which was quickly taken by someone else. I located a chair, and stayed in the same area for quite some time in order to keep my seat. The downside of not having enough chairs was sometimes people stood right in front of you if you were seated and blocked your view of the video game play on the large screen. I personally had to move my chair over as people stood in front of me looking at the screen, oblivious that they were blocking someone’s view – not only mine, but the people sitting behind me as well.


I later brought the lack of an adequate number of chairs to one of the organizer’s attention who said that next year they will make sure there are a sufficient number of chairs. According to the organizer, the reason there were not enough chairs was the unexpected increase in this year’s number of attendees – about 100 more people attended this event this year than last year. The increased attendance was a plus for the event; however, the downside was the lack of chairs to accommodate the increased number of attendees.


The “Big Names” at the Civil War V Tournament

civil war v chrisg 1civil war v chrisg 1It did not take long to find out that one of the big names at this tournament was a person who has been touted to be one of the best, if not the best fighting video game player in the U.S. His name? AGE|NYChrisG. He was the favorite to win most, if not all, of the video game tournaments at this event. How did I find this out? Due to the buzz in the room, my Allgames.com media contact, and AGE|NYChrisG’s name being brought up numerous times during the event’s conversations. He was always seated prominently on the front row with the other video game players, white head phones first cradled around his neck and then later moved to wrap around his ears where they would stay for the remainder of the tournament.


Video Game Rooms at the Civil War V Tournament
Initially, I was under the impression the large video game room was the only area for the video game tournaments. However, I found out that in addition to the main video game (xBox 360 area with the large screen) there were two additional rooms designated for video game playing – the arcade and the PlayStation 3 rooms. I took a quick glimpse of the PS3 room and saw tables set up with PS 3 video game systems. This room was dark inside – but not as dark as the arcade room.


Even though it was dark in this room, the arcade room was the second location that I visited the most often. The first location I visited the most was the main area with the large video game viewing screen. This smaller room had the Marvel vs Capcom 2 sit-down arcade machine as well as various other arcade fighting video games.


civil war v arcaderoom 1civil war v arcaderoom 1Of interest in the arcade room was a Street Fighter II tournament where players were provided video game fight sticks. This was a contrast to the main video game area, where everyone seemed to be carrying and using their own personal video game fight stick. Whether being held by a handle or clutched underneath their arm, it looked as if everyone had their fight stick to play the video games. Therefore, I was surprised that for the Street Fighter II game in the arcade room, players had to use the video game fight stick provided to them.
I watched as one of the well-known players TS|NerdJosh,played the Street Fighter II game –awaiting for him to walk away victoriously so I could interview him. But that was not to be the case. After losing that particular match, he spoke to one of the Civil War staff in the room about the delay in the controller relative to the game. He then walked pass me without nary a glance or an acknowledgement that I was even there – even though I was within his line of vision. Could it be that when someone is in the midst of a video game tournament, they get tunnel vision where their focus is strictly on video game playing – and little or nothing else? I’ll leave this question for you avid gamers to answer, especially if you have ever been in a video game tournament.


Crowd Appreciation – The Misses
civil war v tournament 1One of the highlights of this event was the crowd enthusiastically showing support for their favorite video game characters or players by roaring and cheering loudly in unison when a K.O. or win occurred. Unfortunately, quite a few people thought it was also appropriate to add lots of profanity along with their cheers. For example, if the game was not going as planned, someone yelled profanities, over and over again. Someone else inappropriately used the “N” word, and not in a whisper – but it was yelled out very loudly, also over and over again. Yet someone else showed his support for smoking an illegal substance by displaying in large letters an inappropriate message on his T-shirt. Thankfully, there were no children there; however, there did seem to be some people who were under eighteen years old at the tournament.


even though drinking alcohol was going on – which is prohibited as listed in the rules for the tournament – no one got into any fights, arguments or altercations.Alcohol once again made a presence by one of the video game spectators having a bottle enclosed in a brown paper bag and taking generous swigs from it, as he shared it with the rest of the people in his group. Yes, as with any large gatherings – groups, or cliques formed where they attempted to try to let everyone know that where they were is where the “party” was happening. The more drinking that was done, the louder the group became. Thankfully, the event was almost over for day 2, and even though drinking alcohol was going on – which is prohibited as listed in the rules for the tournament – no one got into any fights, arguments or altercations. (I kept my fingers crossed).


Most of the time on day 2 was spent by the Civil War staffers organizing the video game players into teams who competed against each other in order to advance to the next round of eliminations. Later, an announcement was made that Marvel vs Capcom would be streamed live instead of another video game – either Street Fighter x Tekken or Injustice: Gods Among Us.

 

Crowd Appreciation – The Pluses
It was exhilarating to see how animated the spectators got when various video games were played and their favorite video game character, or favorite video game player was on a winning streak.

 

Civil War V Day 3 – The Finals
On Day 3, it appeared as if the venue found more chairs after the congested seating experienced by all the previous day. Sadly, there were not as many people present on the last day of the tournament, so the seats that were very much needed on Saturday, sat idle, -- unused on Sunday.


Sunday’s, April 21, 2013 Civil War V Tournament
After spending most of my time in the main viewing area on Saturday, I did a “360”, and spent time in the small dark arcade room on Sunday. Similar to the main viewing room, there were less people in the arcade room than the previous day. In fact, there were lots of arcade machines that were not being used – which was a good thing. I, along with other video game spectators/players played some of the street fighter games for “free.” Of course if you paid the admittance fee, you sort of also played to pay these arcade video games as well. I enjoyed playing the Marvel vs Capcom 2 version which was located just inside the arcade room.


A couple sat next to me at the arcade video game machine and proceeded to play a video fighting game. I noticed the female or girl gamer was winning against her opponent, time and time again. I made a mental note to interview her after they finished their game play – which I did.


civil war v commentators 1Since I was in the arcade room, It was unknown to me what was happening in the main viewing video game area. I found out later as I watched part of the streamed game play online, that raffles were going on, as well as a “televised” view of everyone in the room. This was unlike the Evo stream that I watched last summer, where only the video game play and the players were streamed.
It looks as if Civil War V Tournament streams give viewers a look at the video game players as well as the audience, instead of just the players and the game play. This would not have been a problem if the lighting was better. In fact, if you look at the stream, some of the audience members resembled zombies with blacked out—skull like eyes due to the poor lighting. Additionally some of the video game players features were hard to make out due to the very poor lighting. Sometimes you saw what looked to be a silhouette, when instead the camera was aimed directly at the player.
I was glad I was not in the main room at that time when there were camera shots of the audience with lots of very poor lighting.


However, I eventually went to the main video game viewing area. On my way there, I noticed fewer playstation 3 video game players in the PS 3 playing room than what I saw earlier - so apparently actions were already being taken to clear out the area since the tournament would be ending soon.


Once back in the main video game playing room with the big screen, I noticed a few more females there than the day before, however, in my opinion, they did not seem to be as interested in the video game as their male partners.



civil war v casualgamearea 1Once again, AGE|NYChrisG appeared to be the main attraction. However, during a break, or lull in the game play, he found his way to one of the casual video game tables, and actually watched someone else play the game – but not for long. He made his way past me back to the front of the video game playing/viewing area – still with his hair pulled back into a ponytail with white headphones around his ears. Just like TS|NerdJosh--he seemed preoccupied, and walked past me. However, unlike TS|NerdJosh, he did give me about a 1 second glance since I was in his line of vision. I guess tournament video game players are really focused on their gameplay at the exclusion of smiling and sometimes giving pleasant greetings to others.


Break From the Civil War V Tournament
I would describe the overall atmosphere of this event as intenseI would describe the overall atmosphere of this event as intense – not friendly – not jovial – not overly happy – just intense. If you looked around, you would see some people sitting by themselves just starring at the screen, or checking their phones – just as if they were the only ones in the room instead of in a room full of people. I at one time was sitting next to one such person. I took a picture of the screen just in front of him, just as he turned to look at me. At that moment, the camera flashed a light in his face and I apologized. He smiled and said that was ok. Yaaaa!…. Finally, I saw someone smile!
Soon after that, I initiated smiling and speaking to people regardless how brief – just to bring a more uplifting feeling to the event, for myself – personally.


When I took a break and went to the local CVS store down the street, it was a welcome change to have not one but two people to just smile and speak to me without me making overtures to speak first. I enjoyed my break from the Civil War V Event – if only to converse with someone outside of this intense atmosphere – and even if it was only for a few minutes.


Interview with Civil War V Tournament Organizer
When I returned from my break and after getting a phone call, I left the main video game viewing area and went to the lobby of the Comfort Inn. After my phone call, my immediate goal was to interview someone at the tournament for Allgames.com. While walking down the hall corridor, outside the video gaming rooms, I met a gentleman who was wearing a grey jacket. I asked him if he was there for the tournament and he replied that he was the person who checked me in at the tournament and gave me my badge. Initially, I did not recognize or remember him since I did not see the blue Civil War Staff T-shirt he was wearing beneath the grey jacket.


Herein starts one of my highlights of the three-day video game event - My candid interview with Patrick Perrone, one of the organizers of the Civil War V Tournament. Patrick politiely answered my questions and voluntarily provided interesting and thought provoking behind the scene information regarding the Civil War V Tournament.


After thanking Patrick for the interview, I returned to the main viewing area where the tournament finals were really heating up quickly. The video game being played was Marvel vs Capcom and the crowd was really into it. As the number of hits grew on the screen, the crowd would cry out in a deep voice in unison – “WOOF, WOOF, WOOF” each time the number of hits escalated on the screen. During the actual tournament play, the pause screen would appear when the match ended. Each time this happened, I thought there was a malfunction – but found out later that the pause screen was intentionally added to the game for effect-- almost as another way of saying “Game Over.”


Alcohol and Gambling
Once again alcohol manifested itself at the tournament. There were lots of red cups floating around which may or may not have had alcohol in them. I do know that at about 8:00 p.m. on Sunday night, one of the attendees walked past me as I was sitting and he left behind a large clear bottle of smirnoff vodka, laying on its side on the floor with alcohol left in the bottle. He kept walking without looking down so it is unknown if he knew he had dropped the bottle or not. The alcohol bottle became another piece of debris left on the floor along with the many other pieces of trash.
Looks like the venue did not provide enough trash can receptacles. There were lots of empty soda containers, soda cans, McDonald empty bags and other trash on the floor – in addition to the just fallen vodka bottle.


I happened to be sitting next to this bottle, and decided to move further over to the chair to the far right that had empty soda cartons and McDonalds bags instead of an alcohol bottle. I knew I was risking being seen on the streaming video with the poor lighting – but took my chances.


By this time, one staff member who was now wearing his regular clothes instead of his Civil War V Tournament staff t-shirt was really into the video game play on the large screen. He was screaming so loud he almost sounded hoarse and out of breath at times. After yelling loudly continuously, when the game ended, he bounded from his chair, and made his way to some people as a chair fell on the floor behind him. He did not bother to stop to pick up the chair that had fallen over, but kept moving among the crowd. At first I thought it was interesting that he would be so excited about his favorite video game tournament player winning the match, but then found out that he was actually excited to be winning the money he had gambled on a particular player. Thankfully, everyone had the “bet” money and paid up, because I shiver to think what would have possibly happened if someone did not have the money this excited person thought was due to him. In my opinion, gambling and betting money can create a volatile atmosphere, so I’m again thankful that there were no altercations or real fights at this tournament.


The organizer announced the tournament was over at 9:54 p.m. on Sunday April 21, 2013.


Civil War V Video Game Tournament Assessment In a Nutshell:
PROS
1. Well organized, culminating in announcing winners in a timely manner
2. Tournament players easily identified and put on the correct teams
3. Badges identifying who was playing and who was spectating
4. Friendly/Polite/Informative Organizer (Civil War V Tournament Interviewee)
5. Well attended
6. Eating places nearby
7. No real fights or altercations
8. Ended ahead of schedule
9. Large viewing screen
10. Enthusiastic crowd
11. Well done video game/tournament commentators
12. Free casual video games
13. Injustice: Gods Among Us video game in tournament less than a week after release
14. Games tested and game testers at the tournament
15. Non-smoking – Attendees had to go outside the hotel to smoke
16. Considerate of hotel guests—On Saturday, video game sound was turned down at about 11:00 p.m.
17. Had a contingency plan in place in case of a power outage
18. Arcade kept open for free video game play
19. Neatly typed video game players’ names posted on wall for easy visibility
20. Even though there was a table outside the video gaming room with a person selling t-shirts, no one was openly soliciting or trying to get you to purchase anything
21. Tournament brochure that included rules of the games and conduct expected during the event.
22. Electrical cords were taped down that ran across the doorway entry in the arcade room to avoid a tripping hazard.


CONS
1. Overall intense, unfriendly atmosphere (in my opinion)
2. Arcade room too small with dark lighting
3. Alcohol used by some attendees, vodka alcohol bottle on floor
4. Lots of profanity and the “N” word used
5. Floors trashed
6. Lack of sufficient number of chairs on the busiest day – Day 2
7. Lack of adequate number of trash receptacles
8. Gambling money against winning video game plays/players
9. Poor lighting on streaming which included audience in addition to the video game players
10. “A lot of hype” –This quote is from a video game player at the tournament
11. Lack of adequate number of parking spaces (2nd day of the event)
12. Discourteous attendees including those blocking the view of others
13. Inappropriate T-Shirt message worn by attendee
14. No food service/eateries located at site of tournament


Recommendations:
1. Ensure there are enough chairs so people can sit comfortably at the tournament instead of standing up.
2. Have more than enough trash receptacles available on the video gaming floors to reduce the incidences of people using the floor as a trash receptacle.
3. During the announcements, emphasize that one of the purposes of the tournament is for players as well as spectators to have fun, so enjoy yourselves, but also be nice, polite, and friendly toward others.
4. Enforce the no alcohol policy with a penalty of forfeiting attendance at the event if anyone is drinking alcohol.
5. Add “No Gambling” as one of the rules of the tournament to prevent the possible occurrence of fights or altercations.
6. Locate the arcade in a larger area to allow more walking around space and prevent the feeling of being cramped up in a small place to play video games.


Ms. H’s Message
Video game tournaments can be stressful events – especially for those who are competing. Many have their reputations to uphold as well as other reasons to put large stakes into winning these tournaments.
However, at the end of the day, the tournament was about playing a video game in a virtual world with imaginary heroes. While you were at the tournament, you could have been standing next to a real-life hero – and didn’t even know it. That being said, at your next video game tournament, regardless of the stress and intensity factors involved, take the time to smile at someone and simply say “Hi.”

civil war v lanyard 1

Complete Civil War V Results - http://rvatournaments.tumblr.com/post/48625185250/civil-war-v-results-courtesy-eventhubs

Civil War V is organized by Robin Palm and you can find more information on the event at RVATournaments.com. The tournament was streamed by Team Spooky and sponsored by Mad Catz, Brokentier, Capcom, Monoprice, Lee's, and Home Depot.

 

 Listen to the Civil War V Recap episode of Mom's Minute here - http://www.allgames.com/mm/item/5431-mom-s-minute-04-22-2013

Ms H's Interview with Senior Staff Member Patrick Perrone -

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Ms H speaks with Jessica Flux -

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Ms. H speaks with Alt Mario -

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Marvel Universe Live: A Review

If you would like to see some of your favorite Marvel superheroes in full costume and as always fighting criminal elements, including monsters with lizard tails and others -- then Marvel Universe Live is the show for you.  At Marvel Universe Live you will see a full cast of some of your favorite Marvel characters, some with the added power to perform acrobats and dare-devil riding and stunts while at the same time fighting for justice and the American way.

Norfolk ScopeNorfolk Scope

Marvel Universe Live is a stage show where there are lots of explosions, fireworks, fighting matches and the like to keep your interest.  Some of the fighting can become intense, which can be attributed to the excellent acting chops of the actors and actresses; however, for the very young in attendance, some of the fighting may be a little disconcerting or disturbing -- even if they are accustomed to watching violent cartoons on TV.  My advice during some of the more graphic type fighting scenes is to remind the younger children that no one really gets hurt during the show, and the quick and lightening fighting blows that are levied, never land on the opponents.

In addition to fighting crimes with various theatrical weapons, Marvel superheroes performed knock-down, drag-out fights.  You will see a lot of these types fights in the show. In fact, during some scenes it looked as if nothing but fighting was going on -- so much so that it may be difficult to focus your attention on one fighting area.  This is a plus, in my opinion, because it cemented the professionalism of the actors in doing the fighting, while it heighted the excitement of the audience when so many actions were going on all at once.

Aldrich Killian battles Iron ManAldrich Killian battles Iron Man

Your impression of the show's magnitude would probably depend on what you are used to seeing in a production of this type.  Personally, the last similar show I attended was at the Convention Center in Washington D.C., where the actions took place on a large, round stage surrounded by what looked liked thousands of spectators.  For the show that was held at the Scope in Norfolk, Virginia, there was a seemingly noticeable lack of arena area for the acrobats and stunt driving to take place. The pro of the smaller stage was the audience got a closer view of the superheroes and villains in action while the con was the smaller arena probably gave the show a scaled down type of appearance at first glance. Some of the actions, including the stunt driving probably would have been more spectacular if there were more driving and stunt spaces available at the arena. After a while, one may become used to the arena size.  Also, the actors and actresses seemed to adjust well to the venue's size and structure when acting to the dialogue and performing stunts.  It appeared to have helped that the theatrical props seemed to be adaptable to the size of the arena as well.

Lady Liberty StageLady Liberty Stage

There are also limitations on the type stunts, fights and actions that could take place in the enclosed arena.  Marvel Universe Live took advantage of the space that was available.  For example, in one scene there is large round stage display showing the face of Lady Liberty.  Within this stage display was a winding stairway that provided space for several superheroes to fight against the villains.  Regarding ariel limitations, the air space was used adequately for a villain's airplane to fly high and ultimately get destroyed by explosions while it hovered several feet above the stage area.

Regarding the actors playing the superheroes themselves, some of the actors and actresses appeared sort of smaller in stature including Spiderman, Wolverine, Black Widow and others.  There were exceptions for some of the villains; however, for the most part the superheroes were not as tall as I expected.  Of course, some of the heroes are of the height as depicted in the comic books, and once the show started, which included dare-devil bike stunts and acrobatic moves, it was easy to understand why this was so.  Some of the actors and actresses appeared to be stunt riders first with the capability to maneuver themselves along on their bikes, and were actors and actresses depicting superheroes second.  

There were several crowd-pleasing moments in the show that caused the audience to applaud loudly.  Not to give anything away, these actions included lots of fire in one case and in the other case -- the entrance of one of the larger superheroes in the arena toward the end of the show.  In my opinion, this was the most size, girth and height appropriate superhero who appeared, even though it was obvious an actor was in a large, embellished costume which would probably not be adequate for doing anything more than walking in it much less performing acrobatic stunts. 

Marvel Live Universe is a lot more than stunts and acrobats being done.  There is a storyline that the actors follow during the show. The venue is set up where the audience hears dialogue from the characters who perform actions relative to the booming voices that fill the arena.   For the most part, actions were done in concert with the voice acting.  Once the second half of the show started or maybe even earlier, one may become accustomed to the voice acting and the fact they are watching stunts being done, along with the superheroes moving to the voice actiing -- sort of like "lip-synch acting." In other words, it did not appear as if the characters were actually saying their parts, unless their personal voice acting was recorded earlier.

Hats off to the pyrotechnic professionals who were expert in setting up and executing the firey displays while at the same time keeping the actors and the audience safe.  They managed to do an excellent job of providing just enouigh theatrical fire works to keep the audience happy as well as the actors and actresses unhurt.  

Black WidowBlack Widow

There were an  array of superhero actresses, which included the female Captain America, Black Widow, and a few others.  The female superheroes' presence was not as prevalent as the males in the show which is no fault of Marvel Universe Live but is a reflection of the comic book make-up in general. Their stunts were also not as "jaw-breaking" as some of the males.  For example, some of the stunts performed by the males were jumping using the motorcyles from high altitudes, driving over barrels surrounded by fire, running out on stage engulfed in flames, and other crowd-pleasing feats.  By comparison the most the female characters did including Black Widow was to drive around the stage on motorcycles, being lowered from the ceiling by wires and fighting on a high altitude platform. This mix could possibly change if more female stunt performers auditioned to become a part of Marvel Universe Live.

Marvel Universe Live provided an excellent correlation between the live performance and filmed portions of the story and the scenery.  One may get the impression visually  that the superheroes are actually climbing up the  high, avalance prone mountains as they traversed the ladders staged against the filmed images.

There were also laugh out loud moments in the show, sometimes based upon the dialogue between the superheroes  themselves and sometimes from the narrator to the audience.  Marvel Universe Live demonstrated that even though superheroes have been around for some time, they are able to keep up with the times, including the advent of social media such as Facebook, Twitter along with hashtags.  Some of the most humorous dialogue included the use of social media references in the show.

SpidermanSpiderman

Marvel Universe Live is a show that is entertainment that will delight all ages.  Whether your favorite superhero is Spiderman, Iron Man, Wolverine, or some of the other Marvel superheroes in the show, you are sure to find some moments that will cause you to applaud, laugh or just  leave you in an overall good mood.  It helps that the show is not overly short or long in duration.  The above being said --  The best way to see if you will truly enjoy the show is to of course  go to one in person and find out for yourself.

If Marvel Universe: Live has not been in your area recently, it should arrive soon.  Just check the Marvel Universe: Live website for schedule and site locations.

Listen to Ms.H's interview with Gilyon Brace Wessel who plays Dr. Aldrich Killian on the show.

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Retro VGS Interview on 3/23

retrovgs interview

Monday March 23rd at 4pm PST/7pm EST Mom's Minute will welcome the people behind the highly anticipated Retro VGS game console for an indepth interview! Mike Kennedy and Daniel Kayser, the driving forces of Retro Magazine and the creators of the upcoming console, will be on the air live to give us the scoop on the newest game console that's set to bring back the classic gaming experience. The Retro VGS is tracking to be unlike any other console currently on the market. Being a cartridge based system inside a classic shape, it redefines 'retro' while still using modern hardware.

You have questions and we'll get some answers. Just head over to the AllGames Chatroom (allgames.com/live) during the interview and you can submit them to the hosts. And if you can't be here live during Mom's Minute, you can always leave your question in the comment section below. 

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