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Retro VGS Interview on 3/23

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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. 

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)

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.

 

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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.

The Next Mass Effect

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The next Mass Effect video game is shroud in mystery

Your guess is as good as mine as to when the next Mass Effect video game will finally materialize.  It looks like Bioware is in no hurry to whet the appetite of Mass Effect video game fans who are anticipating the next Mass Effect video game.  Is it possible that Bioware is still  treating its wounds as a result of the pounding it got from the Mass Effect fans over the ending or endings of the last game in this video game trilogy?  Not to rehash what now seems like ancient history -- but you may recall the [virtual] lashing that Bioware got from Mass Effect video game fans who were not shy about letting the company know in no uncertain terms  they were not satisfied with the so-called endings of the game.  The good news is that  Bioware was receptive, and tried to appease the fans by re-doing the video game's ending or endings.  Refunds were even given out by some retailers.  However, in my opinion,  video game players would probably have prefererd a better ending for Mass Effect instead of an apology or even the refunds.  

Fast forward to the present and it appears as if die-hard Mass Effect video game fans may be ready to give Bioware a second chance.  Bioware, on the other hand, seems to be slow to reciprocate.  It looks as if Bioware is taking its time to create, design, produce and ultimately deliver the next Mass Effect video game.  To date, little is known about the next Mass Effect video game except there will be a whole new set of video game characters which will exclude Commander Shepard. 

Bioware has announced they will be taking it slow on the Next Mass Effect to bring a good, quality video game to you, the video game player,  instead of rushing to develop another video game. The company has also been relatively quiet about the storyline, the characters, type of characters, i.e., aliens, astronauts, etc. The two facts known about the next Mass Effect video game is that it will not be called Mass Effect 4 and that Commander Shepard will not be featured anywhere at all in the game.  However, the location of the video game story as well as the action will be set in the same Mass Effect universe from the previous video games in the series.

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Commander Shepard will not not make an appearance in the Next Mass Effect video game.

Just how slow is Bioware taking to make the next Mass Effect game?   The answer is "very slow."  Progress is being made -- but it is being done at a relatively slow pace.  A few days ago, it was reported there were new graphics created for the next Mass Effect video game by developers within the span of about five hours.  Of course we were not privy to look at these creations which could be due to a number of reasons.  One of the main reasons I think Bioware  is hush-hush about the next Mass Effect video game is they are taking their time to search for or create a story that will resonate as favorable with video game players as the former Mass Effect video game did -- sans the poor endings.

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Until a name is revealed for the next Mass Effect, Bioware appears to not mind in the meantime, if the upcoming video game is called the next Mass Effect -- just do not call it Mass Effect 4.  According to Bioware Chief Yanick Roy --  calling the new game Mass Effect 4 would be a disservice, since the Mass Effect triology is complete, and a new story will emerge.  In other words, it would be misleading to name the next video game,  Mass Effect 4 when it will not be a sequel  for the previous video game. 

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Commander Shepard will go; Mass Effect universe will stay

The latest rumor regarding the next Mass Effect video game is  Bioware may do a reveal at the June, 2014 E3 Expo  while others say nothing will happen until around 2015.  With E3 just a few months away and if Bioware makes an announcement-- hopefully more will be revealed about the next Mass Effect video game, including when it will be released, as well as its name.

The next Mass Effect video game will be rated M for Mature and is expected to be playable on the previous and next generation video game consoles.   As a side note -- given the volatile atmosphere and competitive nature of the video game market, I would not be surprised if Bioware decides to speed up its production and complete the next Mass Effect video game -- sooner than later.

{youtube}https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gfdHWKkwqDM{/youtube}        

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition for PS4 - The Review

 

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Tomb Raider:  Definitive Edition

Tomb Raider:  Definitive Edition - Unboxing

After playing part of Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition video game for the first time, I have a three letter word to describe it --  "Wow!"  I preordered this game awhile back and have just now had the opportunity to play part of it.  When I received Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, starring Lara Croft on the release date in March, 2014 from Amazon.com, I did an unboxing of this game complete with pictures. I was that impressed by the artistry of the video game packaging which included a hard cover book with artwork from the game that is worthy of framing.  What was missing was a poster of Lara Croft in action as she braves the perils and tribulations of what it takes to survive.

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Tomb Raider Unboxed (game and book) with Pixelbot robot courtesy of DPL looking on 

Of course packaging is just that -- packaging.  What really counts about a video game, in my opinion, is the enjoyment that you experience from playing the game, whether your excitement for the game stems from the action, characters, story line, creativity of plot, or any number of other reasons.  If you ask me which of these choices Tomb Raider: Definitive Collection excelled in, I would have to say the character and the action.

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition - Expectations 

When I slipped the physical video game disc in my PS4, and the Tomb Raider cover art showed on the screen, I was unsure what to expect.  I saw the previous version of this  game played during the holidays by my family member, and at that time, I was impressed by the realistic graphics, as well as the requirement to use logical thinking skills to advance in the game.  At that time, I was a bystander, just looking at the video game playing action, listening to the realistic sound effects as Lara Croft splashed her way through the deep seas, roamed forests, etc., to accomplish her missions.  Just as there is a saying "Seeing is believing" -- regarding video game playing I think there should be a saying "Playing is believing."  It is only by actually holding a video game controller, controlling and experiencing the actions of the video game characters yourself that, in my opinion, you can truly decide if you will not only play the video game again, but will also recommend others to play it as well.

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition - Spoiler Alert

I am going to give you a spoiler alert here, just in case you have not played the game and want to experience the gameplay with the surprises and suspenseful moments in tact.  If you have not played Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, you may want to stop reading here, because the next sections I will be talking about my experiences with this video game, including how Lara Croft got through certain obstacles during the first part of the game, that you may prefer to figure out on your own. I played this game in the normal mode, vs. the easy or hard options. Also as a disclaimer, this review does not cover the complete video game -- only the first parts that I played.

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Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition - Actions/Adventures

I liked the action-packed movie introduction which included actions where Lara Croft seemingly spirals down a long drop before she reaches the bottom. She is visibly in pain, her clothing is soiled and she has blood all over her, including her face. Unfortunately, she also is hurt and has a sharp object jutting in her left side.  My first action in the gameplay was to use the controller to remove the shart object from hurting her -- which I succeeded in doing.  From then on  -- for the part of the game I played, Lara Croft moves throughout the video game environments, clutching her side with her right hand over the wound while in some cases holding a torch in her left hand.  But not to worry, as I played the game longer, eventually she felt well enough to remove her hand from her side, to regain use of both of her hands.  

As I continued to move her along the terrains, I had already decided that this was an exploratory type game, where you use the character to discover the surroundings. However, I stood to be corrected.  I found out soon enough that Lara Croft does a lot more than move around the environments.  Just when I was getting comfortable moving her through parts of the dark cave where she had landed, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, an enemy apppeared and tried to capture her.  I literally jumped when this happened, because this was totally unexpected. From then on, I knew this game would be adventurous and suspenseful.  After about three tries, I was able to get Lara Croft to fight off her enemy, and breathed a sigh of relief when within the small cave she was in, a door closed that blocked the enemy from entering.  

That one particular unexpected action got my adrenalin going.  I kept thinking what would happen next.  I had Lara Croft continue her adventures in the cave by having her to traverse treacherous waters where there was fire on one side of a waterfall and barrels of fuel on the other.  The problem was that in order to get out,  Lara Croft had to go through the waterfall while carrying her torch -- which of course did not work. The water would put out the fire each time, as expected.

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition - Strategies

Throughout the game, you are given pictures of which buttons on the controller to push as well as information on the mission or environment that Lara Croft has entered. Also, when you push the L1 button on your controller, the environment turns to black and white and items that can help you to escape, etc. are lit up brighter than the others. Once you release the L1 button, the game actions, including the colors return.

I studied the environment and saw a hanging apparatus, as well as a street car-like vehicle on another level of the cave area. Both were lit or shined  brighter when I pushed the L1 button so I knew these items were required for her to escape. Also the square button would appear on the screen to push as barrels and boxes floated in the water. When I did so, the barrels would start burning and continued to float in the water.  To give you a visual of where she was during this part of the video game -- Lara Croft was in thrashing waters, among lots of burning boxes and barrels, with debris, old bottles, shoes etc. floating around with loud sounds of waves of water crashing through several areas.

To make a long story short,  I was unable to get Lara Croft to push the street car off the ramp or get her on the hanging apparatus.  This is the first part of the game where I got stuck.  After a phone call for advice, I went back to the game and tried again, this time using different actions to get her out of this cave-like atmosphere that had water and firey barrels and boxes everywhere.  I was unable to pile barrels beneath the hanging apparatus as suggested, so I tried a different strategy which surprisingly to me -- worked.  Somehow I got her into the hanging apparatus. She was unable to swing back and forth -- so I had her to jump from this apparatus. Then I had her to try once again to push the street car which by this time was full  of burning barrels.  Lo and behold -- this time the street car actually moved out of the way.  Previously, it would move just a little and then return to its original position.  When the street car moved, a multitude of actions seemed to happen all at once which resulted in her being in a totally different mountainous environment.  I had Lara Croft jump over mountains where she hung dangerously off tall cliffs. She also had to fight off another enemy in this environment. As a disclaimer -- The apparatus/street car scene actions I did when I played this game, may or may not work for you.  It may depend on the level of game that you are playing, i.e., easy, normal, hard -- or even some other reasons.

Now for the next adrenalin moment I experienced when playing the first section of Tomb Raider:: Definitive Edition.   When Lara Croft reached the mountains, she had to actually climb the mountains, by frantically clawing her way up.  To keep her from falling, I had to keep pushing the L2 and R2 buttons quickly at the same time.  I also had to move the left stick on the controller either right or left to have her dodge large, gigantic boulders before I got her to the top of the mountain.tombraider4  I tried numerous times to keep her from falling by pushing these buttons, even at one time turning the PS4 controller around so the L2 and R2 buttons were facing me.  However, I got her on the mountain-top and kept her away from the boulders by using the controller positioned in the normal way.  My fingers got a true workout here, and with the controller rumbling, the sound effects of her climbing up the mountains, and her gasping -- when she finally reached the top of the mountain, breathing heavily, I was doing just about the same thing.  I felt as if we had both shared a victory at that point, and felt quite exhilarated that she had made it up the mountain safely.  

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition - Likes and Dislikes

Here's  what I liked and did not like about the part of the game I played.  I liked the realistic video game graphics, where the grass moved with the wind. I liked that the game started over close to the part where you may have tried to complete a mission, instead of starting all over again.   I liked the sound effects including the sounds of the rushing waters that in some ways can be a nice sound to listen to, but can also be frightening as well -- especially if the character is on a high mountain, looking down in deep, thrashing waters.   The voice acting, was ok; however, in some of the scenes, the voice actor was difficult to understand, and when the character fell from a tall mountain, I personally think that she could have screamed more realistically.  Also the illustration of the character can be improved in some of the scenes, because in some, her face seems to be swollen at her jaws -- not in all scenes -- but in some.  I liked the realistic movement of the character's eyes, as well as the expression she had which signaled that she was at a loss as to what to do in certain situations -- however, she was able to figure things out. I also liked the voice commands where you actually speak your options, such as showing the maps, pausing etc. 

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition - Highly Recommended

If you have not played this game, and enjoy playing adventure, action games, I highly recommend you play Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition on your PS4.  If you do not have a PS4, you may be interested to know that Tomb Raider is currently free to play on the PS3 for PS plus members.  I also have a PS3 -- but I was happy to play this game on my PS4 where I was able to use the new features of the PS4 and experience the improved graphics and sound qualities.

I'm looking forward to playing more of this game as well as seeing and experiencing via video game play the other adventures/missions Lara Croft will encounter in Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition.

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition is rated M for Mature and is playable on the PS4, PS3, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Windows PC and Mac.

{youtube}https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vKuYhe1PWr8{/youtube}



 

 

 

 

 

Anime Mid Atlantic 13 Report

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I have to hand it to Anime Mid-Atlantic.  They really know how to throw a party!

Whether you attended the Anime Mid-Atlantic for the cosplay, costumes, dances, video games, guests, contests, workshops , videos, card games or for the other fun activities – you could most likely enjoy doing it at Anime Mid-Atlantic.

 

Background of Anime Mid-Atlantic

Now in its thirteenth year, the Anime Mid-Atlantic is an annual event where fans of anime and video games come together sometimes to just hang out with new and old friends and have fun.  You can dress up as your favorite anime  or video game character in any form or fashion you like, of course, in adherence to the rules of the event.

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 Anime Mid-Atlantic was held on a beautiful weekend, June 14-16, 2013  at 725 Woodlake Dr., in Chesapeake, Virginia at the Marriott Hotel and the Chesapeake Convention Center.  Yes, the fun is spread between two buildings including the walking areas between the two.

 The Marriott Hotel and the Chesapeake Convention Center are conveniently located adjacent to  other hotels – so if  you were from out of town, you could stay either at the Marriott Hotel or at the other nearby hotels that were in walking distance.

Arrival at Anime Mid-Atlantic

I arrived at the Anime Mid-Atlantic  event towards the end of Friday night, and activities were still in full swing.   As I walked to the registration area in the hotel, I was met by one of the event’s security.  Still remembering and stinging from the coldness I felt when I attended the Civil War V video game tournament that  I covered a few months earlier, I had my guard up and immediately asked him why did he come up to me.  He responded that he wanted to know if I had any questions, and decided to approach me.  He seemed sincere, so I pushed my reservations about the atmosphere of  the event aside and asked him where I could pick up my press badge .

On my way to pick up my badge,  I met a young man who was dressed up in a costume  that included a feminine looking tank top and shorts.  He smiled and literally apologized to me for the costume that he was wearing, stating that he usually does not dress that way.   I laughed and told him he was “looking good.”

From that moment on, I knew I would enjoy  covering this event for Allgames.com.  Not only because of all the interesting events scheduled, but also and more importantly, everyone appeared to be very friendly and out to just have a good time.

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Video Game Room at Anime Mid-Atlantic

My plan was to focus mostly on video games the first day of the event. So after receiving my participant badge, I  walked the short distance from the Marriott Hotel to the Chesapeake Convention Center  where the video game room was located.

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On the way to the convention center, I enjoyed watching a dance contest where the participants were dressed  up in costumes. I also enjoyed the performance of a  hoola hoop dancer, who was dancing with a neon lighted hoop for a small group of admirers who had gathered around him.  It was dark outside, so the bright colors of the hoola hoop shone brightly against the night.  At one point during his performance, he jokingly said that he was getting tired, but he received a burst of energy and continued to perform when the cameras started flashing – including my own.

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When I reached the convention center, I showed my badge to the two ladies seated at the entrance, and I was happy I had  registered as a participant, because I was able to show my badge and get in.  At that time, I had not picked up my press badge.  I also like the fact that there was control as to who went where.  I, along with other attendees had to show our badges to gain admittance to several events, which in my opinion was an effective security measure.

When I reached the video game room, the moderator was writing on a white board, changing the closing time for the video game room from 2:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.  Whew! I was glad that I made it there before they closed.

Once in the room, there were about 14 monitors on tables lining the walls with a Just Dance video game going on in full swing.  Just about every type video game system was there, including the WII U.

A couple was dancing to the game, while two fully uniformed male and female police officers watched.  Yes – in addition to having staff security personnel, the event also had uniformed policemen there as well.  It’s possible that the policemen were there for the convention center security, instead of just for the event.   The police officers were smiling as they watched the Just Dance video game couple perform – so it looks like in addition to their security duties, they were having fun as well..

In the far corner of the small video game room was a guitar hero type set up with a standing microphone  and  large monitor. After one group finished playing the game, a young lady who had just sung,  asked if I wanted to play.  I complimented her on her singing and declined the offer.  If her personna was any indication of the type people attending this event, not only were they overtly friendly, but they were polite and cordial as well.

 In addition to the newer games, there were also retro video games to be played.  The retro game was centipede/space invaders, which I got the chance to play .   I witnessed a high score obtained by a video game player. Interesting enough, within the next few minutes, I also witnessed the high score of the retro video game being broken by a much younger video game player.

Unfortunately, the video game room closed at about 1:00 a.m., and we all had to leave.  But not to worry.  There was still a crowd of people out in the convention areas as well as back at the Marriott Hotel.

 

Saturday at Anime Mid-Atlantic

Technically I was at the Anime Mid-Atlantic on Saturday, since it was about 1:30 a.m. when I left. I was prepared to make a late night appearance at the event  Saturday night, but looking at the schedule, most of the events I wanted to cover had already happened.

 

The neat feature about the Anime Mid-Atlantic is that there was a schedule of events to cover just about every hour or so  of the three days.  You could either wander around and catch some of the happenings in an impromptu manner, or you could follow the  schedule and pick and choose which events you wanted to attend. 

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Interview with Doug Smith, Graphic Artist/Voice Actor

My first order of business on Sunday was to pick up my press badge, which I’m happy to report was ready and waiting for me at the registration desk.  When the volunteer staff handed my press badge he suffixed  it with “Have fun! – which I’m glad to say  -- I did.

Located next to the registration room where I picked up my press badge was another conference room where a group of people seemed enthralled at listening to the presenter.  I decided to attend this workshop that was headed by Doug Smith, a graphic artist as well as a guest at the event.

He gave training on graphic art drawing using the software, photoshop.  In addition to demonstrating graphic design techniques, he also took interesting questions from the audience.  Some of the questions asked and answered included how to show perspectives when drawing figures and objects, as well as how to show texture of items such as brushed metal, etc. 

At the end of the workshop, I got the opportunity to interview Doug Smith, and in so doing, I found out that he was not only a graphic artist, but was also a voice actor.  He told me the story of how he got into voice acting by accident when a company was looking for someone to play a part in voice acting, and he just happened to be seemingly there,  at the right place and at the right time.

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Other Anime Events

After leaving the workshop,  I got the chance to see part of an anime movie in the video room, which was located next to the rooms where board games were being played.

I perused some of the tables that were located outside the conference rooms in the hallways.  Some people were promoting other upcoming Anime events. In fact, I discovered there are several other  Anime events that are happening in the near future.

 

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Anime Pictures

 

As I continued to walk down the hallways that were bustling with people, most of whom were dressed up in costumes, I met a young lady who was dressed in a cute victorian type outfit and she had black and red ringlets for hair.  I asked her if I could touch her hair, as well as take her picture – of which she replied yes to both.

Yaaaa!! I had taken my first of many pictures of creatively dressed anime costumed participants at the Anime Mid-Atlantic.

I decided to leave the Marriott and take a short walk over to the Chesapeake Convention Center to see what was happening over there.

 

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When I reached the convention center, a group of people dressed up as their favorite anime characters were just outside  the center playing a game similar to vogue – where you struck a pose  when the music stopped and was eventually eliminated from the game.  Everyone seemed to be having fun.  This is where I took my second picture of an Anime costumed attendee who was dressed in a black suit and tie – which appeared ordinary enough; however there was one big difference.  His face and head were completely covered in white cloth.  Someone who was also taking a picture of him told me his name was “Slender” when I asked who he was portraying. 

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Anime Mid-Atlantic Territory

Two nights before, I did not realize the full extent of the Anime event that was going on in the convention center.  At the time, I had only visited the video game room.

On Sunday, I found out there was a whole lot more at the convention center than the video game room.  Apparently the Anime Mid-Atlantic covered a lot more territory than I thought.

The hallways were  crowded with people, as well as vendors and it looked as if each conference room was also filled with people.

There was a large conference room set aside for autograph signing.  I decided to stand in line to get my Anime Mid-Atlantic book  signed.  As I waited in line, I had an interesting conversation with a woman behind the desk leading up to the autograph signing about a topic I would not have correlated with anime.  She told me about a website where there is an Anime cookbook.  With the increase of cooking reality television shows, I should not have been surprised that cooking had made its way to anime!

I asked the guest who was signing my event book if he did any voice acting for video games.  He said he would if he was asked; however, right now he did voice acting mostly for anime characters.  I liked the fact that when he autographed my event book, he addressed it to me, Ms. H! –  with an exclamation point after my name – very fitting to show just how much fun I was having at the event.

 

anime midatlantic beachball

In fact, I was not the only one having fun there.  In the autograph conference room, there was a large group of people sitting in the audience who were in amidst of friendly conversations, when I noticed a beach ball being hit back and forth over the crowd.  Of course, I could not let this get by me without taking a picture.

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anime midatlantic cosplayer3A Real Live Anime Character at the Anime Mid-Atlantic 

I next walked to the large vendor selling area.  If you were in a buying mood, you could purchase items from any of the vendors set up in the hallways and some of the rooms.

In fact, the hallways were filled with tables where people were selling any and everything related to Anime. 

Additionally, there was a large room set aside strictly for vendors which appeared to be  filled to capacity.  As I walked around the vendor area, I came across a booth where there was a young lady where I had to do a double take because she looked so much like a real life anime character.  She was Japanese and had very long blue hair styled with bangs and two very long ponytails.  I was getting ready to ask her if I could take her picture when her attention was drawn to someone else who was talking to her. 

I found out later that she was Yunmao Ayakawa, one of the guests when she appeared at the closing ceremony of the event with an interpreter. I got the chance  to take a picture of her at that time.

 

anime midatlantic ac cosplayer

Art Auction at the Anime Mid-Atlantic

I checked the schedule and decided to make my way back to the Marriott Hotel to cover the art auction.  While waiting for the art auction to start, I found a comfortable  and convenient sitting area at a table located right next to the front window that faced the front of the hotel.  It was here where I took lots of pictures of attendees dressed up in costumes.

In fact, I noticed a young man dressed up in an Assassin’s Creed outfit, which I took a picture of from a distance then, and closer pictures later when he made an appearance at the closing ceremonies.

By this time, it was about 2:30 p.m. on Sunday – almost time for the art auction!  I went to the information desk and asked her where was Restaurant A which is where the art auction was held.  She checked the schedule and told me the art auction ended at 12:30 p.m.  Unfortunately, the schedule I had was not the very latest, or had been changed.  Even though the art auction was over, I still had time to take more pictures of all the interesting anime costumed attendees – so all was not lost.

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anime midatlantic closingceremonies

 

Anime Mid-Atlantic Closing Ceremonies

The closing ceremonies were scheduled to be held at 3:30 p.m. at the Chesapeake Convention Center on Sunday, June 16, 2013.  To make sure there were no schedule changes, I verified the place and time – which had not changed.

I made the short trek from the Marriott Hotel back to the convention center.  The weather was absolutely beautiful outside, with sunny, blue skies – so the walk was an enjoyable one for me, in and of itself. Plus I met interesting costumed characters along the way.

After reaching the convention center and before going to the closing ceremony, I quickly checked the video game room to see if any changes had been made in the set up, etc..  The video game room was a little crowded than before; however, the set up was the same.

After leaving the video game room, I went to the closing ceremonies. 

Everyone entering had to show their badge – which I again thought was a good security measure. 

The closing ceremony consisted of the MC, Daniel Taraschke , thanking every body – jokingly, for not tearing the “place” down.  He then thanked everyone for coming and hoped that everyone had fun.  Next the guests were introduced and took the stage to additionally offer their thanks as well.  Most of the guests were there with the exception of a few who had to leave early.  The guest who I had interviewed earlier, Doug Smith, was introduced by the MC as their very own Tarzan -- took the stage and thanked every one.  Some guests actually ran up to and jumped up on the stage as a way to show their enthusiasm for the event.  

After presenting fan favorites awards, the MC ended the show requesting a group picture of the audience, with everyone posed with one arm outstretched with a finger pointing.  I moved over to the center audience section to be sure I would be pictured and joined in the fun.

 In the midst of taking the group picture, someone asked if there was a beach ball around.  Sadly, there was no beach ball to be thrown; however, the audience made up for it afterwards, by some posing for pictures and others doing impromptu dances.

After waiting in line, I was able to interview Daniel  Taraschke and obtained his assessment of the overall event.  In his words, he dubbed the event, “a success.”

(Listen to Ms. H's interview with Daniel Taraschke below)

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Pros of the Anime Mid-Atlantic 

  • Very well organized
    • Professionally made brochure and badges.  Brochure included rules of the event which were clearly and concisely provided.
    •  Friendly, safe location including staff security and police officers
    • Convenient location with other hotels in walking even
    • Eating available in the establishment
    • Impressive caliber of guests
    • Suitable time frame for the event – 3 days.

 

Cons of the Anime Mid-Atlantic

  • . In my opinion, I did not like the use of the term “black man” that was thrown around  in jest during some of the exit presentations.  For example, at one point when a person went on stage, he said, “I have the imprint of a big black man’s hand on my behind.”     At another  time, someone in the audience  yelled out in response to something the MC said, “I’m glad I’m not the only “black man” here.  Even though these were said in fun – I think the event was brought down a notch – since, again, in my opinion, we were all there to have fun – regardless of our race.
  •  I think it was mildly disruptive when two young ladies during the closing ceremonies in the audience yelled out one on one conversations with some of the people on the stage.  They would yell out their comments and the guests would respond, which was again done in fun – but I think this sort of alienated the rest of the audience. Happily, their comments were few and did not dominate the presentations.
  •  Video game area need to be larger to accommodate more people.

Recommendations for the Anime Mid-Atlantic

 

  • Even though it may be difficult due to the size of this event, I recommend the event organizers try to keep last minute changes to the very minimum.  For example, closing up the video game room l hour earlier than posted in the schedule as well as  changing the time for the art auction were, in my opinion last minute changes.  If I had arranged my video game room visit according to the schedule I had, I would have arrived at the event at 1:30 a.m. and found a locked door instead of video games.
  • Have a large sign posted somewhere in either the hotel and/or the convention center announcing the event – including a marquee – if available.  I did not see any Anime Mid-Atlantic signs posted, unless I missed them.  In fact a couple drove up to the front of the hotel and asked the costumed characters what was going on out of curiosity.  If a sign was posted, it would have been obvious that the fun-filled Anime Mid-Atlantic event was in full fling!

Closing Remarks  -- Anime Mid-Atlantic

All in all, the Anime Mid-Atlantic looked to be not only a success but a great one at that.  It was an event that you can go to and conversate with and be around others who share your interests in anime, and video games and all that goes with these fun venues.  You can dress up as your favorite character and in a way, bring to life  anime characters who you have probably admired virtually, and can now  give them the breath of real life, so to speak, at an event such as the Anime Mid-Atlantic.  If you have a competitive spirit, you can participate in the many contests to see how you measure up – or you can enter just to have fun. If you want to learn more about the different facets Anime, there were many workshops available as well. 

The saying that would wrap up my personal assessment of the Anime Mid-Atlantic event would be –“ And fun was had by all!”  Well done.

 

Penguins vs Possums Interview - 7/21 on Mom's Minute

On Monday July 21st, Ms. H will welcome one of the creators of Fanboy Comic's hit title Penguins vs Possums to Mom's Minute. Sebastian Kadlecik will give Ms. H the ins and outs of the secret war that has has been raging since the dawn of time between two unlikely foes. Penquins vs Possums is a graphic novel written by Sebastian Kadlecik, John Bring, and Lindsay Calhoon Bring and features the art of Sebastian Kadlecik and John Bring. The trade paperback collects issues 1-4 of the epic story and is available now from www.Fanboycomics.net

Listen to Mom’s Minute to find out the hurdles in developing and publishing an independant comic, how digital media has effected a medium once ruled by pen and paper, and most importantly, which side Ms. H chooses, Penguins or Possums.

Join the show live at 4pm PST/7pm EST at www.allgames.com/live  to submit questions you’d like Ms. H to ask, or if you’re too busy reading comics on Monday, post your questions right now in the comments section below.

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.

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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