Do you carry around a tube of blood known as your health pool? Does it slowly seep away no matter what kind of injury you have received? Or are metaphorical representations a good way to get a game to work but not really expected to be anything like the real world?

Lets back up. Patrick Lindsey wrote an article about gaming and mental illness, taking issue with two common portrayals of madness: the bat-shit crazy psychopath who does his bad deeds because he’s off his rocker (fair enough), and oddly, the sanity meter in many horror games.

First off, the introduction was very sensitively written, props. Second, I admit that “well he’s a bad guy because he’s nuts” is a little old (British understatement). It also misses the fact that even madness has motivation. We crazy people have reasons for doing the things we do, they just might not be clear.


But I take issue with Lindsey’s first argument. That the mechanics of having a sanity meter even belongs in the discussion of the portrayal of mental illness.  What do I mean? I’m Bipolar I. I’ve had delusions. I’ve had hallucinations. I’ve experienced some really frightening crap. And I really like the idea of a sanity meter.

Why? Because it owes literary allegiance to the Lovecraft idea that seeing too much slowly drains away your ability to cope with the world. And guess what? Sometimes that’s what madness is like. Sometimes the more you see, the harder it is to get by and get over it. Because anyone who says being mentally ill isn’t sometimes scary is lying. The sanity meter also just a device, like a mana pool. A way to quantify terror and the peculiar things it does to anyone’s brain.

I also like the way games toy with you when you run low or worse run out, which Lindsey also objects to. Because, frankly, that isn’t all that different from being either untreated, or what you experience when the meds don’t work. (Yep, that happens). When you are in the grips of an episode, the world just doesn’t work the way it should.

(Read the full article for more)



San Diego Comic-con International, known to its friends as SDCC, or simply Comic-con, has been the biggest event in the Nerd World for more than forty years now. With the explosion of Geek Culture in the last ten years, the event has grown to mammoth size, drawing hundreds of thousands of people, and taking over the entirety of San Diego’s Gaslamp district. For those heading to the convention for the first time, and even for those going for the fiftieth time, SDCC can be hugely overwhelming. With so much to see and do, how do you decide how to spend your time? We at the Ace of Geeks have taken the time to do some of that legwork for you, and put together a list of the best stuff to see and do at Comic-con this year.

AT THE CONVENTION
The main event of SDCC is the convention itself. That’s where you’ll find most of the biggest happenings. If you managed to get a ticket, you’ll want to spend most of your days checking out the panels and the wonders on display in the exhibition hall. Here’s some highlights:
Hall H
If you’ve been to Comic-con before, you already know about Hall H. For you first timers, here’s the deal: Hall H is the biggest panel room at the convention center. It’s where all of the movie studios pull out their largest stunts and show their best footage. Last year, as pictured above, Tom Hiddleston showed up in costume and character as Loki, working the crowd into a frenzy for Thor: The Dark World. 
The problem with Hall H is that everyone wants to get in. To make the trek to the legendary hall is to begin waiting in line at 6pm the day before, at the latest. You’ll make lots of good friends in line, but you will be there for hours. Bring a chair, pillows, and things to do. The highlights of Hall H this year include The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones back to back from 12:20 to 3:00 on Friday, Marvel Studios at 5:30 on Saturday, and Supernatural, Sons of Anarchy and The Strain on Sunday. DC will also be showing the pilots of The Flash, Arrow, Gotham and Constantine on Saturday night at 8. If any of these are something you’re interested in, prepare to camp out and try to spend the whole day in the Hall. It’s the only way to be sure.
Ballroom 20
Ballroom 20 is Hall H’s little brother. Take everything I said in the above paragraphs, and minus it by a few hours in line and a few less seats in the room. But don’t miss The Legend of Korra on Friday at 11:15, and the biggest costume party of them all, the Comic-con Masquerade on Saturday at 8:30.
The rest of the panels  are too numerous to count, but dive into the Comic-con scheduler here for more highlights.
EXCLUSIVES
Every year, hundreds of companies show up to Comic-con with exclusive products you won’t be able to get anyone else. Pictured above is Hasbro’s Knights of Unicron. It’s four of the Transformers done up in 80s hair metal style, and it’s amazing. Exclusives, like Hall H, have to be a focus of your stay if you’re headed out to pick them up. Expect to wait in lines that start at 3am and having to run across the floor to the right booth. Get a map. Plan it out. And for god’s sake, don’t ask a friend to “just pick up an exclusive real quick.”
Here’s some highlights from this year:

Bandai is producing a Legacy Dragon Dagger from Power Rangers in gold plate. Hasbro,  in addition to the Knights, is putting out a Deadpool Mr. Potato Head. Mattel is offering this kick-ass figure of Doomsday in his outfit from his original appearance.

Keep in mind that the booths with the coolest stuff (Hasbro, Mattel) will have the longest lines. Hasbro usually has a line outside the convention center to get a ticket to get in line inside the convention center.
ARTIST’S ALLEY/THE COMIC BOOK SECTION
Look, it’s called San Diego Comic-con, right? So you’d be surprised to find out that the least crowded part of the convention is always the artist’s alley and the comic book area. Push way to both sides of the hall by the giant studio displays, these areas are always quieter, which is great for some rest, but also hold tons of untapped treasures. The art on display is beautiful, and I always come home with more prints than I can actually fit on my walls. And while you may not be able to afford that Action Comics #1, last year I came away with the first issues of Young Justice and Wolverine, both of which are now framed on my wall. Don’t just stick to the eye-catching center of the con, head to the fringes and you’ll love what you find.
(Read the full article for more)

image Fan art by Sam “Hidalgo” Logan


 A little over one week ago, the big comic book companies started leaking to the press upcoming changes for their fall comic line up. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know that Marvel has revealed that Thor’s mantle will soon be worn by a female, and that Captain America will soon transfer his costume to his good friend Falcon. These past weeks DC has also been stirring up dust, arguably trying to meld the new 52 line up with the old.

DC has gotten grittier and darker over the years, and not all fans are happy with that. However, reverting characters to their starting positions is clearly not an option. How to make things lighter? DC’s answer clearly is selfies, stereotypes, and cliches.

Although there have been major changes made to many books, the most striking and infuriating changes (in my humble opinion) have been made to my favorite character, Batgirl. I’m not going to mince things here, our little Barbara Gordon has been through a lot. To quote artist and member of the new creative team, Cameron Stewart, “Batgirl has really been put through the wringer in recent years – after being attacked and paralyzed by the Joker, her brother turning out to be a serial murderer, the trauma of her family breaking apart and the series of gruesome villains she’s had to contend with, we figured she deserved a break from all that.”

Basically, Bab’s life is pretty dark. Even in between saving people from mentally ill supervillans, pretty standard stuff for the modern comic. In reality she would be clinically depressed and maybe even medicated, but in the comic world, she trudges on, triumphantly, without need of a mental health professional.

Having been through so much, it is hard for me to understand the logic as to why this Barbara Gordon, who has had so many experiences beyond her twenty-some years, would just suddenly decide she’d “had enough… after her apartment burns down” and move to the Gotham equivalent of Williamsburg, Brooklyn to live with a bunch of hipsters.

Say it ain’t so? Here’s the rest of what Cameron Stewart had to say, “Just prior to the start of our story she’s pushed to the breaking point and decides that she’s had it with misery and darkness and wants a change. She wants the opportunity to have some fun and live the life of a young, single girl in the city, so she packs up and moves to Burnside, the cool, trendy borough of Gotham, to focus on grad school.”

So… yeah. This is definitely happening. I’ve heard rumors Babs is even majoring in Woman’s Studies… and I am not happy. In fact I am quite angry Not just at this take on Batgirl. Alone, this direction could work, but combined with candid statements from the creative team and the “practical” new outfit I am in full on nerd rage mode.

(Read the full article for more)

Should Video Game streamers pay royalties to game creators?

On June 18th, 2014, Phil made multiple posts on his Twitter account about Lets Plays of Fez. These posts indicated that YouTube users or video game broadcasters who made money off of Fez (he never directly stated broadcasters, but I’m assuming he meant them too) owe him cash and that a system in which ad revenue, which is normally split between YouTube and the user who displays the ad, should be shared with the developers and that “anything else is basically piracy.”

Married couple Veronica Belmont and Ryan Block called Comcast customer support and wanted to cancel their service.  Sounds simple enough, right?  Well, the customer support representative makes the experience absolutely horrendous.  And this recording isn’t even the whole phone call!  Belmont handed over the phone to Block after about 10 minutes of back-and-forth because she didn’t want to deal with the rep anymore.  Who could blame her? 


This weekend, fighting game fans the world over were treated to three solid days of incredible action, as Evo 2014 took over Las Vegas. The best fighters from around the world converged on the Westgate Las Vegas resort to compete for glory and huge cash prizes. Like other years before it, the entire event was streamed live on Twitch, allowing fans the world over to watch their favorites like Daigo, Mang0 and Garireo compete.

There’s long been a stigma attached to fighting games that it takes as much time to learn to watch the games as it does to learn to play them. To someone who’s never played one of these games, the nuances can be completely lost. This weekend, I found that to be not entirely true. For some games, being a spectator is awesome. For others, it’s damned near impossible. Here are the best and worst games to watch at Evo.

THE BEST GAMES
 

BLAZBLUE: CHRONO PHANTASMA

BlazBlue is considered an “anime game”, both for its beautiful, hand-drawn art style and its fighters’ ability to dash in the air. It helps that this year, Blazblue had one of the most intense and exciting grand championships, but the game itself is really fun to watch. The characters are wild, but their attacks are all understandable, and the insane combos the pro players pull out are all beautiful to watch. The commentary was spot on this year, too, explaining what was happening just enough to allow us to figure out the game. Definitely one to tune in for next year.

ULTRA STREET FIGHTER IV

Street Fighter is the daddy of all fighting games, and so it stands to reason it’d be one of the best games to watch. However, Street Fighter IV is a lot slower paced than the other two games on this “best” list. To many, that would make it more boring to watch, but in fact, it makes it more exciting. The players are constantly shifting position, waiting for their opponents to make a mistake - and when they do, the punishes are insane. It’s well worth taking the time to sit down and enjoy the greats pummeling each other in this one.

SUPER SMASH BROS: MELEE

Melee is one of the most interesting cases at Evo. The game is thirteen years old, and was supposed to be obsolete with the release of Smash Bros. Brawl for the Wii. Instead, Melee fans have kept this game alive, believing it (most would say rightly) to be the superior version of the game. You can see why, watching it. The game is insanely fast paced and interesting, and matches move between the insane combos of Blazblue and the slow chess matches of Ultra Street Fighter IV depending on the matchup. It’s only downfall is that, as a “new” game to widespread streaming (while the game is thirteen years old, it had its largest resurgence in the last few years) its commentators aren’t as interesting or informative as, say, Blazblue. 

(Read the full article for more)

Picture It’s a Television Spectacular on the Ace of Geeks Podcast! We discuss Orange is the New Black, Penny Dreadful, American Horror Story, Leverage, and whether all these shows on non-cable networks really need to have sex scenes in every episode. Plus! The Luigi Death Glare!


My Anime Expo 2014 Journal
By John Garcia


July 2, Wedesday: Day 0 of AX 2014

I teach a summer class from 7 am to 10 am, and amazingly the timing works out so that it’s the finals for this summer session.   I wrote the exam to be a half MLA format/ half House on Mango Street multiple-guess exam on a scantron, so I can give the test, and run the scantrons on the machine, finish grading by noon, and I’m done.  Most students finish the exam within an hour, but as one of the last students finishes his exam, a student comes in, deer in headlights, realizes what’s happening and asks the obvious “Today’s the final?” 

All this unpreparedness moved my schedule up from hopefully finishing at around 8:15 am, to finishing at 10 am, and I still had to fill out a separate scantron for that irresponsible student, to finish grading.  I finally finished grading at noon. 

This gave me just enough time to go home, get lunch, take a shower,  drive to the Metro Light Rail Blue Line and get to the LA Convention Center by 3, wherein Industry Registration starts. 

I got home, and friends’ tweets and Facebook statuses were all complaining about how long the line was.  I figured it did not apply to me since I was going through the Industry/Press/Media line.  I got a message from my friend in the Industry line.  The line, as I suspected, is relatively short, but…their servers crashed. So that’s why the line was so long. 

At this point, I figured, I would just leave registration for Day 1.  Instead, I did some final touches for my costumes, and did a couple of trial pictures of my new props with retrorefletive vinyl.

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