Confession: I Can’t Stand Mobile Games

If you’ve been around this site for long–or follow me on Twitter–you know that I write for Geek & Sundry, which means I spend a lot of time talking about one of the staples of that site, gaming. I loooove gaming, both tabletop and video games, and I love writing about it, too. It’s the best! So it’s been a bit hard for me to fully accept this reality about myself. I’ll talk about gaming all day long, but whenever the conversation gets to mobile gaming…

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You guys, I cannot stand most mobile games. If you were to grab my phone from me right now (please don’t do that), you’d find that I have loads of apps on my phone. Twitter, Insta, Facebook, credit card apps, IMDB, Duolingo…but I hardly have any games on my phone. Here are the games I have downloaded:

That’s all I’ve got, game-wise–and my “games” aren’t actually all games!!! Before you get judgey, let me say that my lack of mobile app gaming doesn’t come from a lack of trying. I’ve played Minecraft on my phone, I’ve tried Clash of Clans, I played the Walking Dead game with Daryl in it, I’ve tried puzzlers, I’ve tried it all. I just can’t get into it. At all.

Take Fallout Shelter, for instance. That’s the latest game that I’ve added to my phone (and, if I’m honest, I might take it off my phone soon). What makes Fallout 4 awesome is what an expansive, intricate world it is. Sure, I’m well aware that when I play Fallout I’m going to lose hours–maybe even the better part of a day–exploring the Wasteland. It’s inevitable.

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I love it, and I’m fully in control (mostly anyway) of how long I spend in-game. But so many mobile games that are popular are such a constant time commitment. Clash of Clans felt like a stupid, part-time job that I’d have to pay to get good at, and Fallout Shelter is slowly driving me insane as I try to figure out how the hell I’m supposed to build a viable vault when I don’t have enough power and my dwellers keep boinking and getting pregnant in the living quarters. Then, to top it all off, sometimes Radroaches or Raiders attack and I have to drop whatever I’m doing to try to protect my dweller babies. I got a notification at midnight last night that I forgot about one of my dwellers as he was exploring the Wasteland, and I felt like I had to start up the app to get him back to the vault. It’s turning me into that horrible millennial cliche of being that chick who’s just glued to her phone 24/7.

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That’s the reason games like COD: Zombies, Plaugue, Inc, and Cow have stuck around on my phone. They’re games that stop when I close the app. They don’t ping me in the middle of the night, they don’t require care, feeding, and protection in the wee hours of the morning, and I don’t have to worry about forgetting them in a cruel, post-apocalyptic wilderness. It also doesn’t force me to solve some brain-bending puzzler when all I’m trying to do is calm myself down in the waiting room of a doctor or forget how hungry I am when I’m waiting for a table to open up at a restaurant. I like mobile games that are easy–FPS zombie game, a game where you find an invisible cow, or a game where you can infect the world with a killer virus, bacteria, or fungus as you have time. If I want to play an actual game that requires my full attention, I’m going to play it where I’m comfy on my couch, at home, looking at a big screen, where I can pour as long as I want into the game without zapping my iPhone 5c’s feeble little battery or worrying about getting interrupted when I’m smack in the middle of trying to save my vault from Raiders when I still don’t have any weapons or a firm grasp on how the game works…hypothetically, of course.

Maybe it’s because I’m getting old, but I prefer my gaming on a table or console–heck, even a tablet is better than a phone. I like using my phone for stuff that I can use when I want and leave it when I’m over it without having worry about the well being of some animated humans in a fictitious vault. Ultimately, I think that’s why most mobile games aren’t for me. It’s too small of a playing area, I hate wasting my battery on a game, and ultimately it requires that I be far more invested in the game than I’m capable of being. Just let me find a damn invisible cow. That’s more my mobile gaming speed.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go because another group of raiders attacked my vault as I was writing this. I’m not even kidding.

What do you think of mobile gaming? Do you think it’s fun or too much? If you like it, what are some of your favorite games? Tell me about them in the comments! 

Geeky Travel: You Stay Weird, Austin

When I started college, I kicked off my journey towards higher education at a university in the tiny town of Abilene, Texas. It’s not the biggest town in the world, and is crammed full of college kids attending one of the three universities in the city, or military families living at Dyess Air Force Base. Like most small-ish towns in west Texas, there wasn’t a lot to do there. To play off of that sleepy reputation, a local coffee shop called Monks started selling shirts that were emblazened with the phrase “Keep Abilene Boring.” It was funny and cute, and mainly a response to the shirts you’d see many Austin-ites wearing around town that said “Keep Austin Weird”.

I had a “Keep Abilene Boring” shirt at one time–and now that I think of it, I have literally no clue what happened to it–but I was always so mystified with the Austin version. What made Austin so wonderfully weird that locals and tourists literally wore articles of clothing praising its weirdness? Well, last weekend I got to witness Austin’s wonderful weirdness first hand–at least, I got to see a portion of it.

Several of my in-laws live in Austin, so this trip was long overdue. Last weekend, we finally made the journey to the weirdest city in Texas to watch my husband’s cousin marry the girl of his dreams. The wedding was lovely, of course, and they had fun little infusions of geek and pop culture, which I loved. They used songs from both The Princess Bride and Star Wars in the ceremony, and they had this fantastic cake-topper:

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But in addition to the wedding festivities, we also packed a few extra days into our trip to make sure we could really experience what the city had to offer. I had a few plans, but left most of the trip unplanned so we could sort of go wherever the Austin winds took us. I didn’t want to try to fit every single Austin sight into this one trip, and I figured if we planned out every moment we wouldn’t get to actually enjoy the trip, instead we’d be too focused on seeing ALL THE THINGS. So while we didn’t see everything Austin had to offer–and we also spent a day in San Antonio visiting family, seeing my old house and school, remembering the Alamo, and eating Mexican food on the River Walk–we did get to see some pretty great stuff. Here were some of the highlights:

EMERALD TAVERN GAMES & CAFE

Unbeknownst to us, Emerald Tavern was within a few minutes from our hotel. Because of this, we spent quite a bit of time here. The atmosphere was great (loved the section dedicated to Tabletop), the staff was friendly, and they tons of demo games you could play as you sipped your coffee. It made Emerald Tavern SUCH a rad place to lose a few hours. We also played a new card game called Gloom.

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This game is ridiculous, and a ton of fun. The object is simple: make your family suffer terrible (and ridiculous) fates, until they finally experience the sweet relief of death. I know. It doesn’t sound like a fun and hilarious game, but it totally was. Pick yourself up a copy–you won’t regret it.

GAME OVER VIDEOGAMES

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This place was great–and like Emerald, it wasn’t too far from our hotel. Game Over had TONS of games to browse–even Atari games–and a few demos you could play. It was tough to not buy any game that sounded interesting for our N64 and our Nintendo NES–I mean, where else can you find a store filled with games for those consoles–but we managed to resist. I did, however, walk out with a copy of Fable II for my 360. I just couldn’t help myself.

DRAGON’S LAIR COMICS & FANTASY

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Another one very close to our hotel–which, the hotel’s proximity to so many fun places was a total accident–was Dragon’s Lair Comics & Fantasy. This place is a comic book store, a game store, and as well as a “geek miscellany” store. Collectibles, clothes, and cosplay makeup? You name it, and these guys probably carry it. This was another one that had a cool section devoted to Tabletop decorated with tiny Wil Wheaton dolls, which almost made it feel a bit more like a Wheaton shrine than anything else. These guys also had several demo games you could try out in-store in addition to the TONS of shiny things you could look at and buy. We didn’t spend as much time here as we did Emerald (no coffee at Dragon’s Lair, so, you know…), but the store was AMAZING and made us wish we had something like it back home.

UNCOMMON OBJECTS

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This store was AMAZING. I have never been in an antique/thrift store like this one. Not only did Uncommon Objects have your normal antique fare like china, phones, and books, it also had totally random stuff like pictures (I came thisclose to buying a creepy picture of two Victorian ladies standing on a fence that looked like they were actually levitating), medical slides (from the cellular-level stuff to gross decomposing bodies), deeds, and really anything else a person from the past would have used. There was SO MUCH to look at, and I wish I could show you some of the magic that I saw, but they had a no photography rule. While I’m sure I could have snuck a photo or two in, I decided not to rock the boat. #RuleFollower. But seriously, this store was the COOLEST, weirdest store I’ve ever been in. Loved it.

Austin MISCELLANY

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Of course, we also just walked around and enjoyed the city. We ate on Lake Austin, we explored downtown, we played at a video arcade in a shopping center ominously named The Domain, and we checked out the shops Congress Avenue.

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We only saw a fraction of Austin, to be certain, but I LOVED what we got to experience. The city has so much culture and life, and it felt like every place we went had a bit of a different flavor to it. Really, the only thing that could have made the trip more exciting would have been getting a Jared Padalecki or Jensen Ackles sighting out of it (they were at VanCon that weekend). Celeb sightings or not, this city is fantastic, and it was as wonderfully weird as I hoped. You’re my new favorite, Austin. I can’t wait to go back.

Have you been to Austin? What’s your favorite thing to see there? Where have you traveled lately? Tell me about it in the comments! 

All photos copyright Kendall Ashley

Survival Guide for the Walking Dead Hiatus

Season 5 of The Walking Dead is in the books, and we’ve all had a few weeks to catch up on the season finale, and fully accept the fact that we are officially in the middle of the show’s summer hiatus. As y’all know, I recapped The Walking Dead at The Mary Sue this season. So I was ALL ABOUT the Ricktatorship this season. Now that the season is officially over, what exactly are we supposed to do? Since we’ve got quite a few months ahead of us, here are some ideas I’ve compiled to help make the time go a bit more quickly:

 Watch Fear the Walking Dead

This one is a no-brainer. A great way to pass the time this hiatus is to jump into another zombie show, right? FTWD is the official spin-off of The Walking Dead that will be airing this summer. Of course, there isn’t an air date for this show, and it still won’t give us clues as to what is happening with Rick and the survivors. So here are a few other options:

Max Brooks’ Novels

Max  Brooks has written a ton of awesome zombie-related books. From World War Z (seriously, read the book, so much better than the movie), The Zombie Survival Guide, to the Recorded Zombie Attacks graphic novel, and more, there is a lot of zombie love to be found in Brooks’ books. Also? Reading is good for your braaaaaaiiiinnnssss

Train!!!

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So you’ve read Brook’s zombie survival guide, but now it’s time to complete your preparations: train for the impending apocalypse with Rule #1: Cardio. Check out the Zombies, Run! app to help motivate you in your running endeavors, or check out an actual zombie race in your area. There are tons of different zombie races, but you can start by seeing if there is an official Zombie Run in your area.

Or you could just stay inside and play video games…

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Okay, running is fine, but for the rest of the humans out there who aren’t about the “going outside” and “running outside where bugs live” life, there are video games. You can play an actual Walking Dead video game, check out a Call of Duty zombie game, Day ZLeft 4 Dead, or any of the other zillions of zombie video games or apps out there. Best of all? You never have to put on real pants to engage in simulated zombie fighting.

Netflix Binge A New Show

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There is no better time to jump into a new show (or a new-to-you show) like the summer hiatus. For me, I’m watching Breaking Bad for the first time, and I’m completely obsessed. Delving into the world of Heisenberg has been a great way for me to fill that Walking Dead-shaped void in my life. Only problem? Breaking Bad is so completely amazing that I’m already halfway through season four (for those who don’t know, there are only 5 seasons of Breaking Bad). Pace yourselves, friends.

Go to Comic Con!

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The best way to deal with the hiatus is to commiserate with members of your fandom, and there is no better place to meet other members of your fandom than comic con. Summer is when conventions big and small take place, and it’s a great place to talk to other TWD fans about how much you miss the show. If you live in the Colorado area, you should check out Denver Comic Con! I’ll be there, and I’d love to say hey. Even better, there are some cast members from The Walking Dead that will be at DCC like the Governor himself!

Of course, if all else fails, you can just re-watch The Walking Dead starting with season 1, right? It seems like such a long time ago that Rick was confessing his love to Lori…

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…wait. I’m getting my Andy Lincolns mixed up…Whatever. Close enough.

How are you passing the hiatus of TWD? Let me know in the comments!

The Official Distracted Blogger Cure For Sick Days

You guys, I was so sick yesterday. I was fine all day Monday, enjoying my President’s Day off, and suddenly…

leslie knopeSo I spent all day yesterday wrapped up in blankets, trying to feel better. I feel infinitely better today, but because of my ailment adventures yesterday, I decided to offer you the Official Distracted Blogger Cure for Sick Days (or, what makes me feel better when my body is being a super jerk).

1. Netflix Binge: Parks and Rec

I tend to go in waves with TV shows on Netflix. I tend to pick a show and watch it until I run out of episodes. Right now, the show I’m watching on Netflix is Parks and RecNothing can make me feel better than a trip to Pawnee to watch Leslie Knope shake up local government. The only thing is, the place I happen to be in the series is right around Ben and Leslie’s wedding. So…that means I came across the episode where the guys tried out food from different caterers and got food poisoning. I’ll tell ya, while this moment is hilarious:
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It loses a bit of humor when you, too, were dying earlier that day, then you died, and now you are dead.

So maybe just make sure a food poisoning episode isn’t in the future of your sick day Netflix binge…

2. Musicals: Singin’ in the Rain

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Musicals always make me feel better if I’m sick or sad, but there is no musical out there that makes me feel as good as Singin’ in the Rain. It is, hands down, my favorite movie. The music is so great and catchy, the story is straightforward and fun, and the dance numbers are the best ever. I mean, just try to be grumpy after watching this:

3. Video Games: Skyrim

I’ll be honest, one of my favorite things about Skyrim is that you have the option to just wander about Skyrim and explore the area. I usually don’t do any hardcore playing while I’m trying to feel better because there is just something that I love about piddling around Skyrim, doing random crap.

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Of course, just like you should be wary if a food poisoning episode is in your future while you’re Netflix-binging, you should also try to think about what awaits you if you do complete a quest. For instance, if you hypothetically find yourself tasked with “Defeat Alduin (the game’s dragon Big Bad)” when you’re just trying to keep everything low-key? That could put some unneeded stress on your ailing body that will certainly end in a rage quit… Or so I’ve read…

4. Reading: Station Eleven

If I’m not dealing with a migraine, nothing calms me down more than reading. Right now, I’m reading Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.  It’s the story of the world after it was decimated by the deadly Georgia Flu. Y’all know how much I love zombies and post-apocalyptic stuff. This book has all of that stuff, plus the writing is beautiful. It’s an awesome read.

5. Chaucer the Dog

How could I not feel better after snuggling under a blanket with this little guy, amirite?

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What makes you feel better on sick days? Let me know in the comments!

Project-Nerd Post: Blocktor Who!

I have a really exciting announcement! I’ve just signed on to be a news writer for the amazing nerdy website, Project-Nerd, and I am so excited!

http://project-nerd.com/

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Today, I’m over there talking about the announcement that came out yesterday from Microsoft, Mojang, and the BBC: Doctor Who skin packs are headed to Minecraft! I’m talking about it over at Project-Nerd, and I hope you’ll join me!

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…BBC, Microsoft, and Mojang have just announced that Xbox Minecraft players will soon be given access to Doctor Who skins. The plan is to continue releasing skin packs as time goes on. In the first pack, Minecrafters can look forward to seeing skins that will allow them to change their avatars to Capaldi’s newly-introduced Twelfth Doctor (we can debate if he is actually the twelfth later) as well as five other as-yet-unnamed Doctors, several well known companions, and some of the favorite villains from the show–yes, Daleks are included….read the rest over at Project-Nerd! 

 

New Destiny Trailer Released!

We’re getting closer and closer to the release of Bungie’s new game, Destiny, and they are trying to keep us all pumped by releasing a new trailer for the game. While the trailer looks amazing, I don’t think Bungie needs to worry about keeping people pumped up for this game. Most of us–even people like me who don’t yet have an Xbox One–got a taste  when they launched the Destiny Beta several weeks ago. I think everyone is pretty stoked about the game’s release on September 9th. Destiny certainly has the feel of the usual space-themed FPS, but it also has some innovative RPG elements to make it different from other space-themed video games like Halo (which is what I’m sure people will be comparing it to for some time)This game is certainly bringing something new and different to the world of FPS games.

The nice thing about the FPS/RPG blend, is that you can customize your character (race, features, gender, etc). While there are several FPS games out there, Halo being one of them, where you can play multiplayer as a female, there are far fewer that offer a female option for the campaign. So while games like Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare are making waves for adding it’s first female into the game’s story, it’s cool that Destiny is allowing players to go through the entire game with whatever character they best identify. Of course, if you don’t want to go male or female, there are also some alien races you can choose to use–tons of options.

Besides the unique blend of FPS/RPG gameplay, the game is also stunning. In the trailer (which you can see below), we get a closer look at the planet Venus. The planet is colorful and gorgeous, and from the looks of the trailer and what we experienced in the beta, gamers will have a pretty expansive and intricate universe to explore. If you missed out on the beta, you can go to the Destiny Youtube page to see some of their earlier trailers to get a picture of what waits for us in Destiny.

So…are you guys ready for September 9?!

Norman Reedus Will Star In The New Silent Hill Game

Everybody can use a bit more Norman Reedus in their lives, right? Well, it looks like gamers can get a bit of Norman right on their consoles. The latest installment in the Silent Hill series, named Silent Hills, is the product of a partnership between Guillermo del Toro and Hideo Kojima, starring Norman Reedus. No word yet if he’s just rendering his voice and likeness to the game, or if he will actually be playing himself. Either way, I’m all for it!

The announcement of the game has been a bizarre one. Kojima has been teasing this game for some time now, calling the game P.T. (even announcing P.T. at the Sony Gamescom press conference) and crediting it to the fictional developers, 7780s Studio…

Read the rest and see the trailer for Silent Hills over at Nerdophiles!

Dying Light Trailer Released at Gamescom

Techland debuted a new trailer for their upcoming zombie game, Dying Light, at Gamescom, and I could not be more excited! I am absolutely obsessed with all things zombie-related, so this game is right up my alley. However, the gaming market is definitely not hurting for zombie games, with games like Left 4 Dead, Resident Evil, The Last of Us, Dead Island, and The Walking Dead doing a great job a representing zombies in the gaming world. While you can usually bet I’ll eat up a new zombie game, regardless of how crowded the market is, I actually think Dying Light has some cool, new stuff to offer:

1. Survivor By Day, Prey By Night

Basically, this is a gorey Minecraft (okay, not really, but that would be hilarious). By day, you are a survivor, collecting supplies and crafting weapons, but at night you have to fight of the hordes of zombies that are growing in strength as well as some creepy nocturnal creatures…

Read the rest of the post over at Nerdophiles! 

Kendall’s #GeekySummerReads: Ready Player One

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Over the course of the summer months, I’ll be going through a reading list that I’ve created for myself. The books I’ve chosen have some sort of a supernatural, sci-fi, general geeky feel to them. Follow the hashtag #GeekySummerReads to hear me talk about the book I’m reading, and join in on the conversation yourself. I’ve just finished the third book in my list, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, and I have to say it: this has been my favorite book of my summer reading list so far. I absolutely adored this book. When I read the last page, I wanted to flip right back to page one and start reading it all over again.

Here is a basic synopsis of the book:

In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

This book was completely amazing. I was fully pulled in right from page one. OASIS was truly a virtual utopia that had something for everyone, be it school, church, shopping, or gaming. Honestly, I kind of wish OASIS was a real thing, because it sounds AMAZING…

Finish reading over at Girls of Geek 12!