Monday, January 30, 2012

Gamer dads - (Matthew W.)

If this blog has any sort of mission or deeper meaning (or point at all, really) I would say it is to encourage wives to support their gamer husbands.  It is easy to sit around drinking chick cocktails cackling in a chorus about how he can't do this or that.  How cliche!  It is challenging to embrace our husbands for all that they are especially since it is usually nothing like us.  But, I believe we must. 

If the broader focus of my blog is about supporting the gamer in your life, well then my subtitle is "people, this means even after you have kids."  It requires refined acrobatic skills to juggle a decent commitment to a hobby while being a parent (and a spouse.)  I only recently discovered that I actually have time for a hobby. 

My husband, on the other hand, has fluidly maintained several hobbies, and not at all to the detriment of his job or our family (I would rather he take any anger/anxiety/angst he might have out on zombies and the like anyway.)  I respect him deeply for this.

If you consider my husband a gamer dad, you must also label him a drummer, an audiophile, a burgeoning woodworker, and a condiment-happy cook.  He is well rounded and this is one reason why I love him.  On a certain level, I share his interest in music,"crafts" and the kitchen.  It's a level on which we can relate.  When it comes to video games, however, I have had to step a bit (and sometimes way) outside of myself and my own interests and abilities to appreciate his. 

But simply stated, watching him play has led me to this blog and, subsequently, this writing challenge.  Both of which have brought me closer to him and (maybe more importantly this time) me closer to me.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Stupid Hot Girls on G4 - (Mark L.)

The Voyeur is sick tonight.  She has a bug of some sort that has relegated her to bed, with nothing to do but softly moan.  That is usually something I am involved with, but alas, 'tis not so this time.

This is her husband typing.  I am not sure how to refer to myself. If she is the Video Game Voyeur, what am I?  The Voyee?  I guess the "Resident Gamer" will do.

She made it to 28 in her 30-day challenge.  I am confident she'll be back tomorrow to finish things off proper.  Now, on to the topic...

What is the purpose of "stupid hot girls" on G4?  It seems fairly obvious on the surface.  Get guys to watch.  Get geeky guys to think hot girls are into the same stuff they are.  Build self-esteem and viewership.  The question is: Why is it working?

Mostly these women just come off as irritating.  They do not appear credible.  They make me want to change the channel. Whoever is in control of this corporate image (because that's really what it is) even makes me want to leave their website.  Right now I'm at  Over on the right side of the page they have some host of some show and a quote.  The current quote is supposedly from Candace Bailey. 

"We've tried shotguns, Molotovs, and grenades and the zombies keep coming.  Can't we just hug it out?"

That's frustrating in a way that I'm not sure how to describe.  Yet, people watch Attack of the Show.  The way shows and their hosts are marketed must be having some positive effect, or they wouldn't be doing it.  This leads me to be more upset with gamers in general, who flock to this junk.

Maybe I'm just getting old.  Maybe I'm just not the G4 core audience anymore.  After all, I'm 30, and have a job.  I have a wife and kids and very little time to be wasted.  Any spare time I do get, I want to spend doing something I enjoy like playing games or music. 

Let's turn the attention somewhere else for a moment.  My wife.  The Voyeur herself.  She is almost the complete opposite of stupid hot girls on G4.  She is smart.  She is genuine.  She doesn't pretend to know about what she's reading off the teleprompter.  However, she is also quite the little hottie.  If someone handed me a block of clay and told me to sculpt the perfect butt, I would make her butt. 

In other words: I have what I need, thank you. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The video game impaired - (Caela C.)

To determine your video game age, answer these five questions.  Try to be as honest with yourself as possible:

1. Back in the day, did you press "A" and jump the video game controller at the same time?

2. Do you still forget to use the whammy bar in Guitar Hero?

3. Are you unable to pat your head and rub your tummy simultaneously?

4. Is button mashing your go to K.O. move?

5. Do you find yourself wanting to move forward, but looking upward instead?

Now, record the number of times you answered "yes" to the above questions.  Please note: if you answered "maybe" or "uh, I don't know," that counts as a yes.  Multiply that number by 113 (you do something like this in golf so it must be accurate), add your age and then subtract 12 (my favorite number.) 

Did any of you actually do it?

Mine is 132.  My video game age is 132.  That sounds about right. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Food pairings with video games - (Matthew W.)

For inspiration (and because the hubs is out tonight at a meeting) I watched the Thanksgiving episode from the third season of Gilmore Girls.  Somehow, they overbook themselves and agree to attend four different dinners during the day.

Lorelai: Rory what are we if not the world's champion eaters?
Rory: It's too much food.
Lorelai: It's not too much food. This is what we've been training for our whole lives. This is our destiny, this is our finest hour.
Rory: Or final hour.

Now, I enjoy eating, but not that much.  I am more of a grazer.  And, I shamelessly take advantage of the time my husband plays video games to eat what I avoid during the day for fear of having to share it with my toddler.

Beer - This is the official beverage of The Video Game Voyeur.  In the summertime I enjoy Corona.  In the winter my guilty pleasure is Woodchuck Cider (fake beer.)  Year round I choose Stella or Natty Boh (in a can in my purple Boh face cozy, thank you very much.)

Poor Man's Taco Dip - I did not invent this by any stretch, but I own it nonetheless.  Simply, this is sour cream, salsa, and shredded cheddar.  I don't know about you, but I don't have time for the four or so other layers.  Lime tortilla chips elevate this dish to satisfy any palette. 

Popcorn - First of all, I love popcorn.  It may be the perfect snack.  It is light, crispy, amazing for catching on your tongue and provides endless seasoning possibilities.  I am a fan of lightly salted or white cheddar.  Kettle corn is out.  Caramel corn is in.  Second, there is no shortage of popcorn in this house.  Unbeknownst to me (until recently), the Boy Scouts pimp popcorn like the Girl Scouts turn thin mints.  And, being an Eagle Scout himself, my husband has a soft spot for boys in uniform.  Ah, sadly, there was no better way to say that.  Long story short, we bought a lot of BSA popcorn this fall.

Oreos - Speaking of cookies, Oreos are by far my favorite.  I have never tried to make these at home because, well, they are perfect just the way they are.  While I am typically a savory snacker, I will always love me some cookies and milk.  The regular fat Oreos taste WAY better than the reduced fat, but you tend to forget that back at home.  Plus, if I get reduced fat I have permission to eat four instead of three and dunk them in the kid's whole milk instead of my usual skim.  I don't want to risk getting hungry in the middle of the night, do I?  No way, hons!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Back when I was in college - (Leisel A.)

Back when I was in college a gallon of unleaded gasoline cost roughly $1.50 and I only needed $5.50 to drive on the Pennsylvania Turnpike to get to school (Breezewood to Cranberry.)  I think both cost at least double now, only ten short years later. 

Don't worry I have absolutely no intention of waxing political or even economical on you.  I merely wanted to sound like an old lady.

Not that we have that out of the way, I feel the need to somehow sum up my entire collegiate experience in this one blog post.  Frankly, that is impossible.  Those four years were life changing for me as they are for most people.  I left home for the first time, almost moved back home after the first year, decided to stay after all, bonded with amazing people, changed my major, was "forced" to shop at Wal-Mart, and met my future husband. 

Though, come to think of it, there is one phrase I can employ to sum up college for you: Upper Class White Trash (UCWT.)  Before I elaborate, I must confess I am borrowing this idea from my good friend who coined it (she gave me permission to describe it here.)  I wish I had come up with it on my own.  It is classic.  It is exactly how college students live.  It describes what the inside of a tiny dorm room looks like (one that essentially costs 50 grand a year to live in.)  Maybe it would be more accurate to say middle class, but that's shrinking any way right?  (No politics, please.)

My favorite example is this: you know you are UCWT when you wear your 60 dollar bathing suit bottoms as under wear because you are too cheap to do laundry.  And one for the dudes (this one was not just inspired by my husband but precisely extracted from his college existence):  you know you are UCWT when you adhere a Pop Tart box to your bed post with orange duct tape to store all your various electronics remotes and controllers. 

Which gracefully (maybe) leads me to talk about my early days of video game voyeuring.  Since I did not grow up with video games (save my cousin's original NES and my neighbor's Sega), college was my first experience with their prevalence.  Yes, it was in those formative years that I developed a taste for not playing, but watching video games.  I guess you could call it the geek version of cheering on the jocks from the stands.  Though in my defense (and the gamer guys, too) I also quite enjoyed watching them all play frisbee as well.  With their shirts on, of course.

I just realized while proofreading, that it physically hurts me to read a sentence without a period  I can barely manage to keep on reading when they aren't there  Even when the double space is present and the other punctuation is intact, I highly desire the dot  Ugh, rereading this paragraph is barely short of torture

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Our girls in 10 years (M. Kendall L.)

In ten years, our two little girls will be nearly 11 and 13.  They will be in the fifth and seventh grades respectively.  At the start of the following school year, they will be in middle school together.  Hopefully, they will be friends more often than not.  Maybe they will even share clothes and accessories.  Hmm, they might even be into makeup.  Oh jeez, they will be wearing bras at this age!  I sure hope we have more than one full bathroom by then.

In ten years, I pray that our older daughter still loves school as much as she does now (even though she has yet to start.)  I pray that she still loves her "orange" hair (though I hope she has outgrown correcting people when they call it red.)  I pray that she loves her sister, does not feel burdened by her, but still protects and teaches her freely.

I pray that our little one remains as laid back in her youth as she has been as a baby (that attitude will serve her, and her family, well as a preteen girl.)  I pray that she grows some hair by then (what blonde fuzz she currently has will not serve her well at this age.)  I pray that she loves her sister, does not feel forever in her shadow, but still emulates her willingly.

For my husband, I pray that our girls are pretty, but not too pretty.

Will they play sports?  Will they play music?  Will they like to read?  Will they like to write?  I don't want to project, but I hope they enjoy many things, all of these things and more.  Now...will they play video games?  I hope so, too.

I hope we will all play together.  I know my husband will certainly have a console or two or ten still lying around by then.  Maybe we will have a night set aside for video games.  Maybe we will all solve the puzzles together.  Maybe we will pop corn and make root beer floats and lie on floor pillows in front of the fire...

For me, I pray that our girls still want to hang out with us then like they do now. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Matthew's Birthday - (Zach L.)

My husband and I have known Matthew and his wife for five or six years now.  I don't remember when we first became friends, exactly.  I do remember when we first met them, though.  It was at a surprise birthday party for a mutual friend.  I don't remember if I brought a gift, per se.  I do remember they brought a "katamari."

No, they did not bring a video game.  And, no, I do not recall if it was Katamari Damacy or I (Heart) Katamari that inspired their creative present.  What they brought was a hand made "ball" of junk all affixed to itself like one you might assemble when playing one of the above titles.  It was cute.  I am pretty sure a Panera cup was involved.  Remember when they used to have Styrofoam ones?  It was one of those. 

A "katamari" is a magical ball that allows anything smaller than it to stick to it and make it grow.  The more you stick to the ball, the larger it gets allowing you to pick up even larger objects with it.  In one of the games you start out by rolling over thumbtacks and dice and such and pretty soon you can pick up tables and people and buildings.  Matthew is an avid gamer and likes lots of different games.  However, I will always associate him with Katamari.

So, in honor of your birthday, dear friend, please picture yourself in a Katamari game that has been especially designed for you.  A sort of "This is Your Life" Katamari Damacy (which oddly roughly translates to "clump soul."  Who knew?)  And to help you envision this crazy scenario, here is a list of items (in increasing size order, of course) that you can pick up as you roll around your world:

- guitar pick
- Mario Kart 7
- broccoli
- capo
- sonic screwdriver
- iPhone
- 3DS
- volcano roll
- mint ice cream cookie sandwich
- Iron & Wine CD
- Belle & Sebastian CD
- Jared Anderson CD
- The Book of Jonah
- Bilingual Easy Readers
- Where the Wild Things Are
- Mo Willems books
- The movie Coraline
- Woodchuck cider
- champagne flutes
- pitcher of Winner tea
- fez
- Wii
- striped sweaters
- wedding cake
- guitar
- Berner
- Michael Cera
- Leslie 122
- TARDIS (viewed from the outside)
- Toyota Echo
- cherry blossom trees
- Record & Tape Traders
- Stone Chapel
- Longfellow Elementary School
- AMC Owings Mills
- San Antonio River Walk

Clearly, I had help with this list.  I look forward to sharing the details of who was involved with you soon.  In the meantime, enjoy the thought of a game like this.  Oh, and I almost forgot, in your game, whenever the katamari increases in size, you shall hear it exclaimed, "Oh my word."

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mini/micro vans (Mark A.)

I'm not feeling it tonight.  It's not that I don't have anything to say.  It's not that I don't love my microvan (if that's a term) or this blog, for that matter.  I'm just not sure I have anything to say on this subject that anyone would want to read.  I have felt this way other nights this month, but some how got away without saying (or writing) it.  I guess once out of 23 posts ain't bad.

Anyway, we have a Mazda5.  It is the car I drive.  We got it because it did for us what a minivan would do for us without being a minivan.  Cause, well, I really didn't want to have my second child, turn 30 and buy a minivan all in one year.  Plus, I can still pretend it's sporty.  zoom zoom.  

Here's a  review.  If you want one, buy one.

And, here's a peak at the inside of my van, er, I mean my sleek and sassy microvanesque car:

- a squashed box of tissues
- a nearly finished caffeinated beverage from last week
- multiple hand sanitizers tucked into strategic locations (mostly because I forgot where I hid the previous ones)
- a bag of clothes or other baby item that belongs to someone else and I have yet to return
- not my dashboard Jesus (He's in the kitchen...did I need to capitalize that?)
- an umbrella
- an umbrella stroller
- a double stroller
- CD's I never get to listen to because our toddler has gotten jiggy with age appropriate music
- at least 12 lost Cheerios and 9 lost Goldfish
- a pair of my husband's shoes (ask him)

Can I get an amen?!?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Stories/Plots and watching video games - (Matt A.)

I do not have an award winning attention span.  I prefer episodes of television to movies.  I love to read novels, but often take in no more than 10 pages at a time.  Magazines are more my speed.  In college, I required many study breaks to successfully prepare for any exam. 

This lack of concentration may be one reason playing video games is not my thing.  I simply do not have the breadth of focus required to a) learn how to play any game b) play a game with the commitment required to get truly engrossed.

My style of video game voyeuring reflects this as well.  I often move in and out of the room or look up and down from some other activity as I watch.  And, when I do find myself glued to the television it is not because of any storyline that I can recall.  In looking back at my top 9 games to watch, I discovered that plot, for me, has nothing to do with it. 

On the flip side, I know storyline can play a big part in my husband's gaming experience.  Of course, this depends on the type of game.  Right now, for example, he is playing Bayonetta, which he picked up for funsies as part of a buy 2 get 1 free pre-owned game sale.  He says the storyline is ridiculous, but fun and that the game doesn't take anything too seriously.  A lot of games these days take their story lines super seriously.  Let's be honest, how many times can you save the world, really?  It has to be exhausting. 

How about all of you out there, gamers and voyeurs alike:   How much does the plot of a game matter to you?  Which games have you gotten lost in thanks to their story?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Joystick - (Darcy B.)

This post is gonna be hard.  (that's what she said.)

Facts about joysticks:

A joystick is an input device.

Joysticks come in all shapes, sizes and colors.

Some joysticks function better than others.

Good joysticks have "throttle control". (This one is called the Thrustmaster.)

Some joysticks suffer from "dome contact fatigue failure (flatting out)"

Joysticks are often found in cockpits. 

Joysticks can be used in video gaming.

Console gamers prefer the use of two sticks while PC gamers prefer using one larger one.
However, PC gamers rarely use their joystick.  To them, it has become somewhat obsolete.

I hope you have enjoyed this gallery of gadgets.  I must admit that, at first, I was disappointed with myself.  One of my self-inflicted rules for this challenge was to hit at least 200 words per entry.  Then I remembered: a picture is worth 1,000 words.  I guess I have outdone myself yet again...

Friday, January 20, 2012

Potty Training - (Mark A.)

When I was pregnant with our first child someone "advised" me that early parenthood was "all about poop."  Surely, they must be exaggerating, I thought.  Clearly, they were just trying to be funny.  I was well aware I would have to deal with diapers and what they contained.  I was not aware of what all of this would look like.

Pretty much from the moment they hand you the baby bundle in the delivery room you become poop obsessed.  In fact, the hospital has you keep track of each occurrence; color, consistency, frequency, form.  It is truly amazing.  I still cannot believe how easily poop dictates my day, it can even determine the mood of the entire house.  I also cannot believe the ease with which I say the word.

Poop.  Go ahead, say it out loud, I dare you.  Poop.  Now whisper it.  Poop.  Wanna yell it now?  POOP!!!

I have no doubt embarrassed my younger sister, her boyfriend, myself and probably many others on countless occasions (this blog entry possibly being a prime example).  I know I talk about poop too much.  It is basically the reason I have stopped going to civilized gatherings.

Now that our eldest is potty trained we have experienced an excrement evolution.  I will not get into that right now.  As research for this entry, though, I did ask our nearly three-year-old daughter a few questions.  Her answers were, well, very three.  Here is a brief excerpt from our conversation:

Me: Do you wear diapers anymore?
Z: No.  I wear underwear!  With padapullers.  (caterpillars)
Me: Who in our house still wears diapers?
Z: G!
Me: Are you going to help teach G (now ten months old) how to go on the potty when she is old enough?
Z: I will
Me: When do you think she will be old enough?
Z: In six days. 

Potty training, my friends, is not just about ditching the diapers.

Soon after this fine moment, my husband came home in the loaner car we just picked up from the dealership.  As agreed, he took Z back outside with him to see it.  She was quite intrigued with the idea of a borrowed car.  The hubs let her climb in, sit behind the wheel and pretend to drive.  And then, our sweet little babe, who hadn't had an accident in weeks, proceeded to pee all over the cloth seat and herself.  Brilliant. 


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Mobile gaming - (Zach L.)

Gather round, folks.  It's storytime!

Once upon a time, in a land not so far away (Owings Mills, MD) a young video game voyeur snuggled beside her avid gamer husband.  No baby monitors crackled or buzzed in the background.  The air was light, smelling nothing of diapers or formula.  The upcoming weekend held the promise of true rest and relaxation.  It was a quieter time, this time before children.  The nights were somehow boring.  But, not this night.

This night began like many others.  Gamer husband lay fondling his mobile gaming device while gamer wife watched drowsily from her pillow.  Occasionally she would lift her head to take in a glimpse or two.  The game being played on this historic eve?  The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. 

Unbeknownst to gamer wife, this title required more than just button tapping.  Unbeknownst to gamer husband, gamer wife had fallen asleep.  And then a seemingly innocent enemy rabbit with well endowed ears appeared on the screen.  Tactic required to defeat said rabbit?  Yelling into the Nintendo DS to scare the bully bunny.

This, simply, is how the rest of the scene unfolded:

GH: Hey honey, check this beat this guy I have to...
GH: (at top of lungs) AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!
GW: (basically jumps out of bed.  heart basically jumps out of chest) What happened?!??!  Are you ok??!?!?
GH: I thought you were awake
GW: Um, nope
GH: I'm sorry
GW: Uh huh (mental head slap. actual blow to her husband's arm)

Please note: No children were harmed (or conceived) as a result of this interaction.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

"There's an app for that." - (Mark A.)

Gotta tweet, search a recipe or restaurant on the go?
"There's an app for that."

Need to catch a lobster, raccoon or a mouse, oh no!?
"There's a trap for that."

Feel the urge to be an onstage ham?
"There's a tap for that"

Have a dreaded yearly exam?
"There's a pap for that"

Wanna emote ghetto-fabulous style?
"There's a rap for that."

Desire to look like an early Gentile?
"There's a flap for that."

Wow.  Well, that little game degraded fairly quickly, didn't it?  Fabulous.  If you have any more, I would love to hear them.  I had one for lap, but it really was not appropriate.  Moving on...

Right now, Instagram is my favorite app.  The 8 megapixel camera on the iPhone 4S is amazing.  I love having that at my fingertips to document daily delights.  Far from being obsessed with it, Instagram is simply a fun way for me to enhance what I capture and share it with all of you.  So, while understandably my favorite subjects are my two beautiful girls, I have something special brewing for my voyeur viewers.

Starting in February, I plan to present my "VGV Insta-G of the day".  Each day, I will share a photo through the eyes of the voyeur, all video game related and guaranteed to please.  Be sure to check my Facebook page for the photos.  (don't forget to give my page some "like" love so you don't miss any Insta-G's or other gems.)

And now, back to the are some words for you to ponder...crap, lap, nap, slap, zap...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cosplay - (Matthew W.)

Up until a few weeks ago, I had no idea what cosplay was.  I saw the topic in my list for this challenge and assumed it must be describing a type of bedroom shenanigan involving boldly patterned crew neck sweaters.  I have since educated myself a bit on the subject (thank you, as always, dear Internet.)

Come to find out, I already knew what cosplay was, I just didn't know what cosplay meant.  For years, I worked in downtown Baltimore, home to one of many conventions known as "Comic Con."  Every summer I watched cosplay play out in a magnificent fashion.  I rode into town on the Metro next to Superman.  I ate lunch as the nearby food court with Harley Quinn.  I may or may not have seen Bobo Fett in Banana Republic at the Gallery mall.  There was lots of makeup and weird weapons and skin, skin, skin.  These people are devout.

In case you have yet to catch up, cosplay is short for "costume play" and represents a type of performance art wherein participants dress up as characters from anime, graphic novels, comic books, video games, and the like.  I suppose it is a type of role play, though I do not know if any acting, per se, is involved.  However, based on some of these amazing photos I assume these artists full monty it in every direction. 

Though I can respect the amount of thought, time, and energy "cosplaying" requires, I am ridiculously relieved that my husband is not into this.  Though, if I had to guess, I suppose he might choose to dress up as Spike from Cowboy Bebop (an anime series he adores and, yes, I have watched.  Hmm, great blog topic idea.  Why didn't one of you think of it?!?)  If you know the character (and my husband), you realize this would not be a huge departure for him (Spike basically wears a suit and tie.)  Regardless, I vote cosplay as a deal breaker.

I mean, let's get real.  I would never partake in cosplay.  I don't even dress up for Halloween.  I used to, of course.  It was fun.  And, I guess I did dress up as She-Ra (Princess of Power) when I was six.  I don't think that counts, but if I revisited that costume again this year...thoughts?

Happy Zombie Tuesday!

Zombies are to video games as vampires are to movies.  So, naturally, when I learned about Zombie Tuesday I could not resist the opportunity to write.  Graciously, @MotherhoodTruth allowed me space on her blog.  Read my post (and all of her fabulous thoughts on everything from Mommies to Zombies) at Motherhood:Truth.

Monday, January 16, 2012

How I put too much pressure on myself - (Laura C.)

Laura is not one to offer unsolicited advice.  She is thoughtful and reserved.  However, she has, on more that one occasion, randomly reminded me that if I need to skip a day of blogging it would be fine.  Apparently, since the inception of this idea, she has been wary.  Perhaps she thinks that if I failed to follow my self-inflicted rules I would wither and wallow.   That little stinker, she really knows me. 

She knows I put a lot of pressure on myself.  She knows that I can be too hard on myself.  She was right to remind me.  But, Laura, I hope you think this has been a positive endeavor.  I do.  And I'll prove it. 

How?  A Pro/Con list, of course. 


1. Daily blogging causes you to neglect your pedicure.  Toenail polish is one of my few guilty pleasures.  Year round, I love to keep my piggies pampered with paint.  I only indulge in a spa treatment a couple of times a year and keep them up on my own in between.  But, alas, my "Red Zin-ful" toes are leftover from the holidays.  The paint is chipped, dingy and sad.  I even bought a new color a few weeks ago that I have yet to use.  My feet might have to wait until February to drink in the beauty that is "Haute Chocolate."

2. I am a wittle bit sweepier than usual.  Granted, I have two young children, but they have been sleeping fine.  I, on the other hand, have been staying up later and dreaming in blog.  Some times I feel like I spent the entire night rolling ideas around instead of resting.  

3. Insecurity has set in, a bit.  I fear you all may be getting tired of me.  Is all this quantity harming my quality?   Are you considering breaking up with my blog?


1. I am building amazing content on my site in just a few short weeks.  This has given me the confidence to promote my blog.  I feel like now, if I send some one here, they will have plenty to read and will really be able to get a feel for what I am all about.     

2. I have learned that I really could write every day if I wanted to.  I have the time.  I have the unique niche and voice.  I probably won't blog every day after the challenge is over, but I probably will blog much more often than before. 

3. Every night, after the girls are in bed, my husband makes a fire and I sit and write.  It has been a great way for us to unwind together.

4. Thinking about my blog, literally all day long, has sparked fresh ideas.  I feel like I will have plenty to write about for a long time.  I created a Facebook page for the blog (Please take a second to "Like" it) and I have even devised another challenge I will tell you about soon.

5. I have begun networking as a blogger.  In fact, tomorrow is my first guest post on another site.  I recently connected with a mommy blogger on Twitter who celebrates "Zombie Tuesdays."  Tomorrow, I am her guest writer (about video games, of course.)  Look for a link to her blog from mine.  

6. It has been fun conquering all of your clever blog topics and thinking about you as I write them.  Please send me more any time. 

So, to recap, I have gained a lot from this 30 Day Writing Challenge and I am only half of the way through it.  It seems that the only negative things coming out of this are shabby toes, insufficient sleep and lame insecurities.  What else is new?  Time for another beer.  Here's to 16 down and 14 to go! (posts.  not beers.)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Voice acting (or attempting) - (Matthew W.)

Video Game Voyeur Trivia: What does video game voice acting and the Golden Globes have in common?

One might be inclined to guess "absolutely nothing."  While the Golden Globes is known for parading talented movie and television stars, video games are not.  Video game voice acting is generally only mildly inspired and entertaining.  Video game voice actors (while becoming more well known) are often B-list at best.  For as much as I watch, I can not recall a video game voice performance that moved me.  In fact, I rarely even notice much of the dialogue. That is, unless it completely stinks.

So, do you know the answer?

I'll give you a hint: It's an actor
I'll give you another hint: He won an award at the Globes tonight
Ok, one more: His name rhymes with Fristopher Slummer

Did ya guess it yet? 

All joking aside, I just want to say well done Skyrim for hiring an award winning actor to elevate an already fabulous game.  And kudos, Christopher, for giving some credibility to video game voice acting.

Bonus questions from the voyee (is that a word?)

Which games do you play where the voice acting totally takes you out of the moment?  
Which games have voice acting that is so good you actually notice?

I'll give my answers in the comments tomorrow.


Saturday, January 14, 2012

My dream video game - (M. Kendall L.)

I am torn.  There are too many ambitions to fulfill, too many angles to consider, too many fantasies to satisfy.  When it comes to developing my dream video game, I don't think I could create just one.  So, I won't.  Sing with me!  It's my blog and I'll do what I want to, dooo what I want to, dooooo what I want to.  You would do this too, if you happened to have a cool blog like miiiiine (or something like that).

My dream video game to watch
I would love to watch a game that took place somewhere breathtakingly beautiful, like a beach in Bali.  I would want to hear the sounds of the ocean, the waves, the birds, the wind in the trees.  In my opinion, tropical locales are under represented in video games.

Like my sister gamer wives, I prefer games with puzzles that I can help my husband solve.   Wouldn't it be nice to stroll along the shore unlocking riddles and uncovering clues?  Perhaps there is a loose story line wherein you are stranded on the island and need to solve the puzzles to earn food and clothes and other supplies, like frozen strawberry margaritas.  

My dream video game to play
I know, I know, I don't like to play.  I like to watch.  But, I feel like I am missing out.  My husband plays video games for many reasons.  One of which, I am sure, is to escape.  He has this vehicle that actively allows him to get lost in a different place, a different story.  I have never been good at doing that.  I read, yes, but mostly magazines and realistic fiction.  I write, yes, but mostly about his hobby.

Basically, I dream of a game that would open up my imagination.  One that would totally engross me.  My mind is so closed that I can't even fathom what I would want to do or accomplish or conquer in a game like this.  I do know that it would have to require a ridiculously simple controller, be side scrolling and by no means require me to change any camera angle, ever.   

My dream video game for the hubs to play
I dream of a game that has little dialogue of its own so my husband can actually talk to me while he plays.  I dream of a game that has many, frequent save points so I don't feel bad when I accidentally linger in front of the screen as the enemy approaches.  I dream of a game that, somehow, still allows my husband to play even though he is both helping me fold laundry and giving me a foot massage.  And, maybe, just maybe, when he beats it, people everywhere will finally be judged, not on the color of their skin, but on the content of their character.  Oh, and it also transports us to a beach in Bali.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Interview voyeurs and compare experiences - (Laura C.)

First, I want to thank everyone who responded to my email survey.  I really enjoyed reading what you had to say about how video games play into your lives.  Plus, you guys crack me up.  I am looking forward to directly quoting a few of you in a few. 

Second, while most of you are fairly affirming of your man (let's be honest we are all women married to men who play video games), some of you are not.  And, I some times got the feeling that I was the first person to hear some of your thoughts.  No one ever wrote anything close to, "This is what we have agreed on" or "after discussing this we decided..."  Please, please, please talk to your husband about his gaming.  He needs to know if you have an issue. 

Third, I want to take a minute to address the avid gamers in our midst.  I have your back.  You know I do.  Video gaming is a legitimate hobby.  But, golf is also a legitimate hobby.  I know douches who play both.  Do you catch my drift? 

Now onto the interviews:

When asked what you ladies liked about video games, the majority of you mentioned helping to solve the puzzles.  So cute.  I am sure there is an anthropological explanation for this.  If any of you understand it, please fill me in.  I also got the impression that, while you are glad games bring him joy, you are also pleased it is a hobby that keeps him home, in front of the baby monitor, where he belongs.  Video gaming seems, to some, a lesser evil.

With the exception of a few newlyweds in the group, this is something all voyeurs have had to be creative with at some point.  Suggestions I received ranged in intensity.  Examples included: tapping his arm, sitting next to him and waiting, standing in front of the screen, looking for him to die, (and my personal favorite) stripping.  When we were first married, my husband had a man cave down in the basement complete with a projector and surround sound.  Once, when it was time for dinner (and no amount of shouting worked), I sent the dog down with a sign on his back.  I don't remember if it worked.  

"Can't (he)  just play games rated E for Everyone when (the kid is) around? Is that really so hard?"

"Once he starts a game he cares about, it's pretty much 8pm - 2am until he's beaten it every way it can be beaten (dirty!)"

"I don't like when he gets angry with the game....cursing as if he really did get shot."

"Do you have any idea what I could do with $60?!?!? A bangin’ haircut or a dinner out! Or a new outfit. Such a waste."

From my point of view, I was pleased to find out that, in general, you considered yourselves to be video game voyeurs and tried to spend some time with your husband while he games.  You are all generally supportive (or working on it.)  Now I am curious, do your husband's agree?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Kazumi - (Kazumi T.)

You may be wondering, "What is a Kazumi?"  However, what you should be asking is, "WHO is Kazumi?" 

Kazumi Frederick Takemasa is my husband's long time friend.  They met in middle school in Western New York.  If I have this right, and I think I do, Kazumi was born in Austria to Japanese parents.  He became an official United States citizen when he married a native Hawaiian who he met in New Jersey.  He and his wife bought us a rice cooker for our wedding.  We love that thing.

Oddly enough, I had already planned to devote a blog entry to Kazumi.  So, while his topic suggestion is not exactly humble, it is entirely acceptable.  Kazumi may be the reason we are all here.  No, he is not some prophetic Japanese mystic (though his name does mean "beautiful harmony" and I wouldn't be surprised to find out he knew something the rest of us didn't.)  Simply put, my husband would not be the gamer he is today (nor I the voyeur) without Kazu.

First, my husband credits Kazumi with introducing him to role playing games.  He says he still remembers renting Final Fantasy II at Kazu's suggestion and becoming immediately consumed with its world and characters.  It was also thanks to Kazu who has family back East, (or would you say West?), the hubs had access to video games only released in Japan.  And finally, no one is a better gaming buddy than Kazu.  I am fairly confident he and my husband have logged thousands of hours on hundreds of games playing together over the years.

Everyone should have a friend like Kazu, but not because his mom makes mad awesome Japanese noodles or because he lives in Hawaii or anything having to do with gaming.  But, because he is weird and relaxed about it, while the rest of us are weird and busy covering it up. 

And, so, because I couldn't resist, here is my Ode to Kazu (and because they met in middle school I chose acrostic): 


Kazumi, not everyone's cup of Japanese tea
A bit socially awkward if you ask me.
Zealous for gaming, both console and PC
Unbending in his taste for his mama's sushi
Manly in Speedos, this Asian can fly
In every measurable way, he scores super high

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Laundry Achievement Points - (Darcy B.)

Laundry is my least favorite.  Here are some reasons why:

1. I am bad at it.  Though, I suppose it is unclear whether I despise it because I am bad at it or I am bad at it because I despise it.  Either way, I am a lousy laundress.  I usually wait to do wash until the piles seem insurmountable.  And then, instead or sorting by color, I sort by person.  I will dig through an enormous heap of dirty laundry and pick out every last thing that is mine, shove it all into one load and finish it first.  Because, heck, if I have to wash all of these clothes I am surely gonna have something cute (and clean) to wear while I do it.

2. It's way down in the basement.  This has nothing to do with agility or strength and everything to do with out of sight, out of mind.  I cannot hear my washer on the first floor and my dryer does not buzz.  Therefore, I have left many a load wet and limp or dry and wrinkling until the next morning.  Not only does this make me feel even more inept than I already do, it draws out this heinous process until, well, I don't even bother making the trip down the stairs. 

3. Socks.  They are somehow ubiquitous and elusive at the same time.  Just today, I found five baby socks in the living room alone.  It does not help that my 10-month-old removes her socks often and with the stealth of a ninja.  They are her favorite toys, after all.  She loves to wave them (and subsequently fling them) around like she is about to set sail.  To make matters worse I had the brilliant idea to buy the girls large packs of matching socks for Christmas.  I must have been in a stuff-the-stockings shopping stupor because now, while I am tirelessly attempting to match socks I must make sure the tiny sizes match too.  My grandfather used to safety pin his pairs together.  I will never do this, of course, but I no longer think it is ridiculous. 

4. It never ends.  Most domestic chores are like this, I know.  But, laundry is different.  It permeates the entire house.  Even if all the clothes were miraculously clean, what about the sheets?  towels?  snuggle-in-front-of-the-television quilts?  curtains?  dish towels?  throw rugs?  winter coats?  `Oh boy, I need to stop.  I am shvitzing.

I don't know what Laundry Achievement Points are, but I certainly like the sound of them.  I can't entirely avoid doing laundry so it would be fabulous to unlock some LAP in the process.  Let's mull this around, shall we?  To be continued...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Top 10 sexy video game chicks to play as - (Ryan D.)

I am not in the business of objectifying women.  But, I am also not in the business of going back on my word.  In the official rules of my self-inflicted 30 Day Writing Challenge I agreed to have the readers submit topics and my husband choose the finalists.  And, since I assume at least half of you are men, here is the list:

10. Morrigan    Darkstalkers
9. Sophitia       Soul Calibur
8. Hana           Fear Effect
7. Cammy        Street Fighter
6. Fran            Final Fantasy XII
5. Ayane          Dead or Alive
4. Chun Li        Street Fighter
3. Miranda       Mass Effect 2
2. Tifa             Final Fantasy VII
1. Catwoman    Batman: Arkham City

In case you were wondering, yes, I dutifully looked up all of these "women" online and gave them each their deserved once over (ok, fine some times I looked them up and down twice.)  As I am sure you could guess they all have HUGE brains.  I did chose a favorite, though.  It's Chun Li.

Alright, go ahead, ignore the rest of this post for now and "Google Ogle" the rest.

For those of you who remain (or have returned, disillusioned) I now would like to educate you on 10 additional women you may not know.  These women come from a wee little book a friend gave me on my 18th birthday entitled, "365 Women Who Made a Difference."  I remembered it while writing the beginning of this post and actually found it in the attic.  I then spent at least an hour perusing it.  This is what I learned (5 for now, 5 for later.  I enjoy spreading estrogen laden love...wait.):

1. Virginia Apgar, 1909-1974 - One of the first women to graduate from Columbia University's medical school, Apgar became the first full professor of anesthesiology there.  Having attended 17,000 births, she introduced her Newborn Scoring System (and test) in 1952 which is now used all over the world.

2. Antoinette Brown Blackwell, 1825-1921 - Became the first woman minister of a recognized denomination in the United States when she was ordained by the First Congregational Church in 1853.  She graduated from Oberlin (the Alma mater of my friend who gave me this book.)  

3. Mary Elizabeth Bowser, 1839-? - After gaining her freedom upon the death of her master, she went to Philly on his family's dime to be educated.  When the Civil War began, she returned to Richmond and became a servant in Jefferson Davis' Confederate White House.  There she gained access to verbal plans and even written documents.  She leaked her information to her benefactors who happened to know Union General Grant personally. 

4. Margaret Brent, 1600?-1670 - Named executor for the will of the governor of Maryland, she owned her own land and frequently represented her self in court winning every case.  In 1647 she made a landmark request to be granted two votes in the assembly.  It was denied, of course, but Brent left her mark as the first American suffragist. 

5. Jackie Mitchell, 1914?-1987 - The first woman to sign a contract with a professional baseball league, she pitched for Chattanooga in an April 1931 exhibition game against the Yankees.  She struck out both Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth.

Now, don't go sayin' I never taught you nothin'.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Gamer personality - (Matthew W.)

QUIZ BELOW: What Your Man's Video Gaming Says About Him and His Potential

A la Cosmopolitan, answer these questions to discover what really matters: your man's video gamer personality.   

1. When did your man start playing video games regularly?
A. At a young age, possibly under the influence of a Japanese friend, or other socially awkward companion
B. In high school or college because every one else was staying up til 2am doing it
C. In the womb

2. When your man is playing what do you have to do to get his attention?
A. Stand directly in his field of view
B. Wait until he dies and then say his name sharply and loudly
C. Nothing, it is impossible to get his attention

3. What is your man playing right now?
A. Skyrim in an attempt to beat it before Mass Effect 3 comes out
B. Modern Warfare 3 in an attempt to put that 12-year-old online snot in his place
C. What is he not playing?

4. When your man is playing games what does he prefer you do?
A. Sit close by, provide positive feedback and help him solve the puzzles
B. Simply share a snack or do something you enjoy on your own
C. Leave the house

5. How many pieces of video game inspired clothing does your man own?
A. A few
B. None
C. That is all he owns

Mostly A's: Video Game Geek - your man may be obsessed, but he is super cute.
the good: his hobby is harmless.  he has plenty of room for you.
the bad: you may hear more about the adventures from his latest video game title than his actual life.
the bedroom: blow his mind with 8-bit inspired lingerie

Mostly B's: Video Game Gangsta - your man may be charged with testosterone, but he has found an acceptable outlet.
the good: his drive will equal success in all areas of life.  stick with him and reap the rewards.
the bad: he may be using video games to compensate for a self-assumed shortcoming.  
the bedroom: stroke his ego.  or controller.  or both. 

Mostly C's: Video Game Goner - your man may be lost, but you can still show him the way.
the good: he needs you. 
the bad: he might not notice you.
the bedroom: dress up as Laura Croft, Catwoman, Princess Peach or similar.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Do you miss softball? - (M. Kendall L.)

When I was a lass I fancied myself a tomboy.  I rode my bike, climbed trees, abhorred pink and played softball.  I loved going to Orioles games with my dad.  My favorite player back then was #12 Mike Devereaux.   

I started playing on my church league when I was 8.  My cousin, Nicole played with me on my team.  She pitched and I caught.  We were a dynamic duo of sorts.  When I started out, I played behind the plate because, frankly, I wasn't that great.   As I got older, the game became more interesting (stealing bases, facing 65 mph fast balls at only 40 feet, colliding with girls twice my size, dislocating thumbs) and I played behind the plate because, frankly, I was good.

My softball career ended when I graduated from high school.  As an adult, it did enjoy a brief revival in the social scene.  For at least two years I was a proud member of the Polk Audio co-ed slow pitch softball team.  Believe it or not, we did not drink on the field.  We were serious.  And, we seriously lost most of our games.  It was fun.

I actually don't remember too much about those days (clearly due to the brain cell loss I have suffered since.  I blame pregnancy and what results.)  I do, however, remember going out after the games.  We would hit a local restaurant that serendipitously offered two for one pizzas and imports those nights.  Actually, I am not sure that was a real deal, but we (not me specifically) knew two very well endowed waitresses that, for some reason I do not understand, hooked us up. 

Moving on, I don't think I miss softball, exactly.  But, I do miss getting out and playing like I did when I was 8.  I miss sitting outside in the warmth of a summer dusk eating sweet potato fries with my team, all sweaty and dusty from a game.  

Addendum (a first in voyeur history):  I can't leave the subject of softball without mentioning comedian Brian Regan.  Here is audio of one of his more famous bits on Little League.  If you want to skip to the softball minute try 5:35, but I recommend listening straight through.  (I apologize for the ridiculous photo stills, but I guess a lot of his older live stuff is down now due to copyright issues.)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Daughters - (Zach L.)

My life's focus is my two daughters.  Their very existence gives mine a deeper purpose than I would ever discover without them.  Even at very young ages, their actions teach and inspire.  My eldest is nearly three and already has a perspective and wit that makes me smile.  My youngest is a couple months shy of one, but communicates with a confidence many adults lack.  They have already developed a precious bond, one that I thought might take years.  I feel pure joy when I observe them laughing, playing and snuggling together.  Their innocence energizes me.  

Some times, though, I feel hidden behind them, my two cute bubbly babies who steal the show.  They rightly take priority over almost any thing else in my world.  It would be impossible to count the showers, meals, and hours of sleep I have already lost.  On occasion, I sacrifice in a state of  melodramatic mommy martyrdom.  Mostly, I hope, I simply woman up and do what is best.  In good ways and in bad, they drain me, oh do they drain me.   

Thankfully, I have recently embraced the importance of taking care of myself.  It's hard, but I have the honor of being home full time with my daughters.  I love them so much and they deserve the best me I can give.  So, some times I put myself first.  Writing this blog is one way I make time for finding my own voice.  I pray it is one they admire.   

"A startled or surprised look from one of you when I spoke sharply rebuked me more than any words could have done, and the love, respect, and confidence of my children was the sweetest reward I could receive for my efforts to be the woman I would have them copy."

-Lousia May Alcott, Little Women

Friday, January 6, 2012

Does anyone play pong, below the root or tetris? - (Brenda S.)

In my expert opinion, the short answer to this question is: yes, no, absolutely.

Before I delve deeper, I would like to applaud Brenda on astutely listing these games in chronological order based on their US release.  Pong debuted in 1973, Below the Root in 1984 and Tetris in 1987.  Holy throwback, Batman.

Pong is generally considered the first successful video game on the market.  It proved that games like these could make money.  Pong first hit bars in the form of huge bright yellow arcade cabinets thanks to Atari.    

Do people still play pong?  Yes.  Atari has a Pong pack available as part of it's Greatest Hits for mobile devices and the cabinets are still around.  The hubs and I played on one a couple of years back at the Strong Museum.  Just tonight, I played a version at  (presumably a version very close to the original as it kept freezing on me.)  Regardless, I highly recommend you reminisce.  And, if you have never played Pong before, by all means, now is your chance.

On to Below the Root.  It was released on "flashback floppy" for IBM PC, Commodore 64 and Apple II.  Categorized as a single player adventure game, it was based on a trilogy of novels written just a few years prior.  I am pretty sure Brenda may have been the only person to play this game, but if that were actually the case a lot of people missed out.  It seemed fairly intricate for 1984.  For instance, you could choose to play as one of five characters (of two separate races) each with different abilities.  The graphics weren't bad for their day either.  This is what the game looked like:

Do people still play Below the Root?  Brenda has an iPad now so my guess is no. 

Time for Tetris!  I love Tetris.  My passion was renewed just tonight when I played it again for the first time.  Born in 1984 in Russia, Tetris came to American PC's in 1987.  Then, in 1989, Nintendo (who by then owned the exclusive handheld rights to the game) bundled their brand new Gameboy device with the classic (and sold 35 million of them.)  

As soon as I uttered the word "Tetris" tonight, the hubs was up the stairs (and back down) in a flash, both original Gameboy and Tetris cartridge in hand.  Game on.  Well, first he had to gingerly remove the acid coated AA's.  And then he realized he had grabbed Metroid by mistake (or was it?)  Long story short, I played Tetris tonight!  Twice!  My high score was Level 11 and 34,847 points.  As crazy as it may be, as soon as I post this, I might enjoy another round.  The juxtaposition of playing Tetris on the original Gameboy while my husband plays Skyrim on the 360 is kinda groovy.

Do people still play Tetris?  Abso-friggin-lutely!  They also still play "Korobeiniki" the 19th century Russian folk song more popularly known as Type A Tetris Theme Music.  I found (and listened to) renditions on the following instruments: piano, ukelele, laser harp, church organ, glass bottles and cell phone.  Then there is the rock remix.  Ah, the internet.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Gameplay vs. graphics - (Mark C.)

I am having trouble focusing on the post for tonight because I am mesmerized by the fire burning in our fireplace before me.  My toes are super toasty.  Don't mind me whilst I stare off into space for a bit...

Then I get to thinking (uh oh, voyeur brain on the loose.)  A fireplace fire is always beautiful.  It displays vibrant colors full of movement.  It is constantly changing and evolving.  It is powerful.  It draws us in.

But, a fire does not burn without wood.  And wood is not particularly alluring on it's own (please don't read too much into that statement.)  Dry wood is particularly mundane.  It is naked of its bark, foliage and branches.  It is gray and cracked.  But, baby does it burn. It produces the stunning show I am now considering.

What does this have to do with gameplay vs. graphics?   I am not entirely sure, exactly.  Probably nothing.

As you know, I do not play video games.  I watch video games.  However, I know full well that video games are meant to be played.  Maybe I am going out on a limb here, but what good would a video game be if it looked really beautiful, but was clunky and boring? 

Take Marla Hooch, for example.  What a hitter!  That girl could play ball.  But, based on her looks (particularly at the beginning of the movie) no man would even consider the dirt in her skirt.  She almost lost her chance to try out for the All American Girls Baseball League because she wasn't pretty. 

Yes, some video games look and play like Geena Davis or Madonna.  Immaturity may lead a young gamer to think that those types of games should be the rule rather than the exception.  Years of gaming will prove him wrong.  He will tire of gorgeous backgrounds that take a long time to load and story lines that are dull and narrow in scope.  Sure these games look amazing on his 72" flat screen television, but wouldn't it be refreshing to be with a woman who is articulate and doesn't take an hour and a half to primp to grab a bite?

Wait, what were we talking about?

Because my husband is also articulate here are a few thoughts of his on the matter (you know the actual video game stuff):

 Gameplay vs Graphics. 

Skyrim vs MW3 is a good example.  Graphics in Skyrim are rough and there are many bugs, but the gameplay is so engrossing that gamers are willing to look past it.  MW3 is beautiful, runs at 60 frames per second (makes it look smooth), but gets criticism for being a “corridor” shooter with endless spawning enemies if you don’t advance.

Other examples? 

I’m playing through Final Fantasy tactics for the third time (on my phone, no less), because I just enjoy the gameplay and leveling system so much.  It’s a 14 year old game. 

But with a game like Batman: Arkham City, you don’t have to choose.

Just to clarify, I would never advocate choosing gameplay over graphics or graphics over gameplay or settling in any way.  I am just harping on the old adage not to judge a book by its cover.  As a college professor once said (yes, at my Christian college), "Just because the prune is wrinkled doesn't mean it doesn't taste good." 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Food or cake related video game - (Brenda S.)

This topic required research.  Neither my husband nor I were well versed in such a game.  Until now...

I had heard of the "Cooking Mama" series of games for both Wii and Nintendo DS systems so I decided to start (and end) there.  My first act of serious video game research led me to YouTube where I discovered that there are approximately 63.2 different iterations of these games.  I randomly watched this trailer first:

Octopus, anyone?  And, what's with the dog? 

Anyway, I proceeded to watch video after video after video.  And then it occurred to me: I could watch video games whenever I wanted to!  I could watch games my husband would never ever play (like this one!)  I knew this blogging thing would help me grow. 

Bing!, another light bulb went off.  Maybe he would never play it, but what about me?  I reached for my iPhone and browsed the App Store as my second act of serious video game research.  Yes, indeed there were two Cooking Mama apps.  For the sake of you, my beloved readers, I sprung for the free version cleverly called "Cooking Mama Lite."

The first recipe I made was "hamburger stewed in tomato sauce" though I do not recall using any tomatoes.  My first task was to chop the onion by violently tapping the screen.  I received a "very good" accompanied by the glimmering starry anime eyes of "Mama."  I also proved skilled at moving the butter around to coat the pan.

The third step was to cook the onion, but to be careful not to let it burn.  At this, I failed.  I did not realize I must first tap the onion to put in the pan.  I spent at least 15 seconds earnestly shaking my phone to mimic stir frying an empty pan.  Mama met me with burning eyes (literally she had one small ball of fire flickering in each socket.  It was quite fabulous.  You should check it out.)

Though disheartening, it was this segment of the game that reminded me of a line from my January 1 post.  "Hurry! get the chopped veggies in the pan before the oil gets too hot."  Apparently, I am not as original as I once thought.  Or maybe the video game gods were trying to tell me something.  I kneaded and shaped the hell out of the hamburger and then returned to YouTube.  I found this:

Grocery shopping, speedy challenges, general ridiculousness...I AM a video game!  (An aside - is anyone seeing the alcohol references in these trailers?!?) 

Oh, and I also found this.  Yes, the game comes with the doll.  I will let it speak for itself, but please do not hesitate to let me know what you think. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What early childhood game does the hubs remember? - (Mark C.)

Apparently, My husband and Mark C. are in cahoots to take over my blog.  Evidence: January 1 the blog was suggested by Mark.  January 2 the blog was suggested by my husband AND was about him.  Today's post was suggested by Mark and is about the hubs yet again.  I suppose this is what I should have expected when I assigned him the duty of crafting my writing challenge list.  

In order to take back what is rightfully mine I will interview my husband for this post and wildly misrepresent his answers for my gain.  Giddy-up:

When did you first play video games?
Good question.  I don’t know.  Though I’m sure it was under the influence of my brother.  
What is one of your earliest video game memories?
I guess playing Centipede on Atari 2600.

Hmm, interesting...never heard of it.  When did you know you were an avid video gamer?
When I was willing to purchase a Nintendo 64 on launch day just to have it, even though I didn’t have enough money saved up to buy a game as well.  Thanks for spotting me, mom.  (I love this story...isn't he the cutest?!?)

Was your family supportive of your interests?
My brother was certainly supportive.  There were a few years where I was old enough to play games with him and he was still in the house.  My mom was surprisingly supportive.  She bought into the hand-eye coordination, using your brain thing.  I vividly remember a short conversation we had.
                Me: Can I watch tv?
                Mom: No
                Me: Can I play video games?
                Mom: Yes.

Do you harbor any repressed feelings regarding video games and childhood?
How should I know?  They’d be repressed, right?
Fine, good point.  Now, I know the answer to this, well maybe I don't actually, but for the people at home...please tell us, do you still own any of your childhood games/systems? (eye we go)
Question:  When does childhood end?
Systems:  All of them except the DS I recently traded in.  NES, SNES, N64, GC, Wii, original Gameboy, GB pocket, GB color, GB Advance, GB Advance SP, 3DS, Virtual Boy, Super Scope 6 (counting as a system because it is hardware), Playstation, Playstation 2.
Games:  It’s philosophical.  For current-generation games, I have no problem trading them in, and for a couple reasons.  They are readily available.  If I wanted to relive an xbox game from a few years ago, I can get it in the bargain bin at GameStop.  Also, saved games are on my hard drive now, not a cartridge.  I would have a more difficult time getting rid of my Secret of Mana cartridge with a save at the end of the game.  I have dozens of NES, SNES and Gameboy games laying around.

Do you own any other video game paraphernalia?
No. (Thank God.)  Nintendo boxers. (Which I bought him.)

How will you introduce gaming to our young ones?
Hmm.  Carefully.  As with any media, you have be aware of what your kids see.  Plus, I know it can be a slippery slope and a time-waster if not treated correctly.

Ok, so I have to admit that, in actuality, I quoted my husband nearly verbatim.  He had interesting nuggets to share  I didn't really answer Mark's question though.  Oops :)

Monday, January 2, 2012

How my husband survied a week without his 360 - (Zach L.)

I consider myself to be fairly low maintenance.  I rarely wear makeup.  I will pee in the woods.  I have gone without coffee.  Really, the only thing I won't tolerate is pulp in my orange juice.  That's just gross.

For the most part, I consider my husband to be low maintenance, too.  Though he has a well defined taste for certain things, I have never seen him pitch a fit out of inflexibility.  Which is why this blog theme (submitted nearly a week before we left on vacation) puzzled me.  Perhaps he has it worse than I realized.  Clearly, he is functional, but addicted all the same.

If you are also an avid video gamer, this is the moment in my post where you can feel free to raise your 3DS, smartphone, or other mobile device above your head with two outstretched hands, close your eyes, and lift a prayer of thanks to its creator (small c, though I suppose the big C would also be happy to hear from you so go for it.)   

So, how did he survive a week (at his mom's) without his 360?  Clearly, his iPhone helped, but I think a couple other things helped him cope.  Here they are (in my opinion):

1.Food.  My mother-in-law knows how to baby her baby (and his girls.)  On top of the normal holiday bounty, she made for us (in one day alone) french toast, Manhattan clam chowder, spaghetti and meatballs and homemade hot fudge sauce for our ice cream.

2.The Strong National Museum of Play.  If you have never been, I highly recommend it.  We took our toddler one morning and she had a blast.  She pretend-shopped at a mini Wegman's, discovered the classic magic that is a slinky, and helped build an actual keystone arch out of blocks that she could walk under.  Oh, and did I mention there was a video game exhibit?

3.Infinity Blade.  Even though the hubs brought his 3DS to play the new Professor Layton game he never turned it on.  I suppose his iPhone met his needs this week.  Regardless, one downside to mobile gaming, of course, is the inferior voyeuring it provides.  He graciously offered to show me his game and his sword and everything one night, but I had a headache.

4.Words with Friends.  Honestly, this game also added enjoyment to my week (I am part of the mobile gaming community, what?!?).  My sweet man bought be an iPhone 4s for Christmas and I am in love.  I have barely begun to fully embrace its capabilities, but I have downloaded Words with Friends.  And lost.  To my husband.  Which was made even worse when, not only did the banner of the game exclaim "You lost!", but the alert popped up with this message: "Zach L. has won.  You have lost to Zach L."  I get it!  How many times must you rub my face in it?  Sheesh.

So...who wants to play? 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

If I were a video game, which would I be and why? - (Mark C.)

This sounds like a ThinkGeek University application question.  Therefore, I shall respond in five paragraph essay format (sans the archaic double spacing).  What up Catholic prep school?!?

If I Were A Video Game, Which Would I Be And Why
By: Kristin LeFeber a.k.a. The Video Game Voyeur

Video games are an integral part of modern day society in America.  Gaming has begun to define who we are as a nation (a bunch of superheroes).  Like television, radio and other forms of entertainment, video games encourage us to pretend to be someone we are not.  I am too much of a realist.  So, If I were a video game, I would clearly be a Supermarket Sweep, WarioWare, super stay at home mom, domestic goddess speed challenge type game.

According to Wikipedia, "Supermarket Sweep is an American television game show. Part of the format was similar to other team-based quiz shows; the other part was a live-action race through a supermarket, a novel concept at the time."  I used to love watching this show.  There is nothing quite like watching a married 80's couple in matching red sweatshirts and white Keds toss eight huge fresh turkeys and seven garden hoses into a shopping cart.  Supermarket Sweep embodies my love of grocery shopping (and avoids my laundry loathing) with my love of just the right amount of cheesy.  Cheesiness that is akin to greeting cards and high-fiving or thumbs-upping.  I love all that stuff. 

Like Supermarket Sweep, the Nintendo Wii game, WarioWare, is fast paced and requires a lack of shame to succeed.  Yes, WarioWare is one of the few video games I have dared to play and it was amazing.  Again, quoting Wikipedia, "Gameplay in all WarioWare games is distinct from most other games, as they involve the player or players trying to beat the microgames (less than 5 seconds) as soon as possible. Most games present instructions in the form of  a verb and quickly drop the player into the situation where they must perform said verb."  One minute you are swinging the Wii-mote to "chop" a log, the next minute you are flapping your arms wildly to "fly".  And while fun to play, my friends, it was never lost on this voyeur how fun it is to watch (the other players look like fools.)

As I have made clear, I enjoy games that are fast paced and goofy.  These type of games reflect my personality.  It is almost impossible for me to do anything slowly.  I talk quickly, I think quickly, I move around the house in a flurry, I rarely sit still.  My tendency for speed (and silliness, too) has served me well as a mom.  Despite having two little girls, I am often out of the house earlier than planned.  If I happen to forget a bib or a snack, I can think fast and be resourceful.  When I read books, I do the voices.  When they get antsy at the store I devise quirky quips to distract their attention.  Motherhood is mostly about simply surviving each new challenge as it comes along, after all.

In conclusion, if I were a video game I would be a non-stop series of mini and micro games that (using Wii or Kinect type technology) require the player to perform domestically related tasks as quickly as possible.  Quick! mix the formula before the infant cries.  Hurry! get the chopped veggies in the pan before the oil gets too hot.  Run! collect the recycling before the truck pulls away.  Earn rewards for each stage of games completed such as lattes, minutes lying on the couch and maybe even manicures.  Video games have become a big part of our culture.  Embrace them by becoming one.  It's fun.