Category: Uncategorized


I’m still alive!

I just haven’t had the motivation to write anything as of late. Be expecting some work!

 

See! ALIVE.

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Ok, so I”ve been away for a long while,  and I want to apologize from the bottom of my heart. I’ve been in a gaming, writing, artistic slump lately with little to no motivation.  Recently, my husband, Fred, and myself had been working on painting a sign for a local haunted house (I would show a picture, but it’s against the rules, and if we break the rules, we get chased down in an old timey car while someone shoots a Tommy Gun out from the passenger side window whilst screaming “AAAAAHHHHHH”). We volunteer for the haunted house because the proceeds benefit our local humane society.  Working on that painting motivated me to get back into the hobbies I once thoroughly enjoyed, writing being one of them.

I haven’t really gone into detail about what my daily life is like other than playing video games and nerding out over, well, everything.  I figured I would highlight an individual that has taught me a fair amount the past three years. So, it’s my pleasure to introduce….

Dublin

Dublin is my four year old Miniature Schnauzer that just so happened to find us by chance.   Sometimes, I think timing and location is a beautiful and magical thing. You’ll see why as I begin to tell you Dublin’s story.

At the time, Fred and I were engaged. I was attending Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana at the time, so our relationship consisted of a lot of  visits, phone calls and IM chats.  I honestly can’t remember if this was a phone call or an IM message, but I remember him telling me to check out his blog so I could see how his lunch went that afternoon.  Naturally, I would check his blog. How else was I to know about his wild, sexy parties? Anyway, he also sent me a text message that contained a picture of this brown, dirty ball. Fred’s words were, “Do you want to keep him?” Well, I haven’t read his blog yet, and I had no idea what the hell this is – a wookie? A dog? A pile of mold that turned into penicillin (which I’m allergic to)? I go to his blog and read his entry:

…as I’m opening the gate and realize there’s a Bloodhound and a … (gotta look up the breed, please hold)….
possibly a Havanese or something similar.  Anyway, the hound is pretty well healthy, very friendly… likes to jump up (note: need to take coat to dry cleaner), but the little dog is very skittish and won’t really come near me.  I hook him [Bloodhound] up, and start trying to catch the other one. He takes off, out of the yard, so I just decide to let him go. At that, I back the truck up and start to leave, and sure enough, he runs back in the yard.

I take that opportunity to shut the gate. I do that, and see that the hound is standing in the front seat of the truck, I go to shorten the leash and notice that there’s a tag riveted to his collar (the little dog has no collar; he’d also been out long enough that he was dirty and smelly and his hair had grown over his eyes). There’s a name and number, but no answer at the number. Ok, 1 dog down. I’m still going to get the little dog and take him to the shelter after I take the hound home. It takes me ….. forever….. to get him. Around the garage, around the house, around the truck, around the garage again… never letting me close enough to even touch him. Finally, he goes in the pen. At least now, I can keep him somewhat contained, and maybe catch him more easily. Oh, I hadn’t mentioned that somewhere in the midst of chasing him, I went inside and got some lunch meat from the fridge. So I’m trying to tempt him with ham, and he wants none of it. He’s shaking (probably from fear) and running from me every chance he gets. I try blocking off one side of the dog house so he can’t get away from me, but he runs right through the little barricade that I made.”

To make a longer story short,  Fred saw that in the pen where they both got loose was a holeHe puts a trash can over the hole so they won’t escape again.  After he got off work, he stopped by the owner’s house to make sure the Bloodhound was still in the yard. Amidst conversation, Fred mentioned that I would like to have another dog. The owner of the Bloodhound couldn’t give up the little fearful, brown mop any quicker. Fred found out that mop dog was named Ollie, and Ollie is a Miniature Schnauzer.  First, let’s see what ‘Ollie’ looked like when Fred brought him home.


This is the picture Fred sent me asking if I wanted to keep him. When Fred told me the whole story, I couldn’t say no. That evening, Fred tried his hardest to trim him and clean him up. I remember Fred stating that he smelled awful – similar to a landfill if I recall the analogy correctly. Based on what Fred learned and observed over time, the owners of  ‘Ollie’ didn’t attempt to train him or socialize him properly. Their solution? Throw him in a pen full of bloodhounds and he’ll adjust just fine. Upon trimming him, Fred discovered multiple scars over his body, an approximate 1.5″ long by .5″ scar on his forehead and a huge chunk missing out of his ear. It was evident by his behavior and physical issues that he was severely neglected, and I would say abused just based on the laziness of not training him properly. Fred was trimming him and realized some blood on his hand. Poor ‘Ollie’ was knicked by Fred with the scissors (not on purpose), and he didn’t make a sound or even move. He was just that terrified of people.

That weekend, I came up to visit from college. This was my first time meeting ‘Ollie’ which I thought that name didn’t fit him, so I was on a mission to change his name. Anyway,  he was more of a mess than I thought.  I couldn’t get near him without him bearing his pearly whites at me.  I educated myself on fearful dogs and practiced positive reinforcement with him. It was a bit difficult. I don’t think he even remembers being in a home environment, so furniture, appliances, and household noises were all foreign to him, scaring him even more. His new name became Dublin, something so fitting for him and a place where I dream to visit one of these years. I sometimes call him Sir Esquire Dublin Strohm because it sounds so badass.

He was still a bit unsure of us at this time.

As hours turned into days and days into months, months into years, Dublin finally came around. Clicker training helped a lot with him along with him becoming buddies with our other two dogs, Grimm and Buddy.  The first time he grasped the command ‘Sit’, I jumped for joy on the inside. If I physically jumped, I had the chance of scaring him and regressing his behavior, something we didn’t want. Once he grasped sit, he learned lay down.  After lay down, he learned up, and after up, he halfway learned how to dance.  He’s still having issues with dance because I think he realizes he is halfway walking on two legs, gets surprised, startles himself, then falls down.

Sir Esquire Dublin Strohm

Two years after he found us, he came up to me yearning for attention for the first time.  This was a major milestone for him since he’s not the cuddly, holding type. He doesn’t even really play with toys since he’s a bit unsure of them. The moment he walked up to me, I cried.  After two years of constant work, he can finally trust people.  Fast forward another year, and I’m woken up by him nearly every morning – his little mustache brushing against my face or his paw gently embracing my arm, leg, or butt, pretty much whatever is handy. When I come home from work, his stubby tail is moving so fast that it shakes the whole lower half of his body.  It’s odd to think that three years ago, he hated my guts. I couldn’t even get within ten feet of him, let alone pet him.  Now, he has to follow me wherever I go. When we visit my family, he has to sleep either in my bed or to the right of it.

I often wonder the ‘what if’s’ with Dublin. What if Fred hadn’t come home from lunch that day? What if Fred didn’t have the patience or perseverance to try to catch Dublin? What caused the dogs to dig a hole out of their penned area? Regardless, the luck of Dublin finding our house with a huge fenced in yard and the chances of Fred coming home to see them just make me think that timing and location is truly a form of magic that we just don’t pay much attention to, if at all.

I chose to write about Dublin because he taught me the virtue of patience. Because of him, Fred and I now foster feral, fearful/fear aggressive dogs, and dogs that are just a bit introverted. The patience carries from the fosters all the way over to daily life.  Through all the frustrations, Dublin has taught me that even though you may die repeatedly after a battle in a game, you can’t just give up. Keep trying until you finish that dude that’s wielding that giant sword and breathing fire out his mouth while drinking an ice cold craft beer. He can’t be that bad, can he?

Sir Esquire Dublin Strohm and your's truly

Happy Birthday, Grandpa!

Instead of writing an entry on a game I recently finished,  I figured I’d give a tribute to my grandfather.

He’s the one that stepped into my life and acted like my father. I’m eternally grateful for that. If he didn’t, I wouldn’t have most of the values I carry with me today. If you read one of my first entries, he’s also the one that started me on video games. He not only supported my hobby – he played with me as well. When I was younger, he would take it easy on me and pretend that he fell off the edge or that he died. As I got older, it became a competition – friendly, not angry 🙂

So Papa, this is for you. You turned me into the gamer I am today. You also shaped me into the woman I am today. I don’t know what I would of done without you.  I hate that you were taken from myself and my family nearly four years ago, but I know you’re watching over us. I love you.

I work and participate in an industry that’s usually dominated by males between the ages of 16 and 34.  Personally, I like saying that I’m that small percentage of women that participate in this activity.  I am by no means a professional, but I do consider myself above average in some areas.  If you think I’m talking about racing cars, you’re wrong. I’m talking about video games! That’s right! Let me give you a brief background on when I started playing.

I remember receiving my first console, a Nintendo, on my fourth birthday with my own television. One of the first games I recall opening as a gift was in fact, Barbie.

"A Glamorous Quest Full of Magic, Fun, and Adventure!"

I honestly didn’t know what to do other than play the game.  I remember playing it, but I didn’t get the enjoyment out of it that I was expecting.  I remember dodging some water fountains in a mall, throwing a ball to a dog so he could close a hatch,  some evil ice cream cones, and some REALLY irritated music notes and vinyl records. For some reason, this type of game didn’t fancy me at all.  My grandfather, who was a major influence in my life and is also the blame for making me a tomboy, noticed this.  He decided to rectify the situation the best that he could; Contra and Metroid were now in my possession thanks to good ‘ol Grandpa!

CONTRAAAAA

Samus!!!

To make a longer story short, Grandpa also got me hooked on the Final Fantasies, Silent Hills, Resident Evils – you name  a game, he has probably helped me retrieve it in some shape or form (legally of course).  Now, let’s get to the heart of the article.

I was chatting in IRC with a friend from a forum I belong to, and he sent me this link that he thought would peak my interest.  He was indeed correct!  The link contained an article written by Petter C. Beller of http://www.forbes.com/ on July 6th, 2009. The title is Female Gamers on the Rise. Ok. I think I’ll give this a read even though it’s rather short.  Little did I know that I would be marking this article up and down with a pen like a graduate student taking notes for their thesis.  Now, I do feel that I’m slightly biased when I reviewed this article as I am not your typical female, and I’ve been playing video games for twenty one years.  I still figured I would share my initial feelings when I read it.

The beginning of the article states that when you get on ‘online shooter games like Call of Duty or Battlefield:2142′ you hardly hear a female voice. I would have to agree with that. You usually hear a teenage male playing the game while breathing heavily into his mic without even realizing it.  That first paragraph of the article is something I completely agree with, however, the rest of the article just stung me in the wrong places.

We move forward:

Much of that rise is likely due to the popularity of the Nintendo Wii…console is easy to use.”

*Looks around* What? So, you think that other females can’t figure out how to use an XBox 360 or a PlayStation 3? The controls are too difficult? That statement rubbed me the wrong way. It made me feel like the Wii is the dumbed down version of a console for a female.  There might be some more hand-eye coordination involved in some games that are console specific, but I feel that any person is intelligent enough to figure out how to operate a controller for multiple consoles.  It just takes practice like anything else.  A professional basketball player isn’t pulled from an alley to be expected to know all of the teams plays in less than a day, are they?  Also, yes there are some girlie games available for the Wii, but I honestly don’t think that was Nintendo’s target. Nintendo wanted to make a family, friendly console that can make an activity a fun, physical experience for everyone.  I feel that family bonding was the main reason behind the creation of the Wii and some, if not all,  of the games.

…Wii is attractive to females…because of the ban on sexist material and graphic violence in games that play on its hardware.”

Ok. I admit. The amount of boobie physics can get a bit annoying, but after due time, you ignore it. You may say “Wow! Her boobs are as big as her head!” then it’s ignored.  Even though there are tons of family friendly games for the Wii, there are also not so family friendly games. I wouldn’t say there is a ban on them. No More Heroes is a great example. He uses a fluorescent bulb as his weapon, and he charges it in a rather phallic manner.  Dead Space, Obscure: The Aftermath, Silent Hill:Shattered Memories…all of these aren’t exactly family/’female’ friendly games.  I think this statement just bothered me because he made it sound like there were no mature rated games for the Wii.

 

Is that your weapon, or are you excited to see me?

“…Nintendo DS…started to attract female gamers earlier this decade…started to attract female gamers  with games such as Nintendogs which was specifically targeted to girls. The title simulates caring for a pet…can take their pets on walks.”

I can agree with this partially. I also feel that the Nintendo DS was the new revolution for handheld /  portable games and the touch screen.  Nintendogs aimed at girls? I felt it was aimed toward smaller children, but that’s just my opinion. One other huge revolution to think about was Tamagotchi. Who didn’t have one? Seriously?! You didn’t?! Oh man. I’ll let you borrow mine. I still have it!! I remember Tamagotchi was a huge success, and everyone (I mean EVERYONE) had one at my elementary school. Boys and girls alike! What if Mom and Dad don’t want you to have a real pet because you’re too young to assume responsibility? What if they find Nintendogs an outlet to any child to learn responsibility of taking care of a pet? (That’s the responsible pet owner in me).  I feel that Nintendogs and Tamagotchi were created to help assume responsibility of a living being.  Also, they’re pretty fun.

This is exactly what mine looks like.

Ubisoft…made Imagine games – a line that includes activities like babysitting, ballet, cooking…”

Okokok…hold on. Really? Yes, they sold a ton of copies within that line of games, but this made me feel like all girls should learn domestic or girl-like activities. Stereotype much? However, I’m also biting my own tongue with that statement. What if the parent wants the child to learn responsibility through simulation babysitting and cooking? Warning: Biased Ashley – While growing up, I don’t think I had a single game on babysitting or cooking. I turned out fine.  My cooking hasn’t killed anyone yet. Here I am, playing games that icky boys play, and I think my survival skill is up there.  Anyway, I guess I’m saying that if they make games like this, why don’t they make games for males on how to get a girlfriend or how to slam dunk or how to fix cars?  *shrug*

” ‘I think the biggest obstacle to growing the female gaming community is the trash talk that goes on in the online area,’ says Michael Pachter, analyst for Wedbush Morgan.”

I admit, I’m not the type of gamer to get my headset on and talk to a bunch of random people. I usually get my headset on to talk with some friends in a private party or private chat. Usually, when a female voice comes on, most of the male gamers can’t believe a person with a vagina has entered the gaming realm dominated by males.  Granted, I do put my headset on when I whooped up on them just to get some bragging rights. Everyone loves bragging rights…right?  Trash talk is an obstacle for any level headed, mature gamer.  It’s just super easy to mute them.

If you couldn’t tell,  this article rubbed me the wrong way, and I felt completely insulted.  To me, his article seemed a bit sexist.  I also may seem a bit biased since I’ve been playing games for a decent amount of time, but would another girl with gaming experience feel that way, too? I am in no way dissing the Wii since I personally enjoy some of the games that are Wii exclusive.

A few things that I felt could have been pointed out in this article:

  1. The term gamers could of been defined better. Gamers can be PC gamers, LARPer’s, tabletop gamers, and console gamers. How about gals that fall into those categories?
  2. Each console has a different association with a group of individuals. The Wii and Kinect (in my opinion) are geared toward families and or active individuals,  not necessarily one sex.
  3. There are games for every console that can fit different interest groups.  Want to ride some horses at your stable? My Horse and Me is for nearly every console (even PS2!).  Want to shoot some heads? There are a great handful of FPS’s for all consoles.  RTS’s? There’s a ton of the PC, and even more are starting to arise on consoles!

Yes, there are some females that play the games mentioned earlier in the post. I think the author of the article just approached his audience in an ill chosen manner.  Females that fit outside of this ‘criteria’ may find this article offensive and irksome. I know this is a subject I will touching on again in the near future, so watch out!

-Ash, a.k.a. TAGCDove