Happy New Year Everyone!: How The World Celebrated the New Year

I promised my friends that I would put up these awesome pictures from our New Year’s celebration on our Minecraft Server, The World.

Apparently zombies come in two sizes: scary and HOLY SHIT WHAT IS THAT AND HOW DO I KILL IT.

Apparently zombies come in two sizes: scary and HOLY SHIT WHAT IS THAT AND HOW DO I KILL IT.

Why are we here again? Oh, look! Ham!

Why are we here again? Oh, look! Ham!

Fireworks!

Fireworks!

OMG FIREWORKS!

OMG FIREWORKS!

Extremely accurate.

Karen Zgoda, LMSW

UPDATE January 28, 2014: Now available in doll form! Courtesy of reader Deanna Foster who writes, “A very good friend of mine is doing her PhD, and I was inspired by your blog to give her a “Graduate School Barbie” for Christmas. I made some modifications to a barbie I picked up at WalMart. She really enjoyed it – thanks for your blog post!”

xmas2013 A

xmas2013 C

xmas2013 B

UPDATE November 26, 2013: Now available at the USA Today!

UPDATE November 4, 2013: Now available at the Huffington Post!

UPDATE August 8, 2013: Currently this post is at ~300,000 views (298,742 to be exact). THANK YOU INTERNET!

UPDATE December 6, 2012: Folks, I am deeply humbled by the attention this post has received. Here are recent stats:

IMG_1772

Welcome!! Over 48,000 of you, most likely current or former graduate students, stopped by to say hi and laugh just yesterday alone. Most of you found…

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I’m back! For now!

So since graduating from Pitt in August, I have not been around much, but here are some updates:

1. I now have a Masters of Library and Information Science! YAY!

I have the piece of paper that I paid A LOT of money for… still hasn’t hit me yet…

2. I got ENGAGED 😀 I never thought that I would get to marry my best friend 😀

Now I get to plan my wedding! … This is already causing arguments with my family… NO CHURCH.

3. I play a lot of video games. Unemployment affords me this luxury, but I do not collect unemployment.

So far I have played: more Fallout, Mine Craft, Skyrim, and… Super Mario Galaxy which I hate.

4. I GOT A JOB! Which I have not started yet… Soon though… soon…

I’m not allowed to disclose any details about it, but I can work from home! Woot!

5. Being a grownup sucks.

Now I get to pay back all of my loans! … -___-

I actually decided to post tonight because I wanted to share some interesting screen shots from a Mine Craft server that I play on:

What are they all looking at?

Wolfies like ham…

This might end badly… FYI this is a shot from the destruction of part of our server that no one played on anymore…

More to come soon! 😀

Opinion: Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn Trailer

Over the weekend, while Comic Con went through the motions, 343 and Xbox released a trailer for something that Bungie had been playing around with for years: a live action prelude to Halo 4. Forward Unto Dawn caused part of the fanbase to squeal with excitement:

Now this is NOT the first time that Halo has been attached to live action cinema. If anyone remembers the trailers for Halo Reach and ODST a few years ago (CHALLENGE Try to watch them all without crying. I sure as hell can’t. They’re beautiful.):

And finally, the trailer for Halo 4 which was released at E3 2012 was a partial live action:

This is something that has steadily been increasing in popularity for years. I believe that the reason behind this trend has been that when you attach a REAL human face to something, it just makes it easier to relate to them. The emotional and psychological connection which we create becomes stronger when we  are presented with real human faces.

However, after watching the trailer for Forward Unto Dawn, I feel slightly disappointed. It’s like they ripped off Starship Troopers, especially with the NOW KISS scene halfway through. Actually, what I found to be the most disappointing was the whole NOW KISS thing. I hate that! There’s no romance in Halo! KEEP YOUR MUSHY CRAP OUT OF MY HALO 343!

NOW KISS!

The whole idea of a live action series is titillating as far as Halo is concerned, but this seemed a little slapped together. The acting from what I have seen sucks. Also, why is Master Chief so freaking shiny? Master Chief’s armor isn’t shiny especially since his armor is supposed to have the scars of battle. Plus it makes him look even more bad ass.

Seriously, it’s odd that I like the short live action trailers better than Forward Unto Dawn. It’s the promise of a brand new dimension in the Halo universe, but I feel let down by it. It’s just now as gritty as the other ones. What happened 343? Seriously?

So what are you thoughts on Forward Unto Dawn? Are you happy with what you have seen so far or do you think that 343 has some room for improvement? Tell me in the comments below.

 

343 may have “plans” for a high def Halo 2

So I know that ya’ll remember the Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary edition which was released by 343 last year. Today, Kotaku is reporting that 343 may have plans for a high definition Halo 2.

The latest issue of Official Xbox Magazine UK says that 343 Industries, maker of last year’sHalo: Combat Evolved Anniversary (and, of course, this year’s all-new Halo 4), has similar plans for Halo 2.

“Following the success of remake Halo Anniversary, 343 Industries has now started development of Halo 2 Anniversary,” the magazine says in its rumors section. No sourcing or other details are given.

Asked about the rumor, a Microsoft spokesman told Kotaku: “Our focus right now is on developing Halo 4. Beyond that, we do not comment on rumors or speculation.”

If they are going to remake Halo 2, I think that many of us will be on board. The original Halo 2 was chock full of cutting edge graphics when it was released by Bungie back in the early 2000s. While the game has aged well, it would be nice to see it with high definition graphics. It would be like breathing new life into it.

So, do ya’ll agree? Or do you have other opinions?

Re: Opinion: Video Games and Male Gaze – are we men or boys?

Today my attention was drawn to an article called “Video Games and Male Gaze – are we men or boys?” This article raises a real issue in my book about how women are portrayed in video games, especially in the recent trailer for the popular Hitman franchise, where some scantily clad nuns are dispatched by Agent 47.

I don’t want to sound like a bleeding heart when I say this, but I’m tired of seeing so many boobs and butts in video games. Some would argue a sort of Camille Paglia argument, saying that these women are sexual conquerors. They are able to control hetero-sexual men (and sometimes lesbians) with their bodies. I understand that when game developers do this they are trying to attract their primary audience, which are heterosexual males, but what about the rest of us?

Does anyone else remember feeling embarrassed while playing Soul Calibur II when Ivy’s boobs and butt are submitted to ridiculous jiggling fits every time she moves?

Frankly, that looks uncomfortable.

But I understand what Brandon Sheffield is saying about the “Male Gaze” in movies and video games. The Male Gaze is used to purposefully draw attention to a woman’s curves, whether she is real or fictional. But I have a major problem with the Male Gaze.

I feel like game developers are forgetting that women make up a large portion of the market and that we’re not going anywhere. We’re slightly more eclectic when it comes to games. We’ll play anything, even though developers are under the impression that we’d rather play games like Cooking MamaThe Sims, or Harvest Moon they need to move past this. We DO play games like Halo Reach and my biggest beef with that game was the size of my character’s butt.

But as my friend said: “You’re an eight foot tall Spartan. You’re gonna have a big ass.”

It seems that I’m not the only one who noticed the “largeness” or the female Spartan butt though…

People say that even though these women have on very little clothing, they should be figures that women admire because of their strength. I’m sorry but I do NOT admire Lara Croft. I feel embarrassed for her.

She’s hot but I wish they would dress her better.

Young women need role models and they’re not going to find them in video games, especially when the development of female characters is so focused on the so-called “Male Gaze.”

 

And let me put it out there that I don’t think it’s wrong for men to look at women. That’s fine. Men can look and women look too. It’s the elementary stages of new life, but I still feel embarrassed with the proliferation of lady parts in video games.

I want to know something right now, are you there to play video games or are you there to be aroused?

Skyrim DLC released and ME3 Extended Cut

I’m gonna keep this one short guys. I’ve been sick lately, so I haven’t had a whole lot of online time, but here are my take-aways from this week in gaming:

This week was a relatively big week in the world of video games. The new Skyrim DLC was released and so far I have heard some good things about it from friends. So far I have found that the main concerns are “OMG VAMPIRES” and “should I be a vampire or should I stay with the Dawnguard?” I don’t know. I’m not hear to tell you what to do, but so far reactions have been mixed.

What I do know is that this DLC was even bigger than any of the DLCs released for the past two Fallouts. That should add A LOT of hours to your play time. This is what a proper RPG expansion should be like.

Finally I want to address the fact that BioWare finally released the extended cut of Mass Effect 3. The general consensus has been “Too Little Too Late” or tl;dr on the ME3 revisions, which is understandable. BioWare really left its fans unhappy and on top of that it gave them what they wanted entirely too late. Many of you have stopped caring.

Still, it looks PURTY:

Halo 4 at E3 through the eyes of 343

I want to start out by saying that I am a Halo fangirl. I get overly excited about Halo anything. For example, not too long ago my boyfriend and I invested in Turtle Beach Headsets to help us with our game play. When we brought them home and started playing Reach, we realized that all of our friends needed them too, so we bought a set for one of our friends for his birthday and have been prodding our other friends to get them for themselves. They make playing Halo so much better to the point that when the loading screen for Reach comes up, I cry a little.

So now that ya’ll are thoroughly creeped out, I want to share a video that 343 released recently of their experiences at E3:

343 at E3 with Halo 4

While I did, and I quote here, “cry like a little bitch” when Bungie left, I am still excited about Halo getting a make-over.

I play with a Guild or Clan called the “Atomic Wranglers” and I have to admit that when I polled them before and after E3 their reactions were worlds apart.

BEFORE E3 we were all a little whiny about what the rumor mill was saying about what was going on with the next Halo. We kept hearing and reading that it would be more like Call of Duty (which all of us make fun of btw) and that our favorite multiplayer mode, Fire Fight, would be scrapped.

AFTER E3 we’re all a little happier. The Halo 4 presentation was amazing and we’re  all excited about how 343 is reinventing and bringing new life to the game. While we will all miss Bungie, we are looking forward to the future and I hope that ya’ll will join me in looking to the future too.

What are your reactions post-E3 to Halo 4? Do you feel better or worse about the changes being made to it? Tell me in the comments below.