Another Website?!?!?!

On the way home from PAX East yesterday, Mr. Awesome-pants and I were discussing why I wanted to start a blog specifically about gaming.  I have had an awful lot of blogs over the years (currently have 5 aside from this).  The biggest question was what I would write about, and why.  I have a lot I want to talk about but mostly it comes down to these four reasons:

  1. I want to have a place to rave or rant about games I love or hate.  My current sites are not good places for that– it would completely confuse or even alienate a lot of my current readers who are definitely not gamers.  At best they would smile and nod and then wait for me to get on with blogging about my normal stuff.
  2. I want to add my female voice to what is still a mostly male dominated area so that when my girly geeklings grow up it will be easier for them to have a voice.  This is especially important to me after meeting Susan Arendt (Shamus’ awesome editor at the Escapist) and realizing just how few over 25 female gamers are out there (and me in my mid-30’s).  Most of the girl gamers out there are chicks in the child sense of the word and I want to pave the way for them even if it just means adding my voice to the few.
  3. I want to legitimize myself as a girl gamer.  Way too often the term “gamer” is associated only with those who prefer certain genre of games– say first person shooters or keeping up with the latest from Bethesda, Rockstar, or WoW or whatever an individual feels makes them a hardcore gamer.  I love puzzle games (current obsession: Professor Layton and the Unwound Future) and have wasted entire days on Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon (my daughter picked up an old Gamecube version of Harvest Moon yesterday and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.)  I am done apologizing for considering myself a gamer because I spent an entire weekend trying to beat World of Goo (which I did btw) and am currently obsessed with Walk It Out (willingly walking 3 miles just to fill in an area– yeah, that IS gaming.)
  4. Finally I want to have a place to go on about my specific passion when it comes to non-movie/tv entertainment media which includes but is not limited to games and books–the art and story, but especially the art.

As you may have guessed, the final reason is why the blog is called game-story-art.   I am not great at creative titles and wanted to get the point across quickly.  I am passionate about books and games (video, card, board, pen and paper– you name it) and I am doubly passionate about the need for excellent art and story to make these work.  Sure you can have a game that is driven solely by the mechanics of said game– chess, checkers, tic-tac-toe and on the other end of the spectrum poker, war, and plain old dice but those are not nearly as compelling as D&D, Magic: The Gathering, and The Longest Journey.  A game can have wonderful game mechanics but if the illustration style sucks you lost me.  On the other hand you can have a potentially amazing game, like Starship Titanic , and despite the shockingly horrific, crashing every 5 minutes bugs, deliberately finish the game because the art and story compel you (if someone wants to go ahead and make a patch for that game I would love you forever).  In general I would rather play an adorable game than one than one with the best game mechanics in the world.  I realize my husband Shamus Young disagrees with me slightly– to him game mechanics and intuitive play are quickly followed by story in importance, but he is a programmer and writer and I am an artist who loves to read.  The artist in me looks at a game cover and expects the story and game mechanics to fit the art. I like my games to be playable and have stopped playing games that were boring or just outright stupid (Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles comes to mind) but most important is a visually compelling game with an interesting story to tell.  I will happily play a game using the strategy guide at every step in order to play a good story with great art (like Tales of Symphonia which I never could have gotten through without the strategy guide at my side.)

So here it is.  My own personal “write about games and books” space.  I have no idea how often it will be updated and make you no promises– a lot of that depends on how often I get close to a game or read a book. 🙂


Now to go convince Shamus that he NEEDS to finish his book so he can DM for us. My assasin is desperate for some action.



15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Roberta
    Mar 15, 2011 @ 23:45:23

    So glad to see you doing this. As a girl gamer who is also a grown-up and the mother of practically grown-ups, I love other feminine perspectives on the hobby. My tastes are also varied, in electronic as well as board games, and I care about story (and to a lesser degree art) as much as mechanics in both. When I begin a new game design, I usually begin with the story- narrative is so important when you’re trying to create a memorable experience, and I love games where you come away with an epic tale.

    Current digital faves include Civ V and Torchlight, as well as a couple of iOS casual games, and analogue games I’m loving include Magic the Gathering, Puerto Rico, Pandemic, and Dominion.

    Also, your comment about Shamus needing to get on with his book so he can DM made me laugh- we have the same problem here- the Badger is too busy right now, and our shiny new characters have barely had time to try out their legs.


    • Heather
      Mar 15, 2011 @ 16:02:35

      I was going to say we don’t have Torchlight then Shamus pointed out that we do, but it is on Steam (which is why I don’t remember it– especially since when Shamus is asleep the computer is hogged by them.) Well, foo. I have mostly been using his computer to play Fairy Soiltaire because it is the only game he has right now that I can play for a few minutes and walk away from when the kids want their turn.

      I GM for the kids anytime we are in the car but that is not nearly as fun as a real game–mostly because I am not a storyteller and the kids just want hack-n-slash.


      • krellen
        Mar 18, 2011 @ 20:56:58

        And here I am, a GM with time but no players. Isn’t that always the way of things?

      • Heather
        Mar 18, 2011 @ 23:15:37

        Ah, but the guys brought over their magic cards and are teaching us how to play (since Wizards of the Coast so sweetly gave us each a pack. :))

  2. Mari
    Mar 15, 2011 @ 15:52:57

    You could be my sister, separated at birth and reunited years later. I laughed out loud about Tales of Symphonia. I was right there with you, reading the strategy guide so we could get on with the story. It might not have been the height of storytelling but it was fun and compelling enough to make me want to hear the rest despite my total inability to progress the game without help.

    I also have a hard time feeling “legit” as a gamer. Sometimes I do play the Halo or whatever games are “hardcore” but just as often I’m spending days at a time playing “fluff” like Animal Crossing and Minecraft and Chime. It’s hard to feel “hardcore” when you’re writing letters to anthropomorphic animals who speak in gibberish.

    I’m looking forward to whatever updates you do manage on this blog. Can’t wait to see what you have to say.

    And finally, yes, please make Shamus finish his book. For many reasons. First, I miss his frequent update schedule on his blog. Second, I miss him blogging about D&D. And finally, I look forward to you blogging about it, too. Until I can get a few more campaigns under the kids’ belts to mature them as gamers, vicarious gaming is as good as it gets for me since I can’t find a decent core group to game with in person.


    • Heather
      Mar 15, 2011 @ 16:15:14

      Mari, nice to finally “meet” you. Have been reading your posts on Shamus’ site for years (well, for however long you have been posting).

      I agree about Tales of Symphonia. It wasn’t an amazing story but it was compelling, different and interesting enough for the kids and I to want to keep going and see what came next. It had a very Final Fantasy feel to it (and we had just finished watching Shamus and his brother play through FFX and were longing for another similar story which it fulfilled well.)

      As far as “hardcore” games go, I was really into Diablo II and Unreal Tournament for ages but for the most part I prefer relationship based games (including Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing) as well as puzzle games (LOVED Puzzle Agent, just wish it hadn’t been so short.) I deliberately did NOT play Minecraft as I was in the middle of working on game art for Roberta’s card game and knew if I started then no work would be done. 🙂 Plus everyone else has been hogging it so I wouldn’t get a turn if I wanted one (my Ubuntu machine won’t run it regardless of how I try to make it go).

      It actually took Shamus looking at me and saying, “Of course you are a gamer– only a gamer would spend every waking hour for a week straight playing a video game, who cares if it is Harvest Moon,” for me to recognize that I was, in fact, a gamer. 🙂

      The biggest downside of having kids that are gamers is they all have different tastes so they fight over what games to play, and they ALL want to use the game systems a the same time so I seldom get a turn (I don’t push for a turn because I love what they get out of gaming and how much learning goes on there– and with 3 kids, their turns are short as it is.) And they have really been pushing for Shamus to DM for them as well. We want to do a family game but he prepares for DMing in the same manner as he writes a book– he wants to spend all his time on it and just can’t afford to right now.


  3. Badger
    Mar 15, 2011 @ 16:25:28

    Thanks for starting this, Heather- it’s going to be fun watching the conversations here!


  4. Holly
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 00:21:37

    I loved “mr. awesome pants” that was cute. I like this idea for a female gamer site. gives it a nice twist. Good picture of you also, Heather.


  5. Ryan
    Mar 17, 2011 @ 01:28:15

    Not sure if this will be down your alley but if you are into logic games I would love if you’d do a review of this game I’ve got:

    It’s the classic game of Mastermind but with a few twists.
    Let me know what you think.


    • Heather
      Mar 17, 2011 @ 11:08:40

      I don’t really write reviews but will let my kids take a look at it (they adore Mastermind) and share it with our unschooling group if they like it.


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  7. Christy
    Mar 18, 2011 @ 21:23:14

    How did I not know this about you? I have to chime in as a fellow over 30 girly gamer. Right now–when I’m not grading papers–I’m splitting my time between The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Colonization (which came on my Civ IV disc but I didn’t realize it was there for the longest time.) I am so jealousy of the poster who has Civ V. In a classic “the shoemakers children have no shoes” kind of situation, we don’t currently have a machine fast enough to play it :(. Pat has been working on putting together the pieces to build us a better machine. Once he does, that is the first game I’m going to buy. (I do sort of like being a little behind the curve because that means when I do buy the “new” to me games, they’ve come down a little in price.) Loved Portal (which I co-opted from Pat) and also loved its creepy little cake song, too.

    I’ve not come across Tales of Symphonia, but it sounds like something I’d like to check out. How graphic intensive is it? If a lot, I may have to wait until the new machine. (Is it anything like the Myst games? I had to play those with the strategy guide, but loved the way they looked.)

    One thing I would like to see more of is games with great story lines. One of my all-time favorite games was Baldur’s Gate II. Not that it had the greatest storyline, but one of the things I loved about it was that the story changed depending on your actions and who you added to your party. They weren’t huge changes, but I was really drawn to the choose-your-own-adventure feel of it. And I want to know why there aren’t more game like that (or if there are, why I don’t know about them 🙂 ). I liked Fable for some of the same reasons, but even though it was prettier, I didn’t like it as much.

    Another game I really enjoyed was A Bard’s Tale (warning, it is a bit bawdy so may not be appropriate for all gamers). It had a really sarcastic story and these odd and oddly earworm-esque musical cut scenes that tickled my funnybone. I just replayed it about 6 months ago, and loved it just as much the third time around. (Another note, we’re also still on the plain old Xbox. Someday we’ll get a newer system, probably used, but the games I really like are better on a computer you can easily patch because they never work quite right out of the box.)

    I also love the simple puzzle and card games, too. I was a big fan of Neopets for years, but last time I logged one of their pop up ads Trojaned my machine :(. We had to re-install the whole system, so I haven’t been back since.

    When I am grading papers and can’t afford to get lost in gaming, I play FreeCell. I’m trying to play all the games through in order. I have a file where I save all my progress. Yes, I am that geeky.

    Just to be a bit of a hater–all in good fun. I hate games in which you have to jump over huge abysses (especially games in which you usually don’t have to do this but then–surprise–after you’ve put in 15 or 20 hours of gameplay you suddenly have to jump over falling blocks or lava pits or down a cliff and you can move forward until you make this one ridiculously difficult jump.) Sometimes I can get Pat to do it for me (he can usually do it pretty quicky) but he isn’t always around and it can be a bit, understandably, annoying for him.

    What kind of games do you hate?


    • Heather
      Mar 18, 2011 @ 23:38:23

      Will answer better when the guys aren’t in the background playing Magic: The Gathering, the kids aren’t all in the office, and Shamus isn’t playing a rousing game of Zuma, and I am less sleepy but….. 🙂 Tales of Symphonia is an old Gamecube game. I am thinking maybe we should, you know, try to get together since compared to most of the geeky girls I know you are relatively close. 🙂 In fact the geeks are over and when I mentioned your post they were like, “Wait, you have a female friend that games in Pittsburgh and you HAVEN’T gotten together with her?!?!?!?!” Oops. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me that the girl I traded sci-fi books with in high school and who married a tech geek would game. Shamus has the gaming machine but we have a PS2, 2 Wii’s, and XBox 360, plus an old xp machine and 4 Ubuntu machines. We have Oblivion (doesn’t work on my machine). We stay behind the curb mostly because we never have the graphics card to stay ahead.

      Story line is always our thing– if you can get a hold of The Longest Journey you would love it (or we own it– just reinstalled it for the kids to play through so they knew what a decent female character looks like) so you could borrow it. (Needs at least Win 95 so you should be good. ;)) Fable was meh storywise– the kids enjoy playing Fate (too many fish for me.) Will really have to get together and I can show you what we have. You would probably like Dragon Age and Mass Effect, but not sure your computer could handle it. Diablo II is pretty fun in a hack n slash way– we have gotten way too many hours of enjoyment out of it, especially since you can play together via lan party. Not so much story but still very fun. Neopets is fun but yeah, gotta be careful there. You might look at Fallout, Jade Empire, and I will think on others.

      Jumping puzzles are evil and I got a bit behind on the first person shooters after Unreal Tournament so haven’t bothered since.


  8. SpammyV
    Apr 11, 2011 @ 02:39:45

    A bit of thread necromancy I know, but when you called out Crystal Chronicles, have you played Echoes of Time? It’s a DS entry into the series, and I thought that it was a pretty fine dungeon-crawler sort of action RPG, with an actual touching story. If you have multiple DSes in the house I highly suggest playing the co-op, but then again I think everything is better with co-op.

    Anyway the other reason that I wanted to suggest it is that a lot of the plot revolves around the woman who adopted you and raised you, and getting a mother’s eye view of it would be interesting. The climax of the game is right up there on the very short list of Scenes in Games That Made Me Cry. Unless when you write about the game rip the game to pieces, in which case I’ll ignore it to keep my memories blissful.

    Anyway, just a suggestion that I thought you might like.


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