The Workshop Helping More Girls Make Video Games

GMG2
Girls Make Games started in San Jose, California and quickly expanded into a series of international summer camps, workshops and game jams designed to encourage girls to explore the world of video games. But why is there a need for special camps just for girls? Why can’t they just go to the same ones as the boys? CEO and Founder of Learn District and Girls Make Games, Laila Shabir shed some light at the Sydney camp earlier this month.

Tech Space – Destiny Australian Launch plus hints & tips

In this episode of Tech Space Nick & I got hands on with the Destiny Beta. Visit our YouTube  to see the video description with all my Destiny hints and tips!

Could video games improve your child’s school grades?

Seth The Human playing BMO Image by What A Big Camera
Seth The Human playing BMO
Image by What A Big Camera

The answer is yes, according to the findings of a study in Argentina published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

For a period of ten weeks, 111 Buenos Aires first graders with attendance issues were given fifteen minutes of gaming time three times per week. Half of the group played games involving memory and planning skills, and half played non-specific games of the child’s choosing. During the testing period classroom work remained the same, and the teachers were not informed of the details of the study. The aim was to discover if the mental exercise involved in gaming could boost mental abilities required to do school work.

The results showed the children who played the memory and planning focused games improved so dramatically that not only did they achieve higher maths and language test scores than ever before, but they actually caught up to those students with regular attendance.

As a singular study the results cannot prove conclusively that playing certain video games can improve school grades, but it does suggest that the mental exercise from specific types of games can help enhance mental abilities for school work. Other studies have shown that fine motor, problem solving, decision making and even social skills can also be improved by playing appropriate video games.

When deciding on video games for your child, do a little reading and take a look at the skills involved to play. Those with a necessity for forward planning and a reliance on memory skills might actually help them in the classroom.

Source – Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Dear Diary…Rosie

Dear Diary,

Dreams about shooting stars, ladybugs and bandaids were still swirling though my mind as I woke up this morning.  I really need to get to bed earlier instead of playing computer games until 2am, and actually remember to eat dinner! I woke up starving, grabbed a tub of ice cream out of the fridge, and sat down at my desk. The ice cream was delicious but sweet Jesus if I didn’t shower soon I was going to start dry retching at my own armpits. I wandered out to put the empty ice cream tub in the bin, started heading in to shower when the car pool for work showed up.

Crap.

Chronic body odour aside, I had a great day at work today. I took it pretty easy since I’d worked extra hard yesterday AND read that book Nessie recommended. Looks like it paid off because I scored myself a promotion! Goodbye Rosie the Papergirl, hello Rosie the Spell Checker Checker. Yes, it is a real job. No, I didn’t know it even existed before today. Computers aren’t always right, apparently. Who knew?

I wish I could afford to hire a maid. Maybe one day soon. I got home and stared at the corner of my bare dining room for a while. I honestly couldn’t remember what I was doing. You know that theory that when you walk into a room and forget what you are doing it’s just God playing Sims with you and he cancelled your action? Haha I had one of those moments! I started conjuring up some poisoned apples while I tried to remember what I was supposed to be doing. The smell reminded me soon enough though – I needed a shower. Badly. I had a cry while I was in there. It was cathartic. Sometimes you just need to let it all out.

I dried myself off and grabbed a juice before sitting down at my computer to work on my first sci-fi novel (my first anything novel, really) “We Are Nothing But Characters In A Videogame” and before I knew it, I’d finally finished it! 152 pages of goodness, with critics comparing it to “Catch a Magic Fish, Cook a Magic Meal”. I’m so excited AND I’ll start making royalties from it soon enough. I climbed into bed at 10pm relaxed and happy for the first time since I arrived in Dragon Valley.

Blessed Be,

Rosie Daniels

Rosie Daniels eating ice cream

 

 

Dear Diary…Gerald

Dear Diary,

This is my third day in this house and I’m finding myself flying around more and more to keep myself from sinking into a depression. The mess those squatters left for me has driven me crazy, and the rats…they’re everywhere.

Today I woke up at 6:30am after an intense dream involving, unsurprisingly, rubbish.  There was also a computer, and a polar bear for some reason. I’ve never seen a polar bear in real life. I might book a trip up north one of these days.

I sat down to a lazy breakfast of juice (considering I keep burning the waffles I figured this was a safe bet) and took out yet more rubbish. Three days in and there’s still piles of stuff everywhere – the front yard looks like something from that TV show “Hoarders”. I jumped in a shower, mopped the bathroom floor (I really must get that fixed) and give Deirdre a call. She was one of the first people to come over when I first moved in, and offered to give me a hand to clean up. It’d be nice if we could hang out more.

After staring out the window and yelling at the rain for half an hour I figured it was time to get a job. I love helping people, so the medical field seemed like a reasonable choice. The only position available was for an organ donor. $22 per hour is not too bad. Act now, think later – I took the job. Then I sat there for an hour, wondering what I’d done. Hopefully I get promoted quickly – before I lose something vital.

I recycled the old paper out the front then flew around a bit to cheer myself up. It won’t be too bad. I’ve got a high pain tolerance. Things will be just fine, I’m sure of it. I decided to call my new boss, Lorna, for a chat. we spoke about work, computers…and rubbish. I flew around a bit more. I know I’m becoming dependent on that for my happiness but what’s a fairy to do?

I gave Suzie a call – I hadn’t spoken to her since meeting her that first day. We had a quick conversation about nachos, then I wandered into the lounge room to watch some TV – forgetting about the rats and rubbish in there. I can’t stop freaking out over this stuff. It stinks, it’s gross, and I just want it gone already. Damn squatters. I shooed the rats, cleaned up some of the mess and sat down to watch an action flick. I’m halfway through but couldn’t stop thinking about my new job. I really want to enter the medical profession, but do I really have to donate my organs? I called Lorna again. We ended up talking about my house. And rubbish.

I needed to get out of the house so I flew to the park nearby for a game of chess.  Jennifer Burb joined me for a match – we made some small talk about ladybugs, and how much she hates chicken drumsticks – then things got rather competitive. My logic skills were increasing by the minute, and I couldn’t stop playing. Tasha Dahl and Ava Kelly formed a cheer squad table-side. Come 2:30am Tasha went home. At 6:15am Jennifer finally passed out. I headed home – I haven’t chucked an all-nighter like that ever.

I had a quick drink of juice and climbed into bed at 8am. Luckily I don’t have to start work for another couple of days. I wonder what life in Dragon Valley will have in store for me.

Gerald Burlingame

I'm so sick of this rubbish

 

Dear Diary….Mary

Dear Diary,

Last night I had the stangest dream – chicken drumsticks, giant foam fingers, sportsballs and gardening? Yeah, okay then, weirdo brain.

So don’t judge me but I ate ice cream for breakfast. Out of the tub. Hey, at least I sat at the table! I stared out the window thinking about ghosts. I wonder how long before I’ll see one at this place? I only moved in yesterday, I give it a week LOL!

I checked the taps in the kitchen work for the 3rd time since I arrived. I hope I can shake that compulsion one day :/ I threw out my ice cream tub then climbed onto the couch for a nice lazy day in front on the TV, watching the sportsball game until lunch time, thinking about how much I’d love a boat. I don’t think the $577 in my account is going to be enough, somehow 😛

I was already sitting on the stupid toilet when I remembered I broke it yesterday. I really have to get someone in to fix it, I don’t think I’ve gagged so much in my life as I did cleaning that mess up. I checked the bathroom taps (I know, I know), jumped in a hot shower and practiced my sportsball war-cries – it was only an hour before my first day at work (I’m a “Rabid Fan” – my job description includes “Running, jumping and occasionally climbing tress” – for real) but I still had some time to fit in some more sportsball on the TV before the carpool arrived.

It was “business as usual” for my first day. I was tempted to slack off but I should probably make a good impression. Everyone asked me to stay back and clean the stadium after work, so I didn’t finish until 11pm! Everyone was super happy with me though so that kind of made it worth it.

I got home and looked at my messy bed, wishing I’d made it in the morning. Climbing into a neatly made bed is the best. Leisure day tomorrow! I might head into town, meet some neighbours. Or just watch some more TV 😛

Goodnight xx

Mary Jackson

I HAVE to make sure these sink taps work.

Dear Diary….Louis

Dear Diary,

Did I ever tell you my mother named me after a character from Stephen King’s “Pet Sematary”? The one who buries his son in cursed ground to bring him back from the dead? I don’t see my mother anymore, but can always feel her watching me. Even when I sleep.

Today  I moved into my new home in Dragon Valley. New town, new life – or at least that’s what’s they say. I would have loved to use this as an opportunity to turn my back on a life of crime, but the urge was too strong. I didn’t even get through the front door before I was thinking about my next gig.  As if on cue, the paperboy rocked up on my front doorstep. We engaged in a quick conversation about shooting stars before the little brat threw a water bomb at me. I didn’t really mind. The kid’s got spunk, I like that. He left and I checked the paper.

A local crime syndicate was advertising a position vacant for a decoy. How they can get away with advertising in such a public way I have no idea – the corruption must be rife in this place. I took the gig. $17 an hour but beggars can’t be choosers – I don’t even have furniture. I chatted on the phone with my new boss, Robin, about work, money, diamonds and roses. We seem to be getting along quite well. Over the next few hours I called him, oh, four more times? Not sure if that’s normal here but I’m a “do whatever I feel like” kinda guy.

I ventured inside for the first time, heading straight for the loo. I paced backwards and forwards in the bathroom before calling Robin again. We have a half hour chat about boxing but no amount of talking is going to get me promoted – not at this stage. I’ll have to start from the bottom here, and I really should focus on getting fitter so I don’t get stuck doing the little jobs for too long.  I jumped in a cab to the gym. I’m not even thinking about getting a car yet.

There was a kid at the door with purple hair (I forget her name) complaining about being hungry.  I’m not sure what she expected me to do about this so I ignored her and headed for the treadmill. I’m feeling kinda rusty, and luckily no-one was in the room when I fell flat on my face – the first time. Doreen Delaney got the chance to witness my 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th faceplants as she sprinted along beside me, her age belying her athleticism. That woman can run.

I was surprised to feel myself getting fitter as I ran. The clumsiness is something I definitely need to work on though –  I fell over 4 more times before I made my way to have a shower. Two hour workout. Not bad. But boy, was I ripe – If I didn’t know better I’d swear there was a trail of green stench wafting behind me.  I soaped myself up, thinking about how hungry I was. I hadn’t eaten all day.

I hailed a cab for home, hungry and tired – when I remembered I didn’t have a bed. In classic “Louis-the-Pennypincher” style, I got a cheap one. It didn’t come in grey, so green will have to do. I’m actually not too happy about that. I might have to upgrade once the money starts coming in.

I heated myself up a can of soup and ate it sitting on the toilet. It was – surprisingly – quite tasty. I used the bathroom sink to wash my plate, stripped down to my singlet and undies, and climbed into bed.

I dreamt about diamonds and disco balls.

Louis Creed

Louis Creed's first day in Dragon Valley

 

 

 

Lollipop Chainsaw Review

Lollipop Chainsaw is what you get when developer Suda51 and horror filmmaker James Gunn(who is not new to the zombie genre, having penned the screenplay for Dawn of the Dead) join forces. Featuring Juliet Starling, a zombie hunting cheerleader fighting off hordes of zombies who have invaded her hometown. This is one of those games where you either love it or hate it. And I love it.

With her boyfriend Nick’s head firmly attached to her belt (don’t worry, he’s still alive – it’s a long story) she chainsaws her way through the undead that have overrun her school on her way to meet her tutor, Morikawa. Who reveals that the Universe is divided into three realms: Earth, the Land Beyond Words, and the Rotten World, an infernal realm where demons and zombies reside. It turns out someone has cracked open a portal between Earth and the Rotten World by a combination of black magic and explosives and five rock styled demon zombies (yes, it’s a thing) demons have descended on the world.

The gameplay is pretty average, to be honest. The combat evolves as you play, stating off with a few combos and skills that increase as you go along. It does get to a point once you have learnt all the combos you can simply button-mash your way to the end. You can purchase upgrades, music and skills in “shops” places along the way.

So if the story is nothing new, and the combat is average, what are the highlights? Well, for one, the incredibly funny banter between Juliet and Nick’s severed head – who is as baffled as the audience as to what is going on here. Watching the dynamics between poor Nick and his kick-ass girlfriend is a delight to the sick minded such as myself. The soundtrack is killer (haha get it? Killer? Never mind) featuring Skrillex, Joan Jett and Children of Bodom. Plus these zombies aren’t just your average mindless stumbling corpses. They have weapons, they crawl after you if you cut off their legs and they talk back. Plus, they’re filled with sparkles and rainbows. SPARKLES AND RAINBOWS, PEOPLE.

One of the obvious things about Lollipop Chainsaw is that it is completely over the top. On the surface it seems like your typical “sexist eye candy made-for-teenage-boys” Japanese title. From the opening shower scene to the constant requests from Juilet to please “don’t look up my skirt”, to the sexist insults thrown at her by her zombie ex-classmates, it would be easy to take it at face level. Look a little deeper and you’ll find a very clever dig at those more subtly sexy games that insult the intelligence of gamers in general, regardless of gender. I’ve played almost every zombie game out there, and Lollipop Chainsaw despite it’s flaws HAS given me something new  to enjoy. I’m not saying this game is perfect, in fact it’s far from it and definitely is an acquired taste, but it’s worth a play.