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    • Video Game Review: American McGee’s Alice
      After the recent release of “Alice: Madness Returns,” I  picked up a copy. With each copy, console gamers also got a free download of  the original “American McGee’s Alice.” Before playing the new Alice, I had to  go back and beat the original again. While many things were just as I had  remembered, I’m glad […]
    • Video Game Rant: Donkey Kong Country Returns
      One of my favorite games of all time is Donkey Kong Country 1 and 2. When I heard they were making a new one, I was super excited, but also somewhat skeptical. So a few months ago, I picked up a copy of Donkey Kong Country Returns to try out the new game. My fiancee also joined […]
    • Scott Pilgrim Versus the World: Movie Review
       (Warning: some spoilers) When they decided to turn this Canadian comic into a movie, I’m not sure they were aware of what a cult smash hit this would be. Topping the charts for Blu-rays on the first day it was released on home video, it’s also been on several top ten lists. It appeals to […]
    • Good Kitty: WoW Feral Cat DPS Rotation
      ***Note: this information is from before Cataclysm. There have been major changes to the class. See my sources below for more updated information.*** When I rolled Druid on the first character I legitimately got to level 80, I didn’t know what I was getting into. I leveled Feral Cat, and when I hit 80, I realized […]
    • Finding a Job
      This is a digression from my usual topics, but I wanted to share some of my strategies with other unemployed or soon to be unemployed people out there. My job search has been the focus of my free time lately, so I figured it would be the perfect topic for my next post. 1)      Assess […]
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Finding a Job


This is a digression from my usual topics, but I wanted to share some of my strategies with other unemployed or soon to be unemployed people out there. My job search has been the focus of my free time lately, so I figured it would be the perfect topic for my next post.

1)      Assess yourself.

The first thing you should do when looking for a job is decide what you want from a job and what you have to offer. What skills do you have? What have you learned and gained from previous jobs/experiences? What do you want to learn? Where do you want to go from here? Identify a few possible career paths that sound interesting to you, and come up with first steps to getting on that path or determining if these paths may work for you.

2)      Develop your resume.

Take your self assessment and apply it to your resume. Include relevant details like professional development, related coursework, outside interests to diversify your resume, nonprofit work, international experience, etc. Look for job templates online, and make sure your formatting is logical and not distracting. Don’t forget about making custom cover letters too!

3)      Broaden your job search.

Include newspapers, classifieds, online searches, and databases. Sign up for online searches to send you job updates right to your email. Ask friends and family to let you know if they hear of anything, and go back to your college’s career center if available. Social media is a great new way to make contacts, and while networking sounds like a dirty word, there are ways to do it that are less pushy and more about keeping your options open.

4)      Practice the interview.

Get some sample interview questions online, or draw from past experience. Practice your answers to some common questions so you sound confident, but don’t memorize them or you’ll sound too rehearsed. You can also make yourself some notes and practice on the way to the interview.

5)      Stay positive and keep trying.

Don’t use the economy as an excuse, keep looking for jobs and just keep perspective. You will find a job eventually, but it may not be exactly what you imagined. Keep looking, and if you get discouraged or feel like you’re in a rut, make a list of what you’ve been doing and brainstorm some new avenues or consider new approaches. Good luck!

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Top 5 games to play as a couple


Plus there's always rhythm games like Rock Band.

Play video games for the health of your relationship. It’s a great activity to do together—a fun, relaxing, competitive, addictive, bonding experience. It may be a habit or a hobby, a shared passion, or something you’ve never thought about before. Either way, here are some suggestions for games to play with your significant other.

Left 4 Dead

L4D is a quick and dirty zombie FPS. High customizability is a plus: choose your difficulty, play campaign or versus, play for 30-60 minutes or more, etc. Because it’s co-op, you can practice teamwork, cooperation, and communication. Isn’t every guy’s fantasy to save his girl from a Hunter pounce, the whole knight in shining armor thing?

Dokapon Kingdom

For more on this underlooked party game, click here. A little healthy and fun competition can be a good test of your sense of humor. And you can play two player versus bots. Monopoly plus RPG equals win.

Borderlands

For more experienced players, Borderlands is another good co-op that is a bit deeper for the more narratively-inclined, and is a nice combo between the shooting fun of L4D and the overwhelming details of WoW. Check out a review of Borderlands here.

You can easily make Mario Kart a little more interesting.

Mario Party & Mario Kart

Mario games are classics; most people have played them in some form, and can easily transition into the newer versions. There is also a ton of Wii shovelware games that may serve the same purpose, such as Wii Fit or Wii Sports.

Fatal Frame

It’s like watching a scary movie, only SCARIER. In this single player survival horror, players use a camera to capture the souls of ghosts. With plenty of atmospheric tension and jump moments, you can turn the lights off and snuggle up when you get scared (then laugh when your partner screams like a girl).

Games for Guys


Hope: Because she just might want to hear about your 12th level Paladin.

I keep coming across articles about women in gaming, and a repeated topic is how to introduce women to games. What’s with the supposed hordes of guy gamers who lament their girlfriends’ unwillingness to pick up a controller or keyboard? ‘How to get your girl into gaming’ sounds like a bad romance movie to me. Should women try to get their boyfriends to start scrapbooking and sewing, since those are girl hobbies and gaming is a man hobby? ‘How to get your man to do yoga’ will be my next article. Or maybe ‘How to get your boyfriend to play video games’ would be more appropriate, considering women now outnumber men in online gaming.

Lots of sites have beaten me to gaming for guys, including WikiHow, though it seems to have been written before the joystick was invented. Wiki says: “Find a few games he likes and play the ones he is better at. Mix it up, but always go back to the game he is good at. Racing games are generally easier for you to lose at without showing it.” Purposely lose at a game just because he’s a n00b? Men are our equals, so we shouldn’t go easy or treat them any differently just because they button mash and haven’t learned any combos yet.

WikiHow has more to say: “Consider your girlfriend’s personality when picking out a game. Some girls may prefer the brightly colored, all-ages games like Katamari Damacy, Bust A Move, Lego Star Wars, Sims, or just about any Mario game. But remember that your girlfriend is an individual who could just as well go for Halo, Resident Evil, or Grand Theft Auto.”  This is exactly right. The ‘games for girls’ like Cooking Mama or Barbie Horse Adventures are just recommended based on gender stereotyped hobbies. I like cooking but would much prefer Fallout 3 over Cooking Mama, and I’m sure there are guys who watch football but aren’t Madden fanatics and love Viva Pinata.

So remember, anyone can be a gamer; you don’t need a Y chromosome to hit the Y button. A follow-up on games to play as a couple will be posted next week. Readers, what are your thoughts on introducing men (or women) to gaming?

‘Girl’ is a four letter word


I have sometimes found it a bad idea to reveal my membership of the female sex to online gamers. Sure, it’s a great way to meet gamer guys, but all that attention isn’t necessarily a good thing.

I was playing my Alliance Priest on World of Warcraft, with my boyfriend at the time sitting next to me leveling his Hordie. I was partied with some random people heading over to an instance. Some guy referred to me repeatedly as ‘man’ or ‘he,’ which got my boyfriend a bit upset, so he told me to tell the player that I was not a ‘he.’ I think this can be interpreted by some as being aggressive about one’s gender, which is understandable. Most men would probably be offended if they were called ‘she’ by default.

One player seemed to think that since I was a girl, I would need all the help I could get, so he made it his job to protect me in the raid group. And since I was seemingly offended by ‘he,’ rather than just calling me ‘she,’ I became ‘honey’ or ‘sweetie.’ This didn’t go over too well with me, and it was even worse for my boyfriend.

He felt he had to defend my honor, so he logged onto his high level Horde Tauren Warrior (a most imposing figure) and proceeded to chase us down. Our lower level raiding party was ambushed by a very angry Tauren on a PvP server, though of course the Allies had no idea why.

Some random players came in to the fight, so it developed into a kind of faction war. The Hordies and Allies fought to the death in a prolonged epic battle. I was healing my Tauren “champion” and my allies. Amazingly, in the end we managed to put down the mad cow. I then explained to my party members that the rampaging bull was my boyfriend, and that he was sitting right next to me.

That’s why it’s easier to just let people think I’m a guy when playing online. No stereotypes, no pet names, no being looked down on. Sometimes it’s just easier to let others believe what they want.

But I wonder… is it right? Should I politely correct others if they make the easy mistake of assuming I’m a guy? I’m not ashamed of being a female gamer; in fact I’m quite proud of it, so why should I feel the need to hide my gender?  If more female gamers were open about their gender, maybe male gamers would become more comfortable with encountering us. Perhaps my mistake was in letting the insult stand and in letting my boyfriend defend me. I should have stood up for my gender as equal to his, rather than ignoring his attitude. If someone called me ‘honey’ in such a derogatory manner in real life, I would be offended.

Readers, is it better to ignore sexism or try to correct it?

Why do you WoW?


I am an RPG lover. I’ve been through conventional ones and dual class RPGs, including Diablo 2, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, Borderlands, Dokapon Kingdom, and recently World of Warcraft. Yeah, I used to be big into WoW, I leveled a character up to level 40 before I had to quit.

And now? I’ve been playing for 2 weeks, and I’m already level 38 on my Night Elf Druid. That was basically 3 days worth of playing. Nonstop. I did occasionally eat food and sleep, but I thought about WoW, and ate while I played. Soon, the addiction will fully take over, and I will be playing every spare moment, doing dailies and raiding and re-specing and…

So why is it so hard to stop playing? I’ve tried to figure out what makes WoW so addicting. It’s not the plot for me, or the characters. It’s definitely not the amazing combat; fighting is fun, but I’m not into PvP and I’m not big enough to raid yet.

My theory on why WoW is so addicting is threefold. One, the escape from reality afforded by most games. Monotonous questing and killing is a great way to blow off steam and relax with some menial task, like knitting or cleaning. RPGs are good for this, and WoW does the RPG bit right, with good leveling, abilities, and talents.

Two, you can be a total noob and still make progress, especially if you’re a twink, or on a private server. (Jk.)

Three, the people make it fun. On private servers, there are not enough people to do real raids, and the guilds aren’t terribly active. On official, there is a definite community, with a working auction house that always has nice stuff, and people to raid with (not just random puggers). It is a massively multiplayer RPG for a reason, and I think this must be the main reason.

This is a game that is meant to be played with others, often because 1 character can’t do it all. You can’t tank and heal and do DPS, not and do them all well. Even my druid can’t do as much as I can with my rogue partner. By myself, I can take 1 guy at a time, but with my boyfriend on his rogue as a leveling partner, we can take 4 mobs at once.

So I have a question for any readers out there. Do you WoW? Why do you WoW? Why do you continue the meaningless quests, the mindless leveling? Is it your character, the sense of accomplishment (or Achievement whoring), the adorable Murlocs—what makes you keep coming back?

Student Diplomat Video Contest Entry


NAFSA sponsored their 2009 Student Diplomat Video Contest for students who are studying abroad or who have studied abroad. The deadline was today, so I posted my video submission about my experiences in Japan at Kansai Gaidai University and entered it in the contest. Here it is for your viewing enoyment. If it gets into the finals, you can vote and help me win (not like I’m betting on that, but at least I’ve got a shot at the $300 pot).

http://www.youtube.com/group/studentdiplomat#p/r/0/Rh-he653Dec

College Life


College.Where to begin? I spent nearly 4 years at a small liberal arts college in Tennessee. I was an unusual student for Maryville College. I was from out of state, I was intent on studying abroad, I ended up as a commuter, and I knew exactly what I wanted to major in the moment I set foot on campus. My case might not be the typical college student experience, but everyone’s got a different story to tell, so here’s mine, in a much abbreviated version.

You have to learn some things that really don’t help you much later in life. Living in the same room with a total stranger? Not helpful. Forcing down nearly inedible food? Useful in rare situations. But learning how to articulate your thoughts orally and in writing? Invaluable. Learning about how diseases spread and mutate? Fascinating. Learning a second language? Culturally and vocationally relevant. You have to be prepared to learn some lessons that will serve you well, and some that may not serve much purpose, but remember that you can’t always tell the difference until later.

I’ve lived in a dorm, eaten crappy dorm food, had some unfortunate roommates, made friends, wrote papers, crammed for tests, took road trips, moved off campus, studied abroad, led a club, had an internship, wrote a thesis, and, finally, graduated. But now, looking back, I think college is more about little, seemingly unimportant things, than milestones. It’s staying up til 3 am with friends and laughing at nothing. It’s missing your pets from home. It’s getting frustrated over formatting and editing one paper all day.

College is not something that you should feel like you have to figure out how to survive, that you need to somehow push through and just struggle on until graduation. It teaches you how to survive. Some things are sink or swim, some are about stress management, some are about how to have fun. So don’t just survive. Succeed. And make sure that you do these three things: listen to the teacher, learn something new, and have fun.