Leaving the Den

Those what know me know I suffer from SAD, or seasonal affective disorder. Long story short, lack of sunlight during winter triggers seasonal depression. I have several coping mechanisms to allow necessities (like work), but it does tend to leave me hibernating for much of the winter months, like a nerdy bear.

This year’s hibernation has come to its inevitable end, and I am wandering back into the wild. That means you’ll see much more activity around the blog as I get back to the work of play. If you waited patiently through the posting drought, thank-you; rain clouds are coming. If you didn’t, well, you’re likely not reading this anyway. But maybe you’ll find your way back.

To ease in, today’s post is just some gaming related personal news. I’m working on a buffer right now; I thought a lot about gaming (and played a fair amount, when people came to the “den”) , so I have some stuff to share in the next while. But for today, let me catch you up…

– My buddy Devin and I are hosting a regular monthly board game day, and I’m pretty excited about it. Devin wanted to play more board games and so did I, so he had the idea to just set a day and play with whomever shows up. I’m supplying the play space, we sent out an initial run of invites, and we’ll add to the invite list as we go. It’s a great opportunity for us to try new board games, as well as playing with different people since we won’t be sure about who will be there every month. So if you live in Edmonton and want to join us the last Sunday of every month, leave a comment.

– I am probably playing Hearthstone more than is good for me. But it scratches a CCG itch I didn’t know was still there. Blizzard has done a great job making the game fun and 98% douche-free, that last through the simple expedient of not having any sort of chat function between the players. The free-to-play but pay-to-play-better model does mean I run into the occasional “wallet deck”, but I’m used to that from my (ancient) Magic:TG days (Ice Age was the last expansion I played). As long as I keep having fun I’ll keep playing, so if you’re playing as well look me up. Username is Argentbear.

– While nothing will ever knock Pathfinder out of top spot, Star Wars: Edge of the Empire is firmly in my second-favourite RPG spot at the moment. I’m playing in one campaign and about to start play in another, and I can’t get enough of this game. Smart mechanics and great setting development, both in service to creating good role-play, all in the Star Wars universe? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! If you haven’t checked it out yet, I highly recommend you get on it. And don’t let the funny looking dice throw you, you’ll pick that up in no time.

That’s it for now. If I think of anything else I’ll pop back and add it in. Otherwise, look for regular posts to trickle in this week, with the return to regular flow starting next Monday. Soon the GM and Player advice will start flowing like it never went away.

Gaming Resolutions for 2014

Gaming-wise, 2013 was a good year. I made a commitment to the blog, I attended Gen Con for the second year in a row (third time in four years), and I began work towards my own publishing company, Prairie Dragon Press. As I look back over the year I’m pleased with my achievements. I didn’t get as far as I wanted, but I made more progress than in years past. So I’ll take that as a positive result.

Looking ahead to 2014, I have a few goals I have set for myself. They’re tied into things I’m already working on, which increases my odds of achieving them. In no particular order, 2014 will see:

– the release of the first publications from Prairie Dragon Press, including setting resource books and a gaming-related cookbook;

– a commitment to five articles a week, including Campaign Creation, Trail Rations, For the Players, and Review regular features;

– more play-testing for me, as I take the opportunity to try out more new gaming material;

– guest blogging, both writing and receiving, something I haven’t done yet but would like to do. There’ll be a separate post talking more about that soon.

As those goals are achieved more will take their place, but that’s enough to get on with. I’m excited by the progress Renaissance Gamer has made and will make. I love writing this blog, and by the increase in readership I’ve seen over the past year it seems people enjoy reading it. As long as those two things remain, you can count on Renaissance Gamer being around a good long time.

Thank-you everyone for reading, and I hope you’ll continue to enjoy the things I post. Have a great New Year’s, all!

Gizmodo Saga Pt. 2: Who Are You Trying To Impress, Angry Nerdlings?

I woke up this morning hoping I would get to write about something fun today.  I had it all planned out, it was going to be glorious.  But I can’t do that now.  Instead, I need to write another blog about disappointment.  You might ask, who could have disappointed me so much this time that I would set aside geeky fun-times to write about it?

You did.

Well, maybe not you specifically.  See, yesterday I wrote a little something about Gizmodo and the article Alyssa Bereznak posted about her dates with Magic: The Gathering World Champion Jon Finkel.  I was disappointed in both her choice of subject and her apparent ignorance of Gizmodo’s target audience.  And I think I did a pretty good job of attacking her message and methods, without attacking Miss Bereznak (a woman I have never met) personally.  And the internet being the internet, a goodly number of nerds joined me in expressing similar disappointment. (Even, apparently, Gizmodo’s Australian counterpart)  To those nerds I say: this post is not about you.  Relax and keep reading, or if you prefer please enjoy some Girl Genius; it is delightful.

No, I’m writing this post for all the ignorant nerdlings that felt it necessary to range into personal attacks on Miss Bereznak.  If you descended into name-calling in your comments, this post is about you.  If you decided to attack Miss Bereznak personally on Twitter, this post is for you.  If you went past a disagreement with her message and disappointment in using Gizmodo as a platform for that message, and instead attacked Miss Bereznak’s appearance, sexuality, ethnicity and/or gender…Yeah, this post is definitely for you.

Let me clue you in, little nerdlings: attacking someone personally because you disagree with something they’ve said does not make you “edgy”.  It doesn’t make you “street” or tough-sounding, and it sure as Sheppard doesn’t make you sound intelligent.  What it does, is make you sound like petulant, angry children.  And think about it: when was the last time you took anything a child said seriously?  Especially one that was screaming and blubbering, tugging on your sleeve to get attention.  I can tell you that unless something serious has happened I pay that child very little mind.

But the most annoying thing for me, is that you all ended up hurting the very cause you seemed to want to help.  When the response to Miss Bereznak’s article was still at the point of disappointment with the message and the platform, we had a chance, however slim, of changing her mind about it.  At the very least there was a chance for discussion, and something positive could have come from that.  But once you nerdlings got involved and escalated things to the online equivalent of throwing rocks and bottles, discussion went right out the window.

And the really sad part, nerdlings?  All you did was show Miss Bereznak why she was right to dump Jon Finkel.  How can she help but assume that Mr. Finkel is just like every screaming, ignorant nerdling that attacked her?  Why would she want to date that?  I can tell you from personal experience that loud, obnoxious ignorance is attractive for about…negative seconds.  So go on, nerdlings, give yourselves a slow clap build to a standing ovation; you helped prove Alyssa Bereznak right. Bravo.

Two things:

  1. I’m sure there are going to be a whole lot of people upset about today’s post.  They might feel I’m waffling on this issue.  Let me be clear.  There is a difference between attacking the message (which I did yesterday, as well as this wonderfully satirical piece by @kiala) and attacking the messenger.  One is acceptable, the other makes you a douche-canoe.
  2. My use of the words “nerd” and “nerdling”.  It is common, when discussing a species, to use terms that delineate the animal in question at various stages of development.  A bear is a “cub”, for instance, until it reaches a certain age and becomes and adult.  For my purposes, “nerdling” represents an immature nerd, either because they are five years old, or because they go on the internet and act five years old.

Okay, tomorrow we get back to fun with some Humpday Links, and then some posts about gaming.  Because I will have fun, dammit!

As always, feel free to comment below.

Who Did You Think You Were Impressing, Alyssa Bereznak?

Just when I despaired of having anything to write today, along comes this article from Alyssa Bereznak, entitled, “My Brief OKCupid Affair with a World Champion Magic: The Gathering Player“.  Please, take a moment to follow the link over and read it. I’ll wait…

(For those that don’t want to follow the link, here’s a summary: Miss Bereznak went on a date through OKCupid with a pleasant man named Jon, who turned out to be Jon Finkel, Magic: The Gathering World Champion.  She found this to be a terrible omission on Jon’s part, and because he didn’t disclose this information on his OKCupid profile, decided to write an article about her horrible experience.)

All done?  Okay, I wasn’t even really sure who to be more disappointed in: Gizmodo or Miss Bereznak.  Then I did a little digging (ie, Googled Miss Bereznak, as she suggests in the article), and discovered she is in fact an editor at Gizmodo.  Which solved that problem handily; now I could bundle all my disappointment up into one package.

I want to give Miss Bereznak the benefit of the doubt here, I really do.  I want to believe the article she wrote was meant to be a satire, something in line with Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” in which Swift satirizes the plight of the Irish by suggesting they sell their children to the rich as food.  I want to believe that Miss Bereznak is that clever a writer.  But nothing I read in the article supports that.  In fact, I would suggest that if you need to preface your piece with a paragraph explaining the point of your article, that should be a red-flag moment.

What I get from her article is someone who has not properly gauged her audience.  She wrote a long, bad joke. And she wrote it on a site aimed pretty much at the people she makes fun of with her long, bad joke.  I’m not sure there is any other way to look at it.  Trying to explain away your long, bad joke by claiming it was aimed at showing up the foibles of OKCupid and online dating sites, is a little like trying to explain to people in O’Byrne’s Pub why it’s okay for you to tell Irish jokes.  As a matter of fact, that would have been a good exercise for Miss Bereznak to try: go through the article and where she talked about Magic players, substitute a religion or nationality.  Chances are, if it sounds offensive with “Irish” or “Muslim”, it’s going to sound offensive no matter what proper noun you insert.

I should make it clear that it isn’t “nerd rage” fuelling this post.  I’m not angry at Miss Bereznak for what she wrote.  I really am just, as the cliche goes, disappointed.  Disappointed that someone working for Gizmodo of all places, would think this negative, bitchy-sounding geek-bash even has a place.  Disappointed she would use her public platform to engender and maintain this ignorant idea of “Us vs. The Geeks”.  Seriously, Miss Bereznak, do you really think that supposed conflict is relevant any more?

Mostly, I’m disappointed that Miss Bereznak chose not to dig deeper.  By her own admission, Jon Finkel was considerably more literate and interesting than anyone else she had encountered on OKCupid thus far.  And she found him enjoyable, charming company on their dates, up until she allowed her ignorance to get in the way.  She could have used that moment to examine nerd prejudice by exploring her own prejudicial feelings and preconceptions.  But she didn’t.  What we got instead was the written equivalent of a catty bitch-session.  And for someone in Miss Bereznak’s position, that is a just a sad waste of an opportunity.

But I’ll end by quoting the last line of Miss Bereznak’s article: “So what did I learn? Google the shit out of your next online date. Like, hardcore.”  That’s good advice, Alyssa.  It would protect us from winding up on a date with, well, you.

Comments? Counterpoints? Handy space for that below…

Update: @kiala wrote a brilliantly satirical response to Miss Bereznak’s article over at Nerdpuddle.  See, Miss Bereznak, that is what satire looks like…

Why I Prefer to Hang with the FanGIRLS!

There has been a lot of back and forth on geek acceptance and geek ladies recently.  I was originally planning to write a post promoting the “few” female blogs/sites I follow, intending to demonstrate that none of these ladies are poseurs in any way.  And I came to an interesting realization…

Out of the 67 geek-related blogs I follow, 43 of them are written by women.  And another 8 have regular contributions by women.

I don’t post those numbers to brag, not even humblebrag, as The Nerdist Chris Hardwick would say.  Truth is, I knew I followed a fair number of geek girl blogs, but I never really payed attention to the numbers.  Gender is never a factor for me when scoping out a new blog.  My cunning scientific method for determining whether I follow a blog goes a little something like this:

  • Read blog. Is blog interesting and well written?
  • If yes, add blog to my Google Reader queue.  Enjoy.
  • If no, do not add blog to my Google Reader queue.  Enjoy not wasting time on boring blog.

Pretty simple, right?  So then I went back through the blogs I am following and the blogs I used to follow and stopped AND the blogs I chose not to follow.  Because there had to be a reason I was more interested in female-generated content than male.  The obvious answer, that my first criteria (interesting and well-written) was culling the pack towards women was possible, but I didn’t think it told the whole story.

And reading back through blogs I had dropped or never followed in the first place confirmed that.  Because I had dropped some very well-written and, at first blush, interesting blogs written by fellas.  So I read back through those, three or four postings deep, and that is when I found the common thread that bound their exclusion from my Reader.

They were all negative posters.  And negativity, at least in the long run, is not interesting to me.

What do I mean by negative?  Of the posts I read through, most were of the, “Have you seen this thing and how much it sucks!?” variety.  I can appreciate a post like that once, if it is something the writer feel very strongly about.  Reviews, for instance; I enjoy a stinging, well-written, negative review as much as the next.  But if I’m up to my metaphorical elbows in your blog and every entry is that same level of anger and contempt, then I’m calling it and scrubbing out.  Worse than that, it seemed that most of these bloggers had no love for their hobby.  They wrote like someone who was forced into getting a degree in geekology, and then used their degree to write scathing deconstructionist essays.

To be fair, there were a number of female-written blogs that had that same problem.  And they got dropped, just like the nega-dudes.  Because negativity is boring in the long run, and I have far too many blogs in my reader (I’d say low three-digits, only to not frighten you with the actual number) to waste my time on boring.  I want to read blogs that share my love of geekery, that match or approach my level of enthusiasm for the hobby.  And as it turns out, more women than men tend to write blogs like that.

I haven’t carried this through to other blogs in my reader.  After all, only 67 of the [number redacted] blogs I follow are geek-related.  But I will save that experiment for a day when I actually have the time to sort that many blogs.  I would be interested in that final number, though, and whether it held up.

So to the 65% lady-bloggers and 35% gentleman-bloggers I follow for my geekery, I say thank-you and keep up the excellent work.  To the male/female split going the other way I say: Maybe you need to examine why you are in the hobby, and especially why you are blogging about it and what you want to communicate to the rest of us.

So what about you, gentle reader?  What do you look for in a blog?  What makes you start/stop following?

Listen Up, Padawannabes!

Let me start by saying, I would give my room mate’s right arm to have a lightsaber.  I don’t mean the replica Obi-Wan lightsaber I already have.  I mean an honest-to-Force fully functional lightsaber.  I would carry that baby every where!  The look on a mugger’s face the first time I fired that puppy up would be worth the cost on its own.

But I know that isn’t going to happen.  Physics-wise, a lightsaber is a non-trivial problem to say the least.  I will have to settle for bonking muggers with glowing Lucite (complete with film-realistic sound FX!).

Likewise, I know that I can never be a Jedi, and it has nothing to do with a lack of working weaponry.  I don’t want to upset any “jedi” that may read this but…the “Jedi Philosophy” as seen in the movies can not work in real life.  Face it, it barely worked in the movies; if you accept the prequel trilogy as cannon (and I do not. Deal.) it was actions arising from internal philosophical differences that led to the Jedi Order’s destruction.  I mean, are you seriously telling me that out of the entire Jedi Order, no one thought that “bring balance to the Force” might have another meaning?  And why would you think that eliminating the Sith would bring balance? Maybe they need to look up “balance” in the Oxford Jedi Dictionary again…

But inasmuch as the philosophy works, it works because it is a hybrid-construct made to serve its ultimate Master, the plot.  Taken away from its Master and left to fend for itself, that philosophy begins to fall apart and turn feral pretty damn quickly.  Which isn’t surprising, given the inherent conflicts in the three main philosophies used to build it:

Buddhism – followed in many forms in many Eastern nations, the main tenet of Buddhist religion found in most sects is one of dispassion.  Buddhists seek to separate themselves from feelings about the world around them, so they can live in a state of “dispassionate compassion” for the world.  So far, so good, right?  But then we sprinkle in some…

Taoism – followed mainly in China, Taoism is a philosophy not a religion (like Buddhism).  There is no central deity; instead, Taoists believe in a universal tension between “yin” and “yang” which gives rise to life force (finally, we are onto The Force) called “qi” or sometimes “chi”.  And while Taoist philosophy does sometimes include the idea of “dispassionate compassion”, it does not seek to eliminate emotional attachments.  In fact, most Taoist thought includes the need for desire, so that the Taoist can observe the form such desires take, allowing a better understanding of mankind.  So, yeah, we aren’t even out of the Eastern philosophies and already we run into conflicts.  Then we move West and throw in…

Chivalry – Chivalry was neither a religion nor a philosophy, but a code of behaviour attributed to knights in the Middle Ages.  Arguably observed more in the breach, it was tied in closely with Christianity and to a lesser extent Zoroastrianism.  The code of conduct included rules regarding honour, fealty and courage.  Because of its ties to Christianity we get our first introduction to ideas of “Good” and “Evil”, and how good must vanquish evil.  Ooookay…

So what do we end up with?  Buddhism says, “dispassionate compassion”.  Taoism says, “Sure, sure, that’s great. But how about we work to find a balance between passion and dispassion? Then we can tap into the life-force that binds us all.”  Chivalry says, “Balance?  We don’t need no stinking balance!  Do what your lord (or Lord) says, fight with courage and honour, and vanquish Evil!”  Are you seeing the problem?

Now, you can see bits and pieces of all these philosophies/religions scattered all through the Star Wars movies (even the prequels, if that’s how you get your jollies, sicko).  But that is all it is, a loose sprinkling of ideological snippets.  There is no philosophical cohesion, because none is possible.  And while you can ignore that lack and still enjoy the movies, I would challenge you to live the “Jedi Code” in real life without developing schizophrenia.

So kudos, all you padawannabes, on trying to live as a better person.  But self-examination forms the base for any plan to live better, and I think you will find your philosophy has a few stress fractures.

That’s my two credits, anyway.  Discuss.

Three Ways to Make Your Game Master Cry…with Joy!

If you are a gamer it shouldn’t be a secret that your Game Master does a lot for you.  For every hour of your playing time, your GM probably matches that time in session prep, adventure design and trying to anticipate every crazy thing you might do during the game.  They deserve our respect and admiration; more than that they deserve a tangible demonstration of that respect.  Next time you want to show your GM some love, try one or all of these suggestions:

1)      Be On Time – And by that I mean be early.  If your game is supposed to start at 7pm, try to get there 15-20 minutes ahead of time.  That way you can settle in, talk about the week or the latest sci-fi block buster, maybe ask that question about your character you have been pondering, all before the session is due to start.   Being early shows that you understand how important the game time, and by extension the GM’s time, really is.

2)      Let It Go – Not every gamer is like this, but if you are, this is for you.  The next time you are mid-combat, and the GM makes a rules call that you disagree with, let it go.  I know it is hard to do, especially when you feel your character is getting the short end of it.  But you have to acknowledge that your GM has a lot on the go in any game, and can’t always have perfect recall of the rules.  And even if he could, lets face it, sometimes the rules are ambiguous.  So let it go to keep the game running.  And if it is really that big a deal, talk to your GM after the session and sort it out then.  Out of the moment, you’ll both be able to focus better on the issue.

3)      Make an Offer – Come up with a little something extra for your GM’s campaign.  You don’t need to fully design an entire city complete with centuries of history.  But you could do the farm or village your character grew up in.  Or write-up your character’s family.  Or come up with some plausible descriptions for your characters contacts, allies and/or enemies.  Trust me, your GM will appreciate anything you can do to shoulder part of the world-building.  And relating it to your character will show your GM that you are invested in the campaign he is providing you.

So what do you do to show your GM some love?  GMs, anything your players do to show how much they care?

New Site, Same Old Dork!

Yes, it is true.  After years on Blogspot I decided it was time for a change.  Having heard such wonderful things from several people about the green, green grass over at WordPress I decided to give it a go.  The verdict so far?  Smoother, easier to use and a lot more writer friendly.  Plus, Blogspot was doing some weird stuff, dropping pics and such.  Hard to miss a site that makes parts of your post disappear.

So feel free to reset your RSS feeds and bookmarks, it looks like I’ll be here a good long while.  I’ll also being tinkering a bit, here and there, to spruce the place up.  But in the meantime, on with the show!

*     *     *

I’d like to talk a little bit about perfection, and what an absolute pile of horseshit it is.  (Don’t worry, we’ll get back to geekery with the next post, I promise)  I struggled with being a perfectionist for a very long time, and I can tell you from firsthand experience it sucks.  Not just because it puts so much stress into even the simplest acts of creation; that in itself would be bad enough.  The constant, anxious focus on making sure that every…little…piece fits just so into what I’m creating is quite frankly draining.  No, the real suckage that perfectionism brings is all the projects never started because I couldn’t get them perfect in my head, or the situation wasn’t just right, or my life somehow wasn’t in exactly the right spot.  And that has been the real challenge for me, to stop using perfection as an excuse to keep myself from trying.

I watch a show on HGTV called “Holmes on Homes” (this may seem like a digression, but bear with me). For those that have never watched it, Mike Holmes is a contractor who comes into a different person’s home each episode and fixes what a previous contractor has screwed up.  I get a very comfortable feeling watching Mike tear out crappy work and replacing it with good work.

But here is the reason I bring it up: at one point in an episode he talked about the difference between something being “straight” and being “true”.  He basically said that it is very unlikely that you can make anything in a home renovation “straight”.  Angles won’t be perfect, cuts have been done fractionally wrong, floors have settled and so on.  And if you try to make things “straight” you’ll end up with something that doesn’t look right because nothing around it is straight.  But if instead you try to make it “true”, that is, try to match it to the existing imperfections while at the same time balancing them out, you will give the appearance  of “straight” because what you are building fits.

So that is what I am going to work on from here on out.  I’m going to stay less focused on making sure that every angle is perfect, and instead look to make sure that what I’m working on is true.  Whether that is my writing, employment, gaming, weight-loss, whatever; I am going to look at ways to make it fit with what is already here, instead of trying to get everything in some nonsensical “perfect order”.

And for me, an important component is going to be adding the fun back.  Once upon a time I used to enjoy writing, a lot.  It used to bring me joy to write gaming material and short stories.  I can remember that, from way back in my teens.  I looked forward to the times that I could write and I resented anything that took away that time.  If things are going to be true I have let that joy come back.  Because I’m starting to realize that without that I’m not going to get very far with anything I decide to pursue.

Okay, so that was my HGTV-inspired epiphany.  Thoughts?

I Want My Geek TV (Vulcans fo Nothin’ and my Dice for Free!)

I love television. Growing up in an isolated northern community, television gave me a window onto a wider world. Where else would I have learned that cars could talk, school teachers could become accidental superheroes and scientists could leap through time in their own lifetime?  Later, I would never have learned that a college student could slide between universes, that the military had a gate that connected other galaxies and that the truth was, most definitely, out there. (And that anything spoken in Gillian Anderson’s voice was very likely the truth…but I digress.) And through it all, of course, I learned that in the future we would trek through the stars.
Nowadays television is just as educational, if you manage to wade past the vampires and/or werewolves. I’ve managed to get multiple bachelor degrees in “guys in a classic car with a trunk full of guns kicking monster ass”, “high-tension remake of an 80’s cult classic, this time with a hot Starbuck and Cylon”, and “spiritual successor to The X-files, surprisingly not yet cancelled by FOX”. Slap in a few graduate seminars in “bantery space cowboys”, “big building full of off-the-wall artifacts”, “Andy Griffith meets mad science” and “reboot of a British classic starring a blue police box”, and my television education has flourished! And the “classes” just keep on coming; there are easily a half dozen I am looking forward to auditing this summer.
Through all of that, though, I have felt something lacking. As much as I love the shows that fuel my geekdom, what I crave the most deep down in the dorkness of my soul…are shows about geeks. I love watching geeks being geeks, their awkward tribulations, their nerdy misadventures. More than anything, watching those shows makes me feel part of the larger community of geeks because I can usually find a character or characters with whom I identify.  Typecast doesn’t even come close; I could do a walk-on in my sleep on practically any of these shows.  These are the parts I was born to play!
And this is where main-stream television, I feel, has let me down. Yes, there have been a few shows; Freaks & Geeks and Big Bang Theory come to mind. But of those two only one is still on television, and while I do enjoy Big Bang Theory it just isn’t enough for me. Its focus is much too specific to a particular type of geek (science nerds), and while I can enjoy watching that world, ultimately I am not part of it.
Luckily I am not alone in my desire for these shows, and imaginative, talented geeks have seeded this sub-genre all over the internet. I can’t turn on the interweb without stumbling across another bit of Geek TV, and I couldn’t be happier. Geek drama, dorks in love, nerd comedy; it’s all there in glorious spades. Combine imagination with a boom in easier-to-use video/audio technology, sprinkle it with internet-provided ease of distribution and voila! Geek TV is here to stay!
In case you have been unfortunate enough to have no idea what I am talking about, here are five of my favorites just to get you started. In no particular order, here is my Geek TV prime-time line-up:
Though I managed to avoid getting drawn too deep into the online gaming culture, that did not stop me from enjoying the hell out of The Guild when I found it.  For the couple of you just now noticing your rock ceiling, The Guild follows the trials and tribulations of Codex (played by Felicia Day; she also writes and directs) as she tries to balance her real and virtual lives.  The ensemble on this is fantastic, and the writing and subsequent acting is excellent.  The fourth season is up on the website, and if memory serves shooting has wrapped on season five (though that could just be wishful thinking on my part).  And if you want to get just a little taste, check out the two music videos: Do You Wanna Date My Avatar and Game On!
Like finding the secret door in the treasure room, I came across Gold completely by accident one day.  And then I stopped what I was doing and watched it all.  Gold is set in a world in which role-playing games are a professional sport with medal rankings.  It follows the fractious American team as they prepare for the upcoming World RPG Tournament.  Now, if this had been treated as a comedy I am sure I would have enjoyed it.  But instead of taking the obvious comedic route, they show’s creators took the much more interesting dramatic path and I think they made the right choice.  This is a show with a lot of heart, and it is going to ring true for many role-players out there.  And if you like Gold, follow it up with Night of the Zombie King, by the same creators.
Still on role-playing but firmly in the comedic camp, we move on to JourneyQuest.  JourneyQuest follows a band of less-than-elite adventurers as they search for wealth and fame, and the bard desperate to turn their misadventures into an epic tale.  Besides some really funny writing and artful acting from the cast, the show also plays around with POV and time in entertaining ways.  If you loved the short films The Gamers and The Gamers: Dorkness Rising, this series is going to be firmly and permanently in you wheelhouse.
What do you get when you combine a dungeon master, his home-brewed D&D campaign and a bevy of porn actresses and strippers? I Hit It With My Axe, a delightful little docu-series about a D&D game where the players just happen to work in the adult entertainment industry.  And while you might get drawn in by the hot girls playing RPGs…okay, you’ll likely stay for them too.  But along the way you will also have a really fun time learning that porn stars are just like the rest of us gaming geeks; they want to hit things, collect XP and find the treasure.
Last but not least in any way, my most recent of awesome discoveries is Awkward Embraces.  If nothing else makes me glad I’m on Twitter, this does, because I would never have known about it otherwise.  The series follows three friends, Jessica, Candis and Lyndsey, as they navigate each other through their personal and professional lives.  Hilarity ensues because Jessica is, well, a huge nerd, and not very well versed in what we would refer to as “the real world”.  Lucky for her, Candis and Lyndsey are more than willing to steer her in the right direction.  Everyone will love this show for its clever writing and engaging characters.  And speaking directly to 90% of geek guys (and statistically 10% of the geek girls), if you don’t fall in love with one of these three characters (or all, I’m not the boss of you) then you have no soul.  None.  And make sure to check out the Minisodes, following the cutely awkward mating dance of two background characters, Alec and Andrea.
Okay, that’s my top five, and that should be more than enough to get you started.  Let me know what you think in the comments below.  And if you have some of your own discoveries you want to share, send the links my way!

Can’t Stop the Serenity!

I’m nearing the busiest and nerdiest point in my week, but I needed to jump on here and remind you all about something fantastically awesome.

In its sixth year, Can’t Stop the Serenity season is here again!  In support of Equality Now!, this is probably the best example of geek activism out there (No? Prove me wrong, children!)  I have been enamoured with it from day one; the vibe around it has always been great.

Edmonton has its own CSTS event, running this Saturday, noon, at Metro Cinema (632-7 Sir Winston Churchill Square).  If you are a fan of Firefly, Serenity, both, neither or women’s rights (Really? You going to go on record as opposing women’s rights? Look at the grapes on you…) then you need to attend.

I am volunteering at the event as well, so if for some strange reason you want to see me in person here in #YEG you should come out.  And since I’ll be there, I’ll know if you don’t show…