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Educational Benefits of Pirate 101

Educational Benefits of Pirate 101

This was originally posted on MMO Games on 17 January 2016. It is being re-posted here to archive the work I have done in case the original website ever shuts down.

Exploring Pirate 101

I’ve been enjoying exploring various children’s games this month for a multitude of reasons, namely, to scope out what is currently available that I can utilize with my own children in the future. I’ve heard many a good thing about Pirate 101 and thought it would be a fun game to try, and I definitely wasn’t wrong.

Pirate 101 is a game by KingsIsle Entertainment, the creators of Wizard 101. The game itself is geared toward children approximately aged 10 but could definitely be played by children both younger, and older. It’s a wonderful game for parents to play with (or without) their children as well.

The voice over is charming, and my first time through had me giggling at the French-accented monkey. The combat was engaging, as it required some forethought, and was completely different from any other MMO combat I’ve ever encountered. Overall, it’s definitely a game to check out reviews for, and a game that I want to keep on the radar for when I have children old enough to play with.

However, while shared entertainment abounds, at first glance it doesn’t seem to cover anything educational for children, or ways for parents to engage learning with their offspring. So what are the educational benefits of Pirate 101?

Educational Benefits of Pirate 101

There are more skills children can learn while playing Pirate 101 than first meets the eye. While the game itself is not a game designed around education, there are many subject areas the game pulls from to create teachable moments for children.

Language Arts

Children can learn multiple different subsets of the language arts. For one, their reading, spelling, and grammar skills will improve. All of the dialogue in the game has voice over, but dialogue boxes also appear on the screen while the characters are speaking. These boxes can be used for children to practice their reading and comprehension skills, as well as identifying new vocabulary. Seeing words as they’re spoken also helps to improve spelling skills for when youngsters begin to write. Speaking of writing, many children utilize the environments in Pirate 101 to create fan fiction that they submit to KingsIsle Entertainment. This is creative thought and creation, which are important things for anyone to learn.

Art

The graphics in Pirate 101 are unique with a cartoony style that is unmistakable. Children not only create fan fiction around the game, but also fan art. This teaches them various skills depending on how the art is created. If done as digital art, it teaches children important items within art programs that they can utilize later on in life to great benefit. Even traditional art and sculpture is something that children can take advantage of. Physically manipulating to create art helps children gain spatial awareness.

Mathematics

Players receive rewards and treasure throughout the game. There are also a plethora of items to purchase throughout the game, from gear to mounts and pets, and more. Children must learn how to save their gold in order to buy the items they want from the shops. This teaches them a multitude of money skills including budgeting, saving, and simple arithmetic from spending and earning gold. Youngsters will also learn inventory management. Even though it is not specifically a mathematics skill, it is an important one to learn that ties into budgeting and spending.

Computer Science

While Pirate 101 doesn’t specifically teach skills such as computer programming, digital art, and engineering, one cannot criticize the passion that young players obtain from experiencing amazing virtual worlds. Many future employees in computer science will have gained their passion from gaming at a young age.

Geography

Kids can learn about geography and land areas by utilizing the maps in game. Knowing the cardinal directions and how to navigate is important to sailing your ship around the world, and even just finding quest givers and objectives. Children will also gain skills in situational and locational awareness, as well as planning the best route to obtain an objective.

History

One can’t argue that there is a large amount of history associated with pirates. Ranging from the romanticization of pirates, to exploring pirates from different regions, there is a plethora of knowledge available for parents and children alike. This history brings up many questions to delve into with youngsters, such as why pirates are so popular in the media, or if pirates are really bad guys or good guys. Parents and children can also do research on pirates from around the world to learn more about their stories and discuss if any of the pirates in game remind them of the pirates from long ago.

Socialization

Even though socialization isn’t a “hard skill” that is taught in classrooms, it is an extremely important thing to learn for everyday interactions in today’s busy world. Despite the limitations on chat functions, children can learn about being polite, helping others, listening, and other skills that will benefit them far into the future and throughout their adult life.

Safety

There is combat in Pirate 101, and as such can lead to easy conversation starters for addressing violence, both fantasy and real-life. Being an online game, it also provides many opportunities to discuss online safety and bullying with children. These are not skills that are innately learned, and parents need to spend the time addressing these topics with their youngsters.

Miscellaneous

There are many educational benefits of Pirate 101 that don’t fall within a specific category, such as focus, concentration, and strategy. The game offers players multiple quests, and it is important for children to remember which items are necessary for which quests, and where to go to be successful. During battles with enemies, players choose weapons and spells needed to defeat their opponents, as well as the placement for their characters based on the number of squares they are able to move. In some instances, players will need to strategize on how to complete objectives while avoiding as much combat as possible. Moves need to be planned in stages, which requires forethought and thinking ahead.

While I’ve touched on many skills that children can learn by playing Pirate 101, there are so many others for them and their parents to discover as they explore the world together.

August 2019 Note: This post is (28/31) of the Blaugust 2019 event! You can find out more about Blaugust over at Belghast’s blog. I (Chestnut) created a Twitter list of all participants. UltrViolet created an OPML file of all the bloggers to import into your feed reader.
Atlas Reactor Closed Beta Preview

Atlas Reactor Closed Beta Preview

This was originally posted on MMO Games on 16 April 2016. It is being re-posted here to archive the work I have done in case the original website ever shuts down.

Atlas Reactor is a new team-based tactics game by Trion Worlds, featuring a new form of turn-based combat with a twist, as players take strategic turns in combat simultaneously. The game features competitive team-based combat, a wide variety of “freelancers” (heroes) to choose from, PvE content via bot matches, and the Atlas Reactor Closed Beta brings us even more fun.

The customization available in the game is huge, and it keeps growing. Unique customizations include taunts, used to trigger an in-game highlight of the character allowing players to get closer to their favorites. There are also character skins, titles, user banners, and more.

I met with James Karras, Senior Producer, and William Cook, Lead Designer, to discuss the Atlas Reactor Closed Beta changes, which released on Thursday, April 14, 2016.

Meet Freelancer Elle

The Alpha introduced a new freelancer, Oz, and the Atlas Reactor Closed Beta introduces Elle. She’s a Firepower Freelancer, described as a cold-hearted assassin who just really likes to make a big old mess with her shotgun. Elle has one of the coolest primaries in the game with a targeting arc that can change shape from long and slim to short and wide. She is also the first freelancer to have an ability to dash one square and fire in the same turn, which can be used twice in a row.

She also has a free action to use in addition to other abilities where she can place an invisible drone on the ground. Enemy players will know that something has been placed, but they won’t know where the bot is located. The bot can be detonated at any time within three turns, when it will automatically self-destruct.

Elle has another ability, Overcharge, which grants additional damage to the next shot taken, including her Ultimate ability—a gigantic shotgun blast that deals knockback to everyone that gets hit, including Elle. It’s an interesting twist on freelancer abilities, and one that the developers hope to continue as they release more characters.

Introducing Seasons

Seasons are something new being implemented in the Atlas Reactor Closed Beta, and they include a story made of multiple chapters, challenges, contracts, and other rewards. The chapters follow the story of Atlas Reactor, and each season introduces new elements to it. These stories change throughout the year, and introduce chapters every few weeks.

In the closed beta, players will be trying out the first few chapters of the story and providing feedback for developers on how the system feels. It was built with the players in mind, and it tries to break down the barrier between free players versus those spending cash on the game. The story itself cannot be progressed without playing through it, and it will be available to read in full once a season closes.

Contracts and challenges that go along with the Seasons provide big rewards, including XP and crafting components. Rewards are gained by leveling, and include loot matrices (the equivalent of loot chests), which hold cosmetics such as taunts, banners, and emojis.

Levels can be purchased, and only correspond to acquiring cosmetic items. Karras and Cook made it clear that there is no way to buy power in Atlas Reactor, only cosmetics. Levels are being tuned in the Beta, and the XP gain is linear, which mean the experience needed to go from level 1 to level 2 is the same that’s needed to go from 58 to 59.

Any cosmetic items earned in a season are archived, and they cannot be earned past the season except for special events. The goal is for these seasonal items to still be available by special means, however, they’re much more difficult to obtain once the season is over.

In the future, the developers are looking to implement things such as objective-based game modes, ranked modes, additional maps, more freelancers, and spectator mode. Spectator mode is something they plan to try after Closed Beta has been running for a few weeks.

Crafting For Fun

New season-specific crafting materials are given out from completing challenges and contracts, and more loot matrices can be crafted from these materials. There are some matrices that can only be crafted, and some that can only be obtained through play.

Anything opened from loot matrix’s that are a duplicate can be broken down into materials again so that nothing is wasted. The developers wanted to set up a system so that all types of players can participate to the fullest extent.

Community Participation

Karras and Cook know that their game is different from other games on the market, and getting feedback during the Atlas Reactor Closed Beta is extremely important to them. They need to know how the seasons run and want to know if players are engaged and having fun.

To facilitate this, a community rewards program will be unlocked for those that purchase a Pre-Sale pack. Missions for this program were unveiled on Thursday, and are about building a community for the game, as well as excitement for the official release. Karras and Cook noted they, “wanted to build stuff that we would have fun with as players and devs.”

Atlas Reactor Closed Beta Access

The Closed Beta servers are open 24/7 for testing. Any players who played in the February Alpha, or earlier, is automatically added to the Closed Beta. The developers wanted to reward those players for helping to shape the game into what it is today.

Anyone else who doesn’t want to wait can grab a Pre-Sale pack to obtain access immediately. The lowest cost option is $10 USD and includes $10 USD worth of cash-shop money to spend on freelancers, skins, and more. Players can also sign up for the closed beta on Atlas Reactor’s website. Invitations to the Atlas Reactor closed beta will be sent out every so often to those who have signed up, however, there is no guarantee that anyone who signs up will obtain access to the closed beta.

There is no NDA on the Atlas Reactor Closed Beta, and the developers are excited to see what kinds of content their players share through Twitch, blogs, Twitter, Reddit, and other social media platforms.

August 2019 Note: This post is (26/31) of the Blaugust 2019 event! You can find out more about Blaugust over at Belghast’s blog. I (Chestnut) created a Twitter list of all participants. UltrViolet created an OPML file of all the bloggers to import into your feed reader.
E3 Thoughts: EA Play

E3 Thoughts: EA Play

I’ve slowly (excruciatingly so) been trying to catch up on E3 announcements, and document my thoughts on what each company has released. I know it’s a bit behind the times, but I’ve been super busy, and it’s taken me a while to catch up on all of them. I’m planning to do a series of these instead of all just in one post, because some of them started to get kind of long with my thoughts. I’m also going to be addressing it in more of a list format of thoughts than actual paragraphs because it was easiest for me to process that way as I watched them.

  • Battlefield V: I’ve never been interested in the IP at all (shooters aren’t my thing, typically), so I fast forwarded through this bit.
  • FIFA 19: Also not an IP I’ve ever been interested in. Sports in general have never been my cup of tea, so another fast forward.
  • Origin Access Premier: I mean, that’s cool that they’re releasing it for folks that would be interested in it, but I’ve never really been a fan of EA games outside of the Sims franchise, and I can get the few I might be interested in via other means. So it’s a subscription I’ll never go for. Also, it would require not having a backlog of 300+ games, and a “to-buy” list of at least 50.
  • Star Wars Battlefront II: Another IP I’m not interested in. Like I’ve already mentioned, not a fan of shooter-type games per se, and I’ve heard of the debacles in the first one (which, props to them for owning up to on the stage, I guess?). I mean, I thought it was pretty stinking cool the news about adding the Clone Wars, and Grievous, but again, I probably won’t ever play it unless I’m finagled into it by specific friends.
  • Unravel 2: I’ve never played the original, but it looks super cute! Except for the fact that it’s a platformer. And platformers are also not a thing I’m particularly fond of (though I do still want to give the first Ori game a try, so maybe that might change?). I do think it’s cool that it’s released already, though.
  • Sea of Solitude: I really want this. The concept is super interesting, and it feels very relevant to some personal stuff I’m working through in my life, right now. Though, I really do love narrative-heavy games, so it’s not a surprise to me that I’m interested in this, regardless of what the game play may be.
  • NBA Live 19: See FIFA 19.
  • MADDEN 19: See FIFA 19.
  • Command & Conquer: Rivals: I mean, I’m not particularly a big mobile games person (outside of a few mobile otome games… and PokemonGo). But I’m also not a RTS/tower-defense game person, either. They lose my interest very quickly.
  • Anthem: I like the use of Muse in the trailer. I’m a bit more interested in it because BioWare. Overall it sounds neat, but uh, is there romance? If not, I don’t know how keen I am to pick it up. But my big question is: would I be able to effectively play this the way I like to play story games? Is this sorta like Destiny? Can I effectively play this solo? I still have far too many questions to make a judgement, to be fair. Though I will definitely keep my eyes out. Also, who does the voice acting for Owen? Sounds familiar… (Props for the announcement of no loot boxes!)
Butts and Bosses

Butts and Bosses

The Great Butt Debate

Note: If you could care less, there’s a lighter non-butt related topic (it’s boardgames instead) below! 😀

So if you’re living under a rock, last week a post over on the Blizz forums for Overwatch spawned a huge thing that folks have started referring to as #TracerGate or #ButtGate (and side note, can we just stop with the “gate” crap? It only made sense for Watergate).

The Internet blew up, as it is wont to do and folks started raging on either side of the spectrum about how “SJWs are taking butts away” and “GGs are opressing females yet again” and the rest of us were sitting there in the middle going, “EHHHH?!”.

While I don’t necessarily agree with the entirety of the original post (I mean, I do oogle on 2D men in otomes), I do agree with what I considered to be the main point of the argument in Tracer’s original “over the shoulder” pose.

From a marketing standpoint, she’s the star of the show. She’s a great hero. When we look at the way she’s portrayed in promotional media, lore, and art in game we know a few things about her.
She’s Fast.
She’s Silly.
She’s Kind.
She’s a good Friend.
Her body seems to be comprised of about 95% spunk.

Then out of seemingly no where we have this pose.

What about this pose has anything to do with the character you’re building in tracer? It’s not fun, its not silly, it has nothing to do with being a fast elite killer. It just reduces tracer to another bland female sex symbol.

I agree that the pose is boring. It’s bland. It’s taking a typical pose and sticking it on a character, and it feels out of character. The fact that it’s “sexy” doesn’t particularly bother me (which was a point of contention in the rest of the OP, by my reading?). I just felt “meh” about the pose. Plus the wedgie-factor looks super uncomfortable.

So Blizz removed the pose, and today they announced the new pose.

I don’t know pin-up art from my elbow, but @christianmccrea deftly identified the source here pic.twitter.com/RovfwQliYO

— BooDoo (@BooDooPerson) April 6, 2016

The pose is essentially a re-skin of one of Billy Devorss’ beautiful pieces of art (though I am unable to find the title of the piece at this current moment). In a way, it feels like Blizz is trying to troll folks, however, that’s another topic that I don’t plan to delve into. Also, I have to wonder if blatantly copying the pose will result in Devorss’ estate to get into it with Blizzard?

Regardless, I love pin-up art, and I can’t argue with emulating the style. In fact, even though it’s still just as “sexy” (maybe more so?) as the last pose, it’s way more in character. It’s spunky. It has attitude. It’s fun. It’s silly. I, personally, am a fan, and seeing the pose that has attitude compared to the last one makes me much more interested in playing and spending money on the game.

Boss Monster

Now that the heavy stuff is out of the way, I wanted to share a neat little game that Chaide picked up yesterday called Boss Monster. We’re big into board games, and have quite a few of them. We even have a few LCGs we’ve collected cards for. But even with games like Dominion and Catan, they’re never quiet as fun with two folks compared to even three. They just don’t work as well.

Boss Monster is a card game designed for 2-4 players, but includes variant rules as well to implement to change up game-play regardless of how many people are playing. It’s essentially a 2D scroller dungeon game out of cards. It’s all pixel art, and it’s adorkable. It goes by fast, too. Our first game took about a half hour, but our two consecutive games only took about ten to fifteen minutes, excluding some breaks to walk the dog.

It’s a rare game where I’m actually looking forward to getting more of the expansions for (and even maybe the epic box?), because it feels balanced as a two-player game. And as much as I love Smashup and Catan, they just don’t feel as balanced for two-players.

So if you enjoy tabletop games, or 2D scrollers, or just fun and wholesome games that you can play with a minimum number of people, check it out! And now I’m off to go play some more because the WildStar servers are down.

Time For Super Snacks

Time For Super Snacks

This is post 27 of 31 for the Blaugust event. To check out more Blaugust posts and sign up to participate, visit the Blaugust Nook!

Stropp from Stropp’s World had a prompt for Blaugust I found interesting:

Find a funny or insightful video about games or gaming culture and link or embed it in a blog post, along with enough words to satisfy the Blaugust rules.

I consider this video a classic. Whenever the inevitable conversation comes up of, “What are some of your favorite YouTube videos?” I always pull this one out (along with the Star Wars one that cracks me up every single time).

Illegal Danish (and the subsequent videos) are funny, regardless of whether you’ve played video games or not. Granted, it’s much funnier if you have, and funniest of all if you have memories of vanilla WoW (though, coming from BC, I got all the jokes as well).

I especially related to the Druid bit. I always wanted to try feral, but even in BC, a lot of the groups I joined had an extreme stigma against druids doing anything but healing. It was a bit annoying, especially when I really started to delve into tanking and DPSing, because I loved the play style.

It’s been a while since I watched this one, and I want to re-watch the rest of them, too. Are there any funny machinas you’d suggest?

Creative Blogger Award

Creative Blogger Award

So, the amazing Murf at Murf Versus tagged me with the Creative Blogger Award. I’m very honored, because he’s a blogger I admire greatly, and he said some very nice things about my blog that are greatly appreciated, and gave me some warm-fuzzies. Much along the same vein as the Liebster award, I must answer some questions and tag some folks.

The rules entail the following:

  • Nominate 15-20 blogs and notify them via their social media/blogs. 
  • Thank and post the link of the person who nominated you. 
  • Share 5 facts about yourself to your readers. 
  • Pass on the rules.

Much like Murf and his nominator Kelly, I won’t be able to tag 15 people. I’m also on the same page as Murf, and feel that being a tad more selective means a tad bit more to get tagged for it. But first, let me share some random facts about myself.

  1. My favorite band is Nightwish. I have religiously purchased every single album, and have seen them twice live. (It would have been three times, but they had to sadly cancel the show because their gear ended up on a different plane than them.) I even have a framed-and-signed poster from the Anette-era. I also fangirl profusely when I meet other Nightwish fans.
  2. Being a natural Ginger, I have lots of freckles, but mainly on my shoulders and arms (due to a second-degree sunburn in high school at a rock concert). I absolutely adore my freckles, and wish I had more. In fact, I even have favorite freckles. One is on my right eyelid, and the other is on my pointer finger.
  3. I love tattoos. I currently have two, and have many more planned out in honor of family members. My first tattoo was a Celtic-inspired dragon on my lower-back on the left-hand side. My second tattoo I got in honor of my maternal-grandfather after he passed away. It is the nickname I called him with a purple heart next to his name (he was a Purple Heart recipient in WWII) on the back on my neck on the left.
  4. Speaking of tattoos of folks’ names–I don’t ever want to get a tattoo of someone’s name on me while they are alive. I feel that it jinxes things. I also believe that names are a very powerful thing in a person’s life, and shouldn’t be put anywhere unless the person themselves does it.
  5. My mother is in town in just under two weeks (12 days, but who’s counting?). The last time I saw her (or any of my family for that matter) was when Chaide and I married in July 2013. The next time I’ll see any of my family will be for Christmas–almost 2 1/2 years since I saw them last.
As for my nominations… (Apologies if you’ve already been tagged, it’s been busy since Murf nominated me and I’m still catching up on blogs.)

  1. The Godmother of ALT:ernative Chat: Now, while I no longer play WoW, nor do I plan on it in the near future, I like to keep up with what’s going on, and how folks are feeling about it. Back when I played WoW, I always felt like Godmother had a unique way of sharing the news and how she felt about it, and I’ve come to appreciate that–regardless of whether I still play the game or not. Besides, who else can claim that they’ve been passionately writing about the game they love for as long as she has!
  2. Belghast of Tales of the Aggronaut: First of all, the obligatory #BelEffect must be made. Honestly, the first time I read Bel, I looked up to him (and still do) as someone I wanted to emulate and decided to get back into blogging. He posts every single day, and always has something meaningful and interesting to write about.
  3. Braxwolf of Gaming Conversations: Brax first found his way into my feed thanks to the #BelEffect, and I’ve been loving all of his posts and podcasts since. I look up to him as an individual that finds time for his hobby, and his family. I particularly love his podcast, Beyond Bossfights, especially the short segments at the beginning where he interviews his children on what they’re playing, and why they enjoy it. I only hope to be able to be as wonderful a gaming parent when Chaide and I start our Brood.
  4. Scott of Ramblings of a MMO Gamer Guy: Another blogger that found their way into my feed via the #BelEffect, Scott has a unique mix of gaming thoughts and his own artwork thrown together into a wonderful mix. His artwork is amazing, and he’s starting a new bit where he’s creating line art for adults (and kids) to color. Scott is a very interesting individual, who always takes time to chat with folks, and make them feel a part of the blogging community.
While there are a great many bloggers out there that are creative, these are the four that have influenced me most as I’ve delved back into the blogging world. Thank you for all the inspiration as bloggers.
MMO Desires IRL

MMO Desires IRL

Over at Massively OP, the Daily Grind asked:

If you could choose 3 things from your favorite MMO to be in your real life, what would it be and why?

So, I hate writing in comments on sites because there’s always some sort of vitriol that gets thrown around. And while I commend Massively OP for kicking out the trolls, it’s still not something I like to subject myself to on a daily basis. On the internet in general. Honestly, the only place I read the comments is Imgur because they’re just funny.

Anyway, my three things I’d want IRL from MMOs in no particular order are…

1. Fast travel/hearthstone/portals (of some sort or another). This hearkens back to back when I was a kid and first started watching Star Trek. I really wanted to be able to beam around the world like they can in Star Trek.

Hop in your teleporter and then Poof! you’re where you want to be. And then the same thought came back when I watched Sabrina: The Teenage Witch (yeah yeah, laugh if you want… it’s a good show! Hmph.)–What if we could teleport like her? Or Samantha from Bewitched (which I watched in all its Saturday morning Syndication glory)? Or even a Floo Network like in Harry Potter! So yeah. This is something I’ve always wanted to do. It’d make it easier to see my dearest friends more often, and I wouldn’t be going on almost two years since seeing any of my family members.
2. Being able to choose an ideal body type, and keep it. Okay, all political-social and personal-emotional issues aside with body image, there’s a certain body shape I’d love to be. My ideal body type is not the “industry standard” by any means. And while I’m working hard at aiming to lose some weight for health, I don’t know what my body will look like when I hit my goal. In fact, I don’t even know what my goal will be because I don’t know what those weights will look like. I’ve never been thin, or skinny, or even a “healthy weight” in my life, so I have no idea what my body will look like. I don’t know if it’ll look like how I imagine or want it to. I’d love to keep certain aspects of my current looks, but there are definitely things I’d like to tone down, some, too. 
For instance, I like Female Dwarves. Like, a lot. It’s why I play a Female Roegadyn (aka Roegadame) in FFXIV and why my Aurin in WildStar has the largest body-type she can have. I like curves. But I don’t like some of the fat placement outside of those curves. I don’t want washboard abs, per se, but I would like to lose a bit of the fat in certain places. Again, this is not a discussion on personal or social issues with body image. More of a “I’d like to know wtf my body will look like, plzkthx. I’ll work hard for it.”

3. Fantasy aspects present in life–Magic, Dragons, etc. I know, there would be some serious ramifications to having such things in real life. 
And Dragons would need to be a specific type of Dragon. Think more along the lines of Song in the Silence than Lord of the Rings. I mean, this pretty much speaks for itself in description. Who wouldn’t want to have magic powers like Harry Potter et al or Gandalf or your FFXIV character?
    So, what are your three?
    Liebster Award 2015

    Liebster Award 2015

    Towards the end of last week, I was nominated by both Aywren and Iron Weakness to participate in the Liebster Award. A nasty cold/fever knocked me out this weekend, so I am just getting to it now.
    As with Aywren, this is the first time I’ve heard of this, and I am honored to be able to participate in the large chain of bloggers participating in this. 
    So there’s a few different ways to go about this award, as I have researched, but I am going to go the same route as Aywren–state 11 random facts about myself, then answer the questions posed to me by my nominators, create my own list of eleven questions, then try to nominate five other bloggers to participate. The only issue with this last bit, is that most of the blogs I follow have been nominated–so I’m going to try very hard to include folks that haven’t been nominated, which means I might end up picking a podcast folk or two.
    So, without further ado, let’s begin!

    Chestnut’s Random Facts

    • I am a (natural) redhead in real life, so pretty much all of my toons have red hair. At least my mains, anyway.
    • I am a mother to four fur babies–three cats and a dog.
    • I work in the field of corporate education, and I feel very lucky to have a job in my career-of-choice.
    • My favorite animals are Dragons, and I have a very set view on what Dragons are and aren’t. Sometimes to the detriment of my enjoyment in various games.
    • I’ve been classifying myself as a nerd and geek since late elementary school (when I understood what the terms meant).
    • I am terrified of spiders, tarantulas, daddy long-legs, scorpions, and horseshoe crabs.
    • I can handle most gory stuff in media unless it has to deal with female reproduction (people stealing eggs, or that scene in Prometheus) or eyes–shows that have murders or gore pertaining to these make me want to cry.
    • I’m that weird person that hates coffee. I’ll tolerate it when I get a coffee kiss from my husband, Chaide, but I won’t touch the stuff myself.
    • I’m also not a fan of chocolate. I enjoy chocolate, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not something I crave constantly. I have other desserts of choice if I am craving a dessert (Such as fruit tart–OMG!).
    • I always try to believe the best in people, even if it means I get hurt really easily when the llamas come out of the woodwork.
    • It was very hard to come up with eleven random facts about myself, and took me just over an hour to do so. (Yeah, so I’m being lazy on the last one.)

    Aywren’s Questions

    1. If money and time was no object, what would you be doing right now?

    I would be home, gaming, creating to-do lists, updating my blog, writing, RPing, crafting (in real life and in-game), watching TV, cooking, and reading…
    2. What was the name of your first blog?
    This is my first blog, and it has retained its name since its creation. Yep, stuck with this thing for about four and a half years. On and off, of course, until recently when I got back into it full force and for me instead of an audience.
    3. Are you a morning or night person?
    I’m actually not quite sure anymore, based on when I get up for work in the morning. I always used to consider myself a night person, but I’m up so early, I might consider myself a morning person. Honestly, though, it doesn’t really matter, because I’m the type of person that’ll sleep whenever.
    4. If you could live in any period of history, when would it be?
    This is a tough one. I might have to say the future. I have hope that one day people won’t see such things as age, gender, race, religion, weight, social class, etc. and that we’ll all treat each other decently like human beings.
    5. When did you first play video games, and what was the first game you remember playing?
    I would play games on the computer when I was young. Some of my earliest memories are watching my dad play Myst. I was so into it, but he never let me play it. The first game I started playing was Lego Island after it was released, because my parents purchased it for my younger brother. I played it way more than he ever did, though.
    6. Name a gift you will never forget.
    My favorite cat Oberon was a gift from a friend for our wedding. He was given to us because our first cat walked out on us and never returned, and we were heartbroken. Oberon is my baby. He’ll sleep on me in the middle of the night, and come over and headbutt me and put his paws on my leg when he wants attention.
    7. If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
    Pretty. Freaking. Awesome.
    8. Tank, heals, DPS, support, or crowd control?
    This is a tough one, because I love to excel at everything in a game. Call it a completionist or achievement-oriented personality, but I don’t see myself as playing my best if I can’t do any and all of it (eventually).
    9. If you could meet any historical figure, who would you choose and why?
    Any historical figure? I’m honestly not sure. While I enjoy history (and, admittedly, historical fiction), I feel that meeting someone from history I admire would ruin my view on who they are.
    10. What is one item in a MMO inventory that you should probably throw away, but never will?
    I clean out my bags pretty frequently, but, pretty clothes. I like the idea of pretty outfits in games, even if I’m not the best at “costuming” or “cosplaying” or “transmogriphying” other genres/characters.
    11. Do you have a “main” character that you roll consistently in MMOs?
    Chestnut the Tank. In every single game since I met my (now) husband, we’ve always rolled up mains named Chestnut and Chaide. I’m always a tank class, and he’s always a healer class. It’s what we enjoy doing the most.

    Iron Weakness’ Questions

    1. How did you get started blogging?

    I’m going to be shameless, and rip a bit from my about page. This blog started as a way to become more social and overcome my social anxieties by joining the WoW blogging community. Since its conception, it has become more of a general area for me to discuss what I’ve been playing, and my thoughts on various geeky things.
    2. What ability or skillset do you most admire in others but personally lack?
    The ability to forgive and forget. I try my hardest daily to forgive folks for the wrongs they do to myself and to others–whether it be general rudeness, or full on drama-llama shit-storm. And some folks have the gift to shrug it off and move along and forgive. I’m one to take it personally, hold onto it, and mull for a very long time. I feel like I’m getting better at forgiving others and moving on with my life, but it has take a lot of time and practice. And it’s never easy.
    3. You’re a long forgotten celebrity from the 80s looking to make a comeback. Which reality show do you make an appearance on and why?
    Quite possibly The Tester, because it’s about video gaming, and I would hope folks would understand that anyone and everyone can enjoy (and work in) gaming by my participation.
    4. What’s the origin of your blogging name?
    My blogging name first started out as Essence (even though I’d rolled up my first Chestnut toon at that point), because that’s what my gamertag on XB was (or it’s similar, at least). It has since migrated to Chestnut, because that’s how I’ve been known online while gaming for over five years, now.
    5. Which blogger would you like to meet in real life and why?
    There’s a lot of bloggers I’d love to meet in real life, and I hope to do so one day, but at this moment in time, I’d very much like to meet Belghast, as he’s been a pretty awesome person that’s made me feel more confident in being myself and blogging the way I want to. So, thanks, Bel, for being awesomesauce-tacular.
    6. What is the most important thing you’ve learned from blogging?
    Fab question! The most important thing I’ve learned is that I need to write for myself. Yeah, it’s nice to have hits, and have folks read what I write and comment on it, but most of all, I need to write for myself, and be social as a part of the community for myself. Doing it for myself makes it something enjoyable, and not a chore, nor something where I feel like I’m being social as an ends-to-a-means.
    7. What work of fiction would you like to see made into an MMO virtual world that hasn’t been done already?
    Oh, this is a tough one. My favorite author, Jennifer Fallon, has some fabulous works and series that link together in the same universe (Hythrun Chronicles) that would be absolutely interesting to explore. However, it would need to contain all of the political drama the novels do to feel real to the environment. There’s magic users and normal humans, and it’d be a very neat dichotomy to try to make everyone on equal footing.
    8. What role of the holy trinity of tank/dps/healer fits your personality most?
    Along the lines of Aywren’s question, I would have to say I’m a fluid mix of all three. I like to be a leader and tank/heal folks. But I’m also one willing to step back and let other people take the spotlight. Some days it’s nice to be a faceless DPS, and other days I like holding people’s lives in my hands.
    9. If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?
    I’ve never been good at these questions, because there’s so many super powers that’re epic. I think I might like to control fire or water, though. Something elemental-based. Though telekinesis would be cool, too. Maybe pyrokinesis?
    10. If you could cut and paste your favorite games into one mega-ultra-super MMO, what would it look like?
    I haven’t really played enough games to feel like I could cut and paste certain aspects into a super-ulta-epic MMO. I can tell you, that my favorite MMOs have included things such as: a challenging crafting system, a player-driven market where things actually sell, mini-pets, mounts to collect, achievements, housing (though I’m not the best at house design), and great social tools within the game.
    11. If you were to start up a video game company, what would you name it?
    Man, the tough questions! This is something I’d have to take the time to think about. Coming up with a blog title took me weeks when I first created this, so I can’t imagine how long it’d take me to try to come up with a name for a company of any sort.

    My Questions

    1. What prompted you to first start your blog/site?
    2. What is your favorite season? Why?
    3. Do you have a favorite zone from a game? What is it? Which game?
    4. What is your dream career?
    5. Name three bands or singers that would be in your dream concert lineup.
    6. How did you choose your blogging name?
    7. Which blogger/podcaster would you like to meet in real life and why?
    8. What is your favorite game?
    9. If you could change one thing in your life, would you? What and why?
    10. Do you see yourself still enjoying gaming when you hit 100 years old?
    11. Tabletop, PC, or Console?

    My Nominations

    I will be nominating the following folks:

    Live Long and Prosper, Spock

    Live Long and Prosper, Spock

    This will be short and sweet, as Syp has said it much better than I ever could.

    But it hit me really hard today, to hear that Leonard Nimoy had passed away. When I read on Star Trek’s site a few days ago that he had been admitted to the hospital for his COPD, I was a tad worried, but was positive he’d be around for a while yet.
    It hit me like a wall today to find out he’d passed. I literally cried in my cube at work for a good half hour or so. While I wasn’t a youngin’ at the time that Star Trek was on television, it’s something that my parents made sure I watched in full force. I always admired those pointy-eared weird unemotional folks. I wondered how they could keep it all together like that.
    As I got older, I admired the cast for their roles in other materials and their amazing forward thinking on social issues. They were role models, through and through.
    I don’t have much more to say than he will be sorely missed, and my thoughts go out to his family during this time.
    Live Long and Prosper.
    The Week in Retrospect: SKYRIM!!!

    The Week in Retrospect: SKYRIM!!!

    So, to keep myself blogging at least once a week (hopefully more?), I plan on posting about what’s happened during the week for me regarding gaming, and possibly real life if it isn’t too personal or something. (There’s only so much one can be willing to put on the Interwebs, right?)

    The Blog
    This week I spent some time updating the blog layout. More minor tweaks than anything. Changed some colors around so they weren’t so ouchy on the eyes (which I discovered with a new monitor were quite ouchy) as well as elongating the banner and hosting it on a (really small) personal space I had during grad school. It was somehow pixelated when I uploaded it through Blogger, and I couldn’t figure out why since it was a 100% quality JPG. But, it’s all fixed now.

    Next on the list is updating the Pages (especially the Games tab), and putting together my Blog Roll/Link Love. I have so many blogs that I follow that it’s a somewhat daunting task, but I’m hoping to get it squared away tonight if I am not needed in the alt-Firelands.

    The Blogosphere
    I’ve recently hopped in on Angelya’s IntPiPoMo challenge, and am excited to post more shots. There are none today because of this post (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it), but I’m readily uploading images to ScrnTAG (my new obsession) and have set up the order I want to post certain shots.

    World of Warcraft
    Not much has gone on in WoW, lately. We’re now 6/7 Heroic modes, and have made a few attempts at Heroic Rag, but we’re not going to push him like mad. For one, it’s the Holidays, and for another, we don’t feel the need to down him prior to 4.3. We’re cool with trying to get him before 5.0, or maybe later. Who knows.

    We did spend Thursday night running through BWD heroics. We’d only downed two bosses at level in BWD before shit went down with members and the guild had a mini-implosion with the raiders, but we went in and spanked all of them except Nef and got lots of achievements in the process. We decided to forgo Nef this week and instead grab the achievement on him since we didn’t have it.

    We also did quite a few quick gearing/alt runs in BoT and ToFW in which we got a bunch of achievements for people once again. Even a few that some mains didn’t have.

    Tonight is night one of two of our gearing/alt Firelands run. I’m hoping to be able to sit out since Shaelee now has her 4-pc for Resto and let those that still need gear have a go. I’d like to maybe run some dungeons with guildies that still need them and finish putting together my Enchance set while the rest of the folks are in Firelands.

    Or maybe level an alt. My newest one, Maagie the Forsaken Mage has recently dinged ten and I’m itching to play her some more. I just love Frost mages. I’ve been Frost my entire time playing Mages and won’t play anything else–I just couldn’t get into Fire or Arcane back in TBC. I also have tons of rested on my baby Warrior, my Sunwalker and my Hunter and Rogue. I should probably eat that up so I can get more…

    Other Games
    Last month the Elephant and I started playing EVE Online with a fellow guildmate. We’re having a blast but haven’t played much the past few weeks due to moving and work and such.

    We also haven’t played much because of… SKYRIM! Yes, we’ve both been bitten by the Skyrim bug. I think our entire guild has. Gamertags are being exchanged and Skyrim talk abounds in guild chat throughout the day.

    Much as I dislike Elves, I am playing a Wood Elf (I wanted the Archery bonuses) that is a member of the Companions. I won’t spoil anything but all I can say is, eventually do the Companions quest line–even if you roll another character or some such. The goal with my character is to play more of a “Thief” archetype with Archery, but still be effective in close combat situations. It’s working well so far.

    I’ve been watching the Elephant play a lot of the Mage quest lines related to the College, and they are freaking cool! The amount of work that went into this game is amazing. The Elephant is playing more of a Destruction focused Dark Elf Mage. All casting all the time. I don’t know that I could do that. It doesn’t have the balance I like. But it’s still really cool to watch because he rocks at Console games. Well, he rocks at games in general.

    Books
    I haven’t had much time to read while playing Skyrim, but I’ve recently started a new book: Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite. I’ve never gotten into Vampire books before. It just wasn’t my thing. My thing is all Dragons all the time, or Fantasy with a bit of political intrigue and war thrown in the pot. I’m enjoying the book so far, and it’s had a few twists I didn’t expect.

    The book took some time to get into. I didn’t expect the writing to be nearly as decadent as it is. I plan on finishing the book because I love the characters and want to know what happens, but I don’t know that I’d read any more Vampire literature. To me, it’s like eating the stickiest, sweetest chocolate cake that never disappears. Y’know, maybe that’s not the best way of putting it considering many people like Chocolate more than I do. But you catch my drift.

    Wrap it Up
    I honestly don’t know how to end these. I’ll have to work on that. So if you have ideas, let me know. But for now, it’s off to the alt-raid to see if I am needed and then work on other things and get ready for tomorrow as it’s an early day.