GeekyNerdy Book Club: You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day

Welcome back to the GNCB, a bi-monthly book club hosted by Geeky Musings from a Nerdy Girl.  We’re switching it up this month with some nonfiction: the memoir of Felicia Day, geek girl extraordinaire.

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So, imagine you’re at some fancy Hollywood party.  You come upon a cute redhead talking a mile a minute and making everyone laugh.

“Oh hey, you’re Felicia Day,” you say.  “How did you come to ever make The Guild/”Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog”/your YouTube channel Geek and Sundry/etc.?”

“Well, when I was a kid…” and she launches into her life story for the next five hours.

And reading this book is what that conversation would be like.  It’s one part fact, one part emotion, and two parts awkward hilarity.  Genuine Felicia Day.

I’ve been a fan of Day since I first saw her webseries The Guild circa 2008 (in fact one of my first posts on this blog was about her launching Geek and Sundry).  From her acting roles and YouTube channel I was able to learn a few things about her, such as that she plays the violin and has a brother.  But this book covers so much of her life: her homeschooled childhood, starting her dual math/music major at 16, her struggle to make it in Hollywood, which sort of led to her World of Warcraft gaming, which sort of led to her creation of The Guild, and then even up to relatively current events like her sale of Geek and Sundry and being doxxed as collateral damage in Gamergate.

I think the part of the book that impacted me the most was how she talks throughout about her mental health issues.  She speaks pretty candidly about the fact that she was actually addicted to WOW and was using it to fill a void in her life.  She talks about sitting in the car feeling like she’s going to throw up before a big meeting.  Clearly Felicia Day and I are soul sisters, firstly because we have red hair, second because we’re nerds and geeks, and third, because I know exactly what she’s talking about when she describes her anxiety, risk-aversion, obsessiveness, depression, perfectionism, and desire to avoid confrontation at all costs.

For this reason, my favorite part of the book was the middle section where she talks about turning around her WOW addiction, and about the female support group that helped motivate her to start writing The Guild, and then helped her actually create the web series (by filming it on a super tiny budget, mostly in Day’s house over a few days).  This story was seriously inspirational to me, who is staring down 30 and trying to write the same “practice” novel I’ve been working on for, like, three years now.  There were a lot of funny “coffee mug slogans” in the book, but I think my favorite is from this section:

You Can Attempt Anything

Yup, it sounds Hallmark-Card-trite, but I’m definitely understanding her meaning that you should let your desires and dreams guide and motivate you.

Another thing I related to in this book was Day’s search for her fellow geeks and how the Internet made that possible.  I myself have found “my people” on the Internet, just as much as in real life.  It started in high school when I was writing fan fiction and interacting with other writers on fanfiction.net.  And then to a lesser degree when I started playing SWTOR, the Star Wars MMO (at first I was absolutely paralyzed by the idea of even briefly grouping with any other players I didn’t know; I’m better now).  Now my blog is a major source of socialization for me.  It’s been a wonderful outlet for my geeky thoughts (which is why I started blogging), and I love being able to talk Star Wars, anime, comics, writing, gaming, etc. with a diverse group of bloggers I follow (which has been a wonderful bonus).

PHEW! Ok, this was a long review, but as you can see I really enjoyed the book, and I would highly recommend it (but maybe only if you know who Felicia Day actually is?  Don’t confuse her with Emily Blunt, haha).  If you want to check out GeekyNerdyGirl’s original book club post, head here.

Our next selection will be Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey.  I’ve already read this one and loved it (I’m currently in the middle of the 3rd book in the series), so I’m excited to revisit it…and I’m trying to get my husband to read it also. Feel free to join in if you are interested!

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International Tabletop Day

What comes to your mind when I say “board games?”  Maybe something like Clue, Risk, or the dreaded Monopoly.  These are the games that Americans of my generation grew up with.

But that only scratches the surface of the current state of board games.  For the past 5-10 years, a little sub-culture of gamers has been popped up, in conjunction with the rise of “Eurogames,” like Settlers of Catan, which tend to have relatively short playtimes, simple economy-style mechanics, and emphasize strategy a little more than luck or chance.

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Playing Mysterium

I am not a competitive person, and I won’t say that I enjoy all board games (I am TERRIBLE at bluffing games and intimidated by heavy strategy/wargames).  But there are such a variety of fun games out there, it is easy to find something you like to play with your spouse, grandmother, or a group of friends.

Today is International Tabletop Day, and I’d encourage you to check out some of my favorite tabletop games: Ticket to Ride, Pandemic, Dominion, Mysterium, Splendor, Codenames, and 7 Wonders.  They have all different fun themes, and some are for groups, some are cooperative, some are card-drafting, etc.  Something for everyone!

If you want more info about different board games, check out Jaysen’s Now It’s Your Turn series on his blog for detailed descriptions with some humor.

If you want to find a meet-up in your area for Tabletop Day, go to Geek and Sundry’s Community Event locator.  If you’re in Northeast Ohio, the Board Gamers of Greater Akron (BOGA) meet at the Quirk Cultural Center in Cuyahoga Falls.  Board gamers tend to be very friendly people, so go meet some and have some fun!

Now Playing: Board games from the BOGA retreat

B and I had a great time a few weekends ago at the annual Board Gamers of Greater Akron retreat.  In addition to learning some new games and playing old favorites, I got plenty of downtime for reading, too–crucial for an introvert like me!

Here are some highlights; check these out if you like board games!

Mysterium

I wrote about this fun social deduction game before, describing it as a co-op mix of Clue and Dixit.  I recently played the American version that came out last year; it has really nice pieces and adds some new gameplay elements that make it more of a “game.”

Codenames

The name and spy theme may remind you of The Resistance, but this large-group team game has more in common with Password or Taboo.  Each team has a spymaster, who gives one-word clues to the other team members to get them to guess certain words on the board.  The result is always hilarity.

Being the spymaster is hard but fun.  I think the key is to not be too pedantic and try to think how your teammates think!

Ticket to Ride: Team Asia

Ticket to Ride is one of my favorite Eurogames, but I’ve only played the USA and Europe maps of this fun train-building game.  So I jumped at the chance to try the Asia map, which has one side for a team version where you share some route goals with a partner.  I loved it!

The hardest part of this game is finding the cities you need to get to on the map.  You will feel incompetent at geography.

Splendor

I asked for this card drafting/set collection game for Christmas before I ever played it, and sure enough it’s awesome.  First, it’s just a pretty game: nice pieces, nice artwork.  It’s also fairly simple and quick, and has great replay value.  Plus I won the first time I played! (To be fair, I think there’s a first player advantage).

 

Jaipur

I was referring to this as the “camel game” when B informed me that there are, in fact, multiple Eurogames with camel themes.  Who knew?

Anyway, this is a quick, easy, 2-player game with a fun merchant-trader theme.  Did I mention the camels? I love the camels.

Now Playing: Life is Strange

After spending last year re-playing KOTOR II, this year my goal is to play some more contemporary games.  I’ve picked up Life is Strange, a light fantasy, graphic adventure game for PC and console; I’m playing it through Steam.

My husband has been bugging me to play this since it came out last year.  He loved it, and our taste in story-based games usually aligns pretty well, so I’ve been looking forward to playing it as well.  (Also, it’s published by Square Enix, which is a recommendation in itself.)

2016-02-07_00001Our protagonist, the doe-eyed Max, has just moved back to her old hometown to attend the prestigious Blackwell Academy with its excellent photography program.

While she may have anticipated the cliques of Mean Girls there, she did not anticipate reuniting with her old best friend Chloe under bizarre circumstances, or a school mystery involving drugs, surveillance, and a missing girl…or suddenly getting a supernatural power that lets her rewind time.

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Max testing out her time control power in the junkyard.

 While the first episode is mainly about Max figuring how to use her new power, the answers to how and why she got it in the first place are slowly building over the series.

I actually watched my husband play the first episode last year, so I already knew the essence of the game.  I’m up to the third episode now.  The gameplay is pretty easy (I’m playing without a mouse, even), and the story and characters are very interesting.

Player choice is another interesting component of the game.  It appears that many different actions and dialogue choices affect the storyline of the game.  It’s even a little ominous when something as simple as watering a plant pops up a little icon at the top of the screen saying “This action with have consequences.”

DUN DUN DUN.

Of course, because Max can rewind a limited amount of time, you can go back and re-do most decisions.  In fact, sometimes you have to try things multiple times, simply to gain more information.  It’s kind of a fun safety net.  I feel like I’m still learning how to use Max’s powers to best advantage, like there’s more I can get out of the game if I apply them better.

I like that there are a small amount of cinematic scenes, but most of the time the player is in control.  And the shift between them is pretty seamless.

I do find the voice acting to be a little awkward at times, trying too hard to make the teenage slang sound natural.  But the scenery and character design are wonderful, and the soundtrack really fits nicely and adds another level to the mood and tone of the story.

Max is a good protagonist, and she’s surrounded by a wonderful supporting cast.  The game does a decent job with diversity of characters, too, especially for being set in an elite boarding school.  In particular, there are many rounded female characters with different personalities and body types, from the science teacher Ms. Grant to the punk, blue-haired Chloe.

I also like that there’s not too much romance going on, and what there is, is subtle.  Max is friends with an adorably geeky boy named Warren, who clearly likes Max but is stuck in the friend zone.  I’m doing my best to get him out, but Max is kinda oblivious.  (Well, she does have a lot on her plate right now…)

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TEAM WARREN

So in short, this is a fun game I’d recommend.  I’m looking forward to finishing it soon and seeing how all my decisions throughout the game turn out in the end.

The cats want me to finish, too, so they can have their lap back.

 

Christmas Haul!

I got so many awesome things from my family and friends this Christmas!  One of my friends actually made me pottery.  How cool is that?

Millenium Falcon

You’ve already seen the awesome Falcon my husband made me…it was filled with candy, as well as Star Wars-themed cups.  The cups had images from various movies, etc., but I was kinda disappointed that the Rebels one had Ezra, Kanan, and Zeb but not Hera or Sabine. 😦  I did get a Captain Phasma lollipop though!

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Look, there’s even a satellite dish and a spot for the cockpit to angle off.

He also got me some Christmas lawn decorations.  There was some jumping and excited screaming involved.

t.rex

Yes, that is a T-rex with a Christmas present.  Yes, his head moves.  YES, THERE IS A MATCHING STEGOSAURUS WITH A SANTA HAT THAT ALSO MOVES ITS TAIL.  I’ll post pics of that one some time, too.

My husband is the best.

Books (aka the best gift ever)

  • xxxHolic v1 by the incomparable CLAMP and Ms. Marvel v1 —I want to read more comics this year!
  • Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde—all my friends rave about this author
  • Several sci-fi and fantasy books by local authors, including The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima
  • Skylights by Luther Siler—oh wait, I bought that for myself.

Board Games

  • Splendor—a very fun card drafting/development game with very pretty art.  It has pretty simple mechanics, plays 2-4 people, and has good replay value.
  • Mysterium—the English version of a fun social game I wrote about previously; it’s like a mix of Dixit and Clue
  • B also received One Night Ultimate Werewolf, Sheriff of Nottingham, and Codenames
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The board game pile keeps getting bigger.

Other Media

  • Frozen—there’s going to be a lot of singing
  • The Force Awakens soundtrack by John Williams—I can’t wait to get a better listen to this.  I think it will be great writing music!

Last but not least:

  • R2 soup—yes, my parents got me a can of Star Wars soup as a Christmas present.  I absolutely ate it and it was delicious.
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The Star Wars shapes totally make it taste better.