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The Accidental Podcaster: Back To (Digital) Basics
Jul 20th 2016
I hit a new achievement in my digital farming last night.
My careful return on investment analysis for my digital crops at the beginning of the digital season meant I brought in more than enough profits to hire someone to build me a digital barn and expand my animal stock with four young cows, which in honor of my colleagues at RCM I have named Cowyar, Baron Von Cowsu, Killer McCow, and CowCoCow. Once I have reached the level that allows expansion of my barn, I will add to my herd with Vampy Cowtaker, teh_leet_milker, and BioMooCowcamist (I did not follow similar naming conventions with my chickens, but do get a naughty chuckle every time I see the one I named MotherClucker running around). With the game's winter approaching, I will soon shift focus from crops to my new animals and working on the maple grove I've carved at the edge of my estate, which I have named the Alpine Retreat and rule with my digital cat, Hobbes (who loves me, unlike those snotty villagers in Pelican Town). All around us in our little corner of Stardew Valley is abundance and serenity.
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Essay Series: What I Love About Gaming, Part 4
Jul 13th 2016
This summer, the RCM Writing department started its first Summer Writing program with four college interns from around the US. One of their first assignments was to write an op-ed essay on what they love about gaming. Evee's essay is the final installment in this four-part series.

Video Games: The Future of Story-Telling
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The Accidental Podcaster: I Hate Your Voice
Jul 13th 2016
I had just finished a phone call with an incoming student and was jotting down my notes when a shadow cast itself over my little cubby. I glanced over my shoulder to see the overly fake-helpful face of a coworker blocking the narrow entrance to my corner.
Yay.
"What's up?" I asked, noticing her pudgy fingers fidgeting with my fliers.
Article
Essay Series: What I Love About Gaming, Part 3
Jul 6th 2016
This summer, the RCM Writing department started its first Summer Writing program with four college interns from around the US. One of their first assignments was to write an op-ed essay on what they love about gaming. Ray's essay is the third installment in this four-part series.

I was a gamer until school became more serious and time-consuming.
Article
The Accidental Podcaster: This Too Shall Pass
Jul 5th 2016
I've always been an anxious person. I want to blame circumstance - my parents split up when I was very young, as the eldest child I had a lot of responsibilities put on me from a very young age, etc. - but truth be told, my anxious tendencies started long before that. One of my earliest memories was when I was around four years old, landing at the chalkboard in our playroom with my father as he taught me phonetics (I started reading insanely early) and being very upset that I'd made a mistake because I was certain the other children would mock me for it. A good chunk of my free time as a child was learning was to prepare for disasters, both likely and unlikely. I have been known to replay and obsess over conversations that took place fifteen years ago. When planning for the future, I always envision the worst possible circumstances and use that as by baseline for preparation. All things considered, I find it somewhat amazing I don't have a tiny Doom cloud following me about at all times.
Probably one of the most entertaining examples of this took place on my first day of kindergarten. It started with a mysterious note slipped under the classroom door. The hallway was empty; the note, a taunt from a creature signing himself as "The Gingerbread Man." Our class was tasked was to go around the building and catch him. The problem was, each place we went, we were told we'd just missed him and had to solve a clue to figure out where he was headed next. It was extremely frustrating. Having seen many spy and action thrillers, I was convinced the gingerbread man may have tossed us a red herring and doubled back, so I made my new friend Brian help me thoroughly check all the wastebaskets and under the chairs, convinced we could find and capture the little perp before he could do something bad. After all, why else would he be on the run? I could only assume nefarious deeds were in play or on the horizon. It didn't help that I was momentarily sidetracked when we visited the library, something I'd never experienced before, and blamed myself for the GBM getting away that time. The school staff, though helpful in assisting the other children to read the clues, seemed completely oblivious to the impending danger threatened by this gingerbread man, as was evidenced by their failure to try and apprehend it despite their witnessing the creature as it cut through their various rooms and offices.
If only I had been more vigilant...
Article
Essay Series: What I Love About Gaming, Part 2
Jun 29th 2016
This summer, the RCM Writing department started its first Summer Writing program with four college interns from around the US. One of their first assignments was to write an op-ed essay on what they love about gaming. Ruby Re's essay is the second installment in this four-part series.

To be perfectly honest, I never thought I would be a gamer.
Article
The Accidental Podcaster: Zinger's In The Cup
Jun 29th 2016
There are a variety of sayings we have in the RCM staff room to denote an acquiescence to calm. Varyar, for example, is a swimmer, so he favors the allegory of the problems being like water going over a duck. Hax reminds us of the Sith Code. Killer has a particular sigh. But my personal favorite is the phrase 'Zinger's in the cup.' The 'Zinger' is in reference to my favorite tea, which I tend to consume while I'm working and serves as an anchor to my well-being. To have Zinger in the cup means remembering that in spite of whatever crazy is going on in the world around you, there are still tiny bits of comfort to get you through; a physical reminder of "don't worry, you got this."
Saturday afternoon, I went through about five cups.
This weekend we held the first RivalCon, a two-day festival of friendship and gaming that saw community members of Rivalcastia come in from all over the country (and Sweden!) to play in person with friends they've known for years, but in many cases had never met face to face. It's a good time, to be sure.
Article
The 64 is 20!
Jun 24th 2016
On June 23, 1996, a whopping twenty years ago, the Nintendo 64 officially launched in Japan. It would make its way to American store shelves a few months later, but I'll get to that in a moment.
I was a Nintendo kid growing up. I was too poor to really enjoy the NES much beyond the Super Mario Bros. trilogy, but the SNES was my jam through high school. That system introduced me to my first taste of fighting games, RPGs, action platformers, and even space shooters. Some of my best memories involve renting games from Blockbuster Video and trying to beat them before I had to return them; I marathoned through Super Mario RPG and Donkey Kong Country 2 in just this fashion. The point is that I was hyped beyond hype for the system when I first read about "Project Reality" in GamePro magazine. Nintendo's going up to SIXTY-FOUR bits, take that PlayStation and Saturn! I got even more excited playing Crusin' USA and Killer Instinct in the local arcade, both games proudly blasting that "ULTRA 64" logo in their attract loops.
Article
Essay Series: What I Love About Gaming, Part 1
Jun 22nd 2016
This summer, the RCM Writing department started its first Summer Writing program with four college interns from around the US. One of their first assignments was to write an op-ed essay on what they love about gaming. Barrtender's essay is the first installment in this four-part series.
It's hard to say exactly what got me into Dragon Age. I'd always been a fan of more casual games in the past (Legend of Zelda, Kirby, and the quintessential childhood favorite, Pokemon), so the jump from the cartoony fun of the Nintendo classics to the politics driven world of Thedas was an odd one. I actually had Origins sitting in my Origins library for nearly a year before even bothering to play it; they'd had a free download deal somewhere along the line, and I decided to grab it just because I could.
And man, was I sorry that I had waited.
Article
Sims Update Opens New Possibilities
Jun 17th 2016
I have always really loved The Sims. I enjoy how much creativity players are allowed when creating their virtual world and one of its most important aspects of this freedom is character design. Recently, the game released an update that allows for more options for character design. After choosing whether the character is male or female, players now have the ability to access all of the character design aspects for either characters, including clothing, accessories, and different hairstyles. In their news statement, Maxis stated, "The Sims is made by a diverse team for a diverse audience, and it's really important to us that players are able to be creative and express themselves through our games. We want to make sure players can create characters they can identify with or relate to through powerful tools that give them influence over a Sims gender, age, ethnicity, body type and more."
Personally, I think this was a great decision. Identity in gaming can be made up of a lot of factors. When I am designing my characters, I either design them to represent me as I am or as who I would like to be. For some players, their characters have no representation of their identity, and for others, their characters are who they really are, even if it is not what their outward appearance appears to be. This is where this update is really nice. It continues to give flexibility to the players, allowing them to put as many aspects of themselves into their characters as they would like. For people who do not identify as their culturally assigned gender, this update would allow them to create a character to represent who they are. Or, if a player is more gender fluid, it would give them the opportunity to combine whatever masculine or feminine identity traits they see fit. It is now up to the players to determine how immersed they would like to be in their virtual world with their characters. As the video included in the article states, "Create Who You Want."
I would like to see more games adopt this style of character creation. However, I do recognize that in some games, character creation may not be that important. For example, I am currently playing Destiny. From my perspective, my character is really awesome, and I particularly love the mohawk that I chose for her. Yet, I am the only one who can see this; all of the other online players only see my character in her armor, which makes me pretty disappointed. I prefer to be more immersed in my gaming experiences; therefore I would enjoy having more options to make my character whoever I wanted them to be. For games that rely more heavily on a storyline, these character design features may also be less important. Either way, it will be interesting to see how the gaming community overall reacts to this update, and I am looking forward to seeing some of the many characters that will be created as a result.