Gaming without your brother

Category Archives: Administrative

I should’ve hyped this at least a week ago on this blog, but since I didn’t a) I’ll hype it now and b) this will serve as a dumping ground for ALL of the things I’m giving away tomorrow. There are so many. I will update this as games, skins, and keys are claimed.

I’m streaming at twitch.tv/littlesisgaming for 24 hours starting noon MT 11/21/2015 and giving away ALL THIS STUFF! For donations to my Extra Life page, of course 🙂 Deets found under the “How do I get this stuff” heading!

Steam Game Giveaways for Extra Life!

  1. 2 copies of Bastion*
  2. Broken Sword: Director’s Cut
  3. Dear Esther
  4. Dust: An Elysian Tail*
  5. FEZ*
  6. Gone Home*
  7. Hotline Miami*
  8. The Swapper
  9. Organ Trail: Director’s Cut
  10. Splice*
  11. Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP*
  12. Thomas Was Alone*
  13. Waking Mars

Also

The entire Humble Bundle 4. It was awhile ago, but has some of my favorite indie games of all time. The bundle will be 12 games total! The games are: And Yet It Moves, BIT.TRIP RUNNER*, Cave Story+, Cogs*, Crayon Physics Deluxe*, Gratuitous Space Battles, Hammerfight, Jamestown, NightSky, Shank*, Super Meat Boy*, VVVVVV*

*Games I can personally endorse because I love them so much. You should try to get this bundle!

Smite Giveaways

  1. 3 Xing Tian Indomitable skins
  2. 3 Zeus Wrath of Olympus skins
  3. 2 Odin DaimyOdin skins

Paladins Giveaways

3 closed beta keys to the new arena shooter from Hi-Rez, Paladins

How do  I get this awesome stuff!?

Donate any amount to my Extra Life page and be sure to say what game/skin you would prefer to get. Want more than one entry? Donate more than once! Want to be in the running for more than 1 game/skin? Donate more than once and write different donation messages! Supa easy.

I’ll put it in a spreadsheet and every so often, use a random number generator to pick a row and get that person their game or skin!

To get the Humble Bundle 4, donate $10+ and say “Humble Bundle 4” in your donation message to be in the running! I can’t split up the bundle so it’s all or nothin’, baby!

Stream Perks for Donations

Donate $15 or more to my Extra Life fundraising page and you can choose what game I play on stream for at least an hour! Check out all my games here (be sure to click Platform and sort by PC – can’t play console games on stream at the moment). I will also snag NES or SNES ROMs if you donate and want me to play anything retro 🙂


Earlier this year, game developer Konami announced that it was shifting its focus. Instead of relying on its top-tier console titles, the company is adapting some of its more popular franchises to the casual casino-gaming and mobile free-to-play school of gaming. The move, while upsetting for some, comes as little surprise. The company had been seeing declining profits in its console gaming division for years despite big name titles like the Metal Gear Solid series.

According to Digital Trends, the first two titles the company is introducing to casinos and pachinko parlors in Japan are the survival-horror franchise Silent Hill and the vampire-slaying platformer series Castlevania. For some gamers, these announcements feel like a slap in the face. Many were looking forward to a now-shelved console sequel to Silent Hill developed in collaboration with Pan’s Labyrinth and Pacific Rim director Guillermo del Toro.

The low overhead and high return-on-investment from mobile and casino gaming has many companies traditionally known for their console titles looking to move their business to the “freemium” based model sustained by micro-transactions. And Konami isn’t done with just two titles as it’ll showcase many more of its casino offerings at the Global Gaming Expo this fall. CNN reports that the classic highway-hopping game, Frogger, will make its way to the casino floor. The press release also hints that even more classic properties, including Contra and Dungeons & Dragons, will be unveiled.

“Players have the chance to experience their favorite Frogger features with a real-money casino spin,” said Matt Reback, vice president of marketing at Konami Gaming, Inc. “While the primary game carries modernized character art paired alongside our proven video slot features and math, the game’s mystery Frogger Bonus allows players to relive the classic road and river crossing course in retro-pixelated glory.

The conference will take place at the Sands Expo and Convention Center adjacent to the Venetian Palazzo and is expected to bring more than 25,000 industry professionals to Las Vegas. “Visitors to this year’s G2E will have no doubt about Konami’s unique role in the industry,” said Reback. “We’re leveraging our company’s gaming entertainment legacy, backed by an operational stability and dedication to product quality that engenders confidence in the global gaming market.” The expo takes place from Sept. 29 through Oct. 1.

This news comes hot on the heels of a movement for new regulations to allow traditional skill-based video games to operate alongside the usual games of chance, such as slot machines. CBS Local reports that the proposed requirements for skill-based games would include providing detailed game rules in advance as well as informing players of potential outcomes.

If the latest regulations go through and Konami’s new gamble pays off, you can definitely expect to see more of your favorite titles in the gambling realm. It’s not that far of stretch to even imagine Nintendo trying to take advantage of this lucrative new market.

Written by Blaine Kelton, who can be reached at BLKelton [at] outlook [dot] com. Blaine is a freelance writer with an interest in mobile gaming currently focusing on portability as it relates to control schemes and the remastering of 8- and 16-bit art styles.


One week down! And in a week of streaming, I’ve had an amazing blast (albeit not the most consistent schedule but it’ll get better) and I’m just looking to move onward and upward!

The first improvement idea I’ve had bouncing around my brain is doing some older games, not just because they’re most easily accessible but also because I love the ones I’ve already played and there are some old ones I never finished playing (for shame). So here’s where the brain trust (you guys) come in: is a stream day dedicated to Flashback Friday/Throwback Thursday too hackneyed? Do you imagine people would be okay with getting through an old game only one day a week at a time? Does that sound like something you guys would be interested in? Fill out the poll and let me know!

If you have ideas, more thoughts, or more suggestions on stream improvements, I’m BEGGING you to leave a comment or tweet at me or email me! Thanks, friends!


The past two weeks have been kind of amazing. I wrapped up my semester, I got all of my new hardware to build my new AMD PC, the motherboard and/or CPU pooped out on me, so I replaced the motherboard, got the second one yesterday, and it also didn’t work, so it might be both again, or maybe it’s been the CPU the whole time? I dunno but what a whirlwind big city adventure (read: highly annoying and I’ve wanted to pull out my hair everyday and I might have actually shed a tear or three yesterday because I was so. damn. frustrated). But I channeled one of my favorite adages – done is better than perfect.

So instead of waiting for replacement parts, we’re running with Twitch TODAY! On my laptop. Which is super beefy, to it’s credit, but you know – smaller monitor, OBS has problems recording the monitor which is poopy for PC games, etc. etc. BUT WE’RE DOING IT ANYWAY! Done is better than perfect. And to be clear, I worked out OBS so the recording will be great.

Today I’ll be going live with Middle-Earth: Shadows of Mordor around 3pm Mountain Time (which is also 2pm Pacific Time if that helps anyone). In the future, I plan to stream for about 3 to 4 hours, but today I have a DND campaign to get to at 6pm so I’ll be cutting it around 5:30pm. AND this will all be on twitch.tv/littlesisgaming (different from where I streamed all my Extra Life stuff last year so take note). Can you believe the full sister URL/username was taken? Boo.

My schedule moving forward is Tuesday through Saturday, 3pm (Mountain Time) to whenever I feel like stopping, but most likely for at least 4 hours. And that’s Twitch! The lighting it subpar, the mic is good enough, and the setup on my end is a hodgepodge of cords and balancing monitors on books and speakers, but IT WORKS! And done is better than perfect.

Can’t wait to catch some of you this afternoon!


So my last post was super anti-climatic because I was building my new desktop and was going to start streaming and blogging and being a general badass all summer, and while that is STILL the plan, it’s all been put on hold due to a poopy motherboard. Motherboards, amirite? Sigh. But in the interlude of the replacement being shipped to my apartment, I thought I’d wax eloquent for a minute about why I’ve been MIA for the past 8 to 9 months, and what I’ve been doing.

I posted a while back that my new blogging spot on the ‘net would be at my school-mandated, development blog. Turns out most of that was unintelligible fluff, because it was an assignment, and I didn’t put any effort into it towards the last half of my first semester, and onwards, AND the faculty read it so it has to be pretty vanilla. Not that if I was really burning to say something snarky that would’ve stopped me but it just made it easier to post things like “Boy, what a great week of development on our prototype! We hit some roadblocks, but worked together as a team and overcame that hurdle!” *yawn*

I tweeted a week or two ago the following sentiments (PS I’m back on dat Twitter game FUH REAL) but I’ll expound here: loving video games is not a good indicator of your skill at designing video games. Far and away, the program I’m in pushes really hard for every student to internalize good game design principles. The past few days I was reading a book that my therapist recommended to me that has a lot of information I’m not sure I agree with or not but it did talk a lot about finding what you really want to do, no matter how silly it sounds. It made me think back to a year and a half ago when I applied to this program; did I really want to design games? Or did I just want to be more a part of a medium I love? I ask that but I suppose I already know – no, I didn’t want to design games. I didn’t really think about it, might be a more fair deduction. I saw a program about video games and thought YEAH! Video games! Which is kind of a terrible reason to be so far into school debt, but here I am, so where do I go?

In addition to realizing that designing video games is not high on my life goals list, I also have come up empty on the real employment side of things for the summer. I applied to over 60 internships and real jobs, not just in games but everywhere in tech, and had no luck. 3 interviews, and actually one offer for an internship but it would’ve required me to live in NYC poverty so I had to turn it down. To take a small tangent – while I was trying to decide if I should take the NYC opportunity, I talked to a friend who currently lives in NYC and even though my professors were talking me down from accepting, she was very gently trying to get me to take it. She brought up points like “Do you want to be in NYC permanently? Like is this a stepping stone to being here full-time after you graduate?” and I didn’t know and hemmed and hawed, and thought about her experience which was graduating in Seattle with a fashion degree, moving her whole life in a suitcase to live on a floor while she worked retail in NYC just to be in NYC, to make opportunities happen, and now she’s designing at Ralph Lauren. RIGHT!? I MEAN, COME ON!

After I made the decision to turn down the internship, I felt pretty shitty. After contemplation the past two days, I think what I’m realizing is that I just didn’t want to do that work. If I really wanted to be there, that was an amazing shot and I would’ve taken it. But I didn’t want to be. Which might sound crazy to some of you guys. Which I understand. But getting back to my tweets of insight (personal insight, anyway) there’s a chasm of difference between making a living making video games, and making a living consuming video games. And maybe it makes me sound like a lazy, generation XYwhatever entitled asshole, but I’d much rather make a living consuming video games.

So while I’m unemployed this summer, I figured now was as good a time as any to get my Twitch game off the ground. Talk about making money for consuming games, amirite? I also really want to build this brand, LSG. I really do love it, I really do love the WordPress community I became a part of while I was giving this time and attention and energy, and I have also admitted to myself that no matter how much I might love past supervisors, working for a company is just the pits. So much bureaucracy. And so much putting on pants and being somewhere by 8 am. This summer is the proof that I can make money on the internet and support myself. So Twitch is on my to-do, writing here more is on my to-do list, and podcasting of some kind if on my to-do list because it’s just fun. It’s just so much damn fun, you know? You guys know.

So hello again, my old friends. Ya’ll are magical human beings, ya’ll are badasses. I’ll be seeing you around the internet.


Subject meaning, until the next time I post on this site, you should check for actual, regularly blog posts (whaaa-!?) on a blog I’m academically obligated to create for a rapid prototyping class.

That’s right folks; the few short months between my “announcement” post that I was applying to a game production program at the University of Utah and now have flown by and I’m in the thick of my first week in a mind-numbingly busy program. One class is building a new game prototype every 4 weeks. One requirement of that class is blogging often about what we’re learning and doing. So if a professor recommends I blog twice a week about a class, ya better believe I’m gonna do it. Slightly better impetus to write on that blog, than on this one.

Having said that, I love you all dearly so if you’d like to check it out, the URL is http://blogs.eae.utah.edu/lbanks/.

It’ll be interesting trying to write more from an industry perspective, and less from a consumer perspective. I hope to see you all along for the ride!


Donate to my Extra Life campaign here!

Why raise money for sick kids? I mean sure, sick kids. That’s a pretty good standalone reason. But it is kind of a random thing to jump on board with. As I was examining my own motives the other day, I remembered when I was hospitalized with Crohn’s disease 7 years ago. Poo talk coming in the following retrospective; you are forewarned.

I was 17, had no medical snafus in my life (or even in my family) until I had 6 weeks of debilitating symptoms. For me, one of the worst symptoms I experience with Crohn’s disease is urgency. I don’t mind going to the bathroom a lot, and I don’t even mind if going to the bathroom is painful, but when I wake up multiple times a night to go to the bathroom, every night, for weeks on end, it starts to feel like your mind is fraying. On top of that, I was incredibly anemic so combined with little sleep, I remember parking my car and closing my eyes to sleep for five minutes before having to go in to school, and skipping classes just to sleep in my car, and getting home from classes and falling asleep on the couch every afternoon, waking up to eat, do whatever homework I needed to, then falling asleep again until the morning.

The breaking point was Memorial day weekend, and after a visit to an walk-in clinic, my parents made the executive decision to take me to the ER. When I got taken back to a room, I remember feeling isolated just looking at the arrangement. There was a single bed in the middle of the room. After some initial tests, the nurse told us that I’d be getting some more tests in the morning, and they needed to keep the IV in me over night. My parents left to get some sleep at our house, the nurses left, and I was alone on an island.

The treatment and care I got at the hospital was phenomenal, I don’t want to knock that. And to be fair, my disease is really minimal. I also had health insurance and my parents were equipped to take care of me. I cannot imagine the hurdles for more care-intensive illnesses, a worse condition, inadequate health insurance, or being any younger and having to deal with what happened.

I know that Primary Children’s hospital, the Children’s Miracle Network of hospitals, and Extra Life are making the first experiences for kids going to hospitals safe and comforting. I know these organizations are supporting family members and friends to feel empowered and like they can make it through some of the worst times of their lives, and the lives of those they love. I can’t imagine one of my nieces or nephews entering a hospital at any age and feeling isolated and alone, faced with a single bed in the middle of a stark white room. With support, facilities like Primary Children’s hospital will continue to operate and provide the reinforcements kids, families, and friends need in their darkest times.

That’s why I’m involved. That’s why, although I’d never do it for any other cause (and never have), I’m asking for your donations to help kids in their scariest times. If you could change your scariest childhood memory into something warm and kind, would you? We can do that for kids, with a few bucks, no minimum requirement.

Thanks for reading, and a huge thanks to those who have already donated. Don’t worry – the 24 hours of livestreaming gaming on October 25th will be a lot less heavy than this blog post 🙂


Remember when I talked about a game-a-thon for charity awhile ago? It was a terrible, meandering post about just losing meaning in my life a little bit (maybe the post wasn’t so much about that, but in hindsight that’s the attitude it was written in). This is about that.

I recently tried to get more involved in the Rooster Teeth community. It has . . . been going okay, still haven’t worked up the courage to game with anyone on the site even though I joined a couple of groups for that specifically. Slowly but surely! The best connection thus far has been a Salt Lake City group. One proactive site user in the Salt Lake area has started a team for Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, as a part of Extra Life, and I joined!

The link above explains the details of Extra Life, if you haven’t heard of it before. My donation page is here.

Why donate? Why am I doing this?

A) I feel really strongly that all charities should give 100% of their proceeds to who they’re trying to benefit. Check, Extra Life does that.

B) The Children’s Miracle Network of Hospitals uses all of its money to let patients stay at their facilities cost free. On the list of noble causes, that’s pretty high up there. They deserve some help for that, doncha think?

C) I get to play video games for 24 hours in a really cool locale, Gamerz Funk.

I understand that part of the challenge of getting donations is that it’s for a very specific, local hospital. The factor that I think could transcend geography is that it’s helping kids, right? You might not know a kid in Salt Lake City, but they exist right? Kids that need help. So if you have a couple bucks and want to encourage me to last the full 24 hours, consider clicking the link above and donating towards my modest $200 goal. The SLC team I’m a part of has a $5,000 goal that my $200 will contribute towards.

Thanks, you know I love you all despite my absence in the blog-o-sphere,

Laurie


This draft was created on 2/23/14. For the record. The record of documenting how often I think about this blog and say “I’ll come back later.”

I applied for the University of Utah’s Entertainment Arts & Engineering master’s program. In non-education-ese that means it’s a master’s program where I learn how to make video games. Specifically, I applied to the track labeled Game Production which means at the end of two years, I should essentially be a Producer, which means I should essentially be a project manager. For the record, that sounds great to me, but I’m sure that sounds terrible to many people. I like organizing and task driving in a benevolent way. The other two tracks are more tradition art or development/programming.

Anyway, I submitted this application on 2/28/2014. With the application, I had to write a statement of purpose. Naturally it went through multiple iterations and the third to last was a coming-of-age, overcoming-obstacle level of dramatic. Because I’m self-indulgent, I’ll post it here.


At the end of my undergraduate degree in 2012, I was a interning as a content writer for a web hosting company in Orem, Utah. I realized that I was going to get a full-time job offer upon graduation, and was relieved to lock in health insurance and a steady income to start paying back my student loans. It was where I had planned on ending up after graduating with an English degree and years of technical support experience – a writer at a technical company. Reaching the final destination of the plan should’ve been elating but despite my satisfaction with where I was, I realized it wasn’t truly where I wanted to be. It was a good job. I wanted a great career doing something I was passionate about – I wanted to help make video games.

Some of my earliest memories are of watching my brothers play their Nintendo Entertainment System. The Christmas my parents broke down and bought me a Gameboy Color with Pokemon Yellow is perhaps the best Christmas I’ve had to date. I was proud to finish my undergraduate degree, but I was more proud of the gaming PC I built on my own a few months later, as a belated graduation gift to myself. The first Dungeons and Dragons campaign I role played through might be in my top five favorite games of all time, despite lacking a screen and controller. I’ve always loved video games and the magic they create but I assumed working in the industry was a pipe dream. After my final college credits were completed in 2012, I realized the least I could do to approach the pipe dream in my free time would be to build a games writing portfolio. And thus, littlesistergaming.com was born.

The frequency of posts has waxed and waned over the past two years but more than just sharing my experience of playing certain games, I became a part of a community. Unbeknownst to me at the time I started the site, there was a thriving, underground band of would-be video game writers who all dream of getting paid to work with video games in one way or another. The 60 or so of us write on our respective sites, read each other’s work, and share, comment, and support other authors through various mediums like Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress. The pinnacle of my experience with Little Sister Gaming was being published on VentureBeat for writing about one of the Indie 10 games at that Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle, Washington, in 2012. The re-published version lacked my voice and style, but having my name next to a piece of writing on a video game website gave me a sense that perhaps working in the video game industry wasn’t as out of reach as I thought.

At the Penny Arcade Expo in 2012, I networked with another aspiring games writer who introduced me to an indie board game developer. Years later, this developer thought of me when looking for a third host for his video game podcast, Go For Rainbow. We have interviewed the team behind Magnetic By Nature, Ellen McLain of GLaDOS fame, Simon Patrick from The New Yorker, and other developers and artists from the industry. I was finally lining up real outlets for my gaming passion, instead of simply gaming as a hobby.

I started working at Property Solutions International in November 2012 as a technical writer. I was the only writer, and was hired specifically to document a massive new product the company was rolling out in beta. It was a moving target that few of the employees had a firm understanding of, but clients needed definitive answers in a user guide. I set out to identify my variables, gather the information, liaison with the developers and designers that would be able to answer my questions, and churn out a polished final product as quickly as possible. I began managing that first documentation project, and have continued to manage documentation projects for the rest of the company’s 23 products since then. Recently I’ve been tasked with creating a development roadmap including user stories for an internal software project to streamline all of the technical writer work, including editing software release notes every week. All of this experience to date has accumulated to approximately 2,000 hours of project management experience to apply towards my Project Management Professional certification application.

I purchased multiple books about Agile software development methodology to learn the guiding principles and values behind our continuous software updates, so I could understand why it was important to offer our customers such quick turnaround (instead of lamenting that frequent updates in software meant frequent updates in documentation). I taught myself Adobe InDesign and have begun to learn the Markdown markup language, to improve the deliverability of product documentation and efficiency of updating that documentation. In the past three months, I was promoted to a team lead position and was intimately involved in the interview and hiring process for three more technical writers.

After speaking with students of the EaE program and the University of Utah, I’ve heard first-hand how rigorously the curriculum prepares students in all program tracks to hit the industry floor running. In an effort to be kind, multiple students have tried to scare me away, citing the workload and frenetic pace of projects in the program. Despite their best intentions, these anecdotes excite me more than ever. In the video game industry, I want to be a part of great art. I want to be a part of an experience that people from all backgrounds and all ages can’t get anywhere else. I want to solve problems and facilitate solutions for teams to meet deadlines and break boundaries. It all sounds hyperbolic, or idealistic, but I’m listening to the Journey soundtrack right now and it’s hard to not write soaring words to match the soaring melodies. I have learned in my limited professional experience that my best move is the assist, and my natural position is the organizer, the facilitator, and the researcher. I know in the EaE game production track I can go into industry and deliver games into the marketplace for fans to enjoy and newcomers to discover. Games change lives. Games changed my life. Games gave me something to look forward to as a child and something to aspire to as an adult and I want to learn how to create something that will have the same effect, in the EaE game production track. Thank you for your consideration.


PS I got in! With a much better/more professional, but equally awesome statement of purpose created after this one.