Archive for September, 2009

Podcast Addiction

September 28, 2009 1 comment

Hello, my name is Jim and I’m a podaholic.

“Hi, Jim!”

I’ve been addicted to podcasts since some time in 2008.  I’m not sure exactly when I started.  It’s all become a kind of blur, really.  I still remember that fateful day when that guy on the street corner waved an iPod at me and offered the first hit for free.

“Come on, you know you want to.  Everybody’s doing it.”

And from the moment I first plugged that rich, direct podcast feed into my veins, I started a horrifying downward spiral from which there was no escape.

I experimented with RPG podcasts at first.  Sure, they seemed pretty innocuous, but soon they weren’t enough.  I had to have more.  I started in on philosophical podcasts, then the downward slide to comedy podcasts and music podcasts was inevitable.  Soon I didn’t even need an iPod to listen to them.  I started to hear them in my head!

Granted, this would usually happen when I sat down at the computer, and started WinAmp, but there surely must have been more going on than just an MP3 file being played through my computer’s speakers.  Something much more ominous had to be occurring.  Clearly I’d connected with these podcasts on a level that defied all sanity and reason.

After a little while it seemed as though some of the podcasts I listened to began speaking directly to me.  They began responding to questions and concerns that I’d had as though they could read my mind!  No matter that I’d begun sending e-mails to the podcasters, who were then reading them on their podcasts.  That was far too simple an explanation.  There was clearly a much more sinister force at work.

My addiction had spun completely out of control.  My desktop had become littered with icons for downloaded mp3 files from top to bottom.  I’d started playing MMORPGs just for something to do while listening to the podcasts.  My computer was turning into nothing more than a glorified radio!

I tried to be good.  I tried to cut down on my listening and live some semblance of a normal life, but every time I’d abandon my podcasts to go out and visit friends or shop for groceries or pick up my mail, I’d inevitably find myself rushing back to the computer to find more podcasts to listen to than ever before!

In the end, I came to the realization that I had utterly failed to stay on the podcast wagon (or, indeed, get on it in the first place).  So I decided that if I was going to fail, I would fail spectacularly.  I began to produce my own podcasts.  Instead of chasing the demon away, I’ve embraced it and am now proud to call myself part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

So, why not come and take a listen to my podcasts?  The Great Debate! and The Every World News Podcast are just sitting there waiting for you.

Come on, you know you want to.  Everybody’s doing it.

And incidentally, if anyone out there happens to be curious, here’s a list of the podcasts I listen to.

7th Son
Goblin Market
The Adventures of Indiana Jim
The Harmony Factory Bopack
Atomic Array
Have Games, Will Travel
Bell’s in the Batfry
Bear Swarm!
I Should Be Writing
Brilliant Gameologists
International Detective Dragons From Outer Space
The Clockwork Cabaret
The Open Design Podcast
The Dragon’s Landing Inn
The Podge Cast
The Dreamer’s Thread
Smiling Jack’s Bar and Grill
The Dungeons & Dragons Podcast
This Modern Death
Fear the Boot
The Tome Show
The Gamer Traveler
The Walking Eye Podcast
The Gamer’s Haven Podcast
The WEIRD Show
The Game’s the Thing
The White Wolf Blogcast
Geek Pantheon and Your Moment of Kim
The Whitechapel Project
The Geologic Podcast

If you have a podcast and I haven’t listed it, don’t worry, I’ll probably be listening to it sooner or later.

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Running Around Pretending to be Vampires

September 25, 2009 Leave a comment

“There’s a large group of people in the park all wearing black.  They must be dangerous!”

No, we’re not.  We’re just playing a game.

Thankfully, the stigma associated with live-action role playing looks to have diminished a bit over the years.  I play in a Vampire: the Requiem LARP with about thirty to fifty people every other weekend and I can tell as new people keep coming in that our player base is becoming much more diverse.  Which is a really good thing.

But not everyone has decided to embrace live-action gaming.  Even a lot of tabletop RPG players are still on the fence about it.  If you’re thinking about experimenting with live-action, here are a few things I can tell you right off the bat to try to make sure you’re not going in with the wrong impression.

First off, a lot of people see LARPers dressing in strange costumes and wandering around in semi-public areas and think they’re a bit nuts.  Having interacted with LARPers regularly, I can confirm that they’re no crazier than the average tabletop role player.  While I realize that sounds like a setup for a joke – one that I’m trying heartily to resist as I write this – what it really means is that in live-action you get a range of people, just like you do with any hobby.  Some are going to be stranger than others.  Some will be perfectly normal folks you could easily see hanging out with on a Friday night.  Others will be a bit odd and socially awkward, but basically all right once you get to know them.  A few others will act like they’re going for the title of Bull-Moose Bozo of the Psycho Ward, and you can generally spot those types pretty quickly and do what most of the rest of us who LARP do – avoid them!

One little caveat, though: if you do run into someone acting strangely there’s a chance they might be role-playing.  If you’re not sure, the best way to find out is to just ask someone nearby.

“Hey, is he for real or is he role playing?”

That’s all it takes, honestly.  Anyone who’s there to have a good time and behaves like a civil human being should be happy to tell you what’s going on.

That leads me to my next point.  If you’re used to tabletop games, there are a few little differences you’ll notice aside from the fact that you’re up and walking around now instead of at a table.  One of those differences is that there’s generally more of a focus on role playing and less of one on game mechanics.  The mechanics do tend to come into play a little more often in “boffer” style LARPs – in which you strike people with soft, foam weapons – than in “salon” style LARPs – in which there’s generally little or no physical contact – but overall there’s still less of an emphasis on game mechanics in live-action than in tabletop games.

LARPs will usually have more players than a tabletop game, and while the Game Master or Storyteller will be doing things all the while to let the players interact with a plot line that may be running in the background, the main focus of the game is going to be your interaction with the other players.  You might want to think of going to a LARP as being like going to a party, hanging out and socializing as a character you’ve created.  Instead of waiting to follow a pre-determined plot, you and your friends are creating your own stories and intertwining those stories with the GM’s plots when the opportunity presents itself.  In quite a few live-action games, you get to decide when and if you involve yourself in the game’s various storylines.

So, if you’re thinking about getting into a LARP, go ahead and give it a try.  You don’t have to have any special skills for it.  Costumes are usually optional; in those rare cases when they’re not, they’ll probably have something you can throw on so you can join in.  Most of the LARPers I know also play tabletop games so chances are you’d see the same kinds of folks at a LARP as you’d see at the gaming table.

Whether the interest is in tabletop, live-action or something else, when it comes down to it, we’re all gamers.  Some of us just like to get up and walk around every now and then.

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Categories: Games Tags: , , , ,

Another Blog? What am I THINKING?!!

September 22, 2009 Leave a comment

A very good question!  Don’t I already have TWO other blogs and a couple of podcasts to do?  It’s not as though I’m exactly overflowing with free time.  And why on Earth should I want to add a new blog to the millions already out there — surely it’ll have even less impact than pouring a thimbleful of water into the Atlantic Ocean!

Hey, I’ve got my reasons.  Here are a few of them:

1. Personal Branding. No, I’m not talking about scouring my flesh with a heated, iron emblem.  I mean that as my various projects progress it occurs to me that it would be nice to have something that helps link them together in some way and make them more accessible.  This way, now, if anyone wants to check out the different aspects of what I’ve been doing or thinking about, there’ll be a central place on the web for them to go.

2. More Writing. I’d like to start doing some freelance writing and in order to do that I need samples.  So, I plan to use this blog to produce lots and lots of nonfiction articles about anything and everything I find interesting.  If I can manage to do it regularly then maybe that’ll help get me into the habit of writing more, which can only be a good thing.  And hopefully I can make it entertaining to anyone who wanders by this little site of mine.

3. The Experiment. I’m all about media experiments.  You’ll notice a play button at the end of this entry (or at least you will if I can get everything working properly).  If you press it, you’ll get to hear me read the article to you, thus giving you the choice of reading through it, listening to it or both, if you’re so inclined.  It’s something that I saw one or two people doing on their fiction blogs and thought I’d give it a try.  I plan to do that with every article I post.  Let me know what you think!

4. I want to. I also never really had much of a sense of time management, anyway.

So there it is.  Let’s give this here article-writing thing a spin and see how it handles!

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Categories: Interaction Tags: , ,