Check out The Art of Video Games at The Smithsonian

Originally posted by  on January 20, 2012 at GamerFitNation

In just about every corner of the internet where gamers come together to talk about their favorite games, you will inevitably find the age old discussion of whether or not video games are art. For years I’ve been voicing the advocacy that, yes, video games not only contain art but are art themselves. This year, from March 16th until September 30th, the Smithsonian American Art Museum will be supporting my personal cries with a new exhibit (and events) The Art of Video Games.

From The Smithsonian American Art Museum:

“The Art of Video Games will explore the 40-year evolution of video games as an artistic medium. The exhibition will highlight how new technologies have allowed for increasingly interactive and sophisticated game environments while staying grounded in the traditions of each game type. It will feature games with striking visual graphics and recognize some of the creative individuals who have made significant contributions. The exhibition will also explore the many influences on game designers and the pervasive presence video games have in the broader popular culture, with new relationships to video art, film and television, educational practices, and professional skill training. The Art of Video Games is not about the most popular games of all time, nor is it about the individual games themselves. This is not a historic review that seeks to capture every memorable moment in video game history.”

The exhibition will not only include a national tour (below) but will also be host of an opening weekend you will not want to miss.

Exhibition tour includes:

  • Boca Raton Museum of Art (October 24, 2012–January 20, 2013)
  • EMP Museum in Seattle (February 16, 2013–May 13, 2013)
  • Hudson River Museum in Yonkers, NY (February 15, 2014–May 18, 2014)
  • Flint Institute of Arts in Flint, Michigan (October 25, 2014–January 18, 2015)
  • Memphis Brooks Museum of Art in Memphis, Tennessee (June 6, 2015–September 13, 2015)

 “GamesFest is a three day festival celebrating the opening of the ground-breaking exhibition, The Art of Video Games, with insightful talks by video game pioneers, panel discussions where you can meet designers and artists, movie screenings, costume photo-ops, and hands-on play.” 

Check out the PDF schedule  for a FULL list of events that will be occurring during GAMEFEST.  Events like:

Friday, March 16, 2012
  • 3–6 p.m. – Evolution of Video Games – Panel Discussions
  • 7 p.m. – Nolan Bushnell: Video Games in Retrospect (advance registration required)
  • 8:30 p.m. – Film: TRON
Saturday, March 17, 2012
  • 11:30 a.m.–7 p.m. – GameFest! Day 2: Open play, craft activities, live action gaming with Spontaneous Art and dj MKO, and musical performances by 8 Bit Weapon and Triforce Quartet. 
  • 5 p.m. – It’s All in the Design with Robin Hunicke
  • 7 p.m. – Film: The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters
Sunday, March 18, 2012
  • 11:30 a.m.–7 p.m. – GameFest! Day 3: Open play, craft activities, live action gaming with Spontaneous Art and dj MKO, and musical performances by ComputeHer, 8 Bit Weapon, and Triforce Quartet.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum invited the public to help select the video games to be included in the exhibition. The 240 games on the ballot were selected by Chris Melissinos, who worked with the museum and an advisory group consisting of game developers, designers, industry pioneers, and journalists. The games were selected based on a variety of criteria, including visual effects, creative use of new technologies, and how the game fit into the narrative of the exhibition. Voting took place between February 14 and April 17, 2011. More than 3.7 million votes were cast by 119,000 people in 175 countries!

Want to know which games will be featured and under which categories? You can read THIS pdf to see all of the winners and runner-ups for each era and category.

Still not sure why The Smithsonian would take a stance on this,  for some reason, controversial embrace of video games as art? No need to guess because they have addressed this directly in their exhibit FAQs.

“Why are video games being featured at an art museum?

Art is beguiling. Much like a great novel or film, you can become engrossed in the world created by a video games and the Smithsonian American Art Museum wants to celebrate the designers and developers who create these worlds. Video games are an emerging medium for creative expression and we’re very excited to explore their artistic evolution over the last forty years. All video games include classic components of art—striking visuals, a powerful narrative, a strong point of view. What’s new is the role of the player. Of course, contemporary games have taken this creative expression to a whole new level, so the museum decided that this is the right moment to look at this popular global phenomenon.”

So no matter which side of the video-games-are-art debate your opinion falls, The Smithsonian American Museum of Art is about to open its doors for some fantastic exploration, discussion, and retrospect on the genre and its development. If you live in the Washington, D.C. area, or can get to it with ease, and have an interest in video games I encourage you to check out the Smithsonian exhibit, The Art of Video Games, or the GamesFest opening weekend events. Don’t forget to share with us your experiences at the exhibit or panels. We would love to hear from you.

Visit the official exhibit page at The Smithsonian American Museum of Art for more information.

Sources: http://americanart.si.edu/exhibitions/archive/2012/games/winninggames/
http://americanart.si.edu/exhibitions/archive/2012/games/taovg_faq.pdf
http://americanart.si.edu/exhibitions/archive/2012/games/winninggames.pdf
 

One Woman Wrecking Crew

The final days of 2011 included my dear fella, an old NES, and boxes of original NES titles. For him, a true test of all that has been locked away to memory, for me, a mix of nostalgia and ‘new’ excitement breathing the same air. As I’ve mentioned in previous NES Challenge , my continued goal is to explore all of the NES titles I glossed over in those days due, almost wholey, to my fascination with PC gaming. I’ve not updated in a while, but have been continuing on the path of rediscovery.

A recently discovered title, for me, was a little gem called Wrecking Crew.  This Yoshio Sakamoto designed Nintendo launch title had never been a part of my collection as a kid. A travesty I will learn to live with, in time.

We hunkered down for some two player good times and I sat in my familiar player 2 position (that is, cross legged on the floor in front of the tv). As player one began I watched the game and made an attempt to understand just how the game worked. Not too difficult to figure out. Mario and Luigi are faced with a vertical challenge of barrels, walls, ladders, bombs, pillars, and enemies.   Some objects are destructible, others are not, and the enemies should be avoided at all costs. The challenge, of course, is to avoid the enemies while destroying all of the destructible items on each level.

Player one did formidable and left me with the knowledge needed to get going. Mario and Luigi can not jump and so it is important to scan the level to have an understanding of where you need to be, and go, before you start wrecking up the place. If your only way to the top platform is by way of a ladder that you just destroyed… well my friend, you’re boned. You may as well make kissy with that enemy you’ve been avoiding for so long.

The levels become increasingly difficult (as they should) and just when you think you’ve gotten the hang of the game mechanics the sides of the screen start shooting fireballs at you, or a construction worker begins running around the background of the game knocking you down to the bottom of the screen.

In my haste I had a few fireball induced panic moments and found my eventual death but there is much more to the game than my brief encounter.  Destroying multiple objects in a row (usually with a chain of bombs) scores extra bonus points, and occasionally bonus items may appear that Mario and Luigi can collect,  the start screen allows selecting any level to start on, and best of all Wrecking Crew also features a level editor, which allows the player to design up to four levels.

It may have been a humble introduction to the greatness that is Wrecking Crew, but this original Nintendo launch title instantly earned a place in my heart. It is my understanding that as part of the Nintendo 3DS Ambassador program, Nintendo 3DS ambassadors have been  able to enjoy a 3DS release since September of 2011.

My intentions to player one this game straight to the end are just a non cartridge blowing, finicky old NES, afternoon away.  Wherever there are things need to be wrecked, I will be there!

Think you know which title I should play? Be sure to let me know which game was your favorite of the platform! 

Going After Guinness with Pokemon

Originally posted  January 3rd, 2012 by Sharon at FromtheDPAD.com

Going After Guinness with Pokemon

If you were anything like I was, as a kid, then there is a good chance that you are familiar with the Guinness Book of World Records. This publication had a sacred spot on many children’s book cases and rightfully so. Flipping through the pages you could marvel at all sorts of strange and marvelous people from all over the world. The Guinness Book of World Records introduced us to people who enjoyed momentary fame as the world’s _______ man/woman. Be it shortest, tallest, fattest, etc. But the real excitement, in my young mind, were the every day people who challenged themselves to do something extraordinary for a glimpse of Guinness glory.

In 2008, Guinness World Records released its gamer’s edition in association with Twin Galaxies.  The 2012 edition  contains something for players of all kinds. Notching the latest high-water mark in the seemingly never-ending battle for Donkey Kong supremacy, New York City’s Hank Chien earned the “Highest Score on Donkey Kong” with 1,090,000 points. Mobile mavens will love the spread on Angry Birds, the “Best-Selling Mobile Series” (more than 250 million downloads) and the app with the “Most Days Spent as the Best-Selling App in iTunes Store” (275 consecutive days).

The Arnolds, pictured above, have been dubbed The ‘Frankfort Five’, hailing from the Illinois suburb outside of Chicago. They are considered Pokémon prodigies who rank as some of the world’s greatest players each year during the official Pokémon Video Game Championships, earning them the title of “Largest Competitive Pokémon Videogame Family”.

Brassy brawlers will be knocked out by an entire section devoted to Fighting Games including Mortal Kombat, Marvel Vs. Capcom and Dead or Alive, while the growing genre of “Lifestyle & Fitness” games boasts achievements like “Most People Exercising to a Videogame” (783 people).

Once again, this year features many women making their mark in the interactive realm. Iowa’s Elizabeth Bolinger preferred to dance her way into the record books, where she earned the title for “Most Prolific Dancing Game High Scorer” with top scores in 85 songs spanning across Dance Central, Just Dance and Just Dance 2 and she’ll be attempting a new high score on popular gaming network G4 in mid-January. Jennifer Hale grabbed the record for “Most Prolific Voice Actor” for lending her voice to 129 video games over the course of almost two decades.

Carrie Swidecki spent a gruelling 15 hours, 17 minutes and 44 seconds playing DDR

As always, Guinness World Records 2012 Gamer’s Edition is chock full of lists and quizzes that are sure to get gamers talking. One of the featured lists takes a look at the “Top 50 Video Game Endings” of all-time as voted by ……

Continue Reading “Going After Guinness with Pokemon” at FromTheDpad.com

Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath HD Locks and Loads for First Person Adventure on PSN

Originally Posted  by  on January 2, 2012 at GamerFitNation

Please be aware of the following correction by @JAWltd

” EA did NOT publish Stranger’s Wrath HD. Oddworld Inhabitants self published it.”

Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath HD Locks and Loads for First Person Adventure on PlayStation Network


–press release–

The Fabled Oddworld Series Makes its Return in High Definition via PSN

 It’s time for gamers to scrape together “moolah” and step back into the boots of Stranger, the most fearsome bounty hunter in all of Oddworld. Just Add Water, developer of the hit retro arcade game, Gravity Crash, has completed production of Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath HD in collaboration with Lorne Lanning, the original creator of the Oddworldfranchise. The HD version of Stranger’s Wrath is now available in native 720p resolution, running at 60 frames per second on the PlayStationNetwork $14.99.

Stranger’s Wrath follows the story of Stranger, a fearsome bounty hunter that captures outlaws to raise “moolah” for a mysterious surgical procedure. After encountering the backwater town of the Grubbs, Stranger discovers that there are a few too many secrets about the past and his future as a bounty hunter.

Just Add Water worked with Lorne Lanning to preserve every nuance of the original while making sure that the new game took full advantage of current generation hardware. The updates include:

  • Gorgeous Characters – The game’s 84 character models have all been beefed up with increased polygon counts and high resolution textures, including Stranger’s unique “Live Ammo” system for fluid movement
  • Beautiful Environments – All the game’s locations feature upgraded, high resolution textures, along with reflective surfaces and textured vegetation
  • Upgraded Audio – All in-game audio was up-sampled to 16-bit, 44kHz stereo, with support for 5.1 DTS/Dolby Digital surround sound
  • Trophies – Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath HD has 37 trophies, including a Platinum

“The original Stranger’s Wrath was very significant for us since it broke out of the traditional Oddworld mold and took us into the world of FPS. It was a tough labor of love for the original team,”

said Lorne Lanning, Co-Founder of Oddworld Inhabitants and creator of the Oddworld series of games.

“Remaking the game with a polished look and new content while remaining true to the original was not an easy task, but Stewart and the team at JAW did an incredible job and delivered a great complement to the original team’s creation. I’m looking forward to working with them on our future titles!”

“The Oddworld franchise represents one of the pinnacles of achievement in the canon of video games, andStranger’s Wrath is such a unique game that we felt it needed to be represented on the next-generation consoles,” said Stewart Gilray, content director for Just Add Water. “We knew the only way to do justice to the original was to work with Lorne Lanning, one of Oddworld’s original creators. Together, we’ve dug up some new concepts that were passed over for the 2005 original to give gamers an amazing Oddworld experience on the PlayStation 3.”

I love the current trend of bringing some of my favorite titles to HD and Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath HD is continuing the trend with gusto!

Source: Electronic Arts UK Press Release

2011 in review

Thanks to everyone for an amazing year! It’s been absolutely fabulous to share, with you, my internet musings surrounding my gamertag “MyaSharona”.  I thank each and every one of you who visited me here, on G+, Twitter, FB, OR at whichever website I was contributing to at the time. I hope you’ve all enjoyed 2011, now on with 2012.

 

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,000 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Nintendo is ready for 2012!

originally posted BY MYASHARONA– DECEMBER 16, 2011 at GamerFitNation

As some people hunker down for a long winter’s nap, Nintendo is getting things fired up. The first quarter of 2012 offers great new installments in popular franchises for both the Nintendo 3DS™ system and the Wii™ console. Nintendo has something for everyone, from family fun to three-dimensional adventure.


On the Nintendo 3DS system, Capcom’s Resident Evil® Revelations launches on Feb. 7. In a new chapter of the hit survival-horror franchise, players fight a new enemy and virus in 3D without the need for special glasses.METAL GEAR SOLID® 3D Snake Eater from Konami arrives in the first quarter of 2012. The game is a re-interpretation of METAL GEAR SOLID 3: Snake Eater, and offers a rich jungle world with customizable stealth and camouflage options. On March 23, the epic odyssey Kid Icarus™: Uprising soars into stores and lets players help the winged warrior Pit fight Medusa and her Underworld Army.


The Nintendo eShop for Nintendo 3DS will also be busy with a variety of downloadable offerings. Dillon’s Rolling Western™ brings tower-defense strategy and touch-screen driven action to the Old West. Armadillo ranger Dillon defends pioneer villages against waves of attacking rock monsters using gun towers, defensive structures and his own exciting attack abilities. In Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword™, players travel to ancient Japan and guide a young warrior as he battles waves of enemy soldiers. Players must identify the enemy’s attack, dodge and counter-attack with the mystical Sakura Sword to win the battle. The critically acclaimed VVVVVV and NightSkyfrom Nicalis, mind-bending action of Mighty Switch Force from WayForward and immersive 3D visuals of Mutant Mudds™ from Renegade Kid™ round out a diverse selection of downloadable games.

Details about distribution in Canada for the Circle Pad Pro will be announced shortly.

On the Wii console, Rhythm Heaven™ Fever arrives on Feb. 13 at a suggested retail price of $29.99 in Canada. The game asks players to test their rhythm in more than 50 easy-to-learn, tough-to-master minigames to prove they’ve got the groove. Two weeks later on Feb. 27, PokéPark™ 2: Wonders Beyond lets players take on the role of Pikachu™ and his Pals — Oshawott™, Snivy™ and Tepig™ — as they try to make it through PokéPark and discover the secrets of a mysterious new world. On March 11, Mario™ and friends reunite for a new party game adventure in Mario Party™ 9, which introduces new game-play elements to the series such as boss battles and vehicular travel across a wide assortment of stages.


Below is a partial list of upcoming games for Nintendo systems. Note that game titles and launch dates are subject to change.

Nintendo 3DS

2K Play
Nicktoons MLB 3D – March

Capcom
Resident Evil® Revelations – Feb. 7

Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc.
METAL GEAR SOLID® 3D Snake Eater – Q1
Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 – January

NAMCO BANDAI Games America Inc.
TEKKEN 3D Prime Edition™ – February
Tales of the Abyss® – Feb. 14

Nintendo
Kid Icarus: Uprising – March 23

Published by SEGA® of America
Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games™ – Feb. 14

SEGA® of America
CRUSH™3D – Q1

Ubisoft
NCIS The Video Game (Based on the TV Series) – March 6
Horses 3D – March 6
Funky Barn – Q1
Rayman® Origins – Q1

Nintendo eShop

Collecting Smiles
Colors! 3D – Q1

Nicalis
VVVVVV – Q1
NightSky – Q1

Nintendo
Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword – Q1
Dillon’s Rolling Western – Q1
Kirby’s Block Ball™ – Q1

Renegade Kid
Mutant Mudds – Q1

Shin’en Multimedia
Fun! Fun! Minigolf TOUCH – Q1
Jett Rocket Super Surf – Q1

WayForward
Mighty Switch Force – Q1

Zen Studios
Zen Pinball – Q1

Wii

2K Sports
MLB 2K12 – March 6

GameMill Entertainment
Country Dance™ Special Edition – Feb. 1

Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc.
Karaoke Joysound – Q1

Nintendo
Rhythm Heaven Fever – Feb. 13
PokéPark 2: Wonders Beyond – Feb. 27
Mario Party 9 – March 11

WiiWare™

Nicalis
La Mulana – Q1

Nintendo DS™ Family

2K Sports
MLB 2K12 – March 6

ATLUS
Shin Megami Tensei®: Devil Survivor™ 2 – February

GameMill Entertainment
Silverlicious™ – March 20
Xia Xia™ – March 20
Gogo’s Crazy Bones™ – March 20

Mentor Interactive
Chess for Kids – Feb. 14
NARABA: The Labyrinth of Light – Feb. 21
NARABA: The Mysterious Palace – Feb. 21

Nintendo DSiWare™

Cosmigo
Box Pusher – Q1

Cypronia
Cake Ninja – Q1


Remember that Wii and Nintendo 3DS feature parental controls that let adults manage the content their children can access. For more information about this and other features, visit http://www.nintendo.com/wii andhttp://www.nintendo.com/3ds.
For more information about Nintendo, visit http://www.nintendo.ca.

 

Source: Nintendo Canada Press Release

Use your Art to win a copy of The Darkness II

Originally posted BY MYASHARONA – DECEMBER 9, 2011 at GamerFitNation

 

Are you looking forward to The Darkness II by 2K Games and Digital Extremes? Do you love to draw? Did you happen to pick up The Darkness II: Confession on Free Comic Book Day? Are you a member of DevianArt.com? Could I possibly ask anymore leading questions?

DeviantArt.com (the web’s largest online social network for artists and art enthusiasts) is creating an opportunity for you to win an amazing The Darkness II prize pack while flexing your artistic muscles. The three prize packs include:

1st Place Winner 

  • The Darkness II video game
  • Signed 100th Issue of
    The Darkness Comic
  • $1,000.00 Cash Prize (USD)
  • 10,000 dA Points
  • dA PRO Digital Artist Backpack
  • 1-year Premium membership at deviantArt
2nd Place: 

  • $750.00 Cash Prize (USD)
  • 5,000 dA Points
  • deviantWEAR Tee of their choice*
  • 6-Month Premium Membership to devianArt
3rd Place:
  • $500.00 Cash Prize (USD)
  • 2,500 dA Points
  • deviantWEAR Tee of their choice*
  • 3-Month Premium Membership
* Based on availability
 

And here’s how to win:

Illustrate The Comic

Draw a page for the 100th Issue of The Darkness comic!

In the new game, The Darkness II by 2k Games, it’s been two years since Jackie Estacado took his revenge on those who killed his girlfriend and became the Don of a New York crime family. A strange and terrible power called The Darkness has remained locked tightly inside him, but now it’s ready to come out once again.

Let your own inner demons out to play and join Jackie in his brutal internal battle against The Darkness by drawing a
three-panel comic using the script created by Top Cow writers.

Become a pro by winning and have your three-panel comic published in the 100th issue of The Darkness comic.

How to get Started: 

Be sure you are a memeber of  www.deviantart.com and that you have read over the  Official Rules »

#1. Learn about The Darkness property so you can reference the look, style & feel of the existing comic book series.  Click here to see The Darkness II: Confession comic for reference

#2. You must use the supplied storyboard for the 3 panels you are being asked to produce.

You must use the supplied storyboard for the 3 panels you are being asked to produce.

  • Panel A   • Panel B     • Panel C

#3. Download the template for the 3-panel comic page.  Download Template

#4. Once you’re done, submit the completed template as a .JPG or .PNG file! Submit

Judging 

25 Semi-Finalists will be selected by full-time deviantART Staff.

From the Semi-Finalists, the final three winners will be selected by Marc Silvestri, the CEO and Founder of Top Cow Productions, Inc.!

All entries will be judged on the following criteria:

  • Suitable for The Darkness Comic
  • Success in Presenting the Storyboard
  • Overall Impact of the Work
  • Technical Skill

Entry must be received by 11:59:59PM (PT) on January 1, 2012 and be submitted through the contest gallery on deviantART.

  • Entrant must be at least 18 years old;
  • Entries must be in traditional or digital art mediums only;
  • Entries must use the comic storyboard to illustrate within the provided Template;
  • Entries must be submitted in the following dimension – full-bleed size of 6.875 inches x 10.437 inches (with a safe zone of 6.625 inches x 10.187 inches and live area of 6.125 inches x 9.687 inches);
  • Entries may use the comic book example as a direct reference for how to present the characters and their environment;
  • Entries may not use any watermarks or distinguishing artist marks (such as any signatures or symbols representing the artist);
  • You may submit more than one entry;
  • You must be a member of deviantART to enter. Membership is free; and
  • Other requirements and restrictions apply, please read the Official Rules carefully.
So you have until Jan 1st to get your draw on and enter this amazing Darkness II contest. Be sure CLICK HERE for the offical rules to make sure you’re eligible before you start drawing!
.
The Darkness II is the upcoming sequel to 2007′s The Darkness. It is being developed by Digital Extremes, published by 2K Games and written by Paul Jenkins. Originally scheduled to be released on July 10, 2011 and then on October 4, 2011, it was delayed for both dates and instead will be released February 7, 2012 in North America and February 10, 2012 in Europe for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360 andPlayStation 3.
.
If you entered the contest be sure to share your work ! I would love to see it!  
.
.

 
 
source: http://moonbeam13.deviantart.com/journal/The-Darkness-II-Contest-272874806http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Darkness_II

Concept Artists: A Blog Tangent

Today’s entry is not a press release, it’s not a review or top ten list, it’s not even game assets. Today’s entry is a rant, a tangent, a bit of inspiration, and a chance to open this discussion to other artists, gamers, and readers.

Read at your own risk!  😉 

As some of you are probably aware, I have been working as a freelance illustrator (with varying degrees of success) since 2002, after graduation from Sheridan College’s Illustration program. During my time freelancing (and working for corporations) I have had the great pleasure to acquire work as a sculptor, a graphic designer, a graphic artist for print and web, a children’s book illustrator, and an atelierista.

Over the past few years I have managed to have two children’s books published and a third is about a stone’s throw away from publication. While this is all very exciting it is also a very shaky way to make a living. There are a lot of very talented people out there all trying to make a name for themselves and carve out a career as professional artists. These are peers that I need to not only learn from, but compete with. Because of the stiff competition, and my desire to continually improve, I have taken to continuing education throughout the course of my career. My professional development has lead me to local classes in storyboarding, online classes in creative writing, and most recently online tutorials for concept art (environment and character design).

Whether you are learning new or looking to refresh, there is a vast amount of teaching tools online if you take the time to explore. 

part of an environment study I am creating based on posts at cghub

Unlike many of my peers I have no aspirations to marry my love of art with my love of gaming. I have no delusions of large company employment or desire to ‘break into’ that industry. My goal, rather, is one that betters my skill and provides me with the opportunity to provide for myself financially.

My recent dabbling in concept art tutorials has lead me to a plethora (yes i said plethora) of digital painting techniques that are helping me get closer to effectively creating, digitally, what I have been creating with traditional media for years. There are a lot of concepts, ideas, techniques, and principals that go into every piece of concept art and it is something worth noting.

A WIP, or, Work-In-Progress for the "vector art" portion of my portfolio.

Which brings me to the long winded point of this blog tangent. 

After some recent discussion with fellow artists about whether or not video games should be considered an art form, I ask you to consider, if you will, the amount of creativity that goes into all stages of this craft. Within the ideas of concept art alone, it is difficult to dispute that games are art. A concept artist may be required for nothing more than preliminary artwork, or may be required to be part of a creative team until a project reaches fruition. While it is necessary to have the skills of a fine artist, a concept artist must also be able to work to strict deadlines in the capacity of a graphic designer.*

Character Sketch based on my creative writing

As an artist who has considered herself “just starting out” for almost a decade now, it’s time to get real about it. It’s easy to get into the trap of doing work for friends or family, or even colleagues, for free because you are ‘just starting’ or because ‘it will be good for [your] portfolio’, but the harsh truth I’ve learned is that this practice weakens the freelance market for everyone (and is never worth the inevitable trouble it will become).  My artistic goals in 2012 will include defining/developing my skills further, publishing my 4th illustrated children’s book, obtaining steady ongoing work to help me with the financial realities of life, continuing to work only with teams who are passionate about their projects, continued implementation of  work agreement contracts, and finally (and most importantly) no more working for free.

Artists are a valuable creative force in entertainment and communication. Concept artists are helping others communicate ideas into the entertainment vehicle we all enjoy so much. This is why, when we enjoy games, movies, music, comics, magazines, or even television (in some cases), that a lot of artistic talent is working side by side with the technical talent to communicate, to you, the idea as a whole.

And so ends my blog tangent for today. Appreciate the work, the talent, and the dedication that goes into all of your forms of entertainment kids, for every successful artist out there, there are a slew of struggling ones who may or may not ever accomplish their goals. And if you are someone who is passionate about your work, remain so! Set goals, be tenacious, seek the help and guidance of others, and always continue to learn.

Self Portrait

Best wishes to all of my artist friends!

Sincerely,

Sharon

*http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concept_art

Holiday Gift Guide: Gifts for your Lady Gamer

Originally posted BY MYASHARONA – DECEMBER 2, 2011 at GamerFitNation

 

Holiday Gift Guide: Gifts for your Lady Gamer

Rumor has it that some men (and women) find the holiday shopping season to be a little daunting. I’ve also heard that the men folk, most typically, like to leave the daunting task of shopping until the last few panicked-filled days before the big deadline. Well guys, I hear ya! Procrastination is as common and the flu this time of year (something  else you are likely to bring home with you from the mall. Yuck!). But there may be one small hitch in your plan kids. If you happen to be shopping for a lady gamer this season chances are your shopping efforts will be far more successful if done online. And, guess what, now is the right time to get surfing for that perfect lady gamer gift.

So you want to get your lady gamer friend, girlfriend, or significant other a kickin game related gift that goes beyond the newest titles? That’s fine. Remember that the games themselves always make a great gift, as do gift cards to game stores, points cards for PSN or Steam, subscription cards for XBL, and the accessories that every gamer eventually collects and uses (personalized controllers, new headsets, etc). But if you are looking for something a little extraordinary, but still thematic, then read on!

Don’t worry guys and gals, I won’t leave you in the lurch. I have compiled some of the best gifts on the ‘net’ for your lady gamers. Take a look at some of the gift ideas that any lady gamer on your list would be happy to receive!

From: ShineyLines.com

Shop Here

Red Power Ring

$35.99

Red, the color of crimson determination. Fiery and bold, it commands with hot intention.
This artisan hand-finished rhodium plated cast .925 solid sterling silver ring boasts the elegant look of platinum without the heavy price. Rhodium is a highly reflective metal currently valued at about four to six times more than gold.
The symbol’s translucent color reflects and shimmers in different lighting, giving the illusion of being either dormant or magically lit from within.

From Jinx.com

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Portal Socks

$11.99

While the Long Fall Boot is currently unavailable outside of Aperture Laboratories’ testing facilities, you can still sport the latest look in test subject fashion with these Long Fall Socks. As part of a previously mentioned test protocol, we are required to tell you that these socks won’t actually help you survive any long falls, however they will make your feet look attractive whether you’re safely on the ground or plummeting towards an imminent demise.

From 80’s Tees

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PacMan Tank Dress

$19.99

Forget the fact that the descriptor is telling you how sexy these tank dresses will make you and consider for a moment a great pair of tights, perhaps some knitboots and scarf, or even consider this as a great night dress.

From CleanGeeks.com

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Controller Replica Soaps

Approx $10.00 – $22.00 (depending on which you choose, size, etc)

Gamers spend so much time gaming that the soap sitting in the tub often gets neglected. Now, gamers don’t have to part with their consoles to get clean! This 3-D replica of the PlayStation controller weighs a minimum of nine ounces and is hand carved on the bottom. Each soap is individually handcrafted in the U.S. Makes a great conversation piece and modern home decoration.

 

From sonerozenc.com

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Tetris Mirror

Approx 75.29

Tetris Mirror is comprised of thirteen interlocking mirrored acrylic panels, which can be arranged on your wall to form a rectangle, or broken apart into their individual puzzle blocks. It is laser-cut out of an acrylic mirror sheet. It wastes minimum amount of material in manufacturing and takes up minimum space when packaged.

 

From Igor Chalk

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Space Invaders Sofa

$5000.00

An instant conversation starter, this unique retro gaming inspired couch will be the highlight of any room. Designed and manufactured in Los Angeles, California; to insure the highest build quality. It features and all fine leather pixelated retro design, a low profile, and memory foam cushions.

 

From KeezeCreations

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MegaMan Winter Hat

$27.00

Made from super soft double-layered fleece, foam inserts in the crest, polyester batting in the ear muffs. One size fits most and they do stretch. Hand wash in cold water, dry flat.
 

From Fun Toy Mall

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Centipede Game Storage & Tv Stand

$79.99

  • FITS UP TO 37 FLAT PANEL TVS
  • HOLDS GAME CONSOLES, 4 CONTROLLERS, GAMES & ACCESSORIES
  • DURABLE & STRONG DOUBLE WIRE CONSTRUCTION
  • SPACE-EFFICIENT DESIGN
  • BROAD FEET FOR STABILITY
  • STORES & ORGANIZES GAMING GEAR

From Assassin Apparel

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Slightly Pissed Off Birds Short Heel Women’s Shoes

$200.00

 

From Jeep

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2012 Jeep Call of Duty/Modern Warfare Edition Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited

WRANGLER MSRP* STARTING AT $ 36,495

WRANGLER UNLIMITED MSRP* STARTING AT $ 40,070

Only one vehicle is tough enough to play in your world. Built on the Rubicon platform, this hero stands ready for deployment. Be one of the few to carry the Call of Duty® MW3 theme into your day-to-day campaigns.
 

 

So no matter who may be on your list this holiday season there is no time like the present (get it? present…) to get surfing for that truly unique gift for the lady gamer on your list. And while you may not need to grace her with the new Call of Duty edition Jeep Wrangler, there is sure to be something out there that will make your gift giving reflect the little extra care you’ve put into the hunt.

And remember, the holiday season doesn’t have to break your bank. Be financially responsible and don’t put yourself into debt this December. If you don’t have the extra cash this season nothing beats a mutliplayer game rental, a bucket of popcorn, and a couple of controllers. Your time is worth far more than your financial crisis. She (or he or anyone) will just be thankful that you care.

 

 

 

Review: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (PC)

Originally posted BY MYASHARONA – NOVEMBER 25, 2011 at GamerFitNation

Game: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Platform: PC
Genre: Action RPG
POV: 1st & 3rd Person
Time Played: 21hrs + 
Developer:Bethesda Game Studios
Other Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Release Date: 11.11.11
 

Bethesda’s newest Elder Scrolls could easily be named Game of The Year at the upcoming VGAs and has received perfect scored reviews all across the web. Also nominated for Studio of the Year, and Best RPG; what is all the hype about? Is it really that good? I am pleased to confirm, for our readers here at GamerfitNation, that The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim does live up to the hype. With amazing visuals, an abundance of gameplay, and a completely immersive mythology, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is every bit deserving of the zeitgeist as it has created.

Skyrim is the fifth installment in the Elder Scrolls franchise and as such already had a substantial fan base. Following Oblivion, Skyrim’s 11.11.11 release by Bethesda, developers of other such notable titles as Fallout 3, Brink, and Rage, hit the market during what is arguably the busiest gaming time of the year. Competing with the likes of DarkSoulsAssasin’s Creed Revelations, Uncharted 3The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Battlefield 3,Modern Warefare 3Rayman Origins, and Saint’s Row The Third, it’s amazing to fathom that Skyrim still set a record with over 280,000 concurrent players, far outdistancing all other titles.

The largest question for me was: Is Skyrim enough to appeal to the player not at all familiar with the Elder Scroll franchise? Because most games on the market create multiple iterations it can create a bit of hesitation to jump into one on the third, fourth, or fifth installment of a long running and popular franchise. Like jumping into the middle of a really good novel, gamers can often skip perfectly wonderful titles for fear of the unknown backstory that the franchise had already built. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is no game to miss just because it is the fifth title in the series.  A large mythology surrounding Skyrim, the places and characters within it, are all explained throughout the game through various interactions with people, and objects such as books. While fans of the franchise will appreciate the subtleties of return characters, and the way Bethesda builds upon previous experiences, new players will appreciate the ease with which the Elder Scrolls world is introduced.

 

Because of the vastness of Skyrim, the complete emersion of experience, and the richness of those experiences, I cannot for a moment pretend that, despite the hitches I encountered on the PC version of the game, I will not rave about The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The game is full, engaging, amazing, and worth every penny. After playing 21 hours of Skyrim over the past 6 days for the purposes of this review, I will undoubtedly jump right back into the game after writing this and make an attempt to catch up to the nearly 50+ hours that most of my friends have already put into it. With only 20+ hours into Skyrim at this point (and 4 of 50 achievements) that is a cost value of $3 per hour of entertainment. If, as I suspect, I hit the 50hour mark with this title, that entertainment cost drops to $1.20 per hour of entertainment. This entertainment cost assessment is a common way for me to evaluate the value of an experience and when examined makes it hard to deny the worth of this title. This is no 8 hour campaign with perhaps some multiplayer for good measure, this is game that will earn its place on your shelf.

Skyrim offers you an open world that can be explored as one of the multiple character races who will propel you through the main quest line or experience a variety of side quests. You will have multiple quests simultaneously and can choose which to pursue at any time. The map is large and the terrain varies. As you explore the map and discover new places you will be able to travel by foot, by horse, or by fast tracking between previously discovered points. Once you have discovered most places they will appear on your map so that you may find them again at a later time. The main quest line will take you through the major cities where there are a myriad of NPCs ready to lead you in the right direction and an equal number ready to lead you astray. During your travels you will have the opportunity to join guilds and work through their quest lines, taking you to all corners of the world.


Very quickly you will learn that the story of Skyrim is one that you were always meant to be a part of. As the unfathomed return of dragons plague Skyrim, your appearance, as the only recent dragonborn, means that you are the pivotal key in the destruction of these beautiful but deadly creatures who are ravishing the world of Skyrim. Along the journey you will encounter conflicts between the people of the land and be able to play a part in their stories as well.

In order to progress through the story you will need to learn, build, and fight to increase your sustainability. You will work to increase your health, magic, and stamina all while building skills in weaponry, alchemy, sneaking and lock picking, one and two handed combat, archery, among so much more. The skill trees develop as you level up and the more you explore the more you are able to build and continue to level up. Each time you play this game your experiences will be affected by the areas you choose to develop creating a phenomenal potential for replay value.

So now that I have you eager to try this game for yourself I’d also like to talk to you a little about maximizing your Skyrim experience.

Consider your PC:

I am running Skyrim on the minimum system requirements for PC and it shows. The game is slow, the graphics are at the lowest setting, and load times are lengthy. If you are not running a top of the line machine I strongly suggest picking up a console version of the game. After playing on PC for so long, I jumped over to the 360 version of the game (the platform my BF is currently playing Skyrim on) and the graphical differences are mind blowing. That is not to say that you shouldn’t play this game on PC, you should, but in order to get the most of this wonderfully rich, vivid, and beautiful environment offered in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, consider what your PC is capable of and make the best decision for your gameplay.

You need a Gamepad:

The interface on the PC is not the most mouse friendly. As an artist I use a tablet on my PC. The Intuos 4 allows me to jump from pen to mouse with ease and let me switch back from gaming to drawing with ease. Don’t do this. I made a switch to a regular usb mouse about 2 hours into my experience and the responsiveness improved greatly, yet the interface was still troublesome. Using the WASD to navigate through your quests, skills, maps, and magic, is fine but the movements and fluidity of the game is still hindered with the mouse. After a number of hours with this I then began playing with a 360 style 3rd party gamepad and it was a game changing experience. If you don’t have a gamepad for your PC, consider one for this game, or consider how intuitive you are with the mouse. It’s a little different than your regular FPS, and the gamepad will save you tons of frustration.

Saves:

Save often. The game’s autosave feature is fine and does a decent job but there is nothing more frustrating than clearing half of a particularly challenging cave only to meet your death and have to restart. Use the save feature and save often, over and over again.

Patches:

IGN  has reported that Bethesda’s new patch will be coming after Thanksgiving to address issues with the game that have been reported across all systems (specifically a texture glitch that many of my gamelist has encountered). I have not encountered this problem but have encountered some bugs, such as getting stuck in the environment’s rockface, that in no way take away from the game’s experience.

For all that it is, for all that it still will be, and even given the time of year that it was released, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is an easy contender for the VGA’s Game of the Year and certainly has quickly become one of my favorite Bethesda games. Because of the sheer magnitude of the game, the inspiring graphics, the phenomenal sound, score, diversity of the game, and the engaging mythology, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim gets a 9.5 out of 10 (rounded to a 9 for the slight difficulty in the PC user interface without a gamepad) and has easily made my favorite pick for Game of the Year: 2011.



Various Screen Shots from The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim at minimum PC settings. 

elder-scrolls-skyrim-V-dragon-1024x576Erna, my high elf warrior at level 6. (at lowest graphics setting for P).
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