Nerd Block Jr. Girls Unboxing July 2014

*Full Disclosure: I paid for this box out of my own pocket. However, this post does contain affiliate links which means I get a small commission if you sign up for the service through the link. All opinions expressed are my own.

Hi all!

Sorry I’ve been kinda MIA lately. Trying to keep up with my brother was a lot more taxing than I’d realized. However, I had a fantastic time and a fantastic visit. So, now that he’s back in Vancouver I’m all set to get back to blog life.

And with that, I bring you a brand new video!!!

Here’s a bit more info on Nerd Block in case you were interested in getting one yourself:

Nerd Block is a nerdy subscription box service similar to Loot Crate which I had previously reviewed here, except that Nerd Block has 4 different box “types” that you can choose from. There’s the Nerd Block classic for $19.99 , which is your basic box of toys & t-shirts a la Loot Crate. They also offer Nerd Block Jr. in boys or girls flavours for $13.99. These ones don’t come with t-shirts, but do seem to include craft items and books as well as the toys and action figures. Finally, Nerd Block also offers a Horror Block for all you fellow horror aficionados.

The Nerd Block site is very easy to navigate and canceling your Nerd Block is as easy as sending an email to their cancellations department, instructions which are clearly stated in their FAQ, unlike Loot Crate who seem to make their cancellation process as obscure as possible.

I also like that Nerd Block has distribution centers all over the world, which means that I got my box here in Canada at the same time as everyone else in the US or Europe. No waiting around like a looser watching everyone else’s unboxing videos for me.

Dames Who Make Games: Tanya S.

Dames Who Make Games - Tanya S.

This week’s Dames Who Make Games interviewee is Tanya S., co-founder of female oriented games incubator Pixelles, Creative Director and Founder of indie start up Kitfox Games and an all-around amazingly kick-butt chick. I’ve had the pleasure of befriending Tanya as part of my persistent presence in the Montreal indie game “scene,” and she gratiously agreed to sit down and talk with me about how she got into making games and what it’s like running her very own studio. As well, Kitfox’s first game, Shattered Planet, was just released on Steam!

Gamerwife: Let’s start at the beginning, what was the first game you ever played?
Tanya: You know, I’m not actually sure! But the first game I ever played obsessively was probably Bubble Bobble for NES… those ridiculous dinosaurs. The first (and last) game I ever called a hint line for was Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening for GameBoy.

GW: What made you decide on a career in games?
Tanya: I tried out games journalism for a little while, starting the (now-defunct) Gamer-Girl.org, which was an all-female game review squad, but around 2005, I realised I was generally disappointed by the variety of games available. I was teaching English in Japan and having my short stories published in magazines… but what I really wanted to do was write game stories. I was keeping a little journal of all my game ideas. So I decided I’d try to join the industry and become a game designer.

GW: Where did you go to school and what did you study?
Tanya: My undergrad was at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, studying English Literature. But my graduate school was at the Guildhall at SMU, where I specialised in Level Design. I did some environment design and some scripting, but most of my time was spent making levels in all the different game engines (Unreal, Source, Radiant, Elder Scrolls, etc).

GW: What are the best/worst things about working in video games?
Tanya: The best thing is definitely the people. Everyone I’ve worked with has been cool to hang out with, which isn’t something you can say in most industries. Everyone plays games, and most people are creative and chill. But… the worst thing is probably that most studios think it’s normal to work 80 or even 100-hour work weeks! It’s just not sustainable and ends up driving away most experienced developers. So when I started Kitfox Games, I resolved that we wouldn’t ever “crunch”, and at the maximum, we’d do two weeks of light overtime now and then (~50 hours). It’s been a year, and so far so good. We work a solid 8-9 hours a day and that’s it.

GW: Are there unique challenges you’ve faced as an independent developer? What were they and how did you overcome them?
Tanya: I think the hardest thing is getting anyone to even notice you exist. There are literally thousands of little studios each making really cool games — the competition is fiercer than it’s ever been! Trying to get the attention of press and fans can feel almost impossible in that sea of indies. We do everything we can, from personalised emails to leveraged personal twitter accounts, and it looks like Shattered Planet’s launch next week will go O.K. [Editor's Note: It did very well!] But even if it doesn’t get much coverage, hopefully if we just keep making good games, slowly more and more people will recognise and respect us.

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Friday I’m In Love

Popo & Nana by MeleeNinja

Popo & Nana by MeleeNinja available at Society 6

What a week.

I helped a friend get settled in Montreal, started a character in SW:TOR so Rick and I could play together while he’s out of town and cleaned the apartment top to bottom in anticipation of my brother’s arrival tomorrow!! What?! Yup, my little bro (who is a full foot taller than me,) is coming to visit beautiful Mtl and keep me company while Rick’s away on business. Can you tell I’m excited?

Oh, I also gave away some great stuff to celebrate hitting over 100 subscribers (congrats again, Mandy) and won a rad art print from The Pixel Party.

Your Kickstarter Pick:
Modern Polaxis – An augmented reality comic book project with a modest ask. Sci-fi, punk rock and a confluence of old school and new school art. Sold.

Link time!
Just in time for convention season, Krystelle’s Miss Tells has some great tips on keeping the kids happy at a con.

How video games change the shape of your brain. (Usually for the better.)

Need!

Most of us have to learn this one the hard way, myself included. Love isn’t enough.

I would totally watch this version of Sailor Moon.

Sarcasm is awesome.

Really awesome.

And if sarcasm doesn’t help, maybe we should take up ping pong.

Cats & video games, together in one amazing DIY.

Totally not crunchy ways to practice self-love.

Farewell Atari. It was fun while it lasted.

Have a great weekend everyone!