One couple, two perspectives, tons of geekery

Thursday, April 28, 2011

BPAL Launches RPG Based Scent Series

Ah, I love the smell of critical hits in the morning!

A while back, we featured a Gamer's Grimoire article on incorporating scent into your gaming experience as an added sensory effect. In said article we also mentioned Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab's wonderful assortment of scents available on their site.

Well now, it appears that they have launched new series with an RPG theme!
The Princess is most certainly eyeing the "Elf" oil blend, while The Warlock's affection seems torn between "Mage" and "Evil". 

Which one do you fancy?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Romantic Misinterpretation in Gaming

Truer words were never spoken...

A while back, someone in our local gaming group mentioned that girls shouldn’t wear “sexy perfume” to a game if they do not want to be hit on, because it sends the “wrong” signals. Obviously, this stirred up a rather large debate among the players, male and female alike. Though this occurred some time ago, the Princess and the Warlock feel it is quite relevant to discuss.

In role playing games males and females of varied backgrounds, nationalities, races, religions, and sexual preferences come together to enjoy a single hobby. We take on different roles much like actors. We play a part. In many cases, we are playing with a group of our friends that we interact with on a regular basis, but other times we are interacting with people for the first time whether at a convention or getting involved in a new group. However, among friends or strangers misinterpretation can and will occur from time to time.

We can all intellectually distinguish the differences between OOC and IC, but sometimes the lines blur. Especially when you are throwing emotions into the mix. Sometimes we pause and question IC actions – “Why is Cordelia’s character constantly attacking mine? Is she made at me? What did I do?” or “OMG, Xander’s character is flirting with mine? Is he trying to hit on me?”.  As players in a game, it is our responsibility to keep OOC and IC separate. Again this doesn’t always happen though. Usually two types of responses in misinterpretation occur – transference and repulsion.

For an example of transference, if Willow decides to play a seductress, wear a short red dress and perfume and starts hitting on you, that is not an OOC invitation that she wants to date you IRL. It merely means she is playing a part. Don’t allow the IC emotions to transfer into OOC assumptions. Likewise if Angel’s character decides to hit on Willow ICly, it’s her responsibility not to freak out and worry if he’s being a creeper and trying to use the character to get close to her OOCly. Don’t have a knee jerk reaction of being repulsed by something that occurs IC.

One of the best ways to avoid misinterpretation of romantic intent is to be open and honest with the group. If you are playing a character who you intend to be a flirt, then it is best you let your gaming group know. Just take a moment to explain that you intend to play the character a certain way and that nothing you do is meant to be taken OOC, but that if you do something that makes another someone feel uncomfortable, then please let you know. That right there can eliminate any potential misinterpretation. But if you feel uncomfortable with something someone else does or says ICly, you need to speak to the person directly and be honest about how you're feeling. A clear line of communication is often the key to avoiding drama.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

New Poll: What generalized class type is your favorite to play in RPGs?

With a total of 18 responders to our poll asking readers which comic book publishing company is your favorite, DC came in first place with a total of 7 votes.

A new poll has been posted and is located to the right-hand side of the page:

What generalized class type is your favorite to play in RPGs?

Let us know!

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Princess’s Garden: An Open Letter to Ginia Bellafante of the New York Times

I'll have my sword AND my tiara, thank you very much!

Dear Ms. Bellafante,
After reading your recent article, "A Fantasy World of Strange Feuding Kingdoms", which reviews the upcoming HBO series, A Game of Thrones, I felt compelled to comment.
I found this review to be offensive to fantasy lovers, particularly female fantasy lovers. Now, I will state for the record that yes, I am a fan of fantasy, I am a fan of George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series, and yes I regularly play D&D and LARP. However, the way you come off in your article you seem to attack the idea that females cannot enjoy these things and if they do that somehow makes them not feminine. Fantasy, this one or otherwise, is not gender specific. It is an interest just as RPGs are a hobby. It may not be something you are interested in, fine. But please do not presume all because you personally don't consort with women interested in the fantasy genre, that we aren't out there and those that are, are somehow flawed in some way. In fact, most of the fantasy lovers I happen to know (male and female alike) are very well-read, intelligent, creative and poised people. You may wish to consider having more of an open mind if you are to make judgment calls and critiques about things you are not familiar with. You are a writer. Do your research. It's part of your job.
Furthermore, from your jumbled piece I fail to understand exactly what it is that you do not enjoy or appreciate about the show. The message you sent with your review comes off as "I don't like fantasy, no woman out there could possibly like fantasy over any other genre, and this is just a fanboy service show to watch naked wenches." That is not a constructive nor professional review. What exactly didn't you like? What the quality of the writing poor? Were the performances stilted? Was the story too confusing and/or too contrived?
Now you may be under the impression that as a fan of the series, I am just giving you are hard time. But I assure you that is not the case. I am very interested in hearing about reviews (both positive and negative) from critics who are new to the story. I like hearing about what aspects of the production work or don't work for you and why they do or do not.
All I ask is that next time you write a review please refrain from making such sweeping generalities and attacks on a fan base and on my gender. That is not what you are supposed to be writing about - you are supposed to be reviewing the product and telling us specifically what merits and/or flaws the product has. End of story.

The Princess Comments:
Yes, I did send that email to Ms. Bellafante after reading her poorly written article in the New York Times. Here are a few quotes from the “review” (if you can even call it that based on what little journalistic merit it actual has):
The true perversion, though, is the sense you get that all of this illicitness has been tossed in as a little something for the ladies, out of a justifiable fear, perhaps, that no woman alive would watch otherwise. While I do not doubt that there are women in the world who read books like Mr. Martin’s, I can honestly say that I have never met a single woman who has stood up in indignation at her book club and refused to read the latest from Lorrie Moore unless everyone agreed to “The Hobbit” first. “Game of Thrones” is boy fiction patronizingly turned out to reach the population’s other half.”
Excuse me? So because I am female, I can’t like fantasy? And if I do, does that make me somehow strange, flawed or defective in some way? Or unfeminine? Articles like this and people like Ms. Bellafante are part of the reason why the Warlock and I have this blog. To show the perspectives of two fantasy lovers – one male, one female.  
Ms. Bellafante you have offended me as a geek and but what’s more, as a woman.
What is it to you that makes someone feminine? Do I have to watch “Sex in the City”, have only girlfriends, shop at the Gap, carry a Prada bag, only watch rom-coms, drink cosmopolitans and spend my free time reading Nicholas Spark novels? Because while that great for some women, that is not who I am. And while I will not make judgments on those ladies, I want the same respect and not have you judge me on my own merit as a woman.
Because some days this princess gets dolled up in lolita fashion, while other days she runs around in a Slytherin t-shirt, hoodie and jeans. She drinks both mint flavored bubble tea and beer (not together, mind you).  She has a collection of graphic novels, RPG manuals and children’s books. She gives to charity and does volunteer work. She spends her time running through forests pretending to be an Elven warrior, while sometimes she has tea with her friends. She is a fabulous, happy and intelligent and I wouldn’t have it any other way. If by your definition enjoying fantasy makes me less of a woman in your eyes, then maybe it is you who are flawed and not me and not all the other women out there like me.
(note: pic from weheartit)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Problematic Character Concepts

You're doing it wrong

Games, by their nature, are a social activity. When we come together, we are creating an interactive story. It’s a process of synergy wherein players and storytellers combine their creativity into a cohesive force. Well at least ideally anyway. Often we have plenty of issues along the way that spring up to prevent that synergetic process from occurring. Sometimes this occurs on the storyteller’s end and sometimes this occurs on the players end.

As players, it’s important to recognize that the game is not all about you. This realization and acceptance needs to start at character creation. When joining a game, it is your duty to understand what the setting and genre is so that you will be able to make your concept work. You also need to consider your fellow players and think how your character will benefit the game and how they will be able to contribute to the overall experience. So let us explore so common character archetypes and explain why they are problematic.

The Loner

This concept can range from the painfully shy misfit to the stone cold mercenary. For whatever the reason, your character just doesn’t play well with others. Are the warning signing flaring up? Because they should. Let’s take a look at the very first line of this post – “Games, by their nature, are a SOCIAL ACTIVITY”. Its fine to play an introverted character and it is fine to play someone with a dark and mysterious past, but when you take this to the extreme you are doing a disservice to yourself, your storyteller and your fellow players. You can play a loner, sure, but you need to create ways to hook your character into the plot and connect to other characters so that you are not forcing the game masters to jump through hoops to get you involved. And furthermore, its simply unfair to expect that the GMs should have to run you exclusive RP simply because you refuse to interact with others. They already have their hands full. Don’t wait on the GMs to throw you plot cookies. Flesh your character out and give him/her motivations that will help you connect them to the game and other players. If you are not interested in having a social experience, then you may wish to consider sticking to video games.

The Psychopath

From the cute little girl with a bloody knife to another Joker rip-off, mental illness is suddenly so very in because heck, it’s just so darn cool. Only… it isn’t. Mental illness is not cool. It is not silly. It is not awesome. It is a very serious debilitation and to properly role play a character with such problems takes a commitment to do some extensive research. Too many times people describe their characters as “crazy” or “a psychopath”. But what do they mean by that? What specific mental illness is the character suffering from? Most immediately say “schizophrenia”, which seems to be the fan favorite among gamers and yet so few are willing to put any effort into understanding the ailment, and we have yet to see it accurately played. If you do want to accurately portray a mental disorder, then you need to pick up a copy of the 4th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (more commonly referred to as the DSM IV among psychologists) and do your research. Try volunteering at a psych ward or consult a local psychology professor.  Do your homework. It can be insulting and disrespectful to improperly portray these illnesses to people who actually have suffered from them or who have loves ones who have. Please treat these concepts with the level of respect and sincerity that they deserve.

The Nobody

The Nobody comes in a few different flavors. This can be a rushed character concept with just numbers on a sheet and no backstory or personality, the amnesiac character that the player just told the GM to come up with the character for him/her, or the character is a blatant rip off of a pre-existing character in pop media. For whatever the reason, you’ve put the minimal amount of effort to create an original, fleshed-out concept. You haven’t delved into who they are and are just drifting or else are trying to box your character in to a concept you didn’t create. In the first case, it’s an easy to solve problem - just take some time to actually think about your character before playing. If you don’t have a solid concept you run the risk of becoming inconsistent doing random things out of boredom because you don’t know what else to do since your character is lacking in motivation. The amnesiac is in a similar situation. It’s fine to play a character with amnesia, but have an idea of their baseline personality at the very least and work closely with the GM so you can have clearly defined goals to keep you involved in the plot. Lastly, we come to the blatant rip-off.  It’s fine to take inspiration from outside sources and piecemeal together a character from a patchwork of different characters, but when you create a character clone and just give it a different name you run the risk of confining your creativity. Your character is likely to be in situations that the base character was not in. Instead of struggling to figure out WWJSD (What Would Jack Sparrow Do), make your own character. You will know the in’s and out’s of their personality and have a clearer motivation which will allow you to react more naturally as the character. If you are struggling to connect to your character, then speak with your GM and ask for assistance. Don’t be a Nobody – be a Somebody!

The Badass

Ahhh… the Chuck Norris with a side of Samuel L. Jackson. It’s fine to play a toughie, but when you refuse to allow your character to lose, look foolish or give someone else the chance at a victory, then you are in danger of becoming a problem player. This is less a character problem and more a player problem, because it becomes a “sword”-waving contest which usually results in the player becoming irate if they don’t get their way. One way to avoid this from occurring is by giving your character flaws, faults and fears and being aware of them and allowing them to play out and be exploited. You need to be aware that your character is not infallible. Perfect is boring. Mary Sues and Gary Stus are annoying. Not one wants to play with a sore loser. This kind of behaviour and character concept should stay at your kindergarten sandbox. Much like the problematic Loner, the Badass player needs to realize that gaming is a social activity. A player who throws a fit anytime his/her character loses is not going to win any friends. And honestly, these concepts aren’t interesting. Flaws (and we’re not talking the “cool” my-character-has-an-eyepatch type flaws – we’re talking about my 16th level samurai has an intense and crippling fear of confined spaces) are interesting. Grow up and shake off the inner power gamer.

What this all boils down to is being prepared and not settling for a gimmick, stereotype and/or a cliché. Problem characters mostly just come down to players who have not thought about the consequences the character will have to the game. Consequences being both good and bad here. Players simply need to be encouraged to think about two things when developing a concept:  1) What will this character add to the game? and 2) Will this concept hurt the game or others enjoyment of it?  Before jumping into any game, take the time to fully develop your concept. In the long run it will make for a more enjoyable experience for you and everyone else involved.  
(We would like to thank the members of the NYC LARP Troupe for their insightful discussion which helped to contribute to this article. Thanks guys!)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

How to Hook a Princess

The Warlock's notes on how he caught his Princess.

So you want a princess of your very own, huh? Well if kidnapping or coercion isn’t your style, here are a few tips on how to go about courting a scene girl especially if she’s in a subculture you are not very familiar with.

The Gamer

The Princess says:

Maybe you saw her at a convention, or maybe she’s a new girl in your gaming community. Whatever the case may be, her hobby makes her very accessible since gaming is a social hobbythat anyone can participate in.    If she’s in your local gaming scene, then you’ll probably have a good chance to get to know her. If she’s at a convention, try to get involved in a game she’s playing in.

Play it cool with a gamer girl. She’s likely just as much of a fan as you are and probably just as eager to discuss the pros and cons of 3.5 vs Pathfinder. Treat her like an equal. Just because she’s a girl doesn’t mean she doesn’t know what she’s doing. I’ve seen plenty of guys make the mistake of assuming I don’t know anything about a given game based purely on the fact of being female. It can be very frustrating. If you happen to be involved in a game with her, an easy opener is using the game or her character as a conversation opener. Try to avoid instantly going into your character and all your war stories. Give her the chance to speak. Get her going enough and you may score a phone number.

The Warlock says:

Ok, so you found the girl that does want to hear about your 20th level paladin, or at least will listen, so don’t over react!  The worst thing to do is overwhelm her, you want her to be able to open up .  Ask about her gamming experiences, ask about what games she likes, what her favorite characters are.  Give her plenty of time to tell you about what she likes.  Then once you have some footing  try to find ways to compare your experiences with hers.  You already have a lot of similarities if your both gamming, so try to find ways to cement that.  You want her to look at your similarities not differences.  Gamming can create some intense emotional experiences, find out what some of hers are, and then try to link it to one of your.  Now you have a linked strong emotional experience in both your minds, try to find a few more common grounds, and she’ll start to think you were made for each other.  Make sure she knows how to get into your other games, but don’t insist, just leave the comparison from her old game to this new one so entice her.  

The Lolita

The Princess says:

Tread carefully when pursuing a lolita. As someone who in actively involved in this scene, I can say to you with confidence that lolitas are very wary about being approached by strangers. And with good reason – we’re constantly the target of creepers and random people shouting insults at us on the streets because of our unique fashion sense. Please understand that this causes us to be more on the defensive when we’re out and about.

The first thing is not to assume that just because she is a scene girl does not necessarily also mean that she’s also into anime or gaming. Some are, yes. But not all. Lolitas appreciate sincerity and genuine displays of interest. Try starting off by complimenting her and follow up with a remark about how refreshing it is to meet someone who is willing to be themselves contrary to what popular media dictates. This will win you major brownie points. Saying something along those lines shows her that you are accepting her for who she is. Acceptance and validation are something many lolitas sadly lack in both society and their personal lives, so hearing this will certainly warm her up to you. From there feel to ask questions, just make sure to keep them respectful and be aware that she may be a bit guarded at first.

The Warlock says:

This one requires a bit of leg work, but if you put the time in at the beginning this one should a bit easier in execution.  Learn fashion.  Watch Project Runway, read a fashion magazine, or if you corner cutter (not a good plan here) at least watch The Devil Wears Prada.  Lolita’s know their fashion so faking it just won’t work.  Once you know a bit work on complementing the clothes.  Ask “Is that Innocent World?” or “Did you see Angelic Pretty’s last fashion show?  They had a dress very similar to that….”.  You don’t need to be an expert they’ll forgive you if you can’t tell Baby The Stars Shine Bright from Victorian Maiden, but the fact that you’re not ignorant of their life style is a great foot in the door (In fact if your clever enough to actually know the difference, you may want to make the mistake anyway, her correcting you should take longer than her just saying yes, giving you more face time to make yourself memorable)  Once you establish that you are 1) not making fun of them, and 2) know what they are about it should be easy to get them to talk to you.  For extra brownie points brush up on Victorian etiquette and use it whenever you can. 
The Cosplayer

The Princess says:

For the most part, you’re likely to meet a cosplay girl at a convention. Luckily, she’s displaying her fandom out in the open, so that gives you the opportunity to discuss a potential mutual interest right there. If she’s dressed out as a character from a video game series, you can ask her what she thinks of the newest game. It’s nice to be approached by someone who is interested in your thoughts and not the skin tight body suit you’re wearing.
Which brings me to the next point – her eyes are located on her head not her chest. Keep your sight above shoulder level. She’s likely been stalked around by shady characters with cameras all day. The last thing she wants is to have to deal with more lewd stares. Also remember that the more physically attractive and more revealing her attire is, the more frequently she has to deal with this behavior. 

The Warlock says:

Cosplayers are a bit eclectic so you’ll have to be a bit careful on your approach.  Fortunately if you around them, there is probably a group so you should have a few chances.  We’ll start with average/not revealing everything cosplayer.  Most of them are out going, expressive, and excitable.  Be very excited about their costume.  They did a GREAT job on it, IT’S AMAZING!!!!!  Working  in a little physical contact, such a feel of the sleeve, or closer look at a head piece is a great way to get in close and intimate fast.  Physical contact is a tricky situation but, they are usually used to being glomped so you should be good as long as you don’t just start caressing them or something.  After that try to find out what their other interests are besides the show.  Do they only like anime, do they love video games, are they any other category listed in this article.  Once you know what else they are like try to use that to build conversations on.  You want to stand out, and everyone is talking about their costume already so you need to talk about something else they like.  

Now onto the Poison Ivy/ Darth Talon/Is-that-just-a-pasty? cosplayer.  Boy are you not the first guy to hit on her, and yes she is sick of it by now.  So you have to make her come to you.  If she’s in the costume she knows who it is, and is probably as knowledgeable as you.  Use that.  Make a comment about the costume, but DON’T complement it.  “Really the costume from issue 18….bit overdone don’t you think?”  “Is that a wig?” (If it looks real NOT if it’s obviously a wig)  “Did you think about using liquid Latex for those scars?”  Make her defend the costume.  Make her interested in the fact that you’re not going out of your way please her like everyone else.  If you can open it to other critiques of the costume.  You don’t want to insult her but try to find neutral comments that make her fish for meaning, and therefore talk to you. 

The Rennie 

The Princess says:

Check out any local Renn Faire and you’re sure to find a flock of ladies with their bosoms half spilling from their tightened corsets. It’s an immediate allure for sure, and pair that with their fondness for bawdy songs and beer and you have yourself the chance for a potential vivacious and fun loving partner.

Like the Cosplayer, Rennie ladies (or wenches, as some refer to themselves as), are used to being gawked at by passersby. They’ve also probably heard every come on there is in the book. Futhermore, Rennies tend to keep to themselves when it goes to relationships. Faire workers and faire regulars are infamous for having a rather incestuous social scene. To get her attention you’ll need to stand out from the crowd without coming off as a total creeper. Rennies tend to appreciate witty humor, devilish charm and intelligence, so cleverness is the way to go for a first move. Try pulling aside a roaming rose seller and asking him/her to deliver a rose to her for you.

The Warlock says:

The fastest way to catch one is to be one, or at least seem to be one.  Like the Lolita this requires a bit of leg work.  You don’t have to have everything memorized, but learn a drinking song or two, review “medieval”  English vernacular (you don’t have to use it, but be able to follow it, and laugh at jokes) , and build up your tolerance for drinking.  You don’t necessarily need to be in costume or “garb” but it helps.  Don’t go half way though.  If it’s going to be a ruffled shirt with jeans and a Yankee cap don’t bother.  Just dress normal and be yourself.  If you’re going to wear garb then go and get a whole set and show your really invested.  The last thing you need is some gimmick, to help separate you from the rest of the pageantry.   If you can juggle, or ride a unicycle or do card tricks then great.  Lug that stuff around and make an impression.  If not try to find some obscure historical facts, memorize them and then drop them when you can.  This should be enough to get you started, but you’ll probably need to really learn stuff if you want things to continue.     

Closing thoughts

The Princess says:

There are a few universal tips when it comes to pursuing any lady. First, we can smell  desperation from a mile away. Women respond to confidence. That’s why you see so many of them with jerks. Don’t be a jerk, but do try to carry yourself with pride.

Second, give her space. Emotionally and physically. If you’ve made your move, chances are she’s picked up on it. If she’s interested, she will respond, if she doesn’t, let her go. Additionally, when approaching any girl, please don’t invade her personal space and do not make physical contact. Most women find that very invasive and may be freaked out. So please respect herpersonal space.

The Warlock says:

Be memorable.  Find ways to have a conversation, and make her think.  The more face time you can get the better.  Don’t be embarrassed by any of your likes and show interest in all of hers.  You need to be confident and show you are compatible.  Spend the extra money on good “garb” or clothes (at least 3 of the 4 Princess here are dressing up regularly) If you don’t look like you care about your clothes, then way would you care about theirs?  Don’t walk around in a ripped T-Shirt even if it does show how old school you are.  And last practice.  You don’t have to hit on every girl you see, and you don’t need to be hitting on someone to practice.  Just use the tips above to talk to girls about your hobby without wanting or needing it to go anywhere.  You’ll both get a fun conversation and you can get over any jitters you have about talking to girls.  Then when the time comes that you’re looking for that special someone’s number you can be more relaxed about it.  

(Or just make your own princess here!)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...