Since the NOC launched in 2013, actress Janina Gavankar has been one of the community’s biggest celebrity boosters. Now, finally, Janina is able to join us on Hard NOC Life! In the intervening years, she has racked up the nerd bona fides by starring in Arrow, True Blood, and Sleepy Hollow. But now, she is part of the biggest nerd franchise of them all: as Iden Versio in the blockbuster game franchise Star Wars: Battlefront II.
Recently Netflix has released the first “season” of Castlevania, a gory, animated version of the beloved Konami series featuring our favorite vampire killers trying to take down Dracula. I am a huge fan of Castlevania, from the platformer NES days to its Metroidvania-style games on the DS; I was curious to see how they would portray the game in a show format. There is definitely some potential if given to the right people. With only being four episodes long, how does show fare with the original material?
Long story short, some work is required but it is a good start.
There were more than 68,000 total attendees at E3 this week, and I’m almost certain all of them have been gaming more than I have in the past five years. I’m retired. Too many consecutive days of realizing I’d played through the night until dawn had me putting the sticks down. Not to mention, I just can’t keep up with these kids. I’m washed.
Yet here I got the fortunate opportunity to cover E3 for NOC in the conference’s first year open to the public. I had to do this, for the culture, for the kid inside who never finished Mario 2, and for the same kid that reached the end of Streets of Rage and chose to kill my brother to take over the gang.
The NES was my staple console for the majority of my childhood. While I did not have many games at my disposal, games like Double Dragon and Double Dragon II were titles that I played just about every day on my own and with friends. I still consider Double Dragon II to be one of my favorite NES games and it influenced my tastes in games I play today. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the series’ creation, Arc System Works recruited many of the original crew that made the original game to make a brand new sequel in the form of the 8-bit games I cherished as a child. When hearing about this news, I was excited and skeptical at the same time. The nostalgia side of me wanted it but would it be enough to maintain my interest in the current era of video games?
On August 3, I was excited to unveil a project I’d been working on for nearly a year. I had been working with Magic: The Gathering to produce a brand new character; a character who is a biggie for their Planeswalkers cast of characters. Kaya, Ghost Assassin has made history as the first black woman Planeswalker, and I’m honored to have been a part of her creation.
As you might expect, it begins with a selection of starters: today, do you choose fuming rage, crushing grief, or helpless fear? Perhaps you feel all three. Or none. Being Black in America is not just some game that anyone can control, after all.
As a Black Nerd it’s impossible to ignore that in the same week that we gained Pokémon Go, arguably one of the most anticipated games of the year, we lost Alton Sterling and Philando Castile to police brutality (who in reality are part of an even longer list of murders by the police this week alone). Once again the debates flare up between distraction and self care, between what people “should” be talking about or feeling at any given moment. But if Pokémon taught me anything, it’s that there is always another option than the “starters” you’re given, and sometimes this, too, is its own revolutionary act. I’m talking about allowing ourselves to sometimes choose Black joy. No, the Blackest Joy.
It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Square-Enix’s MMO, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. Just when I thought my MMO days were numbered, I tried out the game and am now playing it often with my friends. Needless to say, I was quite hyped when the first expansion, Heavensward, was released in June. After playing it throughout the summer and into the new year, I have finally collected my thoughts on the game and its current state.
There is only one week left in the Kickstarter for Failsafe, a new independent video game by Game Over Studios. Co-created by poet Beau Sia and featuring voices by Ashly Burch and Dante Basco. To help get the word out about the campaign, Beau and Dante stopped by Hard N.O.C. Life to talk about the game and the new world of storytelling their exploring with Failsafe.
When you’re into comics, science fiction, role-playing games and the rest, people will make assumptions about you. These assumptions are that you’re a nerd (not in the liberating sense that we use here), a geek, a wimp — somehow different or less than the folks who consume and participate in mainstream popular culture. And this applies to white people. When you add race to this, you get doubly othered quite a bit of the time. You like “white shit” and you’re soft. In many cases, you become an ass-whooping magnet. We won’t get into how all of this stuff is now mainstream or how fantasy sports leagues are about as Dungeons and Dragons as you can get, just minus the swords, gold, and magic.
And it is D&D that I want to talk about here. I’ve played for over thirty years. While I am not participating in an active campaign, I would in a heartbeat if I found one that interested me.
This week, a classic Nintendo video game celebrated a landmark anniversary. In September 1985, the first iteration of Super Mario Bros. was released for the Famicom system in Japan. Three decades later, the Italian plumber with the 40″ vertical and suspect accent has become a cultural phenomenon the world over.
To mark Nintendo’s crowning achievement in making all of us feel super old, the Nerds convened around the old Roundtable to share some of their Super Mario memories.