GenCon Review Spotlight – Tea Time

While attending GenCon, I chose to go to the Sci-Fi and Comedy film blocks, because I had friends presenting amateur films in each category.

There was a real range of film craft, from deeply powerful to utterly dreadful. However, my personal favorite film was a tongue and cheek steampunk comedic short, Tea Time by J. Derek Howard and his team.

Ironically, this film (shown in the sci-fi block) was more funny than the majority of films in the comedy block. The writing, acting and composition of the piece tell a humorous and smart story.

If you enjoyed this film, consider backing Howard’s latest project, NightSky. It’s about an all female mercenary group, inspired by ensemble sci-fiction like Firefly & Star Trek. I’ve included the Kickstarter video below, but feel free to check out their page here: NightSky

- E.B.

Cosplay Wednesday – As Seen at GenCon

Conventions are the gathering place for many a cosplayer, no matter the genre. While walking around the show floor, I took pictures of many of my favorites. From amateur ninjas to professionally crafted BioShock characters – you could find a whole range at GenCon this year.

Personally, I most enjoyed a group of friends who came as the entire Red Team from Valve’s Team Fortress 2. Below is my gallery stream of some pictures I managed to nab with the trusty iPhone while at the Con. Enjoy!

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Best Shirts of GenCon 2014

At conventions, t-shirts are common fare. Catering to the attendee demographics, most are sassy, nerdy more witty rather than aesthetically pleasing. However, there are rare nuggets of gold – apparel that appeals to the eye and mind.

NerdAtlas’ choice for the best shirt of GenCon belongs to a line produced by JBM Press.

JBM Press has an entire line of Dungeons and Dragons-esque role playing shirts featuring slick graphics and witty damage rolls. The shirts design’s silhouetted fantasy art looks great, and the addition of dice values to the attacks won over many a heart. I saw dozens of people wearing these shirts throughout the con, and I know everyone I was there with bought a shirt for themselves.
They have numerous designs, from kobolds to halfling rogues. If you’ve ever played a pen and paper RPG, then you can most certainly find a character that represents you.
Not all of the options are available on the website, however the store owner told me they plan to have everything up by September 1st. Be sure to check them out.
- E.B.

Gems of GenCon

GenCon 2014 was a fabulous experience. The con was brimming with great people, amateur films, swag and lots and lots of games! Gaming giant, Wizards of the Coast, was there in full force, with the completed launch of Dungeons and Dragons 5E and an entire exhibit hall dedicated to Magic: The Gathering. Competitor Fantasy Flight Games had a great show too, with a massive plot of real estate in the main show room. Their play space and shop were busting with people every day, and by Sunday they had sold out of the majority of their retail.

Still, the best part about GenCon is the way indie games and Kickstarter projects can shine. There’s room for everyone at the con, and you can practically feel the enthusiasm permeating the Convention Center.

Today’s post is a collection of some of my favorite finds this year. Throughout the rest of the week, there will be more in-depth articles about specific games, movies and features. Get psyched!

Gems of GenCon:

Indie Game Delight: Iron & Ale is a card based drinking game from Table Forged LLC. Funded through Kickstarter, the game revolves around each player assuming the role of a Dwarven Lord/Lady. Then, you do what all dwarves love to do: mine for gold, fight and drink. Players complete Mountain challenges and Meadhall challenges for “honor” – player with the most honor wins. The Meadhall challenges are where the game rewards players for belching, cursing, arm wrestling and dancing like dwarves – failure results in a drink penalty. It is loads of fun, with or without alcohol, and these guys sold out in the first days of the con.

Wonderfully Ridiculous Short: Qunitipus is the story of a hand shaped alien rebel fighter-pilot who crash lands on Earth. Now, you might think that watching a film of a hand walking around the Earth would be terrible, but this was one of my favorite films at the GenCon film fest. The hand, performed by Chris Murdoch, is so surprisingly expressive, you actually get the sense of a narrative and action. It sounds weird, but trust me, if it’s at a con near you, you should watch it.

Surprisingly Innovative Game Demo: Golem Arcana. This latest concoction from Harebrained Schemes was very popular, with some of the most enthusiastic demo players on the show floor. Look for a special feature from the private demo I had with game maker Mitch Gitelman on Thursday. This game has the potential to shake things up in the table top world for years to come. I’m very excited about it.

Most Niche Retail Booth: Yes, thanks to Doctor Who, the resurgence of the fez hat has gripped the nerd world in its velvety claws. Fez-O-Rama had hats for every nerd, from dice rollers to Lovecraftians. It was fun to try on these hats and the custom options were very cool. These folks also get props on presentation as this was one of the best looking booths at the con.

Wonder Woman Princess!Cutest Cosplay: I am totally bias, but this Wonder Woman princess cosplay was the most adorable thing I saw at GenCon. She was a sweet kid, when I asked her (and her mother) if I could get a picture she immediately struck the classic crossed arms pose. Proof it’s important to have female superheroes in the media! Give this girl her Wonder Woman movie! (Okay, soapbox moment over.)

I hope you enjoyed this little round up. If you’ve never been to GenCon, and you love board games, you must get there in the coming years. Look forward for more content in days to come.

- E.B.

T-Shirt Tuesday – Good Queen Bess

The Shirt: Everyone knows that Queen Elizabeth I was a total boss. She might have been the “Virgin Queen” – but who has time for men when you’re busy defeating the Spanish Armada and leading England into a Golden Age? She was all that and a glass of ale.

Payment: Sold via Headline Shirts, who accepts Paypal and all major credit cards.

Styles: Available in adult sizes S-XL.

The Game Over Greggy Show

Greg Miller, Glen Ellyn native and Portillo’s hot dogs fan boy, is a known voice in the online gaming community.

Greg used to work on IGN’s Playstation review team, where he founded the incredibly popular podcast Podcast Beyond covering the latest happenings in the Sony universe. Since then, he’s gone on to work for IGN’s video team as the host for the online web show, Up at Noon. As a personal side project, Greg has also started his own private YouTube channel, GameOverGreggy.

Greg’s loud and opinionated, but also extremely funny. And he’s got some very cool friends. Together, with these aforementioned cool friends, Miller has launched a new show called the Game Over Greggy show. He and three or four others get together and each brings a topic to discuss. These things range from the decriminalization of drugs to the latest news on Star Wars VII. The breadth of subject matter is wide and the opinions are definitely diverse. Typically it features regulars Nick Scarpino, Tim Gettys, and Colin Moriarty but there have been special guests like comedian Aisha Tyler.

While I’m not much of a Up at Noon viewer, I have really enjoyed the Game Over Greggy show. It’s a great place to hear some VERY smart nerds talk about all sorts of societal and cultural issues and questions. The podcast flows very naturally as Miller goes a good job facilitating a conversational podcast. If you want the full MP3 the day it’s released, go over to Bandcamp and pay a dollar. If you don’t mind waiting, the previous week’s episodes are released in sections throughout the week for free on YouTube.

The Game Over Greggy show is getting decent viewership, but I’m trying to give it a signal boost. It’s a cool show and I’ve been a longtime fan of Miller’s, so check it out!

-E.B.

Review – f(x)’s Album Red Light

This week’s featured review is of the new K-Pop album from girl group f(x), Red Light.

The group f(x) is a peppy blend of hip-hop, synth pop and hipster fashion. Hip-popsters, if you will. They released a hit single “Rum Pum Pum Pum” last summer, topping the charts in Korea. Now, their full album has been released, and I gotta say I’m a big fan.

Now, since I don’t speak Korean (sadly.) I am limited in my analysis on the lyrical quality of the group as a whole. Still, as an avid K-Pop listener, I can sense the refinement and quality in the overall listening experience.

The namesake track, “Red Light” has a smooth and catchy melody, extremely hum-able without monotonous repetition. The group’s resident rapper, Amber, is solid – my personal favorite in the group. The rest of the album has a number of well-made tracks, spanning a variety of sounds. This is mainstream pop for sure, but there’s enough of a original spin on the delivery that f(x) establishes themselves as a hip “alternative” mainstream band. Think along the lines of a more quirky Girls Generation if you’re looking for a more direct comparison.

As far as what’s the best single to pull from the album if you aren’t ready to commit to a full album purchase… it’s actually a tough call. Obviously, “Red Light” is the record-slaying summer hit. It’s catchy and rhythmic, and if you are particularly new to K-Pop, it’s a very accessible song. My personal favorite is perhaps the most thematically quirky song, “Dracula” (yes, like the vampire.) It might be more suited for a Halloween party than casual listening, but this thing is one part quirky charm, one part mega catchy. It’s sharp sound, filled with a blend of staccato lyrics and smooth harmony is borderline addictive. Amber delivers a noteworthy performance with her verses between the major chorus. It also fits the slightly darker image that f(x) is trying to establish for themselves in the sticky-sweet world of K-Pop.

I highly recommend you give the album a listen on Spotify if you’re on the fence about buying any of f(x)’s music – I promise you’ll be downloading the full album off of iTunes soon enough. That’s what happened to me anyways!

- E.B.