Sunday, September 28, 2014

Weekly update 9/28 - 10/4

I'm going to start doing a weekly update on my blog here to keep people updated with what I'm doing.

I'll start by wishing my friends and family in the US, Israel and all over the world a happy and sweet year. L'shanah tovah! Sorry it's late. :)

Harps and Crafts is going to see a small change. I am going to focus more on tutorials utilizing the Vine app to help things along. Why? Because it's something new that I've not seen done before and I want to try it! I know Vine won't last forever. I'll need to find a more sustainable way to do it. I have some ideas for that.

I am going to start a new project that will begin on my Twitch channel and move on to the YouTube channel. I care a lot about the ESRB ratings and the lack of education for parents. I am going to start a small project called "Is _ for kids?" Where I will be streaming games and exploring the kid-friendly aspect of each game. During the live stream, I welcome anyone to ask questions. Especially parents! The videos will be made available on YouTube for parents to see.

I am still working with Soma Games on the re-make of "G". Soma Games is busy behind the scenes in the development process. I'll keep you updated once I know when the game is being released.

Monday, September 8, 2014

#GamerGate is over. Everyone go back to bed.

#GamerGate is over, some people are saying. Long live the movement that 4Chan began. The laughs were had. Everyone is going back to shitposting and playing video games again. #GamerGate was over three days ago. The last of us are reaching and clawing to see a hashtag stay alive because we just want one more laugh. Right? Not even close, Sparky.

I give you this to think about. Not too long ago, there were multiple articles written that cried the end of "gamers" and the end of our identity as a "gamer". Those article were enough to cause a slew of gamers to get angry. Angry at the websites who published it and angry at the writers who wrote it.

Suddenly, information started to spread. This information went beyond 4Chan. Twitter, Reddit and even Tumblr got involved. We learned many of these writers are bullies. Many of them don't like the audience they write for. They lash out, they threaten devs and they give their friends preference over others. Indie devs spoke out and were blacklisted. Freelance writers spoke out and were blacklisted. There was a huge call out for large gaming websites to make a change or face a boycott from the supporters. Included in that website list are Kotaku, Destructoid, Gamasutra and Polygon. The Escapist is still on the "boycott" list for many but after today's change in policy and editorial, many of us feel that they got the point.

This all happened after gamers were declared "dead". And the gamers showed the website that we were not dead. We are your consumers and we will speak with our wallets.

The #GamerGate hashtag is a place for us to discuss, talk and share information on Twitter. That hastag can go away tomorrow. We can never use it again. That will not change anything. Because we have enough people to bring in 4.5K tweets in the past two hours. And over 440K tweets in the last 30 days. That is a very loud voice. And that's a voice that's not going away just because a hashtag dies.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Blogging about video games is fun.

Over the past few weeks, I have managed to get a very good format going for Harps and Crafts. Posts and videos have been doing really well and I am stoked that I have people who want to create with me. I've gotten the whole "one video and post a week" thing down to a science! But, Harps and Crafts isn't the only thing that I like doing. It's not the only thing that I do.

As you know, I will be working with Soma Games again. While I don't use voice over as a main source of income, it's something that I do when the opportunity arises. Yes, Star Force 7 is coming. Soon. We'll make that a game industry "soon".

Speaking of game industry. I used to blog about video games. Once upon a time, I was able to write a couple of articles for PC Gamer magazine. I quit. I quit because there's a lot of freaking drama in that mess. Fans are crazy. The politics suck and people treat freelancers like crap.

As an aside, freelancers are treated like crap no matter where you go. I have done freelance writing about Health and Beauty, Parenting and Lifestyle categories. I've experienced the same treatment there. I wrote that because the #GamerGate cause is pretty riled up right now and I don't want my words to be used as ammo when this is just part of being a freelancer in a lot of industries.

I was always a blogger. I was a blogger before that was a big thing. Back in the days of dial up (seriously), I had a "webzine" for the gothic/industrial subculture. Back then, we didn't call it blogging but that's what we were doing. I have always enjoyed writing on my schedule and writing what I wanted to write about.

When you're a freelance writer, you create the content you're asked to create. Sometimes, your ideas can be used. Sometimes, you get lucky and get to write your own article. Most of the time, there's a specific article the client wants and that's what you write. It's still not a bad gig. You can still really enjoy it. There's a chance to meet a lot of cool people, open discussions on good subjects and it's nice extra money if you keep up good work and good exposure.

But, I still missed just plain old blogging and writing fun stuff. That's one reason I opened Harps and Crafts. It's also the reason why I will be blogging again, but not here. I am quite pleased that Junkies Nation and Games Nosh have both taken me on as a contributor. I'll be able to talk freely about video games and enjoy my hobby while contributing to two very cool gaming sites. Both sites have their own flavor and I hope I can mesh my flavor of writing and gaming along with it.

What does this change? Nada. Still doing Harps and Crafts. Still doing DIY stuff. Still playing video games. I'll just be blogging a bit more now.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Working with Soma Games again

A few years ago, I made my first game by voicing the narrator for Soma Games mobile hit "G". Since then, I have moved through other projects , but I have continued to keep in touch with the Soma Games team.  They have announced some amazing projects (like Redwall omigosh!) and I am stoked to announce I'll be working with them again.

"G" is being made into "G Prime" and the game will find itself on a much larger scale than mobile platforms. I will be playing the narrator once again. I can't go too into detail but I can say that I'll be telling you quite the story as you play through  the game.

And one "G Prime" is released, I'll let you know more info!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

5 Activities to do with a young reader

My Step-daughter is a big reader. I love that about her! Still, I wanted to get involved past the point of "Tell me about your book?" Or "Will you read this to/with me?" I checked online and most of the resources focused on getting a young reader to read. She doesn't need any encouragement to read. She does that on her own! I wanted to find some creative ways to keep her engaged in books and engaged with us as well.

Thanks to some advice, here are some things we came up with.

1. A local "trip" based on the book. Maybe the latest book was about a girl working on a farm for the Summer. If there's a local farm nearby, take a trip. Talk about the things you see and how they showed up in the book. Compare characters and real life situations. Or, if the book was about a historic event maybe you can take a trip to the museum and talk about the real events surrounding the book.

2. Crafting the book! This is probably my favorite. My Step-daughter is becoming a fan of fantasy fiction. Her latest book was about a silly candy fairy. Obviously, we need to make a house for a candy fairy! No matter what the book is, think of a craft or something you can make to represent the book. It could be a favorite character or event in the book. Get creative!

3. Make some book marks! A lot of kids read on things like the Kindle and iPad these days. That's OK. Sometime down the road, they will read a book where pages need to be turned. Getting together and making book marks is a pretty neat activity. They can even go a step further and make book marks based on their current favorites.

4. Watch the book and talk about it. Did the book become a movie? Great! Grab the movie on Netflix and watch it together. Get some snacks and make a movie evening out of it. Once the movie is done, take a few minutes to talk about the movie versus the book. Did something change in the movie? Do you think the characters were what you imagined they would be? Get some discussion going!

5. Start a book club. Maybe the "book club" is just the two of you. Maybe some friends are involved as well. Either way, starting a book club together would be a blast. Make up a special sign for your book club and hang it on the door when the club is in session. Come up with a schedule for the "club". Pick out the book(s) you will read and how much you read each week/day.

How ULTA lost and gained me back as a customer

In July, I made an order with ULTA.  During this two week long issue with ULTA, they managed to lose my business and gain it back. How did that happen? With a very attentive representative named Sarah who lost the corporate speak and actually paid attention to me.

I won't go into detail on the issue. I will tell you that I went through three different representatives. Two via email and one on the phone. One of them didn't know where I lived, the other didn't understand the refund policy and gave me wrong information, the third didn't know what was going on. All three of them gave me different answers and provided no help beyond an "Oh, sorry."

Then came Sarah. Sarah is a representative with ULTA who was smart enough to do a few things right. Frankly, if companies took this stance more often you would be far better off.

Sarah dropped the corporate speak. She was professional and still articulate, but she dropped corporate speak. Sarah connected with me on a more personal level. She knew I was angry. She would be angry too! Hey, look at that! My feelings are validated! As a customer, that goes a really long way.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Summer is least for the kids

It's August already? The kids are back in school? Wow. How did that happen?

My Summer has been a very quiet Summer this year. Most of it was spent without the kiddos which made things far too quiet around the house. That's O.K. Both of them had a blast seeing family members, going to camp and having their first plane ride.

This Summer was also a few large changes for me. I continued blogging and writing. Something I have been doing for the last 12 years in one way or another. I also started to focus on expanding that into more content creation with my YouTube channel. The channel is starting to pick up steam and I have been learning more about promoting and keeping content fresh.

I've also gotten a little addicted to getting deep into analytics on YouTube and analyzing that data. No, I'm not any professional analyst. I have just learned some basics. It's become almost like a hobby for me.

Voice overs still remain a "thing" for me. While I don't actively pursue every job I see, I still do voice overs. In fact, I will be announcing a new project soon. I'm pretty stoked about it.

How was your Summer? Are you ready for school to start? Are you ready for the Fall to be here?