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Video Game Charities to Help Children

I hate news.  I try to avoid watching the news on TV and keep up with most things simply by glancing over the headlines on yahoo.com.  Yes, I want to be informed, but at the same time I’m the kind of person who will remember a disturbing picture or story for years.

Some things of course are simply hard to just pass over, like what happened in Boston yesterday.  It’s saddening and infuriating and frustrating that something like that could happen, and that a child was one of the people who died.  I work with children every week, and children hold a very special place in my heart.  I know lots of little 8 year olds. My friend has an 8 year old daughter who runs and jumps into my arms every time she sees me.  To think that she could have been killed…it’s horrible and sobering.  And then a facebook friend posted this picture:

Thank you, Mr. Rogers.

So, we move forwards, and we help.  There will always be crazy bad people in the world who do bad things, but there will also be helpers.  I want to be a helper.  My BF had recently told me about a children’s charity for video gamers, so I looked it and a few others up.  Gamers, here’s how you can be a helper!

Extra Life Charity (My BF is doing this! If you would like to help sponsor him, you can here.)

From their website: “For the last four years, thousands of gamers have joined together annually to play for 24 hours for Extra Life – a gaming marathon in support of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals®. Gamers rally friends and family members to sponsor their play. The funds they raise go to help save and improve the lives of kids at the CMN Hospital in their community.

Since 2008, our incredible players have raised more than 4 million dollars, and this year, on November 2nd, 2013 we believe they will outdo themselves yet again.

We’d like YOU to join our lifesaving fight.”

Child’s Play Charity

From their website: “Since 2003, we’ve set up and organized Child’s Play, a game industry charity dedicated to improving the lives of children with toys and games in our network of over 70 hospitals worldwide. Over the years, you as a community have answered the call and come together to raise millions of dollars.

Child’s Play works in two ways. With the help of hospital staff, we set up gift wish lists full of video games, toys, books, and other fun stuff for kids. By clicking on a hospital location on our map, you can view that hospital’s wish list and send a gift.

Child’s Play also receives cash donations throughout the year. With those cash donations, we purchase new consoles, peripherals, games, and more for hospitals and therapy facilities. These donations allow for children to enjoy age-appropriate entertainment, interact with their peers, friends, and family, and can provide vital distraction from an otherwise generally unpleasant experience.”

Get Well Gamers Charity

From their website: “The Get-Well Gamers Foundation was founded in 2001 with the goal of bringing video game systems and games to children’s hospitals. Video games are an effective and proven pain management tool and provide needed entertainment during long hospital stays.

The Foundation currently serves dozens of children’s hospitals across the U.S. in an ever-expanding donation network that has already brought much-needed entertainment to hundreds of thousands of children each year. The Foundation services all kinds of hospitals, from small local facilities to larger regional medical centers. Although some of these hospitals are on the cutting edge of medical research, all too often their pediatrics units are lacking for entertainment options. The Foundation seeks to fill these gaps by providing hospitals with free video games, systems, and accessories.”

If everyone took even just one day of their week to be a ‘helper’ in some way, imagine what a wonderful place the world would be!

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Stars make you invincible!

Luigi scores?? 0.0

Luigi scores?? 0.0

Time for a 3DS…

So you may know that I’ve been very happy with my first gen pearl pink DS that I’ve had for…like 7 years (my god, has it been that long???).  The new DS versions have never tempted me and I have been content playing my chunky old school DS.  But now the time has come to get a 3DS and I have two very good reasons why:

1. They now come in pearl pink.

2. Harvest Moon: A New Beginning (only for 3DS) was released on the 6th.

Seeing as I had a crazed Harvest Moon fan moment and PRE-ORDERED the game already (it was just shipped and will be here any day!) I now need a 3DS.  This is when having a gamer boyfriend at during the biggest gift-giving time of year comes in handy <3

So, seeing as I’ll be getting a 3DS pretty soon one way or another, I’ve been browsing what else it has to offer.  And wow, there are tons of games for it now!  Last time I browsed 3DS games it was last Christmas when I pre-ordered Paper Mario: Sticker Star and Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon for my BF’s Christmas gifts (all of you who also pre-ordered them can laugh along with me at the fact that neither of these games have YET to be released even a year later! Seriously, WTH Nintendo?)

One of the 3DS features I’m most excited about is being able to download older gameboy games to it!  That is super cool, and I’m hoping to get to play a lot of old games I don’t have the consoles for anymore.

And I’ll finally be able to get some of those cute accessories that don’t work with my chunky first gen DS, like the Princess Peach Case!

Is that the cutest DS case or what? ;)

 

The Heart Of Video Games

(This post is dedicated to someone very special – my thoughts on why video games are and always will be worthwhile)

My very earliest memory of video games goes way, way back to about the time I was maybe four years old.  My parents had a large conversion van that had the luxury (the time being the early 90s) of having a TV installed in the roof for the back seat passengers to see. For reasons unknown to me, (maybe as  an attempt to keep me and my sister occupied on the long trips to see my grandparents) my parents hooked the TV up to a SNES console.  I can barely remember it at all except that I remember playing what I think was the only game we had for it – a game where you controlled a fighter and fought your way down street after street, knocking out bad guys.  I’m not 100% sure but I suspect that the game was called Street Fighter ll, an immensely popular game of the time.

My second game memory comes from the largest vacation my family has ever taken, back in 1998 when I was eight years old.  We stopped at a large fancy hotel and they had a video game system in the room.  I wasn’t, however, too interested in the little blue hedgehog running around the screen collecting rings and left my dad and brothers to play it, preferring to watch Brady Bunch reruns in the next room with my mom (sorry Sega!).

And then comes my first important video game memory of Christmas 2000 when we received our first real video game console, the lovely, wonderful, fantastic N64 when I was 10.  That aqua blue contraption started the influence of video games in our lives.  My siblings and I did everything together so it was natural that we did video games together as well.  We had classics such as Donkey Kong, Kirby Crystal Shards and Banjo & Tooie and despite the fact these were platformer games, we played them co-op, each night getting comfy on the lower bunk of my brothers blue bunk-bed that the TV had been set up to face as we took turns controlling the character on the screen.  If we weren’t playing tag-team platformers, we would put in a multi-player racing game or the mini games on Kirby (we loved those!). I can clearly remember those nights, and how some even included root beer floats and bags of Goldfish crackers (a favorite video game night snack for us).  We played that way for nearly three years.

 As time went by more video game consoles entered our house.  First a PS1 for which we had many more games than our N64, but for some reason we never played those games together like we did the N64 – though I did get plenty of game time in by myself playing games such as Disney’s Mulan, Barbie’s Winter Sports, Angelica’s Dress Up and (my fav) Harvest Moon Back to Nature.  The PS1 was eventually followed by a PS2, a console for which I personally don’t think any games of any importance were made – even Harvest Moon Save the Homeland was a flop.  After the PS2 came the Xbox when I was about 14 years old – another console that didn’t offer me much in the way of interesting games, but my sister discovered Knights of the Old Republic and fell in love.  For several months, each evening was spent with my siblings and I on the couch as Jen played the game (with our helpful input and suggestions of course).  The game was wonderfully made and despite the fact that Jen was the one officially playing the game, the rest of us had just as good of a time watching because the game was practically a movie with all the cut scenes, options and storyline.  And the ending was fantastic!  It was the first time since the N64 that all four of us had come together in such a way to play a game.

 Then came the Game Cube. I didn’t even know it existed until my little brothers came out of Gamestop proudly holding a purple console and a game called Lugi’s Mansion.  At first, I wasn’t that interested – after all, nothing that good had been on the PS2 or Xbox – but then I realized that just like the N64, the Game Cube had my kind of games on it.  I played through a great part of Lugi’s Mansion and an even greater part of Animal Crossing, and later Harvest Moon: Magical Melody.  But I also started to fall into a role of being what I like to call a “Back Seat Player”.  The people with the most interest in video games turned out to be me and my youngest brother and we ended up spending many hours on the couch together as I helped him play games such as Super Mario Sunshine, Mario Paper and Harvest Moon: Wonderful Life.  To date that was the best quality time I’ve ever been able to spend with my baby brother, who is five years younger than me.  Eventually, my brother’s interest in console video games waned, helped along by his interest in World War ll and a certain game known as COD.  I was 16 years old at the time.

COD however, turned out to have some interesting family value as well.  My brother convinced the entire family to play a game together and soon a ‘few rounds of COD’ became a nightly occurrence in my house.  We would shower and get in our Pjs, then I would serve up whatever dessert I had made earlier and we would get ready at our desks, our teamspeak headphones on as we battled our way across Europe.  I was a poor machine gunner and overall probably a poor fighter, but I was wicked good with a  sniper rifle!  Over time, another game, Age of Empires was added to our family nighttime gaming rounds.  This game was quieter and more peaceful, but ultimately ended up with somebody razing somebody else’s city.

Over time, the nightly games of COD and AGEs faded out, but like the video game traditions before them, another came to take it’s place: this time it was a new console called a Wii and the game was called Mario Kart.  My parents both adored this game and each evening was spent running through Mii-populated malls and throwing banana peels at each other.  My mother favored the Baby Peach character and I the Rosalina one.  My brothers switched often but Bowser and Mario often joined our races.  My dad, more often than not, was Yoshi. Mario Kart wasn’t the only Wii game that saw a lot of use, of course, but it was certainly a fav.

And finally, that brings us to today.  My family is now busier than we used to be and many things have changed.  My sister moved out, and work takes up a lot of our time.  But my brothers still like to play a few rounds of COD or Portal on their lunch breaks, and I’ve found a new gaming love called Webkinz.  But that the old home console still sees the light of day.  On our living room TV stand is a PS3 that was last played maybe a year ago and now lives only to serve as a DVD player.  But a Wii and a N64 (yes, a N64!) sit beside it and I now keep them running.  My greatest video game love has and probably always will be the Harvest Moon series and I have the goal of playing each game in order.  I’ve still got a long way to go, but most evenings find me on the couch working my way through another crop or wooing.  My family enjoys my gaming and the tranquil farming music is often our background at dinner time.  My mom’s favorite part of the day is settling on the couch beside me, coffee in hand and watching me go about my farming.  She tells me it’s calming and a nice way to end her day.  More often than not my dad will join us.  I suppose in the busy, stressful pace we live our lives now my folks being able to slow down and watch peaceful game play is restful.  I’m sure they also get a chuckle out of seeing their daughter, nearly 22 years old now, with my pink note binder in my lap, carefully marking down crop notes and other important game facts.

Many people consider ‘gamers’ to be people who play MMORPGs or other expensive, often violent games, who are almost always male and usually reclusive and nerdy.  And for many people, that is what they see when they see a video game console.  But I don’t think that’s what keeps the video game industry alive.  What keeps the industry alive is people like me, people with warm fuzzy memories of playing their first game in a booster seat in the family van, or of laying on the bottom bunk while you fought your brother for first place in Mickey’s Speedway, or spending hours of cooperative play with your siblings to save the day and princess.  As time goes by and technology grows at an alarming rate, video game makers scramble to get the best graphics, the best sound track, the best whistles and bells and whatever else will make their game ‘be the best’ while stealing plots and stories from books and movies and best selling games from the 90s.  The best isn’t about looks or pretty packaging.  It’s creating an experience that players cannot get from watching a movie or reading a book or even playing a board game.  And it is delivering that experience in such a way that people will still be replaying it decades from now.  And making it something that people can enjoy together!  I’ve logged in hundreds of hours of solo video game playing but the ones I remember are the times I played with my family.  And most of those games were ones that were only for one player, but the family still gathered to ‘help’ play it.  Games have, and always will be, a social thing.  The ‘gamers’ who play by themselves in their dark basements are still playing with others though they might be miles away.  Despite popular belief, there is nothing reclusive or solitary about the all mighty video game.

Really cool stuff for the Nintendo DS

As my sister’s birthday is coming up, I’ve been shopping around for gifts, and it looks like the family is going to pitch in to get her a DSi or DS Lite.  She had a DS way back when it first came out but sold it years ago – now that she’s working that school in Alaska though she has lots of hours of free time (she guards a stairway, not much to do) so hopefully she’ll get some use out of a DS now! While browsing I found some of the coolest things for the DS – so here’s my DS dream shopping list:

Star Wars Light Saber Styluses.

I seriously want! >~< It’s a light saber, it’s a stylus – how can it get any better? (Okay, it can get better, there are light saber stylus that LIGHT UP!!)

Pikachu Charge Stand for DSi and DSi XL.

As I have a first gen DS this is useless to me but I want it anyway, lol.

Pink Peach Nintendo DS Lite Tin Starter Kit.

Okay, so once again I don’t have the DS type this was made for – why are all the cute things made for the newer DS’s? T_T (This also comes in Stars & Mushrooms and Mario!)

Nintendo 3DS – Limited Edition with The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time 3D

No, I am not planning on upgrading to the 3DS anytime soon.  But this. Is. Awesome.

Nintendo DS Limited Edition Pokemon Pack

No, I’m still not planning in upgrading anytime soon. Yes, this is also awesome *0*

Hello Kitty DSi Vinyl Game Skin

WHY IS THIS NOT MADE FOR MY DS??? D:

Star Wars R2-D2 Vinyl Game Skin

No, this doesn’t fit my DS either…*sighs*

Rainbow Stylus Pack for DS

My reaction to these styluses.

Doctor Who Sonic Screwdriver Styluses

Confession – I haven’t actually watched Dr. Who (yet).  But I would still waste money on these ._.

Doctor Who Zip Case – The Tardis for DSi, DS Lite

And if you liked the stylus, why not get a case to go with it?

Nintendo Official and LEGO Game Cases for DS

These are just…epic.

Dsi Buzz Lightyear Starter Kit

The five year old in me wants this, lol!

DS Nintendo Character Kit – Mario Case and Stylus for DS Lite and DSi

Can this be any cooler? *o*

Too many DS games and never enough time

Yup, this is the DS I have - originally bought for me as a Christmas gift from my siblings :)

Everyday, I carry around a rather large tote bag in place of a regular purse to work.  Mainly because all my junk won’t fit into anything but a big (custom sewn by moi) tote.  And everyday, back and forth, I drag along my DS and game case.  The last time I played it? About two months ago.  I don’t know why I keep bringing it back and forth – visions of somehow being stranded on a deserted island and finally having hours upon hours to waste with my pearl-pink Nintendogs special edition first gen DS have floated through my mind on more than one occasion.  But until that happens, I’ll just keep playing my games in small patches with months in between powering it up.  The problem is not only that I don’t have enough time, but that there are too many games!  It would be easier to make time if I just had one game I wanted to finish; but no, there are at least half a dozen I’m working on, and more on my must-play list.  How do you make time for all that? Playing the games for fun actually starts to become work, lol.

Games on my need-to-finish list include Lost in Blue 2 (I’m like, literally one cutscene away from finishing it though), Pokemon Diamond, Professer Layton and the Diabolical Box, Trauma Center Under the Knife, Harvest Moon a Tale of Two Towns and The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (Oh wow, there really were exactly half a dozen, lol).  All these games have at least several hours each already clocked in.  I’m 3/4s done with Professer Layton so that may be the one I tackle next after Lost in Blue, but I really want to spend more time on Harvest Moon a Tale of Two Towns – I’ve hardly even started it, and it’s the best Harvest Moon game for a hand held yet.

And then there are plenty of more games that I’ve only ‘tried out’ so far, such as Lost in Blue 3, Sims 2, Elite Beat Agents, ScribbleNauts, and games I haven’t even put in my DS yet such as Mario and Luigi Partners in Time, Professor Layton: Unwound Future, Magical Star Sign, and Super Mario DS.

These are only the games I actually have, I have an entire wish list of more games I want to get!  I have a tendency to get DS games more than any other type of game (Though I do play quite a bit of Wii and PC games).  I don’t know why, maybe because they’re just so small and convenient but just as entertaining as games for larger consoles.  I buy DS games like regular girls by shoes, lol.

And let’s not even get started on the PC and Wii games I have building up…

Mini Super Mario 1-Up Mushroom, crocheted just for fun :)

While on a long car trip I brought along my hook and yarn and made this little guy.  I didn’t follow a pattern (hence the odd shape to the top of the mushroom) but it was fun to make!  Deciding on what to do with it…keychain?


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