Happy Geek Pride/Towel/etc. Day!
Our pal Larry wonders, "Where's a spaceship when you need one?"
May 25th, 2012
02:01 PM ET

Happy Geek Pride/Towel/etc. Day!

Editor's note: A few years ago, the nerds at CNN.com had to explain to our coworkers what Towel Day was. We helped clear things up on CNN's long-defunct SciTech blog. In commemoration of today, we're bringing back our very informative post. We like to think of it as a "collector's edition."

Romulans, puppeteers, hobbits - lend me your ears! Today, we geeks can gather today and celebrate all that makes us unique.

Worldwide, May 25 is known as Geek Pride Day, Towel Day (for "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" fans like our own No. 42 above) and Glorious 25th of May, for Discworld fans.

Although Geek Pride Day is a relatively new holiday; founded in Spain in 2006, the Inalienable Rights of Geekdom (at least as we see them) that it celebrates are not:

1. The right to strive to be even geekier.
2. The right to not leave your house when there's plenty to entertain you there.
3. The right to not like football or any other sport.
4. The right to freely associate with other nerds.
5. The right to have a few select (inevitably awesome) friends.
6. The right to have a ton of friends - each geekier than the last.
7. The right to not be “in-style.”
8. The right to be overweight/underweight/have poor eyesight and the like.
9. The right to show off your geekiness at all times.
10. The right to take over the world.

Not all geeks will agree with or adhere to all - or in some cases even most - of these rules. Everybody geeks out in their own way; that's the beauty of it.

But we can all agree that being a geek can be a good thing. Why is that?
Well, let’s take a look at a couple of the great things about being a geek:

1. We can always find a game to play no matter what. We are like the MacGyver of games. Give us a pen and paper and we’ll entertain ourselves and others.
2. We look good in glasses. Seriously, we do.
3. We are clever. Who was the one who everyone turned to on "Lost?" The doctor.
4. Speaking of doctors, we have Doctor Who. He’s smart, funny, has a time machine and is one of the biggest geeks in the universe.
5. We can balance a checkbook. Whether we use a computer program, our raw brain power or a good old-fashioned abacus, we will not be overdrawn.

Geek Pride Day is all about looking at the best parts of being a geek, so grab your towel, stick out your thumb and tell us what your plans are - or what you've already done - for Geek Pride Day.

Podcast Spotlight: 'The Tome Show' a deep dive for D&D fans
"The Tome Show" is a Dungeons & Dragons news, reviews and advice podcast.
April 25th, 2012
09:59 AM ET

Podcast Spotlight: 'The Tome Show' a deep dive for D&D fans

Podcasts have become the ancient Alexandrian library for geeks.

Much like in the time of the Egyptian library, you can learn that a new thing exists - game, book, whatever - and find a podcast about it. In just a short time, you can become an expert on that subject, without all those pesky scrolls or weighty books to carry around.

"The Tome Show," is the kind of podcast that plunges fans of Dungeons and Dragons - the grandfather of tabletop role playing games, currently produced by Wizards of the Coast(WotC) - straight into a master-level dissertation. Topics of conversation include news and reviews of the latest D&D products as well as interviews with people from the role-playing game industry and gamers. Advice to players and Dungeon Masters is a signature part of "The Tome Show."

The hosts call it “a podcast by D&D fans, for D&D fans,” and it's one of the longest-running Dungeons & Dragons podcasts out there.

Jeff Greiner was the lone host of the show when it launched in October 2006. Sometimes-guest Tracy Hurley, a regular on D&D-related podcast, "4geeks4e" and the "DM Round Table", became a full time co-host in January, 2011. Rumor has it Greiner is paying her in Skittles.

Greiner picked up podcasting as a teacher in Omaha, Nebraska. The school where he worked had a strong working relationship with Apple and he was encouraged to learn and play with the company's podcasting technology.

After months of looking for an online D&D show, his fruitless search led him to start his own. "The Tome Show" was born. FULL POST

Why the U.S. might never catch on to the next big rhythm games
Nintendo's "Rhythm Heaven Fever" was released in the United States, but many popular Japanese rhythm games aren't.
April 20th, 2012
03:29 PM ET

Why the U.S. might never catch on to the next big rhythm games

This week, a Japanese game company announced it is making "AKB48+Me," which features the enormously big-in-Japan all-girl pop group AKB48, and gives the player a chance to rock out right alongside them - as a member.

It's meltdown-worthy for fans of J-pop, but "idol simulation" is just the latest in the long line of games that bring together music and motion - and never made it to the United States.

It's not unusual to find plastic guitars and drums in American living rooms these days. "Rock Band" is massively popular with gamers and nongamers alike, and Nintendo of America recently made a move to localize several entries in its "Rhythm Heaven" series, which has been a beloved franchise in Japan for years. But so far, its 2 million in sales doesn't quite compare to the 75 million in Japan.

American gamers have gotten pretty good at jamming Metallica and Van Halen, but when a Japanese gamer goes into the zone while playing an arcade rhythm game, there are flying hands and speeds that seem beyond human capability.

The truth is that rhythm games were born in Japan, and evolved a bit differently in the United States.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Master User • Otaku
'Mass Effect,' indeed: How one game changed the industry forever
Command Shepard pursues his destiny in popular sci-fi videogame series "Mass Effect 3."
April 5th, 2012
01:03 PM ET

'Mass Effect,' indeed: How one game changed the industry forever

Editor's Note: Colette Bennett is CNN Geek Out's main Otaku writer. She has written for several gaming blogs, including Kotaku, Destructoid, Gamasutra, GamesRadar, Touch Arcade and GameSugar. She also runs a personal blog on gaming, which can be found at blowinthegameslot.blogspot.com.

Today, the gaming industry was permanently changed by a single step, proving that fans, if they voice enough dissent, have the power to change the ending of a published game.

BioWare, a subsidiary of gaming powerhouse publisher EA and creator of the popular "Mass Effect" series, announced today that it will release an "Extended Cut" version of the final installment in the series, "Mass Effect 3." Normally, that wouldn't be news, as downloadable content for released games has become somewhat of an industry standard.

However, the voices of displeased fans are what drove this decision.

Shortly after its release, people who faithfully played every title in the series started to complain that the ending was a disappointment.  The heart of the dissent settled around the sentiment that it strayed from a key feature of the previous installments in the series: that they had challenged players to make carefully crafted decisions that seemed to closely affect the direction each person's game took. But in the end, those decisions were for naught.

A recent survey found that 58% of the fans who played "Mass Effect 3" hated the game's conclusion.

"It made me, the player, irrelevant," says devoted series fan Ian Hoopes.

"I played more than 100 hours of a video game series that went through ups and downs," Hoopes explains. "I developed huge attachments to characters, especially Garrus and Tali, and I valued their feelings and opinions, which I felt were truly developed. In my experience playing the game - over 100 hours spent on "Mass Effect 3" and five additional years of "Mass Effect" gaming – the ending tried to distill the entire journey into three rigid, ambiguous decisions that made me feel left out in the cold."

FULL POST

Opening day reaction to 'The Art of Video Games'
Visitors at "the Art of Video Games" exhibit at the Smithsonian American Museum of Art.
March 19th, 2012
06:24 PM ET

Opening day reaction to 'The Art of Video Games'

Bringing video games into an art museum would be considered an ambitious undertaking in years past, but visitors to the Smithsonian opening of “The Art of Video Games” say it isn’t surprising at all.

The new exhibition explores 40 years of video games as art through interactive games people can actually play, pieces of gaming memorabilia and dynamic visual displays that highlight the artistic work done by developers. It is the first such exhibit to appear in a major museum, and visitors of all ages came away from its opening day with feelings of nostalgia.

Groups of family members – parents and children, grandparents and grandkids – marveled at the exhibit, and each took away something different.

“I thought it was pretty neat to watch the evolution of games,” said Kim, a mother from Columbus, Ohio. “I grew up playing 'Frogger' on the Atari but got away from games until my son started playing.”

“I thought it was amazing,” said Jimmy, a 21-year-old from southern Maryland. “I thought it showed the great history and beauty of video games. People will be able to come to the Smithsonian and still learn about video games and see the beauty in them.” FULL POST

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