Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Daily (Monkey) Grind

Today's entry is thanks to my boy. One of his latest fascinations is Nickelodeon's MMO "MonkeyQuest". He received a membership for his Christmas. He had been playing it for free prior to this. As with many MMOs, there are several tasks participants can do daily. My son decided to make a list of the things he could do, complete with Kirby illustrations. I'm not sure what Kirby has to do with monkeys, but there they are.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Skylanders as Sweetie Pies

Today's art sample is also from my daughter. Both of the kids received a lot of Skylander figures for Christmas. The main villain appears to the world as a giant floating head but is actually a weaselly egomaniac. My girl "chibi-ized" the Skylanders for the purpose of this drawing. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Some final fan work from 2011 - Angry Birds

I was doing some cleaning over the holidays and that included tackling the big pile of paper my kids doodle and write on to sort it. Some get recycled, some get put in their portfolios, and a select few get scanned and posted here before going in the portfolio. The next month or so will be daily scan shares. (I love Blogger's advanced posting feature - this means I can pre-write posts during my vacation that will appear all January!)

This piece of art is courtesy of my daughter. My son played Angry Birds on a visiting friend's iPad and he then spend a great deal of time watching Angry Birds videos on YouTube. These are the characters they've encountered.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

How do you choose?

Our family friend who games with us regularly is trying to arrange a time so he can come visit and we can all play. The big question is: what do we play? He loves Risk Legacy. Here are some photos from our last adventure.

We got to crack open a secret section now that we used all minor cities!
The board at the end. D won this time!
Having considered that, both families also received some great games for Christmas. D (our family friend) got Last Night On Earth, a cool zombie game that I wanted to buy my husband but couldn't find in the stores. So, do we do the tried and true, or tackle something new and different? Hubby will be chatting with buddy while they play Star Wars: The Old Republic online together (a fantastic MMO) so they'll probably decide then.

P.S. Hubby bought me the card game Spot It today while we were gallivanting about. Between that, Minecraft and reading my James Paul Gee book on video games, I'll have plenty to keep me occupied!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Have a Playful Holiday!

Merry Christmas everyone! Games of all shapes and sizes seemed to be the gift of choice this year. Some of the games our family members received as presents this year were:
  • King of Tokyo
  • Pandemic
  • Incan Gold
  • Forbidden Island
  • Arkham Horror
  • Skylanders
  • Donkey Kong Country Returns
The kids spent a lot of Christmas Day playing Skylanders together. It's a clever game both from the marketing perspective and the game play options. Between the two of them, they already have 13 figures and are itching to spend their Toys R Us gift cards to obtain more.

The game play didn't end when we went to my parents' house for Christmas dinner. Everyone there either watched or played my brother's interactive party game on the X-box, "Start the Party". It was silly and fun and a great way to get people from different generations to have fun together. May your holiday be just as playful and fun!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Risk Legacy

Yesterday, we went to my husband's friend's house to visit and to play Risk Legacy. The four of us (my husband, our daughter, my husband's friend, and I) were playing some role-playing games together (Labyrinth Lord) but that has petered out a bit and in its place, we've been playing board games. We used Risk Godstorm and then used Risk 2210. Our friend bought Risk Legacy for himself and this is the second time we've played.

Risk Legacy is very different from other Risk games. The goal each game is to earn four stars. You earn a star by taking someone else's headquarters, holding headquarters, or turning in four coin cards. In "regular" Risk, you win by taking over the world. In our first two Risk Legacy campaigns, there were many territories that no one touched, which was very odd to see. The unique part of Risk Legacy is that what happens in previous games affects current and future games. For instance, players write on the board. They sign a special spot when they win a game. They have the ability to found cities and rename continents. My husband's friend got pretty annoyed when I won the first game and decided to rename Australia "Womania". (I admit, it was a pretty lame name, but my defense is that I was ill with a cold while playing the game and not thinking straight.) You "unlock" new rules, cards and pieces when you get to certain stages. You play factions, which gives you certain advantages. I'll try and take a photo of the board the next time we play, to show how different it looks. Another reviewer talks about Risk Legacy here, and the popularity ranking on this site gives it a 8/10. For me, it took some getting used to but everyone else seems to be enjoying it a lot.  Prior winners get a missile instead of a free star at the beginning, making it harder to win twice in a row. Despite this handicap, I was doing quite well until the men ganged up on me to ensure that my daughter won instead of me - they didn't want me christening another continent with a tacky name!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Other Family Tales of Gaming Experiences

Today I met with my Gaming Educators PLC members as part of my self-directed learning for the union's "Federation Day". We learned a lot from each other but we especially appreciated the stories told by one of our members about her family's gaming adventures. She is the eldest of three children and everyone in their family, including her parents, are avid gamers. They've been doing this for a very long time. We encouraged my friend to share some of these stories and I offered this blog as a place for her to tell the tales. I hope she takes me up on the offer and occasionally posts here. You'll be educated and entertained by her anecdotes (but no pressure D!)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Inventing our own games

A short time ago on Twitter, Melanie McBride asked people to mention moments of play that they were involved with that were not related to organized sports or computer games. I replied with the tweet below as well as a short description of "The Snuggy Pillow Is Mine".

melanie mcbride
RT I in many ways eg w/ kids Nerf swords & board games, w/ hubby when I wash car windows (long "clean" story), w/ family-
The "Snuggy Pillow" game is a lot like Capture the Flag except it involves a lot more wrestling and centers around a well-liked smushy pillow. My husband, son and I were playing it yesterday when my son decided to put a new spin on it by hiding it under pillows and adding extra treasure. Here's a photo of his set-up.
Today the boy and I played a new game that he invented on his own - indoor sledding. He discovered that the sleeping bag that he's been using is slippery enough on the outside that he can propel himself down the stairs inside it and it slides well. His only complaint is that even though he puts pillows inside the sleeping bag, sliding multiple times down the stairs makes his butt sore. In fact, I was just interrupted from composing this blog post to examine the sign up list for the Kirby Rollercoaster (his name for indoor sledding). We had to put our names down on the list for the chance to ride and we got prizes when the ride ended. The boy's sister and I tried it out and my husband chose to merely watch. After doing it twice (with him sitting on my lap each time), I'm not keen to repeat the voyage, but he loves it and is busy drawing signs for his ride. We are game inventors here!

P.S. Our boy has decided to sleep in a sleeping bag in front of the Christmas tree because he can't wait for Christmas to get here. *shrugs*

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Others do it too!

Read this blog today if you want to see the possibilities of games in schools in a way that respects gaming.

I am honoured to be acquainted with this fine fellow behind the wonderful blog post - along with another educator, the three of us have been playing Minecraft together and planning to start Minecraft Clubs at our schools. My students are gung-ho about the idea. The day after I tweeted a reference to the club, no less than five kids approached me in the halls to ask if the rumor of a school Minecraft Club was true or not. Our school club hasn't even started yet and the thinking has already begun. All I've done so far is collect a list of names of interested students and updated my school's video drivers. Two students made a Minecraft test to help "weed out" "less dedicated" players. Their theory was that we shouldn't "waste our time" on players that aren't "serious" or will quit. I confessed to them that I would fail their Minecraft test.

"Maybe we should make an easier test?" they suggested.

I told them that I didn't want to penalize anyone who hadn't played the game before. I reassured them that I'd consider a fair way of choosing 6 members of my club out of the list of 31 potentials. Maybe I'd pick names randomly out of a hat. Maybe I'd offer it to students who aren't already members of a dozen clubs or teams. I'm not sure how I'll decide, but I'll figure it out. (I should mention that the two boys who created this test, wrote it and printed it out, are "reluctant writers".) I promise I won't turn this blog into my school blog (you can read that, including my Minecraft reflections, here) but the two may intersect.

Friday, December 2, 2011

GamerCamp Highlights

After that run of "retro-pictures", I'm ready to return to current reports of our family's gaming life.

On Sunday, November 27, I attended GamerCamp. This event was very different from the conferences I'm used to attending. I wasn't even 100% sure I was going to go at all. I had an all-day Ontario School Library Association council meeting on Saturday and I really didn't want to be away from my husband and children all weekend. I think it was my fear of being a fraud that forced me to show up - one of my deepest concerns is that I'm not as "good" or knowledgeable as people think I am and I never want to be seen as a poseur. I felt like if I want to delve into gaming seriously, I needed to visit things like this. (Heck, I'm still not confident that I count as a gamer myself, but that's another post for another day.)

My perfect Blokus board (I think I was yellow)
It took me a while to figure out how to enter George Brown College and after paying my entrance fee, I wandered around pretty hesitantly. My peanut allergy prevented me from chowing down at the 8-Bit Cereal Breakfast. I popped in and out of several rooms, quietly observing. I kept returning to the Snakes and Lattes Cafe where board games were spread out for people to try but I was a bit shy about jumping in. (This may surprise people who know me as quite the social extrovert but it was a new experience.) Once some of the Snakes and Lattes folks invited me to play, I settled down and started to really enjoy myself. I played Blokus twice and actually used up all my pieces to win the first round! I took a photo of my winning board. The winner of my second round of Blokus also took a photo of the board when *she* won. I thought I was the only person who did things like that! We also played Anomia and Spot On too. That was a lot of fun.
Playing Spot On - I think that's what it was called

I didn't get to check out any of the talks because I was in the middle of a board game when they were on. The board game room inspired me to do some Christmas shopping but before I left on my retail mission, I decided to attend a session called - I wasn't really clear what it was about but I'm so glad I stayed for it. It was run by a guy who, unbeknownst to me, is one of the people working with my children on the Ryerson University / Privacy Commission of Canada video game project. When I gave him my business card so that maybe we could talk about making an article for the magazine I help run, he said "You're M & P's mom, aren't you?" Ten of us came to play. It was like a live-action role-playing game (although I've never LARPed before, so that's just a guess on my part). We were scientists in Antarctica who were stranded at our base. The parts for the radio for contact with the outside world were strewn beyond our base walls and two "things" were present - they looked like us but they were contaminated and did not want the outside world to come to our aid. The goal of the scientists was to find 12 of the 20 radio parts and bring them back to base without getting infected by the things. The things were trying to infect as many of us as they could and destroy/hide any radio parts they found. There were Nerf guns with "serum" that we could use to neutralize the things only if we shot them in the chest.

The "1-Up Cake" - yummy!
This is how a quiet, shy teacher who knew no one but Jamie Woo, the organizer of GamerCamp, transformed into an intense scientist packing Nerf heat, chasing someone I had just met through the halls of George Brown college, yelling at the top of my lungs "TURN AROUND! TURN AROUND! I KNOW YOU'RE THE THING! PERRY'S THE THING!" Unfortunately, I got tricked. My scientist partner Harold and I were tracking Sandy, the other "thing" when she ran into the women's washroom. Another guy was following Sandy too and he bemoaned the fact that he couldn't follow her in. Since I was the only other female, I volunteered to go in after her. When I turned around to enter the bathroom, I got the tap on my back saying "you're infected" (in the game, you could be infected only if tapped from behind, either directly from a thing or from someone infected by the thing). The game was a lot of fun and when it was done, I was quivering with adrenaline. I wolfed down some cake, even though the servers didn't want me to eat because of my nut allergy, and then went shopping at 401 Games and Snakes and Lattes for board game gifts.

I'm really glad I attended. It was a lot of fun. Big thanks go to all the organizers of GamerCamp

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Wii Sports Finale

This is almost like the final scene to my girl's epic comic on Wii Sports. This is also the end of this run on the blog of old drawings made by my kids. Posts following this one will deal with more current subject matter - the games they (and I) are playing right now, the projects they are involved in that center on gaming, and other related items.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wii Sports Comic Pt 2

Here is the second part of the graphic novelette on Wii Sports, as drawn by my girl.

Part Two Page 1

Part Two Page 2

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Wii Sports Comic Pt 1

I'm breaking with tradition here on the blog a bit by posting two scans in one post. This was a two-part comic story about playing Wii Boxing vs Wii Baseball.
Part One Page 1

Part One Page 2

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Webkinz Marketing

Webkinz was aggressive and relentless in their marketing. It's true that, up until relatively recently, they did not allow any other advertising on their site; however, when it came to advertising their own product, they did it overtly and covertly in as many ways as they could. The opening page was a "newspaper" but it only covered Webkinz-related news, like new toys available. We talked about this with our kids. I don't know how much they understood or retained. This drawing may suggest that those discussions on how Webkinz tries to get us to spend more money may have fallen on deaf ears.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

When the collection could fit on one page...

This is a drawing of our Webkinz collection a long time ago. When we first began playing Webkinz, we decided that all the "pets" would go on one account. The disadvantage was that my son and daughter couldn't play separately from each other, or together with two accounts. Of course, at that time we only had two computers in the house and my husband's was off-limits to them. Now we have four. However, an advantage to our policy is that all our Webkinz resources are compiled together, making us very rich in Webkinz World. I can't even recall how many pets we have logged on.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Webkinz Holidays

Today is a month away from Christmas, but this is a drawing of another holiday celebrated by Webkinz characters - Halloween. During these real-life holidays, the Webkinz website offers all sorts of items to "purchase" with your Webkinz cash that are holiday-themed. We bought many of the costumes, some of which are "collectors items" because they don't come out yearly.
Our home in Webkinz is much tidier and larger than our real house. I never garden in real life but I do it occasionally online. I'm better at it online too - no thorns and better results!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Who are the people in your (Webkinz) neighbourhood?

Webkinz was an online community for my children to play in and their drawings were imaginary riffs on their game playing experiences. The houses and apartments are labeled with the user IDs of their Webkinz friends, some of which they knew in person and others they didn't. We tried to be a lot more cautious back then with adding people to our friends' list.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fire Fawn

One of my daughter's favourite areas on the Webkinz website was the listing of all the various Webkinz you could buy. She's a collector at heart, albeit a choosy one. (For instance, her current obsession with obtaining Monster High dolls only applies to the main line, not the "same dolls in different scenarios" like the prom line or sleepover line.) She really liked the Fire Fawn. We refused to buy it because it was an online only item - we didn't mind buying the toys that came with the codes to activate online because even when she might eventually stop playing Webkinz, at least she'd have the toy. (This is what spurred my husband to commission a drawing done of his World of Warcraft character Jherith, at the height of his power, and paid for a physical copy of it, so he'd have some physical token to remind him of his time with the game.) She understood and agreed with our position but still drew this advertisement.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Webkinz Mystery

My kids used to be intrigued by an object in Webkinz that you received if you bought and logged on additional Webkinz toys. It was a pond with a creature that occasionally peeked out of the depths. I think it was called the Lurker Below - or at least that's what the kids called it. My daughter decided to draw a picture of some of her Webkinz pets investigating this mystery, with a Sherlock-Holmes-attired horse in the lead.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Me and my avatar in Poptropica

It's not me - it's my daughter. She drew a picture of her alongside her Poptropica alter-ego, Maroon Whale. Poptropica generates the character's names on its own - she was young enough at the time to not find the name insulting. It's fascinating to see how my daughter's self-portraits have changed over the years. This was drawn a long time ago. Her illustrated versions of herself have become a lot more "manga-ized" and more detailed.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Webkinz School "Photo"

Looking at these old illustrations reminded me about how much my children enjoyed playing Webkinz. There are tons of these things! This was when the game first introduced the school that you could attend, take classes, and get certificates. Later on, you could pay extra and just get the credit without having to do the work. A comment on the modern education system?
The pets in this class photo are mostly of the ones that my girl and boy owned (we didn't own a lion, if I recall correctly). We also couldn't afford to send all our pets to school so we sent just a couple. Another commentary on education? I didn't realize Webkinz had these ethical dilemmas built in!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Neopet Montage

Here's another long-ago drawing, from a game that my girl no longer plays - Neopet. She stopped playing it because it was too demanding of her time and too hard to maintain the pets. She cried when she thought her "neglect" would cause her unicorn to die, but we showed her that it was just "perpetually unhappy" (and since it wasn't real, that there was no harm in abandoning the game she didn't enjoy playing.)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Mysterious Map

I wish I could say more about this mysterious map that I found in the old file of video game related artwork produced by my kids. I think my son made it with help from my daughter. She can't recall what it was from and he's too busy playing video games with his pal Q to answer my questions.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Old Drawings on File - Club Penguin Pals

As I was flipping through my various file folders, I found one from a presentation on video games I gave ages ago. As part of that talk, I had nearly a dozen drawings done by my kids when they were much younger. I keep their drawings in a portfolio in the garage for posterity, but sharing the game-related ones in this manner means that more people can see and enjoy them. There was only one that my daughter said was "too embarrassing" to post (it was a jointly-made comic with her friends featuring characters from the Littlest Pet Shop online game).
The next few weeks will have these older drawings. This one is of my girl's favourite online friends from Club Penguin.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What can Kirby do - revisitied

Not to be outdone, the boy created his illustrated list, complete with unexplained price tags, for some "ultra powers" for Kirby.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Paper Mario and the Shadow Queen Curse

Another explanation, dictated by the girl and typed by the mother.

This is a fan-made Paper Mario game that I drew for my brother because I knew he really liked Thousand Year Door so I decided to make a sequel to it. This is something I made up totally by myself. The characters in the picture are fan-made helpers, since every Paper Mario game has little helpers in it. I modified them based on previous characters. Their names are Goombrina, Captain Bones, Bobby, Yoshi, Boolina, Flare, Umi, and Lakileroy. 

Goombrina is Goombella's roommate and she likes to read. She sort of reminds me of myself because I actually drew her to sort of look like me. Her special ability is tattle, which helps her to identify the foe.

Captain Bones is a dry bones who is the captain of the Shadow Queen's guard. When he sees Mario get captured, he secretly decides to set him free and join his party. His special ability is shell spin, which helps him to hit far away objects.

Bobby is Bombette's younger brother. He is a Bobomb. He is a big fan of Mario and likes going on adventures. His special ability is the same as his sister, which is bomb, allowing him to blow up walls and reveal secret doors.

Yoshi is the grown up version of the yoshi in the Thousand Year Door. As always, he is a bit rambunctious and always ready for a fight. He can let Mario ride on him and take him to far up places.

Boolina is Lady Bow's cousin and she is shy and a bit nicer than Bow. Her special ability is the same as Bow's, out of sight, which can make Mario disappear.

Flare is a mischievous little firefly. She loves to play tricks and have parties. She's a really funny little character. Her ability is to create light in dark places so you can see where you're going.

Umi is a teenage cheep-cheep who lives on Yoshi Island with her friend Sushi from the previous game. She likes to swim and listen to music. Her special ability is to go underwater and find secret items.

Lakileroy is Laklustre's twin brother. Laklustre is a bit embarrassed by him because they have totally different personalities but they look entirely the same. The only thing they have in common is that they can go over mountains and clouds to get to higher places. He's a lot like Yoshi in that respect because they have similar abilities.

Monday, November 14, 2011

What can Kirby do? Kirby's powers in RtD

This is an illustrated list of all the powers Kirby can get in Return to Dreamland, drawn by the girl.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


From the horse's mouth:

This is a picture of [my brother's] favourite Skylander character. His name is Wrecking Ball. I think he likes him because he's small and round and destructive. I drew this for him because I knew he liked it and that's basically it.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Kirby's Return to Dreamland

This video consists of my son and daughter commenting on the opening sequence of the latest Kirby game, Kirby's Return to Dreamland.

Today I brought home my school's Wiimotes so that all four of us could play together. I can tell why my son adores this game - Kirby is grossly overpowered so defeating enemies can be a bit of a cakewalk for an experienced game player like my boy. As the helpers (Waddle-do = his sister / King DeeDeeDee = his father / MetaKnight = his mother), our job was simply to follow Kirby around and help him out when we could. Non-Kirby characters can't grab the extra special powers (like the huge swords that destroy almost everything on-screen when used). My boy feels like a god when he's roaming Dreamland. I guess that's not a bad thing sometimes.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Defining the rules of battle

War is a terrible thing, there is no question. It can be argued that the ancient Greeks had two deities associated with warfare. Ares was a brute, the wild and cruel side of battle, and he was usually portrayed pretty negatively. Athena was the personnification of strategy in armed conflicts and had much better "PR". It's a little ironic that I'm choosing to talk about my son's battle plans on Remembrance Day but I'm trying to focus on the Athena side of the equation.

The girl and the boy have been involved in a project associated with Ryerson University about creating a game on online privacy. At the end of one of the sessions, the boy had some homework: "beta test" the game he had invented in class. His description, scribed by one of the adult leaders of the workshop, is below in blue.

1) Each person must have a hula hoop.
2) On each team's turn - they walk around for 5 seconds - after 5 seconds are up, you put the hula hoops down and stop.
3) Each team is trying to outnumber the other team.
4) The team with the smaller amount of planes (within 3 steps) dies.
5) If it's the same amount on each team someone has to decide on a number. Both teams have to guess - the closest wins and the other team dies.
6) Teams can group up to make a large battle plane that shoots missiles. Everything within 2 steps dies.

The boy was a bit reluctant to polish his game plan but we did some game-testing. It reminded me of another rule-honing moment to perfect a fighting game.

When my son and husband bought Nerf swords, my boy really enjoyed fighting with us. However, I found his "rules" for combat were inconsistent and heavily slanted so that he would win. That was fine the first couple of times we played, but I soon tired of having my shots declared null and void because he was using the healing powerup but his blows always counted. Finally I told him that if he wanted to play this game with me, we had to come up with some fair rules. These were the rules of our "Nerf Sword Battle Game", in my words.

1) Each player has a sword and starts on the opposite side of the room.
2) To begin the battle, each person must utter some heroic or action-movie cliche line (such as "Taste my steel" or "Bring it on").
3) If your enemy hits you in a limb, you are no longer allowed to use the limb (e.g. hit in your sword-bearing arm means you must fight with your opposite arm - hit in your leg means you must hop and can't walk)
4) If you are hit in your torso, you die and fall to the floor dramatically.
5) The winner is allowed to cleave you in twain, behead you, and/or taunt you over your fallen form.

This took several "play-throughs" for us to agree to the rules. However, once we ironed it out, the battle was a lot of fun. It reminded me of the "green army guys and golf ball bomb" game that my siblings and I played when we were kids - what constituted "dead" was mutually agreed on, there was set-up, and it was clear how to play.

Since the boy's game involved lots of people, it was hard to play-test. However, here are the changes we made (in red).

1) Each person must have a hula hoop.
2) On each team's turn - they walk around for 5 seconds trying to get close to the enemies- after 5 seconds are up, you put the hula hoops down and stop.
3) Each team is trying to outnumber the other team and the team decides to attack
4) The team with the smaller amount of planes (within 3 steps) dies.
5) If it's the same amount on each team someone has to decide on a number or a letter because numbers will be too easy. Both teams have to guess - the closest wins and the other team dies.
6) Teams can group up to make a large battle plane that shoots missiles. Everything within 2 steps dies.
7) There has to be a captain. The captain decides to attack or flee.
8) There has to be a sky master that decides the letter in a tie.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Why My 9 Year Old Became a Fan of The Illiad

Yes, the Illiad - the epic Roman poem by Suotonius about the founding of the great city-state. I read it in university but my son discovered it thanks to a video game he found on Mini-Clips called the Snailiad. My boy's daddy explained a bit of the back story to him but I think he was more impressed that the snail could travel upside-down. Here's a tribute drawing he made.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Mario Galaxy Powerups Pt2

Just in case you didn't get enough of the list of power-ups from yesterday, here's more.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Mario Galaxy Power Ups Pt1

Kids may not read game instruction manuals but they were certainly interested in creating material that could potentially appear in them! Here's a page listing all the power-ups you can get in the game Super Mario Galaxy.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Paper Mario Possibilities Part 2

Here is the second of my daughter's series of "What if characters from Paper Mario and the Thousand Year Door were humans?" work.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Paper Mario Possiblities Part 1

My daughter was reading a gaming magazine that their friend Q brought to our house one day. She showed me an artist's reinterpretation of some of the Mario characters with a less-cartoony, more-horrifying style. Suddenly those piranha plants are even more menacing! Funny thing is, my girl already did something similar with a series of her own illustrations. What would some of the Paper Mario characters look like if they were humanoid? Here's her interpretations, in her favored drawing style.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Paper Mario Products

Time for some art from my daughter for a change!

Sometimes my daughter gets "conscripted" by her brother to draw things for him. Other times, she draws them because she wants to give her brother a present or she is merely inspired herself to create. When she was younger, she drew in a variety of styles. As she has aged, she prefers to draw in a manga manner.

This drawing is a picture of all the helpers that exist in Paper Mario, drawn in a classic Japanese manga style. It's a gift for her little brother. Hope he appreciated all the details!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Skylander Dialogue

My children saw something in our local Toys R Us store that has the potential to be this Christmas' hottest commodity - Skylanders. It's a video game but it also appeals to collectors because you can purchase figurines that can add new characters to the game but are sturdy enough to be played with. The family did some research on the new product and are quite enthralled - enough that they wrote this dialogue between characters.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Transmedia Property Pt 2 - Potential Episodes

Yesterday's post displayed the intro screen to my son's imaginary new Kirby TV show. Above are the titles of the possible episodes.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Transmedia Property? Been there, done that!

Have you ever watched the old cartoon "Kirby: Right Back At'cha"? My kids were too young when it first came out but thanks to their father's Internet explorations, they've watched most of the episodes online. They enjoyed it quite a bit, especially King Deedeedee and his malapropisms. Naturally, this inspired my son to imagine a new Kirby TV show. His is called "Kirby: clues for the warp star" and he pictures many cross-overs with other Nintendo properties. Look for tomorrow's post to see a list of episodes.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

More Remakes? This One's Imaginary!

We realize that Super Mario Galaxy 2 is just a souped-up version of Super Mario Galaxy. We know that Kirby's Return to Dreamland is is very similar to Kirby's Dreamland. Despite the lack of originality, we still buy the new version of these games - or at least my family does. My son imagined a new twist to a possible remake - Super Kirby Galaxy. This is a drawing of his vision of the game.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! My son asked his grandmother to make him a Kirby costume this year. Here he is (with his Kirby head on backwards so you don't see his face). My daughter chose to be Lagoona Blue from the web TV show "Monster High".

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Using a typical Hollywood trick - remixes!

"It's like Lord of the Flies meets America's Next Top Model" (Libba Bray's Beauty Queens)
"It's like 1984 meets Survivor" (Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games)

Take one successful commodity. Marry it with another. Create a whole new entity! This is what my boy did - he combined Super Mario Galaxy with his favourite video game character, Kirby.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Kirby's the cure

The writing here may need some explanation. It says "In your knee - Don't worry, Kirby will help you!" There is also a labeled "Kirby white cell". When I was using Picasa to fix the contrast and name this scan, I asked my boy what this all meant. This was a get well card that he made for his friend J. J hurt his knee and so his friend (my son) made him this imaginary battle scene of what was going on germ-wise under his skin. I guess Kirby is an awful lot like a leukocyte!

Friday, October 28, 2011

POV Writing - Done By Choice!

You know how in school, sometimes the teacher makes you write a description or a letter from a certain character's perspective? Well, our boy did it of his own accord, writing a letter to Bow and Mario (of the Paper Mario game) from Kirby. Let me tell you, if he had to do this for an assignment, he'd be groaning and moaning, and he certainly wouldn't write this much!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Kickin' it old skool

Today's scan is my son's invented instruction manual for playing Kirby games using an "old-fashioned" controller. Many of the Kirby games only came out for less-than-current game systems and he's been looking into how to play these using the newish gadgets he owns - a Nintendo DS and a Nintendo Wii.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Move over Arnie, Kirby's the newest action hero!

Halloween is coming up and my son does not want to be any muscular superhero like Batman, Spiderman, or Superman. No, he asked his grandmother to make him a Kirby costume. Kirby may be a round pink blob that eats anything in his path, but to my boy, he's the coolest. Here's Kirby in action doing things both in his own games and activities found in other video games.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Comics + Video Games = Cool!

You'll see a lot more examples of my son's creations. For some reason, he's producing a lot more than he used to in terms of drawings and writing of his own choosing. In this comic, Ice Kirby is freezing a flaming Leo (I'm sure I have the term wrong) while a Waddle-Doo shouts encouragement.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Back to the drawing board

No, I'm not redesigning this blog - I'm re-committing to posting more samples of my kids' artwork, stories, and other articles created due to gaming inspiration. This one was created by the boy and contains most of his favourite game elements.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Risk 2210 - Sometimes it pays to be crazy!

The photo on the right is of the board at the point when every other player decided to concede and admit defeat - and this time I was the winner! Is it geeky to take a photo? Is it "rubbing it in"? The answer's a "maybe yes" on both counts, but let me explain why it's super-sweet.

I don't usually win when I play Risk 2210. The last two times we've played, my daughter has won both times, with an improbable "rule Asia" strategy combined with a possible "be nice to the child" unconscious inclination by the other players. I know my Risk strategy weaknesses and so do the other players, especially since we play semi-regularly with each other. I over-stretch. I want to control continents so I will sometimes spread myself too thin over a wide area. There are times where I should be more conservative and not bother attacking but I can't resist trying to oust a rival army out of my territory. I am also tricked by the other players when they talk. I can be goaded into attacking someone even when it's not crucial to my standing in the match. Even in tonight's game, the men teased about me playing my "cease fire" diplomat card and, just to be contrary, I chose not to play it that round, and I ended up having my diplomat and my land commander defeated. It turned out that it was useful for me to save it for the next round. I won't give you a play-by-play of the game, but in the end I controlled Australia, Europe, most of the sea colonies, and the moon. (I'm the black pieces.) My husband (green pieces) had a good hold on South America and most of Africa, and our family friend (red pieces) was ready to take over North America (after a bloody battle with my daughter [blue pieces]) but I was collecting too many mods and too many energy credits per turn for them to make a serious dent. The turning point of the game was when I (typically but crazily) stretched myself thin and took Europe (nearly impossible to hold) when I was the fourth player in round two and then won the bid for playing first in round three, allowing me to gain all the extra armies and cash for holding Europe, even briefly. This is why I love Risk. It's a great mix of random luck and planned strategy and even if you do things "wrong", you have a chance of winning. Yeah me!