I like games... and tattoos. Yes, those.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

ConTessa Online - An Online Gaming Convention By Women For Everyone - Interview



A week or so ago I stumbled upon Contessa Online, slated as, "An Online Gaming Convention By Women For Everyone". I was intrigued by this title, and the concept especially since I was in two minds about its execution, purpose and overall success.

On one hand I applaud the initiative taken to organise a free online convention of this nature, dealing less with the topic of women in gaming and more with women who happen to love and play games.

On the other hand I can see the idea attracting criticism for its moderation procedure (or lack of), and somewhat frivolous content, the latter of which is completely intentional.

I'm also personally divided as to the choice of artwork style, which might seem like an odd thing to feel uncomfortable about, but I feel that it's overly cute, even in the fun context of this convention.

That said, speculation doesn't help, and the only way to find out more information is to ask questions - so I chatted to Stacy Dellorfano, the organiser to find out more.

Let me know your thoughts.

1. Tell us about ConTessa - what is it and how did the convention come into being?

ConTessa is a 4-day gaming extravaganza celebrating the women who play games, write games, and love games! Entirely run by women, ConTessa is all about showcasing the women who run, write, design, play, talk about and create games. Run by women, fun for everybody! ConTessa is not a forum for debate on gender issues and has no political agenda. Events will be fun, positive and informative – giving women center stage to talk about what they love about gaming and to share the games they love with everyone.

I started ConTessa after I noticed that most of the time when I and other women are invited into a conversation about games, we're asked to discuss our experience as women in gaming rather than as gamers. While relating our experiences and coming up with ways to make them better is a great thing to talk about and certainly important, it's easy to get caught up in the arguments and forget that the whole point of being gamers is to have fun. It started out as a hastily written-up Google document that I put together while on vacation over the holidays at my in-laws, and has been growing since then. 

2. What are you hoping to achieve with this convention?

Fun, fun, and more fun. The whole point of the convention is to give all of the women in the gaming world a platform to talk about the things that they love, and boy do they want to talk! The excitement that I've seen around the convention has honestly blown me away. There's going to be a lot of great stuff that comes out of this convention, which means that it can achieve lots of things. Education, great gaming, fun, networking, and new experiences are all great potential take-aways. 

3. Why did you make the decision to go purely online?

I run and play a lot of games via Hangout myself, and have found the Google+ RPG community to be a fantastic group of people and a brilliant set of resources. Having the convention online enables us to make it a truly worldwide convention. Plus, using all free tools online and a volunteer workforce allows us to put up a con that's free for all. 

4. How strict is the moderation process? 

Not terribly. The only thing I'm looking for is that the event adhere's to the spirit of the convention, and that the automated form system hasn't screwed up any of the formatting. Beyond that, if you want to run a game or put together a panel, all it takes is coming to our website and registering! 

5. This is a multi-pronged question you can answer in any way you wish - Do you think there's any danger of not being taken seriously? Conversely, do you WANT to be taken seriously? The artwork that you've chosen to use for the con definitely falls into the cutesy realm, and while that certainly has an appeal, why do you think this helps rather than hinders your cause?

I prefer to call the style whimsical. As an apolitical convention, we don't really have a cause. We're not here to change anyone's mind or prove any points. There are other places suited for that kind of work, one might even say the entire rest of the hobby. ConTessa is strictly a space for women to go and talk about, run, and play the many and varied games that they love.

6. What kind of person are you hoping to attract? 

We're hoping that the convention will pull together a nice cross-section of the gaming world. 

7. Obviously each session is limited in numbers, if there is a high demand for a specific session would you host multiple sessions on a single topic?

The great thing about Google Hangouts is that there really aren't the same amounts of limitations. While only a certain amount of players can play in a particular Hangout game (or video game or board game depending on the format), anyone can watch on YouTube over Hangouts on Air, and that means that panels don't have an audience restriction at all. Questions are taken through comments on the Google+ post that contains the Hangout video, and the panel moderator can read them off for their guests to answer. As for multiple sessions, that's up to the individual creating the event!

8. How do you feel a convention like this will benefit the perception of women in the videogaming arena?

Honestly, I've had more people interested in tabletop gaming than video gaming, but I'm hoping we'll get some panels and events centered around video games. They are one of my root loves, and I spent about ten years working in that industry, so seeing more women talking about video games would be splendid. However, I don't really have an opinion one way or another on how it will benefit or not benefit the perception of women anywhere. It'll be interesting to see what some of the residual effects are, but that's really not the point of the convention. Perceptions are for other people. ConTessa is for women. 

9. Have you faced any opposition or criticism when organising/publicising this event? 

Yes. My first draft was sloppy and far too biased towards my own personal opinions. It drew opposition from the fringes of either side of the debate, and a bit of trolling, to be fair. I did my best to look past the trolling and the mocking and the bad behavior to see what the real root concerns people had were, and I found that those concerns were valid. Future iterations contained less and less of my personal opinion, and I've now pretty much wiped it out entirely. I, of course, have my personal opinions, but ConTessa is sanctuary. It's that place where those opinions don't matter, just having fun. 

Since the latest few rewrites, however, I haven't really had any criticism. I don't necessarily expect it to stay that way, but people are welcome to their opinions and they're also welcome not to attend if their feelings on the subject are that strong. All we're here to do is to provide a place to have some fun. 

10. Anything else you'd like to add?

Just be sure to come by and check us out at http://www.contessaonline.com!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Watchdogs - Next Gen gameplay trailer

Watchdogs is a game that has been on my radar for a while - unique concept, visually awesome, complicated moral themes that comment on the Big Brother culture that permeates so much of our society. Definitely my kind of game!

Anyway, the guys from CVG recently got the chance to see a preview of this incredible open world game, and there are their thoughts on it. It's a long video so make sure you have about 30 minutes to spare, the banter that goes on is a bit long and they could probably have abbreviated it somewhat, but it's an interesting enough discussion, and this preview hasn't detracted from my enthusiasm at all.

What are your thoughts? Do you think Watchdogs will be successful?

Assassins Creed IV: Devs talk PS4

Ubisoft devs talk about the development of Assassins Creed IV for the PS4 in this pretty cool behind the scenes video. I won't waffle on about it however, check out the video and see for yourself.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Revisiting Sparkly Things - Infamous Second Son

I saw this trailer back in February, while looking at screens of the upcoming Infamous: Second Son today, I remembered how cool the trailer looked.

So I thought I'd share it. So just a little sparkly sparkly to brighten up your day :)


Wolfenstein: The New Order Trailer

If you're a Wolfenstein fan, whether the new or the old version, you're sure to be drooling over Bethesdas's latest trailer for Wolfenstein: The New Order.

To be honest the trailer is very pretty but doesn't give much indication of the game itself, but the music is well chosen and combined with the visuals is certain to garner support.

Take a look.

PAX Australia 2013

For some reason I missed this initial announcement (made in Feb!), but either way, I just discovered that the Penny Arcade Expo is going to Melbourne, Australia this year.


Why should you care you ask? Well maybe you don't. But I do. Apart from the fact that the Southern Hemisphere is getting some attention, Australia has a wonderful thriving gaming industry, one which is very close to my heart for a variety of completely personal reasons.

It was then with great excitement that I discovered that not only is the Penny Arcade Expo, or PAX as it is commonly known, making it's way to Melbourne in July 2013, but that one of the people influential in making this happen is in fact an old family friend, Tony Reed, now CEO of the Game Developers Association Australia.

Tony was one of the people who introduced me to games such as Out of This World (also known as Another World), while working at Interplay, and even more importantly, to the game that shaped my love of gaming - Tim Shafer's Full Throttle.

Out Of This World

It's an exciting prospect to find people who have been so influential in your own love of video games doing things on such a global scale.

Sadly it's unlikely I'll be able to attend PAX Australia this year, but if you have the cash and want to make a trip Down Under, you'll find both the mainstream and indie scene thriving, the people welcoming, and the excitement palpable. 

Full Throttle

Friday, May 3, 2013

Yes, I neglected to post what is quite an awesome trailer. Bad Pippa.

I neglected to post this trailer a couple of days ago - mainly because Call of Duty isn't normally high on my priority list. It's not that I don't play them when they come out, but it's not a game I'm fanatical about.

Although I saw it I was busy and since COD is normally not an "Eeeeeeeeee!" game for me I never got around to sharing the trailer, which I'll be honest, even if it's not reflective of the actual gameplay (the trailer doesn't indicate this in any way), is pretty damn awesome.

Nevertheless, I was pulled up on the fact that I didn't post it - and that's a fair criticism, I should have. But if you haven't seen it, whether you're a fan of COD or not, here it is.

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on this new approach...