Knit Me Something Video Game Style

This is a special posting for a certain group of ladies who informed me that they regularly click on my blog posts even though they often have no idea of what I’m talking about.  I know they love to knit and create.  So today, I dedicate this to them as I search the internet for anything related to knitting.  My main resource is Etzy, because I don’t know of any others.  Click on the photo and it will take you to the actual site where the item is for sale.

Item #1: Journey Scarf – I’m not much of a scarf person but I would be proud to wear this scarf that has the unique design from the game Journey on the Sony PlayStation 3.  The scarf is a huge part of the game’s mechanic.  It helps the player to literally float or glide in the air.  That would great if they could add that feature to this real world scarf.

Hand-Knit Journey Inspired Scarf

Item #2: Pac Man Drink Coozie – It would be really cool to have a favorite beverage wrapped in a classic retro video game coozie.  My spell check hates the word coozie, it keeps trying to change it to cookie.  I hope I’m spelling it correctly but you get the idea.  I would love to have these for drinks if I had friends over to play some games.

Knit Pac Man and Ghost Beer Coozie

Item #3: Legend of Zelda Knit Cap – What else can I say.  Take Nintendo’s legendary game series and make it something real and tangible.  I would love to wear this cap on a cold winter day.

Knit Made to Order: Link Hat from any Legend of Zelda Game

So those are my top three items!  Ladies, I hope you enjoyed it (and all you other game lovers too).  I also want to mention that I found this Flash-based knitting game: (although I believe it is more like cross-stitch).  Click on the link below to give it a try.

http://www.y8.com/games/Knitting

 

Video Game Chair Review – X Rocker Triple Flip 2.1

I recently was the recipient of a chair specially made for playing video games.  It is called the X Rocker Flip 2.1.  A chair, an ottoman, and a storage box.  I conveniently had it on my Amazon wishlist and my wife surprised me on Christmas.

A Chair!

A Chair!

As a chair, it is relatively comfortable.  While it does have plenty of room, it could use some more padding in the seat cushion.  That said, it may not be a bad thing that it is not the most comfortable chair in the world.  It can help limit how long I want to play.  I like the nice wide arms because there is plenty of room for remotes or controllers.  The chair does have built in speakers, but I have not tried them out fully with a game.  To make it work, I will need to have left/right audio cables coming from the game as well as a power adapter.  It came with appropriate cabling, but I don’t know if I will set it up.  I prefer the clean wireless appearance.  Plus, I love the great sound I get from my Xbox One headphones so I will use them most of the time instead.

Storage!

Storage!

Lift up the seat cushion and there is plenty of storage for many games and peripherals.  It is pretty handy for stowing items.  What else can I say about storage?  Oh yeah, there’s a subwoofer down there as well.

Otto, man!

Otto, man!

This is one of my favorite features.  I like how the back folds down and turns into an ottoman.  It may not be the most attractive ottoman on the planet, but I love the function.  I wonder why it is called an ottoman anyway?  Does it have something to do with the Ottoman Empire?

I give the X Rocker a 7.5 out of 10.  It would have a better score if it had more cush for my tush!

You can check it out on Amazon here:

http://www.amazon.com/Rocker-0717901-Triple-Storage-Ottoman/dp/B00CTIA5LU/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1422058482&sr=8-8&keywords=video+game+ottoman

VGT – Colecovision Discovery

I remember the first time I ever saw a Colecovision.  I was in junior high and was invited over to a friend’s house in my neighborhood.  We were friends but not necessarily best friends – that all changed when I saw his Colecovision.  I wanted to be his best friend for life!  When I was young, I did not have any of the newer gaming systems at my house.  Sure, we had a Pong clone but it just wasn’t as much fun as those newer cartridge based systems.  So what did I do?  I made sure that I had friends with game systems!  I don’t want it to sound like  video games were the ONLY reason I chose my friends,  because that is not true.  But most of my friends had similar interests – sports, computers, and video games.

When I saw the Colecovision, I could not help but to compare it to the Atari 2600.  The Colecovision was easily superior in both graphics and sound.  Donkey Kong looked, sounded, and played like the real arcade version (or at least closer to anything I had experienced up to that point).  The controller was a tad bit difficult to use, but it only added to the challenge.

The other day I was listing an item for sale on Craigslist.  Just on a whim, I decided to search using the term “Colecovision” and I was surprised to get a hit from a seller who lived just down the road from me.  He was selling a Colecovision and a “Super Intendo” for $70.  I was surprised that it was still available – but after reflection, it may be that it was because of the word “Intendo” rather than “Nintendo.”  Perhaps it wasn’t coming up in searches?  I don’t know.  We made arrangements for the sale.  He was a nice person who had played with the game systems when he was a boy.  He was cleaning out his attic and decided to sell his “Super Intendo”.  I decided not to correct his incorrect pronunciation of one of the most popular video game systems in history.  Both systems were in excellent condition, with several games.  Plus, there was a huge bonus item which I will discuss in a future blog entry.

Colecovision and Games

Colecovision and Games

The Colecovision needed some cleaning (the Intendo was in excellent condition) but I really enjoyed cleaning it up with cotton swabs and rubbing alcohol.  I had to clean the contacts on all of the games but they all worked.  Of course the controllers were just as cumbersome as I remembered.  The side buttons did not work very well but I disassembled the controllers and cleaned them up – they worked good as new.  I had heard that you can play some Colecovision games with a Sega Genesis controller so I gave it a try.  You sure can!  The three best games I played were Donkey Kong, Galaxian, and Q-bert.   WarGames is based on the hit movie from the 80’s but it looked pretty complex.  I’m probably going have to search on the internet and figure out how to play it.  It looks like some kind of super complicated Missile Command.  I didn’t try to play Pit Stop but I assume it has something to do with racing and not going to the bathroom on a long trip.

It still runs great!

It still runs great!

As a collector, I have a mental list of certain game systems I would love to own.  The Colecovision was on my list.  I always wanted to have one to call my own.  Adding it to my collection is the fulfillment of a childhood dream.  Maybe now I will have friends who want to hang out at my house just to play it too!  Of course they would probably be complete nerds – but that’s OK with me!

VGT – System Update – Please Wait

Have you ever taken a break from playing a modern game system?  Then you go back to play a game on it, and on the screen is a message saying, “An update is available”.  You think to yourself, “Why not go ahead?  How long can it take?”  Thirty minutes later you are still staring at the screen, watching that progress bar slowly go from left to right.  At this point, you can’t even remember what game you were going to play when you turned the blasted thing on.  In this modern era of gaming, updates are a fact of life.

Love those updates!

Love those updates!

I think it is time to give you an update about what has been going on in my life.  As many of you know, in addition to a full time time job as a Technology Manager at Anuvia in Charlotte, I also have been inching my way toward a Masters of Divinity at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary.  I have been taking one class per semester and recently finished a course called “The Teacher and the Teaching Task”.  The class involved a paper as well as an extensive project – so the summer has gone by very quickly.  The “progress bar” on my education is moving slowing but steadily, and I estimate that I am one third of the way through.  My next class is about the Gospel of John and it involves a lot of translation work from the original Koine Greek as well as exegesis.  I am looking forward to it.

I have been playing some games though.  Lately, my system of choice has been the Xbox 360.  There are two reasons why I have been playing it so much.  The first reason is an excellent seamless online experience.  I have written before about my trepidation of playing online games – I am slowly getting over it.  Two games that I have been playing online are Forza Horizon and Diablo III.  The second reason is ACHIEVEMENTS.  I love it when that little message pops up announcing to me (and maybe the world?) that I have just reached a new level or performed a certain task.  I wish I could get achievements at work.  I could be typing an email and all of a sudden.  “Bink! You have earned a new achievement.  Ten million emails written.  Prolific Writer” – that would be so cool.  I have even played a couple of older Xbox 360 games ONLY for the purpose of getting achievements.  Examples include: King Kong the Movie and The Last Avatar.  On the Avatar game I got one thousand points in less than five minutes.  I will be writing about that experience on my next post.

So it has been a busy summer of work, school, some disc golf, an eleven mile hike, and time with family.  I love sharing my thoughts on this blog, so keep your eyes open for more.  Update Complete.

VGT – A Video Game Extravaganza

2013-07-13 14.03.15

Jackson, Ted, and Nate

I’ve had a little bit of time to reflect on a recent video game extravaganza weekend that I had with both my son and my nephew, jackson.  It’s often funny how events work out the way that they do.   I remember how I found out that Jackson had become a bit of a Zelda fanatic – it was during a visit at my Dad’s house.   I can still see him with his Nintendo 3DS handheld sitting on the sofa.  He was playing Ocarina of Time and he wasn’t merely interested in the game, he was obsessed with it.  He was talking about Hyrule and Gerudo to anyone who would listen.  Nathan and I were probably the only two people in the entire group who understood what he was talking about!  It is a testament to a well-designed game when it can cross several generations.

This summer I learned that Jackson have been given a classic NES console with several games.  He became interested in playing many retro games.  I think it is extraordinary when an eleven year old can find an interest like this.  It would seem to me that there are so many other, newer systems out there that would be far more interesting to a young mind.  Yet the 8 bit graphics and sound seemed to captivate Jackson’s imagination.  He and I exchanged email addresses and we started to correspond.   Eventually we started to discuss the possibility of having him come to visit my house and see my game room.  So the plan was made and we found a weekend that he could come to my little town of McAdenville.  My wife, anticipating a weekend of a lot of video game action and noise, decided that a visit to the beach with her girlfriends was definitely in order.  So the plans were made, details were worked out and this is how our weekend went…

I decided to take a Friday off and met Jackson at a half way point.  His grandparents drove him and we had a nice lunch at a Golden Corral.  They also brought my niece Lexi and it was nice to visit with her.  After lunch, Jackson got into the car and we headed back toward Charlotte.  We talked about many video game related things such as Zelda timelines and various videos and memes on Youtube.  Before long we parked at one of my favorite Goodwill stores.  Part of the weekend was going to be spent shopping for retro games and items.   At the store, I discovered a unique looking rifle designed for a Wii controller and decided to pick it up.

Ever seen this before?

Ever seen this before?

Jackson found a Nintendo Max game controller for only five bucks.  Then he proved to me that he was a bona fide collector – he discovered another Max controller that happened to still be in the box at the same price.  He wisely put the first controller away and decided to purchase the one in the box.  That is an eleven year old retro game collector to the core!  He also picked up one of those Atari paddles that had games built into it such as Circus Atari, Pong, and Super Breakout.  After Goodwill, we also went to another one of my favorite video game stores – Gamers Alley.  We looked through their large selection of games.  Jackson bought a couple of NES games that were still in the box and Nathan picked up a game called Dragon’s Dogma for the Xbox 360 which he seemed pretty excited about.

When we got back to the house the extravaganza truly began.  Nathan plugged in Dragon’s Dogma downstairs on the Xbox but Jackson and I went up to the game room.   He was almost like a starving person who had not seen food for weeks.  He asked me to connect my Atari 2600 and then he went through cartridge after cartridge.  He was eager to see what new classic game he was going to discover next.  After playing ET, Pitfall, and Missile Command, we decided to plug in his little retro Atari Paddle which worked well except for the fact that it was single player only.  What fun is Pong by yourself?  The next system he was interested in was my Nintendo 64 .  For some reason that game system from the nineties captured his attention and he tried out several games from my collection.

Some great 64 games

Some great 64 games

We then went downstairs, ordered pizza, and watched Nathan play some missions on Mass Effect 2.  Nathan has been somewhat obsessed with the Mass Effect universe as of late and is particularly interested in sharing his experience with me,  So he is playing through the entire trilogy again with me watching.  For me, it is almost like watching a movie with me (Ted Shepherd) as the star.

On Saturday, my friend Squiggly came over.  We played the next four hours with a focus on multiplayer gaming.   First, we needed to give the Wii U some love so we played some of the mini games in Nintendoland.  There were definitely some good moments as we played the Zelda game and the Pikmin game.  After a while “Retro” Jackson went upstairs to hang out in the game room for a while.  So downstairs, we played one of the Burnout driving games downstairs.   We just played some of the levels in which you are trying to cause as much wreck damage as possible at an intersection.  We would each take a turn, and then passed the controller to a buddy all for the bragging rights to the highest damage score.

Nathan had mentioned that a game called Castle Crashers was a fun multiplayer game so I downloaded it to my X Box 360.  That game  literally took over the rest of the weekend.  We played it up until the time that Squiggly had to leave and continued to play it late into the night Saturday.  I got tired and went to bed but Nathan and Jackson  stayed up even later and watched Netflix.

The next morning we played some more Castle Crashers and got right up to the final boss.  However, Jackson was holding us back  because he wouldn’t buy any potions.  He said he was wanting to save up to buy a pet pig in the game (which was kind of a useless pet).  So gameplay consisted of Jackson dying and subsequently we would risk our lives trying to resurrect him and thus get killed.  (Later that week Nate and I beat it)

Jackson kept asking when we could go back to the Goodwill store so that he could buy a Nintendo 64 for himself.  It just so happened that I was at a yard sale about six months ago and I picked up an additional system.  Here was a kid who is interested in retro gaming and I had an extra system.  So while he was playing a 64 game, I pulled out the complete system and told him that I was giving it to him. It was one of the more touching moments of the weekend when Jackson, too overcome for words, simply came over to me and gave me a sincere hug.

The weekend went by much too quickly and I was happy to spend some time with my nephew.  I have given him a new nickname, “The Jacksonian Institute of Video Game History”.  For me, video games were just the medium for establishing and building a relationship.  Some people may think that video game players are reclusive and lonely, but I have found in my experience that game players are some of the most social people you could ever come across.  After all, I think relationship is what life is really all about.  Jackson, Nathan, Squiggly, myself, and many others have this common love of games both old and new.  It was great just hanging out together!

VGT – Video Games from the Perspective of a 76 Year Old

I am very blessed to have a guest blogger fill in for me as I focus on a couple of papers for seminary.  I would like to introduce you to Ellie Loring, my mother and one of my best friends.  I helped her get her first computer back around the year 2000.  I knew it wouldn’t take her long to enjoy the world of email, Facebook, and of course  – some games.  Think video games are for the young?  They are for the young at heart, that’s for sure.  I asked her to write about some of her favorite games.  Enjoy!

Meet Ellie Loring

Meet Ellie Loring

I have been told that I am a faithful fan of Wild Man Ted.  Faithful in that I wade through paragraphs of video equipment descriptions and gaming skills information to find the spiritual gems that Ted gleans from his life outside of and often including his love of video games.  let it be known before I go any further, that I am seventy-six years young, and do not kindle or text or own a smart phone.

However, I have always loved to play games whether it be cards, board games, or crossword puzzles.  When Ted set me up with my own computer, it wasn’t too long before he introduced me to the never ending fun of computer games.  He then gave me a gift card to BIG FISH and I became hooked.  (Editor’s Note: Big Fish is one of many flash-based gaming websites.  They are inexpensive and fun, but be wary of getting inadvertently signed up for a monthly commitment)  I soon found through trial and error that I prefer the matching games that can keep me challenged because of increasingly difficult levels and fascinating story lines.

Around the World in Eighty Days

Around the World in Eighty Days

My favorite game is Around the World in Eighty Days.  It follows the Jules Verne classic book and I travel for eighty days to different countries.  The graphics are exceptional and the games are challenging.  I visited Ted one weekend and I introduced him to this game.  Needless to say, I spent our time together watching him play.  I have taken the journey at least seven times.  The only change in successive games is the intrusion of ominous clouds that get in the way of an easier win.

Jewel Quest Heritage

Jewel Quest Heritage

There is a series of Jewel Quest games of which I have tried two.  My favorite is Jewel Quest Heritage.  Beginning with a girl in 1940 you trace her lineage through members of her family tree culminating in ancient “Moctezuma.”  It becomes a mock history lesson while you work your way through some fascinating games.  This game allows you to increase your time as needed.  However, I have yet to complete the more challenging game when you do not have that opportunity.

Cradle of Rome

Cradle of Rome

Last night I went to bed late trying to get to Olympus in the game Cradle of Rome.  In this game I build an empire by earning enough money to add to my city.  Soon the games add other rewards like hatchets, lightning bolts, and bombs.  There are additional games in the series which I am ready to try.

Zuma

Zuma

There are two other games I must mention that are great fun, but frustrating because I can’t beat them.  Zuma is a popular game of speed and flashing marbles zooming out at me at such a speed that when I go to bed at night, I still see them when I close my eyes.  I have never been able to get past level nine.

Mah Jongg Dimension Deluxe

Mah Jongg Dimension Deluxe

The other game is Mah Jongg Dimension Deluxe in which speed and accuracy are also important.  I may never get through the hard level of the game.

I have not progressed beyond a mouse controlled computer game.  My kids find my ability to use anything more complex to be a source of annoyance and laughter.  Perhaps Wild Man Ted will ask me to write again when he tries to advance me to a new level.  But don’t hold your breath.

Mom, I think you are doing great right where you are – Wild Man Ted

Three Weekends – Three Different Experiences

This is a post devoid of video games but full of life!  I’ve spent the past few weeks travelling.  Each weekend trip had a different destination and a purpose.

Recreation of some Norman Rockwell (in progress)

Recreation of some Norman Rockwell (in progress)

Trip 1 – Savannah, GA:  As I mentioned in a previous post, I drove down to Savannah, GA to visit my son at SCAD.  As I was driving down, I tried to remember what I had appreciated the most from a visit while I was in college over twenty years ago.  At the time, I appreciated food and I appreciated getting away from the campus, so I resolved in my mind to focus on those two things – and of course to listen to my son as we spent time together to find out what his needs might be.

Drawing of Random Items on a Table

Drawing of Random Items on a Table

As expected, he was pretty eager to get away from his cramped dorm room so we went to the local Super Target to stock up on any needed supplies.  We bought some cereal, milk, and some snacks.  Apparently, Hot Pockets are also a necessary element of college survival.  His choice for lunch was the local Mellow Mushroom, and he seemed genuinely thrilled to be taking some of the leftovers back to his room.  He has been doing so well in college.

Imaginary Creature from his Color Theory class

Imaginary Creature from his Color Theory class

He has made the Dean’s List and is growing so much as an artist and as a person.  Truly, his art just gets better and better.  We spent the evening watching the movie A Good Day to Die Hard at the movie theater.  Going to movies and reviewing the movies afterward is one of our favorite things to do (other than video games!)   We even made a spontaneous recording called, The Drive Home, in which we reviewed the movie during the drive home – while the movie was fresh on our minds.  Click on the link for the audio.  (Warning: contains spoilers).  It was a lot of fun for both of us.

The Drive Home-A Good Day to Die Hard (Spoilers)

Trip 2 – Snowshoe, WV:  During the month of February, I sometimes travel to Snowshoe Ski Resort  along with my two older brothers and some friends of my middle brother, Craig.  I think that once upon a time, this was a “guys gone wild” kind of weekend, but now since most the men are in their forties and fifties it has become more of a “guys hobbling around” experience.  Most of the guys hit the black diamonds, but my oldest brother, Ken, and I stayed on the greens and blues.

A view from the slopes at Snowshoe, WV

A view from the slopes at Snowshoe, WV

In my mind I was comparing the ski experience to my recent December trip to Park City, UT.  I honestly have to say that the skiing is very good at both places but the western ski experience ranks slightly higher.  How wild were our evenings?

I know how to party

I know how to party

We spent an evening playing “Mathmet”  – a customized game based on a Yahtzee-like game called Kismet.  Craig is a math teacher and uses the game to help his students improve their quick-fire addition skills.  We also spent an evening just watching movies together.  We watched The Shawshank Redemption on the AMC channel, and I have to tell you, that the commercials almost killed me.  Especially the way they increase the quantity of them toward the end of the movie.  It is no wonder that the world is going the direction of Netflix, Amazon, Hulu Plus, and other forms of video streaming.

Men's Retreat 2013

Men’s Retreat 2013

Trip 3 – Black Mountain, NC:  My third weekend was spent at the “Man to Man” retreat at Ridgecrest Center in Black Mountain.  I traveled with a friend from my men’s group and we were also roommates throughout the weekend.  The facilities there were almost like staying in a hotel with comfortable rooms and a good cafeteria.  There was even a Starbucks located on the campus.  The focus of the weekend was on the overwhelming, generous love of God.  I remember a quote that the speaker talked about.  It was by Catherine of Siena (don’t ask me who she is!) and she said something to the effect of, “You were drunk with love, infatuated with your creature.”  I don’t regularly hear comparisons of God and drunkenness very often so it caught my attention.  But I started to think about how love can affect us – even on a human level we dedicate movies, books, and video games to the subject of love.  It awakens us.  It stimulates us.  It creates a whole new world of thoughts and feelings.  I know that when I became a father, I discovered a sensation a love that I had never known before.  I spent the retreat thinking about God’s love and was especially impacted during a time of solitude and prayer.  I found a hiking trail and just started to follow it.

Ridgecrest in the NC Mountains

Ridgecrest in the NC Mountains

I guess I stopped about halfway up the mountain, looked around at the mountains and valleys, and just said, “Wow, you did a really good job here.”  I’ve walked with Christ for almost thirty years and every day I find something new to amaze me.  It was a great weekend with friends and music.

Each trip was different.  I was a father for the first, a brother for the second, and a friend for the third.  I didn’t realize it, but it was somewhat a trinitarian experience for me.  For all three trips, it felt great to come home.  I am thankful that I have a place where I can feel safe and comfortable.  The shower always feels better than the ones on the road – and the bed is always more comfortable.  The sheets and blankets just feel perfect and there is nothing better than sleep beside someone you love.   Coming home to my wife and my dog is the best part of travel.