Thoughts from a (girl) Gamer

Tara Voelker's thoughts. A lot about video games, a little about life

Category Archives: Life

I don’t know why I even act like I’m going to update this.

Jesus Christ, I’m terrible about posting on my blog.

I really, actually plan on putting some stuff on here soon. Expect the following eventually-

  • Images of my fully completed Spirited Away sleeve (goes all the way around)
  • Images of by Bioshock Infinite Bird/Cage Keys
  • Awesome Pictures I took
  • Info about some Paranormal stuff I did that was cool (that may make me seem like a crazy pants)

I swear… I am actually for real going to post shit.


In response to recent Twitter Events – The Fore River Story

Wow. So, basically I tweeted about a horrible experience at a restaurant with a anti-Islamic owner, and now I’ve gotten retweeted a bajillion times. I’m already seeing me being misquoted, so I wanted to go ahead and write down exactly what happen and share .

Background:  Just up the street there is a restaurant that my husband and I frequent. We’re on first name basis with most of the staff, and the owner. We’ve even got their loyalty card. The place is in walking distance and has beer, so we’re there pretty frequently.

It’d been a little bit crazy today (you know, the whole city on lock down thing) so we weren’t really in the mood to cook. We went to Fore River Grille in North Weymouth for dinner. We walked in, sat down, and placed a drink order.

The owner, Teresa, walked over smiling. No big deal, like we said, we were regulars. Then she just said to us. “I wanted to let you guys know this is a Muslim free zone! ” And just kept smiling.

Dumb founded, I just said, “Wow. Not all terrorists are Muslim. Timothy Mcveigh wasn’t, he was Christian. Want to hate others to?”

She replied, “Yeah, but that was 20 years ago. All the current terrorists are Muslims. It’s true. Name a terrorist attack more recent that wasn’t done Muslims.” She was completely serious.

I was completely floored. At this point I said, “I’m going to eat somewhere else,” grabbed my sweatshirt and left.

As I began to walk out, she started to say she was sorry. I kept walking.

My husband, who was with me at the restaurant, says that after I left Teresa said “I was just joking.”

Max said to her “I get you are joking, but it’s not funny. A Muslim woman has already been assaulted in Mass. today because of this, so it’s just not cool.”

Teresa kept saying she was sorry and didn’t mean to offend me. Max then also left.

The apology doesn’t mean much though, because I have a zero tolerance policy on people getting discriminated against for the race, sex, sexual orientation,  religion… pretty much whatever. And making jokes about that stuff, it’s not cool either.

I have strong moral convictions. I can’t give my money to a business that is owned by a woman who thinks it’s funny to say that she won’t let people of a particular religion at her establishment, or who legitimately meant that all terrorists are Muslims.

I’m now getting more mentions on twitter than I would ever have time to respond to, so I’m just posting this.

I want to thank everyone who is supporting me in my choice, and I’m glad I’m not alone in this fight. Your support means soooo much,


Thank you.


Where was I? Things I neglected to post from June through November

So, as always, a long time has passed and I haven’t posted anything. To be exact, I haven’t posted anything since June. Why haven’t I posted? Well first the standard reason – I’m horrible about posting, and then the second reason – crunch. (For those of you who don’t know what crunch is, it’s a game industry term for working stupid amounts of overtime. In my case, 12 hour days with occasional weekend work).

But what’s sad is that I’ve actually had some cool (and one not at all cool) things happen during those few months. So I decided to make 1 giant mass dump of everything I didn’t post. So here we go!!


  • I attend the Zelda – Symphony of the Goddess concert while taking a 3 day trip to Orlando. It was amazing, and I was so glad I got to see it. Even more awesome, I ran into the Jeron, producer and creative director, Eímear, conductor, and Chad Seiter, the composer at the hotel bar because they were staying at the same place Max and I were. To make things even cooler, Jeron asked for a photo with me because of my sweet Zelda tat, and we drank to the wee hours of the morning. I decided I had to see it again when it came to Boston, and then woke up with the worst hang over I had had in a long time. WORTH IT.
  • Sometime during July, I finished out the work on the outer portion of my Spirited Away half sleeve, leaving only my inner arm to be completed in the spring. As it turns out, I didn’t really take any good pictures of it. It came out awesome. But like I said, no good pictures. So here are a few mediocre ones. I’d say I’d post better ones later, but we all know I won’t. I also got my Zelda tattoo touched up.

Sprited Away TattooSpirited Away SleeveSpirited Away Tattoo

    Went from pink hair to blue hair.


  • I hit my one year at Irrational, and get my awesome logo hoodie.
  • My cousin is in a life threatening car wreck, in which her van collided with a semi truck. She is airlifted to a hospital where she receives 8 hours of emergency surgery. At the time it was really scary, but we know she is expected to make a full recovery, although she won’t be about to return to work for a full year.
  • Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark comes out in IMAZ and I got to see it. It was beautiful. Snagged a poster that’s now hanging at work.
  • A bunch of my coworkers surprise me with a pre-order of the Deluxe vault hunter’s edition of Borderlands 2. Once the game is released, I’m obsessed with the game, and fall in love with Tiny Tina.


  • A benefit auction is schedule for my cousin. Harmonix and Irrational both donate items. Harmonix sent games for both the auction and directly to my cousin, and Irrational donated a signed poster for Bioshock Infinite (see below). I had several of my coworkers reach out and ask if they could donate money. Everyone was so supportive, it was amazing.

Signed Bioshock Infinite Poster

  • I continue working tons of crunch on Bioshock Infinite. Mid October, we ramp up our marketing again and release this awesome trailer.
  • I go see Zelda – Symphony of the Goddess again, here in Boston. This time my friend Aaron tags along. We all dressed fancy. Afterwards I ran into the Jeron, Eímear,  and Chat (again!) although no drinking with them this time. The bar was crowded and we weren’t staying out long this time.
  • Saw the new movie in Silent Hill movie in 3D. It was terrible.
  • Irrational holds our annual Halloween party. I dress up as Tiny Tina, complete with mismatch shoes.

Tiny Tina costume


  • Dyed my hair red
  • In one of the more surreal moments of my life, I was introduced to Randy Pitchford by Ken Levine. Said I was a huge Borderlands fan, and tweeted my Tiny Tina costume at him.
  • Max and I decided that we are taking a trip to Japan next year.
  • Accidentally dyed my hair pink again.

And now here we are. I could have made larger post about most of these things, but I don’t have the time and I still wanted to share. Eventually I will ship this game, and have more time for things like… oh you know, life and blog posts again.

Spirited Away Tattoo Continued

As you know, I’ve started getting work done on a Spirited Away half sleeve. (Original Post with up close pictures of the outline here)

I got a little bit more work done the other day, and I wanted to share. I got a lot of shading done. The tattoo is really shaping up well, can’t wait to get it finished!



Games for Health 2012 aka Me and White House Officials

So this past week I got to do something pretty awesome.

On Tuesday, I lead a session at Games for Health (with some help from others, I don’t want to take the sole credit here) called Enabled Play – 4th Annual Game Accessibility day. We worked to start a document that was sort of a briefing book about game accessibility, and then I worked over night with a couple other people to get the document cleaned up.

Then on Wednesday during the keynote speech, I was got to present the document to Constance Steinkuehler Squire, the Senior Policy Analyst from the White House Office of Science and Technology.

It was super awesome. At first I was a little nervous, but then I saw she had a Totoro sticker on her computer, so they made me feel more comfortable.  Here’s a picture of me presenting. 😀


Spirited Away and Ink on my Arm

Spirited Away by Miyazaki Half Sleeve TattooHello All!

So, it was finally time with new ink, and I decided to get a Spirited Away half sleeve. If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s a kick ass anime by Miyazaki, and I highly recommend it.

Last night I got the outline for my outer arm, and I wanted to share the tattoos progress so far. I’ve got Haku, Chihiro, the bathhouse and the lantern. The rest of it is going to be mostly shading with the expect one the thing that is going to go on the inside of my arm, which I’m saving as a surprise. You can check out the different sections of the tattoo close up in the pics below.

The tattoo was done by George at Stingray Tattoo in Allston, MA, and I would recommend him to anyone!










What’s with the new domain name?

When I originally set out to make my own blog, wasn’t my first pick. To be honest, I came about the domain after about 50 attempts to pick one. I realized that throwing “girl” in with “gamer” opened up a lot of new options. And I was a girl and a gamer…. So, I picked

And it worked. The website was about my thoughts, and really focused on how I felt about it as a gamer, who was also a girl.  But, now, I don’t want to say I’ve grown or something… but I want to say that I’m not OMGIMAGIRL. And there are several key topics in which I don’t agree with other girl gamers, and especially some girl game devs…And I have never been one to seek others out in the girl gaming community or anything like that. So I feel like girl was a superfluous word there.

So, with that in mind, when WordPress told me was open, I went for it. Not only because I felt like I didn’t need to include the word girl anymore, but because it just felt right. was one of the original domains I went for and couldn’t get.

I don’t know. It’s a good change, and I’m glad about it. Anyway, hopefully the new url will get me more traffic. Maybe I should actually write more…

In the depths of a gmail inbox, Palm Tree Head

Hello all,

I recently found this while cleaning out my gmail inbox. It’s a piece I did in Maya while I was going to college. I simply call it PalmTreeHead. I really liked it, so I thought I would share.



The side view of what at first glance is a tropical island, at second glace, a person's face

The World in Low Res Night Vision

After joining RTS Paranormal and giving ghosts tours on the USS Salem, I bought myself a toy. What was the toy you ask?

A pair of low res, picture and video taking, night vision goggles. Since buying them, I’ve decided to start a picture journal of the experience. Here are the first batch of pictures- enjoy! And yes, these pictures were taken in complete darkness! Pictures down below individually in case you hate slide shows.

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Protected: The Pink Haired Ghost Hunter

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Oh, hey blog. Sup?

So, it’s the same story that happens all the time. I go, make some blog posts… promise I will be back soon… then disappear for a couple months.

But really, if you’re actually subscribed to my blog, you’re not really surprised.

So, I plan on making a couple short catch up posts on various topics, starting with this one.

Alright, so last I left everyone I had decided to move across the country to start my new job as Senior QA at Irrational Games. So, how is that going? Well, awesomely. I love my job. I love working on Bioshock Infinite. The studio is awesome, and we just released this awesome trailer (click the link and it will go full screen. The player isn’t WordPress friendly)-

Additionally, my desk is next to the audio room, and every once in a while I can hear what they are working on, and the emails I’m typing suddenly seem much more epic.

Also, we have our holiday part this Saturday, and I am super pumped about it. Oh! And my desk is decorated with Christmas lights, too.

Jeff pointing to Tara's pink hair in excitementI’ve also dyed my hair pink. It wasn’t really on purpose. I sort of messed up and just covered it with pink dye… And it was a hit. So, I’ve kept it.

I also like Boston, and since moving here I’ve done lot’s of cool things, included getting stranded of the attic of King’s Chapel with the lights out.

Oh, and I joined a paranormal research group on the USS Salem, but that’s a different story.

And yes, the marriage is going well, too. 🙂


Oh! And yes, I’m madly in love with Skyward Sword and would play it all the time if my husband didn’t insist I do things like “shower” and “work.”

I’m broadcasting my move to Boston.

So, I’m broadcasting my move to Boston. Well, part of it anyway. It’s a fun experiment. We’ll see how it goes. live video from Ladie Au Pair on

Irrational Games, Here I Come.

The lifesized Big Daddy at the Irrational Games LobbySo a couple week ago, there was nothing more I wanted to do than post this picture on Facebook or Twitter.

It’s the first you see when you walk into Irrational. It’s life sized and awesome.

But I couldn’t. My trip to Boston was a secret, and only a handful of close friends and family even knew I was out of town.

I had applied to the Irrational Job on a whim. “Oh, how bad ass would it be to work there?” I thought. I quickly updated my resume and put together a short cover letter and sent it off. I mentioned it to my husband, and then just sort of left it drift out of my mind. “It’s Irrational,” I thought. “They could have who ever they wanted.”

You then, of course, could imagine my surprise when I got an email requesting a phone interview. I agree and it was scheduled. And to be honest, I didn’t think I had done very well after it was over. At some point I couldn’t remember what perforce was called. I was blanking on things I knew and got super anxious. The group interviewing me was on speaker phone and I kept having to ask them to repeat themselves because they were sort of muffed and hard to hear. I felt like I must have seemed bland and barely qualified.

You then, of course, could image my super surprise when I got a call asking for an onsite interview.

I was still in awe. And honestly, I panicked a little. I started trying to talk myself out of the job, kept saying to my husband I didn’t even know if I would take it offered. In fact, I barely told anyone I applied. Most people had no idea. And I didn’t want to have to talk about the interview if it didn’t go well. I was so scared I wasn’t going to get the job I started acting like I didn’t even want it.

And then the onsite came. I flew out the day before, and barely slept. I don’t know if it was because it’s the first night I’d been away from my husband since before moving in with him or because I had an onsite with one of my fav AAA studios. Either way, I was super tired.

Bioshock Halloween CostumeThen I arrived at the studio. It was so hard not to be a fan boy. I mean, flash back to last Halloween. I’m a huge fan. I got to see their awards and posters and that awesome statue. I was in the studio that made Bioshock.

In the end, I think I ended up being so tired once I got there and stopped trying to act like a fan boy that there really wasn’t a way for me to stay nervous in my interviews. I was just too tired. I was so barely awake, that I didn’t have a filter between my brain and mouth anymore. In part of my interview, I think I was chastising them for their lack of accessibility features. (Flash back to some of my first AbleGamer Reviews for Bioshock 1 and 2.) But to be honest, that whole day was such a blur I can barely remember. Probably not the normal thing that happens when they are looking for Senior QA.

After I finally left Boston (on a flight that was delayed by like 4 hours) I really had no idea what was going to happen. I wasn’t really sure how I had done, but I felt that everyone at least liked me. But getting liked isn’t enough to get a job.

So, I just waited. Then, just over a week later, I got the offer. Then 2 days after that, I officially took it.

So here I am. I’m finishing up my project here at Firebrand (we’re literally approaching our last milestone) then moving up the coast with the hubby and  starting a Irrational on September 6th.

This will be a great adventure.

Needs More Chainsaw Bayonet

Facebook for my family. Below is a picture of my brother, a Marine, with his gun. Click on the image for a larger view.

Photo of my brother with a rifle, to which the first comment is "needs more chainsaw bayonet"

Hello Kitty Car – Update 3 + Video Tour

So, I recently took a video tour of my car.  Here it is for your amusement.