Thoughts from a (girl) Gamer

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

Category Archives: Our Blog

The Things People Search – August 2011

So, one of the things that I can do on the admin side of this blog is see the things that people have entered into search engines that have brought my blog up or that people have clicked to get here.

And honestly, some are hysterical. Some are weird as fuck. So, I have compiled a list of the most amusing things I have seen searched this month. and if people continue searching odd things, I might make this like a monthly posting. We’ll see.

So for this month:

  1. “i am afraid of the zombie apocalypse”
  2. “how to tell video game girls are real”
  3. “hoochie teen”
  4. “why you don’t you like wedding slideshow”
  5. “online sexy game”
  6. “i have a zelda tattoo but i havent played all the games”
  7. “hello kitty tattoos”
  8. “banned for dancing in playstation home”
  9. “more scared of zombie apocalypse than death”
  10. ” “raychul moore” cleavage””
  11. “is dantes inferno the game for christians”

I honestly don’t know which is my favorite. I think it might be #6. They’re clearly worried people are going to think they’re a poser.ย  Lol


Zombie Tara

After I was done presenting at Otronicon at the Orlando Science Center, I decided to participate in Zombie night. Check out my killer face paint. Love it.

I got some more tattoos.

Also during my absence from Thoughts, I went and got some more tattoos, some more video game tattoos.

On my right forearm I got the one pictured below. It’s a quote from the Silent Hill movie. And although I think that last 20 minutes of the movie completely sucked, I loved the series and wanted something a little less obvious that it was a video game tattoo (since you know, there’s a triforce on my other arm).

What I absolutely love about this one tattoo is that it’s done in my own handwriting. I walked into the parlor, wrote it on the paper, and got it done. That was it.

My other tattoo I got is huge. I was torn on what I wanted… I had a small tattoo I wanted to cover… and I wanted a steam punk tattoo, pin up tattoo, video game tattoo or a tattoo with personal meaning.ย  I ended up getting Vasha from Red Faction: Guerrilla as a pin up. She has it all in one. The version of Vasha that I have tattooed on me is a mixture between Vasha’s concept art and what she ended up looking like in game, except her boobs are way bigger. Funny enough, I asked the tattoo artist to make them huge.

For me getting Vasha was cool because I tested like all of her mission’s when I worked on the game and would quote her constantly.


Where was Tara between GDC and Now?

So, I’ve been sort of missing since… Well, GDC to be honest. I never posted my GDC notes, and now they’re just missing. I had some video of my presentation… but I can’t seem to find what I did with it and I fear it might have gotten deleted.

My bad. I wish I would have posted stuff, because GDC really was an adventure. I got to see Steve Wiebe set his highest live score to date, listen to Will Wright, have my accessibility presentation located on the way to the room Sid Meyer was speaking in (which meant a TON of foot traffic that saw me speak), get hugged by Raychul Moore (who is, very amusingly, afraid if midgets), run into a bunch of friends from Volition,ย  drink with Seth Killian (CAPCOM community manager) at the speakers’ party and get assaulted by a bush at the Fisherman’s Warf. Over all, it was a great trip.

What have I been doing since GDC? Well, a lot. I’ve moved twice since then… and I’m moving again next week. This time to Orlando. That’s taken up a lot of my time that I would have spent doing other things, such as writing for the site.ย  And you know what’s really exciting? I’m moving again in like 6 months…

Anyway, I’ve also done some accessibility work. I spoke to some students at this year’s Interfaces conference (read about it here) and I loved it. I decided that students are really the key to the future of accessibility. It was great. Also, when I got done speaking to them I got to go drinking with some cool people from the industry. I even argued with Christian Allen (Creative Director of Halo Reach) on whether or not PC gaming is dead and if I’m considered a hard core gamer.

I also did work with my bff, Michelle Hinn. We worked on a book chapter together which I’m pretty excited about. I will keep you posted on what’s going on with that when I know more. We’re also going to be speaking together in London this October about game accessibility and presenting some stuff similar to what I did at GDC this year. I’m crazy excited about that because I haven’t ever been to England.

Michelle and I also started doing some work for her new non-profit foundation, the Pursuit of Happiness Foundation. Our website and such isn’t up yet, but it shouldn’t take too long. Our primary goal is to help get controllers to kids in hospitals, while also helping spread the word of game accessibility. I’m currently our VP of Industry Relations and head of the Orlando office. I’ll be sure to keep you posted on that.

To be truthful, my AbleGamers work has been massively slacking. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ But, I did just email Mark and Steve (President and Editor) and ask for writing assignments.

I have some other gaming related things up my sleeve- like becoming more active in IGDA, working on a game with a few other people, and trying to brain wash more students… but I think I’m going to save posts on that until they’re actually happening.

Where have Katie and Kristi Gone?

Well, they’ve gone to the land of adults to work and pay rent and stuff. So, we have to things to clear up here.

They aren’t gone for good. Right now Kristi is off having adventures with movies or something out east somewhere and Katie is busy getting tattoo horny wishing she had my bad ass rib piece while working a grown up job and making cash monies.

I only took them off so they wouldn’t feel pressured to keep up with anything. We don’t make any money off this and never plan to, so I don’t want to interfere with their real, that you know, do make money.

They’re still gamers, and still awesome and will be back to share their awesomeness with us as soon as they have the time. They still have their all powerful access to do whatever with the site, so they can still post when their free. They just aren’t gonna have their own author pages because they aren’t full time writers right now. When they come back to write all the time, they will post their author pages up again. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m not going to go into too much detail about what their up to, because I figure that’s something they can do on their own if they feel like it.

GDC Update 2

Mostly slow day for me, not much I was interested in seeing… big stuff starts Thursday. More videos to come.

And here is the controller I showed quickly in the video.I didn’t mean to cut Cammi out of the picture… she was on the far right.

GDC Update 1

At first I was upset that I forgot my camera cord… but then I remembered my new computer had a SD slot so everything was awesome.

Now, I’m taking videos through out the day, but I don’t have time to sit down and upload them… so yeah. Later today (in the evening while I go out to dinner or something) I will get them all uploaded for you.

Peace out guys!


And so it begins

Good morning everyone!

It’s time for my first day of GDC. I’m off to pick up my speakers pass and then his up some work shop things. I really have no idea which ones I want to hit up. I will most likely pick up the pass and see what time it is and go from there. Of course I will be having notes of all sessions I attended and maybe even some audio (I did bring a long a little digital recorder). Alright, and I’m off!


Yeap. Still moving slow.

Totally missed my connector flight because my first flight was late. Now I have 2 hours to kill before I catch the flight they put me on instead. At least now I get to eat airport Chili’s and fix my hair via webcam. Maybe have a drink or two.

Did my herrr

MMMmmm. Heart Attack.

And we are off to a slow start

Damn you fog, damn you.

I’m bored and hungry, to an extreme degree. The weather here in Champaign is crazy foggy… so much that my flight has been delayed… buy 2 hours and counting. I hope all of this speeds up. I’m completely ready to take a nap- and eat.

So, plan to check back in soon. Love, Tara

The crazy fog that is outside... I'm never boarding.

Kristi’s Blog Entry

Hey Everybody!

So a big fat apology on my end as I have been very neglectful of just about everything to do with this site. Unfortunately the economy has hit my family and I very hard, so being able to find the time to do anything other than try and make money is rare.

Chris (boyfriend) and I decided to leave Philadelphia due to me being screwed on college (yet again) and the inability to afford 1000 a month for a studio apartment. We moved in with my mom and brother to attempt to save money. My mother had just moved about 2 weeks prior to a semi-small town north of where I grew up. To say it politely, we do highly dislike this place.

I’ve never lived somewhere so racist in my life; where being hateful is socially acceptable. I’m better than this, but unfortunately it’s something I have to bare. Chris and I ended up finding work at our local movie theater in the meantime, run by our 18 year old manager. I’m sure you can all figure how this pans out. I would like to know when inexperience, immaturity, attitude, and manic depression over ruled experience, maturity, professionalism, and a positive attitude? Needless to say, I’m not one for tolerating the above. If there is a few things I’ve learned in the past few years, it’s not being walked on. Chris ended up making a mistake that got him written up. He did the right thing and fixed his mistake, but this added fuel to our manager’s fire. Due to her disdain for him she cut his hours. If this was all, well I could understand as sometimes mistakes happen, and sometimes there are repercussions for them. She then jumped the gun and explained to another manager that because Chris made a mistake, that I would too eventually, so she needs to cut my hours before that happens. Clearly, I’m incapable of learning from someone else’s mistake.

Well about two weeks ago my grandma took a really bad fall down a flight of stairs and broke her shoulder and was pretty roughed up. She has been out of the hospital for about a week now, but with the job industry so dog eat dog, nobody in my family is able to take the time off without a risk of losing their jobs. So I’m leaving mine (although I need the money SO badly, woo hoo!) and shipping off to Detroit for a few weeks to start and then I’ll go from there.

One awesome positive that I have to point out is that I’ve been interning with a lighting and film company. I get paid on some jobs, but for the work I do around the shop is an internship. Either way, they make being here in Lebanon worth dealing with. They’re some of the best people to work with, laid back, and it really is a dream job working with them. Unfortunately it’s so new and the economy is so dry that full-time work is next to nada, but with time and hard work things will pick up for them.

I will try and do more when I return from Detroit. So I bid you all farewell and wish you all have a very happy, safe, and fun filled holiday.

With love,


Mary Poppin’s Bag – The Prologue

by Tara

I don’t really intend to put too many personal blogs on this site, by I felt these were ones that I should share. For this particular series of blogs I’m giving a bit of a briefing, because I know there are some people who will have no idea what I’m talking about.

At the end of 2007 I had decided it was time for me to move out of my aunt’s house. Almost as the thought of looking for a place to live came to mind, a friend who I hadn’t spoken to in about a year posted a bulletin on Myspace that stated she was looking for a roommate. This friend was Kate(y), who I had met while dating Eric. Although we hadn’t spoken for a while, we had a lot of fun catching up and were getting along swimmingly. We talked about the details of the house we would be renting and I agreed to meet my other would-be roommates. I met all but one, and we all seemed to get along, so I agreed to move in. Little did I know that the one I didn’t meet would end up thinking that I was anti-Christ. From there things quickly went down hill and I began to write the following blogs.

Foot notes have been added to the blogs to clarify any other reference I made that people may not get.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time to keep writing them, so there is only a few. Some of things of honorable mention that didn’t make it into my blogs are a fight over the dishwasher, my food choices, drinking, loud rap music, a light bulb fiasco and the day I had to take Kate to the hospital. It’s okay though. Kate and I eventually decided that we didn’t need such a need such a negative living environment and moved out. ๐Ÿ™‚


The Mary Poppin’s Bag – or Do I Mean Candy Mountain?

by Tara

The following blogs are to be the chronicles of living in this house. This is the introduction to said blogs. I’m not sure how often they are going to be posted, just when ever I get the time or have an urge to write.

I originally dubbed my house the Mary Poppin’s bag. When seeing my home from the street, it looked small and quaint, almost adorable. Upon stepping inside though, the house seemed to defy the laws of physics. In all actuality, a previous home owner who saw himself as a handy man made several additions to the house, which could only be seen from the back. So, from the front the house looked like something cozy, but was, in truth, rather large, the Mary Poppin’s bag.

It almost seemed to good to be true, hardwood floors in decent shape, a wood and gas burning fireplace, tons of space, a good sized yard… and a deal that couldn’t be beat. Three hundred dollars a month covered rent, utilities, internet and cable. I knew that a deal this amazing only came once in a life time. So although I had only met one of the people who actually lived in the house, I went for it.

In all irony, the house has turned out to be more like Candy Mountain than anything. It looks like sweet sugary goodness, but in all honesty… I’m just waiting for my kidney to be stolen. (If you haven’t seen Charlie the Unicorn I know that that reference makes no sense to you… so feel free to watch it.) What is ironic about the Mary Poppin’s bag being more like Candy Mountain you ask? Well, Candy Mountain was the first cartoon ever watched in the home by Kate and me.

Actually, that night should have been the night that I realized that there was something wrong. After meeting all the housemates, Kate and I decided that we wanted to stay and clean some of the rooms in the house before moving in. The house had been vacant for some time, was filled with dust in addition to the creepy smell that seemed to be emanating from the basement. So, we traveled to The Dollar Store to pick up some supplies, then returned to the empty house to begin cleaning. No one volunteered to help clean any other rooms… and I doubt that they even had the notion of cleaning their rooms before they moved in… which they never did.

The beginning of the troubles really came with the cleanliness of the house. Kate, having lived with her mom who is a professional house cleaner, and I, having lived with my aunt who must have OCD, wanted a very clean home. If it got dirty (as we knew it would), we really only wanted to be sure that it would be picked back up before people came over… and thus the trouble began.

Error Productions is… well, in all honesty, I’m not completely sure. What I do know is that Nathan, a housemate, runs it and uses it organize house shows. Yes, the Mary Poppin’s bag is included in said house shows, but under the name “The Error House.” So, there was going to be a show on one Saturday night, here at the Error House a.k.a. Candy Mountain, and Kate and I wanted the house clean before people got here. That day I was actually just returning from my last trip to Btown*, and Kate was horribly sick… and the house looked like Hiroshima. Nathan had said he would cleaned but had yet to so. When anyone asked him what he had been doing all day he would say that he had been practicing for the show. What is truly interesting about that is Katey had been home all day and could verify that he had spent most of it on Myspace. So, Kate and I began to clean… and were livid.

There, the house drama began.

Mary Poppin’s Bag and the Electricity Bill

by Tara

I apologize since these blogs don’t seem to follow any logical order, but it is hard to make them flow chronologically since all of these events seem to happen in unison.

After living in the Mary Poppin’s bag for a month, our first electricity bill arrived. In the current living arrangement, utilities are included in the three hundred dollars paid per month unless the bills become to high and then the overage is split by those who live in the house. I think that our landlord set that limit too low and that we will be paying extra every month… not that I care. I can afford it and would rather pay the extra to be warm and have lights on and live like I’m not Amish. (Not that there is anything wrong with being Amish, it’s just not for me.) In any case, some of the roommates don’t feel the same way that I do.

Before I continue, I would like to describe the Mary Poppin’s bag in further detail. As I mentioned before, a previous owner found himself to be a handy man and made several additions to the house. The house originally had a two car garage, but our handy man saw bigger things than parking cars. The two car garage was transformed into a single car garage as the first addition was being born. His new living room extended into about half of the garage. The builder must have been feeling ambitious, because after building into the garage, he continued to extend the new living room into the yard behind the garage. Although, this home owner was rather crafty, even installing a gas burning fireplace, he was certainly no professional. The floor is uneven from the multiple foundations on which the room lies on and is the most poorly insulated room that I have ever set foot in.

No, I retract that last statement. Mr. Previous Homeowner also added a second story on to the house. The second story consists of two bedrooms and more attic space than any one home can ever need. These attics, combined with the paper thin walls, make the upper floor frigid. To correct myself, Kate’s room is the most poorly insulated room that I have ever set foot in, also the coldest in the house. The heating for the additions wasn’t clearly thought through, and because of such lack of planning, Katey might be warmer making an igloo in the back yard than her own bedroom.

After describing the Marry Poppin’s bag, I’m sure that you can understand having a high electricity bill during the winter. Despite all of this, some of the roommates are sure that it has to do with not turning off lights, instead of having an old, poorly insulated home or the house shows made possible by Error Productions.

In the Marry Poppin’s Bag (or should I saw Candy Mountain?) there is wood burning fireplace in the original living room, conveniently located in the middle of the house and the fore mentioned gas burning fireplace, un-conveniently located on the far side of the poorly insulated second living room. Now when concerned about heating and money, there seems to be only one logical choice.

If you thought that the wood burning fireplace would be appropriate because it is in the middle of the home (and in the properly insulate portion of the house), it radiates more heat than the gas burning fireplace,the chimney runs between the two upstairs bedrooms and stands a chance of warming those rooms, there is already wood in the back yard, or even because smores are fun to make… you’re wrong. The fact of the matter is that wood burning fireplaces are dangerous, or so my roommates told me.

Mary Poppin’s Bag and the Start of the War

by Tara

So, there is a war beginning in the Mary Poppin’s bag.

It all began when I cooked catfish on the stove. It wasn’t that I cooked catfish*, but rather I left the oil in the pan, and left the pan on the stove. Now, if you are thinking “But Tara, you have cats. You just can’t leave oil sitting out on the stove,” I say to you… it’s call a lid… which I had.

That night, on the white board that Kate and I had bought to doodle on, there had been left a note. “Do all your dishes before bed! This includes pots!” I didn’t really take much heed to the
note, I was saving that oil. I planned on using it again in the near future.

On the following day, my dear Katey and I decided that we were going to have a big dinner. We had noodles with mushroom gravy. It was my turn to do the dishes that night. Kate and I rotate our portion of the chores, you see. We understand that having days off are quite enjoyable. That night my blood sugar was a little low**, so although I put most of our plates away, I left all the pots out. It doesn’t really make a difference if I did it now or when I first got up.

I was wrong. Another note appeared on the white board.

Now, the next day I decided that I wanted to cook some fries, that being the reason that I kept the oil. As I being to golden my shoe strings, I was making some beautiful cheese sauce to serve them with.

Now, once again I left my pan of oil, in addition to my cheese sauce, covered and on the stove.

“Come on guys, do your dishes. They should be done everyday. This is getting gross.”

My response you ask? I too am capable of leaving notes on the white board.

“Kate and I take turns doing dishes. It was my turn and some of the pots weren’t washed because I was having a hypoglycemic attack and thought it would be better to go to bed. Next time I will a make a note to do them anyway and just pass out. Also, this white board was bought for Kate and myself to doodle on. If you wish to keep leaving your passive aggressive notes on the fridge buy some God damn paper. Thanks.”

This is where everything gets truly fun. Some of the roommates decided that since Kate and I aren’t capable of doing dishes that we shouldn’t use any of theirs and relocated them to their private cabinets so that were out of reach.

As many people know, I can be a bit vindictive and never go down with out a fight. And if for some reason I do take the plunge, everyone goes with me.

Kate and I decided that if we can’t use our stuff, they why should they use ours? We took everything in the kitchen that was ours and put it in our own private cabinets. Most of it doesn’t matter… such as the cups or plates. Some of things they are going to miss though…

…like the spatulas, the large serving spoons, the ONLY can opener, our silverware. With the things Kate and I own removed, they have a grand total of four forks. I hope they have fun with that.

Next time I get mad I’m moving my microwave into my room.

*Two of the roommates are vegan, so cooking catfish could have offended them for some reason.
** I was adjusting to being hypoglycemic at the time and would sometimes feel very tired if my sugar wasn’t managed correctly.