Thoughts from a (girl) Gamer

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

Category Archives: Things of Interest

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!










Irrational Behavior

So a few months back, I actually got highlighted on Irrational Behavior podcast, which is put out by Irrational Games every so often. In my little piece, I talk about fighting Diago at Season’s Beatings a few years back. I was really excited to be part of the podcast. What was really exciting for me was I manages to do the entire thing in one take with out saying “Um” once. Yay! Go public speaking skills!

If you click the link below, you’ll be linked to a little media player with the podcast. If you skip to about 29 minutes in (like 29:05 or something) you will see the clip of mine.

Irrational Behavior Ep 9 – Click Me !

And to be honest, I said I hit him a few times, when I almost took a round off him. I didn’t, but I got close! You can see the whole video here:

And this was actually when I worked back at AbleGamers, so I interviewed him and everything. If you hop over to the AbleGamers tab, you can check all of that out.

RTS Paranormal History – Trailer

So, I’ve got a lot of footage to make another video with, but it doesn’t quite cover everything I wanted it to. I didn’t feel like it would  feel complete. I’m waiting on a few more things to make a full episode, but I didn’t want to wait for it to put something new out. So, I made this instead.


RTS Paranormal History

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m now an investigator for RTS Paranormal. Check out this video I edited for us –

I haven’t done much video editing, so it was a fun experiment.


The World in Low Res Night Vision, Part 2

So I did some more adventuring with my low res night vision googles. This time most of the pictures were taken in the radio room, and getting their involved a lot of climbing up ladders through tiny holes.

The other pictures were taken in the “butter room.” It was originally a walk in cooler for fruits and veggies, but was later repurposed to hold dead bodies when they ran out of room else where on the ship. It’s creepers.

If you can see my original set of night vision pics here.

Pictures are also shown individually below if you hate slide shows.

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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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A short update and announcement.

So, this is rather short.

I’ve been busy with my new job at Irrational Games (which is awesome), adjusting to my new home, celebrating my birthday, and then doing some game accessibility work. There will be a more proper update later, as well as Hello Kitty car updates coming.

But for now, I just wanted to make this announcement.

As the IGDA GA SIG Chair, I got to do some awesome work with Film Victoria, and helped them incorportate game accessibility into their guidelines for funding.


Here’s the announcement, spread the word!




This is just a nice email I got from Brad over at Film Victoria I wanted to share!

Hey All,

I just wanted to thank Tara and everybody else who contributed to the IGDA GA SIG content (top 10, etc) that we’re making reference to.

We’ve had a brilliant response so far, developers completely understand and are more than happy to include accessibility measures in games of all sizes.

Very pleased to be able to say we have IGDA backing the initiative! Can’t wait to let you know how the first round of investments go…


Brad Giblin
Digital Media Manager
Film Victoria

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.  Lol

A Waste of Time – Using Kinect with Netflix

So yesterday (April 14, 2011), there was an update to Netflix that allowed you to use the Kinect to control the interface. Now, I was unnecessarily excited about this. And I don’t have a good reason. It just seemed like the best thing ever, probably because choosing a movie with the wave of my hand still sounds so futuristic and bad ass.

But really, it wasn’t. It was pretty lame actually. Let me explain.

So, here is what you are presented with when you log access Netflix via the Kinect:

Netflix Interface when using the Kinect

Now- you’ll notice a few things.

Firstly,  I’d like to draw your attention to the text at the lower left hand corner. “For more choices and search, use your controller.”  Now why does it say this? When you are navigating though Netflix by using the Kinect, you can only choose from what is essentially the “Suggest for you” category.  For me it was a mix of the TV shows I had currently been watching, as well as movies in my queue, and some movies similar to ones in my queue or that I had rated well.

This means that other categories – including “Your Queue” and “Recently watched” aren’t there.  And that sucks.

Now, even if the Kinect interface did have everything the normal Netflix interface provided, I would still probably never use it. I was very much snuggled into my couch when I went to turn something on,  and had to sit up and get myself very much out of my super comfy spot to get in position where the Kinect would recognize me on the couch. For me, sort of defeats the point of watching something.

Even worse, navigation is slow. Really slow. Using the controller is much, much faster.

So, although I was originally very excited that I would be able to just wave my arms to pick a movie, the whole system and interface is very impractical.

So final call? Cool party trick, gets old after 2 seconds.

My Hello Kitty Car – Updates

For those of you who don’t know, I have a green Mazda 2 that I’m making Hello Kitty themed. In my last post about my car, I had gotten a Hello Kitty Mazda badge, a green window vinyl and a green bow for the front of the car.

So the updates? I’ve now tinted the windows and gotten a vinyl Hello Kitty design that goes the full length of both sides of the car. And, an adorable pillow. Check out the pics.

Hello Kitty Pillow

Hello Kitty Pillow

Hello Kitty Mazda 2 Car

Driver's Side Hello Kitty Vinyl on my Mazda 2

Hello Kitty Mazda 2

Passenger Side

My Hello Kitty Mazda 2

So, I got a new car.I brought a Mazda 2, and I love it. And I decided I should make it Hello Kitty themed. But not white and pink. I wanted green and black. So- here is the start of the of my Hello Kitty themed Mazda 2. >>UPDATES HERE<<

Tara and Max at Mazda dealership

Back of the Mazda 2

Hello Kitty Mazda Speed Badge

Bright Green Hello Kitty Decal

Front of the Mazda 2

Hello Kitty Bow on the Mazda 2