Thoughts from a (girl) Gamer

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

Tag Archives: Tara Tefertiller

No More Excuses, Your Guide to Accessible Design – SLIDES

Hi All!

I had a couple people ask me about my slides from my session SO HERE THEY ARE. Update: My talk is now on the vault for free so I’ve added a link to that!

Slides linked as a PDF here – Voelker_Tara_NoMoreExcuses

GDC Vault –

If you’re interested in the notes, you can also open the presentation via this link to view them via Google slides:

I do want to make it clear that I hadn’t ever intended for my notes to be public, so have fun looking at all of the typos.

The panel I was on was also added to the vault for free!

Thanks everyone!


My Wedding Slide Show

So, here is a slide show from my wedding, with music from the ceremony (Halo 3, Zelda, Jurassic Park) and a transcript of the service below.

Ceremony by Matt Fear.
First off I would like to start off with a little something I have always wanted to do…

“Mawwage. Mawwage is what bwings us togethew today. Mawwage, that bwessed awwangement, that dweam within a dweam.”

Ok…thanks for letting me get that out of my system. I can now mark that off my bucket list.

But in all seriousness I would like to welcome everyone to this amazing event. The marriage of Mr. Max Voelker and Ms. Tara Tefertiller.

I have to admit…it was a pretty cool feeling to be asked to actually marry two people…especially when it is one of my dearest friends and the woman that he has decided to spend the rest of his life with. It is also kind of stressful…I mean…what do you say at time like this? So for inspiration I turned to renowned mathematician and chaos theorist, Ian Malcom

For those of you that don’t know who Ian Malcom is, he was one of the first people to step foot in a little place called Jurassic Park. He said…

“If there is one thing the history of evolution has taught us it’s that life will not be contained. Life breaks free, expands to new territory, and crashes through barriers, painfully, maybe even dangerously”

I know that Dr. Malcom is referring to the creation of the DNA engineered dinosaurs that inhabited the a fore mentioned amusement park…but his words actually do hold a special meaning for a day like today. Simply replace the word “life” with the word “love” and it goes something like this…

“If there is one thing the history of evolution has taught us it’s that love will not be contained. Love breaks free, expands to new territory, and crashes through barriers, painfully, maybe even dangerously”

How true is that? Love will not be contained. Love breaks free…crashes through barriers…

Love is so powerful, it inspires people to write, sing, paint, fight, and it is such a beautiful thing to see two wonderful people stand in the presence of their friends and family and declare their love for each other and their desire to grow old together. I hope that each and everyone of us appreciate the significance of this day.

Carl Sagan once said “For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.” Standing here in the Orlando Science Museum it is easy to see that in the cosmic scale of things we are small, but it is good to know that even though you may be a tiny part of the universe…you are a tiny part that has found another tiny part and have decided that being tiny together makes everything ok.

I was recently made aware of a slam poet by the name of Anis Mojgani in his poem “Shake the Dust” he offers some amazing words of wisdom…and I would like to share them with Max and Tara.

“So grab this world by its clothespins and shake it out again and again
and jump on top and take it for a spin and when you hop off shake it again for this is yours.

Make my words worth it, make this not just another poem that I write, not just another poem like just another night that sits heavy above us all.

Walk into it, breathe it in, let is crash through the halls of your arms at the millions of years of millions of poets coursing like blood pumping and pushing making you live, shaking the dust.

So when the world knocks at your front door, clutch the knob and open on up, running forward into its widespread greeting arms with your hands before you, fingertips trembling though they may be.”

You two are starting a whole new life with each other and I commend you both for that. You are, in fact, already doing what Anis has said to do…you are grabbing life by the clothespins…and you should do that every day of your marriage. Do not let a day go by that you are not thankful to wake up next to someone you love. Do not let a day go by that you don’t look at one another and say “I love you”…

Because lets face it…you never know when another giant meteor is going to crash into the earth and cause another Ice Age.

Then we exchanged our vows. 🙂

Games for Health – Game Accessibility

Hey all, sorry there haven’t been many posts lately. I’ve been swamped with life, which I will get into later.


A couple weeks a go I was a speaker at the Games for Health Conference in Boston. I know it’s going to seem pretty boring to most people, but it’s something I’m passionate about. Anyway, here are my slides from my presentation. The first half are mine anyway. 😀

*Edit* I was originally trying to embed the slides… but it doesn’t want to seem to work today, so here’s a link to Slide Share instead!

My Wedding: The Comic

This is a comic my friend Ali drew of my wedding. It’s pretty much spot on. 🙂

"Tara had somce issues with ber veil, which is believed to be the reincarnate of Nessy." Shows Tara struggling with veil. "Pouring the sands of time. Tara is a professional sand pourer... of time." Shows Tara spilling unity sand. "Bubbles were hand and kisses where exchanged. Thety made it our alive." Shows Tara and Max Kissing

See more of Ali’s comic’s at her Deviant Art page. More pictures, details and video of my wedding to come. 🙂

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

The Best Dress Ever

So, this is a picture of me wearing the best dress ever at the Zynga party at GDC this year. It’s all old horror movie prints. And it’s has a Rock-a-billy cut. So, that makes it Horror-billy.  There’s this awesome little store in Orlando, called Static which is where I got the dress.

I should really take a picture of the whole thing so everyone can see it, because it’s the best thing ever. But this will have to do for now.

Tara Tefertiller in her Horrorbilly dress

How to Make an Adam Syringe (Bioshock Needle Gun)

Tara as a little Sister holding needle gunSo, this past Halloween I decided to make a little sister costume. And although I posted how to make this super quick costume, I never talked about how to make the most awesome piece of it – the Adam Syringe. After a couple emails and comments though, I thought it would be useful to have a how to on this… so here we go!

Now, you have quite a few things to gather together, so let’s start with a list of what you need, and were you’re going to get these items. The list is below, and then I have a picture showing what I’m talking about below so you get an idea what these parts end up being.

First you’re going to need to gather up everything you’re going to need for this project:

  • Antique gas pump – eBay
  • 1 large pipe cap  (same size as the gas pump bottom) – hardware store, mine came from Lowe’s
  • 1 small pipe cape (same size as pump nozzle) – hardware store
  • 1 tall, thin glass jar – grocery store
  • 2 baby bottle nipples that same size as the bottom of your class jar – grocery store, Walmart, etc
  • 1 wooden dowel rod – hardware store
  • 1 can silver spray paint – hardware store
  • 1 can pink spray paint (if needed, depends on your baby bottle nipple cover) -hardware store
  • epoxy – hardware store
  • drill – hardware store
  • 1 bottle Gatorade – grocery store
  • plastic sandwich bag – grocery store

So, let’s break down all of those items become this:

Adam syringe bioshcok needle

Well, like this:

Adam syringe with labeled parts

So let’s get started.


Now, a large portion of the needle gun is already done for you because of the gas pump. So let’s go on from there.

Gas pump body:

  1. Take the large pipe cap you bought and epoxy it onto the bottom of the gas pump, as seen in the picture above. Now that’s done. 🙂

The Needle Tip

  1. Take your dowel rod and sharpen one end. I think my husband used a drimmel tool and shaved it to sharpen it. Don’t go to crazy on the sharpening… Mine was actually a little to sharp and I blunted the end a little bit so it wasn’t a hazard since I was taking it out and about.
  2. Once you’ve sharpened it, spray paint it grey to match your gas pump.
  3. Take your small pipe cap, and drill a hole the size of your dowel rod in it.
  4. Stick the dowel rod through your newly drilled hole, and epoxy the dowel rod into place. I think we had to cut my dowel rod to make it a little shorter before doing this step.
  5. Take your pipe cap-dowel rod combo and epoxy that to the tip of your fuel pump.

It should now look like this:

needle, dowel rod in pipe cap

The Baby Bottle

  1. Take 1 of your bottle nipples, and cut off everything but literally the very bottom.
  2. Take that nipple and paint it grey.
  3. Take your second nipple and paint it pink (if it’s already, mine wasn’t)
  4. Once they are dry, push the pink nipple through the opening of the grey nipple.
  5. Epoxy the nipples to the BOTTOM of your glass jar.

It should now look like this, the larger image has the 2nd grey nipple circled so it’s easy to understand why you pushed the first one through the second one….

nipples on adam syringe

Attaching the bottle to the gas pump

This is where it can get a little tricky. Take the lid off of your bottle. Look at your gas pump top. For us, the gas pump top had a pattern in it.

Your lid has to be very securely fashioned to your pump because it has to 1) support the weight of your bottle 2) allow the bottle to be screwed and unscrewed.  So we did the following.

  1. Observed the pattern on the gas pump.gas pump top
  2. Cut that pattern into the top of the lid. No idea how my husband did this part… cut up bottle top
    Spray paint the lid.
  3. Epoxy the lid onto the gas pump. Be sure that the threads face out so that you can attach your bottle, just like you were putting the lid on the jar.

Now- a word of warning.

If you have a better idea than epoxy, or know how to weld… do that. Because we learned something very important.

Gatorade eats through water proof epoxy if it’s given enough time to do so.  It took like 12 hours.

If you don’t have an alternative solution, you can do what we did after we realized what was happening. We took a plastic sandwich bad and epoxied that to the lid to create a water tight seal to keep the Gatorade and epoxy apart. We also don’t leave it sitting around with Gatorade in it.

Final Steps

  1. Fill your jar with Gatorade.
  2. Screw your jar onto the top, which is now attached to the gas pump.
  3. Be Awesome.

Hope this was helpful!

Tara featured in the IGDA Perspectives Newsletter

So, as any one who has taken the time to read my about me page knows, I’m an active member of the IGDA (International Game Developers Association) and the chairperson for the IGDA Game Accessibility Special Interest Group Chairperson.

And when I talk about I’m too busy to post or do reviews, I really mean I’m too busy to post or do reviews. And I’m probably doing something IGDA related… or drinking… or getting ready for my wedding next month… or working…. but either way, I’m busy.

But this was a chance for me to share with you guys some of the work I do when I’m not on here.

This past month I was both a featured member of the IGDA and I had an article about some of my game accessibility work in the IGDA’s March newsletter. The link below goes to the PDF. The member highlight is on page 9 and the article is on page 20.



Here are some illegible screen shots in case you don’t want to view the pdf for some reason.

Tara's member spot light in the IDGA newsletter

Tara's member spot light in the IDGA newsletter

Tara's IGDA article.

Tara's IGDA article.

Destroy All Humans: Path of Furon – You still haunt me.

So, I (Tara) walked into Gamestop over the weekend just to see if there was anything that caught my eye. Not necessarily buy anything, just window shop if you will. That’s when I saw this:

Destroy All Humans: Path of Furon with a $40 price tag

The worst game ever with a $40 price tag


Now you may be asking yourself, “Why did she take a picture of this game?” Firstly, this game and I go way back. As you may or may not know, Destroy All Humans: Path of Furon was my first title I ever worked on. Ever.  That’s right, you can go right now and pick up this $40 copy and see my name in the credits if you want. Although I suggest you don’t.

Secondly, this is the worst game ever. It’s horrible. The jokes are bad. The story sucks. The gameplay is lack luster. The art is atrocious. There is no online. There is no multiplayer. There was never DLC. The game crashes… I could go on.

Thirdly, this game – THE WORST GAME EVER – which is like 3 years old by this point… IS MARKED AT $40.

Let’s do a comparison:

  • Halo: Reach is marked at $45.  So it’s only $5 more and way newer and more popular.
  • Resident Evil 5 is marked for $23.  So, it’s a way better game, and almost half as much.
  • Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is marked for $40… the same price and clearly the better game.

Once again… I could go on.

I was floored. I decided to ask the guy working why this game, which is clearly horrible, was matched price-wise with games people would actually want to buy. The response?

“No one bought it when it came out. So, no one is trading it back in. And that makes it a rare game to find. Since it’s rare, we charge more for it.”

So there you have it. DAH: Path of Furon is now a rare game. Kind of makes me wish I wouldn’t have given my copy away to my little brother. 🙂 If only I had known.

Oh well. It’s still all really funny. I hope you aren’t someone unfortunate enough to have a copy of this game. But hey, if you do, send it to me and I can autograph it for you, haha.





Day 1 of GDC 2011


After a day of horrible flights (including and awesome 5 hour layover in LA – never fly united), making new friends in the terminal and a very awkward laid out hotel, I’m finally here.

Also, thank god for speaker’s registration. While the normal line is literally out the door, I’m already inside. 🙂

So, most posts will likely be from my phone. Sorry they’re short.

Here we go! 

GDC Diary 2/25/11

Well, yesterday I listed off the very long list of things I needed to get done before heading off to GDC. Guess how many of those things got done?

1 of them.

So yesterday was the launch of the space Shuttle Discovery. It was the ship’s last mission and it’s the oldest ship in the NASA fleet.  Because of that, there was something insane like 40,000 people flocking to the Cape Canaveral/ Cocoa Beach area. I work in Merrit Island. Here’s a reference image.

So, as you may notice- all traffic goes write by my work on the way to the beach. Also, that road, 520, is the road everyone takes to get back to Orlando. Myself included. So my 45 minute drive home from work turned into a 2 1/2 hour ride home from work after I already stayed at work over an hour late.

That sucked. Although I did get this cool video:

Discovery taking off, as seen by everyone at Firebrand Games (where I work). Looks a lot bigger in person. We could hear it, but you can’t hear it in the video over the wind.

Anyway, so that only that got finished was my business card design, which I like a lot. After I get them printed I will take a picture of one so you can see it. Hopefully things will be a little more productive today. Although I doubt it. I will likely just throw in laundry and go out drinking and cram everything in tomorrow instead.

Haters Gonna Hate, Revisiting Raychul Moore

So, it’s funny how things come full circle.

Raychul Moore

In one of my original blog posts –  Sex Sells, I ripped on Raychul Moore. I went so far as to say some of her work “sickened” me.  I was pretty harsh. Now, the point of the post wasn’t really about Raychul herself, but about people who have no opinions on topics but use their bodies as a means to get attention.  I was talking about girls flashing their chests while the girls who have interesting things to say get completely over looked.  And that kind of thing still gets me.

So why am I talking about going full circle? Well, I’m  coming to the defense of Raychul Moore. When I made my blog post, my feelings at the time was Raychul knew little about video games and was some horrible person who realized her writing talent was sub par and couldn’t get a job with out some cleavage and took the fact she had ample to her advantage.  Since then, I’ve met Raychul in person. We became Facebook friends,  went out to dinner together and we’re even meeting up at GDC next week. Since taking the time to know the real Raychul, and not the Raychul I thought she was via image search, I’ve learned something. Raychul totally loves video games. And sometimes I think she’s a much bigger nerd than I am.

Tara, former Hater

I no longer think she’s out there just slutting it up for fame or money.  She likes gaming, she likes cosplay, and likes having her picture taken. It gets a lot of attention from gamer guys. And girls are caddy. So, people like me, who assumed she was just some bimbo looking for attention, attacked her.  Not cool. And Raychul knows that I think it wasn’t cool of me to be so judgemental.

Do I always agree with her reviews? No. Do I always like her writing? No. Does she rock a Cami costume well? Of course. If  Raychul and I lived in the same place would we be like BFF? Probably not. Does this make her some bitch who is trying to use her boobs for fame and power? No.

So, why bring this up now? This was all sort of resolved a while ago for me and Raychul. Well, because Raychul was going to be going on a podcast, and was excited about it. I saw her post it on her Facebook and everything. Then, I saw her post made today:

“Haters gotta hate. Just wish they would stop hating on me.”

The link goes to the show she was going to be on. They did a preview of her. Or really, went her her website and made all the same assumptions I did, but did it worse.

How did they do it worse you say?

  • I was only one person, they had four.
  • She was going to be a guest on their show.
  • When they asked her to be on, they did not mention ripping apart her resume as part of the program.
  • I spent one page complaining about Raychul. They spent over 10 minutes.

It’s really just bad form. There isn’t another way to put it. When someone is asked to go on the o’Reilly Factor, they know what they’re in for. When you ask someone who makes their living by talking about video games to talk with you about video games on their show, they don’t expect to have the person who invited them make an entire segment where the host pretty much call them stupid. That just breeds bad vibes. So boo on them.

I guess I’m just saying this was really unnecessary. I feel if they had brought all of this up while Raychul was there, it would have been one thing. But they didn’t. They pretty much just made their audience biased against her by calling her stupid before coming on. Maybe these guys are just taking queues from Fox News.

Anyway, I think I wanted to post this because the girl on the show, Candice, very much made it seem like any *real* girl gamer would totally be appalled by Raychul. And I’m here to say I’m not. I’m having dinner with her next week.

Ladie Au Pair vs Daigo

So this is actually something old that I hadn’t posted for some reason. Back when I covered Season’s Beatings for AbleGamers, I got to play Japanese Street Fighter Champion Daigo Umehara. So, if you guys are Street Fighter fans, check me out. I loose. 🙂

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.

GameSpot Covers Tara at GDC

I know that this is old now… but better late than never!

GameSpot covered my session at GDC…

“Conventional controllers, like those found on the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3, work if you have the mobility to use them. For those unable to maneuver joysticks or reach out of the way buttons, gaming turns into a MacGyver-esque learning experience. Tara Lynn Tefertiller, an accessibility advocate, came to GDC 2010 to demonstrate a few of the ways disabled gamers have had to improvise with controllers to play their favorite games.”

Read the rest and check out some pictures here!