Thoughts from a (girl) Gamer

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

Tag Archives: Tara Voelker

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!


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. 😀


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.

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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.

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. 🙂

Wedding Pictures

Hi Everyone!

I just got the format for my wedding album back and I wanted to share it with everyone. I love it so much! You can check it out here:

Tara and Max’s Wedding Album

I do plan on making a video with a ton more pictures and the music from the wedding as well, but who knows when I will actually get around to doing it.

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. 🙂