Happy N7Day, Commanders. This is what Mass Effect has taught me.

*This post contains spoilers for the Mass Effect Trilogy*

I cannot remember the exact day I picked up a copy of the first Mass Effect game, but it was well past its launch date. Funny thing, at the time, I had only played Bioware’s Jade Empire and Dragon Age. I wasn’t interested in playing a science fiction game. It was a genre that didn’t grab me even though I did enjoy Star Wars and Star Trek when I watched them in my childhood. I always enjoyed fantasy more than I did science fiction. If I had a choice, I would choose Flight of Dragons or The Last Unicorn over Alien or ET (though I love the hell out of Last Starfighter). It wasn’t until a friend of mine pushed me to buy the first game. He said if anything, I would enjoy the narrative.

So I picked up a copy and I became a Earthborn, Sole Survivor, Commander Shepard who excelled in the Soldier class. I was confused at first. Who was Nihlus? Joker? Anderson? What was the Alliance? Why are these things called geth rushing me? There was a lot to process in a very short amount of time. I understood mages and dragons, not Turians and Spectres. I was familiar with the culture of Jade Empire merely because it was a culture that is part of what I grew up with. Science fiction was very foreign to me.

I continued my journey as Shepard and it wasn’t until Virmire that I felt my first emotional connection to these characters. The dreaded decision you have to make between saving Kaidan OR Ashley really hit me. I thought I messed up or I missed something along the way and this was my punishment. But no. You could only save one of them. Along the journey, I found myself becoming attached to these characters. I never cared much for DLC, but I purchased all the narrative add ons for ME2 and ME3. I wanted to see more of Shepard and my crew. Every character was developed well. They each had a story, they each had their reasons for being who they are, even the villains. Your morals were challenged and your emotions were tested. I’m not much of a crier when it comes to fictional characters, but I will remember Mordin’s story arc for the rest of my life. I didn’t care much for him when I first met him in ME2, but slowly, I grew to care for him and his quirkiness. In ME3, I cried my heart out. I couldn’t play the game for a good 20 minutes because I was so distraught over the loss of this character, but at the same time, I couldn’t have imagined a more noble ending for him.

It is entirely the characters who made this trilogy for me. The worlds are beautiful, the levels are amazing and the galaxy that the Mass Effect team has created is beyond inspiring. Hell, I felt goosebumps when Shepard was reunited with the Normandy. I love these characters with all my heart. They felt real. Their hardships, their successes, their love, their rage… these characters were perfect because they were not perfect. They made mistakes, they suffered consequences and they felt the impacts of war and their decisions. It is in this that makes me believe that Mass Effect is one of the most best games out there and it will hold up for many years.

Though the trilogy may be over, and we say goodbye to Commander Shepard, I am confident that Bioware will produce yet another string of worlds that we will fall in love with. So I cannot wait for Andromeda.

Last year, I was tasked with creating a video that full encompasses how I, and hopefully others, feel about Mass Effect. It was difficult to describe. But I began the script with “Mass Effect isn’t just a game” and my feelings took over from there.

Thank you, Bioware and thank you to the Mass Effect team for putting in so much energy, time, effort and sleepless nights into these games. Your hard work will never go unnoticed. I adore you all.

A tribute to Thedas, the world of Dragon Age

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I finally finished a video project I had been working on for a little over a year. In preparation for DragonCon 2013, my friends over at Tuatha Armory built a fantastic Tallis (Dragon Age 2 DLC character) cosplay for me. I had been introduced to a group of people who specialized in Dragon Age cosplay and every year at DragonCon, they hold a large gathering and walk in the official DragonCon parade.

This was the first time I cosplayed in a very long time, so I felt rather scared and lonely. Lance Hayes (creator of Tuatha Armory) wanted to take some shots of the completed armor and I thought I would document the project. I started arranging words in my head, mapping out feelings regarding my new cosplay and how I felt about Dragon Age in general. So I wrote a poem. I love narrating, so my main thought was to write a snippet about Tallis moving forward with her life as Tal Voshoth (one who has left the Qun). Lance and his wife Misty filmed a few scenes of me doing random things in the mountains and then I thought about the cosplay group I would be seeing in the months to come.

So I took to Facebook and asked various cosplayers if they would be willing to let me film them in different scenarios and they were very gracious with their time. I had a rough cut of the poem and overall idea of the film, but I didn’t have enough footage. So I waited until I could gather just a few more seconds, yes seconds, of new footage at this year’s DragonCon, and I am glad I waited. inquisition’s new soundtrack and video that BeatDownBoogie took of our group allowed me to complete the project.

Once I had the visuals, I had to write and narrate accordingly. This whole project began with my feeling lonely and then it evolved into feeling accepted by this cosplay group. It got me thinking about the Dragon Age community as a whole. The DA team at Bioware created this huge, beautiful world and it has been expressed time and time again that the team loves their community. They love seeing cosplay, writing, video and other projects done by the community. Our gender, our race, and our backgrounds never mattered to Bioware. If we had a love for Dragon Age, then by all means, we were encouraged to show it. And in turn, they respond with a love for us. That’s what I wanted to express in this video.

As a character in Dragon Age, we experience so much. We develop friendships and make enemies, we take down monsters and armies, and we gather people together to fight for a cause we believe in. What we experience on an emotional level in the Dragon Age games is not much different than real life. I’ve made genuine friends with the people in this cosplay group, so this is also my thank you to them.

I don’t know what my life would like without Bioware and without these people. I’d rather not imagine it because surely, it would be a boring life.

A Dragon Age Tribute

Gentlemen: Thank you for loving us as we are. Ladies: Thank you for being who you are

A little over a year ago, I created and launched a video called “The Thank You Project.” It seems like a good time for this video to resurface. My reasoning behind it was to show a different perspective concerning the unnecessary harassment women were receiving. The crime? Being who they are and expressing a passion for what they love.

Women were being treated in a horrible way by men and rather than fight back directly, I decided to find a different group of men who love all these women for being nerdy and geeky. The response I received from my male friends and acquaintances was surprising, overwhelming and nothing short of amazing to me. I even received the support from classy gentlemen like Aidan Scanlan from Bioware, Chris Demarais, Blaine Gibson, and Brandon Farmahini from Rooster Teeth, and one of my favorite inspirational Youtubers, Zach Anner. Everyone who submitted a vid was supportive, accepting and absolutely genuine.

Because of that, I also collaborated with some of my female friends to express our gratitude. People should not have to fear their passions or anything they love. If you love video games, comic books, cosplay, table top games, movies, music… whatever makes you who you are, embrace it. There are days when it seems the world is against you (like in recent weeks), but please remember there are those in that same world who love you. Just as you are. Support each other, love one another, and bring positivity and light into this world.

To the men who stand up for us and see us as fellow nerds and geeks, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

To the ladies who suffer from unspeakable harassment, this video is meant to give you hope and perspective that there are men out there who support you. Please never stop being your beautiful, sassy, empowered, geeky selves.

The adventures of Nugget the Nug: PAX East 2014

Meet Nugget the Nug. 

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She was a gift to me from a good friend, and I decided to take her with me to PAX East so that we may experience our first PAX adventure together. Whenever I could, I documented Nugget’s journey to Boston, and here is what came to be.

On our way to Boston! Wheeee! 

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Waiting for our ride to the airport!

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I don’t like flying, but momma is going to protect me! 

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Planes aren’t so bad after all!

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Delayed flight in the land of Chicago. What in Andraste’s name is a CharDog?

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Made it to our hotel! I wish I was a High Dragon. I want to flyyyyyy~

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These bath towels are comfy. I shall sleep here for the whole convention.

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Actually right here is nice. So much better than being underground! 

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Some friends came over and we wrestled. I won! Nug bite = -150HP

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This is a tavern, people! I’m too young to go to strip clubs. 

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Great way to start off PAX… *hic*

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Helping momma edit the Mass Effect Cast Cosplay video for Auntie Karissa’s panel. 

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Minutes before the panel! I was so nervous! 

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I did an amazing job taking this pic of momma and Auntie Karissa. 

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There was lots of good food! So much better than what I normally ate in Orzammar.

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The panel was a success! Achievement unlocked! Now I can take on the Archdemon!

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And since we were at PAX, we did some Street Passing. 

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One day, I was bad and hid from momma. She had no idea I was in Auntie Karissa’s suitcase. But I showed up the next day to surprise momma and hopefully not get grounded. 

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Momma forgave me. Look how proud she is of me! 

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And I got A LOT of kisses at PAX too. Of course from my momma… 

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But also from Luciano/Kaidan… *swoon* I’m his number one fan now.

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Since PAX was drawing to a close, we decided to go sightseeing. 

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I even met people who made me! Wait.. does that mean they’re my mommas too? 

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And then eventually, we had to go back home via Southwest flying machines.. home to the Sauron eye chairs. 

 

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I have fond memories of PAX. And I shall miss it dearly. Goodbye, convention center. Goodbye new friends. Until we meet again next time.  

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Feel free to follow along with my adventures! Just look up #adventureswithnugget

Hmmm.. think I can convince my mom to give me my own Twitter account?

 

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Take your place in the Inquisition – Practice Round

Hey guys! I thought it would be fun to record some practice rounds of the two scripts available to submit for the Dragon Age Inquisition voice contest. Please note the following:

You can only submit ONE of the two scripts, so choose wisely.
I recorded with Garageband.
I used a Samson C01U mic.
Make sure you drink water! Doing lines over and over again will dry your throat out.
NO SPICY FOODS (but God, do I want some Andy Capp’s Hot Fries right now…)
Do your best, take your time and HAVE FUN.

Go over the lines with friends or even yourself. Get used to the words that will be pouring out of your mouth. I had the hardest time saying “could locate” quickly for some reason. Good luck to everyone submitting a recording! And just know that even if you are not picked as the winner of this contest, your voice was heard by the Dragon Age team! How exciting is that?

Go for it! A fantastic chance to lend your voice in Dragon Age: Inquisition!

This week, Bioware’s lead community manager, Jessica Merizan was quite busy launching Bioware’s new Youtube Channel and social site. Along with the awesome new look Bioware is getting, the Inquisition team is also having a voice over contest, allowing Dragon Age fans to submit audio recordings or videos to win a chance to have their voices immortalized in DA: Inquisition (being released later this year). The rules are simple and can be found here.

Will I be participating? Hell yes. After my fangirl moment died down, I took a step back and wondered why I was even interested in this opportunity in the first place. Five years ago, I would never have imagined that I would allow my voice to be heard on the internet. Now here I am, almost impatient to record the lines needed for this contest. I’m not a professional by any means, but I do like to have fun and dabble in areas that are creative in nature.

Years ago, I was involved with the creation of a machinima series and we were looking for voice talent. It was a simple set up: here’s a script, here’s your direction, show us what you got. For fun, I submitted my own voice for one of our male characters, and it was surprisingly well received. I, of course, did not get selected as the lead male because I have a very feminine quality to my voice, but the project lead did want me to lend my voice as an A.I character. I was hooked on voice/audio work since then. Just for fun, I narrated my favorite children’s book “The Giving Tree“, one of my favorite poems by Frost, and helped out on a friend’s radio ad parody for a podcast. All received positive feedback, and it has boosted my confidence tremendously. For the record, I still dislike my voice, but I am learning to accept it, love it, and work with it because it is a part of me.

And this was all done because I just wanted to try it out. I learned how to use the basic functions of Garageband on my Macbook Pro, bought a decent mic, and pushed the record button. I cringed at the sound of my voice the first time, I choked on air, I swore at my AC unit for kicking on at the wrong time (that mic picks up EVERYTHING), and I barked back at the loud dog next door. But all of this was experience and it has served me well. And the best part is, I found another piece of myself to love through these experiences. My point to the wall of text above is if you are interested in something, just go for it. Who knows where it might lead? You may love it, you may hate, you may be indifferent, but at least you will have satisfied that curiosity.

If by some miracle, I am one of the chosen voices for the DA contest, I have my machinima project and my curiosity to thank for it. If I am not chosen, I am still thankful. Why? Because they created my confidence to try. And making that first step on a journey is precious. So go forth, warriors of Thedas. Lend your voices and conquer.