Gamer Gift Guide 2013

With a week to go until Christmas I thought this would be a good time to break out the gift ideas. Nerds are sometimes hard to buy for, and gaming nerds can be among the hardest (hir hir hir). If you know what games the geek(s) in your life play your task is a little easier, but even if you don’t there are plenty of options your gamer friends will love.

1) A Drive-Thru RPG Gift Certificate – Perfect for the role-player in your life, a gift certificate to Drive-Thru RPG lets your friend pick the games they want from DTRPG’s vast digital library. The GC is also good for the RPG Now and WargameVault pages, so your giftee will have plenty of gaming goodness from which to choose. Plus your friend can enjoy their purchases at the speed of light! Sort of. I mean because it’s a digital download. And far from being impersonal, a gift certificate to DTRPG shows you were listening when your gamer friend said, “Don’t bother buying me a specific book, I might already have it.” Speaking as a gamer, I appreciate that.

2) Dice – Yes, your gamer friend already has dice. But no gamer ever has so many dice they won’t appreciate more of them. And there are so many dice from which to choose: Chessex,Q Workshop, Crystal Caste…the list goes on. Or step it up a notch and get them a sweet dice ring from Crit Success! And if you don’t know your friend’s ring size, no worries; they have gift cards as well.

3) Magazine subscription – This is a great gift idea because it’s the gift that keeps coming throughout the year. And most magazine subscriptions come with a digital or digital add-on option. For general gaming goodness I’d recommend Gygax Magazine, covering a wide range of role-playing games. Or introduce your friend to the antics of Knights of the Dinner Table, the monthly that is half comic book, half gaming mag. While it does tend to focus on the Hackmaster game, many of the articles touch on general gaming topics and reviews. Plus the comic is pretty darn fun as well. And if you want to branch outside of the gaming realm, consider a subscription to a sci-fi/fantasy fiction magazine. For perfectly reasonable reasons that have nothing to do with me editing there, I’d recommend the amazing On Spec magazine. But I hear tell Asimov’s is a pretty swell magazine, too.

4) Tickets to your Local Con – This is assuming you have one, of course. And assuming your friend can make sure they’re free that weekend. But I know I’d be pretty stoked to get the gift of a free weekend of nerdery! Don’t have a local con? Then sign you and your friend up for games at ConTessa, a free on-line gaming convention. Then show up with food and drink, and turn the weekend into a virtual con/slumber party!

5) Run a Game for Them – This is especially cool if the friend is a constant GM in your circle of gamers. Give them a night or two off and run something fun for them to sink their teeth into; a system they’ve never had time to try or an adventure they’ve always wanted to play. And if you want to kick it up a notch, write a scenario or adventure just for them! Include people from their life as NPCs/monsters, make it about their work or school. It doesn’t have to be high art, the important thing is to make it as personal and fun as possible. Stuck for ideas? Here’s some 5-room Dungeons to get you started. While you’re there, why not sign yourself and them up for Roleplaying Tips?

Those are some of my holiday gift ideas. What are yours? Share them in the comments!

Odds and Sods

I have a few things that have caught me eye recently, that I find interesting but don’t really warrant a post all their own.  So today I offer you a bowl of my brain candies!

…that didn’t sound nearly as creepy in my head, I swear…

** So @Kiala wrote a piece over at Nerd Puddle about the Gamewave parody video that I thought was spot on (except that I disagree with her stance on the Geek and Gamer Girl video, but that is okay, we are allowed to disagree).  I don’t really find the video in question offensive in any way.  My best description of it would be “tired”;  Oh. I get it. Nerds don’t get to touch ladyparts. Ha. Ahaha. Next!  The real problem that I see is that it allows for only two possible reactions, really: either you ignore it because it is a tired trope that needs to be put down like an ailing pet, or you let the nerd denial fly (“Squirrel, please!  Man, I get so much tail you don’t even know!  I’m going over to see my girl, and we’re playing “co-op”, you feel me!?“)  And the internet has never really been a place where people ignore the things that bother them, so there has been the usual trollstorm.  All I want to say about it is this: it isn’t funny, because it lacks truth.  With the exception of nerds that have honest-to-god social anxiety issues, most geeks do just fine with the opposite sex.  So stop being lazy, and find something actually funny to parody.

** Science continues to blow my %$#@ing mind!  Especially when scientists are doing things like this and this.  When I was a strippling geek I would have punched you in the taint for a liar if you told me about cell phones and teh internets.  And now we are close to making gasoline out of garbage and recharging batteries with rock and roll!? (Okay, I might be stretching the scope of those articles a bit, but as Shakespeare always said, “Suck it!”)  And if that whole FTL hullabaloo wasn’t a measuring error and actually pans out, my Heavy Metal inspired dreams of flying through space in a garbage-powered starship blasting classic rock tunes may just come true! And really, isn’t that what science is for?

** I’m largely enjoying the new TV offerings this season, as well as the return of old favourites.  My favs so far are Unforgettable, 2 Broke Girls and Prime Suspect, but talk to me again in six episodes and those might change.  Easily discarded was Ringer, which is a shame because I wanted to like it.  I enjoy Sarah Michelle Gellar as an actor, but the writing and some technical issues have turned me off.  I don’t care about anyone and I don’t believe the situations, and those two things will kill a show for me.  Of the returning shows, Castle is like a charming old friend, and NCIS (sorry, Devon) is like the curmudgeonly grandpa that tells good stories.

**  This (below) has become my new Life Rule:

** Since I hung out my shingle as a freelance editor, a few people have asked me why I won’t do some free jobs for them, just to gain experience/exposure.  And I have a few good answers for that.  First, I’m already doing some volunteer editing for experience, with a publication I love and respect.  So I’m getting enough on-the-job training, thanks.  As for exposure…that will come.  If I work for free now, the exposure I’ll get will be, “Hey, here is a guy who will work for free.” And since I’d like to make some sort of living from this, that exposure would be counter-productive.

But here’s my big reason for charging: because I think it engenders respect.  As an editor, I am essentially giving you (the writer) my opinion.  I can’t force you to accept my edits; it’s your work, you can ignore everything I tell you.  If I’m working for free, you can just say to yourself, “Well what does he know?” and dismiss me.  But if you are paying me, you are forced to at least consider what I am saying.  And if you are my client, I am giving your work the attention it deserves because that is my job.  You will get my best work because that is part of our client/employee relationship.

At least that’s how I look at it.  So no, beyond work I have already agreed to do I won’t work for free.  But I can and will work for “negotiable”, so drop me a line and we’ll talk.

*     *     *

Okay, that’s all the brain candy I have for today.  Want to share some candy below?

How I’m Keeping Busy

When I was laid-off back in April, I had mixed feelings.  At first there was a moment of “I HAVE NO JOB! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!”, which luckily soon passed (sustained screaming makes my throat bad-tingle).  Once that moment was gone, I realized that my old job had made me…not miserable, that’s too strong.  It made me enervated; I would start the day with ideas of the things I would do once I finished work that day, but by the time I got home I was drained.  Not that the job (shipping/receiving) was hard, it wasn’t.  I was really good at it, which was the only reason I had survived through two prior rounds of lay-offs.

But being good at a job and loving your job are two different things.  So while I certainly miss having a job, I don’t miss that job.  Because of this, I made the decision to stay on EI for a while, and try my hand at some things I do love.  So here is a quick rundown of some of the things I’m working on at the moment:

Freelancing:  I officially hung out my shingle today as a “white collar mercenary”, providing editing, data entry and research services on a freelance basis.  You can check out my Rate Sheet, hidden under the About Renaissance Dork button above.  I think there is a “freelance office worker” niche to be filled for self-publishing authors, small press houses and small businesses that can’t afford a staffing agency.  And since I both enjoy and am good at editing and research, and am willing to perform data entry (can anyone be said to enjoy it?), I might as well fit myself into that niche.  I am excited about this, and curious what will come of it.

Volunteering for On Spec:  I have been a fan of short SF fiction for a real long time, and a fan of On Spec for almost as long (as I talk about here).  Shortly after Aluma gave me my walking papers, I contacted Diane and asked if I could help out, maybe read some slushpile stuff that was piling up.  She was gracious enough to allow me to do some copy-editing, as well as putting me in charge of the @OnSpecMagazine Twitter feed (which you should follow if you love Canadian SF and cool stuff like that).  I’m loving both, but the copy-editing has been the best fun so far.  I’m currently editing two stories, and one of them is in my favourite (though somewhat scary) stage, working with the writer.  I won’t say any more, other than you will love these stories when they come out!

RPG Writing:  Oddly, while this is the one I was most excited to get to work on, it is the one that has stalled the most for me.  I’m still working out for myself why that might be, though I know the fault lies with me and not any outside source.  But in the meantime I have worked up the second draft of a Pathfinder Society scenario submission, started the second draft of an article to be submitted to Wayfinder Magazine (a fan published/created magazine on Pathfinder), and am picking out three article proposals to send in to Kobold Quarterly.  I did complete a paid assignment for a game product coming out soonish, but I don’t know how much I can talk about it prior to it being announced.  So let us say I am cautiously optimistic about my future as an RPG writer, and leave it there for now.

The Blog: Well, you’re here, so I don’t really need to explain what this is.  I’ve wanted to focus on writing for a while, and the blog is a big part of that.  Not only does it give me a chance to sound-off about the geeky things I love so much, it has also helped me form relationships with other bloggers/writers.  And as part of my daily writing process, it does two things. First, I can use it to clear out the cobwebs at the start of the day, by banging out a blog entry, freeform (which I later edit and re-write; don’t worry, only the best for you guys!)  Second, if I’m stuck on something else I’m writing I just pull up the blog and work on that.  At some point that unsticks me, and I can go back to what I was working on.  So whatever else happens, the blog is too important for me to give up.

The Sorta Secret Project: Used to be Super Secret, but I couldn’t contain my excitement and told a few people.  I’m not going to give away too much…oh, all right.  Here are three clues: I’ll still be talking about geeky stuff; I’ll be working with a fellow geek I’m rather fond of; and it will start (as far as you are concerned) in February.  Beyond that, my lips are sealed GABBO!

And that is what fills the days and sometimes nights of the Renaissance Dork, padded out with role-playing games, television and the occasional movie.  I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into my life, and hey, tell all your friends about the white collar mercenary thing, eh?

Comments, in perpetuity, below.