Event Review: Sci-Fi Weekender 2013

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Introduction: Why We Went

I am relatively new to conventions. I dislike crowds and noise, so they aught to be the very embodiment of a place where I would not want to be under any circumstances. However, I actually find them to be quite fun. Once or twice a year, I “let down my hair” and attend gatherings of geeks and Guests, partake in Workshops, listen to Talks, play games, watch films, and generally have a good time.

I had heard a lot of amazing things about The Sci-Fi Weekender, and I decided that, in all my capacities as fan, journalist, and photographer, I absolutely had to attend this year.

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WANTED: Your Housing Experiences And Opinions

THE PITCH
Housing is becoming a big problem within the UK. There are more people than there are homes, a ridiculous amount of people claiming Housing Benefit to claim their rent, record numbers of homeless living on our streets, “slumlords” and Estate Agents cashing-in on people’s desperation, and of course the Housing Benefit restrictions now coming into play.

I want to write about all of these things, and more.

WHY?
I want to spread awareness of the positives, and more importantly, the negatives. The aim is that people will read the facts, figures, and opinions that I will be writing about, and they will be inspired to take action, partaking in charity campaigns, signing petitions, etc, to try and fight back against the difficulties I will be writing about.

MY INSPIRATION
I have been inspired by my own recent experiences and those of my friends and family, changes being made to the system, and by fellow journalist Lord Matt of Thanet Star (see ‘Further Reading’ below) who recently blogged about housing problems in Thanet, where we reside.

I can really see this being a series of articles, rather than just one. There are a lot of things to be covered!

HOW YOU CAN HELP
I am writing an article regarding landlords, estate agents, Housing Benefit, council housing, etc, etc, etc, and I want YOUR experiences, YOUR facts and figures, YOUR opinions, YOUR say.

This is going to be a big project, I am going to be speaking to members of the public both employed and on benefits, several councils about their housing policies, estate agencies, etc, etc, etc.

Please, if you have anything at all to say on the topic, no matter how small, no matter where in the UK you live, no matter your circumstances, let me know.

Comment, or email me (contact at illisia dot co dot uk, or via my FaceBook) in confidence (nothing you say will be used without prior consent).

Thank you in advance for your help.

FURTHER READING / REFERENCES
Stamping Out Rogue Landlords In Thanet
Is Thanet Ready For The Immigration Of People On Benefits?

Mind Controlled Gaming Is Possible: Kickstart It!

Kickstart A Multiplayer Psychic Combat Simulator!

I posted earlier today regarding a really interesting gaming scoop that has come to my attention and, as promised, I am now going to share with you how you can be part of what could potentially be the future of interactive gaming…

The last few years has seen some major developments for console and computer gaming. Microsoft’s Kinect, Playstation’s Move, Nintento’s 3DS and most recently Wii-U, have made the seemingly impossible, possible, as the ability to use physical movement to effect gameplay, or have games become more real, “jumping out at you” and responding directly to voice commands, etc, has become a reality.

Virtual reality is another futuristic technology making the headlines and getting gamers talking, but what you probably did not know about is the obscure technology produced by NeuroSky which utilises neuro science (the science of the mind) and things called bio sensors in their peripheral product, the Mindwave, which allows software developers to create programs – and games – that respond to the way our minds work.

NeuroSky

This might be able to change the face of gaming”
– Lat Ware, Programmer for Throw Trucks With Your Mind

Lat Ware

Lat Ware, “veteran of the games industry, and the programmer-mastermind of this crazy idea”, with his prototype.

One such developer is Lat Ware, a talented gentleman who has worked on some rather prestigious titles including Star Trek Online. Lat has seen the potential of this hardware and created a prototype/Pre-Beta game entitled ‘Throw Trucks With Your Mind’ and tested it on some of his fellow gamers to see how it fared, the feedback for which has been so positive that he decided to quit his job (!), and risk everything to Kickstart it into reaching its true potential. You can watch his “pitch” for funding below, and see footage of the existing product which he is expanding upon.

The basic premise and mechanics of the game are simple. The game is a “Multiplayer Psychic Combat Simulator”, the first of its kind in the world, which pits users against each other, or AI (intelligent computer generated players), by interacting with the world around them. There are no guns, swords, or any weapons whatsoever, except your mind. Your mind picks up objects, and combats or defends with them.

How? Users wear the Mindwave, which actually measures their level of calm and concentration much in the same way that a lie detector senses lies, and how you measure on these scales directly effects your gameplay. Players move around the world and select powers with a standard keyboard and mouse. Actions can – or cannot – then be completed, dependent on your ability to control your mind. For example, you can lift things with your calm and then you throw them with your focus.

It is easy to see how critics and fans have drawn comparison with the Jedi powers of Star Wars.

Character designs

Throw Trucks With Your Mind will be compatible with both Windows and Mac computers, will be a light-hearted, amusing thirty-six person multiplayer experience, and include game modes such as ‘Capture The Fridge’, ‘King Of The Hill’ and ‘Hunt The Hunters’.

The Mindwave headset is a $79.99 (there are Australian and European shops as well, but please be aware of currency conversion, Shipping & Handling costs and possible importation fees) compulsory purchase in order to play the game, but once you own it there are dozens, if not hundreds of games, utilities and Apps available to download – both free or purchased – with it, and if you are a games developer yourself, you have a new piece of hardware to experiment with…

Throw Trucks With Your Mind Limited Edition Kickstarter Poster

$15 minimum donations receive a copy of this Limited Edition poster

Kickstarters get some impressive incentives for contributing funding, from something as simple as Special Thanks ($5 minimum) in the game credits to free Mindwave headsets ($125 minimum) to actually being able to have your own objects ($200 minimum) or character designs ($1,000 minimum) included in the finished product!

The target has already been reached, but beyond the minimum funding are “Stretch Goals”, including extra game modes and online matchmaking, so the more money gained for this software, the better the end product.

Funding for the Kickstarter Campaign ends on March 14th, so if you want to become part of what looks like gaming history in the making, get funding and Share, Share, Share!

Further Reading
The Kickstarter Campaign for the game, with promotional video and lots of information about the game
Throw Trucks With Your Mind Is The Best Star Wars Game Ever, a Venture Beat article about a fan’s experience with the prototype (warning: explicit words contained within)
Mind Games: Using Brain Waves To Play A Video Game, an article from The Los Angeles Times about the game’s prototype, as told from the perspective of a ten year old gamer’s father

Image Credit
NeuroSky’s FaceBook
The Kickstarter Campaign
Venture Beat

If You Build It, They Will Come…

Today I logged into my professional email account, and I find a message in my Inbox from a games developer with a Kickstarter Campaign that he wanted to tell me about, in the hopes that I would give him coverage.

This is a really big step towards becoming a professional, and I am really excited by this.

My next professional milestones will be when a fan emails me in a “tip” or request, when publishers, distributors, etc start giving me games, films, books, etc (hopefully in advance of release) to consider reviewing, and of course, when one of my reviews or articles is quoted in an external source.

Kickstarter Logo

The best part is that the Kickstarter Campaign is a really unique concept and I am very interested in writing about it and informing my readers of it. In his own words:

“This might be able to change the face of gaming.”

So, three guesses what I am finding the time to type up today…

“Gig” overload!

So, after almost an entire year of writing and photographing, half the period of which suffered delays due to ill health, I am, as regular readers will know, “back in the game”, out-and-about again, and busy as ever.

I have attended two conventions in two weekends (one of which – GEEK – I received my first ever Press Pass for) and I have been networking my heart out at both, doing detailed write-ups, photographing hundreds, if not thousands of shots every day… and, apparently, it is paying off.

Self Portrait.

Self Portrait.

I am absolutely ruddy exhausted after all this work (including two thirteen hour coach journeys!) but, as aforementioned, “Nothing worth anything is ever easy”.

So, here I am, two months into my New Year’s Resolution, and I have been offered not one, not two, but seven, yes, seven, unpaid “gigs” for both my writing and my photography.

I know that unpaid is not the goal, but ultimately, it will drive me there. Last year I showed a lot of progress in a short period of time, and I was indeed offered paid work, which I turned down on principle due to my lack of experience. But, with seven unpaid jobs currently in negotiation for the coming weeks and months, I may yet gain the experience, Portfolio and references that I feel I need in order to accept paid work.

Variety Is The Spice Of Life

Worry not, non-gamers, I have not forgotten about you. There will be plenty of Blog Posts, photographs on my Facebook and website, articles and reviews, etc, in the coming weeks that are nothing to do with games.

Games have been a prominent part of my Blog of late due to GEEK 2013, so I have been aiming many of my Posts at that target market.

But, for fans of other media, photography, and more serious journalism, on the way I have

  • The Sci-Fi Weekender Reports, photographs and over-all Review
  • Photographs
    • Snowy shoots
    • Animals and Wildlife shoots
    • People/Modelling shoots
  • Reviews
    • Film
    • Games
    • Television
  • Articles

So, please bare with me. There is more to Illisia Adams than simply gaming!

Success!

I just noticed, I have succeeded in one of my short-term goals, having posted an update to my Blog seven days in a row.

And, as the research suggests, I am indeed feeling more motivated and more able to continue in my long-term goal of becoming a professional*, aka “earn money from my journalism and photography”.

So, on to my next targets…