Contributor Spotlight - Grant

Grant Kibler plays all the games, even the bad ones.  When faced with lackluster visuals, janky controls, or a terrible plot, Grant will dive right into a potentially crumby game and manage to find a great experience.  He puts this enthusiasm for oddball games towards a good cause as co-founder of the U-Pick Video Game Marathon for Charity.

For Issue One, Grant wrote about Super Mario 64, finding your perfect game, and feeling the stress fade away during a true state of flow.

Grant has also written several hilarious "reviews" of the video games played for the U-Pick charity marathons.  You can read his thoughts/ravings on games like Hyrule Warriors, Jackie Chan Stuntmaster, and Steel Batallion at the U-Pick blog. 

You can also tune in every Sunday at 4pm EST to watch Grant and his co-founder Stephonee stream all kinds of games at their Twitch.tv channel.  During these broadcasts, you can watch all sorts of fun, like Grant's speedrun practice for Super Mario 64.

 

Contributor Spotlight - Sarah

Sarah Olson is a bibliophile, yarn-hoarder and part-time gamer hailing from Boise, Idaho. Her favorite game is Fable 2 and, yes, she cried when [spoiler!] she killed the dog. 

For Issue One, Sarah wrote about Spyro The Dragon and her first experience with console gaming.  Even though she prefers fantasy vastly over horror, Sarah continues to dip her toe into the inky black pool of spooky games.  Originally posted at Games I Made My Girlfriend Play in October 2014, please enjoy Sarah's encounter with a rather iconic digital wrench.


Confession: I don’t play scary video games. I play for the escapism (Fable II), for the art and graphics (Final Fantasy X), and for the adorable burlap simulacra (Little Big Planet). Scary games are, well, scary. I’ve never enjoyed the spine-tingling shivers that arise from tumble-down buildings, whispery voices and fog that, frankly, has far too much time on its hands creeping around graveyards. If I’m going to kill things, I want to kill them with magic, magic, and more magic.

Nonetheless, my reticence to play horror games has not stopped my many game-loving friends from foisting them upon me. Every single time the same thing happens: I play for about 30 minutes, get to a point where my character is beset upon by ghouls or zombies or werewolves or something and I’m forced to stop being sneaky and morph into a frenzied berserker rage, killing everything that moves. Then, I die due to ignoring my life meter (see: berserker rage) or I die due to misjudging my location in relation to a cliff or well or landmine or some shit, or I die due to a dead enemy who is not actually dead, just wounded or faking it because he’s a douchebag who won’t just die like his/her/its (often undead) comrades. On the off-chance I actually survive the encounter, I’m so full of adrenaline that I realize I should, under no circumstances, continue playing or controllers will be thrown, tables upturned, fangs will sprout from my gums and I will run, howling into the night. Or something like that.

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If I had to choose a favorite among these least-favorite-of-games, it would be the last of the scary games: BioShock. Shortly after its release, my friend Adam (the most persistent of  horror-game-pushing friends), had invited me over on the pretext of showing me a new game. Trusting fool that I am, I accepted. Adam is also the friend who introduced me to Little Big Planet, Portal, and Flower, so my guard was down.

To be honest, BioShock looked pretty cool, more steampunk than scary. I should have remembered that this is also the so-called-friend who tried to get me to play Resident Evil 4 (nope), Silent Hill (no way), and the Walking Dead (what is this even). In short, he’s a complete and utter jerkface.

BioshockWrench

To begin with, the graphics in BioShock are pretty great. Add to that the creepy but fun music playing in the background, the whole world-building concept (a bathysphere? Yes, please) and the decently intuitive gameplay and I was ready to enjoy this game. But wait! There’s more! Of course there is. See, the catch with BioShock is the following:

  1. Your melee weapon is a monkey wrench. You know, so you get that real-world bludgeoning experience.
  2. You get hit with fairly heavy foes early on in the game, so if you are a slow player like me (as in, you like to search every single square inch of a room before moving on) you do not have the prowess or weaponry to fight such a foe. You either die or run away.
  3. Even if you run away, there will be another creature that shows up and who you have to, despite trying to reason with it, bludgeon to death with a wrench.

After killing about five humanoid creatures in quick succession, I calmly passed the controller to Adam, without even pausing the game, and said, “Okay, that’s enough murder-by-wrench for one lifetime. Can I go back to killing things with magic?”

 

U-Pick VG IV: Mission Success

The latest U-Pick Video Game Marathon for Charity is officially over!  For 48 consecutive hours, the U-Pick Crew played a pile of video games for a good cause.  We battled brutal skeletons in Dark Souls, struggled with mech controls in Steel Battalion, and slapped each other silly in GoldenEye 007.

After the dust settled (and the consoles were turned off), U-Pick Marathon IV raised over $5000 for charity:water. Thanks to these generous donations, 181 people in Uganda will have access to renewable clean water sources.

In Africa alone, people spend 40 billion hours every year walking for water. Women and children usually bear the burden of water collection, walking miles to the nearest source, which is unprotected and likely contaminated.  It is amazing that the efforts of U-Pick and its supporters (along with charity: water) can make such a positive impact on the world through the joy of video games.

Many woots to Grant, Stephonee, and the rest of the U-Pick Crew!  Huge thanks to everyone who watched and donated! Special thanks to the readers of Component, whose support and purchases directly contributed to this great cause!  Please stay tuned to the U-Pick website, Twitter, and Facebook page for future livestreams and charity marathons.  And remember, GAME FOR GOOD!

Contributor Spotlight - Shaun

Shaun Hudson works and plays in digital worlds.  His love for heavy metal, horror movies, and video games can be seen in his numerous projects.

For Issue One, Shaun wrote a piece about his first experience with Metal Gear Solid and its fantastically cinematic presentation.  He also contributed two great bits of artwork- one for Mega Man 2 and the delightful Metal Gear Solid piece below:

Aptly named "Call Waiting," this MGS artwork is available as a high quality t-shirt from Redbubble.  Shaun has many other great designs inspired by video games, cartoons, and (of course) zombies at his website, LocoRoboCo.com

 

Contributor Spotlight- Jeremy

Jeremy Morris is an avid gamer, preferring first-person shooters, Western RPGs, and fighting games. He loves Counter-Strike, Fallout, Tekken 3, and above all else, his adorable baby girl.

For Issue One, Jeremy wrote a piece about Halo: Combat Evolved.  It was Halo that brought Jeremy out of his single-player PC shooter cave and into the frantic world of multiplayer mayhem.

Here is another story from Jeremy's vast experience with first-person shooters.  Originally posted at Games I Made My Girlfriend Play in October 2014, this article recounts a very scary moment from the spooky shooter, F.E.A.R.


FEARCover

There are many games that try to frighten their players, anywhere from a general sense of unease to actual horror. Many of these games accomplish that goal, but very few leave any lasting effect on the player. For me, the game with the most vivid and terrifying images stuck in my brain was First Encounter Assault Recon, or F.E.A.R. (aptly named), a game about a black ops unit dedicated to the supernatural.

The whole game had an eerie feeling, and was best played with headphones in a dark room. A fairly large chunk of the story takes place in an old facility used for covert psychic warfare experimentation, so the game is rife with dark hallways, random noises, and otherworldly flashbacks to set the mood. There were jump scares aplenty, but the most frightening moments were always delivered in slow motion. Any time things started to slow down, my pulse would start to speed up. I knew something was about to happen.

FEARGore

One such instance still haunts me to this day. The whole sequence begins by following dead soldiers that disintegrate as they walk, bits just floating into the air and evaporating. That is creepy enough. Past these ghouls is a room with a skeleton on the floor, surrounded by a pool of blood and gore. “What happened to this guy?” You wonder. “I hope I don’t meet whatever bad mamma jamma gibbed him.” But you continue on, ‘cause you ain’t skeered.

FEARHallway

You jump over a rail into a normal looking hallway.  Within an instant, the end of the hallway is engulfed in flames, and directly in the center is a creepy little girl. Both girl and flames move towards you, everything dragging in slow motion, so you know you are screwed. Shooting her does no good as she staggers closer and the flames explode around you. You are well-and-truly boned, and may need a change of underwear.

Contributor Spotlight - Laura

Laura Middleton occupies the space somewhere between casual gamer and serious enthusiast. She loves killing time playing adorable mobile games like Run Roo Run just as much as she enjoys spending an entire day traversing the snowy lands of Skyrim.  

For Issue One, Laura wrote a piece about Okami and the challenges of an new undergrad in 2008.  She also contributed the gorgeous artwork below:

This piece can be purchased as a high-quality print from Laura’s Inprnt gallery, along with several other fantastic bits of art.  

You can find other great examples of Laura’s illustration and design work at her website, lokimunki.net.  Laura also writes about video games and their surrounding culture over at Games I Made My Girlfriend Play.  

Welcome to Component

Component is the realization of a dream: to make a gaming publication that celebrates the joy of a beloved pastime.  The goal of this magazine is to bridge the gap between players. To share personal experiences and individual viewpoints with the rest of the gaming world. To encourage others to forge their own connections, and share the joy that our collective hobby can provide.

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Each issue will have a central theme, and features a collection of essays and artwork on the subject of video games. Component is available as a print-on-demand magazine through Blurb and as an instant PDF, sold directly through this site. The editor and contributors of Component thoroughly believe in gaming for good causes, so 100% of the profits from Component will be donated to the U-Pick Video Game Marathon for Charity.

The first issue is filled with stories about our most cherished games. Some are first encounters where a lasting bond was established. Others are tales of transition, where these beloved games have stood by our side as a supportive medium. All of them reflect the wonder that can be found in moments of play and through them we share the happiness of a cherished hobby.

Games highlighted in the articles and artwork of Issue One include Mega Man 2, Super Mario 64, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Metal Gear Solid, Spyro the Dragon, Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, Pokémon: Yellow Version, Halo: Combat Evolved, and Okami.

Component will be released semi-annually, and the second issue has a tentative release of December 2015.  Please be sure to follow the editor of Component on Twitter (@gimmgp) for news about the magazine and related video game musings.  You can also check our Blog page for updates and other works from our brilliant and creative contributors.

Thank you for reading and please be sure to check out Issue One: Our Games for all sorts of gaming goodness.