I'm Game

As a typical teen of the 80's, you could usually find me at the roller rink, the movie theater watching the latest John Hughes flick, or... at the arcade.

I spent too many hours and quarters playing Ms. Pac Man, Asteroids, and my personal fave, Centipede. I'm proud to say, you could almost always find my initials on the leader boards. If someone knocked it off, I'd spend my whole role of quarters trying to get back on. In our little world, it was like being famous. Sort of.

At home, my sister and I spent hours playing Pong, later graduating to Donkey Kong, Frogger, and Tetris. Most of the time, I played with other guys. Not too many of my girlfriends wanted to spend a lot of time at the arcade or in front of the TV playing video games. They preferred to slap on some Bonne Bell lip gloss and Maybelline mascara and head to the mall to check out the boys. They didn't seem to get that the boys were at the arcade. Duh! Not wanting to be left out, I gooped on the gloss and followed them to the mall.

But I really wanted to be at the arcade.

Then I grew up and had kids. No more arcade days for me. But after paying my dues with years of having The Elmo Song stuck in my head, the kids finally grew up and got into gaming. I was so excited!!! Except for the fact that most of my favorite games were "retro" when retro wasn't cool, it was nice to have an excuse to play again.

But these days, we don't need an excuse.

Gaming has become a regular part of life for everyone. When we were kids, adults would laugh off our video games. But adults of our generation will push their own kids aside to rock out to Rock Band or kick some ass on Street Fighter. Unlike our parents, we get gaming, even if they still don't get us still playing. Just the other day, I was showing my mom Draw Something on my iPhone. She thought it was interesting, but before I could finish demo'ing it to her, she asked, "Doesn't this just waste time?"

"Yes, it wastes time," I told her. "That's kind of the point."

I love tuning out with a game. A few of my favorites to tune out with come from PopCap. I have Bejewelled Blitz on my iPhone, Solitaire Blitz on Facebook, and Plants vs. Zombies on my Nintendo 3DS. With all that playing, you'd think there wasn't time to get anything done. Actually, gaming is helping me cope. It's like Zoloft but without the whole losing-interest-in-sex thing.

Picking up a device or flipping over to another window to play a quick "casual game" between answering emails and working on articles or posts is a fun reward for getting my work done. Plus, it's a simple little pleasure that helps me get through the day. And I'm not alone.

More and more women are jumping into gaming. With the popularity of "casual games" on our mobile devices and the ease of connecting with friends with a quick game on Facebook, women are finding gaming a nice escape from our routines and responsibilities. But us girls are attracted to gaming for different reasons than the guys. Men mostly want to compete. Not that women don't want to compete, but as Melanie Morris of Ireland's Image Magazine found out, "Females seek something different in gaming to men. They're looking for coping methods, and they like the positive affirmations. It transports them to a safe environment where they can go into their own world." That's not to say that women aren't competitive. We just like the warm fuzzies of gaming, too!

I recently co-hosted a PopCap sponsored roundtable discussion at Splashes in Laguna with a group of female bloggers that enjoy a good game. Pop Cap is best known for Plants vs. Zombies (which I recently downloaded onto my Nintendo 3DS). We were talking about some of our favorite games and why. One feature we all agreed on some games is a chat feature. Being able to flip behind the game to chat with our friend/opponent is part of the fun. Most everyone at the table was only slightly familiar with Solitaire Blitz, but by the next morning, we were all tearing it up to the top of the leader board. Two weeks later, we are sharing virtual silver and bottles of rum with each other. We also have a private Facebook group where we're goading each other on for high scores. We're not a competitive bunch at all. ;)

One thing we all agreed on at the PopCap luncheon:

Recharging with a little play time is a really good thing.

So what games are you hooked on?

Disclosure: I'm one of the #PopCapMoms Group and a #NintendoEnthused Brand Ambassador. That means I get paid with cash and/or games. My mom STILL doesn't get it.

Nintendo News from Auntie Shoog

Some of you may know that I'm a Brand Ambassador for Nintendo. What does that mean, exactly? Well, the title Brand Ambassador varies from brand to brand, but what Nintendo's many Brand Ambassadors do is play games. Yep... it's a tough gig.

A few months back, I was treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of Nintendo's North American Headquarters in Seattle, along with hundreds of other lucky folks that get to play with games for Nintendo. My forty-one year old self was instantly transported back to the arcades of the 80s. The company tore down the old building and raised up a larger, greener, more energy efficient building. I'd show you pictures, but for security reasons, we were only allowed to take pictures in the conference room. And the conference room was AWESOME! Three rows of white, modern, living room style seating. Super fun!

But I can't seem to find any. Just know that it was the coolest conference room ever.

[caption id="attachment_915" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Real 3D Graphics... No Glasses Needed!!"][/caption]

Each of those living room settings was set up to try out the newly released Nintendo 3DS and the accompanying games in 3D. We spent the first hour just being shocked at the screen and taking 3D pictures of each other. If you haven't already tried one out in store, you have to! It's amazing to see, truly.

Street Fighter iV for Nintendo 3DSThen we got down to business. You know... playing games. My favorites right off the bat were Steel Diver and Street Fighter. With Nintendo's Gyro Sensor, I could spin around and play the game in 360 degrees! I'm a little bit embarrassed to say that I got slightly carried away over the Street Fighter game. It's really good for getting out all your aggressions. I might have scared some people around me. Maybe. A fun bonus to Street Fighter on the 3DS is that you can play an opponent when the Street Pass feature is on.

A lot of the ambassadors seemed to like the NintenDogs plus Cats game. I didn't understand the draw of cleaning up a virtual dog's poo, but hey... my daughter digs it, so yay for us. Going back to the Street Pass function, if you and a friend are both playing Nintendogs on your own devices and have Street Pass on, your dogs can meet. Not sure if they sniff each other's tails. Another game that I absolutely LOVED was Kid Icarus. Kid Icarus is about Pit. He's on a quest to save the world from the evil demon Medusa who is plotting to kill all the mortals. I was bummed to find out that it wasn't available to buy at that time, but as you'll see at the bottom of the big announcement below, it will be soon!

[caption id="attachment_918" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Nintendogs Plus Cats for Nintendo 3DS"][/caption]As we were wrapping up our big day on the Nintendo campus, the CEO announced that we would all be leaving with a BRAND NEW CAR! Just kidding. But we DID all get a new Nintendo 3DS to take home and let the family fight over. Mr. Jones and I decided that we should get a second to eliminate the arguments. Now the only one crying is me. The kids NEVER let me play! It might have something to do with me beating them at all the games. Except for the virtual dog thing. But now with today's announcement, Mama might have to go get one for herself!

So here's the news in a nutshell:

If you've been putting off buying a 3DS, you won't be able to pass it up at the new reduced price of $169! AND if you're one of the early adopters that's ticked off they bought it at the original price, don't kick the dog! As a reward for your impatience, you get twenty free games to download. TWENTY!!

And for you people that love details, here's the long version:

Nintendo announced today that it plans to drop the suggested retail price for the Nintendo 3DS™ system to $169.99 in the United States, right at the time that some new games based on some of the world’s most beloved video game franchises head to the system. The new price is effective Aug. 12, and obviously increases the value:price ratio even more.

The upcoming calendar of exciting game launches, designed specifically for the Nintendo 3DS include favorite franchises: Star Fox 64™ 3D on Sept. 9, followed by Super Mario™ 3D Land in November, Mario Kart™ 7 in December and Kid Icarus™: Uprising during the holiday season.

New additions to the features offered by the Nintendo 3DS include:

The new Nintendo Video™ service, automatically delivering short 3D videos from the worlds of music, comedy, animation and Hollywood.

The Nintendo eShop, a recently opened digital store for Nintendo 3DS owners that provides access to a wide variety of downloadable content, such as original 3D software, classic games that have been re-mastered in 3D called 3D Classics, Game Boy™ and Game Boy Color “Virtual Console” games in their original 2D glory, and more than 350 Nintendo DSiWare™ games.

To reward “early adopters” who purchased the system before the price drop, Nintendo is rewarding them for getting in on the action early with 20 free downloadable games from the Nintendo eShop.

These free games are available to anyone who owns a Nintendo 3DS system and uses a wireless broadband Internet signal to connect to the Nintendo eShop at least once before 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Aug. 11