Top 5 Romances/Couples/Relationships in Sci-Fi!

About a week ago, I was asked by my friend Andrea (who runs things over at deflectordish.com) to come up with a top 5 list of sci-fi romances. I had some questions for her and decided to come up with just really memorable relationships in sci-fi, whether they be romantic or not. Although most are. Anyway, you can find Andrea’s list that she has provided on her site here! Be sure to check it out.

Here is mine:

5. Rose and Ten: These two perhaps never were romantic on screen. But man did they love one another. Their love was so strong that Rose tried to come back through the time rift to find the Doctor. But their love started the way all love stories start…an alien who looks like a human comes to Earth in a blue police box that is bigger on the inside and whisks a girl away and shows her the world. Rose is the skeptical girl who wants to believe there is so much out there, but has been let down so many times that she just no longer believes it. It is almost like Aladdin or something. Jasmine (Rose is not a princess, but forgive that) is jaded and along comes this dude who can fly her around the world.,.instant love. We get to know this alien, known as the Doctor, more and more and then one day, poof, he dies. But then, he comes back and is different and is hansom and funny and quirky and vengeful and all these things and Rose just falls for him. Now, that is nothing new. A lot of companions fall for the Doctor. But what makes this so special is that the Doctor fell for Rose! The problem is, when he finally realized his feelings, he was just a little too late and…well, she was gone. And the Doctor, as tragic as he is, had to move on and keep living without her.

Memorable moments: riding around on that scooter in the pink skirt, that last scene where he almost gets to say “I love you”

4. Wash and Zoe (Firefly): These two are far more silly. A perfect example of the Olive theory…two completely opposite people complimenting one another perfectly. Zoe is a battle hardened soldier, a veteran of the war, and a no non-sense type of officer. Her husband, Wash, is a clowning, laid back pilot who got the job mostly because no one else was available at the time. But he did have a long list of references. The two grew to love one another and were eventually married. They were the ‘classic’ love on the ship Serenity in Joss Whedon’s show Firefly. The two of them were brilliant together and fun to watch. The episode Wash question’s Zoe’s love for him over that of her Captain’s is still one of the best episodes that show had to offer. Zoe, of course, chose Wash in the end.

Memorable moments: the scene they first meet, Wash’s tragic death

3. Jim Raynor and Sarah Kerrigan (Starcraft): These two! With a love this complicated, and quite frankly, truly epic, how were they ever going to miss the list? A love that spans years and planets with bloodshed and war, somehow these two met up and fell in love. But that, my friends is just the start. Kerrigan was a ghost, a special forces agent who would go into hostile territory to scout and, if need be, nuke a planet. Raynor was a rebel, someone who was content minding his own. But then the war happened. And the Terran (human) race had to band together under the rule of Arcturus Mengsk. Mengsk betrayed Kerrigan, leaving her to die in a swarm of Zerg, an evil alien race. Joke was on him however, as his betrayal forced Raynor to leave the Terran dominion to find Kerrigan, who was now a human/zerg hybrid. Following with me so far?

Kerrigan goes on a rampage of revenge, doing all she can to destroy her enemies, chief among them, Mengsk. Her rage burns so hot that she basically kills off any rivals to her own army and then starts unleashing war on anyone in her way. Raynor tries to get through to her, and eventually, does find her. The thing is, despite the way she looks and the things she has done, Raynor still loves her. He loves her with all his heart and Kerrigan even loves him back. Which makes the last scene of the most recent game so heart breaking. Kerrigan finally, with the help of Raynor, gets her revenge on Mengsk. And just when you think Raynor and Kerrigan can finally settle down with one another, he looks at her and he knows she has to go. They can’t be together. At least not now, not the way the world is now. And he knows he has to let her go. And they both know they have to keep fighting so they CAN be together. A whole race of the universe will have to be wiped out first so these two can finally be with one another. That, my friends, is literally Epic.

Memorable scene: Kerrigan being overran, Raynor finding Kerrigan, Raynor letting her go.

(Nerdy tie in: The voice of Kerrigan is that of Tricia Helfer who plays Caprica 6 on Battlestar Galactica. Caprica 6 is on Andrea’s list making her the only person to have two different characters on our lists.)

2. Han Solo and Princess Leia (Star Wars): You know the only thing I have to bring up is this simple but powerful exchange:

“I love you.”

“I know.”

Wow. Be still my heart. Han the hansome rouge and Leia the warrior princess…these two had no business being together at all. But fate, or random events and choices, however you look at the world, brought them together. And, well, the rest is history. We all know this story, so just watch this and know that I am right on this one:

Memorable scenes: “Who’s scruffy looking?”, “Hold me.”

1. Admiral William Adama and President Laura Roslin: The slowest building relationship out of all of these, these two had to wait and wait and wait until they could not only admit their feelings, but until they would ALLOW themselves to feel these feelings. Adama was in charge of the safety of the fleet and every human left in existence  The President was in charge of making sure the human way of life was some what preserved and that we didn’t fall victim to killing ourselves. Those two tasks, given the fact that humans were continuously being chased down by robots trying to kill them, seemed like they would take up about 100% of your waking hours. But as there was starting to be some light at the end of the tunnel, these two relaxed a little bit and started to grow into one another. They even talked about finally finding Earth and building a small cabin together where they could live out their days. When Roslin was diagnosed with a terminal form of cancer, it was Adama who came down to read to her. And it was Adama who waited for her in a raptor by himself with no guarantee she would ever show up. These two were so damn heart warming and heart wrenching. Two people that started off as adversaries jockeying for control of the last remaining humans, figuring out the strengths and weaknesses of one another, then starting to grow together and finally starting to love one another. It was a beautiful thing to watch unfold on screen. Finally, as Roslin passes away, we see Adama content in life and start work on his cabin he promised her. Ugh, my heart.

Memorable moments: These two dancing at colonial day, Adama waiting in the raptor, Adama introducing Roslin to a thunderous applause.

Remember, your trip through space relationships is not done yet! Punch it over to the deflector dish to see more love among the stars!

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Top 5 Reasons The StarCraft Saga is Awesome!

Maybe you do not really need a list for this. If you have ever played the RTS (Real Time Strategy) game StarCraft (the original game was released in 1998, had an expansion called Brood War, and then the sequel ‘StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty’ was released in 2010) you probably know it is a wonderful game. Perhaps the best RTS of all time even. In fact, here are some quick numbers to back me up: It won game of the year when it was released. The first game has sold over 9.5 million copies world wide. The day of the sequels release, Blizzard (the company behind StarCraft) said they sold over a million copies. After day two, when they finally incorporated digital copies, they sold another 500,000 copies, making it the fasted selling strategy game of all time. In its first month, it sold three million copies! It has since sold 4.5 million.

The crazy thing? The game was also heavily pirated, reportedly being downloaded over 2.3 million times, and setting a record for most data transferred by a single torrent in only three months!

Alright, so clearly the numbers back up the statement of it being an awesome game. You do not sell that many copies of a game at $50 a pop if it stinks. Let me give you 5 more reasons!

5. Game play: StarCraft has something all good games should have: Easy to learn, almost impossible to master (I refer to this as ‘The Chess Effect’). The learning of which buildings can produce what and how much resources and time you might need to accomplish your goals is some that is weird to learn, but soon becomes second nature. The game seems daunting, but it is quite intuitive. Sitting down and playing the tutorial for 15 minutes and you will already get the hang of all the basic game functions…but then MASTERING those is something that I haven’t even done. Seriously. Check South Korea out if you want to get into the competitive world of StarCraft playing…

4. The Races: You get three to choose from. Sure, that doesn’t sound like much. But each one is so drastically different. There is very little that overlaps between the three which is so damn impressive. Each one has it’s strengths and weaknesses. It is like a giant game of rock, paper, scissors. What are the three races? Let us find out:

Terran: Humans. But a race of humans that spawned from a crashed ship. They are ingenious in what they have been able to accomplish. They are tech savvy, resilient, mobile and, their best trait, adaptable. They are able to adjust the easiest out of the races to new and different threats.

Zerg: Super race of large ‘bugs’. They are a hive mind type of race and they tend to overwhelm the other races with superior numbers. They are limited in a verity of ways, but once they outnumber you, it is hard to stop the swarm.

Protoss: Warrior race of alien monks. They are cold, calculating, and mysterious. They are powerful because they are tough. They have technology that far exceeds that of the other two races, but they tend to need a lot more resources to do anything at all. Not a whole lot is known yet about this race.

3. The Characters: Jim Raynor. Sarah Kerrigan.  Arcturus Mengsk. The Hive Mind, Zeratul, etc. The list goes on. The world is super fleshed out with a wonderful array of characters that are each so different. They are driven by different motives and all form alliances or disband them (often times by backstabbing) based on their current goals. None of them seem to know what is going on in the long run, and they are all plotting against one another. It is a web that is spun not unlike Game of Thrones. You are never quite sure who is good or bad or if anyone really is good or bad. They all do questionable things at times. But that is the best thing about characters. There is no black or white, there is only gray. These characters are Gray for sure. If you want some good characters to read about, look up these guys in the midst of a wonderful story (stay tuned).

Still a FAR BETTER love story that Twilight.

2. Online play: Whether or not you like 3v3 shared base, or 1v1 or even just the fun arcade games like Tower Defense, Starcraft has a ton to offer the online player. It also is probably the most competitive online game of all time. And yes, that includes Call of Duty games, Halo, and all the first person shooters. Alex Bellos of BBC said that Starcraft: Brood War was the best and most successful E-Sport in the entire world. Since its launch, StarCraft II has become a successful e-Sport with many leagues of ongoing tournaments with prize-pools up to US$170,000. Currently the largest professional tournament is the GSL (GomTV Star League) which is a monthly tournament held in South Korea. The tournament enjoys major corporate sponsorship and prize pools of over $100,000. Who says you can’t make a living playing video games?! If you want great competition, put down the controller and put a mouse and keyboard in your hands.

1. Story: The story, at its heart, is one of betrayal, love, duty, survival, revenge and many different people doing what they think is right for them and their races. Sarah Kerrigan seems to be at the heart of all of this. A Terran woman who worked as a Ghost (a unit that specializes in infiltration) who fell in love with a grunt marine named Jim Raynor. However, Kerrigan was betrayed by the head of the Terran peoples, Arcturus Mengsk. After the betrayal, the Zerg took over Kerrigans body, and the world has been in turmoil ever since. The game is a wonderful game, but it revolves around an equally wonderful story and an amazing fleshed out world. Even if you do not like Real Time Strategy games, this game is the best in the business because of the world and the story surrounding it. Give this game a shot.

Have you ever played Starcraft? If so, what is your favorite race to play!?

Video Games: Are They Art?

Books, paintings, photography, film, fashion and music…all of these are considered art. How come a medium that combines most and sometimes all of these elements is not considered art? I will tell you what, read this musing below and we will get back to that question:
8 Things Gamers Want - Image 1

Are videogames art? No, videogames are more than art – they are the culmination of art. Videogames combine incredible music that has been played by the world’s greatest symphonies, visuals that are comparable to the work of Monet, narratives as complex and rewarding as film, and immersive, emotional experiences that no other piece of art could possibly offer. For far too long, videogames have been misconstrued as simple “toys” by much of the mainstream media. Nothing but pointless distractions for immature children. But look at games like Journey, Limbo, Fez, and Braid – all incredible experiences, all driven by the imaginations of brilliant creators, all able to take the player on an emotional journey. If “art” is the act of creating something that had previously only existed in one’s imagination, then there is no reason why the world should not recognize videogames as art.

-Andrew Birdgman, Dorkly.com.

Seriously, this guy makes a wonderful point. And I could not agree more. I play video games for their wonderful stories, whether it be a treasure hunt that takes you to Shembala, or revenge on the ancient Gods…from recreating the Battle of Hoth to killing Diablo (over and over and over again)…from exploring a tropical island to exploring a mythical land inhabited by dragons…from fighting in a battle at the Seine Crossing to playing a game of baseball or football, Video games offer so much. And right now, they are getting even better.

Updates in graphics and storage have allowed developers to dive even deeper into the gaming experience. Ask anyone that has ever played Mass Effect if that game didn’t effect them the same way a super sad (or hopeful?) movie might. Anyone that played the Age of Empires games probably learned some history along the way. And you cannot tell me that at the end of every Uncharted game, you didn’t feel a little bit sad that you were leaving those characters once again.

I guess I just believe that video games should be considered art by now. They are no longer just little side scrolling games that “waste time”. They are every bit as engaging as a good book, TV series or movie. Hell, some movies and TV series are video games without the heart (yea, I am looking at you Once Upon a Time and Life of Pi).

Video games have ‘actors’ just as much as any movie that is computer animated (Wreck-it Ralph) and they have amazing stories to tell, just like any good book. The stigma of video games being “nothing but time wasters” needs to finally fade away. They are here to stay and should start being taken as a serious medium for entertainment as well as art. They even preform as money makers. The video game sales topped $13 BILLION last year. You want to know how that stacks up to movie tickets over the same amount of time? Last year Americans bought just over $10 Billion in movie tickets, which is A RECORD for that industry…yet, we have about 15 different awards shows to congratulate these people on their amazing art.

I think it is time for a change, and that change is to recognize video games as real art. What are your thoughts? Leave them down in the comments below!

Top 5 Board Games to Play!

Today’s topic is the top 5 board games! Board games have certainly advanced with age. I remember playing Sorry with my father and he would make the same jokes every damn time. Now I play much more advanced board games, but the concepts are still the same. An activity with friends or family that provides healthy competition as well as a ton of fun.

Today’s guest lister is Adam Boucher. He is a friend of mine that went to UW-Oshkosh but I never met him until I moved out to California. He is a fellow gamer. While we don’t play card based games, the two of us tend to battle in board games. I consider him a most worthy adversary and he has opened my eyes to new games and new strategies. I love playing against him. Adam also has his own web page, you can visit it here: http://urbancharlie.wordpress.com

Here is Adam’s top 5 list of his favorite board games:

5. Last Night on Earth – It has scenarios, encourages co-operative play and creative thinking, and expansions. Despite some people saying the rules are broken, my fellow players and I have always had fun with it.

Last Night on Earth

4. Bootleggers –  Head- to-head play with collusion and deal making encouraged, historical setting, easy to set up and play. Simple rules and simple execution.

Bootleggers

3. Battlestar Galactica – Playing includes team strategy and deductive reasoning, plus a lot of accusing and finger pointing. Also, I like the setting.

Battlestar Galactica

2. Arkham Horror – I like AH for a lot of the same reasons as  LNoE. Just a different flavor. The biggest difference between the two is that all players are on the same side.

1. Heroscape – This game is pretty open ended. You can play teams, or head-to-head. You can draft an army or prebuild one. It has built in scenarios or you can make your own. You can make your own maps. It’s out of print, but with the right amount of cash or creativity, new adventures are always right around the corner. Plus, I have sentimental reasons for this one. I can’t look at the the blue container it’s stored in and not think of my good friend, Tom, who I don’t get to see often enough, and I miss him all the time.

Heroscape

Here are my top 5 Board games (since Adam did his in descending order, I will do mine that way as well):

5. StarCraft – You might be thinking, “Why play a board game that is based off a computer game and you could just play the computer game easier?”…Well, the answer is simple: StarCraft could be modeled after anything really, because the game itself is sound. It is a lot of fun, the mechanics of placing orders and moving troops and building are all awesome. It tends to get a tad clunky with fighting, but most of the time it works out just fine. The games tend to be a little longer, but once you get the hang of the turn structure, the games can fly.

4. Small World – This is a really fun and really silly game. You basically take fantasy races like Hobbits, Trolls, elves, Giants, or skeletons (to name a few) and you conquer places on a map to collect gold. But the map itself is super small, so you are always stepping on the toes of other players. It gets crowded quickly and people tend to hold grudges. The game moves super-fast and can be played in about 30 minutes.

Smallworld

3. Battlestar Galactica – My favorite game where everyone starts on the same team, and then peoples alliances, motives and views of one another shift, often times quickly and harshly. In this game, everyone starts out on the same team, and then cards are drawn at random and all of a sudden, there are secret Cylons amongst you. Working in secret, the Cylons try to sabatoge the human players before the humans find out who they are. It becomes a race against time, resources and each other as everyone is a suspect and tempers tend to flare. A truly brilliant board game.

2. Sorry – Sentimental reasons, this was the game of choice in the Leinenkugel household. It is easier than Monopoly, shorter than Risk and easily playable by a kid over a game like Scrabble. For some reason my father really liked this game and I can still see him drawing a card and studying the words on it. Then he would carefully count out the number of squares in front of his pawn with his finger before going back, getting the pawn and bouncing one of my tokens back to the start. He would then look up, smile with that know-it-all grin as if he planned everything and would say, “Sorry”. He was so proud of himself in those moments.

1. Game of Thrones – Set on the continent of Westros, This game is my favorite because of how it is set up. It is a game that has almost zero luck factor. Almost everything that happens can be controlled one way or the other. Every choice that you need to make will affect the outcome of the turn, and then the game. This means that when you win or lose it was because of choices you and the other players playing made. It has all the strategy of Risk, the secretiveness of Battlestar, the suspense of StarCraft and the politics of, well, the politics seem to be unmatched in any other game I have played thus far. Also, the game itself really isn’t that hard to pick up once you start playing.

Game of Thrones

My honorable mention would have to be Star Wars Epic Duels. It is a super fun, fast moving game set in the Star Wars universe.

There are two lists for top 5 board games! What is your list? Leave it down below and feel free to discuss ours lists!