JESSICA'S JOURNEY - GAMING FROM A GREAT PERSPCTIVE

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Super Mario I'm truly proud to present to you a new writer who will be contributing to this site. Jessica is her name, and what now follows are her answers to my questions that I, must admit, am very happy to now show you in all of their glory. So it's over to you, Jessica. Come on. Spill the beans. 


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Mississippi 1) What are your own origins, Jessica? Plus what path did you take in life prior to getting to where you are today?   I was born in New Jersey and spent the first 16 or so years of my life up in this part of the United States. My father worked for AT&T and Lucent Technologies installing phone and internet systems in the World Trade Center, and worked crazy hours, making good money. It was really interesting living in that part of the country. We'd be right outside the Big Apple and could easily go into the city to catch a Yankees game or go and see a play on Broadway -- but there were many other things we could do.

A lot of folks who've never visited that part of the country don't realize a lot of this state is very rural once you get beyond the city. So we'd do things like go pumpkin picking in the fall, go get fresh maple syrup in Vermont, and one year I remember we went to Salem over Halloween and then to Plymouth for Thanksgiving -- both of which were really cool. So, in terms of now living in Mississippi, I'm a transplant. Having moved here while finishing up high-school after my father retired from his job. We had family down here and so that made sense at the time. 

I've got the equivalent of a 2-year degree in Computer Engineering, but my bachelor's was in History and my M.A. was in International Security. So, my "day job" currently involves the military. I'm a Lieutenant Colonel that currently oversees personnel, finance, and administration for our Reserves here in this state. But in my time with the Guard I've commanded a Military Police unit, done intelligence work, and gotten trained as a Military Emergency Management Specialist and Advanced Medical Specialist. I really do enjoy that type of work.

Castlevania
Gaming has been a part of me since I was a kid in the '80s, growing up with the NES, Genesis, SNES, Gameboy, and all of that fun stuff. Over the years, it has all become a collection. I rarely if ever sold or got rid of any game I've owned, so now I have close to a thousand physical copies of games spread across many, many platforms. Within the last few years, I've worked on sharing some of my passions with others (which I'll get to in Question 2!). This has incorporated founding my blog, working with several other sites, getting into podcasting in 2012, YouTube videos, and even jumping on board with Twitch early in 2013. 

My journey has been interesting, but difficult at the same time. I don't like being defined by labels and I like to think that in the 21st century we've evolved somewhat beyond them -- but I am trans-gendered. It's part of who I am, and while I used to not talk too much about it, I've really been opening that up to folks and being direct with it. Part of that is just that I know the difficulties that I face, and I know other people face issues of their own of various kinds. It's important to me to let people know that we are on this crazy journey together, all through the ups and downs. And, we can be really awesome, no matter what our backgrounds are. 

As a gamer, some of my influences came in the pivotal initial years with stuff like the classic Zelda, Castlevania, Mega Man, and Mario games. I really enjoy RPGs and also puzzle games too -- such as the Myst franchise. My tastes are varied, and change from time to time, but most importantly, I play what I enjoy and I'm not afraid to give a negative review to something I don't care for.

Live Long And Prosper
2) What inspired you to become a blogger?   My blog started out as a humble WordPress site back in January 2011. At that time, I had recently given up on playing Star Trek Online, but during my time playing the game I had a lot of friends who wanted to stay in touch. A couple of them who knew I was into a lot of gaming things, particularly niche things like unreleased games or licensed and unlicensed products, encouraged me to think about starting a blog to just get some of the whacky ideas in my head out on "paper" -- and maybe meet a few new folks.

From there, things just grew. I would advertise my posts on social media like Twitter and such, and engage people. I met lots of new folks in the process, and what started out as a site that probably 5 or 10 people read grew into a site that, last I checked, reported over 3,000 subscribers and gets a good number of hits each day, even if nothing is published.

From there, I just gradually got into different things, mostly as an effort to try something new. I got into podcasting starting in January 2012, kicking off Season 1 of the Gaming Goddess Podcast. Now, the podcast is wrapping up its 6th season, with now just over 80 episodes in the bag.

I also started sharing gameplay experiments with YouTube. This actually started off in early-2012 when I was participating in a charity gaming site called Iron Man Mode. The other members were just writing about their adventures, so I thought that since I had a pretty powerful computer at the time, I would record some videos and get them up on YouTube. From there, I started experimenting with other video formats, doing retro and modern stuff, and just slowly expanding the channel. Now, it has become pretty diverse and I get lots of PR folks, developers, indie folks, and fan-gamers that want me to take a crack at their game and record a nice HD video of the whole process, LOL.

And for Twitch, that just seemed like the natural following from video stuff :)

Gamer Poster
3) What can you tell us about your monthly column for this site?   I've given some thought to this one. The thing about a monthly column is that there is so much that I could talk about on a daily or even hourly basis, so condensing things down into a once-a-month column can be tricky -- but doable. I'm big into gaming, sure, but I also enjoy my share of TV, anime, movies, and other generally nerdy things.

For the column, I'll probably keep it diverse. I realize that readers of the site may or may not be into gaming as hugely as I am (they were initially coming to Comic And Movie Reviews for, y'know, movie reviews), and they certainly have not read or seen my other content, so this is a chance for me to capture a new audience and initiate people into my world of gaming. Some months I may focus on a meta-series like Final Fantasy or Castlevania, other times I may focus on some horror games that are pretty bad ass. Some months I might get into some canon debates about when games take place and all that fun stuff that fans get to blows about, and other months I may opt to talk about fan-games, really cool indie games, or unlicensed games I know about. Or you may get a personal piece recounting my experiences with a certain game or genre and how that has built who I am as a gamer today. And, from time to time, you might get a piece that is more personal in nature than anything else, about my real-life journeys, if you wish to share them with me.

4) What song would you say best represents you as a person and why?   The whole "What song represents you..." question is always a toughie for me to answer. Some people know real fast what song really defines them. One of my favorite songs though is "Smooth Criminal", both the original MJ version and the Alien Antfarm remix from 1998. I really just like the sound, but it also is asking if this person is okay. I feel like that's something we kind of need to do -- stop being so self-focused and stuck in our own worlds and look at those around us, see if they are okay. See if we can help them in some way. Cheesy? Maybe, but I think it's a good answer.




Also, in terms of video game music, one of my favorite songs of all time is this battle theme from Lufia II.

Patrick Stewart
5) If you could get a celebrity – either living or dead – to promote your wares, who would you choose, and why would you want to choose this particular person?   I would definitely say Patrick Stewart. I just love that man, and not just because I love Star Trek so much. He really has a wonderful personality, is hugely into the things he believes in, does a fantastic job supporting social justice, and he has a great sense of humor and youth. He lends his voice to things like American Dad and to video games like the Castlevania: Lords of Shadow titles. I think if he would endorse any of the things I did, that would be absolutely amazing.

6) What have you learnt about yourself through this endeavour? And were their any unforeseen obstacles you had to contend with along the way?   When it comes to my participation in the gaming world, sure, there have been plenty of things to overcome. I once worked with a site that will remain nameless, but during the process of working with them, I reviewed Diablo III and gave it a "B" score, citing numerous things. This really upset the site's owner, because he wanted to maintain a good relationship with Blizzard and the PR companies representing them. This has actually happened with a couple of other groups since that time. Because of this, I've been forced to state that I am not truly a "game journalist". I am someone that simply wants to share my passions with others. As a result, ethics are important to me. I realized that as a result, it isn't about getting more free games, but instead is more about actually representing something accurately.

Since some of these experiences, I've gotten to where when people provide a review code, I make clear that I review it on my time and will publish what I feel I wish to publish. I also want full rights to make videos or whatever else. They can either agree, or be shown to the door. I just don't have time for playing all these mind games.

As to things I've learned about myself in just life in general, that's a deep question. Probably too deep for this interview. Still, if you want to know, that could be the subject of a more personal line of questions.

Happiness
7) During your time in this field, what is the one thing that has kept you in good stead?   I, like anyone else, have had my ups and downs. But, what keeps me going is the comments I get from fans or followers. I love it when I get a piece of fan-mail talking about a video or podcast I did. Or maybe something about the little fan-game I am working on (the subject of another article, maybe). I've had times when I've been down and felt like taking a prolonged break to figure stuff out, but inevitably someone will reach out and send me something good, and that lights the fire under me to continue doing the good work.

8) If you had a personal motto, what would it be?   "Do your best, and forget about the rest". That's from a children's show called Paw Patrol, LOL. But I think it fits quite well with my mind set.

And on that note, dear reader, all I have left to say is please check back here every month for Jess's column, Jessica's Journey. Also, when you have the time please check out her Gaming Goddess website, twitter, gplus, and youtube channel.