Category: Child's Play


World of Warcraft - my elfI’ve gone and done it. I’ve been holding back for years, but I finally gave into the urge.

I signed up for World of Warcraft.

What was I thinking? Well, for one I haven’t gamed in years. I was a pretty active AD&D player back in university, I even played RIFTS and I have to admit I miss the cameradery of campaigning with a group of friends. Plus DH and I have been talking for a while about picking up a game and playing online together – we’ve been waiting for Diablo III to come out forever. At any rate, we decided on the weekend that we were sick of waiting and that we would take advantage of the free promotion that WoW is currently offering – play free for the first 20 levels.

So, not without trepidation, we both downloaded and installed the program on our respective computers and away we went.

And how did it go?

Firstly, it’s beautiful. The environment is immersive and beautifully rendered. A lot of time and energy went into designing a this world, which leads me to wish they spent a little less time on the trees and more time on the GUI (Graphic User Interface) and end user testing. The interface leaves a lot to be desired which leads to complaints about the instruction manual. They claim that usage is intuitive, but it took me about an hour to figure out how not to get killed and I still don’t know how to sell my extra swag. I couldn’t find any information on how to fight or cast spells inside the game. I had to log off and then go search for the information online. Admittedly if I had bought the beginners pack I would have had a hard copy, but I would imagine that most people would be downloading the game, so this type of oversight is really unacceptable.

As for gameplay itself, it’s alright – nothing to really write home about. There is some sort of conspiracy going on that involves my race and class, but there doesn’t seem to be an overarching story line right now. I think it’s developing slowly and while I like to know what I’m getting into thematically when I play a game, I’m willing to roll with things as they come along.

Felicia Day

It's all your fault, Felicia Day!

The thing that’s disappointing me right now is I expected more interaction between myself and other players. Maybe it’s because I’m playing the Role-Playing version (as opposed to Normal or Player v Player), but I thought I would be able to join up with other newbies and go on quests together as we figured out exactly how to play this. And because DH is a different race and character class than I am, we haven’t met up yet.

At least I hope that’s the reason…….. 😉

At any rate, I guess after seeing The Guild, I had a bit of a romanticized picture in my head about what playing an MMORPG would be like, and so far World of Warcraft hasn’t met that expectation yet but I’m willing to stick with it a little while longer. We’ll see if Blizzard get’s my hard earned coin after that I reach 20th level.

I’ll keep you up to date as to my adventures, and if you happen to be in WoW, and come across a night-elf druid named Zephyrex, make sure to say “Hi!”

I promise not to blast you.

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Creepy Cute Crochet

Isn’t the Grimm Reaper adorable and couldn’t you just cuddle Cthulu to death!

Once upon a time there was a toy that everyone loved. Little girls and boys could play with it for hours, letting their imaginations run wild. Kids could create cities, cars, robots, houses, farms, thing-a-ma-bobs for hours on end.

And it was good.

Then along comes someone who thinks: “Hey! Kids love this toy! But they don’t buy a lot of them, because they can make so many different things; they can make castles and rocket ships and monsters and all sorts of fancy geegaws out of one simple kit. That isn’t going to make us any money! Let’s make it so that kids will want to only make one thing out of one set of this wonderful toy. That way, when they want to build something else, their parents will have to buy another set, and so on and so forth”

And it wasn’t so good.

So our someone thinks: “Well, that isn’t working so well, so let’s actively market it to boys, with manly men and big guns and epic battles. Get their testosterone running.” And they did

And it was good, for the company, that is until their market share stopped growing.

So, what is our intrepid toy company someone to do? Well, it’s time to create a toy for girls, with girly things, like shopping, and hanging around a coffee shop and imitating Britney Spears, and oh! a science lab with a robot to quiet down the feminists, and doggies to brush……

And it wasn’t so good. Because now mom’s are getting pissed off.

This is the story of Lego, a company that once championed children’s creativity, but now is nothing more than a purveyor of overpriced toys that piggy backs on popular culture.

Okay, that may be a little harsh. I loved Legos as a kid, my kids love and play with Legos now. But here’s the thing. I refuse to buy the kits. The Legos my kids play with are all bought at garage sales and at the Sally Ann. Why? Because I don’t want anyone telling them what those colorful little blocks *should* be. That is what their imagination is for.

Which brings me to Lego Friends – a product purposefully developed for girls, with input from girls. I guess the bigwigs from Lego felt they were missing a piece of the Disney Princess pie and acted accordingly.

And this is what 4 years of intensive study and $40 million gets you:

Lego Friends

A coffee shop, a beauty salon, a fashion designer, doggies and a Katy Perry wannabe.

That’s it Lego? That’s all you got? Who exactly did you poll, the Toddlers and Tiaras set?

I object to this on two levels.

The first is the fact that, yet again, a toy company is pushing shallow values and rampant commercialism on our girls.  While the boys are out saving the world as Han Solo or Harry Potter, our girls are designing dresses and having their nails done.

Okay, I know creating a toy environmental activist would be really, really difficult. How much fun can cleaning up a riverbank be for a 5 year old, I get that. But this is this the sum total of what it means to be a girl? Driving a fancy car and hanging out in a coffee shop drinking overpriced beverages.

Is this as meaningful as our daughter’s lives get?

Why is a company that is built on children’s creativity as it’s bread and butter so hell bent on pigeonholing girls into a limited, shallow and crassly commercial niche?

Lego ad, circa 1981And this brings me to my second point, why are we segregating toys to begin with? Yes, I understand that kids tend to gravitate towards certain toys based on gender, girls towards more social type toys such as dolls, while boys like action and building toys. That’s fine, but shouldn’t we encourage our boys to be more social and our girls to build things and be more active? Isn’t that part of our jobs as parents to raise healthy, well rounded individuals?

And what about those kids who don’t fit that narrowly defined space of boy/girl? Don’t we owe it to those kids to help them feel comfortable in their own skin and not belittle or marginalize their interest just because it isn’t “girly” or “manly “enough?

I will never forget the time I was in the toy section of the Walmart back in Kapuskasing and a little girl got excited about a set of Tinker Toys. She raced over to her dad to show him what she found. You know what he said?

“Put that back, these are for boys. You don’t want to play with these.”

He actually looked embarrassed.

That poor little girl was crushed. She trudged away, shoulders slumped and my heart just broke. When she was alone, staring longingly at the Tinker Toys, I scooted over and told her that my sister liked to play with that exact toy when she was a little girl and now she sends experiments up in the space shuttle and tells the astronauts what to do. She looked at me and smiled, but I could tell she didn’t believe me.

I’ve wondered ever since if the world lost a brilliant mind that day.

And it isn’t just the girls who are hurt by this type of narrow-minded messaging. It also limits the boys, firstly by presenting them with only one version of masculinity – the testosterone driven, highly aggressive one, and it also sets up the expectation among girls that their romantic partner is going to be the ‘prince’ that sweeps them away and makes everything perfect. That’s a hell of a lot of responsibility for anyone, child or adult.  Why can’t a boy play dog groomer, or a fashion designer? Why can’t they expect their life partner to take control of their own happiness and contribute equally to the relationship?

That’s what these toys are selling our children.

I read an article a few years ago by The Toronto Star’s Michelle Landsberg where she marveled at the many ways one could be a woman these days. One could be soft and feminine, strong and powerful, or somewhere in between. It was amazing to her that in this day and age we women finally had the choice. That is what feminism means, women have the choice to be what *we* want to be, housewive or CEO – it is okay to be either.

This is not about pink or blue. Not really. It’s about placing limits on something that should be limitless, the potential of a child, to be anything, to do anything. And these toys are doing that to girls by sending out a message that their lives should be one of mindless comfort, no demands, no challenges, no victories.

Which begs the question, why are companies trying to tell our daughters what they should be?

And why are we letting them?

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Petition: Tell LEGO to stop selling out girls! #LiberateLEGOs

Congratulations Jennifer and Jeff! May the Force be with you, because you’re going to need it. 😉

…but this is just so much cooler!

Mouth Man Raptor HoodieI know what I’m getting Goober for his birthday! I can just see him running through the house yelling: “Nom! Nom! Nom! ROAR!”

The concept was developed by Ross Valory (of Journey! How cool is that?) and you can order your very own from the Mouth Man website. They even have adult sizes.

Veronica Issue #202 - Introducing Kevin KellerThis is totally cool news…

Archie, Veronica and Betty have a new friend in Riverdale, Kevin Keller.  This isn’t exactly news, the Archie comics have been adding lots new characters over the years. The difference this time around is that the blond, blue eyed ‘hunk’ is openly gay.

The story, “Isn’t it Bromantic”, introduces Kevin to the Riverdale kids and predictably, Veronica is on the prowl for some new blood – wait, weren’t Ronnie and Archie getting married this time last year? At any rate, she has her eyes set on the newcomer, and will do anything to snag him for herself. Unfortunately for her, Jughead is the first person Kevin confides in regarding his sexuality and he is more than willing to let Veronica make a fool of herself trying to get a guy that totally resistant to her charms, probably for the first time in her life.

Writer/artist Dan Parent came up with the concept when trying to figure out what type of guy Veronica couldn’t get:

“Veronica is always chasing guys and I thought what would be the one guy Veronica can’t get? A gay guy. The story just progressed from there. What we’re trying to do is show how accepting Riverdale is.”

The New Kid in Town - Kevin KellerI think this is great news. I know a lot of kids who’s first reading materials are comic books. Both Sprout and Elfkin love reading Archie comics, and they are at an age where attitudes about gay people are coming out in school. Not so long ago I had to stomp on Sprout’s notion that two guys kissing is “gross” and wrong. And considering the problems that gay kids have been having of late, being prevented from going to prom for example, it’s nice to see homosexuality being portrayed as normal to kids.  Says Parent:

“My daughter has openly gay kids in her high school and it’s accepted,” Parent pointed out. “Obviously this isn’t the case everywhere in the country. There are struggles that gay people have. But gay kids in high schools isn’t the big deal it used to be, and we want to reflect the way being gay is accepted in today’s society.”

This really surprises me because I was always under the impression that Archie comics were pretty conservative. As a matter of fact I have an issue that comes out in favour prayer in school.

Kudos to Dan Parent and Archie Comics! You’ve done something really great for kids everywhere. You should be proud.

BTW, could you send a few copies of this issue to Itawamba County School District?

Via: Newsarama