Why I Play Video Games, Part 1

Because they’re a fun way to escape reality, in a much more participatory fashion than say, TV or movies. That’s the easy and obvious answer. What isn’t so easy to define is why do I play particular video games? …Because my gaming habits are kind of all over the place.

Let’s explore, shall we?

Let me start off by stating that I have never played, nor do I have any real interest in playing the first Assassin’s Creed game. What drew me to the second one had less to do with the overall concept (though I must admit once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty fun to climb walls, run across rooftops, and assassinate guards for no particular reason), and more to do with its setting.

Set in early Renaissance Italy, Assassin’s Creed II follows the story of Ezio as he avenges his father’s death, and learns the ways of the Assassin…oh, and becomes chums with Leonardo da Vinci, and flies experimental flying contraptions (and who wouldn’t get a kick out of that?).

The very best part of the game (what really drew me to it) was the amazing attention to detail of every aspect of the scenery. Yes. The scenery. Locations that I have been to and experienced first hand. The set and landscape of this game was so well done, it was like re-visiting Florence and Venice….and climbing all over them, and seeing them from angles I could never fathom in reality. It was extremely cool.


When I was in Florence, one of the best ways to orient yourself was to find a patch of sky, and look for the Duomo…if you could see it, you knew roughly where you were. This proved a useful tactic in the game, as well…only because you mostly traveled on rooftops, it was much easier to do.

But it wasn’t just the Duomo they got right. They got everything right. The meandering streets, the colours of the buildings and the rooftops, and the overall lack of green space north of the Arno. It was eerily accurate. Every brick, every clay tile, every tiny little detail.


In Venice, there seemed to be slightly more emphasis on the canals, and a little less on the ornamentation of some of the more spectacular buildings…I admit a little disappointment that the Triumphal Quadriga (or the horses of St. Mark) didn’t make it onto the basilica in the game (they were installed on the façade of the basilica in 1254, and only removed by Napoleon in 1797…they should have been there, no?).

But they sure got the canals right. What I particularly liked was the sense that everything was much newer in the game (you know…several hundred years newer)…for instance the Rialto Bridge was made of wood, rather than stone (a shame, really, because it would have been fun to find the spot where I ate “The Best Fish Ever” on its steps).

Generally, you really got the sense that the city built on top of a lagoon wasn’t showing as many signs of damp, cracking, and erosion from the water, as it does today…so there was a sense of stepping back in time to a very potentially real depiction of the city when it was booming, and was still Europe’s gateway to the East.

Lesson learned? I’ll play a video game if it has a connection to something I’ve experienced. In the case of Assassin’s Creed II, that connection was brought about by its realistic depiction of locations that I’d visited and where I created some fantastic memories.

[ The above stills from Assassin’s Creed II were gathered on a number of gaming sites, but were among the initial releases made by the games’ producers, Ubisoft…on a side note, the game was produced locally, in Montreal (yay!) ]


Last Minute Halloween Bunting

I’ve been living out of boxes since July…it’s a long story involving a temporary apartment, and many attempts to buy my own home. But that’s neither here nor there. Saturday afternoon, as my boyfriend started raiding the candy I’d bought for the hordes of children that’ll be here tonight (apparently my street is the place to be on Halloween), I realized that I had no Halloween decorations whatsoever (and no desire to buy any, because I’ll just have to pack them up, and add to my apartment full of boxes).

So what to do?

I started looking around to see if I had anything – I mean anything orange. All I wanted was something simple, but that would indicate to trick-or-treaters that I have candy.

All I could find were CD envelopes. Orange CD envelopes, with a deep enough flap that would serve quite nicely to run string through…and so, I pulled out my handy Olfa knife, cut out a series of pumpkin faces, and TA DA! I had Halloween bunting to hang on my door!

Happy Halloween everyone! Have fun, and stay safe!!


Friday I’m in Love

As the leaves form a yellow, red, and orange blanket over the landscape, the air becomes more crisp, and I start to see my breath when I go outside, it becomes more and more apparent that temperatures are dropping. It’s getting cold, and I need to keep warm. Here are a few things I’ve come across that would do quite nicely, if I do say so myself (from top to bottom):

If I knew how to knit I’d be all over this adorable Deer with Little Antlers tuque pattern by Tiny Owl’s Magic Attic…it has got to be one of the cutest animal-themed hats I’ve ever seen.

But considering I don’t know how to knit, I might have to resign myself to purchasing ready-made items, like this Knit Loop Scarf by Silvia66. Not only are the colours beautiful, but it’s got a cozy woolly look about it that says: “I’ll keep you warm and fashionable, but won’t strangle you.” Visit Silvia66’s Etsy shop or blog to see this and more of her beautiful creations, including more scarves, capelets, and shrugs.

I’ve always had difficulty finding a great winter coat…I inevitably cave and go for marshmallow-proportioned practicality over structured, fashionable and drool-worthy. Like the Hazel Coat…or really, any other coat created by Vancouver-based Little Houses Clothing…I love ’em all. They’ve got great button and collar detailing, and many include beautiful little touches of lace. Give their shop a look if you’re in need of a new coat this season.

I’ve never been much of a skirt person…if I was, though, I’d be sporting super cute crochet leg warmers like these on chilly days. Created by Mademoiselle Mermaid, they’re equal amounts practical and pretty.

…But those who know me, know that I’m not really a skirt person (unfortunately). So instead of sporting cute leg warmers, I’d be more likely to pull on a pair of these adorable Stag, You’re It Socks by ModCloth. Love, love, love.

And that’s it for the first edition of “Friday I’m in Love”…please note I am well aware that none of the items I’m in love with go together…that’s not really the point!


Type Tuesdays: Fat Fonts

Many of the blogs I read and enjoy have theme posts, usually associated with a particular day of the week…I’ve decided to get in on the action with my very first theme: Type Tuesdays!

(or more likely: Type-Every-Once-In-A-Blue-Moon-Tuesdays)

This Tuesday, I’m sharing some of my favourite (and FREE!) slab serifs and fat sans serifs that are explicitly meant for headlines and to grab your attention (I’m not talking font families that happen to have an extra or ultra bold weight). So without further ado…and in almost no particular order:


A beautiful display slab serif created by Juan Pablo de Gregorio, one of the contributors over at Typies…Admittedly, I’m quite in love with this font, and keep trying to use it somewhere…anywhere. It’ll happen. To use it in your own projects, you can get it here.

MEgalopolis Extra

Created by French font factory SMeltery, I’ve got a particular soft spot for this one (just look around the site)….it’s got a fantastic and somewhat playful look about it, is easy to read, and comes with a whackload of OpenType ligatures and special characters. This one’s my typography BFF…become acquainted with MEgalopolis Extra yourself by downloading it here.

Chunk Five

Another slab serif, with a slightly old-fashioned poster feel to it. It’s a great example of a font demonstrating that typography really can stand on its own, with no need for graphics or imagery. Chunk Five was created by The League of Moveable Type, and can be downloaded here.

Birra Stout

Created by Brooklyn-based Darden Studio, Birra Stout is very unique, with interesting angles and curves in unexpected places…this is a recent “purchase” of mine….if you want it too, you can buy it for $0.

Giant Head

And finally, here’s a fun one brought to you by Blue Vinyl Fonts…it comes as a set that’s meant to be laid one on top of the other. Download it and have some fun!

…now all that’s left is to find the perfect headline!


Clifton Hill Signage

I’ve been to Niagara Falls, Ontario a few times now, and can’t understand the “been there, done that” attitude about them…maybe I indulged a little too much in the local wines, but I really do think the falls are beautiful and worth revisiting: both from afar, and from right up close on the Maid of the Mist.

That being said, there are elements of Niagara Falls that are a little much: like Clifton Hill. If you go there knowing it’s over the top, though, I found there was much to appreciate about it:

Like the many, many candy stores offering up not only real candy (and amazing fudge and peanut brittle), but loads of eye candy as well.

I couldn’t help notice that many of the candy stores featured pink very prominently, which immediately calls to mind cotton candy…what other traditionally pink candies are there? (besides bubble gum?)

But it wasn’t just the candy stores offering up delights…all down the street are wonderful, wonderful signs flashing, and blinking and accompanying a cacophony of sounds trying to grab your attention:

Even huge brand names have gotten into the spirit of Clifton Hill…which happens to abound in haunted houses, all claiming to be the world’s most frightening…so what to do if you’re attached to one? Burger King decided to embrace it:

Much to my boyfriend’s dismay, we didn’t visit the House of Frankenstein…I’m a big chicken and am consequently not too keen on haunted houses.

Maybe next time.