SkillpointStation – Blog on Temporary Hiatus


Due to taking on too many outside geeky projects, we are not currently capable of keeping the blog section of up to date. We apologize for this temporary hiatus and hope to be up again in the near future.

In the meantime, our Facebook/Twitter feeds are active daily. Check them out here:

– Facebook –

– Twitter –

The projects that I am invested in are as follows:

– Our Fair City (Audio Drama, Live Performances, Comics) – (Marketing Director / Talent)

– EDGE Theatre / EDGE Youth Theatre – (Social Media Director / Advisory Board)

– Raks Geek – Bellydance + Fire + Flow (Performance Troupe) – (Marketing Associate)

– Firefly: Fistful of Credits (Board Game) – (Marketing Director)

– Wildclaw Theatre – (Prospective Board Member)

– Geek Bar Chicago – (Advisory Board)

– Chicago Loot Drop – (Marketing Associate)

Stories Matter – Part 2 of 4 – Cobla (Original)

Following up on Part 1, I am posting the original version of my story Cobla, written during a class assignment in the 6th grade. This story was originally accompanied by hand-drawn artwork and maps but due to a recent flood I was unable to save anything of the original. Thankfully I still had the original digital version of the story.

Please enjoy reading – Cobla – Original Version!

When I wrote this story I was not an avid reader at all. I actually don’t recall reading much of anything until 7th grade when I was inspired by a friend to read “The Hobbit” and “Dragons of Autumn Twilight”. I had spent significant time with the Lone Wolf book series – specifically Flight from the Dark by Joe Dever and Gary Chalk – as the “foundation” for my fantasy literature. At a hobby convention with my father I managed to pick up (for free) The Art of Dragonlance Saga (a compilation of paintings and sketches from the novels, modules and covers) and it was these two items that served the starting point for my fantasy exposure. The interesting thing was that I had not read any Dragonlance at the time and when I eventually read the books I had all that artwork imprinted on my brain.

LoneWolf  ArtDragonlance0001

The only other “stories” that I truly recall being exposed to were the Sierra games of King’s Quest, Bard’s Tale, and Black Cauldron. The idea of a king going off on an adventure, the basis of Cobla, had its roots here. If you haven’t played these games, go and play them here now! Black CauldronBard’s Tale / King’s Quest

black cauldron  Bard's_Tale_Box_Cover  king's quest

With these books as inspiration, I dove in and wrote my first fantasy story. I later wrote a sequel to it that borrowed WAY too heavily from the Lone Wolf books.

Please enjoy reading – Cobla – Original Version – just remember I was in 6th grade when I wrote this!


A few items to note when reading these stories:

  • Please enjoy them and feel free to let me know your thoughts. A writer always appreciates feedback when attempting to grow their craft.
  • Many of them remain unedited since their original creation date and contain misspellings, improper grammar and made up words. These are in here for flavor and as a time stamp to reflect my age when they were created.
  • Over time, I hope to include “Directors Commentary” in all of my stories. Hopefully this adds some flavor and context for the creative process and my thinking as these stories were created.
  • These are being shared for the benefit of the community and ask for respect to all who read, share, and comment on the material within.
  • All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or part without express written permission. Contact if interested.

Sexism and Sexuality in Games

At GDC 2013 David Gaider, a lead writer/designer for Bioware, spoke on Sexism and Sexuality in Games. The video clocks in at around 40 minutes but is full of a tremendous amount of insightful questions, insights – and even challenges the listeners in many ways. He talks some about the history of women in games, of the “typical” game players, how the industry is changing, and how we (as players) can change the industry.


One of the quotes I liked the most was “How do we invite women to gaming? How about we at least start with ‘How do we at least not offend them?'” David challenges us as those who participate in the games industry to think about things differently. As a developer he takes responsibility for his role in the industry that has created much of who we are as gamers today. The answer isn’t to create games specifically for women, which is about as offensive as making games specifically for gays, transgender, or minorities. Create games and look to tell the best stories possible.

It is my, your, our responsibility to begin thinking about these gender issues more seriously than we have in the past.


If you haven’t checked out Anita Sarkeesian and her Feminist Frequency initiative examining female tropes in video games – check it out! It can be heavy handed at times and it takes a little objectivity to be able to watch and not instantly get triggered by some of what she says. It helps me to know that, while a gamer, Anita is not someone who grew up doing lots of gaming. That the images she (and other non-gamers) experience in games may look far worse than they actually are to more dedicated gamers. Sadly, many of the things that we have come to accept as “game mechanics” or “story telling devices” are probably barely noticed by gamers. So while it is unfortunate that many gamers aren’t as triggered by these scenes as they should be, it also doesn’t mean that they are instantly interanlizing all the language and imagery as something that is right.

  1. Video 1
  2. Video 2

David makes another great point that should be considered. If games want to be considered “art” – we as consumers need to demand more seriousness from the industry and our fellow game players. We can make demands of our fine art, movies, books and television.

Why not expect the same treatment from our games and our game makers?

Stories Matter – Part 1 of 4 – Intro

Have you ever gone back and re-read the first story that you ever wrote? Fans of SPS know that in the past I was posting some legacy stories that were written in my youth, but this is something different. I’ve decided to take the challenge and re-visit the first story that I wrote (that I still have). There were stories that I wrote when I was younger but I don’t have them and don’t recall them. I just know I wrote (and drew and crafted live action scenarios for my friends and I).

Geek and Sundry recently launched a new series of on-going vlogs covering various geeky topics. One of those, Wordplay, is focused exclusively on writing and stars the outgoing, infectious, and exuberant Nika Harper. The current episode is focused on the topic of NaNoWriMo and the idea that Stories Matter. NaNoWriMo and Nika challenged writers to look back at the first story that you created, see how far you’ve come, talk about it, re-edit it, do something with it.

The story, called Cobla, comes from a 6th grade writing exercise I did in Jr. High. Everyone in class was tasked with doing this. As you can guess, the scope and quality varied wildly, but it still stuck out in my mind as a defining moment for me. It was a high-fantasy story that I did a handful of illustrations for. Most of those illustrations were ruined in a recent basement flood but I hope to get a few posted for flair!

Water Logged Stories

The Parts are as follows:

  1. Part 1 – Intro
  2. Part 2 – Original Story
  3. Part 3 – Re-vised Story
  4. Part 4 – Stay-Tuned Surprise!

The Inspirational Video Below:

Article – Learning to Love Easy Mode

This post is inspired by the following article: Learning To Love Easy Mode


Is this really the type of achievement we want to unlock?

I have found that as I age the time and ability (maybe even the desire?) to do one thing for hours and hours has dramatically decreased. Due to this I have found that the ways that I used to look at things has dramatically shifted in the last few years. Time spent doing the same thing over and over and over in order to get better at something is no longer of interest to me. I am predominately a single-player gamer (due to time and children) and getting “better” than the “other guy” doesn’t factor into my gaming experience. Which is exactly why volunteering to make a game more challenging is no longer worthwhile.

I am an avid video and table top gamer (among many other things) and have to find a balance between all the things I do. Lately one of the most straightforward ways I have found to enable me to enjoy a video game with a reasonable level of challenge but a reduced amount of time is to set the game to “easy”. Prior to doing this I would choose hard (75% of the time) or medium (25% of the time) depending on the game – but never choose a Nightmare-type mode (I’m not that good!). I have found that a more casual challenge still enables me to enjoy the game and experience the story and characters without hitting a point where I have to spend excessive amount of time leveling up a character or dying-and-retrying a challenge over and over. In some instances the switch to “easy” has small and subtle changes that most players wouldn’t even notice, such as hit points are less for bosses, pickups more generous, or encounters are less frequent. Games that require more of an arcade-level of skill may give you more lives or more time in order to complete a challenge.


Having had to replay a few games recently after my Xbox died (the 3rd RROD) and I needed to repurchase on my PC, I found myself choosing “easy” just to get myself back to the same point in the game. I found that in most instances I rarely noticed (or missed) the change in difficulty. Soon I noticed that the main thing I was missing was the increased gamer score that comes from achievements/trophies by playing on higher difficulties. Yet once my Xbox died I found that my gamer score number was becoming less and less relevant. As a predominately solo player with only a handful of regulars on my friend lists, what real point was there in bragging about a high gamer score?

Lately there have been numerous games that have come out where the game itself is more rewarding than the score achieved in the end. Games like Journey, The Walking Dead, Slither, Back to the Future, Amnesia, and Limbo have all been enjoyable without achievements or difficulty settings. Even Mass Effect 3 enabled players to choose a “Narrative Mode” which enabled them to enjoy the game with dramatically reduced combat so those interested in just the story could get through it easier.

In the end – I’ve decided to take a more conscious look at why, when and where I choose to be challenged in the games I am playing. Discovering that there are games out there that can be enjoyable without any actual difficulty settings or on easy mode has me enjoying more games instead of enjoying more of the same game I am playing (although spending hours to try and beat a challenge has rarely given me the sense of victory in overcoming it that it might for others).

ARTICLE: Learning To Love Easy Mode