Overwatch Mindfulness 〰️GAMING GOOD VIBES 〰️ Episode 004

On Gaming Good Vibes episode 4 I'm talking about an Overwatch Mindfulness exercise I stumbled across on Reddit.

Overwatch Mindfulness Exercise - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4edlP6lgqY0
Sam Greenblatt - https://samgreenblatt.wordpress.com/
Nicole Carpenter's DOT piece - https://dotesports.com/overwatch/news/ow-mindfulness-exercise-24965

Lenovo Influencer–what does it mean?

Since announcing my partnership with Lenovo last week I’ve had a lot of people congratulate me, usually swiftly followed by, “but, what does it all mean? And what is Lenovo?”

So as a bit of background — Lenovo (Leh-No-Voh) is a Chinese multinational technology company with offices in Beijing, China, and North Carolina in the United States. Since 2013, Lenovo has been the world’s largest personal computer vendor by unit sales. After buying out IBM’s PC and laptop operations in 2005, Lenovo has since grown to become a world leader making a huge impact through business and enterprise set-ups. The company now offers a full suite of awesome products and services, including mobile (they recently acquired Motorola Mobility).

Lenovo’s Influencer program brings on awesome people that do amazing things from many aspects of life such as gamers, artists, designers and so much more. They then support these people by supplying tech that helps them do what they do even better, as well as giving them opportunities to attend events around the globe.

In return, all Lenovo asks is they continue to do what they do.

The Lenovo ANZ Influencers are an amazing group of about 100 talented individuals across Australasia who are absolutely smashing it in their given fields, including LoriiPopsExpazz_NZ, and Prawln from NZ. I am incredibly honoured to join them, and can’t wait to kick more ass than ever before alongside them!

So–if we get real for a second–becoming a Lenovo Influencer is a mutually beneficial deal. It connects me to a wider family of people doing awesome things, gives me the opportunity to showcase a bunch of stuff I am doing, and in return I’ll be telling everyone about the amazing tech company that is giving me the tools to do great things! Great things like continue working my butt off to grow Leaping Tiger, streaming both gaming and creative content over on Twitch, writingvlogging, and tweeting way too much.


I hope that answers some of the questions you might have had about my life, Lenovo, and the Influencer Program. But as always, I’d be more than happy to continue the conversation in the comments below or over on Twitter!

Turn around, now Switch.

Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to get hands on with the yet to be released Nintendo Switch console. Thanks to Nintendo AU, we got to play through a Zelda Breath of the Wild demo, race in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, laugh our way through the 1, 2, Switch collection, and showdown in Arms. 

What a day! I'm so incredibly excited for Nintendo's new hardware update – and the hands on experience did not disappoint. The Switch looks even more impressive in person, and confirmed my suspicions that the brightly coloured Joy-Con version is definitely the way to go. The colours on the hardware are so vibrant, and the screen looks fantastic. Holding it in my hands I definitely felt the magic that only Nintendo can bring to life. 

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe was a great choice to show off all the multiple play options of the console. With one Switch console we were able to play one and two player at the TV screen and with the portable screen, as well as single player hand held. Switching (heyoo) between play styles was impressively seamless and speedy! The hardware feels very high quality – as you would expect from a Nintendo product – and playing familiar Mario Kart 8 tracks with the sleek new Joy-Con controllers really showed how far the technology has come since the Wiimotes. They've struck the perfect balance with the screen size – it feels super comfortable single player handheld as the priority should be, and worked just fine for two player Mario Kart. You wouldn't want to play for a long time multiplayer on the portable screen, but it more than serves its purpose as a portable multiplayer machine. Playing with the new Squid Kid characters was also pretty awesome! As is being able to hold an item and keep one in reserve again, thank goodness. 

Another fun example of Nintendo's controller innovation came via 'Ball Count' game which is part of the '1, 2, Switch' collection. It seems simple enough in concept – 2 players compete to guess how many balls are inside their Joy-Cons. Of course, there aren't really any balls inside the controllers, but you would be really surprised how much you will believe there are! The 'HD Rumble' technology is fascinating and although I can't really think of any applications outside the Ball Count game yet, I can't wait to see what comes out of the minds of amazing game developers everywhere... 

But seriously, '1, 2, Switch' was surprisingly fun and is a great collection of party games to showcase the Switch’s capabilities. I also got hands on with 'Eating Contest', which is possibly the weirdest game ever. You place the Joy-Con with the IR sensor in the bottom near your face, and open and close your mouth as quickly as possible to eat as many virtual subs as you can in a few seconds. I can definitely see this game getting strangely competitive on a Saturday night after a few drinks. Quick Draw, the duelling game Nintendo showed off in it's release announcement, was surprisingly technical and would also be pretty fun at a party. Then there's Samurai, the two player game where one person swings a sword and the other tries to catch it... Just trust me, these games are strange and awesome. 

The Zelda: Breath of the Wild demo was the same 25 minute demo we played at E3 in June, where Link wakes up 100 years in the future and wanders around exploring the new landscape he has found himself in. When playing through the Switch dock, the graphics are scaled up from 720 to 900p. I don't think this made a huge amount of difference in this instance, but the game is stylistically beautiful. There is also a slight increase in sound quality, if you're into the nitty gritty sound details! We played through this demo on the Switch Pro Controller, which I didn't really rate to be honest. It was dramatically upstaged by the Joy-Cons in the grip, which were far better quality and much nicer to play with.  

The real game highlight of the showcase for me was Arms. The controls felt so intuitive and fluid, there was not a second that the technology faltered leaving me feeling hard done by in-game. What a stark contrast to the Wii! The game plays with various character fight styles, weights, and hand weapons. The one complaint I have is that the character roster seemed a little small for the game's pricetag... Though I don't know exactly how this demo version compares with the full release. I'd definitely like to see a larger line up and some online play! Otherwise, this demo looked more like a game that should have been bundled into the '1, 2, Switch' collection. 

I didn't stop smiling throughout my whole experience with the Switch. Nintendo has really delivered on the combination of fun and quality with this console. If you have any specific questions, please let me know below and I will see if I have the answers for you either in my brain/experience or from the press information I have on file. 

And REMEMBER, if you're a Leaping Tiger member – use the invite friends button to create a refer link, and receive one entry into our competition to WIN a Switch per friend you successfully refer. 

I hope you found this Switch info interesting, will you be pre-ordering one?
Let's talk more on Twitter!

Inspiring Women of Microsoft Ignite NZ 2016

With around 25% female speakers, It's been a week of pleasant surprises at Microsoft Ignite NZ! Yes, of course, 25% is not enough. However year on year, it's been small steps in the right direction. I know speaker diversity is at the forefront of the organisers' minds, and I've been absolutely wowed by the calibre of speakers at Ignite on the whole. 

Tuesday morning's keynote was fantastic! We had Hilary Barry with a Tshirt gun on stage – brilliant. It was awesome to see so many women on stage presenting, and then to hear afterwards that this had just happened organically! Brilliant. The highlight of the keynote for me was Dona Sarkar, who has been an idol of mine for a long while now. Her keynote was radically inspiring, and set the tone for the rest of the conference. Do The Thing! It's impossible not to be inspired when Dona speaks. I was absolutely honoured to be invited to her Windows Insiders dinner on Wednesday evening, where we got to hear what the group are doing across the country and offer assistance to each other where possible. Such a fantastic community!

I have to be honest, I came into my first Ignite a pretty wide eyed Microsoft n00b. With a background in design, I've been an Apple user virtually my whole life – with very little technical experience at all I might add. When putting together my schedule last week, it was really exciting to see such a strong focus on soft skills, mental health and the less technical side of the tech business. I love working in tech, and I have the highest admiration for the magic developers are able to make. However, my passion definitely lies in the project management, business development, people, social, and creative facets of a business.

With that said, I want to talk specifically about the women of Ignite who have inspired me this week.

First up – and although technically Marcus Radich is a man – I really want to include PageProof here because I was introduced to Marcus' cofounder Gemma Hurst this week, and she is an absolute wonder woman. At the first Ignite session I attended on Tuesday morning, Marcus spoke about scale-fail – a wonderfully refreshing topic to introduce the conference for me! I found myself nodding along heavily and feeling comforted in the fact that behind the scenes, no one has it all sorted perfectly and most of the time, the best solution truly is the one that works for your team. Speaking with Gemma afterwards and throughout the conference was invigorating, she has a passion for her business that is inspiring and unmistakable. I hope I grow up to be half as cool as her!

I was intrigued by Jennifer Marsman's keynote, in which she talked about her initial experiments with Azure Machine Learning in order to build a lie detector prototype which she tested on her husband. Jennifer is a truly fantastic speaker, and her introductory Machine Learning session was my favourite of the entire conference. I was initially a bit intimidated about attending such a technical talk, but Microsoft has built a really slick Machine Learning toolset that can be easily utilised by those without a technical or data science background. This is extremely exciting for a non-codey geek! I love the idea of being able to import data, play around, and make predictions using the simple Azure interface without having to write a single line of code. 

On Thursday morning, I headed along to Mel Rowsell's 'brain hacks for techies'. The strong focus on soft skills at Ignite was truly awesome. Staying calm under pressure and remembering to stay mindful are skills that can make or break a great team, so it's always good to be reminded of that. It's clear Mel has an absolute wealth of insight in this area and it was fantastic to hear her share some easy to implement techniques for staying in control at work. I encourage you to check out her blog!

I was especially excited to hear from Melanie Langlotz and Amie Wolken of GeoARGames, as fellow kiwi entrepreneurs in the gaming industry! They shared a lot of insight into their startup journey, as well as an interesting look at their backgrounds and experience. Augmented Reality (or Mixed Reality...) is a super exciting space in my opinion, and it was a fantastic running theme throughout the conference – especially with the recent HoloLens dev kit release. 

Of course this is not an exhaustive list of ALL the inspiring women of Microsoft Ignite NZ 2016 – just the ones I was fortunate enough to cross paths with this week! If you attended a session by an inspiring woman, please tell me about it below and link to their work. You can check out Channel 9 for some coverage, or keep an eye on the Ignite website for more comprehensive archive in the coming weeks.

A PAX West Adventure: Positivity in Gaming

I finally understand what people mean when they talk about the post-pax blues. Returning to ‘real life’ after four days of gaming celebration is quite jarring! In June I was asked by a good friend if I would join his panel called ‘How We Find Positivity Through Gaming’ — the part of video games I am most passionate about — naturally I jumped at the chance! I soon found myself on a plane to Seattle, heading to my first ever PAX convention experience.

 

I was lucky to be able to spend Friday to Monday at PAX West (formerly known as PAX Prime). And what a weekend it was! The show floor was brimming with gamers excited to get hands on with the latest titles, passionate indie developers showing off their creations, and more gaming swag to buy than I have ever seen before. There were also a ton of diverse panels to attend, and every single one I went to was fantastic. But, the part of PAX I enjoyed the most was catching up with friends, hanging out with people I previously knew only by their screen names, and meeting so many awesome people I didn’t even know existed. Everyone was at PAX to celebrate their love of gaming, and celebrate we did!

It was difficult for me not to compare PAX with E3. Having attended E3 the past 3 years, and this being my first PAX, everything seemed like an opportunity for comparison which I quickly learned was irrelevant. The two events couldn’t be further apart in terms of the impression they left on me as an attendee. E3 is so focused on getting the latest gaming news into the hands of the media, whereas PAX is much more concerned with the players, the community attending the convention, and the connections they make over the weekend.

Our Positivity in Gaming panel went really well. It was awesome to hear more from Stack-Up and AbleGamers, and to openly celebrate the positive influence gaming is able to have on so many people’s lives. The common thread running through the panel was about having a person, or people, around you that ‘speak your language’ and are able to support you. Everyone seeks support and friendship in different ways, and we’re all on the path to finding and growing our own tribe. It was awesome to speak about how Leaping Tiger can operate as a tool to bring visibility to these great causes, get conversations going, and make gamers aware of all the awesome things other gamers are doing around them. The discussion section of our panel got really emotional as audience members shared their stories of how gaming has had a positive impact on their lives — through recovery, inclusion, and connection to their community. Thank you so much to everyone who shared a story!

My heart was so full by the end of the weekend, because I could see a future where our team will be able to create more frequent experiences like PAX, on a smaller scale. No longer will you only get to see your internet friends at conventions — imagine a world where you can discover and meet up with friends like you do at PAX all year round. That’s our vision for Leaping Tiger! The awesome vibe that you get from a gaming convention is what we are trying to build at Leaping Tiger. A welcoming, friendly, inclusive community where everything we do celebrates positivity in gaming.

This post was originally published over on the Leaping Tiger blog.

The Good News and The Sad News

When I finally summoned the courage to quit my job and become a full-time self-employed graphic designer, there was a tiny part of me worried one day I'd have to write the post about why it wasn't working out, letting everyone know I'd failed, and that I was going back to 'normal' life. You can call it self-doubt, or imposter syndrome, or whatever number of things I and most human beings succumb to – I've always liked to call it realism.

But this isn't that post. I haven't had to write that post. And I'm so excited.

There's good news and sad news though. 

For those who are maybe not familiar – for the past 2 years I've worked two full-time jobs. One as the Creative Director and Owner of Hello Miss Potter, producing work for both local and international clients. And the other, as Chief Operating Officer of Leaping Tiger, a tech startup in the gaming industry, of which I am a co-founder. Both these endeavours have required so much energy and provided me with endless amounts of learning, but the time has come where I have to choose between my two passions.

The good news is Leaping Tiger has grown to a point where it's surpassed my graphic design work as the official 'job' in my life. (There's hopefully more I can say about this soon...) And I consider myself so unbelievably fortunate to continue waking up and doing something I am so passionate about, with an absolutely astounding team, every single day.

The 'sad' news is – I am no longer working as a freelance graphic designer. I'm so grateful for the continued support from my family and clients over the past 2 years. Thank you so much for believing in me, working with me, and constantly driving me to do and be better every day. Don't panic, though! I'm not leaving you in the dark. I have a certain number of weekend hours set aside for wrapping up and handing over projects as required. 

"Video games are bad for you? That's what they said about rock-n-roll." 
– Shigeru Miyamoto