Today we welcome fellow community gamer and a long-time supporter of Lasting First Impressions, Maranda Carvell to our Player Profile questionnaire. Maranda is a mother of 4 wonderful children, and a woman of many talents. She is very active in the Social Media community having been nominated for the 2010, 2011, and 2012 Canadian Weblog Awards, winning 3rd place in 2011 for Best Microblog for her Twitter account @hotelqueen. She is the founder of PATHways to Life, a Health and Wellness site, and Momicon, her personal blog as well as guest writing for numerous other sites, including Lasting First Impressions. Somehow, amongst all these things, she still finds time to unwind and engage herself in a good RPG or kick some butt in an FPS. Let’s take some time now to get to know her as a gamer a bit better.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I’m a geek, gamer and mom of four. I love games of all kinds; video games, board games, table top games, hardcore games, casual games…. I love them all. We’re primarily an Xbox house – we have two Xbox 360s – but I also play iOS and PC games. In addition to gaming, I’m a hobbyist photographer, blogger and I love to cook and bake.
What’s the first game you remember being completely enamored with that convinced you that you were a gamer?
Talk about dating myself, but the very first game I fell in love with was Pirate’s Cove for the VIC-20. It was a text based adventure game (leave to me to love a video game with no graphics). I played that game for hours on end, although I have to admit I never found the treasure. I think I liked that so much of the story was in my head; a sure indicator of my future love of table top RPGs.
The first more modern game I got really hooked on as an adult was Quake. I loved Quake and it’s mods, like Killer Quake and Ultimate Quake. It was my first shooter; I absolutely loved it, I was good at it and I was hooked.
What is your favourite development studio and what do they do differently that sets them above the rest?
Being a huge fan of RPGs, I absolutely love Bioware games. They really set the standard for storytelling in games. The Baldur’s Gate series blew my mind when it first came out. That different people could make different choices and have completely different experiences was amazing at the time, and they brought the Forgotten Realms campaign setting to life so successfully. I’ve been a fan ever since. They were also one of the first companies to recognize the value of community and to have staff dedicated to liaising with them; something we take for granted as a given in the industry today.
What is the one game that you think everyone should play, and why?
I think a lot of gamers missed out on the first Mass Effect game. It had it’s flaws to be sure, but it was the best story telling experience ever in a game IMO. It felt more like directing a movie than playing a game, and I grew really attached to the characters. I know many people who only played the second and third games, which were definitely better games technically speaking but they don’t match the power of the story in the first one.
First Impressions: What game did you not expect much from but found it being a really great game?
Shame on me, but I could just not get into Borderlands for the longest time. I think part of the problem was that I was playing it split screen, and the split screen was really awful. I tried picking it up a few times and it just didn’t click with me for some reason. I started playing it again recently and really love it; it’s just pure fun. Now I can’t wait for Borderlands 2!
First Impressions: What game started out really great but ended up with your being disappointed with it?
As much as I love Bioware games, and specifically loved Dragon Age, Dragon Age II was a huge disappointment to me. It started out ok, but as the game went on I grew more and more disappointed with it. It didn’t have the story elements, RPG elements or compelling characters the first game had. I know I’m not the only one who felt let down by the departure from the first game, so I’m remaining optimistic about the next installment.
What genre of gaming do you feel doesn’t get enough love?
I think casual games sometimes get treated unfairly by the industry and hardcore gamers. I think casual games are great, whether they’re being played by non-gamers or the hardcore. Sometimes I just like to unwind with a simple puzzle or social game, and there’s nothing wrong with that, and it certainly doesn’t make me any less of a gamer. And the popularity of casual games has really helped gaming become a socially accepted medium and hobby, and I think that can only help gamers and the industry in the long run.
What do you think the biggest gaming trend going forward will be?
With funding and publishing being so much more accessible now, I think we’ll continue to see a lot of small teams making interesting games. You no longer need a huge studio to create a game, and that really opens things up to aspiring developers. I think we’ll see a lot of innovative, niche and mixed genre games coming not just to iOS but to PC and consoles as well. We’ve already seen a lot of cool things for iPhone and I think that’s just the beginning.
Fun question: What game or franchise are you ashamed to admit you enjoy playing?
I might be known to play The Sims Social on Facebook a little… or a lot. I used to mock the Sims franchise but for some reason I find rearranging my Sims house very relaxing and a nice way to unwind. I don’t know why I even tried it, but now I’m hooked. Shh…