Planes – Boring post – Thank You

Not much to say here. It’s early Saturday morning when I had to leave with Jacobs and Max to the airport. We luckily had just enough time to grab food to go (yay for German breakfast making that easily capable) since I never would have made it long enough to wait to be fed on the plane.

Jacobs and I met and talked with a lovely couple in line who were from Mexico, until he left me for the fancy frequent flyers line. But we met again, since he was just a row and two seats away from me. I decided to take advantage of the plane and watch Frozen and Nut Job. Finally know why I don’t much like Frozen.

Standing in the customs line took way too long in Newark, since again Jacobs got to jump through. Panicking all the way to the boarding area, since we were running late because of that damn line, and some guy I think having a hysteria moment while we were touching down (if not hysteria, then they had been calling for medical attention. it made ME panic though…), I and a couple who had also been on the Berlin flight were eased in our fears when the plane had ended up delayed for whatever reason. I forgot to take my computer out of my bag, so I had to go through the conveyor belt again… I said goodbye to the nice old woman who was flying to Nashville whom I’d met on the bus, and boarded my final flight. I had a seat all to myself too! Way to go Dad!

Landing at home was much easier than the first time, and I felt much more experienced than when I’d left. I found my mother easily as I was going down to baggage claim, and the rest was in their hands then. I was done and tired, and wanted to go home. Turns out? I felt the effects of Germany time zones for the next few days after crashing the first one.

The only left to do and say is a final thank you to all of those who helped out, who helped us, who helped me. Thank you for having us. Thank you for putting up with us. Thank you for thinking highly enough of us that you welcomed us into your country and your home and showed us what’s it’s like to be there. It was a great experience, and I do feel and hope that I am a greater person after meeting you all and getting to know you. I hope to keep in touch with some of you, and to the rest I have only the highest wishes of luck.

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Dawn of the Final Day

A very historical day, at that. June 6th hadn’t meant anything to me in the past, until you realize you’re in the country it all happened.

Breakfast. Something I’ve welcomed while over here, save for the lack of cold milk. And it’s one of the last I’d have here, until some future date. The rain from yesterday had quit, and it was hot today for our train/walk to the ever anticipated Computerspiele Museum. I actually like it much better than the Strong Museum, which had let me down very hard when I went there my freshman year. This was much more… attuned to my interests? I don’t know, I love museums but I’m am quickly bored if something doesn’t stimulate me enough. ‘Tis why I prefer to do museums with those familiar, or alone. However, it had much to offer. I especially enjoyed the exhibit on the West/East video games during and after the wartime. It was so curious to see how people looked at and reflected on things depending on how they were growing up or what their laws were, and why. I kind of also love that in the East, Russia was being China for a while and making rip-offs of other games to suit their needs~ On top of that, the wall display of console’s through the ages grabbed my attention. People are always so surprised that I have a 3DO, and I’m always entertained by it. The 3D game Jorg showed me was really cool, too. I got lucky that my own motion sickness doesn’t kick in with visual things.

I went with the group to eat, and since I was craving burgers we actually found a cafe and bar right where we exited the train. As it happened, I forgo’d the burger that I can get at home and went with London style breakfast. Turns out, I got the best deal for my money. Two eggs, big sausage, basket of bread plus roll, english baked beans (it was like tomato soup with kidney beans) a small salad aka a thing of lettuce with some cucumber, and strawberries~ Only problem? It took so long for food to get there, we only had maybe twenty minutes or so to eat! I was panicking, don’t know if anyone else was, but we all managed to eat with time to spare. The meetup was only a few minutes walk. But the music at the place was so boring. Why do clubs feel the need to play the same measure of a bassline over and over? It was easy to tune out, though, while watching some World of Tanks videos.

Which brings us to our next and final visiting place, the one and only Wargames. Turns out? RIGHT in between the souvenir shop Steven and I had visited a few days back, and the Ampelmann store we went to yesterday. It was RIGHT THERE. JUST up the block. Damn Italian restaurant and construction, hiding my view of the street.

At Wargaming we met up with Rico again, who’s a student at the Games Academy. This visit, while slightly rushed because the guys were all heading to E3 soon (LONG flight), was much better than the other two I feel. They sat down with us individually, which gave us their focus and them ours. Wargaming Berlin is small, of only three guys, but we learned a lot about what they do and especially some fun talks about how the games are going and their futures with Mr. Putzki (if I’m remembering and refreshing correctly). We had a fun talk with him, and he explained how some of the combining of game accounts worked on the different platforms, and wondered like I did what the bigger guys upstairs would say to doing it on the consoles and tablets like what they were doing on the PC. It gave me a great father’s day/birthday gift too. I liked their idea of ‘free to win’ rather than ‘free to play’. It actually felt much more… honest about the whole thing, and gave a better idea about what they were into. I’m not much into tactical or strategy gaming, but I want to give their games a try and I think my dad would be into it. Plus, a ‘war’ game industry in a very ‘no war’ country, in most regards. Very interesting how they managed to get there.


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A day of freedom

Note for the future: get a GPS based in whatever country you’re in.

We had a lovely surprise this morning when some of us had gotten up for breakfast. It took Tona to correct me that the very familiar laugh I’d heard wasn’t Jorg, but in fact another teacher of mine from the past. I loved Katie’s class last year, and seeing her in Berlin with us was just icing on the cake. Sadly, my reverie was quickly lost.

Since I ended up lost…

You see, while one group went off to the zoo and I planned on joining the later group, there was some shopping I wanted to do for family back home. Those who’ve read my Facebook about this, you can just skip ahead. You see, I wanted to go to the Ampelmann store, among other things. Jorg gave me a quick set of directions before he was off to an important meeting, to which I followed for the most part. But nothing looked familiar, so on the note abut the GPS thing, it kept trying to lead me WAY too far away. So, I spent the better part of an hour and a half lost, upset, pissed, and nervous. Then it rained… You see, I don’t do so well on the ‘lost’ thing, especially when I saw this as my last chance to do this. I was the only one who wanted to go, and even less so now. I was incredibly pissed off that I’d wasted the perfect two hour block to do what I wanted, and it usually doesn’t lead to good things. So, I managed to find my way back to the hotel and relatively hide how upset these things can make me. Why am I telling you this, even? It’s not pertinent, and it certainly has no real bearing…

But the day got much better, when I decided not to waste time trying to cry it out and join the others for the Zoo. The day was uphill from there on, thankfully. For the most part.

The zoo was pretty incredible, and they really did have more species than back home. The safety standards must be different though, ’cause all of us were so used to being kept behind large fences and pits that the shin high ‘fence’ of most of the exhibits was…. strange. Nice! But strange. We all decided to all take one, maybe two, animals and then hide in another country~ Also, Hornbills are loud and slightly annoying when TJ and I aren’t trying to communicate with birds.

However, I owe lots of thanks to Steven (Shing) for putting up with me and going with me to the Ampelmann store later on. There was some time between the zoo and going to eat in Ku’damm (??), and he was kind enough to ‘show me around’ before getting to the store. He’s already mentioned we got a little lost, but he gave me some history lessons to buildings we were passing by. I never though I could fall in love with a building, a gate no less. Brandenburg, what terrors you’ve gone through without so much as a scratch~

We ran out of time pretty quickly after getting lost, so getting to where Jacobs and the other’s were – with two quickly dying phones – was interesting. After making the decision that our way was better, by hopping a train early and taking a bus, we got there much quicker than originally planned. Even as I panicked about the biker in front of the bus. You people really don’t care on the roads, do you!? It was worth it. The food was good, and the strudel was even better~ I wish I’d had more than the bruschetta though. Did I have soup? I think so. It all blended into goodness. I just know that we were at Prime, and I’d love to go again. They put blankets for all the outside chairs!

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The Reich… of politics and parties

Okay, bad title is bad. Just because I’m an author/writer doesn’t mean I’m always clever. Stop making me impress you people!

First stop, the Bunderstag. (I think someone called it the Reich?) Mainly, the glass dome on top, which was pretty impressive. It overlooks all the important buildings of Germany, and from the audio tape we all had (which took a little while to figure out) we found out what a good portion of them all were. I mainly loved listening to the info about the tall golden statue, that had caught my eye earlier in the day (and to which I would see up close later), and the large bell tower. It was incredible up there, and the giant grate was actually a sun blind! It moves, though you’d never be able to tell. I have to agree with Steven though, that once you start going up and get up to the top it gets really hot. It’s covered in mirrors, so it’s no wonder with it reflecting direct sunlight all day. I can’t remember everything the tape told me, but it did tell us about the zoo – to which me and those around me agreed that we wanted to go there the following day.

In between, we had some free time. So Gabby and I went to do a shopping thing, to which I was out of luck with, and some food. I loved whatever that soup was at the Vietnamese place in the mall~

Going to the Christian Democrat Union (CDU) presented a lot more for me to think about. Yes, we all jumped on the word Christian, but come on. American christians tend to be a little… out there. And loud. And irrational. And it’s all we hear about. Sorry about those who are not this way, I know of you and I know you, but it’s still the predominating idea. I’m still not sure how a christian political party would work in the US, and I feel like someone would take advantage of it. We have a long way to go before we can work like that, I should think… But our speaker, whose name I now forget, was pretty informative to how the CDU works and told us a lot about Angela Merkel (whom I had liked when I learned some government stuff in high school). We sadly didn’t get the chance to meet her, but I did get to check out some of the posters through the ages. They were kind enough to offer us drinks, to which the caffine sadly didn’t help. It never does. However, the extended lecture on the views and inner workings of the party and especially how they are viewing video games and culture (one of their members, friend of Jorg’s, talked about leapfrog and Skyrim) leans more into my data bank on how Europe is different than America and how both have their pros and cons. They’re working on a more opt out culture, even though I think that an opt in culture has it’s benefits. (Looking at you, Facebook and your constant needless changes without a word that nobody likes.)

Last stop for most, second to last for me. Going to the Games Academy in Berlin was great for meeting new people. Though I’m intimidated by those who are older and better at things then me, I got lucky that most were easy to talk with. I think Christian and Tobias helped make that much easier (the two are such hams), and having a ‘what’s out to kill you’ contest – no idea how that started – was pretty fun. Of course I lost to an Australian, no way am I challenging that, but my little PA has plenty of dangers to offer~ I met lots of people here at the party, and had some incredible food. Most of those I met I now have on Facebook, so the website gets a few more points back I suppose. And I am somehow now an official game tester for some of the guys for when they need it. (I enjoyed exploding too much with the game Christian showed me~) After the meetup, I went out with some of the other students, joined by Bernd and Lukas, to try some of the local joints for drink. My first waitress was actually from Philly, which happily surprised me. Then Volker dragged the three of us plus more to another place that we had trouble finding. And getting out of. Bernd and I had to hail a cab since we couldn’t find how to get back to the train station! It was fun, though, getting to know some of the others.

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King. Wooga. Mid-Life Crisis?

I get pretty nervous when pitching things. It makes me forget important details sometimes. I also forgot to mention in my last post that I had a very long, very informative with Jorg about my game, other games, and things pertaining to how I can go from here.

Today we met up after breakfast so that we could finally present the winning games to King (Industries? Incorporated?) in Berlin. They’re relatively new to this area, and so they were much smaller than I expected. I liked it. My team wasn’t one that won, but I was lucky enough to present one of the games that I personally thought was one of the best. They had an all German team, so none of them were coming to Berlin with us. Classes and all. When I heard they still didn’t have someone, I volunteered. I didn’t get much info, since the initial emails came let, and the ones forwarded to me never when through (Google what the heck!?). But I had enough to get the points across. I wasn’t sure about talking about my own game for varying reasons, both personal and not, but I got the gist across without going into too much detail. They seemed to like that. I had some lovely talks with some of their artists (Iman got better info~) and I spoke with Ms. Nora about when they hire, since the German school system is shifted from ours, and the business’s are a little shifted from that. Turns out I’ll have to wait about three months to actually hear anything? But that’s okay, I can be patient enough. Especially since the lovely people there actually really liked me talking and that I presented another group.

We were let loose for a while, and I honestly can’t remember what it was I did. I remember the visit to Wooga much better.

Their refurbished building was very comfortable and open, even if the teams were buried in their work. Well, when you’ve got multiple live going games, you kind of have to be on the ball. Anne, who showed us around was very clear and easy to talk to, and the presenters all knew what they were doing. I have to hand it to both King and Wooga (though Wooga caught my attention better), they made me realize I wasn’t giving casual games the credit they really deserved. I was being childish in my ‘console ways’ and almost thinking it was beneath me? Hoo boy am I wrong, and I realized I was only jumping onto some unknown bandwagon. I’m going to give them a better shot in the future, and I thank King and Wooga for showing me that. It opens up opportunities that consoles can’t, and a better range for me to expand my expertise. I think I’d love to be the concept and artist for companies like this, who create these lovely and imaginative characters that I’m really starting to adore… stupid squishy gummi looking things.
-> Will the universe just please send me a sign of what I’m supposed to be doing? There’s so many choices that I really, really like!

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06/06 – Pew Pew

<– Computer Games Museum –>

Our first stop during our final day of the study abroad program was at the computer games museum. Other than the strong museum back in Rochester, I didn’t have much experience with game museums. It was quite different, but I still liked it a lot.

We listened to a presentation from some of the members of the museum. They talked about their plans for expansion and some of the other projects that they’re helping out with.

After the presentation, we were given a tour of the various sectors of the museum. Each sector had a different time era, and we were explained the advancement in games throughout the years, both analog and digital.

After the tour, we had a chance to play some of the games that they had available. The one I looked forward to playing the most was the Pain Station, which was a game that would inflict physical damage on the players whenever they lost a point in pong. This kind of interaction was something very different to me than what I’m used to in games, so I was curious as to how it would go down. Continue reading

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06/05 – Zoo

Unfortunately, my pictures from this day onward have not been edited yet, so I won’t be able to upload them here just yet.

<– Zoo –>

From before the trip had started, a group of us had agreed to go to the zoo. The Berlin Zoo, to be more specific – which houses the greatest selection in species of any zoo in the world! That’s pretty awesome. I prepared both of my SD cards and two battery packs in order to be able to take as many pictures as possible before I ran out of juice.

It was raining in the beginning, so the group I was with started adventuring in the aquarium. There were all sorts of sea creatures big and small, but my favorite were definitely the jellyfish. They were majestic in a way, with the way they moved and their bright colors.

After a few hours in the aquarium, the rain had died down and my group was able to get back outside to get shots of the rest of the animals. I can’t quite remember the paths we took, but we didn’t have time to explore the entirety of the zoo before everyone got tired.

I had a chance to watch seals and wolves get fed. Both of these were cute in their own way. The wolf feeding was definitely not kid friendly, since the wolves were tearing away at rabbits and chickens that had been fed to them. It sort of reminded me of something that would be seen in the discovery channel. Continue reading

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06/04 – Abbreviations everywhere

<– CDU –>


We had a chance to do more government stuff today. We visited the parliament building and were able to meet members of the Christian Democratic Union – one of the largest political parties in Germany. There were talks about data protection and more information regarding views on the opt-in system.

Fortunately, one of the members expressed interest in seeing the German game industry developing in the upcoming years. Mainly, the integration of games into the education sector. This would greatly increase the popularity of games as well as bring down the negative connotation now seemingly applied to games and gamers alike.

Continue reading

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06/03 – Queen Agoow

<– Jam’s final stand –>

At long last, the day to present the polished version of Food Friends to came had arrived. I was in charge of doing a final push to add mobile functionality (touch events), so I was rushing to get the functionality in at the last minute. Luckily, we got an extended time to get ready before heading to King, so I was able to run back into my apartment to apply the last few touches.

<– Presenting the jam –>

Unfortunately, King was still in the process of setting up their permanent location for their Berlin studio, so we were unable to see what a completed King studio would look like. IMG_0005


Nonetheless, we were greeted warmly by the team. They had some swag laid out in a table near the entrance to the studio, and I managed to get a shot of it before discovering that I wasn’t allowed to take pictures of the rest of the studio :( IMG_0006

Continue reading

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06/02 – Berlin flavored jam

<– Jam everywhere–>

Although falling asleep on my buddy Bernd’s shoulder during the train ride to Berlin, I was able to get myself to wake up and continue working on the game. While talking to some of the team members, I was able to think of how to solve some of the game-breaking bugs that we were experiencing. Something I wish would happen more often, but nonetheless the fixes were quickly applied and we were on the road to a more polished game.

<– Parliament –>

We were supposed to go to parliament, but unfortunately the plans didn’t go through quite like we had planned. We still went to the building and we had the chance to meet two of the members who spoke to us about how ratings are handled in Germany and the way privacy is handled in Germany. Rather than opting out of a system after being automatically included, Germany requires that citizens opt in to a system. That is, nothing is automatically forced upon the citizens unless they give permission. That’s pretty interesting, though it can definitely lead to hassles like the google maps example that they gave.

<– Foggy memories –>

After parliament, I’m not sure what everyone, including myself, decided to do. I unfortunately seem to have lost the pictures of that day, so I can’t recall what I did for the rest of the day.


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