PERSPECTIVE — For Black. By Nerds. BlerdCon Is A Sacred Space For Blerds.

By Paul “Tru1P” Holston | @Tru1P | 5:15 PM EST, Fri., Aug. 23, 2019

After the weekend of July 12-14 at Blerdcon 2019, the experience, lessons, and memories all affirm that I am, indeed, a Blerd. 
Growing up, I was that biracial child who knew that he didn’t fit with the crowds, but had a hard time finding my own identity. I was a shy, introverted (but funny), young Black & Puerto Rican boy just trying to figure myself out in Summerville, South Carolina. When I wasn’t going to school, I was immersed into the video game world letting my youthful imagination run wild through the television screen with my gaming consoles and through my mobile gaming devices. You could say I was a video game junkie ever since I first recalled getting my first ever video game: Super Mario World for the Super Nintendo. From then, the love of video games carried me over from Super Nintendo to Playstation 1, Nintendo 64, various Game Boys, Playstation 2, Xbox/Xbox 360 to now the current Playstation 4, PC, and Nintendo Switch. I could go on and on in compiling every game I’ve played back then, but from 2009-2013 I took a big hiatus on gaming when I went into the military. While I began to slowly get back into it in 2013, it wasn’t until last year that I really re-immersed myself in both the gaming world and went deeper into beginning to educate myself about industry as a whole.
Over the last year, through social media platforms Twitter, Twitch, Discord, and Mixer, I have been able to connect with other Black and People of Color gamers that not only look like me, but all have a universal interest of enjoying video games through The Cookout gaming community organization. It wasn’t until I went to my first gaming convention (at least I consider it to be this type) that was BlerdCon that I realized that being a Black nerd is one of the coolest, most liberating thing that one can be.


If you didn’t know, according to their website, “Blerdcon is an event that highlights and celebrates Blerd culture and creates a marketplace of ideas where sharing that culture can take place with proper context, attribution and positivity in an inclusive environment. Blerdcon is derived from the term ‘Blerd’ which is short for Black nerd. Blerd culture encompasses creatives, fans, producers who are and have been contributing to every fandom, but don’t get the recognition or notoriety. Blerdcon celebrates our connection with LGBTQ, the disabled, PoCs and the international community!”
The entire weekend at BlerdCon this year was full of energy, excitement, love, laughter, and above all, Blackness. Granted, it was also an inclusive space, but to be quite honest, I’ve never seen so many Black anime, comic, sci-fi, and gaming people all in once space. I think the first day I really just observed my surroundings of seeing Black people of all ages be themselves…comfortably. And that’s really important through this small microcosm, compared to the entire peripheral of Nerd culture. The fact of the matter is that you don’t see a lot of the mainstream industry give opportunities for Blerds to truly be themselves in a public setting (and if they do, some Blerds are met with criticism of discrimination, sexism, and/or racism). Conventions can “try” to create these “diversity” spaces in order to check off the list that they’ve included the minority, but in terms of safe spaces, it is us…Black and PoC…who have to create these spaces. Point Blank.
Having the opportunity to not only meet, but spend quality time with over 30 members of The Cookout affirmed that we all are a part of the community for a reason. That reason truly embodies the purpose of the community in being “a safe space for People of Color; specifically for content creators of color to create dope content and help each other.” I look forward to continuing to build these relationships with this community and hope to see us in bigger numbers with each event that most of us are all able to come together to.
In terms of the business side of the convention, while BlerdCon exuded the expectation that it was Blerd-focused, there were some things that I wish could have been a bit better (this is constructive feedback that I hope they can take as such to help make next year even more successful). The two biggest things that puzzled me was a question mark on leaving full details of the panels, such as “Who” exactly were hosting these panels. While most of us who did go to these panels found out who they were while attending, it would have been nice to get their information beforehand to understand who they were and what they do. Also, I would hope that the venue will indeed have to expand in some sort of way next year (which is a good thing!) as for some areas, such as panel locations and community areas, just seemed way too congested at times.
At the end of it all, when walking out the venue and going back home, the entire experience indeed affirmed that I am, indeed, a Blerd. And let it be known that there are many variations of a Blerd…as we are all not the same. What I will say though is being a Blerd is dope. Being a Blerd is cool. Being a Blerd gives the world a little (or in my case a lot) of culture and inspiration for future generations to be who they are. 
In other words…Blerd out kinfolk! See y’all at BlerdCon “Chocolate City” 2020!
https://twitter.com/blerdconDC/status/1156407132343939077
_______
Paul “Tru1P” Holston is a multimedia journalist, photographer, and content creator residing in Washington, D.C. He is an administrator for The Cookout and a down-to-Earth Gamer with a passion on the intersections of Video Games, Race, and Culture. You can find him streaming at mixer.com/Tru1P or twitch.tv/Tru1P.
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Perspective — How Video Games Taught Me to Accept Failure

By Michael “Auronblade60” Williams | @Auronblade60 | 2:55 PM EST, Fri. July 19, 2019
Video games can be hard. 
Certain games like Dark Souls have almost built a legacy around being difficult and overcoming those challenges; However, in the case of most games, they are not built around failure. To fail in most video games is to die and simply respawn. It is a punishment which takes away more of the player’s time or loss of an item or experience. However, in a subsection of games, failure is a part of the process and not the end of the road.
Continue reading “Perspective — How Video Games Taught Me to Accept Failure”

Post #E32019: Top 10 Indie Games Picks For The Upcoming Season

By Jazzmin “BunnieBlue” Windom | @HunnieBunz12:45 PM EST, Fri. July 19, 2019
With the hype from E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) still lingering in the minds of many gamers, all the big name AAA titles seemed to be taking all of the spotlight back in June. Little do some know that every now and then, less-known games pop up and catch the eyes of many through the independent, also known as Indie, genre. Below are my top 10 Indie games post E3:
Continue reading “Post #E32019: Top 10 Indie Games Picks For The Upcoming Season”

PRIDE: Tagging Your Allyship

(Photo Credit: Twitch)

By Bokchoi | @a_bokchoi6:50 PM EST, Sun. June 16, 2019
Happy Pride everyone!
For those who many not know how Pride Month came into existence, according to the Library of Congress, “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month is currently celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan. The Stonewall Uprising was a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. Today, celebrations include pride parades, picnics, parties, workshops, symposiums and concerts, and LGBTQ Pride Month events attract millions of participants around the world. Memorials are held during this month for those members of the community who have been lost to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS. The purpose of the commemorative month is to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally.”
Pride is always an interesting month, but even more so with the rise of social media as it is a conduit for voices previously unheard (or only locally accessible) for worldwide broadcast. If you have an internet connection and a keyboard, congratulations, you’ve got yourself a platform.
Thanks to this, even the most nonsensical voices are amplified. Every year, without fail, we see cries for “Straight Pride.” This is ignorance at its finest. In a world where being cisgendered and heterosexual is considered the norm—the default—there is an insistence on having the entire pie to themselves, when there is plenty of pie to go around. It is insulting because Pride is a protest born out of violence, a plea and a stand to ensure our right to exist. Yes, it involves being proud of who we are, but it is also a remembrance of those who came before us to ensure we are persecuted a little less and a condemnation of the violence that pervades our culture when someone is different.
Pride is also unfortunately used as a cash grab. Companies who have never been particularly vocal about LGBTQIA+ rights adorn profile photos with rainbows and fill their platforms with commentary on inclusion. “We see you,” they say, all while toting merchandise that screams “Yas Qween!” and other generic LGBTQIA+-isms they lifted off of a quick Google search. Once it hits July 1st, all of the rainbows and solidarity just vanish because it is no longer profitable. “You’ve had your month,” they seem to say, and then everything is business as usual.
It makes sense though. After all, being an Ally is the new Black; it’s in, it gives you clout, and in a world of woke culture, clout is a highly coveted, social currency. Especially amongst Internet personalities such as Twitch streamers, “wokeness” gives you the ability to build an audience and increases your shot at being an influencer.
Let’s have a quick chat about being an Ally, and the possible performative aspect of it by discussing usage of the LGBTQIA+ tag on Twitch. If you aren’t part of the community, I don’t agree with using the tag.
I’ve seen people using it for “Allyship,” claiming that they’ve created a safe space and are using it to advertise as such.
This leads me to ask: How do you personally know it’s a safe space? If you don’t share that identity and those experiences, how can you claim that you have a safe space for a marginalized community? Marginalized folks know firsthand what needs to be done to keep themselves and those around them safe.They know how to fight for themselves through lived experience. What do you know about the oppression and the violence we face?
Allyship doesn’t equal identity. You can use your platform to help others, but that doesn’t make you LGBTQIA+.
I view tagging as a method for folks to find people just like them. To use the tag, but not share any aspect of those identities, it almost feels like queer-baiting or a way to broaden your audience through inauthentic means. Allies are defined by their actions. Adding a simple tag does not automatically make you an Ally.
You are not oppressed in the same way. Don’t make your Allyship about you. Support the voices that need to be heard. You don’t have to identify as one of us to be an Ally, (that’s the beauty of being an Ally) but to assume a position of being our spokesperson instead of amplifying our voices is centering yourself.
You don’t have to use tags to prove you’re an Ally. That’s just disingenuous and performative.
You may ask while throwing your hands up in exasperation, “So then how can we support the LGBTQIA+ community?” After all, whatever you do seems to be lambasted by the community or labeled as not good enough. Take this article for example; here I am, criticizing the use of something as innocuous as a Twitch tag. Well, this exasperation is mostly due to an assumption Allies like to make. Instead of asking the affected community how to best serve them, most Allies tend to take a stab at what will help, resulting in a lot of showboating and little-to-no actual forward progression. They say, “Hey, I did something!,” in the hopes of hitting that feel-good receptor in their brains. If this upsets you, you may want to reevaluate if you’re truly an Ally. Your feelings shouldn’t come before our rights.
Here’s one suggestion: Instead of using the tag, have panels that indicate that your stream is a LGBTQIA+ friendly place. Have visible rules and actively enforce them. If you notice revolting behavior, such as transphobia or homophobia, strike that hatred down with an intensity as if you were wielding Thor’s Hammer Mjölnir. Boost our voices with your platform, but don’t make it about you.
As for other methods? Ask your LGBTQIA+ friends and family how to better serve them… and not just this month, but all year round.
_______
A_Bokchoi is a jack-of-all-trades artist and content creator based in New York City. When she’s not daydreaming during her 9-to-5, she navigates the waters of adulthood as a Queer Korean-American and focusing on what it means to carry two cultures on her back (while also engaging in weebery and spitting out terrible puns). You can find her streaming at twitch.tv/a_bokchoi.

PERSPECTIVE — QuirkCon Gave Me Life At My First-Ever Gaming Convention

By Bianca “Anca” House | @ancaxec5:30 PM EST, Weds. Jun. 12, 2019

Greetings everyone! It’s your favorite Anca, huehuehue.
Anyway, I had a little something to say that I wanted to share with everyone. Well, I have between a little and a lot to say, and it’s about none other than…QuirkCon!

(Credit: www.QuirkCon.com)

Two weekends ago, I embarked on a trip to my first-ever convention (at least in the gaming world, that is). I had no idea what to expect, where I was actually going, who I was going to meet (except for fellow Cookout member Lila, in which, she’s the one who convinced me to go), so I was just out here living my best life and trying new things. So, I hopped in my car and drove from Greensboro, N.C. to Durham, N.C. ready to take on the weekend.
The con was three days long (which I’m assuming most cons are…?), and I have to say: I have never felt more comfortable around so many people. There were people like myself, people who share my culture, my hobbies and so much more! My favorite part, aside from hanging out with the illustrious #CookoutFam, was my stroll through the Vendor Hall. I know there are talented people out there, but I mean there’s some REALLY talented people out there in my own community that I had no idea existed! It was a paradise for People of Color content creators.
One thing that I really liked the most about QuirkCon was its intimacy. It wasn’t too small, and it wasn’t too big, and I didn’t feel overwhelmed at all. I enjoyed every minute while I was there so much so, that my sister (which I also convinced to go to the con, huehuehue) and I stayed out as long as we possibly could, just so we could experience it all.
I know I briefly mentioned hanging out with Cookout Fam, so I shall expound on it more now: I knew these people were dope, but I mean they are genuine and all around wonderful. I mentioned this in a post on Instagram, but I truly and honestly felt as if I’d known the ones that I met all my life. You know how sometimes you have that uncertainty when meeting people in person for the first time after only talking online? That uncertainty was nonexistent. Unfamiliarity, nonexistent. The Cookout is a family that I’m soooo grateful to have found in my search for a place of belonging.

There were some tears at the end, but they were happy tears because I definitely made some friendships that I needed in my life. I’m grateful to God that I was able to experience something like this.
Kudos to the team that made QuirkCon a realization and a dream come true!

_______
With a love for all things IT, Art and Adventure, Bianca “Anca” House is a harmlessly silly & eccentric creative/gaming streamer and the founder of AncaLogy, her graphic design business. Anca possesses a Ph.D in Laughology, earned from the University of Life in 1995. You can learn more about her at www.anca-logy.com, her site that contains links to all her creative & gaming activities. You can find her streaming at twitch.tv/anca_xec.
 

RECIPES — Meal Prepping: White Chicken Chili, Chicken Fried Rice, Sweet Chili Glazed Turkey Meatballs, and Salmon and Veggies

By NikkiGames11 | @NikkiGames11 | 5:15 PM EST, Mon., April 22, 2019

Cooking: Some love it, some hate it.
Personally, I adore being in the kitchen and creating new meals to enjoy. I’ve been on a health kick lately and have taken up meal prepping as well.
Continue reading “RECIPES — Meal Prepping: White Chicken Chili, Chicken Fried Rice, Sweet Chili Glazed Turkey Meatballs, and Salmon and Veggies”

REVIEW — "The Promised Neverland" Gives Perfect Anime Experience

By King Ether | @_kingether | 5:30 PM EST, Tues., April 9, 2019

“Surrounded by a forest and a gated entrance, the Grace Field House is inhabited by orphans happily living together as one big family, looked after by their “Mama,” Isabella. Although they are required to take tests daily, the children are free to spend their time as they see fit, usually playing outside, as long as they do not venture too far from the orphanage—a rule they are expected to follow no matter what. However, all good times must come to an end, as every few months, a child is adopted and sent to live with their new family… never to be heard from again. However, the three oldest siblings have their suspicions about what is actually happening at the orphanage, and they are about to discover the cruel fate that awaits the children living at Grace Field, including the twisted nature of their beloved Mama.” –Yakusoku no Neverland (The Promised Neverland) Synopsis (Written by My Anime List)

The idea of a place where you don’t grow up into an adult world sounds like heaven to most children. That’s why Disney’s Peter Pan and his adventures in Neverland became so popular to both kids and adults who enjoyed the fictional story of the hero Peter Pan, as well as the other protagonist, Wendy Darling, and her brothers. CloverWorks’ Japanese manga turned anime series “The Promised Neverland” took this concept and put their own dark twist on it. The Promised Land television series adaptation premiered this past January to March of 2019.

STORY: 10/10

The Promised Neverland started great and got better as the debut season premiered. While not going into too much detail, every piece of the show from the visual artistry to the audio production did a good job working together to add more weight in each second of run time.  The show opens with what you would expect in a show that has “Neverland” in the title: Happiness. There seems to be nothing, but good times in this orphanage house with a surprising amount of land. That illusion is quickly short-lived as the main characters Emma, the typical happy shonen protagonist, and Norman, an intelligent and caring child, find out that all is not what it seems. The show does a fantastic job of giving just enough information to keep you interested while still remaining a total mystery. It’s very parallel to show gruesome violence.  The fact that you only see what the kids see and it doesn’t build much on the world around them gives you enough clues that make you want to learn more. By the end, the show didn’t bother to give viewers answers to many of the questions one might have had asked. The show’s intentions I believe wasn’t to answer lingering questions, but in turn, was something I didn’t find myself bothered by. With it all said and done, I felt satisfied with how the season ended.

ART: 10/10

The art in the series is very unique. With it being different, not everyone will have the same opinion on this I’m sure. For me, the slightly, deformed look of the characters threw me off at first, but after a while, I found myself enjoying the art style of the original character designer, Posuka Demizu. Her art really helped emphasize the moods of the characters…whether that be from happiness to pure terror. The visuals also really helped immerse me into their world. I was on the edge of my seat when the characters themselves were figuratively on the edge of their seat.
Since the animation was unique to the series, it made scenes with a lot of fast moment, such as running through the forest, look really good.  Another observation was that every character all looked very different from one another. The main characters look really fit them all in terms of presentation. From Emma’s bright, orange hair, which fit her happy personality, to Ray’s Black hair matching his Sasuke-like demeanor. While the computer-generated imagery (CGI) looked good, it showed up in the last seconds of the show. This didn’t make much sense to me since that was the scene that would take the least amount of effort to draw out animation-wise.

(Source: YouTube)

SOUND: 10/10

CloverWorks studio hit it out of the park with their voice acting selections. I didn’t feel myself being taken out of the immersion of the story by bad voice acting. Mariya Ise, who has worked in shows such as Fairy Tail and Code Geass, was slightly better than her peers for her portrayal of Ray, as I felt that it was a match made in heaven. I enjoyed the selection of “Touch Off” by UVERworld, as it helped set the mood for the show and was overall a good song in general. Especially in the tense moments, the background songs helped enrich the mood of the scenes. In particular, I found myself sweating with my heart beating fast along with the characters in those tight situations.

CHARACTER: 10/10

Every character that had a decent amount of screen time felt alive. The three main characters, Ray, Norman and, Emma, besides being drastically different in terms of looks, all were different in personality. Norman stands out as the character I enjoyed the most because of the way he logically thought and definitely cemented himself as a character that I won’t easily forget. While the main characters had their personal strengths and weakness, the character that shined the brightest was the caretaker of the kids: The Mom. Their humanization was something that by the end of the 12th episode, I found myself empathizing with them.

ENJOYMENT: 10/10

The Promised Neverland is a show I think everyone can enjoy. This show has replay-ability based on the characters alone and being able to see their growth was fantastic. The show could be easily compared to the abstract strategy game of “Go” with both sides attacking and counter-attacking. I think this show might even make into other peoples’ top 10 animes of all-time. As of right now, it is one of the top shows from this past winter season.

OVERALL: 10/10

The Promised Neverland hits every point just right. I felt fully immersed in the story. I was in that house with the kids trying to make sure we worked towards solving the problem. This show told its story very well and made it enjoyable to watch. Every single episode was fantastic and got better as time went on.
_______
King Ether is your everyday nerd just trying to write about the things he loves in life. You can find him streaming on Twitch at www.twitch.tv/king_ether.

COLUMN — “Blacks At Xbox:” Great Community. Not-So-Great Marketing.

"Black At Xbox" Logo

By Paul “Tru1P” Holston | @Tru1P | 5:30 PM EST, Thurs. March 28, 2019

This is a friendly reminder to both you as a reader and to all gaming companies across the world: Black people should not be your go-to diversity-marketing ploy. Please include diversity and inclusion in your original branding, objectives and mission values.
“Tokenism,” according to the Merriam Webster dictionary, is defined as: “The practice of doing something (such as hiring a person who belongs to a minority group) only to prevent criticism and give the appearance that people are being treated fairly.” I’m bringing this word to you for a reason.
Continue reading “COLUMN — “Blacks At Xbox:” Great Community. Not-So-Great Marketing.”

Garlic Buffalo Chicken Sliders

– Blax Edition –

Most of this shit you can find in your crib. Let’s start with the Seasonings and work our way down.
~ For these fire Buffalo Sliders you will need the following ~

  • Seasonings: Salt, Pepper, Garlic Salt, Lawry’s  Season Salt, Fresh Parsley
  • Ingredients: Butter, Eggs, Milk, Flour, Chicken Breast, King’s Hawaiian Sweet Rolls, Parmesan Cheese, Sweet Baby Ray’s Buffalo Sauce
  1.  Thaw and unpack your Chicken Breast, usually 2 Breast per Sweet Roll Pack.
  2. Clean and Season your Chicken with Salt and Pepper then set aside.
  3.  Get 3 Eggs Crack and set into a bowl. Add Milk, Salt, and Pepper. Whisk till that shits smoother than MJ’s moonwalk. This will be your Egg Wash.
  4. 2 Big Spoons (Those Spoons Bigger than the regular ones) of Flour onto a Plate.
  5. Thoroughly soak your Chicken in the Egg Wash.
  6. Then Batter by slappin’ them thangs on the plate of Flour. FLOUR BOTH SIDES.

Now it’s time to get down and dirty.
Let’s start with cooking the chicken then work our way to the finished Product.
We’ll be using a Skillet and the Oven for these parts.
Step 1: Set fire to mid heat and lather the Skillet with a Regular spoon of Butter.
Step 2: Slap Chicken onto the Skillet and season both sides with Salt, Pepper, Season Salt, and Garlic Salt. Season till you feel it in your soul. Cook chicken thoroughly.
Step 3: Place freshly cooked and seasoned chicken in a bowl and shred with 2 forks till done.
Step 4: Set fire to mid to low heat, pour half the bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s Buffalo Sauce into the skillet and mix with a regular spoon full of Butter. Add in Garlic salt and Pepper. Mix till smooth. Add shredded chicken into skillet and Mix thoroughly.
Step 5: Pull out a Pack of King’s Hawaiian Sweet Rolls and cut from end to end. You will have the top half and bottom half of the Rolls separated.
Step 6: Put fresh Garlic Buffalo Shredded Chicken over bottom half of the Sweet Rolls then layer with Parmesan Cheese.
Step 7: Put top half of Sweet Rolls on top and lather the top with the remaining Egg Wash and butter. Sprinkle Parmesan over the top with some Fresh Parsley and its ready to bake.
Step 8: Set oven to 400 degrees and wait for preheat. Put Sliders into oven for 10 minutes. THEN BOOM YOU GOT MUHFUCKIN FIRE OP BOMB ASS BLAXBOYARDEEEEEEE SLIDERS FAM. I MEAN JUST LOOK  AT THIS SHIT MAN!!!!
If they dont look like this you must’ve fucked up somewhere idk.
Serve with a dipping sauce of your Choice and enjoy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!