Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Not For Sale...

Please let me take brief moment to shine a light on a growing problem: slavery. You hear about it occasionally in the news as "human trafficking," yet it happens much more than occasionally. It happens every day, everywhere in the world, even "first world" nations, even our own. Children of all ages and adults are enslaved, either sold by their families to pay a debt, or simply kidnapped. Often they are not only subjected to a dehumanizing life of forced labor, those trapped in slavery, children included, are raped and abused or forced into prostitution. And it doesn't matter what color skin or political background they come from, it's all the same: they're not free in even the most basic meaning of the word.

To begin my own involvement, I turned to these groups who not only get the word out but who work actively to free individual slaves, provide a safe harbor and give the support individuals need to escape slavery:

Not For Sale—is an intervention program that staffs safehouses and sponsors individuals so they can be freed.

End It Movement—the first step is knowing this problem exists and spreading the word, using social media as well as other awareness campaigns.

Exodus Cry—focused on prevention through prayer, awareness and reform by changing legislation that allows slavery to proliferate.

This isn't a happy subject, not one we want to think about when there is so much else going on. It's hard to face. But we can't stay in the dark about it. Or not talk about it or call it anything other than what it is. President Obama says this about the issue:

"It ought to concern every person, because it is a debasement of our common humanity. It ought to concern every community, because it tears at our social fabric. It ought to concern every business, because it distorts markets. It ought to concern every nation, because it endangers public health and fuels violence and organized crime. I'm talking about the injustice, the outrage, of human trafficking, which must be called by its true name—modern slavery."
Ignore that word "modern", though. It adds a hip vibe to the problem when, in actuality, it is far worse and more people are currently enslaved in far wider reaches across the globe than many times in history. It's overwhelming to consider so let's start by acknowledging they need our help and start looking for a way to help them. Please begin with the first and most potent way to help: pray. Then don't be too shy to talk about it, to share something about it on Facebook or send a tweet on the issue, and then do something.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Overlooked Gems...More Best Games of 2012

When it came to cumulating a list of 2012's best games, the competition was fierce, especially in some categories. It was impossible to include everyone's favorites, short of cage fights and pony tossing contests, we had to make compromises to account for a variety of factors. As a result, some games didn't make the list, as awesome as they were. Imagine an episode of Chopped where two chefs each made three exceedingly amazing dishes; someone gets "chopped" for the smallest of errors. Well, the same was true behind the scenes of Jayisgames' Best of 2012.

Thus, here's my own list: More Best Games from 2012 (part 1 of 4)...

TOGETHER ALONE This narrative puzzle game from Jan Niestadt and Gijs Rosengarten of Qwok Games is unique, artistic, engaging and thoughtful. First made for a game jam competition, the authors improved their creation, smoothing the level progression and fleshing out gameplay. Deserving of kudos for originality as well as overall quality, Together Alone didn't quite muster the attention it might have gotten if the puzzle category of 2012 hadn't been brimming full of strong contenders.

KVEENDOLNITZA The charm in Jacek Szleszyński's Samorost-like point-and-click adventure far exceeds its boundaries. On first look, the surreal artwork alone is attention-grabbing. While, upon play, it seems to lack a bit of flow and polish, Kveendolnitza's every component and quality work together to exude the personality of one tiny protagonist: Triton. Which is why this game is worthy of a second look.

WEIRDOS ON A TRAIN Part of the Something Amiss series of games, Tucker Bowen's escape adventure manages to be, yes, weird, but also quite lovely in how it presents the story and draws its players into the atmosphere, which is an offbeat yet perfectly logical mish-mash of strange characters traveling on a train. Here's a game series that manages to strike its own chord, especially for those who highly appreciate uniqueness.

And...if you liked Weirdos on a Train, be sure to also check out: Stupid Cat Snatching Goblins.

THE WISH It's hard to describe this lovely piece of art and music as "merely a game." This BeardShaker Games creation is much more like a diminutive interactive postcard, one that is outstandingly gorgeous and emotionally effective albeit lacking gameplay. It is completely unique in format and style for that reason. Whenever you want to share something beautiful with someone you care about, try sending him or her a link to The Wish.