For the month of February, we have miss Kessel Run. She's a tattoo artist, freelance illustrator, gamer and all around geek. From games like Mass Effect and Deus Ex, to tabletop RPGs like Call of Cthulu and Dungeons & Dragons, she's also a huge book nerd and Star Wars fanatic. Oh, and happy birthday Kessel!
C4G: Hey there Kessel! Please introduce yourself to all our lovely readers please!
Kessel: Hello out there! I hail from the great white North known as Canada. Don’t be scared, we are a friendly people. I’m a bilingual French Canadian also known as Maery, currently residing in Montreal, living with my two cats and a mass of books, DVDs, games and art supplies. I work as a Tattoo artist specializing in realism and nerdiness, but I also get work as a freelance science-fiction & fantasy illustrator. I’m a tidy non-smoker who plays well with others.
C4G: So, tell us how a typical day of miss Kessel Run would be like.
Kessel: Well, my day usually starts with me hitting the snooze button a few too many times. I’m a big sleeper. So I inevitably curse myself and my laziness as I race through my morning shower to get ready. Then I obsessively check Reddit, Cracked, my emails and catch up on my social media over a morning coffee. After that, it’s art time. I work at the studio working on whatever project I have on the table: a Transformer tattoo, character designs, book covers, etc. Afterwards, when I’ve put in my day’s work, it’s play time. At the moment, most of my nights are spent hanging out on Nar Shaddaa playing my Gunslinger in the Old Republic. But I get up to all sorts of shenanigans at night. Anything from games, to a white wolf LARPs to impromptu Karaoke can happen any given day. The perfect day, however, would end with a nice glass of Scotch and some good memories. Or perhaps saving the galaxy.
C4G: Alright, so I see that you're a huge gamer. Tell us a couple of games that you're currently playing?
Kessel: Well, I already mentioned Old Republic, which is currently my main rotation game. I fell in love with it when I first played the Taral V flashpoint at PAX East last year. It’s my first MMO and I am so glad that I saved myself for my one true love - Star Wars. Because really, it's everything I could have wanted. Combines my love of Knights of the Old Republic with being social AND role playing, so it’s all full of win.
As for others, I’m slowly making my way through Deus Ex. And I say slowly because that game kicks my ass, but I refuse to give up or change the difficulty because I’m stubborn. The original broke my brain by being the first FPS/RPG action game I had ever played. I really like how Human Revolution still has an amazing story, and I love its style and feel. Very atmospheric.
Lastly, I would like to give a shout-out to Bioshock. Yes, the original. I pick it up for next to nothing because I always heard a lot about it and damn, it’s good. I usually keep a wide berth from shooters because I have trouble hitting the broad side of a barn but this game really defies genre. It’s moody and has great story. I blew through it practically overnight.
C4G: Since you're more of an RPG gamer, tell us some of your favorites!
Kessel: Baldur’s Gate, and it’s spiritual sucessor, Dragon Age: Origins. Alistair’s my loving Husband. Did I mention I’m the Queen of Ferelden? Pretty much anything BioWare has ever made, like Neverwinter Nights, Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect, etc., would make it on this list. Others include Deus Ex, Chrono Trigger, Diablo, Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines and the Elder Scrolls series.
For more traditional table top pen & paper RPGs, I like a lot of different games like 7 Seas, Heroquest and Call of Cthulu. But I tend to default back to White Wolf and Dungeons & Dragons. Anyone else remember THACO?
C4G: Fantastic choices! And you play tabletop RPGs, how fucking awesome. Hm, any other gaming genres you like to play?
I play a bit of everything. I really enjoy puzzle games like the Incredible Machine, Portal, LIMBO and Myst to name a few. But if it’s good, I’ll give it a shot. You never know until you try! Hell, I’m even currently addicted to the Sims. Didn’t see that one coming.
C4G: The Sims? I remember that. Um… about Mass Effect, didn't you cosplay as Commander Shepard? How did that turn out? Did you make the costume?
Kessel: I most certainly did! And despite all odds it turned out to be completely awesome. I chronicled the adventure on my YouTube channel because I was almost certain it would be a disaster and I wanted to keep some sort of record for posterity’s sake so I wouldn’t try something that insane again. But somehow I managed to pull it off. I made the whole thing lovingly out of EVA foam tiles, making a pattern from scratch, heat shaping, and then painting the whole things with a mix of wax paints and acrylics. I even spray painted a Renegade star on the left shoulder because I’m crazy like that.
C4G: That is just too awesome. Alrighty, tell us some of your most anticipated games of 2012.
Kessel: Mass Effect 3. That goes without saying, but I said it anyways. I’m also waiting on my limited edition Star Wars Xbox + Kinect bundle in 2012. Bioshock Infinite looks pretty sweet, and I absolutely cannot wait for The Last Guardian and Diablo 3.
C4G: If Diablo 3 ever comes out. Dammit. So, by the look of things, you're more of a PC and Xbox gamer. Do you own, or have owned any other consoles?
Kessel: My first taste of gaming was on the original Nintendo and I would play Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 with my brother non-stop. He was Leonardo, and I was Michelangelo. I owned an SNES for the sole reason of playing Chrono Trigger again, and again, and again. I rocked out to Golden Eye on the N64. I had a Playstation and a well-loved copy of Driver and Final Fantasy Tactics.
C4G: Okay, you're stuck on an island with only one game you could play...
Kessel: Ohhhhhhhhhh no! Why would you do this to me? Can’t I just find a wi-fi signal and sign into my Steam Account? No? Okay… if I had to choose? It would be Baldur’s Gate.
C4G: Okay, let's step out of gaming for a second. Now, there are a couple of of really awesome movies coming out this year. Any you're looking forward to?
Kessel: The Hobbit, The Dark Knight Rises, and Cloud Atlas. The book was amazing! That, plus the team of the Matrix + Run Lola, Run? I’m in! Oh, and The Life of Pi, another which I also loved the book, and Ang Lee is a beautiful director. Also, Total Recall, but I’m actually pretty terrified they’re going to ruin one of my favorite classics.
C4G: Favorite movie of all time. Go.
Kessel: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It’s a perfect mix of romance, tragedy and Science Fiction. To me, it really lets the characters shine in a way that few other films do - their greatest strengths are also their hubris. Classic sci-fi using technology to show us something important about the human condition.
C4G: Seeing how you seem like a sci-fi and fantasy book geek, could you recommend us a good book or series to read?
Kessel: Well, every one's talking about the Game of Thrones books and for good reason. I started reading them back in High School and they are worth the hype, so if you haven’t read them, they should be on your list. I also highly recommend Snow Crash, 1984, Flowers For Algernon, Ender’s Game, any Phillip K Dick title, Dune, Foundation and Otherworld series. I also read everything and anything to do with Arthurian lore, so I always go back to re-reading Le Morte D’Arthur, Once and Future King, and the infamous Mists of Avalon.
C4G: Tell us some of your favorite comics!
Kessel: I don’t read as many as I would like, but my all-time favorite is David Mack’s Kabuki, and my current favorite is Fables. I really love Allan Moore’s stuff, specifically From Hell and Lost Girls, and I have collector’s editions of both. Going back to my Arthur obsession, I must mention the often forgotten epicness of ‘Camelot 2000’. Mouse Guard, Sandman and Ultimate Avengers are on the list too.
C4G: Do you have any other cool and geeky hobbies you can share with us?
Kessel: I make stuff. A lot of stuff, and it’s generally geeky in nature. I’ve made costumes, R2D2 dresses, and I even make super villain My Little Ponies, Dragon Age pin-ups, customized Xbox controllers… you name it! I can make it. I also hustle at Ski-ball at arcades and theme parks. I spent a lot of time at Chuck-E-Cheese as a kid and I use my skills to win absurdly over-sized stuffies.
C4G: Do you attend any gaming or media conventions?
Kessel: Yes! I was brought to my first convention when I was 12 and met my then-idol Marina Sirtis and I’ve been hooked ever since. I have a few conventions I make it out to every year, or at least I try to. This year I’m going to Gen Con for the first time in awhile and I have the privilege of helping run the biggest White Wolf LARP there working with Darkness Remembered. I’ll be helping run changeling - so if you make it out there, come play!
Last year, I had the honor of attending both PAX East and E3 with Game Crush as a representative and Certified Playdate. E3 blew my mind. I had such a fun time, it was everything a geek girl could dream of and more. I’ll be going to both again this year, to be sure!
C4G: There's a zombie apocalypse happening, and you run into a group of survivors. Would you join them, or would you keep it solo.
Kessel: Group of survivors! Safety in numbers. Together we stand, divided we fall. I believe in humanity, and if I were to survive, and... errr... help prosper, I would need others to accomplish this. In groups you can also have more witty banter, take turns being lookout while the other one sleeps. Also, worse case scenario, you only need to run faster then everyone else, and you’re safe. And worse, worse case scenario, you can always trip someone you don’t like. You can’t do that when you’re alone. It pays to have a back up plan.
C4G: Lord of the Rings or Star Wars? Dun dun dun.
Kessel: What? No... I can’t. That’s like asking me to choose between having a pet unicorn or a pet robot. I just can’t do it.
First off, it’s not a fair fight. In the books arena, Lord of the Rings wins hands down. But when it comes to the movies, I have to give it to Star Wars. Well, episodes 4-6 anyways. But it should be noted that I can’t really be objective about this, as Star Wars is so deeply rooted into my childhood and history that it’s been elevated to mythological status. I have a brother named Luke, and my father's favorite pass time was to chase him around the house threatening to cut off his arm saying "Luuukkkeee, I am your father." I still have the same cardboard stand-up of Yoda I used to see every night before going to sleep. Lord of the Rings is amazeballs too, but it just can’t compete for me.
C4G: Alrighty Kessel, thank you so much for your time! Do you have a website, Twitter or anything else our readers could check out?
Kessel: I have a YouTube show called "Show me your n00bs" where I post reviews, parodies and other geeky tomfoolery. You can find it at youtube.com/user/KesselRuns. For my various artistic en devours, portfolios and cosplay, you can find them at artbymaery.com. My personal site is under construction, but it has links to all of my social media, including my Facebook and Twitter! I also recommend that people check out my gamer profile on gamecrush.com/user/KesselRun if you wanna join up for TOR Tuesdays or other game night events. Thanks guys, and see you all around the interwebs.
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