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Review on Page 5

October 2011 ~ Vol. 5, Issue 2

Spooktacular games for the Halloween season By Alyse McMiller

Looking for a scary game to play this year? Then I recommend Amnesia: The Dark Decent. This PC game will keep you frightened even after you turn it off. In this game you play as Daniel, who is trapped in a haunted castle and has lost his memory. All he remembers is his name, where he lives and that something is hunting him. In the game, he finds a note telling him that he has to go deeper into the castle and kill a man named Alexander. Now that sounds easy enough, but there is a twist. You are unarmed. You cannot attack monsters, which means you have to avoid them or hide from them if one appears. Practically, this game is a very large puzzle and the pieces are scattered throughout the castle. If

Amnesia: The Dark Descent you decide to play this game, you should take this advice: Keep your sanity up. While, scary games are great for some people, I’d rather play a Halloween game that doesn’t give me nightmares. So for those of you like me, I highly recommend Costume Quest for Xbox 360 and PS3. It’s cute, well designed and has a good sense of humor. But, enough about me. In Costume Quest, you can choose to be one of two twins who are about to go out Trick-or-Treating. However, once you

go out your sibling gets kidnapped by an actual monster. The monster then takes the sibling into a door you can’t get in without candy and something to fight them with. Your job is to find friends and gather candy. Not every door has a nice old lady handing out chocolate. Some houses have monsters that answer the doors. That’s when the actual battles begin. To fight, you transform into whatever costume you are wearing. Each costume has a special ability both on

and off the battlefield. And they only work when your character is wearing them. This arcade game and the free demo is available on Xbox LIVE and the Playstation Network.


Cartoon Network makes a big showing at New York Comic Con

Above: Actors Seth Green and Macaulay Culkin create a titillating scene for fans during a panel discussion for Adult Swim’s Robot Chicken Below: Actor Daryl Sabara answers questions during a “Ben 10/Generator Rex Heroes United” panel discussion

Above: “Venture Bros.” creators Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick pose with fans Robert Pfister, left, and Cody Bowman of Charlottesville, VA, Below: Fans scream during an “Adventure Time” panel discussion

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The Guild invades Long Beach Comic Con By Shawn Marshall con-news.com Felicia Day is bringing her guild back to Long Beach Comic-Con for another awesome event. This week LBCC announced that The Guild would be expanding its presence at the show. Here are the details from their website: “Long Beach Comic and Horror Con announced today a full day of entertainment with the hit web series, The Guild. Join creator and star, Felicia Day, cast members Vincent Caso, Amy Okuda and Robin Thorsen along with director Sean Becker and producer Kim Evey on Saturday, October 29 for a walking tour, screening and Q&A panel. Fans will have the chance to meet and interact with the cast, writers and creators of the show and learn how the series comes together and what is planned for the upcoming season. Long Beach Comic and Horror Con will be held at the Long Beach Convention Center October 29 & 30. “Going back to the spring when we began working with Kim Evey on production of The

Felicia Day “Codex” and Amy Okuda “Tinkerballa” in a scene from season 5 of The Guild at the costume contest at MEGAGAME-O-RAMACON Guild season 5 at our Comic Expo show, we knew these were a group of people we wanted to spend more time with. The entire cast and crew are incredible, and we are thrilled to have them share so much of the behind-thescenes with the LBCHC audience.” said Phil Lawrence, co-owner of Long Beach Comic & Horror Con. “It’s going to be unique opportunity for both the hard-core and new fans of The Guild to experience what they’ve lined up.” We do a lot of conventions during the year but we are especially excited to return to the real home of the fake “MegaGameO-RamaCon” at Long Beach Comic and Horror

Con. It’s going to be a fun reunion and we hope fans can come down and be a part of it with us and many of the extras who, with the help of Phil and Martha and Comic Expo helped us make Season 5 look like the real thing. This is going to be quite a metaexperience for us,” said Kim Evey, Producer, The Guild. Saturday, 10/29 10:15 AM WALKING TOUR: The Guild on Location at Long Beach!
Join key members of The Guild production team for a walking tour of the locations at the Long Beach Comic Con that were used to create season 5. See where Vork crashed the van, where Zaboo got

shut out of the Middle Earth panel, and where Tink faced off with a rival Slave Leia. iPads/tablets encouraged (but not required) for the walking tour. Saturday, 10/29 at 11:00 AM SCREENING: The Guild Season 5: 
With filming location in four cities, 75 speaking roles and 263 extras, this season is the biggest season of The Guild yet. Season five follows the characters of The Guild as they travel to a gaming convention called MEGAGAME-O-RAMACON, which was filmed in part at this spring’s Long Beach Comic Expo. Enjoy The Guild’s triumphant return to Long Beach with a screening of the entire season. Saturday, 10/29 at 1:00 PM Q&A with Felicia Day and The Guild Join creator and star of The Guild Felicia Day and cast members Vincent Caso, Amy Okuda and Robin Thorsen along with director Sean Becker and producer Kim Evey for a lively Q&A discussing Season 5 of the hit web series which was filmed right here at this spring’s Long Beach Comic Expo.”


Shadow of the Colossus:

Not a Game to play, but to experience By Leah Coburn I'll give you the 'too long: did not read' right up front, let it never be said that video games can't be art. Finally, after months of waiting and not nearly as many dollars as I'd be willing to pay for it, the Shadow of the Colossus and Ico Collection has been released. And even as someone who has religiously played it before, I'm. Blown. Away. In case you don't know, the gist of Shadow of the Colossus is as follows: you are Wander. You bring the body of the (recently sacrificed) girl important to you to the forbidden land to try to resurrect her through the power of a long-banished god. (Girlfriend? Sister? The relationship is obviously deep, but vague.) This god tells you that he will do as you wish... if you help him/her by killing the 16 monsters through the land that locks away the gods stolen power- the power needed to do it. Kill the monster, save the princess. So stereotypical, I know. But it's not. These monsters are literal Colossi. They loom at always intimidating sizes, dwarfing you by hundreds to thousands of feet. Some swim, some fly, some burrow, and every time you

must overcome their sheer size by using the environment, their own behavior if/when they notice you and your beloved horse. Another thing, there are no weapons to collectyou basically get what amounts to a butter knife of a sword and your bow and arrows. Certainly not least on the list of things to mention, there is nothing else in this massive world to defeat save for the Colossi. This gets.. unnerving. Small spoiler ahead: And the last thing, which changed my entire perspective on the game; it takes a while to fully realize, but is always a presence of sorts. The Colossi, in all their infinite power and immense size, never really fight back. They for the most part will ignore you and simply try to rid themselves of you - they don't shoot to kill, so to speak. This gets to me in a deep sense - you are killing a gentle giant, something massive and peaceful and for what? Can you really call that worthwhile? The music is epic and beautiful and haunting and makes this even stronger- it perfectly enough is silent in general overworld exploring, intimidating when you spot a Colossi, epic and

A battle in Shadow of the Colossus intense in the fight itself... and then haunting. Sad. After the Colossi is dead, the music seems akin to something at a funeral or in a real tear-jerking death scene of a movie. I won't lie, I might have gotten a little something in my eye. Every time. Ico came out previous to SoC, but would be considered a sequel of sorts... I think. Like the Zelda franchise, it's not really given a point of comparison, at least chronologically. I was never able to play through Ico much until now. The music is even better than I remembered and amazingly so. The male and female combined voice of the god, Dormin, is even more unsettling and entrancing than last go around. The epic, realistic-for-ps2 and gorgeous graphics are cleaner and

more beautiful than many ps3 games I've seen. The special features are nothing short of mind-boggling and draw you in and make a die hard fan of anyone. The only complaint I, or anyone else has really ever had about this game is the camera. It can be glitchy, but I was always able to swing it right where it needed to be. Some people complain about your horse's controls, but as a rider and owner of horses myself, I think the controls are realistic and have an amazingly perfect learning curve that's proportional to real horseback riding. Noticing a trend here? Like the fact that beautiful is the most common adjective right now? It's not unwarranted. This isn't a game you play. This is a game you experience.


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PortConMaine celebrates 10th Anniversary

By Jennifer “Jenni Fear” - Maine D20 Girl PortConMaine is an annual convention in Portland, Maine for anime and gaming fans all over the New England area. PortConMaine is Maine's biggest and longest running Anime & Gaming Convention! They happen to also be New England's longest running convention as well. PortConMaine2011 was the 10th Anniversary celebration of the PortConMaine convention. It was held at the beautiful Wyndham Portland Airport Hotel, located in South Portland, Maine. It had something to appeal to all Geek culture interests including anime, gaming, science fiction, costuming/cosplay, fantasy, comics, video gaming, boffer combat, steampunk, and more! PortConMaine went on from June 23 to June 26, 2011. Like every year before, the first day was a special extra day, only for people who pre-ordered their badges online to attend. Unfortunately, we could not make it to the first day but I heard many good things about Day One of the PortConMaine convention from some of my friends and acquaintances

Run For Your Life, Candyman gameboard who also attended PortCon Maine 2011. Day two of the convention was when Meg Swanton, a fellow Maine D20 Girl and her friend, Chaz Bergeret, and I finally arrived in Portland, Maine for the convention. We did a great deal of things that day. We went to the RPG room, took photos of many awesome cosplayers, went to the dealer's room, and much more. There was a cool thrift store/garage sale-type thing at the convention. One would bring things like costumes, wigs, comics, action figures, games, etc. that they no longer wanted or had room for

and then sell them. The best part of the garage sale was that people got to make many other people very happy as well as earn some extra cash. Meg sold a few things there and she thought the whole idea of selling your old nerdy stuff for profit was pretty nifty. PortConMaine 2011 had a lot of amazing Guests of Honor. The guest list included the following: R. "Sketch" Scholz, J. Michael Tatum, Christopher Ayres, Barry C. Fernandes, Daniel Kevin Harrison, Christian Matzke, Michael "Mookie" Terracciano, Brian Brushwood, The Mandalorian Mercenaries, Luke

"McMasters" Morgan, 4-Player Co-op, The Entertainment Experiment, Sharon Lee, Steve Miller, Charles Dunbar, Elizabeth O'Malley and many more awesome guests. Day three was the day that I think we did the most. We went into the RPG room and played an awesome board game called “Run For Your Life Candyman.” It was pretty much like a dark, demented version of Candy Land, an old classic that I'm sure we all know. The game attracted a lot of awesome people who joined in. After the long game of “Run For Your Life Candyman”, Meg and Chaz found another group


New England gamers gather in Maine

of tabletop gamers who were starting up a game of Stargate SG1. All three of us being Stargate fans were instantly interested in the game. Meg and Chaz played Startgate SG1 in the RPG room with the group but I was tired so I sat out. It wasn't at all boring though. I had a blast watching them play. There were so many cool tabletop gamers there. Meeting all sorts of new people was extremely fun. The SG1 game went on for hours so I eventually decided to do something else while Meg and Chaz were gaming. I went to the dealers room and invested in pretty looking dice, Transformers action figures and epic steampunk gauntlets. There were far too many awesome things being sold in the dealers room that Meg and Chaz had to practically pull me away from things to keep me from going overboard on the spending. I still wish I had bought that batliff though but it was a bit over priced. During day three, Meg and Chaz also tried out the boffer games. It was located outside in a big open tent with tons of different weapons for loan.

The Enterprise Aside from boffer games, there were also models of the Enterprise(“Star Trek”) and Tardis(“Doctor Who”) in the tent for people to admire and to take pictures of/with. I feel that I should also add in that the con provided delicious food at affordable prices and they had a huge variety of vendors. Day three was also the day or rather, the night of the rave. Sadly I only got to experience the rave for about 15-20 minutes then I got sick and ended up sleeping in a comfy chair in the corridor for the rest of the rave. Meg and Chaz told me that it was really fun though. I'm sad that I missed all the rave fun but I'm glad that I at least got to see Spiderman and Deadpool have a dance off and the Mine Craft guys

“Jenni Fear” poses in front of a model of the TARDIS and Creepers have a dance off as well. The costumes and outfits at the rave were incredible, like the guy who made chainmail out of glow sticks. Meeting fellow nerds and cosplay enthusiasts was one of my favorite parts of the con. I met some awesome Trekkies and I got to meet a few members of the famous Mandalorian Mercs Costume Club. My second favorite part was hanging out in the game room. All the gamers displayed good

sportsmanship and offered to let others have a turn. It wasn't like some other conventions I have been to where all the good players hog the consoles all night and make fun of “noobs.” On the fourth and final day of PortConMaine 2011, we did all our last minute shopping and took some more pictures then at last said goodbye to PortConMaine and took our leave. For information on the D20 Girls, go to www. d20girls.com


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Gamers make great bodybuilders

Want to look good naked? Sure, we all do. But would you believe that gamers might have an easier time of it then most? It’s true. The qualities that gamers apply to their hobby can easily be applied to bodybuilding. Then Brian Wang and Dick Talens (pictured. Yeah, they're both the same guy) met at the University of Pennsylvania in 2004, neither one was physically fit but both found that what drove them to play games could also be applied to working out. “People don't realize that video games are an expression of personality," Talens said. "There's certain qualities that people have. They're obsessed with improving the stat sheets, getting to the

next level; they pay a lot of attention to detail. Guys who play ('World of Warcraft') ... are very intense about whatever they do. They can turn that addiction and all its characteristics into fitness." Dr. Richard Ryan and Dr. Scott Rigby, co-authors of Glued to Games: How Video Games Draw Us In and Hold Us Spellbound, lay out some of the psychological aspects of weight-lifting that gamers find appealing: "In video games, you're constantly getting information about your achievements and (learning) how to do things better,” Ryan says. “There's an opportunity to develop a mastery that's very much a key motivator." Rigby added, "Games make the goals really

clear. You have to run from point A to point B, deliver a message, kill this bad guy. You have a very clear sense of 'If I just do these steps, I will succeed.' And let's call them quests because it sounds heroic. And who doesn't want to feel like a hero?" Another important aspect of gaming and bodybuilding is the social component. “You're relying on each other,” Rigby said. “You really need the other person to watch your back and vice versa. (Games) build in a sense of 'I matter to others; others matter to me.' " Capitalizing on the idea that bodybuilding can appeal to gamers, Wang and Talens have started Fitocracy, a website that turns fitness into a game. How does it play? From the

website: “To play, just enter your fitness activities on the Track page every day. As you enter your activities into Fitocracy, you’ll earn points. Over time, you’ll earn enough points to get to the next level. Leveling up means you’ve been keeping up with your fitness. But watch out, every so often leveling up unlocks a special challenge. Beating the challenges and leveling up means you’re making progress :)” Challenges are optional activities designed to push users out of their comfort zones, such as tasking a bodybuilder with a running a 5K. Completing challenges awards bonus points. The site also features achievements and leaderboards.

Marvel has declined to comment on reports circulating today (most notably, and first, on CBR) that as many as 15 employees in editorial and production roles are being laid off. At least one editor, Alejandro Arbona, has obliquely confirmed his layoff on Twitter. The layoffs follow the departure of Chief Operating Officer Jim Sokolowski, who was laid off a couple of weeks ago in a

costcutting move. The rumors coming out of Marvel at New York Comic Con were bleak, and included a reduced number of exclusive contracts for creators in the future (Andy Diggle has since revealed that he’s no longer under exclusive with Marvel), declining freelancer rates, projects that had been planned but were now being eliminated, and a general belttightening.

Cutting back on the poorest-selling titles is certainly one way of reducing costs and improving profitability, but as the sales charts reveal, Marvel also has a problem with its top releases, which are selling significantly below where they did a year ago. This September, for example (see “Top 300 Comics—September 2011”) Marvel’s best seller, Fear Itself #6, sold around 93,000 copies. A year

ago, in September 2010 (see “Top 300 Comics— September 2010”), Marvel’s top seller, Wolverine #1, sold around 104,000, already not a stellar performance for a new #1 featuring the most popular member of the X-Men. Marvel’s been drifting for a couple of years, and it’s probably going to have to look at fundamental issues affecting creativity, as DC has, to turn things around.

Marvel declines comment on layoff reports


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Mr. Spock bids Star Trek fans farewell

con-news.com The character of Mr. Spock on “Star Trek” was half human and half Vulcan. The actor who portrayed him — Leonard Nimoy — proved himself to be all human Sunday as he said farewell to his fans during his last appearance at a “Trek” convention. “This is hard,” he told the convention crowd at the Westin O'Hare in Rosemont. “I thought it would be, and it is.” Nimoy said he still owes a couple of professional appearances, so he may pop up from time to time on a soundtrack or on a television or movie screen, but confirmed Sunday this would be his final convention appearance. “I'm so grateful for the support we have had and the exchange of love that we have had for so many years,” he said. As expected, he concluded his speech by saying: “May each and every one of you live long and prosper,” before flashing the Vulcan sign with the fingers spread into a V before the audience rose to a standing ovation. Fans held up signs saying, “We love you Leonard! Live long & prosper.” “He was very emo-

tional, it seemed,” said Homewood resident Joan Rachowicz, who was at the convention Sunday. “Certainly the words were coming from his heart.” Rachowicz and her husband, Mike, met Nimoy at a book signing a couple of years ago, where she told him he was like part of their family because he'd been around their house for so many years. She said he replied: “A lot of people tell me that.” Jonathan Frakes, an actor who portrayed Commander William T. Riker and also directed several “Star Trek” films and TV episodes, said he is skeptical that this will be Nimoy's farewell appearance. “I think it's a Brett Favre move,” he said, referring to the much retired former Green Bay Packers

quarterback. “I'm sure he believes it's his last tour. I don't think he's lying. But I'm sure he can be persuaded to return to the circuit given the right price and incentive.” Frakes praised Nimoy, saying: “I love him. He is a Renaissance man.” Frakes said Nimoy has appeared at approximately 125 “Star Trek” conventions and enjoys every one of them, because of the fans and the bonding of old friends. Nimoy gave a presentation that lasted an hour, tracing his life and career, beginning with his Boston upbringing and continuing through his early appearances in such films as 1952's “Zombies of the Stratosphere,” his struggles to become an actor, and even his stint driving a cab and giving a ride to

John F. Kennedy. Nimoy's big break came in 1966 with the debut of “Star Trek” and subsequent successes as an actor, director and fine art photographer. He talked about his successful attempts to inject bits of business into the series, such as the Vulcan salute, which is rooted in Nimoy's experiences in his Jewish synagogue as a boy. Nimoy joked about how every time he gives the salute, flashbulbs go off. At one point, he had trouble getting the slide projector to work and said, “Scotty?” Aurora resident Tim Urso said seeing Nimoy brought him to tears. “I grew up watching him at a very young age,” he said. “To be able to see him at least once in my life was truly astounding.”


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Gaming in the classroom helps students learn

By Jaclyn C. L. Duhe How do we learn? What’s the best way to teach someone something new? As a parent, how do I make sure my child is “on-track” developmentally and educationally? As a teacher and a parent myself, these and other questions weigh heavily on my mind. My son is three years old; how do I know if he’s learning what he needs to if all he wants to do is play? Fortunately, playing itself is the answer. Think about when you were younger. Didn’t you seem to learn things better when you were enjoying yourself, or making a game of things? Kids are both natural learners and natural players. In fact, this observation spawned an entirely new way of thinking about education in the early twentieth century. Unfortunately, play is a factor of learning that we

seem to forget in the educational sphere, as we are so focused on providing “structure” and to meet the “core curriculum.” While questing for the way to ensure our students can perform on high stakes assessments, we end up boring our children. And in boring them, we stifle not only their creativity, but their ability to learn the problem-solving skills that will help make this world a better place. So, what is the solution? How can our students learn while still having fun? How can we go about introducing play back into the classroom and encouraging it at home? The answer to these questions is games. This school year, I discovered a little book entitled Game Design in the Classroom by David M. Niecikowski in my local gaming store. As a teacher and a gamer, my interest was immediately peaked. Making up and playing

games with my young son seems almost natural. However, it only briefly crossed my mind to apply the same techniques to my classroom. I teach gifted chemistry and have been struggling with finding interesting ways to help my students fully grasp some of the basic mathematical concepts and processes that we use every day in class. How do I make them understand all of this information? And furthermore, how do I teach them to think and become problem-solvers? After reading this book, I decided to see if my students would benefit from the application of games to the study of the essential chemistry skill of dimensional analysis (that is converting between different units, for those who may not know or remember). First, I should note that all games are educational-from Hi Ho! Cherry-O to Dungeons & Dragons. Games can be used to teach and reinforce skills as wide ranging as basic literacy to mathematics and problem solving to appropriate social interaction. As such, any game could potentially be used as an educational tool with any child in any classroom, or in any home. All it takes is to approach the game

with a critical eye and a bit of creativity. Playing is a natural learning tool, and games are just organized play; so the use of games as a teaching tool is an obvious progression. The key to using games educationally is to make sure the game is appropriate to the learner. My son may love Memory, but such a game would not benefit my sophomores and juniors much. Likewise, my students may love Magic:The Gathering, but it is as yet beyond my son’s grasp. Games can be modified to fit the subject matter, skill levels of the players, or to fit within a set length of time, making them a highly adaptable tool for the educator and the parent. Hobby games are a rich source of material for the gaming educator. And if you have children, nieces, nephews, or younger siblings that you play with, you can be a gaming educator, since learning starts at home. Some games, like Carcassonne or Settlers of Catan, can have obvious educational connections, while others, like Munchkin or Fluxx may seem like pure fluff, but actually have some important social skill lessons buried within their structure. Becoming “game literate” by playing


many different games can help to discern the extent of a games educational value. Educational research supports the use of games in the classroom. While most research on educational games primarily focuses on improving math skills, significant research has also been done relating student engagement to the use of games and indicating that special education students, especially, benefit from the use of games. In my own class, I have seen students who struggle with a concept when taught it in a traditional manner have a sudden “lightbulb moment” when playing a game using the concept. Games encourage competition, but also cooperation, so the students learn and reinforce essential social skills while playing. Games provide the students with a task and a means to achieve it, but the students have to problem solve to reach the goal, thus learning a supremely important skill. In addition, if students are asked to design a game for others to play, they are then required to employ their creativity to make the game fun as well as playable. Many varied and useful life skills can be taught and reinforced through the playing and creation of games. I was inspired this year to challenge my students

with the creation of a game. My one stipulation was that it had to include one of the current or recent topics or skills as part of the game’s mechanics. My students surprised me. They showed so much ingenuity and creativity when developing their games that I was in awe. While several of them used already existing games as a basis, they all were able to put a new and interesting twist on the original. One student was inspired by the soon-to-bereleased BioWare Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO, and created a game whose goal is to capture a central planet. While he based the players’ characters on the classes of the MMO, he made the game uniquely his while still incorporating the chemistry required. Another student devised a game that was unlike anything I have ever seen before, incorporating an Elefun into a highly complex board game where four players competed against a master play whose goal was to eliminate them with dimensional analysis magic. These are but two examples of the wonderful, creative, and sometimes wacky, games my students made, all of which served to reinforce the skills being taught in the class. Furthermore, in many of the games, the skills could be switched out as

the school year progresses for different ones, or even for different classes! It just goes to show what a child can do when given the freedom to be creative. However, despite research illustrating the effectiveness of games for educational purposes, little is being Games like Dungeons and Dragdone to incorpo- ons can teach basic skills like rate gaming into math and social skills the educator’s a school for a game litoolbox. While we teachbrary. Community memers are getting swamped bers could sponsor and with stricter standards, advertise gaming events, more and more accountperhaps with local librarability through high stakes ies or shops. And, teachtesting and less funding to ers could explore the use do that which is expected and creation of games as of us, the essential tool of a tool for instruction and play is being taking away remediation or differentiafrom the students through tion among their students, budget cuts that limit or thus bringing playtime remove classes in the into instructional time. arts, restrict the growth Play is essential to learnof library collections, and ing, and the organized even eliminate recess in structure of games makes some cases. them ideal learning tools. We, the gaming comGames can teach so munity, can rectify this by much in a short time and acting as an advocate for a in a practical manner that return to educational playit seems a crime to not utitime. Parents can teach lize them educationally. their children to play and With video gaming beconnect the games to educoming so prevalent in socational content and society as a whole, it is only cial lessons. Game shop logical to embrace the use owners could work with of gaming as an educationschools to create game al tool for the betterment clubs and perhaps provide of our children, commudiscounts to members, or nity and our future. could make donations to



Oct 2011 - GAMERS Newspaper