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Psychiatric Help 5¢ : The Doctor is In…

Can we talk?

You look stressed; very stressed.

In fact, everyone looks stressed!

Maybe it is the political climate right now, or the state of the planet, or the time of year or the fact that even our superheroes are fighting one another, but every person I have met in the past few months has been a giant stress-ball. And not the good kind…not the kind that you can beat the crud out of and feel better. No, we are talking about walking prescriptions for Xanax, ball o’ stress kind of stress-balls.

More often than not we turn to a screen to alleviate that stress for a moment. I mean, it is pretty cathartic to watch Captain America lose his cool and Superman get his derriere handed to him. If you have had a particularly bad day, you can always tune into Game of Thrones. There is bound to be one person (O.K…probably a small village of persons) who is having a worse day than you are. We hop on video games or MMOs to take our angst out on hundreds of people, real or imaginary. And, if you have lost all hope for humanity, you can always load a version of Pandemic and obliterate the world with your bad virus self.

But, there are times when you really want to be someone else; to forget for a few hours that your world doesn’t really have dragons and your boss wants you to invent time travel to get a project done. What the frell?! You want to smash monsters, throw magic, create some otherworld mayhem and drink a beer, or Romulan ale, with your friends! You, my friend, need a prescription for a table-top rpg.

A few months ago, we creators of A’Kyria had to take a dose of our own medicine. It occurred to us that every group we were playing in was some form of play-testing group. As fun as it was, it meant that we had one foot out of the game gauging it with a developer’s eye, rather than cooling our toes in the playing pool. So, we backed up, grabbed a pod adventure we had already released and set up a group for the sole purpose of playing.

You know what? It has been pretty amazing. My husband and I, for the first time in our role-playing lives, decided to play a married character couple. As married gnome wizards, Valerie and Miracle Max, (if you don’t get the reference, then you really have been mostly dead all day) we can nag each other with impunity…and magic…and still like each other at the end of the night. You could call it geek marriage counseling.

So, if you are stressed, ditch the screen. Grab some friends, hassle them into coming over and start up a table-top rpg…preferably A’Kyria. They, and you, will not be sorry.

We are Our Own Game Company…Playing for the fun of it!

The Nerd in the Herd…

Let’s be honest; being a nerd is no longer the stigma it used to be. Thanks in part to Steve Jobs, Big Bang Theory, Comic Cons and the like; Nerdom is enjoying a Renaissance of coolness that is unprecedented. It is easier than ever to find a sympathetic and obsessed ear. Hop on your computer and there are Meet-ups, and Nerd bars and Cos-play at the click of a button.

But, meanwhile, back in the real world, we still pull the hood up on our alter ego. We still trundle to work as Plain Janes and Joes because (honesty again) if we ever released our true inner geek with its lunatic fascination for zombies and the apocalypse, they would call out the National Guard. We can’t hide it completely, but we settle for the tolerated, even celebrated, ‘mostly weird’ and keep the balls-to-the-wall, totally out there psycho fan for our friends and fellow asylum inmates.

Despite our current trendiness, we still know we are outnumbered by the ‘Normals’; so when you happen to bump into a nerd in the herd, it is a moment to rejoice. It happened to me this weekend and it was glorious!

Set the scene…a Girl Scout outing to a dinosaur museum with giggling pre-adolescents and barely-know-each-other moms. Yikes! It is enough to send any true nerd diving for their inhaler or anti-anxiety meds…so you pop off an obscure movie quote under your breath and, Lo! The woman next to you giggles! She gets it! It is kismet!

I had talked to this mom briefly before. I was attracted to her batman earrings, but the true essence of our nerdiness we kept under wraps. I mean, how much geek can you reasonably slather on a person if you know you will have to deal with them on a regular basis? However, despite our reservations and looking up at a T-Rex named Stan, we finally let it fly.

She is a much bigger Dr. Who and Batman fan than I am, but that’s okay because I get it. I am a bigger table top role playing fan and am caught up in our A’Kyria world, but that’s okay because she gets it. We threw out movie quotes like confetti, wondered why Treasure Planet was so underrated, argued the virtues (or lack thereof) of Frozen, geeked out about the upcoming cons and waxed philosophical about books, movies and shows. I don’t know if we will become “besties” as my daughter calls it, but by the end of the day my little cup of nerdiness overfloweth. I had bumped into a kindred spirit, another nerd in the herd, and I was replete with all things geek. (Insert contented sigh here.)

We are Our Own Game Company…Playing for the fun of it!

Life is a Game, My Friend…

We all know the stereotype of a gamer: socially dysfunctional; lives in their parent’s basement obsessed with all things sci-fi and fantasy; only has a job so they can buy the latest updates on Steam…blah, blah, blah. For those of us who take the leap into game design, you would need to kick that stereotype up a notch. Now, you’re not just obsessed with games, you are obsessed with your game. It gets to the point where even your gamer friends (the ones you haven’t roped into helping develop the game) are putting you off. “Wow! Will you look at the time! I was supposed to meet Jared at the club for a game of racquetball. Ta-ta!” And before you realize that your friend doesn’t even know a Jared, he is off and running.

Beyond talking about A’Kyria, playing A’Kyria, developing pods for A’Kyria, drawing pictures and writing software for A’Kyria, and having Our Own Game Company meetings about things typically related to A’Kyria, we do stuff…life stuff. We have our J.O.B’s, spend time untangling our kids and their various paraphernalia, feed pets, liberate the chickens; the usual stuff. We keep on top of current events. We know that Scalia bought the farm and now Congress and the White House are going to start slugging it out again. We know that 150,000 penguins were wiped out of existence by a thoughtless iceberg. We know the Zika virus is poised to run amok in South America if it doesn’t mutate and kill us all. But our nerdy little hearts are singing for a joyously raunchy and irreverent Deadpool, that a new Star Wars movie is in production and the predicted chocolate shortage hasn’t hit us yet. Firefly is still a classic, Carrie Fisher and Stan Lee are going to be at the Denver Comic Con and all is right with the world.

Gamers of every stripe can appreciate a good obsession. While Our Own Game Company is firmly living in Nerd-dom, our obsession just happens to be something that everyone isn’t talking about…yet. Before you go off to find a Jared to play racquetball with, take a moment to check out the world of A’Kyria to see if “mi casa loco es tu casa loco”…my crazy house is your crazy house. You’re welcome!

We are Our Own Game Company…Playing for the fun of it!

A Monster is as a Monster does

If you ever decide to develop a role playing game, might I suggest conscripting a few kids to help you? I’m not talking about child labor, but a very ready source of out of the box imagination.

When we first started working on A’Kyria, my husband sat the kids down and asked them to create creatures for the game…and, man, did they deliver! We have a huge folder of the improbable, the weird, the impressive and the downright creepy that is still growing. There is nothing like a kid to bring the dreamy and the nightmarish to life.

Of course, it takes some tweaking by the grown-ups to make most of these creatures work. If my middle son had his way, every creature he has created would kill you just by looking in its general direction. Space Tentacles immediately come to mind. He came in with a picture and a name and an explanation that made us wonder how he ever gets to sleep at night! The creature essentially floats in low lying atmospheric asteroids and when it sees movement below, it reaches down, snags the unfortunate, springs it out of the atmosphere where it suffocates to death and then is slowly digested in its center mass. Yikes! How do you fight something like that?!

And there’s the rub of having children advisors. Reality, even game reality, has little to do with what they come up with, so you have to stretch your imagination to make it work. Take my daughter’s first creature installment: Pussy Willows. We were at a restaurant and she was doodling on her napkin. She shoved the napkin over and said, “Look! They’re pussy willows. They are tiny kitties that stick on you and you have to pet them and make them purr to get them off.” She, and we, had no idea what they did, but her picture and idea was something we kept coming back to. The Pussy Willows eventually developed into one of the more annoying nuisance creatures in A’Kyria.

There is also the challenge of bringing a child’s creature to life through pictures. What do you do when your son comes to you with a creature that has three legs, four arms, three mouths and numerous eyes, noses and ears? Well, you stretch yourself and try to draw something with three legs, four arms, three mouths, etc. and hope it looks like something that could actually wander the plains of A’Kyria. Enter the Kead; a sentient warrior race of creatures that would just as soon cleave you in half than speak with you. Excellent! Just because it seems implausible, doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

My sons cornered the market on the brute strength, instant death, monsters, but my daughter wins hands down for coming up with the creepiest. In fact, we are all a little scared of my daughter since she came up with The Black Widow. She shows us a picture of a little girl on one side of the page and a spider on the other. She then tells us that you will be walking along a forest, doo-de-doo, when you find a lost little girl who looks like she’s starving and alone. You bring her back to your camp and when night falls and everyone is asleep, she shifts into an enormous spider that poisons you, spins you in a web and carries you off to her lair to snack on at her leisure. Yeesh! Oh, and the little girl has solid black eyes and the shadow of a spider if she gets caught in the sunshine. We walked really carefully around our daughter after that one!

I imagine that, because of our little minions, A’Kyria has creatures you may have never encountered in a game before. And, yes, we really enjoy the creepy things our kids have come up with…and I imagine you will, too!

We are Our Own Game Company…Playing for the fun of it!

A Blog By Any Other Name

Hi! My name is Louise and I am one of the creators of A’Kyria. Along with my husband, Darrell, our best friend, Rick, Rick’s nephew, Zach, and our newest recruit, Tyler, we have created a role playing game system that we absolutely love playing and, because we love it, it only stands to reason that others would love it, too. Right? As they say, build it and they will come.


Evidently, it’s a little more involved than that. You need this; you need that…you need a blog. What?! Why?! When every face in your clan of misfit toys looks at you, you know you are in trouble. As the only member of our nerd hierarchy with any kind of social skills, I was thrown under the blog bus. Yay, me.

Don’t get me wrong! We are all fanatics of our game. You can’t spend eight years working on a project like this and not feel like you have metaphorically given birth, with all the joy and pain that that implies. Why did we decide to bring this lovable beast into being?


We love games. We love role-playing games. Years ago we used to play another role playing game, but there were always elements we did not like. Darrell, being the idea man/self-starter that he is, decided to create software that would help with some of those things. It worked great! We truly enjoyed what it did for the game and, naïve and hopeful, we trotted it out in front of a representative from said role-playing company. Representative was interested. Happy faces for everyone! However, several weeks passed by with no word and then he called to say (and I’m paraphrasing here): ‘We have decided to create software of our own. So sorry and oh, by the way, if you try to sell your software or even give it away for free, we will sue you for everything you have. Have a nice day.’ Sad face!


What are you going to do? In our case, we decided to dust off an old role playing game my husband had started in high school and see if we could rework it into a system that we liked to play…and use the software with that game. And…voila; A’Kyria was born! (O.K. – it wasn’t quite that simple and painless, but you get the idea.)

Now, A’Kyria is the only role-playing game we play and it isn’t just because we created it. We actually like this system better than any others we have played. And, despite its initial learning curve, every person we have sat down and played the game with has become a fan. It is this kind of response that encouraged us to take it from a hobby to a business; to bring our world of A’Kyria to other gamers.

It’s a tough market to try to break into. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of games and systems out there, but it is our hope that word will spread. A’Kyria has its unique elements, its own stories to tell, magic and combat and creatures; oh, my! And as long as we are having a blast working and playing A’Kyria, we will be adding to the A’Kyria world and expanding its scope. So we invite you to take a stab at something beyond your ‘go-to’ games and give us a try. You may just like it as much as we do.

We are Our Own Game Company…Playing for the fun of it!


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