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Formerly a PC-exclusive gamer, Kae was introduced to the tabletop world by gateway of the World of Warcraft TCG. Since then, her interests have broadened with her favorite games including Battlestar Galactica, Pathfinder, Lord of the Rings LCG, WarmaHordes, and more. Kae is willing to try just about any game and loves learning new strategy.

Interview With Diana Pressnell of G33k & Co

surrealmothergeekcoverHaving first heard of The SurReal Mother Geek online, I squealed in delight when I passed a brightly colored booth on the floor at this year’s Gen Con and saw the book on the table. I had the chance to chat with Diana Pressnell, The SurReal Mother Geek herself, after picking up a new dice bag and this book for my own little geekling. I had the chance to ask her a few questions that I wanted to share with our readers about her goals and the projects she is involved with.

First off, how was Gen Con for you? Did you enjoy it? Do you plan on returning next year?

D : Gen Con was an experience, to say the least. As it was the first con I’d ever attended as a vendor, I cannot make comparisons, but I feel as though it went well. People seemed very receptive to almost all of the products G33k & Co. brought to the convention. I thoroughly enjoyed the social aspect of the convention, talking to people and discussing my creative endeavors with them. My favorite part, though, was the smiles and laughter that followed someone getting a kick out of my book or finding just the perfect dice bag. We are returning next year and will do our best to have more of what everybody liked, as well as new products either available or in the works!

How did G33k & Co get started? What is Surreal Mother Geek wanting to do?

D : Where once the word ‘geek’ was thrown about with derision, it has now become a badge of honor most of us wear with pride. No longer embarrassed about our hobbies, we are free to embrace them and share them with others. This has brought about a rise in geek family units, parents, aunts, uncles, friends, helping to raise the newest generation of geeks. G33k & Co. came about when a small group of us, all geek parents ourselves, felt there should be more available to this growing community. We love the idea of providing products to usher children into geekdom while simultaneously providing entertainment for the adults in their lives.

The SurReal Mother Geek is one of the first things we created to accomplish this goal. It is 15 nursery rhymes based mostly off of Mother Goose that each pertains to a geek topic of interest. We did our best to fill it with geek pop culture references for the adults to find, as well as an ‘easter’ egg hunt to engage the kids. The back of the book also contains a brief child-friendly explanation of what each poem was about. We laughingly call it edu-tainment as it is a fun and engaging way to teach any child and non-geek some of the things that makes us tick. There is currently a fully interactive iPad App available in the Apple marketplace that we had more fun making than we probably should have as well as physical versions on our website and through Amazon. By Christmas we will also have it available as an e-book on Kindle!

It doesn’t stop there, however, as The SurReal Mother Geek is going to be the first in a series designed to teach geeklings about the whole array of geek interests, a great deal of which is under copyright. In order to have any chance at all of asking permission to use the names of the movies, TV shows, games, comics, and more that we all love in future Mother Geek Primers, we need to be able to show the companies that own them that Mother Geek has enough of a following to make it worth letting us write a poem about whatever geek media fandom they are in control of. So if you would like to see The SurReal Mother Geek become the first in a series of nursery rhyme primers intended to teach little ones about geekdom before they are old enough to either understand the source material or it’s appropriate to show them, like us on Facebook or Twitter and pass word on to all the geeks you know that might like it too!Print

What was the process behind creating the Grow With Me RPG?

D : As parents who both game, we had both found it difficult to procure anything that might assist us in raising our families to be knowledgeable in the ways of the dice. It is our belief that gaming with our kids not only helps with their math skills but encourages creativity, imagination, and problem solving skills that will be pertinent throughout their lives. Not only that, but we feel it makes for an awesome way to bond as a family. Over the years, we’d both discovered ways that worked for us, and our kids, but had never had the impetus to share until we had created our other products. As Paul struggled to create the Kalijor RPG and Diana worked at putting together The SurReal Mother Geek, we hit upon the concept of incorporating our ideas for gaming with our own kids with our other projects. Thus the Grow With Me RPGs were imagined to provide other parents with some help in raising their own little gamers.

Our Grow With Me RPG line currently consists of two RPGs for children of different ages. Our first was created for children ages approximately 4-7. It is based on our children’s primer for all things geek and contains the very basics of Role-Playing. Within its pages there is parent-to-parent advice on how to introduce the idea of role play, dice, and the simple math involved in using the dice for game play. It also contains four very brief campaigns, with suggestions on altering them to better suit the age and skill of the child that is playing.

The second Grow With Me RPG is our intermediate level game, appropriate for children approximately 7-12. This one is very video game-like in its game play. It can be picked up and played with almost zero time spent on character creation, though requires that the child be able to utilize a few actual ‘skills’. “Leveling” occurs in this version when players spend money they’ve earned by doing missions to upgraded equipment. This is also where the concept of continuous story telling comes into play, each of the premade missions lead into another for a series of games that all tie together. Perhaps the most unique feature of this game is it’s ability to allow players to port their characters directly into our complex RPG, given that they are both in the same world of Kalijor.

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What sets the Kalijor RPG apart from other RPG’s?

D : Kalijor in not your stereotypical RPG, but rather a rare game that offers player the ability to imagine themselves in not just one complete world, but two. It is a cross-genre system with a great deal of variety no matter whether you prefer a science fiction medium, or a fantasy. The reality of Kalijor is a sci-fi setting similar to Serenity or Shadowrun. Humans live among the stars and are significantly spread far and wide. To assist with communication and immediate data transference they have created a Matrix-like virtual reality system, which they jack their minds into. Within this VR lies the world of Kalijor that is the high fantasy element, similar to what you might find in D&D or WoW.

In terms of what we’re doing differently than other publishers in the RPG industry, we would have to say that we’re trying to insure that our older players have a robust, flexible game system that will treat them to years of varied and challenging game play. We’ve tried to incorporate the ‘best practices’ of gaming wherever possible in our system, as well as attempted to push the envelope in other ways. For example, the ability to play with or without dice using the same rules. Using 2D10 for combat rarifies criticals and weights rolls toward the middle of the spectrum, which increases the importance of attribute and skill bonuses for characters. Additionally, we’ve worked hard at balancing the game so that players who wish to use mentally focused characters can compete with those that play physically focused characters.

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What has been your favorite project to work on?

D : Truthfully, my favorite project was The SurReal Mother Geek book. I loved everything about making both the physical books and the interactive iPad app. Collaborating with the artist felt like making magic happen when the illustrations came out exactly like we wanted them to. Finding ways to hide little references to geek pop culture was a blast. Watching my husband, who designed the App, play with it and giggle over his laptop as he worked was nothing short of hilarious. Trying my hand at finding the perfect sounds to go with the actions in the app was more fun than I thought it would be. I really can’t wait to get started on the next one.

Have anything new in the works that you can tell us about?

D : In terms of new projects in the works, there are quite a few. We have numerous Kalijor RPG supplements in the works for all age groups, plus new Kalijor novels to continue the story and establish more of the world for players to explore while they game. We are also planning to add to the Grow With Me RPG line, providing additional campaigns to enjoy with the kids in your life. We have many more Mother Geek books planned and several in the early stages of production. Finally, we’re also revamping our stock of bibs, dice bags, and swag bags so that we carry more of what people were asking for at Gen Con this year.

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Thanks again to Diana for taking the time to speak with us! We wish you the best of luck with your future projects and with continued sharing of SurReal Mother Geek and the Kalijor RPG. Be sure to check out the products available through G33k & Co. at their website, or go straight to the SurReal Mother Geek page to order the story book or download the iPad app.  Check back here to I:T in the upcoming weeks for a full review on both the book and iPad version of The SurReal Mother Geek story book!

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