Vladerag's Blog











It is always sad when a child dies, even more so when it could be prevented.  All death is sad, true.  But death before you really have a chance to live is so much more so.  So when a beautiful thirteen year old girl commits suicide, we want to know why.

I wont draw more attention to the story that led me to post this, families deserve to grieve in peace.  However, one thing the girls father said struck me, “In today’s society, he said, it wasn’t possible for his daughter to escape bullying. She’d go home on weekends, and the bullying would continue on Facebook.”

The quotation is straight out of the paper that reported this.

It struck me because the bullying can be escaped, and people, escpecially parents, need to know how to do this.

This article is written for parents, but can be adapted to any situation.  This is a step by step guide to stop your child from being bullied, so we will start at step one.

1. The first step in stopping bullying is knowing that it happens.  Ask your child about their day and listen to what they say.  They will probably say “Good,” and refuse to elaborate.  Don’t bother to press them, you arent likely to get a truthful response.  If they want to tell you all about their day, Great!  If not, get creative.

If you suspect your child is having trouble, making a quick call to their teachers can tell you a lot.  A good way to be clued into cyber bullying is to get an account of whatever social site your kids has, and make certain they friend you.  If you are their facebook friend, you will be able to see their pictures and their wall, so you will have a better idea what is going on online.

Keep an eye out for the usual warning signs.  Depressed mood, sliping grades, etc.  The biggest key is to not be overbearing, but at the same time to be observant.

2. When you know your kid is being bullied, take action.  First thing you want to do is try to encourage your kid.  The easiest way to make bullies powerless is to imbue your kid with self-esteem.  Let them know they are doing well, compliment them on how they look, on what they are doing, etc.

If you found out that they are being bullied without them telling you, dont tell them.  They will likely not want interference from you on the issue and probably wont believe anything you say.  Make sure you dont shower them with nicities either, they will notice and disregard you as weird.

Since your kids might not take what you say at value anyway, convince a relative to help.  Cousins are a good choice, approach them and let them know that a kind word here and there can help a lot.

Remember, the best way to beat bullying is to ignore it.  If it can be beat with self-esteem, that is the way to go.  Your child will feel even better for it.

3.  Except that doesnt always work.  Some bullys are either too clever with how they hurt people, or simply to viscous, or perhaps your child is just to depressed to resist.  No matter the case, this problem has gone beyond self-esteem issues.

Some would suggest running to the schools at this point, but there is an easier way of handling this.  Talk to the parents of the bullyers.  A personal talk with the bullies parents can do more for you than a meeting with the teachers.  Parents have more power over their kids lives, and (almost) no parent wants a bully for a child.

Once they realize they can get in trouble at home for what they do at school, you will have less trouble.

As for cyberbullying, this is when you ask your child to unfriend and stop contacting the bullies.  I say ask because you want them to do it themselves.  If they dont, well, it is time for step 4.

4.  The thing is, however, that some people dont care if their kid bullies others.  Or, it could be that it is all online, and you cant have a chat with the parents.

If you are dealing with people you can meet in person, now is when you go to the school.  With the recent incidents of suicide and violence, schools generally have zero-tolerance polcies in regards to bullying.  Make it clear that you expect them to be enforced.  Generally, you wont have to make a point of it.  Teachers and staff are usually more than happy to comply, and suspension is a message that should get through to the offenders.

If you are faced with a school that is less than helpful, remember that the principle is not the final authority.  Go above their heads and remember that school districts want nothing to do with scandals or problems.  If that doesnt work, step 5 is for you.

In regards to cyberbullying, this is when you pull the plug.  There is no step 5 for cyberbullying, because it should never go that far.  This is when your kid unfriends the bullys or you cut them off.  If they are not willing to block the bullies themselves, use parental controls.

Parental controls dont always work against computer savvy people, which your child likely is.  So you may have to do something more drastic.  If you happen to be computer savvy yourself, go the extra mile and modify your computers HOSTS file.  That is something generally out of most kids computer expertise.  Be sure to remember to block both the www. address and the one with out the www. because they have different IP addresses.

If you dont know how, or are uncomfortable with something so drastic.  The easiest way is to pull out the cable from your internet router.  No internet means no internet bullying.  If your kids need to do homework, reconnect it for a time.  But keep watch to make sure they arent going to facebook and other sites.

And when I say keep watch, I mean randomly take the computer from them and check every window and their history to make sure they arent pulling a fast one on you.  Be wary of “projects” that seem to take forever, and remember you can always ask the teachers if it exists.

5.  OK.  This is it.  By this point you have tried to encourage your child, talk to the bullies parents, talk to the teachers, and even go above them and talk to the districts.  You have tried almost everything you can do.  But not everything.

This is the final, most drastic way to stop bullying, and it will do it.

You see, many forms of bullying are not just amoral, but illegal.  Threats against your child are assualt, and you can have them arrested for it.  If (physical people) are using facebook and other networks to slander your child, you can make a case that it will interfere with their abillity to get a job in the future and get into college.  Because it will.  Businesses and colleges will check these things, and if they see things they dont like, it can really hurt.

Talking to the police is the final straw, a last resort, and not something to be taken lightly.  Make sure you have exhausted all other options before you do this.

6. While number 5 is really the last option for stopping bullying, if nothing else works, there is one more option:  Leave.  Change classes, change schools, change cities, just get your kid out from that enviorment.  Obviously, you shouldnt have to give into bullying, but being an adult means making some touch choices, and that might meen uprooting everything.

I hope this helps people out there.  Remember, you never need to give into bullies.



We all know that video games are exspensive.  Setting aside the intial sixty dollar investment, many games require “online passes,” or have Downloadable Content (DLC) that while not neccesairly required, often “fills” intentional holes left in the story or features.

All in all, you might end up paying $100 for your gaming experience, or more.  On the other hand, the quality of games are improving, right?  Well, maybe.  Some games are better than others, and if you are going to be spending $100 of your hard earned money, it should be fantastic, not merely good.  Some of the games listed here are series or collections by the way, but remember that a good series is always a safe bet, and that collections are some of the best you can get for your money.  So here we go:

10.  The Civilization Series by Sid Meier

The Civilization series is one of the best PC game series out there.  You play as one of the various cultures of the world, Spanish, French, or even Iriquois, and your goal is domination.  You can conquer with an epic military, or culture, or trade, or really whatever you want.  Even if you go back to Civilization III and play it today, you wont be disapointed, but the newest out is loaded with features, including an awesome multiplayer that will keep you coming back for more.  Not to metion that a single, single player game can take over ten hours.  This game will suck up your time like nothing else.

9.  Rainbow Six Vegas II

Available for both PS3 and Xbox360, RSV2 is a fantastic game for those who enjoy stealth/action games.  No add-ons required and has both online and local multiplayer, which is a definate plus.  The game places you in the shoes of Bishop, an anti-terrorist agent, and sends you all over as you face bomb threats and terrorist acts.  With a amazing arsenal of customizable weapons, armor, and camoflauge, not to mention a a plethora of quick action maps with a couple of different game settings, combines with local and online multiplayer, and you are set for a good long time.

8.  Castle Crashers

Castle Crashers is a downloadable game over the PSN and Xbox Live that will keep you up at night playing it.  You are a knight, and your goal is to rescue four princesses.  Easy right?  Wrong, as the games takes you all over a map in ridiculous side scrolling action.  the grahpics are fantastic and the game never has a dull momment, with up to four players in local and online multiplayer, and no split screen to deal with.  Not mention tons of knights to play with, each with their own unique powers.  And when you beat the game, it is not nearly the end.  You get to tackle insane mode, and if you thought this game was easy, prepare to be rudely disabused of that notion.  The action takes place on an entirely new plane once you go insane.  And all that doesnt even cover the pets and weapons that you can get.

Did I mention that in multiplayer after rescue a princess the knights fight for the honor of who gets to kiss her? 

7.  The God of War Collection

Do you like mindless action and bloodlust?  If no, skip ahead to number six, if yes, well look no further.  Collections are great because you are getting multiple games and at price less than a newer one.  If you like action, and havent played the first God of War, it is a shame.  Because Kratos, the character you play as, on a quest to kill a god, grinds his way through more enemies than you can shake a stick at.  And in a uniquely brutal fashion.  Honestly, you cant go wrong with a collection of some of the best-selling games ever to hit the PS2.

6. Infamous

Alright, so the sequel is out already, and that is pretty good too in terms of bang for your buck.  But because the sequel is already out, the original is even less exspensive, and you are more likely to get a deal.  Infamous drops you in a city that has been ripped apart by an unknown cataclysm, than struck by plauges and disease.  Quaratined from the outside world, the city is controlled by gangs, and the people have nowhere to turn to.  Except you, for some unknown reason you have gained superpowers from the intial blast, you have control over electricty and magnatism, with all the fun that entails.  Not to mention a whole city to explore, think of it like Assassins Creed with superpowers, and you get the idea.  Plus, those powers are customizable and upgradeable.  And your actions, good or evil, determine how they are used.  Lots of action + lots of adventure + couple of choices + superpowers = fun.

5. The Rachet and Clank series

It is worth noting that both number five and number four go to Rachet and Clank, and for good reason.  Each and every Rachet and Clank has been better than the last, and the very first one on the PS2 is one of the best games ever made, so it is fair to say that this series has high expectations and exceeds them every time.  How can you go wrong with tons of fantasitc weapons and tons of enemies to use them on?  Plus it is fun for any age group, and the latest one out All4One, is designed for four people to play the main story line, which is unheard of in gaming.  Of course, it is still playable on single player, so dont worry if you are a loner.  I have played through every Rachet and Clank game at least three times, sometimes more along the lines of ten times, you simply cant go wrong.

4. The Rachet and Clank Collection

Ok, ok.  So at the time of this post, it has not been officially released.  But come one, before R&C Tools of Destruction came out as the first PS3 R&C game, there were FOUR games released for the PS2, Rachet and Clank, Rachet and Clank: Going Commando, Rachet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal, and Rachet: Deadlocked.  Each and every one was an awesome game by itself, the last two, Up your Arsenal and Deadlocked are, as far as I am concerned, the two best games in a series of absolutely fantastic games.  We are talking hundreds of hours of playtime here, and if the price tag is $100, then that is only $25 a game, and each has been remasterd for the PS3 graphics.  What more could you want?

3. Deus Ex: Human Revolution

The top three games on this list really deserve their titles.  We are talking about games that are so well produced, that the asking price of $60 seems cheap.  Games that are like Icarus, only that they fly higher and when the wings melt they turn it into an olympic dive with more twists and turns than any gold medaltist could hope for.

Entering into that arena is Deus Ex: Human Revolution.  IGN describes the hype for this game like icarus as well, wondering if they would fly to close to the sun of expectation and crash and burn.  Only that they didnt fall, but flew on taking all the heat and delivering only the best.

Set in the year 2027, humans now have the abillity to augement themselves with mechanical parts.  You are Adam Jennsen, the Head of Secruity for the biotech corporation Sarrif Industries, and the game begins the day before your company is set to announce a major discovery to the world.

Then, an unkown force breaks in, kills the sceintists and nearly kills Adam.  Adam goes into surgery almost dead, and leaves with more circuts and features than anything you have ever seen to embark on a gripping tale of conspiracy and ethics, of advancement and humanity, and of duty and determenation.  Action and adventure lurks in every corner, and you are fully customizable to become the ultimate tank, who takes and dishes out damage like nobodies business, or a sneak who can turn invisible and specializes in close quarters kills and submissions, or even a tech head who uses an enemies turrets, cameras, and robots against them.

No matter which you choose you will gain experience, and there is always multiple ways to accomplsih your goal.

And on that note, Deus Ex boasts something unheard of in modern action games.  You dont have to kill anyone.  Yes, you read that right.  You dont have to kill a single person, alternatively you could kill them all of course, but you are never forced to kill.  (with the exception of three boss fights.) and there is a trophy for completing the game without killing a soul. 

This game has it all:  action, adventure, choice, and consequence.  You have to have it, and it is worth every penny you spend.

2.  The Dragon Age series

Playing these games raised the bar in my mind for all other games, afterwards, I expected that peoples faces should look real both in cutscenes and out.  That when a person has an emotion, it should show.  That when I make a choice, there will be consequences for it and that those consequences will not only shape the world in ways that I might not be able to forsee, but the games I play afterwards too.

These games are all about choice and consequence, and every choice you make is important.  They are beautiful and boast people with actual expressions.  The action and story are equally amazing, espcially since your choices dictate the course of both.

Honestly, I do not have the words to describe how awesome these games are.  They are simply some of the best, and if you dont have them, you are missing out.

1.  The Elder Scrolls series

Many years ago, I stumbled across a game called Morrowind, and I have never been the same since.  They are like no other game out there, as they have more choices and openeness than any other game before or since.  I still play Morrowind today, because on the PC they can be modded by anyone exstensively and for free.

Truly there is no limit to these games, and that is why they are on top.  Simply search for mods online and you will find libraries of them, a limitless supply of modifications to improve your game.  And the games are practically perfect without these improvements! 

Like Dragon Age, words are not enough to describe these games.  Try them, you wont regret it.

And that is everything, the top 10 games, or series for your dollar.  Each and every one is good, and packed with more content than you might even be able to get through, and worth every cent you put down for it.



et cetera