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    Facebook Messenger Is Not The Devil You Think It is


    Ever since I got on this website called Facebook and started sharing in my very own online community, I’ve been very cognizant of what Facebook offers me – for free. I’ve reconnected with high school acquaintances, discovered that my fellow college alumnae have created an amazing network of groups for every topic from race relations to fashion, and met some super-cool people I now consider my friends even though I’ve never met them in person. Like Marcia and Desirai, for example.

    And every time Facebook makes a change, I can hear the multitudes universally condemning Facebook – for no longer showing posts chronologically or changing its privacy rules or what have you. I always roll my eyes because, you know, Facebook is free, and no one is stopping anyone from leaving (unlike Comcast). Honestly, our society requires constant change to keep itself fresh and innovative. Change can be good.

    I guess I’m pretty laid back in general. Stuff like this doesn’t bother me.

    But naturally, I’m concerned about my privacy. When I first got the message on my lovely little Samsung Galaxy S4 that I was going to have to get the Messenger app in order to send messages on Facebook, I was indeed  irritated. I thought it was a bit high-handed of Facebook to make me download a whole new app to just send messages (I had just gotten my Samsung a few months ago after trading up from a phone that would barely show me any of my messages at all, so even getting my FB mail was an upgrade).

    I held out for a while, then got curious and downloaded it. (PRO TIP: Use Facebook through your phone’s web browser if you really, really don’t want to install Messenger. You can access your messages that way.)  Then I uninstalled it, because I was having issues with battery life that started around the same time and wondered if Messenger was the culprit. It wasn’t.

    So I reinstalled it, and guess what. I LIKE IT. I like the little Chat Heads that pop up and show me Desirai just sent me a message. I like its functionality and dependability. I find Messenger pretty seamless overall, and I use my phone for Facebook now more than even my regular computer.

    There have been a lot of complaints about the permissions that Messenger requires. I get it. It sounds like Big Brother. You look at the list, and alarms go off in your head. For like a minute.

    According to the applications manager in my phone, Messenger is allowed to: directly call phone numbers, read phone status and identity, edit my text messages, read my text messages, receive text messages, send SMS messages, take pictures and videos, record audio, find my approximate location through a network, find my precise location through GPS, read my call log, read my contacts, read my contact card, modify or delete the contents of my USB storage, find accounts on the device, read Google service configuration, change network connectivity, download files without notification, get full network access, view Wi-FI connections, run at startup, draw over other apps, control vibration, prevent phone from sleeping, change my audio settings, read sync settings, and install shortcuts.

    Whew. Freak-out time, right? I mean, WTF. All these permissions seem intrusive and risky. Until you think about it. The Facebook help page about Messenger says this: “we use these permissions to run features in the app. Keep in mind that Android controls the way the permissions are named, and the way they’re named doesn’t necessarily reflect the way the Messenger app and other apps use them.”

    That’s important, right there. Every permission that Facebook asks for helps Messenger, you know, operate. It’s what makes Messenger a good app. It gets permission to take photos because how else are you going to send them to your friends? Would you rather a statement pop up whenever you want to send your admiring fans a selfie, asking you for permission to upload and send it out? If you got that EVERY SINGLE TIME you posted a picture using your phone, wouldn’t you at some point choose to bypass the permission question anyway?

    If Messenger doesn’t record audio, then you can’t send voice messages and make voice calls. If Messenger can’t directly call numbers, you can’t call people. If it can’t receive text messages, you can’t add phone numbers to your account. If it can’t read contacts, it can’t figure out if a contact is already in your system and sync them. Here’s a nice article from Fidonerdi that breaks some of this down further: The Truth About The New Facebook Messenger.

    I think what’s gotten lost in all this hoopla about being required to install Messenger and accept its permissions is that it’s a good app, and it works well. So, breathe. It’s all okay. Facebook is not the devil.


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    Tales from the Dragon Mountain 2: The Lair Review


    I’m starting to really enjoy the point-and-click adventures from G5 Games, now that I’ve reviewed a number of them. The latest, Tales from the Dragon Mountain 2: The Lair, isn’t perfect, but it still may edge out most of the others to land in one of my top spots and it’s well worth the under-$5 price tag in Mac’s Apple Store.

    Players take on the role of Mina Lockhart, who apparently got rid of some bad guy named Strix in the previous game (I haven’t played Tales from the Dragon Mountain: The Strix, so I can’t really speak to the quality of that game). Apparently, Strix is back, and Mina and her sidekick Malik have to defeat him again in order to protect the mythical creatures of Dragon Mountain. her quest involves finding items, solving puzzles and opening a portal, all to locate Strix’s lair.

    Unlike some of G5’s other games, this “hidden object” title doesn’t actually include the type of mini-game in which you get a list of items and have to locate them all within a mostly static picture. Most of the puzzles here are actually logic games of one sort or another – slide balls along tracks to get objects where they’re supposed to go, solve tangrams, find all the things you need to make a loaf of bread, or plant and pick flowers. These little diversions are fun and usually make sense within the confines of the story, although they’re not especially creative compared to some of the puzzles in other G5 games. There were one or two that I had no earthly idea how to solve based on the instructions given to me, so I just skipped them.

    This particular title happens to be short on story, but that’s okay. One of my other G5 favorites, Nightmares from the Deep 2: The Siren’s Call, is much more intricate but also more pretentious and embellished, and I didn’t really mind the lack of  characterization, curses, and complications in this one. This game is simpler – the tasks are not complicated, the missions are relatively easy and more logical,  and the puzzles are challenging but mostly straightforward. I just felt like I didn’t have to think so hard to figure where to go to get things or how to put items together.

    According to a press release, this game features 63 scenes, 27 mini-games, five chapters and three difficulty modes. You can unlock achievements by collecting stone dragons and solving puzzles (you can skip the puzzles, but you won’t get the achievements). A “combiner” tool automatically shows you the silhouettes of the objects you need to solve a particular problem, and the ever-handy “hint” button is always available when charged. Attractive settings inside a town and a mountain include a flooded cavern, a pumpkin coach, a cemetery, a windmill and a garden. The voice acting is so-so but likable, although the words sometimes don’t match up perfectly with the written dialogue.

    Tales from the Dragon Mountain 2: The Lair from G5 Entertainment and Cateia Games is currently available for the Mac iOS, iPad, iPhone, Kindle Fire and Google Play (Android) for $4.99. The version I played was designed for Macs.

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    Idol Words



    I have a really unhealthy addiction to word puzzle games. So today’s announcement that Idol Words, a fun, fast and addictive jungle-themed word puzzle game arrived on Amazon is going to severely impact my ability to get everything on my to-do list done. Created by  Outplay Entertainment, a social and mobile game company housed in the UK, Idol Worlds will allow players to face-off against friends in a fast-paced word search adventure.

    Idol Words for Amazon is the complete package; achievements, stats, daily challenges and fun with friends! We’re delighted to be bringing the world’s wildest word hunt to the platform! notes Producer, Stephen King.

    Idol-WordsUse powerful boosts and the temple’s ancient stone letters to spell words – the longer the better! Use all the letters on the game board and watch as it flips to reveal a whole new challenge! The more words, the more flips… the more flips, the more points! How many words can you discover? How high can you score? Your adventure awaits!


    • CHALLENGE YOUR FRIENDS! – Search, spell and scramble your way to the highest score after 3 rounds to win!
    • BOARD-BUSTING BOOSTS! – Freeze Time, Flip the Board, or send your score soaring with a 4x Multiplier!
    • RUMBLE IN THE JUNGLE! – Chat, brag and challenge, and take the top spot in our global leaderboards!
    • BRILLIANT BRAIN TEASERS! – Try a unique new puzzle every day and enjoy 4 modes of play!
    • BECOME THE ULTIMATE WORD HUNTER! – Compare endless stats and unlock over 50 Trophies!

    Idol Words is available on Andriod for $2.99 on Amazon. You can also find Idol Words on Facebook  or  @IdolWordGame on Twitter.

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    I Missed This Whole Flappy Bird Thing


    Over the last few weeks, my Facebook feed has occasionally forced upon me images of this little pixelated bird flying between pipes that look like they came from 8-bit Mario’s world. Apparently, these pictures came from a frustrating yet addictive game called Flappy Bird. I dismissed this game the same way I initially dismissed Candy Crush Saga requests – as something too meaningless and faddish and probably dumb to really catch my interest. I figured if it was any good, it would stick around and down the line I’d download it and check it out.

    And then, suddenly, creator Dong Nguyen announced he was pulling the game. I gasped, wondered where I could download Flappy Bird before he completely eradicated all traces of its existence, started contemplating if I should get it for my Android phone or my iPad, then got a work email I had to respond to and promptly forgot all about it. Then I went on with my day, because I am a mom and I have crap I have to do.

    Sure enough, Flappy Bird is no more. As I write this phones loaded with Flappy Bird are being offered on eBay for thousands of dollars, Kotaku is issuing mea culpas for possibly contributing to bullying that maybe led Flappy Bird’s creator to shut it down, people are debating the little app’s merits (great endless game with lots of genuine buzz, or terrible time-waster inflated by bots and ripping off Mario, Grand Theft Auto and everything else?). And I missed the whole thing.

    I’m fascinated by all the buzz, generated over a game that existed for just a few months. Flappy Bird reportedly took just a few nights to make, and was made available for free because its developer felt he couldn’t charge for a game that simple. The game, during its lifespan (and it’s been available since mid-2013), generated something like 146,000 reviews – many of which were put up on the last day, and the tongue-in-cheek nature of which helped make it even more popular. BuzzFeed created an article, which right there means You’ve Made It and Every Idiot Knows What This Is. and even The Atlantic have weighed in. Flappy Bird, at the time of its demise, was bringing its creator $50,000 a day in ad revenue. This is a great story, right? With a strange ending.

    The popularity of the game may have been too much for Nguyen, who probably took it down so he didn’t have to deal with haters, critics  (did I mention it’s a FREE download?) and other folks displaying bad behavior. All asking for more from the game’s creator, making him feel overloaded and out of his depth (as seen on his Twitter feed). Well, at least, that’s my interpretation of why he quit. And now he’s getting death threats too.

    See, this is why we can’t have nice things. Thanks to the Internet and people, I won’t ever get to play Flappy Bird and decide for myself if I like it or not. Unless I’m willing to shell out $6,000 for this iPhone with Flappy Bird installed (spoiler alert: I’m not). Not that I’m actually blaming everyone (or anyone). I’m just thinking that this hyper-critical modern world we live in today, full of instant feedback, faceless comments, a forum for everyone, and out-of-control virality, can sure be a mixed bag.

    And as a result, Flappy Bird has flown off into the sunset, hopefully dodging green pipes along the way. I’m just going to have to find another game to play.

    Titanfall, anyone?

    Play God Day – January 9th


    Tired of people telling you they can’t stand your “God complex”? Well, today is your day to let that personality flaw shine like a heavenly light!

    January 9th is an exceptionally obscure, obscure holiday…Play God Day. While I was unable to ascertain exactly what Play God Day means, I have some suggestions on how to celebrate it.

    Suggested game: Pocket God
    I remember when this game came out five years ago. Developed by Bolt Creative, Pocket God allows you to…well…play God. You’re given an island, some pygmies, and you can choose to be kind, or creatively cruel. The game is available on iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Facebook.

    MV5BMTYwMTUyNzAxMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwMDYwOTY3._V1_SX640_SY720_  Suggested movie: Bruce Almighty, starring Jim Carrey

    In Bruce Almighty, Bruce Nolan (Carrey) blames God for all of his problems and goes into a fit of rage. God (Morgan Freeman) decides to step aside and see if Bruce can do his job better. It’s a cheesy movie, but what more would you expect from Jim Carrey?

    Or you could skip the games and movies and just do whatever you think God would do for a day. Be kind to your friends, do nice things for others, forgive someone for something you’ve been holding onto way too long. And if you believe God is evil, go out and stomp on some ants* or something. It’s your day, have fun!

    *Please note that we at The Mommy Gamers do not condone violence against ants or anything else. Not much anyway.

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    Ingress Coming Out of Beta



    As I cruised around this morning sipping coffee and off-roading in my mini-van in an effort to hack portals, recharge resonators, and establish links and fields, I thought to myself…”Maybe I have an addiction.”  If none of that last sentence made sense to you, then you probably haven’t heard about Ingress.  Ingress is a near-real time augmented reality massively multiplayer online video game created by Niantic Labs, currently only available for Android devices, but rumored to be coming to Apple’s iOS sometime in 2014.

    I have been part of the beta version of Ingress and was excited to hear that the Beta phase is almost over!  On December 14, 2013, when Ingress’s worldwide 9-week, 39-city global player event, Operation#13MAGNUS concludes, Ingress will exit Beta. To me this means more players, more portals and more fun as the competition between the two opposing factions in the game ramps up to a whole new level.

    Prior to this announcement you needed a friend already in the beta to invite you, and those of us playing were gifted with only a precious few invitations to give out. Now, the invitation code requirement has been dropped, and all Android players can enter into the Beta phase. You can join the worldwide action that is Ingress, by downloading the game on Google Play here.  Join me in strengthening the Resistance, or join the Enlightened…either way, be prepared for a whole lot of fun and a cool new way to game.
    Intel Map_Worldwide

    As a thank you, Niantic Labs is gifting agents like myself who have supported them during the Beta a special one-time badge: The Founder Medal. Any Agents that have reached Level 5 by the Beta end date of December 14, 2013 will get this special achievement.

    If all that news isn’t exciting enough, they have also announced The Ingress Elite V challenge. Starting Monday, November 4th and running through the end of Operation #13MAGNUS on Saturday, December 14th, all Ingress Agents will be eligible to participate in a challenge to identify the five most elite Agents from around the world.  Winning Agents will be flown to California for Top Secret Ingress briefings in February 2014, as well as a special interview with Susanna Moyer from the Ingress Report.  Details on the Ingress Elite V challenge can be found here.

    Operation #13MAGNUS anomaly events have already begun all over the world launching a new chapter in global gameplay.  At the beginning of #13MAGNUS, the XM entity known as Roland Jarvis was shattered into 13 pieces. These shards scattered throughout the world. Now, Enlightened Agents, like myself (Viva La Resistance!) must reunite them in order resurrect their leader. Resistance Agents will be seeking to destroy the shards, and by doing so, rid the world of Roland Jarvis forever. This effort is literally spanning the globe as Agents from the over 200 countries where Ingress is currently being played cooperate to achieve their goal, leading to the final confrontation at the end of #13MAGNUS on December 14, 2013.

    The remaining #13MAGNUS Anomaly events will happen in the following cities:


    San Antonio:

    You can find a full listing of Operation #13MAGNUS dates and cities here

    Ingress Players Getting Ready in Seattle

    Ingress Players Getting Ready in Seattle

    I have had an incredible amount of fun playing Ingress and the communities formed for this game, both locally and globally just add to the fun of this experience. One of my favorite things about Ingress is that the game appeals to all ages, and in my encounters, I’ve found that the players are more my age range.  Let me know in the comments section if you are already part of Ingress and what faction you play for, or if you are planning to join us.

    “Ingress is a game of exploration and discovery in the real world, as well as a way to join in with an amazing global community of Ingress Agents,” said John Hanke , VP in charge of Google’s Niantic Labs. “Our journey over the past year has taken us to live events in more than 80 cities around the world, more than one million downloads of the Ingress app, and more than one million Portals discovered and submitted by Ingress Agents. Two ebooks, a comic book series, and a weekly YouTube show, ‘The Ingress Report’ paint a rich picture of the Ingress world. And Agents have made it their own with more than 2,000 Ingress user communities created on global social networks and countless designs for shirts, badges, jewelry and other objects. More than a dozen Agents have gone so far as to tattoo the Ingress logos on their bodies! A huge thank you to all of the amazing people that have been part of the Ingress journey so far. You have helped make Ingress what it is and have inspired us with so many amazing stories about meeting one another and finding new ways to explore and interact with our world. We can’t wait to see how players continue to make Ingress and the real world a more fun and inspiring place.”

    Episode 52.5: Extra Life 2013


    Marcia and Desirai wanted to make sure you all know about their Extra Life marathon on November 2nd, 2013 where they will be gaming for 25 hours straight to raise money for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. The ladies are briefly joined by the amazing Doc Adams, founder of Extra Life. They also talk about how you can get their new smartphone app!

    To donate to anyone on The Mommy Gamers team and support them as they raise money for sick kids go to You can still JOIN their team if you’d like. The more the merrier! You can also “like” our Facebook page for Extra Life in Jacksonville, Florida if you’d like to follow along with the fun we’re having.

    Live streaming of the event will be available via Twitch: Twitch.Tv/UndergroundAlley


    The Ustream will be our main coverage, with interviews throughout the day and lots of other fun things. Make sure to tune in that day to win prizes and cheer the team on as they raise a ton of money to help sick kids.

Live now! Click to join the party!