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Mónica Guzmán

Stories at the intersection of tech and life from a boldly connected city.

Category: Entertainment
June 2, 2014 at 3:08 PM

Is this obvious yet? ‘Seattle has some of the most innovative gaming companies in the world’

Emmett Shear had no idea whether his idea to focus his video site around gaming would actually work when he persuaded his cofounders to try it in 2011. Then he saw the response. “Our first bar to pass was 25 percent growth a month for the first three months,” Shear said, “and we crushed that.” Shear, who…

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Comments | More in Entertainment, Gaming, Reactions & Resources, Seattle, Social

March 1, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Seattle sketch comedy show ‘The 206′ finds scrappy path to success

I could see where this joke was going. Seattle comedians John Keister and Pat Cashman faced the cameras in Fremont Studios and ticked off the latest accomplishments of some of their former fellow cast members on “Almost Live!” the Seattle sketch comedy show that preceded “Saturday Night Live” for much of its 15…

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Comments | More in Art, Column, Entertainment, Nostalgia, Seattle

November 24, 2013 at 12:46 AM

Seattle contestants go wild for world’s largest media scavenger hunt

Joy Scott and Kat Selvocki stage a chance meeting at Seattle Center for item #61 of GISHWHES 2013, the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen, in August. Their team, the Vatican Cameos, ranked in the top 10 last year. This was item #61: C.S. Lewis once said, "Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You, too? I thought I was the only one!" Take a picture capturing this exact moment. (Courtesy Vatican Cameos)

Joy Scott and Kat Selvocki stage a costumed chance meeting at Seattle Center for item #61 of GISHWHES, the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen, in August. Their team, the Vatican Cameos, ranked in the top 10 last year. (Courtesy Vatican Cameos). Photo gallery.

Jesse Mazur, a colleague of GISHWHES team member H.B. Siegel, folds clothes in his Storm Trooper costume for item #5 at Ballard's Lunar Laundry. (Courtesy Vatican Cameos)

Jesse Mazur, a colleague of GISHWHES team member H.B. Siegel, folds laundry in his Storm Trooper costume for item #5. (Courtesy Vatican Cameos) Photo gallery.

Update: They did it! They won! Congrats, Vatican Cameos! More on the win here…

If you had walked by Rachael Vaughn’s office at Microsoft on any of three days in August, you might have been confused by the away message on her whiteboard:

“OOF for GISHWHES!”

“OOF” is “out of office.” GISHWHES, pronounced “gish-wes,” is the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen. Yes, it’s a real thing and, yes, Vaughn, an attorney specializing in intellectual-property law, took most of a week off work to do it.

Oh, where to begin.

There was the seated Japanese tea ceremony in the elevator of the apartment building on 12th and Jefferson. The nun who swung from a rope into a river outside Vancouver, B.C.

There was the robot barista who served customers at a San Diego Starbucks, the storm trooper who folded clothes at Ballard’s Lunar Laundry, the woman who collected signatures to “pave all of California’s beaches so we don’t have to get all sandy to go swimming” and that time the guard waved Vaughn into the University of Washington’s Center for Experimental Nuclear Physics and Astrophysics, because she wasn’t the first person that day to show up in a Flash costume and ask to pose with the particle accelerator.

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Comments | More in Art, Column, Entertainment, Seattle

November 16, 2013 at 10:28 PM

Scarecrow Video: How an endangered Seattle icon could win you back

Matt Lynch of Scarecrow Video on Roosevelt. Scarecrow’s video inventory is over 100,000. (GREG GILBERT / THE SEATTLE TIMES)

Matt Lynch of Scarecrow Video on Roosevelt. Scarecrow’s video inventory is over 100,000. (GREG GILBERT / THE SEATTLE TIMES)

"We don't need to be a viewer's only or even main source of movies, but we feel what we offer can more than comfortably coexist with streaming," Lynch wrote in an email. "It's just that people have forgotten us or don't understand what they're giving up by letting us go."

REWIND YOUR WAYS: “What we offer can more than comfortably coexist with streaming,” Lynch said. “It’s just that people have forgotten us or don’t understand what they’re giving up by letting us go.”

I hadn’t given any thought to Scarecrow Video in months, maybe years, when I heard the news a couple weeks ago.

As you’d expect, Seattle’s world-famous video store is in trouble. Rentals have dropped 40 percent in six years, despite efforts to draw people in with coffee, beer, screenings, all kinds of deals and even bar trivia, and owners are wondering if it’s time to fade to black.

The culprit, of course, is change. Video-store rentals hit their peak, $8.5 billion, in 2001. Last year, we spent as much on those rentals as we did in 1984, a measly $1.2 billion, according to analyst IHS.

Blockbuster Video, founded in 1985, operated 1,700 stores when the company filed for bankruptcy in 2010. This month, parent company Dish Network said it would close the 300 remaining company-owned Blockbuster stores next year.

Scarecrow owners Carl Tostevin and Mickey McDonough put out a call for help in October. Scarecrow is no Blockbuster; it has collected 118,000 titles and a lot of love. The store’s fans will step it up. Supporters of independent businesses will stop in on principle.

But what about the rest of us? I’ve done nothing but rent or stream from Netflix, Amazon.com, Hulu or iTunes for years. Same with most of my friends. I’d love for Scarecrow to stick around, but online convenience rules. Is there something I’m missing?

I went in last week to find out.

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Comments | More in Art, Column, Disruption, Entertainment, Habits, Seattle

November 9, 2013 at 9:45 PM

Media madness: How fantasy football is changing fandom

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson scrambles to get away from Tampa Bay linebacker Lavonte David in last week's game. The players earn points for millions of fans who manage fantasy football teams. (BETTINA HANSEN / THE SEATTLE TIMES)

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson scrambles to get away from Tampa Bay linebacker Lavonte David in last week’s game. The players earn points for millions of fans who manage fantasy football teams. (BETTINA HANSEN / THE SEATTLE TIMES)

Ian Allan gets bored watching full live games of his favorite sport. Davida Marion rolls her eyes when friends ask to hang out on Sundays. Marc Sells once yelled “Yes!” when he heard a certain someone had torn his ACL.

Is this madness? Maybe. It’s fantasy football.

I knew almost nothing about the booming $1.2 billion fantasy sports industry until a few weeks ago, when the Seahawks took on the Houston Texans. We served chips and hummus in the TV room, and Sells, a good friend, grabbed his phone and opened his laptop. While we rooted for our team, he rooted for his fantasy players, whose real life performance in games across the NFL would either validate or condemn painstaking decisions he had made that week.

More than 24 million Americans play fantasy football, and I’ve managed to avoid talking about it with any of them. This year, though, is different. This year, for the first time in my life, I’m actually following a season of sport. I’ve now gasped and jumped and scared the baby with some wild, out-of-nowhere shriek for nine straight weeks of soaring Seahawks football, and I can’t believe I didn’t get into this sooner.

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June 23, 2013 at 12:12 AM

With award-winning ‘Cart Life,’ Seattle game developer tells hard truths with heart

Richard Hofmeier and Jenny Kuglin are winners of a gaming industry award for their creation, "Cart Life", which centers around the hard life of street vendors.  (Dean Rutz/Seattle Times)

Richard Hofmeier and Jenny Kuglin are winners of a gaming industry award for their creation, “Cart Life”, which centers around the hard life of street vendors.
(Dean Rutz/Seattle Times)

It was 10 p.m. I was home. I was tired. Then it hit me: Laura wasn’t here. I’d forgotten to pick up my 11-year-old daughter from school.

I don’t have an 11-year-old daughter. But Melanie does. She’s one of three characters in “Cart Life,” a video game by Seattle developer Richard Hofmeier that won the coveted $30,000 grand prize at the 15th annual Independent Games Festival in March.

Hofmeier isn’t a game developer so much as he’s an artist — in as humble and free a sense as he can manage. And “Cart Life” isn’t a video game so much as it’s an experience — someone else’s experience you put on to see life through his or her eyes. The game is short, text-based and painted in large monochromatic pixels. It isn’t pretty. But wow — it’s real.

“If you really want to change things,” Hofmeier told me, “you’ve got to tell the truth.”

“Cart Life’s” truth is told through the stories of street vendors in small-town America. Melanie is a divorced mother opening a coffee hut. Andrus is an immigrant chain smoker who sells newspapers. Vinny runs a bagel stand. The characters each have their own modest goal: Get your own place. Pay the rent. Make $1,000 in sales by Monday’s custody hearing.

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