Tara's G-Spot - Tara's Gaming FAQ by Tara Babcock - www.impulsegamer.com


I am often being asked questions about myself as a gamer now that it has become common knowledge that I am a "nerd-turned-supermodel".  I wanted to do something a little special for the readers here at Impulse Gamer because of the guilt that's been eating away at me for postponing my "20 Most Badass Video Game Studs" installation for my G-Spot section. In addition to soothing my self-loathing, I also thought it would be awesome to ring-in the new feature that the awesome editors at Impulse Gamer are setting up for me, entitled "Ask Tara", by dedicating a piece to some of the personal gaming questions thrown my way since I wrote my first article for the site.

"Ask Tara" is an ingeniously-titled little feature that will allow readers to send game suggestions, topics for future articles, and any questions or critiques they may have about me, my articles or gaming in general. Each time a new article is published, I will also attempt to address one of the e-mails in my "Meanwhile, in Tara Land" section. 

1. Q: Tell us a little about your gaming history!

A: Well, I've been playing video games my whole life, really. Because I was an only child, my parents spoiled the crap out of me. We had a whole room filled with nearly every console and tons of games. I literally had cases of hundreds! All of my friends were gamer boys and I would have them all over to play Mario Party. My place was kind of like an arcade! I grew up a tomboy, but I also had an interest in girly things, like makeup. So that's generally how I got the cool crossover between model and super nerd!

2. Q: What was the first video game you ever played?

A: I am not quite sure exactly which was my very first, probably because I was too young to even recall, but I do remember playing the Atari we had with one of those red and black joysticks. I'm pretty sure it was Pitfall! or something super vintage!

Alligator-pit-swinging, x-ray-ground-vision (for alligator-tail-seeing, of course) awesomeness!

3. Q: What gaming systems and platforms do you currently own?

A: Currently, I own the following consoles and systems:

Atari 2600
PlayStation 2
PlayStation 3
PlayStation Portable
Xbox 360
Nintendo 8-Bit
Super Nintendo
Nintendo 64
Nintendo Game Cube
Game Boy
Game Boy Light
Game Boy Color
Game Boy Advance
Nintendo DS
Nintendo DS Lite
Sega CD
Sega Saturn
Sega Game Gear

I believe that's a comprehensive list. I also think I left a few behind at my parents' place that didn't work, or that I couldn't find the games for!

Dude, how awesome was this handheld!? Grouping it into the handheld genre seems something of a stretch, though. I mean, your car is a "handheld" device too... if you're Superman! Handheld is to Sega Game Gear as "Handful" is to my boobies!

4. Q: How do you find time to play with your busy modeling schedule?

A: I've always found it quite silly when someone makes a comment like, "Man, I really wish I had the time to do this and that!" when, in my opinion, if you really want to do something, and it's one of your favorite pastimes... you will create time to do it!

I'm not saying that my schedule isn't super packed (sometimes overwhelming, even), but gaming is one of my passions, so that is how I enjoy spending my free time. Obviously, I wish I had more of it, to do all of the things I want, level ten more toons in WoW, play all of the games in my collection and revisit the favorites, etc.

Most of the other models I know spend their weekends out at a club drinking, or they take weeks traveling around the world, moonlighting as a waitress, and many other activities that I do not have any interest in. I simply spend lots of my extra time playing games! Besides, now that it's one of my jobs to write articles for Impulse Gamer, I actually have an excuse!

5. Q: What is your favorite game franchise of all time?

A: Well, I usually go with the God of War series since Mario Bros. seems too cliché, but in reality, I really have so many favorites, and it all depends on my mood. I love different things about each of my favorites! Sometimes I really crave some stealth and strategy with Metal Gear Solid, or some console RPG question-answering fate-changing madness with games from Shin Megami Tensei. Other times I just want to beat people up and mutilate them in a fighter like Mortal Kombat or Tekken. Computer games like Warcraft and StarCraft can keep me busy for hours, but then sometimes I feel burnt out! It really depends!

6. Q: What is your favorite game genre? Your least favorite?

A: That's another tough one! I can easily say that, unfortunately, first-person shooters are my least favorite genre. They often make me dizzy, and you cannot have the peripheral view, so it is much, much harder to explore terrain and see what is going on around you. Also, FPSs tend to be quick-response based... and I am not good at reacting swiftly at all with such limited vision. A game I played the crap out of that applies to this is GoldenEye 007. On the other hand, a game I totally love that falls into this genre is BioShock. FPS games aren't a total lost cause!

As for my favorite, I like pretty much everything else equally; it just depends on the game. Really, with FPS titles it's just the point of view that irritates me... nothing more. Shooters, in general, are a ton of fun!

Oh my god! GoldenEye for the Wii! I've never been so excited to not know what the hell is going on around me in my whole life!

7. Q: Which video game character do you feel you identify with the most?

A: I am painfully aware this may be a bit predictable, but I think I identify most with Princess Peach from the Mario Bros. franchise.

Wait; before you roll your eyes... hear me out! Peach has the perfect harmony between enjoying protection from her men, being the damsel in distress, and kicking her own amount of butt on the side. She's adorable and dainty and a total blonde bombshell, but she's got a lot of characteristics you wouldn't normally assume she does, which I can totally relate to. Another reason is that she has a lot of responsibility and power on her shoulders, running her own kingdom. I feel like I can identify with all of that... on a much smaller scale, of course!

8. Q: Which do you prefer most, Xbox or PlayStation?

A: I've always been more of a PlayStation girl, mainly because I feel that there is more variety on the PlayStation, while, though there are some kick-ass Xbox games, it's mostly FPS games and more realistic, online play based games that make up most of the console.

PlayStation has always had the perfect balance of cute games, epic RPGs, and great shooters. Plus, the PlayStation has been around longer, so it has grown on me!

The debate behind the PS3 and the Xbox 360 also has to do with graphics. Although I feel like the graphics are actually better on the PS3, it's said that neither has games which test their true graphic capacity yet! Something that also sways the vote is my totally preferring the PS controller, too. That Xbox thing is made for aliens!

9. Q: Do you really have a permanent Mario Bros. themed tattoo? What's the story behind that?

A: Yes! I totally do! I got it on my 18th birthday... pretty much as soon as I could.

When I think of getting tattoos, I think about whether or not what I want to get has a lasting, deep meaning, and whether or not getting it will affect my career. I firstly didn't want to get something that I would "grow out of", but I also didn't want to get something vague or stereotypical that I just thought was cute, like a lot of girls do. No butterflies, no tribal bands!

The Mario Bros. characters I have on my right foot are my favorites, and they're not necessarily the most common. I didn't get Yoshi, or Mario, or Peach, even though I love them all. I got the idea that Chain Chomp should look like he is attached to my ankle bone, with irritated red skin around it. Since "Chompy", as I like to call him, is my favorite, I decided to put the rest of the characters around him, with him at the center of the layout! My best friend and assistant actually drew out the design for me. Pretty intense four hours of shading and agony, but it was totally worth it!

One of the only professional shots I have where the tattoo is plainly visible. My idea, of course!

10. Q: What game do you wish had a bigger fan base in hopes for a sequel?

A: For a long time my favorite game was Steambot Chronicles (or "Ponkotsu Roman Daikatsugeki: Bumpy Trot" in Japan... what the hell!?). I bought it because I thought the demo was really, really cute and I am always excited to try out a new decision based RPG. I played through it a few times, answering differently to get different outcomes, and I fell in love with it! I've even fallen asleep listening to some of its awesome music (no, not the band the protagonist is in), specifically when you're in the town square at night... beautiful!

Steambot Chronicles was actually set for a sequel once, but due to the tsunamis in Japan, the project was sacked. I still wholeheartedly hope for a full-blown Steambot sequel... someday!

11. Q: Which non-MMO game have you put the most time into?

A: After reminiscing for a bit, I would definitely have to answer with one of the Monster Rancher titles back on the first PlayStation console. Weird, I know. If you aren't already familiar with the franchise, Monster Rancher is a role playing game where you can buy, load, combine, and control tons of different monsters. You train them to fight and you play through a story mode. If you don't treat them right they get sick or run away... sometimes even dying. The unique thing about the game is that there's a "Shrine" where you can pop in another CD (any CD) and it will generate a monster! I remember when I was younger spending days testing it out with my next-door neighbor, Chris. I swear we tried every single disc we had laying around! I, more recently, fell back into that abyss when I showed it to my assistant... except this time we had DVDs to play with too! Actually, as I am writing this I am tempted to take a break and go play some MR... Oh crap.

Notice all of the Pokemon-esque animals... then notice the giant, creepy yellow eyeball. That's a Suezo! Ah, Monster Rancher is the best!

12. Q: What game first truly captivated you, and immersed you into it?

A: I'd been gaming since I can remember, but until I got into Final Fantasy VII I never really had any initiative to fully enjoy the story and the lore of a game... and actually complete it 100%. I never got bored of it along the way, and I've actually replayed it a few times! FFVII, and the Final Fantasy series in general, is amazing! I can't believe how unique, inventive, addicting, heart-wrenching, humorous (I could go on forever) one game could be!

From FFVII on, I've found that Japanese RPG games are some of my favorites. They're totally bizarre, but they also definitely "hit the spot"! Uhm, was that line a bit too cheesy?

13. Q: What do your non-gamer friends think of you as a gamer? Your girl friends?

A: Eh, some people think I'm weird, some people think it's cute. I've always been that person whose friends looked up to them, so I pretty much told them what was (and is) cool. When it comes to, for instance, other industry models that don't play games at all, they often ask me why I don't go out and party or why I don't do this and that. It's funny, because I always wonder why anyone would want to do those things anyway!

I can confidently say that I've never been teased seriously, or made to feel like an outsider because of my interests, and I've never done the same to anyone. Anyone who wasn't already judgmental or rude to me prior, that is! I feel it takes a special, intelligent, deep individual with a well-rounded personality to be into "nerdy" things. It is sad that a good chunk of the world doesn't fall into that category, however.

14. Q: What is your favorite crossover title (i.e. Super Smash Bros., Marvel vs. Capcom)? Which games or developers would you like to see in a crossover?

A: Oh! There are so many! Crossovers are something I have always loved, and not just in the genre of gaming. In movies, anime, and TV (even in real life... Shao Kahn captures Tara Babcock! Gogogo!), I'm always looking and hoping for crossovers! My favorite existing title of this kind would have to be Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. I really liked the story, even though I feel most crossover games could be better, and often feel hastily finished or not properly fine-tuned. It's also safe to say that Super Smash Bros. is something I adore playing too. I am always interested to see my favorite characters interact with each other. It's one of my things.

One I would love to see come to fruition would be Mortal Kombat vs. Street Fighter! I think that would be an epic fighter! That being said, I always have wanted to see who would win in a battle of Transformers vs. Mortal Kombat characters!

15. Q: Have you ever tried shooting the dog in Duck Hunt?

A: Yes. Of course! I thought I would throw in an utterly silly question for good measure, but it is actually relevant!

When gaming, I'll pretty much try to cheat, glitch or screw with the game as much as possible. I would probably be the best beta game tester because I'm constantly trying to exploit all of the Easter Eggs, get to the more ridiculous locations (and inevitably get stuck), you name it! Yes, I have been trapped under Orgrimmar in WoW with my Hearth on cooldown... sigh!

EDIT: As I was proof-reading through this jumble of unintelligible thoughts, I had to add that, even today, I was shooting the crap out of my team's little "sensitive intelligence" laptop in SOCOM 4's Uplink mode. Hey, better to destroy it than to let it fall into hostile hands!


NOTE: I would like to thank my Google+ network friends and fans for helping me with a few of the questions after I accidentally trashed the document with the ones I already had compiled. Nice save, Guys, being blonde sometimes functions like a disease!

Meanwhile, in Tara Land...

A quick candid picture of myself with my feature in the August 2011 American Curves magazine! An entire 8 pages of me... half naked! Woot!

It's time for a bit of shameless self-promotion! This month I have an 8-page spread in the men's magazine, American Curves! If you're in the US or Canada you have surely seen this magazine on newsstands, in airport shops, your local 7-11 (and other gas stations) or in the newly out-of-business Borders book stores. Well, that's because American Curves is the top-selling non-nude men's magazine in the US and Canada! You can still pick it up, or order it online at AC's official website!

Alternatively, If you want to be the coolest kid on the block, you'll definitely want to head over to my website and pick up the ultimate epic version (titled as such because it's autographed, people! Get with the program!). I also have a bunch of other cool merchandise like mouse pads, shirts, autographed wall posters, 8x12s, and other stuff you can check out while you're there... all autograph-able! Go before you spontaneously combust!

Check out my official online store here! 

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Follow Tara at her official website, www.tarababcock.com




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