Portal 2 Merch Bundle Prize for #UPickVG5

On Sunday June 5th starting at 12:30pm and ending at 1:30pm ET, we will be giving away a bundle of limited edition Portal 2 merchandise.  All of these items are officially licensed by Valve and rather hard to come by.  For your testing pleasure, we’re including:

Portal Gun and Weighted Companion Cube Keychains


Aperture Science is pleased to announce that the Portal Gun you know and love now comes in an easy-to-carry keychain version!  This handy device measures roughly three inches long and is made of sturdy vinyl.  While it does not light up or play any sounds, this petite Portal Gun will hold your keys without any risk of teleporting them into outer space.  Alternatively, the Weighted Companion Cube will hold your keys with unbridled (and muted) affection.  As with any Weighted Companion Cube, this item does not talk.  In the event that it does talk the U-Pick Crew asks you to ignore its advice.

Portal 2 Aperture Science Logo Earrings


Now you can wear what you must, because you can!  These Aperture Science earrings are the ideal compliment to any outfit.  Their understated elegance means that only those who have survived testing will know the true horror joy that comes from rigorous scientific research.  Plus, they come in a delightful Aperture Laboratories box.

Portal 2 Chell Action Figure

Portal 2 Chell Action Figure

After finally escaping from Aperture Sciences Underground Prison Testing Facilities, Chell is delighted to make her way into your home as an action figure.  Just listen to her enthusiasm!  This fantastic figurine stands seven inches tall on an included black display base.  Chell has over 20 points of articulation and comes with a Portal Gun that lights up with an inviting blue glow.

Portal 2 Interactive Gels


Now you can have the fun of Aperture Science Interactive Gels in your own home! With the blue Repulsion Gel, the orange Propulsion Gel, and the white Conversion Gel, you’ll be able to jump higher, run faster, and allow any surface to accept a portal. Please note that these products are still in the beta phase, so all the gels can really do is stretch, bounce, shatter, and lift comics. Still, these are the most advanced mystery compounds on the market today!

The U-Pick Crew is very grateful to our very own NightHawk and Stephonee for their donation to UPickVG 5, and we look forward to giving these rare collectibles away to one of our viewers!

Tune in Sunday, June 5th from 12:30pm – 1:30pm Eastern to enter to win this fabulous bundle of Aperture Science prizes! (Click here for the giveaway time in your local timezone.)

UPickVG-ize Your Profile Pic, Earn Karma

Twibbon - add UPickVG flair to your profile pictures

Your mileage may vary as to whether it looks like you’re kissing our logo, like this woman does.

Want to help spread the word about UPickVG 5, the upcoming game-a-thon funding clean water projects in the developing world? Want to earn shiny Karma points that can be used to enter giveaways, and for bragging rights? Like showing off the awesome heart-controller icon of UPickVG?

You friend, are in luck! We’ve got a quick way to do all the above, and more: UPickVG-ize your social media accounts for the week, and get Karma points for doing so!Twibbon - a UPickVG Sponsor

Our sponsor Twibbon makes this super easy. Just go to the UPickVG Twibbon page, and click “Add to Twitter,” and/or “Add to Facebook” (we’ll give 100 Karma points for each!). You can also scroll down to the bottom of the page, and add a fancy Facebook cover image… for another 100 Karma points!

Then just come on back to this page, and fill out this very quick form to let us know where we can find your new UPickVG-ized profiles:

[Update]: Annnnnnnnnnnd done! Karma points for Twibbon activity were awarded to all who filled out the form before the deadline, 11:59pm Eastern on Thursday, June 2nd 2016! Thank you for your support!

The UPickVG team is proud to have Twibbon as a sponsor, and would like to thank them for their support!

Custom Art Commission Prize for #UPickVG5

On Saturday June 4th starting at 4:30pm and ending at 5:30pm ET, we will be giving away a custom art commission from the amazing artist Fusspot!  Hailing from Chicago, this fantastic freelancer’s art is full of expressive and colorful characters.

cups-of-evils, Previous Commission by Fusspot

Fusspot has graciously donated her time to create a unique piece of art.  The commission can be an original character, or a canon character from a game/cartoon/movie/etc. of the winner’s choosing (nothing mechanical or anthropomorphic, PG-13 content at most).  The resulting artwork will be 11 x 17 inches, at 300 dpi.  It will be limited to one character with no background elements; so straight-up beauty shots like the gorgeous art featured here!

Pepper Mint, Previous Commission by Fusspot

To sweeten the deal, the winner will get the option to catch a stream of their commission being drawn on a Saturday of their choosing!  So not only could you win a one-of-a-kind piece of art, you get to see it being made!
Aurin Esper - Previous Commission by Fusspot
The U-Pick Crew is very grateful to Fusspot for her donation of a custom art commission to UPickVG 5, and we look forward to giving this awesome prize away to one of our viewers!
Don’t forget to tune in to UPickVG 5 from 4:30pm – 5:30pm ET on Saturday, June 4th to enter to win! (Click here for the giveaway time in your local timezone.)

Steam Game Bundle Prize 1 for #UPickVG5

On Friday June 3rd starting at 8:30pm and ending at 9:30pm ET, we will be giving away a bundle of Steam game keys!  This collection covers a wide variety of genres and includes the following games:

The U-Pick Crew is very grateful to our own Bobby for his donation of these games to UPickVG 5, and we look forward to giving this awesome bundle away to one of our viewers!

Tune in Friday June 3rd 8:30pm – 9:30pm ET to enter to win! (Click here to see the giveaway time in your local timezone.)

UPickVG 5: Revenge of the Wheel of Destiny

Jimmy spins the Wheel of Destiny, UPickVG IV

Spin. Dat. Wheel! Jimmy spins the Wheel of Destiny for NightHawk’s shift during UPickVG IV. Photo by Steve Petrucelli

During a UPickVG game-a-thon for charity, your charity donations pick the games we play. It’s pretty much our “thing.” But donations aren’t the only thing that determine the game of the hour (every hour!): there’s also… THE WHEEL OF DESTINY! If you need a little refresher course on how the Wheel of Destiny works, we’re happy to help:

How the Wheel of Destiny Works:

You make a donation for a game you’d really like to see us play. Maybe it’s Castle Shikigami 2, the delightfully fun shoot-’em-up with horribly voice-acted cutscenes (just sayin’). Let’s say that the Rankings chart looks like this at the time you’re thinking of making your donation:

Rank Game Name Points
1 Sim Ant 102
2 Tail of the Sun 65
3 Harvest Moon 64 52
4 TES IV Oblivion 49
5 Sonic Adventure 45
6 Castle Shikigami 2 40

(Yes, Sim Ant has 102 dollars on it in my example. That’s what you get when Stephonee makes up an example from her own head.)

Now let’s take a quick look at the Wheel itself:

Sexy Jimmy and the Wheel of Destiny

Try not to be distracted by the sexy Jimmy in the photo, and focus on the Wheel! Photo by Steve Petrucelli

As you can see in the picture, the Wheel of Destiny has 8 slots, numbered 1 – 5. The number 1 appears three times, 2 appears twice, and 3, 4, and 5 all appear once. So the Wheel is “weighted” toward the game in slot 1, and somewhat toward the game in slot 2, and nothing below slot 5 even makes it on the Wheel.

When we hit the 50-minute mark of every hour during our marathon, that’s when we spin the Wheel of Destiny to see which game will be played for the next hour. Whichever number, 1 – 5, that the Wheel lands on, the game in that slot on the Rankings is what we will play. So before the 50-minute mark, you’ll want to get your donation in for Castle Shikigami 2 (in our example) for it to even have a change of being played for the next hour!

If you wanted it to have any chance at all, you’d need to donate at least $5.01 to have it overtake Sonic Adventure for Slot #5. If you wanted to have an even better chance, you’d have to donate at least $25.01 to have it overtake Tail of the Sun for the #2 slot. And if you wanted it to have the best chance of coming up in the next hour, you’d have to donate $62.01 or more to overtake Sim Ant and take the #1 slot!

(Handy hint: you can always try to rally the chat together for a game you want! Try asking in our live chat if anyone else is interested in seeing Castle Shikigami 2, and will help you by kicking in say, $20. If you can find two people in the chat interested, then you would only need to donate $22.01 yourself to make the game take slot #1!)

Stephonee Spins the Wheel, UPickVG IV

I am a very good Wheel-spinner-person! So determined. Photo by Steve Petrucelli

After the Wheel is Spun

When the Wheel lands on a number, we (of course) start preparing the game in that slot for the next hour of play. Hurray! But the game also loses all of its accumulated points and goes back down to the very bottom of the Rankings. This is just to ensure that the there are only repeats of games during a game-a-thon if you guys really want another hour! All you have to do to see a second hour of a game (or third hour, or fourth!) is donate again until it gets back into the Top 5.

And that’s it! We’ll spin the Wheel 48 times during UPickVG 5, starting with the first Wheel Spin at 7:50pm ET on June 3rd, during our preshow. Then we’ll play the first game it lands on, and we’re off to the races for another 47 Wheel Spins in a row!

Donate to clean water projects

Donate now to get the game you want on the Wheel! 100% of your donation will go to bringing people clean water.

Different Solutions to the Water Crisis in Very Different Places

When you think of water scarcity, what comes to mind? Do you imagine hot, arid deserts? Dusty roads with bright sun and no shelter?

Or do you imagine green mountains with arable land? Silty river basins with long rainy seasons?

Two of our past charity: water projects, in Rwanda and Cambodia, present a unique conundrum when it comes to the water crisis: both countries have abundant sources of water, but little of it is safe to drink.


Rwanda contains many lakes and rivers within its borders, as well as the watershed between the Congo and Nile drainage basins. Two major rainy seasons occur: February-May and September-December. Drought presents a major barrier to clean water accessibility during the dry seasons in between.

In 2012, U-Pick raised funds for piped-system tap stands for the Kiboha and Nshishi communities in Rwanda. From our charity: water project completion report: “The people here, especially women and children, used to walk up to two hours to collect water for their families. The water wasn’t safe to drink and often made people sick.”

Here are some snapshots of the piped-system tap stands that were built from the UPickVG I game-a-thon funds:


Cambodia is split by the lower basin of the Mekong river, creating a topography of river plains and flood basins. The Mekong also feeds the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia: the Tonlé Sap. The climate of Cambodia is defined as “tropical monsoon,” which contributes to the annual flooding of the Mekong and fresh deposits of sediment to the heavily populated lowlands.

charity: water launched a project unique to Cambodia, featuring a new solution called a BioSand Filter. There is a really neat diagram of how it works on charity: water’s Cambodia page.

And here are a few of the BioSand Filters we raised funds for during our 2013 marathon (UPickVG II). This project benefited the Kra Va community in Cambodia:

The projects for our other past game-a-thons, including UPickVG III and IV, are still being built! It takes 18-24 months for a project and photography to be completed, and a project completion report to be sent to all the donors.

What kind of water-delivery or filtration device will we help build with our upcoming marathon this June (UPickVG 5)? Maybe it will be a drilled well, digging deep into the earth in search of fresh aquifers. Check out this video of a well drill in action:

Donate to clean water projects

Donate now to help fund UPickVG’s next charity: water project! 100% of your donation will go to bringing people clean water.

Tail of the Sun = Best Game EVER

[Editor’s note: In honor of Tail of the Sun being the first game to EVER have a successful write-in campaign on our games poll, and thus ending up on UPickVG 5’s Available Games List, we decided to let our guard down and allow Grant to write another one of his “game reviews,” this one about Tail of the Sun. Please tell us we’re not about to regret this decision.]

As a caveperson in an early sandbox game, you’ll spend most of your days exploring and accomplishing absolutely nothing.  You might find some weird statues that make you contemplate life, or climb a mountain by running straight up a slope that’s at a 90 degree angle, or hunt some deer or a pack of glowing green sabertooth tigers.  Maybe you spend your days eating Japanese cookies scattered all over the ground (no really) so that you can tweak your stats to give you and your offspring some gloriously powerful genitals.

Awww yeah. Who needs brains when my propagate is so pink?

Awww yeah. Who needs brains when my propagate is so pink?

Then, hopefully you get a chance to bring some meat back to your tribe so that they can survive and breed some increasingly weird, scary people.  I don’t want to spoil all the fun, but we’ve seen everything from guys with stained glass faces, to a hideous spiderface woman.


Almost punched it, but slid off because… deer are slippery?

Did I mention the narcolepsy?  Your cavecreature needs sleep, but there isn’t any visual cue or stat that you can watch in order to know when they’ll get tired.  They just suddenly fall down and sleep whenever they feel like they need it.  Even MID JUMP DURING A FIGHT WITH A MAMMOTH.


Oh. Well. It IS dark outside. I guess this little guy is done for the day.

TLDR: this is the best game ever.


Ow. Derp.

[Editor’s note: Well, that happened. And you can donate to see Tail of the Sun in UPickVG 5, June 3rd-5th, and also to bring clean water to people who need it in the developing world.]

UPickVG 5: The Available Games List

UPickVG 5 Available Games

UPickVG 5, the mega 48-hour game-a-thon for charity where YOU pick the games, is right around the corner, June 3rd-5th! As that time quickly approaches, we are proud to announce the list of games that will be available for you to choose from! This game list was put together based on your suggestions and your votes in the poll, with a few extra ideas added in by our Official Gamesmuns, Chip & Grant:

Game System
 Banjo-Kazooie  N64
 Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds  Xbox
 Castle Shikigami 2  PS2
 Crash Bandicoot 2  PS1
 Cubivore  Gamecube
 Dead Space 3  Xbox 360
 Deadly Premonition  Xbox 360
 Deception 3  PS1
 Donkey Kong Country 2  SNES
 Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem  Gamecube
 Fatal Frame II  Xbox
 God Hand  PS2
 Hannah Montana: The Movie: The Game  Xbox 360
 Harvest Moon 64  N64
 Hello Kitty Seasons  Wii
 Herc’s Adventures  PS1
 Jaws Unleashed  PS2
 Kirby Super Star  Wii
 Mario Kart 64  N64
 Mario Party 3  N64
 Metal Gear Solid 3  PS2
 Perfect Dark  N64
 Pokémon Snap  N64
 Portal 2  Xbox 360
 Resident Evil 0  Gamecube
 Shadow of the Colossus  PS2
 Silent Hill 2  Xbox
 Sim Ant  SNES
 Sonic Adventure  Xbox 360
 Super Mario RPG: Legend of the 7 Stars  Wii
 Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island  SNES
 Super Smash Bros. Brawl  Wii
 Tail of the Sun  PS1
 TES IV Oblivion  Xbox 360
 Tetris  Xbox 360
 The Adventures of Batman & Robin  Genesis
 The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past  Wii U
 TMNT: Turtles in Time  SNES
 Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2  PS1
 Warioware: Smooth Moves  Wii
 We Love Katamari  PS2

Any of these games can be donated for right now if you want to see them in UPickVG 5! Donations to our charity:water campaign will give points to your selected game, which will put it on the Wheel of Destiny, to possibly come up during the marathon. The only way a game will be played is if it gets donations, so get donating for the games you want to see!

Donate to clean water projects

(And keep in mind, donations made before the marathon begins will most heavily affect the first shift, so if you have certain ideas about what you want Jimmy to play, the time to donate is now!)

Calling All Newsies!

Newsies Sell Papes

But ya know, headlines don’t sell papes, newsies sell papes!

Wanna be in the know? Need a reminder when UPickVG events are coming up? Want to be the very first to find out when voting starts, or a new event is announced? There’s a magical electronic solution to that!

The UPickVG Automatic Notification Robot Automated Warning System (UVANRAWS):

Street Team

Don’t worry, we’re not the spamming types. We send an email like, once a month, at most? Maybe more like once every 2 weeks in the lead-up to a marathon. We won’t clog up your inbox with junk – we’ll just send you the occasional reminder or piece of UPickVG news. Easy peasy!

UPickVG 5 Player Shift Schedule

Here it comes: the schedule for which UPickVG volunteers will be subjected to YOUR game choices, and when! Here are the faces that will be playing whatever games you choose for charity, and when:

Friday, June 3rd
8pm – Midnight

Saturday, June 4th
Midnight – 4am

4am – 8am

8am – Noon

Noon – 4pm

4pm – 8pm

8pm – Midnight

Sunday, June 5th
Midnight – 4am

4am – 8am

8am – Noon

Noon – 4pm

4pm – 8pm

All times above are Eastern Daylight Time. Clicking on a time will show you that time in your local timezone. Clicking on the name of a Player will take you to their bio.
*SCHEDULE CHANGE: Grant has taken over this shift, formerly held by DJ Greg Z. We offer our support to Greg as he deals with a death in family.

And just which video games will this band of fine folks be playing for your viewing pleasure? That is 100% entirely up to you! Your donations [starting May 20th] to charity: water will pick which games each Player has to play, and also bring clean water to people who need it in the developing world.

So get your donations ready, and do not forget to tune in starting June 3rd at 7pm ET (that’s our preshow!) for all the games you pick and all the insanity that goes with them!