Game & Dad: The Less-Than-Artful Scam of Skylanders

This week I am writing about micro-transactions and my general distaste for the business practice in retail games. The subject of microtransactions and what they have been doing in the gaming world is not news, but I feel like this past year’s releases from Activision have been really bad for micro transactions. From the cosmetic items for sale in Destiny to the egregious Call of Duty requisition packs that can give players access to the best weapons in the game. Running into this crap on my games is bad enough, but now Activision is jamming these things into my kid’s games.

As a father, I have to endure the annual releases of the Skylanders games. My kids love the damn things and between buying the games and the toys I can’t even imagine how much I have spent even if I always buy them on sale (seriously shop around, there is always a retailer having a sale on them). BUT I know my kids enjoy them and they make easy presents for birthdays and holidays.

This year’s Skylanders has added an in-game store to purchase items for the characters to wear in the game. The cost of these packs is similar to what you might find on a free to play phone game (somewhere around 2 to 10 dollars each). Now I think that it is the right of any company to charge and offer these services to whoever wants them.  I also think that every consumer should know the facts that paying for this garbage when a parent has already paid in a lot of money to this game is complete bullshit.

The game is already designed to sell plastic toys, now they riddle the damn thing with even more hidden costs. I guess this will be a good lesson for the kids since this kind of crap seems to be here to stay I might as well teach them to dislike it as much as I do.

Snake Pass - From Game & Dad

Snake Pass – From Game & Dad

Suggested game to play this week

Here is a quick little suggestion for a game to play to play with the kids. It’s a fun game called Snake Pass (available on Switch, PS 4, Xbox One, and PC). It will cost you 20 bucks.

Snake pass is a physics based platformer that has no enemies, the goal is to move a snake around a fun and colorful obstacle that has a similar style to Banjo- Kazooie or Viva Piñata. It’s non-violent and colorful for kids but it has a steep learning curve and can be pretty challenging for adults. I think this game would be best played passing the controller back and forth to the younger kids to make sure that they aren’t having too tough a time with the controls. If you have older kids that can handle challenging gameplay they should be able to handle this game just fine.

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Many Desperately Seeking a House in Rapid City

There are currently 426 Realtors listed in the Black Hills Realtor Association, and right now, there is approximately just ONE house per realtor on the market!
We’re in a significant demand for real estate listings in the Rapid City area, and it’s impacting the livelihoods of everyone in the housing market, as well as the availability of properties for families to purchase. This is part of a larger “Buyer’s Market” happening across the nation.
Realtor/Broker Tony Hensley of Re/Max Results here in Rapid recently sat down and told me about the current real estate market in Rapid City.

“Locally it is like it is nationally – we have a lack of inventory. We also have rising interest rates which isn’t as big a problem as the lack of inventory. We see a lot of people coming in who are qualified to buy, but we just don’t have exactly the right priced home. It seems like the $500 thousand market, and up, we have plenty of inventory, but the $175 to $350 thousand market is very, very low in inventory. If those homes are priced right and ready to sell, those sellers right now are receiving multiple offers within hours which is a national problem at the moment.”

What’s going to happen when (not if) mortgage rates begin to increase? This past week mortgage rates for 30-year fixed notes rose from 4.29 percent to 4.30 – thanks, in part, to the Trump Administration. Recent setbacks in Trump policies (the botched Health Care plan, and the Democratic filibuster for Supreme Court nominee Neal Gorsuch, for instance) have caused the market to reassess. This has, in turn, reversed some recent gains in the stock market and pushed mortgage rates down, although likely that’s only temporary. But as the Federal Reserve hikes interest rates, the chances of seeing the under-4 percent mortgage rates of the last few years are unlikely shortly.
Rapid City has always been a unique market, one that doesn’t always reflect the national averages and that includes the housing market. Like the rest of the nation we suffer from a dearth of available properties, but unlike many other parts of the U.S., we see our population grow significantly. We need suitable homes for those moving into our area or those with changing needs.
Tony and I talked about the recent report from United Vanlines that South Dakota has replaced Oregon as the “Top Moving Destination” in state-to-state moves in the U.S. This has a significant impact upon the housing market, including rental properties.

“We (Rapid City) have multiple apartments being built, and from what people are telling me, those are being filled quickly. My wife runs a property management company, and they have virtually nothing to rent. I think the base (Ellsworth) is still full of people and I don’t think we’ve seen the influx of people expected for Black Hills Corp yet, so there’s, even more, buyers coming. I just think the beautiful Black Hills and the pace of life here brings people to our area.”

While business may be driving some folks to Rapid City, nostalgia is another factor. “I know a lot of young professional, people that grew up here, who said they’d never come back. They go out in the world, but something brings them back to the Black Hills. I mean, you’ve got rock-climbing, mountain biking, hiking, and skiing. All these activities bringing people back, plus the cost of living is relatively cheap compared, even to Denver.”
The challenge is that while properties are in the highest demand we’ve seen in years, there’s no real incentive to sell your home unless you’re looking to build or move out of the area. After all, where are you going to move if you sell your house?
“The people that have the great locations – houses they’ve been in for fifteen to twenty years – when they look at what they can buy, they’re discouraged.” Hensley confided. “They’d rather sink money into remodeling their house. They can refinance, take the money out and upgrade.” This fuels the lack of available properties in our housing market.
In additional to houses in the $175-300 thousand price range, another thing realtors are desperately seeking are one-level houses. Many people retire in the Black Hills region, and it’s easier for seniors to have everything on one level.
According to a recent press release from PR.com: “There are only 14 current listed homes in the Northwest area of Rapid City. Of those 14 listed single-family homes, only six are not under contract. Northwest Rapid City is highly desired due to the incredible school districts and easy access to West/South Rapid City. This area also has easy access to parks, downtown Rapid City, Nemo Road and I-90 via Black Hawk or Deadwood Avenue.”
As rates begin to rise in early 2017, it’s likely to more and more home buyers are going to opt out of the market this season. They’ll look instead at refinancing and remodeling, or they’ll put the decision to move off by a year or more. That’s not good news for realtors, home appraisers, mortgage lenders and others who rely upon the constant back-and-forth of a healthy market.
This week a symposium was held in Rapid City to talk about interest in building a low-income Tiny House community. Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender has long talked about finding more permanent housing options for our homeless population, but this Tiny House development might be an option also for students, seniors and those looking to downsize and save costs on rent.
I’m not sure a single Tiny House development clustered together, serving the homeless, seniors and students is the best option. But as single property developers look at available land, instead of building one $250,000 to $500,000 home, perhaps they could build four Tiny Houses (or very small houses, since a “tiny house” is specifically categorized as a home that is 400 square feet or smaller).
The Trump Administration has brought uncertainty to our future. This has been, inarguably, the biggest political game change we’ve seen in our lifetime. It’s impossible to predict what is going to happen at all, let alone specifically with the real estate and financial markets. But people still need to find homes and sometimes to sell them. If a current homeowner were even considering the idea of selling, this is probably the best moment to do so. Rates are rising which will lower demand and right now, some new listings are receiving offers in less than 24 hours. 24 hours, people!
Rapid City is growing. We are seeing people move into our state from elsewhere, including folks who grew up in the area and are now returning to raise their families. We’re also likely to continue to see Rapid City and the Black Hills attract retirees and snowbirds. These people (in the latter category) will not necessary bring a large income with them. Having affordable housing is imperative if we want them to settle here. Rapid hasn’t always been known as the most welcoming community, but it has improved in the past decade or so. Let’s hope that our developers keep that welcoming spirit in mind as we look to the future and where Rapid City folks would like to live.

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The Dakota Boys Talk Movies Ep. 65 – Hell or High Water

We sit down and watch the crime thriller, “Hell or High Water” starring Chris Pine, Ben Foster and Jeff Bridges. Thanks for listening!

Hell or High Water

Hell or High Water

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Lake Area Technical Institute President Michael Cartney Testifies in Thune-Led Hearing

This week, Senator John Thune introduced Lake Area Technical Institute President Michael Cartney at a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing entitled, “Closing the Skills Gap and Boosting U.S. Competitiveness.” As chairman of the committee, Thune invited Cartney, a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel, to testify in front of the committee on the skills and career opportunities that can be gained at technical schools like Lake Area Technical Institute, which just received the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.

During the hearing, Thune questioned Cartney on the impact that new technology has on the skills gap and how Lake Area Technical Institute is working to prepare students for entering the workplace. Prior to questioning Cartney, Thune questioned “Cheers” actor and mechanical skills advocate, John Ratzenburger, on why it’s important to expose young people to hands-on learning.

“It is no surprise to me that a South Dakota technical institute, the Lake Area Technical Institute, is leading the pack in training students to fill these skilled jobs,” said Thune. “Lake Area Tech is the winner of the 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence – the nation’s foremost recognition for high achievement and improvement in America’s community colleges. An overwhelming 99 percent of Lake Area Tech’s graduates are employed after graduation. Once they enter the workforce, these graduates earn an average of 27 percent more than other new hires in the region. It is wonderful to see the work that Lake Area Tech and other community colleges and career and technical education programs are doing to train students for jobs that are available and lucrative.”

Lake Area Technical Institute President Michael Cartney Testifies in Thune-Led Hearing

Lake Area Technical Institute President Michael Cartney Testifies in Thune-Led Hearing

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SEP065 – April Fools with Zach Dresch

Greetings April Fools!  This week the regular cast of the podcast (Robert Mehling, Corbin Brooks, and Travis Nye) sit down to talk with comedian Zach Dresch.  We try to decide who is the more narcissistic generation, the Baby Boomers or Millennials?  We also talk about flat earther Brannon Howse’s ignorance tour coming to Sioux Falls, Facebook trolling bigots, and adoption discrimination.  This week’s music spotlight is Zach Dresch himself or rather his band “The Disarmed” and the single “Turn Out The Lights” from their upcoming album “Another Fleeting Reason.”  This episode is sponsored by SiouxperCon 2017: The Sioux Empire Strikes Back.  SiouxperCon is a fan convention celebrating several mediums: including comic books, anime, board games, video games, science fiction, and fantasy. A non-profit event, SiouxperCon is dedicated to promoting literacy and valuable life skills in an inclusive and friendly environment. Net proceeds from the convention will benefit REACH Literacy and the JY6 Foundation.  The Sioux Empire Podcast will never submit to Shakira Law!  Our hips can’t take that.

SiouxperCon 2017:  The Sioux Empire Strikes Back


The Disarmed


Boycott South Dakota



Baby Boomer Psychos


Hate Rally Coming to Sioux Falls?



Tags and Topics:

Travis Nye, Corbin Brooks, Robert Mehling, Zach Dresch, Glitter Bomb, Kiff, Napoleon Dynamite, NPR, Serial, Richard Simons, Sioux Falls, Legislative Session, Veto Day, Danny Devito, Batman, Tim Burton, Jim Carrey, Tommy Lee Jones, Hilton Garden Inn South, Shahram Hadian, Brannon Howse, Happy Gilmore, Adam Sandler, Millennials, Baby Boomers, A-1 Steak Sauce, emojis, Two and a Half Men, Charlie Sheen, Cheers, Bob Dylan, American Pie, Nuclear Waste, The Silent Generation, Generation X, Nirvana, Creedence Clearwater Revival, All Along the Watchtower, 90’s Dance Music, Saving Private Ryan, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Iron Giant, YouTube Rabbit Hole, Aberdeen, Muslim Prayer Curtains Meme, Facebook Trolls, Shakira Law, REACH Literacy, REAL ID Law, North Carolina, Weather Talk, Scoreboard of Doom, The Disarmed, Wacko’s Comedy Club, Magic of Travis Nye, GoFundMe

SEP065 - April Fools with Zach Dresch

SEP065 – April Fools with Zach Dresch

Parental Advisory

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SEP064 – BONUS EPISODE The Science and Policy of Nuclear Waste and Borehole Tests with Dr. Robert McTaggart

Bonus Interview Episode:  Dr. Robert McTaggart, Associate Professor of Physics and Coordinator of Nuclear Education at South Dakota State University, calls into the podcast to clarify just what is going on with the possible borehole tests in South Dakota and across the United States.

The Science and Policy of Nuclear Waste and Borehole Tests with Dr. Robert McTaggart

The Science and Policy of Nuclear Waste and Borehole Tests with Dr. Robert McTaggart

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Podcast Extra: SEP062 Facebook Name Ban. Ball-pit movie theaters… NSFW

What up Sioux Empire? This week The Sioux Empire Podcast welcomes Gabriel Night Shield.

SEP062 – Radioactive South Dakota with Gabriel Night Shield Part 1



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Tribal Leaders Participate In Governor’s Public Safety Roundtable

PIERRE, S.D. – Gov. Dennis Daugaard yesterday met with tribal leaders to discuss Senate Bill 176, potential pipeline protests and public safety. In the wake of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests in North Dakota, state and tribal leaders came together on Wednesday to converse on how to avoid potential problems, share concerns and work on possible solutions.

“I thank tribal leaders for traveling to Pierre to participate in this discussion,” Gov. Daugaard said. “I value the intergovernmental relationships the State of South Dakota has with the tribes and I appreciate their input on this pressing issue.”

The roundtable discussion resulted from the bipartisan passage of SB 176 earlier this month. After the bill received legislative approval, Gov. Daugaard sent a letter to all nine tribes within South Dakota inviting them to participate in the meeting.

“It was a productive meeting,” said Secretary Steve Emery, head of the South Dakota Department of Tribal Relations. “Everyone came together to share their concerns and ideas. Both state and tribal leadership agreed that working together and keeping lines of communication open are essential to protecting and maintaining individual freedoms as well as public safety. We all think it would be beneficial to coordinate future meetings with representatives from tribal, state and local governments, as well as law enforcement.”

In addition to the Governor and Tribal Secretary, Lt. Gov. Matt Michels and Secretary of Public Safety Trevor Jones attended the meeting. Tribal leadership who were present included Yankton Sioux Tribe Chairman Robert Flying Hawk, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Chairman Harold Frazier, Lower Brule Sioux Tribe Chairman Boyd Gourneau and Rosebud Sioux Tribe Vice-President Scott Herman.

During the roundtable, state leaders emphasized SB 176 as a way to protect those who seek to peacefully exercise First Amendment rights. State officials also explained that the bill’s provisions extend beyond potential protests and may be useful in other emergency situations and natural disasters.

Other issues discussed in the meeting included drug use, extradition agreements, emergency management and police training.

Governor’s Public Safety Roundtable

Governor’s Public Safety Roundtable

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Tractor Hackers and the Right to Repair

Motherboard blog recently published an article about why farmers in the United States have to download pirate firmware on the Ukrainian black market to repair their vehicles and machines. It’s a great read and a fascinating yet terrifying look at what the future of agriculture and technology, in general, may look in the future.

Read the story here.

Are you a South Dakota Farmer who has had to do this? We would love to hear from you at talk@TheSiouxEmpire.com

Tractor Hackers

Tractor Hackers

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Get Ready for a Long Hot Summer of Labor Shortages

The current administration’s anti-immigrant stance could be coming back to bite South Dakota this summer.

Last week, the department of homeland security announced that H-2B visas had run out. Annually, 33,000 visas are issued for temporary immigrant workers who perform seasonal work in the US.

US Senator Mike Rounds told SDPB Radio that running out of the visas impacts South Dakota because of the state’s low unemployment rate.

“So, we’re disproportionately impacted when we can’t bring in these seasonal employees to help because we simply don’t have the individuals to put to work… we’re at a low unemployment rate right now,” Rounds says. “Now, we’ve been in contact with the administration for them to do everything in their power to rectify the situation, but it appears right now that it will require a legislative fix in Congress.”

Labor Shortages

Labor Shortages

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