Thursday, July 31, 2014

Watch The Entire "Women Who Kick Ass" SDCC Panel Here

Here are Natalie Dormer, Maisie Williams, Katey Sagal, Tatiana Maslany, Sarah Paulson and Nicole Beharie talking about the depiction of women in media, the challenges of women in pop culture and more.

Critical Failure: WotC Employed Toxic Harassers As Consultants On New D&D

Last week, I cast a spotlight on the newest edition of Dungeons & Dragons and praised the Player's Handbook for taking the bold step to have inclusive language on gender and orientation right in the handbook. I heralded it as a great step forward and said "Kudos to WotC."

I take it all back.


The blog Fail Forward details how beneath the positive press for its inclusive language, the latest edition of D&D also counts among it consultants two men that have a long history of engaging in harassment, homophobic and transphobic behavior: RPGPundit and Zak S.
Seeing their names there in black and white was just too much, and people began to speak out. Most did so in private, others posted publicly but without naming names. This, I became aware, was because anyone who criticized the pair found themselves subjected to harassment, abuse and real world stalking... This is where Zak excels. He has in the past posted lists of people who he feels have displeased him in some way, complete with their real names. Those people then lists find themselves subjected to sustained campaigns of harassment.
While this behavior is alarming, it the choice of victim that is the most telling. These attacks nearly always target women and LGTBQ individuals, mostly freelancers and independent designers. Zak and Pundit have taken pains to defend themselves against accusations of transphobia, but I know several trans people who their fans have attacked and harassed. Zak described one of them as ‘mentally ill’, both he and Pundit told others they would be better off committing suicide. Recently, in a post defending Zak and accusing his detractors of misogyny, his girlfriend attempted to out a trans designer.
The anonymous tumblr Problematic Tabletop started cataloging some of their more public behavior. Fresh waves of hate mail forced designers to delete and hide social media accounts to escape. At the same time Zak put his setting book on sale, using promotional quotes consisting of people calling out his behaviour. This was not unusual, Zak’s business model revolves around publicly being a jerk. He is, quite literally, a career bully. 
Eventually, Mike Mearls, the lead designer of the newest edition of D&D, asked for people to come to him privately with any stories of harassment on the part of Zak S. and the RPGPundit had engaged in. Days later, Mike Mearls said that he considered of the claims didn't matter, because he couldn't find any evidence of either man using explicit slurs, so the matter was closed as far as he was concerned.
 Meanwhile, Zak was publicly speaking on Mearls’ behalf, saying that WOTC had found the claims against him to be baseless. Those who sent Mearls information began to panic, had he just shared their complaints with their harasser? Mearls responded that he had told Zak the claims were baseless, but hadn’t shared any names or details with him. Nevertheless they were not pleased, nor did they feel safe. Why had Mearls consulted with Zak before replying to them? Why was it more important to re-assure Zak he was in the clear than respond to allegations of harassment? Mearls again replied, saying that he was not taking the accusations seriously because some of the people stating them were members of the Something Awful forums... Meanwhile, The RPG Site, operated by someone Mearls hired as a consultant, currently contains such topics as: “Bruce Baugh can go fuck himself with a rusty spoon”, “Why I dislike feminism” and a thread defending the use of the word ‘Jap’ in WW2 settings...  
In investigating this story I heard the same tales over and over again. The RPG community is small enough that almost every woman, person of colour or LGTBQ individual seems to have had a run in with Zak or Pundit. The only reason I hadn’t heard about this before is because they are too afraid to speak out. Discussions happen in private, or with the names left out, because both Zak and Pundit are infamous for googling their own names and attacking their critics. Zak even now tries to portray these allegations as prudish conservatives out to smear him due to his involvement in pornography. Yet for that to be true almost every marginalised voice in the RPG community would need to be part of a secret right wing conspiracy. At a certain point you have to accept that that is implausible.
WotC has not made a public statement on the matter. All communication has been through private emails and a now-deleted G+ discussion. It's been nearly a month since this brought to light. WotC has been content to soak up praise and admiration for using inclusive language, but wants to dodge responsibility for using two poisonous people as consultants for that same new edition of D&D.

You don't get to have it both ways. Inclusive language has to accompany inclusive behavior-- otherwise, you're doing nothing but paying lip service with empty words.

Shape up, WotC.

Someone Like Me: What Children's Stories Can Teach Minority Kids

Image via spesiria
Why do so many princesses looks the same? In a moving personal essay entitled "Challenging “Normal”: Why Non-Token Diversity in Kids’ Storytelling Is Important", Navdeep Singh Dhillon uses a recent heart-breaking incident with her young daughter to posit that in media for children, most characters that are not white only seem to be defined by their “otherness. An excerpt:

On New Year’s Day, we are heading out to brunch, and Kavya’s sitting on the stairs, her head in her hands. Crying. I ask her what happened. In most cases, we verbally abuse the pain-inflicting object, followed immediately by a good stomping, and that sorts things out. But this time is different. 

In-between muted, heaving sobs, she says something that I hadn’t expected for at least a few more years: “I want yellow hair. Like Rapunzel.” She points to the large, manga-eyed, blonde princess with tiny toothpick-wrists, smiling on her t-shirt. 

It’s one of those parenting moments where time stands still.  I fight the urge to say, “Rapunzel’s hair is stupid. She can go to hell.” 

My wife, Sona, sits on the stairs with Kavya and tries to comfort her. Sona’s parents don’t really understand the heaviness of what Kavya is saying, and view it as just a random tantrum. 

…Instead of berating Rapunzel for her physical appearance, I ask Kavya if she knows who my favourite princess is. 

She looks up at me. “Who?” 

“Princess Kavya.” I say, touching her nose. 

She starts crying even louder. After a bit, she says, “Why do you like Princess Kavya?”

In fact, Sona wrote an essay herself on why she co-founded CAKE Literary, a literary development company that focuses on high concept fiction with a strong commitment to diversity.:

“Growing up as a little brown girl—one of the few, back then—in small-town, suburban central New Jersey, books were my escape. I caused a ruckus alongside little Anne in Avonlea; I mourned Beth along with her sisters in the harsh winter of Maine; I honed my grand ambitions like Kristy and her babysitters’ club; I even swooned alongside Elena over the brothers Salvatore when The Vampire Diaries was originally released. (Yes, I am that old.) 

But if you’ll note: in all those books and the hundreds of others I devoured, I never really saw myself, or anyone remotely like me. The majority of characters in books for kids and teens in the ’80s and ’90s were white. And, according to Christopher Myers in his recent New York Times piece, “The Apartheid of Children’s Literature,” the majority still are today, by quite a landslide. 

Why is this worth discussing? Because it hurts. A lot. It’s a hit to a kid’s self-esteem to be told—silently, but oh so clearly—that their story is not worth telling, that their voice is not important.”

Image courtesy of

In the meantime, many artists on tumblr have contributed to This Could Have Been Frozen, featuring different takes on Disney's Frozen recasting the lead characters as people of color. While Frozen takes its cues from the fairy tale "The Snow Queen," they points out that not all Europeans are white, and the movie explicitly references Saami culture in the way many characters dress.

Some people may be wondering what the big deal is? Stories are stories, and books are books, right?


Stories help kids understand the world. When there are entire sections of society that are barely represented-- or worse, neglected-- then it becomes harder for kids to idetiny with, understand, or empathize with them. It's even worse when a minority kid  doesn't see anyone like them in the stories they read or the media they experience, because they miss out on that sense of belong, of being a valued part of society, and of getting to identify with the heroes in books or on-screen.

Author Deepa D. outlined this feeling in "I Didn't Dream of Dragons" in a personal essay that is still relevant almost five years later:

When I was around thirteen years old, I tried to write a fantasy novel. It was going to be an epic adventure with a cross-dressing princess on the run, a snarky hero, and dragons. I got stuck when I had to figure out what they would do after they left the city. Logically, there would be a tavern. But there were no taverns in India. 

Write what you know is a rule that didn’t really need to be told to me; after having spent my entire life reading books in English about people named Peter and Sally, I wanted to write about the place I lived in, even if I didn’t have a whole bookcase of Indian fantasy world-building to steal from. And I couldn’t get past the lack of taverns. Even now, I have spent a number of years trying to figure out how cross-dressing disguise would work in a pre-Islamic India where the women went bare-breasted. When I considered including a dragon at the end of a story, I had to map out their route to the Himalayas, because dragons can be a part of a Tibetan Buddhist tradition—they do not figure in Hindu mythology.

Image courtesy of We Need Diverse Books.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Nintendo Game Boy: Now You're Playing With Flower

Images courtesy of  Riverwood-Elf
Painted the pokemon Haunter!
These incredibly well done custom Nintendo Game Boy cases are courtesy of tumblr user Riverwoof-Elf, who does custom covers for portable systems for her friend's shop. If you want one of your very own, contact her via her tumblr.

(Thanks to reader Velmagrrl for the tip)

Mile High Comics Ending Booth At SDCC? Why It Might Be A Good Thing.

Inage courtesy of Bleeding Cool
In the latest Mile High Comics newsletter, founder and president Chuck Rozanski said that SDCC operated at a net loss compared to other conventions, and that although he wishes it were different, it looks like he'd be ending his four decades of attending San Deigo Comic Con. What does it all boil down to? Exclusives are killing his business there. Read on for the full text of the newsletter:

I am turning 60 years old next March. I mention that major turning point in my life only because the last time that I did not attend a San Diego Comic-Con, I was 17 years old, and still in high school. Since I graduated, for all 42 years of my adult life, I have committed the heart of each of my summers to my personal obsession with experiencing the joys of the San Diego Comic-Con. I even passed this personal passion on my part on to my four daughters, all of whom spent their entire childhoods delightedly roaming the halls of the various incarnations of this great comics convention. 
Sadly, that entire blessed reality may need to end after this year’s show closes tomorrow evening. I have not yet found the courage to reach my final decision, but my best estimate is that, at our current rate of sales, we will suffer a loss of $10,000 at this year’s show. As much as I like being a part of this wonderful gathering, I simply do not have the money to be able to pay $10,000 out of my own pocket for the privilege of providing the fans here with comic books. After 42 consecutive years in a row, it may finally (at long last…) be time for me to bid San Diego good-bye, forever.Before I go further, I would encourage those of you who have not yet read my newsletter from yesterday to first read my analysis of some of the seismic changes that have contributed to our loss. The one factor that I would ask that you especially note when you read my first essay is the fact that our entire 7-booth display that we are operating at this year’s San Diego convention was first premiered six weeks ago, at the Denver Comic-Con. Despite our having about 20,000 fewer comics available in Denver, and that convention being only three days long (with half the number of attendees as San Diego…), our sales per hour in Denver were double (!) what they are here. That made all the difference, as we turned a reasonable profit in Denver, as opposed to a massive loss in San Diego. 
So how could an extremely successful back issue comics booth in Denver become so stunningly unsuccessful in San Diego? Because in Denver we were not being utterly crushed by the very publishers whose goods we sell on a daily basis. In a nutshell, the comics publishers with booths at the San Diego convention have so cleverly exploited the greed and avarice of comics fans through limited edition publications that are only available through their own booths, that there is no longer enough disposable income left in the room to sustain us. A sad state of affairs, but also completely true. 
To illustrate my point, I had the leader of one of the major comics publishing houses stop by our booth on the way out the door last evening. This man has been our friend and ally for decades. He was absolutely ebullient yesterday evening in describing the amazing success that they were experiencing in their booth as a result of selling vast quantities of exclusive variants. I felt more than a little embarrassment and shame when I had to rain on his parade, by pointing out to him that the collective effect of his actions (combined with the other publishers and manufacturers at the show…) was devastating our sales. My response was not at all what he expected to hear. But as the validity of what I was expressing became clear, I could see awareness dawning in his eyes.All of the above having been said, my publisher friend is an extremely astute man, so he quickly understood the unintended consequences of his actions. Given that he was only seeking to cover his own costs of exhibiting in this dreadfully expensive venue, however, he could muster no material reply to my pain. In many regards, that was the most depressing aspect of this entire fiasco. Being obviated by lifelong friends is particularly galling, especially when we it is clear that we are nothing more than collateral damage, in a battle being waged by giants.
So where does this leave us? As much as I hate to admit this, it now seems obvious to me now that we finally have to end a lifetime of exhibiting at San Diego, and instead seek out relatively popular comics conventions in other cities. Especially conventions where our publisher friends choose to not exhibit. Doesn’t that thought just drip with irony? Comics publishers have evolved to become toxic to their own retailers. Who would ever have thought that would happen? Even with all my many years of experience, I simply cannot believe that our world has now been so perverted by the mania for exclusive variants, that comics retailers can now only survive in the absence of the very publishers we support. No matter how you look at it, this is a profoundly sad day.

Mile High Comics is a legendary comic book dealer and warehouse in Denver, Colorado, and if you grew up reading comics in the 70s or 80s, the company's advertising in the middle or back pages of Marvel or DC books were ubiquitous. The company and its SDCC booth were featured in the Mogran Suprlock SDCC documentary "Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope". While they have suffered losses here and there over the past two decades as the industry landscape has shifted (and in some cases, contracted), they've endured for decades. And although Rozanski rails against booth exclusive comics, Mile High Comics have offered a number of limited Mile High Comics exclusive variants themselves.

So what gives? With SDCC more popular than ever, are exclusive variants to blame for the company's crushing losses? The Comic Book Bin's Dan Horn doesn't think so. Here's what the Mile High Comics booth at SDCC looked like to him:
It was a mess. There was Chuck, complaining to a solitary customer about losing money hand over fist and blaming it on the con exclusives, while the exclusives Mile High were selling were pretty difficult to see or to find. This year they didn't bring any trades either. There also weren't any big ticket items like we saw the year that Spurlock made his film. I browsed the back issues for books to fill out my collection, but I was appalled by most of the prices: $6 for a comic book issue I could probably find at my LCS for fifty cents... The Mile High Comics booth was nearly empty all weekend while other booths with half-priced trades and comics marked-down below cover-price were incessantly swarmed with ravenous comics readers. These people weren't mobbing these booths for exclusives, as Chuck posited. They were just looking for something good and affordable to read. Many of these bustling booths didn't even have exclusives. It wasn't until Sunday, the final day of the con, that Chuck put out a sale sign, and guess what--business started booming for him as well. But it was too little, too late.
And while Rozanski has talked about leaving SDCC for good before, this time it may stick. What did Horn think?
Part of me thinks, "Good riddance. That's a huge booth that's going to open up and maybe Dynamite Entertainment or Valiant will finally have a place to make their own in the exhibit hall. Or maybe a comics megastore like Mile High but with fair prices will move in. This could be a really great thing."

What do you think, dear readers?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Keep the Game Alive: Preserving Video Games For Art History

Image courtesy of Trevor Owens
Jeremy Parish has a new article up on 2-dimensions about preserving video games for the future, and it's a pretty interesting read.:
The fact that we even need to have a conversation about game preservation is just, like, the most pathetic thing ever. In a good world, it would be a no-brainer proposition. Of course the history of video games, and specifically the games involved, should be enshrined and preserved and presented in a clear and sensible fashion. Of course. And yet, here we are... the concept of video game preservation exists as an almost entirely grassroots movement, often skating at the edge of the law. That sounds so dramatic and important, which is silly; it’s just a matter of keeping old creations from vanishing into obscurity, which is really the furthest thing from going rogue. It shouldn’t have to be like that. And yet, here we are.

Video games and computer games are part of our shared cultural heritage and go back at least 50 years (and some would argue further back than that, depending on how you define "game"). The general public is very interested in early video games- as plenty of exhibitions on video game history, like the Smithsonian's show on the history of video games, and articles like Parish's show.

One problem faced by those looking to preserve classic console and arcade games is that the source code to video games is often proprietary. Other times, the original code has been lost to time, and the specific hardware used may be difficult to use later, as the team behind the Ms. Pac-Man & Galaga 20th Anniversary arcade cabinet found:

Galaga has three Z80 processors where Ms Pac-Man has one, Galaga has 64 sprites where Ms Pac-Man has six, Galaga's stamps are in front of the sprites while Ms Pac-Man's are behind, not to mention the additional complexity of switching between games in the attract mode and selecting which game to play... To make matters worse we would need to make some minor tweaks to the game code to enable the games to live together on the same hardware and Namco was unable to come up with the source code. So, we wound up disassembling and reverse-engineering pretty much all of both games.
As Parish notes, even documenting and compiling examples of game prototypes can be a daunting task :
...the effort, money, networking, and perseverance required to find code for a game that never made it past the unreleased sample stage is extraordinary. And that doesn’t even factor in the constant struggle to gain access to unreleased code that’s fallen into the hands of jealous collectors who are more concerned with being able to lord their possession of something truly unique over the rest of the collecting community than they are with making sure those one-of-a-kind rarities aren’t lost to time, magnetism, or bit rot… and so, here we are.
Hats off to those doing the hard work of curating video games, since as of yet they are not considered by mainstream sources to be an important part of our cultural history that should be carefully preserved like any other medium. However, if video games were ever to become considered culturally significant, or someday viewed in a different light, classic video games, (some of which are facing original & master copy data degradation, laser disc rot, bitrot etc) might meet the same fate as silent-era films that weren’t preserved because they were seen as cheap, disposable entertainment and have been lost to time forever.

In This FPS, Cheating Is Encouraged

animated image courtesy of Alpha Beta Gamer
In Screencheat, a new first person shooter game for the PC being developed by Surprise Attack Games, not only is cheating encouraged, it's actually a key game mechanic. Screencheat is a multi-player first-person shooter where each player is invisible! That means that the only way you can figure out where you or your opponents are is by looking looking at THEIR side of the screen, figure out where they are and hunt them down. Here is the reveal trailer for Screencheats that was released last week:

If that's not enough to whet your whistle, you can check out the free public beta for the game that starts in August here!

Ultimate Team Up: Newlyweds Throw Superman & Wonder Woman Themed Wedding

Photo via your az photog
The groom said that the bride has been "...Wonder Woman from the moment we met, and I found out everything she’s been through and accomplished. She has always said I came in like Superman and changed her life.”

The article is short, but a picture's worth a thousand words, so check out the compilation of pictures from the wedding and read the thoughts of the happy couple in their own words here.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Historic 6th Reprint of New Ms. Marvel Is Great News For Diversity In Comics

Kamala Khan is a daring and cheerful 16 year old Pakistani-American girl. She's also the secret identity of the super-heroine Ms. Marvel, stepping into the boots of a legacy hero in her own solo title in February of this year to critical acclaim. In addition to fighting crime and taking on super-powered super villains, the comic also explores how she deals with a new ability to shapeshift, and how it's not just a strong power to have as a superhero, but also as a way to confront battling what it means to be a Muslim teen growing up in New Jersey.

It turns out that the Ms. Marvel run has also been a runaway commercial success as well, in a way that few other titles have. MS. Marvel is getting a sixth printing. The Daily Dot puts that in perspective:
Sixth printings are major milestones in the world of comics. Spider-Man Issue #583, the one with President Obama on the cover, only made it to a fifth printing despite making international headlines. Kamala now joins an elite lineup of bestselling comics that have performed beyond all expectations. Many of these titles are genre classics and major issues in their respective franchises, including a number of prestigious Marvel titles ...That Ms Marvel is getting a sixth printing speaks to the increasing diversity of comics fandom as well as the growing number of women and supporters of multi-cultural storylines who are entering the fold.

Jump Up And Get Down: 5 Critical Moments in Platform Game History

Jeremy Parish has a long history of insightful writing and analysis of video games, especially action-platformers. His work as editor at's continues this tradition with a fascinating article examining five of what he calls "Critical Moments In Platform Game History". For example, here is an excerpt from that article talking about Pitfall! and what it brought to the genre:
Pitfall! feels admittedly primitive compared to latter-day platformers, with flip-screen scrolling and simple two-level world design, yet it marked an important moment not only for the genre but for the medium at large. It introduced the idea that fast-paced action games could take place in settings rather than simply exist as isolated scenarios. Pitfall!'s quest dropped players into a jungle maze, one whose simple visuals belied structural complexity (traveling underground took you along a different route than going overland) and required both twitch skill and mental discipline to master.
The entire article is a fascinating read and traces the crucial moments of the platform genre of video games, from Donkey Kong to the debt that Super Mario Brothers owes Pac-Land! Check it out!

Galaxy Quest: By Grabthar's Hammer, What A History!

Alan Rickman as Alexander Dane, as Dr. Lazarus
Image courtesy of Dreamworks SKG
In news that is undoubtedly going to make many of my readers feel very old, the sleeper hit cult classic sci-fi comedy film Galaxy Quest turns fifteen years old this week. To celebrate, interviewed the cast and crew to create Galaxy Quest: An Oral History. The entire article is filled with insights, like who was considered for the lead before Tim Allen, and how Steven Speilberg randomly showing up on set led to some extensive changes to the movie, like Missi Pyle's character Laliari getting more screen time:
Pyle: I heard that Spielberg was there. He came and then he saw my character and makeup and decided she should be a bigger part. I was only supposed to be in two scenes and then they realized they didn’t have another female except Sigourney Weaver. And I just think, “Am I in a dream, because this is ridiculous?” So they added the relationship with Tony Shalhoub’s character.
Since it was a deft spoof of science fiction media fandom in general as well as Star Trek in particular, did any veteran Star Trek actors happen to see Galaxy Quest? As it turns out, a number of actors in the Star Trek franchise did get to see it, and one fan site compiled some of their reactions. For example, here's Patrick Stewart's reaction:
I had originally not wanted to see [Galaxy Quest] because I heard that it was making fun of Star Trek and then Jonathan Frakes rang me up and said ‘You must not miss this movie! See it on a Saturday night in a full theatre.’ And I did and of course I found it was brilliant. Brilliant. No one laughed louder or longer in the cinema than I did, but the idea that the ship was saved and all of our heroes in that movie were saved simply by the fact that there were fans who did understand the scientific principles on which the ship worked was absolutely wonderful. And it was both funny and also touching in that it paid tribute to the dedication of these fans.
While the general consensus is that the marketing for the movie was what ended up tanking the film's chances for success at the box office despite the strong world of mouth, but thanks to the Wayback Machine, you can see one way the online marketing team got it on the money: the website promoting Galazy Quest was done up as an enthusiastic Geocities-style fan site, complete with visitor counters.

On the flipside of that, there is also a really cool meta-fanfic for Galaxy Quest that is not only a first person account that takes Galaxy Quest into today's media fandom landscape, but also comes with its own spin-off free downloadable fanzine: There Are Things We Don't Talk About In This Fandom.

For an official look at some pars of Glaxy Quest that could have been but never where, check out 9 minutes of deleted scenes... including a very young Rainn Wilson!

While both fans of the movie and most of the princpal cast have clamored for a sequel, with each year going by it seems more and more unlikely. It looks like the closest you're going to get is a comic that was published in 2008 called "Galaxy Quest: Global Warning". It was written by Scott Lobdell and featured the cast of Galaxy Quest leaving a launch party for Galaxy Quest: The Journey Continues only to end up having to save the world from a "Judgement Ship" causing natural disasters all over the globe.

And if all of this Galaxy Quest talk has you itching to see it again, it's available for free viewing online in HD if you are an Amazon Prime or Amazon Student Prime member!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Not Just A Character Quiz... But a Character Adventure

Image via
You might be forgiven for thinking this is like those uncounted number of buzzfeed personality tests passed around Facebook, tumblr, or the like, but The Fantasy RPG Character Class is a little more involved.

For starters, it offers about one hundred different possible character class results. How does this test manage that, you might ask? Well in addition to the standard fantasy-flavored personality questions, you can also go on an optional 4 part adventure that has some twists and turns, depending on your previously chosen answers.

You can take the test here! Feel free to share what you got in the comments.

D & D & D (Dungeons & Dragons & Diversity)

The newest version of Dungeons and Dragons is finally released this week. Last week, Wizards of the Coast released the Version 5 Basic Rules as a free PDF download.

Among the mechanics changes and rewrites and other things that come with a new release of a tabletop system come another welcome change in both the free and full price version: an explicit welcome of diversity! In the character creation section, the rule-set encourages players:
"Think about how your character does or does not conform to the broader culture's expectations of sex, gender, and sexual behavior... You don’t need to be confined to binary notions of sex and gender. The elf god Corellon Larethian is often seen as androgynous or hermaphroditic, for example, and some elves in the multiverse are made in Corellon’s image. You could also play a female character who presents herself as a man, a man who feels trapped in afemale body, or a bearded female dwarf who hates being mistaken for a male. Likewise, your character's sexual orientation is for you to decide."

Dungeons and Dragons has attracted players from all walks of life for ages, and in a nerd culture that can often feel ignorant of, or even downright hostile to, players from marginalized groups, seeing an unapolgetic and matter-of-fact welcome to this player base in the game instructions itself is awesome. Kudos to WotC!

Game Developers, Armchair Designers and Game Critiques

Image courtesy The Muppet Holding Company
If you haven't added the insightful blog "Ask A Game Developer" to you bookmarks, feed list or blogroll, you really should. The blog is run by an unnamed game developer who both answers reader questions about game development, and occasionally write essays on different aspects of being a game dev. One of the more interesting discussion threads that emerged was the role that game reviews and YouTube reviews played in game development. As it turns out? Not very much.
"As a whole, however, the developers don’t really pay attention to that sort of thing. We’re too busy working on the game itself to really pay too much attention to the gaming media outside of cursory attention just to keep abreast of current events in the industry. A handful of people might enjoy watching the youtubers or other video makers (I think Zero Punctuation is fairly popular at my office) who post let’s-plays or reviews or opinions on games, but that’s more of the exception than the norm."
Well then, according to this game developer, who does care? The marketing team.
"...they absolutely care about the gaming media, youtubers, and anyone else who creates content related to the (possible) promotion of games. In these situations, however, what they care about is the metrics. How many of the readers/viewers are in the target demographic? What is the general attitude toward the developer and publisher by the audience? And, most importantly, if we spend part of our marketing budget to hire this person/group/etc. to promote our product, what sort of returns will we get? "
The blog author delves further into this when they discuss what they call "armchair designers" in the post "Getting Up From The Armchair":
"So here’s the thing about armchair designers. They tend to lack the context to make choices like how much time, effort, and/or money it will cost to get something done. After all, they’ve never had to deal with a budget or a production schedule or requirements before, so they aren’t necessarily aware they exist or how they work. They don’t know how long a cinematic scene will take to create, because they never had to wait for the motion capture and audio recording, or set up the positioning and timing, or make sure they stayed within the word budget, or had to create it without using any additional resources because the animation department was tasked up the wazoo already. Because the armchair designer lacks this crucial context, he lacks the necessary skills to determine whether something is easy or hard to do."
What do you think? I'm torn. I do believe that baseless, uninformed critique doesn't help anyone-- it's just posturing and pontificating on the critic's part and useless noise. However, just because someone doesn't have a background in game development doesn't mean that critiques that come from someone without a game development background are useless. Games, after all, are meant to be played. And some game studios have tried to deflect legitimate criticism with bogus technical explanations (google "assassin's creed" and "women are too hard to animate" for example), and making a game dev background a requirement for decent critique is a bit of unnecessary gate-keeping to excludes those that have already been marginalized in gaming spaces. In fact, setting it up as a dichotomy is a false choice, in my view. People can create AND critique, and many would argue that criticism is an important part of the artistic process in and of itself. While I think there's an effective way and an ineffective way to critique, I also think that creation doesn't exist in a vacuum and artists and creators will never learn, develop, or improve from an echo chamber.

What say you, readers?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mythbusting Ideas About Women In The Game Industry

Brianna Wu has an excellent article on polygon today on women in the gaming industry and harassment. She outlines the stories of a number of women in the gaming industry and the harassment they have received.

Not only that, but each particular case study takes a myth surrounding online harassment of women in the games industry and shows how it's false, using that woman's direct, lived experience.

An excerpt from the introduction:
My name is Brianna Wu. I lead a development studio that makes games. Sometimes, I write about issues in the games industry that relate to the equality of women. My reward is that I regularly have men threatening to rape and commit acts of violence against me. 
If you are a woman working in the games industry, especially in a public way, you’re going to experience harassment. I imagine telling my 12-year-old self that fulfilling my dream of making games would lead to constant threats. Would she still do it? Would any woman? The problem with sharing these stories in broad terms is that people think men and women receive the same harassment online. They do not. I’m not writing this piece to evoke your sympathy. I’m writing to share with you what prominent, successful women in the industry experience, in their own words.
The entire article is a must-read.

She also created a companion video:

The harassment of women in the games industry is an epidemic, and it's also a reflection of the crap that women have to go through in society in general. It's easy to lay the blame at the feet of anonymous internet cesspools like 4chan and misogynistic pockets of Reddit but those are really just enablers. The internet doesn't exist in a vacuum. It’s part of the culture that we, as a society, have allowed to mushroom because we haven’t done much as a society to stop it.

I talked about a few things men can do to help stop this both online and in general in my blog post "The Status Is Not Quo: Being A Geeky Woman Online & What Men Need To Do".

Castlevania Symphony of the Night As Trans Narrative: Your Asshole Dad's Castle Is Back

Writer Eva Problems contributes a moving, funny, profound and profane take on the events of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night in her latest short story for the Medium, "YOUR ASSHOLE DAD'S CASTLE IS BACK AGAIN".  Your name is Elvira and you'll be damned if your asshole dad will try and threaten the world again OR saddle you with his own name, only backwards.

From the story:
"you thought there was a system. there were supposed to be contingencies in place, there were people with unhealthy fixations and large weapons available for this specific scenario, to ensure that you would never have to even think about him again. but, well, here you are. looking at the gate to your asshole dad’s castle... 
so those contingencies pretty fucking obviously failed you, and no one’s about to tell you why. so you have to go in, and you do. and what a surprise! it’s your asshole dad’s asshole friend, taking all your best shit. it wouldn't be the first time someone in this castle took away the things you cared about because they thought it wasn’t right for you. but it’s not like you’ll want for swords, at least. your dad always buys every shitty mall katana he can get his claws on and just leaves them around all over."
 It's a really great read, and you can read the whole story here.

Dungeons & Dragons Has Influenced A Generation of Writers & How It Helps Kids Today

Artwork courtesy of James Howe.
From a recent New York Times article:
For a new generation of writers, especially those raised in the 1970s and ’80s, all that time spent in basements has paid off. Dungeons and Dragons helped jump-start their creative lives. 
When he was an immigrant boy growing up in New Jersey, the writer Junot Díaz said he felt marginalized. But that feeling was dispelled somewhat in 1981 when he was in sixth grade. He and his buddies, adventuring pals with roots in distant realms — Egypt, Ireland, Cuba and the Dominican Republic — became “totally sucked in,” he said, by a “completely radical concept: role-playing,” in the form of Dungeons & Dragons.
When you think about it, it's not really too surprising. Speaking personally, while D&D offered an escape from an abusive home life, coming up with character back-stories that fit within an adventuring party was my first taste of collaborative storytelling. There are a lot of skills you can learning playing D&D-  collaborative problem solving, team building, working in groups, spatial awareness, multiplication, plus all of the creative things involved with running or taking part in a campaign, like character and world building.

And the current generation of D&D players are finding ways to use D&D to not just instill a love of the game in kids, but also teach children development skills. One author has even come up with a version for pre-preschoolers!

Laura Petelle has released a free game called Monster Dice Fight, a proto-D&D game for preschoolers that also teaches Early Learning Standards skills. As she describes it:
My husband was eager for our sons to get big enough to play D&D with him, and I suggested they were big enough now -- if we adjusted the game. I had recently been in early learning standard presentations, so that was on my mind as well... Parents can adjust the game in a variety of ways to help their children with specific developmental tasks, and can at the same time create appropriate challenges within the game for children of different ages.
If the kids are a little older and you want to introduce them to D&D, collaborative storytelling and some of the game mechanics, artist Jason Howe has you covered with "D&D For 8 Year Olds". As he explains it:
For my son's 8th birthday party he convinced me to run Dungeons and Dragons for four 2nd graders... I decided to take actual characters made in the DND Insider and simplify them us that the boys could have fun without much of a learning curve. Here are the six characters I made from scratch for the game. I am happy to report it was a huge success, each boy had a fantastic time... and so did I. I would happily do it again.
Howe didn't leave girls out, either, and created a number of boy and girl character sheets in full color, all ready to print out and personalize, which you can check out here.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Free Browser Game Spotlight: Scaling the Sky

Scaling the Sky is a game about ascension by William Felkner, Chelsea Howe, and Michael Molinari.
Play Online
Why Try It: A kind of platformer with a very playful sense of movement and few obstacles or stressors.
Author’s Notes: "We decided to close out 2013 by posting all our lingering games - here’s Scaling the Sky, a surreal little experience created for the SF Indie Game Jam."
From the forest ambassador: If you find yourself getting stuck, experiment with the different ways your character moves in clouds and water and remember that your goal is to keep moving upwards.

Scaling the Sky is a game about ascending by William Felkner, Chelsea Howe, and Michael Molinari. It's a fun little free-form platformer with a very playful sense of movement and few obstacles.

Author’s Notes: "We decided to close out 2013 by posting all our lingering games - here’s Scaling the Sky, a surreal little experience created for the SF Indie Game Jam."

Play Scaling the Sky here.

Game Developer Works With Alaska Native Community to Create Awesome Video Game

Never Alone - Game Trailer from Never Alone on Vimeo.
Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna) is an atmospheric puzzle platformer currently in development at Upper One Games in partnership with E-Line Media and members of the Alaska Native community.

Leigh Alexander sat down with Sean Vesce to talk more in depth about the game for a recent article on Gamasutra. An excerpt:
"Sean Vesce left Crystal Dynamics after 20 years in commercial games, with a few goals not uncommon to veterans of the triple-A machine: He wanted to collaborate with small, focused teams, aimed to create social impact, and wanted to create games he could play with his young daughters. Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna) seems to fit the bill: Its trailer presents a dreamlike, beautiful and playful experience, starring a young Alaska Native girl, Nuna, and her arctic fox friend as they solve puzzles together. First shown during E3, the $15 PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One game favorably caught the attention of all the big consumer sites, and received an Editor's Choice award from Polygon."

When asked what his greatest hope for the game was Vesce answered, "Our hope is that as players play, they begin to develop an appreciation for some of the core values of Inupiat culture - including interdependence (mutual reliance on each other), resiliency (the ability to persevere through seemingly insurmountable challenge), and respect for wisdom and knowledge that is passed from one generation to another.

It's a really great article, so I urge you to read the whole thing.

Why are video games' brightest stars abandoning AAA games?

Image courtesy of Crave Online
Jeffrey Grubb tackles this question for VentureBeat's Game Beat section in an article entitled "Why triple-A devs are going indie (and why indies aren’t going triple-A)":
"Joe and Anthony Russo had a pretty good summer. The brothers directed and released Marvel’s summer blockbuster Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The pair got that opportunity after working with smaller budgets in the independent-film scene and on television, and they worked their way up to making one of the biggest movies in the world.  That’s a story we don’t really have in gaming.   
Independent and triple-A gaming development is experiencing the opposite, really. The big names from top developers are leaving their jobs directing huge projects to start their own, smaller development studios. Meanwhile, the hottest talent responsible for beloved, best-selling indie games aren’t moving up to direct larger projects for major publishers with enormous budgets. They’re sticking to their roots or focusing their efforts on expanding the games that made them popular in the first place.   
The question is why is “upward mobility” in gaming broken?"
While the article goes into a lot more depth on the reasons why, with a host of great quotes from developers and other industry professionals, I'm also pretty sure that over-specialization on dev teams, the grueling hours expected of workers on AA titles and the relatively low pay probably don't help matters either.

Inspiration Fan Art: Fuzzface

Fuzz Face from Double Dragon Neon

I know you can wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin!
Fuzz Face from Double Dragon Neon: "I know you can wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin!"

Today's inspirational fan art comes from tumblr user chilicheesechupacabra, who gave the world the only inspirational FuzzFace fan art. Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure this is the only FuzzFace fan art, period. Anyhow, there's a lot more art available at her Deviantart, and you can also wear other art via her RedBubble store.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Free Game Spotlight: Trans Life Simulator

RC released "A Passing Glance" for the QUILTBAG Jam this week. It's a quick and simple text based game where you play as a young trans person trying to buy some underwear. It was made with the intention of showing cis people what it’s like to be trans. You can play as a trans girl, trans boy, or a nonbinary person.

It’s short, so you can play it multiple times for different paths. There are several paths, some better, some worse; if you’re easily triggered by dysphoria or transphobia, you may want to avoid this game. Some paths are safer than others, depending on how well you pass. Trigger warning for homophobic/transphobic slurs, transphobia/transmisogyny, slurs, misgendering, and possible violence.

Panel Spotlight: Dad With Visual Disabilty Hosting Panel @ Bronycon

Matthew Palumbo was born with a degenerative eye condition. As the years have gone on, his vision has continued to deteriorate, robbing him of the use of one eye. This has left him unable to pursue many tasks that he previously enjoyed. He bonds with his seven-year-old son, Ethan, through watching My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic together, the bright colors of which are still traceable to his good eye.

Palumbo wants to spend the last BronyCon he may attend with good vision setting up a panel to educate and spread awareness of disabilities and how My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and the fan community can and has helped.

To that end, he is running a panel titled "Coping With Disabilities Through Pony" this year at the largest Brony convention in the United States, BronyCon. They are currently holding a fundraiser so that the panel can be a success. The mission of the panel is “…to share how the cartoon My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and its fans have helped to improve the lives of individuals with special needs.”

The panel will also feature such guests as Meredith Sims, writer of Silly Filly Studios’ acclaimed short fan film “Snowdrop” (as well as voice for the titular character), Rachel Merryfield, a software developer working on Braillemon (a fan-developed version of the original Pokémon Red and Blue video game, re-worked for visually impaired players), his son Ethan and more. Here's the official panel description from the Bronycon website:
MLP: FiM helps kids & grown-ups be better people. Did you know it also helps people with disabilities and special needs? Come find out how as we share inspirational stories from bronies & speak with: the writer and voice talent of fan film "Snowdrop"; ,a father and his supportive young son; a video game developer who aspires to make technology accessible to all; and an educator of tomorrow who has first hand experience with how powerful MLP has been in giving individuals with disabilities & special needs a way to cope & bond with the world in which we all live in. We'll explore how My Little Pony and its fans have used the show to bond with others and cope with all sorts of disabilities and special needs through the power of Ponies!
Location: Moon Hall
Track: Community
Start Time: 8/2/2014 1:45 pm
End Time: 8/2/2014 2:45 pm
You can also get more information on the panel, its panelists, and plans for a free e-book and audiobook at

The Status Is Not Quo: Being A Geeky Woman Online & What Men Need To Do

It's a bitter irony that for the many self-identified male geeks, nerds, gamers (both of the video and tabletop kind), comic books fans, sci-fi enthusiasts &etc that talk about growing up feeling unwelcome or ostracized in wider society, many women wanting to contribute to, or participate in, those same communities end up feeling that same isolation, hostility and othering just for being a woman online. Whether it's having their "credentials" challenged as being nothing more than a "fake geek girl" or being made to question their own legitimacy at an even just because they are attending an event with their significant other.

Online platforms like Twitter and Youtube have enabled women to work to curate and create spaces on their own terms. Women have flocked to these services to create their own networks of support, activism, and discussion as well as reclaim online space to talk about shared interests, media fandom, geek culture, video games and more from a feminist perspective. However, as Samantha Allen points out, for all the resources and community the Internet has offered, it has made it...

"...much easier for men to manipulate, harass, abuse, stalk, and, yes, physically harm women.This past weekend, I was on a panel with some members of Nostalgia Chick, a set of veteran media critics who often include feminist perspectives in their videos. They told me that the Internet, in many ways, has become a less hospitable place for them to do their work over the years. 

And I believe it. Between 4Chan, Men’s Rights Activist groups, theReddit Red Pill community, pick-up artist (PUA) groups, and anti-PUA groups like the one that Elliot Rodger clung to so dearly, the Internet has allowed men to band together more efficiently than ever before to threaten and antagonize women. Every woman with an online presence has a story to share about unwanted contact, sexual harassment, and predatory behavior."

Anita Sarkeesian, the writer and producer of the Feminist Frequency web video series, started the "Tropes vs. Women In Video Games" series that looks at video game tropes and culture through a feminist lens, has been the target of years of harassment, and recently shared a small sampling of the harassing emails she gets on a regular basis:
I get so many emails like this I could publish a coffee table book full of them.
It’s especially amusing that this misogyny laced email is unironically signed “See you soon m’lady. *tips fedora*”
Sadly, this is a widespread problem for women creators on YouTube, and was addressed at this year's VidCon, the world's largest conference for online video content creators. As Rae Votta outlines in "What It's Really Like For Women On Youtube":

In March, abuses of power by men in the YouTube space over their younger, female fans came to light after several women spoke out on Tumblr and other platforms about their experiences, causing community-wide outrage and task forces like YouCoalition, which was formed to “combat sexual abuse, emotional manipulation and other forms of violence in the YouTube community,” according to the website. Saturday’s Women on YouTube panel broached this still-raw topic, emphasizing the opinion that, while the start of the conversation about abuse had a lot of flaws, the important thing is that the community doesn't treat the situation like it’s finished, and still gives the issue the attention that it deserves.

Rojas, who was one of the women who spoke out against inappropriate behavior, chimed in, “We've shown a lot of people that they won’t get away with it.”
“We are not a community that welcomes abusers,” emphasized Lex Croucher. “The most important thing is to encourage people affected by this to come forward and [to be] supportive of those who do come forward.”
Lots of people try to frame harassment and abuse online as "just the Internet", but the emotional toll and physical danger is important, and a very real threat, and carry very real consequences. Recently, Samanta Allen was harassed off Twitter after she was buried under an avalanche of harassing tweets when she talked about how she liked the staff of Giant Bomb but was disappointed that for all the site's talk of valuing diversity, the site's first public hires in years were another two white men. Women's hurt and fear for safety and the emotional toll for being harassed online have real, chilling impact on discourse.

This is unacceptable. And the burden of speaking out shouldn't continually fall to the women being harassed. So what can we do? Guys, we have to loudly speak out against this behavior. We have to support women in our creative and media spaces. We need to let other men know that this behavior is not okay, and we need to make it socially unacceptable. We need to listen to women's experiences-- really listen, and not just wait for our chance to say "not all men". We need to realize that online harassment isn't something that just happens-- it's a choice that is made, it is a crime that is done.

As Andy Kouri says in "Fake Geek Guys: A Message to Men About Sexual Harassment":
It is wholly and rightfully and crucially up to men in this society and especially in this subculture to speak out and watch out. To end the cycle of bullying, harassment and violence. To recognize the grotesque irony of degrading women over matters of heroic fictions whose lessons about fairness and decency we’ve supposedly been studying since we were just little boys, and to start putting those ideas into practice as grown-ass men. 

Readers, what say you? Sound off in the comments below.

Women That Kick Ass: Kacy Catanzaro, American Ninja Warrior

 Check out this video from the 2014 Dallas Finals of American Ninja Warrior. Kacy Catanzaro not only is the first woman in ANW history to scale the Warped Wall, but is also the first woman in ANW history to qualify for Mt. Midoriyama.

Hey entire finals run, presented above, is amazing. Kacy is a 5', 100 lb gymnast and she breezes through a brutally difficult course like it was just a daily workout. She takes on these obstacles that are very heavily focused on the upper body and just CRUSHES them. They keep showing all these jacked dudes in the audience just alternately either losing it or looking on in slack-jawed admiration.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Free Game Spotlight: Coming Out Simulator 2014

Nicky Case, a games designer who first captured attention with the :the game: trilogy (:the game:, REPLAYING :the game:, and Re-imagine :the game:), and went on to contribute to the Public Game Jam, release The Uncopyrighted Art Bundle and surveillance-critical anti-stealth game Nothing To Hide. This week, Nicky just released a new free browser game: Coming Out Simulator 2014.

Described as a "semi-autobiographical game", the game starts with the narrator in the present day, and after an opening conversation switches to 2010. It's the night after Nicky and his boyfriend have have come back from watching Inception, and Nicky is encouraged to come out of the closet to his parents. The dialog in the game is shown in text message format, and every action and dialog choice is remember and has an outcome on parts of the game.

It's engaging, emotionally affecting, and as short as it is, rewards replay at least once, even if there isn't really a way to "win". In fact, Case describes it as a "game about half truths":
"I realize now, my game is about half-truths. It's that tension between needing to be who you are, and hiding that so you can get by day-to-day. It's about living that double-life, that double-consciousness, always aware what others think of you. It's a mix of truth and lies... 
My game is emotionally authentic, and factually inaccurate. I wouldn't have been able to make something so personal if I didn't also make it somewhat impersonal. Actively acknowledging that all the characters, including past me, are semi-fictional. To get up and close, I needed that distance."
As Nicky Case has done with previous games, the entire source for the game has been released on GitHub.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Final Fantasy X Revisited

The HD remaster and re-release of Final Fantasy X in last for Playstation 3 and Vita has led to a new generation to rediscovering the game, as well as those who played it the first time to revisit it again, years later.

To this day, FFX remains one of my personal favorites in the Final Fantasy series, and I was wondering what other people my age going back and replaying it might have thought about it now. After all, while we have changed-- grown older, changed jobs, careers, moved, etc-- the game, has stayed largely the same, fresh coat of digital paint aside.

Leigh Alexander used the occasion to reflect on her love of Final Fantasy X, both from when she first played it as a teenager, and playing it again over a decade later in an engaging personal essay for Gamasutra, "Let's Revisit Final Fantasy X! Anyone?":
"Yuna is not the protagonist of FFX, but she's arguably the "main character," in that most things in the story are to do with her. She was maybe the first woman in video games that I cared for. Before that I had "liked" all kinds of others, sometimes dutifully borrowing lenses from the men's eyes through which most games were intended to be seen. I was usually attracted to women characters when I was supposed to be, and I was on board with "saving" them when the game told me to. Sometimes I liked them well enough as concepts, or thought I might want to "be" them. But Yuna, I cared for."
It's really interesting read, and you really should read the whole thing.

Minecraft As Safe Space (Excepting Skeletons)

Screenshot of the Proteancraft Server
(Screenshot of the Proteancraft parkour course)

This landed in my inbox the other day, and for all the Minecraft players who follow me, I figured I'd share this with you all:
What you’re looking at right now are a few stills of our brand-new minecraft server, Proteancraft. Proteancraft offers something most other [Minecraft] servers don’t: a safe, welcoming environment for players from all walks of life. 
The difference is our staff and community. We’re a tumblr-based survival minecraft server dedicated to keeping our community as free as possible from the likes of transphobic, homophobic and otherwise offensive/tasteless characters. The server is handled by a handful of (relatively) mature folks who actually give a hoot about how are players feel. If you’re ever feeling uncomfortable on the server, let us know and we’ll attempt to resolve the issue however possible. 
Proteancraft is online nearly 24/7, so you can connect and play at any time. With 3.5gb of RAM and over 30 unique plugins, you’re bound to have a fun time here! So, come join us!
The server IP for Proteancraft is and if you're interested on keeping up with developments, you can follow the Proteancraft blog here.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Does The Comic Book Community Have An Outrage Problem?

Greg Hinkle's Angry Illustration
"Comics has an outrage problem.
 I don’t mean people getting up in arms over things, either. That’s an issue unto itself, and like anything else, it could be better than it currently is in several different ways, but that’s not today’s conversation.

What I’m talking about is how we—the comics community—describe, talk about, and address the concerns of people who are upset about one thing or another. The way we talk about outrage fatigue, outrage-of-the-week, faux outrage, outrage-o-matic, misplaced outrage, another outrage, this outrage, that outrage, and why it’s gross and short-sighted. How we use “tumblr” as a pejorative but ignore the poison in our own forums and followers.

The way we use the word outrage suggests that the outrage in question is fake and irrational, on account of being poorly thought-out and overly emotional. It happens every time someone brings up a point to do with equality, sexism, racism, or justice... They’re invalid, an inconvenience, annoying, or fake because you can see the emotions driving it, and emotional reactions aren’t valid."

-- David Brothers, "Beyond Outrage"

David Brothers works at Image as an editor. Whether it's on the team comics blog Comics Alliance or on his own blog,, he also has a history of writing thought and in-depth essays. The quote is from the beginning of the linked essay "Beyond Outrage" and he addresses how the comic book community as a collective seems to treat those who are upset and are angry about it, with calls for self-examination and reflection.

I think I agree. There is a distressing tendency in many nerd-centric circles to accentuate the positive at the expense of pretending the negative doesn't exist, to treat the those that are hurt as overracting, to cast criticism of things we like as criticisms of us. To me, I think this lead to not just creative stagnation, but community stagnation. It takes black creators and fans, fans of color, and all fans that are members of marginalized communities and pushes them further into the margins-- and sadly, sometimes even out of circles entirely.

When has showing a little empathy and trying to understand where a person is coming from ever hurt anybody? Why is there this distressing tendency to silencing those that criticizing things they love too?

What do you think readers? Do you agree? Are we off base? Sound off in the comments.

Monday, July 14, 2014


(Art courtesy of Blair J. Campbell at Draw, Blair, Draw!)

This blog has been on an unofficial hiatus for a while. It's returning, starting tomorrow. I'll still be blogging about games from the video to tabletop, as well as various geeky and sundry things. I'm also going to focusing on personal essays as well as spotlighting writing from underrepresented voices and perspectives too.

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