Tag Archives: SJW

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PAX Prime 2015, Day Two

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Tumblestone
Tumblestone

We had no troubles getting ourselves together for Day Two, and we had a delightful time traipsing through the show with Friend of the Hole–and invaluable assistant–Tom. Here’s our report:

  • Queering Up Misconceptions: LGBT Game Industry Life
    We started the day at this panel, which was a rollicking good time—and largely quite optimistic. Five industry pros talked about their experiences and what they want to see going forward, and it was gratifying to hear that most of them had no problem coming out at work. One, Hangry Studio‘s Chris Wright, was certain that he had outed himself to coworkers with a shirtless Hayden Christensen pic on his desktop, but was later told “I just thought you were really into Star Wars!” Moderator Gordon Bellamy kept it grounded and summed up the vibe with the line “Being allowed to exist is super powerful.” Good stuff!
  • Mech Deck
    Another sweet tabletop title at the Indie Megabooth, this one involved mech construction using modular mech parts that give players various weapons, capabilities, etc. It’s played on an expandable hex map and uses a card-based system to handle combat and other interactions. They’re launching a Kickstarter next month and we are sure to follow up then.
  • Tabletop Smarts
    Patrick, the big brain behind Mech Deck, while explaining his development process, blew our minds when he told us about the Boston Game Makers Guild. This meetup group includes a bunch of local tabletop game devs who playtest each other’s games and then vote them up to get additional attention by the group as a whole. Playtesting, networking, support—it sounds like a brilliant way for game makers to hone their craft and get their ideas to market. If this isn’t happening in Seattle, let’s make it happen.
  • PAX 10: Dark Echo
    The PAX 10 had a few winners this year (though of course they’re ALL winners), and we have some serious affection for Dark Echo, a sweet survival game featuring a nifty visual sonar system. It rewards experimentation and is really easy to pick up—Rob, who is terrible with new games, was happily evading obstacles in seconds. It was developed as part of Ludum Dare and is available on Steam, iOS, and Android.
  • PAX 10: Ninja Tag
    This title is pure PAX 10 gold–a tiny, well-executed game by an underdog developer who learned to code while creating it as his thesis project. (That would be Leandro Ribeiro, a Brazilian economist going to school at the NYU Game Center.) Ninja Tag is a 2D, very fast-paced four-player death match between disappearing-reappearing-backstabbing ninjas armed with swords and crossbows (perfect for much animated giffery). It’s a natural party game, with a constant backdrop of woots, groans, and profanity. You might need to play it a few times to master the controls and the rhythm, but it’s definitely worth it–and super fun if you’re lucky enough to play with the same group for several rounds, so you can develop mature vendettas.
  • PAX 10: Tumblestone
    Tumblestone is a tense-but-fun cross between a bubble-shooter and competitive Tetris. You compete against up to three other players, racing to deplete your tiles by matching three tiles of the same color at a time–but you must also solve the puzzle of which colors to match first before the others do the same. It’s easy to learn, fast-paced, and good fun. See the demo here. You can also catch it in the Indie Megabooth!
  • PAX 10: From Light
    This sweet-weird platformer gives Ninja Tag a run for its money for PAX 10 underdog goodness: it was an Intermediate Game Design project by a small pack of USC Gaming Design sophomores and juniors, with help from friends at the Berkeley College of Music for the sound. It’s hard to describe the gameplay adequately–watch the video below–but it involves a clever puzzle dynamic that mimics long streaks of starlight in long-exposure photography. (The cute conceit of the game is that you’re guiding a fallen star back to the moon.) The art in the demo is still primitive, but they’ve posted some lovely art in the booth (finished just last week!) that gives you a better idea of how the final game will look.
  • AbleGamers
    We got to meet the nice folks at the AbleGamers Foundation up on level 6 today. You should definitely say hi: they have candy. They also have a really cool and worthwhile cause, helping gamers with disabilities get access to often expensive assistive technologies to help them play. If you’re such a gamer–or a caregiver, or an interested dev–you should get in touch. Also, slight spoiler: go to their panel Sunday at 9pm to learn about a new program they’re announcing, which will get gamers with disabilities involved interning with developers.
  • Don’t Starve: Shipwrecked 
    What caught our eye about Don’t Starve: Shipwrecked is its delightful Tim Burton-esque, sketchy art style. The gameplay looks like lotsa fun too, though we’re not familiar with the original Don’t Starve. Check out the trailer for the original here to get an idea of the style and gameplay. Here’s the teaser for Shipwrecked–it’s just a quicky promo.
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PAX Prime 2015, Day One

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Eldrazi means business.
Eldrazi means business.

Rob woke up with a migraine and Mary couldn’t make it ’til the end of the show (stupid day job), but we still managed to take in lots of great PAX action, starting with the amazing Eldrazi sculpture outside the Magic show in the Annex (see above). Here’s our report:

  • Trivia Night
    We kicked off this year’s PAX in a big way by cohosting Nerd Trivia Night at Raygun Lounge. The house was packed, and while we suffered some unfortunate tech issues, our cohost Andrew of A Podcast [,] For All Intents and Purposes handled everything with grace and charm. Mary’s “Shitty Vampire Things” category was a big hit, and the winners were super-stoked thanks to our extremely generous prize donors:

    • Pelgrane Press gave a 13th Age core rulebook, Eyes of the Stone Thief mega-adventure, and a super-sweet icon die spinner ring. Check them out in Room 206—they’ve got tons of cool stuff going on.
    • Wargaming.Net gave two delightful (and practical) prize bags containing World of Tanks gaming mice, minifigs, and more. It is almost literally impossible to miss their huge presence in the main expo hall, so make sure to check them out when you see them.
  • Paperback
    This stopped us cold in the Indie Megabooth tabletop zone. A small, handwritten sign read “Scrabble + Dominion = Paperback.” WHAA? We watched a bit of a demo and are going to try to play it sometime over the weekend. Like Dominion, you start with a small deck of cards, each of which has a letter (sometimes two) and many of which have special rules attached. On your turn, you use your cards to form a word and score points to buy new cards for your deck. Victory points come in the form of novels you help write, which are added to your deck just like in Dominion. There are some nifty complications that look like they could give this game some real legs.
  • Antihero
    We have a friend who runs a landscaping business, and his advice for picking a landscaper is to choose the one with the best-looking business cards. His reasoning was that appealing design was a relatively reliable indicator for just generally Caring About Things, and–fair or not–it’s not a bad way to apportion your attention on the showfloor at PAX. That’s a long way of saying that Antihero grabbed us first with its cartoony good looks (see below!), and then likewise proved to have equally satisfying gameplay–fun, fast, quirky, and scratching many of the same itches as games that inspired it, like the beloved Civ series and seminal mobile game Hero Academy. You play a Victorian-era skuldugger, managing a thieves’ guild that’s trying to 4X its way through a mist-shrouded city. Play is turn-based (with a 1P campaign and asynchronous multiplayer), and involves juggling several-but-not-too-many resources, upgrade trees, and menacingly cute units like thugs and urchins. Like! And good news: it’s been Greenlit.
  • I Heart PAX
    Rob here. I just need to break in on the journamalism to express my deep, sincere affection for PAX culture. My generation was ruined by degenerate irony, so it can be hard for me to feel all the feels I should be feeling, but I love seeing all the young nerds unburdened by my cultural baggage. They are who they are and they love who they are, and I love them for it. That goes double for all the folks who have been (and, sadly, continue to be) underrepresented and/or exploited by nerd culture over the years.
  • Cards Against Humanity
    We don’t have too much to say about this party game that hasn’t already been said—but their marketing this year is brill. They’re selling oversized popsicles with small packs of cards inside. They look yummy (we found the truck just as they were closing shop) and are great at provoking curiosity in onlookers. Great job, marketing team!
  • Brigador
    If you like isometric games where mechs, tanks, and other belligerent vehicles destroy everything in sight using multiple weapons and smashy-smashy physical attacks, then check out Brigador. The WASD/mouse controls can take some acclimatization (especially with a mech), but it’s got a nice Crush, Crumble, Chomp vibe with its destructible environment and pell-mell attackers.
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Episode 30 – Daredevil

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The D'Onofrio and the home of the brave.
Child + Monster = Kingpin

We love love love Daredevil, and hope this spoiler-free episode will inspire you to binge it hard–or re-binge, if you’ve already taken a spin.

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Episode 23 – Space Mustaches

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Space Marshals
In space, no one can hear your civil rights complaint.

This time, the nerds rant about a clueless article that clutched its pearls about how it’s getting harder for white actors to get work. Then Paul takes a moment to get real about his new favorite iOS game Space Marshals.

A quick note (with spoilers) from Rob’s mention in the podcast about race and character death on The Walking Dead: we ran the numbers and the death percentages are actually the same–-50% of the show’s main white characters have died, as have 50% of the show’s main black characters. But that headline stat masks the fact that there just aren’t that many black characters around at any one time, and at this point we’re back to the unfortunate One Living Black Man situation.

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Highlights From Emerald City Comicon, Day 1

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First of all, I always forget how impossible it is to get online at cons, so updates are going to be limited to when I can step away from the convention center. I have also never worn such an elaborate costume to a con, and I salute everyone whose costume is even more constricting and sweaty! Well done! (Costume photos tomorrow!)

After wandering the floor a bit and getting the lay of the land, I headed to my first panel of the con, Loving What You Hate: How to Love Media That Doesn’t Always Love You Back. The panel consisted of members of the Digital Future Lab at UW Bothell discussing their passion for various fandoms at the same time they examined what is problematic in each. (Problematic in this context refers to lack of diversity, racism, homophobia, etc.) It’s something many of us deal with, whether we’re directly effected by the particular issue or not. The conversation was based on a podcast episode by the same name from the DFL. The main take-away is that while we are bound to fall in love with things that have problematic themes, it’s also important to examine those problems and talk about them. And if you’re not sure if something is racist (for example), look into the response from the community it’s affecting. No community is monolithic, but it’s important to step outside yourself when an issue doesn’t directly affect you. It was a great panel, you should give the podcast episode a listen.

"The prop dept gave me a key item from each episode. So I do have Steve's blood. And a bomb." @HayleyAtwell #ECCC  — Emerald City Comicon (@emeraldcitycon) March 27, 2015
“The prop dept gave me a key item from each episode. So I do have Steve’s blood. And a bomb.” @HayleyAtwell #ECCC
— Emerald City Comicon (@emeraldcitycon) March 27, 2015
I arrived an hour early for the Hayley Atwell panel, and boy was I glad! The main hall was packed solid for Atwell’s first appearance since Agent Carter aired. The panel immediately started well: former Mythbuster Grant Imahara was the host which is a huge improvement from hosts in years past. (According to his Twitter feed Imahara is moderating a bunch of the panels throughout the weekend.) Hayley Atwell is beyond awesome: smart, well-spoken, thoughtful, compassionate, funny… everything you hope she is! She started off with a story of her clutzy first days of stunt-fighting. They didn’t end well for many members of the cast and crew, including a stuntman she accidentally kicked in the balls SIX TIMES! During the Q&A she was asked what she’d like to see next for Peggy Carter, and replied that she’d love to explore Peggy’s background and where she gained her strength and independence, or possibly see into Peggy’s future and how she handles having a family while continuing to kick ass. She also talked about how glad she is that Peggy’s friendship with Angie isn’t competitive as opposed to how female friendships are often portrayed. And while she considers Chris Evans almost like a brother, she indulged fans with a description of kissing him… he has VERY soft lips and smells really good. When asked what she’d like to be able to tell other woman, Atwell replied, “Know your value.”

Stay tuned for more tales from the con, coming up tomorrow!

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Some Stuff We’re Stoked About at Emerald City Comicon

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logoIT STARTS TOMORROW YOU GUYS. Either you have tickets or you’re not going, but if you ARE going, here’s some of the stuff we’re most excited about:

Artists/Writers
Some special guests, some regular exhibitors. Booth number in parentheses.

  • enfu Seattle artist, creator of comics and other geeky things (502)
  • Levi Hastings Seattle artist, illustrator on the card game Salem, also paints dinosaurs and other geeky things! (1214)
  • Jody Houser Writer of the upcoming Orphan Black comic (II-12)
  • Matthew Inman Seattle writer/artist who created The Oatmeal. (202)
  • Mike Mignola Creator of Hellboy. (A-09)
  • Noelle Stevenson Comic writer and artist, known for Lumberjanes, Sleepy Hollow, Adventure Time, Adventure Time with Fionna & Cake, Bravest Warriors, The Midas Flesh, Nimona. (1002)
  • Kurtis J. Wiebe Creator and writer of Rat Queens. (P-06)

Panels
This (very condensed) list highlights some panels you might not have noticed. It’s in order of when the panels are occurring, visit the ECCC website for more details on days/times/locations/etc.

  • Supernatural Fan Panel – Sadly, the actual stars are going to be across town at the Supernatural Convention, so it’ll just be us nerds
  • Loving What You Hate: How to Love Media That Doesn’t Always Love You Back – a panel on loving problematic media
  • Meet The Valkyries – hear the insights of The Valkyries, a network of female comics retailers
  • Diversity, Representation and the Changing Face of Mainstream Comics, Cover Artist Confidential
  • Copyright Infringement and the Fair Use Doctrine Defense – great if you’re a fan creator!
  • Image Comics Presents: Your New Favorite Comics – including Kurtis J. Wiebe, creator of our new favorite comic, Rat Queens
  • How to Be a Nerd for a Living: Your Career in Nerd Culture
  • How Can You Help Diversity in Gaming?
  • Body Confidence and Positivity in Cosplay
  • It’s a (Straight White Cisgendered) Man’s World – hear from folks in the industry who aren’t straight, white, cis men about their experiences.
  • So Your Kids Want to Make Video Games?
  • Science Fact in Comics
  • Green Arrow to Katniss: Archery in Pop Culture – a panel of archers and archery nerds discussing archery
  • Women in the Gaming Industry – Industry pros discuss their experiences as women in the industry
  • Comics in the Classroom: Students as Makers

Celebrity Guests

Be sure to download the ECCC app to navigate your way through the weekend!

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer At 18

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ea_b_s1bIt’s hard to believe how long it’s been since we first heard that opening howl and entered the Hellmouth. The Atlantic has a great piece reflecting on Buffy eighteen years after its premier, and on the show’s importance.

In its first two minutes, “Welcome to the Hellmouth” establishes a universe, as the camera creeps slowly through a high school in the dark, lingering on skeletons in a classroom and shadows behind a door. But it also establishes a premise—that this is a show about female power. The pretty blonde, a vampire named Darla, isn’t a victim but a predator, just as Buffy has strength and acuity that belie her looks. At the end of “The Harvest,” the second part of the two-episode debut, Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) watches Buffy and her friends walk away, cheerily discussing the ways in which she stands between the world and its total destruction. “The earth is doomed,” he says, wearily. It’s this kind of assumption—that being young and frivolous and having profound influence are mutually exclusive—that Whedon would go on to dispel throughout Buffy’s seven seasons.

Go read the whole thing.

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Episode 20 – Spoiler Alert: You’re the Chosen One

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All this and he wants aiming, too.
All this and he wants aiming, too.

It’s Two-Topic Tuesday! First, Paul somewhat reluctantly shares his initial findings from Dragon Age: Inquisition after only 20 hours of play. Thanks, ridiculous expectations of games journalism! Then Mary dives into the Wiseman and Burch study of teenage gamers that reveals that our tireless efforts to recruit junior social justice warriors is finally showing concrete results. It’s lovely when science tells us something we want to hear and holds up to skepticism.

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SJW Link Roundup

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Some progressive nerd news and discussions from the past week:

10931594_10153551345353345_6791788542611331807_oRewriting The Future: Using Science Fiction to Re-envision Justice
More on Octavia’s Brood, the project we mentioned on our podcast a few weeks ago, by one of the editors, Walidah Imarisha:

We started the anthology with the belief that all organizing is science fiction. When we talk about a world without prisons; a world without police violence; a world where everyone has food, clothing, shelter, quality education; a world free of white supremacy, patriarchy, capitalism, heterosexism; we are talking about a world that doesn’t currently exist. But collectively dreaming up one that does means we can begin building it into existence.

(via Nerds of Color)


 
Star Wars Adds First LGBTQ Character to the New Canon

Yub fucking nub: not only does Star Wars now have canonically female stormtroopers, but Paul Kemp’s upcoming book Lords of the Sith is also about to introduce the first official LGBTQ character to the new canon.

(via The Mary Sue)


 
Black developers speak out on stereotypes in gaming
Professor and game designer Derek Derek Manns and Dennis Mathews of Revelation Interactive Studios held a roundtable discussion at GDC 2015 (the Game Developers Conference) on how black characters are portrayed in games as well as stereotypes of black game developers and designers.

Mathews summed up the biggest reason why diversity is needed in one phrase: “People don’t know what they don’t know.” He explained that often developers who aren’t black don’t even realize when they’re drawing on stereotypes because they don’t have any black coworkers to call it out.

(via Polygon)


 
Doctor Who vs. the Bechdel Test
Sarah Barrett of The Mary Sue watched all 117 episodes of modern-day Doctor Who and analyzed how many times it passed the Bechdel test, and frankly we’re surprised it did so well. (Though things aren’t as good when you measure by people of color.)

(via The Mary Sue)

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Episode 15 – All Roads Lead to Azeroth

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This episode is a nerd trope buffet, featuring:

  • Mini-reviews of a couple of lovely mobile apps
  • A hopeless stab at defining the word “game”
  • Social justice worriers
  • Gratuitous WoW references
  • 1d4+1 kobold caterers

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