happy_mask_salesman_by_fluxmage

Masks

The boy’s eyes are always angry, except when he plays his lyre.

He’s stealthy, knowledgeable, brave, mysterious. The songs he teaches are the roads I travel, the advice he gives the key to my progress. A cowl hides most of his face. Tufts of blond hair frame his eyes, those fierce eyes.

I am Link, and he is Sheik, except he’s actually Princess Zelda in disguise. Link isn’t supposed to figure that out until the end of the game, but I recognize her right away.

“They say that, contrary to her elegant image, Princess Zelda of Hyrule Castle is, in fact, a tomboy!”

—Gossip Stone, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

I’m going through my own thing with boys’ clothing. I insist on wearing nothing but baggy t-shirts and ripped jeans. I sometimes tie a flannel around my waist. I cut my hair short, and don’t mind at all when people mistake me for a boy.

I don’t want to be a boy, but I do want to stay a girl. A kid, that is. I don’t want to lose my rights to riding bikes, jumping off swings, and carrying a pocket knife up the tree in my grandma’s front yard so I can carve my initials into the highest branch within reach. I can feel and see myself turning into a woman, and it seems dangerous.

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LOUD on Planet X

Kicked It:
LOUD on Planet X

I know I’m running the risk of inundating readers with posts about my own Kickstarter tastes, but I had to share another one this week. LOUD on Planet X is a super rad music game that I had a chance to play with during this year’s IndieCade East. It’s 76% funded with four days to go, so LET’S DO THIS, VIDEODAMES.

LOUDonPlanetX

Creative producer Alex Jansen reached out to me via a mutual acquaintance before the IndieCade conference, and we made plans to meet up. He also came to see me talk on my panel and said it was totally bitchin’ (I think the word he actually used was the less curse-y but equally fun “great,” but I hear what I want to hear), so in the interest of full disclosure: I quite like the chap. I also quite liked Craig Small, another chap he brought to our meeting. Craig’s been involved with a number of Pop Sandbox projects, but I believe his role on this specific endeavor is Personalized Avatar Example Guy.

Continue reading Kicked It:
LOUD on Planet X

rae-johnson-bioshock-tweet

Escape

Fake gamer girl, or so I’m called,
encroached on territory I wasn’t aware
was already marked by territorial animals
grizzlier than bears.

Intimidation, predation;
it’s rather bold, rather brave,
for the man whose closest brushes with death
can be reverted from a previous save.

They call these beasties gamers,
such strange animals, I’m sure you’d agree,
when I’m often heckled by vile little boys
not all of them younger than me.

And yes, I know,
as the saying goes, boys will be boys.
And I also know what happens
when you separate a baby from its toys.

But why is it I,
when playing on my own,
am branded the invader
when I wish to be alone?

And why, for that matter,
is there not room for me?
It’d seem there’s more than enough room,
when thinking digitally.

I mean, I’m playing games indie,
just like you said you wanted.
“MAKE YOUR OWN, BITCH!” you screamed,
like the whole internet was haunted.

So we’ve already done that,
embarked on our own,
established our own worlds,
but you know what you’ve sown,

A quintessential fact,
and I’m sure y’all’ll disagree,
is that you don’t want us to have our own spaces,
but to have your spaces us-free.

So you’ll test us,
with quizzes galore.
Doesn’t matter how we do,
we’re just fake gamer whores.

So what’s a person to do,
if they don’t fit your requirements at the gate?
Leave?
What does giving a tantrumming baby what it wants demonstrate?

[art credit]

UE4Editor 2015-05-13 22-55-21-08 copy

Kicked It: Perception

I was milling around a videogames conference two weeks ago (Kill Screen’s Two5Six, holla!), and a friend kept saying he “kicked that” whenever one or another game came up as a topic of conversation. It took me far too long to figure out that he meant he backed the project on Kickstarter—I kept thinking, is that the new hip word for “play” or “beat” these days?—but once I finally got it, I found it to be a delightful turn of phrase. Thus, like many old people, I’ve decided to awkwardly appropriate it. Welcome to the inaugural post of the ongoing “Kicked It” column!

Today I’m focusing on Perception, whose Kickstarter launched yesterday.

In the days leading up to conference, I got an email from Bill Gardner, formerly of Irrational and the Design Director of BioShock Infinite, among other things. He thought Perception would be a great fit for Videodame, and I wholeheartedly agree!

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Toast_to_the_Iris_Network_by_jameson9101322

Project BG&E:
Carlson and Peeters!

Dear Sara,

I need to thank you for bringing up and giving kudos for the extent of the presence of people of color in Beyond Good & Evil because you’re totally right and it pointed out to me a significant oversight in the way I’d taken in the game. I’m still very slightly disappointed at the way the second half of the game focuses on Homo sapiens rather than the various other sapiens the game has introduced and I’ve certainly spent time trying to figure out whether the portrayals of the Mamago rhinos and Secundo veer into the offensive, but—and that should probably be written in all-caps—BUT I somehow failed to catch the way that Beyond Good & Evil really seems to try to resist a default category of whiteness.

There is in fact in Beyond Good and Evil something of a push against the idea of a racial or ethnic “default” state against which race and ethnicity are defined through the presence of racial or ethnic markers. Arguably, Double H is the only unambiguously Caucasian character, and by hinting very strongly if very briefly that he’s a clone, the game may even make an implicit comment on the possibility of a “default,” non-racinated state.

But (embarrassingly,) none of this occurred to me until you pointed out how many people of color there were on Hillys. It’s a common “I’m not a racist” gesture for (white) people to claim that they don’t see race, and to not even see how that claim is self-damning. That is, not seeing race is really a conditional extension of an assumption of whiteness to individuals whose appearance and behavior doesn’t “insist” on racial coding.

Continue reading Project BG&E:
Carlson and Peeters!