Monday Funday

I don’t know what it is, but I am just not having it today. Here are some free browser games to help get past the Monday doldrums.

Sometimes I play this just so I can watch the people dance in the club. Also because I heart Blade Runner. [The Last Night]

Cameron Kunzelman is busy trying to reach his stretch goals for his new game Epanalepsis. Meanwhile, one of his atmospheric and funny early efforts is available to play immediamente. [Catechresis]

Finally, an RPG that doesn’t take 50+ hours to complete! My high score is 19200. What’s yours? [One Tap Quest]

Music makes the people come together, so get to tapping those keyboard keys, Maestro. Epilepsy warning—it can get pretty flashy. [Patatap]

Fire up MGMT’s Oracular Spectacular on Spotify, load up Cara Ellison’s Twine meditation on sex and youth, and “initiate fuckplan.” [Sacrilege]


Love’s Labor’s Lost

“Here’s the thing: being near you makes me crazy, but I can’t imagine being without you. Not ever.”

—Alistair to Grey Warden, Dragon Age: Origins

“I love Hawke. […] I say it a lot. It makes things clearer, takes away doubt when everything is crazy and people are dying.”

—Merrill to Aveline, Dragon Age II

“It’d be an awfully empty galaxy without you.”

—Garrus to Commander Shepard, Mass Effect 3

BioWare has a special place in my heart due to its combination of the RPG and third-person shooter genres, its story lines, and its devotion to non-player character (NPC) development. Creating my own character or customizing the set player character (PC), choosing their personality and behavior, and being able to replay the games with a different tone or overall outcome each time makes for a personalized gaming experience that helps me connect with the action and deeply feel for the PC as well as the NPCs. I always look for media that encourage intellectual and emotional investment from the consumer. But emotional investment is not always rewarded in the best way.

Naturally, I am talking about the option to romance NPCs. BioWare has earned acclaim for its representation of lesbian, gay, and bisexual relationships in its games, and I applaud the company for its efforts to be inclusive. My heart swells with happiness when I hear the joy in a person’s voice when they discover that they can romance a female companion while playing as a female, or a male companion while playing as a male, or that specific characters can be romanced by a PC of any gender. There is no solid argument against how helpful and validating representation for sexual minorities can be, whether one is talking about film and television, literature, video games, or another form of media; and there is plenty of evidence supporting the importance of this representation to help normalize these marginalized sexualities in the public eye as well as empowering an underrepresented demographic.

However, there is still something common between all of these romantic possibilities: the flirting, the courtship, the intense feelings and declarations of adoration all count as nothing unless the player character ends up having sex with the romantic interest. Upon reading that sentence, many people may be baffled; after all, doesn’t every important romantic relationship eventually lead to one or many sexual encounters?

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I’m so Proud of You, Dudes Who Play Female Avatars: A Think Piece

Seriously, give yourselves a whole bunch of pats on the back from me.

I never tire of reading paragraphs-long essays about your decision to always play female avatars, so thank you so much for continuing to write them. My dream is for there to be an essay about a guy playing a woman posted at every major gaming outlet. And hey, I can’t write them, can I? Not just because women don’t make good games journos, either. I literally will never be a man playing a female avatar. That’s my cross to bear.

I loved the passage where you explained how you spent hours making your female avatar hot so you’d have something nice to look at while you spend all that time in-game. I mean, to take time out of your essay about what a great feminist ally you are to reveal you’re still really into sexually objectifying women? How honest. How brave.

The part where you talk about if you have to stare at a butt the whole time, it might as well be a lady-butt was so funny and charming, too. You seem really real.

I’ve been playing male avatars since I started gaming as a wee little girl made of sugar and spice and everything nice, but that’s because I literally didn’t have any choice. You? You don’t even have to play as a woman, and you do it anyway!

Is it dusty in here, or am I just incredibly moved?

I also really like when I’m talking to you IRL and I mention that sometimes it seems silly for certain games to not even give players the option of playing a female character, especially when the protagonist is silent, and you make sure to mention that you always play a female character when given the choice before explaining to me that the developers can tell whatever story they want, and I need to vote with my dollars, and why don’t I make my own game if I’m so bent out of shape about it. It lets me know you’re one of the good ones, you know?

And since I know you’re one of the good ones, I don’t actually mind when you stop listening as I talk about how I’ve actively boycotted several games that don’t include playable women, I’m about halfway through designing my own game, and anyway I’m pretty sure it’s okay to engage critically with any art, games being no exception.

I know you’re really busy saving the games industry from sexism with your avatar choices, and plus you’ve got to copyedit that piece you’ve been working on explaining how you always play female characters!

I can’t wait to read it.