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Three Television Portrayals of Women

I’ve been dealing with a persistent case of burnout over the past couple of months. Although it’s been frustrating from relational and productivity standpoints, staying home and hiding from the world has left me with a lot of good tv-watching time. I’ve been checking out new shows and catching up on old ones, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the portrayals of women in several of them. Here’s a snapshot.

Nadia Vulvokov from Russian Doll

Nadia, standing in a bathroom, adjusts her shirt before swaggering toward the door. Source: Giphy.

Eric Mack
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Wild Beauty Grows a Beautiful Tale

Written by Guest Contributor Marissa Brantley

Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemone folds readers into a world of magic, flowers, romance, and danger. First, I would like to acknowledge this beautiful cover, the one pictured here is an OwlCrate exclusive cover, but the version you can dig up in bookstores is also beautiful. I will not hold back on gardening puns, and I will not apologize! I was worried the story wouldn’t live up the magic of this cover, but thankfully it did. With notes of Practical Magic and Chocolat, we’re pulled into a world with five female cousins, and three generations of mothers, grandmothers, great aunts, and aunts-all who can grow hundreds of thousands of flowers based on their namesake. Which sounds fantastic and they probably all smell really good. But there’s a catch, a few catches actually- if they ever try to leave their home, La Padera, they will die. And if they love a man hard enough, he will eventually disappear. This becomes a problem when all five cousins, fall in love with a girl. What will happen to her? And what of the mysterious boy who appeared in La Padera with no memory of his perhaps sinful past? As a life-long reader of mysteries, I am hard to surprise, but Wild Beauty surprised me, IN THE BEST WAY. Lush writing and full of metaphors and magic and little painted wooden horses.

GeekGirlCon
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Seven Indie Games that I played in 2016

2016 was a pretty interesting year for games: with the rise of VR and announcements about new generation consoles, there’s a lot more going on for gaming than in previous years. I didn’t get to play everything that I wanted to (of course), and although I played a lot of AAA games as well, I’m trying to spend more time looking at indie offerings. Here (in no particular order) is a quick list of some of the indie games that I played last year and would recommend:

Inside

Inside is a side-scrolling puzzle/platform game from indie studio Playdead, where you control a boy who, from the first scene, is being chased by soldiers, dogs and scientists. Although the narrative doesn’t do much to explain what’s happening, you do get to wear mind control helmets to move zombies around to solve puzzles, and there’s an underlying commentary about autonomy and ownership. The art is minimal, with the setting being mostly black and gray, except for your character and interactable objects. Likewise, there’s very little soundtrack, with only audio cues, and the sound of your character’s footsteps, which really adds to how eerie the setting is.

This War of Mine

This one came out in 2014 but I only got around to playing it in 2016. There are lots of games about war, but This War of Mine is unique in that you play as non-combatant residents of a war-torn city–all the fighting you do is for your day-to-day survival. I think this one hit home particularly hard because I started playing as the Siege of Aleppo was intensifying at the end of the year, and there are some incredibly heartbreaking choices you have to make. It’s not a game I would say I enjoyed per se, but I think it is definitely one that is worth playing for the lessons in empathy, understanding and acceptance it can teach. (And if that’s not emotionally wrenching enough for you, there’s now an expansion called This War of Mine: The Little Ones where you experience the besieged city through the eyes of a child.)

Overcooked

Overcooked is a great little cooking game where couch cooperation is key to success–it’s not enough to just be good at the game as an individual; where it gets fun (and tricky and frustrating) is playing with a group of up to three other players, where you have to navigate a kitchen without bumping into each other to source, prepare, cook and serve food. With some clever mechanics that focus on teamwork and cooperation, hilarity (and a little bit of rage) ensues.

Unravel

I absolutely love Unravel. It’s probably the most visually stunning game on this list, and it’s a little game with a lot of heart. You play as Yarny, an anthromorphic ball of yarn who—as the name suggests—unravels as he traverses across levels, using his yarn to solve puzzles and move objects around. The mechanics in the game are pretty straightforward, but what ties Unravel together (if you forgive the pun) is how lovely it is. The story is poignant and bittersweet, but it is incredibly clear that the developers really put their love into making it the game that they wanted. Also, you’d never imagine that a ball of red yarn could have so much emotion and personality.

Firewatch

I’m a huge fan of adventure games, but the majority of them that I’ve played are of the point-and-click variety. Firewatch is almost like a grownup version of that, with a mystery that drives the story and a first-person perspective that works surprisingly well for the narrative and the puzzles. You play as Henry, a volunteer lookout for Shoshone National Park, and your only means of connection to the outside world is via a walkie-talkie. As you patrol your part of the park, you discover a whole host of different storylines that interweave. I really enjoyed the way Firewatch set up dialog trees so that your responses in your conversations would drive how your experience in the game evolved.

Salt and Sanctuary

If you like the grindiness of games like Dark Souls, but set in a 2D platformer, where you can play cooperatively with your friends (and not just people who invade your game), Salt and Sanctuary might be worth checking out. It’s a hard game, but there are lots of player customizations, and playing with your friends helps soften the blow of the many, many, times that you’ll die in the game.

The Flame in the Flood

The Flame in the Flood is a roguelike survival game, where you play as Scout, a survivor in a flooded, post-apocalyptic America where the land has been transformed into a series of islands that she has to traverse on a makeshift raft. As she and her dog Aesop travel down the river, Scout has to contend with wild animal attacks, snakebites, hunger, and staying warm and dry, all the while as she uncovers the mystery of where everyone went during the rapture. What keeps the game together is the river, which varies between calm streams to rushing rapids that you have to maneuver through to get to the next destination. Will it take you where you want to go? Or will you be dashed upon rocks? I also highly recommend the soundtrack for The Flame in the Flood; I didn’t stop listening to it for weeks after I finished the campaign.

What did you play in 2016 that you enjoyed? Are there any other indie games that you would recommend? Let us know in the comments below! Happy gaming for 2017!

JC Lau
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Cassius is More than Just “Ass-Kicking Roman Lesbians”

Written by GeekGirlCon Copywriter JC Lau

 

I’ve read a lot of comics in my time, but I’ve never really found many that address my non-comic political interests. A possible exception has been Mike Carey and Peter Gross’ The Unwritten series, which discusses things such as metastories and political philosophy, but that’s just one instance. Exceptions are rare.

This is why I was super excited to have the opportunity to review Cassius, which on the face of it, was going to address some of my other interests: I love history, I love Shakespeare, and I love dynamic female characters. Cassius has all of these things in scads, which pleases me immensely.

JC Lau
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Board Game of the Month: Ark

Today’s blog is the first in a series from our copy intern, Jaden Blazier. Jaden is a big fan of board games and will be reviewing a few of her favorites. Enjoy!

Rain or shine, board games are always a great activity! While this one doesn’t physically include a board (it’s more of a complicated card game), it’s still one of my all time favorites. Ark is a game of strategy, logic, and cute animals. It’s the perfect blend!

Ark

I’m sure we’re all enjoying the nice summer weather that’s finally made it to the Pacific Northwest, but you couldn’t say the same for Noah. With the treacherous 40 day storm just around the corner, there is work to be done on his ark. It couldn’t have been easy building such a giant boat, and he’s now facing the challenge of getting animals of all kinds settled onboard before the flood. Do you think that you could handle it? Now you can see for yourself!

This game is a 45 minute journey into the land of the Ark. Three to five people above age 8 (including you!) will be placed in the stressful, yet exciting, situation of finding safe places for all of the animals on the boat before the rain hits. Sounds easy? Well, here’s the catch: each animal has needs that must be satisfied. Maybe you play the koala bear card, and this koala is a slow, herbivorous, sunshine-loving creature. He must be placed in a cabin with other sunshine animals so he doesn’t freeze, without any provisions because he might eat them, and without any carnivores that might eat him. Oh, and don’t bother trying to get anyone else on the boat in that turn, this is one slow critter. Complicated enough yet? He also weighs 1 whole unit, and you wouldn’t want to tip the boat!

With a handful of animals of all shapes, sizes, and needs, fitting them all together can be quite challenging. However, finding places for these needy creatures will be rewarding! Every time you successfully place something of a certain category on the boat, you earn points in that category. Your koala would earn you a point in the “slow” category, and the food you placed in the cabin next to him would earn you a point in the “provisions” category. At the end of the game, those with the most points in each category will get bonuses, and the player with the most points wins the game! See how many points you can collect and how many animals you can get onto the boat before the final rain-card is drawn and the boat sets sail.

It may sound a little bit overwhelming, but it is a surprisingly fun game, especially for an animal lover like me. The one downside to this game is that it can get frustrating at times. Finding a good spot to place an animal takes some thought, simply because there is so much to consider. Sometimes you might feel like giving up entirely, but persistence pays off. It always feels great once you figure it out, and it really is worth the effort!

Other than being a tad tricky, I give much praise to the game.The first time I played it, I was less focused on the actual game and more enchanted by the beautiful artwork included. Each animal is drawn with charm, sealing the deal for me. Ark was designed by Frank Nestel, my favorite board game designer. He is well known for all of the animals and critters in his games, and this one is no exception. The characters are made loveable to keep you absorbed in the fantastical world created by the game; you’ll want to play it again and again!

A few of the playing cards from Ark

I would certainly recommend Ark, a game suited for family or friends. It is the perfect choice for a laid-back game night, or simply a fun activity for a day in. It may not be very applicable to the real world, but it does indeed develop strategic skills, and is plenty enjoyable for those with big imaginations. Ark is definitely worth a try. I mean really, who doesn’t love a challenge, some competition, and cute animals? Just get them all on the Ark before the storm and you’ll be set!

Shiboo_Krismer
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