post

Teacups & 1UPs: The Banner Saga

Welcome to the first installment of Teacups & 1UPs, a (hopefully) fortnightly column in which I will talk about games both indie, AAA, and in-between! These may not entirely be reviews, and they won’t always be the same format, but one thing’s for sure: I’m going to pair a tea with each and every game.

Why tea? Because I love tea. Next question.

The first game I’m going to be tackling is The Banner Saga, which a Steam review accurately renamed “Tactical Starvation: The Game“. It’s not a new game, so warning for potential minor spoilers as I pick apart the good, the bad, and the fantasy misogyny. Buckle up, I definitely have Some Thoughts about this game.

the-banner-saga-day-22

You wouldn’t think such a pretty game could be so cruel.

Continue reading

Broaden Your Diversity Horizons

Insisting that only women/creators of color should write women/characters of color is part of the problem.

It’s an inevitable protestation brought up every time a comic company announces a new comic about a character that’s not a white guy. Most recently, the internet is all aflutter because Brian Bendis (who happens to be white) is writing Riri Williams, the black teenage girl who’s going to be the new Iron Man. Some parts of the internet want to see a WOC on the book instead. While I can most certainly appreciate the sentiment behind the movement, I find it to be a little more harmful than helpful for two very big reasons.

First, it sends the message that only women should write women or POCs should write POCs. For some books, having creators who have had the same life experiences as the characters is absolutely invaluable. Very few people would disagree that the life experiences of Sana Amanat and G. Willow Wilson do not play a fundamental role in creating Kamala Khan. Ta-Nehisi Coates also brings a unique point of view to his Black Panther book. So yes, there are absolutely some books that require a creative team with that intimate knowledge and strongly benefit from it. Every book doesn’t. In a way, it’s almost insulting to those everyone involved. Writers are supposed to have imaginations. If they only wrote about things they specifically experienced, fiction would be terribly boring.

Second, I truly believe that it actively discourages white male writers from creating characters of color. Bendis and artist Stefano Caselli get credit for creating Riri and hey, this is hardly the first time Bendis has created a young black character to take over the mantel of a white guy… Miles Morales anyone? Objectively speaking, why would someone want to create a diverse character when they know they’re just going to be faced with backlash for wanting to write a character they’ve made? I’m not saying we need to give white guys a gold star for making diverse characters but maybe a little credit or a nod of appreciation wouldn’t hurt.

The solution isn’t to stop asking for more women and minorities to get jobs creating comics (and everything else) we love so much. Instead, the solution is to ask for it more broadly and praise it when it happens. We should celebrate the work of Marjorie Liu on Han Solo and Becky Cloonan on Punisher a hell of a lot more than we do. To me, assignments like those are more groundbreaking than if Liu had been asked to write a Rey book or Cloonan a Wasp book (although I would not object to either of those.) Start bringing up the names of female and POC creators on your wish lists for books like Batman and Wolverine and not just Wonder Woman and Spider-Woman. And yes. I hope that in fifteen years, there’s going to be a young black woman writing the adventures of Riri because the character inspired her as a kid.

But (and this is a big but) let’s not pigeonhole or discourage writers from writing diverse experiences. We should absolutely continue to make our voices be heard in asking for more diversity amongst both the characters and creators. Change happens because people speak up and show that there is a demand for a certain type of story or character. Hold companies accountable but do so broadly and not just in a narrow lane.

8 Characters that Filoni Could Be Teasing for Rebels

rebels logoLate Friday night, Dave Filoni took to Twitter to tease his appearance at Celebration London this summer and to remind us that “there’s always a bit of truth in legends.” Needless to say, fandom handled this precisely as expected. (Thrawn. Everyone’s losing their minds because it might be Thrawn. Or maybe Mara Jade. Nah, probably Thrawn.) Problem is… that’s boring. Why waste these beautiful months of speculation time by assuming a certain Chiss is a given? Here are eight more minor Legends characters who I think have potential to appear in Rebels.

Qwi Xux – She’s the most logical choice, really. With Rogue One rapidly approaching, what better tie in for Rebels than to delve into the building of the first Death Star? Qwi Xux was a very naïve scientist who contributed greatly to its creation. Perhaps the time isn’t right to directly introduce the Death Star but teasing its existence with a secret military science lab would be intriguing to say the least. Using Qwi would give Rebels a chance to further contribute to the idea of Imperials who aren’t bad people but who still support the cause and it would given them an excuse to design a blue bird lady.

Adan Dooku – If they’re looking for a cool Prequel Trilogy connection, reaching back to Count Dooku would be a smart one that could also tie into Alderaan. In the Agent of the Empire comic, Adan Dooku was the Count’s nephew who lived on Alderaan in exile amongst the Organa court. He may not have been the best of people in Legends but the sky is the limit when it comes to canon.

Laryn Kre’fey – Or, as Rogue Podron as renamed him, Cray Cray Kre’fey. It’s only a matter of time before Bothans make their return to prominence in canon. Rebels needs on ranking officer cannon fodder and we should offer up Laryn Kre’fey. He’s arrogant and not too smart. In other words, he’s the perfect character to bring over from Legends just to die because of his own mess up. (He’s a legend because of how much he’s sucked. That’s the joke, guys.)
Continue reading

Just a Legacy to Protect

general leia organaWarning: This column involves spoilers for Star Wars: Bloodline

While aptly named, Star Wars: Bloodline could have just as easily been titled Star Wars: Legacy because when it comes to both of those, Leia Organa has more than enough on her shoulders. One she embraces and one she tries to ignore. After all, if your father was Darth Vader, wouldn’t you try and forget that too? Unfortunately, nothing stays buried. As Leia and Ransolm team up to get to the bottom of the ever-deepening mystery of Rinnrivin’s cartel, Leia is forced to confront the legacies of her fathers whether she wants to or not. Continue reading

Star Wars and the Lightsabers of Storytelling

kylo ren vs reyPerhaps better than any other Star Wars film so far, the lightsaber duels in The Force Awakens tell a story and establish who the characters are in that moment. Only the duel between Luke and Vader in Return of the Jedi even comes close to telling this sort of tale via clashing blades. At first glance, the duel between first Kylo Ren and Finn and then Kylo Ren and Rey is brutal and it doesn’t get any less brutal after repeat viewings. Gone is the elegance of the Prequel Trilogy and with good reason. Kylo Ren doesn’t have the benefit of training with a Jedi Order who has perfected the weapon over millennia and Finn and Rey have never even held a lightsaber before that day. Every swing of a saber has meaning and you don’t need to have seen a single other frame of the film to get what sort of people these three characters are.

Finn has the least training with these sorts of weapons and it shows. He gets in a few good blows but it comes off as more beginner’s luck combined with a Kylo who is far from being at his best. (More on that last part later.) With any sort of sword fighting, a raw beginning can sometimes have more luck than someone who has trained, as they do not react in a way that is expected. In other words, someone who has even basic training will be more likely to attack and block in a way that utilizes more standard stances and responses that will be easier for someone else with even more training to counter. Unfortunately, it’s just not quite enough to help Finn last more than a few minutes despite his determination to help his friend.

Kylo Ren’s responding actions speak louder than any words could. He doesn’t take Finn as a serious threat. A traitor? Sure but he’s clearly familiar enough with Hux’s training program to know that there’s no way FN-2187 knows enough to be more than a nuisance and it shows. He toys with Finn especially at the start, dodging some of Finn’s more wild swings with a distinctive ease and even knocking him to the ground and turning away instead of pressing his advantage and ending it. Turning your back to an enemy is an insult. It’s not until Finn lands a blow that actually hurts him that Kylo steps up his game and decides to end the fight now. This time, he’s not content with disarming Finn and follows it up with an injury that ensures the former stormtrooper will stay down.

Continue reading

Global Game Jam: A Newbie’s POV

GGJ round logo

Making a game in 48 hours seems a massive task, yet it’s something tens of thousands of people do every year at Global Game Jam, an international game jam for developers of any type and skill level to come together and create something new.

Though game jams—gatherings of game devs to create games in short spans of time—can vary in size and the given amount of time, Global Game Jam is the world’s largest physical jam event, this year taking place in 78 countries.

This was my first year doing GGJ, and my first year doing a game jam in general (I have since done one more, where I co-created a card game!), and I was honestly hesitant about the whole thing, because what am I, but a writer? I thought there was nothing I could possibly contribute to such a short game. Turns out narrative can be pretty important to even a game made in 48 hours, who knew?

Okay, yeah. Everyone knew.
Continue reading

Millicent the Cat Has a Secret

Millicent the Cat

Despite dozens of people saying otherwise, the theory that Snoke is actually Darth Plagueis continues to live on even though so many of us wish it would just die. Fear not! I come before you with a new theory… one far younger and more powerful. Per interviews with Andy Serkis, we know that Snoke is actually a brand new character for the Sequel Trilogy. Thus far, most of the Snoke Theories have ignored this.

Star Wars fans were recently alerted to the existence of a new character this weekend… Millicent the Cat. Millicent is a bit of an oddity. Not only does she belong to General Hux but she also has a litter box in Kylo Ren’s torture room. This is no mere kitty. She is Millicent, Daughter of… some other cat. You owe her your allegiance. Therefore, I feel that it is my obligation and my sworn duty to present to you a theory backed by what I consider to be irrefutable evidence: Snoke is actually Millicent the Cat.

Fact: No one has ever seen Millicent and Snoke in the same room.
This is indisputable. Throughout the entire film, Snoke and Millicent the Cat never appear in frame together. Now, of course, one might argue that Millicent never appears in The Force Awakens period but that certainly does not take away from the fact that you never see them together. There’s definitely a reason why.

Fact: We’ve only see Snoke as a hologram.
Millicent is one smart kitty. She knew that she’d never have a chance for galactic domination as herself so she found another plan of action. The giant Snoke hologram on a throne is merely a digital projection created entirely by computers that Millicent is clearly controlling. (Pay no attention to the cat behind the curtain.)

Fact: Cats are assholes. Just like Snoke.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a cat, when given the opportunity, must be in want of being an asshole. What could be more asshole-ish than corrupting a kid to the dark side and encouraging him to kill his father?

Fact: Kylo Ren puts his helmet in Millicent’s litterbox.
Do you think the Master of the Knights of Ren would put his helmet just anywhere? Of course not. Obviously Millicent is no mere cat and Kylo should feel lucky to temporarily place his helmet where Millicent’s *ahem* business also goes. And honestly, do you think that any mere cat, even one owned by General Hux, would have a litterbox in such an important place?  (Although I suppose there’s room for an argument that this is just another way for Millicent-Snoke to exert her dominance over Kylo.)

Fact: Neither Hux nor Kylo appear to have any cat hair on them.
As anyone who owns a pet or has spent any time around hairy mammals can tell you, this is impossible. I don’t care how many lint rollers you have or how religiously you use one, some hair will always escape your efforts. Millicent must have supernatural powers if she’s able to keep her two humans and their very dark clothing from perpetually having orange hair on it.

Fact: Snoke intends to complete Kylo Ren’s training.
This entire line is a bit of misdirection on Millicent’s part. She orders Hux to go collect Ren from the blood and snow heap because she wants her humans in one piece but she also tells them to come to her. She doesn’t want to let them on the secret just yet so this is her keeping up the charade. The hologram can still be used wherever Hux and Ren have to go. She’s clearly very serious about training Ren though. His temper tantrums keep destroying computer consoles and do you know what warm and lovely spots those are for sleeping? Especially in freezing cold space? He must be trained to stop such destruction. Plus, every credit redirected towards repairs is another credit that won’t be buying her treats or catnip which is just rude.

Fact: Supreme Leader is exactly the smug sort of title a cat would come up with.
“Emperor” is just so three decades ago. Also, Supreme Leader is gender neutral and Millicent is all about gender equality. Species equality will be at the top of her list once she achieves galactic domination.

You may laugh but prepare yourself to be astounded and amazed when this theory is revealed as fact in Episode VIII or Episode IX. Or perhaps Pablo’s Twitter. The ramifications of something like this may be too dangerous and blow theatregoers’ minds if seen on the big screen. Just wait.

Hail Supreme Leader Millicent!

Art by coattailsofdoom on tumblr. That is the face of a cat with an evil plan and a mission.

There is Peace: Anakin, Ezra and Emotional Support

Yoda: Inside you much anger, much fear.

Ezra: I just want to protect myself and my friends.

Yoda: And this is why you must be Jedi?

Ezra: Yes, and not just them. Everyone. I’ll protect everyone. Before I met Kanan, I only ever thought of myself, but Kanan and the rest, they don’t think like that. They help people, they give everything away, and I see it. I see how it makes people feel.

Yoda: Feel, yes. How?

Ezra: Alive. They feel alive, like I do now.

Rebels S01E09, Path of the Jedi

Anakin at nine: The golden child of the twin suns, given the choice to leave his hard but love-filled slave life behind to become a champion of the galaxy. He is warm, talented, and compassionate, but fear and anger already have firm footholds in his heart.

Ezra at fourteen: A street rat who will help others subjugated by the Empire, as long as it suits him. Trust doesn’t come easy after years of being alone and he is afraid, though he’ll never admit it. Still, there is goodness deep inside him, and Hera and Kanan encourage the light inside him.

Both of these young boys are taken in by a new family at the start of their respective stories, the promise of becoming a Jedi dangled before them. We know where Anakin’s journey takes him—his fall, his redemption at the end—but we don’t know where Ezra’s heading yet. His future is totally open.

star_wars_rebels_ezra_jedi

Source: Lucasfilm.

Continue reading

The Fan Awakens

tfa-poster-horz-700x394

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by our friend Shannon Donahue, who created our Tosche Station logo!

I’m hooked. I’m a fan. I’m a Star Wars fan. I am a science fiction fan. It’s a big deal you guys.

Confession… I hated science fiction.

Like, I really hated it. It only took one (kind of awful) person I knew as a child to ruin an entire genre for me. I was sure that I could never have anything in common with that person so I sure as hell wasn’t going to like “stupid space stuff”. Nope, not me.

To me, science fiction had nothing at all to do with my life. I couldn’t see how these people in weird costumes or freaky alien makeup had anything to do with me. How on earth could I have anything in common with these people/things? Not only that, but I failed all my science and math classes in school.  My brain just doesn’t think like that. I like music and art and historical costume dramas. I hung on to this as a part of my personality for a really, really long time. It was just a part of who I was. I didn’t like Sci Fi. I was NEVER going to like Sci Fi.

The problem with that was my best friend was a HUGE Star Wars fan. Growing up she had all the books, she had the posters, she had the 3 ft Darth Vader statue that she hand made. She made a fan video complete with costumes. I didn’t get it. I was never going to get it and I didn’t want to. But when you love someone, you pay attention to the things they love. As we grew up and changed I learned a few things along the way. I might not have seen any of the Star Wars movies, but I knew enough about them to understand and play along. I knew the characters. I had a basic understanding of the plots. Slowly I had more and more friends who were HUGE Star Wars fans. In my group of friends I was the weirdo that didn’t like this stuff. I slowly began to realize that maybe, just maybe I was holding on to hating something for no good reason. I found myself painting Star Wars art for friends all the time. It was beginning to feel like every day I was having another conversation about Star Wars.

So, before I attended my first DragonCon four years ago, I sat down and watched the original trilogy. Dude, I didn’t hate it. Okay, I didn’t love it either, but I didn’t hate it. This was groundbreaking psychological shit for me. I felt free somehow. I realized I didn’t have to know space or science stuff. This was mystical, not scientific. I could get on board with this. But I still wasn’t really a fan.

Then I saw the first trailer for The Force Awakens. I thought I was just excited for my friends. Then the second and the third trailer. Oh Boy! As each trailer was released and then finally the movie, I fell more and more in love and here’s why…

Rey

I am so in love with her. Rey is exactly what I want in a female character. She’s soft and she’s hard. She does what has to be done with strength and determination. It seems to me that she has every reason to trust no one, but she flies into a terrifying new direction with new people and places and she does it with such amazing grace. I am in love with the fact that I can turn to my nine year old niece watching the movie and know that she is seeing herself and seeing a woman full of strength and kindness.

Finn

There is so much to love!  He’s funny!  He’s interesting! I love that this movie made you rethink good and bad and black and white. Finn helps us do that. He is a stormtrooper; we are supposed to pull against this guy, but somehow from the very beginning we don’t. We want him to succeed. We want him to find himself away from The First Order. The moment that Poe renames him is brilliant to me. I love that Finn is scared and silly and that he has what seems to be a limitless kindness.

Kylo Ren

Adam Driver does something with his presence and his voice that is both completely and totally terrifying and also completely vulnerable and broken. We know nothing about his story except who his parents are. That revelation breaks us. It breaks us for Han and Leia, but also for Kylo. What sort of hurt, what sort of lies must he be holding on to for him to turn so dark when he came from such love? This doesn’t feel forced or contrived to me but very, very real. Our parents are a part of who we are, but more than that our perception of our parents is a part of who we are. I still find myself wondering about Kylo Ren and who he must think his parents are if he feels he must turn from them so violently.

Family

I was going to write about Han and Leia and what I loved about them. I was going to write about Luke. But what I loved about them and every character in this movie is this: it’s a movie about family, not just the family of your birth but the family of your choice. You can choose to walk away from the family of your birth. You can choose to find a new family with your friends. I felt this so strongly throughout the movie. Obviously the other movies have been about family, but that always felt like it was just the Skywalker family.

I connected so strongly with this movie because I felt the bonds of family in almost every scene. The family that is forged between lifelong friends like Han and Chewie. The family that can be instantly created between new friends as we see with Finn and Poe and then again with Finn and Rey. Our families, no matter how they are created, are our strength and our weakness.

The Look

I loved the look of the movie. I’m a visual person and this kind of stuff is important to me.  

  • BB8 is not only the most charming thing I’ve ever seen outside of a Pixar film, it’s also genius in its simplicity. It’s nothing but circles and a few rectangles and somehow it emotes better than most humans I know.
  • Maz Kanata’s Palace is another example of the look that I love. Flying into that land and walking up to the front doors felt real and magical. Then you find yourself in a dive bar! I loved it. Lupita Nyong’o was perfection as Maz. I want to sit and have shots with her, I want her to look into my eyes and see more than I see. I want her to teach classes at my local metaphysical book store.
  • The dreaded catwalk scene with Kylo and Han is pure lighting genius.
  • The last 5 minutes of the movie on Skellig Michael. Your heart is in your throat, your eyes are burning with hope and the unbelievable beauty of that place. Then your eyes are burning because of the unbelievable acting from Daisy Ridley and especially Mark Hamill.

I could never put my finger on what didn’t capture my interest in the original trilogy. It took this movie to show me. Just as a Jedi must not deal in absolutes, why must these movies? The Jedi and the Rebellion are good and everyone else is bad. The universe that has been expanded by The Force Awakens feels more real to me because there are no absolutes. A stormtrooper can be the hero. The villain can be a Skywalker/Solo. There is Darkness in the Light. There is light in the darkness. This movie perfectly captured that to me and I hope that it is indicative of how the rest of these movies will go.

What I learned about Star Wars and about science fiction is this: it isn’t necessarily about space. It isn’t necessarily about war. It isn’t about science and it doesn’t feel like fiction. These stories are about people dealing with life. Life with some crazy shit going down. Just like my life, minus the hyperdrive.

** edited to leave out the three pages of POE IS HOT! SNAP IS THE BEST! X-WINGS, YAY!