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    The Bully’s Bully: Book One

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    As husband to a dedicated wife gamer and father to two gaming daughters (aged 9 and 14), I find myself in a relatively rare role. My wife, Brandee, is part of a well-known all-female group called the PMS Clan, and as a gamer myself, we understand the benefits gaming offers and have championed our daughters’ interests in the same hobby.

    ffa31a2f4a915614274f9b5006d8c118_large As a male in an all-female household, however, there are challenges, of course, some of which center on gaming. One of my key challenges is dealing with bullying in gaming, which has run rampant since the last generation of consoles, when online multiplayer became widespread. Unfortunately, games such as Call of Duty, Gears of War, and Halo—all games my enthusiast wife enjoys immensely—are dominated by insecure fellow gamers who use their headsets and mics to abuse in the most extreme and hurtful ways: racial-, sexual-, and gender-specific insults and are flung around mindlessly, quite literally during almost every gameplay session. It’s a frustrating issue that won’t go away.

    So, even though these games promote multiplayer approaches, we usually opt for local sessions so our daughters can focus on gaming at its most fun—as a collaborative, joyful experience that introduces them to new worlds. Some of those worlds are undoubtedly violent, but we’ve helped our daughters distinguish fictional violence from real-world conflicts, and they understand that they are merely “playing.” Indeed, while my daughters are avid gamers, Brandee (aka PMS Dangerdoll) and I refuse our daughters access to online gaming unless the environment is strictly controlled, in which they play with friends we’ve come to trust and who amplify the experience into one productively competitive or cooperative.

    Communication with mature gamers is part of the fun of gaming nowadays, and while we could remove the headset altogether or mute it, we shouldn’t have to, as many games now rely on strategic communication.

    Unfortunately, we have little control over real-life bullies. Phoenix, my youngest daughter, was victim to two bullies in as many years, 0b9371e9846f4e0f5a86b84d8181b334_largeand she’s still in elementary school. Although Brandee and I handled these situations as civilly as we could, we were of course very upset. Luckily, the situation with the first bully, a girl, was handled amicably. We learned that the second bully, a boy, caused a far more hostile situation for Phoenix. Because he had threatened and intimated her by ensuring her that he’d make her life worse if she told, coaxing the situation from our youngest was an emotional ordeal.

    Our initial reaction was to approach the bully ourselves. But, we knew we couldn’t do that. So, when we calmed down and thought about ways to deal with the situation, this Kickstarter project, a graphic novel entitled The Bully’s Bully, came to be.

    The project is also a webcomic that began in January of 2013 and is released online for free every Monday and Wednesday. The story centers on a girl who can literally feel the agony, desperation, and pain that real-life bullies cause others. As an empathic soul, the child decides to do something about the problem. I won’t give away anymore of the narrative, as it has twists and turns and a few surprises I’d like readers to discover on their own.

    Because we are all parents, and because we will likely have to deal with bullying in some context during our children’s lives, I hope you’ll find it worthy to donate to the vision of The Bully’s Bully to help me compile the comics into a paper-bound book. This story has the potential to help children and parents alike and to approach this wearying subject in positive, original, and productive ways.

    *To support this Kickstarter visit:
    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1531461998/the-bullys-bully-a-graphic-novel

     

    Finally, Gaming for Austenites: Ever, Jane

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    To date, the traditional gaming industry hasn’t done a fantastic job of gearing games to women, and there’s still plenty of unwelcome harassment for those of us who enter virtual online worlds and reveal that we don’t have penises. There are days when I’m not sure I can call myself a “gamer,” because I’m not a member of the boys’ club that dominates gaming, and because I am not interested in venturing into the world of multiplayer as it stands today.

    But how do you create a game that’s fun for women without being patronizing? Well, there’s a Kickstarter project out there that has my inner girly girl squeeing in delight. The possibility of entering an immersive online universe designed with people like me in mind is an awesome one. Enter Ever, Jane: The Virtual World of Jane Austen.

    There have been other times when my fondness for Jane Austen has found vent in geeky media, such as the time our heroes in British scifi TV’s “Red Dwarf” took their destructive tendencies to Jane Austen World, or that series of Austen/supernatural creature mashups by Quirk Books (my favorite was Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, for its steampunk vibe). But this! A role-playing MMO with elements of strategy, featuring balls and Regency clothing and manners and gossip and dancing mini-games? I think I’m in love.

    So, I’m going to expound on Jane Austen for a moment, because I think she’s a bit misunderstood by the masses. We tend to view her as a period romance writer, who is famous because she happened to create interesting people in her comedies of manners. But that isn’t at all what she’s about. I don’t like romance as a genre, but I do read and re-read Austen and all her imitators hoping for someone who can replicate not the sentimentality (which is easy and can be done by any monkey pounding away on a typewriter), but Austen’s wit and characterization. Actually, Jane Austen’s books are all about strategy. The maneuvering involved in surviving Regency society with your reputation, your status, your sanity, your family, and your temper intact, all while trying to get the guy, is what Austen’s books truly excel at portraying. And this type of strategy is extremely conducive to intricate and unflinching gameplay. I’m not the only one who thinks so.

    This is why Ever, Jane, the brainchild of Judy Tyrer and 3 Turn Productions, is a brilliant idea. She’s taking the aspects that really define the best parts of Austen, and turning them into a community-building MMORPG that’s not a stretch at all.

    Ever, Jane is designed to help players create stories that aren’t all about killing bad guys. It takes place in a 3D village complete with balls, dinner parties, and travel. Instead of stats like Dexterity and Strength, the game relies on personality traits seen in Jane Austen heroines such as Happiness and Duty. You must understand the complexities of status and how that effects the way you treat people both above and below your station in life, and you’ve got to know how to use this knowledge gain points in society. Gossip is used as a weapon, issuing invitations is the action of choice, and balls are the place where things happen. How others react to you figures prominently in Tyrer’s vision of the finished title.

    This is an ambitious project, asking for at least $100,000 in funding. At press time, there were almost 400 backers. On the Kickstarter page, you can check out a video preview, play with a prototype and view details of Ever, Jane’s gameplay and goals. I’ve funded it, and I’m waiting with bated breath for the final product, due early 2016.

    Neverending Nightmares Kickstarter Project

    Neverending Nightmares

    What does it look like when you take your greatest fears and turn them into reality? Neverending Nightmares. Matt Gilgenbach has taken his real life battles with depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder and turned them into a psychological horror game. A game that IGN claimed was one of the top PAX indie games to check out, and a game that needs a little more help from you!

    We couldn’t possibly explain the game nearly as well as Matt Gilgenbach, so we’ll just post this video and let him do the talking.


    Here’s the game trailer:


    The art in Neverending Nightmares is influenced by the famous illustrator Edward Gorey.

    You can check out the Kickstarter project by clicking here.

    With only two days left and nearly $27,000 ten hours and less than $5,000 to reach their goal, they need all the social media reach we can offer them. So please help out by sharing the link to the Kickstarter, and by supporting their project if you are able. Thank you, and make sure to tell them The Mommy Gamers sent you!

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