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    The Mommy Gamers Play Unravel

    THeMommyGamersUnravel

    Our most recent Twitch stream featured a very frustrated Marcia as she struggled to complete Unravel. The Mommy Gamers community provided some great company and assistance as she guided Yarny, an aptly named red yarn doll, through this emotional and heartwarming story. This playlist features each level of  this frustrating, yet visually stunning puzzle platformer from developer Coldwood Interactive and publisher Electronic Arts.

     

     

    While I don’t regret the time I spent playing Unravel, I personally had considerable trouble with most of the levels. There were parts of the game where I got stuck pretty badly, and for me that took a lot of enjoyment away from my experience. If you are looking for a beautiful and challenging game, Unravel will definitely string you along in that aspect.

    For more future adventures in gaming, make sure to follow The Mommy Gamers on Twitch here: twitch.tv/themommygamers  You can set it up to notify you when we go live so that you never miss out on any of the fun. We are also housing some of these videos on our YouTube channel along with our library of book reviews, podcast episodes, unboxings, and other entertaining random content. We’d love it if you’d subscribe to our channel! youtube.com/user/TheMommyGamers

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    Women and the Future of Gaming

    ss2

    Back in the ’90s, I was a young woman working in the gaming industry – specifically, I was online editor for Electronic Gaming Monthly and a liaison to Gamespot. I faced challenges, of course, but it was fun work. I deeply respected the people (still do) and loved the environment. I truly believed that my bosses weren’t utilizing me to my full potential, but I felt like a bit of a pioneer because I was the first woman on the editorial staff (although we had great female copy editors, graphic artists, and support staff). Even if I only changed a few attitudes, and I hope I did, it was enough for me.

    I was full of optimism as an employee of Nuke.com, then EGM. I hoped, as I played networked Duke Nukem 3D with work friends after hours, for games that didn’t so obviously exclude my point of view. I hoped my supervisor, who apologized for moving me to EGM work because “I know you don’t like games, Helen,” would see how dedicated I was to the cause. I hoped, when I was moved to EGM, that my work – including a much-sought-after interview with Tom Clancy (I made the first media request Red Storm Entertainment ever got) and a feature on game controllers for an EGM annual – would lead my bosses to realize I could be an asset. I hoped I was involved in an industry that was going places – one that defined the future and could show us what was possible in terms of technology, in terms of human development, and in terms of storytelling.

    At this point in time, my involvement with EGM was more like a novelty than anything else. I was insulated in many ways, and the Internet was new. I never got the hate the women in the industry get now. I didn’t receive one single rape or death threat, even though I posted news stories on Gamespot daily. In associating with me, people were overly polite or perhaps unwittingly exclusionary, but no one attacked me. I never had to deal with the “fake geek girl” assumption. At least, not to my face. I’m fairly certain the higher-ups didn’t know what exactly to do with me, and my prospects probably weren’t all that good in the end. Still, I felt comfortable at EGM.

    Ultimately, my career hopes were not realized. I got laid off in late 1997 and moved on, with all my stories about being a girl at a gaming magazine untold. Even then, I still felt optimistic as an industry-watcher when I saw all these smart, savvy women come in to start making games, reporting on games, becoming names in the industry in the way I never did. Progress, I thought. Maybe I’m not really part of it, but it’s awesome.

    I moved on to bigger and better things, but I never forgot my roots. I stayed away from the industry until 2009, when Ziff-Davis, Inc. stopped publishing EGM. This freed me. Within two months, I was writing about games again. For several years after that, I dreamed about getting back into the industry in some more important capacity. I helped with some gaming journalism start-ups in my spare time, wrote reviews and interviews and features of the type I was not able to do at EGM, developed a gaming news-gathering operation, helped produce game preview videos. Et cetera. It felt good to be back.

    However, I’ve discovered something interesting. Over the past year, thanks to a seemingly constant glut of articles alleging harassment, threats, name-calling, and general bad behavior involving the male detractors of women in the industry – along with news of women leaving toxic male-driven gaming environments and my own personal experiences interacting with gamers online – I’ve changed my mind. I don’t want a larger part in the gaming industry any longer.

    If you’ve been hiding under a rock these past few weeks you may have missed all the news about Zoe Quinn. She’s the female developer who has been the target of horrible personal attacks since an ex implied she might have slept with a games journalist who never actually reviewed her game Depression Quest (see image above). Then there’s the controversy surrounding the treatment of feminist game critic Anita Sarkeesian of “Tropes vs. Women,” who felt unsafe enough to leave her home after a series of Twitter threats. I’ll refrain from regurgitating all the details of these stories; suffice it to say, they’re ugly, they’re messy, they’re complicated and I just don’t have the energy. But boiled down, it’s pretty simple: gamer boys are being assholes. They’re personally attacking women in disgusting, unacceptable ways. Whatever the truth about Quinn’s personal and private relationships, she doesn’t deserve this level of vitriol. I don’t necessarily agree with Sarkeesian’s critiques or methods, but she doesn’t deserve it either.

    We all know the Internet can be creepy and hateful. But lately, in the gaming area, it’s become more than that. It’s become soul-destroying for women. We’re talking invasions of privacy and threats of violence using the language of rape.  We’re talking misogyny of the highest order. We’re talking about the fact that every time I read about harassment of women in the industry, my hope dies a little more. Sarkeesian and Quinn are trying to improve things in their own ways, yet the gamers attacking them are treating them like enemies that don’t deserve the lowliest of human rights. This isn’t the gaming industry I ever wanted to see. I used to think this would pass. Now I’m not sure we can fix it.

    I imagine there are other women who feel like me. Women who wish to break into the industry, or do an indie project, or just be more visible in the games that they play. They feel like they can’t, because Zoe Quinn isn’t an aberration, unfortunately. She’s a warning. Message received, immature gaming guys of the Internet. You’re going to keep battering us till we give, and some of us will be beaten. And the gaming industry will suffer for it. Already has, probably – there’s likely no way of knowing how many women have been turned off by incidents like these, whether high-profile or low-level. There’s no way of calculating the amount of ideas, plans, innovations, and contributions we’ve lost as a result. I can’t blame women for quitting the fight under these conditions.

    I guess, when I was a gamer girl in the 1990s, I didn’t realize that some of the changes I’d see in my lifetime would take us backward instead of forward. I didn’t anticipate that I’d feel less safe in a gaming environment in 2014 than in 1997. My hope for women in the industry is at a very low ebb, these days.

    But, more importantly, I see that gaming isn’t the future I imagined. Instead of opening up our worlds to new vistas and explorations, the public face of gaming right now defines all those things we ought to have left in the past.

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    Movie Review: The Nut Job

    nut-jobI would first like to say I’m not normally a movie critic, I’m just a daddy that has a young son. I base my recommendations off  what my son enjoys, and if I can enjoy the movie as well. That being said lets get down to what the movie is described as:

    A comedy in fictional Oakton that follows the story of Surly (voiced by Will Arnett), a mischievous squirrel, and his rat friend Buddy, who plan a elaborate scheme of amazing proportions to rob a nut store  and unknowingly find themselves enter-twined in a much more complicated plot.

    the-nut-job-movie-photo-11-thumb-600x337-45170I describe the film as a mediocre animated story about a anti-hero squirrel and his rat companion as they strive at a chance at redemption. The movie relies mostly on slap stick comedy and fart jokes to illicit laughter. Normally this is funny to my five year old… but my son laughed a total of four times. He laughs more at a Phineas and Ferb episode in 30  minutes than he in this 90 minute snooze-fest.

    The voice acting is decent at times and then in other points it is as if the voice just doesn’t match the facial reactions. The only redeeming points in the film happen five minutes before the end of the movie, which I won’t spoil for those intent on watching it. I however would like to say this, do yourself a favor  and spend your money elsewhere.

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    Kids, Movies, Rants
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    After watching “Morning Joe” I’m switching to decaf…

    morning-joe-poster

    After watching a clip from MSNBC’s Morning Joe. (Thanks to the guys at Kotaku“)  I was a little ticked off. Actually I was furious. But before I go off on my rant, here is what  Joe Scarborough said about this young generation…

    [quote] Men in their twenties, who unfortunately I think are weak, and stay at home, and play videogames and are weak, weak, weak and un-marriable! They’re just…there are no good men out there! Other than my son and his friends.[/quote]

    He was referring to the opinion of the apparent shifting of gender roles and women breadwinners. And obviously trying to help his son and his friends get noticed by the ladies. (Thanks for the plug, “Dad”.)

    So let me talk to Mr. Scarborough directly… I know many men out there that are in their twenties that have more physical strength and mental fortitude in their little pinky than you have in your whole body. I of course am talking about the men that protect and serve their country in the armed forces … and most of them enjoy video games. (I know that the women do the same thing in our military and are just as important, but since his statement was about men and not ladies I’m trying to make a point that there are more than just a handful of good men out there)

    I also have a neighbor who is in his early twenties. He works a full time job, goes to college making amazing grades. He also loves to play video games and treats his lady with love and a respect that all women deserve. So where do these people fall in your stereotype?

    Maybe you are just generalizing gamers… not the generation of twenty-somethings. Maybe you didn’t say it, but your tone was almost like you’re implying that anyone that plays video games is weak. Well get your butt out in the real world Joe… you obviously have let fame go to your head.  We are not shut-in’s living in our mom’s and dad’s basements. The gamers I know personally are intelligent passionate and hard working members of society. They are doctors and nurses, coal miners and farmers. True salt of the earth people. I would also like to point out that the average gamer is 36 years old Joe… that’s right thirty six.  Sure, maybe the young men that you see on a day to day basis are weak. But wait a second… How many twenty year olds do you hang out with or know other than your son and his friends and the interns that bring your coffee to you? Don’t try and pigeonhole gamers in a decades old stereotype. Gamers cannot be defined by any other way than their love of games.

    I guess what it all boils down to is something more sad than anything. I imagine it must be hard for you… working in your air conditioned TV studio. I guess working for the media, you really don’t get out much hence the white pasty skin that has to be covered up with a boatload of makeup. You’re fed lines on a teleprompter. So you’re basically told what to say, how to say it… and when to say it. You’re just a puppet on a string for a right wing agenda. Not that I’m saying that is a bad thing… it must be easy for you to accept your fate for the ability to continue to be in the limelight after your career in politics. You did leave politics to help raise your children, right? It’s almost like your teaching your son that mocking something you don’t know anything about makes you look better. Kinda like a bully.

    And we all know what happens to bullies… they always fall from their pedestal.

     

    [box type=”info”] Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy, opinion or position of The Mommy Gamers.[/box]

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    How Store-Bought Costumes Ruined Halloween For Me

    femaleheroes

    I used to love Halloween. From childhood into the late 1990s, I used to wear costumes every October and then wonder why we couldn’t do it every day. I mean, wouldn’t any given Monday just be better if I could wear my Supergirl costume on the “el” as I commuted to work?

    My disillusionment with this most wonderful holiday of the year – I mean, come on, no family obligations, just dressing up as someone else and getting candy, what’s the downside? – began about the time I started looking for a Hogwarts costume one year. I couldn’t find a nice long Gryffindor robe that would make me look like a student at Harry Potter’s school. Ah, but I could find a Sexy Gryffindor Robe, so if I wanted to I could both freeze in the Chicago night and look like the Harlot of Hogsmeade instead. Whee.

    A year or two later, my well-meaning husband actually went to Target and picked out a Halloween costume for me – a Sexy Soccer Player outfit. See, being a kick-ass female footballer isn’t sexy enough in itself. I have to be pink and black, wearing a mini-skirt and carrying a matching ball-shaped clutch purse with thigh-high socks on. I’m sure that’s really helpful out on the pitch. Actually, I’m amusing myself imagining a chick in spiked heels tripping across the grass trying not to break a nail while Abby Wambach and Megan Rapinoe fly past on their way to possess a not-pink ball before it gets to Hope Solo.

    If only I was a cosplayer – but my skill with needle and thread and makeup is pretty negligible. If I could sew (or afford to buy quality handcrafted costumes made by actual seamstresses), I wouldn’t be at the mercy of costume makers who think that Every Single Costume Available for Women must be cheaply made, super-short, frilly, lacy, sequined, patent leathery or otherwise girly, feminine and skimpy.

    Leaving aside questions of sexualization, and how the ubiquity of such costumes might be internalized within the psyche of young girls, I just want to say that I like pink and glitter and tutus as much as the next woman who played with Barbie dolls all throughout her youth. I’m not the type to slut-shame. I get that this is what many women want – and it’s not at all wrong for women to want to look beautiful and desirable. I get that this is how costume companies make money. I’m not going to delve into the societal issues this brings up about women’s self-esteem and images in the media and all that important stuff. But is it wrong to want some choice here?

    When it comes to Halloween, donning a costume to look and act like someone else, I don’t want my only options to be Whore In a Ghostbusters Outfit, Whore from Gotham, Whore With Tongue from the VMAs, Whore Dressed in A Nurse’s Outfit, or Whore Garbed Like Food With Strategically-Placed Bits (Get It? Get It?!). Ultimately it’s no choice at all, if I’m only being asked to choose between 31 flavors of Woman Dressed As Someone Else’s Sex Fantasy.

    ninjaturtleAnd then there’s the issue of WHOM these 31 flavors represent. Sure, we girls get to co-opt male superhero roles by dressing up as Iron Man or Captain America (only sexier! With glitter and ruffles!). But my main problem with gender-bending costumes is that I wish there were more famous, well-written (and better-represented on the silver screen) female superheroes so that girls wouldn’t feel the need to become their male counterparts. I mean, I loved Spider-Woman and Batgirl and Supergirl and Wonder Woman and Laurel Kent (was rather devastated when she turned Manhunter) as a girl. But it’s way more likely for you to see a girl in a Spider-Man suit at any given Halloween gathering. I’d like to see more actual kick-ass females in the mix.

    Of course, we as women all want to look good. But I don’t think I’m the only one who finds store-bought costumes to be degrading, impractical and unimaginative. All I want is the option to not look like bait for rapey assholes, no matter my age.

    My beef with all these sexualized costumes has to do with the fact that I like dressing up as someone else to channel their strength, their abilities, their experiences. It’s fun, to put yourself in someone else’s shoes – to pretend. It’s just that not all of my dressing-up fantasies involve putting out for someone. Sometimes, I want to actually look and feel like an interesting, powerful woman, one who is interesting and powerful regardless of how traditionally “sexy” she may or may not be. The lack of options here is discouraging at best, harmful and misogynistic at worst. It is what has made Halloween lost some its wonder and excitement for me.

    I am still going to sneak some of my son’s candy, though. Just sayin’.

     

    [box type=”info”] Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy, opinion or position of The Mommy Gamers.[/box]

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    Geekery, Mommies, Rants
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