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Podcast Update

Unlike Regina, I am not a keeper. I'm probably the opposite. Efficient, pratical... very Spock like.

This doesn't mean change is easier for me. I do have a lot of passion so the sting of a bandaid is not different.

The podcast is really only a small part of GameOnGirl. What I enjoy the most is representing GameOnGirl, geeks, and gamers at cons, speaking about the issues in the community, and meeting and learning from people. The goal is to create a better community for everyone and I enjoy doing that.

GameOnGirl is not my job even though I spend about 20 hours a week on it. Many of you know how difficult it is to find a business partner and the amount of work it takes to put out weekly content. I'm not going to continue the podcast. It's just too much work to do alone. As we mentioned, though, the blog is going to get more content covering more topics of interest. 

We appreciate our loyal listeners and will miss talking to you every week. We're not disappearing, just evolving. We will still be representing at cons. I'll be attending my first Anime con in March here in North Carolina and I plan to dress up!


Defending the Finches & Wonder Woman #36

"Wonder Woman", The New 52!, Issue 36, "War-Torn"Right after Thanksgiving, Molly Jane Kremer reposted an article on TheMarySue (originally posted on DoomRocket) entitled “The New Creative Team on New 52 Wonder Woman Turns the Comic into an Utter (Sexist) Disappointment” (Thursday, November 27, 2014). Since I didn’t consider issue 36, “War Torn,” to be sexist, I thought the creative work deserved some defending and to call out some of Kremer’s finger wagging by applying my Voldemort Axioms.

Brian Azzarello writes a gripping story in The New 52! "Wonder Woman," issues 1 to 35, which are beautifully drawn by Cliff Chiang (and other artists†). The new creative team includes a freshman writer Meredith Finch and her husband, David Finch, as the artist. The story didn’t peak my interest, but I do remember admiring David’s art work and the coloring by Sonia Oback. In Kremer’s article she points to comments made by the Finches as “ignorant,” Meredith’s “moody” story, and the “lechery” in David’s drawings among the book’s flagrant sexist sins. But Kremer’s critique makes me wonder if she’s just looking for someone to browbeat.

"Wonder Woman", The New 52!, Issue 36, "War-Torn"

Ignorant & Lecherous

Noting a couple of quotes from the CBR interview with the Finches, Kremer says things didn't look good for this new team from the beginning. From David Finch she quotes,

“… I’m really very visually attracted to Wonder Woman. She just looks great on the page.”

Out of context, this might sound creepy, but David is an artist and that’s the context in which he’s speaking. As a creative person, I would think Kremer could identify with the language and perceptions of a creative mind. Creators love to have great subject material and Wonder Woman is that for David. It's like if you were given the option to write a Wonder Woman story or a story about a dog named Spot.

Kremer links to the full interview but makes no further explanation as to why this quote is a gaffe on David's part. She simply leads the audience to believe he is some sort of lech.

Throughout the CBR interview with the Finches, there is a pattern in the way they refer to Wonder Woman:

  • “a person”
  • “a human being”
  • “a quintessential superhero”
  • “integrity”
  • “has a lot of character”
  • “courage of her convictions”
  • “willing to take a flying leap”
  • “a female icon”
  • “a beautiful, strong character”

They admire and respect her. These are not the perspectives you’d hear from sexists. When people ask, “How do you write a female protagonist?” we answer, “like a human being.” The Finches goal is to do this and yet Kremer calls them sexist.

Shower Scene

"Wonder Woman", The New 52!, Issue 36, "War-Torn"

The first five pages of issue 36 are a transition from Azzarello and Chiang’s storyline (issues 1 to 35) to the Finches’. Kremer, a long time comic reader, doesn’t make the connection or appreciate the poetry, describing the shower scene as “inexplicable” and “lecherous.” Visually, there could not be a more tasteful shower scene that is obviously not about Wonder Woman being naked but being covered in blood from the literal blood bath of the god-level battles she lived through in Azzarello and Chiang’s series.

Petulant Teenager

To Kremer, David Finch draws Diana like a “petulant teenager.” That’s subjective and Kremer has a valid right to it but David doesn't single Wonder Woman out. All the (unmasked) heroes are drawn the same. If you compare Wonder Woman to Superman and Aquaman they all have the same expression. The guys look like brooding, Calvin Klein teen models. This is called style, not sexism, and is consistent throughout the issue.

"Wonder Woman", The New 52!, Issue 36, "War-Torn"

Help from the Justice League

Kremer is correct that no one from the Justice League swoops in to assist Wonder Woman in the Azzarello and Chiang story line, but Wonder Woman rarely fights alone either. From the beginning of the A & C series, one or more Olympian gods fight beside Diana and even rescue her‡. It's impossible to tell how involved the Justice League will be in the Finches' series and it could be a valid issue but, Wonder Woman does seem to have her own set of convictions in the Meredith Finch plot.

"Wonder Woman", The New 52!, Issue 30, "Throne to the Wolves"

On the surface, Diana’s agency in the A & C series is to rescue an innocent child, Zeke, and come into her own as queen of the Amazons by allowing men (Zeke) on Paradise Island. These are all symbols of her convictions: justice, defense of the innocent, and equality (feminism). This theme is carried over by Meredith Finch and is represented by the teddy bear.

"Wonder Woman", The New 52!, Issue 36, "War-Torn"

The Teddy Bear Explanation

"Wonder Woman", The New 52!, Issue 36, "War-Torn"On the plane with Aquaman, Diana is holding a teddy bear (issue 36, page 17), which Kremer calls the further “infantilization” of Wonder Woman and that there is no discernable explanation of where the teddy bear came from and why Diana has it.

The teddy bear appears on page two in the clutches of a child that’s about to drown and on page ten where Diana is viewing the aftermath of the flood. After Diana goes to Thailand to investigate the flood, the conclusion would be that she found the child’s teddy bear there.

The teddy bear is a symbol of Wonder Woman’s convictions. She fought petulant and demented gods in the A & C series to defend the innocent and for the rights of the disenfranchised. This is Diana’s human side and what makes her exceptional among the heroes; she sees the victims and is angry for them (issue 36, page 7). She is their champion.

Mean Girls

Yes, Meredith Finch is a new writer in the industry. And… she’s a woman! SUPPORT HER! Give her some constructive feedback. She’s made it into the industry and we need her there.

If you can’t tell, Kremer’s article really got under my skin. It was unjust and malicious and there’s no real basis for it. Each of her issues are so easily refutable you have to wonder if there is some other agenda involved. To stamp the Finches’ with a scarlet ‘S’ Kremer did a sloppy review where she was primed to be offended.

I'll Give You A Topic

If Wonder Woman is drawn with large breasts, does that make the artist sexist? Only if the artist is a man? What if the man is a feminist?

Do large breasts appeal to the gay female gaze? Only if they're drawn by a woman? What if the female artist is not a feminist? or gay?


†Other artists include Tony Akins, Kano, Dan Green, Gordan Sudžuka, Amilcar Pinna, Jose Marzán, Jr., Matthew Wilson

‡Just to name a few issues, "Wonder Woman", The New 52!:
#5, 6: In London, WW colludes with Hermes and Lennox to lock away Hera.
#8: WW needs Hermes to get her into the Underworld where he helps her defeat an army of undead souls.
#10: Strife rescues WW in the Underworld when Hades tries to consume her.
#11: The Scooby team is solidifying as Hermes, Lennox, and Zola join WW in their first encounter with Apollo and Artemis.
#12: The Scooby team fights again in Olympus where Hermes gives WW the ability to fly so she can save Zola.
#18: WW can't match the speed of Hermes in battle. Orion swoops in and grabs WW out of Hermes' clutches to escape.
#21: The Scooby gang now includes WW, Lennox, Hera, Zola, and Orion in their first encounter with The First Born and they all summarily get their butts kicked.
#23: War, with an army of soldiers-of-the-ages, joins WW to battle The First Born.
#26: In Chernobyl, WW, Hermes, Orion and Siracca fight Cassandra's army where Siracca lands the final blow.
#28: Moon, Hermes, and WW face Cassandra's army again.
#29: The First Born appears, subdues Hermes and Dio, and is on the verge of killing Moon and WW until Hera stops him.
The final battle spans the last 3 - 4 issues where everyone has a role to play.


Change is Good, Change is Hard

I'm a keeper. 

I don't mean in the sense of the Harry Potter, magical flying broom game. (But that would be seriously cool!)

I keep things. Things that are generally meaningless to other people. For example, I have carried a nail in my makeup bag since I was in college. My friend, Gretchen, gave it to me to remember her by when we were on a field trip in Hawaii. I cannot, for the life of me, remember her last name but I kept the nail and remember the look of manic joy on her face when she pressed it into my hand and told me to keep it as a memento of her. 

The problem with being a keeper is it sometimes makes change really difficult. It's easy to hold on to things, even after your time with them is long past. My sock drawer can tell that story better than I can since it is full of mismatched socks that I can't quite let go of just in case I might find their mates. 

So letting go of the podcast, stepping away from one of the greatest creative endeavors in my life, has been terribly difficult for me to do. It's been a week since we decided and recorded Episode 145, and I am still in many ways mourning it.

There was no long-term plan here; the decision to stop producing episodes was quick and final, very much the speedy pulling off of a band-aid. 

But the feeling of needing to let go, of needing to refocus has been present for awhile now. Writing, apparently, is something that must consume a large chunk of my time. If I have the reason for distraction, the "oh, let me do this for Game on Girl first" state of mind, I don't ever get focused to putting words to the page. 

I have lots of natural talents and I tend to be good at the things I put my mind to and writing has been the one thing in my life I have always wanted to be the best at.

I have always wanted to write and publish a book. The time to do that has come. I need to put fingers to the keyboard, instead of voice to recording, and make it happen. 

I am looking forward to seeing where this part of my journey takes me, and seeing how Game on Girl grows and changes along with it, because even though it is often hard, change is the only constant in life. 


Episode 145 - Changes

Hello Everyone, 

This week, Rhonda and I discuss some important changes that are happening around these parts. I will write more about it later in the week but for now, please listen to the episode and leave your comments here. 

You can find us on facebookgoogle+tumblr, and twitter.  If you haven't done so already, please consider leaving us a rating and/or review on iTunes

Until next time, game on!
Regina & Rhonda

Episode 145


My 2014 Game of the Year: Shovel Knight

2014 has been a relatively good year in terms of gaming for me. I did pick up a few releases that came out this year — I typically pick things up later on, as they tend to be a lot cheaper  and one of those was Yacht Club Games' wondrous Shovel Knight.

If my euphoric adjective wasn't indication enough, I loved this game, and I'd like to take some time to share why.

Shovel Knight does three things beautifully: the game looks, sounds and plays like the classic NES games of yore, but subtly is a vast improvement on many of those titles; the game's plot subverts the trope of a damsel in distress in a rather remarkable way; and the gameplay treads the perfect degree of challenge that rarely frustrates. Let's break that down.

Shovel Knight, as evidenced by the screenshot above, mimics the style of the glory days of the NES. Pixels rule the day visually, with amazing animation and charming designs pouring over the eyes. Jake "virt" Kaufman (frequent Wayforward musician) and Manami Matsumae (composer of the original Mega Man) combine their talents to create one of the most amazing tributes to the sounds of the 80s video game. And Yacht Club borrowed elements from several games of that era, namely Ducktales' nifty pogo mechanic, to power the gameplay to glorious effect. This is a labor of love, and every minute detail drips with that love.

Secondly, Shovel Knight twists the oft-used damsel motif into something novel. USGamer's Kat Bailey noticed this herself in her article on the game's plot (massive spoilers at the link!), and in her discussion with Yacht Club Games' David D'Angelo, the developer confirmed that the company decided to avoid lumping the female lead, Shield Knight, into the same kind of trope as "Roll, Peach, Zelda, and other Damsel in Distress models from the NES era."

Moving away from that notion, the team

"started discussing how we could modernize and improve the model for today. We saw the idea of seeking out a loved one a worthwhile theme, but we felt in doing so, we needed to make Shield Knight just as strong a hero as Shovel Knight. In that way, we felt the connection between the player and Shield Knight would be even more powerful, as Shield Knight wouldn't be just an object—Shield Knight would be as meaningful as a loved one."

The beautiful thing about this statement is that they succeeded in that mission. Shield Knight is a central narrative tool — the means for Shovel Knight's motivation to quest — but there's an actual relationship between the two that the game expertly builds as you progress through the game, culminating in the game's final moments. I won't reveal that to you here, as I think experiencing it yourself is more worthwhile. But the careful, thoughtful crafting of the game's narrative focus turned the game away from "yet another princess to rescue" story into one that shows the genuine force of a strong, equal relationship.

The last reason I adored Shovel Knight was that it was perfectly paced. The game starts you off with a solid tutorial level, and provides plenty of incentives to make the game easier or harder for the player. Checkpoints litter the landscape, but they can be destroyed to earn more treasure. Once broken, they won't be checkpoints anymore, making the risk vs. reward model a very real, crucial gameplay element. Life and magic powerups can be optionally gained. Potions to refill your life meter can be quaffed. If the player fails, a Demon's/Dark Souls "lose some of your experience" concept is put into play in the form of losing treasure which can be regained if the player can return to that spot. There are no extra lives to fret about. The game's levels are rife with hidden secrets, passages and treasure nooks. The bosses are all unique, challenging and engaging to battle. And the game increases its difficulty in a moderate fashion, steadily raising the enemy and environmental threats with each map reveal. There's ample opportunity to gain treasure to beef up Shovel Knight through optional levels and replaying old ones, too.

Hopefully I have explained why Shovel Knight is the ideal game for me, and why I feel it's the finest of 2014.

Its retro decadence, the compelling narrative that gives a woman equal status to its male lead, and a difficulty that straddles the sweet spot all the way through combine for one of the greatest games I've had the pleasure of playing in any year.

If you haven't given Shovel Knight a shot yet, you really ought to consider it!