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CON CALENDAR
AUGUST
DragonCon, GA
Atlanta, GA, August 29 - Sept 1, 2014 DragonCon, Atlanta, GA, August 29 - Sept 1, 2014

PAX Prime, WA
Seattle, WA, August 30 - Sept 2, 2014 PAX Prime, Seattle, WA, August 30 - Sept 2, 2014

SEPTEMBER
Wizard World, TN
Nashville, TN, Sept 26 - 28, 2014 Wizard World, Nashville, TN, Sept 26 - 28, 2014

OCTOBER
GeekGirlCon, WA
Seattle, WA, October 11-12, 2014 GeekGirlCon, Seattle, WA, October 11-12, 2014

Shop GameOnGirl
Make Custom Gifts at CafePress

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Friday
Aug152014

Famicom Females: Princess Peach

peachPeach/Princess Toadstool (Super Mario Bros.)
Release Date: October 18, 1985
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Format: Cartridge
Role: NPC (Damsel)
Any Subsequent Appearances: Yes

Introduction 

Princess Toadstool, or Peach as she is known nowadays, is possibly Nintendo's most prominent female character in their line-up. She has been in the most games out of any Nintendo woman by far, and I'd have to imagine she's the one that leaps to mind for most people when they think of a female Nintendo character. In her very first appearance in the seminal Super Mario Bros., she is relegated to the very last moments of the game as the damsel in distress trapped by the villainous Koopa King Bowser.

smb-peach

Character Design and Personality

Princess Toadstool is curiously shorter than Mario in this game (that would change in the US Super Mario Bros. 2), and her sprite does not match the concept art for her at all; she has red hair, a white and red dress, and tanned skin. This color scheme is unique to this one appearance, as she adopted the pink dress and blond hair (and a fairer complexion) in Super Mario Bros. 2 (USA) and would stick with that for the rest of her appearances. Even the Japanese boxart includes her more conventional look:

smb-fami

To be honest, Pauline had more personality in terms of debuts. Peach has no animation, and after this brief message, she vanishes from view. Not the most becoming of introductions for such an iconic character, I'd say.

Impact on Narrative

Here, Peach is the definition of the “damsel in distress” trope. The point for playing the game is rescuing her. So... she is the narrative force, which is not a great motive in theory.

Positive Aspects

She has become one of Nintendo's female stalwarts. She became playable in several Mario titles (mostly in outliers like the Mario Kart series, Mario Party, and the RPGs, although Super Mario 3D World is an excellent return to her being playable in the main Mario platforming line), and was the second woman added to Super Smash Bros. (behind Metroid's Samus Aran). She has, when given the opportunity (typically in the Paper Mario series), a fairly strong-willed personality that shows that she can be quite capable despite her imprisonment. She is often featured in Super Mario merchandise, making her the most marketed woman in Nintendo's stables.

Negative Aspects 

Peach (along with Pauline and Princess Zelda) helped establish the long-running, and frankly repugnant, industry standard for women as gaming characters. Peach continues to be featured as a damsel in most of the key Mario platformers, limiting the positive agency mentioned above. Outside of the Paper Mario series, Peach is very much a stereotypical princess in the Disney mold, with a high-pitched voice and a vapid demeanor towards the action going on around her. She embodies feminine tropes (liking pink, using hearts in her attacks in certain games, utilizing her emotions to solve puzzles in Super Princess Peach, etc.).

My Reactions

Peach has never been a favorite character of mine. She's so entrenched into the damsel/princess ideal that her characterization rubs me the wrong way most of the time. Super Mario Sunshine is probably the biggest offender in marking Peach as an insipid character to me. However, I do support her Paper Mario appearances, as Intelligent Systems added some awesome depth into her personality, and gave Peach some much needed agency. On the whole, though, I'm not her biggest fan. Her flaws stick out more to me than her strengths.

Future Appearances 

Listing Peach's future appearances would be a mammoth task, so I'll touch on the three that I think made the biggest improvements to her. Super Mario Bros. 2 (USA), where Peach became playable for the first time, is #1. Her abilities were among the best in the game, particularly her floating jump, and made her a viable (and at times vital) choice for progression. The second is Super Mario RPG, which gives Peach a chance to serve as a character in Mario's three character party. She fills the role of healer, an unfortunate trope of women in RPGs, but at the very least she served a key component of many of the possible teams in the game. It gave her some characterization outside of being a damsel as well, which Intelligent Systems would expand upon in their RPGs to come. Lastly, I would argue that her addition to Super Smash Bros. Melee was her grandest hour. Being able to fight on even ground with many of Nintendo's other iconic heroes and villains was a huge increase to her agency, and she has been considered one of the better fighters in the series.

Sources  

Personal experience
Mariowiki

Monday
Aug112014

episode 125 - Swordsman Review

This week we review the new free to play MMORPG from Perfect World Entertainment, Swordsman. 

This epic MMO is inspired by the novels of Louis Cha and is set in the Ming Dynasty. We talk about avatar development, graphics, gameplay, Group play, story and the game interface.  

We received copies of the Heroes Pack from Perfect World which included a mount that looks like a fiery dragon and lots of other little goodies. 

We wrap up the show with another set of summer game recommendations. Have you played Swordsman? We would love to chat with you if you've played the game at the higher levels. 

Links

To play Swordsman, download Arc here.

Swordsman

Rhonda's QA review of Swordsman

Doxie One

"Life After Beth"

"Legends" on TNT

DragonCon Schedule

Otaku Recon in Guam

SUMMER GAME RECOMMENDATIONS

BEACH

Get Bit
Quarriors

MOUNTAINS

Mario Kart 8
Defenders of the Realm

INTERNATIONAL 

Words with Friends
Glass Bricks, iTunes, Android, Kindle 

Until next time, game on! 
Regina & Rhonda

Episode 125

Monday
Aug112014

namsdrows - qa review

There are two things to be aware of while reviewing Swordsman by Perfect World: they put an emphasis on authenticity and they originally developed the game for the Chinese market. Gamers will love the authenticity but the fact that Swordsman was developed for the Chinese market first is behind a lot of the marks I have against the current beta.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Aug082014

This is Not the Test You're Looking for

The Bechdel Test has been discussed briefly on our show and I’ve heard it mentioned in almost every panel I’ve participated in or attended over the past year. Before utopYA in June I did more research about the test to understand it better. In conclusion, I still believe this test accomplishes nothing.

CONTEXT

The test was popularized by Alison Bechdel's comic Dykes to Watch Out For, in a 1985 strip called "The Rule." (The current strip archive only goes back to 1987.) She credits a friend, Liz Wallace, with “The Rule.” 

The rule has been gaining traction since it was brought back to the surface in the August 2005 post The Bechdel Test, AKA, The Mo Movie Measure, on Alas! a blog. The test has three rules:

  1. There are at least two named* female characters, who
  2. talk to each other 
  3. about something other than a man.

*The female characters having names is not part of the original strip but something Alas! points out they added by mistake.

SEXUAL ORIENTATION

I assume the character in the strip explaining "The Rule" is gay. The point she seems to be making is she prefers movies with a female-to-female relationship, romantic or otherwise  a perfectly reasonable expectation for the character in the strip.

"Behind the Candelabra"

When you have a movie like “Behind the Candelabra” (or “Brokeback Mountain”) that tells the story of two gay men, what can you infer about the film because it fails The Bechdel test (the women do not talk to each other)? Can you say it fails as a film because women are underrepresented or, as a story, because the women in the film are not complex and interesting? Is this a sexist film? Are the writers and filmmakers sexist? The test really doesn’t conclude anything about “Behind the Candelabra” and the failure shows how limiting this so called test is.

Look at the film “Gravity.” It fails all the rules. But Sandra Bullock's character Ryan Stone is not just complex and interesting — she’s strong, human, and very real. There’s no romance between the male and female character; we don’t even know Ryan’s sexual orientation.

Dr. Ryan Stone played by Sandra Bullock

THE GOAL

The character in Bechdel’s strip would not watch "Gravity." That’s fine because I think the rule means something different to her and that’s why, taking it out of the context of the strip, it's an oversimplification of the conversation about representation.

Without knowing what the goal for the character in “The Rule” is, how do you know if her goal matches yours? To me, feminism means that the sexes are equally represented so this rule is useless to me because I think "Gravity" is a brilliantly sex balanced film.  

The complete cast of “Gravity” contains seven people  five men and two women. Only one man and one woman appear on screen; the rest of the cast are voices. You could argue that some of the male voices could have been female, but the power of the Ryan Stone character required the contrast to emphasize her even further. It’s like putting one, five gram gold piece on one side of the scale and five, one gram gold pieces on the other.

"Gravity"

WHAT IS FEMINISM?

Depending on the feminist view you take, the Bechdel test may work for you. My complaint is it’s broadly used to measure equality of the sexes in story and it does not do that. At best, it measures female-to-female relationship representations. That’s it.

Story telling is so complex and multifaceted. Not only do I believe a test cannot be created to determine sex equality in films, I think any list you create would be prejudiced.

Monday
Aug042014

episode 124 - James from Cloud Cap Games

This week we have a great interview with James Brady from Cloud Cap Games in Portland, OR. Cloud Cap is Regina's favorite LGS (Local Game Store) and a great community based small business. Listen to hear us discuss setting the tone for the store, getting started running a small business, and, of course, some of our favorite board games. We wrap up the show with some summer game recommendations. 

Links

Cloud Cap Games
Blue Highway Games

Games Mentioned

Cyclades
The Resistance
Coup
Ticket to Ride
Pandemic
Mage Knight
Helios
7 Wonders

SUMMER GAME RECOMMENDATIONS

BEACH

Playing Cards
Love Letter

MOUNTAINS

Betrayal at House on the Hill
Dominion

INTERNATIONAL 

Guillotine
King of Tokyo

Until next time, game on! 
Regina & Rhonda

Episode 124