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5:12 PM on 12.19.2013

Game Challenges with Friends: My one birthday tournament


In an attempt to sort my feeling over Nintendo's surprise release of NES Remix, I reflect on some fun memories of game challenges and friends.

When I was a kid, I went to my cousin's sleepover party for her birthday. We each had a choice of activity or movie that we could rent to watch. My choice was The Wizard. I believe it was lair on in the night when I finally got to watch my movie and most of the other kids were either in other rooms playing or asleep. So, I sat in the den with my legs crossed indian style and I stared into the longest video game infomercial. It was a glorious movie, however. It was full of game footage from stuff I played or dreamed of playing. It featured a Power Glove, which seemed all but legend to me; etched in the annals of a Sears Christmas catalog. And then, at the end of the movie I witnessed my first video game tournament.

On my 25th birthday, I held a video game tournament. That was the one night I had the most fun with my collection of games. I squeezed 30 people into my one bedroom apartment on the Westbank of New Orleans. Then, I paired my guests up regardless of skill or even whether they held a controller before or not. It was a throwback to my high school days of holding parties. Co-workers from my job at a print shop, volunteers from the Lesbian and Gay Community Center of New Orleans, old friends just getting caught up helped me celebrate the passing of time. It was a night fueled by vodka, rum, whisky and red beans. And, the music that pealed from my second story balcony were cries of, "no fair" or "hooray!"

Earlier on in the day, I pooled together a bunch of games from my collection from various consoles and genres. Each of them had some form of multiplayer. So, I could conjure up challenges that would make any game seem competitive. My guests would had to square off in Street Fighter Alpha 3 on the Dreamcast. They would have to go head to head in the sewers of Mario Bros. in Super Mario Bros. 3 on the SNES. I thought of so many ways for my guests to race or beat each other up in all of the classics. The whole contest was completely random guided only by the whim of a poster board and a black permanent marker.

It was at this time that I was reminded of all the video game tournaments I knew before. My earliest memory was from a childhood movie, The Wizard. Then, I remembered game shows like Nick Arcade, Legends of the Hidden Temple, and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego. In each case, kids from all walks of life met each other on a digital battlefield to be immortalized in televised glory. More often than not, the host was flamboyant and dramatic. He could be in line with Chairman Kaga of Iron Chef. A simple declaration like "eggs" would be voiced in a howling "TAMAGO!" It was that same howling in The Wizard that announced to the world, "Super Mario Bros. 3!" And so my persona for the night was chosen.

My gaming setup was not to be envied. We played most of the games on a 13" TV and VHS combo. Still, the true excitement of the evening came from showmanship and the luck of a draw. "And now for the next gaming battle," I reached into a bag full of paper slips, "Soul Calibur II!" I boldly pit my boss from work against one of the kids from my youth group that I facilitated at the Center. My boss protested, he never played any of these games before. He lost. We all laughed. A $50 gift card to Best Buy went to that kid.

I think about that night and other gamer gatherings usually when mini-game collections or retro game challenges get released. The appeal for me for these games comes from the same source as that night, showmanship and luck of the draw. It's the stuff that makes Warioware such an uproarious classic. And yes, perhaps games like NES Remix strip down those elements to negative effects. At the same time, I'm also reminded of something my dad told me before I even got my first SNES. Games aren't really meant to be played alone. True, there are many quality single player experiences. Perhaps, though, it's best if we use games more for social interaction. After all, what is the point of performing feats of digital derring-do if no one is around to see it?   read


7:40 PM on 08.18.2013

Neshoba Talks With You About Video Games - Episode 1 "48 Hours"



I attempt to start a podcast. This week, we talk to Igor from Sydney, Australia. Find out about gaming and Australian politics first hand. Well, you have to sit through me singing karaoke, but it's pretty rewarding. lol   read


3:31 AM on 08.10.2013

Gaymers International: Anthony and Ricardo Go To GaymerX



Delirium sets in at 10:30pm on Saturday night. A cacophony of chiptunes blares from the stage. On each side, machinima of Kingdom Hearts characters blends with sprite art and instructs the gaming kids in line dancing. The instructions are futile, because each dancer moves and flails to whatever beat they can hear in their head. I grow pale and try to push myself to jump up and down with Anthony on the dance floor. Seeing that I can't jump, Anthony says; "come on, you need food and drink." We sweep past Ricardo who smiles and waves. We run through the doors of the Imperial Ballroom and out into the Garden Level Halls of the Hotel Kabuki. Anthony excuses himself for a few to go to the bathroom, and I attempt to get my bearings. A blue shirt GaymerX volunteer strums a familiar tune on the hotel piano. It's the Princess Leia theme from Episode IV. I'm exhausted. I'm hungry. Overall, it's a good day. The overwhelmingly positive energy of the con moves and flows through Japantown. In these moments, I lean against an artist's table and eke out enough whisps of energy to carry me across the street for a quick snack. Just enough time, I think, to collect my thoughts and recount exactly what brought me to this time.



Anthony, Just Another Guy in San Francisco 
Anthony Sebastian Abrahamsen, the 25 year old gay Iranian activist from Norway with killer eyebrows, should be easy to spot in an airport. Sadly, it takes me several texts, calls and a phone battery to find him. I spend over an hour chasing my tail around the baggage claim carousel #2 for any sign of Anthony. On his end, Anthony is running around baggage claim carousel #2 as well, but in another terminal. It takes him several attempts to get the staff at SFO to tell him where exactly to go. Finally, I see this tall formally dressed guy walk down to my terminal. He exudes class among a backdrop of shorts and flip flops. I run out the baggage claim doors and grasp him by both arms. We find each other despite my worst nightmares of Anthony being profiled by the TSA. His first words in person to me, "Don't ever do that to me again." His voice is like a horn and each word is a note in a Norwegian fanfare. With my phone dead, I decide that I can't contact my best friends. So, we hop a shuttle down to the cell phone lot.

Lunch is at the International House of Pancakes. It may seem odd, but neither Anthony nor Ricardo really have major American food chains available. My best friends, Malcom and Shamica, take us there and join. We order food. The waitress brings out our drinks and we carry on with our conversation about GaymerX and other cons. We're interrupted by the waitress who comes back with a bowl of blueberries for Anthony's drink. She explains that the drink was supposed to come with the blueberries and she was sorry. He remarks, in Norway that's just not done. If something comes out wrong or if a customer is screaming and cursing in frustration, the most you can expect is a simple "I'm sorry."

After lunch, we drive in to the city. Anthony makes a quick declaration of his photographic memory before his head starts oscillating from side to side. He takes snapshots of his surroundings to fill the scrapbook of his mind. The streets, Anthony remarks, are full of waves of positive energy. He notices how the various cultures of the Bay Area are integrated. "This is a true melting pot," Anthony says. "Everyone always says that this (San Francisco) is where I need to come first when visiting America. New York is too harsh." Malcom and Shamica tour us up and down the steep streets along Lombard. Anthony gasps at the heights and tears up a little at the vistas and people. "I found my place in the world."

Before we reach Hotel Tomo, the subject of Anthony's hair comes up. He needs at least an hour to prepare for Thursday night's activities. Before he flew into the US, Anthony dyed his hair back from a pink mohawk to all black. The origin of that pink mohawk came about at this year's Skeive dager, queer or rainbow days, in Oslo. To know Anthony, one would think that he does this color change regularly. He often speaks of dying his hair pink. This year's event in Oslo brought it out of him as evident in his Facebook cover photo. He stands out of the crowd with a graphic tee that reads, "Gay and Iranian" followed by the Facebook like icon. A candy colored do crowns him. "Masculine, feminine, who gives a fuck?" is Anthony's mantra. The Norwegian folk stop and stare at him as a part of the alternative kids in this look. But how, Anthony wonders, would he be received here. I motion to the streets and the people. As Anthony fills the mental scrapbook, he's already convinced he'll move here. I say, "You'll be just another guy in San Francisco."



Ricardo, One in a Gaming Culture of Three
By the time we check-in to Hotel Tomo, Anthony and I receive several messages from our third. Ricardo Valenzuela, 23 year old game writer and game designer at stillalive studios from Guayaquil, Ecuador, sends several status updates. He keeps us up to date on shopping he's doing on Market St. He stuffs bags with all the American brands he either doesn't have access to or would be very expensive in Ecuador. I attempt to get him to come to the hotel room, but he returns to his place instead.

Anthony and I relax in the room. We wait for Ricardo's arrival and the pink mohawk to set. A karaoke night in the Mission is on the schedule, but we were both in need of rest. 10:00pm and I wake from a nap to the room's phone ringing. "Jean-Luc?" Ricardo's voice is gentle and quiet. "I'm downstairs." Ricardo waits in the lobby of Hotel Tomo viewing the three flat screen televisions pumping out Anime non-stop. When I emerge from the elevator, Ricardo stands and I jump back a little. Both he and Anthony tower over me. Not sure why, but I'm not prepared to be the shortest guy on this trip.

The order of the night is take out. I walk Ricardo down Sutter St. and on to Fillmore to the nearest Quickly. We review the menus posted on the walls, and I ask Ricardo if he sees anything that jumps out at him. "The fried food," he replies. We settle on two teriyaki chicken bento boxes, one unagi box, and a few bubble teas.

We carry on a conversation, but are interrupted by one incident. A homeless man wanders into the shop grabs the tip jar and empties the change into his hands. The cook unsuccessfully confronts the guy and dials the police. Ricardo has his back turned. So, I tell him all of what happened. Our order is completed and we leave the shop.

My conversation with Ricardo jumps around a bit from Ecuador's class system to being gay, from video games to family. Ricardo's family is middle-upper class in Ecuador. Because the community is smaller, there is a greater focus on the family than in North America. I ask about how Pope Francis is received in Ecuador, and Ricardo replies that he isn't necessarily a religious person. As opposed to Anthony who I have known for a couple years, Ricardo is a fairly new friend. We talk and he asks about what the con will be like. GaymerX is his first convention. He breaks the conversation a few times to ask about proper pronunciation and use of English words. As a writer on Son of Nor, his English improves all the time.

I gather that Ricardo is still a little unsure at times. He is courageous, however, in his own way. There is very little games culture in Ecuador let alone a gaymer culture. Ricardo says his love of games starts from an early age by watching his brother play Doom on the Sega Genesis. During his college years, Ricardo finds a way to pursue game design by studying Audio Visual design. As a professional, Ricardo attempts to start a chapter of the International Game Developers Association in Ecuador.

We reach the room and Anthony and make more plans for the weekend. I offer Ricardo my bed in the room. His place is too far out for him to return tonight. We crash and get enough rest to run the streets, Friday morning.



An All-American Breakfast in the Castro
The sun rises over Japantown. Fog rolls in from the bay. My alarm sounds at 6:00am which Ricardo shuts off. Anthony sets his phone for 8:00am which goes against all our plans. He seems determined to get more rest this trip than originally planned. No matter, I adjust plans and grab a quick nap. Anthony and I wake up soon enough and walk out to the balcony. From our room, we can see the various plazas and pagoda of Japantown. Staring off to our right, we are eventually blocked out by a pot-bellied German in saggy undies chomping on a rice cake. I call him out. "What you got there, Nutella?" The German mutters a reply before returning to his room.

Fifteen minutes later, we make our way onto the street. I walk my boys through Jefferson Park and towards Market St. On the way, we pass people walking dogs. We watch as Asian couples practice tai chi together in the park. I point out the view of San Francisco from our point. And, Anthony and Ricardo get a view of an early morning hipster fashion show as the citizens go about their business. We stop at a Walgreens to make change. Anthony stops to look over a few energy shots. I tell him that he doesn't want those else he'll probably explode from the formula.

On Market St., I walk Anthony and Ricardo past the Gay and Lesbian Community Center. I explain it as a place to go for housing, job placement and other social services. I ask them if they have anything comparable in their countries. For Anthony, services are facilitated through queer health centers in Norway. For Ricardo, the lack of openness of the community along class lines poses a challenge to organizing in Ecuador. We hop on an F line train and head a few blocks down to Castro.

I motion to where I plan on eating breakfast. Before that, though, we head to a bank where Anthony can make a cash advance. I introduce myself to the teller as an account holder and state our business for Anthony's advance. I read into the teller's words and sweat when she calls for a manager's approval. On approval, she starts the advance and prints out a receipt. When Anthony returns the receipt back to her, she reviews his passport once, twice; scrutinizes his face. "You need to re-sign this how you would on your passport," she grimaces. Dammit! Why did I ever watch movies like Argo? The simplest transactions feel like an operation. Anthony re-signs the receipt. Her rumination continues. She decides to give him the cash. He walks away from the counter, sorts his cash. We grab a few lollipops from a jar by the door and head out to the street.

If you're ever with me in San Francisco, I will eventually take you to my favorite spot on the corner of Castro: Orphan Andy's. The restaurant is the community's take on the All-American diner. Barstools with red vinyl seats line the bar. Kites fly above as they hang down from the ceiling. I help Anthony and Ricardo with the menu a bit. They each order eggs and bacon. Anthony gets pancakes. Ricardo gets french toast. The conversation turns from how to say "egg" in Spanish. Turns from shops that Anthony spotted along Castro St. that he wants to visit. Turns to the fact that our waiter is going commando, which is voluntarily offered up by the waiter. There's that American customer service my boys like. Our breakfast turns into a taxicab confessional with our waiter who apparently was groping his best friend's ass at an age of seven. The supervisor jumps in to the conversation with a guy seated beside us. Anthony and Ricardo get a front row seat to how open the neighborhood is.

Back on to the streets, I open up the tour to Anthony and Ricardo. Wherever they want to go shopping, is where we will head. The first shop we see open that Anthony wants to visit is called, "Rock Hard." Now being a New Orleans boy, I think I've seen my fair share of sordid shops. There's all sorts of toys, videos and lube along the shelves. As we enter, the music is upbeat. The first song is "Give Me All Your Luvin'" by Madonna. I browse the shelves a bit and then chat back with Ricardo. He's interested in Bara comics, which is a form of Manga that focuses on bears meaning those guys with the hair and the muscles and the bellies (sometimes). The music in the shop changes to "Girlfriend" by Avril Lavigne. As I continue talking to Ricardo, I look above his right shoulder. And on two flat screens is some hardcore gay porn. Anthony walks over to us and points to the screens. "Did you see this?" Oh, I'm watching. "Why would they do that? Aren't we supposed to be promoting safe sex? Why are they barebacking like that?" I bullshit through an explanation about how the stars all get tested; it's a fantasy for the viewer; and something about... I forget. I'm just trying to digest, "Hey, hey, you, you, I could be your girlfriend" and- well, you know. It's all teeny bopper, cheer leader songs in this shop while watching guys go balls deep in each other. Did they play Toni Basil? I don't catch it.



"Swinging from friend to friend like a crazed spider monkey"
After the shopping trip down Castro and Market St., Anthony and I send Ricardo home. We all get ready for con registration and the VIP Boss Party. Now in a group of gay men (gaymer or otherwise), we have several tropes and totems that inform us in social situations. In groups of four or more, you fall into the roles of Sex in the City or Golden Girls. Three is Charlie's Angels. Two, you choose who's the Romy or Michelle, who's the Mary or Rhoda, who's the Patsy or Edina. Walking into registration with Anthony, I remember one scene from AbFab in which Edina mocks the way Liza Minnelli moves through a cocktail party. The quote is, "swinging from friend to friend like a crazed spider monkey." So, here I am. Waving my arms around from clique to clique, "hello, how are you? Hello, how are you? Life is a cabaret!" I spot a really good friend and classmate from Full Sail, Ramona Lafountain. I see her after six or seven years and immediately let out a scream like I won the Price is Right.

Anthony lights up. He's in his ideal state of mind. Of course, he's an accomplished activist in Norway at such an early age. Yet, he doesn't really feel appreciation from the locals. Jante Law places someone like him on the outside of cultural norms. He's not supposed to think that he can enlighten others. Nor can he think he's anything special. Outside of Norway, however, he can shine. He can be among people who say that they admire him and are inspired by his work. Cameras flash from each of Anthony's Facebook friends as we pass. And he doesn't forget anyone. He catalogs each person and reminds me that he needs to meet this one or that. For an extrovert like Anthony, the energy in the room is a buffet and he's ready for the party.



Before the actual party, we head over to On the Bridge at Japantown Mall. A couple of donburi bowls and Shōchū cocktails fuel us up for the night's festivities. Ricardo catches up with us in a button down shirt. Ricardo is more a jeans and t-shirts kind of guy while Anthony is formal in button downs and vests. Together, the three of us make our way to the Imperial Ballroom. We flash our Boss Badges and head past the bar. Members of Gamers Experimentations (my first gaymer board) are gathered by the bar. Another former member, MattyMatt, takes photographs of everything. It's the family reunion I didn't actually expect coming into this. I introduce Anthony and Ricardo to as many friends as I can find. Snap some more shots of Anthony with some of his friends. Chiptune music pours out onto the floor and coaxes the geeks to convulse in interpretive seizures. Pandora Boxx comes out on stage and does a couple of songs in Alice the Madness drag. One girl song, "White Rabbit" by Jefferson Airplane. One boy song, "Sweet Dreams" by Marilyn Manson. Gaymers with dollars fall before the stage. At the very least, they know to tip. With little experience in the clubs, however, I gather that they don't grasp the how, when or why.

After the numbers, the chiptunes return. I take Anthony by the arm, and ask the one burning question I've had for a month now. On Facebook, Anthony will usually post about going out and dancing with friends. Anthony loves referencing Western / American culture anyway possible. So informed by Jersey Shore, Anthony's signature dance move is the Jersey Turnpike. I place my hand on Anthony's shoulder and ask, "Anthony Sebastian Abrahamsen, will you demonstrate for us-" I search around and grab another friend Craig "(I call him) Baby Phat (for reasons)" Ervin. "Will you demonstrate Jersey Turnpiking?" The group erupts in hoots and hollers. Anthony agrees and bends over in the perfect right angle at the waist. His hip and butt gyrates and grinds into Craig. Craig is surprised. He smiles, and shrugs. When in Rome, I suppose. Everybody has a great time. A few more pictures and we're all ready for a late dinner at Ssisso across the street from Hotel Kabuki.

Ricardo quietly watches the display all night long. He's still a little new to the situation, but he doesn't turn down the opportunity to make friends. It's hard to gauge whether Ricardo is actually an introvert or if he's still adapting to culture shock. I'm giving to each, Ricardo and Anthony each in opposite directions. For Ricardo, I'm opening up and letting him network with even my furthest of acquaintances. For Anthony, I feed him energy and support to keep him going. True, I have people to reconnect with myself. But, I believe in the stories my boys have to tell. I know that they need to get to know people. Gaymers can be just a collection of gay people who happen to play games or they can be part of a lifestyle and culture. For me, I see these two and consider their incredible challenges. I think, this is good and people need to know this. So, I follow along and pull them along when necessary.

Ricardo isn't the only one I pull along, either. Earlier in the night, Anthony and I spot Matthew Michael Brown aka Gaymer from The Tester. Anthony's a bit starstruck, but I know they follow each other on Twitter and Facebook. No big deal. Let's go say, hi. I take Anthony's wrist and drag him to Matthew. They meet. Say, hello. Grasp hands for a bit. Then, we part. Anthony swoons and I carry him away. One shy moment. One starstruck moment. Even for a guy who himself is a star.



Showdown in the Podcast X Zone
Night falls. Morning follows. It's almost showtime. Opening ceremonies are by the pagoda. If there's anyone in the world who would ever think to start some shit at GaymerX outside of the Westboro Baptist Church, that would most likely be me. Now I don't wake up in the morning thirsty for vengeance or anything. It just so happens that there may be one or two hot button issues that I stew over. Specifically, the gaymer trademark and the fallout over Chris Vizzini which lead to gaymer.org going offline. Those are some wounds still healing from the weeks and months leading up to GaymerX.

Anthony and I make our way to the pagoda. Ricardo is at his place getting ready to attend panels later on in the day. I greet the assembled crowd in my usual Liza Minnelli spider monkey style. From the back rows, I spot a press area with a very special friend, Christian Walters of GayGamer.net. I make my way to the press area and throw hissing whispers to get Christian's attention. He turns, sees me, and we hug. We smile and chat for a few. Recount almost nine years of being friends. The music sounds and I break away from Christian and return to Anthony.

Showtime. Matt Conn, Toni Rocca, and Kayce Brown head out onto the stage. Everything is the usual, "have a great con. Thank these people for making it possible." And I clap, until the EFF is introduced. Thank them for challenging and doing away with the Gaymer trademark, Matt asks the audience. There's applause, but not from me. I'm still sore from the fights on reddit. The fights on Twitter. Banging on my keyboard late at night, because it hurts. It hurts to see my friend, Chris Vizzini, demonized for a trademark the whole community of gaymer.org helped gain. He fights the challenge until he can't fight anymore. He comes out as a patent troll and some kind of cash grabbing traitor to the community. No, I don't applaud. In that moment, I could hear the Ironside theme song. Then, I remember. I'm not really here for myself or Chris. I'm here to help Anthony and Ricardo, my boys, get their stories out anyway we can. I feel sad for a second and shake it off. Then, I applaud and join in through the rest of the ceremonies.

The ceremonies round off with the introduction of Ellen McLain, the voice of GLaDOS in Portal. She's joined by her husband, John Patrick Lowrie. He's the voice of the Sniper in Team Fortress. They're a beautiful couple that evoke the kind of parents or grandparents I would see at PFLAG meetings in New Orleans. Ellen's voice is calming and assuring, "If you ever need us, we're not that hard to find. We're the oldest ones here." She chuckles and it melts my heart. The couple brings a spirit of having a mom and dad at the event. Loving. Compassionate. Ever watchful. Someone to tell you to be on your best behavior. It's in these two that I feel the core of GaymerX. It is this safe place for everyone who games. Perhaps, I do take things too seriously on the Internet. It takes someone like an Ellen McLain to speak and say, "everything is ok."

Anthony and I make our way down to the Imperial Ballroom for the first panel of the con. Ricardo, by this time, is supposed to have joined us. But, he's so far out. He's still taking a bus to reach us. We sit down and listen to a panel by EA featuring David Gaider, head writer for Dragon Age, and Jessica Merizan, community manager for Bioware. The talk centers around representation of the LGBT community in EA games. Some revelations are that same sex relationships were considered for inclusion in the Sims since the first game. We trace the history of representation in Bioware games from one character in Knights of the Old Republic to the storylines of Dragon Age and Mass Effect. Ultimately, the policy stated or not at EA is that if anyone chooses not to buy a game because of inclusive content, "fuck them." Whether that was a paraphrase by the panelists or not, it's stated that EA is progressive in its stance on inclusive content.

Ricardo joins Anthony and I in the next panel titled Radical Play by Lux Porpentine of Rock Paper Shotgun. We take in the complaints and examples of how games can better serve oppressed communities. The discussion interests Ricardo as a game writer and designer for stillalive studios. He is open with his team, and has a couple of ideas on how to be more inclusive. His story in Son of Nor is neutral in regards to the gender of the character. The same story you play as a male character is the same story you play as a female character. One point of discussion is how in a game like Metroid, panelists view the reveal of Samus as a woman to be trickery. While Ricardo does not agree completely that the Samus example is trickery, he discusses a couple ideas he has for Son of Nor. Ricardo plays with the assumptions of gender and sexuality. He drops hints for the player to connect the dots in the narrative using NPCs and story events. For Ricardo, he understands complaints people have about representation. He wants to learn more about how he as a game designer can fix these problems.



Anthony, Ricardo and I make our way to the Exhibit Hall. There are a few booths for this first year of the con. And they provide more one on one time with people like David and Jessica of EA. Ricardo spends some time talking and networking with David. I approach Jessica. As a community manager, her story is fairly unique. Jessica has a background in Anthropology. I tell her that as a Native American "we kinda love you guys." My question to Jessica is that: as a Native American, I do remember talking with my grandparents and great grandparents; I remember stories of a time when we were an invisible community and the outside either questioned or denied our existence; some gaymers feel like we are just gay people who play games, while others take the identity more seriously; from the perspective of an anthropologist how do we promote that identity and further the community? She responds, she agrees with the analogy and her work as a community manager is tied to that sort of promotion. Jessica's approach is unique as an anthropologist, because community managers will often come in with a marketing background. While being a community manager is a function of marketing, she is more hands on and responsive to the needs of the community. We have some awesome chats and Anthony grabs some pics.

Saturday is packed on the schedule. Anthony, Ricardo and I do another panel specifically for Bioware. And I encourage them to get in front of the cameras for Gaymers, a documentary. We continue on through the day until the final panel, Podcast X Zone.



If I ever had it out with anyone on Twitter, it's Jason Toups of Gayme Bar. I have no other reason than to think that he may or may not have stepped over some hot button issues for me. From calling Assassin's Creed III Liberation "Sassy Creed Labiation" to his take on Chris Vizzini's behavior during the trademark challenge, I had maybe one or two pissing matches with "Toupsi." That said, we live our lives over the last seven years as two ships passing in the night. We both attended University of New Orleans, but at different times. Before Katrina, I graduated from Full Sail. After Katrina, Toupsi moved up to Atlanta where the seeds were planted for GayGamer.net. We both wound up in San Francisco without meeting. I left for the East Coast in 2007. We only connected after "Toupsi" made a comment on a mutual friend's Facebook post. So, here I am face to face after a few scraps with words. The panel is an assembly of LGBT and independent podcasters. I also recognize Captain Spike of GameBuoy.org as my longtime friend, James. James is dressed very dapper in a suit among the t-shirts and jeans. Toupsi wears an Elvira tee. When moderator Fox Van Allen starts a question with "you guys aren't professionals," I jump to James' defense with "the man is wearing a suit!" It's a fun panel, but the subject of sexuality and Nintendo characters is brought up. We go on until the Q&A. Instead of anything about podcasts or "gaymer" or anything relevant to the overall discussion, I slur out a question in the thickest drawl-patois blend I can muster. "I got to hold y'alls feet to the fire over this Nintendo characters don't have a sexuality. Don't you think it's more Nintendo of America's filter that whitewashes that stuff out? I mean, that's why we don't have Captain Rainbow here in America..." and so on, the ramble goes on until I forget my actual question and excuse myself for lack of food or drink. James loves this moment, because it is something he takes seriously. We finish up the panel and everyone's hugging and networking, and there's Toupsi. Across a couple of rows of people, he recognizes me, smiles and puts his arms out for a hug. We embrace, and I let go but clasp each of his hands with mine. Forgiveness. Toupsi says, "Well, you're just cajun through and through. Look at you!" I make a smartass crack about how he's from Jefferson Parish, but I'm from New Orleans. Really, I wish we aren't these kind of ships passing in the night. I wish I knew of him before I left for the East Coast. Maybe I wouldn't have left at all. We have this love and kinship back home for what we all went through. Between us, me, Toupsi, or anybody from our world our time; we can have some vicious blood feuds, but it wouldn't do more damage than a plate of red beans or a pot of coffee couldn't heal at the end of the day. Now, I'm clinging to Toupsi, but he's got to go home to Oakland and feed his dogs. Ah, well.



Of Hookahs and Dragon Age Hoes
Delirium sets in at 10:30pm on Saturday night. Anthony whisks me out of the Imperial Ballroom, and excuses himself for a second. I lean up against an artist's table, pale and tired. The sound of Princess Leia's theme on the piano is soothing and gives me a point of focus. I can slow down for a minute. Away from the noise of the chiptunes and the convulsions, I breathe. Anthony returns and we head up to New Korea House for cocktails and a quick snack. I know Anthony would rather be surrounded by the noise and the crowd. He takes time out and it's pretty cool of him.

We return and Ricardo is seated in the lobby of the Hotel Kabuki. I try to explain how the situation was an emergency and Anthony knew I needed something quick. Ricardo is hungry himself. So, I come up with a quick resolution. We head over to Pride of the Mediterranean which is down the street from Kabuki. There, Ricardo can get some dinner while Anthony and I smoke hookah. I believe it's been a little while for each of us, but Anthony and I end up puffing away like a couple of caterpillars. Ricardo orders a kebab and follows up with some baklava. A woman at the next table notices the graphic tee I'm wearing. It's a pink shirt with a design I hand drew. Back in 2007, I designed a shirt for Gamers Experimentations. It pictures a parody of the Coppertone ad with Yoshi pulling down the loin cloth of Kratos. I wore it once to a gaymer gathering in Los Angeles. I wear it again and catch the woman's eye. She asks about the shirt and then the con. Anthony, Ricardo and I each answer her questions about the con in turn. Once Ricardo finishes up his baklava, I notice that I'm blinking. Is it the lack of oxygen from the hookah? Is it the glass of Merlot? Is it the one crazy, packed day? Don't know. But, I'm falling asleep. I wish I can be better at this. That I wouldn't have to ditch the concert. That I could just keep the party going for Anthony and Ricardo. I'm sleepy, though. We make our way back to Hotel Tomo, and I crash.

Night falls. Morning follows. Anthony sets his phone alarm for 8:00am, each day. This is great. He drives me nuts with his insomniac Facebook posting from Oslo. We prepare and head down to Hotel Kabuki for a special breakfast. We sit at the cool kids' table. There with us are Craig Ervin, Matthew Michael Brown and Matt Conn. Matt, creative director for GaymerX, sports a low level bat hoodie with wings and ears. The conversation at the table splits off between the upcoming cosplay pageant and Ricardo's game, Son of Nor. Jeff Meador from So Much Drama Studios joins our table mid-conversation. Matt Conn spots a couple buttons I got from the Qoopa Klub podcast. The designs feature couples based on Mario character sprite art. There's a couple on the gay button pictured as Luigi and Wario. A lesbian button features two different versions of Princess Peach. No love for Daisy, I joke. Matt Conn doesn't really get Daisy. He says Peach is better. He asks, at least Princess Peach has the Mushroom Kingdom, what does Daisy have? Oh, those hot button topics. Personally, I always get into relationships with Peach fanboys. I end up having to defend Daisy. Oh, Daisy's a man, a lesbian, she's not as pretty as Peach. My immediate reaction to Matt Conn, "Sarasaland!" I slap my hand at the table like I just answered a question on Family Feud. Chill out. It's way too early for a diva turn. I don't know if I chased the bat from the breakfast table, but he soon flutters away. I apologize to Anthony and Ricardo for my little snit. And soon, I'm sandwiched in between two guys giving me reasons why Daisy is so weird. "She's like the Princess Peach of the third world." Ricardo and Anthony fire Daisy insults back and forth. I stop them and warn them that if this continues, I will unleash the Phoenix force. "I can't control it." I do my best Jean Grey.

We head up to the pagoda for the cosplay pageant. Kitty Stryker presents a morning of fabulousness in character, the cosplay pageant. All the geeky goodness of video games and Saturday morning cartoons is on display. Akashia-Eric hosts. The categories are Best in D.I.Y., Best Queer Character, Crowd Favorite, Best in Glam and Best in Show. While it got off to a slow start, the pageant moves along quickly thanks to the elemental powers of Ms. Munroe (Akashia in Storm drag). Ms. Munroe quips and kikis as the contestants model and attempt to butter up the judges. These judges include: David Gaider, Gordon Bellamy, and Jeff Meador. Taking home Best in D.I.Y. are a couple who wield prop keyblades as Aqua and King Mickey from Kingdom Hearts. Best Queer Character goes to a colorful and scantily clad boy Amaterasu. Crowd Favorite goes to Wario who drops his undies to moon the crowd while modeling. Best in Glam goes to a Catwoman with a boy face who somersaults and goes for Ms. Munroe, "Get off my stage, you pretty!" Best in Show is captured by a trio of Dragon Age cosplayers. Of note is a married couple that individually turns out an impressive Jade of Beyond Good & Evil and Riddick of Chronicles of Riddick. Anthony snaps some souvenir photos. I jump into a pic with my two faves asking, "OK, I have one Catwoman and one Storm. Tell me, who's the better Halle Berry?"



After the pageant, Toupsi and I talk. He's giving fan waving butch queen first time in drag with a mix of Madea. "Darling," I ask "did we forget to tuck?" I point to Toupsi's "moose knuckle." We smile and he kisses me on the cheek. He leaves a lipstick smudge. Before he can wipe it off, I ask him to leave it. He points to Sal Mattos and Jesse Cortez of Gaygamer.net to say hello. Toupsi is a founding member of the site. They chat between each other and reference the fallout from gaymer.org. Sal says, "and there was that one guy that went crazy." Completely disarmed I do a walk of shame in the middle of the guys. It's a boppy second line with my eyes shielded. Yeah, that one guy. "Public spaces, honey." Toupsi chuckles and bats his fan at me.



Twerkin' at the Golden Gate
I spend most of the afternoon alone with Ricardo. Anthony splits off from us to attend a luncheon for con super backers at Soeul Garden. Ricardo and I tour around the area looking for comics and toys. Ricardo is in a factual union in Ecuador which is similar to the North American civil union. Ricardo's partner is a fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation. They wear rings that symbolize Troi and Riker. Inside the band is the word "Imzadi." Ricardo searches around to find any kind of toy or memorabilia to take back home. We snap a couple of shots of him gazing over the bay. Then, head to lunch at Starbucks. I help him pick out a drink that would best suit his taste, a skinny mocha. It's not sweet enough for Ricardo, but a couple packets of Splenda seal the deal. We chat some more and then hop a bus back to Japantown.

We meet up with Anthony and switch off. Now Ricardo goes his way. Anthony and I take a quick walk through Japantown to find an ATM. When we return to Kabuki, I see Jonah and Artur from GAYMERS filming interviews of con attendees. I jump in and talk about my own involvement with the community and my expectations of the con. They ask me about my friends and their stories. We managed to get Anthony and Ricardo in front of the cameras the day before. When I get up, Artur mentions how passionate I sounded during the interview. I smile. Answer back. Anthony and I then head for the closing ceremonies.

Back in the Imperial Ballroom, there's one last gathering. I see my Gamers Experimentations friends seated in the back rows of chairs. Christian Walters tells everyone goodbye. I step away from Anthony for a second and run to Christian. I whisper to myself, "Oh scarecrow, I'm going to miss you most of all." It's a corny end line. I gently tug on the strap of Christian's shoulder bag. He turns around. We hug. I kiss him on the cheek, and he returns in kind. I pull away for a second. Then, I remember my answer to Artur when he remarked on how passionate I am. "When you've been around for nine years like me, you kinda get to love these guys." Matt Conn and company round off GaymerX with a couple surprises. They present a cake decorated as a loving troll for Westboro Baptist Church. Then, Ellen McLain and John Patrick Lowrie lead the con in a singalong version of "Still Alive" from Portal 2. Anthony and I leave the con, each step we take is punctuated by a hug or a "when are you coming back?" We head back to Hotel Tomo and prepare for one last sightseeing trip, The Golden Gate.

Dinner for the night is a shared plate of lemon chicken from a Chinese take-out. We chat some more about Anthony's It Gets Better video, and his history of being bullied. Over the course of food and tea (hot and iced), Anthony opens up about things that bother him or hold him back. He absolutely feels at home in San Francisco. He knows it's not a reality to just pack up and leave Norway. So he can go back to his base of operations, for now. We head for the first bus on the first leg of our trip to the bridge. I double check Google Maps when a bus pulls up. Don't want to get on the wrong line. As my attention is on my phone, I hear, "Get on the bus, Anthony." It's Ellen McLain with John Patrick Lowrie. They recognize Anthony from the luncheon earlier. We all board the bus. Ellen explains how they are on their way to dinner. I thank her, for everything. "We had a great time. Thank you!" Ellen smiles. Anthony melts in his seat and we part ways. We hike to the second bus. Make a quick pit stop in Ottinista. Just the nearest place with drinks and a bathroom. I buy Anthony a round and we head back out. I'm watching my phone. Watching the clock. The second bus is prompt and we make it to the bridge as I scheduled.



We arrive at the bridge and take a walk in the park at the south end. It's too late to walk the span. That's something I didn't plan. Anthony's able to see the bridge and we shoot a few pictures and videos from where we are. He has some fun and dances around. By this point, Ricardo is back at Hotel Tomo. I message him and tell him that I'm not sure when we'll make it back. He should just get some food and rest until we get back. I check my phone. i check my clock. Anthony's a little concerned. He starts to wonder when the bus will come for us to go back.

A bus passes the stop where we arrived, and I assure Anthony that they are fairly regular. I offer to take some more pictures under better lighting. I glance at my phone a few more times, and now I'm looking for a car. Another bus drives up, and finally I have to let the cat out of the bag. That is the bus back to the hotel, but we're not taking it. I arranged for a friend to pick us up and we're going to visit the Playstation offices. Anthony's face lights up. He's surprised which is what I was going for. "What about Ricardo?" Anthony asks. "Why just me? Why am I so special?" I'm silent, but here's the answer: Anthony Sebastian Abrahamsen, 25 year old gay Iranian activist from Norway living under Jante Law. He broadens the horizons of a people who refuse him the right to enlighten. He's so special in a world that refuses him the right to feel special. I hope he continues to do his good work. If ever he feels down or has problems with self esteem, I hope he can look back on this trip and this one moment and know how special he really is.



A Proper Goodbye
Monday morning, and I take my boys out for one last meal. It's a New Orleans style breakfast at Brenda's French Soulfood. An order of beignets sparks up one last conversation about culture. Ricardo says they remind him of churros back in Ecuador. To Anthony, the beignets remind him of a "Berlin bun" with the exception of the latter being filled. I tell them about frybread that is popular among Native Americans. I suppose every culture has it's own version of fried dough. We talk about grits and cafe au lait. We keep our mind on the time. Check out from Tomo is at noon, and we have one last trip down Castro St. to do.

We hop a train on Market St. Anthony's pink mohawk catches another compliment by a stranger on the street. He's collected at least five by now, not including anyone attending GaymerX. We jump off the train and dash down to whatever shop is open. Ricardo needs a few more gifts for his partner, and we end up in a Tibetan shop. We peruse the incense burners and crystals. We head back out into the street. We do a little window shopping. Then, board a bus back to the hotel.

We have a few hours between check-out and our flights. I convince Anthony that with the time we have left, it's better to take care of his hair at Ricardo's place. Yeah. On Monday, we have to say a lot of goodbyes including one to Anthony's candy colored crown. The bus ride to Ricardo's place is long and the bus starts off fairly crowded. The room Ricardo is renting is six miles out and due east of my old home in Daly City. We take the long ride and Anthony power naps himself along the way. The people of the bay area board and get off the bus, go about their business. It's an endless ride. At one point, an older couple attempt to stuff a shopping cart full of ramen noodle and live goldfish onto the bus. The display forces another man to climb up and stand on the priority seats.

We finally arrive at our stop and Ricardo walks us down six more blocks to get to the house. "Ricardo!" I say. ""Next year, you're staying with us." We reach the house and set our bags down. Ricardo arranges transportation for Anthony and I to get to the airport. We all watch Food Network and heckle the cooks while waiting for Anthony's hair color to set. Anne Burrell, Rachael Ray and Giada de Laurentiis prove to be quite hilarious while we're "drunk from being tired" as Ricardo says. Our ride is here and it's time for one last hug with Ricardo. He came to GaymerX from a position of isolation. He tried so many times to get things going as far as gaming culture in Ecuador. I feel he was unsure when we met on Thursday. Now, Ricardo has plenty of friends and plenty of opportunities to network and get the word out about Son of Nor.

I think after the trauma of Thursday, Anthony and I have our airport game down. We make a quick stop for him to scope out the international terminal. Then, we head for the air trains. I offer him one last conversation before we part. Not goodbye, just to get anything off his mind. Then, we arrive at the train stop. We chat some more. I let a few trains pass. Anthony produces a box wrapped in a bag. It's from the Tibetan shop. He opens it up and reveals a bracelet with various stone beads. He explains it's to help balance the chakras. It's also to remember him and our trip. I thank him with a hug. Then, board the train to my terminal.

It's a little odd leaving them after basically living together during the con. I hope I did everything I could to help them. Help them get their stories out. Help them around the city. I send one last message to our Facebook group message thread, "you're both very special to me, and I hope you get home safe."

  read


12:06 PM on 06.09.2013

My New Day at the "Animal Crossing New Leaf" Nintendo World Event

I wake up at 10pm, Saturday night. Fog covers the car windows. Apart from a slight alarm light blinking, I had no indication of whether the battery ran down or not. I unlock the door, and thankfully turn on my interior lights. The funny thing about sleeping in your car is that you still have the moment of, "OK, where the Hell did I put my keys?" After a quick fumble, I start the car and the defroster. The fog dissipates to reveal my location, a rest stop off the I-95 in Rhode Island. I search my thoughts and try to piece together the events of the last 24 hours. Driving back toward Boston, I listen to "Nights with Alice Cooper." It's Hell's version of Delilah; not because of the host and the subject matter, rather his soft spoken manner suggests that time has watered down and played out these classic songs. I reassure myself that whatever happens, Animal Crossing: New Leaf rests safe in my 3DS.

Friday evening, I'm off the job. A major project has me burned out from the week. Still, I resolve to make a weekend journey to Nintendo World in New York City for the Animal Crossing: New Leaf event. The major benefit to this is the chance to get the game a day early. My job is an hour drive away from the Milford train station. I make my way through the storm bands of Andrea who moved up from Florida to New England in about a day. It's heavy rain and flooded roads which make me question the wisdom of making the trip for a game. I could easily wait out the day and pick up the game at a local Gamestop. The modern convenience is there for a reason. Then again, wisdom hardly guides most of what I do only what I say. So, it's off through the raindrops, off through the floods, hydroplaning my way to a new day.

My phone holds a few charge through the car ride to the train station. An old from from gaygamer.net strikes up a Facebook messenger conversation which alleviates me of that charged battery during the ride over to Grand Central. At least my 3DS is charged, gotta make to take advantage of all that Streetpass data! I figure, this tropical storm made its way from Florida to New England in a day; by the time I make it to the city, everything will be dry as a fossil. Not so much. I figure a lot of things. I correlate all kinds of nonsense. There's the idea that since I from Louisiana and used to these storms, I'm immune to getting drenched. It's a small consolation to the fact that I'm parading around without an umbrella.

I duck into alcoves to wring the rain water out of my hair with my hands. I make my way down to Rockefeller Center, and then run laps around the block. I always get lost and get my corners mixed up. I usually have a great sense of direction. Something about that place throws me off. I finally find the corner for the Nintendo World store. Inside employees are constructing a mock village behind a black curtain backdrop. There are several activities planned for the day as a side attraction to the actual purchase of the game. There's no line of people in umbrellas, cause there's a tropical storm out. So, I feel a bit foolish and walk away. I need a place to charge my phone, dry off, and possibly eat. This is the city that never sleeps, right? There must be a great place for dinner open late. I turn the corner and see the height of haute cuisine, a 24 hour McDonald's.

Outside the restaurant, an older woman stands outside smoking. Her makeup is off from either crying or the rain. I don't bother asking. I grab a punch of napkins and dry off in the foyer. Gotta make sure I don't look too bad. This is a classy establishment. Why else would the logo be all gold and red? I order my food. The staff seems to be more engaged in an exchange between the night manager and a worker over some gossip on her phone. I take the food and proceed upstairs and upstairs again. How many floors does a McDonald's need?

The third floor only has one outlet. At this point I notice an odd mix in the furniture. This place is a fusion between a restaurant and a kid's dorm room. There's a 40" flat screen mounted to the wall. Below that, a kid sits charging his phone and playing PS Vita. I make my way beyond a sleeping man and reach a set of booths surrounding what looks like an island breakfast bar underneath lighting for a car table. My face lights up to see a group of kids with 3DS's. Oh, the Streetpass! They're wrapping up a meet up since it's midnight. One kid is dressed in a yellow Pokémon hoodie and a ball cap turned backwards with Pikachu ears. I want to ask them if they're going to line up for the ACNL event. Maybe they're waiting out the rain. But, they're pretty busy packing up and joking about the weird people that either work at this place or frequent it. Not wanting to be "creepy" or "weird," I lower my eyes and focus on munching on fries. One day, it will click that in order to not be creepy or weird I have to actually talk to people. They all clear the room and I reach for my system to check the tags. "Sparkz" is the name of a yellow clad Mii. His greeting is "pee pika pikachu" or something like that. Another Mii greets me with the name of the group "MonsterHunterNYC."

After my run-in with the monster hunting street gang, I finish my "meal" and make my way down to the bathroom. It's less a restaurant here and more a motel or den for vagrants, prostitutes, business men and teens. I don't judge and I don't have time to stop and judge. I need to pee. After that, I find an open wall outlet and start sending out texts. I gain as much a charge as I can before security comes around to poke everyone not eating. With mere wisps of battery life, I shut down my mobile data connection and pray.

Back down to the Nintendo World Store, I still don't see a line, cause (you know) there's still a tropical storm. I pace around and try to find a good spot to nest and initiate a line. The only person who seems to take notice is someone dressed like a delivery guy with a blue rain jacket. shorts, boots, and a black beanie. I catch him peeking out from a longer alcove in Rockefeller Center. After standing outside the doors for a few minutes, I catch the notice of an employee. She comes out and lets me know they are wrist banding people in line. The employees "feel" for everyone "great" enough to come down and line up for the game. People like that guy. She points to the delivery guy / alcove spy. He comes over during the middle of her explanation. She gives me a band and says the best thing is to go home and come back in the morning. Again, most of what I do isn't guided by wisdom. The guy, now in line in front of me, says he's just going to stick around and stay dry where he was. Great idea. I tag along and head back with him. We tag each other with Streetpass. I check for his Mii the name is "B Nuzz."

"B Nuzz" and I chat about the weather. I fill him in on my night so far, and tell him about my run-in with Monster Hunter NYC. I gather that they did indeed come to the store earlier. "B Nuzz" was around since 11:30pm, but he was the only one who didn't "puss out." He tells me about his support of Nintendo and how waiting in line at these events is a regular thing for him. One wait he brings up frequently is a three day wait for the Wii U during which he was twelfth in line. Then, it clicks. This is the world of Triforce. Who's that guy that's always first in line for everything, I ask. I play it a little coy, because I like being an observer. Yes, Triforce was here for the Wii U, but he had since hung up his publicity grabbing waits. "B Nuzz" notices the game I have in my 3DS, Street Fighter IV. Yeah, I haven't played it in a while and decided to pop it in. The guy goes on about his time playing Smash Bros. Melee competitively. His main is Princess Peach.

Around 2:30, a young couple arrive from Pennsylvania, "Bill" and "Kate" are the Mii names. I should say, it's one of "Kate"'s Miis' names. She has two other Miis that tag us with Streetpass from two other systems. "Zelda" is from a black special edition Zelda 3DS, which "B Nuzz" covets. "Peach" is on a European special edition Princess Peach 3DS which is lovingly protected in a Peach snap case. "Bill" plays mostly on a lime green DS Lite wrapped in a zip lock bag to protect it from the rain. They have snacks! Pringles, Fruit by the Foot and Redbull. I'm either too shy, health conscious or old (nah, not old) too indulge. The rain finally passes and at 4:00 the line is now 15 strong plus anyone who came by earlier and got wrist bands. "Kate" tells us that she knows of a rumor of one guy who was in line since Thursday. People from the Bronx come in by way of Rochester. A few more from Pennsylvania arrive from a train. One guy "Dave Reed" comes in from Baltimore. Well, he's a Maryland based musician who has a Mii named after the Ravens player.

5:00, 6:00, 7:00, the line grows as we move now out of the alcove and up to the doors of Nintendo World. The citizens of New York pass us by and stop to ask what we're in line for, new game release. One guy strides briskly in front of us and stops to ask "Kate" what this is all about. He's skinny, fashionable, blond hair, blue eyes and a perma-pout. We're waiting on a new game release, it's called Animal Crossing, "Kate" replies. This guy is puzzled. He screws his face and looks into the store. Huh, I don't see any animals, he turns and briskly strides away. There is a time when you choose the world in which you belong. Now, I see this guy. He's probably successful and handsome and all. Then, there's us. We just stood around for at least nine hours to get a game we could have gotten on the next day. Nah, we're the normal ones. These NYC townies and tourists are the real weridos. Like these families from Texas or England or Wherever. They're marching they're kids up and down Manhattan streets at this time of the morning. Yuppies pass by with their sad little 2.5 kids holding poster board signs for the Today Show. I bet those kids wish they were in line for a Nintendo game, instead of jumping up and down like they won the lottery for Matt Lauer. It's not even Matt Lauer on Weekend Today. It's Lester Holt, right? Geez!

As the line grows, the kids from Streetpass NYC show up. It's me! I'm first! A young kid in a blue poncho skips and runs to the front of the line. It's me! He tags us with Streetpass, "Rinaldy∞". He speaks quickly but identifies as the guy who indeed was in line since Thursday. His blue poncho is covered in SiriusXM logos and is swag from the Today Show during his wait. Now that we were close to the time he decides to cosplay. From a backpack, he produces a soaked Nintendo World shopping bag. Inside the bag is a Tanooki tail and ears which he plans to repurpose. Rounding off the ensemble is a dollar store apron hand printed with a blue leaf. "Rinaldy∞" is now Tom Nook. He poses for pics with a Pikachu special edition 3DS and a friend's Charizard special edition 3DS which was modified to work as a North American system. Tom Nook proceeds to hawk off the systems for 50,000 bells a piece. That's the cost of a house. No deal. Soon another cosplayer arrives. It's Streetpass NYC founder, Jordan White, as Mr. Resetti complete with a portable soundtrack. He playfully hassles Tom Nook and solicits for new group members. I get a pretty good surprise when my Twitter a Google+ friend, Benjamin Aquino dropped by. We snap a quick shot and get back in place. The doors finally open.

The purchase comes first. There's the option to buy either the game or the Animal Crossing special edition 3DS. I tweeted a joke once that we would soon see more 3DS system variation than games for the PS Vita. After the purchase, I walk over to a mural where everyone is invited to color a piece and help recreate Animal Crossing artwork. I color a few orange pieces of a house. I jump into a photo booth and snap some shots after nine hours of waiting on the street. I jump into another booth which is a cash cube game. The difference is that instead of cash, we catch pieces of paper with print outs of bugs. Upstairs, there's are tile matching games to represent fossil digging and fishing. For each completed activity we get a special pin. It's simple and chidlish fun, but I wind up clasping to a side rail for support. I'm wiped out at this point. Go home, says "B Nuzz." The second "go home" of the day. This time, I listen.

Then again, not everything I do is guided by wisdom. I still committed myself to a co-worker's lobster cookout in Connecticut. I make my way over to her house and enter a world of family and friends. They're not people I know right off, and of course I'm shy and tired. I end up taking a nap under the sun in a lawn chair. After that, I walk around to eavesdrop on conversations that I could possibly. They're pretty unrelatable, something about this one or that being worth 15 million and considering themselves "middle class." There was one conversation about the proper way to pay down mortgages, just rife with spots for Tom Nook jokes. I'm not in ACNL world, right now. So, I turn to the omnipresent one I can always socialize with in any given situation, Twitter. I stay at the party until 4:00pm and excuse myself to make my way back to Massachusetts.

I'm pretty tired. Formulating a blog post about my day. I'm actually pretty happy to have gone to the event. Happier still that I have new friends. It's great when you can say more about something other than I preordered it at Gamestop and got a bonus or I got it off eBay. Gamers, Nintendo fans in particular, are very adept at creating a sense of community around their passions. I'm very tired. Thinking about the next week at work. So tired, that I'm swerving on the I-95. It's time to pull over. I find the nearest rest stop and sleep.

"Kate" is actually a cool Youtuber. I'll post her video below.
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8:25 PM on 05.08.2013

Diversity in Games: In our lives, we play Metal Gear Solid

I work in a building that requires us to walk almost a mile to get to the office. It's a nice incentive to stay fit, but this week I have a hard time with that walk. I live with mild cerebral palsy; and while I like to downplay my condition, it often catches up with me. Over the last weekend, I went on a fitness binge and walked and ran for miles. The result, I limp and wince since that big push. I do this to myself, because on a weekly basis I grow tired of just relaxing and playing 3DS in bed. I need to stay active. I need to fight, or CP will catch up with me (worse than it has).

On Monday, I fake normalcy pretty well. I maintain a quick a gait as possible. I grin to hide the winces. Tuesday, my boss instant messages me. It's time to go to the cafeteria for lunch which in my condition is a bit of a haul. "I'm sorry," I message back. "I'm pretty slow today. I'm having trouble walking." My boss expresses surprise, did I hurt myself? "No, I don't really think I brought this up outside of my papers with HR, but I was born with mild cerebral palsy. I'm sorry. I just don't want to be treated differently. Don't want to be this bunch of problems."

Anna Anthropy's Dys4ia expresses a transsexual autobiography through the gameplay of Nintendo's Warioware. Reflecting on my life, I choose the stealth-action gameplay of Metal Gear Solid for my own autobiography.

While I research the topic of diversity (not just in games, but in all media), I find that we certainly break color lines. The real challenge is expressing the diversity beyond the color lines. We find comfort in the portrayal of black men as the binary Sidney Poitier or Shaft, according to Dwayne McDuffie. What about that "other"-ness, though? The conservative, the disabled, the gay, how often do we find them beyond the color line?

That's when it occurs to me how much I play Metal Gear Solid with my own life. I don't want to be a burden to my friends or family. I don't want to be treated differently, despite how different I am. I wake up each morning conscious of drone units constantly policing: who is straight, who us black or white, who is able bodied. I'm Native American and that's the one thing I concede to those drones. Otherwise, I use stealth to live. If I alert those units, how does it affect my family? My physical condition concerns my parents and friends. My sexuality concerns my whole family as an only son. I don't feel at liberty to live outside the cardboard box. So I use stealth.

This isn't new or unique to me. During early adulthood, I would commit the movie Paris is Burning to memory. One lesson I took from the movie was the meaning of "realness." For some trans community members interviewed, the challenge of life was to leave a club dressed in a way they identified and not return home bloodied.

It occurs to me how much other-ness is part of my experience. Classmates question my gait during high school and below. They wonder, why does the toe on my left shoe curl up. Why do I walk on the side of my shoes. Am I Hispanic. Am I gay, they question constantly.

So, I stuff tissue in my left shoe to fill the void of one foot too small. I monitor every step I make. I dodge their questions of where my girlfriend is with jokes. I tell them I'm indian, some don't even believe my people still exist. "You're either white or black." Doesn't matter, alert mode dies down and the drones return to their posts.

It's not always necessary for me to be in stealth mode, but it's safe. I distance myself from people who really do care about me, because if they really knew my other-ness it would make them worry. So even in front of the people who love me, I hide in my cardboard box.

Inside my box, I am strong and I can run. I laugh at jokes that no one else would get. I write treatises on the problems with the world. I'm safe and everything makes sense. I'm not always content to stay inside, however, and I often dare to give everyone a taste of my other-ness. Yet, I pull back as soon as I hear the alarm and see the drones approach.

In my game, you can attempt to survive this way. Maybe you can get that guy, and live happily ever after. Jump behind corners. Sneak and never let the drones catch you. Or maybe in my game, you can help me find a better way. That's the true goal of diversity in games for me. When we can both enjoy the experience as designer and player, collaborate and learn.   read


3:47 PM on 05.01.2013

Something Alien: When the demo is better than the game



Damion Perrine seeks various remedies against Sega and Gearbox who served up "actual gameplay" demonstrations of Aliens: Colonial Marines. In his claim against defendants, Perrine illustrates: false advertising, breach of warranties, fraud in the inducement, negligent misrepresentation and consumer law violations. According to Polygon, Perrine relies on several California civil and business codes. In addition to the discrepancy between the demo and the finished product, Perrine ropes video game critics into the matter by evoking the maligned practice of review code embargoes. This case may not get us to the bottom of whether Gearbox embezzled funds to support Borderlands and Duke Nukem. Nor will it help to solve the mystery of the missing Wii U version. Hopefully, it won't resurrect that 2012 buzzword "gamer entitlement." It should affect the video game consumer and serve as education. Caveat emptor, buyer beware, and in all cases up or down the demo certainly does not represent the final product.

Perinne asserts that a "video game's graphic engine is the 'guts' that drive the entire experience, much like a car's engine and electronic components affect its performance." In this statement, the plaintiff actually gives Sega and Gearbox a little wiggle room. Software or a program, as it relates to uniform Commercial Code is the general term for a set of instructions that direct the computer to perform various steps to carry out a particular task. In Perinne's statement he refers to the graphic engine of the game. Sega and Gearbox could contend that they in fact did deliver the same graphic engine as demonstrated by the demo. Without any particulars of development, we can refer to another game and its demo to see where a discrepancy may arise. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning demonstrated several bugs and glitches that did not appear in the final product. The reason for these glitches as given by a lead dev, was that the demo was branched off from the development of the main game by a third party with older code due to time constraints. It is possible that a third party outside of Sega and Gearbox developed either the demo or the actual final product. According to reports, the actual primary development of the single player campaign was outsourced to TimeGate Studios.

Aside from supplying the actual graphic engine, Sega and Gearbox face a breach of warranty. The implied warranty of fitness is tested by three factors: the seller's knowledge of the buyer's particular purpose for goods, the seller's knowledge of the buyer's reliance on the seller's skill and knowledge in furnishing the appropriate goods, and the buyer must in fact rely on the seller's skill and knowledge. Perinne must demonstrate that Sega and Gearbox knew that he and others involved in the class action relied upon the skill and knowledge of the developer to provide that particular set of software for a particular use. Sega and Gearbox can respond by saying that the quality of the software did not materially affect ordinary and particular use. The court would have to decide whether the discrepancy blocks consumers from stepping "into the role os a character from the 'Aliens' movie." Given the advancement of technology, a court has to consider the reasonable standard that a developer must use to immerse a player. This is going to be a tricky point to argue and the court might step away from it. A player may expect a certain level of realism in an otherwise subjective experience. That level, however, is unique and can change over time. Instead, the court may consider if the software is in working order on delivery.

The code review embargo point may not deliver the black eye or bloody nose to the practice between public relations departments or firms and the gaming media. In this case, Perinne needs to demonstrate that Sega and Gearbox actively concealed the actual quality of the final product through the embargo. Coming out of this case, we may have some insight into a particular case of concealment. At this time, consumers have unconfirmed allegations and suspicion of the process. The gaming press appears to have a love / hate relationship. Those in favor are cautious to warn consumers against early and exclusive reviews. While no particulars are confirmed, it's alleged that websites will deal with game companies for exclusives so that either party can benefit from promotion or placement. Meanwhile, those opposed to the practice question its impact on effective consumer journalism and art criticism. Game critics, it's suggested, live in bordertown between the two.

Independent of this class action, Gearbox Software forum user "HisRoyalSweetness" successfully was credited a refund from Steam for the purchase of Aliens: Colonical Marines. The process involved correspondence to the Better Business Bureau and the Washington State Attorney General.

Sega has already responded to claims of false advertising in the UK regarding Aliens Colonial Marines. They applied a disclaimer to trailers for the game after a claim submitted to the Advertising Standards Agency.

The Perrine case presents several challenges to the game industry going forward. The case affects how games and their demos are developed. It affects how games are marketed through exhibition and online media. It also personally affects consumers of gaming media perhaps leaving them more saavy and cautious of contributing to Day One sales. The challenge for the case: will a court be able to determine a reasonable amount of discrepancy between a game's demo and the final product? Perinne must be successful in demonstrating that the discrepancy affected the ordinary and particular use of the software.   read


3:21 PM on 04.29.2013

"Dragon's Crown" Sorceress' Breasts and Gaming Press Incest

There's much ado about breasts and exaggerated anatomy in the recent articles from games journos. Much of the ado is about how we are now facing such a pandemic problem of female objectification and we need to have an adult conversation on the matter. Now is the time. Yes, now. Not back when a pixellated Custer sought to exact his revenge on an equally as blocky Indian woman tied to a cactus. No. It certainly wasn't back when Samus would appear in various stages of undress based on how well the gamer performed. No. It wasn't even when Dragon's Crown was announced in 2011 as a spiritual successor to Princess Crown from 1997. No. It wasn't even time from this when Brenda Romero cried foul at "gaming enthusiast" models traipsing about a YetiZen party. No. Now is the time to put on big boy pants and sit in brown leather chairs against a backdrop of dusty volumes and smoke pipes of tobacco and talk about the price of tea and China and... oh yes, boobs.

It's not even about boobs. The men in these critiques of female objectification revel in the sexualization. They plaster huge header images of the Sorceress and her jugs. They pass along animations of jiggling and gyration. They condemn these images as disgusting examples of the prurient. "When, Gods? When?" goes out the cry. "When will our sacred video game industry grow up and out of this rubbish? When can I play an adventure game in front of my daughter and not feel like a skeezoid." Surely, these images are old and tired. We've had enough in the 1970's. Can't we move on to something more positive and wholesome. These guys, they're like the townie sewing circle of the Elvira movie. They stamp out anything dirty and politically incorrect, but they do so for the approval of each other and the audience. I assure you, when the keyboard and monitor shutdown, these guys return to a world along the lines of Peyton Place. It's commendable to be an upstanding pillar of morals, but don't go throwing water on somebody else's fun. It's probably best to let people fight for themselves. Women and gays are speaking out on the issues, but it's these men that rush to the banner and wave it proudly like Old Glory.

To me, the maturation of the industry is one that will naturally occur. We can't expect every game to be the work of American Zoetrope. Not everything will look as good or have the depth of story that these guys want. We're going to have a bit of John Waters every now and then, and that's OK. In fact, the true adulthood of the games industry is where the American Zoetrope games can stand side-by-side with the John Waters games. It's an adulthood where everyone has: access, representation, and a voice.

Personally, I'm disappointed by some of the gay men who have spoken up on the subject. This is exaggeration in artwork. It's something we revel in, the absurd and over the top. I feel like in our quest for equality we've adapted to a puritan set of ideals. We shouldn't be pointing fingers and shaming George Kamitani for his art. This is so, because we would then turn around and flip on Drag Race to scream, "Werk!" and the top of our lungs. Or maybe not, but then why would that be? It's all in good fun and comedic and satirical. Call no drag queen a misogynist, cause she's already walked more than a mile in high heels!

The real bluster, however, is centered around this incestuous nature of the gaming press. Why even in this blog post, I am explicitly fornicating verbally with my cousins once or twice removed. We have such a predilection to report on each other during slow news days. And yes, there is a place for healthy trash talking among competition. What I don't like is the invention of an issue when everyone else is discussing the new hotness. As I said, Dragon's Crown was announced in 2011 and the Sorceress has not (thankfully) had a boob job since then. In today's discussion, one blogger decides to educate his audience on the "real" issues at hand. in the midst of that educational presentation, he launches an allegation that the artist must be a 14-year old boy. This allegation instigates some playful ribbing. so, the artist and president of the gaming company decides to respond in kind. Maybe you prefer muscle men over big breasts, implies a Facebook post. Ah! But here comes blog number #2 in Phoenix Wright style, "OBJECTION!" You say my colleague may like muscle men, blogger #2 smirks and pats a print out with the back of his hand. Don't you mean that you think my colleague is gay and by gay I mean "BAD," blogger #2 strikes j'accuse pose. His arm outstretched and with a piercing gaze, blogger #2 holds his daughter in the other arms. She is in full regalia a la Cosette from Les Mis. Cue dramatic chipmunk.

Oh why can't we just grow up? Can't we develop more than two reactions to cleavage in games. The first reaction is to cover our mouths and snicker. The other reaction is to run like a horse from a burning barn. It's not the boobs, boys. It's how you perceive them. Women don't just dress this way to arouse men. For arousal of a partner, women can have relationships with more than just men. A woman can also feel confident and own her sexuality. the image of a sorceress conveys to me that sexuality is a weapon in this woman's arsenal. Or wait... could it be something else? Could it be that sexualization and objectification along these lines flies in the face of your pre-conceived beauty myth? Could it be that the outrage against big breasts is some veiled attack against full-bodied women? I think I should save that topic for some other time.   read


10:41 PM on 02.10.2013

The Curious Importance of the Gaymer Identity

A gaymer is defined by Perkins Coie and the Electronic Frontier Foundation as a gamer who also identifies as part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. The characteristics include: social and political marginalization, pride, dignity and a common purpose & activity. By individual accounts, gaymers became aware of this common purpose by playing online games and feeling discomfort by hurtful language expressed by other players. Despite the language, the gamer community contends that it is inclusive of all. While this is technically true, cultural norms within the gamer community are a challenge for any who self-identify as part of the LGBT community. The gaymer group identity is a promise to these individuals of a safe haven from: heterosexism, sexism, ageism, racism and general bigotry. Effective community leadership ensures that this is so. The roots of these ideologies, however, differ from the real world understanding.

There are several prominent social and message board sites relevant to the gaming public. Somethingawful.com #8,179
NeoGAF.com #3,921
4chan.org #901
reddit.com #132

A few sites provide online communities relevant to the gaymer community:
gaymerconnect.com #6,839,547
gaymer.org #2,233,471
gaygamer.net #309,357
(Rank# out of 30 million by webstatsdomain.com)

Since 2000, self-identifying members of the gaymer community relied on online communities to build a social network of online contacts. These contacts would normally carry over into multiplayer sessions. Gaymer community sites often host chat and discussion for their own guilds and clans, or groups of players that assemble for a common goal in a massively multiplayer online game. These sites host users that often take advantage of the anonymous quality of the Internet. While this a boon for those avoiding explicit persecution, anonymity does not preclude offensive language or content.

In “Dude, you’re a F-g”, C.J. Pascoe describes the kind of language used in online gaming forums as “gender policing.” Young boys will use the term “f-g” as a disciplinary mechanism to regulate others in terms of sexuality and gender, according to Pascoe. This activity is divided along lines of race as cultural norms and ideals of masculinity & heterosexuality will differ. While the study focused primarily on young males in high school, a similar situation occurs during activities related to online gaming and online gaming discussion. 4Chan and Reddit members engage in these activities as well. The gender policing on these sites is explicitly distinct from systemized homophobia. Members that engage in gender policing are not exclusively heterosexual or male. In fact, individual accounts suggest that members that use gender policing are liberal in acceptance of homosexuality. Issues of gender in gaming discussion include relationships with females and the “trap” meme. The trap, as defined by knowyourmeme.com, is a young male who is indistinguishable from a female who may entice otherwise heterosexual males into relations. Claims of misogyny, while not exclusive to the online gaming community, have caught the attention of organizations like Southern Poverty Law Center.

In order to define social and political marginalization, I first looked at the practice of self-identification in the United States. In 1997, the Executive Office of the President Office of Management and Budget announced revised government-wide standards for reporting data on race and ethnicity. These revisions were a response to the responsibilities the government assumed to enforce civil rights laws. Furthermore, these revised standards allowed for individuals to self-identify as multiple races and ethnicities. Before these standards, less than 2% of the population self-identified with multiple backgrounds. Checks for this self-identification relied upon input from both the individual or “respondent” and the data collector or “observer.” The Office of Management and Budget stated that these categories were social-political and independent of genetic, biological or anthropological qualities of the respondent. Multiple race reporting was opposed by several state governments and agencies and certain tribal governments. Despite opposition by tribal governments, Census data from 2000 and 2010 noted a 26.7% increase in the Native American population.

In 2010, the National Center for Transgender Equality released a bulletin describing the Census and its impact on the transgender population. In the bulletin, the NCTE suggests individuals report the gender (male or female) that they most identify with further noting that “transgender” is not yet an option in self-identifying gender in census data. On the matter of sexuality, the bulletin notes that the Census reports all same-sex couples as “unmarried partners.” With the passage of the Matthew Shepard act by Congress, the definition of hate crimes extended to those committed on the basis of perceived sexual orientation. While not evidence of the support of self-identification of sexuality or gender as a social-political construct, the act is an acknowledgment of the violence and marginalization imposed externally.

The New York Times reports an emerging trend in younger individuals who traditionally identify as being part of the LGBT community. The articles introduces a new rubric, LGBTQIA. Q defined as “queer” or questioning. I defined as “intersex,” an interviewee later expresses a similar concept as “bi-gender” or being interchangeably male and female. A defined as “ally” (friend of the political cause) or “asexual” expressing an absence of sexual attraction. The article notes that the trend among younger individuals is to view identity as “distinct from sexual orientation.” The goal of this expansion of the identity, as the article notes, is the upending of gender roles of the binary male and female.

Personally, I am a member for a federally recognized Native American. This group identity provides for pride, dignity and self-determination. Federally recognized tribes have a nation-to-nation relationship with the federal government. This means that the incorporated bodies of tribes have distinct governments, specific history and hold political influence over the membership. Each tribal government, representative of the will of the membership, determines the criteria for membership in the tribe. This is usually done through a calculation of descent known as “blood quantum.” Other types of individuals include members of tribes not recognized by the federal government yet recognized by the state government. Other individuals may not be enrolled in a tribe; yet, they are accepted as part of the community by having recognized familial ties. In each of these cases, observer, either a member of the larger community or outside observer, and respondent input serve as checks for self-identification. Questions like, “where did you grow up?”; “Who are your grandparents?”; “Do you know members of other tribes in your area?”; or “Do you speak your language?” are commonly used as mechanisms to verify the identity of the individual. This method is similar in concept to gender policing employed by young males; yet, different in execution. The purpose of the policing by members of the group identity, from the view of this member, is the defense of the identity from dilution. Dilution means the loss of value or meaning. Dilution of an identity leads to confusion as to who qualifies as a member of the group identity. This defense of the group identity does not preclude someone from exercising the expressly personal right of self-identification. It does affect, however, the group’s acceptance of the self-identifying individual. Furthermore, the policing of an identity by a group leads to creation of a class system of identity. For example, the gamer community is a group of individual with a common activity. Details of that activity, “What systems do you own?”; “What games do you play?”; or “What is your gamertag?” help the group determine the class of member. In this context, gamers can be “hardcore” or “casual” which signify an individual’s devotion to the activity. Furthermore, protection by the group from dilution of the identity functions as a defense against harmful stereotypes. In the context of Native Americans, the group identity is reduced to caricatures in the promotion of professional sports mascots. The NAACP resolved to renounce these mascots as they affect the dignity and pride of the group.

Marginalization as defined by Black’s Law is, “the process of according less importance to something or someone moved away from the inner workings of the group. A social phenomenon of excluding a minority, subgroup, or undesirables by ignoring their needs, desires, and expectations.” In terms of a systemized practice of marginalization, I turn to the statement by Zora Neale Hurston in Their Eyes Were Watching God. In the book Hurston states that the black woman is the “mule of the world.” This idea is backed up with the qualities of: worked to death, ruined with mistreatment, and capable of incredible strength empowering her to bear impossible loads. Stacey Patton in a review for the Wellesley Centers for Women notes an assertion by black feminist think, Michele Wallace. That assertion was that the mule image and a subsequent image of the black superwoman resulted in a “conspiracy of silence about black women’s disenfranchisement and exploitation, within both black communities and the larger white-supremacist society.” This stereotype was a mechanism in the social and political marginalization of the black woman. With the definition of marginalization in mind, I assume the idea of privilege is a pass closer to or into the inner workings of society.

So then, who are the “gaymers?” By expressly personal right of self-identification, anyone can assume the identity of a gaymer. By assuming that identity, the individual assumes: political and social marginalization, a common purpose and activity, pride and dignity. By definition, the person also takes on the identity of someone associated with the LGBT community. As shown in the New York Times, the emerging trend works to expand the identity beyond the binary confines of male and female and into something distinct from sexual orientation. Still, we can assume all gay gamers, lesbian gamers, bisexual gamers and transgender gamers are gamers. Can we assume that all gay gamers, lesbian gamers, bisexual gamers and transgender gamers are gaymers? And if they are not gaymers than do they not share in the social and political marginalization, common purpose and activity, pride or dignity? If one does qualify to be part of the group, by what process does that person opt out?

Identity is the quality of “sameness.” The axiom is that “birds of a feather flock together.” Whether as an individual who shares in a common activity or as someone who identifies along the same lines of orientation or gender, there exists a commonality between the members of the gaymer community. In 2002, Rick Gage started Gamers Experimentations as a community for gaymers. It was a subdomain of his own web hub experimentations.org which provided members of the LGBT community an online space to discuss various facets of pop culture. In 2003, Chris Vizzini started Gaymer.org. Vizzini took his case to internet newsgroups regarding the creation of his service. In the news logs of Gaymer.org Vizzini writes:

“A lot of people replied to my newsgroup posts saying what's the point, what difference does it make if you are gay or not, you are just further separating yourself from mainstream society...gamers are gamers. This is not so. I've been to many sites where a reply to someone's post will be "You suck, f-ggot" or the like. I'm not a militant gay person either, I don't get all up in arms about the word f-g, but it does get a bit tiresome. It's not even so much about the use of the word (I use it myself)...it's the mindset of the people who use it in that way.

“Hopefully this site will evolve into something where people get together and play locally. This is Atlanta and there some homophobic people here. Personally, I'd rather not risk getting some nutcase who wants to crack my skull cracked open. Knowing there are risks like that, wouldn't you want something like this if you were gay? HOWEVER, this isn't only for gay people...I don't know why people are not getting this cuz I posted it every time in the newsgroups. If you are str8, bi whatever...I have no problem at all with you coming on here. Would be great as a matter of fact, but know that there will be gay people at game functions.”

Ultimately, the importance of the gaymer community lies in its common purpose. It is a curious rationale that does not explain any perceived separation. The common purpose is this, “I don’t care about any of this. I just want to talk about video games.” The gaymer is an individual that while a part of the gamer community does not want to waste precious time in-game explaining an identity. The gaymer does not want to waste a wall of text in forums on essays as to why a phrase or meme is offensive. The sameness of the gaymer identity is a promise that like-minded individuals will promote discussion and keep thing fun for the group. That, in the end, is the importance and need for “gaymers.”

Mules of the World
http://www.wcwonline.org/Women-s-Review-of-Books-Jan/Feb-2011/the-mules-of-the-world

Misogyny: The Sites
http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2012/spring/misogyny-the-sites

Help Save Gaymer - Erase the Hate
http://www.gaymer.org/forum/topic/28273-help-save-gaymer-erase-the-hate/

gaymer.org - news 11.7.06
http://web.archive.org/web/20061107091352/http://www.gaymer.org/news.html

WELCOME TO G/E — THE GAYMERS COMMUNITY
http://web.archive.org/web/20040122041240/http://gamers.experimentations.org/boards/portal.php

Happy Birthday Gaymer.org
http://www.gaymer.org/index.html/_/site-news/happy-birthday-gaymerorg-r24

How the 2010 Census Impacts Transgender People.
http://transequality.org/Resources/Census0309.pdf

Revisions to the Standards for the Classification of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity
http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/fedreg_1997standards

PROVISIONAL GUIDANCE ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE 1997 STANDARDS FOR FEDERAL DATA ON RACE AND ETHNICITY
http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/assets/information_and_regulatory_affairs/re_guidance2000update.pdf

Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act
http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/National_Defense_Authorization_Act_for_Fiscal_Year_2010/Division_E

1999 NAACP RESOLUTION IN OPPOSITION TO NATIVE AMERICAN MASCOTS
http://www.aistm.org/naacp_1999_resolution.htm

Generation LGBTQIA
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/10/fashion/generation-lgbtqia.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Petition to Cancel Gaymer Trademark
https://www.eff.org/document/petition

"Dude, You're a Fag"
http://www.visibleworld.net/cupajane/articles_people/pascoe.pdf

(I couldn't get the source blogpost of the Reddit and 4Chan gender policing past the community blogs spambot. Trust me: it is a thing)   read


10:43 PM on 02.05.2013

Why the petition to cancel "gaymer" trademark may not be in your best interest

While I support the usage of "gaymer" by the community as an identity that is inclusive of gamers regardless of gender or orientation, I feel the petition by Perkins Coie and the Electronic Frontier Foundation in representation of /r/gaymers to cancel the "gaymer" trademark to not be in the best interest of the relevant public.

Gamer is defined by Merriam Webster as someone who is game or someone who plays games, specifically computer and video games. The definition of "gaymer" according to the petition submitted by Perkins Coie and the Electronic Frontier Foundation is as follows, "is commonly used to refer to a gamer who, in addition to considering him or herself a member of the gamer community, also self-identifies with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered community." While the petition continues with this definition of "gaymer," the actual supporting documentation only states that gaymer is "a homosexual gamer." Homosexual being defined as a person having desires for or intercourse with the same sex. The supporting documentation provides an exclusive definition of the word gaymer. Yet, the petition carries on with an assumed definition that includes all LGBTQ community members. This is a bit misleading and is the first example of how the petition to challenge the gaymer trademark does a disservice to all parties involved.

Urban Dictionary is a website started in 1999, and allows users to post definitions of "slang words and phrases," according to the Wikipedia entry. "Submissions are regulated by volunteer editors and rated by site visitors." The highest rated definition of the word "gaymer" was submitted on July 27, 2005. Each of the sentences to show use of the word are in the context of referring to men. Two definitions submitted prior to the highest rated definition imply a pejorative use of the word. Another use of the word explicitly names the website gaymer.org. A date ordered list of definitions follows:

3-2-04:One who believes him/herself to be a gamer, but infact is a homosexual person. Thus making them gay + gamer = gaymer.

4-17-04: one who goes to www.gaymer.org

6-4-05: An immature and innacurate insult of a gamer. Commonly used by lonely, fat virgins who have nothing better to do than insult people who play video games. Anyone found using this word should be sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

7-27-05: a gay person who is also a gamer

4-6-06: An individual who is totally obsessed with video games. Almost driven to the point where games are the only thing that matters emotionally, physically, and sexually.

3-16-07: a homosexual who enjoys video games, sometimes casually or sometimes hardcore.

3-30-10: A gamer who pretends to be a girl when he plays games online with real people.

7-23-11: 1) When a gay guy tries to pick up other men. This is his courting style 2) When a HUGE scrub plays an online videogame such as Call of Duty and sucks major ass. He is usually a fag, gets a few kills if any, and wont shut up the whole time. They also tend to have a very high pitched voice and shriek excitedly over stupid things such as almost killing someone or getting an assist.

3-2-12: A gay gamer.

The petition states that public use of the term "gaymer" began in "at least the early 1990s, when a growing group of individuals within the gaming community began to use it to identify themselves." While not included in the petition two sources of the word "gaymer" are referenced in the Wikipedia article. The first is a usenet post in alt.personals. The poster is a 20 year old white male who defines "gaymer" as a gay role-playing enthusiast. While the first role-playing video game, Dungeon, was released in 1975; it might be possible that the use of the word meant games played on table tops. A second example supports this definition as a Yahoo group started in 2000 states enthusiasm for several forms of non-electronic games. Video games are listed last illustrating that this was not the group's primary focus. The group, however, does state the membership includes, "G/L/Bi/Tv/Tr." Transvestite and transexual at the end, presumably.

The petition contends that the prevalence of the word "gaymer" grew as "video gaming culture" grew. There is no definition for video gaming culture in the petition. We can not assume what this means. A few possibilities exist: rise in sales figures, more individuals identifying as gamers, or a societal reliance on electronic entertainment. The prevalence of "gaymer," however, is tied to this implied growth of video game culture. To reference an increase in video game sales, Wikipedia hosts a list of top selling video game consoles including handheld consoles. The two top selling consoles are the Nintendo DS with 153.67 million released in 2004 and the Playstation 2 with 153.6 million released in 2000. With this in mind, it is possible although not explicit in the petition that video game culture grew within the window of 2000 and 2004. But even within that timeframe, there is no causal relationship between growth in "video game culture" and the supposed prevalence of the word "gaymer."

In 2006, a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign sociological study focused on the profile of a "gaymer." The word was used in the survey to refer to a class of gaming (video game-centric) enthusiasts. The survey questioned a sample of gamers regarding their feeling on the term gaymer. The word was defined in the survey as "used to describe gay and lesbian video gamers."

Very positive 6.5%
Generally positive 13%
Neutral 39.1%
Generally negative 17.6%
Very negative 11.1%
Unsure 12.7%

"Among the respondents who had an opinion, the term "gaymer" was generally viewed as slightly negative with the greatest negativity among heterosexuals. With homosexuals the term was viewed only slightly positively. In general, it appears that the term is not popular, regardless of sexual orientation."

The focus of the study established a class of gamers based on sexual orientation. "Tiny Dancer" wrote an article on GayGamer.net with remarks on the survey's reults, "I must admit, I'm pleased to see that - I've never liked "gaymer" because not only does it look kind of hokey to my eye, it's impossible to speak the word aloud without clarification; and any word that only works in print is fundamentally flawed, especially if it's to be the rallying cry or self-identifier for a group of people who might want to, you know, say it out loud." The article is dated February 26, 2007.

Assuming the growth in "video gaming culture" started in the window of 2000-2004, the petition contends that the prevalence of "gaymer" happened concurrently. According to the Univeristy of Illinois survey and following remarks within the relevant media, however, the word did not catch on as a self-identifier for a class of gaming enthusiasts by 2007.

In 2006, several other artcles were published to GayGamer.net using the term "gaymer." One article links to another source of the definition of gaymer as a homosexual gaymer. One article posted in November 2006 referred to Gaymer as a proper noun explicitly for the site gaymer.org. Founder Chris Vizzini was interviewed by the Australian publication, "the Age."

GayGamer does not use "gaymer" in a headline for an article until May 8, 2007. "'Gaymer' Trademarked?" written by "Fruit Brute" describes a spirited internal debate at gaymer.org. The article goes on to say, "Chris Vizzini has applied for a trademark of the word 'gaymer.' It should be stated that Chris is not trademarking the word in a capacity that would make it unusable by anyone, but rather protecting its use from other online entities that might seek to make profit from his hard work and rightfully so. Having started up this site out of my own pocket, I wouldn't want anyone infringing on my property either." The article is supportive of the trademark, but also respects that some people would feel very strongly about the matter. "Gaymer" is not used as a term in a headline for the rest of 2007.

2007 and 2008 also saw at least two televised reports on the Gaymer community. One was produced by Vasilis Siskos for Current TV.
http://gaygamer.net/2008/09/gaymers_documentary_short_prem.html
The other aired as an MTV news segment filmed during GDC in 2007. http://www.mtv.com/videos/news/143098/gaymers-pride.jhtml
The videos featured members from the three predominant online communities servicing gay gamers: Gamers Experimentations, Gaymer.org and GayGamer.net. Clips involved footage on online harassment of gamers as well as footage of meetups.

Since 2008, Dr. Adrienne Shaw of Temple University published several works on the subjects of gender and sexuality within video gaming culture. Her work "What is Video Game Culture?" was the most downloaded article of SAGE Journal in 2010. In this article Dr. Shaw states, "Defining gaming culture as something distinct and separate from a constructed mainstream culture encourages us to only study those who identify as gamers, rather than more dispersed gaming. That is, we should look at video games in culture rather than games as culture. Video games permeate education, mobile technologies, museum displays, social functions, family interactions, and workplaces. They are played by many if not all ages, genders, sexualities, races, religions, and nationalities." Dr. Shaw also published works specifically on gaymers or gay gaming.

The petition neither lists the academic research on the community nor recognizes the distinctiveness of the three predominant gay gamer or gaymer sites.

The petition refers to Reddit Inc as an online social news and entertainment website. The User Agreement hosted on reddit.com contradicts by stating that Reddit Inc is the Service Provider and reddit.com is the Website. A blog post entitled, "How reddit works" defines reddit as not a single community but rather an engine for creating communities. A subreddit is then defined as a class of online community. Since 2008, users of reddit.com or redditors are able to create user controlled subreddits. "How reddit works" describes subreddits as a free market. The creator of the subreddit is the first moderator and subscriber. The subreddit's popularity within the meta-community of reddit.com is then based upon the number of subscribers. Any redditor can subscribe to any subreddit regardless of sexual orientation, gender, race or nationality. Currently /r/gaymers has approximately 22,000 readers or subscribers. The number of active users, however, hover around 100 depending on time of day. The creator, first moderator and first subscriber of /r/gaymers is the redditor MisterGhost.

On the matter of trademarks the reddit User Agreement reads as follows, "You are responsible for ensuring that any graphics, text, photographs, images, video, audio or other material you provide to or post on the Website, including without limitation in bulletin boards, forums, personal ads, chats or elsewhere, does not violate the copyright, trademark, trade secret or any other personal or proprietary rights of any third party or is provided or posted with the permission of the owner(s) of such rights."

The identity of the Petitioner in the petition is /r/gaymers as an unincorporated association. No parties from the association are named in the petition. Petitioner is described as "an association of gaymers who subscribe to the subreddit." Despite the inclusive nature of subscriptions, this description implies exclusion from the class based upon identity as a non-gaymer. The definition of gaymer is repeated in reference to the class, but this definition again is not supported by the attached exhibits.

The details of the registration are a matter of public record. The remark on distinctiveness, however is curious. An entry on Urban Dictionary referencing the registrant's site was made in 2004. The registrant was interviewed for his contribution to the community outside of the geographical market. Membership from gaymer.org interacted with membership from Gamers Experimentations and GayGamer and footage of that interaction was televized during the time of the application. GayGamer.net while acknowledging the internal debate on gaymer.org showed some signs of support for the website and the trademark.

The registrant of the trademark sent a case and desist letter to Reddit Inc as per the procedure prescribed in the reddit User Agreement.

Here is how the petition describes the reaction:
"For Petitioner’s members, many of whom have been politically and/or socially marginalized, the term gaymer represents a community based on a common purpose and activity. They are proud to be members of that community, and were surprised that Registrant claimed ownership of the common term that describes it."

Here is the quote from /r/gaymers creator MisterGhost:
"Gaymers could be banned and deleted by tomorrow, please FUCKING READ!

Ladies and gentlemen, this is incredibly important, and quite frankly too important for a TLDR, so please read.

Someone wants to take gaymers from us. A cease and desist letter has been sent to Reddit. It would seem that the owner of gaymer.org is an incredible douchenozzle and has decided that we somehow are infringing upon his right to run a very subpar blog. Though Gaymercon seems to be A-OK. It seems pretty fucked up that they seem to be ok using the same GAYMER name, even though we aren’t making money. See what it is, is that this motherfucker from gaymer.org is sending reddit a cease and desist letter that we are using a name that he had trademarked in 2007 though whoever gave him that trademark is clearly not the brightest lightbulb in the box. It is a general term, not really sure how we fucking come into play."

While the language the creator of /r/gaymers uses is strong, this was not the first time he spoke up that year on controversies facing his online community. Here is a quote in reference to an incident involving redditors identifying as trans:
"I have no idea what transphobia, biphobia, cisism, or even racism mean it seems. I see these words thrown around a lot, and clearly I must not know the actual definition, because I thought you were either afraid of something or hated something, by showing that through actions of hatred, malice, or genuine terror rather than social faux-pas or a word. I guess I was wrong."

The argument behind the petition is that the mark is generic or descriptive. The trademark does not refer to a specific class of individual. The trademark does not make mention of sexual orientation or gender. The trademark does describe a specific service, an online community. Black's Law Dictionary defines a generic mark as the following, "A legally unprotected, yet distinguishing mark, in the form of a symbol or a word. This mark definitively categorizes and defines a type of product or service. Some examples are name we all know well: Vaseline, Cellophane, Trampoline and Yoyo. Due to generic usage by consumers and competitors it refers to trademark names of goods and services that lost their trademark protection properties over time." Black's Law Dictionary defines a descriptive name as, "A company name or image that describes the good offered."

Personally, I do not believe the petition best serves the intended party. In fact, there is a fundamental misunderstanding of the gaymer community demonstrated in the petition. The petition is also exclusive of /r/gaymers' non-gaymer subcriber base. Generic usage implies that a specific class or goods or services is commonly referred to by a generic or descriptive. I do not agree that "gaymers" qualify as a good or service. I support the usage by the community as an identity, and I support the expansion of definition to be inclusive of lasbian, bisexual, trans and cis gamers. The usage of the term as a community identity, however, is irrelevant to its usage as the identity of a single website.

Links to references (in no particular order)
What is DESCRIPTIVE NAME?
http://thelawdictionary.org/descriptive-name/

What is a GENERIC MARK?
http://thelawdictionary.org/generic-mark/

The only post I will make concerning drama
http://www.reddit.com/r/gaymers/comments/oroct/the_only_post_i_will_make_concerning_drama/

Gaymers could be banned and deleted by tomorrow, please FUCKING READ!
http://www.reddit.com/r/gaymers/comments/zmrfh/gaymers_could_be_banned_and_deleted_by_tomorrow/

How reddit works
http://blog.reddit.com/2011/09/how-reddit-works.html

reddit.com - useragreement
http://www.reddit.com/wiki/useragreement

TALKING TO GAYMERS: QUESTIONING IDENTITY, COMMUNITY AND MEDIA REPRESENTATION
http://www.westminster.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/182116/005.-Talking-to-Gaymers-Adrienne-Shaw.pdf

Putting the Gay in Games
http://www.academia.edu/1013626/Putting_the_Gay_in_Games

What Is Video Game Culture? Cultural Studies and Game Studies
http://gac.sagepub.com/content/5/4/403.full.pdf+html?ijkey=uNbpkH8XzAZUY&keytype=ref&siteid=spgac&utm_source=eNewsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1J22

"Gaymers" Documentary Short Premiers On Current TV
http://gaygamer.net/2008/09/gaymers_documentary_short_prem.html

"Gaymer" Trademarked?
http://gaygamer.net/2007/05/gaymer_trademarked.html

Gaymer Founder Interviewed Down Under
http://gaygamer.net/2006/11/gaymer_founder_interviewed_dow.html

Gamer Terms Include Gaymer
http://gaygamer.net/2006/08/gamer_terms_include_gaymer.html

Yahoo Groups gaymers
http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/gaymers/

Wikipedia - Gaymer
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaymer

Urban Dictionary - gaymer
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=gaymer

"Gaymer Survey" Results Summary
http://web.archive.org/web/20070228110041/http://www.jasonrockwood.com/results.html

Gay Gamer Survey Spills The Beans
http://gaygamer.net/2007/02/gay_gamer_survey_spills_the_be.html

Petition to Cancel
https://www.eff.org/sites/default/files/filenode/PetitiontoCancel.PDF   read


8:13 AM on 09.12.2012

A modest proposal from a member of Gaymer.org to the members of /r/gaymers

Disclaimer: Although I am a long time member of Gaymer.org, I was not asked by Chris vizzini to write this appeal. Nor do I even know if the situation is peaceful or tenuous enough to receive an appeal. I just know that I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about the issue of naming another online community "gaymer."

I am Neshoba. Chances are if there was a message board for gay gamers, I have held an account there. I originally found the community by doing research for a school presentation. at the time, I attended Full Sail and we were tasked with presenting a topic publicly for a game writing class. The topic I chose was "gay friendly game design." My research lead me to the predominately gay gaming site: Gamers Experimentations. I signed up for the site and amassed a group of friends from the small, close-knit community. This was in 2004.

At the same time, another community emerged named Gaymer.org. I was initially apprehensive to join the site. In a professional atmosphere, any discussion of sexuality could get you flagged. But, that apprehensiveness disappeared when Gamers Experimentations went down after a hacker attacked us. In the weeks that followed, many of us crossed the border between (and the Simpsons metaphor was used) Springfield and Shelbyville. And to my surprise, I found no less love in Gaymer.org than I found in Gamers Experimentations.

We progressed. We stood and were counted during a survey of the gaymer community. In 2007, members of Gamers Ex, Gaymer.org and GayGamer appeared in a news piece on MTV. And since then, we have advanced further into games development and journalism.

Now, the discussion we hold today is very much the same discussion we held back in 2007. Personally, I did my fair share of stirring the pot. I drug in the founder of Gamers Ex and the eyes of GayGamer to be very critical of the Gaymer trademark. I understand the argument of allowing one person to hold control over a word that describes an entire community. I was staunchly opposed then, and I am opposed now. However, allowing one person to hold control over a word in the connotation of describing a community was never the issue. It only pertains to the naming of an online community.

Flash forward, and the community at large has adopted the identity of "gaymer." Chris has held no objection to the adoption by the commuinity and has even address redditors as "fellow gaymers." Still, as it was in 2007 not everybody is happy being known as a gaymer. Some in our community see it as too political or not inclusive enough for all the members of the LGBTQ gaming community. Some would just rather be known as gamers. And for the large part, everybody just wants to get back to talking about games.

If anything positive emerged out of the discussion in 2007 and similarly the one today, then it was the fact that we came together and got to know each other better. Reddit is fantastic and brilliant. The evidence of a gaymer community in Usenet posts dating back to 1991 is fascinating. And it proves to me that conceivably gay gamers has existed since the first video game was crowd sourced at MIT. We are no longer "not aware" of each other's pockets of the gaymer community. we now acknowledge where we've been.

Going forward, I see a change in the video game industry. I believe that EA's vision of a future where games are more services than products is closer to reality. I've chosen to focus on web development as I see a broader future for browser and mobile apps. Games will enjoy more DLC and User Generated Content. So, here's where we are all thrilled that our community has grown exponentially. We need you. We need you to continue on as gaymers and carry on from us the legacy we've held in development and journalism. We need coders and community managers, and we're willing to help you all become as brilliant as we know you to be.

In closing, I want to leave you with an image from my childhood and possibly most of yours. In "The Neverending Story", a young boy seeks refuge from bullies in a dusty shop. He discovers a book that follows the adventures of another young boy who's basically a counterpart or avatar. A malignance threatens the land. It's discovered that the only cure is for the Childlike Empress to receive a new name from an outsider. The malignance, The Nothing, spreads and tears apart a world of "human fantasy". Finally, the young reader picks a name but seemingly too late, because all that's left of the wondrous world is a single grain of sand.

For the sake of hyperbole and melodrama, I stand before you in the dark with a single grain of sand. That's all that's left of our community. I leave you with this proposal: make a wish, pick a name. Know that when you do, you should pick a name that's inclusive of all LGBTQ gamers. Know that when you pick a name, the community will live on in you. It will live on in your dreams and wishes. Some day, when our community has once again grown exponentially, we will look back at this moment and say: we gathered our history and looked to our future. And we will all move on, together.   read


6:33 PM on 01.30.2012

Improvement: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash-Up 2



I spent 15 minutes looking up synonyms for "unruly" before I stumbled across "Outfoxies."

No one will apologize for TMNT Smash Up. The fighter borne of a Cumulus Derivatus cloud was drenched with "Smash Bros." and "Ninja Turtle" raindrops. The game was credited as the imaculate conception of Game Arts sans the seed of Sora Ltd. It nestled between "real" Smash Bros. and a real turtle-power fighter. A few matches left this blogger with one thought, "kinda makes me want to play Brawl." At the same time, the word "improvement" suggests a wish list for a hypothetical sequel. If only there was a better roster, maybe then it would be a complete package. If only the game wasn't so achingly derivative of Smash Bros, maybe then it would hold a 13+ year-old's attention.

I've done far too much homework on this subject. Like most of my aging Gen-X hipster compatriots, I can trace my deep affection for games back to the same time as my deep affection for turtles. I cried manly tears to the tune of the Brawl opening's Latin chant. I wanted to cry those same manly tears for turtles, but the Wii version of the game gave me Rabbids in lieu of Usagi Yojimbo and gave me a generic stage hazard croc in lieu of Leatherhead. We had three versions of "Tournament Fighters" generations ago that featured more variety in characters. Universes collided between cartoon franchises, Mirage and Archie comic books. Brawl blew the horn and broke the seventh seal. That same collision that happened in Tournament Fighters should have happened again.

The problem with Smash Up as a derivation of Brawl is actually more a fact of its history. Smash Bros. can trace its roots back to the Namco arcade game, "Outfoxies." Ninja Turtles, (OMG Francine, Ninja Turtles) how does one begin to unravel that multiverse and find the "Prime Turtles"? Oh, that was done and reconciled in the "Turtles Forever" movie. Ninja Turtles as it existed in Smash-Up is a derivation of the 2007 CGI movie Ninja Turtles which was a derivation of the 2003 kids 'toon which was a derivation of the 1987 kids 'toon and the 1984 comic book. If nothing is new under the sun, then Smash Up was less a celebration of turtles and more an elaboration on the plot of the Michael Keaton film "Multiplicity."

So, we've brought the noise, brought the rant, brought the litany of flaws. If we don't offer constructive comments to improve a game in a sequel, then we are feeding into the problem.

Character Roster

A #1, top of the list, king of the heap, we want Usagi Yojimbo. Do we even care at this point if he plays like a Leonardo clone? Yes, a samurai is not a ninja and ne'er the 'twain shall meet. Give us the long floppy ears and blue kimono that we deserve not Ubisoft's blessed Rabbids (may they rave in Hell).

From Usagi's presence, I would infer the broader issue of including characters from multiple universes. We only need four turtles (maybe Slash, maybe Metal Head... ugh, Venus...). Just skin the core cast if we're playing lip service to Turtle-Manhattan Historia. The one big success of Brawl, however, was bringing together the video game multiverse and threading a continuity not attempted since "Captain N".

Wingnut and Screwloose should stand shoulder to shoulder with Fugitoid. Florida-born-yet-somehow-Cajun Leatherhead should slug it out with Tokka and Rahzar. And a turtles game without Rocksteady and Bebop is a miserable creature indeed.

Stages

I'm a fan of Turtle-Manhattan, but the Technodrome is where it's at in video games. Let us hear the roar of Triceraton crowds from the center of a Battle Arena. Send us on an inter-galactic and inter-dimensional romp atop the head of Cudley the Cowlick.

It's pure aesthetics. Character models and backdrops keep this game from being a "real" Smash Bros. (read, "love letter to a franchise"). As a derivative, Smash Up would stand out as a kind of chicken-flavor (turtle-flavor?) among all the packs of metaphorical beef ramen. Hell, Namco finally squeezed out an "Outfoxies" derivative themselves in "Tales Vs."   read


12:12 AM on 09.25.2010

I Downloaded Arcania

Welcome to a day in the life of a simple shepherd. The original slacker Little Boy Blue sits reclining on his ramshackle abode. Up walks Ivy. She's a broad shouldered wench with the face of a dog's rear end. "My dad would like to have a talk with you." Defiantly, the shepherd jams on the Y button to speed through an otherwise banal dialogue. A quest! You must go to town and talk to Ivy's dad. But, no. Little Boy Blue has other plans, and this is how I spent the time with the Arcania Gothic 4 demo.

Given the control layout. I noticed that the X Button serves as the melee command. Since the shepherd's crook was strapped to his back, I thought it was worth a shot to see if I could swing it around. What came next was a mass murder of my own flock of sheep. Thankfully, it was not a fruitless exercise as I was rewarded with a lamb chop for every felled ungulate. That leads me to believe that Arcania is the work of Satan's right hand game designer. Hilarity ensued when one sheep corpse rolled off a cliff and into the sea water below. The ocean, BTW, only disappeared once as a result of moving the camera around.

The jumping in this game is inhuman and makes you effect a dead-on Spring Heeled Jack. With crook in hand you're ready to wreak havoc in Ivy's hometown. But wait! What if you could jump over mountains? Good news! With your freakish leap you can scale even the steepest rock walls. Now you don't have wall crawling powers like a web head. Satan's game designer also placed convenient invisible walls in-game. But, what of those tempting fences and brick walls in the back of town? Surely those are no obstacle for our intrepid slacker shepherd. Thankfully, you can leap into trees and onto rocks. So, I was able to take the shepherd outside of town into the Arcania demo's own version of the minus world. Now, was I meant to explore the game outside of town in the demo? Maybe. Though, I have yet to progress the story past two conversations cause it's much more fun to do things that the game doesn't want you to do.

I played golf with sea turtles, scaled the highest peak on foot and dove into the ocean from the cliffs. One time, I died and then the shepherd's body jumped from the water in a rag doll's pose like a flying fish. Does this make a good impression for an under-the-radar RPG hit? No. But, I sure hope Two Worlds II can offer slightly better.   read


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