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Hi, I'm Chris, though I've been going by nekobun and variants thereof for so long, I kind of answer to both anymore.

While I've kind of got my own thing going in the realm of indie coverage, at least in the form of playing through (and streaming) (and writing about) the huge backlog I'm developing of games gleaned from various indie bundles, I try to keep my more mainstream, game-related features here, as well as opinion pieces on the industry at large, out of mad love for the 'toid. When I'm not rambling here or trying to be clever in comments threads, you can catch me rambling on Facebook and my Twitter, and trying to be clever in the chat.

Now Playing:
360: Halo 4
PC: F.E.A.R.
SNES: Secret Of Mana

I suck at games: PEW PEW LASERS
Improving game communities: Collective consciousness
Nothing is sacred: These walls have torn my world apart
The wrong thing: Only cream and bastards catch them all.
Love/Hate: I love to hate -you-
Love/Hate: B(u)y the book
The Future: Is still what it used to be
My Expertise: Playing the race kart
Something about sex: Sex sells, but who's buying?
E3 Approaches: It's oh so quiet
Freedom: Together, we'll break the chains of HUDs
East vs West: We've got the empire
Handhelds: Graduating as 2000's Catchemaledictorian
Relaxation: Cheesy double Chief burrito
Online Passes: A spoonful of sugar
Peripherals: Many tentacles pimpin' on the keys
This is what MAGfest is all about
Beginnings: Put it on the pizza
Disappointment: Bad(vent) timing

Recap Topsauce:
It's Thinking: Could you quit playing with that radio, love?
Do the wrong thing: And do it right, for once.
Afraid to shoot strangers.
Not if you were the last junkie on Pandora
Is Jim Sterling servicing the video games industry?
Something About Sex: Unsafe at any speed.
Doing DLC right
Congress passes sweeping Elfcare reform bill
Bottom five healthcare systems in videogames.
Pushing my love over the quarter line.
When my life would depend on an eight point none.
Remember the heroes.
Every Journey begins with a single step.
It's all over now, bomber blue.
Being Social: We'll always have Rainbow Road
Labor Day: Of course you realize, this means wark.
Please, aim it higher.
There Would've Been Brawl: Show me 'round your eggplantcage.
Integration: A place for everything
Zelda Week: I guess this is growing up.
MAGfest: the (don't be an) idiot's guide
Promotions: The bees are alright
Now is the winter of on-disc content
This was supposed to be a dozen items about nekobun.
Without Slenderness, there's something missing.
Cheap tricks (and treats) don't come cheaper than free.
The legacy of the (unlikely) wizard.
Cheap Tricks II: Sugar rush boogaloo
Thank you, for bringing me here, for showing me Home.
Burnt flowers fallen: the tragic bitchotry of Lilly Caul
Red and blue, resolving into purple.
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A section of the latest Communitoid that touched upon people asking how to gain a higher profile in the community resonated pretty solidly with me. A lot of good points were raised, and, having been floating around here for a while, I figured I'd share my own experience and opinions on the topic of making yourself known.

Mind you, I'm not so vain as to assume I'm that high-profile a member, so don't think this is about tooting my own horn; at best, I'd say I'd rank an "Oh, that guy," level of awareness amongst other Dtoiders. Rather, I've been ranking with plenty of others with low fap counts and mere smatterings of comments for long enough that I feel I'm in a good position to tell you guys, new or old, not to worry about it.

One of the first things you should recognize regarding Destructoid, is that while its community is what makes it so great, and is one of the main distinctions between Dtoid and the slew of other gaming sites out there, that community isn't entirely unified. That's not a sleight, by any means; rather, the variety of options out there mean that Destructoid has something to offer for everyone. The forums, the cblogs, the stream folk, and even the front page have their own, unique vibes, and what may appeal to the denizens of one realm may not be as popular in another. One of the best things any new member can do upon first signing up is to try everything, and see what sticks. Personally, I mostly hang around here in the cblogs and am all over the stream chats for both and Streamtoid, with the occasional poke into the forums and main article comment; being prone to walls of text, spewing words all over the cblogs is clearly where I belong, while I just don't have the time to keep on top of the forum threads that tend to interest me, given how quickly they move. What I'm saying, though, is you should find a niche you feel comfortable with before you concern yourself with raising your profile.

Once you've found a subsection you feel you can call a home, start interacting. Crying for attention isn't going to get you much, save for laughed at, and as was made clear by the Communitoid crew, you'll get a lot more respect for just being a good dude or dudette and supporting your fellow Dtoiders than you will just rolling in and expecting support. At the same time, don't force yourself to comment on things or get involved in conversations or threads you have little point of reference regarding just to get your name out there. Having something meaningful to say occasionally tends to get a bit more attention from one's peers than an onslaught of "haha awesome lol" one-liners all across the boards. Hell, the forums already have a subsection dedicated to the typical one-off, rapid-fire comment games and short-reply discussion threads, as well as massive, free-flowing conversations in The Bar and The Arcade for those looking for small talk.

Getting a bit more specific, given my cblog leanings, let's talk about blogging here on Destructoid. As was mentioned in the podcast, and occasionally comes up from other staffers as well, getting a job at Destructoid, especially as a writer, isn't the most likely thing to happen. If they were looking to hire someone, there would almost definitely be a notification of some sort. That being said, Destructoid has, historically, hired from within, so it can't hurt to post content here. Even if it doesn't get you on the green robot's dole one day, plenty of ex-Dtoiders, even just cbloggers, have catapulted into game industry jobs on the merits of the portfolios they built here. There's a great video below that catches up with a slew of Destructoid alumni to find out where they ended up, and I remember seeing it when it was first featured here and seeing names I'd long believed had just mysteriously disappeared. Community blogging may be something you're doing for free, but if your desire for money outweighs your love of writing (or community interaction, or what have you), you're doing it wrong and should reconsider your goals. And while you're at it, don't let a lack of faps or commentary get you down. Instant, community-based gratification is nice, but there are other forms of acknowledgement out there as well, such as front-page promotion and Topsauce mentions in the daily cblog recaps. If nothing else, you'll get a synopsis in said recaps any day you post, categorized for the convenience of those who prefer their posts in a digest format, which can drum up some interaction a while after your initial postings.

Slogging away here and having a place to practice and refine my writing has actually landed me both a guide-writing gig at Gamer Syndrome and an editorial slot at a little start-up called Machine Red in recent weeks, so it does work. If you are serious business about the games writing thing, you may want to take a look at Video Game Journalism Jobs, as new sites post there every day looking for writers. It's almost always volunteer, but many sites like to start their staff in a free capacity before moving them into paying positions upon reaching certain contribution levels or establishing reliability, so there's another way to get your name out there and establish a presence. Even if you do land a paying gig, keep in mind that it's probably not going to keep you particularly solvent, so you may want to keep your day job until you can catapult to something huge, or at least bury yourself in freelance work to the point you're basically paying your bills with your sanity and sleep schedule.

Returning to suggestions that apply across the community in general, be yourself. Yeah, that's as guidance-counselor-y as all get out, but it's good advice. Having an internet persona is fine and good, and being inspired by existing luminaries is something anyone creative or expressive is guilty of, but trying to be someone you clearly aren't just because you think it'll get you hits and comments? That always shows, and will just get you overlooked. You're not the next Jim Sterling, as the original has already filled the Jim-shaped hole in the games writing scene pretty well, and Jonathan Holmes' orifices probably aren't equipped to handle more than one Sterling anyway. Similarly, dropping big names for no good reason other than the belief they'll get you attention reeks of desperation and an inability to make one's own mark. Every now and then, someone will mention Sterling solely because his name draws attention, but in the context of a piece that has little or nothing to do with him save for disagreeing with him briefly, or fellating his opinion in an attempt to piggyback on whatever draw he's bringing in. This goes for any editor, or known figures from other realms as well. While it's always good form to cite your sources, acknowledge references, and bring up articles discussing whatever you're writing about if they've something to do with your point, make sure your voice is your own or you'll never get anywhere.

Another big thing, be it for blogging, foruming, or even just hanging out in a stream chat, is to listen to feedback. Not so much the whining and trolling end as to those who have constructive input or something to point out. Criticism is often hard to accept, but being able to process it is both an essential part of being a functional human being and one of the best ways to improve and excel. As with anything, however, integrating feedback also takes a bit of moderation, as suppressing stylistic quirks and trying to appeal to everyone can turn your contributions drab and boring in no time, much as it's done to many a triple-A title. For example, if you've read this far, you may've noticed I like to throw a lot of words down when I write. I get "tl;dr" comments now and then, and I imagine it's one of the reasons some readers pass my work by, but at the same time, some of them are probably the sort who get butthurt about review scores without reading the lengthy explanations of what went into that score. I've learned to tighten up what I can, but what it comes down to is that if you have a stylistic thing you're confident in, stick with it. Short form or long form, reviews or editorials, clown versus straight-man... don't be afraid to maintain your thing, so long as you keep trying to polis and refine that thing.

Oh, and if you screw up? Have the stones to fix things and/or apologize. It's not hard to make another post in a forum thread. The blog editor lets you go in and tweak things even after a post goes live, and I've taken to making note of any changes introduced in the posts themselves, both as a reminder of errors I've had to correct and as a show of transparency. Hell, the staff themselves make corrections and updates to front page posts all the time. If you say something out of line or link something that gets you warned or timed out from chat during a livestream because you didn't know better, say you're sorry and the mods'll cut you a break. Whenever you do something new, you're bound to do something stupid; hell, my very own first cblog is marred by some nightmarishly oversized images because I didn't notice the bit about how everything gets resized to 620p wide once it's uploaded. After that, I made it a point to resize things on my own and crop them to keep dimensions reasonable. Own up to and learn from your mistakes, and people will notice you're improving.

That's about all I've got, really. Thriving here as a contributor is pretty easy, if you feel you've lurked long enough and want to get more involved. Between the cblogs here, the forums, front page commentary, or even streaming for Streamtoid,'s community-oriented sister channel, there are myriad ways to make an impression on the writhing mass that is Destructoid. Just try to make it a good one, regardless of how far you hope it'll take you.

(Apologies for reposting the incredible community mosaics of Dtoid past, but I could think of no better way to depict this place. Credit goes to tehuberone for the original and TheToiletDuck for the kaiju edition, along with several others.)

(Oh, and those two sites I mentioned contributing to are cool with me still posting here, given the difference in nature of my posts here and my work for them, if anyone's wondering. This not always the case, so any tryhard bloggers who manage to move on up should check with their superiors regarding how tightly they're locked in to other writing gigs, and perhaps draw down their presence here a bit out of respect anyway. Just a tip.)
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As one who's not that fond of image memes, being old enough to remember that photos used to be funny without stupid captions added to them, and given my attitudes toward the treatment of women on the nerdier side, you can imagine I'm not one to get a chuckle out of the Idiot Nerd Girl meme floating around. However, some clever bastard (or bastards) have decided to turn the normally derogatory image/text combinations on their head, resulting in some cute, poignant commentary on the dissonance between males and females who fall under the nerd demographic.

I can't take credit for any of them, by the way; I merely stumbled upon the set on Tumblr, where they were originally posted by user thislyfe, who in turn found them on Uproxx. Just thought it was kind of nice to see one of these things used for something more constructive than unfunny "jokes." Hit the gallery for the full set.

Whomever's responsible for these, I owe you a drink. If you find a way to reappropriate the rapidly diluting phenomenon that is Grumpy Cat, sir or madam, I will owe you two drinks.
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I've discussed Slender and Slender Man's Shadow in the past, but in their wake has come a veritable onslaught of independent, free games flying a banner of "horror" and trying to get a piece of the YouTube scaredy-cat pie. In an effort to not afraid of anything, I've played a fair amount of them, and here's a rundown of some of the titles getting kicked around in the dark.

Forget Me Not Annie tries to take the psychological route when it comes to its fear, favoring atmospheric oppressiveness over jump scares (though there are a couple of those), and pairs its brooding terror with a first-person perspective and some interesting puzzles. The titular Annie is accompanied by a seemingly sentient teddy bear, attempting to escape some sort of facility and aided by his ability to swap places with her in space at any point. The game is effectively a demo, as its closing screen even admits, but it's an interesting glimpse at what its creators would have liked to do with more resources and time. The puzzles alone are a refreshing diversion from the usual "collect X y's" formula of "Slenderesques," and it would have been nice to experience a fuller telling of the story the game presented had it been finished.

Mangy Games' Candles comes off as fairly promising at first, starting players off in a dark forest, following the only available lit path to the unnamed character's home, where the lack of power forces you to rely on candles to light your way from room to room as you search for keys to the generator-housing basement. Imps lurk in the house's dark corners, which, while creepily designed, fail to be particularly scary. Their inability to approach lit areas without evaporating makes it easy to just pop in a bit, activating a room's candle, and then step back until one disappears, and while their glowing eyes seems intended to add to the imps' menace, it would've been more effective to place them in the periphery of players' views rather than smack in the middle of plain sight, making for some surprise attacks. The game's final sequence is also a bit borked on the physics side of things, to the point that it seems the game is actually broken when you're trying to accomplish the last task, so stick with it if you really need to see the ending. Candles is rather good-looking for an indie freebie, but its hobbled approach to horror sensibilities makes it feel half-baked.

Don't let its low-res imagery fool you; Ivan Zanotti's Imscared is brilliant. Not seeing fit to stay within the bounds of a game itself, Imscared extends its reach into your computer, creating files as you play through that expand and elaborate upon your experience that truly is a little freaky. The game's finish is a bit weaker than its onset, and there are some minor translation gaffes due to Zanotti being Italian and not entirely fluent in English, but they're easily overlooked once you've gotten underway. To say more, or to post screenshots of anything besides the environment, would ruin it, so let's just say this is truly a game for the after-dark, headphones-only crowd.

Set in the already bleak realm of a blasted-out, body-strewn, World War I battlefront trench, 1916: Der Unbekannte Krieg (or The Unknown War, if you're not Deutsche-inclined) charges the player with one, seemingly simple task: find the ladder. The difficulty of said task increases dramatically upon your discovery of something else roaming the trenches, turning what starts as just a wander through unfamiliar territory into a heart-pounding, frantic flight for your life. The only hint I can give without spoiling anything is to look down; many of your fallen comrades bear items that you wouldn't expect to be useful in most cases, or even usable. Short, but sweet, and admittedly a bit frustrating until you start taking better stock of your environment, 1916 will give your pulse a run for its money.

Lauded by some horror game fans as one of the best indie scares out there, Erie drops you into an abandoned power plant where something terrible has, or perhaps still is, happening. Relying on repeat playthroughs to find optimal routes for avoiding whatever it is that stalks you through the plant's halls, Erie unfortunately succumbs to the growingly tiresome trope of turning a sneak for your life into a collect-a-thon. However, the collectibles scattered throughout the facility do a nice job of fleshing out the game's story, which is more than can be said for the pages in Slender or most other Slender-Man-inspired games, so they're worth going out of the way to obtain. This game also gives one of the best feelings of being completely and utterly screwed once the monster is on your trail, making it quite a bit scarier than some of the other games here.

This is just a sampling of some of the free horror offerings out there, and expect a follow-up or two once I get through a few more; for instance, I was going to do a section on creepypasta-based The Theater, until I learned there were two versions and I may have been playing the less polished (and more crash-tastic) of the two, and I'd like to give the other one a chance. Even with the less engaging ones, it's nice to see more aspiring gamemakers trying their hand at the horror genre, and reliance on the increasingly overplayed Slender Man card being slowly shunted aside for some truly original frights.
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(EDIT 11/29/2012 - edited the title and a couple of other uses of the term "misogyny" out of things; a friend pointed out I was using the term far too lightly, and it didn't fit the message I intended. Just a terminology hot-swap; nothing else has changed.)

The recent #1Reason____ trends on Twitter, as discussed in Jim Sterling's post regarding them, are the latest in a long and steadily building cascade of outcry against the treatment of women in the world of videogames. There are some with the misguided cajones to try and say this sexism doesn't exist, and that the women complaining about it are just doing it for attention's sake, or because they can't cut it in a man's world, among other reasons.

I beg to differ. I beg you to shut your mouths and open your eyes. The issue here isn't just the mistreatment of women who are or who seek to be part of the industry. There's a condescending, chauvanist attitude pervading gaming across the board, be it in regards to game content and marketing, gamer interaction on all levels from casual to professsional, game-related media production and reactions, or the making of games themselves. For a scene that's been building for forty-plus years (sixty-five, if you want to go as far back as 1947's cathode-ray amusement device), mostly in far more progressive times than other, formerly male-dominated cultures that have seen great strides in gender equality, the sausage fest that is gaming has done surprisingly little to welcome those without a Y-chromosome.

It's no secret or mystery that gamer culture has managed to stay a sausage party for a very, very long time. Take one look at all the skimpy outfits and jiggle physics tacked on to female characters in favor of actually characterizing them. Listen to the voices of the majority of players wearing headsets in any given matchmaking lobby; sure, some are higher pitched, but more often than not, one can tell that's the case because they're pre-pubescent, not because they're female. Name enough higher-ups in game companies, or even non-indie game developers (or hell, include the indies if you want), to count on all, if not just one hand's worth, your fingers. Go ahead, I can wait.

Not that easy, is it? And that's just part of the problem. Sure, there are segments of of the gamer population who are full aware of the problem, even on the male side from whence the problem spawns, and they've made fun of it as best they can, but there's a majority of gamers and gaming fans out there who don't think women belong in gaming in any respect, considering it a joke, an affront, or an outright deception on womankind's part should they pick up a controller or *gasp* go so far as to make a game themselves.

Some of this, at least back in the day, could be attributed to the fact that a great deal of the people creating video games came from realms that were already testosterone driven. The budding field of computer science was, as most sciences were back then, a no-girls-allowed clubhouse, and when Japan got their fingers into the gaming pie, it makes sense that their patriarchal society would only contribute to the male dominance of the industry. Game thematics followed suit, with concepts like war and combat being easier to portray within the limits of early gaming technology than more complex themes, and, once things evolved to the 8-bit era, the archetypical tale of the guy saving the day and getting the girl put ladies in roles of distress rather than participation, more often than not. Sure, there were exceptions, like Samus Aran of Metroid fame, and other leading ladies like the titular Athena and Alis of Phantasy Star, but for the most part, dudes were the ones killing (and being) badguys, getting things done, and saving the day.

Decades down the road, and how far have we come on that front? Not very. Super Princess Peach, a Nintendo DS title from 2005, takes everyone's favorite serial kidnap victim and sets her off to save Mario for once, with powers based on mood swings. Ladies have gained more and more ground in the realm of fighting games, but only in exchange for less and less clothing to wear to those fights. Lara Croft, renown just as much for her badassery as her enormous, polygonal bust, is now looking forward to attempted sexual assault to make her an empathetic character in an upcoming Tomb Raider reboot. And the aforementioned Samus, once considered a paragon of self-sufficiency, got some ridiculous heels tacked on to her Zero Suit and even more ridiculous overemotionality tacked onto her mental state in 2010's Metroid: Other M. Strong, respectable, and even reasonably accurate representations of women are few and far between in games, and it seems to be a product of both the men who are trying to write them and the boys who don't want them in their games beyond sex appeal in the first place.

Yes, boys. Not men. Children. Manchildren, in many cases, but still children have just as much of the blame for the state of descrimination against women in gaming today as the industry side of things. Harassment, both textual, verbal, and beyond are hallmarks of both online play and online commentary anymore. Websites like Fat, Ugly, or Slutty serve as documentation of the wide range of harassment female gamers undergo on services like Xbox Live and PlayStation Network, as well as in chat in popular MMOs such as World of Warcraft. If a girl shows up in a lobby and it's clear she is actually female, the immediate response of most is to fall back on the tiresome "get back to the kitchen" line, assume they're hideous, or proposition them for (and/or threaten them with) sexual favors (and/or assault). Those instances, at least, seem to imply a belief in the legitimacy of girls' ability to play games from time to time, which could be considered slightly better than the conspiracy theories surrounding "fake" nerd girls and the looming threat they pose to the "real" gamers' status quo.

Just recently, 343 Industries threatened (and later rescinded said threat) to lay down the banhammer on anyone reported for sexist, derogatory comments towards those of the female persuasion in Halo 4 multiplayer matches, which was met with a maelstrom of male gamers crying foul on the grounds of everything from First Amendment rights to nothing being done about "sexism against men" (AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA wut), or the rampant racism and homophobia on the service as well. While the latter issues are ones that could use some addressing as well, a lot of the commentary on sexual preference and race of some players, while hateful, stems more from terms like "gay," "fag," and racial slurs having infiltrated common parlance as less targeted negative terminology; the kids calling you the n-word don't know your race or care if you're actually of a certain ethnicity, they're just out to insult you. Hatred against women, on the other hand, is specifically targeted towards female players based on their gender once said gender is known, and is less likely a product of upbringing as it is the ambient gamer culture itself, hence the priority. What makes it more of a shame that this is an issue in Halo is that Bungie and, subsequently, 343 Industries, have been making a point in their past few games to include female options for in-game character models (as far back as Dare being unlockable in ODST), an attempt at inclusiveness that's being shot down by the player base themselves. Who's going to play as a lady SPARTAN when that's an even easier way to open one up to verbal abuse?

These disgusting assumptions carry over into the realm of video and written content about games, should the creators and presenters make the twin "mistakes" of being attractive and female. Sure, there have been some incidents of female hosts being chosen more for their looks than for any video game knowledge, and there's the occasional, documented case of girls taking suggestive pics with game tie-ins to appeal to a nerdier demographic, but more and more, especially in the world of digital media and online video, the women discussing video games have a fair, if not impressively extensive, familiarity with their topic of choice. Apparently, that doesn't matter if you're pretty, judging by the caliber of commentary on YouTube segments. Here, have some samples.

Regarding Lisa Foiles, occasional video game writer and host of The Game Station's "Remag":

BOOBS - nadir moh
Thats the hottest red head I've seen. No lie. - Branden Barnalaby
dont get excited she stuffed her bra - Blood0cean
please tell us u didnt open ur worm hole for that d-bag - silver1fox21 (the video in question featured an interview with rapper B.O.B.)
He totally fucked her after the show. - Maxim Nawangwe

Here are some GameTrailers user comments from episodes of Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin'?, discussing co-creator, co-star, and screen and voice actress, Ashly Burch:

So much for getting over my "Tie up Ashley Burch" fantasy <3 <3 <3 - Hoodin (doubly funny because it was Ash who was tied to a chair, not Blavis)
i bet ash gives a great BJ - MajorLeeStoned
ash is really hot especially with that ponytail on the side - Dozenbeer

Destructoid and Mash Tactics alum Pico Mause recently wrapped up a stint doing videos for Curse Network, where she and her successor, Lindsay Geektron, both get their share of *ahem* attention:

i want to fuck lindsey - gregwolz
Pico needs to be boned. - Peakiness
Lindsay has bigger boobs and automatically wins. - sevx1
soo when can i bang you - Adam Nelson
A girl with big tits moderates something about gaming. That kind of clishee is bullshit. - Nymly1 (I think he meant "cliche.")

And hell, let's look at some comments about Tara Long, from The Destructoid Show, while we're at it.

I want your fat fingers inside of me. <3 - TheLostGamingorg
Tara ur tits r awesome. can i buy u a fish sandwich? - Adam Laney
Uh...why is there an Xbox in the kitchen? - scathoob (Granted, they were discussing 343i's proposition to ban sexist players in Halo 4, but still.)

It doesn't end there, either. Barb, Kara, and the other women at Rooster Teeth get their fair share of objectifying commentary when they appear in videos, despite the nurturing and supportive nature of the bulk of RT's fanbase. Other Youtube personalities, such as Nixie Pixel, Dtoid community member Jess Brohard... the list goes on and on of video presenters who just happen to have breasts that are being judged on their looks rather than their content. And that's just currently; it's not as if this is something new.

If you want to see something spectacular, tune into one of the broadcasts the ladies of Kat Gunn's LT3 crew (which includes everyone's favorite Juliet Starling, Jessica Nigri) does on, or one of their semi-regular appearances on Mash Tactics, and wait for the bans to start. Our own channel's moderators have probably set records for deleted comment counts given how many people get blasted out of stream chat just for spamming commentary about breasts and sexual propositions, rather than paying attention to what they have to say or play. Sure, they're an attractive bunch, and well aware of it, but Miss Gunn and her friends have stated time and time again that they're around to play games and prove that pretty girls can actually kick some ass on a professional level, and aren't there just to look pretty. Gunn herself has quite a portfolio in the gaming world, having won the WCG Ultimate Gamer 2 competition, made an impression on the pro gaming scene, and is a competitive RC builder and racer as well, nevermind how bad she's spanked some of Dtoid's own ringers, such as Philanthr0py, in Dead Or Alive 5. LT3 member Kelly Kelley schooled several of us in a similar fashion in Halo 4 and Call Of Duty: Black Ops 2 in recent weeks, and she currently does competition commentary on the regular for Gamespot. Jessica Nigri, aside from being an amazing cosplayer, both on the conceptual and craftsmanship fronts, has regularly shown off just how much of a huge dork she is, with webcam shots from her room showing a plethora of anime- and game-related paraphernalia (which includes a surprising number of busty, nigh-hentai statuettes filling the shelves).

These ladies have, clearly, legitimized their claims to game, and so have my earlier examples. Tara, while often quieter than her cohorts during her time on Podtoid, definitely kept up with gaming talk when it snuck in between Jim's declarations of love for Holmes and the rampant sexual deviance, and has played games quite capably on the regular on various Revolution 3 shows. Pico Mause has done her fair share of time playing through Mash Tactics' four-hour, weekdaily episodes, spent a fair amount of time in several MMOs and Minecraft in her Curse days, and will soon be providing video content for (the World of (war :p)Tanks/World of Warplanes crew). As if Ash's love for and knowledge of gaming in her performances alongside her brother weren't clear enough, she also streams gaming regularly at Hey Ash's channel, along with the rest of the Hey Ash crew and other friends, like Dtoid vet Brad "Pecs" Nicholson. What I'm trying to say is, while there may be Pooksies, Kristin Holts, and other poseurs putting themselves out there as "gamer girls" to get your attention, your viewership, and your clicks, there are just as many, if not more, women out there who have game, know what they're doing with a joystick, and can prove it. And, chances are, they're about as likely to lose to you easily as they are to respond to your advances over chat, message, or comment.

Thirdly, there's the industry side of things. While the whole #1ReasonWhy hashtag may have been an eye-opener for many, the women commenting on it and sharing their stories have been around and working in games for quite some time. Just off the top of my head, let me rattle off some names. Jade Raymond, managing director of Ubisoft Montreal. Brenda Romero (nee Brathwaite), game designer on several series and co-founder of Loot Drop. Karen Traviss, lead writer on Gears of War 3 and author of several Gears novels. 343 Industries' Bonnie Ross, Kiki Wolfkill, and Corrinne Yu, the general manager, executive producer on Halo 4, and principal Halo 4 engine programmer, respectively. I don't even pay that much attention to the mainstream gaming scene, and I can still name plenty of women who've worked on some of the biggest, most popular titles out there. Go to the indies however, and I don't even have time to list credentials without running out of breath.

Zoe Quinn. Christine Love. Anna Anthropy. Sophie Houlden. Erin Robinson. Jennifer Rodgers. I could go rooting through my Twitter follow list to pad this out, but the article's already gotten pretty beastly as-is. The more open, welcoming spirit of the indie gaming community can, in many ways, provide a more hospitable environment for women to work in and on games, but at the same time, that independence can lead to even more strife than the ladies who've "made it" and are with larger, established companies. Between finding and dealing with publishers, trying to build hype at events and conventions, and generally dealing with an establishment that, while improving, is mostly still favorable to the big name, triple-A side of gaming, female devs are, in some ways, dealing with a deck that's even more stacked against them, at least in terms of seeking "success" in commercial and exposure terms. But they're there, and they're creating some of the most interesting, entertaining games you've never heard of, despite all the annualized, reiterative cash cows and easily digestable, wide-appeal titles that are churned out and overshadow them. For instance, check out Super Street Fire, SWIFT*STITCH, or Puzzle Bots, and then try to say that women shouldn't be making games.

To be fair, I'm not convinced every male gamer out there is a disgusting, femme-bashing pig. During those aforementioned LT3 sessions on Mash Tactics, those amongst the several thousand viewers in-house who were being respectable human beings and asking serious, sometimes even thought-provoking questions in chat, outweighed the scumbags getting booted several hundred to one. I actually had to put some effort into finding sexist comments for my YouTube sampling, which came as a quite a surprise given their rarity amongst genuine praise, or at least more socially acceptable admiration of the ladies in question (though, truth be told, both sides of that coin were dwarfed by the general stupidity of YouTube commentary as a whole). Plenty of men tuned into the gaming scene are helping spread the #OneReason____ word on Twitter just as much as women are, and getting anecdotal, I've had plenty of gaming sessions where a girl was asked to stay around for a few rounds on account of her ability to wreck face, rather than having a pretty one.

Those exceptions aside, the attitude toward women on all levels of gamer culture, be it in regards to characters or the real women playing, talking about, and making games to play needs more serious reassessment and a dramatic overhaul. The resentment, backlash, and general negativity and dismissal displayed toward the ladies of gaming has no good reason to have persisted this long, never mind as vehement as it's grown to become nowadays. It just doesn't make sense. Women haven't ruined the beer, movies, or TV that are all traditional mainstays of the male entertainment diet, so what damage could some more progressive attitudes do to gaming?
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This almost qualifies as NVGR, but given Red Vs Blue's basis on Halo, I figure it counts. Kinda personal, tl;dr ahead, so if you're not into that, you can find the Back button easily enough.

Of all the things that have ever ended up tear-jerking experiences for me, Red vs Blue was the least expected inspiration for crying I've ever experienced. Sure, it's light-hearted joking and fun from the start, but by the end of the early Blood Gulch Chronicles season, darker themes are already beginning to creep in, and with the recent wrap of season 10, business got serious, and surprisingly deep.

Probably going to spoil a bit for those who haven't watched it all; head over to Rooster Teeth's site if you want to get caught up.

While it was something of a mind-blow just finding out Church was an AI, thus explaining his ghostiness (and, subsequently, revealing his on-again, off-again, sort-of-girlfriend Tex was also an artificial intelligence), and I was bawling at the end of season 10, with the meaningful look in the Director's eyes as he realized his obsession with his dead ex-wife, the memory of which spawned Tex in the first place, had ruined his relationship with his daughter, it was RvB's ninth season that really struck close to home. The entire season, shot using Halo: Reach, focused on a recreated version of Church from his original AI's splintered memories recreating his time in Blood Gulch in the banks of a failing storage unit. His aim was to draw Tex back to his side by replicating the sequence of events that led to their original Gulch encounter, in order to get to the bottom of why she existed and why they were inexplicably drawn to one another, or at least, why he was drawn to her.

While he's waiting for things to come together, and for his own private version of Blood Gulch to work properly in the first place, Church's teammate Tucker makes it a point to rag on him about how creepy and stalk-y his Tex obsession actually is. Considering this version of Tucker was created from Church's memories, it can be extrapolated that in some ways, their discussions are a sort of internal monologue, with some of Church's better reasoning starting to slip through his long-running obsession. It seems to register, as the last minutes of the memory unit's existence feature Church pulling Tex aside, not to say goodbye, but to say he's forgetting her, letting her go. Granted, the collapse of his world turns out to be a rescue mission executed by Church's associates in the real world, and the parallel obsession over Tex on the part of Carolina, the freelancer that helped the Blood Gulch crew get him out in the first place, makes that letting go that much more difficult, dragging his turmoil (albeit with a new perspective) over another season, but that's not his fault. And it's not what I'm here to ramble about.

It was kind of a fluke of timing, but I'd been catching up on Red Vs Blue while going through old storage bins, getting rid of things I no longer need and scrounging up a few items that might be ebay-worthy, when I stumbled upon something I'd forgotten. A disgruntled-looking, plush eggplant peered up at me from the floor, almost as if judging me, just after I'd clicked "Play" on season nine's twentieth episode. The one with the Church/Tex moment I just mentioned. It struck me as to just why Church's plight was resonating so much with me, which only served to make said finale even more intense.

I spent seven years of my life, on and off, bullheadedly trying to make a half-baked failure of a near-relationship work. We never actually hooked up, just kind of orbited one another as I repeatedly screwed up chances as they came up, yet not badly enough for her to excise me from her life or for me to cut her out of mine. For example of how confusing the whole mess got, things reached a point where I'd stopped hanging out at the residence house where she, along with several of my other friends I'd known before she and I'd crossed paths, at her request and/or threat. Comparable amounts of rage were subsequently to be had from her when of my buddies decided to smuggle me in while she was visiting home, only for her to find out after I'd left, and a separate incident wherein I walked ten miles or so home from my GameStop job after I couldn't raise anyone on the phone for a ride home, rather than stopping by said residence house to ask someone there. We must've made friendly at least a half dozen other times, only for me to make an ass of myself again every time, be it for honestly trying to warn her against one friend's dubious history, or my tendency to drift toward familiar faces in unfamiliar situations coupled with an alcohol-induced haze being misinterpreted as creepier behavior than I'd had in mind.

The runaround finally ended four or five years ago, not long after I purchased a little eggplant plush, both out of my love for eggplants and purple, and to try and kick her a few bucks in what wasn't proving the easiest time for her. One of those misinterpreted, drink-addled incidents led to sharp words and a declaration that she'd never cared much about me at all, in a positive or negative light, but the situation wasn't about to be buried. We had, and still have, so many friends in common that completely avoiding one another was pretty much impossible. Thankfully, she'd at least moved a couple of states away by then, so the most I saw of her was the occasional online comment on someone else's profile, or across the hall at a convention, but there was always that little twinge as I forced myself to just walk by. If I'd been so much nothing to her, why not shut things down that much sooner? Why the years of back and forth? The lack of any real closure, just the fuck-off-and-goodbye that marked the final curtain on our little drama, left a conundrum in the back of my head despite how many of the memories associated with her I'd already repressed.

So there we were. The eggplant and I. My past staring up at me, its ":|" face seemingly condescending and judgmental in the glow of my laptop's monitor, as the third iteration of Leonard Church was finding the resolution he'd sought for so long in a way he'd least expected. Not unlike Church, I'd spent seven years trying to get things right. Trying to solve my own little Tex problem. But sometimes, you don't get closure. Sometimes, the only way to find peace is to forget.

It wasn't until the middle of last year that I realized I'd fallen out of touch with a girl who was arguably my first love, with whom I shared a peculiar, long-distance thing in high school, and that I had no desire to try and get ahold of her again. Just a couple months ago, I noticed I was the only one of my friends still mentioning the anniversary of someone I'd gotten rather close to being suddenly torn away from me and the rest of us, including her boyfriend at the time, and realized it was time to put that to rest.

And now, it's about time I forgot. She hasn't kept me from other pursuits or interfered with living my life, but she's always been there. A ghost of what could've been. A torch that, while dim, never quite sputtered out. A reminder of lessons I should've learned before I met her, and in much less hard a way. Kind of like a bruise that hadn't quite healed right, but was more an occasional annoyance, and a peculiar shade of purple. Not unlike an eggplant. Besides, there's another musing on Church's part that's got me a bit more preoccupied now, so there's no room or reason for her to hang around anymore.

As he's explaining his reasons behind recreating Blood Gulch in the now-sealed memory unit at the end of season 8, Church mentions that he's learned, "a great love is a lot like a good memory. When it's there, and you know it's there, and it's just out of your reach, it can be all that you think about. You can focus on it, and try to force it, but the more you do, the more you seem to push it away. But if you're patient, and you hold still, then maybe, just maybe, it'll come to you." I'm not one for holding still, normally, but I'm starting to think I've reason to give it a try.

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After just over ten years of publishing, gamer-centric webcomic Ctrl-Alt-Del would appear to be calling it quits. Having somehow survived the post-Penny-Arcade boom that spawned a slew of similar, "gamer buddy" strips in the late '90s and early '00s, Tim Buckley has decided to go out with an inappropriately dramatic bang.

Personally, I jumped what I already recognized as a sinking ship as soon as the strip Loss, which dealt clumsily and asynchronously with the subject of miscarried pregnancy, hit the web back in 2008, but thanks to friends who refused to give up, I've heard dribs and drabs of what's been going on since then. It would seem bizarre tonal shifts weren't enough for cartoonist Tim Buckley, as racism, plagiarism, and a complete lack of stylistic evolution all had their time to shine over the course of the strip's final four years.

For the morbidly curious, the strip's final arc was an unsurprisingly dark and incongruous turn from CAD's normal, lighthearted fare; a sort of final "fuck you" that would've been better suited as part of a separate project. A quick glance through the archive revealed something about time travel, dystopia, and everything bad being main character Ethan's fault, but I couldn't bear to continue and figure out what was going on in any great detail. If you're feeling masochistic, help yourself.

And so we stand at what could be considered the end of an era, I guess. It's weird to see Ctrl-Alt-Del finally bite it, especially when it feels like it should've wrapped up years beore now, but I wouldn't say it's sad. For those who may have actually enjoyed the comic, fear not, as some wiseass managed to sneak this into their Wikipedia entry and it was still there as of this morning:

To be fair, the final arc isn't all terrible, as it did lead to this:

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