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A New Generation of Women in Gaming and Film

Wonder Woman’s success at the box office is a sign that the portrayal of women in the media is improving. This film showed the world that female superhero films can be on par with any other blockbuster within the genre. And it’s not just in terms of revenue, but also on audience impact. Like Soliyra shared in a previous RWOG post, she was floored when she realized Diana is the same as her gamer persona – a long-time “tank” player who would rush into battle and absorb all the damage. It’s a far cry from a decade ago when women were stereotyped as either damsel in distress or nurturing lovers.

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Usually, superhero movie releases are accompanied by big-budget video games featuring the same hero. Unfortunately, the gaming community is still waiting for a Wonder Woman-centered video game but fans can at least enjoy playing Diana Prince in other big titles like Injustice 2. There are also projects from non-AAA game developers who have been inspired by the character. For instance, the global player base of Slingo has access to a mobile-friendly Wonder Woman slot game that has borrowed elements from Lynda Carter’s version the character. All of this goes to show how the Amazon princess remains relevant even decades after her first appearance in comic books and TV.

But Patty Jenkins and the new Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot, are just two of the women who are making waves on the big screen today. Charlize Theron, for instance, showed that she still has what it takes to be an action star in the spy thriller Atomic Blonde. She played a top-level MI6 operative on the hunt for double-agents in this flick, so there were heavily stylized and well-choreographed fight scenes.

Theron has long been an advocate of women’s rights, and she’s vocal in her support for women in the industry. She’s actually friends with Jenkins due to their collaboration in Monster and the latter expressed on ComicBook how much she looks forward to working with Theron again.

On the other hand, Warner Bros.’ trailer for the upcoming Tomb Raider film shows Alicia Vikander portraying a different Lara Croft, in the sense that the character is not yet the badass explorer like Angelina Jolie’s version. It’s necessary so as to stay true to the ‘origin story’ angle. But still, Vikander’s Lara is fierce and willing to go beyond her limits.


(video credit: Warner Bros.)

The video game industry meanwhile, has already gone far in portraying strong female characters. We have Samus Aran (Metroid), and Max Caulfield (Life is Strange), to name a few. But like Wonder Woman, new female leads are generating a lot of buzz this year.

13247836_1195894880443571_5935357477196211488_o(image credit: Guerrilla Games Facebook Page)

Guerrilla Games’ Horizon: Zero Dawn piqued many players’ interests back in 2015 when its first trailer featured the female protagonist, Aloy, battling a gigantic machine with a bow. CBR noted how the character played a big role in becoming a system seller. Since Horizon: Zero Dawn is a PlayStation 4 exclusive, it became a selling point for Sony. The decision to promote a female-led original game clearly worked because the game already sold 2.6 million units just two weeks following its release earlier this year. Some gamers even went as far as to buy the console just to play the action RPG title.

Blizzard’s popular online multiplayer game Overwatch also surprised fans when it announced that one of its characters, namely Tracer, is a lesbian. Tracer is a fan favorite, so it was a huge statement for Blizzard to present her as having an unorthodox sexuality. The move drew ire from some players, but the majority praised the studio’s initiative to diversify the world of gaming.

All things considered, onscreen female characters are now becoming more layered and varied. While there are still a lot of improvements to be made regarding our portrayal, it’s safe to say that the world openly welcomes this new generation of women in gaming and film.

About the Author: Alexa Henderson is a freelance writer and avid fan of RPGs. Her favorite game of all time is Squaresoft’s Chrono Cross.

*This is a sponsored post*

Influential Females Character: Alice Liddell

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Alice Liddell is the protagonist of American McGee’s Alice, a game that takes place years after Alice’s adventures in Wonderland. While Alice has been away, Wonderland has become corrupted, or maybe Alice has. Now, she has to return and fight to make things right again. That way, she can save Wonderland and herself.

American McGee’s Alice was created by American McGee and released in 2000. The game is inspired by and takes place in the world of Lewis Carroll’s works, Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Thankfully this world lends itself well to the gaming genre.

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Alice has lost everything since her return from Wonderland. Her family and home are gone due to a fire. She even seems to have lost her sanity. At the start of the game, she is being treated in a mental institution called Rutledge Asylum. Alice’s guilt has put her into a catatonic state. The only thing she has from her childhood is a stuffed white rabbit.

Alice is then sucked back into Wonderland by the White Rabbit.  Apparently, Wonderland has been turned into a twisted and macabre version of what it once was under the rule of the Red Queen. With the help of the Cheshire Cat, Alice must bring Wonderland, and possibly her mind, back to rights. She completes tasks and fights her way to her enemy. Only then can Wonderland be restored and, hopefully, Alice’s sanity.

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Alice has always had a soft spot in my heart. I love the idea of taking a such a well known character and being able to say, “well, what if?” What if Wonderland is real? What if Alice is insane? What if the two are tied together? Then, making a world from there that is full of danger.

The fact that Alice is allowed to question her sanity makes her a very important character. So many people deal with different mental illnesses every day. We fight our way through each hour. Alice also has to fight to be sane. That struggle has not always been a focus in story lines.

Alice is a strong character who is allowed to struggle.

The game is also well constructed with an interesting take on Wonderland.

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Always keep sparkling!

Top 10 Things that happened to me at Zenkaikon 2017

Crymson went to Zenkaikon 2017! Here are some of the things she experienced:

 

 

10) Some utterly amazing cosplays where everywhere!

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9) I was sandwiched between two doctors in my T.A.R.D.I.S dress

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I found Wednesday Adams

8) So many people told me they love my hair!

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Waiting for Cosplay Masquerade

7) I made new friends!

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Our friends at CommonGeek.tv

7) I want hours to talk to Keith DeCandido

5) The Slants concert was AMAZING

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The Slants

4) I got a ‘NOTICE ME SENPAI!’ from a stranger

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Senpai Loves You

3) MY FIRST BURLESQUE SHOW! Not only did I see my first show

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Pre Show (Photography was not allowed)

2) I got to spend some time with Uncle Yo! Much more than an interview, I was able to see him several times, chat with him and give him a few hugs. He made me laugh, he made me cry.

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Crazy Uncle Yo

1) Ellen McClain and John Patrick Lowery Believe in me! Meeting them was definitely the highlight of the convention for me. They are two incredible people that I’d love to sit with for hours and listen to their stories. I cannot say enough positive things and hope to speak with them again.

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John Patrick Lowery & Ellen McClain are too precious for this world

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Noodle King

 

 

 

(Honorable Mention: ALL THE FOOD!)
If you live in the Lancaster Area, please eat at The Rabbit and The Dragonfly & Noodle King

Ellen McLain & John Patrick Lowery (Zenkaikon 2017)

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John Patrick Lowery & Ellen McLain

Ellen (GLaDOS, Portal Series) and John (Sniper, Team Fortress Series) were my very first interview at Zenkaikon 2017. It was my absolute pleasure to be a bumbling nervous fan before them. They strolled in from the elevator and after a moment of asking where they should sit, I smiled and told them how nervous I was to be meeting them.

They both delighted in this fact. John said, ‘Well, let’s make it worse!’ and immediately shook my hand & gave me hugs. John took my hand and looked me in the eye and told me that this was a pivotal moment in my future and began making jokes as if he’d known me for ages.

I had read so many interviews with them that I had nothing to ask! Well, I had a few things. I knew how they met already, how they helped shape video game voice acting as we know it, and that they have also been pushing for video games to be recognized as the art form they truly are. Those were just reiterations of what I already knew about them but they were items that I felt so important that I wanted to hear them out loud and keep that flow of information.

I feel that they are both pivotal to video games as we know it. I loved hearing about the growing understanding and relationship between voice actor and engineer. When we still had a lot of instructional computer programs out there, where you could just spout out lines on paper in pops Voice Acting! and it’s no longer reading lines off a page. You need to understand what the motivation is, what’s happening in the scene, what will be the characters next step, what is their thinking. You need to convey so much to the player. Flat voice acting (I.E. Peter Dinklage in Destiny.. personally I disagree but that isn’t the point) is detrimental to the experience. So many people complained about Destiny that they had the entire script redone with another voice actor. Because it wasn’t contributing to their experience.

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During Interview

To that point, John Patrick Lowery has been a part of my life, my story, for a very long time. Let me explain. John voice acted in a little known game called Betrayal at Krondor. It was in the era of adventure games and the original Kings Quest. My father bought the game for us to play; we loved adventure games and RPGs and the like. Now this was in 1997; I was 16 and loved video games.

Voice acting was not typical in games then. These games made such an impact on me that I started writing my own stories, even to the point where I used Krondor as the last name of one of my many fantasy characters. These were also very special moments that I spent with my father, we both loved video games and the stories they told. I often wonder at how he would react to the changes that have been made in the 15 years he’s been gone. So for a small thing that John did 20 years ago it had a positive influence on me, on my life, and on my relationship with my father. Maybe after I read one of John’s wonderful books, he will read one of my mediocre short stories.

With all that being said, Ellen and John are too precious for this world. I wanted to pick them up and put them in my pocket, however impossible that is. I wanted to listen to every story they had to tell me and I am sure there are so many. I wish I could even convey to you the feeling of sitting there listening them. It was one of the only times I wanted to talk as little as possible and just be present.

They were incredible. I adored them and I pray this isn’t the only time I get the pleasure of speaking with them. The highlight of my convention!

Catlilli Games – When Science meets Board Gaming

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I had the good fortune to meet the driving force behind Catlilli Games at my first game demo at WashingCon last month. I was immediately hooked by Tacto, a programming in the guise of Tic-Tac-Toe that both teaches programming AND is genuinely fun to play. Catlilli Games has successfully bridged the gap between learning AND fun, developing educational games that are exciting to play in addition to teaching STEM.  Since the company was formed they’ve won numerous awards including awards from the Imagination Gaming Awards and three International Serious Play Awards this year. This week I sat down again with Catherine Swanwick to talk about women in games and game development.

What prompted you to get into game design, and why educational games?
I’ve loved board games my whole life.  I used to collect them and my parents would become exasperated when they took up so much room.  When I became a teacher, I started creating them (simple, short ones) whenever I could for the classroom.  One of my colleagues, Jon Nardolilli, did the same thing, and I discovered that not only was he a board game lover, too, but that he had designed his own actual full-length game.  I became inspired and started to design games, also.  We decided to form our own company, Catlilli Games (part of my first name and part of his last name).  We are both STEM teachers, and as a former scientist, I am passionate about educating the public about STEM concepts.  It’s the reason I became a teacher.  My company, Catlilli Games, is extremely mission-driven.  We want to transform STEM education with gaming.

How long have you been gaming?
I’ve collected/played/loved board games my entire life. I only started designing games in Jan. 2015 when Catlilli Games was founded.

Do you feel like the game design industry and tabletop community is positive towards women? Why?
Overall, I have to say that no, I don’t feel the game design industry/tabletop community is welcoming towards women.  I haven’t experienced outright animosity, but I am naturally excluded from gaming groups, and I do feel slightly uncomfortable when I want to attend game nights at stores but they are mostly men.  However, there are pockets of very welcoming communities, such as Labyrinth on Capitol Hill (Washington DC), where I have found men and women present in equal numbers and I have always felt a warm, friendly, accepting vibe toward women.

Whats your favorite game? Least favorite?
My favorite game is so very difficult to choose!  In general, I like cooperative games (Pandemic, Forbidden Desert, Mole Rats in Space – basically anything by Matt Leacock), although I do have a special place in my heart for Machi Koro.  My absolute LEAST favorite game is PieFace – I call it my archenemy.  It goes against everything I stand for as a game designer.

Why do you think educational games are beneficial/important?
Games are important for education because they are a natural way of engaging students.  They automatically stimulate their attention, and they let them interact with the material in a hands-on, creative, exciting way.  Even better, they allow students to talk through questions/problems and learn from each other in many ways.  I also believe that gaming experiences will help them retain the material for longer periods of time.

Whats your favorite stage of the design process?
My favorite part of the design process are the very earliest stages, when I or my former partner had the seed of an idea and knew it has the potential to make a great game, so we would sit for hours going through all the permutations to set up an initial prototype.  The excitement is indescribable.

Looking for an entertaining way to help a kid in your life with science? You can purchase Catlilli Games from their website. (And try Tacto – its outstanding!)

Best Bows and Crossbows in Video Games

Over the years a large cross-section of video games have included the trusty bow and arrow as the weapon of choice and the trend appears to be on the rise. The bow is a weapon historians have found in settlements dating back to around 9000 BC. Pop culture loves the bow and arrow and a good slice of the movie industry has taken up the gauntlet with heroes like Hawkeye and Katniss Everdeen wielding them.

Targetcrazy.com has compiled a comprehensive top 50 of the best bows (and crossbows) ever in video games and with their permission we’ve reproduced the top picks here. 

Best Retro Game Bow – Kid Icarus – The Sacred Bow

The favorite bow from older games is the enhanced Sacred Bow wielded by Pit in Kid Icarus. While he starts out wielding a short-range bow, the Sacred Bow lets him fire arrows much faster and farther. Pit has an unlimited supply of arrows and can use fire arrows to deal more damage. By the time Pit returned in Kid Icarus: Uprising, the bow was only one of many weapons he used, but in the original two games, it was his primary weapon of choice.

The Best Crossbow – BioShock

Do crossbows count? They are bows, after all!  Not only is the crossbow in BioShock one of the favorite video game crossbows, but it’s also considered by many players to be the best weapon in BioShock. It deals excellent damage with multiple types of ammunition, it is powerful at both short-range and long-range, and a headshot from the crossbow will kill a Splicer in one hit on any difficulty setting. If that’s not enough, its bolts can often be recovered intact (and you can upgrade it to make this more likely), which means it’s an incredibly powerful weapon with a ready supply of ammo. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Magical – Bayonetta 2 – Kafka

While some game weapons are magical, some are just plain weird. Bayonetta is here to prove bows can be very strange. The Kafka, a new bow added in Bayonetta 2 (and named in honor of Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis) has a dragonfly-like appearance and shoots poison arrows. According to its in-game description the bow comes from a man who morphed into an insect and lives on inside the weapon to fire arrows made of venomous bugs. Indeed, if you perform one of the the Umbran Climax while wielding this bow it fires massive, demonic dragonflies at the enemy. A bow that shoots demonic dragonflies instead of arrows? It doesn’t get much stranger than that!

 

SciFi! – Crysis 3 – Predator Bow

You can’t beat an auto-loading compound bow! The Predator Bow from Crysis 3 is a fan-favorite with three draw weights you can switch between and four different types of arrows to fire: carbon-impact, electro/shock, airburst fragmentation, and super-thermite. In single player it has its own weapon slot and it is also the only weapon you can fire while cloaked without using energy. In short, the Predator Bow is one of the best bows in video games–science fiction or otherwise.

Better Than Real? Best VR – QuiVR

QuiVr is a multiplayer wave shooter designed specifically to be a fun, accurate archery game. Your trusty bow will let you take down wave after wave of enemies with physics designed to feel like actual archery. QuiVr isn’t the fullest gameplay experience out there yet but if you want to feel like you’re wielding a bow and take down enemies at the same time, this is the VR bow we like the most.

The Top 5 Best Overall Bows in Video Games

Some of these bows are in games where archery is a main focus while others just happen to have a good archery component but either way, these are the top 5 bows in video games and some of the games you most want to seek out if you’re looking for a fun archery experience.

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor – Azkâr  – Azkâr is a special bow originally made for Celebrimbor, but Talion can use it in Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor when he enters the Wraith world while in Ranged mode. This bow can be upgraded with Runes to gain special bonuses, and Shadow of Mordor is another game where archery is generally enjoyed by fans. You may not use it often, but between its gameplay and its connections to Lord of the Rings lore we feel Azkâr deserves recognition.

Dark Messiah of Might & Magic – Bow of the Dragonhorn – The Bow of the Dragonhorn available in Dark Messiah of Might & Magic is one of the most powerful bows in the game (especially against undead enemies) but that’s not why it has such a high spot on this list. Instead, we picked it out because many players consider Dark Messiah to have some of the most realistic and satisfying archery in video games with realistic aiming and physics.

Mount & Blade: Warband – Khergit Bow – Okay, the best bow is pretty divisive among fans but whether you favorite the Khergit Bow or one of the others, Mount & Blade: Warband is a must for satisfying archery combat. Just the fact that so many different bows can be considered the best depending on your style and preferences points to how strong its archery is. Not only that, but it has fairly realistic physics and aiming. In general, using a bow in Mount & Blade: Warband finds a nice balance point between realism and fun.

Tomb Raider – Compound Bow – As of the Tomb Raider reboot, the bow has become Lara’s standard weapon. There are many different types of bows you can use as well as various special arrows but as long as you don’t mind its slower rate of fire the Compound Bow is one of the best. It deals heavy damage and is a great choice for stealth. Tomb Raider and Rise of the Tomb Raider don’t have the most realistic archery combat but they do make it fun so give their bows a try.

Age of Chivalry – Longbow Age of Chivalry is a free total conversion mod for Half-Life 2 focused on medieval combat between two fictional orders. (The team eventually made a full game called Chivalry: Medieval Warfare.) Archers in Age of Chivalry can fight with a longbow, a crossbow, or a javelin, and the longbow’s fast pace and long range makes it our pick. Not only is archery a strong focus, but it’s also fairly realistic–Age of Chivalry is another go-to game for players interested in bows that try to feel realistic.

20 of the Best Video Game Bows Ever

 

Cosplayers injured in DragonCon Incident

 

DragonCon 2017 attracted more than 80,000 fans to the pop culture-sci-fi convention in downtown Atlanta. Unfortunately for a couple con-goers it wasn’t all parties and costumes.

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Two women are recovering from head injuries after they were hit by chairs thrown from a tenth floor Marriott hotel balcony Sunday Sept. 3rd around 1:40. The Atlanta police department is investigating, but suspects have not been located. Congoers Kelly McDaniel and Jamie Temple-Thompson Amador both wound up in the hospital after being struck with the falling chairs. McDaniel credits her Loki headdress with saving her from further injury – she was struck in the head and wound up with staples.

Director of Media Relations for DragonCon sent Channel 2 the following statement:

“Two women at Dragon Con were injured at the convention early Sunday morning when two chairs were dropped from an outside balcony on the 10th floor in the Marriott to a landing below. The women were treated and released at separate hospitals.We are grateful that the injuries were not more severe.  And we are proud of the Dragon Con attendees who stepped up quickly, realized the severity of the situation and provided immediate assistance.”

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Kelly McDaniel and Jamie Temple-Thompson Amador

Reaction from the DragonCon community has been supportive of the two cosplayers as well as the convention. Jennifer M., who drove from LA with Amador told AJC.com, “The love and support from the Dragon Con family is heart warming to say the least. We can’t wait to return for an even better experience, and reconnect with our new Atlanta family!” Atlanta resident Tim M. shared with RWOG, “The security and crowd control were on point: authoritative but polite and professional… I was consistently impressed with the way they and the various hotels’ security as well as Dragon Con’s own volunteers remained visible and engaged, but let people have their fun.” Long-time Dragoncon attendee Jessica H. added “I’m actually surprised they’re not even more incidents given the number of people in the way hotel room are configured. All in all, I bet incident rates of this type are extremely low.” “DragonCon security operations do a lot of hard work to keep stuff like this from happening… But every year there is something. I honestly don’t think that this is going to slow down the con. Sh*t happens, people do their best to prevent it, and at the end of the day it’s up to people to self police themselves and their friends.” came from regular Con volunteer Shayna A. And yet another con attendee (who preferred not to be named) mentioned there were incidents regarding “throwing bottles and beer cans off balconies every year but for that many people they do a great job of keeping the crowd safe.”

DC1Birds Eye View of the Con from the Marriott Balconies

Ultimately we’ll be waiting to see what both the Marriott and DragonCon do to increase security for DragonCon 2018 in regards to this occurrence. RWOG is glad to hear both cosplayers are on the mend and we encourage anyone with information regarding this incident to contact the APD at 404-577-8477.