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Women in Gaming: Laura Bailey

lb_1950When I started to get back into gaming, it was through Dungeons & Dragons. My friend and DM suggested I watch a stream of a show called Critical Role. He hoped that by watching, I would get a better idea of how to play. To get out of my head, stop worrying about the grid on the map and start being my character. I really enjoyed watching the stream. One of my favorite characters was the Half-Elf Ranger who snarked her way through most of the game. That was my first introduction to Laura Bailey.

Laura is a voice actress by trade and gamer for fun. She was one of the first really successful female gamers I had ever seen. She is what I strive to be when I play. In character and having fun. She is so good at playing in the moment while being filmed. Let me tell you, it is difficult to focus on playing a character while you know you are being filmed.

Laura is as talented as she is funny. As a voice actress she has given her voice to many characters in different mediums. She loves anime, which is where she got her start. Laura voices characters in different cartoons as well. She, of course, also voices video game characters which must be fantastic for a gamer to get to do.

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I have gotten to enjoy watching Laura play other games as well. Mostly she can be watched on Geek and Sundry. As I stated above, every Thursday she and other voice actors play D&D under their DM and fellow voice actor, Matt Mercer. Laura plays Vex’ahlia, who has gone through so much character development on Critical Role. I really enjoy Vex. I love her humor. I love her bear, Trinket. Laura does an amazing character who could have easily been annoying in the start. She gives Vex a lot of personality and emotion. She never holds back while she games and it is amazing to watch.

Laura teamed up last year with fellow Critical Role mates to game for a charity livestream to support MDA. Matt Mercer was the Sheriff, or basically a game master, and led the group through a thoroughly entertaining game of Deadlands. Laura played a gunslinger named Stinky Jules who was basically a Calamity Jane-esque character. She was hysterical and wonderfully inappropriate. The group helped tip Geek and Sundry over its monetary goal. Laura and her husband Travis also played Hearthstone in an episode of Worthy Opponents, which is a great way for newbies to the game to get to learn while being entertained.

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She has also played different games with Wil Wheaton on his Geek and Sundry show, Tabletop. Tabletop is a great show created by Wil to showcase different kinds of tabletop games. It has given me lots of ideas for games to try and also for games for friends in different stages of gaming. Laura also teamed up with Wil to play a character in his homebrew game called, TITANSGRAVE: THE ASHES OF VALKANA.

In Titansgrave, Laura plays a human cyborg named Lemley. Get ready for feels and lots of laughs when you watch this one. Lemley made me realize just how talented Laura really is at RPGs. Lemley is so different from Vex, and Laura gave her just as much love and attention. Titansgrave is also a really great series to watch for new RPGers. Laura and the rest of the cast do a great job of bringing you into the game. You really root for these characters as they try to accomplish their missions, which is a testament to the players.

Laura Bailey is a talented and hard working woman in the gaming industry. She tries to give back to the community. She makes mistakes and, literally, keeps on rolling. Laura really is a great role model for those of us trying to find our gaming style in the world of RPGs. I really admire her for her courage to be so expressive with her characters’ emotions. She also brings so much real joy to her gaming.

Always keep sparkling, my friends!

Influential Female Characters: Princess Zelda

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I know a lot of people who love Princess Zelda. Why wouldn’t they? She’s beauty. She’s grace. She’ll punch you in the face. Well, that is all dependent on which incarnation of Zelda one is playing, that is. She has evolved and changed with every version of The Legend of Zelda that has been released.

Despite her name being in the title of of the games, Princess Zelda is not the main character. The main character is our own pot smashing Link. In every game, we have a different version of Link. Usually he is saving or aiding Zelda. Then why name the games after Zelda? Because there would be no need for Link to be adventuring if not for Zelda.

Yes, she starts off as a damsel in distress, but in many of the newer games, Zelda handles herself fairly well. Also every Princess Zelda is chosen by fate, though often also a member of the ruling family,  to be charged with the Triforce of Wisdom. So, basically, she is a boss with all the wisdom to rule and a chosen one to boot. So yes, her name should be in the title of all the games.

In the first Legend of Zelda game, Zelda is not even seen until after Link defeats the big boss. However, she guides him throughout the game. Zelda usually has some form of psychic powers, including telepathy and sometimes premonitions. She is always very wise and fair in her judgement, which makes her a wonderful ruler. It, however, does not seem to be able to help her evade being captured.

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Zelda’s age and appearance depend largely on the game and Link’s age. Sometimes she is a child, a teenager or a young woman. Usually she has blonde hair – though sometimes brown – with blue eyes, pointed ears and long dresses. There are a few times where she wears boots and pants. Normally she looks very much the picture of a princess. She is always proficient with music.

Her role in the games also varies depending on the game. In earlier games she was normally a damsel for Link to save. There are times when she even wields Link’s blade. In some games, she has her own sword. Other times she has a bow and arrows.

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She is a kind ruler. Zelda tends to be forgiving of those who have wronged her. However, if you hurt someone she cares about, *coughLinkcough*, all bets are off. Her relationship with Link changes from game to game. Sometimes they seem to be together romantically by the end of the game. She does always seem to care about him and his welfare.

I like how feminine she is. I like how she is always strong, but not always in the way of having to physically fight. Zelda does everything within her power to protect her people. At the end of the day, Zelda is a really interesting character. I think it is important for her strength of mind to be something for gamers to look to as a positive trait as well. Sometimes we push away characters like Zelda because they are not always physically strong. That is is a mistake. Zelda has a lot of positive qualities that we can look to and emulate. 

Here is to Princess Zelda, the chosen princess of her people and overall boss!

Always keep sparkling, friends!

Influential Female Characters: Chun-Li

Influential Female Characters: Chun-Li

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Let’s just be honest about this from the jump; Chun-Li is a boss. She is the first female playable character in fighting games. The unofficial First Lady of arcade games. She has a great backstory and an unwavering sense of justice. Also, it is just so fun to play her and kick the actual snot out of people.

Chun-Li is also one of my favorite characters because she is closely tied with my early childhood.

When I was a kid, we went out for pizza a lot. Most of the local pizza places had some arcade style games. The real arcade was too far, so this was where my brother, my cousins and I played these games. One of these restaurants had Street Fighter. My brother and I loved Street Fighter. I always played Chun-Li. I loved how strong she was. I particularly loved how she could kick forever and kick so high. Thankfully, the owners thought it was cute to have me yell; “KICK! KICK! KICK!” as Chun-Li would decimate her opponents in battle. You can get away with causing some shenanigans as a cute little girl in pigtails bent on slaughter till your pizza is ready.

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There weren’t a lot of choices for me as a little girl to play a female character that were not a damsel in distress. Chun-Li was that option. She has always been a capable and highly ranked character in the games. She high kicked her way into my heart and let me know I could get myself out of situations and even be a little sassy about it.

Now that I am older, I can also really appreciate her backstory. Most of the time her origin story is that, as a little girl, she was very interested in martial arts and her father trained her. Her father was a detective who would go missing. She became a detective herself to find him. From there, she goes to all sorts of places and lengths to stop villains. 

chun-li_various_agesChun-Li fights for justice. Sometimes she fights for vengeance. She is a police officer and an overall likable person. She has been voiced and played by some pretty cool actresses, including Ming-Na Wen in the movie of which we do not speak from 1994.

Chun-Li is a fun character. She doesn’t have to be someone’s girlfriend. She is a career women with a backstory that is a part of her but does not define her. She uses her talents to help others. Chun-Li is also a favorite of cosplayers and who could blame them with her cool outfit? Honestly she is just a really great character to play.

Let us know what you think about Chun-Li in the comments below!

Always keep sparkling (and kicking), my friends!

Influential Female Characters: Lara Croft

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Lara Croft. It only seems fitting for me to start off this first blog post of Influential Female video game characters with Lara. I have spoken about how she is one of my favorite characters. I like her for a lot of reasons; she is smart, sexy and she gets to raid tombs. Basically Lara is everything I wanted to be as a kid. She has come a long way and I am excited to explore some of her story with you, my dear readers. So grab your gear and let’s dive in.

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So I have to be honest with you. My first encounter with Lara Croft was the movie, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider from 2001, so that is where we are going to start. I was in high school watching it with two of my best friends and we loved it. One of them played the games and she was the one who had got us together to watch the movie. We watched that movie a lot. We quoted it a lot. I loved how smart Lara was. I loved her lust for adventure. I loved that she was so unapologetic about being herself.

It didn’t hurt that she got to look for valuable artifacts. I had wanted to be an archaeologist for as long as I could remember when I was growing up but had been beginning to believe I couldn’t be. Up to that point, I hadn’t really seen any kick ass female archaeologists. Lara made me feel like I could go after the later dream if I wanted. Guys like Indiana Jones no longer got to have all the fun. The movie, even with its flaws, fueled my need for a female role model and was my gateway into the Tomb Raider series.

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The first Tomb Raider game debuted in 1996. Its protagonist was, somewhat surprisingly, a female archaeologist. Lara has gone through many different games which has given us many different backstories for her. She has been an heiress who shunned her old life, a woman searching for answers about her parents through the unexplored and a woman who hungers for adventure no matter what the cost. Through all of it there is one theme that is the same; Lara is a survivor.

She loses her parents and survives. Lara makes it through some pretty crazy places in the games and survives.She fights of foes both natural and supernatural. Through every evolution though Lara is, well, Lara. She never loses her drive.She continues to evolve and become more herself. 

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Lara is influential because she is female. She is also a person. She is never not portrayed as a person. She has flaws and is very real for a lot of us. She has dimensions and layers. Lara wears what she wants. She goes after what she wants. She does not strive to be a man. She just lives her life the way she wants.

Lara Croft is smart, she is sassy, she is capable, flawed and female without the last being her only quality. That is why she is the first influential women I will write about. Because she is a women who gave me the courage to be a dreamer and a person despite how people see my gender.

This Month in Gaming History December

This Month in Gaming History December

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It is a magical time of the year. There is a chill in the air. Lights are everywhere and there are all kinds of treats. Children are excited for gifts. Oh wait, gifts! For many people, December is also a time for gift giving. Maybe some retro games will give you ideas for the gamers in your life…or, you know, yourself.

Consider me your personal ghost of games past. Ready? Here we go.

Final Fantasy

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Record breaking doesn’t even begin to describe this game. Final Fantasy is an extremely popular series of games. In 1987, the first Final Fantasy RPG was released by Square Enix. The newest installment of the game was just released in November of this year, which is a strong indication of just how much people love these games.

Commander Keen

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The first Commander Keen game was released in December of 1990. It is a side scrolling game. Play as Commander Keen, AKA the kid genius protagonist. He uses his ray gun to help protect the Earth from alien invaders.

Monkey Island 2

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Sequels are always fun.  Monkey Island 2 was released by LucasArts in 1991. The game continues with its wannabe pirate protagonist. It has had a lot of commercial and critical success. Monkey Island 2 was even able to get a HD remake in 2010.

Doom

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Doom was first released as sharewhere in December of 1993. Doom is a first person shooter game that was playable on PC. id Software encouraged the game to be shared freely which lead to its huge numbers of gameplay. The game would be released worldwide on multiple platforms years later.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

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It only seems fitting to end this month with a Star Wars game, since we will have a new movie this month. Star Wars: The Old Republic was released in 2011. Players are able to choose between different classes. They also get to choose whether they are Republic or Sith. The different classes give the player different stories to level up with. So, which side you would choose? Leave us a comment below. 

Hopefully Real Women of Gaming’s little helper here has given you some ideas for gifts while we looked back on Christmas past. I also hope that, whatever you celebrate, this season is full of fun and love. I wish you all the happiest of Holidays!

Much love and always keep sparkling. 

This Month in Gaming History November

This Month in Gaming History November

November is an odd month. For some people it is a month of abundance. Of food and fun times with family. For some the prospect of family get togethers are not an option or worse. Wherever you land on that spectrum, here are some games to discuss or play this month.

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Pong

In 1972 Atari released the first commercial video game. Pong revolutionized video games. It was like playing table tennis in an arcade. The player uses the buttons to keep the ball moving back and forth to score points.

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Alien Carnage was released worldwide in 1993 for DOS. It is a cartoon style game. The player is trying to stop aliens from taking over the planet. The player uses various weapons, including a flamethrower, which the player can purchase. The player is also able to free hostages along the way.

Warcraft

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This one lead to the game that has become a favorite for some of the staff here at Real Women of Gaming. Warcraft was released by Blizzard Entertainment in 1994. The first game was a real time strategy game where players would control their army. Warcraft has inspired multiple games, books, trading cards and a whole horde (haha, get it?) of other merchandise.

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Baldur’s Gate was released in 1998. It is a role playing game set in the Forgotten Realms. That’s right Dungeons and Dragons. Baldur’s Gate was very well received with gamers. It is even credited with helping to revitalize computer role playing due to its popularity. It has also had many expansions for players to choose from.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

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In 2011, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim  was released. Not surprisingly with this series, Skyrim was hugely popular. It sold in the millions. It is a game with a playable character who is trying to destroy a dragon who is prophesied to destroy the world. The character improves their skills by completing quests to get to their ultimate goal.

Whew. There were a lot of big names released in Novembers past. Hopefully I gave you some dinner conversation. Even better, I have given you something to play this month.

In the spirit of gratitude, I would just like to thank you, my friends and readers. Thank you for all the views you have given us. Thanks for sticking with me this year while I found great games for us to remember. Thanks for just being amazing. I, and the rest of the staff, are just so grateful for all of you.

Always keep sparkling!

Thia the Bard’s Top 10 Horror Games

Thia the Bard’s Top 10 Horror Games

Here it is friends. October! My favorite month. It is filled with thrills and chills. Speaking of thrills it only seemed to proper to make this month’s Top 10 horror themed. Yes, it’s time to get spooky.

Here are some games to help you get into the Halloween spirit.

1. Five Nights at Freddy’s

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I don’t think I could compile a list like this without including this game. Five Night’s at Freddy’s is a horror game that, while it has limited gameplay, has been a fan favorite. Many of our favorite gamers to watch have been playing the games as they try to survive the night as an employee of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. While there isn’t a lot to the gameplay, the setting, music and overall theme does bring the scares.

2. Betrayal at House on the Hill

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Betrayal at House on the Hill is a favorite here at Real Women of Gaming. Wizards of the Coast developed this tabletop game that is a great one for any Halloween party. Players choose a character and start to explore the house by choosing different cards. The house builds as you play. Meanwhile, players are trying to acquire helpful items without flipping the tile that will set off an event that will lead to sudden yet inevitable betrayal of someone in your party. Then it is a game of survival against whatever horror has been unleashed.

3. Slender: The Arrival

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This one may be a little controversial to some people due to recent events. Slender: The Arrival is a survival game. Armed only with a flashlight, the player explores abandoned areas. Slenderman, based on the Creepy Pasta, flashes in and out of the player’s line of sight. His frequency and aggression depending on the level.

4. Dead of Winter

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Dead of Winter brings in an antagonist we can’t seem to get enough of, zombies. Wait…are the zombies really the biggest threat to the players? Every player chooses a character to play. Every character has a hidden agenda. A player could be hoarding gasoline because their card says to or they could be hoarding it because they are secretly working against everyone else. How do you know who to trust? With the undead at your door and shady people at your back, this game is a great horror tabletop.

5. Silent Hill

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Silent Hill is a horror game that has spawned multiple sequels and two movies. The games are set in a fictional town inspired by the real life burning Centralia in Pennsylvania. The town has multiple dimensions, one regular and the others are monster infested. The protagonist must complete different tasks and try to survive the monsters and baddies of the town. The games and the first movie are very popular. The games have been featured on many playthroughs and the characters have been used by many cosplayers.

6. Ouija

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There is a long history of people using “talking boards” to communicate with the dead. They gained popularity in America during the Spiritualist movement which began in the mid 1800s. The Ouija board has letters, numbers, “yes”, “no” and “goodbye” written on the board. The players use the planchette as a tool to communicate with the spirits following the rules of the game. There has been controversy that has come from many religious groups about a game being marketed for children that could open a door to demons or evil spirits.  Does it really, though?

7. The Uncle Who Works for Nintendo

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Recently, I was watching one of my favorite YouTubers and they started to play The Uncle Who Works For Nintendo. It is a text-based horror game. The player clicks on different options that then change the direction of the game. The game is fun. It also isn’t that long, even if the player goes for all the different endings.

8. Rippers

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Rippers is perfect for gamers who love both RPGs and the idea of being monster hunters. This game is set in a Victorian world with monsters on the loose. The players create characters who hunt the monsters down in a Van Helsing fashion. It sounds like a blast for a Halloween themed campaign.

9. Fran Bow

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Fran Bow is a game that our own Vanri the Rogue has been playing. After the murder of her parents, Fran is sent to a mental asylum for children. Her beloved cat, Mr. Midnight, cannot be found. After having a dream about him, she decides to run away to find him and her only living relative. The player solves puzzles and finds objects to help Fran on her quest.

10. Elder Sign

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Elder Sign is a personal favorite. I know it is found on a lot of these lists, but that’s because it’s a great game. The main goal of the game is to choose a character to help keep the Old Ancient Ones, like our lord and savior Cthulhu, from leaking into the Earth. Characters have special abilities to try to help them get artifacts and keep their sanity. The only problem is that you are reliant on the dice which, honestly, are always trying to kill us. It is a kind of complicated game, but so much fun. What more could you ask for this Halloween?

There you have it, my fiendish friends. I hope you bring out some of this frightful fun for Halloween this year!

Always keep sparkling!