Mouse Smash

JC Lau's blog about geekery, gender and other rants


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Hayden Black on Gen Zed, the First Animated Show with a Transgender Lead Character

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Hayden Black is a writer, voiceover artist and the creator of Hulu’s Goodnight Burbank. He’s also the creator, writer and director of Gen Zed, an animated comedy about the adventures of four Millennial housemates. What’s notable about Gen Zed is that it is the first animated series with a transgender actress in the lead role—it’s about time! Here, he gives us a bit of background on his upcoming show and the importance of diversity in the media.

Tell us a little about Gen Zed.

It’s an anarchic comedy about growing up whilst immersed in tech. About finding out who we are whilst drowning in choices. It’s also about understanding and accepting each other no matter who we are. So buried in all that punk is a totally hippy vibe.

What are the main characters in the show like?

Real. The one thing I hope separates us from other animated series is that while we might have similar flights of fancy, the people here are real. They’re beautiful, they’re ugly, they’re spiteful, they’re loving, they’re pieces of shit, they’re wonderful. Just like you and me. Continue reading


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Morality and Games, and the Morality of Games

I started contributing to International Games Day @your Library, which is a non-profit, volunteer-run organization to make games inclusive in library collections. In my writing for them, I analyze some issues in games and write down my thoughts. This piece originally appeared on their blog.

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One aspect of playing games is that we can do things in games that we cannot—for a variety of reasons—do in real life. We become fighters, adventurers, characters with distinct motivations and abilities to our actual selves. For example, even if we can’t fly in real life, we might be able to in a game. Or maybe we develop ninja-like fighting skills, while in real life we are horribly uncoordinated.

Notice that the examples I give about are cases where we’re limited by physical boundaries. But what about moral considerations? Just because there are games where we can kill, backstab, steal, and rape, does this mean that we should do those things? What do our moral decisions in games tell us about what kinds of people we are? Continue reading


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Cassius is More than Just “Ass-Kicking Roman Lesbians”

Cassius1I’ve read a lot of comics in my time, but I’ve never really found many that address my non-comic political interests. A possible exception has been Mike Carey and Peter Gross’ The Unwritten series, which discusses things such as metastories and political philosophy, but that’s just one instance. Exceptions are rare.

This is why I was super excited to have the opportunity to review Cassius, which on the face of it, was going to address some of my other interests: I love history, I love Shakespeare, and I love dynamic female characters. Cassius has all of these things in scads, which pleases me immensely. Continue reading


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Games as Art

I started contributing to International Games Day @your Library, which is a non-profit, volunteer-run organization to make games inclusive in library collections. In my writing for them, I analyze some issues in games and write down my thoughts. This piece originally appeared on their blog, and was republished in the Games Round Table of the American Library Association.

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Can games also be considered art? There are games that, to be sure, are described as art, and games that are visually appealing, but can games as a whole be considered an art form?

In this article, I’ll consider the artistic value of games. This can be a heated and controversial topic, so I don’t expect this to solve any age-old debates. However, I hope that I can generate some thoughts on the relationship between games and art, and how games could fit in to the world of art. Continue reading


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Hitditch Cup is a Hit to Showcase Women in Sport

HitditchWhat do you get when you cross Harry Potter fandom and the fastest-growing women’s sport in the world? The Hitditch Cup, hosted by Rat City Rollergirls, of course!

As far as sports and fandom crossovers go, the Hitditch Cup is an apt and often hilarious way of combining roller derby with the Harry Potter fandom. Rat City skater Sher Nobyl filled me in on some of its history: “The original inspiration for the Hitditch Cup was after realizing the personalities of current four home teams of Rat City loosely corresponded with the four houses of Hogwarts,” she said. “So we decided to do a themed fundraiser bout because Harry Potter has so much to draw from: food, costumes, props, spells, and so on.” Continue reading


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So I was reading A-Force #1 when I noticed this…

I have to say that I LOVE A-Force. It’s cleverly written and compelling and has TONS of women in it. I’m so stoked to see how the rest of the story pans out when it continues later this year.

But anyway, I was rereading A-Force #1 today when I noticed this:

FullSizeRenderI guess it makes sense. It’s an ad for some toy based on the Avengers: Age of Ultron, and I’m reading a Marvel comic, so it stands to reason that there’d be advertising for products that might appeal to people who read comics.

EXCEPT THAT A-FORCE IS A STORY ABOUT THE EMPOWERMENT AND REPRESENTATION OF WOMEN AND WHERE THE FUCK IS BLACK WIDOW IN THE AVENGERS HQ TOY ON THIS AD REALLY.

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#WeWantWidow! Do you?

blue-bw-coverOver the weekend in downtown Seattle, you may have seen cosplayers dressed as Black Widow by the International Fountain, or you might have noticed your social media feeds were flooded with pictures of Black Widow. You might have seen that the hashtag #WeWantWidow was trending.

That’s because there was a multi-city flash mob to generate buzz and awareness of the lack of Black Widow on Avengers merchandising, as well as to show support for Black Widow to star in her own movie. Starting in Sydney, Australia at 12:00 pm local time, the “Widow Wave” spread across to Canada and the United States. In cities from Tampa to Ottawa, and from New York City to San Diego, hundreds of cosplayers dressed as Black Widow descended on the streets, while even more online supporters showed their support by changing their profile images to ones of Black Widow, and reposting images or tweeting using the hashtag #WeWantWidow.

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#WeWantWidow campaign is happening NOW!

pink-bw-coverThere’s a social media movement happening right now as I write this. #WeWantWidow is trending.
There are Black Widow Flash Mobs–and it’s the first ever multi-city cosplay flash mob–appearing across the world. Why? Because fans (of all genders) want to see Black Widow get as much representation as her male counterparts. Continue reading


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“Why don’t the characters in my apps look like me?” An interview with Maddie Messer

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Maddie Messer is not your ordinary 12-year-old girl. In March this year, she published an op-ed in the Washington Post after she noticed a disparity between male and female characters in endless runner games on her iPhone.

Although Maddie says that she loves these games, she discovered that there were oftentimes male characters, but not female ones. Or, where there were female characters, they had to be unlocked, while the default character was male. This was problematic. However, there are few statistics about the representation of gender in this genre, so, she set out to prove it. Continue reading


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Celebrating Asian-Pacific Heritage

apam_header_0Did you know that “ketchup” is a Chinese word? Or that the first female gunnery officer in the navy was a Korean-American in 1946? Or that the current Chief Justice of California is a Filipino-American woman? Or that a Chinese-American biologist co-invented the oral contraceptive pill and pioneered in-vitro fertilization?

Asian-Pacific Americans have long since been a part (albeit understated) of the American landscape, and May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month. It’s a time to commemorate the contributions that they have made, and to celebrate the ongoing relationship and cultural diversity that Asian-Pacific Americans provide to American society and culture.

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