Mouse Smash

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


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Women in games in the media–it’s still sexist. Ugh.

So, as we all know, Halo 5: Guardians is coming out early next week, and there’s been plenty of press about that. The head of the studio, Bonnie Ross, is a woman. She’s a woman in a very unique position in the game industry–statistically, when women work in games, they’re usually more junior than their male counterparts. And, she’s also Corporate Vice President at Microsoft Studios, so that’s a LOT of high-leveled work going on there.

So when Bloomberg published this piece about Ross, I was super excited to read it. It’s not like you get a lot of news about women in the game industry. All in all, it’s not a bad piece. It talks about the Halo franchise, and about what her job is like. It talks about the scope of her work, when she’s in meetings and playtesting and meeting people at conventions, and how she has turned the studio around to make Halo continue to be a smash hit after so many years. These are massive achievements, and not anything to dismiss lightly. 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.

morality1

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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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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“What kind of geek are you?”

whatgeek1I didn’t self-identify as a geek for a very long time. As a child, I loved the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from the 80s, but that wasn’t particularly geeky, because all kids my age liked the Turtles. In a third grade spelling test we were told to spell the longest word we knew, and I managed to get out “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”, not because I was an academic overachiever, but because I thought that Mary Poppins was an awesome movie. I liked reading, but I was much more drawn to writers like Roald Dahl and, later, Jeffrey Archer and Michael Crichton, than Terry Pratchett or Neil Gaiman. I didn’t even touch a Marvel or DC comic until I was about 20.

But the reason I’m writing about my unassumed geekiness is because I was once presented with the question, “but what kind of geek are you?” and I was speechless. That question left me stumped for days. How on earth do you answer something like that? I’ve had geeky interests my whole life, but they just haven’t presented themselves to me as geeky per se. I just thought that they were interests that everyone had. Everyone likes Ninja Turtles, right? Everyone wants to be a superhero, right? Wouldn’t that make everyone a geek? Continue reading


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Some Observations about Comments about Marriage

Okay, to start, I am generally opposed to the institution of marriage. I think it’s archaic and ought to be unnecessary, except to gain a particular legal status that everyone should have the right to anyway. I’m definitely not the type of woman who has been planning her dream wedding since the age of five, and even if I had, I’m pretty sure my dream wedding would involve me riding a dinosaur, so it’s not like that was going to happen. However, there are specific reasons why I need to go through this stupid and outdated process, so here I am.

Anyway, we’ve been engaged for over a year, but it wasn’t until we started planning the actual event that I realized just how obnoxiously gendered the culture and language around weddings was. I already knew about the sexist traditions of a bride having her father literally give her away (although now there are several alternatives), the bride’s parents traditionally being burdened with the costs of the wedding (and even with the “modern” versions making the costs more equitable, they’re still predominantly for the bride’s family to cover), but once I told people that I was getting married, there was a clear shift in what they thought I would be interested in talking about, and many assumptions were made about certain norms I was apparently supposed to adhere to.

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