Mouse Smash

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


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Seven Indie Games I played in 2016

2016 was a pretty interesting year for games: with the rise of VR and announcements about new generation consoles, there’s a lot more going on for gaming than in previous years. I didn’t get to play everything that I wanted to (of course), and although I played a lot of AAA games as well, I’m trying to spend more time looking at indie offerings. Here (in no particular order) is a quick list of some of the indie games that I played last year and would recommend: Continue reading


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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.

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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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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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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