Mouse Smash

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


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A Midyear Resolution: Diversify Your Gaming Experience with One Simple Trick

I have played video games since I was three years old, when my mother brought home an Apple IIe computer, and loaded up Pac-Man for me. From there, I went from playing a range of games like Tonk in the Land of Buddy-Bots and the Monkey Island series, to console titles such as Grand Theft Auto, Assassin’s Creed and Halo.

But here’s one thing I’ve noticed: my favorite games will, more often than not, have a protagonist that looks nothing like me. Where games have a single playable character, that playable character is likely to be a man. A white man. Maybe he has a beard, maybe not. He’s probably also straight–perhaps he also has a wife or child or someone close to him who’s died or been kidnapped at the start of the game as a plot device, and he’s probably armed with some sort of gun or melee weapon or both. Continue reading


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An Interview with Feminist Camp!

Feminist Camp is a weekend camp for college-age students that goes beyond classroom or campus activism for networking and learning more about feminism. While Feminist Camp was originally based in New York, it has since expanded to the Seattle area. I had the opportunity to speak to the campers last November, and also got to interview the camp organizers!

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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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A Season’s End: Looking Forward, Looking Back at 2016

A version of this piece was originally published at GeekGirlCon’s blog. In the time (11 days!) between it was published and now, there have been at least two terror attacks internationally (plus one averted), even more influential figures have passed away, and the Electoral College confirmed Trump as President. There are still four days left in the year, which I’m cautiously optimistic will just pass away quickly and uneventfully.

My original plan for this blog post was to write a review of the events of the past 12 months. But, for a lot of us, 2016 was not the greatest year, for a variety of reasons. A lot of scary political things happened, or are still happening, both at home and abroad. Many figures who were influential when we were growing up passed away. Zika, Brexit, having giraffes added to the endangered species list

It’s no wonder that some people have described this year as a giant dumpster fire. Continue reading


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GeekGirlCon ’15 Panel Recap: The Disability Politics of Daredevil

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With Daredevil returning for season two this week, let’s revisit our GeekGirlCon panel on the show! I attended a panel with Elsa S. Henry, a feminist scholar and disability rights activist. She also happens to be legally blind and, given that Daredevil is a show with a blind protagonist, she had several misconceptions about vision impairment to clear up.

“You can still like Daredevil, but here is a perspective you might not have had before,” Henry explained to a full room at the start of the session. She began by disproving several presumptions about what it was like to be blind. “Not all blind people use braille. So a lot of what you see isn’t accurate towards a blind person’s life,” she said, with reference to Matt Murdock’s constant use of a braille output device. “Most people use text-speak; you can hear it and don’t need to mess around with machines. When I watch the show, it’s very difficult not to notice things that don’t make any sense.” Continue reading


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GeekGirlCon Panel Recap: In Conversation: Anita and Zoe

One of the biggest turnouts at GeekGirlCon ’15 was for a panel that was announced at the last minute. “In Conversation, Anita and Zoe” featured special guests Anita Sarkeesian (creator of Feminist Frequency) and Zoe Quinn (game designer and co-founder of Crash Override Network) as they discussed what it was like to be high-profile women in tech, online harassment, and what action we can all take to prevent online abuse.

Elizabeth Sampat, who moderated the panel, started by posing some questions to Sarkeesian and Quinn. “You are both successful women in the public eye,” she said. “What kinds of things do you have to do or put up with that men in similar positions don’t have to do?”

Quinn answered first: “I’m worried that people will see me in public and I look like crap.” With the amount of focus that goes into evaluating women’s appearances, she voices her concerns about how if she doesn’t look “acceptable,” she will find threads on Reddit the next day criticizing how she looks. “There are all the things that go into appearance. I got into game dev and writing so I didn’t have to see people but now with this public thing I have to use makeup. It’s easier now when I think of it as painting a Warhammer mini.” Continue reading


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Team Cassius: The Interview!

Ann Uland, Emily Willis and Cat Batka are the creative squad behind Cassius, a new comic series that depicts Ancient Rome as a wonderfully diverse place, and with a driving story of political intrigue and loads of strong female characters. We’ve reviewed Issue 1 here, and Issue 2 here. Issue 3 comes out in March 2016.

They took a little time out to have a chat with us at GeekGirlCon about Justin Trudeau, their favorite books, and making their own comic company!

L to R: Ann, Emily, Cat. Photo provided by Emily Willis and Ann Uland

L to R: Ann, Emily, Cat. Photo provided by Emily Willis and Ann Uland

Tell me a little about yourselves and Arbitrary Muse Comics. How did you come up with the idea for making your own publication?

Ann Uland: We first met online because I started drawing things for a story Emily was writing. When we started dating, it was pretty natural for us to start coming up with stories we wanted to tell together and comics is the perfect marriage of writing and art for us.

Emily Willis: Arbitrary Muse evolved as a small comics company to encapsulate what we do when we sell our own self-published work and help to distribute other webcomics in print as well. Cassius is our latest project because Julius Caesar is my favorite Shakespearean play and I wanted to work on something inspired by it. Continue reading