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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Adventures in QA: Chapter 6: Work-related Microaggressions

So at work I am on a team where we have a lot of disciplines represented. There’s design and art and production and test and whatnot. It’s pretty cool. We are all considered experts in our field and the team works together because everyone brings their mad skillz to the table as it were.

Or so I thought. So, we’ve had a few issues with one of our tools lately and our investigations haven’t brought about any answers. We referred it to an engineer outside our team who gave us an explanation about it. Unfortunately, that explanation was wrong. Continue reading


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Adventures in QA: Chapter 5: Competitive Pricing, or Lack Thereof

I often get phone calls from recruiters asking me if I want to do contract testing jobs for third-party vendors. I guess I put it out there that I play games and that I have done so for over 30 years, so that stands to reason that I know my way around games and consoles enough to work on them.

Now, I know that I’m very fortunate in my current position. I’ve had internal promotions, and gained experience and opportunities that I wouldn’t otherwise have had in other contract positions. I’m also now working in a specialized area of testing that pays a little bit more than the average grunt tester wage. Continue reading


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Cassius #3 Kickstarter is now live!

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Prima (L) and Junia

Guess who’s back, back again? Some of my favorite queer lady comic characters are back! Tell your friends!

(With apologies to Eminem, but really, tell your friends.)

I’ve written about Cassius and its creative team before, and it has been a long while since Issue 2 was out, so here’s an update: the Kickstarter for Issue 3 was launched last week (very aptly on the Ides of March)! Check it out here! 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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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