Okay, internet. It’s time. After my talk at GaymerX2 on fat characters, and after hearing the folks at Gearbox give their own talk on inclusivity in design, I decided I really wanted to write something about one of the NPCs in Borderlands 2, a Gearbox title. Her name is Ellie, and she’s a big lady mechanic.

Ellie from Borderlands 2

Ellie from Borderlands 2

As I’ve written about before, the issue of fat characters in video games is pretty fraught. Most of the ones that exist are really just awful, pandering to the worst of stereotypes without a hint of consideration, awareness, or empathy. Before GaymerX, I didn’t really know much about Ellie other than her existence, and what the folks at Gearbox shared about her in their panel. But she intrigued me. I talked to Borderlands writer Anthony Burch about her, briefly, at the con because I wanted to include her in my talk, and what he told me about her sounded great. So when I got back home I bought Borderlands 2 (again; this was my second time but my 360 was in storage) to play through and see what Ellie was all about.

While the meat of this post goes into specifics after the cut, here’s the gist: there’s a lot about Ellie that I really like, but there’s a lot about her situating within the BL2 game and narrative that unintentionally plays into the most insidious problems that writing a good fat character can have. (more…)

So there’s this thing that bugs me about being gay and I imagine it bothers a lot of other people on the queer spectrum, too. It mostly comes down to: when do I want being gay to “matter?” The problem is that there are two answers to this which are concurrently true –

  1. Always
  2. Never

Doesn’t seem helpful, right? But let me put a few more words into those list items and it might become more clear.

  1. Being gay is part of my whole identity, and I can’t shut it off, and it had a huge impact on my formation as a person, so yeah, it always matters. It’s always going to be there.
  2. There is usually a point in every day where I just want to not have to deal with the bullshit that being queer in the modern world can provide.

Can you see the dilemma? I don’t think it’s resolvable, nor does it really need to be. I think this paradox (can we name it after me? Can it be the Ladyboss Paradox?) mostly informs how we approach creating content. You just need to understand that these two poles exist and try to be aware of how your content falls in the field.

How does this relate to both recently-released Watch Dogs and Transistor, you might ask? Well, check behind the cut for the explanation. NOTE: spoilers for Transistor in post.


A short post for you but my Tumblr is mostly about awful depression feelings I have poured out like an emo poetry slam, so it goes here. No videos/images, sorry America. GUESS WHAT THERE’S A VIDEO I FOUND ONE FUCK YEAH

Anyhow, Patrick Miller made a blog post today called “Fighting games aren’t just about competition” in which he says some on-point and perceptive things. I suggest giving it a read over.

However at the beginning my book gets a mention as a partial inspiration for the post, and I had some thoughts about what he talks about in it, so I wanted to write these out.

If you want the executive summary that might get you to skip this blog post: I agree with Patrick’s post pretty much all the way through in the general. This post of mine is about specifics and adding in some of my views that you would find in the book (and my other work/talks). More after the jump.


Sorry, guys. This isn’t a very funny post, and there’s not going to be any images or videos, mostly because I’m writing it to get something off my chest before something seriously bad happens.

So my friend Mark Vigorito mentioned a story from Slate on Twitter earlier. Specifically, this story, titled “LGBT Microaggressions: Are We Making Mountains out of Molehills?”

The extent to which that story has sent me into a fury is unimaginable and so I’m going to break this down for you piece by piece, after the break.


So I wrapped up Lightning Returns and in the process I had some thoughts about how the history of the FF13 meta-series has gone down. Thus I just sort of sat down and poured them onto the page. In the absence of having any new or interesting critical commentary to post, I figured I’d just throw it up here in case any of you were interested.

The following warnings apply:

  • Spoilers for FF13FF13-2, and Lightning Returns
  • This was not meant to be a coherent blog post; it’s more Exposition-Fu. Just bear that in mind.

With that in mind, feel free to jump in after the cut:


This has been a long time coming. It’s time… to blog about Saints Row. Specifically, the latest game in the series, Saints Row 4. We’re going to get there in a roundabout way, however, so bear with me until this is over.

From SR4 mission "Millerspace"

From SR4 mission “Millerspace”

I want to talk about how Saints Row 4 is a game, about games, about games. If you’re interested in hearing more about this topic, feel free to join me after the cut. Definite (though not Earth-shattering — puns!) spoilers for Saints Row 4 and potentially for Saints Row: the Third ahead. (more…)

So earlier today on Twitter, Denis Farr and I were discussing how mages in the Dragon Age universe have a lot of queer readings, especially in the sense of political queerness in the 70s/80s. In the process I mentioned that I got a similar vibe from the much-maligned cast of Final Fantasy 13, specifically the relationship between “fal’Cie” (power supernatural beings in the setting) and “l’Cie” (e.g. the heroes of the game). In keeping with a drive to shorter stuff more often, I figured I’d delve into that tonight.

REMINDER: This blog is a no-FF13-hating-for-the-sake-of-hating zone. If you don’t like the game and aren’t interested in criticism of it don’t roll up in here telling me about how it’s awful, I’m awful, and especially not how Final Fantasy is dead. We’ve already covered that ground. So my rule is: if you’re going to read/comment on this, do me the favor of backing your assertions up with examples instead of inarguable affective things like “it’s awful.”

Right. Ground rules set, let’s begin. Spoilers for FF13 and FF13-2 follow: (more…)

I’ve realized I probably do too much Mega Buster charging when it comes to blog posts: I wait until I’ve got so fucking much to say that it pours out in a sometimes untempered flood of nonsense that people excusably stop reading 10% of the way through. So today I’m trying an experiment in just getting a quick post out there.

I’m gonna write some stuff about being fat. You were warned. (more…)

So Bryce Mainville wrote a short piece last week about suggestions for overhauling the design of Street Fighter 4‘s main cast. It’s a quick read, and not all that controversial; most of the suggestions are relatively mild changes, but I found the entire post thought-provoking and wanted to elaborate on my thoughts on the subject in general, despite Recent Events™, because regardless of what people think of me, my work, or my book, I actually enjoy fighting games a lot and I’d like to see them do better, much as I’d like to see MOBAs — another genre I enjoy — do better too.

Elena in Ultra Street Fighter 4

She really loves hippos you guys. LOVES THEM.

From this post’s subject you probably expect this post to be about sexualized designs, but to be honest, I don’t necessarily think that’s the problem here. Certainly, the sexualization of some SF characters and their outfits — Cammy’s ridiculous bikini/camo leg paint and Viper’s “hot businesswoman stripper” top — gets on my nerves, but character designs in fighting games in general (SF nor Capcom aren’t especially guilty compared to anyone else) tend to invoke very specific ethnic and gender stereotypes in their designs that sometimes also get on my nerves. And not always for reasons of ZOMG RACISM/MISOGYNY, as I’ll discuss after the cut, but it’s still a thing we need to consider. (more…)

So last night I was part of mostly spectated a discussion on Twitter about the game Divekick. This may or may not have been caused by statements I made earlier that day suggesting that Noah Sasso’s BaraBariBall was, perhaps, a bigger success at taking a core fighting game idea and turning it into something broadly accessible by simplifying it.

Screenshot from "Divekick"

Screenshot from “Divekick”

The resulting conversation… well, you can start at this tweet and read your way down (and down, and down, and down) if you’re interested in how it went. I tried to keep my contributions to a minimum. Why? Because I could kind of tell up front that having a 140-characters-at-a-time asynchronous argument with Divekick‘s creator/director was going to head off the rails fast and, with all apologies to the brave soul that is Joel if he’s reading this, it kinda did.

I decided today that I wanted to get my thoughts out there in blog form, not to protect myself from argument, but so that I could maybe try to articulate what I felt in greater than 140 character chunks. If you’re interested in what I think on the matter, then feel free to check after the break: