Leda “Leedzie” Clark

This month, Good Games Writing is going to do something special. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday we’re going to post a brief feature highlighting the work of a woman in games writing. These women are critics, journalists, bloggers, scholars, let’s players, artists, musicians and on and on. They are good games writers. Today we take a look at Leda “Leedzie” Clark, game designer, blogger and an occasional contributor to Place2Be Nation. Clark left me the task of writing her profile, so I hope I succeed in bringing another excellent writer some well-deserved coverage.

Sherry Jones

This month, Good Games Writing is going to do something special. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday we’re going to post a brief feature highlighting the work of a woman in games writing. These women are critics, journalists, bloggers, scholars, let’s players, artists, musicians and on and on. They are good games writers. Today we turn our attention to Sherry Jones, a games researcher, teacher and philosopher. Professor Jones has produced a wide variety of works in a wide variety of formats, having written blog posts, books and scholarly articles, but she also frequently releases podcasts, videos, tutorials and multimedia presentations that expand outside traditional forms.

As exciting as it is to see someone creating such a diverse body of work, it is difficult to summarize without neglecting something. So I will instead leave that task to her:

Carly Smith

This month, Good Games Writing is going to do something special. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday we’re going to post a brief feature highlighting the work of a woman in games writing. These women are critics, journalists, bloggers, scholars, let’s players, artists, musicians and on and on. They are good games writers. We start this week with Carly Smith, journalist, games critics, blogger and cosplay writer for a number of major games news outlets like The Escapist and Polygon in addition to the work found on her personal blog. Smith covers a variety of topics in geek culture, by no means limited to games. Her latest project, Who Am I? explores the cross-section between community and cosplay and provides and introduction into the creative art of costuming.

Rachel Kowert

This month, Good Games Writing is going to do something special. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday we’re going to post a brief feature highlighting the work of a woman in games writing. These women are critics, journalists, bloggers, scholars, let’s players, artists, musicians and on and on. They are good games writers.

This edition looks into the work of Rachel Kowert. Though Dr. Kowert was awarded her doctorate just this year, she’s build a remarkably robust CV in that time, including several peer-reviewed chapters and articles. She has been kind enough to summarize her research and conclusions on her blog for those without access to academic literature.

As a psychologist, most of Jowett Q’s research examines the social dynamics of games, particularly online games, in an effort to understand how they facilitate or fail as social tools. Much of her research investigates the changing stereotypes, identity and emotionality of gamers and games culture. Her interest in online subcultures and in gamer stereotypes comes from her personal experience with the myriad of interconnected variables that make up “gamers.” She describes her journey to her discipline and research focus as follows:

Alice Kojiro

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This month, Good Games Writing is going to do something special. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday we’re going to post a brief feature highlighting the work of a woman in games writing. These women are critics, journalists, bloggers, scholars, let’s players, artists, musicians and on and on. They are good games writers. Today’s feature focuses on Alice Kojiro, essayist, FAQ writer and critic at Gaming Symmetry. Gaming Symmetry’s focus is on games as phenomenological, psychological works of art and in her time there, Kojiro has etched out a distinct voice as one of the most analytical writers to be found anywhere. She stands out as one of the most knowledgeable writers anywhere on RPGs, particularly of Japanese origin and style, and her writing meshes personal experience and artistic analysis with rare deftness. You can see what I mean in the following summary:

Book Review: Leave Luck To Heaven

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Of all the forms a book about videogames could take, lyrical prose would be one of the last to suspect as a viable candidate. Floating somewhere between poetry, magical realism, and personal memoir, lyrical prose is a difficult writing style to pull off with honesty and verve. It requires a certain amount of cooperation from the reader, who must be willing to forgive a lack of practical clarity in favor of emotional overtures and abstract details that form a story which might only resonate with the author. It’s a personal, risky form of writing, yet one that happens to fit perfectly in the context of videogames.

Brian Oliu, an English professor at the University of Alabama, has written a collection of lyrical prose framed by his memories of playing videogames in the 8-bit era. Leave Luck to Heaven (taken from the English translation of “Nintendo”) divides its brief, retrospective essays according to the games that defined Oliu’s childhood, from all-time classics like Super Mario Bros., to deep cuts unfamiliar to a child of the 64-era like myself, such as Adventure Island and Shadowgate.

Each chapter bears the title of one of these games, wherein Oliu pulls a thread vaguely related to the game in question until the sweater has gone and laid him bare, displaying what we can only surmise are deeply buried emotional memories that these games helped him unearth.

“Its most impressive achievement is that it’s a book that has replay value.”

Few of the essays are longer than two pages, which makes the volume a brisk read, even at 50 chapters. The brevity should not be mistaken for paucity, however. Oliu’s prose is prismatic, shifting between nostalgia, levity, sadness, excitement, joy, and regret with remarkable economy and pointedness. In between the chapters focused on specific games Oliu peppers in little respites, essays that repeat common themes, called “Save Points” and “Boss Battles.”

With every page, Oliu further submerges the reader in familiar NES vocabulary, allowing them to sync together with the emotional contact points of each chapter. Make no mistake, though the body of Leave Luck to Heaven is prose poetry and personal recollection, it is a book for the videogame literate.

balloonfightOne need not understand the language immediately  or rationally: Because the words and stories come from a place of shared knowledge, there’s an enjoyment from often returning to the book over time, opening to a random chapter and reading from there. It’s incredibly satisfying diving in, bridging the  gap from videogame reference to human experience  as you read. The chapter titled “Donkey Kong,” in which a man dresses for a funeral by trying to select– what else? — the proper tie to wear, is a highlight. Excerpt:

 Here is a pair of trousers. Put the left leg in. Put the right leg in. Understand that there are ladders that you cannot climb- there are rungs missing. Wrap the belt around your waist like a tongue. Push the metal clasp through the hole and tighten. Make it press against your stomach: you were not meant for clothes. Later, slap at the leather like an oaf, like an ape. You do not deserve to wear anything, especially today. These are not the tools you know how to use. There is a hammer floating here- you do not know what it does. You cannot fix the holes. You cannot climb the ladder. You are afraid of heights. You are afraid of climbing. Start there.

Oliu bonds abstract-yet-relatable human stories with the language of gaming. In this way, Leave Luck to Heaven’s most impressive achievement is that it’s a book that has replay value, inviting readers to return to it for the same comforting or cathartic nostalgia inherent in the games that inspired it. Though the spirit of the book thrives in the past, its effect is wholly innovative. Each essay coalesces into a larger truthful and beautiful whole. It is good games writing at its purest.

Leave Luck to Heaven is available through Uncanny Valley Press.

Editor’s Note: This review is based on a copy provided by the publisher for review purposes.

 

Becky Chambers

This month, Good Games Writing is going to do something special. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday we’re going to post a brief feature highlighting the work of a woman in games writing. These women are critics, journalists, bloggers, scholars, let’s players, artists, musicians and on and on. They are good games writers. Today we are featuring Becky Chambers a writer, novelist and editor formerly for The Mary Sue. Even though recently retired from the games writing scene, her voice was one of the most positive and distinct in games writing and it was a pleasure to hear how she came into games writing:

#GGWTalk Nov 15, 2014

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Tonight’s #GGWTalk is about mental health and gaming.

We welcome all participants to join the conversation under the hashtag and by tweeting us @GoodWritingVG.

Given the nature of the topic at hand, we want to remind participants that this is meant to be a safe conversation. We will not pass judgment on those participating and we hope to create as positive environment as possible.

Some of the conversations will tend towards the personal. We understand and accept that not all will be able to or willing to share their personal tales. That’s fine, and we hope you find something to glean from the experiences of others. For those capable of coming forward, we think it provides benefit to not only you, but others going through similar pains. Alas, as is any online conversation, there are certain risks.

Resources:

We understand these conversations can be challenging, exhausting, and intense in other ways. We encourage you to reach out for support should you be triggered by any aspect of the conversation.

Canadian Mental Health Association

Mentalhealth.gov –> links to get help as well as “Immediate” help

Mind UK –> information, urgent help, etc

National Suicide Prevention Hotline

The Samaritans –> confidential, non-judgmental emotional support

Children’s Help Phone

Mayo Clinic –> general info on mental health

eMentalHealth.ca –> general info on mental health

Take This –> a gamer centric mental health charity

Hannah DuVoix

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This month, Good Games Writing is going to do something special. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday we’re going to post a brief feature highlighting the work of a woman in games writing. These women are critics, journalists, bloggers, scholars, let’s players, artists, musicians and on and on. They are good games writers. The first woman who we are featuring in this series is Hannah DuVoix, writer, designer, and editor-in-chief of The Ontological Geek, who was kind enough to submit this feature in her own words:

Orange Dot Campaign

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It’s been too long. The last time we properly spoke, the #GamerGate movement had only been underway for a short time. We came out against the harassment the movement was enabling and challenged proponents of the movement there for ethical discussions to abandon the mantle and re-start discussions. We made these statements early and these have stood as our only commentary on the matter.

Now, we’re more than two months in, and the environment feels increasingly toxic. That’s not what we’re about.

Starting this Saturday, November 8th, we’ll launch our Orange Dot campaign. The Orange Dot Campaign has one mission: Take back this space we hold so dearly. Through the next 30 days, we’re going to hit you with positivity in various forms, each and every day.

Orange is the New Black

We’re kicking things off by encouraging you to change your Twitter and other social media icons to an orange dot or similar for the duration of the event, or to add one to your current avatar. This is our show of solidarity; our banner for those out to leave a positive impact in the gaming space.

Why an orange dot? Orange is about as opposite the negativity you can get. We think of the orange dot in different terms though – it’s like that welcoming indicator on Skype informing you that someone is there to talk and listen. It’s an invitation for a good conversation.

Some have already done it and with various effect. Check out @fazor3D, @thirdkoopa, and our own account @GoodWritingVG to see various orange dots. We’re not necessarily asking you to change your avatar — you can change your background, tweet an image out, do whatever. Raise awareness. You’ll be seeing us promote various orange dots as we go.

Here’s a dot in Wikimedia Commons for you to use if you desire. [Click]

Here’s some of what we’ve got coming to go along with it all…

Our Lucas Guimaraes will officially be kicking off our video series Pick 3, where we compare three budget friendly games and tell you which will be worth your time. Our Nick Kummert will begin his time as Development Officer, and we’ve booked a couple of interesting chats to be had for aspiring games writers.

We’ll be having Mario Kart Mondays, inviting all of you to come out and play Mario Kart 8 online with us. We promise we won’t win every match. On the 22nd, we’ll be celebrating all things Super Smash Bros. with online play, and, if we can manage, a tournament of epic proportions.

On Saturday the 22nd, our friend Jose Cardoso is launching Team GGW’s Extra Life campaign. He’ll be gaming starting Saturday morning for a good cause.  He’s famous for showing off great Nintendo games, and we hope you’ll join his stream. Stay tuned to our Twitter for more news on the specifics.

Also joining Jose, our Evan McIntosh will be streaming The Long Dark on Saturday. He’ll be talking Canadian literary tradition and The Long Dark’s place in that tradition. If you’ve ever wanted insights into the Great Arctic Beyond, this stream will be informative. Also, there will be many, many, deaths.

So far so good, right?

Orange you glad we didn’t say banana?

We’re going wild on Twitter, too! You’re always welcome to join the conversation with us @GoodWritingVG, but we’ll be hosting two Twitter chats we believe are important. The first will take place on November 15th, and will be about mental health and gaming. We hope to make a show of support for mental health awareness in a big way. On November 25th, we’re hosting a Twitter chat on the Games of the Year. We want you to share your favourite gaming moments of the year with us. Both chats will take place on the hashtag #GGWTalk.

Mark Filipowich will be highlighting women creators in our space too. Critics, developers, comic creators, Let’s Players, and more will be featured. Our hope is to present their work, largely in their voice, for you to find new and interesting creators to follow. These features will become a cornerstone of our Orange Dot Campaign – you’ll be seeing a lot of these as we go on. He put out a call for submissions here.

There’s a bunch of other stuff happening, too. We have a book review. We have a couple of original features. We’ll have a handful of giveaways. We’re well underway in our Games Writing of the Year awards. We have something for every day of our Orange Dot Campaign.

Our goal, as it always has been, is to change the discourse. We hope you’ll join us in a month of festivities: Gaming, writing development, sharing great works, and meaningful conversations. These are the things we’re about and we can’t wait to share it all with you.

Team GGW