Friday I’m In Love

Princess Zelda Siames Escalante Press Start 3 Ltd Art Gallery

Princess Zelda by Siames Escalante available at Ltd Art Gallery

Hello my lovelies!

Did you notice my new logo? Isn’t it gorgeous? I’m so happy with it I still swoon every time I see it. It was made by the very talented (and patient) Chris Salazar. Check out his work, he’s great!

This week was another whirlwind in indie game development, but I do feel like things are (actually) starting to settle down. I even tried out a new yoga studio. Yay!

This weekend I have the honour of acting as a judge for the first ever Montreal Independent Games Festival and I’ll be recording an interview for my friend Cindy’s podcast Things. I’ll have lots more details on all of that as it happens.

Link time!
Some thoughts on my recent trips to GDC & PAX East.

Why video games scroll left to right. Guess what? It’s SCIENCE!

The secret Ketamine origins of Ecco the Dolphin.

Can we stop agonizing over “screen-time” for our kids?

Interview with the director of GTFO about women, games and harassment.

Could video games lead to better stroke recovery stats?

How many of these awesome lady-centric comics are you reading? I’m only on 4, but they all look great!

Clickhole made a noir-themed text adventure. It’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect. (That is to say, it’s AMAZING!)

I haven’t seen Jupiter Rising, but this article kind of makes me want to.

Even Lara Croft has trouble dying on mic.

Friday I’m In Love

Possessed Pixels | Friday I'm In Love | Gamerwife

Possessed Pixels available at Cherry Sauce

Hello lovelies!

How was your week?

I’m finally getting into the groove of this whole “independent game development” thing.

I think.

At least, I managed to get some VERY IMPORTANT but VERY BORING things done. Also, I managed to nail down accommodations in San Francisco for when I attend the Game Developers Conference in March, which is good because I don’t think Rick was that into the idea of me sleeping at the bus station…

This weekend I am looking forward to cooking a romantic meal for two with my hubby and then stocking up on discounted Valentine’s Day candy. What are you up to?

Link time!

Totally forgot to post this IGDA demo night roundup two weeks ago when it was relevant, but you guys don’t need to know that. I’d also give shout-outs to Black the Fall, Curses ‘N Chaos, Close Castles & KWAAN.

Heartbreaking piece about The Sims and divorce.

Yes, Gamergate is still happening. And it’s still scary.

Now that I am actually living the life on indie dev, I can tell you, number 5 is so real it hurts.

Speaking of indie games, I really liked this article about how indie isn’t a path to AAA. For most devs, it’s actually the opposite.

Do games have to be a power fantasy? What if you aren’t the hero?

Animals sneezing!

Honestly, part of the reason I’m so proud to be in game dev is to prove to other women that we can!

Need to add Cardboard Utopia to this list of 21 small game studios to watch in 2015.

And finally, I am soooo excited for the new game experience from my friends at KO-OP Mode.

Life Is Strange – Unreview

I know that earlier this year I said that I wasn’t going to do game reviews anymore. I was concerned about the time involved and possible conflicts of interest, but I just played a game that I really want to talk to you about. So I came up with the idea of the “unreview.”

I’m not going to be doing a traditional review of the game where I weigh the pros and cons and decide whether or not to recommend it. Games that are “unreviewed” are already 100% endorsed by yours truly. Instead, I needed a space to talk about games I enjoyed and feel important enough to share with all of you. A sort of explanation of why you should play them that takes the flaws into account, but isn’t trying to produce a score based on pros vs. cons.

Life Is Strange | Life Is Strange Unreview | Gamerwife

The first game to get the Unreview treatment is Life Is Strange, an episodic game by French developers DONTNOD. The game is narrative focused, there isn’t a lot of “gameplay” as we usually define it, but it’s still more involved than most of what I’d consider “interactive fiction.” It’s more like a playable TV show, inspired by classic high school dramas like Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Friday Night Lights.

Life Is Strange also distinguishes itself in the video game sphere by focusing on two female characters and their relationship. You play as Max Caulfield, a typically awkward, but talented teen recently enrolled at the prestigious Blackwell Academy. Blackwell Academy also happens to be located in her former hometown, where she left her best friend Chloe 5 years ago when her family moved to Seattle. Max is nervous about how to reconnect with Chloe, given that they’ve barely spoken since she left, but she keeps getting sidetracked by mean girls and pushy teachers. When they are finally reunited, Max discovers an incredible power. But what is it for, and will she be able to find out in time?

The power in question is the ability to reverse time, a mechanic that perfectly complements the narrative gameplay so that you really feel like you have power over the outcome of the story. Didn’t like the way a conversation went? No sweat, just reverse time and give the answer you should have. Made a hasty decision and someone got hurt? Rewind that sucker and see if you can change the way it plays out. There are the occasional puzzle that involves rewinding time in the right sequence in order to collect needed items, etc. but that’s as difficult as the gameplay gets.

If you can operate a keyboard and a mouse, you can play Life Is Strange.

Others have criticized the game for sounding like a bunch of French dudes trying to write like teenager girls, but I found a lot of the time the cringe worthiness of some of the name dropping dialogue was due to its resemblance to how I spoke as an uber-pretentious 19 year old. That said, there is still a lot of awkwardly treehorned-in slang, but there was enough sincerity to even the most eye-roll worthy lines to give them a pass. I especially like how vulnerable Max is as a protagonist. Her earnest, yet snarky inner dialogue really reminded me of Rainbow Rowell’s heroines, brave but unaware.

Finally, if gameplay and story weren’t enough for you, the game is beautiful to look at. Yes, some of the animations are a little wonky here and there, but the painterly style of the art (ironic given that photography is a major part of the plot) is really stunning. It really gives a warm, sunny, nostalgic cast to the Pacific Northwest setting and reinforces the sort of hyper-real atmosphere Max finds herself in. If you don’t take my word for it, just check out some of the amazing screenshots from the game’s Steam page.

The first episode is available on PC and consoles for $5 and if you like YA novels, you will like this game. If you like comic books about real girls with crazy powers, you will like this game. If you like high school shows with kickass girls, you will like this game. And if you like games that involve more than just shooting things, you will like this game.

Seriously. Play this game.

Nerdy Valentine’s Gift Guide 2015

For this Valentine’s Day I figured I’d do something a little different and I made up a gift guide that’s 100% for dudes. Or girls who like wearing dude things. Or, well, everyone… I guess…

In any event, I opted to steer clear of the traditional baubles and perfume type gifts and highlight fun video game themed items (with one obvious exception) that you can get for your special someone this Valentine’s Day.

Or not.

I’m not your boss.

Gamerwife Valentine's Gift Guide 2015

1. “Control Freak” Silk Tie by Cyberoptix | 2. Sterling silver EVE Online Gallente Federation tie pin by Beaujangles | 3. Bowser T-Shirt by La Manette | 4. Manly Kitty Skivies by Stasia Burrington | 5. Rapture Costume Ball Cushion by Arcane

Who’s joining me for waffles on Galentine’s day?

Friday I’m In Love

Super Time Force by Dominique Ferland (Dom2D) | Friday I'm In Love | Gamerwife

Super Time Force by Dominique Ferland (Dom2D) available at InPrint

Yet another crazy week here at Gamerwife HQ. I’ve jumped headfirst into my role as the business/community manager for Cardboard Utopia and couldn’t be happier, although my free time has quickly gone from abundant to non-existent. Which isn’t to say I don’t get to have fun, it’s just a much more controlled sort of fun. This weekend will be spent nursing this nasty cold/virus and finally giving Life Is Strange a shot.

Here’s your links!
Cute debate about the replay value of classic video games.

Does your avatar’s weight affect your video game workout?

Who wouldn’t want Portal scented candles? (Srly tho, check out the site for incredibly lux video game goods).

Do you crochet? My friend Neri has 10 amigurumi patterns inspired by video games.

Why cats love boxes. Explained by SCIENCE!

Furniture building game with wonky physics a la surgeon simulator. A.K.A. Ikea: The Video Game. A.K.A. The ultimate relationship test.

Shout out to Image Comics and the awesome work they’re doing in portraying trans characters.

Don’t like gendered toy commercials? Remix your own!

Pretty good essay on the importance of BioWare’s sexuality inclusiveness.

And finally, is the lure of a sweet pro-gaming contract driving video game addiction rates in Asia?