Women in 2013 and Where We Stand

We approach the end of 2013, and like always, the end of a year leads us to think back upon the last 11-and-plus months with a retrospective lens.

Pacific Rim and The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug were two of my favorite movies. BioShock Infinite proved that even big-budget video games can actually feel like art. I bought a ton of new Skylander figures. I remain a feminist.

The Representation Project has recently released a video titled “How the Media Failed Women in 2013,” and it’s both an educational and depressing montage of sexism in 2013. Yes, this year has had its highlights for the female sex, and we are ever grateful for the positive representation and accomplishments of our demographic. Nevermind how sad that is, having to cling to these moments and declare them victories; such further proves we are treated as a minority group. Why? We make up more than 50% of the world’s population! And yet all over this planet, women are mistreated to varying degrees.

I love being an American citizen, in large part because we are a relatively tolerant nation when it comes to sex and ethnicity. Relatively, but certainly not completely. Let’s continue fighting for progress, and celebrate the smallest victories without becoming complacent. Never settle, and never let cries of misandry discourage.

How about a bonus, while you’re here? Check out Jennifer Lawrence getting her bones rearranged for a magazine cover. HOT.

At least they left her breasts alone?

I am a public (Internet) figure

I have a Google+ account. Actually, anyone who uses Gmail should have one, so I guess I should say, “I use my Google+ account.”

After I began using (read: actually paying some attention to) my Google+ account, I began noticing a lot of people adding me to their Circles. This felt odd to me. Yes, I have several hundred followers on Twitter, but that’s different.

So I tell my friends, “A lot of random people have me in their Google Circles thing.”

“Well,” one of them says, “you are something of a public figure.”

Oh, I am.

ImageSocializing on the Internet became a thing when I was leaving elementary school and entering junior high. That was in the ’90s at some point, when all the cool kids traded AOL screen names, and none of us really understood the full extent how vast the Internet can be. Heck, I’m pretty sure most people still don’t realize that, in 2013.

I guess I’ve always kind of associated “public” with “famous,” but that’s not really the case — even less so today, thanks to the Internet. I spend most hours of the day plastered to my monitor, whether for work or leisure. I write, tweet, and game. My job involves putting my name out there, way farther than I would have otherwise. For many, this is enough reason for them to become my friend… or add me to their Circle. Maybe they like the idea of being friends with a game “journalist”. Maybe they just want to network, to keep my name handy in case they ever need to contact me for some business reason or another. Who knows.

Despite the nature of my work, I’m a fairly private person. It’s not that I have a bunch of deep dark secrets that can never be known by the outside world. I also happen to like interacting with people, too. Still, regardless of how little others understand the notion, I am private.

Yet I’m posting my full name, work history, education background, and age (less so) on social networking sites. Not that people need even that much to find me on the website of their choosing. Whether through LinkedIn, Google+ or Twitter, I’m giving strangers the window into some aspect of my life.

I am now accessible, and that feels really weird.

Halloween “costumes” for women

Riven_Splash_3“I have to say, shopping for costumes as a girl is pretty hard.”

A friend of mine said that to me earlier this month. I don’t remember the context, but it was apparently a revelation for him.

What he’s referring to is the apparent lack of any legitimate women’s costumes in retail. Oh, sure, they’re still out there, but if you’re someone who keeps up with Halloween trends at all, I don’t have to tell you about this whole “cute” bullshit.

Why is that bullshit? Google any sort of costume with the word “cute.” I went for “cute witch costume,” “cute red riding hood costume,” and “cute angel costume.” Can you guess what the results looked like? Yep, a mix of adorable (legitimately cute) little girl/baby costumes mixed with a good dose of revealing adult versions. Corsets, lace, stockings, short skirts, high heels…

How brainwashed have we become, as a consumer group? I wish it was just a bunch of guys out there catering to other men who are trying to find sexy costumes for girlfriends and wives. Not so. I’ve talked to enough girls out there to realize that women also buy into this crap.

“I’m looking for a cute (insert classic character) outfit.”

Let me tell you: when someone says “cute,” they don’t actually mean cute. They mean adult, revealing, and porno-esque. That’s not me trying to exaggerate, either. Ever seen porn with actual narratives? Red Riding Hood, the maid, nurse, etc. is usually dressed like those models showing off Halloween inventory.

The revealing nature of the attire isn’t the issue for me, though. If a woman wants to dress a certain way, then let her. Who doesn’t want to look sexy now and then? But DO NOT pretend it isn’t meant to be sexual. DO NOT label it as a “cute” and wind up falling into this marketing charade.

I think I go through this same damn episode every Halloween, but I haven’t been this irritated in some time about the subject. What really set me off, I think, was this splash art for a new League of Legends skin.

Vi_Splash_2
That’s “Officer Vi,” if you didn’t know. The woman in the back holding a pastry box is her partner Caitlyn, who is wearing an “Officer Caitlyn” outfit that was released some time earlier. Neither is exactly indicative of their actual personalities; Vi is a tough gal who built herself a set of powerful mechanical gloves to smash faces with, and Caitlyn is a no-nonsense kind of detective.

Whenever Riot labels a skin “Officer,” I think it’s safe for us to assume they mean “stripper.” No, these outfits are not cute, despite what the lady gamers will tell themselves when they drop money on Officer Vi. Fucking look at her. How is that, in any legitimate way, cute? She’s got her breasts spilling out of her top, and it doesn’t even reach her damn waist. And those platform heels look like they’re taller than this soda can on my desk. Poor woman probably tried running in those, which might explain why her leg looks like it was twisted until it snapped free from her pelvis.

Dear God, Riot, WHY? Officer Vi, Officer Caitlyn, Battle Bunny Riven, Kitty Cat Katarina…

I can’t even…

League of Legends SEASON 3 & Poro Plushies

IMG_0848_cropBeen a crazy week, in large part thanks to the ongoing League of Legends Season 3 World Championships. This is the first year I’ve been attending the games in person, and let me tell you, they’re both awesome and exhausting.

Friday and Saturday were the semifinals, and that meant a super late night on Friday, followed by an early morning on Saturday. Got to see SKT claw their way past NaJin to secure their spot in the finals this Friday, then Royal Club (WOO!) beat the tar out of FNATIC.

I think one of the most interesting moments from those two days, though, goes to a conversation I had with some fans while waiting in the merchandise line. Someone from China (mainland) overheard that I was cheering for Royal Club (I would’ve preferred Cloud 9 or Gama Bears, but you know!) and started chatting me up. Pretty interesting bilingual chat that spanned over an hour. Getting an alternate perspective on anything is always pretty interesting, even if it’s just League of Legends. 

Not surprisingly, no one outside of Europe — and maybe North America — felt FNATIC was much of a threat against Royal Club. Sure, those guys are amazing players, but as the Saturday face-off demonstrated, Royal is seriously in a league of their own. The top dogs of Europe rocked their team fights, and that might’ve been a problem for most other teams; not Royal Club. Despite losing multiple team fights against FNATIC across multiple matches, the Chinese players managed to fight back with unparalleled map control, ensuring that no matter how many team confrontations FNATIC won, they would still be behind in just about everything else. SKT sort of did the same against NaJin, and that’s just so impressive to me. For most players, losing team fight after team fight might spell defeat, but that Royal Club managed to counter these losses and still come out as the victors really speaks of their experience as pro players. My mind was seriously blown by the skill that they demonstrated.

And since NaJin were considered the top Korean players, some folks are pretty relieved to see the less-experienced SKT go on to the finals to face Royal Club. I’m confident in the Chinese team, but I’m sure SKT will give them a run for their money. Royal is going to have to work for their victory.

I still hope to see OMG make their comeback next season. Those guys are also incredibly talented players, even if they’re newbies to the World Championships scene. Then again, my hopes still rest with Cloud 9, because LemonNation and his Thresh plays make me fangirl all over the place.

Wouldn’t mind getting my hands on some Cloud 9 merchandise. Did get a poster while I was there, for free. Also came away with an AstroNautilus shirt (They had ladies sizes!!!) and more than one poro plush…

599754_10102041279082211_1766220982_nLooking forward to hitting up the Staples Center for the finals. Championships Thresh skin? Yes, please.

Outlast, and a lot of screaming

ImageSo my latest review was Outlast, this game by Red Barrels. It’s a new studio, which may be why you haven’t heard of them before. That said, they’re comprised of devs who’ve worked on stuff like Uncharted and some major Ubisoft IPs — Assassin’s Creed, Splinter Cell, that kind of thing. Anyway, Outlast is their first game as a studio.

The name is kind of nebulous, but Outlast is a survival horror game. It’s scary as fuck. Seriously. I started a new game for livestreaming purposes, and I had to stop 20 minutes in after a lot of screaming.

ImageAfter those excruciating 20-30 minutes, I decided to get off my ass and finish up my actual review. It’s actually not too long, but what’s there to say? Except that this game is scary as fffffffuuuuuuuuuuck.

And then this happened (I’m Mandokarla):

Natural Causes: WHERE IS OUTLAST AT?
[u] Mandokarla: WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME
Natural Causes: THE LAST OF YOUR HUMANITY
Natural Causes: IT MAKES THIS TEA TASTE WONDERFUL
[u] Mandokarla: WELL I AM DRINKING TEA
[u] Mandokarla: RIGHT NOW
Natural Causes: OH SHIT
Natural Causes: WELL
Natural Causes: FINE
Natural Causes: ENJOY
Natural Causes: HAVE A NICE NIGHT
Natural Causes: BUT
Natural Causes: ILL BE BACK
Natural Causes: BET YOU WONT HAVE TEA THEN
[u] Mandokarla: I GUESS THAT’D BE OKAY
Natural Causes: MAYBE
Natural Causes: PENCIL ME IN
Natural Causes: FOR A
Natural Causes: TUESDAY
[u] Mandokarla: OKAY
[u] Mandokarla: I GUESS I’LL DO THAT
Natural Causes: AFTERNOONISH OKAY, HOPE THATS NOT A BOTHER
Natural Causes: ILL BRING THE CAKE
[u] Mandokarla: I LOVE CAKE
[u] Mandokarla: WHAT KIND IS IT
Natural Causes: ALL FUCKING KINDS
Natural Causes: WHITE CAKES WITH STRAWBERRY
Natural Causes: AND HAND CRAFTED VANILLA FROSTING
Natural Causes: FINELY CUT AND SERVED
Natural Causes: THEY COMPLIMENT MOST DRINKS VERY WELL
Natural Causes: I KNOW A GUY
Natural Causes: IN HELL
Natural Causes: HES REALLY GOOD AT MAKING THEM
[u] Mandokarla: WELL OKAY

Skylanders SWAP Force Wishlist, a work in progress

So at gamescom this week, Activision announced some new Skylanders characters for Skylanders SWAP Force. I’m happy to report that, yeah, I do like two of them! This is exciting, because one of the issues I was having with SWAP Force is how so many of the figures/characters revealed thus far are humanoid in design.

I’ve always preferred the dragons and other beast-like critters, with a few exceptions. Not that I fault Vicarious Visions. The mechanics behind SWAP Force sort of calls for the more humanoid look, because the idea is to split the figures in a game of mix ‘n’ match, where you create new character combos for alternate playstyles.

skylanders_swap_force_slobber_toothSo far, my wishlist for the upcoming game looks like this:

  • Zoo Lou
  • Slobber Tooth (above image)
  • Rattle Shake
  • Freeze Blade
  • Starstrike (Lightcore!)

I’ll also be getting the Series 2 Hex with my pre-order (Xbox One version), so that’s good. I’ve been wanting to get her, but held off when I heard she would be thrown in as a pre-order bonus for SWAP Force. Never going to abandon my old GIANTS crew.

Never touch anyone at Comic-Con

img_7443Been over a week since San Diego Comic-Con, and as with any other year, I can say with great certainty that the entire trip (along with the exhaustion) was worth it. Yeah, I’m really long overdue for an update, but let’s just say I brought back more than just plushies and swag.

Came back with a TON of new plushies to join my collection. Yes, I may have a problem. But I also came back with germs that eventually became a sore throat and a cough. We had Purell and wet naps prepared, too! What does a girl have to do to avoid getting sick at these cons?

I’m all better now, really, but damn, I would’ve preferred not to have gone through that at all. The coughing, I mean; Comic-Con was fun as hell. Certainly helped that we managed to book at the Hampton Inn by the beach. Decent place, with good breakfast. The waffle-makers were a little tough to figure out, but as a community of nerds, we rose up to the challenge and figured out how the hell to operate the damn things.

Odd that I’m talking about something as mundane as the Hampton, right? Honestly, if any of you haven’t been to a con before and plan on traveling to attend one, make sure you book at a nice place. Don’t be afraid to spend the money, because you really get what you pay for. The cons themselves are awesome, but when you drag your tired ass to bed each night and that bed happens to be located at some shitty motel, you’re going to wake up as tired as you were when you laid down. The hotel matters! Remember this!

(We wound up somewhere not-so-nice in 2012. Never again.)

So how about that swag, huh? These were from Thursday and Friday, respectively. You’re seeing Halo, right here, because I will never stop loving Halo. I know it’s Comic-Con, but the highlight of my last two visits have seriously been Halo related. Last year, I hugged Cortana and shook hands with Master Chief when they met for the first time in-person.

This year, I have Halo swag to show for it:

1069252_10101877441588861_647303992_nThat print has since been framed. Certainly not the most expensive one in my collection, but I love it too much to leave it unframed. Hearts. HEARTS EVERYWHERE.
164980_10101879922801491_106144236_nAnd of course, I had to pick up a TARDIS dress. Gotta love lady nerd-wear. I’ll leave you guys with this picture. Then it’s back to work.

1000229_10101875997208411_453126576_n

PACIFIC RIIIIIIIIM

This movie. I waited so long to see it. In the months leading up to its release, I would watch all the trailers back-to-back on a weekly (sometimes daily) basis. Yes, I wanted this movie bad.

pacificrimmovie_russian_jaeger_chernoalpha

So come Thursday, July 11, a couple of friends and I lined up at 8:30 PM to wait for a pre-midnight IMAX 3D showing. I inhaled a Chipotle burrito for this movie, and felt awful afterwards.

WORTH. IT.

Pacific Rim evokes this sense of wonder I’ve not felt since I was a kid. I’m not kidding. Giant monsters reminiscent of dinosaurs and the old kaiju movies? Seriously, I’m a kid again. And those Jaeger are worth seeing in IMAX 3D. I know it costs more, but damn, this movie was made for that format.

I immediately snagged the soundtrack upon going home, and on that Saturday (two days ago), I was fortunate enough to attend a Pacific Rim panel featuring some of the artists behind the Jaeger and kaiju. Picked up the new artbook and got it signed, too. Also grabbed David Cohen’s signature (not pictured because it’s on another page), a writer known for his affiliation with Variety.

Concept artists leave their mark.Just awesome. The movie and everything about it rocked my little nerd heart to its very core. My friends and I really pushed to see it before Comic-Con this week so that we can better appreciate whatever props and displays we see there — not to mention avoid spoilers.

I was a little bummed to learn Pacific Rim came in second to Grown Ups 2 this past weekend, but I’m also pretty confident the former will do leagues better in the long run thanks to lasting value. And you can’t deny how marketable the IP is. Action figures, statues, comic books, etc.

If you want to feel like a total creep…

Whenever you think you’ve seen it all, the Internet delivers. How about a Kickstarter for a book that…

Okay, you know what? I’m just going to paste some of the project’s description here:

My childhood was probably very similar to yours. I grew up in a small suburb. I sucked at sports and spent a lot of time playing video games and messing around on my computer. I was always good at making connections with others, but I was riding purely on instinct. Always the nice guy, my first three girlfriends cheated and dumped me for the other guy.

Ultimately I ended up getting pretty good with women, finding love, and living life. But I didn’t start putting the pieces together until…

Summer 2010. I relocated across the globe for a new job. I was alone in a city of millions. I wondered to myself, “Is there a method to meeting new people? Can it be learned? Can it be taught?”

So this is a project started by a “nice guy” to teach other “nice guys” how to get in good with women. Will their hypocrisy never end?

66f73dd0819ef3cc29d9a3af56b7d41d_largeThe project starter, Ken Hoinsky, did mention he’s a Reddit frequenter by the name of “TofuTofu.” A quick history search shows he’s not exactly well-liked on there, either.

The saddest part? His little book project is already fully funded. $16,369 from 732 backers. Unfortunately, none of the embed codes from Kickstarter seem to play nice with WordPress, so you’ll need to hit the image on the right to go to the official page — if you want to watch the corresponding video.

I should also apologize for my absence, to those of you who actually have started following my blog. E3 ended only recent, and our work is far from finished.

Filet-o-Fish and the power of Twitter

I’m so damn elated that my League of Legends “Top 10 Manliest Manly Men” article got mentioned, then retweeted by official League personnel. If you think that’s silly, then you clearly don’t understand the power of social media.

That’s really all I have to say about it. I’m incredibly grateful for the exposure, certainly. Crossing my fingers that it gets more in the coming days, weeks, and months. Gauging interest in a follow-up where I include all the fellows I couldn’t in v1.0, which I will conveniently link below, again…

Top 10 Manliest Manly Men in LoL: YOU CAN’T STOP THE SEXY

I added that last bit just now, of course. Go me.

Seriously woke up this morning (to get stuff done) and plodded around like a zombie for a few hours. Hit up McDonald’s after simply because I was too tired — and it’s hot as heck today — to go to a proper place or cook.

Since childhood, I’ve only really cared for one thing from McD’s. Well, aside from the fries.

IMG_20130511_125551I wish the fish patties would stop shrinking though. And centered. Wouldn’t be an issue though if the patties of highly-processed-yet-delicious fish weren’t magically glued to the mystery bread by the mystery cheese.

First world problems. And now my body is kicking its own ass, as it often does after I eat McDonald’s…