Follow-Up: Some GREAT Resources for Making Games

So. My post last week sparked some really good discussion among tabletop game creators!

Side note: It also hit the twittersphere and was inaccurately associated with video games, which it’s rather explicitly not about. As a result, I received a number of well-meaning comments from video gamers, and I just want to give a shout-out to those and let you know I heard you, and I appreciate your view, even if I chose not to engage further or de-moderate them due to being out of scope for this discussion.

The problem statement I made in that post can boil down to “new tabletop game creators are disadvantaged in the following areas, and women and minorities are especially disadvantaged for various reasons:”

  1. Time
  2. Creativity
  3. Experience
  4. Confidence
  5. Extra People
  6. Money

I loved the responding blog posts, from men and women, sharing their own experiences, many of which mirrored mine. Here’s one from William Maldonado talking about his experience creating Agents of Change with a $1000 budget. Those obstacles aren’t unique to women, and it was gratifying to get multiple perspectives on these challenges.

Update (Nov 17, 2014): Golden Cobra winner Wendy Gorman sums up the importance of representation rather nicely:

Representation matters.  Although I never consciously had the thought “I can’t design games because I’m a girl,” the pervasiveness of this message leaves me with no doubt that it did indeed play a role in my decisions and thoughts.  I am also certain that the lack of women in the field, and the under representation of the women who ARE in the field plays into my feelings of discomfort with calling myself a “game designer.”

Below the jump, there are a bunch of links and resources and some follow-up comments on the technical and social challenges of this problem. You will definitely want to read if you are at all interested in creating tabletop games.

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Posted in Gaming, Musings | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Selfish Knitting Vignette


We call it “selfish knitting” when we knit for ourselves and nobody else.

Yesterday, I frogged a sock that wasn’t grabbing my interest (I’m sorry, cables: I don’t like putting you on socks), and I cast on for something new:
2014-11-04 07.38.07It’s hard to see, but that there is a sweater. It doesn’t look like much of one, but I promise you, when it’s done, it’s a sweater.

I have knit 15 sweaters since I started knitting. I currently have 1 in my wardrobe, and I’m not enamored of it. It’s too short for my torso– I should have made it about 8″ longer. Alas.

My favorite sweater is the one I lost, of course. It would have to be. Even though I made a replacement in red… it was never the same, and I ended up giving the red sweater away. I loved that February Lady Sweater because it was gorgeous due to my use of highly saturated Malabrigo sock yarn (doubled), lovely ombre color changes, and nice shaping bust darts.

The orange… thing… I made last year? Yeah, not wearing that. It makes me look huge.

So, I spend some time looking about for a sweater pattern that I might like. Had to be shapely– I don’t need a box-sweater. Had to have a v-neck and be a cardigan. Had to have project photos on Ravelry of plus-sized women wearing it. Had to have project photos on Ravelry of people wearing it without it being buttoned up. Some cardigans are sneaky and only look good when fully buttoned. These sweaters are not for me, since I usually like to leave my sweaters and jackets open.

The yarn is Cascade 220 Superwash in a dark grey. I intended to make a Hermia out of it, but decided that I don’t really like the peplum feature (something which is shared by the February Lady Sweater). But the Vignette…. really subtle shaping at the waist, bust, and sleeves.

I’m considering modifying it to fit my wider hips, and will probably add bust darts even though the pattern itself has some shaping at the bust (“some” is not the same as “accommodates a very large bust). But in general, I like the pattern for some very specific elements (multi-directional knitting, mitres, a simple edging, easily-memorized lace rip pattern, and of course the v-neck cardigan). Not as wild about set-in sleeves, but I can live with those. They really do help with the structure of the thing, and I honor that this annoying-to-seam feature does result in a better garment.

Buttons will likely be something vintage from the batch my mom sent me. But I don’t have to worry about those until it’s nearly done.


Posted in Crochet and Knit | Tagged | 1 Comment

Rob Lowe, DirectTV and Shame

This post is about male narratives and men’s stories, and gender equality and not emasculating men. I acknowledge in advance that this is not my narrative, and I appreciate those who are willing to listen and think and question this cultural artifact with me.

Although I like Rob Lowe and his new commercials pimping for a dish provider (which have the advantage of letting me watch Rob Lowe with Rob Lowe)…. I am not so enamored of the peeing scene.

It’s unnecessary and shaming. It’s a patriarchy-reinforcing scene.  It could be cut without losing any of the rest of the message, which focused more on Rob Lowe and Painfully Awkward Rob Lowe and their experiences with DirectTV and cable.

You would never show a woman peeing on network television. At most, you might show her in a bathroom, or an anonymous hand under a stall (such as asking for TP, or a feminine product). This is in part because we have doors on our stalls, but also because women’s waste elimination is treated as some kind of mythical thing (which is why the Poopouri ad is so shocking). Whereas men have both literal and figurative pissing contests.

The reason this ad is so problematic to me is because it basically implies that Painfully Awkward Rob Lowe is less of a man because he can’t pee in public. That is patently ridiculous. Men do not need to urinate in front of other people to be men. To be a man, you need to identify as male– period. A penis doesn’t make you a man, as any transwoman will tell you. Everything in your brain that associates with your gender identity makes you a man, including the part of your brain that says “eliminating waste is a private matter and I wish to do it in privacy.”

I spent 4 hours in a huge mob a couple of weeks ago, and can assure you that a lot of people have a problem urinating in front of others, even in a near-panic situation. I stood with a 12 year old boy who was in physical pain, nearly crying, but unwilling to duck into a bush and relieve himself. Ads like “Painfully Awkward Rob Lowe” tell him that he should be ashamed of this, and that’s not right.

As men can be allies to women in the struggle for equality, women can be allies to men in that same struggle, and help alleviate toxic masculine culture. That includes shaming men for being themselves. We can’t do all the work, any more than men can fix gender inequality by themselves. But just as I expect the men in my life to call out rape jokes as not being funny, I will call out emasculating jokes as being not funny as well.

DirectTV and Rob Lowe: This one missed the mark. I know you can do better.

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MicroMap Monday

I’m participating more in MicroMap Monday, so thought I’d share the Micromaps from the past week.

Last Monday (Oct 20), the theme was “Plants.”

2014-10-20 21.53.46

“What is this? A map for ANTS?!?” Ink on half index card.

Why is the root bad? Why is tallgrass only on one side of the trunk? Who lives in Enemy Hill, and why do you feel guilty when you think about them?

Then, my friend Peter and I decided to start doing some ATC maps. ATCs are Artist Trading Cards– like baseball cards, but you make art with them and trade them with your friends, use them in swaps, etc. They’re popular in the online swap world, and a nice, small format for expressing your art without embarking in a huge project.

Here’s my first one:

The Infinity Temple

The Infinity Temple

The back of the ATC is usually where you include your contact information or maybe something about the artwork:

Infinity Temple: Back of the card

Infinity Temple: Back of the card

In this case, I included my name, CC-license, blog URL, and some questions about the map:

  •  The Infinity Temple has many secret doors and rooms.
  • Where do the four doors in the ? room lead?
  • Why is there a Guardian Statue to the Lower Pentagram temple?
  • What destroyed the room above the drainage channel?
  • Why are all the priests blind in Infinity Temple, and who among them is only pretending?

I like including questions about my maps. It makes them more fun, I think.

And finally, here’s this week’s Micro-Map Monday (10/27) entry. Unofficial theme was “mountain madness.”


Island of Questions

This island has many secrets and questions for you!

  • The Hills of Madness – What does the old woman on the hill know that no one else does?
  • Coral Bay was once home to what monsters?
  • Why is there always fog over the Dark Mountains?
  • Why are you keeping a secret about the Winsome Woods?


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Best Friends… in Spaaace!

Last Wednesday, the indie table at Empire’s Wednesday RPG Night hosted Best Friends, by Gregor Hutton.

In Best Friends, you play a woman (always a woman– that’s how the game is set up) and your character stats are based on what the other characters hate you for.

“I hate Missy because she’s richer than me.” Missy now has +1 in her “Rich” stat. Depending on how many other Friends hate Missy for her wealth, Missy might end up driving a Porsche in this game. A 0 means you are below average at something. A 1 means average. 2 is really good. And 3 is the super-bestest. You then invent, based on nothing but your stats, some Stuff and Nonsense that makes sense for you.

We started with 4 players and had 2 late additions, so we ended up with 6 players and everyone got to hate everyone just once. It was pretty cool, actually. We decided on the outset that we were in a failing space station that may or may not have hostile aliens on it, and that the story ends when we safely reach the escape pod.

My friend Jennifer and I had the same stats, so we came up with some backstory. Both of us were in science– she was the software engineer, while I was the station’s medical officer. She said that my Friend was her rival. I said that mine “always repeats her plan as if it were my own.”

Although we were running it “GM-less,” I kept us focusing on obstacles. I reminded everyone that we are in a crisis, so nothing can go completely right or be uncomplicated; when we ran into a new situation in the adventure, I asked “ok, do we want something dangerous to be up ahead?” Usually the answer was yes.

We had some highs and lows while our characters backstabbed each other to get out of the station (making a space walk on the outside of the ship, since the interior hull was decompressing). We “rescued” (kidnapped) a space alien baby, which had sticky acidic mucous that burned through the captain’s gloves. Just as we got back into the station, we ran into the alien baby’s mother, who was not pleased to see us.

I think we filled her with lead and then continued to the escape shuttle, where we discovered our last obstacle– only enough oxygen for 4 people.

We all looked guiltily at the two happy-but-dumb characters (Smart: 0). “Um…. hey, I left a lab experiment running that’s growing diamonds. Anyone want to go get them?”

With those two gone, the remaining 4 of us hopped into the shuttle and escaped. The two remaining ones shared their shoe collections with the space aliens, were adopted into the hive, and became the aliens’ new queens.

The game was remarkably fun, only slightly problematic (it’s a game written by a man about women who hate each other!), and really lent itself to a very over-the-top storyline. I can imagine playing it with a smaller-scale story, something closer to the heart, but this particular iteration went full gonzo, and we loved it.

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