Start of Summer Recap!

Hello, Hello dear Readers!

Wow, June has been a crazy ass month. But then again, which month these days doesn’t bring some sort of joyous/crushing revelation?


On the domestic front I’ve been pretty shaken by the Snowden revelations regarding the NSA’s covert PRISM phone/online information collection situation; the fact that my Government actively and constantly (yes, even today!) spies on the everyday communications of US citizens is truly chilling. This development can only be viewed as a net negative for Freedom and Democracy in the USA. Luckily, at least one FISA Court Judge shares this view. I’m resolved to work to spread the truth of this matter in my everyday conversations and with my (quite small) online megaphone. What are you all thinking/feeling about this development?

The Supreme Court also handed down a pair of rulings that caused mix reactions regarding hot button social issues. On the one hand, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was struck down. Meaning that Lesbian & Gay Marriages are entitled to all the rights & privlidges as Cis/Straight Marriages. Which obviously elicits a ‘no, doi!’ however I have to remark on how quickly public opinion has shifted on this topic. Obviously this shift was only possible thanks to so much hard work and sacrifice by tireless advocates as well as the growth of positive (though of course still problematic)  media representations of Lesbian & Gay individuals/relationships.

Unfortunately, the other development has been the beginning of the end of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act laws. Effectively there are a number of different Articles that make up these Laws; setting the rules, oversight and penalties regarding infringement of the right to vote. What the Supreme Court has done is to strike down the Article that specifically called out the Jurisdictions that had to adhere to the other Articles. Effectively the Supreme Court has ‘wiped the slate clean’ for all the States that suffered from Systemic Vote Suppression (aka Poll Taxes, Reading Tests, Choose the Right Bean Jar, etc) and they can now begin to change their voting laws without any Federal Oversight. Only the Congress (which can only be described as Incapable of Efficiency) can now legislate which counties will be under the other articles of the original 1965 Act.

So yea, Racism is alive and well. I’ll leave it at that.


E3 has come and gone. The XboX One is in trouble. The PS4 is ascendant. Nintendo is being left behind. Indie Development was non-existent. Personally, I’m not sold on the NextGen yet. I’m still really enjoying THIS Gen.

That said, The Last of Us seems like a great game and hey, if the New York Times is reviewing a game AND making a powerful statement about female protagonists as well as repressive patriarchy in gaming culture itself, it sure feels like we’re heading in the right direction. From the article, here’s the author’s conclusions;

…after an E3 during which Microsoft held a public relations event that featured 13 exclusive games and zero female protagonists for its forthcoming Xbox One; not after an E3 in which almost no women spoke during either Microsoft’s or Sony’s preconference spectacles; not after an E3 in which the two women who did appear onstage for Microsoft were alternately received with wolf whistles and told, while losing during a demonstration of a fighting game, “Just let it happen; it’ll be over soon.” A sickness resides at the heart of this promising, potentially transformative medium.

However, all is not lost! We as a community can change our culture for the better! There are a number of initiatives and personalities who are calling for a better way! Check out James Portnow’s Games for Good project, which is almost fully funded (yay!). I’ve also just discovered Grant Showitt’s awesome site Look, Robot and specifically a very helpful (if a bit crass and aggressive) article about how to be a better roleplayer. Lastly, one of my inspirations and favorite commentators, Bob Chipman, has tons to say about how we can be better citizens of nerd culture. In fact, here’s a a whole video dedicated to the topic.

Finally, in my first post I mentioned my supreme excitement for Capcom’s Chronicles of Mystara releasing on XBLA. Well, the day has come and I have been vindicated. This game’s ability to provide solid old school capcom co-op beat’em-up action is just wonderful. There’s something just lovely about having three friends over to play some DnD arcade style and then turn around to get the table top action started. My online co-op experience has been less than fun however, so I guess I’ll just have to keep inviting people over! The best parts of this game are that you can choose different paths to take and so experience different levels and, this has just blown me away, in actual levels you can explore different routes as well as find secret doors to treasure! The replay value is off the shoulder.

So, until next time, check out Mike&Jerry from PennyArcade, Scott Kurtz from PvP, and Kris Straub from BroodHollow having a great time playing through both games.


About Berling

Ken Breese (he) Writer, Narrative Designer, and Game Master for hire focused on Inclusion, Table Top RPGs, Nerd Culture, Critical Thinking, and the Politics of Gaming.
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