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Posts Tagged ‘heroines’

playing on shoulders of generations of feminists

Posted by contentgrrl on November 28, 2007

Why can’t I stop writing about games? Well, I saw another great post from a gamergrrl, Kat@ttack, Female vs Male MMORPGs.

It turns my stomach to see some of the stereotypical marketing to girls for toys, games, and TV. But I’m glad to see more strong heroines popping up all the time: Handy Manny’s Kelly, Dora the Explorer, (you can tell how old my kids are, can’t ya?) Lara Croft, Diablo II’s amazons/sorceresses/assassins, the reinvented BSG’s Starbuck/Roslin/Boomer/Six/Cain, the reinvented Bionic Woman, The Closer’s Brenda Johnson, and anything from Joss Whedon’s body of work (Buffy, Willow, Cordelia, Zoe, Inara, River, Kaylee).

It’s too bad none of these strong heroines are moms. It seems you have to be single to explore your options and save the world. Moms in epics and games are always the lesser characters who sob loudly, protest against their sons being taken away, or roll their eyes and get back to mothering. OK, there’s an interesting exception in BSG’s Sharon “Athena” Valerii (not Boomer, who tried to snap the child’s neck), and I look forward to more there.

I’m a gamer mom myself, and so is my neighbor, who looks and talks conspicuously like Morgan on G4TV. I don’t have girls to raise; between dear hubby, dear sons, and dear dog and cat, I’m surrounded by testosterone.

But I’ll thankfully stand on the shoulders of the feminists from former generations who made a difference. Because now, all we really have to do is confidently, quietly do what we do best and it will earn the respect of our fellow gamers and colleagues, or at least those who matter. We can confidently, quietly widen our circle of influence. Will that change the tide of the stereotypical marketing machine? Maybe not immediately, but there’s hope.

If I’m too Pollyanna about this, or missing some heroic moms in entertainment, feel free to squawk back at me.

Posted in culture, games, grrly, heroines, marketing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

scoop on new parent site reviewing games kids play

Posted by contentgrrl on November 9, 2007

Yesterday, LA Times reporter Alex Pham asked (LinkedIn members click here for all answers), “As parents, do you ever wonder what exactly is in those video games your children are playing? How do you go about finding whether a game is appropriate for your child?”

I responded as follows:

I wouldn’t leave my kids completely alone to do whatever they wanted on their computers. Parents are responsible for their children’s welfare, offline and online.

There are cyberstalkers who may show up in online games sometimes known as massive multi-user games (MMUGs), which include online chat functions. Some of those deviants can persuade a child or teen to reveal information that could result in dangerous consequences.

Also, keep in mind that in addition to whatever the original game designers released, there are folks out there who offer skins, hacks, and cheats for download. I remember one first-person shooter where you could change the monsters into snacks like ice cream cones. I think I remember a story about another hack that allowed the San Andreas guy to see more skin than clothes on his “dates”.

Otherwise, I agree with most of these comments: Read others’ reviews, check the ESRB rating, and play it, or at least watch while your children do so. I rely heavily on’s reviews, as well as Gamespot.

Pham followed up with a few questions:

Q: Do you think that there are adequate resources out there for parents to make informed decisions about games their children play?
me: For all the games on the market, there are a multitude of resources. Perhaps not all in one place, which may make it difficult for parents. Opportunity may knock here.

Q: Do the ESRB descriptors tell you much of what you need to know as a parent?
me: I wouldn’t rely wholly on ESRB. ESRB is not likely to review anything outside of the game per se. But since cheats, hacks, and skins are not always tied to the game producer, it’s difficult to monitor them to standards. There is a lot that remains out of the control of the ESRB.

Q: Are traditional game reviews informative in that regard?
me: To an extent. Most reviewers follow a certain structure of software or game review, and most modern review sites offer community features such as user ratings and comments.

After that, it turned into a phone interview for an article on a site Pham said was called What They Play (I now have the link), to be launched Monday by (correction: former) executives of Ziff Davis.

I’m a long-time fan of ZDNet’s reviews for all sorts of software and technology products. They already have a site,, that includes the latest game reviews, news, previews, codes, cheats, contests, guides, and q&as. But 1Up is mostly geared for the gamer.

Apparently, What They Play is for the parents. I’d say it’s also good for grandparents, aunts and uncles, teachers, and other caregivers. Anyone who may be concerned about objectionable content and other details that would help them make decisions about whether to buy a particular game for a child. Anyone who wants more detail than what they find on the ESRB label on the retail box.

I’m hoping it will include information about the educational value of certain games. Sure, I’ll watch for objectionable content for my nephews aged 8 and 12, but more importantly, what will they learn? Will I find everything I need to make a decision in one place? Will games be filtered or categorized according to content appropriate for different age groups? Will that be more detailed than E for everyone, T for teen, and M for mature?

I’m also interested in more specific violence statistics or descriptors. On Buffyverse‘s episode synopsis, you could see how many humans, vampires, and demons were killed, as an indicator of just how violent Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Angel the Series was. I know that a game is not that static, but some kind of rating for each kind of violence would be helpful. Assume it’s more disturbing to see a human killed than a big Bad. Is bad behavior rewarded in various quests, as in Grand Theft Auto, Thief, and Oblivion? Or is heroism rewarded, as in Spider-Man and Buffy the Vampire Slayer?

Is it easy to find games that encourage reading, moral decision-making, applications of what you learn in school, creative problem-solving, environmental stewardship, and political activism?

I wonder, who else has heard of What They Play? I’m looking forward to the launch, and to the LA Times story on Monday.

Posted in community, culture, games, heroes, heroines, learning, persuasion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

mom: free to be you and me

Posted by contentgrrl on October 30, 2007

I am thankful that my mother raised me to be fairly self-assured. When I was a baby in the Big Apple, it was just her, me, and Dad after five years of marriage. Oh, yeah, and Dad’s brother (my godfather) and his wife. Then Dad joined the Army and got stationed as a military surgeon in Oklahoma and San Antonio, where Mom dealt with being a military wife and mother.

And she taught me to love reading. We still like some of the same authors: Clavell, Tolkein, McCaffrey, MZ Bradley, CS Lewis, L’Engle. From there, I branched out into David Eddings, Stephen King, Frank Herbert, Ayn Rand, Katherine Kurtz, Robert Zelazny, Michael Moorcock, Morgan Lewellyn, Douglas Adams, and Robin Hobb.

Mom dove into Edgar Cayce psychics when I was very young. She actually had an audiocassette tape done for me, of a heavily accented psychic channeling what my past lives were, what my destiny was, and some symbols to keep around and ways to encourage my potential. I still like my symbols, and may make a mandala just for kicks someday. It was so psychodelic. Of course, I was a history teacher when Atlantis fell! Of course, I was a Mother Superior in 13th century France, and my mother and sisters were among my convent! We gals have always been together, the fate of our souls are entwined for all eternity! And we will all play a significant role in each other’s souls’ steps toward … whatever the goal is!

From my psychic reading, I think Mom took the role reversal theme to heart. Mom needed me, as a preschooler, to take on the role of the hero child. I helped take care of her through two difficult pregnancies, helped deal with my sisters (one autistic, the other just funny), covered for her substance abuse and some other bad choices (SO seventies!), and later helped her stabilize through a “certifiable” episode, coping mechanisms gone awry, an abusive stalking ex (not my father, just someone she met through a 12-step program).

She struggled hard through her own family baggage, through the changing roles of women over the last few decades, and through the consequences of some bad habits and decisions.

Mom is one of the kindest people you will ever meet. In my opinion, too kind. She believes she has special powers, and indeed she virtually radiates a generous welcome. One that attracts strays of all species. Mostly cats and unworthy men (again, excluding my dad). But when you have no boundaries, and offer all of yourself, there are predators who will take it all, and more. The emptiness and consequences that are left make it difficult to fill your life with wholesome things. Thank goodness for the community she found in a church.

I have to say I have learned a lot from her, and I am thankful for her part in my making. But she is also somewhat of an anti-heroine. I would not follow in her footsteps. She has taught me to be risk-averse, while more ambitious.

But she’s sober. She’s working. She moved to a city where she has friends and a friendlier church. I’m proud of my mom for making strides.

Posted in culture, grrly, heroines, reading | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »


Posted by contentgrrl on October 29, 2007

I regularly look up lyrics online, and I just came across a great site: SongMeanings.

It’s the first site I’ve seen that lets people contribute not only the lyrics of songs, but also a discussion of what the songs mean.

For instance, in Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide, “I see my reflection in the snow covered hills” someone thought it had to do with Stevie Nicks’  father or grandfather, another thought it was turning to a mountain of cocaine, another thought it had to do with being precariously perched on a pedestal, another reported it had to do with an ultimatum from her father after Lindsay Buckingham left her in Aspen, Colo.

Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham are some of my heroes/heroines in the music world.

Posted in community, culture, grrly, heroes, heroines, music, writeroll | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »