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J. Szpilka

4 months ago

Feature: The extended mess of coming out is the perennial queer experience

Spring Leaves No Flowers shows why games need more characters to come out

My earliest experience with trying to find out whether a character in a video game was homosexual was stalking the BioWare forums in 2008 or 2009. I was looking for information about which romance options in the upcoming, exciting new RPG Dragon Age: Origins were going to allow for a women-loving women option. Of course they weren’t really lesbians back then; characters in the BioWare…

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7 months ago

Feature: In league with yourself

How emotional investment in League Of Legends lets you be your best and worst self

Recently, the MOBA juggernaut League Of Legends introduced a new feature, called Eternals. Billed as a way to “highlight your accomplishments and prove your mastery”, they are essentially stat-trackers for individual champions that you play, allowing you to document both basic accomplishments such as your lifetime number of takedowns on your chosen character, as well as more champion-specific achievements, such as the number of kills…

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9 months ago

Feature: Possibilities make more things possible

Butterfly Soup makes an excellent case for why representation matters

The brilliant 2017 visual novel Butterfly Soup by Brianna Lei is a story about many things. It is about the pains and prides of growing up Asian American in Oakland, it is about coming out queer, it is about playing baseball and living in a society that only pretends it's no longer racist. It is about coping with emotional distress and anxiety, it is about…

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11 months ago

Feature: No prize for Erika

Last Day Of Spring and seeing trans lives through cis eyes

Last Day Of Spring by npckc is a short visual novel set in contemporary Japan. It tells the story of a cisgender woman, Erika, and her attempts at organizing a birthday for her trans woman friend, Haru, whom she had met during the events of npckc’s previous game, One Night, Hot Springs (npckc recently announced a third game in the series will be out at…

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1 year ago

Feature: Murder Makes Me A Badass Girl

Apex Legends’ Voidwalker cinematic turns Wraith’s infinite worlds into an absurd binary

Apex: Stories from the Outlands - “Voidwalker” is the second of, so far, two short cinematic vignettes, meant to provide some narrative to the otherwise plot-barren battle-royale frenzy of fluid movement and chaotic gun-slinging that is Apex Legends. Principally, it is a story of two women. And while it falls into a well known, often criticised trope, it also presents an infinity of choices that…

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Feature: A strange experience, not really a positive one

How fetish porn game LustDoll can be accidentally queer

Some of the images in this article are a bit NSFW -- as are links to the games mentioned.In LustDoll, a RPG/porn game hybrid that finished development last year (and is now being remade under the name of LustDoll+), the main character awakens without memories in a ruined laboratory, to embark on a quest for identity and memory in an utterly nonsensical world. Along the…

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Feature: Not a haircut

EXTREME MEATPUNKS FOREVER does punk better than any other recent game

It is very easy to dismiss 2018’s EXTREME MEATPUNKS FOREVER’s visuals as just ugly. It's a hurdle I struggle with every time I try to convince people to play this excellent, as described by principal creator Heather Flowers, “serialised episodic visual novel slash mech brawler about gay disasters beating up neonazis in giant robots made of meat”. The way it usually goes is that I…

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