Miis are Funny

So I’m upstairs hiding out in bed sick and the kids are being awesome playing a game together downstairs, when I hear a burst of laughter from the two of them.  Thankfully, technology lets me message them instead of yelling down the stairs with my sore voice.

Too funny.  Mr. Beardyhead there is the husband’s Mii playing Olimar from Pikmin Adventure in Nintendo Land.  I love that Nintendo has everyone make their own chibi character to represent them in Nintendo’s world, and gives us games to play as our characters.  They’re pretty hilarious. 

Girl Gamer, Gamer Girl, Girls Who Play Video Games…What’s In a Name?

So this is a fun topic. And by that I mean this isn’t a fun topic at all, but a rather shitty argument of what shouldn’t even be a topic of conversation, but is. So here we go. What do you call a female who plays video games. Well, does the person in question identify themselves by their gender first, and so is a female who plays games and therefore is a Gamer Girl (the adjective here is Gamer and the noun is Girl). Or does the person identify themselves as a person who plays video games who happens to be of the female persuasion, and therefore is a Girl Gamer (adjective, noun). (I use Girl here for the adjective, but it could be anything from Lady to Female.) Or does the individual who plays games hate this argument as they just want to play games, or perhaps they rail against the “fake” gamers who need to identify themselves as female at anytime ever, as if there was a way to completely avoid being classified in the whole world of gaming. Headache right? I would love to say that the video game world is the playground of the mind and is free from any of the gender arguments of our day, but sadly the argument exists and those who participate can find it rather extreme.

Let’s head to the Urban Dictionary to see the full argument. Parents, if you don’t know what the Urban Dictionary is, learn it now. And then brace yourselves, because not every kid knows this stuff, and you might find yourself agog and aghast at what you think your kids are up to, when in reality they don’t even know most of these terms. Breathe people. You’ve raised good kids. This is just more knowledge to help you navigate the world that your kids are living in.

Let’s look at the top definition of Girl Gamer. This one is the worst and shows what being a gamer of the female gender means in terms of how the world sees you.

Cute, huh? Let’s dissect it.

Personally I love the lack of basic lack  grammar skills. Yes, that was a written eye roll.

And how about “attention whores.” Unfortunately, there are girls out there who claim to be gamers for attention, but guess what, people do that in all walks of life, not just in the video game world. And seriously, the guys who fall for that stuff are probably not the guys you want to game with anyways. If the person you’re playing with is more interested in the gender of the players than whether or not they can be a kick ass teammate, you don’t want to play with them. Trust me. What we see illustrated here is simply that the age-old fight between girls exists even in the gaming world. And we need to be aware of it so that we can stop it by not participating. Bring your girls up to know that they don’t need to do this. Bring your boys up to know that girls might try this tactic and that they shouldn’t feed into it by falling for it.

Why bring up appearances? Why should a girl gamer be assumed ugly? And who cares if they did their hair or are wearing makeup or are playing in their PJs? Playing a game is about what your mind is capable of and last I looked wearing something fashionable or smelling good does not make your brain work better. And if your playing in visual sight of other people and want to go all Black Widow, by all means do! That’s a mind game, too.  And that is not being an attention whore. An attention whore has placed their self-worth in someone else’s eyes. Some one who goes Crème de la Femme is fully in charge of their own worth and can flaunt it all they want. Both genders should know the difference. Confidence is a wonderful thing. If someone else has it, applaud it and claim your own.

Bonus comment: No one should have to rattle off random facts about the gaming industry or games in general to prove they are a gamer.

Star level comment: Never, ever have I seen a girl play as a male avatar to avoid being classified as a woman. I have run into a lot of men who play as girl characters because they like looking at a girl and if you want to look at a 2D girl’s butt go for it. The flip of this where a girl plays as a guy for the same reason is so rare I have seen it once.

Let’s go down a few more definitions in the Urban Dictionary to the fifth one.

This is a better definition. The problem here is that Girl Gamers still define themselves not only for what they are, but for what they are not, and not nicely either. See above about attention whores. I don’t want to have this argument. I just want to play games. So this definition gets a lot of that right, but it could have cut out all the stuff about Gamer Girls and been an excellent definition. Since we are not there as a society yet, we still need to define one against the other. If we have our girls play games, and we have our boys play games, and we have our boys and girls play games together, it will take the unicorn uniqueness out of the whole situation and we can get to the real fun. The games.

The last classification says why not just step out of the argument all together and call ourselves girls who play video games. Seriously? Do you want to have to say that mouthful every time? I don’t. Ok then how about don’t identify your gender at all. Well, I happen to have told you all I’m a mom which makes me a girl. So there, fine. I’m a Girl Gamer. I truly don’t have a problem with being who I am. I AM a girl. Why should I have to change or hide that? I have kids who are boys. Guess what they are Boy Gamers. Sound weird? That’s because when you say the word gamer, you think boy silently. Which is why no one says Boy Gamer. Ever hear someone identifying themselves as a Boy Gamer? Sounds off doesn’t it. Come in say it a few times. Boy Gamer. Go on, get used to it. Use it all the time. Don’t want to? Tough because when you say Gamer it means both genders. I am a Gamer. That is my core definition. I am a Platform Gamer. I am a Time Management Gamer. I am an Action Adventure Gamer. I am a Puzzle Gamer. I am a Strategy Gamer. I am a Collection Gamer. I am a Gamer. And I am a girl. I go by Greenie. Nice to meet you.



It’s been unseasaonably warm this week, and we are trying to take full advantage of it.  I’ve had windows wide open as often as possible.  The kids are playing outside without jackets.  We even plan to hit the bike path this Friday.  But last night, we headed out for tennis.  I stuffed the kids full of steak and cheese Sloppy Joe’s (was a good first attempt; needs tweaking) and told them to find their shoes and sweatshirts.  

Before dinner the youngest had come down the stairs dressed and ready to go.  And I do mean dressed.  He had on all his gear: his wicking shirt, his athletic shorts, he even had his “they don’t match anything, but Grammie gave me these so I’m proudly wearing them” knee high althletic socks.  Between the hyper blue shirt and the orange and green socks, he looked a flat riot.  Like some very short soccer star.  It was awesome.  He sat down at the table to do his homework and declared that all he needed now was a headband.  I pulled one out of the grocery bag.  The one that had the tennis balls I had bought that morning.  His face lit up.  I stood behind the kitchen island looking at my eldest, while the youngest did a dance over his new gear.  The eldest caught my look and said, “I love that face!” which means my face must have had an impish gleam that gave away the fact that I bought a headband for him too.  

Shoes on and sweatshirts in hand, we all poured out the door to get into Dad’s vehicle, otherwise known as “The Beast.”  Problem.  We are missing a racket.  We make a search for it, but we’re burning daylight so opt to head out with only three rackets and a promise to find the eldest’s later.  It was a half hour of play before it got so dark that we couldn’t see the ball.  (And decided that a lit-from-within tennis ball is a must for nighttime play.)  We also couldn’t figure out how to turn on the lights at the courts.  So we piled back in the Beast with a seriously bummed out little guy, and headed to see if the gym’s courts had lights.  It’s an older court and smaller, with cracks and divots, but it’ll do in a pinch.  

Ten minutes later, we are at the court waiting for the sodium lights to turn on fully.  At one point while the lights are warming up, the youngest’s red cheeks looked positively purple and I apparently looked full on yellow.  Soon, though, they are all the way lit and we managed to get in another half hour playing tennis in the dark, before we had to head for home and bed, with the promise to play tennis the very next warm week.

Now it may seem odd that I am posting this on a blog I have dedicated to the gaming fun my family and I have.  But it’s not odd, nor out of place.  You see, we learned of Boyo the Second’s love of tennis from video games.  First from WiiSports.  And then confirmed in Mario Power Tennis.  He was all of two going on three, and when he played the Wii, he would play tennis.  A lot of tennis.  Using the Wiimote left handed, mind you.  The Wiimote uses your positioning of it as you swing at the ball on screen, holding the Wiimote as if it was a tennis racket handle.  I have no idea how long it might have taken us to figure out in real life that the youngest liked tennis if he hadn’t been exposed to it through video games.  I happened to mention his love of tennis to his preschool, and they guided me to our Tennis Association that at the time had classes for kids as little as three.  

Oh, his face when we got him his first racket.  Blue, of course.  We would go out into the back yard and he would hit balls I lobbed his way.  He adored Abby, his first teacher.  At the end of the session, she gave him a kickball-sized ball that was made to look like a tennis ball, fuzz and all.  He still has it.  And he’s played tennis nearly every year since, with the eldest joining in on the fun in more recent years.  

When it’s dark, or cold, or raining outside, the youngest will still bring out the tennis games to play.  But last night in the spring-like warmth of a late winter’s night we got to go and play in real life, volleying and chasing missed balls around the courts, our laughter punctuating the dark.  

Rhombus of Ruin

Psychonauts is one of my all time favorite games.  Just a couple of nights ago at dinner we were listing our favorite levels in the game.  I mean you have the level where Raz stomps a city as Goggalor. 

 And a level where you follow the milkman conspiracy and go up against girls selling cookies.

Or how about the level where you climb into a black velvet painting to have a bullfight.

They are all just brilliant.  Brilliant works of art as different as people’s individual minds. Because that’s where the levels are.  Psychonauts is the story of Raz who sneaks into a summer camp for psychic kids.  While there, he learns psychic abilities and stumbles on a plot to use the kids for evil.  Raz, of course, saves them.  The puzzles are clever and totally different for each level.  You truly cannot walk into a level and go, “I’ve got this.  I’ll just take all of what I did in the last level and do that with this new technique I just learned added on.”  No seriously.  You can’t walk into a level based on modern sculpture that’s played out on different sides of a cube floating in space and be like, “Well, I was just in a dance party pinball race in the last level so I totally know what I’m doing.  This won’t be a challege at all.”  

But I’ve talked about Psychonauts before.  Anytime it’s up for download, I definitely recommend it (we got ours on the PS3 for the boys…and me to replay).  So why bring it back up.  Because they are working on a Psychonauts 2.  But that’s not news either.  Double Fine has a tortured history trying to bring us the second game, which you can learn about with a quick google search.  No, I’m bringing it up because I’m having a little pity party for myself.  They are going to release a stand alone chapter of the game.  On the PS VR.  And I will have to miss it.  

When you have kids and responsibilities and a budget, some things just don’t work for you in the gaming world.  In about a month, we will be purchasing a Switch (because Zelda).  I can’t remember the last time we bought a system when it came out.  Usually we wait for a deal.  We bought the WiiU fairly early because of the Wind Waker edition.  But the PS3 we bought when it was down to $150 and we only just got a PS4 this past Black Friday again on a deal.  Buying a VR for $400 is just not going to happen.  I don’t blame Double Fine for supporting the new technology, but the likelihood of us ever owning any VR is so low it’s close to Kelvin.  

If, however, the PS VR is on your list of priorities, I hope you get to play Rhombus of Ruin.  And I hope it’s really good.  I will be sitting in pins and needles waiting for Psychonauts 2. 

PlayStation blog post with Rhombus of Ruin trailer

You’re Doing It Wrong

If you’ve never watched Invader Zim, you’re really missing out.  It’s snarky, clever, funny, random, and definitely pushes boundaries.  In its essence, it’s a cartoon about an alien invader (Zim) who was so annoying his superiors sent him on a fake invasion mission with a malfunctioning robot (GIR) to earth where he poorly tries to blend in with human society while preparing to take over the world, and the only person (Dib) who considers him a serious threat and also is a huge conspiracy believer so of course no one, including his scientist dad, listens to him.  But we’re not going to talk about any of them.  We’re going to talk about Dib’s sister, Gaz.  

Gaz is a little bit of an icon for me.  In the series, she goes to great lengths to play video games and get a new gaming system (brilliantly called the Game Slave 2).  She’s always got an attitude, takes no crap, is phenomenal whenever she decides to do something, spends time reading, and often puts her brother in his place.  Gaz is aware of what Zim is, but she doesn’t care.  She knows he is too incompetent to take over the world.  

The kids have, of course, been exposed to the series.  Bits and pieces.  It’s not an easy series for kids.  They have to be in the right mood, have to understand it’s not serious, have to be aware of nuances of humor, and have to be prepared for some shocking ideas, like Zim harvesting human organs to appear more human-like to the skool nurse.  So I don’t push it on them, though I absolutely hope one day they watch the whole thing.  One of the episodes, however, we did make sure they saw.  Why?  Because we needed them to see “You’re doing it wrong.”

Take a minute or eleven and watch the episode here Invader Zim: NanoZIM.  Gaz enters at 6:13, relevant phrase at 8:08. 

For those of you who didn’t watch, in the episode Zim shrinks himself and his ship and goes into Dib’s body to make him destroy evidence that Dib took of Zim’s home and alien existence.  Long story short, Dib swallows a micro robot to stop Zim before he can destroy his brain.  Gaz mistakenly thinks it’s a video game.  Dib is being incompetent as usual and Gaz gets frustrated, tells him what to do, and even asks to play instead.  When Dib’s arm nerve gets taken out and he can no longer pilot the robot, Gaz takes over and completely owns Zim. 

We made sure the kids saw that episode because in the middle of it all Gaz says, “You’re doing it wrong!”  When you play video games, you have to be aware that you might feel like you are an expert at a certain game or a certain playing style or a certain level or a certain character.  That’s fine.  You might be.  But what you may not do is make someone else feel inferior by telling them, “you’re doing it wrong.”  Not in this house.  You will definitely find yourself sorely tempted.  The person playing might simply be going the wrong way down a corridor and you might be bursting to tell them, “No!  The other way!”  If they didn’t ask you for help, you can’t do that.  You might know that the person playing is using a magic spell or a weapon that is ineffective against the enemy they are facing, but you can’t tell them that.  You have to give the player time to figure it out for themselves.  And you certainly may not make someone who keeps loosing or dying in a game feel stupid for it.  We all struggle sometimes, be kind. 

Implementing that rule was not why we showed NanoZIM to the kids.  Sure, it’s a great example of the behavior the rule is about, and that might be reason enough to watch.  But there is a shadow reason to showing them Gaz’s little outburst.  It’s funny.  You have to remember that we are human and we are family.  Sometimes we’re going to make the mistake of saying, “you’re doing it wrong!” while watching someone game, or do dishes, or build a campfire, or what have you.  And instantly, we will all think of Gaz and our mood will lighten.  Maybe we’ll giggle.  There’s certain to be at least one of us who calls out “You’re doing it wrong!” like Gaz.  The person who said the phrase in the first place will recognize their own mistake and silently but powerfully apologies will be made and all will be forgiven.  And that is why we showed the kids this episode.