Dark Souls and Trans Closets: Self Discovery Through Failure

Dark Souls and Trans Closets: Self Discovery Through Failure

Or: I struggled my way through Dark Souls and all I got was this lousy gender.

Spend more than five minutes browsing Dark Souls content on any social media platform and you’re bound to see some mention of transfeminine people being absolutely feral about (and uncannily good at) any Dark Souls game. It isn’t uncommon to see Twitter users joking about getting “girldick” by asking a transfem to explain the “deep lore” of Dark Souls or any of the games in its offshoot “Soulsborne” genre. Dark Souls is notoriously difficult, cryptic, and hostile to the player both in its mechanics and atmosphere. It’s no surprise that such a series would attract a devoted cult following. But why are transfeminine people in particular associated with this cult following? Is taking exogenous estrogen really the secret to “gitting gud” and getting past that boss you’ve been stuck on for weeks? (more…)

How My Favorite Mobile Game is Choosing Inclusion

How My Favorite Mobile Game is Choosing Inclusion

This piece contains descriptions of explicit sexual content (aimed at mature audiences).

Cheesy ads.

Predictable heterosexual smut.

Carbon copy plots.

These are some of the complaints I see people make about the mobile visual novel genre, a category which includes obviously named apps such as Choices, Episodes, and Chapters. However, as somebody who has been playing these sorts of games for years now, I am very happy with the strides that many of these apps have made to become more inclusive. If you like LGBTQ+ love stories but were disappointed in the past by apps like these, I think Choices is worth your time. (more…)

PAX West Con Diary: Game Recommendations from Another Weird Year

PAX West Con Diary: Game Recommendations from Another Weird Year

PAX is a lot. It’s always been a lot. It’s always going to be a lot. It’s four days of walking through a dark convention center while neon lights illuminate computer cases. There’s inexplicably a carnival-themed booth that takes literal minutes to cross in the center of the con floor. Everything wants your attention, and it screams for that attention. (more…)

Exploring My Queerness in Pelican Town

Exploring My Queerness in Pelican Town

Stardew Valley is a farming and life simulation game created by Eric Barone (ConcernedApe). The player plays as someone who leaves their soul-crushing job at a big corporation, Joja, to take over the farm their grandfather left them in his will. What sets Stardew Valley apart is how deep the story is. There are many secrets to unlock about the town while befriending, and potentially romancing, the NPCs. Yes, farming is fun. And there are other activities like mining and repairing the town’s Community Center with the help of some forest spirits called Junimos. But you don’t have to do any of that. If you want to just run around and befriend everyone you can do that too. (more…)

Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga Gave My Star Wars Obsession a New Hope

Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga Gave My Star Wars Obsession a New Hope

I can’t remember a time in my life before Star Wars. The movies and related content shaped my identity and fostered my creativity. My first crushes were Han Solo, Luke, and Anakin Skywalker; meanwhile, Princess Leia ignited a years-long queer awakening. I watched the movies over and over, read the Expanded Universe (now called Legends) novels, and played the Lego games until my PS2 was barely functioning. I scrolled boards.theforce.net for hours, where I discovered the magical world of fanfiction. From childhood to my late teens, Star Wars and the fandom were the twin suns around which my world revolved. (more…)

Level Up Your Poetry, Part 3: The Name of the Game Is Immersion

Level Up Your Poetry, Part 3: The Name of the Game Is Immersion

In my two prior essays about the craft of video game poetry, I’ve touched on the roots of poems inspired by art and other media (i.e., ekphrastic verse) and broken down some examples of my own work to show how digital games can inspire wildly different homages. Now, I’d like to dig into one of the best practices of poetry in general, something that should be a natural fit for gaming poems in particular: creating an immersive experience for the audience. (more…)