Listening – Watching – Reading – Playing Jan 2018

ListeningMy playlists are currently all peppered with Birdtalker, a Nashville band formed in 2012 by husband and wife team Zack and Dani Green. Over time they added friends and acquaintances until resembling the five-piece band that recorded the single “Heavy” in 2016. I’ve always loved Heavy, it’s a happy sounding and feeling song but it’s got hella emotional layers — my kinda jam. I only recently listened to the full six-song EP that includes such new favs as “Graveclothes” and “Blue Healer”. Seriously, I never get tired of them.

WatchingI’m actually watching so many things right now but my main binge of the last few months has been re-watching all of the Marvel Netflix shows. It started with Daredevil and quickly spiraled into an obsession that led me down a crazy comic reading binge. Now I’m re-watching Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage and basically chastising Claire Temple at every available moment for not calling Matt. Claire, call Matt!

I also recently watched “The Shape of Water”, a fabulous film that took me right back to the first time I saw Pans Labarynth. It’s dark, original, it’s got oodles of heart and ample character. Just like what you expect from a good Guillermo Del Toro film. Plus it’s stunning, did I mention it’s stunning?

Reading 1I’ve recently joined an informal book club and although we’ve yet to meet up, we’re all busy reading The Power by Naomi Alderman. It’s considered a science fiction book, although nothing like the sci-fi I usually read (which tends towards space opera and hard sci-fi). It’s about women developing a previously defunct power that allows them to wield electricity, leading to them becoming the dominant gender. The book has a really odd structure to it, it’s framed as a fictional retelling of history in a world in which women have always been the dominant gender, and the author is speculating on what would have happened if men had been the dominant gender first, and women had to overtake them with this power. Honestly, the framing is a little confusing at this point (I’m about a third of the way through) and I’m really interested to see how that narrative device impacts the overall story. It reminds me just a little of the framing in William Goldman’s The Princess Bride. If you’ve seen the film you remember the grandfather is reading the book to his grandson, in the book version it’s a historical novel so the grandson — William Goldman — believes the content of the book is entirely true. Of course, there’s more to it than that, but it completely changed how I read the story as a kid.

playingI’m actually on a bit of a break from video gaming. The last game I played was Dragon Age Origins, one I have actually never completed. I did get further than ever before this time, but then Daredevil happened and I got woefully distracted. I’ve finally created a warden that I really like though, so I know I need to go back and finish her playthrough!

What are you listening to, reading, watching and playing this year? Let me know what’s good in the comments!

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Tell women they’re beautiful.

Hi all, this past week we celebrated International Women’s day and I had a blast.

On this most auspicious of days, I like to take time to celebrate the women in my life who have supported and lifted me up in my own times of struggle. It’s funny, this marks the first year that I’ve gotten in on the festivities — I mean really gotten in on them — and I chalk that up to a powerful year of pouring into women around me and having them pour into me. I have truly seen the difference one person can make on a life this year, how encouragement and support can help us face life’s challenges with vigour.

One of the things I hear and see most often on a day like IWD is how we need to build up the women in our lives by shifting the focus from appearances. It’s hard, ladies are conditioned their whole lives to compare themselves to others physically and to be their hardest critics when they look in the mirror — I absolutely agree that we need to be reminded just how intelligent, wise, empathetic, strong, capable, tenacious, and brave we are. Especially especially young women. This is my own corner of that soapbox. When girls are small I think they need these messages tenfold. Tell those little girls they are capable and brave, stop the cycle of self-comparison and beauty standards when they are small — that is how you make the most impact on societal norms.

That said, once we’re already adults — it’s kinda too late. At this point, do not forget to remind your friends that they are also the most stunningly beautiful people you have ever encountered. And this is no lie, no hyperbole.

Have you ever looked at someone you’re kinda in love with (platonic or otherwise) and wondered at how the sunshine warms their face and cups the curve of their cheek and sparkles in their eye, dancing in their hair like a halo of fire? How sweet and special every freckle, each dimple? How magnificent their natural smile, how good it makes you feel when they laugh?

We don’t see ourselves that way.

Other-worldly love selves kjewellwrites

When we look in the mirror it often isn’t when a ray of golden sun is alighting just so, it’s under the freaky fluorescent bulbs of the changing rooms or in the dimly lit basement bathroom. We don’t see our otherworldly love-selves.

 

So yes, tell the women in your life about all of their amazing qualities. Don’t leave anything out. Tell them how inspired you are by their bravery in the face of challenges. Tell them how you’ve seen them struggle — even fall — and get back up again, and how courageous they were to do it. Remind them that they are kind and compassionate. Remind them of all those less traditionally feminine traits too, the ones you love — like being defiant in the face of authority, being willing to stand up for others, being passionate about weird things like rocks and video games. How their passion makes them cooler than cool.

But also give them a glimpse, if you can, into how you see them. Give them a glimpse through the love goggles, because you see your mother and your grandmother and your sister and your best friend (and your wife and your girlfriend and your aunt… ) differently than anyone else.

You see what truly makes them beautiful, and they sometimes can’t.

 

Take the Pledge: To Do No Harm

In 2011 I graduated school and stepped off into the real world to become “a communications professional”. More than someone with a basic understanding of spelling and grammar, communications is a career that spans the breadth of society. We’re everywhere, writing both the copy on the cereal boxes and the words that scroll up in front of newscasters and television personalities.

I’ve often espoused the importance of diverse and inclusive writing in popular media, something I consider to be an ethical responsibility. I have seen, without a doubt, the enormous impact of well-written, diverse stories. When someone who has been marginalised by society sees themselves represented in popular culture — and done well, without resorting to stereotyping — it can be a life-altering experience. It’s validating, people have told me, to have your existence acknowledged.

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Elizabeth shared this thought with me in a previous interview for Why Diverse Games

Although popular culture has often been my soap box of choice, the recent US election results have shown me that picking just one soap box simply isn’t enough. Yes, I believe that through representation in film, TV and gaming we will see a change in our society — but what can we do today?

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GDX Edmonton Highlights: Narrative in Games

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending Sunday at Game Discovery Exhibition Edmonton, (GDX). It was a mad crazy weekend, followed by an insane week so I’m sitting down now to write some thoughts about the conference.

The second panel I was able to attend was the Narrative in Games panel. Moderated by Matt Dykstra, the panel included Bioware lead writer Patrick Weekes and lead editor Karen Weekes, Beamdog writer Andrew Foley and Madsoft writer Corina Dransutavicius.

It’s always a pleasure to attend panels that bring writers together! I took a lot away from this one. General take away on how to break into the game writing world — go find Dave Gross, who was the pivotal connection that got Patrick and Andrew their jobs.  Actual take away, go join writers groups, stay connected with other writers.

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Highlights from GDX Edmonton: Inclusion in Games

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending Sunday at Game Discovery Exhibition Edmonton, (GDX). It was a mad crazy weekend, followed by an insane week so I’m sitting down now to write some thoughts about the conference.

The first panel I attended was Inclusion in games, moderated by Emma McDonald, the panel included Bioware vets Sarah Hayward and Sarah Beck, programmer Sagal Adam, Designer Bree Emmerson and activist Emily Dutton. All of these amazing women gave fantastic advice.

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Why Diverse Games: Starting Close to Home

I’ve been emailing furiously with friends and contacts I’ve made online. I’ve been sending out queries along the lines of “HEY, you’re a gamer, how do you feel about DIVERSITY”. I’ve been reading articles, trawling Tumblr for opinions and all whilst wondering what people must think of me — a straight, white woman from Canada who is hounding them for what can be personal experiences.

Of course, I’m linking all of these wonderful people to this website. They will probably  find my one lowly game review and a pretty header. If they are very diligent they might  find my Tumblr or my AO3 account or even my art portfolio where they will be bombarded with my oh-so-professional Dragon Age Fangirling (professionals can still fangirl right?).

The fact is, you might not know me very well and if you do, you might not understand why this topic is one that means so much.

Since I am going to feature interviews with all kinds of gamers on this subject, I wanted to start closest to home — with myself. So, here’s my story, and my take.

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