Classicist, femme dandy, librarian. Tweets May Contain: videogames, paisley shirts, queerness, intersectional feminism, cephalopods.
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little whispers about the last story

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alexalexok:

hey. sh shh. it’s ok. don’t even look over here. just listen for a moment or two… to these words spilling nice & quiet from a damp crack in the wall. it’s gonna be ok.

i know, first & foremost, heck, you’re tired and busy all the time. and also feel exceptionally guilty about any time you spend playing a game because that doesn’t feel very productive. and also, also, are gripped with such panic at the thought of doing anything that does feel productive that you end up doing nothing but refreshing your least favourite websites for the few hours until it’s time to have another cup of tea or something to eat.

well, anyway, good luck with that. if you think you fancy playing a jrpg but oh my gosh they’re always about 80 hours long i can’t even consider it. the last story is only like… 25? that’s still a lot i know. but maybe i can tempt you in with some things that you might enjoy along the way, such activities, present in the video game, such as, the following, list of activities! in. the video game.


1. dress up

ah, yes. that’s the good stuff. ok the options about what to actually wear aren’t that great. but you can dye like 10 different parts of everything 50 different colours & also show or hide as many belts, buckles, pouches, scarves, jackets, and pieces of armour as you desire. most importantly, you can just turn everything invisible and go cutting about the castle in your pants or assemble a fine squad of ghost hunting fight boys as we see here in their natural habitat.

image

kinda refuse to accept that dressing up & cosmetic options in games are less important than other elements & it’s ok to cut that stuff out to sell back or whatever. that’s not fair. dressing up is very important. for example, i read somewhere it’s like the number 1 most important thing in that video game the last story, if someone decided to write a numbered list of the important things in that video game the last story & post it on tumblr.


2. don’t really go anywhere

a, yes. thats the good stuff. love a small game. a small open world. bring it in, babies. give me a chibi robo, a bully. poking around in corners, watching things change. stack my time up in one place & let it pass, don’t stretch it out all over the place.

the last story is a city & a castle & a bunch of dungeon locations. it is not an especially interesting city as far as these things go, like a shit gran soren where you’re can’t even run around on the roof. but, you gradually become familiar with it & might generously decide that familiarity is a warmth. it has charm, certainly, in the incidental details - banging your head on signs & slipping up on dropped lemons, mostly. catching frogs & learning how to dive in the river. sidling into treasure nooks & catching stat-boosting trash as it is blown down one windy alleyway.

there’s also this thing where… ok, so there’s no quest log in the game, which seems really bad at first obviously because what the heck. but when you have to remember things, or write them down even, it’s a really basic level of actual brain engagement (rather than relying on menus & not thinking about anything) that ingrains the situation, the space, the human-shaped quest node. and maybe, those imprints leak out into the good feelings zone of your brain a little bit. ask me anything about how brains work.


3. fight a bit but not that much really or hurry up at least

ahh, yea. that sthe goode stuff. i seem to care less and less and less about fighting things as the years go by, so it’s nice how quick the combat is here. sometimes actually too quick to actually plan or adjust to situations & sometimes tripping itself up by having too many commands on the same buttons – so it can get frustrating.

but it’s mostly a good time. just run around hitting things & occasionally use a special attack on the magic circles your allies throw on the ground in order to spread out or enhance the effects. best bit is when you order everyone to throw down their most powerful spells in the same place & then swoop through everything at once. then the big shimmering fuck-you venn diagram explodes over the screen in a glorious mess of numbers & words & magical effects. can’t say if that’s effective but, additionally, who cares.

4. go oooh shit yes, nice, like you’re 14 again watching the castle turn into a robot in ff9

oah yes, that is good. there’s some stuff like that ok. i would say ‘i would have loved that’ but to put that reaction on past me alone is a damn lie. i love it okay. i love big cutscenes with things turning into other things and shooting other things that also have turned into big things that can shoot things.

please go back in time & explain to young me about anime.

it will kill me but it will be worth it.


5. listen to a bunch of british voices

ahhhhhh yes.

good.

and not just the usual ones like, oh a posho, and this guy over here is scottish. but an actual range from all over the country. some are ridiculously broad but some are really nice - star of the show is probably syrenne with a mancunian accent. not sure i’ve heard one of those in a game before. but it’s a really nice, natural delivery which suits her character perfectly & feels like, hey, here’s a cool person in the video game who i’d like to hang out with more. which is, as everyone knows, an incredibly important thing to get right.

here’s a welsh knight too if you like. it’s: fantastic.

6. raise a bunch of entirely valid criticisms

oh heck yes. thats the good one. just go wild on the social media platform of your choice. there’s quite a lot to choose from. like how it’s a complete miracle you managed to form some kind of attachment to your gang of pals when they get so little development & attention. mostly you come to know them just by their idle chatter while you’re running through some tunnels - which i am totally a fan of! it’s an excellent way to convey characterisation in a natural, ingrained way. and it is done very well in this case. but, the game has little else to compliment that. i like to be friends with people ok & i wish i could know them better.

and then. hoo boy. the pacing is really bad. what should be the end of the game goes on for so, so long - there’s another boss, another dungeon, on and on with no downtime in between. it becomes really tiresome & in the end i just wanted to be finished. also the actual cause & effect & outcomes of the plot events make no sense. but don’t worry, the sentient space rocks are eventually reunited & go on to… possibly… create, or destroy, life, on a different planet instead. good job?


7. idk, bye. please remember,

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kateri_t
1676 days ago
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Yorkshire, UK
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“Living as a woman” – MPs take on the Real Life Test

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I’m currently writing up a section of my thesis that describes trans people’s experiences of navigating the public health system in the UK. A large part of this is related to the “real life test”, in which patients are asked to live for a period of time in their “acquired gender” in order to demonstrate that they are suitable for treatment.

This requirement, which incidentally was absent from the latest version of the international Standards of Care, has a lot of issues. These include the prioritisation of cisnormative standards, little-to-no recognition of non-binary identities, white-centric cultural insensitivity, and the frequent demand that patients hold down “an occupation” as part of the test (particularly pernicious in a time of high unemployment).

It was therefore very interesting to see MPs questioning the idea of the real life test during the fourth and final session of the UK Parliament Women & Equalities Committee’s inquiry into transgender equality earlier this week. The conversation, in which MPs quizzed Ministers and NHS England representative Will Huxter, went as follows:

Jess Phillips MP:
“I think I’d like to go back again to this idea of living in one gender identity: I wonder if you can tell me – clinically – what ‘living like a woman’ – or alternatively, man – actually means?”

Will Huxter:
“I’m not a clinician I can’t tell you what that’s – ”

Jess Phillips MP:
“Do you think that there is a clinical way to live as a woman? Or a man?”

Will Huxter:
“The point I am making is that we are guided by specialists who work in this area, the clinical consensus among gender identity specialists about how services should operate. We are absolutely open to looking at how that might change, but I’m not in a position to make a change to the way in which those services are commissioned without having gone through a clinical process”.

Maria Miller MP:
“Mr Huxter, sorry, I think we’re going to have to press you on that. Is – this is just factual, we have read that people have to ‘live like a woman’ or ‘live like a man’, we as a committee have struggled to know what that looks like in a day and age where men and women live in very similar ways. What do you – factually – what does that mean?” mean?

Will Huxter:
“Well in terms of what is required by the clinic I’d be very happy to provide some details from clinical colleagues after this because it’s not – I don’t deliver the services nor am I a clinician. I feel I could give a better representation to the committee if I provided that outside.”

Maria Miller MP:
“Is the Minister comfortable with the fact that the government requires this information to be available, or that individuals have to live ‘like a man’ or ‘live like a woman’ in order to be able to change their identity?”

Jane Ellison MP:
“Well, I mean, put as you put it to us, I mean obviously you know it gives cause for concern in a sense that, you know, who wouldn’t have sympathy for someone put in that situation etc , clearly the committee has heard I know some really difficult evidence and I quite understand why you wish to reflect that. I mean I think that as Will has said you know there is actually currently a review going on anyway about this very issue, which is essentially about looking at the current guidelines, about understanding that represents current better practice, about giving some challenge to that. There are a number of – compared to even five years ago – there wasn’t a mechanism for the NHS to receive that sort of, you know, feedback from critical friends or otherwise. Those now exist, the transgender network has been set up, the various stakeholder groups that are, you know, really locked into the process. So I think what I’m saying is I don’t think there is ever, you know, clinical understanding of situations is rarely completely frozen in time, I mean this one particularly isn’t, because for a lot of people this is a very new speciality, and therefore I would imagine over the next ten years for example, the next few years, you will see an evolution. And that process is underway, which is exactly why the NHS is consulting and is looking at, particularly at its clinical, you know, specification. That process is actually going on at the moment and, as Will has said, very open to the committee’s recommendations being fed into that. But I know I’m not a clinician too, and I know from other areas of my portfolio perhaps better than this one because I’ve been doing it longer, I do know that you do need to test. Because once you commission to a standard, once you’ve got that, you know you do, you need to make sure you’ve tested your views, and that you actually capture a clinical consensus, because that’s the only way you can move forward. But that consensus will evolve.”

Jess Phillips MP:
“Okay, I just – from the Minister – just, I suppose, what I’m looking to hear, is that you recognise that there is not a single list of attributes that represents what it is to be a woman and/or a man; and therefore, there cannot be a clinical list of things that a person can be told to do by a doctor in order to tick those boxes. Do you recognise that fact?”

Jane Ellison MP:
“Well I understand what you’re saying and I think that it would be very helpful if we – subsequent to this hearing – write to the committee with some – with an example from a clinician operating in the field as to what they would mean by that, because obviously you know people are sitting down with individual people and saying, you know, requiring them to do that and they must have an idea of what that requirement is, what that looks like. So I think we should ask the question of clinicians and supply the committee with some, perhaps some examples, obviously anonymised, of where that’s already happening in clinical practice, and what that looks like.”

You can watch the footage here.

women and equalities

As it turns out, However, there is an answer to be found in the clinical literature. Charing Cross GIC clinical lead James Barrett has the following to say on the subject of the real life test in his book, Transsexual and Other Disorders of Gender Identity: A Practical Guide to Management:

“The question immediately arises of what constitutes ‘success’ in a chosen gender role. In essence, ‘success’ amounts to occupation, sexual, relationship and psychological stability. Of these, the first can be measured by whether or not the patient can manage to hold down a full-time (or equivalent part-time occupation in the chosen role for a year, in the course of the real life experience […] ‘Success’ in an occupation is achieved if the patient is treated by most others as if they are of the assumed sex. It is not necessarily that those around the patient believe that they are that sex […] Rather than being believed to be the assumed sex, the goal should be taken as an treated as that sex.”

[…]

“Some patients fiercely maintain that they do not care what others think of them, and that their own conviction of their gender is what matters. This position is at odds with the philosophy of a real life experience and if followed seems not to be predictive of a good longer-term outcome.”

Barrett further qualifies that “success cannot occur within a “purely transvestite or transsexual environment”, because “others may be supranormally accepting”.

So there you have it: “living as a woman” or “living as a man” means being taken as such within a cis environment. A very postmodern basis for clinical excellence!


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kateri_t
1712 days ago
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Yorkshire, UK
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fat-birds: trompehue-studios: thebestoftumbling: singing...

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fat-birds:

trompehue-studios:

thebestoftumbling:

singing cockatiel ;-;

IT’S SINGING THE TOTORO THEME OMG

so smol and pure 😍😭

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kateri_t
1725 days ago
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Yorkshire, UK
jessfishenden
1725 days ago
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Leeds, United Kingdom
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Review: Saga Volumes 1-5

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saga volume 1Written by Brian K. Vaughan

Art by Fiona Staples

Lettering and Design by Fonografiks

Published by Image

Volume 1-£7.99

Volumes 2-5-£10.99 each

 

Alana and Marko have just had a baby, Hazel. They have all the problems young parents always have; lack of sleep, endless amounts of time spent looking after their baby, learning to read her moods and what she wants, the whole nappy issue and, of course, the armies that want them both dead.

Okay, maybe not JUST the problems all young parents have.

Alana’s a native of Landfall, Marko, of its moon, Wreath. Their worlds have been at war for so long the entire galaxy has been caught up in it. That’s how Alana and Marko met. How Hazel showed up? Well, that was more a spur of the moment thing.

That’s the core of this story. As David Byrne put it; two fools in love, so beautiful and strong. It’s an amazingly simple, completely universal story that hits pretty much its entire audience square between the eyes. If you’re not a parent the romance will get you. If you’re not in love then their frantic struggle to get their lives under control will be familiar to anyone who was ever 23. If you, somehow, missed that year then the comedy and action will get you instead. Also, I’d like to borrow your time machine.

saga volume 2But the genius of the book is in how it uses that simplicity to craft a story that’s absolutely colossal. Every plot strand that’s introduced is folded around Alana and Marko but they reach across worlds and families to bring in a huge cast of supporting characters. Some of them are villains, some are heroes and most of them change sides more than once. All of them, like the world’s least lucky new parents, are complex, realistic, likeable people. Which, given the amount of characters in this book who have TVs for heads is quite an achievement.

Because make no mistake, this isn’t just an SF series, it’s arguably the definitive western SF comic of this century. Vaughan has talked at length about how long he’s been developing this story and it shows on every page. The world building isn’t just subtle it’s almost instinctive, folding new revelations in as Marko and Alana need them but making it clear they were there along. Volume 4 for example sees Alana briefly work for The Circuit. Somewhere between a rolling soap opera, professional wrestling and superhero comics, The Circuit is mentioned previously and baked in in such a way that you feel like you know it before you get there. Conversely, volume 5 features a moment where Alana tries to trade off her brief celebrity and finds out her character is still in the show and being played by another character. This isn’t a universe powered by the leads, it’s one that’s happening regardless of whether they’re present or not.

That’s also shown by the way the narrative splits in later volumes. As well as Alana, Marko, Hazel and a variable number of grandparents, the series digs into the consequences of their relationship and, crucially, Hazel’s existence. Hazel shouldn’t be possible, but because she’s alive she’s an immensely valuable asset for both sides in the war. Superficially, that’s horrifying; a child being used as a political tool. But there’s more complexity to it than that. The war is everywhere and Hazel is something unprecedented and new. A means to either end it or win it. No one’s right here but no one’s fully wrong and Vaughan excels at that sort of moral complexity.

saga volume 3Even the villains of the piece don’t get off easy. The Will, a bounty hunter sent after the fleeing parents, is entirely too principled for his job. In fact, his plot, and the people it drags in, may be my favourite part of the series.

The Will is Jason Statham on a bad day, or maybe a very good one. Relentlessly competent, a little over principled and entirely too self-aware for his job he’s a good guy who’s done bad things and really isn’t sure how he feels about that. Partnered with Lying Cat, a huge cat who serves as a feline lie detector, he sets off intent on bringing Alana and Marko in. Then things go wrong. Then they go wronger.

saga volume 4How The Will, and the group he accumulates, reacts to this is one of the book’s strongest points. Again, it shows how no one is clear cut and, again, it allows the book to show off its greatest strength; simplicity.

This is a book defined in every way by taking the smallest things and exploring them in the most detail. Alana and Marko, the needs of a new baby, the impact it has on their family. All of these things are the centre of a vast story of galactic intrigue, horror and war and none of them are ever lost sight of. This is a book with a simple, immensely strong central dynamic that a vast amount of colossal ambitious ideas are hung off. All of them work. Every single one.

That’s down to the stunning art that. Fiona Staples’ is extraordinary in a way that on its own, like Vaughan’s script, would make this an excellent book. Together they make it an era-defining one. Both have a clear eyed view of the central dynamic of the book; Marko, Alana, Hazel and the humanity, compassion and occasional ugliness of family life. Staples is one of, if not the, strongest character artist working today and the subtlety and realism she brings to the characters is consistently astonishing. More so when you remember that Alana and Marko’s babysitter is the ghost of a bisected teenage freedom fighter.

The duet between the art and script is better here than in pretty much every other book on the market. There’s a scene in volume 4 where Alana has done something stupid, irresponsible and entirely understandable. Marko confronts her and the fight they have goes from comedic to awkward to disturbing to violent in the space of two pages. None of its tidy, none of its elegant, none of its acceptable but it’s all understandable. They’re two young, terrified parents under incredible and constant stress. When they lash out, they lash out against each other and the consequences of that simple fight echo down through the script and art to the end of volume 5.

 

saga volume 5That willingness to explore every corner of the central characters is what makes the book truly exceptional. It’s always honest, often very funny and crammed full of the most creative profanity in modern comics. But beyond all that it’s also always understanding. This is a book about complex, difficult people in a near impossible situation. Many of them die, often cruelly, precisely because of that impossibility but they’re all memorable, lovable and most of all, familiar.

That’s why Saga is essential. Not just because of the comedy, dizzying visual invention or truly amazing art. But because in the end this is a story about people we’ve known or people we’ve been. And if they can win, perhaps, so can we. A modern classic in every sense. Do yourself a favour and pick up volume 1 now.


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kateri_t
1737 days ago
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saga is the honest best.
Yorkshire, UK
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Fitzwilliam Darcy’s Dance Challenge (and other updates)

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Fitzwilliam Darcy’s Dance Challenge (and other updates):

squinkyhatesvideogames:

screenshot3

I have released a new game! It is an irritatingly difficult, yet extremely silly, ballroom dancing simulator called Fitzwilliam Darcy’s Dance Challenge, based on the popular leading man from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Grab it on itch.io!

Also on my itch.io store, I have recently re-released Tentacles Growing Everywhere as pay-what-you-want (including free). Additionally, I have started SquinkPicks: a curated list of games on itch.io that I have recently played and that I recommend. If you’re looking for something new and weird to play, give it a looksie!

I recommend this game to everyone who has ever fantasised about Mr Darcy. In my case, I fantasise about stamping on his feet and annoying the shit out of him, and this game serves me well.

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kateri_t
1752 days ago
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Yorkshire, UK
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"Bodies, I Have In Mind" at ZEAL

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My piece for Aevee Bee's micro-games-e-zine ZEAL is out. It's called "Bodies, I Have In Mind", and it's about my body, other people's bodies, video game bodies, gay marriage, physics, and a bit of Ovid quotation for good measure.

It actually took a pretty long time to write, because when I write about games I usually maintain some distance and don't include too much of my personal life, so it was challenging (but fun) for me to try to change my usual mode. I hope it's not too terrible of a read.

If you like my writing for ZEAL, and want to support more work like it by diverse authors, then please consider donating to the ZEAL Patreon, which commissions this work.
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kateri_t
1790 days ago
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Yorkshire, UK
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