Announcements, IRL

Achievement Unlocked: Homecoming

Three years ago today, I opened a little space on the internet. It would take me on a wild ride across the country, meeting people who I’ve come to hold very close to my heart, and fighting for visibility in an industry that too often ignored and outright harassed entire swaths of fans and developers alike. We’ve accomplished so much since then. I say we because none of FemHype’s success would have been possible without you, the crew that came together — stayed together — and formed an absolutely incredible community that I’m deeply humbled to have been part of. You taught me so much, and for that, I can’t begin to thank you enough. Each and every one of you is so important to me. Thank you for existing. Thank you for fighting. And thank you for being you.

I know this sounds like a goodbye, and it is — sort of. A while back, I gave myself a deadline. If I couldn’t pay writers for their work, I would close FemHype, which is where we’re at now. It simply wasn’t sustainable, and I feel too strongly about fair compensation to allow this to continue. So after three rewarding years of advocacy, gaming, and friendship, this will be the last post you’ll see in this space. But don’t worry! All past articles will still be available to read and enjoy, and I’ll keep the social media active for as long as there are people following. If you have a project that you need boosted, a thought you want to share, or anything you think the crew might like? Tweet at us! Send us a message on Tumblr!

Paige and I are also very much still around, too, and we’d love to keep in touch. If that’s something you’d be interested in, you can reach out to Paige on Twitter @GLaDOS_hype and me @jillifrans.

It’s been one hell of a ride, friends. And I, for one, am super grateful to have met you. ❤

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IRL, Reviews

You’ve Got the Love: 6 Upcoming Games From #EGX2017

Last week, I spent Friday and Saturday at EGX. It’s the biggest games event of the year in the UK with blockbuster publishers such as Ubisoft, Square Enix, SEGA, and more set up alongside the varied and exciting indie contenders. Live national eSports tournaments are broadcast and talented cosplayers enjoy the spotlight all crammed into Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre (NEC). I came, I saw, and I played some really excellent games from odd gems to triple-A giants. Here are six of my favorite upcoming releases from the festival. I hope you find something that catches your eye, too!

Etherborn

What’s it like? A mind and gravity bending puzzle platformer that offers challenging and rewarding gameplay, supplemented by a meditative soundtrack.

Etherborn is not only gorgeous to play, but watching it over someone’s shoulder is similarly captivating as the glowing figure traverses low-poly ethereal environments. At the beginning, there is a bit of trial and error to understand where gravity lies, but as the puzzles become increasingly intricate, it’s a quietly gratifying experience. It’s never punishing – in fact, I really appreciated the beam of light underneath the character, as it shows where you’ll land and enables you to quickly rectify a mistake. Spinning the cubic levels around really showcases every angle of Altered Matter’s achievements, and it’s like the player enjoys an integrated photo mode as a tourist to these dreamy worlds.

Fans of Monument Valley, Proteus, and Portal will feel absolutely at home in Etherborn.

When’s it out? 2018.

Continue reading “You’ve Got the Love: 6 Upcoming Games From #EGX2017”

Feminism, IRL

#BadassBitchesTour: Dismantling the Patriarchy One Museum At a Time

Our tour group in front of the Florine Stettheimer exhibit. I’m second on the right! 🙂

In 1989, an anonymous group of art activists calling themselves the Guerrilla Girls dropped a little factoid that rocked the art world: the Metropolitan Museum’s Modern Art section included less than 5% of women artists, while 85% of the nudity on display featured women. Think it’s gotten any better come 2017? Uh, no. That staggering number now stands at only 6% of featured women artists to the tune of around 70% nudes. If you’re a fairly regular visitor to the Met like I am, you’ll be hard-pressed to find decent representation.

Enter: Museum Hack. Their team is working to offer an affordable set of tours that attempt to dismantle the inaccessible, overly academic language that so often surrounds museums. They’re also out to challenge the patriarchal stereotypes that exist throughout the art world in a fun and interactive setting. It’s a tall order, but somebody has to do it.

So when I was recently invited to attend a tour of my choosing, I was surprised to find so many options at my disposal. Museum Hack covers five major cities in the U.S. (Chicago, D.C., L.A., NYC, and San Francisco), and of the tours available in my area, I went for the one appropriately titled “Badass Bitches.” Because of course. Also, the intro sounded amazing:

“Remember when feminism happened, and Georgia O’Keeffe kicked butt, and now museums and the art world totally treat male and female artists with equal value? JK JK IT’S STILL SUPER BAD!”

As you might have guessed, this officially marks FemHype’s first foray into pop culture. We’ve covered events and conventions alike, but now we’re excited to open up the floor to talk about more than just games! (Shoutout to the women enthusiastically swapping Overwatch stories before the tour began on Saturday, though. It made me giddy.) If you’ve been waiting to submit something unrelated to games, congrats! Your time has come. Swing on over to our submissions page and we’ll get you started. ❤

While I was invited by a member of the Museum Hack staff to write this review, I was strongly encouraged to be honest about my experience. If I had a bad time, I definitely wouldn’t be recommending it to any of you now, but I think it’s still worth noting that I was asked to tag along in the first place. All good? Onward!

Continue reading “#BadassBitchesTour: Dismantling the Patriarchy One Museum At a Time”

IRL, RPGs

Hope in the Wasteland: Revisiting ‘Fallout’ in 2017

I like to call myself the Slowest Gamer Ever. I’m sure that isn’t strictly accurate, but I tend to be several years behind the curve when it comes to popular games everyone else has already played. I go for long stints where I don’t play anything except mobile games and maybe the odd MMO.

Among other things, this means I still haven’t finished several of the games I list among my favorites. The Fallout series definitely suffered from this. I adore the setting and its aesthetic, I think of it whenever I see something from even a vaguely related time period, and I probably own more merchandise from that series than I do any other game. But until recently, I hadn’t played Fallout 3 or Fallout: New Vegas since 2012, and I didn’t buy Fallout 4. I kept meaning to get back to the series, but for one reason or another, it just never happened.

Then Trump got elected.

Like most millennials, I don’t remember the Cold War as anything but a somewhat distant period in our history. I remember being afraid of nuclear war as a kid anyway because I read a lot and I worried about pretty much everything, but at some point, I accepted that the ever-present risk of nuclear war had ended when the USSR collapsed.

Over the past few years — mostly thanks to increasing aggression from North Korea — nuclear war has started to feel like a slightly more realistic fear again, or at least within the realm of possibility. The cavalier way Trump talked about nuclear weapons on the campaign trail was unnerving even when I didn’t think he could possibly win (and arguing with people who told me Clinton was more likely to start a nuclear war was incredibly frustrating). But watching him provoke both China and North Korea before he even took office — on Twitter, no less — was a lot worse. Suddenly, I was worrying about nuclear war again, only I had reason to this time. I wasn’t sure if I could deal with returning to the Fallout games after all. It was all a little too real, and the use of China as the enemy in the Great War felt uncomfortably prophetic.

It was like adding insult to injury: in among my fears about what the Trump administration would do to harm marginalized people and destabilize foreign relations, there was this extra little twist of bitterness that they might have taken away my ability to enjoy a short escape from reality with one of my favorite games. A friend of mine encouraged me to get back into Fallout 3 anyway, though. So I made time for it and discovered that the world presented in these games struck me as paradoxically hopeful in exactly the same way it always had — that is, before I thought it had any potential to reflect the future.

Continue reading “Hope in the Wasteland: Revisiting ‘Fallout’ in 2017”

IRL, LGBTQA

Atlus & Accountability: We Need to Stop Giving Queerphobic Games a Pass

I can’t decide if I’m going to play Persona 5 or not. It’s 2 AM, my eyes are fixed on the searing blue of my computer screen, and I’m railing on Atlus with the two people closest to me, a week’s worth of frustration and feeling condescended to by randos, peers, and friends alike pouring out. I don’t love Atlus. Well, scratch that, I want to love Atlus, and that’s what makes this so painful — like a specially tailored hurt that’s at once callus and personal.

I wouldn’t be writing this piece if I didn’t care. I do care about these games, and I find immense value in having played them. It was in my freshmen and sophomore years of high school that I took the Atlus plunge headfirst into Persona 3 and 4. I was sick back in those first two years of school, mostly bedridden and trapped in a bubble of close yet distant friends. Two friends — no, then one friend — were the only social interaction I had every Friday night, and my schooling consisted of a personal tutor in a public library for around two hours a day. I couldn’t walk without a cane, and the level of exhaustion I felt always tethered me back home.

In his recent review of Persona 5, Kirk Hamilton described the game as an ideal high school sim, but for me, these games took on a special meaning — a perfect escapist fantasy where I could explore themes of identity and friendship during a time when I felt so hollow. I could have a small shred of wonderment satisfied, suspend disbelief, ignore my social famine, and pretend to soar outside myself.

While I used to feel so strongly tied to these games due to their affect on my life, it’s been just over a year since I began transitioning, and my perception has changed. Those early months were something of a marketplace, where a feeling of gut-sinking betrayal was the currency paid to gain an understanding of my place in the American medical, political, and social cosmos. I could no more identify with my old icons than find any solace in them. It felt like a betrayal of the value I once found in these games.

Continue reading “Atlus & Accountability: We Need to Stop Giving Queerphobic Games a Pass”

IRL, LGBTQA, RPGs

You Helped Me Realize I Was Bisexual (And Games Did, Too)

I never really had a ‘crew’ like the one at FemHype before. The first real online community I joined was on YouTube. I had been actively following content and watching videos since 2008 — and probably even earlier — but I never really found my niche. So I bounced from community to community in search of one. I liked certain platforms, but I never really connected with anyone.

Then FemHype became a huge part of my life. First my sister started it and then, a year later, she invited me to join the team as Social Media Manager. I had always loved video games, but never really got involved online. Despite my lack of knowledge, you all welcomed me with open arms. I don’t know if I ever said thank you, so here goes: thank you.

When we were recording videos and creating content, I was struggling with really bad anxiety. I had panic attacks every week, and sometimes even twice a week. Still, the comments were upbeat, the feedback was genuine, and the response was far more positive than I had hoped for. I didn’t realize that I even needed a community like FemHype until I had one.

Everyone here opened dialogues for me that I had never felt comfortable discussing before. You taught me the patience and grace necessary to learn from varying perspectives and to know when to listen. Not only that, but when I finally opened up about my anxiety, you encouraged me to reconnect with myself and validated what I was feeling.

Continue reading “You Helped Me Realize I Was Bisexual (And Games Did, Too)”