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Magic and gender in Final Fantasy VI

Final Fantasy VI (1994) is deeply concerned with the relationship between human beings and technology. The game liberally borrows elements from Western heroic fantasy and science fiction, yet the story and action are centered around two young female protagonists, Terra and Celes, who are variations on the “magical girl” and “beautiful fighting girl” archetypes of late-20th century Japanese pop culture. Placing Final Fantasy VI within the broader context of Japanese society in the 1990s can give us a new perspective on a classic and iconic videogame while also enhancing our understanding of many of the narrative tropes and conventions of…

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The game about female sexuality that Apple wouldn’t touch

La Petite Mort is a smartphone game about timing, communication, and being generous. It’s also a game about sex, female pleasure, and sensuality. As is expected with pretty much any game about female sexuality, Apple rejected La Petite Mort for publication on its App Store on the grounds that it was inappropriate. The Denmark-based developer Lovable Hat Cult, who made the game, told me that even though Apple claimed to show support for the game’s themes of generous love, it still refused to publish a game that explores these concepts through sexual content. However, this raises a question: is it possible to…

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Genital Jousting, a real videogame about penises fighting each other

A videogame that has you and your friends play as mutant penis-butt creatures trying to penetrate one another might not sound like the most empowering female experience. But, believe me, it is. Genital Jousting began as a simple joke. At Berlin Minijam last spring, programmer Evan Greenwood (director of Free Lives, the studio behind last year’s masculine-pumped action game Broforce) set out to make a local multiplayer game with humor that was “at the expense of penises.” After teaming up with Marin Kvale (sound) and Daniel Schüler (art), they came to the understanding that watching players “chase each other around trying to…

THE-WITCH
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The Witch isn’t an empowerment narrative and that’s why it’s great

Before, I was not a witch. But now I am one. — Margaret Atwood, author of Half-Hanged Mary and descendant of accused witch Mary Webster The Witch, described simply by its first time writer/director Robert Eggers as a “New England fairytale,” tells a story we’ve heard many times and in many different ways—but with one crucial difference. The ancient, devil-loving hag who wreaks havoc on good, devout Christians is, of course, a tale as old as most countries. More recently, though, it’s also been reapproriated to incorporate everything from Arthur Miller’s metaphorical scapegoats to the WB’s Halliwell sisters (and whatever the hell Strega Nona and…

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The Year of Mom

It begins with her. Whether the birth of a nation or your own life, it all began with her. Inside her, existence takes shape. Outside her, the shape of her existence is forgotten. As American poet and feminist Adrienne Rich says, “Life on the planet is born of woman.” Yet, somehow, the begetter of planet Earth has been all but cursorily kept out of humanity’s central myths, social structures, and ideologies. In Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution, Rich weaves autobiography with literary and historical research to paint a universal portrait of motherhood as it exists under patriarchy.…

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New Kickstarter uses crafting, jewelry, and games to get girls coding

A new Kickstarter entitled Giapetta’s Workshop wants to blend coding, crafting, and narrative into a single game that encourages 8-12 year old girls to be interested in STEM. The game begins in the real world, with a necklace and jewelry box that each girl can customize to fit her own style. The necklace then becomes her portal into an animated Adventure-Story app that turns learning how to code into a magical journey. The necklace serves as an input device which reveals hidden spells that, in turn, can only be unlocked by learning a basic coding program. Giapetta’s Workshop stars a…

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There is now a high tech gadget exclusively for women’s health

You know how I know its the future? Because “smart” technology is trying to literally get in my pants. Let me explain: the Looncup, recently Kickstarted, is a bluetooth-enabled menstrual cup designed to help women “redefine” their “special time of the month.” If those words sound like gibberish to you, join the club, because either your first reaction is “what the hell is a menstrual cup?” or “why the hell is the Internet of Things trying to get inside me?” But beyond these instinctual responses lies something much more important. First of all, technology—that shiny stuff produced in Silicon Valley…

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Become the manager of Nice Dudes modeling agency, manage all the nice dudes

Often, women are treated as commodities in videogames. Whether they’re the player’s reward or used as background decoration for the world, players are accustomed to seeing the female body bought, sold, collected, consumed, and traded. Of course, this isn’t exclusive to games: advertisers often use photoshop to portray parts of the female body as literal objects, or use the female form as decoration to render their object more attractive. (It’s starting to happen to male bodies too, but with less frequency and history than women). Which is why the Nice Dudes management sim by Eeve Somepx feels like such a breath of…