The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit

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Captain Spirit stars a young boy named Chris who lives in a small house with his dad. For reasons I won’t spoil, the two live alone; Chris’ mom is out of the picture, and his father is struggling to deal with that. He’s an alcoholic, depressed former basketball star who — at least initially — puts on a good front as a kind, caring parent. But it’s not long before the signs of neglect show.

The game plays out as something of an interactive drama. If you played any of Life is Strange before, or similar series like those from Telltale Games, you’ll feel right at home. Much of the experience is simply walking around and looking at objects and listening to Chris talk about them. There’s also lots of dialogue and player-driven choices. For example, when Chris’ dad has a few too many, you can choose whether to tell him he’s had too much or simply change the subject.

Chris deals with things the way many kids do: with his imagination. The titular Captain Spirit is a superhero Chris created, and when he puts on a Captain Spirit costume, Chris becomes braver and has superpowers that exist only in his mind.

Much of what you’re actually doing in Captain Spirit is mundane household chores. While Chris’ dad becomes progressively inebriated, his son takes out the recycling full of old beer cans, fixes the water heater so he can wash the dishes, and makes his dad something to eat. But these seemingly boring activities are imbued with childhood whimsy. Chris doesn’t microwave some macaroni and cheese, he iridates it using his superpowers. He doesn’t fix the water heater, he has a heart-pounding battle with an evil villain called the Water Eater.

These moments are charming, and they really drive home what a sweet kid Chris is. He’s in a bad situation, but he does his best and tries to have some fun along the way. But there’s a sense of impending dread that builds over the course of the episode, which lasts around an hour. Early on, Chris’ dad promises that the two will go out and buy a real pine Christmas tree as soon as he finishes watching the basketball game. He then proceeds to grab a bottle of whiskey to wash down his beer.

The climax of Captain Spirit isn’t especially surprising — I could feel it coming early on — but I still dreaded it the entire time I played. I found myself stalling for time. I’d check every item in Chris’ treehouse to see if they were significant, and if there was a chore to do around the house, I did it. At one point, I spent 10 minutes laying on a bed listening to Chris’ mom’s old records. This triggered some wistful reminiscing from his dad, and gave me some really great insight into the family and their situation. This also meant that when the big moment did finally hit, it hit especially hard.

The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is available for free on PS4, Xbox One, and PC

Coming Out On Top

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Coming Out On Top is a lighthearted visual novel about exploring queer sexuality as a young adult. It’s also a game where you can bang a goldfish.

Originally released via direct PC download in 2014, Coming Out On Top is a visual novel that leans heavily on letting you mess around with folks and build relationships. While you’re dating and getting to know people, you’ve got to be careful about who you’re investing in, and what you ultimately want from these (often) temporary flings. As in Persona, who you choose to spend time with and how you choose to spend it forms the bulk of the game. Not as in Persona, you can get with a goldfish.

You’ll only experience the scene if you follow just the right pathway, but if you do, the pet goldfish you’ve had since you’ve come to college enlarges to giant size, and you spend a romantic, albeit very tongue-in-cheek, evening together. “Glub glub,” he whispers.

While there’s a lot of in-jokes among Coming Out players—particularly about the goldfish—underneath the goofiness is an earnest desire for an experience that’s fun, heartfelt, and earnest.

“I was a big comedy geek, and prior to COOT I had been playing around with writing comedy screenplays,” said the game’s developer Obscura. “So I guess I come from the perspective of someone who loves comedy films.”

At the same time, Obscura said, so many games of this type often include non-consensual scenes, or be really intense and packed with tension and drama. Instead, this game was about tapping into the frenetic, zany energy of being a college student, coming out, and experimenting.

“College, for a lot of a people, is a time full of anticipation, exploration, and general weirdness. It seemed like a good setting for a guy looking to meet other guys,” Obscura said.

A Thousand Years

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This is a bit really off-topic but maybe it can serve as a reminder to be nice to people online. Especially kids. Life is tough enough as it is for many of us, right? A few warm words can mean a lot.

Cobra Club: A Dick Pic Game

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dickpicsIf you’re into weird video games about sex that carry some form of social critique within, you might have heard of indie developer Robert Yang. Creator of games as Succulent (where you suck a phallic object while travelling through dimensions) and Stick Shift (about jerking off a gay car), Yang is the master of making games that while odd & sexual, carry an interesting and intellectual message.

Over the weekend, Yang released his newest free game, Cobra Club. So, what do you do in Cobra Club? You take a whole bunch of interactive dick pics, send them to people on a fake social media program and get sent other dicks to look at.

Set your dick length, level of erection, girth, ball size, ball bias, pose, lighting, filters, rotation, skin tone and zoom. Get that perfect dick pic and send it to every hot guy who wants it. Add some sparkle, turn off the safety limiters, see dicks as they were always meant to be seen.

While it may on the surface appear to be just a silly experience, Cobra Club has a real level of depth and social commentary hidden within it. You’ll have to dive quite far down the dick photography rabbit hole to find it, but the game makes some really interesting points about body image and online data security.

The photo above is there just for illustration and has nothing to do with the game ;) If you want to see actual screenshots check out this in-depth review here.

Gaming in Color

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“Diversity in games is a huge problem that the industry knows about, and is going to have to do something about,” says game developer Naomi Clark in the trailer for Gaming in Color, a documentary film about queer and genderqueer players and creators in the world of video games.

Created by Midboss, the company behind the GaymerX convention, the film deals with the harassment faced by LGBT gamers, the importance of representing them within games themselves, and the shifts already taking place within gaming and game development communities. “There are a lot of gamer and game designers who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or genderqueer who are really seeking to reinvent games,” says Clark.

The film is now available through on a plethora of sources: iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Playstation, Xbox and more.

via Boing Boing

Magic: The (Queer) Gathering

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Wizards of the Coast has revealed Magic: The Gathering’s first ever trans character. The new character, named Alesha, Who Smiles at Death, is part of Magic: The Gathering’s latest expansion, Fate Reforged. While her card doesn’t mention her gender, a story published on Wizards of the Coast’s website reveals the details of her origin, weaving her background into the tale of combat.

magic-aleshaAlesha’s clan tradition allows its members to pick their own name after earning glory in battle, with members usually picking names that reflect battle feats. “She had been so different—only sixteen, a boy in everyone’s eyes but her own, about to choose and declare her name before the khan and all the Mardu.”

When it comes time for Alesha to choose her name after killing her first dragon, she goes in a different direction and takes the opportunity to come out to her battle comrades. “And the whole gathered horde shouted ‘Alesha!’ in reply. The warriors of the Mardu shouted her name. In that moment, if anyone had told her that in three years’ time she would be khan, she just might have dared to believe it.”

Alesha does eventually go on to become kahn, leading the horde of humans, goblins, and orcs into battle.