Once upon a time I was one of the many people trying to catch up with Critical Role. During this fantastical, entertaining slog (and it was a slog at times) fellow fan Noodle suggested to me that I take a different route with my catch up plans: instead of watching each 3+ hour episode, I read the summaries of the episodes instead. “What a perfectly logical solution!” I thought. While my stubbornness eventually saw me through the 20-some episodes I was behind on, I ended up enjoying the site Noodle linked me to, Project Derailed, for its other nerdy content and reviews.
Outside of Project Derailed’s Critical Role re-cap, the series that instantly intrigued me was Crit or Miss. I’ve watched a lot—a lot—of tabletop gaming shows, each with their own charming cast and interesting characters. However, I’d never before seen a show reviewing different tabletop RPGs. These “different games” may not always be as indie or niche as something like Everything Is Dolphins, but a show like this is invaluable, especially during a time where it feels like tabletop RPGs are reaching a new boom among younger and older players alike. I know for me that jumping into something as well established and deeply tied to nerd culture as Dungeons and Dragons or Pathfinder was exciting, but also extremely terrifying—which is why my first DMing experience wasn’t in either of them. It’s a relief when you first realize just how expansive and diverse the tabletop game library is! Where Crit or Miss especially helps is in explaining what works in each of these lesser known games and what doesn’t, ultimately earning a “crit” rating (play it) or a “miss” (pass). While I don’t agree with host Tanner Bivens’s opinion on some things, especially about GURPS, I really appreciate him bringing to my attention games like Under My Skin and Broomstix (which I have a feeling a couple people on this very blog may get a kick out of).
Another part of Project Derailed’s repertoire that instantly drew me in was “Game Like A Girl”. Authored by Fiona Kelly, this series of articles explores both Kelly’s journey into gaming and her opinion on various issues in the gaming sphere like some of the issues concerning female representation in Overwatch and an interesting opinion on power and the Garrus and Shepard friendship/romance in Mass Effect 3. Kelly has no qualms about telling her readers that she’s a “girly girl” who also adores games. While this subset of lady gamers is becoming more apparent, I think Kelly’s voice is an important continued reminder that no lady gamer needs to fit that “just like the boys” mold that’s so lauded by annoying, gatekeeping gamer boys. Something Kelly brought up in the second part of her introductory post really struck a chord with me. She mentions that no one woman should be “the voice” for women gamers. Mulling it over in my mind, it seems like an obvious fact—women are so diverse that having someone be the voice would only serve to limit the experiences and discussions of the group as a whole. However, I feel like I and other women who write in about gaming (or just about anything) often put so much pressure on ourselves that it begins to feel like we are this quintessential voice about whatever our perceived expertise is. Reading that we aren’t, and that we don’t have to be, may sound obvious, but it’s nice to be reminded of that every once in awhile.
Whether you’re there for cute comic catch-ups of Critical Role or opinions on all things nerdy, make sure to check out Project Derailed here!