Web Crush Wednesdays: Bingo Love

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Tee Franklin when we both attended a Gail Simone comics signing. I had no idea who she was at the time, but when Gail greeted her with an excited exclamation, I figured they might know each other through the comics business. (As it turns out, they did both work on the Love is Love anthology, which raised money to support victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting.) After learning who she was, I also found out that Tee was definitely doing some important work for comics: she is the author of the delightful-sounding graphic novella Bingo Love.

I took home a postcard advertising the story and looked it up right away when I got home — and immediately decided this was something I needed to get my hands on. To let Tee describe it:

Bingo Love is an 80 page graphic novella that revolves around Hazel Johnson and Mari McCray, two thirteen year old Black girls who, in no time, become the best of friends. As their relationship grows, they discover their deep love for one another, but the timing couldn’t be worse. Two girls in love are bound to be star-crossed in 1963, and their families forbid them from seeing each other again.

Not only do the young women have to endure the pain of separation, but they’re also both married off to men they don’t love. They seem destined to live apart, permanently cut off from one another, but fate — and bingo — have another plan for them. Nearly fifty years later, Hazel and Mari once again see each other across a bingo hall, and all their feelings come flooding back.(x)

So you can see why I might be hooked.

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Web Crush Wednesdays: Two Scoops

A pervasive problem within the dating sim genre is representation. If you’re looking for a dating sim that stars attractive, thin, white or East Asian people, you’re pretty much set, but if you’re looking for anything else, you may have to look a bit harder. Recently, with games like Hustle Cat and Women of Xal, it seems like the indie dating sim scene is stepping up its game with adding more and more representation to the genre. Today’s web crush is a project that finally gives the limelight to one group of people who have been denied romantic representation in these games for too long: fat girls.

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Web Crush Wednesdays: Dates!

I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I am a firm believer in the idea that there need to be more happy stories about queer people. Thankfully, certain creators seemed to agree, and back in 2015, I was able to buy Dates Volume 1, an anthology of queer historical fiction. While it was created through Kickstarter, I didn’t back it at the time… because I didn’t know it existed until my at-the-time comics shop held a release day party. However, I’ve got a second chance to help out this awesome team, and that’s why my web crush this week is Dates Volume 2, and their currently active Kickstarter.

Margins Publishing, the creative team behind the comic, describes their mission for the Dates series thusly:

Every queer person knows how hard it is to find ourselves in fiction, and how much harder it is to find fiction where our stories don’t end tragically. And of course, it’s particularly difficult to find happy queer characters in historical fiction. We wanted to work towards evening the score, and the result was Dates 1: a 176 page celebration of queer identities of all kinds, across the world and throughout history. We were thrilled by the reception to Dates 1, and we knew people still had more stories to tell, so we decided to do it all again. And just like last year, there are no tragic endings. [emphasis theirs]

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Web Crush Wednesdays: Ikenfell

I really enjoy the Kickstarter platform, and I have a lot of faith in crowdfunding as a concept. Despite there being disappointing results from time to time, I don’t think that is a fault of the service. I’ve backed a few projects that have gone well, and I’ve seen even more projects succeed and please customers. Alternative funding methods help more interesting stories and concepts come to life. One such concept is this week’s Web Crush: Ikenfell, a role-playing game about witches, wizards, their school, and their adventures.

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Catching Up with Big Bang Press: Savage Creatures and Juniper Lane

big bang pressA couple years ago, I wrote about Big Bang Press, an indie publishing press operated by members of fandom that was dedicated to publishing original stories by other fanfic authors. The Kickstarter was successfully backed, and its first book, A Hero at the End of the World, had a couple problems but was extremely entertaining all the same. Now Big Bang Press is back with the last two books of its inaugural three. I got early copies of Savage Creatures and Juniper Lane as a Kickstarter backer and found them to be just as diverse as A Hero at the End of the World—and they do a better job with incorporating female characters, as well. However, they aren’t entirely slam-dunks.

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Web Crush Wednesdays: Kiro’o Games

My Tumblr dash seems to be trying to keep me honest with promising looking indie games and developers to feature here. For the past week, it’s been flooded with a singular post, and after looking at the game’s Kickstarter page, I can see why. Kiro’o Games’s Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan seems to be a jewel in the same respects as Indivisible: an aesthetically beautiful piece of work perfectly complimenting its unique setting and gameplay.

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Web Crush Wednesdays: Yangyang Mobile and The Letter

I’m always on the lookout for interesting new indie devs, and am always pleased when I manage to come across one. Or, rather, when they make themselves known to me. Today’s web crush contacted LGG&F to look over their newest game and it seems that they’re seeking to take over the mobile world with their engaging stories and vast knowledge of genres. If their upcoming game, The Letter, is any indication, I think I can expect great things from them in the future.

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Trailer Tuesdays: Hustle Cat

It’s not any secret that I adore visual novels, especially dating sims. Yet, at times I do find myself disappointed at the self-imposed narrative limitations that creators tend to put on the genre; namely that they’re typically very straight and tend to rely on clichés and harmful tropes. Fortunately, I’ve come across a new dating sim that seems to blast past aspects that other authors may fear to tiptoe over, in addition to bringing their audience the plot and agency we’ve come to love in this genre.

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Kickstarters, Gaming, and Diversity: Have We Really Come a Long Way?

Heading into the E3 season, I believe there’s one thing, one motto that the gaming community has made abundantly clear this year: nostalgia sells. This isn’t anything new, of course: retro chic is a style that never goes out of fashion, and in the world of video games, nothing seems to get people’s boners raging more than good pixel art and overworld maps reminiscent of Super Mario World. Despite the truth in this statement, large name developers are continuing to push the graphical limits of these current gen systems, doing bigger and more modern things with these shiny new graphical capabilities. As they should, honestly. Retro-styled games and more modern looking games don’t have to stand directly opposed to each other, but with current developments, it does feel like that’s the precedent being set, as none of these recently popular retro games seem to have been created with the blessings of the larger distributors. In fact, in some cases these retro games have circumvented the need for these distributors entirely. How is this possible? Well… Kickstarter.

Kickstarter is full of terrible start-ups, but when placed against mainstream devs, the gaming platform as a whole benefits from this—if a Kickstarter idea is terrible, it probably won’t be funded; if a proposal for an AAA title sounds completely underwhelming, the game is still more than likely going to be released. And while big name game devs are more than capable of putting out beautiful, fun games, Kickstarter is proving to be the place to go when an indie team has an idea, and gaining a reputation for creating beautiful things, such as Shovel Knight.

Foe once, everything isn't terrible.

For once, everything isn’t terrible.

This year—and partly last year too—has seen the emergence of a somewhat new trend: Kickstarter isn’t just a place for indie developers anymore, it’s also a place for larger names that you may have grown up with. With some dumbass business decisions (looking at you, Konami)  and falling-outs, many developers have taken to Kickstarter to put out the games they weren’t able to put out underneath their old employers, those big name companies. In most cases, this means heading back into what they were known best for, perhaps inadvertently hitting that nostalgia button. This is all well and good, but looking at two Kickstarters that fall under this trend, I’m noticing something worrying: these developers aren’t necessarily taking full advantage of the opportunity given to them. What I’m saying is that if your project isn’t constrained by what some higher up is telling you, then nothing is stopping you from making your games more diverse. Except yourself.

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Diversity Blooming In Future Game Title

There hasn’t been much to look forward to in terms of short-term releases in the hideously underwhelming selection of launch titles for the Xbox One and PS4. However, the future just keeps getting brighter and brighter, and not just for graphics and processor capabilities. This new video gaming era seems to also be a new era of inclusiveness within the medium itself.

Bloom Concept ArtBack in December, developers at Studio Fawn met the goal for their Kickstarter to fund their game Bloom: Memories, a fantasy adventure RPG taking its cues from games like Fable and The Legend of Zelda. Additionally, the game managed to get Greenlit on Steam as well, already ensuring the game’s exposure to a wide PC gaming audience. But what drew people to this game so readily and excitedly?

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