I’ll be candid with you, reader: it’s been a tough few weeks for me. Like many others, between winter blues, the political climate, and the often negative nature of nerd critique, I’ve been in a bit of a slump. In times like this, I like to look at some of my favorite media that resonates with me on an emotional level.
I appreciate sincerity and vulnerability in media. In my opinion, that has been a common through-line in a lot of viral fandoms in the past few years. There is definitely room for being a badass, and admittedly, that’s an enjoyable trait to watch play out in a story. However, I think many of us are craving a sense of vulnerability in our characters, not just physically, but also emotionally. We want to be be able to empathize and connect with the characters by knowing how they feel, what their aspirations are, and what they’re thinking. Of course in superhero media, the protagonists are relatively invincible, but are they people under all that? In the past couple years, I’ve seen some really great uses of emotional vulnerability, and I think they illustrate the benefit of creating these character traits.
The sequence that probably sold tons of fans on the franchise.
Minor spoilers for Steven Universe and major spoilers for Undertale after the jump!
Here at LGG&F we like our romance with a side of geek, and this year we are bringing you a ship list to make any fangirl swoon! Yep, it’s Valentine’s Day, that sickeningly sweet holiday when our authors nominate and then vote on ships for our Top 20 Romantic Couples in Geekdom (10 Canon/10 Fanon) list. Many were nominated, but only a select few made the cut.
Light spoilers for Undertale. Continue at your own risk.
I don’t think I’m alone in saying that Undertale was the unexpected hit of the year as far as video games are concerned. The Earthbound-esque indie game born from the mind of Toby “Radiation” Fox (Homestucks should recognize the name, as his hands are all over the various soundtracks for the webcomic) follows the story of a young child, Frisk, who has fallen unto the Underworld, a land beneath the human world that monsters call home. It’s up to Frisk to find a way back to the human world. However, to do so, they’re told they must break through a barrier separating the two worlds from each other, and to do that they need to combine the power of a human soul and a monster soul. One of the more interesting things about Undertale is how it attempts to break down the clichés of traditional RPGs. In doing this, the game is more of a morality tale on what you’re willing to do to reach your goal—are you going to kill the monsters to get stronger? Or will you find a more peaceful way to traverse the Underground—as well as an examination on a player’s own drive to be cruel for their own entertainment. Though, as with most pieces of media, the aspect that keeps people playing the game and in the fandom is the characters.
Undertale offers its players a complete cast of interesting and quirky characters that also manage to scratch some diversity itches. The robot Mettaton is coded heavily as trans, delighting in his life now that he has a new body that he feels comfortable in and that expresses the real him. Frisk, the player character, is purposefully addressed using the pronouns “them” and “they”, giving players a young non-binary lead (and perhaps even a non-verbal lead, if fan theories prove to be true). The topic of depression is viewed through the eyes of the ghost Napstablook and the royal scientist Alphys. And ladies are given just as important roles as the men are; both are cast as knights, protectors, caretakers, and powerful, intelligent creatures; both have secondary and supporting roles. Each character is memorable and likable, yet, as usual, fandom love is not doled out as equally.
Even though I’m not an avid gamer, my brother always keeps me up-to-date with any indie games he finds interesting. The newest game he’s told me about is called Undertale. Unfortunately it’s still in development at the moment, but you can play the demo to get an idea of what the game will be like. There are numerous reasons I’m excited for this game, one of them being the lack of detail to the main protagonist. There’s a unique gameplay that allows you to fight or befriend characters, and the style of the game is very reminiscent of other games like Earthbound. Everything about this game is precious; I’ve even re-watched the trailer video to death at this point:
Spoilers ahead! Seriously though, check out the demo, it’s free!