Romancing the Game: My Digital Loves

I didn’t even know romance was a thing in games until Alistair Theirin gave my Warden a rose. I had suspected he was sweet on her up until then, but that one gesture was above and beyond what I had experienced before – which was a big fat nothing because I didn’t know romance was a thing in games. I’d either missed a cue (I suck at flirting) or was too busy lining up a headshot to notice the availability of the character standing next to mine… or understand their intent.

Dragon Age: Origins changed a lot about the way I play games. I expect better combat mechanics than I did before, and seriously mourn the loss of the macros you could write for party members in that game. I tend to look for a deeper story now, and a world that feels bigger than it is. And I’m open to the possibility of romance inside a game, as long as it doesn’t distract me from the main quest, because when it’s well done, having someone to fight for works just as well in a game as it does in fiction.

To celebrate Valentine’s, I thought I’d share a few of my favourite game romances.

Continue reading “Romancing the Game: My Digital Loves”

Double Trouble

For some reason that will forever remain unexplained, we decided to celebrate Valentine’s Day by adopting another cat. Okay, maybe pressing myself to the glass in the pet store had something to do with it. I adore black cats! And Shadow had such a regal manner about her. She was beautiful.

So we made enquiries…and brought home not one, but two new cats, both of them black.

Now we have four roaming the house. Four. And I’m still wondering why. But, confusion aside, I’m enjoying our new guests. Sisi and Shadow had bonded at the store and separating them would have been upsetting for all involved. Shadow is the more shy of the pair and I really believe Sisi helped her adapt to her new home. She already had one friend. They’re very sweet cats and after only a handful of days, they’ve made friends with our other two, Jack and Java.

Sisi and Shadow are one and a half and two, and Jack and Java are ten and thirteen, so we have a bit of an age gap to bridge. I thought Jack and Java were playful, for their age, but after exhausting myself dragging the feather stick around for Sisi and Shadow, I’ve come to appreciate how settled the older two have actually become. Jack and Java take regular naps. I can set my clock by them. And they most often sleep all night—Jack most notably at my side where he employs his anti-gravity generator in order to become the heaviest object in the universe.

They do play, fitfully, but often abandon the action once they figure out the source. Once they see you moving the laser pointer, they lose interest in the little red dot. They love their catnip toys. When the house is empty (but for me and the cats), I often hear one of them sucking it. Yeah, I know, that’s pretty gross, but those of us who live with cats know that’s about the least of it. Between the litter boxes and fur balls, cats are not the tidy creatures they’re made out to be.

Sisi and Shadow want to play ALL the time. They want to play at 5:30 am when I’m trying not to trip over four cats, they want to play at 8:00 pm when I’ve already decided that horizontal is the best position I’ve assumed all day, and they want to play somewhere between 1:00 am and 3:00 am when I’m stumbling toward the kitchen for another antihistamine. (After a week or so, I’ll get used to the new fur.) Luckily, I have a twelve year old daughter who is happy to entertain them. Might sound kind of sappy, but listening to her giggle while she waves the feather stick around makes me smile. I like to know all my children are happy.

Four cats feels like a bit of a herd, but unlike a herd, they rarely all head in the same direction at the same, unless I’m shaking the treat bag. Encouraging them to do so otherwise is absolutely futile. I’ve been living with cats for forty years, I should know this, but I spent an hour this afternoon trying to group them together for a photo. Yeah, I really did. I went through a lot of treats for the couple of blurry shots I got. Later, I did manage to get two of them in one reasonable shot and the two others separately. I’m going to share those. Then I’m going to go and take a nap. All that galloping and trilling between invitations to play is wearing me out.

Shadow and Jack are wondering where Spring is.
Java, our old lady. I think the “kittens” are wearing her out, too.
Anyone for a game of chess? Sisi will play black, of course.

Review: Mass Effect: Foundation (#7)

MEFndtn7CoverFinally, it’s the of ‘Mass Effect: Foundation‘ comic I have been waiting for. Number seven, or Jack’s issue. Jack is a companion and possible love interest for the main character, Commander Shepard, in the game Mass Effect 2. She also appears in Mass Effect 3.

Jack, formerly known as Subject Zero, is a powerful biotic with a tortured past. She was ‘acquired’ as a child by Cerberus and subjected to terrible experiments aimed at producing a human biotic with exceptional power. A biotic has an element in their bloodstream that allows them to move matter with a gesture and a thought.

In the comic, Jack breaks into a Cerberus training facility. After dealing with the administrator, she attempts to liberate the students, most of whom believe they are orphans. Given Cerberus’ tactics, they probably are. Jack shares a snippet of her past in order to motivate the students to move.

Kai Leng and Agent Rasa are dispatched by the Illusive Man to pick her up. Rasa notes the Blue Suns have been sent in as backup, which seems unusual, until she discovers exactly what she is up against with Subject Zero. In Mass Effect 2, Kai Leng proves a difficult (and annoying) foe. In this comic, Jack tosses him around like a toy and there’s a certain sense of satisfaction to be gained from seeing it.

I’m not sure how this snippet of Jack’s past ties in with the over all story arc of the series. Perhaps there will be some mention in a later issue.

On to the art. I like the cover, but the first image of Jack inside makes me cringe. She looks too baby-faced and unless you know her torso is covered in tattoos, you’d think she’s wearing a chaotically patterned jumpsuit. Granted, her tattoos are hard to draw and quite often throughout the comic, artist Garry Brown suggests rather than paints. That seems indicative of his style, in fact. A lot of the panels lack details such as faces and attitude engraved with thicker lines. I don’t mind the style; it suits the busier panels and with the features of so many characters being less distinct, there is less fault to find.

Over all, this is one of the least satisfying issues in the series, thus far. I learned nothing new about my favourite companion, Jack, and the adventure did not advance the greater story arc. Still, I will doggedly continue with issue number eight in the hopes my persistence will pay off.

Written for SFCrowsnest.

Story: Sunshine

Two hundred years after the Reaper War, John Shepard remembers only that he was once a man and that he made a choice. As a ghost, he roams the galaxy, attention called by disparate events, until a ripple of ‘something’ calls him to the Kepler Verge.

Kat and Finch are mercenary engineers charged with making repairs on a derelict frigate. The ship is supposed to be un-powered except for the sync mechanism in the repaired circuitry. Something goes wrong and the ship blows apart.

Shepard has to decide whether to save the two people trapped in the wreckage. It’s not a simple choice and the repercussions of his actions will have consequences no one is prepared for.

~~~

“Sunshine” is a Mass Effect fan fiction written for the Mass Effect Big Bang, Fall 2013.
***Warning: Includes Mass Effect 3 ending spoilers***
Mass Effect belongs to BioWare. Artwork by Whuffie. Full Acknowledgements at Ao3

WPSunshine

one

His favourite colour had always been blue. The ocean, the sky, those flecks of unexpected cobalt embedded in grey stone, cornflowers, morning glory, the eyes reflected in a mirror. The Alliance. Earth from space. The charge beneath his skin, the glow that outlined his fingers at a thought, vapour licking at his heels as he sped through space, the ball of cleansing fire loosed at his enemies.

The fine tracery of veins beneath skin painted a blue so dark it was almost black—except where it wasn’t.

When he died, the galaxy turned blue. White blue flames licked over his arms, dissolving his skin in a cleansing fire of ethereal pain. He remembered the pain. He remembered coming apart, the process of being undone as motes of self pulled free, faster and faster until he lost cohesion. His voice was the last thing to fade; a moan that grew louder, shuddered through him, trying and failing to hold him together, maintain the integrity of being. The last sound a roar, a primordial cry as he became as infinite as the stars.

He did not remember his name. A whisper caressed the nascent bubble of being he carried within. The memory of a sound like the ocean. A sigh. A single kernel of self rippled beneath his touch, knowing without knowing, that it was his.

He did not remember whose skin had been painted with lines, but he knew it had been a person. One being, as distinct from the pulse of occupied space.

But he knew he had died. That thought was known to him, as was his current reality. He knew he was no longer a he, but the pronoun gave him a sense of self. He suspected needing such a sense, requiring it, ran counter to his objective, but he had been at work for a long, long time. And time had rippled and bunched, the flow inexorable, unsteady. A piece of it awaited him right there, and he slipped into it, the space of nothingness, and he breathed.

He was infinite. He remembered everything known by a thousand thousand species. He remembered nothing.

He remembered blue.

continue reading at Ao3