Monday Memories: Ace Up My Sleeve

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Monday everyone!

Technically, this memory is only about three years old. This post is a bit more personal and it took me a little too long to write and decide to share it. However, I believe it’s an important topic and it is certainly something that has shaped who I am today. 

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I am passionate about representation in media, obviously including video games. Gender, race, and especially sexuality need to be represented so they are normalized as much in media as they are in the real world.

The success of movies like Wonder Woman, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel testify to the need of representation. The same goes for the later Pokemon and Harvest Moon games that allow female and darker skinned avatars. One of Stardew Valley’s biggest selling points was that your avatar could marry any love interest despite their gender.

It was due to a video game that I realized my sexuality.

Three years ago, a visual novel dating sim featuring the popular YouTubers from the groups Normal Boots and Hidden Block was released. Considering that the two groups were some of our favorite content creators — and the ones who inspired us to talk and share more of our love of gaming — we were excited about the game, and really enjoyed its the writing, art, and music.

One of the characters in the game is gay. He states it after the female avatar asks him to go to a festival with her. Literally, he says, “You do know that I’m gay, right?” complete with the music cutting out with a record scratch sound effect. The character is a fan favorite and was prominent in the fandom through art and stories.

It was through this fandom that I found out about asexuality, the absence of feeling sexual attraction.

I was in my mid-twenties and had never heard of this sexuality. Throughout high school, I’ve had friends and acquaintances who had come out as lesbian or bisexual, and we were always supportive of each other. I had believed I was completely straight, but as I got older, I realized I wasn’t looking at men the same way my friends were. They had… interesting stories from their college campuses about being with another and I couldn’t for the life of me see what the appeal was. I had fallen for a couple of men throughout my lifetime, ones that were easy on the eyes and made me laugh, but I had no interest in any more physical acts.

Then Asagao Academy came out, I met some fellow fans online, specifically Tumblr, and the representation of a positive LGBT+ character helped so many teenagers and young adults, people who had grown up without seeing much of anything other than the “default” straight way to be. Including me.

One day, someone I followed mentioned that she believed she was asexual. I was surprised at how relieved I was from the epiphany I had that the word asexuality fit me. It was closure that I never knew I needed.

I am a heteromantic asexual.

Asexuality is still a fairly new concept — rather, new in the sense that it is being talked more about — but it has gained rapid support within the past couple of decades. Despite this, asexuals still get flak both from the LGBT+ community — for wishing to be “special” or, especially in a heteromantic ace’s case, “basically straight” — and straights who are not allies. We’re only about one percent of the population, and it wasn’t until 2013 that asexuality was excluded as a mental illness in the DSM.

I spend my time advocating for representation in media and by being available and open to those who may need the support of a friend. I’ve connected with a handful of others online, ones who have reached out because they took a chance from seeing my LBGT+ positivity posts. I’ve spoken to fellow aces, transgender people trying to figure themselves out, and those who merely needed a stranger to listen as they navigated through their own labels. Most, if not all, of them are teens, and I hope that I can help just a little.

Because, while my memories of going through puberty consist of feeling like I was missing a puzzle piece, we should be moving forward with representation. There is no default hero, and all media — video games included — should showcase that. Strides are being taken, but it will still be a while before we’re all on equal footing. No one should have to grow up without being represented as the hero.

(Besides, think of all the years I spent unable to make asexual puns. All of those times I could have told people that I have an ace up my sleeve… because it’s me. I am the ace.)

Are there any video games that caused you have a revelation about yourself? Anything in particular that you would like to collect? Let me know in the comments below! If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Friday Favorites: Schools in Video Games

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Friday everyone!

Where we’re from, school just started for the kids yesterday. I don’t miss going to school at all, mostly because schools in video games seem to be a lot better than schools in real life!

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Themis Legal Academy in Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies

We’re absolute suckers for the Ace Attorney series and Dual Destinies was no exception. In Turnabout Academy, Phoenix Wright and his assistants are invited to Themis Legal Academy to give a lecture on law, only for teacher to turn up dead. A law school that has Phoenix Wright as a guest speaker sounds awesome to me! I could do without the murders, of course but, hey, that’s what the kids are learning about, right?

Knight Academy in Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Who doesn’t want to be a knight? Especially one in a place where you get your own special animal companion in the form of a giant bird? With Link as your classmate? I totally wouldn’t mind going to Skyward Sword’s Knight Academy, especially when you get to fly around the skies. My only wish for that game was that the sky had more areas to explore.

Asagao Academy

Asagao Academy is the setting for a visual novel/dating sim with the popular YouTube groups Normal Boots and Hidden Block. We greatly enjoyed the writing, graphics, and music of the game, and the school setting seemed to be a lot of fun. Not only was there a tournament hosted in the city for video games, most of the hints of schoolwork were also game related.

Honorable Mentions

Most of the Pokemon core games had some sort of school in one of the first cities or areas, giving a refresher on basic aspects of the game, such as status inflictions and held items. Hogwarts from the Harry Potter series is also a great school, but I have had a difficult time finding a game that truly captures that magic.

What are your favorite schools from video games?

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Currently Playing…

Double Jump Kris MiiI was woefully unprepared for this Friday’s post…

So, instead of a Friday Favorites, you’re going to get a random list of what kind of games I’m currently playing!

 

Like most gamers, Rachel and I have quite a variety of consoles at our disposal to play, from handhelds to the television consoles to the PC. After both our day jobs and our writing work, we try to relax a bit with whatever game currently has our attention.

At the moment, that mostly seems to be The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD. We finally opened our box (not the amiibo yet, but that’ll be soon so the wolf can be leveled up for Breath of the Wild) not too long ago and booted it up. It’s hard to believe that it’s been ten years since the original release date of the game, and the graphics are more gorgeous than ever. It’s awesome to ride Epona around in the vast Hyrule Field, and it’s just getting me more excited for the open-world concept of Breath of the Wild!

On my Nintendo 3DS, I’m still chucking away at Fire Emblem: Conquest. I think I’m enjoying it more than Birthright. The characters are still interesting, in my opinion, but I’m liking the Conquest classes more than the Birthright ones, and the maps have more interesting challenges. I’m about halfway through, I believe, and am looking forward to starting up Revelations next.

Rachel and I haven’t done much gaming on our PC since we got both completion bonuses in Asagao Academy. That game was amazing and fun, as I’m sure you all heard about from us, and we’re looking forward to figuring out what other kinds of games to try out. Overwatch has certainly been on my mind to try lately…

What about all of you? What kind of games are you playing? Any recommendations?

Asagao Academy Review

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Beware of the fangirlism ahead! Asagao Academy is a free visual novel dating sim that has been out since April 21. It’s totally free, but the creative team behind the game definitely deserve a donation if you are able to spare it.

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The game is by Illus Seed founded by Cara Hillstock, who happens to be the writer and director of the game, and Danielle Hargrave, who is Asagao’s creator, sprite and CG artist, and also the wife of one of the men you can date in the game. You can date the Normal Boots guys giving you seven different paths to take. Normal Boots is a group of video gamers, each one having their own YouTube channels.

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Another group of YouTubers known as Hidden Block, and who are good friends with Normal Boots, also make cameos (and there’s been plenty of clamor for some DLC or a sequel to the game to date them!). All the guys are adorkable nerds who mostly focus on video games for their YouTube content.

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But enough about the guys… The game is based off of them, yes. But there is so much more to the game such as the writing, the artwork, the voiceovers, even the way the game is played is just fantastic and really well done.

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Excuse you, what do you mean enough about the guys? Yes, this game definitely had so much preparation and work put into it. If you’ve ever tried to write a “Choose Your Own Adventure” type of story, you’ll understand how complex the writing for the story lines and the multiple choices can be. Each route is brilliantly written with its own story and focus, not only with the dude you’re trying to woo, but with also the main character’s friendships and her own development.

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Each main route is subtly added into the other routes. You won’t get a full understanding as to why some of the characters act the way they do in certain situations until you’ve played their route. The writing really is brilliant, as is the artwork. I can’t get enough of how beautiful the backgrounds are. The sprites themselves are true to the real life people and their expressions are wonderful.

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Yes, we found ourselves smiling like idiots with the sprites’ expressions. I just can’t sing enough praises about the writing and the artwork. There weren’t as many choices as I thought we would be able to make, but the ones that we do make definitely have a strategy to them in order for the player to get the best ending.

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There are four endings total for each route: Best, good, bad, and worst. If you get the best ending, you’ll unlock an extra scene. In order to get the best ending, you need to have a good balance between the guy you’re after to like you as well as whether you’ll win the game tournament or not.

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There are a few guys who have an extra ending (and effectively driving us crazier). After unlocking all the endings of the seven routes and the two hidden routes, there is a completion bonus that we’re definitely looking forward to. Seriously, Asagao Academy is a fun visual novel, and the YouTubers that were gracious enough to allow their likenesses to be used are fantastic entertainers on the video game scene. If you’re looking for a casual, new game that may give you some feels, go and check out this game!

Have you played Asagao Academy or another dating sim game? How did you like it?

Asagao Academy

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BRB, Kris and Rachel are busy giggling uncontrollably while trying to woo their fictional YouTube boyfriends in Asagao Academy!

(Seriously, even if you don’t watch the YouTubers that the characters are based upon, the game is a wonderful dating sim — the dialogue, the characters, the artwork, it’s all extremely well done! We encourage anyone who is interested in these types of games to give it a try. The ladies who created it did a marvelous job!)