7 Female Roles that were Written for Men Apr28

7 Female Roles that were Written for Men...

Men might be the harbingers of action and combat in many sci-fi movies, action shows, and video games, but some writers are stepping up to challenge these notions. Taking over a role that was originally intended for a man is one way to break the mold, and make us wonder why we need molds in the first place, since so many are lying about in pieces at these women’s feet. Here are seven roles originally written for men, but portrayed by women instead. 1. Samus Aran, Metroid The plot twist at the end of the first Metroid game reveals that the person in the armour (who you’ve been kicking ass with so far) is, in fact, a woman. But a lesser known fact is that the game developers hadn’t planned this surprise from the start and decided to add it in halfway through development, creating one of the most iconic women characters in video games today. “It is true that in developing the original Metroid, we were partway through the development processes when one of the staff members said, “Hey, wouldn’t that be kind of cool if it turned out that this person inside the suit was a woman?” So that’s how we decided on that. We’ve tried to express her femininity a little more without trying to turn her into a sex object.” —Yoshio Sakamoto 2. Toph Beifong, Avatar, the Last Airbender Known as the tiny blind girl who can throw boulders around with her earthbending prowess, this Avatar: The Last Airbender star was originally intended to be a large, muscled jerk. They even elude to this in the episode “The Ember Island Players,” where Team Avatar attend a play about their journey so far, and Toph is portrayed as a buff man. She was...

A Biased Father and His Not-So-Cursed Child Dec21

A Biased Father and His Not-So-Cursed Child...

In the first seven Harry Potter books, sometimes I forget I’m in Harry’s head and can only see things through his perspective. Reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a play written by J. K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne, causes me to question just how much bias colours Harry’s outlook. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child takes place 19 years after the Battle of Hogwarts. Harry and his friends are grown up with children, and his son, Albus, is one of the main characters. Unlike its predecessors, the play spans several years, highlighting the life of a Potter who is placed in Slytherin instead of Gryffindor. To Harry’s dismay, Albus becomes best friends with Draco Malfoy’s son, Scorpius, who—despite the fact that he’s a sweetheart—many despise simply because of his heritage. As it is not told through the lens of a single character, the play provides a more objective look into the wizarding world than the seven novels detailing Harry’s childhood. It addresses some of the bias I didn’t even realize was happening in the original series. Harry vs. Slytherin Harry’s prejudice against Slytherin started to bother me when I re-read the Harry Potter books as an adult; I realized that there couldn’t possibly be a house that only churned out evil witches and wizards. The world isn’t black and white; it’s a whole lot of grey that can be tricky to navigate. In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Hagrid says, “There’s not a single witch or wizard who went bad that wasn’t in Slytherin.” This has to be an exaggeration, and one that Harry takes to heart. As Hagrid is his first guide to the wizarding world, Harry has no reason to doubt the statement. He learns later on that Hagrid isn’t...

Call for Writers Dec19

Call for Writers

Do you want to write for Area of Effect magazine? We’re looking for a couple new writers who are excited about combining their faith, morality, philosophy, social justice, and more with their geeky interests. As geeks we tend to (over) analyze these shows that we love and our goal for Area of Effect is to take those same conversations we have all had, dig a little deeper, and publish it. What we are looking for in prospective writers: a willingness to put beliefs, ideas, and biases on the table for discussion (i.e. vulnerability is a must) professional writing experience—your work has been previously published at least three times in print or online an understanding of Area of Effect‘s writing style and content a commitment to a Christian faith (we do not require any specific denomination but look for an affirmation of the basics: a forgiveness of sins through the death of Christ, centrality of the word of God, and the Triune nature of God) a commitment to write at least one  700-1000 word article every other month (1001 words is too many and 1005 is RIGHT OUT) specialization in a geeky subjects we haven’t covered much is an asset creativity and sense of humour ability to write thoughtful, intelligent articles preference given to those who can hum any version of The Legend of Zelda theme song What staff writers get: to become a part of a community of passionate, geeky folks who love writing about their fandoms opportunities to grow with writers and professional editors 25 CAD for first article and 50 CAD for every subsequent article to give their editor cookies as bribery… er… we mean as thanks… How to apply If you are interested in writing for Area of Effect, email allison@geekdomhouse.com with the subject line “AoE Writer App.” Include...

Iron Suit, Human Man: Abandoning Tony Stark Nov28

Iron Suit, Human Man: Abandoning Tony Stark...

As much as I like Pepper Potts for her stubbornness and her willingness to stand up for herself, I was shocked at her treatment of Tony Stark in Iron Man 3. She wakes him up because he is literally shaking from a nightmare, and then—understandably, I’ll admit—almost has a heart attack when one of his armored suits appears at the foot of their bed. But after that she storms off, saying she’ll “sleep downstairs.” I can’t help but put myself in Tony’s shoes, trying hard to protect the one I love most and that same person pushes me away. Having the one person I needed to be there leave me in disgust, not understanding what I’m going through, not eventrying to understand. Perhaps I shouldn’t be so hard on Pepper, though, for I know something that she does not. Tony is going through post-traumatic stress. It’s not something we often think our favorite superheroes are experiencing, but Stark’s PTSD actually paves the way for many of the plot points in the later movies. He becomes obsessed with protecting the world, which results in Ultron’s creation in Avengers: Age of Ultron. By Captain America: Civil War, he is even more anxious and sleep-deprived. Many fans were also heartbroken to find out that Pepper had left him at this point. . . . This post was originally published on Christ and Pop Culture. Read the full article...

Removing the Mask of Loneliness with Majora’s Mask...

The beginning of Majora’s Mask stands in stark contrast to its predecessor, Ocarina of Time, and it leaves me unsettled. Instead of waking up in a village surrounded by colorfully dressed Kokiri children amongst sun-kissed trees, Link is riding his horse through a dark forest. “At least he’s got Epona,” I think as the scene plays out. The background music is hesitant, quiet, then turns dark as the Skull Kid laughs creepily, curses Link into Deku form, and steals Epona. Never mind. Link is now truly alone. The script at the beginning of Majora’s Mask tells us that this boy, “after battling evil and saving Hyrule, crept away from the land that had made him a legend” to embark on a personal journey and find a lost friend, Navi. Link’s isolation becomes even more heartbreaking when you connect it to his journey in Ocarina of Time. As much as she might annoy me, Navi is the only one who knows what Link experienced in Ocarina of Time; since the timeline was reset, no one else in Hyrule remembers the Hero of Time and what he sacrificed for them. All of the friends that he made have forgotten him. It’s no wonder that he wants to find a companion who understands what he’s been through. Holding onto loneliness out of spite seems foolish, but when the alternative is recognizing that I’m the problem, it’s hard to let go. Termina, the land Link is thrown into when he chases the Skull Kid, is surreal, almost dreamlike, especially since a giant moon with an angry face is about to drop down and destroy the world. Plus, there are many characters who look suspiciously similar to the ones from Hyrule; in Hyrule Historia, Termina is described as a parallel world....

Playing God Till You Run Out of Cake Aug24

Playing God Till You Run Out of Cake...

Scientific advancement is the entire backstory of the video games Portal and Portal 2. You play as Chell, a woman awakened from her Relaxation Vault in Aperture Science’s enrichment center, forced to go through a series of tests by the direction of an artificial intelligence named GLaDOS. Portal takes humanity’s tendency toward advancement beyond all logic (and that’s what makes it hilarious). Not only is the entire lab run by a robot determined to put Chell through her paces and then destroy her, but the tests themselves don’t serve much purpose. Aperture’s founder, Cave Johnson, doesn’t seem to have any morals when it comes to science. In one of his speeches to the test subjects, Cave says flat-out that they have no idea what they’re doing and they’re “throwing science at the wall and seeing what sticks.” Aperture’s motto, “We do what we must because we can,” seems completely ridiculous in light of the Portal universe (because there’s just something ridiculous about a robot chucking heart-labeled companion cubes at you and degrading you for not solving the puzzle faster). However, I find the game an ironic insight into the human mind. . . . Read the whole article from Christ and Pop...

Artist Spotlight and Giveaway: Joe Hogan Art Aug18

Artist Spotlight and Giveaway: Joe Hogan Art...

“My favourite moment as a fan that came about because of my art was when James Arnold Taylor (the voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi on The Clone Wars) agreed to lend his amazing talents to an unofficial Clone Wars motion comic I was creating called ‘The Siren of Dathomir’.” Working with people like James is one of the reasons Joe Hogan loves being an artist. He also loves bringing his fandoms to life through his art. “Art is my way of expressing who I am, what I love, what I care about,” Joe says. “Any time I’m really excited about something that I can’t quite get out of my system, or something is bothering me, or whatever, I can just sit down and put in on paper (or a digital screen!) and now it’s in the universe and not just inside me any more. There’s something very liberating about that.” Joe has done professional work for Topps, Upper Deck, Cryptozoic, and other companies. He’s dabbled in some of the most exciting franchises, including Star Wars, the Marvel universe, Batman, The Legend of Zelda, and more. He loves being a Star Wars and geek artist because he gets to make things he would want to see as a fan. “When you’re a kid, your imagination is all over the place and I used to express it with action figures. I never quite grew out of an active imagination, so drawing those new stories in comics/motion comics/etc. replaced the toys. And okay, yes, the toys are still on my shelves. Don’t judge me! Growing up is overrated anyway.” Check out samples of his work: Pokemon! Massively Effective The Twelve Smashers Pass the Torch Blue vs. Red The Promise – Final Fantasy VII Undertale Link Nouveau In addition to...

Being Earth, Wanting Air, Needing Fire Aug03

Being Earth, Wanting Air, Needing Fire...

I love thinking about what sort of character I would be in another universe. I’m pretty sure most geeks do, and we love talking about it—whether it’s retelling a recent exploit as a rogue in Dungeons and Dragons, choosing a lightsaber colour, or picking our backpack in Pokémon Go, we are fans of character specialization and creation. Therefore, after watching an episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender at one of Geekdom House’s Bible study nights, I was immediately intrigued by the question, “What kind of bender would you be?” It didn’t seem like a very in-depth question for study, but I was immediately too busy customizing my personal avatar (see what I did there) to focus on that. I hadn’t thought about this one before, and my answer was unexpected. My first inclination was water, and it’s true I do have some waterbending traits, like a calm personality and a desire to keep the peace. But then my mind went to earthbending and I realized that had to be me. Like all other bending, earthbending comes with its pros and cons. Recognizing them, being more aware of my personality traits, tendencies, and habits, can help me be a better friend, worker, leader, and God-follower. I can be incredibly stubborn and I don’t like change. I can dig in my heels when I don’t want to do something (which can be good if it’s something that is bad for me, but less good if it’s something I need to do). I face problems head-on, not because that’s my natural response—I’m more inclined to Aang’s trying to find different paths around an issue—but because I make a conscious choice to do so. I don’t like my tendency to indirectness, to hinting at an issue, to passive-aggressiveness,...

Artist Spotlight and Giveaway: Wisesnail Art Jul14

Artist Spotlight and Giveaway: Wisesnail Art...

Claudia Gironi, a.k.a. Wisesnail Art, is one of our extremely talented Area of Effect magazine cover artists and web art contributors. A huge fan of atmospheric landscapes, portraits, and colour explosions, she mainly works in Photoshop, combining the versatility of the digital approach to the expressive brushstrokes of a more traditional method. “Art is how I express myself. It’s what I do when I’m upset, when I’m happy, if I need a distraction, or if I want to concentrate on something,” says Claudia. “As a person with face blindness (meaning I have problems recognizing people’s faces), I feel like I have a small measure of control when I paint portraits.” Born in Italy, Claudia currently lives in London. She is a Japanese Language and Culture graduate, Schiele enthusiast, and art lover. She decided to teach herself digital painting four years ago—since then she has never abandoned her stylus. Check out samples of her work: Altair I am Groot! The Man of Iron Sherlock The Dark Lord Thor Thranduil Oropherion Bucky As a geek herself, Claudia enjoys drawing subjects from science fiction, fantasy, and comics. She says that The Lord of the Rings is one of her favourite fandoms and she greatly admires J.R.R. Tolkien; The Silmarillion especially provides her with inspiration. “I like the fact that I have more room to play with the characters themselves, especially if they don’t appear in the movies. Also, the other fans are really super nice, and welcome all new takes on the characters they love.” Claudia sings out loud while she paints (embarrassing herself in front of the whole neighbourhood if it’s summer and the windows are open), likes dogs, enjoys baking, and is always happy to talk about art and fandoms with other people. You can find her art on her Society 6 page and...

Playing Video Games and Finding Community...

“Did you see that Darius pentakill last night?” If I was in an anime, my eyes would have popped out of my head. I was sitting at the table for Thanksgiving dinner, courtesy of my best friend Kyle and his extended family. The usual chatter was going on around us, but when the words “Darius” and “pentakill” reached our ears, we immediately turned to look at who was speaking. “Wait, what did you say?” my friend asked his 50-year-old aunt. Surely we had misheard her. She couldn’t possibly be talking about League of Legends, an online video game that both Kyle and I played regularly. “That Darius playing last night. He was amazing!” she repeated. Kyle and I looked at each other, dumbfounded, and then a grin worthy of Jake Peralta when Captain Holt does something particularly amazing on Brooklyn Nine-Nine spread across my face. She continued to explain that she was watching the e-sports 2015 League of Legends World Championships with her nephews because they were into it and she wanted to bond with them. (I believe the match she was referring to was the Flash Wolves vs. Origen quarter final, but I digress.) Go, Auntie Pam. Why are her words so shocking and delightful to me, a gamer in my late 20s? … Read the rest of this article on Christ and Pop...

Call for Writers May02

Call for Writers

Do you want to write for Area of Effect magazine? We’re looking for writers who are excited about combining their faith, morality, philosophy, social justice, and more with their geeky interests. As geeks we tend to (over) analyze these shows that we love and our goal for Area of Effect is to take those same conversations we have all had, dig a little deeper, and publish it. What we are looking for in prospective writers: a willingness to put beliefs, ideas, and biases on the table for discussion (i.e. vulnerability is a must) writing experience an understanding that this is not a devotional site, nor is it news or reviews an understanding that this isn’t a magazine by Christians for Christians, but by Christians for anyone. Meaning we don’t come at topics from a “we” perspective, but write from personal experience and attempt to encourage discussion among a variety of people a commitment to a Christian faith (yes, this is a loaded statement – we do not require any specific denomination but look for an affirmation of the basics: a forgiveness of sins through the death of Christ, centrality of the word of God, and the Triune nature of God) a commitment to write at least one  700-1000 word article every other month (1001 is too many and 1005 is RIGHT OUT) specializations in geeky subjects that we haven’t covered so far creativity and thoughtfulness a mixture of funny, playful, and serious articles preference given to those who can hum any version of The Legend of Zelda theme song What staff writers get: to become a part of a community of passionate, geeky folks who love writing about their fandoms opportunities to grow with writers and professional editors $25 for first article and $50 for every subsequent article (we believe in paying...

Not a Runner-Up Prize Apr20

Not a Runner-Up Prize...

Unrequited feelings are never any fun, no matter which side of them you’re on. Eli Wallace from Stargate: Universe knows what I mean. After solving a complex mathematical equation embedded in a video game, Eli is beamed up to a starship, sent to another planet, and eventually transported, along with a small crew, onto a ship called Destiny that is light-years away from Earth. Seems like a good time to make friends and fall in love to me. He becomes close with Chloe, a senator’s daughter (she doesn’t have much practical use aboard the ship, but I digress). They get along. They enjoy each other’s company. They find each other easy to talk to. Cue the beginnings of unrequited love music. Whatever that sounds like. Eli likes Chloe. A lot. Chloe likes Eli. Like a friend. Chloe becomes romantically involved with the good-looking, good-hearted soldier on board the Destiny, and Eli is stuck in an enclosed community he can’t get away from, with feelings for a friend who loves someone else. If someone genuinely tells me, “Let’s be friends,” it’s not a runner-up prize. There are a variety of ways Eli could respond here. He could shut Chloe out as much as possible. He could become angry and moody around her. He could be mad at her for not being clear in the first place about what she wanted. He could pelter her with questions of “why not me?” He could constantly ask himself why he isn’t good enough for her. He could be jealous of the people she spends time with instead of him. These are some of the responses I’ve received when I’ve said no. These are also the responses I’ve been tempted to give when someone rejects me. But oddly enough,...

Identifying with a Sarcastic Martian Apr04

Identifying with a Sarcastic Martian

Sarcasm is my love language. If anyone can understand what I mean by this, it’s Mark Watney, the protagonist of The Martian novel by Andy Weir. Watney, a brilliant botanist and astronaut, finds himself stranded on Mars after his crew abandons him for dead. Completely isolated, he has to survive in a hostile environment that is basically out to kill him every second of every day. New problems stack up during his indefinite stay on the planet while he waits for a rescue that may never come—how to get enough oxygen? What to eat? Where to get water? How to pass the time when you don’t have Netflix? You know, the important stuff. But perhaps the biggest problem he faces is psychological. How to stay sane? (Remember, there’s no Netflix on Mars.) Watney answers this question with one coping mechanism. Watney is stranded for several months before being able to communicate with Earth. His ten days of isolation training at NASA is a joke. Even the most introverted of people (and I would know) need a certain amount of social interaction to stay mentally sound. How does he deal with his isolation? The only way he can: with humour. “I started the day with some nothin’ tea. Nothin’ tea is easy to make. First, get some hot water, then add nothin’.” (The Martian) Many studies have shown that humour and laughter are therapeutic for relieving tension and anxiety. There is even evidence to support that a good sense of humour can contribute to muscle relaxation, control of pain, positive moods, and overall psychological health. NASA psychologist Al Holland also says it’s actually healthy for a completely isolated person to start interacting with inanimate objects (think of the volleyball named Wilson from Cast Away). Watney has a similar relationship with his camera and logbook, using them to talk out what he is going through. This is also a way for him to express his delightful sarcasm. “Problem is (follow me closely here, the science is pretty complicated) if I cut a hole in the Hab, the air won’t stay inside any more.” (The Martian) Humour, for me, has always been a way of coping with less than optimal experiences and, most importantly, it helps me battle loneliness (that, and Netflix). My close friends know to crack a joke when I am sad, because it will relieve my tension. I know that if I make a joke about my own negative feelings, it will shed some light in my darkness. Growing up in an evangelical Christian environment, I often felt like humour was frowned upon when talking about God or my beliefs (not by my parents, bless my dad’s sarcastic heart, but by “the church” in general). God was serious business; you didn’t joke about him and certainly not with him. (See “A Laughing Matter” for more on humour and the Christian Church.) I only thought to question this later in life. If I’m operating under this presumption that I am created in God’s “own image,” is it so far-fetched to extrapolate that God may have a sense of humour of his own? I mean, talking donkeys, kings literally caught with their pants down, stomachs so big they swallow up the sword they’re stabbed with and it’s not discovered until the autopsy—some of these biblical tales are rather amusing. There’s definitely irony there. Is it so unbelievable that Jesus could have cracked a joke? Wouldn’t his listeners have laughed when he talked about rulers calling themselves “benefactors,” when the working folk knew very well those in authority were just the opposite? That’s actually bordering on sarcasm. Jesus, sarcastic? No, that can’t be right. Could it be that Jesus knew about this trick that Mark Watney employed, that psychologists have confirmed? That humour is the answer to life, the universe, and everything? Okay, fine, perhaps not the answer to everything, but it sure makes my...

But Nobody Came

It was with gritted teeth and DETERMINATION that I slayed Toriel, the sweet, mother-like figure who only wanted to guide me through the ruins and keep me safe. She wasn’t difficult to destroy. It took one hit. There was no heroic fanfare upon her death, no flashing text congratulating me on my victory, no epic loot, and there shouldn’t have been. The sight of Toriel’s heart breaking in two was all the reward I got for my efforts. I wasn’t a hero. I was a murderer. Before you completely write me off as a monster, let me explain how I got there. I’d already played through Undertale’s pacifist route, going through the game without killing a single creature, talking my way out of battles and making friends with monsters. The most endearing characters in the game (i.e. all of them) became my companions in the adventure, and I grew attached to each of them; from Papyrus, the skeleton with a heart of gold who just wants to be tough enough to join the Royal Guard, to Alphys, the reptilian creature with a fondness for anime who stutters her way through conversations, to Mettaton, the robot who hosts a popular TV show in the Underground—I loved them all. “It was you who led the world to its destruction. You think you are above consequences.” And I killed them all. Because there was more story to be learned from making a genocide playthrough, and I must know ALL THE THINGS. The things that were… the things that are… and some things that have not yet come to pass. Like a serpent was offering me an apple, I was tempted. I had to know. ALL OF IT. The scenes in the game became drastically different compared to...

Biting Bullets: LoL and Toxicity

I got yelled at the other day by a stranger. Full blown, at the top of the lungs yelled at. It was a dark and icy Winnipeg evening. I was driving home from my friend’s place and there came a point where I was yielding right onto a highway. As I waited, I saw a break in traffic and I thought I had plenty of time to merge. I misjudged the speed of an oncoming truck, though, and the driver had to slow down for me. I didn’t hear any squealing brakes or see any fishtailing, he just had to slow down a bit. We were approaching a red light so it’s not like he lost any time. But he honked and honked, drove up to the right side of my vehicle, and when he didn’t see me respond to his horn, backed up and drove around my other side, rolled down his window and let it loose. I looked over at his angry, yelling face, and I did not want to roll down my own window to fully hear whatever swears and insults he was shouting at me. “I think my anger towards you stems from your happiness with your own being.” I wanted to apologize. He was right, I had made a mistake. I had misjudged his speed. The roads were icy and maybe he had pumped his brakes or skidded a little, and that can be dangerous. But I was pretty sure if I rolled down my window in an attempt to apologize, I wouldn’t be able to get a word in before the light turned green. I would have had to shout to be heard, and “I’M SORRY!!” doesn’t sound very contrite when you’re yelling over the person you’re trying to apologize to. So I uncomfortably stared straight ahead, counting the long seconds until the light turned and I was able to drive off in relief. As I drove home, I realized the situation uncannily reminded me of League of Legends. My experiences in League are where my natural response (or lack of) came from. “Don’t feed the trolls,” the internet will tell you, and this is a habit I’ve picked up. I ignore the players who are angry at me. I call them jerks in my head for not understanding that I hadn’t meant to feed bot lane (i.e. die several times to the other team). It hadn’t been my intention to apparently ruin my jungler’s entire life by doing so. Sometimes the other player is just better, you know? It’s not always because I suck (and never because the Jinx yelling at me does, obviously. She’s Gold 2 and she never makes mistakes. She told me so herself). Ignoring the angry players doesn’t make it better, but at least it doesn’t make it worse. I can’t help turn that event with the angry driver over in my mind, though, wondering if I should have bitten the bullet, rolled down my window and attempted an apology. Maybe he had a bad day. Maybe he was just taking out other frustrations on me. Maybe if I burst out crying in front of him because he was yelling at me, he would have let me get out an “I-I-I’m sorry”? In a recent League of Legends match I played, I was jungling (running around the map killing creatures to level up while my teammates fight the enemy players) and made the mistake of starting to kill the dragon (a creature that gives the whole team gold and advantages when you kill it) at a poorly planned time. I thought only one enemy champion was nearby, but the entire opposing team was lying in wait. We were outnumbered. We died. We lost the dragon to the other team. Our Brand (Leaguers generally refer to teammates by their character names rather than their gamertags because who can keep track of those) was… well… “upset” was putting it mildly....

Lessons of the Emotionless Jan13

Lessons of the Emotionless...

In “Chuck Versus the Three Words,” when Sarah is trying to train Chuck to be a spy, she tells him, “You need to learn to ignore your emotions. Spies do not have feelings. Feelings get you killed. You need to learn to bury them in a place deep inside.” I know exactly how Sarah feels. Well, maybe not exactly since I’ve never been a spy (or if I have, I certainly wouldn’t admit it here. Shhh.). But I understand. I experienced both ends of the emotional spectrum growing up via members of my family. I had a couple extremely unemotional family members, who kept their feelings buried deep inside, and a couple extremely emotional ones, who let out their pent-up feelings in outbursts of anger and shouting matches. As a quiet introvert myself, I decided the latter didn’t look healthy or fun, and I would join the ranks of the stoic flag holders in my family. I came to believe that letting people know how I felt was a weakness; it made me feel vulnerable and I didn’t like that feeling. Crying in front of someone was an absolute no-no. If you loved someone, you didn’t tell them that; and you especially didn’t tell a guy you had feelings for him. That was just giving them the opportunity to hurt you…   Read the whole article from Christ and Pop...

Earthbending stereotypes Jan04

Earthbending stereotypes...

“My daughter is blind! She is blind and tiny and helpless and fragile. She cannot help you!” Toph Beifong’s father describes the convention of portraying disabilities in television. Typically, mainstream television shows depicts characters with disabilities through one-off episodes. These characters are admired for their courage, but pitied for the disadvantages they face on a daily basis. The stories almost always focus on the character’s disability and how this teaches the main character something about life, and rarely on the disabled person’s abilities, personality, or accomplishments. Few shows, if any, challenge that stereotype better than Avatar: The Last Airbender. When Aang and his friends are searching for an earthbender powerful enough to teach the Avatar everything he will need to know, they attend Earth Rumble VI, an earthbending tournament held underground in a giant arena. They watch huge men pummeling each other with rocks until the final round, where the reigning champion known as the Blind Bandit shows up. “I am the greatest earthbender in the world! Don’t you two dunderheads ever forget it.” The Blind Bandit turns out to be a tiny girl who is literally blind. She uses her abilities to sense vibrations through the earth in order to tell where her enemies are. And of course, she beats the hulking champ, “The Boulder” to a pulp in the final round. After she disappears when the tournament concludes, Aang uses clues from a vision to find her, and discovers she is the only child of a wealthy couple who treat her with kid gloves; they allow her to learn earthbending, but only at beginner levels, hire servants to blow on her soup when it’s too hot, and make sure her walks (within the confines of their property, of course) are supervised. When her help...

The Best of Area of Effect 2015 Dec30

The Best of Area of Effect 2015

If you want to bring in the new year with some Area of Effect reading, check out our best of the best from 2015. These are the top three Editor’s Picks from every category for the year, spanning topics from Iron Man’s sarcasm to cancer and LARPS. Read the stories you’ve missed and refresh yourselves on the articles you’ve loved as we move on to a new year! ANIME 1. “Slaying Zuko”by Christopher Johnson AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER 2. “Meek, Weak, or Chic” by Casey Covel DEATH NOTE , TRIGUN 3. “Not Just Another Number” by Mark Barron SPIRITED AWAY COMICS 1. “Irony Man” by Jason Dueck IRON MAN 2. “Oh, the Superhumanity” by Jennifer Schlameuss-Perry BATMAN 3. “Swinging a Mile in Spiderman’s Tights” by Jason Dueck SPIDERMAN FANTASY 1. “Letters from Father Christmas” by Kyla Neufeld TOLKIEN 2. “Fairy Land Meets Real Life” by Christopher Johnson PHANTASTES 3. “A Mennonite Reads The Lord of the Rings” by Robert Martin SCI-FI 1. “Faith Like Obi-Wan’s” by Jason Dueck STAR WARS 2. “Retreating into Mercy” by Michael Boyce DOCTOR WHO 3. “Let’s Be Bad Guys” by Kyle Rudge FIREFLY TABLETOP 1. “Confessions of a DM” by Sheela Cox DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS 2. “Don’t Bounce Burgundy” by Michael Penner DIPLOMACY 3. “Monopolizing My Integrity” by Dustin Asham MONOPOLY VIDEO GAMES 1. “Sorry, Sora” by Casey Covel KINGDOM HEARTS 2. “Does It Matter If I’m a Jerk?” by Steven Sukkau DAYZ, DESTINY 3. “Snuffed Out” by Rob Horsley FIRE EMBLEM: AWAKENING HUMOUR 1. “A Gremlin’s Guide to Gift Giving” by Michael Boyce GREMLINS 2. “Battle of Cute and Deadly” by Allison Barron FUTURAMA, POKEMON 3. “Unlikely Friendships” by Kyle and Allison HARRY POTTER, HALO OTHER/CROSSOVERS 1. “Retcon, God, Please Retcon” by Kyle Rudge LARPS 2. “Mechon, Titan, Black and White” by Casey Covel ATTACK ON TITAN 3. “In Sickness and Unhealth” by Allison Barron BSG, FULLMETAL...

A gamer’s guide to depression...

I am left with oddly strangled emotions as I watch Limbo revert back to the title screen. This was a dark game. As someone who has experienced depression, I am not horrified, but rather relieved that someone else can express the difficult emotions that I have felt in the past. It might sound odd, but by playing a nameless boy who runs through a dark forest solving emotionally disturbing puzzles, I feel like I am not alone. There’s something about actually playing a character myself, about walking, running, and sliding through a dark world, dying and getting up again, that is cathartic. This is different than watching someone go through numbing emotions in a book or a movie—when I play, this is me. I make the choice to go forward or stand still. Though my control is limited to where the game takes me; this ironic similarity to life does not escape me. One of the hardest things about depression is facing friends who don’t understand what it feels like. It can be exhausting trying to explain that you can’t just “cheer up,” even if there is no particular reason for your sadness. Depression can be affected by events in your life, In a game like Limbo, dark feelings are not shoved under a rug because they make people feel uncomfortable.yes, but biology can also play a part. (Recent studies suggest depression is not, contrary to popular belief, caused by a “chemical imbalance,” but other biological factors are likely involved.) Regardless, it’s not something you can kick by plastering a smile on your face and pretending you feel fine. I am encouraged by games that deal with this emotion; not only does it make me feel like other players might understand me better, it is...

In sickness and unhealth Oct16

In sickness and unhealth...

Being sick sucks. There, I said it. And though I suspect this is pretty obvious, I still think it’s worth saying and perhaps even repeating. Being sick sucks. It is the general consensus that if you are sick, you should be coddled, babied, taken care of, and in some cases even pitied. This is hardly the state we expect a hero to be in. When we doodle Superman on our fourth-grade notebooks (or for some of us, on the edges of the manuscripts we are currently editing), we don’t depict him in bed hugging a blanket with a bucket close at hand. We like our heroes to be strong, and how are they supposed to be powerful if they are suffering from an unbearable illness? Okay, some notable heroes catch the odd bug, like when Lucy comes down with a cold in Fairy Tail and Natsu makes it his mission to help her feel better, or when Buffy passes out because of the flu while fighting a vampire, but those are all short-term. I’m talking about the long-term, chronic, debilitating kind of sickness that seriously sucks and all of us dread. Sometimes we have to give up our independence and ask others to carry us when we can’t crawl any more (flans, unite). The truth is, we don’t see a lot of heroes suffering from this type of disease, and for good reason. It’s hard to write around if it isn’t the main focus of the story or episode. Also, psychological disorders and pain seem to be more romantic or something (Batman, Wolverine, or Deadpool anyone?); so you will probably notice characters thus afflicted a lot more frequently. But when I do see a character fighting a long-term physical illness, I love it. I love seeing that particular battle because the...