Home Sweet Home
The sun rises over the valley; birds chirp, your cat gently paws at your face, and you slowly open your eyes. You left behind your soul-crushing desk job in the hopes of finding something more meaningful in farming, but your back hates you right now. Your farm is a mess, you’re dead broke, and all you have is a few basic tools and some cheap seeds. There are some very busy days ahead of you, but at least you can do things at your own pace. Thus begins the adventure of the indie farming simulation and role-playing game Stardew Valley.
Primarily inspired by the Harvest Moon series, Stardew Valley allows you to create your own character and vicariously live through them as a farmer in Pelican Town. You can choose from 24 different skin tones, 32 hair styles, 112 shirts, 20 accessories, and 2 pets. So the choices regarding how your character looks are fantastic. Then comes the fun part. Your first task is simple; you have to clean up the farm you inherited from your grandfather and make it your own. Starting your farm takes some time and attention to detail. Where do you want to start? How many seeds do you want to plant? Where to place them? How long do they take to grow? Can you grow them faster? Why am I finding Joja Cola’s in the bottom of my lake? All of these questions are answered as you progress and begin to see what your work yields.
Your farm is a mess, you’re dead broke, and all you have is a few basic tools and some cheap seeds.
As you improve your farm, you’ll be able to grow better crops that will fetch better prices. More money means you can decorate your sweet little home to your hearts desire. Your local store will sell you new items and allow you to change the floor or wall patterns. Or you can visit the evil, corporate Joja Mart and get what you need there. Eventually you’ll be able to expand your tiny farmhouse into a sprawling estate. If you get big enough, you’ll be able to care for animals, grow crops all year long, and create artisinal goods such as jam, honey, beer and wine.
It won’t take you long to realize things move faster when you invest in better tools, but you’ll have to do more than farm to get what you need. Mining, fishing, foraging, cooking, and crafting are also important elements in the game that can help your farm flourish. There are quests designed to help you along each path, but in true role playing form, you pick the path and how you’d like to explore. Either way, time management will become your friend, as you only have a limited amount of time and energy to get things done each day. After all, you’re just one farmer.
Don’t worry, you won’t have to do it all alone.
Speaking of time, there are four seasons in Stardew Valley: Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. Each season lasts up to 28 days and brings with it a wealth of new seeds, trees, fish, foraging items and so forth. You’ll watch your farm go from a lush, full field to a barren winter wasteland as time moves forward. Then you’ll start a new year with a bigger house, upgraded tools, and a better understanding of what you need to accomplish before the end of the season. Don’t worry, you won’t have to do it all alone.
Image source: https://goo.gl/SrsAU9
If you feel lonely, the good people of Pelican Town are more than happy to keep you company. Some more so than others. You can interact with and befriend npc’s by completing quests. There are town events each month to help create a sense of fellowship with your neighbors. Everyone has a birthday and there’s usually a place in town that they frequent. So you’ll have plenty of opportunities to win the heart of your beloved at the Dance of the Moonlight Jellies or the Flower Dance. If you so wish, you can even romance and marry a single character. Having children is an option as well. Or if you want, you can live life as a hermit who barely speaks to anyone other than grunting to make a few purchases at Pierre’s.
Image source: https://goo.gl/K3qEwF
Pretty soon, you’ll be able to play the game online with your friends. That’s right, there will be a multiplayer expansion. According to a blog post on stardewvalley.net, Stardew Valley’s developer, Chucklefish, expected that the expansion will be rolled out by the end of 2017. We’re still waiting for that as of April 2018, but I have hope. As for a multiplayer experience for the PS4, we don’t have a date, but the update will be headed our way eventually. As if you needed another reason to pick up this game.
At its core, Stardew Valley is a happy, comforting game that will help you unwind. The music is fantastic, there’s barely any pressure, and you’ll find a lot of humor in places you least expect it. If you’re the type of player that needs objectives and quests to accomplish, there is plenty of those to keep you entertained. However, there is no need to complete most things. In fact, I would even say that there is no right or wrong way to play, unless you’re not playing at all. Then you’re totally missing out!
So why not take a trip to Pelican Town? Your new life is waiting for you there.
It’s been a great year for the Nintendo Switch. From Breath of The Wild to Super Mario Odyssey and every game in between, the Switch has been crushing it across all genres. But another area in which the Switch has been crushing it, and a lot of people might not know, is with its Black and Brown female characters. As a Black girl gamer, it feels good to FINALLY see characters that look like me from a company that I absolutely adore!
In this article, I will be listing five games featuring women of color that are available on the Nintendo Switch. Let’s go!
Image source: https://goo.gl/FYyDPg
Originally available on Steam, Dandara is an independent game featuring a Black woman, Dandara, as the main character. Dandara lives in the world of Salt, and life in Salt isn’t going all too well. So Dandara takes it upon herself to fight back against the oppression and turmoil that she and her fellow citizens are facing. It is her personal mission to restore freedom and balance to her chaotic world.
If you’re a fan of 2D platformers (think old school Super Mario Bros. mixed with Metroid, but with some #blackgirlmagic thrown in there) you might like Dandara. If you like jumping all over creation and discovering new paths each time you play a game, you might also like Dandara. And if you just like kicking butt as a bad-ass Black girl, Dandara might be the game for you!
2. Shantae: Half-Genie Hero
Image source: https://goo.gl/F7rgju
Another platformer, Shantae originally got its start way back when on the Game Boy Color, but its latest installment, Shantae: Half-Genie Hero has found its way to the Nintendo Switch. And for the first time ever, Shantae is live and in HD!
Once again, Shantae is forced to save Sequin Land as evil threatens to take over the entire world. Using her luscious ponytail and belly-dancing battle techniques, Shantae fights off evil in order to stop her arch-nemesis, Risky Boots, from destroying Sequin Land. Join Shantae in her fight against evil and see if you have what it takes to save the day!
If you’re a fan of hair whips and awesome dance moves, Shantae might be calling your name. And if you’re a fan of humorous dialogue and cute costume changes, you might also enjoy Shantae. Whatever calls you to it, own it and have fun!
Image source: https://goo.gl/oMTVH2
Another indie game, in Severed, you follow the one-armed warrior Sasha and her living sword along on their journey to find Sasha’s family. The world might be horrifying, but the game design isn’t! As Sasha fights her way through the nightmare, solving puzzles and defeating enemies, she manages to do so in a very stylish and aesthetically-pleasing manner. The colors are vibrant. The enemies are freaky. And the action is definitely on and poppin’!
Check out Severed if you like action-adventure games, and especially ones led by Brown girls! And who can say no to a Brown girl kicking butt? No one. Shout out to Drinkbox Studios for creating Sasha, a visibly disabled and beautifully Brown female heroine.
4. Splatoon 2
Image source: https://goo.gl/dydYyq
Everyone knows how diverse and customizable Splatoon 2 allows its characters to be, and ever since Marina came onto the scene, fans everywhere have been in shock and awe. A member of the band, Off the Hook, Marina is also the host of a TV show and a certified baddie. While more reserved than her partner, Pearl, Marina can also be sassy when needed, but generally, she speaks in a sweet and gentle manner like the shy girl that she is. And that’s great because Black girls aren’t a monolith, and it takes all types to make the world go ’round.
If you haven’t already played Splatoon 2, I highly suggest that you do it! If not for the awesome third-person shooter paint action, at least do it for the awesomeness that is Marina. You’ll be VERY glad that you did!
Image source: https://goo.gl/1ZsSNj
And finally, one of the newest first-party games from Nintendo, Arms is a fighting game featuring characters with, you guessed it, extendable arms. And one of the most iconic characters from the game is Twintelle, a dark-skinned Black woman with a swaggered walk and hips to match. Using her long, curly ponytails to fight, Twintelle is definitely a force to be reckoned with! She pretty much broke the Internet the night her character was released, and people have been talking about her ever since.
If you like fighting games, you’ll probably like Arms, and if you like watching Black girls kick butt, you might also like Arms. Either way, you can’t really lose, now can you? Well, if you aren’t playing as Twintelle, I suppose you already are…
And that does it, y’all! Nintendo has really been on it with its Black and Brown girl characters this past year. Hopefully, they see all of the love and support that the games featuring them are receiving and continue to show us girls that look just like us! We’re rooting for you Nintendo! We know that you can do it!
Oh wow! Is the first thing I have to say about this pop up con. Black Girl Gamers received the privilege of having a panel, Creating A Safe Space for Black Girl Gamers and Streaming Safely as a POC at Wicomicon.
Wicomicon is a one day pop-up convention which took place on Saturday April 29 on 1100 Wicomico St in Baltimore, MD. This con is comprised of local comic book shops, cosplayers from around the world and a community willing to make this happen such as The Blerd Gurl, AceBlade, Black Hereos Matter and may more.
Three Fifs Podcast doing their thing during their intro to Table Top Gaming Panel.
Walking into the con was different from any convention I’ve been to; it is in a warehouse, we took a freight elevator up. When the gates opened we are staring Wicomicon in the face! Vendors selling your typical con swag, like a Cowboy Bebop blanket which I most def scooped up. Many artists doing commissions and selling merch; the amount of money I spent, SHOOKETH! Wicomicon vendors and artists are spread between two rooms but the amount of vendors aren’t overwhelming. The place feels homely and warm. I have the time to enjoy each table and take my time to look and realize that I like certain pieces. The more I circled the room, the more things I wanted to buy. It is a pleasure and privilege to get to have these long conversations with the artists and vendors. I had a chance to speak with the gentleman involved in the Malika comic book, Roy from YouNeekStudios, that was awesome. I will be reviewing part two very soon; here’s part one.
This is truly a place to be inspired. You have experts at your disposal willing to share. Wicomicon is truly for the culture!
Black Girl Gamers Panel
Me, Jay and Akua representing on our panel.
Our panel, Creating a Safe Space For Black Girl Gamers and Streaming Safely as a POC, was a great experience not just for me but all of BGG, Jay-Ann, founder, Akua and everyone who attended.
We talked about how to enter a community like BGG, which is positively, you get what you give. We freely give advice on creating a safe space around your target audience and streams. Another thing we touched on is moderating and how to implement it to have a safer and productive time when you are streaming. We even went into detail how to stream from your console. We’ll be putting up videos soon so check back for those. Thumbstick Mafia’s podcast has all the keys on modding.
Overall it was a great panel, we are here to encourage people to be themselves, Black Girl Gamers. Don’t be ashamed, don’t hide it; be you. Feel free to watch the entire panel here.
Wicomicon, in my eyes, looked like a success. There’s no complaints, except there wasn’t a real concessions stand but upon speaking with the company that provided the refreshments he said the best they could do with a seven day notice is chips, cookies and pop or soda, depending on where you’re from.
The cosplayers, attendees and vendors really made the con. It didn’t feel like a warehouse it felt like a community gathering. This event was created with love and I’m very fortunate to have experienced it.
Can I just say, I love these one day cons. They’re not overwhelming, you don’t see the same merch and that allows me to support most of the vendors by buying something from each table. It’s easier not to get distracted by the multitude of panels. We could panels one after another and not have to rush a whole football field to get to the next. But this is just my personal opinion. WHEN I do my con it will be a one day thing, hope to see you there. Details coming in a few years!
Like all Kingdom Hearts fans, I’m impatiently waiting for the drop date (because 2018 isn’t enough…I have to plan financially…I mean…SPYRO). The trailer is sick, citing new worlds from Toy Story and Monsters Inc. Also, can we talk about Ariel?
I decided to go back to the basics and play the original KH on PS2 in order to prepare myself, and because nostalgia always gets the best of me…and honestly? IT WAS SO REFRESHING.
This article started as a review of revisiting Kingdom Hearts, but what I want to talk about is the sense of peace and relaxation we experience playing an old game. Now, I can’t guarantee the same refreshing feeling if you pop Bloodborne in, but there is something to be said for revisiting games you loved as kids. I’ve seen a couple articles written about this, asking questions like “Why don’t I love video games anymore?” or “How do I become reinterested in gaming?”.
When we experience problems or frustrations in daily life, we’re often told to go back to the root. We want to start over. We want the basics. Why not the same for gaming? This is the idea behind remakes, and why there is such a mad rush in preorders when we read things like “Spyro triology” and “Final Fantasy 7” (ha).
Keeping that in mind, I thought I’d put together a list of some cool nostalgia inducing game things. Spend safely, ya’ll.
Spyro controllers by Kustom Kontrollerz
Kustom Kontrollerz does exactly what their name says, controller customization. With the release of the remastered Spyro, what gift could be better? The ones in the article are mock-ups, but you can place orders through the companies twitter!
More information can be found at: https://goo.gl/QqEHzd
Hyperkin Smartboy for Android
I find this extremely exciting (minus the fact that I’m team Apple). Emulators have always made my phone crash after a while and there is nothing worse than losing that kind of ground on Zelda…I promise you. I’ve seen a couple complaints about the product being excessive, but it’s more about the feeling of popping in a cartridge and playing than anything.
These can be found at: https://goo.gl/DhrRAz
Syberia for Nintendo Switch
I spent HOURS playing this as a kid. My binge only ended after I’d ripped my laptop out of the wall carelessly…(I know). I’ve seen pretty positive reviews about the switch, so if fun puzzle games are your thing, you’ve got a good deal with this.
It can be found at: https://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/syberia-switch
Look, we all know these are more technical furbies and will bring about the end of the world. But how FUN was it to try to keep an ugly little pixelated balloon alien alive? Order one. Play it at work. Destress.
Can be found at: http://us.tamagotchifriends.com/
Hope for a new Tony Hawk
This isn’t a product. It’s more my wishful thinking. But. I would KILL to get a new Pro Skater, preferably with Darren Harper (I’m a DC girl, what can I say), and better customization. Let’s cross our fingers that Descenders works something out.
More information can be found at: https://goo.gl/fQLD5M
“Black girls play video games?”
“What’s a Black girl gamer?”
“There’s a community for that?”
I wish these weren’t questions I received on a regular basis, but sadly, they are. And these are questions that I receive from all types of people, including Black men!
Similar to other industries, in the gaming world, Black girl gamers often get overlooked and cast into the some of the deepest and darkest dungeons of the gaming community. So I’m making it my personal goal to shine the biggest and brightest light I can find on all of my fellow Black girl gamers. I’m talking end-of-Kingdom Hearts 2 “Door to Light” levels of brightness. I want the whole world to see us and know that we do, in fact, exist. And I also want them to know that we can play any game we want to, and sometimes, better than your faves!
NBA 2K.Call of Duty. Final Fantasy. The Sims. Overwatch.
You name it, Black girl gamers are playing it, and they are playing it well, or not so well, and that’s fine too! A quick visit over to Twitch or YouTube will confirm this to be a fact, and a quick Google search will also disprove some of your preconceived notions about Black girl gamers. There are plenty of communities out there for Black girl gamers, and I’m going to talk about a couple of them in this article.
The first community I’d like to talk about is Black Girl Gamers, the platform on which I am currently writing this article. Black Girl Gamers was started by Jay-Ann Lopez in an effort to create a safe space for Black girls who loved video games. Often feeling left out in the gaming community, a community she loved very much, Lopez created Black Girl Gamers to connect with more gamers who looked like her and could understand where she was coming from.
The Internet is full of trolls, and Black girl gamers are no stranger to this fact. Not only are we thrown sexist slurs, but we’re also thrown racist ones as well. So we’re stuck in a constant limbo as we try to navigate the gaming community as a double (sometimes more!) minority.
Video game companies are changing and trying to make their markets more “diverse,” but that is also something that Lopez in wary of, as she fears a lot of them are only out for the money. And she isn’t wrong.
With a community like Black Girl Gamers, Black girls can feel safe and unexploited. They can be sure that they are constantly amongst friends and feel comfortable and connected while participating in one of their favorite hobbies. Black Girl Gamers is makes gaming feel good!
Another community that understands the plight of the Black girl gamer is The Cookout. The Cookout was created in an effort to provide a safe space for gamers of color, LGBTQIA+ gamers, and gamers with disabilities. The creators of The Cookout saw the gross amount of underrepresentation in the gaming world for these groups of gamers and decided to create a space where they could congregate and share their love of gaming.
And not only does The Cookout game together, but members also gather in real life for meet-ups in other arenas as well, including eating out and going to the movies. They attend events together, including TwitchCon and very soon, Universal FanCon. They share kitchen creations with one another, help each other set up streams, record podcasts, and everything else one would do with members of their family, because at this point, that’s exactly what they are!
The Cookout is an awesome resource available to not only Black girl gamers, but all minority gamers! If you’re feeling lost and alone on your gaming journey, definitely give The Cookout a visit. I promise you will enjoy your stay!
The last community for Black girl gamers on my list is Black Gamers Revolution. Branding itself “as Black as gaming gets,” Black Gamers Revolution got its humble start on Tumblr. Once again, its creators wanted to create a space where Black gamers could get together and be able to relate to each other in the context of gaming.
Black Gamers Revolution often hosts community nights, featuring different games for its members to play, and they also host a number of other events to keep Black gamers connected in a world where it can sometimes be very hard us to feel welcome. Black Gamers Revolution are doing an awesome job of connecting Black gamers and helping them build a community in which they can feel safe and have fun. Check them out when you get the chance!
Although it’s still hard to be a Black girl gamer in our current gaming world, communities like the ones mentioned above are making it a lot easier to cope with this fact. All of these groups have Discords that you can join if you’re interested in meeting other gamers that look like you and making friends that will last you a lifetime. So go ahead and check them out when you get a chance. You deserve to play video games in a comfortable environment, and you deserve to have good people in your life!
Black girls deserve the world, and these communities are making sure that we get it!
Infinitii is a competitive player in the NRS scene, specializing in Mortal Kombat X and more recently Injustice 2. She mains Mileena and Catwoman with a lil bit of my girl Enchantress on the side (I suspect her relationship with Mileena is a lot more intimate than what meets the eye…) As a member of the FGC’s fiercest women’s team – The Sirens – Infinitii has been a very vocal advocate for and inspiration to women in the FGC. She is a player you can easily point to whenever doubters come out of their basements questioning women’s ability to play at a high level. Recently sponsored by Hazardous, Infinitii is going to be able to travel a lot more to attend majors this year. And, with the recent announcement of Injustice 2’s second Pro Series I look forward to seeing her take her competitive experience onto the biggest world stages. Go get em girl! @SedriaXO
A legend in the making and already made, Sonic Fox is known for his prodigious ability to play multiple fighting games at the highest level; winning many major tournaments, including EVO. Master in the Mortal Kombat and Injustice series, Skullgirls and Marvel vs Capcom Infinite, Sonic Fox is now dominating the US Dragon Ball FighterZ scene and is looking to draw blood among Japanese players. But what is so refreshing about him is how he plays his life at the highest level of himself. Self-proclaimed furry and queer black man, Sonic Fox breaks down every expectation of what a top tier competitive gamer should be like and nobody can say anything because he’s the best at what he does. I mean, he literally won a tournament in a full fox suit… Some people were freaking out but I’m celebrating: it is beyond refreshing to see some life and diversity pumped into the FGC. Seeing myself reflected in the community is part of what’s encouraged me to stick around, I love it. Keep it foxy, Fox! @SonicFox5000
Jack of all trades, Grimulus is a well-known member of the UK FGC. King of Fighters competitive player, tournament organizer, commentator, community builder and founding member of East London Fighters (ELF), Grimulus has been at the center of creating the biggest fighting game community in London as well as developing the King of Fighters community across Europe. East London Fighter’s has managed to combine the best of both worlds by being a grassroots, homegrown community alongside being leaders in UK eSports. Dominate in the UK Tekken 7 competitive scene, by hosting regular events ELF have inspired newer players to pick up their pads and grow as players. As well as being a skilled and experienced as a tournament player, Grimulus also has an incredible talent in making new players feel at home in the FGC and bringing different fighting game communities together under a shared love of the genre. So much respect, more of this please! @Lord_Grimulus
Palushina blew up the internet when she won her first Street Fighter 5 (SFV) tournament at the start of this year: bagging herself a perfect and not dropping a single set the whole tournament. Most of twitter was jubilant about her amazing performance but there was a small element of the guttersphere that was surprised a female could slay at a competitive level. I know – it’s like we’re still living in 1950s and your uncle Bobby is rocking that that horrendous Jheri Curl… Sigh. But, she has once again proved she is riding with the best by finishing 3rd in SFV and 7th in Tekken 7 at Michigan Masters. Palushina and her Menat are going from strength to strength and putting in work at multiple tournaments. I see those resets girl! It’s so inspiring to see how Palushina’s confidence is growing at every tournament, and confidence is exactly what makes a player dangerous so watch out boys, she is going to be a real threat this year! @Palushina