Thank you, Princess

When I was a little girl, back in the 80s, my best friend at the time got a Nintendo Entertainment System. Whenever we hung out, all I wanted to do was play Super Mario Bros. It was leaps and bounds cooler than the atari 2600 my parents got us for Christmas the year before. Everything looked, sounded, and played better. Super Mario Bros. was the first side-scroller, and arguably one of the best, that I had ever played.

By the end of the year, my older sister and I managed to save up enough money for our own NES. I spent much of my time playing Paper Boy, Battle Toads, Yoshi, and Bubble Bobble to name a few. If you were to read my diary from that time in my life, instead of seeing entries about boys I liked or whatever stereotypical topic young ladies write about, mine was filled with high scores and achievements. I was particularly proud of the first time I made it through Paper Boy in one turn. I can still do it. 🙂

Fast forward a year or two, and behold… Super Mario Bros. 2 came out! My life was forever changed. In this game, I could play as Mario, Luigi, Toad or PRINCESS! My brain had, at this stage, never processed that the games I played were male characters often saving women, but when I saw that I could be a girl, let alone a PRINCESS, that was all I wanted to do. Not only was she a female character, her stats were impressive. She had the second longest jump! Luigi had a longer hang time, but his spaghetti legs made me feel uneasy. I also ignored that she was the slowest at picking up items. Sometimes it made defeating the bosses a challenge, but the rest of the game was so much fun playing as her.

When Super Mario 3 went back to their familiar formula of saving Princess Toadstool, I was disappointed. I still loved that game for the map, the bonus levels, the warps, the giant level, the really cool versions of Mario, and the music, but I severely missed playing as my favorite, and the fact that I had to rescue her was a let down.

Fast forward 30 years, and my desire to play as kick ass heroines is still there. I am always thankful when a game company chooses to tell the story through a woman’s eyes. I’m even more thankful when I get to work on such a game.

OMG, am I done blabbing yet? Close! I think I can just wrap this up by saying my life influences my patterns!

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Super Mario Bros. 2
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Different take on Super Mario Bros. 1

 

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Cats & Videogames: My Obsession

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Ever since my boyfriend brought home my cat, Nona, I’ve developed a rather unhealthy obsession with feline friends. Cats are fascinating, and here’s why:

  • Their behavior is either relatable or completely alien. Both situations are equally fulfilling!
  • They’re ridiculously athletic and ridiculously lazy.
  • They look so freaking adorable and cuddly, but they are also scary hunters.
  • Have you heard the cool noises they make? All of her little noises mean something different and understanding what she’s saying to me keeps our relationship happy.

Yeah, I am a crazy cat lady. I’m ok with that. I embrace it. Because I am tired and can’t think of a brilliant segue, I will just say that the way I feel about cats is also the way I feel about games.

  • Mechanics are generally the same from game to game, within any given genre, which is fine. Sometimes I want to know all the rules/the way things work immediately; it’s comfortable. Then I have the brain power to focus on the story, the art, whatever. Other times, I want to sit down and play a game so different that it changes my life. Both situations are equally satisfying, and both are essential. Better yet, a game that takes something expected and innovates on it is probably my preference.
  • Characters in videogames are ridiculously athletic while *I* am ridiculously lazy playing them.
  • I don’t discriminate against what games I play as long as they’re good. I will gladly play a freaking adorable puzzle game or play a sci-fi shooter. I am also very happy to indulge in an adorable shooter.
  • Sound! My first job in the industry was as a sound designer. Sound is crucial. It is a source of feedback, a tool for foreshadowing and setting the mood, and it draws you into the environment. The fact that we can turn off sound in a game enrages me, but that can be another post. :-p

So… what the hell am I talking about? My cat/videogame patterns. I took old school games, made all the characters cats, and then made cross stitch patterns from them. The 8-bit art style lends itself to cross stitch. I know that my pieces are not always the most relatable, but I hope that there are other weirdos out there in the world who connect with them!

Jem… the Warrior?

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Life as a game designer is pretty cool. My job combines creativity with logic, and in the end we get to release something into the world that hopefully evokes the emotion we intended.

I work with a spectacular group of engineers, artists, and fellow designers. I have a habit, perhaps an annoying one, of trying to get my team excited/pumped when things might not be ideal. My teammates are enthusiastic about their work, but just like any job there are highs and lows. When I sense a low, I yell out, “Yeah!” at the end of whatever “brilliant” statement I just made. Sometimes I proclaim, “Who’s with me?!?!” in hopes of evoking some kind of Braveheart rally cheer. At first, my teammates (who are also my friends) didn’t respond intentionally so that I would look ridiculous yelling out in the middle of the office, but haha, jokes on them, I am always ridiculous.

One of our amazing, quirky artists made a slack emoji of dear, old Braveheart yelling, war paint on, with arm up in the air. This allowed the silly tradition to move from the analog world to the digital. One day, she noticed that Jem’s makeup looks a lot like that worn by William Wallace … just pink. As you can guess, shortly thereafter, our Braveheart emoji was soon wearing Jem’s makeup.

Inspired by my coworker, the 80s and odd mashups, I decided to design this Jem/Braveheart pattern. I took the silhouette of Jem’s regular performance outfit, added some elements from William Wallace’s battle uniform (such as Tartan), swapped sword out for a microphone, and added a shield that is surprisingly from an ACTUAL JEM episode!

Well, that was a lot of rambling, but I guess that’s what blogs are for.

Have a good Monday!