Damnit Anders: The Dragon Age II Feelings Essay

Anders broke my fucking heart. And he told me right from the start that he would. I just didn’t listen.

Listen, you must know the drill by now: Bria plays a BioWare game and has a lot of feelings about it and then writes about them. Except this time, this isn’t my third play-through of Mass Effect. It’s my very first play-through of all the Dragon Age games and I am somehow mostly spoiler free. However, this is BioWare so I knew to expect two things: romance and devastation. This game absolutely delivered on both fronts. Continue reading

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Welcome to the Padmé Renaissance

Last week was Padmé Week. It was a damn good week.

When you’ve loved a character for a good two-thirds of your life and have consistently seen parts of fandom look down on her dismissively, in part because she died of a broken heart thanks to less than stellar storytelling decisions (that droid was broken, damnit!), it can be a little disheartening. It’s especially disheartening when done so to raise up other female characters. Hollywood has given the world a strange and, quite frankly, incorrect idea of what makes a strong female character. While yes, it’s fantastic to see women in warriors roles in media, women like Shmi Skywalker who never lift a finger in combat are equally strong. There’s no right sort of capable lady and we should stop acting like there’s only one. This isn’t Highlander.

But that’s beside the point.

(Yes, I have a point.) Continue reading

My BFF Vega

James Vega is the shipmate I never thought I’d like.

By the time you get to Mass Effect 3, you already have your team and your friends. Some of them have even been with you since the first game. It doesn’t matter whether or not you romanced Garrus because when you run into him on Palaven’s moon, you know he’s got your back because it’s Garrus freaking Vakarian. Liara may have gone through some drastic characterization changes over the years but you know she’s there for you no matter what. Vega though… Lieutenant James Vega is the new kid. He hasn’t hunted down Saren or gone through the Omega relay on a suicide mission with you but right now, he’s the guy you’ve got watching your back as you’re forced to abandon Earth and start forming yet another team to take on the Reaper invasion. As I slowly rebuilt my team, I figured I’d start phasing him out from my ground team and yet somehow, he kept going out more often than not. Continue reading

Mass Effect, Murder, and Morality

Mass Effect made me feel like a monster and it’s all my fault.

Wait. Let’s back up a minute and let me explain.

I have a long history of playing Bioware games. Honestly, I’ve mostly played Bioware games exclusively with occasional diversions elsewhere. Knights of the Old Republic was my jam in middle/high school and I adored the (non-Bioware but it felt like Bioware) sequel game just as much. There was something about being a part of Star Wars and getting to make choices that would affect not only me but the entire galaxy that was thrilling. Even though female Revan and female Exile will always be my preference, I made it a point to play through each game with all four potential paths at least once: light side female, dark side female, light side male, dark side male. It appealed to not only my completionist side but also let me experience the story in new ways.

And then Mass Effect happened. Continue reading

Musings on The Afterward and Queen’s Shadow

I think I’ve been waiting for Queen’s Shadow and The Afterward most of my life but didn’t how badly I needed them until last week.

Ever since E.K. Johnston’s forthcoming books were announced, I’ve been beyond excited for both novels. After all, I was already predisposed to love them given their strong emotional ties to my childhood. From the moment I watched The Phantom Menace, I’ve been enamored with Padmé Amidala and her handmaidens. To a nine year old, a band of teenage girls kicking ass and fighting for their homeworld and wearing gorgeous outfits while doing it looked like the dream. I wanted to be one of them. Queen’s Shadow finally gives Naboo’s loyal daughters the spotlight and it only took twenty years. I’m equally in love with high fantasy and stories about lady knights and read as many as I could get my hands on growing up. David Eddings, who specialized in high fantasy and the delightful use of tropes, has been one of my favorite authors since I started reading his books and, well, let’s just say there’s a very good reason we’re rereading his Elenium trilogy ahead of The Afterward’s release. Continue reading

Reflections on 2018

In 2018, I basically forgot about this blog. Uhm. Oops?

Okay, that’s not entirely true. I remembered it was here and I did things like update the pages and wrote one or two book reviews here but I never actually published anything consistent here. (That’s going to change in 2019.)

So. What happened in 2018? Well, a lot from a certain point of view and not that much from another. (Isn’t it crazy how that works?) This was a year in which I struggled a bit especially on a personal level. 2018 taught me a lot about the friendships I had with some people and showed me which were genuine and positive forces in my life and which were (to put it bluntly) not. I won’t go into it much further but I am incredibly grateful to the friends who’ve loved me and supported me through the ups and downs I’ve had this year. (Special shout out to the friends who surprised me with my very own ID-10 droid who I love more than life itself.)

But on to the stuff you care about. Continue reading

What Iden Versio Means To Me

I’ve been thinking a lot over the past two months about how I could best describe what Iden Versio has meant to me since we first met her at Celebration Orlando back in April. For ages, I couldn’t seem to find the right words. Yes, I’ve talked about representation and how important that is to me and for the other Asian and mixed-Asian women out there. Yes, at this point just about everyone has seen the IGN video where I got to talk about my love for Iden and actually meet Janina Gavankar. And yet, I still didn’t quite find the right words even though my voice jumped an octave and I cried. (And then cried again two weeks later thanks to the DLC and The Last Jedi.)

I think I finally have.

For me, watching Iden Versio have her world view shattered and then find her new place in the galaxy is how I imagine it felt for some women to watch Wonder Woman storm across No Man’s Land, to watch the lightsaber fly past Kylo into Rey’s hand, to watch Peggy Carter tell everyone that she knew her value. Continue reading

Strength from Wash-outs and Misfits

It’s been four years to the day since Star Wars fans were lucky enough to get not only a new X-Wing book but also a new book about Wraith Squadron. (Interestingly enough, if the first Wraith Squadron book were a person, it’d be preparing to go off to college right around now.) Star Wars: X-Wing: Mercy Kill was a wonderful book from the last years of the Legends universe that brought a lot of us back to the Star Wars fandom after we’d drifted away when our favorite characters were forced through some unfortunate plot lines. In fact, if you were to go aaaaaaall the way back, you’d see that a review of Mercy Kill was my very first contribution to Tosche Station and how I accidentally started writing for them. The X-Wing books have always been a lot more than that though. They were the basis of friendships, they were the foundation of many a sense of humor, and they brought of a heck of a lot of pure joy to people’s lives. The Wraiths though… well, let’s just say that the Wraiths have been so much more to me. Continue reading

Costume Feelings in a Galaxy Far, Far Away

There’s something magical that makes your heart stop when they first open the blast doors into the Star Wars and the Power of Costume Exhibition because you’ve just watched this neat little introduction video and then all of the sudden—there right there!—is the Queen Amidala Throne Room gown. It was smaller than it comes off on screen (probably because Natalie Portman is a lot smaller than me) and the lights on the bottom were understandably not lit up but there it was. I let out a little squeak and this was warning sign number—no wait, that’s a lie. Warning Sign #1 that I was going to be emotionally compromised was hearing about this exhibit and getting tickets for it. The chances of me not being at least somewhat embarrassing because of all my pretty costume emotions were nonexistent. (Look son, I know what I’m about.) Continue reading

You Don’t Get to Decide Someone Else’s Race

Originally posted on Tumblr on October 16, 2013 as an unedited, stream-of-consciousness piece.

We meet again, Fandom, when it comes to talking about diversity.

The good news is that it’s not Star Wars that is the culprit/subject of this piece today but rather Agents of SHIELD.  To be more specific, it’s some of the viewers and commenters.  I’m not in the mood for flowery language today so we’ll cut right to the chase:

You do not get to decide who counts as white based purely upon what you think they are.

Since Agents of SHIELD started, plenty of people have been quick to note how white the show is with the exception of Ming-Na Wen as Agent Melinda May.  While I am all for more diversity and for calling out shows when they lack it, there’s just one problem here: Agents of SHIELD stars two actresses of color.

I will be the first to admit that Joss Whedon has not been the best about casting a diverse mix of actors in his shows.  Angel was slightly better than Buffy the Vampire Slayer with the inclusion of Gunn and Dollhouse had both Boyd and Sierra but they were all still overwhelmingly white casts.  And let’s be honest: there’s really no excusing Firefly with its Chinese-American culture fusion and not a single Asian to be found amongst the main cast.  So this is not me being a Whedon apologist.

Actress Chloe Bennet plays Skye, the hacker for Team Coulson.  Bennet, despite what some people on the internet might think, is biracial as her father is Chinese and her mother is American/white.  (She also had a singing career in Beijing which is pretty darn cool.  That girl is incredibly accomplished for being only 21.)  This does, in fact, make her a woman of color.  For those keeping track, this means that a third of the main cast is comprised of Asian women.  While I can grudgingly understand that not everyone looks at her and automatically recognizes that she is biracial, some of the comments that people have made when informed otherwise have been a bit unsettling.  Many of them can be boiled down to “Well, she can pass for white so she doesn’t count towards the ~visual~ diversity of the cast.”

Continue reading