Kagematsu: romance and privilege in old Japan

At the fabulous Fabricated Realities convention, I played Danielle Lewon’s Kagematsu, which gave me a new perspective romance and gender politics. It messed with my expectations of how a courtship should proceed, and exposed some of my unconscious cultural assumptions.

In this game a female player portrays Kagematsu the wandering ronin, and the male players play peasant women who must entice and woo Kagematsu to convince him to save their village from a dire peril. The women take turns attempting to elicit gestures of affection from Kagematsu, from a stolen glance to a kiss to a roll in the hay to a confession of love, culminating in the promise to aid the village. Whether or not the woman gains the gesture, Kagematsu’s player secretly awards her Love or Pity based onpersonal judgment. Only if Love is high enough will Kagematsu have a chance of defeating the threat.

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Just a Girl Robot: Adventures in Fatherhood and Feminism

My daughter Niamh is 2 1/2 years old. Her life, I admit with some embarrassment and resignation, is inundated with mass-marketed media: Disney movies, children’s TV shows, picture books, and so on—to say nothing of the books, comics, movies and TV that Mom and Dad read and watch. From the very first my mind has been pondering and anticipating all the wealth of beloved stories I’ll be able to share with her as she grows up. Some I’m waiting until she’s older and can appreciate them better, and some I’ve started already: The Iron Giant. The Hobbit. The Muppets. Star Wars. Winnie-the-Pooh. Whatever she seems ready for, whatever she responds to, and whatever I watch for my own enjoyment that she just happens to be around for.

It was the latter case when Niamh became obsessed with Mega Man. I have a passing fondness for the old video game series, and stumbled on the 1995 cartoon adaption while poking around Youtube. Niamh, playing on the floor at my feet, perked up and said “wanna watch!” So I plopped her on my lap and we watched the episode together.

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