Tag Archives: gaming

Player vs. Player blog tour, days three and four!

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It’s Day Four of the Player vs. Player blog tour! Here are some buy links for you:

Riptide
Amazon US
All Romance eBooks
Barnes & Noble

Pushing for change can be dangerous when change starts pushing back.

Video game writer Niles River loves the work he does at Third Wave Studios: creating games with mass appeal that feature women, people of color, and LGBTQ characters. To make his job even better, his best friend is his boss, and his twin brother works beside him. And they mostly agree that being on the forefront of social change is worth dealing with trollish vitriol—Niles is more worried about his clingy ex and their closeted intern’s crush on his brother than he is about internet harassment.

But now the bodies on the ground are no longer virtual, and someone’s started hand-delivering threats to Niles’s door. The vendetta against Third Wave has escalated, and to make matters worse, the investigating detective is an old flame who left Niles heartbroken for a life in the closet.

No change happens without pain, but can Niles justify continuing on with Third Wave when the cost is the blood of others? If he does, the last scene he writes may be his own death.

Yesterday, my blog tour took me over to The Blogger Girls, where I discussed my background and  motivation for writing Player vs. Player. I also shared an excerpt over at Book Reviews and More by Kathy.

Today I’m sharing another excerpt over at Love Bytes, stopping by TTC Books and More for a brief spotlight stop, and The Jeep Diva is sharing a review and hosting a spotlight stop as well!

Remember, commenters will be entered into a drawing for one of my backlist titles.

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Also, if you missed the middle-of-the-night news, Saugatuck Summer is on special this week for $0.99 at several outlets, including Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble. Now is a great time to grab it if you haven’t yet!

Enjoy!

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Player vs. Player blog tour, day two!

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It’s Day Two of the Player vs. Player blog tour! Here are some buy links for you:

Riptide
Amazon US
All Romance eBooks
Barnes & Noble

Pushing for change can be dangerous when change starts pushing back.

Video game writer Niles River loves the work he does at Third Wave Studios: creating games with mass appeal that feature women, people of color, and LGBTQ characters. To make his job even better, his best friend is his boss, and his twin brother works beside him. And they mostly agree that being on the forefront of social change is worth dealing with trollish vitriol—Niles is more worried about his clingy ex and their closeted intern’s crush on his brother than he is about internet harassment.

But now the bodies on the ground are no longer virtual, and someone’s started hand-delivering threats to Niles’s door. The vendetta against Third Wave has escalated, and to make matters worse, the investigating detective is an old flame who left Niles heartbroken for a life in the closet.

No change happens without pain, but can Niles justify continuing on with Third Wave when the cost is the blood of others? If he does, the last scene he writes may be his own death.

Today my blog tour is taking me over to The Novel Approach, where I discuss a particularly mind-boggling bit of irrational reasoning regarding the presence of women in gaming spaces. Also be sure to check out TNA’s lovely review they posted yesterday! Then I head over to to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for a brief spotlight stop, and finally over to Smart Girls Love Sci-Fi, where I share the history and love of gaming that led me to write Player vs. Player. Remember, commenters will be entered into a drawing for one of my backlist titles. Enjoy!

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Player vs. Player release day and blog tour launch!

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Today, Player vs. Player is officially available just about everywhere. Here are some buy links for you:

Riptide
Amazon US
All Romance eBooks
Barnes & Noble

Pushing for change can be dangerous when change starts pushing back.

Video game writer Niles River loves the work he does at Third Wave Studios: creating games with mass appeal that feature women, people of color, and LGBTQ characters. To make his job even better, his best friend is his boss, and his twin brother works beside him. And they mostly agree that being on the forefront of social change is worth dealing with trollish vitriol—Niles is more worried about his clingy ex and their closeted intern’s crush on his brother than he is about internet harassment.

But now the bodies on the ground are no longer virtual, and someone’s started hand-delivering threats to Niles’s door. The vendetta against Third Wave has escalated, and to make matters worse, the investigating detective is an old flame who left Niles heartbroken for a life in the closet.

No change happens without pain, but can Niles justify continuing on with Third Wave when the cost is the blood of others? If he does, the last scene he writes may be his own death.

I start my blog tour off today over at Prism Book Alliance, discussing diversity in gaming then follow that up with two excerpts, one over at All I Want and More Books and the other at Cup o’ Porn. Commenters will be entered into a drawing for one of my backlist titles. Enjoy!

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Why I wrote Player vs. Player: @FeliciaDay @FemFreq @Spacekatgal @ChrisWarcraft @TheQuinnspiracy @gogreen18

I’m gonna get my bona fides–or lack thereof–out of the way up front.

I’m a gamer. I’m a feminist.

Am I a hardcore gamer? I imagine by most definitions, the answer would be no. I don’t have time for it; I have a son to raise and books to write. I drift in and out of gaming when something catches my attention. Whenever I’ve tried to be a hardcore gamer–for a while my husband and I had an arrangement for me to be able to take Friday evenings off from parenting starting at 7 PM so I could raid with my guild–it never worked out. 7 PM for me was 10PM for many of my guildies, so they wanted to start raiding at 5:30 PM, just when I was eating dinner with my husband and son. I always felt guilty because either I was letting my guildies down or I was ignoring my obligations to my family, so I just stopped trying to be a raider. Trying to do RaidFinder-type raids resulted in me being rejected and sometimes harassed for not being geared to their standards, so now I mostly stick to single-player games or do solo and small group content that I can work on in my own time.

While I am a feminist, I also don’t pretend that I’m the most educated and informed person on many of the issues. I’m very reclusive and sometimes that puts me behind the ball on current events and issues.

So, there. I’m by no means either an expert gamer or an expert feminist. I’m just someone who cares enough to try to call attention to issues when and where I can, using the voice and the medium I have available to me. Which, in this case, means as an author of LGBT romance.

When I started writing Player vs. Player , it was about a year after the harassment of Jennifer Hepler (formerly of Bioware) had taken place, and slightly less than a year after Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency had received such toxic backlash for starting her Tropes vs. Women in Video Games Kickstarter.

Those incidences stayed with me because I knew that internetting while female could be a nasty business, and because the harassment was so very vile, because it spoke of such a deep-seated hatred in gaming culture toward women, part of me thought, “Dear God, what is going to happen when one of these people goes from trolling to actual violence?”

It didn’t seem like a far-fetched possibility to me. In fact, it seemed downright inevitable. Because that’s the way things work. Bullies egg each other on and make one another feel bolder and try harder to impress each other and the bullying keeps escalating. That’s the way it’s worked ever since I was the bully-magnet on the playground when I was a kid. One kid would say a cruel thing. The other kids would laugh, so he’d say something crueler. Someone else would try to one-ups him. Next thing I knew, I’d be cornered with them all trying to out-do each other and intimidating me physically. A few days later, someone would be walking down the halls right on my heels, stepping on the backs of my shoes to try to trip me, pushing me into lockers, or, when I got older, grabbing my ass to impress his friends when he came across me browsing the book aisle in the supermarket.

Bullying escalates. So it didn’t seem at all unrealistic that the sort of treatment Hepler and Sarkeesian had received could eventually morph into actual physical violence. After all, what is the point of disseminating someone’s personal information such as their phone number and home address unless you’re trying to encourage someone to go after that person physically, and trying to intimidate that person with the possibility of an actual physical assault?

So that is what I wrote about. But I’m a writer of LGBT (primarily m/m but that may be subject to change in the future) romance, so I used the platform I had, making the story a murder mystery with a romantic subplot between two male characters. At one point I tried to contact Ms. Sarkeesian and see if I could get any more insight that would help me craft that story, but I imagine the amount of email she gets is tremendous so I’m not surprised that mine didn’t catch her notice, and that’s okay. I wrote as best I could, with the information had.

I thought I’d seen vile. I hadn’t seen anything yet.

I hadn’t seen an ex-boyfriend with a sexist ax to grind mobilize a bunch of misogynist trolls against Zoe Quinn (see next paragraph for explanation of this event.) I hadn’t game developer Brianna Wu driven from her home by threats. I hadn’t seen a college campus massacre threatened just because Anita Sarkeesian was going to speak about misogyny in video games (see below.) I hadn’t seen Felicia Day, the darling of geek culture, doxxed less than an hour after cautiously standing up and saying, “this isn’t right.”

(It should be noted that a couple days earlier, former NFL player and notable gamer and LGBT-rights activist Chris Kluwe said the same thing Day did, only much less diplomatically, but he hasn’t been doxxed. It’s only women being targeted.)

I’ve been posting recently about GamerGate, both here and on Tumblr. Maybe some of you don’t know what that is. I’m not going to try to explain it, because many people have done so much better than I can. I will refer you to this article, which explains it nicely.

ETA: After you’ve read that, check out this for a series of screencaps from discussions on 4chan in the first few days of the GamerGate operation, where we see it transition from a misogynist harassment campaign that wasn’t getting any traction to a concerted, calculated effort to try to cloak the harassment under a veneer of legitimacy and co-opt social justice hotbutton issues and language in an attempt to turn other women against Zoe Quinn.

But let’s just make one thing very clear. Despite subsequent recruitment of well-intentioned but misguided stooges and efforts to cloak themselves in legitimacy and claims of being about journalistic ethics, GamerGate is and has been from its very first inception about harassing women in the gaming industry, and women who critique gaming and gamers. It is a misogynist movement whose supporters are willing to make terroristic threats to silence people for suggesting that maybe, just maybe, using images and tropes relying on sexualized violence against women (and people of color, and LGBTQIA+ people) is at best, unimaginative and at worse, harmful to actual people.

GamerGate came along right after I had finished final edits on Player vs. Player. Part of me wishes sometimes I had written it a year later. It would have been a much more informed book. What was primarily on my mind as we were wrapping up PvP was Elliott Rodgers and the UCSB shooting. I even addressed the dedication to his victims and started the book with a quote from vlogger Laci Green, where she said about the shootings: “Misogyny actually kills people.”

At the time, Laci’s message was topical to PvP because that is, at its heart, what PvP is about. It’s about the misogynist/homophobic/racist backlash against gamers requesting (and game developers delivering) more diverse gaming content.

Misogyny actually kills people. That’s an important point to make. We know–especially right now in the aftermath of the murder of unarmed young black men in Ferguson and elsewhere across the United States–that racism kills people. We know that homophobia kills people. And misogyny kills people.

What is so very terrifying about GamerGate and the anti-diversity backlash in gaming is that it’s a perfect storm of misogyny, homophobia, and racism. These people are making terrorist threats against people who are simply asking for fewer harmful tropes and more diverse representation.

A very sad, jaded part of me wonders if the fact that Anita Sarkeesian, Brianna Wu, Zoe Quinn, and now Felicia Day are being terrorized, threatened, even driven out of their homes, would be getting as much play in the press if these women were black, and an even sadder part of me knows the answer to that question would be “no.” We’re taking notice because this is happening to white women (Correction: Ms. Sarkeesian actually identifies as Armenian, I’m told, and her family is from Iraq.)

If I were writing Player vs. Player today, the murderers in the story would identify themselves as supporters of GamerGate. The only reason they don’t is because I wrote the book a year too early. In the author’s notes at the end of the book, I reference Jennifer Hepler and Anita Sarkeesian and explain how their incidences informed the writing of the book. If I were writing it today, that list would be a lot longer, and the book would probably actually be a lot grimmer, because the situation is far more toxic than even I envisioned at the time I wrote the book.

Ms. Sarkessian, Ms. Hepler, Ms. Quinn, Ms. Wu, Ms. Day, this book is for you, and for all the women, people of color, and LGBTQIA+ gamers who have been and are being harassed into silence. It’s for cypheroftyr and dragonreine, two amazing LGBTQIA+ female gamers of color who are running the Why-I-Need-Diverse-Games blog and the #ineeddiversegames hashtag. It’s for more people than I can possibly hope to mention, who are refusing to be silenced, despite the best efforts of these misogynist, racist, homophobic trolls to turn gaming and simply being online while female into a culture of terror.

Thank you for fighting the fight. I know my contribution is nothing next to yours, but I’m doing what I can and I will always, always have your backs.

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Oh, hey, Player vs. Player is available now @NetGalley! #mysterysuspense #lgbtqia+ #gaming @RiptideBooks

PlayervsPlayer_468bannerI was wondering when review copies of Player vs. Player would be available. Somehow it snuck up onto NetGalley without me realizing! You can also pre-order PvP at Riptide or Amazon.

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In honor of the #INeedDiverseGames tag, I share an excerpt from Player vs Player @RiptideBooks

For those of you who aren’t aware, I have a mystery/suspense novel coming out in December titled Player vs. Player. This novel is set within the gaming industry and deals with the rampant misogyny, homophobia, and racism in gaming and geek culture, and more specifically, the violent backlash against anyone who speaks out and threatens the status quo. It was inspired by, among other things, the way Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency has been treated for her Tropes vs. Women in Video Games video series.

Today, CypherofTyr on Tumblr started the #INeedDiverseGames hashtag on Twitter and a Tumblr blog called Why-I-Need-Diverse-Games. It only took a couple hours for trolls to appear and start trying to derail a tag that has already picked up some absolutely awesome momentum. In support of this, I thought I would share a particularly relevant excerpt from Chapter 18 of Player vs. Player.

Cast of Characters:
Rosena Candelaria: (Latina, pansexual) CEO of Third Wave Gaming Studios
Niles River: (Half-Turkish MOC, gay) Lead writer at Third Wave
Jordan River: (Half-Turkish MOC, gay) Niles’s identical twin brother, marketing director at Third Wave
Angela Payne: (Black, lesbian) Police detective
Timothy Wyatt: (White, bisexual) Police detective

Continue reading

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Player vs. Player now available for pre-order at Amazon #mmromance #mystery #gaming @RiptideBooks

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Player vs. Player is now available for pre-order at Amazon.

Keep in mind that if you pre-order through Riptide, you get the book two days earlier, and more of the proceeds support the author and publisher. However, ordering at Amazon affects the chances of the book making bestseller lists upon its release, and that’s important too.

But, most important of all, readers have a choice. Which is always awesome.

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Get your first look at Player vs. Player @RiptideBooks #mmromance #mystery #gaming #comingsoon

This weekend while I was enjoying myself at Gay Romance NorthWest in Seattle, Riptide released the excerpt for Player vs. Player in their weekend newsletter. It’s now available on their website, so feel free to take a peek!

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Pushing for change can be dangerous when change starts pushing back.

Video game writer Niles River loves the work he does at Third Wave Studios: creating games with mass appeal that feature women, people of color, and LGBTQ characters. To make his job even better, his best friend is his boss, and his twin brother works beside him. And they mostly agree that being on the forefront of social change is worth dealing with trollish vitriol—Niles is more worried about his clingy ex and their closeted intern’s crush on his brother than he is about internet harassment.

But now the bodies on the ground are no longer virtual, and someone’s started hand-delivering threats to Niles’s door. The vendetta against Third Wave has escalated, and to make matters worse, the investigating detective is an old flame who left Niles heartbroken for a life in the closet.

No change happens without pain, but can Niles justify continuing on with Third Wave when the cost is the blood of others? If he does, the last scene he writes may be his own death.

Player vs. Player is coming December 8, 2014 and is available for pre-order now!

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The summer in review (or: “where the heck have you been, Amelia?”)

So, it’s been almost two months since my last blog update. I know. Ask me how long some people have been waiting for responses to emails they’ve sent to me.

My dear friend Depression has been visiting this summer, and hasn’t wanted to leave. For the last several months, it’s been increasingly difficult to make myself do anything unless it has an actual deadline attached to it. Mostly I’ve been doing escapist stuff and avoiding talking to people (if you’re one of those people in question, I beg you not to take it personally, as I’m avoiding everyone. It’s not just you.) The avoidance is probably for the best, actually. When I tend to get this bad, I will often go off the rails and behave badly and lash out at people and it’s not pretty. It also, however, has not helped me get a whole heck of a lot done.

So, what have I been doing?

In order of what you’re going to see released, I have two projects approaching completion.

The first will be coming out just in time for GRL, and is a box set with a bunch of other authors whose company I’m incredibly thrilled to be in.

UnconditionalSurrender_400x600My story is titled The Houseboy: Initiation, and is nothing short of pure, unadulterated erotica. Seriously. There are a lot of stories where I go for “smut with substance” and there is a lot happening behind the sexytiems. This…is not one of those times. It’s Daddy kink. It’s BDSM. It’s age difference, virginity kink, gangbang, objectification, semi-public sex, exhibitionism, and God only knows what else. In many ways, it’s what Strain would have been without the angst and the fuck-or-die element driving the plot. If that sounds like your cuppa, I’ll be sharing an excerpt in my next post. 🙂

Of course, my depression means my inner critic is being particularly loud, and I’m convinced the story is awful and has no place in the bundle and blah blah blah, but hopefully it will go over well. The bundle is up for pre-order if you would like go that route, and here are the links:

Amazon US
Amazon UK
All Romance eBooks
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
iTunes

No, you’re not imagining things, Yes, we really are offering you 300K of original stories by some of your favorite authors for only 99 cents. Jump on this. Seriously.

PlayervsPlayer_468bannerThe next project in the works will be coming out in December. I’ve already shared some about it, but in case you missed it, this is my first attempt at an honest-to-God mystery. (Yes, I went to the plotty place.) This is also the same book you might have heard me refer to in other places as Third Wave. I also went to a surprisingly low-smut place with this one. I’m not sure if I was proud or appalled at how sparse the content and kink warnings were when I was filling out the information for the product page at Riptide. PvP will be out in December and is available for pre-order from Riptide. Right now we’re in the middle of edits and I imagine review copies will be going out in the next month or so.

Now, what else have I been working on? Well, a great deal of my new-word productivity this summer has been spent on Bane. What Bane is, I’m hesitant to say, because it keeps changing on me. It started as a prequel to Strain, set about ten years before the events of Strain. It was the story of high-end escort Nico and Zach Houtman, the disowned elder son and brother of Father Maurice and Jacob in Strain, and how their actions and the actions of those around them led to the activation of Project Juggernaut and the plague that wiped out most of humanity.

And then I discovered that Darius, Rhys, Xolani and the rest of the Delta Company gang wanted in on some of the plot threads that developed as a result of those pre-plague events, it became a sequel to Strain with portions that jumped back in time (via extended flashback-like sections) to before the plague. So it was sort of going to be a prequel-within-a-sequel, if that makes sense?

But then, as I brainstormed a few plot points with Chris, the editorial assistant at Riptide, I realized I probably have too much content for just one book. Nothing is set in stone yet, but it is looking like it might be two books–the original prequel I envisioned, and then a sequel which will take the events of the prequel and bring them together with the characters from Strain. Right now the whole project is still being called Bane, though I imagine at some point there is going to be another title involved.

So, what does this mean? Well, I’m really excited about Zach and Nico’s story, especially since I get to delve into a lot of the politics and build the world and events that resulted in the plague, but for those of you who were fans of Strain, I’m sure the big news here is that yes, Darius and Rhys WILL be back. It was actually pretty amazing from a writing standpoint. I was stuck writing some stuff with Zach and Nico, so I decided to switch over and start working on a new scene with Darius and Rhys, and I swear, everything just fell into place. They came back to me so easily and naturally, and it just felt so right, and once I started working on them, everything else started to take shape and make sense. So I’m hoping to have the first draft of this two-book manuscript done in another month or two, and then hopefully Riptide and I will have more information for all of you.

And don’t worry. I haven’t forgotten that Geoff and Robin from Saugatuck Summer, or Matt and Chris from The Field of Someone Else’s Dreams, are still supposed to get their own books. Those are just on the back burner for now because Bane is consuming my brain. And for those of you who are looking forward to PvP, you might like a heads-up that Niles’s twin brother Jordan will also be getting his own book, and also I may be dipping my toe into the f/f pool and giving Rosie, Niles’s boss and best friend, her story as well. In fact, she’s poking me in the back of the brain pretty hard and demanding it, and you just don’t say no to Rosie. It doesn’t happen.

Next month, I’ll be up in Seattle at Gay Romance NW 2014, and then in October, of course, I’ll be at GRL2014 in Chicago. I was not one of the lucky few who got an author spot, so I’ll be attending as a reader, but I will be at the Riptide table for the book signings, and I’ll be around, so you’ll get a chance to see me.

So there’s a lot in the hopper right now, the big issue is just overcoming the urge for avoidance and escapism that is part and parcel of being depressed. I’ll be trying to dig my way through my email and message backlog, so hang tight if you’re waiting to hear from me. Hopefully it will get easier the more I work on it. But for those of you are are still reading at this point, especially those of you who deal with chronic depression, what do you do to overcome it when you get in that place where you just want to avoid anything and everyone and not deal with it all?

 

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Interneting while Female: women and online harassment

Let me tell you a little story. Actually, let me tell you a few of them.

Let me tell you a little about Jennifer Hepler. She was a writer for BioWare, a gaming company known best for their Star Wars, Dragon Age, and Mass Effect franchises. She wrote some very popular characters, but one day she made the catastrophic mistake of creating a Twitter account. Within just a few days, trolls had dug up a quote of hers from years before about the direction of gaming (most notably that games would probably adopt a “story” mode for players who were playing for the narrative rather than the combat) and had declared war on her. They targeted not just her Twitter, but her personal life. If you want to see even just a fraction of the abuse she was subjected to in those few days, check out this entry for her at Encyclopedia Dramatica, where the trolls continue to take their pot-shots. (I recommend you take anti-nausea medication before you do so.)

Then, right on the heels of the Jennifer Hepler harassment, there was another major incident in gaming circles.

Now, understand that I don’t even know the whole of it, only what I’ve read in articles and blog posts. I would really love to sit down with Anita Sarkeesian and talk about it someday. If you’re a woman on the internet, particularly a woman in “male-dominated” communities like sci-fi and gaming, this woman is a hero and you need to be aware of her. She’s on the front lines fighting the fight so we don’t have to.

Anita Sarkeesian runs a website called Feminist Frequency, which is dedicated to analyzing the representation of women in pop culture. Instead of telling you what happened when she took on a project dealing with the portrayal of women in video games, I’ll let Anita do it in her own words:

The TED-talk in the video was over a year ago. The harassment it details was nearly two years ago. Now look at the date on that tweet at the top of this post.

It’s still going on. (Though Anonymous has disavowed any involvement.)

“Every day I’m encouraged by the women who persevere, who continue to engage, and who refuse to be silenced.” — Anita Sarkeesian

This. So much this.

Some of you may know I hang out on Tumblr pretty regularly, and I follow a number of feminist blogs there, particularly http://fandomsandfeminism.tumblr.com/. So every day on my dash, I see dozens of messages from the person running that blog, dealing with not only sexism, but minority representation, homophobia, transmisogyny, and racial issues. A lot of those messages are asks–messages sent directly to the blow owner–that are very hostile, and I don’t know if she responds to them all, but I know she responds to a lot of them. Enough so that I’m exhausted watching her do it.

I honestly don’t know how every day, she and Anita Sarkeesian go back out there and take on the fight. I’m not sure I could do it. I’d like to think I could, but realistically? I think I would get too weary and disheartened.

Homophobia is another issue in online gaming spaces, though I admit I’m not as conversant on the subject. But take a look at this video:

The tenor of homophobic harassment in gaming seems to be different, but it’s still quite toxic.

What’s the point to this?

About a year ago I decided I wanted to pay some tribute and shine a spotlight on these issues in a book I was writing. The book is called Third Wave, and it’s an honest-to-God whodunit, a mystery who’s main characters are a pair of gay twin brothers and their female boss at a video game production company called Third Wave Studios. The boss, Rosena, is a bit of an amalgamation of all the women I’ve mentioned above, dealing with the same sort of harassment as she attempts to run a studio dedicated to creating video game titles which are not only successful, but also present positive and non-stereotyped LGBT, POC, and female heroes. One of the twins is the lead writer on the studio’s most controversial franchise (controversial because of its LGBT characters and content) and the story deals heavily with the battles they face.

I’m almost at the end of writing the story, then I need to go through and make some revisions because the plot took a few turns that I need to account for earlier in the story. But I really want to present this story as a sort of homage to the people on the front lines of the battle of gendered and homophobic harassment in online gaming spaces, do my part, however small, to spread awareness of what is going on in the underbelly of our pop culture.

But this post isn’t to pimp my WIP. It’s about the people I’ve mentioned here, the ones who wake up every day and fight the fight I don’t know if I’d had the guts to. Read the links. Watch the videos. And just…be aware. Know that this is going on, even if it’s not happening in your line of sight, and that if you’re not in the middle of it, it’s almost certainly far, far worse than you assume it is.

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