My Overwatch doppelgänger: Mei

My husband started playing Overwatch on a free-to-play weekend around Thanksgiving.  He opened the game and started scanning through the playable characters, asking me, “Which one should I play?”  Neither of us knew anything about the characters at all, neither backstory nor in-game abilities, but several of them looked cool.  Then he pulled up one defensive character, and I started squealing: “Her! Pick her!”

I had discovered Mei, my Overwatch doppelgänger.

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Basically, I am Mei and Mei is me.  Here are some details that illustrate my point.

Let’s start with the name:

  • You may notice a similarity between “Mei” and my screen name “Mei-Mei,” but it’s actually even better than that.  Mei’s full name is Mei-Ling, which you may recall is exactly the name of the anime character I took my pen name from (Li Meiling from Cardcaptor Sakura).

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Moving on to appearance:

  • I’ve already stipulated that I’m not Asian, but I am a girl, and I also wear nerdy glasses.
  • Mei’s default “skin” is a blue parka, and my favorite color is blue.
  • Speaking of the parka (which Mei wears because she was cryofrozen and now does ice attacks), I am always cold, and I would love to wear such a parka and boots all the time.  Especially since we are getting plenty of lake effect snow this weekend.
  • Unlike your standard female video game character, Mei is…not skinny.  She has a very real-world-normal body type, and it reminds me a lot of mine.  (Overall, I think Overwatch did a great job with body diversity in all the characters.)
  • She has the cutest hair pin!  I would totally wear that!

mei-medal

Now regarding personality:

  • Mei clearly has a dorky sense of humor because one of her emotes is “A-Mei-zing!”  She also has a few ice puns (a la Mr. Freeze).  I’m not really one for puns myself, but I do have a quirky sense of humor.
  • Another classic emote is her “Sorry, sorry, I’m sorry, sorry.”  This is totally me–I’m one of those people that apologize for everything, even when it’s not my fault.
  • She has a cute little robot-pet-thing that assists with her abilities, and I could not live without my pets (currently two cats, one of which looooooves to “help”).
  • Aaaand last but most important: Mei is a scientist, specifically concerned with the environment.  I am also a scientist, and though I’m a biologist and not a climatologist, I have long been a supporter of environmental conservation.

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There’s one more thing that interests me about Mei that has to do with her style of gameplay.  I’ve come to learn she’s actually one of the most hated characters in the game.  Mei is a “defensive” character, who freezes opponents and puts up ice walls to block access to areas.  Consequently, when you are playing against an effective Mei, your offensive characters can be shut down pretty well, and it can feel like you aren’t actually doing anything at all (one of the most frustrating feelings for a gamer).

But it’s worse than that; Mei trolls her teammates as well.  Because her ice walls affect everyone on the field, if you are playing with a bad Mei on your team (or are just unlucky), you can be cut off from your healer or tank, or prevented from making a killing shot, or unable to reach the target, or…see what I mean?  Playing with a Mei can occasionally be as frustrating as playing against one.

This feeling towards Mei perfectly encapsulates how I think people are feeling about me every time I play a game with Internet strangers.  I am so self-conscious and have such low confidence in my gaming abilities that I feel like I’m going to ruin the game for everyone, and my teammates are going to jump on my mistakes and blame me for screwing them up.  (Remember what I said about “sorry sorry sorry?”)  It took me months to group with random people in SW: The Old Republic, the MMO I used to play.

SO that’s the storymei-pose of how I found myself in a video game.  And after all that, my husband B has played as Mei for a grand total of about five minutes.  He normally plays Lucio, the Brazilian rollerblading support, because no matter what game, somehow he always ends up playing the bard.

Do you guys have video game doppelgängers?  And who’s your favorite Overwatch character?  What do you think of Mei?

ETA: If you want to go slowly insane, check out this video featuring clips of Mei.

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Now Playing: Final Fantasy VII

If you play video games at all, especially RPGs, you’ve probably heard of Final Fantasy VII.  It released in 1997 for the PlayStation and has come to be known as one of the greatest games of all time.

It is certainly one of my husband’s favorite games ever, and he is greatly anticipating the upcoming high-definition remake of the game.  He’s been wanting me to play the game for years; I’ve started it multiple times and never progressed very far (I didn’t even get to the open world map).

So we’re taking a staycation this week and playing FFVII.  Or more accurately, he’s watching me play it (the reverse of what usually happens).

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I’m playing on this actual PS1 and a tiny TV that B first used to play the game in the 90s.

The game follows soldier-turned-rebel Cloud Strife and his party on their quest to save their planet from the evil Shinra corporation and the godlike Sephiroth.  I already know the basic story, and “spoilers” for a 20-year-old game is kind of a silly concept.  I’ve also already seen Advent Children, a movie set after the game.  So I know all the characters, and I know who dies.

My goal for Monday was simply to get farther in the game than I had before (aka, leave the Shinra building), and I was successful!  B gave me a mod that started me with tons of XP and money, so combat is super easy and I don’t have to grind.  This is speeding up the game a lot, and I might actually be able to finish it this week.

As I said, B is watching me play so he can give me advice and help me when I get stuck.  He knows exactly what to do to get specific outcomes.  This is really helpful, because I’m used to relying on game journals in RPGs to remember what I’m supposed to be doing, but FFVII doesn’t have one, and I’d be wasting so much time just wandering around.

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B told me to get the one that shimmers so I get picked by the Don.  But then B fell asleep, and I couldn’t figure out how to get the tiara or makeup.  Aeris got picked.  Oh well.

My biggest challenge starting out was figuring out how to walk in a straight line, and where the paths go.  In my defense, the graphics are not what I’m used to haha.  But I’m getting better.

I’m about 14 hours into the game now, and I’ve gotten out to Midgar onto the world map, crossed an ocean, and learned more about Cloud, Barret, and Red XIII’s backstories.  Red XIII in particular is a favorite of mine; I call him “Red Shii” because of this video.

I’m really enjoying way the story is told, with lots of unfolding mystery and flashbacks.  I also already loved the music, which I’ve seen performed live, and I find myself humming along.

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Shiva, my first summon.  Aren’t the pixels great? >_<

My party is generally either Cloud/Tifa/Aeris or Cloud/RedXIII/Aeris.  Basically, a fighter, a thief, and a magic user.  The materia system is also really fun and I’m trying lots of combos with different characters.

I can already see a little why this game had such a big impact on so many young gamers, including my husband, in the 90s.  Maybe I’ll be playing the remake when it comes out, too!

Homemade dice bag

Honestly, I’m not sure I ever thought I would be at the level of geek where I sewed a bag to hold dice for a role-playing game.  But here we are.

My husband B has played Dungeons & Dragons since before I met him in middle school.  He recently started a game of Exalted, another table-top RPG, with some friends; this game requires, like, three sets of d10 dice or something ridiculous.  He wanted a separate bag for these dice, and drew up a picture of what he wanted.

dice bag

It looked pretty simple, so I told him we could make it.  We bought some fabric but then never got around to doing anything with it.

Just before last Christmas, B was gone for business for about a week, and I saw an opportunity.  I have a terrible time surprising him with anything, because he notices the tiniest details and changes, but he is excellent at surprises for me.  I figured I could make a dice bag in a couple of days (I also enlisted my mom’s help in planning).

We made a quick pattern out of newspaper, basing the size of the bag off another dice bag B uses (that one is made of chain mail…).  I cut out the colored triangles and sewed them together as shown in his design.  Then I cut a black lining approximately the same size, sewed the two “inside” faces together.  I added an extra seam at the top and threaded some black string though.

I did this bag quickly, so it’s not perfect.  My grandmother is turning over in her grave because my seams didn’t match up in some places.

But I did finish it in time, and B was definitely surprised.  He’s been using it for his Exalted dice ever since.  I didn’t add any decal to the front yet, but he’s said that instead of the dice in his sketch, he wants a yellow circle like a sun, which is the symbol of his Exalted character’s caste, Zenith.

Some action shots:

GeekyNerdy Book Club: You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day

Welcome back to the GNCB, a bi-monthly book club hosted by Geeky Musings from a Nerdy Girl.  We’re switching it up this month with some nonfiction: the memoir of Felicia Day, geek girl extraordinaire.

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So, imagine you’re at some fancy Hollywood party.  You come upon a cute redhead talking a mile a minute and making everyone laugh.

“Oh hey, you’re Felicia Day,” you say.  “How did you come to ever make The Guild/”Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog”/your YouTube channel Geek and Sundry/etc.?”

“Well, when I was a kid…” and she launches into her life story for the next five hours.

And reading this book is what that conversation would be like.  It’s one part fact, one part emotion, and two parts awkward hilarity.  Genuine Felicia Day.

I’ve been a fan of Day since I first saw her webseries The Guild circa 2008 (in fact one of my first posts on this blog was about her launching Geek and Sundry).  From her acting roles and YouTube channel I was able to learn a few things about her, such as that she plays the violin and has a brother.  But this book covers so much of her life: her homeschooled childhood, starting her dual math/music major at 16, her struggle to make it in Hollywood, which sort of led to her World of Warcraft gaming, which sort of led to her creation of The Guild, and then even up to relatively current events like her sale of Geek and Sundry and being doxxed as collateral damage in Gamergate.

I think the part of the book that impacted me the most was how she talks throughout about her mental health issues.  She speaks pretty candidly about the fact that she was actually addicted to WOW and was using it to fill a void in her life.  She talks about sitting in the car feeling like she’s going to throw up before a big meeting.  Clearly Felicia Day and I are soul sisters, firstly because we have red hair, second because we’re nerds and geeks, and third, because I know exactly what she’s talking about when she describes her anxiety, risk-aversion, obsessiveness, depression, perfectionism, and desire to avoid confrontation at all costs.

For this reason, my favorite part of the book was the middle section where she talks about turning around her WOW addiction, and about the female support group that helped motivate her to start writing The Guild, and then helped her actually create the web series (by filming it on a super tiny budget, mostly in Day’s house over a few days).  This story was seriously inspirational to me, who is staring down 30 and trying to write the same “practice” novel I’ve been working on for, like, three years now.  There were a lot of funny “coffee mug slogans” in the book, but I think my favorite is from this section:

You Can Attempt Anything

Yup, it sounds Hallmark-Card-trite, but I’m definitely understanding her meaning that you should let your desires and dreams guide and motivate you.

Another thing I related to in this book was Day’s search for her fellow geeks and how the Internet made that possible.  I myself have found “my people” on the Internet, just as much as in real life.  It started in high school when I was writing fan fiction and interacting with other writers on fanfiction.net.  And then to a lesser degree when I started playing SWTOR, the Star Wars MMO (at first I was absolutely paralyzed by the idea of even briefly grouping with any other players I didn’t know; I’m better now).  Now my blog is a major source of socialization for me.  It’s been a wonderful outlet for my geeky thoughts (which is why I started blogging), and I love being able to talk Star Wars, anime, comics, writing, gaming, etc. with a diverse group of bloggers I follow (which has been a wonderful bonus).

PHEW! Ok, this was a long review, but as you can see I really enjoyed the book, and I would highly recommend it (but maybe only if you know who Felicia Day actually is?  Don’t confuse her with Emily Blunt, haha).  If you want to check out GeekyNerdyGirl’s original book club post, head here.

Our next selection will be Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey.  I’ve already read this one and loved it (I’m currently in the middle of the 3rd book in the series), so I’m excited to revisit it…and I’m trying to get my husband to read it also. Feel free to join in if you are interested!

International Tabletop Day

What comes to your mind when I say “board games?”  Maybe something like Clue, Risk, or the dreaded Monopoly.  These are the games that Americans of my generation grew up with.

But that only scratches the surface of the current state of board games.  For the past 5-10 years, a little sub-culture of gamers has been popped up, in conjunction with the rise of “Eurogames,” like Settlers of Catan, which tend to have relatively short playtimes, simple economy-style mechanics, and emphasize strategy a little more than luck or chance.

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Playing Mysterium

I am not a competitive person, and I won’t say that I enjoy all board games (I am TERRIBLE at bluffing games and intimidated by heavy strategy/wargames).  But there are such a variety of fun games out there, it is easy to find something you like to play with your spouse, grandmother, or a group of friends.

Today is International Tabletop Day, and I’d encourage you to check out some of my favorite tabletop games: Ticket to Ride, Pandemic, Dominion, Mysterium, Splendor, Codenames, and 7 Wonders.  They have all different fun themes, and some are for groups, some are cooperative, some are card-drafting, etc.  Something for everyone!

If you want more info about different board games, check out Jaysen’s Now It’s Your Turn series on his blog for detailed descriptions with some humor.

If you want to find a meet-up in your area for Tabletop Day, go to Geek and Sundry’s Community Event locator.  If you’re in Northeast Ohio, the Board Gamers of Greater Akron (BOGA) meet at the Quirk Cultural Center in Cuyahoga Falls.  Board gamers tend to be very friendly people, so go meet some and have some fun!