No Apologies from 12:01


The 2016 Philippine elections have come and gone, but the message in 12:01 by writer Russell Molina and artist Kajo Baldisimo (TRESE) is still of great importance.

Earlier this year, online debates popped up all over the Philippine end of Facebook. Friendships called it quits, comment threads turned nasty, and the entire thing got so toxic that I wasn’t sure if things would blow over even after the winners were announced.

(Spoilers: They did, but not entirely.)

What struck me however, was how much Martial Law was discussed, though I shouldn’t have been surprised. For one, Ferdinand Marcos’ son had decided to run for Vice Presidency and while doing so, used his father’s legacy to bolster his platform. For another, candidate Rodrigo Duterte drew heavy parallels to the late ex-president, since he advocated iron fist-like methods and was also running for the Presidential seat.


Left: President-elect Rodrigo Duterte, Right: Vice Presidential candidate, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Romualdez Marcos Jr.

This is where I think 12:01 comes in, as a way to educate the public in an accessible format. It tells the story of a group of friends who are stuck after curfew during the Martial Law Era, where arrest and other violent atrocities would follow if you were caught violating a government mandate. In 12:01, Russell Molina and Kajo Baldisimo are courageous in not omitting the cruel realities of this era, and it is also commendable that they do so in a non-violent telling.

A quick disclaimer: This article is NOT spoiler free. You should exit now if you want to read the comic first. Otherwise, read right on ahead!

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Remembering Old Friends: Chun-Li

Chun-Li, Street Fighter

Welcome to “Remembering Old Friends”, a column where the writers of Girls Got Game do spotlights on video game characters that have rocked their worlds. Join us in our feelings!

Anyone who knows me might find it odd that my first entry for this column is on a Street Fighter II character. I’m unapologetically biased towards RPGs, action/adventure, and real-time strategy. My allergy towards competitive/co-op play is real: I blame it on douche moves (hello, Older Brother No. 2!). Visiting Game Over PH made me remember that my actual gateway to video games was Street Fighter II. In that same vein, the character who told me that girls could be whatever the hell they wanted to be was Chun-Li.

Chun-Li, Street Fighter II

A profile of Chun-Li from the Street Fighter II art book. Everyone knows her face even if they don’t know her name or her story. Everyone knows she’s a BAMF.

It’s impossible to talk about what Chun-Li means to me without highlighting the fact that I’m a third culture kid. After trying to tough it out in L.A., my family settled down in West Vancouver. This was before Vancouver became Hong Kong version 2.0.

This is not to say that there weren’t any Asian immigrants whatsoever. There were big communities from Asia – but they weren’t in our town. West Van was white as hell. I’d later learn that my brothers were bullied at school for not fitting in (we weren’t Asian enough, we weren’t Latino, and we definitely weren’t white). My parents had to deal with similarly shitty treatment on more than one occasion.

The milieu wasn’t the only problem. This period was the height of the exotification of everything Japanese: there was close to no stories with Filipino characters. Furthermore, memorable ladies in shows that weren’t specifically made for girls were rare – the big exception was Trini Kwan, the original Yellow Ranger in Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. Finding them in games of that time was even harder.

I was too young to know what “token female” meant. I couldn’t fully comprehend what it meant to be a colored kid in a white world. But the longing for a hero I could relate to or try to be was real. This is probably why I kept bugging my mom to rent the VHS tapes that had Miriya’s introduction in Robotech for me. I needed to watch my mecha pilot queen in action over and over.

Enter Chun-Li.

Chun-Li, Street Fighter II

Chun-Li, the strongest woman in the Street Fighter world. We affectionately call her “thunder thighs”.

I didn’t know shit about fighting games back then. It was obvious to anyone who played the game that she was the only girl in Street Fighter II. What I didn’t know was that Chun-Li was one of the youngest characters in the lot, and she was the quickest. I also didn’t know that she was the first playable female character to appear in a 1-on-1 fighting game; what I zoned in on was that she was a girl, she was amazing, and by holding that controller, I could BE her.

In this sense, Chun-Li was better than the likes of Trini, Miriya, and Psylocke. Chun-Li could be all girls, and all girls could be cute as fuck Lightning Kicking badasses taking their villains out with the trash any damned day. I think it helped, as well, that her origin story didn’t involve romance. She was a magical girl before magical girls were a thing to me, and an avenging warrior of justice. She didn’t need no Prince to save her.

Chun-Li, Street Fighter II

…Let’s be real here. Princes probably need Chun-Li more than Chun-Li needs any of them.

I have left fighting games behind outside of listening to my bros at What’s a Geek fanboy. Chun-Li, however, stays on in my heart in the oldest tier of my pantheon of heroines. She is a part of my subconscious measuring stick by which I judge pretty much any martial arts lady in stories by – which means, of course, that the bar has been set really high. They serve as a glaring reminder to all creators that there is a market for awesome girls, that gender stereotyping in marketing and the stories we tell helps no one. In a world where violence against gender and race is on the rise and immigration is a thing, this is more important than I could ever hope to give words to.

RENT: The Movie Musical Sing-along @ Catch 272!

RENT: The Movie Musical Sing-along

Girls Got Game does event plugs and recaps! If you have an event in your area that you’d like us to look into, feel free to email us at We’ll get back to you as soon as we can, and if we have correspondents in your locale, we’ll do our best to send somebody over. Let us help you play without apology!

Attention, Pinoy theater and film fans! Join your people and sing along to the RENT Movie Soundtrack this weekend at the RENT: The Movie Musical Sing-along.

RENT: The Movie Musical Sing-along

RENT: The Movie Musical Sing-along @ Catch 272! Come and join the fun.

Are you a #RENThead? Do you find yourself singing “Seasons Of Love” and hoping that people will harmonize with you? Do you want to have your chance to perform Maureen Johnson’s avante-garde “Over the Moon” in front of a live audience, regardless of whether popular opinion says you can or cannot sing?

There’s only YES! Satiate your need to sing along to Broadway musicals with at the RENT: The Movie Musical Sing-along, happening on June 26th, Sunday, at Catch 272 in Quezon City. Call dibs on which RENT song parts you want to sing, come in RENT-inspired costumes, and partake in RENT trivia! Best of all, celebrate RENT’s 20th anniversary with fellow RENT fans. Entrance is free!

Catch 272 is located at 41-B T.Gener street cor. Kamuning Rd., Quezon City. Follow their Facebook page: for more details.

Girls Got Game is still alive, we swear!

Are You Beer

Hi, guys! This is Pammu, crawling out of the void of Adulting. I’d like to apologize on behalf of the team for not producing new content in a while. Rest assured, we’re still alive and kicking!

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Delayed Impressions: Unpretty Rapstar Season 1

Unpretty Rapstar

maxresdefault-1The contestants of Unpretty Rapstar Season 1. Top row from left to right: Cheetah, Jessi, JollyV, Tymee. Bottom row from left to right: Kisum, Lil Cham, Jimin, Yuk Jidam.

I often find myself ambivalent about Kpop. Sure there are loads of artists I enjoy and keep up with and songs that are on my iPod but often I don’t participate in the fandom. In fact, I find Kpop fandom to be completely insane half the time and do my best not to engage.

Part of my issue with the industry is that there’s a strong emphasis on females being absolutely perfect and demure. With South Korea boasting some of the highest rates of plastic surgery in the world, sometimes you want something more real and more dirty. Less of the cutesy youthful long legged wonders of idol girl groups but a bad bitch trying to carve her way in the world, unafraid.

It wouldn’t be right of me to write an article talking about females in Korean hip-hop without laying out the state of affairs. Every kpop group, male and female, tends to have someone who occupies the position of rapper in the group. These rappers tend to have a verse or bridge in a title song and often aren’t very good. So rappers wishing to make it big have a choice of either joining an idol group or doing the slow grind as a member of the underground scene. There are very few options in between, especially for women. The last solo female rapper who made it big was Tasha aka Yoon Mi-rae, whose story of being half black and half Korean made for a great overcoming the odds narrative. Her song Black Happiness struck a chord with girls who didn’t fit with societal ideals of beauty.

Enter Unpretty Rapstar. Unpretty Rapstar answers a gap in the market that I fell for, hook line and sinker. It is a survival rap competition by Mnet with talented female rappers vying for the opportunity to show their skills on tracks done by some of Korea’s finest hip hop producers. The concept is similar to Mnet’s other show Show Me The Money and in fact, some of the contestants had previously auditioned and been unsuccessful in Show Me The Money.

This is not to say that Unpretty Rapstar is real in any way. It’s a reality TV show, so it’s scripted to hell and back but it’s the great kind of unreality I like so I will give it and it’s weirdly named title a pass. The logic behind the name Unpretty Rapstar was that instead of focusing on the looks of these women, we’re encouraged to look at their swagger and to listen to them. These were girls who were actively going against the grain by not being… pretty? And here’s where it gets slightly baffling, as I find nearly every contestant pretty in a way that is real. They’re closer to the reality of girls who exist in the real world rather than the glitzy world of showbiz. Hence why they’re unpretty? Or something?

Either way, Unpretty Rapstar had a great premise and being a relatively short series with 8 episodes, I binged watched the entire thing in one go. I had no regrets in doing so.

The contestants are a mix of underground rappers, music industry veterans and previous Show Me The Money contestants. Cheetah, Tymee and JollyV were all names in underground hip hop. Jessi and Jimin were pros in the business; Jessi being a member of Lucky J and having been active since 2005 while Jimin was the leader of AOA, arguably one of the most popular groups in Kpop at the moment. Meanwhile Lilcham, Yuk Jidam and Kisum were looking for a chance to prove themselves on reality TV again, having failed the first time round on the largely male dominated Show Me The Money.

The claws come out early, with the girls judging each other as they discover the competition and introduce themselves to each other. The judging gets worse when they all show off their skills in rap on the spot. It’s catty, sassy and there are some catchy tunes.

The Introduction Cypher Featuring The Ladies of Unpretty Rapstar

Not only is the drama rife from the get go, but there are team challenges and diss battles a plenty. While it’s produced and scripted to a certain degree, there’s still an organic feel to the whole thing. We see Jimin, the idol contestant deal with being dismissed right off the bat and crying in the confessional interviews, desperate to prove that she’s not just a pretty dancing singing doll. Jessi is hoping to revive her career to keep doing the thing she loves and she does so in a blisteringly honest fashion, cutting down anyone who dares to challenge her. JollyV and Tymee’s feud from the real world carrying over into the show. Cheetah’s quiet tenacity, wisdom and spectacular eyeliner. Yuk Jidam wanting to show that her age is no barrier to some sick rhymes. Kisum and Lilcham wanting to prove that they had soul rather than just being pretty faces. Meanwhile host and veteran rapper San E serves as the anchor, instigator and comic relief between all the drama – skilfully delivering the challenge details and critiquing the girls with a hint of mischief to him.

The skill levels between the girls are pretty variable but that’s just par for the course. Lilcham’s lack of confidence in her rhymes means that she gets the boot and is eventually replaced by Jace from Miss $ (???), who is similarly dreadful. JollyV only lasts until the end not because she does well, but she does just enough to remain out of trouble. Yuk Jidam writes like a teenager, with metaphors of a teenager but spits them out with such ferocity that I want to see her in 5 years time with more experience. Jimin’s lyrics are weak but her delivery stands out. Jessi is just a threat all round, but uses far too much English for a Korean based audience. Cheetah just assassinates all round while Tymee struggles to keep her emotions and a professional face on while rapping. I felt for these girls. I wanted to root for all of them, but there were some that I felt myself drawn to more than others.

This all culminates of course, with a pretty great compilation at the end of it. My advice would be to not listen to it if you’re thinking of watching the show as every track has a story behind it.

The success of Unpretty Rapstar has led to Volume 2, a second season being produced. All the girls are now more recognizable then they have been ever before. It’s a great story of females doing well and succeeding on their own terms, with some crazy catchy tunes coming out of it. If you’re in the market for some reality tv, then Unpretty Rapstar fits the bill quite easily.

Geek Word Wednesdays: A Definition of Meta in Fandom

Welcome to Geek Word Wednesdays, where members of Girls Got Game! will be featuring common terms relevant to geeks everywhere, and to a more critical discussion on geek identity, geek culture, and geek discourse. If you’ve ever got a word that you’d like us to study, let us know!

So we kicked off our #GeekWordWednesdays column with the definition of “geek”, which is the best term to discuss in light of what we’re trying to do here. This was followed up a few weeks later with the definition of “fandom”, which moved our discussion from talking about the individual to the community. Now we’re going to take a look at the definition of meta in fandom, within the specific context of the works people are fans of, fan works themselves, and discussion within fandom circles.

Throughout the course of my research for this article, I realized that there is no unifying definition for “meta”, which is interesting in itself. I’m pretty sure, as well, that lot of geeks don’t even know what meta entails – it seems as though it’s only popular as a term within certain online circles, while other circles either avoid using the term or aren’t aware that it exists at all. As such, I plan on constructing this definition from my position as a fan and literary/cultural studies scholar, based on what I’ve dug up online, what I’ve seen in the communities that I participate in, and from the critical opinions of other scholars. This, therefore, is less an attempt at standardizing a definition, and more like an informed opinion that readers can use as a launching point for further discussions.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s proceed!

Definition of Meta, for the Definition of Meta in Fandom

Etymology Online’s entry (pictured above) illuminates the specific context behind the use of the prefix in tandem with academic study. There is no mention of its use in the context of fandom and discourse within fandom. On the other hand, has something a little more specific to our interests:

Meta describes a concept which is an abstraction from another concept, used to complete or add to the latter. It is derived from the Greek preposition and prefix meta- (μετά-) meaning “after”, or “beyond”.
In fandom, particularly LiveJournal-based fandom, meta is used to describe a discussion of fanworks of all kinds, fan work in relation to the source text, fanfiction characters and their motivation and psychology, fan behavior, or fandom itself.
Meta or a meta essay can also be a fan-authored piece of non-fiction writing that discusses any of the above topics.

Interestingly enough, the next section of the article is titled “Not All Fans Agree on the Definition”. Surprise!

“From Metaphysics to Teen Wolf Meta: The Evolution of a Word” takes a look at meta from a philosophical (phenomenological?) standpoint, tracking the evolution of its use from its literary origins. On my end, I’d like to frame my definition of meta in fandom within this context for one simple reason: everything fandom-related can be viewed as a text that one can analyze. The works themselves, regardless of their medium, are stories with elements that we can study in parts and as a whole. The interactions between fans also have their own “narratives” that we can look at. There are patterns we can observe, textual gaps we can speculate on, subtext we can attack, and the like.

On that note, let’s talk about two terms: metafiction and metanarrative. Wikipedia defines “metafiction” as

…a literary device used self-consciously and systematically to draw attention to a work’s status as an artifact. It poses questions about the relationship between fiction and reality, usually using irony and self-reflection.

Metanarrative, on the other hand, is “a ‘narrative’ or ‘story’ is used for what we might ordinarily call a ‘theory’ about the way the world operates. Many such ‘theories’ are ordinarily taken to be the objective ‘truth’.” (The Literary Link)

Based on my personal observations, when some fans “do meta” online, they do a mix of metafiction and metanarrative. Their discussions count as metafiction, in a way, because they’re providing MORE fictional aspects to a fictional work, which is either grounded on their reading of the text at hand or their personal preferences as a fan of the series, character, or pairing. Fans know, of course, that there might not be any basis for their theories or interpretations whatsoever beyond their own opinion. Many of them don’t care. Some of them, in fact, continue to believe in their take on the character/series/pairing even AFTER the original creators of the work introduce elements that disprove their interpretations.

Image Reference of Mark Hamill, Definition of Meta in Fandom

Opinions regarding Mark Hamill’s statement on Luke Skywalker’s sexuality have been mixed. Some people feel that it was “revolutionary”, others weren’t happy with it. Still others were apathetic, because at the end of the day? For some fans, it doesn’t matter what “official voices” in their fandom have to say on any of the things that they love. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Disney, taken from this article)

This is REALLY relevant, I feel, to blog-based roleplayers, many of whom create “headcanons” for the characters that they roleplay from their fandoms. No two Roy Mustangs are alike: the “muse” of a roleplayer (slang for the character that a fan has decided to roleplay) is an artifact that a fan constantly constructs and deconstructs. RPers “canon review” for their characters, mining the source text for the sole purpose of depicting a character of their choice as “accurately” as they can manage, determining what is “useful” to them and what isn’t, locating points of ambiguity that they can exploit in a plausible (or, at times, downright gratuitous) fashion. It’s sort of like how several actors will all have different takes on the same concept, with just a few points of convergence.

A DWRP's Muse List, for the Definition of Meta in Fandom

Here’s a screenshot of the muse list of a roleplayer on DWRP. Using HTML codes, the roleplayer created a table whose cells each link back to the journals that she uses for each of the characters that she roleplays. They are all from different canons, with different levels of complexity with regard to their portrayal in their respective series. Furthermore, of interest is the tag “!63”, which means that those are genderbent interpretations of the characters mentioned above.
Making a muse list is common practice in DWRP, especially since it helps other roleplayers find someone to play with. You can look other examples here and here.

As implied above, however, meta may also involve other aspects of the series outside of characters and relationships between characters. When I posted an open call to share their definition or understanding of the word “meta” on my Plurk account, two of my old buds from DWRP (hello, Sabriel and Momo!) mentioned that meta is the providing of details or conjecture on the fictional world or history of a fictional world that the author or canon was vague about, or did not mention at all.

I’ll continue my theme of using Fullmetal Alchemist as an example by mentioning the country of Amestris. Many fans believe that Amestris is meant to be Hiromu Arakawa’s take on an alternate post-World War I/pre-World War II Germany, framed within the context of how the world might have changed with the existence of alchemy. There is nothing specifically stated about this, and yet an analysis of the narrative, a study of the aesthetics of design behind Amestris, and a close look at the details that readers are provided with lend itself well to this interpretation.

Map of Amestris (for the Definition of Meta in Fandom)

Amestris is, in fact, the warmongering country in Fullmetal Alchemist. The conflicts it engages in with its neighboring countries provide the basis for a lot of the tension. Many of these fictional wars can be viewed as allegories for historical conflicts.

Peter, Kuri and Anne – three of my scholar friends – have more to add on meta and how it is used among fans. All of them framed meta as a form of literary analysis – specifically, something akin to a “closed reading” of the text at hand by looking, as mentioned above, at the elements of the piece.

Performing a closed reading of a text in literary studies means taking a Formalist approach to a story. By looking at the elements of fiction – plot, character, setting, and so on – and seeing how the author uses each of these elements, a reader can formulate an interpretation of what the story “means”. Since it focuses on the raw elements of a story, closed readings are always the basis upon which someone can interpret a work of fiction. Other theoretical frameworks – like, let’s say feminism – rely on the groundwork set by a solid closed reading.

Academic literary analysis is, of course, meant to be as “critical” as possible, where the analyst’s own personal opinions and biases are not meant to factor in on the discussion. However, Anne noted that while literary analysis and meta are used interchangeably, meta distinguishes itself precisely BECAUSE of the personal slant it possesses:

…you go a step further and posit details that do not exist in the canon itself. An example: the tumblr post I saw recently that requested “meta” on Steve Rogers and the USO girls, what his interactions (outside of the canon that we saw) would be like, why would he act that way, what would he know, etc. extrapolating from canon to a point where we posit these ‘what about this detail that isn’t ever brought up in canon’

Meta, therefore, relies initially on a closed reading, and then extends outward using what is likely a mix of the fan’s personal preferences and the fan’s need for wish fulfillment as born by their love for the canon in question.

Yet ANOTHER strain was cited by Peter, who pointed out that people also claim to be doing meta when they’re discussing fandoms themselves. It’s a “confused” term, which is probably the impression that you all have been left with throughout the course of this article.

How ever it is used, meta discussions are grounded in fandom and discussions between fans who “speak the same language” of canons and personal preferences. Its critical edge varies from fan to fan, and its relevance waxes and wanes according to the practices of individual fan communities. It’s possible that we’ll never end up having a “proper” definition of meta in fandom, but that does beg the question of whether we even need one. After all, inasmuch as providing a definition means laying out the groundworks for further understanding, specificity can be restrictive.

Flashback Fridays: Me and My Playstation – A Girl’s Story


This round of Flashback Fridays is the republication of my love note to the Playstation, a console line that is dear to my heart. It’s been spruced up a bit and edited to be a little more timely, especially since it was published for Playstation’s 20th Anniversary. The original can be found on What’s a Geek.

On September 10, 2015, my Facebook and Twitter feeds exploded with news of the PlayStation celebrating its 20th Anniversary. I took a moment out to feel Great Shame™ at not saving the date, especially since the PlayStation – all versions of it, really – is close to my heart.

So begins the story of my life with consoles, also known as “My Shoujo Journey™ With PlayStation”. Back when I was still a wee thing in Vancouver, most of my afternoons after school involved sitting around with another Nirvana song blowing out the play room speakers, watching my four older brothers dick around in Doom on the computer, or try to kill each other in a round of Street Fighter II on the old Super Nintendo. The SNES fascinated me, mostly because it meant that more than one person could take it for a spin at the same time. In a large family like mine where we all like to feel included in each other’s activities, that was a good thing.

Chun Li art from Street Fighter II

Chun Li, by the way, was one of my first video game heroes. I didn’t know shit about fighting games, but it didn’t matter. She looked so cool to me, and was pretty much all that I wanted to be before Macross and Myrna made me want to be a veritech pilot.

The only time, however, that I started to play video games in earnest was when we bought a PlayStation (what we now call the PSOne) in 1995. My parents made it a joint graduation gift between me and Older Brother Number Four (henceforth abbreviated as “Older Bro No. 4”), because conveniently he had just graduated from high school and I had graduated from grade school. The first game that I got to play was Final Fantasy VII. I still remember what it was like, at ten, to listen to that opening sequence, and descend upon the streets of Midgar.

Speaking of that opening sequence…


Anyway, playing games on any console was always a collaborative experience for us. All of us siblings had a strong preference for single-player games: we had the tendency to lose interest in fighting games, racing games and other co-op experiences very quickly. What we all shared a love for, however, was a damned good story. As such, the entire lifespan of our PlayStation was drained away on RPG title after RPG title after strategy game after adventure game, with the likes of Suikoden II, Final Fantasy Tactics, Tales of Destiny, Xenogears, and Breath of Fire III becoming group experiences like no other. We’d play each other’s save files (especially when one of us managed to commit the Capital Sin of accidentally saving over somebody else’s progress), change hands on the controller whenever one of us couldn’t get past a boss fight or figure out this one puzzle, and share many a sleepless night in the common areas of the house, feelsing over particularly emotional scenes in our favorite titles. In fact, one memory that really stands out for me is the first run that us siblings ever had with Breath of Fire III. Older Bro No. 4, Younger Brother and I stayed up until sunrise in order to get through the very last sequence that you ever have of Kid!Ryu and the death of his innocence. The drama of the moment was interrupted by a cockroach flying over to casually perch on Older Bro No. 4’s shoulder, because it just had to be in on the Feelings.

The PSX came next (the slimmer first-gen PlayStation), in the form of yet another joint graduation gift between Older Bro No. 4, me, and Younger Brother all celebrating the end of college, high school, and grade school. Because all of my brothers were starting to get busy with Adult Life, the PSX was left to ruin my heart, my grades, and quite possibly my social life.  The PlayStation 2 (this time a reward for the website that I threw together for my father) continued this trend, especially since I could never get over the HUGE leap in graphics and gameplay that it made from its first-generation counterpart’s humble pixels and simply-toned music. Few things compare to that first moment where you saw the winds of Spira wash over grasslands that look so real that you almost want to reach through the screen and touch it, or the “be still, my beating heart” hitch of admiring Solid Snake’s beautifully rendered ass (or Raiden’s impossibly pale naked butt, linked below) shaking itself just for you on your screen…


I was probably one of the last gamers ever to get on the PlayStation 3. I spent the entirety of my college existence slugging it out on the PS2, juggling the drama llama that is university life with the occasional table top session, and having a good run in the Versus TCG and Mechwarrior strategy game scenes down in Metro Manila. Like all of the other PlayStations before it, the arrival of the PS3 marked a milestone in my life. Unlike all of the other PlayStations before it, however, the PS3 was something I acquired all on my own. And what a machine it was, given that once again, it was a huge departure from its predecessors.

(Cough, cough, boobs and ass in HD all day erryday, cough.)

While there aren’t a lot of titles that I ended up sharing with the rest of my brothers in the same way that we used to, the story of the PS3 in my life is definitely a continuing story of two siblings. At least half of the titles that I have at home were completed through a joint effort between me and the Younger Brother Unit, and each one always ended in a long session of processing imaginary feelings over cigarettes. Family car rides and drinking sessions still end up devolving into discussions on the finer points of this or that franchise, and recalling the best clusterfucks we’ve had in our gaming lives. We’ve both shared a lot of geeky things together, but the rest of our experiences are rather transient in comparison to all of our console stuff. It’s right up there with our New World of Darkness campaigns.

On another note, more of my defining moments as a geek were definitely found through my experiences with the PS3, especially since I now hope to be an active member of the scene, either as a fandom studies scholar or as an actual producer of games for other people to play in the future. Case in point: three of my six years of teaching Literature 13 at Ateneo de Manila University always had 2-3 weeks devoted to me lugging my PS3 around campus three days in a week, and letting my students play Heavy Rain together.

Heavy Rain, the Finger Scene

Spoilers: a lot of screaming happened during this part of the game.

TL;DR: families that play video games together stay together, and I have a lot of Feelings over PlayStation Things that I insist on sharing with everyone.

Within this month, I’ll have enough money to buy a PlayStation 4. I’ve got my eyes set on that Limited Edition unit for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. My PlayStation 3 is currently on loan to a fellow MGS fan who never got to play Metal Gear Solid IV due to the evils of platform exclusivity. I miss it, though, in between the madness of tabletop and online roleplaying and good old Adult Existence. PlayStation Anything has been a constant presence in my life. I’m looking forward to returning to my roots really, really soon.


POSTSCRIPT: I didn’t end up getting the limited edition PS4, but das okay. We’re not done with our run with Phantom Pain, and I’ve magpied from Dragon Age: Inquisition in favor of being Geralt of fucking Rivia. The little brother has been doing runs of The Last of Us with our friends from Ateneo – the feelings stay sharp every damned time. Oh, and my PS3 is now with another friend who wants to play all the things before I loan it off to another set of siblings who are dear to my heart.

Which consoles do you have fond memories of? Let me know in the comments!

Geek Word Wednesdays: The Definition of Fandom

Keep Calm

Welcome to Geek Word Wednesdays, where members of Girls Got Game! will be featuring common terms relevant to geeks everywhere, and to a more critical discussion on geek identity, geek culture, and geek discourse. If you’ve ever got a word that you’d like us to study, let us know!

Attempting to define what “geek” means goes hand-in-hand with discussing the definition of fandom, and what fandom is. Google, as always, provides the curious with a good place to start.

The Definition of Fandom via Google

Etymology Online provides a point of origin for the word, pinning its first use in the year 1903. Fandom thus combines two words, “fan” + “-dom”. Other sources claim that the suffix is shortened version of the word “kingdom” (which you’ll see below), but I find this explanation – also from Etymology Online – a lot more comprehensive:

[“-dom” is an] …abstract suffix of state, from Old English dom “statute, judgment” (see doom (n.)). Already active as a suffix in Old English (as in freodom, wisdom). Cognate with German -tum (Old High German tuom).

Back in 2002, Dave Wilton of Word Origins provided a definition of fandom that was less cut-and-dry than what we’ve presented above:

…fandom, n., a base of enthusiasts for a particularly activity, book, movie, or television series; originally from baseball; from fan + [king]dom; (1903).

Fandom is quite a sub-cultural phenomenon. The word dates to the turn of the 20th century and was originally used to refer to baseball fans. But it achieves it greatest linguistic heights in the realm of science fiction. Science fiction fans have their own lingo in referring to themselves and to their activities.

Fans engage in criticism and discussion. They write their own stories, or fan fiction. They publish web sites and magazines devoted to their subject. All this activity generates a vocabulary and jargon unique to these sub-cultural groups.

So in a single word, we’re getting the sense that fandom is simultaneously an individual state of being, an actual community (or sense of community), and something that involves discernment or judgment. I’m sure you all know just as well as I do that it’s not nearly as paradoxical as it seems. As the old saying goes, like attracts like: people connect easily over common interests. Connecting with each other is precisely what fans do using the common ground of the stuff that they enjoy. Being a fan also entails being enthusiastic enough to discuss their interests and interrogate aspects of these interests that bother them. Said interrogation also includes discussing the behavior, opinions, and works of other enthusiasts, and of the creators of their favorite things. Thus we can say that fandom is participatory. A fan doesn’t just absorb the source material: a fan tries to include herself in an exchange of ideas about the material at hand, either by talking about it (see also every single social media platform out there) or by writing or drawing back (i.e. fanart, fanfiction).

Last year, BBC wrote an excellent article about how Sherlock Holmes was instrumental in the formation of modern fandom. Arthur Conan Doyle’s work touched the hearts of so many people that when he attempted to put an end to the series, hundreds of fans wrote him letters on the matter. This was likely the first incident in Western fandom where fan feedback contributed to the narrative flow of a story.


If you’d like another example, here’s an image of the promotional ad that allowed Batman fans to decide Jason Todd’s fate in the 1987-1988. (Image taken from Wikipedia.)

Later down the line, it became common practice for comic book companies or television stations to publish the addresses of their office in the spirit of getting readers/viewers to write to them. Some comic books published letters and fanart of interest in their issues. In a similar vein, Japanese manga publications put together things like character rankings, a poll that the likes of Shonen Jump continues to release yearly together with  beautifully rendered artwork in their magazine. The rise of the internet, however, drastically changed the face of fandom by making it easier for fans to connect to each other, exchange fan works, and express their views. The internet is also the reason why fandoms have become global communities. Such ease of communication paved the way for bigger conventions, faster feedback for creators and companies, near endless possibilities on trading/creating fan merchandise, and much more expansive discussions on issues that concerned enthusiasts.

Social Media & Fandom

Facebook has only recently become a popular place for fan communities to place themselves. Most fans make it a habit to keep their RL identities separate from their online identities, and flock to the likes of 4chan, Reddit, and Plurk. Some of these platforms, we note, specifically cater to fan works, like and AO3 for fanfiction, DA and Tumblr for fanart, and Dreamwidth for blog-based RP.

Another major effect of fandom moving into the digital space of the internet was a rise in new forms of fan works, ones whose formats were inconceivable before social media platforms and fan-specific online communities existed. From “fan soundtracks” to blog-based role playing starring one’s favorite characters to publishing crossovers in the form of web comics to uploading fan music videos on YouTube to developing erotic mobile games, us geeks could express our love in amazing new ways to an audience far beyond our friends, or to the creators themselves.

Anne Rice

…Which isn’t something that all creators appreciate. Book lovers may recall Anne Rice’s hardline stance against fanfiction of her works. It stands in contrast to the far friendlier stances of the likes of Neil Gaiman, or against the approach of people like Josh Whedon, who was known to integrate fan theories into his series in the past.

This is definitely one of the contributing factors behind the rise of geeks and geekdom in mainstream culture.  In spite of the fact that they are often rife with problems similar to what plagues “real life” geek circles, participating in a fandom (even if said participation involved lurking in the background and consuming the works of other fans) made fans feel less alone. Such camaraderie has the potential to reduce feelings of alienation, and is often enough of affirmation for enthusiasts – especially the young ones in high school and college – that they’re not all that strange for liking what they do. Barring that, it at least assured them that they weren’t the only weird ones out there.

On the other end of the spectrum, however, there’s now a huge potential for cyberbullying within fandom communities, so much so that the bullying becomes a “public” spectacle within the digital space.

An RP Secret from LJ, circa 2011

Pictured above is a “roleplay secret” targeted, anonymously, at an LJ RPer (circa 2011). Back when Roleplay Secrets was active on Livejournal, the comments sections were often filled with speculation on any one “secret”. We note that as of this date, sites similar to Roleplay Secrets exist on Tumblr.

It’s common practice in blog-based RP, we note, for “anon” posts to provide a space for players to express their anger, upset, or disdain for other players and for games. The intense gossip generated by these communities causes many online roleplayers to abandon the hobby entirely. This is concrete evidence against the assumption that online fan communities should be typically friendly because of the unifying factor of common interests. Other examples of how political fan communities can be exist in the comments section of places like YouTube. Discussions there can get as intense and as unfriendly as exchanges on “real life” or “real issues” can be.

Because of the many political, sociological, and cultural implications of the rise of fandom, scholars like Henry Jenkins began focusing their studies on fans and fan communities. There’s much to be said about Fandom Studies, which is one of the newer fields of academic discourse. It’s an interdisciplinary field by default because of the multitude of factors that a Fandom Studies scholar has to consider: the fan as an individual, fan communities and their interactions with each other, the cultural artifacts that fans are enthusiastic about, and fan works. And that stuff is just specific to fandom. Pile race, gender politics, sexuality on top, and you’ve got a hot mess of questions that you likely won’t be able to exhaust in your lifetime as a critic.

Since it’s inexplicably tied in with pop culture, Fandom Studies constantly faces the issue of legitimacy against more traditional or “more important” fields of study. This is a little ironic to me, especially since it is clear in recent movie trends alone that big name companies consider the geek market a lucrative demographic to cater to. If that – together with the aforementioned cyberbullying – isn’t proof of how important it is to understand fans on a sociological/psychological level, I don’t know what is.

Fandom, for many of us, is a huge place that is equal parts intimidating as fuck as it is wonderful. Being a fan is simultaneously something that a geek is, something that a geek lives through, and something that a geek does. However one decides to view fandom or participate in fan activities, it’s clear that the existence of our fan communities and the noise we generate within them is making waves in the “real world”.


Gendered Marketing Needs To Stop


In the UK and Ireland, it’s common practise to give, consume and generally partake in large chocolate eggs. You’re not allowed to eat them until Easter, but even then – you knew they were in the house. They range from being very posh and fancy to simply larger versions of your favourite chocolate bar. Either way, everyone gets to have one.

I recently went to my local supermarket to see what kinds of insane Easter Eggs I’d find this year, and my eyes saw these monstrosities in front of me.

Why, Kinder Surprise, Why??

It seems like chocolates were not safe from the menace that is gendered marketing and that annoys me greatly.

Chocolate is one of those things that I find deeply universal – or at least I’d like to believe so, Yorkie bars aside. But as Bic showed, you can gender anything. Including pens. Shock, horror.

“But Kimi,” you say, “It doesn’t say FOR BOYS or FOR GIRLS on either one, so a boy can pick up a Disney Princess one and a girl can pick up a Justice League one no problem.”

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

It’s not the kids who are picking these eggs up, it’s the mothers and fathers who have been inundated with this stuff from before their kids were even anything more than a ball of cells. These Easter Eggs are coded with the telltale signs leading to one gender or the other. Blue. Pink. Straight, clean lines and stark colours. Soft, floaty sparkles and gentle gradients. The word Princess on the Disney Princess egg being the focal point of the actual chocolate’s packaging. Meanwhile the male orientated Justice League fails to give any nod to Wonder Woman, arguably one of the most important women in comic books ever. If you didn’t know any better, you would have thought that the Justice League was a boys only club that featured only Batman and Superman.

You should all know by this point that gendered marketing is not great – it reinforces stereotypes, the gender binary and yet advertisers continue to do it because someone has it in their heads that this is the only way that units will move. It permeates how we consume and interact with popular culture. Geekdom is decidely not safe from it, especially not in our beloved toys and figures. We know all about the controversy around the lack of Rey toys when Star Wars: The Force Awakens hit cinemas despite the film being decidedly centred around her. There continues to remain a lack of Black Widow toys and merchandise and we’ve yet to see whether Mark Ruffalo’s polite words about the lack of toys have reached any of those at Marvel/Disney.

Even grimmer still is the prospect that these toy sales are part of a vicious cycle that feed into media creation. Using a TV series/anime/cartoon/manga to sell units of toys is not unheard of – many a popular series is based on it ranging from Marvel Disc Wars, Bratz, Monster High to Yu-Gi-Oh. Paul Dini’s tell all interview of how network execs cancelled Young Justice and Green Lantern: The Animated Series based on one principle: executives were spurning female viewers because they believe girls and women don’t buy the shows’ toys. Boys bought toys and only boys bought toys. Girls didn’t buy toys therefore they weren’t worth investing in. But because girls didn’t see any toys that appealed to them, they didn’t buy. And so the cycle continues.

Similarly, one of my own personal peeves regarding toy sales and a televised product is that of the WWE’s belts. For those of you who are unfamiliar with wrestling, the WWE has a number of belts which the wrestlers regularly compete for. The belts have an air of prestige about them, or they’re supposed to at any rate.

This is the current WWE Championship, the biggest and most prestigious prize of them all.


Notice that the belt is a large weighty affair that features a considerable amount of gold and crystal. The side plates are customisable, intended to help emphasise the champion’s individuality. This is the guy who is at the top of the pile and the belt shows it. I would not like to mess with whoever is holding this belt. (For the record, at the time of writing it is a Mr. Triple H.) I hesitate to call it a masculine belt, but it does have qualities that are normally associated with masculinity.

It’s a similar affair for the Intercontinental Belt, the next prestigious belt down the line.

The design is more stylish, features a white strap and more of a white-ish gold. It’s my favourite of the current belt designs because it’s less blocky than the WWE Championship and it’s sleeker. The Intercontinental Champion is meant to be an up and comer who is on their way to the WWE Championship and it perfectly encapsulates that.

Belts then, are meant to have character. They’re meant to emphasise the kinds of qualities that champion has to have. So what does WWE have for its fighting ladies?


This monstrosity. The Divas Championship is a garish pink, with a big embossed butterfly that looks completely out of place on the belt itself, nevermind if you compare it to the previous two examples. The side plates look like they’ve been done by someone with their first bejewelling kit and the swirls are completely offputting. Everything looks cluttered and you’re just overwhelmed with the pink. It looks like a toy. It looks like an accessory rather than an actual symbolic prize.

This is the crux of the matter. WWE makes a fortune in licensing and making toys of its performers and properties. The boys are going to buy the men’s belts, no problem. But how do you get the girls to buy the Divas belt? The solution that WWE has come up with, was to make the belt look as toy-like as possible – which means that the current crop of WWE ladies are fighting for a belt that was intentionally made to sell to girls because (here we go again), girls don’t buy these things unless it’s specifically marketed to them.

It’s not like WWE is making a belt that is incapable of looking good but still displaying the kinds of traits its holder is meant to possess, the Women’s Championship of WWE’s developmental brand NXT is testament to that.

The NXT Women’s Championship belt is a cool silver on a black strap with lightly pink Swarovski-esque crystals. The belt looks flexible yet with some weight behind it, plus it’s very sleek. The pink is not garish but is the kind of mild nod to traditional feminine qualities that I have less of a problem with. The point being, it doesn’t look like a toy. It looks like a belt, a prize. Something worth fighting for.

These things are so ingrained, so deeply embedded in the way that these kinds of protests seem moot. But they aren’t. I want to emphasise that there is a constant need to talk about these things and to not let up on talking about them. It’s important to say that these things need to be changed and that we can work towards a more gender neutral norm that celebrates the differences and strengths in the sexes and genders, rather than reinforcing harmful stereotypes. We live in an age where thoughtful discourse can lead to productive and fruitful things happening. But these things are slow, and require time.

For now, I’ll buy the decidedly less gendered chocolate – no matter how much I want the Justice League surprise.

Girls Got Game Needs You!

Art by Jobo Nacpil

In case it wasn’t obvious before, Girls Got Game has returned from the dead. We’d love to have more contributors, editors, graphic designers & illustrators, and social media bunnies. We’re looking for sensible straight girl members, LGBTQI members, and sensible straight guy writers from all over the world. Some quick facts:

  • GGG is, generally, an international girl/LGBTQI-oriented space. We’re out to provide another platform in which we can discuss the things we love and the issues that concern us.
  • It’s also meant to be less about event coverage and news, and MORE about reviews, interviews, honest geek talk, critical analyses, fanjizzing, and yelling at what annoys us properly instead of having to be nice (yes, that’s a thing). Granted, if our volunteers feel like talking about a geek event in their locale, they’re more than welcome to use our site as their platform.
  • We’re affiliated with What’s a Geek, GMA SciTech, and Noisy, Noisy Man.
  • We’re not expecting a high level of commitment (not yet). It’s more of a post if you like and when you like sort of thing!

Interested parties can email us at Please introduce yourself to her, and give her a sample of your work if you’re going for graphics, or a sample article if you’re interested in becoming an editor/contributor. Please note, of course, that if you’re coming from the Philippines, your application to Girls Got Game may also be considered by the administration team of What’s a Geek.

Girls Got Game is also looking for affiliates. If you have a blog, a podcast, a YouTube channel or whatever else that you think aligns with our interests, contact Pam as well. Affiliates of Girls Got Game will get constant plugs of their content on our Facebook Page, and on our future Twitter account.

If you have questions, you’re more than welcome to comment on this article, or PM our Facebook Page.

Help Girls Got Game stay awesome. Spread the word!


Credit for the art we used in our featured image goes to Jobo Nacpil!

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