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Popmatic Printcast: Chainmail Bikini

July 6, 2016

The Popmatic crew is recovering from July 4th indulgences. As you anxiously await our four-part Summer Challenge series, check out this comics anthology made by women gamers.

Chances are you or someone you know played a game over the July 4th holiday whether of the video, board, or LARP variety. Okay, chances are they didn’t LARP, but you never know. Stereotypes about games and people who play them are being aggressively torched. Evidence: Chainmail Bikini: The Anthology of Women Gamers. Don’t be put off the the title. It’s not this. It is a comics anthology by and about women who game including trans women. For every different style of game there is a different style of comic. If you don’t like one, don’t worry, they’re short. Long time Off the Shelfers know I’m fascinated by narrative portrayals of gaming. All of it’s thirty-six authors have different take on how to deal with the in-game-story versus real-life-play problem. “Rush of Blood” by Hazel Newlevant solves the problem by syncing the in-game-story and real-life-play for a few exhilarating moments. You’ll have to read it to find out how. Perhaps evidence of my age, I prefer the roleplaying game stories. Ubiquity of Pokemon stories causes me to wonder if it is a younger generation's Dungeons & Dragons. Is the Nintendo DS the new d20? It’s not a question for me to answer. The authors in Chainmail Bikini answer it at least thirty-six times. And about that horrible title, Maggie Siegel-Berele relates a story about some jerk asking her to wear one during a LARP. She was horrified. Though the title makes for a fun re-appropriation, such cringe inducing stories are not what populate Chainmail Bikini. This is not pain porn. The vast majority of stories are life-affirming and joyful. I recommend it to anyone interested in games or indie comics.

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