So I get to kind of be the odd one out on some of these. I live up in Portland an everyone else lives in Northern California, so I don’t get to spend much time with them. I haven’t even met Angel or Jess in person, and it wasn’t until a couple months ago that I met Abbie. She and Dustin came up for my birthday ♡ but I have yet to get to hug Jess and Angel despite how much I’d love to. So for me, much or our friendships come from wonderful conversations and just getting to know each other through gameplay. So here we go my cast love letters:
Abbie is my level 2 girl crush (if you need a reference to this link: here). She is such a majestic human, and I spend probably too much time and resources trying to get her to move to Portland, just so I can bother her constantly.1 That is what it’s like to be my friend ladies and gentlemen. I am extra. When Abbie was up here for my birthday this year she was like existing next to a ray of sunshine. She is so thoughtful, kind, and just so snuggly and cuddly.2 It was such a wonderful gift just having her up here. It was so much fun hanging out with her and Dustin, and the memories are some I will cherish forever.
Abbie’s ability to just shift into her character for this campaign is kind of awe-inspiring. Pippa’s sweet little southern accent and just general demeanor are so perfect, and I hope she survives forever (despite the fact that I have a huge crush on her back up character who is also incredible). Playing with Abbie is so easy. She goes with the flow so well and is a force to be reckoned with. She is really the one that keeps us all grounded and sane. I am like existing next to an emotional and mental tornado; my life is a crazy hectic mess, and I’m pretty much always drowning in it. Sometimes that means I’m a grumpy humbug jerk, but Abbie has this way of just making everything better. It’s both amazing and super annoying because sometimes I just want to stay mad damnit.
I remember when I first met Abbie via roll20 and her little face popped up I was super intimidated. She was just SO confident and pretty and generally amazing. I was just kind of always in awe of her. It slowly wore off over time, and now I feel like my confidence can compete with hers at least a little bit.
Abbie is also one of the few people I’ve met who cares about books as much as I do.3 When I took her and Dustin to Powell’s Books here in Portland just watching her face light up in wonder was in my top 5 favorite parts of the weekend. She, of course, left with an armload of books and took all of my recommendations very seriously.4
To wrap this up because I’ll just keep gushing over how amazing Abbie is, I will just say that I hope she knows I’m never going to stop trying to get her to move closer. I’ll find the right bait eventually ♡
P.S. I don’t know why I decided to use footnotes, maybe because of all the papers I’ve had to write this term
1 Portland is better than Chico Abbie, just move up here already.
2 These are important perquisites to be my friend.
3 It’s a lot.
4 As she should I give great book recommendations.
Fantastic friends, it’s time for us to learn about something I’ve neglected to spend any time describing: Menet’s tattoos. She is half Varisian as you (hopefully) know, and one key marker of Varisian folks is that they often have tattoos, and quite a few. Some are even born with the rare “birth tattoo” which was technically the first tattoo Menet ever received. She didn’t know about this phenomenon until she was 16 however, and so was always told by her family that she was simply marked by Khepri. She often chalked the eerily detailed scarab tattoo on her right arm up to chance – and considered it a weird birthmark. She still doesn’t believe it means much of anything, and thinks it’s just a marker of her Varisian heritage, more than anything. The intricacy of the scarab tattoo comes from its many whorls and designs contained within. It is not a lifelike representation of the beetle, but instead looks like an artistic rendition.
Now, on to the other tattoos! I believe I’ve mentioned in the campaign that she has two facial tattoos, but I’m not 100% sure of that. Either way, we’re going to talk about it now. Menet’s tattoo style is “whatever looks nice.” That doesn’t mean none of her tattoos have any significance, it just means that some are simply there for aesthetics. Hence, her first facial tattoo, which she got at the age of 16 to mark the start of her journey away from home. It is a half-inch wide blue line that extends from one ear to the other, going over the bridge of her nose. She got this tattoo in particular because she saw a Varisian harrower with several lines across her face, and thought it looked beautiful.
The second tattoo she got on her face (not long after the first) was more symbolic. She started to feel homesick upon leaving Osirion, and so she got a simple shen ring in the center of her forehead, about an inch above her eyebrows. It is the same shade of blue as the line mainly because she wanted to match, but also because the color blue represents health, youth, and beauty. This may seem strange considering Menet’s apparent lack of vanity, but she sees beauty as a part of life, and celebrates it as a part of herself because there is no reason to deny it.
The third tattoo she got was on her left arm, in the same location as her birth tattoo on the other arm. She wanted to balance the scarab, and further represent her culture and homeland. Continuing the theme she started with her shen circle (which represents all that the sun circles in Osirion), she decided to get a tattoo of a phoenix (benu), which also represents the sun. It matches the tone of her birth tattoo, however her birth tattoo has always maintained a slight lustre and sheen in its blackness that her other tattoo simply cannot. She considers all of these symbols of her dedication to Khepri as he is linked to the rising sun and to Ra.
The final tattoo she has is a rather large, detailed piece that she has been slowly building on. It is across her shoulders and extends to the middle of her back, and contains as many colors as possible, representing various things to her fellow Varisians. It includes orange, pink, green, blue, turquoise, violet, and red. It is a stylized wagon wheel (think Roma Chakra) surrounded by flowers and whorls to make it more aesthetically pleasing. She has had various flowers added over time, most notably, hyacinthe winding through the spokes.
And those are all of Menet’s tattoos! I thought about using some image references between the text, but at the same time, I think it’s fun to let you all imagine these tattoos as you like. So for those of you who prefer to imagine it yourself, I’ll leave it up to your imagination.
Strong female characters are such a huge influence to me and the world I see rising up around me. The representation is so inspiring. Working in a bookstore for years and having customers ask for recommendations from my male coworkers because my own “probably aren’t up to their standards” cuts me down.
Being the women trying to fit into a culture where women get pushed aside or criticized for menial things such as not being a true fan of something, or not belonging is actively hurtful. So that representation helps bring me back up again.
But straight white women are not the only people who deserve that honor.
Ready Player One was a book shone light on what it’s like to be a queer woman of color. H struggled with being accepted to the point where she decided to make a male avatar to help improve the ease of access to basic social rights, such as equal pay and respect, as well as just being more widely accepted. In the movie, this was completely removed.
The pivotal scene with Wade and H meeting for the first time was cut and briefly replaced with a cheap knockoff with Art3mis and H. The reason this scene was important is that it gave H the stage to express why she had disguised herself online and give a stage for an important dialogue.
Other characters were robbed of their chance to make a stance as well. In the book, Shoto and Dijo were inseparable and both struggled with extreme depression that kept them locked in their rooms. In Japan, this is referred to as a Hikkiomori. They are people who rarely, if ever, leave their room due to overwhelming anxiety or a variety of other mental health obstacles. This was also completely removed from the movie. Instead, they made them background characters who shared no connection with no story given to them whatsoever.
My final complaint is with the casting for the movie, which clearly left something to be desired. Almost every character was described in the book as being a little chubby, slightly overweight, or having blemished skin. The classical image of someone who you would think spent most of their time playing a video game, or even just the more typical teenager. The actors that they chose were thin and flawless, aside from the strawberry birthmark that they left on Art3mis. This perpetuates the idea that people need to strive to attain the standard image of beauty and stole away the spotlight for those people who honestly look more like the average human.
The positive feedback I’ve heard is how they made Art3mis a stronger character which made Wade seem less gross in his unyielding attempt to date her. For me this wasn’t about lifting Art3mis up, it was about cleaning up the “white knight” gamer guy who had consent issues. Wade was written as being problematic because he was problematic. But the movie wiped him clean of all his issues, and in doing so stole the foundation of the marginalized communities that the book actually addressed.