Area of Effect, Issue #4

Page 1


March 2015 • Issue 4

EFFECT Blowing up geek culture


IT’S DANGEROUS TO GO ALONE: TAKE THIS What do we equip ourselves with to face life’s dangers? p. 10


BUT NOBODY CAME The genocide run and the power to SAVE in Undertale p. 19



Firefly • Harry Potter • Monopoly • Princess Mononoke • Shadow of the Colossus • Superman • Sword Art Online • The Legend of Zelda • Undertale • Watchmen

“Technically, you’re not supposed to use an elevator in a fire. But that might not apply during a zombie apocalypse.” —Nick, Left 4 Dead 2


MARCH 2015, ISSUE 4 Publisher | GEEKDOM HOUSE Founder | KYLE RUDGE Managing Editor | ALLISON BARRON Designer | ABDESIGNS Staff Writers | Dustin Asham, Michael Boyce, Casey Covel, Jason Dueck, Christopher Johnson, Robert Martin, Kyla Neufeld, Charles Sadnick, Jennifer Schlamaeuss-Perry Contributing Artists | Conor Burke (mac-tire), Erin Bushnell, Kiriban (Autlaw), Zane (Nero749), Lionsketch, (kishiro-kun), LeoKatana, Justin Currie (Chasing Artwork) Cover art | “Legend of Zelda ” by Conor Burke Back Cover art | “HEY! ... Listen!” by Conor Burke ADVERTISING INQUIRIES: Area of Effect magazine is published four times a year in September, December, March, and June, by Geekdom House, 319 Elgin Ave, Winnipeg, MB, R3A 0K4. To subscribe, visit or email WEBSITE Read our articles online at FACEBOOK Like our page at TWITTER Follow or tweet at us @GeekdomHouse INSTAGRAM Follow our posts @GeekdomHouse ABOUT GEEKDOM HOUSE: Geekdom House is a non-profit organization based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The mission of Geekdom House is to be a faith-filled community with fanatics of sci-fi, fantasy, comics, games, and more. Geekdom House is an organization under EQUIP CANADA (BN: 889540738RR0001).


But Nobody Came Battling my previous friends was a saddening experience. It was not just a matter of striking blows; they talked to me as I fought them. Some of them showing courage, some pain, some even forgiveness (bless your heart, Papyrus). 2 • AOE MAGAZINE

The Last Words of Konno Yuuki by Christopher Johnson

Lifting the Curse by Charles Sadnick










Monopolizing My Integrity by Dustin Asham

I Must Not Tell Lies by Kyla Neufeld

No Greater Good in the ‘Verse by Jason Dueck


A Colossal Lie



It’s Dangerous to Go Alone! Take This. by Kyle Rudge

But Nobody Came The Rorschach Test: Watchmen, Truth, and Lies by Michael Boyce

A Bizarro Kind of Love

by Jennifer Schlameuss-Perry



Sword Art Online

Unlikely Friendships that Should Have Been by Allison Barron and Kyle Rudge

The Battle of Cute and Deadly by Allison Barron

Amy Chen




Time Splitters: Future Perfect

Shadow of the Colossus







by Casey Covel

by Allison Barron

Princess Mononoke


Portal 2

10 19

9 21

13 20

7 8


Final Fantasy VII


Cloud Strife

Mass Effect 3



Dragon Age





tanding tall on the titanic body of my fallen foe, I should feel like a hero, but the victory seems hollow. There’s no majestic fanfare to accompany my achievement, just a slow, melodious dirge; it reminds me that a beautiful creature has just breathed its last. “The price you pay may be heavy indeed,” a mysterious, disembodied voice had warned me, before I set out on my quest. “It doesn’t matter,” I had answered. Suddenly, those three words seem less noble than I had originally perceived, and are flavoured by cold, hard desperation. Before I can truly process the barrage of conflicting emotions, I’m swarmed by black tendrils emanating from the colossus carcass. I fall to my knees, collapsing, unconscious, onto the giant’s body. In this moment, long before I ever slay my second, fifth, tenth, sixteenth colossus, I realize the truth: I’m slowly killing myself. Much like a Shakespearean tragedy, Shadow of the Colossus is a game about the darkness of human nature—how hopelessness leads to desperation, and desperation to self-destruction. And it all begins the way most doomed quests do: with a lie. Wander, the game’s protagonist, is bound by hopelessness—not a “there’s nothing I can do” sort of hopelessness, but something even worse: the “I have no choice” kind. Not content with allowing an innocent maiden to die, Wander chooses to go against nature and tries to restore her soul. Killing 16 colossi is the only way to achieve that goal, he’s told, so that’s what he does. In his vulnerability, he is desperate enough to play the fool and believe this colossal lie. When I play Shadow of the Colossus, I

“Shadow of the Colossus (Fan Art) ” by Lionsketch


feel Wander’s darkening nature reflected through every aspect of the game, especially the environment. The land of the colossi acts as a metaphor for Wander’s innermost soul—empty, isolated, and depressed—a forbidden place where things are locked away from the outside world and left to die. Aside from calling for his horse, Wander never speaks, making those long rides across the wasteland moments for the player’s self-reflection. During these periods of silence, Wander seems especially caged within his mind—so set on a false reality that he can’t envision alternatives. I’ve yet to play a game that more accurately captures the sense of loneliness and depression that a human heart can feel when burdened by hopelessness. As a player, I am forced to buy into Wander’s lie, not only because the game’s narrative compels me to do so in order to progress, but because it’s the only way I can psychologically justify my actions within the game. “I have no choice,” I repeat to myself, as another colossus flails to the ground. It’s a part of the game’s mechanics. It’s necessary for the story. But try as I might, no excuse can erase the smallest twinge of guilt I feel each time a colossus cries out in pain and bites the dust. Battling a colossus is an emotional and intimate experience. I can’t jump into the fray swinging my sword at the enemy and expect damage to be dealt. I have to climb all over the creature, feeling each muscle and tendon roll with life beneath me as I search for its vital spots. I have to observe its movements, memorize its habits and quirks, and decipher which sectors of its massive frame are penetrable. I become personally familiar with the colossus, and then convince myself to slay it.

As colossi begin to take on familiar shapes—humans, birds, lions, even horses (a haunting echo of the only companion I have within the game)—the experience becomes unnerving. Once I commit to taking down the magnificent monsters, though, the game ensures that I am merciless in my attacks, as even the slightest hesitation leads to being flung loose from my grip on the colossus’ head or back. Each action has a permanent consequence, and the game mocks the player with reminders. At any time, I can return to the site of a battle and see the blackened forms of the fallen colossi. When they’re out of my direct sight, beams of light mark their fallen souls, visible from any distance on the horizon. The only un-skippable cutscenes in the game mark points of no return—when colossi are slain and when Wander’s faithful steed falls to its doom. That’s the consequence of believing the lie: Wander must sacrifice everything in order to fulfill it—his stallion, his soul, his connection with his people, and his precious relationship with the maiden herself. He’s so focused on saving her that he loses sight of her in the process. In my first playthrough, I didn’t realize how filthy Wander had become until near the end of the game, when his skin grew so pale and his clothes so ragged that I could no longer question the morality of his actions. But by this point, there was no turning back—for him or for me. But perhaps that’s Shadow of the Colossus’ biggest lie—something I didn’t realize until my second or third playthrough: up until the final battle, it’s never too late to turn back. I have the power to walk away from any fight at any time. I can explore the realm of the Colossi as long as I like without ever having to draw my blade. I can choose to be merciful by not engaging these titans at all, but doing so means I will never complete the game or play it as the developers intended. Shadow of the Colossus is a fatalist game throughand-through, and one that uses narrative punishment as the reward for progressing. Shadow of the Colossus tempts players with a power fantasy—dare to travel to a forbidden world, take on mythical giants, be the hero, save the damsel in distress—but snatches it away with each victory. Even during the most frustrating of colossi battles, the temporary relief of having won is quickly overshadowed by the numbing funeral dirge and the death throes of the colossus. By the time I reached the game’s credits, I was not sure what to think. I knew I’d just played a groundbreaking work of art—an experience I was utterly grateful for—and yet Shadow of the Colossus left me feeling betrayed by my emotions, by the character’s actions, and by the game itself. In my opinion, more games should be like Shadow of the Colossus— asking hard questions about the consequences of violence, and the power that truth and lies hold over us—but even more games should offer alternatives to linear brutality, rewarding players for recognizing the lies but choosing to act on the truth in the midst of them. w

“Konno Yuuki [Sword Art Online II]” by kirshiro-kun

I K U U Y O N N O K F O S D R O W T S THE LA by Christopher Johnson


rama king. Yep, that’s me. My wife nods her head every time I apply that name to myself. I don’t try to be, it just comes naturally. Usually it involves “feeling something very strongly,” which compels me to either awkward dancing or a watering of my beard. Both of which are key to healthy hair, by the way. However, in the last hours of Sword Art Online’s second season, my occasional and modest tearing up had turned into some unstoppable torrent. The first hint of trouble to come starts when Asuna makes a new friend named Yuuki and joins her group of adventurers in Alfheim Online (ALO), a team that calls themselves The Sleeping Knights. After a stunning victory against all odds, the group announces they are disbanding, and Asuna is shocked. The news makes her recognize what she has thus far only felt: Yuuki and The Sleeping Knights had become so dear to her. Yuuki and the others give only a silent goodbye, offering no reasons for their permanent departure. Asuna, who has come to love them, can’t stand the tears she causes when she pleads for reasons why. Their sadness is incomprehensible to her. Yuuki suspects, and rightly so, that Asuna won’t be satisfied without answers, and will search high and low for her in the real world. Maybe, just maybe, the impossible would happen and Asuna would find her. It’s all Yuuki wants and it is exactly what she is trying to stop. She doesn’t want Asuna to know why she must leave; Yuuki doesn’t want to cause Asuna pain. But Asuna’s stubbornness brings her to Yuuki’s doorstep at the hospital. It’s a surprise, though many had warned her that there can be no happy ending for her and the girl who once called her sister. And now Asuna comes face to face with the secret Yuuki tried to keep, the thing that made a young woman both a young and old soul all at once. 6 • AOE MAGAZINE

Yuuki, the person who awed so many with her incredible in-game speed, is in reality a frail, dying girl. Her terminal condition is deteriorating her health rapidly. Yuuki has a bare few months to live. Not only that, but Asuna learns the all the Sleeping Knights are terminally ill patients. Yuuki ends her life’s adventure with Asuna by her side. In her final moments, she tells Asuna: “I was born to die, so what was my reason for existing in the world? Without creating anything, or giving anything to anyone. Wasting so much machinery and medicine, causing people around me trouble... And if I was going to disappear in the end, I would be better to die right now. I thought that so many times.” But because of Asuna she discovered peace and happiness. “It’s okay for me to be alive... Because my last moments are such fulfillment. I can end my journey surrounded by so many people, in the arms of the person I love.” I am not sure what moved me the most about all of Yuuki’s story. Was it the crazy devotion of Asuna that drove her to searching like a shepherd who lost a sheep? Was it the tragedy of Yuuki’s story or the equally moving beauty of the person she became? Maybe it was the talk between those two friends about everything and nothing: about the meaning of life and death. Or maybe it was the poetry of The Sleeping Knights, people not far from the long slumber of death. But Yuuki’s last words continue to ring in my ears. What is the point of life if we’re just going to die in the end? Why do we exist in this world if our bodies are just going to crumble into dust and be forgotten? I think it’s so we can experience love in its rawest, most human form. Love can drive someone to pursue an impossible search. It can bring life and meaning and value to the weak and needy, even as they leave this world. And sometimes, it can make a grown man cry even as he dances. w

s e li ll e t t o n t s I mu

by Kyla Neufeld


he first time I read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, I found Harry’s constant anger, especially at Ron and Hermione, annoying. I wanted to tell him to chill out: didn’t he understand that there were bigger things going on? At the time, I didn’t recognize his trauma for what it was. Marcelle Kosman and Hannah McGregor, hosts of the most delightful podcast Witch, Please, have a fantastic discussion about this in “Episode 9: The Cleansing Fire.” Their answer to Harry’s anger is that he is suffering from PTSD, and it totally makes sense. Harry has just gone through the traumatic experience of watching Voldemort come back to life and kill Cedric, and is then made to spend the summer with his aunt and uncle, who barely acknowledge his existence. To make matters worse, he doesn’t receive any news from his friends, who are under orders from Dumbledore not to share anything lest their owls are intercepted. Add to this the mysterious Dementor attack and the subsequent hearing to prove his innocence so he will not be expelled from Hogwarts, and it quickly becomes clear that Harry’s anger is justifiable. Just when we think things are going to get better for him—he’ll be back at Hogwarts and all he’ll have to worry about is Quidditch

and OWLs—he discovers that, all summer, the Daily Prophet has been printing lies about him, under order of the Ministry for Magic, in an effort to discredit his story about Voldemort’s return. There’s a term for this: gaslighting. Gaslighting is a form of mental abuse in which victims of trauma are made to doubt their own stories through others (often the perpetrator of the abuse) twisting their information. The term comes from the 1938 play Gas Light, in which a husband attempts to convince his wife that she is insane by manipulating the environment around her. It is a form of victim-blaming that happens all too often today, mostly to women. For example, when rape victims are told they were asking for it by dressing provocatively. It also shows up in more common, every-day situations, like when women are told they’re being “too emotional” or “too sensitive” when they react to inconsiderate behaviour. These phrases all have the purpose of making women doubt their own reactions. Hermione is actually on the receiving end of this a few times in Order of the Phoenix: when Fred and George are testing their candies from their Skiving Snackboxes on first-years and Hermione tells them they can’t because it’s inappropriate, Lee Jordan tells her to “calm down” to dismiss her concern over student safety.

So why does the Ministry gaslight Harry? Sirius explains to the kids that the Minister for Magic, Cornelius Fudge, is afraid. During a discussion about why Umbridge won’t let them use magic in their Defence Against the Dark Arts lessons, Sirius tells them that Fudge doesn’t want them forming an army against him; he’s convinced that Dumbledore is going to try and overthrow the Ministry. Ron exclaims that this is the stupidest thing continued on next page

GAMING WISDOM “People who use their own names for their passwords deserve to be hacked.” —Amy Chen, TimeSplitters: Future Perfect


“I Must Not” continued from previous page

he’s ever heard, and he’s absolutely right. But fear of Voldemort’s return has driven Fudge to fabricate a story that makes sense to him, something that he can fight against. And so he spreads the word that Harry is crazy and can’t be trusted so that no one else will believe that Voldemort has returned. But there’s something else here at play, something Sirius doesn’t bring up. Fudge may be afraid, and that may make him want to discredit Harry, but the reason he can do it so successfully is because he is the one in power; Harry is only a child and a student whereas Fudge is the Minister for Magic. Power dynamics are so crucial to gaslighting because those with power are able to perpetuate abuse. Cornelius Fudge can influence the Daily Prophet and Delores

Umbridge can oppress the students of Hogwarts because they’re the ones in power. The incredible thing about Order of the Phoenix, though, is that Harry never gives up on his story. If anything, the Ministry’s attempts to silence him only make him more determined to fight back, and once he publishes an interview with Rita Skeeter in The Quibbler, more people start to believe him. This is a powerful thing for kids, or any of us really, to read. We may face trauma in our own lives and come up against people who want to discredit us, but here is an example of someone going through that same experience and leaning on the support of his friends to get through it, all the while not giving up on what he knows to be true. The sad truth is that many victims of trauma do not have the support they need because we live in a culture that is more

likely to believe the perpetrator of abuse rather than those who have it visited upon them. This is my challenge and hope for myself and for readers. Do not dismiss the powerless when they come to you with hurt. Do not assume that children don’t understand what they saw. Do not blame a person’s anxiety on a mental illness rather than real stress over a situation. And do not dismiss a woman’s claims of rape by saying, “we don’t want to ruin that young man’s reputation, so we’re going to let this one slide.” And, maybe one more: do not make light of any of this by making jokes. Those, too, can be a form of gaslighting. Delores Umbridge says, “I must not tell lies.” Neither should we—if we want to be people of compassion and kindness—spread lies told to us by those in power when they want to save their own skins. w

GAMING WISDOM “This next test involves the Aperture Science Aerial Faith Plate. It was part of an initiative to investigate how well test subjects could solve problems when they were catapulted into space. Results were highly informative: They could not. Good luck!” —GLaDOS, Portal 2



As recommended by AoE staff


The third installment in The Legend of Zelda series is one our favourite top-downs. It introduced elements that are now familiar to the Zelda games, including the Master Sword and other items.



first got into comics when I was in junior high. It was a good time for comics, the simpler days before Marvel’s Ultimate complicated the continuity of the Marvel Universe, before upstart companies like Image and Valiant further challenged what it meant to be a superhero. The additions to my collection were based primarily on my interest in individual superheroes rather than the quality of the narratives. I was an undiscerning reader: I read The Amazing Spiderman, The Uncanny X-men and a few other Marvel titles because I liked those characters. I bought various Batman titles because Batman’s cool and Superman titles because… well, I don’t know why I bought Superman titles. And then someone told me about Alan Moore and I picked up Watchmen. I wasn’t prepared for what I read. It was so many different genres all wrapped into one: mystery, revisionist superhero narrative, political treatise, alternate history. Watchmen was my first exposure to a comic raising deep moral, ethical, and philosophical questions, often questions without clear answers. And it remains one of the few comic I return to again and again because of how Moore treats those questions. When all the conspiracies within Watchmen have been uncovered, when Ozymandias’s plot to create world peace in an alternate 1985 has been revealed, truth and deception remain powerful thematic elements. Once the truth that Ozymandias has


There’s no way we couldn’t list Ocarina of Time. It is, and probably always will be, one of the best Zelda games of all time due to its exciting gameplay, adventure, and puzzle-solving elements.

by Michael Boyce

framed Dr. Manhattan for nuclear down his life for his beliefs. He would attack on New York in order to unite rather die than allow a lie, even an the United States and the USSR is attractive lie, to be perpetrated. revealed, the heroes must wrestle Isn’t that the very essence with the information they possess in of a hero? Uncompromising in his the light of the new-found peace that beliefs? could stabilize the world. At that age, I saw the world Despite killing people and in sharp black and white morality. other moral compromises, Ozyman- Things were either good or evil, dias’s actions are intended to bring right or wrong. In part, that was the about world peace, and Moore’s result of my upbringing, a common characters, each of whom sees the (and simplistic) Sunday School piworld and their roles in that world ety. As I’ve grown older, as I’ve studdifferently, must ask themselves ied and read and learned more, I if peace based on a lie is worth it. have found my opinion of Rorschach All of this comes to a head when shifting. Certainly, as I have come to the all-powerful Dr. Manhattan see the amount of grey in the world, confronts and kills the lone vigilanmy understanding of Rorschach te Rorschach, whose rigid moral has changed. While he’s still cool, I code refuses to be compromised, have come to see the character as demanding that “evil deeply flawed and largely must be punished.” I’VE COME TO SEE unaware of his own In order to protect THE DANGERS OF hypocrisies. the “greater good,” For all his deeply Dr. Manhattan opts to RORSCHACH’S held convictions about destroy Rorschach. Rorschach fails BLACK AND WHITE justice, When I first to see how much he read Watchmen, I was PERSPECTIVE. himself compromises totally taken with the in terms of the truth, character Rorschach, whose uncomholding himself to a different set promising principles, though exof standards then his colleagues treme, made him noble to my young or the rest of society. Though he mind. works closely with Night Owl II The stand-off with Dr. Manhat(Daniel Drieberg) in the days before tan seems to crystalize all that made the government’s crackdown on Rorschach so impressive. Although costumed vigilantes and knows he lacks any “super” powers, RorDrieberg’s identity, Rorschach mainschach refuses to back down even tains the secrecy of his own identity. against the most powerful figure in None of the other characters knows the world. He is not only willing to who Rorschach really is. stand up to such a powerful character as Dr. M, he is also willing to lay continued on page 13


We were blown away by The Wind Waker’s amazing graphic style and loved the gameplay focused on sailing the seas. Searching the islands for a missing sister was a fun turn on the usual adventure story.

“Temple of Time” by Autlaw



idsummer birthdays were lonely. I mean sure, they were spaced far enough away from Christmas that the “Kyle’s temporary material happiness fund” was well stocked, but most of my friends were off on vacation and unable to attend an appropriately large birthday bash. However, in the summer of 1986, I could not have been more thankful for the solitude. In my hands I held the iconic gold cartridge of the original Legend of Zelda. I had maps, I had snacks, and I had a stack of Nintendo Power magazines by my side; I was ready to go. But none of those provisions were necessary when I directed Link into that first cave. It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this. I explored a vast unknown world, discovered hidden dungeons, felt the tension of that last half heart, slew great beasts of legendary proportions, and ventured through seemingly infinite sequels— and it all began with my first sword. Recently, someone posted a meme featuring that phrase on my Facebook wall. The scene was the same. Same old bald man in a red

by Kyle Rudge

suit. Same bonfires on either side. book. Go. Learn. Science. Math. Except instead of a sword, Link English. Art. Dance. Get a good was lifting up a cup of coffee. job. Education will likely lessen It’s dangerous to go alone! the threat of poverty and addiction, Take this. and it seems the perfect weapon ABSOLUTELY, I thought. to equip my child with before she The world without my coffee in steps out of that cave. the morning truly is a dangerous It’s dangerous to go alone! place. I pondered that phrase for Take this: education. the rest of the day. The world really I am, however, paralyzed by the is a dangerous place. reality that my answer What did I have in comes from a place WHAT WAS I my bag of holding to of privilege. I’m white. deal with its dangers? EQUIPPING MY I’m Canadian. I’m More importantly, educated. I lack debt what was I equipping FOUR-YEAR-OLD (other than my mortmy four-year-old DAUGHTER WITH TO gage). And despite bedaughter with to preing on the lower-end pare her for what she PREPARE HER FOR of the spectrum, I am would face? middle-class. WHAT SHE WOULD happily It seems like evYes, I am privileged, ery week I am re-post- FACE? and I love my little girl ing a new picture of a too much not to lean missing child. School shootings are on that for her benefit. Education, so commonplace that they’ve lost definitely education, will be the name their shock value. Danger seems to of her sword, I thought. lurk around every corner. So when That is, until we went to the my little girl steps out of our home park down the street the other day. and into the world on her own, what I live on the border between am I handing to her when I say, “Take two neighbourhoods. One wealthy this”? and inhabited mostly by white folk, Instinctively, my answer is the other lower-income and made “education.” Here, take this textup of mostly Indigenous people.

Within two blocks of my home there are two parks; one is filled with graffiti, garbage, and in a state of disrepair. The other is clean, orderly, and rarely crowded (and on the wealthier side of the border). One day while at that nicer park, my little girl happily played. A presumably soccer-mom pulled up in her nice SUV, parked it by the playground, and brought her little blond-haired boy out to play as well. Five minutes into their arrival, an Aboriginal man came with his little girl and they sat at a nearby picnic table. He had amateur tattoos covering his arms and face, his pants looked like they might fall off at any moment, and a flat-billed baseball hat perched high on his head. The SUV-mom took one look, quickly grabbed her boy, and insisted they had to go despite his protests of only just arriving. Crying, he was put into his car seat and off they went.

GAMING WISDOM “Nobody is perfect... That is, of course, until you fall in love with them.” —Cloud Strife, Final Fantasy VII

GAMING WISDOM “Stand in the ashes of a trillion dead souls and ask the ghosts if honour matters. Their silence is your answer.” —Javik, Mass Effect 3

I’m a parent. I get it. The man looked like maybe he had some unsavoury connections. Whatever turned her off—the skin colour? The tattoos? The clothing?— she wanted to protect her child from harm. That day she gave her son a sword. It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this: prejudice. I called my little girl over and asked if she wanted to play with that other girl sitting at the picnic table. “Yes!” she said excitedly. I walked with her to the picnic table and coached her through inviting a new friend into her life. As I sat with this “unsavoury” character, I realized the sword I want to give my little girl isn’t called education. It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this: compassion. w “The Rorschach Test” continued from page 11

Rorschach is also the only costumed vigilante operating outside the government framework of Dr. Manhattan or The Comedian, and, in doing so, Rorschach operates outside of the law. In refusing to stop his crime-fighting, Rorschach is a criminal. Moore’s crafting of such a troubled and psychologically flawed individual further complicates the rationalization of Ozymandias’s actions by Night Owl and Dr. Manhattan. Although Christopher Nolan picks up these questions about lying to the public for a great good in the second film in his Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight, Moore’s questioning lacks a satisfying answer. In The Dark Knight, Batman chooses to allow Gotham to hold Dent up as a crusader for justice by framing himself as a villain rather than exposing Harvey Dent’s fall from grace. The film basically affirms that decision uncritically. In Alan Moore’s hands, the questions raised by a lie for the greater good have more profound implications. In Watchmen, Rorschach’s refusal to compromise and his subsequent death are less noble and heroic than they might first appear. When one considers how much the character willingly compromises, his actions become suspect, less about Rorschach’s strict moral code and more about the limited perspective Rorschach has chosen to see the world. As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to see the dangers of Rorschach’s black and white perspective. Whenever people are absolutely, uncompromisingly certain of their opinion, they usually lack a significant understanding of grace or the humility to consider an alternative point of view. In the Bible, where Jesus spoke to the woman caught in adultery, how would would he have treated her if he saw the world in the limited black and white view of that community? If I am uncompromising to someone else, how can I expect to be given any grace for my mistakes in return? w


“Do Not Collect $200” (2011) by Erin Bushnell


by Dustin Asham

t’s not often that you see a boot, a dog, a thimble unless they notice the dice has rolled a number they and a battleship compete for economic domination. have a settlement on. Or to Citadels, where if you As such, a car crushing the hopes and dreams of a forget to destroy someone else’s card while you’re the down-on-its-luck wheelbarrow as it demands $2000 Warlord, that’s just too bad. for staying at the luxurious Boardwalk hotel for the It doesn’t seem like a big deal. What’s the harm night isn’t a common occurrence. Unless we’re talking in passing the dice quickly to the next player? It’s their about Monopoloy, of course. fault for not paying attention, right? This house rule Monopoly may be the single greatest board game also ensures that people remain involved in the game. out there. Here’s why: its gameplay is simple enough to But the more I think about this rule, the more it be understood by children, it teaches basic economics bothers me. What if it’s just an easy rationalization we (it’s fun and educational!), and while luck plays into it, make so that we can suspend our own integrity? Good, it’s a largely strategic game. honest competition is just that. It’s good. But at what Will you wheel and deal your point does a desire to win, to do way to victory? Or will you crumble YOU KNOW YOU DON’T HAVE well, or to be successful go too far? under the pressure, hoping to be Is it possible that Monopoly sent to jail so you can avoid another THE $1000 TO PAY RENT, teaches us a little bit about economrent payment? House rules generally BUT LOOK! THE OWNER IS ics and a little bit about dishonesty? allow for a different way to avoid It’s easy to let your turn pass by CHECKING THEIR PHONE! paying rent, and here’s how: without reminding another player You rolled a seven; you knew if you owe them rent; it even often you were going to survive another round you needed an leads to victorious taunting as you confidently remind eight. But rather than landing neatly on Free Parking— them that they should have been paying attention! which would have scored you a sweet $735—you’ve Let’s turn this situation around. landed on New York Ave., which incidentally has a You glanced down at your phone for a moment. You hotel on it. You know you don’t have the $1000 to pay have a notification or two to check, so you do, seeing no rent, but look! The owner is checking their phone! You harm in it. While you get rid of all the notifications you quickly pass the dice to the next player, abruptly ending think to yourself about how much you need someone your turn, saving yourself from bankruptcy. to land on your property. The green properties all have Here’s what the game manual says, with our hotels on them and you’ll never be able to afford the rent house rule added in brackets: with the cash you have now. You hear a little chuckle and “When you land on a property that is owned by you look up from your phone just as the dice are rolled for another player (and that player notices), the owner col- the next player’s turn. They had landed on New York! You lects rent from you in accordance with the list printed just missed out on $1000! And now you’re being smugly on its Title Deed card.” reminded that you shouldn’t be checking your phone The same house rule can be applied to Settlers while the game is going on. You are irritated with your of Catan, where players don’t collect their resources friends for not telling you; that $1000 was yours by right! 12 • AOE MAGAZINE

We very easily allow ourselves to suspend our own integrity when it benefits us, but we’re frustrated when someone else has not acted with integrity. What would it look like if we held ourselves to the standard that we hold others to? When I play Monopoly, I genuinely hope that if someone lands on my property that they will tell me, whether they owe me $2 or $2000. Just as I hope that when I land on someone’s property that I will tell them. If I willingly suspend my integrity to save myself fake money, what would I do to save myself real money, time, energy, or reputation? I don’t want to choose the end despite the means. I want the journey to matter. To borrow a line from Albus Dumbledore, “Dark times lie ahead of us and there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.” I’m just not so sure it’s only in dark times that we need to make that choice. w m urkeart rke

UNLIKELY FRIENDSHIPS THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN 1. Calvin & Chewbacca “You know, Chewy, some days even my lucky Millenium Falcon underpants don’t help.” 2. Hermione Granger & Twilight Sparkle They’ll form a group called S.B.E.W. (Society for the Bookworms of Equestria and the World) 3. Mal Reynolds and Doctor Horrible Doctor Horrible can’t be friends with Captain Hammer, but he can darn sure be friends with Captain Tightpants! 4. Tony Stark & Tali-Zorah “Testing rocket boots, Day 11, Test 37, Configuration 2.0. For lack of a better option, Tali is still on fire safety.” 5. Edward Elric & Toph Beifong We just want to see Ed’s face when Toph makes fun of him.




6. Sephiroth & Scar Scar would get some perspective—”You wanna be king of a rock? I wanna destroy the world with a giant meteor”—and Sephiroth can stop being jealous that he doesn’t have a pet lion like the other side. 7. Jayne Cobb & John Casey “Do you know what the chain of command is? It’s the chain I go get and beat you with until you buy this ruttin’ washin’ machine.”

Irish. Artist. Graduate Architect. Conor Burke loves to speedpaint. You can follow him on Tumblr, check out his creations on DeviantArt or Instagram, and buy his prints on Society 6.

Screenshots from Avatar: The Last Airbender and Fullmetal Alchemist



youth living as a princess among wolves. Giant boars possessed by demons. An elk-like spirit who gives life and takes it away. A monk who fights and curses as well as any warrior. “Distinctive” describes Princess Mononoke, Hayao Miyazaki’s masterpiece depicting humans at war with nature. But perhaps lost in the spectacle of gods and demons is a challenge that I find speaks directly to me. The film’s protagonist seeks to live a life free of bitterness and scorn, and that’s something I can relate to because I daily struggle to do the same. Ashitaka, the prince of a small tribe, has been cursed by a vengeful boar god who is driven mad by an iron pellet buried deep in his body. Ashitaka’s journey to find a cure for the fatal curse leads him to Irontown, an island settlement erected by Lady Eboshi, a shrewd and fearless businesswoman. She asks the prince why he’s there, to which he responds, “to see with eyes unclouded by hate.” But his eyes are clouded by hate. Ashitaka’s eyes burn with loathing toward Eboshi as she proudly explains how her warriors chased off the bordering mountain’s boar gods through fire and gunpowder, all in the name of making her town the richest property in the world. They are the ones who shot the boar god, and thus are responsible for Ashitaka’s predicament. After his cursed arm begins to move on its own, attempting to assassinate the woman, he says of it, “If it would lift the curse, I would let it tear you apart, but even that wouldn’t end the killing, would it?” And Ashitaka isn’t the only one who abhors Lady Eboshi. Irontown’s success has drawn other unwanted attention, including the ire of ferocious wolf gods led by the titular princess, San, a human raised by a wolf god. She invades the village and confronts its leader, leading to a knife fight between the women. The hatred between San, representing the gods of the forest, and Eboshi, representing the humans of Irontown, is palpable. San hates Eboshi for destroying nature and leading to the death of so many animals, spirits, and trees, while Eboshi hates San because she kills her men and stands in the way of her success. Both are resolute in their anger and neither can begin to see the other’s point



As recommended by AoE staff

of view. As an outside observer, though, Ashitaka can see more clearly than they, and with the power of his cursed arm, intervenes in the fight, knocking both women unconscious. He declares that there’s a demon inside both of them and leaves the village, carrying San. By this point, frankly, I understand the women a lot more than I do Ashitaka. I think the prince has beautiful ideas about peace and all, but he’s a bit naïve; San and Eboshi have real grievances against one another. Each is destroying the other’s way of life, and killing in the name of their ideal. They are enemies at war. Sometimes, I feel similarly about people I have conflict with, thinking of them as my enemies. When a driver cuts me off in traffic, I want to shout at them. When a co-worker blames me for something that went wrong on the job, I want to lash out in return. When a loved one lies to me, I want to stay angry forever. But I don’t want to live my life that way, with pride, hatred, and comeuppance. Even though everything within me seems to want to rain down sarcastic and angry diatribes against those who “just don’t get it,” I’d rather be a peacemaker. I believe that making peace when it’s unearned or undeserved has the ability to mend fences and repair hearts. And when I reach out with an olive branch to someone who has hurt me, I also discover that my own heart is the one that receives restoration. And so it is in Princess Mononoke, that as Ashitaka tries to dispose of the hatred he carries in his heart, he impacts San and Eboshi, and finally himself. It begins with the princess, who harbors such hatred against humans that she unfairly pours out her anger against Ashitaka, chastising, threatening, and even stabbing him. But he responds only with gentle words and loving action, which eventually transform San’s heart and helps her to let go of much of her anger. Eboshi changes, too. Her meddling with the gods eventually goes too far, and a divine force devastates Irontown. If not for San’s intervention, it would have also killed all of the town’s inhabitants. continued on page 20


“An ongoing tribute to the auditory glory that is video game music.” If you like music and video games (and who doesn’t love both of those things?), you might enjoy VGMpire. Check it out at


CURSE by Charles Sadnick

“Hello Spirit” by Chasing Artwork


“Radiolab is a show about curiosity. Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience.” Check out this science-themed podcast at


A podcast hosted by two scholars that focuses on Harry Potter. Witch, Please goes into in-depth discussion about both the books and the movies and is well worth a listen if you’re a Harry Potter fan. Check it out at www.

“Mal” by Nero749

NO GREATER GOOD IN THE ‘VERSE by Jason Dueck The danger of fighting for a “greater good” is that it allows someone to justify things they know to be wrong.


’m drawn to characters with complex morals. I don’t know why. I’m not talking about the Han Solo “kind of a bad guy, but with a good heart” type; I mean characters who have very strong belief systems, understand right and wrong, but make choices that are empirically bad anyway. That’s why I like playing paladins in RPGs. They’re sworn to a code of defeating evil and empowering good, but killing evil people along the way is part of the price they pay for justice. From a paladin’s point of view, murder is bad, but killing a murderer who won’t be stopped otherwise is an act of justice. If they hadn’t killed the murderer, another innocent person might have died. Their actions are always governed by a sense of duty to a greater good and not their own impulses; they are free from the moral weight of such decisions. Something about that idea of justice makes sense to me. But is that what I really believe about right and wrong? The villain in Serenity, referred to as the Oper16 • AOE MAGAZINE

ative, illustrates my fascination with this complexity better than anyone. Consider this exchange between Mal and the Operative to see what I mean. The Operative: I’m sorry. If your quarry goes to ground, leave no ground to go to. You should have taken my offer. Or did you think none of this was your fault? Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: I don’t murder children. The Operative: I do. If I have to. Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: Why? Do you even know why they sent you? The Operative: It’s not my place to ask. I believe in something greater than myself. A better world. A world without sin. Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: So me and mine gotta lay down and die… so you can live in your better world? The Operative: I’m not going to live there. There’s no place for me there… any more than there is for you. Malcolm… I’m a monster. What I do is evil. I have no illusions about it, but it must be done. The Operative isn’t a fanatic who thinks he’s doing God’s will through acts of cleansing violence. Instead, he believes that by doing horrible things, he removes that burden from others. His goal is to create a world where no one will need bad things done any longer: a world without sin.

“What I do is evil. I have no illusions about it, but it must be done.” There’s almost a hint of Christianity in the Operative’s goal for a perfect world. I believe that Christ took on the sin of the world so it would no longer be our burden. The important difference is that Christ didn’t sin in the process. We already know Mal lives in the fuzzy area between right and wrong, but in Serenity, he and his crew are prepared to give their lives in order to tell the ‘verse about the terrible secret the Alliance has been keeping from them. The Operative’s belief in the alluring “greater good” is unwavering and he knows he must kill Mal to accomplish his mission—to keep the secret. When Mal and the Operative have their final showdown, Mal manages to gain the upper hand in the fight. But he doesn’t take the simple path of murdering the Operative. Instead, he starts to broadcast the recording of government experiments—the ones that created the Reavers and killed an

entire planet—over Mr. Universe’s not do it. signal booster. There’s no hiding there. Do He leaves the Operative good and not evil, says the Bible. paralyzed, unable to turn away By a relationship with Christ, from the graphic images of what prayer to God, and communion his sinless world with the Holy Spirit, I might be built upon. THE OPERATIVE don’t have an excuse This time, as he to deny knowing what BELIEVES THAT BY “good” looks like. is forced to watch innocents torn apart, I love morally DOING HORRIBLE complex the Operative can’t characters simply turn his back THINGS, HE because I don’t want to and cleanse himself watch a movie where REMOVES THAT of his guilt. When the protagonist turns Mal runs into him at BURDEN FROM the other cheek. Fiery the end of the movie, explosions don’t conhe has been changed OTHERS. sume warehouses when by what he saw. Mal cheeks are turned. says “I’d like to kill you myself if I But in real life, I can’t escape see you again,” and the Operative the reality that sometimes the replies, “You won’t. There’s noth“good” choice in life isn’t very clear. ing left to see.” I don’t have the luxury of being The danger of fighting for a paladin and heaping the moral “a greater good” is that it allows obligation onto a faceless deity. I someone to justify things they don’t have the apathy to be like Mal know to be wrong in the name of and pretend I know what is best for goodness, absolving themselves of the people of the galaxy without a any consequences. second thought. But what I do have Christianity offers no such is the opportunity to spend time respite to the morally confused. with God, the source of all the good James tells us it’s even a sin to see in existence, and find out where the something good we could do and murky grey morality ends. w

“Lifting the Curse” continued from page 4

Eboshi realizes as much and is thankful. And when she states that they’ll rebuild Irontown, and make it better, Eboshi means in part that she will be better, initiating peace with her neighbours rather than focusing simply on financial gain. Perhaps most subtly, but also most significantly, Ashitaka transforms as well. The mottled purple-andblack spots on his forearm have disappeared, signifying that he’s finally lifted from his curse, but something even more miraculous has occurred. Ashitaka’s body isn’t just healed—his soul is cured. A shift towards loving Eboshi instead of holding her in contempt removes the true curse inside that was symbolized by his rotting flesh. He even decides that he’ll permanently settle in Irontown and help the settlers rebuild. It’s that deep, lasting change that my soul desires as well. When a driver cuts me off in traffic or when I’m hurt by someone close to me, I want to look at those people with “eyes unclouded by hate,” quick to love them for all their faults and weaknesses, rather than to judge and condemn. When I act with a gracious love, I discover that loving sacrificially isn’t just a good way to live. As it is with Ashitaka, grace is the power to cast out hate, the power to absolve the curse. And it will change not only the receiver of love, but most profoundly, the giver as well. w



This is the podcast you’ve been looking for.


“Undertale: Don’t Want to Let Go” by LeoKatana


t was with gritted teeth and DETERMINATION that I slayed Toriel, the sweet, mother-like figure who only wanted to guide me through the ruins and keep me safe. She wasn’t difficult to destroy. It took one hit. There was no heroic fanfare upon her death, no flashing text congratulating me on my victory, no epic loot, and there shouldn’t have been. The sight of Toriel’s heart breaking in two was all the reward I got for my efforts. I wasn’t a hero. I was a murderer. Before you completely write me off as a monster, let me explain how I got there. I’d already played through Undertale’s pacifist route, going through the game without killing a single creature, talking my way out of battles and making friends with monsters. The most endearing characters in the game (i.e. all of them) became my companions in the adventure, and I grew attached to each of them; from Papyrus, the skeleton with a heart of gold who just wants to be tough enough to join the Royal Guard, to Alphys, the reptilian creature with a fondness for anime who stutters her way through conversations, to Mettaton, the robot who hosts a popular TV show in the Underground—I loved them all. And I killed them all. Because there was more story to be learned from making a genocide playthrough, and I must know ALL THE THINGS. The things that were… the things that are… and some things that have not yet come to pass. Like a serpent was offering me an apple, I was tempted. I had to know. ALL OF IT. The scenes in the game became drastically different compared to the first time I visited the Underground. Monsters heard about a rampaging human in their lands and fled. Villages that I had previously visited, full of creatures I could talk to and befriend, were now completely empty. Those monsters who had been my friends looked at me with hatred and fear instead of welcome. “You’re going to have a bad time,” Sans warned me as I continued my murderous rampage. And he was right.

Undertale is a game that asks a lot of difficult questions. Is mercy worth the effort it takes to give? What is the power of a soul? What are the repercussions of mercy or violence? Who’s really the monster if the “enemy” is only acting out of fear? There are consequences for the choices you make in the game, but it doesn’t appear to be holding some standard of morals over your head. The game lets you choose. So I chose death, and that’s exactly what I got. Oddly enough, I came to respect and love the characters even more as I went after them with my tiny stick (and eventually frying pan and dagger). Faced with an apocalypse, these creatures showed their true mettle. Papyrus decided to stop being so desperate to prove himself, and offered me friendship and forgiveness even as I dealt him the killing blow; he perished giving me encouragement, assuring me that I could still change for the good. Undyne leapt in front of a monster child I was about to destroy, protecting him from harm and then putting up a fight of fights in the attempt to stop me. Alphys took on the responsibility of leading as many monsters as possible to safety. Mettaton, surprisingly, stepped up to face me in order to protect his people. And Sans… Oh, Sans. The skeleton who never lifted a finger against me in my original playthrough, well… he gave me a bad time. I can’t blame him. I had killed his brother and was destroying everything he loved. And it was the fight of my life. But I killed him, too. Battling my previous friends was a saddening experience. It was not just a matter of striking blows; they talked to me as I fought them. Some of them showing courage, some pain, some even forgiveness (bless your heart, Papyrus). But I had come this far. continued on next page

It wasn’t until almost the end that I realized there might be no going back. Undertale has this terrifying way of remembering your actions, even if you restart. I plowed forward anyway. I got to Flowey, the only character I knew of whose evilness might match mine. Sure, I thought. Let’s pair up. Let’s be best friends. The two of us can be evil together. But then I sliced Flowey to bits. What? I hadn’t meant to do that! The game hadn’t asked me permission, given me the usual “Fight,” “Act”, or “Mercy” options. He was just gone.

The option to see him transformed and give him a huge hug had been taken from me, taken by the game’s true villain, Chara. I had awakened her through my actions, reminded her of her lust for power. And now she controlled my soul. “It was you who led the world to its destruction. You think you are above consequences,” Chara told me. All this time I’ve been calling them monsters. The truth is, in my desire to know all the things, I became the monster. And I can never take that back. Now every time I see Chara’s glowing red eyes, I’ll remember that. w


d The Battle of Cute an


by Allison Barron

strolling along Tired, old Yoda was h swamp like nothing was wrong ba through the Dago a Gnar popped out of the mist when suddenly Meg Yoda with his great, big fist and pummeled intohim back, Gnar landed on his feet Yoda force-shoved d they both felt the heat Gnar leapt away an ashing between them on the ground d of a lightning bolt crtumbling through the air with the soun and Pikachu came as he zapped Gnar away of “Pika!” he cried e moogle chose to join in the fray g then “Kupo!” Mog thwas silence, when from out of the fo og for a moment there og’s ear was the Rabbit of Caerbann sinking teeth into M ull the Troll, Then River Tam, Skthe mole, Reepicheep, Krtek Duck of Doom, Mogwai Gizmo, the and Rocket Raccoon May Chang’s panda ” and “Bring the pain!” shouted “for Narnia! th my brain.” and “I can kill you wi tered in with a sigh Killua Zoldyk saun like it was easy as pie ike dodging every str leap to jump on his head Gizmo tried with a by a tree and looking kinda fed Gnar was standing confusion on his face Nibbler toddled in, to smash his head in with a mace Skull the Troll tried his teeth, they were ready to rend Then Nibbler baredthe group entirely. So satisfied. And he gobbled up

The End. 20 • AOE MAGAZINE

GAMING WISDOM “We stand upon the precipice of change. The world fears the inevitable plummet into the abyss. Watch for that moment... and when it comes, do not hesitate to leap. It is only when you fall that you learn whether you can fly.“ —Flemeth, Dragon Age

A BIZARRO KIND OF LOVE by Jennifer Schlameuss-Perry


f Superman turned on us, we’d be kindly I’d react. More to the point, toast. Bizarro thinks that he is Super“Faster than a speeding man; he has all the strength and bullet, more powerful than a locoabilities of Superman, but none of motive, able to leap tall buildings the intelligence (or good looks). Biin a single bound….” This old-timey zarro’s Kryptonian powers, desire description doesn’t really do justice to be a hero, and mind of a (befudto what we have come to know dled) child make him extremely of the hero’s capabilities. Back in dangerous. And to top it off, anyone the 1940s, mistaking a superhewho looks at him is repulsed and ro for a bird or a plane was the terrified. best they could do, because that In the Superman the Aniwas pretty much what they had. mated Series episode, “Bizarro’s Nowadays, Superman’s pantheon World,” Superman goes out of of villains and intergalactic foes his way to understand the poor has progressed far beyond human dude instead of just defeating him. technology, requiring Superman to Bizarro, having found the Fortress exceed his previously known limof Solitude, discovers the history of its—after all, he has to be a match Krypton. He is told by Brainiac (the for whoever attacks the earth. And information orb in the Fortress) he is. His powers (unless you throw that he is Kal-el, so believes himself kryptonite into the mix) are nearly to be a hero. And he wants to be limitless. a hero so bad. Unfortunately, this So what would happen if he leads to his putting several differwas to turn evil? He’s only human, ent groups of people in danger and, after all. Well, actually, he’s not, with almost every action he takes, but you know what I mean. Earth he shows how dangerous he is. He would face the most powerful villoves Lois, which immediately and lain it has ever seen. repeatedly puts her in danger. He But I’m not scared. Because almost blows up Metropolis—on Superman’s not real, you say? No! purpose—because he thought it That’s just crazy talk. was the right thing to I am not afraid of do. He literally can’t HE TREATS my hero turning bad do anything right, because he constant- BIZARRO, NOT LIKE hard as he might try. ly reveals his gentle Prudence might THE MONSTER nature and compassuggest that somesion for the small, the THAT EVERYONE one as powerful as weak, and the needy. Superman who has SEES, BUT LIKE A To me, Superman zero impulse control is the embodiment be imprisCHILD WHO NEEDS should of love because he oned—maybe even ASSISTANCE. wills the good of all destroyed. The fact others—even though that he was made in he really doesn’t have to. a lab by Lex Luthor might provide Superman’s encounters with additional argument for his deBizarro are my favourite examples struction—he’s not even a real guy— of this. I like to think I’m kind of a he’s not natural. He is mistaken for niceish person, but if I was faced Superman once in a while since, with a warped clone of myself who from far away, they resemble each had all of my ninja powers but other. A less personally secure hero lacked my even temper and respon- might want to get rid of him just for sible conscience, I’m not sure how that reason.

But, his pitiful brokenness evokes sympathy in Superman. He treats Bizarro, not like the monster that everyone else sees, but like a child who needs assistance. He is downright tender with him. Superman has to use force to stop Bizarro from his accidental path of destruction, but does his best to guide him and make him feel loved and useful. Superman even comments that Bizarro “has a good heart.” Trusting in Bizarro’s desire to do good (even when evidence showed that he isn’t really capable of it), Superman found him an uninhabited planet to take care of. He went out of his way to give Bizarro what his heart desired most—to be the hero, the caretaker of something. He even brought along the horrifying beast that Bizarro made a pet of (a creature he named Krypto) so that he wouldn’t be lonely, ensuring Bizarro would have something to love and protect. Was this a smart decision? Letting an incredibly dangerous being go free? I’m not sure. But I do think it was the right decision. The charity with which Superman answered Bizarro’s threatening behviour is, to me, as loving as you can get. To look beyond what is presented at face value— particularly when it is ugliness—to truly see and respond to the deeper need… that is true love. That kind of love is how I hope the people I care about most look at me—my family, my friends, and my God. They see past the ugliness that I’m presenting at the moment, offering me more than what I deserve and what will make me feel truly fulfilled, useful, and loved. That’s what Superman is like all the time—he looks beyond his own need, and often beyond his own desire, to effect the good of others—the good, the bad and the ugly. How can you not love Superman for that? I sure do. w AOE MAGAZINE • 21


Allison Barron

Jason Dueck

Kyla Neufeld

Michael Boyce

Kyle is the founder of Geekdom House. He comes most alive when he is telling stories, whether in print or on stage, and is a web developer and programmer with a strong tendency to be distracted by marathon watching TV shows.

The managing editor of Area of Effect, Allison is the Galadriel of the team, offering wisdom where needed but turning treacherous as the sea when board games are involved. She has a BA in English and certificate in Publishing.

From Captain Kirk to Commander Shepard, Jason’s love for science fiction extends to the final frontier. When Jason’s not geeking out, he’s studying communications at Red River College in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Kyla has been studying Tolkien’s works since a young age. She is a poet, writer, and editor living in Winnipeg, Manitoba, has a BA in Creative Writing, and currently works as an editor at Geez magazine.

Michael teaches English Literature and Film Studies in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He’s published on Hitchcock, Alec Guinness, and James Bond. And he likes coffee. A lot.



Destroyer of Worlds

Elven Scribe

Paranoid Android

Conor Burke

Erin Bushnell



Cover Artist

Contributing Artist

Contributing Artist

Contributing Artist




Chasing Artwork

Contributing Artist

Contributing Artist

Contributing Artist

Contributing Artist


Casey Covel

Keyblade Master

Christopher Johnson Giant Slayer

Jen Schlameuss-Perry Mad Scientist

Dustin Asham

Charles Sadnick

An INTJ and self-proclaimed connoisseur of chocolate, tea, and sushi, Casey spends her free time in Florida cosplaying, writing, gaming, philosophizing, squinting at strange words, and watching Corgi videos.

Chris and his wife survive the Montreal winters with the help of Harry Potter audio books and summer dreams. Chris’s current reading obsessions are split between G.K. Chesterton and Guy Gavriel Kay.

Jen is an opinionated, mouthy girl from New Jersey. She loves to write about geeky topics in light of her faith. Jen currently works for a Catholic Church, practices martial arts, and cares for her family and pets.

Dustin is like HAL 9000: ruthless, emotionless, and the only song he knows is “Daisy, Daisy.” He splits his moments between young adults ministry, spending time with his wife Cassie, and beating his friends at board games.

When he’s not spending time in education, ministry, or parenting, Charles can be found feeding his nerd urges by streaming anime, reading A Song of Ice and Fire, or watching Star Wars.

Artificial Intelligence

State Alchemist

Blowing up geek culture by asking the deep questions.



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