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Eric: The line between sexist and hysterical really becomes one of perspective, doesn't it?

As you may remember, I posted a snark a couple of weeks back where I examined geek clich»s in webcomics. The cliches I specifically identified were Monkeys, Ninjas, Pirates, Robots and Cleavage. In comments, some readers also put Zombies on the list.

Well, Steve Jackson Games has now announced SPANC -- which stands for Space Pirate Amazon Ninja Catgirl. It's a card game... and lives in the eternal RPG/Card/Wargame realm pioneered by Macho Women with Guns lo those many years ago.

As a good liberal, I immediately wondered "do we really need a game with a bikinied catgirl on the cover?" I mean... honestly? And yeah, it's Steve Jackson Games, and I like Steve Jackson Games (of course, full disclosure requires I mention I get checks sent to me by Steve Jackson Games at highly irregular intervals). And I tend to trust Steve Jackson Games... and enjoy their card games, for that matter. (While Chez Greek left me a little cold, Chez Geek itself was a masterpiece of hilarity, for example. And some other time I'll take the time to write mash notes about Illuminati and Illuminati: New World Order.)

Then, however, I saw that said Catgirl was a Phil Foglio drawing. And that in fact Foglio does all the artwork for the game.

And the good liberal in me said "oh -- Phil Foglio? Cool! We have to buy this game."

So, I guess it just goes to show -- be consistently hilarious (even in your Porn Comics) and have consistently high quality in your art, and you get a "no, it's satire, not sexist" card free.

And for the record, Catgirl and Amazon are both subsets of Cleavage, but both are also close enough to their own clich»s that we can practically make them their own categories. "Space" implies a robot, here or there. We have Catgirls instead of monkeys, but that doesn't rule out monkeys appearing in some of the cards (Planet of the Monkeys!) And there's always room for zombies.

I'm not sure we can call this hitting for the cycle, but it certainly loads the bases.

Posted by Eric Burns-White at November 19, 2004 10:05 AM


Comment from: Gamethyme posted at November 19, 2004 10:34 AM

What you don't realize is that the lead designer - Fade Manley - is a woman. And a really funny/nice one, too. So it definately is satire, not sexism.

Comment from: Daemonic posted at November 19, 2004 10:49 AM

Chez Geek is quite possibly one of the best little card games I have played. It is especially enjoyable amongst close friends... especially when the whenever cards start flying. :)

Too bad the others of the same style aren't up to par with it.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at November 19, 2004 10:55 AM

Gamethyme -- I can't speak to the writing or design of the game until I own it. That'll be the point I upsell Fade Manley. (What is it with people named Manley this week? Joey Manley, Jenn Manley Lee, Fade Manley... it's a Manley conspiracy! This is because I created the Manley Reach in Trigger Man, isn't it?

However, I can speak to the Catgirl with the red bikini. She's sitting right on my computer screen. So that's what I have to talk about, right now. ;)

Comment from: Dave Van Domelen posted at November 19, 2004 11:10 AM

I'm really reluctant to buy SJG's boxed card games, because I almost always end up feeling like I've been ripped off. As in, "Hey, this is a Cheapass Game with twice the production values for four times the cost!" Once in a while you get the Ninjaburger or Munchkin that's worth it (and Chez * doesn't count, it's not in the $25 box plan), but then there's loads of games like Car Wars or Strange Synergy that really don't justify the price point.

Comment from: cartoonlad posted at November 19, 2004 11:21 AM

When the game was first announced, I thought it sounded a lot like Munchkin drawn by Foglio instead of Kovalic. After reading the actual SPANC page a day or two ago, it still sounds a lot like Munchkin drawn by Foglio instead of Kovalic.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at November 19, 2004 11:24 AM


I can't help but agree, of course. I mean, you're right. You're absolutely right.

However, I'm totally Car Wars's bitch. I spent too much money on Car Wars for years, and if they licensed an Autoduel XBox Live game tomorrow, I'd have to get it and XBox Live.

Remember "Sabre?" Yes, the genesis of the nick came from my time as a fencer... but it was top in my mind the day after I fought a sweet laser based compact I named Sabre. This is a nick/pseudonym/Superguy thing/whatever that's sitting on top of a million words of Superguy, entirely because of Car Wars.

To this day, when I look over the new arrivals at a Friendly Local Game Store, I hold out hope there'll be an Uncle Albert's catalog for 2054 lurking there. One that goes over all the "ride pimping" accessories that are part of the custom car scene that weren't really around back in the day. Also, an epoxy gun to nail tires or windshields and reduce handling or accuracy.

Comment from: Chris Anthony posted at November 19, 2004 12:36 PM

Gamethyme, that something is written by a woman doesn't preclude its being sexist. That said, knowing Fade (and having gone through some of the design process with her), it's still definitely satire. ;)

Dave, different strokes for different strokes, I guess. Car Wars has never really pushed my buttons, but I liked Strange Synergy, and I gladly paid the $25 for the box. (And I'll gladly pay the $25 for SPANC, although that's at least partly because I'm supporting a friend. :)

cartoonlad, at some point, all of these games start to sound like Munchkin:

Start off at a very low [whatever]. Have [attributes] that influence your ability to increase your [whatever]. Draw cards to either directly increase your [whatever] or give you [accessories] to improve your ability to increase your [whatever]. Whichever player's [whatever] gets to [pre-determined level] first wins.

Comment from: Gamethyme posted at November 19, 2004 12:47 PM

Eric Burns, you are, of course, correct - all you have is the image and a promo blurb.

Chris Anthony, I also consider Fade a friend, and am frequently pestering her by IM. :) Had I thought through my previous comment, I would probably have highlighted that, knowing Fade, I am confident that it is a satirical game, rather than a sexist game.

Comment from: Chris Anthony posted at November 19, 2004 12:57 PM

Didn't mean to imply that you didn't, Gamethyme. :) I just thought I'd clarify the point. There are things like this which are both written by women and sexist toward women, although I can't think of any off the top of my head, and while that's not the norm, it's worth noting that it's specifically not the case here.

Comment from: Shaenon posted at November 19, 2004 7:00 PM

Something about Phil Foglio's art makes EVERYTHING innocuous. I don't pretend to understand it.

Comment from: gwalla posted at November 19, 2004 7:59 PM

I like Steve Jackson Games for the sense of humor that goes into them. As far as gameplay goes, though...a lot of them don't seem to be terribly well thought out. Strange Synergy is a pretty egregious example: frequently the randomly determined powers will make one player incredibly overpowered, and the others don't have a chance.

Aside from the Foglio art, production quality is pretty lousy too. Strange Synergy's "board" is a piece of folded plastic that doesn't lie flat. Pieces tend to be made of cheap card stock. Die-cut cardboard, Steve...it's the wave of the future!

Rant over.

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