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February 2016

28 Poke Patience – Some Nerd Girl Original Webcomic

There’s a little part of me who believes she did it on purpose……..

Check out all the SNGCs here and join us every Monday for a new original SNG Webcomic!


AlexAlex is our resident Webcomic creator. He grew up in Puerto Rico, but didn’t reach true Nerdom until he came state side when he was in middle school. He’s been drawing since he was five, but has only started posting Webcomics in the past year. You can check out his amazing and original work at tapastic.com/gomezalexj.

The Young Man’s Guide to Becoming a Nerd Girl, Part 1 of 3: Wait…Tessa is Evolving

While I’ve alluded to my trans status and transition and how it’s affected me in previous pieces, I thought it was time to talk about the subject directly. After all, trans people are more visible than ever, and I hope to do my part to foster greater societal acceptance of my community. In the interest of keeping things within a sane word count, this project will be divided up in three parts- the first chronicling my personal journey towards self-understanding, the second detailing what went into my transition and the third, what I’ve learned from it.

So, strap in, and prepare yourself for a wild ride across the gender spectrum.

 Once there was a boy…

picture 1

I was born in 1987, the eldest (by less than a minute) of a set of twin identical twin boys [1]. Surprisingly, my early childhood was fairly normal, at least in the gender department – people told me I was a boy, and I took their word for it. I wasn’t a particularly feminine child, but I wasn’t a very masculine one, either – possessing a very sensitive temperament and a tendency to cry easily. I do remember wanting – and being allowed – to wear my mom’s costume jewelry (my parents, thankfully, weren’t particularly invested in gender roles or expectations), but I also recall spending a lot of my time playing in the dirt outdoors with my brother, or building LEGOS. Had I been raised female, I suspect I would’ve been an incorrigible tomboy.

I did pick up some stereotypically-female hobbies – I rode horseback[2], played the flute (giving me the distinguished honor of being That One Guy In the Piccolo section in my high school and college marching bands, which I really enjoyed), and later, learned swing dancing and knitting. However, my development otherwise didn’t appear unusual, and my brother – who is 100% a dude – had similar interests and temperament.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It wasn’t until age eleven or so that I began to become aware that something was wrong (later, I would discover that such “late onset dysphoria”, as it’s referred to clinically, is quite common in trans people, often appearing around the onset of puberty). I had a growing sense of discomfort and dissonance with my body. I felt like I should be something else – but I couldn’t articulate what. I chocked it up to being the sort of weirdness that happens during puberty, and didn’t think too much of it.

Around age 13, I discovered that I felt better and more relaxed when I pictured myself as female. This lead to suspicions that I might be trans (after all, I can’t imagine too many teenage boys daydream about being girls). While I knew trans people existed – frankly, I was fascinated by them, and devoured whatever media I could on them – what little information was available then described someone I was very much not. I liked girls, hadn’t “always known”, wasn’t overwhelmingly feminine, wasn’t particularly interested in cross dressing, and wasn’t constantly suicidally miserable. It didn’t help that popular media tended to depict trans people, and trans women in particular, as either being painfully obviously trans (the so-called “man in a dress” trope), or the product of numerous surgeries (trans writer Julia Serano has suggested these tropes aren’t accidental, and are the result of social anxieties surrounding what trans women represent). Furthermore, at the time there existed a spurious psychological theory that suggested my feelings were purely the result of a sexual deviance, which didn’t help matters, either (the theory has since been largely debunked).

picture 2

Thus, I assumed my feelings stemmed from something else, and did my best to rationalize it all away. I assumed it was some sort of sexual kink, personality quirk, result of social anxiety, or consequence of being single for too long. I noticed that it would (temporarily) go away when I was in a relationship, which lead me to conclude that whatever it was, it wasn’t that serious, and would surely go away once I got laid/fell in love/got married (later, I would find this form of denial – that “love will cure us”, as Jenny Boylan put it – is extremely common). If you would’ve asked me then what I identified as, I would’ve sincerely told you that I was a heterosexual male [3].

And so the matter sat for the next 13 years.   In the mean time, I graduated high school, went to college, and then started grad school. I had a few girlfriends, but nothing really long-lasting – until I was 25, when I met the woman who would become my fiancée.

The first year and a half or so was amazing, and resulted in me proposing to her. Surely, I thought, that would be the end of the lingering fantasies about being a woman.

 Things Get Weird

Soon, though, they began creeping back – and worse, the feeling of dissonance was gradually getting worse (this, too, is common). I had told my fiancée of my gender issues early on in our relationship, dismissing them as nothing serious – fortunately, when I realized that there might be something more to them, she was largely supportive and encouraged me to get to the bottom of it.

I started doing research, and discovered that the type of daydreams and fantasies I’d been having (sometimes referred to as cross dreaming) were sometimes the result of gender dysphoria – something which stuck at the back of my mind. I also began reading about toxic masculinity, which lead me to critically question how I related to masculinity, and lead to my eventual decision to distance myself from it (my first conscious act of gender rebellion was buying a pair of pink earbuds to replace ones I had lost – admittedly, it was also because I figured I’d be less likely to lose something brightly colored).

 The question of my gender identity simmered on the proverbial backburner for a few months (I was preoccupied with other things, including sadly, my stepfather’s rapid decline in health and death). However, on Dec. 29th, 2013, it was thrust front and center. On a flight down to visit my fiancée’s family over the holidays, I suddenly and inexplicably had an epiphany sear through my brain: Oh my God, I need to be a girl.

 Despite the seeming clarity of this revelation, it took close to six months – and a lot of help from my amazing psychologist – to fully accept my womanhood. At first, I toyed with the idea of being genderfluid or non-binary (which, in retrospect, was mostly me trying to see if I could be a woman without necessarily giving up being a man and all the sweet, sweet male privilege that goes along with it). However, as I did more research – which lead to me discovering that, despite what I had previously thought, there were many trans people who shared my experiences, sometimes even using the exact same words to describe them[4], and also that truly dramatic changes were possible from transitioning – my conviction that I would be happiest as a woman grew.

 I gradually came out to family, friends, and colleagues (all of whom have been incredibly accepting and supportive – I’m a very lucky girl). There were times when things were a little touch-and-go with my fiancé (after all, this was an extremely traumatic change to our relationship, and she needed time and space to grieve for the man she’d fallen in love with), but she ultimately chose to stay with me (as she put it, “I fell in love with you, not your gender”).

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 On Sept. 23rd, 2014, after driving 4.5 hours one way to get to a trans-friendly clinic, I took my first dose of hormone replacement therapy, designed to lower my testosterone and raise my estrogen. Within days, I noticed that my mind was calmer, quieter, and more at peace than it had been in years, erasing whatever lingering doubts I had that this was the right decision. Six months later, on my 28th birthday, I legally changed my name to Theresa, got my gender markers updated on my legal documentation, and began living as my authentic self full-time. Tessa had officially arrived.

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 [1] Family lore states that my brother and I are actually half-identical – that is, we’re genetically identical on the mother’s side but not the father’s, due to the egg splitting before fertilization. However, we’ve never had a DNA test to confirm this, and practically speaking, we appear largely identical to most people.

 [2] Admittedly, having a former Olympic-level equestrian as a mother, and growing up in a horse farm meant this was probably inevitable – after all, I was literally in a saddle before I could walk. However,

I’ve stuck to it far longer than many men I knew who grew up in similar environments.

 [3] In retrospect, there were obvious signs – the discomfort I felt in all-male groups and happiness I had in otherwise-all-female ones, the fact that I felt the need to periodically grow my stubble out during my freshmen year (which I otherwise despised) to remind everyone that I was, in fact, a guy, the strange mixture of envy and yearning I had for lesbian relationships, my toying with the idea of going on herbal supplements alleged to encourage breast growth “to see what would happen” – it’s surprising how I missed it, honestly. Just goes to show how powerful denial can be.

 [4] I also found out that trans lesbians were A Thing, which was truly revelatory – in fact, as it turns out, two thirds of trans women identify as lesbian, bisexual, or queer.

Part 2 | Part 3


TessTessa is a 28 year old PhD student, and perhaps the world’s only queer trans astrobiologist. A nerd going way back, her interests include science fiction, space exploration, sustainability, science communication, and feminism and gender. Her hobbies also include horseback riding, playing the flute, social dancing, knitting, and occasional attempts at writing fiction. She currently resides in Tempe, AZ with her even nerdier fiancee and a mastiff mix who thinks he’s a lapdog. She tweets occasionally @spacermase.

I Made (Another) Thing!

Back in October, I proudly announced that I had Made a Thing called Colony One. I was pretty excited about this, as it was the second novel I had put out there for the world to read.  Sometime around November, I announced that I would be posting my next creation live as I wrote it.

Well, to make a long story short; I am thrilled to announce that creation – Urban Fantasy novel Unforgettable – has been released into the wild and is available for purchase as of today!

3D Mock Five
Digital Format

3D Mock Two
Paperback

 

Unforgettable tells the story of Cassidy “Cas” Dubois – a girl whose natural born talent of stealing memories has secured her a place within the local supernatural community – whether she likes it or not. Which she usually does not. She struggles with her isolation daily but as we follow her here, all that is about to change. This story has it all – vampires, Weres, witches, demons and Death.

There are so many things about this novel for me to be excited about. Such as:

  • It’s the second book that belongs to the Children of the Fallen series – and sets the tone for the novels to come as I introduce more Nephilim that are forced to come to terms with their nature and unavoidable crisis.
  • I was able to share this work before publishing it. This allowed me to gauge the interest, success of the story line itself and get the feedback I needed to make the novel even better. A great MANY thanks to those who read and gave me their thoughts!
  • I managed to score yet another phenomenal cover from my favorite designer.
  • With each novel release, I am growing my brand and (hopefully!) expanding my reader base.

As many of you know, self-publishing has its pros and cons – but I have to admit that this experience has been one of the better ones. I had a great support system, a really fun story to write and the benefits of learning from my previous adventures with Children of the Fallen and Colony One.

I cannot underline enough how much the support of my readers, friends and family has helped in allowing me to continue this journey. This announcement would be incomplete without a very large and very sincere THANK YOU to all of you. All I ever wanted to do was put out entertaining stories that inspire the imagination – and I look forward to doing this for years to come!


Eve2Eve is the founder of Some Nerd Girl and the author of urban fantasy novels Children of the Fallen and Unforgettable as well as science fiction novel Colony One. She has been writing since the age of 13 and has been flying her nerd flag for the past 16 years. Fandoms include Star Wars, Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica. Basically if it has ‘star’ in it, she’ll give it a shot.

27 Why Kylo Ren Turned to the Dark Side, pt 3 – Some Nerd Girl Original Comic

Darth probably could have gone on for a while…

Check out all the SNGCs here and join us every Monday for a new original SNG Webcomic!


AlexAlex is our resident Webcomic creator. He grew up in Puerto Rico, but didn’t reach true Nerdom until he came state side when he was in middle school. He’s been drawing since he was five, but has only started posting Webcomics in the past year. You can check out his amazing and original work at tapastic.com/gomezalexj.

The Astrobiologist’s Guide to the Galaxy

In my last post, I detailed some of the hottest locations for astrobiology in our Solar System. Today, however, we’re going to be going farther afield- outside the Solar System entirely, in fact.

The discovery of exoplanets – planets that orbit other stars- has been one of the great scientific success stories of the last century. In less than 20 years, we’ve gone from a handful of early detections to literally over a thousand (plus thousands more “candidates” that are awaiting verification). Obviously, astrobiologists have been more than a little excited by this pace of discovery.

Detecting an exoplanet is no mean feat- such bodies are usually a million times dimmer than their host star, and the light of the star tends to overwhelm such faint emissions. However, several techniques have been developed to get around these limitations.

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The earliest used, Doppler spectroscopy,takes advantage of the fact as a planet orbits a star, it “tugs” on its center of mass, causing it to “wobble” ever so slightly. The motion due to this wobble can be detected by looking for the resulting Doppler shift in the star’s spectra. However, this method is generally most effective in determining extremely large planets that orbit close to their parents stars (so called “hot Jupiters”), which are unlikely to host life.

The most successful method used to date has been transit photometry, which looks for tiny dips in the star’s light output as the planet crosses in front of it. This method does have some limitations- the star, the planet, and Earth have to be precisely aligned for the transit dip to be visible- but it’s a relatively easy signal to look for otherwise. Transit photometry has been used by a number of different observing missions, the most famous example being the spectacular planet-hunting Kepler space telescope.

A few other planets have been detected using more esoteric methods, such as gravitational microlensing or timing pulsations in stars and pulsars. A scant handful have even been directly imaged, although this only feasible if the planet is extremely large, hot, and widely separated from its host star.

Using these methods, a whole zoo of exoplanets has been detected. Most of them are likely to be uninhabitable- but let’s take a look at the ones that might be a bit more promising for seekers of extraterrestrial life.

Keplers

Kepler-296e

One of the most Earth-like planets (at least in terms of mass and theoretical surface temperatures) yet discovered, Kepler-296e is 1.75 times the size of Earth.   It orbits a red dwarf star 1089 light years away, which is part of a binary system. It is located within the habitable zone of the star, where the temperature is warm enough for water to be liquid on the surface. Kepler-296’s habitable zone is much closer than the Earth is to the sun, owing to the cooler temperature of the host star; the planet orbits its star in only 34 days.

Kepler-442b

Located 1,120 light years from Earth, Kepler-442b also orbits a cooler red dwarf star. It’s 2.34 times the size of Earth, and would have a surface gravity about 30% greater (definitely the planet to go to if you want to get a good workout).

Kepler-62e

Detected 1,200 light years from Earth in the Lyra constellation, Kepler-62e is a member of an older star system, being likely billions of years older than Earth. It is thought to have a rocky composition (like Earth’s), and computer modeling suggests the planet could be largely covered by oceans. It’s considered a strong enough candidate for habitability that it’s been targeted for observation by the SETI program.

Gliese 832 c

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One of the closest potentially habitable planets detected, Gliese 832 c is a scant 16.1 lights away. It is thought to have an extremely elliptical orbit, as planets go- that is to say, the distance from its star varies considerably. Consequently, the surface temperature may swing from -40 degrees Celsius to 7 degrees Celsius, depending on where the planet is in its orbit; on average, however, the temperature is warm enough to allow liquid water. However, it is possible the planet may have developed a dense atmosphere, leaving it in an uninhabitably hot state similar to Venus. Further observation will be required to determine how friendly to life the planet really is.

KIC 8462852

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Unlike the other entries in this list, KIC 8462852 isn’t a planet. In fact, we’re not entirely sure what it is.   The star first became well-known when analysis of Kepler data detected a intermittent, massive drop in the amount of light produced by the star- equivalent to covering up over half the star’s visible surface- something that had never been observed before. Furthermore, no dust or debris cloud has been detected around the star.

Initially, it was thought that the dimming could be due a mass of comets pulled inwards by a passing star- and, indeed, there’s another star in the local area that could’ve done such a thing. However, an examination of historical images showed that KIC 8462852 has been dimming for the last century- far too long a timescale for the comet explanation.

Lacking any other explanation, some researchers have begun speculating that the dimming could be due to the construction of megastructures in orbit around the star- perhaps a swarm of solar power satellites to capture the maximum amount of the star’s energy (popularly referred to as a Dyson sphere or Dyson swarm).

Admittedly, there are some problems with the aliens-did-it hypothesis- the laws of thermodynamics dictate that such structures would generate a large and detectable quantity of waste heat, which has yet to be observed. Observing campaigns by SETI also haven’t turned up any signs of intelligent life. Nonetheless, the sheer weirdness of the system means it will likely be a target of investigation for the foreseeable future. Whatever’s going on out there, it’s not like anything we’ve seen before.

Conclusion

These are just a handful of the potential living worlds that might be found throughout our galaxy. Undoubtedly more will be detected by upcoming missions, such as the James Webb Space Telescope, PLATO, and Kepler’s successor TESS. Get your travel itineraries ready- because the list of possible cosmic vacation hotspots is only going to keep growing!


TessTessa is a 28 year old PhD student, and perhaps the world’s only queer trans astrobiologist. A nerd going way back, her interests include science fiction, space exploration, sustainability, science communication, and feminism and gender. Her hobbies also include horseback riding, playing the flute, social dancing, knitting, and occasional attempts at writing fiction. She currently resides in Tempe, AZ with her even nerdier fiancee and a mastiff mix who thinks he’s a lapdog. She tweets occasionally @spacermase.

 

I Zombie, You Zombie, We All Zombie

When I was in college, I signed up for a popular lit and culture class. Not because I wanted to or I thought it sounded interesting. Because I needed more English credits and I’d already taken Comp 1 and 2. In reality, I thought it was going to be a big waste of my time.

I was strongly opinioned back then.

I thought it was going to be a ‘cake’ class where we read whatever was popular at the time and talked about it. I couldn’t have been further from the truth. The professor posed a different approach to how we look at pop culture – which was that it tended to reflect our biggest fears and misgivings about the progress of any one generation.

BladeRunner
AI that indulges in a human vice. Weird!

We watched Blade Runner, for instance, and talked about the fear of AI. We watched and read sci-fi movies and stories from the 50s that seemed to clearly reflect fears about radiation and nuclear technology. We read Vampire stories from the 70s that paralleled drug culture and how it seemed to be all-consuming. We read short stories from African authors that explored magic that was supposed to represent the darkness or purity in all of us.

Ants
Ooh no..! Radioactive ants!

I ended up thoroughly enjoying the class and it’s helped me look at popular culture and media in a different way. Fast forward to the end of last year when I was having a casual conversation with a colleague of mine – I was telling him about my book, Colony One, and how it explores overpopulation’s impact on our future.

And my colleague, who has roots and family in the South, informs me that his uncle always used to say when a squirrel population became too large, they would all go insane. This intrigued me, and when I inquired into what, exactly, he meant by ‘insane’ he explained that they’d kill and eat each other. I found this fascinating, if not a little traumatizing. It was the first I’d heard of it, and being the kind of person I am, I went home and Googled – trying to understand if there was any known science around this, or if it was just an observation of rural living.

I couldn’t find anything substantial about squirrels, but I did find this concept of Behavioral Sink, which describes the collapse in behavior in overcrowding situations as observed in rats through experiments. When a population of rats was purposefully overcrowded, maternal behaviors plummeted – mothers were not taking care of their young (if their young survived birth), while males displayed sexual deviancy and cannibalism.

CalhounJ - Rat Experiment
A photo from the experiment that brought about the concept of Behavioral Sink.

Now, my Popular Lit and Culture class predated the zombie craze that was most recently popularized by The Walking Dead. So this discovery of Behavioral Sink got me thinking about the implications of speculative writing where overpopulation is a huge factor. And while many zombie stories do not always speak to the element of overpopulation, the ‘zombie craze’ feels like a direct ripple of the innate fears of overpopulation. We use mice and rats in experiments because we can parallel many of the behaviors between theirs and ours. If we take the overcrowding experiments on rats as reflective of what could happen in the same situation with humans, zombies make a lot more sense.

This is the part where I admit that I am not all about the zombie craze. Zombies have always been 100% terrifying and unappealing to me. It’s one of those story tropes that really get under my skin – I always used to assume it was because having a bunch of mindless, brain-obsessed people-shaped things that had no hope for redemption running around was terrifying enough. But now I’m beginning to think it speaks to a deeper psychological fear that reflects the natural inclination to go insane in overcrowding situations.

TheWalkingDead
Seriously, this is terrifying.

And while I can promise that the subsequent sequels to Colony One will not feature zombies, there will be plenty of evidence of insanity – when populations are pushed to the brink, terrible things can happen. Group think, combined with discontented desperation and competition for resources will always be a recipe for disaster. As I write this, and as I’ve had these revelations, I find it increasingly ironic that a class I so resisted at first, I am now possibly contributing to future iterations of. My books could easily be toted as cautionary tales, a clear indication of present-day speculative fears and underlying unease.

Most zombie lore involves some kind of virus and a ‘Patient Zero’. I pose a more horrifying supposition; which is there will be no virus. Nothing that strips us of our agency – rather a tipping point of psychology and circumstance.

Those zombie books, TV shows and movies may never be the same again…


Eve2Eve is the founder of Some Nerd Girl and the author of urban fantasy novel Children of the Fallen and science fiction novel Colony One. She has been writing since the age of 13 and has been flying her nerd flag for the past 16 years. Fandoms include Star Wars, Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica. Basically if it has ‘star’ in it, she’ll give it a shot.

26 Why Kylo Ren Turned to the Dark Side, pt 2 – Some Nerd Girl Original Webcomic

I bet Starbucks actually accounts for many people turning to the Dark Side…

Check out all the SNGCs here and join us every Monday for a new original SNG Webcomic!


AlexAlex is our resident Webcomic creator. He grew up in Puerto Rico, but didn’t reach true Nerdom until he came state side when he was in middle school. He’s been drawing since he was five, but has only started posting Webcomics in the past year. You can check out his amazing and original work at tapastic.com/gomezalexj.

Book Review: The Last Station Before Heaven by Peter J. Mylin

The Last Station before Heaven by Peter J. Mylin is set during a time where Christianity has been outlawed. It is narrated by a journalist invited by a former priest to find the last station before heaven – located in a kind of underground. At first our nameless journalist tells us about his story; that he doesn’t know where his wife is, his son is gay and doesn’t know if he survived the persecution of homosexuals and he hopes that this journey to find the last station before heaven will be worth it.

He meets the former priest, John Campbell, and his cat, Eva, and they spend the rest of the book decoding messages in hidden CDs that play hymns. Our journalist and John talk about John’s former life, being the head of a massive corporation-like church.

As the road trip continues we learn more about why Christianity was outlawed, and why most people wouldn’t like it; churches ruled like governments, and basically sucked the money out of their parishioners and spit them back out when they didn’t have any more money.

I thought the world described by Mylin was believable, and more than that, it was interesting. I read this book online, and I couldn’t stop clicking to advance the page. Usually I find a lot of fault in books that have a clear stance on religion and why we as a society should or shouldn’t have it, but the story was engaging and well developed. I also thought that the main characters were developed and weren’t just the two sides of the story. They were hilarious, and confusing, and weird and sad. I myself preferred John’s frank manner of speaking about all the mistakes that he had made in his life, and whether he felt that his actions were justified.

I was on the edge of my seat throughout the entire story even though the characters went through a cycle of getting a secret disc, cracking the code, and then going to the next location there was enough variety at each destination to keep me interested.

Although I really enjoyed this story I thought that it could have used more female characters, and the female characters like Jael could have been more developed. I won’t spoil it, but I felt the ending was too perfect. As a reader I felt like I had followed this story, this journey about characters that I cared about, for no reason.

All in all, I really enjoyed reading this book and I would give it three out five stars.

3outof5


MirandaMiranda is a college student studying Adventure Education and Sustainable Agriculture. Don’t let all that outdoorsy-ness fool you, when the Deathly Hallows came out Miranda was at the release party. Other nerdy credits include having deep discussions about various book series on reddit, tumblr, and twitter. She loves Harry Potter, the Hunger Games, the Delirium series, basically anything dystopian and the community of Nerdfighteria. You can find her on twitter @genderisweird, check her out on her blog and tumblr.

 

Final Fantasy XIV – The MMO You Should Be Playing!

I’m a huge JRPG (Japanese Role Playing Game) nerd, a love that stemmed from dipping my toes into the Final Fantasy franchise at age 11 with the tenth installment in the main series – Final Fantasy X. It’s also the series that taught me how to use Roman numerals, if you can believe that. I fell deeply in love with the characters, the story, the way I could build and develop my party, oh, and the music. That music was the soundtrack of my teenage years, (along with Linkin Park, Muse and Evanescence… we all make poor choices okay?) and followed me to my adult years, as I picked up more Final Fantasy titles. In order, I played IX, X-2, VIII, VII, III, VI and XIII, the latter being my least favourite.

I stayed away from the first FF MMORPG (that’s a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game for anyone not familiar with the daft term) which was XI, because it didn’t appeal to me. Plus, I had somehow managed to dodge the online gaming bug that seemingly started with World of Warcraft. I had to pay monthly to play a game with strangers who were probably going to be mean to me? You’re talking to someone who gets worn out from talking to friends in real life, let alone online! I played a WoW trial for an hour a few years ago and didn’t enjoy it. When I first heard about the next MMO in the series – Final Fantasy XIV – I was intrigued. I’d heard that it was going to be available on PS3 as well as the PC, which appealed massively to me, as my PC at the time was basically an advanced typewriter.

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But… well, when FFXIV first came out, it wasn’t received very well. In fact, ‘disaster’ wasn’t even a strong enough word for it. Bugs galore, shoddy interface, lacklustre content – there was still a loyal, if frustrated, fan base for the game, and despite attempts to fix the unseemingly unfinished launch product, the game was pulled offline altogether and completely rebuilt from the ground up. Released under the title Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn with a new team in control (ALL HAIL YOSHI-P!), they literally dropped a meteor on the old story and world, bringing in a fresh start for old players and new.

So, where do I come in? Well, a friend of mine called James (check his Twitter, he’s a huge comic book nerd!) introduced it to me as he played with someone we knew. They showed me the massive in-game world, along with their characters and classes, and then told me to give it a go. I saw there was a trial available for me to play, so I installed and found myself immersed in the story from the beginning. I was a Warrior of Light, destined for something amazing as time would go on. I created my character, a human Gladiator named Kezia Walker, and started my journey in the vast world of Eorzea.

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This game would have won me over had it been a standalone game, as it ticks all the boxes that I expect from a FF title – the surroundings are absolutely gorgeous, the characters are engaging, and the story… easily the best in a long time, probably since X. And I probably don’t need to comment on the music, the composer Nobuo Uematsu is a genius, I couldn’t love him more if I tried.

I was amazed at just how much content I could do without having to build a party, or even communicate with other players. The effort was made on my behalf, matching me with other players to do the first dungeon in the story as well as other content which required four players. My role as a Gladiator put me in position of being a Tank for the party, meaning I would take the enemy’s attention away from the other members, while the DPS (damage dealers) pummeled their way through, leaving the Healer safe from harm. It was a role I didn’t quite understand, and when I found myself in a Free Company (FFXIV’s guild system) and played with more experienced players, I realised that taking charge and being a sponge for damage wasn’t quite for me.

The brilliant thing about FFXIV in my opinion, is the Job system. You start off with a class – so in my case, I was a Gladiator – which would then lead me to picking up a Job as I levelled up. This requires some experience in another class, which is an option in FFXIV. I know people who play WoW who have multiple accounts to play different roles, as that’s the only way you can, but not in FFXIV!

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The Job available to me beyond my class was Paladin – which required getting to level 30 on my Gladiator, and level 15 in the healing class Conjurer. So, I played at healing as a Conjurer, and found that I enjoyed healing way more than I ever did tanking. And although I eventually unlocked the Paladin Job, I continued to level Conjurer, before levelling up the Arcanist class to 15 so I could become a White Mage. It sounds complicated on paper, but couldn’t be easier to pick up in-game.

I also ditched my human appearance and became an adorable purple-haired Lalafell – a race that can only be described as what an anthropomorphised potato would look like – took up the stave and became a determined, if easily irritated healer. I have now been playing FFXIV for well over a year, I have made some amazing friends within my Free Company, I’ve shared some amazing experiences and have been lucky enough to see this game go from strength to strength. The original incarnation of FFXIV was known as version 1.0, A Realm Reborn was 2.0 and with the launch of the first expansion for the game called Heavensward, we are now in the era of 3.0. And with yet another free patch rolling in on February 23rd, it only gets better.

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As for the tale of plucky Lalafell White Mage Kezia Walker? Well, she’s conquered gods, downed beasts and has saved the world from oblivion more times that anyone has counted. Along with every other Warrior of Light she has encountered during her time. And you know what? She’s had a lot of fun along the way. If only her FC mates would stop slapping her…

Final Fantasy XIV Online is available on PC, PS3, PS4 and Steam. Heavensward available separately. 14 day free trial also available – and highly recommended!

Are you already playing? If you’re on the Cerberus server, look me up and we’ll do some fun things together!


ClaireClaire is a foul-mouthed British twenty-something who spends most of her time pretending to be an adult. Her nerd status started from an early age with her dad’s love of sci-fi and developed through a love of gaming, reading and horror. As well as volunteering for a charity, Claire writes about her life with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and mental health over at her blog, as well as tweeting nonsense over as @MouthAndSpoons. The dream is to either make it as a successful writer, or go into mental health research. She lives at home with her equally nerdy husband, their dog Lady, cat Pip and a lot of fish.

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