When tattoos are interpreted as an invitation

Illustration by Louisa Bertman

Strangers like to touch me. It happens most in summer — a curious commuter lifting my skirt above my knee to look at the flowers on my thigh, a half-drunk man twisting my arm to get the perfect look at the bird on my wrist. It’s very rare that a person asks before reaching out, and it’s often in moments I’m otherwise distracted. When the person is satisfied with their view, typically they’ll roll up their sleeve or lift their shirts to show me the ink scratched onto the surface of their own bodies.

Tattooed skin mostly feels like normal…


I sought expert opinions on a mystery that everyone with a canine companion must confront

Photo by Nicole Carpenter

My two-year-old basset hound mix, Major, explores the world with his mouth. He doesn’t always eat everything he picks up, but this process is essentially a way to determine if he can eat things. I imagine his mind working like this: There’s a thing on the floor! It must be food. Once the thing is in his mouth, his brain can fork in one of two directions: Definitely not food!!!! Nope. Or IT’S FOOD! I’ll eat it all!! Ironically, Major’s mind wanders down the former path when vegetables fall on the floor while cooking. The second pathway is much more…


Games are key to understanding modern culture, but archiving them can be surprisingly challenging

Credit: The Strong

How much is history worth? In May, the video game world got an answer of sorts: $14,000.

That was the winning bid for a prototype of a cancelled game developed for the original Famicom — the Japanese name for the Nintendo Entertainment System from the 1980s, with its pixelated graphics. Indy: The Magical Kid was based on a series of Japanese choose-your-own-adventure books. The game had some early previews in magazines but was ultimately scrapped, making its reemergence on the auction block — a notable event for a community of preservationists working to save video game history.

But there was…


On the red carpet or the esports arena, the next generation of celebrities could be artificial

Illustration: Blake Kathryn

Nothing about Shudu is real, exactly. She doesn’t have a physical form, and until now, she has existed only on our screens. She lives, so to speak, mostly on Instagram, where she models clothes virtually tailored to her computer-generated body.

But last month, Shudu stepped beyond our phones and onto the red carpet at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards (BAFTAs). Unfazed by flashing cameras and rendered in holographic form, Shudu, wearing a glittering dress designed by Swarovski, posed with celebrities like Regina King and Salma Hayek.

Shudu is a kind of idealized representation of a woman…


When Adobe Flash dies, so will your childhood memories

Credit: Neopets

Sarah Closson’s Neopets routine starts with breakfast. She visits a massive omelette that’s served free eggs for nearly two decades, then collects interest at the Neopian bank and spins wheels to win prizes in Faerieland, Tyrannia, and the Haunted Woods. After that, she works on her long-term goals: Right now, she feeds the cat-like creatures called Kadoaties at the Kadoatie pound to earn a collectible avatar.

Closson, 23, has been playing Neopets for more than half her life. The site launched in 1999 and quickly became one of the most successful children’s properties online. For a time, millions of people…


MLG Vegas will have a preset map pool and no one is happy about it.

Image via MLG

Major League Gaming’s first major Overwatch tournament is quickly approaching, but participating professional players aren’t happy about the way it’s set up.

MLG revealed today that it’s forgoing a map drafting phase — which has become traditional in competitive Overwatch — for a preset map pool during the tournament (Dec. 16–18 in Las Vegas). Maps for each game through group play and brackets have already been determined: Teams will not be able to ban out any maps from the tournament. Given the prevalence of map drafting in the Overwatch tournament scene, many maps simply aren’t practiced by professional Overwatch teams.


Betway underestimated OpTic Gaming with 500/1 odds.

Photo via ELEAGUE

One OpTic Gaming fan took a big risk betting the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team would reign supreme during ELEAGUE Season 2.

Sports betting website Betway gave OpTic Gaming 500/1 odds of winning the tournament. As OpTic moved through the tournament, folks began to notice the potential large payout should they beat the odds. First, the North American Counter-Strike team had to qualify for the 16-team global tournament, then take on ELEAGUE Season 1 runner-up Fnatic in group play.

“Through all the years of having a dedicated esports trading team we thought we had seen it all, but this 500/1 shot…


Esports teams Evil Geniuses and Fnatic are in talks to appear in the film.

Photo via Eva Rinaldi (CC BY SA 2.0)

Actor and comedian Will Ferrell is looking to bump up the average esports player age by a few decades in Legendary Entertainment’s upcoming esports comedy film.

The film, written by Spongebob Squarepants 3 writers Michael Kvamme and Jordan Dunn, will center on Ferrell’s character, described as an anomaly in the esports scene because of his age. Slowing hand-eye coordination is no match for Ferrell’s character, who will take a role similar to the one he played in Talladega Nights, according to the press release. …


Cheers, love — winter is here.

Image via Blizzard

Grab your hats and gloves — Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch winter holiday event is hitting the game next week. Officially confirmed today, the event will go live Dec. 13.

The Overwatch developer formally invited all players to the event in a Twitter post, writing, “It’s the most wonderful time of the time, and we hope you’ll join us for some holiday cheer.”

From the Twitter post, it looks like Overwatch map King’s Row will get a winter makeover. The rest of the update, however, is still a mystery. And we’re still asking: Who gets to be Santa? Players are not…


There are a few obvious choices, but we’re hoping Blizzard takes a more unconventional approach.

Image via Blizzard

UPDATE (Dec. 5, 2016 1:04 pm ET): Seconds after posting this story, Blizzard confirmed the holiday event.

Leaked audio files found in late November suggest Blizzard Entertainment may be preparing for an Overwatch holiday event. A festive Overwatch theme song — part of the leaked files — inspires one major question with the community: Who gets to be Santa?

As always, Overwatch players have a lot of good ideas for holiday skins — and there are a few standouts when it comes to the jolly, bearded dude. The obvious choice, of course, is Reinhardt.

Nicole Carpenter

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