Book Review: Chainmail Bikini: The Anthology of Women Gamers

by - 3:23:00 AM

Title: Chainmail Bikini: The Anthology of Women Gamers
Author: Edited by Hazel Newlevant
Pages: 103
Genre: Graphic Novel
Release Date: 01 May 2015

From Goodreads: "Chainmail Bikini is an anthology of comics by and about female gamers! 40 cartoonists have contributed comics about the games they’re passionate about—from video games to table-top role-playing to collectible card games. The comics in Chainmail Bikini explore the real-life impact of entering a fantasy world, how games can connect us with each other and teach us about ourselves." 

Special thanks to Alexis Montclaire and Word of the Nerd for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for review!

Hello readers! Today I am posting a review about a graphic novel that I was lucky enough to read called Chainmail Bikini. This is definitely not my typical type of book that I read, but I really want to try and branch out more and explore some different genres that are out there. Not only is this a graphic novel, which is something I don't read a lot of and definitely don't review on my blog, but this is a book filled with stories about female gamers.

I really enjoyed reading a new genre of book, especially one about a topic that is close to home. I am not only a reader but also a gamer, so this was a treat to be able to read some stories about other female gamers and their experiences in the world of video games. I have read countless stories about other females being called "fake girl gamers" and such, so reading a book with so many positive stories about how gaming has impacted these various girls was awesome.

I think my favorite out of all of the stories was Pocket Worlds by Anna Rose. It was short but sweet and really captured a feeling that I believe most people feel when playing video games. Out in the real world, a lot of people feel that they lack control over the things that happen in their day to day lives, and it's hard to deal with for some. But in the world of video games, you can quite literally be anyone you could imagine. You can be the hero that saves the princess, a super strong fighter, or travel the world catching incredibly cool pocket monsters. Video games allow an escape that not everyone may be able to experience, and it's so wonderful to read all of these unique experiences.

What I enjoyed most about this collection was the diversity included in its pages. The topics ranged anywhere from video games such as Diablo 2 (and even a reference to the cow level!) to table top games like Dungeons and Dragons. Not only were the topics diverse, but so were the comic artists. There were several trans and non-binary artists and it was really cool to see so much variety in not only the content but also the contributors. Each of the 40 stories that is included in this book is unique and I love getting to read about the individuals and how their lives have been changed by the different forms of gaming, especially because there are so many that bring back memories of how I was introduced to the gaming world.

Each of the stories/comics was fairly short, maybe a few pages at most. While I wished that some of them were longer, I could see the benefit of them being on the shorter side. If you happen to encounter a story that you're not a huge fan of, it's over pretty quickly and you can move on to the next one. There may be some that are a bit abstract and out there, but most of them are super fun and relatable, and it's really fun to get various perspectives of the different genres of games and how differently they can be interpreted by others. For example, Reticulating Splines by Amanda Scurti was a great look into the SIMS game and how it can sometimes lead to questioning yourself and your actions inside the game. It was clever and really got me thinking, and that is something I can always appreciate in writing, even with it being just a few pages long!

As a side note, She's the Backbone of this Facility by Laura Lannes actually had me tear up a bit. It has a great message and gives some real insight into the character/computer thing named GLaDOS. Please excuse my possible incorrect terminology when it comes to this series. I've attempted to play the Portal series before, but got super frustrated when I couldn't get the portal system down so I gave up. But after reading this, it really got me interested in the story and I think it's going to have to be my next game pickup. This was very well written and I'd like to extend a virtual high-five to the writer for getting me emotionally invested in a character I know absolutely nothing about!

Chainmail Bikini is a wonderful collection of personal stories that is sure to entertain fans of any form of gaming. It gives some great insight into female gamers that may not always be advertised or available. All of the stories are sure to make readers remember just why and how they got into gaming and maybe even inspire those who haven't yet taken the plunge into this crazy, beautiful world. I encourage anyone and everyone who is looking for a fun graphic novel to take a look at Chainmail Bikini and prepare for an amazing journey through the world of gaming!

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