About LVLS+


LVLS has been many things over its long tenure online. Beginning as Wildcat Online as a Tripod site, then transitioning to LVLs. when I moved to WordPress, the site has evolved into a primarily video game focused sphere of my writing. As of May 2019, I have merged both my academic games writing and my …well, less academic writing onto this domain, effectively making it LVLS+.

The academic side includes papers and essays specifically tied to my research interests. I am slowly uploading my paper on my UC Merced research project, First & Frequent Fantasy: UC Merced Women and Gaming, here, as well as other original research. I am currently documenting localization efforts on the NES and Famicom consoles in a series titled Culture Clash!, as well as a chronological examination of women in NES and Famicom games, Femicom. I also look into other areas related to video games, gender and gaming culture, including my essay “Beyond Good & Evil: The state of Gender and Video Games in 2013 , as well as my series “Gender Gazette“. I also self-examine my own personal relationship with games, such as my essay “Continue?: Bullies, Video Games and the Concept of an Extra Life.” It may be several weeks in between these kinds of posts, although my goal is to try to post at least one to two articles on this level here a month.

As for the more lighthearted fare, I add art, music and opinion pieces on video games and occasionally other topics. As I work a 8 – 5 job during the week, I don’t have the time/energy to write on here as much as I’d like, but I do try to post these kinds of posts a few times a week.

Comments, likes and social media sharing options are disabled. All of my academic work here will maintain a high degree of professionalism, and will be sourced properly if required. Game music, screenshots and artwork will be included if I feel that the inclusion adds emphasis to the topic at hand. Images come courtesy of many sources, and I have made a specific post compiling my major sources, and will attempt to keep it up with future updates.

For copyright’s sake: All of the games, books, anime, music, characters and artwork featured on this site are trademarks of their respective owners. This blog provides an academic perspective onto the correlation between video games and culture, and I am not attempting to infringe or claim any legal rights over any part of the games presented here themselves. The words, however, are mine (outside of outside sources, which will be properly linked, captioned and/or referenced, depending on the article).

And now, my personal bio:

Age – 37
Hobbies – gaming, drawing, photography, creative and critical writing, reading, theater, collecting old books and video game stuff, yoga, open mics, analyzing games anthropologically, trying new things

Broadly speaking, my research interests (and what you can expect here) encompass:
* Gaming and gender (studying how female game players engage in video games, as well as studying women in games as characters)
* Localization practices that ignore, distort or erase cultural elements (box art, marketing materials, in-game text or graphic elements, etc.)
* The dynamics of death and violence in gaming (not in the overzealous media sense, but in how the concept is implemented in games and how it is presented to the player, alongside examining how different cultures represent these ideas)
* The history of the medium and how things are changing globally (in particular how certain regions are evolving)
* Utilizing games as a cultural artifact in itself, and what we can learn about culture from them.

I will likely continue to discover new areas that intrigue me as well!

Experiencing the Colecovision back when I was 2 or 3.

Favorite Games: Here’s a link to the Top 111 hub.

Favorite Game Characters – I’m going to be writing features on my favorite characters here and here.

Favorite Genre – I’ve got a pretty diverse set of tastes when it comes to games. I primarily like RPGs (of Western and Japanese origin), platformers, third-person action games, and 2D fighters the most. I am not too thrilled by the majority of racing, puzzle, and first-person shooter titles out there, but there are a few exceptions.

Favorite Soundtracks – My top 25 are listed here.

Favorite Songs from Games – I’ve put up a monster list here.

Favorite Composers – If I had to select only ten composers, I’d have to say…Koji Kondo (Super Mario/Legend of Zelda), Kinuyo Yamashita (Castlevania/Power Blade), Naoki Kodaka (Blaster Master/Batman [NES]), Christophe Héral (Beyond Good & Evil/Rayman Origins and Legends), Michiru Yamane (Castlevania), Stephen Rippy (Age of Mythology/Age of Empires), Shoji Mejiro (Persona), Michiko Narube (Wild ARMs, Super Smash Bros.), Nobuo Uematsu (The Last Story/Final Fantasy), and Akira Yamaoka (Silent Hill)

Favorite Game Artists – Kimihiko Fujisaka, Ayami Kojima, Yasushi Suzuki, Shigenori Soejima, Akira Toriyama, Tatsuya Yoshikawa, Kinu Nishimura, Shinriko, CRMK, Itsuki Hoshi

Favorite Game Franchises – I made a feature!

My Video Games, VG Books and VG Toy Collection

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Other Favorites
Classics –
Invisible Man (Ralph Ellison), Brave New World (Aldous Huxley), Watership Down (Richard Adams), the essays of Mark Twain, The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck), Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, The Revolt of the Angels and Penguin Island (Anatole France), Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoevsky), We (Yevgeny Zamyatin), Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury), Mary Barton (Elizabeth Gaskell), Hard Times (Charles Dickens), Flatland (Edwin Abbott)

Modern Fiction – The Flavia de Luce mystery series (Alan Bradley), His Dark Materials series (Philip Pullman), Old Man’s War and Zoe’s Tale (John Scalzi), White Noise (Don DeLillo), Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful World (Keiichi Sigsawa), Stardust and The Graveyard Book (Neil Gaiman)

Non-Fiction – Lies My Teacher Told Me/Lies Across America/Teaching What Really Happened/Sundown Towns (James W. Loewen), Twain’s Feast (Andrew Beahrs), The Mother Tongue/At Home/Made in America (Bill Bryson), Bonk/Packing to Mars/Stiff/Gulp (Mary Roach), Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat (various), Society of the Spectacle (Guy Debord), I Am Error (Nathan Altice), Legends of Localization (Clyde Mandelin), Good Nintentions/NES Works (Jeremy Parish)

Drama – Cyrano de Bergerac (Edmond Rostand), Macbeth/Hamlet/Othello/Merchant of Venice (William Shakespeare), Lysistrata (Aristophanes), Man and Superman (George Bernard Shaw)

Poetry – Leaves of Grass (Walt Whitman), Spoon River Anthology (Edgar Lee Masters), the poetry of Robert Frost, the poetry of Edgar Allan Poe, the sonnets and lyrics of Edna St. Vincent Millay, The Ballad of Reading Gaol (Oscar Wilde), Beowulf, the poetry of Ruth Wills

Manga/Graphic Novels – Qwan (Aki Shimizu), Battle Angel Alita (Yukito Koshiro), Apocalypse Meow (aka Cat-Shit One, Motofumi Kobayashi), Nausicaä Of the Valley of the Wind (Hayao Miyazaki), Thieves and Kings (Mark Oakley), Saga (Brian K. Vaughn/Fiona Staples), Lynd Ward’s six graphic novels

Favorite Authors – Ralph Ellison, William Shakespeare, Anatole France, James W. Loewen, Bill Bryson, Mary Roach

Favorite Movies – Pretty much 90% of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Juno, The Princess Bride, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Hamlet (Branagh’s), The Dark Knight, This is Spinal Tap, Macbeth (Welles), Robin Hood (Disney), The Muppet Movie, Song of the Sea, Zootopia, Star Wars (original trilogy and Force Awakens/Last Jedi), Wonder Woman, Logan, Alita: Battle Angel, Aliens, Captain Marvel, Avengers: Endgame, Spider Man: Far From Home

Favorite TV Shows – Whose Line is it Anyway? (the US seasons), Mythbusters, Cosmos (Sagan), Full Frontal, Last Week Tonight, Late Night with Seth Meyers

Favorite Anime – Princess Mononoke, Cowboy Bebop, FLCL, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Ponyo, Summer Wars, Trigun, Spirited Away, Your Name, My Neighbor Totoro

Favorite Artists – Fritz Eichenberg, Agnes Miller Parker, Frank C. Pape, Lynd Ward, Pierre Brissaud, Arthur Szyk, Zhenya Gay, Toshihiro Kawamoto, Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, Hayao Miyazaki, Sylvain Sauvage

25 Favorite Songs (one per artist or band, in no real order):

  1. Willing to Fight, Ani DiFranco
  2. Try Honesty, Billy Talent
  3. Duvet [acoustic], Boa
  4. One More Time, Daft Punk
  5. Electric Twist, A Fine Frenzy (Alison Sudol)
  6. The Heart of the Sea, Flogging Molly
  7. February Stars, Foo Fighters
  8. Kill v. Maim, Grimes
  9. Canned Heat, Jamiroquai
  10. 555, Jimmy Eat World
  11. The Rainbow Connection, Kermit the Frog
  12. Speak to Me Bones, Land of Talk
  13. Radio Silence (Little Round Mirrors ver.), Harvey Danger
  14. Lady Bones, Magneta Lane
  15. I Tried (So Hard), The Matches
  16. Hunger, Of Monsters and Men
  17. In Repair (live), Our Lady Peace
  18. Whispers, Passenger
  19. Like a Love Song (Back to Back), The Pillows
  20. Braille, Regina Spektor
  21. Brave New World, Richard Ashcroft
  22. Bag of Bones, Silversun Pickups
  23. Downtown, Tegan and Sara
  24. Hazing, Throwing Muses
  25. Only in Dreams, Weezer

25 Favorite Albums (in no real order):

  1. Clumsy, Our Lady Peace
  2. Spiritual Machines, Our Lady Peace
  3. Billy Talent II, Billy Talent
  4. Dead Silence, Billy Talent
  5. Decomposer, The Matches
  6. Cloak and Cipher, Land of Talk
  7. We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, Modest Mouse
  8. How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, Florence + The Machine
  9. Soviet Kitsch, Regina Spektor
  10. Swoon, Silversun Pickups
  11. Widow’s Weeds, Silversun Pickups
  12. Automatic for the People, R.E.M.
  13. Disciplined Breakdown, Collective Soul
  14. Weezer (Blue Album), Weezer
  15. Make Yourself, Incubus
  16. Gambling with God, Magneta Lane
  17. White Blood Cells, The White Stripes
  18. Art Angels, Grimes
  19. Surviving, Jimmy Eat World
  20. Understanding, Mirah
  21. The Colour and the Shape, Foo Fighters
  22. Little Busters, The Pillows
  23. Beneath the Skin, Of Monsters and Men
  24. Speed of Darkness, Flogging Molly
  25. Living in Clip, Ani DiFranco

Favorite Bands/Performers – Our Lady Peace, The Matches, Magneta Lane, Land of Talk, Silversun Pickups, Jimmy Eat World, The Pillows, Tegan and Sara, Harvey Danger, Billy Talent, Flogging Molly, Ani DiFranco, Of Monsters and Men, Regina Spektor, R.E.M., Foo Fighters, Mirah