QUESTIONS ABOUT CATHY & FRIENDS
Is Cathy really a girl? Yes. Last time I checked at least.
How old is Cathy? 27.
Where is Cathy from? Palo Alto, California.
What’s with all this Kairi stuff? I thought having a pen name would be neat at first. Now it’s just annoying. Nobody knows how to pronounce it, among other things. Call me Cathy.
One person does all these reviews? There’s about fifty reviews that were done by other people I brought on, but from here on out, it’s just me.
How long has Cathy played games? My first console was the original Playstation, which Santa Claus brought me for Christmas of 1996, along with my first game, Crash Bandicoot. I was seven years old. I got a Nintendo 64 for my 9th birthday, along with Banjo-Kazooie and Mario Kart 64. I’ve been a regular gamer ever since.
What kind of games is Cathy into? I don’t really have any particular favorite genre or style of game. For Indie Gamer Chick, I’m willing to play any type of game. Outside of my site, I’m pretty much the same way. My favorite stuff is usually adventure games and RPGs. My least favorite genre is probably shoot ’em ups. But I’m open to the possibility that any game can be good, whether it’s about space warfare or curling or nose picking.
What does Cathy have against retro gaming? It’s not necessarily retro gaming that I’m against. It’s the idea that games were better whenever “back in the day” was. People have interpreted that to mean that I think all older games suck. I don’t think all old games suck, but some age more gracefully than others. I do believe that some games that are considered all-time classics really aren’t that good anymore. I also don’t understand how gamers can replay some titles dozens of times when there are thousands of new experiences just a finger tip away from them.
How does Cathy’s epilepsy affect her ability to play games? It’s really not a major issue. My epilepsy developed around the time I was sixteen. In all that time, I think I’ve only had a seizure that resulted directly from playing games less than half a dozen times. I do need to exercise caution and be selective about what games I play, and usually try to avoid games that rely too heavily on strobe effects. Such things are the most likely to set off a spell. For more information, read my editorial called “The Epilepsy Thing.”
However, my epilepsy does preclude me from playing Virtual Reality games, such as Oculus Rift. One of the keys to me playing games relatively safely is proper distance from screen. VR only gives the illusion of depth, but my eyes and my brain will still pick up on the flicker and the proximity even if I don’t realize it. Unfortunately, as a result I can never play any form of VR.
How does autism affect Cathy? Most people are surprised to learn that I have autism. Probably because autism is so misunderstood and tends to conjure up the wrong image. I was diagnosed with it at the age of four. It has mostly affected me in areas related to socializing and communication. I would like to stress that I’m not disabled and I personally don’t find myself limited by it at all. People who live with autism are all affected in different ways and to different degrees. For more information, you should check out Autism Speaks. Yea, they’re one of those boring charity thingies, but they’re also really cool and they help a lot of people.
Who is Brian? He’s my amazing, cool, moderately decent looking boyfriend and biggest fan.
What is Brian’s role at Indie Gamer Chick? Brian mostly just observes me and encourages me. He will occasionally play games with me if they’re multiplayer. He helps me with editing and also contributes ideas to improving the site. If not for him, I wouldn’t have Indie Gamer Chick in my life. For that, I owe him the world.
Who is Bryce? Bryce is Brian’s roommate and another person who occasionally plays multiplayer games with me. He has a shaved head that he uses to cheat when we play local co-op by using the glare on it. Rat bastard.
QUESTIONS ABOUT INDIE GAMER CHICK
How do I get my game reviewed at Indie Gamer Chick? These days I pick out which games I review pretty much at random. You can alert me about your game on Twitter.
Why does Indie Gamer Chick not accept review codes/tokens? The most important reason is that I feel as a critic that I should pay what everyone else pays. There’s an old saying that lunch always tastes better as long as someone else buys it for you. It’s absolutely true. I’m certainly not faulting those who do take review codes, but I don’t believe I could be fully honest about the value of a game if I didn’t have to pay for it myself.
I do take review codes if a game is available on more than one platform. I still purchase the game, but only once. If a developer wants my review to include details on other platforms, I will need review codes provided. For more on this policy, click this link.
It’s not uncommon for someone who knows my policy to send me a code anyway saying “I know you don’t take codes, but please take mine.” Guys, don’t worry about it. Whether I review the game or not, if you want me to check out your game, I’ll probably just buy it anyway. Just ask. Use your review codes smartly. Do whatever it takes to make sure someone at a larger site cashes it in and plays your game. Pester, whine, and don’t be too proud to beg.
Why does Indie Gamer Chick accept codes for games with online multiplayer? Games with online play are a different story. It’s difficult to “gift” games many platforms, and quite frankly, I’m not thrilled with the idea of paying double or triple the money for a game. I think it would sour my opinion on it. So, for online multiplayer, I’ll still buy my own copy with my own money, while I give the review code/key to a friend.
My game is finished and its release date is coming up. We’re trying to secure early reviews. Can we send you a review token? Yes. If this is done, I’ll purchase a full copy of the game once it releases, whether I liked the game or not.
I’m about to release a game and can send you a review code but any coverage of the game is under embargo until release day or afterwards. Should I send you a review code? There’s really no point. If I can’t talk about the game until the day it releases, I might as well wait for it to come out and purchase it.
My game supports more than two players online. Should I send more than one code? I’ll handle this on a case-by-case basis. First, I have to make sure that I’ll be able to coordinate more than one other playing partner.
Why aren’t your reviews more objective? I get this one a lot, and I don’t really understand the question. I think that’s because the people asking it don’t understand what objective means or what the nature of a review of something is. All reviews are subjective personal opinions. A “review” which contains no subjectivity based on the personal enjoyment of the writer is in fact not a review. Instead, it would be a summary of what the game contains. If a person attempts to write a review based on how others might feel about a game, without factoring their personal enjoyment of the game into their writing, that person’s conclusion would have to be agreed upon to be accurate by all other writers and readers. If anyone disagreed with it, that would mean the writer’s subjective personal opinion factored into their conclusion, and thus their review would be subjective and not objective. But, again, all reviews are subjective. Indie Gamer Chick is a review site, with reviews based on my subjective personal opinions. There is absolutely no objectivity in my reviews.
Why don’t you offer more constructive criticism? I get this one a lot too. I do offer constructive criticism. Like with objectivity, I don’t think constructive criticism means what you think it means. Criticism that is not constructive would be like saying “this game sucks, that’s all there is to it!” I don’t do that. I cite specific things I personally find wrong with the games I play. Some people seem to believe constructive criticism means some kind of balance of positive things and negative things to say about a game, or downplaying negative aspects so as to not hurt the developer’s feelings. That if I say five things negative about a game, I must find five things positive to say about it, or else the criticism is not constructive. That’s not practical, nor is it always possible. Sometimes, it’s believed constructive criticism must offer specific solutions for problems with games. That’s also not what constructive criticism means. I’m not a game developer and I don’t always know what the answer is. It’s possible there is no solution for specific problems in games because of the nature of game design. Not every play mechanic or concept works. While I’m sure it’s not fun to read that someone didn’t like parts of your game, with my reviews both developers and gamers should know what specific parts of a game I didn’t like. A developer can use those to improve their work, or not if they so wish. That’s up to them.
The game you just slammed only costs $1. What did you expect for $1? You can buy a lot of really good games for a dollar these days. These are games that aren’t just good for a dollar, but good games regardless of cost.
You do realize that most of these developers are first-timers with no experience? Of course I do. I’m not cold-hearted. My reviews can be brutal, but I also do my best to encourage developers to strive to do better. But, beyond that, their games are also now commercial products that cost real money to purchase. I have to hold them to the same scrutiny of any other title on the market. To do otherwise would be to patronize them. That doesn’t help anyone.
Why did Indie Gamer Chick originally focus on Xbox Live Indie Games? Indie Gamer Chick started as a hobby and I just happened to choose Xbox Live Indie Games. Prior to Indie Gamer Chick, I had only bought two: I Made A Game with Zombies in It and Breath of Death VII. I started writing reviews for XBLIGs and I caught the attention of the community and subsequently my site exploded. Today, it’s the most read Xbox Live Indie Game-centered site in the world. And I owe that completely to the Xbox Live Indie Game community that pretty much adopted me. Although the sun is setting on XBLIG as a platform, I’ll still give it attention until the service is shut down.
Why does the infamously harsh Indie Gamer Chick give developers a chance to fix their games with online play before publishing her review? I explain in detail here.
Can Cathy play-test my game for me? Can I send her a build of my game? No. I’m not interested in being part of the development process. I’m strictly here to do game reviews.
Do you play the demo before you decide on reviewing a game? No.
Why don’t you have review scores? Because I think they’re useless. I explain in detail here.
What platforms do you review for? I review games for the following platforms:
- PlayStation 4
- PlayStation 3
- PlayStation Vita
- Xbox One
- Xbox 360
- Wii U
- Nintendo 3DS
Why don’t you review mobile games anymore? My previous reviews for iOS or Android games didn’t receive a lot of interest. I kept trying to call attention to some wonderful, overlooked games on those platforms, but the page views were not there. I need to focus on reviewing games on platforms where I can have influence. However, while I won’t write a review of your game, if you’re a mobile developer, ask me to play your game anyway. I probably will, and if I like it, I’ll probably tweet about it.
When a PC game is pay what you want or part of a bundle, what do you pay for it? I pay whatever the average price is at the time of purchase. Maybe more, but never less.
Does Indie Gamer Chick review student projects? Yes, as long as it’s on one of the platforms I cover, and if it’s a game available to the general public. If it is, I’ll never turn away a student project.
Can I add you to my Steam/Xbox Live/PlayStation Network friends list? No. I get over a dozen requests every day for this. My friends list is just for my real life friends, or for game developers when we need to link up to troubleshoot problems with games.
Do you have a Twitch channel? Yes. Indie Gamer Chick TV.
How come you don’t go on cam or on mic on your Twitch channel? I do go on mic sometimes on Indie Gamer Chick TV. I just really am not good at talking. I stutter. I speak too quietly. I do have autism and although I’m apparently a lot better at talking to my friends or family than I realize (as my friend Bob points out all the time, I barely shut up when I call him), addressing a group of people is very tough for me. I do strive to improve and you’ll hear me mic-up more often. As for the cam thing, I tried it once and I ended up with a room full of people asking me to show them my tits. Never again.
What’s Second Chance with the Chick? It’s a no-questions asked second look at a game. Updating games with patches is now a major part of the gaming industry. We’ve all put a disc in our Xbox or our PlayStation and had to wait while it updates. Indie games are no different. Because most of the games I play are new releases, stuff often gets overlooked by developers. That, or non-bug-related flaws in the game end up getting corrected. In the interest of fairness, I will never turn down a second review of a game if a developer requests it. The only rule is, the game has to have been patched since my original review. If you’re a developer that had a game reviewed here and you want a second chance, just contact me. No request will be turned away, but this is a one time only offer for each game. Make sure when you request a second chance, the game is exactly where you want it to be.
If you send back a report to a developer after playing an online game that has glitches and then wait for it to be patched, does that count as my Second Chance with the Chick? No. However, you only get one chance to fix the glitches before I write the review to the game. Any further patches will have to be covered using your second chance.
I’m afraid my game might trigger Cathy’s epilepsy. How can I tell if it’s potentially trouble for her? The best way is to send me a video of the spots in the game that you think might cause me problems. Someone close to me will screen it as soon as possible and let you know what their verdict is. In general, it’s bright, pulsing strobe effects that affect me. If you have doubts, it’s better safe than sorry.
Does Indie Gamer Chick do news, previews, or press releases? No.
Does Indie Gamer Chick interview developers? Only for special community events, and also for sponsors of the Leaderboard.
Will Indie Gamer Chick plug my Kickstarter? No. I get requests for Kickstarter every day, many of whom fail to meet what I consider to be the fundamental criteria needed to ask for funding. If I plug just one, the floodgates will open even more than they already have.
But what if we.. No.
Even if.. No.
What do I need to do to write a Tales from the Dev Side editorial? I’m looking for topical editorials that are relevant to the types of things I discuss on my site. If you’ve had a game reviewed here, you can use Tales from the Dev Side to write a postmortem on your game. If there’s an aspect of game development that you feel is overlooked or misrepresented, Tales from the Dev Side is the perfect outlet for you. My only real requirements are you don’t bring personal grudges into it and that you maintain the casual, easy to read tone I’m aiming for at Indie Gamer Chick. Just contact me and we can discuss it further.
Is Cathy interested in writing for our site? No. I would prefer to spend any time I have to write contributing to my own site. I’m always flattered when someone offers, but I’m also never interested.
Can I reprint a review or editorial from Indie Gamer Chick? I want to keep everything written by myself exclusive to this site, so please don’t copy or re-post anything done by me. If you need just a line or two for a blurb on your website or for promotional material, that’s fine, but not the full review please. If you want to re-post a Tales from the Dev Side editorial, contact the developer. If they say it’s okay, I have no problem. It’s their article, not mine.
Can I advertise at Indie Gamer Chick? I don’t take general advertisements, but you can sponsor the Indie Gamer Chick Leaderboard or Review Index. Here’s a supplemental FAQ for how that works.
Can I run a contest at Indie Gamer Chick? I don’t do contests anymore.
QUESTIONS ABOUT THE LEADERBOARD AND THE SEAL OF APPROVAL
What is the Indie Gamer Chick Seal of Approval? It’s an award I give to any game I enjoy signifying that I personally enjoyed the game and would recommend it to others.
How does a game get the Indie Gamer Chick Seal of Approval? I have to enjoy the game more than I dislike it. It’s that simple. A game doesn’t even have to be a “good game” for me to have fun with it. As long as I have more fun than not, the game wins my Seal of Approval.
What if a game is well produced and liked by most people but you didn’t like it? Then it doesn’t win my Seal of Approval. The Indie Gamer Chick Seal of Approval only represents that I personally enjoyed a game and would recommend it to others.
What is the Indie Gamer Chick Leaderboard? It’s my personal ranking for all the games I’ve reviewed at Indie Gamer Chick that won my Seal of Approval.
How do you determine the ranking order? Once a game wins the Indie Gamer Chick Seal of Approval, I go to the Leaderboard and compare it to others on the list. I typically start in the center of the board and compare the new game to one of the other ranked games, asking myself if I would rather play the new game or the game already on the board. I keep doing this until I find a spot where I would rather play the game above it, but not the game below it. It’s pretty accurate. However, that opinion can shift based upon reflection or a game receiving its Second Chance with the Chick.
Why is a certain game ranked below a different game that’s clearly better? The Indie Gamer Chick Leaderboard is my personal rankings, based on nothing else but my own personal opinion.
But seriously, you think that game is better than the game I like? As with all reviews and editorials at Indie Gamer Chick that I write, the Leaderboard is based on my personal preferences and not what everyone else thinks.
Will you ever do an Anti-Leaderboard where you rank the worst games? No. Although I can be harsh on games, I don’t want to be a bully. I think doing such a list would be a bully move. My goal at Indie Gamer Chick is to find the best games and promote them. Although I might occasionally reference a previous bad review, to outright spotlight them for the sake of piling on more insults would be horrible. That’s not what I’m about.