The Most Incredible Women In History That You’ve Never Heard Of

Whether you knew it or not, women have been pushing the limits and shaping the world...pretty much since humanity became a thing. And you don't have to resort to fictional stories to get your fill of dashing heroines. They've been with us in the pages of history all along!

Most people are familiar with true stories starring rulers and warriors, philosophers and scientists. But how many of those are about women? In reality, plenty of history's rulers, scientists, and everything in between have been women; we just don't hear about them.

They deserve to be celebrated in the mainstream. Because really, I don't want Pirates of the Caribbean 10; I want The Life and Times of Ching Shih. Eager for another gritty WWII movie to add to the pile? Great; let's do Irina Sendler's List. And who doesn't enjoy pop culture's lovable rogues? But it doesn't have to be Indiana Jones, featuring even more close calls because he's 76 now. We could just make a movie about Julie d'Aubigny, a real person with a double life as both opera star and cross-dressing duelist.

Countless amazing women have changed the course of history, but very few get the credit. It's about time we shine a light on history's most awe-inspiring heroines.

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Things Millennials Are Buying, Because Owning Homes and Cars Are So Last Decade

Millennials: depending on who you ask, we’re either living our best lives or rapidly killing capitalism itself.

Obviously, learning financial responsibility is an important lesson for anyone. However, just because millennials spend money on different things than previous generations, doesn’t mean we’re doing it all wrong. By-and-large, we simply place value on different things, and priorities have evolved over time.

Since millennials don’t seem to be buying houses and cars and living the old-fashioned American Dream, let’s explore where millennials’ money actually goes when it leaves their wallets.

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30 Terrifying Facts About the Most Dangerous Places on Earth

What constitutes a dangerous place? There are plenty of factors; risk of natural disaster, crime rates, coping responses, and proximity to dangerous flora and fauna are among them. We always hear about the best places to visit and the most beautiful places on earth. How about the opposite?

In this list, we explore the most perilous places on earth. Not to mention the spots that are both: as gorgeous as they are deadly. Our planet never fails to surprise us, with incredible sights—and dangers—on every continent.

Exploding lakes, volcanic deserts, and an ever-burning crater are only the beginning. Read up on these 30 insane and dangerous places in the world, and prepare yourself to be amazed!

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Production Chief of Marvel Says the World Is Ready for a Gay Superhero in the Marvel Universe

The cinematic world of superheroes might be getting a little more diverse. Captain Marvel, the first female protagonist to arrive within Marvel's Cinematic Universe, is currently taking the world by storm. And last year, Black Panther did the same with Marvel's first leading black superhero.

Now, a Marvel executive is throwing out the idea of a gay superhero. And if this is a thing actually happening, it's about time. Some more old-fashioned fans may argue that this increase in diversity is just pandering to complaints. After all, we've got so many straight white male protagonists in the MCU that it's getting really tough to name them all. But here's the thing: the world is a diverse place. So really, the presence of more than one female or black superhero lead is way overdue.

Why stop at one LGBT superhero, or female protagonist, or person of color in a starring role? Marvel might just be thinking of balancing those scales a little more!

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The Dark History of Our Greediest Holiday: Black Friday

It's almost here: the shopaholic's favorite day. Arguably the craziest day of the commercial year. The day we get a whole lot of Christmas shopping done...and navigate stampedes along the way. We're talking, of course, about Black Friday.

It's the one holiday that, today, is purely based around shopping. Many people claim that Black Friday is all about commercialism and materialism, and they've definitely got a point.

But did you know about the history behind it? There are multiple supposed origins of the holiday and a steady evolution in the years since. The Black Friday we know isn't the Black Friday that existed even ten years ago.

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In the Aftermath of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Victory, We Take a Look at the Campaign of Brianna Wu

Brianna Wu has been a public figure for roughly four years now. You may remember her particularly from the colossal Gamergate mess in 2014. Gamergate, a dangerous harassment campaign focused on women in the video game industry, was a trying time for the gaming community. It had a ripple effect both inside the industry and out, as many game and tech companies began paying more attention to diversity and inclusion, while online harassment became a larger issue in political circles.

Back then, Ms. Wu was purely a game developer. She co-founded a company called Giant Spacekat and headed the development of Revolution 60, a mobile game noted for its all-female cast of characters. In 2014 she went so far as to fight back against Gamergate, criticizing the controversy over Twitter. Almost immediately, her personal information (including home address) was released and she began receiving horrific death and rape threats. Multiple threats were so specific, and graphic, that Ms. Wu was subsequently forced to flee her home over safety concerns. Now, she’s using this harrowing experience—and her tech industry knowledge—to fuel a run for Congress in the 2018 midterm elections.

[Read the full story here]

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night at E3: ‘Igavania’ Comes Back in a Big Way

Fans still mourning the abandonment of the Castlevania series will have something new and interesting to sink their teeth into with the coming of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. The game was funded on Kickstarter back in 2015, when the total funds collected amounted well over five million dollars—five times the initial goal. Fans were thrilled over the prospect of a new game helmed by Koji Igarashi (the brains behind many Castlevania games), and so far the game is looking suitably compelling, and reminiscent of the series it’s based on.

Our look at Bloodstained during E3 included a quick 20-minute demo taking place, for the most part, on a ship. We jumped right into the game as Miriam, a young woman who is slowly succumbing to an alchemist’s curse which slowly crystallizes her skin. The goal so far appears to be finding and stopping Miriam’s old friend, Gebel, as he summons a demon-filled castle with which to threaten humanity. Along the way, of course, Miriam’s own humanity is at risk. While fighting through the ship, we (as Miriam) picked up some cool-looking weapons, played around with her combat abilities, and faced down an intimidatingly huge boss enemy before crashing onto land. The demo was cut off not long after making landfall, but we still got a look at the town surrounding Bloodstained’s much-discussed demon-infested castle, and fought off a few straggling demons for good measure.

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‘Rend’ at E3: Faction-Based Survival in a Post-Ragnarok World

Frostkeep Studios—a developer composed of industry veterans from Blizzard, Riot, Sony, and more—showed off its hybrid survival multiplayer title Rend at E3. The game is Frostkeep’s answer to ArkMinecraft, and other popular survival games. Rend has been designed to accommodate players who don’t want to worry about all their progress being destroyed by enemies when they log off for the day. All of this is set in a fantasy world based on Norse mythology, where the prophesied apocalyptic destruction of old gods has already occurred.

Rend is a faction-based MMO, and instead of joining one later as you gain prestige, the game begins with you choosing a team right from the get-go. Players will have three to choose from: the militaristic Order, enlightened Revenant, and mysterious Conclave. You also won’t have to worry about weighing your options to search for advantages in one group or the other, as Rend‘s factions were designed to stand on equal footing and maximize the sense of balanced competition. This idea also applies to players of discrepant levels. Usually if you play an MMO and wander into the path of a max-level character as a newcomer, they’d be able to blow your character out of existence without a thought. In Rend, everyone has a fighting chance. Max-level characters will have more tools at their disposal, having amassed abilities and perks, but a level one character could still reasonably tangle with them; it’s all about playing smart.

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The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit at E3: Unleashing the Power of Imagination

Square Enix and Dontnod were offering a look at its next entry in the Life is Strange universe, The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit. The game is intended as a lead-in to Life is Strange 2 (which, incidentally, we’ll be hearing about from Dontnod in the next few months), and it’s all about that feeling of youthful wonder we embrace when we’re kids.

Captain Spirit is the story of Chris, a lonely 10-year-old boy with enviable amounts of imagination. Dontnod’s intent behind the game’s design was to keep the same style of cinematography and feel as Life is Strange while improving on rendering tech and graphics. Based on the demo, the mission seems to be accomplished; with Captain Spirit built in Unreal Engine 4—where LiS was built in Unreal 3—the game has been noticeably upgraded. At the same time, Captain Spirit’s narrative and artistic style unmistakably belongs in the Life is Strange universe.

Our first look at Captain Spirit let us design Chris’ superhero costume and get a feel for his life. Chris has adopted the “secret identity” of Captain Spirit, a superhero who takes on the most nefarious of monsters. In truth, we get to see Chris’ imagination carry him around his home. Camera shots in the game are cleverly arranged to make it seem like Chris is actually levitating objects and turning on televisions with his mind until after the fact, when we see the remote behind his back. In one section of the demo, we see Chris enter a dark room and the whole world shifts until Chris is standing in a clouded, purple plane with an angry entity called the ‘Water Eater’ in front of him. If he summons his courage (and cape) to tame the monster, we see him standing proudly before the Water Eater’s quieted mass of black smoke—and then we’re standing in a back room of Chris’ home where he has actually managed to fix the malfunctioning water heater. Moments like that one are delightfully effective in hearkening back to the time when players were 10 years old and full of that same energy.

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Underworld Ascendant at E3: First Impressions

Underworld Ascendant is Otherside Entertainment’s upcoming sequel to the Ultima Underworld games. The game returns players to the perilous grounds of the Stygian Abyss as the Avatar, a human magically transported to the Underworld. Essentially, the character is a self-insert as you’re playing someone yanked from their life into an undead-infested hellscape.

One of the first things prominent on Underworld Ascendant’s E3 demo was the lack of character classes. The game is meant to be played freely in every sense, meaning there is no definitive way to play and no abilities restricted by class. I puzzled my way through the tunnels of the abyss equipped with sword, bow and arrow, and a magic wand that let me bind my enemies in place.

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‘Anderson’ Game at E3’s IndieCade Showcase is a Virtual Escape the Room

E3’s IndieCade Showcase is a fascinating miscellany of smaller, independently developed games. I had the opportunity to try out one of those selected for the showcase, a VR title called Anderson, and learned how to plot an escape to a digital world.

Anderson was conceived as a means for developer AJRPG to familiarize themselves with VR, adding extra layers of immersion to an already compelling genre of game. According to the makers of Anderson, its development was a surprisingly quick, streamlined process. The game is not made with complex tools; it’s built in Unity, and all of its assets are free from Unity’s store. The point of the game wasn’t to make something huge a with unique art and setting, but rather to use simple means and mechanics to create an engaging story.

It takes a minute to get your bearings in the world of VR, but once the world—or rather, captive’s closet—of Anderson has been entered, a search for information begins immediately. Its aforementioned narrative comes to play as you try to figure out why you’ve been taken captive at all.

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The Sinking City Demo at E3: A Haunting Lovecraftian Mystery

The Sinking City as a game is equal parts noir mystery and alt-historical horror story. While playing through Frogwares Studio’s E3 demo, we got to solve a creepy missing person’s case, and see the game’s dark interpretation of an East Coast city. A little under a year still remains until the game’s release, but the content we’re seeing right now is pretty compelling.

“Lovecraft” is right in The Sinking City’s tagline, and they’re not kidding. Briefly running around the city showed off otherworldly monsters and hybrid monster-people, and still other people who have been “augmented.” True to its title, the city you play in is partially submerged in sea water, and filled with strange sea creatures in the ‘channels’ that were once streets.

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‘The Spectrum Retreat’ at E3: Art Deco Mystery Meets Science Fiction

The Spectrum Retreat was winning awards before ever releasing to the general public. Creator Dan Smith won the BAFTA Young Game Designers Award in 2016 for his prototype of the game, and from there it has become a full-fledged multi-level puzzle game coming to consoles this summer. Published by Ripstone Games, The Spectrum Retreat takes players through a deceptively tricky hotel where nothing is as it seems.

Gameplay in TSR is reminiscent of Portal or QUBE, as shown in Smith’s E3 demo. Players start out in a bedroom of a strange hotel, furnished in art-deco style and deserted except for its faceless workers. The workers don’t offer any explanation for your presence, and won’t let you leave. From there, players find their way through the hotel with the ultimate goal of passing through every floor and reaching the roof. Along the way, increasingly taxing color-based puzzles attempt to hinder players’ progress—and the more puzzles you solve, the further you dive into the hotel.

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Cultural Criticism: 'Tomb Raider' (Crystal Dynamics, 2013)

When I first discovered Lara Croft of the “Tomb Raider” video game franchise, I was seven years old. I wasn’t a great player—forget any actual violence in the game; Lara’s butler in the tutorial obstacle course level scared me, so I hid from him in her unrealistically deep pool and accidentally drowned about five times. Instead, I enjoyed watching my dad play the game; in this case the game was the third installment of the franchise, aptly called “Tomb Raider III,” released in 1998. Watching someone else play shouldn’t have been that entertaining, but when I saw Lara jump around, shoot some bad guys, avoid a pool of piranha and get chased by a T-Rex, I was hooked. “Tomb Raider III” was strange, but fascinated me endlessly.

In 2001 and 2003, the “Tomb Raider” franchise got so popular it earned a pair of live-action movies. The first wasn’t actually that great, and the second was worse (the sad truth of most video game adaptations), but I didn’t care. The character I knew, the kickass archaeologist Lara Croft, had actually gotten her own movie. To me, that was amazing. Then, flipping through some special features, I stopped on a short about the development of Lara, through games and into film. As developers from Eidos (the original game studio behind “Tomb Raider”) talked about their creation, I heard the words “Lara Croft” and “sex symbol.” At the time, I didn’t know what that meant. The more I began to understand, the more it bothered me. I’d always looked at her with an enthusiastic respect, but these people talked about her like a particularly juicy piece of meat that was selling well at the supermarket. For all Lara has been slowly evolving from 1996 through 2008, she was still being perceived much the same way, her status as feminist trailblazer or sex symbol for males contested.

Lara has always represented an intriguing paradox: Is she empowering, inspiring a generation of female gamers, or is she yet another example of sexism and objectification in the game development industry? Lara has had an unusually long life for a game character. Lara’s evolution runs parallel to the way women in pop culture are viewed; she’s been pulled in two directions since she was conceived in 1993. She should be the perfect feminist role model for gamers. She’s brave, and intelligent. She speaks several languages, is an accomplished archaeologist and author, and possesses a deadly skillset with a wide range of weaponry. She’s a leading lady, in a time where females in games were almost exclusively unimportant non-player characters, either one-dimensionally furthering the plot or just getting kicked around.

The problem, then, lies with her being hyper-sexualized at the expense of a personality. You could argue that Lara’s skimpy clothing shouldn’t be problematic, that a woman choosing to show skin is perfectly reasonable, and you’d be right, but Lara was a product of developers worrying that male gamers (the presumed market) would be unable to relate or appreciate their playable character. 

The solution was to put Lara in small, tight clothing, and give her such a large bust and ridiculously tiny waist that she was obviously not conforming to any feasible human proportions. Furthermore, the tiny clothing becomes questionable when placed in context of what Lara does and where she goes—would anyone really want to crawl through dirty, trap-infested tombs, traverse countless rough terrains, and engage in bloody shoot-outs exclusively in plunging v-neck crop-tops and form-fitting short-shorts? If Lara is “practical” then Nathan Drake, her male treasure-hunting equivalent from the “Uncharted” series, should also run around with a low neckline and booty shorts. Does he? No, he very much does not. Clearly, Lara didn’t wear that clothing because it was convenient for her daily routine. She looked the way she did because the developers of “Tomb Raider” wanted to make sure they got a profit from her.

I grew up with Lara Croft, and as it turns out, she’s been doing some growing up herself—particularly three years ago, when a new “Tomb Raider” game was released. “Tomb Raider (2013)” is Crystal Dynamics’ reboot of the long-running original series. The reboot does what no other “Tomb Raider” game ever has, achieving greatness through character development, improving upon Lara’s character by leaps and bounds. Gameplay and story are both an expression of Lara’s journey and development into the tough-as-nails survivor of past games—and this time around she is both given and maintains her humanity and strength of character as well.

Lara’s ship, the Endurance, is torn apart in a violent storm at sea as the game begins. Wasting no time with establishing extra characters or a setting, players are immediately thrust into the shoes of a dazed and half-drowned Lara. Despite being styled as a third-person game, the story of “Tomb Raider” may as well be in first person perspective. The player never knows anything more than Lara does. When the player first fires a gun, makes their first kill, it’s Lara’s first kill too. The origin story of old-school “Tomb Raider” unfolds, as Lara makes one desperate bid after another to escape the island of Yamatai and protect her fellow survivors. 

Anyone familiar with the Tomb Raider of old (starting in 1996 and going all the way to 2008) will know that she didn’t always have a real personality. She was sassy and savvy, and most of the games had a storyline. Some even built on her background, as “Tomb Raider: Legend” did in 2006 with a plot concerning Lara and her mother. Nevertheless, for most of the time, Lara’s personality took a backseat to her violent exploits and her looks, coming up one-dimensional. Lara was there to explore, kill bad guys, and look good doing it, when factoring in her blatantly hyper-sexualized figure. 

As a kid who hadn’t seen any other examples in games (because they didn’t exist yet), none of this registered with me. I didn’t notice the flat personality, the ridiculously large breasts, tiny waist and skimpy clothes, because I was too busy being enamored of the anomaly: a strong female character who was the star of her own story ten times over. She should have been more widely recognized as such, but Lara, in her early days, was still a product of game developers selling sex appeal to male audiences. Despite her apparent strength, skill, and smarts, it seemed that was all she would ever be given credit for. If the Lara Croft of the 90s’ was an anomaly, the Lara Croft of 2013 is even more so, because she looks, sounds, and acts like a human being.

 “Tomb Raider (2013)” is an origins story, so Lara is completely in over her head at the start. Her lack of experience and idealism is established, and her initial vulnerability gives her depth, but never translates into weakness. Rather, her idealism and vulnerability are what allow her to continue making moral choices in a kill-or-be-killed environment. Lara is still easily one of the strongest and most brutally efficient characters out there, but she’s also designed to feel authentic and relatable. If Lara has to cauterize a deep open wound with nothing but a lighter and a metal-tipped arrow (spoiler alert: she does) then she’s going to wince, take a deep breath, and yell in pain afterwards. Lara cares about the people she travels with and does not hesitate to prove it, leaping to their defense, mounting rescues, and making decisions that place her in the line of fire to keep her friends safe. 

Lara throws up after her first kill, but steels herself to learn handy combat tactics until she’s a deadlier opponent than all the other inhabitants of the island put together. For all her misfortune, she maintains her zeal for adventure and discovery at the end of the story. Lara Croft is an incredibly human character for a role-playing game’s protagonist, and this makes “Tomb Raider” that much more gratifying.

Fantastically choreographed action sequences carry Lara from area to area of the game, making for impressively seamless transitions, while the action itself is fast-paced and intensely hands-on.  Above all, the installment capitalizes on the growth of the franchise by presenting a complex, and overdue, origin story of one of the most iconic video game protagonists of all time.

Consequentially, this new version of Lara was the first cosplay I ever made (cosplay being the act of making or sometimes buying a costume and dressing up as a character from pop culture, usually at a comic convention, because you’re a huge nerd about it). I had a great experience, for the most part, as a gigantic gathering of people who unabashedly love things can be. I got my share of genuine compliments—one guy turned, saw me, actually went bug-eyed and jumped before saying, “whoa, great makeup! You scared me, I thought you were actually hurt for a second.” (I had covered myself in roughly the same patterns of fake dirt and blood that Lara sports in the game.) 

I took one big picture with a bunch of other Laras at the con, both reboot versions and those wearing costumes of her previous iterations, all the way back to the 1990’s Lara…and they were all fantastic. Inspired. Badass. This, more than anything, was proof to me that my admiration as a kid hadn’t been misplaced no matter Lara was intended to be and that any Lara could be empowering—that every Lara was empowering. We wore our costumes with pride, because something about emulating such a smart, capable lady made us feel the same, even if on every other day we felt utterly banal. And then, of course, the group was catcalled. The act itself was stupid, just a lewd suggestion. At the time, it felt equal parts enraging and humiliating, but now, if anything, that moment just solidifies the point.

Gamers who have reduced Lara to her clothes and her figure aren’t our problem. Yes, they should know better, just some developers should know better, and hopefully with time (and more hours logged with the “Tomb Raider” reboot), they will. The truth is, Lara has always been intelligent, tough, and capable, a character towards whom we felt respect and admiration. Lara’s lack of significant character development made it easy for her empowering qualities to be overlooked, but no longer. Lara Croft has always been more than sex appeal and a pair of handguns, especially to we female gamers who have spent years following Lara’s adventures. The difference today is, she’s got the humanity and the in-game material to prove it.

'State of Mind' At E3: Smart Dystopian Sci-Fi With an Unnervingly Possible Future

Daedalic Entertainment’s story-driven sci-fi adventure, State of Mind, is rapidly approaching its release date. At E3, Daedalic showed off a few samples of gameplay and gave us a look into a future that is detailed, engaging, and doesn’t require as much suspension of belief as you might think.

State of Mind is the next step up from Daedalic’s past point-and-click adventures, and this game utilizes a heavily styled 3D design combined with investigation and exploration driven gameplay. It’s also quite dialogue-intensive, and designed to attract fans of single-player narrative-heavy titles. The peek we got at E3 showed gameplay with two different playable characters: a journalist named Richard and his unknowing semi-copy, Adam. The two characters already make for some interesting storytelling possibilities, and they’re only two out of six characters that players will be able to pilot during the game.

Developers also emphasized that State of Mind thoroughly explores the idea of Trans-humanism. A main point of the story is the copying and uploading of a human’s consciousness into a digital world, and another body. Players will be engaged on the social and political implications of such technology, and will even have to decide in the course of playing what a digital life is worth.

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