2016: Video Games

This year I didn’t play a lot of different video games, and moved away from my long-time love for Bethesda products. I played quite a few short indie games on itch.io and from steam, and started valuing storytelling and challenge a lot more.

Full disclosure: my computer is a five year old laptop so most games I play are a few years old in order for her to keep up. For this list, I’m including games I played for the first time this year, rather than games released this year.

Stardew Valley

Often when talking about games there’s a discussion of power fantasies – FPSs tend to take that line pretty strongly. As a millennial living in a big city with an income that technically puts me below the poverty line, there is no greater power fantasy than that provided by Stardew Valley.

The story starts with you, an office worker in an unfulfilling job, receiving an inheritance from your grandfather. You take the plunge and move to the farm he left you in Pelican town in Stardew Valley (I named my farm after the one I spent every summer on growing up).

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here it is again kiddos, welcome to the valley

There are a lot of things you can do to make money and upgrade your farm: fish, farm, mine, fight off monsters in the mine… You can upgrade the Community centre, which has been neglected for some years, or if you’re in a particularly “soulless capitalism” mood, you can buy a membership with the JojaMart (the big corporation that has recently opened in town and is disrupting the harmonious village). You can also date and marry someone (anyone) (how gay do you want to be? my answer is, as always: very very gay).

Stardew Valley fills a hole in my heart. It is a story about caring for each other, living off the land, and fighting skeletons in a mine. Everyone in Pelican town has their own life and their own goals, and to help them achieve those is rewarding in a way I haven’t experienced in a video game for a very long time.

It’s a power fantasy of having control over your own fate, of having enough power to choose the life you lead, whether that life is fighting monsters in a mine or automating a farm or catching legendary fish. That’s a kind of power that is missing in many of our lives, when home ownership and the wife and two kids might be a seemingly unobtainable goal or incompatible with other duties we have to fulfil.

Stardew Valley provides a world where tax and rent don’t exist and you never have to worry if foraged blackberries are doused in herbicide. It’s beautiful, it’s cheering, and sometimes it accidentally results in me being up all night.


Sunless Sea

My game loves this year have all fallen into one of two categories: “things are happy most of the time but there is some challenge” or “you’ll die multiple times and your character/s will almost definitely go crazy”.

Sunless Sea is from the crew that made Fallen London, an online RPG which I have played on and off since 2010. Dipping back into Fallen London is always enjoyable as the game continues to evolve and develop new tendrils but Sunless Sea provides the total immersion/slight fear when playing at night that the (predominantly text-based) Fallen London cannot.

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loSE YOUR MIND EAT YOUR CREW LOSE YOUR MIND EAT YOUR CREW

You are a ship captain. You are exploring the sea. Sometimes you have quests. Sometimes you do not. Sometimes you go crazy. Sometimes you eat your crew. Sometimes you eat other people, who are not your crew. Sometimes you pray to gods who do not care for you. Sometimes you pray to gods who hate you. Sometimes you take on tourists and sell them as slaves. Sometimes you destroy a whole civilisation. Sometimes you found one.

Sunless Sea is on occasion a genuinely scary game. It’s also a lot of fun, challenging, and has some beautiful artwork and storytelling elements.

Sunless Sea: Lose your mind. Eat your crew.


Darkest Dungeon

I purchased Darkest Dungeon after seeing this overview from Polygon, because apparently making my sea captain go insane in Sunless Sea wasn’t enough of art imitating life for me. I also got it in the Steam Sales so this is based on not more than 20 hours of gameplay.

In Darkest Dungeon you have a team of adventurers that dungeon crawl. You’ve inherited a hamlet and the surrounding lands from a relative and by using teams of four adventurers that you train and equip, you can discover what, exactly, your relative did to mess the surrounding land up so much.

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be ready for most of your characters to die, all the time

I don’t care a huge amount for the story, although the narration is gorgeous both in writing and delivery. What is fun is trying to make the best out of a bad situation, over and over again. Putting together different teams and seeing how they compliment each other, while trying to stop them dying from heart attack or blight.

One of the key mechanics in Darkest Dungeon is stress. If your characters get too stressed they may become afflicted, becoming fearful, hopeless, paranoid, selfish, or some other afflictions I haven’t caused my teams to experience yet. Managing stress, supplies, and Good Fighting is a fascinating balancing act, and there’s always the option of throwing different level 0 recruits at a problem until it gets solved.

Darkest Dungeon is beautiful and spooky and has some wonderful team management problems.


There aren’t any other games this year that have made a particular impact, partly because I’ve had a lot of work and travel happening, and partly because these games have had such a major impact and have resulted in me sinking nearly 100 (or in Stardew Valley, upwards of 100) hours into them. I also did spend a bit of time going back to older games (Mass Effect 2) and experiencing them again.

Having said that, the “A Good Bundle” from itch.io has been fun, Rodina has been very pretty and frustrating, Superhot has been fascinating but just not jamming with me yet, and I purchased a few items off my wishlist in the last sale so can look forward to Checking Those Out. If you’ve got recommendations feel free to @ me.

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2016: Movies and TV

This year, I saw some films, and I also watched television. My faves:

Jupiter Ascending

I watched this while waiting in hospital with (what I didn’t know then was) a burst ovarian cyst. It’s a glorious space story with wild acting and some really incredible shots. If you’re sick of every sci fi film ever being the same: watch Channing Tatum be a space werewolf with rocket boots.

Ghostbusters

The Ghostbusters reboot, somewhat like Jupiter Ascending, shows you what CGI can do now in some quite mind-bending ways. Also after watching it I was gayer, which I didn’t think was possible, so good job Kate McKinnon?

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my sexuality: Kate McKinnon

CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap

In a world where I have $0 for anything except food and coffee most of the time, I saw CODE twice. It’s a fascinating look at the history of computer science and how we’ve gone from having coding being a “great career for young women” to the idea of a computer scientist being synonymous with dudebro culture. It also features so many inspirational and amazing women (I may have cried more than once during this film).

Jabbed: Love, Fear, and Vaccines

Jabbed actually came out in 2013 but I managed to see it for the first time this year at Silver Screen Science (an annual event put on by the WEHI). Jabbed is some of the most even-handed scientific journalism I’ve ever experienced, and having listened to Sonya Pemberton speak more than once (and having held her Emmy), I am in awe of her and her team. It’s from Genepool Productions, a Melbourne group, and is well worth your time even if you’ve already made up your mind about vaccines.

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This taught me I’m definitely going to win an Emmy one day.

Film honourable mentions: Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Zootopia, Star Wars???? star wars


Television: A lot of new series came out this year (and there are a lot slated for next year) so I’m only going to touch on the few that left a mark on me. Because sure, I watched the Gilmore Girls revival, but I’m not ready to blog about it yet (seriously though Rory was so bad at being a journalist and how dare she)

Terrace House

Terrace House is a Japanese reality television show where six people (three men, three women) live together and they film it. It’s so incredibly human – if you’ve become jaded from the music stings and clear editing of shows, Terrace House is something that you can watch and it makes you happy (except for the episode with the House Meeting which is infuriating and terrible). It also introduced me to omu-rice.

Funny Girls

Funny Girls is a NZ comedy sketch show that once made me spurt coffee out my nose. It’s got the bae (Rose Matafeo), the other bae (Madeline Sami, who directed this season) (Madeline Sami is living her best life and I want to be her when I grow up), and some people I hadn’t heard of before but whom I now really like.

Sketches to see: Truck CommercialFemale Politician Press Conference, and Male Feminists.

It reminds me a lot of Black Comedy, in the sense that we’re finally realising that comedy is really good when it’s not just white dudes saying the same stuff.

Cleverman

HEY WHAT’S UP AUSTRALIA I DIDN’T KNOW YOU COULD MAKE GOOD TV SOMETIMES.

I don’t spend a lot of time caring about what Australian television does, but Cleverman was pretty life-changing. It’s difficult to explain without accidentally giving away spoilers but it’s a near future/alternative australia where the “Hairies” are a type of people who are restricted to living in compounds and the government is not-so-secretly trying to kill them all. It’s got some pretty great social commentary on whatever the fuck Australia is doing re: refugees and also indigenous people, and it’s got Deborah Mailman in it.

Other shows to mention briefly from this year are: Orphan Black, Black Comedy, The Mindy Project, Master of None, and BoJack Horseman.


On the list for 2017 is Westworld, Terrace house: Aloha state, and I can’t see myself not watching the reboot of A Series of Unfortunate Events. The My Brother, My Brother and Me TV series is also coming out, which I’m gonna do my best to get access to.

2016: Music

This year has been a lot of looking backwards, music-wise. I’ve done quite a bit of writing which tends to result in going back to everything I listened to while studying at high school. Having said that, there are some sick as tunes that hit us this year.

In no particular order:

Beyoncé – Lemonade

I don’t trust any list of music from 2016 that doesn’t include this album. Running the risk of comparing the queen that is Yoncé to crusty old white dudes, it reminds me a lot of Phillip Glass/Leonard Cohen – Book of Longing.

Lin-Manuel Miranda (et al) – Hamilton
Honourable mention to: Fugue for Brotherhorns

I haven’t taken Hamilton off my phone since I purchased the album. It’s also one of like three albums I’ve purchased this year. It combines all my favourite things: hip-hop, history, occasionally counting or spelling in songs, and nice use of motifs.

I think it particularly rings true for people who live in former colonies and can feel the harsh juxtaposition between what their country is now and what it once was. The passing mentions of slavery are particularly compelling because while a lot of the fanbase of Hamilton is young scrappy and hungry, on the grand scheme of things slavery wasn’t that long ago, and it’s kind of messed up that we act like it was.

ConcernedApe – The Stardew Valley Soundtrack

Most of the music I’ve listened to this year has been while writing, which the soundtrack to Stardew Valley definitely enables. I’ll talk more about Stardew Valley on my videogames post!

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welcome to my happy place

3oh!3  – Night Sports

3OH!3 is trash and I love it. Every time I listen to them it’s like I’ve found a pile of junk but I’m a happy little racoon who is so stoked about this total hot mess with completely predictable drops. Their sound has barely matured since I got into them in 2009 and it’s gorgeous and grungy and everything I love.

Dessa – Quinine

Quinine is a single from Dessa and I hope with every fibre in my being that this signals a new album from one of my favourite artists. A new single from the whole of Doomtree was also dropped this year, which will probably get me through while I wait on the edge of my seat for new albums. Having said that, the back catalogue of both Dessa and Doomtree is lengthy so there’s always something unfamiliar to put in your ears.

Homestuck – [S] Collide

Homestuck is a webcomic that has pushed the boundaries of what digital content can be and do since 2009. It finished this year with a whirlwind of new content, including [S] Collide – [S] Collide refers to an animation that can be found on the Homestuck webcomic, and the album includes the music used on that page.

You can hear me Telling Everyone About Homestuck on the “Fandom” episode of Things of Interest, which I link so I don’t start telling you about Homestuck right now.

 

2016: Podcasts

This year I got into podcasts, which really wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t start one with the lovely Serena Chen. Excuse me while I do a shameless self-plug before we get into the voices I have enjoyed this year.

Things of Interest

A show about life and tech through a feminist lens. We’ve covered dating, space, sports, the job hunt, advertising, fashion, and fandom. Episodes are planned talking about privacy, video games, and the pay gap. Of everything I’ve created, this is the one that I am most proud of. Every episode I listen to while writing show notes, I’m blown away by how intelligent my co-host Serena is, and how intelligent I can sound.

Making Things of Interest has helped make me a better person and has been a wonderful journey in creating something good with a wonderful friend.

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The whole McElroy Family of Products

Okay look. I’m just going to tell you about my favourites because otherwise this would take literally forever, and I’m not even going to bother about going into MBMBaM because plenty of places on the internet do that already (it’s a comedy advice show, it’s great, they’re great, every so often they yell about how the friendzone isn’t real, listen).

The Adventure Zone. The Adventure Zone is the three McElroy brothers and their dad playing D&D.

One of the reasons I get so grumpy about everything being written/created/starring men is because as a general rule, men are really bad at telling women’s stories or creating compelling female characters and I want to engage in stuff about me. The Adventure Zone is a living, breathing instance of #notallmen (or rather #possiblyeverymanexceptGriffinMcElroy #heisanangel #thebabiestbrother). In the third arc (Petals to the Metal) two (female) characters are created by the Dungeon Master, Griffin, and their character development and story makes me cry every. single. time (trying to avoid spoilers but every single time, my dudes). I’ve been so shocked by stuff in this show that I’ve yelled on public transport. Sometimes I am having too many feelings so have to pause the podcast for a bit. There are so many lesbians. There’s a boy detective. There are character voices. And there’s a whole lotta mystery.

It is incredibly funny, emotionally engaging, and listening to the growth of both the characters and the men playing those characters is transformative. There’s a lot of LGBTIQ+ characters, and on the promotional material for The Adventure Zone comic getting criticised for being hella white, this is what Justin McElroy said (Taako the wizard and Garyl the semi-spectral binicorn):

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how great is this as a response to criticism my gosh

The other two life-changing McElroy products I’ve got behind this year are Sawbones and Rose Buddies.

Sawbones is a medical history podcast so, right up my alley. It has served as a great refresher for things I learned/avoided learning in undergraduate, as well as some new cool facts about old timey medicine. It’s hosted by Justin and his wife, Dr Sydnee McElroy.

Rose Buddies is a bachelor/ette fancast by Griffin and his wife Rachel McElroy and I cannot explain why I like it but I do. They recap episodes of the bachelor and provide a commentary on it. I do not watch the Bachelor/ette. Whenever there is a new episode of Rose Buddies I am filled with joy. Go figure.

Rose Buddies also got me into Terrace House, which you’ll hear more about later.


Science Vs – Wendy Zukerman

Do you want to hear an Australian be excited by science? I experienced the first season of Science Vs on a friend’s recommendation this year and have absolutely fallen in love with Wendy being a chirpy investigative reporter and drilling down to the bottom of some long-standing scientific controversies, mysteries, and some more current events. I’m not always on board with the weight given to everything but it is some of the most even-handed science journalism I’ve seen in a while.

Women on the Line – Areej Nur, Amy Middleton, Nicole Curby, Emma Hart, Aoife Cooke

After being featured with my co-conspirator Jess Vovers on WotL at the beginning of the year, I started regularly listening to this weekly show (technically a radio show but who has a radio these days) from 3CR. It’s a lovely half hour where you can hear about good women doing great things.

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some especially cute women on the line

Motor Mouth – Yassmin Abdel-Magied, Michael Lamonato

I could care less about racing, but not much less – and yet somehow, Yassmin’s 8-episode podcast series with ABC was enjoyable and brought a nice highlight to my week. Even if you don’t think it’d be your thing, the hosts make it easy – and enjoyable! – to join them for the ride that is this podcast.

Just a Spoonful – Kaitlyn Plyley

Kaitlyn Plyley is one of the most thoughtful, well-spoken people I’ve ever had the honour to sing All Star by Smash Mouth with. It’s fortnightly discussions between Kaitlyn and young people with chronic illnesses or disabilities. It’s inspiring and reassuring to hear from other people trying to balance energy, illness, and a chronic desire to do more.

On the Rag – Alex Casey, Zoe Scheltema and Michele A’Court

Sometimes you just gotta hear some kiwi voices talking feminism that aren’t your own. On the Rag scratches that itch so, so well.


@ everyone who has made lists of “Great podcasts” (The Cusp, Business Insider) that are predominantly men: this wasn’t difficult, you’ve just gotta stop listening to the same stuff all the time. I don’t have a rule against listening to men yarn at me (see my love letter to The Adventure Zone above) but I don’t really have time for “two white dudes tell me things I already know“.

Things that have been recommended to me this year include 2 Dope Queens, Invisibilia, and Lady to Lady, so keep an eye out for them in 2017 if I ever get around to the fun part of my to-do list.

2016 wrap (me) up

This year has been wild, on both personal and geopolitical scales. A lot of people have been writing lists and sharing things that they’ve found good this year, successes they’ve had, things that take away the sting of a world that seems to be sliding inexorably toward the apocalypse.

I’m going to write a few blog posts about books I’ve read, movies I’ve seen, and music/podcasts I’ve found (and enjoyed!) this year. This post is about me, so I’ll keep it short (for once).

This year I have:

  • Joined a gym and got fitter than I have been in the past five years.
  • Won a bunch of prizes and got published in a book which ???? what the heck, who let me outside without an adult
  • Made a public facebook page to stay on #brand
  • Started a podcast which is honestly the best thing I’ve ever created and it’s all thanks to Serena.
  • Yelled about racism 90-150% more.
  • Been mentored and done some mentoring – managing to score myself a ridiculously smart and talented mentee.
  • Become a more confident and independent scientist.

A lot of other stuff has happened but overall I’m pretty happy with this year’s haul of happenings.

Once I get the other posts up, there will be links to my 2016 wrap ups here:

Books

Movies + TV

Podcasts

Music

Address to Tauranga Girls’ College Academic Prizegiving

I had the pleasure of being invited to speak at the Tauranga Girls’ College 2016 Academic Prizegiving (2/11/16), which celebrates the achievements of girls in years 11-13. I learned that the school continues to punch above its weight with our Māori students achieving at the national average (a big issue in New Zealand education).

What follows is the text of my talk. This will not be exactly the same as the talk given as I went off-book a few times, but it is as close as I can make it!


It’s honestly such an honour to be here, speaking to you – I’ve wanted to do this since my first academic prizegiving in 2007, largely because I’m a massive dork. But if I’m being honest, I didn’t have a good time at high school; I realised I was queer and came out to one of my best friends, who was Catholic, and that went about as well as you’d expect, I’ve since been diagnosed with autism which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who knew me at high school, my depression first started presenting and was mostly unmanaged, and of course being a teenager is weird. The contrast is turned right up on your life which means the highs are super high and the lows absolutely suck.

But before I continue to dispense wisdom – which I am going to do – a brief history of where I’m at. I grew up mostly in Tauranga with a two-year jaunt to Beirut as a child. In year 13 I represented New Zealand in Biology and the only paper I failed in NCEA 3 was biology, a juxtaposition I have quietly enjoyed since then.

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Yes, I was a very cute child.

I then went as far away from Tauranga as I could and completed a degree in Genetics at the University of Otago. During my honours year – a final year focussing on research with a major written component – I founded the science students association at Otago, presented at a poetry conference in Los Angeles, and was part of the debating squad that went to Kuala Lumpur, because when people say “now, you really need to focus this year” my response tends to be “wATCH ME”.

I worked for ACC for five months and then left Sunny Dunedin to start my PhD at the University of Melbourne. For my PhD, I investigate disorders where your body can’t generate all the energy it needs. I’m trying to develop new treatments and ways of testing treatments, because the particular set of diseases I look at don’t have any treatment. I’ve also I’ve helped run the Women in Science and Engineering group, science festivals, research students associations and generally been over-committed, which my supervisors, uh, might not be totally into.

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Photo by Yao-Li Wang.

I feel like I flail effectively, resulting in a lot of cool things like being flown around Australia, being on TV, and getting published in books. So I’m going to give you a few Hot Tips about how to live your best life, because the future is terrifying and we all need all the help we can get.

Tip number one: Say yes.

Last year I got to go to a youth leaders conference in Australia. My initial inclination was to say no, because I didn’t feel like a leader or an Australian or a capable human being. One of the hardest things to do is to say yes when you don’t think you belong or that you deserve something. I started down this path by responding to requests as if I’m joking, which is literally how I ended up with multiple radio interviews and a podcast!

It took maybe six months before I was confident of saying yes to things – and from there it was a short distance to the nerve-wracking experience of being on national television less than 24 hours after going to hospital with horrible gastro. Confidence is genuinely something you can fake until you have it.

Say yes to things, even if you’re scared, even if you’re still a bit sweaty from being sick, and even if you’re not sure if you’re deserving.

Tip number two: Accept yourself

Accepting yourself isn’t just about body image, it’s about being unashamed of who you are and your passions. I am an angry feminist and I listen to Hamilton and Alainis Morisette to pump myself up and sometimes I spend eight hours playing computer games and once I rapped about bioethics to a room full of hippies.

And I’m depressed – and accepting myself isn’t just chilling on that but understanding that I might need to have ongoing medical intervention for the rest of my life to not want to die 24/7, and knowing that that’s okay, my brain’s just a bit messy but medical research has got my back.

Everyone is a giant dork about something, and it’s weirdly difficult to accept that and have a good time. Don’t feel guilty for liking or wanting or doing things. They’ll inform what you’re good at and help you enjoy and appreciate your life.

Tip number three: ask the question

Adulthood isn’t like, you leave high school and suddenly it all makes sense. From my experience it’s mostly being confused, having a sore back, and wishing you were fitter. You’ve probably heard from your teachers that the only silly question is the question you don’t ask but quite genuinely, that is such truth. I still don’t know if I’m meant to add salt or oil when I make pasta, or how a top-loader washing machine works, or how to make pancakes but thankfully all my high school teachers are here so they’re going to save me right after this.

On another note, I’ve been keeping track of things I’ve googled during my PhD, which has included my favourite, written in a moment of weakness: “how does chemistry even work”.

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Seriously though – if you’re not sure about something, or you’re confused, or need help, there is absolutely nothing wrong with asking about it. I’ve noticed that as I collect qualifications, the more that people know, the more willing they are to admit they don’t know things. And people that know a lot love sharing everything they know. Get ahead of the curve and start asking now.

Final tip: Don’t worry, it’s okay

There are many ways to get to where you want to be. It’s incredibly important that you know that no exam, no test, no class is worth your mental and physical health. I had a nervous breakdown during year 12 exams – so as long as you don’t do that, you’re doing better than me. And if you have a nervous breakdown, well, I’m doing a PhD now, so you’ll probably be okay.

One of the biggest things I’ve learned since high school is how well Tauranga Girls’ College set me up for life. The great things about girls’ schools is that they allow you to explore and develop your personality, interests, and leadership capacity in a space somewhat isolated from the pressures of society. The unique thing about TGC is that it does it well. You – and all the girls who aren’t here tonight – are being provided opportunities that you wouldn’t get elsewhere.

You’re lucky. You’re brilliant. And I look forward to you changing the world.

Alcohol and Events: how to be better

One of the hallmarks of growing up in Australia and New Zealand is never quite being sure whether your socially acceptable drinking is actually super harmful, an idea I could probably write a five-part book series on. I like a glass of wine as much as the next person self-medicating stress-related sleep issues, but that’s like a good 40% of the population, right*?

And I want to reassure you I don’t ‘hate fun’ (as if alcohol and fun are synonymous) when I say : can we please run events with alcohol better.

Being around large amounts of alcohol, or lots of drunk people, or being in an environment where it’s expected that we’re getting draaaaaank totally sucks. When we make these situations the norm we exclude lots of people, including pregnant people, Islamic people, and anyone who might choose not to drink for whatever reason, including those who have struggled with alcohol dependency. Sure, when you plan your event you might not think about whether any people recovering from alcohol dependency might be attending, but that’s part of the issue, isn’t it?

But wait! I’m not just here to scold the really questionable drinking culture Australia and New Zealand share. I’m here to give you some hot tips.

Offer non-alcoholic drinks and don’t emphasise the alcoholic ones.

Don’t just “offer” them: offer them at the same amount and frequency. That means if a tray has 5 alcoholic drinks, it should have 5 non-alcoholic drinks – not one of everything.

Jackson Wood has written well about not drinking and also not just offering orange juice (although personally I love orange juice as my diet is pretty horrible and I need those vitamins). If you’re hosting at a bar, work with them to emphasise non-alcoholic drinks. My best experiences at bars in Dunedin was getting green tea in a pint glass and settling down for chats.

Not emphasising the alcoholic ones looks like not advertising free alcohol (people who want to know will ask) and maybe not letting a literal alcohol company brand part of your event when the focus on alcohol was discussed as a problem last year.

Level two: mocktails and alcohol-removed wine.

Okay look if you’re serious about being better: mocktails are so cheap compared to cocktails. You know what the expensive ingredient is? Alcohol. So get together some faux mojitos (mojifaux) and margaritas and bloody marys. If you’re hosting at a bar then you can talk to them about putting mocktails on the tab along with beer/cider/wine.

If you’re working with a catering company they might not be set up to do this, in which case alcohol-free wine can be a route to go down. The red is great for staining your teeth without staining your night.

Living Sober also has a “drink of the week” which is a good place to trawl for non-alcoholic drink ideas.

Have food!

Food means the people that are drinking don’t get gross drunk fast. Have more food than drinks. Have the food easier to get than alcoholic drinks. I’d love to go to an event with finger food and jugs of (faux) margaritas. Invite me to this event if you hold it. Thanks.

When talking to attendees, be aware of your language.

This is more of an issue for less profesh events: don’t talk about getting drunk or having a drink or be like “isn’t this great wow free wine and cider how rad”. If you’re a host or an event manager, just switch your language to be like “having fun” or “all of this free food”.

If you offer to get someone a drink, say something like “would you like a drink? maybe a juice?” I know from experience it is exhausting to continuously have to say “no I wouldn’t like wine, no not beer, great a water, I love water, tonight is great.”

Level two: keep an eye out for pressuring

As a host you can’t be everywhere at once. But reminding people you hear pressuring others to have a/nother drink that there are rad non-alcoholic options available is good. It helps to undermine the normalisation of alcoholic drinks.

Realise that making ~networking~ or ~bonding~ “drinks” less focussed on the drink will help remove barriers to cool people you definitely want to network and bond with

Fairly self-explanatory tbh.

The focus of your event isn’t alcohol

If it is – wine-tastings exist – you do you.


I know it’s difficult and scary to try run an event that doesn’t just give people wine until they like you. Booze, free booze, advertising booze are all fast ways to make people think they enjoyed your event, while excluding the people who wouldn’t have. But it’s well worth the effort to hold something that everyone can enjoy.

You don’t have to have a dry event in order to make everyone welcome. The above are just a few things you can do to help – and feel free to comment below with any more ideas!

*This is a joke currently, but legit how I have used alcohol in the past. 

If you’re having difficulty with your relationship with alcohol, check out your local Alcoholics Anonymous chapter (Australia, New Zealand) or have a chat to your GP. Living Sober is also a great online resource.