Category Archives: Gaming Stuff

Ass-Kicking Games – Tomb Edition.

The other day my girlfriend jokingly asked: “Is it bad that I kinda want to play the new Tomb Raider game?” Which of course led to me gushing about how they were some of the first games I ever played, and about how much I love them.

But even with that love, I am, as a feminist, skeptical of the newest installation. Luckily, The Border House has me covered.

“The developers tried to create a world without sexism (perhaps in response to the stigma associated with the series). That comes with problems of its own. But in doing so they also created a game that places agency in a woman’s hands.”

It even used the word “agency”, one of my favourite words ever. Fuck yeah!

Not that I really need The Border House’s consent to like a game, warts-or-lack-thereof and all. But it helps!

***

Combine that with the fact that Bioshock: Infinite came out this week, and is not only awesome, but has Elizabeth as a central character, and I’m feeling pretty good about gaming at the moment. I just wish I had a computer that could run anything beyond Portal.

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Halo 4 is, weirdly enough, leading the way in gender equality

It’s not often that I get to comment on gaming and feminism in a good way. [Unless Anita Serkeesian has said something again.]

It’s not often I that get to say nice things about the Halo games. [Unless it’s about the expanded universe, which apparently rocks.]

But here it is: barely a week before the release of Halo 4, Kiki Wolfkill and Bonnie Ross have announced a lifetime ban feature for sexism on XBox Live.

Way to come down on the awesome side of the debate, guys! Though I have to admit, this is the most optimistic quote I’ve ever seen:

“I’d like to think most of our Xbox Live players don’t support this kind of behaviour.”

I’m not going to touch that with a barge pole, for fear of unseating someone else’s faith in humanity in general, and gamers in specific.

Watch and read these links to know more, I have to sleep.

News: Halo 4 creators introduce lifetime ban for sexism

Interview: Halo 4 devs speak out against sexism

Hat tip to Borderhouse for this one.

Feminist Frequency VS The World

Christ, I feel guilty for not commenting on this before. But I feel even guiltier that this has even ever fucking happened. My gender, and my culture of choice – geekery.

[Triggers for hate speech and threats of assorted kinds if you click on a couple of these links. But not right here, ‘cos I’m nice.]

I’m gonna open with this tweet from Caitlin Moran; reviewer, author, feminist icon and hilarious person. She is, in many ways, what I aspire to be.

 

Now on with the show! I have often talked to you about Feminist Frequency; and I have often talked to you about games. About a month ago, though, the two collided, and we’re only just now starting to get to see the full fallout.

Feminist Frequency’s Anita Sarkeesian, vlogger, writer, gamer and all round pop-culture nerd and awesome person, decided to make a kickstarter for a project that she’s working on – “Tropes vs Women in Video Games”. (Yes, she’s a troper too – is there anything she can’t do?)

Well guess who didn’t like that she was going to be talking about games? The underbelly of the internet; that’s who! That’s right, the same place that brought us MRAs brought us even more hate speech. Directed at Anita. What a joy. Read the rest of this entry

Humble Bundle number whatever: just give me Amnesia!

Wait, I’ve forgotten what I was saying…

Oh yeah, the new Humble Indie Bundle. It’s EPIC!

If I need to tell you why getting “Psychonauts”, “Amnesia: The Dark Descent”, “Bastion” and “Limbo” for under a tenner, along with their respective soundtracks, is a GOOD thing, you’ve clearly been living under a rock for the last few years. It feels to me like these games have been unavoidable in terms of hype, critical praise and memedom.

If you want to know what indie gaming sounded like last year, it had a DEEP GRAVELLY VOICE and played the banjo.

Oh, and then there’s “Super Brothers: Sword and Sorcery EP”. Without being patronising, I like that there’s something new, potentially surprising and possibly terrible on there. The reason why I get the bundles is usually “1 game I want + a bunch of others I’ve never heard of”. This time it’s the other way around.

Watch the video.

This new humble indie bundle reads less like a genuine offer, and more like a “best of the last few years of gaming”. In many ways it seems too good to be true. So on the grounds that things that are too good to be true AREN’T, here’s hoping that at least one of them was over-hyped and sucks, and thus balance is restored.

I’m not holding my breath, though.

Reinformed!

I know today is supposed to be a day of talking about free expression, but I can’t help myself. So I shall have to freely express some joy, then!

As you probably all know, I am a total Mass Effect/Bioware fanboy. Seriously – huge! Well, Borderhouse was kind enough to link me to this; the long awaited, finally arrived, all-FemShep trailer for Mass Effect 3. And it is awesome!

Even if it means that I’m gonna have to get it on Origin, I don’t care. Tell your friends (who work at Gamestation, natch) we’re coming for them!

Mass Effect, but with FEMALES!

One of the things I’m looking forward to most in the upcoming Mass Effect 3 (not coming out soon enough) is the homeworlds. For the first time in the series, we will be seeing the turian and salarian homeworlds, as well as the human one, Earth itself. And while this is awesome from an epic, shit-is-getting-real, perspective, there’s another side of this:

Women and children.

In every Mass Effect game so far, they’ve done a great job of describing the different species and their cultural and political history, but no time has been spent on diversifying the species; there are no young turians or salarians*. In an action game, I can see why that might be. But the real problem is that, in a verse where the women kick as much ass as the men do, there are still very few women.

Except for her.

Read the rest of this entry

Girls, Games, and Uncharted getting everywhere.

A couple of notes on feminism and geek culture:

* First off, Anita Sarkeesian, aka “Feminist Frequency”, and one of my favourite vloggers on the interwebs, has finally updated. And this time she’s talking about games, specifically non-violent downloadable app games, and their impact on the female gaming market.

* Next, Dr Nerdlove’s commentary on male privilege in geek culture is interesting. Yes, I know privilege is bit of a buzzword this year, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it applied specifically to geek culture, rather than to broader groups that overlap, such as gaming or atheism.*

* I’ve also found a rather interesting article on Border House about feminism and gaming. OK, let’s face it, everything on Border House is interesting and related to feminism, in some sense or another. This one in particular, though, is about where the responsibility lies for making the vast inequality GO THE FUCK AWAY. Which sounds good to me.

“A right-minded blog post that will mostly be read by men who already deplore the way women are treated online surely can’t make major in-roads into the communities its message needs to be accepted.” This is utterly wrong. Male allies speaking up not only works, it’s effective and necessary.

Now I need to go and read the articles by Sorrell and Robertson that the author mentioned.

* Though this article changes nothing about whether we need to fix something in the industry, I do find the revelation that “49% of gamers in the UK are female”, and the mention of a number of female-led developers, very heartening.

 

I noticed that references to the Uncharted games have been popping up all over in these articles. This is an interesting sign, given that they were written by Amy Hennig. Naughty Dog the company she’s in charge of, have also made some of my favourite games ever. (Hell, she wrote Jak and Daxter – for that, much respect.) So it’s not just that Naughty Dog are doing some things right – they seem to be doing a lot right.

* Yes, a lot of atheists are also geeks. FOR SCIENCE! But I’m sure there are plenty of god-botherers who read sci-fi, play Halo, and complain that “the japanese really don’t get western religion!”

Herman Cain, No-one Chose You!

Quite possibly the weirdest part of any presidential campaign ever…

I… What is this I don’t even. I’m not sure if this world that we live in is awesome or terrifying, but presidential candidates quoting the Pokemon movie… Just what?

(And no, I don’t know why it’s backwards either.)

Achievement Unlocked: Reality Check Needed

OK, so here’s how I see it. Geneva Convention: Good. Red Cross/Red Crescent: Good. War crimes: Bad. The Hague: Good.

What I don’t get is what the good things above have got to do with fiction, and why they suddenly become insane when games are involved.

The Red Cross is has been investigating whether actions and events in games constitute violations of the terms of the Geneva convention. They have been forced to conclude, like the rest of the sane world, that they do not.

This is quite frankly one of the most stupid things I’ve ever heard of. I mean, I like the idea of arresting people who play Call of Duty wearing a headset, but still…

Such as him.

But here’s what I say. While we’re waiting for the court to come to trial on these dangerous, dangerous games, let’s get started with some war crimes that we already know of. First off, let’s start by having inspections into the war profiteering of the leaders of “The Last Alliance of Elves and Men”, specifically Isildur’s robbing the dead of their rings.

Next, I think we can all agree that Hugo Weaving’s stint as a Nazi named The Red Skull at the very least demands a trial for crimes against humanity. (We can also look into his exacerbation of the situation in Zion and The Machine City, I think.)

Anyone who likes Draco Malfoy should be investigated as a Voldemort-sympathiser.

And finally, Frank Miller should be arrested for being an asshole. No, really; he should.

Back to being serious, though, this is mental waste of money and time. It’s also depressing to know that some people think like this. Games are a work of fiction, like any other, and trying to impose our real world laws on them is not realistic, not sensible, and discourages the making of good fiction.

… Unless, of course, they don’t agree that games are a work of fiction like any other. Unless people think that games are somehow lesser art forms; a position that a lot of people seem to hold.

But let’s have that conversation, not one about whether or not the actions in games are crimes against humanity.*

Because "Games as Art" is actually an interesting conversation, and one that's worth having.

Reading their revised position, it looks a lot more sane: now they’re talking about using games to inform people of the laws of armed conflict. Which is good, but that’s not your decision to make. If game developers want to inform people fine. You want to help them, fine. But it’s not your place to tell them what they can and cannot have in their works of fiction.

I’m just glad it got thrown out like it did, because the ICRC are right: there is a serious problem of blurring the lines between fiction and reality. But the people who are having trouble telling the difference here are the Red Cross.

Oh, and because it’s related, go read today’s Cyanide and Happiness!

* By the way; in-universe, some of them obviously are.

Not Objectionable At All

Have any of you ever felt the urge to just yell “Objection!” at inanimate objects, but haven’t found a justifiable excuse to do so?

Pity.

Have any of you ever felt the urge to just yell “Objection!” at inanimate objects, and have subsequently found a perfectly justifiable excuse for doing so?

I see you’ve played Phoenix Wright then.

Behold the Power of Attorney!

That’s been my weekend (… and part of my week) in a nutshell. I couldn’t explain to you what makes this game so awesome. It shouldn’t be so awesome: you solve crimes using evidence, THE LAW and pointing! That shouldn’t work as a game basis, and yet it does!!! In fact, laws and pointing are pretty much the antithesis of gaming.

Anyway, I can’t fully explain why it’s awesome, but I can give a partial answer: it has great music. As in great music; music that overrides how dry the situation really is, turning legal peculiarities into the equivalent of fighting giant sea-monsters with light-sabres.

I mention this because I have found the songs on youtube IN JAZZ FORM.

I know that these will please some of you, along with the art on the videos themselves. Enjoy!

Similarly, there is a film in the works, and if it ever shows in the UK, I will hike to London to see it!

Interestingly, I think this film i’s the only case of reverse whitewashing I’ve ever seen, as the games are meant to be set in the U.S. Take that, Hollywood!