This post is inspired by two separate thoughts: A question from my roommate the other day about if Mass Effect’s Shadow Broker could exist in real life, and an excellent read from Stephen Beirne over at Gameranx, describing the Cosmology of video games. Beirne describes video game Cosmology as something that “draws from design of its narrative, gameplay, levels, sounds, visual aesthetic, and on and on, since worldbuilding isn’t just the careful placement of furniture or graffiti inked in blood.” Continue reading “Where Does Journalism Fit In A Game’s Cosmology?” »
Congratulations EA! You managed to get knocked out in the first round of Consumerist’s ‘worst Company in America’ award! Good job! Now while I do think it was a bit unfair to throw EA in there for Mass Effect 3, I’ll admit I understand why they keep landing there. Dungeon Keeper’s microtransactions are explicitly anti-consumer, the removal of SimCity’s mandatory always-online functions proves how awful they were, and the Battlefield 4 launch was absolutely abysmal for many gamers. So yeah, I get it, there the big guy and gamers are the underdog. Continue reading “5 Companies ACTUALLY Worse Than EA” »
Fine, I admit it, I want to have a kid some day. In my head I’d basically be Liam Neeson Dad. The kind of dad who protects their kid from ages 1-17, then from 18 dies in a heroic sacrifice so that my kids can become a hero. Since my perception of fatherhood has clearly already been altered by Fallout 3, I figure I might as well get ahead of the curve and figure out what games I want to teach my kids. Obviously they’ll probably have high-tech PC gaming rigs, future consoles, and super high tech tablets of their own one day, but that doesn’t mean I can’t show them the games from my heyday.
Some of these games are from my youth, some of them are new ones I’ve picked up and would want them to experience while they’re young. Some of them are meant for when they’re older, while some are obviously for when they’ll be six years old and I’ll still be trying to keep them from eating the controller. So in no particular order, let’s start with… Continue reading “5 Games I’d Love to Play with My Kid Some Day” »
I’m checking out Persona 4 Arena right now. As someone who grew up on games like Soul Calibur II, I have a decent amount of respect for fighting games and their place in gaming history. (Despite my terrible skill at them.) P4A’s decently compelling as a fighter, but right now my reaction to the story mode could be best described as ‘screaming in agony while feeling trapped in an endless groundhog day loop.’ I’m glad the characters have these in-depth personalities, backstories, and relationships, but for the love of god, WHY AM I SPENDING MORE TIME CLICKING ‘A’ OVER TEXT THAN I AM FIGHTING?!
It’s absolutely frustrating. I get that P4A’s more aimed toward fans of the Persona story and I’m comfortable with its desire to lean a little on fan indulgence, but my struggle with the game made me realize something about the fighting game genre: Right now, in 2014, the fighting game genre has been suffocated nearly to the point of irrelevancy. Its only life remains in the endless sequels of franchise fighting games that can only double down on mechanics, and its only natural growth has been to make a fighting game that literally parodies the insular jokes of other fighting games.
And what’s to blame? Well, I hate to say it, but I’d put it down to modern day gaming. Continue reading “Modern Day Gaming Has Killed The Fighting Game” »
Alright, it’s been a couple of weeks. We’re past the spoiler zone, right? Thief’s plot isn’t exactly super spoilery anyway. And as the title suggests, if you’ve already played Deus Ex: HR, YOU ALREADY KNOW THE PLOT! But, just in case….spoilers follow.
Toward the end of my Thief run, something about the game felt very…familiar. It was somewhere around the moment that I was sneaking around the zombies who don’t follow the game’s normal stealth rules and I said to myself “I’ve played this game before…”
Yep, just the (massively inferior) final level of Deus Ex.
“But wait!” You say. “A lot of games have surprise zombies in the final level. How else do they have the same plot?” Well, you might want to pay attention that the game starts off with your significant female companion getting killed…
The mystery of that death you track down for the entire game…
She’s working for the bad guy/working against you!
And her fate is left ambiguously unresolved in hopes of a sequel!
You see, both games start out with a clear intent on showing the authoritarian forces/corporations as SUPER EVIL and TOTALLY THE BAD GUYS. And there’s some kind of revolutionary group working against them.
BUT THEN THE GROUP DOESN’T TURN OUT TO BE ALL THAT GOOD AFTER ALL!
There’s also an asian-themed brothel….
Lots of breaking into innocent people’s apartments…
But Deus Ex: HR is a good game! It’s actually probably a good idea to borrow some points from it. Maybe it would have been nice if they’d borrowed…
A real morality system.
And actually interesting characters.
But, hey, at least it was a stealth game, right?
I’m done here.
I went to Disneyworld only once as a kid. Once. My parents weren’t super interested in expensive vacations to common tourist traps, so I never really felt like I was missing out on anything. Living in California now, going to Disneyland is as common as going to the beach, yet I still didn’t quite make it out there until after almost 2 years in the state. But as a gamer, my first visit there was a jolt in the face, because while my friends were walking around, squealing about how they were at the happiest place on earth, I was getting a crash course in thinking about video game level design. Both positive—-and negative. Continue reading “Disneyland and Columbia: A Fresh Look” »
I will start by saying this this is not an article about how you will become successful nor is it a tale of my own success. Though my ego requires that I acknowledge my successes, the logical and realistic side of my brain knows I am a long way from where I want to be. This is a mixture of what I have seen and experienced in trying to do what I know in my heart I was meant to do. My hope is that others on a similar journey might find some use of what I write here and if nothing else accept it for its entertainment value. Continue reading “What The Gaming Industry Has Taught Me About Life” »
Immortality is one the most widely used tropes in entertainment, whether it be movies, comics, books, or what have you. Even in real life, there are history books that tell tales of men searching for the “Fountain of Youth” to no avail, and yet people are still working hard and using science to attempt to cheat death once and for all. Some feel we are getting closer and closer to it with every, passing day. Continue reading “Why Immortality Isn’t All Its Cracked Up To Be…” »
I’m very familiar with the sucky feeling of having her words, opinions, and views ignored, laughed at, or even not acknowledged for no other reason aside from having breasts. However, something I’ve noticed is that if I share the same opinion on something with, say, a male, his words will be taken a bit more seriously than my own. Even if what he’s saying is utter trash or nonsense, people are statistically proven to believe the words of a man hold more value over that of a woman. Continue reading ““Written By…” Why A Woman’s Opinion DOES(N’T) Matter In Video Game and Pop Culture” »
Last week the guys behind The Escapist’s No Right Answer decided to do a video asking the question “Is Anita Sarkeesian Wrong?” And for a brief, shining moment I hoped that the conversation about Feminist Frequency would finally gain a mainstream discussion that didn’t require the use of holy water on some of the participants. Because even as much a I support her central thesis, the conversation on gender and gaming shouldn’t be monolithic, and I think talking about the ideas Feminist Frequency presents helps us dig even deeper toward ways we can make games even better. Continue reading “This Is How You Critique Feminist Frequency” »
Assassin’s Creed as a franchise has always opted in some-ways for a degree of “politicalness” that other games try desperately to avoid. Though one couldn’t label the franchise as pushing a specific recognizable agenda, there is something inherently political in regards to the way the games align corporations, ancient organizations, and historical figures in various lights of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ (for lack of a better word). Since the very first game, Ubisoft’s flagship title about planning and executing historical murder has walked a very fine line between outright advocacy and ‘playing it safe’ for entertainment purposes.
But Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag takes a confusing political angle, one which dilutes some of the series’ ideology and interestingly shows some of the gaps in how we discuss concepts like freedom and control. Essentially, by striving so hard to be apolitical in some ways, it winds up taking a silent stance on certain issues even if it doesn’t make active statements that belie developer intent. Continue reading “The Strange Politics of Assassin’s Creed IV” »
It’s that time of year again. As the clock crawls closer and closer to December 31st, Gaming Awards–be they from publications or from Spike TV start to crawl out of the woodwork. Though there’s nothing wrong in theory with the concept of gaming awards, their execution has become something of a double-edged sword for those who produce them, as they have grown to largely benefit publishers, and are so dispersed and diluted that there’s no conclusive way to consider what should be “Game of the Year.” (And should we even try to conclude that?!) Continue reading “Should We Still Care About The Spike VGX?” »
Despite writing for this amazing gaming blog, I’m often surprised by a strange fact about my real life friends circle–there aren’t a lot of gamers among them. Whenever I try to make a gaming reference, or talk about some weird new game I’ve picked up, I’m often met with blank stares and scratched heads. Oh don’t get me wrong, a few of them have certainly played Bioshock and Portal, but even in a room full of nerds, I’m still sometimes the only person who’s plunged deep enough to understand the Dark Souls franchise or to try out random Kickstarter games on Steam. Continue reading “The Gap Between Gamers and Non-Gamers (And Why It Matters)” »
Prominent video game feminist Anita Sarkeesian released her latest video on the state of female video game tropes in the industry. Sarkeesian has built a reputation for analyzing the female portrayals of characters in the video game industry, taking a hell of a beating in the process along the way. She’s raised some interesting discussions, some better than others, but has overall done a solid job elucidating the issue of a lack of diversity amongst game characters. Continue reading “Anita Sarkeesian’s Latest “Tropes in Video Games Video” Makes No Sense Whatsoever” »
A bullying scandal involving two NFL players is taking the mainstream media by storm. NFL player Richie Incognito was suspended for allegedly bullying his teammate, Jonathan Martin, to where Martin decided to leave the team.
As part of the alleged bullying attacks, Incognito left a profanity laced, racially invective voicemail for Martin; here is a sample:
“Hey, wassaup, you half n—– piece of s—. [I want to] s— in your f—— mouth. [I’m going to] slap your f—— mouth. [I’m going to] slap your real mother across the face [laughter]. F— you, you’re still a rookie. I’ll kill you…”
Much has been made about bullying, harassment, and racism in this issue, and rightfully so, however I’d like to call attention to the people who have made this a story about the perils of men “manning up.” A journalist I respect a great deal, LZ Granderson at CNN/ESPN, believes “manning up” is causing men to act inhumane, perpetuating us to act (and leave voicemails) like the above.
“When you think about the first time we hear things like ‘man up’ or ‘be a man.’ It’s never when we’re suppressing sensitivity, it’s only when we express it. Lack of connection with our feelings hurts our ability to empathize. And if we can’t feel with others, how can we truly feel for others?”
The first time I ever heard the phrase “man up” involved me trying to overcome a conflict I thought I had no business achieving; it had nothing to do with suppressing my desire to soul search. The tactics used to get me to overcome this conflict weren’t the prettiest, but it was effective nevertheless, and allowed me to realize “manning up” isn’t a license to act like an asshole, it’s to ensure that you sharpen your focus as a means to exceeding your full potential.
Manning up doesn’t mean you ignore your feelings, it ensures that you don’t let them get the better of you; that you’re strong enough to recognize you either need to change your circumstances or to stand up for yourself. Manning up is about honoring your emotions, it is not about ignoring or feeling ashamed by them.
This being said, I agree with Granderson for asserting that men have a problem empathizing with others, but I don’t attribute this to a lack of reflexivity, I attribute it to a tremendous amount of insecurity among men; a lack of direction regarding how we’re supposed to act and who we’re supposed to be.
Men have for the most part retained the majority of the powerful posts in our society, but role models who teach values (e.g. the true definition of manning up) are few and far between – pop culture is splattered with celebrities who boast sleeping with a lot of women or having a nice car as the primary tools of a productive lifestyle, not nobility and taking care of others.
Women on the other hand are being told they can do anything, they are the ones that shouldn’t take no for an answer and should welcome any challenge(s). The world (for the first time in modern history) has a tremendous amount of opportunities for them, and now is the time to grab them by the balls and kick ass.
Ironically, women are in effect “manning up” more than the modern man and good for them – they’ve earned the chance to prove they are just as qualified as anyone to fill our society’s tasks, irrespective of their gender. The consequence is that men have been manipulated into thinking our “barbaric nature” causes us to be an emotional mess and we SHOULDN’T resist the urge to think through our feelings…all the while decisive women pass us by and begin to view men as irrelevant.
In 2012, there were 12 million single families in the U.S., 85% of those were single mothers. Today, roughly 1 out of 3 children are raised without a father – a total of about 15 million kids. Clearly women are moving on without men, and based on our inability to man up, who can blame them?
Are men too afraid to deal with our own crap because we’re not allowed to cry or because we ‘re simply not entirely sure what’s expected of us anymore?
In the past decade, humans have invested more than 2.85 million years worth of time in one video game (Call of Duty) while the amount of people getting married has decreased 25%. Yes these aren’t exclusively male issues (nor are they necessarily directly related), but they are not anomalies – they are evidence that 1) men aren’t sure of what they’re supposed to be doing and 2) good men are becoming harder to find.
Remind men that manning up is a GOOD THING — it’s not a right to act inhumane, it’s about standing up for others, protecting the weak, and remaining accountable for your own actions -– and we’d see less men looking for mirrors and more looking for hammers.
Of course this message isn’t gender specific, but right now men are failing hard, while women are advancing forward at a historic rate. If we want men to progress at that same pace, instead of falling behind and frustrating women in the process, I suggest we re-focus the values of what it means to man up, instead of trying to bury it as a negative ideal.
In The Last of Us, there is a scene that left many people wondering about the sexuality of Bill, who was, more or less, a hardened, “tough-guy badass” central character in the game. This arose from a scene in the game where Bill comes across a man hanging by a noose shortly after the outbreak. The man with Bill doesn’t seem nearly as affected as Bill himself, and the man asks Bill,
“Someone you know?”
Bill only says, “He was my partner.” with a strong, verbal underscoring of the word partner. With just that one phrase, Bill confirmed everyone’s suspicions–that Bill meant the word “partner” in a romantic sense (Skip ahead to 2:20)
Naughty Dog certainly isn’t the first company to incorporate gay characters into their video games, but they are one of the few to go beyond the negative stereotype of gay people (specifically, gay men), and do so in a tasteful, albeit bittersweet way. Gay characters are slowly, but assuredly, on the rise in video games–which is making it easier to connect with LBGT gamers. The 2013 game Indie game, Gone Home, has received praise and accolades for handling the subject of a young, lesbian teenager running away from home and coming to terms with her own sexuality.
Other titles such as Mass Effect, Grand Theft Auto IV, Fable, and Dragon Age, have included LBGT options for players and have been met with great success–despite all four games being intended for a heterosexual male audiences.
It’s the progress that we need to see in video games.
The topic of Cyber bullying has been with us for quite some time. Recently, with the hazing controversy surrounding the Miami Dolphins and the NFL, I thought about the different taunting and internet hazing that can happen within the gaming community.
In the Miami Dolphins case, you had a player who was in his second year, but still being “bullied” by another player to the point that he walked away from the team. Most fans in the NFL are of the feeling that the player should have had a thicker skin or that he should have stood up for himself. It is believed hazing the rookie is tradition and only when it was revealed that there were text messages and voicemails using racial slurs it was said that at that point it was crossing the line.
Any gamer who has played enough online games with other players have come across verbal taunting and racial slurs. For most of us we either ignore it, mute it, laugh along with it or fight back against it. The question is, does this have a real negative effect on some of us and does it cause some to walk away from certain games or gaming altogether. Continue reading “Is in gaming taunting bullying?” »
Remember when it was believed that all gamers lived in their moms’ basements and ate Hot Pockets all day and pooped in socks? Now you see video game marriages and couples going to E3 and Blizzcon together. Sure, there are still many awkward gamers that aren’t getting laid, but in an entertainment field this big, gaming couples as are normal as couples who enjoy sports. So what are some of the challenges video game couples face? Surprisingly they are no different than any other. Continue reading “How Video Games Can Improve Our Relationships” »
Contrary to what you might think, my experience with the 1337LoungeLive 25 hour gaming marathon didn’t actually end at hour 25. Nor did it end at hour 27, after we finished packing up everyone’s winnings and organizing them in what we hoped was a sane fashion. It ended approximately at hour 32 or 33, after I’d driven back home, waved a foam sword around for an hour, and finally sat down on my couch, going to pick up a book, and falling asleep after leafing to page 1 and crashing down with this big smile on my face.
And then waking up an hour later and realizing I had no understanding how time worked. Continue reading “Dear Gamers: Thank You” »
I’ve often had a love-hate relationship with Final Fantasy XIII. I love the new worlds and characters; I hate how long it takes to play the game. Same for the sequel; I loved seeing them pull out the stops, and the well-written storyline, but I hated how long it took to sit through the game and play it–and I especially hated the battle sequences.
I can’t exactly say I like (Read: hate) all the changes they’ve made to Lightning. From her intentionally increased bust, to her brand new, skimpy outfits, Square Enix has taken a strong, independent female character and dumbed her down for the sake of drooling fanboys everywhere to market their game. (Which I see as an act of desperation, because if you know your game is going to be great, there’s no need to publicly announced “We gave her bigger tits AND they jiggle now! You’re welcome.” Continue reading “Why I Won’t Be Playing “Lightning Returns”” »