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”” »
As someone who is a huge fan of the Saw series, I’d like to say I’m fairly desensitized to what is categorized as “torture porn” unless we are talking about something that mirrors I Spit On Your Grave, in which case, then I might start to feel a little uncomfortable.
But that’s not at all how I feel about the aptly named Consensual Torture Simulator. The game’s developer, Meritt Kopas, who is responsible for other great games such as Princess Queen, Terf War, and Queer Pirate Plane, has come up with “a compact text game about hurting someone who wants it”, as quoted directly from the site as a description about the game. Continue reading ““Consensual Torture Simulator” Is More Than Just A BDSM Game” »
There are surely a lot of MMO players still out there and if you ask many gamers about upcoming MMO’s they will tell you how excited they are about them. With that you might say there is no death of MMO’s, but one thing is for sure, it just isn’t the same anymore and never will be. There is still profit to be made and gamers to attract, but the golden age of MMO’s are over for most gamers and try as they may, new companies will not be able to recapture what was and older companies can only look back on what they once had.
So how did this happen and who is to blame? Obviously we know many companies have made mistakes. This has been documented on almost every gaming website. My question is, do we as gamers share the blame in this? Continue reading “Are Gamers to Blame for the Death of the MMO?” »
I have several friends in Japan–one of them being a gamer by the name of Riyako Asuma; a twenty-six year old gamer I happened to bump into at E3 (by sheer happenstance, we were sitting next to each other during the trailer release for Kingdom Hearts 3 and we both cried with joy during it) We exchanged information, ignoring the obvious time differences to skype, chat about being gamers, and have wifi Pokemon Battles (which geeked both of us).
If you’ve been following various postings in the gaming blogosphere lately, then you know that a rather shameful new trend is growing on YouTube. Viral videos are popping up on several channels featuring older, teenage kids going onto Minecraft servers with the goal of making younger children cry. Each of these popular videos getting between three and seven million views, meaning millions of people are getting entertained by an innocent child crying and screaming after being provoked. My friends, this is not trolling. This is not even bullying. This is plain harassment. Continue reading “You’re Not “Trolling” Kids on Minecraft, You’re Harassing Them and It Needs To Stop” »
In the film GRAVITY, there are really only two main characters – Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalski (George Clooney). As the only people we ever really see on screen, the entire narrative weight is on them. And they’re astronauts – people not generally known for looking terribly distinct. And yet everything about the pair develops them beyond what their conversations will tell you. Continue reading “What GRAVITY Can Teach Us About Video Game Character Design” »
We deftly reported earlier this week that a New York middle school was foregoing the practice of allowing children to play tag and other sport activities at recess. Today we have word that a school decided to punish a 15 year old student for making this comment while announcing a football game:
“He’s got that getting-away-from-the-cops speed.” Continue reading “15 Year Old Student Punished for Using Madden Reference In Middle School Football Game” »
I always roll my eyes and laugh when my friends and I are watching anime (or hentai), and there’s a scene where some girl (and she’s almost always wearing a school uniform) is being groped by either her love interest (“Oh, Senpai! Please stop, we shouldn’t do this here!”), or some random pervert on a train. The funny (Read: sad) thing is, train/public transportation groping is such a common happening in Japanese culture that it’s even spilled out into pop culture, and is a common theme in anime, manga, video games, and hentai. And then of course, there’s the (rightfully) banned game of RapeLay, whose’s entire premise of the game surround a train pervert raping and impregnating two, school-aged girls and their mother. We see it so often in respects like these, that we just can’t wrap our heads around it when it does happen in real life, and it does happen. Continue reading “A Lesson In Etiquette: Keep Your Fucking Hands To Yourself” »
This past weekend I, like a good chunk of Americans looking for a modicum of escapism, saw the film Gravity. While I enjoyed it, I don’t think I took home quite the same message that the movie wanted me to. For one, I couldn’t help but think that the entire one-and-a-half-hour flick was an extended rehash of the first scene from Mass Effect 2. I also ended up wondering, in light of the recent government shut-down, cuts to the NASA budget, etc. why we haven’t devoted more cash to space travel.
Continue reading “Why Do So Few Games Explore Space Exploration?” »
I once had someone say to my face, “I don’t know what you’re complaining about–black women have it easy”. I also once had someone tell me that I was wrong for wanting more, prominent black, female characters in video games and comic books.
Let me tell you what I, and millions of other people worldwide, see when they turn on their televisions: They see the negative stereotype of black women in a character who is angry, loud, ghetto, fed up with men, and cast in roles of, “single, drug-addicted mother of five children, with her hair wrapped up with a scarf, yelling out of her window for one of her rowdy kids to behave”, or the “Successful, Angry Black Woman” who “is an independent, proud black woman who don’t need no man, and is bitter because her black husband left her for a white woman, because white women are supposedly “less drama”.
Continue reading “A Call For Diversity: I’m a Black Woman, and NO, I Am NOT “Perfectly” Represented In Nerd Culture, and Here’s Why” »