The Sunday Papers

By Kieron Gillen on August 8th, 2010 at 12:24 pm.

Sundays are for chewing over the defeat of the Bavarian Illuminati, The UFOs and the Society of Assassins by the Network, considering another couple of tea and another couple of levels of Starcraft 2 and compiling a list of the fine (mostly) games related reading I’ve come across this week while trying to not link to some piece of pop music or something. That’d be horrible. I hope I don’t do that.

Failed.

__________________

« | »

.

123 Comments »

  1. Ian says:

    Quinns Citizen Kane of Gaming thing: I like, but can’t help but feel I’m missing something. :(

    • Pace says:

      You really have to start reading from part 1. It’s quite the thing.

    • Ian says:

      I did, I read ‘em all the other day.

      It may well be one of those things where I think I’m missing something and I’m not.

    • jeremypeel says:

      I’ve been reading and absolutely adoring Quinns’ Journey of Saga of Journey of Saga of Journey of Saga; absolutely fabulous and evocative prose coupled with great, thought-provoking game culture debates in the Master sequences. Also, it’s hilarious.

      For those getting a bit lost, you really need to start at the first entry.

  2. sana says:

    That Tom Chick article’s pretty much the best.

  3. Freudian Trip says:

    Ugh Plan B, I remember having a choice between his first LP and Akala’s in Virgin one time. Thank fuck I chose Akala. Whiney angst rap got boring as soon as I stopped whining and being angsty (read: puberty)

  4. Babs says:

    RC Wipeout is very clever, it reminds me of Tim Hunkin’s work. If you’re even in Southwold, Suffolk (where by coincidence I happen to be now) you have to go to the pier to play bicycle pong and his mechanical version of Lander (moon lander simulator). There’s more stuff further up the pier too.

    Also: Name-checked baby! Now I is famous.

  5. Freud says:

    Everything about Activision rubs me the wrong way. But seeing how profitable games with douchey male leads are, I’m not sure I can blame them for wanting to make games with male leads.

    I don’t think The Witcher would have worked as good with a female lead. But all that lesbian action would have been awesome.

    • Gap Gen says:

      I think it’s generally expected that Activision are evil these days, mind. I might invent a time machine so I can go back to 1998 and amuse people by saying that EA are progressive publishers that fund innovation, and Activision are bastards who’d cancel their own grandmother if they didn’t think she’d gross over $100M.

    • malkav11 says:

      Well, the Witcher is a game based on an established character and setting. Geralt is male. In fact, I believe it’s established that it’s not possible to make a female witcher, in the books. But for original IP it’s pretty shitty to deliberately avoid female leads.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Yeah, Activision are right! Games like Metroid never sold well at all!

      Waaaaaaaait.

    • Arthur Barnhouse says:

      But the problem isn’t just that they want douchebag male leads, it is that when a team was developing the game has a female lead, Activision specifically asked them to drop the female character and add a male. I’m always surprised by this stuff because, to be honest, I’ve bought a lot of games specifically because they contained a female lead. Female leads tend to have better voiceacting.

  6. James G says:

    Ugh, why did I read below the line on the first article.

    • stahlwerk says:

      I didn’t mind the article. It’s not the best work in terms of journalistic research or integrity, but It’s credible to the extent that it’s easy to see more and more parallels between Big Music labels and Big Gaming publishers. Look at Boy/Girl Groups/Stars in the 90s, its the same focus group focused way of thinking. “Oh no, the 12-13.5 year old female suburban demographic is still untapped, someone give me the number of that Britney broad from the disney channel, STAT!”

      The comments, however…

      “I’m an ex F4 Fighter Pilot so my point of view is… pointier than your gay female point of view.”

    • Ganders says:

      The funniest commenter is the guy defending activision while sporting a “300″ avatar.

    • James G says:

      Yeah, by ‘below the line’ I meant the one above the comments, not the headline.

    • PurpleMonkeyDishwasher says:

      @James – I know exactly what you mean, but to be fair there are actually plenty of intelligent and well-reasoned comments in there…. there’s just the inevitable handful of highly vocal trolls / idiots successfully derailing any kind of sane discussion.

      I thought King Leonidus Avatar Guy was, if nothing else, entertaining; I found his ~58 post argument amusing because the whole thing basically boils down to:

      Imposing gender quotas [not that anyone even suggested it] to allow a certain number of female protagonists would be political correctness gawn maaaaaad!

      It’s perfectly fine that Activision are imposing 100% male gender quotas on their developers, stop whining you hippie liberal lesbos!

      He then goes on to identify himself as a “conservative Republican” ex fighter pilot…. Brilliant.

    • stahlwerk says:

      @James ah okay, my brain is in low-power sunday mode, so I parsed it as “below the first line of the article”.

    • qrter says:

      The comments under that article are, indeed, really depressing.

      “Don’t tell us what we can and can’t do!”

      You mean like Activision did with those developers?

      Or how about not seeing the article as trying to tell other people what to do, but as the start of a discussion, one we’ve only been having in tiny increments.

  7. latterman says:

    Just to note: The Oblivion Total Conversation Nehrim has been released (well, the german version, english version is due to august): nehrim.de

    I had no time to try it myself but according to articles in german gaming magazines it is teh shit, including good writing and use of professional voice actors.

  8. stahlwerk says:

    The Anti-Face-Recognition face paint reminds me a whole lot of the concept of dazzle camouflage, which was thought to be the perfect defense against optical based range-finders in the early 20th century. This is a nice page that was linked from Wikipedia about the subject. Then radar, sonar and laser came along, had a party with strafe bombing convoy air-cover and the rest is, as they say, history.

    Morale of the story? It may be effective until “They” use a different methology of measurement (i.e. ultrasound, voice recognition, mandatory de-makeup before entering certain places).

    Dazzle Camo quickly went obsolete, but not before it inspired awesome art.

    • Gorgeras says:

      There are certain things about depictions of the future that puzzle me. Why in the future do people wear ski boots, shoulder pads, ridiculous tattoos, sunglasses that cover only one eye and other plain daft stuff that screams “look at me, I’m from the future” ? I could never think of any practical reason why people in the future would look so daft and couldn’t accept it was simply a change in fashion sense.

      Now I see some plausible explanation for bizarre facial make-up in anti-facial recognition paint, if it works. MadMatty says it won’t, I say it will, but who is right? I smell gambling opportunity!

      Place your bets now!! BET!BET!BET!

    • Fumarole says:

      Do you not remember the 80s?

    • sinister agent says:

      … or, indeed, most of this decade. Just have a look around at what a lot of people wear now. It’s no less ridiculous.

      Kind of get the point though. Some things really are overdone. I’d like to point to Minority Report as a comparable example, too – sure, that big floaty wavey-arms-in-the-air computer thing that Twat Cruise uses looks very futuristic and all, but can you imagine how horrible it would be to use? Try spending eight hours a day with your arms raise above your head, flailing around like an idiot, and see how your arms feel.

    • stahlwerk says:

      Intent: spark a discussion about how cool dazzle camouflage looks (and yet it isn’t featured in any naval warfare games I know of).
      Outcome: Tom Cruise and other fashion sins of the 80s.

      I failed at Internet. :-(

    • Daniel Rivas says:

      Stahlwerk:

      You just made my day. Thanks.

      ‘Dazzle’s effectiveness is not certain. The British Admiralty concluded it had no effect on submarine attacks, but boosted crew morale. It also increased the morale of people not involved in fighting; hundreds of wonderfully coloured ships in dock was nothing ever seen before or since.’

      Amazing.

    • stahlwerk says:

      @Daniel very welcome! The first time I saw this (in a lecture about 19th and early 20th century architecture, nonetheless) it totally blew my mind. It’s such a totally out-there concept, painting your Warships and killing machines in colourful, beautiful, strange, frighteningly futuristic patterns, based on the hopelessly naive assumption that the biggest thread to a ship would come from beneath the waves. Its probably the last visual expression of.. i don’t know.. chivalery? post-romanticism-pre-hippy-ism? in a militaristic context.
      The only other occurence in the 20th century I can think of is german pilots being allowed to paint their warplanes during WW1. All the while below their wings millions of boys were exploded, drowned in puddles of shit or suffocated in mustard gas clouds.

    • qrter says:

      The first time I heard about dazzle camouflage was on an episode of QI, if I remember correctly.

  9. MadMatty says:

    The Anti Facial Recognition makeup shown is bogus, or atleast made too fool a different symmetry detection routine- you´d never wanna use black under the eyes- still its only a matter of switching routines (software), or run dual ones.

  10. pipman300 says:

    Robert Kotick hates women

    http://tinyurl.com/koticksux
    ^
    Article where Robert Kotick decides to make a woman’s life hell for complaining about sexual harassment.

    • bleeters says:

      @ pipman 300

      At this point, I wouldn’t be especially suprised if Kotick was proved to be the devil himself.

    • Azhrarn says:

      @Bleeters: The Devil would be to much honour for a man such as Kotick, some minor minion daemon perhaps, but not the head honcho himself. But he’s doing a damn fine job mucking up the game industry, that much is certain.

  11. pipman300 says:

    nooo the ukfc is gone :( no more chicken forever.

  12. bill says:

    They abolished Ultimate KFC?!?!? This will not stand!

  13. bill says:

    That ElectronDance one is my life – but maybe 2 years in advance.

    • Ashes says:

      I seem to be heading that way as well, but I agree with the article completely in that gaming is an important enough part of my life that I’ll always manage to find time for it.

  14. bleeters says:

    One day, Kieron will succeed at not posting pop news, and all the world will hold it’s breath in bewilderment at what has changed.

  15. Xercies says:

    The UKFC thing, we used to have that policy in britain before…do you know what happened? People made cheap British films just to get the quota up there and didn’t really care what those films contained…sure some were gems but most of them were crap and probably made our culture down i think. But today even though we don’t have a fim industry we are respected…british actors are the most respected in hollywood they really are. So basically you do one for the other really…do you want to be respected with no money or do you want money in british film but not be respected except for rare occasions when something of a rare gem comes out. I actually don’t know really to be honest.

    Also that Limbo piece didn’t really talk abotu german expressionism at all…hmm I’m beginning to find a lot of these articles where they have that kind of title and they only talk about the thing in the last bloody paragraph. The last bloody paragraph was interesting expand on it and create the whole article on it not just have random pointlessness and then at the ery end say what you were thinking.

    Also to be honest i’m not entirly getting the quinns thing…but someone should get terry gilliam to film it!

    • Alexander Norris says:

      You know that 90% of what Hollywood puts out is crap too, right? Sturgeon’s Law applies to everything. Cutting funding won’t magically make the bad films go away; it’ll just result in the same proportion of bad films out of a vastly smaller number of films.

      I mean, I suppose that yes, if there are only ever two British films made a year they’ll both be shit but they’ll both fly under the radar, so the UK would end up being better respected among film critics or whatever. It’s still a pretty dumb thing to wish for, though.

    • Xercies says:

      yeah but its not just sturdgeons law they LITRALLY made crap just so they could fill the quotas set by the government because they couldn’t figure out another way to do it.

  16. bill says:

    If girl characters don’t sell games, why is almost every games box and games add plastered with half-naked female elfs/demons/witches/armoured princesses?

    • bleeters says:

      @ bill

      Those aren’t female characters, they’re empty husks devoid of life. With massive breasts.

    • Freud says:

      Because games don’t want to be women, we want to do women. That’s what nerdy virgin are like.

    • bill says:

      The sad thing is that for most games, it probably would make no difference to swap the sex of the character. Other than having to re-render the cutscenes with a new model.

    • Nick says:

      I think you’ll find the desire to procreate, or at least practice, is not limited to nerdy virgins.

    • Ozzie says:

      Honestly, how many males pick a female avatar in RPGs? I know that most of my friends do. How was it?
      “If I have to stare at an ass the whole game long it might just as well be an attractive woman’s ass”.

      Not my words, I just paraphrased someone out of memory.

  17. Alexander Norris says:

    That ESPN piece is great, but there are two wonderful, wonderful quotes in light of today’s industry practices:

    The stakes were high for a pair of upstart game makers, with a career-making opportunity and a $100,000 development contract on the line.

    Japanese game maker Nintendo enjoyed a near monopoly on American living rooms, using that clout to treat companies producing NES games like feudal serfs, controlling game content, delivery, packaging and profit distribution.

    Hawkins didn’t want to play along.

    Great piece nonetheless, but the irony is hilarious.

  18. Morris says:

    In other news:

    Tricky Truck ( http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2010/08/02/park-life-tricky-truck/ ) won Assembly Summer 2010-demoparty’s game development competition! Congratulations to Archee :)

    Top three were:
    [ Gamedev competition ]
    1 4532p Tricky Truck by Archee
    2 1959p 7-bit Pirates by The 7 bits
    3 1859p Part-time Angle Grinder Hero by Tekotuotanto

    http://www.assembly.org/summer10/news/results.txt

  19. Daniel Rivas says:

    Ganders: Oh hey, you’re right. I had just assumed it was a picture of the commenter.

    Anyway, people standing up for massive companies always confuse me. They’re doing fine, they don’t really need advocates. They’ll continue to chase profits, whether or not you post about how you can’t blame them for chasing profits. It’s not an excuse, it makes you look silly, and they don’t need the help. (I use ‘you’ here in the generic sense, of course)

    If you think games shouldn’t be so skewed towards a juvenile male audience, say so. If you don’t, also say so. Unless you’re the one making the profits, they really shouldn’t come into the argument.

    Golly-gosh, I’m shouty today.

  20. Marlowe says:

    You play Steve Jackson Games’ Illuminati? Good choice, it’s a classic.

  21. LewieP says:

    On SavyGamer this week I uncovered another example of The Hut being dishonest.
    http://savygamer.co.uk/2010/08/04/the-hut-are-still-very-dishonest/

    • Lewis says:

      In the interest of balance, I’ll mention I spoke to Mr. The Hut (Jabba?) on the phone and he said it was all an unfortunate coincidence that only looked like schemeing price-hikes. I’d explain in more detail, but I have the worst hangover and explaining it will make my brain go away.

    • LewieP says:

      Here’s Denby’s coverage of it.

      http://beefjack.com/news/online-retailer-defends-against-sly-price-hike-allegations/

      I think that is a very weak excuse for two reasons:

      1. They may have been in the daily special section, but that is not clearly shown at all. It is entirely possible for a customer to have loaded up the homepage, searched for a game, and found it. There is nothing on an items page description to say it is a limited offer. No countdown, no mention of it being a daily special at all.

      2. Their “Daily special” section currently has 12 (by my count, there may be more) games in it that have been at those prices for weeks.

      There daily special section is nothing of the sort, it is just a mis-advertised selection of stuff that they currently want to discount. Then they remove all the good stuff before they issue the coupon, without telling anyone that is what they are doing. It is dishonest.

    • Rich says:

      It’s also the second time they’ve done it. Lewie already gave them the benefit of the doubt once, but a repeat offence suggests either malice or at least negligence.

  22. Alexander Norris says:

    I would buy a novel-length version of Quinns’ travelogue. I am not kidding. I want to see him do for all of gaming what Crooked Little Vein did for /b/’s Internet.

  23. dudekiller says:

    Saying that Limbo is “basically a monochrome Rick Dangerous with a portentous soundtrack” seems to be a bit disingenuous. Like saying that Taxi Driver is basically Death Wish with a mohawk, ‘cuz they’ve both got guys with big revolvers, right? Sure, I guess it is, if you disregard all of the things that make it not like that at all.

    • Red Scharlach says:

      “Phonogram is getting a lot of yabber for what is basically jerking off to vintage NME to the tune of cheap Photoshop pics that someone forgot to colour in.”

      Funny, I didn’t think LIMBO was pretending to be anything other than what it was.

      That is to say, a platformer.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Dracko: We’ve got colour in series 2!

      KG

  24. DrGonzo says:

    I was very pleased to find that Street Fighter song on Spotify. But why does my Spotify keep maximising itself over my start bar? It’s very irritating. As is it not shutting when I click the close button. I’m on a PC damnit not a Mac!

  25. Flimgoblin says:

    Hmm going to have to up my game on the SC comments, as I’m playing on the US servers rather than more local european ones (for various reasons) I may turn up the imperial accent dial to full…

  26. PleasingFungus says:

    Now I’m trying to imagine a world in which Bethesda ended up in charge of Madden.

  27. Wulf says:

    Bah. I think female characters can sell as well as male ones, providing they’re not quite as flat as Lara Croft, who’s flat enough to be truly one-dimensional.

    My personal champion of female leads is Jade from Beyond Good & Evil, because Jade was a really different approach from the way most women were represented in games.

    Jade wasn’t sexed up, but she was capable, intelligent, witty, and self-reliant. Jade was really the blueprint for later games. The problem is that Activision is looking at the likes of Lara Croft and making a decision based on that. But I think the situation has evolved from there.

    Jade gave way to latter examples; the smart ladies in Valve games used the Jade template, for one. And personally, I really, really like Rochelle. I find her the most interesting character of the entire L4D barn, including the original.

    The truth is, I think, that sex fantasies might sell based on covers, but they don’t make for interesting game characters. This is probably why I find Lara Croft to be the most boring and uninspired character in the history of gaming.

    So don’t avoid women, Activision! That’s just bloody stupid! Instead of that, avoid women-as-perceived-by-lonely-horny-hetero-males. If you were to add believable women to your games, you’d probably find that they’d sell just fine.

    Embrace the Jade philosophy, Activision, it’ll do you well.

    • Rich says:

      If Lara has any personality at all, it’s that of a thoughtless grave-robber. At least Indiana Jones sold his findings to a museum.

    • bleeters says:

      @ Wulf

      The irony being that female characters portrayed in the manner you describe generally end up far sexier than the busty cleavage types.

      Or maybe that was just the green lipstick.

    • stahlwerk says:

      @Rich The “reboot” of Tomb Raider crafted (well, developed – - the original had hinted at her origins with the plane crash in the himalaya etc.) a family backstory for Lara, which motivates her actions. In the end it all turns out very predictable, though. Also, it really doesn’t excuse her mass-murdering of people only doing their job, wanton destruction of archeological sites and driving of “endangered “species towards extinction. I mean, she kills dinosaurs for god’s sake! (Cue Indy: “These belong in a zoo!”)

    • Wulf says:

      @Rich

      Sadly, yes. That’s actually one of the reasons I don’t like Lara, she’s a very negative female icon and for her to be so popular was actually quite distressing to the women I know. Not least my sister, who kept giving me an earful about it and was constantly surprised when I agreed.

      This is why I never played Tomb Raider, despite the first apparently being a very good game. If Tomb Raider had had a better, stronger character with nobler motivations and less of a focus on slaughter, genocide, and stealing, then Lara would have been a character that gaming could’ve been proud of.

      Lara could’ve been as loved as Sands of Time’s Prince. As it is, she’s gaming’s elephant in the closet. That is a shame.

      @bleeters

      Perhaps! :) I have to say that I’m more the swoony type than the lustful sort, so I wouldn’t know, but I could see how that might be the case. Still, this just reflects very positively on you, I think!

      You’re attracted to a character who is independent, smart, and resourceful, but one who is compassionate and maternal as well. Whose original motivations at the start of the game were to save a bunch of kids. Jade is a hero, the best possible sort of hero.

      This opposed to a grave-robbing skanky character who’s an absolute monster, motivated by greed alone.

      @stahlwerk

      That actually bothers me, you know?

      The thing is, they had such an opportunity there. One where they could say: That was gaming then, and this is gaming now, see the difference? Except there wasn’t a huge difference. They largely kept the character the same and made excuses, just as you pointed out.

      They really squandered that potential, they could’ve made Lara into something else entirely. As it stands though the reboot really wasn’t much of a reboot at all. It was old Tomb Raider with shiny new graphics.

      Maybe when the next reboot rolls around, eh?

    • stahlwerk says:

      If Tomb Raider had had a better, stronger character with nobler motivations and less of a focus on slaughter, genocide, and stealing, then Lara would have been a character that gaming could’ve been proud of.

      I know you will not agree with me, but that’s what I meant, in the last game she has a noble motivation and the slaughtering etc. is incidental to it’s nature as a video game. I had a great time playing it, most of all because the focus is on environmental puzzles. And just before the fights start getting tedious you get the best depiction of a blunt melee object in Video Game History, but I digress. I must confess I grew fond of the game and its characters in a “I know its pulp, sue me!” way. Lara might not be the paragon of gaming’s depiction of female realities, but she thankfully grew out of that facepalm inducing image she had during the time Toby Gard had nothing to do with the franchise. A fucking U2 video? Give me a break!

      For an even more crass contrast between the written character and the character’s actions during the game itself, look at Uncharted: Drakes Fortune (yeah I know, PS3 exclusive). Meet Nathan Drake, that totally lovable, laid-back (and handsome I guess) guy, who genuinely wants to uncover his family’s mystery and help his friends out of screwed up situations… IN CUTSCENE MODE. During gameplay he amasses a ridiculous killcount and amount of mayan/incan/aztec loot.

      Frankly I think it’s a problem with the way a game’s rhythm is constructed in that particular genre, with beats of action and beats of puzzling and beats of jumping and exploration. Reducing one part or taking it completely away would put a very high stress on the other two parts, and most developers seem to be uncomfortable with just puzzle & exploration.

    • Mman says:

      “I never played Tomb Raider”

      It’s showing.

      For a start, the idea that Lara alienates a female audience is proven very wrong in practice; Tomb Raider is pretty much the only “hardcore” franchise I know of with a significant female presence in its fanbase. It shows most obviously in the custom level community; quite possibly the majority of the most well known designers in it are female. The only high-profile female designer I know of from another level design/modding community is from Thief, and, coincidentally, she (Trix) is part of the TR Level Design community too.

      “If Tomb Raider had had a better, stronger character with nobler motivations and less of a focus on slaughter, genocide, and stealing”

      “slaughter and genocide” are such loaded words this is borderline trolling. The only times killing seems extremely questionable (beyond the inexplicably evil animals of course) are in TR3 and 5, in every other game there’s a good reason why she has to defend herself. Considering you brought her up Jade most likely kills more in the course of Beyond Good and Evil than Lara does in any individual game. Stealing is correct of course, but, well, that’s kind of the point :) , and she’s hardly the only character in gaming to take everything not bolted down.

      “motivated by greed alone”

      The closest thing Lara’s ever had to a motivation is the hunt for Mummy in Legend-Underworld, no other game has given anything detailed, and greed is likely very low on the list of reasons.

      “skanky”

      Being “slutty” is a major factor of this word, and in the actual games (as opposed to ridiculous promotional materials that have no bearing on the games and are where 99% of the bollocks about her come from), there’s very little she does to other characters that are especially sexualised, you might think that her base movement is sexualised in a way, but that still doesn’t touch on the implications of this word.

      This isn’t to say she’s an especially deep character (she isn’t), but lots of what you’ve said about her and the series itself is outright false.

    • Wulf says:

      @Mman

      Sorry I insulted a game that you like so much, unfortunately we can’t see everything the same way. Whilst I never played Tomb Raider, I did watch Let’s Plays, so I’m actually more clued in than you think. And considering that, my opinion remains the same.

    • Mman says:

      To extend on the motivation thing a little, the lack of detail on it arguably works as strength, as people can ascribe their own motivation from the few details given and create their own interpretation of her actions. If they are aiming to keep going in their current course I think the newer games attempting to give her some sort of solid motivation actually works against the future, as any mystery or speculation about the character fade, and, as she still doesn’t have an especially deep personality (which would have been a better way to improve things) there’s little to build on now her arc is resolved in Underworld.

    • Hidden_7 says:

      I think it’s good that Lara is a bit of a selfish jerk. We should definitely have more Jades as well (more female characters in general, they are underrepresented) but requiring them all conform to a very noble archetype because otherwise it would be a “negative” portrayal is just a different sort of sexism. There are lots of selfish, borderline psychotic male leads in games, so in a world with more female characters in general some of them should be somewhat unpleasant people. Basically if we’ve got Garrett, why can’t we have Lara? (Yeah, Garrett kills less, but to be fair, most of Lara’s killing tends to be in self-defense).

      It’s like the old sitcom stereotype. The husband is always the zany buffoon, and the woman is always the grounded responsible one. In any given argument the man is always wrong, and the woman is always right. I know why this happens, it’s a bit of overcompensation for so much of history when women were portrayed in a really negative ineffectual light (if at all), but we’ve got to move past that point too.

      So yeah, more Jades, but more Laras too. While we’re at it, let’s have a female Guybrush, someone who’s largely good-hearted, but somewhat goonish, and female Sam and Max’s, people who are just openly psychotic.* More female leads of all character sorts.

      *Yeah, SHODAN and GLaDOS are good examples are compelling, yet ‘evil’ female characters, but I was talking specifically about leads, not villains.

    • Wulf says:

      Now for the reply that actually deserves attention.

      @stahlwerk

      “I know you will not agree with me, but that’s what I meant, in the last game she has a noble motivation and the slaughtering etc. is incidental to it’s nature as a video game.”

      Could you clue me in as to what her noble intentions were? I’m not doubting you, I’m just asking. I’m genuinely curious as I seem to be blanking, here.

      The problem for me though is that my mind tells me that Lara Croft kills animals and innocent people (who would’ve otherwise left her alone), so her reasons would have to be good ones. Of course, my memories of new and old might be getting tangled, here. That does seem to be the case, though?

      The problem is is that she’s not fighting evil sand constructs, animated undead, mindless machines, or an invading alien force that seems to be able to reconstitute itself, she’s fighting very real world things, and perhaps that’s what taints my opinion of her.

      I’d actually like your honest feedback on that. I am hot blooded so I do word things a little strongly sometimes, but perhaps you’ll see that trolling isn’t my intent.

      And perhaps I’m just too much of a carebear? That could very probably be true, too.

      “I had a great time playing it, most of all because the focus is on environmental puzzles.”

      I can’t make any claims about fun, so I don’t doubt this at all!

      “For an even more crass contrast between the written character and the character’s actions during the game itself, look at Uncharted: Drakes Fortune [...]”

      Oh Gods I hate Uncharted and I absolutely despise Nathan Drake. He’s an arrogant, annoying, racist little man. Yahtzee had this right on the money, he said much of the same thing.

      “[...] (yeah I know, PS3 exclusive). Meet Nathan Drake, that totally lovable, laid-back (and handsome I guess) guy, who genuinely wants to uncover his family’s mystery and help his friends out of screwed up situations… IN CUTSCENE MODE.”

      Oh.

      Hey, I just had a Charlie Brooker moment.

      I think I have a bit of a disconnect here, since I can’t wrap my mind around Nate being a loveable character. He was roguish, but he seemed to lack the more redeeming features of Indiana Jones, to say, who I felt at least had some.

      I get this with a lot of characters though, and I’ve had some interesting discussions with friends about it.

      Even Ratchet of Ratchet & Clank fame comes over as a bit o a jerk on times, but he’s likeable. I dig him. The difference is is that he’s fighting off alien armadas that are intent on killing and/or dominating people, it’s all very detached from reality, and his actions are borne of defense rather than greed.

      Greed would be Captain Quark, who’s definitely a total dick, even if he does make me laugh.

      I think some of the problem I have with Nate though is due to Uncharted 2, where his motives are fueled by greed more than anything else. Nate was slightly more tolerable in the first game, but he still got on my nerves a lot, and I think the reason why was because Nate saw every ethnic minority as an evil.

      This was something that I could not get out of my head as I was playing, and I came to dislike him more and more over time because of that.

      So, why the wall of text?

      I felt I owed you an explanation, maybe it’ll make it clear why I take to some characters (Jade), whilst being repulsed by others (Lara Croft)? I’m hoping all the expository explanations have made my feelings a little clearer. As an INFP, I operate a lot on feeling, and I always do my best to communicate that.

      This leads me to the end result that I feel that we can be proud of Jade but not Lara, however my opinion in regards to this is not immutable.

      If in the new Tomb Raider games Lara never attacks an innocent or an animal, and if she has truly noble intentions for her actions, then I could look at the new games a little differently. I am willing to keep an open mind here, and I’m trying not to let my personal bias get in the way.

      “Frankly I think it’s a problem with the way a game’s rhythm is constructed in that particular genre, [...]”

      I don’t think it’s just that, I think it’s more that if you combine the genre with a modern day setting, if you’re not careful then you’re going to have a character that looks like a total prick. In fact, that’s true of damn near every action/adventure game I can think of that’s set in a modern day setting.

      Often, just a little more fantasy than the Uncharted games have can actually work to offset that. A good example of this is Batman: Arkham Asylum. I was up against particularly insane inmates and super-villains who definitely wanted to see people dead, and yet Batman saved the day without killing anyone. That’s impossible, yes, but sometimes maybe that’s all it takes.

      So, there you go, my thoughts. :3

    • Wulf says:

      @Hidden_7

      As you’ve probably noticed with my reply to stahlwerk, I grate in regards to any gender inexcusably dickish. Whether that’s a woman or a man. And I think it’s a negative icon.

      I think Nathan Drake is a horrible male icon too and upholds some really bad male stereotypes about manliness and masculinity (DO YOU HAVE IT? IF NOT, YOU ARE NOT A MAN!). I don’t see how sexism could come into this though, I’m just a very left thinker and I keep hoping our gaming characters can be paragons of positive aspects of humanity.

      There’s a difference there to how I believe you perceive me currently.

      And as it stands, I tend to think that any stereotypes are bad, I think we could use some characters that break out of established roles. I suppose that my problem is is that a lot of the characters in these sorts of games are horrible stereotypes, and not much more than that. I mean, Nathan Drake is a living stereotype of the manly man’s man.

      As for Garrett, I always perceived him differently. I never killed as Garrett and I didn’t steal from the poor. The problem with Garrett though is that you have that choice, but the Tomb Raider games don’t give yout hat choice. Perhaps they should? Now that’s an interesting thought, isn’t it? Give Lara a taser and some decent tranq-based weaponry!

      I’m also totally for a female Guybrush. That’s an incredible idea and I wholeheartedly support it. :3

    • Wulf says:

      I have more thoughts.

      I think I expressed myself pretty well, here. I admit this is more rare than I’d like, so I’m actually quite pleased with myself, and I think that it’ll clear up a lot of confusion as to what goes on in my brain.

      Anyway, non-lethal weaponry for characters.

      In my Universe, JC Denton wasn’t a dick because he was actually pretty easy going and never killed.
      In my Universe, Garrett wasn’t a dick because he’d always opt for the least violent solution to a problem.

      In my Universe, Lara Croft is, err… whatever. >.> Lara Croft is unpleasant because of her killing streaks.
      In my Universe, Nathan Drake is a dick because he’s a killer who comes over as very racist.

      Now, in Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction, I actually went through the entire game once (from start to finish) without actually defeating anything that wasn’t a boss. I used the golden groovitron to gain a bonus unlock thingy! That was actually my favorite playthrough. I loved that so much.

      I can’t help how much other games influence my opinion by pushing a gun into my hands and telling me that I have to kill people in order to proceed. And from that, I can’t help but wonder how different my opinion of those games (and their characters) would be if they provided me with non-lethal solutions that I could use throughout the game.

      As I said to stahlwerk, I have a hard time not accounting for the actions of a videogame character. If their actions show them to be total dicks, then that’s that, and if they act nice in the cutscenes then they’re just being two-faced and hiding their inner dickishness.

      But what if the player had the option in every action/adventure game? Be a hero or be a dick, you decide!

      Now that… that would be interesting.

      And it’s that these games don’t allow for that approach that bothers me and taints my opinion of the character I play, since the limitations of the game reflect upon the character.

      Disclaimer: This post was probably not an excuse to write the word ‘dick’ over and over, that just sort of happened.

    • stahlwerk says:

      Oh boy, Wulf, you really like them words, don’t ya? ;-)

      Re: Lara’s motivation. I can only speak about underworld, but it’s a continuation from legend. HUGE Spoiler warnings apply.

      Basically Lara’s mother is killed when Lara was young and their airplane crashed in the himalaya. Years later her father disappears (I think.. does he die?) and she goes to retrace his steps and finds that he believed that every underworld myth in the world is talking about an actual real place one could enter, so he tried to go there to reunite with his beloved wife. Lara is now trying to piece together daddies puzzle by visiting a multitude of sites where the underworld concept was worshipped, thailand (stunningly depicted!!), mexico, the mediterranean, and lastly Svalbard, where she finds the entrance to Helheim, the norse underworld.

      (You may already guess what “melee” weapon she gains on her way there. It’s totally awesome.)

      All along the way she is teased by Natla, her arch-nemesis and last survivor of an atlanthean god-caste. And ultimately it Lara has to trust Natla, which is – of course – betrayed and – of course – leads to an epic showdown between the two. Oh, mom? Yeah she finds her, but shes a Zombie, so she has to kill her. (I honestly had a lump in my throat in that cutscene, the desperation was quite effectively conveyed)

      Of all the killing she does I don’t recall any that would qualify as absurdly superflous. Animals range from small critters like Bats and Spiders to large Wildcats, Sharks and (huge) Spiders (brr). Other enemies are Zombified warriors in different sizes, Poachers and Natla’s Security guards.

      Re: Nathan drake: Funny that you mentioned having only seen let’s plays and thus having formed your negative image of lara, because I base my positive reaction on a let’s play of Uncharted 1. I don’t know he just seemed like a nice enough guy, in between xenophobic slaughtering sessions, that is. ;-D Maybe it was so because I could just listen to the commentators during the violence, not having to “commit” it myself.

      But all that’s coming from a guy who really liked the characterization in Kane & Lynch: Dead Men. Your mileage may vary, as they say.

    • Zwebbie says:

      Does it even matter all that much whether a character is male or female? In most if not all games where there’s a female lead, you could easily swap her out for a male and just change the “she”s into “he”s and you wouldn’t notice a difference. Heck, lots of RPGs even do that. As long as games are too shallow to even delve into the most basic psychology of the characters, I fail to see how this makes much of a difference at all.
      Now if you want more ‘feminine’ games, i.e. less action oriented, I could see the point in that, but that’s never up for discussion.

    • Urthman says:

      “It’s good that we are starting to see huge-breasted women portrayed in a positive light in the media”, comments Alicia Larsen, professor of American Studies at Berkeley. “Women need to realize that having enormous boobs is okay. And men need to understand that women aren’t just thinking, feeling people – they have cleavage too.”

      Doctor Larsen is often approached by men wanting to deconstruct Russian cinema, or discuss the history of free verse. “You get the most outrageous proposals in this job”, she notes. “One guy I met wanted me to lay out my views on Saussure’s theory of linguistic markedness. I told him: “On the
      first date? I’m just not that kind of girl.”

      Julia Larkin, a regular on Baywatch, is tired of women being stereotyped in movies. “Young girls are constantly exposed to this unreasonable feminine ideal – I mean, how many people can realy do four years of post-graduate work?”

      That’s why, she says, a game like Tomb Raider is worth making, even if it doesn’t become popular. “They didn’t do what you’d expect for a female archaeologist – pottery excavation and categorization, translation of ancient languages, lots of exploitative inter-library loan footage. Because they weren’t pandering to their audience. They put in a lead character with huge breasts and big guns. And that took some courage.”

      http://tinyurl.com/2vdaokm

    • Hidden_7 says:

      @Wulf

      What I’m taking away from here is that you don’t like action stars, or really anyone that has to ever resolve a situation with violence, unless the targets of said violence are extremely alien (but not animals). Which is fine, but you’re really calling out for different game WORLDS, not characters. Like, it seems like the big problem you have with someone like, say Lara (at least from a personality standpoint, apart from her sexualized image) is that she exists in a game where she gets shot at, and is forced to defend herself (as opposed to running away, or putting her life in further risk by attempting non-lethal defense measures). That seems a little bit of an unfair way to judge a character, that is, somewhat divorced from the world they live in, but fair enough, that’s just my opinion.

      I tend to judge a character more on their motivations, than the actions they are sometimes forced to take (though obviously methods do come into it.) So a Garrett that not only avoids lethality (as I believe is canon for the character) but also all physical interactions at all, so no blackjack, no violence of any kind, is a bigger jerk than Batman in AA, because while he pummels scores of people to an unconscious state, no doubt seriously injuring several them, such as broken bones etc, he does so to help save innocent people and make the world a better place, while Garrett is completely self-interested and stealing for no larger reason than to earn money. True, he eventually gets drawn into helping save the world, but it’s always extremely reluctantly, and usually he’s saving it because he lives IN the world. He also tends to rob from wealthy corrupt noblemen and not the poor, but I read this more as that’s because wealthy corrupt noblemen have way more money and stuff than the poor.

      Meanwhile, someone like Nathan Drake actually ranks slightly above Garrett, because his motivations are finding out knowledge, as well as gaining wealth, and the stuff he’s taking is usually long buried and forgotten treasure with sketchy claims to ownership (Garrett usually takes things that are in someone’s house that they bought with money they earned). I’ll excuse all the killing because he’s always DEFENDING HIMSELF.

      This leads me to the point about Drake’s character that I really don’t get from above. The one that he’s racist or xenophobic. I get Yahtzee’s point that the GAME might be, because yeah, a lot of the people you shoot aren’t white (not all though, the commando folks at the end are British, IIRC), and also the characters in cutscenes that are in positions of power tend to be white being in charge of non-whites. I don’t personally think the game is particularly racist for this, I didn’t particularly notice, but I can see why someone would think that and be justified in thinking that.

      But Nate? The fact that the world throws up scores of armed non-white men (and then some white men) trying to kill him certainly doesn’t make him anymore racist than Lara Croft, Gordon Freeman, Master Chief, Doomguy, or any other action game star ever. He is shooting back at people shooting him. The fact that they are mostly non-white isn’t his fault. It’s not like there are scenes where white guys shoot at you, and to pass them you are required to avoid returning fire and sneak around them. You just shoot back at everyone who is shooting you, indiscriminate to any reasons other than the fact that they are shooting at you. His reaction to getting shot also isn’t even remotely racist or condescending to the people shooting at him. It osscilates between being “oh shit, I’m being shot at I’m scared in a roguish way” and “oh dear, being shot at is really ticking me off, in a roguish way.” It is absolutely NEVER “alright, time to show these darkies their place.”

      So yeah, I can sort of understand the charge that the game and the designers are racist, but saying that Nathan Drake is because most of the people he kills (in self-defense, or at worst, depending on the player, pre-emptive self-defense) aren’t white just completely perplexes me.

    • Wulf says:

      Thanks stahlwerk, that was actually pretty interesting.

      I’m going to bow out of this discussion now though for the sake of the dignity of all involved. Whatever I say, regardless of how genuinely reasonable I try to be, I’m going to unwittingly bash someone’s Angry Internet Man button because I don’t feel the same amount of love and passion for something that they do.

      Really, I could try and explain to Hidden_7 how I do like action heroes, list the one’s I like, and try and make things more clear. I could try and explain myself until I’m blue in the face, but what’s the point? In the end it’s just going to make people angrier. And that’s really not my intent at all. I tend to use debate as a means to understanding, it’s not a game for me.

      I’m slowly coming to certain conclusions about gaming, and I’m beginning to wonder whether perhaps it’s not gaming that I find to be intolerable these days, but rather that I’ve been exposed to gamers, and I feel less comfortable with gaming as a whole because of that experience.

      There seems to be some kind of correlation between how I felt about gaming and how exposed I was to the gaming community at large. When I knew but a few gamers, I was happier to be one and more satisfied with being a gamer in general.

      A problem I’m slowly beginning to perceive, what with this and the thread I was posting a lot in yesterday is that gaming seems to have elevated itself in the eyes of the gaming subculture to a point where it’s a religion. And religions have zealots. I think that’s actually what I’ve been railing against, at least on a subconscious level, and only slowly am I becoming aware of it.

      I don’t get this vibe from the book or film fans that I know, but that might be because I’m not involved enough there to actually know a great many of them like I do with gaming. So that might be a blessing in disguise, or it might be that this is more prominent in the gaming subculture. And now that I’ve seen it it’s not something that I can just unsee.

      Being the introspective person that I am, I can’t help but wonder if I too have been responsible for some zealotry. I’m well aware that I don’t practise it on the same levels, I know this and need no one else to tell me, but now that I think about it and examine my past behaviour, there are areas where I’ve definitely fallen prey to this, and treated certain things like a sacrament, when they are undeserving of such unfaltering loyalty and following.

      Steam is one area where I’ve noticed this happening, and in the future I’ll have to keep tabs on that. I don’t think I’ve been entirely fair with everyone with my views on digital distribution, and it’d certainly be fair to say that I’m a Steam zealot. So this is a bit of an eye opener.

      I’m not the first to say this, either, just the first to put it in this way. In the thread yesterday a few similar points were brought up about how people are pro-progressive about gaming without really having a reason for it, and are overly derogatory and dismissive towards those who don’t agree with the collective, populist opinion.

      And that’s what I’m taking away from my most recent discussions with gamers, from multiple sources, that gaming today is a religion, a very fiercely guarded and overzealous religion, one where people are either preacher or pariah, and the game is the separation of preacher from pariah, winning over the latter and proving yourself to be the better and superior.

      And I’m starting to realise that perhaps if I had less contact with the gaming community, I’d actually be somewhat happier. I know that there are religious people who absolutely hate god-fearing bible bashers for much the same reason and avoid them like the plague.

      Gaming is my hobby, but not my religion.

      And this is the final conclusion I’ve drawn really from my time at RPS, something my mind has been slowly wrapping itself around until finally I arrived at this final, ultimate understanding. So the debates of the past few days have been elucidating and enlightening in that respect at least. And just as I’ve realised how I’ve fallen into that trap, other gamers might want to do a little introspection too.

      I think that gaming should be a fun thing, and yet people are taking that and making it a very unfun thing indeed. I spoke yesterday of that, of how I felt that gaming was becoming less imaginative and characterful, too serious, too… dogmatic. And here we have the community being incredibly serious and dogmatic, and this old wolf feeling like he’s just spraypainted over someone’s fetish.

      Indeed, each game is a religious fetish to its followers, and woe betide you should you dare sully it.

      So it’s with a heavy sigh that I bow out of this discussion, as I care to no longer discuss how different the action/adventure genre could be. For the genre, like the game, is a completely perfect thing and there can be no room for flaws.

      Would’ve been fun though if we could’ve just talked about that for a bit…

    • Hidden_7 says:

      @Wulf
      Oh my goodness, I certainly hope I didn’t give off the impression that I was somehow angry or overly defensive. That wasn’t my intent at all. And if I’ve misunderstood and mischaracterized your feelings towards the failings of certain games or genres, as it seems I have, I apologize for that too.

      I don’t tend to engage in things that make me angry, so if I’m actually posting responses to things it’s certainly not because I’m an Angry Internet Man. Unfortunately, on the internet as well as real life I have a terrible problem with modulating my tone so that it comes off as anything other than aggressive or confrontational. It’s not my intent, but I understand how people can read that into it.

      Really I engage because I see an interesting alternative viewpoint that I’d like to hear more from, or understand better. I found the sort of problems you had with certain action/adventure protagonists, and the sorts of criteria you held game heroes to interesting, and wanted to learn more. Of course, the way I did this was by oversimplifying your point and then calling it unfair, because, as mentioned earlier, I have a terrible problem with tone.

      So apologies for working towards shutting down discussion, rather than encouraging it. It certainly wasn’t my intent.

    • Mman says:

      @Wulf
      You are using “innocents” when the only games there isn’t a justified self-defense reason for why Lara kills is in TR3 and 5; those are the only games where she seems to kill people who are just doing their jobs, in every other game there’s a good reason why she has to defend herself (mostly between insane cultists and hired mercenaries). The animals are also attacking first (whether that makes sense or not), so it’s not like she can just ignore them. In Underworld you technically don’t have to kill anything (anything not supernatural anyway) as you have a tranquiliser, although in practice it doesn’t really knock out long enough to be too useful (and I’d like the non-lethal options expanded too… Actually I’d prefer very little or no combat at all).

      And almost everything Hidden_7 said.

    • Nick says:

      Or maybe you are just being overly sensetive in reaction reasonable counter discussion, Wulf?

    • Urael says:

      I think there’s too much thinking going on here. The comments re Lara’s brutality are just the kind of too-serious, armchair morality that people like to bandy about to make themselves sound like caring considerate people. Newsflash – I enjoy Tomb Raider games for reasons OTHER than Lara Croft. You could take her out and swap in a male avatar and I’d care not one jot. The *game* is the thing.

      It’s not Lara killing all those beasties – it’s me. It’s not Lara stealing all the treasure – that’s MY reward for figuring out the puzzles and shooting dead all those creatures/humans which, I might add, ALL attack me FIRST. At no time am I attacking and killing innocent people – all humans I kill are armed and intent on seeing me dead, as clearly expressed by their actions. They threaten my progress – they die; the game mechanic makes that a simple choice, almost no choice at all since not one of them chooses to let me pass peaceably and diplomacy is not what this game is about.

      All this talk of Lara being a role model are secondary to the nature of the game, designed as it is as a puzzle game solved by her agility and my timing, and interspersed with some action-y shoot-y elements for a change of pace – shooting things being the oldest and easiest reward mechanic there is in gaming. If you want to create role models/stereotypes from an avatar designed as a vessel to pour yourselves into then by all means, I just don’t see it as particularly productive to criticise Lara as a person when she’s merely a means to an end in an artificial environment designed purely for our pleasure.

  28. Eight Rooks says:

    You do remember Beyond Good & Evil was a flop, right, Wulf? I’d honestly be astonished if it could somehow be empirically proven the majority of people buying Half-Life 2 to see more Alyx do so for wholly non-sexual reasons. I hate to remind you the gaming industry is now just as commercialised as any other entertainment medium, but that won’t make it not true. Believable women might well sell ‘just fine’ – I would imagine that’s not good enough for Activision. They want their games to sell stupendous amounts, and implausible fantasy chicks relegated to supporting roles are a far easier way of doing that.

    • Ozzie says:

      If just want to the 14-25 years old male audience, then yes. But didn’t we find out a while out ago that other people play games, too? Maybe Activision should acknowledge that.

    • Wulf says:

      I won’t go over what Ozzie covered, as I feel he did that so well it would be disrespectful to.

      “I’d honestly be astonished if it could somehow be empirically proven the majority of people buying Half-Life 2 to see more Alyx do so for wholly non-sexual reasons.”

      That automatically counts out all gamers that are gay and female, then? Interesting. I know they aren’t the majority but still, they are a noteworthy consideration.

      Oh Gods, I love getting a chance to do this. As someone who has ties to the furry fandom, let me tell you that you and I can both enjoy a character without the character being a sex object.

      That was therapeutic, thank you. :)

    • qrter says:

      The only way to really prove whether games with female leads sell less or not, is by actually producing them. And not just one game, make as many games with female leads as male leads, over several years. When a game fails to sell, there are so many different elements that could be the cause, I’m amazed anyone would try to pass off the gender of the lead character as being that important.

  29. Robert Yang says:

    Madden article was a little disappointing… They dismiss the Visual Concepts / 2K Sports rival franchise with a sentence, when really, that was where all the innovation was going on. NFL2K* was, all-around, a much better series — online play, critically acclaimed, more balanced. It just had the terrible misfortune of being on the Dreamcast while Madden has a much wider install base.

  30. Robert Yang says:

    Also: my interview with Brendon Chung? What? It’s not an interview. I just played two of his old mods and talked about what I liked.

    Though if it’s an interview the RPS Directorate wants, it will be arranged.

  31. pupsikaso says:

    Thanks for the links, KG!

  32. Dave says:

    April Ryan, one of the best female leads in any game.

  33. westyfield says:

    Commander Shepard is clearly the best female protagonist in any game, and anyone claiming that Shepard is a man is wrong. Wrong, I tell you!

    • Markachy says:

      I guess that is the whole point, even though the female voice acting is infinitely better than the male version, its still strongly marketed as Shepard being male.

      The article uses Lara Croft as an example of a “strong female” lead. What a load of sh*t. She got popular because she was modelled on the fantasies of 20-year-old men, hotpants and boobs so big she wouldn’t have been able to jump, never mind tomb-raid.

      I personally nearly always play male when I have the choice, probably because its a bit easier to accept from a narrative point of view simply because I AM male. As for women not enjoying games, sh*te again. Sims? Mariokart? Mario in general?

      They just don’t enjoy the massive bulk of so-called AAA titles as they are men with guns blowing stuff up 99% of the time. Men tend to like cars and guns more than women. Most games are targetted along those lines. Hence most gamers are male. It ain’t rocket science. I seem to recall WoW at one point having a very significant female base. Probably because its not about grabbing the biggest gun possible and blowing sh*t up.

      Release some games aimed at women, they will start to play them more.

    • autogunner says:

      I agree, I think of shepard as a woman and always have, I felt it made mor sense for her to be female in a narrative sense, I hope the film has a female lead. It wont, but I can hope.

    • stahlwerk says:

      Release some games aimed at women, they will start to play them more.

      Please be aware that the following is me in full on devil’s advocate/ramble mode: How do you aim a game at women?

      Is it about genres?
      (Most of my female friends that “game” play farmville on facebook, one of them recently bought the Sims 3, two other are playing World of Warcraft, although one of them recently quit. I gifted her Torchlight shortly after her birthday on steam and she played that a while, yesterday I saw she has installed Alien Swarm to her Steamaccount… Does it have to be social? Can it not be FPS? If yes, why?)

      Is it about female main characters?
      (Actually, I’m afraid a female lead might sometimes be counter-productive, as to some women it might be “just one more image of how you’re supposed to be”, like those lingerie models they see while waiting for the bus etc. This might be influenced by the depiction of the character (“sexy” vs. cartoony vs. realistic vs. “bad girl” vs. “good girl”), and of course the self image of the player. Do those women see these characters as a rival (or maybe a friend?), instead of an agent of themselves? Is it easier for male players to adapt to “unfitting” characters? If yes, why? )

      Is it about “casual” gaming?
      (Casual games most of the time feature very simple main characters (maybe less rough edges to adapt around?) or even no characters at all. Is the Wii’s success more than Nintendo marketing genius, or is it really inherently “family friendly”? How many Wii-buying-decisions were actually made by Grandmothers?)

      (Actually I’m still a bit freaked out about the seemingly agent-less gameplay of farmville, yet there seems to be a farmer in the game. Is that you, the player, or just the guy we are helping out? Why doesn’t he tend to the crops and animals when we’re away?)

      Sorry about all these question marks, this is usually not my style, as you might already know. But this is a subject that’s always been close to my heart. I’d really like to see more female gamers, and games of all genres made more accessible to women…
      if not for all other benefits then just so that I could once get the feeling of preaching to the converted when ranting about how great Mass Effect was. :-D

    • Hidden_7 says:

      @autogunner Out of curiosity, why do you think Shepard works better as a female from a narrative perspective? I played through both Mass Effects with a male Shepard (in RPGs I always tend to go for males first, as I suppose I see it more as an avatar for me in the game world, rather than a separate character I’m controlling, so my perspective in the real world being male, that’s the perspective I choose in the game world) but I’m just now replaying ME1 as a female Shepard. I haven’t personally found either one to be more “fitting.” The game is pretty good at making whatever Shepard you are seem perfectly natural. So I’m just curious as to what elements to you really struck out as “female” about the character.

      I can understand the voice acting thing. Jennifer Hale seems to be better at conveying emotion than Mark Meer, I’d even give the former the edge in sounding naturalistic. Personally I like male Shepard, he’s got a sort of air of affected calmness / boringness that I can totally see turning off a lot of people, but really works for me with Shepard being a military person. Also Mark Meer is Canadian, and apparently his accent shows at some points as Shepard? I didn’t notice it at all, but being Canadian, I probably wouldn’t. However, I like to think that male Shepard is Canadian.

  34. sebmojo says:

    Can someone point me at Leigh Alexander’s best work? Because I find her writing clunky to the point being really hard to read. What’s her signature piece?

    • Lewis says:

      Leigh’s great for the consistency of her work, I’d say, rather than having one particular standout. Gamasutra’s style is what it is, though — if you’re looking for some of her more characterful work, I’d start with her blog, sexyvideogameland.com.

    • Lewis says:

      Er. sexyvideogameland.blogspot.com, rather.

  35. Eight Rooks says:

    I would imagine Activision are quite happy pretending gay gamers don’t exist, and obviously have no problem marginalising women. Lest anyone think I’m somehow defending them, I’m saying that I imagine they see the alternatives to what they’re doing as weird, and scary, and uncertain, and when they’ve had it proven over and over again they can stick to men shooting other men in the face and still rake in more than the collective GDP of some third world capitals, they’d prefer to do that. Business is not about taking risks so much as it is about making money, and I can readily picture executives seeing a practically guaranteed pile of money on one hand, and a strange, uncertain future on the other where they just don’t know what they can make that their established customer base and those, those ‘women’ will both be interested in.

    I’m not saying there are no alternatives, I’m saying no-one’s worked out how to make a strong female lead who’ll shift billions without being an easy sell and/or demeaning and that the industry leaders, for one reason or another, would simply rather not strain themselves when they’ve got such a market lead going already. There is a huge, huge demographic of over-sexed hetero males who would like to… well, have sex with every attractive fictional female presented to them, and Activision (and most of the competition) know how to make games they like. They don’t know how to make games the larger proportion of the rest of the population will enjoy, and Activision et al figure those people can wait a bit longer until they do, thank you very much. They’ve got piles of money to swim in in the meantime.

    Though obviously I’m part of the problem, rather than the solution, since I enjoy playing games where I murder hundreds if not thousands of enemies, and would hate to see them disappear, despite the fact they’re obviously holding back the evolution of the medium. Wulf, you’re obviously very passionate about gaming, and I envy you that in some ways (this isn’t a troll, I often wish I could simply not get worked up over this kind of thing), but I simply can’t think about it the way you do; the mere idea that anyone could say in all seriousness ‘and I think the reason why was because Nate saw every ethnic minority as an evil’ causes me actual mental distress.

  36. Ashes says:

    I seem to be heading that way as well, but I agree with the article completely in that gaming is an important enough part of my life that I’ll always manage to find time for it.

  37. Sonic Goo says:

    I’m quite partial to Cate Archer myself. The ubermacho types you see in Unreal 3 or Starcraft 2 are really starting to annoy me.

  38. Lukasz says:

    I must say I found the article about Batman learning new moves very stupid.

    I understand the point they were trying to make but they did pick up a wrong game to do it.
    When playing the game I had never felt that Batman is learning new moves. As the situation escalated so did performance of Mr. Wayne. He could do crazy shit from the very beginning but there was no point for him to do as situation never was so dire that he had to use for example three batarangs instead of one. As the game progressed, the situation got more dangerous, forcing Batsy to put more effort in beating the liquid poo from the criminal elements of city of Gotham.

    Therefore: Stupid article.

  39. Bahumat says:

    Usually there’s plenty pleasing me, especially as pertains to most of the RPS staff writings, but blargh. Sorry, but at least for my tastes, I think that thing is pretty much the worst thing I’ve ever read that bore Quinns name upon it.

  40. Scott says:

    “Limbo really is getting a lot of yabber for what is basically a monochrome Rick Dangerous with a portentous soundtrack.”

    All is forgiven, Mr Gillen.

Comment on this story

XHTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>