Archive for the ‘Gaming’ Category

I finished up playing Beyond Two Souls this weekend and while I was disappointed by how quickly the gameplay slipped by I was elated to play a game with such a solid story and a strong, immersive gaming experience.

I found it sucked me in quickly and kept my focus. I found myself caring about my decisions and the outcomes and wondering how things might have worked differently if I’d made other choices. I cared not just about the main character, but the interactions with the secondary characters as well.

Did I mention the main character happens to be female? I didn’t start with that because it actually doesn’t really matter to the storyline. She could have been male. None of the actions or story sequences focussed on her being raped or having a child killed or any of the other myriad tropes used in many gameplay situations to justify the use of a female character. The main character in this game could have been male but I’m not entirely sure people would have bought the emotional interactions and vulnerability that were brought to the role here – society doesn’t really seem to support those types of story lines for men unfortunately.

Don’t get me wrong – she was kick ass, defending herself and others in fights and the real world. She was in no way a victim in this story and that is probably why I enjoyed it so much. She was a woman I could relate to from childhood to adult.

Thank you David Cage for writing such a strong, beautiful and complex character. Thank you Quantic Dream for making the experience so seamless. And thank you Ellen Page for breathing life into her and giving a performance that would have been impressive for any movie, let alone a video game.

They [Don’t] Know Us So Well

Posted: June 17, 2013 in Gaming, Gender Bias
Tags: ,

I stumbled across this article last week:

5 Things Every Game Company Gets Wrong About Gamers

I have to say, I think they did a fantastic job of pointing out the things about the newest games and gamesystems that piss me off the most.  The fact that Gaming has forgotten about why it exists – the Gamers.  Slick, flashy cinematics are edging out actual gameplay within these new titles giving us less and less to do.  Apparently they think that gamers have gotten resistant to having to move their digits to actually cause things to occur on screen?

I think part of the reason it struck such a note with me was that in spite of the media buzz around the new Tomb Raider and it’s leanings towards  rape as motivator , I wanted to play the game.  I was in fact excited to play the game.  And then I got it home, popped it in and watched through the endless opening cinematic.  Eventually, cinematic ends and I think “great, lets get playing”.  Only, not.  you do a little moving, a little button pressing and I think “okay, we’re in the tutorial”.  Then I’m back in a cinematic but I’m being asked to wiggle the controller at a specific time.  Or press the button right…now! Or I have to sit through it again and again.  My guy nailed it on the head – it felt exactly like Dragon’s Lair.  Shiny, glossy and completely controlled.  As is pointed out in the article at the top of my post, not everyone enjoys watching a cinematic.  Some folks take that time to grab a glass of water, check their email or what have you.  Only in Tomb Raider, if I chose the wrong time to do that, I end up starting the damned cinematic all over again.  And if I’m 3/4 of the way through one of these transitional sequences and press a button slightly too late – back I go to the beginning.  This doesn’t feel challenging to me, it feels suffocating.  It’s game play for dummies.  I want a certain amount of challenge.  I want to feel I’ve earned the abilities my character has in game.  But I don’t want to be pressured in to this sort of over-stressed situation where a microsecond mistiming means the tedium of attempting a thing over and over.

I won’t go into the entire article point by point, though I do think they all hit home with me in a similar fashion.  But it’s definitely worth a read.

Damsels In Distress

Posted: May 29, 2013 in Gaming
Tags: ,

I stumbled across this video in a post on The Mary Sue today and decided I’d give it a look. The intro they gave her there on her first video very accurately sums up my feelings about who she is, what she presents and my agreement with it:

“Anita Sarkeesian runs a blog called Feminist Frequency and a long running, fascinating webseries of the same name where she examines the ways in which media and most often modern popular culture subtly and not-so-subtly support and perpetuate misogynistic ideas. I love her videos not because I necessarily agree with everything she’s ever said ever (you know, because we are not a single consciousness) but because when I do disagree with her, her detailed approach prompts me to calmly, privately examine why.”

Her video posts are thought provoking and make me stop and take a look at what is considered to be “normal”. This post in particular made me stop, step back and consider some of what is taken for granted in the video game industry in how so many of the stories are told.

Photo credit: whatculture.com

I’ve been thoroughly enjoying my belated discovery of the ME trilogy. The Bioware team did an amazing job in carrying through storyline continuity from ME to ME2 with these wonderful little gems of private messages and characters you bump into throughout the game. I’m only half way through ME2 at this point, but I understand from fellow gamer friends that they continue this on through the next game as well.

So I was really excited this morning when I tripped across this:
http://www.examiner.com/article/mass-effect-4-development-team-details-revealed

I hadn’t realized they were working on a 4th edition to the ongoing saga, but I’m happy to hear that they aren’t abandoning the universe that they’ve created even if Shepard may be left behind as they leapfrog forward in time. Sequels are dangerous things – they can be glorious if they succeed or bring down complete geek wrath when they fail. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see which way this one falls.