Review: Chocobo's Dungeon (Wii)

July 27, 2012 Reviews, Video Game Reviews Comments (0) 14

I recently picked up a Wii during a Gamestop sale (it was only $60, so I figured I might as well). Finding games to play on it for outside Mario, Zelda, and Metroid have been difficult, so I was pleasantly surprised when I saw Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo’s Dungeon sitting on a shelf at the store.ImageI’ve been a Final Fantasy Fan for as long as I have been playing games, and I figured Chocobo’s Dungeon couldn’t be any worse than Final Fantasy X-2 (which has a a special, awful place in my heart).

Gameplay: The first thing I noticed on the cover, is this game is intended for players ages 7 and up, which set up my expectations going into the game. I wasn’t going in to this experience looking for a fight against a boss like Ruby Weapon. Players control Chocobo, a small yellow chocobo,  and guide him through dungeons to collect memories. For each step Chocobo takes in a dungeon, an enemy is allowed to take another step. This does necessitate careful planning if you venture into an area with multiple enemies, as well as an awareness of the range of Chocobo’s attacks depending on what class he is currently employing. There are eight classes that can be unlocked throughout the game (natural, knight, white-mage, black-mage, dancer, dragoon, dark knight, scholar, thief, ninja) which should be fairly familiar to anyone who has played a Final Fantasy game in the past. Some classes are unlocked through natural progression of the story, and others must be unlocked through special missions and hidden quests.Image You can only level each class up to level 8, so there is no need to spend hours level-grinding in the game,  unless you are a completionist. That said, leveling up Chocobo’s classes is fairly easy, which is facilitated by being able to re-play dungeons that Chocobo has conquered in the past. Most of the dungeons are straightforward, Chocobo needs to navigate through each level of the dungeon until he reaches the bottom level. As the difficulty of the dungeon’s increase, so do the number of levels within each dungeon. Early dungeons are only five levels deep, while the final dungeon of the game is forty levels. In addition to typical dungeons, there are special dungeons. These side dungeons have special rules, for instance in one Chocobo only has 1 hp, and require more strategy and cunning to play through. Their addition to the game adds a way to take a fun break from the main dungeons in order to build your character and allow him access to new items and classes.  Overall, the gameplay is what I would call “finaly fantasy light”. There are random encounters, the combat is turned-based in its own way, but the level of difficulty is low, and the dungeons are bounded, finite, and easy to leave if a player is feeling overwhelmed. I thoroughly enjoyed this low-stress variety of Final Fantasy gameplay, and I had fun seeing Chocobo dressed up in the different classes. The game should also only take up 15-25 hours of time to finish the main storyline, so it doesn’t require a large chunk of time to enjoy. Overall the class, combat, and dungeon system is engaging, while not as frustrating as some Final Fantasy games can be.

Story: The story of Chocobo’s Dungeons centers on Chocobo and a Cid character as they search for Timeless Power. After finding the artifact, Chocobo and Cid are magically transported to the town of Lostime within the isle of Memoria. All of the town’s inhabitants are slowly losing their memories each time the town’s bell, the Bell of Oblivion rings. Chocobo is not affected by the bell,  and with the help of Shrima, a young white mage, and a magical infant from the sky, Rafaello, is able to enter people’s minds (in the form of dungeons) and unlock precious memories for each of them.Image

As more and more memories are unlocked, Chocobo begins to uncover the mystery of Memoria, and slowly learn of Rafaello’s origins. This ultimately leads to a calamity that Chocobo must face to save his friends and the townspeople. The story brings a solid narrative to the game, and unlocking new memories is made more enjoyable by the fact that you are learning new things about some loveable characters. The allure of unlocking more memories is an incentive for playing the mini-dungeons, which pay off in some interesting side stories. Again, this game is made for a younger audience than most Final Fantasy games, it does lack sweeping, vast, and interconnected story lines like previous  Final Fantasy games. While simplistic and at times predictable, the story is cohesive and melds well with the gameplay. My only complaint is that the player is forced to view the cut scenes when Chocobo unlocks a memory. While most are engaging, there are times when the memories were unexciting or repetitive.

Gender/Race/Sexuality: While this game does continue to position women as white mages, (you can look at an explanation of the trope here) the game is inclusive of both genders on an equal footing, with female characters represented as much or moreso than male characters. Race is a separate problem, and one that Square Enix has traditionally not dealt with well. Part of the problem is that Japan is composed of a homogenous population, and Japanese gaming companies often lack an understanding of race relations in other countries. While they have attempted to address this with characters like Barrett from FFVII and Sazh from FFXIII, Square Enix clearly still doesn’t understand quite how to address this issue, and tends to employ all-white casts of characters in many of its Final Fantasy games. Sexuality is not discussed within Chocobo’s dungeons, which makes sense as it is targeted towards younger audiences, but the relationships presented in the game are heterosexual. This is no different than any other Final Fantasy game currently in existence, unless you believe that Cloud and Barrett should belong together. Overall, while the game is problematic in its adherence to heterosexual norms and the lack of diverse races, the gender portrayals of the game seem positive, as many of the women Chocobo encounters are both empowered and non-sexualized.

To Play or Not to Play: I would recommend this to anyone that owns a Wii. Although the game will predominantly attract players that enjoy JRPG’s the gameplay and story are accessible enough to invite a wider variety of players. Also, the game is so old at this point that it is fairly cheap (10$) to pick up a used copy. So if you haven’t played Chocobo’s Dungeon yet, GO. PLAY. NOW.

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An Ipod/Ipad Controller?

July 26, 2012 Articles, Video Games Comments (0) 13

So, Thursday’s are usually the day I’ve set aside for posting pictures and other nonsense. Instead of cute nonsense, today here are some pictures from the patent Apple has filed for a dual-shock controller.

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and

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Looks nifty (and very familiar). For more information/speculation you can check out this article from Kotaku and this article from GameRevolution. Do you think this means we’re going to see an Apple gaming system, or are gaming apps just going to get more intense?

 

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Felicia Day and Anita Sarkeesian: Two Women Enter, Both Win!

July 25, 2012 Articles, Celebrity Spotlight Comments (2) 10

So today on “Would You Rather” I will be looking at two women who have made some large contributions to the geek world in different ways. I realize that my past few posts have been a smidgen on the serious side, so today I’m letting my inner fan-girl out and I’m look at two of my female role-models/idols: Felicia Day (left) and Anita Sarkeesian (right).

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Naturally, one of your first concerns is probably: who would win in a fight? This is a difficult question to answer because both Felcia Day and Anita Sarkeesian have proven themselves to be valiant warriors against hordes of internet trolls. To determine their overall effectiveness in battle, let’s briefly look at various techniques employed in their most recent battles.

Felicia Day, actress, writer, and one of the masterminds behind Geek and Sundry (“an internet community centered around web videos dealing with comics, games, books, and hobbies) has recently been under attack by ex-Destructoid writer Ryan Perez, and by anonymous internet trolls over the music video “Gamer Girl and Country Boy“. In the case of the YouTube video, most of the negative comments have currently been deleted by mods, or down-voted so many times they aren’t displayed. However, if you look hard enough you can find comments like this, which perhaps gives you a general idea of what Felicia was up against:

back to Felecia, sometimes you can turn down a job, even for a friend.

no good came from this.

it was so bad, and your make-up is terrible.

The yellow shit on your eyes especially made you look like a ghoul, and you totally ruined those tetris pants.

I saw the girl in the ad for those i thought the pants looked pretty hot, but you taught me that the pants really look retarded,and that the other girl was just hot.

whoever did hair,make-up,and wardrobe on this video deserves stomach cancer.

Ah, the good old stomach cancer comments. Other comments were more in this vein:

Felecia can’t even sing, she cant really do much of anything…but i respect the way she puts on the whole geek act to corner the female nerd market and also get paid selling autographs and shit to losers at game and comic cons… everyone needs to get paid and her plan has worked nicely.

Felicia’s way of handling it? Introspective maturity, and letting mods be mods. In her blog post in response to the flaming of her video (the comments I quoted are some of the only negative ones still up, it appears the worst of these were quickly struck down), Felicia Day thanks her fans for sticking up for her, and carefully considers why she feels like the video sparked controversy:

Clearly a segment of guys on the internet HATE “Gamer Girls”. This is the part I don’t understand, why they are so frikkin emotional about it. They hate on this type of girl who “pretends” to game for attention. This archetype they can somehow factually attribute to a few women (then paint the whole gender with the brush) that exploit them for attention, cheapens their hobby with “casualism”…who knows. The irony here is that the “Hot Gamer Girl” is there because….guys click on them/watch them more than non-hot girls. So yeah, talk about creating their own problem, lol.

She calmly addresses the problem, tries to legitimately understand why it happened, and moves on, head held high, relatively unscathed from a horde of negativity. Unfortunately, anonymous trolls are not the only ones that have recently attacked Day for (in their eyes) being a “glorified booth babe.” Ryan Perez, formally of Destructoid recently posted on twitter at Felicia Day:

@feliciaday, Question: Do you matter at all? Do you even provide anything useful to gaming besides “personality”?

This article from Jezebel covers most of the controversy. Clearly, Perez is unfamiliar with the bulk of Day’s work, which has contributed both to gaming culture in the from of The Guild but also to actual video game content like the “Mark of the Assassin” DLC for Dragon Age II. So what was Day’s response to this outrage? A gracious acceptance of an apology after her fans (and BFF Whil Wheaton) defended her and Perez was fired. Felicia Day’s battle strategy could be best described as turning the other cheek, and being the better (wo)man. Unless you say she’s not a gamer. Watch this amazing video for Whil Wheaton’s advice on how to respond to trolls, and Felicia Day’s defense of herself as gamer:

So, clearly Felicia qualifies as a troll vanquisher, even though she typically employs non-violent means. Anita Sarkeesian., though still nonviolent, can best be understood as constant crusader against trolls, in the media and on the internet. Sarkeesian’s series of videos “Tropes vs. Women” look at various tropes that many popular culture texts share and perpetuate. These well-researched videos have helped illuminate misogyny in popular culture for many people. The videos are frequently used in classrooms across the country to introduce good media criticism to beginners in the field.

While the “Tropes vs. Women” series has had the occasional troll comment, this did not prepare Sarkeesian for the response that she was greeted with when she announced a new project “Tropes vs. Women in Video Games. Here’s the intro video to the series:

Hardly the most offensive video out on the internet, yet this short video inspired attacks on her Kickstarter, attacks on the Feminist Frequency website,  and an online game where players got to beat up Anita Sarkeesian. Not exactly a rational response to a woman that j wants to point out a few stereotype in gaming. Sarkeesian’s response has been to continue the project, with the help of over $160,000 that her Kickstarter raised. With the help of fans and other concerned people, Sarkeesian’s videos will come out in the near future with a bonus set on trolls on the internet. So not only did the trolls fail to take down her Kickstarter, Website, and Videos, they only fueled Sarkeesian to make more videos, this time (unlike the initial proposed project) specifically to look at trolls. Considering the success of Sarkeesian’s previous videos, I honestly can’t wait to see her counter-assault (video) on troll culture.

So, which of these women would win in a fight? For once I’m going to say it doesn’t matter.  In culture women are often pitted each other in the whole ‘divide and conquer’ tactic. I can’t imagine a world where either of these women would fight each other, and I’d much rather celebrate both of their careers and troll-handling skills. I might be tempted to fight Felicia Day for her awesome yellow chair, or Anita Sarkeesian for her successful website and video series, but ultimately I’d rather hold them up as role-models to emulate as I begin my entrance into cyberspace.

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Rage Quit: Experiencing Rage in Multiplayer Games

July 24, 2012 Articles, Video Games Comments (2) 10

This morning I read this article by simpleek called “You Aren’t a Gamer if You Haven’t experienced Gamer Rage”. Hopefully those of you reading this clearly understand what gamer rage means. It’s that moment when both you and a boss are one hit away from health, and you get hit first. The moment when you’re exploring the countryside of an open-world game and suddenly run into a monster/creature/villain designed to keep you from moving past a certain point, one that instantly KO’s you or your party AND YOU HAVEN’T SAVED THE GAME IN HOURS. These moments are often accompanied by faces like this:

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And in general loud yelling: I personally curse like a sailor. Sometimes these feelings happen when you just can’t seem to beat a certain level/boss/area. In Dragon Age: Origins the Brood Mother wiped out my party time and time again before I finally flipped the power switch out of anger.

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Being beaten over and over again by a creature this hideous looking in the bowels of dwarven tunnels was a harrowing experience for me, and I will admit to having at least one unfinished game stuck right before this boss level.

Rage is a natural emotion, and one very common to any experience involving goals and competition. Aggression can be productive and fuel us to finally beat the M*&($#F*#(*$# boss, or it can be destructive and lead us to smash a copy of Demon Souls in half because you just lost all your souls for THE LAST D*&%# TIME!

In multiplayer games this rage can surface, like in all games, but with the added bonus that you can direct it at real live people which in many cases feels a lot more satisfying. However, since multiplayer games foster aggression between team members and opponents, there can be consequences (not necessarily enough in my opinion) to expressing rage in what I would term, unproductive ways.

For my example here I’d like to look at the game, League of Legends, and some experiences I’ve had. For those of you unfamiliar with League of Legends, it is an RTS game featuring 5 v. 5 or 3 v 3 team battles as your team struggles to destroy enemy turrets and ultimately, the enemy nexus. There is strategy involved, and playing with people that don’t understand the strategy can be frustrating. Sometimes your character dies, and it really isn’t your fault and you often want to yell and scream like this player:
This does lead to a good deal of in-game harassment, which I find completely unproblematic when players  target a person for lack of skill, class/weapon choices, or even sometimes to try to make themselves feel better about how badly they are doing. I think the largest problem is that this anonymity can foster bigotry and un-called for identity-slurs. FOr example, even though League of Legends does not feature a VOIP program for players to talk to each other, doesn’t mean that you won’t encounter people calling others “a stupid nigger” or a “dumb little cunt”. Language which is clearly offensive to identity based groups.
Cursing, raging, and even rage quitting are perfectly understandable reactions to  high-stress situations in team games, my dog frequently thinks that I am having seizures as I play games like League of Legends of TF2 because I am shaking my fists and screaming so loudly as the timer counts down my re-spawn time.
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(Me attempting to look angry for you…probably defeated by the Skylanders poster in the background)
I just don’t think a valid response should be to attack people for things they identities they can’t change, and are also proud of. Skills – totally critique-able. Sometimes noobs need people to tell them exactly what they are doing wrong. Commenting on a player’s race/sex/sexual orientation? Lay off.
(To read more on the subject visit: http://gamersagainstbigotry.org/)

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Leading Lady Links: Sourcecode is Sexist.

July 23, 2012 Leading Lady Links Comments (5) 13

Well, this has been an interesting week in gaming news. Most of us are still reeling and trying to wade through all the news that SDCC brought to us, and also trying to move on and find new stories.

The first of these new stories revolves around a fun string of code found in Microsoft. As the BBC informs us:

“The hexadecimal string 0xB16B00B5 was discovered lurking in code that helps a Microsoft program work with Linux open source software.”

So basically, some programmers thought it would be funny to add a string that reads “big boobs” into a program for kicks and giggles. Yes its juvenile, but as James Gaffar points out in a follow up article, it also points to larger problems for women with the coding community

At the most basic level it’s just straightforward childish humour, and the use of vaguely-English strings in magic hex constants is hardly uncommon. But it’s also specifically male childish humour. Puerile sniggering at breasts contributes to the continuing impression that software development is a boys club where girls aren’t welcome.

It basically reminds me of being back in high school taking AP Java or any math class that required a more high-tech calculator. Boys would spend a good chunk of their time finding ways to draw and spell boobs on their techno toys. This also demonstrates that sexism runs all the way back to the level of coding. While many of us are critical of representations of women in video games and computer games, the sexism runs deeper than racy images of woman. The problem runs all the way back to the code, and a coding community that thinks it’s cute to insert “boobies” into programs whenever possible. If that isn’t disturbing enough, this web page gives a review of some common coding jargon, scroll down to number 29.

Hooker Code: Code that is problematic and causes application instability (application “goes down” often). “Did the site go down again? Yeah, Jim must still have some hooker code in there.”

While these stories may seem silly they do point to larger problems for women in the technological community, a community which is still primarily male-dominated.

2.) In much better news, many gamers are beginning to realize the sexism, racism, homophobia, etc. that composes a good chunk of the gaming community. Sam Killerman has decided to do something about this in the form of his site “Gamers Against Bigotry“.  The site features a pledge against identity-based slurs for gamers to sign, currently over 1500 people have signed. The Mary Sue‘s Becky Chambers interviewed Killerman, who further explain the goals of the project.

Getting the word out about the pledge to all gamers, and giving them a chance to decide whether or not they will sign, is crucial in understanding exactly where the community, as a whole, stands on this stuff (something we don’t truly have any idea of at the moment). If we can advertise the pledge through a variety of channels, we can increase the odds of that opportunity cropping up.

We also want to work with game developers to improve the current systems that prevent bigoted hate speech and promote a stronger gamer community. While working on this, we want to create outlets for GAB pledgees to form our own gaming community by making it easier to connect and play with other people who care enough about others to not degrade their identities.

Unfortunately, as was the case with Anita Sarkeesian’s kickstarter the trolls of the internet appeared to hack the site, while there have been over 1500 people that have pledge against bigotry, the current counter only reads 15. You can read about the hacking here but fair warning, the post contains images of the way the website was hacked and they are graphic, violent, and made me want to throw up more than a little. To help the site fight against hackers, you can donate to their indiegogo fund.

3.) (Trigger Warning: Rape) Continuing with hacker news, buzzfeed covers the story ( of 4chan trolls hacking the site feminism.org As buzzfeed notes

So it’s basically another example of subpar misogynistic rape-based humor to add to this summer’s archives. At least it’s on a site no one’s looked at in a decade anyway — weak humor and weak hacking.

How sad is it that we need to have a category of “subpar misogynistic rape-based humor” to put multiple stories from this summer in? While the site was not in working order, this is yet another clear attack on women by some extremely misogynistic men from 4chan. This summer has been abuzz with troll attacks, which on the one hand have helped illuminate the extent that misogyny is still alive and well on the internet, but have also been truly disturbing in their frequency and tactics.

4.) Some of you may have noticed ComicCon happenings if you been present on the internet recently. Ms. Magazine blogger Natalie Wilson has written a great article called ‘Women Attend Comic Con But Don’t Run the Show” As Wilson points out, over 40% of the attendants of Comic Con were women, but this was not reflected in the Comic Con program.

Instead, the majority of programming consisted of panels where the ratio was (at best) one woman for every five men. Though it’s true there are more strong women’s roles than before in television, film, games, comics and graphic novels (as discussed here), there is no equivalent growth in the number of women writing, producing and directing that media–let alone equivalent numbers of men and women on the Comic-Con panels.

There were some women on panels, and you should read the article to hear what the women who did get to speak at Comic Con thought were problems in the community.

5.) For those of you interested in female representation in video games (like I clearly am) the Gamelogical Society over at the AV Club wrote an article this week called “Something Other than a man: 15 games that pass the Bechdel test“. For those unfamiliar with the Bechdel test, the requirements to pass it are that two women must have a conversation about something other than a man. It is sad how few movies and video games pass this test, although passing or failing the test does not necessarily always indicate how well a game or movie represents women.

6.) For those of you who haven’t seen this video of Ellen Page being interviewed about her work on Beyond: Two Souls, you should definitely watch it now:

Ellen Page provides some interesting insight in what it was like to play a video game character and be involved in the project. Also, I just happen to think Ellen Page is a very interesting actress who tends to thwart and complicate gender roles norms with the movies she has been involved in (Hard Candy anyone?).

That is it for the weekly round-up this week! If there are any stories you think I’ve missed, feel free to share them in the comments, and come back next week 🙂

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Would You Rather: Samus Aran or Lara Croft

July 18, 2012 Articles, Video Games Comments (0) 10

Today I’ll be looking at two of the penultimate (really rad) female video game characters and pitting them against each other. If somehow you have been stuck under a rock for the past twenty years, let me introduce you:

Samus Aran from the Metroid series (by transfuse)

and Lara Croft from the Tomb Raider series:

Both characters clearly powerful, Samus has a kick-ass suit of armor while Lara gets not one, but TWO guns, and both clearly beautiful by Western beauty standards. So today, we’ll look at a few different criteria and determine who is the more desirable characters (not like that you perv!).

Who Would Win in a Fight?

Let’s be honest, this is really a no-contest. While Lara is agile and dual wielding, Samus has an entire arsenal at her disposal in the form of her Arm Cannon. With the arm cannon, Samus can choose between multiple beam systems (power beam, wave beam, ice beam, plasma beam, phason beam) and missiles, which can be combined in charge combos. Plus, Samus can enter into a power ball mode (reminiscent of armadillos) with its own set of missiles.  With these weapons, Samus is tasked with destroying space pirates a formidable organization attempting to harness the power of metroids. In comparison, Lara’s weapons (generally two pistols) can’t measure up, and while velociraptors, mercenaries, animals and other treasures hunters pose a decent challenge to Lara, a Metroid Prime could eat all of them in a single gulp. To sum up: there is absolutely no way that Lara’s dual pistols could put a dent in Samus’ armor, let alone match Samus’ arm cannon in terms of sheer firepower. In terms of fighting, Samus could blow Lara into so many pieces, no treasure hunter, no matter the skill, would ever be able to find her.

Who has the best personality?

This question is at first difficult to answer mainly due to the fact that Samus and Lara seem very similar at first. Both Lara and Samus are independent women who are generally assertive in accomplishing their goals. Of the two Lara’s history has been more developed and explored, in Tomb Raider: Underworld we learn about Lara’s mommy issues (we already knew she had daddy issues) and now with the upcoming Tomb Raider set to release in 2013, we get to learn just how Lara became the woman that adolescent males came to love (the answer according to executive producer Ron Rosenberg: attempted rape). Here’s the trailer if you want to delve into the controversy of the scene:

However, as one blogger points out:

This is a woman who we first met traipsing around freezing caves in naught but a pair of short-shorts and a low-cut top. Who has killed hundreds, possibly thousands of men, in her quest for Old Lost Shit. Who thinks shooting one gun at a time is simply not killy enough. A woman who takes an UZI with her on a tourist trip to the Great Wall of China and who doesn’t think twice about filling up every endangered species she meets along the way with hot metal. This, Lara-lovers, is a woman who made the dinosaurs extinct for a second time. She is a bona fide, pathological maniac.

So how does Samus Aran compare to that level of crazy? Well, considering she is silent for most of her escapades…which could be due to the fact that she began life in the 2-d world of the Nintendo Entertainment System…this is difficult to assess. Like Lara, Samus has killed hundreds of thousands of creatures in her employment as a bounty hunter. While her fight against the Space Pirates seems to place here in the morally “right” category, who knows how many other times that she has been contracted to kill “innocent’ creatures. Samus could potentially be just as maniacal as Lara in that regard.

Luckily for us (depending on how you define ‘lucky’) Metroid: Other M the most recent game featuring Samus, provides deep insights into the character of Samus Aran: she’s baby crazy. Don’t believe me? Check out the  opening cutscene:

How many times can we mention the word ‘baby’ in one game? Seriously?? That the entire game of Metroid: Other M is predicated on a distress call coded as “baby” we can definitively put Samus into the baby crazy category (and potentially start to wonder and hope that this entire adventure is just happening in her mind).

So who is crazier in this scenario, the woman who goes on killing rampages for artifacts or the baby crazy bounty hunter? I’m going to have to hand it to Samus for this one, in my opinion most of Lara’s enemies have it coming.

Who is Most Objectified?

For our last, tie-breaker category I will briefly discuss which of these characters is most objectified. For those of you who don’t know, to objectify means simply to present something as an object. When using the term in relation to women, to objectify means to turn a human being into an object available for male consumption. The creators of Lara and Samus are both guilty of this. For those of you who remember the earliest version of Lara, her bust size was originally supposed to be much smaller but supposedly creator Toby Gard increased her breasts 150% instead of 15% and the entire developing team was perfectly happy with that. Go figImage that a male development team would be perfectly happy with boobs increased 150% in size. This “creation myth” (the myth part is that it was possibly not an accident) leaves Lara pretty firmly in object territory. None of her original development team thought ‘Oh, maybe we should take care to make Lara a more realistic, fully developed (in terms of body AND mind) and instead left her with boobs so big that it would be physically impossible for her to exist in the real world due to a thing called gravity. However, in past games Lara’s breasts have seen a reduction in size, and there have been attempts made to flesh out her back story and develop her more as a character (having her repeatedly assaulted by men helps this somehow).

Samus on the other hand was anything but sexy in her first appearance. In 1986 she first appeared in pixels (totally not sexy) AND she was completely covered by a suit of armor. In fact, no one knew that Samus was a woman until the very end of  Metroid, the reveal startled many a player. Since then, however, we have gotten to see Samus in a much sexier way.

In most cut scenes Samus is wearing skin-tight clothing and revealed to be a sexy blonde. Can we get anymore stereotypical here? In general, you get to see this a lot more often in Metroid: Other M than in other Metroid games, but once you’ve seen Samus like this, it’s hard to look at her the same way again, even if she is in her power suit.

So which one is most objectified? Clearly they both are, and both consistently make the top 10 in lists about hot game characters, but in this contest I’m going to have to go with Samus. While Lara may be all boobs, Samus has that + the blonde aspect. Blondes are people too (I am blonde) but the stereotypes are a stigma that gives Samus clear victory.

Who would YOU rather be?

This leaves Samus in the lead of my dubious comparison, although perhaps winning the “Most Objectified’ category should count as a negative point. Ultimately, I would rather be Samus. Her suit is amazing, she’s over 6 feet tall (one of my unobtainable life goals) and she owns her own spaceship. I can deal with baby crazy and objectified if I get to have my own spaceship. Although, I might reconsider if the new Lara Croft game featured Lara like this:

(picture of Meagan Marie. Photo by Victor Gamez)

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Leading Lady Links: Women and Videogames

July 17, 2012 Leading Lady Links Comments (0) 11

So, if you read my post from yesterday then you know that on Mondays I am going to start doing a weekly roundup of articles about women and gaming from the previous week. Considering the HUGE amount of articles/reviews/news/pictures that Comic Con has generated this past week, instead of doing a roundup (which would be too massive to do) today I am going to do an overviews of exactly how I see women and gaming.

Women in Gaming

If you read my first introduction post then you might remember that I discovered the answer to what the internet is for (porn). As it turns out, videogames have quite a lot in common with the internet: both contain a ridiculous amount of skimpily clad women! A recent article by Brand Sheffield of Gamasutra sums it up:

I won’t pretend to be above biology: I like boobs and butts as much as the next hot-blooded heterosexual male. They’re just about the most aesthetically pleasing configurations of fat and muscle you can find on a person, and I am far from being immune to their charms. But women are a lot more than boobs and butts. That may seem obvious, but the game industry and its fans are demonstrating their ignorance of that fact time and time again

So what are these instances where women are reduced down to t&a? Well one of the first recent examples that comes to mind is The Hitman: Absolution trailer, and the game Lollipop Chainsaw

Let me tell you, those assassins DEFINITELY needed to be super-sexy women dressed-up as nuns. If I were a female assassin that would clearly be the way I would dress.

Now, cheerleaders are people too…but I’m not quite sure this game presents these girls as people. Like the sexy nuns, they seem to be something sexy to look at onscreen while going about the humdrum business of killing things. There are many other examples of this in the gaming world (Bayonetta anyone?) Unfortunately, this is not a problem with just these two games. There seem to be a multitude of ridiculous looking women of impossible proportions throughout the world of gaming. The fact that one blogger made a list of ‘The 10 Most Ridiculous Undergarments Worn by Women in Videogames” shows the extent of the problem: too much focus on programming undergarments and not enough focus on developing the women as characters

Of course, at this point you may be thinking “but there are strong women too!” I supposed it depends on your definition of strong and woman. For instance many people hold Lara Croft to be the symbol of strong women in video games. Ah wishful thinking….Looking below the surface of these “tough” characters demonstrates that their authority is undermined in sometime subtle, sometimes blatant ways to make the character more appealing to a male audience. Lara Croft is visually stunning, making her visually accessible to gamers even while she is in some aspects a powerful character. These character depictions make female video game characters (with a potential few exceptions) available for male consumption: they are there for players to undress figuratively and literally (Many mods have been made to various video games to allow for less apparel to be worn by the female characters).

The consequences of this trend are felt by women in gaming, who are often expected to be as available for consumption as in-game characters and as vapid.  For example, Katie Williams a Kotaku writer recently wrote of her experiences at E3 where a male PR person refused to let her play the demo because he didn’t think she knew how. Another problem with conferences is the prolific use of booth babes, attractive scantily clad women, to sell products. This reinforces the image that women are just meant to look pretty, not actually play games.

One response to Katie Williams piece has unfortunately been for internet trolls to devote time to finding pictures of her and explicitly describing how they’d like to have sex with her. Why?

Nobody does this to men in the industry. Nobody says Cliff Bleszinski is wearing such a tight shirt today, and oooh I’d love to rub my hands all over him. At least not to the point where he’s uncomfortable at tradeshows. Likewise nobody sexualizes male characters. Some may argue that Kratos represents an unrealistic image of a male, but there aren’t massive forum threads dedicated to whether and how people would like to have sex with him. Kratos, Marcus Fenix, and their ilk, are the object of power fantasies, not sexual fantasies. There is a huge difference there. You want to be as cool and powerful as Kratos. Again, nobody wants to be Lara Croft all the time.

Another example of this is women playing FPS (first-person shooters) or practically any games where mics are involved. I personally refuse to play with a mic on most games because I get tired of rape threats and name calling. The blog “Fat, Ugly, or Slutty” has made a history of these threats, and reading through the archives is the antithesis of pleasant, but if you’re a woman who’s played games many of them sound familiar.

So where are women in games? Well, they are present, anyone in the gaming community should be able to name a few prominent female characters, but they are present in a problematic way that facilitates a high level of misogyny within the gaming world.

So what do we do now?

Well, unfortunately in the past few decades the misogyny has only grown more creative, graphic, and subtle. What started out with a game like Custer’s Revenge where the goal is to guide a cowboy with an erection towards a tied up Native-American princess has evolved into letting female characters narrowly avoid rape to foster “protective feelings” from male players (Sidenote: Who would have the power in a “protective” relationship…not the near-victim).

To counter this, women need to share their voices and experiences, but even that can often have terrifying consequences. Anita Sarkeesian stumbled across the consequences when she launched her Kickstarter to produces a video series on “Tropes vs. Women in Video Games”. She was threatened, had to spend exorbitants amount of money to beef up her website security, and had her project repeatedly reported for “terrorism” by particularly unpleasant trolls.

Having a horde of internet trolls turn on me could be one of the most frightening prospects that I could realistically imagine happening to me in my lifetime, but having to silently put up with sexist comments and images everyday in my life as a female gamer is worse. So what’s a girl to do? I plan to discuss strategies for dealing with misogyny in later posts, but for now I want to publicly add my voice to the other brave women who call attention to misogyny on the internet and in gaming.

While not all my posts on here will directly deal with this issue (you can breathe a sigh of relief now!), I will occasionally be addressing misogyny in the gaming community and potential tactics to deal with it. If you have questions/comments/critiques of this feel free to voice them in the comments! Nothing will get changed unless we’re in polite and respectful dialogue with each other. So, have a question? Ask! And stay tune tomorrow for my answers 🙂

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