Nine To Five has moved up! Check out the website right here. While I’m working on redirecting traffic from this blow to the new site, leave some feed back for me on what you think of the new HQ!
So I woke up to see a link from tumblr posted by one of my favorite cosplayers regarding the portrayal of female characters in video games. Though I’m usually pretty wary of tumblr users as a I am of those of Reddit or 4chan, this link fell directly in line with my article on what I feel is the systemic censorship of gaming through shaming gamers and developers.
Here’s an excerpt from the post.
“And this is the crux of this topic. How I feel these so called advocates, these people obsessed with social justice and crying misogyny and sexism at every turn, are not pro-women. They’re anti-sex and pro-ego. We have a game like Overwatch, with a diverse cast of women and men, of different nationalities, and yet it is still ‘problematic’.
They lumped every woman together into one body type; ‘sexy’. And called it a day. They erased the body differences displayed in Pharah and Tracer because to them that is a body type. To them, classically attractive women are just lumped together, regardless of if they have different body types or not.
It’s amazing that they crow victory over the new character being introduced, despite being extremely shallow, relying on a very old trope, wearing a breastplate and is, effectively, employing the “man with boobs” trope. But they really didn’t care, not that much, what they wanted was a body type that wasn’t considered classically attractive and, ultimately, to be listened to and have their ego stroked.”
The author,the spectacular spider-girl, goes on to use various examples of some of the complaints that were made about games like Dragon’s Crown, Soul Calibur etc and how these complaints are sexist and bent on body shaming in their own way. Hell, she even mentions the whole “big breasts” issue that I touched on in my piece.
The post isn’t very long but it’s very interesting and is nice take on what’s going within our hobby from the eyes of another person who’s getting tired of the current bias that’s been running rampant.
Check out the post here.
It’s been awhile, I’ve just started working a second job to support my “lavish” lifestyle. While I was busy slaving away for the man, apparently about two weeks ago, my favorite person in the world, Anita Sarkeesian, had some kind of get together with video-game developers in New York City, right in my backyard! according to a Kotaku article, Ms. Sarkeesian had a bit to say about how she wanted video-games to change or better yet “8 Things Game devs can do to make things less shitty for women” The list has been conveniently posted down below for you, dear reader.
- Avoid the Smurfette principle (don’t have just one female character in an ensemble cast, let alone one whose personality is more or less “girl” or “woman.”)
- “Lingerie is not armor” (Dress female characters as something other than sex objects.)
- Have female characters of various body types
- Don’t over-emphasize female characters’ rear ends, not any more than you would the average male character’s.
- Include more female characters of color.
- Animate female characters to move the way normal women, soldiers or athletes would move.
- Record female character voiceover so that pain sounds painful, not orgasmic
- Include female enemies, but don’t sexualize those enemies
On the outside, the majority of these make sense, I mean the smurfette principle is right on point, I feel the same way about token black characters who are just “there” and number five is great as well, I would love to see way more women of color in video games, as I stated in a prior article, they’re even more under represented than men of color who aren’t even really that present to begin with. Heck the majority of these are reasonable and like I said, I agree with a few of them myself. So let me take a moment to applause and say that on those two points I definitely agree with Anita, bravo, you’re actually starting to make some kind of sense.
But let’s get down to the real nitty gritty here, real talk, people are still afraid of sex and the topic of sex in general.
“Don’t over-emphasize female characters’ rear ends, not any more than you would the average male character’s.”
“Lingerie is not armor” (Dress female characters as something other than sex objects”
These two points and a few others got my eyebrows waggling as I slowly started to make a not so subtle connection
This all reminds me of America’s and the West obsession and fear of sex, any media historian who’s worth his or her salt knows that Sex and media in general have had a tumultuous relationship since the time that they were able to figure out how to put people on film and record the. From not being to show a couple sharing a bed together to how much of a woman’s upper body could be shown before it’s considered nudity. For decades film directors have gone on to challenge film censorship, pushing the envelope every time. Films like Stanley Kubrick’s ‘A Clock Work Orange‘ with it’s graphic depictions of violence and Paul Verhoeven’s ‘Basic Instinct“‘ for it’s portrayal of Homosexuals and Lesbians as well as it’s approach to sex came under serious fire from critics and the general populace alike, Kubrick himself at one point, allegedly received death threats for ‘A Clock Work Orange’ , all because people felt offended by his vision.
These films are just two of many that were controversial during their time periods and drew the ire of many a critic because at their respective times, the images they depicted were only ever talked about in hush tones. The public railed against them because they were “offended” it battered their moral compasses, they were simply unthinkable. Now a days, a film like “A Clock Work Orange” would be considered tame, the only parts that I think would raise eyebrows would be the parts dealing with sex because…well America and the West in general have a serious problem with sex.
Let’s step away from films and back to video games, I feel like there’s a movement being made, a movement where people who are comfortable with the games they play are being shamed for the games they play and the developers who produce these games are being made to feel ashamed about what they make. We’re going backwards ladies and gentlemen, were as films and television have had their ropes of censorship loosened, gamers, developers what have you not, are having those same ropes tightened not by the ESRB not by misinformed parents, but by critics and the gaming media it’s almost like an internalized lynch mob to a degree.
Let me give you a few examples, last week it was announced within the Dead or Alive community that DLC costumes that oversexualized characters, would result in soft bans from tournaments. The decision was made to try and “legitimize” Dead or Alive, so to “legitimize”DOA, they had to make a part of the game, customizing the look of your character, a ban-able offense. Fans of Dead or Alive are no stranger to it’s overly exaggerated characters, heck there are three DOA games that aren’t based on fighting but on having key characters frolic on beaches, playing volleyball. This is a series of games that have been the object of criticism since the early days of disc based gaming. Who is the competitive community trying to fool? or a better question, who is the competitive community trying to not draw attention from?
Moving on, NetherRealm studios, the developer best known for “Mortal Kombat”, a series of fighting games that were the center of the “violence in video games” debate during the mid 90’s. Announced that they were going to make their women more “realistic” as in toning down their busts and level of skin exposure…that’s “realism” in a game where characters literally rip their opponents head’s from their torso’s or freeze them dead in their tracks and smashes their bodies to pieces. Just who is NetherRealm trying to appease? their fan base has been around for decades and has happily been enjoying game after game that the studio has released. This sudden move to “realism” seems coincidentally tied to the current dialogue that’s been hammered into people’s heads from Kotaku and Polygon. “You characters are too sexy, tone them down or face ridicule”
The level of violence is acceptable but the range of cupsizes aren’t ? Before I go on that’s one thing I’d like to point out, what is it with people being offended by fictional women who’s bust size is anything over a C? From Lara Croft of ‘Tomb Raider ‘ to Ivy Valentine of ‘Soul Calibur ‘ I mean really it seems as if as soon as you cross into DD territory, folks literally fall out of their chairs and onto their laptops to pontificate about how “obscene” a character is…just a little thing I had to throw in before I got into my next example.
If you’re not familiar with Dragon’s Crown, it was a side scrolling arcade like beat em up that looked Dungeons and Dragons-ish. The big issue that critics had with Dragon’s Crown was with the designs of two of the game’s playable characters, the Sorceress and the Amazon. Apparently Jason Schreier of ‘Kotaku’ had this to say about the design of the extremely busty Sorceress
“This is the newest trailer for Dragon’s Crown, the Vanillaware-developed game that will be out this year for PS3 and Vita. It features the sorceress, one character from the game. As you can see, the sorceress was designed by a 14-year-old boy. Perhaps game development studios should stop hiring teenagers? At least they’re cheap, I guess.”
Mr. Schreier has long since apologized for his comments but the use of Ad hominem to make a point? I could literally go on for hours about how off hand comments like this are what makes issues like this almost impossible to talk about. This western obsession that correlates anything inherently sexual in gaming must be only for prepubescent boys is in and of itself sexist. I’m a grown man of 28, hold two degrees, TEACH as an adjunct and I had absolutely no problem playing Dragon’s Crown. The same went for the many gamers who went out and bought Dragon’s Crown and enjoyed it for the excellent game that it was.
I have had such a difficult time writing this piece, there are obviously things that need some serious changes within the gaming industry and a lot of them have to do with how people are portrayed. I’m all for changes that will make the medium more accepting and open to people. However at the same time I can’t condone making someone feel bad for making or playing the games that they like. Where do we draw the line between what’s acceptable and what is out of line? when does it start to go from free speech to censorship? I do know that carrying on, attacking one another or making jokes at each other’s expense is not the way to go about things and that acting offended while actively offending others doesn’t bring about any positives either just more negatives.
“Ultimately, I find absolutely ludicrous that we’ve spent years upon years fighting the censors and defending our hobby from the pundits on Fox News, but now we’re turning into the censors ourselves. We’re becoming the Fox News-style pundits that ride on controversy. It’s ludicrous and extremely depressing”
He goes on to say-” We’re not exercising criticism, we’re not doing journalism. We have become the bullies we so fiercely fought against for half of our lives.”
What are your thoughts? do you think there’s an issue of censorship? are people being too sensitive? or is there a need for change? Can a happy medium be reached? Share in the comments section!
I’m still really surprised people care about Conker, I don’t and probably will not ever understand the appeal behind the character. He’s literally a perversion of the cute little video game/ Cartoon characters I grew up with. Apparently there were talks of a Conker reboot at some point but insomniac studios turned down that idea. What I find SUPER interesting is the bit at the end of this quote-
“However, Insomniac turned MS down too. Apparently MS wanted Conker to hit store shelves by the end of 2015, and Insomiac refused because of the short dev cycle. MS wanted Conker out the door really quickly, because they wanted to reintroduce audiences to a bunch of older IPs that MS were planning on rebooting for 2016-17, like Perfect Dark and Banjo.” (source)
All though this is all speculation based on conjecture just the mere MENTION of a Perfect Dark reboot has got my eyebrows waggling like crazy. A modern Perfect Dark would be amazing and could possibly erase the memory of Perfect Dark: Zero. I’m seriously hoping this rumor has some kind of truth to it. We’ve already heard the rumors of a new Banjo/Kazooie game so maybe there’s some truth to all this.
Now that I think about it, how would Perfect Dark fare in today’s shooter saturated market? how could they distinguish it from all the dark and edgy futuristic shooters that are out now? This would be an excellent chance to showcase Joanna Dark as a strong, capable female character.Both camps could win if a new Perfect Dark were to be released, Polygon and Anita Sarkeesian get another character to possible rag or not rag on for clicks and controversy and the rest of us who don’t care about all that get a new adventure set in the world of Perfect Dark.
I seriously hope this is all true..not the Conker bit, no, thank you!
Well, this isn’t too surprising in the year of our lord two thousand and fifteen just after a few days Anita Sarkeesian’s NYU lecture on “changes” for video-games as a whole,we have this little gem ripped straight from Eventhubs,
“This is a movement that was discussed by several members of the community to try and help turn around the image that has plagued the franchise. DOA has always been known for its over-sexualized females and just that alone has pushed people away from even trying the game. Sex Appeal in the DOA franchise will never go away but we, the community, want people to take it seriously and started the costume ban at offline tournaments to force people to focus more on the game play aspect of the game. This is a soft ban and is at the discretion of the tournament organizer (TO) running the game at the event. However we HIGHLY encourage people to not use the suggested costumes on stream for something like Top 8.”
As a person who has ran tournaments himself, I can honestly say I’m perplexed, telling my tournament participants which DLC outfits that they can use on a fictional character, outfits that they bought with their own money or else face being banned from my event seems a bit overreaching to me and largely unnecessary.
The Dead or Alive community is no stranger to the attire worn by characters within the Dead or Alive games and the majority probably pay no mind to it, why? ..that’s not the focus of the game. I feel like the people who put forth these guidelines are most likely ashamed of the game their community is based around. Let me dissect this one line,
“Sex Appeal in the DOA franchise will never go away but we, the community, want people to take it seriously and started the costume ban at offline tournaments to force people to focus more on the game play aspect of the game.”
Instead of worrying about what people are focused on, why not focus on actually building the community and having more events? Worrying about what outfit Hitomi or Ayane is wearing should be the last thing that the Dead or Alive community should be heaving any quandary about. There should be a bigger movement focused on promoting the game and bringing in more players so that the community itself can grow.
To those who feel uncomfortable about what the clothing that other player’s characters are wearing remember, you don’t have to buy that DLC and if it really bothers you..maybe Dead or Alive is not the game for you but telling others players what they can and can’t put on their characters is completely ludicrous.
A brief bit of history, growing up my father was very big on PC games. He played everything from Wolfenstein 3D to the space sims like the long forgotten “The Last Dynasty“. there was no shortage of the types of genres that my sister and I were privy to. We were introduced to almost every genre that was available. I still remember my sister poking around in point and click adventure title called “Robot City” and the hours she and I would spend trying to solve a murder of a scientist in a city ran by robots who all happened to follow the Asimov’s Law (the law of robotics that basically stipulate that a robot can not harm a human being”.
Out of all the genres we experiences, none was as influential in my development as a gamer as the Mech genre did. In the early 90’s, Mech games were a fairly big deal especially on Personal Computers. My Father had several games that ranged from the venerated ‘MechWarrior‘ franchise and it’s expansions to the lesser know just as good ‘EarthSiege‘. I’ve forgotten what age I was but I still vividly remember how much awe and amazement I was in watching my Dad pilot the lumbering mechanical beasts of destruction.
The sound of the calm A.I. alerting him that his machine and it’s armaments were online, warning him when he was nearly out of ammo on mid combat, my eyes would widen in pure excitement as I watched him calmly cycle through his weapons and tear down his opponents with a hails of missile fire and eviscerate anyone that got in his way with barrages of laser fire that would light up the screen and sound as amazing as it looked. To my young mind, MechWarrior and EarthSiege were in a class of their own, in terms of action that is. The landscapes my father waged war in were usually flat, never-ending plains or deserts or dark gray canyons, just very drab and depressing but worked perfectly in terms of atmosphere. I mean this was war on a massive scale, you were too busy watching your radar as your Fifteen meter robot slowly marched across alien landscapes. It all made sense, that’s the way Mech games should be right?
Or so I thought.
It’s several years later and my father had just bought a new Compaq computer. I had just come back from school when he called me to his office. As I neared him, I heard very unfamiliar sound effects along with very unfamiliar music that was unusually cheerful sounding. By the time I had gotten to the corner of my father’s office my curiosity was in overdrive. It wasn’t until my eyes witnessed what was on his monitor that my young adolescent mind was suddenly blown apart.
On his screen there were two brightly colored machines jetting around firing off bolts of even more brightly colored laser beams and projectiles at one another. The arena they battled though tiny in comparison to the maps that were present in MechWarrior, were brightly lit. Despite the arena size you could tell these machines were huge in scale because the obstacles they y dodged behind for cover to escape one another’s onslaught were buildings..
My father had just introduced me to Virtual On and the the world of Japanese giant robots and inadvertently began my life long obsession with the genre.
After years of watching my old man mow down other slow moving machines, it was absolutely engrossing to witness him fighting a machine one on one while literally flying around an arena non-stop. ‘Virtual On ‘became an integral step in my development and growth as a gamer. It opened me up to an alternative take on a genre for which I was only familiar with on one side.
‘Virtual On’ was an extremely popular arcade game released in Japanese arcades by Sega back in 1995. The game saw subsequent releases for the Sega Saturn and PC several years down the line. The first version of the game, which was ported to PC’s in America and Japan was titled ‘Cyber Troopers Virtual On- Operation Moon Gate’. The plot of ‘VOOM‘ was not unlike the that of the 80’s cult film ‘The Last Starfighter‘.
You, the player is playing an arcade game but is unwittingly actually controlling their machine. The arcade machine itself was sent from the future to seek out players who were capable of controlling the giant robots or ‘Virtuaroids’ as they were called in game. Virtuaroids came in all sorts of shapes and colors there were some that looked reminiscent of Western Mecha with an emphasis on firepower over speed. Some that were references to other Japanese Mecha like the famous ‘Mobile Suit Gundam’ and what Japanese game would be complete without a school girl themed robot?
The ‘Virtual On’ series has a storied history that might not get to continue on. Sega’s recent layoffs and refocusing on the PC and Mobile Phone market instead of game consoles and arcades has a long time ‘Virtual On’ fan like myself very worried. I’ve done my best to follow the series through it’s paces. From the awesome sequel “Oratario Tangram” to the not so awesome “Virtual On:Marz“, even going as far as to import ‘Virtual On: Force’ for the Xbox 360 . As a long time fan, I’ve done my best to keep up with the series and it’s community which is still very active both here and in Japan.
Despite not having a sequel to ‘Force’ in years, ‘Virtual On’ is still celebrated in Japan. The Virtuaroids have had crossovers into other games like the famous Super Robot Wars series of strategy role playing games that feature different Mecha from different Japanese anime and video-games taking on various enemies from their respective TV shows. In fact Super Robot Wars: UX which is available on the Nintendo 3DS in Japan has a crossover within a crossover in the form of a Hatsune Miku version of the Fei-Yen (the pink mecha pictured above).
With Sega slowly looking like it’s going to close it’s doors on console gaming, I can’t help but worry about what will happen to the games that jump started my love for Japanese giant robots. Like I said earlier, there hasn’t been a new ‘Virtual On’ in nearly a decade, with ‘Force’ being released to arcades in 2001 and receiving a Japan-only Xbox 360 port several years later. Things don’t exactly look well for the series but one could hope that someone at Sega remembers ‘Cyber Troopers: Virtual On’, because the fans will always remember to “Get Ready”.
I’ve been a long time fan of the Dead or Alive series, I started with 3 on the original X Box, dove head first into ‘Dimensions‘ on the Nintendo 3DS and happily threw down in DOA 5 on 360 and DOA 5 Plus on the PlayStation Vita (cue Amazing Grace).Hell, I even dabbled a little bit in the first ‘Extreme Beach Volleyball’ and I swear the Volleyball parts are actually why I played the game!.
When it came to the actual fighting I’ve never been the best at it, I’ve tried to have as much fun as I could as someone who isn’t particularity good at fighting games. Being a fan of Dead or Alive also means I’m not stranger to some of the more “cringe” inducing elements of the series, from the scantily clad women to some of the characters looking seriously underage and…Zack.
One thing I’ve noticed is that each iteration at some point draws attention to the voluptuous forms of all the female characters, from the characters getting dirtier and sweaty during their fights to being able to manipulate the camera around them after they have won or lost(Granted that the same can be done with male characters). That stuff is really whatever to me and is something one can over look and not pay attention to. But what do you do when Sony posts up videos showing how a new software engine improves the movement of the women’s breasts?
That’s right, PlayStation Japan released a video showcasing the power of the “Soft Engine” that’s being used in the models for the PlayStation 4 version of Dead or Alive 5: Last Round. The engine makes the breast movement more “realistic”in comparison the version of the game that’s available on the PlayStation 3.
See I could rant and rave about sexism and apparent misogyny and post up pictures of Anita Sarkeesian but you know what? this is exactly why I love the Japanese. As cringe worthy as this is, they really don’t give two shits about all the things that have become a firestorm of controversy in the Western gaming, they just keep making the games they want to make. Which I must applaud them for doing this despite the hostile atmosphere that’s become the new normal when dealing with the topic over sexualization of female characters in video games. You can check out the video below, just make sure no one is around your cubicle or something unless you’re like me and just don’t care.
Dead or Alive 5: Last Round is out and available for several home consoles and PC. If you want to go a round or two on Live or PSN, drop me message with your PSN or Gamertag!
What a great way to start Valentine’s Day!!! Square Enix has announced that there will be a new Dissidia: Final Fantasy, game coming to arcades in Japan! I sank more hours into both the Japanese and domestic versions of the first Dissidia game than any other handheld title I owned at the time. Originally released to the PlayStation Portable, Dissidia was a arena fighter/crossover title.
It featured every main hero and main antagonist from Final Fantasy I to X, with a few characters like XI’s Shantotto and XII’s Gabranth being unlock-able. A prequel game called “Dissidia 012” was released with even more characters like FFXIII’s Lightning and FFVII’s Tifa Lockhart joining the battle. The general plot of both games was that the God’s of Light and Dark wage an eternal war with each other, these wars are fought by the various characters from Final Fantasy. There’s plenty of drama, exposition and interaction with the characters making the game a delight to play for fans of the Final Fantasy franchise.
Anyway, here’s what we know so far,
3 on 3 Battles( as opposed to the one on one set up of the first two games)
It’s a reboot and not a continuation of the last two games
Everything in the trailer is composed of in game assets, no CGI. (source)
Zoe Quinn/Brianna Wu Proxy-“These guys, they just can’t stand women in gaming!”
-Detective-“What did they do to you?”
Zoe Quinn/Brianna Wu Proxy- “They leveled up”
Wow, I really don’t know what better word to describe the cringe fest of an episode Law and Order: SVU’s “Intimidation Game” was. It has everything from Ice-T using gamer jargon, awkward pale white dudes as gamers, First person shooter dissing, damsel(s) in distress and of course a guy in a fedora wearing a bow-tie( I kid you not).
I mean, really I’m not making this stuff up. From Ice-T spouting explanations for “camping” and what “FPS” meant to how bewildered Mariska hargitay looked the whole episode. it’s totally difficult to keep yourself from laughing at first. However, the laughter turns to consternation and shock when things quickly escalate and the Anita Sarkeesian Proxy, Raina Punjabi, is at first threatened, doxxed ,swatted and eventually kidnapped by a mysterious group of individuals that are an obvious analogy to the real world internet group “Anonymous”.
Except that Anonymous has never kidnapped, beaten or sexually assaulted anyone. The “Intimidation Game” is a macabre perspective on the current headlining issues in the gaming media. Since the producers of Special Victims Unit know that making an episode that centered around the very real but online threats that people like Zoe Quinn or Anita Sarkeesian have received would not be as gripping for their audience, they just went ahead and portrayed these issues in a much darker and EXTREME light. I mean seriously, The episode ends in a Mexican standoff on a rooftop between the police and two “Gamers” who go off on how women and “social justice warriors” are ruining video games while the camera literally switches to a first person perspective like it was a scene from a low budget Call of Duty clone. It looks as ridiculous as it sounds, trust me.
There are some saying that they can not wait to see “GamerGater tears” over this episode as if this something to be championing as a “blow” to GamerGate. What people like that don’t realize, is that this episode of Law and Order has set ALL of us and our favorite hobby back to almost mid 90’s level of mockery. Be you Anti, Pro or whatever side of GamerGate you’re on, no one has won and we’ve all come out of this looking exactly how the media has always portrayed us as, losers.
If you can’t bear to watch the full episode (I can’t blame you) you can watch a supercut version posted below. Let me know what you think.