Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

That GamerGate inspired episode of Law and Order is out…and just as awful as expected.

February 12, 2015

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).

Screenshot 2015-02-12 15.07.24

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”.

Screenshot 2015-02-12 14.00.42

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.

Screenshot 2015-02-12 13.35.53

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.

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How GamerGate lost the Media War

February 5, 2015

A strange game. The only winning move is not to play“- Joshua, Wargames, 1983

So recently, I found out that one of my favorite detective television shows, Law and Order:Special Victims Unit  would be airing an episode based off the events of Gamergate. The episode, titled “The Intimidation Game” will feature a story about a woman who is about to launch her first online game, of course she receives threats and harassment from men online. Another part of the episode has a female employee assaulted at gamer convention. The episode details can be found here.

As much as I love Special Victims Unit , I know how these episodes that are based off of real life events play out, usually from a one sided perspective that demonizes the perpetrators. Be they a pop star accused of touching children(an episode based off the Micheal Jackson allegations) or a radio shock Jock who’s fan goes off and does something stupid all so that he could end up on the Shock Jock’s show (clearly based off Howard Stern and the controversy that used to surround the infamous Howard Stern Show). The opposing “party” gets persecuted  straight to hell by the detectives, in a ploy to show the audience how evil or screwed up they are. “ The Intimidation Game” will most likely be no different. Gamers are going to be portrayed as nothing more than woman hating mongrels that will stop at nothing to impede the progress of women into their “boys club”.

Which is what brings me to why I gave this post it’s title and why I used the quote from Wargames. At this point, as a person who has watched the Gamergate issue erupt and turn gamer against gamer and gamer against journalists  I have to say that it’s over, in the court of public opinion, Gamergate and what it stands for has been mangled so badly that there’s absolutely that I feel that there’s no way to turn it around and here’s why.

“Anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course”. John C. Maxwell 

This is my biggest gripe and why I felt that pro-Gamergate side took such a beating, there was no “leader” per say or even a spokesperson. On a topic that has the likes of Anita Sarkeesian and media outlets like Polygon constantly beating the public over their collective heads through generalizations, disingenuous reporting or just plain bashing. It doesn’t help your cause when you don’t have a figurehead that’s at the forefront to at least explain where you’re coming from and refute some of the claims your opponents are throwing out at you.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone ask “What’s Gamergate all about?” and immediately receive a cut and paste response that you’d see from the comments section of Polygon. Labeling anyone that dare stand with Gamergate as a “Fedora wearing, basement dwelling white male that hates anything that deals with Gays, Transexuals and Women and their involvement in video games”.

I can’t tell you the countless times I, as a Nigerian born, 28 year-old, non whitenon fedora wearing male would have to then reiterate and explain that yes, there are extremists but those extremists do not represent Gamergate or gamers at all. However as I’ve come to learn, those efforts are almost as futile as arguing with someone that  only watches Fox News and wholeheartedly believes that every person that associates with Islam is automatically a terrorist. Yes that’s how bad it’s gotten and probably the best way I can drive my point home.

When the only explanations that people read or hear about are coming from your opponents side of the argument it’s easy to form a bias. There are plenty of people who talked about Gamergater that were Youtubers, bloggers and writers. There are no shortage of Gamergate defenders but with little to no organization any formation of a front was quickly brushed aside and ignored.

An example would be the #Notyourshield sub movement of gamers who were tired of the gaming media using women and minorities to deflect and essentially shield themselves from any kind of criticism that could be slung their way by feigning support of both groups. Another example, when Christina Hoff Sommers aka “The Factual Feminists” released a video titled “Are video games sexist” that criticized the gaming media and it’s motives for suddenly moving against it’s perceived audience. Like #Notyourshield  Ms.Sommers was immediately written off, described  as a conservative who only  wanted to gain the favor of embattled male gamers.

Battling against a biased media.

“Something I’ve often noticed is the willingness to shame anyone that doesn’t agree with Ms. Sarkeesian or any of the issues that she speaks of. While we know that disagreement is a common aspect in society, the problem becomes apparent when you’re not just disagreed with, but you’re shamed for disagreeing.” – From:The Culture of Infallibility that surrounds Anita Sarkeesian

The day that ‘The Colbert Report‘ had Anita Sarkeesian on as a guest, was the day the final nail had been struck into the GamerGate coffin. The masses who are not as “plugged in” as those of us were treated to a big helping dose of that classic Sarkeesian bias. Being a gamer and watching someone like Anita Sarkeesian go on national television and call gaming a “Boys Club” was cringe worthy. The whole interview took me back to the days when career activists like Jack Thompson or politicians like Joe Lieberman would routinely appear on news circuits to complain about video games. This time however, the games and developers aren’t the ones under siege but the people who play them as well. The fact that so few people see the parallels between now and then is bothersome.

Back when Thompson and Leiberman were on their media tear, there wasn’t much of a voice to oppose them,  the ones that were loud enough to gain the public’s attention were disregarded. Now in the age of Anita, we are seeing the same thing take hold. People have been blinded by the gross misappropriation of  gamers, by misappropriation I mean the instant dismissal that all gamers are social awkward basement dwelling and have no idea of social context and what it means to be a productive member of society. With television shows like “The Big Bang Theory” and “King of the Nerds” the image of people who are gamers or are involved with gaming hasn’t really progressed in the eye of the general public. EVEN THOUGH there are more gamers NOW than ever before in the history of the medium.

End Game

There were several missteps in Gamergate, in the world of Public Relations, getting out ahead of the news, especially if that news could be damaging to you or your client is essential. Inaction leaves you open to attacks from your opponent. Your opponent can now twist your image in anyway that they please. This has been the literal case with GamerGate, Polygon pushes out an article about Anita being harassed and it’s immediately tied to GamerGate, no investigation done, no real research that connects anything to anyone.

Yet with the way the gaming media has set this up, every single time someone is attacked online for speaking about anything that has to do with women in gaming, it’s Gamergate no if ands or buts.Controversy brings comments and clicks and with those two, revenue. Gaming has always been a besieged medium, from angry parents to “activists” and Politicians, there has always been someone there who wants a piece of that proverbial pie and honestly, who can stop them?

Anyway, thank you for giving this piece a read, I’ve been stewing over it for some time now and trying to find a way to put what’s on my mind to paper. Please share your thoughts and let me know you know how you feel. Do you think Gamegate is lost? or do you think there’s still a chance to properly get the word out?

Goodbye Origa, you will be missed.

January 18, 2015

The singer known as ‘Origa’ best known for her music that has been featured in notable anime from ‘Ghost in the Shell‘ to ‘Turn ∀ Gundam ‘ passed away January 17th 2015. It’s very heart wrenching to hear this news because she has touched the hearts of so many Japanese anime fans around the globe.My introduction to the singer was through her magnificent vocals in ‘Inner Universe’ the theme to ‘Ghost in The Shell:Stand Alone Complex’ it pains me and so many others that she is no longer with us.

origa

Ol’ga Vital’evna Yakovleva was born October 12, 1970 in Russia, passed away at the age of 44 after she lost her battle with lung cancer. she will be greatly missed by her many fans around the world.

Rest in Peace Ol’ga, may you continue to  sing in better worlds beyond our own.

Via AnimeNewsNetwork

Scarlett Johansson as Motoko Kusanagi is white washing? I don’t agree.

January 6, 2015

So it’s came to light that actress Scarlett Johansson will be playing the role of Cyborg heroine Motoko Kusanagi in a live action adaptation  of  Masamune Shirow’s anime ‘Ghost In The Shell’.  Besides the obvious, “Why Scarlett Johansson?” line of questioning, some folks on the internet have already started calling out Hollywood for “White Washing” the role of the character, who’s story takes place in Japan and who is of Japanese origin.

First off, I’m not too sure about the casting of Ms. Johansson as ‘The Major’ I honestly feel like the casting director saw her in ‘The Avengers’ and ‘Lucy’  and thought those two characters she portrayed aligned with what American audiences would perceive Motoko as. Which in my honest opinion, would be doing the character a great disservice. Besides that point  there are people calling Johansson’s casting as whitewashing are using ‘Dragonball:Evolution‘ and M.Night shyamalan ‘Avatar‘ as an examples of Hollywood’s need to cast white actors in place of “clearly” Japanese characters. While I do believe whitewashing does exist ( Justin chatwin as Goku?) in Hollyweird, I don’t believe the same ridicule can be applied to a character like Motoko Kusanagi.

I say this simply because of the background and setting of Ghost in the Shell. Which, when you really think about it, could technically take place in any part of the world.Public Security Section 9 (The outfit that the Motoko leads in Ghost In The Shell) is basically an anti-cyber terrorist response group established under the Japanese government at some-point in the future.  Every aspect of that part of the story can be adapted in so many ways that’s it’s almost self-explanatory.Public Security Section 9 can be placed under any nation or this time around, be a multi-national task force with it’s members coming from around the world. If you saw 2014’s Edge of Tomorrow , Hollywood’s adaptation of the Japanese manga ‘All you need is kill’,  you know American adaptations of Japanese works can play out well on the big screen, even if character’s ethnicity’s are changed.

Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow

While Motoko’s nationality is Japanese, however she isn’t drawn to look like a Japanese woman.For example in, how she is portrayed in the anime ‘Stand Alone Complex‘ her character looks like a Caucasian woman with goofy colored hair and an athletic build. Honestly, most anime characters are drawn to look Caucasian in the first place, with a few anime deviating from that (‘Paranoia Agent‘ and ‘Bokurano‘ come to mind) where the characters look Japanese.

Motoko as she is drawn in ‘Stand Alone Complex’

The character’s background as a body switching cyborg also helps to drive the point home, since Motoko  can switch to different prosthetic body (which she has done when her original sustains significant damage) she could technically have a different body if the story called for it.Hell at one point in ‘Stand Alone Complex‘ her partner, Batou, asks her why she doesn’t switch out into a male prosthetic body instead of a female one. Implying that she can just as easily be of another gender if she wanted to. So why would her ethnicity matter either?

I don’t agree with the alleged “White Washing” of Motoko Kusanagi, I get some of the outrage but I honestly feel it’s been misplaced this time around. With the recent releases of ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings‘ and the noise THAT casting created, I don’t blame people for being wary of Hollywood’s trickery but in the case of ‘Ghost In The Shell‘, I’m going to look past the actresses ethnicity and  just hope Ms. Johansson will do The Major and ‘Ghost In The Shell‘ justice.

Race in Videogames: It’s not just one group of people that suffers from tropes.

November 17, 2014

You know,
With all the coverage women have received in gaming,from sexism to objectification I sometimes think to myself “At least you have characters that are somewhat varied representations of your gender”.

I mean female gamers have Samus and Lara Croft(reboot) Claire Redfield ,on one end and zany characters like  Bayonetta, Princess Peach, Lightning so on and so forth.All these characters, regardless of what you think, have some kind of variance to their personality or demeanor. Critics  can pick and choose  from a veritable laundry list of female protagonists   which they feel are objectified or which characters are too “sexy”.On the other coin What do gamers who aren’t white or female have? If you’re black, different variations of Barrett from Final Fantasy 7 or Augustus Cole from Gears of War, what I call the “Cookie Cutter” Stereotype. From CJ from San Andreas to “Big Bo” Roy Boateng from Binary Domain. We’ve all seen these stereotypes of black men in  videogames, loud brash men that half the time sound like they had just moved from Detroit and had a stint at a comedy club.Now don’t get it twisted, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a Black character portrayed as “Boisterous”  and loud and funny. The problem I take up with is when that stereotypical character becomes the only representation of Africans and African Americans in videogames.

First off let me say that there are  African/African American characters represented in games that at least have been distinctive. An example would lie in Assassin’s Creed’s Adéwalé , A former slave from Trinidad. Adewale is featured in the DLC “Freedom Cry” but even then Freedom Cry  is DLC, it’s not part of the main campaign and can be passed up if the player doesn’t want to buy it. Basically regulating Adewale and his story as a “sidequest” lessening the importance of the character and his story. Another Assassin’s Creed game “Liberation” featured another  black protagonist, this time a woman, Aveline de Grandpré, unfortunately, Aveline’s game was initially released on the PlayStation Vita and later ported as an HD up conversion for other consoles but by that time, gamers had already moved on and Aveline and her story have basically faded away into obscurity as that “One Assassin’s Creed game on the Vita”

Aveline, Assassin’s Creed:Liberation

The pool of protagonists that women of color is even smaller. When I say protagonist, I mean the main character of the game. Not a side kick like Alyx Vance from Half life 2.I mean a woman that is a protagonist in her own game that isnt oversexualized  or fetishized . Nilin Cartier Wells from “Remember Me” is probably one of few women of color in recent memory that was of mixed race AND that was a main character in a game the other character being Aveline.

“Nilin, Remember Me”

I sometimes wonder to myself, why doesn’t anyone ever talk about any of this? why doesn’t anyone question why we’re so underrepresented and  portrayed like that in video games? why isn’t polygon writing ten articles a day about the lack of racial diversity or miss/under representation of people of color in gaming?

Then I realize something, it’s not “sexy” it won’t get websites like Polygon a massive amount of clicks, not like their daily posts about women, gaming and what developers are doing wrong.Those topics draw in hundreds of commentators, all arguing over who is right and what someone else is doing wrong. Then I start to think again and wonder why more people like myself aren’t talking about this, especially since this is a time where people are demanding that there be some kind of equal representation in gaming.

Then it hit me.

Just a few months ago a Micheal Brown was shot dead  by the police in Ferguson Missouri.  A few months later, another young black youth, 22-year-old Darrien Hunt was shot six times in the back by the police in Utah. A few weeks ago, an irate caller called in to C-Span and  said that “Republicans hate the nigger Obama” on live television.

I’m torn,

On one end there are far more serious injustices to be concerned about and to be rallied against in the real world. At the same time, in the hobby that I love, I’d for once would like to see more characters that moved beyond the typical “Giant, Funny Black Guy that sounds like he was on Sanford and Son in the 70’s” and it’s time to start a dialogue about it.

The Midnight Release. Then and Now and probably forever…

March 25, 2013

Last year I attended a midnight release party for Halo 4..it was at that point I decided to never attend another midnight launch for any game title ever. “I’m getting too old for this shit” is what I muttered to myself as I wearily drove myself back home to my bed to get what little rest I could before work the following day. I mean really I wasn’t there to cover or write about it..just pick up my game and go. Alternatively I could have simply waited till the next day to pick up my copy during one of my work breaks..but what would that make me? No! I had to be there at exactly midnight to pick up Master Chiefs latest adventure….

Image

Two hours from midnight and I’m sagging into the couch in the lounge area in a “TGI Friday’s” off of Route 17..tired and weary and surrounded by people who were much younger than myself ,I questioned my own logic “Did I really need to pick this game up at midnight?”.

The midnight release party has always  been apart of the industry for as long I can personally remember. I’ve been to more midnight releases than I’d care to list. All of them had been for a AAA title of some sort and nearly none for niche titles..which is to be expected since niche titles most likely won’t draw the same type of crowds a AAA title would.

The differences between the launch crowds involved in midnight release is where things get interesting..for the first Black Ops midnight release from what I remember, was outdoors in a parking lot and the lot was filled with literally a hundred or so people ranging from all ages and sexes.

A few years before that, I attended a midnight launch for Final Fantasy XIII and it was a far smaller engagement with far fewer people. This dichotomy in launches is indicative of what genres have taken over the American gamersphere and which are “in”. The yearly releases of Call of Duty have shown no fatigue on the gamer conciseness and continually draw what is probably the largest fanbase to date.

Now you maybe wondering why I’m going on and on about midnight launches..why that’s because I’ll be attending the midnight release for Bioshock:Infinite. Personally I’ve never been into Bioshock, the closest I’ve gotten to getting into the series was my short stint in playing the spiritual successor “system shock”.

My knowledge of the series is limited as well as my interactions with the fan base which is mostly why I decided to attended the launch. Though this is more like a safari to me..A chance to sample a bit of the culture which is the Bioshock fandom.

So as I ready myself to brave the foul weather and drive down Route 17 to wait with the masses for the release of a much-anticipated game, I can’t help but  think about my past experiences with midnight launches and how this one will compare and if I’ll finally “Get too old for this shit!”

The Friday Night Street Fight- At Digital Press Videogames

September 29, 2012

This past Friday, September 21st, yours truly took a nice, short drive to Clifton to attend Digital Press’s “Friday Night Street Fight” a Fighter tournament hosted at their local, brick-and-mortar store. When one thinks of street fighting you often think of a bunch of brawlers duking it out in some Detroit back alley; well New Jersey isn’t Detroit. Fighters from towns near and far came to participate. I ran into players from a diverse age-range: from those who were in their teens to some who were scraping their mid-thirties. The event, and its $300 grand prize, attracted a diverse range of different creeds, racial backgrounds and a healthy gender mix to the competition.
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