Sexism and Sexuality in Games

At GDC 2013 David Gaider, a lead writer/designer for Bioware, spoke on Sexism and Sexuality in Games. The video clocks in at around 40 minutes but is full of a tremendous amount of insightful questions, insights – and even challenges the listeners in many ways. He talks some about the history of women in games, of the “typical” game players, how the industry is changing, and how we (as players) can change the industry.

mass-effect-women

One of the quotes I liked the most was “How do we invite women to gaming? How about we at least start with ‘How do we at least not offend them?'” David challenges us as those who participate in the games industry to think about things differently. As a developer he takes responsibility for his role in the industry that has created much of who we are as gamers today. The answer isn’t to create games specifically for women, which is about as offensive as making games specifically for gays, transgender, or minorities. Create games and look to tell the best stories possible.

It is my, your, our responsibility to begin thinking about these gender issues more seriously than we have in the past.

VIDEO LINK: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/194571/Video_Sexism_and_sexuality_in_games.php

If you haven’t checked out Anita Sarkeesian and her Feminist Frequency initiative examining female tropes in video games – check it out! It can be heavy handed at times and it takes a little objectivity to be able to watch and not instantly get triggered by some of what she says. It helps me to know that, while a gamer, Anita is not someone who grew up doing lots of gaming. That the images she (and other non-gamers) experience in games may look far worse than they actually are to more dedicated gamers. Sadly, many of the things that we have come to accept as “game mechanics” or “story telling devices” are probably barely noticed by gamers. So while it is unfortunate that many gamers aren’t as triggered by these scenes as they should be, it also doesn’t mean that they are instantly interanlizing all the language and imagery as something that is right.

  1. Video 1
  2. Video 2

David makes another great point that should be considered. If games want to be considered “art” – we as consumers need to demand more seriousness from the industry and our fellow game players. We can make demands of our fine art, movies, books and television.

Why not expect the same treatment from our games and our game makers?

Advertisements

Article – Learning to Love Easy Mode

This post is inspired by the following article: Learning To Love Easy Mode

Image

Is this really the type of achievement we want to unlock?

I have found that as I age the time and ability (maybe even the desire?) to do one thing for hours and hours has dramatically decreased. Due to this I have found that the ways that I used to look at things has dramatically shifted in the last few years. Time spent doing the same thing over and over and over in order to get better at something is no longer of interest to me. I am predominately a single-player gamer (due to time and children) and getting “better” than the “other guy” doesn’t factor into my gaming experience. Which is exactly why volunteering to make a game more challenging is no longer worthwhile.

I am an avid video and table top gamer (among many other things) and have to find a balance between all the things I do. Lately one of the most straightforward ways I have found to enable me to enjoy a video game with a reasonable level of challenge but a reduced amount of time is to set the game to “easy”. Prior to doing this I would choose hard (75% of the time) or medium (25% of the time) depending on the game – but never choose a Nightmare-type mode (I’m not that good!). I have found that a more casual challenge still enables me to enjoy the game and experience the story and characters without hitting a point where I have to spend excessive amount of time leveling up a character or dying-and-retrying a challenge over and over. In some instances the switch to “easy” has small and subtle changes that most players wouldn’t even notice, such as hit points are less for bosses, pickups more generous, or encounters are less frequent. Games that require more of an arcade-level of skill may give you more lives or more time in order to complete a challenge.

Image

Having had to replay a few games recently after my Xbox died (the 3rd RROD) and I needed to repurchase on my PC, I found myself choosing “easy” just to get myself back to the same point in the game. I found that in most instances I rarely noticed (or missed) the change in difficulty. Soon I noticed that the main thing I was missing was the increased gamer score that comes from achievements/trophies by playing on higher difficulties. Yet once my Xbox died I found that my gamer score number was becoming less and less relevant. As a predominately solo player with only a handful of regulars on my friend lists, what real point was there in bragging about a high gamer score?

Lately there have been numerous games that have come out where the game itself is more rewarding than the score achieved in the end. Games like Journey, The Walking Dead, Slither, Back to the Future, Amnesia, and Limbo have all been enjoyable without achievements or difficulty settings. Even Mass Effect 3 enabled players to choose a “Narrative Mode” which enabled them to enjoy the game with dramatically reduced combat so those interested in just the story could get through it easier.

In the end – I’ve decided to take a more conscious look at why, when and where I choose to be challenged in the games I am playing. Discovering that there are games out there that can be enjoyable without any actual difficulty settings or on easy mode has me enjoying more games instead of enjoying more of the same game I am playing (although spending hours to try and beat a challenge has rarely given me the sense of victory in overcoming it that it might for others).

ARTICLE: Learning To Love Easy Mode

Alien3 – Rediscovering a Masterpiece

The Aliens franchise is one of the longer running and most interesting scifi properties out there. It spans 4 dedicated films, 2 spin-offs, 1 pseudo prequel, hundreds of comics, a plethora of games, books, toys and more! When I saw Aliens I became an instant fan and never let go. My fandom went so far that my college film thesis was even on Alien (and a little on Aliens).

Most fans of the franchise focus only on Alien (Ridley Scott) and Aliens (James Cameron) and discard Alien3 (David Fincher) and Alien: Resurrection (Jean-Pierre Jeunet). After reading a few articles and rewatching the movie again, I’ve found new excitement around Alien3 and think you might too!

alien3-logo

Continue reading