What Are You Playing Wednesday

Rogue in World of Warcraft

Rogue in World of Warcraft

It is mid-week question time again:

  • What games are you playing this week?
  • Would you recommend those games to other Border House readers?
  • What games have you ranting?
  • Are any of those games listed ones that you want to see covered on the site?

This last week all I’ve played is World of Warcraft. I took a level 11 rogue up to level 41. I have had a lot of fun getting back into the game.

What have you been playing?

Posted in Off-Topic | Tagged | 11 Comments

What Are You Playing Wednesday

Repede from Tales of Vesperia

Repede from Tales of Vesperia

Hi all. Let’s go back to some regularly scheduled questions:

  • What games are you playing this week?
  • Would you recommend those games to other Border House readers?
  • What games have you ranting?
  • Are any of those games listed ones that you want to see covered on the site?

I’ve still been playing FFX HD Remaster. I broke that up with Tales of Vesperia and Tales of Graces f.

What have you been playing?

Posted in Off-Topic | Tagged | 11 Comments

Review of Date Warp: Silver Edition

 

A girl, Janet, and a boy, Bradley, are on a first date. The car breaks down in an isolated area. There is a mysterious home they walk to, in the rain, so they can get help. Sound familiar? Well, this Janet and Brad…ley don’t do the Time Warp; instead, they are caught in Date Warp, a visual novel by Hanako Games.

Janet is the main character of Date Warp

Although the game has “Date” in its title, Date Warp is not a dating simulation. After spending the night in Nathaniel’s mansion, an odd force field surrounds the home, preventing anyone from leaving. Janet and Bradley are trapped with four strangers: Nathaniel, the kind, sensitive owner; Rafael, the quiet, religious one who is loyal to Linds, a scientist with unorthodox methods; and Alben, the loner. The six of them must figure out how to bring down the force field. The major hurdle is trust. Nathaniel, Linds, Rafael, and Alben know each other and see Janet and Bradley as possible spies, sent there to thwart an important procedure Linds is performing. Continue reading

Posted in Casual Games, Indie Games, PC Games | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Kings of Pain: On Gender and Power in Shadow of Mordor

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from veteran game reviewer and critic Carolyn Petit, formerly an editor at GameSpot and who currently writes game-crit at her blog A Game of Me, where this piece is crossposted from.

This post “spoils” the plot of Shadow of Mordor, insofar as it’s possible to spoil anything that is so tiresomely predictable.

***

This isn’t what I wanted to write about Shadow of Mordor. I bought the game because I have an interest in Tolkien’s world and because, while the game is clearly lifting ideas and mechanics wholesale right out of other games, it also appeared as if it might have a few neat ideas of its own. I would love to be celebrating the game right now. But I can’t.

It honestly never occurred to me when I started playing that it might be, in its treatment of women, the most exasperatingly cliche, troubling video game narrative I’ve encountered in some time. I assumed that women would be largely absent, which wouldn’t be great, of course. But instead I got a game that goes out of its way both to repeatedly use women as victims whose fates are really only tragic because they leave an enduring suffering in the hearts of men, and to suggest that those women who are foolish enough to think that they can play a part as leaders and people of action in realms that are largely the domain of men have another thing coming.  Continue reading

Posted in Console Games, General Gaming, PC Games | Tagged , , , , | 15 Comments

What Are You Playing Wednesday

Shoopuf station in Final Fantasy X.

Shoopuf station in Final Fantasy X.

Hi all. Mid-week is here again:

  • What games are you playing this week?
  • Would you recommend those games to other Border House readers?
  • What games have you ranting?
  • Are any of those games listed ones that you want to see covered on the site?

This week I again played the HD remaster of Final Fantasy X. I got to the adorable scene where Kimahri explains about Yuna and her previous shoopuf adventures.  I laughed a lot!

What have you been playing?

Posted in Off-Topic | Tagged | 5 Comments

What Are You Playing Wednesday

Yuna performing the sending in Final Fantasy X.

Yuna performing the sending in Final Fantasy X.

Welcome to this week’s what are you playing segment.

  • What games are you playing this week?
  • Would you recommend those games to other Border House readers?
  • What games have you ranting?
  • Are any of those games listed ones that you want to see covered on the site?

This week I played the HD remaster of Final Fantasy X. It has been nice to go back to that world and story (despite my dislike of Tidus).

What have you been playing?

Posted in Off-Topic | Tagged | 9 Comments

Violett – An artful adventure game

Violett is a PC adventure game from Forever Entertainment (available on Steam and as an Android or iOS app).

Art style: After finishing the game, this remained the most striking aspect. The surreal environments are beautiful to look at and feel like walking into an Alice in Wonderland environment.

Starting scene in Violett. She is trapped in a cage and needs to escape.

Starting scene in Violett. She is trapped in a cage and needs to escape.

Gameplay: Simple, logical puzzles dominate the gameplay. While exploring the world, the player also picks up little orbs of different colors. These orbs seem to serve no function as you collect them, but then become extremely important in the very last segment of the game.

Dialogue: The characters in the game speak in a gibberish language with images that appear above their head to give the player an indication of what they are saying.

Description of marmoles in Violett.

Description of marmoles in Violett.

Story: Most of the story is hinted at with a fast cut scene at the start of the game. You know that the main character is a disgruntled teenaged girl, who finds an amulet that teleports her into this fantastical world. Once there, she is imprisoned by a Spider Queen. The characters within the world are discussed in diary pages that give some flavor to the atmosphere.

Unfortunately, the story has little depth. I wish that Violett’s relationship with her family had been examined in more detail. That relationship is hinted at, but never fully explored. Similarly, the player gets a hint of the surreal world but Violett’s reaction and interactions with it are not emphasized. The real heart of the game lies in the puzzles.

Boss battle: Of note, there is a boss battle at the very end of the game. It is very different than the gameplay anywhere else in the game. It requires the player to have collected many of the hidden orbs, but this fact is never explicitly stated until the battle begins. This one section feels at odds with the rest of the experience.

 

Overall, the strengths of Violett lie in the beautiful art and clear puzzles. If you are looking for a game with those highlights, then I would recommend it as a nice ~4 hour experience.

 

Posted in PC Games | Tagged , | Comments Off

What Are You Playing Wednesday

My arcanist in Final Fantasy XIV

My arcanist in Final Fantasy XIV

It is late on a Wednesday and time for What Are You Playing:

  • What games are you playing this week?
  • Would you recommend those games to other Border House readers?
  • What games have you ranting?
  • Are any of those games listed ones that you want to see covered on the site?

I have been playing a lot of RPGs recently. I played Final Fantasy XIV, Final Fantasy X (HD remaster), and Tales of the Abyss.

What have you been playing?

Posted in Off-Topic | Tagged | 16 Comments

What Are You Playing Thursday

The city of Chicago, as portrayed in Watch Dogs.

The city of Chicago, as portrayed in Watch Dogs.

Welcome back to our weekly question time (belated version):

  • What games are you playing this week?
  • Would you recommend those games to other Border House readers?
  • What games have you ranting?
  • Are any of those games listed ones that you want to see covered on the site?

I’ve been both busy at work and sick recently so I haven’t been playing many games. But, I did get in some time with Watch Dogs. I am progressing faster now that I lowered the difficulty to Easy. The game was just not clicking well with me on Normal.

I am ready to get back into some RPGs so I anticipate that I’ll be playing some Tales of Vesperia this week.

What have you been playing?

Posted in Off-Topic | Tagged | 10 Comments

Gamer shame

This is an extract from Delay: paying attention to energy mechanics, which is currently available in a bundle alongside a book by Anna Anthropy and a collection of Five Out of Ten issues, and other things besides. You can pay what you want for that bundle until Wednesday 10th September.


Why do we feel ashamed of gaming? In a talk at Queerness and Games Conference in 2013, Samantha Allen suggested that at least part of the answer lies in “reproductive futurism”. The mother admonishing her children for spending all their time indoors playing games worries that this pursuit will prevent them from finding partners and having children of their own. In so many stories told in podcasts and on internet forums, the shameful gamer knows that they have redeemed themselves when they spend less time dungeon crawling and more time walking in the park with their romantic partner and/or children. Earlier I said that the idea of the ‘real world’ is normative rather than descriptive. Allen calls the ‘real world’ a ‘heteronormative social economy’ consisting of ‘socially sanitised forms of intimacy’.

That is to say, maybe gaming is shameful because it is counterproductive to childbearing. For all the misogyny in the boys’ club of gamer culture, and despite the ascendant social position of the geek in a capitalism increasingly dependent on the information economy, the geek is still a cultural symbol of failed masculinity: ‘Betas’, as the Amazon TV series puts it. Meanwhile, women in geek culture are dismissed and harassed, called ‘fake geek girls’ because their perceived success at feminine performance is considered incompatible with hobbies such as gaming, or anonymously derided as ‘fat, ugly or slutty’ because their participation in gamer culture indicates a failure to conform to normative femininity. Gaming too much makes us less desirable as heteronormative men and women. It’s little wonder that the games with energy mechanics, a built-in reminder to take us back to the real world and away from self-gratification, are often targeted at a stereotyped image of women as caregivers to children.

In psychology, shame is an example of ‘affect management’. It is a feeling we get in response to another feeling. When we enjoy something but we have been taught that it is wrong, we feel shame. Our drive toward something we need is halted by a complex that developed as we were growing up.

Queer theorist Eve Sedgwick wrote about shame in the context of the cybernetic. Shame is felt when a social circuit is broken between one person and another. Perhaps someone fails to mirror your excited smile as you tell them about a game you enjoy. In that moment, you realise that your enjoyment is not approved of, and you feel shame. Shame operates when a barrier comes down and prevents us from exploring further. Sedgwick highlighted this in the context of a break in the flow of nonverbal communication, but I would argue that we can see it at work in the cybernetic feedback loops between a player and game software. The paywall feels shaming: the game stops affirming your indulgence, and blocks you from exploring further.

Shame manages our consumption of pleasurable things. It tells us when to stop, or at least, when to conceal what we have been doing. Flipping the script on the narrative that told us that those things are shameful feels liberating. Consumerism is often about buying into the reclamation of something that was taken away from us when we were socialised to behave in acceptable ways, or buying our way into a social context where the rules don’t apply anymore.

The most obvious examples of shame-denying consumption relate to sex: not just strip clubs or hostess bars, but burlesque classes, and pretty much any nightclub. Pride events, which transmute shame into its opposite through ritualised solidarity and defiance, have been roundly criticised for their rampant consumerism. As Allen put it in her talk, they “try to sell our own identities back to us”, and they get to do that because those identities were taken from us when we were shamed by a society that repudiates us. Consumerism is used to heal other kinds of shame too: going out for a drink with friends is acceptable, but drinking alone is not; I pay extra for the social context that grants me permission to misbehave.

Shame is not just a private experience. It organises our social groupings: in Gay Shame, David Halperin calls it a “solvent of identities”. Sally Munt argues that specific patterns of ‘affect management’ — the processes by which we deal with our desires and fears — form the basis for our sense of cultural affinity with other people. Our friendships and alliances are built with people who have similar ideas about what is shameful.

Most gamers don’t agree with being shamed for playing a game for a long stretch of time. When a game stops affirming their indulgence, the shaming feels aggressive. Games are programmed with patterns of affect management, and the energy mechanic often represents a pattern that is incongruent with hard-core gamers’ values. If there are players who do not feel irritated by energy mechanics, it may be because the pattern of affect management that it represents is reflected in their own value system. They feel a sense of cultural affinity with the game.

References

Eve Sedgwick and Adam Frank (1995) ‘Shame in the Cybernetic Fold’, Critical Enquiry 21
David Halperin (2009) Gay Shame, University of Chicago Press
Sally Munt (2008) Queer Attachments: the cultural politics of shame, Ashgate Publishing

Posted in General Gaming | 7 Comments