My Super LE3T Feminist E3 Review

The following is a guest post by Zaewen:

Zaewen is a white, straight, cis woman and avid feminist gamer, with MMOs being her favorite genre. She has a degree in psychology, a Texas accent, and spends most of her free time playing games, reading blogs, and very occasionally doing some blogging herself. Zaewen hopes to one day get a PhD in awesomeness (or sociology) and do her best to help change the culture we live in.

E3, the gaming convention and showcase for gaming professionals, wrapped up late last week. I was a bit busy elsewhere, so this is going up a lil late, but hey it’s my blog and I do what I want :D So here are my reactions and thoughts to some of the games I saw in the coverage of the convention.

First, though, a word about the convention itself. Having booth babes is not in any way professional and is both degrading and alienating to the women who attend the expo and to the women in the gaming audience looking on from home. Having them there is a very loud and clear signal from the game companies themselves that says women only matter to them as a pair of boobs they can dress up in skimpy little outfits to sell games to hetero-men. And to the game journalism sites that exert a huge amount of effort to take photos and write articles about these women, almost as if they were a game to be bought and played with like the merchandise they’re hocking…. way to stay classy. It’s no small wonder that there is still such an entrenched atmosphere of open sexism in the gaming community with professionals and journalists like y’all.

With that said, onto the games!

Fable: The Journey

Apparently its a rail shooter type game that sounds absolutely boring and counter-intutive to the idea behind an Action RPG. I’m getting really tired of the male as default character too. You see it in almost every game that gives you the option to have a male or female character. The gaming companies apparently think that no one will want to play a game that has a female hero as default/canonical, so we get stuck with the white dude being the hero for the umpteenthillion time. Also, they never seem to like really advertising that you have the option between male/female even though it would probably get them a much larger audience if they really pushed that edge. Add to that the decline in progressiveness from Fable 2 to 3, and I am not optimistic for this one at all.


A screenshot of a roaring dragon perched atop a column of rock with a snowy mountain as a backdrop.

Pretty dragons!!

OMG pretty. So pretty. They’ve pretty much done everything they needed to do to make Oblivion 100x better and then they introduced DRAGONS. So much win. Only thing I need to know now is how the female Khajitt look so I can be even more psyched about playing the game. Yes, I want to be a cat dragon-born hero, leave me be.

3DS games announced: Star Fox, Zelda, Mario Kart, Smash Bros

All my favorite Nintendo games on a 3d handheld to be played whenever/where ever I want? Yes please! Now I just need to get my hands on a 3DS…

Batman: Arkham City

A screenshot of Catwoman. She has a sly smile on her face, her head slightly cocked, and is wearing a leather jumpsuit with the front zipper undone enough to reveal enough cleavage for us to be able to see the bottom curve of her breasts.

Holy Cleavage, Batman!

I love Batman and I love the first game, butwhat they’ve done to Catwoman in this game borders on making me not want to play the game. Their outfits and body proportions are absurd. Seriously, how do you get a leather catsuit that is so tight it gives you butt cleavage, and how does she managed to keep her breasts in with that huge slit down the front? I’ll still end up playing this (just because I’m such a huge Batman fan) and enjoying all the awesome combat, but I can guarantee you that I will be fuming every time the camera strays over Catwoman’s butt. She’s not an object to be lusted at! She’s the most badass woman in the Batman universe!

Zelda Skyward Sword

This looks great, the windwaker art style but sans boat and wind. Though it does have bird riding in it…. so we’ll see. Can’t we just recapture the awesomeness that was Ocarnia of Time again? Ooh, maybe they should just totally redo that game in awesome graphics mode (I know they’re doing it over in 3d, but just think of it the game with the graphics of Skyrim or something, that’s going on my gamer wishlist)

Mass Effect 3 (Trigger Warning for talk of rape in this section)

A screen grab of the Krogan Princess from the gameplay demo. It's hard to make out but she appears to be wearing an intricate metal headdress that covers most of her face, only leaving her mouth visible.

I'm not sure why she's wearing a veil... or why she's a princess that needs rescue...

This series has only gotten worse with the more exposure I have to it. When I first played Mass Effect it was awesome in its scope and story… then I got into the details of the races and background cultures (the Asari and Salarians) and it was suddenly not as cool. Then I heard tell of all the ‘goodies’ tucked away in ME2 (Miranda’s butt cleavage, Samara’s chest cleavage, the Krogan breeding/rape camp, the rape city mission, just all sorts of not good stuff) and the game lost even more of its luster. Now, ME3′s coming out and I’m just really hesitant to get excited about it at all. Especially since there’s some hubub going around about a Krogran princess from the game demmo(lemme guess, a mushroom tells Shephard that his princess is in another castl…err…breeding camp?)

Kingdoms of Amalur

This game looks and sounds like it could be either super awesome or super horrible. A game whose story is written by R.A. Salvatore, visuals done by Tod McFarlane, and the game dev behind Morrowind and Oblivion could be the most amazing game ever to grace our medium, or it could be one really polished and great looking piece of misogynist crap (niether Salvatore or McFarlane or particularly known for the feminist views). So far, I know that there’s the option for female avatars (not that they’re used in promotional material and not that this is specifically a problem with this game… like I said earlier, it plagues almost all games of this genre like Fable and Mass Effect), we’ll just have to see how it all works out. This is a game I will definitely be keeping tabs on.


When I first heard about the game I did an *eyeroll*, then after seeing some stuff about it I was a lil interested, then after seeing some more stuff about it I have reverted back to *eyeroll* status. The IP is not known for its progressive attitudes towards women in their universe. And tho Bioware has done some good things with the IP in the past, they’ve not been particularly good lately with their handling of gender, especially when it comes to character models or lore (just check out the huge racks and tiny waists on the women of DA2 or any of the backstories for the races of Mass Effect). None of the screenshots I’ve seen of the game give me a confidence that they’ll be giving us reasonable body proportions on the women, nor do the three trailers they’ve released. It is amazingly, disturbingly sad that the aliens and people with half their faces blown away look more human and normal/right (i.e. not smack dab in the middle of the uncanny valley) than all of the women in the trailers. It’s something about their eyes, the facial features, the airbrushed skin, and heavy amounts of makeup that just make the women look like amateur renders compared to the detailed and realistic looks of the men’s faces. Also, the fact that in all 3 of the trailers there’s only like 4 women compared to the roughly 100 men in each trailer. Ok, yea, that’s a slight exageration, but seriously… the ratio is very skewed and the women are very much tokens (of the ‘oh crap, all the jedi are men, guess we’ll make the bounty hunter you see for half a second me a woman) or scenery for the oodles of men to leer at.


The trailer for this looks pretty awesome but the same thing I said for Kingdoms of Amalur and SWTOR hold up here. The IP and lore is not exaclty renowned for its feminist ideals, but it could either be great or horrible, depends on the route they took. It seems like it’s going to be good, both in the gameplay and the not causing me to *headdesk*

Saint’s Row The Third

I’ve always preferred these games to the GTA series, probably because I get the option to be a woman (which is such a big plus), they’re not so full of white guys, and I like their humor a bit more. We still have to put up with quite a lot of sexist crap from them (see the link up above with the car wash booth babes and the numerous panty and boob shots in the trailer) but they usually give us more options to subvert it than other games. In Saints Row 2 I was a gang leader who swaggered and cursed like a sailor, but had a posh voice and was overly fond of cleavage shirts. Apparently, in this new game we get even more control over our character creation, and they add in a sex appeal slider. This, on women, is a boob slider all the immature boys in the audience can have huge boobs on their characters. This would usually get a gripe from me, but they went one step further, and made the slider on men affect how large their ‘package’ is. When I found this out, I could not stop laughing for a good 5 minutes. We usually only joke about this when people bring up boob sliders, the fact that it is now being given to us as an acknowledgement of the ridiculousness of boob sliders, is so unbelievably awesome.

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

This trailer surprised the heck out of me when I saw it. I played Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune just recently (yay gamefly!) and loved it…. minus the zombie parts, that scared the crap out of me. The characters were great and even though she was the only woman, Elena kicked major butt and didn’t take any shit from the guys (not that the guys gave any shit, they treated her more or less like an equal). The third apparently has three women in it, one of which is the bad guy and the other is what appears to be an even more badass Elena. I’m definitely down with that, so I’m going to have to sneak Uncharted 2 up on our queue and try that out asap!

Tomb Raider

A bloodied and dishelved Lara Croft, holding a torch aloft as she searches through a cave.

They really like beating her up in this game...

Ah, Tomb Raider. The *only* game with a female lead protagonist that I saw in all of the E3 coverage (if I missed some, please let me know, I’d love to be wrong about this), which is quite fucking sad. Pardon the cursing there, but seriously, that is some sad ass shit right there. We’re half of the population and 44% of the gaming audience, yet we only get one game that focuses on our stories out of a whole slew of games? Pathetic. Anyhoo, besides that BS, I’m not entirely sure that this reboot of the franschise will be a good thing. When watching the trailer and gameplay demo, I got a distinct Other M vibe from it. Maybe it was Lara simpering while she ran away from her chaser or the naive baby face they gave her, I dunno, but something about it is giving me the impression that this is not the badass Lara we all know and love. I know its a reboot and origin story for her, set in her first (mis)adventure. She’s just a kid, fresh out of college, and that what she goes through in the game are the events that make her into that badass we all know and love. I just can’t shake the feeling that this is going to be another Other M. I’m just going to have to hold off on making a judgement about it (again, would love to be wrong about this) till I play through the game.

Battlefield 3

Don’t have too much to say, other than this game is so realistic that its slightly disturbing to me as the wife of a combat vet.  ’Course he thinks its bloody awesome and is eager to get his hands on it, but I keep getting this image in my head that he’s one of the soldiers getting gunned down.  Also, when are they ever going to start adding in women soldiers to these military games that are set in the future like B3 (its set a couple years in the future, which at the rate things are going its quite possible we’d have them on the frontlines) is or MW3 will be (which is definitely set in the not-so-near future and has no excuse to not have women in them)? Come on, if Bungie could do it with Halo, certainly these games can manage it.

Assassin’s Creed 3

Love this series, can’t wait to try out this new one and the trailer is all sorts of epic. I’m kind of sad, though, that they decided to stick with Auditore’s tale throughout the last three iterations. I really liked the idea that the second game presented us with: that each new game would follow a different assassin from history, and thus that we’d get to see and be a female assassin, but alas that was not the case. Maybe after this one we’ll get to have the protagonist be a woman, pretty please Ubisoft? That would be totally awesome.

Rift Patch 1.3

Four Ascended heroes stand in front of Rift's new raid zone. A human woman wears a mage robe with ample cleavage showing and a belly window, a high elf woman wears an intricate plate two-piece set that leaves her midriff and legs bare, a human man wears a leather armor set that cover every inch of skin, and a dwarf man wears a long chain robe and pants ensemble that covers all but his face and neck.

The second to the left is plate... seriously, it is. Don't ask me how that's supposed to be good tanking armor. And yes, it actually completely covers men when they wear it.

Rift announced its 1.3 patch and I’m rather excited about it. We’re getting a new raid zone, guild banks, and a new type of rift event thing called slivers. The only thing I’m upset about is the new armor models that will be released with the patch (yes, I care more about the armors than class changes, class changes I can learn to deal with, sexist armor models I cannot). Apparently they either did not have the time to or decided not to take under advisement the plethora of criticisms they got about the female armor models. The new male armor models cover the men head to toe in really badass looking armor.  Meanwhile, the new female armors are all some form of bikini bottoms with chaps or leg warmers and tops that have some form of cleavage or belly windows involved. The female plate model has so many cut outs and is so short, I had trouble identifying it as plate armor at first *headdesk*. At least the designs on them still look pretty awesome, even though there is a whole lot less surface area for those designs to be displayed. It’s rather upsetting that there is the high probability that they saw the complaints about the female armor models (especially since they have been going on since the beta started back in December long before this patch was being developed) and decided to say ‘fuck you’ and made more of the same anyways. If they keep this up, the wardrobe function will not do us any good because there will be such a limited amount of non-revealing armors to choose from that the ability to choose becomes almost meaningless.

Dragon’s Crown

The Sorceress poses for her biographical picture in a low cut dress with high leg slits. She is contorted so that both butt and breasts are in view of the camera. She is pushing the skull of a skeleton into her ample cleavage and has her staff nestled very close to her butt crack.

She's got a skeleton shoved into her bosom and her staff is nestled between her butt cheeks....

Yea, this game gets a seriuosly big WTF from me. Its an animated, side scrolling dungeon romper…. with BOOBS. Lots of boobs that jiggle… and, as Wundergeek pointed out in her E3 review, because its aniamted the jiggle had to be drawn in…seriously WTF. And its not just a lil jiggle, the Amazon and Sorceress jiggle so much it made my chest hurt with sympathy. Also, talk about crazy ass proportions, they’ve both got hugely exaggereated body parts (butt on the Amazon and breasts on the Sorceress, although the Amazon still has quite a large rack and the Sorceress is well endowed in the rear too). Now, to be ‘fair’ the men are exaggerated too, but I’ll give you a guess as to whats not exaggerated on them…. that’s right it’s definitely not their penis or balls. No, its their biceps and shoulders which is tooootally equivalent to women having GG boobs or a butt the size on Montana. Men having exaggerated muscles != women having exagerated sexual body parts because the men are not being sexualized, they’re having their strength and power exaggerated. The women are having their status as sexual objects to be lusted after exaggerated which is not the same. At. All.

So that concludes my E3 roundup. I didn’t cover everything, no where near in fact, and most of what I covered was sadly things that caught my eye for being *bad* or *not good* from a feminist standpoint. Trust me, I would really, really love to see the day where I can pick out the things that are doing great on that front.

(Originally posted here)







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55 Responses to My Super LE3T Feminist E3 Review


    I loved Elena in both Uncharted games, though I never finished either because BOSS LEVELS? REALLY?. The other female character in 2 is a lot more sexualized, but Elena is back as her usual competent and rockin’ self, which makes the choice for the new character feel a LOT more acceptable. If only one of the female characters “chooses” to enhance her sexuality (while still remaining badass competent), it feels a lot less male-gazey than if all of them are.

    I loved Elena because she wears clothing appropriate to what’s going on (button-down shirt or tank top, depending on the weather, for instance). She has really realistic proportions, as does Drake himself. He’s Hollywood big, not video-game big. And the new character (whose name escapes me, too much good Canadian greenery I guess) is, while more curvey, definitely within the realm of quite realistic. Elena’s love story with Drake is well-handled, too, and reasonably realistic, to my eyes, anyway.

    But fucking boss fights. Gods, I hate boss fights, especially when they take all the rules you’ve been playing under, the skills you’ve been developing, and chuck them out for some arbitrary new system that’s done solely to make it harder because of unfamiliarity. It’s a cheap, stupid way to raise difficulty, and it always annoys the hell out of me. Both Uncharted games have done it. I really hope they don’t do it again for 3.

    Oh, and the zombies freaked me right the fuck out. Totally. Like, I was shaking, because it was so unexpected, and had to stop playing for a bit, turn the lights on, and get calm. Cause wow. They were the most wonderfully scary thing I’ve seen since the first DOOM, when just hearing the breath of the enemy coming behind you could give you a great creep-out.

    I hope UC3 will be up to the level of the first game.

    Thanks for the tip on Saint’s Row, by the way, I love the gameplay of the GTA games, but can’t stand the constant -ism fail. They do, at least, take plenty of shots at the power group, so rarely, they can actually claim that they do mock everyone and everything, it’s still so male-gazey and $BIGOTRY-ist as to be overwhelming sometimes.

  2. Callan says:

    Rape *city*? Mass Effect? What?

    • Zaewen says:

      I haven’t played ME2 myself (mostly because I keep putting it off because of all the bad stuff in it) so I don’t know all the details through playing the game, but Jacob’s loyalty mission takes you to a planet where the plant life dampens cognitive ability. A ship crashed there, the officer’s of the crew kept all the food for themselves, forcing the non-officers to eat the plant life. The female crew are taken advantage of and assigned to the officer’s like property.

      • Lina says:

        And everyone, including Jacob, finds it repulsive and Shep has the opportunity to off the man responsible, have him arrested, or leave him to the rioting men, who will definitely kill him.

        Why they don’t find salarian and krogan society repulsive, nor tell Miranda or Samara to get themselves proper armour rather than their catsuits is beyond me.

      • Deviija says:

        What I found more frustrating and annoying is that this loyalty mission (Jacob’s) had ample opportunity for FemShep to express her disgust at such a society/happenstance, but she retains the basic Shepard lines. I’m all for Shepard still being Shepard, regardless of sex, and keeping it that way… but when something like *this* rolls around, I would hope/expect to have some extra outlets or ways of expressing one’s repulsion at the situation (playing as lady Shepard, or allowing it for the audience playing lady Shepard).

        It just felt restrictive and irritating to me. One of Shepard’s line, the Renegade one, is for him/her to say something to the effect of, “Hmm, I can see the appeal of a set-up like this!” Basically meaning he/she can see the appeal of a rape city and abuse of power scenario… for an encampment of women… Having FemShep say that, too, just made me rub my head at a lot of fail thoughts it brought up for me.

        Another pet peeve? None of the other (lady) companions say a peep about the situation (re: rape city, abused women) while you are going through it either.

      • Callan says:

        It’s not a rape city. It’s a camp of stranded crew members from a ship.

        Rape is bad enough. The point stands on its own. Do we really need to exaggerate?

  3. UbiquitousGrue says:

    I don’t know that Rock Paper Shotgun’s article deserves to be lumped in with the others… if you follow that misleading link, it’s clear that they’re taking the piss out of the other websites.

    Otherwise, a nice little summary. I couldn’t muster any enthusiasm for the krogan princess in Mass Effect 3, myself, given that:
    a) she’s covered in something like (beg pardon) a burka for the section of gameplay shown at E3, which seems kind of a weird way to dodge making new models, and
    b) in said segment of gameplay she’s being referred to as the “future of [her] species”, and yielding placidly to being herded around, which doesn’t really give me much hope for any deconstruction of the whole, ah, breeding camp issue. (How is 28 Days Later the only example of a post-apocalyptic story where this sort of situation is presented as something inhumanly awful? >_>)

    • UbiquitousGrue says:

      Only example *I can think of*, even. (sigh)

    • Zaewen says:

      The Rock Paper Shotgun article (and the youtube vid linked right before it) are there to demonstrate the awfulness that is the way the people at the expo behave around the booth babes. They’re both humorous call outs on the way the the gaming professionals and journalists are acting very unprofessional.

    • Laurentius says:

      RPS is worthy place here as it shows what “industry professionals” (shown on the pictures ) are busy doing during E3…sigh…

  4. Rakaziel says:

    Saints Row 3 sounds good and leaves me conflicted. On the one hand it is the next generation of pure 2D games after sprites. On the other hand it is very cartoony with a side of porn. Might buy it though.

  5. Amanda Lange says:

    Ah, Tomb Raider. The *only* game with a female lead protagonist that I saw in all of the E3 coverage (if I missed some, please let me know, I’d love to be wrong about this),

    Ms. Splosion Man is looking pretty good. Like she’s really just enjoying the hell out of ‘sploding all over the place.

    • Twyst says:

      OVERSTRIKE. team of 4, 2 ladies – one of whom might be a POC, one POC dude and one white dude. With explosions and awesomeness. And New IP.

    • Zaewen says:

      Didn’t see either of those two games during E3 tho they both look interesting.

      Ms Splosion Man looks interesting and fun and I’d glad Tomb Raider wasn’t the only female led game shown at E3. Overstirke, while not female led, is awesome because it’s a team comprised of both women and poc and they’re not just as some form of token (like the typical 4-person team seems to always be two white guys, one poc man and a white woman). Goin to keep an eye on these games now, thanks for bringing them up!

  6. Deviija says:

    Thanks for the write-up. :)

    I too am one of the folks that is wary about ME3′s showing. A Krogan princess? Krogan have princesses now? She’s the key to the Krogan species’ future? So… she gets to be veiled and hidden, in need of rescuing, and also has to become the biggest breeding machine to help her species survive? God, I hope it isn’t something as horrible as that.

    Saints Row the Third. I’m super excited about. The customization factor and what it allowed for me to play as in the second game, with all the over the top action and hilarity, made it all the more awesome for me. So I am looking forward to that in the this game. Along with the laugh-out-loud Sex Appeal slider that affects dudes’ woohoos. A million kudos for this. If boob and sexualization sliders of any kind are there for women, then yes, there should be some for men. To show how ridiculous this stuff is.

    I’m disappointed that in some interviews there was talk of prostitutes and such, as if they’re only women, and like the PC cannot be a woman. I’d like it better if there were dude prostitutes. And for the emphasis on stuff like stripper pole crib upgrades and only women entertainers and sundry… Yeah, if I’m a lady PC, I’d like to have some subtle adjustments, or at least have it more equal opportunity business.

    Batman’s sequel? Over it. Catwoman’s design is rather destroying my interest in it.

    Lara Croft: Origins game… yeah, that showcasing at E3 made me cringe and shudder. It came off more as torture porn, abuse and assault violence, survival horror than anything empowering. Let’s see how badly we can hurt and beat up and have men (that have put her in bondage earlier) attack and drag/assault Lara! Let’s see her rip impaled objects out of her bloodied side! Let’s hear her scream and whimper as she falls and runs for her life. Meh. It’s not like male protagonist characters have these kind of fear-for-your-life survival origins.

    Maybe when the game shows off its ‘robust combat’ mechanics it will be… less depressing. As it is now, it just… is a big put off for me.

    • Agrona says:

      We don’t really know at what point in the game the Krogan princess thing takes place. I seem to recall some conversation options with Mordin in a trailer or gameplay demo (perhaps not the same one) that sort of implies she’s the absolute last female Krogan.

      It will be interesting to see how they play it.

  7. Alex says:

    Definitely play Uncharted 2!

    The gameplay demo for Uncharted 3 really blew me away. That ship! The rocking motion, with the chandeliers! The rolling car! OMG. Seriously impressive stuff, I can’t wait to play it. And I’m so psyched that both Elena and Chloe are back!!!!

    I am also ridiculously excited for Mass Effect 3. The ME series has… a lot going on. There’s both lots of good and a whole lot of bad. The good is mostly Commander Shepard, who is definitely one of the greatest female characters in gaming. The very idea of a Krogan princess sounds amazing to me, but everything else I’ve heard about that part so far sounds… bothersome. I refuse to believe BioWare would unironically put in a “rescue the princess” mission, but we’ll see.

    (Small correction: Fable: The Journey isn’t actually on-rails according to Molyneux, although apparently the demo looked that way and many people assumed it was.)

    • Zaewen says:

      I’ve got Uncharted 2 already on my gamefly que and will be playing the heck out if very soon!

      You’re right that the ME series, much like the Dragon Age series, does have a lot of pros and cons to it. I still plan on playing ME2 and ME3 one day, I just keep putting it off because I really don’t want to have to deal with some of the stuff that’s in it right now. But I do love playing as a renegade FemShep in ME1, though they keep putting in scenarios that I can’t help but go Paragon on like the Racknai (sp?) queen on the snow planet.

      And I saw that Fable:The Journey isn’t entirely on rails, there’s normal-ish play too, but I dunno, the demo just seemed blah to me.

    • Twyst says:

      Krogan Princess is a thing i want. SO. MUCH. the presentation of the Krogan previously as being warlike and unrefined etc., put up against the MOST refined concept – royalty and being a princess is wonderful to me. And of course, there is always a twist.
      I liked her brief reveal in the trailer too – and i totally support same/similar models because the gender dimorphism that appears in other games is terrible. No one wants a small-waisted “pretty” krogan. It also inspired: which, i dont know how i lived without.

  8. Alex Van Dorp says:

    I’m speaking from a position of white heterosexual male privilege here, and I’m going try and not let that interfere with my post, but if it does, call me on it, no offense will be taken, and if I offend anybody, it is due to my ignorance, not by intention.

    I think it’s interesting how hard you rail against the Mass Effect series. From what I’ve seen, BioWare is one of the only big devs these days trying to deconstruct traditional gender barriers in games. Offering LGBQ friendly options in a game seemed HUGE to me when I first read about it, because the entire video game industry is set out to capture my demographic. Are they being entirely radical? No. Are they even moving as quickly as they could? Maybe not. But they are indeed moving in ways that gives signals to me,as a young white male gamer, that I am no longer the only person playing these games. And that’s a very good thing! I’m entirely thrilled with FemaleShep in Mass Effect 3 getting her own trailer and spot on the box art. I think it sucks that such a small step is seen as such a big one, but it’s a small step for feminism, but a very big step for the videogame industry.

    As for the breeding camps and the krogan “princess” in ME3, the Mass Effect series has always centered around morality, and the consequences of the decisions you make. I think it’s supposed to be sad and disgusting that these breeding camps exist. Maybe as humans we acknowledge that, but maybe in an Alien society it is not seen as morally repugnant.

    I think it’s interesting that BioWare would include alien races that have practices that are seen as “bad” in our eyes.

    I hope ME3 takes full advantage of this and it’s not just “rescue the princess so a bunch a krogans can have her way with her” situation. Knowing Mass Effect, I think there will be some interesting decisions you can make in that situation.

    I’m going to my two cents in on the new Tomb Raider game now, and if I misstep, please feel free to call me on it.

    I think the old Lara Croft design is one of the silliest, anti-feminist, ridiculous characters ever created. Was it interesting to see a woman as a badass in the early 90′s? Yep. But she was a sex symbol, she was a fantasy, she was something to masturbate to and nothing more. No backstory, and she was entirely unable to be related to. I think the saying “women wanted to be her, men wanted to be with her” was grossly overused and relatively untrue. Maybe, I hope so at least.

    I think the devs of Tomb Raider have good intentions by moving out the sexist box Lara was confined to in the past. The problem is they might be moving into a new, relatively unexplored one with the new game. People might say “but it’s normal for men to get hurt in videogames heyurrrrr”, but I really can’t think of a game that puts as much emphasis on suffering as the trailer and early gameplay footage for Tomb Raider.

    Call me an optimist, but I think it would be amazing for Lara to start in this absolutely terrifying way, to eventually use her wits and strength to overcome her captors. I think that’s the purpose of the game. I think it’s about the development of this “normal” girl into an incredible gun-wielding, independent, smart, acrobatic badass. I enjoy games that put me in terrible conditions and make me work my up or out. Personally. But that is just me.

    I think the worst thing that could come from the game being a success (money wise) would be the industry-wide focus on visual elements of grit and pain, and less on story and gameplay.

    Who knows?
    Also, booth-babes are disgusting, yeah. But I hate when people call them sluts, whores, etc.

    They’re trying to get paid. It’s the people who hire them that are to be blamed, or shamed.

    I really hope I’ve come across and friendly and not racist, sexist, ableist in any way, because I love borderhouse and am so glad it exists.


    • Zaewen says:

      Bioware does do a lot of good when it comes to pushing the edge on being more inclusive, and I love them for it. It’s just that when the company that is supposed to be the best at these things still drops the ball in some pretty basic ways, it stings a little bit more than when companies not known for being inclusive-minded keep on being their fail-tastic selves. For me at least, for others it’s a different story and they can overlook it because of the good that games like ME and DA do, it’s just a personal matter of preference I guess

      As for Tomb Raider, I’m really gong to just have to wait and play the game to come to a conclusion about it. It could be a chance for us to see a woman finally get a decent origin story or it could be torture for the sake of torture.

    • Amy H. says:

      I actually really liked the Lara Croft direction. I definitely think the game is trying to break back into the survival horror genre which has been waning for awhile now. When you compare this game to, say, the SIlent HIll games, Resident Evils, Fear, maybe Left4Dead, Dead Space, etc., its fairly comparable, especially to the Silent Hill games, which was what it resembled most closely to me. In many survival horror games, the male protagonist does get hurt, show pain, runs away, shows psychological side effects including terror and so on. I think that this version of Tomb Raider fits in that genre.

      The way I see it is we have a privileged white girl venturing off for adventure (generally a colonialist experience aimed at experiencing the “authenticity” of the other) when things go horribly wrong and she has to survive in horrific and/or non-privileged conditions. Because we’ve been told, we know that she’ll come out on top and she’ll become an amazing archeologist (because she’s Lara Croft), but for the first time, I find the story of how she gets there to be interesting. There’s a lot of room in this telling of the story for feminism, I think. To me the reboot echoes the movie reboot of the Resident Evil games, where we see Alice develop into a really strong ass kicking woman after enduring a lot of pain.

      There’s potential there to screw it up royally, but there’s also a lot of potential there to do something really different in the industry. I don’t think it should be dismissed out of hand.

  9. M Caliban says:

    “Add to that the decline in progressiveness from Fable 2 to 3…”

    May I have some elaboration?

    • Zaewen says:

      I’ve got my reviews of Fable 2 and 3 up on my blog, if ya want to read through them. Basically its just that in Fable 2 we went from gender neutral animations and a wide-open relationship system with plenty of women characters to sexed up animations, hetero romance as an inescapable plot element (complete with fridging!), and very little women present as major characters.

      • M Caliban says:

        Thank you. I’ve not played Fable 2. I also didn’t know that the gender of the person you met in Fable 3 changed according to that of the Hero.

      • Trodamus says:

        I’m not sure if there’s something much later in the game, but if you’re talking about the intro when you’re still a prince / princess you actually have the option of kissing or hugging them, making your romantic interest or platonic friendship implicit depending upon your choice.

        I was enthused that my female Fable 2 character was looked upon as the Heroic ideal; I would have liked to know that she adopted the Fable 3 children as men never turned her crank.

        It’s still a good series…or was, until Journeys.

  10. M Caliban says:

    Sorry for the double post, I can’t edit my original.

    “[Catwoman]‘s not an object to be lusted at! She’s the most badass woman in the Batman universe!”

    I’m going to disagree with both these statements.

    ‘Badass’ is not what Catwoman is about. She’s not tough or aggressive and the reason she remained uncaught for so long is that she was far less likely to resort to violence than other villains. Yes, as she’s now a good guy, we have far more instances of her beating the shit out of people because it’s awesome to beat the shit out of people in comic book land, but that doesn’t wipe out 70+ years of character.

    Alternatively, Cassandra Cain as Batgirl was quite badass and they’ve tried to push Huntress into the badass role several times.

    I’m note this because I disagree with the violent = cool trend in general. In the mid to late nineties, almost every female comic character had to become this ultra-violent badass in some grotesque and sexualized parody of what male characters went through in the 80s. I watched Matrix!Supergirl growing spikes and raaaaage while Catwoman gouged people’s eyes out, and I was very pleased when Catwoman returned to a more thoughtful, cunning, and stealthy characterization.

    As for her being an object to be lusted at… yes, she is.

    Catwoman is no different than Bayanetta in this regards. She is character that’s always been intended as a romantic foil to Batman and a vehicle for the lusts of the presumed straight male audience. She is a femme fatale created in 1940, the same decade that gave us such classic characters as Phyllis Dietrichson (Double Indemnity) and Brigid O’Shaughnessy (The Malteese Falcon.)

    ‘Sexual object’ is as much part of Selina Kyle as ‘feminist icon’ is part of Wonder Woman.

    If I may be so bold, how each creative team interprets ‘Catwoman is sexy’ is one of the more illuminating aspects of the character. Part of your disappointment might be that for this game, the answer to ‘What makes Catwoman sexy?’ is ‘TITTIES!’ with a large side order of ass shots.

    • Zaewen says:

      Badass, in my vernacular, doesn’t neceassairly mean violent or ass-kicking, it just means really awesome. Which Catwoman definitely is, or at least the Catwoman I grew up with in Batman: The Animated Series. She may not have had all the detailed (and non-saturday-morning-cartoon friendly) history shown, but her personality still fit. She was flirtatious and romantically interested in Batman, but she was definitely not a sexual object. No woman is, or should be treated as, merely an object to be lusted at. She had agency and character and all the things Batman had that kept him from being an object.

      Sexuality may have been a large part of her (she was a dominatrix at one point after all) but that does not define her nor confine her to the status of object like she is in the Batman Arkham City trailers.

      • Michael says:

        I think the trailers for the new Batman game may be misleading people alot and are probably the result of a poor marketing campain. According to the demos of the gameplay that were going around the internet during E3 Catwoman is a playable character in the game and not just another npc. According to rocksteady on top of the batman story we’ll also see a story play out between Catwoman and Two-Face.

        From the demo it does seem that Catwoman gets captured by Two Face and is rescued by the Bat( yes I hate the princess trope as well) but hopefully this will play out the same way it does in most of the comics with Catwoman returning the favor later. As a long time Batman and Catwoman fan I’m just hoping they get the banter right.

        I hope I dont come off too much like an apoligist in this post. Im just so hoping this is a good game, loved the first one.

      • Seagloom says:

        As someone who also grew up watching Batman TAS I can still see where M Caliban is coming from. Catwoman’s proportions were no where near as exaggerated, and she was more about animal rights and crime than sheer sex appeal. That side of her did not surface in earnest until a much later episode when she tried to seduce Nightwing to turn him against Batman. What I took from that was a combination of Bruce Timm’s art style and his initial desire to play it safe. The show was marketed towards children; despite the thought provoking nature and maturity of several episodes.

        Comic book Catwoman had more of a defined sexual side that went beyond the typical all female superheroines and villains are well endowed cliche.

        I think the better example here is Harley Quinn. She was originally a BTAS character that became exceedingly sexualized in comics and then later, these games. Unlike Catwoman, she had no obvious sexual connotations until appearing in other mediums. Between her fetish outfit and massive chest size in this game, I find far more disappointment in her portrayal.

        • Stan says:

          I agree with your Harley assessment 100%. As much as I loved Arkham Asylum, I couldn’t help but be really bummed out by her “slutty nurse” outfit. At least they got her dialogue right though.

          For as much as Rocksteady’s really getting right with the Batman games, how they view women seems to be their biggest weak points. A real shame too, that may be the only thing really holding them back in my eyes.

  11. Noiresam says:

    What did you think of Bioshock Infinite

  12. Laurentius says:

    Rant alert.
    Everything I read and watched abort E3 actually made it really bad, so bad that in fact it delighted my inner self-hating gamer.

    About sexism and booth babes I guess I won’t be adding more then author but general lack of women protagonist, damn I’m literally dying of boredom seeing all these men and their jaw. C’mon, despite thousands words, games are generally about shooting and slashing baddies, why only men are allowed to this, yup there are no excuses for this, industry this has to change like right now. That leads to one big game starring woman: Tomb Rider, now when you see male hero so frighten, beaten and whimpering, well never! Whoever came up with these new ideas for Lara is plain sick.
    What’s more? Oh, continuations, literally almost all game shown are part two, three, four, bazillion, what a pathetic state of industry.
    Maybe something positive? Yup, technical prowess, indeed games looks great, no doubt, which leaves some questions though , how even in games so graphically pleasing like Uncharted 3, Nathan Drake can not run, that’s now how human being looks like when running, devs how can you not see this ?

    Extreme rant alert.
    Now pet peeve of mine indeed.
    Mass Effect 3 I’m so hyped for this game, it’s going to fail so big on so many levels that it will be so sweet to mock it ( ID4 of videogames ), ok I admit I got confused after watching Modern Warfare 3 and Mass Effect 3 trailers, well it’s like watching the same trailer twice, pretty weird stuff. So in both games we have Reapers/Russians/terrorists invade the Earth but Americans/Canadians shoot baddies down and Saves the Day. Can it get more stupid that this? I highly doubt it. Nevertheless there is one option left now- crossbreeding: only title question remains: DUM DUM 2013 This Fall: Mass Warfare 4 or Modern Effect 4 coming to your console! What the hell is going on with you Bioware, what now? maybe whole Normandy crew gather on the bridge and sing “Oh Canada” ? (One can only hope if this scene is not included in normal game it will come as a DLC). Really, I swear I hope that Reaper invasion happen before this game is out.
    Rant over.

    Seriously no game caught my attention in any positive way, nothing to keep on my radar, probably will be picking some these up, after all I an addict that need a fix of video gaming…

  13. 12Sided says:

    It’s probably a sad sign that I was actually happy with Catwoman getting away as unscathed as she did for Arkham City, considering what poor Harley was wearing in Asylum and is still leagues away from looking like a costumed villainess in City (I was actually pointing out to a friend that ‘hey at least she has Diamonds on her outfit this time!’ *facepalm*) But Catwoman was able to keep a full body catsuit! I’d love to zip it up, get rid of the breakable looking stilettos and have her wear the goggles over her eyes though. I was also over the moon that we’ll actually get to play as Catwoman since I was worried about her being a cameo-in-distress, being able to play as her definitely seems to communicate to the audience that she’s on the same level of competence as Batsy.
    Poor Harley still looks like a lost goth though, now she doesn’t even have her mask. I still shake my fist at the developers and will wish for better but I find myself happy that it didn’t come off quite as bad as I was expecting (incredibly low expectations… hurrah?)

    • “being able to play as her definitely seems to communicate to the audience that she’s on the same level of competence as Batsy.”

      From the review in Gameinformer, she’s more agile, doing things like leaping over people in fights, but is slower at getting around the city vertically (she has to climb, rather than zipping up), and has a smaller set of gadgets (though she starts with all of hers). Considering that most of my fights in the first one were mostly about not getting hit while hitting them, I suspect she’ll actually be more suited to my playstyle (whether that applies to you, I don’t know) – although she might not be able to pull off some of the things like swooping in and dangling people from gargoyles.

    • Deviija says:

      Indeed! The only (new) game that caught my eye during E3 was OverStrike. The trailer, humor, and minorities (two ladies and a black man), cooperative story play, and physicality of not only the male characters but the female ones as well, made it really interesting for me to watch. I’m pretty excited right now from how it sounds.

      Yes, the bug muscley fist-punchy leader of the group is a white dude (that has hair, at least). And yes, the ladies are in roles that can be stereotypical (one’s a lithe thief and the other a fiesty scientist-type), but the trailer made them out to be quite intriguing and appealing to me — especially in an ensemble group dynamic. It feels like it’s Firefly (humor, group dynamic) mixed with The Losers (band of misfits in high-tier organization, effective chaos). I’m keeping my eye on it.

      • Aaron says:

        White women are not minorities.

        • Twyst says:

          I am guessing that two minorities refers to Jacob and Naya. To me, Naya doesnt read as white, but I could be wrong.

        • Cole92 says:

          While white women are not typically thought of as minorities, they are classified as a minority group due to their status in society compared to white males (which we all know trumps all other groups when it comes to privilege). All women fall into the category of “minority” because of their social status. Race doesn’t nullify this, and as a white woman myself, I find your complete disregard of this fact offensive.

          • Deviija says:

            Thanks. I was going to point out similar (the key word being women), but I didn’t want it to potentially turn into a debate or argument over ‘minority’ status and privilege.

      • Twyst says:

        It reminds me heavily of Leverage, with Naya being very similar to Sophie, both with the same last name.
        The other thing a co-worker pointed out is that Izzy is the heavy hitter, which is usually a role played by a male character, which I thought was cool.
        I also like that the leader puts me in mind of Marvel’s Nick Fury (ex-commander of SHIELD).

        • Deviija says:

          Oh, I love watching Leverage! I can see bits of Sophie and Parker in Naya. Though honestly, the first ‘Deveroux’ character I thought of was Blanche from the Golden Girls. And then I amused myself thinking Naya was one of her descendants. ;) Very neat to know that Izzy is the heavy-hitter, though. I like.

  14. Hannah says:

    I am cautiously optimistic about ME3. I adore Samara and Miranda, and am hoping Kasumi will make at least a cameo appearance – I’m also delighted that Female Sheperd will finally get some artwork and marketing. I’m mostly concerned that they don’t mess things up with an annoying plot or an anticlimactic end; I wasn’t that keen on the ME2 finale.

  15. Seagloom says:

    Out of all these I find Dragon’s Crown most disappointing. My first exposure to Vanillaware’s work, back before they left Atlus, was Princess Crown. Despite a few iffy character designs and plot elements, it was a splendid Sega Saturn game with amazing 2D animation. Sadly, that team has clearly fallen very far since forming Vanillaware. The sorceress in Dragon’s Crown must be a hundred times worse than Galadriel’s sorcery mode in Princess Crown. A true shame because I love the idea of another D&D: Shadow Over Mystara or Guardian Heroes style game. Dragon’s Crown female character designs are so egregious, there is no I could buy it on principle.

    As for Neverwinter, I found its trailer disappointing. There were passive females galore. Aside from one or two instances of what I think was a magic user flinging a spell, it was like women only existed as eye candy. That scene of a magic user standing around while a blue dragon lands behind her was probably the worst. I understand they were going for epic and flashy, but it was pretty hard to ignore.

  16. lemurcat says:

    I got Ocarina of Time 3D on the day it was released, and I gotta say the graphics are not just 3D but a huge improvement over the N64 graphics. Pretty! Nostalgic! Awesome! Game of three features. (Although, well, still reflecting societal prejudices…)

    I still can’t wait to get my hands on Skyward Sword though.

  17. Greg says:

    Check out this review of the ‘classy’ fan art from Dragon’s Crown.

    Clearly the author has different views on what classy means.

  18. PlusSizedGamerWoman says:

    One game I am finding ridiculously offensive is Dungeon Siege 3 for the various reasons:

    1. Cheesecake armor out the ass: One character gets nekkid when she turns into a fire Avatar, while the other only female character wears a corset, while both men are fully clothed/armored.)

    2. “First Nation” peoples are the enemies. I’m not joking. The name of these enemies is “First Nations.” Shamans and barbaric warriors with clubs and spirit summoning powahz.

    Not ever going to touch this game with a 10 foot pole.

  19. Sarah says:

    Ooh, I hadn’t seen Skyrim when E3 was going on. Must check it out immediately. I did, however, notice Dragon’s Crown, and also had a gigantic WTF moment. Usually I trust anything that reminds me of Atlus, because Atlus produces Shin Megami Tensei and that’s a beautiful thing. But Dragon’s Crown just disappoints me. -_-

    Must say, majorly looking forward to Tomb Raider, regardless. :)

  20. i’m having a hard time reading through the comments today, but from what i noticed so far it hasn’t been brought up that the use of ‘crazy’ to mean outrageous or ridiculous is an ableist slur derived from mental illness and how our behaviors are viewed as ‘outrageous’ in comparison to society’s norms. just figured i would bring that up.

  21. Lima Zulu says:

    Zaewen, I saw your posts in the RIFT forums and I have to agree (and also say that you are wicked awesome). The amount of ignorance people on RIFT have is astounding. I have actually tried to explain this to people on Sunrest, my RP-PvP server. Does not work. They tell me I am being oversensitive and stuff. Just like the leader of a guild I quit because I repeatedly told him racial and ethnic and sexist jokes were absolutely unacceptable and if he wanted to keep me on, he’d have to stop. He told me to determine which was more important to me. Hahahahaha, what a douche.

  22. proletariat says:

    the mass effect veiled princess thing takes some explaining, so if you’re not interested in having the story spoiled, stop reading here.

    basically, the krogan were a fast breeding, militant race that were used by the other species in the galaxy as cannon fodder in a war against the rachni (starship troopers bugs, basically) but then started turning their new technology against the galaxy and were neigh on unstoppable until they were hit by a biological weapon which renders the vast majority of females unable to have children, which kept their populations down and therefore meant they were no longer a serious threat to the galaxy.

    therefore, fertile female krogans are pretty important in krogan society and are protected at all costs. by the way, the females actually issue breeding requests for those they see as the most worthy males, so it’s not exactly a rape camp!

    now, as this particular character goes, what has happened is that the scientist who engineered this bio-weapon has begun to regret his actions and is probably making some attempt to atone by developing a cure when the big bad attacks and starts wiping out these female krogans. therefore, saving her would be sort of a big deal, as the krogans have precious few fertile females to begin with, and the loss of just a few could well doom them to extinction.

    also they probably just veiled her because female krogans haven’t been seen thus far in the games, and they haven’t really decided on what they want them to look like.

  23. clarkjudo says:

    Unnecessary bare cleavage for Catwoman in the next installment of Batman. Your comments exactly. Being a guy, I still found it distracting and bothersome. Past depictions of Catwoman did not need this distraction of extra bare cleavage. To express her feminine side (not like a Prostitute). But I am seeing a theme here. Last Batman game produced from Rocksteady. Poison Ivy had the same details of unnecessary cleavage. I will be most likely hitting the B button (Xbox version) to skip through the cut scenes for the second time through. But will just need to look the other way in the first play through. So I do not miss any important information in the dialog.

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