Across the Divide: 6/23/2011

Before I get to the links, I wanted to bring our readers’ attention to a fundraiser for the Sylvia Rivera Law Project that is being organized by TBH author Quinnae. SRLP is “a nonprofit legal aid organization that helps low income trans people of colour and tries to amplify their voices through advocacy work,” Quinnae writes. Please take a look and consider donating to this important project, if you can. And please help spread the word–there are only seven days left for the fundraiser.

On Geekdom and Privilege: Should We Really Feel Pity For The ‘Pretty’? (Racialicious): “Despite that fact, businesses haven’t just been ignoring female consumers, they have been telling their clienteles that “hot girls” can’t be geeky, and telling them that geeky women have to be “hot” for their opinions to matter, or to be taken seriously as characters across the media spectrum. Movies like She’s All That and television shows like The Big Bang Theory depict female geekdom as something that is Not Normal, something they must be “cured of” before they can be accepted into society at large.”

Analysis: The State of Games For Social Good in 2011 (Gamasutra): “Games like this are also useful education tools in the classroom, but in general change games have had to be applied prescriptively to specific audiences. Making them impactful, inviting or accessible to audiences that would not otherwise take an interest in a global issue has been an ongoing challenge for those working in the space.”

Asari: Bluer than your matriarch’s Orion slave girls! (Retconning My Brain): “My point is that even if the asari have only one sex and one gender inside their fictional universe, and even though they say that human gender concepts don’t apply to them, BioWare wants us to think of them as feminine unless they are in masculine roles (the head of a criminal society or a known character’s “father”), and BioWare very clearly makes them appear female.”

The Trap of Representation (Gaming the System): “From my perspective, if we are to adequately describe and transform how race is communicated in videogames, we need to focus our attention on how representation is structured, and the politics of production behind this structure. Without an eye to the underlying causes of inequities in representation, our critiques of stereotype, or calls for multi-racial/ethnic/cultural equity will be severely limited in effect.”

The Gamer’s Gaze, part 1 (Your Critic is in Another Castle): “In gaming, the camera’s gaze and the characters’ get tangled together, because we aren’t just viewers, but players. We take on the role of someone in the story, and the camera serves as our eyes. Male characters tend to be the point-of-view characters, even in a third-person game. We watch what interests them. Miranda’s deliberately putting herself on display for Shepard. This makes the moment of male gaze particularly jump out if you’re playing a female Shepard, as then the on-screen dynamics feel misplaced, rather than feeling like a default.”

Shepard ain’t white: Playing with race and gender in Mass Effect (Two Whole Cakes): “When Brown Lady Shepard is rude, or curt, or dismissive, the reactions she receives from others are not to her gender or her race, but to her words. Why? Because the character was written with the expectation that most people will play it as a white dude, a character for whom reactions based on gender or race are inconceivable. He’s “normal”, y’see. In real life, and in most media representation, we are culturally conditioned to respond differently to a big ol’ white dude with no manners than we do a woman of color doing the exact same thing. The white dude is just a jerk, but there’s often a built-in extra rage factor against the woman of color, for daring to be “uppity”, for failing to know her place. This distinction is often unconscious and unrecognized, but it’s there. In Mass Effect, no matter what my Shepard says or does, not only is the dialogue the same as it would be for the cultural “default”, but the reaction from the other non-player characters is the same.”

Music and sound in Portal 2 (Cruise Elroy): “This piece has what I would call a primitive electronic sound: simple waveforms are spread into octaves-wide arpeggios, with a sparse arrangement and raw timbre. In this way, the music is more effective as sound qua sound than as a composition: its harsh, antiseptic quality reflects Aperture Science’s ethos, and the erratic buzz of the synthesizers evokes the facility’s disrepair after years of neglect. In other words, it leans towards the violet or “encoded” end of the spectrum even though it’s ostensibly musical.”

Report: PopCap buyer is EA (Edge): “TechCrunch broke the news that PopCap was in talks over a $1 billion acquisition last night, and has since been told by two sources that the prospective buyer is Electronic Arts, and that talks are at a late stage. This would be a risky move for EA – the purchase price would be 13 per cent of its $7.49 billion stock market valuation – but not inconceivable given PopCap’s success relative to that of Playfish, which EA acquired in 2009 for $400 million.”

4 thoughts on “Across the Divide: 6/23/2011”

  1. Heh, judging from what was written in “Shepard ain’t white: Playing with race and gender in Mass Effect” I’m guessing that the Mass Effect series are the only rpg games (or rpg-like games to be exact) that the author of that article has ever played.

    It is a normal thing in most rpgs that you can customise your character’s (or characters’ ) appearance to your heart’s content and that NPCs don’t care about it. It’s strange that the author mentions only Mass Effect (and calls it revolutionary!), as if this franchise was somehow exceptional in this regard.

    1. Because it actually is, it’s not and rpg with customizable protagonist like many, it’s an rpg about Shepard that can be partially customized, it’s something different then for example Fallout3 or KotOR.

      1. When it comes to customization, the only difference between Mass Effect and other rpgs is that in ME you cannot choose the character’s name. Everything else is the same.

  2. Came across this line in The State of Games For Social Good in 2011: “Free of the bounds of race, gender, language and nationality, players can use games to express themselves as they feel they really are, not as they’re seen.”

    Because, you know, your race, gender, language and nationality have no impact or influence on who you “really are”. Also, when everyone assumes you’re the default straight, white, etc. male unless stated otherwise, I can’t really say that means that you’re “free” from these parts of your identity so much as they are erased and assumed not to exist or be important.

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