What Are You Playing Wednesday

Liara T'Soni. An asari from the Mass Effect games. She is an accomplished scientist, information gatherer, and biotics user.

Regular readers, you know the drill! Newcomers to the site, every Wednesday we ask the same set of questions here at The Border House.

  • 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 was all about Mass Effect 3 for me. I was able to finish the game. In the end I love so many things about Shepard and her journey. I adored my romance with Liara and moments with Garrus were truly touching. I am still processing it all, but overall I loved the series.


So what games have you been playing this past week?

86 thoughts on “What Are You Playing Wednesday”

  1. I’ve been playing tons and tons of Tales of Graces f and it’s quickly becoming my favorite Tales game. It reminded me that JRPGs used to be really funny instead of all dark and serious.

    Other than that I’ve been playing the Mass Effect 3 multiplayer every once in a while. Don’t really do it that much since I’ve finished up everything else in the game, but my friends keep drawing me back.

    1. There are so many RPGs coming out this year! I will eventually pick up Tales of Graces f but I have had to wait on it and FFXIII-2 for now. I am glad to hear that people are liking it.

    2. I’m really confused about how to feel about Graces f. I haven’t played it yet myself, and between the release of the Wii version all the way to the announcement of us getting f, my emotions have been all over the place with it.

      Some of the character relations feel like they both me a bit, and over all, I feel like some of the Tales games have been simply too heavy on the melodrama lately, but how light-hearted and fun Graces f looked, especially the way certain characters interacted, just looked like so much fun. I want to support it and the series in general, but I don’t know what to think or feel.

      If I may ask, how far in are you, and how do you feel about the story and characters so far? (And the world too, actually.)

      The ToD costumes really pushed me to want it, but I still don’t know if I should get it.

      1. The story is really lighthearted and personal compared to Tales games so far. I’m about 40 hours in and not even really far into the story, apparently. The battle system is one of my favorites and the characters are hilarious! It’s seriously one of the funniest Tales games I’ve ever played.

        The only thing I don’t like is the lack of in game costumes and the focus on DLC costumes. Most of them are pretty expensive for like, 4 dollars a pop.

        1. Oh, that’s interesting. It’s certainly a bit longer than I thought too, which is a bonus. That sounds nice. I’m going to look into giving it a chance then.

          I notice people mentioning that too. That is very disappointing.

  2. STILL playing Lost Odyssey. Onto disc four now, but it seems the last owner didn’t take good care of it, and every few times I play it, it crashes. Oh well, the perils of used purchases.

    1. I looooooooove Lost Odyssey! It’s one of the best games for the 360 hands down. One of the very few games to outright make me cry.

        1. I was genuinely surprised by how well they’re written. My intial thought was ‘urgh, walls of text! I want to get back to the game!’ but then I’d get totally engrossed in them. They really add depth to Kaim, as well, who I like as a protagonist, and keep finding myself swooning over him a bit.

  3. We have two missions to go in Mass Effect 3, and I just started Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor, which I had pre-ordered but just never gotten around to playing. It is fun so far, although the lone female character (so far) with more than two lines is frustrating in that particular “we are portraying a specific type of high school girl” kind of way where her reactions are very realistic (I do remember being like that at sixteen), but you wish she’d just stop complaining and get things done.

    I’m still plinking bravely along in Final Fantasy XIII-2, although I got completely distracted by one of my favourite things on TV (The Good Wife, which is an incredible and incredibly well-written show, and which I was ten episodes behind on) so that sort of fell by the wayside.

    1. I played a bit of Devil Survivor Overclocked last year and man, I just couldn’t get into it. Would love to hear your thoughts once you’ve spent a bit of time with the game. I made it through Day 3 and put about 15 hours into it but now that the 3DS library has started to pick up a bit, it’s been shelved in favor of other games for the time being. It was my first stab at an SMT game and I’m wondering if maybe this series just might not be for me.

      1. Olivia,

        I’m enjoying it all right, but I wouldn’t recommend it for a newcomer to the series. If you want old-school dungeon-grindy SMT, then Nocturne or Strange Journey (PS2 and DS respectively) are good. Personally, I’d recommend Persona 3 as the introductory game; it’s really hard but oh, my gosh, it’s so rewarding and the characters and relationships are amazing. If the teen vibe is off-putting, then I’d say Digital Devil Saga 1 would be my recommendation. I’m enjoying Devil Survivor, but I’m already a veteran of five other SMT games, most of which have things to recommend them above what I’ve seen of Devil Survivor so far.

        1. Sorry for the late reply! I thought I’d subscribed to this thread but hadn’t for some reason. I actually just picked up Persona 3 for my Vita early last week but haven’t gotten that far yet. One of the things that I really didn’t like about Devil Survivor though is the demon fusing, which I think is a staple of SMT games? The mythology was also pretty uninteresting to me as well, but I’m definitely willing to give this series/Persona 3 a fair shake!

          1. The fusing is a staple, yeah, but in Persona 3 it’s a little less…final? You can register your demons to a compendium and then if you fuse one into something, you can just buy it back and have both the fusion result AND your original demon. Levelling up your demons isn’t usually a good use of your time; you’ll get much better return-on-investment by fusing them into higher-level ones, most of the time. Demons need way more XP than humans to level up.

            I’m into Day 2 of Devil Survivor now and I don’t think it’s going to be one of my favourites. P3 is much less with the Judeo-Christian God thing than either Strange Journey or Devil Survivor.

          2. I’ve only played Persona 3 Portable (PSP) and SMT: Strange Journey (DS), but I think demon fusion is pretty much a staple of the SMT series. If you really don’t like it, maybe this series is not for you? Maybe Devil Survivor‘s is slightly different though, I couldn’t say.

            The mythology background is also a staple of SMT games, but that’s mostly confined to the demon compendium, there to be read if you like, but almost completely optional.

            That said though, the two games I played were very different. Both are RPGs, but SMT: SJ is a dungeon crawler à la Etrian Odyssey (though with a more scripted story), while P3P is much more focused on social interactions with the other characters. It could be said to have some VN stylings in that regard. SMT: DS seems to be more of a strategy game, so probably different from the other two.

            I hope you like P3P though. I enjoyed it a lot because of the female main character and the social interaction nature of the game, and despite the dark setting (not a spoiler, I think, for this series).

  4. I’m playing Mount & Blade: Warband, trying to get my totally-not-Susan-Ivanova a fief of her own. The ultimate goal, of course, is to rule over the entire land with an Iron Fist of Justice, but getting some land is a good first step.

  5. Still playing with Skyrim and Victoria II: A House Divided. Brainstorming a queer history mod for Vicky II. And I’m definitely waiting a few months for a Mass Effect 3 sale, maybe even longer after reading a statement from the co-founder of BioWare.

  6. So much Skyrim! I’m still so burnt out over the ending of ME3 (I can’t even log into SWTOR or anything Bioware), so the sandbox of Skyrim has actually been relaxing and enjoyable! My awesome roguish lady Imperial married Jenassa this weekend and joined the thieves’ guild!

  7. I’m continuing to play Grandia on the PSP, mostly evenings, since work is often so busy that I forget to take breaks :?

    It is a fun game, but the characterization is }:< annoying.
    Accomplishments are clearly team efforts, but everyone and their dog is exclusively fawning over Justin. Justin himself is being a total jerk by ignoring everyone but himself.
    Feena was introduced as a kickass adventurer who went out into danger and brought home the bacon, with toppings. Right after that though they made her fall for some lies that even a little kid would see through and reduced her to a distressed damsel. She's been brainwashed into the Justin cult ever since.
    And then there's Gadwin & Justin's "man to man promise", totally ignoring the fact that half the team are women, and that they do way over half the work (due to my grinding their magic and weapon proficiency).
    I want to strangle Justin and dump his body in a swamp, but the game won't let me :(

    1. I feel so iffy about Grandia. On one hand, I feel they really show us what an idiot Justin is at times, and I like that Sue is a good friend to him, but is capable of not being a Justin cultist (well, for where I am). I was disappointed in Feena though. She is way too dependent on him. Now, if this comes to be that she was losing her sense of adventure for a bit and being with these two helped restore it, I could kind of buy her over the top faith/dependence on him, but meh.

      But yeah. Justin isn’t much fun for me usually. Sue is definitely my favorite so far, but I’m scared that she’s going to leave the party soon or something.

      1. Yeah, Sue is about the only one who calls out Justin’s flaws, but she’s pretty much ignored by the others.

        *spoiler warning*

        Yes, Sue will leave the party soonish, and in a rather silly because-the-plot-demands-it way. Gadwin’s leaving I could believe. He obviously joined just for a short while. Sue though has been a core part of the team since the start of the game. It doesn’t matter how high you grind her stats, she gets put on a bus just the same.

        1. Dang. And she’s gone for good? ;A;

          I feel a little less inspired to finish the game if so, but I told myself I’d beat it before I return to the others and start Xtreme. . .

          I’m really going to miss Sue. (I am focusing on grinding her stats the most too. /sigh)

  8. Playing the same things this week as last. Making slow-but-sure progress on Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. Just Scholia Arcana to finish, and the main questline bits to do, in Plains of Erathell, then it’s time to head to the desert to the south.

    I’m almost finished with Trinity Universe (PS3), with just a couple of chapters to go. Once you’ve seen all the tutorials, you’ve learned as much about the game as there is to learn, and it’s all grinding and recycled bosses from there. At least it’s short and kind of cute.

    Legend of Heroes: A Tear of Vermillion (PSP) has a terrible translation, though lines like “humble and bracing young men” bring on a giggle now and then. I finally mananged to push past the boring section I’ve gotten stuck at a couple of times before, and from there it’s been decent low-grade entertainment. It’s kind of funny that the NPC girls are falling all over the healer guy instead of the main character.

    I’m looking forward to finishing one of these so I can move on to the copy of Tales of Graces f that we got last week!

  9. Playing Journey! So pretty! Same iOS games I have talked about before on WAYPW posts. And I picked up Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City. After playing so much ME3 multiplayer, I am a little turned off and bummed out by RacCity’s controls and mechanics… it’s worrying.

    There is something else I wanted to mention, so pardon the slight sidetracking from ‘game playing.’ The Secret World is a game I have been waiting for for a long time, it’s something that I really wanted to get into with its theme and myths and paranormal modern day setting. There are three factions (Clans) a player can choose from in chargen – The Illuminati, The Templars, and The Dragon. Yesterday they released a little GDC trailer for the introduction of The Dragon Clan. It caused my interest in the game to plummet.

    Here is the video, jump to minute 5:

    In it, we see the Dragon Clan Lady talking to the lady PC, your character. Aside from playing up the exotic asian seductress trope, this Dragon Lady proceeds to have sexual relations with your PC in cutscene. It doesn’t matter if your lady PC is heterosexual, it happens regardless of choice and roleplay opportunity. You have no input. You cannot interrupt the scene, stop the scene, change the scene, assert your roleplay opportunities, have the game change depending on your sexuality; nothing. Now, having games – particularly MMO’s – recognize same-sex players and characters and giving content for them is great, but once we take out CHOICE it turns into a wholly different issue. It irritates me to no end and is upsetting.

    So every Dragon Clan PC is introduced to their clan by, what, being forced to have oral sex with this woman, whether their PC is male or female, regardless of orientation or consent? What kind of intro is that?

  10. Still slogging through ME3, with a brief interlude for more Dark Souls.

    Speaking of which, I know I’ve alluded to it before, but you guys really need to do a “Doing it Right” article for Dark Souls. It does everything right from a character customization point of view: you can choose any skin colour or facial features you want (including a sliding scale of masculinity and femininity – meaning you can play a female character with 100% masculine attributes or vice versa). You can also select from a range of body types equally open to both genders, ranging from “very slim” to “very large”, which – gasp – look similar for both. You can even select “top-heavy” or “bottom-heavy”, for both.

    Plus both wear exactly the same armour and clothing. Exactly the same. Which means that not only can you make a female character who wears badass spiky armour with no platemail bikini bottoms or requisite cleavage window, but you can play a male character who wears skirts and elbow-length gloves.

    There’s no fanfare about it from the developers and no protests about it from the players, either. It just is. And it sells brilliantly – making moot all of the arguments that game developers “have” to provide fanservice to push product. No, no they really don’t. They just have to make great games.

    1. Oh my goodness me, you have no idea how excited I am that Dark Souls is (probably) being ported to PC now!

    2. That sounds really good, and it isn’t something I’ve heard in various praise-this-game articles or videos before. But I think I’d get nightmares from a game that kills me every other step. ;)

    3. Agreed. It deserves recognition for the armor design, in particular! (Demon’s Souls, too)

    4. Oh, cheers for posting this! I’ve not really ready anything about Dark Souls other than how difficult it is! A good character creation engine can sucker me into playing any game, especially if it lets me make a male musclebound hunk in a nice dress.

      I think my brother has this game? Well, I know what I’ll be borrowing next time I visit him!

      1. Impressively, there was no fanfare on the part of the developers about the breadth and equality of their character design, and nor was there protest on the part of their player base. Everyone just treated it as a matter of course.

        One can only hope, one day, that it’s a matter of course in all games.

    5. Wow, I too hadn’t heard anything but “prepare to die a lot” about Dark Souls. Reading this makes me genuinely interested in it, though.

      As someone that grew up getting knocked into holes by parabola-following Medusa heads over and over, it’s kind of funny to realize I’m intimidated by Dark Souls for being hard. :)

      1. It’s hard, but fair. I know you’ve probably heard that many times before with respect to the game, but it really is the best way to summarize the difficulty level. If you play cautiously and make full use of the resources available to you, you’ll make it through. Nothing is impossible, or even just plain cheap. Hard, though, definitely. And you will die a lot. They are not sparing with the one-hit-kill attacks.

        1. See, that concept fascinates me and is what got me interested in the first place. As someone with anger issues, I do enjoy that with most modern games I can set it to easy and be assured I’m not going to get stuck anywhere, screaming at my TV and trying hard not to throw the controller (stupid, stupid Skyrim snowy saber cats gahhh).

          But at the same time, I do enjoy feeling challenged. One of my few issues with the Half Life 2 games is the number of times NPCs feel the need to tell Gordon, ergo the player, “Great job! You’re amazing! Backrub, Mr. Freeman?” because at a certain point it started to feel patronizing (of course, even on easy, I was happy to accept the praise after the Ep2 epic strider battle). Yes, yes, I’m special because I can get shot hundreds of times without dying, thanks.

          I like that I can set things to easy and just enjoy the story, but I’m intrigued by the idea of a game that will make me feel like I, personally, accomplished something… rather than just telling a nigh-invincible character when and where to shoot.

    6. That’s really awesome. I was wanting to try out the game for a while, but I think I’m really going to have to hunt it down now.

  11. Had to take a gaming break due to an aggravated shoulder in combination with my tendency to tense up (especially in that area) when playing an action-style game. But it’s getting better, so I jumped back in to finish Orcs Must Die! on the normal difficulty level and had a blast with it.

    Then I tried Nightmare mode.

    Whoooa boy. I’m getting utterly trampled on the second bleedin’ evel. Can’t beat the last wave for the life of me.

    And of course now my shoulder is whining again because I hunched over and tensed up too much :p

    Question for the Kingdoms of Amalur players: how does the representation and portrayal of women play out in the long run? I seem to recall one of the developers posted here and stated intentions to be progressive, but I admit to being a skeptic.

    1. I thoroughly enjoyed Orcs Must Die!, as well. I also found Nightmare to be much more difficult T.T

      1. Yeah, splattering baddies in a bout of cartoon violence is quite enjoyable isn’t it? ;)

        I did manage to beat the second level today with a new approach (by the skin of my teeth, but with 5/5 skulls), and am happy to say it oddly gets easier after that. The problem for me was that there’s no spot for a mace trap on level two, and that trap is just so good.

    2. On Kingdoms of Amalur, I’d definitely say it has a bit of progressiveness, and a bit of not-progressiveness. Women run shops, are adventurers (including your main character, if you like), can be soldiers, seem fairly equal in footing in their relationships. On the other hand, every large organization I’ve come across has been headed by a male, and the female Dokkalfar (basically dark elves) have a tendency to dress in leather bras. Though there’s a fair share of male chest in evidence, too, so I guess that goes both ways. Body types are homogenous, with peasants and kings alike exhibiting robust well-formed bodies.

      There’s male homosexuality in a piece of smut you can steal for a quest. Though we’re talking only one piece of evidence that it even exists in the 80 hours I’ve played. There’s no player-driven romance of any kind, as far as I can tell.

  12. Finished my second playthrough of Dragon Age II last night; I’m also playing and replaying Journey. I don’t think I really need to sell either of them, but, yes, I recommend them. Dragon Age is of course well lauded here, and having finally played it (it was my first BioWare game, because their genres interest me not at all; I really got swept up in it and did the two playthroughs in succession) I was impressed to discover that it deserves it. It’s … not a perfect thing: I begrudge, in a way, that I should be grateful for homosexual relationships and empowered female characters—I wish I lived in a world where I could take that for granted. But since I don’t, I am. I maintain a number of caveats, but the game was fantastic on the whole.

    Journey is remarkable. I’ve been following thatgamecompany for years, and I feel like they’ve reached a pinnacle: Journey isn’t just a spiritual sequel to their other games, but a successor; it does more, and bolder and better. It’s also a brilliant take on multiplayer. I’m still waiting for that perfect playthrough–I’ve had standoffish companions, and lost good companions, but haven’t yet clicked perfectly with another player or stayed with someone through the whole game, and I want to. But watching communication blossom despite strict limitations on communication is fascinating–the game is a bridge builder in many ways.

  13. I’ve mostly been playing Tales of the Abyss for the 3DS. It’s been a bit boring, but still enough happening to keep me playing. I’m still at the very beginning (less than two hours) so I don’t know if I can recommend it.

    I can, however, recommend the AGD Interactive remake of King’s Quest III. Keeps most of it the same, but removes the endlessly frustrating “magic writing” and makes the timer a bit more forgiving. It is still possible to make an unwinnable scenario, but also fairly easy to see it coming and avoid it. Clearly reveals the fun adventure game formerly hiding behind constant frustration. It’s a download, though, just in case that might be a problem for some people.

    1. I really liked some of the characters in Abyss, and keeping up with the story for their sake was pretty fun, but after a while, the game makes a lot of them relatively unlikable, or at least wants you to not like some. And by the time I got to the end, I just felt like I wasn’t sure if I enjoyed the game at all (but I had a fun time actually playing through it). And finally, when I spoiled the ending for myself, I decided I didn’t want to finish the last hour or so of the game. (I can’t stand unfulfilling endings, especially in games I spend a lot of time on.)

  14. I spent most of last week playing Mass Effect 3 and I actually enjoyed the ending my soldier paragon Sheploo got. I understand why it upset some gamers, since the trilogy as a whole was rich enough to offer varying motivations for the players throughout the games. The ending I got happened to touch upon themes, feelings and idéas that I’d personally been drawn to, especially in the first game but that were also present in the second game. Perhaps the ending could benefit from including a little more material for those players who found different motivations for their Shepards, but I am a little wary that they may change too much so that my ending loses its impact.

    Other than that, I’ve started up a new playthrough, with my femShep renegade vanguard and look forward to a completely different experience, as I’ve heard from others that I may expect.

    What does upset me though, is that even though the third game has made a lot of progress in some areas (my Sheploo finally got to get out of the closet, for one, and the friendship paths with oposite sex companions were a lot better this time), there is an imbalance in the material offered female and male shepard and their respective interests. That was one of my biggest concerns with ME2 and it irked me that the problem was still present now. Some LI even got completely cut or were forgotten about. And of course those were femShep-exclusive LIs. :(

    1. Mm, I heard about that when I spoiled myself to understand what my ME-playing friends were upset about. Apparently this “neglect” of the female-focused content has even lead to some fans raging furiously against the inclusion of same-sex content because they blame that for taking their toys away.

      1. That’s really disheartening to hear! The new, more inclusive content is a thing to celebrate, not blame for other problematic areas and short comings. My guess is that the reason some LI got the short stick isn’t because of other LI content, but probably completely different areas draining resourses.

      2. The thing is that straight DudeShep still has the majority of romance and sex-fling options in the franchise. And in ME3 as well.

        Straight DudeShep can have new romances with Diana, Liara, or Ash. He can also pursue all ME2 companion romances (Jack, Miranda, and Tali), including Kelly’s romance which gets fleshed out as well.

        Straight FemShep can have new romances with Kaidan and… nope, just Kaidan. As well as continuing relations with Garrus and… hmm, nope, just Garrus. Because Jacob and Thane are both denied continuing relationships with FemShep, and they’re both slaps in the face in terms of content. None of the LIs for BroShep get any of this kind of service.

        If we’re going to compare same-sex content choices, however, DudeShep still gets the short end of the stick in comparison to any other sexuality in this franchise.

        Lesbian/Bi FemShep can choose Liara, Samantha, Diana, and Kelly. (Also not to forget the Consort in ME1, you can get nookie-nookie with.)

        Gay/Bi Dudeshep can choose Kaidan and Cortez, and only in ME3. No flings or flirtation elsewhere.

      3. It is a shame. I felt a pang of this, then I reeled it in. I personally wouldn’t say its about hating on gay content as stealing resources (James Vega very much is a love interest WITHOUT being a love interest, so he’s already resource’d in) but that the romances for female Shepard were still revolving around a man’s desire to play her for lesbian romance, not for genuine women to play for s/s romance. That’s the vibe I got when the male LIs were treated the way they were. I’m actually really happy that a minority got a majority (woo!) but I’m sorta grasping at straws why Thane or Jacob were treated the way they were, or why James was never brought to fruition. There has to be a reason, and it’s definitely rooted in a lack of care for them, or the people who would.

  15. I was really torn on the ME3 drama.

    On the one hand, i liked the implications of the ending for my primary char (i, the irl UV, passionately stand for the synthesis idea because my health and being alive hangs on stuff somewhat in that direction – and sharing the fate of one of my favourite chars, Legion, was kind of beautiful).

    On the other hand the ending was very jarring and uncomfy to me because it was a story of my very own FShep making a difference – and playing along with three narrowly defined options devised by an alien version of a war criminal able to see only its own delusional structures of beliefs, even in the face of facts (Legion and its Greater Good, Edi learning to love and worst of it Geth, whose story was nothing but me stamping on Quarian feelings of entitlement and superiority, over and over again) made me want nothing but put a bullet through its CPUs and the projector of the silly, corporate ad campaign style cheaply emotional hologram.

    And for a character done right i name James Vega – for depicting a badass macho attitude without inevitably being a misogynistic douche – and in the same time being a person even i (a kinsey 5) found attractive, full of inner strength and self respect instead of tactful deference or being derailed into singleminded protector or comic relief.

    1. James is great in a FemShep playthrough too – I love the way they made him mock-flirtatious without being creepy. I also loved his banter with Cortez – I know he hasn’t been popular with everyone but James was a winner with me.

      1. I’ll probably bring James and the other new companions with me for my current playthrough. I enjoy getting to know new companions in Bioware’s games and it’ll be nice to get a fresh perspective on things. Btw, are the other two new companions considered spoilers still? I’d love to discuss at particularly one of them here, since I had a very different (as in positive) reaction to her in-game compared to my initial reaction when her design sketches first got leaked.

      2. I only know the femShep story. Then i suppose in a male-male friendship scenario the loveliness of his character and absence of douchyness would not be put to test quite so much.

      3. James is awesome. I was worried he’d turn out to be too much… Modern SoCom Gears of Duty War dudebro, but he turned out to be a really great guy that had moments of genuine human emotion. Doubts, uncertainty, flirtation and bashfulness, a great friendship with Cortez (shirking the whole hetero homophobia dudebro culture angle that is usually associated with such characters). More than that, I wish James was a bi option for both dude and lady Sheps.

    2. James felt really fun to have in battle. He brought a lot of energy with him, and he had a surprising amount of dialogue. I felt bad instantly after telling him not to call me Lola, hit a quick save, and never looked back!

      1. I find James boring and vanilla, Cortez is more interesting but why he’shthe one only that is getting soppy, is that just because he’s gay , seriously wtf ? Whole Human Normandy crew continue to be an atrocity of ethnical and cultural diversity: Reapers attack Earth, human population is being on the verge of destruction, so who is going to save the day ? – American space ship, with American crew, Yep “Armageddon”, here we go again /yawn.

        1. I can totally see James as being boring, of course. I actually agree with you. It’s sort’ve strange how not being incredibly offensive felt refreshing.

          And Cortez? Major case of Carth Syndrome (a.k.a. dead wife syndrome), which several characters *already had* so it’s just looking super lazy at this point and really ticks me off that it’s only male LIs who get it.

          And I did find the whole Earth/American thing really bothersome before I even picked up the game. I thought the whole game would just be boring because of it. Thankfully, most of the game did not have that tone, but then, I’m American so I probably stopped seeing it after a while.

          1. I also think that human crew of Normandy in ME3 is written pretty poorly given the whole circumstances, especially in comparison to some of alien races, I mean: Garrus, Liara, Tali, these characters are great.

            1. Some of that could be because of the change in writers for some characters, maybe? Ashley, for one, is written by someone else now, and that really, really, really shows in my eyes. She’s just not the same woman (the core personality) at all that I rather liked in ME1.

        2. “American space ship, with American crew”

          The Normandy was built by the Alliance, which is a collection of representatives from all of Earth’s nations. Most of the human characters are from colonies, or have diverse backgrounds. Of the people born on Earth, we know Kaidan is from Vancouver. James is the only one who states he’s from the US. Half your squadmates are aliens (if you kept them alive in ME2).

          I really don’t know why say human crew is “American” to you. America as a country isn’t even really showcased in Mass Effect.

          1. Anderson is also born in London.

            I think it mostly is people viewing Alliance to be synonymous with America(n), even if it is made by Canadian developers. Perhaps by how the military is run and its style? And all the Michael Bay explosions and panning. Maybe. I never really got the ‘American wins the day’ vibe. Humanity, sure, but not a specific country.

          2. Diverse? Really, Star Trek has more ethnically diverse crew witch Chekov, Sulu and Uhura.
            Where are on Normandy people from: China (ok there is Kai Ling I know…), India, Pakistan, Iran, Indonesia, Russia, Brazil, Egypt, Nigeria, Turkey, Ethiopia (pretty populated countries right now) or by the end of 22nd century they will totally give up (or are forced to give up) their cultural identity and go along with names like i.e. Samantha Traynor.

            1. Star Trek isn’t exactly a beacon of cultural diversity, token admirals like Tyler Perry do not count. Star Trek is somewhat imperialist when you consider the captains of the Enterprise are exclusively white and male. The lone woman basically behaves exactly like the white men and the black guy is shackled to a space station. No swashbuckling away missions for Sisko.

              I don’t know which is worse, a diverse crew that is ultimately always led by a white male or an English speaking crew that is composed of different races. I’d say net/net, Star Trek and Mass Effect are even on this.

            2. Supposedly humans are commonly mixed race at this point on Earth, for the most part. Not everyone, mind, but a good majority. That’s how they penned it as in ME1, anyway. I’m multicultural, but my RL name is very generic and caucasian. It’s how naming conventions and marriage work out sometimes? If I retained some of the other names in my family, it’d sound quite ethnically different for several different ethnicities in my mixed family. I didn’t give up any cultural identity, it’s just how names worked out.

              Now, taking issue with the writers writing names that seem to lack any identity and diversity (like with Samantha Traynor, even though she’s dark-skinned), then yeah, I can get onboard that. A writer is always in control of what they put out there.

            3. @Deviija

              Thing is that, for example GTA IV, game that is set up in representation of contemporary New York presents more cultural and ethnical diversity then ME series.

              “Supposedly humans are commonly mixed race at this point on Earth, for the most part. Not everyone, mind, but a good majority. That’s how they penned it as in ME1, anyway.”

              That’s good but mixed race and multicultural does not explain English names all over the place, I mean why people that for example have: Brazilian, Indian and Moroccan or Chinese, Russian and Turkey origins would have English names ? Unless devs assumed that there is only one way it can works in the future.

        3. *GASP* *SHOCK* *HORROR*! American game is American! Why even play these games if you find them so boring and offensive? According to Bioware, Mass Effect is inspired by American science fiction films. That’s movies like Aliens, Predator, Robocop, ID4 and so on. Essentially, “Armageddon” is what you’re signing up for when you play Mass Effect 3, why expect something different just to be disappointed?

          1. Well, if you have had read this blog carefully you would knew the answer. You came up with the same defensive and petty answer that some man come up when they have to address sexism or lack of women as protagonists or notable characters in video games. Thing is that already huge majority of video games cater to Americans, so a little shift in Mass Effect wouldn’t ruin your toys. It is especially jarring in game that uses word ”humanity” pretty often but in the end it’s meaning is exclusive and narrow. Also in SF to be honest I prefer tokenism then invisibility, I find less depressive and nihilistic.

            1. There’s nothing defensive about my response Laurentius. You chose to misread my posts as some kind of entitled defense of exclusion. You then equate my argument against your personal opinion to defending an accepted social evil, in this case sexism, in order to give legitimacy to your position. This analogy is disingenuous and insulting. We are not discussing discrimination against women and all that entails, we are discussing the fact that according to you the Normandy and the majority of people on it are American. Other posters have addressed the inaccuracy of this assertion so I won’t rehash that here. My position is that the game appearing to be “American” is an organic part of the fact that it was developed in Canada and this should not be considered a failing.

              Mass Effect does have many failings in terms of representation and inclusion. There are few people of color in the games (ME3 does a better, but not great job of this). Apart from Javik, Dr. Michel and Admiral Raan, all the characters speak like native English speakers (not just Americans). All the humans have pretty much the same body type. The women, as is Bioware tradition, often wear bizarrely skimpy outfits. There are DOZENS of gratuitous T&A shots. There are no male exotic dancers. Soldier worship. The inexplicable resistance to acknowledging male homosexuality until Mass Effect 3. The fact that even in the future with exposure to all kinds of aliens and their sexual practices human sexuality is still seen as a binary. The whole “krogan female” thing. And so on. I’m fine with your criticism of international representation in Mass Effect, but equating that with sexism and catering to Americans strikes me as inaccurate and unfair.

              On ST, I understand having a preference for tokenism in that it is a kind of representation and a tacit if begrudging acknowledgement. I tend to see tokenism as another kind of invisibility because the token is still voiceless and defined by stereotype.

            2. @Nigel

              “The fact that even in the future with exposure to all kinds of aliens and their sexual practices human sexuality is still seen as a binary.”

              So you acknowledge this fact but decide to accept as something natural and something not worth being bother about that in game (ME3) that its final chapter that specifically (but not only of course) address Earth and humanity, majority of its population is denied representation and agency, that only very narrow and exclusive part of it is visible and are allowed to be active or actually as far as a game goes to exist. I think it’s not ok to send this kind of message and the way the media handles presentation of what humanity is consisting or should be consisting of is not a meaningless, it influence perception and then has huge impact on politics, economy etc.
              “I’m fine with your criticism of international representation in Mass Effect, but equating that with sexism and catering to Americans strikes me as inaccurate and unfair.”

              Based on what? Like American imperialism isn’t a huge problem in modern world? Game like ME3 strengthen hurtful misconception and stereotypes, that ONLY Americans are able ( and allowed ) to represent humanity and take action in resolving its problems, that its future hangs on them, that rest of the world can only wait to be led and to be directed by them. That even in 22nd century majority of Earth population won’t develop in a way to allow it to take part in exploring universe or take stand on par with Americans against the Reaper’s invasion.

              “On ST, I understand having a preference for tokenism in that it is a kind of representation and a tacit if begrudging acknowledgement. I tend to see tokenism as another kind of invisibility because the token is still voiceless and defined by stereotype.”

              But in SF I can at least imagine that token characters one day may gain agency but when SF shows me future society where invisible people are still invisible, that’s as I said nihilistic and depressing. I don’t name ST as a paragon of inclusion or representation, it’s just pretty sad that 40 year old TV series fare batter in this department then modern video game from “progressive” developer.

            3. @ Nigel:
              To be fair, saying “gasp shock horror”etc is aggressive and condescending. And yes, your post did contain several things that privileged people say to a marginalized people, just replace “american” with “men” and that’s pretty much what all of us hate around here. “It’s a game for men, and if you don’t like it, then don’t play it!” is just as offensive as saying it’s a game for Americans (despite America being a very diverse country), so if you don’t like it, then don’t play it. It’s dismissing marginalized peoples’ POVs, justifying/defending discrimination rather than fighting it, which is pretty much what this entire blog is trying to say is NOT okay.

              If the post was triggered by something else, like you felt America in general was being attacked (and being on the internet, that does happy a lot), then I can see where you’re coming from in defending the country, but what Laurentius said was not wrong (in regards to your reply).

            4. @Laurentius

              Okay Laurentius, I think I see where you’re coming from. We are much closer on these issues than you might think. Certainly there is a cumulative effect of media representations that reinforce tropes like, “Humans are White” which can often be found in American media. Make no mistake, I do find it problematic that Earth is represented primarily as Vancouver, New York (by reference) and London in the game. However I don’t believe that Mass Effect is trying to promote American imperialism, the idea that only America is advanced or that only Americans can be heroes.

              For instance, the Normandy (a French territory) is a ship of human an turian design. There is nothing in the game relating it to America or even NASA. The crew is composed of POC (more than BSG, not as much as ST) and Commander Shepard can only be traced to America by accent in the English version of the game. In another language Shepard would be from that country. Throughout the game there are several characters who are clearly not from America but places such as Japan, India, Italy, Korea etc. Not as much as either of us would like but they are there.

              This doesn’t take away from the fact that at first glance, many things in the game appear to be American though they are never explicitly stated as such. I believe this is mostly an artifact of the game being based on American sci-fi movies which it is a kind of love letter to. That design vocabulary is so familiar to us that it’s understandable to read it as American, but there’s nothing about it that is exclusively American.

              If we were discussing Gears of War I’d be in full agreement!

          2. My problem with it is that it clashes with the tone of the game. We learn that the universe is a diverse place, and many aliens have things we would consider faults, like the Elcor or Volus, and a lot of the game involves learning to be diplomatic between these races, learning to accept and coexist, and often that means trying to make the best out of bad situations and make sure no species is valued less important that the other. Saying “ok, epic earth finale time!” the way the trailer did scared me, as I feared that they were going to toss out all the inter-species conflict resolving for “everybody has to love earth now!!” which, indeed is really important to a human person which you are playing, but I didn’t want the entire game to force the species to revolve around it like it was the most important planet in the universe, because I don’t believe it is, based on the way they set up the series.

            And I agree with Laurentius that claiming a target audience doesn’t reprieve you from social responsibility, or attacking those that would expect it.

            1. @feministgamer:

              My post was meant playfully. if that’s seen as aggro then I won’t use that tone here. I understand the comparison of my post to typical derailing tactics but I believe this comparison incorrect. I didn’t say, “This is a game for Americans so don’t play it!” As I said before, equating the fact that a game is American with discrimination is unfair. They are not the same thing because there are no people marginalized by a thing being what it is. Existence does not equal oppression. “American” is not the same as oppression by the Anglo/American hegemony.

              An American game will feel American. The heroes will probably be American or express American values. Likewise a Japanese game will feel Japanese. The heroes will probably be Japanese or express Japanese values. There is nothing wrong with this. Laurentius has often expressed a distaste for American games on the basis that they are American (i.e. the heroes appear American and express American values). This is different from taking an issue with problematic representations in American media. It is more like expressing a distaste for a genre like horror movies. I don’t see any other way to make the point, “If you don’t like American games then why do you play them?” than by writing those words. That is very different from defending discrimination or dismissing alternate perspectives.

            2. @Nigel

              We have different opinions and that’s fine and I feel like I’ve already spammed his thread beyond what a guest on this blog should be allowed to do so I think we have to agree to disagree but two things for the clarification: 1. I didn’t compare anything to sexism and discrimination, what I did compare was your response to those which generally privileged people come up with when they put their defensive hat on when they feel their privilege is being attacked. 2. I don’t express distaste for American games based on the fact they are American, I don’t call out for US-centrism games like i.e. L.A Noire or Red Dead Redemption etc. I call out games where blatant US-centrism doesn’t make any sense, reinforces harmful stereotypes or is even contradictory to game own lore, which ME series is perfect example.

            1. Wouldn’t it? Provided the less-mainstream developers are writing about different perspectives and not writing for mainstream perspectives. ;)

          3. Wait wait wait. Isn’t Bioware Canadian? And both versions of Shepard speak with a Canadian accent, not an American one. (Meer and Hale are both Canucks, and you can readily hear it in words like “route”, “process”, and “sorry”.) So what’s all this about “American game is American”? It’s Canadian, its protagonists speak with Canadian voices, and it drops references to Canadian cities like Edmonton and Vancouver.

            Frankly, it’s about freaking time Vancouver was Vancouver, instead of “insert name of American city here, regardless of how much it does or doesn’t look like Vancouver, but filming in Vancouver is cheaper, and it’s not like you Canucks need your suspension of disbelief anyway”. Frankly, I was pretty stoked aboot it.

            1. Yes Bioware is Canadian. Technically I suppose we should say North American instead of American but in the context of this particular discussion Canadian and American are pretty much synonymous. A standard Canadian accent is similar enough to a standard US accent to be generally indistinguishable to people not from Canada or the US.

  16. We’ve been trying to get through our PS3 (and PS1) games (since we have so few) to get back to Skyward Sword, and right now, my boyfriend is playing Disgaea 4 (with me watching and helping) and i’m playing FFV+VI, and we’re both playing Tactics.

    One thing that bothers me about Disgaea 4 is how NISA handled the localization. The focus on making characters come off as overly gangster/thug (often wannabe) is a bit annoying, even when it’s slightly amusing, but how they treat the female characters is painful. I’m not sure how badly the dialogue for the JP version was on Fuuka and her “as a (high school) girl” stuff, but it just feels somewhat awkward here at times. On top of that, they threw in some harsh language that my boyfriend and I both noticed was not at all what was originally spoken. That they even translated so much of it so far so differently is eyebrow-raising, but some of it is kind of making me lose faith in them.

    At the least, FFV is a real blast so far, and I adore how the female characters are treated. And I can’t wait to start devoting more time to VI too. When I finish these, I’ll be excited to return to WKC, Bayonetta and Star Ocean 4. (It’ll be fun contrasting the customization in character ability and “class” to that of FFV’s.)

  17. I just finished ME3 this week, and loved the ending.

    If anything has me ranty, it’s all the people demanding that it be changed, or relegated to “it was all a dream” status.

    I’m taking a break for a couple of days, as honestly, it was so emotionally intense for me I can’t bring myself to load it up again yet, but I wanted to put a request here, as I did at Shakesville:

    I’M LOOKING FOR PEOPLE TO PLAY ME3 MULTIPLAYER (and other multiplayers in the future) with on XBOX LIVE.

    I imagine the readers of this blog will be a lot less likely to make misogynist, racist, ableist, homophobic, transphobic, or otherwise offensive comments in in-game chat, so I thought I would ask here.

    If anyone is interested, please feel free to send me a friend request, or share your gamertag so I can send you one. Mine is the same as my handle here, nucl3arsnke

    PS- My s.o. has the same request, his gamertag is BuzzNJ

    1. Just noticed that that was featured on this week’s Multiplayer Monday. I’ll see if I can find any one there, but it looks like most of the commenters there are PC players, so again, please let me know if you’re an Xbox Live gamer who’d like to play multiplayer ME3 and other things in the future!

  18. Just noticed that that was featured on this week’s Multiplayer Monday. I’ll see if I can find anyone there, but it looks like most of the commenters there are PC players, so again, please let me know if you’re an Xbox Live gamer who’d like to play multiplayer ME3 and other things in the future!

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