Tag Archives: linkspam

Weekly DLC: Border House News Roundup

Walkthrough

  • Releases: …What did come out this week? Hawken? Anything else?
  • Guild Wars 2‘s Wintersday event, held this Wendesday, pushed the game to the top of the PC downloads. (PC Gamer) Here’s the list of events.
  • Naughty Dog studios, the developers of The Last of Us revealed in an interview this week that they were asked to remove Ellie, one of the game’s two main characters, from the front and center of the box art. Naughty Dog refused. (GamesIndustry International) There’s also a great feature piece on VG247 about the game, where Ellie’s voice actor Ashley Johnson spoke out about the industry perception that games with women on the covers don’t sell as well. (VG247)
  • Angry Birds Movie coming in 2016. This is not a drill. For the first time the impending apocalypse doesn’t seem so bad. (Kotaku)
  • MMO The Secret World is changing its monetization strategy. No more subscriptions, now after buying the game you can play at “free,” “member” and “grand master” packages. (Joystiq)
  • The PC release date for DMC: Devil May Cry was announced for January 25 through Europe and North America. The game will be on PS3 and Xbox on January 15. In this reboot,  a younger Dante from a different timeline partners with a psychic named Kat, and since the game’s developers, Ninja Theory, pulled off a similar-sounding game called Enslaved: Odyssey to the West a few years ago I think it’s safe to say this game will probably be pretty good. (Digital Spy)

Side Quests

  • If you’ve played enough of Far Cry 3 you’ll know that [SPOILER] the game heavily implies the rape of a main character. A male main character. At Kotaku, Patricia Hernandez tries to make sense of the scene, and what the game might be trying, or not trying, to say with it.
  •  Kotaku also has a series of “Years in Review” for some of the biggest videogame companies, including NintendoSquare Enix, Sony, and Microsoft.
  • Lots of people have written about the relationship between Master Chief and Cortana in Halo 4, and this article,”The Naked Vulnerability of Halo 4” on Tap Repeatedly, is one of my favorites.
  • And here’s a timeline of The Last Guardian announcements by Kotaku that only reminded me how badly I want that game. TRUE FACT: I occasionally tweet at @fumito_ueda to send him encouragement like “You have lots of American fans!” and “頑張ってね よ!”

Bonus Levels

  • There were female pilots in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi but they were cut from the final version! Eight-year-old me is crying. (Star Wars Aficionado)
  • Beloved comic book writer Gail Simone was rather unceremoniously fired from the Batgirl series this week. We still don’t really know why, but we do know it really sucks, particularly for ladies in comic books. (The Mary Sue)
  • Here’s a little awesome to make up for all that: A Swedish toy company with a gender-neutral catalog that features boys playing with dolls, girls with Nerf guns and, perhaps most incredibly of all, boys and girls playing together with the same toys! Sooo basically me and my brothers growing up?

 

 

News Roundup: Thanksgiving Eve

Big release this week was Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. All right then…Oh, and a certain CIA Director turned real-life soap opera star has a rather prominent cameo (WSJ) …And struggling MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic went free-to-play up to level 50. Is this the end of subscription MMOs? … EA announced Mass Effect 4 will use the Frostbite 2 engine instead of the Unreal 3, though devs promise it’ll be “respectful” of previous games (VG24) … And here’s a blurry photo of Dragon Age 3. Spoiler warning: there are no discernable spoilers (Kotaku) … And the second trailer for Grand Theft Auto 5 has graced the world with its presence … Despite rumors that the WiiU, which releases next week, would use XBox-like achievements, Nintendo’s new game system’s accomplishments won’t be system-wide (TechnologyTell) … Time Magazine released a list of the 100 best videogames of all time, including titles from Zork to Braid to Shadow of the Colossus (TimeTech) … Spike TV announced the nominees for its annual Video Game Awards, so go vote! … And finally, there were two more instances of internet-based dude-nerd-rage at all the “so-called geek girls” who are clearly just ugly sluts trying to take advantage of poor defenseless dude geeks by pretending to like dude geek stuff. Links here and here, but I can’t be held responsible for any injuries resulting from emphatic facepalming, loss of brain cells, or depression. Here’s a good riposte to one, and another good riposte to the other.

Editor’s Picks

  • Here’s a cool article about how videogames are getting one writer through a long hospital stay (BitCreature).
  • Far Cry 3 developers talked to Gamasutra about the intersection of videogames and performance art, and how they want their players to consider themselves method actors (Gamasutra).
  • And for your weekly dose of theory, ponder the definition of the word ‘game’ with Gamasutra’s Brandon Boyer (Gamasutra).
  • This video is awesome. But don’t read the comments.Never read YouTube comments.
  • Videogame critique website Nightmare Mode recently ended its hiatus, and there are quite a few interesting articles there this week, including pieces by Border House’s own Mattie Brice and Jill Scharr (full disclosure: that’s me).

Additional reporting and blog-scouring by Twyst. Don’t forget to add your own news and links in the comments!

[Linkspam] Across the Divide

Hungry for something to read?  Here’s a few articles that are worth your while.

Sexism in Eve: Male Privilege (Haberdashers Run Amok): “Then we wonder why women don’t play EvE.  We assume they don’t want to play it because it’s hard.  That’s not it.  Most women like a challenge.  They don’t want to play with us.  They don’t want to play with sexist assholes.”

A Call to Arms for Decent Men (Jezebel): “This is not about “protecting women.” It’s about cleaning out the sewers that our games have become. This will not be easy and it will not be fun. Standing up to these little jerks will require the same courage from us that women like Anita Sarkeesian have already shown. We will become objects of hatred, ridicule, and contempt. Our manhood will be questioned. But if we remember who we are and stand strong together, we can beat them. In any case we won’t be threatened with sexual violence the way women are. We have it easier than they do.”

Sexism in Video Games Study (PriceCharting.com): “Another polarizing question was “Have you ever obscured or lied about your sex while playing video games to avoid unwanted attention or harassment?” 67.5% of women said that they had obscured their sex. Only 5.8% of men said the same. That means that women are nearly 12 times as likely to feel the need to conceal their sex while playing video games as men are.”

 The Other One (BitCreature): “Some manifestations of casual misogyny are so mundane to me that they just roll down into my personal junk pile of demoralized exasperation. At this rate, I don’t really expect much from most billboards or sitcoms. Despite my incorrigible love for Street Fighter, I know that when I observe a tournament the word “rape” is going to be flowing as freely in the air as beer flows from the taps of my favourite arcade. I know people won’t expect me to know how to play, that I’m just the token girlfriend tagging along. That doesn’t make it acceptable, mind you. But it doesn’t take me by surprise anymore. So I hold my breath.”

Find any awesome articles you think we should link?  Tweet them using the hashtag #TBHlinkspam or email the editors!

Recommended Reading (And Watching)

Part of the cover of Issue 8 of Ctrl Alt Defeat. It has the name of the magazine and a fingerpaint illustration of stick figures in a rainbow of colors.

Got a lot of good things to read on the internet, stranger!

Issue 8 – Ctrl+Alt+Defeat. Our own editor, Gunthera, guest edited this month’s issue of Ctrl+Alt+Defeat, which focuses on diversity issues. A number of Border House authors (including yours truly) contributed to this issue, and it also includes a few classic TBH posts. Definitely check it out.

Courtney on Cosplay – Courtney Stoker at From Austin to A&M. I wrote about cosplay and diversity 101 for Ctrl+Alt+Defeat, but I didn’t get a chance to link Stoker’s great cosplay research, so check it out here.

For Women Like You – Patricia Hernandez at Bit Creature. Trigger warning on this one. Patricia takes a powerful and personal look at Lollipop Chainsaw, sexual assault, and eating disorders.

Men in Games – Deirdra Kiai at No Show Conference. The reason for the “watching” addendum to this edition of Recommended Reading, TBH author (and claymation musical video game developer) Deirdra Kiai gave a talk at last month’s No Show Conference in Boston. It begins as hilarious satire and then turns into so much more. (While you’re there, also check out Naomi Clark’s comprehensive keynote.)

Guest Post: Joe Peacock’s Misguided Fake Female Geek Crusade – Alli Thresher at Think Progress. Thresher deftly explains just how terrible the whole “fake geek girl” bullshit is.

It’s been a while since the last RR–what other good reads (and watches) have you come across, folks?

A screenshot of the new Lara Croft, for once not bloodied.

Lara Croft Reboot Link Roundup

A screenshot of the new Lara Croft, for once not bloodied.

A screenshot of the new Lara Croft, for once not bloodied. She is a white woman with straight brown hair, pulled back. She frowns and looks serious, with her gaze slightly away from the camera.

Trigger warnings: discussions of rape.

I quickly wrote my post last week, Lara Croft Reboot: Vulnerability Galore!, in order to make a quick assessment of the new Tomb Raider trailer and now widely sited Kotaku E3 interview with the game’s executive producer Ron Rosenberg.  In the past week, bloggers have written many thoughtful and analytical responses to the trailer and interview.

On June 12, Kat Howard of Strange Ink wrote When you don’t get to hit the replay button, where she linked Rosenberg’s comments to the type of victim blaming that suggests rape victims don’t fight back enough:

But I have a huge problem with there being a game where, if your female character doesn’t fight back well enough, she gets punished by being raped. And my problem is because this hews too closely to the actual reactions rape survivors get.

Also from June 13, see So We Replaced Sexy Lara Croft with Victim Lara Croft by Kellie Foxx-Gonzalez on The Mary Sue.  Foxx-Gonzalez wants her feminist hero back:

Personally, the worst part about this reboot is that it is taking a traditionally feminist character (who has been embraced as a empowering fantasy in spite of the canonical hypersexualization of her character), one of the most beloved ass-kicking female protagonists in gaming, and warping her and her story to cater to a male-dominated gaming culture (and culture at large). Instead of offering women gamers a game in which we can relate to the protagonist, share her hopes and despairs, we’re left with the promise of  veritable torture porn. The promise of a new Tomb Raider held so much potential to add to a growing selection of awesome women protagonists, especially for women gamers. Ron Rosenburg, I would like my strong women protagonists back, and I would like them without having to experience the threat of rape and rape culture, even in a game. I’ve had enough of that in real life as it is.

You’ve probably heard by now that on June 13, the same day the Kotaku article was widely linked by other journalists, Crystal Dynamics retracted their interview with Kotaku.

retraction

We had a great E3 with Tomb Raider and received a fantastic public and press response, with the game picking up numerous game of the show awards based on the new direction taken with the franchise. Unfortunately we were not clear in a recent E3 press interview and things have been misunderstood. Before this gets out of hand, let me explain. In making this Tomb Raider origins story our aim was to take Lara Croft on an exploration of what makes her the character she embodies in late Tomb Raider games. One of the character defining moments for Lara in the game, which has incorrectly been referred to as an ‘attempted rape’ scene is the content we showed at this year’s E3 and which over a million people have now seen in our recent trailer entitled ‘Crossroads’.This is where Lara is forced to kill another human for the first time. In this particular section, while there is a threatening undertone in the sequence and surrounding drama, it never goes any further than the scenes that we have already shown publicly. Sexual assault of any kind of categorically not a theme that we cover in this game."

 

Kotaku went on to provide the original interview, where Rosenberg does state that there is an attempted rape in the game.  Foxx-Gonzalez responds to the retraction:

To be clear: a member of the Crystal Dynamic team stated that scavengers “try to rape her” and in response to being asked to clarify that point, stated that “she’s either forced to fight back or die.” This hardly seems like a statement that was misunderstood and taken out of context. Furthermore, regardless of whether we are calling it an attempted rape, sexual assault, or a “threatening undertone,” in the aforementioned trailer, a man makes a movement toward Lara Croft’s hips in a way that simultaneously threatens her life and conveys sexual assault. Call it whatever you’d like, that is sexual violence.

On June 14, Alyssa Rosenberg (no relation to Ron, I presume) of Think Progress wrote, Lara Croft Will Be Threatened With Rape In the Next Tomb Raider–But Don’t Worry Guys, You Can Rescue Her.  Apparently, a number of blokes responded with glee at the speculation they might be able to watch Lara be raped.  Yesterday, Alyssa Rosenberg wrote them an open letter:

So, in all seriousness, why do you want to see Lara Croft get raped?

Do you think she has an obligation to be sexually available, if not to you in real life, to someone else in-game, and if she violates that obligation, that it should be enforced upon her? One of the hard, immutable truths of adulthood is that no one owes you, and there is no mechanism to guarantee that everyone gets some mysteriously-allotted fair share of happiness and sexual satisfaction. I get that there’s this fantasy of a time before feminism when women were more broadly sexually available to men, when some men think they would have experienced less of that pain of loneliness and that fear of rejection that is baked into modern life. But I’d bet if you think about it carefully, you’ll acknowledge to yourself that it’s not really true, that participation in that fantasy was limited to certain very powerful and wealthy men, that it probably wouldn’t have served you as well as you think it would, that then, as now, you would have been required to exercise persuasion and charm and negotiation to get what you wanted. This fantasy of yours, it’s a fantasy. And nothing, not pretending you’re owed something, not seeing a video game character get raped, is ever going to bring it back.

On June 15, Doone of T.R. Red Skies posted a lengthy article, The Story of a Woman: Lara Croft, in which he analyzes both the official screenshots of Tomb Raider, which predominately feature women experiencing violence, and Ron Rosenberg’s comments, line by line.  I recommend reading his whole post, but here is an excerpt from his concluding section:

So …Why?

It’s because we don’t question masculinity; we just reinvent, and redo, and rework women. We add qualities we value to women in order to make them “more real”.  And because we don’t question masculinity, we haven’t fully deconstructed the concept of hero in order to build it up to androgyny; to a set of human values and characteristics in which males and females are equals, are only humans. We’ve resorted to making Heroes and Others Who Can Do Cool Things if We Make Them More Like “Us”. I mean we’re not even supposed to identify with Lara according to Rosenberg, but to feel like her little chivalrous helper. Even the most hardcore holdouts among us shouldn’t fail to see this.

This is why on Lara’s road to heroism, that road will be defined by her capacity for carnage, just like most other male heroes. It will be defined by stoicism and vengeance streaks (angry ones). She will have to shed all those softer qualities and emotions that are clearly the source of her weakness; the reason she’s not a hero to begin with. And this will happen because we define heroic as masculine and violent, realistic. That’s why there’s a rape threat scene. That’s realism. That’s why there will be brutal punchings in the face for Lara; because it makes us chivalrous men cringe …that’s realism. That’s why we will feel like her “helper” because that’s realism. To be a real hero is to be strong and to be strong is to be violent. To be violent is to dominate  and to dominate is to be a real hero. Lara Croft’s Rites of Heroism will follow this tired trope in the image of men, not as the story of a triumphant woman. This is why I say we fall into this trap because we don’t examine the behavior and perceptions of ourselves. We instead choose to remake woman in our image. Lara’s story isn’t about a woman. It’s a man’s perception of the story of a woman wrought with some masculinity in order to create a heroine.

(By the way, if you like Doone’s post, and are irritated by the fellows who whine, “But men are unrealistically portrayed in videogames too!!!”, you might join in the discussion he’s started on his blog where he asks, What Would a Realistic Male Portrayal Be Like?)

For another in depth analysis, see Laurie Penny’s Lara Croft and rape stories: breaking down the bitch, published yesterday:

This isn’t a story that was dreamed up out of nowhere. It’s a response to a familiar industry dilemma (how to rescue an ailing franchise?) with an equally familiar solution (hurt a beloved character). So what does all this mean for the many prospective players who will already have played or watched Lara Croft do her deadly thing in tiny hotpants?

Well, for one thing, it makes her suddenly vulnerable. For all the players who ever stroked themselves into a frenzy over this unattainable pixellated fighting fuck-toy, it’s an opportunity to see sexual violence done to her. It makes her weak, explaining away a ritualised savagery that needed no explanation before; it makes her an object of pity as well as lust and envy, someone who needs your “protection”. Industry mandarins seem to have assumed that gamers, by which they mean male gamers, can only carry on loving cold, powerful, beautiful Lara Croft if someone “break[s] her down”.  And that is frankly offensive to men everywhere.

Finally, there is still an excellent conversation happening in the comments of The Border House post from last week.

Did I miss any links?  Let us know in the comments!

[Linkspam] Across the Divide – 3/15/2012

A closeup of some awesome Mass Effect-themed anil art showing the red/white stripe, and the N7 logo.

 

Some interesting reads from around the web:

U R so gay! Homophobia in gaming and why it hurts (Atomic)
“Why is ‘gay!’ the first thing that a lot of people in gaming circles reach for when they need a good name to call someone? It’s simple, really, and it has nothing to do with sticks or kindling; it’s a powerful slur because in the minds of the straight male gamers who coined the term, being gay is just about the worst thing they could think of.”

Mass Effect 3 Won’t Make You Gay (HuffPo)
“If you love games, champion developers like Bioware for filling their games with people we recognize; it’s comforting to see people like me, and not like me, in these worlds. And if you’re a member of the gaming press, use your words to say something meaningful. It’s not always enough to say, “Well, here’s a thing.” You have a voice. It’s time to say, “This isn’t OK.” We’re in a position to take a stand. So take one, already.”

Games of 2011 Analysis — How many even had women in them? (PikiGeek)
“Yeah. That’s all of them. All 19 of them, among the hundreds of games that got released last year, and some of the women aren’t even portrayed in the best light. It was, however, collectively decided that Batman: Arkham City was the best example, as there was an entire scene between Catwoman and Poison Ivy.”

Is pervasive sexism holding the professional fighting game community back? (Ars Technica)
“I think we’ve discovered a few times now that calling out the fighting game community and slapping them on the wrist and saying ‘No, no, no. That’s not right,’ doesn’t work, because the more you do that the harder they fight against that,”

Game Design and Sexism: Player Feedback Mechanics (Gaming as Women)
“However, we are all socialized very strongly to view women in certain ways. We expect women to be responsible, do the boring administrative work, and in general shut down the fun.  We emphatically do not expect women to be silly.  So women are less likely to be silly, and everyone is less likely to notice when they are.”

Dying Boy Gets His Own Personal Virtual Wonderland Built by a Game Community in Just Four Days (Kotaku)
“Players working around the clock joined and power-leveled a new guild (reaching guild level 70 in, reportedly, approximately 65 hours) in order to have access to goods, housing, and amenities ready for the big day. And when it came, they turned out in force. When they were done, young John had a virtual wonderland to call his own.”

Where Are the Black League of Legends Characters? (Kotaku)
“Out of the 93 characters to choose from (as of March 4th), I counted 39 human-looking characters (more if you have a looser definition of “human”). Out of those 39, I could only find two characters who didn’t look Caucasian or East Asian, based upon their portraits.”

What else have I missed? Leave some links in the comments to share with The Border House community!

[Linkspam] Across the Divide

A screenshot of the game Scarygirl, with a young girl main character. She has black hair, an eye patch, a skull earring and party hat, and the game is drawn in a vector style.

 

Here’s some things around the web that I read, and you should too!  (or not, up to you)

The Lovely, Colorful Platformer Scarygirl Arrives on XBLA (Kotaku): A ridiculously cute game with a young girl as the main character has just released today on XBLA for $15.  It is also coming to PSN next week and will be on PC sometime in the future.  I haven’t played the Flash incarnation, but it seems adorable.

Uncharted: Drake’s Devotion Parody Trailer (YouTube): A trailer about what would happen if Nathan Drake were gay.  In related news, read the Destructoid article about why that would make a whole lot of sense.

Shit People Say, Internalized Sexism, and the Responsibility of Satire (Apple Cider Mage): Though her site is currently blacked out in protest of SOPA, bookmark this one for later reading.  She talks about the “Shit WoW Girls Say” video and the entire meme as a whole.

Why Some Men are Playing Women, and Why Developers Should Take Note (The Mary Sue): “For gamers, an immersive world is what separates the pre-order line from the bargain bin. If I took one thing out of this little experiment, it was this: Game designers should stop thinking of gender portrayal in terms of appeasing the womenfolk and instead utilize it to create amazing stories. Not just because it’s the socially responsible thing to do, but because it’s the only way the medium is ever going to evolve.”

What else is good to read out there?  Leave your links in the comments.

[Linkspam] Across the Divide – 2/12/2012

Hope everyone is having a great 2012 so far!  I’ve been trying to stay caught up with the influx of great posts showing up all over the web.  Here are a few to share with you:

A female Skyrim cosplayer from Anime LA, wearing a fur skirt with leather pants underneath, a horned helmet and a shield, and wielding an axe.

 

The Return of the Blogs of the Roundtable (Critical Distance): A blog roundtable has been started (re-started?) that will provide monthly critical thinking themes for anyone interested in games to write about.  Here at The Border House, we’d love to host your submissions!  ”This official re-launch of the Blogs of the Round Table asks you to talk about a game experience that allowed you to experience being other than you are and how that impacted you–for better or for worse. Conversely, discuss why games haven’t provided this experience for you and why.”  If you would like to write about this, feel free to email us your submission at editors@borderhouseblog.com.  Be sure to include a well-captioned image and a short 2-3 sentence bio for your post!  We will do the legwork of contacting Critical Distance for you so that your post will be featured in the monthly roundtable.

Dear Customer Who Stuck Up For His Little Brother (Huffington Post): Thank you to everyone who emailed us this link, which couldn’t be any more relevant for The Border House.  If you don’t have a tissue, grab one.

Designer’s Playbook episode: Gender in Games (YouTube): Dominic W. sent us this link to a video he made in which he talks about gender in video games.

Namco Pulls Offensive Soul Calibur V Poster (Digital Battle): Bet you thought it was this one, didn’t you?  Nope, it was one that featured a closeup of Voldo’s crotch.  That’s right — a gratuitous shot of a woman’s breasts is just fine, but a fully clothed male groin shot is too offensive to keep up on their Facebook page.

Passivity and Women in Games (PopMatters): “The male dominated industry has made some visible efforts to include women in their casts and make them more valuable characters. They’ve just failed spectacularly. Strong, believable, flawed female protagonists are a moving target for developers, even the ones that are certain that they’ve created them. What is most overlooked is competence.”

The Rise, Fall, and Return of Lara Croft (Culture Highs): “This is when it hits me, this is when I realize that Lara Croft is in no way girly, and I begin to quietly idolize.”

Help an Indie Designer Create a Female Character (Reddit): “When I was first asked to work on this game I refused on the basis that it seemed quite sexist, and overly objectified women. However, now I am in a position to change anything and everything, I’m at a loss as how to make it much better within the above constraints.”

So Maybe Including a Shock-Collar-Wearing Female Slave in The Old Republic Wasn’t The Best Idea? (The Mary Sue): “The trouble is that there are very, very few people who can experience a story without bringing in their own personal context. You’d have to either be wildly imaginative or somewhat delusional to ignore your real-world experiences completely.”

Amy Hennig, Creative Director at Naughty Dog (PikiGeek): “One of the goals for Saucy Saturday is to bring these women pioneers to light, to show you that women can be creative, they can handle themselves in the industry, and they can be badass. You probably aren’t aware that some of the most popular games on the market only exist because women helped create them. So today, our honorary Lady Designer of the Month is Amy Hennig: writer and director for some of the most successful Naughty Dog games.”

What other links did we miss?  Drop them in the comments, and as always — feel free to email us any links for inclusion at editors@theborderhouseblog.com.

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.”

Across the Divide: 3/7/2011

Brought to you by this adorable video of my 4 month old Boxer harassing our 8 year old Min Pin for a treat:

I play with you (WoW Official Forums): [Trigger Warning for ableism] “I work hard to be the best player I can be, it’s one of the few things I can be good at, even if I’m not good at it every day. I am not alone, I know many others who are crippled, sick, who escape into this game, every one of them I know work hard to play well, but sometimes they don’t, sometimes even the game isn’t a complete escape from the pain and debilitating illnesses we suffer with.” [Cuppycake note: This made me seriously cry.]

Crafting a UI for a Disabled Player (WoW Insider): “Hopefully we as a community can put together our collective knowledge and imagination to help those who can use it. These suggestions are just some of the ways WoW‘s interface, addons, and hardware peripherals can help out a gamer with visual impairments, limited mobility or other disabilities.”

Do you want to be my PlayDate? Undercover at GameCrush (Gaming Angels): “Yeah, they’re advertising as a gamer dating site. Which, if you haven’t caught on by now – GameCrush is not for dating. Yes, we’re called PlayDates, but you shouldn’t be expecting to take us out to dinner any time soon. And yet someone in charge of advertising has chosen to give people false hope. Does this hope actually do anything? It might get a few people to pull out their wallets, sure, but people who are looking for real human interaction aren’t going to settle for pay-for-play.”

Bayonetta and Peach Talk Women in Gaming (Destructoid): “Just like religion, politics, and race, talking about gender can really flip a switch in people. If people get the sense that you are on “the wrong side” of the argument, they will start to see you as “the enemy” and all potential discussion gets thrown out the window, replaced with spiteful intent and hateful name-calling. I’ve seen it happen all too many times before.”

Will Bulletstorm Murder Your Children? No. (Rock Paper Shotgun): “And there they have their story: Bulletstorm, and games like it, cause rape. Now they are “sexual scenes”. The mutation is complete. Based on the game’s featuring the words “topless” and “gangbang”. The quote comes from Carol Lieberman – “psychologist and book author” – whose claim that there’s an increase in rapes in the US is peculiar. While we in no way trivialise the severity of sexual crimes, this is purely about investigating the claims made and the related numbers, and they don’t hold up.”

Do Women Play More Games than Men? (VentureBeat): “More than half of all mobile and mobile social gamers — 53 percent, to be exact — are women, bucking the stereotype that gaming is typically a male-dominated form of entertainment, according to the report. Only 40 percent of “traditional” gamers are women, according to the report.”

Male and Female NPC Armour in Rift (Spinksville): “These characters are both Meridian Centurions guarding the main Defiant city in Rift. So the ranks and roles are equivalent. And yet the guy gets a full set of studded armour and the girl gets a skimpy bikini.”

Are Video Games Turning Liberals into Virtual Conservatives? (Kotaku): “For me this all boils down to one of the core properties of video games that draw so many people to them in the first place: They let you do things you otherwise wouldn’t or couldn’t do. This works on a visceral level – I’d never kill a man, but I’ve killed millions of virtual men – or on a more social or political level. If we allowed our real-world morals and beliefs to guide our video game playing, that would make for some incredibly boring games.”

Have any interesting links that I missed?  Leave them in the comments!