Tag Archives: Square Enix

Border House DLC: This Week in Videogames

 Walkthrough

  • Big releases: Far Cry 3, and “Dragonborn” DLC for Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
  • Also, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City has been born again as an iOS app. Eh, there are plenty of  console-to-iOS reboots of much better games. Like Baldur’s Gate, which also hit iOS this week.
  • We also got the box art for BioShock: Infinite last weekend, which appears to feature every FPS protagonist ever. Infinite is slated for a March 2013 release.
  • A new trailer for The Cave, from Double Fine studios, showcases the cast of playable characters. (Joystiq) The game comes out in January 2013.
  • And finally in free advertising courtesy Border House, here’s some footage about Peter Molyneux‘s newest game GODUS. (Kotaku)
  • In case you missed it, Anita Sarkeesian hosted a TED Talk this week! The Feminist Frequency creator talked about her Tropes vs Women in Videogames project, and the unbelievable amount of hateful, mysogynistic backlash she’s received.
  • This week in Bad Ideas: to promote Hitman: Absolution, the developers created Hire Hitman, a Facebook app that lets you take “hits” on your friends for reasons such as “her small tits” or “his big gut.” I would say that you just can’t make this up, but apparently, some people can. Square Enix, the game’s publisher, has apologized, and taken the site down. (RockPaperShotgun)
  • What’s the next big thing on Xbox? We don’t know, but apparently Black Tusk Studio—formerly Microsoft Vancouver—does, and they’re not telling. (Joystiq)
  • In other future news, there’s going to be a thing called “All the Bravest.” Square Enix just filed for trademark and domain registrations on it. (GameInformer)
  • Remember Ouya? Developers’ consoles for those wishing to design for this Kickstarter darling will ship Dec. 28. (Joystiq)
  • The Humble THQ Bundle is doing good by THQ. With nine days left to go in the pay-what-you-want sale, the company’s stock as jumped by 40%. The success of Humble Bundle’s monetization system with games from big studios could have wider implications for the videogame market. (Joystiq) EDIT: The games in the THQ Bundle are NOT DRM-free, which was previously a key point of Humble Bundle’s mission. (Ars Technica)
  • Guys! Boyfriend Maker is still a thing! The controversial app was pulled from the iOS store but is still available via Android, though now with a filter of moderate functionality.  (DigitalTrends)
  • BioWare is throwing all the writers at the next DLC for Mass Effect 3, responding to criticism of their last DLC, Omega, and, of course, the game’s controversial ending. (DigitalTrends)
  • BioWare also wants you to know that they’re still working on Star Wars: The Old Republic, so don’t go! (Eurogamer)
  • A sequel to beloved 1999 RPG Planetscape: Torment is officially in the works! (Ars Technica) Plus, it looks like the original is getting a Steam release. (Gameranx)

Sidequests

  • Our own Quinnae had an article in Bitch Magazine entitled “Game Changer: Why Gaming Culture Allows Abuse… and How We Can Stop It.”
  • Kotaku has a feature on Thomas Deer, a cultural liaison officer at the Kahnawake Language and Cultural Centre who worked with the Assassin’s Creed III developers. Among his input was the recommendation to take out the ‘scalping’ feature that the developers had planned for the game.
  • At Gameranx, Daniel Starkey talks about how he based Mass Effect’s Commander Shepard after his mother, the person who first got him into science fiction.
  • For more BioShock Infinite goodness, here’s Ken Levine’s interview with Wired Magazine, where he discusses the game’s influences.
  • This article from Gameological Society about affectionate gestures in videogames is very touching. Sorry, bad joke. I’m just bitter because they didn’t include the hand-holding in Ico.
  • On The Mary Sue, Becky Chambers talks about how Mass Effect 3: Omega lead her to muse about the continued relevance of gender debate.
  • Here’s a parody of the Dumb Ways to Die video featuring videogame characters. (And here’s the original, for reference)

 Bonus Levels

  • Below, one valiant geeklady rips into the “fake geek girl” myth.

Recommended Reading: Making of an Ally, Female Character Design, More From Film Crit Hulk

Lightning, the main character of FFXIII, sits casually on a white couch, holding a sword and staring straight ahead at the viewer.

I told you there was a lot of good stuff recently!

First, a post at Pax Valkyrie called (Trigger warning for sexual harassment) “No Flat Girls: How Allies Are Born,” which is the personal story of one woman in the game industry whose allies failed her when it came to dealing with sexual harassment at a group for game students.

I consoled myself that we would rant about it later, maybe over a beer or two. With every additional comment about big tits and their jiggle physics, though, I found it harder and harder to reassure myself. Instead of feeling like I was sharing a bad experience with the two guys in front of me, I began to feel truly attacked.

“Yeah, so he tells me her boobs have to be bigger! There are STANDARDS in videogames!” There were cries of assent, hoots and yelps not totally unlike hyenas.

I found it hard to swallow. I had never felt so casually humiliated in what was meant to be a welcoming, safe space. How could someone sit there and spew this kind of stuff? How could he joke and laugh about how horribly women are represented in games? Apathy would be bad enough, but this kid was lauding the fact that women’s bodies are engorged and contorted and exposed, that degradation is made synonymous with “sexy.” He was being cheered like a champion.

Silence might have been protecting my friends, but suddenly it was choking me.

The author goes on to describe confronting her friends about remaining silent and allowing this sort of behavior to go on in a space they created, reflecting on how her sacrifice was perhaps necessary to show just how sexism affects women and why it should be challenged.

Next, friend of the blog Latoya Peterson has a great piece at Racialicious titled “The Tits Have It: Sexism, Character Design, and the Role of Women in Created Worlds.” Peterson attended a panel at NYCC 2011 headed by Isamu Kamikokuryo, art director for FFXIII-2, and Jonathan Jacques-Bellêtete, art director for Deus Ex: Human Revolution, talking about art direction “for a worldwide audience.” It seemed super interesting until Jacques-Bellêtete admitted that the most important thing about female characters, to him, is whether he would fuck them or not:

In describing his influences, Jacques-Bellêtete mentioned he was heavily influenced by Metal Gear and Final Fantasy. Then he went into a two minute riff about “always trying to have very beautiful female characters,” noting that these were characters he would want to sleep with. After making a semi-disparaging remark about female characters drawn in a North American style, he concludes “I’d rather have female characters from Final Fantasy or Soul Caliber to sleep with.” This draws chuckles from the crowd.

And there it was, the truth about character design that so many players know but most designers wouldn’t usually articulate: most of the egregiously sexist character designs are based on fuckability, rather than playability.

His comments are infuriating, even more so when you take into account the fact that he felt this was an acceptable thing to say in front of a room full of people. To top it all off, moderator N’Gai Croal had each artist interpret one of the other’s characters; Jacques-Bellêtete decided to depict Lightning from chin to chest, wearing a lacy top with a plunging neckline. Slow clap for Jonathan. Really well done.

Definitely read the whole thing, which has typically fantastic analysis from Peterson as well as Jacques-Bellêtete’s response to her question during the Q&A. (There’s also video of the panel available here; Peterson asks her question starting at about 3:30 in the third video.)

Thirdly, commenter Medicine Melancholy linked this in my link post last week: Film Crit Hulk posted a follow-up to his original Batman: Arkham City that is more thorough and responds to many of the common defenses of the sexism in the game (seventeen of them!). My favorite is Argument #1, debunking the idea that throwing around the word “bitch” constantly is just how the enemies in the game would act:

NOW, AS TO CRUX THIS ARGUMENT, YES, WITHIN THE SINGULAR LOGIC OF CHARACTER IT WOULD MAKE TOTAL SENSE FOR A FELON TO CALL SOMEONE A BITCH. OF COURSE IT WOULD! IN NO WAY IS HULK EVER SAYING THAT IT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE. BUT JUST BECAUSE IT MAKES SENSE DOESN’T MEAN IT IS THEREFORE A GOOD CHOICE. WHAT HULK IS SPEAKING TO IS THE FACT THAT TOSSING ARE AROUND THE WORD BITCH IS ALL THEY SEEM TO BE ABLE TO DO. CONSTANTLY. AND WITH CAVALIER QUALITY THAT IS UNBECOMING. IT DOESN’T COME OFF AS SCARY. OR INDICATIVE OF PERSONALITY. IN SOME CASES IT’S CLEARLY MEANT TO BE FUNNY. HULK HAPPY TO LOOK OVER A CASE HERE OR THERE, BUT WHEN IT IS AS RAMPANT AS IT IS IN THE FIRST FEW HOURS OF THIS GAME, THEN YES, IT COMES OFF WEIRD AND SEXIST. NO DOUBT ABOUT IT.

Hulk goes through sixteen more arguments, including some of our favorite derails that we’ve all seen before on any number of topics, as well as things like “GIRLS FIGHTING BAD THINGS = FEMINISM!” and “IT’S NOT SEXIST, IT’S LAZY!”. The post ends with a rousing speech about discussion and understanding that made me applaud my computer screen. Count me as a new fan. Read it.

BONUS: Have you been reading Denis’s PokeDrag series over at Gamers With Jobs? If not, Denis has posted the first five entries in one convenient spot for you. Denis is role-playing through Pokemon FireRed as a drag queen, with a drag army of monsters. It’s really cute and funny; check it out!

FFVII Replay: “Just the same as him…”

The Final Fantasy VII logo; it reads "FINAL FANTASY VII" in a tall font superimposed on a blue monochrome image of a falling meteor.

The Final Fantasy VII logo; it reads "FINAL FANTASY VII" in a tall font superimposed on a blue monochrome image of a falling meteor.

The next segment of Final Fantasy VII is important because it introduces Aeris. But first, Cloud, Tifa, and Barret go on another mission to blow up Mako Reactor #5. The scenery is exactly the same as the first mission, though getting to the reactor is a bit different because the gang triggers the alarm system on the train and has to jump off, ending up in some sewers. On the way in, there’s the first of many goofy and badly-explained minigames: in order to open the door to the reactor (the same door that Jesse hacked last time), Barret, Tifa, and Cloud all have to hit buttons at the same time; this requires the player to time a button press so that Cloud raises his arms and then hits the button at the same time Barret and Tifa do. It was an annoying and nonsensical attempt to add variety to the gameplay.

Once at the reactor itself, Cloud has his first freakout. There is a short flashback to a scene where Tifa, dressed like a cowgirl, discovers that her dad was killed by Sephiroth and declares, “I hate them all!!” (referring to Sephiroth, Shinra, and SOLDIER). This is the first actual glimpse of the Nibelheim Incident we get in FFVII, and I was surprised at how early on it happens. It’s shown very early on that something is not right with Cloud, and it adds a layer of mystery to the story. When he regains consciousness, Cloud just says, “… Tifa?” It seems as if this was either not a memory of his, or something that had been deeply buried that he had forgotten. But why?

Cloud shakes it off and the team set the explosive and escape from the reactor–this sequence relies on the player’s memory of the first mission in order to get out–but it turns out it be a trap laid by President Shinra, who shows up on a helicopter, laughs diabolically, and sets a murderous robot on our heroes. When they defeat it, the machine explodes, causing Cloud to be separated from the group once again, this time by falling off the plate into the slums. While he’s out, he has a conversation with a disembodied voice that doesn’t really make any sense. Luckily for him, he awakes to find that the blow was softened by a flower bed in a church. It’s one of the sillier things that have happened so far.

Of course, it’s in the church that Cloud meets the flower girl, Aeris. She’s immediately intrigued by him, but their conversation (in which she mentions that she has her mother’s materia, but it’s “good for nothing”) is interrupted by some Shinra agents bursting in, led by Reno, who seems to know Cloud.

Reno from Final Fantasy VII Advent Children: a man in a suit with red hair, goggles, and some sort of baton weapon.

RENO!! (Pictured: Reno from Final Fantasy VII Advent Children: a man in a suit with red hair, goggles, and some sort of baton weapon.)

He orders his minions to get “The Ancient”–referring to Aeris, of course–and this kicks off another annoying and unexplained little minigame where Cloud has to try and prevent Shinra soldiers from getting to Aeris by pushing conveniently-placed barrels down from the rafters. I completely fail, and Aeris has to fight some Shinra hounds on her own.

Eventually, Cloud and Aeris escape through the roof and there’s a cute scene where they are talking, learning more about each other as they hop along the rooftops. Aeris asks whether Cloud was ever in SOLDIER: “I used to be.” She asks what class, and there’s a weird flash of light before Cloud answers, “First Class” (There’s Something Wrong With Cloud). She mentions his glowy Mako eyes, “Just the same as him,” and he asks how she knows about that. “Nothing!”

Cloud and Aeris make their way to Aeris’s house, where he meets her mom, Elmyra. We get another hint at Aeris’s relationship with Zack when Elmyra says, once Aeris is out of earshot, “SOLDIER… The last thing Aeris needs is getting her feelings hurt again.”

At this point there is another short flashback, this one about Cloud back home in Nibelheim, his mom bugging him about getting a girlfriend. It’s a little weird since it’s completely out of context, but it shows that getting a girlfriend isn’t one of Cloud’s priorities (although I imagine most teens would say something like “ugh, whatever, MOM” no matter what their actual interests are). Of course, this could also be a fake memory, but I don’t remember.

Anyway, Elmyra asks Cloud to leave in the middle of the night, without telling Aeris. He does, but she catches him near the entrance to Wall Market. Already we can see Aeris’s mischievous side.

The next segment is Wall Market (“This place is scary in a lot of ways. Especially for a girl.”), which has already been covered very well by Denis, so I won’t be writing about it. The next post will likely wrap up Midgar.

By the way, as mentioned in the comments on the last replay post, commenter Bel is running a Final Fantasy VII group replay over at the ff7_oldschool LJ comm, so if you’re interested in more discussion (or want a faster pace!), check it out.

Female sexuality as a weapon

With the recent release of Bayonetta, I was reminded of female sexuality being used as a weapon or a power in games. This is not an original idea. Having not played Bayonetta I will only mention some other games that use this mechanic.

Jessica from Dragon Quest 8.

The 2005 Square Enix release Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King had Jessica.  She has quite an array of aptly named Sex Appeal abilities. One of these, named Puff Puff, is to shake her chest at enemies in order to charm them. Puff puff video In order to “Focus the power of passion into a beam that sows destruction and confusion” she uses Sexy Beam.  She can Blow Kiss in order to prevent enemies from attacking.

The recent Nintendo DS game My World My Way has a main character described as a spoiled princess. She uses a pout as one of her abilities. With her Pout Points she can obtain discounts in stores, charm enemies so they do not attack her, and even automatically complete quests.

Even characters that are predominantly hard hitting, damage dealers are not immune from using their sexuality as a weapon or power. The character of Ayla in Chrono Trigger fights with her bare hands! Her abilities involve kicking and clawing at enemies except for her one sexual ability: Charm. Ayla’s Charm seduces an enemy to obtain an item.

So the question remains: what is the problem with using female sexuality as a weapon or ability? This mechanic is just part of a larger picture. It is another example that adds to the idea of women using sex appeal in order to obtain presents from their partners. Presents are not given freely, but because women “trick” or “force” their partners into gift giving. The games I listed all have women charming enemies into submission or having these enemies give them gifts of experience or items based on the character’s enticements. Yet another media that says women gain power or possessions simply through their attractiveness and not through their hard work. Ayla is a powerful fighter, and yet she still uses sexuality to obtain what she wants. A male character would just use a Steal ability, but a female entices and lures through her sexuality.