NPR’s “All Things Considered” piece on Gaming Diversity

NPR’s “All Things Considered” piece on Gaming Diversity and Video Game Violence

NPR’s “All Things Considered” has a new piece on video game diversity that reflects on their experience at this years E3. For those who don’t listen to ATC, it’s a segment show on NPR in which the correspondents go out and explore different things. This week Arun Rath reflects on his experience at E3. Spoiler alert: He didn’t spend his entire time there playing the new Battlefield.

Listen to the piece on their website or read the transcipt, it’s less than 7 minutes and an interesting insight from someone who clearly is a foreigner to the gaming community. He raises some issues we already know about, but are important nonetheless. His major focus in the lack of diversity presented in E3 among presenters and protagonist, which is true and fair. However, using E3 as a temperature for the community as a whole isn’t pragmatic. Despite this, he does an interesting enough job of bringing the issue to his listeners, a populace of people who probably don’t know much In addition, he brings up is  the amount of violent video games revealed/shown at this E3 and the amount of sequels at the show. These are fair reflections, but they may not necessarily reflect the entirety of E3. He glances over a lot of the new and unique things coming from specific developers and instead focuses on how the Oculus Rift is the next “revolution” in gaming. EH….I don’t want to comment on what I think about the OR, but I think it’s fair to say that  Rath didn’t get the full scope of E3 in the article.

It is fair to say that E3 has become dominated by violent video games. This graph, created by user timetokill on Neogaf, shows the breakdown of reveals of games that focus on shooting:

GAMERS JUST WANNA SHOOT

This generations focus on shooters is interesting, but that’s a subject for another day. E3 has always been about appealing to the console gaming masses, and this year’s was no different. With the gaming demographic expanding, hopefully in future years we’ll see the console population diversify as well. Until then, big shows like E3 are still going to be directed at their main audience: males who love shooters.

At least Nintendo is doing something….not shooting?

New Tropes VS. Women In Gaming Video: Women as Background Decoration Part 1

Anita Sarkeesian has released a new installment in her Tropes Vs. Women in Gaming video series that explores women as decorative objects in gaming. Her videos tend to be controversial amongst the gaming community, but I think she does great work to exposure a lot of the sexism and bias in the gaming community. Others may say “LOLWHATEVER”, to which I would reply “touche” .  Warning, some content in the video can be a little graphic and NSFW. Anyways, here’s a description of the video from  The Feminist Frequency website.

“In this episode we explore the Women as Background Decoration trope which is the subset of largely insignificant non-playable female characters whose sexuality or victimhood is exploited as a way to infuse edgy, gritty or racy flavoring into game worlds. These sexually objectified female bodies are designed to function as environmental texture while titillating presumed straight male players. Sometimes they’re created to be glorified furniture but they are frequently programmed as minimally interactive sex objects to be used and abused.

Sexual objectification is the practice of treating or representing a human being as a thing or mere instrument to be used for another’s sexual purposes. Sexually objectified women are valued primarily for their bodies, or body parts, which are presented as existing for the pleasure and gratification of others.”

Let me know what your stance on these videos are. Please  no “SHE STUPID. SHE NO NOTHING BOUT VIDAJ GYMES”.

Father’s Day In Gaming

Video games are full of dads. Dads over here, dads over there. And why not? Games reflect society and guess what society has a lot of? Dads. Thus, in honor of father’s day, I thought we’d look at some the best and worst fathers in video gaming history. I’ve decided to break these dads into three categories: Bad dads, Sad dads, and Rad Dads.

BAD DADS

Dads sometimes like to be bad. Could be rebellion against the feelings of being tied down by a family, or pent up anger over their favorite sports team losing the big match (THE DENVER SLIM SLAMS GOT ROBBED, HUH HONEY!?), regardless there’s a lot of bad dads out there in video games.

-Heihachi (Tekken franchise)

Kazuya Mishima, my son, this is where you die. I will see you in hell!

Fighting games seem to have a lot of bad dads, but none seem worse than Heihachi from the Tekken franchise. I know the Tekken universe is a little insane, but let’s put that all aside and look at the terrible father that is Heihachi. Let’s look at some of the fatherly things hes done over the span of the series.

  • Throws his son into a ravine and forces his son to make a deal with the devil.
  • Throws his son into an active volcano.
  • Adopts a second child to fight his biological son.
  • Enters a tournament to beat up his son and adopted son.
  • Betrays his grandson to experiment on him.
  • Shoots his grandson into space. INTO SPACE.

So there you have it. His son wants him dead, his adopted son wants him dead, and even his grandson wants him dead. That said, he has a pretty sweet bear that loves the hell out of him.

-The King of the Cosmos (Katamari Series)

“It is not your fault. It is our fault for believing in you.”

Now you may be saying ‘THE KING OF THE COSMO IS THE GREATEST!”, and yes you’d be right. However, The King of The Cosmos is a terrible father. He’s constantly destroying the cosmos on accident on either drunken binges or haphazard tennis games that make black holes and then has the nerve to make his son clean up the mess. That would be all fine and dandy, but he doesn’t give his son the credit he deserves. He constantly talking crap about all of prince’s work making stars and then takes the credit for making the stars. WHAT THE HELL!? Nothing is good enough for this bad dad, not even creating an entire sun.  He’s just a lazy, glory hogging, careless, tyrant.

Honorable mentions:

  • Kratos: Killing your wife and kids, even if being tricked by a God, is still pretty bad.

SAD DADS

Let’s face it. There’s an odd amount of sad dads in video games. This could be because video games inherently make dads sad because they remind them of their forgotten youth, or because game developers use childrens’ death as a motive for plot progression and more developed characters more often than Mario saves Peach.

Joel (The Last of Us)

READ NO FURTHER IF DON’T WANT SPOILERS!

Joel is a mix of a sad and rad dad. The game starts with Joel desperately trying to protect his daughter from the onslaught of a mysterious outbreak. He tries hard, and in his attempt you see how much he loves his daughter even as she lays dieing in his arms. 20 years later he’s a sad, hardened dad. Unlike a lot of sad dads who sit around looking at pictures of their children, this sad dad has become the ultimate survivor. Of course, throughout the game he bonds with Ellie, a young girl that is thrust into his life, and shows that he still has the fatherly nature in him. DON’T BE SO SAD, SAD DAD.

END SPOILERS.

 Bowser (Super Mario Series)

Bowser isn’t a sad dad in the normal sense of a sad dad; you’ll never see him weep into a swansons tv dinner or grow a slovenly beard over missing his kids, but he is a tragic dad. Why? Because he’s a constant failure to himself and his kid/s. All Bowser ever wants to do is capture Princess Peach so she can be the mother of his kids. He’s desperate for a female role model in his kids life. Unfortunately he’s always foiled by Mario and his goons, but that doesn’t stop him from trying. Time and time again he fails, only to rise up again and again. He’s so tragic that his own kids have disowned him (See the Koopa Kids) and his only remaining son is now deranged in his own right. It’s Okay Bowser… It aint easy being king.

Honorable mentions: 

-Doctor Light: Doesn’t have kids, so he build some. They have to save the world and almost die with each step they take.

RAD DADS

Some dads are pretty rad. Hopefully your life is filled with Rad dads; dads who go to your ballet lessons and wait in the car listening to talk radio without batting an eye. Dads who give their Sundays up to take you to some kids party you’ll realize you hate years later. These are the rad dads that make up certain video games.

Octodad

Octodad is a pretty rad dad. Why? It’s not only because he’s an octopus disguising as a human man to live a normal dad life of taking care of a wife and kids, it’s because he’s damn good at it. Contrary to naysayers who say “Octopuses can’t be good human dads!” or “He’d be as good at being a dad as an octopus could possibly be” Octodad blows all presumptions away by being an awesome dad regardless of being an octopus or not. Not only that, he does it while trying not to raise suspicion that he is an octopus; how many dads out there have to do that?

-Big Daddy (Bioshock Series)

Not all dads have blood relations to those they’re dads to, and Big Daddy is a great representation of that. What’s there to say that hasn’t been said about these massive, monstrous, creature dads in  metal suits whose sole purpose are to protect the hideous and evil little children that dwell in a post apocalyptic underwater city? Regardless of what’s been said, i’ll say it again: these dads are rad. Like mad sports dads who fly off the handle when their kids get fouled in a game, Big Daddies protect their young at all costs, and that’s a damn honorable trait.

Honorable mentions:

Hagger (Final Fight): He’s a the mayor of the city. That doesn’t mean he won’t kick some ass to save his daughter.

 

There’s some dads for ya. Let me know who your favorite video game dads are and why they deserve the respect of their peers and unsupportive children.

Fans Disappointed With Ubisoft’s Lack of Gender Choices in Upcoming Assassin’s Creed Unity

Fans Disappointed With Ubisoft’s Lack of Gender Choices in Upcoming Assassin’s Creed Unity

It’s been a fun week of demos, conferences, and mostly announcements for First Person Shooters. Between announcing games in which people shoot each others’ heads off, Ubisoft announced the newest entry into their Assassin’s Creed franchise. The game is the first game in the franchise to offer co-op play, allowing up to 4 players at once. That’s all fine and dandy, but fans are disappointed with Ubisoft for something besides them announcing another AC game; fans are upset that the game will feature no playable female characters. Alright, you may be saying “Hey, dingbat. Lots of games don’t feature female characters”, but it’s pretty silly when other games in the franchise have featured playable female characters. With 4 main protagonists in the game, surely they could have put one in.

So what’s Ubisoft gotta say about this lack of gender choices?

“It’s double the animations, it’s double the voices, all that stuff and double the visual assets…Especially because we have customizable assassins. It was really a lot of extra production work.”

DOING THINGS FOR BOTH MEN AND WOMEN IS HARD. I get it, it’s true that having to animate, design, and whatever else a female character would add production time to the game, but really? For a company like Ubisoft, who has been releasing an Assassin’s Creed game almost annually, to play the workload card is a little absurd. How about spacing the games out a little more to add this one customization in? The company went on to explain that designing a female character is increasingly difficult because they  don’t have a”female reader for the character” at their disposal, nor do they have “all the animations in place.” A spokemen went on to explain that designing a female character is different from a male one, because they look, act, and walk different. After he said that, the world smallest violin was played for him.

It’s not only fans reacting to the statements of Ubisoft either, as other game developers have added their voice to the subject matter.

Jonathan Cooper of Naught Dog calling  them out for being both lazy and…incorrect? This one  from Tim Borrelli from 5thcell is in response to female characters looking and acting different.

One last one from industry types (I forget who they are with)

All in all, fans and developers aren’t happy with Ubisofts response and laziness on the matter. Come on Ubi, you’re not an independent developer struggling here; the Assassin’s Creed franchise is a huge one and we expect more out of they. They should probably use some of that Babyz and Dogz money to fix this fiasco, but we probably won’t see that happen. Who knows how this will change future Assassin’s Creed games or ever the upcoming Unity.

BLOG NEWS!

For those who subscribe or check in regularly, you may notice the domain has lost the “wordpress” and is not just a .com! Exciting times people. We are now a registered domain! Will the blogs level of terribleness lessen? PROBBBBABBBLLLLYYYY NOOTTTTTTT

 

 

Nintendo at E3: More Gender inclusion (Is that a female Link!?)

Nintendo’s digital event went live this morning, and they showed off an array of games including the first footage of the upcoming Zelda game, Smash Brothers, and Yoshi title.

Palutena_06102014021538

As we discussed during last year’s E3, Nintendo has really been upping the amount of female protagonists in their recent titles. They are continuing this trend this year by announcing several games with playable protagonists who are female.

-Hyrule Warriors currently features 3 of 4 female characters as protagonists, including Impa, Midna, and Zelda.

-More female characters in Smash brothers than ever before, including new entries such as Palutena, Wii-Fit Trainer, and a female villager.

ZVO

However, the biggest news seems to be coming out of one of Nintendo’s biggest franchise: The Legend of Zelda. While unconfirmed, it seems as though we may be a Link whose gender is up for customization. I…can’t tell. Link has a ponytail and is certainly looking a lot more feminine than in previous entries. It could honestly go either way: is Link becoming more androgynous, or can you change the character’s gender? With the news of the gaming being more open world, it’s not unlikely that Link will be more changeable than ever before. Guess we’ll find out as more details about the game come out.

 

2014 Nielsen Report on Video Game Consumption

2014 Nielsen Report on Video Game Consumption

The folks over at the Nielsen Report (You know, the people who tell you that your favorite show will probably get canceled) have released their 2014 report on video game consumption. The Nielsen report is more of a general observation on video game consumption that other outlets. For a more detailed look, I recommend checking out the ESA’s 2014 report on video game consumption.

So what do these guys named Niels (I assume everyone that compiles this data is named Niel) have to say about video game consumption?

#1: People are spending more time playing video games!

Up from 2012 and 2011, gamers are putting more hours into gaming each week. This would mean that the average gamer puts a little less than an hour of gaming in a day. Neato.  That’s an extra hour of Pokeymans than last year! This increase could very well be due to the increase of popularity in mobile games, which enables players to play on the go.

#2: The number of console gamers who also play on mobiles is increasing!

This isn’t that surprising. As smart-phones and tablets become more and more common place so does the amount of gamers playing games on these devices. You’re not going to not playing games on a mobile device you already have, right? I mean that would be insanity…so of course I will devote days of my life to “Candy Crush” like the electronic heroine that it is.

#3: Mobile Games/Tablets are increasingly growing in the amount of gaming time played!

Although the number of hours spent on gaming is increasing, much of the share of the time is being given to mobile and tablet games. However, console games are still the norm and still make up the majority of gaming time spent. Likewise, newer consoles (Wii U/Xbox One/ PS4) are gradually building audiences while last generation consoles still make up the majority. We’ll probably see this percentages shift in the next two years, but as of this year many gamers have yet to make the jump to next gen.

That’s pretty much all the Niels have to say. Not real revelations, but interesting nonetheless. It’s pretty nifty to see in numbers the increase in popularity that video games are having. As these numbers grow, it becomes increasingly more pertinent that we evaluate all the sociological issues around video games. If only someone would do that…instead of what we’re doing here, which only amounts to nonsense.

NOW ONTO E3 WHERE ALL OF OUR DREAMS AND NIGHTMARE WILL COME TRUE!