Thursday, February 07, 2013

J.J., BioWare, Juvenile, and Feminisim. Mouthfull!

Today is one of those days where a lot of stuff exploded online that I’m having difficultly picking a topic. So you’re getting a mesh of stuff.

First: J.J. Abrams is going to work with Valve to make a game!

Pro: “We’re not looking to make a movie in the gaming world.”  Good. Glad to hear that J.J. because video games are not movies.

Con: Aren’t you going to be a little busy over the next few years? Disney is really pushing for a Star Wars VII to be released yesterday. You’re heavily promoting the new Star Trek movie and game. You have a ton of other projects on the table that you keep discussing. Are you really sure you want to add in one more? A human can only handle so much before their brain breaks.

Second: Chris Priestly, BioWare forum community manager, was very blunt about calling the next Mass Effect, ME4. Why? It’s causing a disservice to the game that’s still in talks.

Having read his posts during the Star Wars TOR beta, that’s pretty normal for Chris. He lays it out just like it is and makes no apologies. We like Chris. But he also has a point. The new Mass Effect game is not a continuation of the Sheppard story, so tagging it with a 4 is moot. It’ll be an entirely separate entity.  

"That is the only detail you have on the game [no Shep]. I see people saying 'well, they'll have to pick a canon ending'. No, because the game does not have to come after. Or before. Or off to the side. Or with characters you know. Or yaddayaddayadda. Wherever, whenever, whoever, etc will all be revealed years down the road when we actually start talking about it."

(Scroll about a third of the way down to see his post.) There will be speculation and interest, of course. But to tag it as ME4 is presumptuous and does not reflect the stand BioWare wants to take with this game. It makes sense, but you know fans. They’ll keep pushing. BW just doesn’t want it to be stigmatized from the get-go.

Third: David Cage of Quantic Dream, Heavy Rain, gave a presentation at DICE 2013 about why video games need to grow up, and how it can be achieved. In the past 40 years, video games really haven’t changed. With the exception of a select few, you’re expected to run through a level, collect money, shoot/jump on/run over the enemy, and save the day. Different twists on the design have appeared over time, but when you get down the to the basics, it’s the same set up over and over again.

Cage believes in needing to change our paradigms: can the industry make a game without guns, driving, etc.? The importance of meaning, focusing on minds, bringing in new and different talents outside of the gaming industry, and gamers ultimately hold the power to choose where the medium will go.

The last point stuck out to me. It’s something I have been exhaustively stating for years. You buy crap, they will keep making crap. You buy innovative, unique games, they’ll continue to make new content.  There is hope for the industry and a chance for video games to evolve, but everyone needs to be involved in the process to make it happen.

Fourth: I found this article by the Florida Tech Crimson. Unpopular Opinion: Feminism and video games.  Initially it was making sense. This idea that female characters are evolving in games, but not as we perceive it. We are visual creatures, so we see women in latex nun outfits and think “well, that’s not really pushing forward with feminism.” Or we see the new Laura Croft showing pain, bleeding, constantly fighting against her emotions and injuries to survive. But as Angelina Bonilla points out in her piece, that’s not a bad thing. If anything, that makes Laura Croft even more human because she’s showing real emotion.

One part of this debate/issue is that people assume emotions are equated to weakness. If you cry, show sorrow, or anything considered “weepy” you are labeled as feminine. Emotions make a character more compelling. We are more likely to relate to them if we see their vulnerabilities. I wouldn’t want a female character to be a stone wall. I want them to have feelings while being strong protagonists. There’s nothing wrong with having both.

And then it degenerates about the male on male sexual aggressions in Far Cry 3. At that point I stopped reading. It was just getting too washy about the point being made. But yes, emotions shouldn’t deem a character as weak. They are empowering and when we realize that, we’ll be able to move forward in the debate. 

Keeping you busy on The Geek Spot.


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