Thursday, January 24, 2013

Internet Fodder

I chose Spec Ops: The Line as my game of the year for 2012 because, amongst other reasons, I saw it as evidence that (mainstream) video games were maturing. Yahtzee agreed in his review of the game, and also chose it as his game of the year in his Top 5 of 2012.

But then Deep Silver announced the Zombie Bait edition of Dead Island: Riptide, the sequel to Dead Island. It was to be made available exclusively to the UK and would include a rather silly and distasteful 30cm-high bikini-clad, torn and bloodied female torso. I say "would have" because since the announcement of the Zombie Bait edition the Internet has been in an uproar and Deep Silver has issued a lame apology for it, leaving its actual release in doubt.

Publishers and studios are always offering up all sorts of crap to sell and promote their games, but this torso statue is shameful and offensive. To some, it's offensive because it's misogynistic and exemplifies the kind of objectification that women face everyday, and that excludes women from games and the games industry. To others, it and the reaction to it is silly, and a matter for satire. It is offensive to me because it makes assumptions about its audience and because it makes video games look like a hobby for kids.

There are some who would argue that it does not necessarily reflect poorly on the industry as a whole, but I disagree with that. You see, the Zombie Bait edition is just the kind of stupidity that the mainstream media and non-gamers like to grab hold of when they need something to blame for society's lastest deviant act. It's the kind of thing that makes games look like a frivolous, childish, time-wasting hobby rather than the expressive, insightful, artistic medium that it can be. And although non-gamers usually have no idea what they're talking about when it comes to games, it gets a little tiresome and difficult defending them against crap like this.

I hope Deep Silver does not release the Zombie Bait edition with the torso statue. Perhaps it could include something just as tasteless, but less objectionable, like a foot, a hand, or even a bloodied melee weapon. Whatever it decides to do, it has certainly managed to create talk about the game, which is, I'm sure, what it intended all along. That, too, is shameful.

Giant Bomb's Patrick Klepek has posted a discussion article on the Zombie Bait issue. It includes opinions on the matter from eight women who are employed in the video game industry. The article itself is great, but if you're looking for some good laughs, check out the comments thread.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Articles You Should Read

A few articles to stir your thoughts.

Patricia Hernandez, Endless War: How Shooting Games Perpetuate War As the New Normal
These mechanics tap into compulsion, sure, but also relay the message that perpetual war is necessary for your development as a subject, and the means through which someone becomes empowered. Here, too, there’s an empty promise: despite how long a player might develop a character, “prestige-ing” means that the process is never-ending. You reach your level cap just to start it over again and again and again.

Declan Skews, Communicating Games: Vilolence, Consequences and Barriers
Communicating the passion, the beauty; the romance of games to non-gamers is a task that can oftentimes seem impossible. How do you explain the draw of sneaking down a corridor, slowly losing your sanity, in Amnesia? What’s so appealing about repeatedly dying and becoming frustrated with Dark Souls? Why bother to learn new and confusing button configurations to play Uncharted, when you could just pop Indiana Jones into the DVD player? How do you explain to someone why it’s fun to massacre wave upon wave of seemingly helpless bad guys?

Real and Virtual Firearms Nurture Marketing Link over at the New York Times online takes a look at the relationship between video game publishers and firearms manufacturers, with a focus on EA's Medal of Honor: Warfighter. Click the link for The McMillan Group in the second paragraph. You'll either be surprised or disgusted by what you see.

Over at Killscreen Joseph Bernstein has a brief article on the massive growth in the gaming industry in China.

Harris O'Malley writes about Male Privilege in video games and so-called nerd culture in Nerds and Male Privilege over at Kotaku.
Y'see, one of the issues of male privilege as it applies to fandom is the instinctive defensive reaction to any criticism that maybe, just maybe, shit's a little fucked up, yo. Nobody wants to acknowledge that a one-sided (and one-dimensional) portrayal of women is the dominant paradigm in gaming; the vast majority of female characters are sexual objects.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

My Games of 2012

It's been a while since I posted anything, but certainly not as long as this guy, a guy whose writing I used to enjoy. I don't really have an excuse for not writing except for some imagined problems and something I could pass off as a mid-life crisis --- yes, I am old ---. So, as I shuffle them off I shall put forth a stronger effort to post more frequently --- starting with today's post.

There were many games that I wanted to play in 2012, but I only got round to playing a few of them. And the few that I did play were largely disappointing. Check them out after the page jump.