Even though we’re in the thick of new release season, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about a ten-year-old game. Of course, Ico isn’t just any old game, and its recent HD remastering provides ample justification for replaying it. This time around, the critical distance and sharpened visuals gave me a fresh perspective on the game. After experiencing Ico again, its confidence in the player, stark environments, and mysterious story struck me as decisions that were as brave as they are artistic.
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Last year it was 2s. This year it’s 3s.
Battlefield 3, Gears of War 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Saints Row: The Third, Uncharted 3 . . . And then, of course, there’s just a lot of other franchise entries, like Batman: Arkham City or, say, Need for Speed: The Run.
Sexuality in games is a contentious topic. Few see video games as open or mature enough to express ideas and create experiences concerning sexuality for players to explore. It’s also rarely pleasant to talk about the topic, usually any arguments settle on the accusation of games as serving as wish fulfillment for heterosexual men and the more vocal of said demographic replying with a “So what?” What’s often overlooked is the possibility of the sexualization of men, as if it’s not an option.
My title is misleading; games don’t usually sexualize men. As frequently suggested when discussing the Male Gaze theory in film studies and neatly tied into relevancy for our purposes by Kate Cox in “The Gamer’s Gaze,” men are not sexualized in most media (“The Gamer Gaze, part 1”, Your Critic is in Another Castle, 20 June 2011). Because there is a large presence of the heterosexual man’s identity in the development process and in gaming’s audience, the perceived “neutral” vision of game design takes on the influence of the socially appropriate interests specific to straight men. The lack of men’s sexualization is a product of the average straight guy’s impulse to avoid appearing or feeling gay. Men have a fig leaf of sorts when it comes to camera work and character design, while women get more attention and exposure. What sexual bits we do see are “safe” for heterosexual men to view without feeling like they’re watching something “gay,” such as muscular arms or exposed torsos. A common counter-argument concerns the issue of men’s impossible body image in games, which is definitely important, but mostly a different discussion to tackle. The aesthetic of muscles denote strength, agency, and power for the assumed male player to relate to, while emphasis on T&A when viewing women only serves as fan-service. Both rely on problematic ideals, but there is still a power relation present in theis representation that favors men.
Due to some technical difficulties on my end, Jorge Albor quite graciously (and quite last minute) filled in as host for this episode. This is probably for the best, as he probably did a better job at moderating this conversation than I ever could have. (For those unfamiliar with Jorge, you really should check out he and Scott Juster’s weekly gaming podcast at ExperiencePoints.net—it’s well worth your time.).
So, this week features a host of new voices alongside Jorge, some of whom identify as gamers and some of whom do not, as the Moving Pixels podcast attempts to explore the concept of the so-called “girlfriend on a couch game.” As a phrase coined by journalists to describe a particular kind of game, the “girlfriend on a couch game” seems like one in need of some discussion. We decided, though, not to discuss “girlfriend on a couch games” but instead to see if we could find out what kind of spectators these supposed games are geared for by talking to some “girlfriends on couches” themselves.
A feature abandoned in Grand Theft Auto IV, sex appeal was a quality that was represented by a meter in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. The meter measured the sex appeal of the protagonist of that game, CJ Johnson, which was a quality that the player could alter through the manipulation of various stereotypical representations of his avatar.
The better dressed that CJ was, the higher his sex appeal meter. Likewise, a sex appeal bonus boosted the stat temporarily when CJ exited cars. Exiting a pick up truck would fail to impress the opposite sex much. However, pick up a date in a sports car, and you could expect a favorable response to the character.
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"Mystery writer Arthur B. Reeve's influence in this film doesn't follow convention -- it follows his invention.READ the article