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by G. Christopher Williams

16 Nov 2011

If video games often tell the story of the boy saving the girl (from another castle, from a very large ape, or whatever) by allowing the player to take on that gendered role of hero and protagonist, it does raise the question of what the end goal of a player taking on the role of the girl in this oft told scenario should be.

And, of course, it might also imply that the role of the girl in this scenario is to be taken.

by G. Christopher Williams

9 Nov 2011

Kirk Hamilton’s article on Batman: Arkham City and his perception that the word “bitch” is overused by the game’s various thugs and villains has (among other essays concerned with Arkham City‘s approach to women) been making the rounds for a couple of weeks now to both positive and negative response.

Hamilton’s essay is thoughtful and not especially knee-jerk in its consideration of the game’s events and dialogue.  For instance, he writes:

As you make your way around Arkham, you’ll overhear goons from the various factions talking about current events, and every time they talk about Harley Quinn, the B-word gets dropped at least once. Often more than once. “That bitch,” “That crazy bitch,” etc.
To those playing the game: it’s weird, right? Batman: Arkham Asylum‘s Weird ‘Bitch’ Fixation”, Kotaku, 19 October 2011).

While Hamilton seems to want to pose a rhetorical question, I think that it is at least a legitimate question and one that is more open for consideration, perhaps, than a rhetorical question should be.  In answering that question for myself: no, I’m not sure that I immediately feel that it is as weird as he does.  While I think that I essentially agree with his point that “there’s a fine line between edgy dialogue and forced, angry overkill” in fiction, I don’t think that those who argue that convicts and super criminals overusing a slur against women has some ring of authenticity to it are entirely crazy either.

by G. Christopher Williams

2 Nov 2011

In addition to serving as host for the Moving Pixels podcast here at PopMatters, Rick Dakan was a founder of Cryptic Studios and the original Lead Designer for City of Heroes, is the author of the Geek Mafia trilogy and Cthulhu Cult: A Novel of Obsession from Arcane Wisdom, and is also currently planning a kickstarter program for the newly formed game development company, Mob Rules.

Mob Rules takes its name seriously and is experimenting with ways to connect game developers with their audience right from the outset of production.

Those interested in Mob Rules, the game that they will be working on, or in getting involved in the community can check out their web site here.

by G. Christopher Williams

26 Oct 2011

Returning to a bloodstain, a virtual scar marking the world of Dark Souls is a common enough occurrence.  The game’s box announces to the player, “Prepare to Die!”, after all.

Dying is an essential experience in Dark Souls, as it seemingly is in most video games, where an understanding of extra lives and of health bars are an essential part of living in virtual worlds.

by G. Christopher Williams

19 Oct 2011

I only half watched Sony’s new “Michael” ad late one night (see below if you haven’t seen it yet), as I was fixing myself something to eat during a commercial break.  I stopped, somewhat mesmerized by the array of video game characters that suddenly appeared as (more or less) live action characters on my television screen.

The sight of a “real” Solid Snake discussing war in a throaty whisper was what gave me pause. Then I was kind of charmed by a portal opening behind the flaming head of Sweetooth and catching a fleeting glimpse of Chell briefly flitting by.  It was the Little Sister, peering at me through the crowd in that ever eerily distant way, that left me a little stunned.

I’m not sure exactly why.  It was seeing that strange creature transported out of her home medium into the “real world” of the televisual that made me realize that “my characters” had somehow arrived in what I think of as the “real” mainstream media.  You know, television, that thing that my mother and father watch, not video games—that space left for me (a late-thirtysomething in obvious arrested development) and the kids.

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