Tag Archives: games

They Might Be Linkspam (23 April 2013)

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on delicious or pinboard.in or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

Quick hit: Top Girl, Rock Bottom

I’ve played some pretty terrible video games, but this sounds like it may be a candidate for the worst game ever:

And that’s when it hits me, the one brilliant thing about this game: there is something in it for everyone. Everyone who plays it would find something in it that they hate.

Feminists would hate it. “Men’s Rights Activists” would hate it. Parents already hate it. Left-wingers would hate the consumerism and the objectification of women; right-wingers would hate the sexualization of young girls. Economists, as I’ve said above, would be baffled. Grammar enthusiasts would be appalled at its many punctuation and spelling errors. Models would hate that it makes modeling look easier and less cutthroat than it is. Fashion designers and artists would hate it for all the mismatched, misguided styling choices. My father would hate this game and Caryl Churchill would hate this game. Israelis and Palestinians would hate this game. We would all be united by our hatred of this, the most useless, uninteresting, universally offensive game known to humanity.

Read the rest of Mara Wilson’s detailed and funny review here: Top Girl: The Game for Everyone!

Quick Hit: Sexism In Games Bingo

Tired of hearing the same arguments regarding sexism in games? Here’s a sexism in games bingo card by @fireholly99.

Trigger Warning: Includes mention of violence against women.

Additional Warning: This card has been copied verbatim and includes slurs and other derogatory language that we wouldn’t normally allow here because I felt it was more effective when allowed to parrot inappropriate comments than it would be if I reworded. This is not going to be extended to the comments, however, so please adhere to our comment policy there.

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But men are all super-buff, they’re sexually objectified too! But it’s not FOR women. If they can’t deal with it, they shouldn’t be here. She might play games, but she’s not a REAL gamer, she’s just attention whoring. Chainmail bikinis are unrealistic, but’s not realistic for a woman to be fighting anyway. YOU’RE the one who hates women – you’re saying they can’t be both sexy AND tough.

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But they call her a ‘bitch’ because they’re the bad guys. No-one gives a shit about this sexism stuff, I’m just here for the review scores. I am a feminist and love women because they are inherently too nurturing and responsible to play video games. The only reason a guy could have to care about sexism is so women will think he’s sensitive and want to fuck him. But we have equality, there are nonsexualised female characters, like… Samus except when she takes off her Suit…

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But there are sexualised male characters, like… uh, Marcus Fenix is sexy, right? I don’t know, I’m not a fag. Men want to WATCH desirable women and women want to BE desirable women, so no-one wants sexy male characters except gay guys. GET BACK IN THE KITCHEN AND MAKE ME A SANDWICH There are women who get their genitals ritually mutilated and you’re complaining about video game boobies? So you think all female characters should be ugly and dress in burqas.

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Girl who likes video games? You only have interests because you’re not thin enough to have a real boyfriend. Yeah, the story, dialogue and character design is all sexist, but everyone can enjoy the amazing gameplay. As a woman, it doesn’t bother me, so no-one else is allowed to be bothered. Why should I care about this so-called ‘unfair’ depiction of women when women have more rights than men nowadays and feminists are trying to destroy capitalism? But trash talk is normal on XBL. Women are just too sensitive to rape threats and feigned masturbation.

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How can it be sexist when women in REAL history were their husband’s property? How can it be sexist when women in REAL life are weaker and wear less clothing than men? If you didn’t want attention for being a girl you wouldn’t be using a female name in your tag or speak with a female voice. Everyone knows ‘sex sells’, and the developers are just making things they think will sell. But I’ve suffered oppression too, as a black/ poor/ gay/ nerdy/ girlfriendless MAN! What about my feelings? It’s just a game. No-one cares.

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8 cupcakes in an assortment of coloured silicone cups with white icing and green or blue sprinkles. Each cupcake has a fondant angry bird or green pig atop it. There is one pig with bruises and the mustached pig. They are surrounded by the single big blue angry bird, a bundle of 3 little blue angry birds, the white bomber bird, the black bomb bird, the yellow torpedo bird and the red bird.

Angry noms

I just spotted a picture of angry bird cupcakes drift past in my Google+ stream. Unfortunately when I clicked on it, it reported the site was over quota. Oh well.

So I hopped over to flickr and found you some.

8 cupcakes in an assortment of coloured silicone cups with white icing and green or blue sprinkles. Each cupcake has a fondant ball shaped like an angry bird or green pig atop it. There is one pig with bruises and the mustached pig. They are surrounded by the single big blue angry bird, a bundle of 3 little blue angry birds, the white bomber bird, the black bomb bird, the yellow torpedo bird and the red bird.

If you feel like geeking out in the kitchen, there’s even an award winning tutorial. There’s also a few other gamer entries on the instructables competition results page.

The plight of the Straight, Male Gamer

If you’re not a gamer, perhaps you haven’t seen this post entitled Bioware Neglected Their Main Demographic: The Straight Male Gamer which complains about the romance options in Dragon Age II. [Warning: minor spoilers for Dragon Age II about which characters are romance options.]

In every previous BioWare game, I always felt that almost every companion in the game was designed for the male gamer in mind. Every female love interest was always written as a male friend type support character. In Dragon Age 2, I felt like most of the companions were designed to appeal to other groups foremost, Anders and Fenris for gays and Aveline for women given the lack of strong women in games, and that for the straight male gamer, a secondary concern. It makes things very awkward when your male companions keep making passes at you. The fact that a “No Homosexuality” option, which could have been easily implemented, is omitted just proves my point. I know there are some straight male gamers out there who did not mind it at and I respect that.

When I say BioWare neglected The Straight Male Gamer, I don’t mean that they ignored male gamers. The romance options, Isabella and Merrill, were clearly designed for the straight male gamers in mind. Unfortunately, those choices are what one would call “exotic” choices. They appeal to a subset of male gamers and while its true you can’t make a romance option everyone will love, with Isabella and Merrill it seems like they weren’t even going for an option most males will like. And the fact is, they could have. They had the resources to add another romance option, but instead chose to implement a gay romance with Anders.

When I saw this, I was torn between horrible gleeful schadenfreude at how hurt this guy was over not getting his preferred romance options… and wishing that *life* came with options whereupon I could flip a switch and not have people who I found sexually unattractive hit on me ever again. (In my case, the switch would specify “no otaku/japanophiles”) Oh, and wondering if I counted as an “exotic” choice in real life (again, see “no otaku”).

And then there’s the twitter commentary from @sparkyclarkson:

Man, I hope Duke Nukem has an option to turn heterosexual content off.

While schadenfreude might be fun, it’s hardly something to be proud of, much less something I’d feel a need to crow about here. What makes this a story worth posting about is actually the response from Bioware’s David Gaider:

The romances in the game are not for “the straight male gamer”. They’re for everyone. We have a lot of fans, many of whom are neither straight nor male, and they deserve no less attention. We have good numbers, after all, on the number of people who actually used similar sorts of content in DAO and thus don’t need to resort to anecdotal evidence to support our idea that their numbers are not insignificant… and that’s ignoring the idea that they don’t have just as much right to play the kind of game they wish as anyone else. The “rights” of anyone with regards to a game are murky at best, but anyone who takes that stance must apply it equally to both the minority as well as the majority. The majority has no inherent “right” to get more options than anyone else.

[...]
And if there is any doubt why such an opinion might be met with hostility, it has to do with privilege. You can write it off as “political correctness” if you wish, but the truth is that privilege always lies with the majority. They’re so used to being catered to that they see the lack of catering as an imbalance. They don’t see anything wrong with having things set up to suit them, what’s everyone’s fuss all about? That’s the way it should be, any everyone else should be used to not getting what they want.

[...]
And the person who says that the only way to please them is to restrict options for others is, if you ask me, the one who deserves it least. And that’s my opinion, expressed as politely as possible.

You can scroll down on the forum post to read his full response. Given that we get so many stories about how game companies are just pandering to their supposed straight young male market, it’s really nice to see a company standing up for their choice to make a game that appeals to a wider audience, even at risk of alienating a few of the “majority” in the process.

More commentary here: “Straight Male Gamer” told to “get over it’ by BioWare.

Angry Birds!

As I mentioned in Some reasons I’m looking forwards to PAX East, my friends and I have been making angry birds to play with at PAX East this weekend. I finally took some pictures and hopefully you can indulge me in sharing my glee over my geeky creations:

We’re hopping to play some line games with random strangers and toss some into crowds to see what happens. If you’re looking to spot me or my companions at PAX east, we’ll have a few of these pinned to the outside of our bags, and we’ll be goofing off with them when we’ve got time to spare waiting for concerts and such.

I made my own patterns for these because I wanted smaller simpler ones so I could make plenty of birds before the con, and I’m hoping to write up these easy angry bird patterns to share when I’ve got time to take a few in-progress photos to go with them. But if you’re dying to make your own Angry Birds right now, I highly recommend you check out Itsy Bitsy Spider’s patterns (ravelry link) The red bird pattern is free, and the rest are only a few dollars each.

And if you’re going to be at PAX east and want to be all crafty, apparently there’s a stitch and b*tch going on on Saturday 1:30-3pm in the handheld lounge. How fun is that?

And before I finish this post… here’s more pictures of my angry birds! That’s not even all of them, just the ones that happen to be in my house right now. I can’t wait to see what it looks like when we have them all together.

More real things

I think I’m going to start a new segment here, because I’ve just found another bit of awesome, nerdy stuff on the internet that would at very least amuse many geek women.

I shall call it Awesome Nerdy Shit. Yeah, I’m not so imaginative today. I’ve also retroactively tagged the Ada Lovelace Steampunk from last week and the nerdy jewellery post from last year.

Without further ado, another from the nerd couture files: The Vintage Doctor (click the screenshots to go to the product pages).

A screenshot of the website displaying a mannequin wearing a vintage style halterneck dress made of blue star wars fabric.

A screenshot of the website displaying a mannequin wearing a vintage style halterneck dress made of blue star wars fabric.

A screenshot of the shop site displaying a mannequin wearing an overbust corset with a large picture of Mario with red and white polkadot trim.

A screenshot of the shop site displaying a mannequin wearing an overbust corset with a large picture of Mario with red and white polkadot trim.

A screenshot of the shop website displaying a photo of a woman with blonde and pink dreadlocks wearing an underbust corset made of batman emblem print with yellow trim.

A screenshot of the shop website displaying a photo of a woman with blonde and pink dreadlocks wearing an underbust corset made of batman emblem print with yellow trim.

Who says geeky can’t be feminine?

Some reasons I’m looking forwards to PAX East

A few Penny Arcade fans with little grasp of basic human decency and even less grasp of basic grammar and spelling have really been making for an unpleasant week. The last linkspam has related links if you’re curious. It’s not pretty.

BUT… I actually have tickets for PAX East. I decided to go long before this whole debacle because I’ve enjoyed PAX prime in the past, and a friend of mine has had an incredibly rough year so a bunch of us planned the trip partially as a present to her. She’s much more important to me than a bunch of jerks are, so backing out is not an option for me.

Rather than let the actions of a few people ruin something I enjoy, I’m going to step away from that part of things and talk about why I’m still excited about the trip.

  1. Jane McGonigal is a keynote speaker! She’s done some amazing work on gaming and how it can be used to make more real-world impact, and when I was still teaching game design, I’d often talk about her work with my students. She’s an awesome female game designer and an inspiring speaker. I’ve watched her TED talk, and I’m totally stoked about seeing her keynote.
  2. Angry Birds! My friend and I have been crocheting angry birds and greedy pigs from the game Angry Birds to use for playing line games with strangers. We’ll set up some structures with the pigs and offer up birds to knock them over. Or maybe we’ll just make angry bird noises and toss them into crowd to see what happens (we’re hoping to have a bunch to give away!) Line games are a real feature at PAX, since you do spend a lot of time waiting in line, and in previous years my group has had a ball meeting strangers next to us in line and playing DS games or just chatting. Honestly, I’m not usually a fan of waiting, but it makes a break from the noisier show floor and a great excuse to meet people who are at least interested in the same panel.
  3. Okay, I’m not done with the Angry Birds thing yet. Check out this partially finished amigurumi cutie I made while hashing out a pattern for smaller birds!

    Not so angry bird amigurumi

    Not so angry bird amigurumi
    by Terriko.

    He’s too little to be angry!

    Actually, I’ve been having way too much fun making geeky amigurumi lately. Check out kirby’s epic yarn yawn and the lemmings I made for my mother (who is totally a hardcore gamer when it comes to Lemmings.) And I even mailed a friend a bob-omb. (“Can I have your new address?” “Are you going to send me a bomb?”) I tend to wing it a lot when making things, but Nerdigurumi is a great place to start if you want geeky patterns.

  4. Awesome friends! I’ve got a nicely-sized gang of friends going, so if I’m feeling shy I don’t have to talk to anyone I don’t know. I’m particularly looking forwards to vacationing with this year’s party, and I expect those of us travelling together will have a total blast in transit too.
  5. Concerts! With geeky music! I love live music, but often shows are marred by drunken morons. However, on top of not allowing booth babes, PAX also has all-ages evening shows all ages so there’s no booze. Yeay for feeling safer and not having to deal with drunks who bash into me! Plus thanks to the popularity of music games, you can’t beat a gamer crowd for ability to clap in time and sing in tune. (It totally freaked me out the first time I heard everyone *actually* clapping in unison.) And I’m still amused by the Nintendo DSes being used in place of lighters/cell phones:

    Rock show DS

    Rock show DS
    by Terriko.

  6. New games! I love getting to try new demos and poke around games I maybe wouldn’t have tried except that there happened to be a controller free. I often wind up with some beta keys to share, too, so I can do things like check out the big lego massively multiplayer game in my own time and even with friends. And it’s not just computer and console games: I love walking into the board game rooms and immediately having someone flag us down to try something out. “You’ve got to try this game! It’s called ‘We didn’t playtest this at all!’” (turns out it’s a fun, quick, if exceptionally silly card game!)
  7. Swag! I got a dozen T-shirts at PAX prime in 2010, and some of them even fit me beautifully! Other favourites include posters, fun buttons, cute plushies and even an amazing artbook from the Guild Wars 2 team. Last time I brought back a paper zombie cone (from Plants Vs Zombies) to give to a young girl who I know loved the game.
    safety cones plus zombie safety cones

    safety cones plus zombie safety cones
    by Solarbird.
  8. Costumes and gamer geek wear! We probably aren’t going to have any big costumes ourselves this year, but it’s a great excuse to wear goofy hats, and I love seeing what other people have done. Check out the koopa backpack I made for last time:

    Incomplete winged koopa backpack

    Incomplete winged koopa backpack
    by Terriko.

    It’s neat to see people showing the world what games they enjoy.

So there’s a few reasons and I’m feeling better already. Anyone got any upcoming events you’re excited about? Anyone planning to go to the first GirlGeekCon in the fall which promises to be a potential alternative for women who (understandably) might prefer to give PAX a miss? Anyone been making neat amigurumi or other geeky toys and want to share? Let me know.

NOTE: I’m really serious about wanting this post to be about fun stuff: a unicorn chaser to this week for me. So please, you want to be negative, try another post. The latest linkspam may be an appropriate place for such things. They will not be published on this post.

Everyone gets a linkspam! (27th January, 2011)

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the geekfeminism tag on delicious or the #geekfeminism tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

Women in modern games: WoW Cataclysm has some pretty cool women in it. Let’s hope for a trend!

We’ve filled a lot of linkspams with discussion of negative reviews of World of Warcraft from the feminist perspective. While I still think “I KILL THINGS WITH MY LADYBITS” may be the best description of fantasy art I’ve ever read, it does get tiresome hearing again and again how dubious the gaming industry’s attitude towards women can be. (Not because that’s the wrong impression, but because it’s so bloody obvious at times that it hurts to be reminded.) So I was really happy to see Now that’s what I’m talking about: the women of Cataclysm (Alliance edition). It’s nice to see Blizzard improving upon their often problematic depictions of women. Here’s a teaser:

Fanny Thundermar

Fanny Thundermar

Fanny Thundermar from WoW: Cataclysm
(Yes, she’s toting an iron skillet. Do not mock the skillet. You will regret that decision almost immediately. Remember the lesson of Samwise Gamgee.)

I really hesitate to go too far into this, but, really, Fanny is a great example of turning something on its ear. In this case, the Princess, to be married, is kidnapped, and must be rescued by all the manly men! Surely, this will end in tears.

Except, not so much.

Fanny, you see, is not one to take being kidnapped lightly, and the ONLY thing that kept her from pounding every ogre head in sight into the ground was the rescuer. In essence, we get to rescue the ogres from HER.

Read more about Fanny and the other women of Cataclysm in the original post: Now that’s what I’m talking about: the women of Cataclysm (Alliance edition).

I’d only ever encountered one of these characters since I’m more of a Horde kinda girl (and not a frequent player at that), and now I’m kinda sad to know that I was missing out on a couple more interesting women. And I’m hoping there’s plenty of great characters in other games too.

Here’s the one that most recently struck me:

Yuriko from Puzzle Bots

Yuriko from Puzzle Bots

Yuriko from Puzzle Bots

I think Yuriko especially made an impression because I first heard about Puzzle Bots from Melissa’s negative review of the character profiles, and Digital Changeling’s concerns about the stereotyping. So yes, she starts as an incredibly problematic shy, smart Japanese girl stereotype (and one I’m especially inclined to dislike as it’s one people apply to me). What surprised me when I got to play Puzzle Bots myself is that even in a very short game, Yuriko actually grew considerably from her initial characterization. I can’t really give details without spoiling the (rather touching) end of the game, but I have to say that part of why I adored her so much was that she started as a problematic stereotype but was able to move past that and it’s most definitely implied that she’ll be growing even more. Despite the problematic stereotypes (nothing you don’t see watching movies already) I’d totally give this game to a younger girl as long as I was pretty sure she’d complete it to find out how much more awesome Yuriko can be.

So here’s your chance to warm my heart even more: what great characters have you seen in modern games? Let’s not let the industry rest on its laurels and concentrate on characters from games released in the past two years or so.