Category Archives: Culture

Strippers versus Evil

Strippers versus evil

There are some games that make me purely ashamed to call myself a gamer. Every entertainment industry has its share of tripe, but in gaming, some of it can be really easy to spot.

The quality of a game is generally inversely proportional to the quantity of breast tissue visible in its advertising and promotional artwork.

It ain’t always so, but that’s sure the way to bet.

Traditionally, Deep Silver’s Sacred 2: Fallen Angel was the go-to example of that, for me (it’s not the only offender, and not even the worst, but I’m singling it out, here). Scantily-clad female characters with breasts as large (or larger) than their heads, bouncing and jiggling their way around the countryside to save the world in ‘armour’ (and I use the term advisedly) that would hardly be out of place in a strip-club, and that just seemingly gets scantier and more lingerie-like as its protection increases.

Puh-lease!

Because heck, a woman can’t go out to battle evil unless she looks like an itinerant underwear model, right? I mean, who is going to face giant spiders or a goblin shaman without stocking up on thigh-stockings, suspender belts and high heels?

To be fair, starting out, at least you get to look like a high-school-girl cosplayer, but it doesn’t take long before the mini-skirt has to go, to be replaced by a g-string.

Worse, I actually liked the game to which this was the regrettable sequel. Quite a bit.

Now, I don’t have an issue with the human body – like most people, I’m pretty fond of them, and I like looking at them, with and without clothes on. I think I can confidently say that you and I both, dear reader, are happy with the overall idea of seeing more naked human bodies in future. That’s all a part of being an adult and having an endocrine system, I’m sure.

That’s not really the problem that I have here.

It’s not even like X-COM: Apocalypse, the third iteration in the X-COM series, where there must have been some bet going as to just how many depictions of female and male genitalia that the art department could work into the in-game artwork without the publisher … errr … let us say “cock-blocking” it (congratulations are in order, I suppose, because it was a lot!).

And even that isn’t my problem.

What the problem is, is that it is demeaning.

Not just that it is demeaning to women – which it most obviously is – but that it’s demeaning to Deep Silver, to (the now defunct) Ascaron who developed it, to the artists, marketers, producers, designers who worked on it, and especially to the games industry (as a whole) and to gamers, to whom they apparently thought this sort of thing would be of broad appeal.

If I had this game in my work history, I’d leave a gap in my CV. I wouldn’t want anyone to know.

Now that I’m done singling out Sacred 2, additional exhibits are – alas – not nearly as uncommon as I’d like. Scarlet Blade comes immediately to mind, or League of Angels.

Now, I’m not saying that demeaning crap like this can’t be made. Freedom of speech and expression cuts both ways. It’s easy to grant that right to speech and expression that we like, agree with and approve of.

It’s when you find the speech and expression to be appalling, offensive and antithetical to your very sensibilities that you have to take a breath and remember that that kind of speech and expression has all the same rights.

That said, I’d like it if some of the people responsible for this sort of thing were to just sit back, take a breath of their own, and consider having some darned respect for women, for gamers, and for the gaming industry.

For a change.

Amnesia: The Dark Descent

Play it now – Amnesia: The Dark Descent

Play it now! Or maybe don’t play this one, actually. I likes me a good horror game, and Amnesia: The Dark Descent is a very good horror game. It’s so very good, in fact, that some of you will probably hate it.

It’s from the folks who did Penumbra, so I pre-ordered this without much in the way of hesitation.

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Stop that game!

Mafia II is a third-person action-adventure video-game following the fictional story of a man of Sicilian descent who joins an Italian crime family in the period around 1950, a time when Italian crime families were near the height of their power and influence. It’s a familiar theme, having been portrayed in books, games, movies and television for decades.

UNICO National, the largest Italian American service organisation in the USA who have never seen or played the game, nor apparently been in contact with anyone who has (because at the time of their complaint, it had not been released) are calling it “a pile of racist nonsense” and demanding that the game not be released until all Italians and Italian-Americans are removed from it.

It strikes me that this would result in a rather substandard story.

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What’s mainstream?

If you ask someone if something can or can’t be considered ‘mainstream’, the usual response involves numbers. User numbers, audience numbers, profits. Stuff like that.

The thing is that the idea that large audiences = mainstream is essentially fallacious. You tend to get much larger audiences for mainstream things, but not always. Something that is mainstream can have very small numbers indeed. Then we say it has ‘niche appeal’. Quite a lot of things we think of as mainstream fall into that category.

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The basic unit of group disagreement

It’s extremely rare that any two people possess the same basic beliefs and priorities. It might be so rare, that it doesn’t actually happen at all. We’re all at least partially aware that if you dig deep enough, any superficial resemblance in the beliefs and priorities of any two people is fundamentally erased.

That doesn’t stop us giving each-other crap because someone fails to precisely conform with our views. I’ll be talking some more about that, but right now, I’m going to talk about Jack Thompson.

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A few words about horror

Fragiles (2005)

Horror. It’s difficult to actually even define what it actually is, and it overlaps into so many other spheres that it isn’t really easy to define what it is not. I’ve talked about a few horror-themed games, and I’ll be talking about some more later, so now is as good a time as any to talk a bit about it.

Many of the masters of horror have managed solid efforts, without shocks, scares, or blood. When I think of horror, I think of it not as something that frightens us, but something that unsettles us.

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