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Oh my bouncing breasts, how handsome you are! - Tactical Ninja

Aug. 17th, 2011

09:50 am - Oh my bouncing breasts, how handsome you are!

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Yesterday afternoon I went home early because of a heavy snow warning in the hill suburbs. Imagine my disappointment when we got one half-hearted hour of slushy snow, followed by sleet, followed by hail, followed by a return to normal programming - in Wellington that means horizontal freezing rain blasted in on a 60km/hr southerly. This morning all the snow was gone.

On the upside, I suspect the airport disturbances will stop and my headlong hurtle into 30 degrees+ will go ahead as planned. Yay!

And since it was an 'inside by the fire' kind of night and I'd just handed in my presentation on Anonymous* for Thursday, I took the opportunity to finish my second playthrough of Dragon Age: Origins. And then I woke up this morning and spotted a link to this: an interesting article in Filament about women (or the lack of them) in the videogame production industry.


Now, I'm a gamer but not a programmer. I have done some programming, and one of my first major projects when computers found their way into schools was to debug the game Transylvania on our school's Apple II in Basic. However I've never had the urge to make games, rather to play them.

There was a big chunk of my life where I didn't have a computer, but when I got one the first thing that took my interest was minesweeper. OMG logic game! Only usually there comes a point where you have to make a guess, which made it lose its shine pretty quickly. Shortly after that my brother gave me a copy of Heroes 3, and I still play this on occasion. Little pixellated god-view critters, I <3 you!

Then followed all sorts of experimentation: Road Rash, Tekken, Spyro the Dragon, Unreal Tournament, Bejewelled, Plants vs Zombies, Bloons, Heroes 4 (which was never as good IMO), World of Warcraft, Baldur's Gate, Planescape: Torment, The Witcher, Settlers 7, Portal, Dragon Age: Origins... the list goes on.

I can honestly say that every time I've spent decent money to upgrade my machine, it's been driven by a desire to play a game. Hardcore gamers out there will probably notice a lack of some of the classics in there - wot no Wolfenstein? No Tomb Raider, no Doom, and where on earth is Mass Effect? Well, I've come to the conclusion that being a little bit obsessive means that I tend to get a game and play it to death and while I'm doing that I miss out on 20 others. I will go back and try something if it's recommended (I did this with Baldur's Gate) but it means there are gaps in my gaming. There's also a theme - I like world-building games, strategy games and RPGs mostly. Less keen on first-person shooters and racing games. Tekken I found.. boring.

There are several reasons I've returned to Dragon Age. First, I've never played a rogue and wanted to give that a runthrough (I like it!). Second and importantly for me, on the first playthrough I played it pretty straight - picked the honourable answers, courted Alistair, killed the dragon yadda yadda. But DA:O has been designed to have a lot of options with the sideplots - and this romance business, while perhaps cheesy and bordering on embarrassing in the G-rated cutscene department, does add to the interest of the story. It's not just hacking and slashing monsters, and that makes it more immersive. So this time through my aim was to sex up as many of the characters as possible. And I did. It went like this:

Leliana --> foursome with Leliana, Zevran and Isabela --> Zevran --> Alistair --> Zevran. Not bad for 45 hours of gameplay.

I'm told you can sex the succubus in the Fade as well, but I took Morrigan in there and she's straight as so the option didn't come up. You'd have to be playing a male mage I think. Maybe that's my next playthrough..

Anyway, all this is leading to a point, and it's a point that's up there in the article. None of these games are 'games for girls'. I do have one game that might be considered a girl's game - it's a horse RPG in which you have to win the cup by doing one day eventing. The main character's a girl and there's a romance option with a boy that looks remarkably like Harry Potter. It's in a pink box and it's all a bit *embarrassment* but it's actually quite a challenge (the controls/hand-eye stuff are similar to Tekken only with horse jumping instead of kicking someone's face in) and the graphics have got the horse movement right which is important to me.

But anyway, yeah. 'Games for girls' is a silly concept. I like particular types of games, other women like other types of games. There may be a tendency for more women to like one type of game than another (I'm told it's RPGs), but that doesn't mean that all RPGs are girl games - there's a large section of male gamers out there who like them too! So why this assumption that there's a type of game that will appeal to women? It's just.. bollocks, and should be self-evident that the default gamer-people (men) like a variety of types of games, and since women are also people, we will also like a variety of games.

So let's stop with this 'games for women' thing and start looking at games for people, that include women as people. I think DA:O does this pretty well. It has its problems (OHAI Morrigan's outfit, OHAI treatment of transgender characters), but what sexism is in there is pretty low key and playing a female character doesn't disadvantage you. The female secondary characters are also strong and capable (although it annoyed me that to bond with Leliana I had to talk about shoes).

The Witcher is a good example of a classic game that I didn't finish. Now, part of the reason I didn't finish it was because it was glitchy, but a lot was to do with the fact that I had no choice but to play a male character and the first woman he encounters almost pokes his eye out with her bouncing breasts, then jumps into bed with him. I'm all O.o She's not strong or well-rounded (except in the obvious places), she's 'feisty'. And falling all over herself to shag him. Exactly whose ego is this designed to massage? And whose humanity is getting subjugated to produce the result?

Hmm.. and of the games listed above, how many are like that? As a woman gamer, it's obvious to me that the default in most games is male. This situation has improved a lot in the last few years, since statistics have started to emerge that demonstrate women make up just under half of the gaming market and that women have been playing games that aren't 'for girls' (which is most of them) since games were invented - but it still exists. Female characters still fall out of their tops and talk about shoes, while the male characters get armour that would actually work as armour. Main NPCs are still usually male, and casual sexism is still part and parcel of gaming. And for those who play online games - go ask one of your female gaming buddies how often she reveals her gender online, and if she doesn't, why not?

Or you could just read this - Fat, Ugly or Slutty? It's a site where the sort of thing female gamers encounter online is conveniently gathered for the lulz of all concerned.


Just for fun, here's a link to a place where the 'only men are gamers' trope is taken to the extreme - a Battlefield 3 launch LAN party in Texas where women are banned because the organisers don't want anyone made uncomfortable by misogyny. *cough*

Since this shouldn't just be me rambling about gaming and my experience as a woman, I'd like to hear from you gamers out there - male and female gamers alike. Since I just finished my second playthrough of DA:O, I'm looking for a new game to get hooked on. The Youth of Today says DA2, Happy and tieke say Portal 2. What do YOU say? And, why do you like it? What is it about that particular game that hooked you, and do you think it'll make me foam at the mouth if I play it?

Older games ok for recommending too.

* Not the actual essay, a presentation that demonstrates what the essay will be about, with notes, to get peer feedback. I'm hoping for feedback that'll help focus down the topic to something I can really chew on in 4000 words.

Comments:

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From:tatjna
Date:August 16th, 2011 10:24 pm (UTC)
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I found Portal 1 to be sufficiently thinky that it didn't need sideplots. It's a whole different type of game from the adventure RPG.

(sometimes you want multisexin, sometimes you just want to bash dragons, what can i say)
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From:tatjna
Date:August 16th, 2011 10:30 pm (UTC)
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Edited at 2011-08-16 10:31 pm (UTC)
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:August 17th, 2011 01:51 am (UTC)
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I dunno, the only "male" character goes and *spoiler*. Not all males, simulated or not, are *spoiler*.
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From:tatjna
Date:August 17th, 2011 01:59 am (UTC)
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I am now not sure whether I should ask you to *spoiler* or not.
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:August 17th, 2011 03:28 am (UTC)
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There will be plenty of *spoiler* when you visit.
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From:thatgirljj
Date:August 16th, 2011 11:13 pm (UTC)
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I'm the same way as you. I'll play 1 or 2 games obsessively and the rest of the world of gaming can go F itself as far as I'm concerned. Lately I've been playing Sims Medieval and despite my general dislike of the super-loose Sims platform, I like the challenges. They add a dimension of striving and completion for me that's missing from most Sims stuff. Also there's a blue genie. :-)

If you're ever interested in revisiting old early 90's games, I would suggest Day of the Tentacle (which used to be available for download but I guess EA got shirty about it). Very funny.
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From:tatjna
Date:August 16th, 2011 11:16 pm (UTC)
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I've never played Sims-type games, mostly because I can see that caring enough about them to want to do well could turn vocational really fast - kind of like how Farmville seems to do to folk. I stopped playing WoW because the need to be there and do guild stuff started to feel like a job instead of a game. I could have this completely wrong though.

Going to look up Day of the Tentacle now! ;-)
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From:anna_en_route
Date:August 16th, 2011 11:26 pm (UTC)
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Portal 2 by a country male (did you notice than in portal all of the major characters are women/female sounding? How cool is that).


Valve is getting really good with the story telling aspect of gameplay and portal 2 is their strongest yet. I'm an obsessive puzzle solver so the portal games were something like catnip for me.
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From:heartofawarrior
Date:August 17th, 2011 12:37 am (UTC)
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I've never been much into games, but I did recently find joy in playing the old Dr. Brain games, and one of the Carmen Sandiego games, through DOSBox. I've got one of the Monkey Island games hanging around, too. I'm terribly easily amused. :-P
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From:hep
Date:August 17th, 2011 12:45 am (UTC)
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who do i have to slap to get more games like bioshock? cuz srsly!!!!11
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From:tatjna
Date:August 17th, 2011 12:48 am (UTC)
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Bioshock has been recommended to me before as a game that has elements of a variety of game types, blended well. What would you say you like about it?
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From:hep
Date:August 17th, 2011 12:52 am (UTC)
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i would say that that is exactly right, re: blend of variety of games. what i like is that the story is VERY compelling in a non-cliched sort of way and still feels fresh on replays. it is quite honestly one of my absolute favorite games, the others are all arcade style like galaga, pacman, etc, aka stuff i could never get tired of cuz i can always do better. i tend to forget story driven games pretty quick. i even find that it stands the test of time look and feel-wise. bioshock 2 is of course more beautiful, but on every replay of bioshock 1 i never feel that it is super dated. highly recommend.
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From:tatjna
Date:August 17th, 2011 01:05 am (UTC)
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That's a pretty glowing recommendation! ;-) I may have to hunt it down.
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:August 17th, 2011 01:46 am (UTC)
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I have a copy, but it didn't grab me during the time I played it. But then, it was the same when I first played System Shock 2... the next time I found it awesome.
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From:tatjna
Date:August 17th, 2011 01:48 am (UTC)
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Speaking of such things, I just remembered I have your Folder O Games at my house.

mwuahahha
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:August 17th, 2011 03:29 am (UTC)
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I think I took the games I actually own with me to HK. But you can take Bioshock back with you if you like.
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From:tatjna
Date:August 17th, 2011 03:33 am (UTC)
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Yes please! Also, I have a folder of disks with games on them - maybe it's your backups?
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:August 17th, 2011 03:34 am (UTC)
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They'll be "backups" or old games that I'm unlikely to get around to play again ;-)
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:August 17th, 2011 01:50 am (UTC)
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I'm glad that the BF3 lan party isn't an official launch party and just some misguided lan party organisers. I partly stopped going to lan parties because there were so many assholes (the other part was that my gaming friends, who were not assholes, had since moved overseas).
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From:wildilocks
Date:August 17th, 2011 07:22 am (UTC)
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only games that hook me are world-building games. Currently have mild addiction to City of Wonder on G+ :P I'm sure I'll be over it in a week.... la la la...
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From:tatjna
Date:August 17th, 2011 07:24 am (UTC)
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City of Wonder on G+? Is G+ doing games now?
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From:wildilocks
Date:August 17th, 2011 08:07 am (UTC)
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Yup! Launched less than a week ago.

Has Dragon Age, too.

Nicely separated from main stream, totally separate tab. Not in yer face.
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From:laoke
Date:August 17th, 2011 10:41 am (UTC)
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Portal 2, as others are saying, is pretty goddamn good. It suffers compared to the original because the original was pure crack, nothing added. Portal 2 extends the gameplay to stretch it out a bit - and it shows a little.

Still, miles above anything else of late in pure gameplay.

DA 2 is decentish. Very good characters (you'll like Isobella I think : ), great story, shitty shitty shitty implementation. They reuse areas like there's a world wide shortage of pixels & storage space for textures. It's still a decent game, and worth playing if you liked DA:O, but it's certainly not even close to the polish that is Portal 2.

Have you tried Mass Effect? It's very space operary, so if you like old science fiction like E.E. 'Doc' Smith and the like you'll love it, and it has some very strong characters. Mass Effect 2 is a brilliant game, and if you're only going to play one game jump in with that. If you'd like to play it through as a movie, start with 1 and go through from there. In terms of gameplay - it's a hybrid RPG / Shooter. The shooting bits tend to be pretty simplistic, but the narrative is where it shines. It's the closest thing I've come across to an interactive movie yet.
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From:tatjna
Date:August 17th, 2011 11:24 am (UTC)
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Mass Effect 2 also comes highly rated by people who know me - I'd forgotten that one.

Portal 2 is downloading as we speak, and I'll probably play DA2 just because I like that style of game. ;-)

Yay for gameygeeky friends!
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From:oddlet
Date:August 17th, 2011 02:15 pm (UTC)
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I will also recommend BioShock. Great game and highly immersive. And creepy as hell. I played it in the dark with headphones on and i screamed like a leetle gurl multiple times. The story is absorbing and an interesting take on the negative aspects of Ayn Randism.

In fact, once i come back from Black Rock City and am able to unwind and relax a bit, i might replay it and go for the evil ending this time.
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From:38
Date:August 17th, 2011 07:30 pm (UTC)
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I'm not into games but the links you posted are certainly interesting. The LAN party one is a huge WTF...banning women to "save them" from misogyny is the totally wrong way,what about getting men to understand it's fucking wrong and disgusting to act like that.
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