Monday, June 20, 2011

Opinion: Games for Me?

So I spent some time catching up on all the buzz about E3. Well some of the buzz really. And while some may be excited, I've found nothing on the horizon that lifts my spirits. I'm starting to worry about the game development industry.


Nintendo Not Cool Anymore?
You know, I grew up with Nintendo. Its the company that got me back into gaming and was the only console we ever owned. I'm nervous about what this company is doing. The WiiU seems like a smart step as it is well...an iPad in disguise. Although I like the 3DS, I don't see any interesting or fun release titles. I bought a 3DS in part because of the new Zelda and Kid Icarus but mostly because I wanted a new DS that actually connects to my wireless and I can download games on. (Because its a platform my company is considering in the future).

Perhaps Nintendo is banking on their portable devices since their gimmick devices are not doing so great anymore. However, the series that got me back into gaming, Legend of Zelda, seems like its singing its swan song. I'm setting my bar low for this one.

Games for All Audiences?
Outside of Nintendo and a few art games (which are AWESOME) I'm seeing a flood gate of FPS games. With space marines or a sci-fi setting. Not to harp but I'm not a fan of the space genre. There wasn't really any games that I could get pumped about or even INTERESTED. I suppose because they all came out this year. :/

There really wasn't anything that seemed to have an intriguing or welcoming setting for my interests. Which I guess leaves ME time to finish some other games or replaying some of my old favorites.

I suppose I'm just really, really frustrated that the releases are basically focused on two audiences: Adult Male Gamers (dedicating several hours to gameplay) or Kids/Casual (basically "non-gamers").
OMG...really how loud do I have to effen shout here. There is a demographic of Adult FEMALE gamers that dedicate several hours per DAY to games. And chicks LOVE shopping so we'll be taking that DLC thank you.
And as much as I like EA games, they still SUCK at marketing it to BOTH males and females. Which is a SHAME because their games are REALLY well written to fantasy/sci-fi fans of both sexes. And yes their style of game play allows for that. I suppose I'm a floozy and I want MORE than one company to cling to.
Well, I do have Atlus but they've been disappointing of late. While part of me is very curious about Catherine...it's still a male perspective.

Where My Girls At?
Maybe I'm blind, but is Tomb Raider really the only title with a female lead I can look forward to? I mean, I'm proud of where Laura has come from and really what she represents in her GAME (not her marketing). She's a woman in a male-dominant profession, but still treated like an object by marketing. Even SHE is not for female gamers and SHE SHOULD BE.

Really, can't I even have one? What Commander Shepherd?  No...no because it's still marketed as a MALE lead character despite the user being able to change that. And I love the company oodles and oodles but would it hurt to market at game with a female protagonist?

Do male gamers really feel SO EXCLUDED if the lead character is female? Does that make the game "not for you"? I understand if the main character is Princess Peach then yes, less appealing. That game is not for me either. I want more Lara Crofts...I want more Captain Chris (Suikoden 3)...I want more female Hawke/Shepherd,

And I really wish there was more I can do besides rant on a blog. It's whiny and stupid. I get emails every day from the Women in Games group and it is mostly letting off the steam we feel in the industry. So I've steamed off.
Speaking of Steam...I should re-download that and get Portal 2. That'll boost my spirits. :3
Or I can dream of the day when I'm ridiculously wealthy and have a game studio at my beck and call to make games tailored to ME. That would be bad ass.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Irreverence

Controversy and gaming can almost be synonymous. Reasons why or subject matters will offend differ between parties. However, most of this thought bubble was actually inspired by an anime series I started watching and feel confused about my feelings towards it. I feel like I have accepted the 'offense' no longer or never really offended me.

Rooms with Elephants
The series that sparked these thought bubbles is called "Hetalia: Axis Powers" which is an anime series where the episodes are 5 minutes of loose history about the relations of countries during WW2 and other points in history. All countries are 'personified' as characters with certain stereotypical traits.
While the stereotypes are funny generalizations, they are generalizations made by a Japanese perspective. I've only gotten through season 2 but I keep waiting for that 'elephant in the room' to be acknowledged. The Axis powers did some pretty terrible things. Also America did something terrible to Japan. But because the show is a comedy they have continued to skirt the incident. But it looms. The fact they are poking fun at the Great Wars means something about this up and coming generation. And perhaps about the audience that enjoys the series.

I'm actually slightly ashamed that I find aspects of the series hilarious. It reminds me of stand up comedy, which can be very irreverent and that's why it's funny.

Reverence
Outside of comedy, irreverent generalizations or stereotypes are not acceptable to general audiences. With the reveal of the Duke Nukem: Forever 'Capture the Babe' mini-game, had an irreverent stereotype and behavior towards women. Fans of gaming and the series, have already accepted Duke's irreverence as part of his character traits. They see it as comedy. Outside that circle, the laughs fall short. That comedy is not for them and instead it comes off as insulting, degrading and offensive.
This is the same in stand-up comedy. Personally, I can laugh at jokes and skits that poke fun at my own faith Catholicism. However, the line gets crossed when they go for the molesting priest joke. Then they stop being funny to me. And everyone has a different line. Sometimes people can be convinced to 'move this line'.

Drawing the Line
Every person has a line that when crossed upsets them. However a person can change the line and move it. What it takes is treating the subject and the audience with respect. It's important that the potential audience not feel belittled or "abused" if they don't quite like the joke or situation. If set up right, they will give it a chance and possibly change their mind.
For example, I finally did a play through of Dragon Age: Origins with a romance option. This is something that when I first played the game I had no intention of doing. But since that time, I had played other mature titled games with sex scenes (RDR caught me off guard!) and well, I told myself that I'd played Sims2 often enough that I shouldn't be surprised. And I was no longer working in an environment where sex was talked about irreverently all the time.
And when Dragon Age 2 came along, I knew right away I would have to do the romance options at some point. And I'm glad I did because I was surprised that most of the romance scenes I had seen were kind of PG and done in a way I LIKE romance scenes...and how I've written them.

So that said, I have become more lenient to sex in games since they are not really pornographic. Not worse than I've seen (or covered my eyes at) in theaters.

Conclusion
Basically, it really takes a mature person to ease someone's mind about an irreverent topic or addressing social taboos. There are things that I feel everyone should hold sacred and not make fun of...such as victims of domestic violence, abuse, or sexual exploitation of children. The worst move would be to accuse the offended party as over-sensitive (even if they are) or belittle them. As a creator, you have to gain the audience's trust. Once you have it, it's maintenance but losing it will cause major damage.