Category Archives: Women & Gaming
It’s a sad fact that arcades are becoming increasingly rare in the world of gaming. These days, brick-and-mortar arcades tend to be sprawling megaplexes since the small neighborhood arcades of yesteryear don’t generate enough business to support themselves, but even finding a large arcade can be difficult. I couldn’t even find current statistics on the business rates, as the top-billed website‘s data was a decade old.
Despite all this, arcade cabinets continue to see use, but often in the form of a small nook in a non-gaming business to scrape up a few extra bucks. And speaking of bucks, I’d like to talk about an arcade game that crossed my path recently: Big Buck Safari.
I encountered this game while eating at a restaurant with my best friend. Although neither of us are typically into hunting games, we were in a giggly mood and the game screen just seemed so enthusiastic about blowing the brains out of grazing wildebeests. We decided it was worth forking over a
big buck for a quick play session .
The game was average enough. It played as well as any other 90’s-style shooter that utilized a plastic gun, had decent graphics, and managed to retain that grandiose over-the-top feel that arcade games are known for. However, it wasn’t long before we encountered this.
The Sonic fanbase is known, for better or for worse, for its zealous reactions to news concerning their fandom. Yesterday was no exception, as Sega unveiled its plans for a new gaiden continuity for the beloved blue hedgehog’s string of 70+ video games.
As it turns out, it’s Sonic Boom — the cartoon that we were teased with back in October. Not only is the show getting two tie-in games (one for the WiiU and one for the 3DS), but the games are a direct precursor to the show’s storyline. Rather than Sonic Team, Sonic Boom is in the hands of Big Red Button, whose members have previous experience with titles such as Jak & Daxter, Crash Bandicoot, and Uncharted.
Trailers of both projects were unveiled yesterday, which then resulted in a fandom-wide meltdown as TSSZ initially reported that this new direction was meant to replace the main canon, rather than run alongside of it. (Of course, correcting this information did little to ebb the flow of pissed off Sonic purists, as we still had blue arms, bulky echidnas, and copious amounts of sports tape to bitch about.) Sega representatives have personally confirmed that this continuity is meant to be a sub-series, not a complete reboot of the Sonic the Hedgehog series’ 22-year history. The endeavor is part of an effort by Sega to launch a Sonic continuity made specifically to appeal to western audiences.
Or at least to half of them, anyway.
In the wake of the Dec. 9th announcement of Dina Abou Karam as Comcept’s community manager, the gaming community is still feeling the aftershocks of screeching dudebros splitting the earth. Outcries range from simply not getting along with her personality to demanding that she be fired from the team and/or refunding donation money. Karam’s big crime? Suggesting on the Mighty No. 9 forums that the female audience receive more acknowledgement. Oh, and being a woman herself.
The unanticipated backlash of Karam’s appointment has once again raised the issue of the grotesque amounts of sexism and misogyny present in the world of video games. Discussions have fired off over the harassment of female gamers (such as what’s happening to Karam) as well as the under-representation of women in games themselves (which was Karam’s original point). I was going to write an article that examined these issues as well, but my attention shifted to something more subtle — and more insidious.
With the EVO Championship Series making a bang over the weekend, it’s hard not to reflect over fighting games you love — or in my case, games you would’ve liked to love.
Earlier in the year, EVO left the coveted 8th game slot open in favor of a donation drive. Rather than pick the final game themselves, each game was given a page whereby supporters could ‘vote’ for their desired title via charity donations. The money raised went to fund breast cancer research, and the title to pull the most donations would take the final game slot. One of the games on the list quickly pulled ahead of all the others. That game was My Little Pony: Fighting is Magic.
My Little Pony: Fighting is Magic is a fan-made creation of the dev team Mane6. It originally started as a joke image, but MLP fans are known for nothing if not their extraordinary devotion. The game has been in production for the last two years, with occasional screenshots, demo videos, and playable torrents floating around the internet in that time. It’s been noteworthy for its exceptional art and animation, move sets detailed to each character’s personality, and its ingenuity in building a fighting format for quadrupeds — something yet to be experimented with in the world of gaming.
That is, of course, until Mane6 received a cease & desist order from Hasbro just weeks before the initial release.
As a lifelong gamer, I’ve been presented with plenty of gameplay scenarios that suggested that my gender is of a fragile and delicate nature, and in need of a man to protect me from the nasties of the world. It’s something that dates as far back as gaming itself, and if you’re surprised to hear this, I highly recommend taking a moment to listen to Anita Sarkeesian’s videos on the subject.
Since this trend has gone on for so long, we’ve been given quite a range of reasons why men have had to rescue women in video games. There’s the oft-used scenario of a woman being kidnapped, while some games favor the less overt instance in which a female companion generally holds her own but experiences a moment of weakness. Whatever the reason du jour, video games love to toss women into scenarios that require a man gallop in to the rescue. Some of these situations fit within the context of the given story, and some… don’t. At all. The results of the latter are often hilarious.
The following is, in my opinion, the worst (read: best) offender of this category.
So yesterday Nintendo made a lot of announcements about the new Smash Bros. We’re all happy to see the familiar faces coming back, and Mega Man has been turned loose to join the absurdity at last. However, the interwebs are also buzzing about two other additions joining the SSB family.
The first new fighter on the roster was the male villager from Animal Crossing. I must admit that when he was first presented, I was a little disappointed; not only had I been hoping for Tom Nook (just imagine him beating people down with money bags), but also because the villager they had defaulted to was the male one. It was an uncomfortable feeling because the villager, by his very nature, is intended to be non-descript; Animal Crossing villagers are simply vessels into which the player may insert themself. This is why there are both male and female villagers. Video games often have a problem with assuming that male is the default, with female coming as an afterthought.
However, the news got better later in the day, as the female Wii Fit trainer was also revealed for Smash Bros. Upon hearing that, all of my previous reservations lifted, because she was equal but opposite of the villager. She, too, was a non-descript entity, and the player could choose between male and female. I think it was a wise move on Nintendo’s part all around. Both of these characters were neutral, normal people that any player could relate themselves to, and they selected one of each gender to add to the game. They compliment one another, and on a more intellectual level, they bring along a subtext of equality.
And then the fan feedback started.