I, personally, look forward to gender equity. So when a female baddie gets her ass handed to her in a most epic of fashions, I rejoice. Here is a woman that’s being taken so deadly seriously you have to kill her to stop her… just like the hundred thousand dudes you fucked up before her. But progress never happened except in tiny, maddening inches.
I also happen to really love bloody, messy dramatic action, slash, and violence. The reviewer found himself “stomaching the graphic gore” up until the harpie scene that threw him over the edge. I feel like if you have to stomach the gore in a God of War game, you’re playing the wrong game. I get that this guy’s a reviewer (I myself have some experience with that) so he can’t ick-quit whenever he wants like the rest of us can. But dude, have you not played a God of War game before? A puzzle in one of the other games can only be solved by shoving a random innocent man into a chamber to be torn apart by spinning spike columns while he yells and begs for you to save him. Another time Kratos uses the still living body of Poseidon’s mistress to prop open a door which then crushes and kills her. Or how about at the end of game 3 where Kratos beats Zeus so hard the entire screen turns red with backsplatter?
God of War is for people who like to pop the heads off their enemies and play fucking soccer with them. If you’re not down for that, you shouldn’t put yourself through it. Just because the harpie has tits does not make her some kind of protected class. Bad guys are bad guys, even when they’re girls. Rip that bitch apart. It would be sexist to do anything less.
When my situation ain’t improving, I’m tryna murder everything moving.
Me: I like the bros before hos achievement
I think it’s hilarious
I love Kratos
and I love the fact that he basically blade-fucks his way through entire populations Benjamin: i’m disappointed babe
i thought you were a feminist
turns out you’re just another MAN Me: yep Benjamin: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Benjamin: i think the trophy is kind of funny
but i think it was probably a bad choice
like with that whole “cunt” thing
jokes need the right time, place, and audience
i don’t think this was the right time or place Me: I don’t know
The audience that appreciates God of War will get that joke and love it
but because of the way communication is these days, there’s basically no place where you can speak to your own audience without a million other people who do not and will not get any part of your shit barging in and causing an uproar
like, you can use that to your advantage of course
but wither-to the fate of the noble cunt joke? Benjamin: maybe, but I think it was still a bad choice
discussion of institutionalized mysoginy in the videogame industry has been kind of a hot topic lately
and this kind of stuff just makes it worse Me: The harpie is evil
thus needs to be killed
which, in proper Kratos fashion, is brutally Benjamin: i don’t think most people have an issue with the harpy’s brutal murder
it’s the issue that the act of killing her is then immediately put into a gender context by the accompanying trophy Me: I know what you mean
and I get that
but it’s hilarious Benjamin: eh, i honestly think you could make a much better “bros before hos” joke trophy
an interesting inversion
you have a fight where you are up against centaurs (male) and harpies (female)
kill all the centaurs without killing any harpies, and you get the trophy
bros before hos
you get to make your bros before hos joke
and by inverting the traditional “men are more important” meaning of the phrase, you get another layer of much less sexist humor Me: Agreed
You should write for video games Benjamin: i totally should
I’ve been living under the specter of anxiety that is the holiday season since about 10 seconds after Thanksgiving, and I’m pretty sure you have been too. In fact, yours is probably much worse since I’m already done with all my Christmas acquiring for the year (I believe the expression is NANA NANA BOOBOO). But I’m anything if I’m not generous (just kidding, you guys know that’s totally bullshit) so, out of the kindness of my heart (lol), in order to save the holidays for you and yours, I’ve been browsing etsy for things you should buy since, like I said, I already did all my shopping (NNBB).
So the gaming world is all atwitter about the new, $99 console that’s set to turn the industry on its boring, old ear. Gamers are tired of the same old consoles, they want the excitement of another consumer opportunity. Which is why we were all so excited to jump on the Playstation Move and the XBOX Kinect, right? Oh wait…
I find myself completely baffled by the excitement everybody has for a chance to spend their hard earned money for a thing that basically does the same stuff their current consoles already do. Frequently, the gaming industry confuses me. Nobody’s jumping down my throat to hype me for another microwave, or blender. Even my computer, which is definitely an appliance with a shelf-life, gets to wirrr out the rest of its days on my desk without much threat of being pushed out by The Next Big Thing before it’s short career is at an obvious end. Yet the gaming community seems to be enamored by a past where consoles went in and out of style like polo shirts. In his Engadget editorial, Tim Stevens laments the dullness of the industry, and decrys the domestication of gaming systems. He pines for a time when “videogame consoles were put to pasture just as they hit their stride.” In my opinion, the console industry isn’t getting borring, it’s maturing, and I am glad for it. The level of constant device turn over and product waste of the past is appalling.
Maybe it’s because while Stevens was deep in the heat of the console wars, I wasn’t allowed to play video games, and then family situations changed and we couldn’t even afford living room furniture let alone videogame consoles. After that, I was on my own, and food was my main priority. So the idea of buying a system, waiting until it got awesome, and then throwing it aside for the a newer system is altogether baffling to me. It’s like buying a hamburger, loving it like crazy, but throwing it in the trash half-way through and going back to buy a cheeseburger. Not that you shouldn’t get the cheeseburger after the hamburger is done, and when you’re hungry again, but double fisting burgers is weird and people will stare at you. Especially if you’re fat.
We have what I consider to be a really nice TV. I’d never bought a TV before, but it became a necessity when the TV we inherited from our old roommate grew increasingly impossible to play videogames on. Batman Arkham Asylum was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I thought I hated that game when I first played it, but it turned out that I couldn’t see anything because our ancient TV’s resolution was so low, half the graphics were just blurs. I tried to give the TV away, but even our youngest and poorest friends turned their nose up at our old CRT. Eventually, it went to a Goodwill in Hollywood where it was likely turned into an art installation by some uninspired undergrad.
What does our shitty old TV have to do with the OUYA? Frugality. which is why I hate the idea of the OUYA, but it’s also why I like the OUYA itself. Let me explain: I like that I haven’t had to buy a new gaming console in 7 years. I like that the XBOX is our entire entertainment system. Want to watch TV? Turn on the XBOX. Listen to music? XBOX. Movies? XBOX. Gaming, socializing with my friends online or at a party, even exercise: XBOX, XBOX, XBOX. I love that stupid box, and you can pry it from my cold dead hands. I feel, as a frugal gamer, that by some miracle, we’ve managed to convince console developers that we won’t be buying another $500 piece of hardware anytime soon. Veterans of the console wars have grown fat with console satisfaction in this protracted and beneficial peace. Others of us who are new to the scene are spoiled by the lack of turn-over. We are familiar with our one or two consoles and we don’t see the need for anything else. Ever. You should have seen me when we had to switch from original XBOX to the 360. There was much crying and rending of garments. It’s as if my pet had been run over and my boyfriend tried to pretend that this younger, healthier purebred was really my same dog. Fool me once….
I don’t like change. It usually costs me money. And I know, the whole gaming culture is based firmly in consumerism, which makes me very much an odd duck. But since we’ve become more serious about gaming, we’ve actually saved a ton of money. The XBOX360 and the PS3 combined cost about $1000, the Kinect was free because we were beta testers. Our cable bill was about $100 a month when we turned it off after we bought the 360. In just 10 months, both consoles paid for themselves (although I should mention that the PS3 was actually purchased years after the XBOX). A game costs about $60 new, but aside from Bioware titles, I’ve never met a game I couldn’t wait for the price to drop on. So, for $40 at a time, we get literally hundreds of hours of entertainment, when any other non-free activity would cost at least $10 bucks an hour.
Which is where my liking the OUYA comes in. The entire system costs a cool hundred bucks. As cheap as I am, I’ve spent more than that on a romantic steak dinner… twice as much once if memory serves me. The fact that every single title will either have a free demo, be free to play, or have some sort of subscription model really catches my eye as a consumer. Not to mention that the console is extremely developer friendly. It’s no secret that the big three haven’t exactly courted the developer set. They’ve never needed to. Until now, which brings me back to hating the OUYA. If OUYA is anything close to successful, it’s going to jump start the industry, and I’m not interested in seeing what kind of Bing-style crapbox Microsoft rushes through development in order to compete. I’m especially not interested in having to buy that after all my favorite developers start making games for it and abandon my beautiful XBOX.
From where I’m sitting, the OUYA is going to be a great thing for independent developers, casual gamers, and low-income families who can’t afford to invest in expensive consoles or $60 games, and need an alternative source of entertainment to paying ever-increasing cable and satellite bills. We know that because it’s an android system, players will have access to android apps, like netflix and hulu in addition to their games. I’m going to be watching this system, and the big three with interest as it develops further. My hope for the OUYA is that it will find a niche in the aforementioned categories, that the big three will maybe learn a valuable lesson in developer service, and that none of it will cost me a dime.
Warning: This blog recognizes the existence of rape and that there are jokes about it. This entire thing is written with tongue fully in cheek.
So yesterday, Twitter was all interested in talking about the world’s favorite douchebag, Daniel Tosh of Tosh .0 fame. According to Tosh, he was innocently setting up a joke about rape jokes when he was heckled by an unsavory fatty with a feminist agenda and nothing to contribute. She yelled that “rape jokes are never funny,” so he proved her wrong by saying how funny it would be if 5 dudes raped her right there in the club in front of everybody… because that’s the funniest thing anybody’s ever heard. Of course, she was totally offended and went where the fat and offended live and breed: tumblr.
Ah Tumblr, where everybody’s so busy policing everybody else that no one can ever be hurt again.
To be fair, she didn’t actually go to her own tumblr, but had a friend post it for her, and she didn’t know that Tosh would be the headliner for that night. In fact, she was there to see Dane Cook, a comedian she admitted that she didn’t particularly like either, but she was bored and needed something to do. Which is a terrible way to attend a comedy show. It’s a good thing she didn’t run into Doug Stanhope. His gonzo stylings would probably sear a burn mark of depravity into the meat of her poor, innocent heart that would have her in an institution for PTSD until at least Summer of 2014.
If you’re going to a Daniel Tosh show, you should probably at least have a passing familiarity with his jokes. He tries too hard to be controversial, which makes it sort of painful to watch. Also, every one of his bits are about how much everybody sucks but him, which really encourages people to identify with his charismatic vision (not.) His TV show is dedicated to almost saying the n-word but not really saying it, making fun of any asshole stupid enough to put themselves on youtube, and sketches, which I actually like. Especially that one where those douchey jocks make out with each other.
Anyway, Tosh wrote an uninteresting defense of himself via twitter on Tuesday.
He’s right, of course. Anything terrible can be funny, even rape. But do I need a white guy who looks like he’s from Granada Hills to remind me of how comical rape is by suggesting that 5 of the men in the audience at the Laugh Factory hold some girl down and take turns fucking her in the ass or the vagina with their dicks, and/or beer bottles while she cries and tries to escape? I know that’s hilarious and everything, but maybe the ‘rape is actually funny’ bandwagon isn’t the one an ethnic German in a Limited for Men sweater should be on.
Even though Tosh definitely looks like the kind of man who knows exactly what the inside of Uncle Pokey’s rumpus room looks like, his inability to be sincere precludes any ability to tell a good rape joke. Leave that noble fight to more qualified activists.
Which isn’t to say that he should be punished for his rape joke. He should be punished for his bad joke. I’m more offended that he relies on offensiveness as a crutch to replace genuine humor than I am that his joke was about raping a girl. Although, come to think of it I’m even more offended that he shared a bill with Dane Cook, a man everyone knows DOES NOT PICK UP HIS DOG POOP!
And if you’re looking for the difference between a comic who uses offensiveness to mask his lack of finishing, or a comic who is just plain funny and offensive in all the right ways, find yourself to a Doug Stanhope album. Once on a road trip, I played some Stanhope for my grandma. He was telling a joke that involved fucking an old woman with “gym sock titties, the kind of woman you can tittie-fuck with just one tittie.” My grandma was laughing so hard, she was leaning over in her seat. And then when she was done laughing she told me to “turn it back to the British guy (Eddie Izzard), this guy is disgusting.”
Ultimately humor is subjective. Then again, so is fittness. But you don’t have to be a genius to look at someone like me and someone like Serena Williams and know which one is ‘fit’ and which one is me. High school kids love Tosh, I’m sure he’s not going to feel any different knowing that some fat girl on the Internet thinks he relies too much on his signature crassness, which has made him literally millions of dollars. But that’s my take on the situation.
By the way, when I was writing this, I tried to go to Daniel Tosh’s blog, but the whole thing is covered by a giant green square that I can’t click through telling me to call Direct TV and demand they reinstate my ‘favorite’ Viacom channels. Thanks Viacom, but I turned off my cable about 5 years ago and I haven’t watched a ‘channel’ since then. Unless you count youtube, and that’s not a channel, that’s just a page. (I don’t know who they’re trying to impress with their old timey naming conventions.)
Viacom vs. DirectTV: two bald hos fighting over a Vidal Sassoon haircare package.
During the course of this debate, I’ve come across some more awesome rape jokes, and I thought I’d be remiss if I didn’t share them all with you. That sounds bad. Oh well, life goes on.
I know we’ve all been asking ourselves: Why do gamers suck so much? I’m mostly referring to the recent Anita Sarkeesian bastardry, but really I could be talking about how gamers started an attack campaign on BioWare writer Jennifer Hepler for saying that she’s not a fan of combat, and that she doesn’t have time to play (seeing as how she had a baby trying to kick its way out of her abdomen at the time), or the nasty response we had to the original Mass Effect 3 ending (even though that kind of worked out and we got that awesome extended cut DLC that we would never have gotten if it weren’t for the trolls.)
If a comet hit the earth tomorrow and killed us all, the aliens that excavate our data in 100,000
years will write papers on ‘the gamers.’ Rowdy gangs of unattended 15 year old virgin boys, hopped up on testosterone and caffeine, who roamed our information exchange centers menacing every female and every person over the age of 20 that dared to cross their path as they tore down entire companies and ruined lives and families in the wake of their impotent, virginal rage. A generation of progeny so completely coddled, living in a world marketed to, and created just for them, such that any upset in their regular pop cultural feeding time can cause mass hysteria and rioting. Hell, if you’re following the news about gaming lately this is already what gamers are in our own society. And as much as my Internet search history might tag me as a 15 year old boy, I’m a grown up lady, and I suspect that if you’re reading this, you might be too (non-ladies: this is not an exclusionary tactic, you are welcome to read this article as well.)
Obviously I’m addressing my article to the grown up lady (and non-lady) gamers because when the aliens exhume the server that has all the gearedforgamers.com articles on it, I want them to know that we existed. If 99% of the writing about games on the internet is produced by entitled little brats screaming for products and services to appease them and only them, I want this small artifact to say: Hey aliens, we’re not all unwet adolescent jerk offs, some of us are grown up ladies and non-ladies and we’re just too busy with grown-up stuff (if you know what I mean) to make a stink about shit on the Internet right now.
In other words: GET OFF MY LAWN.
Aliens won’t get that joke, but rest assure it is hilarious and culturally relevant.
At this point, you may be asking yourself ‘is Marina OK, most of her articles aren’t this… weird/disjointed/terrible. Should I call someone?’ No, do not call anyone, unless it’s to tell them to read this amazing treatise on gaming while grown-up, as it is a miracle of modern gaming journalism/bloggerism. I am fine, although I have been reading a lot of Hunter S. Thompson and I think I have a second-hand literary induced psychosis because of it. Also, I’m sick of writing and reading and hearing about what shits the gaming community is made of. So I’m sitting here at my desk shouting expletives at the Internet in an effort to effect social change.
How am I doing? You gamers feeling less tolerant of being represented by tiny assholes whose parents always gave them exactly what they wanted, but never what they needed, and now they’re making games about punching Anita Sarkeesian in the face, and threatening to rape her (as if you would know where to put it, Jr. Nightstalker) because she has something to say about a medium they falsely believe is theirs and no one elses?
To be fair, while I completely respect Sarkeesian’s work on identifying and thinking about the way women are portrayed by pop culture, she is an instigator. No one deserves rape threats, least of all for trying to make the world a more informed place, even if you’re kind of condescending. I personally disagree with her feminist theory, which seems to be that women are fundamentally different (better?) than men, and that women like me who enjoy gratuitous sex and violence don’t exist. She doesn’t ever seem to address what women like me are doing instead of loving the sex and violence that we love. Maybe I’m just pretending to like all the shit I like so that I can reap the benefits of the patriarchy for myself. Yeah, that’s going real well so far (not.)
As for the ‘punch Antia in the face’ game, I’m actually kind of enamored with how completely ridiculous it is. In the game description the creator states that Sarkeesian “claims to want gender equality in video games, but in reality, she just wants to use the fact that she was born with a vagina to get free money and sympathy from everyone who crosses her path.” So, in order to deal with their feelings that Sarkeesian is a fraud they decided to make a flash game where you can completely wreck her pretty face with a barrage of ‘gender equality’ style right hooks. I tried to play the game in order to corroborate this claim, but it’s no longer available. I can only assume that there were multiple levels, with each one adding creative weaponry and in the boss battle you had to carve her up with a razor as punishment for being so entitled to her own equality. Because what do we do to people we believe are fraudulent? Threaten to rape them. And if that doesn’t work: the sky’s the limit. After all, this is the Internet.
On the more rational side, Redditor pikatu put it succunctly when they said “to be honest, Anita Sarkeesian comes across as a douche. However, that’s not something that she deserves abuse over. Even with everything, i’m sure she’s laughing all the way to the bank with her funding.” I think most gamers feel this way, I know I do. She’s kind of a troll (although I really do believe that her trolling is at least constructive), so when there’s a troll to troll flame war going on, my goal is just to stay out of the way. I can see this Sarkeesian thing being something I really super cared about in college. But right now, I have dishes to do. If I didn’t have a weekly obligation to Geared for Gamers, you probably wouldn’t be hearing about this from me. Even though I blog every weekday on my own site, I avoided this issue because I thought ‘trolls will be trolls’ and I wrote about the random celebrities I’ve seen living in Los Angeles instead of a myriad of other socially relevent things a person could blog about. Because I’m frivolous.
But as long as we’re here, is there a story, other than another set of gamers acting like jerks and another set of journalists and bloggers trying to get high minded about it? I know I’ve set up a dichotomy of young and entitled verses old and apathetic, but I think that gamers of all ages can be entitled, or apathetic, or both. People don’t usually get smarter as they get older. Sometimes they get better at hiding their stupidity, but usually that doesn’t even happen. We just mock them less for it since they’re grown-ups now and there’s some unspoken grown-up rule that we all pretend we know what we’re doing, even when we obviously do not.
I know this article has sort of been a collection of devilishly well constructed sentences on top of an otherwise tenuous thesis, which if you didn’t catch it, is that I’m tired of being afraid to tell my friends at work that I play video games unless they think that I’m incapable of doing my job. The gaming audience is getting more sophisticated all the time, but when is that going to show up in the ways we’re represented? Do we, as sensible gamers have a responsibility to ourselves and our community to change that public perception for the better, or are we just the victims of bad apple-ism? Furthermore, if we do have this obligation, how to we meet it? I’d love to see some answers in the comments, what do you think? I want to have a discussion about this.
This is a rejected review I wrote for Gearedforgamers.com. The reason the review was rejected is because I’d never played an off road racing game in my life before, so my evaluation of the game was rather crap without any contextual knowledge of the medium as a whole. Also, I was really harsh on this poor game that probably didn’t deserve this kind of treatment, I guess I just felt like destroying something beautiful. I’ve replaced instances of the game’s name with [this game], not because anybody asked me to, but because I really think that I pulled a total bitchface on this game.
In [this game], players race four-wheeled, 800-horsepower off road race trucks, rally cars, pro buggies and pro lite trucks. Career mode follows [some guy’s] bid for the Pro2 championship in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series. Players can race up to seven friends or strangers over XBOX Live. The title costs 800 Microsoft points, or $9.99 on the XBOX Live Arcade.
The reason I wanted to review this game is that, in the trailer I saw a lifted green buggy that reminded me of my very favorite childhood toy: A pink Micro Machine VW Bug monster truck. At the time, I was disappointed by its pinkness, my least favorite color next to yellow, but enamored by its truckness, and the almost-an-engine sound it made when you drove it over stuff. I’m pretty sure the bug burned up in a wildfire that overtook my father’s house in the middle nineties. Would that it were this game instead!
I think I would have more hours of constructive, interactive fun with that old Micro Machine than [this game] any day of the week. But let’s be fair, comparing a favorite toy to a ten dollar XBLA title is a little like comparing my grandma’s handmade tortillas to any other food on the planet. There are just some things that nothing will ever be better than.
Pink Micro Machines aside, there are some things I should say before launching into this review full-boar. First, I’ve never played an off road race game before in my life. When I went to review this title, I did some research and read a couple of other [this game] reviews, and it seems like my fellow game critics are saying that this is actually a fairly good showing for the genre. It looks like we may be dealing with a case of what I like to call ‘least pregnant teen mom at night school.’
Do you get a gold star for sucking less than the pile of suck you find yourself in? That depends on how desperate you are for an off road racer. Personally, I’m sticking with my old friend, Trails Evo. It’s not like the fact that I’m fake driving a car instead of fake driving a motorbike is worth so very much that I’d give up the amazing graphics, awesome settings, sweet soundtrack, fun game mechanics, a babillion user-made tracks and thousands of people to play on live at any time of day or night.
But that’s just me. I’m weird like that.
First, let’s talk about the most glaring issue I had with the game, which is that of the three available camera views, the one I like doesn’t actually work. A player can have the camera behind the car, in the car, or in front of the car. If you recall, the whole reason I wanted to play this game is because I saw a car that looked like my favorite childhood toy, Pink Micro Machine Monster Bug. So, when I was playing the game, I very much wanted to chose the camera angle where I could see the car, also because I enjoy cars, and like watching them drive over and around things. But the camera doesn’t stay anchored to the back of the car, rather it floats around drunkenly as the player navigates the track. Sometimes, it doesn’t even focus on the car or the track, but more up in the air, or off in the distance. The good news is, there are two other camera angles that work perfectly fine.
The driving mechanism is totally standard, handling is normal. I wish that the game supported haptic feedback, but it doesn’t. I do like that the player can chose how they want the car to handle overall (average speed, sticky tires or very fast, soft suspension.) Another perk on [this game] is that, unlike my BFRG (Best Friend Racing Game) Trials Evo, [this game] lets you completely customize your car’s stats using game experience points to allot upgrades to the categories of handling, top speed, acceleration and braking.
The tracks aren’t bad, they’re fairly well designed, but again, Trials Evo runs [this game] completely off the road (so to say) on the track for track awesome. Not only does Trials have the aforementioned babillion user generated tracks, they also have about three times as many original tracks, and a much more slick track picker interface.
Enough about the best racing game ever, let’s talk about this [this game]. While racing, the sound can be a problem. You have a co-driver that warns you of upcoming road obstacles and who sounds like he’s yelling at you through a paper towel tube pressed up against your helmet. For at least an hour, I thought he was saying “overdressed” instead of “over crest.” I just thought it was some off road racing term I didn’t know about. Other than that, the car sounds are basically standard, which is nice because that’s the only soundtrack you get. Unless you count [some guy] repeating the same handful of helpful tips at random while the track loads, other than the paper towel cheer-leader and canned race car engine, there is no soundtrack whatsoever, which can get really dull after a couple of tracks. Although, you won’t have to endure it for long, since the whole career takes about four hours to complete, less if you quit once they start repeating tracks.
I’d like to tell you how the multiplayer works, but there’s no local multiplayer and when I went on Live to try and get a game, there was nobody online to play with.
From what I’ve seen of this game, it’s just too expensive for what you’re getting. Spend the extra $5 and buy Trials Evo, don’t mess around with [this game] unless you are a die hard off road race fan and nothing close will do. If the game was 400 points, I’d give it a much better review, but if you’re already spending $10, you might as well spend $15 for a game you’ll really enjoy that has everything you might need for months of gameplay rather than hours.
Despite the fact that they didn’t take my suggestion to run with the indoctrination theory (it’s okay guys, I understand), I think that the ME3 Extended Cut DLC ending is basically the best thing they could have made while still touching on all the same points that the original ending laid down.
Before we get into anything serious, I want to say this: there will be spoilers. If you want your brains to remain pure, turn back! Seriously, how are you even on the Internet right now?
The Extended cut answers a lot of questions the community brought up after the initial Mass Effect 3 launch back in March. It shows in greater detail how Anderson got to the arm controls before you, how Hackett knew Shepard was on the Citadel; and through dialogue options, the game offers more insight on each choice before you pick it. But the real meat of the Extended Cut is the protracted ending. Each of the three main choices has a narrator explaining what happened after the end of the reaper war. In all three main outcomes, Shepard’s name is dramatically added to the memorial display on the crew deck of the Normandy. It shares a central place with Admiral Anderson, and the crew stand around sentimentally as the love interest sticky-tacks a plate that says “COMMANDER SHEPARD” onto the memorial display. I got a kick out of imagining them all sitting around trying to figure out why no one knew Shepard’s first or middle name. Vega probably tried to convince everybody to put “Lola,” but I bet Garrus gave him a shitty look.
Even with the memorial scene dramatics, the Destroy ending still has the little shot at the end of the cut scene with the N7 armored soldier coming back to life in the rubble, and I’ve heard that if your EMS is high enough, the love interest won’t place the plaque and instead the player sees the Normandy flying away.
Although in the synthesis ending, EDI totally guilt-trips anybody who destroyed her in order to save Shepard in their previous playthroughs by dramatically exclaiming “Because of [Shepard], I am alive, and I am not alone.” But then after that, she hugs the love interest, and not Jeff. I guess synthetic/human hybridization can put a strain on a relationship.
If you don’t like the three main options, the DLC introduces a fourth choice, which is basically just telling the sky-child to eat a dick because Commander Shepard does what she wants! lt also has a cut scene, although it’s shorter. I like it because the Stargazer and child at the end are obviously not human, and they talk about “the archives.” The alien Stargazer also says that she’s “only told [the child] a few of the stories” teasing more Shepard stores even harder than the success ending Stargazer does.
I wish that the DLC had somehow allowed you to load the game at the real beginning of the extended cut. Because I just started the citadel mission over again, I didn’t know until I was doing research for this review that I missed the extraction scene, which occurs on the beam approach. I’m not sure what happens if you don’t have a love interest in your approach party, but if you do, there’s a chance for a tearful goodbye and a little bit more closure than there was before. Also, an explanation (however far fetched) for why the whole crew is on the Normandy at the end. I think it’s a little hilarious that Joker is leading an assault on the reapers when all of a sudden, he’s like “BRB, guys, gotta go pick up my Commander’s boyfriend. He’s got a boo boo on his mandible.”
Overall, I think that this is a great showing from Bioware. I wasn’t one of the people that rage-quit on the first time around, so I have no insight into how they might be feeling, but as a genuine Mass Effect fan, and a general BioWare fan, I feel like they made good on their promise to flesh out the ending, and I appreciate the fanservice.
A comment on my Tomb Raider article from last week has got me thinking in broader terms about “rape culture” in video games. Geared for Gamers reader Poco Puffs asked me what I thought about the Hitman trailer, which had been getting a lot of negative attention for Hitman beating the ever-living crap out of some extremely sexualized bondage nuns. Having absolutely no familiarity with Hitman whatsoever, I went and read a couple of other people’s articles on the trailer, and I responded in my own comment. However, I think that my answer wasn’t long enough to articulate what I really wanted to say, not just about Hitman and Lara Croft, but about sex, violence and video games in general. So, here is my current opinion on rape culture in video games, to the best of my ability, with the resources available to me at this time.
I want to start out with two disclaimers. First, we’re going to be acknowledging that rape exists and I’m going to use the word rape… a lot. Second, I’m a feminist, but I’m not a very good one. I basically operate off the principle that men and women should be treated as equals and that’s kind of it. Then again, I think that this is the way most people operate when they identify with a doctrine that’s as massive and varied as feminism is. Not all democrats think Bill Clinton is amazing, not all Christians think homosexuality is a sin, and not all feminists cry ‘rape culture’ whenever a female character gets injured in a piece of media.
If you want to see what a professional feminist thinks about women in videogames, watch this space. Aside from being a little bit of a hard-on (by which I mean that she can sometimes come off as self-righteous and condescending to men without acknowledging women’s roles in our own oppression), Anita Sarkeesian is basically the best voice the Internet has right now on feminism and pop culture. I am massively interested in what her Tropes vs. Women in Video Games series will bring us, but until then, here’s what I have to say on the subject.
First of all, I want to talk about rape culture. Rape culture is basically any cultural practice or feature that makes it easier for people to rape other people and get away with it. Different people have different views on what specific factors create rape culture. For example, most reasonable people would agree at this point that telling a person who has just been brutally attacked that they brought it on themselves, either through their dress of their actions creates a hostile environment for victims and probably contributes to victim silence, which in turn contributes to rapist freedom. And yet, that still happens with surprising frequency.
On the other hand, some feminist scholars have made arguments that pornography reinforces rape culture. Ostensibly, the idea, as far as I can tell is this: Men are the majority of porn viewers, as well as the majority of rapists, and both porn and rape involve sex. Therefore porno leads to rape. Again, a concept most reasonable people would find ridiculous. Saying pornography leads to rape is like saying that cooking shows lead to cannibalism.
Sexually objectified characters are rarely more than two-dimensional eye candy, it’s true. The argument against misogynistic portrayals of women and the argument against tacky, sensationalist media can frequently be one in the same. As much as I love video games, female characters are largely absent, and when they are present, they tend not to be heroes, only prizes or window dressing.
One of the things I said in my comment in regard to the Hitman trailer, is that they had a perfect opportunity to sexualize him at the beginning when he’s cleaning the blood off himself. Sadly, the game developers didn’t recognize that opportunity, which makes the objectification of the nuns at the end of the trailer seem more out of place than it really needs to be. The failure isn’t that they’re sexualizing these women as they get beat to bits, it’s that they’re not sexualizing Hitman as he beats them to bits. If Hitman is going to be a no-holds barred gore and whore-fest, make it an equitable one. Let’s not pretend that we’re so socially evolved that most of us no longer enjoy a little bit of baseless debauchery.
No one, and I mean no one, turns on the private browsing feature in order to abuse themselves to eloquent descriptions of someone’s glowing personality. We all participate in some level of objectification in our daily lives. Shaming people for our interest in sexy images is like shaming people for our love of processed sugars. The reason those products are successful is because they operate on supply lines we’re evolutionarily bound to respond to. Pretending that we as a society don’t appreciate sex and violence is disavowing about 80% of both our literature and our history. And pretending that only men enjoy sex and violence is almost as misogynistic as pretending that women can’t make good heroes.
Now that I’ve told all the boys and girls at home that it’s alright to get tight-pantsy about the Hitman bondage nuns, does that mean that rape culture isn’t relevant in gaming? Hardly. The games we play are inextricably linked to the culture we created them in. We still live in a culture where rapists are protected and victims are punished. It’s not as bad as it used to be, but it still kind of sucks.
“Against our Will: Men, Women and Rape” by Susan Brownmiller was published in 1975 and is considered by some to be the origin of the term rape culture, although Brownmiller’s phrase was actually “rape-supportive culture.” At the time, the majority of Americans didn’t believe that rape, sexual assault, and sexual molestation were common crimes. The extremely low level of awareness allowed sexual predators to operate largely undisturbed. It’s only because of the consciousness raising work that feminists have done in the ensuing decades that we have the kind of society where people wax academic over Lara Croft and Hitman ‘contributing to rape culture,’ or ‘objectifying women.’
But the journey from raising awareness about rape and rape culture, to debating what is and is not rape culture, or where and how rape culture develops has had some side effects that aren’t altogether helpful. For example, in emphasizing how frequently (1 in 5, according to some studies) women are the victims of rape or molestation, we now consciously live in a society where a woman is more likely to be a rape victim than almost any other thing. We’ve started to exist in a continuum of those who have already been raped and those that still might be. Which, while productive in raising awareness, also hangs a sword of Damocles over our collective heads.
Suddenly, all of our actions become suspect/dangerous. A woman riding the bus, going to the store, or jogging in her neighborhood alone is a potential victim. As is any girl who drank too much at a party, any female under the age of 12 more than 10 feet from a guardian or any woman anywhere. After all, 1 in 5 of us will be or have been. It’s starting to get to the point where we get that women are rape victims. What we don’t get is that women, in addition to whatever their personal history, are also bus riders, and consumers, and exercise freaks. We’re drunks, and little girls and we have the potential to be any damn thing we want, despite the fact that we still live in a rape culture. Just because rape exists, and just because 91% of rape victims are female doesn’t mean that women have any less agency in our day to day existence. Sometimes we lose sight of that fact.
Which is how some of us can look at the Hitman trailer, see that the nuns outnumber Hitman 8 to 1, and are clearly carrying superior weaponry, and still consider them the victims. If gender roles had been reversed, and we caught sight of a scarred and bleeding female character being charged by 8 guys armed with submachine guns, who use an RPG to reduce her hotel to flaming ashes, the feminist bloggers would be going crazy about that too. But our preconceptions of women as victims or potential victims is coloring our experience of the trailer.
Earlier I said that my feminist convictions are basically that women and men are equal, and that they should be treated as such. In a perfect world, nobody would be bothered by Hitman because he’d be just as likely to be an ass-kicking woman as he would be an ass-kicking man, as would his or her opponents and allies. We wouldn’t have to tell little girls that they can be anything little boys can be, and Legos and Barbies would be just as appropriate a present for a girl or a boy dependent, not on gender, but on the personal preferences of each child.
But we don’t live in a perfect world. We live in a world where little girls get books on make-up tips and BFF bracelet makers while boys get building tools and books on snake-bite safety. Where you’re so unlikely to see a female in a video game or an action movie that people actually wrote blogs thanking Marvel Studios for having women in the background of their hot-dude sausage-fest, The Avengers (not that I’m complaining, it’s more than anybody else is doing.) If striving for a future where women really are equal to men, then we have to be able to inhabit every space our brothers inhabit, regardless of propriety or morality. Which means that, not only can we be bad guys, but we should be bad guys. Women can and should have every bit as much inclination to take a pop at Hitman as men do, and Hitman should have every right to dispatch them as summarily as he dispatches his male opponents. We can not be equal to men if we are continually casting ourselves as the victims.
The problem I had with the Tomb Raider trailer isn’t that Lara Croft is chased by men, or that she is harmed by men, or that she is harmed at all. It’s that the whole time this is happening, her fear-responses are almost pornographic. The shuddering whimpers, the wide-eyed gasping, the pitiful crying are all pathetic. The heavily armed, adult women in the Hitman trailer are active participants in their own gory destruction. Lara Croft, on the other hand, is a scared child fleeing and fighting for her life. Lara truly is a victim, a role I personally am tired of seeing women cast in. Compared to yet another rabbit-scared lady, hiding in the shadows, Hitman’s nuns were a breath of fresh air.
I imported my comments from GearedforGamers.com
I admit I’m not familiar with the Hitman games. I assume you’re referring to the nun trailer, and not the one where he kills all those dudes to get to the woman in the shower who should probably have significance, but who I don’t know at all.
I see there’s been some guff about the game ‘normalizing violence against women,’ and I don’t go in for that at all. I think it’s an unfair world we’re building where bad guys have to be guys. Hitman (as the name implies) kills people. So to have a trailer where he helps little old ladies across the street and kisses kittens on the top of their furry widdle heads would be ridiculous.
The women in the Hitman trailer are 1) bad guys 2) adults 3) seriously armed 4) not the player character. I don’t have a problem with Hitman pulling a Neo on a crowd of sexy, armed, evil, bitches. Bad guys get slaughtered. That’s point of most games.
In her article Michelle Starr (http://www.cnet.com.au/how-hitman-is-insulting-us-all-339338883.htm) talks about how “we’re supposed to be turned on by their brutal murder” and that the game is attracting “the kinds of people who get off on hurting women.” I think that statements like this are an oversimplification.
As if anytime a woman gets injured we should all weep tears of blood for her brutalization. It’s not the injury, or the duress, or the blood I have a problem with in the Tomb Raider trailer, it’s something more nuanced and difficult to articulate. It’s her helpless whimpering and her doe-eyed terror, her lack of power and her pathetic crying. None of which are present in the Hitman trailer.
And can we take a break from being morally superior here and just acknowledge that violence and sex are very close together in our brains and in our lives? You find me a human who’s never had one violent sexual thought and I’ll show you a human who’s never had sexual thoughts at all. I personally loved watching Hitman slaughter those ladies. I thought it was sexy. I have a feeling a lot of other people did too, that doesn’t mean we’re bad people.
Not to say that Hitman trailer is a shining beacon of equality. I think it is a failure that the Hitman character is not as equally portrayed in the shots of him cleaning the blood off himself before the nun fight. I say, if you’re going blue, go all the way. Have sexy nuns and a sexy Hitman sexily murdering each other, if that’s what you’re going for.
In response to someone who said that focusing on the rape and ignoring the murder was counter intuitive.
I play games to straight up murder dudes. In God of War 3 when Kratos totally beats Zeus to death and you can see it through his increasingly blood filled eyes, I was overjoyed. I have absolutely no moral ground to stand on in regard to violence in games. However, there’s about a million miles of bullshit between me wanting to snipe guys heads off and watch them explode like melons, and me wanting to watch my own character get raped. And I know that she doesn’t actually get raped, but it’s still bullshit. And shoveling rape and murder into the same category doesn’t work for me. Rape is such a different, more terrible crime than just shooting someone. People I know have served in wars, where they killed people, and everybody understands that they were doing their duty to serve their country. If we suddenly found out they were raping people in addition to killing them, I have a feeling the majority of us would no longer be their friends.
JAM Live Music Arcade is a music creation game from Reverb Publishing/505 Games available for $9.99 on XBOX Live Arcade and Playstation Network. 32 tracks cover the spectrum of musical genres ranging from up and coming indie artists to chart toppers like Modest Mouse, Atmosphere and Owl City. JAM Music Arcade lets the player deconstruct and recreate songs through an interactive and intuitive graphic interface and also features a standard see-and-then-do mode. In JAM mode, the player is rewarded for their creative use of musical elements and off-book stylings. In Arcade mode, the player follows a Guitar Hero style guide to produce songs element by element.
The first time you play JMLA, only the JAM mode is unlocked. In order to play with your first track, you have to successfully navigate the tutorial, which lays out the mixing board style interface for the new player. 5 different bays belong to a different musical element: drums, bass, guitar, synth, vocals, and sometimes FX, and each instrument has 5 elements, one for each of the 5 keys of the guitar. The game can be played on a gamepad, but the tutorials are geared towards the guitar controller, and I really think it would be a lot more difficult to navigate from a gamepad.
Players used to Guitar Hero, will notice that JAM turns the guitar into a much more dynamic controller. Using a combination of up-strum for on, down-strum for off, the different keys for different bays and elements, and even the whammy bar later on in the game to switch from board to board, JAM is easy to learn so players don’t spend a lot of time trying to remember the rules.
As for gameplay itself, we’re really looking at two different games. JAM mode, where the player uses the mixing board to add and subtract each element of a known track to create and record a completely musical remix, and Arcade Mode where the song is already playing and the player has to work to keep up and imitate the elements in the track before time runs out.
JAM mode was my personal favorite mode. I lost time playing in Jam Mode. There was actually a point where the sun had set and I didn’t even notice it. One moment it was light outside, the next I was sitting in a dark living room, with a plastic guitar in my lap, and my legs had fallen asleep from being crossed on the couch for unknown hours.
I’ve always loved music, and making music. I was a band in high school for about 6 weeks. I think we had ‘practice’ about 2 times and I never met the drummer. We were Metallica inspired, but that’s probably because the only songs we played were Metallica songs. I want to say our name was Mystic Spiral, but I’m pretty sure that’s actually the name of Jane’s brother Trent’s band in Daria. The problem with Mystic Spiral, or was it Warrior? Anyway, the problem with the band is that we sucked. Also, none of us had cars so we had to take the bus with all our instruments or get our moms to drive us. But the reason we really sucked is that music is hard. Even if a person has an aptitude, which 5 years of violin practice have taught me I don’t have, it takes years to master even a single instrument. With music simulators like JAM, you’re on a highway to awesome in the time it takes to pass the tutorial. Finally, I can rise to the heights that my crappy Metallica cover band once could only dream about.
I was entranced by this game, however, the idea of scoring was pretty much a joke. I had no idea how to score points, except that switching tracks on a beat got me something, all other points were basically a surprise for everyone involved. The tutorial didn’t seem altogether helpful either. It mentioned switching tracks on a beat, and how the number of times you switch tracks on a beat will grant you higher and higher scores, and it mentioned something about ‘good use’ of elements, but who in the world knows what that means in this day in age. Some of the synth pop songs I thought I was messing up on all over the place, but when I went back to the track select menu, they sounded like a seizure anyway.
Which leads me to music. Aforementioned synth-pop aside, I love just about every track on this game. And my favorite part about it is that most of them are from artists I’d probably never have heard of if it wasn’t for this game. Some of these guys are so indy they’re post-indy. Nick Africano doesn’t even have a website. I mean, nickafricano.net is a thing that exists, but all that’s there is a placeholder trying to pass itself off as a maintenance page. His only album was released May 1 of this year, just 15 days before JAM’s release. Incidentally, Nick’s album is $9.99 on itunes (where it only has 2 ratings, this is how underground this guy is), the same price you would pay for this game. Yeah, there’s only 1 track from him on there, but there’s 31 other tracks by new and familiar artists, some of which are sure to find themselves into your musical repertoire. I especially like the selection of hip hop they’ve collected. It’s definitely different from anything you’ll hear on the radio today. Long story short: this game has hipster cred.
Now that I’ve gushed about JAM Mode, I have to come down on the Arcade Mode. In the way that the board layout and element choice make Jam mode so free-flowing and creative, it makes Arcade Mode into a nightmare. The developers didn’t simplify any of the controls, or even the boards when they made Arcade Mode, which makes it really difficult, but on top of that, they added a tetris-style moving horizon for when you mess up and miss a key combo. For every combo the player misses, the drop point for the key combo slides one notch closer to the spawn point. When you get a combo right, the span point moves one notch back to it’s original place until it stays there, but if you get another wrong, it drops back down. There are about 10 notches in which the player can make mistakes and then it’s game over. In a three minute song, I never made it past the 40 second mark. The only person I can think of who would enjoy this horrible torture is the Guitar Hero player who plays the Dragonforce song on expert and yawns the whole way through.
Overall, I had so much fun with JAM Mode, that the unplayable nature of Arcade Mode is almost a non-issue, especially for $9.99.
When I was writing this, I did some research on the game and saw that a lot of reviewers were giving it horrible reviews. One even pronounced the entire music game genre “dead,” and used this game as an example of its corpse. Dramatic much? I think the gamers pronouncing this a stinker are not the audience for this game anyway. They’re expecting Guitar Hero style points racking with clearly defined skill levels based on obvious goals, and this isn’t that. It’s a musical playground for people who find themselves fascinated with sound and creating something beautiful out of sound. This is a game for people who never get Guitar Hero because they’re too used to their real guitar, people who make up drum solos for the songs on the radio, people who get asked “where’s that song from?” and say “I don’t know” when the truth is it’s from them.
I’m giving this game a 7 out of 10 because it’s not really a game, it’s a synth toy. But it’s a really good synth toy for $9.99. Points added for music selection, points off for Arcade Mode.
The Xbox 360 version of this title was provided for review by Reverb Publishing.