I read last week an interesting article on how liberally Batman: Arkham City slings the word “bitch” about. I don’t yet have the game myself–of course I’m itching to play it–and I’ll wait until I get my hands on it to pass judgment. The articles that have stood out most to me have been Kotaku’s own articles on Batman’s weird “bitch” fixation and the hypersexualization of female characters in game worlds. I thought these two to be well-written articles that certainly incited a lot of discussion in their comments. That is, of course, never a bad thing–discussion begets critical thinking. Hopefully.
Gun Fight was released in 1975 on arcade cabinets everywhere within the US. Prior to that, however, Gun Fight had an interesting history. It was originally entitled Western Gun in Japan and was designed and programmed by Tomohiro Nishikado, of Space Invaders fame. It was published by Taito and released in Japan and Europe. The decision was made to then adapt it for Western audiences. This would be the first time a Japanese game was licensed for release to America. The title was changed to Gun Fight because it was thought that American players may find the current title odd or confusing. Dave Nutting and Tom McHugh of Dave Nutting Associates adapted the game for its new audience, making a few changes along the way.
Tom McHugh programmed Gun Fight a little differently than Nishikado—his programming and architecture called for the game to use an Intel 8080 computer microprocessor. It was the first arcade game ever to use a microprocessor, and the smooth frame rate and crisp graphics caused others, including Nishikado, to use microprocessors to their advantage in the future. Visually, Gun Fight was nice to look at—it ran at 60 frames per second at a resolution of 265 x 224 pixels. It made use of a black and white raster monitor with a yellow screen overlay, allowing the characters to look a bit more colorful than their counterparts in competing cabinets.
Today I spent some quality time with my mom, and surprisingly we didn’t engage in very many battles. In fact, I don’t believe we had any at all during the time we spent together. Let me tell you from experience that when a mother and a daughter are very much alike, they clash. A lot. Little did I know that we were also alike in our career aspirations.
This was my final paper for my advanced writing course. I wrote this in perhaps the worst way possible, and did not give it the time it deserved. It just came at a horrible time, while projects were due, other papers were due, and I was putting in extra hours at work. That all left me to complete this the night before and over the course of the night. Sometimes, life just decides there aren’t enough hours in the day.
You Monster looks at the answer to the question, “How can we create a realistic, strong, and smart female game character?” GladOS plays a rather large starring role as the solution.
This here is the video my partner Casey and I had to create for our game, Into the Darkness.
Into the Darkness is a game where the core mechanic is painting your surroundings in order to see where exactly the you are in relation to the environment around you. With this, players can see if there’s a pitfall at their feet or a wall in front of their noses. Players can also use the paint mechanic to push objects around quickly, albeit with less precision.
The story behind this game is simple–the emphasis in our class was more of a proof of concept rather than a narrative masterpiece–and oh, did it pain me to have a generic storyline!
The player is trapped in an underground lab and must make their way up to the surface. There are traps awaiting them, in addition to a creature stalking them in the darkness. The player must escape the creature before it rips them apart.
Female characters in video games can often be described as slight variations of one of three archetypes: the helpless, hapless damsel in distress; the coquettish, alluring vixen; and the cold-hearted, distant embodiment of stoicism. In addition, the majority of women in games are heavily and overtly sexualized for mass male consumption, thereby providing slight variations of the same visual across several different games. Many lauded video game members have taken issue with the current state of women in games and have offered their own viewpoints in order to fix it. Leigh Alexander writes in an editorial for Gamepro Magazine that characters such as Bayonetta “[take] the video game sexy woman stereotype from object to subject” in which “the game itself is an artistic representation of the concept that female sexuality is its own kind of weapon.” Others disagree, believing that “characters [should] reflect the harsh lifestyle of their world in a much more believable way” (Hamm). Both offer interesting yet opposing solutions. However, both solutions can go much further in creating believable or truly empowering female characters. The hypersexualized dominatrix invoking female empowerment is a dramatic knee-jerk response to the objectification of women in games. The normal, average woman with a matching attitude and manner is currently the method being taken for game developers wishing to inject their games with respect for females. Video game females can be so much more than either of those two proposals. The change the industry needs for their female characters is to make them more multifaceted by giving them unique strengths, weaknesses, quirks, and personality traits. Female characterization needs to evolve to better reflect where females are today, instead of the antiquated false notions of what they were and perhaps should have been in the past.
I originally wrote this on my tumblr a while back, and can’t begin to wonder why I never cross-posted it here as well. Anyway, this is a few weeks old and I have not been back to the mysterious and frightening world of Amnesia since I wrote this short blurb–something I should fix immediately!
I still have not recovered from GDC, but that’s alright. I had such a great and amazing experience, it was definitely worth every hour of sleep that I lost. As I’m sure you can find elsewhere on the net people extolling the virtues of attending GDC, I will say this: if you can be a conference assistant at GDC, be one. Apply early, write one killer essay, and hope for the best. Being a conference assistant was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had in my life thus far, and it is one I’m sure to never forget.