Monday, June 10, 2013

Gaming While Feminist, Part 2

Part two of Tropes vs. Women In Video Games! Full transcript here.

I like how Anita shows the recurring patterns, like "In ____________, your wife is brutally murdered and you then have to rescue your daughter." Usually people will try to claim that it's just that one game, but these sorts of violent themes are pretty ubiquitous in video games. Which reminded me of an article I read a few years ago: 5 Reasons It's Still Not Cool To Admit You're A Gamer.

Favorite part:

But damn, we're about to hit the 40-year mark on video games as a form of mass media. Forty years after movies were invented (the late 1930s), Hollywood was making The Wizard of Oz--a movie that people are still renting and buying 70 years later (they even re-released it back into theaters in 1998 and it made about $20 million--there were people still willing to leave the house and buy a ticket to see it).
Will people still be playing Bioshock 70 years from now? Hell, hardly anybody is playing it now. Sometimes I pop it in and it makes me feel really smart for five minutes, then I spend the next hour firing a flame thrower at a giant mutant with drill hands.

 Gaming needs to evolve its storytelling mechanisms and ideas. People can only play so many shoot-em-up games before they become pretty much indistinguishable from each other. Pretty much every other form of media has a huge variety of types of stories (action, mystery, romance, etc.) that enjoy a wide audience. And no one insists that people who mainly watch film noir or romance movies aren't "real movie-goers", they way that some people who say casual gamers aren't "real gamers".

Even my beloved Nancy Drew games have used the Damsel in Distress a couple times. In The Final Scene, you have to rescue your friend who's being held hostage in a theatre that's about to be demolished and you have to rescue her before the building comes crashing down. And in Ransom of the Seven Ships, Bess has been kidnapped and you have to meet the kidnappers' demands in order to get her back. And, honestly, I don't really like either game. They just don't feel as engaging as the other games, and I really don't get into them as much as the other games. Especially in RAN, it seems like once they had the "OMG RESCUE THE VICTIM" plotline, the developers just stopped and didn't bother to flesh out the rest. It was a very confused game, and no one really seemed to like it. Since then, they've been a lot better about making the plots feel more complete and even though they used a sort-of DiD type of plot in the latest game, it still felt like a full Nancy Drew game, complete with deep philosophical musings about learning from vs. forgetting the past, mental health issues, and how we remember the dead. (I swear, there is at least one person on that team with extensive knowledge of philosophy/sociology/psychology/anthropology and I LOVE THEM for it. Seriously, whoever you (all) are, you are awesome. Keep it up.)

Video games have a great potential for exploring the deeper themes of human existence, since the medium is so active (I consider movies and books to be more passive, except for the "Choose Your Own Adventure" books). The first-person-shooter type games have their place, but hopefully deeper games will gain more traction and gain a bigger audience.

Keep it up Anita! Can't wait for Part 3!

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