Fez

Pixellated white character wearing a fez, leaping ecstatically at a 3-D golden cube

Late last week, I got the latest Humble Bundle (this one was another Indie-games Bundle, so of course I had to get on board). Humble Bundles are a pack of cross-platform games where you get to choose how much to pay. By default, most goes to the devs, some goes to Humble, and some goes to charity — but you also get to choose how to split the proceeds, so you could give it all to the devs, all to Humble, or all to charity. And if you give more than the average, you get extra games. One of those extra games was something I was particularly interested in — a little indie game called Fez.

This post will be EXTREMELY spoiler-heavy, so if you are looking to enjoy puzzle games with clever twists, go get it now and close this browser window. I’m serious. Then come back when you think you’re done, once you’ve collected your measley 32 cubes and “finished” the game, because you’re just getting started.
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Tropes Vs. Women in Video Games: Damsel In Distress, part 3

Hey look, it’s that video series that never existed because Anita Sarkeesian took the money and ran! Funny that it keeps existing, despite the trolls’ narratives.

If you want to play a game where the Princess rescues herself, there’s always Zelda Starring Zelda. And various other rom hacks. Sad that you need to hack the existing media to give an underrepresented demographic them-shaped heroes — and sadder that the responses to such efforts are not always positive. Some demographics really, REALLY hate it when their representation in a medium goes from 99% to 98%, and they can get pretty damned vicious about it. (See some of the earliest comments on the Pauline Donkey Kong rom hack Youtube video, for instance.)

Check out Feminist Frequency for more of Anita Sarkeesian’s videos, and her Tumblr for other assorted gaming and feminist goodness.

#FtBCon: Video Games, Religion and Morality

Thanks to the tight timing between the Atheist Music panel and our panel, where we had many of the same participants, we ended up turning into a pretty raucous and jovial crowd at the top of the panel while killing time waiting for Ashley and Brianne to join in. That translated into a much looser panel than I was expecting, but I really enjoy those sorts of panels so I encouraged it gladly.

Best single moment for me: Ashley humming the Katamari Damacy theme.

CONvergence – Gods of Geekdom panel audio

I absolutely enjoyed this panel. It was thorough, informative, and hilarious. We discussed gods and god-concepts in various sci fi and fantasy fandoms, including comic books, novels and even video games.

Panelists were Nick Glover, Ryan Consell, Jason Thibeault and Fionnuala Murphy.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

cvg2013-skepchickcon-godsofgeekdom.mp3

Objectification vs idealization in video games

Escapist’s Jimquisition explains the difference.

I love that he caps it off with an exhortation to thank God for him. If I didn’t like the guy, I’d be tempted to say something like “you’ve just handed us undeniable proof of a lack of gods.”

And don’t forget that any suggestion that we have strong female protagonists in the gaming world will be met with a torrent of entitled bullshit.

Tropes Vs Women in Video Games: Damsel in Distress (part 2)

Anita Sarkeesian’s completely nonexistent series continues with a completely nonexistent part-2 for her completely nonexistent first topic, the Damsel in Distress. In this one, she specifically takes on the trope called Stuffed Into the Fridge. This trope almost always takes the form of a WOMAN stuffed into the fridge. Watch, to find out why.

But that’s not the biggest news about this. Apparently, it went up today, and within the first hour it was up, it was immediately taken down by Youtube because it had been flagged as containing objectionable content.

Think about that for a moment. People are so desperate to attack Sarkeesian and any attempt at injecting feminist commentary into video games, that they’re willing to silence her by marking it as objectionable. Not because the content is incorrect, or because the content is damning of the industry, but because how daaaaaare this mere woman criticize this immature art form that we love so much?

Sigh.

Father hacks Donkey Kong rom so daughter can be Pauline

Remember that Wind Waker hack I told you about recently, where a young girl’s father — who’d been changing Link’s gender on the fly for his daughter while reading it to her — decided to make things simpler for himself by hacking the rom script?

Another father was asked by his daughter if she could play one of her favorite games, the original Donkey Kong, as Pauline instead of Mario. So, he hacked the rom (very probably from the WiiWare version, judging by the 2010 copyright), editing all the frames of animation for both Mario and Pauline to switch their roles.

Doesn’t change the functionality of the game at all, just the aesthetics. In such simple games, only in a society that prescribes strongly-defined gender roles would the default hero be a man and the default “damsel” be a woman. And yet, in an alternate universe where this was released instead of the one with Mario (or Jumpman) as the hero, I wager it would not have sold as well because video games, even back then, were already being pigeonholed as a “guy thing”.

Who knows, though. Maybe, MAYBE, inverting the Damsel In Distress trope, making the girl the one with agency and the guy the one forced to helplessly stand at the top of the building with Donkey Kong, might have been a blow struck for equality and perhaps the video game industry would have turned out much different. Perhaps.

Thanks to the dozen or so folks who kept pointing this out!

Tropes Vs Women In Video Games: Pt. 1: Damsel In Distress

Here’s a 23-minute video, the first in a series, which of course can’t possibly exist because Anita Sarkeesian is a scammer who bilked people of money on Kickstarter then went to the Bahamas.

Dense, information-packed, well-researched, correct in all its particulars, and can’t possibly exist. My search engine hits for “Anita Sarkessian scam” tell me so.