This weekend (Friday morning), I’m going to Ring*Con in Germany, a Fantasy Convention. There will be a vampire ball, and I’ve changed (pun very much so intended!) into a few different outfits. Which should I choose?
[Three notes: The quality isn’t great, but I was in a hurry, too. And I have plans to “change” a photographer to keep him around! Regarding the pieces shown, if anyone is interested, I can later list where I got them from. Third, no I do not like Twilight. I just liked the “change” pun.]
This is, by the way, usually my pirate outfit – I need a better blouse though! Next, let’s go Gothic:
Kind of my favorite… Below with red bolero instead of the arm thingies:
Never mind that you can see me in the mirror! The camera is THAT great – I just don’t yet know how to use it! (It’s a Panasonic Lumix 3) If I were a Vampire supermodel, I’d not have to take pictures myself anyway! Like here:
Tired from all that “changing”… I mean, you knew that Edward wouldn’t be any help here, I have one last option:
So, which one for tomorrow nite’s ball? Oh, I will of course write up a post-Ring*Con post! Looking forward to a weekend full of geekery!
One of the (or THE?) most successful German game series, Gothic, is soon going into its fourth round (Release date is October 12, at least for the German version). After a lot of quarrel between publisher JoWood and developer PiranhaBytes, “Arcania” aka Gothic 4 was developed by Spellbound. That’s not what I’m going to discuss though – if you’ve read some of my previous posts, you can probably guess this is about GIRLS IN GAMES! First off though, let’s start with two points I want to make. 🙂 [Spoiler Note: This post contains plot spoilers only for the Gothic 4 Demo.]
First point on the graphics: They are really pretty. I’m not usually this sparing with words 😉 I just quickly need to get to something I’ve never seen before: Gothic 4 features two color modes. A brighter “American” and a toned-down “European” mode. Do we like our grass less green here? And, is it really always greener on the other side? I haven’t really thought about this too much so far. But it’s a fascinating thought – tell me where you’re from and which you like better! (I’d include a poll WITHIN this post, but I don’t know how! I’ll start and say after a lot switching back and forth, I stuck with the less bright European mode. Here’s a split-screenshot for you to base your judgement on:
[Update:] Here are two screenshots atop each other (The first one was kind of a bad choice because there is dirt to the left and grass to the right. Thanks Digiom for the comment!)
Second point. I often have trouble finding loot and items in the game worlds, and it gets worse the prettier and more detailed the graphics get. (I often tell other gamers that I like the (unique item) Plasma gun in Fallout 3 because it’s easier to spot the loot when it’s fluorescent green goo…) I often wished there were markers, or a Hint key, or something to make sure I didn’t miss something good. Gothic 4 has solved this problem very elegantly. It’s not simple markers. They’re animated, context-sensitive and very subtle. Items have a faint glow, herbs have butterflies circling them, and loot has….. yes, flies and swirling stink! 🙂
But now, let’s get to the girly gist of this post! Yeehah! 🙂 Something that has always bothered me about the series, is that it didn’t feature any women. Truth be told, I haven’t completed all of the them, but I can’t remember a single female character that bore any kind of significance to the story. If the demo is any indication, this is about to change radically: Meet Ivy! (And if you know the song my post title alludes to, you might grin at the notion that she already has a sun tan! I did!)
In ArcaniA, it’s a few years since the events of Gothic 3, and you’re a different Mystery Man than in the prequels, And you’re about to get married to Ivy during the Demo. I like her! She’s natural and very non-sexualized, probably still underweight, but let’s not get too bitchy, eh? (I just had dessert!) 😉
To gain weight…. no, wait, that’s not it. To gain her father Gromar’s consent, he sends you to drive off a certain guy from your home island of Feshyr, and then get an engagement bracelet for Ivy.
The guy is good old Diego. “Old” in a literal fashion. “Diego the Grey”, as someone called him (would quote but can’t remember who it was. Really LOLed!) You’re friends and he taught you to fight, so you simply strike a deal to trick Gromar into believing you killed Diego (of course it’s a bit more complicated than that!).
You get the bracelet by helping Gromar’s Orc Slave get his fix of his favorites shrooms (of course it’s a bit more complicated than that!) and then eventually have Gromar’s permission to marry Ivy…. who is pregnant. Before settling down as a happy little family though, she wants to see some adventure – yay, action girl!
To get off Feshyr, you once more talk to Diego, who wants one last favor (of course it’s a bit more complicated than that!). In the course of this quest, you meet Lyrca, a witch who activates your magic talent through a ritual. You wake up in a cave, and get to fight creatures that have two “states”, one of which makes them immune to physical damage. I usually hate game mechanics like that, because they usually don’t work as well as I’d like. I had fun this time though! Before the demo ends, you get to try out several weapons against several types of enemies, and for the first time in the Gothic series, I REALLY, REALLY ENJOYED COMBAT so early on in the game. (As much as realism has its charm, Gothic usually really makes a painful point about proving to you what a n00b you are during the first hours of the game!)
The demo ended before I got out of the cave system, but it really left me wanting more! I am curious to see what happens with you and Ivy. Remember: You’re a shepherd who wants to marry her – she wants adventure! 😉 So she’s definitely got potential, but ever since Queen Amidala’s transformation from kickass girl to whiney dumbass girl between Star Wars I and II, I’m somewhat paranoid in that regard.
I really hope that it’s MUCH less buggy than Gothic 3 and turns out a success… ’cause you see, the developer is German – and the publisher is Austrian! So it’s my patriotic duty to say great things about this game! 😉
To prove that I was just kidding, I will post the ONLY hiccup I experienced.
With that inlook ends my outlook to what looks like a great game!!! (Three‘s a charm, right?)
As I announced in “Glamgeekgirl hits GameCityVienna“, which reflects my first impressions, I went back to the event this Sunday, with Laura and her boyfriend Markus (http://www.konzeptionist.at), who was taking pictures. (Which was awesome because I could focus on the games – yay! Many thanks!) By the way, this post is pretty much spoiler-free!
I tried skateboarding on the Wii… and totally got pwned! Markus commented that the controls weren’t intuitive at all – yes, everything he says – it had NOTHING AT ALL to do with me!
Then Laura and I tried Raving Rabbits, but didn’t have a clue what to do….
We also played some things on PlayStation Move, but if I were to pick a motion-controlled system, I’d stick with the Wii. (Side Note: I was very eager to try out Kinect, but you were filmed if you played and had to fill out a form accepting to be filmed and whatnot, so I declined.)
There were separate areas for 18+ gamers for both PlayStation and XBOX 360. They did NOT list the presented games outside the area, which struck me as pretty stupid. I got to show ID, by the way – YAY! 😉 There was a loooooooooong line in front of the PS area, which had Kung Fu Rider, RUSE, Killzone 3 etc. I was dissappointed with my own experiences with them, and didn’t see other gamers who seemed to have exceptional amounts of fun either.
Not a photo from GameCity, but I have to show you that game, the premise is just too funny:
Nobody was waiting in front of the XBOX 18+ area – what kind of feeling does that give you? I wasn’t expecting anything really. We went in, and saw three row of XBOXes set up, I think 2 per game. Most were occupied, so I walked down the middle row… there was one free spot, and guess who is looking at me from the screen? HAWKE! He-Hawke actually, well hello Mister!
Being the console noob that I am, I didn’t know how to restart the game, so I just picked up where someone had left off. In the middle of a dialog – well yeah, if you don’t like dialogs, BioWare isn’t for you! Sadly, the volume was down and it was too noisy around me, so I can’t tell how he sounds – but I could see the lips move, and thus assume that they TALK! Hawkie-Talkie, yeah!
I then had a nice talk about choice with a lovely elderly lady… The dialog wheel now shows the tone of the options (although I haven’t figured them all out, but I think: there’s a red clenched fist for defiant/violent/evil ones and a white twig-thing for the good ones. The third was a blue drama mask with, a more neutral expression).
Here I’m in the middle of a fight with a party that’s already wounded due to whoever started to play before me. Anyway, I kick ass – and that’s saying something about XBOX controls being intuitive!!!
The demo was soon over, and the game restarted itself (thanks, very noob-friendly). Same as Laura, I picked a Warrior She-Hawke out of the available Warriors or Rogues of both sexes – the Mages were, much to my disappointment, locked.
Now a close-up of She-Hawke and Bethany. In the beginning of the demo, you’re fleeing your home, and Beth isn’t the only of your kin you’ll be talking to.
In the meantime, I was fighting waves of Hurlocks with AWESOME moves, like a multiple-enemy sweep of my two-handed blade, and then finally…. look, an Ogre!
And here’s a Dragon crashing my party! (How many dozens of meanings does “party” have, anyway?)
Unfortunately, I don’t have screenies of the guys who tell Hawke’s story in the future/present. It was implemented well though, and based on my first impressions, I think it could work out after all!
I had lots of fun playing Dragon Age 2 on the XBOX 360. The combat is very responsive and immersive, throwing you right into the action (not in a bad way, unless you want to hit Pause and plan ahead constantly), and the special moves are great – that circular sweep bloodily pwned several Hurlocks at a time! The graphics are awesome and the characters look really cool. FemHawke could really be the next FemShep (perhaps that’s exactly what they’re aiming for? Would you be so nice, BioWare people, to drop by this blog and tell me?). The dialog wheel indicator seems a good update, as I sometimes wasn’t sure what my Warden was getting at in DA:O. If you liked the Intro art in DA:O, you will love what you see in that demo – I never understood why BioWare didn’t use that style more in the first installment, but I’m hoping for the best!
I can’t say much about the plot, as for starters, I don’t want to spoil what I experienced, and secondly, I also, stupidly, didn’t pay enough attention. It was too loud to listen, and to bothersome to read all the text while I could just randomly try the dialog and combat systems instead. Thinking back now, I should have stayed and played this much, much longer. But I thought I was missing something else… something that never came!
So, in conclusion, I thoroughly enjoyed GameCity, but there are several points worth improving… yet they all FADE (haha, Dragon Age pun!) away after playing the DA2 demo. March 2011, I am looking forward to you very, very, very much! This could be EPIC! And, hey Mom, if by any chance you read this… I want an XBOX for Christmas!* 😉
First things first: Game City takes place this weekend, September 24 – 26 in Vienna’s (amazing, see photo below) Town Hall. All the info can be found at http://www.game-city.at. [Editor’s note: Sorry for the quality of some of the pics, that was my cell phone!] This is my report from Friday and I’m going back tomorrow, Sunday, with my awesome reporter-speaker-marketer friend Laura. 😉
It took me a while to figure out what was where, and how to get to it… and I wasn’t the only one. Gladly, there were Info Points and booklets to help out with that.
Of course, sometimes I had to stop and admire the architecture. Quite a contrast to the modern consoles and stuff, but I like! Let’s take this view in the courtyard as an example:
So, I finally found my way to the upper floor, into this hall:
Oh and by the way, bound by my claim to always put the “glam” and “girl” into the “geek”, here’s the t-shirt I wore, along with a miniskirt: 🙂
Of course, it wasn’t really a fashion event! I’ve seen way too many gamer stereotypes established, affirmed, reconfirmed, updated and run over by a Buick! 🙁 And most of the girls I saw were just tagging along with their boyfriends – at least that’s the impression I got. Helloooo Vienna, where are your gamer girls?
What was lovely though, is how easily the hordes of kiddies got into the games, no matter if it’s Kinect, Move, or whatever else. I, on the other hand, being just one person, and a complete console newbie, was a little too timid to fight for a spot-to-give-it-a-shot. I’m also not used to people watching me as I play… (Which is truly idiotic, I’ve been a gamer for 18 years, I don’t really think I would embarass myself… but I can’t help it. Maybe Laura can.)
Maybe we’ll take pics with this guy, too. And as the weather tomorrow should be considerably worse than Friday, I’m sure his costume is not a torture, but comfy bliss:
Looking forward to returning tomorrow. Planning on trying more stuff, taking more pics, and having much more fun!
Sigh. Yes, I’m heartbroken. It’s the Year of the Maker 2010, and us girlgamers still face the same clichés as ever. Besides, us GAMERS, guys and gals alike, should not be the ones to prolong the stereotype of “immature, silly gamers” who can only get close to the opposite sex in virtual worlds.
Two recent infuriating examples on which I have commented are:
“Five bloody new video games for guys” on CNN, where Mr. Steinberg seems to think that only guys like violent games. So if I like those games, I must be pretty confused about my own gender to pick the nick “glamgeekGIRL”, eh?
Now get this quote from his article:
“Here are five testosterone-drenched games that rub us the right way. Try not to drool as you shoo the wife out the door or tuck the kids in to sleep and race back to whipping up on the bad guys all in your man cave.”
Excuse me? You can’t be serious! If his testosterone-drenched ramblings rub you the wrong way, please click the above link and give him a piece of your opinion! (Sometimes I can’t see my comment below the article, sometimes I can, don’t know why. I posted as glamgeekgirl and threatened to beat him with a frying pan, alluding to his “shoo your wife” remark. And the original credit for me making any kind of “frying pan remark” should go to my HS arts teacher, who was a really funny guy…)
For one thing, there doesn’t seem to be a list for the Top Leading Ladies – which is a problem in itself, because there still aren’t that many great heroines.
Secondly, MaleShep from the Mass Effect universe takes the #1 spot, for, among other reasons, his ability to “bang Tali like a snare drum” and “bone her silly” until she considers him a god!
Yes, both Shepards can have sex with some of the NPCs. But thanks to BioWare’s writing skills, the romances are done in a very respectful and charming way – quite unlike some in The Witcher or Alpha Protocol (the latter of which I haven’t played, but I read the great article “Women aren’t Vending Machines“; it even has a valid, critical point about the romances in ME that hadn’t ocurred to me before). I haven’t played either gender of Shepard as a pure renegade, so I don’t know how the romances play out then, but I can’t wrap my brains around Shepard using sex to influence his or her crewmates. (Please comment, with spoiler warning, if you know more. I’m curious!)
So we’re talking actual game content with a “sexist wishful thinking” interpretation on that gamer’s part. And for protesting against the sexism in the post, I was called a gamer-basher (thanks Damon for backing me up! [I’d link to you if I knew where!]). I then replied with this comment (excerpt): “I know it’s fun to explore your moral options especially in RPGs – being the nice guy/gal, or the arse, or something in between. But the bad behavior shouldn’t resonate in our real lives, like it has here. I wish you could leave those fantasies of “a girl considering you a god for banging her” behind when you exit the game. With that attitude, it may not happen in reality, y’know?”
I usually tell people outside the fandom that games are an exciting medium that is adult and mature, and gamers are great, funny people. Yet sometimes, like right now, I grow so tired of defending my beloved game community, because we’re proving our critics right! We’re hurting our own cause of being taken seriously!
[Funny sidenote on gripe #2: The post’s author misspelled “crewmates”, so it read “former cremates compare him to a god”, which instantly made me picture a game revolving around “Shepard the Mortician”. After all, as Davidsfunstuff pointed out later on Twitter, you CAN incinerate your enemies… 🙂 ]
[This is a very old post. In the meantime, I have written my Master thesis about the games. Should follow up on the topic of women in AC soon.]
I love Assassin’s Creed! I don’t know how the game has slipped past my awesomeness-in-games radar (I suppose it “blended”, but more on that later), but it happened. And so, after my brother David mentioned it to me, I started playing, and finished today… and while I really enjoyed the game, my experience of the characterization ranged from great to greatly frustrating.
This post will contain plot spoilers for Assassin’s Creed! You have been marked… I mean, warned!
I have not yet played Assassin’s Creed 2, so if you have and wish to comment, please add a spoiler warning as well. And take note that I can only assume what happens with the characters next, so don’t judge me! 😉
In Assassin’s Creed, you play an assassin, Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad…
Sounds logical, no? But, “you” in that case is not you, but “your avatar”; as in “your avatar plays an assassin”. In fact, you’re an average Joe named Desmond Miles, who was kidnapped because one of his ancestors, the Assassin Altaïr’s memory holds information vital to the kidnappers. So Desmond is forced to use the Animus device, which “can access genetic memory” to relive Altaïr’s dangerous life in the Holy Land.
Most of the game action happens in the past storyline, you switch to the present in “interludes”, after you finished one so-called memory block. So in three cities in the Holy Land, you gather information on your targets through pickpocketing, eavesdropping, interrogations or helping your clan brothers, and then assassinate them. You can either roam the streets, or climb the rooftops and towers like a mad monkey (side note: You can’t swim! I had to LMAO!). You often must stay undetected (via the “blend” mode I’ve alluded to above), or guards and templars will be on your heels. It gets a bit repetitive, but the atmosphere is really great, and the setting is quite unique, as the Animus’ tech bleeds into the past. The story elements are rather sparse, but enticing enough to want to go ahead – and even though I’ve played RPGs for many years, I didn’t expect this ending: awesome! In the present storyline, your options are really limited. You can talk with one of your captors and his assistant and find out a few bits and pieces that may come in handy to get you out of your dire situation.
So much about the basic idea of the game. On to the characterization. Your Desmond/Altaïr is set as male, and you cannot customize anything. And that’s perfectly fine, since there’s a GOOD REASON to it. He’s not an AFGNCAAP with a male face, he’s got a “male personality”. Not that of a modern man, but one fitting, I think, for a gifted taker of lives living in the time of the Crusades. In the game’s manual, he is described as “Disciplined, focused, and bold.”
In the prologue, you have the highest level possible in Assassin’s Creed, but you mess up the mission out of carelessness and endanger your whole Guild. You are able to prevent the worst from happening, but are stripped of all your ranks and must redeem yourself to regain them. It’s one of the nicest ways to explain why you suck at the beginning of the first act – much, much better than that doggone amnesia cliché!
In the course of the game, we see Altaïr progress from a reckless, arrogant, overconfident egoist to someone who thinks about his actions, feels guilt and empathy for his victims, and helps out his brothers.
Altaïr fits the time he belongs to, and so I don’t mind being forced to play a male hero. That was the Good.
In the past setting, not a single of the more important NPCs is a woman. One of your assassination targets claims you have killed men and women, but unless you accidentially kill a female civilian, the game doesn’t seem to want it to happen. Then, quite late in the game, one of your nine targets turns out to be a woman, so Altaïr spares her life and lets her go – I was relieved that he didn’t do it because she was female, but simply because she wasn’t who he was after. He and one of his brothers are surprised about her appearance, but we learn not who she is, or what her reasons are. It seems awkward, but perhaps we learn more in the sequel?
Most of the civilians simply go about their way and you can either use them to blend in, or shove them around if you don’t care about drawing attention from the guards. Some women are carrying jars on their heads, some men carry crates of some kind, and if you shove these people, their stuff breaks and they will make a fuss about it. Then there are a few special types: Scholars or damsels in distress that are being harassed by guards, whom you have to kill to save the civilians. Drunkards and crazies, who are always male and will in turn shove you around, causing you to break your cover; and beggars, who are always female and will whine on and on and block your way until you want to do them in.
[Update/Edit] Obviously, people not only think that, they do it. And post it to YouTube with a video description like “We all love to kill begger women, they deserve to die anyway…”. And there are several of these out there, but I didn’t find any video about killing the drunks or crazies. *sigh*
[Next edit: Removed the link since the YouTube video has been taken down. Hopefully because someone else found it objectonable.]
So far, so cliché: Men are either aggressive, or scholars. Women are helpless whiners. It bugs me, but I can live with it, because it is plausible in that time and setting, that women simply didn’t gain any kind of important position (which could make them a target for our Assassin). That was the Bad, or Nessecary Evil for authenticity’s sake. It’s sad that this one-dimensional characterization causes unnecessary (factually and game-wise) violence against female civilians. [Update end]
But let’s go Back to the Future. Err… present. Desmond is described as “Independent, introverted, and defensive” and cynical in the game’s manual. So far, I experienced him as rather bland compared to Altaïr, and as giving in to his situation too easily. But that’s not my main problem with the present storyline in Assassin’s Creed. It’s Lucy, the assistant of your captor, and also one of their victims.
Lucy simply reeks of cliché. Blonde, pretty thing? Check. Victim? Check. Caring? Check. Obedient? Check. Okay, so she’s a scientist… but she’s in a field that is considered pseudo-science. Reminds me of the “only women are into astrology” cliché. This all made me hate her character. That was supposed to be the Ugly.
Made me hate her… until the very last interlude: She not only saves Desmond’s life, but she secretly reveals to Desmond (or rather “us”, the player? I’m not sure, as Desmond doesn’t comment on it) that she is an Assassin, too. Was she putting on a cliché face the whole game, and fooled not only the meanies, but also me? I will turn the tables in Assassin’s Creed 2: Just as Altaïr had to redeem himself in the first installment, I will give Lucy a chance to redeem herself in the sequel. Until then, the verdict is suspended. (But the post title stays, I like my allusions!)So this is, why I said above that “my experience of the characterization ranged from great to greatly frustrating”. Lucy was the most frustrating part, but perhaps her disguise was so good that I should actually also consider her characterization as great. Well done, Ubisoft! Thinking about all that, I love the game even more than before!
What did you think of the characters in Assassin’s Creed? (Remember: Comments that include spoilers from AC2 should have a warning!)
I’ve been writing about player character customization a few times now. I’ve stumbled upon an acronym that describes this “blank sheet hero”: AFGANCAAPs are “Ageless, Faceless, Gender-Neutral, Culturally Ambiguous Adventure Persons”. (Pronounced “aff-in-cape”, “aff-gn-cap” or “afghan-cap”.) They used to be most prominent in early adventure games. “In an attempt to reinforce the notion that the player of the game “is” the player character, most early games went out of the way to avoid applying any characterization to the player character.”
So what happened then? I think we saw a few more thoroughly characterized heroes since those early times. But I hypothesize that the more different groups of people start to play games (be it women, seniors, casual gamers), the harder it will be to create one that “everyone identifies with”. And while that isn’t what I want in a game hero/heroine, it seems the devs and publishers do. It’s a simple, but short-sighted marketing decision. Are we facing the Return of the AFGANCAAPs? What are your opinions on this?
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all game characters are created equal, that they are endowed by their developer with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
Hmm, self-evident. Really?
I was thrilled and amused when the thought ocurred to me that the US Declaration of Independence would be such fruitful material to further my ponderings on equality in games. 😉 Apart from the equality debate itself, the three aforementioned rights are essential to games as well: You (usually) can’t continue if your character dies, you have to have a certain degree of liberty in your game decisions (games that fail in this aspect are often mocked as “interactive screensaver”), and must be able to persue happiness, i.e., enjoy the game. I paused my first playthrough of Dragon Age: Origins for a week because a certain end-game choice made me very unhappy. That was so….. unconstitutional!
But let’s return to equality. As has been discussed before in Call me Lady Gama, I feel at ease with the “girl gamer” label, and I think my playing style is feminine. (What I wanted to add to my last entry was that, as a non-girly example, I don’t mind blood’n’gore in a game, and have always enjoyed things like Fallout’s Bloody Mess Trait/Perk. It’s a caricature, taken to such extremes that it couldn’t ever appall me. So it’s not all black and white, y’know?) I love being able to play a female character, and I want her to “act it”, in an equal, emancipated and confident way (as I try to be, myself). And I do want her to be sexy, just in a more realistic and credible way than what I usually get treated to.
As Jenn Frank pointed out in When “You” is a girl on the great site Infinite Lives, games are usually developed from a male point of view, and then, the option to play as a female is grafted onto it. You can basically put boobs and make-up on your hero and voilà, that’s your heroine! (I only recently read that Dragon Age 2 will introduce a female skeleton version for all characters! About time, fellas!) Nothing in the plot, dialogs or quests changes, apart from the flirts and romances (apart, again, from the homosexual ones, which often have an “explanatory opener”, but then proceed like the heterosexual ones). There are still few “female-avatar-only” PC games (Venetica or the Lara Croft series instantly come to mind), compared to “male-avatar-only” or “you-can-choose-but-not-quite” (see the link below on the difference between “sex” and “gender”).
I don’t generally dislike games that have only one option for the avatar’s gender – but I want it to be meaningful. In other words, it should make sense that this plot, dialog etc. can only happen to a woman or man. Ideally though, I get to pick my avatar and the game reflects that choice in distinct reactions, just like many games do depending on your karma/class/origin/faction. (Think about it again, as I just did for a while: Usually, when a game distinguishes between male and female avatars, we’re talking romance. Not main quest and plot line!) Settings like in Dragon Age or Fallout would give plenty of opportunity for that – but especially Fallout gives you 100% the same game, whether you play a guy or gal. As Jenn Frank put it in aforementioned blog post: “You may choose the sex of your avatar, certainly, but you do not choose your gender, which itself is essentially written into the game dialogue and scenarios.” In Dragon Age’s defense, I just read the post “Gaming as a Woman and Dragon Age Origins” by “Petite Chablis” that the Origin stories differ from male to female – I have tried each Origin and a little ways into the main plot as male or female, but no Origin as both; need to check that out! (My first choice is usually a female elf mage, if applicable. On later playthroughs, I often play as male to check for new twists and turns – more than often enough, all I get to see is a difference in necklines of my equipped armor suit.)
Many male players pick the female avatar for their first playthrough – and many of them agree that it simply means they can watch a pretty rear for dozens of hours 😉 – and it doesn’t really matter gameplay-wise anyway. Makes me wonder about two things – does over-the-shoulder perspective, or would a more “gendered” gameplay influence the percentage of guys playing as gals?
Or more generally speaking: Is it possible to create a game that really and truly treats us as “different but equal”?
I’ve spent some time thinking about why I play, and how I play recently – and that I agree with many of her reasons, but come to a different conclusion:
I AM a GIRL GAMER. Similar to how I am human first, female second, I am gamer first, and girl gamer second. Just as I do many everyday things the female way, I believe I also play in a feminine way. And there’s nothing wrong with that! It doesn’t mean I only play The Sims and own a pink PlayStation.
To set the record straight: I don’t do pink (The only person I know to have a pink PS is a guy). I don’t do chick flicks. I build my computers from scratch. I am not addicted to chocolate. 😉 I am certainly not your cliché blonde. On the other hand, I can’t deny that I’m also quite girly: I love shoes. I love Johnny Depp. I love clothes, jewelry and make-up. I totally go awwwww at cute kittens. (I posted some details on my inner dilemma in Girl vs. Geek Part One. Let me know if I should see a shrink yet).
So, how does me being a woman affect how I play? Or does it affect what I play in the first place? Some of my all-time favorites are: Baldur’s Gate I+II, Fallout I-III, TES: Morrowind, Dune, Planescape Torment, The Dark Eye Trilogy, Colonization, SpellForce II, Mass Effect I+II, Dragon Age, The Witcher and Tropico II. Are those per se girly games? (Oh, I also loved Rollercoaster Tycoon III, but it was way too easy to beat. That one is definitely girly. Perhaps they thought that girls wouldn’t dig a harder game – which is part of the problem Next_Jen’s been discussing…)
I don’t think my choice of games is too girly. But let’s look at how I play. Say I’m faced with a quest that I can solve with brute force or with diplomacy, a special skill, trade-off, or some such. I’m well aware that this is a cliché, but isn’t there a bit of truth in that women tend to try to solve problems through talking and compromising rather than direct confrontation? I’m not saying that all guys will pick the fight, nor will all girls play nice. But I certainly would like to see statistics or a survey on that! It’d be nice if you commented on your playing behavior! I’m really curious!!!
I think all that dialog and relationship-building in the Mass Effect or Dragon Age series appeals to women more than to men. I totally loved it. Not just the romance part, but all that banter and teasing. Awww, Wynne taunting Alistair about being enraptured with “me” was so endearing (watch on YouTube). And one of the funniest romance dialogs of all times in Mass Effect 2, which I won’t go into because it has early-game plot spoilers (I can reveal more if you’re too lazy to search, just contact me). So there definitely are girly parts in those games. I don’t care for relationship-building and romancing as the sole purpose of a game, like in Japanese otome games or in “Singles”. But I love how you can win a battle and then discuss it with your companions especially in BioWare’s games, it adds so much to your character’s progress that can’t be shown in XP and talent points. And I will admit that I was really touched when Kaidan Alenko grabbed my depressed Shepard’s hand and pulled her up in Mass Effect I. (Literally speaking, you’d have to be “up” first in order to “get laid”, right? But that pun could quickly get way out of control… ahem.)
I would never want the label “girl gamer” to mean ridicule or not being taken seriously. Or being not equal in any way to a “guy gamer”. But if it means “girl that loves games”, I’m, well…. I’m game!
Speaking of equality… *sigh*. Regarding that, I have a bigger question in mind… which I will ponder in my next post.
In my previous post “A Little Byte of Romance”, I pointed out some points (uhm… nevermind that) of criticism of “The Witcher”, about it being a game that forces you to be either asexual or sexist with not too much in between. In the meantime, I continued playing. And I tell you, that pale bastard Geralt grows on ya. Especially if you’re “Whiter than White” yourself. I am one of those very white people, due to my cells being unable to produce enough pigment. Sadly – and just in case you’re wondering – I cannot work magic like Geralt. 😉
He’s a cynic, pale as a corpse, scarred, mutant, outcast loner. (Oh and he’s amnesic, which guarantees for some funny dialogs.) When you walk around town as Geralt, people curse and call you names, tell you to stay away so they aren’t associated with you – or shout out warnings for the women (mmmkay, in his case, the latter REALLY is advisable!). And while in real life, this name-calling rarely happens to me personally, I know enough people with albinism (who are even whiter than me) who suffer greatly from it.
Non-player-characters often try to persuade you to turn against the humans based on this discrimination. Unlike in romantic matters, you often have very nuanced answers to these attempts to incite racist hatred. So I’m thinking… while The Witcher doesn’t allow me to play and act as a woman, it does allow me to play as an outcast who doesn’t dwell on his victimhood – and I quite like that!