Saturday, February 03, 2007

A very low toned and gruff warning to all those who have not played Gears of War.

Before my rant, I just wanted to put out a reminder that the 10th Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy is up. Check out all the great posts at Adventures in Lame.

So recently I got to take a crack at Gears of War, courtesy of my brother's Xbox 360. The gameplay felt like a breeding between Resident Evil 4 and Halo. I enjoyed everything it took from RE 4, such as the camera, the aiming, the atmosphere, the interesting villains and AI. (Though I still like RE 4's a lot better.) The cover system was fun, and it kept me playing--though for only about 5 to 6 hours, because that's how long it took me to beat it...on Hard.

I'm really glad I didn't buy Gears of War, cause geez, it's short (and kinda easy too). There were a couple of tough parts, but it was pretty straight forward: shoot at things until the level ended. I don't understand why a 5 hour game has gotten so much attention.
Though that's not the worst part. I can deal with a short game, as long as it doesn't bombard me with images and concepts that all proclaim the glory of white men. This game does not want you to forget that these Gears carry packages. The creators took the idea of the super masculinized action hero of the 80's to such an extreme that all metal within a 10 foot radius of the T.V. has now formed a nice, manly rust. All of the characters have the proportions of a small truck, and grip mighty phallic machine guns that not only shoot hot lead, they also moonlight as a the manliest tool around: a chainsaw. CUT CUT CUT! MMMMaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrr! I was shocked at the extent in which they packed every male stereotype into this game. If I didn't know any better, I would think this was a joke, or some ironic piece of pop art.

Even the uberman's feelings toward others was well represented, for what's a Gear without his female supporter giving helpful tips over the radio, far removed and safe from mucking up all this manly action? And if I remember my American History X correctly, who could deny the convenience of the curb stomp? Why, a busy Gear can proclaim his love for hate crimes in one press of a button!

Rounding out this package of privilege is the Gear's always-entertaining black sidekick for comic relief. A man who not only has to be saved at first, but his name is 'trane--short for Coltrane.

Writer: "How should I name my token black character? What's a good 'black' name? Well...jazz musicians are are black, and they have names! Now let's think of the two jazz players I know..." (flips coin between Armstrong and Coltrane)

But apparently this character wasn't screaming black stereotype enough. The writer really wanted to flesh out his creation, so why not give 'trane a past career?

Writer: "How do black people make money? Oh yeah, they play football."

A professional football player. Sounds like the perfect combination of a shallow black character to me. All the writer had to do to capture his subtleties is to make 'trane smack talk the ground aliens with puns based off of his name. For instance: "Get off the tracks, cause the 'trane's coming through!" I must say, great writing for this post-racist society we live in.

Let's all celebrate this groundbreaking achievement in video games.


Anonymous said...

Obliviously you've never met Cliffy B before. Here's a little taste of him:

I hope that gives you some insight as to where GoW comes from. And I'll have to look for it, but somewhere there's an article lauding the "powerful women characters" in GoW and how it's "such a good portrayal of women".

Reva said...

No, no, you missed something. Can't have the total "black male" package without a parole officer. Was there one of those in the game? And did he steal things? Because you know those blacks do that too.

(This is sarcasm, btw.)

100LittleDolls said...

anon: You mean "woman" right? Because I'm pretty sure there's only one woman in the entire game. Also, I know for a fact that you can't play as a woman. But I know that I personally would like to read the article, send it our way!

I don't mean to speak for him, but I know that Shions_Glasses is aware that the creators of Gears of War didn't intentionally try to make a character that embraced racial stereotypes. They were channeling cultural conventions. Shion is making a fuss because he'd like to see things, such as the representation of people of color in video games, change.

Bint Alshamsa said...

Oh that's just great! Yeah, that's just we need because we CERTAINLY don't get enough stereotypical black characters on television and at the movies. All I can do is shake my head.

kim said...

An interview with the GoW writer (who is female, btw) can be found here:

Brinstar said...

I guess it's kind of hard to write non-stereotypical characters when CliffyB is the lead designer.

Anonymous said...

Its the replay value and coop thats getting it a lot of attention. The ai's get smarter with difficult. Cover gets more and more important, as does tactics.

Cole, the african character however is probally the most annoying character ever. He draws fire on you, he pushs you out of cover. All the other characters are more popular and less annoying.
Which is a pity for anyone who wants to like that character.

As a women, the things that annoy me, is:
You can't play a women.
The men are genetically engineering (not state but it would fit) into hulks to fight the locusts but the one women shown is not.
Only one women is in the game.
(so fails the mo measure).

So like halo, which doesnt really do it for me plot wise. This game too gets an *ick* for interest.

[halo its all the master chief love, the ringworld plot is a bit tired to someone who read a lot of sci-fi. The two major female characters remind me of more tired versions of better characters in books. The hologram computer, hello farscape, the captain women, hello bit character from a dozen shows. Im just not drawn]