Friday, July 27, 2007

Didn't I Already write this post?

I was very excited about Rogue Galaxy when I first heard about it. Level 5 left me in love after Dark Cloud 2 so my hopes were high. However, Rogue Galaxy did not turn out how I envisioned. It falls short of Dark Cloud 2 in gameplay, story, and most importantly: feminist stuff. Dark Cloud 2 did a great job of balancing between its girl and boy characters. Max and Monica were given equal attention in both story and gameplay, thus creating a gender equality which went to defy some game conventions. Monica was fully clothed, (not counting secret cat outfit) and fought with a sword, a rarity in video games. While Max was the brains compared to her brawn, and he fought with a nontraditional weapon, an honor usually assigned to a women. Developer: "Girls can't handle anything as phallic as a sword, we better give her an umbrella."
Because of these and other great elements that seemed to intentionally defy conventional roles, their follow up game seemed to be a sure hit. How wrong I was.
[spoiler warning]
Meet Lilika. The sexualized, exoticised only woman of color within your party, and one of two women out of 8 playable characters. Her origin story isn't much better. Of course the only woman of color in the game has to hail from a "backwards" tribal jungle planet. A planet that the white skinned offworlders end up saving. Jaster and friends expose to the poor savages that the god they worshiped was none other than a vile monster causing many problems in the village. So using the power of an almighty gun, Jaster helps the silly silly savages by killing their god. I've found that Imperialism leaves quite a bad aftertaste.
The character of Lilika is fairly interesting, but how can she be taken seriously while looking the way she does. I mean a tiger skin bra? Really? How can the game itself, nay, all of video games be taken seriously when characters are portrayed in this manner. This is why I get embarrassed to tell people I'm a gamer.
I had a possible ray of hope in acquiring her alternative outfits, but I should have known better. I have to say that giving the only woman of color in the game an outfit called "Royal Servant Clothes" is pretty insulting. On top of that, her bow is pretty worthless in combat. The one saving grace is that she doesn't have bunny ears. Shame on you Level 5, I thought you were better than this.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Elebits are cute and creepy.

It’s been a harried week of trying to get used to my new work load, and trying to stay optimistic in light of learning about the sad state of women’s reproductive rights and health care are in this country.

In an attempt to either cheer me up (or to distract me from doing my work) Shions_glasses rented Elebits. I haven’t had the chance to play many Wii games. Sure, I’ve put some hours in on Wii Sports, played a bit of Twilight Princess and beat Trauma Center, but that’s been about it. I can’t afford the prince of new games, and the price of used games for the Wii hasn’t been much better.

Elebits has a lot for me to love, namely its cuteness and penchant for making messes. It seems to borrow a lot of its atmosphere from Katamari and Pikmin. I was a bit worried about the controls, seeing that I dislike first person perspective in video games (ack, tunnel vision) and therefore suck at FPSs, but it’s actually easy to get the hang of. I still feel limited by the perspective, and probably would still prefer a behind the shoulder camera angle, but it doesn’t really impede my enjoyment.

One complaint I do have is the voice acting. It’s worse than the first Baten Kaitos game. Hell, its worse then those budget kids’ shows on PBS. Everyone sounds creepy. And the story? Basically, a kid feels neglected by his parents and is understandably pissed about it. What better way to get back at Mom and Dad than by tearing the house apart? However, it’s not all innocent revenge. The game has been hinting that Elebits are acting strangely--dear god, are these hunks of pastel cuteness going to attack me?

I may not be able to answer that, as we have to return the game Saturday, but I’m pretty sure that if I ever find Elebits in the bargain bin, I’m gonna snap it up.

Monday, July 16, 2007

E3 Reactions: We are PR

I’ve never been happier with my cable TV and my unemployment than this last week. Those two factors allowed me to watch G4’s live coverage of E3. It has been a fantasy of mine to attend E3--a fantasy that hatched many intricate yet unfulfilled plans and schemes by me and my comrades. So it was a real treat to watch the big press conferences live. It was also an eye opening look into the companies that produce video games.

Nintendo was amazing. I completely understand that Nintendo is a corporation that is out for making money and all those things that the communist in me should hate. But man oh man, if sci-fi ever comes true and corporations start ruling the world, I would totally enlist in Nintendo’s army. It was delightful to listen to corporate talking heads spouting rhetoric about inclusion. Sure, they had the required “our company is the best company in the world and invest in us” speak, but the majority of their corporate message was about the inclusion of everyone in video games. “Everyone is a gamer” was the catch phrase pushed by Reggie, Miyamoto and Iwata. I wish every billion dollar company had that motto and pursued, researched, and most importantly respected all demographics. I think respect is the main difference I felt between Nintendo’s and Sony’s presentations. Sony’s press conference was terrible. Beyond all the ho hum games (except MGS4: war commentary with vampires and cyborgs, yum) Sony had what I’d like to call a bad attitude. The conference started with the worst speaker I’ve ever seen, Jack Tretton, as his Home avatar checking out some “hot chicks.” Yep, Sony started the biggest news event of the year with some good ol’ fashion cat calling. As Jack walked outside to Home’s hub, three female avatars were standing in a line all dancing, and he proceeded to “hello ladies” them. Throughout the presentation he kept referencing the “hot chicks,” and mentioned that he hoped they would stop by his hip Home pad, which was decked out in the finest of yuppie fashion. The main message I received from Sony is that they don’t regard women as serious consumers of their products and that they love materialism. It was jarring to move from watching a woman play Metroid Prime 3 on stage to Sony’s boy’s club attitude. My assumption is that Sony was upset at the record low levels of misogyny at this year’s E3, with the lack of booth babes and Nintendo’s radical ideas. Sony just needed to make up for it.

I am so disappointed in Sony. I used to be a huge fan of the Playstation and Playstation 2. I’ve said awful things about the N64 in my day, and only respected the Gamecube from afar. But now, I can’t see myself ever buying a PS3, and feeling a little ashamed of my past loves. Nintendo is a company I can feel alright giving money to, based on their mature look at the industry. We used to have a good thing Sony, why did you have to go and ruin it.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

More on Sony hating me

Alice at Wonderland commented the other day on Sony's "Because your Girlfriend bores you shitless" ad. She also points out that there's a possibility that the ad may not be official:

Beenabadbunny says, while the ads are real, they possibly don't belong to
Sony. A Sony hired-blogger is denying they're official... going from N'Gai's original post, the ads are posted on, which claims to showcase worldwide work; however, any user can upload an example.

The blog in question, Three Speech, only says that "we’re reliably informed, however, it’s not a bona fide PlayStation advert."

No names, no official press release--why am I going to believe that the ads are a fake? We all remember Sony's so-called "hip hop" fan site, right?

Besides, even if the ads aren't official, I'm concerned that Sony isn't concerned about their image. I'd like to think that that Sony would see these ads as offensive enough to their consumers to say something, instead of releasing word on a "semi-official" blog.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Good News Everyone

I’ve landed an internship that starts next week at a brand new organization that aims to train health care workers so that they can provide reproductive health care to underserved women who desperately need it. This includes providing abortions, for access is extremely limited in the Midwest, especially for rural women and women in poverty. The organization will also provide lectures, workshops, classes, counseling and other activities. I’m ecstatic to be a part of this organization—women’s health and reproductive rights has always been an important issue to me and one that I intensely studied in college.

For the time being I’ll still be temping 40 hours a week in addition to my internship, but as time goes on the organization that I’ll be working for may be able to take me on full time. (Fingers crossed.) I still plan to keep my fan girl fire burning—I’ll try to keep on posting here once a week, hanging out at the Iris boards and will still be updating Jade Reporting. (You know we’re looking for volunteers, right?)