Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Better to Arouse You With, My Dear

My gaming history is somewhat cliche for my age range. For instance, the first RPG that I ever played was Final Fantasy VII, and I feel it responsible for my sad and painful blossoming into a gamer. Like many people, I've always held a shining, warm spot in my heart for the franchise.

My dedication to FF VIII was legendary within my circle of three friends, and I never felt closer to my brother than the summer of FF Tactics. But I can't bring myself to play FF XII. There is a giant racist roadblock preventing me from the "best game of the franchise." I would really like to meet the person who thought, "oh, lets make the first and only black female character this series has ever had into a sexy bunny."

I mean, come on. Nobody thought this image was in any way offensive? Despite the long tradition of showing the black community as nothing more than animals? And then to sexualize her on top of that! "Hi, I'm Fran. Please do me. I'm just an animal, so it's ok." If there were any other non-human characters, or if there was ther black human characters in the party it wouldn't be as bad. But the only image this game portrays of the black community is a dehumanizing one.

I understand that the subject of race in a Japanese-made game is a complicated subject. Japan is one of the most homogeneous countries in the world, so I am weary to scream foul when a game is made with only pseudo-Japanese characters in it--by which I mean that sometimes it's difficult to tell the race of a character that is drawn in an anime style. However, gaming has reached a global level, and triple A titles like the Final Fantasy series reach all over the world. I feel it is important for these companies to realize that a wide range of people play games, and it would be nice to see some healthy representation of that. At the very least, if you are going to diversify your supporting cast, don't fall back on centuries-old racist stereotypes.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Link, a Tool?

Around halfway through The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, something struck me. Through the plot structure and objectives of the game, it seems to me that Link largely acts as an instrument for female characters.

Besides Twilight Princess, I’m not too familiar with Zelda--I’ve only dabbled in the original, so I don’t know if this is something that has popped up before. I do know though that the premise of the original game stuck to the tried-and-true formula of save the princess. In later installments, that formula has evolved, and that seems to be true for Twilight Princess as well. This shift in plot has made the traditional hero that was Link into a sort of beast of burden for goddesses and princesses.

In Twilight Princess we have Midna, who rides Link’s back and has him hunting for fused shadows. Princess Zelda is relying on Link to free her kingdom from the confines of darkness, and the goddesses chose Link to save the world. Not to mention, there’s the Zora’s queen, the bar keeper, and that monkey with the pink bow. This is not to say that Link’s not helping out plenty of men too, but the majority Link’s services are for women. I say that’s because the women of Hyrule hold a lot of power and influence.

I should mention, too, that this is helped by the fact that Link doesn’t seem to have a personality. He just does what he’s told. We get to see his facial expressions, sure, but other than that he doesn’t utter one word, sigh or complaint.

For all intents and purposes, Link is a tool. He’s not just the medium for the gamer; he’s the trusty workhorse for the rest of the major and supporting characters.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


I apologize that I've been straying away from what I initially envisioned that I'd be writing about on this blog, but I've been completely over taken by instances that are making the enjoyment that I take from comics, video games, and anime miniscule.

One of the big things in my life right now is that I'm unemployed. Like all who are unemployed and desperate for a paycheck are apt to do, I joined up with a temp agency. I took my tests, sweating and nauseous, I’ve taken my holiday and birthday checks and spent them on corporate wear from Goodwill. I’ve been practicing the application of eye shadow. I try speaking loudly and with confidence. I’ve mastered the trick of faking enthusiasm toward something that makes me burrow my head into my pillow at night and sob.

I told my temp agency that I’d be interested in working for non-profits, but they insist on sticking me in a corporate setting. I can’t shrug off my awkwardness.

I understand that I’m probably sound whiney and immature—that I’m being melodramatic in a situation that I can’t avoid. That I’m sounding over privileged. After all, I was able to attend and finish college when my parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents weren’t able to.

I’m trying to suck it up, but it gets difficult with each $10-an-hour. I’m flat out bored and frustrated. I’m furious that I’m thousands of dollars into debt, yet the only job with benefits that I could only hope to qualify for is to be a receptionist or secretary.

Yesterday was a sunny day because I had a job interview with a community college, in foreign language studies and ESL department. It was dingy and messy. Student projects were taped up to the walls. The woman who interviewed me had a soft and soothing voice. It was only until halfway through the interview did I realize she was the department chair. And I have to wait until next Friday to see if I got the job.

Until then it’s the temp jobs. The nine-hour days with the hour lunch break where I hide the feminist book I’m reading. Where I try to sneak breaks on the company’s internet only to mess up when answering the phone a minute later. Each and every company’s name is a last name and I can’t keep any of them straight.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Hello, It's Me

I'm feeling pretty good today, so I thought that I'd take advantage of my good mood and write up a post.

First things first, I'd like to point out a new blog that I've added to my sidebar. Fandrogyny features insightful feminist critiques of anime by Madeline Ashby. Good reads, plus I plan on seeking out all of her reviews so that I can keep caught up on the latest anime that I've been missing out on since I've cancelled my subscription to NewType USA.

I'm not going to making any of my own feminist critiques tonight, but I'm going to answer Lake Desire's tag and tell you all five things that you probably don't know about me. (Yes, the meme that has graced a thousand blogs.)

1. I know all the words to the opening song of Pokemon: Battle Frontier.

And I'm not afriad to admit it. I just started watching Pokemon about six months ago, and I'm now close to knowing the words for all the seasons' opening songs. Pokemon is too cute; it always gives me a lift when I'm in a bad mood.

2. My cat, Casey, is named after K-Ci from K-Ci and JoJo.

I didn't do it--blame my brother. I pretend she was named after the Casey from "Casey at the Bat."

3. I really enjoy it when games have milk in them.

Is it because I'm from Wisconsin? Or because I'm lactose intolerant? I love it when milk is a item (preferably, it heals). For whatever reason it makes me giddy. See: Dragon Quest VIII and Zelda: Twilight Princess.

4. I have a crush on both Buffy and Angel.

And when they kiss, it's perfect.

5. When I was little, I would pretend to conduct symphony orchestras.

One time my dad caught me, and I almost died from embarassment. That is, until he told me that he used to do it too. After seeing screenshots of that Wii conducting game, I have a feeling that my dad and I are far from alone.

Now that everyone knows how weird I am, I promise that soon I'll write up some posts that have a little meat to them.

Oh yeah, I meme-tag: Amy Reads (at her new blog address), Dan Jacobson, Madeline and Mickle.