"Being a bitch doesn't make you a strong character."
Via the always impeccable Yahtzee on Escapist Magazine:
There are plenty of examples of this kind of bad female characterization. Lara Croft, the classic feminist hate figure, and her murderous kleptomania. Whatshername from Dead Space, yelling at you to fix everything while she sits behind a monitor eating cakes. [...]
Females in this vein don't come across as "independent" or "strong." They act like neurotic feminists who feel that their every action and expression has to illustrate the fact that they're just as capable as the men, and don't like being looked upon amorously (hence why they all dress so conservatively, I suppose). They're as shallow as any traditional kidnapped princess because they only have one character trait, and still define themselves by the men that surround them.
You want to make a strong female character, you do the same thing you do to make a strong anything character. Give them a life, a backstory, hopes, dreams, desires. Give them the capacity to feel the whole gamut of emotions. Yes, let them be tough, but let them laugh, and cry, and find things to enjoy in life. And why not give them a wazza pair of jugs, too. That's always fun.
Yesterday, I had the joys of getting one of my non-gamer friends hooked on a game. Getting to watch Mir laugh and stumble through building a lattice to make a bridge for a bunch of wobbly goo balls to cross over was totally worth the teensy $20 I paid for World of Goo.
People who were weaned mostly on games as children, rather than other forms of media - Saturday morning cartoons, sci-fi movies, dungeons and dragons - continue to approach problems from a different perspective as they move into adulthood. For example, we tend to interpret architecture and industrial design different, after subconsciously studying the worlds we previously walked through, built from the imagination of the game creator's mind. There are other nuances within gaming, of course, such as the type of games played (educational, sandbox, interactive storytelling, entertainment, etc), as well as within the different [constantly changing] genres of games - first person, strategic, puzzle, and others.
Whether I'm having a conversation about politics, technology or society with someone, the ideas that get thrown around between people who are (or were at some point) at least moderately invested in gaming tend to take on a distinctly more constructivist approach. This often leads to a more holistic understanding of not only the topic at hand but also the other person's stance on the issue. I take for granted that not everyone I deal with is/was a gamer, and so I often find myself expressing frustration at concepts and context that I assume are common knowledge, when in fact, they aren't. Of course, this reflects more on me being an occasional insensitive douchebag than on them lacking any knowledge. What follows is a list for these people (people who don't play video games, not people who think I'm a douchebag - their list is long enough as it is).
Find the least contacted community in the most underdeveloped corner of the world, and you will probably find kids with sticks playing with ants (assuming the area isn't dominated by siafu). The insect's charm is understandable. In ants, we find tiny but industrious creatures that work together to build cities and surmount obstacles far too great for the individual. We enjoy observing and meddling with these miniature societies, because in them we see our own.
Hi everyone, meet Stoly. He's a humanoid biped carnivore who likes to dance: [video]
He was created using the free Spore Creature Creator Trial, for Windows and Mac. Spore is one of those upcoming games that I'm a little conflicted about. On the one hand it was developed by Will Wright at Maxis, one of my all-time favorite gaming shops. On the other hand, Maxis is now owned by EA / the Walmart of game publishers. I
won't go into the reason why Electronic Arts sucks - all you need to know is that together with Ubisoft, they are the worst thing to happen to digital entertainment innovation since someone gave Hideo Kojima a computer. Anyhow, in the vein of games like Black and White, SimCity and, well, pretty much every other other Maxis game, what's unique about Spore is that it will give you near-complete control over the game experience, and lets you design your own race of super- (or sub-) creatures, all the way from being a single-cell organism to establishing an interstellar civilization.
In that sense, it's as much a toy as a game (the creature creator being a good example of this), and one of the few games out there that I would encourage young kids to play. If you're on Windows or Mac you can download the trial and start making your own creatures. Even cooler, you can create videos (duh) and photos of your creations and share them with the Spore
community market base.
There's also tight integration to directly upload your videos to Youtube, though that's useless to me since I don't have a Youtube account. I'm split between pre-ordering what could be a very inspiring game, and refusing to give monopolistic companies more of my hard-earned cash. For now, though, you can enjoy my video of Stoly - and I
swear promise assure you that he wasn't named after a favorite brand of Vodka... ;)
Long before they got busy making their Guitar Heroes and their Rock Bands, Harmonix was already busy making innovative games based around music. I have fond memories of spending late nights - when I had work the next day - at my ex-girlfriend's house on her brother's Playstation 2 playing Frequency, almost 6 years ago, getting high and trying to beat each other's score on "Control Your Body" (which also introduced me to the New Wave band Freezepop).