#GamerGate, Feminism and the culture war

It’s a really odd thought to think that there is a culture war going on right now. Video game culture is under scrutiny this time because of a hashtag: #GamerGate. In a nutshell, many people have accused Gamergate of being a hate group because people using this hashtag have been targeting female journalists and game industry employees to send abusive messages and death threats.

What started off as some vicious rumour spreading about the validity of a game review, the entire thing seems to have grown way out of hand. After reading some awful tweets targeting @FemFreq on twitter, it is clear that people are lashing out at women “getting involved” in a traditionally, male dominated industry.

I understand that games are about fantasy and suspending reality and that sometimes that there might be a historical context for sexism that is relevant to the content. However, I cannot agree with this glorification that seems to be all too common in entertainment products these days. It is not sending the right message to young people – of both genders.

Girls can make games too you know! This teen duo from the US show the boys how it’s done…

Two Teenage Girls Have Invented the Most Powerful Video Game of the Year

Two Teenage Girls Have Invented the Most Powerful Video Game of the Year

I’m involved with making games myself. I’m not afraid to say that I love games and that I’m also a feminist. What these people don’t seem to realise is that there is absolutely nothing that we can do about the past, we can only change the future. Games like Grand Theft Auto are notoriously sexist but it is clear that these games were targeted at a male target market WITHOUT consideration of the female audience and it still sold millions.

What the game industry needs to take away from this controversy is to put the same money, energy and time into games that are all inclusive rather than exclusive. At the very least, consider that, in reality, the mainstream target audience is no longer “predominantly male”.

I mean c’mon! It’s 2014! Video games don’t just belong to boys – we’ve been playing just as long as you have!

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Life lessons learned through Video Games: BioShock Infinite (Release date – 26th February)

So this is basically what I’m really excited about this year. I LOVED the 1st Bioshock game. It was the perfect combination of my personal favourite genres. The Art deco architecture, the jazz music, the horror, the possessed scary little girls and the big daddies.

This time it looks like less of a horror/thriller game and more a conventional first person shooter but again, the environment looks spectacular. I have a weakness for anything steam punk. If it’s got giant airships in it, I’m 99% sure I’ll like it. I’m wondering whether the game will actually work as nicely as the original Bioshock but I’m sure it’ll be fun wandering around anyway.

2K games have really done well with the Bioshock franchise so far. Let’s hope this latest offering stands up as a fantastic game in its own right rather than riding off the success of previous games.

Check out the gameplay trailer above! I’d love to hear your thoughts. It’s coming out on the 26th February! Only a few days to go!

Life Lessons Learned through Video Games – Borderlands 2 and very large guns

If you guys have been reading along then you will know that I am just not an FPS girl. I find the controls really difficult because I only started getting into games a few years ago. Most boys, I find, have less of a problem because they’ve been playing Video Games since DAY! Since I am clearly going to spoil the game, I watched the boys play.

We rented Borderlands 2 from Blockbusters because none of us could justify spending x amount of money on something we were only really going to play to try out the multiplayer aspect of it. Anyway, what drew me to the game initially was the INSANELY good IGN rating that it got. 9/10 apparently; so far so good. Also, the cover art was pretty insane. All I knew about the game was that it had: Big Fucking Guns. And you can dual wield. Awesome.

The basic story, if you are interested, is that it is based on a planet called Pandora. In the last Borderlands game, the player discovered a Vault that contained Eridium which is some kind of black market currency which is really valuable. In Borderlands 2, there have been rumours of an even larger vault and you came to Pandora to look for it. However, on the journey to Pandora, a guy called Handsome Jack (the baddy) tries to kill you because he’s secured all the Elysium reserved and is using it to take over the corporation (sorry, totally ripped that from Wikipedia). Basically, the main objective of the game is to find the larger vault and to whip Handsome Jack’s sorry ass.

Salvador – The badass Gunzerker with big fucking guns

There are 4 classes of character:
Axton (Commando)
Maya (Siren)
Salvador (Gunzerker)
Zer0 (Assassin)

I’m sure all have their plus points but SERIOUSLY, the best character by FAR is Salvador, The Gunzerker. I think he looks fucking epic. I kind of even like the voice acting for him as well. I usually find that FPS games don’t hire fantastic voice actors but for this character, it was perfect. Once you start levelling up and start adding different perks and upgrades and new weapons, he is completely unstoppable! You need to be careful with him sometimes because some enemies are SO powerful that they take your health down really fast even though you’re buffed to the max. There is just nothing you can do about that though. It’s all about being mobile and practically dodging bullets with this character but he is really fun. Haha.

Zer0 – The Assassin and Melee God

It is worth noting that the Assassin character is not half bad either! His name is Zero and he’s really good at ranged attacks and a Melee BEAST. All of his first power-ups are all about enhancing his melee ability and they give you GENEROUS upgrades. +50% Melee attack each time you upgrade! Which isn’t bad at all.

For those of you who like to snipe (I’m TERRIBLE), he’s the one to play with. I also just quite like the fact that you can’t see his face. I’m not sure if it gets revealed but I know that you can “buy” or “earn” extra heads?? That sounds weird but you’ll know what I mean if you play this game.

To be completely honest, we only played with the Siren and Commando for a little bit. They just weren’t as exciting as the other 2 characters so if you’re finding this post leaning a little too heavy on the Gunzerker/Assassin side, please feel free to educate me! I’d love to hear what you thought of the other characters =D

Game play was fine. The Menu system on the multiplayer mode was really awkward to navigate. Even on a 40″ screen so unless you have a ridiculously huge TV, expect to struggle a little going through all the menus. This becomes a little problematic when you need to quickly change weapons because the game doesn’t pause when you hit the menu button. Which is good and bad. Good because you can see enemies sneaking up on you, Bad because you aren’t concentrating on the enemies sneaking up on you when you are looking at said menu.

One REALLY nice feature of the game is that you get a second chance when you die. If an enemy takes all your health down you have a limited amount of time where you can attempt to kill an enemy. If you succeed, you get “second wind”, recover some of your health and you can go on a rampage again. Or you can just get your team mate to heal you to gain more experience.

Levelling up is fast but not too fast. What’s great about the multiplayer mode is that new players that join, end up levelling up SUPER quickly because the enemies are automatically set to the level of the most experienced player. In one sitting, you can gain 6-7 levels while the host player only gains one or 2. It’s all about levelling out the playing field as quickly as possible so that the game becomes a more enjoyable multi-player experience I guess.

I hope I haven’t left anything out! I’m aware this game has been out for a while. I’m sorry I can’t afford newer releases. But Christmas is around the corner…The guys have been bitching at me saying that I should really play the games that I have been chatting about even though I feel I have. But alas, I guess I should cave in and try my hand at some FPS games. You don’t know if you don’t try I guess! I’ll keep you posted on my progress…haha

Life Lessons through Video Games – Assassin’s Creed 3

I’m sorry that I haven’t been posting as regularly as I was a few weeks ago. Real life always seems to get in the way and it’s hard to get time for myself to sit down, relax and write. Basically, my Grandad passed away this weekend so it’s been pretty emotional for all my family. I was feeling a bit down yesterday and had spent the entire evening stuffing my face full of key-lime cheese cake and cooking to take my mind off everything.

As I was staring blankly at whatever crap was on E4, my boyfriend and flat mate (I can only suppose), sensed that I was a bit upset. I was really trying to not let anything affect me. I hate being pitied more than anything in the world. But that’s why they are so great because they don’t try and fob me off with cliché bullshit. Instead, they said: “Assassin’s Creed 3 is out tonight, let’s watch a review and see if it’s any good”.

I’m a sucker for reviews and Video Game production documentaries so I was like: “Hell fucking yes”. After a few minutes in, it became apparent to me that I had to own this game. ASAP. After bullying my boyfriend into coming with me to Blockbusters to purchase the title, we also picked up Child of Eden for £4.99. Blockbusters is fucking awesome, though it is looking a little sad and worn out. Shame really. I’ll be sad when they all close down. I’ve posted the IGN review just below so you guys can check it out too.

Assassin’s Creed III – IGN Video Review

Haytham Kenway, the father of our main character whom I have yet to see…

Anyway, we ran home with the two games clutched to my chest. Ask my boyfriend, I was practically bouncing up and down with excitement. It was lucky really that we live so close to the shop or I think I would have popped like a balloon. And don’t worry, I’m going to do a separate post for Child of Eden because that game is also, SO SO beautiful.

Ok, for those not familiar with the Assassin’s Creed Franchise, never fear. There is a 20 minute intro to the game where it explains everything from start to finish. You don’t necessarily need to know the stories of the last 2 games in order to play this one.

This isn’t meant to be an in depth review so I’ll just jump right into my initial impressions. Firstly, I would describe the world as completely breathtaking. The guys at Ubisoft have properly stepped up their game! At the moment, we have only just made it to the Frontier so we have only really seen Boston but my god! Its so much fun. The town actually looks like a town, if you know what I mean. The other Assassin’s Creeds were good and the environments and set dressing was fantastic but my flatmate pointed out, quite rightly, that everything was positioned rather too conveniently making it seem like a more manufactured ‘play pit’.

Secondly, the characters (so far) are freaking kick ass. My boyfriend is in love with the fighting system and the kills are so brutal. It makes you feel so awesome. Not only that but the opening scene at the London Opera House was cinematic, tense and the environment was so so stunning. I’ve just spent half an hour looking for a picture but there’s none on Google images yet. I’ll see if I can work out how to do a screen grab from Xbox but don’t hold your breath. Buy the goddamn game. lol.

Thirdly, PIRATES AND A BATTLE AT SEA! Instead of saving it for somewhere in the middle of the game, the designers decided to put it right at the beginning which hugely surprised and captivated us from the moment the scene started to play. Accompanied by an epic battle at sea, mutinous ship mates and general sea dog banter was just awesome. Thank you Assassin’s Creed.

Suffice to say, playing this game cheered me up greatly. Who said retail therapy doesn’t help? Now to play some more…tonight…hahaha…Watch this space!