So I was on my friend Ana’s facebook and I came across this article.
Which is infuriating, I guess. I mean, first of all, gatekeeping is boring. Guessing at the motivation of instagram users is even more boring. The meme she uses to illustrate is also incredibly sexist. Authenticity, you’ll notice, is often a question for women. No one has ever asked my dates whether they were perhaps faking their interests in games and books to get in my pants, yet the concept of a girl being “fake” is the subject of a popular and instantly recognizable meme (and in order to understand the meme, one must understand the stereotype. If this were not a widespread idea, the meme would fall flat. Like, is this funny to someone other than 6 people?).
Anyway, my friend was also kind of infuriated by the idea of girls “faking it” and I thought that this was another opportune moment for me to talk about authenticity.
First and foremost, “faking it” is a charge that is usually leveled at a woman. From sex to interests, a woman “faking it” represents reprehensible behavior. Faking an orgasm is the source of so much male anxiety that dozens of articles have been written about how to “tell” if she’s faking orgasms…but very few about how to be a partner that women aren’t afraid to speak with about their sexual needs.
This isn’t the first article written about women faking interests for men, either. Months ago, as referenced on my blog, there was a big tadoo about Vince Mancini’s article called Hot Women Pandering To Nerds where he accused everyone from Rosario Dawson to Olivia Munn to Adrienne Curry of “faking” their geekery in order to attract men.
This speaks to a certain hysteria on the part of heterosexual men about whether their partners are what they think they are. And hey, it might be true that your girlfriend really hates Ninja Warrior, but she wanted to date you so bad she’d have told you she ate babies if she thought it would get her a coffee date. I have to say that I have had female friends come to me and ask me about video games in order to have a conversation with an adorable boy that they liked.
The problem, however, is not their authenticity. Rather, that’s not the root of the issue. The problem is sexism; isn’t it always? And by playing into the concept of authenticity the author is accepting sexism and then disseminating it–and she’s disseminating it from a culture that is already pretty girl-unfriendly.
The issue here is twofold.
1) Women are told that their greatest accomplishment is gaining the favor of a man
2) Men are told that their interests are somehow “better” than women’s interests.
So the Forbes article is not only playing into that, but is very clearly playing into the socialized competition between women. I, frankly, have no need to dig up dirt on the author to assert that she’s not a real geek, either. I don’t care if she’s “real.” Her reality doesn’t pay my bills (and I’d advise her in the interest of feminism and geekery to stop giving a shit whether girls posting pictures of their yarn collections on instagram are “real” or not).
So there are a lot of problems at work here, and I’m not really interested in whether some women and girls on instagram post too many picture of original nintendo cartidges. I’m more interested as why some women do fake their interests for male attention. Then we can get right to the crux of everyone’s problems.
First, the accusation that women do things for male attention is heterosexist. I hate to inform everyone that not all women are exactly interested in men or their attention and will, in fact, do things to gain the attention of the adorable butch dyke who works in the coffee shop.
I am going to recognize the inherant heterosexism and then side-step the analysis of seeking approval in gay relationships, because I feel like someone (anyone) is probably more qualified to speak on that than I am. I am talking about women’s relationships to men under the patriarchy umbrella and the societal messages that we give to women about male acceptance (which, sadly, even queer folks aren’t immune to).
Given that, I wanted to mention that this obsession with women’s authenticity is incredibly sexist. I can’t seem to recall anyone going “Vin Diesel? That guy’s not a real geek. He’s just trying to appear less threatening to attract women!” Only women are scrutinized in such a way and only women’s bodies and minds are open to that much public criticism. We could only be having this discussion about women.
As I said (let’s do this in an orderly fashion), women are told that their greatest accomplishment is gaining male favors and male attention. Any attention, even if it’s negative. How often do we hear of people defending or minimizing street harassment as “being paid a compliment,” like I should be thankful that someone, anyone, whistled at me and demanded that I take my tits out. Now, while I take a look around and use my head to notice that a lot of women’s culture is devoted to making them into what women’s culture says is attractive to men. Women are taught, everywhere, to seek this approval (Open any magazine and find a hundred articles about how to get sexy for him, about how exercise will give you a body that is attractive to members of the opposite sex, cover your hair, wear a short skirt, stick out your tits, tousle, wear lip gloss, let’s just keep listing all the things girls have to do to themselves) and I’m going to be (not nearly) the first one to say that when you get a hit of this attention you have been told for years that you need like fucking air…it feels good.
Well, it feels good until you smarten up and realize that frenetic desperation you’re feeling is the feeling of being constantly consumed, but what’s a little emotional death between friends?
When I was 14, I didn’t have anything like facebook or instagram, and thank god for that. I would have shot myself in the foot with it within seconds. Instead, I dressed semi-provacatively, and mistook any male attention for positive attention and thought I was successful at being a woman. I thought this because everwhere I turned from the age of 5 onward showed me that the “success” of a woman’s life was dependent on marriage. Or being a princess who was eligible to be married. Therefore, if I was attracting this attention, sooner or later one of them would bestow upon me my greatest accomplishment…having a boyfriend that all the other girls wanted!
Yeah, see how that worked out?
So I’m not saying that there are not girls who fake their interests to get male attention. We fake EVERYTHING to look attractive. I’m wearing mascara right now, these are not my eyelashes. This is not my hair color. I’m not even this height. I don’t know why we suddenly get very concerend about people faking interests. Why is that more of a worry than my eyelashes anyway?
Anyway, women get rewarded for this behavior but then repremanded for doing it too well. It’s the equivalent of training a dog to take a cookie and then slapping him when he takes it. So when you swear up and down the line that you’re the one with the real interests and these other girls are just attention-seeking whores…you’re the one doing the slapping. I have no idea how positiong yourself as the slapper, as it were, is solving the underlying problem that we socialize our girls to seek out male attention by any means necessary, including by “faking” a personality (we also are socialized to give up our sexual satisfaction and career aspirations in order to properly fill our role as a mirror that reflects men as twice their actual size).
So why the epidemic (apparently) of girls faking “geeky” interests for male attention? Possibly, and this might be a long shot, this happens because we privilege “male” interests over female interests.
Observe. What would most people call a girl who likes beer, football, and video games while still maintaining the appropriate level of feminine presentation? I usually hear that girl described at the very least as down or chill. At the most…marry her twice.
Now then, what would most people call a boy who likes shopping, spa-days, and cooking?
If you guessed “gay,” you win a prize (all expenses paid trip to a patriarchy-free island for at least an hour). Another acceptable answer would be “pussy whipped.”
So we have a culture that privileges male identity, and rewards women for seeking out male attention, and measures her success by what kind of boyfriend she’s likely to have, and then when they play the game that was laid out for them too well, we call them attention-whores and give page space in Forbes magazine to talk about how terrible the girls are.
Yeah, those girls are totally the root of the problem. Good, hard-hitting cultural journalism there.
Give me a break.
Preface: I am the world’s biggest Bioshock fangirl. I have no idea whether I will buy Infinite or not, given everything, but my hero worship ends right here.
Dear Ken Levine,
We’re breaking up. I’m sorry.
This begs some explanation.
As I’m sure you know, because you’ve responded to it, there is a lot of criticism going around about the main female character in Bioshock Infinite. Her name is Elizabeth, or as we like to call her around the way, Boobs Nelson.
As you know, Ken Levine, some weirdos on the internet don’t understand you the way I do. They seem to think that Elizabeth’s chest is absurd, they think she’s sexualized, and they think that she doesn’t really speak much in the trailer—she just stands around and has boobs, occasionally squeaking out lines.
I didn’t say anything at first because I didn’t particularly mind her. Yes, she does have an absurd chest and a waist so small that she resembles an insect more than a girl. There are mannequins like her in Macy’s. They put necklaces around the waist. I find them scary and deformed, and I’m not sold on having a waist smaller than my neck, but I was willing with Elizabeth. There’s a new Bioshock! I’ve had it reserved since I went to pick up my copy of Cataclysm (December 2010), if that gives you any indication of my borderline obsession with your games.
But Ken, your reaction, I’m sorry. You’re just not the sort of person I can continue to admire. I can be forgiving, Ken Levine. I don’t mind giant boobs. I mind female characters being so sexualized that the things they do border on absurd (I’m looking at you Lara Croft). Elizabeth might have giant boobs and a corset that might only cover her nipples and a waist the size of her neck for a good, storybased reason. I mean, Catherine, while having the distinction of being the single most misogynistic game I’ve ever played (and still I love that game), also has Catherine looking that way for a reason.
It was just those things you said, Ken Levine, they hurt. I can’t be with someone doesn’t have any self awareness at all. Coupled with the way that you showed that you have no awareness of other people…I’m sorry, Ken Levine. We’re breaking up.
“In terms of her body type, I think certainly people on the Internet have spent way more time thinking about Elizabeth’s chest than I have. It’s something I’ve barely thought about.”
Well, that’s true. While your default slider for a female character might be set all the way to ten, you’re right. You have absolutely no need to think about women’s bodies. After all, we can look at her and think about that for you. We have to all the time, because almost every image that we are shown is an idealized version of ourselves, but so twisted as to be physically impossible. I am happy, Ken Levine, that you don’t need to think about women’s bodies and the way they are represented. I would love that option.
“We sort of evolved her over time, and that’s the challenge when you show stuff early on – you’re still in the creative process and you’re still evolving the creative process. I’m sure Elizabeth may evolve a little bit more over time because until it’s out, I haven’t made the definitive statement on it… so I certainly don’t spend as much time thinking about this issue as the Internet does, and I’m not sure what that says about the Internet but, you know.”
I was so hopeful here. You didn’t totally dismiss her character model as set, and I understand that the game won’t be out until later this year. There’s still time!
I’m sorry, however, that you don’t like the people on the internet. We are clearly just a load of big perverts who have nothing else to do all day than to look at representations of women and complain about them. We’re not nearly as busy as you are, you forceful and dynamic man, and if we were that busy, we wouldn’t have the time to give a second thought to avatars that are meant to represent our gender and race. Surely if you had a little less to do, you would also be aware of the fact that there are other people in the world. I can tell you what it says about the internet, though. I’ll give it to you quickly, so you won’t have to devote any time to thinking about the class of people you are representing.
There are girls on the internet. And we are so over this shit.
“It’s disappointing when [Elizabeth's chest] becomes a focus for conversation because that was never my intent and it’s sort of a disincentive – I’d much rather talk about what she’s going through as a person, but whatever, they have the right to shout out whatever they want.”
Ken. May I call you Kenny? It doesn’t matter, I’d rather call you Kenny, so I’m just going to go ahead and do that.
I have no idea why her chest would be a focus point for conversation.
I would love to talk about what she’s going through as a person. If only any of that had been released. In the gameplay trailer, Elizabeth speaks directly to the narrator for the first thirty seconds, going so far as to take his hand and wrap it around her throat (the first image in this post is from that trailer). After that, it’s FPS footage of the player; a single time he calls for her help and she yells, “On it!” from off screen, but never appears. Ever. For the rest of the trailer.
So while I wait a year for you, Ken Levine (and trust me, I love your games so much, I’d wait forever), I don’t know what else I’m supposed to talk about, since her boobs are given more screen time than her voice.
“To me, the most important thing with Elizabeth was just honestly her eyes because, you know, they’re somewhat exaggerated and the reason for that is because there’s so much expression you can do there, with her eyes, and you see her often at a great distance.”
Your heart is in the right place, Kenny, but this just isn’t working out for me anymore. I do believe that she has some deep and intense back-story. I do! I have played your games over and over and over again.
I suggest, humbly, that if you wanted to focus on her eyes, that you simply swap places. Greatly exaggerate her eyes and somewhat exaggerate her boobs.
Though what do I know. I’ve only been a woman for my entire life and therefore I have no idea how people react to women’s bodies. The internet perverts who spend a lot of time complaining about her breasts are just wrong. We have been looking in the wrong place.
Ladies, her eyes are up there!
“I’ve spent way more time thinking about her eyes than her chest because eyes show a ton of expression, and you see her at a great distance. AI characters get very, very small, very, very quickly so you need to be able to recognize her silhouette, the shape of her body. Her colour scheme’s actually very simple, you know, the sort of two tone colour look – that’s all to do with this sort of exaggeration.”
Oh, I see! Elizabeth is usually far away, so you have to recognize her silhouette. The more she looks like an actual hourglass, the easier it would be for the player to pick her up.
I mean, he’s right. This is basic game design. Characters should be able to be identified in multiple ways by the player; silhouette, movement loop, color codes, tags, and voice.
And there is practically no way to make a female character identifiable at a distance other than to exaggerate her chest size and pull in her waist so tight that there is no room for organs…
Those are your Big Sisters from Bioshock 2.
Oh, and Brigid Tenenbaum. Another of your distinct female characters, easy to pick up behind the screen in Bioshock 2 because of her distinctive sloping walk.
While I’m here, actually, Ken Levine. Let’s talk about one of the other reasons I’m breaking up with you, while I have these ladies with distinctive silhouettes around.
When I first played Bioshock, Ken, I fell in love. I watched my friends play in the background at my apartment and I looked and looked and there was not a single woman who was ornamental. Which is not to say that none of them were pretty, because they were beautiful, but that they weren’t ornamental. There was nothing about their character models that was ornamental. When people asked me for recommendations for games for women, I suggested Bioshock. This is a big secret; to appeal to girl gamers, you did not need to have a pony or a sim where the player can try on new hair styles and heels. I did not need Rosie The Riveter Fights The Patriarchy (PS3).
I only needed women who had a function and who were distinctive. Even if they were not the player character, it was amazing and life changing to look at a video game and see me. My definition of “me” in video games is fairly large—Me: noun. Any woman in a game who does not tantalize the assumed male player character, who has some function of import, and a realistic-ish body. If they tantalize, I can get over it if they also do the other two. I’m not non-sexual, after all. It’s just that I do other things, too.
I know you’ve been taken to task by feminism, Ken Levine, but I found your games to be woman positive in at least a few ways. I didn’t want to throw your baby out with the bathwater, though your Plasmid videos and underwater objectivism reeked of privilige. Yes, Brigid Tenenbaum is a horrible mother, as it were…but it wasn’t because she was a woman. Big Sisters will make you wish you had harvested every last one of those little brats in the first game…but they had lithe, feminine bodies, without being over-exaggerated fanboy service. Little Sisters do need to be protected by Big Daddies…but they are children, and Big Sisters can quite easily take out a Big Daddy.
I mean, just look at the female characters you have given me over the years, Ken Levine.
A Little Sister
Sofia Lamb, antagonist of Bioshock 2.
Various Female Splicers (Bad Guys, for the uninitiated)
In thinking back, the only scantily dressed female I can recall is Jasmine Jolene, and only in her poster. She made her living as a dancer, so I don’t find that to be totally unnecessary, and she also serves a huge plot point.
Of course, none of these are a distinctive, driving force, female character with a distinctive silhouette, who plays next to the PC for all or part of the game…
Oh that’s right. Eleanor Lamb. A character with big, expressive eyes, who has been through an ordeal, and plays next to the character for part of the game. As I recall, she also needed to be distinct from the other big sisters, so I bet that was achieved via exaggerating her secondary sex characteristics.
Ken, Ken Levine, this is why I have to break up with you. This is why I can no longer shrug helplessly while you say some weird Objectivist shit all over the internet.
Now you are lying to us. You are well and thoroughly capable of producing a game with female bodies that don’t exist to be eye candy. You have been producing them for your entire career.
I don’t care that you made Elizabeth. I don’t even particularly dislike Elizabeth or her body, once I get past the fact that this change in your style makes me sad. I care that you are now lying about your motivations in order to avoid being called to the carpet for making a sexist choice. I would have at least gone to couples counseling if you had come out and said, “I’m tired of the gangly women and I wanted to make something else. I wanted to create a girl completely and totally physically unlike any of the women I have created before, and darn it, I did.”
Instead, Ken Levine…I used to think you were a genius and now you are giving interviews that leave me embarrassed for you. You, you see, very obviously think that this is just an overreaction. We don’t understand you. You didn’t mean it like that, and anyway, don’t you ladies have something else to talk about? I’m not even going to entertain this!
Furthermore, you have attempted to demonstrate that you think that I’m stupid, that the women who noticed this ridiculousness are stupid, because only someone who was utterly and painfully stupid would think that you have made a career out of creating women with distinctive, yet realistic, bodies, and just didn’t give a damn about this last one. Didn’t even give her chest a second thought. I don’t know why anyone is even discussing this, because it’s clearly totally in line with my previous offerings.
So I’m sorry, Ken. My love affair with you is over. I will wait for you to come around, and I hope you do…but I don’t think you will. I think that if you will conveniently forget your entire body of work in order to avoid a question that makes you uncomfortable (a question about making your fans uncomfortable, no less), you will forget me just as easily. I will be fine, though. I still have my copies of Bioshock and Thief to keep me warm at night. I will make my SHODAN cross stitch. Don’t worry about me. I will survive.
But if it helps, it’s not me. It’s you.
Now, forgive me. I’m not going to link these because I’m not giving anyone hits or advertising money. There’s quite enough profit going around already.
So I was talking this morning to The Good Doctor and he brought to my attention something that makes my feminism and my geekery hurt.
As a girl geek, I want to tell you right now, I love my people, I fly my nerd flag. I also don’t want to sit here and say that nerdom, and gamer culture in particular, is a woman friendly feminist space, because it isn’t. Girl gamers deal with a lot of nonsense, from open hostility that we’re in A Man’s Space to having to look at ourselves being cast as the cute little healer.
And then we get to deal with the rape culture, which is, of course a source of jokes.
I spoke before about how being raped is not, in fact, akin to losing at PvP or beating a boss.
It’s also, by the way, not cheap comedy or a way to line your pockets.
Now then, the fine gentlemen at Penny Arcade (who I actually link and I will be fixing that as soon as I’m done with this post) posted a comic a little bit ago making a joke that the npcs you don’t save while questing (because you only need five or so) spend their nights being raped by Dickwolves. When called on the fact that rape is not, in fact, a punchline, they proceeded to post another comic making fun of that reaction (the smarm on that one went to eleven). These two comics were then very quickly deconstructed by the internet, blown up, dismissed, another day on the internet.
They then put shirts in their online store for the Dickwolves, which are designed to look like the logo shirts of a sports team.
I don’t even know that I can continue writing this post, as I’m sitting here gesturing at the screen and yelling “FUCKING REALLY?” Though since that just happened , clearly there are some parts of the world who don’t understand Humanity 101.
First of all, rape isn’t funny. It’s not a punchline. If a survivor chooses to deal with his/her situation using humor, that’s one thing. For a webcomic to, with no explanation, use the idea of rape as something comical that happens to NPCs when the game is off is severely fucked up. Second of all, when called on your shit by people who are upset for good reason, the proper response is not to act like they took your cookie and you are going to make fun of them. In fact, it’s even more unfortunate that’s coming from two icons of a community that flies acceptance as a flag and rallies under the cry about how the world isn’t High School. Right now, two icons of the gamer community look like high school bullies. Oh, did we hurt your feelings? We don’t really care.
I mean, honestly. They have wives. They exist in the world with women. Who looks at his wife and thinks, “Honey, you know what would be really hilarious?” And furthermore, the character who is confessing to being raped is male, so we also have a wonderful dose of the idea that somehow, a man being raped is ludicrous. Also, rape isn’t some mythical thing that doesn’t exist. Every three minutes, gentleman.
Lastly, this shirt is so foul on so many levels that I’m having trouble comprehending them all. First of all, making a profit from the rape culture is reprehensible. Please stop, reboot your humanity chip, and donate all proceeds to RAINN. Yesterday.
Rapists as a team you can cheer for is so hurtful on so many levels that I’m left praying that the Penny Arcade boys are simply stupid instead of malicious.
Also, if you wear that shirt and someone punches you in the face, well, I’m not violent but I see where they are coming from, don’t you?
This, by the way, is one of the reasons why a lot of geek girls live in holes where they don’t show up to cons or speak on vent or X-box live. Because you are making your culture just as hostile to us as just about any other culture out there. Why would I go somewhere and actively announce myself as an entity that you are say you are welcoming of but are, in fact, openly hostile to.
It sucks, but some of us persist. Some of us even persist in making a safe gaming space for women where they don’t have to tolerate sexual harassment or gendered slurs. I made a co-ed one. What’s up, Sheep Nova \m/ And let me give an extended shout out to Daughters of the Horde, who have made a female only gaming space on WoW/Bronzebeard US. I’m sure there are others, but these are two I can vouch for. And if you’re running a space where women and queers and minorities are ACTUALLY welcome, please keep it up. We need it, since, you know, two icons of our community persist in slapping us in the face.
I can end with my usual sign off—
WILL YOU PLEASE STOP IT.
So, as it’s no surprise to anyone at all, I play WoW. I have been a gamer since I was five and I will continue to play games until I drop dead.
Which might happen faster than I expected, given what Blizzard wants to do with their new RealID system.
Let me back this up. About two weeks ago, RealID was a system of convenience. People who actually knew you could plug you into RealID and you could talk across server, factions and characters. In game chat client. Truly outstanding idea for people who have close friends or family who play on another server and don’t want to reroll or transfer just to chat with Uncle Dick, Troll Shaman.
I refused to use RealID, mainly because when I want to be left alone, I want to be left alone. The last thing I need is people bugging me when I’m using another server as the world’s most expensive AIM window to speak to a single person.
What Blizzard proposed today, and you can find all this via googling it, it came right out of the mouth of a dev, was that any and all forum posts will be made under you REAL name, first and last. You can also tie them to a character. You don’t HAVE to tie them to a character, but more on that later.
They have said that this is to promote personal accountability and limit trolling.
Have they lost their ever-loving minds?
Okay, on one side, the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory is true in millions of ways and I imagine people would be less likely to threaten rape and bodily harm, sling racial slurs and hiss and scream when that level on anonymity is removed. I see the point, but someone didn’t think this through for…well, anyone.
First of all, as a woman, a vocal woman who does happen to live in a Rape Culture I am so uncomfortable with the idea of my real name being tied to my online gaming habits, it makes me practically break out into hives. I will no longer use the forums if this goes live. It is not because I want to, you know, go slur someone for being queer. It’s because when assault is a norm (and exacting vengeance over something that doesn’t actually matter isn’t uncommon) I will do everything humanly possible to protect myself.
If a man was stabbed over counterstrike, who is to say a woman will not be raped because someone didn’t like how she ran her raid? If you are lucky enough to be named John Doe, I congratulate you. However, most minorities are not, and we are shockingly easy to find over google. If a black man takes a piece of loot from a person who happens to have very scary racist tendencies, how fast until his facebook comes up on a google search, with a name gotten from a post looking for pugs for old world raids? How fast until that escalated to a hate crime? How long do we wait until a single person who doesn’t like queers finds a gay man’s name on the forums and we’ve got yet. another. murder on our hands? How long until someone who is transitioning but has yet to change their legal name is found by an employer and fired or worse? Military personnel with sensitive jobs? Just lost one of the things that keeps them sane (my guild alone has…five people in the service. My dinky guild).
I am not saying there is a trove of people waiting around to rape every woman who does more DPS than they do. In fact, I have the opposite problem. I believe that as a whole, people are generally good. I have hope for humanity, I believe they will protect others if they can. I have to believe this or I will go mad.
But a SINGLE incident is too fucking many. I’ve had it. Had it! With people deciding that, you know, putting queers, or minorities, or women at risk is just fine if it limits internet trolling. Do you really think exposing a group of people who are already targeted by a craptastic society rife with institutional and open hate is worth, like, Bob not being able to call your new talent trees pieces of shit? Because that is precisely what Blizzard is saying. And they have my money and I am NOT happy. One person hurt is not worth it and I have no idea why on earth Blizzard didn’t think of that first, but I’m ridiculously mad about this right now.
Here’s a clue. We’re not disposable people. Stop it.
Solanum (since you already know my first and last name)
As a side note, because people will find this information and have questions. You do NOT have to tie your name to a character. You also do NOT have to use the forums.
Which is sort of like having an apartment but never using the bathroom or the dining room. The forums are used for a lot of things. I personally use them to manage my guild, which means I’d have to give a character name or no one would ever be able to contact me (Hi, I’m looking for a healer for my progression group. I’d have you message me in game, but I don’t want to get stalked, so you’re just going to have to guess who this is). This also goes for those who use the forums to Role Play, which is not how I pass the time, but many do. The forums are also used for all bug reports and some technical issues. I also used to be very active on a forum used primarily to help people, so that’s out the window. Sorry, guys!
And this is here because one of the women in a female gamers community said it and I loved it. Posted with permission.
Aislinanais: it a bad thing that I want to be more internet famous so my opinion means more than other people’s
So I just finished Final Fantasy XIII.
Which is funny, because I couldn’t even finish XII and I was totally convinced that Square had lost the plot.
They have still kind of lost the plot, but I think one person pulled his/her head out of his/her ass. Just the one, though.
So, as per usual, graphics are stunning. Music is outstanding (but not better than X). Character design is…okay. It’s getting a bit recycled. I was happy to see strong female characters in lead roles. I was less happy to see a black male with an…animal in his afro (put that one in the “fucking really?” files).
The gameplay is a more active version of the gambit system from XII which I think is a step in the right direction. It’s still not quite an RPG but here’s hoping.
The story is pretty good, but! The cutscenes are awful. Horrible. Every time I saw a cut scene come up I just started rolling my eyes. Once or twice they advance the story. The rest of the time your Group ff Heroes makes a motivational speech and continues on. Seriously, by hour ten I wanted to slap the writer.
Other things of interest, there’s a very lightly lesbian couple in the mix. I liked it. Duh. No one makes out, but it’s a very butch/femme dynamic and I liked seeing it never addressed, just treated as a natural affection for one another. Some of the message boards are AGHAST at the idea that Fang and Vanille are gay, but whatever. I have eyes. I know romance when I see it.
Vanille’s Eidolon’s final summoning is…interesting. Like “Hang on, I’m just gonna be on my sex tank” interesting.
The game does curb a habit that most RPG players have, which is to spend the first five hours leveling yourself into oblivion and facerolling the rest of the game. Your talent trees are locked until you hit specific story points. There is no way to overlevel for the final boss the first time you do it.
There’s also no way, short of a 200 hour time sink, to have the ultimate weapons for the last boss, either. You get them in your sorta New Game +. I actually like that because I was forced to play the game and work with the battle system, rather than setting up “Damage, damage, healer” and going to sleep.
In most of the games, there is that one Big Issue that has everyone screaming about the twist. The issue of Aeris. Yuna’s actual directive as a summoner. XIII had a moment like that where I almost fell off the couch going “OH MY GOD” but they wussed out on it. There’s no big reveal, there are very few plot twists. What you get in the first five hours are basically what you have for the whole game.
In short, I give it a B. Ish.
Sigh. Come back to me, square!
This is something I feel abnormally strong about and it’s also something I see at least once a day or more. People using the term “rape” in conjunction with whatever just happened in their game.
I hate, with a passion, the use of the term “rape” when applied to video games. I see it all the time. We raped that team. We raped that boss. That quest just raped me.
No, you didn’t. No, it didn’t.
I realize the defense of the term is the same as the defense of using the term “gay” to mean something stupid or worthless. It’s just a word. It’s just how people talk. It doesn’t mean anything. There have been pages upon pages written, add campaigns launched, viral videos released about the term “gay” and I’m there, but I want to talk about this word for a second.
The problem is that the word rape does mean something and it means something very personal to a lot of people.
When you say you’re going to “rape” that boss, what exactly do you mean?
Are you going to leave it unable to sleep when it is dark, forcing it to either totally rearrange it’s sleep schedule or burn every light in the house just so it doesn’t start hallucinating from exhaustion? Are you going to leave it crying in the shower, washing it’s body over and over again and talking itself down from a ledge? Are you going to leave it unable to have any relationship with another human being for years? Unable to have an untainted, unafriad sexual relationship for the rest of it’s life? How many times a month will it wake up screaming after you have gone? How long will it take that boss to regain it’s sense of bodily automony, or it’s ability to feel present in it’s own skin? Is that boss going to so afraid to leave the house that it will fail out of college? Will it be unable to care for it’s own children properly? Will it scream every time someone comes up behind it? Will it blame itself for the horrible things inflicted on it? Will it spend years in therapy afterwards trying to connect the dots again? Is it going to continually wonder if it can go on social outings armed? Will it be subject to a battery of humiliating and dehumanizing tests and questions when you are done? Sometimes, and for no reason, will it suddenly lash out, punch, hit, kick, scream? Is it going to randomly and viciously flash back to the date of your encounter, sometimes in public? Is it going to have violent fantasies of cutting the tainted parts of itself off it’s body? Will it competely lose regard for it’s own safety, well being and health and regularly seek out other violent relatioships or will it just decide that it’s done with humanity as a whole and become it’s very own jailer? Exactly how many years of therapy will this boss need when you are done? Will you be leaving some of their vital organs so badly ravaged that they will never again work properly?
I didn’t fucking think so.
We all know what rape is. Rape is a forcible and violent act and it’s committed by people who I believe are missing a pretty decent part of their humanity. Rape is a decision. It’s deciding that you don’t care if she says no/is possibly not even awake/is so terrified of you she can’t say anything. It’s saying, in no uncertain terms, I don’t care about you or your humanity.
In terms of saying “I’m going to rape that boss,” I have one thing to say. What the fuck is the matter with you? You want to align yourself with a rapist? You think that’s an admirable quality? To take something vital and special from another human being and not give a flying shit about the aftermath? Really? You might be tossing the term around casually, but it’s not just a word. It’s possibly my biggest fault in life that I believe that people are generally good and I am aghast at hearing people set the rapist up as some paragon of power and virility. Give me a break. Because that is what you’re actually saying. And what you’re not saying that people are hearing is, “I’m a giant asshole.”
The next time you find yourself wanting to mention that you’re about a rape a PvP team, I want you to stop and I want you think about survivors of sexual assault as whole and telling them, “Hey, what happened to you is just a little word and besides, I’ve almost got enough points for some things made out of pixels.”
Stop trivializing people’s very real and very acute pain. “Rape” is not just a word. In the time it took me to sit down and write this, ten women have been raped somewhere in the world. Ten people have had someone damn well try to end their lives without actually killing them. Ten woman who’s pain you are piggybacking for a cheap laugh.
I would like to believe in humanity and goodness against all evidence to the contrary. Stop making it so hard.