Women versus tropes
After seeing your recent article [on Edge Online] regarding the presentation of women and girls in modern videogames, I felt compelled to voice my growing concern over this topic.
I was delighted that your writer managed to conduct a level-headed analysis of the current state of gender roles in the industry without acknowledging the infamous Tropes Vs Women In Video Games video series by Anita Sarkeesian. While I have nothing against Sarkeesian or her content, I feel that this is an overused example of the voice for the ‘other side’, however detestable that concept may be. What could be a deeply meaningful debate has degenerated into a primitive ‘us and them’ affair, with each ‘side’ exchanging words laden with prejudice, misinformation and belligerence.
I feel that many involved in the industry today fully support the intention, but take issue with its method. There is no doubt that there is simply not enough female influence in the game industry. However, the way to instigate change is not to accuse the audience of apathetically adopting an assumed standpoint that one takes to play the games that she cites. The presentation of women in many videogames is abominable, but it does not warrant the extent to which Sarkeesian’s work inflicts generalised judgement upon those who play them.
The process to make the game industry a more diverse, equal place must not become one of studios begrudgingly submitting to extreme feminist doctrines at the hark of the few – it must come as a request from players and gamers as a whole.
Unfortunately, there are still far too many examples of games and franchises where the sexualisation of women is the norm. Some argue that this is as a result of these games only holding appeal to male gamers, but this is simply untrue. As the medium evolves into something more mature, thematic and story-driven, so too must the views of its audience. I couldn’t be happier to see the beginnings of a unified movement to abolish antiquated female stereotypes. I wish to be able to share my love of games with my more conservative friends and family without having to justify the awkwardly immature sexualised content marketed at teenage males with a penchant for anatomically impossible cartoon breasts.
Playing The Last Of Us has had a truly incalculable effect on my outlook, and not just toward games, but life as a whole. The Last Of Us was a rewarding, insightful and terrifying experience. It wasn’t until I was carrying Ellie toward the lift in the hospital at the very end of the game that I realised how much I had become attached to her character. The very fact that this is an alien notion to me made me realise how much writing in games as a whole needs to change. I sincerely hope that others begin to learn from such masterpieces and follow suit – hopefully constructing more emotive and powerful plots and characters, and helping the industry clamber out of the crater of ignorance. Tom Colebrooke
“TLOU has had a truly incalculable effect on my outlook, and not just toward games, but life”
Characterisation and sexualisation are two different parts of the same problem, and while Sarkeesian might not be the debate’s most eloquent voice, she is at least one of the best known. We’ll need more like her if we’re ever going to see real change. In the meantime, an Atlas headset is on its way.
So I was browsing through the chaos that my PC calls My Documents when I stumbled across a New Folder. It’s unlike
me to not rename a folder, so my intrigue forced me to take a look inside. Inside were a bunch of MP3 files, again unnamed. I imported them to iTunes with a sense of excited fear; they could have either been a compilation of 1970s rock that my dad had me import before he learnt how to navigate iTunes, or a hidden treasure wrapped in ancient memories.
To my luck, it was the latter. A random mishmash of some favourite songs from some favourite childhood games. Needless to say, I turned the volume up, clicked Repeat, and hit play.
Despite being only 21 years old, I began to reminisce about the good old days and the countless hours I sunk into these games. And not because they had solid online multiplayer, hyper-realistic graphics running at 1080p60, or even because of some super-easy Achievements and Trophies, but because they were good oldfashioned fun. Oh, and with a kick-ass soundtrack. This made me think about the kind of gaming I do today, and how it’s become more difficult to have fun while doing so.
My main console is an Xbox One, a powerful machine offering a wide variety of games, a decent online network and plenty of media apps. Now I know there’ll be some PS4 users reading this thinking, ‘That’s a load of rubbish. Xbone sucks, PS4 rules.’ Fanboys take the fun out of gaming. You could be watching an Xbox Let’s Play on YouTube. Scroll down to the comments and all you see is fanboys getting angry at Xbox fans for playing a game that might not run at 1080p. Seeing the community so heavily divided because of little details like this makes me confused and a little bit angry. Back in my day, fanboys weren’t a thing. I had a PlayStation and my friend had a Sega console of some kind, but that didn’t matter. I would go to his house and play Sonic; he’d come to my house and play Gran
Turismo. The fact that our consoles came from different manufacturers was irrelevant.
I’m sure that all of you out there have at some point played online. The ability to connect and play with players and friends all over the world is amazing, allowing you to meet and interact with new, like-minded people. But everyone has been in a lobby at some point with a screaming kid who probably isn’t even old enough to buy the game he’s playing. I understand that it’s frustrating to lose your killstreak because of a spawn camper with a shotty, but seriously, is there any need for the eardrum-piercing screeches? This can often be enough for me to leave the game, turn off my Xbox and just go read a book.
My last point is regarding Xbox Achievements, though I’m sure the same could be said for the Trophy system on PlayStation. I’m a little bit OCD, so it pains me to see a game at 98 per cent completion. The last few Achievements are typically ‘Reach level 100 in multiplayer’ or similar. I’m now sinking hours and hours into a game, wishing I were pulling my own eyes out rather than doing this, just to hear the (incredibly satisfying) da-ding of an Achievement being unlocked.
As I said, I’m only 21, so reminiscing is probably something I shouldn’t yet be doing. Yet I find myself wishing I could go back to the care-free summer holidays spent trying to perform the pixellated Liu Kang fatality in Mortal Kombat. Wishing I could sit on the couch with a few mates without anyone having a temper tantrum when I knock them off the stage in Super
Smash Bros. Wishing I could play a game, and want to play a game, because it was – plain and simple – fun.
It’s the exclusives, stupid
I recently purchased a £200 machine for playing the game Dragon’s Crown, a PS Vita. The sting of the purchase was softened slightly by my decision to trade in my Xbox 360 – or, as I have come to think of it lately, ‘That filthy lodestone that
doesn’t have The Last Of Us, never got Demon’s Souls, and somehow suckled three rancid sequels to Gears Of War but couldn’t nurture even one for the objectively superior Vanquish.’
E3 2014 seemed to bring parity between the two main contenders in the console war. Both forces posted a modest list of exclusives. Xbox One’s Sunset Overdrive makes PlayStation 4’s Infamous: Second Son look dingy and turgid; meanwhile,
Bloodborne makes all other human art and endeavour look meaningless and shallow (yes, I’m a From Software fanboy.)
If last year’s E3 was a triumphant Sony blitzkrieg, aided by enough Microsoft incompetence to warrant the summary execution of many Redmond generals (or at least Don Mattrick), then this E3 marks the beginning of the real conflict – lethal sorties into no man’s land desperately hoping that the latest exclusive will be the one to turn the tide.
With its identikit AMD PCs posing as consoles, this new generation of hardware has highlighted more than ever what has always been the case: the only thing to choose between is the games. Surfing the PlayStation Store, I’m struck by the quality of classic RPGs available on the original PlayStation – and I pity the Nintendo crowd trapped with only Zelda for comfort (particularly in the UK market, where we never saw Tactics Ogre.)
This generation of the console war has no hardware differences and few developers who aren’t flying the multiplatform flag. It’s going to be very close.
Timothy Franklin And yet the focus of online debate has been what separates the two systems, rather than unites them. Once the exclusives start to flow, that may change, but does either PS4 or Xbox One have a single system-selling exclusive yet? And if games really are going to decide the winner, where will Nintendo end up in all of this?
Turtle Beach’s Atlas headset (RRP £119.99) is compatible with 360, Xbox One and PC setups