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.

Nos­tal­gia trip

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.

Alex Mar­shall

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

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