A different kind of Bodice Ripper: a look at the Iron Bull

Note: This is the first in a series of articles exploring the diverse cast of BioWare’s Dragon Age: Inquisition. The following contains details from all points of the Iron Bull’s sub-plot in Dragon Age: Inquisition, including his ultimate romance sub-quest.

Iron Bull was claimed by dozens of eager Dragon Age: Inquisition players before he even got an official screenshot.

A piece of promotional concept art from Bioware was all it took for the towering mass of scars and slowly softening muscle to be the center of some voracious fan attention. The lead up to the latest fantasy role-playing game from one of the industry’s leading interactive romance studios was an opportunity to tease the fans with a new epic romantic conquest, and the campaign was by all measures a success. His towering size, his apparent expertise with two-handed weapons, his almost comically large horns, everything about this grey behemoth was big and brazen. The Iron Bull looked to be a size queen’s dream, a hulking brute of few words and fewer inhibitions.

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Bayonetta: The Great Exception?

We first got to know Bayonetta through her vagina.

“You want to touch me?” was the key question asked during the 2008 TGS trailer for Platinum Games and Hideki Kamiya’s rapid-fire action game. We had only seen glimpses of this tall, lithe, tight black suit-wearing amazon in the debut teaser for her self-titled adventure before then. She had only a few seconds of feline-esque combat acrobatics before bending backward and allowing the camera to sweep luxuriously through her legs for an extreme crotch close up.

The perpetually offended reactionary element of the game community launched into a predictable campaign of outrage that lasted about as long as the game’s media campaign. The game, its developers, and the character were decried as the latest example of a sexist caricature created to pander the juvenile fantasies of the lowest common denominator. When the game launched, however, and people got their hands on it, many of the voices quieted. There was something about this ass-kicking goddess with the librarian glasses that made her somehow immune to the same criticisms of your Mai Shiranuis and your Ivy Valentines.

The years since have only been kinder to Bayonetta’s special status among salacious video game heroines. The gay community in particular has adopted the character as a sort of icon. So what is it about this near hedonistic woman in gunboots that has made her largely exempt from vocal sexist critique, in spite of her exhibitionist love affair with any nearby cameras?

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Interview: Michelle Clough on Video Game Sexuality

At this year’s Game Developers Conference, long-time editor and localization specialist Michelle Clough gave a talk about male sexuality in video games. Having covered a few of the same points on gaming’s sexual double standard and the oddities of Cho Ainiki myself (albeit far less eloquently), I wanted to explore the topic with Michelle a bit more from her perspective. I recently reached out to her about bishonen men, fan service, and how games can better depict romance and sex outside of just the squishy bits.

Readers be warned, we are of off the normal waters explored in Gay Gamer in these parts. Here, there be fan-girls.

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E3 2014: Shadow of Mordor pits you against an evolving Orc war machine

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor is advertising a different kind of memory.

Not to be confused with the 1987 text-based adventure game Shadows of Mordor also set in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings universe, this action-adventure from Monolith Productions isn’t as concerned with processing capabilities as it is remembering your and your enemies actions. The game’s touted Nemesis system pits the Wraith-possessed ranger Talion against many hierarchical orc forces across Mordor. Actions and approaches taken in combating or avoiding these forces will have incremental effects on each relevant orc’s standing in the armies of Lord Sauron. Even your death, if by the hands of an Orc, will promote all those involved to higher positions within their respective ranks.

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E3 2014: Mortal Kombat X gets really, really close

The latest Mortal Kombat is all about getting nice and close with you.

My extremely brief (and very wide-eyed) hands-off demo with the game at E3 took place over two fights showcasing the new fighting style variants and characters. But one aspect not advertised during the show is the closer camera. The static position at the start of the fight has been moved inward and now more tightly focuses on the characters, with far less empty space above their heads. Most shots during fights are also angled more frequently, their slanted perspective giving the bouts a more immediate dynamic. But it did take some getting used to, just from an audience perspective.

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