Archive for the ‘Feature’ Category


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March 26
2014

Where do Video Games Stand? BioWare’s Manveer Heir on Misogyny, Racism, and Homophobia

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If there was an award for GDC MVP I would without hesitation hand the 2014 honor to BioWare Montreal Gameplay Designer, Manveer Heir. While this year’s Game Developer’s Conference had plenty to talk about, from indie darling Papers, Please dominating the IGF Awards to Sony’s big VR news, it was Heir’s panel that had everyone buzzing. Titled Misogyny, Racism and Homophobia: Where Do Video Games Stand? the hour-long talk featured Heir breaking down the big ol’ representation problem our beloved industry has. Ending with a passionate plea for all in attendance to be ‘soldiers’ in this battle for diversity, Heir was met with a well deserved standing ovation.

After the talk I had the pleasure to speak with Manveer Heir about his presentation and what he thinks we can do enact change in an industry that desperately needs it.

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March 24
2014

Pro-Tip: Progressive Advocacy in the Games Industry is DIY

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You read about something. You get mad about it. Then, you are doused with a heavy cold shower of, “why complain now? We’ve been doing this shit for years!”

Turn now to the blog of Melissa Bennett, M.Div. In a recent entry, she posts her correspondence with Gary Lin, CEO of glispa GmbH. Mr. Lin’s company is a “performance marketing platform” with clients such as: Nexon Europe, InnoGames, Kongregate, Gaijin Entertainment, Hasbro, Wargaming.net, Konami, Warner Home Video, Toys R Us, Kabam, DeNA, Sega, Riot Games, and more. The issue at first glance is a culturally insensitive display at GDC, which leads to a deeper discussion of appropriation throughout the culture of glispa itself.

Bennett identifies deeply with the diverse range of Native American cultures her family represents. So, a fire to write is rekindled in her when she spots a Facebook post from her friend, Elizabeth LaPensée. LaPensée is an industry professional whose “work addresses Indigenous determination in video games, animation, and web comics.” In the Facebook post, we see a picture of the glispa booth at GDC with a tipi. In front are two attractive women striking a pose in traditional Halloween buckskin attire. They’re all smiles, and why shouldn’t they be? The multicultural team of glispa represents 33 different countries and 23 different languages. Despite the fact that none of the corporate offices listed on the company’s website are actually in the United States, you’re welcome to call, email or send a “smoke signal” their way.

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March 20
2014

Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 2, Gay Couple Brings the Heart

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The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 2 isn’t only about surviving. A gay couple plays a vital role in the game’s second episode, and teaches young protagonist Clementine about the value of hope and forgiveness in a world that seems to be lacking in both.

Warning: Spoilers Ahead for Walking Dead Season 2: Episode 2 A House Divided

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March 11
2014

Super Smash Sisters? Sexism in the Super Smash Bros. Community

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The notion of video games as boy’s club is an old and, unfortunately, resonant one. At last year’s GDC, during the #1ReasontoBe panel, famed developer Brenda Romero said that she dreams of the day she can bring her daughter to to industry events and not be ashamed of the environment. Less than twenty-four hours later she publicly resigned from her position in the IGDA after it co-hosted an industry party that controversially featured exotic dancers as part of the night’s entertainment.

But the issue extends far beyond just questionable taste at parties. There are very real issues of harassment that plague gaming.

Anita Sarkeesian has famously faced very specific death and rape threats, the personal hacking of accounts, the spread of her private information, a game designed to act out violence against her, and ongoing online harassment for her Tropes vs. Women in Video Games video series.

In the world of competitive fighting games this kind of harassment and boy’s club mentality can prove especially pervasive, with terms like “rape” being a casual part of the vernacular. Stories of sexual harassment at tournaments and online can be found just about anywhere. One gamer, Aris Bakhtanians, notoriously said that sexual harassment and fighting game culture are “one and the same thing.”

What’s a gamer girl to do?

Competitive Super Smash Bros. player Lilo spent the last couple of weeks compiling data and quotes from other female Smash players, in the hopes of conveying the experiences of these women to the greater community. Here’s what she found.

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March 4
2014

Let’s Play Grand Theft Auto V With Coco Peru

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We’ve spent plenty of time with Grand Theft Auto V, from playing tennis with it, to critiquing its story “about masculinity”, to addressing its use of pervasive transphobic stereotypes. In spite of the game’s offensive content the controversial title was met with near unanimous praise for its revolutionary gameplay by critics, including Gamespot’s own Carolyn Petit who received backlash from fans for calling out the game’s misogynistic elements in her otherwise glowing review.

So what happens when a legendary drag queen like Coco Peru, a major voice in the LGBT community, plays the controversy-laden Grand Theft Auto V?

Magic. Pure magic.

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March 3
2014

Queer Mechanic #5: Queering the Male Gaze

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Queer Mechanic is a regular feature here on GayGamer – each month, we’ll be presenting a new game mechanic that could be used in games that include or focus on queer identity or culture. Queer Mechanic is a thought experiment, to see both what we could add to games, and to recognise what’s been missing from them; it’s a challenge, both to readers, to come up with novel, interesting and effective ways to use them, and to developers, to include them in games; and it’s a discussion for a more inclusive, more varied, and more innovative future for the games industry.

The concept of male gaze as we know it now was formulated by Laura Mulver in her 1975 essay, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”, and has since been diffused throughout the fields of media critique and analysis, in particular that of film.

Finally Feminism 101 has an excellent FAQ on the male gaze over here, which is well-worth reading so that most of what follows makes sense, but, in summary: the male gaze is the name given to the idea that scenes in media are often constructed from the perspective of an assumed straight-male viewer and his (often, but not always, sexual) interests.

We’ve probably all seen movies where a female character takes a shower, and the camera takes its time to hover over her body, lingering at her hips, her ass, her breasts, perhaps a close-up of her lips, half-opened, or her eyes, closed as though in pleasure.

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Boom. That’s male gaze. The camera “stands in” for the straight male audience, watching the woman in a way that would probably seem jarring and unusual were it to be done to a male character. Not because male characters aren’t nice to look at – but because we’re so used to seeing only women framed as sexual characters (or objects).

Male gaze is an interesting topic to discuss in the medium of games, because video games in particular have borrowed a number of techniques, concepts and vocabulary from film that make it ripe for exploration – the most obvious of these are Quantic Dream’s games Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophecy, Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls, but really, any game with characters moving around a scene and followed by a camera will inevitably borrow filmic techniques. And, as the concept of “male gaze” has similarly been applied to other non-film media, so to can we discuss the theory with regards to concepts unique to (or most prevalent in) games.

For this month’s Queer Mechanic, we’re going to take a look at ways of toying with, subverting, destabilising and queering the concept of the straight male gaze. So let’s jump right in!

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February 21
2014

Is Ellie Gay? Naughty Dog’s Neil Druckmann Weighs In on The Last of Us: Left Behind

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When Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us took the gaming world by storm last year some gamers were surprised to find that a major supporting character was gay. Bill, the gruff old man that players encounter during the main campaign, was a refreshingly understated queer character. We weren’t beat over the head with his sexuality, nor did conflict arise solely because of it. Rather Bill simply was gay, a fact that was never explicitly conveyed but rather discovered by players through subtle hints over the course of their travels with him.

We reached out to Naughty Dog about the character, and had a chance to speak with creative director Neil Druckmann. He talked about the creation of Bill, how his sexuality came about during production, and even touched on how the sexualities of most characters in the game went unexplored and were therefore open to interpretation.

This past week players got a chance to revisit the post-apocalyptic dystopia of The Last of Us thanks to the single player DLC The Last of Us: Left Behind. This DLC put us in full control of Ellie, who spent most of the first game as a computer controlled partner, as she recalls time spent with her best friend Riley.

Without spoiling *too* much, the events of Left Behind have led many gamers wondering if daring young Ellie just happens to be gay as well. There’s been a lot of debate surrounding the topic, so I decided to get to the bottom of it by reaching out to Druckmann once again.

Here’s what he had to say:

Spoilers Ahead

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