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August 2
2013

Wootini’s Weekly Animal Crossing Diary

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Dear Diary,

With this week’s entry, I can resolve last week’s cliffhanger, deal with some restless residents, and finally prove that Geneva is practically perfect in every way!

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August 1
2013

Queer Mechanic #1: “Identify As…”

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Queer Mechanics is a new 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 Mechanics 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.

Character customisation is present in some form in the vast majority of games, but it’s only recently that we’ve seen an explosion of games where you can design the lead protagonist from top-to-toe, such as Mass Effect, The Secret World, Dragon’s Dogma, or Skyrim. Sometimes, we get the option to have the characters have romance options with a character of the same sex, but as of yet, we never get the option to explicitly state that our character is gay, or bisexual, or trans*, or any other terms of identity. We often have to read these identities into the characters, come up with personal “headcanon” where we decide, in our own heads, what our character is “really” like (even though there’s no way to represent that in game, and it often contradicts what actually happens in-game as well).

There are advantages and disadvantages to this approach – it means your character isn’t necessarily shackled to their sexuality because you ticked the “gay” or “lesbian” box. For example, Oscar Amell, one of my characters from Bioware’s Dragon Age, started a relationship with Leliana (a woman), and then, when the relationship came to an end, he and Zevran (a man) got together. That was only possible because of the “laissez-faire” approach to sexuality in the game, where I wasn’t choosing what Oscar was (e.g., homosexual), I chose what Oscar did (i.e., had sex with a person of the same sex as himself). Any character trait I read into that – that Oscar was homosexual, or bisexual, or pansexual, or situationally homosexual, or heteroflexible – would only ever exist in my own head. In the world of videogames, our characters are only ever WSW, MSM, WSM or MSW.

Many folk interpret that as a perfect world that we’re striving for in reality, where we’ve moved beyond the need for restrictive labels, where gay folk don’t need to define themselves as gay, where trans* people don’t talk about being trans*, where queer folk are Just People like the rest of us. But I don’t think bigotry suddenly disappears if we just stop labeling ourselves – I’m pretty sure a bigot will still understand the significance of two men kissing one another and that it is A Thing That They Hate.

Besides, identity is important – it literally informs who were are as people, and its importance, significance and ubiquitousness is immediately apparent if you start noticing every time you use the verb “to be”, or count the number of times you refer to yourself in speech. Identity influences everything from our daily lives all the way up to the peaks of human culture and society – and it’s a system that’s rife for exploring in games. And, with that in mind, let’s present the very first of GayGamer’s Queer Mechanics – the “Identify As…” Mechanic.

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August 1
2013

August’s Games With Gold

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I was all excited about Microsoft’s Games With Gold program, wherein Xbox LIVE Gold members are rewarded with free games, but then kept forgetting to see what they were. One time I checked and it was an Xbox LIVE Arcade game I wasn’t even interested in for free, and then I checked again and it was Assassin’s Creed II, which I already have on disc. Sigh.

So in the interest of informing those of you out there who are easily distracted and forget to check things like this, here’s what you can expect to get for free in August:

August 1 – August 15: Crackdown
August 16 – August 31: Dead Rising 2 and Dead Rising 2: Case Zero

Now this is more like it — two games I haven’t played before and would maybe be interested in. I mean, I’ll totally download Dead Rising 2 and its DLC because who doesn’t like killing zombies with creative weaponry? And say what you will about Frank, but Chuck is more my type.

And I don’t know much about Crackdown except that it’s yet another open-world sandbox action game, but I suppose for free I’ll try nearly anything! Although to be honest, all these open-world games just mean more games I will never ever have time to finish…

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July 31
2013

How Garrus Vakarian Got Me Back Into the Abyss of Fan Porn

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I’ve been crushing on Garrus Vakarian way before it was cool. I and most of the female audience for the first Mass Effect were desperately flicking that dialogue wheel in our conversations with him down on the engineering deck, ever hoping for that temporary window to select the first flirtatious dialog option. And while the good folks at Bioware eventually came to their senses and made this hunk into the man of adorably awkward romance we knew he could be by Mass Effects 2 and 3, fans had spent the years between the first and second figuring out what he looked like under that armor.

Unlike my undying love for the Archangel of Omega, my attraction to porn arose in the same age range as the vast majority of the first world; perhaps a bit later than kids these days because the internet hadn’t caught on to what a Wonka’s Factory of perversion it could be when I was ten.  But once dial up died it’s modem-screeching death, a merger of interests began festering on message boards. Middle aged otaku and aspiring artists – that swore they were just drawing tits on Crash Bandicoot for “practice” – realized they could scan  and anonymously share their personal visions of popular characters without their clothes on, and a vibrant launch pad for careers and tissue-use began leaking onto the internet’s sheets. Somewhere, a man cast in shadow looked at a white board with the words “deviantart” circled in red, his head nodding menacingly.

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July 31
2013

The Longest Journey Continues On The Wii U

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Last year, we learned that The Longest Journey creator Ragnar Tørnquist had founded a new studio called Red Thread Games, and was working on continuing the series with Dreamfall Chapters. Now, according to Edge Online, not only have they made $1.5 million through Kickstarter to fund the game, but it’s heading to the Wii U!

“Nintendo approached us last autumn, immediately after Dreamfall Chapters was announced – they were, in fact, the first console manufacturer to do so,” says  Tørnquist. “At that point, however, we weren’t ready to make any commitments regarding engine and platforms, so we decided to wait. We got back in touch with Nintendo in late May of this year, and they were very interested in working with us.”

Dreamfall Chapters is set to release in November, but seeing as how they’ve only just received their first Wii U dev kit, I suspect that the Wii U version will be arriving a little later than the Mac/PC/Linux versions. But it will be interesting to see how they use the GamePad, seeing as how it’s a point-and-click adventure game. Personally, I’m kind of psyched, seeing as how I don’t have a PC that can run this, and will happily purchase Dreamfall Chapters from the Nintendo eShop whenever they get around to releasing it. It’s also nice to see another game in the pipeline I can look forward to playing on the Wii U, and an indie game at that!

Indies On Wii U: Why Working With Nintnedo Is Easier Than You Think [Edge Online]

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July 31
2013

Batman: Arkham Origins Adds Multiplayer

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Batman: Arkham Origins is just about ready for release but today the developers have yet another big announcement about everybody’s favorite guy with daddy issues: He’s into groups.

More specifically they’re adding an exciting new 3v3v2 multiplayer mode to the game, confirming suspicions that have been floating around the internet all year. The new mode allows players to act as either villains or heroes in a battle for Gotham. Side with Bane or the Joker (and even play as them under special circumstances) or as the Dynamic Duo themselves. This is shooter meets stealth gameplay, with the villains trying to outshoot each other for dominance and Batman and Robin stalking their prey to impede their progress.

I got a chance to sit down with the new mode recently and I have to say, it’s a blast. I’m not very good at shooters so I was initially hesitant about this addition. But playing as the villains wasn’t as bad as I thought and getting to play as stealth-centric Robin was a joy. If more games had stealth options for online multiplayer like this I might be more inclined to explore the online gaming scene. Origins also allows for alternate skins and fully customizable gangsters to play online, though sadly does not seem to feature any female options.

Check out my full hands-on thoughts over at Gamezone by clicking here.

Batman: Arkham Origins drops this October for Windows, PS3, 360, and Wii U.

 

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July 31
2013

The 3DS Goes Dark

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Usually, Nintendo releases wild color combinations and designs after the fact to supplement the boring plain colors that a system launched with. But for some reason, Nintendo is preparing to release a black 3DS XL on August 11, alongside Mario & Luigi: Dream Team.

You’ll note that I said “alongside.” It’s not a bundle. That would be more likely to be a 3DS XL with some kind of fun Mario & Luigi design patterned all over it. No, this is just a sexy, streamlined black handheld which will join the other regular colors: blue, red and pink. So it’s not a special limited-edition or anything, just a new regular color. But if you don’t go in for all that colorful malarky and just want basic black, well now you can!