Category Archives: Uncategorized

Final Fantasy VIII and Literary Criticism

RINOA

Note: All quotes from the game taken from Shotgunnova’s Script FAQ.

Warning: This post is going to devote a lot of time to analyzing a theory about Final Fantasy VIII, a game that is now 17 years old, in incredible detail. This is probably going to seem pointless and obsessive, because it is pointless and obsessive, but I’m going ahead with it anyway for two reasons:

  1. I love Final Fantasy VIII. Always have, always will.
  2. The way said theory is typically discussed in FF fandom is to me indicative of a larger issue within the gaming community, which is that– despite the leaps and bounds the medium has made in garnering critical attention– most gamers still have no use for anything that resembles literary criticism. I think that’s a bit of a shame.

Continue reading Final Fantasy VIII and Literary Criticism

On Disgaea and Giving Birth

One night, my water broke while I was watching my husband play Disgaea 5. At the time, he was playing a map that involved killing dozens of versions of the same character, Asagi, in order to level up his units. I don’t know what Ms. Asagi could have possibly done to deserve this, but apparently killing her indefinitely is the best way to level up your characters in Disgaea 5, until they have stats higher than the number of protons in the universe. I can’t be sure, because while I had my own save in D5 as well, I was not yet up to the Asagi-genocide portion.

We do this a lot lately.  I sit on the couch and sip tea while Wilson plays through games, and only if I really like them do I bother to do an entire playthrough myself. Maybe this makes me less of a gamer, but it’s a pretty relaxing way to spend the odd weeknight. Besides, this way I get to make snide comments about the game without being distracted by the chore of actually having to play it. Wilson is kind enough to pretend my contributions are witty; this may be why I am currently having his children. Continue reading On Disgaea and Giving Birth

Starting an Otaku Podcast, Take #4056

animepodcastimageI love podcasts. I love hosting them and I love listening to them. I even sometimes love editing them, as much as that can be like pulling teeth if you have cohosts that love their “ums” and awkward pauses.

And yet, I haven’t been part of a podcast for quite a while. TimeForceAnubis & co. were gracious enough to have me on as a guest on NTR Radio sometime in early 2015, but I haven’t hosted my own show since a while before that. To make a long story short, I want to do that; I want to have my own otaku-themed podcast, free from any outside site affiliation or what have you. I have hosting, I have the software…in short, WE HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY. It can be done. Continue reading Starting an Otaku Podcast, Take #4056

Too much of a good thing?

You know, I really haven’t been very creative lately. Part of the reason for that is that when I get a buzz to do something creative, I’m so overwhelmed with options that the result is a complete creative paralysis. I’m aware that this is pretty much the ultimate first world problem (“Oh no, I have simply TOO MANY CHOICES available for my spiritually nourishing creative pursuits!”), but it is something of an issue in my life at the moment, thus not beneath mention– in part because I’m pretty sure I’m far from the only one having this problem. Continue reading Too much of a good thing?

Nope, Still Censorship, Batgirl

Batgirlvariant

“Hmm, is this image perhaps inappropriate for the Batgirl comic?” Maybe ask these questions BEFORE soliciting your product, DC.

I wasn’t going to blog about the decision to pull a variant cover for Batgirl #41. I’m not a reader of the comic, and Twitter user @JennOfHardwire has already done a good job going over it from the perspective of a fan of the franchise. 

But then I started seeing comments about how the decision to pull a controversial variant cover after internet outrage wasn’t *really* censorship, because: The cover was off-brand. It’s a bad choice for a youth-targeted book like Batgirl. The artist himself agreed to pull it, etc. etc. etc.

This…really bothers me. I think all of the above can be true, yet refusing to publish a piece of art due to complaints is still censorship.

Continue reading Nope, Still Censorship, Batgirl

The Problematic Launch of Offworld.com

Regular readers of this blog may be scratching their heads at the title. “But Karen, don’t you hate the world problematic?” Well yes, I do. However, the launch of Offworld— a new gaming site that claims to be “an unequivocal home for women and minorities”— reminds me of Girlamatic.com, a now-defunct site that was meant to be for webcomics “(mostly!) by and (mostly!) for” women. For some reason, the title of an article critical of the site* from vaguely 2001-ish, titled “The Problematic Launch of Girlamatic.com,” has stuck in my mind, some fourteen years later. That was about the last time you could use problematic before it just got silly, I think. In any case, Offworld reminds me of my thoughts at that time, so it just felt like an apt title, out-of-character as it may be. Continue reading The Problematic Launch of Offworld.com

Games and the Value of Comfort Zones

Game designer Jonathan Blow is getting people riled up today with this quote:

“If every movie were a porn movie, most people wouldn’t see movies. The majority of games are basically porn—the onus is on us to make more things that are worth a reasonable person’s time.”

To give Blow’s view proper consideration, he’s not saying that “porn,” or games as they are now, shouldn’t exist– just that they shouldn’t make up such a large percentage of the gaming landscape. I can agree with that much, certainly. The idea that gaming as a medium could be offering a much wider variety of experiences than it does currently is hardly a new or radical idea; in fact, I remember the staff of Electronic Gaming Monthly writing sundry editorials about that all the way back in the ’90s.

Where I part ways with Blow is the supposition that games as they are now aren’t “worth a reasonable person’s time”– implying (or I guess, outright stating, really), that people who enjoy today’s games are unreasonable people. Putting aside the fact that that’s just begging for a George Bernard Shaw-inspired burn, as one of the so-called unreasonable people, I would like to make a case for the value of unreasonability. Continue reading Games and the Value of Comfort Zones

FREE! and Masculinity

 

FREE!guys

I didn’t keep up with the second season of FREE! while it was airing; I liked the first season well enough, but the second one felt a bit dull. However, in a recent burst of “Let’s watch all my unfinished anime series because that’s a great way to avoid doing real work!” sentiment, I picked up FREE!: Eternal Summer again and watched it to the end. It’s still largely a retread of the first season, but it does pick up and get more interesting during the latter half.

One thing I couldn’t help but notice was that the series, in general, presents the exact opposite of the so-called “toxic masculinity” that many media critics complain about. The show is full of guys being empathetic, talking to each other about their most deeply-held feelings, expressing high levels of affection for each other, and relying on each other for emotional support rather than trying to go it alone. Continue reading FREE! and Masculinity

Gender in Gaming 2: How To Data

 

Confession Time: This installment is late because I changed gears. Originally, I wanted to do an overview of the current academic research regarding gender in video games, but it didn’t work out. Many of the papers are stuck behind academic paywalls I don’t have access to (which I should have surmised, but was in denial about), and the few papers openly available on the internet…are kind of awful? I can’t say so with authority, since I’m not any kind of an expert on social science research, but it seems like there are gaping flaws in the methodology of these studies that even a newbie can see: suspiciously small sample sizes, strongly opinionated language in the abstract that makes it seem like the conclusions were chosen before the study was even started, etc.

That said, there could be great research about gender as portrayed in video games out there, somewhere; I’m just not currently in a position to find it. However, for someone currently involved in academic research who has access to all these scholarly databases, I think this presents an intriguing area for study; look at all the papers on this topic, and see which ones pass muster as proper research, and which are fluff designed to bolster specific preconceived ideas. Once again, I can only speculate, but I would bet money that a lot of these studies will turn out to be light and inconsequential as a feather.*

So instead of delving into academic research, which I’m clearly ill-equipped to do, I’m going to try something else: talk about how we can analyze video games as though we were doing it from scratch. Before any serious data collection about gender representation can be done, I think there are some very basic questions that need to be addressed, yet are rarely mentioned.

Continue reading Gender in Gaming 2: How To Data