I've refined my thoughts since the last time I committed to identifying as a gamer. The more time I spend on online gaming sites the more I encounter problems with what is seen as the gaming community. There really is an insularity that keeps creativity stifled, and allows misogyny and other exclusionary attitudes to thrive. It's not always like that, but it's a problematic and highly visible. It alters broader public perception, and the perception of developers on who they are creating games for. Both of these factors diminish games as a medium that can be enjoyed by many different types of people (tangent: and cats).
I completely avoided true multiplayer in Demon's Souls, but adored the online elements anyway. There was a fantastic feeling of shared struggle whenever I caught a glimpse of another player's ghostly form. As a solo adventurer the limited interaction actually emphasised the sense of loneliness. Our worlds were linked and we were pursuing the same goals, but there was a wide gap between us. We couldn't communicate directly, but I learnt lessons from their spilled blood and found safe places, shortcuts, and hidden treasure thanks to their scrawled messages.
No community is perfect, and I couldn't completely trust other players. There certainly were misleading messages tempting me to fall to my death. But on balance Demon's Souls players were more helpful than harmful.
Rayman: Origins has many unlockable characters, but they are all re-skins of three basic body types: Rayman himself, the large toad Globox, and the Teensies.
These are all male characters, at least to begin with. In case I was in danger of forgetting it the game soon sets about aggressively gendering its female characters.
First up we have the nymphs, representing the sexy-damsel-in-distress contingent. And when I say sexy I mean extreme sexualisation, especially by the standards of kids' games. They have heavily exaggerated features and revealing clothing. After rescuing the nymphs from cramped cages they pose to seductive music and grant new powers.
DeadEnd: Cerebral Vortex is a brilliant example of current trends in stupid game titles. We have "Dead" and "End" mushed together into some unlikely abomination, while "Vortex" is there to sound cool without having anything to do with the game. "Cerebral", well, that's because it's an indie game delving into a shattered subconscious. It's so symbolic and deep, you know?
Don't feel bad if you haven't heard of DeadEnd: Cerebral Vortex. It's just a first-person maze game using grid-based click-to-move. As in, you have to constantly inch yourself along clicking square-by-square and see how long it takes for your patience to run out.
I'm just going to say it, I love Lollipop Chainsaw. It's easily dismissed as ditzy and embarrassing but has more going on in its head than many give it credit for. I'm not suggesting anyone give a free pass to a game with an achievement for trying to look up the main character's skirt. There's plenty of fan-service and rape innuendo here, and I'm not telling you to like it. But I am suggesting there are other things worth talking about.
One of the things I find particularly interesting is Lollipop Chainsaw's use of gendered insults. Criticism of Batman: Arkham City drew a lot of attention to this issue, and Lollipop Chainsaw can easily be put in the same basket. The difference, I think, is that Arkham City didn't expect anyone to notice. A word like "bitch" is seen as a natural part of that setting. I doubt the designers (or most players) thought too hard about it, and that's what makes it so insidious.