Day and Night

Posted by Cha

Culture is full of binary concepts. Good and evil. Male and female. Mind and body (or was that body and soul?). These binaries condense the world so far they erase people and their messy realities. I have angry gut reactions against the ubiquity of trying to split things in half. Tale of Tales' Sunset, then, is a small miracle. My evidence that stories formed around the number two don't have to be cheap.

Duality is at the heart of everything.


The Hypercube Is Hollow

Posted by Cha

[This post contains spoilers for Fez, such as they are]

Fez reminds me of the puzzle books I used to enjoy as a kid. I genuinely delighted in unravelling the puzzle logic and secret places. This is pure, simple pleasure for me. Unfortunately, after collecting all 67 cubes (with some hints) I was left with a hollow victory. I loved playing Fez but sort of wish it didn't exist.

One major issue is just how deeply embedded Fez is in game history and culture. The blatant references to Zelda, Tetris and so on make it clear this is a game for gamers, in the most backward-looking sense of the term. Hey listen! It assumes its audience will appreciate a game reference on its own merits with no other reason for being there.


Still a Gamer

Posted by Cha

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).

Gaming communities are not well known for their inclusiveness, but how bad are they really? Which of the major sites are doing better or worse? Those are big questions to fully tackle, so I can only scratch the surface a little. You might call this a (very) rough pilot study about non-inclusive language in mainstream game blogs.

I looked through posts from this year at Joystiq and Kotaku. I was planning to analyse Destructoid too, but their search functions are inadequate for the purpose. From what I could see Destructoid are a pretty bad offender though. They sometimes excuse language in the name of satire (e.g., Gears of War is Gay). Satire can be used to reclaim language and highlight the ridiculousness of its use, but in these cases I don't think it's very clever or effective.


In Defence of Gamers

Posted by Cha

The hip thing to do at the moment is apparently to reject the use of the word 'gamer' and tell people not to identify themselves that way. Maybe I'm just not fashionable, but I have some reasons for standing up for the label (though not without limits).

The first issue is a lack of alternatives.

When I named this blog I accepted that including gamer in the title has its problems, but it is still meaningful. Game can mean all kinds of things, but gamer is probably going to be about video games -- or possibly pencil and paper roleplaying, which is also accurate in my case.

Now, I could have tried to come up with a clever name without needing to include games as a term at all. I could have incorporated something people might recognise from gaming culture, perhaps. "Giant enemy crab set us up the bomb" isn't very personal really. More seriously, I doubt I could have come up with something to fit.