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Guilty Pleasure Games: Post Yours Now!

On this week’s podcast, NYMG will be talking about our favorite “guilty pleasure” games. What games do you play over and over that you know are bad, but you can’t help yourself? Respond and we will talk about your game on the podcast!

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Destiny: A Love Note

This shit is about to get real. I’m feeling the feels this morning. I couldn’t even muster up enough rage to write Why It’s Sexist Vol. 3: Where Are the Statistics On That? which will be coming next week. This week I want to talk about one thing and one thing only: Destiny.

Destiny is all I think about. I think about it right when I wake up. I play until I can’t keep my eyes open at night. I get little butterflies in my stomach when I log on and see Destiny is there. My heart skips a beat when I hear Peter Dinklage (the narrator/your ghost) whisper in my ear. You know what? I’m in love. I’m in love with Destiny.

Destiny has faults. It’s occasionally repetitive, though it doesn’t necessarily get old. Sometimes you want the familiarity of particular nooks and crannies, something safe to go back to over and over. I have faith that as we grow older, Destiny will continue to evolve. While it will still have those same, familiar maps, it will grow and change and get new ones as well.

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Is It Ever “Good Enough”?

Recently I had a conversation with someone who mentioned that game developers were afraid to incorporate more diversity – specifically, in this instance, female characters – in video games. He went on to explain that, in their eyes, the costs often outweigh the benefits for them. No matter what they do, someone would find fault with the representation they created. So that fear, he proposed, deters them from creating female characters and is an enormous burden in the design process. He even went on to say that someone he knew – a female designer, mind you – received criticism over the design of a female video game character. That fear, the fear of making a mistake and misrepresenting a group of people, the fear of not properly taking into account the unfamiliar experiences people of totally different backgrounds than your own might live through, even just the fear of embodying the role of someone completely not like yourself in the most basic ways, can be crippling. I should know, I’ve experienced my fair share of it. But giving into the fear and letting it prevent you from creating characters and situations that are inclusive of all gamers.

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Don’t Tell Me That My Game is Sexist…

This statement was more of a plea than an imperative and it came from an unexpected source. Let me back up a bit and say that I have been playing a bit of Destiny multiplayer this week and I’ve been playing with the same folks because they don’t mind that I suck. They let me play my support role of going in and throwing grenades and slamming the ground to weaken waves while they come in and finish everybody off (not everybody, but my kills are embarrassingly low). Playing with these folks has been a blast. We laugh, cuss, and sing for hours every night. (Yes, sing…make ‘Tacious sing the theme song from M*A*S*H for you) and none of us seem to care how bad I am or how bad this game actually is.

Allow me to digress here a bit and talk about how “bad” this game actually is. The narrative is simultaneously confusing and absent, the maps are repetitive (and I use the plural there loosely as I am sure that we are playing the same map over and over again), the enemies can be ridiculously hard for what the map is leveled at, the bounty rewards suck, and numerous other things that should make me want to delete this game from my hard drive and cures Bungie’s soul. But, it doesn’t playing this game with friends has been insane. I stay up way too late/early every morning and I have been dragging ass every day to prove it. Let me clear things up a bit, when I say that Destiny is a bad game I don’t mean broken, unplayable, bad, but rather just mediocre. Ironically, it’s a mediocre game that just about everyone on my friends list is playing…a lot.  Read more »

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Power Hour Review: D4

D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die is an episodic game exclusive to Xbox One. I played the Prologue, which was surprisingly short. I’m not sure it took me even an hour to get through. But, it does come with Episodes 1 and 2. In playing the Prologue, I didn’t feel like much happened beyond the set up of this story in the first episode, but nevertheless, minor spoilers follow.

In D4 you play as David Young a private investigator whose wife was murdered. David apparently has the ability to travel back in time when he finds certain objects, although I didn’t feel this aspect of the game was really explored at all during the Prologue. Instead, in this first installment, we learn to “play” the game, learn a little about the background, and meet a couple of characters that I assume will be key to the story later.

I found this game to be a bit bizarre. Not necessarily in a bad way, but bizarre nonetheless. I found myself thinking about Twin Peaks while playing, and I’ve since read that others have compared it to Deadly Premonition, which also has a strong Twin Peaks vibe. The gameplay in D4 is nothing like the gameplay in Deadly Premonition. The gameplay in D4 feels more like point and click, although I gather that’s not the way it’s supposed to feel. The game was designed for the Kinect, but also gives you the option of using the controller. I prefer to play with the controller, so that’s what I did, but playing with the controller did make the actions feel forced or a bit unnecessary. I don’t know if playing with the Kinect would solve that problem, but I didn’t feel using the Kinect would feel natural either. It seems like a point-and-click game, so waving my hands around felt silly.

But, the story seems at least initially interesting. And, some of the mundane actions are pretty detailed. The dinner scene almost grossed me out with their gluttonous eating. The characters’ accents are also pretty cool. The story is set in Boston, and you can hear that when they talk. One character, in particular, that I found especially bizarre was Amanda the “mysterious stranger” who is somewhat inexplicably living with David. (Minor spoilers here:) She arrives and immediately starts attacking David. (But, he lets her live there?) She is also wearing an outfit reminiscent of a Playboy Bunny, and she ate her dinner with her legs spread open. Hm. It’s bizarre.

Overall, I’m intrigued. I like quirky stuff. If you like point and click, or I guess want to mess around with the Kinect, then you might enjoy this game. I would probably wait for it to go on sale, as $19.99 seems a bit steep for what you get at the moment. From what I’ve read online, Episodes 1 and 2 are also about an hour each, so you are getting about 3 hours of game time for $19.99. I will say, I’m glad they didn’t just include the Prologue because the ending of that left me with a weird sense that it was supposed to be a cliffhanger but yet I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be anticipating. Weird, but intriguing game. I’ll keep playing.

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Why It’s Sexist Vol 2: It’s Only a Bunch of Nerd Kids Doing This Stuff

This is the second in a series about how and why reactions to events in the gaming community, such as the attacks on Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn are so problematic. It is based on conversations I’ve had with people who I really respect who have a hard time seeing why their “gut” reactions aren’t sexist. These “gut” reactions are built on years being surrounded by a culture that degrades and disenfranchises women and their experiences to the point where you can’t trust your gut reaction anymore because it’s been so heavily influenced by a sexist culture. To give people a taste of what it’s like to game online, I’ve added in some quotes of threats and insults that women have gotten online. And it’s only the tip of the iceberg.

“am sorry 4 asking this but would you send some pics of your bare feet and would you like to see a big cock”

Sometimes I ponder the reasons why many gamers I know, often male, who are otherwise awesome don’t see sexism as a problem in video games. I covered one of these reasons in “Why It’s Sexist Vol. 1: She Made It Up (For Attention). In that post, I talked about the knee-jerk reaction of many gamers to disbelieve women who report being sexually assaulted or threatened when they speak out in the community. The idea that women make up things for attention, ranging from everything from rape allegations to medical ailments, have pervaded the history of Western culture in literature, movies, music, and games. Oh yeah, and in reality. Women’s reports are often questioned and not trusted. At any rate, I explored that in my previous post.

“wow retard r u on ur rag or somethin”

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Episode 86: A Narrative By Any Other Name: On the Importance of Narrative in Games

A Narrative By Any Other Name: On the Importance of Narrative in Games (“Save As” to download or head over to iTunes to subscribe)

In this episode we talk about the importance of narrative in games and just what narrative is.

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We Can, But Why Would We? Video Games and the Myth of the Open Industry

So often, when anyone calls for greater diversity in video games, their requests are met with one very common answer: “You want something different? Make it yourself.” These days, we’re told, anyone can make a game. It’s so easy. The tech requirements have been reduced to almost nothing; with a little Googling and a little time, anyone can produce something playable. Sure, you’re not going to self-produce a blockbuster, but indies are legit, and hey, be the change you want to see, right?

It seems so reasonable, and typically, it’s good advice; I’m a big advocate for getting in and getting hands dirty in doing the work of creating a better, more representative world. But when it comes to making video games, despite all the conversation about access, tools, and ability – a point outside the scope of this piece – there’s a deeper issue at play. Yes, we can all go out and make our own games. But at what cost, and is it worth it?

In light of the recent #Gamergate events, I think many women, particularly, who might be considering game design may be thinking twice–and they’re not alone; if my Twitter feed is any indication, a lot of women have been reconsidering involvement in the industry at any and every level — and so might men who support wider strata of representation. If even Tim Schafer, in defending the opinions of the affected, gets told to go kill himself, what are the those others subjected to? Read more »

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Examining the Evolution of Diversity in Children’s Programming

Earlier today as I was watching my favorite nostalgic fan stream, I was hit with one of those nagging, persistent questions that weigh on your mind until you discover the answer. A show I didn’t recognize had come on; it was a live-action comedy show called Taina that had aired on Nickelodeon in the early 2000′s. In many ways it’s similar to most live-action comedies geared at kids and teenagers Nick put outs out (and, arguably, has always put out): a young adolescent has a dream of making it big in some creative field and gets in wacky and sometimes dramatic situations with her friends and family while trying to obtain that dream. However there was one large difference that made Taina stand out: Taina was a latina, Puerto Rican specifically, the cast was almost entirely made up of people of color, and her heritage was an important aspect in her life and family. It’s not ultimately my place to determine whether or not this counts as proper representation as I’m not latina, but it certainly was refreshing to see her race and heritage weren’t just glossed over and was, instead, celebrated. Although admittedly I don’t watch as much of current children’s programming now as I used to, as I watched Taina I couldn’t help but think that there was something missing in terms of diversity in more “modern” children’s programming. Had diversity actually decreased since the the 90′s and early 2000′s? I needed to investigate for myself and explore the reasons as to why this might be.

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Episode 86

Follow us live tonight for episode 86 at https://plus.google.com/u/0/events/c3lkf75lv4fpk3mtnr4vgrudkh8