hradzka: (plane)
On Twitter, and Tumblr, Gail Simone has called for attention to be paid to the Arkh Project. This turns out to be a Twitter account ( http://www.twitter.com/@thearkhproject ) and a Tumblr ( http://thearkhproject.tumblr.com ) and (of course) an IndieGoGo fundraising page that looks a lot like but is not a Kickstarter ( http://www.indiegogo.com/The-Arkh-Project ) for a proposed fantasy video game. As for why Gail Simone was calling attention to it, the reason is in their FAQ:

This game is not the game to watch if you would like to see a lot of cis straight white characters. This game isn’t the one to play if you want to see one or two queer people or one or two brown people to spice up the variety.

Those games exist already. For the latter, many companies are coming out with the resident token brown person, the resident token queer.

The point of this game is to show that we’re tired of being tokens. We want to be the main characters, the supporting characters, the focus. This story is about the marginalized, the fetishized, and the tokenized.


This got my attention. Because I know a lot of people who REALLY VERY MUCH WOULD WANT something like this, or at least would be very happy to know it was out there. I'd be very curious to see what the reception and sales of such a game would be like, and how such a game would affect the marketplace, but being a straight white guy who doesn't play much in the way of video games, I am not the target audience. Still, I know that hunger is there. So my first thought was of all the people I knew who would be happy about this.

My second thought was of DUDEBRO II.

I've posted about DUDEBRO II before. In December 2009, on the NeoGAF forums, one member confessed to having rented Imagine: Babyz Fashion, and finding it a really enjoyable gaming experience. Gaming forums being what they are, his masculinity and sexuality were immediately impugned, to which he replied, "So, I'm a pedophile because I don't want to play Dudebro, My Shit is Fucked Up So I Got to Shoot/Slice You II: It's Straight-Up Dawg Time?" Immediately, of course, everybody on the forum realized that what they wanted more than anything in life was *to actually play just such a game.*

And so it began: they photoshopped box art, wrote cut scenes, designed characters, started programming, and began to make it as a freeware top-down shooter.

I checked on the Dudebro folks intermittently for a while. They had a lot of talented people working on that project. Really talented. Great character design, appallingly sophomoric macho humor, and horrible, horrible puns, straightforward action concept.

And it's been vaporware since 2009.

So I thought, "Wait a minute. Can the Arkh Project people actually do this?"

And then I started Googling, and things began to get squirrelly.

Read more... )
hradzka: (unfair to batgirl)
Hey, you guys remember the videogame PORTAL, right?

I remember it surprising and pleasing everyone who played it, because it was an unexpectedly awesome game. But I also remember surprised and pleased reactions from feminist commentators who don't ordinarily pay attention to videogames, because the protagonist, Chell, was a woman of color who wasn't jaw-droppingly gorgeous or dressed in a sexy costume; she wore a baggy orange jumpsuit and had a face and build that were good-looking, not overly athletic, and… normal. (Curiously, given that Chell is a silent protagonist, her face was based on a voice artist, actress Alésia Glidewell, who is of Brazilian and Japanese descent.)

Game Informer is running a series of interviews with Valve's folks this month around the recently-announced PORTAL 2, which hits for Christmas, and the one with Valve concept artist Matt Charlesworth had some curious news I thought you guys might want to be hipped to. Apparently, when they were beginning the game creation, they weren't sure if they were going to bring Chell back, or use a new character, or what, and even when they settled on Chell they considered some pretty radical redesigns. It's unclear (and the image in the article of the final Chell model for PORTAL 2 is too small to tell for sure) if they actually went through with this or just thought about it, but Charlesworth says they thought about changing Chell's ethnicity.

*braces for explosion*

Look, folks, I don't know if there's actually anything happening that'll piss people off or if Charlesworth just put his foot in it. For all I know, he just said something dumb and they wound up not messing with Chell's ethnicity at all (her face shape looks different from the first game in the picture they provide, but as I said, the image doesn't show her face that well). But I do know that if PORTAL 2 comes out and Chell's ethnicity has changed, a lot of people will be feeling extremely hurt and pissed off, and it's always worth giving companies a heads-up so they have a chance to avoid hurting and pissing off people. For that matter, I'm sure Valve would rather avoid hurting and pissing off people who, er, might *give them money.* So it might be worth dropping 'em a polite line asking for clarification, and maybe ask if they can release a few good headshots of Chell in PORTAL 2 so folks can see if she still looks like Alésia Glidewell.
hradzka: Cassidy, from Garth Ennis's PREACHER. (Default)
In D&D news, my assassin character, Olen, continues to please me. Some background: he's the revenant (like a Time Lord's regeneration, by way of James O'Barr's THE CROW) of the head of the Assassin's Guild. His previous incarnation was killed by a cult looking to supplant the Guild in the campaign city.

I've decided that one of Olen's long-term goals is to restore the Assassin's Guild. So I'm effectively handing out business cards and making sales pitches. We're scheduled to go to a big party full of the city's nobility fairly soon. I'm looking forward to selling the city's dictator on our resurgence. And filling up my Rolodex. As I've pointed out, it's a great way to have a simple quest hook or a filler adventure: Olen needs to kill someone! The party occasionally temps for the Assassin's Guild! Win-win.

(Olen is honing his sales pitch now. "You don't want murder driven underground, relegated to common thugs. Hirelings who will kill you, your spouse, your servants, and sell your children into slavery. No! You want your murderer to be quick! Discreet! And professional!")
hradzka: Cassidy, from Garth Ennis's PREACHER. (Default)
Video game magazine THE ESCAPIST has a fun article on the gamer in the kitchen, and discusses why gaming and cooking aren't necessarily that different as hobbies. I can see some similarities to shooting, too.

The comments on the article are pretty wonderful, too. My favorite is from "Onyx Oblivion:"

I'm going to start cooking! I like food, I'm fat (but not "eats 10 pies a day" fat), I like gaming, I like to experiment, have an eye for details, and this sounds like a great hobby.

TO THE KITCHEN!

*comes back 10 minutes later*

Shit. The house is on fire.


In other gamer news (I'm not really a videogamer, I swear), DUDEBRO bears watching. Short version of the story: in December, on the NeoGAF forums, one member casually started a surprising thread: "So I decided to rent Imagine: Babyz Fashion…" which he opened with, "I'm thirty minutes in, and thus far it is, honest to blog, one of the most enjoyable gaming experiences I have had all year. In case you think I'm lying for whatever reason, here's my DS upper screen." He posted a screencap. Gamer forums being what they are, you'd expect lots of jokes about the original poster's masculinity and sexuality, and that's exactly what happened. One guy replied, "Well, I guess pedophiles play games too. Thanks for the warning." The original poster replied, "So, I'm a pedophile because I don't want to play Dudebro, My Shit is Fucked Up So I Got to Shoot/Slice You II: It's Straight-Up Dawg Time? To throw around these sort of accusations at someone who seeks to do something different suggests quite the insecurity on your part."

A couple of people thought that Dudebro, My Shit is Fucked Up So I Got to Shoot/Slice You II: It's Straight-Up Dawg Time sounded like a pretty cool title for a videogame.

There followed photoshopped box art. And cut-scene scripts. And character designs. And the thread became a bizarre brainstorming session. And now the forum denizens are actually making DUDEBRO 2 as a freeware top-down shooter. No, really, they are. They migrated from the Imagine: Babyz thread to a dedicated thread, created a wiki, and instituted a loose management system and work cycle using Google Docs and Google Wave. There is a useful links post here.

DUDEBRO may make you laugh, or it may make you go, "Ugh," or both; it's a lot of bro puns, dick jokes, and stuff about the main character screwing women with big tits. I think it's worth watching, though, because it reminds me of stuff I've seen in fandom -- the discussion is batted around, a concrete idea forms, leadership/responsibility emerges, and group action gets underway -- but creating a videogame is a pretty impressive scaling effort, in part because it has an actual definitive endpoint. It's pretty remarkable, I think, and I think it'll be interesting to see 1) if they pull it off and 2) whether it leads to more large-scale community coordination like this from other groups I don't ordinarily think of as fannish (in terms of producing fanfic and the like). Not to mention what kinds of stuff traditional fandom could do -- or, for all I know, is already doing -- in this vein.
hradzka: (snoop)
Hey, did you know that the STREET FIGHTER/FINAL FIGHT videogame series share a trans character? Neither did I!

This is an interesting story: she was originally a woman, but videogame executives thought maybe Americans would consider hitting women rude, so they decided to make her a "newhalf," i.e., give her a penis, apparently under the rationale that the American market couldn't possibly find anything controversial about that. Look, it's Japan, it's another planet. They retconned a little afterwards; the official statement is that she is post-op in America, but in Japan she has her original genitals. She identifies as a straight woman.

She hasn't appeared in games lately, from what I can tell, but the reason I know about this is that she's been honored with a sexy collectible statue, and so Chris Sims mentioned her in his Worst and Strangest Collectible Statues of 2009 article for Comics Alliance. Her statue falls under both categories: worst because, in the grand tradition of oversexualized comic statues, she's wearing an outrageously skimpy halter top, boyshorts, and high heels, has her hips provocatively swayed, and is invitingly dangling a pair handcuffs from a finger. Strangest, because, as Sims points out, the sort of people who purchase these kinds of statues are usually not the sort of people who react positively to trans folks. But there you have it: a trans character from a fighting videogame is officially being marketed as a sex object.

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hradzka: Cassidy, from Garth Ennis's PREACHER. (Default)
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