Ba Humbug To You, Game Industry

There has officially been nothing but garbage out lately in the gaming world. Critically acclaimed garbage, but garbage none the less. I am, of course, talking about Bioshock. I have said my piece on that particular game over at the Iris Forums. I am so sick of the positive press, that is why the Zero Punctuation video Brinstar linked resonated with me (and my husband, who could not stop laughing).

I think that my biggest problem is I am tired of the crap excuses from game developers as to why they make sexist games. You want funny, minimally sexist games? Try Psychonauts, or Sam & Max Season 1. I have not finished Sam & Max but what I have played of it is funny and revelent. I cannot just sit down and enjoy a game if it is blantantly hating upon my entire gender.

I am not asking for much. I do not mind when I play as a male by default, so long as the story is there. All I am asking for it to tone down the constance macho crap and all the boobies all the time (can I say boobies, even if it is in a satiracl manner?). And to be fair, there are a lot of games that are not total and utter crap which are “girl games”, such as the Nancy Drew series. I own one of these games and it is a brain teaser. The box says for ages 13 and up, and if a 13 year old can beat this game without help they need to be taken out of public schools and given a real education because they definately have a high IQ. Oh wait, boys are always smarter, which is why they play Gears of War.

Also, I like The Sims. I always have, ever since it released all those years ago. I hate that playing it catagorizes me as an infantile girl gamer because the menz do not play dollhouse. You know what my typical scenario is? A single woman living with her cat trying to make it in the world. Sure, sometimes I marry her off to a nice man and they live happily and have babies, but sometimes she falls in love with a woman. Or two men will fall in love. Or she will get old and live her entire life in the company of her cat(s). I love The Sims for the possibilities, not because I can create my own personal Desperate Housewives.

I suppose I am ranting because I feel the weight of responsibilty to change things. I hate hate hate being treated as lesser because I like Banjo Kazooie and Viva Pinata and The Sims. I hate being treated like a child simply because I do not have a penis. And yet the entry to change things is so steep, is it worth it? Is it worth it to ruin your health to attempt to break into the old gent’s club? And why do I have to feel guilty for playing and enjoying the occasional average game such as Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War? I just want to relax and play some games without having to carry the flag, people! Us women carry it so much until we’re so tired and still we must carry it or everything we have wanted will never be achieved. And when there is an achievement, critics are quick to bury it under their astute observations at the current lack of quality of games and somehow it is the fault of women (see: Wii Casual Game Controversy).

Let me make this clear: I do not hate men. I am married to one. What I do hate is the excuses as to why there cannot be a few precious more games to come out a year; quality titles; that make me feel good as well as men. I am not saying there should be less macho games. There can be as many macho games, just some extra stuff for the rest of us. Is that so hard, really?

One last note: Tabula Rasa sucks. Do not buy it unless you feel like wasting $50 and a few hours of your life. The only thing worth seeing is the cinematic introduction, which I am sure you can find on YouTube. Oh look, it’s right here, I just saved you $50.


Guild Wars: First Impressions

I have recently decided to begin playing Guild Wars. I have played it over a span of three days for a grand total time of just under four hours. Obviously I am taking this game very casually as my current play time is very limited. Even so, I feel that I have played it enough to get a good “first impression” of the game.

The characters are very well done. I loved the variety found in the character creation screen. My only comment on NPCs is that I would have liked to see more minorities, but considering the geographical location of the starter zone it does make sense that they are not plentiful. Still, it would have been nice to see more variety within the main city.

Creatures are interesting and varied. Some you will immediately recognize from traditional fables and lore and other are taken from other sources. Others are wholly new yet somehow everything ties in together and makes sense. I believe that this continuity comes from a strong, focused art department. This is a game that has to be seen to be believed.

The environments are beautiful. Simply all of the graphics are well done. You can tell that a whole lot of love and care was poured into this game, from the artistic, programming, and design departments. I really can find nothing “technical” to complain about thus far.

I find the way professions are chosen to be a refreshing departure from typical RPGs. I love that you can only take a set number of skills with you into the wilderness. It adds an entire layer of strategy that simply isn’t found in other games on the market. Also, as a warrior primary, I really enjoy the special adrenaline meters on my special abilities. From what I have experienced all of the classes are well balanced and fun to play; I simply chose a warrior as my primary in Prophecies because it had been awhile since I played a melee class and I missed the close combat. And the armor for warriors is gorgeous, in my opinion.

The typical quibble about no z-axis really does not bother me at all. It simply seems like a nitpick sort of response. I actually find it sort of refreshing that my character doesn’t motor up steep hills like a robot but instead finds the easiest path up it, as a normal human would do.

The one downside I have discovered to this game so far is the non-instanced zones. These are typically cities or outposts where you can meet up with other players to group for quests or missions or trade items. My problem is that a good chunk of the player names are downright idiotic and a lot of the players speak in internet slang which really ruins the immersion. Apparently you can turn off the chat; I will have to figure out how. I will note that this type of player immaturity is typical of all multiplayer games, especially MMOs, and on the whole Guild Wars is on par with the maturity level of players found in World of Warcraft.

The women within the game are on equal footing with the men. One quest in particular stuck out, A Gift For Althea. In it, the Prince Rurik is looking for a gift for his fiancé but it must be something magnificent. The player is of course tasked with finding the gift, and upon finding the correct item if you choose to give it to her the response is awesome:

“What’s this? Does Rurik think I care one whit what gift he gives me? What matters is that a gift comes from the heart. That he choose it himself is all I ask. You can put an end to this nonsense at once. I’ll have a talk with Osric and Rurik myself!”

I really connected with this response. It is as if the developer took the time to keep the game as fair and balanced as possible. Of course, some of the costumes are on the skimpy side but the player can choose not to get that armor set if they so wish it. All in all, I believe that most of the armor that I have seen thus far reflects their respective professions well and is on the whole very aesthetically pleasing.

To sum my experience up, I am having a wonderful time playing Guild Wars and am anticipating my next play session. There is so much this game offers and at such high quality that I would recommend this game to anyone who has even a passing interest in RPGs and video games in general. It can be as casual or hardcore of an experience as the player wants and that is something that is wonderful and unique for this genre.