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Worth a Look

Worth a Look

A large talk that basically started the whole GamerGate mess had to do with representation in video games, specifically with how female characters were presented and utilized within gameplay and narrative with the obvious and problematic conclusion being that female player characters were either underrepresented or, if present, lacked the variety or depth of the male protagonists.

Source: kotaku
Source: Kotaku

However, the newest critical focus––and just as important––looks away from the screen and toward both the community and the developers. If the more forward-looking fans of gaming out there want more representation in games, we should also be asking ourselves about representation in the making of games. With regard to the community, there is a harrowing documentary that I discussed on the show awhile ago, GTFO, about female pro gamers and critics that I guarantee will have you wanting to throw a chair against the wall.

The Kotaku article discusses the story behind––and of––a new book, Women in Game Development: Breaking the Glass Level-Cap, that deals specifically with female developers and their road to being professionals in the field and how that road is paved with sacrifices, shame-dodging, and prioritizing aspects of their identity that males in the same positions never had to make. It’s infuriating how human beings are being treated in a field that, at the core of it, everyone loves so very much.

Another great feature on the book was published at Polygon, “How Women in Gaming Face Hostility” by Colin Campbell.

This is a book I want to read and, it seems, one that gamers should read, no matter what side of development we are on. It’s just sad that this book had to be written at all.

In a bit of selfish rank-pulling, I’m using “Worth a Look” as a “Save for Later” bookmark for myself. This article discusses Dungeons & Dragons as it is used in the recent Netflix hit, Stranger Things (which will be my “Week in Geek” in this week’s episode). Stranger Things has been a Facebook darling, especially for nerds born in, or who lived through, the 1980s and for good reason.

source: Netflix
source: Netflix

Stranger Things is less a snapshot of life in the 1980s and more of an evocation of 1980s adventure movies: The GooniesE.T.: The Extra-TerrestrialStand By MeExplorers, and the like. By mentioning those movies, I don’t mean that is nostalgically mining those movies for characters, plot points, or in-joke references; I would argue that’s not the case at all. Instead, it feels like those movies. The Duffer Brothers (and their directors) have seemingly “figured out” how those movies were paced, how they sounded, and how they looked to feel like a long-lost sibling to those earlier movies. It’s meta-eerie on top of the creepiness of the show itself. It’s able to capture what J.J. Abrams tried to capture (and did pretty well) in his excellent Super 8. But Stranger Things just does it right in an ephemeral way.

The show is framed (or so the article tells me, I haven’t finished the series) around Dungeons & Dragons, which Kunzelman decides to parse not only as a narrative bookend, but also as a thrust, arguing that the game “functions as the primary metaphor for how these young nerdy boys are able to communicate and cooperate with one another and how they contextualize the challenges they face.”

I am eager to read the article, but not as eager as I am to finish the show. It’s so good.

Episode 82 – Backwards Expansion

Episode 82 – Backwards Expansion

Week in Geek: Andrew plays Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India while Dan watches Ex Machina.

Cheap Games: With Andrew’s sideways foray into the normally “AAA” Assassin’s Creed franchise being through the door of a $10 downloadable game, Dan and Andrew discuss the recent widening of prices for games––both video and tabletop––and the implications on not only the content but the culture it feeds.

Flash in the Pan/The Doctor is Out: In unrelated but nearly simultaneous announcements, CBS/CW and BBC announced they are pulling their respective content from the media hubs of Netflix and Hulu, presumably because they are going to launch their own premium streaming services. Will such a tactic work? Should it? Why now? 

Leave a comment at forall.libsyn.com. Be sure to also join the official Facebook and Google+ pages. You can e-mail the show at forallpod [at] gmail.com. Help the show out by leaving a review on iTunes.

For all intents and purposes, that was an episode recap.

Featured Music:

-“Stayin’ in Black” by Wax Audio
-“Ground Zeroes” by Ludvig Forssell (from Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain)
-“Carry On Wayward Son” by GWAR (live recording)
-“Are You Ready for Some Football” by Hank Williams, Jr.

*Dramatic sting sampled from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.