Tag Archives: sexism

Heavy Rain’s sexism problem

21 Dec

Oh, Quantic Dream…

heavyrain

Heavy Rain is actually the game that made me want to start a blog. And that’s not a good thing. So expect this to be a bit of a rant.

I was really intrigued by Heavy Rain when it was first announced. I’m always up for a non-traditional gaming experience, and I thought that, even if the game sucked, it would at least be a cool experiment.

I played it on release and, overall, enjoyed it. I loved the threat of permanent death for any of the main characters, and the finger scene is still one of the most tense moments I’ve experienced in gaming. There was one trial that I failed, making me feel genuinely guilty, and this was one of the first games I can think of that (attempted) to seriously delve into the parent/child relationship that has been so popular in 2013. The game wasn’t perfect, but at least it was trying to do some unique, genre-pushing things.

So it’s really too bad that Madison Paige is an abysmal character.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Is Columbia a gender egalitarian utopia?

23 Jun

Bioshock Infinite: Part One, Part Three, Part Four

WARNING: This post contains spoilers for Bioshock Infinite. Read at your own risk.

bioshock10

Bioshock Infinite features something that we don’t usually see unless it’s a major focus of the story: a sexism-free fantasy world.

Or at least a world that seems to be free of sexism. It’s difficult to notice the lack of something, especially when subtle sexism is so pervasive in our society that we make out own sexist assumptions while playing games. But in Columbia, where bigotry is proudly held up as a religious and moral imperative, the lack of explicit sexism is noticeable.

It’s an interesting world building technique, because many fantasy worlds hold onto some form of racism and sexism in an effort to ground the world in “reality” and make it more believable to the audience. (I’m not going to get into the merits of this technique right now, because that’s a whole other thorny issue.)

When the racism isn’t explicitly about skin color as it is in Bioshock Infinite, it might be about aliens or intelligent AI or what have you. There’s an extensive list on TV Tropes if you would like to check it out. And as many fans of historically inspired fantasy (like Bioshock) can say, there’s a long-standing discussion of the prevalence of sexism in these imagined worlds.

So it stood out to me when I first realized that Columbia was a remarkably egalitarian society when it came to gender. Continue reading

Gender Expression and Race in Animal Crossing

9 Jun

animalcrossing1

I’m editing this while anxiously waiting for Animal Crossing: New Leaf to download from the Nintendo eShop. I adore this series. It’s simple and sweet and charming — the perfect relaxation game.

But that doesn’t mean the game is devoid of social justice issues. I’ve noticed two prominent ones while thinking a lot about the overall series during the last few weeks. (I swear this isn’t just an excuse to spend time feeling like I’m actually being productive while obsessing over New Leaf details.)

Personality Types

Now, I’m not going to try to defend the gender dynamics of the game. I think the game’s attitude is well encapsulated in the player’s very first interaction with the game. In fact, it’s the very first time the player gets to make a choice. I’ll take New Leaf as my example, although all of the games follow the same format.

To begin the game, a cat named Rover (oh, how I missed you, friend!) asks for the player’s name. Like the flatterer he is, he then gushes about how “fantastically great” you name is, to which the player can either respond:

“Cool, right?”

“Cute, right?”

“Oops, I misspoke!” (in case the player wishes to change their name for any reason)

Your choice between the first two options decides the gender of your character. “Cool” = male; “cute” = female.

It might seem like a small thing (and in the context of the game, it is small), but it serves as foreshadowing for the way the game handles gender. In general, female characters tend to act, dress, and decorate in a way that’s more cutesy/girly and male characters, while not necessarily fitting into standards of Western/American masculinity, act, dress, and decorate in a more masculine way.

Continue reading