Thick as Thieves: Your Favorite Video Game Siblings

Tales From the Borderlands

Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening to all of you! I am pleased to present the results of FemHype’s latest survey! We had 160 respondents to the question of who your favorite video game siblings are, which I am totally floored by. Your interpretations and thoughts are so valuable to this investigation, and an impressive 46 examples of video game siblings were brainstormed.

We’ll be splitting your feedback into this fun little (well, actually pretty long) list, “Thick as Thieves,” and a more in-depth analysis of the whys and hows of sibling relationships will be coming up next. If you don’t see one of your choices represented here, you may see them in the next article — so stay tuned for that.

Without further waffling, here is the data on just who your faves are! As respondents could choose multiple answers, these percentages won’t tot up to 100%.

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Sunday Loot: Amplifying Your Voice in the Games Industry

BlubBlub: Quest of the Blob

Happy Sunday, friends! We hope you’re enjoying the weekend with a nice cup of tea. But if you’re already out the door and on the go, not to worry! There’s a long list of super cool opportunities in the games industry right now, and all of them offer ways to boost your work.

Sign on to support a new game on Kickstarter, lend your voice and experiences to an upcoming book, or even submit to a wildly popular festival. The possibilities are endless! Just let us know where you’ll be showcasing your work next, okay? We always love to see the incredible work of our community!

As always, if you know of an inclusive gaming space or games project you’d love to see promoted on our Sunday Loot series, drop us a comment below or check out our contact list! We’d love to hear from you, especially about new and exciting spaces where all gamers can hang out. ✌

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Blanket Fort Chats: Game Making With Philip Jones

philip-jones

Blanket Fort Chats” is a semi-regular column featuring women and nonbinary game makers talking about the craft of making games. In this week’s post, we feature Philip Jones, a nonbinary games professional best known as the editor of the queer cyberpunk adventure 2064: Read Only Memories and the expo hall director for the LGBTQIA+ games convention GaymerX.

Miss N: Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into making games?

Philip: I’ve known I wanted to be in games since I was very young; I’d been writing and podcasting for fan and news sites since I was twelve. I first launched my own podcast project at 16 and went on to have the subject of the game’s creative director on for three exclusive interviews. Kept a couple contacts and soon met Toni Rocca [GaymerX Convention President] online.

I was barely 18 and just came out as gay, and was fascinated by the potential of queerness in games, especially professional work. She enlisted me and I haven’t looked back since. Before that, I was a theater kid dealing with a sad queer life in Texas, doing whatever I could to put off the “grow up and get a real job” future staring me down that I knew I’d never survive in.

Miss N: Can you describe your your earliest memory of playing games?

Philip: Plenty of them. Playing the Ms. Pac-Man machine they had at the laundromat. Random babysitters that had N64s or computer games, mostly car racing or Disney. Lots of educational games. The SEGA Pico. All the late ’90s PC games. Fuzion Frenzy on Xbox. Tony Hawk and Mario Tennis on the N64 they had at McDonald’s.

By the time I was six or seven, I got a computer and was playing pretty excellent games, Roller Coaster Tycoon and Need for Speed, lots of LEGO games haha. Eventually, my best friend got a Gamecube and introduced me to games like SSX Tricky, Pikmin, Super Monkey Ball, and XG3. When I was nine, I finally got my own Gamecube with SSX 3 and Mario Kart Double Dash. Then, a Gameboy Advance SP with Golden Sun, Pokémon FireRed, Yoshi’s Island, and Sonic Advance. Soon, Harvest Moon, Smash Brothers, Mario Sunshine, and Animal Crossing.

Most of what I’ve mentioned remains on my favorite games list. Then I got a Wii, found the internet, and I was in deep. Some of favorite memories are the late ’90s/early ’00s SEGA arcade machines they had at Chuck E. Cheese. Crazy Taxi, Emergency Call Ambulance, Jambo Safari, Magical Truck Adventure, and Wild Riders. All very influential.

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Calvary’s Here! The Role of Hostility in Games Discourse

overwatch

Remember that controversy about Overwatch’s Tracer? The multiplayer shooter’s poster girl with a terribly mangled British accent and a legendary posterior? While she didn’t break the internet like Kim Kardashian did, there was some uproar about how her original character pose — in which her face and bottom were sort of facing the same direction — was removed by Blizzard for being too sexy.

The reactions from those who supported or derided the decision were swift; the camp that agreed with Blizzard’s decision said that this pose was out of character for Tracer’s playful (rather than sexy) personality. On the other hand, others saw this move as an attempt by Blizzard to cater to a vocal minority, and were vehemently against the removal.

There’s even a Change.org petition titled “Overwatch’s Tracer — don’t touch the butt” in which supporters implore Blizzard not to mess with Tracer’s derrière. While these folks have my utter and complete sympathy, I wish to clarify that Blizzard didn’t actually alter Tracer’s bum in any way; they simply turned it away from the camera.

In an age where feminism is synonymous with tyranny and oppression in some circles, Blizzard’s decision to remove the pose was a surprisingly refreshing one. Even though they had expected some measure of backlash, they still decided to go ahead with it anyway. Game director Jess Kaplan even clarified:

“We understand that not everyone will agree with our decision, and that’s okay. That’s what these kinds of public tests are for. This wasn’t pandering or caving, though. This was the right call from our perspective, and we think the game will be just as fun the next time you play it.”

This is only one instance of a select group of gamers’ hostility against what they deem as “social justice warriors” — people whose sensibilities are far too easily offended — but such anger isn’t without meaning.

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An Exploration of Emotional Abuse & Gaslighting in ‘Loved’

Loved

[Trigger warning for discussions of abuse and misgendering.]

The first thing Loved asks is whether you are a man or a woman. Already I have a sense of unease; I am neither, but as I am a woman some days, I chose ‘woman.’ The game is quick to not only misgender me, but to infantilize me by calling me a boy.

In 2010, when I first played Loved and was a cis girl, I was annoyed by the game and instead refreshed before choosing ‘man,’ forcing the game to acknowledge my gender. Six years later, I accept that I am wrong and the game is right. It has to be. Because emotional abuse is not a topic often brought up in video games and — even if it is brought up — none of them hold the same weight as the game Loved by Alexander Ocias.

When I first played it, I followed the game until it told me to do things that seemed illogical. Of course I was going to jump over the barbs and touch the checkpoint statue. Why wouldn’t I? Taking the lower path filled with barbs only to jump into barbs wasn’t right, so I disobeyed. I was rewarded with color and the game insulting me.

I rebelled throughout Loved and felt a smug satisfaction as the game became more colorful. I closed the page and didn’t come back to it. I saw no need.

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Rolling the Dice: Trauma as a Play Mechanic

Dungeons & Dragons

This is the second part of “Trauma as a Play Mechanic,” a cursory investigation into the use of trauma as a mechanic in games. Initially, video games and the use of programmed psychological distress was discussed, but now we’re about to delve into pencil and paper entertainments. Just to recap: for the purposes of this article, psychological trauma is being defined as damage to the psyche as a result of distressing events. These can be short- or long-term symptoms, often measured in a hard, quantifiable mechanic within the game’s system of rules.

The term ‘Sanity’ used in this article references a specific characteristic within the physics of a player or non-player character defined by the rules of a game. Sanity often takes the form of a point system that mimics the determination of a character’s physical proximity to death. In these instances, Sanity does not represent the varied uses of the word in real life, though they may be an attempt by a designer at mimicking their perception of a character’s proximity to mental distress.

Unlike video games, the nature of psychological trauma’s effects on gameplay can be tweaked and entirely changed by the Game Master, or some combination of the agency of the Game Master and players during the course of play. Here, I will be primarily covering and breaking down what is printed in the guide books for three tabletop games, supplementing with the creators’ intentions where I can.

How the mundane, yet extraordinary nature of some traumas versus the supernatural is often left up to the GM. Otherwise, those more reasonable fears of the everyday person are treated as lesser when compared to slowly revealing the traumas of a world more dangerous than players ever imagined.

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Sunday Loot: Queering Game Jams & Games Journalism

Dragon Age

Happy Sunday, friends! It’s that time again for another roundup of all the super cool opportunities we’ve seen across the games industry. In particular, we’d like to take some time to highlight the inclusive spaces that are specifically looking for your unique work — and they’re paying, too!

With two game jams and three games publications actively working to elevate diverse voices in this industry, we’re all too happy to promote their incredible work. If you like what they’re doing, consider joining their teams! Many are all too happy to pay for your time and creativity, too, which only means more bonus loot. We’re excited to see your work featured!

As always, if you know of an inclusive gaming space or games project you’d love to see promoted on our Sunday Loot series, drop us a comment below or check out our contact list! We’d love to hear from you, especially about new and exciting spaces where all gamers can hang out. ✌

Continue reading “Sunday Loot: Queering Game Jams & Games Journalism”