We haven’t run one of these in a while! If you’re not all caught up on what’s been happening here, let the FemHype community curate your recommended reading list. These are the articles we’ve seen talked about the most this past week, and by sharing the incredible work of our contributors again, we hope that this will continue much-needed discussions about the gaming industry. Always remember to boost the voices of your favorite writers! It helps immensely in supporting their work and encouraging others to get involved.
“Folks who aren’t too bothered by this aspect of the plot often point out that since the Fallout version of the future is heavily influenced by the 1950s aesthetic, the presence of LGBTQIA+ people just wouldn’t fit in. I’ve even seen someone write that there weren’t any LGBTQIA+ folks back then (!?!?!?), as opposed to that population having to pretend to be straight and cis so they wouldn’t get targeted. Some simply posit that it wouldn’t mesh with the morals of the 1950s, which the Fallout pre-apocalypse world mostly held on to. However, it turns out that there’s a lesbian couple right there in the trailer. They’re holding each other lovingly on their front lawn where all of their neighbors can see. So even that’s not a worthy excuse, since apparently everyone’s cool with it.”
“Unfortunately, there are very few games that support a canonically trans protagonist (and no mainstream RPGs at all), despite how maddeningly easy it would be to give trans players the chance to validate their own gender. Just give me the option to say “Me too!” to Krem, Bioware! (Or even just an option that’s not horribly transphobic and ignorant. Please.) But the fact that some games have trans-friendly character creation goes a long way.
I don’t need sweeping plotlines about my OC’s gender—I’m happy with just some basic representation. A game that doesn’t assume my character fits neatly into the gender binary, a character creation screen that gives me the option not to buy into that. If I want to conform to the gender binary, let it be on my own terms. I realize it’d take some jiggery pokery to get that all to work on a technical level, and narrow-minded cis gamers would definitely be up in arms over the whole thing. But they already are every time even the possibility is mentioned, so I assume they’d get over themselves eventually.”
“Sexuality is an interesting topic to explore in media, but why must the characters who are women always be the conduit? Even though Quiet presents her sexuality in a way that is different from Metal Gear’s other women, she is still a mechanism for the (assumedly) cis straight man to navigate his sexual desires. According to Kojima, the player is meant to feel ashamed for judging her sexualized appearance—but in doing so, he has still made her defining traits related to how men view her sexually.
The following artists—regardless of their opinion on the matter—have created their own concepts of Quiet’s character design. If you want to see more of an artist’s work, click on the picture in question and it’ll take you to the original link for each piece.“
“The TowerFall dev team even went so far as to make the alternate blue archer look a lot like Sarkeesian—complete with hoop earrings and plaid—in recognition of her indirect impact on the game. What I love about this is … well, okay, there are about six things I love about this.
I love that Thorson and his team are listening to what a woman has to say about critiquing games. I love that they put her in the game as a tribute, and I love love lovethat they decided to put in the effort and change their approach to be more inclusive. But most of all, I love that they’re willing to talk about it. Thorson is on record saying that they reassessed their character designs to be more inclusive, thus trying to represent the needs of all gamers—not just some. This is something that other gamers will read, that other devs will read. It’s one more step in the right direction.”
“So the more immersive a game is, the harder it is for me to play it. You can imaging that this makes any FPS game a real trial to play. Any first-person game or one with a free camera can cause motion sickness. It doesn’t matter if the graphics are realistic or clunky. Golden Eye for the N64 wasn’t all that realistic, but it would make me nauseous and give me headaches. According to Extra Credits’ episode on simulation sickness, it happens most often with first-person games or third-person games with close cameras.
And while most people can acclimate to the motion sickness that games can cause, there are a percentage of us (like me) who will never be able to. Should that stop you from playing a game? I don’t think so. While there are some games that I had to give up on like Mirror’s Edge, there are other games like BioShock that I was able to work my way through without feeling too nauseated. For me, it was worth pushing my way through my sickness to continue playing. For others, it might not be, but if you want to keep pushing, here are some things that I found helpful.“
“Playing 12hrs was a pinch to the arm—a reminder of the still-cozy haze draped over my mind from the everyday things I still take for granted. I’ve always had a warm place to tuck down at the end of the night and consistent access to phone service and internet. I’ve never wanted for regular food or shelter from the elements. Even a little pocket change from my recent part-time online job feels like a lavish luxury compared to the many months prior of soul-sucking unemployment.
It’s easy to slip into a cautious monotony when your own troubles can seem like too much to deal with without taking on the troubles of others. 12hrs doesn’t let you do that. You’re asked to give a name to the homeless person you’ve seen sitting outside the bus plaza or church entryway and help them survive the night.
I named her Viola.”
“We already identify with many of these same characters. Their struggles are our own, and when a close queer relationship with another character begins to blossom, a sort of fandom frenzy begins. This could be it. They could be the one! But even as fandom (beautiful, wondrous fandom) raises up a character as potentially one of their own, it’s … literally almost never confirmed or even acknowledged by the wider industry as “canon.” A character must proclaim themselves queer in the same breath that they’ve introduced their own name, or risk falling into the trap of speculation and all-out erasure.”
“Sloane: How easy or hard was it to connect to and get into Chloe’s shoes? She’s a deep, almost tragic character, and I can’t help but wonder how it was to get into her head, so to speak.
Ashly: I relate to Chloe in many ways—I think a lot of Life Is Strange fans do. The core of Chloe is fear—fear of being abandoned again, of being alone, of not being understood. And the way she handles that fear is by not letting anyone in, by puffing up her feathers and giving a middle finger to anyone that might try to hurt her. I think many of us have that same fear. It doesn’t manifest outwardly with me the same way it does with Chloe, but I definitely feel and understand it.”
“Skyrim does offer a little background by explaining the origins of the Hagravens. However, unlike Dragon Age, where the role of witches are central to the story, it is tucked away in one of the hundreds of readable books scattered within the game. While The Madmen of the Reach states that Hagravens have always been in The Reach, Herbane’s Bestiary describes what is possibly a myth about a young woman being cast out from her village for “devilry” (curious in a land without the Devil) and later turned into a Hagraven.
Herbane spends a lot more time describing how nasty the Hagraven is instead of describing how he defeated it, emphasizing how Hagravens, like traditional witches, fail at certain elements of femininity that men expect, such as pleasant looks.”
“Let’s try a little exercise (i.e. humor me for a minute here). Suppose that all the events you played through in DA2—from the small, nightly skirmishes in Hightown all the way up to the completion of a companion’s personal quest—are entirely framed through the lens of Varric’s creative license. If that’s true, it means that this is the first installment in the Dragon Age series where we, the player, essentially played a fictional retelling of a story that didn’t happen (at least not the way we remember it). This is supported in the narrative as well, given the fact that our choices had very little impact on the trajectory of the overarching story. No matter who you romance or which side you choose, Anders will always destroy the Chantry and a war will always break out, the ripple effects of which are felt very keenly in Inquisition.”