ANITA SARKEESIAN'S EIGHT POINTS FOR FIXING VIDEO GAMES
Though the personal cost's been high, the work that critic Anita Sarkeesian's put into highlighting the ways in which video game makers deal women a discriminatory hand has been hugely valuable. Changes are happening, all the time, illustrated just recently by the makers of TowerFall. And at a New York University talk this week, she outlined eight key points for progressing the medium away from stereotypical shortcomings and towards a more even representation of the sexes.
Her recommendations are:
> Not to have just a single female character in a cast of several, whose personality is summarised simply as "girl".
> Underwear isn't armour, so let's not dress our warriors as sex objects quite so much.
> As an extension of that point, allow for female characters of different shapes and sizes, rather than always sleek-figured and long-legged.
> Don't focus on the butt. At least no more than you would any in-game male characters.
> Include more female characters of colour. (To be honest, this applies to both sexes, as this wonderful piece on Kotaku, "Video Games' Blackness Problem", explores.)
> Animate women appropriately, so that they're not all jiggles and wiggles.
> Ensure that the noises a female character makes when experiencing pain are just that, rather than something more, let's say, "orgasmic".
> Include female enemies, and don't have them overly sexualised, either.
All fine points. No arguments from me. But you can bet that, somewhere else on the internet, dudes are going spare over this.
THE BRINGER OF THE "WU-POCALYPSE" IS A RIGHT GOOD LAUGH
The man who seemed to threaten all-out war on Boston-based developer Brianna Wu, founder of the independent Giant Spacekat studio, promising a "Wu-Pocalypse" (as we covered here), was just having a laugh. C'mon guys, it was hilarious. No, really.
"Jace Connors", who crashed his mum's car and subsequently claimed that Wu had tampered with the vehicle, is actually 20-year-old Maine funny man Jan Rankowski. As revealed in a Buzzfeed interview this week, Rankowski was simply trying to get a rise out of the handful of keyboard warriors still pursuing the Gamergate agenda that the industry, foremost its press, is corrupt. But how the worm did turn, as those same angry young dudes rounded on Rankowski for daring to troll them – and now he's afraid.
That's right. A guy who, for a joke, had a woman fearing (again) for her life, is now being attacked by Gamergate's still-active antagonists himself. He told Buzzfeed: "I didn't take this situation seriously, but I see what it means now to be in the other person's shoes. What her life must feel like. I have this newfound respect for the people who are having to deal with Gamergate, Brianna Wu and Anita [Sarkeesian]."
Unless Jan's been forced from his home for his own safety and subjected to endless days of threatening social media messaging, I doubt he really knows what the women at the epicentre of Gamergate's hate campaign have really been through. But what the hell: if a lesson's been learned, it's one less dickhead for the sane to concern themselves with.
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THERE'S A NEW TRAILER FOR 'BATMAN: ARKHAM KNIGHT'
Watch it above, if you like. Arkham Knight is the third Batman game from Rocksteady, following the excellent Asylum and City. It'll probably be brilliant, even with Scarecrow as, seemingly, the Big Bad. Bit dark though, isn't it? I mean, I know that's the point; but wouldn't it be ace if someone did justice to those Adam West-era scraps, using Arkham's free-flowing combat system? Knight is released in June, touch wood.
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THERE'S A NEW TRAILER FOR 'THE EVIL WITHIN''S "THE ASSIGNMENT"
One of the scariest games of 2014 just got a little bigger. 'The Assignment' DLC is available from the 10th of March.
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THERE'S GOING TO BE A NEW 'GUITAR HERO', PROBABLY
A franchise previously thought buried might be in line for a revival, as Kotaku reported a few days back. Said to be a "more realistic" take on the tap-along-at-home rhythm action game that sold a shit-load of nasty plastic peripherals now uglying up your wardrobe, publishers Activision may announce the title as early as June's E3, most probably as a current-gen-only affair. No fresh riffs for you, 360 crew.
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SOME NEW GAMES CAME OUT
Dragon Ball: XenoVerse (pictured above) is a beat 'em up aimed exclusively at fans of the long-running Japanese manga series – a series that I have no idea about, whatsoever. Wikipedia tells me that the first Dragon Ball game came out in 1985, and that XenoVerse is the 15th fighting game based on the comic – "XV", makes sense. But properly comprehending the considerable story elements of this Dimps-developed 3D brawler – nutshell: time's gone wrong, and a bunch of (what appear to be) franchise regulars are adversely affected – is impossible for an absolute beginner like me.
Focusing on the gameplay rather than the deep lore attached to its plot doesn't do XenoVerse many favours. Visually it's a cartoon come to life, rich in endearingly comedic sound effects and dazzling special moves. But it plays like a relic, with fussy menus, one-dimensional combat and a camera that's never happier than when it's putting a mountain between you and your target. Your (user-created) character can fight in flight as well as down in the dirt, but the native controls for adjusting your height never feel right, and essential in-battle consumables are annoyingly trapped behind a couple of button presses.
Dragon Ballers of some years' standing will likely relish the opportunity of putting themselves into the game beside its parade of magnificently maned magical pugilists. But those cold to the adventures of – let me see – Goku, Nappa, Trunks et al (all of whom you'll meet early doors) will wonder what the actual fuck is going on with all this silliness, before closing the application and getting back to chasing llamas on Alto's Adventure.
Equally old school of feel but much easier to understand narratively is the first episode of Resident Evil Revelations 2, "Penal Colony". For the first half of Capcom's new four-parter, you control series stalwart Claire Redfield as she's kidnapped from a works social and dumped on an island prison where, this being Resi, all manner of fucked-up experimenting's been going on. Teaming up with another new arrival in this hellhole, Moira Burton, you fight with gun, knife and crowbar (and flashlight but, really, use the gun, yeah?) to reach a radio tower and issue a frantic SOS.
The episode's second half sees Moira's dad, Barry, answer the call (several months later, mind) and he soon enough runs into creepy child detainee, Natalia (I'm sure there's more to her than meets the eye, to be revealed in future episodes). The pair navigates the same grim corridors and bloody basements as Claire and Moira, but there's a sting in their tale: towards its end, a new breed of enemy reveals itself, the Revenant. Which are not nice at all, especially when encountered in numbers while lost in a forest, in the middle of the night.
I'll confess to jumping once during Revelations 2's campaign – right near the beginning of Claire's half, a mean ol' mutant man pops up from behind some shelving, and I may have accidentally streaked my kecks. But for the most part this is straight action-horror fare, more in the vein of Resident Evil 4 than earlier instalments. Barry's armed to the teeth and takes out his enemies with ease; Claire has to be stealthier, but even with limited firepower there's nothing to really challenge anyone's progress through this first chapter, on regular difficulty at least. Once those two hours are done, there's Raid mode (information on that here) to pass the time until chapter two, "Contemplation", arrives on the 4th of March.
Also out right now is god's-eye puzzler Pneuma: Breath of Life, which you can read all about here, and Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty! has just landed on Steam. If you never played the original Abe's Odyssey, released for the PlayStation in 1997, get right on this. It's a beautiful update to a bona-fide classic.
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CVG IS FINALLY, OFFICIALLY, COMPLETELY DEAD
Tried accessing the CVG website today? It's finally gone the way of the magazine, which closed back in 2004, and since yesterday its URL redirects straight to GamesRadar, Future's priority games site. I used to read CVG a lot in my teens, and would regularly click to its site in the years since the print side of the publication shut down. While the writing's been on the wall for the CVG for some time, writers from across the games press have unanimously trashed the transfer, which has seen previous URLs point to "scumbag-tier clickbait articles" and a great many pieces simply lost to the ether.