On Being a #Brony and How We See Life

Lately there has been a lot of talk about Bronies on game sites.  Mostly because the team behind the video game My Little Pony: Fighting is Magic, a fan game for the My Little Pony community, was handed a cease and desist order from Hasbro.  They were ordered to cease production and release of the game just a week before the game was scheduled to be released.

It’s very magical sort of story where several people, connected through this fandom, wanted to create something meaningful for their community.  This humorous contradictory idea of the My Little Pony characters fighting despite being about love, friendship, and magic united 3 men to create a fighting game.  It was a daunting task.

Lauren Faust, creator of the show’s first two seasons, saw the cease and desist.  She has been quoted remarking that she loved the humorous idea and what they were trying to do. She then offered to create completely new characters, detached from My Little Pony, for a new game.

Then the team was then offered a physics engine from the creators of Skull Fighters to be used for free.

On seeing all of this I decided that being a Brony was clearly nothing to be ashamed of and that there was clearly something bigger to it all other than the humorous idea of grown men like a “little girls show”.  If My Little Pony was about friendship, collaboration, idea sharing, and community – all things that I value greatly – the show was right up my alley.  Just because the show was intended for younger girls did not mean that I could not enjoy it.  Just because I wasn’t the target market didn’t mean I couldn’t enjoy it.  And more importantly, being a strong supporter of abolishing gender stereotypes and rules which say what is acceptable and unacceptable for genders, meant that I would be a walking hypocrite if I refused to watch the show purely because of its intended audience.  All signs pointed to at least giving the show a try.  If I didn’t like it because I didn’t find it entertaining or meaningful then I could cite such reasons, I would not be a walking hypocrite, and I could be legitimate in my non-Brony status. Continue reading

Cervat Yeril – Graphics and Gameplay

Cervat Yeril is the boss at Crytek – makers of the Crysis series.  There was an interview posted by X360 magazine where Yeril says that graphics are, essentially, the most important part of a video game.  X360, which claims Yeril is saying that graphics are 60% of the game, slightly misrepresented Yeril in my opinion.  However, it doesn’t change the core message that Yeril was trying to get across – which is that graphics are the most important part of a video game.  The direct quote is: 

People say that graphics don’t matter, but play Crysis and tell me they don’t matter. It’s always been about graphics driving gameplay. […] The better the graphics, the better the physics, the better the sound design, the better the technical assets and production values are – paired with the art direction, making things look spectacular and stylistic is 60 per cent of the game.

Yeril says that graphics drive video games and that they are the most important aspect in creating immersion.  Yeril says: 

Graphics, whether it’s lighting or shadows, puts you in a different emotional context and drives the immersion.

And immersion is effectively the number one thing we can use to help you buy into the world.

However, Yeril seems to be missing something and there isn’t any data to truly back up what Yeril is saying.   Continue reading

On Zerlina Maxwell, Rape, and Homo Neanderthalensis

Zerlina Maxwell was recently on Hannity to talk about rape and “gun control.” [LINK: Zerlina Maxwell on Hannity – YouTube] to Maxwell’s point was that men should be taught “not to rape.”  In typical Hannity fashion he refused to allow her to speak, constantly interrupting her and refusing to recognize the point she was trying to make.  Hannity refused to allow Maxwell to make her point.  Maxwell’s point? Women shouldn’t be charged with the responsibility of stopping rape once it starts – men should be charged with the responsibility of not raping women in the first place.

My point is Maxwell’s point – men should be taught not to rape.  Rape cases far too often focus on the woman in the case, the victim.  It shouldn’t be the responsibility of the woman to defend herself from being raped.  It should be the responsibility of the rapist to not rape.

Hannity, during his constant interruptions of Maxwell, tried to make a point which is commonly used in political discourse saying that “You think you can tell a rapist to stop doing what he is doing?… And he is going to listen to an ad campaign to stop?”*  Hannity implies that a rapist is a rapist and at no point was he anything other than a rapist.  At no point does one become a rapist, he merely is a rapist.

The problem is in regarding a rapist as though they were always a rapist, and more generally a criminal as always a criminal.  Rapists are not born rapists – they are not forged from stone and steel like a sword made for raping. Continue reading

Legitimate and Valid Success: In Defense of Video Games

Video games and video game players seem to often be met with hostility.  One friend has posited, on more than one occasion, that people who play video games should “think of what else you could be doing.” He is, of course, meaning that there are far more meaningful and powerful ways to spend one’s time.  A person could be out in the “real” world taking “real” world action, rather than sitting in front of a television screen playing video games (although it should be noted that he has a rather extensive collection of television box sets within his apartment).

Another person I know, while not a friend but an acquaintance, once remarked to me: “I don’t understand [how my daughter knows angry birds so well].  I only let her play five minutes of video games a day.”  She seemed worried and confused.  She couldn’t understand how, or why, her daughter was so familiar with the video game characters from Angry Birds.  (It is worth noting that her daughter was home schooled).

These sentiments seem to be broad and overwhelming at times and video games themselves are never more controversial than in the wake of violent events like the Newtown shooting.  But while the video game violence is often the subject of debate and controversy I will not be talking about the violence to be found in video games.  Rather I’m going to talk about the success and achievement made possible in video games.  More so, the success that is to be found in both violent and non-violent video games alike. Continue reading

Playstation 4 and Women – The Problem is Systemic to the Industry not the Press Release

Playstation revealed their new console, the Playstation 4, on February 20th and they revealed lots of new features.  The system looks well and good, but one of the things that was concerning for a lot of people was the fact that there were no women on stage during the entire press release.  The event was filled with tons of middle-aged men developing new software and games for the Playstation 4.  Game studios like Media Molecule (makers of Little Big Planet 1 & 2), Quantic Dream (makers of Heavy Rain), and Bungie (makers of Xbox’s famed Halo franchise) all presented what they can do with the power of the new Playstation 4.  With all of these big names presenting what we saw was a representation of the industry and a representation of who the industry focuses their marketing towards – middle aged white men.

The problem is that video game studios have neglected women in more ways than one.  Their focus in marketing has almost always been on men who play games.  Women in the industry tell stories where they are assumed to be peripheral rather than active in the game industry at conferences like GDC and E3.  Game studios also very infrequently make female protagonists for their video games.  While women make up nearly half of all gamers they are underrepresented in nearly all aspects of the video game industry.  Female gamers don’t have female role models in the gaming industry to look up to and don’t have female characters to relate to. Continue reading

Cultural Artifact – Crush Game Review

I’ve been absent for a while doing a whole bunch of things.  I started learning to program (I made a dice rolling game in Flash), starting a new job, ramping up my work out schedule, and writing this article for Gamers Against Bigotry.  As well, I’ve been working on my writing (even though I haven’t posted anything).  I wanted to start writing game reviews (something I’ve done a couple times in the past), but I didn’t want to write just some plain old review about graphics, sounds, or anything standard.

I came up with this idea: Cultural Artifact.  Cultural Artifact will be the header for all my game reviews where I look at not just gameplay, graphics, or music for their own sake, but looking at the whole of these things and how they work with culture, create culture, and/or are a byproduct of culture.  So here we go, the first Cultural Artifact Post: Crush Game Review.

SPOILER ALERT: Cultural Artifact focuses on games as a whole and their relation to culture (which culture depends on the game and its focus).  Cultural artifact will invariably contain spoilers for games.  I recommend playing through a game before reading Cultural Artifact if you worry about having a game spoiled for your.   Continue reading

XBox Live and Verbal Abuse

*trigger warning: harsh, violent, and derogatory language follows in the following article*

Verbal abuse and verbal harassment is very common online.  In fact I would call it pervasive.  The things that spew from some people’s mouths would make you think that they’re a garbage compactor and not a person.  If you happen to land in the wrong match you can hear people throwing slurs like they had an actual impact in the game, as though calling someone a faggot is going to improve how one performs during a match.  It can be extremely overwhelming and it wasn’t until recently that I had my first true experience with online harassment to this kind of extreme.

My parents bought me Black Ops 2 for Christmas.  I have played plenty of “War Games” online such as Halo and previous Call of Duty games.  However I never paid any attention to the chats that were going on.  Often times I would mute anyone and everyone who was in my lobby so I could listen to music or something else.  As well, I played on my PS3, where the problem (while still pervasive) isn’t as widespread.  I played Black Ops 2 online in some casual matches, but it wasn’t until I started playing Hardcore matches that I came face to face (or should it be ear to ear?) with the extreme end of online verbal harassment. Continue reading