Tag Archive | Gaming

Subversion Through Destruction: Embracing The Queer Power Fantasy

c918be86c72432bdd57c9e51e148f120

This feature was originally written for One Hit Pixel and can be found here.

Sometimes you just feel like breaking something.

Sometimes, you’ll feel better once you’ve absolutely dominated your aggressors, laid waste to the weak, and are told that you’re a force to be reckoned with. Doing that down the pub on a Friday night will put you in a holding cell, but thankfully we have video games to provide that experience instead.

It’s the power fantasy, being whisked away to somewhere where you’re stronger, smarter and more capable than what you can achieve in meatspace, and you’re awed for it. It’s probably the easiest experience to obtain in our current gaming landscape – almost every action game is about empowerment beyond your normal means.

sodiverseverywhite

However, this empowerment comes in precious few flavours. Either you’re a dashing white guy with a cocksure attitude or you’re a grizzled white guy with a macho attitude.

It’s not random coincidence – the image of the ‘bald space marine’ been an in-joke among gaming enthusiasts for years. To indulge in a power fantasy in a game is to invariably be straight, white and male.

Being only one third of those things, I find those experiences rather restricting in multiple ways. From a purely academic standpoint, having the same protagonists regurgitated is woefully trite. But emotionally, it’s rather chilling – even alienating – to not see someone like you act in a role of power.

As a black person, am I not allowed to see myself lead (in ways other than raw muscle)? As a gay person, am I not allowed to goddamn see myself in any capacity?

Fortunately, Porpentine’s games raise two middle fingers to that, with long fake nails and chunky diamond rings.

Continue reading

Review: Shin Megami Tensei Devil Survivor: Overclocked (3DS)

Shin Megami Tensei, Devil Survivor Overclocked, SMT, 3DS

This review was originally written for One Hit Pixel, found here.

We face a lot of difficult choices in our lives. Many of you reading this are playing Pokémon X/Y and have had to decide between Chespin, Fennekin or Froakie as your starter Pokémon. It’s something that has kept me awake long into the night, eyes bloodshot and hands trembling. However, even when life’s choices feel overwhelmingly significant on the surface, they may not be all that important beneath; you may not even have to dig that far.

The same is true of video games. A game where every choice was immense and game changing would be seriously bloated. As such, the smarter games out there deftly weave in the big choices with the little ones, complete with enough polish and obfuscation where it’s hard for the player to tell the difference.

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked both adheres to and totally ignores this paradigm – which is risky for a game thematically based around choices.

Continue reading

Review: Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate (3DS)

Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, 3DS

This review was originally posted on One Hit Pixel, and can be found here.

I had fallen out of love with action RPGs. Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance played well, but is obsessed with its own terrible plot, and the less said about what I think of Dark Souls, the better. It was a genre that didn’t feel fun any more; then I played Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate. It managed to do something I hadn’t seen in the genre for a few years – not take itself seriously, but remain in top form mechanically.

If you’re a Monster Hunter veteran, you already know this – but this review isn’t so much for you (reinforcing your opinions aside). Those of you who are cautious newcomers, please read on.

Continue reading

Express Yourself: Being a Fashionista in the Gaming World

This feature is also available at n-Europe, found here.

Self-expression is an inherent part of almost all video games. By simply being a medium where the audience can interact with the work, they’re allowed to make an impact within the game. Even doing nothing at all is technically an expression.

But that viewpoint is pretty pretentious and nebulous. In a practical sense games have two ways most people consider outlets for expression – building environments and player customisation. There are deviations of course, but what you come across in mainstream titles will boil down to one of those two.

To be hyperbolic, building (or destroying) environments doesn’t give me much joy. I know there are plenty of people who spend countless hours crafting the perfect urban environment in SimCity or constructing a golden, penis-shaped fortress in Minecraft, but it’s not my thing.

What I can burn hours on is thorough character customisation – perfect for my egoistic nature. Most games are very mechanical about this (will you put points into attack, defence or custard pie resistance?), but the real draw is the fashionable side.

Continue reading

Serial Gaming: Fighting Games

This article can also be found on One Hit Pixel, here.

I’ve loved fighting games for a long time. I’ve never been great at them – most of the time I’m not even good at them – but they bring about such excitement and tension. The kind of hollering at the screen you can only manage when it’s about a toe-to-toe duel with larger than life attacks. I’m an ardent pacifist in real life, but in King of Fighters, I’ll stain my hands with your blood.

That said, until very recently, I didn’t quite appreciate how games within the genre have such important differences. At the moment I’m playing Persona 4 Arena, Skullgirls, and Tekken Tag Tournament 2; but I admit that I approach them all mentally in a rather similar fashion.
At their core, all fighting games (the good ones, anyway) follow some basic tenets: movement and spacing, the attack/block/throw strategic triangle, and even how the HUD should look. The other differences feel aesthetic, maybe even inconsequential.
Then I discovered Salty Bet.

Continue reading

Serial Gaming: Animal Crossing

 This feature can also be found on One Hit Pixel, here.When I committed myself to writing a set of features on my opinions of gaming series, it looked like a cakewalk. But after some thought, I found it needed a more tentative approach. You see, I’d like to say that I am ardently opposed to ‘sequelitis’. In my mind, the greatest gaming achievements are rarely held by sequels (sales figures notwithstanding). Ideally, I would want to say that I don’t have a favourite series, followed by many words about the indie gaming scene.

Sadly, that’s not true at all. I’ll hold my hands up and say that there are a few series where I’ve played most, if not all of.

Today, I’ll talk about one that’s not my absolute favourite, but one I’ve recently clocked as having some genius game design I didn’t appreciate way back when.

Continue reading

Media Matters: Peaceful days died. Let’s Survive

This feature can also be found at the South West Londoner, here.

Even with my busy schedule, I still try to squeeze in some gaming time. My current vice on Nintendo 3DS right now is Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked.

 It’s actually something of an old game – it was originally released as just Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor in Japan and America back in 2009, but never saw a UK release. Overclocked is a re-release for the 3DS, but due to publishing issues, it took a whole two years between the Japanese release and ours, released on the March 29.

The game details an unlikely disaster scenario – a large section of Tokyo is suddenly cordoned off by the armed forces. The government say it’s due to a poison gas leak, but the thousands trapped inside the danger zone know the truth – it’s an invasion of bloodthirsty demons. Knowing that death is constantly around the corner, they try to survive the lockdown for a week, assuming they don’t find a way of escaping. The game’s tagline says it all: “Peaceful days died. Let’s Survive.”

It’s a story that’s surprisingly easy to relate to. Not so much the demons (although the mythology nerd in me appreciates that), but in the character interaction. The main character is rather plain, but his friends and the other survivors he encounters each have their own concerns and different motivations for trying to escape… or stay.

It got me thinking: if I was in a similar disaster area, would I be able to survive? Lord knows how many fellow nerds made zombie survival plans in light of that now overplayed and overrated horror trope.

Continue reading

Tech Talk: Seeing Sounds and the ‘Art Game’

 This feature can also be found at the South West Londoner, here.

Singing Ribbons is a new art installation by Matthew Maxwell for the iPhone generation. A series of paintings consisting of bold stripes of colour can be scanned by a special mobile app that converts each stripe into notes sung by a soprano.

Really, it’s an awesome concept. On a basic level, it’s a great form of interactive art. The works come alive with what you bring to the gallery, and the results leave with you. We are clearly far to prone to forgetfulness to simply remember the exhibit.

From a technological perspective, it takes the idea behind QR codes (Those ‘square barcodes’ that most smartphones these days can read), and explores it in a refreshing way. It’s no surprise that Mr Maxwell works in software, but has an education in fine art.

Beyond that, I think it’s an interesting demonstration of Synaesthesia, though that may not be intentional.

Continue reading