If you’ve been involved with any sort of political conversation surrounding video games for the last twenty years, you’ve probably heard a lot of people harping on about violence: specifically, that violent video games lead to violent behavior in real life. While that claim has largely been debunked by research, there’s no denying that violence is an integral part of most high-profile titles. A tight and fluid combat system is a major selling point for a major release from an AAA studio, and a game with poor combat is lambasted with bad reviews. For better or worse, combat can be how players define a game: it determines how we view its quality (sometimes privileged over other concerns like graphics and narrative), and how fun the process of violence is in a game is the point by which we decide whether or not to play. (more…)
Emma is a PhD candidate in Rhetoric and Composition who studies how play impacts learning. Her words have also appeared in Critical Distance and Unwinnable. When not writing, she enjoys passing the controller between friends for runs of Silent Hill. She can be found @kostopolus on Twitter.
When I talk to people about the need for more female, NB, and trans playable characters in video games, I tend to get the same response: “Well, what about ‘x, y, z’ game? It lets you make your own character!” This is a complete non-answer to a very real problem, and a dismissal of my feelings and concerns. It’s saying that, because a handful of games allow me to create either a male or a female main character, I should be content that the default character on the box is the same cisgender white man in every game. It’s saying that representation doesn’t matter in games so long as I’m able to create it for myself.
This mentality shifts the responsibility from the developers to the players. Rather than encouraging game developers to expand their audience and create more diverse characters, it forgives them for their short-sightedness. “It’s okay that game developers never consider you the norm,” these respondents seem to say, “because at least they let you insert yourself.” But this ignores the fact that the game wasn’t made for me, that the world wasn’t designed with me in mind, and that every part of the game will reflect that, whether the developers intended it or not. (more…)
Book reviewer, game player, writer, and editor, Heather can be found on Twitter @terminality_, where she mostly posts about her cat.