We’re Gonna Crash!

The Apocalyptic Surrealism of Cruis’n USA

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For all of the romantic language that’s been attached to it, driving is seldom the joyous experience that racing games try to capture. Automobiles are powerful and dangerous, so drivers must constantly be vigilant. The default mode of driving is a mix of anxiety and boredom. Vehicles isolate motorists from their real surroundings, which are abstracted by the new, powerful steel exoskeleton the driver wields. The body is now a zooming husk. Continue Reading

“Is that your only ambition for me? To follow?”

Gender in A Plague Tale: Innocence

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The universality of armed male threats throughout the game is perhaps one of the most visible signifiers of war and violence as masculine spheres within the game. This is reflective of a traditional “masculinisation of war” (Herbst, 2006); whereby warfare and violence are seen as masculine domains. This corresponds to a simultaneous and traditional association between victimhood and femininity, an association that has hindered women’s participation and framed their experiences of warfare. Continue Reading

Planting the Seeds for Positive Queer Representation

My Personal Experience with the Harvest Moon Series and Stardew Valley

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In 2012, however, with the release of Harvest Moon: A New Beginning, players were afforded the opportunity for the first time to customize their character’s appearance in ways that defy stereotypical gender roles. For example, though players are forced to choose their sex at the beginning of the game (thankfully, they didn’t have to purchase individual versions of the game), they can gender bend their character to the point where players can create ostensibly queer relationships. However, other characters continuously refer to the player with the pronouns that have been historically linked to their biological sex, which breaks the illusion of queer content. Continue Reading

Let us live in hope

Hopeful Engagement in Pre-Release Game Communities

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There are no publicly playable builds, and much of the music, graphics, and even game mechanics remain to be designed. Nonetheless, the developer, Visionary Realms, Inc. has already organized multiple livestreams of material and even had YouTube personalities play and “review” the game – such as it is. These small drips of content then permeate spaces likes r/PantheonMMO, where community members spin out thread after thread analyzing the precious little information they have, speculating about the future, and even producing their own ideas and concepts for the game. Continue Reading

Gendered Spaces and Cultures in Video Games

A Personal Study of Breath of the Wild

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Refusing to acknowledge the customs of the Gerudo people for the sake of entering the city certainly reads as a violation of a safe space when we only take into consideration Link’s canonical gender. However, I also firmly believe, as someone who identifies as a transgender man and has spent much of his life exploring the intricacies of identity, that there is a potential for it not to be a violation depending on how the player views and conceptualizes Link. Continue Reading

Subcultural Style and Splatoon

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Splatoon and Jet Set Radio share that whirlpool of signification and commodification. But while there has been enough time for nostalgia to creep in about the latter, the former is still fresh. With design that owes just as much to the booming popularity of East Asian pop groups worldwide as it does to punk and hip-hop, the Splatoon series merges together someone’s ideas of cool. That imagination is manifest in a frenetic mash-up of styles, characters, narrative frames, environments, and in- and out-of-game gear. Continue Reading

Out of Context

Interacting with Games in Wrong Environments

Interior of the Free Play Bar Arcade in Providence, RI, one of many bar arcades that have popped up around the nation. Photo from https://www.facebook.com/freeplayri/photos/a.2361493820742595/2394202187471758/?type=3&theater.

Games are designed and intended for a particular context. Video games are meant for screens, while board games are meant to be played until the pieces are lost. But more and more, as game designers iterate on new concepts and museum curators recognize more artifacts as worthwhile inventory, the contexts of many games are slowly shifting. But does removing a game from its intended environment impact how we interact with it? And, if so, is changing this interaction bad? Continue Reading