Mad/Crip Games and Play

An Introduction

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Content Notification: reference to self-harm

The first time I saw Poison Ivy, I fell in love with her. But I didn’t get to play Ivy. I had to play Batman. And Batman punished Ivy for being a Mad queer femme. He played the role of the legal system, and the legal system punishes people like her, like me. The logic of the game was patriarchal, sanist, ableist. The game made me hurt us.
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Weight of the World

How NieR: Automata’s soundtrack embodies the game’s themes and mood

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Content Notification: reference to suicide

NieR: Automata tells the story of the androids and robots who are fighting over the last remains of humanity. Both the androids and the robots display behaviors learned from humans, whether integrated into their own behavior or just mindless mimicking without understanding of why they’re doing it. In the end, it’s revealed that humanity has been extinct for a long time, but it hardly needs revealing, as one of the most striking things about Automata is its use of absence and artifice to speak to the nature of humanity without ever portraying a human at all. Its soundtrack, composed by Keiichi Okabe, reflects this as it strikes appropriate tones of melancholy, emptiness, and repetition. Continue Reading

First Person Podcast Episode 26

I Dream of Daddies: Questioning the Queer Logic of Dream Daddy

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Content Warnings: Discussions of homophobia and assault

In this month’s podcast, we discussed Dream Daddy, an interactive visual novel developed and published in 2017 by Game Grumps that describes itself on its Steam storefront page as “a game where you play as a Dad and your goal is to meet and romance other Hot Dads”. So far, so good. Given the dearth of games catering to explicitly queer players, the FPS staff were naturally thrilled to have such a game and were eager to sit down to discuss it. As a bunch of gay and queer-identifying scholars, some of whom conduct research on queer representations in media objects, we had much to discuss about this game. Continue Reading

OMG! It’s a GRILL!

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For those of you who are not female-identifying and have not played online games with voice chat before, this might seem like a gross exaggeration. However, I’ve been greeted with some version of this dialogue many times at the beginning of a match. I usually say “Hi” or make a game-related suggestion and in return, I am called out as a girl. Oftentimes, another player will chime in and carry the dialog on by saying “No, it can’t be a girl. Girls don’t play video games.” Just a meme, they say. Continue Reading

Review: Boluk and LeMieux’s Metagaming:

Playing, Competing, Spectating, Cheating, Trading, Making, and Breaking Videogames

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As a topic, ‘Metagaming’ is heating up. Generally used as a catchall term used to describe all the ways in which games interface with the contexts in which they are played (Garfield 2000), discussions of metagaming have seeped into a broad range of competitive play communities (Abbott 2016; Masisak 2011). Academics also are learning to pay heed to the role of metagames in shaping communities of play and informing game design practice (Kow, Young, and Tekinbas 2014; Carter and Gibbs 2013; Carter, Gibbs, and Harrop 2012; Donaldson 2016). Nevertheless, discussion on the topic has been, for the most part, scattered, sparse, and balkanized. Continue Reading

Savage Beasts

The Spatial Conflict Between Civilization and Nature in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

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It is hard to talk about playing the fantasy role-playing game (RPG) The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim without talking about its digital environment. Its vastness. The freedom with which players can move through it. With an impressive “16 square miles” (Hong p. 42) of digital landscape on offer, there certainly is a lot of world to explore. Continue Reading

First Person Podcast Episode 25: Game(s) of the Year(s)

Another Year, Not Another Award Show.

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In our January 2018 podcast, Betsy, Chris, Will and Justin discuss their picks for games of the year, with a twist: categories ranged from the social (“Fine, stop yelling I’ll play it award”) to the academic (“game that made me rethink my research”). FPS has previously experimented with alternative formats for game of the year awards before, asking podcast participants last year to focus on the games that resonated with them most and to reflect critically on the awards themselves in the year before. Stick around for the end of this year’s podcast, when the FPS crew each discuss their one true game of the year. Continue Reading