Playing/Healing

The Legend of Zelda Majora’s Mask and the Playable Memento Mori

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The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is a game preoccupied with grief, atonement and confronting death. The apocalyptic, cyclical framework of the narrative allows players to interact with characters who fear their own deaths. The medieval memento mori tradition is an aesthetic and (sometimes) narrative trope by which medieval writers, artists and songwriters came to terms with their own mortality often through a confrontation with a corpse. Continue Reading

“Share Melancholy Thoughts”

Playing with Mental Illness in The Sims 4

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I wake up sad, but I ignore the mood and continue with my day, taking care of my needs, going to work. When I return home, I file reports on my computer, cancelling the impulse to talk to my desk, as the reports will take longer if I do. I keep progressing, always a forward trajectory: I become charismatic, get promotions, work towards my aspiration by learning to play chess and keeping a half-built spaceship in my backyard. I am developing a friendship that might become more than that with a neighbour who constantly sports a tweed newsboy cap and a blue silk shirt. I’m playing The Sims 4 and my character is my first intentionally “insane” character. Continue Reading

A Better World

Examples of Disability in Overwatch

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Video games, like any other cultural product, reflect the cultural values that influence their creation; these values then influence perceptions on what is normal and acceptable in a social context (Flanagan and Nissenbaum 2014). Mass media shapes the perceptions of disability by influencing the language used to talk about disabilities, including what is (or -perhaps more significantly-, what is not) covered by news outlets and other mass media (Haller 2010). The invisibility of those with disabilities continues to be normalized when they are left out of media such as video games. Continue Reading

Madness as True Sight in The Cat Lady and Fran Bow

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Video games, particularly role-playing games, have addressed madness in various ways since their inception, though usually in the form of villains and antagonists whose sole motivation for their evil deeds is their madness. Although inclusivity is important, connecting madness (among other marginalized identity markers, such as gender deviance, queerness, and femininity) with villainy only serves to further alienate and demonize those who identify as mad or have been diagnosed with a mental illness. Continue Reading

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