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

Mind of Mario

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I was projecting myself on to Mario (borrowing his better life), becoming the hero as I fought through waves of strange enemies, some of which are literally named Bullies. That made it incredibly easy to project my real life tormentors onto these aggressive 64-bit baddies. But sometimes the days were a bit darker, especially when I had been hit, and I murdered needlessly with punches, kicks, and bouncing off of their heads. It felt better to have the power and be the bully for once. Continue Reading

Outer Wilds Helped Me Understand the Relationship Between Progress and Purpose

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Outer Wilds is a game that is humanized by an understanding and conceptualization of purpose that I have never felt. I am humbled by it. The game is still teaching me the higher purpose of progress and the importance of contributing to societal progress, no matter how doomed the universe may be. On the eve of climate change becoming irreversible, examining our individual relationships to progress and activism has never been more vital. Continue Reading

For All the Broken Vessels

Compassion in the Final Moments of Hollow Knight

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At times it can seem as if the world of videogames, just like the raucous meatspace around us, is first and foremost designed with the loudest and fiercest of stories in mind. All too often, and with relative ease, they appear to drown out the quieter moments for which this unique art form can allow; and taken at face value, the somewhat elusive genre of Metroidvanias seems by definition to fit right into this very mold. After all, its guiding principle is growth—be it in the form of deeper understanding, improved skills, or (of course) greater power. Continue Reading

Spiritual Heritage

The Shared Spiritual Themes of Persona 5 and The Wind Up Bird Chronicle

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Content Notification: References to sexual violence

After Persona 4 received widespread critical acclaim and built a large, passionate fanbase, Persona 5 (P5) became one of the most anticipated games during the many years it was in development. While the game was exceptional by conventional standards for game releases, the general consensus tended to be slightly underwhelming as a follow-up to one of the most critically acclaimed and beloved games of all time. Continue Reading