The Gendered Mechanics of Pokémon Sword and Shield

I’m Sorry But I Have to Talk About My Force Masc Kink in a Pokémon Game, Oh Gosh

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These possibilities do still exist within frustrating limits on fluid and non-binary expression. When you pick a character, the game won’t say this is what Game Freak thinks a “boy” and “girl” look like, but it will treat them as such. Temtem and Battletech have already shown through a separate pronoun option how gender is not an unspoken aesthetic of bodies, and Sunless Skies provides one of the most sound systems I have seen represent gender. As Ruth Cassidy describes, the unordered presentation of body parts, clothes, and titles that are gendered in our world works for the game that doesn’t comment on gender: “Sunless Skies is a game that cares about telling stories, about people and their temptations and curiosities, and at no point does it need to define the player’s gender to do so.” I’m left wondering why Nintendo thinks they need to have—or rather, why they think they can get away with—a facsimile of inclusion when the boutique in Motostoke only offers my avatar, Ada Lovelace, a fraction of its inventory. Maybe walking while trans has made me hyper-aware, but I notice every time an NPC insists on calling them different pronouns and nouns based off the binary set of bodies I chose from. Continue Reading

To Bloom New Possibilities

Atlus's Hypocritical Portrayals of LGBTQ+ Narratives in Catherine: Full Body

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While there was hope that Catherine: Full Body could fix the narrative issues from the original, it does the exact opposite. Catherine (either version), in essence, is a game where you play as a character who is -phobic and misogynistic, surrounding himself with others who mostly think like him. Vincent is sleazy, but we are encouraged to support his quest since he is the “hero” of the game. However, Vincent rarely learns that his behavior is abhorrent—the only time he has repercussions for his actions are in the “bad” endings of the game, and even then, there is no indication that Vincent would change anything about his behaviors. Continue Reading

Where Are the Disabled Sims?

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I am talking about disabilities. In a game franchise that is centered around simulated living, the creation of a universe intended to mimic the real world in which players can be and do and create whatever they wish, the utter lack of disabilities seems at best odd and at worst a willful neglect of a community that already sees a lack of representation in modern media. One in four adults live with a disability in the United States – 61 million people (CDC, 2018). The Sims has never been more inclusive to its player-base; this is why the exclusion of a major population seems so abrasive. Continue Reading

A Chain of Memories

What does it mean to share a game?

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When I play Final Fantasy VIII on my own, I’m not going back to play Final Fantasy VIII. I’m using it as a conduit to tap into the memories of that time of my life. It’s a way to feel the feelings I associate with listening in rapt silence to a friend’s reading of the game’s dialogue. It’s a way to remember coming home from school, homework done before the final bell rang at 2:45PM and begging my mom to buy more Cheetos for another late evening of RPGs with the first older person to treat me like my opinions truly mattered. Continue Reading

Sailing the Queer Seas

Final Fantasy V, Faris, and Gender

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Yet it is clear that Faris thinks of themself as masculine, or at least proudly embodies the traits of stereotypical masculinity. Their level of courage, stubbornness, and self-confidence is often only found in male protagonists (see, for example, shōnen protagonists or superheros, who tend to exemplify exaggerated masculisms). They are also brash, rough-spoken, and a bit domineering. They are what you would expect of a pirate captain and everything you wouldn’t expect of a princess. Continue Reading

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

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