What Fate Brings

Final Fantasy XV's Chosen Ones

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FFXV makes use of a rather classic storytelling trend: that of the chosen one. But as opposed to a game like The Legend of Zelda where you might only have one chosen one, FFXV has two that are diametrically opposed throughout the entire game to a certain point. With that being said, the two chosen ones, Noctis Lucis Caelum and Ardyn Izunia, were handed their chosen one status by the gods of the game’s universe known as the Astrals. Both were given specific roles within the grand scheme of the story and were never really given much choice in the matter. This sort of setup was something that really caught my interest and helped further my love for both of these characters. Continue Reading

First Person Scholar: Call for Collaborators

Guest Editor: Spring/Summer 2020

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First Person Scholar is a University of Waterloo Games Institute-affiliated, middle-state, open-access web publication committed to diverse, intersectional, and social-justice-minded games scholarship. We are looking for a Guest Editor to head up the last of our 2019-2020 series of special issues highlighting under-represented and/or marginalized identities and communities in games.

This time around, we are looking to run a special issue specifically highlighting queer and trans people of colour. If you identify yourself as belonging to both of these intersections, we’d like to work with you and give you a platform to highlight critical issues in games that matter to you. Continue Reading

Burn the Glitch?

An archaeology of digital queers

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Glitches can be characterised as digital pests. Like their analogue equivalents, they can range from mildly inconvenient to unavoidable. Examples include loading errors, clipping through walls, and game-breaking glitches which result in a complete cessation of play. Despite this, glitches are highly valued by certain play communities. Speedrunners exploit glitches in order to complete games as fast as possible, and record their occurrences for other members of their community. Archaeogamers, who study the intersection between archaeology and video games, may also record glitches in order to better understand the development and experience of playing a particular game. Continue Reading

First Person Podcast Episode 33: Role Play

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This month on the First Person Podcast, you join Lia Black, Giuseppe Femia, Chris Lawrence, and Sabrina Sgandurra to look at the roles they have filled. What experience are they looking for in the characters they portray? How do they… Continue Reading

Space, Navigation, and Queerness in Gone Home; or Toward a Queer Spatiality

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The house’s spatial design mimics moments of secrecy and Foucauldian confession in interpersonal relationships; that is, things are only hidden in order to be discovered (Foucault 20-1). This is maybe most apparent in the game’s map mechanic, in which spaces are revealed only after they have been discovered in-game by the player. The map indicates which rooms have yet to be explored, but does not reveal the purpose of unexplored rooms. This continues to do the work of de- and re-familiarizing the player with the domestic space as well as creating a drive to explore the house and “collect” all the rooms. This mechanic is not unique to Gone Home, and is particularly common in first-person horror games. It’s one of many horror mechanics and tropes used in the game—perhaps because in this sense, the work of making something queer is similar to the work of making something creepy or uncanny. Both work to make that which should be familiar unfamiliar. Continue Reading

Writing New Bodies in Digital Fiction

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A significant scholarly and popular media criticism of bodily-focused video games is that they perpetuate harmful body image (Barlett and Harris; Sarkeesian). Yet, game scholars such as Kafai, as well as significant subsets of gaming communities, have argued that the medium can act as a resistance mechanism for heteronormative, racist, and anti-queer sociopolitical influence. In a Western context, gendered notions of appearance in media work to affirm an idealized body image for women, communicating that a body that is not white, able-bodied, thin, toned, and feminine, is, in fact, inferior. Continue Reading

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