Destined for Silence

Speech as Trans Identity in Destiny 1 & 2

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It didn’t matter if you were Human, Awoken or Exo. It didn’t matter if you were male or female. You had been resurrected as a Guardian; humanity’s last hope against the Darkness, and you would do everything in your power to succeed.

And from those first orchestral bars, I had a voice. . . or my character had a voice. And I had a. . . my character had an identity that I as the player created. I tend to get lost in my games. When I’m playing a game I’m not simply a human sitting in a chair with a PlayStation 4 controller watching the pixels of my screen illuminate and change. Continue Reading

“Miniaturized, A Bit Abstract, But Strangely Compelling”

A Review of Role-Playing Game Studies: A Transmedia Approach

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In the introduction to Role-Playing Game Studies: A Transmedia Approach, José P. Zagal and Sebastian Deterding call games “trusty little mirrors of social life . . . miniaturized, maybe a bit abstract, but strangely compelling” (1). The latter portion of that quote serves just as well to describe their book’s relation to its topic. Noting a lack of cohesion in the study of role-playing games (RPGs), Role-Playing Game Studies strives to integrate scholarly works dispersed across a variety of disciplines and locales, and to begin the work of establishing a canon of RPG scholarship. Indeed, in a space already so nebulous and uncentered as game studies, RPGs appear mostly as curiosities – blips scattered across journals, institutions, and conferences, with little sense of who else is studying them and why. Continue Reading

First Person Podcast Episode 30

Game of the Year

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Welcome back to First Person Podcasts. It’s been some time and we are grateful to those of you who are coming back to us after a little hiatus. We’re back and raring to go with a totally original, out of… Continue Reading

“The Cavalry’s Here!”

Transmedia Storytelling in Overwatch

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During its reveal at the 2014 BlizzCon, Overwatch introduced players to its vibrant and colourful world with the character Tracer announcing that “the cavalry’s here!” (“The Exhibit”). This line now functions as her signature phrase, perhaps reflecting the continuously expanding roster of characters and collection of media that make up Overwatch’s story universe. Continue Reading

Memories Shaping Identities

An Overview of Dontnod's Games

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While French studio Dontnod is still releasing new episodes of Life is Strange 2 and is teasing a new project, Twin Mirror, they have already developed four games in five years. To me they all bear a common theme which leads the experience: memory and how it defines identity. Let’s see how each game uses these ideas in their themes and gameplay and what it could mean for the studio. Continue Reading

A Shack, a House, a Prison

The analogy of the shack and videogame production

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I want to be very careful about how I approach this subject. I do not claim to speak for videogame production writ large, nor do I want to. I am concerned with forming a body of knowledge around certain exploitative practices which occur in much of the videogame industry – an industry to which unfortunately few game scholars have ready access. Like the historical development of television, radio, and film, videogame production is experiencing growing pains that need to be addressed if the conditions are ever going to change. This article utilizes the analogy of the ‘shack’ as developed by Bachelard (1964) and Robertson (2011) to understand one of the struggles that prospective and early-career videogame developers often experience: being recruited for their passion (Kerr and Kelleher, 2015; Bulut, 2014 and 2015; Johnson, 2013a, 2013b, 2019), then having that passion used against them. In other words, appealing to the ‘passion’ of employees allows for exploitative working conditions and work culture, all under the auspices of someday “making it” in videogames (O’Donnell, 2014, 153). Continue Reading

The Musical Narrative of JRPGs

“The Melodies of Life” in Final Fantasy IX

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Japanese Role-Playing Games (JRPGs) have come to be known for their sometimes-formulaic plots, as is beautifully lampooned by this CollegeHumor video. Typical plot-points include: a great evil slowly taking over the world (often by collecting powerful crystals), a small team of unlikely heroes, playable characters that have secret past lives, sudden and unavoidable deaths of important main characters, and numerous side-quests (or minigames) that have largely nothing to do with the main plot of the game. Nonetheless, fans of JRPGs have come to love and expect these narrative devices as key elements, and some of video game’s most successful and acclaimed franchises, including Fire Emblem (Nintendo, 1990-ongoing) and Final Fantasy (Square Enix, 1987-ongoing) series, fall into this genre. Continue Reading