Re-Imagining The Borderlands

A Review of Queer Game Studies

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There’s a scene that Bonnie Ruberg describes in the final chapter of Queer Game Studies (University of Minnesota Press, 2017), which still resonates long after I finished the work. It’s a scene of the inevitable social banter after a panel discussion at an academic conference where, as Ruberg states, she feels “pressured to either tone down my queerness […] or to perform it” (271). For Ruberg, her queerness is not evident in people’s assumptions of her while also simultaneously too evident in her research in queer gaming. She reminds herself to not mention her ex-girlfriend and to silence her kinkiness; she dresses the professional part to blend in and answers questions about her research with a smile on her face—and yet, she still deals with feelings of being “the weird grad student” and with people’s seemingly never-ending questions of “Queerness? And games?” with a twinge of disgust (272). Continue Reading

It Gets Worse…

The Female Voice in Video Games

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Despite their historically tumultuous relationship with issues of gender and representation, many scholars and game journalists have argued that video games are generally moving in the right direction (Lynch, Tompkins, van Driel & Fritz, 2016; McNally, 2016), at least visually. While progress on the image front has taken us from scantily-clad polygon Barbies to humbly-garbed warrior women, vocals – we argue – have done the opposite, regressing from synthetic vowels to overdramatized breathy moans. Continue Reading

Dear Boss

Evie Frye and the narrative style of Assassin’s Creed Jack the Ripper DLC

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Following the release of their 2016 title, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, Ubisoft released a downloadable companion game in which players are given the opportunity to once again walk the streets of Victorian London with assassin twin siblings, Jacob and Evie Frye, to investigate the unsolved crimes of the famed murderer known as Jack the Ripper. Yet rather than retelling the story about two twins who use cunning and skill to save London, the DLC sets its sights on Evie as the hero of the game. Cool and uncompromising, Evie sets herself apart as a playable protagonist proving that female video game characters do not need to be young, inexperienced, or rely on others in order to succeed and win. Continue Reading

The Blame Game

How Video Game Workers Frame Barriers to Diversity

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The lack of gendered diversity within the video game industry is well documented. Research suggests that only 22% of the video game workforce identifies as female, a figure that declines further to 11% when we look only at core technical positions (Weststar et al., 2016). The issue of women’s underrepresentation, as well as sexism across the industry and culture, has become the subject of heated debate in recent years. The events of GamerGate in 2014, where female games journalists, developers, and critics became the targets of misogynistic abuse, stand out as a poignant example of the polemic nature of this topic. Continue Reading

First Person Podcast Episode 9

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This month on the First Person Podcast four editors fan out in our ALL ZELDA ALL THE TIME episode. We play Zelda trivia, we wax nostalgic about our favorite Zelda games, we hard-core rag on our least favorite Zelda games, we talk timelines and aesthetics, and speculate on what’s to come. Continue Reading

“Bullet Feels”

First Person Podcast Episode 6

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Episode 6 of the First Person Podcast will discuss the critical darling Undertale. We cover the attempts at gender neutrality, the ups and downs of pacifism, the anxiety produced when mixing bullet hell and RPG elements and the barriers to entry when playing such a meta game. This podcast is full of spoilers so we recommend you play Undertale first if you were planning on it. Continue Reading

Thedap

The Dragon Age Podcast

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This month we are having a very general discussion of Dragon Age as a series with two of our FPS editors Betsy Brey and Elise Vist. We discuss a whole variety of stuff in this hour including what it is about Dragon Age that makes people obsessively play these games over and over, the differences between Dragon Age and Mass Effect, the in-game politics, histories and philosophies of the games, and the focus on romance and sexuality within the universe. This podcast does contain spoilers, especially for Dragon Age 2, but is mostly general discussion about the series. Continue Reading