EDITOR’S NOTE: We end each year by each taking a look back and picking our five best posts, explaining both their importance to us and to the world we currently live in. Clicking the banner images will link you to each post, so as 2016 comes to a close join us in remembering how far we’ve come, but also how far we still have to go.
To directly quote my co-writer, “**** this year” has been an increasingly common sentiment as the days tick by, but even given the relentless, overwhelming flood of bad news that 2016 has embodied what’s particularly depressing to consider is how little some things have changed. It’s also telling that in spite of us collectively writing more blog posts than last year I’m left feeling like I wrote less, and that what was written is generally of a lower quality as well.
With that in mind and given the handful of bright spots I managed to find I decided to address this year and my coverage of it a little differently by using the “sandwich approach”. Instead of being presented in chronological order below are two positive aspects to 2016 that bookend what amounts to one singular, continuous problem, and one that I take very personally.
There’s something beautiful about the way a team can run like a well-oiled machine, each of its separate components working in unison to efficiently accomplish a shared goal. While not always my experience with Overwatch those moments, especially when with friends, have been highlights of my year.
With this post I took a closer look at Blizzard’s latest FPS that, since the time of this post being written, has grown the number of playable female characters to roughly 50%, and its place as part of a growing push in video games to expand beyond the male-only titles of the past.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was a high point of 2015, a Netflix-exclusive sitcom with an unassailably positive young woman at its core. It even took up one of my slots in my last year in review post, where I praised them for including an Asian love interest while scrutinizing how much they truly valued the verisimilitude needed to portray them correctly.
One tragedy of 2016 is that I was never able to make it past the third episode of its second season, the reason being that Tina Fey et al. created twenty-some minutes of television that dragged those who value Asian American representation before running them over with a steamroller, and then putting it in reverse. Friends assure me that it gets better, but how could it not after falling to such great depths? Continue reading
Posted in art, Asia, bizarreness, blog news, race, video games
Tagged 2 Broke Girls, 2016, And the Himmicane, asian, Asian-American, Doctor Strange, female characters, film, Kurt Busiek, Overwatch, review, tf2, The Ancient One, Tilda Swinton, Tina Fey, TV, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, video games, whitewashing, year in review
I’ve played 31 hours of Overwatch to date. Now that pales in comparison to the 322 I’ve clocked on Team Fortress 2 [often shortened to TF2], but the former has only been out since late May and I’ve had the latter for several years now. There’s time to even the scales, is all I’m saying.
Now those 31 hours may not communicate this this very well, but I am all about this game. As a self-proclaimed Blizzard [the studio behind the game] fanboy who has spent actual cash money on every one of their recent releases save for World of Warcraft I’ll admit that I was already primed for it, but where Diablo III: Reaper of Souls languishes half-finished I don’t see any excitement drop-off in sight for Overwatch.
Counting herself as a fellow member of the game’s 10 million or so players, Polygon contributor Susana Polo’s interest stemmed from a different place. To wit, the presence of so many playable female characters was a huge draw for her in spite of not being “a big shooter fan”. While as a whole the its roster is startlingly diverse [it ostensibly only has four Harveys; see here for an explanation of the terminology] it’s Polo’s perspective, primarily her comparison between Overwatch and Team Fortress 2, that I want to focus on.
Apples Blues and Oranges
Her article has its foundations in a conversation she had with a former co-worker, namely regarding the fact that “It’s shitty that Team Fortress doesn’t allow you to play as a woman”. As another class-based shooter with a focus on objectives over kills juxtaposing the two only makes sense.
Team Fortress 2 was released by Valve in 2007. The game offers a total of nine different classes to choose from, most of them White, all of them male [as far as we know]. While there has been much speculation about the Pyro [who is fully masked] being a woman there has been no confirmation from developers at this point.
Overwatch has 21 heroes, with Blizzard already teasing another on the way. Of these characters eight of them are female. While not as close to 50% as the actual number of women in the world, it should be noted that of other 13 two are Omnics [robots] and another is a hyperintelligent gorilla.
Now what we could do is chalk up the creative decisions made by the studios as simply matching the current climate surrounding consumer expectations. While female gamers have always existed it’s within recent years that they’ve become more vocal and made their presence more known, something which the industry appears to have tuned in to.
Given that TF2 was created nearly a decade ago maybe we can cut Valve a little bit of slack for merely keeping up with the times, such as they were. Having made that decision let’s instead change gears and ask a different question: “Why hasn’t Valve added female skins to TF2 in the nine years since it was released?” Continue reading
Posted in feminism, media, video games
Tagged Battlefield 1, believability, Blizzard, characters, comparison, D.Va, diversity, female, female skin, feminism, fighting games, Overwatch, playable, shooters, team fortress 2, tf2, Valve, video games, Violence, women
Today is a little different because I’m not pointing to a specific show or YouTube series, but a single video featuring a ridiculous amount of talent. Below is a diagram I created that demonstrates the audience who would most appreciate it:
Now allow me to do what I do and provide a little context. Continue reading
Posted in bizarreness, Comedy, Fame Day, internet, religion, technology, television, video games
Tagged Beastie Boys, Bender, Dan Castellaneta, Dead Ringer, Fox, Fry, Futurama, Gentlebot Hell, GLaDOS, Hell Is Other Robots, Leela, MisterMulluc, Robot Hell, S1E9, Source Filmmaker, Spy, team fortress 2, tf2, The Simpsons, Valve, video games, YouTube
EVAN: Two weeks ago our good friend Stew said:
You should write about indie game development and how it’s changing the industry.
And so, after avoiding the topic for a little while, here we are.
GORDON: For the sake of any readers who might not be familiar with what an “indie game” is, while definitions vary, the general consensus is that an “indie game” is any video game developed outside of the major/mainstream video game industry (sometimes called “Triple A”).
EVAN: A pretty good example of this would be Braid. A more well-known example that you’ve probably at least heard about [and that both Gordon and I have played a decent amount of] is Minecraft.
Posted in video games
Tagged Community, custom weapons, development, digital literacy, elder scrolls, fan, gaming, independent, indie game, indie games, minecraft, open source, skyrim, steam, studio, sugestion, team fortress 2, tf2, triple a, Valve, video game, video game development, video game industry, video gaming