Monday, October 5, 2009

World of Warcraft: Creating Identities since 2004

World of Warcraft brings back fond memories for me because it was not only fun, it was addictive. It was unlike any game that I have played before in terms of it being so unbelievably massive. Even though I am three years sober (yay me!) from playing this game that became like a drug to me, I still kind of miss it because of its way of shaping our way of thinking in the game. This can be tied to the article that we read for class in that in the game we not only create a character but also, we create a race, profession, and a barrier against the rival faction (GO HORDE!!! :D) It really affects what you do in the game because you are defined by not only your race but also, your group. You need to watch out for the Alliance (they suck!) because they are out to not only get you but also your entire faction, as well. This game really create barriers and forces one to notice their surroundings in order to know how to comport yourself within the game. This game was really my first true experience with learning how to forget all the "rules" that I knew in the real world and learn a new set of them that only applied to the game and its world.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

What a first day of playing video games in class! There was such intensity in trying to figure out what to do next that I thought the class was going to turn on each other. The first game that we played in class was Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.

In this game, You take control of The Prince, whose job is to recollect the Sands of Time, who was tricked by Vizier into scattering it throughout the region (India). The game is entertaining and fun to play because there are many puzzles in the game that must be solved in order for you to continue on your path to complete the game. Also, reversing time is pretty badass :D

If you step back from the awesomeness that is this game one can easily notice who really has the power in this game; the men. Men dominant not only the game but also, the characters in the game. The prince kills other men like they are nothing. The only female presence in the game is shown as very sexualized in her form. It is like any other game out there now. Women may be in it but they are always put together in a sexy way.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The King of them all...

-Sighs- G.T.A.

What can be said/written about a series that has produced more discussion than any game ever? Grand Theft Auto, for those of you who do not know, is game/series where pretty much anything goes. Your job is to steal, kill, and sometimes rape people to become the "top dog" in town. Every game in the series is like that except that each one takes place in different cities. The one that I will be focusing on is GTA Vice City, which takes place in Miami (shout out for the MIA!!! :D)

The game is set in beautiful Vice City in 1986. You take control of Tommy Vercetti, a Mafia hitman who just recently got released from prison. He comes to Vice City to buy cocaine for his former boss, Sonny. Like all cocaine deals, it goes wrong and people die. Tommy manages to escape and slowly, but surely, he starts to get more power and money as he gets hired to other people's dirty work. The game pretty much is identical to Scarface; even down to the end where Tommy must defend his mansion from being over run by thugs.

This game is very racially and ethnically controversial. Just like Miami, Vice City is divided into different sections of town with their own stereotypes. In the game, you can go to either Little Havana or Little Haiti. The both live up to the stereotypes of both the Cubans and the Haitians. You can go up to either group and attack them and they will yell at you in their naive language with their heavy accents. This drove both groups mad because they did not like the way that they were being portrayed in the game. This is understandable because the creators of the game, Rockstar, spared no mercy when it came to depicted both groups. There are even anti-Haitian and anti-Cuban phrases/slurs in the game. This game really holds no punches when it comes to continuing the trend of stereotypes in video games.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Culture of Power: The MGS Edition

Metal gear Solid is considered one of the best games of all-time. It helped the stealth game genre become very popular and was the inspiration for many to come like Splinter Cell and Hitman, where not being seen, is key, and sometimes, the main component of the game.

In Metal Gear Solid, you take control of one of the most beloved and greatest video game characters of all-time: Solid Snake.

Solid Snake is a former member of an elite group named FOXHOUND. His job is to infiltrate Shadow Moses Island, a nuclear weapons disposal facility in Alaska, and stop Liquid Snake, Snake's brother, and the current members of FOXHOUND from launching and activating Metal Gear Rex, a nuclear walking deterrent, if the remains of Big Boss, a legend mercenary, who also happens to be both Snake and Liquid's father, that Solid Snake stopped and killed in two previous missions, are not given to FOXHOUND. The game was the brainchild of Hideo Kojima, who is know seen as one of the greatest minds in terms of storyline and character development in the business.

Metal Gear Solid (A.K.A. MGS) may be one of the greatest games/series' of all-time but, it is not above criticism for its blatant use of sexism. Women are not in position of true power like Snake or his mission commander Roy Campbell. Snake has help via codec, a communication systems that is inserted in the ear like an ear piece, by a vast array of people but, most of them are women and most of them are sexualized.

Mei Ling is the Communications expert and is charge of saving your game. In addition to doing that, she also gives you motivational quotes throughout your mission as moral support. She is a sexy looking Chinese woman who Snake flirts with from time to time. Snake really likes her and will not pass up an opportunity to make her blush, which he does frequently. This shows that besides having Mei Ling there to save your game, she is there as eye candy to provide Snake with some -cough cough- physical entertainment as he is trying to fulfill his mission if you know what I mean :P

This is one example of many in MGS that show that women are not viewed as equals but as objects that are exploited for their skills and, sometimes, looks.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Future of Gaming...Unfortunately


David Cronenberg's movie, starring Jude Law and Jennifer Jason Leigh, is about Leigh's character, video game designer, Allegra Geller, who has created not only Existenz but also, other virtual reality games in which you must physically have a hole in your body, called a Bioport, which is made at the base of one's spine, in order to play her game(s). In the movie, if you don't have a Bioport you are considered "lame" and "out of the loop," because everyone has one and it is the cool thing to do. One night, Allegra is giving an exclusive testing of her new game, Existenz. While she is testing it out, there is an attempt on her life by some who opposes her, her field, and her games. Ted Pikul, played by Jude Law, is a marketing trainee who takes her away towards safety. Her Gamepod, this weird and disgusting living thing get damaged in the process. She needs have a second user to help her fix it but, since Ted does not have a biosport, she must get him one. After he gets a Bioport, they go inside Existenz and, what I initially thought was going to be an amazing experience, turns out to be mundane activities like shopping and working in an assembly line. All the game is everyday activities set in a virtual reality world. The world has become so boring that people rather do things that can be done in real life, in the confines of a virtual one. The weird thing about it is that all of Allegra and Ted's dialogue and actions, as well as everyone else in the game, is already prescripted. They have to go through the motions because that is what their character in the game is chosen to either say or do next. Eventually, we find out that the entire game was fake and that Allegra Geller and Ted Pikul were pretending to be other people in virtual reality at a beta testing session. The movie is a little bit trippy and psychological but, it gets into the topic of what is real or not when at the end of the movie, after Ted and Allegra get out of the game, kill the designer of the game (and his wife) that they were playing all the along in the movie. What they did in the game, they supposedly "did" when they got out of the game, but there is no way to know because if what we thought all along in the movie was real, and it did not turn out to be real, then whose to say the final scene say actually did happen. David Cronenberg is great at making movies that make us, humans, physically a part of something. He did it in The Fly, Videodrome, and Existenz. He is/was definitely ahead of his time in terms of seeing how the future may unfold.

The movie really did scare the bejesus out of me because I know that in our both extremely technologically dependant and craving society, what happened in the movie will eventually happen in our world. When there are people constantly pushing the envelope in terms of what we can do with technology, someone will, and there are signs of it already visible (Project Natal, create a video gaming system that is a part of one's body. I still cannot get that image of the gamepod outlet having to be licked to be inserting into the Bioport -shivers- that is so creepy and so, no pun intended, spine-tingling. Also, The movie is very sexualized in that sometimes the actually hole must be licked as a means of lubrication so that the outlet can go into the inlet. I sincerely hope that I am not around what those ideas finally come to fruition (2012 cannot get here soon enough :P).

As a hardcore game, I love video games, always have...always will, but I draw the line at it physically being a part of me. I love to try out all sorts of gaming experiences, like the Wii (which is really a novelty toy than an actual gaming console, but that is another discussion for another day) but having to have another hole in my body in order to the do the new "hip" thing is crazy. There will be people who will do it just based on the fact that it looks cool and its new but, those people, frankly, do not know how to breath. Thank you, but no thank you. I'll stick with my NES controller :D.