Is Dragon’s Crown Sexist? (Short Blog)

Is Dragon’s Crown really that controversial of a game? What, exactly, is wrong with the art style? Sitting here and listening to TotalBiscuit’s podcast, I’m stunned. I’ve seen coverage of the game on Destructoid, but I didn’t realize how bad the public image was.

For starters, I haven’t been the most accepting of people online. I typically over-react to situations and condemn developers for their indiscretions. Even this past weekend, I expressed how I was happy that Phil Fish was leaving the games industry.

Still, when I don’t have a problem with the sexual depiction of women in a game, you should probably come to the conclusion that nothing is wrong with the art style. I don’t care if you find fault with it, but I don’t really see the point.

It’s like we’re shouting at our own problems. In the past, I’ve typically lambasted things like Street Fighter and Dead or Alive because of how scantily clad the women are. The real issue: there were no women in my life to talk to.

About the only complaint I can hold up is unfair difficulty curves. Sometimes games just do not teach the player well enough. They Bleed Pixels is an example of such. The first 4 worlds have a steady increase in difficulty, but the last level is maddening.

Regardless, I think we, as adults, need to grow up a bit. Most of the debates come from how insensitive the depiction of women is and how they might traumatize our children. Since we have the power to buy the product, you can simply not buy the product.

That’s a startling revelation, I know. I truly believe, though, that we’re projecting our own failings onto gaming. There is always going to be a game that truly sucks, but if the only problem you can find in a game is how bad the art style is, why are you complaining so much?

It’s a valid complaint and I accept it as the reason you may not enjoy something, but it’s not the sole factor for deeming something as bad. Just because you disagree with something doesn’t mean it’s objectively bad.

My time watching Game Grumps has taught me more about how to view gaming. I even wrote a piece that focused on some aspects of Dust: An Elysian Tail that ruined the game for me. My opinion wasn’t based in hatred or even subjectivity.

When you can tangibly call out a feature of a game instead of relying on pure emotion, it feels great. It’s much better than throwing stones at self-conflict. Obviously your own investment counts for a lot, but I’m tired of reading opinions where the only negative is how uninvested someone is.

So, this blog is unfocused and probably totally off base. Regardless, I’m fed up with spreading hate and seeing hate. I just want us, as a global community, to stop being so entitled and righteous. Sometimes, we just need to have fun.

I may be completely unable to have fun, but dammit if I’m not going to spread cheer around!

I also must add, I don’t mind the Polygon review of Dragon’s Crown, which sparked the debate on the podcast. The reviewer, Danielle Riendeau, doesn’t focus on the supposed “sexism”. It’s just a minor thing that conveys her opinion to like-minded people. Just find another review to agree with!

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“Girlfriend Mode” My Ass!

Editor’s Note: To Gearbox’s credit, President Randy Pitchford seems pretty pissed about the whole situation. He took to Twitter stating “Borderlands 2 does NOT have a girlfriend mode. Anyone that says otherwise is misinformed or trying to stir up something that isn’t there… The future DLC Mechromancer class has a skill tree that makes it easier for less skilled coop partners (any gender!) to play and be useful.” Pitchford didn’t deny Hemingway’s statement, citing it as a “personal anecdote” and following with “there is no universe where Hemmingway is a sexist – all the women at Gearbox would beat his and anyone else’s ass.” But that still doesn’t change the fact that sexism continues to be an important issue in the gaming industry and culture as a whole.

Developers and stupid comments seem to be going hand in hand these days. First we get Crystal Dynamics shooting themselves in the foot and now we have Gearbox making asshats out of themselves. It’s insane to think how grown adults can’t figure out how to properly speak to journalists about their games.

Still, the most recent instance with Gearbox’s John Hemingway just does not make sense to me. Are the developers intentionally trying to not sell their product to women? When I first read the quick blip for Eurogamer’s article, I immediately thought of a mode where the female character would bond to one character and heal them.

Instead, the gaming world is now treated to something unintentionally sexist. To say that female gamers require additional assistance in their games is ludicrous. If the main idea was to appeal to significant others who are bad at video games, why not just label the mechanic as noob mode?

Still, I’m a white male and I’m getting outraged at something that doesn’t really impact me. I’ll never know what it’s like to be a woman and have people constantly harassing me, so I took to Twitter for some quick comments.

I asked my co-worker’s girlfriend and another co-worker of mine (the now infamous Jozie). Both play games and while they may not be experts or as hardcore as I am, they certainly can hold their own in terms of ability.

As you can clearly see, both aren’t too happy about Hemingway’s comment. While he may not be a ravenous sexist, he certainly is unfounded and ignorant. Just like the controversy over Dead Island and their “Feminist Whore” skill, developers need to realize that in-jokes aren’t funny to the masses and knocks against female stereotypes are unfounded and ridiculous.

To further drive the point home, an old friend of mine was quite the gamer. She couldn’t best me in Call of Duty or Gears of War, but she certainly wasn’t a slouch either. Gaming with her on “Hard Mode” wasn’t some futile attempt to make myself look better. She honestly was up for the challenge and liked not having the game be a cakewalk.

I’ve also known quite a few female workers from local GameStop’s that are interested in some pretty awesome stuff. My best friend Jim’s old boss loved “Dark Souls,” a game that makes most grown men cry. This very lovely girl, Jen, was a huge fan of Fable and Call of Duty and she used to ask me pointers on how to get better, instead of cowering in fear of harder difficulties.

I also recall of two twins who were gigantic Pokémon fans. While that may not be the most daunting of titles to topple, just having the sheer dexterity to finish any of those titles is a pretty monumental accomplishment. I’ve only ever beaten two Pokémon games and I sink hundreds of hours into each.

My point is I don’t understand why developers are still treating women like unskilled peons. According to ESRB polls, around 40% of gamers are women. If you total up all sales of the previous “Borderlands” (as presented by VGChartz.com), you get about 4.55 million copies. Imagine if 40% did not buy the sequel. You’d sell close to 2 million copies less.

That is something that Gearbox probably doesn’t want to face. Sadly, they may see a pretty big decline come September. Borderlands didn’t have the easiest start of any new IP, but it did well on the charm of its gameplay and word of mouth from gamers.

If the new word of mouth is that Gearbox is a bunch of sexist idiots, maybe Borderlands 2 won’t sell so well. While I can’t predict what will happen, I will say that developers need to start treating their potential customers a lot better.

Enough of the bullshit where women apparently suck or that being offended is solely your fault. Start thinking about what you say and maybe I’ll give a shit about your work. Until then, you’ve lost a prospective customer.

Cate Archer isn’t pleased.

Has Gaming Negatively Impacted Me?

While I can attribute gaming to a lot of positive growths in my life, there is a thought that has been lingering in my mind pretty recently; has gaming made me socially awkward? Due to a few recent arguments and events in my life, I’m beginning to wonder if my favorite hobby has taken a very negative effect on my life.

While I can’t really remember a lot of significant moments from my elementary school life, I do remember that I socialized with some of the neighborhood kids. There was one kid that was a close friend, but I didn’t really bond with anyone else in a meaningful way. When I didn’t have anyone else, I turned to my NES.

This sort of attitude followed me through middle school. I made one fantastic friend and the other people were just there. I hung out with this kid a lot and we even introduced each other to some of our previous friends, but those relationships fell through and we went back to each other. When we couldn’t find others, we would turn to our PS2’s.

High was the worst time for me as I couldn’t figure out how to approach anyone. I certainly made some friends, but they led me down improper paths and set me up for suspensions and an eventual arrest. When I was at my saddest and contemplating death, I would turn to my PC or Xbox.

I can’t help but think my utter pessimism and negativity are attributed to gaming. During all the periods in my life where I couldn’t find someone to talk to, I would look to a television screen for entertainment. Friends were something that could wait because I had a world to save.


I wish I had this kind of place to seclude myself to.

Even college was no different. My first year was an utter mess. I never spoke to anyone but my roommate; I never left my room to participate in school functions; I was never invited by my dorm mates for any kind of festivities. During that period, I had my 360 to keep me occupied and out of sadness.

Gaming is a hobby I love to death, but is it possible that it’s a way for me to deal with my own inner sadness? Did I always find more comfort in gaming because it wouldn’t judge me? Did my lack of any kind of achievements in my youth keep me glued to the TV? Was saving a fictional world my way of validating myself?

Now, being 23, I have no idea how to approach people anymore. I don’t have opportunities to meet anyone at class as I’m no longer a student. Work is a waste because everyone is far too young to relate to. The few friends that I do have there, I’m petrified to actually hang out with.

The biggest problem to me, though, is my inability to relate to women. I’m not sure if it’s because my only source of knowledge on the opposite sex is from watching character study films and playing games, but I really haven’t the slightest clue on how to properly appeal to females.

To date, I’ve only ever asked three women if they’d like to go out with me. I’d never had the courage other than with some friends, but my relationships immediately dissolved when I brought my feelings forward.


This is how it always ends…

I used to have a pretty decent group of friends, but some problems occurred to me and I severed myself from them. While that is mostly my own fault, I really have no way to connect with them again. I feel ashamed of how I represented myself to them and I don’t want them to judge me as an outsider.

In the past year of my life, it’d be foolish of me to say that I haven’t met anyone. I’ve been to various bars and clubs and I’ve met quite the eclectic bunch of people while working, but there isn’t a single other person to whom I’ve spoken my mind. My conversations consist of asking someone if they want paper or plastic or talking about which drink I’d like.

This blog isn’t meant to be a plea for attention, but just something I want to address. While we certainly all love gaming, there is a point where enough to enough. I believe I’ve finally reached that limit and now my life is suffering for it.

I suppose I do have my health and I am employed in an economy that most people would call “desperate,” but lacking other minds to mingle with is a problem I’ve constantly faced throughout my life. I wouldn’t wish this upon anyone else and I hope that any teenagers reading this take the time to really connect with their peers.

I may not be able to turn myself around, but hopefully getting these thoughts out of my head will help people change. Don’t look down on the social pariahs or the awkward people at work; everyone just wants a hand to hold or a heart to meld with.

Something About Sex: Get Out

Sex is one of the most powerful industries in the modern world. Sex conquers nearly every piece of media that it enters. There are entire books dedicated to the subject. Most of the 70’s Classic Rock output consisted of songs written to purely evoke a sexual tension. A sub-genre of film was created to simply showcase the act.

But what does that mean for videogames? Simply that in the future, we will more than likely see games that are only sex … actually, that’s already happened. The better question is how do I feel about sex in my videogames?

To lay the ground work for my real-life counterpart, sex is something that frightens me. I was born and raised a Catholic boy, a title that I am now pretty ashamed of. My parents always told me, “You keep it in your pants!” and, “Think with your brain at all times!”

To further complicate the matter, girls have never truly liked me. I became infatuated with the idea of a woman in middle school, but I never confronted her with my lust. When I got to high school, depression set in and I was often simply thinking of ending my life.

Eventually I met a very colorful character and fell for her. She spoke of all the ridiculous acts she had done and I became very intrigued as to how people can simply fornicate and not have the act take any kind of impact on their character. She teased me with ideas of us being together and it simply led to me loosing a very good friend and blaming it on sex.

To me, sex is something that just ruins my life. I can sit at home at night and browse various Web sites for some kind of fetish, but it just makes me feel sick. Why and how do people commit these acts so freely (granted I am basing this off of the sick view of the Internet)?

On to the real answer: what do I feel about it in my games? I think it really has no place in the interactive medium (and Heavy Rain proves me right). Videogames often do not have sex as a means of dissecting what it can do to the human psyche. They are simply trying to sell an image that the largest demographic (Males 18-34) will eat up.

I have not seen one instance of sexual tension in a videogame that truly warranted it. When strong female characters are created in games, they often lack over-sexualized features. I find the strangest females attractive because their personalities are what intrigue me, not their “assets.”

When strong male characters are created, we almost have an inverse of the female philosophy. They are given rugged good looks or sophisticated voices and are knights of the greatest valor. The women are often shown as sexual icons in the light of evil. Their desires are meant to evoke some kind of negative feeling out of you, or a purely sexual tension that is talked down upon.

The males are shown as either having no sexual desire whatsoever or as disgusting pigs who only want sex. No middle ground exists to say, “I enjoy being with you and want to express my love.” We simply have, “NIKO, MY COUSIN. BIG AMERICAN TEETEES!”



Mass Effect
tries to prove me wrong on this matter. Shepard is not a sexual deviant, but in the same instance he can be. The paths you choose in that game can lead Shepard to cause great discomfort to the other females he courts (or males if your choice is female Shepard).

Mostly any BioWare game has some kind of romance that leads to sex. My question is, “What does this really result in?” Is there a true purpose for the sexual act or is the game just trying to create a world that feels immersive?

Fighting games are at least the most blatant about their sexual references. Games like Dead or Alive know that sex is the main reason most people will play, but they don’t only flaunt the sex. You have a very satisfying fighting game built first and then character designed to be visual eye candy. It may not be very courteous to women, but at least you know that the sole intention is sex.

Street Fighter even has women with barely any clothing — Just look at Cammy or Elena. There is no sensible way you can tell me that wearing no pants makes you a better soldier or that the reason you are wearing what is conceivably a swimsuit is because you live in an impoverished country. You were just designed to be sexualized.

I haven’t experienced a game that gives me the option of sex that actually makes good use of it. It just seems to exist as a purely voyeuristic way for gamers to get their rocks off. I’m not sure if it’s the industry pegging us as worthless nerds or not, but it certainly has no belonging in the medium.

Until our industry matures to the point where story lines and characters can be taken seriously, I will never accept sex in my games. It doesn’t enhance my experience and it certainly does not add to any kind of gameplay department.