Inadvertent sexism in the outrage over Lara Croft rape attempt!

A conceptual render of Lara Croft in Tomb Raid...

A conceptual render of Lara Croft in Tomb Raider. She wields a bow, pistol and climbing axe. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In case you can’t tell from the title, in the latest Tomb Raider installment (and reboot!) the lead female almost gets raped by her captors. This made a shit ton of people mad, and while their intentions were good, the outcome was ultimately…worse.

The game designers explained this rape attempt was to make Croft, who is known for being a gun-toting bad-ass, more “vulnerable” and “human,” perhaps thinking society could finally have a rational discussion about rape.  Boy were they mistaken, judging by the online reaction!  (Which incidentally led to a  detracted statement that could easily be construed as a silencing attempt, almost mirroring the aftermath an actual rape victim would find themselves in.)

The online reaction was the typical knee-jerk foaming-at-the-mouth feminist “oh my god how could they do this to my favorite female hero and literally one of the only few strong female hero’s” arguments. And it was especially nice to see the men wringing their digital hands louder than any one else.

But how often has a video game tackled rape? And have they ever approached the subject in even as remotely delicate of a manner as the latest Tomb Raider?

The answer is a no, again easily answered by the level of outrage.

Mic Wright wrote in the Kernel, “I don’t remember Master Chief ever being anally raped to help us empathise with him more.” Helen Lewis also compared Croft to the male Halo franchise hero in the New Statesman: “Bungie didn’t think that the only way players would root for Master Chief was by having him raped.”

I don’t know how Wright or Lewis can be confused, but in case you dear reader are too, I’d like to take this moment to point out to you that Master Chief is a man, and Lara Croft is a woman.

And not only that, but, RAPE is one of those weird sexual things men have been doing to women since the dawn of time.

The Hebrew Muslim and Christian god condoned and advocated using rape as a weapon of war in the Old Testament, and armies to this day still use it as as demoralizing tool all over the world. Even military contractors and soldiers in modern war zones still rape women, and they even rape  women who are not their enemies but their comrades-in-arms.

Recent statistics for rape in the United States put a sexual  assault or rape at every two minutes, and 1/6 of the female population in America will be raped, or fight off a rapist in her lifetime. Globally, one in every five women will be raped. But you didn’t come here to read rape statistics, and if you’re bored by all those numbers, sorry. I just thought I had to note them, because I laughed when Kellie Foxx-Gonzales wrote, NOT IRONICALLY, on The Mary Sue:

“The responsibility is wholly upon her to protect herself, it is not upon the scumbag rapists who are trying to hurt her. “

Duh, Kellie. Do you not know how rape happens? Women usually have to protect themselves alone, from the men attacking them. And rapists are generally scumbags. That’s why they’re rapists!

Not to keep picking on Kellie from The Mary Sue, but she went on to say rape shouldn’t be in any video game because she’s “had enough of that in real life.”

Great. So now we can’t talk about rape because it happens too much? I thought one of the biggest problems with rape was that people don’t talk about it enough: the crime doesn’t always get reported, etc. Read the rest of this entry »


Gamers have an Image Problem

Abstract: This image problem is rooted in a failure by the mainstream media (and film) to treat video games as an acceptable pastime, making gaming “a dirty word“, and perpetuating the notion that women shouldn’t have authorship over technology around them. The male gaming community is only partially responsible, and this will be discussed in a subsequent post. This post was formulated after analyzing video game coverage by major female-oriented publications and by my personal memory of video game scenes in movies.

“One of the things we were trying to combat with 3G was how girls are discouraged from learning anything about technology beyond how to use it, [not] to be responsible or have a form of authorship with it.” - Terence Hannum, Internship and External Relations Coordinator at Columbia College

Any female in her 20′s that plays video games knows gaming has an image problem. Not only does the community you play in make you feel unwelcome a la the blog “Fat, Ugly or Slutty“,  your parents find your enjoyment of video games off-putting, as do 30-somethings co-workers. I’ve had more than one conversation at slightly older dinner parties become painfully awkward when I mention I like/want to write about video games. The women scan the room and decide it is time to mingle. Then I am left with some guy, and as the silence continues between us, I begin to question his intentions. Sometimes I can see this male have an OMG-GIRL-GAMER-freak-out moment, all in the eyes, and when it abides he hesitantly remarks I must be the male gamer fantasy or some other weird crap.  Then I decide it is time to mingle.

My mom keeps thinking I will grow out of my love of video games. She is not impressed when I tell her I am laying down plumbing because my city’s population explosion is  forcing me to expand my city limits.

There is a common thread behind these awkward interactions: people born before the 80′s view video games as either a waste of time or a childish hobby. How can that be, when video games have been around for 30 years  - and adults now play video games and teachers use video games as part of their curriculum? Read the rest of this entry »


Balancing the Budget is Easy

Will Congress balance the budget? Will there be a government shut-down? Are we going to rob from the rich to give to the poor, or are we going to rob from the poor to give to the rich? Are we going to become communists? Are we going to become corporate fascists? Are we all going to die? 

Every time I feel myself getting sucked into the media hysteria that is the budget deficit, I go back to an interactive deficit puzzle  created presumably by the New York Times economics columnist David Leonhardt in November of last year.

This interactive deficit puzzle has soothed me many times, and each time I begin the puzzle, I am reminded of how simple and effective it is. I can balance the budget without hurting the elderly or the poor, and upon balancing the budget, I am left feeling joyful. My euphoria only lasts for a few minutes though, because in completing Leonhardt’s puzzle, I am left wondering why the budget has taken months to balance when I can balance it in less than five minutes… has every member of Congress sat down and used a tool like this?

I know all those fogies in Congress probably don’t remember anything from their last economics class, so maybe a puzzle/tool/application like Leonhardt’s  would be most helpful in getting these elected officials to think about budget deficit concepts in terms of money and not social agenda.  Leonhardt’s project breaks down US spending and tax areas in concise and understandable language, and with its point and click format, even new computer-using Congressmen can understand how to solve the deficit.

Can’t the Speaker of the House and Joe Biden send out a mass e-mail to all Congressmen demanding everyone use Leonhardt’s interactive puzzle before the next session? That mass e-mail should close with a line something like… “Any elected official that refuses to use Leonhardt’s puzzle because it is on the New York Times site will be barred from the floor.”

Lucien Moore House in ruins

^^ If the rest of the United States looks like this, I just might move to Canada. Collecting firewood is only fun the first couple of times… ^^

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Crysis 2 has broken my heart

Crysis 2

poor poor NYC…  Image via Wikipedia

I never download anything the day it becomes available, as it requires discussion (I currently share a video gaming machine with my boyfriend). Nevertheless, the Crysis 2 demo was downloaded and I didn’t even have to pitch it.

I had a great time with Crysis, and it was the demo that originally sold me on the game. I especially became adept at firing on enemy targets with the assault weapon attached to a boat. My whole strategy for attacking this encampment by the water involved this boat (think to the tune of this song).   I have good memories of the first demo, so saying I was excited is an understatement.

Then we went away to Florida for 6 days.  The demo was not played.

Upon returning from vacation on the 25th, what is found? The Crysis 2 demo is multiplayer, and only available to play from March 15th to March 22nd. If you try to play the demo after March 22nd, there are no servers available for you to play on. What kind of marketing madness is this??? Sure, this limited demo-play generates buzz, and Crysis 2 demo players get another reason to feel all superior, but what about me? I am left heartbroken and the high interest of  paying $60 has dissipated.

The void was filled by Neverwinter Nights 2 and all the expansion packs….


Why Crysis 2 is better than Call of Duty: Black Ops

No competition, really.


In bed with Canadians

Illustration for "The Black Cat" by ...

Image via Wikipedia

Check me out! The web-based literature, arts and culture magazine Zouch has taken a shine to me. They reblogged my “Civilization 5 offends my Hungarian sensibilities” post here.

Their website is pretty… and they also accept poetry and short stories!

And, so what if they are Canadian – if I plan on achieving global dominance, I must start somewhere, right?

Also, Hungarians love Canada for some reason. When my family was waiting around in Italy and being interviewed by the US Embassy to make sure we weren’t Soviet spies, we thought long and hard about going to Canada instead – almost every other refugee we were friends with moved there.


I’ve been in three separate publications in the last 24 hours

The god Woden, after whom 'Wednesday' was name...

Wednesday was named after this god ^^^ Image via Wikipedia

….and it wasn’t because I submitted any articles!

First, I was quoted in the Tribune’s RedEye on an article about female gamers….

Eordogh, a freelance video game writer, said she used to play PC games under the screen name “Laser Kitty,” but changed it to “Laser Gandalf” because of the perverted or sexualized comments she’d receive from male players who concluded she was female.

“When I play online, I get a lot of comments like ‘Show me your boobs,’ ” Eordogh said. “If a girl wants to be sexy, that’s fine, but I wish I wasn’t held to the same standards. I just want to play games, not be stereotyped.”

- “Play girls: the life of a female gamer in Chicago“, by Ryan Smith

I say something else too, but I want you to click the link. I made sure to get 2 hard copies of the RedEye yesterday.

And it was brought to my attention this morning, that there is a photo of me on the Huffington Post under an article titled Ladies Love Rahm. The photograph was taken on Saturday when I got to ask Rahm Emanuel a softball question. An internet/twitter colleague found the photo in the AP database. To see a larger version of the picture, click here.

UPDATED:

And, a photo of me is on Gawker as well! (With Rahm Emanuel of course)


Civilization 5 offends my Hungarian sensibilities

This post was written on a horse, while reading about Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary.

I understand Americans learn very little of Eastern Europe, so I don’t hold it against Civilization 5 for making Budapest a city-state instead of an actual civilization.  Sure sure, it hurts, but Americans get such lousy education these days  I can’t expect the Firaxis team to know that Hungary is one of the oldest  and best countries in Europe.

What I absolutely cannot dismiss, for its outright heart-piercing egregious nature, is the kind of city-state Budapest is: …militaristic. How is it that Bucharest, of Romania, is a “cultured city”, but Budapest is not? What has Bucharest contributed to the world?

Read the rest of this entry »


A Brief Explanation Of Why Minecraft Matters (via TechCrunch)

This is the first time I am trying out this “reblog” option on WordPress.

Second, I own this game. I don’t know if I can recommend “recommend” it, because of the bugs, and the visual style is not pleasing to me….

However!!!
I purchased this game, with my own money. I did not get it as a gift, or through “illegal” means…. I hardly buy things, and I don’t purchase any ol’ game on a whim, yet I purchased Minecraft, and early enough so that I am an “Alpha buyer” (free updates, bitches!!!).

So, I think that is a pretty fucking good recommendation right there as to the ingenuity and “game-changing” importance of this game. Devin Coldewey writes it well below:

A Brief Explanation Of Why Minecraft Matters On Wednesday, it was announced that a game called Minecraft had hit a million sales. This probably isn’t the first time that you, a denizen of the internet, have heard that word. But unless you’re in the habit of following up on every mention of every indie game you happen to see, there’s a good chance this particular title might have slipped under your radar. So what is this Minecraft, and why is everyone talking about it? And more importantly, … Read More

via TechCrunch


Interview with Chicago’s Indie Video Game Darling, Erin Robinson

Hey folks!

If you haven’t seen it yet, check out this piece I did for Gapers Block! The lovely and artistic Erin Robinson was a great interviewee.  An excerpt to get you salivating:

How did you make the switch from wanting to become a psychology professor to being a video game developer?

I was working in a lab and at one point the professor who I was working under called me into his office and said, “It’s clear to me that there’s something else you’re rather be doing.” And I said, “Oh, I guess you’re right,” and I went home and worked on my game. That’s all I could talk about.

Originally when I started making games, I didn’t tell any one that I was designing games — I thought it was super geeky and a lot of my friends didn’t even know. Even the people I was drawing cartoons with — cartoons are fine, but video games?


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