Steam Sale: 7 Games for your Girlfriend

Two things I hear from my gaming male friends often are “I can’t find a girl that games!” and “How can I get my girlfriend to play video games?”. Steam is currently having a huge blow-out sale on hundreds of video games for the Mac/PC until July 4th, and with prices cheaper than a trip to the movies, there is no better time to get your lady a video game.

I’ve compiled a list of games the ladies would enjoy despite being unfamiliar with the whole video game genre. These are also the best of the cheapest, because when a game is less than $10, how can your girlfriend get turned off by the price?

In order of ascending difficulty:

1. Osmos, for $4.99

This game is the exact opposite of those “damn noisy shooters” you like to play and is perfect for the lady who has limited to no experience with video games. As the above video demonstrates, this game is as close to a yoga session for your brain as it gets. You have to be patient, flying through space in your quest to eat other orbs. The saying “Good things come to those who wait” is applicable in describing Osmos game play. You have to stay calm and move slowly, or risk colliding into a bigger orb that will eat you. Despite this games simplicity, the levels do get a bit harder as you progress through the game; there is some sort of challenge (I moved too fast and flew into the sun a couple of times).

You can play Osmos for as short increments of time as 5 minutes (a level), and feel satisfied.

2. Blueberry Garden for $4.99:

If you’re looking to get out of seeing another bizarre European indie film, get your gal this game instead. Designed by a Swede, this beautiful and quirky game reminds me more of an interactive art piece than a video game. Don’t be fooled: there is a goal in this game, not made evident by the above trailer.  If Ebert played this game he would give up his silly notion that video games are not an art form. Bobbie Johnson, from the UK Guardian, described this game as ” a dainty piece of indie magic”: “I almost wanted to put it in a ribbon-wrapped box with a kitten and cry a little”.

Blueberry Garden is more fast paced than Osmos and Machinarium.

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Video game industry still doesn't understand women

Alison Carroll, the official Lara Croft model ...

Image via Wikipedia

I just read this article over on G4tv.com by Kevin Kelly titled “Sex in the City 2: Gaming with the Girls“. I think the article was aiming to be a list of games you can get your girlfriend, who is a Sex in the City fanatic (hence the title). The games listed in the article aren’t half bad, except for the “soulless” Imagine: Fashion Designer, and Kelly wrote the article in an attempt to be humorous but happened to fail miserably. I know I shouldn’t get offended at Kelly’s attempt at humor, but Kelly wrote in exactly the way the gaming industry views women, a view that is insanely offensive considering  we now make up more than 40% of the gaming population.

Any female I know that happens to like Sex in the City already plays video games. What video games do they play? At least some sort of web- based puzzle game when they are at work,  and another normal game on their Wii, Xbox, DS or PC. The rest of the women I know that like Sex in the City are 40 and above, and are already playing some Bejeweled-type game online, which is, surprise, also A PUZZLE GAME.

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Are female exclusive gaming clans anti-women?

Imagine Dream Weddings: girl-game comes with f...

All female gaming clans are the reason they make games like this one: Image by gruntzooki via Flickr

I have long puzzled over the validity of  “all female” gaming clans… and as more young ladies get involved in the competitive gaming industry, more and more all female gaming clans are popping up. The following is a rant of ideas that have been around since 2006.

I understand women feel the need to band together as the video game industry is male dominated and women can feel marginalized,  and granted, some male gamers are still shocked to find a girl gamer online, but that novelty is disappearing as more and more women play video games. There is no need to segregate competitive clans based on gender, and  exclusively female clans hurts the female gamer in the long run.  It is already hard enough to be a female gamer, from the cracks at my voice sounding like a 12 year old, to all the close-up porn sprays I am subjected to, that the idea of me asking for special attention because of the genitalia between my legs is just mind-blowing. I just want some R-E-S-P-E-C-T,  nothing more, nothing less.  I just want to be a person that plays games. I don’t want to be a novelty.

By having the female gamers separate from the males in competitive gaming clans, you are asking that the females in the gaming world be treated differently.  By asking that females be treated differently, you are perpetuating the myth that women in gaming is a novelty, and is something special.  By having an all female gaming clan, you identify yourself as the other, as the outsider, and how can you ever be fully integrated into the gaming community if you wish to remain in your gender-based group? It doesn’t happen.  All female gaming clans, while sounding good initially, just make it worse, especially when you never hear of them winning a single tournament (or maybe that is the gaming media’s fault?).

(Side note: why does it matter how good these ladies look, any way? Shouldn’t their skills matter more than their appearance? These gaming clans are marketing themselves to women, not men, so why all the revealing pictures? I’d rather join a clan where everyone was dressed like a classy lady, thank you very much.  Is this why females have yet to win any major titles? I don’t see competitive male gamers being judged on both their appearance and gaming skills, so why do women need to prove that they are hot AND a good gamer? Hot women who play video games are not a novelty any more, sorry.  If over 50% of us play games now, chances are, many of us are attractive.)

I can’t think of a clan that claims to be all male (it happens by default), so why are there all-female clans? It’s not like the competitive gaming community has different categories for male and female gamers, right? Competitive gaming is not the Olympics in the physical sense, so we ladies don’t need separate teams…the sooner we are integrated the sooner we will gain respect in the community.  If women ever want to be treated like normal human beings in the gaming community, they have to start acting like it.  Female gamers need to get into the habit of viewing themselves as plain ol’ ordinary gamers, not OMG “girl gamers” in need of their own special “girl gamer” clan.

If I see one more profile with the words “I’m a hot girl gamer, deal with it!” or another attention whore-y profile (I get it, you’re insecure!) next time I log on I think I will riot. Somewhere. On the internet.   Or maybe I just don’t understand, because I am no longer a teenager and I don’t play with teenagers…..


11 reasons why you should download Portal today

The box art for the PC version of Portal.

Image via Wikipedia

Hey all you PC gamers! Today is the last day to download Portal for free! Portal’s freeness is the MAIN reason you should download the game today, but if “free” isn’t enough to entice you, I’ve comprised my own list for why Portal rocks, in no particular order.

10. It is the most unconventional puzzle game you will ever play (well, until the rumored Portal 2).

9. How many puzzle games have you played where inertia was a key feature in solving puzzles? None! Because Portal is one of the most original games you will ever play.

8. The two main  characters in the game are female; both you and the robot who guides you.

7. The writing is insanely witty… from the dialogue to the story line. How can a puzzle game have such good writing? Play it, and find out.

6. The game is about portals!!!…. you make portals, you walk through them, you end up in a different location.  It is mind blowing.

5. Want to know where the origin of “The cake is a lie” meme came from? Portal! What other game is good enough to have a meme?

4. This ending song: [youtubevid id=”Y6ljFaKRTrI”]

3. The game only takes you a couple hours to beat, but replay value (radio transmission achievement) is high.

2. The controls are easy to figure out, even if you are not used to the first person perspective in video games.

1. Portal has won numerous awards (ahem, 70!) and received more praise than my beloved Team Fortress 2.


Surprise! Size matters in a porno video game

ESRB "Adults Only 18+" rating symbol...

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I would first like to clarify that I did not play the entire game, just the demo (I am not about to pay for a porn video game, thank you very much). I would also like to mention that I have never played a porn video game, or an “action adventure porno game” before in my life.  We live in a world where a good chunk of our population plays video games, or watches porn, so it is only a matter of time before someone combined the two: hence,  Bonetown.

Even though the game came out in 2008, I found the cartoony ‘Bonetown’ the other day when this article was on the front page of digg. Other outlets have written about how “morally depraved”  Bonetown is, or how offensive the game is on a variety of different levels, so I am not going to go there in this post. Writes Jessica Wakeman over on The Frisky:

“Bonetown” touts itself as “the world’s first action adventure porno video game,” but it’s more like thoughts from the internet’s most ignorant trolls set to animation. You know, the trolls who think racism and sexism have been “solved” so it’s really hilarious to perpetuate stereotypes about minorities and women.

via ‘Bonetown: “The World’s First Action Adventure Porno Game

Bonetown is supposed to take place in some GTA universe, where everyone is running around drunk, stoned, or both, and you have sex right on the street. Because I was playing the demo, I was confined to this small area around a beach (here is some very NSFW gameplay in a trailer park that I did not have access to), and I quickly learned the world map. (The only building I was allowed to enter in the demo kept crashing my PC.)  I spent my time running around beating up Asian tourists or stoners and sexing up fat ladies.

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Why can't console and PC gamers get along?

Computer Workstation Variables

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There is a popular image up on reddit as I type this, discussing the perceived snobbery PC gamers have towards console gamers. You can find the pros and cons for each gaming system in the comments, and the conversation has been enlightening.

What I believe to be the  biggest reason for all the animosity is the age difference, though no “redditer” has explicitly mentioned this. Console gamers are younger, and more prone to freaking out if they hear a female gamer or a male that sounds gay.  Console gamers are also more likely to shout profanities, behave like bigots or put up porn as their sprays, because, they are after all only 14. Why would someone in their 20’s want to subject themselves to such foolish behavior? My experience with Xbox Live has been brief, and to all the girls that do speak into their mics, I commend you, and don’t know how you do it with out a voice changer.

Reddit user beatnik11 touched on my point:

There is no denying that there are idiots and assholes who are PC gamers, but on a whole its far far far worse on console games. Really, just step into xbox live and play some MW or Halo and before you blink you are going to start hearing little kids act out the worst 4chan has to offer, but instead of being just normal people who are trolling for fun, these kids really are a cancer and are not mature enough to understand the value of respect.

I think being a PC gamer and knowing how to connect more than 4 wires and understanding what is in your machine tends to lead those who are older and more mature and these sorts of people are much more enjoyable to play with. I can go on TF2 [Team Fortress 2] all day long and never have to experience some 14 year old who thinks they are edgy and cool being a racist misogynistic bigot, got on MW2 [Modern Warfare 2] however and its a different story.

Games have been around since the 80’s, so is it really that surprising that the “aging” gaming population spends more time on their PCs? “Grown-ups” already have a computer, so why shell out additional money for a console when you don’t have to?  Every time I got a console, I got it as a gift, and I assume many Xbox Live or PS3 boys and girls also received their systems as gifts.

So, when did it become a crime to play with my age group? 


Gender issues in video games

I read Katharine Fletcher’s piece “Confessions of a Call of Duty girl: Women in Games today” with my usual omg-article-about-girl-gaming zeal. Fletcher’s piece was interesting for a couple of reasons:

First,  Fletcher admits that she probably got her job because she was female, and that is perfectly acceptable, and understandable in the gaming industry. If you have been reading my blog, you should all know that women gamers make up about 40% of the gaming population (includes casual gamers), yet we are severely under represented, and if we are represented, it is in an overtly sexual way.  Case in point, Fletcher mentions Alex Sim- Wise, the NSFW model and game columnist. While I am not saying she should not take her clothes off to make more money off horny virgin males, it doesn’t really help us gamer ladies be taken seriously.  And, her nakedness, while strictly meant for the males, is potentially a big turn off for women who might be interested in gaming. That’s just my “feminist” two- cents popping out to say hello…. and this video below, narrated by a male, says everything I could possibly say on the subject.

[youtubevid id=”R8ZVZRsy8N8″]

Second, when talking about the cancellation of Women In Games, Fletcher wonders why the conference couldn’t sell enough tickets. I never even heard about the Women In Games conference until news broke that it was canceled this year. Ouch. Well, gaming media is male dominated, and I don’t see much effort being put by the gaming media to reach out to women, so the fact that I never heard about the conference isn’t a surprise.

Could it be that, as with third-wave feminism, the embracing of diversity of viewpoints and lack of a single unified cause is harder to promote?

via Confessions of a Call of Duty girl: Women in Games today

Third,  I wonder if the apathetic attitudes and the mis-notion of feminism as being about women over men and not about equals is a British issue, because the ladies over here in America just want some R-E-S-P-E-C-T. I don’t think the goal of gender blindness is reasonable, because let’s face, we’re all animals at heart, all motivated by sex.  Mutual respect should be our the top priority, but we’re a long way from that….

When it comes to women in the gaming industry, sexually charged conversation is the dominate voice. When male gamers ask to see your boobs, or why you don’t have a sexy picture of yourself as your avatar, they do it because they don’t respect you as a person, and view you as a sexual piece of meat, even if they won’t consciously admit this. But hey, those males don’t know any better, because there aren’t other opinions or behaviors in that subculture, right? Have they been conditioned to behave this way?

I agree with Fletcher wholeheartedly, the more voices in gaming, about gaming, the better. I would think the notion of “many voices”  would be easier to promote….