Archive for category Reid McCarter
There are women living in the ramshackle settlements of Metro: Last Light‘s post-apocalyptic subway system. There may not be quite as many of them as there are men, but they are there. Unfortunately, they are characterized in a drastically different manner than the male population of the Moscow ruins. Aside from the stray soldier, developer 4A Games portrays the women and girls of their world as either mothers or whores — or some combination of both.
Guacamelee! is, from top to bottom, a pastiche. A truly postmodern game, it is in love with the kind of cultural shorthands that have long since replaced first-hand interpretations of real people, places and even game design principles. Nothing in it seems like it comes from a place of total originality. Instead, the various elements of Guacamelee! come from both archetypal videogames and depictions of the game’s Mexican setting.
Why, then, does it somehow feel like its own worthwhile creation?
Please finish playing Bioshock Infinite before reading. This article contains plot details.
“Our only safety depends upon the total extermination of the Indians. Having wronged them for centuries, we had better, in order to protect our civilizations, follow it up by one more wrong and wipe these untamed and untamable creatures from the face of the earth.”
- L. Frank Baum, Editor of The Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer/author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz on January 3, 1891
In the last days of the year 1890 the 7th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army massacred approximately 300 unarmed Lakota Natives (including some 200 women and children) in what would be one of the last in a long line of violent encounters between colonial and Native Americans. The Wounded Knee Massacre, in its encapsulation of the nascent U.S’ historic racism and unchecked brutality toward the land’s Native population, is one of the most indelible stains on the complicated tapestry of American identity.
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Irrational Games, after exploring the inevitable horrors of unregulated capitalism in Bioshock, would come to another such instrumental aspect of the American psyche in their latest release, Bioshock Infinite.
Epic Games’ and People Can Fly’s 2011 shooter, Bulletstorm, will likely never see a sequel. Twenty years from now when I’m an old man babbling about how videogames used to be when I was young (and things were better, goddammit) the young kids will probably never know that there was ever something called Bulletstorm. They will think me a sad, over the hill geriatric who lives in a world of confused nostalgia where a massive publisher like Electronic Arts would take a chance on a strange, colourful and crude little shooter that was so atypical of the videogame landscape at the time.
It did happen, though. Bulletstorm was created, marketed, released and, in its own modest way, purchased. And in its reality there are many lessons we must take away from its lack of success — from its inability to change the way that first-person shooting games were made and bought in and around the early 2010s.
Read on, savvy industry folks and ensure that you never make the same dreadful mistakes that sank the foul-mouthed shooter that could.
The view shifts to “instinct mode” and everything is rendered in slow motion. As I was trained to do in an instinct mode tutorial, I make Agent 47 line up a series of careful head shots that include the assassination target. Two seconds later the game jumps to a pre-rendered cinematic. Agent 47, scowling like someone on the toilet who has only ever eaten cheese, loses sight of the girl he means to rescue. He punches his victim and takes his car keys. The wounded man, having just been shot through the skull a second ago, is bleeding from a chest wound. The game has had me tracking this man for quite a while and, despite the setback of the kidnapping, I might be about to receive some valuable information about 47 and the story as a whole. I am meant to feel like all of this is part of an important moment in the game’s grand tale of redemption.
“I’ve got wood,” the target coughs out.
47 turns away and as the screen fades to black the dying man finishes the last sentences he will ever speak before shuffling free this mortal coil.
“Why do I have wood?”
Jesus fucking Christ, IO Interactive. What are you doing?
Over time most non-Native North Americans, born in the continent after generations have eroded the lines of their family immigration, come to realize that the place they call home is not really their home at all — that it is in fact land stolen from the people indigenous to it. This, for me at least, was a pretty unsettling revelation. As children, none of us fortunate enough to be born in politically stable nations think much about whether or not our country truly belongs to us. We Canadians sing an anthem that subconsciously reinforce the idea the nation is “our home and native land” and only when we’re a bit older and wiser do we understand just how stomach-churningly ironic such a lyric is.
How do we deal with this?
This is an article that I originally wrote late last year, but that fell through the cracks for some reason or another and never saw the light of day. Aside from dated references to the 2011 Spike VGAs, I think it’s still relevant and worth sharing. I’ve made tiny little revisions and expanded on a few points, but left it alone otherwise.
The 2011 Spike Video Game Awards (VGAs) was a ceremony that celebrated pretty much everything awful about videogame culture. The parade of mock teabaggings, awkward celebrity endorsements and gleeful misogyny were all bad enough on their own, but what troubled me most about the VGAs was how all of this was aimed at a supposed subculture of “gamers.”
We, the people who love games, have done this to ourselves.
Like a lot of little kids I spent a good amount of my little kid money (miniscule) and little kid time (enormous) on buying and reading comic books. My favourites were always Spider-Man and X-Men with the latter holding the bigger part of the timeshare in my pre-teen imagination. Looking back on this period of time, it’s hard to figure out what it was about those comics that exerted such a pull. Now, in lieu of any clearer explanation, I suspect that the hours I poured into thinking about the characters and convoluted timelines of the X-Men had a lot to do with — bear with me — the bright colour palette used in the design of the comic’s cast.
Over time, though, the visual appeal of the X-Men couldn’t compensate for the futility of the insipid, repetitive storylines of the superhero comics and the vast amount of mental real estate that their hamster wheel narratives/character “progression” were taking up. Simply enough, like many other kids, I found myself caring a lot less about these kinds of comics as I got older and found other ways to entertain myself.
I hadn’t thought much about any of this until, very recently, I found myself turning ten years old again for several hours a day. This was because I began playing Darksiders, a videogame that, just like those comic books, was able to cover up its cotton candy fluffiness with a whole lot of flair.
OK, check this out. Something that shouldn’t be mind-blowing, but, considering the state of recent videogame discourse, maybe (unfortunately) will be to some readers: I’m a straight male and, despite being adverse to self labelling, comfortably identify as a feminist. That proclamation changes nothing about how I’ve always thought and lived.
Should this be a train of thought that should be continued on a videogame criticism site, you may ask? Well, given the apparent inability for the industry to support rational gender and sexuality conversation, it sure seems like it.
The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is a competition in which the biggest, loudest person in the room wins first prize. On the trade floor there is no room for subtlety. Everyone must participate in an ear-splitting, epilepsy inducing game of one-upmanship in a vain attempt to stick out from the general cacophony of the event. In the jungle of E3 every booth is a shrieking baboon, beating its chest and roaring at all the other vicious apes in hopes of becoming the leader of the tribe for the coming months.
E3 is, ultimately, not very good for the industry it supports.