Wildstar, Character Design, Female Objectification, Sexual Dimorphism and Biology in Video Games

robothyena:

We need to talk about the character designs in Wildstar.

We need to talk about the character designs in all science fiction and fantasy franchises that feature non-humans.

Wildstar is a science-fiction MMO currently in beta, developed by Carbine Studios. The general thrust of Wildstar is something along the lines of Firefly, Star Wars, and Ratchet & Clank; not exactly a grimdark sci-fi thriller. The mechanical features look interesting and the art style, in and of itself, is really vivid—but what they’re doing within the style?

Well.

The NDA dropped on a bunch of Wildstar content and character creation videos are up. You can watch them all, but here I’m just going to focus on the Granok, Draken, and Mechari.

Read More

This article is just utterly brilliant - it’s really hard not to see the sexist double standard in the exaggerated sexual dimorphism / anthropomorphification of the female “races” in science fiction and fantasy games (and in the genre as a whole) when it’s laid out like this. It really comes down to a bunch of people going “um, because it’s hot? I guess” which is just not good enough anymore, if it ever once was.

The writing here is excellent, painting pictures that the most expensive graphics engine simply wouldn’t be able to.

Passepartout’s internal monologue gives us glimpses into cities ravaged by conflict; wondrous inventions of steel and song; and bumbling, desperate, and intriguing characters who let slip snippets of important information.

Calling it a gamebook feels a little disingenuous. This is something more than a Choose Your Own Adventure, with each avenue you take changing the narrative in some subtle way.

Whether it’s picking up an extra suitcase and having to pay a little more, or making a remark with which Fogg disagrees, nothing has a straightforward outcome. The game feels all the more organic for that.

Harry Slater’s hands-on preview of 80 Days at Pocketgamer.

A fantastic first “preview-review” of 80 Days, which picks up on so many of the bits of the game that I’m particularly proud of. Passepartout is more changed by the world, than leaping in and changing. He does not get to play white saviour. The decisions and choices he is offered are often personal, private, set firmly within a wider context, but no less important for that. It can be more surprising and organic, I think, to play a game where you are not the only hero, where you can be part of the revolution but not its source. Where the world is vast and rich and full and turning as you make your way through it, and it does not always stop for you. It does not turn around you either. Where the people you encounter can be as lost as you are, as beautiful, as venal, as foolish and determined and ridiculous. Passepartout sees the world but doesn’t think he knows it, or owns it. His stories never go where they’re supposed to go, and how much fun is that?

Arm yourselves. Go to panels at Wiscon and claim the knowledge and language that will be your weapons. Go to sources of additional knowledge for fresh ammunition — histories and analyses of the genre by people who see beyond the status quo, our genre elders, new sources of knowledge like “revisionist” scholarship instead of the bullshit we all learned in school. Find support groups of like-minded souls; these are your comrades-in-arms, and you will need their strength. Don’t try to do this alone. When you’re injured, seek help; I’ve got a great list of CBT therapists, for any of you in the New York area. Exercise to stay strong, if you can; defend what health you have, if you can’t. And from here on, wherever you see bigotry in the genre? Attack it. Don’t wait for it to come directly at you; attack it even if it’s hitting another group. If you won’t ride or die for anyone else, how can you expect them to ride or die for you? Understand that there are people in this genre who hate you, and who do not want you here, and who will hurt you if they can. Do not tolerate their intolerance. Don’t be “fair and balanced.” Tell them they’re unwelcome. Make them uncomfortable. Shout them down. Kick them out. Fucking fight.

And maybe one day, when the fighting’s done, then we can heal. On that day, all of us will dream freely, at last.

“The future of Greece, it was becoming clear to all forward-looking men, lay with Western Europe, and the ruling class conformed within a single generation. We can see the process at work in a wonderfully evocative family group by Margaritis, which shows the grizzled paterfamilias in full evzone regalia, including decorations, and ranged behind him his three sons. They are not merely wearing western dress, but three distinct variants of it: on the left, a clean-shaven bohemian lounger in checked pants, three fingers thrust provocatively in his trouser pocket; in the middle, the full-bearded son in sober, buttoned-up black who is clearly destined for the role of hardworking family provider; and on the right, the highly unreliable-looking boulevardier, complete with waxed moustache and cane. Add to the mixture a formidable battle-axe of a wife and a clearly discontented daughter, and you have the cast of a peculiarly cynical play by Moliére.”
-Dry Light blog: notes on photography, landscape & Greece

The future of Greece, it was becoming clear to all forward-looking men, lay with Western Europe, and the ruling class conformed within a single generation. We can see the process at work in a wonderfully evocative family group by Margaritis, which shows the grizzled paterfamilias in full evzone regalia, including decorations, and ranged behind him his three sons. They are not merely wearing western dress, but three distinct variants of it: on the left, a clean-shaven bohemian lounger in checked pants, three fingers thrust provocatively in his trouser pocket; in the middle, the full-bearded son in sober, buttoned-up black who is clearly destined for the role of hardworking family provider; and on the right, the highly unreliable-looking boulevardier, complete with waxed moustache and cane. Add to the mixture a formidable battle-axe of a wife and a clearly discontented daughter, and you have the cast of a peculiarly cynical play by Moliére.”

-Dry Light blog: notes on photography, landscape & Greece

In this light, Kazemi and his bot-making friends can be seen as exploring a medium through which we now do much of our everyday business—and then rerouting the wiring that underlies that medium, in a way that moves us to question how we normally use it. By making works that don’t just take advantage of Internet technology, but use it to reveal the invisible rules of the Web, Kazemi may have found nothing less than a new kind of public art for the 21st century—changing, self-referential, and in its insistent randomness, oddly alive.

Moved!

You Can Panic Now, now with lasers. Alternatively, we moved from wordpress to tumblr! Expect more updates, and do change your bookmarks from youcanpanicnow.com to megjayanth.com - though the old URL will redirect here for the forseeable.

But seriously, watch out for those lasers.

Terribly, ridiculously pleased to be one of the authors contributing to Long Hidden.
gingersmaps:

SIGNAL BOOST!! PLEASE REBLOG!
One of my longtime favourite livejournal people, Rose Fox (who is a queer Editor at Publisher’s Weekly in NYC and Program Chair for Readercon) is about to release her Kickstarted POC Sci-Fi Anthology “LONG HIDDEN: SPECULATIVE FICTION FROM THE MARGINS OF HISTORY” this May at Readercon and at launch parties in NYC!

Most written chronicles of history, and most speculative stories, put rulers, conquerors, and invaders front and center. People with less power, money, or status—enslaved people, indigenous people, people of color, queer people, laborers, women, people with disabilities, the very young and very old, and religious minorities, among others—are relegated to the margins. Today, mainstream history continues to perpetuate one-sided versions of the past while mistelling or erasing the stories of the rest of the world.
There is a long and honorable legacy of literary resistance to erasure. This anthology partakes of that legacy. It will feature stories from the margins of speculative history, each taking place between 1400 and the early 1900s and putting a speculative twist—an element of science fiction, fantasy, horror, or the unclassifiably strange—on real past events.

Here’s the final Table of Contents and the wonderful list of Authors who contributed:
Sofia Samatar - “Ogres of East Africa” Thoraiya Dyer - “The Oud”Tananarive Due - “Free Jim’s Mine”S. Lynn - “Ffydd (Faith)”Sunny Moraine - “Across the Seam”Rion Amilcar Scott - “Numbers”Meg Jayanth - “Each Part Without Mercy”Claire Humphrey - “The Witch of Tarup”L.S. Johnson - “Marigolds”Robert William Iveniuk - “Diyu”Jamey Hatley - “Collected Likenesses”Michael Janairo - “Angela and the Scar”Benjamin Parzybok - “The Colts”Kima Jones - “Nine”Christina Lynch - “The Heart and the Feather”Troy L. Wiggins - “A Score of Roses”Nghi Vo - “Neither Witch Nor Fairy” David Fuller - “A Deeper Echo”Ken Liu - “結草銜環 (Knotting Grass, Holding Ring)” Kemba Banton - “Jooni”Sarah Pinsker - “There Will Be One Vacant Chair” Nnedi Okorafor - “It’s War”Shanaé Brown - “Find Me Unafraid”Nicolette Barischoff - “A Wedding in Hungry Days”Lisa Bolekaja - “Medu”Victor LaValle - “Lone Women”Sabrina Vourvoulias - “The Dance of the White Demons”
I know a LOT of people who are always wishing for recommendations of more diverse, POC, queer-representative works of Science Fiction, so PLEASE SIGNAL BOOST so that as many of your followers as possible get a chance to see that this is coming out! And follow @LongHidden on twitter for the official Mid-May release date (I will be posting it as well when announced!)

Terribly, ridiculously pleased to be one of the authors contributing to Long Hidden.

gingersmaps:

SIGNAL BOOST!! PLEASE REBLOG!

One of my longtime favourite livejournal people, Rose Fox (who is a queer Editor at Publisher’s Weekly in NYC and Program Chair for Readercon) is about to release her Kickstarted POC Sci-Fi Anthology “LONG HIDDEN: SPECULATIVE FICTION FROM THE MARGINS OF HISTORY” this May at Readercon and at launch parties in NYC!

Most written chronicles of history, and most speculative stories, put rulers, conquerors, and invaders front and center. People with less power, money, or status—enslaved people, indigenous people, people of color, queer people, laborers, women, people with disabilities, the very young and very old, and religious minorities, among others—are relegated to the margins. Today, mainstream history continues to perpetuate one-sided versions of the past while mistelling or erasing the stories of the rest of the world.

There is a long and honorable legacy of literary resistance to erasure. This anthology partakes of that legacy. It will feature stories from the margins of speculative history, each taking place between 1400 and the early 1900s and putting a speculative twist—an element of science fiction, fantasy, horror, or the unclassifiably strange—on real past events.

Here’s the final Table of Contents and the wonderful list of Authors who contributed:

Sofia Samatar - “Ogres of East Africa” 
Thoraiya Dyer - “The Oud”
Tananarive Due - “Free Jim’s Mine”
S. Lynn - “Ffydd (Faith)”
Sunny Moraine - “Across the Seam”
Rion Amilcar Scott - “Numbers”
Meg Jayanth - “Each Part Without Mercy”
Claire Humphrey - “The Witch of Tarup”
L.S. Johnson - “Marigolds”
Robert William Iveniuk - “Diyu”
Jamey Hatley - “Collected Likenesses”
Michael Janairo - “Angela and the Scar”
Benjamin Parzybok - “The Colts”
Kima Jones - “Nine”
Christina Lynch - “The Heart and the Feather”
Troy L. Wiggins - “A Score of Roses”
Nghi Vo - “Neither Witch Nor Fairy” 
David Fuller - “A Deeper Echo”
Ken Liu - “結草銜環 (Knotting Grass, Holding Ring)” 
Kemba Banton - “Jooni”
Sarah Pinsker - “There Will Be One Vacant Chair” 
Nnedi Okorafor - “It’s War”
Shanaé Brown - “Find Me Unafraid”
Nicolette Barischoff - “A Wedding in Hungry Days”
Lisa Bolekaja - “Medu”
Victor LaValle - “Lone Women”
Sabrina Vourvoulias - “The Dance of the White Demons”

I know a LOT of people who are always wishing for recommendations of more diverse, POC, queer-representative works of Science Fiction, so PLEASE SIGNAL BOOST so that as many of your followers as possible get a chance to see that this is coming out! And follow @LongHidden on twitter for the official Mid-May release date (I will be posting it as well when announced!)

(via stuffjonlikes)

In an attempt to avoid being held liable for any mistreatment of detainees the Guantánamo Bay medical staff have adopted Shakespearean names. Until recently, some of the doctors there used their real names, which made it easy to report them for misconduct. Now the military wants the medical staff to ignore the Tokyo Declaration of 1975, which forbids the force-feeding of mentally competent hunger strikers, and refuse to inform prisoners of the results of their own medical tests.

[…]

Here is the Guantánamo medical team’s dramatis personae:

Senior Medical Officer … . . Leonato (Much Ado about Nothing)
Force-Feeding Doctor … . . Varro (Julius Caesar)
Behavioural Health Doctor … . . Cordelia (King Lear)
Behavioural Health Doctor … . . Cressida (Troilus and Cressida)
Psychiatrist … . . Helena (All’s Well That Ends Well / A Midsummer Night’s Dream)
Medical Corpsman … . . Silius (Antony and Cleopatra)
Nurse … . . Valeria (Coriolanus)
Nurse … . . Lucentio (The Taming of the Shrew)
Nurse … . . Lucio (Measure for Measure)

Dominic Dromgoole & Clive Stafford Smith in the London Review of Books. There is something utterly absurd about this, beyond the absurd grotesqueness of Guantanamo itself.

Infinite creates a clear moral equivalence between Columbia’s oppressors and oppressed. Both Booker and Elizabeth voice versions of this ‘one no better than the other’ logic, in case you miss the point. Such false equivalencies are beloved by the lazy, the aloof, the cowardly. It’s as if the game almost realizes the absurdity of the scenario it has set up, since it doesn’t even happen in the universe you occupy the first half of the game. You have to cross over to a parallel reality to experience it. It’s like admitting: at least both sides are equivalent in some universe!

From Tevis Thompson’s provocative review of Bioshock Infinite - so this, this repeats itself in videogameland over and over again. This lazy, frankly cowardly backing away perspective and context into an imagined and fundamentally absurd “objectivity” that you are never allowed to maintain, because you must pick up the gun. 

This is the problem with Dragon Age II, crystallised in the third act where suddenly all the people you talked to and possibly tried to save or oppress suddenly become targets. There’s no talking down, there’s no negotiating, there’s no standing-back-and-observing. Your hands are as bloody as anyone’s, and you stand there at the end with the game telling you that the oppressed and the oppressors “were as bad as each other” after spending two acts showing you the nuance and particularity and weight of history. (And instead of Bioshock Infinite’s alternate universe, Bioware uses the Tevinter Imperium - the topsy-turvey empire where mages control the Circle, and enslave common men.)