Category Archives: video games

Indiecadegame1

Live From IndieCade: Let’s Do Something About It

By Arturo R. García

Top row, L-R: Moderator Shawn Alexander Allen, TJ Thomas, Racialicious owner Latoya Peterson. Bottom row, L-R: Catt Small, Ashley Alicea, Fatima Zenine Villanueva.

This past weekend saw our owner and publisher Latoya Peterson speak on a panel at IndieCade, a festival and conference celebrating independent game development.

Moderator Shawn Alexander Allen (Treachery in Beatdown City) said that the discussion, “Let’s Do Something About It,” grew from a talk about race and gaming he gave at last year’s event. Joining them on the panel:

A Storify of the panel is under the cut.
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Please Stop: The Trans Joke at the Spike Video Game Awards

By Guest Contributor Samantha Allen, cross-posted from The Border House

[Trigger Warning: Discussion of transphobic joke, real-life experiences of transphobia.]

Like many graduate students, I was still finishing up last week’s work at 6 PM on a Saturday. I put on Spike TV’s annual Video Game Awards (re-branded this year as VGX) to have some background noise while I put the finishing touches on a paper.

I expected the usual: some Michael Bay-esque graphics packages, some puerile pandering to their core demographic of adolescent boys, some Mountain Dew, some Doritos, some trailers. I can stomach that, even laugh at it. Less than five minutes into the program, however, co-host Joel McHale jokingly put the rumors to rest that Wario had “undergone sex reassignment surgery.”

If you’re reading this, you might know that a joke like that is politically ill-advised. It violates the comedic wisdom that one should punch up rather than punch down. It not only repeats the exoticizing focus on transgender people’s genitals, it also casts transgender identity itself as something scandalous and laughable.
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Must Read: Race, History, Colonialism and Assassin’s Creed IV

Friend of the blog Evan Narcisse wrote an interesting take on playing through historical worlds while black:

The game begins in 1715, when European rule over the island was still firmly established. That means I might be traipsing around an island where some Frenchman with my last name owns someone who looks like my father. And that might make me wince a little. But Ismail also told me that Edward Kenway’s first mate Adewale starts the game as a slave and becomes a free man over the course of the single-player story. Adewale will also be the focus of some of Black Flag‘s DLC.

Slavery Gives Me a Weird Personal Connection to Assassin's Creed IV

Focusing on Adewale and touching on slavery as it might’ve been lived in the early 1700s moves the racial portrayal forward from last year’s Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation. The heroine of that Vita game was the child of a slave and had missions where she freed others from servitude. And, with confirmation that Aveline will also be playable in PlayStation-exclusive add-ons for the game, ACIV will have two prominent black characters where so many titles struggle to have even one.

Narcisse also explores his own family history and what he hopes to see reflected in the game play.  Read the rest at Kotaku.

Quoted: Jamin Warren on Race in Gaming

An oldie but a goodie. From the January 2013 article, “Touching Obama’s Hair and My Hope for the Future of Games” on Kill Screen:

Last month, I did an interview with KALW in San Francisco alongside game designer Anna Anthropy. She made a point to a caller that she couldn’t relate to games like Grand Theft Auto and Metal Gear Solid because the main characters didn’t reflect her own experience as transgendered. 

I found this position extreme (if I’m not transgendered, couldn’t I levy the same critique of her games?), but Anna did point out something that should be glaringly obvious. If games are to claim their mantle as the most important medium of this century, then their subjects need to reflect the breadth of human experiences that exist across a range of identities.

If you are mixed race like I am, you no doubt had moments of confusion about your place in the world. Why does grandpa send tamales each month to your mother? Why do I need to wear lotion? Why does dad take so long at the barbershop? These are resolved in later life and I was fortunate enough to have parents who walked me through those answers.

But I also grew up on the cusp of the Internet age and before a time when 99% of all teens play games. When the time comes for a child to ask “Who am I?,” games, like all great art forms, should have an answer. The worry is that the response, more often than not, is nothing at all.

Racialicious Crush Of The Week: Danny Trejo

By Andrea Plaid

If I could create a starry constellation of badassery, I’d create one of Danny Trejo.

I caught the feels for him when I saw him in Robert Rodriguez’s Desperado. (Come to find out those two are cousins.) Trejo’s assassin, Navajas, moves like a leather-vested wraith through the Mexican streets to hunt down Antonio Banderas’ El Mariachi, and then he pulls back the vest to reveal one of the slammingest tats (the woman is Trejo’s moms) and the throwing knives…::swoon::

Courtesy: And So It Begins...

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Racialicious Crush Of The Week: Gina Torres

By Andrea Plaid

To me, GinaTorres is the Nichelle Nichols of 21st century: she shows another generation of people of color—especially girls and women of color—that we rightfully belong in the future.

Courtesy: Venus, Rising

Of course, she’s known as a wonderful—and gorgeous!—actor who can move through comedy (the only reason I suffered through Chris Rock’s damn-divorce-your-real-life-wife-already flick I Think I Love My Wife is her) and drama (she has guest roles in Law & Order, 24, and Gossip Girl) and from live-action TV and movies to animation (Boondocks) and video games (DC Universe Online). However, she’s known and beloved for her sci-fi work: reaching back to Black-man-superhero series M.A.N.T.I.S., Cleopatra 2525, Alias, Firefly–and the movie sequel Serenity–and, yes, the Matrix sequels, to name some of her roles. (And some folks give her extra Black Love daps for marrying Morpheus, a/k/a Laurence Fishburne, and their daughter Delilah.)

The R’s Arturo García said this about Torres:

I think it speaks to her on-screen presence that she was, for a long time, a popular choice among Whedonistas to take up the mantle of playing Wonder Woman. So much so that she’s been tapped to provide not only Diana’s voice in the “DC Universe Online” online game, but her evil counterpart, Superwoman, in the “Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths” animated film.

However, Torres herself holds a slightly different view about sci-fi and her role in it:

Having done two of the “Matrix” films as well as your role in this film, would you say that you have a passion for the sci-fi genre?

Gina: No. It’s just worked out that way. (Laughs). I like good movies. Not to say that there aren’t wonderful sci-fi films out there, but it’s not where I go first. It’s not where I go first in the rental aisle I should say.

And she has this to say about women-in-charge roles, as few and far between as they are:

There seems to be a fascination with Hollywood to either put a female in a distressing view or in leadership position such as Ripley from “Aliens”.

Gina: Yes, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot in the middle. Here’s the thing. Once given an opportunity, we absolutely show and in many cases surpass many people’s expectations of what a woman in charge can do. As long as it’s cast well, and as long as the right woman is in the role and we feel we can follow that woman anywhere, then there’s no problem. Sanaa had an authority. Sigourney (Weaver) had an authority. Linda Hamilton (from The Terminator) had an authority that was indisputable, and I’m told that I have some of that as well. I’m very excited about seeing Geena Davis in her next show, “Commander-in-Chief”. I think it’s exciting. I think it’s wonderful. We are capable of a great many things and to portray or see that on the big screen, it’s not a lie or a fantasy. It’s just showing another aspect of what is very real.

And what’s also wonderfully real about Torres is she’s an Afro-Latina (her parents are Afro-Cubans who reared her in New York City) in a society–especially in image-making Hollywood–that acts like “Afro” and “Latin@” should be separate identities.

The headline at Angry Black Woman says it all:

Gina Torres: Actress, Gorgeous, Badass (At Least Her Characters Are)!

She’s rocks pretty hard in real life, too. Check out this interview excerpt on the R Tumblr!

Why I Don’t Feel Welcome at Kotaku

By Guest Contributor Mattie Brice, cross-posted from Kotaku

Tamagotchi. Remember those?

They became popular when I was in 4th grade. Sometimes my mother took me to a nearby Target to pick a toy- she told me it was for good grades, but I knew it was because I got bullied often at school. One of these times, I raced to find a Tamagotchi, as all of my friends were getting them. I liked the idea of something with me at all times, to take care of it and make me feel like something needed me.

And there it was, a whole wall of glittering purple eggs. I remember that exact, uncreative display panel to this day, and my mother stopping me. She told me to wait, that my aunt wanted to get that for my birthday when she visited. I protested, but the answer was the same: be patient, you’ll get it soon enough. We went a week later and all of them were gone, sold out from every toy store in our area. For some reason that memory is lodged in my brain. I brought it up to my mother recently, but she’s forgotten.

The stray times I visit Kotaku, it’s like I’m seeing an empty panel that the reward for my sitting, smiling, and internalizing should be. I was supposed to find somewhere to escape to, maybe even a place that needed me a little. You told me to wait, and I did. Where’s my Tamagotchi?

There is only a wrong way to go about this. So let’s just get to why I’m here:

Me too.

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The Tits Have It: Sexism, Character Design, and the Role of Women in Created Worlds

Lightning, drawn by Jonathan

This panel is all about titties and I feel like its my fault!  – Jonathan Jacques-Bellêtete

There are many things I expect to see in a panel called “East Meets West, Art Direction for a Worldwide Audience.” I expected to hear Isamu Kamikokuryo, the art director for Final Fantasy XIII-2 discuss how Japanese artists focus on creating new worlds, Norse mythology and its influence on the game, and drawing inspiration from Cuba for some of the beautifully rendered backgrounds. I expected to hear Jonathan Jacques-Bellêtete, the art director of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, talk about influences like Andrew Loomis and Metal Gear Solid. I had hoped for an interesting back and forth between the two designers on how technology influences artistic development as well as what happens to geographic differences in artistic influences in our increasingly connected worlds.

I did hear all of these things, but also something that pinged my feminist gamer radar.

In describing his influences, Jacques-Bellêtete mentioned he was heavily influenced by Metal Gear and Final Fantasy. Then he went into a two minute riff about “always trying to have very beautiful female characters,” noting that these were characters he would want to sleep with. After making a semi-disparaging remark about female characters drawn in a North American style, he concludes “I’d rather have female characters from Final Fantasy or Soul Caliber to sleep with.” This draws chuckles from the crowd.

And there it was, the truth about character design that so many players know but most designers wouldn’t usually articulate: most of the egregiously sexist character designs are based on fuckability, rather than playability. Continue reading