Tag: video games

July 19, 2013 / / history
February 21, 2013 / / links
September 6, 2011 / / race & representations

Above is the trailer circulating for a game based on slavery – but it appears that this is fake, despite all the attention it’s been attracting.

As Jessica Conditt explains in her post for Joystiq:

These are lined up at the bottom of the site, right next to the overwhelming sense of relief we felt when we realized neither 360 nor PS3 release AO titles. Further, the ESRB doesn’t list a rating for anything called Slavery the Game and the proposed developer, Javelin Reds Gaming, doesn’t exist. One YouTube version of the trailer credits The Creative Assembly with making Slavery the Game, but it isn’t mentioned anywhere on The Creative Assembly’s site. We’ve contacted The Creative Assembly for clarification.

A lot of people are rightfully horrified at a game predicated on the slave trade from the slave master’s perspective – specifically glorifying the dehumanizing nature of slavery for cheap amusement. However, even though the game is fake, I hesitate to fully condemn the premise, probably because of one of my other favorite games: Age of Empires: The Conquerers.

A game can do anything we program it to do – and AoE:TC allowed me to rewrite history, by allowing the people of Tenochtitlan to defeat the Conquistadors. Read the Post Slavery: The Game is a Hoax – But Still Worth Discussing

March 10, 2010 / / race

by Guest Contributor Bao Phi, originally published at Your Voices

Final Fantasy Cast

This is not a review.  This is a blog entry where I explore issues of race and representation in pop culture, in this case, video games.

I’ve been hooked on videogames since the days of the Atari 2600, though my family was too poor to have one.  When I was young, I am ashamed to say that any kid who had an Atari had a good chance of being my best friend, as long as I got to come over to play Atari during slumber parties or birthdays.  In grade school at Anderson, some of the ‘problem’ kids, if they were good, got to choose a friend to take 5 minutes and play Atari as a reward – I was always thrilled when I got that chance.

Through the years, if a system was able to play a video game, I’d play it.  I’d torture myself with text-based games on the Apple IIe, playing them over and over again even if I kept dying or failing in the same place.  I was obsessed with the Smurfs game on the Colecovision, got yelled at by my moms for playing too much Kid Icarus on the NES, and one of my proudest gaming moments was when a friend of mine brought over Zelda II: the Adventure of Link, telling me he just could not beat shadow link – and how he jumped into the air when I did it for him.  I lost my temper way too easily when I lost at Mortal Combat or Street Fighter 2 in the arcades. When Civilization came out, I mercilessly hung out at my friend’s apartment and played on his computer all night, like some shameless video game scrub.  When my dad needed quarters to take the bus to work, we’d go and use the change machines in Thompson’s Arcade, and my dad would give me exactly two quarters to play (it was also there where a white man once asked me my ethnicity, and when I told him I was Viet, he gave me a brochure translated into Vietnamese trying to convince me to convert to Christianity, and the irony is, I probably would have read more of that brochure if it was in English).  In college I saw a guy in my computer lab playing some 3-D game where he went around blasting demons, and he taught me how to type in the sentence on the computer that would allow me to play Doom.  After a strenuous test or big paper was due in college, I’d drive to Mall of America and blow $10 of quarters on this arcade game where you got to hold this big garish plastic machine gun and shoot things.  During my mid-20’s I was a terror to my roommates and their friends in Goldeneye.

You get the picture.  I’m still gaming today, just got my second red ring of death for my Xbox 360, and my partner has asked me to please stow my Master Chief helmet in a place where our guests can’t see it.  Not only do I game, but I’ve also written about racial representation, especially regarding Asians and Asian Americans, in video games, and also read a lot of online reviews and discussions regarding this hobby that I have grown up with.

Anyone who’s played games has heard of the Final Fantasy series of games.  I was a big fan of Final Fantasy on the SNES, particularly FF III, I think.  It gets a little confusing since Final Fantasy is a Japanese series, not all of which makes it overseas to American audiences, and thus get numbered differently.  So basically, Final Fantasy III in the U.S. might be Final Fantasy VI in Japan.

Recently, Final Fantasy XIII has come out, and following the previews, reviews, screenshots, and looking at the concept art, it reminds me of a question that is provocative but seems to be ignored – why do Japanese game companies create so many games where the protagonists all look European or white?  Sure, Final Fantasy XIII has one Black character, but then it makes it all the more compelling to ask, why aren’t there any Asian characters?

Read the Post Final Fantasy XIII: New game, same colors?

February 22, 2010 / / african-american

by Latoya Peterson

These are the notes for “Gaming Masculinity: Video games as a reflection on masculinity in Computer Science and African American Culture.” The notes are from a paper by Betsy James DiSalvo, presented at the Texas A & M University Race and Ethnic Studies Institute’s Symposium exploring Race, Ethnicity and (New) Media.

The abstract to the paper reads:

There are a number of efforts to broaden participation in computing to include underrepresented groups. However, few of these efforts have identified African American males as a population with cultural and gendered values that may inhibit them from entering Computer Science (CS). In this paper we will explore masculine identities within computer culture and African American culture by using video games as an object of inquiry. We hypotheses that the technological agency exhibited with video games is based upon cultural and gender practices; and by exploring video game play practices we can better understand how to increase the technological agency of African American males and broadening their participation in CS.

The paper/project was funded to help increase participation in the computer sciences, with a particular focus on underrepresented groups.

The research (hosted at the Georgia Institute for Technology) began by examining video game use by African American males, sparked by an exchange with a student. The student lamented:

Me and some of my black friends were talking about the other guys in CS. Some of them have been programming since they were eight. We can’t compete with that. Now, the only thing that I have been doing since I was eight is playing basketball. I would own them on the court. I mean it wouldn’t be fair, they would just stand there and I would dominate. It is sort of like that in CS.
– Undergraduate CS Major

This led to the researchers (Betsy James DiSalvo, Sybrina Y. Atwaters, Jill Dimond, and Dr. Amy Bruckman) to re-examine the assumptions around what makes for a successful computer science graduate. They decided to take a closer look at play practices. Play practices of being outside are the norm in many communities, but are not conducive to computers/gaming which require long amounts of indoors/solo time to become proficient. Read the Post Gaming Masculinity: Video games as a reflection on masculinity in Computer Science and African American culture [Conference Notes]

December 30, 2009 / / cultural appropriation

by Latoya Peterson

On Christmas, reader Mel sent us a little present. He wrote in about a flash based indie video game covered by the Escapist. The title? Ching Chong Beautiful.

I click over the link, expecting to see a take down. After all, the Escapist does publish a lot of progressive gaming commentary, and our blog bud Pat over at Token Minorities has been known to bless them with a piece or two. So imagine my shock when I checked the endorsement:

That’s kind of the principle behind Newgrounds’ latest well-promoted title, the kind-of-offensive-but-actually-really-funny Ching Chong Beautiful, developed by The Swain. Your brother is kidnapped by Mr. Beautiful, whose obstacle course is A.) known to be deadly and unbeatable and B.) the most popular TV show in Japan. In order to save your brother, you must get a thoroughbred horse, and the only way to do that is – you guessed it – enter Ching Chong Beautiful.

I clicked over and prepared to play.

The game starts throwing stereotypes in the blender from the intro page:

A Game of Great Endurance Challenge!

http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/520768

The game features the new High Scores system and Newgrounds medals! So go grab some green tea, get drunk on sake, and maybe poach some whales if there’s time…the Bang Wong Fishhead Corporation challenges you to defeat Mr.Beautiful’s ancient obstacle course: Ching Chong Beautiful!

And it goes from there.

Now, before some gamers wander over here from other sites complaining about our general lack of humor and understanding, let me make something crystal clear: I get all the fucking jokes. I know what MXC is, I used to watch it on Spike. I know what Takeshi’s Castle is, I’ve watched it online. I know what this is:

The green can next to the television labeled “Sweat” is a play on the sports drink Pocari Sweat, which normally comes in a blue and white can or bottle. (And yes, I’ve tried that too.)

I’m aware that CCB is, in part, mocking the nature of these kinds of game shows that specialize in sadistic environments and public humiliation. But it’s still racist. Read the Post Ching Chong Beautiful Exposes Racism in Video Game Design

June 16, 2009 / / race

by Latoya Peterson

I spent a lot of last week traveling and grinding on deadlines, so I missed most of the E3 coverage coming out of the gaming sphere. While I plan to catch up with BawdyJane on what she spotted there later, one project in particular caught my eye.

Dan Hsu over at BitMob has the goods:

During E3 2009, journalists, developers, and even Hollywood celebrities got wind of the secret demonstrations Microsoft was giving to select individuals and were pulling every string they could find to get in. Even Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto went to the secret area of Microsoft’s booth and got a private VIP demo.

Demian and I got to give Natal a go, and we came away extremely impressed…and neither of us are of the easily impressed variety….

“No matter how many buttons you put in a controller, you can’t get this kind of fidelity,” says Natal Creative Director Kudo Tsunoda. We’ll see later if gamers (especially the hardcore) even want that sort of fidelity, but what we’ve seen so far supports Tsunoda’s statement.

The device measures 48 different joints on your body, so it’s able to distinguish your hands from your forearm, your forearm from your upper arm, your upper arm from your torso, and so on. It can detect forward and backward 3D positioning as well, unlike old Vision Cam games that see your silhouette as a 2D physical object. It even knows how fast you’re moving your body parts toward or away from the television (keep the snickers down to a minimum, please).

Awww, yeah! Reminds me of what they were going for back in the day with those clunky virtual reality helmets everyone swore would be the new hotness. You can even use your feet to kick at things instead of keeping all your movement from the torso up, as indicated in the shot below:

Whoo! So I was properly geeked…until I caught this little note:

When game consultant and former Newsweek writer N’Gai Croal gave Paradise a test drive, however, the game had trouble reading his steering actions. The footwork (gas and brakes) worked fine, but Croal couldn’t steer his car at all. It wasn’t clear whether this was a problem of calibration differences between Tsunoda and Croal’s very different body types, or if Croal’s crazy dreadlocks threw Natal off. But it was working just fine when Tsunoda was at the “wheel.”

It’s not about the dreadlocks, Shoe. N’Gai is brown-skinned. Sensors did not compute. Damn it, gaming people. Race issues are harshin my squeez again. Read the Post Microsoft’s Project Natal Doesn’t Care About Black People?