Brianna Wu is a developer and writer who’s penned pieces on the gender imbalance in modern video games and the harassment women in the industry continue to deal with as part of their daily business. She heads up the small studio Giant Spacekat, makers of Revolution 60, a mobile game hailed as “a most triumphant and excellent adventure” by RPGfan.com and denounced as “a bland, uninteresting, feminism circle-jerk” by Metacritic user Realgamer101. I’m guessing that’s not his real name, but there’s no guesswork required to figure out the poster’s gender.
On October 11, Wu tweeted the above screenshot—a series of threatening messages she’d received from a Twitter account that’s since been suspended.
Before we go any further, it’s important to ask whether or not you want to read anything more on GamerGate. Since you’re on this page, chances are you’re aware of the sides in this bizarre online kerfuffle, as well as the problem with giving GamerGate any further coverage: These words may be further fuel for a fire that needs to die down before anyone can properly discuss the more pertinent points raised by a still-evolving debate.
If that means nothing to you, here’s a summary: A (formerly) low-profile indie developer named Zoe Quinn created and released a game called Depression Quest. Some people argued that it wasn’t a game at all—but that’s not the controversy. An ex of Quinn’s published information in August of 2014 implying that she had slept around to secure positive review coverage forDepression Quest. There’s no evidence connecting any alleged promiscuity—which, in any case, is nobody’s business apart from those doing the screwing, anyway—with the reception Depression Quest received, but the conversation quickly turned to ethics: As in, some game journalists were seen to be favorable toward certain projects that they were incredibly tenuously linked to. That connection could be chipping into a Kickstarter pot, or having long ago worked on a collaborative venture together. You get the idea: Person A once spoke to Person B, and for that reason Person A’s recommendation of Person B’s new Game C is clearly completely corrupt.
Back when the Nintendo 64 was still known as the Ultra 64, Super Mario overlord Shigeru Miyamoto told the Japanese press: “We are going to make lots of weird games from now on.” And he wasn’t lying.
Despite a comparative lack of product when compared to its competitors in the fifth-generation console wars, the N64’s seven-year lifespan offered many fascinating anomalies alongside theZeldas, GoldenEye 007 and influx of Mario Party games. And in their own way, each of the following titles were attempts at launching a gaming future that we now accept as the present—even if they were handled clumsily or marred by top-level corporate concern.
As Nintendo inches towards fixing the reputation of the Wii U and forgetting a cataclysmic financial year, we look at a history of mismanaged N64 ambition.
HEY YOU, PIKACHU! (1998)
To this day, Nintendo has a cagey relationship with third-party developers. Its late president, Hiroshi Yamauchi, was notorious for charging outside companies license fees to create no more than five games a year. His business plan was meant to improve Nintendo’s quality of stock and give them the edge over their rivals. During the Sega-era console wars, this strategy allowed Nintendo to keep a stranglehold on third-party developers, but also gave Yamauchi a dictatorial reputation. Speaking to Games Informerearlier this year, the author Blake J. Harris shared what these third-parties recalled: “Nintendo had you by the balls, and they knew it.”
My friend Glenn would bring his PlayStation 2 over to my house after class during middle school. I think it was mostly because I had a TV in my room, and he didn’t—like all adolescents, we wanted to obsess over our passions in private. I remember never really knowing how the wires were supposed to attach to the back of the monitor and how we’d just keep guessing until it worked. Our afternoons revolved around Vice City, the second game in Rockstar’s rebirthing of the Grand Theft Auto franchise. You played as Tommy Vercetti, a scummy, greased-up coke dealer with a Hawaiian shirt and a lot of one-liners. One day Glenn had his sniper rifle pointed right at a cab driver’s face as my father walked in the room. Glenn pulled the trigger, replacing the cabbie’s head with a fountain of blood, and that was too much for my dad. No more bedroom GTA action for us.
'Grand Theft Auto V' Is Going to Destroy My Social Life
Grand Theft Auto IV came out in the same week as my first and only (thus far) root canal. I had been prescribed Tylenol 3s, which I rationally mixed into my diet of purple kush and takeout. At the time I had a roommate, whose freeloader brother was sleeping on a couch in our basement while I was up all night playing GTAIV, one level above him. At one point, probably around five in the morning, he yelled up at me to keep it down and go to bed. So after hearing this complaint from a virtual stranger—who was couchsurfing at my house in the middle of one of my precious GTAIV sessions—I told him to fuck off. And that’s when I understood GTA’s grip on me.
If you’ve never played a Grand Theft Auto game, they are infinitely more addictive than basically any other video game that purports to have unlimited boundaries. While The Sims is a fun, family-friendly time where you can build yourself an in-ground pool, install a bar beside the diving board, get your Sims drunk, then send them for a drunken swim right before you remove the ladder and watch them drown in their own alcoholic misery—Grand Theft Auto provides an exponentially more insane set of circumstances for someone to cause digital mayhem.
Poke around the cum-stained corners of the internet’s vilest porn repositories, and you’ll find that it doesn’t get much filthier than cartoons. Freed of the body’s physical limitations, animated porn stars can keep guzzling demon dick long after Sasha Grey succumbs to lock jaw. Thanks to its ability to fulfill all taboo desires, hentai (the Japanese word we used to describe all kinds of cartoon smut) has always skewed kinky and now that it’s entering the realm of hyper-realistic 3D animations, it’s only bound to get weirder.
3D hentai is still relatively niche. A Google search only yields 8 million hits, while regular hentai generates 26 times as many results. This won’t be the case for long, because unlike the frozen faces of their two-dimensional counterparts, the computer-rendered porn stars of 3D hentai look positively fleshy. And when their asses jiggle, even their buttcracks cast a shadow. Anyone can see why this is an improvement.
Our attraction to digital verisimilitude is nothing new. Mainstream video games, CGI films, and even advertising have long been aiming for OCD-level attention to detail. Cartoon porn is just catching up. As the adult film industry grinds to a halt again from yet another HIV scare, it’s easy to see why these digital avatars could easily replace frail disease prone adult actors. Honestly, I can’t wait to never see another awkward porn star faking an orgasm.
As for its content, 3D hentai is rife with the same demon rapes, tentacle fucking, and barely disguised pedophilia found in its 2D equivalent. And while you might chalk up these fetishes to our degraded modern condition, one of the earliest and most well-known erotic cartoons is, in fact, a woodblock from 1814 called The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife, which depicts a woman with her legs spread wide, getting pleasured in all her welcoming orifices by an octopus. In other words, creepy sex isn’t a new phenomenon. Weird shit has always lit up our proverbial fires.
Growing up gay is hard. Growing up geeky—that is, socially awkward and more comfortable around video games, movies, and other works of fiction than people—is no rose garden either. If you are both gay and nerdy, adolescence is a minefield; you may not share interests with the kids in your school’s gay-straight alliance, and you probably won’t feel comfortable calling out any casual homophobic slurs tossed out by your buddies during LAN parties or games of Magic: The Gathering. Even in adulthood, “gaymers” can feel like outsiders in the often ultra-hetero realm of video games. That’s where GaymerX, the first-ever convention for gay geek gamers, comes in.
The event, which took place last weekend at the Kabuki Hotel in San Francisco’s Japantown, aimed to create a safe place for gaymers to congregate, though you didn’t have to identify with part of the LGBTQ acronym to participate. Organizers—full disclosure: my brother, Matt Conn, runs the thing—also wanted to draw attention to the lack of queer characters in video games and to the industry’s underlying homophobia. “There’s been no advocacy for gay rights in the gaming world,” said Matt. “There are gay and lesbian film festivals and GLAAD and HRC fighting for characters on TV shows. But nothing really for the gaming industry.”
What is a nerd? Are nerds the new cool? That’s what people have been asking ever since video games started making more money than movies. But the reality of nerds is much different than how the media portrays it, as evidenced by American Nerd: The Story of My People. In the book, author Benjamin Nugent explores his own childhood of Dungeons & Dragons, video games, awkward interactions in the schoolyard, and confrontations with jocks to get to the bottom of nerdhood.
Nugent’s thesis is that nerds tend to resemble computers, meaning they are more comfortable with rules and systems they can depend on rather than tacit cues that transpire during social interactions between people. There is even a chapter that compares the general attributes of nerds with those of people with Asperger’s syndrome: an inability to understand body language and facial expressions, odd ticks, awkward behavior, a dependence on predefined conditions, etc.
I understand and appreciate the rise of EDM and DJ culture. I see how it brings people together, allows for personal expression, and gives you a great excuse to do tons of molly and “accidentally” rub up against women in a club. I get it. And yet, I do not accept that DJs belong everywhere. DJs should not be at mundane events like baby showers, Christmas-tree lightings, sentencing hearings, art-gallery openings, dog shows, rollerblading competitons, political rallies, traffic accidents, Chinese New Year, or the Super Bowl. Not everything needs to have dancing. Actually, most public gatherings are awkward, especially when the event is one in which the host is trying to sell you something.
I went to the E3 video-game trade show this past week, and like every other convention or industry gathering in our modern era, DJs were shoehorned into the proceedings. I don’t need the “bass to drop” while I’m waiting in line to see the new XBox or to use the bathroom, thank you very much.
I decided to take a stroll around and see if anyone was actually getting down to the music the many, many E3 DJs were playing.
My Name Is Tom and I’m a Video Game Addict – by James Franco
“I am a video game nerd and I love it.” That’s what Tom Bissell admits in his excellent confession and analysis of his descent (ascent?) into video game addiction, Extra Lives: Video Games Matter. He seems like me (I say that humbly), in that he once had a love of literature and spent much of his intellectual and professional life engaged with literature: reading literature, writing about literature, and teaching literature. But at some point in his late 20s, video games took over.
Tom seems to have mixed feelings about his video game addiction. His book makes excellent arguments about video games being the newest popular art form that can do a variety of things that other art forms can’t. They can engage the audience as players and thus as creators of the narrative. They also allow players to create their own avatars to navigate imaginary worlds. And they can make narrative engagement active and open-ended because each player can experience his or her own unique version of the journey. This last point is even more evident in free-roaming games such as Grand Theft Auto IV,where one can just wander.
But Tom also seems to be confessing or defending (to himself?) his tight tether to video games. He plays morning, noon, and night. He ends his book (spoiler alert!) with a moving comparison of his addiction toGrand Theft Auto IV with his concomitant addiction to cocaine. He travels the world on various assignments or grants, fully intending to rid himself of both addictions—I think these trips are called “geographics” in addiction parlance—but he always gets sucked back in. Ultimately it sounds as if his cocaine addiction has been kicked, but the existence of this book shows that video games are still a huge part of his life. They arehis life.