Girl Gamer

Just Let Me Save!

By snowkissed 4 years, 10 months ago.

Originally posted at my gaming blog site

I remember the days of original Nintendo where save points were almost nonexistent. You were occasionally lucky and got a game where you would get passwords at certain points in the game that you could later use to skip all of the stuff you’d already finished. Or, if you were a horrible non-environmentalist like me when I was a child (and kind of still am…), you simply left your console on for days on end so that you wouldn’t have to repeat the menial or the super difficult.

As the years went on, the checkpoint was eventually introduced. At the time, we were extremely grateful for this. Once you reached your checkpoint, you could safely exit the gaming knowing that you would be at that exact point when you started the game back up. And eventually, we got to the point where we could choose when to save. There are, understandably, stipulations: you can not save while in combat or in certain areas.

So why is it that game developers still opt for the checkpoint save system? Is it key to their game design? Is it indicative of a slightly lazy team? I don’t want to necessarily harp on teams that make this kind of design choice for their game, but it had better be well implemented and justified.

Without a doubt, a checkpoint save system amps up your difficulty. Why is that? You have to be a lot more careful with the decisions you make, knowing that the time spent between the last checkpoint and where you are currently situated will have to be repeated. Because of this, a tough situation seems even more daunting. You are facing possible frustration along with the need to remember what you did wrong at that point while remembering what you did right leading up to this point. When you’re facing 15-20minutes of gameplay between checkpoints, this can make it extremely difficult, especially for individuals who don’t play a game that often.

Here’s what I mean. You start up your game and play from your last checkpoint. You repeat 15 minutes of gameplay about 3 times because you can’t quite figure out how to get past a certain enemy or puzzle. This has just wasted roughly 45 minutes (+ loading times) of your gaming time. You get frustrated and turn off the game. You return to it about a week later, but you can’t quite remember what you did in those first 15 minutes of gameplay, so it takes you a while to then get yourself to that frustrating point you initially had given up on.

Now here is my question for all developers that choose to use a checkpoint save system. Would our experience in playing the game be undermined by a more modern save system in which we choose when to save? Or is having to repeat the same 15 minutes over and over again really the experience you wanted to achieve? [sarcasm]Oh, that’s right. We were supposed to get it all right the first time.[/sarcasm]

What do you think? Are checkpoint save systems ever justified? Are they necessary for linear gameplay? Or perhaps you believe that we should go back to having no saves? ;)

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Female antagonists antagonize me...

By snowkissed 4 years, 10 months ago.

So my article on female antagonists is still a work in progress. I think it says a lot about this category of game characters when they’re actually quite difficult to talk about. I’ve primarily found that they’re either hypersexualized or extremely ugly and wishing they were beautiful. Interestingly, many of the respectable antagonists do not remain evil and end up “going good”. I look forward to fleshing this out a bit more, but as I said, it’s been difficult.

If you have any suggestions as to female antagonists that you have hated or loved in particular, please let me know!

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Hype! Buzz! Delay?!

By snowkissed 4 years, 11 months ago.

My article on female antagonists is currently a work in progress. It’s proving to be a bit more difficult than I thought it would be!

As games become increasingly popular, the methods behind creating the hype or buzz around an IP, be it licensed or entirely new, have adapted to meet and attract people from as many walks of life as possible. TV commercials have increased in their frequency, though they are still ridiculously expensive for publishers, and people “follow” games and companies on Twitter to get the latest news. Gamers, hardcore and casual alike, visit video game sites that follow a Blog style like Kotaku or ones similar to GirlGamer.

Now what I am about to propose is seen as an acceptable marketing strategy by some, a dirty move publishers make by others, and completely ridiculous by others. What is it, you ask?

Development “delays”.

Now while some of these are no doubt legitimate delays, since game development is extremely complicated, difficult to predict and reminiscent of a woman re-planning an entire wardrobe (am I right, ladies? This can take ages and a hole in your favorite slacks can ruin many outfits), I can’t help but think that certain delays are done to increase hype.

In order to understand this, it is important to recognize that many marketers think that “bad press is good press” since anything that brings attention to the game or company increases its exposure, thus leading to an increase in popularity, thus implying a potential growth in future sales (given the bad press is not outright destroying the company’s reputation).

The “quality” reason is often given for development delays, which may be legitimate in most cases. When it comes to the big publishers, however, there is no doubt (at least in my mind) that they were striving to create competition around key times. While popular release times, such as Christmas, may simply be a good deadline for companies, it seems silly, especially as a gamer, and convenient that the “big hits” happen to come out at the same time if they are from different publishers or they are staggered throughout the year.

When a game is delayed, that is one extra piece of news that can be released on all of our beloved gaming websites. It is an extra tweet. It is an extra status update for those games, developers and publishers that find themselves on Facebook. It is press that draws the eye and invites you to look further into the game, find out about it, find out why it is delayed, and make you want it.

What do you think? Am I being unreasonable? Is the increased hype after a delay announcement nonexistent, planned, or perhaps even just a positive side effect?

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Sex Me Up or Dress Me Down

By snowkissed 4 years, 11 months ago.

I am certain that the use of the word “sex” is guaranteed to catch anyone’s attention, especially when it comes to gaming. There were the ridiculous debacles surrounding Mass Effect when Fox News decided to listen to people who stated the game let you simulate rape and engage in all sorts of horrible, horrible sexual acts. But what of the state of how female characters are dressed and addressed in games today? Have the feminists quieted down? Do we still hate developers for the ridiculous leather and lace that barely covers the impossibly gorgeous and well-endowed bodies of heroines and love interests alike? Or do we, the female gamers who are sometimes told do not exist, secretly enjoy the sexiness which we can embody in games?

I once wrote an article that responded to certain gamer girl stereotypes that have been observed throughout the years as female involvement in games increases. I looked at cosplayers and commented on how given the characters we are presented with, we often do not have a choice but to bare it all when it comes to dressing ourselves like our favorite characters. If you google image “female game characters” the first page of results includes completely sexed up, half-naked sex-pot characters. Does this make me angry? No, it really does not. But I am starting to question whether or not my lack of a negative reaction is a problem.

I doubt I will change my mind any time soon since I have always enjoyed fantasy art and do recognize that games have always been a form of art. However, I am concerned as to the effect these voluptuous characters are having on our younger generation. Not just girls who feel pressured to have the perfect body, but rather the young men who grow up objectifying women.

Let us continue by taking a look at a few particular female game characters. I would like to begin with Lara Croft, a heroine we all know and love (or hate).

Lara is sexy, intelligent, agile, and just plain awesome. Her clothes are likely more sexy than they have to be, her breasts are impossible, and her face just screams sex. And yet lots of women idolize her, want to be her, and dress like her for Halloween or any other gaming events (conventions, etc.). She is well-known in the gaming world, having been around since 1996. Nude mods were made for her and movies have since been created. She is, quite simply, iconic.

Next up, let’s have a look at Samus. One of the first major female heroines in a game, she was introduced in 1986 in Metroid. Interestingly, her true gender is not revealed until the end of the game. And not only that, but her costume of choice for the reveal is a bikini.

Seriously? A bikini? They make a big deal about hiding her identity, almost as if “Hey, look, she’s super awesome – she must be a man!”, but then when they reveal her, they simply have to make it painstakingly obvious that she is female. And that she is subject to female game character substitutes. This is a little discouraging. Thanks to this sexy reveal, Samus has since become one of the more celebrated hot gamer heroines. Sure, I am happy that a woman is celebrated. I am not so happy that in order to be celebrated, she had to be in a bikini.

Let us look at one more game character. She is less well-known. She is dressed down. She relies on her intelligence and skill. Jade from Beyond Good and Evil gives hope to regular girls, but is stifled by the bosoms and bottoms of so many other women.

Jade is without a doubt (at least in my mind) attractive. But designers properly recognized that in order to be bad ass and sexy, she does not have to show off an impossible body. While other characters have been created, like Jade, in a more realistic sense (as realistic as you can get in a game with a talking pig!), they are far and few between. I am not offended by the use of skimpy costumes and huge breasts. I am not offended by the apparent need for a perky bottom and sleek figure. I am, rather, discouraged by the apparent need to cater to such a senseless demand that is, though perhaps unconscious, presented by most of the gaming community.

According to WomenGamers.com in 2008, 40% of gamers in the US alone are women. I’d imagine that the figures in other developed nations such as Canada and the UK would be similar. Will game developers start to recognize this and lessen the use of oversexed characters? Or will they stick to age-old, tried and true traditions? New releases featuring sexy heroines such as Velvet Assassin, Bayonetta and WET suggested the latter. Yet quiet hits such as Indigo Prophecy and Beyond Good and Evil suggest that some developers, at least, understand the true worth of realism.

Looking for sensible female characters? Check out these games: – Beyond Good and Evil : Jade – Indigo Prophecy: Carla Valenti – Resident Evil: Clare Redfield, Jill Valentine – No One Lives Forever: Cate Archer (NOLF 1 and 2) – Longest Journey: April Ryan – Dreamfall: The Longest Journey: ZoĆ« Castillo – Half-Life 2: Alyx Vance

For another look at women depicted in games, I plan to look at female antagonists.

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Glitter1989

Even Indigo Prophecy was a bit sexist in my opinion: ... (more)

snowkissed

Okay, I understand what you're saying, but many games call ... (more)

ccesarano

What you're talking about here I think of as save ... (more)