Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Twilight... with cheeseburgers

This sums up my initial impressions of Twilight, having not seen or read the movie or books. Sometime in the near future I will do so, and then I will comment AT LENGTH. But until then, there is this video and my many unanswered questions about: sparkly vampires, vampire baseball, and yeah, mostly just those two.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Should I be aghast?

I'm a bit tired today, so I'm not even going to comment substantially, here are some articles that do.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Brenda Laurel on Girls and Video Games

It can't just be a giant sexist conspiracy... these people aren't that smart!
Here is an interesting video about video games and girls, if you have 13 minutes knock yourself out. The idea is basically that girls weren't playing games, and then they analyzed what it would take to get girls to game and then implemented it and it was successful. But, the greater question, I think, is asked in the comments. Why are these games worth while for either gender? School games are a normal part of education these days, when I was growing up I had a kindergarten class from K-8 and even as I was an older child essentially T.A.ing in younger kids classes, the girls were no less interested in the games than boys.

There are 2 narratives going on here, the dynamic of the game industry as it relates to educational games, and the dynamic between empirical studies and social case studies. The most valuable part of this video is around 8 minutes where the lecturer actually shows interviews with girls who they interviewed.
If you're a tomboy playing a girl game, you might think they're a little sissy.
Rocket's Tricky Decision, seems interesting and Rocket as a character has a lot of potential for expansion. This is an interesting study because it talks about fan validation "this gives girls a chance to know that they're being seen." That validation is really important to any audience and to young girls, is certainly vital to development of confidence and will influence their choice as to whether to look at the game a second time or not.

The final note of the video however, a tongue in cheek jab at video game developers in general, speaks to an assumption made that I think takes away from the lecturer's point. I feel like she'd made her point, that this game has been successful because it listened. But traditional FPS games, listen to their fans as well, and there IS a large fan base for explosions, grotesque (meaning exaggerated) distortions of forms and the fantasy of immediate and dire action. Just because you as a creator do not want to look at that fan base doesn't mean that its not a reasonable segment of the market, and it doesn't help create your market to be antagonistic to others. While I'm sure she's encountered that antagonism from the Video Game establishment, she proves that there is a place for her, and other creatives making different narratives in the gaming arena.

The giant conspiracy is one of disinterest, no one has been interested enough to make the game before. It's not a question of an entrenched market preventing something, it's a question of no one stepping up and volunteering. The audience is there, there just aren't any products to fill it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Evil Love

Still one of Beatrix's favorite shows, and definitely my favorite for watchability, I'm posting from Phineas and Ferb again. Part of the stuff I've been writing, but not posting yet is tied up in the question of "love" as a motivator for heroes and heroines.

This song totally broke my heart a bit, and it is always nice to see the down to earth Evil Scientist and his functional amour rather than the crazy lady who so often falls for the evil guy. So often these are very capable women who fall in love but their love is unrequited and causes them to break down to the point of suicidal insanity. An example is Alcyone in Magic Knight Rayearth.Alcyone apprentices the antagonist, a powerful sorcerer, and learns to become almost as powerful as he is, but, because of her blindingly obsessive love for him, despite the fact he treats her terribly, she does his bidding and licks his boots rather than having any life outside her obsession. By all rights, she has the power to take over a piece of the universe herself, but even after he's made it abundantly clear that he is repulsed by her, she still follows his lead, rather than look outside her situation, maybe take a break.

From the West, you can see how most princesses (and lets be honest, most of our western heroines are princesses) entire life-goal is to find a man and they exert all their power, daring and skills to find a husband, then their story ends.

Successful franchises like say, Shrek, tend to try and throw that stereotype into a different light, but how that plays out outside the films tend to be downplays to cater exclusively to a young male audience, not bothering to make a play for a young female audience. This can be seen when you look at the Shrek franchise extensions and count the number of Princess Fionas you see. The answer is almost none, Donkey, Shrek and Puss in Boots are the ones who are exemplars of the brands, despite Fiona's importance to the movies. The point is once again that the female character isn't the focal point, and here, that she is only important as long as the male hero is in the shot.

The case of Alcyone also carries plenty of stereotyping of evil guys too, why do they fall for the ingenues when perfectly sexy and appealing ladies who seem more compatible are at hand? And certainly one can see examples from past girls franchises of men who seem equally dependant on powerful women. Isn't it interesting to have a partner who can call themselves just that?

As a lady, and one who is in love and has done crazy things for love, etc... I can comfortably say that love is a major part of the human condition, and certainly, love is also a motivator for male heroes and protagonists. Why then, do female characters tend towards obsessive or debilitated by their strong passions towards romance, while male counterparts are often spurred towards greater competence and focus?

Or is that just a perception and stereotype that one (in the case me) is putting on the story that they are seeing?