Hello, tumblr. It’s been quite some time, now hasn’t it. I’ve been busy playing loads of games, but lately I’ve been focusing on the MOBA League of Legends. My account level is currently only at 11, so I still consider myself quite new to the experience, but I’m enjoying the 30-40 hours I’ve already poured into the Fields of Justice.
Having said that, I’d like to document the time I spend playing League and how I feel about each champ that I encounter. Although I only own a few of the champs, the weekly free rotation is always varied enough to give me new experiences each time I play.
So forgive me if this turns into Jen’s League of Legends blog. I can’t promise it will be fun, but I will try to make it entertaining.
This was written some time ago, but its relevance is quickly fading into obscurity. For now, I’ll just post it here for general perusal. If anyone would like to throw it up on a publication, feel free, just be sure to credit me (Jen Shaffer, 8-bit wolf in sheep’s clothing).
Have you ever seen a tampon commercial? If you’re male, there’s a chance that you just tune out the narration, animations, or dialogue between the inevitable two women on screen, close your eyes, and wait for sweet, sweet death to carry you away. Typically, I am right there with you. I don’t need a woman contorting herself in some shade of yoga, wearing all white, talking about how fresh she is to persuade me to shove things up my vagina, but I’m sure it helps some people make a decision between Tampax and any other brand of tampon. I’ve coined this marketing misstep the “Period Phenomenon,” where someone is consistently giving the thumbs-up to ideas that perpetuate a reality in which very few women exist.
Marketing for video games has obvious parallels to the “Period Phenomenon.” For as different as the two products are, something is still being sold. With male-oriented items, such as 15-blade razors, Axe body spray, manly-man boots and the like, ad campaigns strive to show off how much a man you will be if you purchase their product. This makes sense because these items were created with men in mind. Video games tread interesting waters. If you ask any game developer, they won’t readily admit to making a game just for men, because that makes absolutely no sense. Women buy games, women like games, they make up a large chunk of their consumer base. Then why do most ads and commercials seem targeted to a male audience? It might not be as blatant as two dudes punching each other in the arm, complaining about their girlfriends, while doing keg stands and somehow also talking about how amazing the new Black Ops 2 is going to be (I know, bro! I KNOW!), but the subtle gender tones are ever-present.
These triggers are typically well hidden. So well hidden, that when I watch trailers for video games or take a look at promotional material, it rarely occurs to me that what my eyeballs are soaking up wasn’t necessarily meant for my demographic. When gender keywords are thrown into the mix, a dim light goes on above my head and then flickers out of existence as I shake off the idea that this ad might suppose I am a man. Then, much like a lazy person watching Hulu, refusing to like or dislike ads, there it is. My version of the tampon commercial, slapping me in the face with the idea that somehow my non-existent “girlfriend” will be okay with me playing this game for X reason, and I better jump on it before she gets on my balls about playing too many video games.
Let me take a moment and attack the portrayal of women who date men that play video games. For as disconnected as I sometimes feel to the way normal women act, I know that the majority are not playing into this stereotype we all see in ads. These women who are shouting from other rooms for their men to quit gaming or waiting for an expressed invite into a game while casting forlorn glances from the corner of a room are not the standard. I understand that it isn’t the job of a marketing firm to make a commercial believable. If that were the case, television would be fairly boring - as if it isn’t already. However, to consistently paint women as the negatory aggressors or emotional black holes in a gaming situation is just poor form and, frankly, quite lazy.
Just this year, GameStop ran a cross-promotion with 1-800-Flowers for pre-ordering Twisted Metal, which was slated for a Valentine’s Day release date. The ad showed the game marked with “For You” and then a $10 off coupon for flowers, denoted classily with “For Her.” It stings. The amount of assumptions on the part of the marketing department over at GameStop effectively crushed any good intentions underfoot, leaving most gamers with a bad taste in their mouth. At the same time, how much good press does GameStop actually receive over the course of a year? They are a lot like that guy who shows up to a party already drunk with these wild ideas of what will constitute a good time. You know he’s going to break something and ruin the night, but people always invite him anyway on the off-chance he’ll show up sober.
This builds up to the announcement of Borderland 2’s “Girlfriend mode.” Officially called “Best Friends Forever,” the name refers to the skill tree of the Mechromancer - the fifth class for Borderlands 2. The skill set makes the character easier to play and according to lead designer John Hemingway, is meant for people who “suck at first-person shooters” and further described it as “for the lack of a better term, the girlfriend skill tree.” Personally, I could think of quite a few better terms than that.
This was seemingly just a one-off mistake on the part of a Gearbox team member - one I can completely forgive him for - unfortunately, the concept lingers in the community like that awkward guy who still spouts Anchorman quotes. I have dated men who know less about video games than the majority of my female friends, but I will never see a “boyfriend-mode” ad pop up, or a character created especially to rope them into a game perceived as being female-centric.
How would that go? you ask. Let me paint the picture with my magical words. A girl is sitting on the edge of her couch, headset on, leaning forward, completely engrossed in her match. Her boyfriend walks in, sees that his girlfriend is still playing video games, and lets out a massive sigh. As he turns and begins to walk away, she calls out, “Wait, honey. There’s something in this game for you too!” He whips back to her with a skeptical look on his face and she pats the couch cushion, holding out a pink controller with her other hand. Jumping into the seat, he gives his lady a demure smile, leans over and plants a peck on her cheek. Breaking the fourth wall, she looks into the souls of any idiot this could possibly work on, and gives them a wink.
For as ridiculous as that scenario might seem, it’s equally so when I see any given video game ad involving a male and female couple pop up on screen. Generally, I like it when my video game ads forget that I have a significant other completely. I might love him, but he has very little say in the games I play or purchase, a situation I’m sure many men find themselves in on a regular basis.
Games aren’t gender-centric anymore, if they ever were initially. The whole point of playing a game is to be something you aren’t - a soldier, a superhero, Godzilla, Bart Simpson, Bartzilla - and experience things you don’t normally encounter - a war, underwater cities, space exploration, owning a house and having a family. The idea that women can’t - or won’t - get into video games because a character is male strikes me as incredibly presumptuous.
“Just please let us heal you and stand idly by in the background until we are needed. At the end of the day, we don’t want to be leaders, key players, or independent characters. If we did, we would have had some movement in the 60s and 70s,” said by no woman ever.
Drawing attention to the problem seems somewhat redundant, as every time the industry slips up and a sexist ad slips through the cracks the internet as a whole is on it like gangbusters. So where is the point in all of this?
These mistakes shouldn’t happen. We aren’t gaining female gamers when a problem like this crops up. For as easily as a trailer can build hype, the same can stop females from adopting gaming as a hobby, simply because it’s isolates the title. I have always been an advocate of creating a safe and inviting space for men and women alike to test out the waters of gaming. It’s brought me such joy in my lifetime, I can’t imagine depriving someone of that same experience. By eradicating things like “Girlfriend-mode” and growing as a community to the point where marketing campaigns are truly without gender bias, we can foster a more inviting environment and maybe help gamers shake the elitist stereotype touted by mainstream media.
I played it, wrote about it, and now I’m giving it to you, tumblr. Make it sticky.
This one is going to be short, because I am so far behind on updating this…
Diablo III Just regular Normal mode, I’m about halfway through the game on Nightmare and then I can move into Inferno. Hopefully along the way I can start selling items for millions of dollars like my friends have been doing. Video games = money. Who would have thought?
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier I’m working on a video review of this game that will hopefully be up today or tomorrow. Good single player campaign, I’m a little worried about going into a multiplayer game since I’m far better with a keyboard and mouse.
JAM Arcade Now this game is different. I don’t know if it’s necessarily good, but it is taking rhythm games to a new level. It’s more like DJ Hero meets Rock Band, which sounds like it would just be DJ Hero all over again, but it isn’t. You activate 1-5 tracks and then activate tracks WITHIN the tracks… So I guess it’s more like Inception meets DJ Hero meets Rock Band.
I’ve been on vacation for the past two weeks and believe me I’ve been productive. In addition to reading the shit out of 2.5 books (Fantasy Freaks & Gaming Geeks, Ready Player One, and half of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close), I also beat three games.
They are all 3DS titles, so don’t go thinking I’m amazing or that they were long or anything… here we go…
PUSHMO. This is a pretty great game, especially for a cheap-o downloadable title. I’m glad they didn’t call it “Pullmo” but that’s really what you spend the majority of the game doing. Pulling out blocks to scale a large sculpture and save the small children (or whatever they are) stranded at the top. The game took much longer to beat than I anticipated, I’ve been playing it over the course of a few months, but the last few puzzles took me around 30 minutes each. Big game, worth the download.
Star Fox 64 3D. This was my first experience playing Star Fox. I can hear anyone reading this shouting at me through the internet with lots of swear words and angry comments about my wasted youth. Don’t worry, I got on the ball, it only took about 15 years and a port, but I ended up playing it. I didn’t do so hot my first time through. Actually, I got the worst possible outcomes I could. Fuck a bunch of Andross. :\ I can see the fantastic replayability factor and I understand why I should have played this title already. So I did. And I’ll play more of it in the future.
Kid Icarus: Uprising. Let me start by stressing how much I blow at this game. I really suck. Sometimes I have my moments of clarity where I will go a whole section without being hit, but being allowed to choose my difficulty on a sliding scale of 0-10 just results in my inevitable embarrassment on the lower end of the scale. I should be playing at a 7.0, not dying pathetically on a 4.5! Overall, it’s a great re-imagining of the series and although the campy nature of the characters can be a little boring, it’s still really cute and fun.
THANKS, AEROPLANES, FOR GIVING ME TIME TO PLAY VIDEO GAMES.
This is probably the longest title I’ve taken up since the new year. When the week was over and the damage was done, I had spent 17 hours being War.
I’m starting off by saying this game isn’t revolutionary. You aren’t going to find yourself enthralled by the story or the gameplay, but it is a mad amount of fun. Outright stealing elements from Zelda (Shadow War, hookshot, boomerang, bomb plants), Portal (a portal gun, I’m not even joking), and God of War (combat and some quicktime events), you might assume that the whole game would just make you angry. But it doesn’t. It’s a great combination of the two larger elements, and the mashup is a lot like a Girl Talk song. Fun.
Darksiders is definitely worth the price during a Steam sale. I got my copy for $10 during the Xmas sale of 2010. So it only took me a year to get around to it… good lord, I’m a terrible gamer.
With the news that the servers for Demon’s Souls are going offline at the conclusion of May, I’m going to put that on the top of my list. Adding to that, Josh purchased a ton of games on XBLA, including FEZ, that I can’t wait to sink my teeth into. Unfortunately, he and I are leaving for vacation fairly soon and I’ve gotta get my portable gaming situation in order.
It’s weird, you’ll probably throw up while playing it, but I promise this is unlike anything you’ve experienced before.
Maybe a week or so ago I did a straight playthrough of Journey. For those who don’t know, Journey is a very gorgeous adventure that you can undertake alone or with another random PS3 user.
I was lucky enough to have my partner stick with me throughout the duration, and we were able to experience the game together. As Josh pointed out, one of the players he spent the most time with didn’t even speak English. The game manages to transcend language and break down communication into the basics of pinging your partner to acquire their attention.
As you bound about these beautiful environments, you only have a few goals. Collect scarf extensions that allow you to fly about longer and avoid the large enemies that scan the ground for signs of life. Simple, accessible, and fun.
Although it was a short experience, the game was well worth the cost. Even though Josh was the one to initially pay for it. I highly recommend giving it a try. It’s a relaxing title that will give you around 1.5 hours of entertainment.
Skyrim. Finally. I started this journey almost five full months ago, and have just finished the main story line. I only have two small side quests left and whatever other infinite quests I choose to be a part of, but I’m ready to retire the game until DLC is released. I really appreciated the kill cam addition in the update, as this wasn’t a necessary feature, and required a good deal of programming.
Everyone knows how I feel about this game. It’s been taking up a lot of my time since November 11th, but I’m really happy to be done. The final battle with Alduin wasn’t nearly as epic as I initially assumed it would be, but I was almost level 57 and can’t exactly complain that the game wasn’t prepared for my massive leveling.
My favorite character in Skyrim was Paarthurnax. Hands down. Why the game would ever try to entice me to kill him is beyond me. I’ve even read up on the perk you acquire if you do and it wasn’t terribly impressive. He can live. In all of my playthroughs.
So now it’s the question of “What’s next?” I’ve got my eyes on the Darksiders series, Dark Souls, The Darkness, and Serious Sam 3. I know the last doesn’t exactly fit, but whatever. I’m okay with that. 13 games down, a million more to go…