Feminism and Women in Games

I am a gamer-girl. I fly under the radar, and I never have Xbox chat open. Honestly, I never interact with random people in game and I completely ignore trade chat. So, I’ve never experienced the bullying and misogyny that many other gamer-girls have.
But I have noticed, the lack of (well written) women characters in games. Sometimes it’s directly sexist, other times it’s just like, the women disappeared except for the occasional bar-maid or rescue quest. Never really main characters unless you *decide* to play as FemShep or FemHawke.
Bioshock Infinite, I felt, was groundbreaking because their female character was remarkably well written, strong, capable, and <spoiler> saves your ass more times than you can count </spoiler>.
A lot of people, when talking about female characters focus on what they look like. Which, I understand, I guess, but I also find it…I don’t know. I feel like if your complaint about female characters is centered around how they look, then you’re putting women into games as sex appeal just as much as the other people (without taking into account whether or not the design fits the entire world/style of the game and isn’t a special thing). Honestly, it’s an animation, I don’t particularly take issue with how things were rendered so long as the design fits the style of the game and story.
What I do wish, is that the writing of Elizabeth and her character-type weren’t groundbreaking. I wish it were standard. I wish women were written better, and even, actually written as characters as opposed to furniture or quest objectives. Maybe eventually we could get to the point of having a female character showcased as the default – but that isn’t going to happen until other things happen first.
As a consumer looking in to the world of games, I think that it’s a little similar to the world of female directors – there are some who work in “the industry”, but not many. Before anything changes I think we need to encourage people to write better characters, better stories, and encourage women to enter the game writing/design/programming world. That’s going to take time – especially, because apparently this is so new to people? It’s maybe not so much that it’s intentionally sexist (although, a lot of people are) but, like the absence of women in games, they just aren’t there (or if they are, they’re somewhere hidden in a male-dominated world, and we need to support them, and/or become involved ourselves).
Women should be in games and in the game creating industry not because they are women (because if we’re starting there, then I think we’ve already “lost”) but because women are people, human (just like men, WHAT?! o.O) and have just as much talent, insight, and story to offer as anyone else does. I think when we stop separating our lives – in and out of game – by gender, we’ll be a lot better off.
But that isn’t going to just happen.
If we want to see this happen, then we need to be writing the stories, making the art, making the games and becoming involved in the process. Gearbox (Borderlands) and Irrational Games (Bioshock Infinite) are two companies that I know of who take care in their story writing, and in their writing/creation of female characters – there are others, but those are just the two that come to mind right now (and then there’s indie games and I could go on – there are options!). Penny-Arcade forums are a great resource for getting started and the best thing to do? just make stuff. make lots of stuff. make the stuff you want to see, make stuff with other people, and put your stuff out there.
So that’s my advice – brought to you by the E3 controversies.

[evolve]

I lived in a rigid world with rigid language. Words like evolve and evolution were almost taboo and never spoken except in reference to something bad (or the theory, which was also bad). The act of evolving was treated with disdain when it was obvious. The word fascinates, resonates with me – it always has. Evolve – the gradual growth and change. The word itself rocks rigidity, rocks the mindset and the world; it’s no wonder it was practically shunned – that I was scared to breathe it until after adulthood without feeling the need to caveat.
Still, as I mused at 3:30 this morning, if there was one word that described all of me – my values, my personality, my goals – it would be evolve. I don’t want to stop growing in my 20’s; to remain stagnant for the rest of my existence. What is existence if there’s no evolution? If we’re not changing and growing and learning? If we resign ourselves to staying the same, shunning any personal change, how does that make us better? wiser? experienced?

To me, the integral part of my existence is the ability to evolve and continue evolving. To learn, to change, to strive. I survived by suppression, by trying not to change – I didn’t start living, no, thriving, until I allowed myself to grow, to gradually change, and embrace that this is what my humanity means to me.evolve

KieryGeek Preproduction Note Three: Organization

Over the last month or so, I’ve been writing down ideas and thoughts for the next season in whatever place I had handy. Last week, I went through and organized all of my notes into several google documents for easy access. I wrote the first script and idea-ized the next 12-15. I put together a list of interview questions and over the weekend figured out how I’d like to proceed with that.
So, I thought I’d share some of the tools I used to make putting all these thoughts together a little easier.

1) Notebooks. I used whatever notebook I had handy, the first batch of notes I put in my Carpe Diem journal of happiness, and the second batch I wrote in my art journal because I had that with me.

Art journal notes

2) Task management. I’ve been alpha-testing a task management and time keeper tool called tasktend. It’s much easier for me to use than google to-do lists, or to-doist because the interface is better and more straight forward. There’s an easy way to delete and close tasks and you can drag the ones that you want to do that day on to your “plate” and you have have multiple projects/lists for specific tasks. For example, I have a KieryGeek list for my preproduction tasks, a Bruce Roberts list for all the integration and things I need to setup before winter – and when I want to know what I should work on for the day, I’ll move items into my plate to keep it organized – but I can also track the tasks within my project if I don’t feel like moving it out. It’s seamless and easy and epic, but it’s not out yet – so I’d suggest finding a tool that works for your work-flow-style until it’s eventually released.

Tasktend interface

3) Google Docs. I use google docs to keep the tentatively finished ideas and information accessible and shareable. I have one for interviews and how I plan on setting them up, I have one for general ideas and direction, and I have another that is basically an episode map. I tried to use the questionnaire template but that didn’t work as well as I’d hoped. Currently, I’m just using the plain doc format.
Episode guide
I decided to write out 13 episodes at once – well 13 episode ideas at once, so I get a sense of what I’m going to need shot wise and I have more flexibility for re-arranging things. I can also line up some episodes to correlate to upcoming events, like The Hobbit.
4) Calendar. I have a repeating event in iCal (synced with my google calendar) occurring every other Friday for several reasons. First, I can go and count the episodes and figure out which day the 4th or 10th episode is going to take place on. Secondly, I can use that information to make sure that I cover anything interesting happening within that two week time frame, and lastly, so I remember to stay on schedule and actually release the episodes.
Calendar
One of the more helpful things I did, and decided early on, was to come up with a tag – one sentence that basically summed up the direction of the show that would also help keep me focused when I needed inspiration.

KieryGeek: Your bi-weekly fix for interesting bits of geekery, gaming, and fangirl-gasm-ing.

I wanted to mix the phrases fangirl and fangasm into one verb, because it seemed to be both more accurate, and more fun.

The Outbreak (part 7)

Amy tossed and turned. Water was all she could think about but she couldn’t muster the strength to ask. She opened her bleary eyes and looked about the room. She found the cup; and noticed her parents asleep on chairs outside. She reached as far as she could to no avail. Defeated, she closed her eyes. In her mind, viewed the cup coming to her still outstretched arm and felt a splash. Her eyes bolted open; startled to be holding the cup she couldn’t even reach a mere moment ago, warm water dripped down her hand and wrist. Shock and panic began to overwhelm her, she tried to fake calmness as she sipped her water and gently placed the cup down on the bed rail.
A nurse must have come in and given it to me while I had my eyes closed and is probably just around the corner Amy hoped as she peered over the edge to see around the room. No one was there, the door was still shut, there was no sound besides the constant beep of the monitors and her heart beating in ears.
Amy laid back and closed her eyes. She thought of her cold toes and imagined the blankets moving over her feet. When her eyes opened, nothing had changed. She sat up and frustratedly put the scratchy blanket back over her toes and pushed the service button.

“Thanks, Sasha” Agent Ryan said as the screen went back into place and the other feeds came back into view. He leaned back in his chair with his pad, spun once and moved towards his desk.

The Outbreak (part 6)

“Amy, honey” Her mom whispered softly lowering herself into a chair by the bed, her father put his hand on her mother’s shoulder and looked down teary-eyed. “I’m so…sorry” Amy managed to murmur. Her parents cried and held her hand as the world faded into black again.

Black suit, soft steps, swipe of a card, whir of a door – the room is completely dark but responds to the touch of his finger. “Sasha” he says in a clear voice and a line of blue light makes its way around the circular room. “Agent Ryan Parker” she greeted as warmly as possible for an AI. Lights slowly came on, and images of hospital rooms appeared on a wall to the left. “Your patients are all stable, the doctors reports are on the console” he moved toward the center of the room as his work station lit up – the tablet on the desk awakened with the latest updates. He flipped through the reports scanning for anything abnormal.
An alert started going off – one of the screens to the left lit up. “Sasha, focus on that one” Ryan swiveled his chair to grab a notebook and watched intensely at the feed.

The Outbreak (part 5)

Apologies for the length of time between this installation and the last one. Life and vacation happened and I ran out of words. I finally managed to put a few together this morning because I just needed to write. Hopefully I’ll break down this block and write more frequently again, thanks for your patience.

“It seems,” said the doctor quietly as he secured the door “that your daughter has become infected with a rare strain of smallpox”. Silence and worried looks passed throughout the small quarantined room – it was then that Amy noticed her parents and the doctor were all wearing masks. “Smallpox was in the case” she realized, horrified.
As the doctor continued to explain the situation as best he could, dread filled the atmosphere. “Unfortunately, because of this weaponized strain, there is as of yet, no antidote. We’re not sure what will happen, but we have the best people working on this. I suggest that this information stays within this room, and as far as friends and other family are concerned, we tell them it’s just a very bad case of the chicken pox until we know more.”
He hung his head apologetically and left the room, giving the family some space and time to process everything that they had just learned.

Catching up? Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

The Outbreak (part 4)

Squeaky wheels, bright lights, everything was blurring – voices, rolling, walls, beeping. Slowly unfamiliar faces came into focus. “w-wh-where, where am I?” Amy mumbled, stuttering as she was carted through a set of doors.
Doctors were shouting and saying something about “CC’s” and “pox”, they shot something into her arm and everything grew dim again.
 
When she awoke, her parents were standing outside the door of what she assumed was her hospital room. Suddenly remembering what had happened when she left the campus, Amy bolted up only to be jerked back by an IV and tubes embedded into her rashy skin. Her parents and the doctor turned towards her from the doorway and started in.

The Outbreak (part 3)

The room slowly quieted. “It seems, that there was a mishap with the cases during transport. We don’t know what happened, we’re launching an investigation to look into it. A few of our operatives in charge of transporting are also missing.”
He breathed slowly, keeping his composure that was hanging by a thread. “At this time we are unsure how many – if any – people have been exposed to the weaponized virus. Right now, we’re assuming that there has been exposure. I suggest we alert hospitals and local CDC offices in the areas that the virus may have been transported through. We’re working on finding out the exact routes so we can get the list to you.”
The room nodded in unison. “How many antidotes do we have available?” asked one man in a lab coat on the far side of the room.
Gulping, the agent answered “This strain was newly developed by our scientists – there is no readily available antidote, although one is being worked on as we speak. The only course of action I have to offer is to alert the medical staff and CDC at the locations the agency will be sending to you and to treat it carefully. We don’t want people to know there has been a smallpox outbreak, or that it’s a new strain. I suggest treating it like a case of normal smallpox…or chicken pox.”
With that, he stood up and quietly exited the room – leaving a crowd of speechless and panicked doctors and scientists in his wake.