Feminist Frequency, a web series run by Anita Sarkeesian that explores “representations of race, gender, sexuality, class and ability in popular culture,” launched a Kickstarter campaign a few weeks back for a new series of videos entitled Tropes vs. Women in Video Games. The project will examine and comment on female video game character stereotypes throughout gaming’s history.
Several opinion pieces take aim at the latest trailer for Hitman: Absolution. The trailer, dubbed "Saints," borders on being offensive, according to some because it depicts the sexualization of violence against women. In a nutshell the trailers play out a fight between Agent 47 and several fem fatales disguised as nuns. Under those Catholic uniforms are the buxom forms of women who are clearly not dedicated to the service of the church. As the group of nuns approach the hotel room where Agent 47 is staying they strip off their disguises to reveals skimpy leather outfits.
A 39-year-old women's road trip to allegedly have sex with an underage boy proved to be a dumb idea. The tale of the 16-year-old boy from Joppa, Florida and a 39-year-old woman from Maryland began with the two meeting up in the online game War 2 Glory, where the two enjoyed flying bombers together.
According to a GamesIndustry International report, Electronic Arts has become the target of a letter writing campaign by family advocacy groups who are upset with same-sex relationships in several of its games including Mass Effect 3 and Star Wars: The Old Republic.
Adult video streaming company SugarDVD is expanding its service with a new app for the PlayStation 3. The saucy adult video service is already available on ROKU, BOXEE, and Google TV. For around $8 a month adult users can watch unlimited streaming titles divided up amongst various categories (which we're not going to mention here). There are also DVD and streaming combo packages, with the most expensive plan - 8 DVDs out at a time and unlimited streaming - for about $40 a month.
In a Quarter to Three article called "BioWare plays the gay card," Tom Chick explains why having same sex relationships in games like Mass Effect 3 is the right thing to do in this day and age. He also takes a few shots at the clumsy relationship mechanics and writing in the game. First he offers some examples of how male Commander Shepherd doesn't flinch when a crew member on the Normandy talks about his husband.
Indie game studio Size Five Games has won a BAFTA for controversial sex education game, Privates. The game won the Learning Secondary BAFTA.
"It’s a complete honor and a total shock,” Size Five’s Dan Marshall said about receiving the coveted award that honors the best and brightest entertainment that the United Kingdom has to offer. "I was excited enough about being able to start all my Press Releases from now on with the words ‘BAFTA-nominated’, but winning one is a whole other level."
While those who don't know anything at all about video games are quick to use them as an excuse for many of society’s ills (crime, violence, obesity, attention deficit and a myriad of psychological disorders), now everyone thinks they are bad. In fact a growing number of academics see the value in video games as teaching aids. For example, a Yale professor is trying to use them to teach sex education.
If you want man-on-man and woman-on-woman action in the next Mass Effect game, you'll be happy to hear that BioWare has made your wish its command. According to a tweet from executive producer Casey Hudson, Jane and John Shepard will support a wider array of romantic options, adding that the writing team is handling love interests of existing characters "with sophistication" and will do their best to "preserve character continuity." From his twitter feed:
"Happy to confirm #ME3 supports wider options for love interests incl. same-sex for m&f chars, reactive to how you interact w/them in-game."
Hudson also revealed "love interests won't all necessarily be permanent squad members." Fans can look forward to love across the universe, it would seem.
One gay gamer has put together an online petition asking BioWare to fire Dragon Age 2 lead writer David Gaider. The same guy that vehemently defended BioWare's decision to include same sex encounters in its games has become the target of gamers who are upset with the portrayal of one gay character in the game. The unnamed complainant calls it a disrespectful stereotype of homosexuals.
An online petition, found here, lays out the case against Gaider:
Welcome to "Public Service Gaming." What the hell is it? Apparently it is a game that is part of a campaign that teaches people about important issues. One such game teaches youngsters in London about sexually transmitted diseases and encourages them to get a free test. The game is called Checkurself and is located at www.checkurself.org.uk/game. In it players shoot infected bunnies with antibiotics to treat whatever nasty disease they have. It makes sense as rabbits like to do it like.. well .. rabbits.
The Pan-European Game Information (PEGI) rating board, the organization responsible for rating games in Europe, defended its decision to rate We Dare for 12 year olds and above (PEGI 12) this week, even as Ubisoft takes extra precautionary measures to warn parents about the game's content. It's interesting because it undercuts PEGI's stance.
A statement by the ratings board (found on Cubed3D) defends the decision to rate it for such a young age group, stating that "it contains mild swearing, minor assault on a human-like character and words/activities that amount to obvious sexual innuendo, explicit sexual descriptions or images and sexual posturing."
While most looked at that We Dare trailer and thought "hey this is pretty silly," some regular haters in the United Kingdom are stepping up to complain about Ubisoft's adult-themed Wii game. Speaking to the Daily Mail (a regular hater of all things fun), Leicaster East MP Keith Vaz released a statement that was constrained and to the pint: he thinks the rating for the game may be too low. Even pro video game fans might tend to agree with him:
"The new 'We Dare' game has clearly been wrongly marked as a 12 plus. As a family friendly console, Wii must ensure that there are proper checks and a full consultation before games are graded for use by children. This game should not be released until these checks are made."
Fair enough. The game does contain mini-games that I wouldn't want my 12-year-old engaging in.. like spanking another 12-year-old.. But I suppose that's all up to their parents.
Ubisoft has confirmed that We Dare is a European only release. The saucy, adult themed Wii game that challenges couples to engage is some risqué behavior to score points and "get a little closer" is apparently too hot for U.S. gamers.
While the reaction to the We Dare commercial was mostly disbelief, it would be hard to say that journalists on this side of the pond found it to be offensive - silly, and a little too suggestive for our taste, maybe - but inappropriate for America? No way. If we can have Dennis Franz showing his big ass on TV, we can handle a couple taking turns spanking each other in a commercial.
Ubisoft must have felt some embarrassment at the trailer being so widely noticed online and ended up yanking it off YouTube under the guise of a regional copyright issue. In other words, it contacted YouTube to violate itself. Strange.
Ubisoft told IGN that We Dare would "absolutely not see release in the United States."
Update: Ubisoft has blocked its own video in the United States on YouTube. Watching the video brings up the following copyright notice:
"We Dare - Have a spicy evening !"
This video contains content from Ubisoft, who has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds.
Original Story: A promotional video for Ubisoft's decidedly adult Wii Party game, We Dare, will either make you cringe or laugh. Is the video some clever joke marketing or are these people serious? It's hard to tell..
This party game is supposed to be played with your "very attractive friends" and asks you to engage in some questionable behavior using the Wii Remote.
The mini-games will lead to some promiscuous behavior or a fistfight with a friend. To quote that classic comedy song, "Hands off my wife, the party's over."
The Border House, a site dedicated to bringing equality to gaming for the disenfranchised and marginalized, reports on some interesting comments from Microsoft Game Studios' Tom Abernathy. In a recent rant, Abernathy laments the lack of female protagonists in games and says that by not serving female gamers companies are only serving half of their audiences. Abernathy worked on Halo: Reach, Destroy All Humans!, and The Saboteur.
Abernathy's rant on the subject:
The creators of the x-rated game BoneTown, are setting their sights on a sci-fi fantasy world game called "BoneCraft." Announced at the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo (AEE) this week, BoneTown developer D-Dub Software takes aim at the fantasy MMO market with a risqué game involving humans, elves, orcs, "BoneTown-style fighting," and of course - sex..
BoneCraft is described by its developers as a "fantasy/sci-fi parody game that will appeal to both the adult gamers who have always loved BoneTown and to the legions of fans of the fantasy/sci-fi genre." Players will "be able to experience what has never been possible in other games of the genre— taking the action all the way to the bedroom." The game plays off the popularity of Blizzard's World of Warcraft and StarCraft games.
Saucy, naughty and NSFW. The CEO of D-Dub does his best to explain what the game is all about:
What is the best way to handle a news story about an adult-themed Kinect game you might have seen on YouTube? Create a report about it where parents are concerned about their kids playing it. Forget for a minute that it's not actually available on a regular retail Xbox 360 with a Kinect, or that it is basically just a video floating around YouTube..
That is exactly what Martina Valverde, Morning News Reporter at KFox TV in El Paso, Texas did in a report called Adult Video Game In The Works For Kinect System Has Parents Concerned. In the report, she apparently brings the video of an adult groping game to the attention of parents who have a five-year-old son. The son got the game system for Christmas.
Update: As one commenter points out, this hack "fulfills" Rule 34, it doesn't "break" it. I've updated the headline and the text below to reflect that.
Kinect hackers have done some interesting things with Microsoft's motion-sensing camera device like making it control RC vehicles, created a "Minority Report" style control scheme, and a hack to track a body while not using an Xbox 360. The latest hack finally fulfills Rule 34. It was inevitable, of course.
The Urban Dictionary defines Rule 34 in the following manner:
"Generally accepted internet rule that states that pornography or sexually related material exists for any conceivable subject."
Thinking of having unprotected sex? Maybe this public service video from Leicestershire Teenage Pregnancy Partnership in England will change your mind. The video for teens uses Super Mario and Mega Man style 8-bit graphics to deliver a fun little message. Check out the video to the left for a laugh.
Find out more about the Leicestershire Teenage Pregnancy Partnership here.
Thanks to Kotaku
Earlier this week, we reported on the results of a moot court hosted by the Institute of Bill of Rights Law at William & Mary Law School, in which several noted journalists, legal scholars, and even a federal judge sat down to hash out a mock version of the Schwarzenegger v. EMA case pending before the Supreme Court. The IBRL moot court found 6-3 in favor of the State of California, causing some concern as to whether the result was an outlier or a hint towards how the Supreme Court may rule.
Apparently, William & Mary is not the only law school considering the question. New York Law School, famous for their annual State of Play conference, held a moot court competition of their own featuring a fact pattern very similar to that of the Schwarzenegger v. EMA case. We obtained a copy of the bench brief from the case, which was written by NYLS third year law students Andrew Blancato and John Hague for the Charles W. Froessel Intramural Moot Court Competition.
The explicit nature of a sex education game is apparently enough to keep it off Xbox Live Arcade.
Zombie Cow Studios, developer of the game Privates, has been told that the game probably would not be approved in a peer review of the game, according to company co-founder Dan Marshall.
“The guys at Xbox have been amazing. They’ve been really supportive and helpful throughout, but ultimately have advised that the game wouldn’t pass the Indie Games Peer Review process, purely due to its inherently sexual nature. As a result, if you want to play as a tiny little man blasting away inside someone’s innards, the only place to do it is privatesgame.com”
According to the game description:
The University of Central Florida is developing a game designed to teach pre-teen girls how to fend off peer pressure-driven sex.
A report on the game by an Orlando Fox affiliate bills the title as promoting abstinence among kids and works by using “simulation and digital puppetry.” Charles Hughes, a UCF Computer Science Professor described it by saying, “…one person controls many characters by jumping into the skin.”
The price tag of the game was put at around $434,000, which seems exorbitant until you consider that the game makes use of motion-capture suits and infra-red lights which enable users to control the on-screen avatars. The game is expected to be completed next year.
A Fox anchor introduced the story by noting that “It is your money and the University of Central Florida is using it for a surprising project.”
People spending other people’s money just can’t seem to stop themselves from buying videogames.
NewsOK carries the story of 44-year old Cynthia Low, a former Senior Financial Assistant in Oklahoma State University's chemistry department, who apparently used school funds to procure Nintendo Wii games, women’s undergarments, jewelry and a variety of sex toys.
Low left her position after hints of impropriety, but it appears tax payers may be on the hook for the tens of thousands in illicit purchases, as OSU officials said they had no choice but to pay the bills for the items.
In her position Low routinely purchased laboratory and office supplies adding up to over $10,000 per month. OSU said that it is investigating the matter and that it would not “tolerate this type of action.”
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam is awash in a sea of pornographic games, which are displayed—and often can be played—out in the open.
An article in the Vietnam Vet Bridge details the spread of such games, from touch-screen, table top interfaces in malls or trading centers, to being offered for sale in markets (for use with game consoles like the PlayStation 2) and ultimately, to their availability online. One shopkeeper claimed that she sells “many games with sexy girls daily, adding that they were a favorite among teens.”
A reporter from the paper Tuoi Tre purchased one game disc for the price of 20,000 dong (approximately $1.07 U.S.), prompting the paper to corner Le Manh Ha (pictured), Director of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Information and Communications, for some answers regarding an apparent lack of government regulation.
Not long after the ESRB retracted their online ratings summary of PSP game Dead or Alive: Paradise, the "creepy" and "voyeuristic" game is in the spotlight once again, with director Yoshinori Ueda claiming the game is not "soft-core porn".
In an interview with Eurogamer, Ueda fired back at critics claiming the game is sexist, saying "We're certainly not trying to degrade women. They have beautiful bodies. We're trying to show off the beauty of their bodies but we're not trying to be degrading about it - we're trying to show that they are beautiful characters."
Ueda counters accusations that DoA:P's excessive mammaries have nothing to do with game play by asserting that DoA:P isn't really a game anyway, at least not in "the traditional sense". "What we offer is a selection of things to play and activities to have fun with. The players have the freedom to play Paradise however they want," Ueda said. "For us, the goal was really to offer a little bit of paradise to the users, and we hope that people playing the game will be able to come away with the feeling that they've visited paradise."
GP: So it is a game, it's not a game, it's about the characters, it's about whatever the players want... Ueda's point unfortunately gets lost amidst the contradictions. It's a bit disingenuous to suggest that his game actually attempts to honor women, while dismissing that some may feel degraded. And while various branches of modern feminism offer competing arguments about whether women should or shouldn't to take pride in having an attractive body, the characters Ueda features in DoA:P aren't real -- they're not human. Of course, this isn't a new issue, as the Dead or Alive series has been controversial for the sexualization of its characters since Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball. But does anyone else see something inherently chauvinistic about having a male director assert that all he wants to do is show off women's beautiful bodies for other people's pleasure?
Dan Rosenthal is a legal analyst for the games industry.
It’s the game that has enraged populaces around the world and now Italy has apparently noticed that Rapelay can indeed be found on the Internet.
Italian newspaper Il Corriere (translation here) has a story up which features an assemblage of important types screaming about the game being just a series of tubes away from common citizens.
Giorgia Meloni, Minister of Youth, said that he would speak to Postal and Communications Police to get the game removed from the Net, while the Mayor of Rome himself, Gianni Alemanno, called for the game to be banned.
Gabriella Moscatelli, President of Telefono Rosa, a group that fights violence against women, also came out against the availability of Rapelay, saying that it was an “incitement to commit a crime.”
Also joining in the condemnation of Rapelay were Barbara Saltamartini from the People of Freedom (PDL) party and Dorina Bianchi of the Union of Christian and Centre Democrats (UDC), who said something along the lines of “while spending commitment and energy to propose and promote policies to support women, we discover that the creators of a video game put the same amount of commitment to train a generation of rapists. I drop my arms.
GP: Just to clarify, the premise for the game is sick, there’s no doubt about that. The furor that continually crops over it each time a country “discovers” it however is bizarre, as are the subsequent attempts to scrub it from the Internet. Rapelay is definitely a uniter, in that it has virtually zero backers (other than Penn Jillette perhaps), making it the ultimate safe target for attack."
Thanks to reader ItaliAnon for the link and translation assistance!
Anti-game crusaders may have a new (and unlikely) ally—porn star Ron Jeremy.
The subject of videogames cropped up in a debate at the Consumer Electronics Show between Jeremy and anti-pornography activist Craig Gross reports PCMag. The inclusion came as Jeremy was attempting to infer that the porn industry is in business only to serve adults over the age of 18 years old.
We don't want kids to watch porn. Though if they do, he added, there are far worse influences out there — like video games.
[Studies have] found that violent video games are much bigger a negative influence on kids
Gross and Jeremy did manage to agree, however, that it’s up to parents to keep explicit or non-age related material out of the hands of their kids.
GP: Having a hard time (no pun intended) here believing that Ron has read all the relevant studies. This incident just illustrates (laughably) how much of a scapegoat videogames have become for social ills. Perhaps a new pro-videogame crusade could be launched under the banner "At Least It's Not Porn," or Frumpy Middle-Aged Mom and Ron can team up to promote the evils of games.
In a blog on EASports.com, President Peter Moore announced that Tiger Woods would remain the face of its videogame golf franchise, ending a month of speculation.
Moore explained the company’s reasoning:
By his own admission, he’s made some mistakes off the course. But regardless of what’s happening in his personal life, and regardless of his decision to take a personal leave from the sport, Tiger Woods is still one of the greatest athletes in history.
Of course the fact that Tiger Woods PGA Tour Online is nearing release may have played some part in EA’s decision. Removing him from the nearly completed game, never mind extracting itself from a contract with Woods, would no doubt have proven a formidable task.
EA’s decision to stay with Tiger comes in light of AT&T, Accenture Plc and Procter & Gamble (Gillette) all dropping the libido-laden golfer, while Nike, Upper Deck and now EA, have kept Tiger on board.
A Business Week opinion piece says it’s time for Tiger’s sponsors to forgive and forget:
When corporations attempt to set themselves up as moral arbiters, they just end up making themselves look out of touch.
The author argues that in standing by a spokesperson who is going through tough times, “sponsors would emerge with more respect,” adding:
… sponsors have misunderstood why they wanted celebrity endorsements in the first place. They need authenticity, not bland corporate perfection. If corporations aren’t willing to accept that their “ambassadors” are real people, with all the flaws and fallibilities that come with that package, there is no point in having them on the payroll.