June 30, 2007

Birdo and Yoshi are Genderqueer

Filed under:Gender, Videogames — Lake Desire @ 2:40 pm

Girl in the Machine blogger PlasmaRat writes a tribute to Birdo, videogaming’s first transgendered character.

Why would they change Birdo female? There are a few possibilities. One may be that Birdo’s colorful back story may have just been overlooked. Maybe he decided to go ahead and make the full change from man to woman himself, which would make sense. It’s also just as likely that Nintendo felt there would be a problem with the gender-bending baddie. Nintendo is notorious for their “For the children!” attitude, so it is not surprising that Birdo would ultimately have to switch teams. But why should it even be a problem in the first place? He’s not hurting anyone–well, with his lifestyle, anyway. Those eggs can be a real bitch sometimes.

I myself like to think that Birdo successfully transitioned to being a girl. I’m actually glad Nintendo removed the original description of Birdo from the Super Mario Brothers 2 instruction manual because writing that “he thinks he is a girl” paints Birdo’s gender confusion a crazy complement to her villainous egg-spitting ways.


It’s interesting that Birdo is paired up with Yoshi in games like Mario Kart: Double Dash because not only are they dinosaurs but they both are questionably gendered. I strongly believe that Yoshi is intersexed–or perhaps transgendered female-to-male, although it seems odd the whole species would be–because he lays eggs. Yoshi and Birdo are rather cute together as Nintendo’s genderqueer critters.


June 19, 2007

We’re growing in numbers

Filed under:Gaming Women, News, Online Communities — Lake Desire @ 8:55 pm

Check this out: a new feminist gamer group blog called Girl in the Machine. From their mission statement:

We are gamers, students, artists.

We are two girls and a gay guy.

We can remember the Days of the Arcade, tell you the original game on which Super Mario Bros. 2 was based (Doki Doki Panic!), and forcibly borrow all of your fingers and toes and those of your immediate family and your dog to help us count our respective game collections.

We are feminists.

Welcome to Girl in the Machine.

I’m so happy there are most folks blogging on gender and gaming. I remember back in the day when the only sites I knew about (that weren’t afraid of the f-word) were Shrub.com and the feminist_gamers LJ community.


June 13, 2007

Summer Gaming 2007

Filed under:Personal, Videogames — Lake Desire @ 8:32 pm

I’m in a bit of a transition period right now. My graduation is this Saturday, but I’m all but done with my school responsibilities. (Hence the increase in blog posts this week.) I’m taking a 15-credit Spanish course this summer because I need to know another language in grad school (among other, hopefully less selfish reasons, like trying to deconstruct my internalized cultural imperialism by not always depending on people to speak “my” language). My course is going to be intense, but it’s only 6 weeks, so before and after it starts I’m going to have lots of time for cramming in some gaming. Here’s what’s on the plate for this summer until my grad school classes start in September.

Beyond Good and Evil: That’s right, I never beat this game. I admit it. I bought it impulsively in Canada about a year-and-a-half ago after reading Sourduck’s old review of the game (”Feminism through the Backdoor” I think it was called, but I can’t find it online anymore). I got stuck near the end. I tried picking the game up again and never could remember where I was, but didn’t feel like starting over. Until now. Maybe I’ll play in Spanish for practice. (Anyone else know games with a Spanish language option?)

Chrono Cross: I can’t believe that it’s been more time between Chrono Cross’s release and the present than the initial wait between Chrono Trigger and it’s official sequel. I was boat camping when this game came out, and I remember driving the boat to one spot that had reception and calling my teenybopper boyfriend on my mom’s brick-like cellphone to see if he’d picked up my reserved copy like he promised he would. I got a little clock and CD with it.

I didn’t really like Chrono Cross when it was new because it wasn’t Chrono Trigger, which was my favorite game ever. I thought CC’s character development was really lacking, and the story wasn’t especially deep. Maybe it was just over my head, because for some reason I think I’d really love the game now, especially the visuals and the music. I want to go back and play it again now that I’m a grownup.

Super Paper Mario: I’m moving through Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door faster than I did RPGs in high school and had free time. When I beat the GameCube game, I’m sure I’m going to run out and order the Wii installment in the series. I heard it isn’t as good, but I’m on a roll here.

Fatal Frame II: I borrowed this game from Brinstar ages ago to play with my horror game sidekick, Meghann, and we both got busy. I’m going to threaten to play it alone if she doesn’t come visit me.

Lego Star Wars II: I just remembered I got this game from my little brother for my birthday last November and never played it. I’m a bad sister. I’ve grown to see my pre-teen love, Star Wars, as hella corny in recent years, so what better way to celebrate it than relive the original films as Legos?

Pokemon Pearl & Final Fantasy III & Yoshi’s Island DS: These are all DS games I got bored with this year that I need to pick back up before I give up all together and sell them. (Other than yard work, I’m not working this summer, so some games have got to go.)

What’s on your summer gaming list?


June 11, 2007

Socialism in Mario Party

Filed under:Videogames — Lake Desire @ 11:55 am

Sometimes my academic superpowers make me crack up. Like when I was playing the classic N64 game Mario Party 2 last night with two friends. If you land on a Bowser space, the King Koopa randomly selects an act of evil mischief. Luck would have it, I won a Bowser Revolution. What awful fate does this radical overthrow bring? Bowser evenly redistributes wealth among players. Oh, in a game about collecting the most coins and stars, based more on luck rather than personal merit, that is an act of pure evil.


Characters Done Right: Goombella of Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door

Filed under:Characters Done Right, Videogames — Lake Desire @ 8:43 am

I’m currently playing the first GameCube game I’ve ever purchased, Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, and I love it. Don’t get me wrong, the game isn’t a bastion of progressiveness: there’s a sentient computer “in love” with Peach that watches her shower and every other word out of a character’s mouth is “craziness” and “this is LAME!” But, most of Mario’s party members are female, and my favorite is the first to join, Goombella. Plus, fighting on stage is really fun.

goombella from paper mario and the thousand year door

Goombella holds a soft spot for me because she’s a smart, feminine university student (in the sciences, too!) and that knows everything about everyone. She gives Mario clues when you’re stuck on the game, and is just as tough as any character in battle. Goombella by no means a sexualized character yet is proud of her cuteness, but it’s her brains that ultimately get her and Mario through the game.

Unfortunately, Goombella doesn’t seem to care much for female solidarity: she calls another party member Floozie and says that she’s way cuter than Vivian, another woman who joins your group. Still, she’s a fun and lovable character that sets the tone right off in a game that is turning out to be a lot better than I thought it would.


June 10, 2007

Characters Done Right: Midna, a feminist hero

Filed under:Characters Done Right, Legend of Zelda Series, Videogames, Wii — Lake Desire @ 9:56 am

I complain enough about videogames. (I’m finally spelling that word without the space.) I think it’s about time I talk more about those characters who are done right: from heroes I really want to be to little nuggets of delight that jump out of a game I’d never expect to find them in.

midna feminist hero legend of zelda: twilight princess

The first subject of my praise is Midna from Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Midna, servant of Zelda and later revealed to be the ruler of the banished Twilight Realm, meets Link when she rescues him after he’s been transformed into a wolf. Midna becomes Link’s guide and friend, and he ends up serving her through much of the game (while he’s also helping other powerful women like Zelda, the Zora queen, Telma the Barkeep, and the goddess).

Midna is an example of how a princess-in-peril can work as a plotline while that princess is the biggest player, the most active agent, of all parties involved. She’s not an invisible force in a tower somewhere, she’s with Link on her entire journey and the player utilizes her own powers as much as she uses Link’s.

Twilight Princess overall has really stepped up characterization from the old Zelda games, so I found Link rather likable in this title, but I easily saw the story through Midna’s eyes. I felt like I was her, on the back of her trusty wolf-Link mount. Midna is feminine but not sexualized, petite and imp-like but still a woman. She’s smart, cheeky, and initially is ambiguously motivated.

Midna is so important that she’s the game’s namesake, the Twilight Princess; the game is about her, and she’s definitely worthy of the spotlight. I predict that Midna is going to become the descendent of Beyond Good and Evil’s protagonist Jade as an iconic feminist videogame hero. When folks as me for game recommendations with strong women, Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is going to be the first out of my mouth.


June 5, 2007

Cerise Magazine: The Making of a Gamer

Filed under:Gamer Culture, Gaming Women, Lake Desire Elsewhere, News — Lake Desire @ 6:47 am

The June issue of Cerise Magazine, The Making of a Gamer, was released today. Articles included a WisCon (Women in Science Fiction Convention) report, gamer stories, and reviews. My own contribution is an interview with Heather Michelle Rousse, lead artist at Yatec Games.

The submission deadline for the July issue is on June 20.


June 4, 2007

I finally beat Twilight Princess

Filed under:Personal, Videogames, Wii — Lake Desire @ 11:44 am

I finally beat Twilight Princess this weekend. I’ve been playing it since December, but I’m slow like that. I’ve placed my thoughts on the ending at the end of this post (behind the “more” button) so skip that if you don’t want to know how the game ends.

I just started playing the GameCube Paper Mario game. I’ve also got my roommate hooked on it, and we’re both graduating from college in a week and a half. Oops! On that note, I’m finally getting my BA. A week later, I’m starting a language intensive Spanish course (6 hours a day, 5 days a week, for 6 weeks) because I need another language for graduate school. I’m starting a MA program for English lit. this fall at my same university (Western) and also am teaching English 101. Wait ’til the first years find out I’m a videogame blogger. (Probably on the first day, the darling Googlers.)