September 29, 2009

I beat Mass Effect!

Filed under:Videogames — Lake Desire @ 9:46 pm

I beat Mass Effect. What a great game! Check out Alex Raymond’s posts on Mass Effect on her blog While !Finished for more discussion on sexism and feminism in the game. I think she’s pretty right on!

I’m still figuring out Xbox live. To my disappointment, the game didn’t record any of my achievements. I transferred my save file from my first profile when I created my Xbox live account, so perhaps I screwed something up. How silly is that the Xbox made me make a new profile when I joined Xbox live and that it was difficult to transfer my save files to my online profile.

PS… if you’d like to friend me on Xbox Live, my username is lakedesire.


September 23, 2009

I miss Final Fantasy XI

Filed under:Videogames — Lake Desire @ 6:21 pm

Now that I have an Xbox 360, I’ve been thinking about playing Final Fantasy XI again. I gave the game up about 5 years ago because I traded my PC in for a Mac and I also had no offline social life. Perhaps when I’m starting a PhD program is not the ideal time to replay a game I was once addicted to, but I’ve changed a lot in the last half decade.

Does anyone still play Final Fantasy XI? If I replay, I’d like to find a friendly linkshell that might help me level a new character. I could also look into reviving my old character (if that’s possible!), but I gave away or lost most of her good gear. I used to be on the Midgardsormr server, and I’m not sure if that’s still around.


September 12, 2009

Mass Effect and Queer Relationships

Filed under:Gender, Videogames — Lake Desire @ 6:24 pm

I’ve been playing Mass Effect on my new (second-hand) Xbox 360. Wow! Videogames have sure come along a lot in the last two years or so since I followed what was hot and joined in on all the blog gossp. Just when I was feeling jaded (I went back and played some of my old favorites and they just didn’t charm me like they used to), I pick up a used copy of Mass Effect because I heard it had some themes in common with Battlestar Galactica.
Mass Effect is a thoughtful science fiction game. Sort of like a good book, only with a lot more choices than a linear story I sit back and enjoy.

I really appreciate that more games these days allow customizable protagonists. When I was a teenager, I pretty much had to access fantastical worlds through the eyes of a white male. Some of those protagonists were pretty rad (usually the quiet ones like Link and Crono because I had more room to imagine what they might be like) while others were obnoxious and oblivious (Squall, Sora). In Mass Effect, the default Commander Shepard is a white dude, but you can custom him to the point that he’s no longer a man. I’m playing the game as a butch black woman, and I bet I’m having an entirely different experience seeing her as a military officer and special agent than if I’d just gone with the default protagonist.

Only one thing about this game really irks me so far. (Well, besides having to kill biotic “terrorists” fighting for reparations that I thought were the good guys.) As a female Commander Shepard, I have the option of pursing a romance with a human male or an alien female. So I can play a queer romance, if I choose. I also can have a sexual encounter with another female alien. Awesome. But I hear that if I play a male protagonist, my romance options are with a human female or an alien female. There’s no option for a queer romance if I play a male character. I suspect the game designers
that their players are heterosexual males and want to indulge in a lesbian relationship through playing a female character. I understand games are a fantasy and indulgence, so why deny players the option of developing a romantic relationship between men? It looks like Mass Effect is an example of queer women getting a pass as long as they’re sexy and doing it for the indulgence of male players who watch. But because of homophobia, queer males get no airtime at all.

Is this inclusion of queer romances among women but exclusion of queer romances among men a trend in games these days, or is Mass Effect unique? The Sims is the only game I can think of that allows all around indiscriminate lovin’.


September 8, 2009

A belated update and a question of what’s cool

Filed under:Videogames — Lake Desire @ 10:56 am

My blog was broken for a while, but I finally figured out how to fix it. Besides an occasional post I’ll write for Feminist SF — The Blog!, I haven’t had much of an internet social life these last few years. Grad school and not having the internet at home didn’t help, but I largely have been focusing my activism on community and labor organizing. I guess I took the Le Tigre song, “Get off the internet” to heart. I went to my first mass convergence last summer, protesting both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. I should have posted this link 8 months ago, but check out the report-back video I worked on with submedia and Pepperspray Productions, Ground Noise and Static.

The summer before this one that’s just wrapping up, I decided I was a social anarchist, or advocated anti-authoritarian socialism. I was radicalized as an undergraduate (as much through blogging as through college activism) and I’ve been challenging sexism and racism for a few years now. Studying the history of oppression led me to a pretty solid critique of capitalism. I argue that we can abolish oppression based on socially constructed categories like race or gender or ability if an elite group still owns most the wealth and calls all the shots. Capitalism has a rich tradition of creating hierarchies so the working classes are too busy fighting each other to challenge the wealthy. But I wasn’t sure what I advocated as an alternative. While I am sympathetic with Marxism and largely agree with Marxist critiques of capitalism, I was uncomfortable with the authoritarianism of communism. A lot of folks will agree capitalism sucks, but so did the USSR, so we get stuck thinking there is no better alternative. It was Angela Davis who through her work on prison abolition that convinced me that another world is possible, a world without prisons or police or military.

Davis spoke at my university my senior year, where she said, “We often don’t think about the extent to which virtually everything has become commodities in our lives. The culture we enjoy, the education we try to get, the health care that we all need. It’s really all about profit.” I went on to read her short book on prison abolition, Are Prisons Obsolete? She offers a great critique of the prison industrial complex, or the incarceration of undesirable bodies to make a profit for the wealthy corporations that own privatized prisons. Capitalism relies on racism and that prisons are storehouses for undesirable bodies. It’s a great book, and quick read. Read it. The prison abolition movement, and later reading The Color of Violence: the INCITE! Anthology, written by activists working outside the criminal justice system (not a safe place for women of color and trans people to go), convinced me that another world is possible and people are building it right now.

Politics aside, I also feel like a total gaming loser, which is another reason I have not been blogging. I don’t even know what’s cool anymore! I’ve been playing Okami on the Wii and The World Ends with You on my DS, but those games are old news. Unless I can pirate it with my R4 chip, the games I play are used and the heated discussions are long over. But the good news is that my brother recently gave me his Xbox 360, so a whole new world of used games awaits me. I am giddy. What great hit of yesterday do I delve into first? Mass Effect and Bioshock and Fallout 3 all look pretty fun. And I think I’ll even try Resident Evil 5 despite its racism–I’ll be mocking the game all along. If you’re a longtime reader of my blog, you’ll know how much fun my friend Meghann and I had playing RE4 through on PS2 and then again on Wii, mocking Ashley and Leon the whole time.

In other news, I finished my master’s degree and I’m beginning my Ph.D. in English at the University of Washington. I got into mountain bike racing and collegiate road bike racing. Wow! How do I have time to even play games at all?

So what’s cool these days? What new feminist gamer blogs have popped up that I need to start reading?