The latest episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is about fandom – I half expected it to be a rousing chorus of “Hasbro’s writing team is not your bitch“, but it ended up a little different to that. The premise is that Rainbow Dash, now self-proclaimed biggest fan of the Daring Do book series (don’t we all hate fandom converts, i.e. anyone who joins after we do?) is itching for the new book. When she hears that its release is going to be delayed, she convinces her friends to come with her to meet and ‘help’ the author to get the book out more quickly.
Episode spoilers follow; click at your peril.
Video games are kind of notorious for gendered discrepancies in character outfits. When it comes to heavy armour, many of us are tragically resigned to the fact that men will get full plate while women will get chainmail bikinis – even if both cases are supposedly the same armour set. MMORPGs are prime offenders here… some worse than others.
TERA is one of the most blatantly terrible offenders in this regard.
One of the things I have always liked and appreciated about Guild Wars 2 is that this tendency is a lot less pronounced than in other games I have seen. Skimpy armour certainly exists, including some sets where the discrepancy between genders is pronounced (the winged armor is a prime example) – but not every set is like this, nor is it the norm. Players can choose to dress their female characters modestly without going out of their way to find an outfit that works, and the majority of armors look similar in male and female versions.
Today, Guild Wars 2 lost a little of that credit from me.
Don’t let the title mislead you - I am very much enjoying Guild Wars 2! I still have a lot of fun playing, I still look forward to each new update, and I still adore ArenaNet and their work. That said, I demonstrate my love of the game often enough on this blog – in fact, half my posts and fangirl ramblings about why I think the people complaining are wrong, why I think ArenaNet’s decisions work. Even a fangirl can be critical sometimes, though (if she’s doing it right), and after a year of sometimes dramatic development and adjustment, there are some things I wouldn’t have done the same.
I love the idea of the living story, and I think the pace and quality of updates that ArenaNet has achieved (let’s all take a moment to recall how far they came between Flame and Frost and Sky Pirates) is excellent and deserves recognition. Despite the fact that I’m enjoying the frequent updates, however, I haven’t been fond of the direction in which the living story has been taken. To be fair, this is going to be down to personal taste somewhat, and as I hate people who complain about not being personally catered to 100% of the time, I certainly won’t do that here. I think there are some legitimate criticisms, though.
BlueJay and I have recently started watching Arrow again, after very much enjoying the first few episodes that friends provided us some time ago. As we return to season one, season two is nearing release, with promises for another show set in the same universe and focusing on the Flash produced by some of the same people. Here we may have the beginnings of an interconnected DC comics universe, in the form of television series instead of blockbuster movies as the ‘Marvel Cinematic Universe’ (as it’s often called) has achieved. This would be a great thing for DC to get in on – much better than a Batman/Superman film, in my opinion – and television’s spin-off/cameo tradition seems like a pretty reasonable way to achieve the comics universe feel. Perhaps going forward we’ll see Marvel stronger in films, but DC stronger on television? I’m certainly amenable to this, especially with the excellent Young Justice whetting my appetite for DC material again.
The Mary-Sue has collected many comments on the lack of a Wonder Woman film or other project among the rush of superheroes (seriously, guys, what’s with that?) and notes that the CW network had a show based around her, called Amazon, in the works before Flash was green-lighted instead. If the CW makes a habit of producing interlinked, single-word-titled DC comics adaptations, I’ll be more than happy to endorse it! But with a distinct lack of female heroes starring in recent comic-based material, I got to thinking about what else might make a good tv show to coexist with Arrow. Here, I want to pitch my vision for a Birds of Prey television series.
I’ve been mulling this over for a while now – since Queen’s Jubilee began, in fact – but I wanted to wait until today’s release announcement before writing this post. Tequatl Rising doesn’t quite confirm my theories and expectations about Guild Wars 2′s living story instalments, but it does provide another data point for the pattern I have been observing. It seems to me that we have seen a four stage pattern emerge in the game releases of the last few months – perhaps related to the four separate living story teams ArenaNet have stated are working on a rotation to create and prepare new content.
The first half of this year had slower, more cumbersome, somewhat experimental living story updates, with Flame and Frost spanning January – May to do what we would probably see in a month on our current schedule. I see the Secret of Southsun arc as essentially filler, bridging the gap (this was made more or less explicit), with the true start of our current cycle at Dragon Bash. From here, I have found it possible to separate four cycling stages of living story, each of which delivers a slightly different kind of content. Continue reading
Lately I’ve been reading bits and pieces of commentary about Guild Wars 2′s “living story” – the regular, small, often temporary content updates which are intended to both provide a constant stream of current events, and to affect the wider game world in meaningful ways. It’s a concept I really like and approve of: the game world feels active in real time, and I am a fan of the idea of an MMO that’s more of a world than a game. For those who want more game than virtual world, there are problems, and the move toward instances and month-long availability of things is to appease those who would rather have everything available at their leisure rather than a real-time world in which they miss half of it. Still, there’s one common sentiment that I’ve seen in multiple areas which I think bears addressing, and that is the idea that the living story as we’ve seen it now “doesn’t contribute to the story.”
To be clear, there are definite points to the argument: each living story arc has felt very separate from the others, a self-contained and temporary thing which doesn’t leave much behind and doesn’t link into the other arcs in any particularly meaningful way. Despite the large number of loose ends I believe to be deliberately left open for later development, we have only seen living story material that comes out of nowhere: the karka, the Molten Alliance, the Zephyr Sanctum, none of these was foreshadowed anywhere beforehand. With four living story teams actively working right now the material will be more elaborate, faster and better polished than during, say, Flame and Frost – but it’s going to take a very deliberate, co-ordinated effort for those four teams to create stories which are coherent and point toward a larger continuity rather than isolated events.
The problem I have is that so many people seem to have a narrow definition of what counts as proper story in a game. Continue reading
My own partner BlueJay pointed me in the direction of a terrible, terrible opinion piece on a major national news website here, called ‘guide to going out with a gamer’. It is – as we perhaps should have expected – a vicious reinforcement of negative gamer stereotypes, referencing only the most narrow and simple definitions of the term ‘gamer’. The author appears to be female, and if her article is based on personal experience, I sincerely feel sorry for her. Still, it seems to me that this article is damaging on two fronts: firstly it portrays (male) gamers in an unfortunate and unfair light, as infantile and selfish; secondly it reinforces the idea that women who date men should put up with any such infantile and selfish behaviour (‘boys will be boys’, right?) and mould themselves and their lives to fit their boyfriends.
As the female partner in a long-term heterosexual relationship between two gamers, I’d like to take a look at this article in depth. Let’s start at the beginning…