I love blowing stuff up.
So it’s no surprise that I’d love Besiege, a physics puzzle game which recently hit Steam early access. The premise of Besiege is simple: Every level presents the player with a goal, such as destroying a tower or killing a certain number of troops, and has the player build some form of siege engine to complete this task. On the surface, this seems like a simple game. Play a bit, though, and you’ll quickly realize that it’s not.
I see this all the time. You’ll have a game that seems perfectly accessible to just about anybody. Simple gameplay, well-explained mechanics, and intuitive level design.
And then you get a sound-based game mechanic.
Right there and then, you’ve made it all but impossible for deaf people to play your game. Without any kind of visual on-screen prompt, a deaf person will have a large amount of trouble figuring out what they’re supposed to do. In some cases it may be flat-out impossible for them to complete the challenge presented to them, which may make it impossible for them to finish the game.
A non-insignificant portion of the video game industry considers storytelling in games unimportant.
This includes not just video game fans, but many developers as well. Some very high-profile, like Shigeru Miyamoto. To them, stories in video games are little more than distractions, which serve to keep the player away from the gameplay. This mindset is harmful.
Bad storytelling can bring a game down, there’s no doubt about it. But that doesn’t mean that storytelling in games is a bad thing, and it also doesn’t mean that stopping the player to deliver the story is a bad thing. Some games have done this incredibly well, and some games are made far better for having a story.
I doubt anybody would disagree that Mario is easily one of the most well-known, if not the most well-known video game character of all time. The Italian plumber has served as Nintendo’s mascot for decades, and has starred in a staggering number of games since he was introduced as “Jumpman” in the original Donkey Kong.
Yet who is Mario?
I got to thinking about this recently, for a few reasons. Partly because of an interview wherein Miyamoto mentioned that he told the Splatoon devs to use Mario as the protagonist if they couldn’t come up with and original character. Yes, their go-to character was Mario.
No seriously. Stop it.
I see this all the time and it continues to baffle me. It’s not just zombie games, but it seems most prominent in zombie games. You’ll fight a million male zombies who are dressed normally and aside from weird mutations, all look fairly normal. Then a female zombie, usually a boss, shows up and is presented in an extremely sexualized fashion.
Dead Island made it so female zombies would usually fall down with their ass in the air, whenever possible. The special edition of Dead Island Riptide featured a bust of a dismembered torso wearing a bikini as an add-on. You can’t really find a more perfect example of objectification than stripping a woman of any defining features and presenting her as a rotting torso.
Wait wait, let me guess. You’re an independent game designer and you wanna make a smash hit steam game. Your concept: An open world survival game where your primary enemies are zombies, or zombie-like creatures. The game has a crafting system, a combat system that is so ineffective it’s better to just run from enemies, and limited food/medicine/ammo. You are thinking about making it online, or you have some kind of co-op in mind. And your game has a day-night cycle where stronger zombies come out at night.
Every single time I open steam, I see another one of these. Some indie darling zombie game has gone into early access, and promises to be BIGGER and BETTER than the last one that came out. It’s totally gonna be the best one yet and rock your world, it just needs a few months or a few years or maybe just check back in a few decades.
Before I say anything else, I’ll admit that I haven’t played Dragon Age: Inquisition, nor do I have any plans to. I am not in a position to make comments on the gameplay or overall story, and I do not intend to.
However, around when that game came out, I heard some rather interesting things regarding one of its characters. Cremisius Aclassi, Iron Bull’s Lieutenant and right-hand man, was transgender. A transgender man, to be precise. Normally I would be overjoyed by this news.
Except he’s voiced by Jennifer Hale.