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August 1st

…examining the DLC character of Shale.

On a related tangent, Andrea Phillips at Deus Ex Machinatio looks at the choose-your-own-adventure style games by Choice of Games and the way they handle gender choices. Phillips’ argument centres on the fact that merely changing the gender of the avatar results in a superficially “female” character [mirror] as it won’t reflect a true female experience. She notes,

…one of the things I found so captivating about [Dragon Age] was the overt sexism of some characters. It was incredibly satisfying to me to have a character take a dismissive attitude of

October 17th

…[mirror] and why it doesn’t mean what marketing people think it means. And Sinan Kubba looks at Nier as a caregiver [mirror].

Okay, onto this week.

Robert Yang at the Escapist continues his series ‘Philosophy of Game Design’ with parts two and three.

Lauren Wainwright writes on her personal blog ‘Sex Sells. But who’s buying?‘ [mirror] responding to a defensive argument on the nature of video game “journalism.” Lewis Denby does the same looking at the same “news” blogs’ need for ‘Hits and Tits.’

Meanwhile, the Border House has an entry in their series Characters Done…

March 27th

…autres” but I don’t understand a word of that.

This is the story of four weeks spent in a Sartrean hell known as Neptune’s Pride.

At the Alive Tiny World blog, Katie Williams writes about the iPhone game Sally’s Spa, putting herself inside the rapidly fraying mind of the titular Sally.

The author of The Gwumps blog wrote this week about ‘Post-Traumatic Wastelands’:

…whether or not you choose to have sex with a bi-curious elf who sounds like Antonio Banderas, the trend seems to be continuing – game developers are trying to incorporate more…

August 14th

…doesn’t take gender or sex into account in any way.

Over on PopMatters, Scott Juster writes about getting to know Zelda as a character rather than an archetype. And Maggie Greene’s recent play with Okamiden has led her to write about Chinese literature, games, and the necessity of some narratives to be fuzzy at the edges.

And these three pieces on design may prove of interest. The first comes from Patrick Hollerman of The Game Design Forum about learning curves in casual and hardcore games. The second arrives to us from Critical Missive as an extensive look…

December 18th

…a lesbian, asked to suck anyone’s cock or be threatened with rape. Partially, this is because those who have met me understand that I view other humans as lunch with a temporary stay of execution. Let the Wookie win, as they say. Mostly, it’s because I’m a man and so people will read what I have to say rather than switching off their brain and spewing out some astonishingly unimaginative sexist bullshit.

This prompted a response by Margaret Robertson, who meditates on her own past tendency toward self-censorship, lest she face misogynistic ostracization:

These things pervade…

January 29th

…argues shows The Man Bat at his most static. Or Bill Coberly, asserting that Catherine‘s portrayal of sexuality and relationships only appears mature next to the alternative:

It is infuriating to constantly talk about the potential for greatness in this medium and play game after game after game which retries the same broken formulae and wallows in the same muck. I can thus understand the desire to seize on anything that seems at all different, anything which tries even a little bit to engage with mature themes. I know I’m guilty of this sort of behavior.

UPDATED: Blogs of the Round Table: January ’12 Roundup

Welcome to the first Blogs of the Round Table round-up post for 2012, first let’s remind ourselves of the theme we’re talking about this month.

Being Other:

Games, like most media, have the ability to let us explore what it’s like to be someone other than ourselves. While this experience may only encompass a character’s external circumstances–exploring alien worlds, serving with a military elite, casting spells and swinging broadswords–it’s most powerful when it allow us to identify with a character who is fundamentally different than ourselves–a different gender, sexuality, race, class, or religion. This official re-launch

Uncharted 2

…to push the player forward, they have their own motivations which intermingle and entice/intrigue/mystify a curious Drake. On the other hand, Snake Link Sonic acknowledges the strong female characterization but felt that “the game would have functioned just fine without [Chloe].” G. Christopher Williams’s “Sorry, But Our Princess Wants To Be in Another Castle” likens Chloe to the more provocative side which Elena lacks, using sex to play the game from Nate to Flynn as her assets allow — an effective way to piss off the player with an emotional connection to Drake. At first seeing her as a princess…

May 20th

…ourselves at the end of play.

RockPaperShotgun’s Adam Smith takes issue with the term ‘cinematic.’ Meanwhile, throwing ludology to the wind, Eric Lockaby stomps back in from the cold this week with the first chapter of his ‘playable critique’ of The Great Gatsby. While his design is still a little rough, Lockaby’s work is, as always, worth investigating simply for the strangeness of it.

Cody Steffen breaks down the portrayal of sex and gender in The Witcher 2 and finds it wanting. On a more high profile subject, we could not go this week without mentioning Brandon…

June 3rd

…because they rejected the familiar settings or the guns or the hero/villain dichotomy, but because they made these the very subjects of their scrutiny.

(The following section bears trigger warnings for discussion of rape, misogyny, violence toward women, and the inclusion of ableist and sexist language.)

On this note, the subject of the game industry responding to its own conventions, we’re brought to what was unquestionably the leading topic of the week.

You may have heard a thing or two about Hitman: Absolution‘s notorious new trailer, in which the game’s protagonist takes on a squad of…