Hi, Twitter. So I made this tweet earlier tonight, around dinner time-ish:

I’ve got thoughts about both of these topics, obviously, but I’ve been skirting writing about them for various reasons. Some of them more professional, some silly (FF14 has eaten up a lot of my life lately), and some personal (I am scared of engaging these topics). But I figured, I should at least say something. Isn’t this kind of my job? So I sat down tonight and prepared to write a quick thing about Soleil. This means opening up a browser and looking for some links.

This led me to Kotaku, and a story by Brian Ashcraft on the situation (I’m comfortable adding a CW for homophobia to this link), and now I can’t write about Soleil. I was already reluctant, and now I just never want to talk about the situation. But as I’ve taken Kotaku to task in the past for problematic framing of a queer games issue, I felt compelled to talk about what Ashcraft does in this story that presents a serious fault in the craft of journalism.

So, if you want to hear me talk about framing in news, strap in; if you’re more interested in my thoughts about Soleil and FE:Fates itself? Sorry, but I’m gonna pass.

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So: Dragon’s Crown.

It’s come back into my life recently, as I have been playing it on my Vita (it’s a surprisingly good fit for that system). Also spoilers, despite all its art style problems I thoroughly enjoy Dragon’s Crown, as it’s an exceedingly well-crafted and satisfying brawler.

It also came up in this editorial about an Atlus release that toes the line of “porn game” in a gross way by Phil Kollar, who calls DC “a beautifully hand-drawn and relatively deep action-RPG dragged down by its obsession with sexualizing every woman character in the game, playable or not.” I am not gonna argue with that at all. Phil’s description is right on the money; almost every woman-coded character in Dragon’s Crown is hypersexualized in a deeply uncomfortable way, as Danielle Riendeau’s original 2013 review (which Phil links to) also explores.

Content warning for sexualized images of women, so check for the rest of this post behind the jump:

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I originally wasn’t going to write this post.

This morning I read a great piece in Offworld by Aevee Bee on video game bodies and physical conflict as metaphor for interpersonal conflict. I really liked the kinaesthetic metaphors and language Aevee used in the piece. They were this great bridge between the conceptual material and the examples that made it real. It was good stuff.

But because I am selfish it made me reflect on my own life and how I read this concept into my own experience, which stepped away a bit from what Aevee was discussing, and after throwing my thoughts into a couple tweets I realized that writing them out in blog post form would be to produce a pale imitation, to appropriate what got said for my own petty ends. I decided not to.

On the way to the office today, as I walked to work, a kid bellowed “LOOK AT HOW FAT THAT GUY IS!” while pointing at me enthusiastically.

I am both fat and gay and so I am all too familiar with the microaggressions that come to someone who is either, or both. There is probably a complicated talk here about children not knowing any better and not letting it get to me and how as a cis male I am spared additional layers of how this could play out but to be honest, all of that falls away in the face of the fact that it hurt. It will always hurt. There will never be a way for it to stop hurting. That’s just reality.

And so I decided to write this post anyway, even if it’s self-indulgent and petty.

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I’m gonna keep this short and sweet, ideally, because this situation has become so absurd that I’m not even sure it’s real anymore.

So there’s a fighting game by FK Digital called Chaos Code. It came out last year-ish? Around the same time as AquaPazza. I bought it for a pretty cheap price (around $10, I think) and screwed around with it for a couple days because I’m a sucker for an anime fighter and the character designs were sort of wacky in a fun way. I mean, there’s a Cthulhu-based magical girl.

In fact, I mentioned that character and a representative of the company, “Tenryo” (Twitter user @tenryothelight), — who appears to be their English community manager — popped up in my feed posting a pic of her. Cute, harmless little thing. I’m not a fan of corporate namesearching but generally speaking this seemed like it wasn’t a big deal.

Now, I should mention, I then tweeted later about some of the game’s more disappointing character design choices. I thought the gigantic chef who battles like a pro-wrestler was fun, and the secret agent otaku who skips out on missions to buy merch in Akihabara was funny in a low-key way. But there were also a couple “practically no clothes boobtastic ladies” in there that were kind of stock sexualized anime women that made me sad. Which I took to twitter to mention.

Well, Tenryo popped back up, this time to tell me (and this is verbatim from consecutive tweets he made): “I understand that you have a slight problem with the character designs. I know everything you tweeted recently falls under your direct opinion but please try to understand the designs are made to cater to different demographics.”

Okay. I don’t think I replied to this (I can’t find any), probably because coming from a media criticism perspective that excuse is utter nonsense and my reply wouldn’t have made a productive discussion. So I let it go.

The problem is, approximately 30 days later, the topic came up and the fallout was… well. See for yourself (read up for context).

After that died down, things were quiet for a long while. Villagers went back to their fields, we raised crops, I think we won the Super Bowl, I don’t even know. Which brings us past the advent of That Hashtag and all its fallout, to April of 2015.

I’m not even going to link it, but some weirdo gater decided to smack talk me as an example of an SJW critic who talks about games without ever playing them. For some ridiculous reason I cannot even begin to fathom (I don’t even KNOW this guy!) he busts out — you guessed it — my critiques of Chaos Code from January 2014. The hilarious part is that he was claiming I critiqued the game without ever playing it, and the truth is I critiqued it because I was playing it.

In a probably ill-advised moment of snark, I merely tweeted the following selfie and politely asked him to leave my mentions:

Me and Chaos Code

Me and Chaos Code

What happened next was that this random gater implied that I’d get my ass beat in a Chaos Code tournament, to which I had no reply (as I was on my professional Twitter feed where I don’t argue with randos). However, I did joke on my everyday Twitter feed:

Now: I probably should not have made such a dismissive tweet. It doesn’t do much other than potentially annoy Chaos Code fans who might see it. But considering the situation, I think my sudden snark can be forgiven. The problem is that, out of the mists of time, this tweet… summoned Tenryo.

As is my rule on the situation, I did not directly engage. Instead I limited myself to… what I felt like was some light snark about the situation:

But it still managed to blow up in my face anyway. This tweet thread is the real winner, in my opinion, but I can’t easily search for the rest to show you because I am now, as you probably could expect, blocked by this person on Twitter.

So, I’m just gonna say this: you probably don’t wanna approach community management or public relations for your game or your company this way. Namesearching is a controversial practice; I have a marketing/business PhD friend who assures me that for most people it’s actually good business practice, particularly to remedy poor customer experience. I, on the average, am against it, but I don’t complain about it provided the result is generally harmless.

But the cases linked above… man, where do I even start with this? Sweeping in unannounced, becoming demonstrably upset to the point of shouting/yelling/being belligerent with people that disagree with you, telling them to their face that they’re “dead wrong about [your] game” and such? Maybe don’t. I mean, I just… it’s seriously like a checklist of all the things you should not do in this situation!

I mean… yeah. I shouldn’t have made a broadly dismissive tweet about the game (though I stand by the statement that I doubt Chaos Code has a thriving tournament scene right now, all things considered). But holy wow, just… do not escalate to this level. And definitely don’t continue to engage a person who isn’t even talking to you directly at all on Twitter. They’re probably being silent for a reason!

 

Just this morning I said that I was pretty close to done when it came to talking about Final Fantasy XV, mostly because, quote: “It’s like shouting at an incoming meteor with a megaphone asking it to politely turn around.” That was maybe me being a little upset because I’ve had a trying morning in general, but to say that engaging the topic of FF15 the past couple days has been exhausting is an understatement and a half.

But because I am that weirdo who appears to have very contrary opinions to the rest of his social sphere, I am compelled to be a bit of an iconoclast and blog about it. Because the feeling I have most about FF15 right now, from almost every angle, is frustration. There’s so much that feels like it’s headed off the rails and I am worried and annoyed. Still anticipatory, still interested, but… frustrated.

Let me say up front that this isn’t about proving that I’m “right” about the game, nor is it about telling people they shouldn’t be excited or interested. But I do think there’s things worth mentioning here as points of critique, especially after Thursday’s PR disaster interview with Hajime Tabata over at Gamespot. So without further ado, let’s get into it:

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So I was looking through my blog drafts folder and noticed a few blog posts that I never actually finished, but had started writing at some point. I don’t have significant time to finish most of them, but since Twitter expressed some interest in seeing them, I figured I’d do my best to bring them to a natural concluding point and just throw ’em out there.

I want to emphasize that though I’ve put in some work to make these post-able, they are very much still Really Rough Drafts. Please treat them with a bit of indulgence and kindness if I end up sailing off the edge of the map.

This first one was originally part of my post about Kotaku’s Tingle story, but I cut it when I realized it needed to be a post all its own (and that it went on a tangent that didn’t add a lot to that story).

Also, if you want some further reading on this topic I would highly recommend Aevee Bee’s “The Story is a Spell.”

So, without further ado, take your peek into draft folder purgatory after the cut.

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So as some of you may have read, yesterday Kotaku’s Stephen Totilo posted a story based on an interview with Zelda mastermind Eiji Aonuma about Majora’s Mask and other topics. One of said other topics was the creation and history of series NPC and running gag, Tingle. And if you follow me on Twitter? Well…

…you know I had Feelings™ on the matter.

Totilo’s certainly not the only one to blame here — we’ll get to that in a moment — but generally speaking, I’m a little tired of how characters like Tingle are used to confirm existing, harmful ideas about queerness while simultaneously being used to suggest those harmful ideas aren’t real or harmful. More on this after the cut.

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Lately, I’m beginning to feel like a bit of a crank when it comes to LGBTQ issues in games.

Specifically, I’m worried that I’m being too hard on people who are potential allies. And while I am vehemently against that as a critique coming from allies themselves (“you’re not making any friends, you know”) I think it’s a valid thing we queers can ask ourselves when it comes to treating allies with respect. Sometimes, allies making the effort can and should count for something. So occasionally when I bust out a critique like… well, spoilers, like the one I’m about to write… I get worried that I’m being too hard on people that are trying.

What I’m saying is, if you get to the end of this and are mad at me, cut me some slack.

So recently Jamin Warren released a video in his “Game/Show” webseries for PBS called “The Value of Playing Gay in Videogames,” which I have included below:

I have some concerns about this video, or maybe more accurately, I’d like to add some nuance to the discussion of this video that it very likely had to cut to fit everything into an 11 minute video. I’ve also got some thoughts about Mike Rougeau’s Kotaku article on “playing gay” in Dragon Age, which is cited in the video. Details after the cut.

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