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Retrofest Continues November 25, 2008

Filed under: Retro games,Specific games — haounomiko @ 3:28 pm
Tags: ,

I finally finished Drakkhen, and I must admit I’m a bit relieved, though also proud of myself for sticking with it until the end this time. I feel accomplished. The best part of the game was being amused by the incoherent text, which actually was pretty good entertainment. The music wasn’t bad, and there were times when I thought the game could have been poignant if the designers had put a little more work into drawing players in, making it personal, and making us care about the world. I wonder if Drakkhen II/Dragon View is any good.

I also finished Super Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts properly. It’s worth a mention that this game seems to have been made by sexist developers. There’s a status ailment that turns your character into a girl, rendering him almost helpless– much in the vein of Bunny Link from Zelda 3, but misogynistic. The princess is also even more objectified than usual; beating the game gets you her measurements; and this in an age when there were plenty of female video game characters out there who could do as much as the male ones, like Samus and SMB2’s Princess Toadstool. I’m put in mind of all the media hype of game companies trying to make games for girls– those games usually suck, and any serious female gamer is more likely actually playing “boys’ games”, but developers seem to overlook this fact. Instead of assuming girls want to play a special different kind of game designed just for them, perhaps developers could try assuming that girls are playing the default games as well as boys, and not put in sexist things. I bet that would go further to address the gender imbalance in gaming than any amount of pink consoles or Barbie’s Little Mermaid Horse Race Babiez games. I know quite a few female gamers, and they all choose their games by whether they’re fun, not by whether the box is pink.

Am now playing Flashback: The Quest For Identity. I remember getting this game pretty late in the SNES era, when I already had a PSX and everything, and I think I wandered off to play something else as soon as I got stuck, which was within the first ten minutes. I think my attention span for video games was at an all-time low in that era; with Sony on the map, suddenly there were many more games available than I could ever keep up with, I could afford to buy more of them, and I couldn’t play them as fast as they were accumulating on my shelf. I wasn’t used to budgeting my time with only the games I really liked, and I was a bit overwhelmed.

Holiday weekend coming up. Anyone playing anything big over the weekend? (Or am I the only one who schedules the perfect time to immerse myself in certain games weeks in advance?)

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8 Responses to “Retrofest Continues”

  1. Ayulsa Says:

    I’m put in mind of all the media hype of game companies trying to make games for girls– those games usually suck, and any serious female gamer is more likely actually playing “boys’ games”, but developers seem to overlook this fact. Instead of assuming girls want to play a special different kind of game designed just for them, perhaps developers could try assuming that girls are playing the default games as well as boys, and not put in sexist things. I bet that would go further to address the gender imbalance in gaming than any amount of pink consoles or Barbie’s Little Mermaid Horse Race Babiez games. I know quite a few female gamers, and they all choose their games by whether they’re fun, not by whether the box is pink.

    Very much word to this. I’m not a female gamer, but I don’t know a single one of my female friends who chooses their games by criteria other than “is this meant to be a good game”. (Or “is this part of a series I like”, where “series I like” has generally been pre-established on the basis of games in those series being, gasp, good games.)

    I think there probably is a market that chooses games based on gender, but I think that market is small and mostly composed of younger people in the cusp of the whole gender-insecurity phase a lot of people seem to go through, where the social norm is to find anything that the opposite gender likes really icky. If anything, I think boys probably stay in this phase longer than girls; girls grow out of liking Barbie’s Little Mermaid Horse Race Babiez (…what is this, some kind of Capricornian mythological epic? Fishtailed horses?) pretty quickly, in part because those kinds of games don’t really have any appeal beyond the sheer girliness of them, whereas I think boys hang onto the “I only play HALO and GTA and things because they are MACHO! RAWR!” phase for a lot longer. Perhaps we should be looking, too, at the stereotype being woven into a lot of mainstream games that they should appeal to a shallow sentiment of macho dominance– and, even more worryingly, the idea being pushed that that’s What Games Are About these days, even though most gamers know better and just go for what they like.

    Also, no comment on the subject of Barbie is complete without a link to this. It is at your discretion whether to actually listen to it or not; link merely provided for linking’s sake.

  2. Ayulsa Says:

    Also, I sadly lack the ability to edit or even delete my comments, but I have to say that I’ve bought at least one game this year where the pink box was, I think, considered part of the appeal. Sadly the sequel’s box goes with a lovely cough-syrup-purple theme (seriously, I had cough syrup that colour as a kid), or I’d consider sneakily reshelving it alongside Babiez Too: Summer Sequinned Diapers Edition just to get some decent gaming into the diet of unfortunate female gamers whose moms buy their games.

  3. Kari Says:

    I’m a girl gamer, and I pick my games based on if they’re fun, but at the same time I find myself uninterested in the shootan games or war games. I can’t see myself picking up Gears of War anytime soon.

    Then again, I also don’t have one of them powerful next-gen systems to even play stuff like that on.

  4. Karl Says:

    Actually, the market for purchasing games based on gender is larger than you’d think, Ayulsa, because it includes a lot of misguided parents. (Have you ever heard a GameStop employee “informing” a parent of what they should buy their child for Christmas? It isn’t pretty.)

  5. haounomiko Says:

    @Ayulsa: Maybe that’s because games like Halo and GTA are actually decent– or at the very least, the makers have put thought into making the gameplay fun, because they know that machoness alone is not going to make a decent game. Whereas girliness alone is supposed to carry the Barbie games, somehow.

    Also, I think the pink of that particular box has a slightly different meaning than the pink of Barbie, although if they do start making dating sims for lipstick lesbians, I will applaud their liberal forward-thinkingness.

    @Kari: My guess is that it’s just that you like certain genres, though, right? I also know plenty of guys who aren’t interested in FPS or war games, and spend most of their gaming time on RPGs. I tend to chalk that up to personal tastes, rather than gender.

    @Karl: Don’t Gamestop employees actually, you know, play games? You would think they would recommend the good ones, and downplay the bad ones, because AFAIK being an actual gamer is more or less a requirement for working there. But I guess it’s no guarantee that they won’t make sexist assumptions. Or maybe they get their assumptions of what kids like based on what parents buy, and there’s some kind of circular effect going on.

  6. Ayulsa Says:

    although if they do start making dating sims for lipstick lesbians, I will applaud their liberal forward-thinkingness

    …wait, the pink of Barbie is supposed to signify gayness? AND ALL THIS TIME I NEVER KNEW. XD She’s been progressive under our noses all along! 😉

    A lot of people have said AT2’s main character looks rather feminine, although I know “squint and pretend” isn’t really the most progressive situation for a game to be in. Maybe if that one bit from the Jakuri drama CD turns out to have more echoes in game…

  7. Luna Says:

    I don’t know how anyone I see on this site has the time to play so many games. I know I don’t.

  8. haounomiko Says:

    @Luna: You know, I thought I didn’t, but then I tried really hard and I realised that I did. A lot of my not having time turned out to be me telling myself there was no point in sitting down and playing because I wouldn’t have the time to get anywhere.

    I still feel like I don’t have enough time to play RPGs; they go at this incredibly slow pace unless I play only one at a time, and I find that somehow difficult because there’s so much I want to play at once. But old games, especially old games on emulators where I can keep saving my progress, are often shorter and faster.


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