Overall, Mass Effect took huge steps forward for inclusiveness in games. Its racial diversity is unlike any I have seen in a game: nearly all of the major and minor human NPCs are people of color, and none of them are stereotypes. In another impressive step, not only is there an important character—the Normandy's pilot, Joker—who happens to be disabled, but a conversation with him reveals the many different layers of ableism he has experienced throughout his life. Unfortunately, the game stumbles when it comes to gender inclusiveness.
Game Description: On the war-torn planets of tomorrow, mankind's greatest battle is about to begin. With its frontier colonies devastated by a growing insurrection, Earth dispatches the elite 8th Armored Infantry (nicknamed "Section 8") to repel the coming onslaught. The nickname refers to an old United States military regulation where a soldier would be dismissed from service through being mentally unfit for duty. The near-suicidal missions that this division volunteers for brands them as insane by other military units. Section 8 deploys by 'burning in' from their orbital drop ships tens of thousands of feet above the battlefield, utilizing the most advanced arsenal of military hardware known to man.
Since this was my first year going to a conference as a family unit (mommy-daddy-baby) I decided to skip most of the presentations and after-hours events. My little boy was great on the exhibition floor, but I didn't want to push my luck… or his endurance. Since I don't have much to say on the other events that occurred (and boy, there were an absolute ton of them) here's my final rundown of the games I saw and played.
Finished The Longest Journey last night, and it was fantastic, if not a bit awkward at times. The "battles" are strange in that since I can't fail, I can stand completely still and do nothing while the monster just looks at me and waves its arms. I'm aware that Dreamfall has a combat mechanic but my friends tell me that it isn't very well done. I'm curious if something akin to Shadow of the Colossus (which I haven't played) or the new Prince of Persia would work here.
Today was the first day of PAX (Penny Arcade Expo) 2009. I have to admit that I hadn't really been paying attention to many of the press materials prior to the show, and I was a little taken aback when the family unit and I arrived on-site to find that the place was an even larger, more spread-out roil of gamers than it was last year. I think the expo may be reaching its critical mass at the Washington State Trade & Convention Center, honestly. I certainly don't want it to leave, but I have a hard time imagining more people being able to cram into that space.
With all the studies on therapeutic uses for Nintendo's Wiimote, a deaf school's innovative use of PlayStation Portables and the potential for Microsoft's Project Natal to make games accessible to players with disabilities thanks to its ability to recognize objects, voices, gestures and facial expressions, it's easy to think that motion-sensing technology is an unequivocal boon to players with disabilities everywhere. But is it? It's certainly easier for some people with disabilities to move an arm than to push a small button (or six). But what about those players with disabilities who are attracted to video games partly because pushing buttons allows them to do things they cannot otherwise do? Will the move toward motion control realism bar some players from their hobby?
So via Critical Distance I found this feminist critique of BioShock, written by Richard Terrell (who, you may have noticed, is a man). But it is really not sitting right with me. His thesis is that BioShock depicts women as weak and men as strong. So I thought the rest of the article would try to show how BioShock upholds patriarchal values.
Sunshine is for losers! We spent our summer vacation indoors, enjoying the offerings of the Xbox Live Summer of Arcade. Well…”enjoying” might be too strong a word. We rundown all five games: Splosion Man, Turtles in Time, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, Trials HD, and Shadow Complex. Plus, Mike and Tim red ring within 12 hours of each other! Believe it! Featuring Chi Kong Lui, Brad Gallaway, Mike Bracken, and Tim Spaeth.
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