So let’s talk video games for a bit.
If you identify as a “Gamer” enough to follow the major gaming news sites then you’re probably aware that there’s been a growing trend of people protesting the long-held status- quo of the industry primarily catering to a straight white male audience. To a certain kind of person this is a Very Bad Thing Indeed, but I find the upswell of protest immensely heartening.
A few days ago a campaign started up on twitter using the hashtag #miiquality with the aim of getting Nintendo to put an option for same-sex relationships in its upcoming 3DS game Tomodachi Life. Similar efforts have sprung up before around games that offer players the chance to engage in optional relationships, but Tomodachi Life is significant because instead of romancing NPCs the player will be romancing other players, and very likely their actual real-life significant other. Instead of just pretending that gay people don’t exist, the game is actively excluding them.
The fact that Nintendo declined to act on the miiquality campaign is disappointing but not really all that surprising. What is surprising is the specific way they responded:
“The relationship options in the game represent a playful alternate world rather than a real-life simulation,” Nintendo said. “We hope that all of our fans will see thatTomodachi Life was intended to be a whimsical and quirky game, and that we were absolutely not trying to provide social commentary.”
Other people who are far more qualified than me have already written at length about why this is bullshit. I don’t want to focus on Nintendo’s response so much as the way some (by and large sincere and well-meaning) people have tried to minimize the outrage directed at them over the last few days- a response to the response to the response, if you will.
Last Summer I reviewed The Last Of Us and declared it to be the bee’s knees. Then it went on to win approximately eleven thousand awards, proving that my judgement in all things is infallible.
Now we’ve got a short DLC cherry to top off the main game, but is it a needless bit of fluff or a game-changing experience that not only surpasses the original but might count as one of the freshest and most artistically honest products to ever come out of a AAA developer?
(Yeah it’s that second one)
It’s hard to remember now, but the original Assassin’s Creed was a fairly big disappointment. After being hyped to the moon as one of the first next-gen blockbusters the game met with a fairly lukewarm reception. Like many early console generation titles it came off as a good idea that the developers hadn’t quite gotten a handle on yet. For a while it was looking fairly dicey that the game would get a sequel.
Then it did, Assassin’s Creed II was much better received and there are now so many sequels and mobile spin-offs I’m having trouble keeping track of them all. I haven’t played any of them since the second game, since I had some fairly fundamental complaints with the core gameplay of the series that none of the sequels looked like they were interested in fixing. Then I started to hear some absurdly good reactions to Black Flag, which got me interested enough to see if my gripes with the AssCreed formula had finally been fixed.
So the VGX awards happened last night.
A quick backstory for those not in the loop: this is an annual video game award show previously known as the Spike TV Video Game Awards that appears to have been set up as a sort of gaming version of the Oscars but was widely mocked and derided as the plague center of “bro” culture in gaming and regarded as little more than a joke.
This year the Spike TV branding has been shed, presumably in an effort to give the whole thing a classier image. I didn’t watch the award show itself to see if this was successful (apparently there were transphobic jokes on stage so I guess not) but I did want to comment on the winners a bit, since they revealed some interesting trends.