With E3 just around the corner, it’s difficult not to get hyped up about the video game industry!
…No, I lied. Given the last couple of years, on the whole E3 has kind of been lacking on what the emerging, diverse gaming populace want to see in their games. Some game companies are trying, like Guerrilla Games and their game Horizon Zero Dawn, but still end up missing the mark; for example, with Horizon, many Native players and onlookers found that their culture was appropriated and misrepresented because there were no actual Native people serving as consultants or even on the writing team. With game companies being so strangely reluctant to actually collaborate with people from the culture their game is going to represent, I found myself keeping away from one game series in particular: Far Cry.
The Far Cry series has been around for more than a decade and the gameplay within its more recent installments (FPS with both action and RPG elements) always attracts praise from critics and players alike. However, what put me off the series is the way it seems to embody the idea that cultures not our own are in some way barbaric and in need of liberation. For instance, 2012’s Far Cry 3 stars Jason Brody—like, seriously, have you heard a more “white guy from Orange County” name in your life?—who is captured by a pirate crew during a party along with his friends and brother on an island in the Indian Ocean, and gets caught up in some slavery ring/drug cartel businessbecause of course that’s what’s happening. 2014’s Far Cry 4 feels like it takes a step in the right direction, having its (still male) protagonist Ajay actually have ties to the Nepalese-inspired culture of Kryat, where the game takes place. However, I can’t find anything that leads me to believe that Ubisoft actually consulted anyone from the Nepal area to help with their worldbuilding, and instead simply sent their team to Nepal to draw their own conclusions.Yet with the upcoming Far Cry5 I can’t help but be excited because for once, the protagonist won’t be restricted to being a dude. Additionally, there’s no uncomfortable feeling of going overseas and bringing American justice to foreign people. Far Cry 5 takes a controversial–or perhaps just controversial given the political climate—look at a villainous group that’s been avoided for far too long in the series: white people.
Recently I have been obsessed with Gravity Falls, and that led me to watching a very strange but intriguing movie based on a now-famous science fiction novel called Flatland. When Gravity Falls creator Alex Hirsch went on Reddit answering questions as Bill Cipher, one commenter asked what Bill’s home dimension was like. Hirsch as Bill (and in entirely in capslock) responded, “EDWIN ABBOTT ABBOTT HAD A GOOD IDEA.” I looked up Edwin Abbott Abbott and discovered he is the author of Flatland, a satirical science fiction book about a flat world inhabited by geometric shapes. Initially, I worried that Abbott would use math and science jargon and that much of the story would be lost on me because of it. I love math and science, and I am fascinated by it, but I don’t have much of a head for it.
However, one day I discovered the 2007 film Flatland: The Film, and decided to watch a little of it, thinking it would be interesting but that it wouldn’t hold my attention long. I was wrong. I was so fascinated with the story that I immediately immersed myself in learning more about the world of Flatland as well as the somewhat feminist views of the story.
The Handmaid’s Tale is a modern classic story of one woman’s slavery in a dystopian post-America society. Recently adapted into a show on Hulu, its sixth episode (“A Woman’s Place”) is the first to seriously deviate from the plot of the original novel. Earlier I wondered how Hulu was going to further explore and expand the world of Gilead, and how that would impact the show’s feminist messages. With “A Woman’s Place”, Hulu has started to deliver. We see different women in different positions of power and oppression. Serena Joy takes center stage, but we also spend time with June/Offred (our titular Handmaid) as well as two other women. Each woman tells us something different about the way we respond to slavery.
Spoilers for Episode 6 of The Handmaid’s Tale and warnings for slavery and sex trafficking below.
Hulu’s recent adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale couldn’t have hit our screens at a better time. Just as American politicians are “debating” all kinds of controversial healthcare policies (especially women’s reproductive health), we’re treated to a retelling of Atwood’s feminist dystopian classic. Atwood paints a world in which America is overtaken by a radical right-wing fundamentalist Christian sect, forcing women into subservient roles determined by their fertility. It’s the autobiographical story of June, aka Offred, one woman trying to survive life under the new regime. One of the best things about the Hulu adaptation is its determination to bring complexity to a variety of themes in the story. It’d be easy to write off The Handmaid’s Tale as a religious horror story, but it’s so much more than that.
Spoilers for the first three episodes of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Atwood’s novel, plus trigger warnings for mentions of sexual slavery and forced pregnancy below.
To be perfectly honest, I didn’t have much hope for the latest installment in the Star Ocean franchise. I wanted to be optimistic, the same way I wanted to be optimistic about the Assassin’s Creed movie or Final Fantasy XV—but near every time I go for optimism, reality has its ways of disappointing me. Integrity and Faithlessness came out after The Last Hope, and The Last Hope is anything but a good game. The plot made no damn sense, the characters are all unlikable, and the massive amounts of sexism and rape culture on top of everything made the game more than unenjoyable.
The Last Hope’s failure ensured that the budget for Integrity and Faithlessness was small, and it sure as hell shows. We only get to visit one planet, the monster designs are all reused from previous games, there are hardly any cutscenes, meaning that it’s possible to walk away from important dialogue, and the plot itself is a little lackluster. It’s not hard to see why the game only has three stars on IGN. Despite all that, though, Integrity and Faithlessness did a really good job with what it had. A lot of effort went into its characters, and following a group of well rounded people more than made up for any of the game’s other shortcomings.
Pacific Northwest Stories, which has expanded to becomePublic Radio Alliance, the same group that creates shows like The Black Tapesand Tanis, has recently come out with a new podcast called Rabbits. The podcast is only four episodes in and it is definitely addictive and interesting, but it also already has several issues that really bug me.
The recent controversy over the bullshit Death Note whitewashing has caused me to crave the original version of Death Note, specifically the animated series. I will admit that while I am a fan of this anime, I have never actually finished it, thanks to L’s untimely death. To this day, I still don’t know much about how the show ends. Now, however, on top of my own desire to watch it again, my husband wants to watch it for the first time. So after many years I am set to finally finish this series, but it has been so long since I have watched this anime that upon beginning my re-watch, I immediately noticed things I missed the first time around. I still adore this anime and think it is extremely well done, but I couldn’t help but dislike the treatment of the character Naomi Misora.