It’s been a few years since the “are video games art” question has been raised and pretty much resolved. Yes, video games are art. But with that question out of the way, we’re left with “what’s next?” To that end, I believe we are lucky that many outlets (such as our own) are more than willing to discuss games as an art form, in a similar vein to the way we discuss books or movies. For this week’s web crush, I want to highlight Vice’s gaming division: Waypoint.
Black History Month is moving right along, and while everyone is out there quoting Martin Luther King Jr. or incorrectly talking about Frederick Douglass, I think it’s important that we look at issues surrounding our Black women, as well. Luckily, we’re slowly but surely getting more Black girls and women in our media! Unfortunately, from looking at depictions of Black girls and women in media, such as last year’s scandal over Riri Williams, it’s easy to see that Black (and darker-skinned) women tend to be more sexualized in nerd media than their white (and fairer-skinned) counterparts. This creates a culture where darker bodies are seen as inherently more sexual, and thus more acceptable as targets of objectification and sexual violence.
Video games are a growing medium. They have the capacity to be anything from really fun toys to deeply emotional experiences. In my twenty or so years of gaming, I’ve seen graphics go from crude pixel art to fully rendered, photorealistic models. Stories have become more involved and control schemes have become more complex. Of course, there are nostalgic efforts and departures from futurism, but the general level of quality is so much higher. What a time to be alive, indeed. However, while we’re making progress in some areas, we are still lagging behind in others. The content of our games and characters isn’t improving at quite the same pace. We’ve expanded the roles of what women are “allowed” to be in our games, so on the one hand, we are advancing the idea that women aren’t simply trophies in another castle to be rescued or obtained. But on the other, we are still very much pushing the idea that women in games have to be conventionally attractive.
Recently my brother and I started playing TriForce Heroes, the newest installment of the Zelda series on the 3DS. While this game didn’t necessarily catch my attention from either the Nintendo Directs or E3, when I watched other people play it and saw how much fun they were having, I decided I had to pick it up despite its forced multi-player angle. However, I did also want to pick it up for one other reason: the fact that this game is the first where Link isn’t restricted to a certain type of clothes based on his gender. It’s sad to say how unique it is for a game to both allow characters to wear whatever the fuck they want with no consequence (via in-game perception) and to practically encourage it. While this is what it looked like from the outside, I couldn’t be sure until I played the game myself. At around the same time as TriForce Heroes’s release, the Zelda fandom received another announcement that seemed to promote the message that, well, if some part of Nintendo was going to take the steps to being more inclusive in their games, it was going to be the Zelda franchise. But how effective will their efforts be? I can’t predict the future, but if anything, I think it’s a good start.
Usually everyone here at LGG&F gets along really well. We bond over our mutual love of justice and all things geek! But once in a while, chaos comes to our serene nerd community. When all of the good we try to do is abandoned and our writer’s room deteriorates into madness…
I am, of course, speaking about Valentine’s Day, that heinous holiday that sends us all into a shipping frenzy as our authors nominate and then vote on ships for our Top 20 Romantic Couples in Geekdom (10 Canon/10 Fanon) list. It is now my duty as Empress of LGG&F to present to you this year’s bloodstained list. So put on your shipping goggles and prepare yourself for the 2015 Top 20 Romantic Couples in Geekdom!
As Black History Month marches on, I want to delve into more issues on race. I could continue with the theme of how much representation matters, but I want to sidestep it ever so slightly. It is equally, if not more, important to have good and positive representation. For example, what good is representation if only evil characters are characters of color?
Some spoilers for Hyrule Warriors ahead.
Because I’m boss and have a mom who loves me enough to enter me in free raffles, I won tickets to see Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses, which was playing in mid-August in New Jersey. The first of its kind as a video game concert actually arranged into symphonies, Symphony of the Goddesses featured some of the themes from the Legend of Zelda franchise including Majora’s Mask, Ocarina of Time, and more. In addition, visuals and gameplay were displayed above the orchestra, which I mentioned in my Wii U post. The show is touring throughout the world.
Instead of the musicians themselves traveling, the show “uses” the local talent. In my case, it was the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. I think that’s a really great idea, not to mention cost-effective. As a fan of musical things, I know my local orchestra, and I always look for opportunities to see them. So it made me really happy to know that a group I already loved was playing music I already loved.
To make a long story short, the concert was fucking awesome. The only thing I didn’t exactly like were the visuals being projected above the performers of Link running around defeating Ganon in a bunch of different games. I would have preferred just the music and felt the visuals detracted from actively watching the musicians perform and the music itself.
In my corner of New Jersey, there aren’t many nerds to surround myself with. So another thing that made me really happy was seeing all the nerds at the orchestra. There was a costume contest before the show (which I unfortunately did not participate in because I didn’t know I was going until twenty-four hours before the show, which was not enough time to whip up a costume) where there was the best Skull Kid cosplay I have ever seen. It was possibly one of the best cosplays I’ve ever seen in my life. It was a lot of fun having nerds to laugh with at the corny jokes of the emcees, and I’ve missed that.
In short, this was a great experience. And you don’t have to know anything about the games to enjoy it; my two friends who I brought with me didn’t know the games but liked the music. So it’s a fun night for anyone and everyone. I suggest you check out their website to see if it’s going to be near you.