Left is Right: Southpaws in Video Games, Part One

There’s been a fair bit of discussion in recent years about diversity in video games. Players are getting tired of the mid-thirties unshaven male/bald space marine/what have you protagonist that are the standard for protagonists, and we’re wanting to see more non-WASP characters. There have been calls for more women characters, more races represented, better treatment of gay characters, etc. Yet there’s been one underrepresented segment of the population that seems to have gone forgotten. Nobody seems to think to include us, to demand more representation from our populations, all the while gamemakers are seemingly forgetting we exist. We are a proud group with a very rich and distinguished history, yet we have been living with persecution for centuries, that continues to this day. I speak, of course, of the mighty southpaws.

It has long been scientific consensus that left-handers are more attractive, more intelligent, better in bed, and improved in just about everything we do than most. Indeed, experiments have proven again and again that we are everything Daft Punk ever dreamed of: harder, better, faster, stronger. Of course, you could probably find scientist out there who disagree with those findings, but they’re probably right-handed, and therefore their opinion can’t really be trusted. If you think about it, left-handers are pretty much like superheroes; we are just innately better at pretty much everything. If one were to call us the next step up in human evolution, they wouldn’t be too far off the mark. Yet, even with our obvious greatness, we find most of western culture against us. While “right” also means “correct” and “just” in English, the Latin root for the word “sinister” took on evil connotations because it referred to left-handed people. Largely because of our natural ability to circumvent many defenses against right-handed fellows, southpaws were considered treacherous and touched by the devil, which is ironic considering that we actually seem to be blessed by God himself. Even now, the Right Power movement pervades our culture, with basic tasks such as cooking, writing, and even using common school supplies made much more difficult by the fact that nearly everything is made specifically for right-handed people. In fiction, left-handers are rarely represented at all, and even when we are, our handedness is most commonly used as a sign for how evil the character is.

Of course, we do have some small representation in most mediums, and video games are no exception. The amount of left-handed characters is very small, but most of them are very significant. And usually the best parts of their own games. To follow is a bit of a celebration of left-handed characters in games, listing the most notable ones in the games I’ve played, and explaining a bit of how their natural superiority shines through.

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Visual Novel Theatre: Katawa Shoujo

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You know that thing I used to do where I would talk at length about visual novels? Yeah, we’re doing that again. Today, in our newly christened Visual Novel Theatre, we’re going to be reviewing Katawa Shoujo by Four Leaf Studios, one of the most famous visual novels floating around on the internet. Katawa Shoujo (trans. Cripple Girls) is an eroge… featuring women with various disabilities… that was put together by members of the infamous image board 4Chan. Really? And I’m going to be reviewing this, huh? And we’re expecting this to end well?

Luckily, Katawa Shoujo actually treats its subject matter with respect and maturity. I know, I was just as surprised as you. It seems that the miscreants within Anonymous can actually be decent every once in a while. The central theme of the game seems to be that people with disabilities are just like everyone else. Each of your prospective girls has their own disability, and they are a significant factor in their lives, but as presented, their disabilities are not the source of their problems. Each of the five women you can pursue seem to have already come to terms with their disadvantages and have learned to adjust to them.

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Why is EA really the Worst Company in America?

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While you weren’t watching, history was quietly made today.  Video game company EA has achieved something no organization has ever done before.  Through dedication, hard work, and a complete and utter commitment to the cause, EA has become the first company to win the Consumerist’s Worst Company In America  award twice in a row.

But why are they the Worst Company In America?  After all, as EA itself has pointed out, it’s rated against companies that actively ruin lives and steal from their customers.  Some of the other companies that were in the running actually make the world a worse place in a very practical manner.  Can a company who limits its activities to the video game industry which, internet drama aside, can’t really affect the public in the way Bank of America can be truly deserving of the title “Worst Company in America?”

Hell yes.  And here’s why.

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Letters Home from Camp NaNoWriMo

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I used to do NaNoWriMo whenever it came around.  It wasn’t easy getting 50,000 words down in a month, but knowing that thousands of other people are suffering along with me does wonders for my motivation.  Maybe I’m a sociopath or something.  Anyways, in spite of the fact that I have yet to pack up my action figures and I still combat invisible adversaries with a toy sword in my living room, I’ve somehow become a “mature adult,” or so people tell me.  And part of being a “mature adult” is that I don’t have the kind of time to be spending a couple hours a day writing.  I’ve tried a few times, but my word count has been so pathetically low that the comments of this post would be full of people laughing at me were I to mention it here, so I won’t.

Luckily, NaNoWriMo’s little brother is on the scene!  For the past couple years, there’s been Camp NaNoWriMo, where you set your own word count goals and work towards it during a month that’s not November.  As you may have gathered from my taking the time to write this post, I’m taking part in it, for their April session.  I’m going for 10,000 words over the course of the month, which should be a pretty modest goal.  Hell, I’ve written posts on this blog that are close to 10,000 words.  It started on the first of the month and I’ve written a grand total of… 0 words.  Yeah, I’ve been procrastinating a bit.  That’s what this post is all about, helping me procrastinate.  I am writing words here so I don’t have to be writing words there.  So by reading this, you are officially helping me screw around and not write anything.  Thanks for that.

With this writing exercise, I’m wanting to explore areas I’m not familiar with.  Normally, I like to write grand plots, where events therein change the course of nations or worlds.  With this story, I’m wanting something much more personal in scale.  I’m really comfortable with writing momentous fight scenes; this project will have to largely deliver conflict without direct violence.  In general, stuff like that.  I’m also wanting to keep this relatively short, wrapping things up shortly after the 10,000 word mark.  I usually write much more long form than that, and it’d be nice to try writing a more accelerated story.

First step of the process for me was coming up with a story concept.  Which I really should have done before the month started, but hey, procrastination.  I came up with a couple of concepts.  The first was to just write whatever ridiculous thing came to mind with absolutely no filter in a stream-of-consciousness type thing, but that feels dumb and cheaty.  The first real usable concept I came up with was inspired by someone unironically using the word “muggle.”  Sometimes, that’s all it takes.  Lifting the idea of a whole secret magical underworld from the Harry Potter series that inspired the term and putting my own spin on it, I came up with the concept of a mage’s police force, tasked with ensuring that magic remains an unseen, unknowable force in the world of mortals.  The idea would be to deliver an urban police beat/investigation story with plenty of fantastic elements.

Thing is, though, that would require some worldbuilding, and I think I’d want more than 10,000 words to work with to pull that off properly.  One way to avoid that would be to stick with elements that most of the audience is already familiar with.  So drop the magic, because that varies too much between fictional worlds, and stick with something where the rules are largely the same between portrayals.  So maybe like, vampire cops or something like that.  A lot of urban fantasy works have the whole Masquerade deal, where there’s the whole secret world beneath the normal one and everyone involved has to go to great lengths to keep it hidden.  I like the idea of a story where the masquerade falls, and the public is made aware of all the magic/weird creatures in their midst, and everyone has to deal with the fallout.  Thing is, I think I like that idea too much, and again, I’d want to devote more than just 10,000 words to exploring that.

So what if we played up the more personal tone I’m wanting to go for.  Make it just one person who reveals too much to another, and take it from there.  That’s the idea I ended up going with, although I’m pulling back a little from the whole ‘secret world’ thing.  Since we’ll just be dealing with a couple people in this story, it makes sense to have them more as independent operators rather than having to involve the shadow organizations and whatnot.  Still have to do a bit of world building to establish what’s going on, but since we’re only having one magic man it will be a lot simpler to do it through his actions rather than background narrative, dialog, or anything that doesn’t move the story as far.  As for what’s going to happen in this story… I dunno.  Usually I have at least a few major points planned out, but this time, I’m writing entirely by the seat of my pants.  Hey, I was wanting to explore new ground with this project, this is just one more area I get to do so.  Will this turn out the greatest short story of our generation?  Will it at least be good?  Probably not.  But it will be a learning experience, and that’s more what I’m looking for right now.

Now I just have to figure out how to start the blasted thing.