Your Guide to Holiday Home Defense

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It’s that time of year again. The time when that spirit of doom rises over us all. That time when we all have to watch our backs every moment of every day. That time when we all know that Jolly Red Roof Lurker waits for our moment of weakness to invade our homes, eat all our cookies, get uncomfortably familiar with our children, and take the credit for all our thoughtfully chosen gifts. Just this morning, before I got into work, he was in my office. He left me something right on my desk. A tin of cheap cocoa and a couple of mugs with his face on it. To mock me. Just to show he knows where I work and that even though it’s behind a couple levels of security, he can still get into it any time he wishes.

I am many things in life. I’m the world’s sexiest human being. I am the new hope for good in a world without. But I’m also the world’s foremost Santa Hunter. And this year, I thought I would do my part to further make the world a safer place and talk about how to defend yourself against Santa, this year. Now, there’s not a science to combatting old St. Nick. You have to be prepared to be flexible, and honestly, there’s a lot to it that you won’t pick up without years of experience. But Satan Claws does operate according to a rather strict set of rules, and knowing them, knowing how to take advantage of them, could just save your life this year.

It can seem impossible to fight back against Santa. After all, he’s constantly watching everything you do. You know that weird thing you do when nobody’s watching? Yeah, he sees that. He’s also everywhere. Especially this time of year. You can’t go anywhere without spotting signs of his involvement. It can seem overwhelming. But keep in mind you don’t have to worry about all that. You don’t have to deal with him in the stores or out on the streets. Sure, it would be an opportunity to rid us of the red menace once and for all, but leave that to the professionals like me. You just need to worry about defending yourself for one single moment, when he enters your home.

The first step in that is just knowing who he targets. Santa is notoriously prejudiced in his operations. For some reason, the Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and practitioners of many other faiths are generally safe from his invasion. Perhaps the most reliable way of ensuring you and your home is safe is to convert to one of those religions, in which case he might just ignore you entirely.

He also seems to focus more on homes with young children. Being child-free is less of a guarantee of safety, but perhaps something to consider.

What is no guarantee of safety, as many assume, is not having a chimney. Many think that having no fireplace means that Santa has no means of ingress into their home, but that’s simply not true. Likewise, many assume that Santa is a normal man with strange magic powers. Again, not true. Sometimes, Santa may take the form of a man, but just as often, he remains in his natural state, that of an intangible Christmas Spirit. In that form, he is able to enter your home through any exterior defenses, whether locked doors and windows, electric fences, or magical barriers.

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And it is in that form he is most deadly. He’s not able to switch the “From” names on your presents to his own in that state, but he has a far more dangerous tool at his disposal. In his Christmas Spirit form, he can take over people’s minds, possessing them or making him his thrall. If you’ve ever wondered why Santa can appear in so many stores at the same time, or why he looks slightly different every time you see him, that would be why. Those are simply others whose very sense of being he has overpowered. It seems he is only able to do so to adult males, it’s very rare to see a woman under his direct control, but for anyone who falls under it, it seems his call is irresistable; no matter how strong-willed they are, they will do his bidding. Most of the time, his thralls are easily identifiable, for they will wear his guise and his clothing. On Christmas Eve, however, his powers grow, and his thralls may not necessarily bear these marks. You should be suspicious and ready to strike against any adult male in your vicinity. Not every grown man is susceptible to his glamours, many, like myself, seem to be immune. But enough of them are that until proven otherwise, you should be suspicious of your significant others, fathers, grandparents, uncles, and any other adult male relatives. When in doubt, it is safer to knock them unconscious than to hope that Santa has not seized hold of their mind. They may pass an uncomfortable night, but if they care about you, they will undoubtedly be pleased to do their part to keep their home safe.

If you’re a grown man yourself, it seems the best way to protect yourself from Santa’s possession is to keep yourself in an altered state of mind. Get drunk. Stay drunk. Not too drunk, because you’ll still need to be able to fight, but drunk enough. You’ll know when you’ve hit that stage. Just stay there, all Christmas Eve. You haven’t seen any of those store Santas drunk around all those kids, have you? It seems Santa has a harder time seizing someone’s mind when it’s under the influence.

Of course, the men aren’t the only ones in danger. In fact, the women might have it much worse. Particularly the mothers. Santa has a really weird love life. As chronicled by that old song, Santa has some constant, broad amorous affections, but only for mothers. Typically, those already romantically attached, as well. It seems he’ll often use his thralls to place his affections, stealing kisses from their partners, underneath the mistletoe. Which, by the way, is poisonous, because Santa spoils everything he comes across. I suspect that seeing familiar features of their loved ones under his guise opens their minds to the prospect, at which point he begins to work his glamours. Whatever the case, witness reports are constant from young children of finding Santa at his dirty work in the middle of the night, only to begin enjoying the affections of their mothers once he is done. Their fathers, nowhere to be found in all this. Some of you still living with a parent or with kids of your own may be tempted to use this odd amorousness as bait, but this is an advanced technique, with much risk at play. Leave it to the professionals.

Due to Santa’s natural phantasmal state and his possession of your friends and family, it’s not recommended to use weapons. You could easily end up harming those close to you who find themselves under Santa’s power, or you could destroy things within your home without harming Santa himself. But don’t worry, you’ll likely be able to drive him off with simply your natural abilities.

Santa will enter your house in his phantasmal state. In this form, he is largely intangible, and mostly invisible. Most people will not even realize he’s in the home. Those of you with mental powers may be able to detect his entry, and he will be very weak to your mind bullets in this state. If you don’t have those, or if you’re wanting to do some more serious damage, you’ll have to be patient and wait until he takes physical form. He will need to do this before he can interact with anything in your home, whether that’s your cookies, your presents, or your family. If he is able to seize the minds of anybody in your home, he will use their bodies, but if not, he may bring in somebody from the outside through some magic I’ve been unable to decipher as yet, or he may manifest in his own form. He is a skittish creature, and will only take a physical form if he thinks he is completely safe in doing so, so it is of vital importance to either hide well or pretend to be asleep until he appears.

Then you strike. Strike fast, strike hard. He is an accomplished combatant, with strange seasonal magics at his disposal, so the goal is to avoid getting into an extended fight with him. It will be far safer to do enough damage in a single moment to drive him off.

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The WWE has been conducting and publishing ongoing research on this for years. Their research seems to suggest that Santa is vulnerable to your finishing maneuver, provided it strikes at the head and is the type that you can pull off suddenly. Your Stone Cold Stunners, RKOs, Diamond Cutters, Sweet Chin Musics, those type of things. In my experience, you can also try for a submission hold, but that does carry a risk that he will leave a thrall in the middle of your hold. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve slapped my Scorpion Deathlock onto Santa only to have to explain to my grandfather why he came to in my hold later.

If you do not have anything suitable there in your repertoire, a stealth attack might be your best bet. Be prepared for the night in your best stealth gear, sneak up behind him as quietly as you can, and make your move when you’re within arm’s reach. I’m a fan of an elbow to the back of the skull, but you know your fighting style best.

If you do find yourself locked into melee combat with Santa, again, the goal is to deal enough damage to force Santa to release his hold and flee. Again, this may be dangerous, but keep in mind that no matter how the battle goes, drawing him into combat means that his dastardly business in your home is interrupted, so you’ve won that part of the battle already. Again, you know your fighting style best, so trust yourself there. Your best bet is to be as aggressive as possible, seeking to deal as much damage as you can as quickly as you can. The shorter your fight is, the safer you will be. He’s got a lot of cushioning on his torso, but strikes to the head and knees work well. Do not underestimate him, in spite of his weight, he is surprisingly swift. Strong, too. In my experiences, though, he’s a relatively simple fighter, mostly sticks to boxing, with some dirty moves thrown in, but his fundamentals there are strong. Fighting him may be difficult, but if you are both careful and aggressive, it should not take too long to force him to flee.

When he does, under no circumstances should you pursue him outside your home. There his magics are most powerful, and he may have reinforcements out there, in the form of other thralls, his reindeer, his wicked elves, or, worst of all, the dreaded Krampus. You may witness some dedicated Santa hunters attempt to fight him there, but it takes years of training and experience to reach the level that you can do that safely. Rest assured that you have protected the lives and safety of both yourselves and the rest of your family, and leave the next steps to those with more experience.

With this, I hope you can keep yourself and your family safe this holiday season. And as always, rest assured that we are ever growing closer to ending the evils of Xmas once and for all.

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Dirty Deeds in Fallout

Last time, y’all decided that our dear, sweet, lovely Athena, so new to the cruelties of the wasteland, so innocent to the horrors of life, only ever wanted to make it a better place to live, was going to be a down and dirty thief. Such a heel turn. And frankly, I’m ashamed of you all. How could you do that to her? Turn someone who so far had never done anything foul against anyone that didn’t deserve it into someone who would willingly violate the sanctity of someone’s home, take something precious and irreplaceable to them, and hand it over to someone else for nothing other than a handful of bottlecaps? I hope you all feel really bad with yourselves.
Which is to say, I actually already did this in the same session I was doing everything else last update, so I’m really glad you voted the way you did.

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But before we get to our Dirty Deeds Done Dirt ExpensivebecauseAthenadon’tcomecheap, let’s get some errands out of the way. First off, we check with Jasmine, a member of the Circle of Thieves on our way out the door. She hands us some flares and a lockpicking kit to get ready for the job ahead of us. We already have a lockpicking kit, and I don’t know what we’re supposed to do with flares given that we’re operating in the shadows now. Vendor trash, the both of them.
She also warns us not to do anything against Hightower, our little thieving target here, other than take his stuff. He’s apparently really good to the Circle of Thieves. He doesn’t know it, but he is. If he gets iced and someone with better security takes his place, they’ll be out money. So peace and discretion is the name of the day. Sort of.

We leave the circle, and start heading back towards central The Hub. On the way there, you remember the building I mentioned last time that has several toughs we’re not yet strong enough to handle? One of them sees us through a window as we pass by, and the entire group of way higher-leveled and better equipped enemies pile onto us. Uh…. that wasn’t supposed to happen.

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And look, I know I’ve had some fun getting Athena into and out of situations she’s barely specced to handle, but not this one. This one doesn’t go well. Continue reading

Corpse Party

I guess I’ve just been in the mood for this. After I finished up with the Witch’s House, I started up its fellow Japanese RPG Maker developed horror game, which seems really too specific to be a thing but it totally is, Corpse Party. Corpse Party isn’t a freeware game like the Witch’s House, so although it’s got the same basic DNA, it’s got a much more professional presentation. And when you think of professional, of course you think of your main man Aether, so given that totally excellent segue, let’s get down to our review of the game.

Corpse Party is a version of a game that’s a remake of another game from like 1996 or something. There’s a couple different versions of the game, and they all seem to be slightly different in presentation. Basically a horror adventure. Trapped in a school. An evil school. Have to pixel hunt and solve the occasional puzzle to get out. All the while avoiding things that will happen to you. Bad things. Just in case you were thinking you might have to avoid ice cream or something. Wanted to be clear on that. The school is full of traps and also haunted and some of the traps might be haunted to. Maybe you’ll get possessed. Maybe you’ll go crazy. Maybe you’ll make the wrong move and find yourself sliced in half. Doesn’t that sound like fun? And if you die here, there’s no pearly gates waiting for you on the other side. Your soul will linger, feeling the pain you felt at the moment of your death for all eternity.

So it goes without saying that the death scenes are some of the best parts in the game. But let’s get into that later.

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So, like I said, Corpse Party is an RPG Maker Horror game. That should give you at least some idea of what you’re looking at. Sprite art everything, text boxes with occasional options the main means of progressing story, simple chase scenes mixed in sporadically, the works. And let’s get the conclusion out of the way here. Horror games are always going to be a ‘your mileage may vary’ type of thing. It’s so personalized, so built on tapping into just who you are and what makes you tick and twisting that against you, that how you react to it is definitely going to be an individualized deal. And I’m going to say that Corpse Party is going to be even more that than most. The horror is really all it has to it. The gameplay is as white bread as it gets, the puzzles barely require thought, plot is totally ehhhhhhh, so it’s all atmosphere here.

And there’s a lot of ways that horror media. Some go the psychological route. Some fill themselves with jumpscares and play off the fear of that momentary panic. Some will present you with things from your everyday life and twist them into freakish interpretations of themselves. Corpse Party goes the route of just being straight disturbing.

The ghosts aren’t particularly scary, in themselves. Nor are the traps. It’s what they do with you that gets to it. You know how most media, right before it does the horrible gruesome thing, will cut away and leave it up to your imagination? Corpse Party doesn’t do that. Corpse Party shows you the horrible thing the whole way through. And the creators are very creative with their horrible things. You get a few stinkers, sure, but for the most part, the game is full of cruel and unusual ways to die, rendered in disturbing detail. You get spared a bit by the fact that it’s all in pixel art, it’d probably cross the line into being rather disgusting if it was in a more representative form, but the descriptions and audio bits do a really good job of carrying that through. It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. And if it’s not yours, nothing wrong with that. You’re probably what the professionals call “well-adjusted”. If that is the sort of thing you’re into, well, it’s what really carries the experience for you.

I do really have to give props to the game for its audio design. You don’t get the usual freesounds.com bits here, the audio is used very, very well to match the scenes. They’re unique, and really carry along the activity, and most of all, are the biggest piece carrying along that horror atmosphere that’s so important in this type of thing. The soundtrack is notably strong, as well. The voice acting was all recorded binaurally, meaning that if you’re listening to the game through headphones, you’ll get some pretty sweet 3D sound out of it. I’m too lazy to walk across the room and pick up a pair, but I imagine it’s a pretty interesting experience.

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The Fallout Legend-Killer

Man, it’s been a while, hasn’t it. Let’s go ahead and correct that.

So, last time on Aether and the Falling Outs, Athena killed some people for money. And this was a good things. Let’s see if we can keep that momentum going, shall we?

Also, Butch, master of the Far Go Traders, asked us to investigate why his caravans are going missing. We suspect a completely unproven urban legend that all the sensible people we know think is completely bonkers. That one chatty woman that buys our corpse-lootings suggested we check with a couple of people on the east side of town for more info, so let’s do that.

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The east side of town… not the best. There is a conspicuous lack of police presence in these parts. And the Hub is the biggest population center in this section of the wasteland. Which means it has a lot of crime, and outside of Decker, a lot of them are hanging out here. Case in point, this building. Full of guys. Bad guys. Specifically, bad guys who are both stronger and more numerous than we are right now, and who will immediately attempt to kill us if we indulge out natural player curiosity and attempt to look at everything in the game. This building will be important for us later on, but it’s a little too much for us to handle right now. So lets leave it alone for a bit, shall we?

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Instead, we head south a bit, and talk to this guy. Uh, sorta.

He’s what they used to call ‘touched by the gods’. Has an alternate view of the world. He suggests we go inside. Talk to Harold. This next guy.

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This guy. He is important. You won’t know this now. But you might have seen him if you’ve played later games in the series. He, or at least some person pretending to be him (Fallout Tactics is a weird one) has been in every single Fallout game released between this one and Fallout 3. Continue reading

Switchery

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Looks like Santa brought me a gift early. A peace offering, he called it. I see through his lies, though. I made my way out of his devil’s workshop with the loot in hand. Always careful, always wary, I checked it over for traps a hundred times. I’m still not sure there isn’t any sort of trick to it. But still, it’s hard to turn down a brand new Nintendo Switch.

It’s odd, but there’s a lot about the Switch that doesn’t translate over until you see it in person. I think part of that may be coming from Nintendo’s recent track record with consoles, where, while they didn’t quite overpromise and underdeliver and definitely have some quality experiences on there, still always felt like they should be something more than they were. The Wii didn’t have quite the detailed motion controls everyone hoped for, the Wii U didn’t have the games that took the hardware features to the limits, there was just a small amount of untapped potential with both of them.

It’s still new enough that I might yet be getting a touch of that new car smell off of it, so I may be changing this opinion in the future, but so far, it feels like the Switch is living up to every bit of what I expected of it.

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Let’s start with the base hardware. The thing is tiny. It’s a little bit thicker than your average tablet, but not by much. It doesn’t seem like there’s much room for the actual console in there, it’s all taken up by the screen. And yet it does. It packs quite the powerful machine within that small space. Graphics aren’t quite as good as the PSBone, but the few games I’ve played off it so far are able to to build things a definite step up over last generation, all within full and complex settings that, much like most of the rest of Nintendo’s offerings, are processed with very little stuttering and load times. Resolution on the Switch screen itself isn’t as high as on TV obviously, or even on many tablets, but it’s still high enough to make things look niiiiiice.

So if you know anything about me, you know that I’m a gorgeously huge sexy mangod. And that means I have gorgeously huge sexy mangod hands. A lot of Nintendo’s offerings don’t fit comfortably in my hands. The Wiimote’s sized pretty nicely for me, but I have difficulty positioning myself comfortably on the Wii U’s gamepad and the 3DS will actually cause me pain if I’m playing it for too long. When I first saw how tiny the Switch’s controllers were, I was worried I’d be running into the same thing here. Especially with the placement of the d-pad and buttons, I did not have much hope for good things there. Yet, I don’t know what it is about their design or ergonomics, but I’ve played for hours at a stretch and had absolutely no problems with it. Slotting the controllers into the… uh… controller attachment… the one that holds them like a traditional controller, that gets a little tighter than I’d like, but it’s still about as comfortable as the average Playstation gamepad. Playing with both of the joycons free has been my preference, and that’s about as liberating as it gets. The controllers are surprisingly small and light, but have a decent rumble to them, and they actually have better motion sensors than the Wiimote did. They’re lacking an IR pointer, which was the best part of the Wiimote, but I’ve still been able to finely aim things just using the motion controls.

One downside, the system has the weakest wireless receiver of any machine I’ve encountered lately. I keep my TV a couple of rooms away from my router, and although my laptop, consoles, and phone all have absolutely no problem connecting there, the Switch has a tenuous connection with the internet there at best. It’s a good thing the system’s mobile, because I had to take it all the way across my house just so it had enough reception to properly download anything. I thought it was broken at first. On top of that, I don’t know if this is a problem with the receiver or the controller, but the Switch does not always have the best connection with the right joycon. If I let my hands drop to my lap, or my aforementioned mangod hands cover up part of the bottom of the controller, my body will block the console from getting signal from that joycon. If that happens in the middle of a hot fight or tough platforming section, it pretty quickly spells doom.

Moving it from console to handheld mode is even easier than I dreamed. Thing doesn’t so much plug into the tv mount as it does rest comfortably on the connectors, so taking it out is a process that’s needlessly simple. It does take a bit of doing to mount and disengage the controllers, but nothing much really. And just like with the Wii U, I didn’t think that I’d enjoy having a mobile console, but surprisingly, I do. I never thought my lifestyle required it, but it is really handy being able to take my game into the other room when the orcs across the street get too whiny about how I spoiled their latest pillaging run or when my hordes of amorous suitors won’t stop calling me to the bedroom. Get to take care of those mild meatspace annoyances, while still bringing my all important virtual worlds with me.

Of course, no matter how good the console is, it’s all about the games on it. The console is a tool. It’s the artist’s palette, the playwright’s quill, the videographer’s camera. It’s necessary, yes, and determines a large amount of what the creators are capable of, but it’s really the creators themselves that determine what’s done with it. And there, I’m cautiously optimistic.

I’ve been a die-hard Nintendo fanboy for most of my life, up until Nintendo had that phase in the middle of the Wii generation where I wasn’t in the target market anymore. Then, Nintendo’s consoles just became one of the myriad array of gaming devices to me. My loyalty dropped, but in so doing, my world broadened. There were a lot of experiences out there, and once I started exploring them, my gaming habits became a lot more diverse. And I’m glad for that. Nintendo still makes some great games. They cultivate some fantastic experiences, and are truly one of the best developers in the industry. Their games are what’s kept them in the console race for so long. But, as the Wii U has shown, if you’re buying a Nintendo console, you have to be prepared to only get Nintendo games for it.

And that does take a lot of faith. And it’s one of the reasons why I was so cautious to pick it up until recently. I did get a Wii U at the very end of its production, but even now, after all the games have come out for it, the only creators that have put out a number of games I care about for it are Nintendo themselves and Platinum Games, who were contracted with Nintendo for those. I wasn’t willing to do so again, dropping a couple hundred on the Switch and only have Nintendo’s properties for it. But I did so, and so far, Nintendo’s the one that’s had any major releases for it.

Why did I do so? Well, for one, the Switch is showing more promise than the Wii U had. A lot of people claim that the Wii wasn’t a ‘real gamer’s’ machine, because they’re dumb. The Wii didn’t have the major releases the consoles of its generation had, but it had a lot more smaller, creative, experimental titles from a wide variety of developers, all of which brought some really nice quality to the console. The Wii U didn’t have that. Its sales numbers meant that niche titles being brought to the system had a long way to go to reach the levels where they could draw a decent profit, whereas PC, Xbox 360, and PS3 had a much more stable install base. I’m trusting in Switch’s surprisingly high sales thus far to take it closer to where the Wii was. It seems to have come out of nowhere for a lot of developers, much like the Wii did, but I’m hoping that once again, they’ll take notice of the Switch’s place in the market, and be bringing a lot more of the types of gaming experiences we saw a couple generations ago to us. It’s a gamble on my part, particularly as Nintendo has always struggled with relationships with other developers, but one that I’m hoping will pay off.

That gamble is somewhat mitigated by the fact that Nintendo seems to have more of a cohesive vision for this console. They’re still marching to the beat of their own drum, like they always do, but they seem to have much more of an idea which way they’re wanting to go. And they’ve been bringing the games to back it.

I’m imagining it’s going to take me a while to build my Switch library. I’m a notorious bargain hunter, and the Switch is still so new that game prices haven’t dropped yet. Moreover, with the biggest releases for the console coming from Nintendo, who are very aggressive in maintaining their games’ prices in a way few other publishers could manage and in the face of conventional economics, I might have to be on the prowl before finding deals I’m satisfied with. I’ve only picked up two games so far; Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Super Mario Odyssey. But those games. Some of the best I’ve played recently.

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Nintendo gets a lot of flak for running wild with the franchising, which is ridiculous, because they mix their gameplay models up withing these franchises a lot more than nearly any other developer out there. Breath of the Wild is a great example of that. It is very, very different than most any other Zelda game you’ve played before. So much so, that it feels like it could be its very own game. It’s a 3D Zelda that largely eschews the gameplay model the series has been using since Ocarina of Time, building something completely new out of it. And although the mechanics, storytelling, styling, everything like that are all so new they’ve still got that new car smell, the game still feels a lot like playing the original Zelda 1 way back in the day did.

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And Super Mario Odyssey. I’m not going to go the full review here, you can probably catch what I would say any other place on the internet. But I will state that I get the same feeling playing this as I did from Ocarina of Time back in the day. You can tell this is something very, very special as you’re playing it, a rare piece of excellence that only comes around every so often. This is the best Mario has been since 64, and given how great some of the other games to come out have been, that’s really saying something. I would be surprised if this has as much impact on the medium as Ocarina of Time did, we’re just not in a place where that’s generally going to happen anymore, but I do get a similar feeling that this is a game people are going to be talking about and coming back to for a long, long time.

Beyond that, there’s some fun stuff to look forward to, even outside Nintendo’s standards. Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Shin Megami Tensei V, whatever Octopath Traveller ends up being, there’s some real promise with this console. I really, really hope it ends up seeing that through.

Lagging Behind on the Leading Ladies, Part 3: The Creative Side

Introduction

Business Perspective

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It’s that time again! Time to talk about how I don’t get to play like a girl as much as I want to, and look into possible means as for why that is.

Today, we’re going to talk about the creative aspect of having women as leading characters in your video games. And it’s purely going to be about the art of making video game women, in a vacuum. We’re not going to discuss the impact audience reception has on creating just yet, that’s going to be a topic for our next post in this series, when we’re talking about the social factors. Most creators do create for their audience, but if we start working that in alongside everything else we’re talking about the lines between this post and the next post will blur and then I’d have to write the two of them together and I am too monumentally lazy right now to do that. So yeah, just focusing on the creative side of things today, looking at things from the perspective of the designer, not considering the marketing or receptive aspects of these.

This didn’t come up so much in the last post we did in this series, but at it’s core, the whole issue behind gender representation and everything else we’ll talk about here stems from the way we as a culture look at gender identity. So let’s talk a bit about that first.

I’m going to say I’m pretty experienced at being a man. I’ve got a lot of experience at that. Enough that I have pretty much mastered the art of physically being a man. On top of that, I’ve known plenty of women throughout the course of my life. Taken in their stories, their personalities, their… eh, let’s keep this G-rated. Never been a women, but I’ve observed them plenty. On top of that, as I continually demonstrate through this blog, I am a genius. My thinking is just of a top-tier quality.

What I’m saying is I have absolutely the highest credentials to talk about matters of gender. Accept no substitutes. My word on this is the best-informed you will ever see. And I’m telling you that men and women just aren’t all that different. Naturally, we barely have anything between us. Personality-wise, we in general have a few different drives, usually related to partnering or evolutionally instilled upon us from a period of life that we’ve outgrown faster than our biology has, but aside from that, we’re basically the same. Yes, we have some biological, hormonal, and brain developmental differences, but the differences account for so little proportion of who we are. Men and women have far more in common than we realize. Stripped of everything else, we all have basically the same capacity for caring, for aggression, for nurturing, and for enjoying video games.

But cultures in general do not recognize that. That’s one of the human absolutes, every single known human culture has developed a distinction between gender roles because people in general have a hard time not getting blinded by obvious distinctions. It’s human nature, in an attempt to understand people we attempt to see them as instant wholes based on the most obvious characteristics, rather than taking the time to figure out their individual features and building our concept of them around that. This creates expectations. Implicit, unstated expectations of how different genders are supposed to act, instilled in us since birth, and the mold by which we’re supposed to grow up into. Which is ridiculous. You cannot define a single personality trait or feature that reasonably applies to a full half of the human population. But cultures try. And in so doing, they create more differences between the genders than actually exists.

And that has negative impacts on both sides of the coin. Those impacts don’t always reach a one-to-one match, but the defined gender roles are hurting both men and women in different ways.

But still, it persists. That’s both the cause of what we’ll be talking about today, and the whole reason I’m writing this post series in general.

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The Witch’s House

It’s the season for it, right? Picking up some good, spookifying tales of your medium of choice. Seems to be one of the funnest things about fall for a lot of people.

This year around, even I, who am convinced that time is an illusion created by the greeting card industry, got into the horror season. Now, I’ve had an odd relationship with the horror genre. I really can’t put my finger on why, but I just stopped feeling it. Haven’t been getting the thrill, chills, and spills that people so much enjoy about it. Even so, I wanted to revisit those feelings this year. See if I could find a hint of that point of being deliciously disturbed.

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So I picked up the Witch’s House. Freeware puzzle horror game made in RPG Maker by Fummy, officially translated into English by vgperson. “Freeware RPG Maker horror game?” I hear you ask. “Those are all over the place. What makes this one so unique.” Just hold your horses. I’m getting to that. Patience is a virtue, you know.

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