Things I wish I had spent $150 on rather than a Kinect

So, yeah, the Kinect has been idle for several months, and I have to face the ugly truth of buyers remorse.

Better uses of $150:

  • spent $300 on an awesome video card instead of $150 on a mid range.
  • covered over half the cost of a PS3 (since it looks like the next system won't be backwards compatible)
  • cleaned up during the holiday Steam sale
  • a nice pair of noise isolating in ear headphones for my daily commute on the bus
  • shoes

The issue WHY sexual violence is being used

(reposted from another thread) It is the kind of violence. Sure Nathan Drake, Batman, even the original Laura get the shit kicked out of them, maybe even tortured, but they are never been threatened with rape. Or even taking the (overt) sex out of it, a bad guy hasn't slowly slid a knife over Indiana Jones's bare skin , maybe drawing a little blood, while cooing/growling in a low voice, describing what he is about to do to him.

Think of all the male action characters in films and games. What the percentage of them have faced the threat of rape? Now think of every female in those movies and games, and how many have them have been sexually threatened. The difference is vast, huge, division by freaking zero.

Why is it so different? It certainly isn't because of reality, sexual assault of males is common enough. This is where sexism, probably unconscious sexism, comes into play on the part of both game designers and gamers.

Why is the threat of rape so rarely used on male characters? Rape isn't something you want your avatar to be threatened with, you won't come away from that situation feeling empowered, so designers leave it out, including instead the kind of punishment that is empowering, like getting punched in the face and showing you can take it.

And so we are left with the question: Is this game pushing the boundries by confronting (mostly male) players with the threat of rape (that would be neat), or is it that Laura isn't meant to be an avatar for male players at all, but rather an object, a device to keep the game moving forward, like Elika in Prince of Persia? If it is the latter, then I'm with Jeff, Fuck that game.

That said, I think there is room for that kind of grittiness in both film and video games with male or female avatars. I'd like to see it in a game like Yakuza, where I could be compelled (as the player) to accept torture, sexual exploitation, etc as a matter of honor. But that is pure genre fiction, not aiming for the mainstream (although they sometimes break through, like Kill Bill).


Ultima V

I played Ultima V without any documentation. I had to decipher the rune language, draw the overworld map, map the moongates, and figure out the spell reagents through trial and error, not to mention the basic keyboard commands (I rowed frigates for the longest time before I figured out how to unfurl the sails). On top of that the game requires all sorts of book keeping: detailed notes of conversations, including key words (the password is "dawn"), coordinates of locations using the sextant, and mapping all the dungeons. There was probably a bunch of stuff i never figured out to do (like level up, was it random at every camp out?) I finally gave up when I reached the underworld, I mapped what I could but there were mountains I couldn't get past. I think i found out years later that I needed the blink spell, and since I only figured out spell chants through trial and error (Grav Por!) that would have been very difficult (but so was everything else up until that point).

It was totally worth it, the open conversation system, true sense of exploration, the risk reward to deep dungeon diving, and my own satisfaction at figuring stuff out. And the narrative was told so effectively in game, like when I was captured by blackthorn and had to choose whether to reveal the password of the resistance or sacrifice one of my party.

I would never play anything like that again.