Living The Dream: An Introduction from the newest Whiskey Intern

What's up, everyone? Hey, Guess what? I'm working at Whiskey!
 
I'll be spending the summer working as an Intern for Whiskey Media, providing an extra hand to all the sites when they need it. I've alphabetized comic books for Comic Vine and written Anime stories for Anime Vice already and posted a trailer on Giant Bomb
 
I'll also be an extra person to contact in case you guys have problems on the site! If you guys have any questions, comments, or angry rants, feel free to send it my way. I'll try and help in any way I can.
  
Let no one tell you that your dumbass podcast is a waste of time.
 
Your humble intern,
MattBodega

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The Fall of the Lich King: World of Warcraft Patch 3.3

I know we don't talk about World of Warcraft much on Giant Bomb, because World of Warcraft is for nerds, and Giant Bomb is only about cool stuff like guns and boobs and anthropomorphic domino men that refuse to be halted. So it makes sense that serious discussion of WoW tends to take place....well....anywhere but on Giant Bomb.
 
But with today's release of the much anticipated Wrath of the Lich King patch 3.3, I thought I'd take a moment to tell you why this patch may be the most exciting thing to happen to the Warcraft Franchise since 2004......and why even Non-WoW players might be interested to see what goes down.
 
You see, Patch 3.3, along with adding a slew of new game systems, quests, dungeons, and stolen ideas(they TOOK the Tome of Knowledge Questing Map straight out of Warhammer! Those devious jerks!)  3.3 also adds the Icecrown Citadel raid, where teams of 10 to 25 can face Azeroth's toughest enemies and, potentially, take the fight to the Lich King, the Traitor Arthas.
 
Let me reiterate that with the proper emphasis.

The Players of WoW are Going to Kill the Lich King

If you've never set foot into the Warcraft Franchise, this doesn't seem like a big deal. But if you're a Wow player or-- even better-- a Warcraft 3 fan, this news should properly shake you up.
 
You see, the Warcraft 3 storyline presented players with one of the more interesting characters gaming has ever had: the Prince of Lordaron, Arthas Menethil, the Paladin who, despite his best wishes to save his people from the Undead Scourge, was corrupted. The Young Prince gave into his vengeance and lost his soul, becoming the first Death Knight, and, eventually, the Lich King himself.
 
Arthas is one of the few characters in gaming who we watched slowly go mad. The decent into madness isn't a new conceit in entertainment, by any means: Go read Macbeth or King Lear if you want proof that good men have screwed themselves over through their good intentions. However, very few of these characters exist in gaming, and for good reason: how do you empathize with a character who is slowly being corrupted? After all, you the player, are never corrupted, only your onscreen avatar. And, furthermore, watching a good-hearted character be consumed and warped by the evil he was sworn to destroy; kinda a bummer. So many video games
are convinced that, because the medium is inherently entertainment, that you can't provide players with an unhappy ending.
 
But Arthas is the exception to the rule; players of Warcraft 3 watched as the Prince of Lordaron saw the land he loved consumed by the shambling Undead. He saw firsthand how the Scourge distributed their undeath-causing plague in the grain served to the citizens of the land. The player watched as Arthas made one gaming's most gut-wrenching decisions; in order to save the City of Stratholme from becoming a breeding ground of Undead, Arthas purged the still living inhabitants of the city, turning his back on his loved ones in his desperate desire to save the land.  
 
And as Arthas dove farther and farther in his obsession to rid the land of the scourge, the spark of goodness that drove his actions was replaced by a desire for Vengeance, to kill all those entities responsible for the Scourge.  Arthas turned on his own men, sacrificed his friends, and, in a lust for the power to defeat the Scourge, found the Runeblade Frostmourne, a cursed sword that provided a direct link between the Lich King and Arthas. By the time the young prince had achieved his vengeance, the damage was done; the Prince had been corrupted by the sword. 
 
In the Undead campaign, the player watches Arthas commit acts of terrible evil in the service of his new master: he kills his father, destroys the High Elves, assaults the city of Dalaran, and corrupts half of Azeroth.
 
My point is simple: Arthas is, straight up, the most interesting THING in Warcraft. His fall from grace and rise to dark power was the most interesting part of Warcraft 3 and it's expansion pack. Indeed, the Arthas storyline seemed to be building up to a major event at the end of Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne, as Arthas accends the mountain of Icecrown to become the new Lich King.
 
But, at the end of the game, a strange thing happened: nothing was "resolved". Arthas sat on the Frozen Throne and the game ended. No resolution. No promise of peace. No good characters to defeat evil. The game just....ended.
 
And now, it's seven years after the release of Warcraft 3. Finally, we are going to see how the Arthas story ends. When patch 3.3 goes live later today, players will hit the slopes of Icecrown to END THE WARCRAFT 3 STORYLINE.
 
The players themselves will end the story of Arthas.
 
That's right, following in the illustrious footsteps of The Matrix Online (which was also a game that took place in "the story canon" and also featured a major story character--Morpheus-- die in an in game event), the story of Warcraft 3 will end at the hands of the players,
 
After eight years, the Warcraft 3 storyline is finally going to end, at the hands of Azeroth's new heroes. One of the most interesting stories in gaming is coming to a close, and players will have a front row seat to watch the end of the Lich King's Wrath.
 
So, buckle up, WoW fans and Warcraft 3 fans. The end of the story is finally here.
 
The Icecrown Cometh.
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Kanji Tatsumi: A Look at Sexuality and Gender in Persona 4

Author's Note: Is it still a spoiler when the entire game is available for Viewing on the site?

 

There are so many wonderful characters in Persona 4: the energetic Chie, who will do anything to protect those she loves, the awkward Yosuke, who dreams of a more exciting life, the innocent Nanako, who doesn’t understand why her Father works all the time, and the whipped Dojima, who can’t find the courage to tell his daughter that he works all the time to protect her. Even within the confines of Japanese game storytelling—which doesn’t often have the luxury of subtle, quiet storytelling (with rare exceptions) – Persona 4 creates a cast of compelling, interesting characters who do, indeed, have genuine, human characteristics at their core. The kids and adults of Iniba are flawed people, as flawed  and compelling as anyone in Liberty City. It makes the ridiculous murder plot of Persona 4—which has the characters jump into Television sets to fight shadows created by the insecurities of the town—actually seem somewhat plausible. Persona 4 is a rich, fascinating universe, with one of the greatest ensemble cast of any video game I have ever played.

The character who I found the most interesting of the whole group—the character whose psychological dilemma really touched me the most—was none other than wannabe biker, roughneck, and textile master Kanji Tatsumi. Kanji is brazen, reckless, and incredibly loyal. He isn’t afraid to call out other characters on their bullshit, and he, more than any other member of the Investigation Team, realizes that dealing with your shadow is, in fact, incredible beneficial to those whose minds are so troubled. 

 Who wouldn't want to hang with a guy like Kanji?


And yet, under that tough-as-nails exterior, Kanji, emerges as one of the most complicated and interesting characters in the game;  raising serious questions about the way society handles and understands gender and sexuality. 
 
 I was so connected to the character, and felt that his characteristics and message were so clear, that I was more than a little angered by the way Kanji was interpreted in a recent video on Destuctoid.com. The video in question was a rant, written and performed by site editor Anthony Burch, in which he argued that video games desperately needed homosexual characters that didn't conform to obvious stereotypes. It's a pretty standard video about a topic that has come up a fair number of times; we've all read something like this before, where progressive game writers bemoan the obvious and infuriating stereotypes about minorities that appear so often in games. 
 
What shocked me, about the article, however, was that Mr. Burch called out Persona 4 as an example of a game which handled homosexuality extremely poorly.
 
As P4 players and  Endurance Run viewers remember, Kanji Tatsumi's main struggle is to come to grips with his own sexual orientation. The battle that leads Kanji to understand himself is one of the great moments in any video game to date, period. It provides-- or, at least, I thought it provided--a clear and profound explanation for the character.

Apparently, this is not the case.
  
With the character of Kanji, Mr. Burch thinks that  Atlus, “sotra half-assed it. Is he gay? Is he not gay? You can argue that this is because of different definitions of sexuality in japan vs. here, and that (sexuality) is not as clear cut as that, but the game still made me feel that that was a cowardly move, to make a character, and actually explore what it’s like to be gay in high school when that’s not really the accepted norm, and then refuse to say whether he’s gay or not."

 
I  was shocked by the like. I think Mr. Burch is a pretty smart guy in general, but his analysis of Kanji character constitutes, in my mind, a pretty serious misinterpretation of the character. More surprising still, several people in the comments also wrote that they too were disappointed/upset that the game seemed to duck around the issue of whether or not the character was gay. Clearly, there's a large group of Persona 4 players who either missed or didn't understand why Kanji's sexuality was never fully and clearly stated in the game. 
 
The desire for this kind of explanation is, in my mind, proof positive that some P4 players, straight up, don't understand the issue that's at the core of Kanji's character.

First off, let's get the obvious out of the way, Kanji probably isn’t gay.

Probably not.

As Kanji says inside the T.V, after finally sedating his shadow self, “It ain’t a matter of guys and chicks….”.

The game certainly makes it SEEM like he’s gay. His interaction’s with the “boy” Naoto and, of course, his shadow on the Midnight Channel are all designed to make it look like he’s gay. Persona 4 really goes far to make you, the player think that Kanji is, in fact gay.

And so many people WANT Kanji to be gay. The reason that  Burch included Kanji on the list is specifically for that reason. So many other game players WANTED Kanji to be gay, because video games are in desperate need for those gay characters who are not stereotypes. If Kanji did come out in the game and say hewas gay, it would provide some really interesting interactions throughout the game, just as Burch said; it would allow the game to show interactions of a gay teenager in high school. And that would be just the kind of insightful, meaningful representation of homosexuality that gaming needs.

But Persona 4 doesn’t make the issue of sexuality so simple, and, as a result, Burch punished the game for what it wasn’t; a sophisticated, heartfelt, and honest interactive experience involving someone coming to grips with their homosexual urges.

The problem, though, is just that; Burch punished the game for what it isn’t, instead of understanding what the game actually is.

Persona 4 does have a message about Kanji, and it has nothing do with whether or not he’s actually gay.

Persona 4 doesn’t care if Kanji is gay.

Persona 4 doesn’t care if Kanji is not gay.

The game is not interested in Kanji’s sexuality in and of itself.

No, Persona 4 is interested in Kanji for a different reason.

The key to understanding Kanji isn’t sexuality. It’s Gender.

Now, you may think I’m crazy. You may think that the game puts a ton of time into portraying Kanji as gay, particularly with his near-naked, heavily lisped shadow inside the T.V. The game, you say, seems to want to have Kanji be gay, and doesn’t go through with it.

But take another look at the dialog in the game, particularly from Kanji and Shadow Kanji inside the T.V
 
 
   

Just before the fight against Shadow Kanji begins, he utters this very interesting line;

“What does it mean to ‘be a guy? What does it mean to be ‘manly?’ Shadow Kanji

Shadow Kanii hits upon one of real Kanji’s sorest spots; for all of his tough guy shenanigans, his leather jacket and “shouting at Media”-itude, Kanji, according to his hearts, true desire, doesn’t understand what it means to be a ”guy”….and, more importantly, why he isn’t a guy.

Yes, Kanji has that air of overcompensating manliness that we always link to heterosexuality, but his heart tells a different story…a story about the real reason his shadow has manifested.

“Oh, how I hate girls……

(The girls say)’You like to sew? What a queer!’

‘Painting is so not you!’

‘But you’re a guy! You don’t act like a guy! Why aren’t you manly?’

“They look at me like I’m some kind of disgusting freak, and say that I’m a weirdo!” Shadow Kanji.

“The girls of Yasogami High reject him. They call him queer. Why? Because Kanji likes to sew. He’s good with textiles. He likes to do crafts, He enjoys knitting. He does things that are “queer” for a guy to do.

Kanji, in the opinion of the town of Inaba, has to be gay, because he doesn’t do the things a guy is “supposed” to do. THIS is the key to Kanji.

 

For the people of Inaba, a person’s sexual preferences are not dependent on what sex an individual actually likes. It doesn’t have anything to do with attraction. Heck, it doesn’t have anything to do with sexuality whatsoever. Because Kanji doesn’t act like a ‘man”, he is not engaging in things that are “male”. For the people of Inaba (and, I would absolutely say, the people here in America) you can’t be a man, like to sew, and still be straight. Kanji likes to do girly things, and not manly things. Therefore, he must be gay.

And this gets to the heart of what Kanji represents in Persona 4, and why he’s such a wonderful character; Kanji, as a character, represents the way that society(Japanese society, and, I would say, American society) handle Gender and Sexuality.

People, in general, need to characterize things, separate items and people according to differences. You are gay or straight. You are a Democrat or a Republican. You are Rich or Poor. If you are male, you like to have sex with women. If you’re female, you like to sew and do arts and crafts. If you’re a man, you like to do “manly” things, like play sports or get into fights.

YOU, as an individual, do not make these choices. YOU, as an individual, do not choose whether or not you like guys or girls, whether you like sports or crafts. Society, that all seeing eye, determines what you SHOULD like, what you SHOULD enjoy doing. Your reality, your existence; it’s socially constructed. Society determines what you are supposed to be.

For the kids at Inaba High, because Kanji is a guy who likes to sew, he HAS to be gay. That’s all he’s allowed to be. That’s all society allows him to be.

Kanji has to be gay, because society deems him to be gay, not because he is actually attracted to other men.

Kanji Tatsumi is a character with a startling, and true, revelation: We are trapped in the roles we are given by society, We HAVE to fit into the categories that define people.

In Kanji Tatsumi, we see that sexuality is defined by others, towards us. We don’t choose our sexuality, instead, we have it assigned based on what we are “supposed” to be.

Think I’m still crazy? Good! But I’m not done yet! There’s one final piece to Kanji’s puzzle!

I have no sense of whether or not you made it to the end of the game( and by that, I mean the very very all the way super true super true ending) because the very end of the game provides a final twist on the Midnight Channel.

Remember, at the beginning of the game; the Investigation Team THINKS the mysterious Midnight Channel is a representation of people’s deepest, most secret desires and beliefs. The Shadow bosses are representations of what the individual on the Channel wishes they could be, or yearns to be, or actually is. Denying that truth makes the shadows stronger.

We all believed that interpretation, but the "True Ending" of the game provides a final, important twist. The final final boss actually reveals the actual truth of the Midnight Channel: the mysterious shadows figures are not the representations of the captured student’s greatest fears and desires.

In actuality, the image on the midnight channel is generated by Inaba’s perception of whoever had recently showed up on normal television. The shadow Kanji, almost totally naked and with Heavy Lisp, wasn’t generated inside his heart; it was what the town THOUGHT Kanji was, what Inaba THOUGHT was Kanji’s true self: a closeted homosexual.

Kanji’s story isn’t about what was inside his heart. It’s slyer, sneakier than that: it’s about what Inaba THINKS Kanji is supposed to be.

And we can all relate to that, right? Did you ever have a hobby, or an action, or a habit that others construed as “gay”? Do you have reactions that aren’t considered manly? Well…..why aren’t they manly?

For Persona 4, society limits us; it breaks us down into categories, stereotypes, roles and characters. We are SUPPOSED to act in certain ways, and conform to certain standards.

“What’s the matter with doing what I want to do?” Shadow Kanji

Kanji does things that mean, for society, that he has to be gay.

Kanji isn’t allowed to be the person that he actually is: a guy who enjoys “feminine” pursuits, like sewing and painting. He doesn’t want to be rejected by the people around him. For being something he’s not “supposed” to be. He doesn’t want to have his pursuits laughed at. He instead wants to be respected for who he is, not what he is supposed to be.

“Won’t someone….anyone…..accept me for who I am?!” Shadow Kanji.

“I’m just scared shitless of being rejected….” Regular Kanji

Kanji's story is the story of what it means, and what if feels like, to have a generalization assigned to you.

Burch judged Kanji because he was supposed to be gay. He was supposed to be a meaningful  homosexual character in a video game. When Kanji didn’t easily fit into Burch's group of positive gay characters, he chastised him and the game, and cut him down to size. Burch didn’t see, or respect, the person that Kanji actually was, or the game that Persona 4 actually is.

Sounds familiar? 
 
Persona 4 is a game unafraid to present a complicated character, and trust that it's audience is smart enough to think about it.  It's the reason Persona 4 is one of the best RPGs ever made.
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The New Adventures of Bomb Should Have A Face

 MattBodega, TokyoChicken, and Jensonb began thought they were recording just another ordinary episode of Bomb Should Have A Face, Giant Bomb's Community Podcast.
But something happened on that Skype Call. Something they didn't expect Something wondrous. Something terrifying. Something.....smoggy.
6 Guests. 3 Topics. Less than 2 hours.
Bomb Should Have A Face was reborn. Shorter. Faster. Leaner.  Quicker. Smarter. Bomber.
On this week's BSHAF, we make our awkward E3 predictions, share our rarest Achievements, and finally realize that Giant Bomb's first birthday is just around the corner! All this and more on Bomb Should Have A Face, Giant Bomb's Community Podcast for the Community Matters that Matter Most!

You can download the show directly here!

You can check out our past episodes on our RSS feed here! Or Subscribe to the Feed!
And be sure to  subscribe to the new  show on iTunes here!

Want to be a guest on Bomb Should Have A Face? Share your thoughts about Giant Bomb, video games, or whatever errant throught wanders through your brain! PM MattBodega or JensonB if you want to join the podcast fun!

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Bomb Should Have A Face Episode 27: What's A BSHAF?

Did you know Giant Bomb has a community podcast?

No? Yeah, I can't blame you. BSHAF hasn't gone up for nearly a month, so it's no wonder you all don't remember Giant Bomb's hottest and most explosive podcast about the best blogs, forum posts, and community content on the site.
But hey, we may be lazy and useless(and by "We" I mean "MattBodega"), but that doesn't mean we haven't been recording! Because we have! This episode right here! This is an episode! MattBodega, Jensonb, and TokyoChicken are there! So are Giant Bomb community members Systech and Coltonio7!
On this show, we come up with the BEST VIDEO GAME IDEA EVER. This is not an overstatement. If anything, this is an understatement. Because the idea we have on this show is so damn good.
All this nonsense and more on Bomb Should Have A Face, Giant Bomb's Community Podcast for the Community Matters that Matter Most!

You can download the show directly here!

You can check out our past episodes on our RSS feed here! Or Subscribe to the Feed!
And be sure to  subscribe to the new  show on iTunes here!


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