Category Archives: Games

Mass Effect and Sexism

Or… Why I uninstalled Mass Effect after one day of playing.

Before I get into this I just want to say that I really wanted to like Mass Effect. I’m talking Mass Effect 1 here, and yes, I realize that I’m about four years late. This game seemed to have it all. A science-fiction FPS (first-person shooter) with an interesting story, characters, and world. Shepard (the main character, who is chosen as either male or female at the beginning), in particular was very interesting to me. She was very strong and assertive. Seeing a female badass in a game like this is sort of rare (a problem in and of itself, but let’s move on). Still, as I played my first few hours I started to get this sinking feeling that Mass Effect wasn’t as progressive about women as I’d originally thought.

Basically, the “world” of Mass Effect brings nothing new or challenging to the table when it comes to sex and gender. The Mass Effect universe is stuck with the same, tired, hurtful stereotypes about women that are being pushed onto us currently by the media and our culture. Female characters in Mass Effect are either hyper-sexualized… or they don’t exist at all. The developers chose not to include female models for most of the races in the game. The reason? The art director/designers/developers don’t know how to render a female character of an alien race without gendering her as overtly and very female (We’re talking lipstick here). How uncreative and downright stupid is that?

Read this article by Alex Raymond over at GameCritics.com for a very good write up that hits all the points much better than I could have hoped to.

Further reading:
Designing non-human females (and how Mass Effect failed)

Game review: Grim Grimoire

Grim Grimoire is a cute and fun RTS (real-time stratregy) game released on PS2 in 2007 (Yeah, I tend to play games late). It is, above all else, a cute game. The character art is cute. The sprites are cute. The little imp units that maniacally laugh when you click on them are very, very cute. I love cute things, so I loved this game. If you’re one of those people who hate cute, don’t let me rambling prevent you from playing. There are lots of other great things about GrimGrim, too.

Firstly, make sure you change the voices to the original Japanese. I started the game using the English voices and I literally jumped from up from the couch to restart the game the moment I heard the main character’s voice. Like most English voice acting, it’s way too cheesy and fake-sounding.

I played the entire game on the easiest difficulty, so I couldn’t tell you if it’s a very hard game or not. I don’t really play video games for a challenge. It’s just not my thing. The gameplay is very fun. It’s a little bit clunkier to play an RTS using a PS2 controller instead of a mouse and keyboard, but you can pause any time you want so it’s not really an issue.

The best part about the game for me was probably the cut scenes. The story itself is interesting, but without giving too much away all I can really say is that it takes place at a “Hogwarty” school for apprentice magic-users. It also has an old and wizened head master named Gammel Drask in the Japanese version and, to my disgust, Gammel Dore in the English version (Why did they do that?). My only problem with the story at all was the ending, which was kind of.. bad.

Anyway, It’s worth playing if you like: real-time strategy games, 2d gameplay, fantasy settings, cute things.