Prophecy fulfilled: Major trans character not good enough for Polygon writer

Almost exactly one month ago I wrote an article asking, “Is there a way to bring trans characters into gaming without offending anyone? ” My hypothesis was a firm “no” and not because I thought a Kim Davis-type conservative would be opposed to a transgender video game character. Quite the opposite; I believed that no character could ever be good enough for the ‘Progressive Left’ and any included would inevitably fall short of their expectations. Polygon has now provided ample support that even if a character, a titular character, may be transgender, or something alien-equivalent, there is still ample room to shit upon the game for not properly handling the issue.

This all stems from Bungie’s latest expansion to Destiny called The Taken King. Lore from out-of-game sources reveal that the King, Oryx, was born a female and during a power-infusing ritual he transitioned to male. I have read various theories about whether this alien species can really be considered transgender or if it is their biology, but for the purpose of this discussion it does not particularly matter, because, as Polygon writer Laura Dale put it, “For now, even if it’s subtle, we can claim Oryx [as trans].”

Although Dale is quick to claim him, she’s also very ready to take issue with him.  The last half of her article is under the, “WE CAN’T PRAISE THIS AS A VICTORY FOR TRANSGENDER REPRESENTATION” header. Wait, what? One of the most important characters of a blockbuster game changes genders and you “claim” him for your cause, but this is not bringing the trans rights movement forward? It isn’t a success for sexual minorities and gender representation?

You can read Dale’s criticism below, pulled from her Polygon article:

It’s tragic that nobody knows Oryx is transgender. I hate that the first example of a transgender character in a titular role is hidden away so much that very few hardcore Destiny players know about it. It’s diversity relegated to the depths of a convoluted and complex set of out of game data logs. 

Author's image
Laura Dale

If we lived in a world without the Internet tools we enjoy today, maybe I would accept this as a valid criticism since information would be harder to disperse. As I already said myself last month, “depicting a transgender character presents a challenge. In such a visual medium gender identity cannot be explained so easily. In fact, just as in real life, you may not know someone identifies as a gender that differs from their biological or birth sex.” Bungie has not provided much in-game lore, which many fans have been disappointed with, but has actually provided resources for those who care. If anything, Oryx’s gender identity could be more of an easter egg.

destiny-oryxAnd where does the gaming press’s responsibility fall into this? Dale found out about the Taken King’s backstory and has a huge platform on which to share it: Polygon (or Destructoid). Gaming sites aren’t just for printing press releases breathlessly sent out by PR firms to sell games. They’re for exactly these sort of situations. To inform video game fans about information they may not know. A whole different narrative approach could have been taken with this article, one of discovery and appreciation. Instead there’s a bit of the latter mixed in with a surprising bitterness. A heaviness pervades the article, just because a character was not portrayed in a way which the author wanted.

Furthermore, would it not be awkward to have Oryx clearly stated as transgender (again, this may not be the best term to describe the situation, but we’re going with it) and then ask players to kill him?! Which is really more offensive? I think Bungie took the better route of relegating lore to its separate app, as it does with most of Destiny, instead of potentially causing a firestorm of outrage among these same writers who are complaining the villain’s gender identity is not given exposure in-game before you take up arms against him.

I just don’t see “Progressives” understanding how progress actually works. Life is a series of small victories and if you’re not willing to acknowledge any but the biggest of them, you may find that there aren’t too many victories to celebrate. So too in video game diversity.

As always I’m interested to hear others’ thoughts and comments about this issue.

Pokémon fans get a little MOBA lovin’

rayquazaThe 3D MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) SMITE has thrown a bone to fans of the Pokémon franchise in the form of a skin for Kukulkan, one of the playable mythological gods around whose combat the game is based. Of course, the developer Hi-Rez Studios won’t be officially acknowledging the resemblance of its newest store item to the legendary Pokémon Rayquaza, but it is a cute wink-wink nudge-nudge reference that toes the line of homage and copyright infringement. There’s even new audio for the Mayan wind serpent which includes such cheesiness as, “A wild Kukulkan has appeared!” Had Smite really had their head in the game though, they’d have designed it around the awesomely powerful Mega Rayquaza instead!

SMITE is free-to-pay for PC & Xbox One, so there aren’t many excuses not to at least give it a go! We’d also love to hear about what other cross game references you’ve enjoyed in the past!

Why the new Apple TV will not kill your Xbox or PlayStation

A report has recently appeared online that suggests Apple is going to reveal an all-new Apple TV at their event on September 8th, next week. It’s commonplace to find journalists predicting that “Product X will kill Product Y” close to their announcements and this new Apple TV is no different.

The suggestion that Apple’s new device can compete with (and possibly kill!) dedicated games consoles, is simply ludicrous. Even more ludicrous? That very same claim backed up with a mere run down of specs, features and possible scenarios of uses for the device.

The point is: an updated Apple TV simply cannot compete with the PlayStation 3 or the Xbox 360 (or even their successors.) Raw power, gimmick-loaded controllers that feature motion detecting sensors and Siri-laced experiences are simply not enough to pit the Apple TV—if it even happens—against the PlayStation and Xbox of yesteryear.

There’s no denying that the mobile gaming scene has grown tenfold year after year since the original iPhone launched. The mobile market is saturated with devices that allow individuals to play games almost anywhere imaginable and that is precisely how developers of mobile games design their games: to be playable on-the-go and to allow players to drop the game and pick it up again whenever the mood strikes them. Mobile gaming, for the most part, does not hold the same core of gamers as console gaming does. Console games are often developed with a “sit down and play” ethos, that is: 90% of the time gamers will indulge in gaming sessions that run for an hour or more. That isn’t to say that there aren’t any games on Android or iOS that are developed with longer play sessions in mind, that statement would be almost as absurd as claiming one single device can eradicate two long standing “competitors”.

The growth of mobile gaming shouldn’t be seen seen as the oncoming death of the console. Instead we should welcome it as the growth of the gaming industry as a whole. What works on a mobile game doesn’t necessarily work on a console game and this is where the Apple TV could make a difference. By acting not only as an alternative to both the console and mobile scenes the device

It has been seven years since Apple first unleashed Apple TV to the world. The streaming box of wonder (oh, if only) was launched in a time when the world of internet-powered television was a very, very different place. That fact alone is more than enough reason question Apple’s decision to deprive the device of any substantial updates over the last three years. The same can’t be said for almost every other Apple product that exists on the Apple Store today.

Sadly, the truth is the Apple TV has become somewhat of a joke. The device has become inferior when compared to other offerings in the market place, ones that can offer the same functionality for less. Consoles such as the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 existed primarily as gaming consoles, their entertainment features could be seen as side dishes that taste delicious. Apple needs to serve its dishes in the right order. First and foremost Apple TV should provide a way for users to get content from the internet or other devices to their television. Gaming should be served as a side dish, where Apple TV can shine as a cocktail blended from the experiences of both the mobile and console gaming.

Apple TV will never “kill” the offerings of Sony and Microsoft, that is an absurd statement. Instead the new device, if it actually exists, will serve as an alternative to the other options available to all of us. Another way to game. Offering the best of mobile gaming thanks to Apple’s account system and the best of console gaming thanks to the hardware it is said to offer.

Technology products offer a huge amount of variation, even within the smallest, most niche categories. It is foolish to believe that one product, designed for a market of specific individuals can provide for the needs and wants of all. It is impossible. The new Apple TV will be an option, one that many will choose and one that many will ignore.

End of the Month Reminders: June 2015

hearthstone-june-DarnassusSummer’s already flying by; we’re less than a week away from July already! While enjoying the sun you may have forgotten what you need to do before the end of this month in order to take full advantage of your time:

  • Hearthstone: The Darnassus card back for June 2015 must be earned by getting to at least Rank 20 by the end of this month! Not a particularly hard feat and the design is pretty nice for nature lovers
  • League of Legends: Want a free Champion to add to your roster? Who doesn’t?! All you have to do is connect your LoL account and Facebook (and no, it won’t post anything on your wall). Technically there’s no stated end date, but they’re sending the mystery champions to participants around July 1st, so I wouldn’t delay
  • PlayStation Plus: Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes (PS4), Skulls of the Shogun: Bone-A-Fide Edition (PS4), Super Exploding Zoo (PS4/PSV), Futuridium EP Deluxe (PS4/PSV), Call of Juarez: Gunslinger (PS3) and Cloudberry Kingdom (PS3) are all available this month free of charge for PS+ subscribers
  • Xbox Games with Gold: Massive Chalice (XB1), Pool Nation FX (XB1), and Thief (XB360) are all available until the end of this month for Xbox Live Gold subscribers. Just Cause 2 was also available this month for the Xbox 360, but only until the 15th
  • Xbox One: Don’t have an Xbox One? It might be a good time to buy if you like free games. You’re eligible to get one free (some restrictions apply) and they’re offering brand new games such as Witcher 3 and Batman: Arkham Knight

Have something else to share with the community? Post in the comments!

Forza Motorsport 6 will bring you rain… At 60 frames per second

Someone over at the Japanese division of Xbox seems to have hit the ‘GO!’ button a little to early on a fresh batch of Forza Motorsport 6 details. The site has since been taken down but that didn’t stop some eagle-eyed folks online grabbing the information and some screenshots.

27568158-4047-432d-96huskl

The game is boasted as being “as real as it gets” with over 450 drivable cars all at 1080p and 60 frames a second (or 1080px and 50fps if you take the direct mis-typed translation). The cutting-edge ForzaTech™ engine will power the game, delivering all-new wet weather mechanics, puddles (assuming meaning hydroplaning will become a hazard within the game) and night-time racing.

Other features include customisable cars with working cockpits, 26 world-famous locales including Daytone, Rio and many more, 2 player split-screen and up to 24 player races.

b910ca59-ed0d-45ca-95posiv

Fans can expect further details on the game at E3 this year.

Via: NeoGAF