Be sure to follow my 30-Day Drawing Challenge to see my progress.
I have been playing an insane amount of Call of Duty: Black Ops on Xbox Live recently. I thought about how frustrated I was in the beginning that it was nothing like the previous installments, perhaps due to the period of acclamation for the maps or the new sniping tweaks they made. After playing for several hours, I began to see exactly how the changes affected game play, and I realized that there are far less snipers this time around than there were in previous installments. I use my sniper rifle far less in preference to one of several assault rifles.
I play Team Deathmatch the most of any game mode. In previous games, you usually had a team of very talented individuals, all using their own combination of weapons and perks. This was mainly a comfort issue, but also due to the overpowered sniping rifles. They were overpowered in a physical sense (quick-scoping, no scoping, firing at the hip) and in a meta-aesthetic sense (maps were fringed, thus allowing a sniper to cover all flanks and focus on shooting). In Black Ops, both of these issues weren’t just fixed…they were completely obliterated. I feel it was overkill, but I realize what great opportunity this is for actual team-based tactics. Also, it is much more balanced for (dare I say!?) n00bs.
Only in Hardcore Team Deathmatch do people actually chatter, but it’s almost always hindsight (“Whoa, watch that south corner, camper crouched in the table”). Black Ops now offers a more unified approach to team-based tactics. It cultivates true tactics and teamwork. So, I made a list of great Create a Class combinations to use. However, keep in mind that each team must try to have at least one of each of these loadouts. Of course, I draw inspiration from the greatest tactical strategy game of all time: chess. (more…)
I decided to let nostalgia take the reigns and I dug up some old assignments from college and high school. This turbid look into my old self will hopefully motivate me to continue changing, hopefully for the better.
Class: Video Games and Virtual Identity, April 14th, 2009
The classic Nintendo game Metroid features a lead heroine by the name of Samus. In the original game, the heroine is only revealed as a woman after beating the game. The player may or may not know the character is a female until that time. Although many video games that feature a female protagonist are often ridiculed for being sexist, anti-feminist, or fetishized, the premise behind making Samus a woman is to surprise the player at the end of the game. This strategy may have worked for the original Metroid, but later installments required more of a play on her femininity in the midst of alien insurgence. Metroid shows a female protagonist challenging audience assumptions of gender roles in video games, as well as how the evolution of a character’s development in a series could help perpetuate gender stereotypes, or perhaps defeat them.
The game begins with Samus standing at the base level, just released from her ship. Garbed in a full-body space suit, she is able to move either to the right or the left of the stage. A single-fire plasma gun occupies an entire arm, while the other arm is free-moving. The suit is metallic orange/yellow, interpreted as bronze, copper, or gold plating. The helmet is a dark red with a bright green visor. The detailing in the suit is a darker green. By all intent, the character could very well be a robot or some sort of cyborg. There is no indication that the character is a woman.
The abilities Samus has to begin the game are limited. It is only through a series of discovering the various power-ups throughout the game that she can obtain all of her original abilities. The first ability she acquires is fire power for her arm-mounted canon. She can primitively jump and shoot from the beginning of the game. She can also duck and roll into a small ball, thus traversing through tight quarters. This, perhaps, is the first sentiment of femininity in the game: acrobatics and evasion take equal importance with shooting and dexterity. Several sequences in the game require the player to take speed over perfection. In other words, the player must sacrifice killing all of the aliens in order to escape the rising lava pit. The game was released in 1986, in the midst of an arcade-esque pique in video games, but does not rely on score. Instead, this game is clearly about the narrative of the main character, who, until the very end, has no clear motive or history.
Obviously the character cannot be kept a secret any longer. Later installments of the Metroid franchise had to reveal Samus as a female from the beginning. Super Metroid, the sequel to the first game on the Super Nintendo, expanded upon the suit detailing of Samus. The hips became a little wider, as well as her chest; however, the model could still be interpreted as a man. For example, the shoulders were drastically enlarged, and the details were akin to a more sci-fi appeal (hoses for oxygen, LED lighting, etc.). The true mark of feminism in Samus came from the game’s end. Instead of destroying the Metroid, Samus took it into her care with feelings of motherhood. The Metroid, however, is a parasitic alien species.
Later installments of the series pushed Samus into the 3D realm. This is where the creators really fleshed-out Samus’ role as a woman. The perspective became first-person instead of third-person. The player now saw Samus’ reflection in the green visor of the helmet. The hands were also visible at times, showing explicit femininity. Her voice is heard for the first time in the Gamecube series as well. Whenever she is hurt or regains health, there are distinct gasps of a woman’s voice. The Metroid Prime games were geared toward Samus’ role as a vulnerable space pirate placed in the most dangerous parts of the galaxy. This vulnerability is also an attempt to expand upon her femininity.
Although many video games portraying a female as the protagonist could be interpreted as sexist or fetishized, Samus from Metroid exhibits the kind of heroine that most feminists could admire. The premise behind the original Metroid played with the assumptions of the audience and possibly caused some people to reflect upon why they assumed the main character was a male and not a female. Later installments of the series possibly took the image of Samus back from the original vagueness of the character. However, each new game reveals a new, slightly different approach to femininity and character development.