From the Archives: Let’s Go Round Again

What do you think of lengthy games such as JRPGs (or indeed Western RPGs) having multiple endings?

I remember having this discussion with a friend a while back, and he commented that he hated it when there was more than one possible outcome to the story, because he 1) hated having to repeat things and 2) hated feeling like he was “missing out” on part of the game that was “locked off” to him when he started down a particular route.

Obviously this applies more to games where your actions throughout the whole story determine which ending you get rather than a Mass Effect 3-style “which ending would you like?” decision point, but it’s a valid concern that I completely understand in this day and age. Gamers on the whole are getting older and consequently tend to have less time on their hands for lengthy games anyway – so to expect them to play through one game several times in an attempt to see different endings is perhaps unrealistic on the part of developers.

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2013 as part of the site’s regular Swords and Zippers column on JRPGs. It has been edited and republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

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13 Reasons Why the Games Industry Needs to Stop Idolising Anita Sarkeesian

Although self-described feminist pop culture critic Anita Sarkeesian has abandoned her Tropes vs Women in Video Games project, she hasn’t stopped exerting her influence over an apparently enthralled games industry.

Writing on May 19, 2017, James Batchelor of industry publication Gamesindustry.biz reported on Sarkeesian’s speech at the 2017 Nordic Game conference, an annual event that describes itself as “the leading games conference in Europe”.

Sarkeesian’s 45-minute speech was called “Diversity is Not a Checklist”, and, broadly speaking, was an exhortation to the industry to better represent the diversity of its audience through playable characters, and to tell stories that “recognise the systemic oppression” that women and “people of colour” face.

Not, in itself, a bad topic to explore — though as we’ll discuss in a moment, it disregards one of the key reasons many people turn to video games as entertainment and represents just a single perspective. The main problem is, as with much of Sarkeesian’s previous work, her lack of knowledge and awareness regarding the industry outside the most high-profile parts of the Western triple-A and “in-crowd” indie spheres undermines a great many of her arguments. And, unsurprisingly, Batchelor does not take the opportunity to analyse her remarks in his report, instead simply parroting them uncritically.

Enough is enough. It’s time the industry stopped hanging on Anita Sarkeesian’s every word — or at least started thinking about the things she is saying a little more critically, and researching her claims rather than accepting them at face value. Here are 13 reasons why.

Continue reading 13 Reasons Why the Games Industry Needs to Stop Idolising Anita Sarkeesian

From the Archives: Our Changing Attitudes to Interactive Storytelling

As I write this, I have beside me a copy of the October 1997 issue of PC Zone, a then-popular, now sadly defunct PC games magazine from my homeland of the UK.

I keep this magazine around for two reasons: firstly, the walkthrough of Discworld II on page 145 was written by none other than a teenage yours truly, earned me what felt like a small fortune when I was in secondary school, and represented one of the earliest occasions on which words I had written appeared on national newsstands; and secondly, I simply enjoy looking back on old magazines and seeing how much the games industry and its members’ attitudes have changed over the years.

It’s this second point that I particularly want to explore today.

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2013 as part of the site’s regular READ.ME column on visual novels. It has been edited and republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

Continue reading From the Archives: Our Changing Attitudes to Interactive Storytelling

MeiQ: Building a Better Dungeon

A good dungeon crawler has two aspects it has to nail in order to be successful: combat and exploration.

Japanese takes on the genre often tend to incorporate a strong sense of narrative and characterisation to the experience, too — and certainly MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death is no exception to this — but at its core, a dungeon crawler is about 1) navigating your way through a series of increasingly complicated mazes, and 2) kicking the snot out of any monsters who appear to block your path.

We’ve already talked about MeiQ’s interesting and unconventional combat, progression and equipment mechanics. So now let’s take a closer look at its approach to dungeon design.

Continue reading MeiQ: Building a Better Dungeon

Some Thoughts on Localisation

Localisation is, it seems, a somewhat thorny issue these days — but it’s one worth discussing.

Before I begin today, I’d like to emphasise that by no means am I attempting to present a “definitive” opinion here. By its very nature, this is a topic that is highly subjective and a matter of opinion, and that means you may not agree with my views. And that is, of course, fine; all I’m attempting to do here is to highlight one possible perspective and provide some food for thought on a complex issue with no “right” answers.

Preamble over and done with, then; let’s talk about localisation, beginning with a little personal context that may go some distance towards explaining why I feel the way I do about all this.

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Happy Birthday, Asami Imai

Today, March 16, is the birthday of Japanese voice actress Asami Imai, one of the most distinctive, recognisable voices in modern Japanese entertainment.

Since her debut in 1999, she has racked up an impressive number of roles to her name across a variety of different media. Among enthusiasts of Japanese gaming, she’s probably best known for her roles as Noire in the Neptunia series, Makise Kurisu in the Steins;Gate visual novels, and Ikaruga in the Senran Kagura series.

She’s had an interesting career, for sure — so let’s take a look at it!

Continue reading Happy Birthday, Asami Imai

From the Archives: Drawing the Line

Any dedicated JRPG fan will know what an uphill struggle it is to get people who have found themselves drifting away from the genre to actually play one of your favorite games.

All too often, people are keen to dismiss the whole genre as “Japanese bullshit” at best, depraved disgusting sexist paedophilic misogynist nonsense at worst.

Ever-determined and ever-optimistic, I took to a Google+ community (Editor’s Note: I know, I know, this ages this article a bit) I’m a member of that represents a small but diverse cross-section of gamers from all across the world, covering a broad spectrum of ages, experience levels and tastes, and I posed them a question. You can read an archive of the whole thread here if you like, but I’ll summarize my findings below.

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2013 as part of the site’s regular Swords and Zippers column on JRPGs. It has been edited and republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

Continue reading From the Archives: Drawing the Line

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