Thursday, May 20, 2010

sweet dreams that leave all worries behind you

Taborea. Varanas. Evening wanes, dusk has long since fallen.

I have a month to do several different things, so as usual, whenever I get a free moment I sit on the floor of my house in Varanas, frantically studying cooking while rearranging things in personal storage and discussing the option of hiring a housekeeper with my French maid.

(It's Taborea. Apparently fantasy goes overboard on occasion.)

We'd had no luck for two days--maybe it's just me, but I have a problem interviewing row after row of pink-haired barrel-chested elves, wide, squat and arrogant (though I admit, I did like the one with ring-toss hair)--so in desperation, I hired the first housekeeper that looked vaguely like she could help me. She was due in sometime today, and both of us expected her to show up at any moment, but...neither of us expected Natasha had subversive motives.

Natasha Bening whispers... Hmm. Need servicing?

I beg your pardon. The hell?

She merely stared at me, as I sat cross-legged on the mostly bare floor.

If Master thinks I've done something wrong, he could always punish me...

Whoa, there, missy, I just met you. Plus, I'm not a guy. Plus...wait, what was that about punishing you again?

Well, I want to learn about Master's other "interests"...and eagerly await his "instructions"...

I think I "understand" what you're trying to "imply", doll. Suddenly I'm suspecting my two hundred thousand was paid to someone who's used to managing an entirely different kind of House...

(These are all direct quotes from either initial entrance conversation (the question about "servicing") or later "Chat" options from her menu. I'm not making any of this up.)

Then she tossed me a couple packages of food and said she was tired. I'm so confused. I've somehow managed to hire a submissive with a sex drive. All I wanted was someone to help with the cooking!

There's been some serious study going into why we like the women we like (as men, and as women) in video games, and there's a lass out there who even turned in her thesis on the topic. It is well worth the read, whether or not you've ever played Team Fortress 2, but if you have played it, it's phenomenal.

Let me state openly that I like Team Fortress 2, as it is. It is perfectly depicted, seamlessly integrated as its own internal structure--you play one of several different stereotypical male killing machines, and your sole objective, presented in several fun ways, is to capture the flag, essentially. More blood and mayhem than is usually involved in the real-world capture version, but it's a video game, it's allowable.

Up until recently, you had your choice of playing this or that guy, red or blue, period. And that was fine, that was enough. Women were playing this as much as men, it was all good fun, right?

But of late, several different forces have converged, asking: why aren't there women in the game?

And there are a lot of different answers, from the somewhat realistic to the seriously surreal. Some of these mods would be damned near unplayable, in my opinion (though yes, in the darkest, most damaged part of my heart, I do yearn for a twee kawaii little Japanese lolita, who would spin in petticoats and wave a sparkly wrench...and use the Engineer's voice pack to incur braindrop at ten paces).

While you've still got the thesis window open--or even if you didn't bother to read it--click over to the second page, and the brief bit on the Mirror's Edge character.

This was a video game where the main character was designed by men, yes, but designed to fit in to her game's universe. She is profoundly not made of boobs and guns.

The thing about Faith--the lass in Mirror's Edge--is that she was distinctive. She looked Asian, not Asian-drawn-with-Western-hair-and-frame. She had sharp features, distinctive tattoos, shag-cut hair that looked natural, clothing that wasn't bought at Sexpots R Us. So what was the problem?

An early reviewer of the game posted this revision to the cover art. He said it was a more "appealing" vision of Asian beauty. All of Faith's aggression, toned down--into near fear, if we can read that much into pixels. Her street edge, the makeup around her eyes--blurred into fluttery dark lashes. Her lips glossed, and parted not in exertion or anger, but apparent surprise. Her shag-cut hair changed in color, and morphed into a perky bob.

And she went up from an athletic A cup to at least a C--if not larger for her frame--with enhanced nipples.

The lead designer found all this depressing as hell, and so do I. Because that is the other side of the female game character coin--sure, most women won't respond to characters that are little more than sex on legs with added weaponry--but when they do find real, honestly depicted women, the rest of the gaming community wants to edit that reality away, and bring things back to the big-boobed, brainless bimbo arena. I realize that on some level, it comes back to safety and control--and maybe breastfeeding--but seriously, guys. You want your girlfriends to play, you cannot invite her over to try out the new 'nude levels' on your favorite game.

Unless she's bi.

And even then, I can virtually guarantee, she wants a character that does more than giggle and jiggle, trust me.

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