Women in gaming

Assassin’s Creed: Unity, the version of AC coming to PS4, XBOX One, and PC next year, does not have any female characters in co-op because “they don’t have enough time.” The idea of women in gaming is not a new one. There is a dearth of games with dominant female protagonists (excluding games like Mass Effect that let you choose your character’s gender). Bayonetta, Lara Croft, ironically the AC IV DLC, an AC portable game, the various Metroids, and a handful of others I’m sure I’m forgetting. At least, I hope that isn’t it. (Bioshock Infinite, depending on how you consider Elizabeth, would also count.)

Now, on the whole, this doesn’t bother me. I am, shockingly, a white male, and most of the games are about me or people like me. I am okay with this. I would rather have well developed female characters than female characters tacked on for no reason. But for something as simple as character models? For a AAA game with nine studios working on it? “We don’t have the resources” is bullshit. I have to call you out on that one, Ubisoft.

A pretty slick museum

The wife and I went to the WWI Museum in KC on Sunday for Veteran’s Day. I’ll have some pictures up on Facebook soon, but it’s a pretty nifty museum, given that 1) the US’s role in the Entente Victory was fairly small and b) admission was free. It is definitely worth a look — you can see most everything in an hour or two, depending on how quickly you read — if you’re in the area. The current rotating exhibit is on Sports in World War I, which shows how much manlier baseball players were in those days. None of this fake “Yes, I was in World War II, but all I did was play baseball” crap. We do need more Ted Williamses (test pilot) and Bob Fellers (served as a Gun Captain), but look at Christy Mathewson, who actually got gassed during WWI.

Why don’t athletes today have so much patriotism?

A brief update

Haven’t posted in a while, so I thought I’d spend a few moments doing just that. I’ve recently discovered the Saints Row series (although sadly cannot play the first). It’s a much more arcadey version of Grand Theft Auto, but with a surprisingly poignant plot at times. It’s much less realistic (if you can call GTA realistic), and considerably more charming, in many areas. It’s worthwhile if you’ve got a few bucks hanging out, although I do feel like I’ve missed a lot by not playing the first one.

Other than that, not too much is going on.

The Penguatroll’s return!

I finished my last exam today. I haven’t submitted it yet — since it isn’t due until tomorrow, I’ll take a look at it then, make any appropriate edits and then send it in. Since I am largely done, however, I am announcing my return to the blog! I’ll have some reviews for everyone in the coming days for Force Unleashed (1), Dead Space, Dead Rising 2, and Smackdown vs RAW 2011.

I discovered The Office (US) while on my hiatus and am absolutely hooked. I always liked Steve Carrell on the Daily Show, but he’s brilliant as the oblivious boss who thinks he’s cool but he isn’t. Good stuff.

Obligatory Post

I haven’t posted for a while, so I figured I would today.

– I’ve mostly been goofing off, watching Netflix movies and playing Dragon Age obsessively. I’ve finished the game twice — there are four major endings, but I’ve selected my origin story so that a strategic save will let me get the last two endings with one more playthrough. If you have any questions about it, feel free to post: note that I only have two DLCs (the Stone Prisoner and Blood Dragon Armor) and don’t have the expansion yet (on the list of stuff to get when I get some money).

– On the scholastic front, started reading Alexander Gerschenkron’s book on Russian economic history. I’ll have to put together a historiography for one of my classes, so maybe I’ll start posting on these books as I get time; at least Kevin might care.

– Still looking for some summer income — if I get some, I’ll sign up for Gamefly. My first two titles will probably be Red Dead Redemption and Infamous. If you have any job ideas, post in the comments! (No spam, please).

Youth, Logic, and Why LeBron Might Leave Cleveland But I’m Strangely Unaffected By It

I begin this post with a preface: I do not follow the NBA. I love baseball and football, have a passing fancy for hockey, and will even watch college basketball if one of my alma maters is playing. Like every white kid growing up in the 80s and 90s, I wanted to be Larry Bird. My room at my old house still has posters of Larry Bird and Ken Griffey Jr. I seem to recall the latter poster being a free prize from a box of Frosted Flakes. Dominique Wilkens and Bo Jackson were also options, I think, but I went with Ken Griffey because baseball was (and is) my favorite sport. Also, his poster had flames on it. Yet I don’t like the modern NBA much. Even as a kid, I didn’t watch it. There’s one simple reason:

The first three quarters of any NBA game and most of the fourth quarter are completely meaningless. Scoring is so easy in pro basketball that once one team has a substantial lead (we’ll say 15+ points) the game is generally over, no matter what the clock says. The only really interesting games are close throughout, which means that you can just turn on the game in the fourth quarter and you’ll only have missed a couple of awesome dunks — that’s what SportsCenter is for anyway.

All that being said, I am a Cleveland sports fan. Logically, Cleveland’s best shot for a championship is the Cavaliers. That may not be true five years from now, but it’s true now. Recognizing that, when I did turn on Game Five of the playoffs between Boston and Cleveland, saw the differential was less than nine points, but that nobody on the Cavs was trying in the last five minutes, I immediately panicked. I knew we were doomed. LeBron would leave, the Cavs would suck again, and Cleveland would be championship-less, barring an Indians resurgence.

Yet, upon further reflection, I have reached a somewhat surprising position — I honestly don’t care if LeBron leaves.

Explaining this also requires a bit of a retreat to my childhood.

I was wildly inept at every athletic activity conceivable except baseball and floor hockey as a pre-teen. I played basketball for four years in a city recreational league. My teams usually did very well. I was not the reason; or rather, my skill was not decisive. My greatest ability was to recognize talent in others. I would then feed them the ball like Pac-Man, only they would score baskets and not eat the ball. I rarely took a shot if any one else was open — I knew that the chances of my making a shot approached zero — since I did make one basket in a game, I knew it wasn’t actually zero. Anything that happened once can happen again. If you can score baskets, hog the ball. If you can’t score baskets, you should pass it to someone who can. It’s better for the team that way.

When I learned this great truth, I knew I had achieved perfect Zen — if there was a victory, I took my small slice and quietly celebrated. If there was a loss, the chances I would be responsible were nearly zero. I was irreplaceable, not because I was good, but because my impact on the game would either be neutral or positive; you can’t say that about every player.

Now I return to my point on LeBron and the Cavs. Here is why I am largely ambivalent about LeBron’s decision: he will either increase the Cavs’ chances of a championship or they will be the same as they are now. His impact will either be positive (staying with the Cavs) or neutral (going somewhere else).

Why? Because LeBron can’t really affect any other team’s championship changes (except one), because as the Cavs have proven, just LeBron isn’t enough. Thus, my catharsis.

There are roughly six destinations: Cleveland, Knicks, Bulls, Nets, Heat, and possibly the Clippers.

The Knicks are not one player away. Yes, he’d play in New York, but New Yorkers only like winners, so there’s no guarantees that he’d be as popular in say, five years, as he is now. If it were strictly about cash, I’d be somewhat worried, but I don’t think it is.

He might be able to win championships in Chicago. In fact, his chances there are probably better than his chances here. However, he would NEVER touch Jordan in that city — he’d always be second best. If he cares mostly about his legacy, Chicago is a bad choice because he can’t leave as big a footprint there as he could elsewhere.

The Heat and Nets leave him worse off in terms of championship likelihood and legacy. I cannot see the Heat making Dwayne Wade and LeBron play nice together. Two massive egos simply cannot get along on the same basketball team — the locker rooms don’t have enough people. The Nets have a decent nucleus, but they won 12 games last year. 12! LeBron couldn’t make that much of an impact.

The Clippers would probably end up being career suicide for him — I think LeBron being on the Clippers would probably just enrage Kobe Bryant more than he already is.

If he stays in Cleveland, he’ll get respect and a team that was really very close but not entirely successful — a good position to be in. He’s practically untouchable because he’s a local boy — people only freak out about his performance in Cleveland because he might leave.

Only three destinations really make sense, and it depends on what he cares about most. If it’s legacy and impact on a city, it’s Cleveland. If it’s money, the Knicks. If it’s championships, the Bulls. The only thing he could possibly do to make me hate him is for him to switch sports and then play for the Yankees, Steelers, or Ravens. As long as he stays in the NBA, he either wins a title with the Cavs (positive impact on the city) or he doesn’t (neutral impact on the city). We expect our teams to lose, in our heart of hearts, we just haven’t abandoned ourselves to it like Cubs fans. We mock Bills fans for losing the Super Bowl four times — yet we desperately wish the Browns would get there once. If LeBron left the Cavs, the city would probably just stop caring about the Cavs.

Honestly, he’s done way better than my expectations — I predicted he’d either be a huge bust or get hit by a bus. Neither of these have happened, so it’s all good from here.

A life lesson from the Lady Penguatroll

I was finishing up a game of NFL Head Coach 09, when my fiancee woke up and sat down on the couch. She was mesmerized by the fact nothing was actually going on (I was doing supersim), and yet I still seemed to be enjoying myself. She looked at me, incredulously, and said “This is fun for you?!” I responded that it was, because it was seeing something I created succeeded. Now I know the real reason I like it so much: if I fail, it’s the players’ fault, but if I succeed, it’s my brilliant decision making, play designing, and roster building. Sometimes, it’s good to be the boss. (Plus, with more position coaches, I can target blame with greater precision!)