Game Hands

Breaking the Narrative Episode 3: 1999-2006, Entering the “Silver Age of Gaming”

Recap time, so far we’ve gone through the equivalent of the Golden Age of comics within video games. Now for the Silver Age equivalent. This is the era which led to what could be considered the current status quo for gaming. This time around we have four systems to touch on. Start with Sega, going out on the Dreamcast then helping lead to Microsoft’s XBOX Classic, the PlayStation 2, arguably becoming the most successful console of all time, then finally the Nintendo Gamecube, by far the most underestimated console of all time.

To begin this we shall go towards a game series that was started on the Playstation as Soul Edge/Blade but wasn’t popularized until it hit the Dreamcast as Soul Calibur. In Rantzerker 61, Ivy and Brunhilde were, of course, hit upon, so we won’t go in depth with them here. Instead, we’ll touch on the long history of strong characters in this era from the game. Taki the kunoichi wasn’t really sexualized nor were Sophitia, SeongMi-Na or Xianghua. Some would suggest their costumes state otherwise. However, they did hold some precedence for the renaissance era they are based in. On top of that, none of the women in that series ever needs a savior. They are more than open to getting hurt or even killed for their objectives, a journey each one has taken out of their own agency. (Source: http://soulcalibur.wikia.com/wiki/Category:Characters)

Now as we shift harder into the Playstation area, why don’t we stick with Namco games, perhaps Xenosaga? This is a very well marketed trilogy that is loosely based on the Square Enix classic Xenogears. In this series, the two prime characters are Shion Uzuki and the anti-Gnosis battle android she developed named KOS-MOS. Not only are both characters not meant to be seen as sexual beings but are both strong and independent beings with complete agency in the series. They make their own decisions constantly all the way to deciding how they dress, how they present themselves and even take command at particular points. That’s if you just restrict it to them, which would be foolish for our purposes. There are quite a few pages of good female characters from this series….and maybe one or two from other series as well, but that’s neither here nor there. (Source: http://xenosaga.wikia.com/wiki/Category:Female_characters?display=exhibition&sort=mostvisited)

Now we shall shift to XBOX for a bit….technically PC, too, considering. I know we haven’t touched much on PC games yet but only because I’m trying to keep these lists at somewhat reasonable levels. Unlike our self-proclaimed critic, I don’t need to cherry-pick. I’m just sticking to five sets for each part because I don’t want to write a book of all the examples throughout gaming… yet. Here we’ll have a licensed game series; Star Wars:Knights of the Old Republic. Yes, you can choose between male and female characters but the only “canon” female lead is in the second of the two games.  But that doesn’t mean there is any shortage of strong women in those games: Bastila Shan, Juhani, Mission,  Mira, Brianna the Handmaiden, Visas Marr, as well as Kreia, Kreia being one of the most powerful older women ever in gaming. This is not a spoiler, as its early in her game, but any woman who loses her left hand and keeps dropping bodies is pretty damn tough. (Source: Original games – Family Steam account is HeckticAngel)

Now we’ll touch upon a Gamecube game with Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem, a game whose main developer Denis Dyack has been demonized by the past few years by the social justice fools for not being lockstep with them and being truly progressive with women instead of ‘feminist progressive.’ This dedication to honest depictions of women can be seen even back in the early 2000s specifically within this game. The prime character is Alexandra Roivas, a student of advanced mathematics in the year 2000. What feminists have been bitching for the entire time, they attack when they see it. Then there is Ellia, an escaped Cambodian slave girl. She’s not enslaved by those evil white people mind you, but by her own king. Its almost like slavery has nothing to do with ‘race’.  She searches a temple and ends up keeping her consciousness after being made undead by an elder god, so also pretty damn strong both physically and mentally. (Source: http://eternaldarkness.wikia.com/wiki/Eternal_Darkness_Wiki)

How are we going to finish this era up?  By delving into a series that started last era but gained its footing and showed how to build games right: Metal Gear Solid. Funny thing is the dev of the previous game made a port for the Gamecube of the first game, showing characters like Meryl Silverburg who was raised to be tough and Sniper Wolf who is a cold-hearted killer with an eagle’s eye. This is expanded more in the sequels/prequels. First we have Olga Gurlukovich, who you first met fighting Snake while pregnant then running her father’s outfit after his death. There’s Fortune, who is an unstoppable Queen to her unit. Then going into Snake Eater we have the double agent EVA, who can do crazy motorcycle tricks while sweep shooting with a Mauser, Para-Medic who helps advise you on setting your own broken bones throughout the game, then last, but not least: The Boss. The Boss also known as The Joy is as previously mentioned in Rantzerker 61 the penultimate female character. Most of the time her suit is zipped up. She dismantles guns in seconds and developed the Close Quarters Combat system used in the game, being considered the mother of the US Special Forces. She even gave birth on the battlefield and is the final boss of the game. (Source: http://metalgear.wikia.com/wiki/Category:Female)

Now as for game developers, this time around we have Amy Jo Kim, CEO of Shufflebrain and developer of game classics from this era such as Rock Band and The Sims. I don’t know of a single gamer from this era who hasn’t played these games at least once. Still, she is also an adjunct professor at USC, so she might be teaching some of the bullshit. We also have Bonnie Ross who started at Bungie helping in the development of Halo. Then in 2007, starting our next era of study, she started 343 Industries as its general manager and a VP in Microsoft’s Games Division, taking on the full development responsibilities for one of gaming’s cornerstone series from Bungie. Gee we just keep finding these strong female leads in game development don’t we? Its almost as if two of the Literally Whos are just that – literally who are these people and why should they matter? Zoe Quinn and Brianna Wu have absolutely nothing on any of the women we’ve mentioned as developers from these nearly 30 years of game development. They have no excuse for their crappy game designs whatsoever. (Source: http://fortune.com/2014/09/23/10-powerful-women-video-games/)

Starting in 2012 Sarkeesian and McIntosh began developing this narrative of sexism in gaming, making it sound like the industry we love so much hates women categorically.  Now here we are not even a full month into this series and we’ve all but incinerated the idea that we have a problem with sexism.  If anything, gaming is one thing that actually contributes to empowering others by helping people comprehend their agency, improve various skills, and encourage productivity. Feminism does the exact opposite. This is why they want to overtake the medium, why they want to destroy it, change it and remove its power, because video games do help us in the long run as an art form and as entertainment. We simply need to play these games with our children to ensure they understand what they are playing.

As always please add anything else you find in the comments and help ensure we finally end this negative view of video games once and for all. We ended it with Thompson and if we end it now with Sarkeesian we will hopefully never have to deal with it again.
Next time around we will take a short break from history to touch upon something relevant to today: Virtues and virtue signaling.

Also, please Game Freely.

Alex Tinsley
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Alex Tinsley

A student of Fine Arts and Japanese culture of six years at Murray State University. Having never graduated due to difficulties with a specific teacher has gained a unique perspective upon the issues being faced by men and boys. A father of a young boy and loving husband.
Alex Tinsley
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Alex Tinsley

A student of Fine Arts and Japanese culture of six years at Murray State University. Having never graduated due to difficulties with a specific teacher has gained a unique perspective upon the issues being faced by men and boys. A father of a young boy and loving husband.