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Eurogamer: Changes of perspective are vital to representation in games


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https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2019-01-30-changes-of-perspective-are-vital-to-representation-in-games

 

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Games, role-playing games in particular, have created this interesting conundrum in which most of the things you do will turn out to your advantage somehow. I advance through the world. I give people reason to like me or to fear me, whatever I enjoy best, and both options work out for my character equally well.

 

These games want to make you their hero. You're supposed to have an empowering experience, punishing you for any action seems counterproductive. Having diverse heroes in such games is often especially great because people of certain backgrounds rarely see themselves depicted as heroes. It's one of the reasons playing Kassandra from Assassin's Creed Odyssey can feel so liberating - if you decide to play her as a lesbian, you don't only get to control a powerful female warrior, you also get to act as someone who is unapologetic about her preferences and gets to have the odd fun romp instead of having to fear public opinion.

 

So being a hero is fun and games, literally, because even as the challenge increases, so does your power. I absolutely want more people to experience being powerful through representation, as there are many races, identities and body types entirely unrepresented in games as of yet. I want to believe we're steadily getting there. 

 

Continued

 

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I've always said that if I was a woman, I'd be a lesbian.

 

Kassandra and Fem Shep are my fav. Oh and the Inquisitor. I lezzed the shit out of her too.

 

I know that probably isn't the point the author is trying to make, but hey, I support you, lesbians!

 

Edit: Haven't taken Kassandra to Lesbos yet. I better not be disappointed.

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I don't disagree with the author in their desire for more nuanced minority perspectives in video games, but I think it's very much a generalized deficiency.  She writes "I became concerned with all those experiences minorities face that don't make us feel powerful at all, and how I wished for games to represent these aspects of my life as well." At the moment, I'd argue that those aren't things many games explore from any perspective, it's simply not something most games try to tackle, regardless of your gender, sexuality, religion, or race.

 

Games are primarily entertainment, and RPGs in particular tend to be power fantasies. Evoking powerlessness in games is often frustrating and off putting. Still, we've seen more of these emotions explored with the rise of walking simulators and the like, and the overall expansion of indie games. I think games have a unique power to create empathy, but audiences have to warm up to the idea of buying games for that purpose.

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I'll be completely honest. I was intrigued the entire time I played Gone Home. Everyone told me what a powerful story it was. By the time I finished it I felt like it was such a colossal waste of my time, and the mystery around the story was far more interesting than what actually happened. I felt like the game got free points just for its subject matter, because honestly that story sucked.

 

I am all for playing games from the perspective of all types of characters, about all kinds of subject matter, but they do have to be good. I'm not giving a free ride just because your character is a gay Jewish black dude.

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