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Backloggers Anonymous Mirror's Edge Part 1

We also talk about *gulp* gender issues...

Yeah, that's right, we went there. It's hard not to, really, what with the current drama unfolding around Dragon's Crown, the Tropes Vs. Women videos, and what's in Lightning's bra. We handled it as well as 3 dudes on a video game podcast could, I think, but it would be fantastic if we could get some civil discussion going in the comments. We could have a great follow up when we get to our conclusion episode.

no kidding

Also, thanks to the PixlBit community for picking this one. It's certainly going to be a fun game to discuss, and with the recent announcement of a reboot / sequel, it's a very relevant subject too.

Like I said in the show, we really want to hear your feedback, and since you've selected it, I'm expecting a lot of comments - so have at it! Chris won't be looking at them so feel free to spoil stuff, just put an appropriate warning up for others who haven't played the game yet.

And for those who are curious, the blog Chris references can be found here.


 

Comments

Michael117

08/19/2013 at 08:07 PM

It's possible to play through without using guns like Julian did, but it's really difficult, not very fun, and the game isn't made well for it. Many if not most of the encounters and levels are designed as such that getting through an area without direct confrontation as well as without weapons is impossible or reliant on luck and brute force retrying. Getting into hand to hand combat is necessary at some point in pretty much every level I can remember, and although it's possible to not use weapons throughout the game the encounters aren't designed for it, it's simply a technicality that you can. It's been a long time and I'm sure there's been plenty of post-op and brainstorming on the team by now I'd suspect, so I hope that they cooked up a lot of ideas to make Mirror's Edge 2's levels and encounters to be designed for the various playstyles. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they will appreciate and provide non-lethal mechanics in ME2 and even some non-confrontational gameplay so that I'm not being forced into karate too often that it becomes stale, but at the same time I'm slightly worried and hoping the next Mirror's Edge game doesn't turn out to be the Splinter Cell Conviction of the Mirror's Edge games.

I'm not going to say I'm a feminist because in the current gaming climate it seems like white knighting, but feminists and myself are on the same page in many ways if not most. I've seen the tropes vs. women in games videos Anita has produced so far and I don't really get where all the rage against her comes from. She received a lot of money and it doesn't seem like she's put it to as good of use as she could, and some of her observations and critical thinking are only skin deep on some games, but I honestly don't see why people hate her so much. People complain that she disables comments, the fact is most people don't have to deal with regular death and rape threats and harassment like she's become a lightning rod for. Online harassment and hate speech is a problem and people shouldn't have to "just deal with it, it's da internet bro." Most humans are quite sensitive and can't sustain a life, work, or project that opens them up to that kind of treatment. Disagreeing with her is fine, but there seems to be very little of that going on in the gaming world, many people are either putting their heads in the sand to avoid it, or they're flinging hate speech (which I don't consider disagreement, it's more just psychotic), or they're white-knighting her and coming across pretentious.

Now that we've seen women in games become a front page topic across gaming sites for months now and all the debates and rage that come along with it, I think she had a lot of guts diving right into this topic in this kind of environment. It's clear very few people actually wanted to talk about women in games, and once it started gaining traction people either swelled with rage, hid away hoping for it to pass, or occasionally very few people have even made good discussions and arguments about it. Some of the arguments I've seen against Anita from men seem to boil down to, "HEY NOW, I'M A MALE AND WOMEN HAVE BEEN ASSHOLES TO ME BEFORE, AND IN GENERAL MY LIFE HASN'T ALWAYS BEEN PEACHY, SO THEREFORE FEMINISM IS BULLSHIT! ANITA IS FULL OF SHIT AND I CAN'T STAND ALL THIS!" Reading some of the counter-arguments has been more like a sad window into lives of some angry men. It's quite a mess on all sides. That's why I feel sympathy for her, people forget she's a human being, they just she her as a symbol and she becomes a lightning rod for hate and treatment that respectable people would never exhibit in a face to face setting. I'm not sure she knew what she was biting off when she came to the women in games dinner table, and it's possible all that hate and harassment could affect the quality of her analysis and her overall disposition towards the topics, that's another part that makes me sad about this whole thing. She isn't perfect and she's not supposed to be, ever since the beginning her arguments have sometimes been thin and her focus on the negative representations instead of a more balanced show hasn't been great, but the net might have only served to poison her and make her more down on this whole project.

Part of my disappointment in her work has been at the skin-deep analysis she's offered to some of the games she covers. When she covers games it's more like a lightning round and she blankets a lot of games with criticisms that aren't always well wrought. Her production is good, she's good in front of the camera, she speaks clearly, her tone is cool headed and calm, it's only the arguments that can get thin at times. I've seen feminazis before and she doesn't come across as one, it's possible she had a feminazi women's studies professor in school, but Anita herself seems much more approachable than actual feminazis. She'll bring up points about the tropes, but in the end she brings up the fact she doesn't think her suggestions should be law and she doesn't think that developers are out to stage an anti-women conspiracy, by simply watching the videos you can tell she's not crazy, she just thinks people don't often think enough about the stories they write, and don't see them from diverse points of view. Which is all true. When I watched her videos I knew well that they had a focus on the representation of women in gaming, but in the end the videos made me think in general about the poor writing in video game stories and the need for more diversity of portrayals and new ideas. I have yet to really be offended or upset by any of her stuff yet. It's not perfect and she's not the person I'd prefer to be the face of these issues, but her work has made me think about storytelling in general.

Vice's Assistant

08/19/2013 at 09:27 PM

This my first BA I've ever listened to and I really like it. I've always wanted to play Mirror's Edge because I love the demo. Hell, I remember I really good LPB level that people made that mimic the demo really well before it got pulled. I guess I got caught up with fighting games to even give the game a shot. Considering how few fighters are out this year its a perfect oppourity to give it a try.

Going off topic abit to Sarkeesian, I understand why the quote would make rangergirl mad. Most of my female friends on PSN I met in some fighting game which is hard genre to get into for anyone. Many of them play on a high tier. So the idea that making a game easier would attract more of a female demographic is really bewildering. Its like those "girl" theme Lego sets: why can't a girl just play with normal Legos? Making them pink doesn't make them more attractive to girls. I haven't watched any Sarkeesian's videos but I do read a lot of about gender problems in video games. I like learning about things like that and part of that comes from the fact that my major in college focused a lot on that. I'm not a perfect person, and like you guys said nothing will ever be perfect, but I do think we need to stop pulling from the same tropes over and over again with minor degrees of differences. Besides belitting people, we're not evolving the median beyond what's known. I hope I'm not sounding white knight-ish (and sorry if I am, I'm kind of in a rush before I go to work!) and sorry for going off track. Again this was a really good episode and I can't wait for the next one, hopefully with some actual playthrough thoughts!

Super Step Contributing Writer

08/20/2013 at 06:30 AM

I can dig what was being said about feeling a bit on the sidelines and in a gray area with some of these feminism issues. A lot of women have a mentality somewhat closer to men about this stuff, even if it's not necessarily the norm. 

 

For instance, I can see why people are put off by the body types in Dragon's Crown, but I've talked with females on Pixlbit that don't mind the big ol' titties at all (and in fact are lesbian or bisexual and kinda like 'em) and in my case, I just think it looks ridiculous and maybe even juvenille, but so do some of the male models in the game. 

 

Where I think I can be a little more easily persuaded to take a side is when the gaming culture takes a bad turn in real life, like the "fake girl gamer" crap that happened at a con recently, where females got that label slapped on them literally, and sometimes in personal places. I'm a lot more comfortable saying that's definitely harassment than I am saying a depiction of an impossibly endowed woman is part of a larger conspiracy to enslave every mammal with a vagina. And yet, having just made that hyperbolic straw-man like the asshole I am, I can understand that more realistic and strong depictions of females like Faith in games is certainly a good thing, and can certainly understand oversexualization of females in media as a legitimate problem for female gamers.

 

I do wish the female bloggers would comment on the topic more; in fact, the specific reason I usually (usually) refrain from commenting on blogs on the topics is that I rarely see the female side of this community weighing in (sadly, I think rangergirl's blog is an exception to the norm), and I would prefer to have a discussion, not cheer or jeer a rant about what Sarkeesian did wrong now.

That's not to say I haven't enjoyed some of those male-written blogs I didn't comment, or that I don't think there's valid points in them or that men just shouldn't speak at all on the topic (I just did), I just wish the discussion about feminism on this site were less of a sausage fest, and realize the irony in my comment not helping things in that regard.

transmet2033

08/20/2013 at 10:03 AM

Having just finished this game a week and a half ago, I will say that I regret not picking it up a lot sooner.  Also, I will definitely pick up the sequel/reboot a soon as possible.  Possibly before I even have a console to play it on.

Whenever I got into the groove of the gameplay, I always felt like a badass as Faith.  She was such an awesome character and I felt so bad whenever I missed a jump and she fell all the way to the ground.

I thought that the game was a perfect difficulty and had little trouble with the controls after the tutorial.  I wish that I would have remembered everything that she could do, because slowing time would have saved my life quite a few times.  Most of my problem with the difficulty of the game had to do with my own inability to time jumps correctly.  I did have a couple of issues with some of the firefights, but yet again it was usually my fault that I died.  I cannot comprehend how Julian finished the last level without using a gun at all.  

Ranger1

08/21/2013 at 09:45 AM

Anita did like Faith as a character, she talked a lot about how much she liked Faith and then made her complaint that the game was too hard. The part that got me was her blanket statement that more women would play Mirror's Edge if the control scheme wasn't so hard.

Angelo Grant Staff Writer

08/21/2013 at 10:52 AM

Yeah, I kinda goofed there and misunderstood the problem, but it did become an interesting discussion even if it wasn't about Faith exclusively. 

Matt Snee Staff Writer

08/21/2013 at 11:45 AM

yeah that bit about Anita saying it was too difficult for girls is pretty infuriating.  Maybe it was too difficult for her, but that generalization is terrible.  And what is worse is EA might have humored her in the design of the new Mirror's Edge.

Michael117

08/21/2013 at 12:09 PM

I think that if Anita looked back and thought about what she was saying she'd probably want to rephrase that and make a better point, or different point altogether. I like her work and the videos she's done on games so far, for the most part, but she's quite rough in spots in regards to her analysis. Some of her criticisms are well wrought and make me think about storytelling in games in general, while some of her other criticisms are more like brain farts or off-the-cuff comments that people occasionally say in conversations with friends or coworkers and have to reformulate later. Except for her, those occasional brain farts or unshaped ideas on are all on camera in her videos and millions of people see them. I support her, she's trying, but you can tell she's more of an amateur on some of the subjects and some of her presentations aren't sharpened very well.

That's no reason for people to be infuriated though, gamers have been quite an embarassment in this whole debate, which isn't even a debate anymore. I'm embarassed for this whole craft that I love, and for all of us. It's a war of elementary words, junior-high logic, and hate speech now by people on both sides. Anita's braver than me though, I could never go on with that project, I'm too sensetive to deal with that kind of harassment and direct hatred and threatening. I'm a non-confrontational person and I don't like fighting. I like thinking, analyzing, and solving problems, but not in a public fashion and not when it ends in screaming and rape+death threats on a regular basis.

Chris Iozzi Staff Alumnus

09/10/2013 at 09:22 PM

Hey guys, just read through all your comments. We hoped to record the followup tonight but looks like we may need to hold off a couple days. You guys have some great opinions and I hope to address some in the pc.

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