Monthly Archives: June 2014

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Naming the problem: Trinity Syndrome

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I’ve always hated the phrase “strong female character,” but couldn’t quite put my finger on what was wrong with it. I knew I wanted more than just strength, but “three-dimensionality” is too much to ask for from Hollywood. Of course, this topic has been mined extensively by people who are much smarter and more thoughtful than me, but I missed out on the analysis until stumbling upon this delightful piece by Tasha Robinson at The Dissolve. It’s short, smart, and super-funny–and cuts to the heart of the problem by naming it “Trinity Syndrome.” In a nutshell, strong female characters with nothing to do but support or inspire or whatever are worse than weak female characters who take action to advance their own goals.

Speaking of The Dissolve, it’s well worth adding to your feeds or whatever it is you youngsters use to keep up with things these days. It was launched by my favorite Onion AV Club writers (including the coiner of the phrase “manic pixie dream girls”) a year or two ago to essentially zero fanfare, but it’s consistently insightful and frequently pants-pissingly hilarious.

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Assassin’s Creed V: Unity Looks Amazing But Is Still Disappointing

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UPDATE: Ubisoft backs away from their excuse about workload after a former Assassin’s Creed animator calls bullshit.

Original post:

Last night I watched the E3 trailer for Assassin’s Creed V: Unity, and man does that game look badass! Intense cooperative multi-player action, an unbelievably detailed open-world recreation of revolutionary-era Paris, thousands of NPCs crowding the screen… I mean, watch the trailer and see for yourself. It’s just generally gorgeous.

I have, as of late, thought of Ubisoft as slightly more progressive than some other game companies. On Assassin’s Creed 3 they worked closely with two members of the Kanien’kehá:ka nation, Akwiratékha Martin and Teiowí:sonte Thomas Deer, both who praised Ubisoft’s attention to ensuring that the portrayal of colonial-era Native Americans was sensitive and accurate. In AC3: Liberation, a shorter game set in the same time period as AC3, you play as Aveline de Grandpré, a biracial female freedwoman. And while you couldn’t play as a female in AC4: Black Flag, there were those that felt the NPC females were well-rounded and interesting.

But let’s get back to Unity.

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Jeff Vogel: The Indie Bubble Is Popping.

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The Indie Bubble Is Popping. This feels more like “smart guy sees the writing on the wall” than “smug asshole indulges in knee-jerk contrarianism.” (And hey, that’s my job anyway.) The basic argument boils down to this: There’s a finite amount of money to be spent on games, and the number of developers has skyrocketed. Something has to give, and it’s more likely that lots of developers will fail than the amount of money spent on games will grow as quickly as it did during the short-lived explosion* of casual gaming.

That’s not to say that everyone is doomed or that we aren’t seeing some super-neat innovations, just that the industry is going to shake out in a few years to look not very different from the way it did pre-Steam. Maybe a bit less top-heavy.

I think curation and microtransactions and merch could help; see the indie music scene for plenty of examples. Still, the costs of producing mid-tier indie games may end up being unrecoverable in most cases, and that’s a ding-dong shame.

 

* Explosions are by nature short-lived, but it’s still worth emphasizing.