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What's with the name?

Allow us to explain.

Review

Free Adventure Game Heroine’s Quest Kicks It Old School


When I was a kid, Christmas morning often involved the unwrapping of a new computer game. Once all the other presents had been revealed and appreciated, I’d spend the rest of the morning sitting diligently in front of the family computer, nibbling a chocolate Santa and waiting for the game to install. This could take hours, but the waiting was important. Some games would autoplay as soon as installation was complete. I couldn’t risk missing part of the intro. And some games had multiple installation disks, which required switching when prompted. Stepping away from the computer meant the prompt would sit there unnoticed, whittling away whole minutes of play time.

I remember those mornings fondly. That level of reverence and restraint is rarer for me these days. I have mentioned this to a number of friends over the past couple weeks, especially while perusing the Steam Winter Sale. I love the Winter Sale, but it makes me aware of a shift in my perspective. I appreciated getting a new game so much more when I was younger. The idea of backlogs and cheap bundles would’ve been baffling to me (they still are, in a way). Recently, I have found myself wistful for the days when less meant more.

As it turns out, this is the perfect mindset for playing Heroine’s Quest.

In a time when adventure games are undergoing a massive (and much needed) rebirth, Heroine’s Quest: The Herald of Ragnarok feels like a relic, but a precious one. Intended as an homage to the genre’s glory days, Heroine’s Quest does more than just dress itself in pixel art and classic mechanics. This is a game with an old soul, a kind of game I haven’t seen in a long time. Forget hearthstones and quick travel. Forget quest markers. Forget puzzles with explanations. Heroine’s Quest is the real deal: a brainy, slow-paced RPG/adventure hybrid, with more side quests and inventory items than you’ll know what to do with.

I have two things to admit. The first is that I have not yet completed Heroine’s Quest. The fault is entirely my own. I underestimated how much time it would take to play through. I heard “free indie adventure game,” and assumed that I could get through it quickly. Ha. By now, I have unveiled most of the map, but have barely scratched the surface. What’s the purpose of the crystal gazebo? Of the scary castle with the dragon banners? Of the shiny thing stuck in the frozen lake, which requires the ice pick I cannot afford? This brings me to the second, more shameful admission: I have not progressed further than where I was at eleven o’clock last night because I am currently stuck on a puzzle. Stuck on a puzzle. I find this both infuriating and wonderful. I always do my best to figure out solutions on my own (what’s the fun, otherwise?), but if I am well and truly stuck, I’ll seek the help of a wiki or a knowledgeable friend. I have access to neither in this case. I am back to the behavior I exhibited in my single-digit years — pushing away from the computer in a huff, returning twenty minutes later because dammit, I can do this.

The story, as one would expect, is typical high fantasy fare, with trolls and wizards and a huge heaping helping of Norse mythology. (I have the added bonus of playing this game in Iceland, in early January. The idea of ending an oppressively long winter by means of a magical quest appeals to me.) The player has a standard choice of classes — warrior, sorceress, or rogue. Each class bestows a different array of puzzle solutions and quest outcomes, which speaks well for the game’s replayability. Combat is more engaging than I expected, keeping the player busy with finding the right times to dodge and strike. Heroine’s Quest plays like some of the best adventure games of my youth, but with the perks of rather good voice acting and appealing graphics (in stunning 320×200 resolution, no less — I recommend playing on a laptop).

As for the eponymous heroine, what’s not to like about an aspiring legend who speaks boldly of her accomplishments, trades words with monsters and witches, and inspires village children with her strength and bravery? Her gender is incidental to her heroic deeds, and that, too, feels in line with the spirit of the old days. It wasn’t until my tweens that I became aware of the notion that games were “for boys” (and there’s a reason for that). When I first encountered adventure games, I had not yet developed the quiet, gnawing worry that I was entering a place in which I wasn’t welcome. The casualness with which Heroine’s Quest features a female protagonist reminded me of another hallmark of my childhood games — a sense of effortless, innocent play.

My feelings toward Heroine’s Quest exist in a dual state. I am simultaneously delighted that this game exists, and so glad that games at large have moved on. Because yes, I’m still attached to the old days. I miss being so excited over a new game that I would sit for hours with a stack of disks on my lap, watching the progress bar inch glacially forward. There’s a sweetness to the memory of me and my little brother begging our mom to let us call the pay-per-minute help line for Star Trek: 25th Anniversary. I’d give anything to find my original notes for Myst. I think back warmly on the patience those games inspired in me as a young child. The deep, focused thinking. The devotion fueled by only having one game to play at a time. But though the old days were good days, the now is pretty awesome, too. I’m glad for quest logs, and for quick saves, and for puzzles that don’t require me to backtrack for an hour to find the one effing item that isn’t in my bursting inventory. I am glad for Gone Home, and The Walking Dead, and the promise of other innovative games rising from the ashes of the ‘90s. Heroine’s Quest has been a sentimental reminder of how games and I have grown up together. The things I’ve lost, the things I’ve gained. If you got your start on adventure games, too, I think you’ll feel the same way.

Heroine’s Quest: The Herald of Ragnarok is available for Windows, with Mac and Linux on the way.

Becky Chambers writes essays, science fiction, and stuff about video games. Like most internet people, she has a website. She can also be found on Twitter.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/nuuni.nuunani Nuuni Nuunani

    Without delving to much into spoiler territory, could you give an example of how the different classes have an impact upon the puzzle solving?

  • Jamie Jeans

    Hey, this looks great and all, but why is the heroine a white, blonde? It’d be nice if they had some different options for characters.

  • Jake Mertz

    It’s great that this game exists for people who enjoy that sort of game.

  • Sarah

    Yes! I was just thinking about replaying King’s Quest 5 but this is going to be so much better.

  • Eric Xin

    Because it is a 8 bit game. It is like people who complain Samus had to wear a swimsuit to show she is a girl in the 90s. There was only so far what the devs can do.

  • Eric Xin

    Still, if you want good girls protagonist game with out the eye bleeding graphics, you might want to consider PSVITA/PSP’s
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atelier_(series)

    It is about a series female protagonist learning magic, hunt monsters, and make potions. There are male characters but they are usually side characters. In the latest release is about a elder girl teaching a younger girl art of alchemy, and together they actually learn magic while building an kingdom together. Pretty neat.

  • Charlie

    The graphics look fine to me. Also, this game is free btw. The Atelier games are good but sometimes the outfits can veer into Loli territory which is a little cringeworthy.

  • http://keveak.deviantart.com/ Kristina Viggers

    Having played Metroid, I can tell you that it’s pretty clear that they intended Samus to be a woman in the ending I got. I got the middle ending, where the helmet is all that is removed, which is also the ending that whoever wrote the entry in the Metroid wiki thinks reveals Samus’ gender.

    The swimsuit endings are pretty much just there because it was assumed the player would be a straight guy who’d feel rewarded by seeing a girl in a swimsuit. Even if it was to reveal the gender, that still reflects very poorly on the man-until-definitively-proven-woman mindset necessary to require that.

    In this case, they can clearly show another character with dark grey skin (as seen in the screenshot above), so it is unlikely that they couldn’t add at least the option of playing a heroine who is a WOC. Thus, it is fair and necessary criticism.

  • http://otherscribbles.com Becky Chambers

    Very light spoiler: If the heroine needs to find food, her class will determine what options she’s likely to have the most success with. A warrior, for example, is going to have more luck with hunting than a rogue, who is better off stealing. The differences become more nuanced and interesting as the game goes on, but in the interest of avoiding spoilers, I’ll leave it at that. :)

  • Fizzii

    The theme is a Nordic theme (Scandinavian setting), so all human characters are of European appearance to fit the setting. Regarding different options: it isn’t really feasible to duplicate a set of thousands of hand-drawn pixels for different hair colours or skin colours – it would have driven the lead artist to madness and pushed development back by at least a couple more years :)

  • Eric Xin

    Well, years ago, I did read an interview to the original metroid designer, and he commented the only way they had samus like that because there weren’t any better way to display her on a 8 bit Ninteno system-It was a swimsuit or a dress like Princess Peach.

    And Victoria secret catologue existed back in the 1980s, so I assure you boys have better things to look at that a 8 bit stick figure.

    ============

    Metroid a side, HQ’s file size is likely to be EXTREMELY small. We are talking about maybe 300-400KB to 1 MB back in 1992. In that environment, it would be technically impossible to fit in a customization system in.

    The earliest custom-able game to get a WoC in would probably be at least 1998 or after.

    Now, nothing stop the devs to go back to re-do heroine’s quest to include a WoC. All you need is maybe 30-100,000 dev cost. Would you like to go fund a kickstarter? :3

  • http://www.facebook.com/nuuni.nuunani Nuuni Nuunani

    Thank you very much! ^^

  • http://www.facebook.com/nuuni.nuunani Nuuni Nuunani

    Personally, given this game is filled to the brim with Norse mythology, I would prefer it if they simply made another game, one set in say Africa or India that borrows from the local mythology and makes a local heroine for a totally new adventure.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nuuni.nuunani Nuuni Nuunani

    I was drawn in by the Atelier Iris series but found myself disliking the later games I tried out in the series. It wasn’t until Atelier Totori that I realized the time limit factor is a general consistency which killed my interest.

    It should be mentioned though that for most Atelier games, the story is about a normal person trying to become a great alchemist with ‘the world is in peril’ sorta stories being a rather uncommon occurrence.

  • Eric Xin

    Yea, I haven’t actually gotten the game myself yet, so I am not aware of a time limit.

    What kind is it? Combat Time limit, like World of Warcraft, or Story time limit? Like must finish game before year Xth year?

  • http://keveak.deviantart.com/ Kristina Viggers

    Which of them? According to Wikipedia, there were four designers. Not that I doubt you, just curious.

    As I said, that just reflects terribly on the view they had of women. Legend of Zelda came out same year, yet Link is not wearing a top hat and a giant beard or a speedo to show his gender. It’s essentially the ms. Male Character effect. Armour is assumed to be male, and so is everything but a dress or a swimsuit, thus we can’t show Samus is a girl without either of those. That’s a problem.

    ==============

    ,,, The game is made in 2013. It is in the style of older games, yes, but that doesn’t mean it has to be limited to the same technology. Plus, it was certainly possible to play a palette-swapped version of the main character in Super Mario Bros from 1985 (2 player mode), so why not in a game based on technology from years after that? I didn’t say you’d have to be able to customise the hero’s traits ala Mass Effect, just that it should be possible to have a WOC main character or an option for one and thus that Jamie’s criticism was not invalidated by the technology.

    I may not be an expert on programming, but why would you need to redo a game to change a character model? I can understand if changing the shape of something might screw things up, but the colour of something seems likely to be a simple change in one line of code. Why would it be difficult to have one version of the game where skin and hair had colour values corresponding to these colours and one where they were slightly different? I’m honestly curious, because that would be just two numbers in the programming language I’ve had lectures in. : )

  • http://keveak.deviantart.com/ Kristina Viggers

    We did have people of colour up here (I’m Danish) during the Viking Age. The Sami people, the Greenlandic people, people descended from travellers (as far back as the Roman Empire, where Romans from Africa or Asia would have been stationed in what is now Germany and Britain), travellers themselves, etc. It would not be difficult to make a non-white character fit the setting, even if it was supposed to be historically accurate, which it isn’t.

    Also, from the screenshots, she has two colours for her skin. Just change the colour values of those two colours. If each single pixel has its colour written independently, that would take a bit of copy-pasting, but not years. This is based on only knowing one programming language, but I doubt they’d use one that required specifying individual colour values for every single pixel on every character that moves. Unless colouring in the language used is significantly different from what I know, in which case I’d be interested in knowing how it works. : )

  • Eric Xin

    Oh, I didn’t realize Heroine’ is built with retro-tech in 2013. Well, that is up to the devs then. I thought this was a 1992 version re-port/freeware release.
    ===============
    As for Link/samus….well, I doubt the devs were some mygonstic monsters who cackle as they put a swimsuit on a 8 bit samus. They just didn’t expect any girls would actually pickup a controller.

    You have to realize what era it was. This was in the 80s or 90s. Where, as my older brother quote it, “It is more socially acceptable to be caught in the bedroom with your girlfriend’s 10 years old sister naked than with a game controller”

    Gamers and their devs suffered a ton of stigma back then. Gamers were the 200 pound loser or the 80 pound beta male. Gamers were the “virgins” at worst, and devil worshiper at best. Media love to tag a gamer in a negative light as much as possible.

    You could say things a some what better these days, but those stigmas still exist :P

  • Fizzii

    Yes, it is not “hard”, but each frame of animation is a separate file, so going through thousands of them manually is very tedious. And while the skin colour is considered ‘white’ because the heroine is blonde, it probably wouldn’t need changing anyway if we had wanted to represent the heroine as a Sami. So that would leave the hair colour, and that is even more work because there all the frames have pixels which are yellow in areas other than her hair (eg her belt), and then there are yet more frames which have yellow, such as spells, weapons etc.

    After duplicating a bunch of sprites, portraits would also have needed to be made to match, and then it would need to be coded in and fully tested, which is even more work.

    Anyway, the game is free. It was a very small team (primarily two or three at a time) plugging away at this for four years, so we weren’t going to drive ourselves crazy trying to make the game all-encompassing, as the intent of the game is not about making a statement on whether minorities or under-represented groups should be represented in a game. Eventually (in any game project), you need to draw a line with the scope. To us, the important thing in Heroine’s Quest is the story, the gameplay and the puzzles. The choice of the female protagonist was simply because the lead artist wanted one (having previously enjoyed other adventure games with female leads). I half suspect we wouldn’t be having this conversation if the game was male? :)

  • http://keveak.deviantart.com/ Kristina Viggers

    1986, specifically, three years after the video game crash. At this point, according to the No Girls allowed article linked in this article, that’s a bit early for the girls-don’t-play-games era (The article even mentions Sierra employees laughing at people being upset with Rosella as a protagonist, which didn’t happen until 1988) in the USA, but I have no clue what the Japanese picture of gamers was, so you might be right. Well, except the devil worship scare, pretty sure that wasn’t a thing in Japan.

    I’ve actually experienced more of the stereotypes and stigmas after starting university (first semester is ending this month) than before, despite studying media technology with people who are mostly gamers. Prior to that, people were pretty neutral about it. It’s rather odd, but probably related to the average Dane having little connection to American gaming culture, while Danish gamers are very involved with it.

  • http://keveak.deviantart.com/ Kristina Viggers

    I don’t know much about how adventure games like this are programmed, so I can’t really say much more. Portraits and the like do indeed sound like a lot of additional work, though I am wondering how long a character take to make (most such games have a lot of NPCs, but they might have a lot less art needed than PCs).

    Being free and made by a small team does not mean it can’t be criticised. In fact, if that was the case, I’d be rather sad as most of my art benefit from critique despite being freely available and made by one person.

    While I can understand that it may be a lot of work to add multiple playable characters with different looks, my issue is more with the fact that the default is white male. As you said, the heroine is only a woman because someone wanted it, otherwise she’d have been male whether anyone specifically wanted that or not. It is a pretty big problem in video games, and especially fantasy video games, when you have to specifically want to be extra inclusive to not default to white and blonde for your hero.

    I would be discussing this if the hero had been a man, because then it not only perpetuates the standard of white being the default and POC being the exotic or special Other, but also the one that says that women are the special Other. Yes, the story and gameplay are the focus and are important, but so is the lack of diversity in video games and their impact. Games are part of our culture and have a responsibility not show humans as white by default, but to be diverse. One game with a blonde white protagonist is not an issue, but the thousandth time it happens with barely any exceptions, it is a huge problem.

  • Fizzii

    Certainly we are happy to hear critiques and I never said the game could not be criticized for what it is, but asking for full customization starts to push against what is reasonable for a 2D hand drawn game. If the game was 3D, then it would have much easier to customize a character’s look, and probably would have been considered from the start. I personally have not seen a 2D adventure game with customizable characters, and it was never a consideration during development.

    For the record, there were a handful of players who wanted the game to include an option of a male protagonist, which I found amusing given the game’s title.

    I agree that there is an imbalance of characters being primarily white and male, but that is a wider issue which needs to be addressed at large. Heroine’s Quest itself is hardly likely to cause any impact because it is 1) a niche genre, 2) retro-looking, and hence will not likely have mass appeal, though it appears to have some people questioning whether the gender was chosen simply to get publicity on a heated topic (which it was not).

    If we did a game with a different theme, say, an Asian or African theme, we would certainly aim to make the protagonist and non-player characters suitable to that theme. In which case, we would not depict any blonde whites.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nuuni.nuunani Nuuni Nuunani

    Story time limit with branching endings. Getting the good ending forces you to spring through dungeons, skip exploration and encourages replayability through ‘you missed alot just to beat the game so play again so you can find out what~!’ The time limit doesn’t count down when your in town though. You lose a certain number of days traveling to locations. You are timed inside dungeons with ten minutes equelling a day, battles (in some gamees in the series) also adding to the timer, actions like gathering items adding to the timer and it makes 100% completion a nightmare.
    The exceptions to this trend are Atelier Iris and Atelier Iris 2 which are really fun games

  • Jamie Jeans

    And congratulations to the nitwit who said “It’s 8 Bit! Brown is too hard a colour to make!” as well as the other racist defender, coming up with the same old tired garbage of “It’s a Nordic setting! There’s no black people there!”

    You have won the Tired Racist Excuse Award! Congratulations, you’re too cowardly to actually claim your racism, so you hide behind flimsy excuses!

    Lets give Eric & Fizii a round of applause!

  • kbroxmysox

    From what I’ve read of Fizii, he doesn’t sound racist at all. And his comments aren’t “brown is too hard to colour” is that’s “multiple color schemes/animations mean A LOT of files”…

    Listen, I think it would be awesome if we finally get some videogames with POC. My femshep in Mass Effect is black. But I also don’t think we should

    1) Complain that the heroine is a white blonde. That’s like complaining that Veronica Mars is white and blonde, and that’s somehow a negative. This is a great game because it is starting a female lead. Why can’t we be happy about that? Why do we need to make everything “A THING”, that even a game that has a female has to come with a “This is great and all but….”

    2) Accuse people of racism. I don’t think Eric or Fizii are racist and you accusing them of being such is not only rude but falls into the old adage of “hurting the word”….

    You might think you’re standing up for something, but honestly right now you’re just sound like you’re on a soap box, shouting to be heard.

  • Eric Xin

    Devil worshiping is mostly in United States. The original Dungeon and Dragons (Pencil/Pager RPG) were branded as “gate way to cultist/devil worshipping” and there were a series of mysterious deaths tagged to D&D. Gamers had to be secretive, or their social life would be instantly destroyed.

    One story goes a husband snuck out every friday night and returned in the morning, and his wife thought he was cheating on him–when she hired a private detective to tail him and found out he was playing D&D. She immediately divorced him anyway-because the idea of her husband-an accomplished economic professor was such an loser. I myself have lost a girlfriend because I forgot to hide my Advanced Dungeon and Dragons manual before I invited her to my house.

    Which is kind of a shame, because D&D was one of the first games that actively reached out to female gamers, and specifically said “women of the realm are every bit capable as their male counterparts.” And it was the first game that allowed female characters to have identical stats and access to classes as men.

    I recall an interview with Margert Weis, one of the first female game developer/fantasy writer, specifically created a couple male characters just to provide “eye candy” to female gamers as a equality factor.

    I paraphase,

    “If men can oogle elvish princesses in chainmail and sexy lady in scantly clad dress, then why can’t women have something to look at too?”

    Of course, the like of Anita Sarksand totally ruined that by claiming muscle bound male warrior were a “boys power trip” and completely ignored the fact “muscle bound warriors with romance cover look” were designed by female devs to outreach to their gamer sisters.

    ==========
    Anyway, long story cut short, you can see why male devs, who grew up in the 80s or 90s, who are now in charge of gaming companies, aren’t usually building a product designed to a group of people they spent their teenage year hiding from :P

  • Stewart Zoot Wymer

    Originally Quest for Glory (which HQ seems to draw heavily from) was going to have both male and female protagonists but due to hardware limitations, they couldn’t get it through. It’s good that this remake/alternative exists then. Not to cast aspertions on QFG though, while not having a female protagonist often had very strong female characters all the way through it (helped by having one half of the creative team being a woman, I think – rare for those times still)

  • Fizzii

    Actually, just to clarify, I am female. I am also of Chinese descent, but I personally dislike being categorized into labels as I am my own person ;).

  • kbroxmysox

    Haha sorry, don’t know why I thought you were a guy. I think because your name Fizzii, sort of reminds me of a nickname of a high school friend of mine who was male :p. I still stay behind my stance that you aren’t a racist ;-)

  • http://keveak.deviantart.com/ Kristina Viggers

    Fair enough, as I said, I have very little knowledge of how easy changes are made in such a game. My apologies for assuming. m(_ _)m

    I personally consider most works of art to have the potential to have a large impact, even if they are not intended to and are a part of the cultural atmosphere regardless of their popularity. Plus, I think it sounds like a very good game that a lot of people would like. At least, I’d like to play it despite not being one of the people lucky enough to have tried the older adventure games (being born in the mid-nineties and all).

    From what I’ve heard, that’s actually a step up from some older games, where a white blonde protagonist was kept through every setting. I apologise if I came off very angry yesterday, the assumption that medieval Europe and particularly the Viking Age Nordic countries were entirely filled with white people is just a big pet peeve for me. Especially when it’s used in Fantasy to only have white people in a world with dragons and elves. Not that you’re doing that, just that a lot are. ^_^’

  • Fizzii

    I suppose that Viking and medieval fantasy is primarily written by white people, which is why they are primarily portrayed as white.

    There is actually a reference to the Saami people in game, though there aren’t any Saami characters in game (probably because the mythology used in game does not really feature Saami people).

    Anyway I thought your posts had a reasonable tone and I didn’t think you sounded angry at all. I hope you enjoy the game when you get around to playing it :)

  • http://keveak.deviantart.com/ Kristina Viggers

    I am aware of the scare and the impact, though I consider it rather silly to assume one’s own experience was and still is universal. If someone grew up in a time and place where most women they met where appalled by the idea of gaming, then that means those specific people believed the cultural notion that gaming was evil, nothing else. If people seriously believe that this means that games are men only, then that’s ignorant and bigoted.

    ((SPOILERS for Dragonlance Legends))
    Margaret Weis (who started working for TSR in 1983, 15 years after Ursula K. Le Guin began the Earthsea Cycle and 3 years after Roberta Williams made her first game for what would be Sierra, she was even preceded by at least one woman (Rose Estes) at TSR. She was still a woman in a time and industry dominated almost exclusively by men, though, so point taken) mentions that story in the Annotated Dragonlance Legends (p. 286). It’s about Caramon’s training as a gladiator (probably this picture: https://www.edu.physics.uoc.gr/~lookas/pictures/lance17.jpg) and describes it as a beefcake shot. That may seem trivial, but the issue is that women are shown as draped over men, dressed entirely to be sexy and as an object to oggle whether it makes sense or not (another picture by one of the same artists: http://larryelmore.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/silverwolf.jpg). Caramon is being trained to be a gladiator, and is shown a muscular and strong, even in his outfit and pose. But even if he was wearing clothes meant to be sexy (such as the weird cleavage-revealing armour in other Dragonlance covers, though most of them are pretty good about not being too cheesecake) and was shown in a pose meant to be sexy rather than heroic, that is one example. One example that Weis specifically points out as needing justification in-story and was meant as a turnabout against the specific cover artists who were known for their “scantily clad females”. It was not the norm and it was not to the same degree of objectification when it was done. Honestly, most of the men shown like that were indeed intended to show muscle and strength in order to convey that these men were mighty heroes who could fight ogres hand-to-hand, especially since most writers and developers were men and not women reaching out to other straight, pan or bi women.

    Sarkeesian is entirely right that most muscular men in games are very much shown the way they are to appear heroic, strong or similarly powerful. Women who are shown as thin, non-muscular and showing comparatively large amounts of skin (chainmail bikinis versus chain mail shirts and pants, robes with cleavages going down to the belt versus regular wizard robes, etc.) are supposed to look pretty or sexy. Nothing wrong with looking strong, pretty or both, just with the trend towards showing strong men and pretty women, with only rare strong women or pretty-only men (e.g. this version of Ariel http://dorodraws.tumblr.com/image/36775208909). It happens, but it’s too rare to in any way rival the strong men, pretty women standard.

    In short, Caramon is drawn as a strong muscular hero, once with less clothing to add some sex appeal, but mostly just as a strong powerful person the reader can look up to. While Dragonlance does have a lot of good female characters, they are still never very muscular (Tika becomes a fighter during the Chronicles, but unlike Caramon, her musculature never seems to change) and often show cleavage or their shoulders when wearing armour (Tika again, as well as Kitiara)..

  • http://keveak.deviantart.com/ Kristina Viggers

    Yeah, that is a bit of a problem. Sadly extends to most bestsellers as well (the vast majority are written by white people), but it is indeed very evident in those genres. Hopefully authors will be more aware of that in the future and question that (I’m certainly trying to, though I’m very much an amateur at this point. ^_^’)

    Ooh, neat! ^_^

    Thank you, and I hope so too. : )

  • Eric Xin

    “If people seriously believe that this means that games are men only, then that’s ignorant and bigoted.”

    No, it meant for LOSER men only, quite a distinction. Most of us hid our gaming hobbies very closely to ensure our lives were not destroyed. Go watch some sitcom in the 90s or 80s. Real men should be playing football and sleeping with women. Gamers are not considered as “real men” would do.

    It is not quite the same in China, where our female friends can pickup a controller good as men (a ton of my chinese female friends all play video games), but in the United States, the cradle of video gaming, it is very much an “hide under the bed/porn collection” thing.

    I am sure there might be a female gamer group back in those days, but according to my friend’s mother, she was the only person in the entire neighborhood who knew what a D20 was.”

    Heck, early as 2003, I escorted one of my few female gaming buddies to a convention, and everyone were like ZOMG, woman willing to come here? She was like one out of maybe……10 women who weren’t middle aged dealers out of 4000. Nothing barred a woman from showing up (this isn’t civil right days, gamers don’t lynch women for coming into convention centers) , it is just no one wanted to show up.

    “Sarkeesian is entirely right that most muscular men in games are very much shown the way they are to appear heroic, strong or similarly powerful. Women who are shown as thin, non-muscular and showing comparatively large amounts of skin (chainmail bikinis versus chain mail shirts and pants, robes with cleavages going down to the belt versus regular wizard robes, etc.) ”

    The problem with this argument is two fold. FIRST, The best sellers for TSR was not the beefy Caramon with Tika, the dark Legolas-alike Tanis with two different girls, or the barbarian Riverwind with his lover Goldmoon. It was Raist, the skinny wizard that no one loved, a wizard who is sick, ill, hated, but brilliant. Wizard class is always consisted more liked than “Bricks” I.E Fighters during D&D games. So I couldn’t help but laugh when Sarksan said “Muscle men are a male teenage power trip” because she have no understanding of the gamer mind at all but make crazy inferences then ban anyone who try to argue.

    The second issue is societal norm in general. “Beefy women.” D&D has to sell, and while you could say we guys would like a Elf Queen rather than a barbarian Amazon, but guess what, that extend to REAL LIFE to WOMEN as well.

    Look at Olympics, there was a recent article on how female figure skaters, fencers and gymnasts came back with tons of endorsements and wealth, but then there was a ABC episode on how the female weight-lifting champion for the US was almost HOMELESS and scraping by after she came back.

    Is it men’s fault? Or is it also women’s for failing to support their sisters?

    College basketball, for men, is a huge profit center for Unis in the U.S. Women’s Basketball are usually loss-centers supported by funds men’s basketball. Again, with over 57% of college population now are women, why aren’t women out cheering for their sisters, and female alumnis cutting big checks for women’s athletic programs?

    Seriously. People like Anita Sarkessan should be out kickstartering new games for girls, rather than making crappy videos blaming games devs for perceived sexual biases that made no sense..

  • http://keveak.deviantart.com/ Kristina Viggers

    “No, it meant for LOSER men only, quite a distinction.”

    I was referring to the developers and leaders of companies that you were talking about who wouldn’t make games for people they avoided in their youth (ie. women). If they think that way, that is plainly bigoted.

    “I am sure there might be a female gamer group back in those days, but according to my friend’s mother, she was the only person in the entire neighborhood who knew what a D20 was.”

    … ‘Person’ kind of implies there were no male gamers either. From what I hear, it was difficult finding other gamers no matter who you were, not just for women. I might as well say there were no women playing D&D in Denmark before the noughties because I only ever met men who played it back then. I don’t, because I’ve met exactly two men who did play it back then, so it would be silly to assume they represent all gamers of their generation, just as assuming that your friend’s mum represents all female gamers of the time.

    “Heck, early as 2003, I escorted one of my few female gaming buddies to a convention, and everyone were like ZOMG, woman willing to come here? She was like one out of maybe……10 women who weren’t middle aged dealers out of 4000. Nothing barred a woman from showing up (this isn’t civil right days, gamers don’t lynch women for coming into convention centers) , it is just no one wanted to show up.”

    You are aware that the ‘ZOMG a woman?! What is a woman doing here?’ reaction is not exactly welcoming, right? Trying to go to a convention as one of the only women, where most of the organisers and speakers tend to be men as well, is difficult on its own, but that reaction reinforces the feeling of being the Other. Women are treated as a rarity and as curiosities, as something not to expect or to see as “one of the guys” (as evident by that phrase itself), so it becomes very difficult to feel like you belong or like there’s much to gain. If I hadn’t been reading Fantasy and playing games most of my life, I’d probably not have felt like they were at all something I would be welcome to enjoy and would have focussed instead on something else.

    Also, just because women can vote and work does not mean feminism is over and everything is equal. There is a vast spectrum between being banned from an activity and being welcomed.

    “The problem with this argument is two fold. FIRST, The best sellers for TSR was not the beefy Caramon with Tika, the dark Legolas-alike Tanis with two different girls, or the barbarian Riverwind with his lover Goldmoon. It was Raist, the skinny wizard that no one loved, a wizard who is sick, ill, hated, but brilliant. Wizard class is always consisted more liked than “Bricks” I.E Fighters during D&D games. So I couldn’t help but laugh when Sarksan said “Muscle men are a male teenage power trip” because she have no understanding of the gamer mind at all but make crazy inferences then ban anyone who try to argue.”

    Didn’t say it was the most popular power fantasy for that one series, just that it was intended to show a strong heroic person and not a sexy-above-all-else thing. Raistlin represents another power fantasy, wherein a person who is physically frail and ostracised by the popular kids gains power through intelligence that far outweighs the ‘jocks’. But if we can dismiss arguments with singular examples; the God of War games are about a muscled war-god who physically smashes through everything and beats up gods. These games are quite popular, along with other games with similar heroes (I believe Dante’s Inferno did a similar thing, despite the historical Dante being a scholar and thus ideal for the Raistlin role), so apparently many many developers also do not understand the gamer mind,

    Also, Anita Sarkeesian dis not ban arguments, she disabled comments as a result of harassment. The difference being that she has the right to not accept comments on her own videos and do not even have the power to ban people on Youtube or Twitter.

    “The second issue is societal norm in general. “Beefy women.” D&D has to sell, and while you could say we guys would like a Elf Queen rather than a barbarian Amazon, but guess what, that extend to REAL LIFE to WOMEN as well.

    Look at Olympics, there was a recent article on how female figure skaters, fencers and gymnasts came back with tons of endorsements and wealth, but then there was a ABC episode on how the female weight-lifting champion for the US was almost HOMELESS and scraping by after she came back.

    Is it men’s fault? Or is it also women’s for failing to support their sisters?”

    It is a symptom of a misogynist society, mostly. Women being strong is discouraged and looked down upon, and we’re taught to do that, while looking ‘Elf Queen’ is encouraged and rewarded. Breaking through that is immensely difficult, especially when everything in society still retains so much of the women = subservient housewife system. Most of the power in society still lies with men, not with women, and to ignore that and say that women should help themselves is tantamount to saying that black people were at fault for the poor quality of the stuff they were allowed to use during segregation or the wealth gab they face in the USA and elsewhere today. It’s divisive, assumes that both groups are separate rivals whose members have no responsibility to work to correct the bias and imbalance in society that hurts the other.

    Is it the men who live today’s fault that society has developed like it has? No, that would be the fault of the ones perpetuating it in the past. It is however the fault of those who do nothing to prevent the continuation of the disenfranchising and oppression of women or even question existing biases that society remains problematic. Not because they are men, but because they have the power to speak up and affect change, but don’t.

    “And finally, magazines such as the cosmopolitan, which no heterosexual male would be caught reading, usually have a non-muscle-attractive woman on the cover. Is that “men”‘s fault too?”

    I know plenty of straight men who would openly read that. They’d agree with me that it’s sexist and harmful, but they would not care about being caught reading it.

    It’s a symptom of a society wherein a specific type of woman is rewarded and all others are looked down upon as not real women (again akin to the ‘real men do X’ thing), and thus wherein trying to fulfil that stereotype gains social benefits. Or, in other words, it’s the walkthrough made by the players, not the manual made by the developers.

    “Seriously. People like Anita Sarkessan should be out kickstartering new games for girls, rather than making crappy videos blaming games devs for perceived sexual biases that made no sense..”

    Plenty have done that. What Anita Sarkeesian is doing, however, is being an educator. She is making videos that explore the biases and problems within a medium in an effort to help educate others about it and affect change through that education. Akin to the articles on this very site that point out problematic statements about women being difficult to animate because they have to be pretty.

    Also, a kickstarted indie game is not exactly a big competition for the global industry making games with budgets that rival blockbuster films. Plus, not everybody is a game developer who can make a good game with the money they could get from a Kickstarter.

  • http://keveak.deviantart.com/ Kristina Viggers

    Much agreed, Fizzii did not seem racist or apologetic at all. Seems like a very nice person, actually. : )

    Kind of wondering how one would get the idea that it was about not being able to make brown colours from it, though. The screenshots are right in the article, showing plenty of brown colours…

  • Eric Xin

    “I was referring to the developers and leaders of companies that you were talking about who wouldn’t make games for people they avoided in their youth (ie. women). If they think that way, that is plainly bigoted.”

    Question, do you think Gamers avoided women, or women avoided gamers? Playing video games isn’t a vow of Chasity you know? We don’t instantly turn into monks that say EWWWW WOMEN AWAY SATAN Spawn. The Gamers of the 80s and 90s became devs now grew up meeting women who made fun of their hobbies, not the other way around. If you want blame, blame your mother’s generation for choosing the Football player over the comp-sci wiz.

    “Also, Anita Sarkeesian dis not ban arguments, she disabled comments as a result of harassment. The difference being that she has the right to not accept comments on her own videos and do not even have the power to ban people on Youtube or Twitter.”

    Yet funny enough only the harassment words are kept, true, real arguments are all disabled. Anita can always find sexist trolls but ignore coherent arguments.

    “It is a symptom of a misogynist society…”

    You can’t blame everything on misogyny. It is like Asian guys claiming they are not wanted because they are usually soft-spoken and not muscle packed. Women always tell me I would be more attractive if I had a laser surgery to take off my glasses, pump more muscle in the gym, and re-incarnate as something other than a thin-yellow-skinned Chinese.

    Does this mean it is a woman’s fault for not finding a Asian guy attractive? Not really. You can’t change free will. If I like a slim girl, then I like a slim girl. You can’t “force” men (or women) to like something. Developers are not going to blow multi-million dollars studio budget to put a overweight/muscle bound woman as a main character just to satisfy some small % of the population that might like that character.

    “Plenty have done that. What Anita Sarkeesian is doing, however, is being an educator. She is making videos that explore the biases and problems within a medium in an effort to help educate others about it and affect change through that education. Akin to the articles on this very site that point out problematic statements about women being difficult to animate because they have to be pretty.”

    What Anita Sarkeesian is anything but a educator. She create provocative videos, then cherry pick the worst comments possible (It is the internet), then use it to shame the entire male gaming population as sexist monsters.

    If would be akin for me to create a ton of videos on Romance novels and Twilight chick flicks, then claim women misogynist for having total unrealistic expectation of men. Not all of us after all, are endowed with six pacs and sparkly and what not.

    Then I silence all the comments and choose a few random awful quotes to justify my point of view. How does that look? That is what Anita is doing.

    “Also, a kickstarted indie game is not exactly a big competition for the global industry making games with budgets that rival blockbuster films. Plus, not everybody is a game developer who can make a good game with the money they could get from a Kickstarter.”

    So what? Some of the greatest gaming companies in the world began as shoestring operations with six guys in a basement somewhere (See: Blizzard). There is nothing stopping six girls with laptops putting up shop somewhere, especially in the App world. Angry Bird was made with 70,000 pounds and 4 Devs. I have seen Text-based simulator games on Android that turned a nice profit using seed low as $4,000. In contrast, Anita got 150K making her little videos, and did nothing to endear anyone to her cause.

    If there are women out there who love gaming, then they need to step up and prove it.

  • http://keveak.deviantart.com/ Kristina Viggers

    “Question, do you think Gamers avoided women, or women avoided gamers?”

    You said:

    ‘Anyway, long story cut short, you can see why male devs, who grew up in the 80s or 90s, who are now in charge of gaming companies, aren’t usually building a product designed to a group of people they spent their teenage year hiding from :P’

    I assumed hiding and avoiding was mostly the same thing. I personally don’t see gamers as avoiding women, as I am both. Bit difficult to hide from myself.

    “blame your mother’s generation for choosing the Football player over the comp-sci wiz.”

    Don’t actually know anyone of that generation who did that, nor anyone who played much football. Also, I don’t blame generations of women for societal trends about who they’re supposed to want to date as teens. I do blame grown adults who should know that it is nonsense, though.

    “What Anita Sarkeesian is anything but a educator. She create provocative videos, then cherry pick the worst comments possible (It is the internet), then use it to shame the entire male gaming population as sexist monsters.”

    Provocative? They’re 101 videos exploring tropes in a medium. I’ve seen people who’ve said that they thought it was unnecessarily basic until they saw the reactions.

    Also, it is by this point old news that there is a huge, statistically evident, problem of women receiving many, many more threats and abuse online, particularly when speaking about feminism, than men. Even if rape- and death-threats were just a feature of the internet, that would not make them any less vile or oppressive. In fact, it would just mean it’s an even bigger issue.

    Plus, Anita never stated that male gamers are by default sexist monsters, just that there has been threats, cybermobs and Wiki vandalism directed at her as a reaction to the Kickstarter.

    “f would be akin for me to create a ton of videos on Romance novels and Twilight chick flicks, then claim women misogynist for having total unrealistic expectation of men. Not all of us after all, are endowed with six pacs and sparkly and what not.”

    You could critique the romance genre of novels for having problematic tropes that reinforce gender stereotypes and unrealistic expectations (Anita herself has done so), though you can’t blame women for it any more than Anita blames men for anything. Which is not at all. Seriously, I rewatched the latest Feminist Frequency video to see if she ever says anything about men being to blame for anything. She states numerous times that something ‘is done’, ‘is marked’ or similar terms, but never that any specific group beyond ‘society’ is to blame for doing it.

    “So what? Some of the greatest gaming companies in the world began as shoestring operations with six guys in a basement somewhere (See: Blizzard). There is nothing stopping six girls with laptops putting up shop somewhere, especially in the App world. Angry Bird was made with 70,000 pounds and 4 Devs. I have seen Text-based simulator games on Android that turned a nice profit using seed low as $4,000. In contrast, Anita got 150K making her little videos, and did nothing to endear anyone to her cause.”

    And many many people tried the same and did not become successful, as is evident by there not being thousands upon thousands of rivals to Blizzard who started the same way. Just because some small group of people who had the time, money and other resources to make games succeeded does not mean any more than the fact that Apple started in a garage. Also, Angry Birds was made by Rovio Entertainment as their 52nd game (in collaboration with Chillingo), so it really isn’t a very good example. I’d certainly be making games that tried to avoid these tropes if I had a game company that big (and the much more than four people working on it that Wikipedia lists).

  • Eric Xin

    Didn’t even notice until now. And I am Chinese. I would love to see more games/movies with a Asian guy that is not coming out of Japan or Hong Kong, or a Asian girl not being used as “the white guy’s boyfriend.”

    But that does not mean a 8 Bit video game has to be held to the same standard as a multi-million dollars production.

  • Eric Xin

    I am going to have to cut short my reply for the day, got a ton of projects crushing down on me.

    1) Most of the experiences I described (I.E Football players vs Comp sci boy) happened in the US. Your culture may vary. But U.S is also cradle to some of the largest gaming companies out there.

    2) On Anita: I probably would need more time for a nuanced response, But what you may see as unoffensive might be received differently by others.

    3) On Blizzard: Actually, I see thousands upon thousands of competitors for blizzard right now. Looking at my Steam Collection, I have games from 120 devs, some I don’t even plan to play but I support the Dev for a charming idea. I have 20 Games on Vita, I have 45 on my smartphone and another 30 on my Samsung Pad.

    They are all competing for my dollars and time of day. I have Starcraft 2 installed….which I have not played in months. I played Hearthstone for two weeks, gave Blizzard $20 in cards…but I don’t plan to do it again.

    You don’t need to be Blizzard to compete with Blizzard. All you need is to make a innovative product, and it begin from there.

    4) On you: Good for you. That is what I like to see. I like to see “YOU” of this world.

    5) Internet rape-Frankly, it really depends. Does the person who said raped actually target a woman? Is the person who said it a man? With the veil of internet, who knows? When I used to play online games, I often seen ppl type “GG RAPED” at the end of the game, but I have strong doubts any of them are real rapists. If there is a specific threat, then it is up to the police to investigate. Unless you want to censor the entire internet, there isn’t much to do.