In 1993, when Sega of America came calling, Michealene Cristini Risley had been growing increasingly concerned at the lack of female representation in games and animation. “I’d spent a lot of time in L.A. and Hollywood,” she says, referring to her job doing production and licensing in Marvel’s animation unit, “and I’d just noticed, particularly when I was working in kids television, that there were not a lot of roles for female [actors/characters].” The roles she did see tended to be ancillary. Insignificant. And the games world that she was poised to enter seemed to be even worse. There were token female characters like Ms. Pac-Man and the occasional damsel in distress — a princess or girlfriend that needed saving — and scarcely anything else. But she recognized that at Sega, as head of its new Entertainment & Consumer Products division, she might be able to do something about it. Empowered by the company’s aggressive … [Read more...] about What happened when Sega courted female players in the mid-’90s
New most interesting man in the world commercial
The photo is black and white, and slightly soft-focused. There are eight people dressed in black, lounging together in front of a paint-splattered roll of tarp. Their faces are young and rock star serious. They could be actors or musicians, but they're not. They're game developers - or 'software artists' as the accompanying text would have it. The image is part of an advertising campaign for the fledging publisher Electronic Arts - and accompanying the photo are two possible slogans depending on where the ad was placed. One says 'We see farther', the other, much more memorably, is 'Can a computer make you cry?' This was how EA advertised itself in 1983. Nowadays, asking 'can a video game make you cry' has become a cliché, a joke - it's up there with 'when will games have their Citizen Kane moment' and the dreaded 'are games art' on the list of eye-rolling questions thrown by the mainstream media at narcissistic creative directors (and vice versa). But this was the beginning of … [Read more...] about Seeing farther: the advert that changed the games industry
Note on spoilers: This article references the ending of 2013’s Tomb Raider reboot and 2015’s Rise of the Tomb Raider. Specific references to Shadow of the Tomb Raider’s ending appear towards the end of this piece, at which point we include a clear spoiler warning. Shadow of the Tomb Raider has many qualities and many faults, but its biggest problem is an absence of Lara Croft. The game stars a protagonist called Lara Croft, but she’s not really there. She’s been replaced by a shell, with a messy amalgam of impulses and short-term desires. The game’s reviews arrived on Monday, loaded with significant criticism aimed at the story as a whole. Critics rightly point out that the tale loses itself in a maze of its own making, seeking to address the series’ reliance on offensive notions of Western cultural superiority, while nakedly exploiting the very same ideas. Shadow of the Tomb Raider is much the same experience as we’ve played in the … [Read more...] about The mysterious disappearance of Lara Croft
Chaos thrives at the heart of The Dark Knight. From the movie’s opening heist that introduced its iconic take on a classic villain, to the endless debate of Joker’s “unstoppable force” meeting Batman’s “immovable object,” The Dark Knight presented one of the darkest and most engaging film adaptations of Batman that we’ve ever seen, and ten years on from its release, still reverberates as a peak film in the landscape of comic book movies. Originally released on July 18th, 2008, this week has officially marked ten years since the release of The Dark Knight, director Christopher Nolan’s seminal superhero film that has certainly grown in reverence since the time of its release. In the current era of superhero movies being dominated largely by the efforts of Marvel and their ever-expanding Cinematic Universe, it’s interesting to look back and reflect on a time before all comic book movies were beholden to being part … [Read more...] about The Dark Knight Was a Landmark Superhero Movie, But Its Video Game Never Saw Release
Last week Monolith released an official statement announcing that as of 17th July, Shadow of War will no longer contain microtransactions. Buying Gold with real money will be gone for good on 8th May, and a couple of months later the market which erstwhile sold item chests, XP boosts and orcs for the Nemesis system will be dismantled completely. Apparently buying those orcs, rather than earning them in-game, "risked undermining the heart of our game," said Monolith, six months down the road from implementing that marketplace. Six months ago the press was saturated with headlines about a new wave of intrusive microtransactions. Communities expressed their outrage, share prices dropped, oceans turned blood red. Now it's increasingly populated by news of their subsequent removal. If it wasn't for fear of having one's naivety etched indelibly onto internet record, the great microtransaction withdrawal movement of 2017/18 might be enough for one to proclaim that the practice was dead. The … [Read more...] about Has the games industry turned tail on microtransactions?