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Mother Zero

april 26, 2013

I missed the Earthbound hype at the time of its release so I was a bit surprised to find how little dialogue the main cast actually had when Bear and I decided to pass it together (I swear, Jeff has like only two lines of dialogue throughout the whole game not including the ending). The characters seem to get so much love from fans despite this lack which I found very interesting. I guess it all boils down to imagination and how much power there can be behind the concept of not giving too much information and leaving some things open to the audience's interpretation.

I think imagination is one of the biggest strengths sprite and text based games probably have over most polygon games as a player. As technology advances and stream lined games become more high def and cinematic, they end up losing a lot of a quality that can make the journey more personal to its players. -not to say that games with beautiful design are a step down from simpler games, but there's definitely seems to be a trade off.

Courtesy of: Konjak Fanart artist Anokorok
Click for source.

*edit* Oh hey. This is kinda, like, REAL TALK. So if you want, you can check out the comic first for some light-hearted humor (we hope) and then come back here for the junk that's on my mind that might have some good points. Or angles. Or arcs. Whatever geometry you want, really.

Hey Internet. Come here for a sec, would ya? Can we have a chat? Not like...THE chat...but it does have to do with growing up.

Listen; Dragon's Crown and it's distinct art style has been drawing a lion's share of controversy and discussion about the heated need and desire for strong, real girls that aren't over-sexualized, especially as leads. You know - characters like Ramona Flowers, Samus Aran, Gwendolyn, Lenneth, Lightning, Faith Connors, Jolyne Cujoh, and what look to be Jodie Holmes and Robin are prominent ones that come to mind.

And yes, there needs to be more of that. For us guy gamers, we should be applauding and heralding the games that will get more women playing video games. In this way, we can cultivate a more interesting and diverse game-o-sphere as those passionate female gamers in our community become directive narrators and game devs of their own stories. If nothing else, so our female friends, girlfriends, wives, sisters and daughters can find the same passion we see in games.

Zelda: Clockwork Empire by Aaron Diaz epitomizes this very push. While I enjoy the concept, I would prefer something akin to the "We are each of us angels with one wing. We can only fly embracing each other" concept. Imagine an inclusive dual-hero scenario where Zelda and Link would share the spotlight, each harnessing different yet equally powerful abilities that culminate in the combination of Courage and Wisdom in a climactic double take down of Power. I actually feel like Tim Schafer/Double Fine is already going down a similar narrative path with Broken Age, but it's early to say and I digress.

Now let's talk about the current controversy. Jason Schreier (Kotaku) wrote an article calling out the Dragon's Crown art style as being done by a 14-year old, which was insulting. George Kamitani (Vanillaware Creative Director, President) responded with what boiled down and was interpreted to be a gay joke, which was appalling. Christian Nutt (Gamasutra) perhaps read a little too deeply into it, feeling hurt and betrayed without engaging Kamitani in discussion (which may have been impossible, but these things get around, as has been shown) and Ben Kuchera (PA Report) had some takeaways that are oddly dismissive of Kamitani's other strong female designs. Sadly, and all too often, pejoratives are being used to diminish or be dismissive of one another.

We are starting to see many gamers who want to shoehorn their vision of the perfect game into every game published, especially those done by major studios, which is frankly more than a little silly. This is readily apparent in Ben's article as he pined about wanting Dragon's Crown to be the adventure game he can play with his daughter. Jim Sterling had a great retort to the clamoring of "too much violence" in regards to Bioshock Infinite that I feel discusses this phenomenon nicely.

As gamers, passion runs through us and that's great. It's also wonderful that we are ardent about change and progress. We want to protect and nurture an art form that is fundamental to our core, our identity, and as such we want revolutionary new ideas and avenues for us to express and experience the things that matter to us. However, we need to make better use of that good intention by reeling in the disdain for works that don't live up to what we want in our media, games and otherwise.

Courtesy of: Social Work and the City
Click for source.

There are little bits of wisdom all around for us to draw on. Auntie Pixelante wrote so eloquently in her Ghandi derived web page title: "We must make the games we wish to play in the world". A follower of Mike (Gabe of PA) tweeted "We need LESS of this gender alientation in this industry, not MORE" in regards to Dragon's Crown, to which Gabe replied: "I disagree. I think we need more art not less. I'm fine with more types of art but the answer is never less art" These precious bits of wisdom are all around us; it is thus up to us to be receptive to them.

We all make mistakes. We aren't born knowing tolerance, understanding and compassion. As we grow up, we learn them through life's lessons, of which we have to understand that some are recipients of said lessons at different times in life. We all have the capacity, but the use of pejoratives against people and marginalizing their opinions, preferences or work seriously hinder their ability, and more importantly their desire, to become empathetic, accepting or tolerant of broader social issues. Just like a well written character, you have to endear them to the reader in order for them to care about their plight. Hint: politeness, decency and respect go a long way. Humor helps immensely.

So next time you want to call someone, or even simply use the words: flaming hippopotamus, creepy anachronistic leopard, slovenly meerkat or attention seeking groundhog, hold your tongue (literally) and think about how that may impact their receptiveness, comfort and openness. It's healthy to discuss, but there is no need to badmouth contrary views. Use that energy to go out and find the creators of works you enjoy and cheer them on. Tell them you appreciate what they do. High five them on Twitter and blog about what makes you excited about their work. Spread the love and find your happiness instead of giving so much energy to the works that don't suit your tastes, all of which have a right to exist and are their own unique expressions.

In the end, let's all be a bit more thick skinned, more considerate, less reactionary and more contemplative, more open-minded, and make a lot less assumptions. Let people be themselves, especially if you can't or don't understand them. Let's also work toward being a lot more tolerant of each other's faults and mistakes and allow for room for forgiveness; were all just human after all. Well...Except me. I'm a Bear. Now get out of here ya little scamp! Let's get back to having fun and playing some video games!

Mother Zero

april 26, 2013