Wednesday, 31 December 2014

My First Flash Game - "My Dinner With Jonathan"

Part of the game design course I'm enrolled on is learning how to make games using Flash, so earlier this month, I made a short game to practice coding (basic stuff like changing frames and triggering animations). As I mentioned in my last blog post, over the past couple of months, Jonathan McIntosh -- producer of the Feminist Frequency Tropes vs Women in Video Games series -- has been getting a lot more attention on Twitter for his often bizarre statements. That led to the "#FullMcIntosh" hashtag being used to describe some of his most ridiculous tweets. He's gradually stopped being a behind-the-scenes figure and has become more prominent, to the point of appearing in a Feminist Frequency video himself.

So naturally, I decided that my game should parody Jonathan McIntosh.

I explain a lot about the reasons behind the game on the "About" screen but basically, my criticism of the Tropes vs Women series has been ignored. Everyone's criticism of the TvsW series has been ignored, unless it's very easy to dismiss (as was the case with Doug Walker in August 2013). Yet the views of McIntosh and Sarkeesian, as flawed, unproven and blatantly untrue as they are, still receive recognition in game journalism circles. With that in mind, I've joined everyone else who's said "screw it" and decided that parody is a far better way of raising an objection than scrutinising every line of a Tropes vs Woman video.

I actually put more of an effort into it than you might think; I trawled McIntosh's timeline and the #FullMcIntosh hashtag for some of the most ridiculous things he's written and many of them were so ludicrous that I could put them into the game unaltered. Others were exaggerated slightly and a few were entirely fabricated (which meant I had to think like McIntosh. It was arduous). I made a list of actual Jonathan McIntosh statements and highlighted the ones that ended up in the game in some form or another:

Left-click for larger view.
Bear in mind that this is my first Flash game ever, so I'm pretty happy with how it turned out overall. As you can probably tell, I'm not much of an artist but coding-wise, I learned plenty from it.

However, if you want a far more fun parody, about a week after I posted my game on Twitter, someone posted a link to a game called "Vivtest - Xmas Edition". If you're familiar with #GamerGate, it features a lot of references to figures who are, apparently, opposed to more ethical behaviour from game journalists. And yes, Jonathan McIntosh makes an appearance as well.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Tekken's Lucky Chloe - Not Coming to the US?

Three days ago, a new character was announced for Tekken 7. If you're familiar with Japanese idols, the new character, Lucky Chloe, appears to draw a lot of inspiration from them; her fun, unique outfit, bubbly personality and slightly forced use of English phrases ("Engrish") is somewhat reminiscent of idol stereotypes.

She looks like a fun character. Her moveset is entertaining to watch and, in my opinion, her outfit and personality both have a ton of charm.

Yet at the moment, there's a rumour going around that due to fan complaints, Lucky Chloe isn't going to be released in the U.S. Only Europe and Asia.

Because this is a rumour, it may be debunked in a few days and this will all become a moot point. For the time being though, it's started a conversation.

You can read TechRaptor's article on this story but basically, when the character trailer was released, there was a backlash against the character on both Youtube -- read the comments of the video above -- as well as NeoGAF and even directed at the games director, Katsuhiro Harada, on Twitter. I'll come to why this backlash occurred later on but Harada's response is the issue; responding to people bothering him on Twitter, he made the claim that Lucky Chloe would be exclusive to Europe and Asia.

I should say that I'm in Europe so even if this is true, it shouldn't affect me. Having said that, I feel bad for U.S. Tekken fans who aren't getting a character because of a vocal minority of complainers.

The complaints themselves were bafflingly varied. Some said that Lucky Chloe didn't fit in with the rest of Tekken's cast, which is ridiculous. As a long-time Tekken fan, Lucky Chloe wouldn't even be in my top ten ridiculous characters. From fighting bears, kangaroos and dinosaurs to robot girls and old men doing somersaults, Tekken's cast has always been more ludicrous than serious. The only reason we don't consider characters like Yoshimitsu and Devil more ridiculous is because they look cool.

For people making the claim that she doesn't fit in, Tekken has had cutesy, anime-esque female characters since 3. Just look at Ling Xiaoyu's Tekken 3 ending. The central Mishima family storyline and conflict is like something straight out of an anime. People acting like Lucky Chloe is a step too far seem to be making excuses. Being too "moe" or fanservice-y is not new to the series at all.

Those aren't the most worrying complaints though. Read this NeoGAF post:

Left-click to enlarge.
Once again, people have been complaining about how a female character in a game is dressed. In this case, this poster went as far as say she was only included to appeal to fetishists (specifically singling out Harada himself and claiming that's the reason for Lucky Chloe's inclusion). There's also a ton of cultural insensitivity towards Japan and Japanese gamers.

The reason I'm writing about this at all is because this is the same type of entitled attitude that we see from modern game critics. This demanding nature is becoming frighteningly common. I apologise for bringing up Anita Sarkeesian but in her case, she directed her ire at Toru Iwatani, creator of Pac-Man; in her "Ms. Male Character" video, Sarkeesian brought up Iwatani's desire to appeal to women by making a game based around food. In spite of the fact that this worked -- likely bringing more women into gaming than Anita herself ever will -- Anita referred to Iwatani's "regressive personal or cultural notions about women". Basically, saying either he or Japan as a whole had negative views about women. So either he's sexist or the entire nation is. Once again, cultural insensitivity (possibly outright xenophobia).

Another example that I think is most comparable to the Tekken 7 situation is when Kotaku's Jason Schreier lambasted Vanillaware's George Kamitani over the design of the Sorceress in Dragon's Crown. He referred to him as "a fourteen-year-old boy" and, in a follow-up article, laid the entirety of sexism towards women in the games industry at Kamitani's feet (including such issues as booth babes, yet Schreier himself had no problem dismissing male con-goers as "sweaty male attendees" and ranting about "male power fantasies"). I went over this at the time but there is no reason or excuse for insulting a developer just because you disagree with his creative direction. Again, as sexualisation is less of an issue in Japan, insulting him just because he's more used to drawing what he wants instead of what you want reeks of cultural insensitivity.

The reason I draw parallels between the situation with Harada and the Lucky Chloe critics is because after Schreier complained, Kamitani responded by posting a picture of three of the Dragon's Crown Dwarf's palette-swaps in a possibly-suggestive pose (it's a long story but I cover it in the previous paragraph's link. Schreier added to his insensitivity by branding Kamitani homophobic).

In this case, Harada has responded too and this is where I think Harada may just be playing a joke on the haters. His joke about giving the U.S. audience a "well-muscled skinhead" seems like the same kind of jab as Kamitani's towards Schreier, so don't be surprised if Lucky Chloe is included. On the other hand, his comment about the characters being region-exclusive seems sincere. It's hard to say at this point.

The point is that in the face of this kind of dogmatic insensitivity and outright bigotry towards an entire nation over something as ridiculous a female video game character that we've seen a total of 46 seconds of, who could blame Harada if he decided to take his ball and go home? He'd have every right to. In the face of insulting, entitled critics who think every game developer owes them a favour, why shouldn't he say "screw it" and do as he wants, rather than what they want? It isn't like Phil Fish, who had a Twitter blow-up every two weeks and supposedly cancelled projects left and right in the face of minor criticism, insulting sexual assault victims along the way. This is like a parent teaching his spoiled children some manners using the "'I want' never gets" phrase.

Honestly, what did the critics even think would happen? Did they believe that if they complained enough, Harada would change Lucky Chloe to suit them? Look at the entitlement on one of the comments Harada responded to: "Please add an option to delete any character you do not want to play against in Arcade battle". Did that person really expect that to happen?

I have every sympathy for American Tekken fans who wanted to play a complete version of Tekken 7 without having to import but at the same time, if this is true, it would be a good wake-up call to an entitled crowd who've never been told "no" in their lives. The same people who preach about not judging women on their attires or attitudes in real life are the same ones who love to dictate what women wear and how they act in fiction. I find that unacceptable.

UPDATE: As I was writing this, TechRaptor added a couple of updates in the article above. Still nothing concrete but it seems likely that Harada was referring only to the arcade versions of Tekken 7, rather than the console versions. Fingers crossed.


I didn't update last month, which I'd like to apologise for. Very hectic schedule but on the plus side, I'm now decent at using Adobe Flash. Trying to figure out if I could use it for this blog, somehow. If I ever make a "gender issues in gaming"-related game, I'll post it here. Unlikely though.

I have to give a big, big thank you to Milo Yiannopoulos for linking to this blog in his article "An Open Letter to Bloomberg's Sheelah Kolhatkar, on the Delicate Matter of Anita Sarkeesian" on Breitbart. I've spoken to Milo a few times on Twitter -- although I doubt he remembered me, so him linking to this blog is just a coincidence -- and he's a nice guy. Give his article a read. It's excellent and very comprehensive. At this stage, why anyone continues to give Anita the time of day is a mystery to me.

Also, thank you to the influx of visitors who've stopped by over the past month due to wanting to learn more about Jonathan McIntosh. I've only written about McIntosh a couple of times because I've never thought of him as being especially significant. However, people have become more aware of him because of his penchant for posting unusual, often-nonsensical things on Twitter (such as "we need to see some games that are not fun" because he thinks that's the only way they'll be able to have as much depth and artistic merit as other forms of entertainment). More recently, he's become known for appearing in Feminist Frequency's "25 Invisible Benefits of Gaming While Male" video, which I haven't watched but I did post a brief rebuttal to it back when McIntosh wrote it as an article.

I don't have much to add, although I'm finding it very telling that many of the items they rattled off were less about describing "gaming while male" and more involved with talking about women's experiences. McIntosh and the others in the video seemed content to speak on behalf of female gamers and tell the world what they experience. TechRaptor have another good article on this where the female contributors to the site (and other female gamers) leave their responses to the video. Watch the Youtube videos posted in the comments section too. It's eye-opening stuff.

As time has gone on, it's becoming more and more clear the social justice method of being "pro-woman" makes zero sense. They have zero interest in listening to the voices of women who say there's nothing wrong with the games industry or the gaming community. Women like Christine Phelan (Valve) and Gabrielle Toledano (EA) both work in the games industry and say the industry is nothing but welcoming towards women. Likewise, female gamers speak up regularly about feeling nothing but welcomed into gaming communities. I'm currently enrolled on a games design course and can confirm that both are the case.

So why is it that the group considered "pro-woman" are the ones engaging in scaremongering? Telling women there's nothing but horrible portrayals, sexist male "virgin basement-dwellers" to abuse them and an industry that wants to drive them out? Likewise, consider the opposite; why is it that those of us who say "these female characters are great, female developers are awesome and gaming is a great pasttime for people no matter their physical characteristics" are considered "anti-woman"? Why is driving women out of the industry considered "progressive" by these people? Because we don't stomp our feet and throw tantrums about game content?

It's too late now but I was going to write about Polygon's Bayonetta 2 review, talking about this exact thing. A great game, featuring a strong female character, designed by a woman and appreciated by women on the development team ... yet a male Polygon reviewer dismisses her as "sexualised". Apparently, strong female characters and the hard work of women is irrelevant if a guy playing it feels offended and needs to preach about how hard women have it.

Akiko Kuroda, Producer on Bayonetta 2.

Leave a comment below, follow me @TheMalesOfGames on Twitter or send an e-mail to