Sold in Translation

The one-inch-tall barrier

Warning: Once again, I am talking about colonialism. If you don’t like that, there’s a TLDR at the bottom, and while I do apologize for the continued use of the topic, I do not apologize for talking about it itself.

I’m a subs kind of gal.  And before you stop me there, I should let you know that my position once again involves colonialism. So, are you willing to go against me now?  The reasons that I have are good. So good in fact, that it may surprise you that for the same reasons, ultimately for the sake of media itself, I’m wrong.  It’s a sad, blurred line.

This is Elise and this is Game Praisers Deep Dive, where I take a researched and thought out look at topics that I feel are more difficult or interesting that require more than just a glance.  I hope that we all learn something from this, and while I don’t think my perspective is perfect, I think it should be considered.


I don’t know if you were here when Parasite by Bong Joon-Ho came out in 2019 and 2020, but it is a phenomenal film.  Kind of horror, more thriller-ish style of film.  I don’t want to say anything without spoiling it.  In fact, I recommend watching it without knowing very much.  It is rated R by the MPAA though, just in case you have kiddos around.

My point is that it is a Korean film that won an incredible amount of awards and was recognized by the audiences in the United States.  So of course a foreign film that catches the attention is going to bring up that subs and dubs war.  I always believe the original version is the best intended for something like consumable media.  And so here I’m going to say, watch it in subs.  As the director said himself, “Once you overcome the one-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”1 I think that’s very true.  Especially when it comes to acting, I think the cadence and movement of people are very important as to keeping the original feeling. 

However, I don’t like when people say subs are all superior, especially if it’s for the sake of keeping Japan-ness in things.  I know we were just talking about a Korean film but in all honesty the media of anime and video games usually concerns Japan.  I don’t want people saying “subs” to gatekeep.  That’s not the point.  It’s to preserve the cultural aspect of what it is.  Which is why I also argue the point of dubs.  

For people who can, subs are great.  But one cannot say that everyone can keep up with subtitles while watching something.  Some people struggle with things like dyslexia.  Some people are still learning to read English or whatever language they use.  For the people who are trying their best but at the moment can’t read, should have dubs.  The voice actors work very hard to try and be the characters as best as they can.  I trust them in their professionalism to do that.  So ultimately, yes, dubs are fine.  But if you can, I truly desire that you watch in subs.


This great success didn’t come with an amount of sacrifice though.  Success does not mean decolonization.  In fact, it could mean the opposite.  I mean, it’s great that things from Japan are so popular and mainstream now.  I can say that I like anime without people cringing at me now.  And yet…I can’t tell if it’s better.  I feel like there is a lot of moral licensing going around.  Once again, I’m going to outright say that it’s very possible that it just so happens to be in my gaming spheres.  So forgive me if this is just a bad coincidence.  

Moral licensing is kind of like tokenism.  The idea that because we accepted something about this foreign culture, we can now be lenient towards it afterwards.  It means we’re allowed to be a little more racist because we’ve accepted anime.  Obviously that is not the way, but I still see it in clubs and groups today.  Accepting culture is more than just saying you watched anime.  It’s more than just saying “baka”.  You can’t turn around and start making fun of Japanese food methods or traditional cultural beliefs just because you “know more” about Japan now / watch anime.  It just doesn’t work that way.


In Carlson and Corliss’ article about video game localization they start off talking about someone wanting to “be” Japanese.  It is completely fine to want to integrate yourself into a different community, especially if you come to an understanding of the cultural implications.  Not necessarily an acceptance, but an understanding. But “being” Japanese isn’t just about consuming the culture either.  It’s all the negatives and racism that comes with it.  It’s the baggage of the bad things your culture has done as well.  If you’re taking only the good things to be “foreign”, that’s colonialism.  Sometimes it’s literally that exoticism that attracts people though.2

Do you know what we did as Asians in the nineties in the USA?  A lot of us fought back at learning our own languages.  Especially those who were born in the United States and are not off the boat.  And a lot of us regret not learning our own languages now, because now it’s a nice attribute.  We colonized ourselves to try and fit in.  And now in a weird turnabout way, it’s kind of happening again, but in exoticism. There are entire videos on Youtube dedicated to this.3 And I agree, it’s not entirely the people’s fault.  It’s us trying to fit in again as well.


All this.  All this to bring me to the point as to why I’m wrong about subs, and why people would rather things get lost in translation.  I want subs because I want foreignization.  Foreignization is when things are purposely left in their cultural meaning to try and maintain what it was before.4  I want people to have to make an effort to be familiar and understanding to consume these things, not as gatekeeping, but as encouragement.  I said effort, not qualification.  

Foreignization is most commonly seen as transliteration in names.  An example is in Genshin, where some names are left as is: Xiangling, Liyue, Tatarasuna.  But games aren’t about making you learn new cultures.  I’m sorry.  That’s the truth.  Games are localized, and sometimes that’s a very good thing.  Bear with me here.  I always have a teddy bear or plush nearby.  But that phrase grouping would not have worked in another language, right?  Puns and wordplay just don’t work.  One of my favorite examples is in Genshin where Hu Tao’s ultimate is a phrase of “吃飽喝飽,一路走好!”, which is like “Eat well, drink well, journey well.”  But the cadence, rhythm, and wording is extremely difficult to combine in English, so in English she says, “Time to go!”  A lot of Hu Tao’s playfulness is lost in translation.  Although not the best used here, most people would use transcreation to maintain that feeling.

Transcreation is when new content is created in order to try and maintain the character, while localizing it so it still makes sense.  “In game localisation, the feeling of the original ‘gameplay experience’ needs to be preserved in the localised version so that all players share the same enjoyment regardless of their language of choice.”5  Sometimes that kind of content is needed.  It’s ultimately too complicated to leave content foreign.  People buy games to play the content to be enjoyed in the language they want.  

Oh yeah.  I forgot.

People buy games to play content.


Because in the end.  This is about consumerism.  Localization isn’t just here to maintain the experience, it’s to sell the game to their targeted language audience.  Unless the game is about teaching you about understanding cultural context or something, that’s not the point.  This is why no matter how much I would like people to watch Parasite in Korean, ultimately, as a movie people are there to watch a movie.  They’re not here to learn about the nuances of Korean speech.

I’m wrong because I want people to use these pieces of media as a springboard to guide them to new cultures and understandings.  And that’s just not what people do unless they already had that inclination to begin with.  There are developers who want cultural understanding and considerations of perspective, but if it’s not a fun enough game the only people who buy the game are the ones who already wanted understanding.  They’re preaching to the choir.

Can we change minds?  We can.  But we can only change minds by changing ideas of what is already being ignored.  Genshin’s presentation of Chinese opera was well received, but I don’t know if it changed any minds.  It brought to light a new style of opera that many people didn’t know about.  It simply didn’t exist yet, but that won’t change the minds of people who will act ethnocentric.  It won’t change people from recognizing privilege.  It just removes ignorance.

Interest for the sake of understanding is just not a good selling point.  And that’s why all of this doesn’t feel like it has changed as much as I’d have hoped.  People understand things and references more, but I feel like these are things thrown at the process of acceptance or denial for a person’s opinions.  It’s not something to make them question whether or not they’re acting with privilege.  

Globalization of products has changed things, but it’s not fast enough.  I met with someone making their own anime now.  They’re not Japanese, and that’s fine, but they’re also the same person that has some pretty negative, and I dare say colonialist, viewpoints of Japan, which is not fine.  In fact…that’s colonialism.  They took something from another country, made it theirs, and do not respect the origins of it.  

And…it almost doesn’t feel wrong, because the point of it is to sell products.  It’s to sell media.  I think I may have been using energy on this tide that pushes me back and sometimes I wonder if it’s worth it.  Some people in the gaming group are saying this is just the way it is.  They’re all white people from the United States.  Am I just trying to be a justice warrior?  Should I ignore it all?  It’s all about selling, so why should I care?  


…I feel like I keep standing on this soapbox and I’m sure most people tire of this, which makes sense.  Elise, why can’t you stop talking about this?  Why do you always bring this up?  Because every single day I have to deal with it, so it’s rather difficult to not have it on my mind.  

…maybe this whole Deep Dive stuff is just me ranting.  Ugh, I apologize.  I really do want people to see the nuances that are more than just senpai and memes.  I just want people to see that cultures are more than just memes and jokes.  Maybe that’s what I should’ve just said.  Hold on.

TLDR: I just want people to see that cultures are more than just memes and jokes.

Or maybe I just need new communities to talk to about games.  Too bad my communities are anonymous discord people.

Thanks for reading, and I PROMISE the next deep dive will not be about racism, colonialism, or ethnocentrism.6  It’ll just be about media.

Elise

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mX3obZ0lXoU
  2. Carlson, R., & Corliss, J. (2011). Imagined Commodities: Video Game Localization and Mythologies of Cultural Difference. Games and Culture, 6(1), 61–82. https://doi.org/10.1177/1555412010377322
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNkZIJkXI6g
  4. Cai, Mengge. (2022). Translation of Culture-loaded Words and Cross-cultural Communication from the Perspective of Domestic Games. SHS Web of Conferences. 148. 10.1051/shsconf/202214801025. 
  5. Mangiron, Carme & O’Hagan, Minako. (2006). Game Localisation: Unleashing Imagination with ‘Restricted’ Translation. JOURNAL OF SPECIALISED TRANSLATION. 6. 
  6. Unless you want that.

Patch Notes Ver 2022.11.22

Quick updates

Hey guys, this is Patch Notes. Short updates on my life. I need to post this because I haven’t been very active lately. I’ve been dealing with some very difficult social stuff that has impacted my emotional and mental health pretty heavily.

United States’ Thanksgiving is also this week, so I’ll be busy with that, and I have a major art project that is due at the end of the month.

I hope you guys liked that long post that I did. The most recent one about discovering myself. I’m going to be doing more research focused posts that will be long, and a tiny bit more serious. Let me know if you enjoy them! However, I must let you know that these research posts take significantly more time and so they will be infrequent. I also will continue doing the normal stuff like “Why I Love” and other smaller stuff that are more personal and fun though.

I hope you’re all doing well and staying safe. Just wanted to let you know I’m not dead and what I’m working on.

Games I’m playing at the moment: Final Fantasy VIII (still, it was paused for spooky month), Warhammer 40,000: Darktide, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (also paused for spooky month)

More Complicated Than I Could Imagine

It’s all coming together.

Spoilers for: Genshin Impact, moderate, late game.

I think I finally figured it out.  My approach to video games.  “Oh no, Elise, not this again.”  Stop, wait!  For real this time!  I think I got it.  This is going to be a long post, because it’s…well, more complicated than I could imagine.  


I want to mention something about the beginning of this journey that I’ve been on in video games. Even previously through all of that I could not pinpoint exactly what I meant by all that I said.   I’ve talked about games that I played often, and I’ve talked about some of the political aspects of video games that affected me

In a terrible, incorrect, and biased way, I originally thought this was a difference in East vs West mindsets.  But that’s obviously not true. And let’s be honest, that’s a pretty racist way of me to think.  It was wrong.  However, it was not true in an unfortunate way.  The people that I interacted with that had stronger backgrounds from East Asia still had conflicts with the way I view video games.  Conflicts that drove me away.  More importantly, it’s about the way I approach them and how I can interact with other video gamers.  When a perspective you have comes in conflict with the way that you can interact with the general community, do you still feel like a part of it?


I then thought, it’s the spoilers.  It is me not wanting any spoilers. Studies do show that spoilers don’t really ruin it for most people.1  For most people.  I am, whether for good or not, one of those people.  It does however, matter where the spoilers are placed.  If they’re in the actual story itself apparently that really does affect it.  But if presented in advance, yeah it doesn’t matter for the majority of people.2

I hate spoilers.  I saw The Lord of the Rings movies last year in January.  But, man, if it wasn’t shrouded by the memes of today, I think it would’ve been even more epic.  Instead, there were some parts that were funny.  I don’t think it detracted from the experience of enjoyment.  I do like a good laugh, but something about it always stings looking back.  Maybe it’s…a feeling of missing out?  Missing out on a feeling I will never have the opportunity for again.

The thing about the feeling of missing out is the time we have to spend on catching up.  We’ve all played that game before whether it’s because of Netflix, a February in gaming, or an influx of new content from a convention’s announcements.  We have to catch up with the neighbor who has that new, cool blender.  If they have that blender it’s not going to change your experience.  In fact, when you watch them use that blender, you know for a fact your experience will be just as awesome and just as smoothie.  …I’m so sorry.

But catching up in media and entertainment is different than catching up to your neighbor’s appliances.  If you watch someone else watch a movie, assuming we’re not looking at the screen, that’s not the same thing as watching the movie itself.  Watching someone play through a game is more accurate to the blender theory, because you and the player are experiencing the game firsthand.  It’s like watching a movie with them.  But having someone tell you the experience is telling the game, film, or book in a way unintended by the creators.  I’m not here to watch the rugby game outside the stadium.  I’m here to watch the rugby game.

And that can be argued against as well.  But the point is from my perspective, it ruins it.  I want the original of what the creators intended or published.  And in the end that doesn’t even matter.  Why?  Because that’s not the problem with my perspective.  That isn’t it.  Although it is a bit because I feel like a nuisance when people can’t talk about what they want around me if they don’t want to spoil it.  Ultimately I don’t think that is what makes it so hard for me to get along with the video gaming community.  Obviously I appreciate when people spoiler tag things, because it means they’re being considerate, but there’s something one step further that I feel like I finally identified as the biggest chasm that separates me from the rest of the others.  It feels like I’m saying, “I’m not like other girls”.  I’m so sorry about that, but don’t worry just because I’m separated doesn’t mean I’m better or anything. 


I can’t be upset at characters.  At least not in the way I see other gamers do.  The characters are real people. I’m not asking people to think that way.  That’s ridiculous.  Some people find me treating them like real people ridiculous, and in some ways I feel like their perspective is justified.  But I don’t know what these characters are going through behind the scenes.  Literally, behind the cinema scenes.  I can’t be upset because Ayaka wore socks in Genshin Impact while she was standing in the stream in that one scene.  That means developers, real humans, would have to take more time changing the models.  Time that, if spent on something like that even if they wanted to, could be an inefficiency mark for them.  It might make them look like they’re not doing what they’re supposed to be doing.  It really depends on how loose the art director is.  It also depends on what Ayaka was thinking at the time.  Was it spontaneous?  Was she too nervous to think about it?  

If you look on YouTube you’ll find that a lot of people seem appreciative of the dance.  Even if this is a comment that is going to be plastered on the internet for however long, there are a lot of them.  But I’ve never run into someone who feels like this for most games.  In fact, I’ve never run into one in my Genshin community.  I get told that these people exist, and yeah, I see them right here on YouTube, but in every video game group that I join I feel none of that for different games.

Whenever I bring up that scene to the other Genshin players in my group, their first thing to bring up is making fun of her socks because she was wearing them while standing in the water.  But in the context of the story, I think it’s so graceful, genuine, and peaceful.  The dance, I mean.  The dance that she does for you.  The dance that she is apprehensive to show anyone else, but she shows it to you.  I don’t think I can look back on the experience and think, “Ha, she’s wearing socks in the water.”  I always think, “I am so grateful that she was willing to share that with me.”  Too cheesy?  But that’s just the thing.  Why does it sound like they have to make an excuse to recognize that part of the story?  “Oh yeah, I guess so.”  “But I mean…”  “Why didn’t they just…”  It goes on.

I don’t know.  I’m also not Ayaka.  Maybe one day the developers will update it so she takes off her socks one day.  I don’t know.  I’m not the developers.  I do know that in the culmination of all things technical from the developers, and all things ethereal, spiritual, and fantastical even, from Ayaka, I am grateful for that heartfelt moment she gave.

And that’s where the difference lies.  


When people approach and consume media, it’s a service.  I pay you, you entertain me.  But for me, I’m here to learn to respect this new world.  I’m not here as a VIP to be served, I’m here as a sociologist to learn what I can to understand.  This approach is the same I have for everyone in real life.  In cultures, societies, families, I am the visitor.  I am the guest.  I don’t touch things I shouldn’t touch.  I don’t do things I shouldn’t do.  Sometimes my beliefs may conflict, but in the context of things, I need to be willing to take a step back and realize, this is a different world.  And mayhap you think it silly, but it’s the same for video games.

So yeah, I do feel bad if you think someone in a game is stupid, because to me, they’re someone that’s real.  If a concept of lore is dumb, well, guess what?  Those characters have to live in that world.  And if you’re paying for the game as service, that game has failed you.  And it makes sense.  If you’re playing specific characters  just for the numbers to be bigger than anyone else’s, great.  If the reward isn’t good enough you’re not going to aid the village?  Elise, they’re not real.

Sorry, and in most people’s eyes, yes.  You’re totally, totally right.  The people in the pixels on my screen are not going to come to my aid when I am being mugged or I am in financial need.  My therapist says my approach is just that I’m being extremely considerate.  But does that make everyone else’s approach inconsiderate?

I don’t think so.

Sometimes respect isn’t a single road.  Sometimes it is.  And in this case I’m willing to bet that there is more than one road, I’m just not driving on it.  But when one version is wielded as a way to look down on another, that’s when it is a problem, not the perspective itself.  That’s another big mistake in thought I made. It’s not that other people with this technical or service based mindset are bad.  They’re not.  It’s when it is wielded against me that is the problem.  I am constantly feeling shut down in the communities because I feel they talk harshly about other people, and by people I mean the characters in a game.  But they don’t notice that.  It’s silly for me to think that.

It’s not that these people are rude.  At least I’m going to assume they’re not, unless the reason they don’t like a character is for something severe like racism.  It’s that the boundaries of this bubble of respect that I’ve created have become so inflated that in order to accept this perspective, that boundary is going to be rubbed the wrong way.  And the spoiler thing just feels like an echo of this that exacerbates that.


The problem with taking perspectives like these is that there are sacrifices to be made.  And even those sacrifices can be seen as problematic to those around you.  They think it facetious, stupid, or pretentious for taking it this far.  And in most cases I don’t blame them.  

People in the gaming community that I’m in are not rude.  They’re not wrong.  They’re not inconsiderate or disrespectful.  It’s just that they have a different view of things, and with the sacrifices I’ve made to have the perspective that I feel best provides the fun and appreciation for games, I have to accept that this is the result of that.  They’re going to be breaking those boundaries, and usually it’s not their fault, it’s mine, because I actually want this.  

I sincerely am grateful if you’ve actually read all of this.  It’s very likely that our perspectives on this differ.  Don’t make yourself feel bad if it’s not the same as mine.  Or don’t make me feel bad because of mine, trust me, I’ve gotten that my whole life.  I just want people to be introspective and realize that, excluding dangerous or inappropriate extremes that can harm other people, your perspective of video gaming is likely not wrong.  It just is, there are aspects of it that are very likely joyous to you, and sometimes it exists because of things within the realms of what is more complicated than we can imagine.  

And that’s okay. We’ll figure it out.

Thanks for reading.  I’ll see you next time.

Elise

  1. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0956797611417007
  2. https://www.livescience.com/53126-spoilers-can-ruin-movie-enjoyment.html#:~:text=Johnson%20was%20quick%20to%20add%20that%20the%20study,your%20experience%20with%20the%20story%2C%20the%20researchers%20learned

I’m Concerned for You VR

Do you want me to leave the door open or closed?

I’ve been thinking about this over the past year.  I’ve always been a bit concerned about VR.  Initially, I didn’t like VR.  I mean, the concept I absolutely love.  It’s a very typical gaming dream, but there are always a few things that always make me reconsider what VR is like for everyone.

I was always worried because I wear glasses, but that concern was easily thrown out the window since many devices’ official releases.  I’m not too worried about that now.  I was also worried about feeling sick from the movement, but that’s also a lesser concern now for me.  However, that’s not always a small concern for everyone else.  Some people will not be able to get over it very easily, and moreover some people may not even be able to control that.  It’s like how some people feel sick on airplanes or boats.  I don’t blame them for how their body reacts to such things.  I think that may be an oft forgotten concern that really does affect a few people.


The two biggest concerns I have though are the ones that are definitely more of an effect on people as a whole.  

The first thing is just plain access to VR.  I’ve seen VR arcades and shops that are entirely set up for VR.  It’s that expensive and unwieldy.  It’s like how most people in the world don’t build roller coasters in the backyard.  It’s something we pay to have someone host that.  And the fact that we can have that for VR is telling.  However, the same can be said for arcades, but that is a symptom of how gaming was in the retro days.  It’s very possible that the VRcades…if that is what we’re calling them, are for a similar reason, but I can’t help but think it’s also because it’s just plain expensive.  Most VR headsets also require a good computer to play them, and that’s not necessarily as accessible, or perhaps even realized by those who purchase it.  Thanks to alternatives though, like PSVR, it should be easier for some.  

Safety is a part of this concern as well, as that is access that is not easy to create.  Unless you’re willing to move some furniture every time, having a safe space to play VR could be annoying.  If you don’t live in a large house and live in a dense city area in places like Taiwan or Japan where the rooms are not big, VR can be troubling.  It’s similar to how when the Xbox Kinect came out, it was a hassle to play in a small room.  The same can be said for Wiimotes, but with VR you literally can’t see where you are in the room so that is even more dangerous. 

I feel like these can be financial blocks for some people.  Blocks that are not easily affordable.  We can’t just knock down some walls and say we can use VR now.  (Well, I guess we could but that’s a whole different thing going on there.)  And some places like New York City or a tiny flat in England just aren’t fit for good VR.  There better be pillows and stuff all around because with my luck I will fall on like, the sharp edge of a table.  Ouch.


The second and even greater concern I’ve had for VR ever since its inception is physical accessibility.  I’ve already talked about motion sickness.  That belongs in this category.  Other things like physical disabilities will make VR impossible for them.  We’ve already come a long way with things like the Xbox Adaptive Controller and groups like GameBlast that I’m very happy to see pointed out by gamers.  

With VR I feel like these are further steps away for those gamers to have to reach for.  It’s possible for a few cases for it to actually be easier for those with physical disabilities to use VR, but I’m sure there are a good amount that feel even more restricted.  Some games that are exclusive to VR are now out of reach for those players.   Imagine playing through Half-Life and then stopping at Half-Life: Alyx because of your physical disabilities.  That’s not fun.  Although there is a conversion mod for that, the reality is that the VR experience is just inaccessible for those gamers.


I’m not saying that we aren’t allowed to enjoy VR for those of us that can, but it’s just something that I think about for my friends that are limited in what they’re allowed to play.  It’s already difficult for me when I have friends that can’t play because motion sickness is a thing, even after we’ve adjusted the field of view and effects as much as we can.  It’s heartbreaking when something that may be even more severe like a disability further dampens their ability to enjoy things like games.  I’m always grateful to see things like colorblind correction, subtitles, and even things like Bayonetta’s family friendly mode to make sure that we’re allowed to play what we want when we want.  I just feel like VR is going to be an even tougher mountain to climb for those who already cannot.

I’m extremely grateful that we can enjoy video games.  If I really do enjoy games as much as I say I do, I feel it is only right for me to want that joy to be passed on to as many people as possible.  

Thanks for reading.  I’ll see you next time.

Elise

Why I Love: Resident Evil 4

Conquer the darkness

Okay, I think for most people who play horror games, Resident Evil 4 is not really that scary.  But it’s scary enough to be called a horror game.  I think some people consider Bioshock to be a horror game, but I wasn’t ever really scared in that for some reason.  …maybe.

I get really scared in games.  Super easily scared.  (I know, Bioshock does have some scary moments.)  But like, this is how scared I was: I couldn’t get past, like, the first few cabin areas at the literal start of the game.  I think the biggest problem for me in horror games is anticipation.  I always think it’s going to be way scarier than it’s actually going to be.  My imagination goes wild and it’s never even close to what the actual scary thing is.  But that’s good.  I like games that create an environment that really scares me.

What really brings it up technically are two things which I was totally not expecting:

Inventory Management

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but this made me really grateful for inventory management.  I’ve already played things like the Deus Ex series that has this, but for some reason Resident Evil 4 really helped me realize how much I do enjoy resource management.  I do like not having enough ammo at times.  Making difficult decisions with what I have in the inventory turned out to be really fun!  It makes it feel rewarding and risky, and for some reason I never really recognized that.  I probably felt it in Deus Ex, but I only realized it for what it was here, and looking at the time this game was released, it probably was the same for others as well.

Oh wait, I played Resident Evil 1.   And that was a nightmare.  Pun intended.

For me, it was Resident Evil 4.  It feels rewarding when I save something for later and it turns out to be useful, and it feels like there are consequences if I hoard and it turns out to be detrimental.  I like it.   Resident Evil 1 was a little too punishing in inventory management for me.

Gunplay

This is probably…the best third person gunplay I’ve had.  It feels so good.  It really feels like I’m aiming the gun.  I mean, obviously that’s what we do in shooting games, but it feels so natural here.  When I initially saw it for what it was, again I was really doubtful.  I was like, “This is not going to be great.”  But…every time I had an encounter and I had to shoot, it was fun.  Um…it’s really…it.  That’s it.  

———————

For me, this was also a turning point where horror games changed.  I became more willing to play them.  Which is good, because there are so many horror games that I want to play for the story, but still want to experience the original form of the game.  It’s because of Resident Evil 4 that I played Alan Wake, and then continued on with other horror games.  

Emotionally I really like Resident Evil 4 because I love the characters in it.  I love that Leon doesn’t really care about people being flirty or romantic with him.  He just brushes it off.  I really like that a lot.  I hate forced romance or obvious push for romance.  I like that allied NPCs don’t feel stupid.  And it’s interesting that the graphics still somehow hold up today. Which is kind of weird.

These things in Resident Evil 4 are present in other games, but I think the little nuances of a lot of eastern style approach to storytelling, character design, and enemy design really attract me.  I admit it.  This isn’t to say that western versions of the same are bad, they’re just different, and for the most part each does not have entire exclusivity. Again, there’s some cheesiness in all games, but there’s something both endearing and paradoxically profound about the way it is done in Resident Evil 4.  Most of the people throw it off as only cheesiness and maybe even cringiness.  I don’t know, because my approach to media is different.  I don’t see things like anime as cringy (I mean, unless it’s legitimate like, cringe).  I think it’s partially the culture I grew up in, but it’s also just…I don’t know.  I honestly haven’t found why this happens or where it comes from.

I think part of it is my whole view of treating these worlds and characters with a certain reality and respect.  I see them as people, even if their worlds have some cheese in it or are super fantastical, and they’re still people and worlds with backgrounds unbeknownst to me.  There will be bad parts and characters, this we know for sure, but for the most part I want to respect the strangers I meet here.  It’s more likely that I’m a guest in their world that doesn’t know enough, than for me to be arrogant to judge them with a personal ideal.

I wanted to see what I would write for a Why l Love for a game that has a greater emotional tie, and I don’t know if it was any good.  Heh.  But I would like to thank you for reading.  
Thanks for your support!  I hope you’re having a wonderful spooky season.  Stay safe, but don’t forget to enjoy the wonderful mise-en-scène of Halloween!

Elise

Yes. I’m totally going to get the remake.

Spooky Time

It’s spooky time.

That means the Mad King in Guild Wars 2.
That means Geheimnisnacht in Vermintide 2.
It means pumpkins in Deep Rock Galactic.
It means all the games that I have played that have Halloween in them have Halloween.
All the ones that haven’t, may have them now.
All the ones that I haven’t yet played, could be having them now.
Trying to make me have FOMO.

This means I’ll be trying to play through horror games even though I’m not good at dealing with them.
The plan is the last expansion in Control, since I never finished that.
Prey from Arkane as well, since I love the Dishonored series so much.
And if I have time, Resident Evil 5, Little Nightmares, and The Evil Within.

I don’t think I’m going to get to those last two. Just not enough time.
Bigger, busier drawing projects.


But it’s spooky time so I hope that you enjoy spooky media this month.
Be safe, and enjoy the spirits with me, both the drinks and otherwise.
– Elise


I don’t drink.

Backstories of Loved Ones

To know the past and keep the future

I keep getting spread so thin on all the things I could possibly do.  I’ve been spending more time with my family as well, because the older I get the more I realize that time with them is precious.  But something else hit me when I was playing Genshin Impact that made me realize that spending time with them is great, but there’s something else that I lacked that I desperately needed.

It’s something I’ve been thinking about since the article I wrote that included Final Fantasy VIII not too long ago, but it really hit me when I was playing Genshin.  In Genshin if you play with characters doing daily quests, little grindy things called domains, and a few other things you can increase your friendship with them.  Increasing your friendship allows you to learn more of their backstory.  I’ve been so busy and mentally tired lately that although I really wanted to learn more about Collei’s backstory that I had unlocked, I didn’t bother to read it yet.

I was using her in a boss battle and she died, and for some reason I freaked out and I immediately paused the game and went to read her backstory, as if I could lose my chance to do so.  You can easily revive characters through food or statues of the gods strewn throughout the map, but I frantically went and read all of her backstory in one fell swoop.  It got me thinking a lot about my parents.

My parents are older than the average parents in between generations.  And even though I’ve spent and have been spending more time with them, I’m beginning to realize that I don’t know much about their actual childhood and their backstories.  I know them now, and what they act like, and what they like to do, but I don’t know anything about their earlier life.  They never talk about it, and they’re very typically conservative Asians.  They just don’t say anything about it.  I know a handful of stories for both parents, and by handful I mean like…three at most, each.

The more I think about it, the more I really want to preserve those stories.  They’re things that are unique and important and I just have neglected that.  Spending time with them isn’t enough for me and now I want to know more.  If I was so scared of losing the opportunity to get to know a friend that is a character in a game, how much more fearful and defeated would I feel if it were someone as close as my parents?  Unfortunately, I won’t be able to contact them easily until later in the year, but when they return I will definitely spend the time to hear and record their stories.  I will push them to tell me, since I know that they would resist saying it’s not important or there is nothing significant, which is very typical of them.  As long as I’m not crossing any boundaries, I want to hear their stories.


It’s good, but also worrisome, that it took a character’s life to help me realize that there is more I want out of my family relations, and perhaps even friends as well.  Collei will be alright, but what about my loved ones? I’ll make sure to love my family, friends, and characters as much as I can, and to make sure I get to know them all better.

Thanks for reading, and I hope that you spend time with your loved ones and get to really know them, because we don’t know how long we have with them.

Elise

The Restricted Audience

Ratings for you, not the game

I think it’s easy to forget how restricted rating systems in games work.  In North America we tend to see the Entertainment Software Rating Board / ESRB ratings.  And in Europe you tend to see Pan-European Game Information / PEGI ratings.  In Japan it’s the Computer Entertainment Rating Organization / CERO.  I’m not going to list all of the audience ratings, but those are the three most common ones around me.

And I did say audience ratings.  I think people misunderstand that the ratings are not necessarily about dangerous content.  It’s about content that is dangerous if handled immaturely.  Nearly every single type of restricted content in video games is dangerous if approached incorrectly.  We’re saying rated M for mature audiences, because if you are playing this content you should be mature about it.  

Foul language is something that most people speak, but it’s a matter of when we say it and when it’s appropriate.  If you stub your toe and swear, alright.  But if you’re in a church or in an interview maybe don’t swear outright.  For this one, it’s about reading the context, but that requires some amount of maturity. 

Every time we move further down the list with things like gambling, violence, nudity, and discrimination, each subject must be approached with maturity.  And the truth is that most people who play mature rated or PEGI 18 games aren’t really that mature.  I’ve gotten the response that it’s about whether or not you can “handle” that amount of violence.  I don’t think it’s about “handling” violence.  It’s about how we approach, treat, and respect the events.  People are not mature for watching ultra violence or looking at sexual content, especially if they give the same immature approach to similar situations in real life.  

One thing I found very interesting is that the PEGI ratings have “Discrimination” as one of the factors and it’s noted as a PEGI 18 rating.  I think ethics are something very important in video games.  I mean, we’ve noted how a lot of character development is literally about growth and ethics, and people are not without them in real life.  Some people say that because it’s just a game you can just ignore everything, but that’s not true.  If that were true, trauma wouldn’t happen to people.  Trauma is when unexpected events shatter paradigms and the securities of someone’s life.  You can’t just undo an experience.  Unless there is some sort of brain damage or memory loss involved, what you experience, watch, and play in video games will affect you.  

This is not to deny the studies that people who play violent video games become violent, but it can still affect you if not taken maturely.  Again, it is whether or not you let that become an enabling factor.  Some people use video games as a way to let off steam.  To yell and have a safe place to trash talk and banter.  And that’s okay, because they’re using it as a way to ameliorate the stress and anger.  But I also know people who, when playing video games, become violent.  Most of the time they already are, but enabling them or enticing this kind of temperament is also not okay.

There are mature ways to approach sexual content, and all of them need to be approached maturely.  I don’t want rated M games to be like some sort of light to attract all the bug people who just want to objectify women.  I mean, unfortunately, there are games with that kind of approach in mind, and honestly I don’t find that for mature audiences at all when the whole set of creation is immature.  Perhaps, and this might be sharp to say but, there are some games that shouldn’t be played because the basis of the whole game is not conducive to proper behavior.  I’m not trying to be some sort of policing writer.  I’m just stating the reality that some things will affect people in a negative way and it’s not about being progressive or being “tough”, it’s about teaching people, not just kids, that some things need to be respected.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the same people who sexually harrassed me at school are the same people who play those games that disrespect women.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the people who say that video games don’t affect them are the same people bullying others.  We as the players are supposed to be mature about this all.  The people who know that the violence stays in the game.  The people who recognize that war and discrimination are real, terrible things.  The people that recognize that a character is a sex worker not because she is a bad person, but because she is having a hard time in life.  To learn this empathy, to learn this understanding, that’s what maturity is about.  

I’m not saying that we’re stiff and not having fun while shooting enemies and slicing baddies.  Rated M for Mature just means that when it gets down to it, we understand that we must treat these subjects with respect and understanding.

Thanks for reading, I’ll see you again soon.

Elise

A Raft Made of Backlogs

Lost in the dream sea

The backlog list is so big.  I love media, but this is getting ridiculous.   Disney announced a ton of stuff, and now a gigantic swathe of games just popped up for Nintendo, SEGA, and Sony.  There is also that pile of books I should read as well.  But is this…bad?

Sometimes I think back on my teenage years when getting more than one game a year was like a miracle.  If you look back on play time for games in my teens, those games had hundreds of hours in them, mostly because they were the only thing for that year.  There are more games than I could ever play in multiple lifetimes now.  

Moreover, I don’t think I ever would’ve thought I would be able to play through the series that I’ve dreamed of, but that has become a reality.  Since I like playing things in chronological release order, some of these games either never get released in English or fade away to time and become very difficult to obtain.  Now, I’ve been able to play through all the Final Fantasy’s up to VII, and games like Yakuza have been entirely ported to PC.  I’ve been able to go back and go through all the Kirby games and with Return to Dreamland’s remake I can fill that hole that was left behind because that game got real expensive real quick.  

This is…the dream.  I’m so grateful for where gaming has gone right now.  I mean, I can choose to be a strong female character in my games.  I can customize the crap out of them as well.  Free games show up so often I could play those and never worry about it all.  Not only is this a good time to be a gamer, it is a good time to be a gamer who grew up in the 90s and 2000s.  Being able to play the games I thought would be lost to me is very much a dream come true for me.

I know there are still things to hash out with the gaming community and how Nintendo games aren’t well preserved to be played again.  There will always be a few things here and there that go unaccomplished for now, but still.  Things are so wonderful now and I am very happy with the games being released. 

Are there any games that you were able to play that you thought you wouldn’t get to growing up?  Or games you feel like you missed out on due to the passage of time? I’m very content with the idea that I am lost in the sea now, because this raft of games that I’ve made was the dream cruise I was thinking of when I was younger. I am so grateful to be lost at sea on a raft made of backlogged games.

Thanks for reading, I’ll see you again.

Elise

There is No Status Quo

Glow in the dark

There are going to be a fair bit of spoilers for these titles: 
Parks and Recreation, the TV show: major spoilers
Super Mario RPG: Major spoilers
Marvel Cinematic Universe Infinity Saga: Major spoilers
Final Fantasy VIII: First 13 hours spoilers

Although I spoil things, I am still purposely very vague.  This doesn’t mean they aren’t spoilery though, so be warned.

Long article time!

Character development works in the same way that people develop.  Whether you like it or not, that’s how some of the best character development works.  And a more turbulent thing that is also true is that it is almost always cheesy.  It’s the cheesy stuff that are the real lessons in life.  When writing character development, it’s important to recognize how and when paradigm shifts in perspective happen.  And we can also, again, skeletonize it to cheesy things, but we’re going to keep it at a complicated level for the sake of showing the individuality of developments.


First I’m going to establish the basic point that my title has made.  There is no status quo.  Characters are like glow sticks, they won’t really shine until you break them.  In Parks and Recreation the character Andy has one of the best developments because the events that happen to him actually change and cause him to grow.  It’s very simple and logical stuff.  Most people know that, but actually having that implemented is a different thing.  He actually does change as his love for April grows.  He really does learn from his time at community college.  He really does start finding footing for where he feels comfortable in his place in society.  These things are actually happening to him and the show acts like it.  This doesn’t mean he can’t be the same goofy character, but it means that he will not return to the original goofy character before.  You cannot return to the status quo, else it seems like nothing significant happened at all.

This happens in all sorts of TV shows where things return completely to normal.  I’m not saying that this is bad, because it fits some shows very well that things always return to normal.  Sometimes these kinds of series will do major shifts to show that something has changed.  This can be something that happens at the end of a season or in preparation for a change of casting.  Super Mario RPG’s Mallow has an identity crisis because he thinks he is a frog.  I’m…pretty sure we all can recognize that he is totally not.  Some character developments happen in drastic shifts like this.  This happens in real life as well, so it makes sense.  

What’s interesting about Mallow’s shift is that he doesn’t really change much, except for his self-confidence, which was an issue for a while.  He doesn’t really mind that he thought he was a frog this whole time.  The big shift wasn’t the fact that he was having an identity crisis, but rather that he needed to come to terms with how he feels about himself.  These aren’t huge lines in the story by the way.  Mallow doesn’t always talk about this, but it feels significant enough.  


Here’s one that I have thought a lot about from the Infinity Saga in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, specifically Thor.  Thor’s development is mostly about who he believes he is and his worthiness.  He goes through a lot of this and it develops on itself multiple times.  In Thor: Ragnarok, he really comes to terms with himself after his father’s “passing”.  Now normally this is it.  But after his failure to kill Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War, he actually returns to what he was previously where he didn’t believe in himself.  This is not a return to the status quo.  This is usually only obtainable through story writing that is extended over time.  I think this is a rare opportunity to recognize how some people struggle to change over time.  He had such a big revelation in Thor: Ragnarok and now he is back to where he was before because of yet another shift.  This new development is no longer about coming to terms with himself, it is about the failure of doing so in a difficult time.  I love the writing of this because sometimes we have big life events happen to us and when it gets hard we do fall back down and we do struggle.


Lastly, Final Fantasy VIII.  Just to be clear, this isn’t a comprehensive list of all the different kinds of development.  Final Fantasy VIII just happens to be the final one on this list.  I love Final Fantasy to death, so maybe I’m a bit biased.  I haven’t finished VIII yet, so this is just what I know so far from the game.  I’ve played 13-ish hours.

Most of the game’s characters are teenagers, and I think it’s a very good opportunity to talk about the small world of the mind.  There are a lot of times where the main character, Squall, says some really angsty stuff.  Same with Rinoa.  There are tons of times where you could ask why the world they make the choices they make or how something they said was ridiculous or immature, but that’s just it.  They’re teenagers.  I think one of the more difficult parts of writing is not only understanding how much your character’s know, but also how much they can interpret.  When Squall is threatened by death he does the most teenager thing and runs away.  I’m not saying all teeangers do this, but it’s been established that he is an angsty teen, so what he is doing is in line with that.  He is so determined to not be something left in the past because someone he is close with may have died.

Having death hit you at such a young age affects you differently than if you were older.  This whole time Squall has set up a tough exterior, but it really breaks when he just runs.   His paradigm has shifted, and he has to come to terms with it.  This doesn’t fully absolve itself immediately though, which I like.  Rinoa also goes through a series of similar rash actions where she wants to try and suppress the evil Sorceress on her own.  This seems so foolish, but remember that her world consists of living in rebellion.  She has been fighting government oppression her whole life and her relationship with her father is not great.  This is what her world consists of: fighting back, no matter how small you feel.  When she fails to suppress the Sorceress, she nearly dies.  

Squall and Rinoa both argue over how serious these missions are taken.  This back and forth starts pretty early on.  Both Squall and Rinoa’s growth intertwine when Rinoa realizes just how dangerous all of this is and Squall feels what the fear of death is like in someone else as Rinoa literally clings to him.  This is further emphasized when he sees how scared Irvine is moments later.  Their small worlds grow larger with every shift.  He is changing how he feels about death, his mission, and what to do.  You see this in how he tells Irvine that it’s going to be okay, no matter the results.

Remember when I said Squall hated that idea of death?  Well, at this point some time later, he fights the Sorceress for the sake of the people and …dies.  Now hold on, this is where I’m at in the story.  So, very likely he’s not actually dead, but the action of this is significant, because now his paradigm has completely shifted.  He has voluntarily given his life for the sake of the people.  The world of his mind has grown.  He is no longer Squall as he was…however many hours ago in the game.  Unfortunately, for the sake of story he is likely still alive, so that status quo is probably still here.  I…I can’t say for sure.  I’m excited to see what happens next.

Not all teenagers and people will develop like this.  That’s fine.  But each has their own views and shifts.  Squall’s tough exterior has been well established by this point, but it is so fluid in his change over time.  His is not an immediate change, and that’s why I really like his development so far.  His “death” could also be just his desire to fulfill objectives for his organization, but he ran away last time.  He literally ran, and now he died.


Maybe I’m getting this all totally wrong.  I could totally, totally be getting all of this wrong.  But I’m still very happy with how they show the perspective of the small worlds Squall and Rinoa both live in.  It’s easiest to see these kinds of things in the main character who starts in humble beginnings, except it’s usually more literal in that the world they fight for gets bigger and bigger as you explore more places.  But for what I can see in Squall and Rinoa right now, is the change in the mind, and I really, really like that.  

Why is this so important to me?  I mean, other than good character development, this helps me recognize people’s perspectives and how they see the world.  To be less at conflict with others, I need to be more understanding of their perspectives and what their mind-world’s look like.  What I look like in their world.  

Things are not always black and white, and seeing character growth like this is a good way to better understand how some people might make bad decisions when they’re just trying to be good people.

Thanks for reading, I’ll see you next time.
Elise