Video games are an excellent medium for storytelling. While modern games often guide players through fantasy worlds, unfolding complex stories about mythological pasts and alien legends, few video games have thoroughly explored the possibilities of telling strong stories about specific, real-life cultures. In 2012, a group of Native Alaskans decided to do just that.
In many video games, the bad guys are villains hellbent on global domination or zombies hungry for human flesh. In game designer and programmer Nina Freeman’s new video game, Freshman Year, the antagonist is much more realistic: a guy who tries to sexually assault a college girl.
If you’ve been paying any attention to the news, you know that the last few months have been a hard time to be a geek girl. Media critics and gamers who have spoken up about sexism in the video game industry have been subjected to online harassment that has escalated into death threats. People who care about pop culture and video games—as well as other geeky pursuits like comics and tabletop games—have devoted a ton of emotional energy to dealing with these aggressive haters. So for today’s show, we’re flipping the script. Instead of giving all this nastiness any more of our time and energy, we’re focusing on six women who are doing awesome work to make geek culture better.
We take a trip to a Magic: The Gathering tournament, get a download from hip-hop artist Sammus about how to turning classic video game soundtracks into brand-new beats, hear game designer Elizabeth Sampat break down sexist myths about women in the video game industry, listen to a Destination DIY profile of an artist who lasercuts mobiles of internet memes, and sit down with nerd-rock sister duo The Doubleclicks to talk about making bad news into heart-warming songs.
This episode of Popaganda is sponsored by If Only Cats Could Talk, an experimental film documenting the true story of two all-American cats eager to explore the world beyond domesticated life.
Individual show segments and more ways to listen are below the cut!
There was a time when people had one answer to online harassment: “Don’t read the comments.” This week, it’s become painfully clear how harassment women endure online is not something we can fix by just ignoring it. Instead, in this era, online harassment can become a life and death issue.
Assassin’s Creed is an extremely popular video game—but it doesn’t let users play as a female character. Originally, development company Ubisoft planned to include a female playable character in the new version of the game, Assasin’s Creed Unity. But when the new game’s big launch came last week at E3, fans were disappointed to find that the new version still includes no female players.
Pacific Rimhit theaters last month and for a movie about large robots fighting off hulking monsters, it has a surprising amount of story.
The blockbuster has a woman of color as a main character but, sadly, the film still does not pass the Bechdel Test. However, there is one familiar female voice that claims some screentime, that of Ellen McLain as the voice of the main characters' robot-fighting-machine Gipsy Danger.
In film, artificial intelligence (AI) is often given a feminine voice.
There is some quality gay TV on the airwaves right now. According to GLAAD, about four percent of series regulars in the 2012-13 season were LGBT, many of them on massively popular shows like Glee. Similar things can be said of movies—recent films like The Kids Are All Right include queer love in their stories and receive Oscar nominations in return. The visibility of LGBT characters on TV and in film has had a stunning turnaround in the past 20 years, considering how taboo the subject of queerness has been historically. And, for me, it raises a question: where the heck are all the queer characters in video games?
The Legend of Zelda has been a beloved game for over 25 years. One of the world's most popular video games, the tale of the Zelda series revolves not around the titular Princess Zelda—who demonstrates time and time again an overwhelming tendency to get kidnapped—but around young pointy-hatted hero Link's attempts to save his magical kingdom of Hyrule from the evil clutches of the desert brigand Ganon.