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I think it should be pretty clear that since I'm here, I'm a gamer and I would love to discuss them. Just like everyone else, I have my opinions about the current state of gaming and how I think it's good in one way and bad in another way. Quite frankly, I think the gaming community in general is pretty awful, like with console fanboys, but Destructoid looks to be different. However, don't expect to find me on the forums since I plan on sticking to the main site and the c-blogs. I should note that I'm very opinionated about stuff. I can easily find flaws in just about anything even if others donít agree with me on them. To an extent, I'm also a perfectionist.

I own the original PS2 model, a Wii, 80GB PS3, Pro model 360, and the original DS and PSP models. Just because I own all of them doesn't mean I value them all equally. I don't own too many games and I rarely buy them. I mostly play games by renting through GameFly since even the really good ones don't keep me playing long enough to justify buying them. I'm not just able to easily replay a game a second time through even if I really enjoyed the first time. I tend to only buy games that I feel will have great replay value, which usually means getting a game on the PC that can be heavily modded.

Iím also rather lonely when it comes to my friend lists on the 360 and PS3. Anyone mind helping out?

The following games I'm looking forward to playing off the top of my head include:

Crackdown 2
Fallout: New Vegas
Metroid: Other M
ModNation Racers
Super Mario Galaxy 2
The Elder Scrolls V (although not officially confirmed yet)

Game(s) that Iím playing now:

Bioshock (PS3)
Left 4 Dead 2 (360)
Red Faction: Guerrilla (360)

Game(s) that I'm currently waiting for GameFly to ship out...

Nothing right now...

Last updated: 04/26/10

This sure came a lot later than what I originally planned due to being lazy, especially when I have less to say about this than other subjects.

Most RPGs have some sort of elemental weakness system and some RPGs make it a major focus while in others, not so much. Like status conditions, which I havenít cover in detail yet, I think elemental weaknesses in the average RPG doesnít do much for the game play, for better or worse. Although elemental weaknesses are supposed to add more strategy, I feel like this is not always the case, unless the game heavily focuses on them like Pokťmon. Elemental weaknesses tend to only make a difference in damage done. Once you know what an enemy is weak to, itís basically just a matter of blasting them with that element over and over. Itís not much more complex than throwing out the most powerful attacks. How many RPGs have elemental weaknesses that actually make much of a tactical difference than how much damage is dealt?

There could be various spells that are basically the same thing except with a different element attached to it. The Final Fantasy games tend to have the Fire, Blizzard, and Thunder spells that only differ in the element and nothing else. Unless an enemy is strong or weak to one of more of those elements, it mainly comes down to whatever you feel like throwing out at the time since it makes no difference otherwise. I suppose it would make more of a difference if you donít have access to all those elements at once.

Fire tends to be the one element that will always be there if a RPG has any kind of elemental system that uses any standard elements. Any other elements can vary between games. Ice and water tend to count as the other if the game only has one of those elements. This can be confusing if an ice enemy shows up and you expect them to be weak to fire when they really count as water. This can also lead to cases of water enemies counting as ice and possibly being weak to fire. For example, in Kingdom Hearts II, Demyx uses water, but counts as ice, so he turns out to be weak to fire attacks. Really, who would think to use fire against water and expect the former to overcome the latter? While what element is strong and weak against what changes between games, it tends to be a universe rule that water is strong against fire with little rule for exception. From what I heard, in Golden Sun, opposite elements are weak against each other, which leads to another case of fire being strong against water.

Thatís the other thing about elemental systems, especially if there is more than four elements, is that the logic of the weaknesses changes between games. Fire and ice may be weak against each other, but sometimes only fire is strong against ice and not vice versa. Wind may be strong against flying enemies, but if not, than lightning tends to be. Wind usually may be strong against fire, but not always. It tends to be a universe role that earth does nothing against wind since earth tends to count as ground. Certain RPGs may even have non-elemental attack spells, but they tend to be rare high level spells.

I felt like Chrono Trigger did elements in a way that could make quite a difference. There are four elements and each of them can have various effects on certain enemies. It wasnít just a matter of damage difference like elemental systems tend to be. Different enemies could react in different ways from what element you use against them, so the outcome of battle could actually have a big factor depending how you use the elements. Thereís quite a bit of ways that it happens, but I hardly remember specific examples off the top of my head.

Certain RPGs may use the four classic elements of Air, Earth, Fire, and Water, so each element is equally strong against one element and weak to another one. Aether never seems to get thrown in as a fifth element outside the other four. On the other hand, how often do the Chinese classic elements ever get used? They are made up of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. I think each element is strong against two elements and weak against two others. Come to think of it, Metal or Steel is quite a rare element to see in games.

How about seeing more RPGs with elemental systems, if they use them, that actually makes more of a difference than damage? How about attaching secondary or status effects to the elemental spells? I know there are some cases of this, but not very many. This could also mean that elemental spells that enemies are not strong or weak against are not just simply interchangeable in effects, but could lead to more tactical planning.

So I may sound like yet another hardcore elitist here that acts like people are not allowed to play games if they donít meet a certain skill requirement, but at least hear me out before coming to that conclusion. Originally called the Kind Code, we now know this feature will be called the Super Guide and will debut in New Super Mario Bros. Wii next month. People have been praising this for reasons like ďyounger and in-experience gamers can finally get inĒ and ďNintendo can finally make hard games againĒ. Oh sure itís easy enough to see how the anti-Super Guide people can be missing the point, but I think there are some things that the pro-Super Guide people may have overlooked, which is what Iíll mostly focus on. When this subject comes up, itís like almost everyone that talks about it forgets the concept that has been around since around the beginning, difficulty levels.

"Don't jump on me while I slowly walk toward you."

"Jump on me, I dare you!"

Nintendo could have done this long ago without needing to file a patent for a modified ghost system. They already put difficulty settings in various games before, even back on the NES. Super Mario Bros. would allow you to play through again with harder enemies and some other changes. The Legend of Zelda has the Second Quest mode that upped the difficulty quite a bit. The first Kirby on the GB had a secret hard mode. None of this carried over to the newer games, with only a select few newer games having difficulty settings. Why not just make better use of difficulty settings, including being allowed to change it mid game instead of starting over? For example, easy mode could add extra power ups and extra platforms. I remembered how Capcomís Mega Man Powered Up on the PSP would change quite a bit of things between the difficulty levels. On easy, enemies wouldnít fight as well, extra platforms would show up, bosses would flinch from all your attacks, not use their more powerful attacks, and the final boss would be one phase instead of two.

"Touch me to grow big and gain an extra hit point."

Why couldnít Nintendo do it this way? Letís take NSMB as it is on the DS. Now, what if that game had an easy and hard mode? Normal mode would be like how the game is now. Easy mode could have more blocks up with power ups, extra lives, more checkpoints, none of the tougher enemies, extra platforms for difficult jumps, and bosses with less HP. Basically, this mode could be easy enough that even the people that the Super Guide is aimed at can get through and finish the game if they put just a little bit of work into it. The difference between this and only one difficulty with Super Guide is that you could have the joy of actually playing through the game and finishing it without needing help or the option for the game to play a part of itself if you lost enough lives. They also shouldnít shame the player for playing on easy mode like some games do, like Ninja Gaidenís Black Ninja Dog mode (which I havenít used myself FYI). Hard mode could be shorter time limits, less power ups, more enemies, including the tougher ones, harder bosses, trickier jumps, poison mushrooms, and more. You could be made required to use double jumps, triple jumps, wall jumps, and such that you could mostly ignore on a normal playthrough. Now that could take more work than the Super Guide, but creating a great game isnít easy. I say the Zelda games are in dire need of difficulty settings so you wonít have to do a self imposed challenge to get more difficulty out of the game.

Not all mushrooms are good for your health.

Out of my fantasy and back to reality, of course I am fully aware of ďyou donít have to use it if you donít want toĒ. However, I still worry that this could directly affect me in one way or another. I say this because I fear that it might put certain people into the wrong mind set about games. Video games are supposed to be an interactive media and if the Super Guide is done wrong, could give non-gamers the wrong impressions of it being passive, even if they choose to use it. After all, thereís already many other misconceptions like how games reward instant satisfaction. Compared to when we first heard about the concept, I think they are handling it better then I first thought they would. At least they are designing it so that there will be some rewards for not using it. You also have to die at least eight times on a stage before you can use it. Considering the lives system and possibly starting off with five lives, this would mean you would need at least nine lives and be able to save up to that much. It also doesnít locate secrets for you, so you wonít just be able to easily 100% a game by using it. It wonít take all the work out of finishing the game.

Hammers hurt! Fight back with fire balls if possible.

"Save me to win the game!"

Due to the nature of the difficulty going up in games as you progress, couldnít it possibly get to the point where if you could barely handle world 3, than later worlds could just be nothing but Super Guide usage? Guiding an inexperience player to an even harder challenge than the one they couldnít finish before doesnít sound very helpful. I feel like this could set up the player for failure and frustration which is what the Super Guide is attempting to cut down on in the first place. If they couldnít finish an easier challenge on their own, how do we expect them to finish a harder challenge on their own? Couldnít this just lead to a cycle of just relying on help from the Super Guide over and over to point where youíre almost watching the game instead of playing it?

It's a secret to everybody. Not even the Super Guide knows how to find it.

The difference between this and walkthroughs is that you have to go out of way to find those and thatís out of the control of the game. Even by watching videos, you still have to be able to perform what you seen yourself. No amount of knowledge will get you pass a difficult section of you donít have the skills to pull it off. The Super Guide goes a step beyond that. As for getting others to play the part for you, thatís also very similar to the Super Guide, but the main difference is that itís not the game itself doing it. Thereís a difference between getting help and having the work done for you.

Jump over attacks to avoid getting hurt.

Not everyone wants to kill you, just 99% of them. Here's a buddy to help out.

People have also mention stuff about hard to find secrets or poorly designed puzzles. Again, the Super Guide wonít find those secrets. A poorly designed puzzle or secret that is poorly designed is what it is, Super Guide or not. The Super Guide shouldnít be an excuse for this, especially stuff you have basically no chance of figuring out without a walkthrough.

Lava burns! Avoid contact!

Another thing that Nintendo has already done (or at least their second party developers) is that in the Metroid Prime games, thereís a hint system. If you donít find the next upgrade for awhile, the game would pinpoint the location youíre supposed to go to on your map. While you still had to figure out how to get there yourself, it did at least point you to the right direction so you wouldnít end up roaming around endlessly with hardly a clue on where to go. The hint system could also be turned off for those who didnít want it. Is this not something that could be adjusted and used for games where it would be useful in?

Purple water is bad for you. Please don't attempt to swim in it if you care about your health.

Thereís yet another issue I worry about, at least for younger children. Video games can go beyond just mere entertainment. Are we teaching a good lesson to children if they can just skip a challenge instead of working at it? I understand being good at video games isnít a requirement in life like getting good grades in school, but Iím just saying. The thing is, just about anything you interact with, even for fun, requires some amount of effort. Is it so wrong and elitist to think that to play a video game, you should at least put a little bit of effort into it? Even on the easiest difficult settings, losing and attempting to get better is a part of what gaming is about. Only a ďcanít loseĒ mode is the exception to this. Dropping the difficulty when the going gets too tough is not the same as completely skipping the challenge. Although schools may give easier or harder work to people in the same class room based on their ability, you ultimately have to at least put a little bit of work into it. I bring up the school comparison because I seen it used before when it comes to discussion of the Super Guide. Who knows, maybe this whole worry would have no basis in reality.

Avoid falling down pits to live, like the one between the green pipes.

Use the power of friendship to overcome tough challenges.

So now that I got what I wanted to say out the way (if you actually read it and not skipped through), is what I said of any mint or just hardcore elitism? I just feel like better options that have been around all along will be ignored in favor of this. So to recap, easy difficulty settings and hint systems should ensure that people can finish a game they brought and not deal with the frustration of not actually finishing it because they got stuck somewhere. Ultimately, properly designed game play is the biggest factor. The people that the Super Guide is targeting can still finish the game and get the active experience of it with a proper easy mode and hint system, along with some motivation and effect on the playerís part.
Photo Photo Photo

One of the things I noticed about most RPGs (and the majority of games in general, including Metroidvanias) is that the progress is very linear and hardly open-ended. It seems like ďopen-endedĒ and ďRPGĒ has very little overlap. I think this is another thing that more RPGs should attempt instead of the true and tired formula of almost strictly linear progress. I find it much easier to replay a game if I know I can do things in a different order instead of the same events every time I play.

There are numerous ways that a RPG will stop you from not allowing you to go where they donít want you to go at any given point. I feel like a lot of these are pretty stupid ways to stop you. Even if you only played a few RPGs, you could easily tell the game was blocking you off from going somewhere that you wasnít supposed to go to yet. Could be anything from someone blocking your path, a puddle, a two foot high tree log, a protest against unnatural hair colors, a toy train, bad fog that day, a lost child somewhere, and numerous other ways to stop you from going where the game doesnít want you to go at the moment. This is often a result of very linear storytelling and the developers will strictly have you follow by the book and not wander off at all from the given path. However, I donít see why more developers canít allow a more open-ended experience and adjust the story to suit. I notice JRPGs tend to be more linear than WRPGs, although itís still rare for a WRPG itself to be open-ended.

Iíll bring up a very popular RPG series that people like to dream big about beyond the official games, including ideas for a MMORPG. What if Pokťmon games were more open ended? Instead of mostly going through gyms in a certain order, you could freely explode the region after getting your first Pokťmon and challenge the gym leaders in any order. This would also mean anything that normally stops you from progressing like people, lacking a bike, and HM barriers would have to be removed. Seriously, why do they need people blocking you from passing certain areas till you get a gym badge when you need all eight to travel through Victory Road to reach the Elite Four anyway? However, I do realize there are a few problems this could lead too.

First off, storytelling could be harder, but it doesnít mean it canít happen. For example, in Mass Effect, you could take on three planets in any order, but itís not like the story suffered from it. KOTOR does something similar as well. Plots are developed with the game in mind and since most RPGs are designed to be linear, plots are developed as such. So therefore, if the game is open-ended, the developers can make the plot in such a way that doesnít break or isnít horrible because you can choose more than one path. Even if itís just a single ending, there could be multiple ways to reach it.

Back to this Pokťmon example, these games have never been groundbreaking for their storyline. Youíre basically a kid who wants to become the region champion by defeating eight gym leaders, the Elite Four, and the regionís current champion. Along the way you end up defeating a villain team and in the later generations, saving everyone from a legendary gone wild. Often the villain teams are fought numerous times and their plans have numerous phases. This works out very well due to the linear progress. However, if you could freely explode the region as soon as you got your first Pokťmon, the plot would have to be set up differently to take into factor you possibly visiting almost anywhere at any time.

Due to the nature of you getting stronger as you progress in RPGs, this could lead to various problems if the world were open-ended. Itís quite easy for the difficulty to become too easy or hard at times. Locations can be designed based off of enemy level, which can effectively lock out lower level characters. This would be almost like forced linear progress. Some RPGs do sometimes allow you to visit locations where the enemies are much stronger than you at the time, but itís still pretty linear and the story wonít lead you to those locations till youíre supposed to be on par with the enemies there.

Bringing up the Pokťmon example, think of one of the main games, but remove the barriers that normally block you like those that require the use of HMs or people simply blocking your way. Keeping the levels the same otherwise could still force linear progress, as heading out into an area when your too weak can still spell doom. Now you could get lucky and catch a level 42 Pokťmon while still having a team full of Ďmons no higher than level 10. This could easily break the balance and have you using that level 42 Ďmon to easily OHKO Ďmons in the lower level areas. They could also just put a forced trainer battle in front of the routes to determine that youíre not too weak for the area, but that would be a barrier itself, which my idea would be to remove.

Open ended RPGs tend to use something called level-scaling to overcome this problem. This basically means the levels of the enemies you face is adjusted to your own level(s). Two games that come to mind the most are Final Fantasy VIII and Oblivion. FFVIII is pretty linear in progress, yet in an attempt to remove level grinding and focus more on the GF system, they made most of the enemies scale with your party level average, including non-active party members. The power growth from levels alone between party members and enemies isnít 1:1, but tips a lot more in the enemyís favor. So simply leveling will give the enemies a bigger power gap than you and effectively make things more difficult. The GF system is how youíre supposed to gain an edge, but you donít need to be a high level to do that, so staying at lower levels can be more effective.

Well, do I really need to go into detail of Oblivionís level-scaling system when it has already been ripped apart by countless people now? Well, I better put my own spin on it so what I say isnít just a repeat of whatís been said many, many times before. Itís like the game wants to be a RPG, but at the same time, it wants to be an action game where the enemies get stronger while you usually donít to make it more difficult. The previous game in the series, Morrowind, had this to an extent, but not as crazy and getting stronger meant you could still easily crush weaker enemies. On the other hand, due to the open-world, being a low level could effectively lock out certain areas where high level enemies roam. Fallout 3 designed a level range for areas and would lock the enemies in a given area at whatever level you were at when you first entered. KOTOR and Mass Effect seem to make enemies more powerful in the ďchoose your orderĒ areas by how late you visit them or simply level-scaling. Someone might know about that more than I do.

So now, applying level-scaling within this fictional Pokťmon game, you could go wherever you wanted and not worry about fighting something 20 levels above you. However, to what extent would this apply to; wild Pokťmon, trainers, or even gym leaders? They donít have to match the level average of your team, but could say, be levels below or above your team average. Even then, that could pose a problem, because for example, if gym leaders were five levels above your average, that would make a big difference. Level 15 is a lot higher than level 10 compared to 45 to 40. I donít mean that level 15 is 50% stronger than level 10, but the strength gap between levels still are higher early on. I think the Elite Four would be better off remaining untouched, since their meant to be the final test before getting into the Hall of Fame and is supposed to be beaten as the result of your entire journey up to that point. Scaling them based off your level could easily ruin.

Ultimately, an open-world RPG could either still be linear due to your levels being too low in certain areas or level-scaling could be use which can lead one to questioning the point of leveling up in the first place. I think the only real way this could work is if the combat system depends more on skill and strategy than pure power, but thatís something I plan to discuss in a future My RPG Musings. Can a truly open-ended RPG work out without power barriers or broken level-scaling?

Thereís no increased chance of seeing this happen at all because some random guy on a lesser known video game website would like to see this happen more often. Developers wonít look here, see this, and be like ďokay, letís spend at least a year or more changing our game around to be less linear and more open-ended because random Internet guy #193,546,623,284 thought it would be nice to seeĒ. One can dream right?

This is by far my longest c-blog yet and also a bunch of pictures to spice up the lengthy word count.

So, there have been a lot of complaints from a lot of women and even quite a bit of men that many female video game characters are merely sex objects. There are largely two extremes here at work, one being what I just mention and the other being mostly the stereotypical horny teenage male that indeed do view and treat women merely as sex objects and not people. Most people that regularly talk about stuff in gaming industry tend to of course, be on the first end like Yahtzee of Zero Punctuation fame. I had it with the two extremes at work here and Iím sick and tired of the same arguments coming up over and over without any counter-arguments that I see are valid. Are some of these complaints valid or are most of them just overblown from America society that has a very love-hate relationship with sexual content? For the most part, I felt like I only read and seen stuff from a few people like Moviebob of Game Over Thinker fame that isnít like ďsex appeal is horrible, periodĒ like what I mostly see from the gaming community. However, since this is coming from the view point of a heterosexual male, that could be a big factor in how people react to this c-blog. Maybe if I were female this would be yet another rant against such aspects, but not all women are against the mere concept of sex appeal woman. Even way, it would certainly be a big difference in reaction. The standard viewpoint is that if a woman in gaming has sex appeal, sheís automatic being objectify, a bad role model, has horrible character design, and more. In this view point, the people designing them are nothing more than misogyny pigs. Now there are examples of women that basically have little character beyond being sex symbols, but it seems like thatís all thatís being focused on. Maybe itís not so much that women are being designed with sex appeal, but how itís done. Iím also not quite able to use the argument that ďthese women are in control of their sexualityĒ since these are fictional characters developed in most cases by heterosexual men and itís not like these characters act on their own. Since those people who view women merely as sex objects are already pretty much debunked, Iíll focus my attention more on ďsex appeal is bad!Ē thatís quite common. There are various arguments related to this and Iíll organize them in such a way that should make it much easier to read than simply by paragraph after paragraph.

ďThose women look unrealistic.Ē

Letís make this clear right away that people tend to complain about women being unrealistic only if they look unrealistic and not if they can perform unrealistic feats. Nevermind if they can perform inhuman feats or even have superpowers, how realistic a woman is in this case depends solely on how she looks. Even then, there wouldnít be complaints about them looking unrealistic attractive if they are done in a clearly unrealistic style, like anime, but only if its unrealistic sex appeal. Why is it that women have to look realistic anyway to be considered good characters? The actual reason for the complaint is that the person believes the woman to be objectified, but instead of directly addressing that, they indirectly address it with arguments like this which when used by themselves, I see quite flawed and invalid. I can see this argument only being valid if the characters are supposed to look realistic, but the females have Barbie figures while the males much more closely match real men. Even then, many ďrealisticĒ settings are only semi-realistic. Even in games where the characters are supposed to be everyday people, they will still realistic be attractive to an extent.

Video games, much like other media, tend to be fantasy and idealized. Now granted that video games tend to be largely male fantasies, but they are fantasies nonetheless. Sure women tend to wear revealing outfits in settings that logically wouldnít be logical, but this is why itís fantasy and not reality. Itís almost like the factor of the males being idealized is almost completely forgotten about. There are still male video game characters here and there that donít quite look realistic. I know there is a clear difference between how males and females are designed and marketed, which Iíll get to that.

ďMen donít get objectify.Ē/ďMen donít commonly run around half naked.Ē

There are different standards for what people find attractive and sexy between men and women. Men also tend to be much more horny then women. Itís not like you can have a guy run around wearing little more than underwear and expect the majority of women to like him the way it is vice versa. Men tend to like to see bare skin more for what they find attractive then women. Itís also much easier and acceptable to show off womenís breasts then a guyís penis, which is not quite as easy to imply like it is to show some cleavage. Women tend to have more complex standards for what they find attractive than merely showing skin. In lists made by women of most attractive male video game characters, I see more variety in those and actual appearance plays a much smaller role compared to their personality. Thatís not to say Iím gonna stereotype myself and act like men only care about how a woman looks. How exactly would you objectify a man anyway? I donít mean that question in an ďitís not possibleĒ way, but would that work out? If men would put in the same sexual roles as women, would female gamers take much of an interest? Thus far, I only saw sex-crazed female fans in yaoi fandoms that do easily get on if a guy looks attractive and is shirtless or less.

ďThere needs to be more balance.Ē

What if women were in charge of developing games instead of men? While there would be far less women designed to be sexual appealing, they would still be attractive and designed to look beautiful and cute. People as a whole tend to want to feel like better people than they are and looking that way is one of those aspects. If people can put themselves into a fantasy setting, how many would intentional make themselves ugly? Even if women were to go wild with their sexual desires like how men tend to do now when developing games and such, there would likely be a lot less sexual content. How many women get on from the following image?

While it would be pretty rare, they may be a character or two every now and then that does look like the same fantasy woman that a man would have designed. On the other hand, I wonder what the results would be like if gay males were put in charge of developing some games.

ďFemale gamers are unable to relate to these characters.Ē

One of the most common complaints is that female gamers are unable to relate to the women in gaming, which is mostly solely on how they look. Even if we move past appearance, most male gamers are unable to relate to the men in gaming as well, at least directly. In the average game, youíre often a guy performing feats that you would be hard pressed to do in real life. How many men can kill hundreds of people, run and jump without getting tired, keep on going regardless of how injured they are, and more? I donít know about you people, but I donít want to be able to relate to a video game character in most cases. If I could relate to them, they wouldnít be able to even remotely perform cool feats at all. Unless my whole argument is invalid if people are talking about relating to the personality of a game, but even then, these complaints are still largely based on a characterís appearance. Even in games that allow you to create a character and even import your face in, youíll still likely be doing stuff thatís far beyond what you could do outside the game. Itís not like there isnít quite a bit of male power fantasy male characters whose personality basically comes down to ďRIP AND TEAR!Ē even if developers try to hide it better these days.

Now Iíll get to men in games that are idealized. Look at the majority of the games out there these days with male lead characters. Characters like Kratos and Marcus Fenix may not look handsome, but they are still idealized and are very built. How many men are built like them? How many people are complaining that they look unrealistic or are expected to be like them? Even for male characters not designed to be male power fantasies who are pumping muscles throughout their body, they are still idealized. If you were to go outside and look around or check out the Average Joe on TV, how many are slim and fit like various video game characters? How many lead characters are just Average Joes in appearance? The rule and not the exception is that men are idealized as powerful while women are idealized as attractive. How many games do you play as men who are not empowered in some kind of way? Other than some exceptions like many survival horror games, not so much. Now Iím not in any way saying that being designed to be powerful is even remotely similar to being designed to be merely sexy, but I could spent awhile going on about that, which I wonít go any further about that here to still focus on the sex appeal of female video game characters. However, outside of empowerment, I like to make a quick mention about how Japanese games and anime tend to feature pretty boys as their idealized males, especially since itís rare for a male lead character to not be a pretty boy.

ďFemale gamers lack good role models.Ē

Finally, people have complained about the lack of female role models in gaming, but do they really think many modern male ďheroesĒ in gaming are role models? Can you only have a role model of someone of the same sex as you? Are there no male characters that females can view as role models and vice versa? If an anti-gamer complained that video game characters are bad role models for children, how many characters can we show them to prove them wrong for higher rated games? Considering the nature of games, many games are not focused on moral lessons and such are possible not the best media to look for role models.

ďAlyx Vance and Jade from Beyond Good & Evil are positive role models.Ē

These two ladies are given so much praise because they look realistic. Now Iím not denying that they very well indeed may have strong character, but this mostly only gets brought up because of how they look. If they were designed with more sex appeal, but otherwise had the same personality, they would not be considered good role models. How many female characters that are considered sexual appealing have ever been considered a role model from the same people that consider Alyx and Jade role models? Now Iím not gonna invalid my own argument and do the opposite by acting like a female character canít be ďgoodĒ if they donít have sex appeal, but itís just that a lot of it still comes down to judging by appearance. There have been people that even blamed the poor sales of Beyond Good & Evil due to Jade not being a sex symbol.

ďPeople focus too much on the sex appeal of female video game characters.Ē

Itís a common complaint that those that like the sex appeal of female characters focus too much on appearance, when those complaining about it are doing the same thing. It may be for different reasons, but they are still judging if a female character is good or not based on how much sex appeal she has. Am I the only one seeing a double standard here or is my argument invalid for one reason or another?

Itís like if a woman is designed with sex appeal, sheís ultimately a bad character who solely appeals to horny heterosexual males. Itís like sex appeal is always a negative trait and if a woman has it, anything positive about her is thrown out the window. Itís like it comes down to the two extremes of ďstrong and little to no sex appealĒ or ďsexy bimbo with no character otherwiseĒ. Even from what I gathered on say, the Rev Rant on Sexy Heroines, itís just one or the other. Itís like thereís this black and white thinking that applies to a lot of subjects with little to no room for gray middle ground and sex appeal is largely one of those.

ďWomen are under pressure to look like these fantasies.Ē

So once again, I know, Iím a heterosexual male, so what do I understand about this? There is no way I can deny that far greater pressure is put on women than men to look attractive. On the other hand, itís almost like itís being ignored that men donít have pressures put on them too when it comes to appearance, although to a lesser extent. Men and women are pressured to not appear fat, for example. Is it really worth being with or making an attempt to impress someone that judges what people should look like based on fantasy? Men who expect their women to look like perfect models are mistaken and so are women who expect themselves to look like that. Seriously, do there not exist women who realize that they donít have to crater to rare or impossible body types? Are we saying that women are too weak to not try to crater to idealized standards and spend thousands of dollars in the process? Itís almost like peer pressure in a way. While Iím not quite able to relate to the peer pressure of appearance, I can when it comes to other things, like when I was in high school and decided to not want to be a part of the stupidly of most of the students there. I much rather be an outcast than crater to such narrow standards. Life story aside, maybe itís long overdue for many women to do the same for impossible body standards.

For you ladies, if a guy doesnít want to be with you because you donít look like a supermodel, he just did you a favor. I say that because is it really worth wanting to be with someone that judges you that much by impossible standards? All those stereotypical teenage boys online who act like real life women should look like those in the media is just saving you time in not trying to become friends with them. They basically show how narrow they are in a pretty quick way.

ďSex appeal can rule a manís judgment.Ē

I am fully aware that males can easily focus on sex appeal to the point of losing focus on other things. I do know that simply appealing to sexual desires is enough to sell a product and otherwise hardly put any effort into it. However, just because a game with sex appeal and horrible game play is panned by critics doesnít always mean the developers focused more on sex appeal then game play. It also doesnít mean that developers canít make a good game with a sexy heroine.

Itís easy to say a game like X-Blades has horrible game play simply because of the sex object that is the heroine and that the developers may have focused more on that then anything else. This same argument has been used for games with high production values in graphics as well that get panned. Not that Iím here to defend that game, especially since it sounds like a case of ďsex object with little characterĒ and not ďstrong character with sex appealĒ. It also doesnít help that action games with strong focus on sex appeal tend to do have horrible game play and the opposite is the exception.

The developers of Bayonetta are certainly not trying to hide the fact that the lead character has sex appeal, but at the same time, it also appears that they actually care about making the game play remarkable. They appear to be going by game play before sex appeal instead of vice versa. This is just going by impressions and not a review of final product itself, a subject I covered in one of my previous c-blogs.

So to quickly touch on something else related to this before this c-blog becomes long enough to publish a book on, thereís games designed mostly to sexual appeal to men like Dead or Alive and the concept of breast physics. Breast physics in general can be a quick way to turn a female character into a sex bimbo. With the two beach spinoffs, especially since they only feature the female characters from the series as playable, itís no secret that the real stars are just a pair of breasts attached to a womanís body, along with the sport they play so the breasts have an excuse to move. Even in this highly sexualize male fantasy; there are some women out there who enjoy playing the games for the dress up factor. I canít deny that the main focus here is the sex appeal and it may very well turn off many female gamers, but this is another aspect of people designing what they like. Just like games designed around shooting because people like that, these games exist because of the people that like sex appeal.

So to wrap this up, there may be a case for women in gaming merely being sex objects and hardly more, but itís almost like a woman canít be sexy and still have strong character. However, if women in gaming being sex objects first and characters second is the main issue, then why not directly mention that instead of using some of these other arguments to indirectly address it? As long as we are sexual beings, this will never stop. However, there is a fine line between controlling it and letting it control us. Somewhere within a subject as complex as human sexuality, I must have completely missed the point somewhere. Even this c-blog can barely touch the surface on a subject this complex and if I keep going, would easily be triple the length or more. It gets longer anytime I go back through it and have more thoughts on the matter. So letís hear the agreements, disagreements, and whatnot.
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I played a lot of games over the years and out of the many kinds of games I played, RPGs were included. I used to love these games and could play them for hours on end. However, as I got older and less OCD about gaming, I started to get really bored of many RPGs out there and for the most part, I donít touch them that much these days. However, I havenít completely given up on RPGs, but it will take a lot for me to get into one nowadays. Iím not here to say ďRPGs suck and should go die in a fire!Ē, but instead, ďhow I think RPGs could be improved because I want to like more of themĒ. Thereís much I could talk about when it comes to these games and how I think they could be better, although Iím hardly the only one. Assuming I donít get too lazy (which is likely), I could talk about tons of subjects like level grinding, drop rates, missable items, linear progress, ultimate weapons, element based weaknesses, and more. I think Iíll just start off from the beginning, as in the beginning of the games. I donít think this has been talked about as much as many other aspects of RPGs.

RPGs can have a bunch of weapons, spells, various party members, and more. However, at the start of the game, you may be stuck with one or two party members and limited to just attack and using potions every now and then. Often, I tend to dread the beginning of a RPG the most, at least if I play it for the second time, because there tends to be little strategy thatís made up of mashing attack and using a healing item every now and then. Sure it usually gets more complex later, but at the start, not so much. Now, since Iím not here to hate on RPGs, I wonít single them out for this. Oldskool style shooting games where you progressively get better weapons tend to have a bunch of fancy weapons (with limited ammo), but youíll only start off with a pea shooter which I often find boring to use. Racing games will advertise a bunch of fancy cars that can go over 200 MPH, but at the start of the game, youíll end up driving an used car that looked like it survived a couple of whacks and can barely go faster than an interstateís speed limit.

Anyway, Iím the kind of person that likes depth and strategy to ultimately be the deciding factor in battles, not just sheer overpowering through higher numbers. Iíll get to that sooner or later, proven I donít get too lazy. I find it very dull when your entire strategy is just to mash attack over and over and win simply because youíre stronger than what you face. I think a perfect example of this are the Pokťmon games. They have hundreds of Pokťmon and hundreds of moves that can lead to really in-depth strategy thatís more than just winning by sheer power alone (at least in the metagame), but this depth doesnít come till later. At the beginning, you have a level 5 Pokťmon that can only use Tackle (or something very similar) and a basic attack or defensive raising or lowering move. Along the first couple of routes or so, you tend to fight Normal types and Flying types, at which point, are also stuck using Tackle and tend to be level 2 or 3. Basically, the beginning of the game boils down to just a Tackle-fest and you only coming out on top because your Pokťmon is higher level.

Another game I feel that suffers greatly from this is Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. So the series is considered an Action RPG, but a RPG nonetheless. In this game, actions like attacking and casting spells is done through the use of cards. These cards can also be used two or three at a time to combine into more powerful moves (called sleights) then just using these cards by themselves. There are many of these sleights and the game is designed in such a way that you should use these more than the cards by themselves, especially later on. By the end of the game, you can have quite a bit of cards and quite a bit of sleights to mix and match. However, at the start of the game, you have very little options. It basically comes down to just mashing attack and spamming attack cards before you get access to more depth and strategy, even if that strategy is spamming the same sleights over and over. So when I decided to play the game again on Proud (hard) mode, I was thinking that ďoh boy, Iím gonna make these unique decks and sleights so I can do more than spam attack for most of the gameĒ, yet it turns out such options were almost non-existence at the beginning of the game.

I feel that you should have access to a lot more depth and strategy right from the start of the game instead of later on. I donít like having to play about half way or so through the game before I can feel like I have a variety in how I can battle. Just because the story progressive may be linear doesnít mean the battle system has to be too before they decide you can do more than attack. At best, you may be able to cast a basic elemental spell as well aside attack and using a potion. When I talk about variety, Iím also talking more than just ďshould I use Fire I or Fire II that only has a power and MP cost difference?Ē, but thatís another in-depth subject for down the road. When I say more options, I mean starting off with more weapons, spells, and techniques to play off weaknesses and more status effect options.

Of course, there has to be a reason why the developers decided that you hardly have access to most of the techniques at the start of the game. I have a couple of theories on that. My first theory is that they may do this to ease you into the game and not overwhelm you too much, so you may hardly be required to think much at all besides the attack or potion options. From here, they can slowly add more options before suddenly, you have many ways you can win. This can be a way of keeping the difficulty down by not having to worry as much about what you can do. My other theory is that they want to hook you into the game by giving you access to new stuff as you progress. A game tends to be more interesting if thereís new stuff to discover over the span of the game isnít it? The developers figure that aside from story and setting changes, youíll want to keep going to see what new weapon or spell you may discover next that can change how you play, even if slightly. So in a way, itís like ďI know I barely have any options right now, but later, Iíll be able to do all kinds of cool stuffĒ. I feel that this is a long standing trope that I would like a game to break from the norm and give you far more options from the beginning, so even if you replay the game over and over, youíll be able to play it differently by using different strategies.

So how do you feel about this? Do you think the start of a RPG is fine the way it is when you start with very limited combat options or should you start off with more? Know any RPGs out there which give you a greater variety and actual strategy right from the get go?

One of the things that I been hearing about a lot, especially with the existence of the Wii, is that game controllers have became too complex. I heard this argument from non-gamers and gamers alike. Iím also aware that most modern games usually throw in a function on every single button just for the sake of doing so as not to have that one odd button that doesnít do anything. However, I think this ďtoo complexĒ thing may be just an excuse, as hardcore elitist as that may sound, especially with such a bold statement as the c-blog title. Sure I may have grown up back in simpler times when controllers had far less buttons on them, but I say a couple of generations ago with the likes of the PSOne and N64, along with 3D gaming in general, controllers didnít get much more complex from there. After all, itís not like controllers look like this (yet)Ö

I think we have gotten a lot better in fact. Remember some of the old controllers back when games were a lot less complex, yet some developers decided to throw in a keypad for some reason?

This is compared to controllers back in the day that had a big joystick and a button or two at most. It got so confusing that many games would come with an overlay for the controller. However, looking at the screen and trying to look at the controller doesnít seem like it would do well for surviving in the game. AnywayÖ

Modern controllers may sound confusing when broken down into a d-pad, four face buttons, two triggers, two shoulder buttons, two analog sticks which also acts as two buttons, two menu buttons, and a home button that this generation added. However, itís about 12 buttons overall, although the d-pad tends to act as four extra buttons in many modern games. The back/select and start buttons are not really used as part of normal game play controls, but usually to open up menus. The left and right analog sticks have largely universe use, like how the right stick tends to move the camera. A/X usually jumps in many games. A/X goes ahead in menus, while B/Square tends to go back in menus. The shoulder buttons on the right tend to shoot in most 3rd and 1st person shooters. Pressing down the left analog stick in many FPSs will duck while pressing down the right stick tends to zoom in. Basically, there are many standards across games and itís not like the buttons act completely different across any given game.

Many modern games tend to start off with some sort of controller tutorial which is often done through showing you what buttons do what. Itís also a standard to often show you what button to press like when in front of a weapon to pick up or something to press. They donít completely throw you in the dark about how to control the game. Not to mention the manual explains it and even if the manual isnít on hand, there may be a controls menu in the game itself, although itís not too common to see these days. Either way, we donít need this kind of controllerÖ

My point of bringing this up is that ultimately itís something that will take some getting used to. Of course someone isnít gonna get far if they quit within the first five minutes if they even get far enough to hold a controller. Iíll argue that the keyboard is a lot more complex to master, since there are many keys and the letters are scattered around in a way that would be pretty confusing at first. I know I didnít start off not looking at the keyboard and being able to use muscle memory to know where the keys are at. PC games that are not designed with consoles in mind will usually have many keys do something. If someone can use a keyboard, surely they can easily master a game controller. Now I am fully aware of the difference in that knowing how to use a keyboard is basically a required skill in this computer age unlike using a game controller. Itís not like youíre really gonna run into any setbacks if you donít know how to use the DualShock 3, compared to the many you can run into if you donít know how to use a keyboard.

Another comparison that may or may not be so good is comparing game controllers to musical tools. Both of them (especially the latter) can take time to learn, but can prove to be fun once you know what youíre doing. Now granted that guitars and such are much more mainstream and far more likely to earn you money and become famous than a 360 controller, they both take time to learn in one way or another.

Time to shift gears to another topic about controllers since Iím currently going on about them. One of the things that Iím tired of hearing about is people complaining that people use the Classic or GameCube controller in Wii games that allow them. Brawl and Mario Kart Wii are among two big examples of Wii games that allow a wide range of controllers to be used. Itís like according to these people, youíre supposed to use the Wiimote or youíre missing the point of the console. When I say Wiimote, I also mean the Nunchuk, Zapper, Wii Wheel, or any other attachment that isnít the Classic Controller. Itís like youíre a better person if you have a golden wheel in MKW for mostly using the wheel compared to those that use more standard controllers. Itís like everything can be better with the Wiimote. Now Iím not here to bash the Wiimote, but I am tired of its fanboys that act like itís either their way or the highway.

I think one factor these people overlooked is that the developers offer this as a choice. If the developers didnít want people playing their games with standard controllers, they wouldnít allow the option to do so, simple as that. For one reason or another, they allowed standard controllers to be used in the games that itís possible to do so for. If they really thought that the Wiimote should be the only way to play their game, than they would have made it so. Maybe they think that not every game needs to use the Wiimote to the full extent just because the game is on the Wii. It would be like complaining that every DS game doesnít make heavy use of the touch screen or the mic. Whatís the point in raging against players that choose to use an option enabled by the developers? In complaining that those who use the GameCube controllers are hardcore elitists, these people have become hardcore elitists in their own way by acting like the Wiimote is the only proper way to play a Wii game. The hypocrisy of this is pretty painful to me.

So to sum up everything, people that complain controllers are too complex should give them a chance first instead of just dismissing them altogether. Also the Wiimote-only elitists are just fighting a pointless battle as far as I can see it.
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