Thursday, March 27, 2014

How 'Gone Home' Subverts Genre Expectations and the Conventions of the Medium Itself

A bit of a chewy title, I admit, but I wrote an article on how Gone Home subverts player expectations of genre, as well as how it plays with the medium and what we consider a "video game." Also, some queer issues and how much media handles them.

Check it out at The Rainbow Hub.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Review: Dangan Ronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc (PS Vita)

High school is hell.

Dangan Ronpa tops it with murders and deadly class trials.

Check out my full review here.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Game Review: Gone Home

Hey, readers.

I've recently begun reviewing games over at The Rainbow Hub, a nifty little site dedicated to filtering the world with gender/sexual minority issues. It's pretty cool, and the writing I've seen come from there has been pretty intriguing, full of great meta.

Check out my review of Gone Home.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Review: Tomb Raider (PS3)

Survive, Lara.

Courtesy of Wikipedia.

First and foremost, I'd like to state that my previous experience with the Tomb Raider franchise is limited to watching the Angelina Jolie films when they came out, and running around Lara's mansion for all of five minutes in the original game. That being said, I'm all for games featuring female leads, and I've been itching
for a new, fun action game.

Tomb Raider is that game. Developed by Crystal Dynamics, who have created titles such as Legacy of Kain and the more-recent Tomb Raider: Underworld and Lara Croft: Guardian of Light, and published by Square-Enix, Tomb Raider is a reboot of the franchise, chronicling Lara's first adventure in the Dragon's Triangle.

Read on for the full review...

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


After a lot of thought, several friends and I have decided to add a new imprint to Beyond the Joystick: Desumation. Desumation will focus on Let's Plays, with a core group of three people: Kenze, Lini, and me.

The imprint began as a simple idea in our heads. We tried out the beginning of Slender: The Arrival and freaked out, and decided it'd be potentially hilarious to stream our reactions to the game.
Kenze's logo. We're all ashamed.

Lini came up with the name, a tongue-in-cheek reference to our Japanophile pasts.

Desumation's a lot less formal than the rest of Beyond the Joystick. As it's our real reactions to what we're playing, there will be general cursing and dumb jokes.

Hit the jump for our bios...

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Gaymercon 2013

Image from Gaymercon.
I learned recently that a convention catering specifically to queer gamers--that is, gamers whose sexual orientation is not heterosexual--called "Gaymercon" will be held in August 2013. Prominent games writer Jim Sterling went so far as to write about the importance of such an event over at Destructoid.

Naturally, reactions elsewhere on the internet are not quite so positive.

Sterling's article was wonderful, but I wanted to say in my own words why I feel that a convention like this is important. Keep in mind, nobody's trying to segregate anything: Gaymercon is open to straight people, bisexual people, gay people, asexual people, pansexual people, and any other form of sexual orientation, race, or gender you can think of. Creating a gathering of people with a shared characteristic, be it interest or something immutable, is not segregation. If this convention were an attempt to segregate people by sexuality, then only queer people would be allowed into it. Uniting shared characteristics and segregation are two completely different things.

I see many people using arguments such as "Why do we even need this? They're already the minority and we don't need this shoved in our face!", "This is useless! They just want to segregate themselves and they're not actually promoting equality!", or "This is stupid! Why would you exclude people?!"

The fact is that the majority of gaming--the majority of nerdy/geeky anything--is geared toward heterosexual people. Yes, the majority of the world's population is heterosexual... but gamer culture is disproportionately so. The amount of straight characters vastly outweighs the amount of queer characters, to the point where they seem to be in only several specific franchises. To gay people, that's really alienating. Having a group of people that share that experience can be just as cool as having a group of people that share the experience of enjoying video games in general.

Nobody is trying to exclude anybody here. While we need to push for an accepting atmosphere in bigger gamer gatherings--San Diego Comic-Con, for instance--Gaymercon is not trying to exclude anyone. Having a gathering for a set of interests or characteristics isn't about excluding others; it's about including people who may feel alienated in other settings.

Go play a game of Call of Duty or Halo online. Listen to the insults thrown around: "Gay". "Homo". "Faggot". Some people want to move away from that, and while plenty of straight people don't use those terms, they cannot know what it feels like to have a large segment of the population opposed to their entire existence, to have so many people disgusted just because they like men instead of women or vice-versa. Many gamers even seem to be more comfortable playing a female character than a gay one.

Another common argument against something like this tends to go along the lines of "We don't have straight gamer conventions!"

Even companies whose games eschew stereotypes have
booth babes. Image from Atlus Online.
Think critically: yes, we do. Go to San Diego Comic-Con and take a look around. Count how many straight couples you see holding hands. Count how many people wear wedding rings. Count how many guys talk about something their girlfriend said, or how many girls tell funny stories about their boyfriends. Look at all the booth babes, or all the official gaming art of scantily-clad female characters. It's not explicitly only for straight people, but we come back to the theme of alienation: I know I certainly sometimes feel excluded at big conventions. I have to worry sometimes about flirting with the wrong person--consciously or not--, about showing affection with a boyfriend, about saying the wrong thing... or risk getting ridiculed or even assaulted. I should not have to feel this way in a nerd convention; I am a nerd, and I should feel accepted and comfortable in that setting.

Nobody here is trying to "politicize" gaming. Sexuality is not inherently political, but it is inherently human, whether it be sex drive, a lack of of it, an overabundance of it, or a different manifestation of it. Just as much as Heterosexual Man A wants to walk around holding his girlfriend's hand, Homosexual Woman A wants to do the same with her girlfriend. It's as simple as that.

What I feel the core of this entire incident is the feeling of exclusion. Gaymercon is not trying to segregate gay gamers from the rest of the gamer population; it's not trying to exclude straight people; it's not trying to pull away from the main gamer culture and not affect it. It's trying to make a comfortable space for gamers of sexual minorities who may feel ostracized in other gaming settings. While we need to push for greater representation of minorities in games, that doesn't mean that having a space to our own--whether it be for RPG gamers, fighting gamers, or queer gamers--is counterproductive. It's simply another way to feel accepted, just as the idea of a bigger convention is.

I'm going to close this post by linking you guys to a collection of others' opinions that are in line with mine. Perhaps they could word it better than I could; I think they're well worth reading, and more succinct than I could be.
Post 1

Post 2

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Review: The Amazing Spider-Man (360)

Stay frosty, web-head.

Cover from
The Amazing Spider-Man, contrary to the title, is not based off of the 2012 film of the same name. Developed by Beenox, the creative minds behind the two most recent Spider-Man games--Spider-Man: Edge of Time and Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions--, The Amazing Spider-Man is actually a sequel to the Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone movie reboot. Although the game is a movie tie-in, it does its best to feel like a fully-fledged game; while it can be a tad tedious at times, it's certainly a strong game in its own right.

Read on for the full review--but please be aware, there will be spoilers for the film.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Review: Silent Hill: Downpour (360)

Stay out of the rain.

Images in this review are from
Silent Hill Historical Society.
Silent Hill: Downpour is the newest installment in the long-running Silent Hill survival horror series. A standalone game developed by Vatra Games, it does not require prior knowledge of the series to understand it, although there are references sprinkled throughout to previous Silent Hill games. Downpour is atmospheric and delivers a compelling story, but its potential is somewhat marred by occasional framerate stutters and lackluster monster designs. Read on for the review...

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses

Image from Destructoid.
I had the opportunity recently to see The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses at the Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona. It was certainly worth going to; the music was excellent as always, the symphony was flawless, and the accompanying video made it a visual treat as well. Read on for a full account...