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Fallout 4: Why Can’t I Be a Soldier?!

Fallout 4 LogoBethesda made a big deal about how romances wouldn’t differ in Fallout 4 based on your character’s gender. I was intrigued enough by the claim, and fresh enough from my 2nd playthrough of Mass Effect (this time as FemShep, who I agree delivers a better experience), that I decided my first playthrough of Fallout 4 would be with a female Sole Survivor. The character-creation experience was encouraging at first. The banter of a married couple in front of the mirror reminded me of the banter between the Lone Wanderer’s mom and dad during the birth sequence in Fallout 3. After modeling my Sole Survivor after my FemShep, I settled into the prologue ready to relive my Mass Effect glory days, only this time with more power armor and ghouls, and less Krogan and Asari.

I saw a uniform on a closet shelf and while the dress you wear by default was okay, I was keen to get the fatigue-action on. Mouse-over, click…

“I’m so proud of him.”

Wait. What?  Continue reading Fallout 4: Why Can’t I Be a Soldier?!

Arisia 2016

Arisia logoNot that this blog has been around long enough to have much of a following yet, but I will be at Arisia 2016!

This isn’t terribly unusual for me, Arisia is local to me and I first went back in 2000.  All the same, if you’re reading this and want to discuss this stuff, I’m on two panels on Saturday that you might be interested in:

At 2:30PM, in Alcott, I’ll be making the case for my favorite video games in Best. Video Game. EVER!!!

Then, at 7PM in the same room, I’m on Does the Real World Belong In Video Games?  A discussion of video game criticism, and whether or not ‘but it’s just a game’ is a shield against that.  I moderated this panel, last year, with a host of veritable titans: Brianna Wu, Frank Wu, Maddy Myers, and N.K. Jemisin.  It was an awesome panel. Our lineup isn’t’ so star-studded this time, but it’ll still be great. I’m glad they’re running it again.

Aside from that, I’m working sign shop. If you use the stairs this Arisia? You’re welcome for those signs.  (If I could place ’em better, let me know at

See y’all there!

The Continuum of Force

In the movie, Kung Fu (yes, the David Carradine one) there is a training montage where Master Kan explains the physical and moral approach of the eponymous martial art when responding to force: “…avoid, rather than check. Check, rather than hurt. Hurt, rather than maim. Maim, rather than kill. For all life is precious, and none can be replaced.” I’m going to talk about this very important concept to conversations about violence and the justified use thereof. There’s no particular game I’m going to discuss today, but I’ll revisit this concept repeatedly whenever I offer commentary on a video game, or anything else for that matter, where violence is used to solve problems.

It seems that both the people who produce media and we as a society that consumes that media have abdicated this nuance in favor of the simpler “kill ’em all” or shooter narrative. This is not to say that games where lethal force is depicted are wrong to do so, but there is precious little else available on the market – and plenty of games where there is ample room for a more nuanced approach, but that approach is absent. I don’t expect the Call of Duty franchise to pick these themes up, for example; Call of Duty comes to the violence well after it has already been escalated. But games where the violence occurs in greyer territory (Deus Ex’s quasi-law-enforcement context, for example), and especially in the so-called ‘Open World’ games like Fallout, do a disservice to those who consume them when they phone-in a black-and-white violence spectrum.

Continue reading The Continuum of Force