My Life In Neon

Sci Fi / Fantasy writer Autumn Nicole Bradley – Dream in digital, live in neon

Archive for the tag “queer”

Player 2: A game by Lydia Neon

Play Player 2

Play Player 2

Player 2 is a game about resolving conflicts with others that involves the real experiences of the player as an experiment into exoludic games.

Player 2 was created for the “Your Enemies Don’t Have To Die For You To Win” #CreativeConflictJam

 

Play Player 2 here

 

Update 8/30/13: Player 2 shirts are now available!

My Queer Identity Labels (According to YouTube Captions)

So, a while back I did a Seven Questions video for the We Happy Trans project. A friend’s fun with her YouTube captions made me decide to check out my own. So I grabbed my most-watched video and turned captions on:

2013_05_03 - 001

Bustin (Lesbian)

2013_05_03 - 002

Holly Harris (Polyamorous)

2013_05_03 - 003

Alone (um)

2013_05_03 - 004

Transactional (Transsexual)

2013_05_03 - 005

Androgynous woman (Hey, they got this one right!)

All of this is perfect. (Yes, yes it is)

All of this is perfect. (Yes, yes it is)

“I am Zelda, and I’ll be fighting for my own kingdom!”

How a sprite swap changes the story

Yesterday, Leon Arnott dropped several links related to gender-swapped games. Among them was this gem.

(The Legend Of ) Zelda Starring Zelda by Kenna W

According to Kenna, this came in reaction to Anita Sarkeesian’s Tropes vs Women in Videogames – Part 1: Damsels in Distress. (If you haven’t seen it, open it in a new tab and make that the next thing you do today.) In it, Sarkeesian deconstructs the “Damsel In Distress” narrative trope, which is very nearly a defining characteristic of The Legend of Zelda series. Zelda is captured by Ganondorf, Link grabs a sword to rescue her, rinse, repeat.

Yet, this is all in retrospect. When I was a kid, I had no concept of any of the gender issues* with the game; this was just a really cool game. I do recall asking why the title was The Legend of Zelda since it was about Link, and in fact, I discovered the secret Second Quest because I named Link “ZELDA” in order to make the title make sense in my 6 year old head. My most powerful memories of the original game weren’t related to gender theory, my most powerful memories were of playing side by side with my father as we mapped out each dungeon ourselves because I was still getting terribly lost. (For the young’ns, we didn’t have GameFAQs in the 1980s) I learned my right hand from my left hand by telling my dad which rupee to pick in the rupee gambling tree.

(*I recognize that its transparency was due to the normative nature of dominant gender categories, not because I was somehow immune to that indoctrination.)

"I am Zelda, and I'll be fighting for my own kingdom!"

“I am Zelda, and I’ll be fighting for my own kingdom!”

So when I sat down to play the romhack and saw Zelda hoist the sword above her head for herself, ready to take back her kingdom, I cried.

Already, this is not the same game I played as a child.

This idea of a woman doing it for herself brought to mind something else:

How did we get here? How did we get to the point where simply seeing Zelda with the sword is enough to cause such intense feelings to well up? Well, with regards to The Legend of ZeldaSarkeesian makes this point:

“Over the course of over more than a dozen games spanning a quarter century, all of the incarnations of Princess Zelda have been kidnapped, cursed, possessed, turned to stone, or otherwise disempowered at some point. Zelda has never been the star in her own adventure, nor been a true playable character in the core series.”

The eponymous character in a series of save-the-world adventure games has never saved her own kingdom. All of her power as princess, as guardian of the Triforce, and as a person with agency are swept aside every single time. In fact, the very idea that all of her power is useless compared to a boy with a wooden sword makes me doubt every claim made about her ability, wisdom, and magical power. Instead, those sound a lot more like selling points, things that make her a more valuable prize to whichever man (Link or Ganon) has control of her when the clock runs out, and a lot less like reasons to think she’s a person in her own right.

She’s not just any girl, she’s a rich girl with a kingdom and a magical trinket! But don’t worry! She’s not actually powerful enough or willful enough to be a threat to your rule once you capture her.

That pattern of disempowerment and the refusal to give the title character a playable role in the main series can’t possibly send any other message.

More than just pixels

It’s easy think of this as just a simple flipping of the script, or to look at what Kenna W did and write it off as just shifting pixels around. But in fact, flipping the script works as a tool to highlight sexism precisely because it puts front and center the way men and women are regarded and treated differently. It is not, itself, a solution to sexism, but the very idea that a story’s meaning and spirit can be changed by such a simple thing as a sprite swap shows that the language of gender and its related norms are infused into every aspect of our lives.

What changes when it is Zelda firing the silver arrow into Ganon’s heart at the end?

The Legend of Zelda becomes a story about her deeds, not about what men around her do. Perhaps this is too facile, but it really does change the game on a visceral level. No longer are you a boy conscripted by an old man to save a princess from another man (pig-man, I suppose, in this first incarnation of Ganondorf). You’re a woman on a quest to save her own kingdom, her own people, with her own wits and skill.

All those people you meet throughout the game are your people. They are looking to you to save them from Ganon’s tyranny, not to save their helpless, ineffectual princess. It’s easy to picture them not as simply ill-thought game mechanics (why are all these people hiding in caves?) but rather as secretive resistance, hiding in caves to avoid Ganon’s grasp. They’ve squirreled away these items to help you reclaim your homeland, their homeland. You aren’t some knight errant fighting someone else’s battle out of misguided chivalry; this is personal. This is your battle.

It’s easy to picture that old man in the cave as one of your family’s advisers, who spirited you out of the castle just in time and offers the one last thing he can: a wooden sword. It’s not your family’s heirloom blade, it’s not sufficient for the battles you have ahead, but it’s all he can offer. It becomes a physical token of hope. It may seem a trivial thing, since it was just as much a symbol of hope when passed to Link, but in investing that hope in Zelda herself and not Link, it changes everything about the meaning.

That way it changes the context tells us something about what the original story really was.

I'll be taking my Triforce piece back now, thank you.

I’ll be taking my Triforce piece back now, thank you.

When Zelda takes back the second piece of the Triforce from Ganon at the end, she’s reclaiming the power he took from her. When Link does it for her, we see it as a noble gesture that he returns her stolen Ultimate Power That Apparently Isn’t So Ultimate. When she takes back her own power, we see her as deserving in a way that she wasn’t before. When the Triforce was reduced to a bauble to be given to her as a gift, it tells us that it wasn’t anything special to begin with. Or it tells us that Link is that much more chivalrous for magnanimously returning something he has no obligation to return. After all, he did even more than Ganon did to get it. We can rationalize it with magical woo that by keeping it for himself he’d be somehow undeserving blah blah. But that’s an incredibly broken metaphor compared to the unity provided by Zelda proving herself worthy of its power by reclaiming it for herself and by extension, for her people she’s fighting to protect.

Another thing it reveals is just how unnecessary Zelda was to the original story. Being a sprite swap means that the pre-scripted ending sequence just features Link in her place. But now that we know that Zelda has been fighting to save her own kingdom, to reclaim her own power, and to save her own people, who the hell is this dude at the end? She wasn’t fighting to “get the boy.” The purpose of the adventure wasn’t to “win the heart of the prince”, it was to save her fucking kingdom from a tyrant. He’s not a prize, he’s an afterthought.

That disparity between Zelda’s motivation and Link’s should tell us everything we need to know about the Damsel In Distress trope.

Resetting Reset – Call for submissions for Reset: Expanded Edition

Deadline: Feb 2nd, 2013

(I have to put a deadline on this because classes will be starting and I want to be able to get this all done)

Turtles All The Way Down

“Turtles all the way down…”

First off, I’m glad so many people enjoyed Reset!

One of the things I heard most was that it was too linear. Mea culpa, I was working within the time constraints of the Big Chaos Twine Jam so I made the choice to limit how far the story could branch. After all, I had a very particular story I wanted to tell, and finding clever ways to branch and then still reach that ending isn’t a trivial task! After all, one of the best things about Twine is its accessibility for people with limited spoons (or another metaphor of choice).

That’s where you come in.

There were breadcrumbs of subplots scattered throughout the game. I want you to pick one and develop it further, and submit your work for inclusion in Reset: Expanded Edition.

Submission Guidelines

1) Download the source.

2) Choose one of these three nodes as branch points: “your apartment”, “wrong”, or “turtles 2”.

  • turtles 2: If you choose this node, you are going to write an alternate loop. Essentially, this means the player will play through an entirely new loop designed by you that will in turn lead to “recurring”, closing the loop and continuing to the ending. The first node in your submission will be where a link in “turtles 2” (that I will add, don’t worry about this) lands.
  • your apartment: If you choose this node, rather than following the Alison breadcrumb, choose one of the other breadcrumbs and take the plot that way. Your first node in your submission should be where you land after clicking a link from your apartment to your first node.
  • wrong: Branching from here means allowing the player to refuse Alison entirely. Your first node will be reached by a link in “wrong” that provides an alternative to the forced acceptance.

3) You must end on “Turtles all the way down” in some form, whether kink or not, in order to kick out of the loop you’ve created.

4) Do not modify any of the existing nodes. Instead, create your nodes below the existing nodemap.

5) You do not need to worry about scripting anything fancy, but you may if you wish. If you have something minor that you can’t figure out, feel free to simply include an explanation of what you think the code should do.

6) Style Guidelines: Italics are reserved for first person memories and communications with and via headware. Communication follows the format //[ message ]//. Use single brackets, double brackets will create links and we don’t want that.

7) I encourage you to expand beyond the realm of kink.

 

I reserve the right to make edits as needed to ensure the story flows and is able to be completed.

 

Completed submissions can be sent to AUTUMN (at) LIFEINNEON.COM

Good luck!

 

<3 Much love. Take care of each other.

_-*

Reset: A game by Lydia Neon

Screenshot of Reset by Lydia Neon

Play Reset

Reset is a game about the bizarre, frightening, and exciting possibilities for kink in the cyborg / transhuman future.

Who can you trust with your source code if you can’t trust your Administratrix?

Reset was created with Twine as part of the Big Chaos Twine Jam.

 

Play Reset Here

 

 

Melissa Harris-Perry: Transgender In America

From six months ago, but it remains a class act.

Melissa Harris-Perry, April 15, 2012 – One of the best explanations of cis/trans out there, and a fabulously straightforward display of being an ally without making any kind of big deal of doing so.

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