Never Alone is a game about learning! Well not that kind of learning; there’ll be no point and click hunts for trivia here as instead it will imbue us all with the knowledge of Alaska Native cultures and their century’s old stories via the medium of adventuring and video games. As a young Iñupiat girl named Nuna, alongside her trusty fox (whose name is literally Fox, which is brilliant), we’ll take on a rough Alaskan setting that will chill our button-pressing thumbs to the bone and send shivers down our spines with some beautifully crafted design. There’s also gameplay that involves lots of puzzles and we’ll meet such characters from Iñupiat history as “The Sky People”, “Manslayer” and “Rolling Heads” so you know this’ll be a good’un. More on Never Alone after the break.
Characters of Colour in Video Games
The year is 1975; you’ve got a handlebar moustache itchier than a trouser leg full of poison ivy, some stir crazy goldfish in the heel of your platform shoes and this song is probably playing in the background. I would imagine, anyway. I wasn’t even alive in the 70s so I don’t really have a clue but what I do know is that according to LA Cops it was full of jive talkin’ punks (!) that needed to be put down with a swift dose of justice in the form of the bullets that fly unabashedly from your guns. Hey, keeping criminals off the streets doesn’t always mean you stay on the right side of the law but police guidelines were really crummy back then and besides, bad guys are called that for a reason. More on LA Cops after the break.
“Xbox One, the all-in-one entertainment system from Microsoft”, that’s the almost laughable quote that Microsoft mandates is added to every press release and official statement about games released on their brand new platform. When it was announced back in May 2013 that the console would have a focus on media not just of the video gaming sort, the bile and vitriol spewed against the decision was unavoidable. But with millions of paying customers now looking for a way to get televised content in front of their eye sockets, Microsoft have delivered a swift ‘stuff you’ to those critics having moved ahead with their Xbox Originals program to bring original TV billing to the Xbox One and Xbox 360. It could still go wrong and come crashing down around their ears which is why we’ve outlined 5 things they need to do to make Xbox Originals a resounding success.
When Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag launched last year I praised it and included it on my list of PS4/Xbox One launch titles to watch. It had a white protagonist but (on PlayStation) it let you play as Aveline, a mixed-race woman whose mother is a slave and it also introduced us to Adewale, a former slave who became Edward Kenway’s First Mate on the Jackdaw.
In AC4 slavery is undoubtedly a focus of the game, with plantations as common as the hairs on your head and slavemasters being met with the pointy end of Edward’s sword more than a handful of times, but many aspects were jarring and being told that you’d freed ‘8 out of 10 (nameless) slaves’ in a series of optional side-quests s didn’t feel like it was doing the realities of slavery much justice.
There has to be a game that depicts the horror of slavery right though; gaming needs its 12 Years a Slave or its Django Unchained* and new game Thralled will be the story-telling masterpiece to do it.
You don’t get to restoring world peace and completing a game without making a few enemies or friends who would be willing to take an orc’s club to the face for you in battle. At least, not in Dragon Age: Inquisition anyway, as the game is set to follow its predecessors by offering party tactic gameplay, seeing you micromanage the relationships you have with your team like the most efficient Queen Bee. However, the game isn’t out yet and so we know next to nothing about the characters unless we get drip-fed info by developers BioWare, like our merciful overlords. BioWare have now taken a little pity on us by revealing some info and you an read about the newest Dragon Age: Inquisition character after the break.
Racism still exists. From the day to day micro-aggressions muttered under breaths, to the vocal suggestions in protests and online that any person of colour is less than their white peers and to the systematic oppression of those who don’t happen to be white. It’s around us and poisonously so, to the point where it infiltrates every aspect of society. A place where it is most called into question and analysed is video games, where a (small, but meaningful) margin of non-white characters are seen. But can the behaviours of these characters influence our views on race? A new study seems to think so.
Welcome to the Rapid Fire Reading List! The world wide web is a big place and my deadlines are always close! So this is where I put all of the interesting links from the week when I haven’t had time to cover them for J Station X. Sometimes they cover feminism/gaming/queer theory and occasionally they cover all three! Read on to find out which big stories were making the headlines this week.
Like most other game sites, we run on willpower, a non-existent budget and a love of gaming, but unlike other sites, J Station X is also fuelled by a whole lot of anger and a little bit of indignation that the video game industry that we know and love still continuously fails to represent women in games, people of colour and those who identify as LGBTQ. It’s for that reason that I’ve put together the first annual Video Game Diversity Report so that we can yell back statistics when the mob bangs on the door protesting that gaming must stay as a Straight, White Boys Club. Read my findings after the break.
Sometimes, you just want a change. You want fresh, new, original takes on genres that you love while the publisher wants reskinned sequels like a plucked chicken with a coat on. But we’ve had 7 whole years of that and the time is now to throw the system out the window attached to a giant lead balloon, and Sony’s upcoming PS4, could be the very console to start that revolution.