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Spoilers for the end of Uncharted 3

Butch:

So that ending.

That certainly wasn’t as hard an ending as the last couple. No yetis. No zombies. The boss fight wasn’t all that hard. I liked it. Though Talbot….he was such a dweeb. Really, all we ever did was chase this guy.

Some thoughts!

1) So what was with the pattern on the thing that Drake sinks? It had that diagram. The game made a great deal about making sure you saw it had that diagram. Was that diagram in his notebook? Was that a puzzle that he was prepared to solve (and, thus, unleash the things) had he had the chance? What was that? Metaphor? They are us and we are they and we are all together? There’s been a lot of line blurring in this game, for sure.

2) You want an emotional cheat, I’ll give you an emotional cheat: Elena. Now, I get the ending. Putting on the wedding ring, leaving Drake’s ring behind, getting it from his father figure, it’s a metaphor for growing up. Settling down. Leaving this life behind. “So much for all that fortune.” “I have this.” “It’s not much.” “It’s enough.” Makes sense.

But if you’re going to do that, you can’t have the love interest AWOL though most of the game. She wasn’t even IN the first half of the game (because that part we were dealing with the woman he should have picked). Then she vanished again. So when she popped up in the last scene, it was obviously because “We need a woman here to resolve some metaphorical shit” and it lost its oomph.

3) And on this one I got nothing: The title of this game is “Drake’s Deception.” I really have no earthly idea what that might be referring to. I mean, I’ve kicked around some ideas, but…..huh?

4) We still haven’t, in this progressive age, gotten to the point where we can fight the bad guy like a bad guy if the bad guy is not, in fact, a bad GUY. I was wondering all along how there was going to be a climactic boss fight when the boss was an old woman. Would they really let us shoot an old woman? And……no. No they would not let us fight an old woman. Indeed, they had us trying to save an old woman. No, we had to fight dweeby running Talbot.

If every game has to end with a fight, and that fight has to be against the big baddie, and the big baddie has to be either a gruff dude or a monster, that’s going to put a crimp in some storytelling, it is.

We can start there.

Feminina:

I agree, wasn’t that big an end fight compared to the last two. Which is fine.

As for your questions…
1) I dunno, man. Your guess is as good as mine. Go with your line-blurring theory, it sounds deep.

2) I agree, we kind of didn’t see enough of Elena in this game for the ending to have the resonance it was going for. However, I cut it a little slack because of the key phase “in this game”: if we think of the story as a single piece spread over three installments, and hold in mind Elena as she figured in the previous sections, I can sort of make it work…We miss Elena, in the sense that we remark on her absence, and this stands in for Drake missing her in a more personal sense. More of that blurring of lines? Or just making excuses for the game?

3) I assumed the deception was Sir Francis’, in that he hid the existence of Sandlantis and the way to it…but that’s not particularly deep. Maybe there’s something more there that neither of us is seeing. Or maybe it’s just not that deep.

4) I noticed that too. It’s interesting to compare to the treatment of another female villain in 4. We’ll talk later. But it’s also arguable that Evil Helen Mirren was never a fighting kind of villain, so her non-fight end fit her character arc (why was she never a fighting kind of villain? Because of her age and sex…so it’s a bit of a circular argument, but still).

I mean, how cool does it really make Drake look if he successfully defeats an old woman in hand to hand combat? Of course, nothing says it had to be hand to hand, and she could easily have been a crack shot and made you struggle through a long gunfight sequence…I would have been totally into that. But as you say, there’s a sort of shying away from mortal combat with certain types of characters…basically anyone who’s not reasonably youthful, yet fully adult, and male. We’ve kind of talked about this before…my take is more or less that as long as those are the majority of CHARACTERS of any type in a game, it kind of makes sense that they be the ones who die. If you only have three women in your game, it’s iffy to make your PC personally murder one of them. Even if that one was a major villain, and by video game logic should definitely have died at our hands.

Now in Skyrim, where half your NPCs are female, I’ve got no issues with killing them. I dunno, it does get touchy, doesn’t it?

Butch:

It was a perfectly fine lack of hard fighting. Refreshing, actually.

And maybe a sign of when it was made. We talked about how games are moving away from the “impossible last fight” model. Maybe that shift happened in games in general around then.

1) By which you mean “I played this game so fucking long ago I have no idea what you’re talking about, so I’m punting on this one.”

2) I think it’s an excuse. I mean, a game can WANT a player to have played all of them, but can’t assume it. If you’re going to have things matter in the end, then I think you have to establish same in the game itself. Sure, it’s lucky if the player plays all three, but c’mon. They weren’t on the same disc when they came out.

3) I really have been thinking on this and I got nothing. Indeed, I was really, REALLY ready for a bigassed twist. Something that Drake had been keeping from us, Sully, everyone. But no. Very confusing title.

4) Yup. Circular argument. Her being a crack shot is what I was sort of expecting. Or even hand to hand. I mean, we establish the long ice pick knife in the opening scene. Maybe it was poisoned, or had darts or something. That seemed a good “Final boss” kind of weapon. But no.

Yeah, Skyrim or Fallout. Plenty of female raiders. If no mutants.

In Tomb Raider, we had a woman slaughtering men. Even Lara didn’t slaughter women. In The Last of Us, we had strong female characters, notably Maureen and Tess, and yet no female raiders. Hell, Tess was COLD. Remember when she shot that dude in the head in cold blood? So we can have women shooting dudes in cold blood, and we can have women dying, OFF SCREEN cuz they’ve been bit, but no raiders.

We still are prudes, we are.

Except for Bethesda.

Feminina:

1) You know me so well.

2) Yeah…you’re right, they really can’t/shouldn’t assume everyone has played the first two. Certainly not that they’ve played the first two recently enough to have character and relationship details fresh in their minds. All right, I was just making excuses for them.

3) If we’re done making excuses for them, maybe we should just conclude that the title had a nice alliterative ring to it, and possesses no deeper meaning.

4) Everyone should go the Bethesda route. It uncomplicates this whole question! I mean, seriously, if you have a ton of some type of character, you can do whatever you want with them. If you only have a token number, people are going to scrutinize what you do with the token/s (fairly so), and it’s going to be touchy.

Butch:

1) That I do.

Why do I have this feeling that if I ever do get around to Life Is Strange that so very much of our discussion about it will be along these lines?

2) You were making excuses for them. I mean, we play series games all the time. Games like Mass Effect and Dragon Age and The Witcher sort of make a point of at least trying, if briefly, to reestablish things that are relevant to the game at hand, and even more so if that relevance is crucial. You gotta do it. Remember, we’re skewed here in that we played them all in order. They weren’t made that way. Had we played them in the way they were meant, we’d be cheesed here.

3) We’ll have to go with that. Though it bugs me that there might be something I’m missing. We don’t miss things! We don’t! Not only do we not miss things, we often invent things that aren’t there, then we don’t miss THEM!

4) I don’t know why this is still so touchy. I mean, Bethesda’s been having female randits for years and years, and no one gives them shit for it, and their games are hits. I mean, it seems every developer is wringing their hands about this, sitting around going “What do we do?” and they look up, realize Bethesda isn’t joining in the hand wringing, and realize that’s because Bethesda is too busy counting its money to notice.

Strange.

Feminina:

Life is Strange…that was the one about teenage vampires and the French Revolution? I totally agree with all your interpretations of the things I don’t remember about it.

We totally don’t miss the things we invent that are in these games! And yet, I can do nothing with Drake’s Deception. I mean, maybe it’s a reference to the whole bit about Drake not being his real name? We pondered that earlier. (Or let’s say not his ORIGINAL name–I think we can argue that since he’s been using it more than half his life at this point, Drake is his REAL name.) The deception is in his very existence? His life, and this game, and everything we as players have experienced, is a lie? Which is sort of meta because duh, it IS a lie since it’s a fictional story? More line-blurring? Go with that.

Seriously, everyone–check out what Bethesda’s doing! You could do that!

Maybe other games fear that Bethesda only gets away with it because of the fantasy/post-apocalyptic settings, and that people would freak out if half the randits in a ‘realistic’ setting were women? I think we’d get over it, but I don’t know.

I mean, think about it. Imagine if half the mercenaries Drake/you just killed in Uncharted 3 had been women. The same indistinguishable features as the men in every way except some longer hair styles or a bit more curve under the drab uniform: basically just faceless bad guys we shoot without a second thought.

Would that be weird? It’s not particularly weird in Skyrim or Fallout (or no weirder than it ever is to mow down humans and humanoid beings without a second thought), but would it be weird for Drake?

I dunno. I mean, violence against women is a thing in real life. A totally non-funny thing that is obviously a sensitive issue to handle, even obliquely, in a game. People (if they think about it) probably worry about making a game where you can imagine certain types of guys getting a kick specifically out of getting to kill women. Because we can totally figure that those players exist, and that IS totally gross, and I wouldn’t want to imagine that my game was giving them any kind of kick either.

And Evil Helen Mirren being the only female villain…I dunno, certain players probably WOULD get that “haha, it was so great finally getting to kill that bitch” kick out of it, in a way that killing a male villain doesn’t do because…almost all villains are male, and it’s nothing special, and the type of player we’re imagining is also 99.99% likely to be male, and not to have the same kind of issues with men that he has with women. Even if that wasn’t written as any part of Drake’s motivation, it would play into certain potential players’ motivation in a way that the developers maybe just don’t want to have any part of, or even go anywhere near.

Let’s just drown her in quicksand! So much simpler.

And then Bethesda does it by having a ton of women villains (maybe not as many boss women villains? where the killing is more individual and personal? so maybe they haven’t completely worked out the issue either) and they aren’t as far as I know–not that I have explored the kinds of horrifying forums where this is undoubtedly discussed–hailed as having the go-to games for people who like to imagine how great it would be to kill women. Because it’s not that big a deal, there are just a lot of women around, and some of them are villains, and so in your daily villain-killing sprees you’re going to naturally kill a lot of women AND and lot of men, and it’s no bigger a deal than it usually is to kill a lot of people.

I don’t know. Touchy subject, that’s for sure.

Butch:

Teenage vampires–That’s the one!

Shit, that’ll be a bloggage wasteland, won’t it? Maybe I’ll do something else.

We have noticed absolutely everything that we’ve invented. Everything.

I give up on the title. Totally. I’m also going to preemptively give up on Horizon: Zero Dawn which, under no circumstances, can make any sense.

Back to 4) … Hmm. I suppose the obvious counter is that real life violence isn’t funny in any guise. Also, we’ve come to a point where women serve in the military, and actually ARE in harms way on a daily basis. But your point is taken.

But it can still be done in ways that aren’t nasty. I mean, we play violent games all the time without it turning our stomachs. That said, there are violent games that glamorize violence, and use it to titillate. Games like Hatred, Postal and Duke Nukem Forever are there SOLELY to make the act of killing fun, and nothing else. No story, no other gameplay, nothing. Just “Ain’t killing grand? Oh, and how about peeing on people (Postal) or taunting them (Hatred) or killing tied up pregnant schoolgirls? (Duke Nukem) That’s offensive. Period.

So there certainly is a difference between offensive carnage and inoffensive carnage, such as it is. Certainly a game that glamorized violence against women, or had, say, slightly sexualized death sounds (eww) would be repellent, but a game that just had the sort of violence we’re used to?

I mean, because people are awful, I’m sure there were weirdos that somehow enjoyed stripping corpses in Fallout. You left naked (or at least underweared) corpses in your wake. Corpses in underwear/lingerie is…..suspect. And that happened.

I still think that there is still a bunch of rather gender specific squeamishness. I mean, if we take the gameplay, PC doing the killing out of it: Tomb Raider caught volumes of shit for the death scenes. Gory gruesomeness on a pretty woman. TLOU caught NO shit whatsoever, despite the fact that Joel died in ghastly ways.

Indeed, talking on TLOU, even I am susceptible to the prudishness. I mean, late in that game, when you’re playing as Ellie, even I thought “Ok, a bit much” at the Ellie death scenes, despite the fact they weren’t as nasty as the Joel ones I had gotten used to.

Feminina:

But Life is Strange is good! You should play it! I’ll read the wiki to refresh my memory so we can discuss. Or if I finish the witcher expansion, maybe I’ll play it again!

Speaking of games you should play, I finished Gone Home the other night. It was a good use of 2-3 hours. Very interesting, different little game. Sort of like…OK, you haven’t done this yet, but near the beginning of Uncharted 4 there’s a bit where you just kind of walk around a place looking at things and occasionally commenting on them, which gives you a sense of what Drake’s life is like at this point. Also, come to think of it, the beginning of TLOU, when you’re Joel’s daughter Sarah, and you’re walking around the house looking at things before all fungoid hell breaks loose?

Anyway, this whole game is sort of like that. You walk around the house looking at objects and documents, piecing together what’s going on in your parents’ and sister’s lives and why no one is home. It’s pretty cool. It probably wouldn’t really sustain a 12-hour game, let alone a 60-hour one, but not all games have to be that long. Check it out. Sometime. I don’t know when.

The violence against women in games issue is a tough one. I think just not having women in games, or having a few and carefully making them die in ways the hero isn’t directly responsible for, is probably the easy answer but not necessarily the best one. But I can’t claim to know the best one. One thing that’s probably worth doing is discussing the question, though. So yay us! We’re part of the solution!

Offensive vs. inoffensive violence, however weird it sounds, is definitely a useful line to draw/discuss. There are absolutely games (and other media) that clearly and frankly depict violence (against male and female characters, no doubt in both gender-specific and non-specific contexts) in ways that I find gross and offensive and that I don’t want to play or otherwise consume. Where that line gets drawn when it’s less clear that “this is just that type of game” is an interesting question.

If a game is otherwise inoffensive in its violence but has slightly troubling death scenes…etc. I don’t actually remember noticing Ellie’s death scenes particularly, so I guess that to whatever extent I’d become used to the deaths from Joel’s perspective, that transferred to Ellie. Maybe I was less troubled because…I’m a woman and lack a man’s chivalrous instincts? Because I didn’t have children at the time? (No, wait, I had one…it seems like a long time since we played it, but it wasn’t THAT long ago.) Because I wasn’t paying attention? Because I kicked so much ass as Ellie that I never died? (Hahahahaha no.)

Hm…I could go back and read what we wrote about that, it seems like maybe we talked about it, but I don’t remember the details. And…I can’t find us discussing death scenes specifically, but here’s a lengthy chat about women. Some relevant points there.

Butch:

I WANT to play it! Not my fault you’re losing your memory in your old age.

I heard Gone Home was more of an exploratory experience than anything else. And short. That’s why I waited until I didn’t have to pay for it.

I’m glad because I have a plan: We’re off for our yearly week at the beach in August. Hopefully, I’ll have wrapped up UC4 by then (I’m averaging about one a month, so ok) and Gone Home. Then I can settle into the new school year (starts August 31 for fuck’s sake) and ponder the next steps. Maybe some more witcher. I miss Geralt.

4) Well, maybe “violence with a narrative point” and “violence for the sake of violence.” I mean, look at movies. We have the likes of the Godfather, and Clockwork Orange, and Schindler’s List, and Pulp Fiction, and I could go on. All violent as hell All are recognized as art, if not great art. Then we have Saw Six and Hostel 7 and Friday the 13th part 92 and Human Centipede which are violent as hell, and are tasteless garbage. And the first “art” set there HAVE to be violent to make sense. Schindler’s list without violence? Taxi Driver without the climactic final scene? Nope. Same as TLOU, Fallout, even Uncharted. Wouldn’t work. Not just from a gameplay perspective, but from a narrative perspective. It’s not just violence to gross out or shock or titillate. But Postal? Same as Human Centipede. Gross.

Ellie’s death–You are a woman, and lack those instincts, yes. And I thought I was progressive enough to lack them but no.

But I forgot something: Fallouts 1 and 2 let you kill women, and children, and anyone. Armed or not. Indeed, killed a couple kids by accident (grenades). And no bad press.

Get over it, games.

Feminina:

That’s a good plan. You can do it. I believe in you. After all, you must be on the upswing with this Lyme disease by now. You’ll have more awake time! You’ll tear through UC4.

Interesting that older Fallout let you murder women and children with impunity, and they’ve gotten more cautious with time (maybe some of their people got older and had kids?). And also that they did this and didn’t get rivers of bad press about it.

Bethesda: advancing the frontiers of equal-opportunity murder since 1997.

Wait, the original Fallout wasn’t Bethesda, was it? Too bad, that was going to be a major selling point for them at the 20th anniversary celebration next year.

Butch:

Oh, I’m over the Lyme. I feel good. Now it’s just running around cuz summer and it being hot. I mean, let’s face it: PS4=no AC, ballgame on TV=AC. Hmm.

And, well, there was also the fact that graphics have come a long way. Fallout 1 and 2 kids were not all that realistic. I mean, it was all top down, like Transistor, they were pretty pixelated. I mean, they didn’t even have faces. Today, first person, human characters, etc. More removed in the old days.

 

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