Tag Archives: streets of rage

Vidya season and Mr. Adequate is mad

It’s that time of year, when the dearth of summertime videogames leaves us behind and we begin to be swamped by an increasingly heavy deluge of videogame releases over the months running up to Christmas. Mists of Pandaria, TL2, and Resi 6 just came out, soon arriving is XCOM, then there’s AssCreed III, Dishonored, Farming Simulator 2013, Halo 4, Hitman: Absolution, ZombiU, Company of Heroes 2, and a bunch of other games besides on the way. In short, it’s a busy time for folks like us – please tell us in the comments what you’re looking forward to in the coming weeks and months, and any cunning plans you have to avoid other obligations in favor of the important things, i.e. playing videogames!

But despite this deluge of delectable distractions I’m not altogether happy. No sir. Let’s take one of the games in the above list, XCOM. Now obviously anyone will be well aware that Pike and myself are tremendous fans of the series, and from what we’ve seen the new tactical game actually has a chance of being a true successor of that series, especially with things like the difficulty modifiers for NG+ runs (In fact a couple of those, such as depleting Elerium stocks, are even more hardcore than the original!) So hooray, I can’t wait until Friday so I can play!

Please mister can I have some videogames please?

Wait, Friday? Well yes, because as you may recall I live not in the glorious United Syndicates of America but in the Union of Britain. And whilst Americans typically see things released on a Tuesday, Brits instead have Fridays. This makes some sense of course; you can grab your new videogame and run home to spend all weekend playing it. In times past it was of little consequence, but the ever-increasing ubiquity of the Internet means that this sort of thing is utterly ridiculous in this day and age.

X-COM is a digitally distributed game. I’m sure there are physical copies, but who buys those for PC games anymore? No, we’ll mostly be getting the Steam version, no doubt – and yet Steam will distribute this game to people in the UK days after those in North America. If you folks can begin to see sense in that, I’d love to hear it, because I sure as hell can’t. The really weird thing is that many companies are learning you can’t get away with that anymore, because the same distribution channels opened to them by the Internet open less savory methods up as well. I want to play X-COM, I really really do, so why am I being made to wait an arbitrary few extra days? Because it seems to me that I’ll be able to get it elsewhere without needing to wait for no reason. I hadn’t intended on turning this into a treatise on piracy, but one of the lessons learned over the years is that perhaps the single biggest thing you can do to prevent piracy is to make your product as absolutely convenient as possible for people to get. The lack of paying money is only one appeal of piracy – getting what you want how and when you want it is also a huge incentive.

So, because of the no reason whatever, British fans of X-COM (A British series, I’d point out) have to wait longer to play it. If all this seems like I’m getting mad about videogames, well – I am!

I am as mad as the grumpiest cat


No, not the Lady Gaga song, as great as it is. No I’m talking about Jihad Sultans 2 Crusader Kings 2. Let me set the scene for you guys.

Using the Character Creator I began as a German-culture Christian in Gao, and quickly expanded to take the surrounding lands and form the Kingdom of Songhai. So far so good, but then my male line seems to just end and I have nothing but daughters for like 50 years, and despite the continuation of expansion at first I’ve been struggling to keep things together. Why? Because my country is full of FAITHLESS BACKSTABBING MENDACIOUS FRAUDULENT TWO-FACED DOUBLE-CROSSING PERFIDIOUS RECREANT TRAITORS, THAT’S FUCKING WHY!

I’m so mad. I try and be a nice, benevolent ruler. But people keep rebelling and that necessitates tyranny to keep the land together – which of course makes people dislike me further. There should probably be a fear modifier for a consistently victorious tyrant because I always manage to find a way to win, whether it’s by attriting the other guys to death in the horrendously bleak deserts of Africa, taking loans until I can afford the mercenaries needed to win, or through the sheer luck of capturing the leader of a rebellion in battle.

My current Queen, Queen Luna I of Songhai and Ghana, is only 35 years old and she just put down the “Third War to Depose Queen Luna”, the “Second War against the tyranny of Queen Luna” (Caused by people who you try to arrest or revoke the titles of saying “Nah bro” and revolting instead; but I only tried to imprison them because they were involved with other revolts!), and some random attempt at independence by some podunk no-account count of Povertania, West Africa. Oh and then my still-pagan neighbors in Tarkur took a shot at me and I had to cede some territory because it was in the middle of one of those other wars.

Why is there never a vassal swarm in my DEFENSE?

Twenty-two years on the throne and already in this mess. And furthermore thanks to not having ANY SONS EVER ARGH I don’t have people I can hand landed titles out to any more; so here I am sitting pretty with a ton more provinces than I can administer and nobody loyal to give the damned things to. Mom tried that with Duke Valerian II and he got outmaneuvered by Dukes Emich I and II, the latter of whom ended up with ALL THE DUCHIES. Which meant I had to fight 3/4 of my country simultaneously because Emich II was all “Oh ho ho ho I’m not going to settle for that oh no I’m Petyr Fucking Baelish, Littlefinger big ambitions, time to betray the daughter of the woman who gave me power in the first place!” So now my country is a ruined hellhole, going from the most prosperous and powerful Christian state outside Europe to an impoverished, contracting realm with no money, no manpower, and no loyal vassals in the space of twenty years.

I love this game.

e; Oh also there’s Rome 2 announced.

Diablo, Lord of Error.

Whilst visiting Pike her brother generously donated a guest pass for Diablo III, letting me play until the Skeleton King in Act I. Back in England I gave it a try yesterday, and found it a fairly enjoyable game that seemed to lack something that D2 had which was so compelling, though I hadn’t yet identified what that was.

But this post is not about that. No, this post is about what just happened. I figured “I’ll play it for a couple of hours, see how it goes; the Cathedral was definitely better than the outdoors, maybe it continues improving.” so I fired it up. Logged in. Got this.

More like WHYablo

I was trying to play single player. Indeed, I was not yet at the point where you decide whether you’re playing solo or multi; this is just what you get. Yeahhh… no. We’re not having any of that. I’ve not spent one penny here and I am outraged at this. How people who spend LODS OF EMONE on the thing have failed to riot and burn down Blizz/Activision HQ is beyond me, but they are clearly exercising the saintly virtues that Diablo and his brothers seek to extinguish.

There is no reasonable basis for this. If you are going to make people connect to play in single-player, then you best have a reliable freaking service. Taking the servers down for regular maint does not constitute reliable. It’s fine with an MMO; heck it’s fine with any game in fact, but you best believe people should be allowed to play their single-player game in single-player mode when they want to, not when you permit them to.

In short I just uninstalled D3, I will not be buying it at any point in the foreseeable future (Blizz did me a favor actually because I have no money), and I’d urge anyone on the fence whether they want to support insane policies like this one with their patronage.

Trials and Tribulations

Yesterday I realized it had been released and so purchased Trials Evolution for the 360. I’d played Trials HD at my friend’s house a bit, and had enjoyed it thoroughly but never got around to actually picking it up for myself. With the sequel freshly out of the gate I decided to get on board right away, and it has so far proven to be a wise and judicious purchase.

This video is both very loud and very sweary, and it encapsulates the Trials Evolution experience perfectly:

In Trials, your task is, well, time trials. You’re riding a bike and you’ve got to get to the finish line as quickly as possible. Sounds easy enough right? And at first it is. But Trials is an incredibly cunning game that soon ramps up the difficulty to an absolutely insane degree; later tracks are some of the most sadistic things you will ever experience in videogaming. Let me elaborate.

The B button puts you back at the last checkpoint to try again. For a fair portion of the game you’ll only be using this occasionally, the first time through a track to learn it before you go for a decent time. By the end of the game you will be pressing that button several dozens, or hundreds, of times, in order to get through the excruciatingly difficult levels.

This is what this game does to people.

Because of one immensely insidious feature. The game unsurprisingly has global leaderboards, all well and good, but it provides ghosts of your XBL friends and their best times on any given level. And you have absolutely no freaking IDEA how much this impels you to play again, to try that level once more, to get the hang of that jump, because that bastard Barry Manilow has a better time than you and THIS WILL NOT STAND. So you play. And you play again. And again. And again. And again. Until you beat the fucker and you make sure he knows his place. You have never felt so much envious hatred for your friends when they are doing nothing at all and aren’t even around at the time.

It’s brilliant.

Mass Effect 3 Ending Discussion

I shall warn you now: This is going to be a long post, and it is also going to contain an overabundance of spoilers, not only for the very end of ME3 but plot points throughout the series. Therefore if you are not interested in having it spoilt for you, do not read beyond this point!

Now we’ve all seen the great hullabaloo surrounding the ending of Mass Effect 3 – RPS provides a good summation of the current state of affairs – and that lets us launch into one of the core points that needs to be made explicit right from the beginning. People are invested in this game, this series, and deeply so. Mass Effect has been going for five years now, encompasses three vast games, and a number of other media like books and comics. A core concept of creative endeavor is that the creator and the consumer of it are engaged in a compact – at the very simplest level this compact is that the reader/player/watching agrees to suspend disbelief, while the creator agrees to deliver a satisfying story. The suspension of disbelief is vital. When you find the story coherent and internally consistent, you’ve got yourself a stew going. When you encounter something that is obviously nonsensical, contradictory, or the like, your ability to suspend disbelief is harmed, perhaps even shattered, and that makes your ability to enjoy the tale weaker. You can read a fairly excellent summation of this whole concept here, although the last bulletpoint may not apply!

In short this does matter. It’s not just the ending of a game, it’s the ending of something that people have invested in. Invested their money, their time, and their emotions. If anything the outrage is a testament to BioWare. Nobody gets too worked up about something they don’t care much about, but when we do get attached to things we naturally have expectations.

This honestly has nothing to do with anything, we just needed a picture to break up the text.

The problem, therefore, is not that the ending was anything in particular. It’s not that it was sad or happy or bitter-sweet or anything in-between. There’s nothing wrong with any particular ending, but it does have to have thematic ties, foreshadowing, and when it purports to be the ending of a series, it needs to provide satisfaction. Mass Effect 3 only succeeds on the first two in a very shaky fashion, and falls down on the third entirely.

The three choices given at the end of the game, by Magical Star Child von Ex Machina III, are roughly as follows – you can choose to either Destroy the Reapers, to Control the Reapers, or to merge all organic and synthetic life in the galaxy. The first of these options is fine – you’ve been trying to do that all game. The second is problematic. You’ve been specifically trying to stop the Illusive Man from figuring out how to control them throughout the game, and it’s pretty much outright stated that it’s not possible to control them. It turns out they can be, but you’re never given much reason to think it’s a good idea. In previous ME games choices like that were always given context and meaning. In the original game at the end you are presented with a choice of whether to charge in to save the Galactic Council, or hang back as it will help you fight more effectively. Sacrificing them has another purpose however – throughout the game you’ve seen humanity’s place in the galaxy, and how they are not given the due they feel they deserve. Failing to save the Council would propel your species to a position of power, as the new Council would be built around the people who saved the Citadel itself.

Conversely, although the possibility is raised in ME3 of controlling the Reapers, it’s never highlighted as a serious proposition. It’s something a madman is doing, something that the Reapers themselves have suggested to him in order to divide humanity’s efforts.

But at least that has some measure of foreshadowing, hamfisted as it is. The third option, “Synthesis”, comes right out of left field. Now, let’s be clear, I am an ardent transhumanist in the real world and fully desire ascension to becoming cybernetic. However, in this game it is completely insane to think Shep would choose that in the state he reaches the end in. He’s seen synthesis – it’s how the Reapers get their ground forces. There would need to be a HELL of a lot more in the way of setting this up beforehand for it to be remotely palatable.

The third problem with the choices given is that Shepard is not the kind of person who just accepts the choices given. The series is about defying the inevitable fate others have prescribed, and it doesn’t just come through in the big picture. A lot of small quests throughout the game can have an alternative option that Shepard figures out where nobody else could. At this point he should absolutely be able to say “Fuck you, we’re done playing by your rules.” as a Renegade, and “But look at the evidence” as a Paragon. And then what you have done in the series to date has an effect on what happens next.

How you have played should totally influence how the endings work out. Here’s how I envision things: You have brought peace to the Geth and Quarian, and present this to the Catalyst as evidence. It responds by saying “Yes, temporary peace has been achieved. Only through our presence. We have seen this in preceding cycles.” and they give you a long list where it has occurred. Then you can offer “EDI and Joker are in love.” as evidence, and the Catalyst says something like “Interesting. We do not have enough reference points to determine the outcome of this eventuality.” and then you have speech checks to convince the Catalyst to at least give the galaxy a chance to see if it can work. Alternatively you can choose to fight on, and then the battle just plays out. The outcome is determined by your War Assets – you should entirely be able to lose everything here! That would be a really great bad ending that made sense. And either of this would put things in the player’s hands, and made the choices over the game and series fundamentally matter. You could have three tiers of outcome – victory, a close defeat that is a Pyrrhic Victory for the Reapers and gives hope that the remaining galactic powers might be able to muster enough force to survive (or at least that the next cycle will), and total, crushing defeat.

So much for the choices. Let’s move on to the consequences. The choices of the ending are bad, but the outcomes are if anything even worse. Very little makes sense here. You see almost nothing except a few dying repears or whatever, and then the Mass Relays start blowing up (Seriously all it took was ONE LINE from Hackett earlier about how the Crucible’s effects seem to be propagated through the Relay system) while Joker is escaping through one. Why is he running when Shepard isn’t confirmed dead, and indeed the Citadel just opened, so Shep is probably not dead? How did Ashley and Liara get back aboard the Normandy? Who knows! Anyway the advertised multiple endings just plain don’t exist. You get a couple different colors of explosions, and you get a few minor scene changes, and that is that.

Gamers want choices. And we want choices that matter – choices and consequences used to be the watchwords of the RPG genre, and it is something we have sadly come to almost totally lack. One of the reasons Mass Effect was always so exciting was that it promised to oppose this trend – but it hasn’t done anything of the kind. It presented a total copout, in fact. Now, take my suggestions above, and you can see just how disappointing it is. I’ve not been spending forever drafting ideas, I pretty much plucked them out of thin air in the course of a few minutes. And though I’m not going to say I should be writing for videogame (I should totally be writing for videogames) it demonstrates that it would be easy to have come up with alternative endings that made sense. Endings that, as I’ve said but must hammer home, synthesize the gameplay and narrative choices over the course of the series to adjust your final options and their outcomes. This is surely the Holy Grail of games that purport to give the player significant choice – we all make gameplay choices constantly. Who to shoot in which order with which weapons, etc. etc., and how a battle plays out is the consequence thereof. In ME we make narrative choices regularly as well. Combine the two and baby, you’ve got a stew going!

Of course, this entire post rests on the concept that companies aren't evil bastards who destroy the best things ever.

Finally, when it comes to consequences, whatever the outcome we should have seen a lot more about your allies. Mass Effect is really about your other party members and how you interact with them. To see nothing except that they are stranded on an alien world is completely unsatisfying. Fair enough if you had a bad ending where Joker fled the battle once it was totally lost, I suppose, but otherwise just what. Assuming a good ending, like one where you convince the Reapers to leave or your superweapon works as advertised, you should see vignettes of where your comrades are five or ten years down the line. Liara excavating the ruins of Tuchanka. Javik is with her if you convinced him to become a bro, and they are working together to search for other Prothean ruins and perhaps other Protheans who survive in stasis. Garrus is a highup on Palaven helping to organize rebuilding. Wrex is doing the same on Tuchanka, keeping the tribes in line and working to create a new krogan identity. You see others as well, if they’re still alive. And finally you come to a scene maybe thirty years on, where you are older now, and your comrades too, and everyone who survived the series has gathered at the opening of a new Normandy Memorial Museum or something, a definitive and permanent memorial to the Reaper War and its heroes. You see a wall of the lost, as on the Normandy, you listen to your comrades make brief speeches about you, and you get to make a final one yourself about where the galaxy should go now.

That’s only one possibility of course. I understand that we all have our ideas about how everything should be different, too. I’m not trying to say I have all the answers and my ideas are best, but I am hoping to point out that not only is the current situation a bad one, it’s doubly bad because a better ending would not have been difficult to come up with, and given the money invested in the series, it wouldn’t have been an undue strain on resources to implement more.

Fundamentally it’s not disappointing just because of choices ignored, or consequences ignored, but because both are ignored in combination. Add a bit of nonsense and there we are. It’s disappointing not just as series fans, not just as paying customers, but as people who love the medium – because it could have been so much more, with so little extra effort. Maybe even enough to have a very clear way to demonstrate to Ebert that an experience can be enhanced by player agency and control, not diminished.

Disappointment and Regret and Addendums

Being a bit slow (due to playing a stupid amount of Paradox games) to get around to it, I just played the Mass Effect 3 demo. You may recall I recently said I was determined to see this through even if I wasn’t tremendously hopeful about it, but I’ve just cancelled my preorder on the ‘strength’ of the demo. I’ll get around to it sometime, I’m sure, but I’ve got no desire to pay a bunch of cashmoney for something so strikingly mediocre and unenjoyable.

Oh don’t get me wrong, seeing old faces like Wrex, Garrus, and Anderson was great. The Reapers attacking Earth looked pretty cool too (Though there was no sense of impact or weight to it; more on that in a moment), and I approved of… well actually no, those two things was about all I approved of. Everything else was standard and run-of-the-mill at best.

The controls are floaty and don’t respond as I wanted them to. Maybe I’m just getting too old for this, but I distinctly don’t remember having similar problems with 1 and 2. Here though I kept trying to do one thing, and another thing happened, such as diving out of cover into the open. Cue death of Shep. The graphics seemed weirdly low-res, maybe it was just to save space for the demo download but it wasn’t impressive. The weapons and combat is some of the most lacking in impact and weight since I played BioShock, a game that managed to make crushing skulls with a huge wrench feel uninspiring. And that was really the heart of it; everything else I could tolerate or forgive, but the combat was just so completely meritless, so downright unenjoyable, left me feeling so detached and removed from the action, that I just don’t think I can bring myself to play this anytime soon.

It does not, in short, make my mass erect.


Last night I went and gave it another try, and I’m going to have to admit my judgment was a little premature. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still seeing quite a few problems, but the gameplay itself was definitely quite a bit more enjoyable now that I’ve played around with a couple of classes. In previous ME games I could grab any class and have a great time; that seems not to be the case here.

Hey jerkface! You have the face of a jerk!

I’ve just got a hold of Soul Calibur V a couple of days ago and after a little getting used to it I went online. I’m not yet very good at it, but I’ve got enough instinct left from the extraordinary amount of time I put into Soul Blade, SC I, and SC II that I can still kick some of these young whippersnappers’ butts.

The thing is that when I come up against someone with, say, a Win-Loss score of 3 – 16 I really feel bad about beating them. Obviously that one insane Yoshimitsu player with like a 90% win ratio over 300 matches, I had no issue about trying to beat the crap out of him. But when it’s someone who just doesn’t seem to be so good at the game I can’t help but feel a twinge of guilt as I turn their braincase into mush. I just find myself imagining them sitting there, losing yet again – who are they? Is it someone’s dad who was urged to get one of these new-fangled consoles? Is it some kid who is not yet coordinated enough to carry on? The weird thing is I don’t have this issue in face-to-face gaming. I’ve beaten the absolute crap out of small children without a second’s hesitation or remorse when we’re in the same room. And of course if it’s a team game, like a WoW battleground or a game of Team Fortress 2, I don’t have any issues about bringing my A game.

What if I'm fighting someone vidya impaired?!

Pike will no doubt mock me for this, as she insists I should be as merciless, as vicious, and as absolutely stone-hearted as possible whilst playing games. Nevertheless sometimes I just feel like a jerkface, even though of course everyone there is there by choice and it would be more insulting not to do my best. But do any of you out there have these similar twinges of guilt and worry, where you can’t help but imagine the person on the other side of the screen and how sad they must be to, yet again, be getting pounded into dust?

The Android’s Closet Opposes SOPA/PIPA

As you’re no doubt aware by now, many sites around the Internet today are engaged in a protest against the SOPA and PIPA bills currently within the labyrinthine depths of the US Congress. Though we can do no more than add our voice to this overwhelming, global cry of outrage, that is what we are now doing.

Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect Intellectual Property Act would fall desperately short of their stated objectives – the darker side of the Internet is notoriously resilient and difficult to control, after all – but it would give corporations enormous powers to target any and everything they see as a threat to their profit margins. As writers Pike and myself are obviously sympathetic to the notion of being able to protect and control what one produces – but we also wouldn’t start suing preteens for sharing our books. This bill, like so many other efforts to control something as vast, free, and amazing as the Internet, is not going to help stop piracy – what it will do is create an unprecedented tool for the violation of the rights to free speech, to privacy, to free congregation, and threatens to erase one of the Internet’s most central and precious functions, which is the lack of borders and ability to talk to anyone else on Earth regardless of all considerations except their literal, physical access to the Internet.

It was acceptable back in 1518, maybe!

This very blog could easily be at risk. That is how insane these bills are. We are writing about what are copyrighted materials, nevermind when we use a picture from MLP:FIM or embed a YouTube video which contains a few seconds of a copyrighted song. Though we both love writing this blog there are far more severe ramifications – still, the fact that a fairly dinky little blog that mostly talks about strategy videogames and posts fanart of My Little Pony could be endangered shows just how obscenely far-reaching and wide-ranging these two bills are. So if you love the Internet, whether it’s watching cats being silly, reading about how I most recently got foiled by Pike, using Google or Wikipedia, or anything else you can imagine, please consider taking the time to write to your representative asking them to oppose these dangerous, unconstitutional pieces of legislation.

And remember, America is not the first or only country considering laws like this, and the US as the motherland of the Internet makes many foreign sites entirely vulnerable to these laws anyway. If you are not American, like me, it’s still something to be worried about. And the beauty of the Internet is that we can all contribute to the debate and help raise awareness even if we can’t take formal action like voting in an American election.

Is Losing Fun?

It’s the motto of Dwarf Fortress: Losing is Fun. And it’s one you need to take to heart with that game, because until you get the hang of it (And even after you do) you’re going to lose, a lot. But that’s not quite what I’m aiming at here. In conventional games you may often die a lot as well, but you’ll come back at the last checkpoint or save and carry on.

What I am thinking of, however, is something fairly unique to strategy gaming, which is to say, losses that don’t end the game, but rather that are just a part of the game, a thing you endure, carry on from, and ultimately recover from.

But does that happen? See, in a ‘regular’ game like, say, Halo, when you die you just come back from it. You try again. You succeed, or not, and that’s that. In a game like DF you may lose a lot of work, but in these cases the loss is indeed part of the fun. It comes about because of a silly mistake, or because of hubris, or because you just got bored and wanted to watch the world burn. But in a strategy game losses are different.

Decisions, decisions

In the real world of course no country is in permanent ascendance. Not even Rome enjoyed uninterrupted growth, and Rome eventually fell, as all powers do. So a strategy game must surely account for this as well. Yet in my experience, when you lose a city in Civilization or are forced to cede provinces in Europa Universalis III, it doesn’t feel good. It does’t feel like it’s part of the proper flow of the game. In a strategy game you do expect to be in permanent ascendance, and to not be is irritating and may well turn one off playing. I recall reading an interview with Sid Meier years ago where he said his original intention with Civ had been for your civ to go through periods of contraction and decline, but he found it was far from enjoyable to have it work like that.

Partly I think this is a case of momentum. In a strategy game, when you gain something, that something goes towards helping your empire grow. Overextension and the like are rarely simulated, and almost never simulated well, and in fact when that is attempted (As in the Magna Mundi mod for EU3) it often comes off as very arbitrary and pointlessly constricting.

How about you? Am I alone here, or do others feel the same and dislike accepting losses? Are there examples of games which do this well, and don’t make it feel arbitrary or unfair?

I am legitimately angry about this and you should be too.

Games are no stranger to controversy. We’ve had Carmageddon, we’ve had Mortal Kombat, we’ve had Postal, and these are just games the media gets worked up about. Of course a lot of this is just nonsense, it may be crude but it boils down to “old people don’t get hip new things”. Or they tell outright lies. Then there’s things which actually warrant comment, such as Custer’s Revenge or Super Columbine Massacre RPG! Well we can add another one to that latter list, a list of games which probably warrant genuine criticism.

It is called Lady Popular. Kotaku has a writeup, but I will relate the gist of it here for those of you who are understandably averse to anything Gawker-related (Though it’s written by one of the Rock, Paper, Shotgun chaps so it’s not their usual drivel).

Lady Popular, explicitly billed as “A game for girls”, is a game where you play the role of a female. Or, a female in the bizarro reality-TV world that someone clearly conflates with real reality. Your first task to becoming a “smart, talented, and successful woman” is to move out of your parent’s house. You do this by completing three tasks. One is to rent an apartment – all fine and dandy so far.

The other two tasks are to get a haircut and to buy something at the mall. Getting haircuts and going shopping seems to be quite literally half of the stuff you can do in this alleged game.

But okay. Let’s stretch the definition of charitable beyond all reason and allow this. After all, people do give a lot of consideration to their appearance. It’s part of one’s identity. Being able to take care of such things and to make purchases is a part of being an adult, even if it’s not exactly up there with raising kids or paying off your mortgage. So we’ll allow it, because much worse is to follow.

An early objective sees you invited to a party. But oh no! You don’t have anyone to go with! Yes, a fundamental and early objective in this game is to seek a boyfriend. “But Mister Adequate!” you cry, “That may be poorly presented, but relationships are a part of growing up as well!” Yes, well. Put aside that acquiring a boyfriend is presented as a central objective to a young woman’s life – not as one part of it, not as an option among many options from abstinence to having many one-night-stands, not as something that tends to just happen when you meet someone you click with – a central objective without which her life literally cannot proceed – put that aside. Because do you know what happens when you do find a boyfriend?

Do you? Can you guess?

He gives you money.

Every day.

Us too, Twilight, us too.

He gives you a daily stipend. Although there are jobs in the game this appears to be a major source of income, and as far as I can gather you keep getting your girlfriend allowance as long as you’re dating someone. A core part of this game is literally to find a sugar daddy. Now I don’t know about anyone else, maybe things changed whilst I slumbered wreathed in fire beneath the earth for a hundred thousand years, but last time I checked the concept of a “successful woman” did not tend to involve finding a boyfriend for the sole purposes of attending parties and paying for your hairdressing and shopping needs. If you wanted one at all (Dear God can you imagine if these people tried to allow for lesbian relationships? That would be such a clusterfuck I’m glad they just plain pretended it doesn’t exist.) it was more about companionship, having fun together, and being a best friend. You know, equal parts of a whole. Maybe I have become the old fogey who doesn’t understand the hip kid way of doing things? But I doubt it. Of course this also means that the monetary success of the guy is THE major factor in his worthiness. Truly a good message to send to our young ladies in this straitened economic times, with unemployment rising around the world.

Another important objective, and one which seems to persist throughout the game, is to watch your weight. Now I’m a lazy neckbeard, so I freely admit that messages about good health tend to pass over my head unheeded, but this isn’t even that – this is just straight out “Remember that excessive weight loss or gain is not healthy and will make your lady unhappy”. Getting too fat will MAKE YOU UNHAPPY; this is presented not as a societal construct but a simple fact of reality.

I honestly cannot begin to fathom just who on Earth would come up with something like this, who would greenlight it, and who would program it and put the art assets and everything together. This game seems to be designed to travel back in time and kick Emmeline Pankhurst and Susan B. Anthony in the ovaries so hard their great-grandkids feel it.

Now for a palate cleanser. Something that has strong female characters with realistic flaws, motivations, and personalities, which is neither patronizing nor insulting. Something like…

Girls, you've got an important mission. You must save our fillies from this horrid thing!