For anyone who doesn’t know who Michael Brown is or what’s been going on in Ferguson
- Saturday Aug. 9, 2014: Reports out of Ferguson, MO. that a 17 y/o boy was shot 10 times by police over stolen candy
- He is identified as 18 y/o Michael Brown. The store Mike Brown…
Just starting to play Cryptworlds (Lilith M., 2013)
I feel like I am incredibly behind in contemporary games. I wasted like 3 or 4 years on some really inane first-person shooters, just wandering around the maps. Was I scared of the power of true game design?
Yesterday, I made my first game. I’m feeling inspired.
Two very different games about privacy
I’ve been getting more into playing queer games recently.
Yesterday I finally played Don’t Take It Personally Babe, It Just Ain’t Your Story (Christine Love, 2011), because I heard it had a lot of gay content. It kind of does, but being within the male teacher’s perspective— the perspective of a guy who gets turned on by his 16-year-old students— made me uncomfortable.
That game is about the end of privacy, but it takes a strangely upbeat tone. As a high-school teacher of the future, you are given the opportunity to eavesdrop on all your students’ social media activity. While the game initially presents this as a moral dilemma, it also condones and encourages the practice. Kind of like the romance with the student: your character describes the idea of getting together with a student as problematic, yet the game and the character both encourage the player to go through with it.
The game’s aesthetic looks similar to countless other dating sims and visual novels, with anime-inspired 2-D character design and shiny, translucent textures. This style encourages the player to view the main character’s students as attractive,
Today, I am playing the demo of Nothing to Hide (Nicky Case, 2014).
It’s an anxious vision of futuristic surveillance with a more recognizably dystopian look. Its graphic, opaque, and angular visual style are reminiscent of boomer surveillance dystopias like The Prisoner (1967-68) and Logan’s Run (dir. Michael Anderson, 1976), and of the credits sequences of 1950s and 60s spy movies including North by Northwest (dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 1959) and Charade (dir. Stanley Donen 1963).
However, the narrative themes of Nothing to Hide are strikingly similar to those of Don’t Take it Personally, Babe, in particular the depiction of teens taking part of their own surveillance via social media.
I was particularly struck by how the visual style of Nothing to Hide made me feel comfortable with this thematic, in a way the visual and mechanical style of Don’t Take It Personally, Babe did not.
The aesthetic genre legibility of Nothing to Hide is so far keeping me relatively at ease, while Don’t Take It Personally, Babe left me reeling with anxiety for hours after I finished the game.
The destruction of privacy and individuals’ participation in their own surveillance, as it takes place in our dailiy lives, looks more like Don’t Take it Personally Babe than like Nothing to Hide. Yet, it is a testament to the power of genre that Nothing to Hide feels more realistic as a dystopia, while I initially read Don’t Take it Personally, Babe as not taking privacy concerns very seriously.
That’s all I have to say for now, since I haven’t played the whole demo of Nothing to Hide.
I’ll go back to gaming now.
Nicki Minaj is not a woman who easily slides into the roles assigned to women in her industry or elsewhere. She’s not polished, she’s not concerned with her reputation, and she’s certainly not fighting for equality among mainstream second-wave feminists. She’s something else, and she’s something equally worth giving credence to: a boundary-breaker, a nasty bitch, a self-proclaimed queen, a self-determined and self-made artist. She’s one of the boys, and she does it with the intent to subvert what it means. She sings about sexy women, about fucking around with different men. She raps about racing ahead in the game, imagines up her own strings of accolades, and rolls with a rap family notorious for dirty rhymes, foul mouths, and disregard for authority and hegemony.
While Beyoncé has expanded feminist discourse by reveling in her role as a mother and wife while also fighting for women’s rights, Minaj has been showing her teeth in her climb to the top of a male-dominated genre. Both, in the process, have expanded our society’s idea of what an empowered women looks like — but Minaj’s feminist credentials still frequently come under fire. To me, it seems like a clear-cut case of respectability politics and mainstreaming of the feminist movement: while feminist writers raved over Beyoncé’s latest album and the undertones of sexuality and empowerment that came with it, many have questioned Minaj’s decisions over the years to subvert beauty norms using her own body, graphically talk dirty in her work, and occasionally declare herself dominant in discourse about other women. (All of these areas of concern, however, didn’t seem to come into play when Queen Bey did the same.)
A study reveals that 70% of women in STEM have been sexually harassed while doing fieldwork, and 26% report having been assaulted. It’s not hard to see how that would affect their careers.
Today I read that all you need to be a woman in male-dominated science and technology fields is a “sassy-ass attitude and a sense of adventure.” I also read this.
I wonder how the humanities measure up, since I have experienced sexual harassment from peers, inferiors, and superiors as a humanities scholar. I have also experienced unwanted sexual contact while doing fieldwork, though I guess the person doing it could have been described as a “local community member,” not a member of my “team.”