Category Archives: Feminist Rants

Varian Wrynn Is Caitlyn Jenner?

varian wrynne caitlyn jenner

Last week I returned to Hearthstone, which is releasing a new expansion card pack next week. Grand Tournament features a new Inspire mechanic.

The new warrior legendary card, Varian Wrynn, looks strikingly like Caitlyn Jenner. There’s no way I’m going to bring this up in the corrosive, troll-infested Hearthstone forums, so I’m posting it here!

This crazy kitty is seeing things maybe, but in former images and in-game (World of Warcraft), Varian is definitely a solid darker-haired brunette. Why a change that happens to match Caitlyn Jenner?

I noticed a few more Hero portraits when I returned to Hearthstone, so I pressed the buy button on Alleria Windrunner within ten minutes of even thinking of playing Hearthstone again.

I’ve begged Blizzard for more female portraits, so it’s time to pony up. Alleria is the most feminine portrait now. I like her voice, which reminds me of Imoen in Baldur’s Gate.

It finally dawned on me that the other two female hero portraits are male fantasies. Jaina has the angry super-boobs, and Valeera is the anti-hero rogue a la Catwoman, Black Canary, and Natasha Romanov. Too bad her implied bikini crotch won’t fit in the graphic.

On the other hand, Alleria is another cliché: the female elf hunter. It looks like I’m playing all elves now in Hearthstone, except for Anduin Wrynn, whose deck I call Pretty Boy.

I’m still hoping for more female heroes, but it’s $10 each extra to play them. I’m not touching the $50 Grand Tournament pre-order, which is a ridiculous cash grab.

When it comes to cash, there can be no conscience in the survivalist gaming business. Like I’ve said before, Electronic Arts led the way and pushed through the gamer ill will, and now no one bats an eyelash at this crap.

Welcome to the herd Blizzard boys, or maybe you were always the herd.

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Weekly Wyrm ~ Another Step For Gender Equality

only you can prevent DLC

Just a quickie run-down of this week, with a few topics involving bears and fires.


Call of Duty: Black Ops 3: Finally A Femme!


I’ve never played Halo or Call of Duty, and I’ve stepped into Battlefield only briefly. I normally don’t enjoy male characters.

So when Activision announced that Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 would feature a female playable character and a gender-neutral story this week, I was super-excited! I haven’t played a military-style shooter since Mass Effect 2.

And according to the devs, the Black Ops female character is inspired by the female Commander Shepherd. Unfortunately the game’s pre-order poster is male-only.

So. They still have a few miles to go before they’ve made all the mistakes made by Bioware with Mass Effect, and corrected them. Yes, feminazis will complain about everything.

The comments section to the announcement article is good reading. I’m 100% for a male option in the next Tomb Raider. Why? I really feel the Lara Croft character in Tomb Raider 2013 suffered from the male gaze, or male devs not connecting with her in some way.

I’d really like to see a bi-gender Tomb Raider just to eliminate Lara’s character being skewed by the male gaze. She’s skewed, I tell you!

Game development studios seem to be an arms race for more more ginormous guns, more massive battles, and more outrageous monster robots. All I want is a good story, and surely story will continue to be more of a distinguishing feature in action and stealth genres.

It’s hard to believe that big game developers are still launching big games with stories that suck by all accounts.

A lot more reviewers these days are pounding the table for better stories, including Angry Joe. Joe really highlights the importance of story in his reviews, like with his long, entertaining, expert review this week on Mortal Kombat X. He keeps going back to the shortage of story.

Angry Joe also shows in this review that he’s a strong critic of greedy at-launch DLC. Today I was thinking of replacing my sidebar comic with an activist strip on DLC. Only you can stop DLC–a new graphic coming soon to the Kitty sidebar.


Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns


The news is trickling out about the GW2 expansion, and I’ve been watching some videos this week. As highlighted by MMORPG.com, the Chronomancer profession looks crazy cool.

My Guardian profession in GW2 feels a little squishy, so I was having second thoughts about it this week while gaining two or three levels. Supposedly the new elite specialization for guardian uses a longbow though, which makes me feel much better.

I switched to Guardian from Hunter for two reasons, despite the new Druid spec coming for Hunter. The PvE play for Hunter seems to be bear pet and the rapid-fire bow skill (or whatever it is). I’m not super-fond of either of those, especially the semi-automatic bow. They don’t fit my character.

I had the same issue in LotRO with “Sic’Em”, the capstone Lore-Master skill for my preferred trait line, Keeper of Animals. When you never use your most powerful capstone skill because it’s a little silly, then it becomes a little issue.


Weekend Sale


In other news, Vampire: Bloodlines, is on sale this weekend on Steam for 4.99. If you’ve never tried it, now is your chance. It’s a worth at least a few hours just to play with it, even if it’s outdated. Thanks for reading this far. Happy gaming.


Weekly Wyrm: Why More Male Companions?

pillars of eternityI get the concept of why games offer more playable males. More boys play video games.

I was leafing through a Seventeen magazine this morning, and it’s all about cosmetics, more cosmetics, your face, your hair, your eyelashes, your period, or the prom.

I’ve got a cute boy with lip gloss in the centerfold, but there’s no information on the proper handling of Sniper Rifles, submachine guns, or death spells.

I don’t get why most companions are male, though. Why do game developers keep the same male ratio with companions, mercenaries, or whatever?

Here are my quick counts of balls to boobs in recent RPGs. I’m using the internet, so I’m sorry if any numbers are significantly wrong.

*Recent RPG Companion Gender Ratios, Male To Female, DLC Not Included*

DA: Inquisition – 6:3
Dragon Age 2 – 5:4
DA:Origins – 4:3 (no Dog)
Pillars of Eternity – 5:3
Diablo 3 – 2:1
Baldur’s Gate Enhanced – 3:1 (only added companions)
Divinity: Original Sin – 2:2
Wasteland 2 – 9:6

As you can see, males seem favored. I picked these RPGs at random from the top of my head. This isn’t a feminist rant. I’m not demanding change. I’m just trying to understand why this is happening.

According to a poll, most players use the Enchantress in D3. You could argue that reasons for choosing a follower usually have nothing to do with gender, but no amount of anecdotal reporting can be accurate.

Do adventuring groups just seem more heroic with more men in them? I’d like to hear some opinions of some guys. Do you prefer male companions? Are girls annoying, so it’s nice to get away from them in a game?

Why are game developers designing like this?

Are game developers mostly male, so they are writing characters they can most relate to, expressing a part of themselves? This is the best argument I can think of. Is there data that shows players prefer a more capable man at their back?

I can’t find a preference poll for Divinity: Original Sin, the only game on my list with an equal ratio.


Pillars of Eternity : Re-incarnation Rampage


I keep starting Pillars over. So far, I’ve started the game over at least five times.

My first character was a wizard, but I found the wizard underwhelming, and the game hands you a wizard out of the gate anyway. I created a rogue hireling with my wizard to do traps and locks, and I ended up liking my rogue more than my main character.

So I started over with a monk, giving her points in mechanics.

I played a lot with my monk, and ended up making some evil choices. I decided I’d rather stick with the good choices, and I didn’t like how my conversation options were panning out with my character stats.

So I started over with a barbarian, so I could still roll at the front of the party and do some mechanics and tanking.

Once again, I managed to make a few choices that the game seemed to think were evil, but I didn’t interpret them that way. I created a druid hireling to go with the barbarian, and again I liked my hireling more than my main character.

So I started over on a druid with mechanics skill (not exactly thematic).

I made my first druid a wolf for knockdown, but I’m starting over one more time with the cat shifter. I’m just not a wolf fan, even if the wolf has cool perks. (The druid makes a great werewolf by the way, if you’re into the furry thing.)

The fun thing is that I’ve taken different choices with each re-run, mostly based on stats, and Pillars of Eternity has rewarded me with different events and outcomes. I’ve also played in Spanish, although the voice-overs are still English.

The druid is weak at the front of the group, but has good spells. More importantly, the druid’s primary attributes seem like the best so far for conversation choices (strength, intelligence, resolve).

I can be persistent and witty, or go for a strong paw to the face. A starting stat score of 16 seems like the perfect level for hitting those special conversation choices.

So I’m giving two opposable thumbs up for the Pillars of Eternity druid. I hope I’m finally good to go forward and explore new and more dangerous areas. Happy gaming, whatever you’re playing.


More Reading On Pillars:


F*ck Yeah, Pillars of Eternity
Using Custom Portraits In Pillars Of Eternity


Weekly Wyrm Oct. 26, 2014: Sex And Crime Edition

rift nightmare tide screenshot goboro reefA few notes before I get to Rift.

In my last post, I mentioned a sort-of sex scandal in an upcoming big-name RPG title. After a few days of reflection, I’ve decided I can’t name and discuss this developer or the possibilities for pushing the edge of RPG romance.

So I’ll only say that a female lead on the writing team in this RPG project is a professional erotica writer, a writer who I’ve worked with in the past. This was in an online writer’s group. She’s also a long-time supporter and former participant in National Masturbation Month, having tweeted about it as recently as this year.

(I took a pass. This kitty is too lazy to ooh-la-la every day.)

She’s completely open about her credentials–as an award-winning fiction writer and professional. Now she’s in the gaming industry, however. Given the current climate of #gamergate and the disgusting current climate of harassment of women in the gaming industry, this is cause for concern.

Felicia Day came out this last week in support of #gamergate commenting on her own experience of harassment, speaking candidly of her own fears and depression. Her Tumblr post has 44000 notes a few days later. To underscore the realness of this issue, Felicia immediately faced the consequences with her personal details being posted online.


Art, Crime, And Consequences


The other highlight of this week (besides the Rift expansion), was a tweet re: an Associated Press article about artistic defacement of rock formations, a story first reported by Casey Schreiner on modernhiker.com, leading to authorities getting involved.

Casey went on to write a followup article on why this is such an important issue.

I’m a big fan of Casey Schreiner from his former show “The MMO Report” on G4. I’m also a big fan of hiking, and it was cool to see him suddenly pop up in the national news, no longer citified and clean shaven–instead with a big bushy hiker guy beard.

My take on this issue is that it’s a symptom of American narcissism. Social media is like addictive candy for the need to be special and get attention.

So it’s ironic that social media is this graffiti artist’s downfall by providing the proof. It wasn’t enough for Nocket to just sneak away and leave her art in the park, content that lots of people would see it. She had to post it.

Whatever Nocket’s psychological needs are, they are too strong to overcome better judgment. And that’s sad. She’s a girl who needs help and better parenting like most criminals, but instead she’ll get a fine and/or a prison sentence.

If there’s a world capital of narcissism, it’s California, and as of yesterday, Nocket’s Tumblr blog is gone, only to be taken over by a California street art group looking for attention and promising copycat crimes.

You dudes are so badass! Spray painting rocks is so cool! Almost as cool as a few other dudes last week shooting up the Canadian parliament and attacking police with hatchets, but no. Not really.


Rift: First Impressions (Mostly Positive)


This week has been a mess. On Thursday I went to play, and there was a bad patch forcing everyone who updated at the wrong time to have to completely re-install the game. Fail. Trion compensated with 750 credits, which was generous.

On Friday, three shards destructed, and the Faeblight shard was the hardest hit with a 24+ hour rollback. People were not pleased. Luckily I was busy and didn’t play much until yesterday. I lost a bunch of artifacts I’d harvested.

On the other hand, last night I was doing an event (shown in the image above), where someone called a guild in with a rally flag, and we had at least two full raids on a road where it passed under a giant natural coral archway.

During the epic battle against the evil, the mermaids in the reef started singing. It was one of those memorable game moments! Wow!

The use of “evil” verbiage to give the impression of an enemy is actually one of my very few objections. Otherwise the expansion writing so far is fantastic, nailing the three most important points–characters, characters, and characters. With a sprinkle of narcissism on top.

Overall, the expansion has been awesome, maybe the best I’ve ever played. More Rift impressions next time. Ciao for now and happy gaming.


Weekly Wyrm: Oct. 19, 2014

The highlight of this week was complete disgust at the Utah death threat against Anita Sarkeesian. The threat went something like this:

“Feminists have ruined my life, and I will have my revenge, for my sake and the sake of all others they’ve wronged.”

The local Mormon police seemed conspicuously absent, like “whatevs, we don’t see anything that needs our attention”. Are we living in Afghanistan? Next will it be acid attacks?

Sarkeesian was featured in a live MSNBC interview that was posted today on Youtube, confirming opinions that these threats will only strengthen Sarkeesian’s position.

(direct link)

Angry Joe put up a great, entertaining old-school review of Alien:Isolation this week.

I was thrilled to see a great game with a female protagonist, until I thought longer about why the female protagonist starts the game in her underwear. What male-protagonist game lately has started you off in gratuitous undies?

The Alien:Isolation deshabille actually has an artistic precedent in Alien, the original movie, but this issue is clearly something society takes for granted in games, and it’s fabulous that Anita Sarkeesian and a few brave others are refusing to back down from these threats to their lives and well-being, instead just using them to prove their points.

So I’m still preferring to pay for the well-outfitted lady desert Rangers in Wasteland 2. I purchased it and started playing tonight, despite having already ponied up sub and credits for Rift: Nightmare Tide.

I don’t think I’ve paid full price for a game since Rift, unless you count LotRO expansions. Wasteland 2 has had two solid patches since it launched to widespread positive reviews, which all looks promising on top of the Youtube gameplay sequences I watched.

Not too many people, much less game bloggers, played the original Wasteland game two decades ago. This game has style. It’s time to repair some toasters.