Welcome to the first Blogs of the Round Table round-up post for 2012, first let’s remind ourselves of the theme we’re talking about this month.
Games, like most media, have the ability to let us explore what it’s like to be someone other than ourselves. While this experience may only encompass a character’s external circumstances–exploring alien worlds, serving with a military elite, casting spells and swinging broadswords–it’s most powerful when it allow us to identify with a character who is fundamentally different than ourselves–a different gender, sexuality, race, class, or religion. This official re-launch of the Blogs of the Round Table asks you to talk about a game experience that allowed you to experience being other than you are and how that impacted you–for better or for worse. Conversely, discuss why games haven’t provided this experience for you and why.
So, we’ve got our theme, and we’ve got a few entrants already. We’ve also got a handy dandy iframe code (care of Darius Kazemi) for you to embed in your BoRT posts, allowing for everyone at home to jump from post to post via an easy drop down menu. To do that, just past this code somewhere in your post:
<iframe src="http://www.tinysubversions.com/bort.html?month=January12" frameborder="0" width="600" height="20"></iframe>
Which should then look like this:
And as you can see it working up there, each entry for the month is listed! Huzzah! (NB: The list has to be updated manually, so there will be some lag between submitting posts and being added to the drop menu).
So what’ve we got so far?
At Nightmare Mode, Aaron Myles talks about ‘Mass Outbreaks of Xenophobia and Inbreeding: A stroll through the ghettoes of San Andreas’.
David Carlton does some musing on the theme of the Blogs of the Round Table itself, as well as raising the point that there are very few games in which he identifies with the protagonist.
Tami Baribeau at The Border House writes that ‘In games, I’m always someone I’m not because I’m fat’, with a particularly illuminating story of a former coworker who encountered online incredulity that they would create a ‘fat’ avatar.
Adam Burch at Thus Spoke Pi writes about the collision between Brave New World’s ‘feelies’ and a story about an acquaintance of his experiencing the effects of racism.
Amanda Lange at Second Truth writes about her experience role-playing as a straight man in ‘On Gettin Ladies…In Games‘.
Matt Kopas wrote this piece for The Borderhouse Blog which he admits wasn’t written with the theme explicitly in mind, but which still fits well enough under the heading – it’s on ‘Gameplay, Genderplay‘.
At Nonfiction Gaming, Eric Howell writes about empathising with the characters he played in both Mass Effect and Bastion in his contribution, ‘Choosing to Be the Other‘.
Patrick Stafford writes about ‘Roleplaying games and the fundamental problem of sympathetic characters‘ on his blog The Problem With Story, talking about how the more constrained characters of Mass Effect and Deus Ex: Human Revolution gave him more of a sense of empathy and connection than the blank slate of Fallout 3.
Rainer Sigl at the delightfully named ‘Video Game Tourism’ blog explains that ‘Being a criminal psychopath sucks – but what did you expect?‘. So apparently it can suck to be ‘other’ when that ‘other’ is a murderous psychopath. Who knew?!
Mark Serrels at Kotaku Australia has a touching and poignant piece on meeting his daughter for the first time (in the sims) and how it made him feel and think about potential childrearing in his real life.
At Second Quest, Richard Goodness wrote about ‘Role-Playing a Pervert in Silent Hill: Shattered Memories‘. I’m just going to grab this little excerpt to whet the appetite: “…Shattered Memories gave me a very weird, disturbing little glimpse of what sex addiction feels like.”
Yolanda Green at the Althogether blog wrote about what playing a role means in an RPG.
At The Ludi Bin, Rachel Helps talks about ‘Punching a Woman in Assassin’s Creed‘ which was for her a rather novel experience: “It’s hard to describe what it feels like to be a powerful man, but I think playing Assassin’s Creed helped me see why it’s a fantasy for some people.”
At Digital Ephemera, Dan Cox wrote about ‘One Soldier in a War‘ and the distinction between first and third person perspective, the value of ‘life’ and what happens when he stands around looking at butterflies in Call of Duty.
The Arcadian Rhythms blog has a double-header, with thoughts from the sites’ bloggers AJ and Shaun. AJ didn’t find he identified with many game protagonists, and talked about Dead Rising‘s Frank West as an excellent example of an unsympathetic protagonist that doesn’t diminish the game. Shaun wonders “if the theme itself overestimates the extent to which videogames are structurally capable of genuinely conveying an experience other than one’s own” and then goes off into some quite interesting territory.
And the final post of the month goes to Denis Farr, blogging at the Border House about ‘Mayday; Or, How I Learned to Love Grace Jones‘. It’s a great story about the classic N64 game Goldeneye, self expression and fighting the power.
That’s it for the January Round Table! Thanks again to everyone who contributed this month, we’ll be back soon with another great theme for February real soon.