Gaming Linkspams

Having done linkspams of last year’s fall TV season, movies and comics, games seemed like a solid follow-up…  which is why I started drafting this post several months ago.   The Center is currently eating my life, and will for at least another month, so I’m giving up.  Here are your links.  (And yes, I still have a ton of links to go. More original content is on its way, too, hopefully, once I finish up my current study-abroad program.)

A little on the ever-popular topic, female armour:

In more general gaming news:

Boning up on the literature

Normally I dump most of my Christmas money in savings, but this year I decided to try a new sort of investment: books. I used a large part of my Christmas funds to buy academic books on yokai, anime and postmodern Japan, as well as the newest issue of Mechademia. I also got some books to read for fun, and the second volume in a fantasy series by a successful female Japanese author who I’m rather fond of. At the same time, I something like ten new video games. Meanwhile, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to drag through that list of anime that I really ought to have seen, but haven’t managed to get to yet, and those new series that I ought to know about. And I’m trying to clear out those books that have been haunting my shelves for years unread. (All that doesn’t even include the basic reading in Japanese that I need to do for a class I’m taking/to keep up with kanji.)

It’s a lot to do.

So I’m wondering about order, now. What should I do first? In the past, I’ve read several books at once without trouble. But many of these are academic books, which really need sustained, undivided attention. All the same, I can’t help but feel the draw of new books in the house. The anime are relatively easy – new series I watch as they come out, old series I tackle one at a time in depth. (At the moment, I’m working on Peacemaker Kurogane, at roughly two episodes per night.)

Video games are a bit different. I got a new Wii for Christmas, so many of the new games are doubling as exercise (Wii Tennis, for example). I can’t start all the games at once, though. I just can’t pick up new configurations of keyboards/controllers that quickly. At the moment, I’m doing the exercise-style games the most, to negate the extra eggnog/cookies of the past month or so.

What seems to be working is making a schedule. I made one for anime and it’s progressing relatively smoothly. I’m hoping my second book order will be in when I get home today. If it is, I’ll set down all of the books currently available and order them as well. With any luck, I should expand my knowledge of the relevant scholarship a lot over the next few months. However, I think it will go more like this: with book schedule in hand, I am inspired by New Idea for research. New Idea is related to a field which is not reflected in my new book stash, so new books get set aside for… probably more new books. And then I have even more old books that were bought but never read!

I don’t think this problem is specific to me. Have you had it? How do you deal with it?

Race fail

First I must apologize; I thought I had posted waaaaay more recently than I had. I’ve actually been planning this post for days, so I could have cut the wait awhile very easily. Anyway.

Panasonic has a new TV out called the Viera, which they are advertising in concert with the new movie Avatar. You can see one of the commercials (I think there’s more than one) here. I imagine Panasonic’s advertising group has no resident geeks with awareness of common social issues. If they did, someone would have pointed out that they were associating their TV with two media properties – Avatar and Final Fantasy XII – that have races/species that clearly stand in for Africans. Oppressed, stereotypical Africans.

Avatar sounds wonderful, and I don’t mean to suggest racism within the property itself. But you clearly have the blue-skinned natives of the world Pandora standing in for Africans during the colonial period. The humans come with their superior technology to raid Pandora (and no, I’m not even going to touch the world’s name) of her natural resources, and the natives fight back with spears and such. You could even argue that using a native woman as the romantic interest of the invader-hero replicates the sexualization of black women that goes into movies today. I don’t particularly want to, given that I haven’t yet seen the movie and many romantic interests are treated equally (if not worse – Cameron’s female characters generally rock).

Then we have Final Fantasy XII‘s Viera. Let’s see, brown skin, buxom, scantily-clad rabbit-girls… Yeah, that doesn’t replicate stereotypes of African women as sexually rapacious at all. There are, by the way, no male Viera. Presumably the females replicate asexually. If, of course, you presume the designers put any thought into it.

I don’t think Panasonic did it on purpose, but they did, in one fell swoop, tie their new product to the least-attractive aspects of two different, but wildly popular, products. It comes across badly.

The craziest part, for me at least, is that I had/have a perfectly fine view of Avatar. That is, I think you can do a story that references the complicated history between the West and Africa without being racist, I think science fiction is a good way to do that, and I think James Cameron is a skilled director who takes the time and makes the effort to present more realistic, less stereotypical characters in general. It was only when the commercial linked Avatar to the Viera of Final Fantasy XII – which I find problematic on many levels – that I even thought of race as a potential stumbling point for the film. Weird.