Keyboard Geniuses

Dead Space 3

Gender Issues! In! Space!

Highlights from the week’s comment threads.

By Matt Kodner • February 15, 2013

Keyboard Geniuses is our weekly glance at a few intriguing, witty, or otherwise notable posts from the Gameological discussion threads. Comments have been excerpted and edited here for grammar, length, and/or clarity. You can follow the links to see the full threads.

Love Bites

Drew Toal enjoyed shooting the bejeezus out of space zombie things in Dead Space 3 but found that its central love triangle lacked a certain grace. In the comments, Effigy Power reacted strongly to the love interest’s ample bosom:

And yet another year goes by without a game that turns the table on the love triangle. Unless the game has two female action badasses stomping xenomorphs (we all know that’s what these are) for male or female attention.

*checks screenshots*

Right, dudes get armor, lady get’s incredibly deep space cleavage. Fuck you, Visceral. If you need to know how to make a female character sexy without whoring her up, check in your own EA-owned backyard and take a lesson from FemShep and FemHawke. Then try again.

PS: I realize that my posts have become increasingly bitter about this. I apologize for that, I certainly don’t want to be that person. But when a game doesn’t think that intellect and determination are good enough without big tits, it just gets so old.

In the ensuing discussion, which is worth checking out in its entirety, Nick pushed back on behalf of Dead Space’s scientist character:

Have you played the Dead Space franchise? Because this is Ellie Langford, the girl you’re talking about. When they land on the planet, everyone gets suits (except Buckell, who dies), but before that, only Isaac has one because it’s an engineer suit and he needs it for venturing in space, and Carver and Norton, who have battle armor because they’re soldiers.

Also, she’s a fighter pilot. In case you didn’t watch the YouTube clip, the first time you meet her in the second game, she’s killing an endless horde of necromorphs while cursing everything after being the last survivor of her group. She’s not some cliché sex object. She’s a very well-rounded character. Better in the 2nd game than the 3rd, but still a strong female character in both her appearances.

Elsewhere, Pgoodso brought up Gears Of War as a counter-example to the trend Effigy decried:

You know what’s terrifying? Out of all the A-List games in the last 5 years or so, it’s the Gears Of War series that probably has the most appropriately dressed women in video games: plain administrative wear for administrators, same beefed-up battle armor as the dudes when shit goes down. You didn’t even see any skin until Gears Of War 3. No cleavage to be found. And though saving a character’s wife was a minor plot point in Gears 2, for the most part, the women could take care of themselves and saved the men just as much as the opposite.

For such an appalling (if enjoyable) gruntfest, I think it’s strange that it’s these games out of all of them that treated women as equals, at least comparatively.

For Our Consideration: Silence Is Golden

Making a case for games that eschew unnecessary voice acting, Anthony John Agnello wrote about the importance of silence in a For Our Consideration op-ed. Vinny Bushes considered The Sims, where characters aren’t silent but don’t use language, either:

I think there’s also something really interesting about the way we perceive characters who speak in gibberish. The original Sims wouldn’t have been nearly as gut-bustingly hilarious if my Sims had been able to speak an actual language. Imagining what my Sim is screaming about after he pees himself and passes out on the lawn just before he was going to propose marriage, is way more fun than hearing pre-canned dialogue. At the same time, if he had been completely silent, I wouldn’t have been able to identify with his strange streak of humanity that made that moment so funny in the first place.

Mattman Begins shared a story about poking through the audio files of Space Quest IV:

My dad and I were poking around on the CD for the speechified Space Quest IV, looking for a read-me about system requirements or some such. (This was back in the DOS days when you had to more seriously worry about such things.)

Dad accidentally ran a sound file that contained THE ENTIRETY of Gary Owens’ narration, and we spent the next…interminable amount of time listening to “A darn cute bunny!” “A battery!” “You can’t DO that!” “…as usual, you’ve been a real pantload!” etc. The non-sequitur nature of disconnected cue after disconnected cue, coupled with the majestically zany voice of Owens, was a riot at first. But after 45 minutes of that, with my father literally passed out in the corner waiting for it all to end, it was the very definition of “too much of a good thing.”

The Cave Of Unforgettable Marshmallows
The Cave

Our monthly video gabfest The Digest returned, and Gameological editor John Teti was joined by Drew Toal to discuss The Cave. They both found Ron Gilbert’s puzzle adventure enjoyable, but problematic, to which Girard agreed:

The whole thing feels like it’s making design mistakes that Ron had already managed to resolve pretty ably 25 years ago in Maniac Mansion, a game where multiple characters’ different abilities do afford different inventive solutions, do organically access different parts of the game world, do make replays fun rather than repetitive, and do afford access to different win-states/endings that aren’t contingent on a totally bullshit 11th-hour false binary moral choice thing.

Comment Cat can’t resist an illustrated comment. Effigy Power gave Drew’s now-shaven mustache the sendoff that it deserved:

Digest Comic

And I’d be remiss not to thank stakkalee for providing homemade marshmallows as this month’s Digestible. They were delicious!

White Sly
Sly Cooper: Thieves In Time

Likening the newest Sly Cooper platformer, Thieves In Time, to its Looney Tunes roots, Anthony John Agnello felt the could have benefited from more slapdash cartoon logic and less bloat. Kevin Johnson had a different take:

I’m not sure if Sly Cooper is strictly adherent to cartoon logic. It’s a bit more personal and… deeper?… than a typical cartoon. Sly Cooper—and indeed, the most apt of the 3D platformers like Ratchet & Clank and Jak And Daxter—mine the idea of the cartoon while delving more into the characters and the situation into something different. Characters can (and do) die. Bently breaks his legs. There’s usually more at stake than the comic sensibilities of the shorts from the ’60s.

You Give Love A Bad Game
Ninja Gaiden

In honor of yesterday’s made-up lovey-dovey holiday, we compiled a list of video games’ most woefully unhealthy relationships. As always, the list grew larger in the comments, and Cookie Monster pointed out Double Dragon’s maybe (?) incestous romance:

Also worth mentioning Double Dragon, where two brothers team up to save girl, who seem to be girlfriend of both brothers. Me guess having two boyfriends okay if you can make it work, but not if threesome involve immediate family members. As legendarily creepy commenter once say, “NO INCEST!”

And finally, Destroy Him Robots had a report on a little-known Japanese gem:

I played Assault The Cheating Boyfriend! Caught You Red-Handed, which is a bad adventure-type game with a dumber and uglier version of the Phoenix Wright court room scenes. But as the title implies, the entire premise is that you gather evidence that your boyfriend is cheating on you and confront him. There was no way I could have resisted the lure of using the 3DS’ gyroscope to throw incriminating perfume at these badly drawn, smug, questionable anime bastards. Credit where credit is due: The bad endings where you stay with the guy because you couldn’t find enough evidence do pack an appropriate amount of gut punch.

Well, that’s it, folks. Thanks for reading and commenting, and we’ll see you next week.

Share this with your friends and enemies

Write a scintillating comment

80 Responses to “Gender Issues! In! Space!”

  1. PaganPoet says:

    How sweet are Irene Lew’s shoulder pads in that Ninja Gaiden screenshot? Together with that primped-up 80s hair? I feel like she’s amped up for a guest spot on an episode of Murphy Brown.

  2. duwease says:

    Poor Drew, losing his mustache.  but at least he has that fantastic yellow Snuggie.

    • Effigy_Power says:

      It’s in heaven now. Because it’s an a-a-ange-e-el…
      Seriously, GS… someone grow a beard for the next Digest.

      • Girard says:


        Oh, you mean someone who’ll appear on-screen.

        Well, now that Stakalee’s set the precedent, I suppose I could just mail my beard in to Gameological for the next Digest. They can elect to eat or wear it.

  3. Spacemonkey Mafia says:

    Impromptu Friday Open Question!

       Do you still listen to your own music while gaming, or does extensive voice acting and sophisticated orchestration prevent it?
       And if you do listen to your own music, what?

    • PaganPoet says:

      It depends on the game, I suppose. Games like Castlevania Lords of Shadow are simply too cinematic for me to not have the music and voice acting playing (I don’t know why I picked that game as an example, it just happened to pop into my mind).

      Whereas, if I’m playing something that requires lots of grinding (Persona series, I’m looking at you), it’s definitely muted while I’m doing that. For example, I equate the most recent Garbage album Not Your Kind of People and Marina and the Diamonds Electra Heart with grinding levels in Tartarus in Persona 3 FES since that was pretty much my gaming experience last summer.

      The soundtrack will just be whatever I’m into at the time. I tend to be drawn to whirring electro disco pop a la Kylie Minogue, Robyn, or the newest Tegan & Sara album. I also like some more somber singer-songwriter fare a la Fiona Apple, Regina Spektor, PJ Harvey…a leftover relic from my formative teenage years in the mid to late nineties. Also, stuff that falls somewhere in the middle. I’m obsessed with this Ellie Goulding song:

    • Merve says:

      I never listen to my own music if the game has its own music. Otherwise, I just put my iTunes playlist on shuffle and listen to that.

    • Pandas_please says:

       I will if the soundtrack is either bad or boring enough, sometimes just because I like to have a little fun soundtracking stuff.

      Crystal Castles (II) actually soundtracked a lot of my Dead Space 2 play through and worked out pretty great, perfect action horror music.

      • BROedipus says:

        That’s interesting. Not going to argue that Crystal Castles (II) doesn’t deal in horror, but I don’t think I’d like to play a game that relies so heavily on ambience and terror with music. I feel like it would detract from my panic.
        Pretty much I’ll only listen to music if I’m grinding in an RPG, playing an MMO or playing co-op with a friend beside me.
        My friend, on the other hand, plays any game that you can carry a gun in to the Django Unchained soundtrack and pretends he’s a badass cowboy with zero rules and one revolver (or similar spaaaaaace! handgun).

        • Pandas_please says:

           I probably wouldn’t do it in Dead Space 1 but to me 2 relies much less on atmosphere to deliver scares and blends action with horror in a way that mimics the creepy/dance hybrid of Crystal Castles.

    • Matt Kodner says:

      This week I’ve been running into this problem on the train where I’m trying to play Super Hexagon and listen to music from my phone. 

      For whatever reason, you can’t disable the game’s insane music while you play, so I’ve been suffering through accidental Peter, Bjorn, and John and Titus Andronicus chiptune remixes. 
      I would complain, but I managed to beat level 5 for the first time in months, and am 10 seconds away from the third level. 

      • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

        Yikes.  I don’t know what line you ride, but if your head explodes, it might not get cleaned up for weeks.

      • Jackbert322 says:

        Dude! You’re almost exactly where I am! Just finished the fifth level yesterday. Thirty seconds away from the third level though. And I hope by “insane”, you mean “awesome”, because the music in Super Hexagon is very awesome.

    • aklab says:

      Unless I’m playing a game that has really excellent music I usually listen to my own. Most video game voice acting also annoys me, so I always turn on subtitles and my own music if I have the option. Kevin Shields did the sound for Dragon Age: Origins as far as I’m concerned. :P

    • caspiancomic says:

       I never really understood people listening to their own music while playing games, and in fact was surprised to learn (from this community) that that’s such a widespread practice. But after playing The Binding of Isaac for something like 40 hours, I started to get it.

      • aklab says:

        @caspiancomic:disqus , I picked up the habit building levels in JRPGs in the ’90s. Once you’ve heard the same battle music for literally 24 hours… 

        • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

          I as well.  A glass of wine and my own music is pretty much mandatory for me to grind any longer.

        • PaganPoet says:

          Ditto. Although, replace @Spacemonkey_Mafia:disqus ‘s wine with beer. Guess it’s no big mystery why I’ve gained 10 lbs in the last year.

        • aklab says:

          Hold up, what you’re imbibing while you’re playing is a whole different question! 
          I just started playing Suikoden II for the first time and the Franzia Sunset Blush is really making it pleasant!

        • PaganPoet says:

          Being a Colorado native, I love microbrews. My poison this winter has been New Belgium’s Blue Paddle. You can’t really go wrong with just about any New Belgium beer, though.

        • Girard says:

          That’s pretty much the only situation where I’ll do something like that, though it’s less likely to be music and more likely to be some kind of podcast/TV that I divert myself with.

        • George_Liquor says:

          @PaganPoet:disqus  Me too! Personally, I find Fat Tire to be too bitter & hoppy for my taste, but I really dig 1554.

        • Pandas_please says:

          I enjoy Fat Tire, it’s a little strong for me most of the time though. Magic Hat is my beer of choice.

        • exant says:

          @PaganPoet:disqus I switched to whiskey to avoid the beer-chubs while gaming. With whiskey, I also don’t have to pee as much. This gives me a critical advantage in multiplayer games (I assume).

      • valondar says:

         One thing I like doing was assembling game relevant soundtracks.

        For example, when I was playing Star Wars: The Old Republic, my track list for playing as Smuggler featured a lot of pieces from the soundtracks to Firefly and Cowboy Bebop, as well as some other Western themes (pulled out some old Deadwood because why not).

    • stakkalee says:

      It depends on the game, but for the most part I turn down the volume, enable subtitles, and try to pick a thematically-appropriate station to listen to in Pandora.  For New Vegas I listened to a lot of old blues, and so far in Mass Effect I’ve had it on the David Bowie station (I’ve found Bowie’s good for sci-fi stuff.)

    • I tend to leave the music on in games with the exception of grinding in an MMO or JRPG. If I’m doing that I have something playing in the background, though rather than music it’s usually a t.v. show that I can quote verbatim myself. Joss Whedon has helped me conquer many a game.

      • valondar says:

         I know basically nobody who left the music on in World of Warcraft after a certain point.

        To Blizzard’s credit, the music in that game is almost uniformally excellent, with a large amount of diverse tracks that vary depending on location. But after a point you just want to hear some goddamn Philip Glass.

    • Jackbert322 says:

      Like @caspiancomic:disqus , I never knew listening to your own music while gaming was a thing. I honestly can’t think of a game I’ve done that in. I almost took the suggestion of @PaganPoet:disqus and listened to my own music in Persona 3, but I didn’t get around to it, because I liked Maya’s Theme (a song heard while exploring dungeons, but not while in battles) a lot, and didn’t really have any music I though would fit. I may soon give another go at listening to my own music, this time in Crisis Core, once the hilarity of the techno metal wears off. Still don’t know what I’ll listen to though. So, no, I very rarely want to listen to my own music while playing video games, and even if I do, I’m not sure what to listen to.

    • In any action-heavy game, I almost always listen to the game’s music. It helps me focus on the task at hand. The same principle applies for story-heavy games, whether voice-acted or not. The music (when used effectively) is a big part of the immersion.

      I used to listen to my own music a lot when I was grinding or farming in an RPG. Even the best battle music gets tedious after an hour.

      When it comes to what I listen to, I’m not terribly discriminating. I prefer to listen to full albums rather than a shuffling iPod. That keeps me in a zone.  

    • Girard says:

      “Still”? I don’t think I’ve ever listened to other music while gaming. Though sometimes, if I’m playing something kind of mindless and grindy like a JRPG I’ll catch up on my podcast backlog.

    • Effigy_Power says:

      After tens of hours staring at Crusader Kings 2’s map-screen, the 4 or 5 tracks of Gregorian chanting and early troubadour music become about as pleasant as masturbating with a cheese grater. That’s when I break out the WinAmp list in the background.
      Otherwise I try to immerse myself in the music of the game, especially in understated scores like Jeremy Soule’s excellent Skyrim music.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

        You just haven’t found the right cheese grater.   Tantus makes a fantastic four-speed, medical-grade silicone one.

      • HobbesMkii says:

         The first thing I did in CK2 was turn the music off and launch my player.

      • valondar says:

         It’s actually a considerable improvement over the soundtrack to the original Crusader Kings, which got pretty obnoxious real quick.

        Some of the older Paradox titles simply used period music as a standby – Europa Universalis 2 was big on Spanish and Italian Renaissance music, Victoria loved 19th century composers – your Verdi and Wagner and what have you – and the original Hearts of Iron had a very nice medley of early 20th century music. Rodrigo’s Concerto de Aranjuez, for example.

        From around the first Crusader Kings on Paradox has used their own in-house music, to varying degrees of success. Pretty much if it isn’t Andreas Waldetoft (as CK2 is, actually) it’s not worth much.

    • SonjaMinotaur says:

      I will listen to the game music for the first couple of hours, but the repetition of songs/themes drags me down and I eventually drift to my own music. Which leads me into situations like playing Borderlands with the girliest soundtrack ever. (It’s awesome)

      I can’t listen to the same five songs over and over, Fallout: NV!

      The only exception I can think of is atmospheric horror-ish games like BioShock or Alan Wake, where I cared about the mood.

      I was kind of surprised reading the comments on “Silence is Golden” from a few days ago: I almost always play DS games on mute, so the idea that people pay attention to DS soundtracks/voice acting was eye-opening. 

      • stakkalee says:

        The radio was my one big disappointment in New Vegas.  The radio in Fallout 3 wasn’t great but there was some variety to the songs, but New Vegas got repetitious real fast.  And I liked Three Dog’s patter a lot more than that boring AI-thing they used in NV.  It reminded me of real radio stations that use those pre-programmed DJs.  Another reason why I sometimes miss gaming on a PC; there are a ton of radio station mods out there.

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

      If i’m playing some kind of online multiplayer thing i sometimes listen to my own music. I have to mess with the in game audio so i can hear voice chat and sounds and stuff though. Mashups tend to pair well with something like Quake 3 for example. I accidentally ended up listening to Grizzly Bear while I was playing Dota 2 the other day and it somehow was pretty cool. 

      Also, slightly off topic, but has anyone else noticed that when people stream games they generally have the shittiest taste in music and they broadcast the music while they stream? Because that shit happens and goddamn it annoys me. I remember a few years ago when I played LoL the people on the reddit (yeah, shut up) were going crazy over some dudes playlist and it was literally Top 40 rock from the past like 10 years. Like what the hell, c’mon. JEEZ.

      • Histamiini says:

        I watch Dota streams. Of my favorites, Merlini has a fairly unobtrusive trance mattress, and Blitz is all Ellie Goulding all the time, which I’m fine with. In fact I now often listen to either trance or Ellie Goulding when I’m playing ME3 multiplayer. The downside is that I can’t hear the enemies, but it’s a nice change sometimes.

    • George_Liquor says:

      Racing games. I hate, hate, HATE the generic tuneless techno-crap that permeates every racing game made in the last 15 years, so I either turn the music off altogether or play something like Motorhead or Judas Priest instead.

    • EmperorNortonI says:

      I’ve tried that in the past.  The first 6 tracks or so of Eve 6’s debut album are closely associated in my mind with the Marine levels in the original Aliens vs. Predator.  I actually popped the CD into the drive for that one.

      Lately, though, I’m more likely to just turn the music off, and play semi-silent.

      Notable exception – Tropico 4.  The music in that game is decent, though you hear the tracks over and over and over.  It’s spinning through my head still.

      Another example from childhood – the lutes and whatnot from the excellent Castles II.  I spend so much time listening to that bit or orchestration that I can still play it in my head, to this day, 23 years later.

  4. Holy crap! I got Cat Commented! I… I don’t know what to say, except that my probably-creepy obsession with all things cartoony is finally starting to pay off!

    I… I don’t what to do now. Play the lotto?

  5. stakkalee says:

    Sony’s BIG ANNOUNCEMENT is only 5 days away!  Are we at the dawning of the New Age of Consoles?  Or is Sony just punking everybody?  Time will tell…
    The most-commented article this week was Anthony John Agnello’s For Our Consideration on voice-acting which had 288 comments.  Typical Gameological Society – we can even find a lot to say about NOT talking!
    And the Top 5 Most-Liked non-KG comments:
    1) – @twitter-259492037:disqus (beema) gets 41 likes for channeling his inner fairy.  Just go back to the Deku tree already!
    2) – With 30 likes, @Staggering_Stew_Bum:disqus lets it all hang out.
    3) – @Spacemonkey_Mafia:disqus gets 25 likes for choosing the “funny” dialogue option.
    4) – With 24 likes, @Cloks:disqus keeps it succinct.
    5) – And with 22 likes, @HobbesMkii:disqus gives us a sneak peek at his Valentine’s Day wishlist.
    Good stuff everyone.  Funny and insightful in equal measure, as you’d expect from the GS community.
    We’re welcoming 3 new members to the Plaid Jacket Society today – @yahoo-5ZA2TEOS6WNCQDPCMOCWYUR64I:disqus (Nick), @facebook-501651:disqus (Kevin Johnson) and the venerable Cookie Monster (@disqus_jeTusCb3OY:disqus), the AV Club’s own Yoda.  Welcome aboard, folks!  We’ll have our tailors get right to work on a puppet-sized plaid jacket.
    And our returning members – With his second Soupy selection, @vinnybushes:disqus is getting his first stud!  Also, @PGoodso:disqus, @MattmanBegins:disqus and @DestroyHimMyRobots:disqus each get their second studs!  And with the rare double-mention, @Effigy_Power:disqus gets her 18th AND 19th stud, moving her into second place behind @Paraclete_Pizza:disqus, who unlocks the “You’re Nearly Legal!” achievement with his 20th stud!  Well done, one and all!
    I don’t have a themed Linkdump this week, but I do have 2 unrelated-except-by-awesomeness links. Here’s a link to a hand-drawn maze 7 years in the making (mazes count as games, right?)  And here is an absolutely stunning Mario/Sid & Nancy mash-up.
    When you pour your drink tonight, remember to pour a little out for your homie and mine, @AndrewToal:disqus ‘s moustache – you were too good for this world.  Enjoy your gaming, and remember to keep it scintillating!

  6. vinnybushes says:

    Hooray! Validation!