Romhacking Histories

October 6, 2014 // Published by Stephen Keating

The third romcast with Garret (Pennywise) and Troy, interviewing Lenophis.

We primarily discuss Lenophis’ work on Final Fantasy VI and the Pandora’s Box hack as well as his other Final Fantasy hacking tools, including the Final Fantasy VI randomizer and Final Fantasy II tools. We discuss the Final Fantasy series as a whole, as well as compare and contrast games in the series. In addition, we talk about Lenophis’ speedrunning and streaming; primarily focused on his runs of Final Fantasy but also Super Metroid.

    Romhackers and Translators Mentioned

Gideon Zhi
Eien ni Hen
Gemini
ChrisRPG, and RPGOne
Others, involved in Pandora’s Box, and those who helped out along the way.

    Games We Talk About

Borderlands
The Souls series (Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls, etc.)
Dragon’s Dogma
Devil May Cry
Shin Megami Tensei : Nocturne
Star Ocean 2
Castlevania Symphony of the Night

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Romhacking Histories

August 18, 2014 // Published by Stephen Keating

In the second romcast Garret and Troy go over the history of Eien Ni Hen, one of the scene’s most prolific and respected translators. We discuss her completed works, as well as upcoming projects and some possible dream translations.

    Projects Dicussed

Arabian Nights
Emerald Dragon
Ancient Magic
Dragon Scroll
Nadia
Maten Douji/Conquest of the Crystal Palace
For the Frog the Bell Tolls
Lunatic Fantasy
Story of Thor/Beyond Oasis
Slayers (PC98)
Psy-O-Blade

    Upcoming Works

Romancing Saga 2
Princess Tomato
Dark Half
Princess Minerva

We also discuss her other hobbies, adorably cute things, and translation/writing method.

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On Anita Sarkeesian in 2014

August 6, 2014 // Published by Stephen Keating

By Samantha “Kitten” McComb

I was recently asked what I thought of Anita Sarkeesian and the phenomenon surrounding her. I originally said that she was unremarkable, but I think I should take a step back and swallow my words on that. Her ability to stand up to people and her resilience is absolutely remarkable and one hundred percent worth commending… It’s her brand of feminism and often exactly what she has to say that I find unremarkable.

She’s preaching more or less the safest and most obvious material to the uneducated as possible. Her views are rarely original, highly dumbed down, and she has this tone that comes off as patronizing to me – as if she’s uncovering new earth in feminism by pointing out really blatantly obvious tropes in the most banal way possible. I realize her videos aren’t for me, though, and that a lot of people literally need to be educated on feminism as if they are highly temperamental toddlers.

What’s most remarkable about the situation surrounding her is gaming culture’s incredibly violent, hateful, and ludicrously charged reactions to her Kickstarter campaign and videos. There have been rape threats, threats to inflict violence, a game where you punch her face until it resembles that of someone beaten within an inch of their life, floods of sexist remarks telling her to get back in the kitchen or to make a sandwich, accusations of her deceiving people out of their money or even stealing it (despite an MRA making a campaign to raise money, receiving it, and then producing nothing and running off – something they’re keen to stay silent on), etc.

The fact that Anita’s work is unremarkable and inoffensive is exactly why the whole phenomenon around her is so astounding. All it took was one woman to start a campaign to educate gamers about sexism for gaming culture to nearly collapse in upon itself because of its intensely toxic hatred and vitriol. That all it took for this to happen was someone saying only the very beginning of what absolutely needs to be said is shocking, and has been extremely revealing of how far gone gaming culture has become in a way that the content of her work has only begun to scratch the surface of (also I hear her latest video has a bunch of slut shaming so fuck that).

I mean, it’s great that there’s someone with the courage to put up with all of these horrible threats and abuse to bring out and expose the toxicity and wretchedness of “gamers,” but she’s spoon-feeding baby food level information to people with a smiling, friendly face. I don’t think she’s realized the reaction to her is far more important than anything she’s said. Imagine if she was angry. Imagine if she was visibly colored. Imagine if she was non-hetero. Imagine if she was overweight. Imagine if she was poor. Imagine if she was promiscuous. Imagine if her gender was non-binary.

Imagine if she talked about any of the problems those people experience within the gaming community on top of the simplest feminist dialogue. Anita’s content is mediocre, forgettable, and non-challenging. The reaction gamers have had to what Anita has said is unforgettably, unforgivably fucked-up and depressingly revealing.

If you’re looking for alternatives – other women who have the righteous anger necessary to tear down what needs to be deconstructed – there are a lot of game critics that talk about social issues going on with games in ways more meaningful than Anita Sarkeesian. I feel like a lot of them have poor criticisms when it comes to a game’s mechanical proficiencies (there aren’t many I’d read regarding the finer points of classic gaming, for example), but there’s an abundance of feminist voices out there harshly criticizing things wrong with games today in ways that they need to be criticized.

I’ve fallen out of interest regarding a few of these peeps, but I still feel they’ve contributed to some extremely powerful pieces on games criticism that rise above what Anita has done. For more detailed bits on them, see below the links:

Maddie Myers: http://metroidpolitan.com/writing/
Aevee Bee: https://medium.com/@MammonMachine

Maddie Myers and Aevee Bee are probably the two in here i think have some really interesting stuff to say on game mechanics beyond how they appeal to marginalized peoples.

Anna Anthropy: http://auntiepixelante.com/

Anna’s old game criticism stuff which is archived somewhere probably is really good, but she’s focused lately much more on games made by fellow queers, esp. transwomen. I’ve really fallen out of love with her recent stuff, but she’s definitely still a prominent voice and has a library full of reading material she’s written.

Mattie Bryce: http://www.mattiebrice.com/

Mattie Bryce offers perspective from a trans person of color and has some excellent writing on social issues.

Daphny Drucilla David Delight: http://www.poopdoggyballs.com/

Daphny’s approach to writing is loud, bombastic and stream of consciousness. She can be hard to follow, at first, and is definitely abrasive at times, but I feel like this strongly adds to her appeal.

Merritt Kopas: http://mkopas.net/

Merritt Kopas has a bite to her writing I’d feel bad not to mention, since you asked for games critics that write well about feminist issues (and other issues that pertain to me).

Kimmy D: http://fucknovideogames.tumblr.com/

Kim no longer maintains FuckNoVideogames, but founded and wrote most of the early stuff. She was eventually harassed repeatedly into non-visibility, which is a shame because she had some great stuff to say. This is a serious risk most feminist writers face and many succumb to, and why I’ve personally struggled with writing terribly infrequently and being terrified of visibility.

Liz Ryerson: http://ellaguro.blogspot.com/

Liz Ryerson’s writing can be too self-absorbed, but she’s written some intensely harsh and necessary criticisms of modern gaming culture.

Almost all of these people have twitters and have either made their own games (consider playing them, if you’re interested!) or contributed to games others have made, often as inspirations. Most of them have written for places other than what I’ve linked – if you’re interested, dig deeper; these writers are an excellent starting point. Several of them have written on Anita Sarkeesian, as well, and offer different opinions on what they think of her.

There are also others I’m less familiar with but know have written some good work, including Courtney Stanton, Porpentine and Leigh Alexander. These are people I’m both naming off the top of my head and as someone who has huge difficulties paying attention and reading articles people have written (I know I write a lot, but I have serious trouble reading lengthy writings). I want to concede I’m not the best person to ask about feminist voices in writing and video games, but even with an almost dilettante experience with other writers, I’ve got a lot of examples up my sleeve. There are a lot more out there, I’m sure, many of them marginalized, but with louder, sharper voices than Anita.

It’s worth noting that I am not familiar with Anita’s personal and professional backgrounds. I have, however, seen her post with a humongous stack of Xbox 360 games, noticed that her apartment has looked quite nice in her videos, and if I remember correctly, observed that her recording equipment even prior to receiving funding was pretty nice.

From this, I can extrapolate that she’s probably well off. From that, I can assume she’s going to have a pretty sheltered perspective on what many marginalized peoples experience. Has she said anything about queer women? Women of color? I’ve not heard anything, so I’m going to assume no, probably not. While it’s possible she has had a rougher background than what I’m assuming, I think her work speaks for itself in how it seems to rarely, if ever, cover more than the “average” woman.

I’ve also heard from numerous sources that her latest video has a lot of uncomfortable language revolving around slut-shaming and denigration of sex workers and the promiscuous, which further supports my assumption that she’s well-off and sheltered from a lot of heavily marginalized women.

From the videos I have seen and the writing on her site, she takes an academic approach, which leads me to assume she’s probably received a college education and again reinforces my belief she’s sheltered from many particularly marginalized female voices. I don’t much care for academic approaches, because I feel like they’re a hands-off approach (which is extremely inappropriate for social issues and video games, which literally require you to put your hands upon something). Academia is also something I believe exists to support those already within its structure, and I find its structure to be extremely ableist and classist.

I really and genuinely think that what she’s doing is important, and by no means whatsoever do I want her to stop doing it. As I said, by mere nature of being a prominently visible feminist in gaming and not backing down, that alone is doing amazing things in drawing out and making people aware of how toxic and awful gaming culture is.

However, her feminism feels really textbook and academic. It glosses over a lot of extremely marginalized types of women and has this almost sterile approach to educating people on what I consider to be really obvious tropes. Her work is a pretty good introduction for the uninitiated, but only as a first baby step.

Tropes Vs. Women is shallow, it sugarcoats. It feels like a privileged perspective for people with privileged perspectives to maybe kinda start questioning things. It works at a slow pace and contrary to the disgusting vitriol it has drawn, is way too calm, like it is worried it’s going to offend the giant, temperamental baby it’s attempting to teach.

Gaming culture’s persistent and deliberate toxicity doesn’t need an academic dissection of tropes, it needs a violent takedown, and a lot of those people I linked have the bite in their voices necessary for this.

One might argue that the content of Anita’s work – rather than just its existence as a way to show how horrible things currently are – is extremely important because it’s using the type of language that might be a good catalyst for people on the edge to finally give into understanding feminism and start them down a better road, and I can certainly say that there is merit in that.

My takedown here isn’t meant to undervalue what Anita has done, but rather to say that there are other, better voices that really need to be signal boosted and tuned into. Sure, Anita is doing a good job, but she doesn’t cover so many important subjects and leaves a lot of people like me – a transwoman in poverty – feeling like a non-entity. Her latest video belittling sex workers comes from a privileged perspective that doesn’t understand they’re real people often having to do that kind of work to get by, and that really rubs me the wrong way.

As a transwoman, I’m typically looked at by society as a kind of walking joke, a non-existent person. When feminism begins leaving certain women out or even trampling over them, one needs to question where they can find something better, something more inclusive… Something more challenging. If you’re new to feminism, Anita works great as a 101 class; but if you’re already introduced, you need to be looking harder for works that are actually going to change your perspectives.