Quickies

Skepchick Quickies 3.25

  • BioWare smacks down whining straight male gamers – Apparently some straight dudes are so scared of teh gay that they can’t even handle having fictional dudes hit on them. BioWare recognizes that they have an audience that isn’t just those tools and creates games for that let you have relationships with anyone, no matter your character’s gender. From Joe.
  • Thorn said to be from Jesus’ crown goes on display – From QA.
  • Frequent churchgoers frequently fatter – From Lauren who says, “Does this mean someone should start promoting “The Atheist Diet”? I had no idea babies were such a health food.”
  • The power of prayer – Cute comic from Steve D.
  • Cute Animal Friday! John sent in this gallery of springtime zoo babies. Amy found this story with a very happy ending, miniature horse gets a prosthetic leg.
  • Also, I was lucky enough to be a guest on the Read it and Weep podcast, so go check out my episode. I got to be the author of Gossip Girl and Katy Perry.

Amanda

Amanda is a science grad student in Boston whose favorite pastimes are having friendly debates and running amok.

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37 Comments

  1. Still wonder why that wasn’t implemented in Bioware’s ‘Mass Effect’ series, but give them kudos for being inclusive in Dragon Age. As a straight dude playing a boring straight character, I took it as a compliment that a virtual male elf prostitute took such a fierce interest in my avatar *preening*.

    Oh and: ‘And if there is any doubt why such an opinion might be met with hostility, it has to do with privilege. You can write it off as “political correctness” if you wish, but the truth is that privilege always lies with the majority. They’re so used to being catered to that they see the lack of catering as an imbalance. They don’t see anything wrong with having things set up to suit them, what’s everyone’s fuss all about? That’s the way it should be, any everyone else should be used to not getting what they want.’

    Pardon the vulgarity, but FUCK YEAH

  2. David Gaider, representing Bioware, responding to Whiny Straight Guy:

    And the person who says that the only way to please them is to restrict options for others is, if you ask me, the one who deserves it least. And that’s my opinion, expressed as politely as possible.

    Not only is David Gaider totally awesome for saying this, but he also perfectly summed up my opinion on gay marriage opponents.

    Sigh… now I want to go home and get back to playing Dragon Age II.

  3. That churchgoing = obesity article kind of rings my bullshit detectors. It seems to me they might not be controlling for other factors – I doubt it’s the lack of church basketball leagues that’s making people fat. Does going to church track more with another demographic or set of demographics? Is consistent church attendance higher in certain socio-economic backgrounds?

    The article also seems to think that the correlation is causative, somehow, which a lot of articles on fatness assume, in spite of the fact that it’s hard to prove and usually the study in question hasn’t proven it.

  4. @scribe999: It might get implemented in Mass Effect 3?

    Bioware has shown a trend in MA and DA to expand on the variety and depth of PC/NPC romances, and that’s a good thing. In a lot of bioware games the story is a big part of the experience.

    I already played through DA2 days ago, and am on a second play-through. At no time did I think that my character was being inappropriately approached – except with swords and fireballs and whatnot.

  5. @slightlymadscience: It may, but I’m thinking unlikely since Mass Effect does something very unique…carry over major plot points from each of the previous games. I imagine that this can be a design nightmare since playing through both games created so many branching paths. It may not be financially worth it to tinker with adding even more relationship complexity for the next one.

  6. @metagnat: Yea, my first reaction to that study (well, press release; I haven’t read the study) was that it sounded like kind of a fishing expedition, so I’m not sure if this is a real effect.

    My second reaction was to consider joining Conservapedia so I can edit their article on obesity and atheism.

  7. Love BioWare’s response. A nice reminder that if you take ‘rights’ away from anyone they can be taken away from everyone. Incidentally there’s some discussion floating around about how much the romantic aspect will feature in BioWare’s upcoming online Star Wars game, ‘Star Wars – The Old Republic’.

    My second thought was this…

    I typically play female characters in RPGs. If I play a female character in Dragon Age 2 will I have to ‘put up’ with female characters hitting on me?

    Awesome.

    Mike.

    PS It’s probably all those pot-luck dinners making the church goers fat.

  8. @NoAstronomer: I don’t have Dragon Age 2 yet, but in the first game my female character can hit on the ladies. I’m not actually sure if they can start it, because I aggressively mack on every player that I can and always start the flirting. Because then they love me and fight better.

  9. That response from BioWare was, well let’s just say it makes me wish I liked RPGs. But I will actively support BioWare from now on in the same way I’ve supported Will Wright (The Sims has allowed same-sex relationships since the first game in 2000!), Sid Meier (can you tell I’m a simulation fan), and companies like Media Molecule, and Naughty Dog.
    While the gaming industry still has a lot of work to do I believe they are moving in the right direction and responses like these make me hopeful that they will continue to improve.

    Now they just need to make a female character that is less than a C-cup and we’ll be all set. :)

    Oh, I just remembered Bayonetta ( :( and :) I’m torn) back to the drawing board guys and gals.

  10. @Amanda:

    Yes, but in Bioware games you eventually have to choose. (dramatic music)

    Crap, now the polyamory people will gripe. :(

    FWIW in DA2 it isn’t just a matter of getting NPC’s to like you to get a benefit. You gain a (different) benefit if you tick them off consistently, too.

    Bioware needs to make a Doctor Who game, dammit.

  11. That thorn is quite obviously not from Jesus’ crown…

    it’s the one the mouse pulled from the lion’s paw.

    Hey, if you’re going to make shit up don’t go half way. ;)

    BTW-Did anyone read the comments, or more precisely could anyone read the comments? I know The Daily Fail has a more “common” readership than some other Brit newspapers, but are they really semiliterate or is this more common than I think?

    Maybe I should read more comments sections, or maybe not.

  12. I played MA and MA 2, and I don’t remember being able to have a romantic encounter with another man, if I choose to be a guy. Quite disheartening. However, I’ve played Fable 2 and 3, and in each, you can get married to the gender of your choice.

  13. Steve Novella has a post on acupuncture today where sham acupuncture with toothpicks works as well or better than acupuncture with needles.

    What I would like to see is how does sham acupuncture with the thorn from Jesus’ Crown work? It should work better than a toothpick made from the True Cross but that is just a hypothesis ;)

  14. For some reason, the baby animal link takes you to the 2nd picture in the series (the hippo), so be sure to loop around to #1 after looking at #20 (or go back from #2.)

    I could call conspiracy theory here, since photo #1 is of a baby orange monkey that “is the first of its species at the zoo to be raised by two adult females who share mothering duties”, but it was probably just a URL cut&paste error. I can’t find the original link on the Boston Globe web site anymore (they redo their front page every few hours) so you now have to click down a couple of pages to find the photo collection, and the link to it does take you to the 1st picture.

  15. @daedalus2u: Because of rarity? There’s only a handful of thorns, but several hundred tons of true cross fragments.

    Totally off-topic random digression: this reminds me of my “how to save the rhinoceros” strategy. Flood the market with cheap fake rhino horn powder made from cow horns. Is there any way short of DNA testing to tell the difference?

  16. About the Bioware smackdown, that’s awesome. But they’re not perfect, in fact, they still messed up DA2.

    http://borderhouseblog.com/?p=4453
    “The problem, however, is that BioWare have chosen (at least for the purposes of the demo) to give you the character creator only after this initial opening sequence. In fact, the beginning of the game gives you a simple choice between male/female and warrior/mage/rogue before throwing you into the action. This means that the first ten minutes of the game are always going to be played as BioWare’s default male or female Hawke, which in turn means that they are going to be Caucasian.”

    Another post at the same site confirms that this is not just in the demo, and made it to the main game. I’ve looked at videos for the intro, and can confirm the same.

    Two steps forward, one step back, Bioware.

  17. @BlackCat: I don’t know if it’s quite one step back… maybe like a quarter step back or something. I agree that the way they held off on character creation until after the tutorial introduction was kind of weird. But I can sort of justify it since the dwarf dude* was telling the story to an Orlesian woman* in the introduction, and she might not have any clue as to what your character looks like, so she fills in the blanks herself. So in that first ten minutes, your sortof, like, playing yourself you know, but your doing so in that evil looking lady’s mind.

    *I don’t know these character’s names, as I only have about an hour of playtime logged so far.

  18. @BlackCat:
    It either was a valid plot device, an easy way to get you through the tutorial. Maybe laziness, too, but I think it’s a stretch to call it racism or “witewashing”.
    It’s not the Last Airbender movie.

    If there were no customization after the tutorial, that would be one thing. But since it’s there (just later), I don’t see much issue.

    And, if you play on a PC, there’s already a mod that allows you to customize you early, and that customization carries through to your family as well.
    That’s the beauty of playing a Bioware game on the pc, they open it up to the modding community.

    And then the modders add content to “Enhance” Bethany Hawke (her bust anyhow), “whitewash” Isabella, and make Hawke (female only) naked. *shrug*

  19. Did I miss something?

    Why is everyone complaining aboutt he last airbender being whitewashed? I understand that it had an all white cast, but it was an american cartoon, not anime. It was developed at nick animation studios. I mean, if your criticism is how white the cast was, ok, that may be fair, but they didn’t change the races. In the cartoon, they weren’t specified, just drawn somewhat off-white.

  20. @infinitemonkey: Yes, it was an American made cartoon, but setting aside that there are Asian-Americans in America for the moment, “they didn’t change the races” is misleading. First off, Asians tend not to think of ourselves as being bright yellow or some such exaggerated palette. In fact, you’ll notice in the cartoon, Katara and Sokka, more heavily drawn from Inuit features (as opposed to more Southeast Asian cultures), have a duskier skin tone, not white, anyway. Regardless of dark or light, the anime stylings of the eyes still do not belie the Asiatic features of the characters. This is exacerbated by the fact that most Westerners think that anime characters in Japan depict white people to begin with. Japanese themselves consider those stylings to represent the Japanese…not Caucasians…as the default. A pretty decent explanation can be found here: http://www.nikkeiview.com/blog/2010/09/26/japanese-dont-draw-anime-characters-to-be-white/.

    The setting is a fantasy world, granted, but it is drawn heavily from Asiatic cultures. While the creators were Western, the influences, in their own words, were Asian. The costuming, style, architecture, naming conventions etc. It can’t be denied, in the same way that Middle Earth is a European-based fantasy world, and I can imagine the outcry if the four hobbits had been anything other than lily white. If a white guy wrote, say a comic book like ‘Chew’ with a Chinese-American lead, does the fact that it was written by a white guy negate the fact that the character isn’t meant to be white?

    What is also galling about the casting choices, in so much that they just selected white actors for the 3 main leads, the production studios in Hollywood tend not to even bother searching for suitable Asian actors under the pretense that it’s too risky to cast unknowns in big-budget features. Unlike, say Brandon Routh in Superman Returns? Of course, they were perfectly fine in casting Dev Patel, the recent big name from Slumdog Millionaire (at the last second after much pressure) for the role of Prince Zuko, the villain…the palest character in the cartoon played by a darker skinned Indian man. Nice.

    Finally, we come to economic reasons. Asian actors don’t have a lot of prominent roles in Hollywood. The remake of Akira I mentioned earlier has already had scripts sent out to…Robert Pattinson, James McEvoy, Michael Fassbender, etc. All the names on the list are well-known white actors. Not a single script or casting call for an Asian actor to be found. How about at least a sham audition in the vein of black baseball players in the pre-integration days at least?? The Last Airbender could have meant exposure, the likes of which provided John Cho and Kal Penn, after Harold & Kumar, a launching pad for success … of course, that movie was not expected to be so popular, so Hollywood can’t even take much credit for that.

  21. Just to disclose: I’m not a fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender … but in seeing such casual whitewashing, I’ll side with the angry fans who were disappointed by Hollywood’s blind spot once again.

  22. (Hi, I’m rare poster)
    Is there a name for the logical fallacy that DA2 player uses when he speaks for and assumes he knows what a demographic wants?

    There seems to be overlays of ad populi, confirmation bias, and even strawman in it.

    It’s very similar when a Christian attempts to argue for the imposition of a particular doctrine by saving the majority of a country is Christian.

    They both tout a point of view, citing a majority but not confirming whether that majority actually agrees with it.

  23. OMG Amanda I both hate and love you right now mostly due to jealousy. I want to hang out with the guys from Read It and Weep sooooooo badly.

    I will make sure to queue up your episode tomorrow morning when I’m walking to class.

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