Friday, September 04, 2009

Madonna meets Ms. Pac-Man

Madonna the religious icon, not Madonna the musical icon :)

Anyway, check out this game-inspired art, created by the similarly single-named Misha:

According to the folks at GameSetWatch, 50 8.5"-by-11" giclee prints of the piece--aptly titled, "Our Lady Of The Arcade"--are being sold by Los Angeles-based Gallery 1988 for $50.

I'd buy one, but I don't think it goes with our decor. Plus, I'm not sure the husband would approve the purchase of game-inspired art :)

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Nnooo CEO Nic Watt comments on homophobia in vitrual communities

After reading an editorial ("The Impact of Homophobia in Virtual Communities," written by GLAAD's Justin Cole) on Kotaku recently, I came across a comment posted by Nnooo CEO Nic Watt. (Nnooo's claim to fame, so far: the popular WiiWare/DSiWare/iPhone title, Pop.)

Watt, one of the only "out" CEOs I know of in the games industry, responded to Cole's call to arms ("call for camaraderie" might be a better way to put it) by chatting about his experiences as an online gaymer:

"I find when playing on line that there are people who use the word gay as 'that is bad' or 'I don't like that.' In those instances, I ignore it and don't really think about it as an insult or ignorance. Sure there are better choices of words, [but] it is not being directed at anyone.

"Then there are the people who use words like gay, nigger, Jew and so forth [and direct them] at other players. This I find offensive and not because I am gay. I find it offensive because those people are deliberately using those words as an insult and one can directly infer that the user views those groups as inferior to him/herself. You don't use those sorts of slurs if you don't think those you are slurring are bad in someway.

"What is hard is that the former use of gay is fairly unique to homosexuality in that I cannot think of any other negative words we use to describe objects or situations which come from a minority slur. We don't say that is so nigger or that is so Jew. However, because I have become accustomed to it and because it is directed at a situation rather than an individual, I am OK with ignoring it (OK meaning indifferent, not over the moon).

"I am not OK with ignoring direct personal attacks on other players regardless of the words used. Calling someone a nigger, Jew or fag/gay can only be construed as an insult and is being used to incite hate, to bully and to assert control over the situation. This has to be stopped.

"I'm not saying that we should all hold hands and sing songs 'round a camp fire. Great online gaming should raise our passion and ire. Let's just try to keep the insults out of it!"

I thought about posting Watt's entire comment--it's certainly well worth your time--but I think it would be better if you clicked over to the Kotaku article and read it (along with Cole's editorial) there. Skip to the sixth comment if you want to get right to it.

Great, *another* reason to buy a PS3...

OK, I don't have a PS3 at the moment but, believe me, it's not because I don't want one. I just don't have the cash at the moment. Anyway, rest assured that as soon as I do have the cash to buy one, I'll be buying 3D Dot Game Heroes along with it.

Of course, that's assuming this retro-riffic Zelda clone (from the looks of it, at least) is released in the U.S. Rumors abound that both Atlus and Ignition are fighting over the rights to the title, though, so hopefully that means we'll receive localization confirmation (and maybe even a release date?) in the coming weeks or months.

Anyway, not much is known about the title so far, though the folks over at IGN seem to know a bit about its back story. Here's what they had to say in a recent write-up:

"3D Dot Game Heroes is set in the Kingdom of Dotnia. This world was once made up of 2D sprite art like something out of an old-school game. However, wanting to attract more people to the kingdom, the king decided to use technology to make everything 3D. This is where something goes horribly wrong, although just what that is has yet to be specified."

Read the rest of what the IGN crew have to say about the game here. Or, check out this thread over at the great NeoGAF.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The 10 tennis games you should be playing when you're not watching the US Open

I've played tennis since I was a youngster, so it should be no surprise to hear that I've always loved virtual versions of the sport.

Honestly, I think I've played nearly every tennis game that's been released since the early days of the NES. The only exceptions I can think of are the Smash Court games that were released for the PS2, the Top Spin games that have been released for practically every system under the sun and all of the Virtua Tennis games released after the first sequel.

As such, I thought it might be fun to come up with a list of my favorite tennis games--especially since the US Open is in full swing. (Go Rafa and Dementieva!) Here they are, in no particular order (though I have arranged them according to when they were released):

1. World Court Tennis (PC-Engine/TurboGrafx-16, 1989) - A launch title for the TurboGrafx-16, if I'm not mistaken, World Court Tennis deserves a spot on this list simply because it was the first (and last?) tennis game to include an RPG mode.

2. Final Match Tennis (PC-Engine, 1991) - World Court Tennis may be unique, but in truth it isn't a very good game. Final Match Tennis, on the other hand, is a *great* game. It's as pick-up-and-play as you can get (each player has just two shots; typically a flat shot and a slice or a flat and a topspin shot) and it's fast--faster than any other title on this list, in fact. Check it out if you like arcade-style sports games.

3. Super Tennis (SNES, 1991) - If someone forced me to select one of the titles on this list as the *best* tennis game ever, I'd probably have to go with Super Tennis. No other tennis game, in my humble opinion, has been able to match its silky smooth controls--with the possible exception of the eminently playable Wii Sports.

4. Top Rank Tennis (GameBoy, 1993) - If I'm remembering correctly, this tennis game was the first (that I played) that allowed me to create my own player and then take that player to the top of the rankings (hence the title). That alone means it'll always have a special place in my heart.

5. Wimbledon Championship Tennis (Genesis, 1993) - Truth be told, I'm not sure Wimbledon Championship Tennis belongs on this list. I wanted to include a Genesis game, though, and Jennifer Capriati Tennis was an absolute stinker, so I had no choice but to include this solid, but unspectacular, title.

6. Ace wo Nerae/Aim for the Ace (Super Famicom, 1993) -You know how I said Super Tennis might be the best tennis game ever? Well, Aim for the Ace might be the second best. The only thing keeping it from the top spot is the possibly-seizure-inducing pseudo-3D effect that follows the player around the court.

7. Mario Tennis (GameBoy Color, 2001) - Call me crazy, but I prefer this title to Mario Tennis: Power Tour, released for the GameBoy Advance in 2005. Both titles share a lot of similarities - including an RPG-ish training mode - but I think this one is the more charming of the two.

8. Virtua Tennis 2 (Dreamcast/PS2, 2001/2002) -Virtua Tennis 2 is a lot like a 3D version of Final Match Tennis, mentioned above. It sets itself apart from that and other arcade-y tennis titles, though, by including amazingly deep create-a-player and world-tour modes.

9. Mario Power Tennis (GameCube, 2004) - I decided to include this title instead of Camelot's earlier effort, Mario Tennis 64 (released for the Nintendo 64 in 2000), because, well, this one is better in every way. I know some players hate that you can't turn off the "power shots" (or at least their animations), but they've never bothered me.

10. Grand Slam Tennis (Wii, 2009) - I know what you're thinking: "How can he include this game on the list and not Wii Sports?" My response: Well, as much as I love Wii Sports' tennis, Grand Slam Tennis plays just as well while adding a multitude of other options--including online match-ups.

Another gayming blog for your reading pleasure

It's no secret that I'm primarily a handheld/console gamer (see "The game that got me to buy a ..."). I've been intrigued by PC gaming (especially MMOs) for quite some time, but I've just never gotten into it.

In fact, my most recent foray into the world of PC gaming happened back when Second Life was still the hottest thing around. I had a blast creating a cute, muscle-y avatar that only somewhat resembled my real-life self (isn't that how it always is?), but I didn't have a blast when I entered the game's expansive world. Some jerk kept pestering me (which was very lifelike, I have to admit) and, well, I signed off about five minutes after I started. I haven't been back since.

PC gaming is pretty much all that's talked about on the Gamer Girl News site, though, so all of you MMO lovers might want to pop over there from time to time. I won't mind, really--especially if you bring some of her readers back here. :)

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

(The Ballad of) Gay Tony is such a tease

I don't know about you, but the first question that came to my mind when Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony was announced earlier this year was, "How gay is it going to be?"

I thought developer Rockstar North might answer that question this morning when it released the first trailer for the much-anticipated add-on but, alas, I was wrong.

The game certainly looks good--assuming Grand Theft Auto is your thing, of course--but I was hoping we'd get at least a tiny glimpse at the gay side of Liberty City.

Considering Rockstar promised in a press release that accompanied the trailer that the Xbox 360 title will contain "guns, glitz and glamor," I'm hopeful the final product also will contain a bit of "teh gay" when it hits real and virtual store shelves on Oct. 29.

The game that got me to buy a ...

Someone over on NeoGAF recently started a thread devoted to "system sellers," i.e., must-have games that push people to buy a particular system.

I have yet to add my two cents to that discussion, but I thought it might be fun to do so here.

So, without further ado, here are the systems I've owned over the years and the games that forced me (yes, forced me) to buy them.


NES: Kid Icarus (and Metroid)
SNES: Super Mario World (and Final Fantasy II/IV)
Genesis: Shining Force
TurboGrafx-16: Bonk's Adventure (HuCard) and Ys: Book I & II (CD-ROM)
SuperGrafx: Daimakaimura (Ghouls 'N Ghosts)
Nintendo 64: Super Mario 64
PlayStation: Final Fantasy Tactics
Saturn: Panzer Dragoon
Dreamcast: Jet Grind Radio
GameCube: Animal Crossing
PlayStation 2: Disgaea: Hour of Darkness
Wii: Wii Sports


Sadly, I don't yet have a PSP, a PlayStation 3 or an Xbox 360, but here are the games that make me want to get all three of them as soon possible:

PSP: LocoRoco
PlayStation 3: Little Big Planet (and Valkyria Chronicles)
Xbox 360: Pac-Man Championship Edition

So readers, which games got *you* to buy the systems you've owned over the years? I'm all ears! :)

Monday, August 31, 2009

Is this one of the best LGBT blogs in the world?

I seriously doubt it, but who am I to argue with the fine folks at the Manchester, England-based Lesbian & Gay Foundation? :)

Here's a bit of background, in case I've already lost you: In late June, the Lesbian & Gay Foundation posted to its site a list of "The 100 Best LGBT Blogs." Somehow, my little 'ol (hardly ever updated) blog made the cut.

I originally thought the folks at the Lesbian & Gay Foundation just Googled "gay blog" and based their list on the first 100 search results, but then I read the commentary (written by Grahame Robertson - not sure who he is, sadly) that accompanied the mention of my blog:

“Not only did I have to struggle with coming out as a gay man, I’m also a closet gamer too! Luckily, there’s a burgeoning gay gaming community out there, and this excellent blog - written by a gay gamer in Washington – is a great mix of tongue-in-cheek humour, real enthusiasm for the subject, and politics (check out his coverage of Microsoft’s recent run-in with the gay gaming community). Would love to see it updated a bit more frequently though.”

Thanks to the Lesbian & Gay Foundation and especially to Grahame, I plan on posting to this blog much more frequently from now on :)

BTW, you're probably wondering why I'm only posting this news now. Well, to be honest, I didn't know I had made the the Lesbian & Gay Foundation's list until this morning, when someone posted a congratulatory comment to this site!

The Advocate: Are Video Games Getting Gayer?

Well, it seems 50% (or more) of my posts these days promote articles I've written for The Advocate. Sorry about that. The good news is that I plan to post much more frequently from now on - which should mean that self-aggrandizing additions such as these should be fewer and farther between.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand: the article I wrote for The Advocate. The headline - "Are Video Games Getting Gayer?" - says it all, I think. My answer to that question apes the answer given by the folks I interviewed for the article: Sure, but they still have a long way to go.

For example, Brenda Brathwaite, a veteran game designer and the author of Sex in Video Games, told me that while video games have grown up a lot in the last few years, “we still haven’t seen the kind of normalization [of LGBT characters and story lines] that we’ve seen in movies and on TV for some time. We still haven’t had our Brokeback Mountain moment.”

Don't expect that to happen until more members of the LGBT community involve themselves in game design and development, she adds. In the meantime, “a bunch of straight guys will be trying to make games for the gay community, just like they used to try to make games for women.”

Here's a link to the full article - - in case anyone's interested.