Friday, September 11, 2009

Happy 20th birthday, TurboGrafx-16!

Despite the fact that I've owned many of the leading video game consoles over the years, my brother loves to joke that I always choose the "loser system." I think the joke started when I bought--or maybe I should say "became obsessed with"--the TurboGrax-16 shortly after it made its way to the U.S. on August 29, 1989.

I started with the base system and a good number of "TurboChip" games, but I quickly added the TurboGrafx-CD attachment and even the TurboDuo (after it was released in 1992). Sadly, I sold all of the above--including a slew of American and Japanese games--in order to pay for another "loser system," the Sega Saturn. Sigh.

Anyway, the point of all of this nostalgia is that I have fond memories of the good 'ol TurboGrafx-16. As such, I got misty-eyed recently when I realized I had missed the 20th birthday of my 16-bit system of choice. The folks over at didn't forget, though--they even wrote up a wonderful little tribute to the "console that could (have been a contender)."

Check it out if, like me, you'd like to spend a little time reminiscing about NEC's "Entertainment SuperSystem." Check out, too, the Wikipedia page dedicated to the system and the fan site, The PC-Engine Software Bible, I scan whenever I'm looking for information on a particularly memorable (or, more likely, unmemorable) title.

In case anyone cares, here are my favorite TurboGrafx-16 (and PC-Engine) games of all time--alphabetized but otherwise in no particular order:

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The evolution of sex in video games

The folks at BioWare know more about sex in video games than pretty much anyone else in the business. They probably know more than anyone else about gay sex in video games, too; after all, three of their games--Jade Empire, Mass Effect and the upcoming Dragon Age: Origins--allow same-sex couplings.

As such, it shouldn't be much of a surprise to hear that when Jim Sterling over at Destructoid decided to write about the evolution of sex in video games, he called Mike Laidlaw, lead designer at the Edmonton, Alberta-based company.

"We're still battling ... the perception that games are for kids," Laidlaw told Sterling. "[But] if games are for kids and sex is not for kids, why is sex in games? To my mind, the hurdle to cross is to say, 'You know, games are not [just] for kids.' I'm not a kid, I probably burn a good three hours a night playing games. [I'm] married, comfortably happy ... definitely not a child."

Laidlaw knows he's not alone in thinking that games are no longer just for kids, but he also knows that more folks who feel the same way--especially journalists and other opinion-makers--are going to have to talk about it before everyone comes to understand that games, like movies, can be made for and enjoyed by consumers of all ages. "Just like there are movies for children and ... adults, there can be games for [children and] adults, too," Laidlaw said.

It doesn't sound like Laidlaw and his colleagues are going to rest on their laurels until that day comes, though. "Will we see more of [sex in games]? I hope so, I really do," he shared. "I mean, it's not a mandatory part of any experience, but is it something we should shy away from? I don't think so. It's part of the human experience, so why not? Does a game have to be about sex? No. Can it be in there? Sure. Why not?"

What do you think about all of this? Would you like to see more games with sexual content--especially sexual content involving same-sex couples?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

"Gay Tony" Prince's coming out party

We've known for some time that the next trip to Grand Theft Auto's Liberty City would focus on "Gay Tony" Prince, but other than that we haven't had a clue as to how gay the title would end up.

Well, the folks at Rockstar Games threw us a bone earlier today in the form of a new trailer for the soon-to-be-released Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony.

The trailer starts with a bang--with Prince saying, "In my day, gay guys used to be lonely, needy and lost; now they're all in relationships"--and ends in a gay club. What more can you ask for?

Unfortunately, we still don't know how the gay community will be portrayed in the game--or if it'll be portrayed at all. We'll know soon enough, though, since the Xbox 360 title is set to hit real and virtual store shelves on Oct. 29.

What do gay gamers want?

I recently interviewed the fabulous Brenda Brathwaite for an article that appeared on

During our conversation, the veteran game designer (and author of Sex in Video Games) admitted, “I don’t think most straight developers, including myself, know what gay men and women want in a video game.”

Most developers pressed with the question, "How can we attract a gay audience?" are likely to answer, "Let's put a bunch of naked men into the game," Brathwaite adds. "But that's not going to do it for you."

I tend to agree, but I also tend to believe that gay gamers are as different as they are alike. Some, like me, would like to play as a gay protagonist once in a while, while others prefer the status quo (where heroes rescue princesses and all that).

I realize it's a bit early in this blog's life to ask this question (as I don't seem to have many followers), but I'm going to ask it anyway: What do you, as an LGBT man or woman, want in a game? As always, I'm all ears.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Transgender princess promotes Little King's Story in Japan

File this under: Things I'd like to see more of in the games industry.

According to the folks over at, Marvelous has been promoting its latest release, Little King's Story for the Wii, with a contest designed to turn a down-on-his-luck commoner into an honest-to-goodness king (complete with a crown, cape and scepter).

More interesting to me than the man who would be king is the woman who was chosen to be his princess, Ayana Tsubaki. That's because the 25-year-old TV personality and model lived as a male before undergoing gender reassignment surgery in mid-2006.

Hopefully Tsubaki was hired because of her looks and personality and not because of her past.