Introducing Gaming’s Bechdel Test

Over the course of July, I finally decided to put forth my idea for adapting the Bechdel Test to games. I’ve tossed it around privately for awhile, and I’m hoping community feedback will help shape it into something useful. Now that it’s out in the world, it might be worth talking a little more about it here. First, the videos: one lays out the theory, while the other attempts to apply it to games.

One thing I knew going into this project was that I wanted The Path to pass. It would fail the traditional Bechdel Test based on the lack of dialogue, but if there were ever a game about women’s stories, The Path was it. So the question became how to account for representation in a medium where dialogue isn’t inherent. Likewise, was it necessarily a bad thing when there was only one woman on screen? In the case of something like Metroid, the woman was the only character on screen. It doesn’t make sense to dismiss games based on criteria nonessential to the medium. (more…)

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Inglourious Basterds: The Tyranny of King Washington Impressions

Several years before Ubisoft announced its American Revolution-set sequel, a hidden puzzle in Assassin’s Creed II depicted George Washington holding one of the game’s most power artifacts–an Apple of Eden. With the first episode of Assassin’s Creed III: The Tyranny of King Washington, it looks like this little easter egg is finally going to pay off in a big, weird, and kind of uncomfortable way.

If the original Assassin’s Creed III set up a surprisingly nuanced world of social and moral ambiguity, The Tyranny of King Washington gleefully deconstructs it, dashing out the color and life of the original game with a bleak color palette peppered with the occasional blood splatter. In King Washington, Assassin’s Creed forgoes all pretense of historical accuracy, and pulls a page from Quentin Tarantino’s playbook. King Washington is not just an exercise in historical speculation, it is a gratuitous, historical revenge fantasy.

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