In this weeks bulletin, we focus on a new book about sexism in gaming, a new feature focus about HUMANKIND, Iron Harvest, some more Ghost of Tsushima, a Civil War RTS, 5D Chess, Nintendo leaks and the decolonization of video games!

Gaming Sexism

There is no denying that sexism is present in modern day video games and video game culture. Even though almost the half of all gamers are women, sexist assumptions and stereotypes still prevail and are actively enforced in video games and the landscape (for example in streaming). In a new book, Gaming Sexism. Gender and Identity in the Era of Casual Video Games, Amanda Cote explores sexism in video games and interviews female gamers about their experiences. Whilst revealing the problems and power structures which enforce this sexism, Cote also talks about how the female audience can overcome these structural inequalities.

HUMANKIND: Civics and Ideologies

In a new feature focus, the developers of upcoming HUMANKIND zoom in on the use of Civics and Ideologies in the game. With the use of policies and narrative events, you can shape your own nation on varying axis. The video shows that instead of having binary options (either A or B), HUMANKIND will use a scale for the civics and ideologies. A decision can move you towards one of the sides of the scale, but it will never be an either/or decision. Gradually, we are getting to know more about the game. Will it eventually be the competitor to Civilization they promise to be? Only time will tell.

Video: Humankind

Iron Harvest beta

Do you like alternate histories? Do you like Steampunk? Then you’ll like Iron Harvest! In this upcoming RTS, you play in the aftermath of the First World War as one of three nations: Polonia, Saxony and Rusviet. Create huge warmachines powered by steam engines and fight for dominance. The game will go into beta at the end of this month and will be available for PC from the 1st of September! Check out the trailer below.

Video: Deep Silver

Ghost of Tsushima and the political myth of samurai

You though we were done with Ghost of Tsushima? Well, of course we aren’t! In a very interesting piece on Polygon, Kazuma Hashimoto talks about the representation of samurai and the Kurosawa mode in the game. Like one of the things we discussed in our stream, the game gives a romanticised image of samurai (and an ahistorical one for that matter). Even though the devs probably didn’t want to make it nationalistic (according to Hashimoto), the game does spark nationalistic debate (for example, the piece we mentioned last week about the Mongolians). Hashimoto also talks about the Kurosawa mode, and how the devs have ‘downgraded’ the legendary Japanese director to a black and white filter, whilst his movies are much more than that. You can read the entire feature by Hashimoto on Polygon!

Image: Sucker Punch / Sony Interactive Entertainment

Grand Tactician – The Civil War (1861-1865)

More RTS, but now more historical and in a different timeframe. Later in August (21st) Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865) will go into Early Access! In this RTS you can control either a Union or Confederate Army on the battlefields of the US. Fight a real-time campaign for either side, play out historical battles and change the course of history. Unfortunately the game does seem to shy over the cause of the Civil War: slavery (and its abolition). Like in many RTS about WW2, where devs are hestitant to represent the atrocities by the Nazi’s, this game doesn’t touch upon that part of the history of the Civil War. It’s quite problematic and not truthful to history, but unfortunately I don’t see it changing that soon (not before some of the bigger WW2 RTS change something). Check out the website for the game for more info.

Video: Grand Tactician

5D Chess with time travel

Yeah, I’m not making this up, it really exists. Imagine being so good at Chess that you want to change the game so that you are able to go back in time and make another move. It’s weird, but that’s what 5D Chess is all about! In a piece on PC Gamer, Christopher Livingston talks about the new way of playing chess, and he is as confused as I am. There is still no one solution for Chess which works the best, so changing the game entiriy is justified (is it?) I would like to explain more, but I honestly don’t understand (and neither does Christopher for that matter). Perhaps this trailer can help you out, or read Christophers piece on PC Gamer.

Video: Conor Petersen

Nintendo leak sparks chaos

You might have heard about the leak of the Nintendo source code, which also impacted some classic games like Super Mario 64. Well, that same leak is also creating quite a fuss about what to do with it. On the internet, there has been quite some discussion about what to do with these kinds of leaks. Do you exlpore them? Exploit them? Or just never take a look at them? Patrick Klepek of VICE took a deeper dive into the Nintendo leaks and the chaos it created among video game preservationists. You can read the piece here!

Image: Nintendo

Decolonizing video games

Misrepresentation of indeginous culture in Western forms of culture such as literature and films has been linked to colonialism for quite some time. It is therefore quite disheartening to see that video games have inherited many of the cultural biases, and often misrepresent indeginous cultures just like older media does. Video games can give indeginous cultures a strong voice, but many mainstream games often still rely on old-fashioned tropes and romantization of culture. Franki Webb (@frankiwebb) wrote an interesting feature on the decolonization of video games for Play the Past. She writes about how this misrepresentation presents itself in video games, but also how video games can be used to challenge the commom misconceptions and dangerous tropes about indeginous cultures. Read her piece here!