Coredawn Update

Massive update for my Coredawn content on this blog.  For those unfamiliar Coredawn is the closest thing I would describe as my life’s work.  I am determined to turn it into games, TV series, movies, novels, or all of the above.   Out of all the content I’ve created for Coredawn over the last 20 years there’s just a small fraction online here, but it’s a start!


Nail in the coffin for “video games cause violence”

Most people have always found the claim ridiculous, but video games are “hippest” leisure activity to criticize these days and so it bears repeating: Violent PEOPLE are violent, and video games have absolutely nothing to do with it.

Here’s the latest study; it’s time public discussion of video games returned to things like entertainment value and story.

Study Finds Video Games Have No Impact on Violent Crime

There are always two sides to every story, and the other side of #GamerGate is just as scary.

BBC published an article detailing the experience of ‘TotalBiscuit’ an online game pundit who stood with #GamerGate out of loyalty to their original brand- the idea that journalism in gaming is corrupt and it had drifted away from consumer focus as an industry.

His ‘Social Justice’ detractors came at him with an avalanche of inhuman threats worthy of any bombarded feminist.  This story illustrates how hatred for those you disagree with can come from anywhere, and the idea that we can bottle online bullying and sell it as something that only comes from privileged white men is as absurd as it is dangerous.

The dark side of gaming…

Does Gaming hurt us?

I am a huge fan of artistic expression, and a huge fan of gaming.  I think interactive entertainment presents an incredible opportunity to teach everything from basic math to teamwork, reaction time, problem solving and even empathy.

But there is a movement to tear down gaming and promote censorship of expression.  In the 1990s this movement was launched from the far right- moral police that tried to convince us digital violence and nudity would destroy our young people.  Today the threat of censorship comes from a new hate movement on the far left.  These fact-free idealogues make their careers out of trying to convince anyone who will listen that gender relations and our basic humanity is under threat from gaming culture.

Now I am all for gaming being more inclusive, but inclusive means there is content for EVERYONE to enjoy depending on their game of choice- and things like sexy female characters or pointless violence are an enjoyable escape for millions of gamers- these things are here to stay.  So raising awareness of tropes in specific games is really only useful if you are a designer bent on innovation that you believe will have wide appeal while at the same time bring something new to the table.

Claiming the majority of games are blood thirsty, sexual, or perpetuate racism/classism/sexism only happens because admitting their findings are carefully cherry-picked wouldn’t turn any heads.

Fortunately the facts are in, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with gaming or gaming culture.  In fact with the advent of interactive entertainment we have been able to broaden minds, tastes, and experiences, and now that we are on the cusp of Augmented and Virtual Reality we can expect that to increase 1000 fold in the coming years.  So let’s hope the future is developers that continue to take risks and bring us ALL types of games for all types of gamers.

Video games more effective than medicine for treating depression:

Disproving the link between gaming and sexism:

Disproving the link between gaming and violence:

Video games have exploded in the last 30 years, and ALL types of violent crime have plummeted in that same time frame:

Future Proofing Game Characters

The debate on the depiction of male vs. female characters in games is loud, screechy, and depending on who you talk to either vital to the survival of our species or toxic and unnecessary.  I’m throwing my hat into the ring because I think our answer is self-evident.

First we need a game, so I’m going to make one up.  We’ll call it Fallcry.  Now Fallcry is your typical post-apocalyptic adventure game, where the player can choose a male or female avatar.  For this exercise we’ll say the developers abide by two basic convictions:

1) They aren’t trying to repair the real world order of social justice through the medium of video games.

2) They don’t want to build a game that makes some gamers feel unwelcome or excluded.

So here’s what they do.  In Fallcry you have complete control over your character’s body type to start with- if giant breasts are what you have to have, go for it.  If you want to make an obese male with long hair and short legs, more power to ya.  Then we have a cosmetic armor system- the armor you wear to protect and progress through the game can be visually replaced by more “costume” style clothing, ranging from leather g-strings to diving suits.  You keep the stats and powers of your original armor but precisely control how your character looks.  This allows you to make everything from pop diva impersonator to cross dressing male stripper, from navy seal bad girl to average joe in a suit, from sex-forward superheroine to hockey mask wearing freak.

As far as enemies in the game this same cosmetic costume system could be used to generate a staggering variety- depending on the story of the game, from rogue camps of leather wearing death strippers to grease monkey ninja pirates.

Naturally additional factors like plot, violence level, characterization and genre will appeal to some gamers and to others it won’t, but in Fallcry at least you won’t have a gamer pick up a copy and feel they can’t create an avatar they connect with.

The problem we have today is that no such game exists.  So what do we do until then?  Well boys and girls until then we are just going to have to settle for games with strong females like Lara Croft sitting on the shelf right next to a game featuring a big breasted bubble-gum chewer who kills zombies in a bikini.  We won’t find one game that satisfies every type of gamer, but if you look at the entire gaming landscape the variety is truly enormous- and there is something for everybody.

Thus when it comes to developing games it’s time for the dialogue to be about including ALL gamers, rather than shaming one group and excluding another.  And until that day comes, developers can learn to appreciate that females make up nearly 50% of gamers, so if your only character options are stripper-with-sword don’t expect a lot women to buy your game.  But as a developer expressing creative freedom, if you don’t mind losing the sales you shouldn’t be judged or labeled over it either.  The camp that would like to retroactively lecture developers and claim real world behavior is affected, or gender relations damaged by characters in video games, would do well to put in the research and settle in to the fact that there is no real data to support that position.  In fact there has never been a study or experiment that connects real world behavior to mass consumption of video games, and making such claims only serves to divide and enrage, which will never build a bridge or effect real change.

So when it comes to the future of games, tearing them down is a non-starter.  It’s time to start building.