The Good and Bad of 2014 – AoG’s Year End Review
Holy crap! The new year is just around the corner. Where did the time go? While we look forward to the promising horizon ahead of us, let’s take a look at some of the best and worst things to happen in 2014.
The geek and nerd community is constantly inundated with neat stuff over which we get excited. Some are amazing while others induce several head and desk meetings. Fandom a fickle mistress, you just don’t know where it’s going to react to something. Perhaps by looking at our mistakes (and owning up to them) we can learn from them and make 2015 a decidedly better year than 2014. One can hope.
THE WORST MOMENTS OF 2014
Let’s face it, it hasn’t been a spectacular year for women. 2013 held so much promise when we had all those female heroines (Hunger Games, Tomb Raider, etc) take center stage and beat out their male competitors. Maybe the world of video games and movies were finally ready to give us spectacularly written female heroes. But something happened (in the geek community) that flipped the script on women, particularly in the video game industry.
The first major facepalm moment of the year in games happened at E3 2014. Ubisoft revealed gameplay footage of their then upcoming game, Assassin’s Creed Unity. Gamers didn’t take long to notice something was amiss — no playable female character. Previous installments of the franchise featured a choice to be a female character or a male character in the multiplayer function. With Unity, the multiplayer element has bled through the single-player story with a co-op mode. But where were all the lady assassins? Ubisoft addressed this question with the possible flimsiest answers we’ve ever heard — they “planned” to add female characters in co-op mode, but it ended being too expensive. What were they going to do, cut the main male character from the game? Plus, they already gave us Aveline in Liberation (which first released as a PS Vita game), WHAT MORE DO WE WANT?! I imagine mocking laughter every time I read their statements.
Other game developers called Ubisoft out of their bullshit, namely a Naughty Dog animator who used to work for Ubisoft on Assassin’s Creed III.
In my educated opinion, I would estimate this to be a day or two’s work. Not a replacement of 8000 animations. http://t.co/z4OZl3Sngl
— Jonathan Cooper (@GameAnim) June 11, 2014
On Unity’s launch day, we also discovered how extremely broken and glitchy the game was. Maybe animating people in general was just too hard for them… The floating eyeballs and skinless mouths unintentionally turned Unity into some sort of horror film a la The Invisible Man. Thanks for the nightmares, Ubisoft.
Then there’s the curb stomp of all controversies in the video game community: Gamergate. Agents of Geek has been decidedly quiet on this subject while it’s been happening, but we were all scratching our eyes out over the despicableness of it all. It all started with a public attack on game developer Zoe Quinn. Like most things involving the internet, the dispute quickly spiraled into a vortex of the worst kind of sexist comments and cyber bullying anyone has ever seen. Women and men alike sticking up for other women in the video games industry were met by virulent trolls who would abuse them and dox their personal information all over social media, mainly Twitter. Among the women who tried to speak out against the vitriol against female gamers/game developers were Felicia Day, Brianna Wu, and Anita Sarkeesian. All three were sent piles and piles of sexist death threats. Day was immediately doxxed after airing out her reasonable concerns about Gamergate. Wu had to flee from her own home because she received so many death threats. Sarkeesian had to cancel her speech at Utah State University because someone threatened to attack the school if she went through with her event. Meanwhile, former NFL punter Chris Kluwe posted a remarkably scathing attack on Gamergate and was met with…absolutely nothing.
I myself am still a little fuzzy on exactly what Gamergate is supposed to be about. Is it about ethics in game journalism? Is it about sexism in the video game industry? Or is it both? Whatever your belief, you can thank all of the sexist trolls who took over and muddled every nook and cranny of what could have been an overall noble topic of conversation. The video game community as a whole came under scrutiny by the mainstream media who only looked at the blatant abuse against women who just like video games. It not only damaged everyone’s outlook of video games, but now we’re left with the one big question still standing over our heads: Where do we go from here?
In Comic Book Land, there were waves upon waves of disapproval against the big two, DC Comics and Marvel. The one-two punch first delivered when geek women started to discover sexist graphic T-shirts in stores, mostly Wal-Mart. Seriously, who thought these were a good idea? It also didn’t help that some women (fans and non-fans of comic books) didn’t see a problem with the shirts’ remarks.
On Marvel’s side, alternate covers for the first new on-going Spider-Woman series were revealed last August. One cover, drawn by noted Italian comic book artist Milo Manara, depicted the hero in an impossibly provocative pose. This received a lot of negative criticism, even from us. Again, with all this “We (women) want to be included and respected too!” movement happening all over the geek world, one should have given pause to this particular cover. Right?
On the plus side, Marvel announced that a woman is inheriting the legendary hammer of the Nordic gods, Mjolnir, thus becoming the new Thor. The only painful things to come out of this announcement were all of the sexist and negative comments against this change. Speaking of change, an even larger group of fans hated that a black man was wearing a Stormtrooper uniform in the new Star Wars teaser. Black actor John Boyega took these comments and let them slide off his shoulder like a pro. I can go on and on about how the Empire no longer cloned Jango Fett exclusively, that they not only sought out other species but also recruited men and women to wear the Stormtrooper uniform… I could mention all of these things in great detail, but I’m just going to say, “Can’t we all just accept change, guys?”
And then there’s DashCon, the single-most disastrous and unorganized convention ever to pop up in the history of event planning.