Here’s an article I never thought I’d write. Recently it was announced that Claire “Lightning” Farron would become a spokesperson for the fashion brand Louis Vuitton, sparking exactly the kind of comments I’ve grown to expect by now. It’s no secret that Final Fantasy XIII is not widely popular, especially since nearly every recent article that even mentions Final Fantasy feels a need to restate that fact. Whether it’s coverage of Final Fantasy XV and the predictable use of “return to form” and related terms, or on the recent PC ports of the FFXIII trilogy where commentators openly ask what the point of them is. I’m being defensive, but it’s frustrating to see a series that means the world to me so often, and easily dismissed. However, this endorsement deal is actually pretty interesting, and here’s why: It makes a bizarre amount of sense.
It’s the final days of 02015, and I’m reminded of the sheer number of RPGs which came out. The Witcher 3, Fallout 4, Pillars of Eternity, Xenoblade Chronicles X, to name a few. On top of that, games like Bloodborne included RPG elements, including the ability to customize your hunter, even if explicit roleplaying wasn’t its focus. But what this means is that for a large portion of 02015, I spent time existing in virtual and imaginative spaces playing characters largely of my own creation, and while The Witcher 3 gave me a wholly different experience as I played as Geralt, I’ve come to value the ability to create my character a great deal, even if they are largely silent (as in Bloodborne). This isn’t new, customization is a well-enjoyed feature for millions, but there’s certain elements which I’ve come to adore.
Very recently I had to prepare for a formal event with a very strict dress code. I was told I’d have to wear a proper shirt and pants, and cut my hair. Past that, I’d have to shave my beard, and above all- learn how to bow, which is a shame because I have curtsying down. But the strange thing was, what should have been a nightmare for a post-op trans woman, was actually a lot of fun. Such is the nature of virtual worlds and roleplay, and such is the reality of playing Geralt of Rivia in CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher 3. A massive open-world RPG where you not only play a man, but your status as such has a plethora of gameplay consequences. It made me reflect on how, and in which context I’m comfortable roleplaying, and on the discussion surrounding the ability to play as your gender.
Resonance Frequency exists because of the power of media, but it hasn’t been until recently that I’ve begun to realize that the power of media is narrative. Everything I’ve examined, from BDSM theory and the psychology behind it, to why ensemble casts are so prevalent, is connected by the common thread of narrative. In the past few days, I’ve stumbled on a TED talk about the danger of the single story, and seen the response to Vanity Fair’s cover with Caitlyn Jenner. I’ve also finished a novel, which was not intended to, but ended up drawing on so many stories I’ve experienced within the past decade. But it wasn’t until I was asked to read a part of my novel, and asked why, that I was told the person asking me values it as a counter-narrative. It wasn’t until then that I realized the true power of narrative.
We’ve hit mid-December and thus the ‘X of the Year’ lists are starting to trickle out. It’s likely you’ve asked and/ or will be asked “What’s your favourite X of the year?”, and after some thought you’ll give a top three or so. Games in particular seem to be the medium of choice for these sorts of questions, or at least the most visible to me. At which point point things start to get a little weird, and in more ways than one. I understand why these lists are made: as December is when we remember January-August happened, and like to look back at that far away time fondly. However these lists are made hastily, premature, and marketed in an absurd fashion. It’s not so much that I have a problem with these lists, but more that they’re a curiosity to me.
I recently had a good chat with a friend about how #GamerGate has forced those targeted to put aside their differences and present a united front against abuse. I have the utmost respect for this person and wish her well, even if our politics have drifted apart in some respects. I say this because today I published an article discussing BDSM in Kill la Kill, and mentioned I wanted to critique radical feminism, of which some friends are proponents of. However, after we talked last night and when I woke up to the news this morning I decided I will not write that article. Whatever my criticisms of radical feminism, now more than ever it’s important to underline the importance of discourse.
Frozen runs in the same vein as Doctor Who in that I only got around to seeing it after I saw it referenced in about a dozen different discussions. Already widely acclaimed, I feel painfully late to the party. Doesn’t matter though, I’m still discussing it. In the spirit of this project, I want to touch on why it struck such a chord with me. From its quirky story, to its portrayal of sisterhood, to why I wept during ‘Let It Go’. Complete with momentary tangents I feel like indulging as I write.
Resonance Frequency exists because of the power of myth. It exists to analyze, discuss, and express my thoughts and feelings on the stories/ myths which have power in my life. The power to guide, inform, shape, and/ or challenge my view of the world. Resonance Frequency also exists because I’m terrified to see the strongest, most resonant signals, become increasingly lost in the static of the modern world. This blog/ project is therapy for me, a way to tune into what I love and engage with it as I struggle to navigate the world at large. To figure out why we love what we love, celebrate it. All of this, in the face of a society increasingly mired in signal and noise, in an effort to preserve a piece of this. The guiding lights, in a sky that has become so bright that I can no longer see the stars.
So much has been written on Deus Ex: Human Revolution already that I don’t want to reiterate what has already been said. However, there is something which struck me while I was playing Human Revolution which hasn’t gotten enough attention. It happened as I was walking through the convention hall in Detroit on my way to confront Taggart. This man was giving a speech about the dangers of trans-humanism at a time when a growing subset of the general population had become augmented. There was a woman in the lobby yelling to all that would listen that being augmented is a beautiful thing, that it’s nothing to fear and even this might be a natural part of us. In that moment, I realized that Human Revolution is not a narrative about trans-humanism. It is about how society deals with change.
I was browsing through some files and found a few articles that I had written but never published, all on game design. I do think that understanding Ludonarrative Design is important, especially as the ‘gaming’ (I hate that term, but we have no catchier name yet) medium evolves. ‘Ludonarrative’ is a term that entered the medium’s common nomenclature around 2012, and likely if you have any interest in games you’ve heard it. If you’re not quite sure what it means, or why it’s significant, here’s a primer/ crash course. Besides, I like writing about this stuff, and it’s on media so fuck it, why not?