Thursday, February 16, 2012

Oh Kotaku, I Thought You Changed

Well, no, I didn't think they really changed but it seemed that there were good changes going on as of late. Some of my friends and writers I admire have now written pieces for the site (or were even hired!). It seems a lot of good things will be coming to Kotaku in the future, although I still feel antsy keying in the URL.

Anyway, they posted "A Salute to Dani Bunten, a Transgender Video Gaming Pioneer" yesterday and I just about fell over. In case you don't know, Danielle Bunten Berry is most famous for having created M.U.L.E. She was such an important force in the industry that Will Wright even dedicated The Sims to her. Oh, she was also trans.

I think that would have been a fine way to talk about her. She was certainly not quiet about her transition (how could you be when you must have yourself out there with your gaming contemporaries?). But that doesn't mean you can make a gigantic production about the trans aspect and then barely discuss the impact of her life as a DEVELOPER/PROGRAMMER. This post is on a GAMING website after all, right? Oh, but this is Kotaku. Of course they're going to focus on the most "interesting" aspect of Dani - her transness.

The original post called Dani "he" up until discussion of her transitioning. Of course, APPARENTLY only having genital reassignment surgery (GRS) makes you a real man or woman. Although Stephen Totilo defended the use of "he" for pre-transition talk of Dani and "her" for post-transition, Luke Plunkett (the writer of the article) has since changed all instances of "he" into "she". I'm assuming Luke made this choice after seeing people blow up over the use of the wrong pronoun.

Dani passed away in the 90s and gaming lost a great visionary. And in a well-meaning post the headline image is Dani pre-transition. I would be happy to have people remember me after I am gone. I would also be happy to have people know that I was trans, because that helps show the world that we exist and are great people. But if someone posted a picture of me pre-transition, that wouldn't feel like I'm being honored. That would feel like drudging up the worst times of my life. Kotaku, you need to learn a thing or two before you post this stuff.

I may post a larger response to this for the site I write for. I'm not sure yet.

Update: Aside from changing all instances of the pronoun "he" to "she", Totilo is now searching for a "terrific 640x360 pic of Dani" for the headline image. Well, that's nice but a little too late. I find it surprising that like an hour after the Twitterverse was hammering him about this story, and he basically said it was all "valid word choice" that he is now changing his tune. He defended himself in that past hour all the way and never appeared to see the light of what people were trying to impart on him. Either someone else on his team made a choice, or he is just giving in because the side riled up against him is greater than he thought. His current statement is now "We never meant disrespect w/our Dani Bunten tribute. Tried to tell a clear story."

It wouldn't have been a hugely confusing story if you had female pronouns used to begin with. The title is still "transgender" pioneer after all, so people must have come into the article expecting it. That said, I still have an issue with a whole paragraph devoted to talk about her GRS. If Dani weren't trans, would there be a paragraph to talk about the genitals of any other game developer?

I hate how if someone is defined as trans that talk suddenly always MUST shift to the genitals. Trans people are still people. We are not some completely other or alien being. It is often considered disprespectful to ask questions about these private body parts with anyone, so why wouldn't it be the same with us? Dani did speak about her GRS before, yes, that's true, but I'm not sure if she would have wanted that to be the byline of her life.

Friday, February 10, 2012

I'm going to Nintendo's Rhythm Heaven Fever Party!

A lot of times I find myself a little sad when game parties/conventions/etc take place on the East Coast or even Northern California because that means I can't go to them. I may be a California native, but the unfortunate fact of the matter is that San Francisco is about 7 hours away from me. Anyway, I'm lucky this time around because Nintendo is hosting a pre-release Rhythm Heaven Fever celebration in LA. Now that's something I can go to!

As such, come tonight, that's exactly where I'll be. Don't really know what to expect though aside from the game being set up for us to play. Still, it'll probably be fun to mingle around with other rhythm gaming fans and grab some free snacks and shirts. It probably won't be as cool as Sonic Boom though which had a decently sized venue and live DJ.

If anything interesting is going on then I'll snap some pictures. I'm expecting it to mostly be a small event though so who knows. Might tweet a bit about it so if you're interested in that then follow @marcusboi. I hope everyone has a nice weekend and that Wii owners pick up RHF next week.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Good Gaming Start to the New Year

This year seems to be really good for game releases already! And no, I don't mean things like the upcoming Mass Effect 3 and all that jazz, although those certainly will be huge for fans. For me, this year has been off to a stunning start thanks to all the visual novels coming out!

First there was Katawa Shoujo which I adored and gobbled right up. Then there was Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom which will hit store shelves on Valentine's Day (my review available here). Now I'm fussing with Analogue: A Hate Story and that too is a great time. Finally, after getting in touch with JAST USA (a visual novel/dating sim localizer) thanks to Anne of ChicPixel I've got even more games waiting to greet me throughout the year.

I've enjoyed VNs for a while now, but never has it seemed like America was really ever in sync with them. Most of us don't seem to care for things that aren't "typical" games and it's such a shame. That's why I think those of us who do care about unusual titles should be sure to support them however possible. Despite getting a review copy of Hakuoki I'm still happily waiting to pick up the special edition once it's out.

So yes, I'm really happy with my January of gaming. I'm going to probably break for VNs for a bit once I finish up Analogue to play some of The Simpsons Arcade Game. How has your month been going gaming-wise? Is it equally as pleasant or are you perhaps waiting for an upcoming title?
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