Samus Aran, gaming’s first feminist icon?

5 March 2016

As the story goes, midway through development of the original #Metroid game, the developers asked a simple question…how would players react if it turned out that the main character (whose gender was completely obscured by a bulky power-suit) was a woman?10660123_1575903506059644_1961337099940014498_n

Well, it turns out that the answer was they were quite shocked. Shocked enough that the character of Samus Aran has probably generated more critical analysis in the past 30 years than almost any other video game character in history. In fact, the question of whether Samus is a feminist icon is one of the most hotly debated topics among the more academic video game writers out there.

At face value, Samus has been held up as a feminist icon and as a character that video game developers should aspire to when developing a female lead. In a male-dominated industry, Samus is strong, capable and able to defend herself and drive the story without needing a man to rescue her or provide the main impetus for the narrative. She also does it without generally feeling the need to flaunt her sexuality.

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PS4 review – Flower

13 February 2016

Flower by thatgamecompany is an example of what video games as a storytelling medium can really be. Eschewing traditional ‘in-your-face’ video game storytelling tropes, Flower uses a more subtle narrative style to arouse your emotions and prompt you to reflect not only on the state of the game’s world, but on the current state of the real world.Flower

By taking control of the wind, your one task is to blow a flower petal through a lush, wide open environment, collecting other flower petals as you explore a lush green meadow. The opening area consists of wide, green rolling hills and the feeling of freedom as you explore the environment is quite liberating.

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Gaming icons – Lara Croft

3 February 2016

As one of the most recognisable, and some would say controversial, characters in video games, Lara Croft stands as an icon in the industry.Lara croft

Debuting in 1996, Lara Croft was arguably the first video game characters promoted as a ‘sex symbol’ and is one of the few characters, male or female, to successfully enter the mainstream via big-budget films, crossover advertising campaigns, and fashion and news magazines.

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Gaming icons – Mario

28 January 2016

Debuting in 1981, Mario (or #SuperMario) is one of the most recognisable and enduring video game characters of all time; and with more than 210 million Mario series games sold around the world, he remains one of the world’s most popular video game characters.Mario

Created by #Nintendo‘s Shigeru Miyamoto as ‘Jumpman’ for the original Donkey Kong, Mario soon started appearing in his own games, beginning with Mario Bros in 1983. However, it was 1985’s Super Mario Bros that propelled him to super-stardom.

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Maybe you missed it…Platinum Sudoku

24 April 2009

platinumsudokucoverPlatinum Sudoku is the most complete Sudoku game I have ever played on the Nintendo DS.

It successfully borrows the excellent control scheme found in the Brain Training version of sudoku and combines it with a huge number of sudoku puzzles (20 million!), kakuro puzzles and some other highly entertaining mini-puzzles. The control scheme works like a charm and makes it a dream to play. The little mini-puzzles also add plenty to the package, with the pairs match game being especially fun. The kakuro puzzles are a welcome addition, providing a great alternative to the sudoku. There is even the option of making your own sudoku grids. The only negative is the lack of single card multiplayer.

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Living with a casual gamer

24 April 2009

casual-gamersCasual gamers are often accused of being the death of the video game industry. Most hardcore gamers are happy to believe our casual gaming friends are destroying real gaming by just buying any old crap that is put on the shelves. Merely mentioning the the name Carnival Games on video game message boards is enough to guarantee that someone will claim casual gamers will buy anything that features mini-games or has a Z at the end of its title. But is this necessarily true?

Well, my experience has so far shown me that this is completely inaccurate. In fact, I have found that casual gamers are far more difficult to please than any hardcore gamer will ever be. Getting a casual gamer to even try a game is difficult, but finding one that they enjoy is even harder.

How do I know this? Well, I live with a stereotypical casual gamer and it is almost impossible to find a game that she wants to play. For the sake of anonymity I shall call this person EB. EB is a 30 year old female (she still claims 21), who has her own DS and access to the household Wii. She plays games to relax, kill time and for mental stimulation. EB will only go into gaming shops/sections if I drag her in, kicking and screaming, and she has absolutely no interest in the gaming industry. All of her information about games comes from a game’s packaging, television advertising or from me. Despite all this, EB plays games on a daily basis, clocking up more hours in front of the DS than I manage on the DS and Wii combined.

While I can find any number of DS and Wii games that I know I will like, finding a game for EB can be frustratingly difficult. My game library is filled with plenty of games that I was sure EB would like, but sadly, it turned out that she just didn’t find them all that entertaining. The good news is that once EB finds a game that she likes, she will spend hundreds of hours playing it, to the point that hearing the music or sound effects again and again can drive me insane.

The Living with a Casual Gamer series will examine which games EB likes, and more importantly, the common elements that link these games together. Hopefully, it will help us harcore gamers understand the casual crowd a little more too and help anyone having trouble finding suitable games for the casual gamer in their lives.

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I made it on to Screen Play’s Your Turn

8 April 2009

A while back I wrote an article for Screen Play’s Your Turn section and it finally got published today.

It’s called Do not feed the fanboys and is about fanboys and how they are the lifeblood of the video game industry.

Head on over and check it out.

February US sales figures

21 March 2009

The latest sales NPD sales figures for the US have been released and as usual it is great news for Nintendo all round.


  • Wii 753 000
  • Nintendo DS 588 000
  • Xbox 360 391 000
  • PlayStation 3 276 000
  • PSP 199 000
  • PlayStation 2 131 000

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What’s wrong with…Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars?

21 March 2009


I just got Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars and I am not happy.

While I am enjoying the game, I am a little frustrated that, in  such a high profile game, there are technical glitches which cause freezes and game issues.

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Wii review – House of the Dead: OVERKILL

7 March 2009

houseofthedeadoverkillboxHouse of the Dead: OVERKILL manages to inject an abundance of new life into the on-rails shooter genre by investing heavily in a stylised grindhouse presentation. Rather than trying to reinvent the gameplay, developer Headstrong Games has taken the Quentin Tarrantino/Robert Rodriguez route and planted the House of the Dead story firmly into campy 70s horror territory. The result is one of the most refreshing, surprising and fun games to come out in a very long time.

Taking plenty of inspiration from Rodriguez’s Planet Terror, House of the Dead: OVERKILL serves up seven chapters of over the top zombie…sorry, mutant shooting action. Mixed into the plot are some of the most memorable supporting characters that have ever appeared in a video game, including a mad scientist, an incestuous prison warden, a hot stripper looking for revenge and a deranged crime lord. The lead characters are equally memorable. Agent G and Detective Isaac Washington play off against each other in true odd couple style during the many well made cut scenes. Their interplay can be quite entertaining and does a great job of endearing players to what could have been two quite anonymous lead characters. Washington in particular has some spectacularly funny lines, but he does often rely too much on swear words, which drags the quality of the script down.

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