Posts Tagged ‘video games’

Twilight: Full MMOn

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009


There’s a rumour going around, repeated on some news sites, that a Twilight MMO (massively multiplayer online game) is in development. Yes, a game in which you can immerse yourself in the thrilling setting of Forks, Washington, hailed as the logging capital of the world. At last, a game where kids can escape the dull trudge of small town life and all the petty stresses of high school by pretending to be high school students in a small town.

Oh, but with the addition of womb-nibbling throbbing Mormon psycho sparkle vampires. And teenage dogboys with great abs.

Exciting as this sounds, it seems that the story is a bit of a fraud. A game is being developed - but not by anyone with the rights to develop the game.

If you go to and click ‘enter’ (because there was always a possibility you might go to a website and not want to enter), you will be treated to a tremorous school flute recital that you cannot switch off, and some happy spew about how Twilight The Video Game will “allow players to immerse themselves into a depper form of storytelling and adventure”.

dogboyThe inappropriate abs of a 17-year-old.

Click on ‘Meet the Staff’, and you can read about Brandon, Bethany, Maile and Beth (all in the third person) and Steve, Gretchen and Christine (all in the first person). Apparently Steve is a “fierce friend” and was adopted as a baby; Bethany shows and grooms dogs; Maile designs packaging for snack foods (hey, I love snack foods); and Brandon regularly earns his place on the Dean’s list (which I assume is a good thing, but it sounds like ‘the naughty step’ to me). Click on the News page and you get… nothing! Click on the Links page and you get… the thrilling realisation that people still make websites with Links pages! Oh, GeoCities, how we miss you.

The stink of fancruft lingers over everything. There is no mention anywhere that author Stephanie Meyer or license-holders Summit Entertaiment are involved in any way. Further investigation reveals that this is a fan project that the creators intend to hand over to Summit for free, on the assumption that Summit will lap it up rather than, say, shut it down with a leaden and humourless cease-and-desist.

tillicumparkDefer your virtual gratification at Forks’  Tillicum Park.

As far as I know, it is the first fan-fiction video game. That in itself is slightly exciting - game-making technology is now so cheap and freely available that people actually can do this stuff in their garage, and while it may not be great today (I’m assuming), it could be great tomorrow. It is the continued democratisation of media. Hurray! And it’s being wasted on Twilight. Boo!

That said, I wish Brandon, Bethany et al luck with their endeavour. Working on the game will probably be a good learning experience for them all, and if they do succeed, well, think of the fun we can all have with a Twilight MMO. I expect the folks at 4chan will be first in line to get accounts.

And yes, the park in Forks, Washington, really is called ‘Tillicum Park’. No, no-one else seems to have noticed how hilarious this is.

The Pink Side of the Force

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

Homosexual! Gay! Lesbian!

“[T]hese are terms that do not exist in Star Wars”, according to Sean Dahlberg, message board moderator for the Star Wars game The Old Republic. These words were banned from the message boards, and conversations about characters’ sexuality were closed.

Cue kerfuffle.

And cue backtracking by the game’s publisher, BioWare. The closed threads have apparently been reopened and the offending words have been unbanned.


Now, I sort of understand where Mr Dahlberg was coming from here. Homosexuality is a modern concept. Same-sex relationships aren’t, but framing it specifically as ‘homosexuality’ is anachronistic, and after all, Star Wars did happen a very long time ago. (Or not at all, depending on your grip on reality.)

It is not unreasonable to suggest that people in the Star Wars universe had no concept of homosexuality, even though it’s been demonstrated in a couple of Star Wars licensed properties (including BioWare games) that same-sex relationships do exist in that universe. (Not in George Lucas’s own work, of course; he only has camp comedy characters.)

That said, there are other concepts that don’t exist in the Star Wars universe that seem perfectly acceptable to talk about on the same message boards. Like, for example, Star Wars. Or XBox. I suspect that, even within the game, people can probably get away with mentioning these things.

The question is, should players be able to identify themselves within the game as gay when gay people don’t exist in that setting? And the answer is; it’s a game, for God’s sake. It’s just a game. If someone wants to identify themselves as gay - or Asian, or Jewish - in a game that doesn’t recognise those concepts, it is not going to unravel the essential verité of an artificial world where people fight each other with lightsabers while communicating via keyboards and headsets.


One suspects that “these are terms that do not exist in Star Wars” was a bit of a figleaf explanation. Discomfort with homosexuality seems unusually prevalent in geek culture.

Back in 2006, games maker Blizzard booted a gay player group from World of Warcraft, leading to a similar outcry. They backtracked too. XBox Live recently caused problems by banning users who identified as gay, claiming that this was “sexual innuendo”. They later adjusted their position to say that they were trying to ban people who were using words like ‘gay’ perjoratively. Even that is a figleaf; a blanket ban that destroys the visibility of the group you’re claiming to protect is clearly not a sensible solution.

Sensitivity to gay issues in the gaming world may be some distance behind that of other entertainment media. In gaming, there may still be a widespread misconception of sexuality as a depravity, rather than as a valid part of a person’s identity that might form the basis of a sense of community.

Among the comments from gamers on one message board discussing the Old Republic incident were these gems:

“There will be children playing as well do you intend to flaunt your sexual preference in front of them?”

“I don’t mind the fact that someone’s gay, but whining about it every single time something doesn’t recognize gay people is just ridiculous.”

“Does homosexuality seriously have to infiltrate every facet of life until they force it in your face and make you accept it? And if you don’t really care for it, you’re called homophobic and a bigot. It’s REALLY getting annoying.”

Uh-huh. I can only imagine how annoyed you are, you poor dear.