IF Comp ’10 – Matt Wigdahl’s Aotearoa!November 15, 2010
I’m very slightly dreading posting this one, because it contains an opinion on political correctness. Therefore, because I never ever learn, I’m sharing the contentiousness with the RSS buffer.
See, I’m torn. On the one hand, I absolutely hate the mindset, so prevalent on the internet, that if you are offended by anything you are a whiny pussy bitch with sand in your vagina, particularly if the thing you are offended by is the casual misogyny inherent in the phrase “whiny pussy bitch with sand in your vagina.” It leads to an atmosphere where genuine hatred and intolerance are allowed to quietly coexist among people who are being ironic, people who are being funny, people who use the word “ghey” (may they burn in some special hell), and God forbid you stand up for yourself, or for someone else, or for civil rights.
On the other hand, sometimes I read things like this, and think “Wow, what manner of drugs got mixed into the sand in your vagina?” Are any interactions that an Asian person has with the color yellow inherently racist? Is it homophobic to have a gay character gathering firewood, because fagot once meant a bundle of sticks? When looking at something that might be construed as offensive, depending on interpretation, are we obligated to be offended every time or never offended at all?
What does framing things in terms of being offended and stopping there do for anybody anyway? It’s only the reaction you get on the surface when you feel things are wrong and unfair on a fundamental level. Instead of “I’m offended,” how about “Everyone is a human being deserving of, at the very least, basic human rights, and I’m going to try every way I can think of to communicate this to you and everyone else, on the off chance that I can convince just one more person of this, because my carbon footprint is huge, I don’t pay enough attention to where my clothes are made, and this is the only way I know of to maybe make the world a slightly better place.”
…well, that was a thing that just happened. Why am I standing on this soapbox? Where are my clothes?
[spoilers begin here]
Gosh! Tutorial and color keyword options! I think I will have both those things on, to see what the game looks like for IF newcomers, of course, not because I am a pussy. It will be so difficult, forgoing the thrill of setting the game to its highest difficulty and reducing it to ash with a single touch of my mighty phallic cerebrum, but you know me, always thinking of those IF newcomers. (Well, whenever I’m not thinking about smut.)
Oh, man, this is reminding me of books I used to read as a kid. (No, not smut.) The ones where a plucky young lad (girls could maybe be sidekicks, if they didn’t cry too much or flip out over insects — unfairly enough, the male comic relief character could flip out over any goddamn thing he wanted, fuck the patriarchy) got to go on Crazy Wild Science-Time Adventures. Those books were great.
The cliffs appear to be made of dark rock — probably volcanic, considering where you are. They look very sheer — you’re sure someone could climb them, but it probably takes all sorts of rock-climbing gear and training.
I bet my character from Blue Lacuna could do it.
Oh, man, shit hit the fan!
[You’ve encountered an animal that may figure significantly in the story! This story gives you the ability to name such animals with the command NAME FEMALE OVIRAPTOR BOOPSIE (or any other name of your choice). When you do this, the game will use your new name for the animal in descriptions, and you can use that name in your commands as well. Try it!]
Eeeeeeeeeeee! I’m going to name this one after Georgette Baxter. Why? Because hush your mouth.
Poachers? Those bastards! I’m not letting them take Georgette.
So naming this nanakia Maru. Hey, remember when, when you wanted to watch someone else’s cat do funny cat things, you had to go over to the home of your friend who owned a cat?
A large boulder stands out from the rest of the mixed rock and debris. It’s remarkable for being particularly round.
As is Maru.
One of the crevices is particularly large, and slopes down gently into the mass of cooled lava.
There are pumas in those crevices, you know. They used to give the railroad men such a hard time.
You can’t tell for sure, but there appears to be something wedged down inside it. You peer closer — it’s an egg!
Egg layin’ season, for them pumas. Ayup. Reckon.
There seems to be a “where did I last see that thing” feature! This game is super snazzy!
The failure messages and hinting are really well-done. I can imagine many games in which I did not just solve this getting-an-egg-out-of-a-crevice puzzle by myself. Let’s see how getting a battery away from a female oviraptor goes!
Ah. I’d been wondering how to get Ted to trail me back to Georgette’s place, but it looks like he really wants my GPS. Don’t rely on a GPS, Ted, or you’ll never learn where anything is!
I wish Eruera served as more of a hint function than he does, because I love when metagame stuff is handled in-world like that, but I feel like this is Tim’s chance to become more self-reliant and learn some important lessons, and being constantly talked through everything would take away from that. This game is excellent, by the way.
Man, these poachers are dicks.
As you continue, you hear a shout of rage, and then a horrible, high-pitched squeal of pain. Despite your desperation, you slow for a second and risk a quick glance behind you. No sign of Maru.
If you fuckers hurt Maru I will rip your balls off and shove them where your eyes used to be, unless I come up with something even more unpleasant. I am just saying.
FUCK YES I AM RIDING A DINOSAUR
See, here is something to bear in mind when you’re writing a game: what sort of expectations are you setting up? The player is going to regard many things in your game as little tiny promises, whether you meant to make them or not. If you give them a rope, you have promised them something to tie it to. If you go on about a monster, they will expect at least a glimpse. If your game takes place in a world where there are giant mecha and they fight each other, the player had damn well better get to pilot a mecha and fight another mecha, preferably one piloted by someone despicable. This, right here, riding on a dinosaur, is how you deliver on a promise.
That being said, how the fuck do I drive this thing? Wilma!
Oh, sweet, epilogue!
Man. That was just a really good game. No complaints. I believe we’ve got a ten.
Edited to add: I was thinking a little, in passing, about what Yoon Ha Lee refers to, awesomely enough, as the “what these people need is a honky” stereotype. Usually this makes me roll my eyes so hard (most recently in that Avatar movie; if you want me to be almost completely unable to identify with a character, the best thing you can do is make him an athletic straight male Marine), but I’m absolutely fine with this game’s protagonist being an American. Without the outsider perspective — if the protagonist had grown up around and was used to dinosaurs — this would have been an entirely different game. Personally, I don’t know how I would have felt if I were sitting there going “Whoa! Cool! Dinosaurs!” while the PC went “Yeah, yeah, dinosaurs, whatever. What’s your take on Cassavetes?”
The game doesn’t even fit the stereotype all that well, really. The poachers are Maori, not Evil White Men. Tim doesn’t learn a valuable lesson from the Wise Primitive Tribals about Respecting the Land and Our Animal Brethren, he’s respectful before he even gets there. He doesn’t particularly save them from anything, either… well, he takes out a single poacher camp, but it’s an adventure story, and he’s the hero. He’s supposed to do shit like that! Actually, come to think of it, the Wise Primitive Tribals don’t even exist in the game. These people have speedboats! Speedboats! Those pollute!
I guess what I’m trying to say is that this is a story about a kid who makes some new friends, overcomes some old fears, and goes on a fantastic adventure with freaking dinosaurs. No, he didn’t need to be American. This would have been the same story if he were from Iceland, or the Phillipines, or Hastings, or where the fuck ever. Yes, it would be awesome if not everybody had to be American all the time, or a dude, or, hey, heterosexual, for that matter. I just feel like it’s reactionary to penalize this particular game over the nationality of the PC, when that detail didn’t matter in the slightest.
Also, where does it say he’s white, you big racists? Black kids can’t ride dinosaurs? I bet you voted for Hitler.
Edited again to add: Man, I spent like ten minutes reading quotes from When Harry Met Sally, and I totally forgot to make the joke about how a male oviraptor and a female oviraptor can never be just friends, because the sex always gets in the way. Oh well. Maybe I’ll be able to work the days of the week underpants bit into something later.