The Dark Growing Within: Lore Speculation on Dark Souls 2 and the DLC (Spoilers)

Dark Souls’ final DLC is to come out a week from today, assuming no delays. The last of the three ‘Crown’ DLCs, it will deal with the Ivory King’s royal headpiece, and his wintery kingdom.

Warning: Spoilers ahead of varying degrees. If you haven’t beaten at least the core game, you might get spoiled.

Also, a lot of this info is supplemented by analysis by Youtube videos analyzing the Dark Souls Lore and providing interpretations. VaatiVidya is the one I use the most, but many other ones like Hellkite Drake and Silver Mont are interesting, as well. Credit where credit is due. Check them out and decide for yourself if their evaluations are correct.

Finally, lots of nerd speculation and fantheories in this blog post. It’s my blog, I can write what I want. Having a background in English Literature makes you obsess over meaningless interpretation like this, and I enjoy it. So take it for what it is.

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Gamergate, Game Journalism, and the Discussion that Needs to happen through the Rage

So, things seem to have come to a head in the field of gaming journalism, such as it is.

“Gamergate”, people challenging the integrity of video-game journalism and those in the field, people threatening female developers and advocates for better representation of women, transgendered people, and people of colour, developers and journalists expressing staggering contempt for ‘gamers’ as a whole and dismissing the movement as motivated by said misogyny and bigotry. The arguments have slipped straight into tinfoil hat(e) territory, with accusations of conspiracies and plotlines that would fit in the Young and the Restless if it were doing a crossover episode with the Big Bang Theory.

Perhaps this isn’t the best time to joke. The events regarding game journalism and the industry and the gamers that call themselves a part of it are up in the air and it’s unclear if any impact or change will be made (Penny Arcade’s creators seem to think it will amount to nothing). Historically, things don’t often change drastically, but I’m not certain this is so much about something actually changing, as it’s about long-stewing issues coming to a rather hateful head.

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Dark Souls and Why I Don’t think Magic is Overpowered

By Alexander Leach

I just got done playing Dark Souls 2 for review on CGMagazine. Should be in the print publication, as well as on their website. As you can tell, I really enjoyed it.

Full disclosure, though. I played a Sorcerer.

Normally, I wouldn’t think this would be a problem. I play magical classes in every single game, out of personal preference for the intellectual or spiritual figure who can manifest those qualities directly with energy blasts or other direct manipulations of reality. Dark Souls magic are thematically cool; the soul-energy of sorcery, the primal flames of pyromancy, the divine lightning of miracles, and the inviting, dark power of hexes are all well-represented and distinct, particularly in Dark Souls 2. With the effort they put into them, its somewhat troubling that people are dismissive of them.

Sorcery seems to have a series of detractors in Dark Souls 2, claiming that sorcery is for ‘babies’ and that magic is overpowered, negating the game’s famous difficulty. This isn’t new; the same attitudes arose in the first Dark Souls, as well. In the original, they had a point – magic made many of the bosses laughably easy, including the final boss. In the second game, however, I don’t believe that this is as much of a case.

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Torment: Tides of Numenera Kickstarter a Day from Closing

By Alexander Leach

There’s only one day left before the Torment: Tides of Numenera Kickstarter finishes.

It staggers me just how many of these video game Kickstarters greatly surpass the million mark – granted, this one was aiming for slightly lower than a mill, but double your goal is still impressive. The willingness for gamers, myself included, to give money to game developers in the hopes of producing better content is heartening, and somewhat concerning.

There’s certainly a lot of reasons for excitement. Monte Cook is involved, Tony Evans of NWN fame and Colin McColm, and Chris Avellone is confirmed as of the 3.5 million mark. People who worked on Planescape: Torment, and Neverwinter Nights: Mask of the Betrayer (an amazing story and game, far better than the core game) are working on this. Read the full post »

Damsel Decisive: Bioshock Infinite and Elizabeth as a Credible Agent

Elizabeth doesn't take too kindly strange Pinkerton agents falling through her ceiling. PHOTO COURTESY Irrational Games.

Elizabeth doesn’t take too kindly strange Pinkerton agents falling through her ceiling. PHOTO COURTESY Irrational Games.

By Alexander Leach

Bioshock Infinite has arrived.

Though it’s been a while, I did a blog post on the game, criticizing the portrayal of Elizabeth in the trailers. In them, and based on interviews with Levine and others, she’s portrayed as having exaggerated mannerisms and features designed to make the players want to protect her, coupled with an outfit that sexualizes her unnecessarily.

This issue’s come up in the foreground again thanks to Anita Sarkeesian’s much-criticized Feminist Frequency video on Damsels in Distress, discussing the trope. I can’t agree entirely with the video, since I don’t think it supports the conclusion it presents, it ignores the actual factors and problems its symptom of, and it doesn’t investigate the trope and why it’s so widely used beyond a very bare-bones historical summary (which should be critical if she’s asserting that it inherently objectifies women and represents a patriarchal oppression of feminine agency). Perhaps I’ll write about it in detail some other time, though given the controversy regarding response to her endeavor on her side and the other, it might be better to leave it. I will say that it’s something that needs to be discussed regardless of why you’re discussing it.

On the subject of Elizabeth, however, I was pleasantly surprised. Impressed, even, with how Irrational managed to take the traditional damsel plot and character, and invert it in a way that doesn’t feel like a blatant attempt at deconstruction. Better yet, I think she’s one of the better female characters in a video game outside of the protagonist model – something that the game industry isn’t known for.

Elizabeth isn’t an extended escort quest, in the vein of ICO or similar games (a game I’m not fond of, due to the focus on escorting a helpless waif through hordes of enemies). Elizabeth is not expressly in danger of being kidnapped during a firefight. In cut-scenes, she fights back when grabbed, punching and kicking, and using her ability to open Tears to escape capture. In fights, she’s immune to damage, and enemies largely ignore her.

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