Keyboard Geniuses is our weekly glance at a few intriguing, witty, or otherwise notable posts from the Gameological discussion threads. Comments have been excerpted and edited here for grammar, length, and/or clarity. You can follow the links to see the full threads.
The Final Girl
This week, Kyle Fowle wrote about the parallels between the women of ’70s slasher movies and the stars of some recent games. He, like film academic Carol Clover who coined the term “Final Girl” to describe these horror heroes, argued that it’s not the perfect step in the right direction for the representation of women in games, but it is a step. Merlin the Tuna echoed those sentiments:
I can imagine it being a foot in the door—think of how often we’ve heard the “Games with female protagonists don’t sell” line of late—but at the same time, it’s not a terribly good foot in the door. I’m reminded of The Cabin in the Woods’ explicit call-out of the Final Girl being the most traditionally “good” and virginal, whereas any interest in sex (or drugs, alcohol, or even loud music) marked a female character for death, often as the first one to die. It essentially says that women can play in our sandbox, but only if they still adhere to good old fashioned gender politics.
NakedSnake then pointed out that there are also virginal characters who get slaughtered in these flicks. Michael Thompson explained that there’s more to the weeding-out process than just killing off the more sexual characters:
For the most part, if you get into the backbone of most of the horror movies, it’s less about the sex and more about the responsibility. Laurie Strode of Halloween, for example, does her job. In fact, she not only does her job, she also picks up the extra responsibility of doing another person’s job so that person can go off and shirk her responsibilities. Unsurprisingly, within the context of the movie, that other person suffers a horrific punishment for her lapse in work ethic. Laurie is then rewarded for her idealized American work ethic by being able to successfully confront Michael Myers on several different occasions.
When Vorhees’ mother lays out her motivation at the end of Friday The 13th, almost everyone who listened to it glommed on to the sex the teenagers were having when her child drowned, so they believed the teenagers were being punished for the sex. But the reality is that the far more important part of her explanation is that “They weren’t watching my son.” Hence, in America, where refusing to work or fulfill your responsibilities is something to be punished, by shirking their jobs, the teenagers in question, (and by extension every teenager from that point forward by association) became worthy of their grisly fate.
Friday The 13th was a bit clumsier than Halloween in that it didn’t draw the clear distinctions between the “worthy” teenagers who did their jobs and fulfilled their responsibilities and the “unworthy” ones who shirked their responsibilities and didn’t do their jobs, but it’s still there—at least until the later installments of both series when each of the series lost its focus about what it was really supposed to be about.
There were two board game-based Inventories that ran together this week, one about TV shows that became board games and one about board games that became TV shows. In the comments of the latter article, MissBeaHaven shared a funny story from a game of Pictionary:
Playing a round of Pictionary once, I was the artist for my brother and my mom was the artist for my aunt. My mom looked at the word first and handed it off to me. I had a look and immediately became perplexed and confused as to what it was. I had no idea.
I asked “What happens if you don’t know what the word means?”, and my mother looked at me like I was insane. She’s like “You don’t know what that means???” as if it was the simplest thing in the world. I looked down again, studied it, and confirmed I didn’t know what the hell it meant. Mom called a private meeting away from the table, and she asked me what the problem was. “What the hell is a stome-ah-cha-chee? Is that some kind of Russian dance?” I asked.
I’ve never seen my mother look so incredulous and horrified in my life. She asked if I was kidding around, I swore I was not, and then she laughed in my face. “The word is STOMACH ACHE,” she said.
I looked at the card again, and felt like I had just deciphered it with the fucking Rosetta Stone. Still, I vehemently argued that it just looks weird as one word, and it should be two words. Stomachache? STOMACHACHE? It’s just weird looking!
It was hard to finish the round because we were both laughing so hard. Once it was over, my brother and aunt asked what the problem was. I said I thought it read “stome-ah-cha-chee,” and my brother immediately lost his shit. He laughed so hard he nearly barfed up a lung, and he has never let me live it down.
“Hey Bea, don’t put too many peppers in the sauce or else I’ll get a stome-ah-cha-chee.” “Hey Bea, you don’t look so hot. You got a stome-ah-cha-chee or something?”
He told that story to everyone who would listen, and so the jokes at my expense have spread through many in our extended family. At this point, that shit is gonna be on my tombstone.
And kthejoker shared a couple more:
Trivial Pursuit, ’80s Edition
Question (paraphrasing): “What Billboard #1 hit features a city boy born and raised in South Detroit?”
My cousin instantly recognizes the clue and begins singing the song, word for word. Now I don’t know if you haven’t listened to that song in awhile, but they don’t actually say the title of the song until the very end. So he just keeps singing, fudging some parts here and there, but otherwise he clearly knows this song.
And then he gets to the money part and … “I forget the rest.” The whole table of course justs busts out with the rest, and to this day we tease him whenever he’s frustrated (especially at his Dallas Cowboys) to “don’t stop believing—just hold on to that feeling.”
Also one time I took my finger off the checker and then put it back on and my daycare teacher’s assistant called me on it, and I denied it, and she had to be reprimanded for yelling at a child. “But he’s lying!” I still remember it to this day. I should probably find her on Facebook and apologize, it was very rude.
Elsewhere, Mail Ssinnigcm suggested another game for the TV-to-board-game list:
How about the Lost board game? It was awful.
You play as one of the characters from the show, and you have to try to capture all the other characters, for some reason. But for most, that’s impossible. Some of them have special alternate win conditions, but if you don’t draw one of those, you’ve got no hope—except the rules state that, at any time, the players of the game can decide on a new win condition. If everybody agrees, then it becomes official.
So the one game we played, we were going along, not getting anywhere at all, when someone activated the smoke monster. “Let’s all agree that if we kill the smoke monster before it kills us, we win,” we decided. This was looking tough, since none of us had any weapons. Two moves later, someone drew a card that let them kill anything they wanted, regardless of hit points, and we killed the smoke monster, put the game away, and never got it out again.
And in the comments of the game to TV Inventory, Mike_From_Chicago brought up the odd history of Milton Bradley’s The Game Of Life:
The Game Of Life has an interesting history. Milton Bradley introduced it as a Victorian morality game in the 1860s where the goal was to earn points for abstract concepts like “honor” and “happiness.” Then, they redesigned the game in the 1960s so that it was about money. Oh the ’60s.
This grabbed my attention, and I did some research on the subject. I came across this fantastic article about the original Life, then titled The Checkered Game Of Life (because, you see, the board design was based on a checker board), which includes big clear pictures of the board and everything.
Mike from Chicago’s mostly right. Milton Bradley positioned it as a “morality game,” but the materialistic bent was present from the beginning, even if it was slightly less apparent. The object of the game was to reach the “Happy Old Age” space after accumulating 50 points, which as Mike says were doled out on spaces like “Honor” and “Happiness.” Still, those two spaces were only worth five points each, whereas “Wealth” was worth 10. A “Fat Office” was also worth five points. “Matrimony,” though, wasn’t worth squat. Also of note: There was a suicide space (complete with drawing of a body hanging from a tree), and if you landed on there, you were out of the game entirely. Seriously, go give that article a read.
As always, thanks for reading and commenting. We’ll see you all next week.