Thoughts on: The Mae Young Classic Finals and Road to the Finals

Well, after eight episodes, we’re finally at the point where this all comes together into one big culmination of pro wrestling goodness: the finals of the Mae Young Classic are (as I’m writing this) upon us, and this will be my final observation piece on the event as a whole, save for possibly some sort of retrospective depending on who’s ultimately announced as having been signed by WWE in the wake of the finals and their respective fallout. Continue reading

Five Women’s Wrestlers Not in the Mae Young Classic Who Should’ve Been

With the Mae Young Classic drawing to a close later today, one thing I wanted to talk about before the final show isn’t the great field of competitors in the tournament, but the competitors not in the tournament. The thing is, while the WWE has been relatively interested in women’s wrestling as a thing to be given significant time on their shows for the past couple of years now, women’s wrestling as a thing to take seriously has been around for a lot longer than that, between the indies and other countries, and it’s worth noting that there are all sorts of stars who have come out of that environment, even if they might not be on WWE’s radar for… one reason or another. So, I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge a few talents who probably could have and, in an ideal world, should have been in the Mae Young Classic, but weren’t for… more than likely a few reasons. Continue reading

Thoughts on… the Mae Young Classic, Episodes 7-8

For the prior recap, click right here.

When last we left the tournament, we made it down to the final eight competitors, which means we’re getting down to the last six matches in this tournament, in the quarterfinals and the semi-finals. The finals proper are on Tuesday, which I’ll be happily commenting on as the night progresses over on Twitter if this sort of thing interests you, but for now, let’s look at the last two episodes of the Classic and how we get to what is a… fairly obvious main event for that show.

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Thoughts on… the Mae Young Classic, Episodes 5-6

For the prior episode’s review, click right here.

When last we left the tournament, we’d gone through the first sixteen matches, meaning we’re now into the thick of the tournament proper. The next two episodes are, sadly, still going to be based around the concept of “cram four matches into a single show,” that the prior set were, but we’re about to get into the really good stuff here, in theory, since most of the green workers have been eliminated from the tournament. Well, with a couple of exceptions…

Anyway, let’s get down to business. Continue reading

Thoughts on… the Mae Young Classic, Episodes 3-4

Welcome back to the second review of the Mae Young Classic, this time looking into Episodes 3 and 4. For those who missed the prior post, here’s a handy link.

When last we left the tournament, we’d gone through the first eight matches, and so far, eight competitors have moved on to the later episodes (specifically episodes 5 and 6, which we’ll get to later). This week focuses on the remaining eight matches to determine the other half of the quaterfinals competitors, and also features the debut of what is expected to be the one of the other can’t miss prospects to emerge from this tournament.

Let’s get down to business. Continue reading

Thoughts on… the Mae Young Classic, Episodes 1-2

Well, it’s been a while, so let’s ease back into things by talking about something I enjoy: serious women’s wrestling.

It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who knows me that I’m a fan of wrestling in general (since it’s become a running gag at this point that I use wrestling concepts to explain real world concepts, and no, that’s not a joke), but one thing I love is the concept of people taking women’s wrestling seriously in the US. I mean, as noted previously, I wrote a damn college paper on the subject (and got an A, so laugh all you want, shit was good), but even beyond that, it’s just really cool to see wrestling become more inclusive for a larger audience of people. I mean, it’s not a secret that wrestling is pre-determined at this point, and is less of an athletic competition than a complex choreography sequence; why not put in content that focuses on more than just 250-400lbs dudes beating the crap out of each other, right? Wrestling is basically live-action anime at this point, make it as diverse and colorful as you can.

As such, I’ve actively loved what the WWE has been doing in the past couple of years… conceptually, at least. I love the idea of the company actively attempting to make women’s wrestling into an actual business driver for their brand, and while there have been some definite missteps (putting Stephanie McMahon front-and-center as the advocate for the division, everything surrounding Bayley’s handling on the main roster), I love the reality that women have main evented WWE shows and Pay Per Views (or Special Events or whatever they’re called now), because that’s just awesome. So, as such, the idea of an entire women’s tournament, featuring signed and unsigned talent from around the world under the WWE’s banner, is an amazing idea, and it just so happens that the Mae Young Classic is exactly this thing.

Well… sort of, anyway.

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On multiplayer in Bloodborne, and why no one cares about your whining.

Okay, one more post about Bloodborne, for now.

Multiplayer in the Souls series has always been kind of an odd duck. It’s there, and it works, but it’s not the thing that attracts most people to the experience. The idea is certainly novel, in theory; your “world” is open to anyone from another world, be they hostile or helpful, and while you can choose to summon in helpful people whenever you wish, hostile invaders can enter whenever they wish and make your life hell. This has always been an evolving process, of course; in Demon’s Souls invaders could only invade you when you were “whole,” and killing you meant they could become whole, thus putting them at risk in turn, while in Dark Souls, invasion was simply a matter of being in human form, but there were also a whole lot of covenant options available to players who wanted to customize their invasions or even act as spirits of vengeance. Dark Souls 2 took this concept even further, creating covenants and entire zones where invasion was basically a thing that was always going to happen, though it also implemented a concept called “Soul Memory” which retained your total accumulated souls, thus limiting invasion options, which hasn’t been very popular with online players.

Bloodborne takes this a step further, by not only prompting the player at launch of the game if they even want to be online in the first place, but also by limiting the availability of invasions to specific set zones in the game (two “nightmare” zones and some Chalice dungeons), unless you’re summoning help (or invasions) in which case bets are off, which has players up in arms on various posting boards. The general argument seems to b, on the pro side, that the online in Bloodborne is not very good, due to the extensive limitations placed on it because of the “whining” of the “casuals”* and how it’s a huge cop-out and so on, and on the con side, that they’re fine with this, but would prefer alternate options. For the most part, this argument isn’t generally compelling to me, for various reasons, but I wasn’t really sure why I wasn’t really on-board for either side. The fact that I don’t particularly like the online component in Souls games makes sense as to why I didn’t care about the pro online side, but the anti-online side isn’t especially compelling either, frankly, because… well honestly, they don’t really understand the situation, I don’t think.

Let’s start with the pro online side, which can be summed up by the following completely real quote I extracted from GameFAQs that sums up a lot of the arguments in favor of the invasion system in one easily digested sentence:

“I want to be able to invade your game and halt your progress whether you wanted me there or not.”

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On ranking the Souls games, or, which one is YOUR favorite?

I spent a decent amount of time banging out a piece on why Bloodborne isn’t a perfect game over at Diehard GameFAN, during which I made the observation that yes, Bloodborne is probably the third best game in the Souls series*, without really offering any context for that observation. Since I don’t really know how I’d turn that into a full DHGF column, I thought I’d just explain the point here, for those who are interested in this thing. The basic concept isn’t hard to understand, obviously: taking Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls, Dark Souls 2**, and Bloodborne, order them from worst to best, and explain why they rank in those spots. It’s the why of that explanation that’s a bit more complicated, if only because people are going to rank their lists different ways for different reasons, which is the fun part (relative to your definition of fun). So, since I wrote three thousand plus words on why Bloodborne is essentially the third best game in the series, let’s take some time to explain how the other games stack up, and why.

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Random aside on Bayonetta

While I was looking into information for yesterday’s post, I kept coming across posts about Bayonetta, because that’s what happens when you search for stuff about female game characters, basically. The one thing that struck me as interesting was that, while a lot of people point out, possibly correctly, that Bayonetta as a character was designed for making boners, not everyone feels that way, and some women actually quite like her as a character. It’s a really interesting debate if you have the time to sit down and sift through it.

What caught my eye, though, was the insistence by a lot of people, including the folks at Platinum Games, that Bayonetta was originally designed by a woman. That intrigued me, mostly because no one was actually naming her or anything, so I was curious as to exactly who the designer was, and what might have informed her decisions on designing the character.

Well, it didn’t take too long to figure it out: she was designed by Mari Shimazaki.

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Why Redesigning Female Characters is Getting Old and Shitty

So a couple of weeks ago, the newest well-received redesign article popped up in the world, this time from a website called Svampriket, which looks like a Swedish Kotaku. The article, dubbed “Makeover Friday!” which I’ve helpfully linked in translated form, has been linked in a few places as a positive piece, with authors linking the piece and proclaiming the redesigns as a good thing, because of course they are. Interestingly, though, I discovered this thing not through the normal gaming rounds, but through a link that took me to “The Spideygirl Blog,” specifically a post discussing (among other things) this makeover, a recent character addition to Overwatch that came about due to fan objections to female designs, and some general discussions on why the writer thinks the recent discussions in general are kind of shitty. This sort of argument, as well as this one here which talks about why character agency is a stupid argument*, is nothing new, but what interested me was that the source was, by admission, a lesbian female, and the argument itself was less the typical “I LIKE BOOBS RAWR” we expect and more “People want to drag down sexy, large breasted women,” which is an… interesting approach to take, I’ll say that much**. The one thing I read within the post that I did like quite a bit, though, was this:

“This is my problem with the so called criticisms about female portrayals in video games. The people who love to complain about it seem to be inherently sex negative and puritanical. It isn’t so much that there are women who AREN’T busty and sexualized, it’s that there are women who are portrayed as such. And no matter what, apparently, those kinds of characters shouldn’t exist.”

I rather like that argument, actually, because it kind of undercuts a problem with the current discussions that are going on right now: even as someone who supports and fully believes in the idea that we need more equality in gaming, we’re going to solve that by motivating developers to make good characters, not by shaming them into putting pants on Lara Croft.

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