Sunday, June 9, 2013

Borderlands 2 and the Damsel in Distress

The painting, Chivalry, by
Frank Dicksee, 1885
By Aaron Sherman

The "Tropes vs Women in Video Games project" has a new video up about the damsel in distress concept in video games. While I agree with some of what the video has to say, there's an awful lot of cherry-picking going on, here. The video specifically calls out one game that I've played through and it strikes me as odd that the one example that I have plenty of context for seems to fall apart when viewed in the larger context.

Before I get into that, though, let me cover the disclaimer in the video. The narrator explains that it's not sufficient for violence against a woman to have context in the storyline of a video game. That does not excuse the act. I'm inclined to generally agree. Instead, violence against any character in a video game stands on its own as a positive or negative (or, importantly, neutral) beat in the overall story, and that's how I want to look at Borderlands 2.

Borderlands 2 is introduced because of the character "Angel." Now, to be fair, there are spoilers ahead. Angel is introduced in the beginning of the story as a helpful AI who will guide the player to their destiny. I'm going to talk about what Angel actually is, so if you plan on playing the game, you might want to stop, here.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Dawkins is wrong: you can't defend science with circular reasoning

By Aaron Sherman

Prof. Dawkins is a brilliant man, but he tends to take shortcuts in his reasoning when he thinks his audience isn't up for the harder answers. Such was the case recently, when he was asked why we should have faith in the scientific method. His answer was a common bit of circular reasoning that you hear quite often in answer to this question, but it's not any less wrong because it was Dawkins who was saying it.

So, here's the general form of his defense: we know that the scientific method works because we have so many wonderful advances that we've been able to make because of it. We have cars and drugs and exotic new materials and we can see into tiny spaces and gaze at the universe around us. Science just works! (Dawkins humorously punctuates this with "bitches" which I did chuckle at).