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Do Tabletop Games Reflect the Same Gender Bias as Video Games?

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A playable character from the game Boss Monster

My brother and I have always loved games.  When we were young children, we used to put all of our board games together, forming one mega-board game that stretched across our family room.  When we were older, we discovered Magic: The Gathering, and the Pokemon trading card game.  My brother spent many weeks worth of allowances at the local hobby card shop.  I rarely did.  Even as I kid, I hated to part with money. Every now and then, he would participate in store-run tournaments.  I didn’t.  I didn’t think I was good enough, and interacting with the adult men who often played in them made me uncomfortable.

 

Anita Sarkeesian and the Gamergaters have brought sexism in video games to the forefront of public consciousness.  But what about tabletop games?  Both families of games have been pillars of nerd culture for decades.  They both shape the culture and are shaped by it, and this cross-pollination can make their influences very difficult to separate.  However, while the misogyny that pervades the video game industry often infects the tabletop world, it is less entrenched, and, as I argue, less insidious.

To understand why, we need to first look at the differences between the two media.  Tabletop gaming has been around in some form since before there were tables.  Ancient civilizations played with dice, cards, and boards.  Modern board games like Monopoly date to the early twentieth century.  Conversely, the technology that allows video games to exist has only been around for a few decades.  Video games started out being marketed to a diverse audience, but without thousands of years of history saying otherwise, it was relatively easy for advertisers in the 1980s and 90s to create the narrative that video games were always meant for boys and young men.

Historians now blame the great video game crash of 1983 on the ubiquity of low-quality games in the late 70s and early 80s, which lead to the loss of consumer confidence.  However, regardless of the crash’s actual cause, video game marketers in the 80s scrambled to reinvent their product, to portray it as something they could sell.  Their analytics showed them that more boys than girls were playing games, so the advertisers ran with it: they doubled down on selling video games to that particular demographic, hoping that targeted messaging would lead to better sales.  The strategy worked.  The gaming industry slowly began to recover from the crash, but there was a dark side to the recovery.

When corporations began marketing video games exclusively for boys, it lead developers to design games specifically to appeal to straight, male, and generally white players.  More and more games portrayed male power-fantasies.  Female characters were scarce, and tended not to be playable.  After all, why should developers bother with female playable characters if only males play video games?  Of the few women who did appear in the games of the 80s and 90s, the majority were either damsels to be rescued, background decorations designed for sex appeal, or some combination of both.

The unfortunate result is an entire generation of men who grew up never knowing a world where they weren’t at the center of video gaming.  An entirely new medium for storytelling grew up around them, becoming more and more mainstream, and the only stories being told were about them.  Stories are everything.  They are the basis for our personal and cultural identities.  It’s not surprising that those aggressively gendered games at least perpetuated a deeply misogynistic gaming culture.  We’re still struggling with this culture today.  Game companies created games that catered to male players, who went on to become developers who created more sexist games and hired people like themselves.

While tabletop games exhibit the same sorts of sexist tropes that proliferate across all media, they simply don’t have the same history of ingrained sexism that video games do.  It’s hard to imagine Milton Bradley suddenly deciding that Monopoly is for boys only and covering the game board with scantily clad women.  Board games have existed relatively unchanged for millennia.  Gendered board games do exist, of course, resulting from the same kind of targeted marketing that affected video games.  The difference is that the medium itself is not gendered, despite what The Big Bang Theory has to say about Dungeons and Dragons.

I believe there is another reason that sexism in video games is more pernicious than it is in tabletop games.  Tabletop games can certainly be sexist; in fact, nearly every sexist trope can be found in one MtG card art alone (I’m looking at you ‘evil demon seductress’ and ‘why’s the girl always got to play the cleric?’).  The same tropes can be found everywhere we tell stories, from books to movies to television and beyond.  What is it about video games that makes their sexist tropes so problematic?

The answer is found in the very nature of the medium.  Modern video games, with their high-res graphic and real time decision making are quite possibly the most immersive form of storytelling humanity has invented.  The written word can come close.  Books let readers see through characters’ eyes and experience their thoughts, but they are not interactive.  They don’t allow their audience to step into the characters’ shoes in the same way that games do.

Furthermore, games do something that no other medium can: they incentivize particular behaviors.  Gaming can work a lot like a chemical addiction. Taking an addictive drug or getting an achievement in a game can both cause the brain’s reward pathways to activate.  The brain then reprograms itself to repeat that outcome, resulting in a behavioral shift.  So, when video games incentivize, for example, violence against women, there is a real risk of players’ brains physically changing in ways that could result in violent behavior in the real world.  While all games have mechanics that could incentivize certain behaviors, video games are particularly worrisome because of their immersive nature and the misogynistic history of video game culture.  While paper and pencil RPGs also have mechanics, and are also very immersive, the difference is that when the game is unlinked from graphics and technology, the stories are more open ended, games are more adaptable, and customization options are nearly infinite.  Ultimately, with TTRPGs, the players, not the gaming companies, control the content.  An individual campaign may be sexist, but the medium of tabletop roleplaying does not, itself, encourage sexism.

Both the video- and tabletop-gaming industries have a lot of work to do when it comes to combating sexism.  The in-person nature of tabletop gaming competitions can unintentionally exclude women who would prefer to cloak their identity behind a digital avatar.  Sexist comments can be found in the chat-channels of even the safest of online gaming spaces.  Writers and developers can help by consciously hiring diverse employees and writing three-dimensional characters of all genders and backgrounds.  The rest of us can help by looking critically at the games we play, and inviting our female friends and family members to play with us.  It will be a difficult journey, especially where video games are concerned, but the view from the top will have been worth it.

 

References:

http://www.themarysue.com/sexism-at-magic-tournament/

http://vignette1.wikia.nocookie.net/bossmonster/images/c/c0/BMA006_Seducia.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20130211012442

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1154384/sexism-industry

http://www.polygon.com/features/2013/12/2/5143856/no-girls-allowed

Crash Course Games: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPqR2wOs8WI&list=PL8dPuuaLjXtPTrc_yg73RghJEOdobAplG

Feminist Frequency: https://feministfrequency.com/

Indie Developer Spotlight: Beneath Nexus

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Indie Developer Spotlight: Beneath Nexus

by Michael Wells

Disclosure: I am a backer of Beneath Nexus on Kickstarter. Also, while I have not worked on this specific project, I have been in discussion with Silverclutch Games to provide writing for a future project.

Silverclutch company logo

It’s time for another developer spotlight! This time around we’re talking about Silverclutch games about their upcoming release Beneath Nexus. We had a chance to talk to Tom and Chris from Silverclutch at Too Many Games in Oaks, PA (check out our convention impressions here and here) and now we’re pleased to feature them and their project on our site.

The Project:

Beneath Nexus game logo

From their website:

Beneath Nexus is a dungeon crawling card game for 4 to 6 players. Discover powerful treasures and unlock forgotten secrets in your quest to reclaim the city of Nexus. The Heroes combine their unique skills and powers to overcome the trials of The Blight Lord who uses fiendish monsters and dark magicks to destroy all who delve Beneath Nexus.

Beneath Nexus is a tabletop card game that offers an exciting roleplaying experience in a quickplay format. It is inspired by Dungeons and Dragons and other tabletop RPGs and aims to recreate the feel of those games using predetermined heroes with decks of unique abilities. One player takes on the traditional GM role and plays the Blight Lord, a boss character for the other players to take on. To do so, the other players choose heroes that are drawn from traditional role-playing class archetypes and must strategize how best to use their complimentary abilities to overcome the monsters and spells that the Blight Lord arrays against them.

Beneath Nexus is currently up on Kickstarter and has nearly reached 75% of their goal at time of this writing. Take a look and consider backing this exciting project.

Developer Interview:

I sent a few questions to Silverclutch Games and Chris took some time away from their Kickstarter and Convention schedule to respond.

What made you want to get into game development?

Tom and I have both played games since early childhood. Tom developed his passion for gaming when he was introduced to Magic: the Gathering in the 3rd grade. I played the classics with my father, and he was relentless. Instead of a healthy hobby, my passion for gaming lies more so in my hunger for revenge against my dad for absolutely decimating my brother and me for years in Risk, Stratego, Checkers, and Uno. We began gaming together when Tom joined my Pathfinder RPG group when we were in college. Both of us have always been curious about how games work and have been ready to criticize any game that comes our way. We ended up making games because we knew what we wanted to play and wanted to share those ideas with our friends.
How did Silverclutch Games get started?
Silverclutch Games is a product of my desire to own my own business and Tom’s desire to create awesome games. Tom was developing an introductory dungeon crawler for a handful of months when I approached him with the idea to start our own game design business. That was June of 2015. We incorporated in August, 2015, with the plan to create accessible, easy to learn games that engage the hobbyist gamer.

 

What were your inspirations for Beneath Nexus?
Tom and I are huge fans of D&D, Dungeonworld, etc. We play roleplaying games regularly, but many of our friends can’t be bothered with the hefty rulebook and long playtimes. That bums us out! Beneath Nexus was created so that new players and casual gamers can get a taste of the fantasy adventure genre without having to do homework in the meantime.
What about Beneath Nexus is most interesting/exciting to you as a designer?
We tried a lot of different things, mechanically, with Beneath Nexus. We wanted it to be easy to learn, quick to play, and interesting for both hobbyists and newbies, so we had to experiment with a bunch of different ideas. What excited me most about the process was translating player feedback into mechanical changes. A lot of hobbyists tested the game, so their comments were very direct and specific. The casual gamers that had much more general feedback were the most fun for me because the playtesting notes became a puzzle of vague notions after a few play throughs. Tom seemed most excited by the balance of the asymmetry of the game. Making sure the Blight Lord wasn’t too weak or too strong was a huge task when we incorporated it. Tom dug into it immediately and really shined there.
Hero- Lunja
I had the chance to play two games of Beneath Nexus at Too Many Games and was very impressed by how polished and balanced the game is. A great deal of obvious care went into the design of the heroes, their abilities, and the ways that they interact with each other. Using the whole party’s abilities in just the right way to overcome a challenge feels a bit like the moment in Magic: The Gathering when the cards in your deck line up and play just right for that devastating combo. Meanwhile, the Blight Lord’s abilities and Monsters keep players on their toes and can easily punish careless or reckless play. The game looks like it is rewarding for players on either side of the table.
The game is already available in a print and play format if you want to give it a go. I can’t wait for the physical game to be released. For more information about the game and Silverclutch Games, check out the Beneath Nexus Kickstarter and their website.

Free Game Spotlight: Neverwinter

neverwinter-title-image

Dev: Cryptic Studios
Pub: Perfect World
Original Release Date: June 20, 2013
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4

While Neverwinter has been available on the PC for three years, it came to consoles far more recently. With the Xbox One release last year and the PlayStation 4 release just last month, the Dungeons and Dragons MMORPG has blown up in popularity. All of a sudden, everyone was asking me if I play it and highly recommending it when my answer was no.

Well, I have played a little bit of it and, I have to say, it’s on par with hugely popular paid MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV. The best part is: it’s completely free!

Based on lore from the popular tabletop franchise Dungeons and DragonsNeverwinter takes place in the Forgotten Realms. Gamplay pulls from 4th edition D&D rules, which includes the use of dailies when it comes to spell casting and abilities. It may also be important to mention that this game is in no way linked to that awful Neverwinter Nights series from all those years ago.

In Neverwinter, you can be one of eight classes: wizard, cleric, fighter, ranger, paladin, warlock and rogue. You also have 12 races to choose from: Human, Drow, Dwarf, Half-Elf, Half-Orc, Hafling, Menzoberranzan Renegade (requires Hero of the North Add-on), Moon Elf (requires Knight of the Feywild Add-on), Sun Elf, Tiefling, Wood Elf and Dragonborn.

The story of the game takes place after the Gauntigrym novel, when the city of Neverwinter is plunged into chaos after the disappearance of the last Lord of Neverwinter. While the main game locations are based on the novels GauntigrymNeverwinter and Charon’s Claw, there is also the option for players to create whole new areas that may or may not conform to the lore. These areas are able to be played by other users, though there is a clear distinction between user-created and original content.

Neverwinter‘s reception in the gaming world has been mostly positive. With scores hovering around 74% positive, it’s most popular on the PlayStation 4.

The game can be found on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. It is completely free and and an absolute blast to play.

More Gamers are Noticing how Out of Touch the Mainstream Gaming Press is

 

TT_NotTheFandom

Whatever your opinion of the events and controversy in gaming has been over the last three years, it’s hard to deny that the mainstream gaming press (and some non-gaming press) has come out of it looking worse for wear.  Gawker, infamous for printing vapid articles and putting up a sex video from Hulk Hogan, lost 7 figures in advertising when a staff member thought he was being funny saying nerds deserve to be bullied.  Then Hogan came along and now Gawker, as well as all of their subsidiary media, is being auctioned off to pay for the lawsuit.  More readers are becoming disillusioned with the sites they read, whether it’s a site claiming PCs cannot record games, or how apparent it’s becoming that many people who write about games just aren’t that good at them, or don’t play them at all.  Should a reviewer have a passable skill at playing video games?  Well, authors are expected to have a pretty good understanding of literature to write, mechanics should be able to drive a car, and we do hope that someone telling us how to spend our money is at least competent in the related field.  Even Wikipedia has become questionable with its practice of determining reliable sites.

Probably one of the biggest indicators that the big games media has lost touch is with their reviews:  how many times have you seen a game rated a 9 or a 10 only to play it and find that it’s garbage?  Or a game the critics pan for one reason or another, only to discover a gem?  The latter isn’t as common, but take a look at the recent release, No Man’s Sky.  On Metacritic it’s holding a decent score from the media of 71 for PS4, while users are giving it a 4.9 failing score.  On Steam, as of this writing, it’s sitting at about 40% negative reviews out of almost 38,000 since its release just a few days ago and some of the positive reviews include food recipes and a thumbs up for the refund button working.  To make matters worse, it looks like Metacritic is getting flooded with fake perfect reviews of the game.

Even the new-wave of YouTube ‘journalism’ isn’t immune to the problems we’ve been seeing.  A big case recently was against Warner Brothers paying YouTubers to give positive reviews.  While Pewdiepie was named in the press release from the FTC, he was not actually one of the offenders though a lot of our high profile media outlets reported it that way.  EA has also been accused of paying for good reviews, and until recently guidelines haven’t been very clear.  With more focus on ethics, and the FTC taking a more solid stance on ads and disclosure, it’s now becoming a little more important that reviewers let us know when money or gifts are involved in the process.  In the case of Ubisoft giving reviewers free tablets, some refused, some disclosed, but some did not.  It has gotten better over the last couple of years, but it will be a long time before these outlets earn that trust back.

The Warner Bros case above brings to light another issue with our games media, and that’s in how they report the news.  It seems that  many of these sites would rather be the first to print a mistake than be the second to print the facts.  Whether it’s laziness, an agenda, or simply incompetence is often impossible to tell.  With Pewdiepie, they simply ran with the fact he was mentioned in the FTC release, but failed to verify if he did a review, or if he disclosed the fact it was a sponsored video.  A few minutes of searching, and maybe an email to the target of their articles could have saved them, and Pewdiepie, a lot of grief.  Worse can be when they print accusations that are unproven, and turn out to be untrue.  These accusations can often ruin a person’s career, or seriously impact them negatively.  Max Temkin, co-creator of Cards Against Humanity is one such case, falsely accused of rape, but our games media is quick to point out how he was wrong in defending himself the way he did.  Falsely accused… and he is in the wrong for how he responds.  Another case involved Brad Wardell of Stardock Games, again falsely accused of sexual harassment.  The law suit was eventually dropped, and the accuser apologized, but that didn’t stop the media from writing up so many articles that to this day people still think it was true.

Also, how often do we hear how awful gamers, and the gaming community are?  From our own media!  I know I’ve talked about this here, and elsewhere, many times so I won’t beat this horse too much.  This is just a huge pet peeve of mine and it needs to stop.  Yes, absolutely there is a small group of morons that say stupid things, usually directed at women.  They are not even close to being a big enough number to represent the gaming community.  Our games media is doing a wonderful job of building a false perception of gamers, just like the regular media, and religious nuts did back in the 80s and 90s.  I know, I was there.  Go to a convention, look around, do you see any haters?  I was at GenCon just a couple weeks ago and there were over 60k people there.  I didn’t once see anyone yelling about there being too many women, or minorities.  I didn’t see anyone being told they don’t belong, or forced out.  60k people!  If the gaming community was so full of hateful, neckbeard, shitlord misogynists you’d think I’d have seen at least one person acting that way.  You know what I saw?  I saw a beautiful group of geeks, from all walks of life, all genders, ages, colors and creeds sharing in what they love.

Our community is awesome!  The games media would have you believe there’s some majority movement to keep women from gaming, and whether they like it or not it’s simply not true.  I know too many women gamers to even remotely believe they’re being kept away.  If anything is keeping women from getting into gaming it’s the constant barrage of negative articles telling them how scary it is and how mean everyone is.  You know what’s making men more bitter than anything else?  The media telling everyone how awful we are.  Of course, geek guys are going to be a little weird around girls.  Most of us are introverts, and the rest are scared we’re going to be accused of something just for saying hi.  Look at the articles that spew just that sort of crap.  A guy said hi, wanted to talk about a game they were both playing, but “Stop hitting on me…”

Bottom line, the games media needs to be watched with both eyes open, and everything they print measured against several sources.  Even me, in all the places I write, don’t take for granted that I’m calling out fellow journalists for bad behavior.  Don’t take my word for anything, read as much as you can and make sure you get all the information.  I would never intentionally write something that’s false, and I do strive for ethical and unbiased reviews, but I might make a mistake, and I hope you’ll call me on it when I do.  Take those opinion articles with a grain of salt, and the news articles too.  Talk to your fellow gamers before listening to the media telling you what our community is like.  They’re doing a great job of dividing us, don’t let them.  We made this community great before we even had a games media, and we can keep making it better without them.  Let them know that we don’t need them and maybe, possibly, they’ll get the hint and start actually doing their jobs.

This Month in Gaming History: August

This Month in Gaming History: August

GamingHistory-Aug

August is a such a magical month. It is crammed full of the end of summer fun before school starts when we are children. It can be a lot of activity and fun. It can also be bittersweet for many people. Like the memories of summer that we cherish let us look back on some games that have been released in history in this month.

Magnavox Odyssey

Magnavox-Odyssey-Console-Set

On August 21, 1969 Ralph Baer Filed for a US Patent. That patient described playing games on  television which would later lead to part of the Magnavox Odyssey. Magnavox Odyssey was the first home game console. The box pictured above would be plugged into a television. The screen would turn black with three white dots that behaved depending on the game play.

Tombs and Treasure

TombsandTreasurebox

Tombs and Treasure was first released in Japan on August 3, 1988. Tombs and Treasure is a first-person puzzle solving game. At the start of the game, the player finds out that Professor Imes has gone missing with almost his whole team. The player then looks for clues to try to find the professor.

Ghouls ‘N Ghosts

256px-Ghouls_and_Ghosts_sales_flyer

Published by SEGA Enterprises, Ghouls ‘N Ghosts was released in Japan on August 3, 1989.It is an action platform game. The player controls a knight who must defeat undead creatures in order to bring back his beloved princess from the dead.

The Need for Speed

37297-Need_for_Speed,_The_-_Road_&_Track_Presents_[NTSC-U]-1

The Need For Speed was released for PlayStation on August 19, 1994. This game became very popular with multiple installments. It is a racing game where the player can choose different cars and tracks to race.

Hammerwatch

HAMMERWATCH

August 12, 2013 gave players a game called Hammerwatch on Steam. Hammerwatch features slash and hack gameplay. The player chooses from a class to play. The player then disposes of enemies throughout a castle.

So there are some games that have been released in days of August old. Hopefully something on this list has sparked a fond memory or will entice you to try a game that you haven’t played before.

I’m Harley Quinn and You Can Be Too

I’m Harley Quinn and You Can Be Too

I’ve loved Harley Quinn since she first popped up in my Batman cartoons as the insane goof who simply wanted to be loved. She had so much appeal for me and I couldn’t figure out why at first. I loved how open she was about her crazy, about her desires, wishes, wants. She was so open about who she was.

 

tumblr_nrg1h4YcRD1r5rk9to1_540Goddess forbid you piss her off. She was scary all by herself, but you didn’t know because she was almost always with the Joker. She was never her full self because of him. In Suicide Squad (BTW, I love you, Margot Robbie!), she dreamed of what she really wanted out of life: her family.  I clung to her more and more as I grew older because I realized that I wanted to be her; we were similar. Well, except for the murdering and the crime spree. It was touch and go with me for awhile, though.

While she was a therapist, I wanted to be a lawyer. Odd thing when you’re a teenager. I was told I wasn’t smart enough and those words stuck with me forever. Now, I have to convince myself that I’m not an idiot. I’m plenty smart enough and I would have made an amazing lawyer. That produced a negative spiral that I spent a long part of my life just accepting.

I’d find myself with significant others that I would adapt to; never being myself, being a version of me I thought they would want. In essence, I was putting them all in the Joker’s role. Some of them are great people who I’m still friends with; some of them were abusive. Some knew about my past and some where just contributing to it. That is all in the past now, but it still matters. I became more like the Harley I saw in the shows. (I am in NO WAY saying that the cartoon made me this way, so shut the fuck up. Yeah, you about to make a comment, go away. It’s a comparison, relax.)

Of course, Harleen was driven insane after making a poor choice in significant others (I’m mean, we’ve all been there). Putting someone down creates its own insanity. It magnifies depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts. It’s not the outward crazy that you see from Harley, but my mind feels like her so often. My thoughts, feelings and decisions all feel like they are swirling in this tornado of insane that would make me burst into fits of laughter because I had no tools to properly handle this.

acaf814305641c00772a4e97f56c63ebSo that was the person I grew into, until I met my husband Vel, my Poison Ivy. I met the person who told me it was okay to be me and he didn’t want me to be anyone else. So I waved good bye to my past, my very own Joker, and I took time and figured out who I was. Turns out, I’m still Harley Quinn. I’m still an obnoxiously loud, crazy, weird nerd. I’m getting more comfortable with showing people who I am.

(SIDE NOTE: I am not some Disney movie telling you that you need a significant other to make it all better, so fucking far from it. It’s just a weird anomaly that it worked out this way for me. Don’t go looking for someone to ‘fix you’ because he didn’t ‘fix me’ he allowed me to fix myself without the pressure of being ‘his ideal version of me.’ He created a safe space that I couldn’t find on my own. A support system is good, but that can also be found in the form of friends, family and trained professionals.)

I’m embracing the, ‘fuck you if you don’t like me, I’m awesome’ mentality. Holy shit is that hard to do. It’s hard to just rip off the masks you wear and say, ‘THIS IS WHO I AM!’ I’m trying and it’s terrifying, but also freeing. I’ll get there. I know it.

I have two points to this:

1) Harley Quinn evolved as a person. Fictional characters can do that. If a fictional character can do it, so can you.

2) Embrace who you are. It’s so exhausting being someone else and I promise there is no one out there like you. You are unique, special and wonderful. Let everyone see who you really are. Let them fall in love with that you.

I know you’re probably screaming, ‘IT ISN’T THAT EASY!’ No, no it isn’t. It’s taken me 10 years and I still have so much work to do, but you can get started. I promise, we will be right here waiting for you when you come out of your cocoon and spread those amazing wings and proudly say, ‘HERE I AM, BITCHES!’ We will clap for you and hug you and embrace you for who you are.

Until next time, stay vigilant.

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Kthxbai

Games to Get Excited About: August 2016

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Games to Get Excited About: August 2016

Welcome to August! Our scorching summer is wrapping up but there are still a few interesting titles coming our way. The fall rush of releases is just around the corner but here are a few promising games we’re looking forward to getting our hands on before the big name titles start releasing in September.

No Man’s Sky

no mans sky

It shouldn’t be any surprise to see this on our list, given that we previously wrote a spotlight about it. No Man’s Sky will be releasing August 9th on PS4 and August 12th on PC. The game promises a frankly ridiculous amount of space to explore along with an art style that is reminiscent of sci-fi art of the 60s and 70s. Think classic paperback covers come to life.

God Eater 2

god eater 2

The God Eater franchise belongs to the hunting action genre pioneered by the Monster Hunter Series. It trades the medieval fantasy setting of Monster Hunter for an anime-inspired post apocalypse and places a heavier emphasis on story than some of its peers in the genre. God Eater 2 continues the story of the first game and introduces new monsters, new customization options, and new ways to upgrade your gear. Don’t worry if you never got the chance to play the first game on the PSP. Buying the game for PS4 or PC will give you the updated remaster, God Eater Resurrection, for free so you can get caught up.

Abzû

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One of the best games to come to Sony’s PS3 was the meditative and surprising hit Journey. After that game was completed, a few members of its design team left that studio to form a new studio and begin work on what many are viewing as Journey‘s successor. Abzû puts players in the fins of a diver, exploring gorgeously rendered ocean environments and seeking answers to the game’s central mysteries. The game promises an extremely dynamic virtual eco-system and hopes are high that it will capture some of the magic and wonder of its predecessor.

Grow Up

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Grow Home surprised many with its robust and intuitive climbing system. Given its success, it should come as no surprise that the game is getting a sequel. Grow Up is releasing for PC, PS4, and XBox One, so whatever you game on, you’ll be able to take on a whole new world of climbing challenges and colorful surprises.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

deus ex

If No Man’s Sky is the epitome of techno-optimism in science-fiction, then you could probably make the case that the Deus Ex series sits at the other end of spectrum as a representation of the idea that progress can never truly save us. Following the events of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Mankind Divided continues to tell the story of cyborg Adam Jensen as he must attempt to navigate a murky future of conflicting loyalties and frightening advances in technology. Square Enix has promised to give fans of the series more of the action, stealth, and choice that they love, while also addressing criticism of the previous game such as lackluster story paths and poor boss fights.

This is just a taste of the games coming out this month. We’ll also be seeing the release of a new Madden game and Assetto Corso, if sports or racing are more your speed. As always, there are more Indie games releasing at any one time than we could ever hope to cover. Here’s hoping you have a great month and happy gaming!

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