340 meters per second

Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement.

&mdash Alfred Adler (1870-1937)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Big time sensuality.

He who distinguishes the true savor of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise.
~Henry David Thoreau

You know what makes me happy? Printemps Gourmet's Red-Hot Jalapeno Pepper Jelly. Delicately textured, with a how's-your-uncle afterbite that lingers on the back of the tongue long after the sweet foretaste has faded, it's best when paired with an aged cheddar or a peppercorn-goat cheese tartinade.

Their Caramelized Onion Confit is so decadent it kinda hurts, but it would be vastly improved by removing the raisins; wholly superfluous, they only detract from the taste anyway.

They also have a Hot Pepper Wine Dijon Mustard that I'm curious about, so if anyone's looking for a good stocking-stuffer...

* * *

From the "sounded like a good idea" department: a videogame centered around the infinite variety of female sexual responses. Sound kinky? It ain't. The story below goes into more detail and if you want, you can download a demo from the designer's site (the link is in the article).

While I applaud the intention and I'd definitely like to see this genre explored as an alternative to another entry in the embarrassingly sophmoric Leisure Suit Larry series of "sex" (and I use the term broadly) videogames, I couldn't help but be tremendously disappointed in the result.

Kelley makes some solid points, insisting that "there has to be a way to handle [sex] meaningfully and tastefully in games" and looking at "feminist science fiction such as Ursula K LeGuin, Joanna Russ, and Octavia Butler" (quoted from her web site). Those authors are some of my favourites and they've all produced powerful, nuanced and highly critical texts which could form the basis for a dynamic and truly progressive game. Instead we get a primer on female sexual response aimed at women. Ummm, ms. Kelley? Yeah, guess what -- women aren't the problem and they don't need to be "taught techniques of female sexual gratification."

(Oh, and FYI: that's pretty fucking condescending.)

For this kind of game -- definitely innovative in some ways -- to be successful as a pedagogical tool, it needs to be targeted at the people who need educating. I'll give you a hint: it ain't wimmin.

Furthermore (this is quoted from her site), she intended to:
  • Draw on play patterns already popular with females: Caretaking, such as in Tamagotchi, Nintendogs, Catz, Dogz;
  • Draw on play patterns and visual styles already popular with females: Adventure, exploration, such as in Myst, Animal Crossing, etc.
WTF? Holy stereotyping, Batman! Chicks dig stroking VR dogs and wandering leisurely through still-frame puzzle games so, y'know... let's do that. Is that how it is? Every woman I know who plays games has her own personal favourite FPS; for some, it's Quake, for others it's Counter-Strike or maybe even Tribes. Point is, they all like blowing their opponents into chum as much as any dude -- maybe more. Reducing their tastes to inoffensive sandbox wankery like Dogz is dumb and I expect more from someone like Heather Kelley, who's got wicked good credentials in game design and clearly knows her gaming shit.

And another thing -- what's up with Kelley's presentation? On her site, there's a summary of her presentation to the audience of the "Montreal Game Summit 2005" conference wherein she states: "The hope is that the game would entertain females - without them ever needing to understand the sex metaphor." Just how stupid do you think your audience is, exactly? There's a really condescending tone to the whole presentation that I find really, really worrisome. While I don't doubt that her knowledge of and experience with game design is substantial, she clearly has a really problematic approach to sex and pedagogy and the nebulous comingling of the two.

Video game offers primer on female orgasm

Older gamers targeted. Sultry adult theme meant to start conversations

SARAH STAPLES, CanWest News Service
Published: Monday, December 05, 2005

He may look like an innocent cartoon bunny, but the star of a new award-winning video game by a Montreal-based designer has sultry intentions.

Lapis, the blue-hued main character of a prototype video game by Heather Kelley, an award-winning designer with Ubisoft, wants to help women take a "magical pet adventure" to their "happy place."

The prototype teaches how to reach orgasm by simulating the affect of pleasurable sensation on the cartoon. Players tickle, touch, tap, and stroke Lapis using the touch screen of the Nintendo DS, a hand-held video game device. They can also talk, sing and blow on the bunny's fur using the device's built-in microphone.

The more they stimulate the bunny, the happier he becomes until eventually he begins flying through the air. But Lapis is also an unpredictable creature who needs a variety of sensations. Sometimes, no amount of stimulation is going to work.

"Sex is a perfectly natural part of the human experience and there has to be a way to handle it meaningfully and tastefully in games," Kelley said.

Kelley, 36, has helped design blockbuster titles ranging from Splinter Cell to Thief, and serves as chair of the "Women in game development" committee of the International Game Developers Association.

Her game, downloadable for free [here] offers "a stealthy primer" on female sexuality, and is meant primarily as a conversation piece to stimulate debate around the prevalence of sex in video games today, she said.

"It's not like (sex is) going away, either in the virtual or the real world."

With record numbers of women and older men becoming avid video gamers, and developers who make the games themselves maturing, sexuality in video games is slowly evolving from the days when the industry catered to an audience overwhelmingly made up of teenage boys.

While impossibly busty heroines wearing slinky outfits a la Lara Croft continue to dominate, the industry is showing signs of incorporating sexual depictions that are more complex and nuanced, and reflect "the full range of the human condition," said Jason Della Rocca, a games designer and the executive director of the International Game Developers Association.

"To date, we've explored more the violence, fear, conflict aspects, and we've not really engaged on stuff like social relationships, sex or love (in video games)," Della Rocca said. "What we're seeing now is a maturing of the industry."

The sex-themed game development competition that Kelley won was inspired by public outcry over the so-called "Hot Coffee Mod," a downloadable patch created by hackers and released online this summer that unlocked pornographic scenes hidden in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

The scenes were supposedly "extras" that were never meant to be revealed. But the ensuing controversy caused the game to be re-rated "adult only," prompting an expensive recall by the manufacturer.

The International Game Developers Association this fall created a committee on sex in gaming. And in future, the public should expect to see games that depict the full range from raunchiness to romance, Della Rocca said.

"Games are really a medium of artistic expression (that should be treated) like other forms of entertainment, literature, film or art."


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