Tamer: The Original Xbox Mascot?

November 30th, 2008

I was looking through some old media on my computer some time ago and I came across these images from back in 2000 when the Xbox was first released. These are images of the first Xbox mascot, put out the same time as the original press release first announcing the console. I can’t quite remember much about what was said about the this mascot lady; even after reading through those early press releases she isn’t mentioned. The images are named Tamer, so I guess that’s her name or the name of her robot companion. In anycase, it’s interesting to look back on these. I also included a picture of the original Xbox console design, which I wish they went through with.

x shaped xbox silver

tamer and robot xbox mascot

xbox female mascot

xbox mascot tamer and robot

Yeah I know, real posts will be coming as soon as I can get around to it. Which might be a while.

Plugging With The Lucky Country

November 26th, 2008

Australians aren’t particularly patriotic, well at least in comparison to our American or Chinese counterparts. Of course, we love our country, but I don’t think that many of us ever really go out of our way to proclaim our national pride. It’s not so much that we lack a cultural identity nor are we not proud of what that identity is, rather, not caring about trivial matters of patriotism is part of being Aussie. No worries, as we’d say.

Despite our casual nature on the topic, it goes without saying that we care and care deeply about our country. Being overseas, its surprising how conscious you become of your own culture and how you wear that culture on many varying levels. As such I’d like to incorporate a little of this thinking into my blog by promoting a few great Australian video game sources that I feel deserve a particular mention.

Good Game

Considering the ever increasing popularity of video games, it’s a little sad that there are still so few credible television programs covering the subject. Many of the shows I have seen, appear to adopt a “comin’ at ya!” approach to the subject matter, with superfluous amounts of advertising influences splashed around with great generosity. Quite sad indeed.

Good Game in this sense is respectable. The series is nearing the end of its fourth season and has been a great success story of video games coverage on TV done good and proper. While the show does have a light hearted feel to it, it does so in a positive nature that creates the right mood for the large variance of game players; both young and old.

good game

News and features are all done with an increasingly high investigative standard, with the content explained in a clear, logical manner. The way reviews are conducted is also interesting in that it often bounces back and forth between the opinions of the two presenters, adding a little bit more scope in the process.

Recently the program helped two aspiring Australian game developers land a job in the industry. The two candidates began as interns working with Infinite Interactive (the Puzzle Quest guys) to develop a new title for the company with a short time frame. Members from the Good Game community could also contribute ideas and content that were used to shape the game, with their own positions filed in the credits. That includes the games core premise, name, music and so forth. Such a project represents the high level of professionalism the show is continually striving for among all areas.

Screen Play

I should feel deeply ashamed that I’ve only been reading this blog for maybe a month now, particularly considering that it’s been around for the past couple of years. Run by Jason Hill of The Age, Screen Play looks at various happenings within the industry, particularly with an emphasis on those relevant in Australia. Many key topics, like Australian gaming events and the classifications are covered on a continual basis with fantastic consistency.

screen play blog

Perhaps the most praise-worthy segment of the blog is Your Turn, which provides anyone with the ability to write an entertaining article to submit content on the site. Many of the contributors range from a variety of ages and occupations and it is definitely a great way to nurture real critical thinking among the audience as well as increasing the general populace. At the end of each month, the writer of the best article is rewarded with a prize donated by publishers (such as a Playstation 3 console, in past months).

The community is perhaps the most significant part of the blog and it is handled with great respect. The overall approach to finding newsworthy content is similar to the MTV Multiplayer blog in that, what is posted is news and not recycled press straight from the inbox.

Zero Punctuation

There probably isn’t too much that I can say about this segment that you probably don’t know already. The producer of Zero Punctuation is infact English-born, Australian games journalist Ben Croshaw. Although much of the program is made with the intent of humour, I feel that Croshaw many times is able to very clearly showcase a strong understanding of how game design operates well and how so. So beyond the laughs there is some merit to be observed. In recent weeks I have noticed the numerous references put in for the Australian audience, which deserves to be mentioned.

The Convenience of Chinese Ethnicity in Games?

November 22nd, 2008

I remember a few years ago I was watching an interview with Jackie Chan, and one of his comments struck a chord with me. He mentioned that in movies, particularly western movies, the Asian guy never kisses the girl. That’s quite interesting isn’t it? Interesting because he is dead-on in that cultural archetypes and shape media. No one really wants an Asian guy to pash the lovely American actress now do they? Well at least not in western films.

That’s one good example of how culture affects media in the most subtle of ways, beyond the posh British waiter and clichéd American hero. Here is another, much similar to the last. What do all of these female video game characters have in common?

chinese video game characters
Ada Wong (Resident Evil), Lian Xing (Syphon Filter), EVA (Metal Gear Solid) and Chun-Li (Street Fighter)

That’s right they are all Chinese, well the good bits.

Obviously many attributes have been toned down, while others have been toned up to fit the appropriate audiences. I mean, skin is nice and white, the orientation of the eyes are relaxed, bust is increased and clothes are not particularly Chinese in style (even by contemporary Chinese fashion). These women (excluding Chun-Li) all seem like American born Chinese instead of native Chinese.

A question to you readers, do you think that these characters quantify as culturally authentic and not characters retooled for the western audience? Judging by their appearance, accent, behaviour and so forth. Furthermore, is this perhaps a responsible thing to do and what are the implications of it?

I will share my ideas in another post..well still deciding to respond or to leave it as food for thought. (Yes, that’s right dolling them out in desperation).