Oh boy, how do I start this article off? If you follow anything about gaming, these past few months have had the gaming industry, and gaming in general, in a huge political uproar between gender equality, ethics in gaming journalism, and a lot of other topics that have gotten people buzzing. I guess since I have stayed out of the way of all this up to this point, I should at least give my two cents on the overall set of topics. I do think there needs to be equality among genders and races, I do think there needs to be more variety and well-made characters for our video games and not just buff white guys, and I do think there needs to be some changes made to the overall gaming journalism scene to where there aren’t any shady or crummy situations popping up. As for the infamous Anita Sarkeesian, the woman behind the online series, Feminist Frequency, and her videos about women in video games, I think she has good intentions with the video series, but I feel like she is tackling the issues with women in gaming in the wrong way. I could go on about how she is picking apart elements, and completely disregarding other elements to make her point, but I feel like her opinions on the multiple gaming tropes are flawed. Do I think she needs to stop the video series? Of course not! I might disagree with her videos, but I am not like the brainless wastes of space that think sending her death threats and harassing her is the right thing to do. I just think she needs to allow worthwhile criticism and well-put together counter-arguments to sink in and maybe open her mind a little about how she is tackling the subject.
Now that we got that out of the way, how about we talk about this week’s Kickstarter Shout-out, Words are Power? I wanted to talk about this game not just because it fits in with what’s going on with gaming right now. Let’s dive right into Words Are Power.
The year is 1946 and you are a female reporter who has just gotten back from being a well-established war correspondent. However, once you get back, you find that something is amiss within Washington D.C. What could be happening in one of, if not, the most politically charged district in the U.S.A? Will you be able to unravel what is going on? Or will certain elements get in your way?
From what I have seen and read of Words Are Power, this is a story-driven puzzle game where you will play as this female news correspondent, and you will have control over what decisions you make throughout the game and what will determine the ending, which will, of course, hopefully mean many reasons to go back through the story over and over again. So, what kind of puzzles will you be solving? Ever play Scrabble? Well, that is how you are solving the puzzles! When you enter a puzzle sequence, you will be given multiple letters and words to put together that will help you progress through the story, uncover clues, and perform in special events. Other elements given to the player are different situations, like where you just caught a huge story, but your credibility might be in question and probably won’t make it on the front page. What do you do? Do you lose the writing credit and put a male reporter’s name under the article so it can get on the front page more easily? Or do you put your name on the article and risk it not getting on the front page? You decide how you tackle the news stories, and you see if you can solve the problems that are causing issues in Washington D.C. I am intrigued by this element of narrative-driven gameplay and the added element of Scrabble. However, how does the presentation look?
The art style definitely has its advantages that it takes place during the 1940s. It gives the game a look that isn’t seen a lot. I love the hand-painted art direction that the game is toting, but they also need to be careful that it doesn’t go full-on social game vibe, or else people will be turned off by it. The music sounds fitting, as it’s cool, calm, and jazzy. Unfortunately, they don’t put down who the composer is, and I don’t like that since I always want to give the composer credit for the music.
So, what problems or concerns do I have with this potential Kickstarter? Well, on the presentation side, I do hope this doesn’t become a full-on interactive novel where there is barely any animation to the characters. I might be slightly prejudiced towards interactive novels, since they always feel cheap and soulless to make. However, the biggest concern I have is how the main female protagonist will be portrayed. I hope she is a strong character, but I don’t think making her a Mary Sue-like character will help make her likable. I have seen many films and video games where the girl is written like she is the best thing ever, and it usually makes her a rather boring character. The developer will definitely need to find a way to balance out both the protagonist being strong and well-developed, but flawed at the same time. I also hope the story doesn’t turn into a scenario where every guy is a scumbag. I am all for feminism being about giving equal rights to women and I will fully support that, but what I don’t support is the practice of making every single male to be a waste of space or a total creep. I know it’s the 40s, and I know women were still not fully respected back then, but I just think this is a tricky subject to tackle. Being politically correct could result in a boring experience, and in the end, it shouldn’t lean fully on one side and alienate anyone. I hope they can tackle this correctly and make an overall enjoyable experience.
I do think this project has potential, and who doesn’t like a good game of Scrabble and word play? I just hope the themes that are being tackled here are not too one-sided and the experience is enjoyable. The game’s funding goal is $40K, and it is currently at over $5K in Canadian dollars. I am optimistic that people will not be turned off by this project due to the Scrabble-style gameplay, the almost social game-type art style, and the feminist themes. All I have to say about this is congrats to the developers! Words Are Power gets my official Kickstarter Shout-out!
(If you want to support this project, go to this link!)