REVIEW: “Hunting the Hacker”

Welcome to the last episode of this miniseries! Regardless of whether you’ve seen our prior episodes, we’ve learned plenty from doing this project, which we’ll be sure to apply to our next project. But first, let’s finish that final episode

FEMINIST PLAYTHROUGH

“HUMAN REVOLUTION” (2011)

 

CHAPTER #05

“HUNTING THE HACKER”

 

Hello, and welcome to the fifth and final episode of this miniseries.

The time has come to conclude our playthrough of “Human Revolution”.

We’ve had many positive things to say about this game.

By now, you know “Human Revolution” revolves around player choice.

Many games force you to play a sociopath, a la James Bond.

But “Human Revolution” is a role-playing game.

This means you have the freedom to define your role and actions.

Do you gun everyone down, spare your enemies, or negotiate with people?

Usually, the choice is yours.

If choice is a feminist pillar of gaming, then characterisation is another one.

Well, “Human Revolution” is known for its characterisation and world-building.

In most games, people are simply walking target practice.

Rarely do you have to think about any consequences for gunning them down.

But “Human Revolution” forces you to think before you kill.

The game does this by depicting its characters as believable human beings.

Many of them have personal lives, relationships or families.

Not many games encourage you to treat other people as people.

But “Human Revolution” forces you to do exactly that.

You have to consider the impact of your actions on others.

For studios, it’s more work than having cardboard cut-outs for characters.

But the payoff is a better experience, as evidenced by “Human Revolution”.

The third, final pillar is one we haven’t really discussed until now.

Nevertheless, this pillar is important.

It’s the depiction of characters you rarely see in gaming.

Or perhaps they are depicted, but often as mere stereotypes.

Most big-budget games are dominated by white, male characters.

“Human Revolution” opts for a more believable approach.

The game takes place in 2027.

The future depicted is one where ethnic integration has finally become reality.

Here in Hengsha, you can see not everyone in China is Chinese.

Plenty of Westerners and minorities live here too.

It’s a conscious decision on the part of the studio.

The future depicted is one where racism is less divisive than biotech.

No surprise, coming from a studio based in cosmopolitan, multicultural Montreal.

At the same time, the game is realistic about the realities of nationalism.

Here, we’re talking with Triad boss Tong Si Hung.

We want him to cut us into some business involving a wanted corporate hacker.

But our character is also a foreigner, from Detroit.

And Tong is averse to allowing a foreigner to benefit from Triad business.

Securing his help requires us to appeal to his baser instincts.

We must convince Tong of the economic merits of a partnership.

In a way, it’s a commentary on modern society.

Most nationals today work together because it’s good for business.

It’s the game’s way of showing how profit pays more than bigotry.

This is most obvious when you find the corporate hacker in Hengsha.

The hacker, Arie van Brugen, is a Dutchman living in China.

He also thinks our male character is a booty call.

Remember, China today is famously homophobic.

Thus, this is a commentary on China’s future.

Clearly, the developers believe China will someday become more diverse.

Heck, it might even stop criminalising gay people in the future.

Well, that wraps up this playthrough.

We’ve learned a lot from doing this miniseries.

We’ll break for a few weeks as we begin developing our next one.

Future projects will be closer to reviews, rather than playthroughs.

We think it’s a more practical format for analysing feminism in videogames.

Anyway, thanks for watching.

We’ll end with some footage of Adam Jensen sneaking by Chinese police.

With this series, we chose to cover Human Revolution chronologically, analysing the game as we progressed from the first chapter to the fifth. In retrospect, we now realise this wasn’t a good way to go about a feminist analysis – we were forced with each new video to recap events and insights in earlier videos, which left little time for truly substantive analysis. We would have liked delving more into the game’s negatives more than its positives, for instance. But we simply didn’t have enough time per video.

So for our upcoming miniseries on Mass Effect 3, we’ll instead analyse a different aspect of the game, such as gender visibility or player agency, in each video. This will eliminate the need to focus on plot, which we don’t really care for anyway – we’re more concerned with how videogames promote or negate inclusivity and intersectionality. Focusing on plot details would make more sense if we were analysing films, but games aren’t films, and so we’ve adjusted our review format accordingly.

We’ll need to break for a few weeks before starting our Mass Effect 3 miniseries, since the academic quarter just ended and we’re being forced to move offices. Still, we haven’t lost sight of our ultimate goal, which isn’t simply making feminist gaming videos. By summer, we want to open-source the tools we use to make these videos, so aspiring YouTubers can create content without dropping 1,000 USD on tools that aren’t even good. Our blue-sky vision is to grow a community of feminist gamers helping each other to make feminist content – given how women comprise over half of gamers but none of today’s major YouTubers, we have a civic duty to do something about it.

We’ll write a blog post on this topic next month – but in the meantime, thanks for riding with us!


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