The real OG

‘You are unique…just like everybody else.’

This simple statement is a pretty common oxymoron. While it is still true that there are no two people who are 100% identically the same, the fact that we are all different is one of the main things humanity has in common. So is there such a thing anymore as originality? No matter what we wear, how we act or what we create, there is a high chance that there is someone else out there in the world who is doing the exact same thing. But that doesn’t mean it’s all doom and gloom…

Is originality even a thing?

Everyone is shaped by their experiences: Everything that we come into contact with over our lives shapes us into the person and the personality that we become. Due to this, inspiration is everywhere and we may even be influenced by things that we aren’t even aware we have noticed. A newspaper article from 10 years ago could be the reason you want to draw pictures, in the same way that a loud car stereo blasting 80s pop driving past you may make you want to start writing. It could be near impossible to pinpoint the exact reasons why we are all the way we are, but it doesn’t stop the fact that we have all been influenced by something else, which was no doubt influenced by something before it and so on and so forth.

Image result for originality gifsFightclub breaking all the walls

So it possible to still be original? If everything we ever create is nothing more than a step up from something we have seen, can we even say that it is our own work? From a legal standpoint, intellectual property has guides in place to ensure that no work has been intentionally copied: As long as you can prove that you created a piece of work through your own thought processes and own design plans, chances are you’re going to be fine (obviously it’s a bit more succinct than this, but I don’t think I have the time to explain it all!). But on a more philosophical level, is it possible for any of us to claim that our brand new identity or our way of dress is an original one?

Subculture symmetry

Everyone knows the old troupe: In high school you have those who follow the norms of society, and then you have the odd little groups of people who do not.

Image result for mean girls group gifs Mean Girls showcased this perfectly…

From the sociological aspect, all of these little groups within society are known as ‘subcultures’ where everyone within that subculture shares the same norms and values. However, in today’s society these  subcultures can have very blurred cut off points within them. I, for example, would not necessarily fit into one subculture alone: I may be blonde, wear a lot of pink and love pop music, but I also love video games, superheros and reading science fiction novels…I also don’t think I’m a mean enough person to have been one of the Plastics, but I digress. Subcultures by nature always include some form of similarity: members tend to dress the same, talk the same and even believe the same things. Key examples of this are the 1980s Punk, the 2000s Goth and even now the emergence of the Seapunk. They all look the same as each other, but at least they’re not mainstream. In some ways, subcultures go against originality as the entire practice seems to try and place members of society into boxes. Is this why originality is so hard to come across? The use of labels?

So what does this mean?

Today’s society is a massively innovative one with common social norms being challenged everyday from every aspect of itself. Young people are leading the gender revolution, wanting to do away with normal sexuality labels and gender stereotypes and instead move to an inclusive and free state of simply just existing: love who you love, be whatever gender you decide, believe whatever it is you wish to believe…but know that you will be accepted purely on who you are rather than how you have been socialised and labelled. For some people, especially those in a creative setting, this can be a whole new challenge, as trying to be memorable in a world where everything merges together is not an easy task. but perhaps this is where we fail.

Moving forward…

Just because something has done before does not mean that it is not original or innovative. it is common knowledge that anyone can copy something: If i can’t draw, I’ll just trace a picture, if I can’t write songs, I’ll just mash a load together. Originality comes from the little bits of you that you add to it to make it better: Five Night’s at Freddy’s fans are another key example of this as while the games they make are not, by nature, original content, the stories they create, the character interactions they add and the overall game play of said games are enough to make the new games original enough to improve and add to the existing base. Everything may not be original, but if something is added to the original to progress the entire idea forward, then that alone should be enough to be original.

“Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.”

– C.S Lewis

T xx

Where are all the women?

I love video games, but I must admit that even I am fed up of not being able to play as a female character within games…especially the big blockbuster ones. Granted, in recent years video games have developed into more than just a male free-for-all in game play, with games such as Skyrim and Pokemon that allow you to customise the playable character to your own liking, and even games such as Overwatch and For Honour allow you to play as the female characters. But what about the big action games? In a sample of 669 action, shooter, and role-playing games selected in 2012, 45% provided the option of playing as a female, but only 4% had an exclusively female protagonist.

Why men?

For starters, video games historically were more directed at a male based audience: We all have the image of a ‘classic nerd’, with his glasses on, in his pants, playing a video game for hours at a time, stopping only to chug down an energy drink of choice and some form of processed food. Due to this, video games have been very stereotypical seen as a male dominated past time and as such will have the male leads in the game as the strapping, bad-ass hero, with women there more for the eye-candy than for their character development. This stereotype of ‘only boys play video games’ is most definitely not true in today’s society: A study by The Pew Research Center found that 48% of video game players were female, which shows that there is no longer a huge difference in gaming habits between the genders. However, it also found that only 6% of those women who played video games would define themselves as a ‘gamer’, compared to the 15% of men. perhaps this is why most video games are directed at men, because they are the self-professed ‘gamers’ within society whereas women only appear to play them for fun and leisure, rather than as a serious past time.

Damsel in distress

Mario and Zelda are two games that have basically formed their entire game play around this theory: beautiful girl is locked away somewhere, and our brave hero must go and rescue her. Now I understand the appeal…it can be a noble and brave act to rescue someone from a dire situation, and let’s be honest I’m sure most men love the idea of being a virtual Brave Knight…or a younger James Bond. I get it…that can be fun! But in many of these games the females are nothing more than a prize that the males have earned by facing all the challenges that they have done throughout the game i order to rescue her. I hope I am not alone in this feeling, but I would much rather play a game about the females story: She could fight her way back home while the male is still working out how to craft a stronger sword or which drain pipe leads to which platform.

Image result for link saves zelda gif

The Damaged Woman

In many ways, men in video games can go on the adventures they like because they simply WANT to do so, whereas with women it almost needs to be justified. There needs to be a REASON as to why they want to go on an adventure, or why they behave the way they do: Mia in Resident Evil VII was wielding chainsaws because she was possessed by a vengeful young girl (not entirely true, but there will be no spoilers from me!) who in turn, only possessed people because she was desperate for a family setting of her own. Evie (the little girl) was evil because she wanted a family, whereas the Bakers’ son Lucas was evil because…well he just was. Granted, this may have been part of the overall story, as the player is meant to play through the game learning about Evie’s back story and her life leading up to the Bakers’ household.

There were also debates surrounding the latest Tomb Raider game. Lara Croft is probably the most famous female video game hero, who handles guns better than Nathan Drake and can scale mountains and jungle terrain better than Ezio scales Italy. Yet in the latest game, released in 2013, there were issues surrounding her conflated character: She was built up to be against killing, yet in many circumstances she was shooting to kill. While there has been discussion as to the reality of this (you can play through the game with very little combat being encountered, as well as it being a story of survival for Lara) it raise the question as to why the developers didn’t do a Batman on it: In Arkham Asylum, Batman simply knocks the enemies unconscious rather than outright killing them. Perhaps Lara could have only shot people to disarm, rather than to kill? She may not be OK with killing, but seriously maiming is still an option.

Why do they not have clothes on???

All of the above issues aside, one thing I can never understand about females in video games is their very distinct lack of clothing! Women in video games always seem to be wearing very little: Lara Croft seems happy to traverse jungles in nothing but hot pants and a vest, while many of the ladies in Overwatch or Mortal Kombat just seem to wear lycra and some form of floaty cape. If any of you have ever tried to cosplay or fancy dress as your favourite video game character, you will have found that you are either wearing far too much clothing (Hello Mei!) or far, FAR too little (looking at you now Jade…). It seems that video game developers haven’t been able to bridge this gap between too much and too little: Women appear to be designed solely on their initial appearance and this is what we are to find attractive about them. Mei is adorable, in her super fluffy suit and quirky little glasses, whereas Jade is nothing but legs and boobs in a Princess Leia bikini who also happens to be a blood thirsty killer who can rip your head from your shoulders while you are impaled upon her metal staff. Am I the only one who would like to see a woman kicking butt in jeans and a hoodie?

Image result for mortal kombat jade gif

Jade from the Mortal Kombat Series (sans any actual clothing)

Final Thoughts

In the current society, it feels as though video game developers are too slow on the uptake: Yes there have been some seriously bad-ass women (Michonne in The Walking Dead, Ellie in The Last of Us) but for most of the big blockbuster films the women are nothing more than prized eye-candy or in need or rescuing from whatever evil ails them. Maybe once it would be nice to see the woman save the boy, or…dare I say it…save herself.

Image result for mei overwatch gif

Mei from Overwatch