On The Revolutionary Concept of Women Assassins – Charlotte Corday and Ubisoft

I read Ubisoft’s explanation as to why there would be no playable female characters in the next installment of Assassin’s Creed without surprise. I merely raised an eyebrow when I read a male commentator who refused to believe that women played anything other than facebook games and I didn’t blink when a male colleague of mine claimed that men never want to play female characters in video games. In fact I nearly let the fact that I’m so used to being told I have no place in this environment (other than healing my husband in games with cute graphics that obviously he only plays to indulge my childlike mind) stop me from saying anything on the topic. Then I realized just when Assassin’s Creed Unity is set ….

When I think of Assassins and the French Revolution, one person comes to mind. I studied the history of art at school and in particular we covered the French Neo-Classical style. It was through the work of Jacques-Louis David, I first came across the name of Charlotte Corday, the woman who assassinated Marat in his bath with a kitchen knife.

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Posthumously nicknamed l’ange de l’assassinat  by Alphonse de Lamartine she was guillotined for her politically motivated act. After her death, her corpse was checked to see whether or not she was a virgin because the authorities refused to believe that a woman would act like this without a man pulling her strings. Just like Joan of Arc before her, they wanted to write her off as unclean, as a cancer which could be controlled before it spread to infect good docile women. Just like Joan, however, she was found to be intact and the regime had to face the unpalatable truth that women can and do kill.

Interestingly enough, given the current debate she caught the imagination of male artists en masse. The painting above is by Paul  Baudry and the perspective is definitely on her, not Marat slumped in his bath with this papers. Does she look like a killer, no and it’s impressive that not a drop of splatter marrs her dress. Edvard Munch came up with a rather disturbing work on the subject in which Charlotte is naked and Jules Aviat has her hiding behind the curtain looking like a lamb to the slaughter. Then we have Jean Joseph Weerts’s focus on her arrest and other works of her being interrogated. There are paintings of her just after the act, paintings of her in jail and sketches and cartoons of her en-route to the guillotined. Perhaps it was the nature of the crime which thrilled them, a vulnerable and one assumes naked man in bath stabbed (or penetrated) by a woman in an age where such behaviour would be deemed unnatural. In some, like the above she is portrayed as the victim or as France herself (implied above by her proximity to the map of France and her shadow falling across it) and in others, she’s barely human.

I’m currently playing Wolfenstein and I have no issue whatsoever with the fact that my character looks like this:

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Character customization is not a thing in the game, killing people in many different ways yes, choosing what colour shirt to wear whilst doing so, no, Everyone who plays it will look the same and that’s fine, after all Blazkowicz and I have a history together. Do I need a female character to play a game, no anymore than I need a female protagonist to enjoy a book or a film but when a studio pushes the customization aspects of it’s game especially in cooperative mode, then I expect to be able to pick female if I want to.

That becomes especially true when I can’t help feeling that they’ve missed a trick. Would Marat have let a man into his house whilst he lay defenseless in a bath? Somehow I doubt it. It’s not about complaining that Ubisoft chose to make their main character in the story based aspect of the game male but that in this particular time period it would have been perfect to let an assassin called Charlotte loose on the people of Paris backed up by historical fact. Regardless of what the Ubisoft supporters say the French Revolution did involve debate about the role of women, did involve women who wanted to bear arms, who wanted the right to vote (which incidentally they didn’t get in France until 1944) and who, like Charlotte Cordray participated in the violence.

Wild nights – A Wildstar Decision is made

I’ve finally managed to make a decision and it looks as I will be testing the waters by trying out Wildstar. The reasons for this are three fold, first off I’m barely playing WoW at the moment and secondly it’s just so pretty, I can’t resist.

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The third or final straw was Rob Pardo’s dismissive comments on how diversity ruins fun and still annoyed,  I found myself randomly running around looking for things to kill. Somehow serendipitously I found the Torine Sisterhood and promptly fell in love. The backstory of Tresayne Toria in particular sounds interesting for the right reasons.

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They say everything happens for a reason and I guess it’s true. All that’s left is to decide whether or not I wish to play an Esper as I have been doing on the beta or to try something else. I know whatever I end up with, they will definitely be an explorer but can’t quite nail down class.

In terms of race, I think I might go Aurin again purely because it’s the closest the game comes to Elves plus I rather like being able to have wings for ears.

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Will it be a “forever” game, probably not. Mr Harpy has no interest whatsoever in playing and whilst I will have a lot more time on my hands come august onwards, I need to be self disciplined and do more than play games when I’m home alone.

Will it “pollute” this supposedly Warcraft blog? Most definitely.

Am I doing purely because there is player housing? Pretty much. I want a cute little mushroom house with details like these:

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I didn’t pre order and might wait until the end of June or possibly later before purchasing simply because I want to get the most out of my first month and that fits in better with my own schedule than starting straight away but I will definitely be dabbling.

 

Wildstar Wonderings

If Doctor Seuss made video games I imagine it would look much like this.

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I fully admit that I didn’t bother reading much if anything about Wildstar before diving in and so this is basically my own internal dialogue as to whether I wish to buy the game made external.

Plus points

I love the whimsy of the game. Exploring any virtual world has always ticked my boxes and Wildstar is no different there. Unlike recent WoW expansions too, it seems to favour wandering around looking at things rather than being forced into doing one quest at a time. It’s impossible not to smile when you shrink yourself to follow white vermin down rabbit holes and discover this:

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The detail is stunning, I’m findings things to ooh and aah over everywhere I turn. I like the puzzle aspect of the game too, it’s not as simple as walk to x and kill 10 of y because after all games should get you thinking. The fact that I can wander to a higher level area and still get the quests even if I promptly get splatted pleases me.

Rivers have currents and if you don’t swim, you’ll be pulled down stream. I’ve spent far too much time drifting along testing this particular feature.

Pink Sheep…. nothing else needs saying.

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Once I got the hang of the challenges I also found myself really enjoying them, especially the non killing ones (it turns out I’m a pro jumper) and yet, despite this I find myself questioning whether I wish to purchase the game.  In order to do it justice, my graphics card would definitely need upgrading especially as jerky computer games mean migraines for me but that’s not an issue as Mr Harpy points out, we’d need to do that soon anyway. I think his apathy towards the game doesn’t help but then, I know if I said I want to play this, he’d have no issue getting two copies and trying it out.

So what are my negatives.

I’m not sure of the combat side. Now, I picked a class purely at random and ended up as an Aurin Esper without really knowing what I was getting in too and I’ve no issues at all whilst leveling but I’m not sure I like those boxes the game draws on the floor.

The character creation screen lacks options I feel. I was really hoping for more hairstyles/colours plus body shapes and yes, I realise it’s a multi player game which already taxes a lot of people’s graphics but still. That said, I’m playing a blue haired bunny with a large behind.

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The whole cowboys and aliens vibe bothers me too. I suspect I’m a traditionalist in the sense that I like medieval-esque settings for games.

I think the whole housing aspect will swing it one way or another for me and now I just need to stop staring at the scenery and make it to the correct level for a piece of my own green and verdant land. Plus my bags are filling up with decorative items to put in a house and I can’t wait to see what they actually look like.

Liebster Love: Part 1

I got home from what could be best described as a bad day at work to discover I’ve been put forward for the Liebster Award by not one person but six. Much celebrating later it dawned on me that I needed to answer 66 questions and I eeked slightly.

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So rather than post a massive wall of text, I’ve decided to break this down into bite sized chunks. I’m doing to do this in a slightly different order to the list above in that I’m going to leap from 1# to 3#, leaving the answering of all my questions to part 2.

Without further ado I’d like to say a massive thank you to Velgana, Cymre, Amerence, Sofia, Mon and Chatmay who all nominated me. The answers to all 66 questions are coming I promise.

11 random facts about me

1. The humble tomato is one of my favourite things. I love them raw, cooked, roasted, puree’d, dehydrated, fried and in toasties.

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2. I like debating (many other people call this “arguing for the sake of arguing” ).

3. When I was a little girl my favourite My Little Pony was Applejack.

4. I have unruly hair. These days I keep it long so I can tie it back and pretend it’s not there. I also still look like I’m up to no good most of the time, unfortunately I wasn’t “blessed” with a poker face.

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5. I collect cookery books.

6. Frozen has managed to over take The Hunchback of Notre Dame as my favourite Disney Movie.

7. I can’t walk in high heels.

8. I love scary movies even if I have to watch them from behind the sofa.

9. I’d like to get a tattoo but can’t quite get past the idea of surrendering my skin to someone else’s control, especially with something which is so permanent. Although if I do manage to over come  that, I’d love a Firebird on my back, a feather trailing loose.

10. I give up chocolate for Lent every year. This is entirely due to my “fear” of my Mother as opposed to any religious reason.

11.  I have two large cardboard vampires folded up in a cupboard.

My Nominations are as follows:

(Yes I realise that’s not 11).

Questions

1. What’s your favourite line from a boss fight? Can be from any game with vocal boss mobs.

2. What’s your comfort food? The one dish which always makes you feel happy and safe when you sit down with it.

3. If you could only have one book, what would it be?

4. Create a battle pet/non-combat pet for the game of your choice. What would it be and does it already exist in your chosen game world in one form or another?

5. Dinosaurs or Sharks?

6. Favourite NPC in the game of your choice and why are they your favourite, what makes them special?

7. From a Lore perspective, what’s your favourite WoW race?

8. Do you play in silence or must you have music on? If the latter what sort of music makes up the soundtrack for your gaming?

9. PvP or PvE?

10. Best and worst quest in-game?

11. Ignoring WoW, what’s your favourite computer game?

I’ve tried to limit the WoW questions purely because I feel that they’ve already been asked by lots of people over the last few days and also because I’m totally nosy. Feel free to rebel and not bother answering, I promise I won’t get all sulky.

The answers to my own questions will be coming up soon.

Distracted

My leisure time is decidedly lacking at the moment and what few moments I do have are somewhat divided.

Reading

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My current reading list looks something like this. I’d definitely recommend Heavenly Bodies to anyone else fascinated by the skull beneath the skin, the illustrations alone are worth the price and from what I’ve read so far, it’s the left me with the nagging desire to go wandering across Europe visiting Catacombs.

Gaming

I am still playing WoW albeit with that numbness which comes with the doldrums before an expansion. It’s hard to focus on any one activity when you know that a massive change is en route, so I do a spot of pet battling or play an alt but there is no driving force behind my gaming at the moment. I want to tick more items off my to do list and of course level my little Warlock by wandering around exploring and questing but that’s an hour here and there.

Thanks to Ironyca, perhaps too much of my time is currently being taken by an evil little browser game.

I’m also still playing Candy Crush although my rules are still the same. No cash will be spent on the app and if I run out of lives, then I just have to wait. So far I’m at level 123 and it’s a great way of killing time whilst commuting.

Hearthstone

I got my Hearthsteed but I’m still dabbling.

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Although I have to admit I haven’t gone back to playing actual people since I won the mount, instead I’m having fun taking on the computer. That said though, I didn’t actually mind the “pvp” games either, it’s when people feel the need to emote that I get nervous. I love the art work, the cards themselves and their descriptions are amazing.

Dragon Age

Yep, I’m back playing my 10th Mage through her Harrowing and hopefully beyond. There is something addictive about that Mage Tower! This time the plan is seduce Leliana and make Anora marry Alistair but then that’s been the plan before. Usually one of two things happens, I either get distracted writing fan fiction and before I know it, my Mage has fallen head over heels for Alistair which never ends well or even worse, I get into a rut around Ostager and just make a new Mage. I could actually do the Harrowing in my sleep and I’ve been yelled at by the Knight Commander so many times, I’ve explored all the possible dialogue options without having to go back to previous saves. I’m not a hundred percent sure what this says about me, but I suspect it’s not particularly positive.

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I’d also forgotten just how pretty Dragon Age is, even Ostager looks beautiful.

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Possible Temptation – Games I’m fighting the urge to purchase or play

Wildstar

I haven’t pre-ordered but I’m definitely tempted to try the game. After all it has “tree-huggers”, which sounds close enough to Elves to work for me. I’ve read quite a few reviews and whilst I’m not sure it would hold my attention for long, it’s definitely struck a cord or two.

Windborne

I found this whilst browsing Steam and there is just something about it which draws me in. I’ve always loved sandbox games where you can just wander around building and exploring.

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At the moment I’m sewing together a cat cushion but have so many ideas of things I wish to try dotted around the house. Matty introduced me to this and I can’t resist to the temptation to turn it into a little lavender pillow or similar.

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I also found a book on salt dough when I visited the library last which brought back a lot of childhood memories so I’d like to give that ago sometime soon. Then of course, there is my Warcraft tarot cards to be finished, with the Worgen Harvest witch as the Hermit and of course Tyrande as the High Priestess.

I also need to assemble and find a place to put my Edward Gorey “Dracula” theatre. I picked this up years ago and it’s been sitting in a box just waiting for a home every since.

Finally I’m in the process of  re-organising my button shelf as I think it’s getting a bit out of control.

Essentially as with everything, there are far more things to do than there are hours in the day. That said, I’m always on the look out for new and shiny distractions, so feel free to make suggestions.

Thoughts on Hearthstone

I set out to download the open Beta with one thought in my head, to prove to myself that I didn’t see the point in a digital card game and that I would absolutely hate it and no doubt delete it five minutes after installing. Things didn’t quite work out as planned. I wouldn’t say I’m Hearthstone’s greatest fan, far from it in fact but I did enjoy playing it.

Positives

I love the boards to the point where I’m seriously tempted to pick my favourite and paint it onto the top of an old cupboard. I just can’t decide whether I should go Alliance Pride

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or celebrate the beauty of Pandaria.

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The tutorial was extremely handy for talking you through the basics (which I definitely needed) and I thought starting with the Mage deck and everyone’s favourite mage was a great touch although I would have preferred a few more female decks, Tyrande or Sylvanas for example or perhaps even Alleria since we’re heading back to Draenor soon.

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I might not have managed to beat Garrosh in-game but in Hearthstone….. he went down easy.

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Negatives

Why oh why is the Priest deck represented by Anduin? That boy is just bad news, look at what happened to his guardians for example, set on fire by Dragons before being turned into the Lich King and being beaten up by raid groups not only in the original game but also in Wrath and Cataclysm.

I might be doing it completely wrong but sometimes it’s just plain irritating especially when you’re at 10 crystals but keep pulling cards costing 1. The fact that a certain Druid keeps kicking my ass isn’t helping either. Healing for 8 really shouldn’t be allowed although I keep being told Fire Mages can’t beat Feral Druids at the moment any way so maybe I need to take him on with a deck which isn’t Jaina.

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Would I pay cold hard cash for Hearthstone? I don’t think so as it’s really not my cup of tea any more than say Diablo turned out to be but I’m glad I tried it and properly wasted a number of hours playing around smashing in faces.

Reaper

I’ve just upgraded my operating system to 8.1 and whilst I was flicking around to see what had changed, I discovered this little game. It’s frustrating in parts but adorable with quests, leveling and talents as well as a good little story line written with tongue firmly in cheek.

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When I first encountered these mobs, they all looked like the two sat on the ground but my thoughts of “ooh cute” lasted approximately 10 seconds, the time it took for them to launch into the air all claws and fangs.
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It’s been a while since I’ve bounced around in a 2d environment attempting to put all the flora and fauna I encounter to the sword and it’s been good to rediscover just how therapeutic this can be. Will I on reaching level 10 pull out my purse to upgrade the game to one of the three options available, right now I’m not sure but based on the 5 levels I’ve played so far, the answer is probably yes. I’ve always been one for anything which enables me to bounce around in the air spinning ever so slightly out of control slaughtering things.