Ultimate Utopia, Indeed

Ultimate Utopia...?
When Squaresoft meets fans with video skills you get… Ultimate Utopia…?

So, OS.CB reader darth sidhe pointed me in the direction of a fan-made flash movie of a live action RPG. It’s actually a pretty well done production and many parts of it I was nodding my head and saying, “Yep, that always happens to me!” Now, let me make it clear right off the bat: I liked this movie. I thought it was a fun, funny, and well-done piece.

But I am nothing if not a feminist interested in the intersection of gender and video games, and so it logically follows that when watching this, even through my enjoyment, I spotted areas that were problematic in terms of gender representation (the racial representation didn’t sit right with me, either, but that’s not really my area of expertise). And me, being the obsessive blogger I am (packing for Japan? taking care of last minute arrangements for school? never!), wanted to blog on it. So, watch the flash movie then come back and read what I have to say about it (I command thee!).

I. The Making of a Utopia

I find the choice of name (“Ultimate Utopia”) to be rather interesting. I don’t know if it’s based off of a name of a game that Square released, or if it was just randomly pulled out of a hat of “likely names for a Square game”. Either, or neither, is possible. But, especially given the discussion on what makes up a utopia over at Ragnell’s place, I have to say naming it as they did makes me wonder if the creators thought about what the title might convey to watchers – especially given the obvious hierarchies inherent in the game/movie.

On the one hand, it could be said that the adventurers are seeking out said Utopia. That the world they live in – the world we see them in – is one without safety, without equality, and with every object you pick up having the possibility of drawing you into a nasty battle. On the other hand, it’s also possible that the world is supposed to represent an “ultimate utopia” for gamers – haven’t we all wished at one point or another to be part of a video game? In that case, the kind of “utopia” conveyed to the watcher is actually rather disturbing; it is a world where might makes right, where strict gender and race castes are observed, and where danger lurks around every corner.

II. You’re the Character Now, Man

Character Selection Screen As is traditional with Squaresoft games, continuing a game in Ultimate Utopia will lead you to a character selection screen. The names for the three games are, respectively, Kyle, Danny, and Man. Kyle’s game has the characters we will learn to know and love, while Danny’s game seems to represent Grease (the area is called “Rydell High”), and Man’s game plays on the lack of diversity of Square’s NPCs – as all the characters in it are Man himself.

I’d like to draw attention to the fact that the only woman in all three save games is the one in Kyle’s game. Kyle Moore, the leader, has in his party: Tunaidi Ansari, James Yao, and Megan Greener. She is, predictably, the last character in line when the game opens on their location.

III. A Woman After Square’s Heart

Say What?As this flash movie is as much a parody of Squaresoft as it is a tribute, I was not surprised to find that Megan is the stereotypical magic user. Not just any magic user, however, but the physically weak healer. Her HP is a staggeringly low 191, as compared to the others who have anywhere from 954 to 1023. As the healer, her MP is the highest: 360, as compared to 54 (the highest MP next to hers). Her weapon of choice? The staff. It does 12 damage, yay!

Throughout the battle, Megan is trashed time and time again. Daniel, their adversary, takes her down to 11 HP with his first hit. Of course, instead of focusing on healing her, the player does a “heal all” which gives her back a whopping 5HP. Bringing her total up to 16. For his next attack, Daniel goes for “Copyright Infringement” and takes Megan down with a hit that does 571 damage. Can we say “overkill”? At least when she gets revived she’s back up to full health. For all the good it does her, seeing as she gets “blown away” in Daniel’s next attack.

When she returns, does she heal her party (like, you know a healer *should*)? Nope. Mr. Player (and yes, he’s a man) has her do an “MP Up” spell. Learn how to play! Well, perhaps I was too hasty in my condemnation; running through the movie again, I realize that her only options appear to be “Heal All” (fat lot of good that spell does), “MP Up” (another useless one), and “Suicide”. I’m guessing the fact that Megan is vastly underpowered is a critique on Square’s use of women, or at least I hope it is.

But, the torture of Megan is far from over. Daniel’s next attack, Clap, is a confusion spell. Which misses everyone but Megan, and stays with her past death. I mean swoon. I mean… what the devil are kids calling it these days? The caveat, of course, is that Megan lands the killing blow (while still confused) after all of her teammates have been killed by Daniel’s devastating “Apocalypse Now” attack.

IV. Conclusion

Like I said before, I liked this movie. It was a funny parody, a nice tribute, and having watched it a second time I’m beginning to think that it may have also been a subtle critique of some of Square’s staple archetypes (like the lack of NPC diversity and gendered stereotypes). And, really, I would much rather them deal with Megan’s plight (the plight of practically all female characters in one way or another) by drawing attention to it instead of having it be part of the background noise.

Tragically Funny

I don’t know what it is about tragic things that make them such fodder for sarcastic humour. A defense mechanism, maybe? A way to deal with the horrors of the world without killing oneself? Regardless, it is undoubtedly the form of humour I use the most, probably because I’m awful with jokes (the only set that I can ever remember starts with, “What do you call a cow with two legs?”). I feel like my brand of dark, sarcastic humour gives me a way to purge the taint left on me by the injustices of the world; by speaking it in a humourous context, it can be exposed for the sheer idiocy it is. It becomes something to laugh at, not to be taken seriously. I also like that it turns something that normally brings pain into something that, even briefly, can bring the pleasure of laughter.

In that vein, I was having a totally serious (well, serious except for the interruptions of pictures from Cute Overload) with darth sidhe on Trillian. And she, sharing this brand of humour with me, took my totally innocent comment about not giving away things, and spawned the following sludge-filled bit of humour. Be warned, however, for it’s the traditionalist notion of sexuality that’s under fire and there’s talk of rape in it.

tekanji: and it’s not like I’m giving *away* something most cases
darth sidhe: yeah.
darth sidhe: like OMG UR VIRGINITY
darth sidhe: ;_;
tekanji: waaaaaaaaah
tekanji: no man will ever want to touch me now
tekanji: wait
tekanji: that might not be a bad thing
tekanji: 😛
darth sidhe: “So you’re saying a woman is only worth her virginity?” “No, I’m saying it’s her honor.” “Wait, a woman’s virginity is her honor? So she lie, cheat and steal and it’s okay as long as she still has her hymen?”
tekanji: haha
darth sidhe: a man’s word is his honor, but a woman’s honor is between her legs.
darth sidhe: yeah, fuck that.
tekanji: but we hold aaaaaaaaall the poewr because men want to fuck us
tekanji: don’t you see how that makes us more powerful than men?
darth sidhe: especially when men just can’t help themselves and go around raping every woman they see. It just shows that we have the power to withhold! Or not.
tekanji: well, those women were asking for it. I mean, if they hadn’t worn clothes or lived in their house or had male relatives then they wouldn’t have been raped!
darth sidhe: the only way to solve that problem is to kill all the men and save their sperm for the propagation of the race.
darth sidhe: and when boys become of age, collect from them and kill them off. for ever and ever amen.


A quiet battle has been raging. So quiet, in fact, that none knew it was raging save me and… uh… me. Ever since I was introduced to the truth laid bear, I have realized that I, tekanji, Queen of The Official Shrub.com Blog was not the sovereign of the Shrub Kingdom. All it took was one ecosystem search for the word “shrub” and I found that I have not one, but two rivals: The Useless Shrubb and The Shrubbloggers.

Clocking in at around #20360 in the ecosphere, I surpassed The Useless Shrub with ease. It was The Shrubbloggers, however, who ceaselessly taunted me with their rankings in the upper 8000 and lower 9000. I had to beat them, but I was lagging behind in the 11000-14000. A few times, I came so close to taking my rightful kingdom from the usurpers. Victory was in my grasp, I could taste it. And then… nothing. I retreated, the stink of faliure following me in my wake. I vowed then that I would have my revenge.

Today, my subjects, today that vow has come to fruition. Today the mighty Kings have fallen. Today, the Shrub Kingdom is ruled by its magnanimous Queen, as well it should be. But, I should not get too cocky. I must be remain viligant. The Shrubblogging Kings are ever at my heels, waiting for their chance to re-take their precious domination of the Shrub Kingdom. I swear to you, dear serfs, that I will guard this position as well I may and serve you as a ruler should for as long as I may keep this position.

Turning the other [butt]cheek

Astarte might have a budding career as a comedian, ’cause she has the “it’s funny because it’s true” category down pat. In response to the men who came to her blog to read about Hot Girl-on-Girl Action and were sorely disappointed that their privilege was called into question, she has done her best to show the boys out there why we womenfolk are so uppity on the issue of gender parity in video games.

You’ve heard about this great new fantasy game, and you’re really itching to play it. The day it comes out, you’re in line with all of the other people eager to buy the game. You come home and pop it into your console or PC, then turn it on.

At character select, you have a choice between four different female characters and one male character. The female characters are attractive, but they’re dressed as if they’re ready to do battle –“ no skimpy clothing here. They all have detailed stories as to why they’re out on their quest.

The first one seeks ancient tomes to return to her library back home in the hopes that she can crack an ancient spell that she’s been working on for some time. The second one saw her brother killed by the hands of the enemy, and now she seeks revenge of the most bloodthirsty sort. The third one is a mercenary, and she just wants to see blood spilled in exchange for enough drinking money, and the fourth one is seeking riches to build a castle and conquer the southlands.

After reading all of those, you get to the only male option in the game. His stats are the same as all the other characters, but his story is much different, and his clothing is much different. It turns out that his parents turned him out of the family farm because he didn’t want to get married at the age of majority like every other male. Thus, he’s been forced to take his finely-honed martial arts skill out adventuring so that he can find a date. His main weapon is a quarterstaff, and his avatar is dressed in a mesh shirt, leather speedos, and he sports a constant hardon.

[From Fair Play by Astarte]

And the best line from the entire post? Maybe you’ll be able to find some armor along the way to cover up his protruding nipples and bulging sack.

The best drug you'll never take

Instead of finishing my rant on another one of those stupid “gifts for her” list, writing on gender in Indigo Prophecy, or finishing the essay I want to submit to She’s Such a Geek, I’ve been hit with the creative writing bug. I don’t question this, and neither should you. Plus, Buffy will be happy that I finally finished this round of editing on CoS.

But this isn’t about me and my laziness, this is about the new miracle drug, Panexa:


Pregnant women, or women who plan to become pregnant, should avoid taking PANEXAor handling broken tablets. Or intact tablets. Women considering some day becoming pregnant, who have ever been pregnant, who have had a pregnant friend or pet, or who have seen other pregnant women, naked or otherwise, should also follow these precautions:Do not handle PANEXA tablets, containers, or related literature. If a PANEXA product nears your field of vision, avert your eyes. Try not to say the word “PANEXA.” If you do happen to pronounce the syllables, spit thrice and soak your hands in iodine. If you hear the words spoken, live or via recorded medium, cover your ears and immediately see a specialist to try and staunch the bleeding. Try not to think too hard about PANEXA. In fact, don’t ever even think about it at all. Pretend you never heard of PANEXA, and never will. Drop this magazine immediately, and get the hell out of here as fast as you fucking can. Go on, get out of here. You’ll thank me.

If you should be aware of a pregnant woman who has handled PANEXA, attempt to warn the peoples of earth of the mind-numbing horror that is about to unfold. Also, drink plenty of liquids.

If that’s not a poignant critique on legal drug culture, I don’t know what is.

Top "Geek Girl"-Friendly Rules!

Do you want to get your girlfriend or wife into technology, but you’re afraid she’s too feeble minded to be able to appreciate your magnanimous gift? Have you run out of gift guides to scour, but still need a gift for the girl “geek” in your life? Well, fear not, friend! You’ve come to the right place. This list will give you the skills that you need to decide what pieces of technology are and are not appropriate for the little women in your life!

  1. Easy is Key!
  2. Although they may appear to be adult-sized, a real man knows that women have the mental capacity of a child. With that in mind, you don’t want to get them confusing technologies where they have to use more than one or two buttons.

    There are some exceptions to this rule. For instance, console controllers come these days with many buttons, which can be intimidating to your delicate flower. Most consoles have “female friendly” games that utilize a minority of the buttons. Those are best, especially when coupled with simplistic “point and click” style gameplay that doesn’t require thought.

  3. It’s a Cutsey-wootsy Widdle Toy
  4. It’s a well-known fact that all women have the “cute” gene. They melt like butter whenever a picture of a puppy is shown to them, and plaster their rooms with posters of baby animals. This is because they have the sole responsibility of raising the children for their men. Use their biology to your advantage! If you see a game that features animals, or an MP3 player that is described as “cute”, then it may just be the gift you’re looking for.

  5. Oooh, Pretty Colours!
  6. When in doubt, look for something colourful. Preferably in pastels, but for a younger woman neon colours are all the rage. Bright colours soothe the feminine mind and can go a long way to making technology less scary. Pink, especially, is a colour to look for because it is instrinsically feminine and will trigger comforting thoughts about being back in the cradle with their mother cooing happily at them.

  7. Encourage her Chatter
  8. Women love to talk. And talk. And talk. And talk. So bring out her inner socialite and get her a gift that allows her to indulge in her chit-chat (preferably when you’re not around)! Cell phones are increasingly gal-friendly, or you can get her hooked on online games (all women love puzzle games; it has something to do with snakes and evolution).

  9. Stop Being a Fatty, Fat, Fat, Fatty!
  10. Tired of your cupcake being the size of one? Fear not, technology has made it so that your tech-savvy woman can be as slim as a super model! Pick from one of the many weight loss appliances, or go the video game route and buy her DDR plus a game pad. You can be the first man on the block to prove your virility by showing off the newer, better, more svelte version of your wife/girlfriend.

  11. Accessorize to Feminize
  12. If there’s one thing women love, it’s shopping for purses and other accessories! So, when in doubt, go for an item to spruce up her boring old toys. Does she have one of those dull black laptops? Buy her a pretty little case for it. A case for her iPod, or a new skin for it is a great idea, too. For even more brownie points, make sure the case models are named after women. If you bought a console for her (you brave, brave man!), you can even buy skins for those! And you can even buy games like Final Fantasy X-2 that involve collecting new outfits. She might not be able to play them herself, but watching you unlock new outfits will give her hours of fun.

If you follow these simple rules, you’re guaranteed to pick a gift this year for your sweetie that she wouldn’t dare dislike.

Last Updated: January 02, 2006.