Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Queer Characters In The Legend of Zelda: Bolson

Bolson
(5-17-2017) --- To who had played The Legend of Zelda games would noticed that there aren't many queer characters in the localization in the west versions; we can argue that Tingle counts as one because of the mannerism and dress he uses, and he could easily fit towards the queer community but is difficult to imply as it has never been any indications about Tingle identity or in what spectrum he could fit.


During different incarnations of the games there has been speculation about possible gay or lesbian characters but Nintendo always been vague towards any aspect of identity and sexuality towards the games, but times had changed and people who were second generation gamers with the Nintendo Entertainment System and played the first and second Zelda games on the NES. Those same people who still are faithful to the brand and continued playing the games through the ages developed their own views as well the brand adapted through the change in times and how the LGBTQ community worldwide had gained more visibility beyond the mainstream culture.

Above the Temple of Time
We have to understand that the gaming community has deeply roots on homophobia and transphobia as well traces of machismo in which developers would promote it and even encourage it; but yet the thesis of machismo in the gaming culture is just the pinnacle of the iceberg as we have to understand from the sociological and developmental point of view much of these behaviors are home encourage it by the parents as they don't see anything "wrong" towards how their children are expressing through the games and other forms of social media.

Video games as a form of art and communication surely has evolved over time, with platforms as Steam that has given to indie developers the chance of promote their products and ideologies has opened a new generation on how to create games that are beyond the mere graphic capabilities, games had become a form of art that transcend beyond the looks and they must need to tell a story.

Bolson
What is amazing about just this character is that he is not a cliché, the players can see that he is femme and doesn't hide his persona from others; he even goes to flirt with Link, he is proud and about and he is independent where he manage his own business of home interior decoration and real state across the ruins of Hyrule.


There still a long way before we say a gay protagonist, but we already got lesbian and bisexual protagonists such as the ones in Life is Strange and the Last of Us; yet the idea of paving the way for a unique game experience doesn't seem far away.

References:


  • http://www.advocate.com/arts-entertainment/2017/1/05/25-lgbt-video-game-characters#slide-4
  • http://narrative.ly/were-here-were-queer-and-we-love-the-legend-of-zelda/
  • http://kotaku.com/how-i-realized-my-dragon-age-inquisition-character-is-1678673801
  • https://culturedvultures.com/homophobia-still-problem-gaming/
  • https://infogr.am/lgbt-portrayal-in-video-games
  • http://zelda.gamepedia.com/Bolson

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Religious Imagery in Breath of the Wild - Monks

Wahgo Katta
(5/2/17) --- I always find amazing The Legend of Zelda, it’s always fascinating to see the inspirations that were taken from the real world and implemented in the game.

Within Breath of the Wild, the game imagery has been fully expanded and the players can see the parallelism between the different beliefs systems' around Hyrule and how they reflect the ones that are on our planet.


We can see the Hylians are under the inspiration of some form of Christianity symbolism, mostly is reflected on their architecture in which the Temple of Time is incredibly similar to a medieval church, at least we can see it on the remains of the edification but also if we go to the different regions we can notice other influence such as the Zora's being inspired by some form of Hellenic architecture, Gerudos being inspired by the Manazan just to name a few, but what it got my attention is the influence of Edo architecture and Buddhist mythology that is seen within the Sheikah's but there is still the polytheistic tones towards the Golden Goddesses and Hylia as a central figure.


Shrine
The function of the Shrines has a parallel to Buddhism in which is a holy resting place, but also is the location in which the saints were placed to die to create a sacred barrier that would help the champion.


What is fascinating is how the Sheikahs beyond their approach to technology and magic, where also focused on the esoteric aspect that conforms the religious mythos of Hyrule in which there were 120 Arhats that devoted their lives to serve the Goddess Hylia and her reincarnation Zelda.

Inside the Shrine
What is fascinating about the general religion of Hyrule is that follows a mix between Buddhism, but is difficult to determine which branch follows as well some elements of Christianity; is good to notice that reincarnation is revered and is seen towards the different ages, in which it had developed a cult like type that seems the Sheikahs act as the guardians of the different avatars of the Goddess Hylian, but over the eons the cult extended and Sheikahs were bestowed abilities of sight as well to create a holy ground after their passing, much as if it was a requirement to achieve sainthood.

Mind Eye
The gift of sight that many of the Sheikah saints profess to have, thanks to a blessing by the Hylia is a common theme within certain Dharmic spiritual traditions, such as Buddhism and Hinduism in which is related to the realms of a higher conscious in which the person who is trying to achieve sainthood of Buddhahood gains a form of spiritual perception that is linked towards their surroundings.

We as players we must notice one component of the story behind the shrines and the monks, they were placed there to die, much as their real-life counterparts. We should imagine that the shrines are extremely humid places and lack some oxygen in which a body won't decompose fully but rather would mummify if any natural component such as sand was used previously.


Even so, if we see it from a further perspective, the monks were placed there to die as there are no exit from their chambers. They were placed there as the ultimate sacrifice in the name of their dearest Goddess and their beliefs for a peaceful tomorrow all in the expense of their own lives. It is quite dramatic to mention it that way but there aren't reference in-game about the construction or formation of the shrines, but it gives a clue based on how the game lore mimics some of the real-world ones.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Making America Work Again… With Robots

Making America Work Again… With Robots

Part of the promises by the Trump-Pence campaign, as well part of the promise Trump made to the voters who backed him up, it was that he would bring factories back to the country; the idea sounds quite romantic and it perfectly appealed to the middle class that were “enchanted” by his speech as it appeals to a Post-War Era were factories where on the boom, and the Baby Boomers and the Generation of the 29 were mesmerized by a new wave of industrial revolution.
It is quite a romantic ideal, in which society changed and if we adapt it, is not far-fetched, the world economy and social panorama are shifting towards a new macro-depression but also to an era where automation has become the standard of the execution of major factories and trade occupations are becoming obsolete.
China as an example is investing US$3 billion a year in robots – way before on 2009 and to lower cost of the developing nation.  Trump on February the 28th of 2017 that he “will bring millions of jobs” We should consider that this is not the job of one person but a conjunction of a group effort towards re-establishing the hegemony of the American economy and the power of the middle class as if it was on the Post War Era. The problem to face is that the North American Free Trade Agreement face China low base prices on the manufacturing jobs and how companies are outsourcing jobs outside.
Another debacle towards the economic stabilization is that due China’s influence on the world free trade market is that if the U.S.-based manufacturers want to compete against China, they must reduce cost of operations at the moment they are again based on the United States soil, and by default whenever they are back they will need to do massive deployment rounds of employees in order to save costs.
A study made by the Boston Consulting Group in 2015, found a comparison on a hypothetical base in which an automaton can execute the job with minimum wage, US$8.00 per hour which will cover installation, maintenance and operating costs while an employee would be earning US$25.00 per hour plus benefits and the gap is expected to get wider as technology becomes efficient and cheaper.
Even with political pressure and the relocation of the line of ensemble, all to restore middle class jobs in the trade or manufacturing fields, the results can be disappointing as a physical task is considered high-cost labor in the market which could consider the companies to employ robots instead of massive lines of employees.
Tax incentives could be an option and the differential cost of operations could be a turning point in the capital investment to create more jobs on American grounds, but whenever you can pay your employees the less of the minimal wage and keep the products cheaper, then it wouldn’t be strange that companies rather go out the country and find other locations in which they can earn more revenue by investing less.
ADIDAS is one of the many examples on how outsourcing to different Asian. We can name one example as Cambodia; had placed them on the eye of watchdog groups because they fail to bring labor laws to a fair trade of business, in which there is a constant violation of overtime and work conditions that has been violated and over-watched over and over by the Cambodian government.
Brands and corporation should disclose and be open about their suppliers in order to help vulnerable workers; such as discrimination of pregnant women in the workplace, anti-union and forced overtime. Yet is good to know that ADIDAS on 2017 implemented and developed a factory in Germany known as the Speedfactory in which the factory is run by robots; the idea of the factory wouldn’t be only in Germany but also the U.S. which will have a base of operation in Atlanta.
The turning point is going to be that there is going to be a decline on the blue-collar worker force and a rise on the white-collar one; the idea of Trump “bringing millions of jobs” is ludicrous and he isn’t far oblivious towards the implementation of technologies for easy manufacturing. The white-collar workers would adapt quickly to the creation, implementation and maintenance of new technologies that would run on the factories, creating a disproportion in the workforce of America.


What about the auto-industry? The one that Trump based some of the promises of his campaign?

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Team Plasma Analysis

Ghetsis
(3/1/2017) --- Probably one of the most interesting aspects about this specific villainous team in Pokemon is that they embrace certain components of our own organized crime, in a certain way the villainous teams are mere caricatures of their real counterparts; but, an exception to the rule is Team Plasma (Bulbapedia - Team Plasma).

Why Team Plasma? They utilize persuasion to attract more followers, much as religion in the real world.Team Plasma uses proselytism in order to convert and bring more people to their cult as it was seen when the player first met them in Accumula Town, where Ghetsis the mastermind of the entire operation, was holding a rally in order to bring more followers by preaching Pokemon belong in the wild and shouldn't be used as humans as they are sacred.

It is an appeal to the emotions of the people, as essentially Ghetsis through the game offers some form of redemption that could be attributed to the person named mononymously as N, which he represents some form of a messiah that tries to liberate the Pokemons from the human oppression but also offer the promises of a safe heaven for humans and Pokemons, albeit in separate spaces because the ultimate promise of salvation wasn't for the humans.

The metaphysical implications that can be seen around Pokemon Black & White, same in the sequel of the games. Which there is a theosophical debates towards if the nature as a sacred gift should be violated by humans in order to fulfill their purpose of technology? And how there can be a heaven for Pokemons and humans and if they can co-exist as if they contain a soul and an essence that is worthy of salvation.

Accumula Town
Salvation seems to be placed on the core of Team Plasma's vision towards the world within the games, that they create a cosmological vision that seem to be heavily inspired in the Catholic Church to bring adepts. Salvation in order of deeds that are related to the church vision but also to give something to the church in order to be accepted and gain the reward of ascension to a higher plane of existence.

Religion as a component is seen towards different Pokemon games, probably during the first six generations it was quite subtle with the exception of Team Plasma, as generation VII there are references of adoration towards the Tapu's and being referred as deities who protect the islands.

In Black and White, the implications that Plasma as the antagonistic team uses a religious structure to manipulate the events around them. It can be a perfectly well made strategy to position the team dominance and resource, because the team is appealing to the peoples' emotions and beliefs and that can be effective than using strength or violence opposed to any other syndicate.

Team Rocket 
Team Rocket probably being the most iconic gang within the game franchise, mostly due being the main group of villains that has been used on every single series of the television show; has a different approach than any other of the gangs, in which they use Pokemons for experimentation, reselling and towards their personal uses even without caring that the Pokemons would die.

Yet, the ultimate goal of each team is to dominate the world through violence or through creating a corporate paradise as it was with the Aether Foundation; but, the emotional aspect that comes with Team Plasma is rarely found in any other of the villains because they do not place a cult and adoration status to on the same level that it was found in Plasma and the Gospel spread by N.

The hierarchy of Team Plasma is incredibly similar to the Catholic Church, where there is a Patriarch, The Seven Sages that can be similar seen to Cardinals, Anthea and Concordia being nuns, Colress being represented as a Diocesan Bishop due to his ability to interact with different regions and bring more parishioners to the cause; yet, the role of Colress could be more macabre as he could be part of a wider organization that the main goal is create an economical power on the Pokemon World.

Maybe the different teams such as Rocket, Plasma, Magma, Aqua, Flare, Skull, just to name a few are part of a shadow operative that interlocks with each other in order to subdue the local governments in order to bring probably a new world order.

References

  1. http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Team_Plasma
  2. http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/N
  3. http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Guardian_deities
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hierarchy_of_the_Catholic_Church#Archbishops

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Spirituality in Pokemon Sun & Moon Part One

Tapu Koko
(1/15/2017) --- One amazing aspect about Pokemon Sun and Moon (Homepage) is that for the first time, the franchise actually has an open integration towards religion and spirituality, not only towards the game canon but also in a juxtaposition of the real world as there is an inclusion towards the Kahunas (Moke,2001) beyond their role as being the new Gym Leaders within the game.

As within every generation, there has been a set of legendary Pokemon's that focus on the protection of the land or are part of the myth and lore; yet the only set who seems to interact directly with the human world and select representatives or Kahunas are the Guardian Deities (Bulbapedia - Guardian Deities)

The Tapu's are the closest interpretation towards the Hawaiian Gods, specifically Kane, Ku, Lono &  Kanaloa as each of the guardians of Alola represent (albeit in cartoonish quality of the Hawaiian Gods) in certain way each of the main Gods attribute towards the myth's they represent.

What is interesting it's that in this world, people are polytheistic, and they seem to be based on a Shintoistic (Wikipedia - Shinto) point of view towards respect of the nature and all living creatures; but there is a mix between the different regions as there seem to be a distant connection with some other religions such as Christianity which there seem a reflection of the imagery on Team Plasma's uniforms.

Team Plasma First Uniforms
Team Plasma (Bulbapedia - Team Plasma) is probably the only team that take some elements of Medieval Christianity (Wikipedia - Middle Ages) in which the group hierarchy) To give a proper explanation the administrators of the team are Seven Sages or Seven Wise Men with one of them acting as the internal leader.

The imagery goes even to the point where the grunts are dressed as knights or crusades and the administrators act as if they were priests; they tend to act as if they were on a holy mission to protect their beliefs that they wouldn't care risking their own lives if their message is sent.

The Seven Sages played with the mass perceptions about humanity destroying the habitar of the Pokemon and trying to preach a gospel of unity in where there should be a paradise for Pokemon and that their King (N); but as always they were promoting the idea to be subservient to the Dragon Gods that once shaped the Earth.

The different regions seem to be bear a resemblance on what Earth was, but on how the difference forms of creed evolved to adapt them to the common aspects that are found in the nature of the world. Then we can go back to the Alola region, which vastly differs from the previous ones as the real world influence can be seen towards the deities they worship on the region and how these deities and their Kahunas (Bulbapedia - Kahunas) play a significant role on the socio-economical lives of the different islands.

Kahuna Hala
Much as their counterparts in the real world (Wikipedia - Kahuna) in which each of them is a wise individual or an expert in any profession that serves the archipelago and the people that lives in. As a side note, the Kahunas act as the liaison between the humans and the deities, but in reward they are "blessed" to use the power of the Tapus' if there is a menace on their regions.

There is a similarity between them being chosen by the Gods and how some contemporary religions use the so called prophets in order to spread the message of God on Earth; we can see the Kahunas as some form of prophets in the new world, in which they are mostly revered as saints who are bestowed some holy powers and knowledge.


References:

  • http://www.pokemon-sunmoon.com/en-au/
  • Kupihea, Moke: Kahuna of Light -The World of Hawaiian Spirituality, 2001, Inner Traditions International, ISBN 0-89281-756-9
  • http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Guardian_deities
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shinto
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kahuna

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Politics and Economics in the Pokemon World - Part Two

Professor Oak
(1/11/2017) --- Playing for many years, almost 2 decades of playing Pokemon, players can see an evolution towards the game as well some of the backstory that mostly the game story-line is set on a post-apocalyptic world. We can see that on the first sixth generations there weren't many adults and much of the towns were underdeveloped, there were many orphans and widows and essentially society was being reconstructed.

The seventh generation (Bulbapedia - Seventh Generation), shows a different world in which a rise of humanity has overcome decades of oblivion and people seem to be rising again from the destruction. Alola (Bulbapedia - Alola) focus on a society that is striving economically as well socially, people are visiting different places of the archipelago as well around the world.

Albeit in Alola we get a more detailed orientation about the role of the Pokemon Professors, on Generation I the players can get obtain a detailed idea about the role they play on the society that collapsed. Professor Oak, could be the most prominent of the scholars that surround the society who live among the Pokemon's.

The role of a Pokemon Professor goes beyond giving the starter Pokemon's to the player, it is a socio political role much keen to being a governor and it plays an impact on the development of the region. To understand more commonly the role, we can take a look on Professor Oak himself as well the impact he had between Johto and Kanto but as well around the globe.

To understand Professor Oak we have to see him as a successful tactician and politician, besides his interest of relationship between humans and Pokemon's. He essentially organized two regions to share one common league or the Indigo Plateau, became a role model to Professor Elm (Bulbapedia - Professor Elm) who became the regent figure on the Shinnoh region. Why Professor Oak is such an important figure towards being some form of a celebrity within the Pokemon universe? Because he was one of the ones who placed an end to the war that separated Kanto and Johto but organized other professors to become the regents of their respective regions and the formation of their respective leagues.

Kanto

Essentially what Oak can be seen is, as the founder of a technocracy (Wikipedia - Technocracy) that gained momentum and influence around the world. There are no career politicians around the different regions, and there are no other influences towards the economical and educational development of the population with the exception of individuals who are dedicated to technological progress as well some corporations around the world.

The world of Pokemon faces on an economical perspective a capitalistic problem, as the regions are oriented towards consumers and company relations towards spending; but, it gives a debacle between physical efficiency and cost of technology.

There is an inflation around, products are on an extremely high price and the radius of the population versus income is despair for individuals to go and purchase technology that would let them travel around the world, at least on the first generation games; still, even towards the seventh generation there are hints that no many people can afford traveling or even going on a journey to compete against gyms and or trials in the Alola region.

We still have to consider that if it wasn't for the technocratic movement that governs each region, there wouldn't be any economical developments and technological advancements on the regions; even on the Generation VII games we can see some developments that we will be talking on an upcoming entry.

Kukui
On the Sun & Moon games, the players can see with more detail the actual role of the professors and what is the influence they take on each region. What it was mentioned earlier, the professors act as governors and leaders of opinions, they essentially influence the structure of a region and how the nation would be politically organized even on how the trials would take place.

It is interesting to see how can one person, is essentially in direct charge of many aspects that surrounds a cultural group but also on how they can promote their region for better. Kukui opposite to other scholars from previous generations is more of a showman, besides being dedicated to his research in move sets, he organized the Alola Pokemon League and acted as the first Champion, while being a public figure on the Pokemon Royal Battles (Bulbapedia - Pokemon Battle Royal) and keeping a relationship with his wife Professor Burnet.

From a timeline perspective, we can interpret that the Alola region was the last region to fully developed socially and economically as it was independent located from the Kanto main land, which probably the Alola region politically speaking is on a separated continent from the previous generations which led a delay of having a league of their own.

Kukui can be seen also as the man who opened the economical relationships further between the region and the other parts of the world by allowing immigration, and bringing new trainers in. Even so, it's easy to speculate based on how the professors interact with the player and how much others NPC's give information about the impact they had caused on their regions. 

References:

  • Web retrieved: Bulbapedia, Seventh Generation of Pokemon Games - http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Generation_VII
  • Web retrieved: Bulbapedia, Alola - http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Alola
  • Web retrieved: Bulbapedia - Professor Elm, http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Professor_Elm
  • Web retrieved: Wikipedia, Technocracy - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technocracy
  • Web retrieved: Bulbapedia - Pokemon Battle Royal, http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Battle_Royal

Monday, January 2, 2017

Evolutionary Traits in Pokemon -Polymorphism- Part Two

Alolan Rattata
(1/2/2017) --- One thing I found interesting about Pokemon Sun & Moon, is that it offers finally an introduction to the concept of polymorphism to explain the differences in variation of the species among the world.

To understand the Pokemon World (Bulbapedia - Pokemon World) we have to understand a world that is extremely similar to Earth, we can even debate towards if this world could be concentrated in the String Theory of an infinite set of universe in which a world, through evolutionary means developed fantastic creatures (Supestring Theory Website - Basics).

Now, if we situate in this hypothetical universe, that is similar to our own, with a similar planet, similar nature laws and in a place where we can see variations of the same species, as well subspecies, now to understand the game franchise story will know that each game is set in different regions, within each regions there are a set of Pokemons that are exclusively to those regions, but overall within those regions the player never see variants of Generation 1 & 2; such as Meowth or Rattata.

The regions that are mentioned are Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, Sinnoh Unova and Kalos. Those regions could be considered part of one vast continent that contains a similar number of Pokemon that could travel freely and always face a similar variances on the regions micro-climates, dietary needs and human impact. In theory, there aren't any variants of Pokemons towards these lands, because they could be considered one and the same.

Alola Region
Now we have a land, Alola which comes with the Seventh Generation (Bulbapedia - Seventh Generation), what is fantastic about this generation is that it's the first Pokemon game that offer an insigth towards the concept of polymorphism (Encyclopedia Britannica), species invasion in a foreign ecosystem as well biological adaptation.

We are going to focus more entries on this topic, so far we are just going to go within the genetic variations of Pokemon's found in Alola versus the ones found in Kanto and the surrounding regions.

Alolan Meowth
Sometimes within adaptation of species, there are minor differences between what the morphology of the body; but, if we take a discontinuous genetic variation divides individuals of a single population into two or more distinct forms such as the case of Meowth (Bulbapedia - Meowth)

What is fantastic about Alolan Meowth is that is almost a different species of the same cat-like creature; there are some common morphological traits but on an learning level and we can add genetic makeup they differ between each other vastly.

How two creatures evolved differently goes into the phenotype, similar as how dogs were transformed over the course of 20 thousand years, just to give a short estimate (Genome Sequencing Highlights of the Dynamic Early History of Dogs) but in the case of Meowth the adaptability trait came as an invasive species that mimic the feral cat problematic in Hawaii.

The similarities between Meowth in Alola and cats in Hawaii are actually quite remarkable, as in the game lore the Meowths' were introduced from the Kanto region and became an invasive species on the Alola region, much as the cats were brought by the Europeans to act as guardians of the plantation against local pest (Hawaii Invasive Species Council)

The Meowths eventually on an estimate course of hundred years invaded all the archipelago and because of the human interaction and impact, they eventually went feral after the overpopulation and lack of control to retain the species from proliferating. Opposite to the Kanto region is that Meowth in Alola is a Dark type Pokemon opposite to a Normal Type, in which the adaptation is mostly related to the biological rhythm in which the Meowth as well Persian operates .

Alolan Persian
An aspect I found interesting is that Alolan Persian actually looks closely to a caricature version of a Persian, rather than a Siamese Cat that was common during the first six generations of the game. It probably came at the end as a way to add a more precise look to the character; but still it looks as a cross between two different cats.

References:

  1. Web retrieved: Bulbapedia - Pokemon World -http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Pok%C3%A9mon_world
  2. Web retrieved: String Theory Homepage -http://superstringtheory.com/basics/index.html
  3. Web retrieved: Bulbapedia - Generation Seventh -http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Generation_VII
  4. Web retrieved: Encyclopedia Britannica - Polymorphism - https://www.britannica.com/science/polymorphism-biology
  5. Web retrieved: Bulbapedia -Meowth - http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Meowth_(Pok%C3%A9mon)
  6. Web retrieved: Genome Sequencing Highlight the Dynamic Early History of Dogs, Freedman, Adam - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3894170/
  7. Web retrieved: Hawaii Invasive Species Council - http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/hisc/info/invasive-species-profiles/feral-cats/