Gaming Doldrums: Pre-Order Pressure & Assassination Exploitation

I was on holiday for some time, and in addition to that, life got crazy (again). But I’ve spent some time catching up on important gaming news and I’m back to ask…what in the actual heck?

You know how the summer is known as a gaming Dead Zone, since there are no major releases and the post-E3 lull has gamers resembling a young child that’s experiencing a severe sugar crash. We replay old games, grind for hours on whatever multiplayer holds our fancy, or put our imagination through its paces by thinking about upcoming titles that we’re just too damned excited about.


I am completely used to being bored out of my skull, gaming-wise, during the summer months. What I never expected to face, though, was a world in which I could potentially be bored out of my skull, gaming-wise, throughout the entire year. I find myself in an enhanced state of “meh” when I think about the titles that are releasing towards the end of 2014 and the start of 2015. Jeez…wasn’t it just yesterday we were getting ready to launch into a new console generation? Crazy. Anyway, lost in the hub-bub of E3 was Assassin’s Creed COMET, which I personally thought meant we would have AC on the MOON, a la Wolfenstein TNO…this would have meant that Ubisoft had utterly lost it, of course.



However, AC Comet is now Assassin’s Creed Rogue, or, as I like to call it, Ubisoft Open World Game #45, in which you play a Templar named Shay who is given the arduous task of taking out as many assassins as possible. Considering the title is called AC Rogue, I figure somewhere along the way, Shay is going to have an identity crisis wherein he wonders why he follows the Templar order and ends up killing his master/brothers to atone for his sins. Rogue will be released exclusively on XBox 360 and PlayStation 3 and, according to Ubisoft, will be linked to the Kenway Family adventures before the events of Black Flag AND will serve as a lead-in for the events that will occur in AC Unity, which launches for the XBox One and PS4. Say what you will about Ubisoft, but they sure aren’t afraid to hedge their bets. Stuck on previous-gen? We gotcha. Graduated to the big leagues? We gotcha. But aren’t you just exploiting the customer base at this point? I loved Assassin’s Creed right up to the release of Black Flag which, while immensely entertaining when I was on my ship, lacked that extra spice once I hopped off said ship and actually tried to have a story. That Rogue has been snuck into the line-up after a “leak” revealed its trailer and basic story elements does not surprise me; two Assassin’s Creed games in one year? Why not. Ubisoft has been looking more like Activision every year, anyway. What does it tell you that I have yet to finish Watch_Dogs, aka Watch Assassin’s Creed Far Cry of Chicago Dogs?

Perhaps what really irks me is the fact that Rogue has been cobbled together by seven…SEVEN Ubisoft studios around the world, but when asked about female playable assassins for Unity, we were served up a steaming pile of excuses, ranging from delays to the game to the ridiculous “too much work” logic trotted out by creative director Alex Amancio. You know…if you’d reallocated resources from the seven studios working on the useless title that is Rogue, perhaps you could have developed some female assassins for Unity, or at the very least some assassins that reflect the smaller populations within your consumer base. I dunno, I mean, I’m no rocket scientist, but if I want to make a quality product that begins to reflect my corporation’s line of diversity and inclusion, I’d assign additional resources to getting that done. Perhaps it’s just me. At any rate, for the first time in my life, I have no plans to get an AC game. I’ll make do with Unity, since I already planned to get an XBox One for the Master Chief Collection.



The last bit of gaming news that made me bristle was the announcement that the original movie cast would be available as pre-order DLC for Alien Isolation. Wait. What?

Yes. You can only play as Ripley and the gang if you pre-order the title. Additionally, you only get access to both “special missions” when you pre-order at GameStop. If you decide not to pre-order because, let’s face it, there are TWO Assassin’s Creed titles coming out this year and you’ve gotta save up so you can do some assassinatin’, then you have to wait until the DLC is offered up as a separate paid download. WHAT?

If a developer wants to endear people to their titles, they should cater to the fan base. I am a huge Alien fan. I am a massive Sigourney Weaver fan. Those are not entities that are able to be logically separated when speaking about a game based on the movie that encompasses both. How do you have an Alien game without Ripley? I dunno. How do you have a Mario game without Mario? What’s a hedgehog if he’s not Sonic? I dunno. These are the questions that haunt me as we continue to spiral into this nickle ‘n dime world where, surprisingly, EA is still the largest offender. I’ve hardly seen any official backlash to the Alien Isolation pre-order pressure, save for an excellent video from Escapist’s Jim Sterling. There are the usual comments under posts discussing the title on IGN etc, but for the most part, Jim and GamingAnarchist are the only two I’ve really seen go nuts about it. Go check that rant out and you’ll see why you should be more pissed off about this game. I am exhausted with the level of lip-service we keep being served by developers and then while waiting for release day, those lips are replaced by giant pythons that wrap around us and try to squeeze every possible cent for every possible bit of content that SHOULD just be part of the actual title at launch. Are we going to be a happy player base when we’re forced to hop from retailer to digital retailer to wherever to get ALL the content that really makes our game? What is the European solution for those who want to play Alien Isolation’s DLC and can only get one Ripley mission because well, we don’t have GameStop on this side of the pond? Did anyone at SEGA have a meeting before they made this decision? Again. These are the questions that haunt me.

Are you planning to throw your chips in and get Alien Isolation or Assassin’s Creed Rogue? Sound off.


When “It’s Just A Joke” Doesn’t Come Close

Before I begin, I just want to apologise for the extended absence and lack of new posts. I was out of the country on holiday for three weeks, during which I spent copious amounts of time at the beach, enjoyed copious tanning sessions and drank copious amounts of alcohol. All in all…I did a lot of stuff, including working as a volunteer for the 2013 Caribserve Video X Games. Then when I returned, I was stuck in that post-vacation rut that causes one to neglect work and all things fun because after all, you were just sipping an ice hold Heineken on a white sand beach. I’ve finally pulled myself out of that deep, dark place, and even so, this post is going to be shorter than most. I mean, come on…it’s Saturday night! Anyway, I thought I’d take this moment to weigh in on something that’s been bugging me and that some have dismissed as just harmless trash talk.

Earlier this week, Jennifer Hepler, a BioWare writer attached to the Dragon Age IP resigned, citing a desire to expand her horizons and be closer to family, which I completely understand. But she also discussed her experience with harassment from “fans” of Dragon Age on the BioWare forums and, shockingly enough, in her personal Inbox and via the phone. The month before, it was poor David Vonderhaar with the literally unnoticeable changes to two bloody guns in BLOPS II, and of course, Phil Fish and Fez 2. Look, I have taken a crack or two at Anita Sarkeesian because I think she finds sexism and misogyny in places where it doesn’t actually exist, but what I do agree with her and several others on is the harassment people, whether male or female, gamer or developer, encounter on forums, XBox Live etc. Obviously, I am a woman and gamer, and I am guilty of muting my mic so people won’t know I’m a woman or won’t engage me in conversation. Though I have had more positive encounters than negative, the bad ones always left me with a bad taste in my mouth for days afterwards.

To learn that Hepler faced death threats against her children, of all people, was very shocking, at least to me. I was raised to voice displeasure at things that I did not like, but in a respectful manner. It’s no surprise that this doesn’t exist on the Internet, but I suppose I never imagined it would go so far as to threaten someone’s child. There is no stronger word for it than reprehensible, and this is something that has been thoroughly discussed and dissected both in online forums and games journalism sites. I am more inclined to talk about the silent majority that continue to just brush this kind of harassment off as harmless trash-talk. There needs to be more pride in calling yourself a gamer and I don’t particularly feel anything but shame when witnessing or experiencing that level of cruel. Additionally, this type of behaviour stopped being harmless when people gained the ability to discover not only personal phone numbers and emails, but home addresses as well, all with a few well-clicked buttons and search terms. Damn you Google algorithms!

Whenever something negative pops up anywhere and in any context, sweeping generalisations are made about the group to which the perpetrator(s) belong. It happened to Germans (for obvious reasons), Muslims (also obvious), blacks, Asians, gays and lesbians, and even some whites (but rarely). So it should be no surprise that the actions of a few special and possibly psychotic gamers darken the landscape we all stand on. But as I say when any group is placed in the same Crazy Town slot as their less-than-stable peers, the silent majority fails by staying mum on what is happening. In no world is it right that Phil Fish chucks it all in the bin because he’s tired of the never-ending stream of criticism. If there’s anything to be learned from the corporate world, it’s that constant stress and nonconstructive criticism only leads to one of two things and one of them involves a semi-automatic weapon and a CNN special focusing on “where it all went wrong.”

I know it can seem hopeless. The voices of the ignorant are sometimes much louder than those of sense, but that shouldn’t mean the sensible let it slide. All in all, instead of relying on Microsoft et al, who seem to have no clue how to fix this problem, start speaking out a bit more. I was being bugged in a Halo match and at one point a member of the opposing team told his buddies to shut up and stop being bitter because a girl was owning them. And no, Anita, this doesn’t mean a man had to rescue a woman again. It means that a member of the larger, more sensible majority chomped back at the dimwitted minority. No change ever happens unless that takes place first, and we’ll be better for it. That’s all.

I might have some pretty cool news to share in the next two weeks or so, but in the meantime, I’m going to figure out how one goes about selling a kidney on the black market, because the Fall release schedule is looming and it is PRICEY. If you’ve any tips, send them along. Seriously.

Adam Orth & The Prisoner of Always-On DRM

Good morning, web surfers! The temperature today is a frigid 7°C and we’ve got slightly heavy fog rolling in from London or Norway or whatever. If for some reason you don’t have the Internet because you either can’t afford it or live somewhere that still tends to use smoke signals as a communication method, then you are more beast than human and I don’t have time for you.

That’s basically the message these days, right?

This post isn’t going to focus on Adam Orth. There’s enough on him going around the web, and if this week’s reports are true, he’s out of a job for failing to realize that a public Twitter profile is available to, well, the public. Did Orth come across as a jerk in his Twitter exchange with who was then revealed to be a friend, as well as those who picked up on the back and forth and subsequently voiced their own thoughts? Yes. But then, it’s the Internet, where 140 characters paints the most unflattering pictures when not used properly. Forget Orth, forget his sarcasm and the reports of him being an insufferable muppet by former colleagues from a plethora of companies. At the end of the day, Microsoft hasn’t denied or confirmed the issue behind his tweets: that the next-gen Xbox would host an always-online DRM feature that requires a consistent internet connection in order to play.

Always On

I’ve briefly mentioned this before, but requiring a console to be constantly connected during play is one giant nail in the coffin for many existing and budding gamers in this world. Let’s face it: there are still countries, and areas of various countries, that have shoddy connectivity, if they’ve even got connectivity at all. The ignorance behind Orth and many others’ comments of “we’re all always connected” is so blatantly obvious, I’m surprised someone didn’t just pat him on the head and direct him to visit somewhere other than a big city. It’s amazing the statements people make when they haven’t experienced the other side of the coin.

I’ll be honest with you. The island I hail from has one of the most frustrating internet connectivity ratings within the entire Caribbean region, at least in my opinion. The challenges that I face when trying to have a simple Xbox Live match with my friends still living there are ridiculously frustrating, to the point where many a controller has been flung across a room in dejected defeat. Does this limit the growth of the gaming community there? No, because luckily, an internet connection is only required for online play, and most of us just tend to set up separate monitors and system link our consoles to get some rousing matches going. The community grows as a result, and that should be the goal here. But requiring a consistent connection to play even the non-online features of a game? Then we run into a problem.

Because let’s be honest: despite coming incredibly far, internet access for the true masses is still a work in progress. Even CIA World Factbook statistics should be considered slightly unreliable, because internet connectivity in certain countries is based off multiple sessions by possibly the same user and is muddied by measuring and lumping in mobile device access. In Orth’s home-country, the USA, there are areas that have weak or practically non-existent connectivity levels. His own friend pointed that out to him, mentioning Janesville, Wisconsin and Blacksburg, Virginia.

We dare you to find bandwidth here.

We dare you to find bandwidth here.

Perhaps the best response to comments like “deal with it” regarding always-on DRM is to just be silent and point to Diablo 3 and SimCity. I have a friend who took the day off to thoroughly enjoy his copy of SimCity on launch day. You hear that? He took a day off of work, his source of income, to enjoy a game he’d just spent money on. And his reward was…zilch. I don’t believe we should just learn from our own mistakes; we should also try and learn from others’ errors, and make damn sure we don’t imitate them at their worst.

I wish Orth the best of luck in his future endeavours, but his part in this story served its purpose. It exposed the apparent lack of insight by some in the industry and highlights an overall ignorance of the larger world. If the idea here, as it is in most businesses, is to keep existing customers while attracting new ones, well, requiring players to maintain internet connectivity throughout a session for NON-ONLINE features isn’t the way to go. Couple that with an increase in micro-transactions, and a host of other nickel and dime tactics, and an industry that some say is already struggling seems to just take pleasure in shooting itself in the foot.

World War Z’s Book & Movie: A Tale of Two Zombies

This post is somewhat of a departure from the norm, but it still involves a game, so enjoy anyway!

I’m going to be frank with you: I often contemplate what I would do in the event of a zombie apocalypse. I try to map out the steps I would take from time of discovery to setting up a permanent outpost that is both defendable and sustainable. The Netherlands doesn’t have many high-ground spots but it does have rural areas that are sparsely populated and land that is ready for farming, since this country loves its agriculture. Add to that the plentiful livestock and well, you can set yourself up pretty well in this country. I know who the members of my Zombie Survival Group (ZSG) are and their respective skill-sets. This is all done in semi-jest, of course. I say semi because the world is crazy and weirder things have happened than the dead walking the Earth. As an avid reader, I consumed Max Brooks’ works of art (The Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z) in record time because they, especially WWZ, offered a view on the zombie apocalypse that the movies did not. The regression of humanity in the face on unspeakable challenges and immeasurable horror often ranks lowest on the totem pole for Hollywood as they prefer to focus on the blood and gore with gleeful abandon. And as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, this is a forgivable oversight because a movie is but two hours long and thus does not allow for extended storytelling….or does it??

I know what you’re thinking: “But MelChan, you said that games offered the perfect medium to tell the stories that movies can’t! What gives?”

I still stand by that original statement, because it is true; a game allows for hours of interactive entertainment. A movie grants you your two hours of engagement (three if we’re talking LOTR stats here), and then you’re left to your own devices. But what about the concept of a movie expanding the reach of a book that expands on a genre that was near-perfectly covered in one of the biggest games (in terms of impact) of 2012?

When I first learned that World War Z was being made into a film, I experienced a range of emotions in about 30 seconds: excitement, apprehension, realization and then dread. Why dread, you ask? Because I felt that they would butcher what is the most detailed, thought-provoking account of a fictional apocalypse ever. It answered all of the questions that films like Dawn of the Dead leave open, questions that are only partially answered by the comic/TV/game of The Walking Dead. It explored the response to such an atrocity on a global scale, highlighting existing political and cultural tensions that could go either way in an apocalyptic scenario. The section discussing how the virus found its way to countries outside of China via the organ transplant black market was brilliant, and honestly, I hadn’t even thought of it as a potential infection point because my mind was too concentrated on the tried and true method of biting. The book’s structure gave Hollywood the opportunity to produce an engaging and maybe even worrying documentary-style film that would be told using the interviews with flashbacks of what the interviewee remembers. Moral regression, political machinations, country secrecy, the failure of military might and the greatest monster of all: our own human nature. When the announcement trailer began making the rounds online, it was clear to anyone watching that they took Dawn of the Dead and combined it with the rage virus from 28 Days Later to create what looks like a CGI fest of sprinting, leaping and bounding zombies.

Zombie Jenga Tower.

Zombie Jenga Tower.

The fact that they’ve decided to replicate the same tired formula as all other beat-the-clock apocalyptic movies is so utterly disappointing, it reminds me of Bioware not just going with the flow in light of the Shepard Indoctrination theory. I mean, it’s RIGHT THERE for the taking…just take it! The terror factor behind the zombie has always been that despite being slow-moving, they are also a flesh-eating and non-feeling entity that will react to sound for as long as it takes it to find and consume the originator of said sound. Multiply their numbers and you have a wave of constantly gnawing and gnashing teeth that is hard to overcome, and that’s not even considering the fact that a head-shot is not an easy thing to  make, let alone consecutive head-shots. I don’t know when we started moving towards this zombie-sprinter singularity, but it detracts from the terror factor.

Wouldn’t it have been awesome if they’d opted for the storytelling scenario rather than what promises to be the blood and gore selection on the buffet line of Possibilities?  It would have been the perfect fleshing out of a genre that has suffered from a severe lack of imagination and exploration, because any fool knows that the war is not just with the zombies but with everyone, alive or (un)dead. I read World War Z around the same time that I started playing The Walking Dead, and I came to treat the book as something of a supplement to the game, which was already engrossing in its own right. You see, books were my first love. Before I had my first gaming experience, books were what I used to feed and bolster my imagination, and I still try to read at least two books a month. So when I got World War Z and The Walking Dead at relatively the same time, I considered it divine intervention and used the book to expand, in my mind, on the themes and concepts raised in the game. It helps to be able to question what your own humanity would allow you to do in a situation like that of the Canadian survivors who end up trading their radio for a pot of soup with some questionable meat (read: human)?

I don’t doubt that World War Z will perform well at the box office, and I will probably still head out to see it (but only because with my Pathe card, I don’t have to pay for it). This doesn’t ease the disappointment of the opportunity the directors and Max Brooks himself had to really wow the world with a story that explores not just the constant appetite of the zombies, but the barbarism that the living are willing to embrace to ensure survival at any cost. It almost makes me hope that in the future, there’ll just be a YouTube series that portrays the stories in the book as the majority of its fans envisioned it, a la Mortal Kombat: Legacy.

Until next time.

I will hopefully get my hands on Bioshock: Infinite so I can give my take on that long-awaited title. It will be my first full Bioshock experience; truth be told, my heart couldn’t handle the first one. Happy Easter to everyone, enjoy the holidays!

Reflections: On Anita Sarkeesian’s gaming-centric “Tropes vs. Women”

If you’re a gamer, chances are you’ve heard of Anita Sarkeesian, particularly since about May 2012. That’s around the time when Ms. Sarkeesian’s Kickstarter campaign for her on-going video project launched, entitled ‘Tropes vs. Women, this time with a focus on the gaming industry. The goal behind this project is to highlight the rampant misogyny that is prevalent in many of the today’s popular titles (she seems to have a particular grudge against Dead or Alive). Almost instantly, Sarkeesian was treated to the kind of backlash that could only be made possible by the comforting anonymity that the Internet provides. She faced verbal and visual abuse at the hands of angry male gamers, including an image of her being sexually violated by Super Mario and a web-based game where you could beat up her likeness. Mature, right?

Sarkeesian has her fans and her detractors. There are some who say she is too radical and that her publications lack serious insight and rely on simply stating the obvious: that yes, there are many instances of where women are objectified in popular media, sometimes being reduced to nothing more than the whimpering damsel in distress. To be honest, she didn’t really register on my radar (or anyone else’s, it seems) until she took on an industry that is historically male-dominated and can often be the home of countless ignorant and raging imbeciles who have nothing better to do than tell you just how many ways they had your mother over the weekend…despite the fact that they live on the other side of the world. But anyway, as a gamer and a woman, I decided to run through and devour all that I could tolerate about Sarkeesian and her vision. And really…I’ve never seen someone who for all intents and purposes despises mainstream media and still feels totally comfortable letting said mainstream media wrap her up and snuggle her like that bear from the detergent commercial (sidenote: I hated that damn bear).



Let me preempt the backlash:

1. Despite not identifying as a feminist, I am a woman. This means that I can recognize when women are getting the short end of the stick.

2. I do recognize that mainstream media (from movies, books, TV and games) has a long and often painful history of portraying women as a variety of characters that still all manage to be the same.

3. I can recognize when someone is just generalizing and has no interest in a constructive debate about their views and the views of others…much like the other women who do not appreciate Sarkeesian’s postings. Unfortunately for Sarkeesian, this dilutes her message and ends up slowing down the actual change she aims to bring about to the gaming industry and the rest of the entertainment industry. There are a few trends that Sarkeesian has fallen victim to that, to me at least, seem to be the basis for the backlash against her. I’d like to say that I in no way, shape or form condone the personal attacks made against her, because personal attacks in any discussion just show that you have no properly structured argument on hand and so must resort to banality. And now, trends:

The Cinderella Complex

One of my pet peeves are when people complain about the unfairness of a system and still seek solace within said system when things don’t quite work out. You cannot be both victim and vigilante here, not when you’re making such broad-stroke judgments against an entire industry and, to be quite frank, every man in the world. Sarkeesian climbs on top of her soapbox and proclaims to be doing what she does for the sake of protecting women everywhere…but really…how anti-woman is that mentality? On the one hand, she hates that we’re cast as damsel-in-distress in most mainstream movies (that may or may not feature Baybooms). On the other, she willingly blankets herself in that damsel-in-distress cloak when someone challenges her “findings,” regardless of whether it comes from a male or female commentator. She denounces them with one of two statements, dependent on gender:

1. You are a man, thus by default a sexist pig and so I refuse to acknowledge your differing opinon.

2. You are a woman who has been brainwashed by the mainstream media’s depiction of you and thus, I will ignore your challenging opinion because you are sad and must be saved.

For me, this was the my biggest issue with regards to Sarkeesian and her message, which is basically this: that it’s awesome to be a strong and opinionated woman who accepts her own conclusions, until of course someone approaches with a different conclusion, in which case it’s perfectly acceptable to hide behind your gender and say that they all hate you because you’re a girl (never mind that some of those differing opinions come from other women). She does not account for the fact that many women are able to be confident, strong, successful AND sexual, and this is where the disconnect seems to occur with much of her message.

Cry Wolf

You know how sometimes, there’s just that one person who no matter what can find something bad in any and everything in this world. That’s how I felt reading many of her interviews and watching her YouTube videos. Chris Carter over at Destructoid gave what was one of the best counter-arguments to Sarkeesian’s interview with the same website, where he deconstructs several of her comments made about specific games during the interview. I honestly cracked up at reading how utterly distressed she was while playing Rayman Origins and having to save the ‘busty’ Nymphs. Someone clearly hasn’t read up on their mythology. He points out that, more often than we would like, she grasps at straws when it comes to highlighting sexist portrayals of women in games. She  has even blatantly ignored the redemptive qualities and characteristics a female character may possess within a game, instead choosing to make the argument all about the appearances, the box art, the romance possibilities and butt-shots of Miranda Lawson.

That last bit works on my last nerve, because again, it highlights the complete lack of organized resistance within the ‘feminist movement’ or whatever you wish to call it. Are there gratuitous shots of Miranda Lawson’s butt in Mass Effect 2 and 3? Yes. Does this define Miranda as a character? No. Miranda Lawson represents, in my opinion anyway, the kind of character that Sarkeesian appears to want, but still manages to hate. On first glance, Lawson looks like the stereotypical sex-pot goddess:



Oh but wait! Am I being sexist by saying that? Am I wrong for, as a gay woman, saying that I quite appreciated Miranda Lawson’s physical attributes, as well as her intellectual capabilities? Dammit. Anyway. Lawson proves to be more than just luxurious dark hair and one heck of a body. She’s a brilliant mind, having led the Lazarus Project to rebuild Shepard, and a powerful ally on the battlefield. She kind of represents the phrase of “having it all”: beauty, brains and a bit of brawn (in terms of her biotics). So why does Anita Sarkeesian (and a fair share of her supporters) judge her existence in the Mass Effect universe based solely on her appearances and her clothing? Isn’t that what being a feminist is actually supposed to be about? Creating a world where women can be themselves and do as they want and not have to apologize for being intelligent and sexually attractive all at the same time?

I guess not.

The Face of a Generation

This links back to what I said about Sarkeesian not acknowledging or flat-out rejecting criticisms brought against her by other women (and self-proclaimed feminists). She’s basically appointed herself as the face of this campaign, to persuade  the gaming industry (and to some extent, gamers) that they are wrong for indulging in a fantasy world (heh) and to pressure them to change, in no particular order: the way female gamers are treated in online forums and matches, the way female characters are drawn in video games, and the way they market their games on a whole. The problem is that she’s not the face I want representing what she perceives as my plight in life as a female gamer. This is mainly because I hate that term; I am a gamer, my gender has nothing to do with that. But mostly, it’s because when one individual self-appoints as the face of a cause, it doesn’t always mean green pastures ahead, particularly if they are guilty of the above.

I haven’t even touched Sarkeesian’s rants about TV, movie and book tropes against women, but that’s because this is a gaming blog and I believe in focus. But even there, she maintains the notion that women need to be saved. From bad marketing, their sexuality, Michael Bay…everywhere you look, there’s something a female character being negatively portrayed. The problem with that is that it’s a sexist idea, that women need saving, whether they need to be saved by a man or by a crusading feminist who seems to have an issue with female characters displaying any sense of sexual awareness and sometimes comes across as just wanting female characters to be non-sexual period.

To me, that is somewhat worse than the Miranda Lawson butt-shots.