Culture Feature

9 of the Best Fictional Games We Wish We Could Play

From Quidditch to Calvinball, these games look like more fun than anything the real world has to offer.

It can be a lot of fun to engage with a sci-fi or fantasy world — to lose yourself in imagining the interesting ways life could be different.

But sometimes it's hard not to get jealous when the characters in those worlds are just having way more fun than we ever will. These are some of the made-up games in sci-fi and fantasy worlds that we desperately wish we could play.

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Film News

Is Disney's "Raya and the Last Dragon" a Rip-off of "Avatar" and "Korra"?

Whether it was intentional or subconscious, the new movie looks suspiciously familiar.

Update 3/5/2021: Raya is now out in theaters — for the reckless and the vaccinated — and on Disney+ — for people who want to spend $29.99 in addition to the subscription. If either of those categories describe you, hit us up on Facebook or Twitter to let us know if you think Raya ripped off Avatar.

The rest of us will be waiting until June, when it will be free to all Disney+ subscribers.

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TV Features

"The Legend of Korra" Is Now on Netflix: Best Sequel Ever?

While some fans of Avatar: the Last Airbender have balked at the sequel series, they're just wrong.

For longtime fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender, it's been a delight to see the series gain so much recognition since it arrived on Netflix this summer.

So much so that a live-action Avatar series is now in the works (though the original creators recently cut ties from the project...) and has fans crossing their fingers so hard they might fall off.

Not many children's cartoons about people with magic powers can break through to a mainstream adult audience quite the way "the Aang gang" has managed to—but not many deserve to. The depth of character, the charming humor, the moments of genuine heartbreak, and the impressive artistry of the animated action combine to make one of the best animated shows of all time.

With so much to live up to, it's almost a given that a sequel—much like the train wreck of M. Night Shyamalan's film adaptation—would end up disappointing the fans. And yet... The Legend of Korra, available on Netflix starting August 14th, might be even better than its predecessor. So why have so many fans turned against it?

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Gaming

VIDEO GAYMER | The elusiveness of queerbaiting...

Queerbaiting, no matter what media I consume, you always seem to be there.

WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS

OH QUEERBAITING...

No matter where I go, it seems you are destined to follow me in my quest for queer content. You are an elusive little nuisance. Half the time, I don't even notice you're there. I play a game or watch a show. Two characters are always coded as queer. They share glances, light touches, and even a touch of homoerotic tension in a bedroom - and for a hot minute I think "IT'S GONNA' HAPPEN! YES. YES YES!" And then... nothing. I'm left hanging - wondering what's going on? Is it me? Did I do something? Wait. WAIT! Why are they dating a woman/man? What happened - you said - they were just - wait. Wait a minute. No. NO! GODDAMMIT QUEERBAITING!

It's hard to live in a world where this menace pervades so heavily. I've talked many times about my dissatisfaction in queer content across the board - especially in video games. And the problem isn't that queer characters don't exist - because they definitely do - they're just hinted at. We're left with a lot of could-bes and what-ifs, and queer consumers are always left with one question: "Why didn't it happen?"

WHAT IS QUEERBAITING?

TV Tropes defines queerbaiting as, "A media work's attempt to lure an LGBT fanbase with either false hints of representation or stereotyped, non-essential LGBT characters." It's something that's existed in media for a long time, but only recently got its name thanks to numerous online fan communities. Some major non-video game examples include Ryan Evans ( High School Musical), the entire cast of Supernatural, John and Sherlock of Sherlock. The list could go on and on and on, but you get the idea.

DOES IT APPLY TO VIDEO GAMES?

Yes but, video games are different, because they're only just beginning to catering to the queer community. Queerbaiting happens because the queer community is a minority - and a lot of people don't want to cater to a minority (no matter how harmful it is to said minorities). Usually, its used when discussing film and television. If you have a tumblr, you've no doubt heard it flung around just about everywhere. But that doesn't mean that it only exists within these contexts. No one want to look like bad guys in the eyes of public, so they'll put these characters out there that "could be," to try and satisfy everyone involved.

This kind of strategy worked for a while, until queer people gained a louder voice that straight people both listened to and agreed with. And for a long time, most gaming companies just didn't pander to queer audiences. So, why try? And they have almost avoided it, at least in a lot of the games I've played.

Flea talking to Chrono and friends. netdna-cdn.com

Unfortunately, it still exists - it's just a lot harder to find. Of course, there are early examples - in my article on trans characters in gaming, I talked about one: Flea from Chrono Trigger. A character that's presented as trans, but is hardly explored in any way, shape, or form. There are numerous other coded characters throughout the gaming landscape - but most of them aren't made to pander to audiences. They're the butt of a joke or just down right offensive.

PROVE IT!

I've got three words for you: Life. Is. Strange. A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about Life is Strange for this column. I had been told it was great - I played it, and it pissed me off. For a long time, I thought it was just the ending - then I thought about my entire experience. I thought about the lead up - Chloe and Max's relationship. Queerbaiting got me again and I didn't even realize it.

We'll start with sexualities. Max and Chloe never discuss their sexualities. Max literally never has a single dialogue option in which she states her attraction to girls - neither does Chloe. You just assume, because that's what queerbaiting does! It traps you! You fall for it, because the game not only gives you the lingering looks and the near-flirtatious joking. They go one step further, giving you kissing.

Max and Chloe's "joke" kiss. www.gameslikezone.com

But are they ever confirmed to be dating in-game? No. Do they openly state their attraction? No. They're best friends - and Life is Strange makes sure that you can always interpret them that way. Max and Chloe are so definitely queer. Chloe's intense feelings for Max and her missing friend, Rachel, are heavily hinted at being romantic. Max's constant devotion to keeping her alive, and being there for her borders on almost obsessive.

But that step is never taken.

There are other titles where this is apparent - I can't speak for them personally, but I'll let these writers speak for themselves.

WHAT DO I DO WITH THIS INFORMATION?

Lots of new games come out every year - and recently we've been given a lot of amazing content. But as Life is Strange has proven, queerbaiting can still happen. Keep a look out for games like this. When playing a game with a so-called queer character, ask yourself:

1. Is the character's queerness canonical?

2. Is the queer character stereotyped/joked about?

3. Is there an ambiguous almost-but-not-quite queer scene?

If you can answer yes to any of these questions - you're being queerbaited, spread the word on social media. Tell people. Tell me! I'll make sure everyone knows. We have to stop queerbaiting in its tracks, because we deserve better.

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