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Storm and Fire is a co-op 3D hack n' slash RPG game. The game centres around the struggle of 2 young knights (Alex Stormborn & Timothy Hearthfire) in a fantasy kingdom who's leader has been kidnapped by a bandit lord. Alex Stormborn who was abandoned from a young age is the perfect knight as she travels the land with Timothy in search of evil to vanquish. Timothy Hearthfire is not your perfect knight, he is neither brave nor courageous and oft times questions himself, however he has a good heart and is a good friend to Alex as she drags him over the land headlong into danger.

The game play is fast paced and challenging with the player having to communicate between characters in order to combo the elements and gain an edge over their opponents. The game features a 5 way "rock paper scissors" element system unlike those seen in other games, the players abilities and exploit this system in order to gain an edge over their foes. The characters themselves have 3 sub classes in which they can choose from and customise each class to suit their play style, this can result in the comboing of abilities as well as the players strive for that competitive edge in combat.

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Storm and Fire: An Introduction

Fire and Storm is a two-player co-op 3D isometric top down hack and slash RPG with 5 type elemental combat system. There are two playable characters - Alexis (Alex) Stormborn & Timothy (Tim) Hearthfire. The game will take place in a made up fantasy island that is in peril after the mayor of the island has been kidnapped, but let’s get more into who Alex and Tim are. Strong willed, risk taking, fearless leader. Alex Stormborn is strong woman in a man's world, however she refuses to let this bring her down. Aged 29, Alex gains her Stormborn title from the great storm in which she was born in and due to the tragic fact that she has no knowledge of her parents beyond that they abandoned her in that storm. Alex started from the bottom and clawed her way out of the slums and trials of a difficult early life to make a name for herself being a knight. But not just any knight, the perfect knight. She shows this time and time again through her selflessness and standing up for what she believes to be right. With her close friend and companion Timothy they travel the land and conquer evil wherever it may raise it’s head however with more animosity from Timothy.

Timothy Andrews or Timothy the Timid as he is more commonly known, aged 28 Timothy has been friends with Alex since they were young when Alex saved Timothy after he got lost in the slums of a city. Weak willed and insecure he often looks to Alex for guidance and help in to overcome challenges. He was born into a rich family of lords and ladies Timothy although quickly strayed from his parent path to become the next lord of their lands and instead chose to become a knight. However Timothy may have bitten off more than he could chew, he found the trials and tribulations of knighthood to be far more difficult than he could have imagined. Although with a little help from Alex they completed their knighthood together and became travelling companions, reluctantly Timothy accompanies Alex as she charges into danger head on.

The 2 must fight through a hoard of enemies that has cut into the main city of the fantasy land and kidnapped the mayor, it is up to these 2 knights to save the mayor and cut down the negative gender stereotypes in their way.

The intent behind the idea

The inspiration behind ‘Storm and Fire’ is looking at past games and how genders have been represented or stereotyped. Although some games do already break the pre-existing moulds of gender and the roles that males and females can and do play, and allows players to select either of the “sexes” available. ‘Storm and Fire’ flips the roles of the normal gender stereotype and forces players to play Alex and Tim who have specific roles and personalities within the game that we believe challenges these pre-existing negative gender stereotypes. So let’s have a look at some of these negative stereotypes that we see in games.

Male Stereotype

In the vast majority of games we see currently and previously on the market, the main male character and for that case a vast proportion of the male characters are based primarily off what is the “normal” male physique, namely one that is tall, unproportionally muscular and with these physical traits are usually accompanied by a personality that is overly masculine, aggressive and are more likely than not a “chick magnet”.

When it comes to females gender roles in games… Well we all know how that goes.

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Females in games are almost always portrayed in one of a few ways, that is they are either the damsel in distress character that cannot fend for himself at all and instead relies on a much stronger male character to save her. The trusty sidekick that oftentimes is more of a hindrance than a help to the main male character, or the overly sexualised female antagonist who for no apparent reason is desperately trying to bang the male protagonist.

Portrayals of these gender stereotypes in video games are “sometimes more associated with the marketing of the game than with the game itself.” (Dickerman). However that’s not to say that not every game falls under this description, on the contrary games like The Last of us offer up strong male and female characters ie. Ellie and Joel.

Ellie Bow Winter

So it’s fairly clear that with a game like The Last of us, that having negative stereotypes is not one of the clear pathways to sales and that a game with a good story, good mechanics and positive gender stereotypes can win out. It’s therefore up to us as developers to make the right decision when it comes to making characters for our games, this is simply due to the impact that we as devs can have on our audience when it comes to putting negative stereotypes in our games.

Researchers Karen E.Dill and Kathryn P.Thill investigated 190 college students and concluded that for female players of such games it “downgrades their own desirability as a mate”(Dill & Thill, 2007) when seeing highly attractive women in media. And for male players that depictions of hyper masculine males “damaged their view of their own desirability as a mate.”(Dill & Thill, 2007)

What we are trying to achieve and how

In our game we are attempting to provide consumers and developers with another example that you do not require negative gender stereotypes in order to boost your sales. We are doing this in our game in a number of different ways. For starters our main characters will have flipped rolls, that being that Alex will be the up front damage soaking tank and Tim will be the ranged damage dealer or healer. This goes against the “girls are always the healers” and the overly masculine male figure paradigms. Throughout the game we will also be offering other instances of how we will be breaking the negative stereotype routine in games, for example the “damsel in distress” being the mayor is a male character. To conclude, in our game we are trying to break the norm of what devs see to be part of a recipe to success, that recipe being that they must put these negative stereotypes in their games in order to boost their sales without taking into account the negative effects these characters have on the consumer.

Thanks for reading,

Joel Mehonoshen.

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