Bleats

Hey Google, Aren't Video Game Controllers Already Gender Neutral?

But make sure they're gluten free though. That's the dealbreaker.

After months of hype, Google’s big video game streaming service, Stadia, is here and, well, it hasn’t been the smoothest of launches due to various technical issues. In what appears to be an attempt to draw attention away from the platform’s painful teething period, Google has decided to focus the marketing push on the Stadia’s controllers, i.e the only aspect that works properly.

But rather than highlighting things like the controller’s buttons and joysticks and whatnot, Google has decided to promote its “gender neutral” aspects.

In a chat with CNN Business, Google VP and head of Stadia, Phil Harrison, said that since their competitors have traditionally been “more masculine,” they wanted Stadia to go in the other direction and take advantage of Google’s lack of “pre-existing ‘gamer culture’.”

To that effect, Harrison said Google tested hundreds of colours and surveyed thousands of gamers to nail the Stadia controller’s look. After much testing, they settled on “Wasabi” as the final colour as it had “univeral appeal” among both men and women.

“Both men and women gravitated towards this color. It ended up being super gender neutral but still very expressive. It’s really hard to find colors like that.”

Not sure if anyone ever has looked at wasabi and thought “yes, that’ll solve the gender neutral issue we’ve been having” but hey, you do you Google.

If this all sounds like a big load of unnecessary nonsense for an issue that previously didn’t exist, well you’d be right actually.

Video game controllers have never been explicitly marketed or made with dudes in mind, which makes Google’s “gender neutral” push for the Stadia very odd. To be fair, Harrison did also say that the controller was “made for small and large hands” in an attempt to cater to a “large segment of gamers that aren’t always appreciated” so there’s actually some good stuff going on with the Stadia controller.

You can’t blame Google for trying to think outside the box but this whole “gender neutral” angle comes off as a bit patronising given how video game controllers and controller skins have been sold in a wide range of colours since the 90s.

Perhaps rather than trying to remedy a “gender neutral” video game controller problem that never existed in the first place, Google should focus on more pressing issues like fixing all the little niggle’s that’s plaguing Stadia or maybe ease up on the gender stuff and put more time into the accessibility side of things (like what Xbox has done).

Today I Learned: Racism Worries Almost Cost Brock His Spot On Pokemon

Everyone's favourite Pokemon breeder nearly got bred out of existence.

A lot of stuff has gone down on the Pokemon TV series over the years, but the one thing still sticks out in my mind after many seasons of new characters, an ever-growing roster of ridiculous creatures, and different settings with weird names is why Brock was suddenly dropped from the show like a sack of bricks during the Orange Islands saga (i.e the second season).

Why indeed.

Having been around since the early days of Pokemon, having Brock disappear out of the blue was a bit of a left field move considering the character’s popularity among fans.

As it turns out, the show’s producers actually got rid of Brock due to concerns of racism.

According to Masamitsu Hidaka, a former Pokemon anime director and storyboard artist, when Pokemon started really taking off around the world, the producers grew worried that Americans and other Western audiences would see Brock’s eye design as a racial stereotype, even though there hadn’t been a single complaint yet.

The eyes have it.

But rather than risk any possible backlash, the Pokemon producers jumped the gun and quickly shuffled him out of the picture by having him shack up with some dreamy female professor.

After getting rid of Brock, the show needed a new character to fill the void and the producers decided to not take any chances. To that effect, they created Tracey Sketchit, a “tall, white, Anglo-looking character,” who shares many similar characteristics as Brock and is essentially the same character bar some minor changes and the eyes.

Despite the preemptive move to cover any potential racism complaints, the Pokemon producers quickly realised that no one actually gave a crap what Brock looked like. Fans loved the character and all his knowledgeable, skirt-chasing charm so the producers sheepishly brought him back the following season and shuffled Tracy off somewhere else.

Sorry to break it to ya, Tracey.

This all sounds pretty ridiculous but it’s not hard to see why the producers would do what they did with Brock and Tracey, especially with the lucrative American market on the line. No Pokemon or beloved character can withstand the might of money.

But just like how the TV show’s depressing original ending didn’t come to fruition, this whole Brock thing ultimately worked out well in the end for Pokemon and there were no racism complaints to be found, presumably because all those complaints were reserved for Jynx.

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