Posted by : Wendy B Thursday, 10 December 2015

Telltale Games is getting right up there for me as a company that I will unconditionally support because they produce such amazing, thought-provoking work. However, unlike Bioware, thus far, TTG has not yet failed me with questionable practices and decisions. That said, I did come out of their Game of Thrones game feeling a bit disappointed--but it's not you, TTG, it's me.

First of all, if you haven't played the game, the premise is as follows: You play as the various children and a ward of House Forrester.
"For centuries the Forresters have been loyal bannerman to House Stark: A house of traitors. You rely on your ironwood, that much is clear. It'd be a shame to see it fall into the hands of another house." --Cersei Lannister
Directly during and following the events of the infamous Red Wedding, the children must each work in their own way, from various locations, to save their house and their precious ironwood trees from enemies within and without. For the next six episodes, various major events from the show play out, with the Forrester children participating in the sidelines, or at least being aware of or influenced by said events.

From here on, there will be spoilers. You have been warned.

One of the truly amazing things about TTG is their ability to slip into various independent properties to create characters and stories that fit firmly into the respective world, and yet stand completely on their own. As such, someone who may not watch The Walking Dead, for example, could still appreciate the games they have created based on that television series. The same goes for Game of Thrones, but the difference here is that I came out of this game feeling like people who didn't watch (or read, though this is based mainly on the show) Game of Thrones were actually at an advantage.

As a fan of the show and books, I know the characters who my characters meet along the way so, while it is a pleasant surprise to see them in game, it hinders the role playing experience somewhat when the choices my characters are given when dealing with people like the Lannisters or Ramsay Snow are influenced by my knowledge of those characters. I know that there's no point in Roderick Forrester trying to attack Ramsay Snow because I'm not even going to scratch him. I know that I can trust Tyrion Lannister, but should Mira Forrester be so confident? Why is Asher Forrester risking his life to join Dany's battle when I know nothing I do or don't do will convince the Mother of Dragons to lend a hand.
Add to this the overall jadedness I'm feeling with the television series over the last two seasons where rape has become the go to narrative tool to continually show how brutal and misogynistic a world this is--since the audience is obviously too stupid to figure this out without graphic depictions of onscreen sexual assault against its female characters. Apparently, the showrunners have finally taken the not so subtle hint and are reconsidering how they approach sexual assault for the upcoming season. What this actually means, I don't know, since they are still so proud of themselves for not depicting Sansa's rape onscreen, instead of, you know, not having it depicted at all, since both the audience and Sansa already knew Ramsay Snow was dangerous, violent, and depraved and didn't need rape to prove it because again, we're not stupid. I'm not getting into this argument beyond simply saying that we get it. Rape happens. But as a showrunner, use your imagination and critical thinking to go beyond just showing us that rape happens and how and how often. Better yet, consult with the TTG writers to figure out how they managed to produce six episodes of a game set in the same brutal world, making it clear that women are considered to be lesser than men, without once including an instance of actual rape.

I have always loved the women in Game of Thrones. They are powerful people who know they are limited because of their gender, but find ways to reveal their strength and control and overcome the adversity they face in many ways (until the showrunners bend them over and fuck them as a reminder that... ah but I digress....). The women in this game are no less confident, determined, and proud. From the stoic Lady Elissa Forrester, to the loyal and violent former slave, Beskha, to brave young Talia Forrester, and her older sister Mira, who learns to play the game of thrones at King's Landing.
TTG does a great job of making all the characters unique, while still allowing you to guide their choices. Though I refer to them as the "Forest Starks" based on the similarities of their family make up and their fate, but the characters all hold their own (and Lady Elissa is the Caitlyn I wanted Caitlyn to be, instead of being the woman who caused all of these problems in the first place. Oh Cate).

I played Asher as the mercenary with a heart of gold when it comes to his friends, Gared stayed true to his oath to Lord Forrester, even if it meant betraying his oath to the Watch, and Roderick and Mira both stood proud in the face of those who demanded them fall to their knees. This resulted in their deaths, but they both went out fighting, with the words "Iron from Ice" on their lips.

Speaking of death, this too is a point of issue that goes along with my jadedness as a fan of the show. It's Game of Thrones. Everybody dies. Even the main characters. Some of the deaths I could have prevented, while others were forced decisions, or I had no choice at all. None of these deaths were surprising, because the precedent has already been set. This is where a newcomer might become more invested in the characters and be shocked by the game's willingness to sacrifice them, but if you've read the books or watched the show, you know better than to get attached.

Still, by the last episode, once events had finally moved away from a direct relation to the show, I finally started to feel much more connected to the story as a whole, and to care a little bit more about the fate of the remaining characters, even though I know they're probably all going to die anyway. As such, I am looking forward to the recently announced season two to see if House Forrester and the ironwood trees of the North Grove will remain standing...


WHAT IS THIS?

This is my mindspill. Mostly about comics, books, video games, movies of the science fiction and fantasy leanings. Sometimes recipes and parenting stuff will sneak in, along with a real world rant or two.

I also write about geek culture at Women Write About Comics, and I review genre fiction at The BiblioSanctum.

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