The Revolution Will Be Counter Clockwise
September 7, 2010 11:17 AM   Subscribe

The revolution will be counter clockwise! Jam City Rollergirls for WiiWare is ready to drop later this year. It will be the first video game treating the 75-year old sport of roller derby. Like most things derby, from the recent Down and Derby book to the WFTDA, to DNN, where you can watch live bouts, to the movie Whip It!, Jam City Rollergirls is supported by and features real players of this growing girl-power sport.

It's just too bad none of the teams in the game are from the western region, which is dominating the national rankings. Just sayin'. West coast woot woot.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur (43 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Wrestling on rollerskates. Go far, rollergirls.

Fair disclosure: May, or may not have been associated with ROLLERJAM and miss those wonderful productions something fierce.
posted by cavalier at 11:20 AM on September 7, 2010

Needs more motorcycles and Toccata and Fugue in D minor.

That said, I unexpectedly loved the movie Whip It!, which really needs to be somebodies cult movie.
posted by Artw at 11:21 AM on September 7, 2010

Huh, I just posted some pics the other day of a couple games in Portland last month. They take the game pretty seriously, even while having a laugh about it. Good times.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:25 AM on September 7, 2010

re: western region...Rat City is in the game. They're out of Seattle, you can't get much wester than that, right?

That said....EASSSTTTT COAAASSSTTTTTTTT!!!! I am SO looking forward to this year's tournament season.
posted by capnsue at 11:30 AM on September 7, 2010

Yeah, Whip It! was fun.
posted by Mister_A at 11:33 AM on September 7, 2010

capnsue: "Rat City is in the game."

Oh, man! Rat City is so ubiquitous... maybe that's why I overlooked them...? (a biiiiig mistake on the rink and off)
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:33 AM on September 7, 2010

I've said it before: If it's not on a banked track, it's not roller derby.
posted by docgonzo at 11:34 AM on September 7, 2010

While not the first video game depiction of roller derby, it will at least be more true to the sport than this game. :)

I'm sure this will be rad. Looking forward to it!
posted by Herschel at 11:35 AM on September 7, 2010

I've said it before: If it's not on a banked track, it's not roller derby.

If it's not on a banked track, but the league really wants a banked track and is saving money to build one, it's still roller derby.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:36 AM on September 7, 2010 [5 favorites]

Yeah, and one of the two models in the first link was for Rettig to Rumble from the Oly Rollers out of Olympia. Good likeness--here she is vs. the Boston Massacre a few months ago (yes, the red eye is intentionally uncorrected).

I'm supposedly going to the Eastern Regionals in White Plains--anyone else?
posted by dam1975 at 11:36 AM on September 7, 2010

Well, unless you can body-check, it just won't be the same.

A Wii version of "NHL 2011" would only be awesome if you could throw down the Wiimote and punch the other player.
posted by GuyZero at 11:41 AM on September 7, 2010

Yay! Roller derby is so much fun to watch. A couple of friends of mine were on our local team, which is sadly struggling for sponsors.

But wanna see something TOTALLY HEAVY, MAN? Eric Powell, creator of The Goon and all-around comic-book badass, is a huge fan of his local team, the Nashville Rollergirls.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:41 AM on September 7, 2010

dam1975: I am planning on going to Easterns to support my beloved Charm City! The Charm City All Stars vs. Boston Massacre game 2 weeks ago was one of the most exciting sporting events I have ever seen. I can't wait for the probable rematch...
posted by capnsue at 11:42 AM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Correct me if I'm wrong, here, but isn't roller derby fixed and staged, in much the manner pro wrestling is? I've seen some old matches on late night TV and Cheap Seats and stuff and it sure looked pretty fake to me. Aren't we being a bit fatuous or generous or both by repeatedly using the word "sport" in reference to this activity?
posted by ChasFile at 11:46 AM on September 7, 2010

ChasFile: It's real.

Go to a modern roller derby game, it's completely different from that televised stuff back in the 70s and 80s.
posted by capnsue at 11:49 AM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Correct me if I'm wrong, here, but isn't roller derby fixed and staged, in much the manner pro wrestling is?

That might have been true in the 70s, but has no bearing on the sport as it's played today.

Roller Derby girls may often dress in fishnets and have ridiculous pseudonyms, but they're athletes playing a really demanding and competitive sport with rules that are set by the Women's Flat Track Derby Association.

There're some pretty representative videos on the Gotham Girls' YouTube channel, if you're interested.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 11:52 AM on September 7, 2010

Correct me if I'm wrong, here, but isn't roller derby fixed and staged, in much the manner pro wrestling is?
Consider yourself corrected. I have several friends who are into it, including my 40-year-old best friend from college. Nothing fake about it (except the ridiculous names they give themselves).
posted by coolguymichael at 11:54 AM on September 7, 2010

docgonzo: "I've said it before: If it's not on a banked track, it's not roller derby."

This stance, which I've heard before, is not only dismissive of the hard work flat track derby leagues do to scrape out their own (nearly universally non-profit) existence, but unsupportive of the sport in total, considering how much flat track and banked track skaters share resources. It's certainly a minority view considering the comparatively large numbers of flat track skaters and spectators to banked-track, and it is not one condoned by the creators of the sport.

Furthermore, banked track may result in faster pack skating, but not harder hitting... and, around here, flat track means falls on concrete, not plywood. Hits into the audience, to boot. Flat track vs. banked track player games are a fascinating demonstration of the conflicting techniques and abilities, and they don't conclusively show that banked track skaters are better athletes, by any means.

I can't figure out the logic of being at all discouraging of flat track play. But by all means, talk all you want.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:59 AM on September 7, 2010 [7 favorites]

As some have said, this year, Westerns is the new Nationals. :)

Whip It! was a fun movie, but I enjoyed it a lot more before I started learning the sport myself. Now there's no shortage of things that make me cringe when I watch it... (c'mon, you need to skate out of a whip or you just piss off your teammates!)

Anyways, to the main topic, it's awesome to see a roller derby game - but Jam City looks so over the top, I'm not sure what to think. Ramps? Stray cows? I know, it's not like there's exactly the market opportunity at this point for a serious roller derby sim, so I should be happy to see anything expanding awareness and knowledge of the sport. But given how many people still think it's fake, not sure this will help with that.

(and go Rat City, who set a modern derby attendance record by selling out the lower bowl of Key Arena - nearly 7000 people!)
posted by evilangela at 12:00 PM on September 7, 2010

Woohoo roller derby thread!

There are two periods in my life: the time before I discovered Roller Derby and the time after. I went to RollerCon with some derby girls this summer and had a blast. It's magical, awesome folks, A++++ would party with them again.
posted by mullingitover at 12:07 PM on September 7, 2010

mullingitover: "I went to RollerCon with some derby girls

I have a monacle I ordered for you but I'm smashing it now. How did I not see you there...? Maybe I did.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:13 PM on September 7, 2010

For those of you interested in learning more about the resurgence of roller derby, I recommend the documentary "Hell on Wheels", which covers the very beginnings in Austin, and does a great job showing where it all comes from.

Of course, it's also worth mentioning "Blood on the Flat Track", which covers Rat City as they were really getting going. Of course, I mention that one because I'm a fan and hopeful future skater. :)
posted by evilangela at 12:13 PM on September 7, 2010

yay, derby on MeFi! I'm a rollergirl of three and half years' standing with the London Rollergirls, and I can assure you there is absolutely nothing fake about it. It's a hell of a lot of hard work, in fact.

Banked track is fun - I got to skate the Penn Jersey She Devils' banked track when I was in Philly with my girls (we did a mini-East Coast tour earlier in the year), and I would love to try bouting on a banked track, but I'm a flat track girl at heart. It's what I know.

We recently got accepted by WFTDA (first European members, hell yeah) so hopefully we'll make Eastern Regionals in 2011 once we play our qualifying bouts and kick a little more North American ass :)
posted by corvine at 12:23 PM on September 7, 2010

Re: flat vs. banked: it's a spectator sport, and spectators love the speed and flash (and shorter jams) of banked. I get that flat track is a more technical and physically demanding game, but I think it's boring for people that don't have a deep knowledge of the rules and strategy.
posted by thedaniel at 12:24 PM on September 7, 2010

Oh man. My girlfriend's just joining a new team and we've had some great fun coming up with her Rollerderby name. That match report is a treat in puns alone. Sugar Hits! Good Lord. My personal fave I've seen so far is Debbie Does Malice.
posted by RokkitNite at 12:25 PM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

I guess this thread wouldn't be complete without a link to the giant derby names list.
posted by mullingitover at 12:28 PM on September 7, 2010 [3 favorites]

RokkitNite: Malice is my leaguemate and friend. She's awesome. I shall tell her her name is being approved of.
posted by corvine at 12:34 PM on September 7, 2010

Yay roller derby :) I am very upset that I am missing our bout on Saturday because I'm getting a cyst removed from my hand the day before.
posted by Lucinda at 12:55 PM on September 7, 2010

God I wish I could be in White Plains for regionals. Go Gotham Girls!
posted by Navelgazer at 1:07 PM on September 7, 2010

I have to disagree, thedaniel. I think the silly names, and the dressup and the speed will draw people in via the wonder of it all, enough to start getting the hang of how you score, and how you do pack control and all the details.
posted by garlic at 1:08 PM on September 7, 2010

I'd appreciate a more "realistic" simulation of roller derby. Making it arcade style with power ups and secret routes doesn't seem like the best way to market the sport. I can understand the desire to make the game as accessible as possible to the widest possible audience, but I'd fear the lack of emphasis on the rules of the sport might hurt in the long run.

Granted, I don't know much about how this game will portray the rules. This is just a hypothesis based on the assumption that "secret routes" would complicate the scoring of jammers around the pack.

Plus if the game is going to be Mario Kart-ish, I'd hate to feel extremely pissed when the AI blocker lays the blue-turtle-shell equivalent of a mushroom bomb on my jammer.
posted by CancerMan at 1:16 PM on September 7, 2010

I hate to be a wet blanket regarding roller derby portrayals in the media and such (no such thing as bad publicity, right?), but as a derby girl, I *hated* Whip It!. It managed to take a fast and exciting sport and make the game scenes really boring to watch. It could have done with some more judicious storyline editing, too. And Hell on Wheels was like watching a 2 hour long PTA meeting.

Much as I like seeing our sport get more attention, I am crossing my fingers for the day when we are covered as a serious sport and not with the usual "by day, by night," "these girls are soooo WIIIIIIIILLLLLLLLD!!!" and "chicks in skirts, bruises, and fishnets" tropes that we constantly see. I train hard, wear real athletic gear, rarely drink or party, and I do not magically morph into a different person on the track because I go by a different name when I skate. I suppose it's a good thing that derby girls are becoming high profile enough to get a stereotype, but then again, it's a stereotype (boo).

Sorry for the rant. I hope this game gets more people interested in the sport but as with all our media coverage I'm worried that it might give people the wrong idea, yet again.

I will also be at Eastern Regionals, if there are other Mefites who will be there too. And there's a Gotham Girls Roller Derby home game this weekend that I am not playing in but will be working, so if you're in NYC and haven't seen a bout before (or have!), you should come.
posted by Fuego at 1:50 PM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

I am crossing my fingers for the day when we are covered as a serious sport

Then cut it out with the sex pun skate names and every flyer for every bout with a girl in a short skirt and fishnets? (Maybe your league is the exception but as long as that's the norm it's going to be about the spectacle first and the sport second for most people)
posted by thedaniel at 2:48 PM on September 7, 2010

thedaniel, many (most?) of the names are not sex-related. Mine's Dainty Inferno. Not sexual at all. I do actually like the use of aliases, because we are so involved directly with fans (some of whom can get a little creepy sometimes) it's nice for them not to have a real name to reference. I don't live by that rule myself (google my skate name and you'll easily find my real name, but not vice versa, so I guess if I wanted to truly go incognito I could go by my real name, which is terribly common), but I have teammates who would like to keep a low profile for one reason or another and use the skate name as a buffer.

Also, not all bout flyers feature such artwork. Our league theme art this year is superheroes, which does not feature short skirts or fishnets, but illustrations of skaters in our gear, comic-book style. I don't see this as much different from artwork you see promoting major league sports, like that annoying Fox Sports Robot guy. But you have to keep in mind, a lot of times leagues are operating on a tight budget and have to go with whoever wants to volunteer to draw the flyer art. Beggars can't be choosers.

In the higher levels of the sport you see much less of the sexualization/gimmickry. There are some teams who use their given names to compete, and you don't see the ridiculous amounts of flair in WFTDA tournament play that you'll see in rookie leagues. I admit that I bought into it once (I wore fishnets, skirts, and rabbit ears on my helmet when I went by the moniker Ricochet Rabbit), but as I've taken this more seriously I've paid much more attention to the image I am projecting as a skater. I wouldn't say it's a hard and fast rule, but in general, I think that as experience and talent goes up, you see less reaching for the "sexy" image people associate with roller derby.

Anyway, bottom line, if it's just the skate names and the outfits that keep you from thinking it's a real sport, that's pretty f'n superficial.
posted by Fuego at 4:00 PM on September 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

There's also a small-but-growing men's roller derby movement. I skate on the New York Shock Exchange, and while my sense is that the (much, much larger) women's derby community regards men's derby with a kind of amused "aw, isn't that cute" tolerance, the players take it very seriously.

docgonzo: I've said it before: If it's not on a banked track, it's not roller derby.

Well, doc, if you'd like to put some skates on and play some not-derby with me, I'm sure you'll have no problem shrugging off being not-checked right off the non-track. I recommend un-ibuprofen for the not-bruises you won't have.
posted by pts at 5:18 PM on September 7, 2010 [6 favorites]

pts: "my sense is that the (much, much larger) women's derby community regards men's derby with a kind of amused "aw, isn't that cute" tolerance"

Ha! For my part, more like "damn you, you fucking strong men, and your aerial whips." Fuckin' Quadzilla... that creep can roll, man!

Plus, I figure we canNOT expect male refs and coaches to never want in on that action!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:27 PM on September 7, 2010

Ok, so I'm going to go ahead and ask what an aerial whip is.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 12:16 AM on September 8, 2010

Oh, sure, sure, a total anomaly is what they are.

A whip is when a skater (the jammer, presumably) approaches another skater from behind, grabs the fore skater's hand/forearm and is flung forward, with sudden speed, to pass the pack, say.

Aerial whips would be when they're flung that way, but off the track and through midair. In figures, they'd be called throws, I suppose. Anyway, Quadzilla is semi-pro and is quite the derby showman with many amusing acrobatics.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:34 AM on September 8, 2010

thedaniel, my league (Ohio Roller Girls) only uses game photos on our posters and flyers, and has for the past couple of years, no scantily clad comic book pinups since 2007 for us. Our uniforms are from an athletic gear catalog, as are those of pretty much every team we played this season. And while I'm the only one on my league, there is a small group of us who do now skate under our real names.

(And now there's enough info there for anyone in derby to associate me with my metafilter profile. oops! :) )
posted by pixiecrinkle at 11:57 AM on September 8, 2010

One really weird thing from Rollercon was the coed exhibition matches. The pic I posted upthread was one of them, if you view the image at the original gigantic size you can see some dudes skating in there.
posted by mullingitover at 4:37 PM on September 9, 2010

This thread is not complete without a link to Derby News Network

This is a fun thread for me! Almost every comment has me going "that's me! that's me!" -- I am a Rat City Rollergirl, I play on DLF and on the RCRG All Star Team. I played in the Hometown Throwdown games linked to above. I did an appearance at the video game convention PAX a few weeks ago to promote the Jam City Rollergirls Wiiware game. I founded the Boston Derby Dames & represented BDD in the formation of the WFTDA. I'm good friends with a clever-named rollergirl mentioned above, Sugar Hits. I went to RollerCon last summer. I'll be representing Rat City at Western regionals in two weeks, and in reference to the "Westerns is the new Nationals" meme mentioned, I recently had a shirt custom printed "South Central Regionals is the new Nationals" -- which is indidery & nerdy and maybe this crowd can appreciate the humor? And the truly amazing Quadzilla is one of my coaches. Ha ha ha, yay roller derby.

I have coached many leagues, skated banked track (super fun!), I do play by play announcing & text-casting on DNN... I love roller derby and contribute to the sport in every way I can think of.

Is it fake? As the head of training of a top-ranked league about to go fight for our 2011 budget allocation for training... I'm gonna chuckle at that one. Good classic! Jalapeno Business and I were just laughing last night about how that isn't even a question anymore.

Hey ladies, RCRG tryouts are this Saturday, September 18th... I'll see you there?
posted by palegirl at 10:35 AM on September 16, 2010

Here's some preview content, courtesy of DNN's West Regionals boutcast.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:04 PM on October 3, 2010

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