Being right is not enough

In conversation with Twitter friends, I asked about whether we should attempt to find a term that better portrays video games as not being strictly for children. I used the example of “graphic novels” to illustrate this point, since graphic novel “sounds” more mature, more adult, despite many of us still calling them comics, regardless.

Predictably, many said that ignorant people shouldn’t be catered to. We know that video games are a medium, not genre; similarly comic books aren’t all about superheroes. If people assume all video games are mindless shooting, sexist romps that turn children into psychopaths, why should we change our terminology to suit them? They’re wrong after all.

However, this isn’t in dispute – the point is do we mount a kind of political campaign to try change perspectives? [Read more...]

Essay on villains (and video games)

I wrote a long piece on villains – as they appear in video games, but it doesn’t necessarily apply solely to video games. I’ve had this villain stick that I’ve been beating my favourite creative medium with, for some time.

I’m considering turning this into an ebook for Press Select (a digital publisher aimed at critical video game writing) – but I’ll need to judge interest and other factors.

Nerds, (fake) geeks, sluts and other “words”

“Geek”, “nerd”, “fake geek”.

I just can’t understand these terms. I see them a lot, usually used harshly and usually at women.

I’ve not been able to find out what people (read: usually very angry dudes) mean when they use these terms. I’m not seeking a definition as they see it, only; I’m also looking for a reasonable and justified basis for which to use “slut” and “fake geek (girl)”. To me, these terms are either describing imaginary creatures or they’re useless.

That same apparent logic that targets “fake” geeks could be used by those who like athletics, sport, photography: What makes comics and video games all of a sudden domains where we’re required an entry exam?

But then I don’t even understand the use of the terms “geek” and “nerd”, let alone the awful descriptions “geeky” and “nerdy”. What do they mean?

When superheroes are the biggest things at the box office, when GTA V is making $800 Million after 24 hours, can we finally recognise that these cloisters of religious protection have long been abandoned (hint: you’ll not find a lot of religious believers on this network for example)? These monkish attitudes and religious observations about your favourite fictional figures was something we should’ve given up, I thought?

I hope we do so, since claiming “geek” this and “nerd” that seems prone to tribalism rather than inclusion. I’d rather just love something and be glad that someone either does to or wants to. If they hate it, that’s also fine. Why would I want a world filled with people who all think or agree with me on everything – especially matters of creativity? Creativity thrives on freedom and freedom comes alive from civil clashes waged in the war of disagreement.

Can we please send these terms – all of them – to the gallows?

UPDATE: Apologies for unnecessarily hostile, swearing and uncharitable comments below. I’m not sure why ire is necessary.

Having children and selfishness

I wrote a piece replying to another South African writer regarding the tired assertion linking selfishness and child-free.

I’ve been trying to tease out a proper justification for why someone would claim you’re selfish for not wanting children, but it’s never really held firmly. At the very least, I can “understand” what my opponents in various discussions mean when they oppose me on, say, euthanasia or sex work; there’s something firm that they’re trying to beat me with.

But this is one of those discussions that feels like I’m grappling eels.

I thought I wasn’t harsh in my response here. After all, that would’ve been selfish (and also unhelpful to discussion).

Dear “fans”, we need to have a talk…

Fans of a thing embarrass other fans of the same thing.

In this case: Angry gamers do something stupid that embarrasses other gamers. It’s a story we hear so often, these stories have become an indistinguishable mess of frustrating idiocy; a wrong not merely anchored by entitlement and immaturity, but damage to the very thing we all love: the creation of beautiful things.

The latest is a “petition” to get Gamespot reviewer Carolyn Petit fired from the site. This time it’s not for the usual reason of a “low” score (which sometimes sees reviewers get death threats, even for films); instead it concerns her mention that the game is misogynistic. Readers claim Petit has been pushing her “agenda” (adore that word) and politics for some time and this is the last straw(man) or something. [Read more...]

Suicide, stigma and social media

A US sports analyst chartered his decision to commit suicide.

He didn’t have any of the usual reasons people commit suicide: ill-health, losing autonomy, etc; it was made rationally (as rationally as is possible in such circumstances), on his 60th birthday, and done to prevent any chance of deterioration.

After reading about, I recognised how it touched on a number of themes relating to social media, the way we document our lives, the way some have documented their deaths and what this could mean for reducing suicide and its stigma.

I examined it more in the Guardian.

(Comments are closed on it, unfortunately.)

 

 

‘Cybersexism’ by Laurie Penny: a review and essay

I wrote a review for Laurie Penny’s book Cybersexism at Big Think.

In it, Penny, a well-known and much loved (and of course hated) British writer on politics, feminism and many other topics, outlines the current model of sexism online. Using her own and other women’s experiences, she outlines why it occurs, the ground from which such terrible treatment springs, sexism in general and what sorts of responses we can muster. Her insight, as always, is invaluable and potent.

I used this opportunity to give a perspective as someone who is not the target of sexism; I outline why I care (because we need to do that nowadays?), why others should and related matters.

I am a long-time fan of her work and it’s fantastic to read her in long-form.