Please support thoughtful game writing

Five out of Ten Magazine is a wonderful digital publication, edited by smarty-pants friend of mine, Alan Williamson; it focuses on critical videogame essays.

Often game sites do fairly boring news – “DEVELOPER GIVES TINY FACTOID ABOUT UNRELEASED GAME, WE SPECULATE WITH 1,000 WORDS” or “HERE’S A SCREENSHOTTTTTTT!” – but much of the rich conversation is missing. Comment sections seem comprised of the same kind of people shouting women out of online multiplayer and gaming in general; the kind who think wanting same-sex representation is advocating Nazism.

FooT however is a space that allows for great conversations to take place. This latest issue, which I’m in for some reason, is focused on “space” and what that means in terms of games. It allows for fascinating essays that I hope make it worth purchasing.

Considering it’s supporting an area of gaming that really needs more focus and support – like certain amazing-looking games – I want people who love games to love these discussions too. Gaming is a medium worth investing in and, since it’s my favourite medium, I want others to experience the fulfillment, discomfort, passion, and awe it provides me.

Keeping “the gays” out of gaming

I wrote a piece for The Daily Beast on Nintendo’s response to wanting same-sex relations in one of their games. For many – including gaming fans – this may seem like so much nonsense. Yet, what it speaks to is a greater problem of exclusion and targeting, of how you do harm by doing “nothing” or ignoring, within a popular medium – in this case, games.

You can examine all sorts of mediums, but the one I’ve dealt with here – because it is my passion – is games. I do challenge you, though, to read the comments without wanting to build a spaceship and find other planets. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know I‘ve been Tweeting a bit about so many stupid responses.

It’s pretty bizarre how there still exist such mindsets with such deep-seated hatred for gay people and same-sex attraction. Why? It’s simply something I cannot fathom – and I say that as someone who advocates understanding your opponent in debates. I’m not gay myself, so I’ve never had to face such horrible treatment (Homophobic slurs tossed at me don’t count as experiencing homophobia, merely because I write about sex equality – I think I made some commenters* angrier when I indicated I’m not, in fact, gay).

I just don’t know whether there even exists a debate about whether gay people are persons – so it means I don’t have opponents, so much as people holding completely strange and bigoted worldviews. Of course, this doesn’t mean swearing or treating these opponents badly – it just means that any bridge for comprehension collapsed some time ago. I’d like it to return to have them change their mind, but I don’t know. It is very difficult.

Why hate gay people so much? I mean, geez! Equating them with Nazis? Friggin‘ hell.

*Not ALL commenters.

CollegeHumor hates “fake” nerd girls

Disclaimer: I’m aware the CollegeHumor article is a bit old. But I only saw it recently.

LOL! So check these silly women who think they’re nerds cos they wear glasses. Ha, what fakes! Let’s take Tweeted pics and make an article mocking them for thinking they’re nerds!

pic

LOL, high five bro!

We’ll show these dumb womin that it’s wrong to call yourself a nerd because… well, because! It’s too difficult to explain and if I have to explain then you’re obviously not a true nerd. And who doesn’t want to aspire to be a self-loathing, hateful, vengeful manchild — I mean “true nerd”?

What you mean let people call themselves what they want because it has no fucking impact on my life? That makes no sense! I must defend the kingdom of nerdom if people aren’t nerding in the perfectly right way that I’ve arbitrarily determined! Dammit! People can’t just enjoy themselves: they need to enjoy the things I love in the right, special, sacred way I’ve determined!

This is for men. When you come in here, with your women parts, it upsets the balance. And that’s wrong because… you know. Because it is upsetting! Stop it, just look at that list and laugh at those silly women that deserve to be shamed on a widely read site for doing a harmless activity!

Hey! We mock men, too, so it’s fine! Things are equal! How come feminists always talk about how people are equal but then when they get targeted they want special treatment??! Huh: What you mean recognising the world is unequal doesn’t negate treating people equally? That makes no sense. Women are just being hysterical as usual! They should get over themselves, they just need a man in their life.

Everything is fine and I’ve never seen or experienced an environment that constantly judges and negates me for my sex, race, sexual orientation – THEREFORE IT DOESN’T HAPPEN TO ANYONE ELSE. That’s logic! And I should know, bro, I’m a totes true nerd! Let’s go be offended by Star Wars…

So I watched an Avril Lavigne music video…

This one:

It’s called “Hello Kitty” by one Avril Lavigne. I believe she’s famous for having trouble with skateboarding children, who she would see at a later point?

So, the music video starts off with this young woman speaking with a thousand voices in Japanese and pointing at me.

Why is she pointing?

Why is she pointing?

I don’t know what I did, but she’s quite excited.

Then she’s morphed into a room accompanied by disapproving, silent Japanese ladies. This will be their face and general demeanour throughout the entire parade of American teen-pop diabetes-inducing shitstorm the video is.

Come play with us.

The colours made my eyes crawl inside my skull to die in pleasant darkness.

Then the music skips tragically on her saying “Ka”, so she says, “ka-ka-ka-kawaii“. And that’s when my brain shook its head, put on its hat and left via my nostrils. It knew the actual music would start.

SPIN FOR NO REASON, AVRIL! SPIINNNNN!

SPIN FOR NO REASON, AVRIL! SPIINNNNN!

She plays a guitar which apparently contains the trapped soul of Skrillex.

DO SOMETHING WITH THIS FLUTE OR WHATEVER MUSIC PEOPLE CALL IT!

Help! I’m trapped in the body of a shittily programmed guitar!

Then she does this weird… “dance” thing?

I can move my kneeeeeeeeeeees

What is she holding? Why is she now wearing candy spectacles? Why is she dancing with that… thing? It looks like the Staypuff Marshmellow Man’s aborted child.

KEEP YOUR EYES ON IT, AVRIL!

Screen shot 2014-04-23 at 12.47.15 AM

And on it goes.

This blistering, glittery-nailpolished middle finger to music; this blackboard scraping called vocals; the music sounds like the someone throwing a small angry police car around. It’s not so much music as it is glorified white noise, allowing this pop-star to use the colour palette of Candy Crush as a weapon against common decency.

And where the fuck is she? It’s like a racist’s fever-dream of Japan, after taking too much LSD. Everything looks like it takes place in Willy Wonka’s sweatshop.

This would, of course, be nothing without the lyrics. WITNESS THESE GRAND POETICS TO MAKE EVEN DANTE ALIGHIERI WEEP.

Mom’s not home tonight [1] [2]
So we can roll around, have a pillow fight
Like a major rager OMFG [3]

Let’s all slumber party [4]
Like a fat kid on a pack of Smarties [5]
Someone chuck a cupcake at me [6]

It’s time for spin the bottle [7]
Not gonna talk about it tomorrow
Keep it just between you and me [8]

Let’s play truth or dare now [9]
We can roll around in our underwear how [10]

Every silly kitty should be

My thoughts correspond with the notes above:

1. Where is your mother?

2. It’s not night-time at all in this music video.

3.  What is… nevermind.

4. You can “party” and “slumber”; and you can have a “slumber party” – but you can’t “slumber party”. You are not using those words correctly.

5. OK, now I don’t know what you mean by slumber party. Is this only something “fat kids” can do? Do thin kids not enjoy Smarties?

6. Dear god, who else is at this daytime event where you slumber party that “someone” must throw dessert at you? Won’t your poor mother on her night duty have to clean up?

7. OK, now I’m convinced there’s more than one other person at your day-time event.

8. But now this reads as though no one other than the person you’re singing to is there. Who else would the bottle spin toward? I’ve never played, but I did see attractive people play it in high school.

9. Wait, is spin the bottle finished?

10. Is that before or after truth or dare??

And so on.

This bizarre explosion of “culture” has some racism going for it, too, with its portrayal of everyone who isn’t the white American woman as mindless Japanese drones. So yay for integration. Or whatever.

Conclusion

Whoever decides whether humanity should continue or die will surely be yearning to push the red button after hearing this – because afterward they won’t be able to hear anything else like “Please, no!” Imagine we sent this off as part of a collection that constitutes who we are as a species; imagine intelligent aliens found it. I think it would be immoral for them not to destroy us, as the sound of a cat getting its tail stepped on screeches lyrics about bottle-spinning and day-time slumbering partying. If you’re not diabetic after this, I admire you: the twee and candy-coloured hatred for all things humanity has built in its long march away from oppression makes avoiding sickness difficult.

But whatever. Don’t watch it. Just know it exists. And I watched it for you because I’m apparently a masochist.

Stop sending rape threats to women, please

Bigotry flourishes in a landscape of apathy. It doesn’t need support to continue, only the illusion of support which comes from silence and a lack of repercussions for the harassment. This is what struck me when otherwise moral, smart people see another story about a woman being harassed online and being the target of rape threats.

I noted this in response to a recent case of Janelle Asselin (that Ophelia highlghtedover at The Daily Beast.

People are terrible, aren’t they? Sorry “not all people“… etc. (That delightful link comes from and is written by my friend, Ewa)

UPDATE #2 Men cry foul cos evil feminism makes hitting on women more difficult

Would probably helped if I linked to the piece: Here.

That’s a piece I wrote, as a response to a Guardian post which – to say the least – I didn’t like. The piece claims campaigns like Everyday Sexism make hitting on women harder, because it makes all them “females” think confident flirtation is same as harassment.

Er, yeah. No.

I also commented directly on the piece itself, in the comment section, which got one… strange response.

Some readers can’t locate my comment Guardian site. I’ll reprint it here:

Since I’ve been following Everyday Sexism for a while, I find the author’s characterisation of the project different to mine. I’d be interested to see where exactly the claims come from that indicate all men do this – considering the campaign has been encouraging and welcoming men’s voices, too, who speak out and discourage this behaviour.

I’d also be interested where exactly the claim is made that mild flirtation is equated with street harassment. It seems to me if you can’t distinguish between the two then maybe that’s a serious problem and you should rethink what you mean by flirting – not what the woman you’re flirting with is “doing wrong”.

Of course, your intention could very well be one that truly is harmless and is non-threatening – but misinterpreted. And this I understand, to a small degree.

But considering, as you know, the environment in which women live and what some face everyday, that’s just… well… TOO BAD. Yes, it sucks that it’s harder to intitiate conversation and flirtation without being perceived as “yet another creep”. Yes, it sucks that women have been so constantly bombarded with such idiocy they change their behaviour, time of day for jogging or walking or doing basically anything (http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/04/02/apps-and-online-programs-offer-new-ways-to-report-street-harassment.html), – because victim-blaming also is this pernicious, see?

It’s easy for us men to claim “but we’re nice guys and never do that” – but again, I assume most people can distinguish between the two behaviours.

There will exist genuine mistakes and misinterpretation – as there is in everything we do. Except here it’s compounded by the environment that so many women live in, everyday. The name of the project says it all.

In a world screaming for their attention, namecalling them when women refuse to give it, we shouldn’t be wagging our fingers when our kinder voices go unnoticed. We should be empathetic, target the environment and other men doing this – and also respect women enough to, you know, be able to tell the difference between harassment and harmless flirtation. I don’t see Everyday Sexism as ushering in the downfall of sexual freedom – I see it as protecting it, particularly women’s, so that we can all live in a better world.

(Weirdly, Dawkins linked to this comment – even though his quotation indicates his support of the very article I was criticising in that comment.)

PS: Ophelia also has some important insight, as always.

You too can be a creep with this handy device

A new campaign on crowd-funding site, IndieGogo, seems to be doing well. From March 19 until today (March 31), it has managed to raise $8,171 (US), which is eight times the original goal. What is this important project people are furiously throwing money at? It’s none other than a creepy little camera device to take pictures of non-consenting adults (i.e. without their knowledge), who are more than likely in vulnerable positions!

Please welcome the Spy Cam Peek-I!

You know how you’ve always wanted to take pictures of people, but were afraid they’d get angry because you didn’t ask their permission? What weirdos, amirite? Sheesh! All you want to do is take advantage of their current state, record it and do gods-know-what with your image of this stranger. Why are they being so paranoid? Do they think they’re Edward Snowden or something?

Yes: apparently “discreet” is cool, not creepy or potentially harmful.

Let’s examine what this item is doing exactly.

no one will ever know you were the ONE who took THAT picture or film THAT video!!! So do you feel like James Bond yet?

Sweet. It’s not like people – particularly women – suffer massively from having pictures circulating the web, without their consent, potentially damaging their reputations, their loved ones and their lives because of aggressive ex’s, stalkers, etc. Luckily, every person who takes a picture of a non-consenting person is a good-hearted, perfectly good individual – who knows exactly what will happen when he uploads those pics!

Good thing it can’t be used to look at people entering passwords, pins, etc., too. Haha! No, it’s good fun! Calm down.

Do I feel like James Bond? You mean like a creepy person who is aggressive toward women? YEAH, I DO! THANKS!

Make awesome shots of your friends, completely unaware that they were on camera!!!

I already hate it when they do that. Why would I be ok with them doing it with your invisible device? Why would they be ok with it? If you’re saying I shouldn’t care about my friends’ feelings regarding photographs, then the problem is your device – not my respect for others’ autonomy.

Don’t scare your astonishing award winning picture away! Peek-I is there for you!

I assume you mean the target of your picture, not the picture itself. And that you might scare someone away is probably a reason to reconsider whether it’s a good thing to take that picture. Oh, those pesky morals!

Surely, every one of you was in a situation where it would be nice to take a picture, but…
Not comfortable to do it!
Therefore, you pretend to do something on your device, and at the same time trying to capture the desired scene with device’s camera.

And of course just because we want to do something, we should have all the tools available to do so. I really want every first edition of Dostoevsky: will someone start an Indiegogo campaign to give me the tools to break in to various museums and literary archives to obtain them? But… but why? I really want them! And apparently it’s sufficient justification for people to make tools to see any desires met. Like taking picture of non-consenting others, for example!

Again: that people feel uncomfortable both taking pictures and, importantly, not wanting their picture taken is a sign maybe… maaaaaybe something is not right with the situation. Maybe the problem is your creepy desire, not the negation of it.

Only a few of us have the courage to openly take pictures of other people or objects, at times it’s merely impossible.

Er, people seem very willing to ask others. There might be hesitation because of personalities and so on, but presumably you could just ask. If you can’t ask, then that doesn’t give you free licence to just take the picture.

You can also get great shots of weirdoes walking down the street right next to you, without them realizing what you are doing.

Yeah. Those damned “weirdoes” and their weirdness. Let’s photograph and laugh at how stupid they look. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with laughing at strangers, mocking them, sticking their face all over the Internet: it’s not like they have feelings, loved ones, or careers. Nope: they’re just there for us to laugh at. If they didn’t want to be photographed, they should stop being weirdos!

And here comes the obvious one.

Want a picture of your secret crush? You can make that happen and your crush won’t even think you are stalking him or her, because you will be looking in a different direction

Did you know creepy behaviour is negated by looking in another direction! Wow! That’s amazing! Tell me more, Gandalf.

Just because you don’t get caught doing a crime, doesn’t mean you didn’t still do a crime. Similarly, just because someone doesn’t catch you being stalkerish and creepy doesn’t mean you aren’t. Indeed, a problem we have is that people refuse to believe they’re capable of creepy, stalkerish, harassing behaviour. This seems particularly the case with men.

Also that’s a helluva way to become “closer” to your crush (Indeed: I’m not sure such a person should be with a partner, if they treat people without regard to consent.)

Throughout the campaign page, they demonstrate exactly what you should and can use it for. I don’t know about the legality of pictures, so have a look at my two screencaps on my Twitter page: here and here. The first shows the device being used to photograph down a woman’s top; the second shows the device being used to capture a picture under the table, aimed at a woman’s legs, while she’s wearing a skirt.

OK. Let that sink in: on the page proudly promoting this device are two images showing exactly what you can do with it. I imagine that the majority of women would not be OK with having such pictures taken of them, without their consent. Or maybe I’m just a “weirdo” that should be photographed too?

But here comes the best part. After all this – all of this – comes this sentence:

If you want to take sneaky pictures of people without them knowing, this is the way to do it. Just don’t be creepy about it.

Excuse me?

Just don’t be creepy about it.

What?

Just don’t be creepy about it.

How…?

Just don’t be creepy about it.

But…

Just don’t be creepy about it.

You…

Just don’t be creepy about it.

No…

Just don’t be creepy about it.

WHAT?

This… Ok. Wait. You’re basically saying the following:

HEY GUYS: HERE’S A DOLL WITH ONE TORN EYE, COVERED IN BLOOD, AND EVERY FIVE MINUTES, IT WHISPERS “I AM BECOME DEATH, DESTROYER OF WORLDS” – YOU SHOULD TOTALLY GET IT. BUT DON’T CREEP PEOPLE OUT WITH IT!

You’ve designed a device that is the epitome of creepiness but telling people not to be creepy or invasive? How? What?

Throughout this, I’m not asking for this device to be banned – I don’t know what the ramifications will be. There is certainly an argument to be made if people/most likely women will be violated in their personal space. I can’t see what good reason there is to own such a device beyond mere “fun”. And yet such a minor benefit doesn’t measure up against potential harms that could occur, considering that anyone can own these.

I don’t know what the solution is. What I do know is that I want this device to have never existed; for such actions to not gain such support; for creepshots of women not to be part of advertising a device, without raising any concerns (for IndieGogo, commenters, etc.). I don’t pretend to speak for anyone, least of all women. And I’m not against adults wanting sexy pictures to be taken, to have it distributed – but that can be done with full consent and acknowledgment of such people as persons and them willingly doing so. But we should not be so casual or dismissive of people’s autonomy – especially when it comes to creating environment and scenarios where an invasion of privacy is treated as a joke and unimportant.

I apologise for frequent posts on sexism, but I they just seem to be in my radar. And I won’t have only supporters of creepy devices having their voices heard when it comes to such actions, behaviours, attitudes and items.