Refining the analogy in Scalzi’s “Lowest Difficulty Setting”: The Experience Privilege

I’m still crazy busy with work, pulling week after week of overnights, but I happened to have a night off last night (shock horror!) and could finally sit down to write. So, I know you folks would completely understand that I would have to talk about this post as soon as possible, didn’t you? I talk quite a bit about both video games and privilege, so this is my particular bailiwick.

John Scalzi apparently pissed off a lot of straight white males (not to mention the cis-gendered!) by pointing out that, despite their individual lots in life, they are in fact playing on life’s easiest difficulty setting — the playing field is significantly tilted in their direction regardless of how well off they, individually, are.

The analogy is a relatively good one, but the major flaw with analogies is that if they are not perfect, some asshat will come along and point out how the analogy differs, until you are left with building an “analogy” that is essentially the whole situation described in exacting detail. At which point, you are not making an analogy at all, and these same asshats would nitpick at details they don’t feel are true regardless of the preponderance of evidence that they are.

So, for you video gamers, I’d like to sharpen up this analogy somewhat, but not to the point where it is an exact analogue — I’m sure there’s still room for improvement.

Instead of a World of Warcraft style game, with a first-person shooter style four-point sliding scale of difficulty, let’s use a deeper, more fully-realized world, like that of the Elder Scrolls. One where the difficulty setting is actually fixed for everyone, because everyone faces the same laws of physics. The difficulty is thus entirely contained within the confluence of your birth circumstances and where you happen to be adventuring.
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There are no dragons in space

I’ve got about a dozen maddening things I want to write about, almost no time in which to do any of it, and a fairly full day ahead of me today (as with yesterday). So, here. Something awesome instead. Valve (yes, Valve!) created an official Skyrim mod, available on Steam for the PC version. Wonder what happened to the Space Core after being sucked out into space at the end of Portal 2? Well, he’s apparently shielded enough to survive reentry… on another planet.

Says a bunch of unique stuff like “Archery? Hmm. Smithing? Hmm. Don’t need ‘em. Go to space. Only skill you need.” Also, you can apparently use the Atronach Forge to build a unique helmet, and you can return him to space with the help of a giant.

Yes, seriously.

Obama: Dragonborn

I can’t believe I missed this the first time around, when it was edited for the Tonight Show. And I can’t believe that, despite the meme being essentially “something gets moved violently, overdub Fus Ro Dah”, that it manages to make me laugh most of the time.

It was edited from this meeting — check 10 seconds before the end of the conference for how it actually went down. That’s some damn good video editing up there, I have to say.

The Dragonborn Comes

I used to be a blogger like you, then I took a server to the knee. Work has well and thoroughly kicked my ass. Six straight 12+ hour days, many of them 16 hours, two of them full-on graveyards, , and I am nothing short of exhausted. Really hoping I’ll be able to get back into the blogging groove sometime tomorrow.

In the meantime, have a damn cool Skyrim bard cover by Malukah, who is good enough to provide this song free at her website.

Of Skyrimming, overzealous Christianity, and reading comprehension

One of my absolute favorite theist parody sites is ChristWire. They are, for all intents and purposes, a proving ground for Poe’s Law. There, the most ridiculous parodies of fundamentalist or evangelical Chrsitian reactions to everyday occurrences or aspects of pop culture are mimicked to such a high degree that, all too often, real Christians believe the parody and act according to their consciences.

In this case, ChristWire took aim at the recent Bethesda game Skyrim.

Right off the bat, the gay supporting software company Blizzard, shows the player images of decapitations and after the third of forth head chopping, a necromatic dragon appears and sets the player free from righteous punishment. Now that the player is free, they will spend the next 400 hours robbing people, killing villagers, crafting sexual items, fornicate with elves and other Harry Potter style animals and also learn how to conjure up black magic.

Emphasis mine.
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