Link Roundup: February 2024

Bloodless Board Games, Covert Colonialisms | Strange Matters – Kyle Flannery analyzes colonialism in a variety of euro-style board games, from Settlers of Catan to Spirit Island and Root.  Really great article.

We are huge fans of Spirit Island, which is not just a thoughtful response to the colonialism extant in its genre, but is also a top tier strategy game purely on merit.  That said, the game should hardly be the final word on anticolonialism in board games, and has its share of thematic issues.  My husband remarked that because the game is focused on the narrative of an indigenous group fighting back against colonists and winning, it needs to give them tools that they did not have in real life.  In this case, the tool they have is aid from magical spirits (aka, the players).  The natives themselves are left with relatively little agency.  (I do think the article exaggerates how much the spirits actually kill the natives though.  By design, you never want to kill them.)

Was I Rejected from Jury Duty for being too smart? | Rebecca Watson – Rebecca Watson looks into the common contention that critical thinkers often get booted from jury selection.  It seems that lawyers might sometimes block jurors for being “smart”, but rather than being a systematic thing, it’s a strategy they might use for certain cases.  For what it is worth, I’ve served on a jury before, and was surprised by the high level of education among the other jurors.

Behavior screens off mental illness | Thing of Things – It occurs to me that not everyone is familiar with the concept of screening.  Colloquially, to screen off means to separate a part of a room with a screen, and maybe that’s what Ozy means here.  However, in physics, there’s something called electric field screening.  If you have an electron in a material, the charges in the surrounding material will react to the electron, causing it to be surrounded by a cloud of positive charge.  So for practical purposes, the electron’s charge is smaller than what it would be in a vacuum, and so we say that the electron’s charge is screened.  In this metaphor, knowing that someone is mentally ill might give cause to distrust that person–in a vacuum.  But we’re not in a vacuum, and we tend to know a lot more about people besides the mere fact that they have a mental illness.  A person’s behavior is a far stronger predictor than knowing that they’re mentally ill.

Anyway, like 1 in 5 people have mental illness, so it’s really not strong predictor of anything.  You know, people talk about blaming mass shootings on mental illness, but… there are like 100,000x more people with mental illness than mass shooters, so congrats you’ve just constructed a test that identifies shooters with 0.001% precision at best.

On Patreon, and the Taming of Erotic Game Development | BP Games – In the past, erotic games have lacked pathways to monetization, which left them in the realm of solo passion projects.  Patreon has changed the landscape by allowing monetization, although this leads to many of the games following a “live service” model, where they need to constantly provide updates with new erotic material.

Kimba the White Lion | YMS (video, 2:23 hours) – I’ve heard accusations that The Lion King copied Kimba, but I never had any idea what Kimba actually was, or what was copied.  Apparently these accusations are based on lies.  A lot of the “evidence” is cherry-picked from the sprawling 60-year history of the Kimba franchise, including clips that postdate The Lion King.  YMS reviews several Kimba TV series, and it’s clear that not only is it very different from The Lion King, but it’s also a bizarre franchise by modern western sensibilities.

Gacha Drama and the Korean Gender War | The Moon Channel (video, 47 min) – Moony discusses a drama emerging from the Korean gaming community, where the gacha reward images of a certain female character were insufficiently sexualized by gamer standards.  They pinned the blame on some random female employee, alleged to be a radical feminist, and they campaigned to get her fired.  It hit national news and became a whole thing.  Moony uses this to motivate a discussion of Korean cultural history, and explain why gender relations in Korea are particularly heated.

I love getting external perspectives on these feminist dramas, because it’s like looking at ourselves, but different.  This drama sounds so familiar, like this exact thing has happened multiple times in the gaming community.  Wasn’t that basically Gamergate?  And I just saw this other video about people blaming all the problems with Fallout’s writing on one writer, based on practically nothing.  You don’t really need to understand Korean Neo-Confucianism to understand what’s going on, because the same stuff occurs without any Confucianism at all.  On the other hand, it’s interesting to learn about Korean cultural history, and to imagine what our own cultural wars might look like from an external perspective.

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