My current anime obsession. I thought I could get away with just posting this, but I find myself with things to say about it.
In an alternate timeline, if WWF wrestling had had slightly more coverage in the Netherlands in the mid-eighties, rather than being banished to the post-midnight slot on Superchannel/Sky Channel, I would’ve become a wrestling nerd rather than a comix nerd. This video gives a great example of the appeal of wrestling when, as everybody knows, it isn’t real. Starring some people you may recognise.
I am the protagonist in my own life, in my own story. I am not anybody’s sidekick.
Neither are my characters. Neither are they.
I have now, thankfully, gotten over the knee-jerk reaction that every axis I assign to a character off the straight white able-bodied American male (etc) is somehow an additional layer of disbelief I’m asking my audience to suspend. That I must justify these choices. If I ever feel that urge, I remind myself I am a perfectly realistic person, someone whose birth needed no special reason.
And I do not need anyone’s permission to be a hero.
For me personally, though I really don’t lack for characters with my sort of face, having more diverse, more realistically diverse characters in my fiction is only a good thing. The world really doesn’t need many more white men in its stories. Indeed, one of the reasons why I liked Huang’s Zero Sum Game and Half Life was that the protagonist looks nothing like me. One of the things that GamerGate and the Sad Puppies get so wrong is thinking that diversity is that nobody can actually enjoy reading or playing a character that isn’t exactly like you, when for many of us that’s actually the point.
For an idea of what I want to see more of, Chris Schweizer drew epic badasses from history for Black history month. Until science fiction and fantasy can show a similar list of awesome characters, there’s work to be done.
That sometime in 1970: The Beatles fired Allen Klein and somehow came upon an agreement of how to run Apple Records, allowing the band members to separate the music from the business, the chief destruction of the band being averted; with the success of “Here Comes The Sun” and “Something” and an amazing back-catalog of unused and new songs, George successfully campaigns for an equal share of his own songs to be featured alongside the Lennon/McCartney originals (with the compromise that Linda and Yoko are allowed in the Beatles’ inner circle if need be); pleased with Phil Spector’s work remixing Let It Be, The Beatles opt to have him produce the bulk of their recordings throughout the 1970s (despite McCartney’s reluctance); John agrees but wants to elaborate on the stripped-down and live-band-sounding arrangements, as revisited in the Get Back sessions from the previous year, but at least for his own compositions written from his Primal Scream therapy sessions; Ringo was, as always, just happy to be there.
One of the things that distinguishes the serious music nerd from the serious music nerd is that the former spends a lot of time and energy not just imagining what if the Beatles hadn’t split up, or what if Syd Barrett hadn’t had his breakdown, but actually create imaginary albums from timelines in which these things did happen. I’ve only discovered this blog the other week, thanks to MeFi, but I’m seriously considering whether it would be eligible for a fan Hugo, because does seems to be the purest form of fannish alternate history making.
Game developer Brianna Wu has been stalked, tormented, and harassed by GamerGate—the amorphous reactionary movement centered around video game journalism—for months now. But it’s never been as frightening as it was this weekend—when she watched a terrifying video made by a deranged fanatic who claims he crashed his car on the way to her home. “I’m worried my husband and I are going to die,” she tells me.
On the one hand it’s tempting to laugh at a wanker like “Jace Connors”, who embody all the stereotypes of the Internet Hard Man, up to and including saying was in the navy SEALS but still has to drive his mom’s car, but it becomes less funny if you’re the intended victim of this wackadoodle. A bit like ISIS has done in the Middle East, GamerGate is providing angry losers with an “ideal” to harass, threaten and possibly kill for, a direction for their rage. Most of it is sound and fury signifying nothing, but there only needs to be one loon who’s slightly better organised than “Connors” to create a tragedy.
And judging from this incident, it is not an idle worry. These people are tapping out of the same reservoir of rightwing anger that e.g. anti-abortion activists are drawing from. There are a lot of angry, confused young men who’ve latched on to GamerGate or similar causes in other parts of nerddom *cough* Sad Puppies *cough*, who are clearly comfortable with harassing women on Twitter in the worst possible ways and who are only one step away from continuing that harassment offline.
So well done.
Richard Cobett talks about Bioware’s continuing evolution of sex ‘n romance in their games:
With each game though, Bioware has gone out of its way to Do Better, and not always by heading down the obvious path. Dragon Age 2 for instance infamously made all of its romanceable characters (the entire party save for Varric and Aveline) bisexual so that any player would be able to get with anyone they wanted. Dragon Age Inquisition and Mass Effect 3 reverses that approach, deciding that sexuality is an important part of the characters and that it can be as jarring for everyone you meet to be an option as to be politely refused. Some characters are still bisexual. Most now have their preferences, with Dragon Age expanding on gender to factor in species as well. Qunari especially seem limited in who they can give the horn.
From a Watsonian, in-game point of view I can understand this, but from a Doylian, gamer point of view I’d rather the gaming world did reshape itself around my romance preferences. One of the greatest disappointments coming to the Mass Effect series years after everybody else and hearing so much about the incredible romance options –some of which may have been sarcasm, in hindsight– was finding out that actually, my options as Femshep were either Kaidan, the Dullness that Walks Like A Man, or Liara, with no options to woo Garrus, let alone Ashley. From a game playing point of view, for games like this, I’d like the option to romance everybody, even if this doesn’t make that much sense from within the game world. I don’t want the game to decide for me who is and isn’t romanceable, just like I don’t want the game to do decide what I look like.
That’s the whole point of open world RPGs like the Dragon Ages, Mass Effects and Elder Scrolls after all, that freedom to create your own character within the larger storyline. Freedom of romance fits in with that.
And no, the idea that everybody you romance has to be bisexual if you can romance them in both your female and male persona is wrong, though an understandable error. It’s just that in one leg of the trousers of time Ashley happened to be gay, in another straight…
Privilege is also, not having to worry about shit like this when going to conventions:
How the fuck is it that my Friday night Comic Con experience is hijacked by me doing the math on if I could get to my car with a giant, cartoonish sword strapped across my back? Why is this something that concerns me at all? It sure as hell didn’t concern the cool white dude who showed me his Levi-blade earlier. If I ran into him again and if he asked me if I picked one up myself, I wouldn’t know how to tell him about my reluctance to open myself up to possible harm. I wouldn’t know how to engage him on a level that says, “I’m glad we met and share an affinity for this same piece of art, but because I’m black and aware of the world around me, I don’t feel comfortable indulging myself at the same level you do.” It’s a tough conversation to have. It’s a tougher situation to articulate. It’s toughest though, just trying to live with that doubt in your head.
So GamersGate. A bunch of petulant man children from the open sewer of the internet got roped into some creep’s crusade against his ex-girlfriend under the banner of “objective gaming journalism”, spewed the usual mix of rape and death threats against her, but Zoe Quinn, their intended victim, turned out to be smarter than the lot of them and had infiltrated their main planning channel for weeks. These losers are still sputtering on, the 101st chairborne brigade fighting a losing war against the forces of social justice on blogs and Twitter, a tweet too far.
What kind of lame company would let themselves be roped into their campaign and feel pressured to withdraw advertising from a gaming site just because they say so? Intell, that’s who:
GamerGate’s ballyhooed success with Intel reveals them to be a movement for “journalistic integrity” that is willing to use major corporate sponsors to dictate the editorial content of a website for no reason other than the fact that they disagree with it. As a “consumer revolt,” it has shown itself to be a neoliberal nightmare wherein large corporations are the heroes and plucky independent journalists are the “elite” villains who need to be toppled.
(Incidently, the habit of Feministing here to blank out the Twitter accounts sending death threats in their screenshots but not those of the victims of said threats is mildly annoying.)
By giving in to blackmail, Intel has enabled the most whining, dumbest and aggressive part of videogaming “culture” to terrorise more women and the websites that publish them, in exchange for much more negative p.r. than it would’ve had, had it refused to play ball. The LoserGaters are a noisy and obnoxious part of gaming, but they’re only a minority. Normal people, sane people, want nothing to do with them.
Wings of Saint Nazaire is “a retro space combat sim in the vein of Wing Commander and X-Wing” and the alpha version can be played right now if you have unity installed in your browser, or downloaded in Linux, Mac or Windows versions. X-Wing and Tie-Fighter were games I played a lot as a kid and a new space sim like that would be welcome indeed.