I took my little brother (who falls on the autism spectrum) to see Guardians of the Galaxy and after this scene he lit up like a Christmas tree and screamed “He’s like me! He can’t do metaphors!” And for the rest of the film my brother stared at Drax in a state of rapture.
So for the last 6 days I have heard my brother repeatedly quote all of the Drax lines from the movie verbatim (one of his talents), begin studying vocabulary test words, and tell everyone he knows that people with autism can also be superheroes.
Now I am not saying that Drax the Destroyer is, or was ever, intended to be autistic. All I am saying is that it warmed my heart to see my brother have an opportunity to identify himself with a character known for his strength, badassness, and honor. And that is pretty damn awesome.
So while I adored Guardians of the Galaxy as a great fun loving film with cool characters I can do nothing but thank Marvel Studios and Dave Bautista for finally bringing a superhero to the screen that my little brother can relate to.
The situation is just intolerable.
There have been a lot of really insightful write-ups recently. A broader perspective—and I almost cringe to say—catch-all by Molly Crabapple left me gasping for breath. This write up, by Elizabeth Sampat giving her thoughts on an industry that’s very dear to me, delivered the final blow and left me in tears.
It’s really rare that I create from a place of grief. It’s just not how I operate. But it’s largely what I have openly felt for the last few days, and reflecting on it, it’s been there for far longer.
This quote from Elizabeth’s piece— “We should have a war memorial for all of the women we have lost to this. We should lay flowers and grieve and see our reflections in stone.”— struck a very literal chord in me.
So yeah, here it is. A place just for me where I can light a candle and remember all of the wonderful people I probably will never get the chance to meet. Folks that have been driven away by these horrible fucks that have the audacity to think they know what gaming and community is about.
Here are the list and links to movies with Sir Robin Williams. If you like it, buy it.
- Mrs. Doubtfire
- Dead Poets Society
- Good Will Hunting
- What Dreams May Come True
- Good Morning, Vietnam
- Bicentennial Man
- Patch Adams
- The Angeriest Man In Brooklyn
- One Hour Photo
- Old Dogs
- The Butler
- August Rush
- Night at the Museum
- World’s Greatest Dad
A professional script reader read 300 screenplays for five different studios, all the while tracking the many recurring problems. The infographic he made with the collected data offers a glimpse at where screenwriting goes wrong.
pay attention to this
this is important even if you don’t write scripts
This is exceedingly important to all storytellers
Just sorta paused the video when the zaibatsu was having technical difficulties with the Sony stream, and I noticed THIS! THE LOOKS ON THEIR FACES!
I don’t think I’ve posted this yet - my piece for the Rookery anthology with some other just graduated SVA classmates. The theme of the book was myths and urban legends. I spent my childhood summers on an island in Nova Scotia, and I was always fascinated with seals, and, because of that, selkies.
Disclaimer: I have not made out with a seal. Yet.
Keke Palmer geting emotional in an interview with Raven Symone (x)
This is very important. I’m glad both of them had this moment. Raven has been working and grinding longer than most of us have been able to talk and walk. She deserves all the praises.
This week is coming early because I’m packing for PAX, and want to make sure something is here. Might try to have something up Friday, but not going to plan on having, or wanting to take the time.
This post was very stream of mind, so it might be a little scatterbrained, and it gets a little preachy at times, for which I will apologize here, but not amend.
The internet exploded last week. It exploded in a way that made me afraid to even talk about it. It exploded in a way that finally broke my acceptance of the internet being a “kinda shitty but whatever” place to be. It isn’t okay. The degree to which I wanted to shut off Twitter and Facebook and bury my head in a video game and pretend everything was okay was strong. “It doesn’t involve me, so I should leave it be” was a thought that started to make me angry. Not everybody gets the option to ignore what is going on, and I’m being really fucking stupid to think it doesn’t affect me. I’m being really fucking stupid to even try to ignore it.
People I care about, people who matter, are being attacked personally, publicly, and in horrific ways that nobody deserves. Threats of assault, murder, and rape. Not just to them, but being sent to friends, family, and business contacts via Skype, email, and phone. I wouldn’t know how to deal with that. I probably couldn’t.
Phil Fish took the time to stand up and say that the harassment Zoe was receiving was horrible, unfounded, and a sign of a systemic and terrible ecosystem we have. You could argue that his tone was less than productive, but everything reasonable was already being ignored. Anger was and is a natural response, particularly when he’s been through similar harassment in the past. Later his passwords, contacts, personal identification information was posted by hackers. (Supposedly including his SSN, and bank information.)
All for what? Standing up for a friend? Standing up for someone who is being harassed on levels that could very easily be prosecuted in a court of law? Now he’s guilty in a court of opinion to an extent that justifies destroying his privacy, potentially ruining his security? I can’t accept that. I’m scared to even talk about it though. I was scared to talk about it. Then I was numb to it. Now I find myself increasingly angry about it.
I was added to a Skype conversation by a hacked account, and after blocking the account and leaving, I was told in another chat that I was on a list of possible targets for hacking because I was someone who knew Zoe. Someone who was on the fringe of Zoe’s circles. I spent most of Thursday night making sure to change every password for every site I could remember having a password for. I made sure that anywhere two factor authentication was offered, I was using it. I did everything I could think of to make myself safe before even processing the sentence “you might be targeted.” That’s alright in video games. That’s alright in movies and TV shows where there are villains out to get revenge on someone. You might be targeted. What does that even mean? Why? What has been done that warrants hacking anybody?
I’m always paranoid about security, and I think I do a pretty good job of keeping my information and computer safe. It isn’t. I know that it isn’t. If someone who knew what they were doing really wanted to, I have no doubt whatsoever that the means to get in exist. I’m also not someone who is particularly worried about privacy, and I know that I would be very easy to find if someone really wanted to find me. I’ve never really been concerned about either, until this week.
I’ve never been concerned about them, because I assume that although people aren’t good, they should at least be reasonable. I now know that to not be the case. Beyond that, I’ve never done anything online that I thought would offend someone to the point that they’d wish to do me harm. Until this week. As it turns out, making something you care about is justification. As it turns out, having a name someone fairly involved in your area of activity would know is enough.
Even if someone believed every single thing that was posted about Zoe’s actions was true, would it call for threats of assault, murder, or rape? Would it justify calling Zoe’s parents, telling them you’re a manipulative slut, and that terrible things were going to happen to her? No reasonable, intelligent human being would say yes. No person interested in being logical, objective, or empathetic would even consider it. Which makes them the scariest kind of people. People who have stopped thinking. A mob mentality of unscaled blind rage, many of whom never took an issue with the subject on their own.
What is the stated justification given for these actions? For this hatred and harassment? Supposedly, the goal is to fight a “social justice agenda,” which is purportedly ruining video games. “Social justice,” an agenda of best characterized as one of tolerance, and inclusion, seems hard to argue against. An agenda of making games that aren’t bigoted which alienate our friends, family, and neighbors? I don’t see how that is a bad thing that hurts games. Particularly when the industry at large makes massive missteps while re-releasing the same titles they’ve been releasing for years.
The elephant in the room being that neither Phil, nor Zoe sought to change existing video games at all. They didn’t want to remove what was currently the status quo of games. Both found the games being made uninteresting, or incomplete, and went to make new games. They wanted to add something to video games. New perspectives, new insights and ideas. Nobody in the indie community wants to “take your games away.” Very few of us are actually trying to destroy video games, and it’s been a losing battle since everything went digital. Generally speaking, we either don’t personally care about ‘your’ games at all, or we play them and accept them for what they are. (Even if/when we disagree with failures to be sensitive to marginalized perspectives.) Very rarely will you see an actual deveper be anything worse than dismissive and uninterested in what seems to be “your games.”
Some people in the gaming industry at large may want to slightly alter “your” games to find a larger audience. Some people in the industry at large may want to tweak “your” games to stop making their own employees uncomfortable. Some people in the industry at large may want to harmlessly implement small changes to “your” games because it’s the twenty first century, and games still don’t reflect the current social order. For them it is a business. For business every sale is important. For that reason, every demographic needs to be targeted to some degree, or at least not offended.
I put “your” in quotation marks because they aren’t your games. Your ownership of them extends only to copies of the games you purchase.I left “their” out of quotation marks because I was talking about their games, which they made.
(I also only bring up the idea of profits under the assumption that this is being read by someone for whom “don’t be a complete inhuman asshole” isn’t enough reason. Or for whom being decent to other people doesn’t, or shouldn’t matter.)
Being offensive doesn’t make a game good. It doesn’t always make a game bad. It just makes it offensive. Being offensive, by default, makes at least some people disinterested in the game, or angry, or upset. The only people it makes feel better are, almost by definition, bigots. Making a player uncomfortable can, and should, be done in other ways. Otherwise you risk some players not being made uncomfortable by something that doesn’t offend them, and you’ve missed your mark.
As much as I’d laugh, accepting the dystopian world we live in, to see Ubisoft come out and thank everyone for getting the tolerant crowd out of the way, telling the hackers that they paved the way for an Assassin’s Creed game with all lady parts removed, I just don’t see it happening. You aren’t saving video games. You’re ruining the lives of people who feel like a lot of the games that exist don’t appeal to them. Maybe similar to how their games make you feel. The difference being responses. They went out and made something new. They went out and made a game that represented them, and anybody who felt the way they did. The people attacking them, hacking them, harassing them? They accuse the people they call social justice warriors of destroying video games, but they’re actually doing quite the opposite. While the campaigns of fear and threats of violence create an atmosphere that stifles the ambition and aspirations of current and future generations of game makers.
If you are fine with what AAA games were 5 years ago, then it’s a great time to be around. New versions of all the games that have been coming out forever are on the horizon. The eleventh CoD title is coming out in November, as is the eleventh Battlefield game. Assassin’s Creed will be the same again, except instead of just seeing and talking with female assassins, you might play one a little. That isn’t more than you’ve already done if you’ve ever played a Tomb Raider, or half the classes in Diablo. Was Metroid unacceptable to you the instant you found out Samus was a women?
If playing a female character, or a non-white character, or a gay character genuinely doesn’t work for you, then stay away from those games. Nobody will ever force you to play Gone Home, or Depression Quest. FEZ isn’t required consumption for citizenship, and no game ever will be. The number of games is increasing, your options and choices as to which games you play are increasing. The availability of the games you enjoy is not shrinking, just the percentage of the market they represent. They too are actually growing as well, in both popularity and selection. There are simply more games available that aren’t “your games.” This doesn’t hurt anyone. If anything, it helps everyone. It means games will be less stigmatized, more diversified. You might even find that you enjoy some of them.
Have you ever felt like somebody treated you differently or worse after you said you played video games? Have you ever left that fact out when talking to someone about what you do? Over the past decade games have become more and more mainstream, and it isn’t because they’re backwards thinking. It’s because the audience is growing. It’s because more games are being made by more people for more people.
If the concern was genuinely about journalistic integrity, the logical target for inquisition would be the journalists involved. The people who allegedly abandoned any sort of credibility in exchange for sexual favors. If reviews were changed for the better or coverage was increased for any favors, or any kind, the people who changed those reviews or coverage are the ones are the ones you should be questioning. They should be the ones you’re giving a reasonable, measured response to. If you feel the need to, boycott their articles, try to get them reprimanded or removed from positions in which they have misrepresented the people publishing their articles, or mislead readers.
Nobody ever goes to special interest groups with torches and pitchforks. They’re just a part of a fucked up system that we hate. No, we go to politicians. If they’re accepting any favors to push legislation, they get brought up on corruption charges, and step down from office in a whirlpool of shame. What’s different about our situation? Well, Zoe is a women. Which seems to make stupid people and bigots uncomfortable. Zoe has been harassed like this before, so maybe some people assume she’s the go-to target when we have a mob together and need to shout at someone. You’re complaining about the journalistic integrity of a video game developer based on accusations made by a scorned ex. (Which as a reader, you’re an idiot for accepting as a valid source for unbiased information. You know, if we’re going to take journalism seriously long enough to complain about integrity.)
While we’re being journalism nerds, in the interest of transparency on possible conflicts of interest, I figure I’m far enough in now to discuss my connections to Zoe and Phil.
There basically aren’t any. I’ve spoken with Zoe in a group of about seven people while playing DayZ shortly after Steam Dev Days. At the time, she was being harassed by someone from the industry who was making her incredibly uncomfortable, but for the most part we talked about what we were doing. Not the degree to which she was struggling with how to handle getting him to stop. Not the other, still present stream of harassment telling her to kill herself. No, we talked about how to find one another with hopes of not getting shot by other players, or eaten by zombies.
As for her game? For context, I was diagnosed with depression about twelve years ago, I’ve been on and off medication, still looking for one that works for me. I absolutely adore Depression Quest because when I tell people I have depression (which isn’t often, this is the first time I’ve even mentioned it publicly) I get one of two reactions. The most common is an awkwardness. Not knowing what that means, or suggesting incredibly offensive advice like “just don’t be sad” from a place of absolute ignorance. Alternatively, they will respond with an understanding variation on “oh, I’m sorry to hear that,” or “here’s what I went through or did.” Sometimes if really interested, they’ll ask if I’m taking something that’s working. At worst, a “X medication helped me a ton, you should take it.” The ladder responses used to be reserved for medical professionals, therapists, or other people who suffer from the condition.
Depression Quest changed that. I can now have get those responses from other people who previously didn’t understand the condition. People who played a game about a stigmatized, misunderstood, and often marginalized condition. I love that. It makes me feel safer talking about it, and I think that that is an massive, incredible, and important service that Zoe has done for people with depression. People like me. She took her personal experiences with the disease, and put them out for any interested party to experience. Let’s stop here for a second and recognize that that’s brave. That’s fucking insanely brave. She made some of the darkest times of her life as publicly available as possible and absolutely free. That’s incredible, and crazy to me.
Not everybody agrees with me, which is fine. Apparently by making a twine game about her personal experience with depression, Zoe is destroying video games. She is pushing her agenda on people who don’t want to hear it. She is somehow selling depression itself out. (Made more complicated by making the game free I imagine.) I always assumed that selling out meant you were making money. I always assumed that it’d mean you own a house, or have a car. I always assumed that it means changing your view or perspective, or broadcasting someone else’s ideas in exchange for something. I haven’t seen any of that from Zoe.
I’ve never met or spoken with Phil Fish. I still hope to at some point. Like most people, I know of Phil Fish. I do not know Phil Fish. I know he made a game, and was unapologetic about it. I know things he says are sometimes a bit more blunt than people like, which makes him seem abrasive to some. He made a game he thought was great. He made a game he was proud of, something he didn’t feel the need to apologize for or have regrets about. I think that’s fucking amazing. We exist in an industry where almost every creative person I meet is constantly apologizing for flaws, regretting shortcomings, and being full of self-doubt. Sufferers of imposter syndrome abound. I love seeing someone who doesn’t. Someone who can look in the mirror and say “I’m fucking good,” then look in a camera and say it again. I wish I could have that confidence.
He was in a movie about indie games. He opened by saying how he loved that video games were like the ultimate, and interactive, form of art and media. He said he wanted to be a part of it. He wanted to have a say in what becomes video games. In the movie, he is filmed during the most stressful time a developer can possibly have, trying to market a game while also going through a legal conflict with a business partner. He was stressed, and short tempered, and people seemed to view that not as a person being human, not as a person struggling to cope with an absurd situation, but rather as him being an asshole. Because that was the easier story to be comfortable with. He was an egotist that the internet wanted to hate, and they saw him bleed. Because we’re used to movies having villains, that’s what we turned him into. Seeing Phil Fish as a person who is struggling is uncomfortable, because when stretched thin and panicked, he looked vulnerable. Seeing real people in pain is uncomfortable. That’s called empathy.
“That’s not something I was counting on when I was dreaming of becoming independent, it was not an army of assholes online to not ruin my life, but make it all that much more… harder to enjoy.” -Phil Fish, Indie Game The Movie
Last week, he got angry about something everyone should have been angry about. Phil was enraged about racial conflicts coming to a head resulting in Ferguson. He was on his personal twitter account retweeting anything and everything relevant because Ferguson matters. This week when Zoe came under fire, he was on his personal twitter again, mad and vocal about how unacceptable the state of the industry is in. This makes Phil a “social justice warrior.” Somehow, wanting people to be treated respectfully or humanely requires its own “derogatory” term. It needs to be met with the same disrespect, and treated as a bad thing according to some backwater self-righteous corners of the internet.
What did Phil speaking his mind to people following him on his personal social media page(s) earn him? His private information, contacts, bank statements, and supposedly even his social security number, was posted online for anyone to download by hackers via his company’s twitter which was also hacked.
This is the environment we’ve allowed the internet to become. This is the environment that made me afraid of posting anything of significance last week. This is also the environment that made me force myself to write this. Earlier I thought “I don’t want to exist in this environment,” but I was wrong. I don’t want this environment to exist. I refuse to be too afraid of people who hide in anonymity to say or do anything.
I love thought experiments as much as the next person, but it is crucial to remember when we leave the realm of theory. Actual events are occurring to actual people, and somewhere down the line it became acceptable to ignore that. Devil’s advocate arguments are being thrown into actual faces of people facing horrible situations, regardless of what is being discussed, without taking into account any sort of consequence. No reasonable human being should ever start a sentence with “Rape isn’t cool, BUT…” Nobody should have to walk away from the internet because their safety, privacy, and identity were compromised by somebody “lashing out” against the ideals they posted on their own social feed.
The only reason someone would act this way is because they’re more interested in feeding their ego through “justice” campaigns, seeking not insight or understanding or middle ground. Instead seeking a win. Seeking relevance in a world that seems to loathe the relevant. It’s meaningless. It’s childish. It’s ignorant at best, and it’s malicious, harmful or bigoted otherwise.
What do you do online? Why? Where are you on that scale? Do you argue plausible cause, or missing details when Michael Brown is shot to death? Do you say we don’t know all the facts when Zoe Quinn’s father is called, and she receives more threats of violence and murder? Do you sit in your chair and think “well Phil does kinda seem like a prima donna” when his bank information, contact information and social security number are posted online? Where do you think you are on that scale? Are you alright with these things happening?
Can you exist in a space like this and still feel ambitious enough to try to make a game yourself? Stream video content? Post videos on Youtube? To write music? To make art? I really struggle with it. I don’t think I’m alone in that. I find it really sad to see people with voices that are listened to walking away shit like this because it “isn’t their place.” Because it isn’t relevant to their audience.
I can’t say I blame anybody for that though. Not truthfully. Having seen what happens when you speak up and people are listening to you on a grand scale, the very thought is petrifying. So maybe we’re to the point where we can’t count on our idols to take a stand. It isn’t safe for them to. Hell, it might not be “safe” for anybody to. Maybe that’s what needs to stop mattering to us.
If my words are going to antagonize one crowd, I’m fine with it being the one in the dark corner trying to scare me.
You can pretend all you want that what you’re doing it right, or that it doesn’t affect you, or that nobody wants your opinion on the matter. The fact is that you’re wrong if you think any of those things. The internet is a global community, and people acting like this? Thoughtlessly. Aggressively. It affects everyone. It doesn’t matter if you are someone who produces content, or someone who consumes it. This affects you, and the people who listen to you, or the people you listen to. Saying or doing nothing is tassid agreement that the current state of affairs is fine by you. It is tassid acceptance of an online ecosystem that I can’t imagine is actually fine with anybody. It’s just a question of when it becomes your problem. Why wait? Why let others fight your battle and take your licks while you do nothing to help them?
sorry white people but if you dont support mike brown & the people of fergusons’ protests in 2014 you probably wouldnt have supported abolition in the 1800s or civil rights movements in the 1960s & having the ability to recognize something as morally justified in hindsight something that has already been accepted by the mainstream as morally justified is nice for u but on all practical levels useless to everyone else
- Do not forget Michael Brown
- Do not forget how the media dehumanized him and tried to justify his murder
- Do not forget how peaceful protests were painted as savage riots
- Do not forget police armed with military grade weapons terrorized and arrested black civilians
- Do not forget Darren Wilson being awarded over $200,000 in fundraiser donations for murdering an unarmed black child
- Do not forget that this system was not built to defend us, but to control us
- Do not forget Ferguson