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I really did not want to talk about GamerGate here. The whole thing is so deeply stupid that I don’t like dignifying it with words. Yet I am going to stipulate that by being pro-GamerGate, Fine Young Capitalists have- at least- internalized certain patriarchal assumptions that make them emblematic of the problem. That’s worth a look.

The two contrary impulses in Video Game writing are between “games as cultural artifacts” (also called “New Games Journalism”), and “games as consumer items”. Leigh Alexander does a pretty good job here summing up which side she’s on, and what the sides are. “GamerGate”, roughly speaking, is an attempt by people who prefer to think of games as something to consume to silence the voices of those who want to take a deeper look at games. They’ve had at least a small measure of unfortunate success.

The truly weird thing is the GamerGate perception that Feminism is a defining feature of New Games Journalism. It isn’t. The perception that it is, however, isn’t surprising, given our patriarchal assumptions. When the default assumption is a male voice, we notice the female voice far more than it actually happens:

Another study reported that a male science teacher who managed to create an atmosphere in which girls and boys contributed more equally to discussion felt that he was devoting 90 per cent of his attention to the girls. And so did his male pupils. They complained vociferously that the girls were getting too much talking time.

“Fine Young Capitalists”. The name invites comparison between capitalism and cannibalism. I can’t help but enjoy that. Then you see that they’re in favor of “GamerGate” and they believe that gamers need “kingmakers”.

So: they don’t realize they’re being silly. But usefully silly! They are silly in a way that illustrates a deeper problem. They are so deeply committed to games being consumer items that they can only think to write about games journalism to the extent that it is consumer education. Kingmaker. Singular. They see gates crumbling and are decrying the lack of gatekeepers. They are, ultimately, upset that they are being shut out of the kingmaking process.

Steam is slowly opening its’ gates to allow more games on the system. In the coming years, Steam will be transitioning to an open gate policy, or for their system to be seen as a platform for any game designer to host their game. This has the potential to cause another indie game crash as the market gets flooded and consumer’s can’t find the quality among the crap.

Fine Young Capitalists want to be Kingmakers, they want to be Gatekeepers. They think that without these things, Indie games will die, and AAA games might also go down. That’s…. that’s pretty much patriarchal thinking in a nutshell. The fact that they want to solve the “problem” of the crumbling of gatekeeping by appointing themselves the new gatekeepers is just a logical extension of the idea.

And then another approach:

To me, signal boosting is the most important thing you can do to spread work that doesn’t get to be shared on a regular basis.
This isn’t meant to be read as a grand political movement, but just to show appreciation to devs and critics who like to experiment with unique tools and concepts. People have been making alternative games for a very long time now, and I just wanted to create a bot that collected and curated them.

That’s a totally different mindset. It attacks the same sort of problem, but from a non-patriarchal place. It does not replicate the structures that don’t work for the problem she wants to attack, but instead approaches the problem of obscurity from a different direction.

The key, what makes it non-patriarchal, is that it isn’t exclusionary. It does not set up a “king of the hill” system that allows only a single winner. It allows for differences in tastes and opinions, or even moods.

It’s almost grown up that way.


The world ended. I still feel fine

Earlier this week, a coworker told me that he was trying to save money to get married. I congratulated him and asked if she knew yet. And then I stopped myself and said “er, her, right? Or him?”

I’m not always the most eloquent of people.

This coworker clarified that it was a lady, and then thanked me for pausing to make sure. We both sort of realized that heteronormativity is both easy to slip into, and a bit painful to be on the wrong side of. During the course of this conversation I learned that this coworker is the sort of christian who is waiting until marriage.

Let me be clear that I respect that choice. It’s not the one that I made, but I do respect it. And waiting until marriage to have sex is a choice, in the way that being gay is not a choice. That understanding is the reason American society has been rapidly swinging around towards acceptance of gay people as people- as fully human and deserving of all the happiness that life can bring. It’s that very understanding that lead a US District court to strike down a Utah law banning same-sex marriage.

I bet there are a lot of men in Utah tonight frantically looking for a suit in which to get married. I don’t mean to exclude the women from that sentence, but, well… 364 days ago today I was scrambling around San Francisco looking for a suit in which to get married. I found one, and a day later I said some vows, my lady said some vows, and our lives changed.

It was cold that night. Cold enough that I really did think it plausible that the world might descend into entropy the way crackpots were saying the Mayans had foretold. And I was happy enough to make jokes during the vows.

She married me anyway.

I can’t even say the way being married has changed me. I know it has, but when people talk about a “mystical union” they’re right. And today and tomorrow and for a long time to come, an entirely new group of people will feel that fierce joy that I have felt on being in a partnership with another human being. For the rest of our lives.

Mazel Tov

(But I’m the one who married Sorako, so I win.)


When you talk about destruction, Don’t you know that you can count me out.

There is a cancerous cult stalking our nation’s discourse. It is not the curse of ill conceived nazi analogies, though those are always great fun. Rather, it is the “journalistic” tic of false equivlence.

Let us understand what is happening in Washington DC today. While I write this, 97% of the US Federal government is shut down. Much of the remaining 3%- including the FBI and air traffic controllers- are being asked to work with only the hope of retroactive pay. As this is happening, we grow ever closer to a point at which the US Federal Government will need to pay certain bills, but not have the legal authority to borrow the funds to pay those bills.

These are two separate events. Either of them taken alone would be bad enough. The fact that they are occurring together is- like an earthquake during open heart surgery- a potentially catastrophic coincidence.

The debt limit thing is a bit hard to explain the details of, so let me be super simple. People are willing to lend us money because we have always paid them back. _Always_. When you have a reputation for always repaying your loans, people start being being willing to pay you for the privilage of loaning you money. Like as if you gave me a dollar today with the promise that tomorrow I would give you 99 cents back. That’s a fantastic deal. it exists because financial world craves solidity and order.

The sun goes down, the sun comes up, the US pays its bills. If the US government defaults on even one loan, it will be the first time in nearly 300 years it will have done such a thing. That would cause as much turmoil to the world financial markets as the sun stopping at midday would to human physicists.

So on one hand we have a Republican party that is willing hit the debt ceiling and not pay (some or all) our bills. And we have a Democratic party that really, _really_ does not want to do this. And similtanously we have a Republican party that likes the fact that the government is shut down, and a Democratic party that does not. And there, in that very second link above is Chris Matthews writing about how “both sides” need to give and take.

What president Obama and the Democratic party have decided- what all decent Americans should decide- is that paying our bills and having a functional government are not negotiable. They are certainly not bargaining chips. They are, in fact, the starting points of a functional American society. They are the sine qua non of any society. America has invaded other nations for less cause than defaulting on our loans would be giving, say, China.

Not to mention the global catastrophe that would happen if large banks/nations were planning on repaying their loans with the money they were expecting to get back after having loaned it to America.

We can argue- and should- about the things the government ought to do. We can even argue that it is wrong for the government to assume more than a certain amount of duties even if all the things we’d like it to do are wholly legitimate. But once we make protecting the existence of the government the responsibility of one party we begin a very short road to disaster. I’d like the media to be doing a much better job explaining this. This is a another problem we have, separate from the shutdown, the potential default, and conspiracy of math that makes the first two problems almost inevitable.

The difference between this problem and the others is that we can ignore Chris Matthews until he stops being so fucking stupid.


Winding the Clock Nine Times

You will be assimilated-- in a sexy dance number

You will be assimilated-- in a sexy dance number

From the first moment I saw 1776, I have been in love with musicals. It was as if reality could involve people spontaneously break out into choreographed song and dance routines. As if our world were too big to be as mundane as we live it. Naturally, I had to see a film adaptation of Nine. And naturally I began to compare it to the stage version. It was irksome to discover favorite songs truncated or left out entirely. It was bizarre to find only eight women, and I believe it was mentioned* that the child was eight and a half.** With all this in mind, I think it’s obvious: this movie is not an adaptation of the stage performance at all. Rather, it’s the best film adaptation yet of the book Tristram Shandy. To start with, they’re both gratuitously about sex while straight-facedly claiming to be about anything else.*** Shandy claims that the story is about his own life, but can’t seem to advance the plot all the way to the moment of his birth. Nine is supposed to be about a Great Artist’s struggles to make a movie, but instead gets stuck talking about his childhood. The life and struggles for both protagonists are set when they are too young to exert much– if any– influence over that path. Those are pretty surface level events, however. Structurally, they both do things with the format that are simply not done. For Shandy, this means creating space within the book to jump between time periods– often these jumps happen within a page. The phrase “winding the clock” came to be very dirty over the decade in which it Shandy was published. The book itself, however, wound revolved around a certain set of events, which didn’t quite climax with the birth of the author. See how I said that again, but slightly dirtier? That’s how the book goes. Rather than being a book about a subject, in many ways it’s a book about the act of… being a book. Nine plays with the structure of film. Remember what I said yesterday about film not being capable of showing the interior life of a subject? Well, that was a thumping lie. What Nine does brilliantly is use music to illustrate the thoughts of the subjects. Contini is not literally sitting with his mother, he is imagining what that conversation might be like. His thoughts are not life-like, but rather larger than life. Musical. Contini states that it is his ambition to get ideas out of his head and onto the screen with as little “talking about it”
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as possible. This is a musical based on a play based on a movie about making a musical. It is about the very structure of ideas itself. In that, it is a very worth adaptation of Stern’s masterwork. *I could be wrong about this, my date noted it and I did not. **This would, of course, be a reference to the original film 8 1/2 on which the stage production of Nine is based. *** Wait a minute, you’re asking, is Nine any good? I’ll cover that in a footnote**** ****Nine was a musical involving half-naked ladies singing how much they want to get laid. That’s going to be enjoyable pretty much no matter what.


It’s been a little while…

I think I’ll remind us all of our mission statement: Smart people having fun. Enjoy a video…

See more funny videos and funny pictures at CollegeHumor.

Political Machine

Stardock has come out with a new game. It’s called Political Machine

It’s a turn based resource management game where the object is to win the US presidency. You do this by pandering to the public, begging for money, and giving speeches. It is a surprisingly fun game for one built around electoral math.

You get to build and control a bobble head-like avatar in a bunch of different scenarios. Wanna win the Election of 1860 and prevent the civil war? Go forth! The election of 2008 is the main feature, and there are a couple others. I’ve been fighting the ’08 battle as me, slagging the evil Republican U.S. Grant. Not the real grant who knew that fighting terrorists was a police job. The fake Grant who wants to rape our environment. Also, he hates the economy. At least, that’s what I’m telling people…

The only real criticism I can offer is that it’s not always clear what buttons do. Why should I want to take out an attack ad vs one lauding my own stances. What do some of the icons mean? Why can’t I put together a web machine to pull in money automatically? I may be able to mod some of these things into the game :)

It’s US$20, so even if you only get a few hours of entertainment out of it, it’s a better bet than a movie. I highly recommend the game. Now, if you’ll excuse me, Grant has just gained 6pts in 3 weeks and pulled even with me. Should I go after independents? Or try to win over my base? We’ll see…


A missed opportunity

I have a can of coke on my desk, and on one side of the can the logo appear to read “Koka-Kona”. The fine print below the logo reads:

1 OF 5
In Russia, Coca-Cola uses this logo. Inside, enjoy the same create taste. Experience the world at mycoke.com

Am I alone in thinking it should read:

1 OF 5
In Russia, Coca-Cola logo uses YOU!



Cyanide and Happiness, a daily webcomic
Cyanide & Happiness @ Explosm.net

(click for larger)


I love living now…

I saw something funny on overheard in New York. Then I was all “awkward turtle”??

So Urban Dictionary to the rescue!. Which was helpful, but not as helpful as it might have been.

So I turned to Youtube to really figure it out.

Human knowledge at your fingertips. Hitchhikers guide indeed…


It’s good to see I’m not the only one this happens to…

more cat pictures

Seriously, my cat (Janus) loves to attack the printer. I’ve actually taken to unplugging it so as to keep him from inadvertently printing stuff.