During my early days as an undergrad, while in a conversation about some of the summer projects I was working to set up, one of my professors made the comment that she hoped when her daughters got to my age that they turned out just like me. She meant it as a compliment, which is why she was clearly taken aback at my involuntary and absolutely horrified response of "dear God, why? I wouldn't wish that on ANYBODY." To be fair, I knew what she was getting at. My friend was referring to someone who tried new things, stayed involved, worked hard, and was always seeming to push forward. The one who didn't adhere to the traditional way of thinking, who shot creativity from her fingertips and rallied the people around her to achieve amazing things. In other words, the person a lot of people told me I was and the person I wanted to be. But what she didn't (and realistically couldn't) take into account was to get to that point, one has to overcome the cacophony of thoughts, values, insecurities, motivations, and outright neuroses crammed into the six inches between their ears. And my head is only five inches, so you can imagine it feels a bit more crowded. Then add to that the external factors and baggage that trigger the aforementioned cacophony, and the discussion gets a little more interesting.
I've been thinking a bit recently on current events in the gaming industry. Perhaps it was the mandatory workshop led by Mysti, our amazing HR lead, but my eyes have been opened. We've been wrong about this all along, and today is the day we rectify it. You claim to demand disclosure and transparency of potential bias due to personal or material connections to a game/product by promoters or critiquers. You may think this improves the industry and gives an even playing field for both indie and AAA games, but do you know what you're really doing? You're literally killing puppies. Although Mysti is a cat person, she said we can no longer support this type of behavior, as it is NOT okay. As such, RCM moving forward will be against any forms of disclosure that could trigger someone to kill said puppies. Think about it. Disclosure is harmful. Why else would PR firms representing video game publishers make journalists and popular YouTube personalities sign Non-Disclosure Agreements when getting early access to a game? Clearly disclosure is harmful to the industry (and the puppies). Demands to focus on a pro-consumer review of games/movies/books/etc will be met with mockery from this point forward, because consumers are so last decade. The playability of a game based on such mundane things as game mechanics or potential glitches is clearly supporting the social construct known as gravity, which is currently plaguing the gaming industry and the planet at large. We at RCM want to instead focus solely on the evolution of this work of art and the implications it has moving forward on society. What was the developer thinking when they put the holster of that weapon on the right side instead of the left? Clearly it was a statement against left-handed people, and we are not going to allow them to get away with this kind of irresponsible behavior, because it's clearly marginalizing.
In which the Baroness explains life philosophy through the medium of RPG video games and simultaneously tries to smash Hax's record for most footnotes in a single front-page article offering. ***** So I turn thirty-one this week.
There's been a lot of negativity centered around gaming and "gamer culture" of late, some of it justified but most of it not. Rather than continue fruitless arguments about why objectivity is important and that gamers consist of more than just socially-repressed tech nerds and violent frat boys, I thought it might be a nice change of pace to talk about some of the positive aspects that have come out of video games and the people who play them. A couple months ago, as I was working on a writing project and listening to the shenanigans of my friends playing Artemis, it struck me how much they were able to accomplish in a short amount of time just by working together. The thought wasn't all that revolutionary – teamwork is a key component to the success of any group, and especially in games like Artemis (where the entire point is to work together to pilot a star ship). So it follows then that having good teamwork skills can make you a better gamer, but does that necessarily mean that being a gamer can make you a better team player? While the logical part of my brain wanted to say "yes" to my question and help amplify the positive aspects that come out of game play, I didn't want to just run to the Google and toss out whatever opinion pieces justified my argument. Fortunately, there have been plenty of studies over the past several years that not only support the idea that gamers exhibit better teamwork skills, but also that gaming can help build certain social skills, problem solving, and decision-making abilities. For example, two separate academic studies, one in 2008 from the University of Sunderland (UK) and another in 2014 from Brock University (Ontario, Canada), showed evidence that violent video games can help improve teamwork skills. The 2014 study focused on an experiment where two groups of students were invited to play Call of Duty: Black Ops on a mode where players shoot and kill zombies. While each group was actually playing with fellow students, one group was told they "they were playing with a student at the University of Buffalo, just across the border, which was false."
A couple of weeks ago, while working on writing projects and half-watching the football playoffs with Baron, I looked up from my laptop just in time to see Freddy Kruger stab through a box of Chicken McNuggets before offering the tasty morsels to a machete-wielding Jason Voorhees. The act of kindness is repaid with Jason pulling an open sauce dipper out of his pocket like a dude presenting an engagement ring to his lady, then the scenes transitioned with hearts floating through the air while girls sing the word "love" in the background. Rubbing my eyes, the next scene was Mario offering a FireFlower to King Koopa, followed by the Democrat donkey and the Republican elephant hugging, a knight in shining armor presenting a soft-serve cone to a dragon, and Wyle E. Coyote blowing up a box of love at the Roadrunner. I was dazed and confused by what I saw. What I'd caught was part of McDonald's new TV spot titled "Archenemies," which the company is calling an evolution of the I'm Lovin' It campaign "by introducing a new platform that puts more focus on lovin'." Basically, the idea is that life-long enemies become good friends by the sharing of McDonald's food – interesting idea, and I'll admit there have been a few occasions where the presentation of a Quarter Pounder with cheese has prevented me from slugging someone who deserved it. My problem with it is the pairings they chose and how the "sharing" was presented: of the seventeen pairings of "archenemies," the majority were very distinctly guy-centric and targeted at my generation. That's not surprising – we're in charge now, and guys are more apt to grab fast food on the go, so that's an understandable audience. What bothered me about it was that they took these classic pairings of good versus evil, iconic things that meant something to most of my guy friends growing up, and pissed all over them in the name of love and harmony. I mean, OF COURSE Pacman and Blinky will meld into a giant heart-flower on contact, because heaven forbid we allow conflict to intrude on our world of unicorns and rainbows. What's more is that with all of the pairings, only two of the seventeen has the "bad guy" of the pair reaching out to the "good guy"; in one, The Wicked Witch of the West takes Dorothy on a broom ride and posts selfies to commemorate the occasion, and the other features the Joker making a balloon animal for Batman (which I maintain is really a distraction for some nefarious plan because we all know the Joker is a psychopath). Seriously, I'd buy into the Freddy/Jason bromance before I ever believed Batman and Joker would share a Coke together. So in essence, it's almost always the good guy bending over to make things happy and sunshiny. And that really pissed me off. But not as bad as the next ad that came up.
Deededee blew a stream of smoke off to his right, watching it dissipate quickly into a small whisp before resting his cigarette down against the ash tray at his computer desk. On his left monitor was the image of teh_leet_haxor through their video conferencing system, and on the right his Tweetdeck window was in motion with various tweets and trends he had been following. One in particular had a dedicated column: #findbio "So you're telling me that Elmo or 'Da Bark Lurd' or whatever the hell he wants to be called posted a video holding Bio hostage?" he asked. "In short, yes. On our own YouTube account of all places. The wankers also got into the website somehow and compromised my account just to set up an account for him. It's personal, now." teh_leet_haxor replied with an annoyed tone.
Why GamerGate and others like it need to be a continuing conversation I want to start off by sharing a story I think helps exemplify exactly how I feel about GamerGate and similar controversies, and why they're so important. Bear with me for a minute. In the spring of 2002, during my senior year of high school, we had an incident that nearly brought the school to riots. Three girls in the senior class decided to write and distribute a "slam book," a piece of work where they listed out a number of the seniors by name and wrote the most malicious rumors they could come up with. For example, girls weren't just called sluts or whores; those statements were accompanied by specifically who they were allegedly sleeping with and what specifically they were supposedly doing. Gay or questioning students were targeted and humiliated. Guys were accused of date rape. I'm talking ridiculously damaging stuff. Even in a world that was pre-Facebook or Twitter, somebody decided to make a bunch of photocopies and word spread like wildfire.
I have never considered myself a "gamer." Despite my generation being the first one that really grew up with gaming consoles being mainstream, and the fact that between my parents' houses we had several different systems over the years, it was never something I really got into. While my brother and sister fought over who got to be Player 1 and who was relegated to Player 2 (spoiler: my brother was the youngest and my sister punches left), I was busy reading or constructing ridiculously detailed architecture out of LEGO bricks. As we grew up and they progressed from SNES to Sega Genesis to the Sony Dreamcast, N64 and beyond, as my friends got various other consoles to experiment with and formed their own unique gaming identities, I always stayed on the peripherals of the gaming world. I was aware of the new systems as they came out, knew the advantages and disadvantages of the different systems specs, appreciated the advances to game art and playability as the technology advanced, understood the bitches and nerdgasms players had with each of these things, but with the exception of my well-known and admittedly unhealthy obsessions with the Sims, I wasn't actively gaming, so I was not a gamer. Or was I? The common misperception of the gaming culture, espoused as it is by the ridiculously vocal minority (let's call them 'anti-gamers'), is that it's a cast of socially awkward male misfits, usually late teens to early adults, who wear taped glasses, live in their parents' basement, and drink nothing but Mountain Dew. They don't have girlfriends, unless you count the waiku pillows. If they play shooter games, they're violent and repressed. They have no life outside of gaming and trolling the internet. And of course, the real reason they're upset about the Australian Target stores pulling GTA V from the shelves is because every single one of them wants to oppress women. Don't let them fool you with that censorship nonsense. They're geeks at best, miscreants at worst. Don't let them near your children.