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For the record, porpentine is pretty much my feminist role model.
Her work completely subverts, inverts and retrofits just about every aspect of femininity in a way that’s radical, gloriously violent and supremely empowering because, not in spite of, its being feminine. She shoves her glittercoated spandex-clad postfuturistic cyborg grubmother identity down your throat, and you will love it.
Yet I’ve never seen her trying to shove what you should be down your throat, and any broadly sweeping statements she makes are presented in a deliberately playful way that allows you to co-create with her, and decide what you make of them. She’s interpretive art, not a textbook. She’s not about defining other people. She’s about defining herself, while providing a path for other people to seek joy. And she’s fucking marvellous.
Seven Perspectives on the Emoji ( ＾◡＾)っ✂╰⋃╯ by Porpentine
On emojicons.com/sadface it is known as the Lorena Bobbitt, named after the woman who cut off her husband’s penis after years of enduring his physical, mental, and sexual abuse.
It has the following tags:
bring a bag of ice
don’t mistreat women
A woman in her thirties is browsing the Internet. She sees the emoji, and it resurrects forgotten fantasies of gelding a teen boy. Driving hundreds of miles to meet a young buck who would let her take a hot knife to his manhood. She wonders why.
See Porpentine’s piece in the Emoji issue of Womanzine or click for more.
Freeware Recommendations (Twine edition)
Often, I find free games that are good, but for whatever reason do not warrant a full review. They may be too short or too prone to spoilers to review separately, but are still interesting and worth a playthrough. Occasionally, I like to do these with a theme - all of today’s picks have been made with the simple text game making software Twine! All are playable in your browser, so check them out:
Hidden Maze City (Mike Leisz & Miles Simon) - Those who know my taste in games know I value interesting above almost all else, and interesting is what Mike Leisz does. He and Miles Simon created this game for Porpentine’s Big Chaos Twine Jam. Going above and beyond the typical text-only stuff that most people make with Twine, these guys added distorted pixelated visuals and electronic music loops. Many Twine games are good stories, but have no traditional game elements, and this game reverses that. There are legit branching paths and win/loss conditions, but the story is more a series of images than a cohesive narrative. Overall, this is one of my favorite Twines yet. (Plus, honestly, any game with a reference to Outkast’s “ATLiens” is clearly worth playing.)
The Body of the Moon (footling summers) - This was also made for a game jam, but is much more traditional Twine fare. It is a choose-your-own-adventure story that allows you to traverse an alien, fantastical world in first person. There are definitely solid gameplay choices that you can make with this game, but I think its strongest aspect is imagery. The author was able to really put you there through it all, and there is a great sense of place that even some graphically advanced games can’t manage. I love games that aren’t just something I’ve done, but a place I have been, and that’s what this one is for me.
What’s in a Name (Gaming Pixie) - This one is the most linear of the bunch, and also the most personal. It is about the author’s experience discovering she is bisexual and dealing with a less-than-welcoming GLBT community. For those of us who have never had the pleasure, it is eye-opening, and the fact that she manages to get her experience across with humor and a minimal amount of snark is fairly amazing (I don’t know that I would have the same restraint). If looked at as a game, this one has shortcomings, but it is valuable as a mini-memoir and inspiration to others dealing with similar issues.
Legend of Frog (Porpentine)
“EVIL FROG MAGE TERRORIZES HAPLESS VILLAGE WITH INSANE MAGIC SPELLS
WILL NO ONE STOP HIM” — Feburary 25, 2012
Noyb’s remarks: “Dichotomous gameplay where the player first takes on the role of an evil frog wizard, then a civilian helpless to her magical wrath. Reversal of expectations: acting in the wizard’s best interests and choosing the more powerful fire spell makes the second act that much harder for yourself, a difficulty select screen fully situated within the world’s fiction. Mechanically, the second act is that old game of dodging random projectiles, but it’s worth powering through for the reward: fresh Porpentine prose.”
[antibesnice1562 is a quarter-centaur minivan siphoner from the Horrible Ice Zone.]
From Porpentine’s PorpyRPG random generator.
I picture a hooved thing swaddled in rags loaded with hose shuffle-galloping from one frozen vehicle hulk to another, trading frozen gasoline slurry for horseshoes and hotdogs
"7 Thoughts on Women in Games", by Porpentine
And trans people, and queers, and everyone else who feels this.
When I think of visibility, renown, people liking my work–the first thing that comes to my mind is that I have less chance of being doubted when I talk about abuse and harassment.
Less chance of suffering in silence.
I resent seeing everything as part of a power dynamic.
I resent this fixation on survival.
It dominates my vision, makes my eye sick.
Women are turned against other women.
I feel sick when I think about it. I second-guess every disagreement I have with other women. I wonder how to disagree with other women in a culture where we’re encouraged to bully and undermine each other.
I feel disgusted and ashamed.
Communities should demonstrate safety from the outside. It doesn’t matter how safe they are if their exterior doesn’t prove itself to people with previous bad experiences.
It was natural for me to approach the circle of interactive fiction. I made games with words in them. But there was nothing for me. I was poor, not middle class. I was queer, not straight. I wrote experimental hypertext, not traditional parser. I was a woman, not a man, and there were many of them, and one of me.
It was intimidating.
Once I did participate, by submitting my Twine game howling dogs, I got harassing emails saying making howling dogs was a “crime”. Some public reviews were angry, condemning, moralistic, censuring. At the same time, people like Emily Short reached out to me, talked about my work in a different light. I found other reviews that left me teary-eyed, in a good way.
The reality was more complex, both negatively and positively, than my fears.
The point is that I almost didn’t participate at all.
We should think about how permeable we are to outsiders, not just physically but emotionally.
Communities aren’t “just friends”. Sure, they’re often groups of friends based around a common interest, but when a community of friends overlaps or encompasses technical resources, they must take responsibility. We all have contextual power, even if we are marginalized in other ways.
The future of commenting is no-dignification, wordless deleting.
Avoid the fallacy of fair and balanced. Providing equal status to both sides of the issue is harmful when the other side hates women. That isn’t a stance, that’s violence.
In fact, don’t dignify anything that
They’re just radios mindlessly regurgitating the propaganda of their culture. They haven’t examined their own opinion. Why should you?
Women’s shit test for men (or any marginalized person’s shit test) exists for a reason. Don’t call it rudeness. Don’t call it arrogance. Call it intelligence.
When half the world is socialized to manipulate, despise, and step on you, one gets a little wary.
We’re sick of the false camaraderie that snaps and turns to rage, mockery, hurt feelings. Sick that all it takes to be betrayed is to assert the most basic tenets of our existence.
It feels fucking weird and queasy to try and smile along with someone you suspect has no stake in your reality and will toss you under the bus for any old reason. It feels terrible because you want to smile too. You want to get along. But you know better. You know they aren’t along for the long ride.
It would destroy us to encounter constant betrayal. We need a filter.
We weed out those who will hurt us. We preempt heartbreak.
The truth is many of us have great relationships and friendships with the proverbial straight white dude, and it’s because they earned a degree of trust instead of making a big deal about the fact that we’re acting on instincts finely honed by a lifetime of violence and harassment.
Don’t begrudge people their instincts.
Women in games.
We are a crucible.
It is not that we seek to fight, but that our existence as women making games, talking about games, and occupying the sphere of play in general, is a threat to power structures.
Women are told they mustdiefor making personal little games on their own time, for writing about their experiences, or simply for existing.
(Even our whispers, a small game or poem circulated among close friends, are deafening to these men.)
And when they are not told directly, they are made to feel like they want to die.
One of the greatest challenges of this time is not blatant misogyny (an easy target for outrage anyone can participate in) but the crypto-misogynist, whose fear is concealed behind language that sounds basically okay to everyone but the women it is intended to harm.
They’ve figured out they can’t call us bitches, so they resurface under a thin veneer of patronizing “civility”, neutralizing our energies with mindless, boring semantics.
They will find endless ways to intellectualize their discomfort.
They are terrified by our joy
They project that terror on our alien bodies
We become stewards of this terror, nurturing it off our own bloodstream, off the very air in our lungs
We become intimidated
Even doing basic work in the games industry, whether it be in a mainstream or indie capacity, becomes filled with chronic ambient terror
Those outside this terror dimension, by virtue of their privilege, do not see this terror
Why are the women agitated
Why is that woman so sad all the time
Why did that woman lose her job
Why did that woman disappear in a burst of ash
MUST HAVE BEEN LIGHTNING
This heightens our sense of unreality
The feeling that we are insane
That we are helpless to stop our punishment for being a woman that is our birthright and indeed our inevitable doom
Endless micro-aggressions and macro-aggressions pile up
Until our voices crawl back inside our bodies
And poison us
I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood. That the speaking profits me, beyond any other effect.
I was going to die, if not sooner then later, whether or not I had ever spoken myself. My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you.
We can learn to work and speak when we are afraid in the same way we have learned to work and speak when we are tired. For we have been socialized to respect fear more than our own needs for language and definition, and while we wait in silence for that final luxury of fearlessness, the weight of that silence will choke us.
When I read those words, I cried. I cried because I’d been afraid for so long. I cried for all the times I was too terrified to reach out to others.
I realized that I had been delaying my existence in a world where death exists.
The temptation, of course, is to horde the scraps of power we’re given, like a guard recruited from the prisoners standing watch over her fellow inmates, grateful to hold a gun in her hand, never even considering that she has agun.
Join your power with other women.
Fight for them.
Exercise your white-hot fierceness and free your fucking sisters from the silence, the doubt, the terror that they, that we, that I have fall into, time and time again.
I have never felt so alive as when another woman told me she would fight for me, that she would stand with me, that shebelievedme.
Bullets can’t read audience feedback forms.
Because the machine will try to grind you into dust anyway, whether or not we speak. We can sit in our corners mute forever while our sisters and our selves are wasted, while our children are distorted and destroyed, while our earth is poisoned; we can sit in our safe corners mute as bottles, and we will still be no less afraid.
The idea is to fight for our friends.
The idea is to fight for our not-friends.
We all project a bubble that extends x feet from our body in every direction and in that bubble we can have that better world any time we want.
There is no singularity, no utopia, just how you treat the people around you.
I don’t need assurances of survival.
I don’t need to know my actions will result in a perfect outcome.
It is enough to act, and in doing so, feel the sunlight on my limbs.
I basically want this plastered everywhere, so here it is on Tumblr as well; Porpentine’s “7 Thoughts on Women in Games”, a massively inspiring manifesto and call-to-arms.