I tried this one without the cell shading, but it doesn’t look as much like a propaganda poster as some of the older ones. We’re getting closer to finding that art director, but there’s still time if anyone is interested.

The dialogue on these posters won’t appear in the main story, but you’ll find them as collectibles, and they help give insight into the personalities of the cast.


Nästa Station Rönninge - Since the murder of a young neo nazi skinhead in the Stockholm suburb Salem in December 2000, fascists from all over Europe have marched in his memory every year. In 2003 they gathered more than 2000 nazis, the biggest fascist march in Scandinavia since WWII. But they didn’t march without resistance. The antifascist movement tried out a wide range of tactics. In 2011 the nazis marched for the last time. This short documentary tells the story of how the antifascists tried to stop the Salem-march.

Thanks pontuspma for the link to this really interesting documentary on the Swedish antifascist movement and their tactics, with English subs. [video]

How Liberalism Infects Movement Building

It never fails. Every time there is critical resistance, an uprising and continued unrest people get dragged back to compliance (with permits) under the rhetoric of being peaceful or nonviolent. The movement gets dragged out of the street to sit attentively at the feet of the oppressors with speakers that tell us change will come if we are calm (and peaceful).  Nevermind the normalized police escort, or the “security team”. We are just following the rules, nothing to see here.

Rhetoric about resistance and direct action becomes meaningless, lost in the symbolism of marching for civic change. Movement managers try to make the movement mainstream-popular, inviting celebrities and business leaders to come forward, while at the same time pushing out radical elements that released pressure valves to begin with. If not directly, through terrible tactical choices that alienate people (like working with the police who are critically engaged in counter insurgency and developing profiles on agitators to undermine the movement).

Never mind, that working with the city and police legitimizes those avenues, while making it easier for the police to knowingly divide and attack groups that take nonpermitted action or respond to their conditions without the permission of the state. Is this what solidarity looks like?

Instead of hearing about what groups are doing to sustain themselves during these uprisings, we hear more and more about demands. Police reforms that usually come with dangerous baggage, more technology and funding for the police. But the movement is so pressured by popular media and civic leaders to clarify its goals, policy change becomes a priority before much needed discussions can happen. Before policy change can be challenged not as a goal, but maybe a tactic to gain concessions in a larger fight to abolish the infrastructure that makes racial oppression profitable. 

But once the movement is focused on policy change, containment is practically complete.  And the agitators who were able to explore what it means to act autonomously for liberation, who were harassed and attacked by the police, are cast aside as unreasonable. Ungovernable.

Unity becomes language to gather behind and solidarity is reserved for those who will declare their nonviolence or tolerance for police collaboration. Never mind that nonviolence never actually was not violent- it just tolerates violence in the hopes of receiving change. It accepts violence as a means of determining justice- because if someone is constantly violated don’t they deserve to be saved? 

The cops are killing people, but pacifism will kill the movement every time. We say “first do no harm” but liberalism does harm to the movement every time. People pull permits in the name of pacifism, but invite the police. How does this make sense?

What is liberalism? There are many ways people might define or apply it. But for now i’ll start with, peace for the sake of appearing peaceful regardless of whether the conditions are peaceful or not. Appealing to and supporting state violence (the government) to restore “peace” whether the conditions are peaceful or not. Working with the enemy to minimize the affects of oppression, while never supporting those looking to prevent or abolish it.

Redirecting the outrage and energy of people away from their own communities and into organizations that work with and support the state (and it’s violence). Taking real anger and pain, and neutralizing it so that it does not actually threaten the economic and social conditions that produced it. Believing that the state is the only way we will be free. Controlling how other actors behave so that the state will make you free. And finally, using peace as a reason to dismiss and silence people seeking critical movement building dialogue to prevent the co-optation of the movement. Demanding peace without first acknowledging the conflict is dismissive and heartbreaking. Same with #notallcops rhetoric.

The popular media finds it much easier to latch onto movement building for reform because the hierarchical political structure wants people to resign power over to representatives and allow those representatives to determine clear goals. And just like that the movement becomes less about supporting black solidarity and more about appealing to the dominant white (and liberal) gaze for approval

But what if the goals aren’t clear? What if supporting black rage and insurrection means that all of it will have to fall? Especially the privileges and comforts gained by whites and non-black POC under the capitalist system built on genocide and slavery. The economy of wagery and servitude that makes (black) people poor and deprives them of resources. The system of governance and gender violence that pits (black) community against each other based on sexuality, gender and patriarchy power. The lack of empowerment and shared decision making.  The lack of access to resources for those who are disabled by society. The political system itself, who carries on war after war here and abroad without the consent of the governed. The way problems are handled, policed and result in mass imprisonment and violence for poor, brown and black communities of color.

It’s not simple. But to build this movement we cannot oversimplify it. We cannot ignore that non-black and white people benefit from seeing this movement silenced or neutralized. And we can’t pretend that it doesn’t make whites uncomfortable to think about a black revolution. This might be a large reason why people in the movement fall back on learned liberalism. Because people, particularly people of color, have been taught that to assimilate in Amerikan culture means to behave, which has become synonymous with being “reasonable” or deferring to white models of power. But this is not reasonable, co-optation will fail and the conditions will fall.

Gamergate: Alternate Theory

If you didn’t pick up from the title, this is another post about GamerGate. The normal disclaimers apply: if you disagree with what I say, you are free to talk to me about it. My contact info is in the sidebar. Every time I make this offer, I get a bunch of emails and Skype messages agreeing with me and thanking me for what I said, and then like one or two people on Twitter talking about how wrong I am. I want them to know that I’ll still hear them out, and if it seems like I’m holding onto an opinion you disagree with it’s because literally nobody is countering it

Anyway, this time I’m particularly interested in people’s thoughts, because I want to write about something a little different. A friend was talking with me about my last blog post, and she began to bring up parallels between it and GamerGate - including a few I didn’t actually think of. It made me think of it in a slightly different light, and I’d like to propose a potential alternate interpretation to why this thing called “GamerGate” exists.

Throughout its life, GamerGate has been claiming it is about ethics in gaming journalism - and, I think a lot of people associated with it do believe that. However, I have a theory that its core goals and actions are better described as a focus on something else: individual accountability.

Think back to the very beginning, when this whole thing started. You had a game developer who had sex with a games journalist. People discovered this, and (wrongly) thought that the journalist had written a positive review of her game because of it.

Right there, any creator with a lick of common sense could have ended this whole issue with the simple words “I had sex with people in the industry, but I made sure it was nobody who would review my work or otherwise help me get ahead”. Just like that, she would have taken accountability for the actions while emphasizing that they were harmless, and no one would care. 

Instead, you saw something different: rather than addressing this as though it were an attack on the developer specifically, she (and the journalists she was apparently associated with) addressed it as an attack on female developers as a group. People who had legitimate concerns about favors in journalism were publicly dismissed as being against female developers. Gaming media pushed the narrative that the attack had nothing to do with the developer’s actions, and everything to do with the groups she identified as a part of. To proto-Gamergate, though, it wasn’t about the group - it was about the individual, and no one seemed to see that.

You see this pattern continue into GamerGate’s more recent behavior. In almost all of their actions, GamerGate tends to target individuals in the game industry. They’ll send in a whole bunch of complaints about a particular writer who said something discriminatory, or try to persuade advertisers to pull from the specific news publication that employs that writer. Rather than targeting a group, GamerGate tends to very, very specifically go after people they interpret as doing something wrong. 

And honestly, most of the people GamerGate attacks are being pretty horrible. Like, I think the latest one is some writer who said that GamerGate was proof that nerds needed to be bullied into submission. GamerGate retaliated by getting some advertisers to pull from the website that employs him, as well as donating a bunch of money to anti-bullying charities to make a statement. It’s largely a targeted call-out campaign, which is something I actually think is pretty awesome if executed with the right amount of skepticism.

In response, though, you see GamerGate’s targets try to make it about groups. They’ll claim that GamerGate is attacking journalists, or attacking independent developers. They’ll push a narrative that the attacks are purely based off group membership - that nobody in these groups is safe - and thus everyone in them should stand against GamerGate. Even the opponents who try to engage GamerGate diplomatically do it in a very removed and group-oriented way, asking what specific changes GG would like to see to their policies, all while refusing to talk about individuals. Anyone who tries to draw attention to them is a harasser

You see the same thing when GamerGate’s opponents characterize GamerGate. They’re an angry mob, or a bunch of straight white cisgender men who are upset that their industry has diversity. Any individual voices or diversity inside GamerGate gets erased in favor of characterizing them as a homogeneous group. 

Portraying a group as homogeneous means you can characterize them by any single member. If someone who claims association with GamerGate sends a developer a death threat, it’s not from an individual, it’s from GamerGate. GamerGate’s members, for their part, usually make an effort to track these harassers down and hold them personally accountable for their wrongdoing, but meanwhile their opposition holds up the harassment as proof that GamerGate is an unsalvageable cause full of harassment and everyone involved should abandon it. Interestingly, TotalBiscuit wrote an excellent essay on how publicizing death threats only encourages copycats, logic by which GamerGate’s opposition is causing more death threats to happen with their response. You don’t see them taking any personal accountability for that - it’s just GamerGate’s fault for sending the death threats to begin with. Anything to avoid acknowledging individuals.

I’ve even noticed this trend of anti-individuality in my own experiences. I’ve written things about GamerGate before and had its opponents immediately dismiss me on the basis that I’ve “drank the kool-aid” and been manipulated into supporting a bad cause that harms game developers and minorities.

But like… that’s me! That’s me you’re defending, on both counts. Can we talk about how GamerGate really does benefit the sort of business tactics I use? Or how my emphasis on word-of-mouth popularity and positive audience regard means I’ll be even more powerful if the journalism scene utterly crumbles? Heck, can we talk about how consumer-focused tactics like mine actually remove entry barriers, and how increasing their comparative power would probably bolster the number of women and minorities in the industry? I don’t want to be dismissed as part of a group - want to be acknowledged as an individual who has actual experiences and motivations that drive my actions. 

That’s actually another thing I really like about GamerGate, and which also plays into the theorized emphasis on individuality. GamerGate’s opposition is mostly straight, white, cisgender men who claim they are bravely protecting innocent minorities from, apparently, GamerGate’s straight, white, cisgender men. GamerGate, on the other hand, tends to actually push their minority voices to the forefront. Maybe it’s just a response to the accusations of homogeneity, but any time a woman or minority speaks out in GamerGate’s defense there is an effort to really get her side heard and draw attention to it. They want to actually get the minorities themselves in positions where they can visibly speak, rather than just consigning them to an offhand mention as “my gay friend”. I’ve met more female, non-white, and LGBTQIA gaming writers and Youtubers through GamerGate than I have through at least four years of seeing gaming news sites talk about the importance of diversity in the industry. There are enough minority voices in one place that erasure has become a joke, with things like TallBlackNerd changing his Twitter name to “Cis White Gamer”. It’s hard to express how oddly meaningful that is.

And this all seems to tie back to that one core idea: individual accountability. GamerGate tends to push for things to be viewed in terms of people, whereas their opponents tend to push for things to be viewed in terms of groups, stereotypes and labels. Maybe this is intentionally malicious and they’re trying to cover up active wrongdoing, or maybe they just naturally think in a very privileged and discriminatory way. Whatever the case, just imagine how much smoother things would go if the industry at large shared GamerGate’s dedication to individual accountability:

I guess what I’m really getting at in all of this is that I’m not sure GamerGate is doing itself a service by saying that it’s about “ethics in journalism”. At its core, I think the central idea is really about people in the game industry being held individually accountable for wrongdoing. That’s not an issue of ethics - it’s an issue of letting people defend themselves without dragging a group into it. If an employee of yours did something so bad that people are able to present evidence that gets advertisers to stop supporting you, then you need to treat that employee as a liability. And beyond that, you need to thank the people who called him out for doing you a service. 

Is the theory accurate? Would such an angle better summarize GamerGate’s motives and give it a stronger arguing point? I don’t know. I’m one person, and most of what I focus on is my own goals and ideals. I do think it is an interesting idea to consider, though - and puts a better emphasis on what I find generally agreeable about GamerGate as a whole.

I’m not following GamerGate as closely as I used to, but I am still interested. Analyzing its advocates and opposition is beginning to give me those same feelings I get when playing an Elder Scrolls game or reading a story. I like the ideas, but beneath it there is a brooding realization: I could do it better

(EDIT: Since this post is still going around, I’d like to add that Social Darwin Awards talked to me after this was published and convinced me that I was wrong to suggest doxxing harassers is how it “should” work. He made a decent point that such information should be delivered to law enforcement, not to the general public for vigilante retribution, and I can’t really argue with that. I still think journalists have a responsibility to stand against individuals who are wronging others, but they shouldn’t be encouraging illegal actions against them.)


Starship Troopers Friend or Foe?

To answer the ? “should any government emulate it and why (militarily speaking.)”

Yes unaquivicably yes.

Militarily this book is as it should be. The recruiters are specifically designed to scare off anyone who isn’t ready, motivated, or dedicated, the exact opposite of modern recruiters who will take almost anybody provided they are above the age of 18 and have a pulse…

Basic training lasts 5 months and has a 90% fail rate, making training as hard as possible on purpose and allowing for only the best to pass into the ranks of the military and from there combat or service. Meaning that those who partisipate in military sevice are not only volunteers of dedication and ability they are also the best that the nation has to offer.

As the book says “There are no dangerous weapons; there are only dangerous men. We’re trying to teach you to be dangerous — to the enemy. Dangerous even without a knife. Deadly as long as you still have one hand or one foot and are still alive.”

To become and officer you have to serve enlisted, show apptitude, be selected and then pass through another even more rigourous basic training. So that the officer corps is agian the best of the best and you know or can rightfully assume that because its a meritocracy that your chain of command is the best of the best of the best… And that the officers are required to do and be able to do everything their troopers can, or better…

The Chaplain Corps also fights along side the troops blessing as they fight, fighting as they bless, experienceing everything with their troops. Unlike current Chaplains who are noncombatants, who often times have little to no practical experience in regards to the trials of the troops in the field.

They also believe in a true no joke NO MAN LEFT BEHIND POLICY, to the point where for a single prisoner they would go to war because as i have previously stated “Its about brotherhood and strength. As a trooper those captives are your brothers and sisters and their freedom is priceless. As a government a prisoner is an insult and a weakness, and cant be tolerated. If people can take or keep your people that will lead others to believe you weak which will lead to more of the same. Besides especially since in order to be in government you had to serve they are your family as well.”

The entirety of the book is about the social responsibility of the individual for and to the community, and how by serving the community you are inherently rewarded. They further enforce the inherent reward of community service with social incentives (the ability to vote and hold public office) and punishment for destructive and criminal behavior through things like public punishment, and depending on the severity of the crime Corporal punishment. The book bases everything on the indiviual voluntarily assuming responsibility for the common good. It encourages service, but does not punish or stigmatize lack of service.

I also like that governmentally they put forward the idea that only those who had volunteered to serve could really be trusted to appreciate the responsibility of governing, having sacrificed personally for the nation and society, and intimately understanding the sacrifices that can intail. That ONLY those who have served and sacrificed inherit the appropriate moral and social authority to lead, and that, that service need not be military in nature, but that military service is the ideal. That only full Citizens (those who have served) can vote or hold public office but that all Civilians (those individuals that are part of the nation but have not served) still maintain all other rights (freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly…) and that they only lack the abiltiy to vote, hold public office and recieve selected government aid.

Check out my other Terran Federation post here.



The other day I made my first (and, hopefully, last) Twitter posts. The person they were directed at, of course, did not respond and promptly blocked my account. I’ll leave his name up there uncensored, in hopes he may get pressured to reply. 

It’s weird to take a step back and look at how my relationship with the thing called GamerGate has developed these last few months. It started with me looking at as much evidence as I could find and reluctantly speaking against someone’s actions. I asked people to provide counterevidence in case I was overlooking something. Lady Fuzztail stepped up to the plate, and within three messages she more or less agreed with my position. My brief exchange with her back in August, however, literally marked the last time any of the “anti-Gamergate” people actually tried to convince me they were in the right.

I mean, sure, there has definitely been a concerted effort made to show how terrible GamerGate is and how everyone who touches it is evil and supports harassment or something. I have been told time and time again that there are consequences to showing support toward something like that, or occasionally just been outright attacked for it. But, despite my pleas for someone to do so, nobody is really trying to defend the other side of this to me. Nobody is really trying to alleviate my concerns about the people GamerGate is opposing, and this bothers me so much.

Like, these people who oppose GamerGate keep getting creepier, and they’re not doing anything to alleviate it. I was really bothered by the response to Wolf Wozniak’s alleged sexual harassment and the way he was immediately attacked for speaking out. I was sickened when someone responded to the whole Eron Gjoni thing with an article saying that victims of abusive relationships needed to think about what they did to cause the abuse. I was appalled by the way things like NotYourShield have been completely ignored or accused of being manipulated. At this point, I am literally sticking with GamerGate because I feel like this is the side where I am less likely to get raped. And, for some inconceivable reason, nobody is even making an effort to convince me my feelings are unfounded.

I am just at a complete loss at how to handle this. Like, I’m trying to do what is right here, but one side of this is making no attempt to show me they are the good guys. Even when I outline the exact apprehensions that keep me from taking their side, all I receive is disappointment that I’m not taking their side. I just don’t know what to do.

Further Appehensions

I guess as this goes on, there are some disturbing patterns that have emerged. At least, disturbing to me. 

Like, look back up at the tweets above. There’s this thing that keeps coming up, “chugged all the 4chan kool-aid”. Conceptually, this is just so bizarre to me.

I get along fairly well with 4chan, 8chan, and other anon cultures. This is not a huge secret. My background is in research psychology; I’m used to using anonymity to gather opinions and just generally dealing with people at their weirdest. I interact with pretty much every other site that discusses my work, too, but 4chan is apparently the one that surprises people the most because for some reason they are terrified of it. 

There’s this weird idea, though, that there is some sort of tainted knowledge there and that once you touch it, you have been manipulated and there is nothing anyone can do to correct this until you voluntarily choose to disbelieve this information. Which, of course, pisses me the hell off because that is not how manipulation works. Manipulation revolves around feeding someone misinformation, which can be easily combated with logic and counterevidence. Just listening to things or having a positive relationship with a group is not enough to “corrupt” someone. 

But you know who tends to push that line of thought? Cults do. One of the key components to most cults is that they stigmatize knowledge that would draw people away from their beliefs. If someone digs too deep and acquires knowledge that causes them to question the cult’s beliefs, they are immediately declared a lost cause, or even publicly punished to dissuade others from pursuing such forbidden fruit. This is how cults maintain power over their members. This sort of “lost cause” and “making an example” behavior is also the exact behavior a lot of the GamerGate opponents seem to be displaying toward me, even Tarason up above. 

Like I said in my reply to him, though, the part that disturbs me more is the general lack of agency this attributes to me. 

What he’s saying pivots on this implicit assumption that, because I hold a different position than him, someone else must be controlling me without my consent. What’s not considered is that, perhaps, I am consciously choosing the side that is making a better case for itself. Like… you know, the thing I actually say I am doing. Again and again, while outlining the exact reasons I make these choices?

Try to look at this from my point of view. When I see people say things like “Eron Gjoni wrote a long hitpiece claiming his ex-girlfriend traded sex for reviews”, this scares me because you can actually read the thing and see that doesn’t occur. When someone who claims to have been sexually harassed by a well-connected person can be attacked for it while someone who attacks a well-connected person can be baselessly accused of sexual harassment, that scares me because I could easily end up in either of those positions. When someone is only acknowledged to be female or a minority when they are being oppressed or harassed and the rest of the time are erased into being Straight White Men, this scares me because it takes away any control I have over my own group’s reputation. 

These are the kind of behaviors I see as characterizing GamerGate’s opposition, as well as being things that GamerGate combats either directly or by proxy. If I am wrong about feeling these things, then I want someone to convince me they aren’t actually occuring - or, perhaps more likely given how much of it now comes from personal experience, convince me that controls have been instituted to ensure these things cannot not occur in the future. As of yet, nobody is really taking that step to convince me “anti-GamerGate” are the good guys here. At best, there’s just that push to paint GamerGate as harassers.

And you know what? That really gets on my nerves too. Like, everything people point to as evidence of GamerGate harassing people is about as bad as I get just by virtue of being relatively well-known. On top of that, a lot of the harassment I see held up as particularly horrible is very on-par with the response people get when they attack their audience - which is exactly what is happening here. To me, it feels like another instance of problems being erased or ignored until they happen to someone well-connected - and even then these people aren’t speaking out against harassment in general. Fuck, GamerGate has been the ones publicly denouncing harassment, whereas the prevailing opinion with its opponents seems to be “harassment is okay, if against the right people”. And like… I can’t side with that. If I’m wrong in parsing the situation that way, I need someone to show me I’m wrong.

And then there’s the whole “just bunch of angry straight white men afraid of video games becoming diverse” thing. You know, where there was a movement of hundreds if not thousands of women and minorities showing their support for GamerGate, and it was dismissed as being sockpuppet accounts and people who were “tricked” into supporting it? Apparently there is this perception that GamerGate is somehow going to somehow drive all minorities out of gaming, despite the fact that GamerGate is notoriously leaderless, meaning even if they destroyed every gaming journalism outlet in existence the only thing they could really bring about is a chaotic quasi-meritocracy. And like… do you even realize how bigoted it is to suggest that only straight white men could prevail in an environment like that? That kind of situation - where there is no overseer beyond the general populace deciding who does/doesn’t get visibility - is the kind of environment I want. That’s something I’m willing to fight for. 

Through all of this, I’m just left wondering: what exactly is the endgame here regarding people like me? Like, is the message here that if I agree with GamerGate’s opposition, then I will be protected from their harassment and allowed to harass others? Am I supposed to feel like by taking their side, I would be exempt from any kind of real-world sexual misconduct that would otherwise come from their supporters, and will be covered should I do those things against others? Is the message that if I agree with their position now and remain silent about their minority erasure, then in the future I will be able to dissent with my sexuality properly attributed? I just don’t understand what their sell is. What is the thing that is supposed to make me want to support them? On what level are they not everything I am morally obligated to oppose?

I am not being manipulated here; I have agency and am making a choice based on the evidence I have available. And like I’ve said again and again, if you feel like I am making a choice on bad information, then you can provide more information. This is not a trap, this is an invite. I would prefer this to be two groups who are competing for my allegiance, rather than one group trying to win my allegiance and one group threatening me for opposing them. But, as of yet, I cannot see any evidence that the Opposition side of this benefits me. Nobody is making a case for why they are worth supporting. Nobody is making a sell.

Sure, like I said earlier, people are really quick to talk about all the evils GamerGate probably** did. But as I’ve stressed before, a group that is morally gray is preferable to one that is morally devoid. I see this as a group of flawed humans attacking a bigoted and problematic institution. I want to see this institution burn, and frankly I’ll show respect to whoever is holding the torches. If you have a problem with this, then you have to convince me it isn’t as bad as I think. This is not complicated.

At least, it’s not complicated if your group is actually not that bad  

Applying Agency

This all really comes back to this idea of agency. 

GamerGate, whether you approve or disapprove of its actions, has almost always positioned itself as being a choice. They show a lot of respect for people who weigh both sides, and usually remain confident that evidence will lead neutrals to their side. If someone opposes them, their first tactic is to try to dissuade them with reason. When they sought to emphasize their diversity, their method was opt-in: people wore the “#NotYourShield” tag by choice. These are refreshing design choices.

The opposition, by contrast, has been… less accommodating to the idea of people thinking on their own. I’ve seen neutral parties attacked for even giving GamerGate the time of day, “for the good of women and the minorities!” is constantly thrown around no matter how hard people scream “no! You don’t represent me!”, and there is of course the idea, perpetuated by people like Tarason up at the top of this post, that anyone who opposes them has been indoctrinated and manipulated and is no longer in control of their faculties. 

This feels black-and-white, and that bothers me. It is increasingly difficult to hang onto this belief that there are two sides to this that have legitimate points. Like I keep stressing, I want to be put in a situation where two sides are competing for my allegiance, but only one side is even playing. 

I’m just not sure how to respond to that, other than… keep offering to listen? As usual, I’m here, and even if I don’t reply to all my emails anymore I promise I’m reading and heeding. 

anonymous asked:

I personally think that one of the greatest injustices that happens to our children are the boxes of gender-roles we force them into. We raise kids who are insecure because they're a girl who wants to play a football, or a boy who cries during movies. These kids learn shame when they should love themselves because they are individuals, and they shouldn't be defining themselves by what society says a boy and girl should be. How can we fix generations of damage?

Destroy binarism and patriarchy embedded in culture by constantly educating yourself and others. Change language usage (slurs, denial of agency), change cultural practices (microagressions, gender roles). Defend individuals and practices, expression and diversity (trans, non-binary, intersex individuals). Agitate the public through direct action (mindful consumption, boycotting, petitions, education, general spreading of awareness). Critique and seek proper representation in media.

Build a culture where binarism, sexism, transphobia are unacceptable, rather than acceptable. Make a movement self-sustaining: educate others to educate others.


Live Streamers Make Great Informants | We Cop Watch

There are many ways to effectively document the movement while protecting the space, its movements and people’s privacy. Live Streaming is generally NOT one of them.

A common issue with Streamers is their display of entitlement, often citing the value of bringing the movement to the people. But Streamers have a hard time admitting that the police find their work more valuable then demonstrators.

In a world of voyeurism and exhibitionists, Streamers often get carried away, interpreting their role as being a narrator for the movement. They often film people without their consent, placing more value in presenting to their viewership, then protecting the group that is already taking risks by just getting out into the street to protest.

One of the biggest problems with streaming is that it gives real time information to the police as far as what people are present, the group’s intentions, as well as its location and routes. Embedded Streamers give police a tactical advantage when trying to conduct mass arrests.

An even more tragic contract Streamers impose on demonstrators is the raw, unedited, archived video that is often made public and available online for law enforcement to use later to help identify and target people.

Before we move to “Streamer Solutions” lets review some “Streamer tactics” that are favorable to law enforcement, and almost always at the expense of the people.

Very Poor Streamer Etiquette

Calling People out by Name on Streams.

People don’t go to protests for other people to call them out on streams that are put up permanently online for law enforcement to review.

Filming Peoples’ Identities on Streams

Law enforcement use streams to target and identify people for repression and arrest

Narrating your Interpretation of what Kind of Action is Taking Place

Streamers often divulge personal opinions rather than facts when narrating about actions. Are you prepared to be a witness for law enforcement in the future?

Filming Direct Actions

Everything you film, can and will be used against protesters if law enforcement has anything to do with it.

Narrating Logistics and Tactics

At the height of Occupy Oakland, Undercovers were being called into certain FTP protests because of the “no Live Streaming” / “no Twittering” tactic.

FTP marches are ongoing Fuck the Police marches that take place in Oakland and across the Bay.

Narrating Group Routes

Police have a much easier time arresting people in the streets when they have Streamers narrating the group’s routes. You don’t need Undercovers and helicopters when you have a front-row seat.

If you want to be helpful to the movement, be honest about your intentions. Is your viewership more important than the people you are standing with? Do you want to be doing something that benefits the police over the people? Every action, every mass mobilization, has a story that can be told. But folks need to either start holding “non streaming” actions again, or streamers should stop operating as informants for the police.

If any of these issues are concerning to you, maybe consider NOT “Live Streaming” your next protest. Pick up a still camera, conduct some audio interviews, heck shoot some video. There’s no reason why you can’t go home after a protest and produce some content that is useful and not harmful. But in case it’s not in your blood to consider other people on that level, here are some good Live Stream tactics.

“Good” Livestream Tactics

  • Stand hundreds of feet away from the group so the low quality recording doesn’t pick up conversations or peoples’ identity.
  • Don’t film peoples’ identity without their consent.
  • Don’t narrate intentions, tactics, locations, or destinations.
  • Wear a bright shirt that says “Live Streamer” or “Informant.”

More “Real Good” Livestream Tactics

  • Live Stream an event, panel, or discussion where all parties consent.
  • Live Stream a demo or action where all parties involved consent.
  • Live Stream your interactions when being stopped, questioned, or harassed by law enforcement. (maybe put your channel on private!)

Be safe out there, and make it safer for the masses by considering them when you point a camera at them.

GamerGate: Primer/Finale

I swear, I really do want to stop making posts about GamerGate. As interesting as it has been for me, I really need to get back to my own responsibilities. Not just that, but the GG people have pretty much won at this point - more people are talking about GamerGate than ever before, a lot of unethical behavior has been fully confirmed, and word has it that more people in the industry will be coming forward about their experiences after things calm down a little. Like a chess player who whittles her opponent down to just their king and queen, all that is left is the long and tedious process of chasing them around the board and trying for a final checkmate. 

At the same time, though, I know there are still a lot of people out there who are confused on what this whole “GamerGate” thing is about. Tons of misinformation is going around, and you still see a lot of people saying things like “Isn’t this about getting rid of female developers? That’s what Kotaku told me!”. To combat the misinformation, I want to (hopefully) conclude my essay spree with a post about how this started, what happened, and where it is now.

So grab your sledgehammer, lonely Tumblr people, because a wall of text is coming.

Part 1: The Beginning

Journalists should avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived. Disclose unavoidable conflicts.

-Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics

This all started off when a game developer’s ex came forward to purportedly warn people about the developer’s manipulative and deceptive behavior. He detailed the emotional abuse in their relationship and how it ultimately culminated in this discovery that she had secretly cheated on him with five different people before he had the common sense to break things off with her.

The whole thing would’ve ended there if not for one fact: she was a game developer, and at least one of the people she she was alleged to have slept with was a gaming journalist.

Whether the ex-boyfriend’s actions were cruel or brave is up for debate. In the time since I first started writing this post, I’ve had two separate abuse survivors talk to me about how uncomfortable and victim-blamey it is to see the ex-boyfriend being painted as a villain for speaking out. No matter where you stand on the ex-boyfriend himself, the important part is that - as far as readers were concerned - a game developer had an undisclosed relationship with a gaming journalist. People started looking into it, and digging for any potential conflicts of interest this could have caused. The most well-known analysis of the situation was the Internet Aristocrat’s “Five Guys Saga“ video, which currently carries over 36 thousand Likes. To make things worse, after the information was out, other people began to come forward to talk about abuse they had suffered from this developer - this is where we heard about things like her harassment and supposed press blacklisting of The Fine Young Capitalists or her alleged sexual harassment of developer Wolf Wozniak. Evidence was seemingly beginning to pile that something was up with this developer and her connections to the media.

Gaming journalism sites had to respond. At this point in time, we now know know that Journalists from the major gaming publications discussed it together and agreed that, rather than responding to concerns of journalistic conflicts of interest, they were going to focus on the harassment the developer received after the details of her sex life were outed. And indeed, when the news about this hit, there was no mention of journalistic corruption. Just “Female game developer harassed by internet misogynists”.

(Edit: for people who are apprehensive to believe the Breitbart link, there are members of the group confirming the messages real)

Part 2: Exacerbation

Journalists should be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable. Give voice to the voiceless.

-Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics

The “conflict” that followed was as ridiculous as it was entertaining. Here you had a diverse group of people - many of them women or feminists - concerned about the potentially abusive (or arguably rapey) actions of a developer and whether the media was connected to it, and in response they were being labeled as misogynists. When people tried to speak out in protest, there suddenly came a new wave of simultaneous articles declaring that the “gamer” identity had become something bad - a ravenous swarm of disgusting, sexist white men who were only speaking out on this because they wanted to keep female developers out of the games industry. You saw a new hashtag arise on Twitter, “Describe a Gamer in Four Words”, where people created these strange portrayals of gamers as a caste of angry and childish white males. 

The pushback came in the form of a counter-tag called “#NotYourShield”. Women and minorities of every kind who enjoyed gaming were encouraged to come forward and declare that they were not okay with journalists harassing gamers under the guise of "protecting women and minorities”. They argued that they were gamers, and that this portrayal of gamers as white men was nothing more than minority erasure. So, naturally, these people faced a whole new wave of accusations that they were fake accounts made by men, or commands of “if you’re really female, post a picture!”. When it was made clear that they were actually who they said, they were accused of being manipulated into defending a misogynistic cause - or, with some of the people who stood up, they were just harassed or hacked into silence. Even today, most news sources claim that the #NotYourShield tag was started as a “jamming tactic” by white gamers on 4chan, ignoring that its earliest use came from the anime reviewer Ninouh. Jason Miller, another black developer who is sometimes credited as the tag’s creator, was purportedly fired after someone from the internet contacted his boss

Around this time, you also got this interesting influx of well-known Conservative personalities coming out in GamerGate’s defense. They claim that it’s because “the Right supports free speech”, but I think the actual truth is a much simpler one: they faced no consequences to standing up. Liberal or feminist personalities who stood up in GamerGate’s defense risked alienating fans or losing connections - Boogie2988 even came open about the fact that he was receiving threats to his career if he “continued to connect [himself] with a movement that is ‘increasingly being associated with harassment and misogyny’”. Even when I sent in formal complaints about some of the journalist’s conduct, I did it under an alias in fear that the writers would read the complaints and perhaps make good on their threats of career-ending slander. Conservative personalities, though, didn’t need to worry about things like that - to them, threats were just more evidence that all liberals are evil and irrational. So, they stood up.

Of course, the gaming journalism sites took this and tried to spin it as a liberal-versus-conservative issue. There was no mention of the threats or harassment someone on the Left could receive for supporting GamerGate, just the shallow observation that conservatives were standing up for it. Sometimes, the observation wasn’t even true - Kotaku ran an article about feminist Christina Sommers titled “Conservative Critic Argues That Gaming culture Is For Guys”. When it was pointed out to them that Sommers is a registered democrat and leans liberal, they edited the title to “Critic Argues That Gaming culture Is For Guys” - curiously leaving out any note of her political affiliations.

All through this, you still had people looking into that original question of whether developers were colluding with journalists. The curious lack of press coverage or even acknowledgement of this issue only caused them to redouble their investigative efforts. On one hand, this is probably what led to the continued harassment of several independent developers - which the gaming news outlets continued to report on as vigorously as they could. But on the other hand, the investigators began to scrape up evidence of actual legal wrongdoing. The Independent Games Festival, it turned out, might have had some games’ investors as judges. To quote developer Michael Vargas: “It’s one thing that I had participated in a rigged contest. It’s another that younger devs put college tuitions on the line, went into debt, made hours of sacrifices, all for a fraud and to send kickbacks to an indie clique”. Eventually people even uncovered evidence that could potentially place indie developer Phil Fish in prison - nobody knows what is going on with that now, since lawyers got involved and he deleted his Twitter.

This all eventually culminated in one games journalist contacting flaming conservative Milo Yiannopoulos and anonymously leaking the existence of “GameJournoPros” - a mailing list where competing gaming journalists could discuss issues in private. Milo’s article on the emails shows journalists dismissing the claims of journalistic favoritism toward the accused developer, while simultaneously agreeing to spin their articles in a way supportive of her and describing her as a “colleague”. At least one journalist in the group decries the actions as unethical and says he wants no part. Others discuss how they could use this to help the developer get positive PR - a curiously duplicitous move to support a developer who recently criticized 4chan for discussing how to best gain support.

Now, you pretty much just have confusion. There’s no clean, decisive victory in things like this. There are still people who only know about GamerGate from biased information delivered on gaming news sites. There are gaming journalists defending the GameJournoPros group, saying that it was just a gathering of friends and there was nothing unethical about it. On the flipside, you slowly have more developers and journalists coming forward to talk about their harassment or unethical actions, now that the tide is turning such that those who remain silent might be the ones remembered as being complicit. All that lies ahead is a slow and tedious cleanup as people without a voice band together to tediously correct misinformation one debate at a time.

Usually, something like this would just end with a few people getting fired. Sadly, gamers love going for the 100% completion score. Godspeed, journalists.

Part 3: Why I Care

Journalists should expose unethical conduct in journalism, including within their organizations. They should abide by the same high standards they expect of others.

-Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics

So, reading all this wordswordswords, you’re probably wondering: “why does this person care? And, why should I care?”.

If you read my blog, you know that I still consider myself to be a scientist. Truth is important to me, and discerning the truth means you must be able to judge the credibility and biases of information.

Just like academia has standards, so does journalism. Journalists are not just really popular bloggers - they have more credibility than the average person because we assume they abide by certain rules. We cite our sources and defend our beliefs and even write our own pieces using news articles as a reference - not because they are popular, but because we believe them to be more credible than the average internet blogger. When you have major public news sites publishing articles about how a bunch of gamers have been launching an organized harassment campaign at a female indie developer, it’s because the reporters got this info from sites like Kotaku and Rock Paper Shotgun, and assumed it was credible.

This whole fiasco has revealed that gaming journalists do not, in fact, abide by these standards, and in many cases probably don’t even understand them. They view themselves no differently than any popular Tumblr personality who uses their follower count to bully others - to quote professional gaming journalist Leigh Alexander: “Be careful with me. I am a megaphone. I am much less kind than [other journalists] and I won’t mind making an example out of you”. These are the popular kids who beat up gamers in high school, masquerading as journalists in a halfhearted attempt to do it again.

By all accounts, this blog is effectively a more credible source than sites Kotaku. I might have a hundredth of the followers they do, but at least I have a degree in the things I’m talking about rather than a degree in talking about things. As a standard blogger I have no obligation to abide by SPJ’s code of ethics, yet I still manage to abide by 32/35 of their edicts. Just going by information they’ve admitted to during this, sites like Kotaku stand at 6/35. People need to know this before regarding these sites as any more credible than hearsay.

Yes, it sucks that a female game developer got harassed - it sucks when anyone gets harassed. But she is a popular, public figure. It is unethical for journalists to focus on her harassment while being knowingly complicit in silencing people she harassed. Journalists are supposed to give “voice to the voiceless”, not say things like “I do feel that there is some legitimate public interest in a game developer being attacked by the internet”. 

I admit, though, there is another reason I care about this too.

Gaming is not a big deal. The gaming journalism industry is small and poor, and they don’t have the money or experience to launch any major information coverup or maintain a sizable conspiracy. This whole thing has been a sloppy and pathetic attempt at a real conspiracy.

And yet, people are still falling for it.

Sure, it might not matter now. A news site can declare “gamers are misogynists! We need to push back!” and the worst that will happen is some people get bullied on the internet or mailed an ominous syringe. But what happens when the news declares “Egyptians are terrorists! We need to attack!”? What happens when you have actual collusion and falsified information, headed by professionals, guiding you to political conclusions? \

The manipulation tactics people have fallen for over the course of GamerGate are appalling in their simplicity. You see people using grouping as a call to arms - “you’re a social justice warrior. If you want to keep being one, you need to stand against these misogynists with me”. You see harassment and threats given to people who speak out - before the syringe, Milo Yiannopoulos was sent 90 rolls of toilet paper as a presumed message of “I know where you live (and you’re shit)”. You see people using guilt by association - citing Adam Baldwin’s homophobic statements and how he’s a GamerGate supporter - or relying on the Genetic Fallacy - pointing out how much of this started on 4chan and claiming that ruins its credibility. I swear you even see fucking negging: people getting hit with these subtle implications that they’re inherently racist or overprivelaged, but that they can counteract it a bit by opposing GamerGate. Negging, for God’s sake! 

If you want a picture of how sloppy this entire operation is, consider this for a moment: there is no name for people who are against GamerGate. People who oppose abortion, for example, get the cheerful title of “Pro-Life”, but people who oppose GamerGate aren’t pro- anything. They can say “I’m pro-safety in the games industry”, but then GamerGate people just reply “so are we. We want people to be able to speak without losing their jobs”. They could say “I’m pro-women in gaming”, but then GamerGate people point out that they are too, and funded The Fine Young Capitalists after they were DDos’d and slandered by journalists and their friends. If they say they’re against harassment, the GamerGate people will point out that they have been actively calling out harassers in their own ranks while their opposition hasn’t. The anti-Gamergate people can’t even claim they’re “pro-representation in media” because, as people have pointed out, the gaming journalism clique is predominantly white men. #NotYourShield was created (and promptly ignored) because minorities were pissed off at these people’s claims to “represent” them. The only position anti-GamerGate people have is that they are against GamerGate. Sometimes, they even endorse all its goals but are pushed to stand against it anyway.

And this is all so easymode. We are better than this; these are manipulation tactics that should be harmlessly bouncing off anyone who graduated highschool. I’m glad that GamerGate seems to be winning, but understand: we need to be able to win harder. We need to learn from this, and become resistant to these methods. There are bigger enemies all around us, and we can’t afford to waste this much time struggling to beat the rat in the starting dungeon.

While writing these essays on GamerGate, I got a piece of fanmail from someone near Russia. He said that my writings and analysis of GamerGate were helping him question and confront the media coverage of the Ukranian crisis. “While bullets fly in our neighbour’s eastern parts, an information war is waged in traditional and electronic media and frankly, it’s terrifying.” This is the sort of thing we need to prepare for, and our track record following this GamerGate thing is pretty abysmal.

The dumbest part is, people who oppose GamerGate because they want to talk about sexism or misogyny in gaming aren’t even helping that conversation happen. There are people on both sides who really do want to talk about those issues, but it’s hard to do it when the media won’t even acknowledge women on the GamerGate side of things are getting doxxed, harassed, and blacklisted for not fitting the journalists’ model of how a woman “should act”. If we had just stood together and held journalists and their friends accountable for their wrongdoings without letting them subtly change the subject to harassment and misogyny, we could have moved on from this and all started talking about those other issues together. Heck, as soon as enough people stand up, that’s probably how it will play out anyway.

I’m not the kind of person who likes to 100% games. I can see a gold coin laying on a table and I won’t even take it unless my character is short on cash, and I’m not going to keep writing about GamerGate while gamers go through the long and arduous process of dissuading site’s advertisers to pull out and getting people fired. If you’re interested in staying on top of things, there are people obsessed enough to do daily updates on the happenings. Please understand, though: we need to get faster at this. We need to get more resilient, keeping manipulation like this from having a leg to stand on to begin with. In the future, lives will depend on your ability to see through lies and discern the credibility of information sources. You can’t always afford to take this long.

But, to everyone who questioned this stuff from the very beginning, stood against harassment and misogyny even when the news itself was calling you a misogynistic harasser, and endeavored to give a voice to the voiceless even when the media tried to stomp them out: rock on. The world needs people like you.

Tutoring in Mono Black Control decks (Multiplayer EDH)

You know, black is not looking for anything roundabout. Black is like ‘Literally, I want to defeat my opponent. Let’s cut to the heart. What’s the best way to win?’ And so black, part of that is, black’s tutoring is, ‘Why look for anything—why would I not get the best? Why am I looking for anything other than the absolute spell I need?’” - Mark Rosewater (Drive to Work podcast, ep. 52 - “Black”)

First of all: I’m not a pro-player. I also want to point out that the experience I’m willing to share (mainly with newcomers to the format) should be regarded merely as an unpretentious and amateur (but passionate) talk about what, for me, is the aspect in which MTG’s mono black really excels: unconditional tutoring. This should help you consider why, what and when to tutor in your search for better chances of victory in multiplayer games.

Tutors in EDH

Keep reading

Lahm is a scandal. He is super-intelligent, understands the game brilliantly, knows when to come inside or to stay wide. The guy is f****** exceptional.
—  Pep Guardiola (from his brand-new biography)

Months and months ago, I wrote a post about Tom Siddell - author of Gunnerkrigg Court - and his near-suicide. Among the responses to it was one calling me a shitty person and bad communicator. 

“Shitty person” I can understand. I mean, it’s not something I agree with, but it is a vague title that will inevitably be given to pretty much anyone who holds an opinion. The one that drew my interest, however, was “bad communicator”. Communication is something I’m deeply interested in; the post itself was about communication. To be called a bad communicator is kind of like walking up to a mathematician working on a chalkboard, saying “wow, you’re bad at math!” and walking away. That is to say, it’s not necessarily offensive, but it certainly raises questions. 

I privately asked him for further explanation, and for the most part his response was stuff I’m used to: saying that I’m too removed, that I lack empathy, and that I treat everything as a big tactical issue when most people are just doing what they feel like. However, along with that was the interesting statement that if I wanted people to listen to me, I shouldn’t have accused a large part of my audience of almost murdering someone

At the time, the criticism more or less made sense. As I thought about it more, though, I began to question it. I mean, first of all, I wasn’t accusing them of almost murdering someone, I was accusing them of almost voluntary manslaughtering someone. And second of all: was such an accusation necessarily disputable?

Think about the situation Tom Siddell was involved in: he made a Tweet about Louis Lane that sounded transphobic when taken out of context. People attacked him for it, trying to persuade others to join in the attacks or boycott the comic Tom makes his living off of. It’s not really arguable that they were consciously trying to hurt him. Since he suffers from depression, the attacks were enough to make him seriously consider killing himself. Had he gone through with it, that would pretty much be the definition of voluntary manslaughter. Functionally, it’s no different than a restraining chokehold killing someone whose neck can’t take it

When I make the statement that “Tumblr’s social justice community almost killed a guy”, it’s not an opinion; it’s an empirical truth. However, it’s important to recognize that it is not the only true statement I could have made.

Tom Siddell, despite knowing he was depressed, interacted with people in a public setting where his depression could easily be triggered.

This statement is also empirically true and cannot be disputed. However, this one manages to put the blame on Tom. He’s the one who endangered his life by insisting on working a stressful, public job that could potentially push him over the edge. 

Tom suffered from depression, meaning the stress and drama of social interaction that would make most people sad could potentially drive him to suicide. 

Here is another empirically true statement - a rather tactful one that puts all the blame on his mental illness. From this angle, neither him nor his detractors would be made out as responsible for his death. 

Tom made a statement that upset a minority group and then went on to guilt them by saying their criticism almost pushed him to suicide.

Now this one is neat in that it creatively spins Tom as the attacker. Like the others it is still empirically true. It’s not a misleading lie; even if you know all the facts, this is still true. However, it’s miles away from my equally true statement of “Tumblr’s social justice community almost killed a guy”. 

The reason I am bringing this up is because it’s important to this post to establish why I chose the particular phrasing that put blame on Tumblr. If you read my blog, or the posts I make on any forum I visit, they’re about how to do things. I talk about the techniques I use to make stuff, or the way your actions can affect other people. Even when my grandmother died, I exploited those emotions into a post about how you could write realistic death scenes. I want you to be able to do things

When I talk about Tom Siddell’s near-suicide, I don't care that it wouldn’t have happened if he didn’t have depression. I don't care that he chose to say things that hurt other people. All I care about is what you and I can do; I care about the angle in which we are responsible for the events that transpire. I care about the angle that empowers us. The one we can use to make a difference.

And after a fourteen paragraph intro, that’s what I want to talk about: empowerment.

Empowerment (for real, now)

An important thing to realize is that any time something bad happens, we are all partially responsible. Like, imagine someone getting mugged in an alley. The mugger made a conscious choice to commit a crime against a victim. The victim, however, also made a conscious choice not to carry pepper spray or a gun, which might have prevented the robbery from succeeding. The person walking along the street makes a conscious choice not to investigate the sounds she hears in the alley, and even the guy sitting at home watching TV made a conscious choice to vote for the candidate who wanted to cut the police budget.

From a legal perspective, the mugger is accountable for anything bad that happens in this event - after all, he’s the one who broke the law and instigated the whole thing, and he is the only one who had a 100% chance of preventing it. However, any one of the people involved in this still could have prevented it. They all had the power - or at least potential - to do so.

If I was trying to prevent muggings from happening, my angle would vary depending who I am talking to. To an ex-convict, I would emphasize the control he has over the situation: ways he could make a living other than robbery. To a potential victim, I would emphasize self-defense and preventative measures. To a potential bystander I would emphasize the importance of never assuming someone else will call 911, and to a voter I would emphasize the importance of security cameras and patrolling officers. I want to prevent this thing from happening, so I am going to take the angle that empowers people to stop it.

The big problem I have with a lot of rhetoric and expectations - especially on Tumblr - is that they are predominantly geared toward empowering the opposition.

Like, what good would come from me saying “remember that time Tom Siddell’s depression almost killed him?”. You can't do anything about the fact that Tom is depressed; all you can change are your actions toward him. To do that, it is important to understand how your actions affect him. Here’s a hint: they almost killed him.

To make a difference, you need control. Part of that means recognizing what control you have. Rhetoric that emphasizes a group's lack of control accomplishes nothing more than alleviating guilt. Convincing yourself that you are powerless means you don’t have to feel guilty knowing you could have prevented something.

I've written about this phenomenon before, but it was in the context of one’s own perceptions - convincing ourselves we are guiltless for the bad things that transpire. However, it bothers me that disempowering rhetoric is something we very actively push onto others - often under the guise of social justice. In many cases, it’s something we’ve come to expect - when something bad happens, we want to read about it in a way where we're not responsible. 

If you don’t get what I mean, look at this Tumblr post that was going around a few weeks ago, comparing Gone Home and The Stanley Parable:

Two games came out in 2013 based almost entirely on walking around a building and listening to voices. One of these was met with a barrage of accusations that it wasn’t really a game, and one was not. One of these was also about a young gay woman, and one was not.

Remember how I showed all the different ways you could describe the Tom Siddell situation to place the blame on different people, and how all of them were technically true? On the surface this post looks like social justice, calling attention to inequality in the games industry, but it’s literally the one angle you could take to blame all of Gone Home’s criticism on the fact it had a gay female character.

Like, how about we discuss the fact that Dear Esther, a game about a straight male character, received all the same “not really a game” criticisms that Gone Home did.

Let’s talk about the fact that The Stanley Parable was a story specifically targeted toward gamers, deconstructing the idea of following a set path. Why don’t we mention that it had a nonlinear plot, or the amazing audience connection it developed?

Let’s talk about how Gone Home was yet another Tragic Lesbian story about forbiddden romance, a cliche so overplayed it has a place on The Worst Muse

Or how about we talk about Mighty Jill Off, a game about lesbians, made by a trans woman, and released to critical acclaim? 

Of all the possible comparisons that could be drawn between Gone Home and The Stanley Parable, and all the explanations we could give for the latter receiving less criticism, what is gained by blaming it on the female main character? Who does that empower? What message does that send to a soulless market researcher who is scouring social media to discern what sort of game will sell well? What message does it send to a new indie developer who needs to make a successful game to survive? Hell, what message does it send to a young girl who wants to get into the games’ industry but doesn’t have the upper-middle-class luxury of pursuing an education that won’t necessarily pay off her tuition?

Fuck that noise, is what I’m saying! If you want to help a group, take the angle that will empower them, emphasizing their innate value and what they can achieve, not the angle that will make them feel even more disadvantaged and hopeless. These are the sort of tactics that are used in wartime to make enemies surrender or desert; we should not be using them on people we want to help. We shouldn’t be trusting people who use them.

And actually, a more important question: when people do this stuff, why don’t we view it as misogyny? 

Like… blaming a sexist statement on an external factor doesn’t make it less sexist. A person who pushes the idea that a game with a female protagonist can’t become successful because the game industry is so male-dominated is still pushing the idea that a game with a female protagonist can’t become successful. Blaming it on an external factor doesn’t change that. 

If anything, it’s reminiscent of biotruths - this idea that something’s not actually bigoted if it’s backed up with “fact”. Only, rather than justifying our statements with biology, we justify them with social observations. When we see a game like Portal get critical acclaim despite having a cast entirely consisting of nonsexualized female characters, we don’t take it as a refutation of the idea that the games industry is horribly biased against female characters. Instead, we try to explain it off as an anomaly - saying that its excellent design made up for its female protagonist, or that it would’ve been even more popular with a male one. We use the exact same rhetoric a flagrant misogynist would use to dismiss people like Marie Curie or Jane Goodall, claiming that their femaleness was a liability they managed to overcome.

And like… why is that okay? What is with this emphasis on femininity being a liability? Why don’t we talk about marketing benefits in making game characters that stand out from the norm? Why don’t we talk about the 47% of the human population so few developers are directly catering toward?  I’ve seen tens of thousands of people reblogging posts griping about how female-centric games get less marketing attention, but I’ve personally never seen anyone talking about these tens of thousands of people here right now who would buy a high-budget game with a female or gay or trans protagonist. 

This isn’t even limited to sexism. Even when we’re not in a group, we talk about all the things racial minorities can’t do because of white people, or all the things sexual minorities can’t do because of straight people, and rather than talking about the things they can do and how it can be used to their advantage, we just leave it at this message of hopelessness. We go to extensive lengths to empower these group’s enemies, but do almost nothing for the people we purportedly care about.

And tying this back to the earlier parts, is it really just an avoidance of guilt? Do we just want to avoid the knowledge that we could have made things better if we had acted more strategically? Or is there something more malicious? Are there people out there, right now, suppressing groups by empowering their enemies, defending their bigotry as being veritable “sociotruths”? 

This isn’t a conspiracy theory. This is a thing people do. It’s a thing people do in wars. It’s a thing people do in business. It’s even a thing people do when playing games - bombarding their enemies with a feeling of hopelessness until they weaken and give up. We all understand the excitement of making everyone at the table fold when you secretly have a shitty hand. When you leave a game and enter the real world, your enemies don’t suddenly get dumber.

The people who oppose you want you to feel disempowered. They want you to feel hopeless, and outclassed, and like no matter what you do, it won’t matter. They want you to spread a message of disempowerment, and to take offense at the idea that you have strength that you are not using. Most of all, they want you to get fucked over, and you need to know this so you don’t play into their plans. 

The world is not kind, but it’s okay because you’re awesome. You need to understand that.

If you feel like you are disadvantaged in an endeavor, you can overcome it. It might not be easy, and you might have to get a little strategic about it, but that’s okay, because there are a lot of resources on doing shit like that. Some people start in the hardest starting position, and that's not fair, but it means that you need to do everything you can to stack the odds in your favor. You need to look past the people who tell you things are hopeless, or encourage you to spread that message of hopelessness, because chances are they have an agenda. Play better than your enemies. Have an underhanded agenda of your own. 

I’m a writer. I write comics about a sad cat. I describe my thoughts and methods in excruciating longwinded detail so you can learn from it. If I do something that works well, you can copy me; if I do something that backfires horribly, you can avoid repeating my mistakes. I will get criticism for being heartless and manipulative and cold and tactical, but I’m okay with that because I don’t want to leave you with a piece of vague advice like “write from your heart and things will work out”. I know that, unless you are a wealthy white cisgendered male with perfect industry connections, that isn’t going to be enough. 

It means you will have to take take blame for your missteps. Understanding the power your actions have means understanding that bad things are partially due to your own actions - or lack thereof - and are not solely a factor of external circumstances. When you get mugged, you’ll think “I could’ve stopped this if I brought my pepper spray”. When your project fails, you’ll think “it would’ve worked if I did things differently”. Sometimes, you’ll accidentally almost kill Tom Siddell. This is normal. Recognize it, because that’s the only way you’ll keep it from happening again.

You are almost never truly helpless, and by proxy you are almost never truly blameless. It’s a worldview not everyone is comfortable with, but one I stand by nonetheless.

Once when I was younger, I was at a little clinic to get a flu shot. A teenage boy and his father were sitting next to me in the waiting room. The teenage boy was writhing in pain.

We were in that waiting room a very long time before he was called in. A while after he was called in, an ambulance arrived, taking him away on a stretcher to the nearest hospital equipped to perform surgeries. A nurse I asked later said it was a very inflamed appendix. His father was following the stretcher, and looked me in the eyes on the way out.

I don’t know if the boy was okay, but I still think about it sometimes. I knew the signs of appendicitis. I knew how to differentiate it from a stomach ache or regular nausea. I sat in that waiting room for minutes and minutes watching him writhe, his father putting a gentle hand on his back for comfort the boy could barely acknowledge. I never thought to look at the signs, or that it might have been something serious and that I should’ve stood up immediately and gone over to them and said that, yes, this boy needed to get to a proper hospital as soon as possible. I just sat there, watching, and I still remember the look his father gave me as they left.

I feel responsible for whatever happened to him. It’s not a wholly bad feeling though, because it carries with it a certain level of empowerment. I know that if I’m ever in that position again, I’ll know what to do. I’ll know there’s something I can do, and that I’ll be prepared to act. Next time, I won’t miss it. 

And if you are ever there, clutching yourself in agony, you had best hope that there will be someone like me the room. If it’s just a bunch of people who think the problem is out of their control, you’re going to end up in the ground.