Gorean Chronicles: The Kur

Kur

FUND IT

The Kur are the great opposing force in the battle behind the scenes for the future of Gor and Earth. The Gor are hulking, brutish, savage creatures living in artificial habitats – made from generation ships – hiding around the solar system’s gas giants and asteroid belt. They have been warring the Priest Kings for control of the solar system for hundreds, thousands of years, possibly even longer, without making any real headway. They have been thwarted at every turn either by the Priest Kings and their technology directly, or by their human agents mobilising against their plots and schemes.

The Kur may be monstrous creatures but they often seem more comprehensible and sympathetic than the Priest Kings, despite their exotic bred slaves and their eating of human flesh. The Kur are more relatable, despite their violence and brutality. They have a sense of honour, they keep their word, they have their affections and loyalties yet they are – at the same time – alien. They have engineered themselves, losing many mammalian traits and creating insensate living wombs to bear their young. They consider a leader to embody a cause, so that his failure reflects upon the whole.

Kur technology is more advanced than human technology and may once have rivaled the Priest Kings, but that higher state of their technology has been left behind in the thousands of years they cruised between the stars seeking their new home.

The Kur operate on Earth and Gor in secret and there’s suggestion that they are involved with governments, corporations and educational establishments as a way of taking slaves, finding agents, buying up gold, chocolate, coffee and tea to transport to Gor where they can use these goods to disrupt economies and to finance their operations on Gor.

There’s a whole, possible, second game here, dealing with the slave-taking and intrigue on Earth.

Gorean Chronicles – Worldbook sample ‘L’

Sabertooth_Tiger

Larls are sabretooth cats. This art is from the Dragon’s Crown game, but gives some idea.

FUND IT

Larl: The larl is a great, predatory cat, clawed and fanged with saber teeth a foot long and standing some seven feet at the shoulder. The larl has a broad head – two feet across – triangular and pointed. Most commonly they have red or sable-black fur, especially in the mountains. Black larls have manes, both male and female alike, while the red larl lacks a mane.

All larls have four nostrils and a tough, bony ridge running back from its nose to its neck. White larls are even bigger, dangerous, tundra animals with snow white fur and some black markings.  Their tails are tufted and used to signal other larls with whom they sometimes hunt in prides, also signaling to each other with cries that they pick up on their large, triangular ears. Larls have a powerful homing instinct that leads them back to their whelping grounds in the mating seasons, an instinct that frequently overcomes attempts to tame them. Larls are powerful and fierce, in combat they are even more fierce and unstoppable than tharlarion, powered by their massive, eight-valved heart.

When they are hunted it is by lines of men with spears. The last man holds a sword and should the beast charge through the line the man with the sword sacrifices himself while the others finish the beast. Famously untamable the only people known to have done so are the Pani, who use trained larls as fierce guard animals.

#Destiny Review Redux

BxRsfydIcAANE5II played in the beta, and whatever it was before the beta (which certainly wasn’t an alpha) and I find myself perplexed by the response of many webcomics cartoonists and bloggers to the game. That response being disappointment for many. Review sites – in the spotlight recently over #gamergate have been giving it scores like 6 and 7/10, which are actually more like 4’s and 5’s once you take into account score bias (where the average trends towards 7).

For me, the game isn’t a disappointment, despite having thrashed through the Earth stages a huge number of times during beta access and having to do so again with the full release. Despite having already played through it in some intense play over the last week (I was laid up with a fractured wisdom tooth for a couple of days).

I can see myself continuing to play the game a great deal in much the same way I continued to play Trion’s Defiance console MMO (also very good!) even after I completed that.

So why have I had such a different reaction to Destiny than so many other people and why is it – in my opinion – a very good and worthwhile game?

I think I can nail down a few reasons.

  1. I didn’t follow the hype: I understand Destiny has been hugely hyped but I hadn’t really been following it that much. My expectations were shaped by my experience in the beta and not anything else. If I hadn’t played in the beta it wouldn’t be on my radar because…
  2. I wasn’t expecting Halo: I didn’t especially like Halo. It was expensive for the single player campaigns and I’m not a fan of PvP which is where the franchise seemed to be increasingly concentrated. Because I wasn’t expecting Halo I wasn’t disappointed and was, in fact, delighted by what appears to be the bastard offspring of Borderlands and Phantasy Star.
  3. I’m a Roleplayer: The views, the lore, the Grimoire (no pun intended) are crack to me. I want to understand this bizarre, post-transhuman world in which we find ourselves playing. I have been inspired enough to start putting together a kit to play Destiny as an RPG (using Numenera) and I’ve been poring over my Grimoire, reading the strategy guide for the lore and poking at the online wikis to see more about it. It’s a really, really interesting world even if it is all based around a singular deus-ex-machina in the form of The Traveler and pseudo-scientific techno mysticism.

Graphically the game is superb, the first new-generation game to really seem to stretch the legs of the PS4.

The music is great and will likely come to form background to some of our tabletop roleplaying sessions in the same way the soundtracks to Mass Effect and other games have (Prince of Persia was great while playing Dark Sun).

Gameplay wise, yes, there’s not a huge amount of levels yet, but the design is tight and they are replayable in different builds, different character types and at different levels. The Strike missions remain genuinely challenging and fun and the patrol missions are excellent time sinks already, especially with random events going off.

The elements many have complained about, the lore being scarce, the story being incomplete and unsatisfying make sense within an MMO context, you don’t want to shoot your bolt and have nothing left. I am sure more is to be revealed over time, though I appreciate people’s frustration with the current state of play.

I can’t stand PvP, so I can’t really comment on that aspect of the game.

Score
Style: 4.5/5 (a true next-gen piece of art, but I found the character design a little too dehumanising, distant and ‘unsexy’)
Substance: 3/5 (while the substance of the game is currently rather limited, the promise it holds is enormous. The hints of further Earth areas – Chicago, Mumbai, and other planets – especially the Jovian sub-system – all hold enormous promise that I hope will be fulfilled).
Overall: 3.75/5

The major problem with Destiny is that there isn’t enough of it. When you’ve made a game, that’s a nice problem to have and one that’s fixable.

Also, give us facial hair, goddamn pogonophobic game industry.

#Gamergate – Where David Hill Went Wrong

[Cartoon from plebcomics on Tumblr, which remains hilarious and which you should check out]

NB: This blog is getting more hits than most previous things I’ve done. So I’m going to use the opportunity to direct you to my IndieGoGo fundraiser for a Chronicles of Gor tabletop RPG and worldbook with art by Michael Manning (hopefully). Please consider even a small donation if you enjoy this article or any of my others. Link HERE.

*Rolls up my sleeves*

Hi. I make games. I write about games. I get paid to make games. I used to get paid to write about games. I walked away from paid writing about games, because it was a pretty shitty, corrupt, jaded process that really flew in the face of why I wanted to write about games.

Hi, I make games. I write about games. I get paid to make games. I’ve helped out in the support for games and I know plenty who write about games. It is true that it is a pretty shitty, corrupt, jaded process and it has been for a long time.

I’ve talked to a lot of pro- #GamerGate  people over the past few days. I’ve tried to hear out as many as I could. It was hard. I want to first address why that was hard, then I want to try to address some of the trends between the reasonable, cool people I spoke with. 

I’ve talked to a lot of anti-gamergate people since it began. I’ve tried to hear them out but it has pretty much universally been a hate-fest with all manner of misrepresentations, deflections, dodges, hedges and – ironically – derailings. There are seemingly no honest, capable, thoughtful people on the ‘other side’ of this debate.

First off, it’s very difficult to wade through the hate. The signal to noise ratio is not good. In fact, it’s terrible. If you’re reasonable, and you want to have a conversation, it’s difficult to do that when the person is hearing ten death threats and thirty insults for every single reasonable message. That mars any perception of credibility for a group that’s invested heavily in credibility and ethics. 

I find myself repeatedly asking this question of the SJW side of the debate.

Why are you taking trolls seriously?

No, really. It’s an adage practically as old as the public internet that you ‘don’t feed the trolls’ and yet I see this happening constantly on the SJW side and not just in relation to gamergate. Sarkeesian has practically made a living from taking trolls seriously and playing it up while begging for donations. I know you’ll call that ‘victim blaming’ but it does bear consideration, especially given she’s a known fraud with links to pyramid schemes and scams like handwriting analysis.

Block, report, mute, we have the tools to deal with trolls and we know how to use them, so why not use them? Could it be that trolls give the appearance of evidence that games are filled with misogynistic social outcasts and thus appear to support your thesis? A tad exploitative no?

Trolls are an issue, but it’s a separate issue. They’ll flock to any controversy to wind people up and the best thing to do is to ignore them.

It’s not like the harassment has been one-sided, HERE. The difference, of course, being that a lot of the harassment of pro-gamergate people is sincere.

It’s not exactly like David himself is immune to being… trollish (the target here being me, and not for the first time, so I’ll admit bias against the man based on his track record and espoused beliefs).

Hillgun

Or retweeting trolls and abuse come to that. Tablehop there is a notorious abuser under a variety of accounts.

Now, I’ve heard a few people say, “Point out the threats and insults when they happen! We’ll report those people! They don’t speak for us!” I’ve seen numerous people pointing these threats and harassments out. A couple of very bad times, I saw some people jump in, report, and otherwise shut down the threats. But more often than not (by a wide margin) what I saw was apologism and excuses for the threats and harassment. I saw a lot of “but this time it’s warranted!” style messages. That doesn’t help anyone. That doesn’t build dialogue. 

Why are you taking trolls seriously? What about the abuse from your side? What about YOUR abuse and trolling? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

So, if you want to know why there are prominent journalists right now talking about how gamer culture is toxic, and how gamers as a label are dead, this is why. Because even if you’re rational, passionate, and wanting good things, your voice is being drowned out by loud, hateful, toxic people. 

And because these journalists, even from broadsheets, don’t take the time to do even five minutes of research, exposing their own lack of professionalism.

A couple of days ago, I posted an email from the San Francisco Police Department verifying a police report placed by Anita Sarkeesian. Why? Because a muckraker accused her of lying, and drummed up a BUNCH of hate. His message had over six hundred reshares. His thread had dozens of people talking about how she needs to be imprisoned, how she needs to be shot, and how she’s… you get the picture. So, I fact-checked.

If this is true, good. However it raises questions such as why the reporter and others who contacted the police and FBI were told something different. So we’re now in a position of having multiple queries saying she didn’t and one – yours – saying she did.  So where does that leave us exactly? Back in ‘he said-she said’ with it coming down to sides.

NB: It turns out the Breitbart reporter broke this on Twitter (the FBI involvement) the day before David.

Of course, either way, this doesn’t alter suspicion that some of the troll threats were manufactured.

And I posted the results of that fact-checking. Did I get six hundred people recanting their threats, insults, and accusations? No. I got a couple dozen people threatening me, and a fuckton of people insulting me for DARING to fact-check a journalist. When, mind you, the Gamergate movement is supposedly about holding journalists accountable. Do you know how many messages came up to the effect of, “Oh. I shouldn’t have jumped the gun and accused her without the facts?” None. None at all. 

Why are you taking trolls seriously?

I also don’t think you’re quite presenting what happened in an honest manner, but rather with typical bias. As I point out above, that’s only turned this into a he-said/she-said thing with no likely resolution in sight for the time being. I have tweeted the Breitbart reporter in search of more clarification.

Part of the problem here is that there is a mob of amateur sleuths trying to get at the truth because the so-called professionals have utterly failed them.

So understand why a lot of us say, “This group of people is toxic.” It’s because a large majority of what we’re experiencing is people doing very toxic things. There are some reasonable voices. But from where we stand, they’re a stark minority. The movement is about accountability and ethics in journalism, yet the ONLY reaction I got from fact-checking a journalist was hate, denial, threats, and insults. From where I stand, calling Gamergate toxic and hateful isn’t a far stretch at all, because it appears to be doing toxic and hateful things.

From where gamergate, and more broadly the opposition to SJW censorship stands the SJW grouping is toxic, for much the same reasons. The important difference, of course, is that the majority of SJWs don’t appear to be insincere trolls. By your own standard we could hold up social justice (minus the warriors) as toxic, oppressive and hateful because of the actions of Tumblr SJWs and people like yourself.

Yes, I’m aware ‘SJW’ isn’t the most polite term, but it’s the best one that we have to describe this extremist, censorious mindset. As morally conservative in its own way as any evangelical right radicalism of the Reagan era.

Yes, there’s some positive. Yay, charities. But that’s drowned out. And ironically, when we hear about a charity or otherwise positive thing, it’s universally used as a method of attack. For example, there was a period where the Gamergate folks had it in their head that Zoe Quinn was lying about charitable donations. They’d trot out, “We aren’t lying con artists! We really donate to charities!” Essentially, weaponizing charity. Then, I also heard a lot of people bragging when Zoe’s donations were verified officially by the charities, because a group of (allegedly) thousands of people were able to donate more than a single independent game designer. Like seriously, very petty shit. 

But also rather valid. Exasperation at an abusive public figure was more effective than their own attempts to raise consciousness and elicit donations. Ironic. You’re showing your biased lens again here. It’s equally valid to say that the group responded to injustices by correcting them. The interference with The Fine Young Capitalists crowdfunding project for one and the apparent – at the time – scamming of charitable donations on the other.

Even more positively some sites have responded to gamergate with tighter ethical guidelines, most notably The Escapist which has lead the way on this (disclosure, I’ve been talking to the general manager there about Gamergate and related issues for a little while).

So, corruption in journalism. Can I let you in on a secret? We want to have that conversation. We all do, with maybe a couple of exceptions. This is a conversation we’ve tried to have, and wanted to have for years. But why aren’t we just sitting down and talking it over and smiling and playing games and shutting up about the feminisms? Basically, it’s because we’re having two completely different conversations. One’s an insider conversation, informed about the industry. The other is an outsider conversation, based on half-truths, misunderstandings, and what we see as skewed priorities.

We are, indeed, having two separate conversations and yes, the corruption has been an issue for years, though it has nudged over the parapet before the discussion has never completely taken hold.

Why?

Well, I have my suspicions. Journalists have done very well out of the status quo, sites depend on the corruption not being overtly exposed because then they lose previews, early access and free demo copies (which kills their ability to hype and do their job properly).

Why is it different this time around and how does it relate to ‘the feminisms’? Because gamers are fed up of being lectured and games being analysed on arbitrary political orthodoxy rather than their actual merits as games. This has been going on for a while now, though it first really penetrated my consciousness around 2010 and it’s not just happening in games media. We’re saturated with this kind of ideological gatekeeping and abuse in games, tabletop games, fiction, film, TV. Everything we like is bad and awful and it brainwashes us into being violent, misogynistic, racist… etc… etc… etc.

And people took it for a long time, because they want these kind of geek spaces to be inclusive and people are evangelical about their hobbies. They want other people to like them. Still, nothing seemed to satisfy, nothing seemed to quiet the abuse and so resentment began to build.

The indie scene should just mean independent, but as with tabletop games and with music it took on a character of its own and became quite ideological. At least people were actually making games but a lot of the developers with an SJW slant sold their games and ideas more on abuse of other people’s tastes than the merits of their own. David does this himself as well. He’s to be praised for making his own games in his own way to his own ideas, but to be damned for selling that off the back of abuse of similar efforts made by others (yes, me included). So it has been with the computer game indie scene.

The corruption within the Indie computer game scene has taken hold for a variety of reasons then, including the above.

Gamers have become pissed off because of the following:

  • Abuse of the community.
  • Resentment in the community.
  • Politicisation of reviews.
  • Indies relative lack of sway.
  • Indies being supposed to be better and professing better ideology (hypocrisy)
  • The community collectively reaching the end of its tether.

On our side, a lot of journalists hate the nepotism, and most importantly, they hate the relationship the industry has with journalism. Because a while back ago, “games journalism” was essentially coopted as a marketing arm for certain AAA publishers. At that point, AAA publishers became gatekeepers for success in games journalism. It’s awful, because we want to be talking critically. We want to be looking at games in different lights. We want to approach these works of art as works of art, and not just as the next success or flop. But that can’t happen on any large scale, because of that corruption, because of the commercialism of it all.

So not as games then. There’s another source of the divide too.

Gamers seemingly want games to – at least primarily – be gauged on their qualities as games. The value for money, the longevity, the replayability, the sound, the graphics, the story. Not the degree to which it conforms with arbitrary ideological stances and the commissars that seek to enforce that.

Let’s take an example unrelated to the current mire of gender issues as a case-in-point.

Bioshock was a fairly conventional game in a lot of ways, a run-and-gun first person shooter of the type we’ve seen many times before. The graphics were good, the water effects fantastic, the scenery and level design inspiring, the story stand-out good. By most accounts a pretty great game and a large part of what made it great was its story of a failed utopia, a collapsed ‘Galt’s Gulch’.

Imagine, however, a review written by a dyed-in-the-wool Libertarian extremist who worshipped at the altar of Ayn Rand. How might they review such a game? Would such a review be worth anyone’s time in trying to work out whether they want to purchase it any longer? Would them complaining that the representation of Objectivism was unrealistic (in an undersea city where you have pseudo-magical powers) be meaningful in any real way?

That doesn’t mean that we should ignore the presence of the ideological underpinnings and representation in the game, just that we shouldn’t pass judgement on it. It’s worth noting and mentioning, whether it agrees with our personal ideology or not, but it’s not worth damning it and harranguing your audience based on your own political slant.

Ideological reviews are really just shitty reviews.

The way a lot of the Gamergate stuff looks to us really looks like some strange bizarro world where the games industry works completely different than it really does.

The question is more should it work that way?

The biggest targets of Gamergate have been people who are frankly powerless in the games industry. People like Zoe Quinn and Phil Fish, they are not gatekeepers. They are not able to enact any real, significant influence on the industry. Most independent game jams, awards, and exhibitions are small groups of people, trying to make names for themselves in their little ponds. That’s how independent artists work in pretty much every creative field. They can’t compete with the game industry, so they’re trying to carve out their own little micro industry, where they do their own things and have a captive audience. 

ZQ isn’t really a ‘target’ of gamergate per se. Her actions may have sparked and sustained it, but it’s not about going after her per se. It’s about going after bad practice and ideological demagoguery. As such she remains a target only because she continuously puts herself forward and because she’s linked to so many dodgy dealings. Fish is pretty much just a pseudo-troll at this point.

Are these people gatekeepers? New, young, up-and-coming devs seem to think so because they’re part of cliques that collectively do wield power. They’re also part of the SJW mob which seems to claim a lot of journalists who very much are gatekeepers. Again, if you look back, their niche is carved out primarily – it seems – by hating on what other people love and less upon doing what they love and giving it wings.

It’s gone beyond just the indies now though and into journalism and through that there will be an effect on the triple-A’s because new disclosure policies will also affect AAA reviews.

Gamergate did that. It’s a huge, positive step for everyone. Is it enough? Probably not. We do need to carry on working and bring AAAs under scrutiny too.

“SJWs” aren’t affecting widescale change in video games. There’s some minor change here and there. But most of it is shit that, if you weren’t aware was changed, you wouldn’t know was any different. If they get what they want, and that’s a big if, the end result will be a few more games featuring a little more diversity, and maybe less rape and objectification. This will never, ever approach social justice change in major titles like Call of Duty. The SJWs know that. The Call of Duty developers are making Call of Duty. Nobody expects them to make something else. There’s room for Call of Duty. Nobody is trying to take it away. Fuck, the ideal is ultimately MORE GAMES. This is a good thing. Experimental games move the industry forward, and make your core games better. Those games get to be the testing ground where we try out new ideas in a less risk adverse environment. 

Here’s where we disagree. SJWs are, indeed, having a profound and negative effect across geek media and it’s primarily exercised through niche journalism. As noted before it has happened in tabletop gaming, it has happened in SF&F (Hugo awards, SFWA shenanigans etc), TV, Film. There is a concerted effort to affect change and it is profoundly dishonest, manipulative and predicated upon ideological wishful thinking rather than facts. We’ve all been through this before in the past with satanic panics, Jack Thompson and even Elvis’ hips.

Here’s the problem. The one thing I can still praise David for is that he does, actually, go out and make games. He doesn’t just carp from the sidelines, he actually tries to make things happen and to put his material out there. However it is deeply ironic to hear him echo my sentiment that people should just ‘MAKE MORE GAMES’ when he and others have specifically tried to prevent me from doing so, and not just me but others. This done via harassment campaigns, petitions to publishers and other means.

It’s deeply hypocritical.

If that is what were going on ‘MOAR GAMEZ!’ I think we’d all be happy, but SJWs seem intent on decrying, damning and demonising what everyone else is doing and claiming that these media are somehow responsible for evil and bad things in the world.

It seems, to me, we’ve heard this tune before.

Anita Sarkeesian? So far, a writer for an already very diverse game was influenced to cop to a trope in his games, and say he won’t be using it again. Fundamentally, the game is still a manshooter game. Just, one story element will be swapped out for something else in the future, instead of recycling the same old thing. That’s pretty much as far as her influence has gone. 

Sarkeesian is this generation’s Jack Thompson, Fredric Wertham or Pat Pulling. She is a known fraud who is somehow still being lionised by mainstream media and held up as a saintly example. She wields influence, sadly, and while there is room for discussion on these topics her profoundly dishonest way of approaching it and the fact she’s a known fraud make her the wrong person to do it. She also makes the mistake of the Thompsons, Werthams and Pullings of trying to claim fictive experiences affect real world interactions. She’s just another mad preacher claiming that Pokemon teaches evolution and leads helpless children to hell.

Here’s why: She’s not trying to enact and force change. She’s pointing out trends, the way an art critic does. Some people might look to what she’s saying, and ask for more exceptions from that trend. Some developers might see those trends in their work, and shift away. But she’s never once said that games featuring sexist tropes should not be made. She even makes explicitly clear in every one of her videos that playing games with sexist tropes is okay, it’s not wrong to have fun with those games. But, certain trends do influence attitudes, according to numerous scientific studies. She doesn’t say these games will make you sexist. That would be stupid, since she, and numerous SJW types, have played these games. If she was saying that, and she’s not, she would have to follow up her videos with, “I played this game. It made me sexist.” 

Yes, she is (5:10 side by side comparison with Thompson), and she’s part of a continuum of people who have co-opted the public discussion of games with this material and slag off their own audience in so doing. They are absolutely trying to change games, with the explicit and laughable purpose of: “dismantling hegemonic masculinity through intimate friendships. Tearing down those emotional walls that are part of the infrastructure of gendered oppression.”

The DiGRA transcripts are hilarious and horrifying at the same time. Apologies for linking to a video, but other sources and links keep getting taken down. HERE.

Do you know what else this focus on Anita’s doing? It’s making your games worse. And I’m not saying, “Oh, if you leave Anita alone, she’ll make games better”. No. But right now, AAA game executives see people like Anita calling for diversity in games, and they’re seeing people like Gamergate attacking them vehemently. They see SO much hate. They see 650 people retweeting the guy claiming she lied about a police report. This tells them that the market doesn’t want diversity. This tells them to double down on boring, scruffy 30-something male protagonist with a dark past, blah, blah. When we look at games like Watch Dogs, and we think they could have done better if they were a little more ambitious, understand that people shitting on “SJWs” causes that risk averse, milquetoast game design. 

Only if they’re not paying attention. The market does want diversity, they don’t want to be lectured on how awful they are if they decide to play Lollipop Chainsaw or Dragon’s Crown. What they see when they look at SJWs is that no matter what they do it will never be enough and it will end up making games less diverse and imaginative, not more. Free expression needs defending FROM SJWs, not BY them. If you doubt that enforcing (whether by the mob or legislation) a code on games makers will smash diversity, history has a lesson for you about the Comics Code.

You can have discussions about Anita’s points. But understand that she’s making critique. A lot of it is subjective. A lot of it relies on specific definitions that she gives. For example, it’s popular to attack her use of Hitman as an example of Women as Background Decoration. However, the only way it’s not a valid example is if you’re not actually using her definition. Essentially, you’re throwing out her thesis and applying a different thesis to her examples. That’s not fair, and it’s not academically sound.

Screaming ‘misogyny!’ and misrepresenting games, removing context etc is not criticism. Nor is politicised polemicism criticism. Even if she had a good point it would be lost in the fact that – again this needs pointing out – she’s a known fraud. It’s popular to attack her use of Hitman because it is, again, presented sans context and it’s not how anyone – other than her it seems – reacts to the game. Her thesis is flat out wrong and her methodology is deliberately and explicitly biased. The counter-criticism is absolutely valid.

But have these discussions! Just focus on the art, the trends, and the culture. Don’t focus on the person. Because if your goal is debunking her, you’ve already lost. Right now, people are throwing so much shit at her, hoping it sticks. Seriously. A journalist literally investigated whether or not she actually made a police report when people were threatening her life, and another prominent blogger demanded police report numbers from her. Neither of these people are entitled to that information. They’re trying so hard to catch her up in a lie, that they’re losing sight of what they’re doing, and how silly and unethical it looks. Why does Anita have to be discredited, if her points are not valid? If her arguments are wrong, discuss them. 

Isn’t that what you’re doing – on a larger scale – by conflating gamergate with the trolls? In that case its dishonest, but with Sarkeesian she is the public face of this sex-negative, feminist and SJW ideological censorship that is trying to be enacted. Why go after her reports? Because she is suspected of making up many of them and essentially profiting by being a professional victim. Exposing her with direct evidence that this is so shows (more) dishonesty on her part.

Right now, publishers are buying reviews. Right now, publishers are giving large amounts of money and other perks to journalists in order to skew the public perception and influence, both positively and negatively, game sales. Right now, Metacritic is being used to determine whether or not designers get to keep their jobs. Right now, AAA executives are cutting women and LGBT characters out of games in development, because of “the core demographic”. These are huge problems. These are problems we want to talk about. These are problems we want to fix. 

And also right now ideologues are colluding in an attempt to control the dialogue around games and prosecute a political agenda. This is the fallacy of relative privation.

Yes, these issues need looking at (though you made a rod for your own back with the representation issue) but that doesn’t excuse what’s going on in games journalism or amongst the indies.

We aren’t going to smile and nod while hundreds of people dogpile a couple of people’s sex lives. We’re not going to cheer you on while muckrakers are hounding people for answers to stupid, invasive questions they shouldn’t be asking. We want a better industry. But we feel that what we’re seeing, or at least the bulk of what we’re seeing is making a worse industry. 

I don’t think anyone has really given that much of a toss about the fact that ZQ cheated on her boyfriend a huge number of times, other than the boyfriend and the Breitbart writer – though only in his headline IIRC. What caught people’s attention was that it appeared to be sex for favours and whether or not it was there was clear CoI which was not declared. Again, this was just the starting point and continually trying to drag it back to ZQ is an attempt to derail and make it about ‘slut shaming’ and ‘misogyny’ rather than about corruption. Nobody is falling for it any more.

Here’s the perspective from my side of the aisle, though it seems I’m hardly ever believed.

We have a corruption problem in computer games media and it exists at all levels, whether ideological (SJW issues, especially sex-negative radical feminism) or financial (AAA publishers). Gamergate has accomplished a lot of god in relation to these issues in exposing ideologues, causing a couple of resignations of writers who wrote hit pieces with huge CoI issues around them and most fundamentally and importantly facilitating ethical standard enforcement on key news sites (again, shout out to The Escapist).

My chief concern as a game creator, writer, historian and ‘politics buff’  is broader than the corrupt reviews. My concern is censorship and the constriction of free expression. I see the SJW ideological issue across geek media, and I’m going to reiterate these points I’ve made before. It is controlling the narrative and not in a good way, it is leading to harassment of creators, censorship of creators, self-censorship of creators. It is denying people opportunities and it is spreading lies about people. It is predicated upon a false premise that ‘problematic media’ are actually a problem, rather than vicarious – and sometimes uncomfortable – entertainment in a fictive space.

I am a free expression radical, admittedly, I don’t see why anything should be off limits provided nobody real is actually harmed and everything is nice and consensual between real people. As such I oppose the UK’s ‘opt out’ porn filtering and the ‘extreme porn ban’. As such I oppose busybody interference in games, writing, films, TV etc. As such I oppose the SJW agenda of subjecting any and all fictive media to its litmus tests for political orthodoxy.

It is popular to paint anyone who opposes this ideological censorship (though you likely won’t even admit that it IS censorship) as doing so because they’re misogynistic, racist, sexist etc, etc, etc. To paint the SJW as being a person of empathy, understanding and equality who just wants to make the world a better place.

I can’t speak for everyone but I want diversity, variety etc too. I’m a fan of equality, though I may define it differently to you. However, over and above anything else I believe in free expression. Diversity is great, insisting everything MUST be diverse is not, trying to force everything to be diverse is right out. Different female representations? Great! Insisting that they all conform to a sex-negative, no-sexualisation set of requirements? Not so great.

The huge variety of people on #notyourshield helps demonstrate that the SJWs are not really talking for the people that they think they’re talking for. It seems to be a movement rooted in Tumblrist special snowflake syndrome and pseudo-intellectual, academic media analysis with a feminist/Marxist slant. As a person on the left myself I hate to use the term Marxist as it’s a pushbutton word for some people, but this idea of false consciousness (internalised misogyny etc) has been allowing anti-gamergate people to ironically ignore and marginalise the #notyourshield people as not knowing what’s best for them.

That’s the ultimate arrogance of the SJW point of view though, isn’t it? This media is bad for you, I know, because I consumed it and it didn’t have any bad effect on me…

Hmm. Right.

Make more art. Make your own art. Stop shitting on what other people love. That’ll do far more for your cause than what you have been doing.

Pax.

Gorean Chronicles: The Priest Kings

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A classic cover – though Priest Kings are a bit more like a mantis

FUND IT

The Priest Kings are the force behind Gor and the driving force of much of the societal nature of Gor. It is the Priest Kings who set the technology and armour rules, it appears to be the Priest Kings whose anti-like society of strict castes and roles, that drives much of Gorean politics. It is the Priest Kings whose – detached and alien – perspective appears to inform the way they keep humans in a ‘state of nature’, compared with the society of humans on Earth.

The world of Gor itself, appears to be very ancient and the Priest Kings claim to have transported it from its original place. The life on it seems to stem from different worlds and different times, perhaps brought there as some sort of ‘zoo’. The presence of the spider people near Ar, the ‘wild’ Kur and beasts that may come from Earth’s past (as well as fossils and bones) make the whole world seem like one gigantic experiment.

It’s interesting to think how an alien intelligence might look at humanity and might consider our ‘state of nature’. The way we study ourselves is necessarily, inherently biased by the fact that we are humans and that we like to think of ourselves certain ways, as exceptional and not as animals like every other animal. Whether we agree with the conclusions of the Priest Kings or not (I wouldn’t) it’s still a fascinating way to look at things and the way that Gorean society might mirror that of wild animals – in a more complex fashion.

The Priest Kings are the ‘deus ex machina’ for the Gorean setting. Their technology is near magical, they are secretive and unknown to most, they can hide planets from detection and manipulate society, they can strike down those they chose to with the flame death and eliminate technology that breaches their rules.

The ‘cold war’ between the Priest Kings and the Kur underlies almost everything in the Gorean chronicles.  It’s at work at every level and it’s a disinterested alien intelligence, versus monstrous cannibals. Is there any, possible, winner at all in such a conflict?

Gorean Chronicles – Worldbook Sample K

Kaiila

FUND IT

Kaiila: Virtually unknown in northern Gor, the kaiila is a silken-furred, carnivorous, lofty creature used as a mount by the Wagon People, the tribes of the Tahari and the Red Savages. Warm blooded, but without breasts, young kaiila are able to hunt as soon as they can stand.

Kaiila are swift and agile but lack the power of tharlarion, making them better suited to light cavalry and skirmish actions than to full-on assaults. Kaiila have large eyes each side of their heads, triple-lidded against dust, four rows of fangs and soft, padded, clawed feet.

They stand twenty to twenty-two hands at the shoulder with tremendous stamina, able to run six hundred pasangs a day on solid ground and fifty over dunes. Despite their usefulness as a mount, Kaiila are highly strung and vicious which makes training them and riding them a feat of courage. Southern Kaiila range in color from gold to black while Sand Kaiila are almost always tawny.

The Sand Kaiila subspecies is smaller and does suckle its young with a red milk (which contains blood). Sand kaiila are omnivorous, unlike their cousins, and have larger, more padded paws with webbed toes for moving on sand.

Gorean Chronicles – Kaissa of Worlds

KaissaFUND IT

The largest scale at which Gor can be played is the battle between the higher powers at work within the solar system, the Kur and the Priest Kings.

Both forces are extremely high tech and the monstrous Kur are only held back from taking Gor (and the Earth, which they desire less) by the presence and power of the Priest Kings whose technology is even more impressive.

The Kur have tried many times to infiltrate Gor and have failed at each turn, often thanks to the efforts of their agents – such as Tarl Cabot – and other times by chance or luck. They have raised armies of ‘native’ Kur, tried missile bombardments, invasions of the inner solar system, setting the cities against one another, trying to starve nations, set up bases in remote regions and even smuggle piecemeal war machines onto the planet.

Despite all this, they have – as yet – been unable to make any true progress in their attempts to conquer, but having traveled so far to claim a new home, they are unwilling to give up.

Intrigues also occur on Earth with both agents of Kur and the Priest Kings seemingly fighting a war of espionage on the surface of that world and also claiming slaves from amongst Earth’s populace to transport to Gor. The Kur, in particular, seem to favour training agents from the Earth – especially women – to lead their operations on Gor as well as transporting large number of Earth slaves to Gor to be sold in order to finance their operations there, landing stealth ships in remote locations to avoid the wrath of the Priest Kings.

The presence of the Kur and Priest Kings introduces a more fantastical and higher stakes element to adventures as well as potentially extending the action to Earth and the steel worlds of the Kur (space habitats hidden around Jupiter, Saturn and the asteroid belt). It is strongly suggested in the books that Earth governments, companies and even educational establishments are in cahoots with one or both alien forces and have hidden knowledge of these alien species and their technology. It’s also strongly suggested that the Gorean slave trade ties into the underground human trafficking networks on Earth.

This would make a great ‘in’ for Earth characters – male and female – to get tangled up in the cold war between the Kur and Priest Kings and transported to Gor. People whose moral and social ethics are wildly at odds with that world, making for interesting conflict and adventure.