Call of Cthentacle being Played

I gave out some free copies of Cthentacle at the Gamergate Birmingham and some of the guys played and recorded a session after I left.

Enjoy!

Onebookshelf Buckles

Onebookshelf, owners of DrivethruRPG and RPNOW appear to have buckled to the threats and fainting of the usual mob after the recent ‘Tournament of Rapists’ issue.

You can read their blog on the issue HERE and take the following notes.

  1. The blog makes a somewhat spirited defence of the sanctity of free expression…
  2. …but then buckles.
  3. The existence of the adult filter was acknowledged, but why this isn’t/wasn’t enough/sufficient was never really explored.
  4. They’re making a change – though it’s not justified or understandable in the context of the earlier comments.
  5. They’re keeping it simple ‘I don’t know what offensive content is, but I’ll know it when I see it’. This is better than hard and fast, gameable rules, but gives a publisher no solid ground to stand on when developing.
  6. They’re relying on complaints – which is going to encourage brigading and faux outrage.
  7. They’re not grandfathering old content, which puts any and all existing products under threat.

I’m slightly relieved, but mostly incredibly wary. This is the comment I left on G+

This sounds reasonable, but we’re already seeing the creep. The ‘slippery slope’ seems to have started with the actually inoffensive GG card game and that led on to this.

An open marketplace of ideas is simply too valuable and OBS occupies a position akin to Steam, just for TTRPG material. ‘Lord’ Gaben recently intervened to save the controversial game Hatred from being knocked off that platform.

Obviously I have some skin in this, controversial topics are a flame to my moth. I’ve made games about school shootings, mischaracterised online controversies, tongue-in-cheek tentacle sex and I have a huge, potentially ‘offensive’ project in the form of the Gor RPG imminent any day, which I now have cause to worry about.

People brigade products trying to get them banned or censored all the time. So automating the process could well be a bad thing.

You already have an ‘adult’ ghetto. As I understood it adult products shouldn’t get the full auto-promotion treatment and this product was not initially tagged.

Why isn’t this ‘back-rooming’ enough? How much of this is down to pressure from white-knight companies and why do they feel entitled to interfere in this way and why are they allowed to get away with it?

I’m now in a position where I don’t know if some of my all-time best selling products are going to be attacked, whether new products will be at the mercy of the fake-outrage mob and upon what bases you’ll be making decisions!

Perhaps it might have been better to keep more separation between RPGNOW and DTRPG to allow one to be more corporate and the other more indie and open.

Real talk, there aren’t a lot of other effective sites to sell on. e23 and Paizo sales never remotely match sales on OBS and other options like Gumroad don’t remotely match them. IMO this gives OBS a position of great responsibility to creators and it remains endlessly disappointing to me that so much of this pressure comes from creators – who should know better.

I guess we’ll have to see how things shake down, but this is incredibly worrying for anyone who likes ‘controversial’ (interesting) topics.

This may not sound like much, but it’s a significant defeat for free expression in tabletop gaming and will encourage the kind of censorious prigs what have been causing so much trouble across all manner of media in recent years. It’s not a good day.

Tournament of Fainters

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CORRECTION: The product WAS properly tagged as ‘adult’ and so already ghettoed and shouldn’t have been visible to anyone not wanting to see adult material, which makes the explosive fuss even less understandable.

I can’t let this pass without comment, even though my commentary is going to be decided predictable and is also going to be misinterpreted.

So a new product game out on RPGNOW/DrivethruRPG called ‘Tournament of Rapists‘. I have no idea if it’s any good and frankly, so long as the content is legal, I don’t care.

There are two actual mistakes that have been made. It wasn’t properly tagged as an ‘adult product’ and it went through the press-release process under automation. This was likely a mistake on the publisher’s part, not anyone else’s.

It’s part of a line of products dealing with similar dark anime/manga tropes and is meant for people who like that sort of thing (and no, that doesn’t mean they’re creeps or dangerous or anything else, any more than someone liking horror films makes them a serial killer).

Predictably, the response of the usual suspects – and others caught in their comet tail – has been outrage, refusing to sell via the company any more (we’ll see if that happens) or refusing to buy there. The same tactics that were used against the Gamergate Card Game (which should have been nowhere near as controversial as this is).

Mr Wieck, bigwig at the site, as responded that banning this would be a slippery slope, but that slope has already been slipped. These censorious muppets have been emboldened by the company yielding over the GGCC and feel they can do the same here again. Where WILL it stop? What about the back catalogue? How long and how well will the termites feed?

It doesn’t harm anyone to have this product on sale.

Anyone who chooses to read it has to make a conscious decision to purchase it.

If you don’t like it, don’t buy it. It’s really that simple.

You don’t have to make a big song and dance about it, you don’t have to try and force the company to censor creative output. Just don’t buy it. Go ahead and criticise if you want, but attacking the maker’s character without basis, threatening people and whipping up a mob is, frankly, bullshit.

A free creative market has enormous value.

Grow up.

The test of your beliefs is how you apply them to people you disagree with. If you truly believe in free expression – as most of you claim – then let it be. If you don’t want to censor – and it IS censorship – then don’t.

Really, just don’t buy the bloody thing.

And yes, your fussing and fainting IS ‘SJW bullshit’, it always is.

#Fiction Old, Fat Punk Released

Derek, Tim and ‘Trol’ are three ageing rebels, hitting their fifties. Disillusioned by the way the world has turned out and the frustration of their teenage dreams of a better life or a revolution.

All they have left are stories of past glory and pints of cheap beer at one of the last punk-pubs in London.

Watching a riot unfurl on television, to no point and no effect, their frustration boils over and they decide to do something futile and stupid, a grand, nihilistic gesture of futility.

Comedy, social and political satire, and frustration all meet in this story of a ‘revolutionary caper’

 

Smashwords

Amazon

Lulu (Hardcopy)

Drivethrufiction

Review: Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture

A narrative computer game, derisively called a ‘walking simulator’. EGttR is as long-winded as its name, painfully slow to play with no meaningful interaction.

There’s zero point to this being a computer game or interactive experience since it isn’t really an interactive experience in any meaningful way. It would have been better as a film, radio-play or miniseries.

Pretty though.

Style: 4/5
Substance: 1/5
Overall: 2.5

Looking back on a Year of ‘Gooberglob’

bannerOver a year ago now I heard there was some kind of scandal involving Zoe Quinn. I was concerned for a number of reasons, not least of all that – as a depressive – I had been promoting Depression Quest as a way to help non-depressed people understand what it could be like. I’d bigged up her ‘game’ a number of times, I’d supported her against what seemed to just be ‘haters’ and I’d even contributed to her fund when she was mugged. So when this came up I was, initially, concerned for Zoe and secondarily concerned that I might have been backing and supporting someone who wasn’t what they appeared to be.

I briefly logged on to the infamous IRC chat that was discussing this to try and get more information, got a few links and comments and went looking around.

While I was getting to the bottom of things, it all kicked off.

It was obvious that there were problems here and while the sex scandal aspect gave people some prurient ‘lulz’ it was also clear that there was potentially a serious problem with regard to the games media. A problem that raised questions that needed to be answered.

We all knew games media was rubbish, biased and agenda-laden, but ‘being crap’ is not necessarily the same thing as being corrupt. We already knew that games media was full of bribery, threats and so on that were skewing reviews (the average review score is 7/10, not 5/10, showing part of the problem), but people had largely adapted to this and become suspicious.

Here, however, we had indie developers, who had been held up as the wave of the future for a new, more moral, more ‘progressive’ games world, showing to be just as riddled with conflicts of interest and other ethical issues as anyone else. This was only confirmed by the rampant censorship of discussion about these issues – by the games the media that was under scrutiny – and the steadfast refusal of anyone in a position to do so to address the issues. Instead the whole thing was reframed into the existing (also overblown) narrative of online harassment and (also overblown) hostility to women in technology, which was nothing to do with anyone’s concerns.

The ‘Gamers are Dead’ onslaught and the revelation of the GameJournoPros email list – and the shenanigans that went on there – only upped the ante and are the things that really launched Gamergate into a full blown event and ‘movement’. It’s also what exposed further corruption and got people digging and boy, did they find a lot of things that were wrong.

For me, though, Gamergate is merely one aspect of a much bigger culture war. It’s a microcosm of the broader issues where it’s ‘reals versus feels’, where genuine, very real and honest concerns about corruption and bad practice get misrepresented as misogyny and where that mere accusation is SO powerful that even after concerns have been vindicated by the Society for Professional Journalism, that misogyny and harassment narrative continues to be pushed.

The broader battle is similar, one of a rift and a split on the political ‘left’ between left-libertarian values (classical liberalism) and left-authoritarian values (what you might call an extreme version of progressivism).

Classical values of individual autonomy, choice, freedom of expression, artistic freedom, the value of reason and enquiry are not exactly being challenged, but being misrepresented by people who cannot see past identity politics – what a person is – to actions – who a person is.

  • Gamergate wants ethical games journalism, and because some of the people they are concerned about are women they get tarred with a misogyny brush and shuffled into the ‘women in tech’ and ‘online harassment’ arguments, which are not what it is about.
  • Sam Harris wants to criticise Islamic ideology and theology and to discuss the possibility of applying reason to questions of morality and ethics. He gets called a racist and ‘islamophobe’.
  • Are you concerned about artistic freedom? Then you’re everything from a misogynist and racist to a rape apologist.

And so it goes, politics, art, music, fashion, comics, games, television, movies, science fiction fandom, writing. Everywhere there are these emotive attacks that bypass reason and force the moderate, intellectual side of the debate onto the defensive (because who wants to be called a racist, right?)

The discourse is damaged to the point of being virtually irreparable. Universities have become safe spaces, in that they’re now safe from the ravages of intelligent thought and free enquiry and those same, highly damaging ‘values’ are being imposed everywhere else.

To me, then, after a year, buoyed up by seeing Gamergate vindicated I see a chink of light in the clouds. A possibility that, perhaps, reform and change is possible not just in games, but everywhere. Those attacks no longer have the power they once did. We know we’re not sexist, racist, bigoted or whatever else might be thrown at us and without that power over us what reason remains to take these extremists seriously?

It has been a tough year. It’s cost me friends who bought into and couldn’t see past the harassment/sexism narrative to the truth. It has cost me work – I should have been anon. I’ve been censored, vilified, driven to the point of suicide by lies, libel and genuine harassment. There’s plenty of people who don’t understand and make no effort to understand but, on the other side of things I have made many new friends, found a like-minded community of brilliant, mutually supportive and very creative people and I’ve participated in making a huge positive change in games and beyond.

Moving post-gamergate – and I intend to cut down my direct participation after #GGinBrum I think the best takeaway is to start doing more positive things as part of this new community that has emerged in games – and further afield. Ignore the crazies and ‘get shit done’ because if there’s one thing we really have learned about the opposition, it’s that they don’t really make or do much of anything, and what they do make or do isn’t successful.

Perhaps that’s how we win in the broader context.

Do stuff.

 

#RPG – New Podcast Out: Game School

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Disclosure: I dare to call Satine my friend, she’s on the podcast, has done some work with me (Machinations of the Space Princess) and I consider her an all-round awesome human being. Plus she’s hotter than jerked Azer. I don’t know Chad Parish from Adam though.

There’s a new podcast series out that is, essentially, a ‘review show’ but the format is something different and awesome.

The hosts (Satine Phoenix and Chad Parish) get a designer on, talk about their game, go over some of the design principles and ideas and then go over how to make a character and play a short bit of the game – a couple of scenes – to show how it works in play.

It’s a novel and fantastic way to get across both the essence of a game and the intentions of the designer and I heartily recommend listening in.

Linkypooh HERE.