#Gamergate – Journal update and League for Gamers

2780068426_9fa8e8d844_oThere simply hasn’t been enough interest in a new journal to make the effort worthwhile. While there have been a few enthusiasts and a couple of entrants there isn’t sufficient interest to make the effort worthwhile.

This is, needless to say, disappointing. I believe there is a genuine need for some genuinely academic and scientific insight into games and frankly, that’s for selfish reasons. I want my game designs to be informed by facts and useful information and strategies.

Here though, I’ll have to admit defeat.

As such I suggest people redirect their efforts to League for Gamers, which is in the process of setting up an academic body and which I am involved in as an interested party (President, not that it means much at this stage and I intend to flee the position as soon as things are up and running).

L4G has a higher profile and more opportunity to make something happen from a better starting point. Still, things are going to be an uphill struggle for any attempt to get this done for some of the following reasons.

  • Gamers have lost all faith in academia. The ‘losers‘ ‘study’ may have been one of many death blows. It’ll take a huge amount of effort to win that trust back. As bad, if not worse, than the situation with gaming media.
  • There is genuine research going on in the existing structure, it’s just drowned out by bullshit. Many genuine academics and scientists don’t understand or see the need for an alternative or – more admirably – don’t want to cede ground.
  • Devs don’t seem to care much either. Happy doing their own thing and product testing from the looks of it. It’s a shame as it means public money tends to support spurious research in this area (loser study) while private research and effort largely ends up staying internal.
  • I haven’t had the ability to get enough exposure to the right kinds of people to get things off the ground. L4G should be able to.

TL;DR – Forget this effort, sign up to League for Gamers and talk to the other academically inclined people therein.

#RPG – PROJECT – Full Spectrum of Class Expansion

Supplemental Character Class books for PROJECT are now available through the whole spectrum for every base class.

These books provide additional information on those classes.

HOW candidates are selected.

WHAT is involved in choosing candidates for those classes.

WHAT it is like to be changed in such a way.

NEW equipment.

NEW advantages.

NEW disadvantages.

NEW details on the world of PROJECT, it’s society, how it has been changed by The Mindquake and the realities of psychic capabilities.

Buy them HERE.

 

#Gamergate – For Great Ethics Versus Against SocJus – FIGHT!

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The guy with the horse penis is the broader context.

With so many enemies now crushed and defeated beneath Gamergate’s armoured boots, with increased ethics all around and with the separate but related victory of Chairman Pao being removed by the glorious counter-revolutionary wing of the Reddit Revolt, GG seems to have turned in on itself a bit and a divide that has been felt before (with the exit of Internet Aristocrat and others) has reared its head up again.

Are we fighting for ethics in game journalism – and ONLY ethics in game journalism, or are we fighting against the authoritarian censors of the Social Justice mob? What is appropriate to post on the tag and what isn’t?

Let’s get a couple of things out of the way quickly first.

  1. You can’t control the hashtag. People can and will post whatever the fuck they want on it. You can’t control other people’s output, only your own. If someone spams a lot of stuff you’re not interested in, mute them or something. Jesus. This isn’t difficult.
  2. Proposing a new hashtag is going to go down like a cup of cold sick. There’s strength in unity and some shitposting, spam and off-topic or semi off-topic material isn’t the end of the world. By all means, go make a new tag if you like (#mediagate was tried, I believe) but it’s unlikely to garner the same traction and impetus that #Gamergate has.

Now that’s out of the way, let’s take a look at the ethics part.

The fact is, games media has been corrupt since forever with in-house magazines, bribery, extortion, threats (mostly coming from distributors and publishers rather than studios, to be fair) and because this was the status quo people kind of navigated around it while quietly seething. This was financial corruption, where threats and money are used to protect and further the bottom line.

This was all ‘background radiation’ to Gamergate, what made it achieve critical mass was a different kind of corruption. Political corruption and agenda pushing, initially exposed via Literally Who’s sexual shenanigans but much, much bigger than that. Political corruption is when threats, coercion, ideological naivety, bribery and shaming are used to push an agenda and socially engineer.

What, I think, made this blow up so hard was that the indie scene (like many other indie scenes in music, tabletop games and elsewhere) had become synonymous with activism, not independence. The kinds of people making these activist, high-concept games were looking down on popular games and their audiences (as exemplified recently with the meltdown of hate and arrogance from  Tale of Tales when their housework simulator failed to excite audiences). When people looking down on and criticising you for your moral failings turn out to have feet of clay, people get understandably upset at the hypocrisy.

One of the greatest tragedies of all this, for me, is that it was a massive missed opportunity for games media to sort its life out. Here was a massive consumer uprising which could have been leveraged against those companies offering bribes, threatening to remove early access, bullying for higher scores AND to assert press neutrality against egregious ideological corruption. Backing, using or surfing Gamergate could have allowed the press to assert themselves – with popular backing – against distributors, publisher and PR flacks and could have been used to regain trust.

But no.

And that exposes the first part of the problem in trying to separate these issues into two separate things. The big reason the games media didn’t do the right thing here is because whole wings of it ARE SocJus and that is seemingly the entirety of their identity and raison d’etre. When you ask for them to act ethically you’re asking for them to act against their core beliefs and personal identity. As we’ve seen, many think the ends justify the means and many think opposing their means, means that Gamergate is against their ends (Gamergate is not anti-diversity, anti-women etc, it is broadly very liberal on these things as a whole. It just values creative freedom higher and prefer organic, consenting change).

This entanglement of the ethical issues and the SocJus issues shows why the two are inseparable.

Another reason to include the fight against SocJus within Gamergate is that it builds alliances. There’s people in other communities who have, or are, facing the same kinds of issues that Gamergate has, from Sad Puppies in fiction, to ConsultantGate in tabletop gaming (and everything around it). There’s issues of this sort all over the place and things are starting to turn. Just as with Gamergate itself, internally, we’re stronger together.

Another aspect to this is that a lot of these other enterprises feed into games.

If writers are suffering in this way, generally, then writing for games will suffer by extension.

If artists are suffering in this way, generally, then art assets for games will suffer by extension.

If the internet becomes more controlled and legislated, then games are harder to sell and may fall afoul of the same legislation.

If shops are pressured into censorship then the same applies – and this is doubly true of online sales platforms and payment processors.

Let’s try an analogy.

Say your local political situation is horribly corrupt. The local council is full of shills for companies and they’ve all been bought off.

Voting them out won’t really solve the issue, money can buy whoever else is elected.

Changing the rules could work, but it’s almost impossible to change the rules in a system that is already corrupt.

Say you do manage to change the rules. Congratulations, you now have ‘ethics in local government’, but there’s still financial corruption everywhere else. Contractors that the government uses, the unions, companies are still offering bribes at every level, interest groups are still lobbying – sometimes via underhanded means, and on a national level the parties are still compromised – and they select the candidates.

Only fixing ‘local government finance sourcing’ does practically fuck all to repair the broader issue.

To point to another, analagous example, unwinding the Satanic Panic of the 80s  (we’re now in an Ism Panic) came about because everyone came to reject it. The groups being attacked and smeared, the media, the science. There was a broad group – if not a full-on alliance – of people all saying ‘this is bollocks’, and they were able to prove it.

Trying to separate these two strands is impossible, because just as the threats to gaming used to come from a broader cultural movement of the religious right, now it comes from the authoritarian left. If you want ethical journalism and free expression, you have to take an holistic approach to understanding it.

If you don’t want to, then don’t, but you’re not going to be able to stop anyone else anyway – so the whole discussion is fucking pointless.

#RPG – Interviewed at Supernerdland

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You can read my interview at Supernerdland HERE.

If you want me for a podcast, stream, guest blog/vlog or written interview just let me know.

#RPG Wil Wheaton as the Ambassador of Gaming?

standbyme2This blog poses a good question about Wil Wheaton’s new show ‘Titansgrave’, which is trying to do for RPGs what Tabletop did for boardgames.

Personally, I’ve found Tabletop interesting, but it hasn’t really switched me on to any games or helped me understand any of the games that it has covered as a learning aid.

RPGs do need ambassadors. Games as a whole and RPGs in particular have almost always been targets of scorn and panic and so they definitely need people sticking up for them. Is Wheaton the guy to do it though?

I’m afraid I’d have to say no, and I’m going to go into why.

1. He Breaks his own Commandment.

Admittedly I’m horrendously biased on this score, but the short version is that Wheaton is a dick, while professing ‘Don’t be a dick’. I’ve suffered this directly from him in relation to him inciting dogpiling and abuse (he publicised that I made a very brief mistake of exchanging in a whole four tweets with a Twitter bot, idiotic, but no huge deal) and I’m sure I’m not alone on that score.

2. He Came Down on the Wrong Side of Gamergate.

You can’t be a consumer or hobby advocate if you’re anti-consumer or if you’re attacking the hobby you’re supposed to be advocating for. Wheaton is supposedly not an idiot, yet didn’t do the bare minimum of research to successfully identify Gamergate as a (big, and remarkably successful) consumer revolt and instead went with the flow against it, buying into the false narrative of harassment and abuse.

Imagine if Rob Halford had testified in court that heavy metal was genuinely Satanic and that Judas Priest had intended to incite suicide, or that John Denver and Dee Snyder had testified before the PMRC against free expression. If those references are too old for you, imagine if Gabe Newell has sided with Jack Thompson.

Maybe via these, slightly hyperbolic examples, you can grasp some idea of the scale of betrayal we’re talking about here.

This single act has smashed his reputation to tatters amongst the broader gaming community and annihilated his credibility outside the ‘SocJus’ circles, eg, amongst your ‘common gamer’ (just ask #NotYourShield or #Gamergate).

Gamers as a whole, let alone RPG gamers, have long memories when it comes to moral panics against them. Wheaton is participating in a moral panic and this alone, quite apart from anything else, would disqualify him as an advocate for RPGs.

3. He Bottled it on ‘Spiritgate’.

Brought to book by ‘Goony Beard Men’ and ‘Rainbow Haired She-Twinks’ (Airport’s Law) over using the turn of phrase ‘Spirit Animal‘, he apologised.

He apologised for something which required no apology, to people who will never be satisfied by any apology, and didn’t learn the hard but important lesson about outrage culture that he should have. The same thing happened more recently to Joss Whedon who, again, failed to learn the necessary lesson.

TL;DR

The new show probably won’t do any harm, but also probably won’t appeal beyond the existing RPG audience. Wheaton, however, is a terrible ambassador for RPGs. Perhaps a year or more ago I’d have thought differently and while I have a personal bias against the man as a hypocrite and bully I think the reasoning is valid there and on the other points.

You can’t be a hobby or community advocate and, at the same time, lie about and defame members of that community and hobby. It simply doesn’t work.

Somebody call Vin Diesel.

‘Nuff said.

 

#RPG – Gorean RPG News!

Michael is back to work at a good ol’ pace, I’ve signed up a (fourth) artist to do the necessary cartography and they’ve undertaken to get that work finished by the end of the month.

I cannot apologise enough for the delays and I hope you can continue to be patient a little while longer.

Meanwhile, here’s some sketches to appease you :)

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larl-hunter_sketch01

vart_sketch01

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See? It's not ALL male-dom.

See? It’s not ALL male-dom.

#RPG Cartographer Needed

Having been let down several times now and with time a genuine pressure, I need to commission a map for the Gor RPG.

There are many existing online maps, such as this one, or this one.

The general terrain, locations and overall geography of the world is reasonably well established but contacting existing artists responsible for the better maps has not yielded any results and three separate people commissioned to do the work have had to pull out or have not undertaken the work or made any progress.

As such I need to try again as the final artwork is coming in, to get a map ready for the final publication.

Ideally I should like to have a map that recreates the tiled-floor of Samos of Port Kar (either in squares or a more RPG traditional hex-grid, with major settlements picked out by gemstones set into the tiles. This would be done with a Roman/Greek style to the iconography/map legend, making it somewhat colour/abstract based (ideally it will work in colour OR black and white).

Alternatively time/money requiring, a standard B&W map along normal fantasy map lines will suffice.

Please contact at grim AT postmort DOT demon DOT co DOT uk marked [Gor Map] and include a link to previous work and your rates for:

300-600dpi

A4 B&W hex/grid map.
A4 B&W standard map.
A4 colour hex/grid map.
A4 colour standard map.
Both.

Thanks.