Archive for the ‘social’ Category

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On note of spaces

August 15, 2008

Delux pointed me to a post on sexual harassment at ComiCon.

You know, because randomly running up and touching people is totally ok.

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Spaces & Standards

August 14, 2008

Digital Femme makes an excellent point about the difference between the game, and the community around the game.

Unfortunately, the nature of tabletop rpgs requires that you work into some level of social network, you can’t enjoy the game in hermitude. Gamerdom (and fandom in the large) generally roll with the simple attitude of “More is better”, whereas, I’ve found “Better is better” to be a preferred method of building social networks, game groups, or communities.

Instead of lowering my standards, which seems to be the common response, I raised them. Turns out a lot of the bullshit people you get when you lower standards? Are what scares away everyone else (“When you play with Cat Piss Men, Cat Piss Men are what you play with”).

For the last two years, I’ve been trying out this strategy, and it’s working well. Who knew nearly a dozen folks I already knew, either used to be roleplayers and left, or were fencesitters who never jumped in? They simply didn’t want to deal with what they saw. Since they’re already people I liked, it made the social contract part of play and playing together really easy and nice.

Try raising your standards. (and y’know, not expecting people to play for months on end).

You might be surprised at what doors open.

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And the cycle continues

July 11, 2008

As I was dealing with the foolishness that came my way from Debunking White Fantasy, over in sci-fi land another racial stupidstorm was in full effect.

1. William Sanders thought it would be ok to say stupid, racist shit in a rejection letter to an author.
2. Said letter gets leaked (later removed, but it’s the internet, once out, it’s there.)
3. Enter poor rationalizations, defenses, and minimalizing of bad behavior, pretty much the giant red flag of “I don’t see anything wrong with what I did and fuck you for pointing it out”.
4. Fandom proceeds to shift the blame, after all, shoot the messenger!
5. Ok, messenger shot. Now shoot the everyone else who brought attention to this!

Tobias even points out how interesting it is that the most hateful spew is aimed at the woman of color rather than, you know, the other white or male folks who also object to this bullshit.

As I said, sci-fi has breakouts- exceptions to the rule. That doesn’t mean the rule isn’t in effect.

The thing is, if we -just- had Sanders in this, it would be easy to write him off as a single, bigoted whackjob. But naturally, leave it to fandom to jump up to his defense to prove to us, no, racism is not an “isolated issue of a few disturbed individuals” but rather a movement and a way of life that permeates the scene. And how dare you expect the science fiction community to pull it’s collective heads from asses and get past the 50’s in terms of race and humanity…

Maybe they’re hoping once we’re “post human” racism won’t be an issue (“How do we solve racism? When you can choose to stop being black!”).

ETA: Now Sanders is charging people to have their stories removed, which indicates to me a fuckload of people no longer want to be associated with him or his magazine.

Interesting how this is about other people “showing off their PC principles” and not him showing off his racist principles. Because honestly, even if he gets to keep all the stories he currently has? Long run he’s just digging a hole.

Who pays attention to these kerfluffles? Hardcore fans. Who buys your magazine when the economy is down? Hardcore fans. Who buys your magazine even when it has less than stellar runs? Hardcore fans. Who does it not make sense to alienate?

Yeah.

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Debunking White Fantasy

July 1, 2008

So watching white gamerdom go through it’s usual cycle of “Why aren’t there more POC gamers/Maybe the imagery is problematic/Oh no everything is just fine/No U!” is tiring.

So what’s up with white fantasy? At the heart of it is the white normative- around which the whole universe must revolve.

In fantasy, you can find societies that have room for dragon people, demon guys, 20 kinds of elves, etc, which function in this incredibly cosmopolitan fashion- yet ironically and most sadly, there’s no actual significant space for characters of color.

Well, why is that? All these weird species either boil down to alien non-human species or white people that look a little different and act funny. In other words, neither type threatens to dislodge the white normative. (Remember, human is synonymous with white!).

When and where we do see characters of color, they’re carefully shown with heavy stereotypical markers- asian people dress and act like this, african people dress and act like this, etc., because in that way, they’re not complex and full humans and threatening to the fantasy itself.

What is that fantasy? Well, the nature of modern fantasy is simplification- easy to understand roles, easy to understand problems that are almost always solved by either trying harder or having faith in your own badassery/love/whatever. People of color represent something difficult and complex- a real world issue unresolved (and fundamentally unresolvable as long as one wears the blinders of the white normative/white privilege/white supremacy at it’s heart).

Sci-fi suffers some of the same things, though sci-fi also has a strong tradition of accepting it’s role as a critique and mirror of the times, which is why you generally see more progressive break-outs of stories and imagery than fantasy.

And really, that’s the part where we reach the point of frustration and having to walk away from the foolishness.

It’s not enough that the media has issues, it’s when you watch someone who spent 2 years learning a fictional language, analyzing the theology of Tolkien, and who tries to compare the stories of their favorite fantasy with Babylonian Creation Myth, who YET cannot connect the dots between media issues which have pervaded Western media much, much wider than simply fantasy… that’s when you fucking lose it.

You know the ability to see is there, the intelligence, and even the geeky OCD to look at it hard and take it seriously, and yet… basically what the person is saying is that their fantasy white privilege is more important than you as a fellow human being. (A friend once pointed out that in these conversations, that concern doesn’t hit because they’re not considering you as human to begin with, so deep is the white normative).

And so, any attempts to have this discussion without a firm foundation in looking at fantasy as part of a larger media concern, will always fall back to the cycle of stupid above. Any concerns will be washed away either in straight up trolling or having to “convince” every comer to a random thread or discussion, at the end of which, there can be no victory.

After having gotten into many of these “discussions”, I’ve come to the conclusion that within white fandom, they don’t actually exist to discuss the issue at hand, or seek changes- they exist to provide the appearance of concern, the appearance of progressive thought, while letting things stay the same.

You can observe this for yourself because most end in simple flame-outs, a few white folks attempt misguided missionary efforts to bring in more people of color (mostly by making a story or game about some POC culture), which almost always involves NOT talking to said people of color directly, and a few others give support without actually doing anything.

For this reason, we kind of have to look at it the same way when McDonald’s decides to celebrate Black History Month- it’s a sham with no redeeming value.

At the end of the day, we can either keep waiting for these fictions to gain truth, or take our truth and build our own fictions. I already know which choice seems more sane to me.

Pt. 2- Debunking White Fandom

Amazingly, people prove my point as they protest it. Anonymous commenting? Racist slurs? “No U!” logic? Wow, what was I thinking when I said fandom was hostile?

For the less crazy, it’s tempting to try to even dialogue, but I realize this: Their words are already everywhere. Why should I give racist bullshit more space on my blog? We already know they’re crazy. And the crazy? They’re not going to learn.

So hey, thanks for the support. Let’s keep building this thing without these fools. Fantasy, fandom, roleplaying, sci-fi, geekdom, comic books, anime, whatever- all of this is not theirs to have. We’re taking everything back, including our imagination.

Part the 3

You could also ask a professional in the hobby.

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Privilege and the absence of context

June 4, 2008

So one thing I’ve noticed in fandom, gamerdom, etc. Generally, the more privileged the person is, the less able they seem to put their hobby into context in interpretation or observation of it.

That’s both considering things within the hobby (“Come on, it’s just comics, who cares if women die more often? It’s part of the story.”) to the hobby as a whole (“Harry Potter books have -changed- the world! We can have world peace through better magic!” etc.)

I figure it’s probably because when you’re on the other side of it, you -have- to be able to read context. As fun as escapism is, you’re generally aware of how it mirrors, echoes and plays into the actual social hierarchy you’re dealing with. Meanwhile for folks who never have to deal with it, “it’s all good fun”.

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Disengagement Tactics

May 7, 2008

So, here’s the thing- how do we operate online and create spaces where we’re not constantly subjecting ourselves to foolishness? The big push I’ve seen in the last few years in terms of the way many of us are dealing online is a certain set of tactics for disengaging from the crazy.

The fact is, the more we utilize the power of the internet to speak truth where we once were silenced, the more folks will try to shut us down.

Mentally & Emotionally

The first step to disengaging is disengaging mentally and emotionally.

The problem is, some part of you imagines that the person on the other side is listening, rational, and simply doesn’t know better. Or maybe, that if you talk s-l-o-w-l-y and clearly enough comprehension will occur. Or that if faced with enough truth, the stupid must melt.

And sadly, like the comic demonstrates, this is a battle you cannot win. So how do you get your rational side to admit this? (or your emotional side to give up on them?)

I like to imagine the situation this way: If a random screaming street person came up to you, would you attempt to have rational debate with them?

The internet is a big street. There is a lot of screaming.

No, I don’t have to listen

There’s a trick that abusers know well- they convince folks to keep taking abuse by appealing to their sense of fairness, to “giving a second chance” and all those sorts of things which are great tools when you have a situation built on good faith.

But the problem is, these people aren’t working in good faith. Odds are, by the second or third exchange, if there was any good faith to be found, it would have shown up by now.

There is nothing that says you have to give equal time, or “free speech” to people on your blogs or forums. Even more so if they’re not paying you for the right. These same people would shout you down if you did the same on their spaces, the only difference is, why take the time and energy to shout them down when you can simply moderate comments or ban them?

My house, my rules. And the internet is full of places they can go, no need to squat on my property!

Moderated comments are your bestest friend

You want discussion but you don’t want flamewars? Moderated comments. Or, have limited posting rights to the people you know are cool. Foolishness loves to get a soapbox and especially if it feels that certain views are “underrepresented”. Because, you know, sexist, racist, and heterosexist ideas are totally totally oppressed views these days…(“Man, did you hear? They lynched another straight white guy! Then the cops shot him 50 times. Then he got raped! We’re so silenced, it’s like being invisible! Maybe if we got a white guy in political office, we could change things!”)

And there’s no reason you have to be anything BUT arbitrary about who you let comment or don’t let comment. A lot of times they’ll accuse you of being the very thing they’re doing, yet for some reason, despite their “crusade” for equality, you notice they never seem to be slamming on Stormfront, or gay bashers, or sites that advocate rape or violence against women… Funny that.

Do not read

If anyone ever makes you seriously angry, like personally angry? You should disengage immediately. Not because being angry is wrong, or bad (odds are Nazi McSexist needs his or her ass beat anyway), but because being angry feels crappy. And enough of it is bad for your health. If you know someone writes TeH CrAzY, then don’t read it. Like, if it ends up in your inbox as an email, or as a comment to approve, delete it on general principle.

You may wish to take secret heehees that they could have spent a good hour crafting some perfectly crafted argument about how slavery was good, rape is not rape, and gays are bringing the hellfire and you casually, cheerfully, deleted it without a thought. By not reading the crazy, you win.

“But what if they’ve changed?” the Jimmy Cricket asks. So what? If they’ve changed, good for the world. But they’ve already taken enough of your energy and time, why waste any more on the -chance- that this one person learned not to be a complete fuckface?

They can take their new and improved ass elsewhere and others can talk about what great people they are. Your victory is in being free. Remember, they’ve already proven they don’t like to read. Why give them the consideration they won’t give you?

Fuck you, I’ll stay positive

Feel free to keep your comments to just your friends, if you want. Maybe the internet could do with more examples of sane posting, instead of insane, asinine snark. Maybe it could do with a reasonable discussion that isn’t interrupted by random screaming street person pissing on the party.

Anyway, I’m hoping to find more of the folks I consider friends on my blog here, and less random people. You may find the commenting moderation to get more strict, probably if I see a dramatic upswing in asinine behavior.

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Ah, I remember this

May 6, 2008

(via Penny Arcade)

It looks like a Chinese MMO has rediscovered the secret to CCGs. That is, most games, you have play to earn in game currency to get equipment, power, etc. In this game, you can pay cold, hard cash if you don’t want to put in the time. (For CCGs, it was this mythical idea that people would really support a trade economy instead of buying out the fucking booster boxes. This would only work in closed drafts in practice…).

As a design, it’s a smart move. Human nature loves instant gratification. Also, it allows you to not worry about having a suck beginning (as many videogames these days do), you just need to set the buy-in to the “sweet spot” at a rate most people are willing to pay. And, there’s also the other part of human nature which is about keeping up with the Jones’es.

On the other hand, it is taking people’s general worst tendencies and making them into videogame format for profit. (see also: Myspace when they added the “Top Friends” thing = mad internet drama, = more time on the site, = more advertising profit.)

From the article, though, my number one objection would be the “reorganization” bit about the peaceful kingdoms. It’s one of those things where you have to wonder how much bandwidth these folks were really eating up compared to the competitive side, how much it was “costing” them to let them play their game, the way they wanted to, and makes me think of bullshit like the EVE online guys hacking up their own resources or WoW breaking up GLBT guilds.