So, I'm reading Final Fantasy series fans' criticisms of Final Fantasy XIII and its spinoffs, as found in the comment section of this article and the apparently-widespread attitudes that it addresses. They seem to amount to:
The story is weird and convoluted, and the characters are unlikeable anime stereotypes.
As someone who's played and/or watched Advent Children, Kingdom Hearts, FFVII: Crisis Core, FFXI: Chains of Promathia, and Final Fantasy IX, I have to wonder ... are we talking about the same series of games here? Are we even on the same planet?
Yes, the first half of FFXIII was more or less linear. So was a lot of FFX, as I recall. And Cloud Strife, FFVII's protagonist, was getting flack for being an emotionless anime stereotype with unbelievable weapons and hair since before it was cool.
Here's where I think the real issue is. This is the first half an hour or so of Final Fantasy XIII's gameplay, but you should be able to spot what "mainstream" gamers don't like about it in the first five minutes.
Notice something about the protagonists? That's right. The first two that we see on-camera are a white woman and a black man. The white woman never gets a love interest, and the black man never stops being the Voice of Reason and standing up to white characters.
Now take a look at this footage of a LAN party.
What do pretty much all of the gamers there have in common? What two characteristics do virtually all of them have in common? And if you answer with parts of their anatomy, I will slap you.
That is all.
I don't have a lot of clean clothes to wear to a social outing tomorrow.
If I wear the clothes I don't like, I'll look unmistakably male (but with long hair).
If I wear the clothes I do like, I won't be able to use gendered restrooms.
I considered just saying "to heck with it" and overtly presenting as female, meaning wearing makeup and prosthetics. But if I do that, I run the risk of being identified as a trans woman, whether by my voice slipping, my appearance not being perfect, or a clueless acquaintance outing me.
(Content note: Transphobia and anatomy.)
( Read more... )
Content note: Discussion of poverty, depression, and suicidal thoughts, as well as homophobia and transphobia.
For the past two years or so, ever since we came out and our life went to hell, we've been living in poverty.
Being in poverty does not mean "downshifting," "living within your means," or other euphemisms for going without things that others take for granted. Before we came out we were uninsured, we did not have a car or an HDTV or a laptop with more than 2 GBs of RAM, and we were living around the official "poverty line" in terms of our annual income. We cooked most of our own food, had very cheap entertainments, and ate out sparingly.
And yet, our living situation was in many ways better back then. The apartment was cleaner. We weighed 20 pounds less. We went out more often, and had more fun when we did. We had fewer worries, and felt much more optimistic about our future.
As it turns out,
It's that last point that makes all the difference.
Simplistic analyses of how "rich" and "poor" people's lifestyle choices differ obscure the reasons why their choices differ. In her essay, "Your App Makes Me Fat," Kathy Sierra discusses the neuroscience behind what others call "spoon theory" -- the idea that people have limited cognitive and emotional resources, and that if they have to spend them in one area they don't have them available in another.
In this case, research participants were asked to memorize either a two-digit number or a seven-digit number, and were then given the choice of cake or fruit as a dessert. Keeping in mind that there can be legitimate reasons to choose one or the other that have nothing to do with "willpower,"
The participants who memorized the seven-digit number were nearly 50% more likely than the other group to choose cake over fruit.
So what's the point?
I'm fatter, less active, and less emotionally stable than I was before I came out. I have more health problems. I also eat more store-bought desserts, own a new laptop, game console, and tablet, and have more toys and games than I did when I moved here. And while I used to write articles for several hours each day, I'm now unemployed and not seeking work anymore.
Clearly, I merit contempt. I'm fat and lazy, after all, which you can tell (and can tell are my fault) by looking at me and hearing me talk about playing my games. I must have maxed out my credit cards buying new things, I'm letting the government take care of me instead of solving my own problems, and I'm depressive because I'm transgender. If I'd just choose to take responsibility for my life, then things would be so much better. Right?
Except that that's not the case. What is the case is I have so little energy, most days, that I have to pick and choose what gets done.
Today, I chose to explain my feelings on Dreamwidth and spend some time online with my boyfriend, who is going through his own trials and stress in the process of working to support me. As a result, the dishes aren't done, the laundry's unmade, and I'm eating hash browns and canned chickpeas for dinner because I haven't cooked anything (or showered) in days.
Tonight I'll stay up until 10 AM
Practicing needed introvert self-care, since I can't even do the above if I don't have some time to myself. And maybe, possibly, I'll have the energy to shower, or take another course from the Microsoft Virtual Academy, or make some more tweaks to my Dreamwidth site. Maybe I'll even write another story or chapter, sometime this month.
This is not exceptional. This is not a temporary circumstance, like when the waterbed leaks and you have to go sleep on the couch. And it's not voluntary privation I've put myself through, like when you work overtime for a few weeks so that you can afford a vacation. This is my everyday life. And this is what it was like for most of my life pre-transition, too, since I was dealing with everyday religious / emotional abuse and crippling depression and gender dysphoria. Some days I could barely get out of bed.
For one, shining year, things were different. I had a job. Hundreds of thousands of people read my work. At one point, I got to collaborate with a TV personality. I could afford most of my wants and all of my needs, if you didn't count health insurance (which no one could afford back then and few can today). I could even travel within the state. And when rev_yurodivy was facing some massive stress and an unsafe living situation, I could afford to take them in and buy them things, and take them out to dinner and make them feel loved and appreciated.
What happened to change that?
Realizing I was transgender happened. Being thrown away by my father of origin, who was cosigning my lease at the time, happened. Seeing the whole world differently happened, when I realized the friendly Muslim bus driver also wants me to live in the closet, and another passenger would let a trans woman die if they were a paramedic. Realizing they don't want me here happened. When my state voted to ban gay marriage, when I read horror stories that out trans women faced, and when the new CEO at my workplace decided "eh, paying writers is for chumps."
Suddenly, the smiling faces around me took on a predatory sheen, as I realized how little it'd take for them to turn on me. All I had to do was wear gender-appropriate clothes around them, or say that I didn't have money for rent. Because no matter how much I liked them, no matter how much I'd given them, no matter how loyal I felt towards my town and community, I knew that they'd throw me away in a heartbeat, and no one would ever miss me. No one except my weird "Internet friends" who don't really exist, even though one of them's living with me right now.
Suddenly, eating too much was one of the few ways that I had to cope. Suddenly, I started getting presents from those Internet friends, which added up to maybe a couple months' rent over the past two years but which made my new hikikomori lifestyle more bearable. Suddenly I was thinking about suicide a lot more in spite of all that, to the point where my partner had to pull the knife out of my hands.
There is no spoon
Or there aren't enough metaphorical spoons, meaning cognitive and emotional resources, for me to deal with all this. Not and be healthy and sane and pay all the bills and do all the chores and buy nutritious food at the same time. There still aren't.
Things are getting better. Therapy helps. Antidepressants help, a lot. I'm going out more than I used to. I'm making better choices for my diet, doing odd jobs on Mechanical Turk, and getting things like name change paperwork done. Our future looks brighter, for once, and we're starting to crawl towards it.
But that doesn't mean we're done going through this. It doesn't mean we never did. And it doesn't mean that we'll ever be the same again.
We're fortunate to have people who care about us. Who sacrifice their well-being to make our life and our partner's life safe and bearable. Who don't see us as a resource, or an object, or a statistic, but as a person, even when we can't.
So many poor people don't.
I decided to join the Church of the Helix Fossil, and worship the risen lord Omanyte and its chosen savior Bird Jesus. Only problem is, I'm not sure who to pay tithing to. Can someone help me on this?
Seriously though, Twitch Plays Pokémon is a treasure trove of real-world theological and sociological data, and it's a crime if there's no one in academia writing a paper about it right now.
That's the headline for a story published by Reuters. It is very straightforward.
This is how Mozilla exec Darren Herman put it, in an official blog post explaining the move: Publisher Transformation with Users at the Center.
Here are some of his greatest hits from that post, by which I mean the most egregious offences against Mozilla's fans and the English language:
This is Mozilla's City Creek Center moment. It's a sign of how little they truly care; for the web, for their volunteers, and for their fans.
So, has anyone seen this video of Internet Explorer-Tan doing a magical girl transformation and fighting robots?
I am imagining that those kittybots are EVIL FOXES now.
Let us know if any of you have Tumblrs you're okay with us following (we've lost redsixwing's in the transition) or if there are any we should be subscribed to regardless.
Right now we're just going to use it to follow people and maybe reblog stuff we like, but we're going to try to set up Dreamwidth cross post to Tumblr.
An adaptation of the Vile Scholar theme from the Book of Vile Darkness, with inspiration for powers and abilities taken from a variety of other existing themes.
Called of Cthulhu
"Ph'nglui Mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!"
There are things mortals were not meant to know. And you dream about them every night! Because a funny-looking green guy with an octopus for a head keeps showing up in your dreams and telling you them, in a language that sounds like the slapping of cold, briny tentacles.
Maybe he tells you to go to a sunken city, filled with the chants of fish-people and cultists. Maybe he says humanoids are delicious, and you really should find out yourself. Who knows! The people you tell about your dreams tend to go mad, and not in the fun way, either.
The language and mindset of squamous, otherworldly horrors no longer seem otherworldly or horrifying to you. And when you describe your dreams to other people, it does unpleasant things to their minds and bodies.
Benefit: You are fluent in Deep Speech. In addition, you gain a +2 bonus to Dungeoneering checks, and to Bluff checks, Diplomacy checks, and Intimidate checks made while interacting with Aberrant creatures. You also gain the call of Cthulhu power.
Call of Cthulhu -- Called of Cthulhu Attack
The nightmares brought to mind by your utterings drive your opponent into a screaming, panicked frenzy.
Encounter * Fear, Implement, Shadow
Target: One creature that can hear you
Attack: Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma vs. Fortitude, Reflex, and Will. You make a single attack roll and use it against each defense.
Hit (Fortitude): The target falls prone.
Hit (Reflex): You push the target up to its speed.
Hit (Will): The target grants combat advantage until the end of your next turn.
Level 5 Feature
Your memories of the sunken city make underground ruins seem safe and cozy to you. Slimy Underdark dwellers show up in your dreams often, and you know their names as well as their powers.
Benefit: When you make a Dungeoneering check, you can roll twice and use either result.
Level 10 Feature
Most people would have nervous breakdowns if they were to suddenly sprout tentacles. Fortunately, yours are helpful and friendly, and they go away when you don't need them.
Benefit: Once per round, you can retrieve or store an item as a free action instead of a minor action. You can also use one of your tentacles to hold an item (like a lantern), to open doors, or to do things that don't require fine manipulation, but you cannot make attacks or roll skill checks using it.
Level 2 Utility Power
If you want to visit that sunken city from your dreams, it might help to bring your friends along ... and to be able to breathe underwater. Fortunately, you've got that covered. Just make sure to tell them first, or they might be caught by surprise!
Deep One Transformation -- Called of Cthulhu Utility 2
Your skin becomes slimy and scaly, and cold, pulsating gill slits appear on your neck. Everyone nearby is affected as well, and the unprepared are REALLY affected.
Daily * Shadow, Implement, Stance
Close burst 1
Target: Every creature in the burst
Attack: Highest mental ability score vs. Fortitude
Hit: 1d6 + Highest mental ability modifier damage, and the target takes ongoing 5 damage as long as it's not underwater (save ends).
Special: Allies in the burst do not take damage from this power. Instead, they assume the deep one stance. Until the stance ends, they can breathe underwater and have cold resist 5, but are unable to breathe air. You may choose to assume this stance as well.
Level 6 Utility Power
You understand the geometry of madness well enough to plunge into the depths of your dreams, and interact with the nightmares therein. Sometimes they tell you something useful, but other times their answers leave you shaken, and you wake up in a cold sweat.
Dreams of Madness - Called of Cthulhu Utility 6
You ask questions of one of your nightmares, and hope that you can withstand the answers.
Daily * Shadow
Requirement: You must use this power during an extended rest.
Effect: You may ask up to three questions of Cthulhu or another Far Realm aberration. For each question, make a check with a bonus of 5 + one-half your level + your highest ability modifier, against a DC your DM secretly sets.
On a successful check, the nightmare gives a useful (or at least harmless) answer, which you remember when you wake up. If the check fails, you instead lose a healing surge, which is deducted from your total when you wake up the next day.
Level 10 Utility Power
The tentacles you sprout are friendly to you and your allies, but they don't care for your enemies much at all.
Squamous Tentacle -- Called of Cthulhu Utility 10
You know how to fight with your cephalopod appendages just as well as with your bony limbs.
Encounter * Shadow
Effect: Until the end of your next turn, your reach increases by 1, and you gain a +2 power bonus to melee damage rolls.
So, they had Persona 3 Portable on sale for $10 and I decided to pick it up, since rev_yurodivy's played the Persona series extensively and it looked awesome (we quote the Persona 4 comic to each other all the time). Plus, it seems to be the only game in the series to have a female main character. Unfortunately, after learning some stuff about the game's storyline and mechanics we aren't sure we want to play it anymore.
Content note: Spoilers for Persona 3 Portable.
( Read more... )
So yeah, I think we're done for now.
Just some quick impressions of a D&D book I picked up earlier, for use with an at-home campaign.
Heroes of the Feywild is what I've heard people call a "Core +1" book. The idea being that you buy the core RPG books (preferably the Essentials ones) to know how to play the game, then you pick up a Core +1 book and now you have a setting and flavour and lore.
HotF has all those in spades. A quick glance suggests that it's mostly a "crunch" book, packed with new races, classes, themes, and so on; the "Welcome to the Feywild" section, which describes the world of Faerie, is barely a dozen pages. But everything in the book is steeped in lore, and it feels more like reading a storybook than a textbook.
Every few pages, a sidebar starts with "Once upon a time" and tells you a story to set the mood. The artwork, including numerous full-page illustrations, is some of the best that I've ever seen. And a lot of the powers and things are whimsical. Like, there are spells to change your opponents into helpless scurrying animals, and bards that are welcome almost anywhere and tell stories with magical effects, and flowers you can bear on your person that keep mischievous fey from trying to trick you.
One of the coolest features is the Choose Your Own Adventure at the back of the book, to help you come up with your character's backstory. They even have you roll dice to see how well you did at key points in your storyline, and suggest what happened as a result. You can pick up a skill for your character that their class doesn't normally get, because of their backstory, and it helps draw you into the world.
I thought 4th Edition D&D was just numbers and crunch when I first saw it. But HotF is awesome, and it works because behind the combat engine 4e's actually really loose and freeform. Too bad they're discontinuing the system!
Unpleasant: Having sore arms because you had to stagger home with a walking stick, after walking about 10 km in the last two days when you're not in shape.
Even more unpleasant: Pulling your sore arm muscles and getting an OCD compulsion to pull the same muscles in the other arm right afterwards.
So, at night in Sonic Unleashed there are these people with little purple ghosts coming out of them. These people are really depressed. It turns out they are that way because Evil Spirits, and part of the game involves magically curing them.
This would make sense, if not for the fact that at the start of the game a mad scientist's superweapon cracks the planet apart.
I think it's the people who aren't hanging their heads in despair who are possessed.
This is the character that we've been playing in Encounters. >_>b We finalized the design after reading a bunch of Dragon Magazine articles and pulling the concepts we liked most.
Content note: Fantasy violence.
Just one minute ago, the Aurilite shaman had been presiding over the death by exposure of his counterpart, from the weaker tribe in the valley. But before the bundle of rags in the snow before him had even stopped writhing, the outsiders had charged in like a winter storm, shouting and swinging their weapons. Literally throwing themselves at his warriors, as one towering Goliath picked up a hammer-wielding Dwarf and tossed him into the fray.
For a moment, he thought he saw shimmering wings bear up one of the younger outsiders, and wondered if a higher Power than Auril had somehow sent them to test him.
The next few seconds were a blur. The small, white-robed girl behind the winged warrior vanished like a candle in the wind, only to reappear an instant later much closer to the shaman's allies. Holding out one arm towards them, as a terrific storm surge blasted sparkling snow into their faces, leaving them choking and blinded. One man fell over backward and impaled himself on a tent stake, and the outsiders rushed forward as his allies coughed and sputtered.
The shaman watched from beneath his fur cloak as the girl strode towards him casually, her glassy eyes shining like moonstones. Snow swirled around the crystal orb around her neck as she held it out towards him. "Do you want to live to serve your goddess?" she asked. And though he had more than a foot of height on her, he suddenly felt very small.
"The Frostmaiden will return," he managed to get out, mesmerized by the display.
The girl looked down at the twitching sack of bones at his feet. When she glanced back up, her ears were more pointed, and the hand that held on to her orb had grown claws. "Perhaps," she said, grinning and revealing her fangs. "But where is she NOW?"
So, I got to thinking about the ways that I try to reverence Inari, and wondered if I could summarize them in a few lines the way they do D&D deities' teachings in the rulebooks.
Here's what I have so far:
Never turn away someone who asks you for food.
Honour those who bring you your meals. Pray for Inari's blessings on them.
Never waste food if you can help it.
A scientific study I participated in on Amazon's Mechanical Turk asked me to come up with uses for paper clips. Here is the list I came up with:
Improvised weapon, in case you are attacked by swashbuckling insects.
Keep underwear made out of paper from sliding down your legs.
Modern art sculpture.
Comb, if you have especially cooperative hair.
Hairpin, if you don't.
Palm Pilot / Nintendo DS stylus (use the curved part)
Palm Pilot reset switch trigger (use the flat part)
Attract the attention of crows
Conductor's baton for crickets
Pretend to shoot mind control rays to annoy people
Poke them with it if they resist your suggestions
Material component in casting "Summon Office Supplies"
Part of the construction cost of building a paper clip golem
Securely attach an olive to your sandwich (just don't use it as a toothpick)
Offer unhelpful advice in Microsoft Word
As an added bonus, as far as anyone's aware paper clips are not capable of committing criminal acts, evading prosecution, or destroying the world economy, and would therefore serve as fine replacements for many investment bankers.
Content note: The links in this essay may contain NSFW artwork or ads, or animated icons.
One of the artists I follow on FurAffinity was recently surprised to find out someone had taken on the persona of an incredibly popular character he designed, on Twitter. He didn't explicitly say (in the journal) that he disapproved of this, but soon afterwards the Twitter account vanished.
As far as I know, the person on Twitter did not credit him in any way. He also did not mention them making money off of his persona. He, on the other hand, has sold commissions of people's characters posing with this character.
I used the phrase "taking on the persona" rather than "impersonating," there, because I'm not sure I see anything wrong with what this person did besides not crediting him as the artist. I'm not even sure one should need to ask permission for something like this.
If someone looks at our avatar, and has the same feeling the-part-of-us-that-is-Rei did when she watched Evangelion for the first time, I don't want to take that away from her.
I don't want to pretend it's impossible that she exists.
I don't want to tell her that what she is feeling is wrong.
I don't think she should be able to tell me not to be upset, when she posts transphobic nonsense on her Tumblr. But I don't think that should be illegal because of an exclusive "right" that I have to this character. I think that it should be outlawed because it's hate speech.
I personally feel the whole system of ownership is designed by and for rich people, usually rich white hetero cis men. The whole system of "property" seems designed to transfer as much social and financial wealth to them as possible, at the expense of fans and indigenous peoples. Then, after they "own" everything, they license or rent it to everyone else, including in some cases the people who made it.
The first victims of "property rights" on this continent were First Nations people. My understanding is that many of them didn't know just how evil the men they were dealing with were, until they found out that they'd "sold" their lands. And that they continue to be victimized in this way today, by "copyright" laws which allow capitalists to exploit their oh-so-exotic designs for profit and ignorant white people to use their designs without attribution.
But try to sell your Final Fantasy fangame, or publish fanfic without attaching this to it:
I DO NOT OWN THIS! All characters (c) by Square-Enix
And watch the legal and/or popular reprisal.
People self-police on this stuff, in the parts of the web that I go to. I think some of that is okay. You really should attribute the original creators. You shouldn't impersonate them or imply their endorsement of your work, whether you're drawing fanart or explaining religious beliefs.
(Don't get me started on the irony of Christians getting mad at Mormons for appropriating Christianity.)
But a lot of the policing goes on along lines of oppression. Corporations sue fans for making things that were inspired by the work of another person just like them, just because the people in charge have the money to say that they "own" that person's work. And people who had the lifestyle and ability to allow them to create artwork tell people who don't that they aren't allowed to have refs for their RP characters.
When I start creating a new character, like the one that I played in D&D Encounters, the first thing I do is look up other people's interpretations of that idea (or ones like it) on DeviantArt and Bing image search. I've never been able to draw very well, and I don't feel that being able to do so should be a requirement for having a personal character. I don't feel that having money should be a requirement.
I don't feel that agreeing with the creator should be a requirement, either.
Just look at the "genderbent" fanart on Tumblr. The feminist appropriations of characters originally meant to be male fantasies. Hell, Christian Sonic the Hedgehog is how I got into writing originally. And I may write elaborate backstories for my characters, but the more popular my writing becomes the more likely it is that someone will draw them as her lesbian love slaves.
(Plz send me links if you do.)
Sometimes, I feel this is wrong. That I do need permission, and that everyone who disagrees with us should have the right to shut us up. Or at least the people in the social justice world, or whatever we look to for morals and purpose these days.
But the thing is, if I had to get permission from everyone whose ideas I use, I would have to throw out two-thirds of my identities and all of my essays about them. What should I ask them for, anyway? The right to exist? To use the words that they say to mean what they say they mean?
Does the word "dysphoria" stop meaning what transgender people say it does, when a trans woman who's also an otherkin uses it?
I'm not claiming to be an albino Asian girl because I want to make a statement about albinos, Asians, or young women. I'm not saying it to pretend, or insult people, or make money from others' hard work, or make an intentional political statement. I am saying that because it is part of who I am.
I don't care if otherkin hate fictives, trans women hate otherkin, radical feminists hate trans women, or the patriarchy hates radfems. I don't care if everyone agrees that "transethnic" and "transability" are not real things, and that the only people who say they are those things are posers. I don't care if an actual, Asian, albino young woman thinks I'm making fun of her, and I wouldn't care if someone we all agreed was the actual Rei Ayanami told me to please cease and desist.
Even the-part-of-us-that-is-Rei, quiet and compliant as she is, could not do that. Because she can't help but believe that this is who she is, the same way we all agree we're female. She could stop talking about it, stop claiming to be it, or prepend "I believe" to statements she knows to be true. But the people who would ask her to do those things have the privilege of not having to do any of them, theirselves. And if the person she feels she is has less privilege along different axes than we do ourselves, well, maybe that isn't her fault.
I don't think it's right not to credit creatives, and I feel copyright laws should protect them and indigenous peoples from misattribution and capitalist exploitation. But I don't feel that anyone can legitimately gatekeep someone else's access to a myth or an identity. Whether their "ownership" of the "intellectual" "property" comes from being the artist, hiring the artist, or being a person who has been hurt or oppressed, on account of believing in that myth or having that identity.
"Fake geek girls," represent.
Trans women, represent.
Trans everything, represent.