I'm starting to see game consoles, e-readers, and even franchises like Pathfinder and Warhammer 40,000 differently. They all have built-in stores, in a sense, but they also want to be your whole lifestyle, or even your religion.
Content note: Political violence, physical violence, and why I feel using the latter to combat the former will get us all killed. Or at least, all of us whose bodies are politicized.
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If you're an abled white man, we don't need you to punch Nazis for us. The Nazis can and will take out their anger on more vulnerable targets. What we need is for you to pick one of the battles we're waging, and use your power and privilege to shield us. Either give what we need to keep fighting, or find out where the line of fire is and get in the way. In MMO terms, we're cycling DoTs on the raid boss, but we need you to heal, buff, and tank for us.
(MMORPGs are a much better lens to view a group struggle through than solo shooter / adventure games, because anyone who's worked with seventeen other people to clear Dynamis knows what happens when someone refuses to listen, or makes the run all about them.)
Nazis talk tough and collect firearms, but they're fucking cowards. All bullies are. Just look at how scared they are of trans, female, and/or PoC bodies, let alone yours! If you make it clear you oppose them, you don't need to throw punches to get them to back down. Most of the time, all you need to do is tell them to fuck off. Just make sure we're okay, afterwards, and that you listen when we say what we need.
Content note: Money, and shiny personal electronics which may be unattainable for many readers.
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We're okay with getting fewer things, if the ones that we have make us feel better about ourself and our place in the world. And we're okay with Alias buying us electronics, or with saving up for expensive devices, if they last us a long time and delight us the entire way.
I have a friend whose father was a migrant worker and an associate of Cesar Chavez, who will be remembered at the judgement bar for lifting up the lowest of people, who contribute to our economy in the form of cheap produce.
I have several friends who have been the victims of sexual assault, (it’s that common) and who are triggered to varying degrees by the campaign remarks and actions and final election of a sexual predator.
I know a Syrian refugee family in the first weeks of adjustment to their new life in Arizona who found death threats from an anonymous neighbor, for whom many of us made an effort to encourage them that not all their neighbors would wish them evil.
My friends are devastated that the misogynist, racist, religious bigot candidate squeaked by to be elected, and fearful of newly empowered racists, misogynists, and religious bigots at large. Anyone who wants to tell them they should ‘get over it’ already will have to get through me first. We all know that we must move forward somehow come January 20. Grieving is part of some folks’ preparation. Compassion is a duty too.
-- MDearest, comment on Zelophehad's Daughters essay
Here are the reasons why people are talking about IS:
- It flatters prospective buyers liek whoa, as you can see in the title.
- It promises to "change the way you play RPGs," but gives few details as to how.
- It starts at $197 USD. And goes way up from there, with the main draw being exclusive secrets that only you get.
Most of the discussion surrounding the game is privilege-y economics stuff. "It's worth what people will pay for it," "no one has to pay $200 for a luxury good," etcetera.
I feel like what people are missing is that inequality effs your community hard.
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Undertale and Minecraft are two of the biggest "indie games" to make it big, both financially and culturally. People encourage their friends to get into both, not just because they're amazing (for certain values of "amazing") but also because they want to discuss these things with you, and they need you to understand their shared vocabulary in order to do so.
This shared vocabulary enables people to create art that can be widely understood and appreciated. Hence, the piles of Undertale fanwork, up to and including professionally-made musical productions; and the intricate Minecraft creations, up to and including Turing-complete redstone computers.
There are problems with this kind of cultural ubiquity, though. For starters, the amount of attention given to "hit games" literally starves others.
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tl;dr I'm bitter about my fanfiction not being noticed, and should probably just learn to write stuff others like. Damned if I'm not saving *Mute first, though, and damned if I'm giving up on writing meaningful things for underserved minority groups.
There were a ton of ads for plastic surgery at the mall we went to today, including one with a row of people's clothed butts and a pithy slogan about how "everyone deserves to feel great about theirs."
I could not shut up about how global capitalism was holding our butts hostage, and only allowing us to feel good about them if we paid lots of money.
Also, "capitalism" is a word that really deserves to be associated with "butts."
So, we read an excerpt from the intro to a history book on the First Succession War, which was a mad scramble for land and resources after a political upheaval.
It reminded us of how much we love BattleTech sometimes, and why:
It was a week before my nineteenth birthday when we learned that Amaris had been captured and the [coup] was over. Naïvely, we thought things would get back to how they were before, in our parents’ day. How quickly we were disabused of that notion. The dukes knew things would only get worse and all the patriotic noise Kenyon had made was soon supplanted by something more authoritarian. We were just the wrong age, the perfect age to serve.
My boyfriend, Joe, was one of those called up that autumn, thrown into a boot-camp and then shipped off-world to fill out a line unit. I never saw him again—he died on Anegasaki when the Capellans killed the Fourth Militia. I was luckier I suppose, drafted into the planetary militia, so at least I was near home where it was safe and quiet. At least at first.
Then Kenyon got a mind to take over all the Star League facilities, following up on the rumors that Kerensky had left vast stockpiles on-world. That may have been true, but after four years spent on that wild goose, with little more than field rations, toilet paper, and SLDF recruitment pamphlets to show for it, the FWLM shifted their attention elsewhere. That didn’t save me from a grilling by SAFE—several in fact—because of who Gramps was, and his involvement with the Engineering Sub-Command. He died when I was nine, but even so, SAFE struggled to accept that a pre-teen knew nothing about SLDF activity. Dad got it much worse, and was held at the facility in Freeport for three weeks before they decided that the English teacher from Durandel High wasn’t going to give them much help either.
In those days, the years before the start of the Succession War, I did wonder: if this is how badly we treat our own people, how are things going to go when we start shooting at people we don’t like?
Compare and contrast, with how 40k portrays warfare. And authority, and nationalism. Even if you read 40k as a dystopian satire, where the Imperium is meant to be seen as brutal, you rarely get such a personal look, at the price that ordinary people pay for you to dress up in armour and play as a "hero." To satisfy your vain ambition, for power or wealth or heroics.
40k isn't alone in erasing civilians and glamourizing warfare, of course. Don't get me started on dudebro shooters. >_>; With the extremely subversive exception of Spec Ops: The Line.
For another good take (IMO) on how BattleTech portrays conflict, check out the short story at the start of the Alpha Strike Quick-Start rules (PDF link). A private military contractor called Wolf's Dragoons catches a desperate foe completely off-guard, and an enemy MechWarrior has an obvious mental breakdown, but there's no guarantee that she won't recover once they've gone past. So Natasha just shoots her mech's legs out and moves on. Even though she has TEH RAEG because of something the other side's employer did to Dragoon dependents.
Finally, if you want to support a PC / tabletop game that tells the story of people who live in the ruins that "heroes" and generals fight over, check out This War of Mine:
Armed conflict is a terrific backdrop for drama. But it isn't a playground or theme park, and it shouldn't be treated as one.
(Content note for these links and this essay: Racism, sexism, classism, transphobia, and xenophobia.)
I'd just like to take a moment to remind everyone, including my friends who are also transgender, that if you live in the first world everything that you have and enjoy is made possible through unthinkable violence and slavery. Of humans, to say nothing of nonhuman animals.
It's not a matter of how moral you are, or how much you consciously choose not to inflict violence on others. This is an inherent feature, of a world where some people are valued so much more than others. Because the purpose of inequality, inhospitality, and inhumane treatment is to make people broken and desperate.
The purpose of immigration restrictions, for instance, is to enable human trafficking, which means (among other things) being able to keep people in sheds they pay rent on and beat them if they don't wash your car just right. Meanwhile, the reason that the United States lacks the social safety net that other so-called "liberal democracies" have is because one of its political parties (we all know which one) used its "Southern Strategy," of convincing white voters that welfare payments would go to the wrong kind of people.
You know, the ones who are supposed to avert their eyes when they see you walk by, and who call you "sir" and shine your shoes for you.
Trans World Problems?
No. No, the new laws here in the States, that make it even more dangerous for trans people to use public restrooms, aren't a "First World Problems" thing. A "be grateful that you aren't a literal slave" thing. As though becoming a sex worker with no legal protections weren't something a lot of trans people have to turn to, and as though there are no trans people who are black, immigrant, or enslaved.
What this is, is a reminder that we (as trans people) aren't the first to suffer this indignity, and we won't be the last. Unless we can join our grasping appendages with others who are resisting things like it*, and turn the tables on our capitalist oppressors.
(It's redundant to call them that, but sometimes it just helps to hammer it home.)
* Or even others who are affected by it, despite not being trans. Don't forget; besides barring people who don't pass as cis from using the restroom, North Carolina's HB2 also banned local living wage laws, and made it harder for any worker to bring a discrimination suit against their employer. These aren't unrelated coincidences; these things are all part of systemic inequality and oppression.
I don't have the energy to look up citations right now. But I feel like the history of tabletop games is largely the history of diverse, fannish groups adopting games that catch on because they are "good enough" for the time. And then watching as the next 30-40 years see the people who made these games get a lot of unearned power and capital, until they are dictating the shape of their hobbies to everyone else.
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