jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

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.

Read more... )

tl;dr

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.

Donate to the Standing Rock Water Protectors.

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

The following essay was originally posted on the Final Fantasy XIV forums, where it will probably be eaten alive.

Full disclosure: I played FFXI for seven years or so, starting in 2004. I love FFXIV, but for different reasons than I loved FFXI.

When I started playing FFXI, I was completely taken in by its graphics, its community, and even its timesinks. It taught me the ferry arrives in 15 minutes, you need to have food to go levelling, and be careful ninjaing past Valkurm Dunes goblins. I took it all without questioning it, because this was my world and I wanted to go on adventures in it. And when it came time to do Divine Might, I /shouted and rallied my friends until we were herding 18 cats, which to me was the bigger challenge than the actual boss fight itself.

I'm glad that I have those memories, and I think the world needs more sandbox (or sandbox-ish) games. FFXI and EVE Online are "niche" titles, but with surprisingly loyal players. And if FFXI's slowly shrinking while EVE's slowly growing, it's partly because FFXI's based on 10-year-old tech and went neglected for years.

I'm not sure it's possible to build into a game, by design, the kinds of emergent gameplay those two have to offer. I don't think you can queue up in the Duty Finder, for the kind of unforgettable experience that was my friends and me beating FFXI's Ultima with 10 seconds left on the timer. I don't think scripted, themepark games should replace sandbox ones, and I think it's sad that 1.0's fans and SWG's fans lost theirs (multiple times, in the case of SWG).

But I also think they're unfairly romanticized. And I think sandbox fans like me tend to gloss over their faults, and give other people the sense that we think we are better than "casual" gamers, which are really just "anyone not as invested in ___ game as I am."

I think we should stop doing that.

For every one who has glowing memories, there are a lot more who remember a bewildering and frustrating game. For every one who remembers discovering how to beat a tough boss fight, there are a hundred who looked it up on FFXIclopedia (or Erecia's guide, remember that?). Sometimes you want to do it yourself, but you want to be told how to do it. And sometimes, you just wish the darned ferry would get here already.

For every day I spent having awesome adventures, I probably spent ten getting my head handed to me in Valkurm, or running around doing tedious crap and waiting for JP midnight. We don't remember this stuff as well, but they're all that the people who quit remember, which is why FFXI and EVE both have so many haters. Not because the "casual" gamers weren't "hardcore" enough to "learn to play," but because the games disrespected their time and money investments, and failed to fulfill the promise of being an awesome Final Fantasy / Internet Spaceships adventure.

Who made that promise, and how they made it, we could probably argue about. But FFXI and EVE are simply not like the games next to them on the shelves, and someone who bought FFXI thinking it'd be like FFX would be in for a rude shock.

(Just got my FFX/X-2 preorder, BTW. It's gorgeous.)

FFXIV:ARR, I feel, fulfills that promise. Say what you want about it, it is a Final Fantasy game, complete with boss fight and ending sequence. It's just unique among FF games in that you can keep playing after you beat it, unlocking more jobs and teaming up to defeat superbosses, and the developers keep adding new features and storyline quests.

I think their "ideal player" is a core FF gamer, who's new to the MMO world. I think that's the person they design for. And while I sometimes miss not having stuff spelled out for me, I'm also not sure what the difference is between having to research crafting recipes and food stats on FFXIclopedia, and having the game's UI just tell me. Beyond the fact that one of those things makes me do the same work as FFXIV's devs, unpaid.

TL;DR Sandboxes are fun, but people aren't worse gamers than I am because they don't want to do unpaid dev work.

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

(this game)

Step One: Log in to the game

  1. Wow, this sure is taking awhile.

  2. I have to enter a secondary password, and I can't change it? And it's only used in the client app? Well, okay then.

  3. Hm, I created this character last year and never touched it ... I'll go ahead and delete this one and get a fresh start.

  4. I have to wait until 7 AM to start playing? Well okay, whatever keeps people from ragequitting.

  5. wait until the next day

Step Two: Log in to the game

It sure would be nice if this game were pinned to my taskbar along with my other MMOs.

A picture of part of Jewelfox's taskbar. Five of the icons are for Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games, or MMORPGs.

  1. Launching the game from the Start screen brings me to a website? But then I click "Start Game" on the website and it brings up a client app.

  2. Okay, I'll just pin that to the taskbar, then exit out and launch that to make sure that it works.

  3. NO I DO NOT WANT TO UNINSTALL MABINOGI

  4. Whew, I found the actual .exe file that starts the game. I'll just pin that to my taskbar.

  5. @#*$!!!

  6. search DuckDuckGo for why Mabi replaces the launcher with the uninstaller every time you try to pin it

  7. FINE, I will do like this one person tried and create a shortcut to the launcher and then pin that. PROBLEM SOLVED.

Step Three: Log in to the game

  1. Oh crap, the password I chose isn't working. Did I click the wrong key on the onscreen keyboard they made me use? Now what do I do?

  2. I'll reset my account password and hope that fixes it.

  3. @#*$!!!

  4. Okay, there's an option in a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT place to reset the SECONDARY password.

  5. WHY WON'T IT LET ME LOG IN

  6. use your email address as your "account name"

Step Four: Log in to the @#*$ing game

  1. Okay, it'll finally let me delete my old character. Time to create a new character.

  2. WHY IS IT TELLING ME I NEED TO BUY A NEW CHARACTER CARD

  3. WHY DOES A NEW CHARACTER CARD COST ALMOST 8,000 OF THEIR CRAP COINS YOU BUY WITH REAL MONEY

  4. look through their ways to "earn" coins and note that they all ask for your money, credit card number, or email address

I finally found out that at 7 AM on the day after you delete your character they give you another free "character card" to create one with.

[personal profile] rev_yurodivy, [personal profile] aliaspseudonym, I found a game that's harder to log into than FFXI :P

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)
So I just beat the Knights of the Old Republic games, and I'm looking at stuff for The Old Republic (Bioware's free-to-play MMORPG based on them), and the opening movies are unbelievably Troperrific. What really strikes me about them, though, is how sexist they are, which is ironic considering you can play a male or female character in both TOR and the KotOR series.

If you're not convinced that they're sexist, here's the second movie:

And here's a gender inversion based on it!

Spoilers for a five-minute cutscene. )

I realize this is supposed to be a positive portrayal of a female character, but the message it sends is "You have to be this good." If you're a girl, you don't get to be one of the grunts on the ground; you only get to fight if you're the Manic Pixie Warrior Princess. Which is really unfortunate if you don't happen to have Force powers, like the power of instant battlefield dry cleaning and hair washing.

The game itself will let you play as a female Trooper, and you'll go through the same storyline as the male grunts. You just wouldn't know it from the packaging.

Want to see a good contrast?

Check out this trailer for DUST 514, the free-to-play PS3 shooter set in the EVE Online verse.

Note how she isn't portrayed as anything special at first. She's just another soldier. A cool soldier, but not a strange or exceptional sight on the battlefield, and she wears the same armour and uses the same equipment as the guys out there.

I've been playing DUST 514 for a little while, and I haven't been harassed a lot in it and have even gotten some compliments on my skill, although it helps that I keep voice chat turned off. I don't know how the games' communities compare, except that EVE Online itself (a PC MMORPG) has unbelievably sexist players. I just wanted to point this video out as an example of Doing It Right. And I love that I finally get to play a real FPS not just as a female character, but as a personal one.

Looking forward to trying out TOR!
jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)
Content note: This essay will very briefly touch on Mormon religious concepts, as an illustration to a point. This is not just more ranting about stuff that I used to believe.

The concept in question is the idea of "eternal progress." I was taught that this was something which set my old church apart from the Brand X(-tian) churches out there, which all supposedly thought we'd be sitting on clouds in heaven and singing forever and ever. On top of that, we supposedly had "continuing revelation" even in this life, where God's living prophet would tell us new things which were tailored for our day and age.

I really believed all of this. And I believed that "heaven," for that matter, wasn't simply an unquestionably good place that believers were rewarded with. Rather, I believed that there were two kinds of people who didn't go to heaven: The unworthy who knew and regretted their unworthiness, and the unworthy who didn't see heaven as heaven because they'd been twisted around so much they didn't know up from down. They didn't want to go there, and if they could it wouldn't be heaven to them. They simply couldn't appreciate it.

(I may have mixed in some Planescape theology there.)

A couple years after I left my old church, it hit me that this was exactly right. Because back there, they were still teaching the same "Sunday School answers" to every problem, at least the ones they acknowledged existed. And God's living prophet was still telling the same old stories about widows and stuff. Even their new website about "Mormons and Gays" (trigger warning for homophobia) explicitly says "we don't know" why God doesn't want gays to get married. This is what it's come to, now that their old reasons have been disproven. And while the rest of the first world is moving towards marriage equality, they're having a hissy fit over women wearing pants to church.

It's progress, but it's glacially slow and decades behind. And most of their discourse is still the same-old.

Progressive software

Why do I bring all this up? Because I've been realizing how unhealthy it is for me to dwell on that garbage, and trying to find new things to occupy my time with. And while looking at different forums and blogs, I realized I felt more at home on Planet Ubuntu than most more traditional "Free Software" blogs, although Planet GNOME's a close second and I also like Máirín Duffy's blog. And I realized the reason why was the same as with the above: Because in my personal experience, Free Software zealots in the vein of the Free Software Foundation are fundamentalists, who are as anti-progressive as the ones in the church that I left.

So while GNOME is moving design radically forward, they're throwing fits about it. While Máirín's teaching Girl Scouts to use Inkscape, they're making fun of her and staging juvenile protests on Planet Fedora, against the idea of making it easier to use and get involved with. And while the Outreach Program for Women is bringing new writers and contributors into the fold, they're trolling our blogs and insisting we're making stuff up about harassment and other issues that they do not face.

(I realize "they" is amorphous here, so for the sake of discussion it means "the people who do these things." I associate "them" with the FSF because I see it as the least progressive, most fundamentalist arm of the Free Software movement, which I associate in my mind more with their boycotts and insistence on purity than anything -- like the GNU project, or the gcc compiler, or the GPL -- that they may have actually done or created at some point. I'm open to being proven wrong here; I'm aware that people and organizations change, and have been especially impressed with some of Microsoft's recent products. This is just an impression I have, based on who they call their enemy and why.)

I guess what I'm saying is I realized I like the culture in Ubuntu and GNOME, where the emphasis is on moving forward (albeit in different directions for different reasons), and on bringing this stuff that we have to as many people as possible, and even on changing it so as to be more useful and accessible. Whereas in other projects, and communities, and of course churches, I see more of an emphasis on preaching (or appearing to preach) the same fundamentals over and over again, to the point of insulting people it doesn't appeal to or help instead of asking them why.

Progressive gaming?

I realize it's slightly ironic that I'm saying all this when my favourite computer game ever was made about 10 years ago. >_> In FFXI's case, though, I really haven't seen anything better at doing what it does best, for me personally. Most MMOs these days tend to copy World of Warcraft, with its looting and button-mashing and information overload UI. And they don't even do a good job of it.

For me, FFXI isn't a game so much as a world, that I experience in a particular way. It has a minimalist interface that's designed to be played with a game controller. It's immersive, and sort of invites contemplation. Chatting's normally done by text instead of headset. And the pace is extremely different. The only games I know of which come close to how it feels (which I didn't describe very well) are PlayStation Home and FFXIV, both of which I either play or am hoping to play when it comes to the PS3.

I realize now that a lot of the things I lament about missing, that were around in the "good old days" of FFXI, are things that made the game hostile to newbies. I feel good about triumphing over them, but countless others got discouraged and left. I like seeing the game make some progress on this front, and I have high hopes for FFXIV: A Realm Reborn. I want to see this style of game that I like stay young, and bring in new players. I don't want to only be surrounded by people my age, and with my exact preferences. And I don't want all that we talk about to be how things aren't like what they used to be.

In conclusion

I guess there's not really a point to all this. I just figured I ought to write more Dreamwidth essays. Most of the realizations I've been having and progress I've been making, in the last few weeks, I've only been sharing on Skype. I figure I ought to change that, since people seem to like my writing.
jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)
What I proposed creating in that last entry is basically a prototype of the fursona creator. The one I make will be written in the same language, but will be for the web instead of GNOME, so anyone reading this should be able to use it.

My internship with GNOME has been a lot of help in boosting my confidence in my programming skills. I'm excited about finally making these things happen.

In other news, I recently started playing Final Fantasy XI Online again, after trying out their 14-day demo and then buying the full game for like $12. And a controller so I can play it the way that it's meant to be played. >.>; [personal profile] rev_yurodivy, [personal profile] aliaspseudonym and I have been having fun running around Lakshmi server, and anyone who wants to is welcome to join in.
jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)
This article by the New York Times' Matt Richtel examines how computers are used for entertainment by kids of different social classes, and how much. But to me, its message is
Parents disapprove of what their children use computers for.
And the article goes on to talk about local and state programs in the United States that teach "how to apply for jobs online or use filters to block children from seeing online pornography," the former being considered an okay use of computers and the latter being considered a not-okay one.

I am personally not just skeptical, but fearful of attempts to control what children use their computers for. Because I was raised in a physically, emotionally, and sexually abusive household, and having unrestricted computer and Internet access -- and a door I could close and lock when I needed to -- literally saved my life. Until then I was trapped in an information bubble by my parents and their church, and thought I was a terrible, broken person because I didn't measure up to their standards.

Material online about free software advocacy, inclusion of disabled and marginalized people, and yes, even some erotic content, helped show me that the world outside wasn't the terrible place they made it out to be. That being different was not bad, and that I was not a bad person.


Disney's Tangled is a disturbingly true-to-life portrayal of an emotionally abusive, controlling relationship. Click here if you cannot see the embedded video.


The parent-child bond is believed to be inviolable in the country where I live, to the point where it (along with Somalia and South Sudan) is one of the only nations that has yet to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Any intervention parents make on behalf of their children, here, is assumed to be made out of love and a greater understanding than the child herself has. Parents are seen as heroes just for the act of parenting, and abusers are seen as grotesque villains who don't love their kids, not as parents who mis-love their kids. Or who love them but use them to gratify themselves in some way that hurts them. Or who try to love them into becoming someone they're not, and drive them to despair and suicide when they realize they'll never become that.

Whether it's meant to or not, the belief that parents can do no wrong (and that abusive parents are easily recognized) locks children into abusive situations, and shuts down legitimate pleas for redress. It empowers people like my abusers, marginalizes their victims, and gives them little or no recourse or even sympathy. They may even doubt themselves, like I did, instead of recognizing what is done to them for the tragedy that it is.

If we're going to empower children through technology -- and I consider excited kids like the one I used to be the target audience, for the GNOME JavaScript tutorials I'm writing as part of the Outreach Program -- we need to look at ways to empower them as people. We need to let them find what they want to do and are most passionate about, not assume that we know better than them right down to their choice of OS or web browser. And instead of taking their toys away, we should give them the tools to make new ones, and show them how to use those tools in a way that they understand.

With that in mind, I'd like to point out this quote from the article:
“Despite the educational potential of computers, the reality is that their use for education or meaningful content creation is minuscule compared to their use for pure entertainment,” said Vicky Rideout, author of the decade-long Kaiser study.
I take exception with the word "meaningful," there, and the implication that "pure entertainment" can't be educational. But she's right that it's much easier to use computers to play games or enjoy existing content than to create new things with them, because of how complex the content-creation tools are and how hard it is to get started with them and in their communities.

To take just one example, computer games have evolved far past the point they were at when I started playing them, where you had to read the whole manual before playing and understand advanced math to win. Today's games like World of Warcraft are enormously complex, and have entire books written about their inner workings, but are so accessible that many can just pick up and play them and start having fun right away.

What's the learning curve for the GIMP like? Inkscape? LibreOffice? GNOME development? These are all amazing tools, but the time and effort it takes to learn even basic proficiency with them remains a barrier to reaching new users and potential contributors. The biggest thing motivating me to surmount that last one right now is the thought that the work I do will help flatten the curve for others, and let them start kicking tail fast enough that they learn whether or not they have a passion for it before they burn out.

A two-dimensional graph labeled 'How fast and how far can you take your users?' The X axis is labeled 'time,' and the Y axis is labeled 'ability.' There's a horizontal 'suck threshold' labeled 'How soon do they stop hating it?' and a 'passion threshold' labeled 'How soon can they start kicking ass?' The 'good' curve quickly passes between the two thresholds, while the 'bad' curve takes much longer.
Graph by Kathy Sierra, licensed CC-NC-SA.


I'm extremely grateful to my mentor in the OPW program for helping me get started with the GNOME developer documentation project, and keep from burning out on it. And I'm extremely excited about initiatives like this and Mozilla's Webmaker, which are teaching people basic code literacy and helping increase the number of potential users of and contributors to the shared commons of free software.
jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)
So over the weekend, I kind of had a nervous breakdown brought on by thinking about family and worrying about my "job" with the Major News Site. It was extremely painful, and didn't help my stress-induced psychosomatic illnesses any. Fortunately, I was able to spend awhile playing WoW (and playing with my significant others) and have mostly recovered, or at least well enough to try to get back on top of everything.

Other things that helped: The Major News Site got back to me, and apparently they don't have it in for me like I thought they did and don't consider me to be a failure. My pageviews are just down, apparently due to luck and to whatever editing process they use. The weekends they didn't accept new articles were because of a personnel shortage on their part, which probably wasn't helped by the recent layoffs. So basically, I can continue to count on them as a revenue stream for awhile, just not for as much as I used to ... and perhaps not indefinitely.

Besides that, I wrote a couple of letters to my parents, the kind that aren't meant to actually be read by them. Somehow, just putting my feelings in words helped me grasp what I actually felt. Between that and the earlier essay I wrote, I now feel less like I'm leaving things unresolved with them.

Looking towards the future, I have some important chores to take care of before I begin the internship next week. (Including getting my journal syndicated to Planet GNOME, so don't be surprised if you see some new commenters here.) I don't know how much effort I'll be able to put towards the role-playing game I was trying to start. But I still want to create the site, just because it ought to exist and because I want to have it there for anyone who needs it. Whether to start an RPG online, or to write things about the shared world. I really enjoy seeing what people come up with, and I still want to help.
jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)
[personal profile] rev_yurodivy and I haven't been able to get to see a doctor or get me a prescription, yet. But they found an herb [personal profile] spectrum_x recommended earlier, St. John's wort, and I began taking capsules of it last night after a depressing outing yesterday afternoon.

I don't know if it's the placebo effect or not, but so far the biggest change that I've noticed is that my inner critic is not as annoying or unbearable. I'll start to think depressing thoughts, then think "No, I don't have to feel that way. Things aren't that bad, and there's no sense in worrying about them."

I've only written one article in the past two days, which have been especially bad and exhausting. I'm feeling a bit better now though, even if a little sugar-high since I made vegan cheesecake. Going to try to get some writing done today, as well as reply to comments maybe and start working on GNOME again. Their JavaScript tutorials need re-written to use modern technology, and that means I need to backup my system and upgrade to the latest versions of GNOME and Fedora to test them out.

Incidentally, I started creating my own Pathfinder character to play in a Pathfinder Society game, which is Paizo's organized play. I'm a little iffy about it, since their culture seems very ... stereotypical elitist human-centric, male-centric, grognard-centric tabletop gaming-ish. [personal profile] rev_yurodivy and I weren't impressed with the last one we tried, which was basically just a dungeon crawl that was really generic and didn't make any sense, plus it takes a lot of energy to get out of the house.

I think I'd rather be running my own games, honestly. Kind of want to have a character of my own to play sometimes, though. I guess that's why I reinstalled World of Warcraft.

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~ Fox | Gem | Rei ~

We tell stories, paint minis, collect identity words, and share them all with our readers. If something we write helps you, let us know.

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