The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for closing your eyes and clenching your fists and digging in your heels and hoping you can stop time so Monday never comes. Let’s remain here and read about videogames forever.

Katherine Cross attended PAX Australia and this past week wrote about a panel about online harassment. There are worthwhile details inside, including the perspective of an Australian police officer who was one of the panelists.

Jennifer Scheurle’s remarks were, on the whole, more searing, as she had never spoken about her own experience of online harassment in public before a physical audience before. The gathered crowd seemed to walk across a threshold with her as she described what happened. She’d posted a funny image of a statue that she’d dubbed “Mansplaining: the statue.” As the tweet blew up, it caught the attention of Markus Persson, creator of Minecraft and, of late, Twitter edgelord. He attacked Scheurle to his 4 million followers and mocked the situation by saying people were “cuntfusing the issue.” [Update: edited for clarity.] This would sire a weeks-long flood of rape and death threats that left Scheurle frightened and adrift. She said she was continuing to “feel isolated and disconnected from the people I love.”

Cross also wrote about the Australian games industry in general, and what’s become of it since the 2008 global recession caused many AAA developers to pull out of the country.

Though some scattered to the four winds, finding sanctuary in London, Montreal, or Seattle, many more stayed and did something quite extraordinary: they created one of the only indie-led industries in the world. Indeed, it’s impossible to talk about Aussie or New Zealander games without discussing indies at some length. Crossy Road, Agent A: A Puzzle in Disguise, Mini Metro, Armello, Framed, and many more found their origins in Oceania.

Watch Dogs 2 came out on console this week (PC gets it at the end of the month) and the response has mostly been, “hoh shit it’s actually fun?” I liked Gita Jackson specific praise of its clothing options.

Watch Dogs 2, against all odds, has treated menswear with a modicum of respect. Not only are there 6 different brands in the game, each with a discrete style, but these styles have clearly identifiable counterparts in the real world. Stop in Axle Boardshop, and you’ll see styles that would look right at home on the members of Odd Future.

Glixel is Rolling Stone’s new awkwardly-named gaming site. Laura Parker wrote a profile there of Amy Hennig, the Uncharted director who is now working on a Star Wars game at EA.

collaboration with Lucasfilm, specifically with Kiri Hart, the head of the company’s story group, and Doug Chiang, Lucasfilm’s executive creative director. To Hennig’s continued delight, there have been frequent visits to Skywalker Ranch since work began work on the game, at first to photograph and scan props for the game – costumes, masks, original artwork by Ralph McQuarrie – and then simply to soak up the atmosphere. “There’s this giant warehouse full of Home Depot shelves stacked with precious things from your childhood,” Hennig says. “Luke’s Stormtrooper costume, the original Yoda, just kind of saggy and slumped over on this dusty shelf…it’s almost silly, seeing all this precious stuff just sitting there so unceremoniously.”

I enjoyed Chris Thursten’s praise and defence of the Mass Effect character Ashley Williams, much more than I’ve enjoyed the little time I’ve spent with Mass Effect.

In order to explain why I like this character so much I’m going to have to address the krogan in the room: space racism. The notion that Ash Williams is a bigot whose views warrant her being sidelined – even sidelined to the point where you leave her to die in a nuclear explosion – is pretty widely held. ‘Ash is a space racist’ is something that somebody said once that has thrived in comments threads and forum discussions. It’s snappy and easy to echo, if nothing else a fascinating example of how particular perspectives become dominant in fan communities through repetition – even when they’re wrong. Which this time, they are.

Music this week is a two-fer. There’s a new Childish Gambino track Me and Your Mama and there’s – woo! – a new Los Campesinos! track ahead of a new album next year.

From this site

45 Comments

  1. Runty McTall says:

    I find Notch’s trajectory quite odd – you’d think striking it super rich might chill you out a bit.

    • Merus says:

      He’s rich and lucky – it’s got to be pretty hard to know that nothing you do will ever hold a candle to the goofy little side-project you made to fix someone’s else’s game, and that there is absolutely nothing fair about your success (not to diminish or take away from Minecraft – it’s a great game, but even then you have to admit becoming an entire generation’s Lego is kind of an outlier success). It doesn’t help that he wasn’t the wisest or most grounded person to begin with, so I’m not really surprised he embraced his inner asshole.

      • theblazeuk says:

        I never realised he was the physical embodiment of the ‘m’lady’ stereotype.

      • neffo says:

        The last I heard he was drinking himself to death, just like his father was in his rags-to-riches story. It’s all kinda sad really. “The Sins of the Father”, and all that.

        Moving to LA sounds about the worst possible thing to do for someone like him.

      • Phasma Felis says:

        He used to be part of the cheery, freewheeling indie games scene. Minecraft began in a dev thread on the Indie Gaming Source forums. Now he can’t so much as release a tiny little three-day jam game without everyone shitting themselves over “MINECRAFT CREATOR’S NEW GAME”. He’ll never make anything as big as Minecraft again, he can’t make anything smaller without the media ruining it, and he has a fuckload of money and no idea how to be happy.

        None of which excuses this bullshit. Being miserable sucks, but making everyone else miserable too is your own decision.

      • Chillicothe says:

        The “mansplaining” picture up top got me to thinking about what you said.

        That malleability about basic truths reguarding human interaction, decency, and rights is something that isn’t called out enough. Since he’s being a shitheel, therefore his success is 100% luck. Since the situation of mansplaining is a man talking down to a woman, all situations with that make up are 100% manplaining.

        I mean, it ain’t exactly hidden that Notch has descended into shitheel territory and chauvinism still draws breath, do we have to have it take longer to fix by Crying Wolf which as we’ve seen right below, can be and WILL be used in extremist defense?

        It’s a checkmate situation: one can’t but find oneself retreating and defending that edge case instead of the danger at hand. Something to think about in these trying times.

      • Urthman says:

        Yeah, but “he’s rich *and lucky*” is a qualification that’s true for literally every single rich person. Luck is *always* a big factor in the difference between talented hard-working rich people and talented hard-working poor people.

        • Kala says:

          Absolutely. Many people who’ve ‘made it’ tend to attribute their success to hard work and dedication; and I don’t doubt that at all. But. There’s people with the same amount of hard work and dedication who *don’t* ‘make it’. Which is where the luck comes in. Hard work alone is not a guarantee of success.

          (disclaimer: I’m not one of them ;p)

    • k.t says:

      It’s not that odd when you consider how he was treated by a vocal subset of gamers for several years. It doesn’t excuse his more recent behavior, but for a long time he was a genuinely lovely dork.

      • wengart says:

        I feel like part of his “problem” is that he just doesn’t have anything to do anymore.

        He is done with mine craft and his attempts at other games haven’t turned out great. Especially compared to Minecraft. He doesn’t need to work so he just gets to sit around and drift aimlessly. Some folks can handle that but I feel like he isn’t that person.o

  2. daphne says:

    As maligned as Dragon Age 2 is, it does provide some examples of more independent party members with their own agenda. Some of their actions, deceptively out of the player’s control, significantly change the course of the story. Dragon Age Inquisition features a similar character.

  3. gwop_the_derailer says:

    NASA has finally published its peer-reviewed EM Drive paper. Looks like the system really works (the Naboo Royal Starship with its thruster-less propulsion doesn’t look so silly any more).

    It’s time to give the pilot wave theory another go:

  4. Premium User Badge

    Philopoemen says:

    I’m also an Australian police officer, and can confirm the issues mentioned in the Gamasutra article about obtaining details from US-based social media companies. But, without taking anything away from the online harassment of women, my role is related to active child exploitation and physical and sexual abuse – and we don’t get any more cooperation than someone that’s investigating an gamergate-style online threat.

    AS for Officer Nobody’s comments…he obviously wasn’t there in an official role, and that needs to be clarified.

  5. Premium User Badge

    magogjack says:

    Well I have to start a 6th play through of Mass Effect now……Thursten made some pretty good points, and it has been over a year since I hade a play through.

  6. Unclepauly says:

    I romanced Ash. *No Ragrets*

  7. Premium User Badge

    ffordesoon says:

    Love Ash, despise Kaidan. Still think the ending of ME3 would have been made significantly better if the form the Catalyst chose to take was whoever you left to die on Virmire rather than a fucking Magic Star Cousin Oliver.

    • Rizlar says:

      Wow, yeah, that would have been so much better.

    • Arglebargle says:

      Ashley was kicked to the curb (metaphorically), because she was a soldier who disobeyed direct orders and then tried to argue about it. Hence, unreliable. Of course, that may have been influenced by my being from a military family. I sent Kaiden off with the bomb instead of her because his argument for it was better.

  8. Jediben says:

    So the sexist insult of mansplaining, directed at the entire world of men in a public format, is something that should garner no criticism at all and yet returning the compliment is to be derided? Pff. International Men’s Day wasn’t even 15 hours ago!

    • ukpanik says:

      Agree, I’m tired of hordes of sensitive women threating to rape and kill us men.

    • Chorltonwheelie says:

      Dry your eyes mate.

    • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

      Methinks m’lord has misapprehended the meaning of “mansplain,” and has not sussed what is signified by “sexist.”

    • thedosbox says:

      And here we have a perfect example of “Fragile masculinity”:

      So the sexist insult of mansplaining, directed at the entire world of men in a public format

      • Shinard says:

        I mean, technically he’s not wrong. But it’s kinda hard to get het up about somebody being a bit snarky on Twitter when the response is rape threats.

    • Josh W says:

      I’m not a fan of the broad use of mansplaining, as it’s basically made of two components: A man expresses their views in an intellectual or pseudo-intellectual manner, and they do it to a woman, or with women in the assumed audience.

      It was supposed to be about, once upon a time, people assuming they had greater knowledge of a subject than a women, and explaining things as if they knew nothing, although it has been flawed from the beginning by a kind of “ask culture/guess culture” clash between forms of discourse where people are expected to expound and show their knowledge, vs discourse where people primarily ask questions of each other.

      With that confusion, someone being enthusiastic about a topic in a male manner can be conflated with being patronising, if that person is expecting that you will interrupt them to show you already know something as a natural part of conversation.

      Paradoxically, by nodding and smiling while making snide comments later on on twitter, people are reinforcing a classic patriarchal dyad, where women are expected to explicitly defer to men in public while undermining them using back channels.

      And that flaw has been amplified over time, so the fundamental problem of a discourse mismatch hiding misogynistic assumptions (eg. men acting like women can interrupt them like a man would, but then loosing their cool and obviously treating them differently, or being shocked when they show equivalent or greater expertise) has been put aside in favour of attacking a male model of discourse purely through pattern recognition, which, because it is also the standard discourse model of a lot of academic environments, also doubles as a form of accidental gender-limited anti-intellectualism.

      Even so, the core idea at the base of mansplaining is funny, it has a basic appeal you’ll find in lots of old comedy, where an arrogant person claims a high position for themselves, only for their pomposity to be undermined. And exaggerated “side eye” is a comedy staple of the moment, particularly thanks to the american office.

      The recent american election was like an apotheosis of side-eye, an exaggerated staging of precisely this problem, that men in the right position can claim any kind of experience, despite being vastly out-qualified. In this case it didn’t have a happy ending, however amusing some of it’s moments were, and sadly that’s still true of many of the smaller examples too. Talking about mansplaining is a coping strategy that only has negative effects for people who don’t claim experience off the back of unearned privilege. The Trumps of the world carry right along as though it doesn’t exist, whereas those trying to express themselves in a way that reaches for intellectualism get hit by the ricocheted bullets.

      Now to say what shouldn’t need to be said, but probably should be amplified given how much time I took to say the above:

      None of this is in any way a justification for Notch’s behaviour.

      Trying to create reversed amplified versions of something you already think is wrong, which exist as coping strategies for substantial problems in normal life, is obviously hypocritical. And in a sense also twisting the knife of the original injustice that inspired the joke. Doing so in addition to using sexist, abusive language and doing so in a public place in a way likely to trigger abuse by supporters, is even worse.

      Any motivation that could even begin to act as a justification for this action instead incriminates it further!

  9. Premium User Badge

    DelrueOfDetroit says:

    link to youtube.com

    Does anyone want to talk about how amazing the new Tribe album is?

    • Catterbatter says:

      My first thought when I heard about it was something like “oh no, please don’t.” But now it’s out, and it’s absolutely everything it should be.

      • Premium User Badge

        DelrueOfDetroit says:

        I can’t think of another group who has taken an almost 20 year long hiatus that has released an album retaining this level of quality. It’s not as good as Low End Theory, because no album ever will be, but it is definitely up there with either People’s or Marauders.

    • Arathorn says:

      It’s absolutely great. Like Catterbatter I was sceptical at first (partially because it was released quite some time after Phife’s death), but the first few seconds alone dispelled all my fears.

      Even though this should be the last ATCQ album, I do hope Tip, Ali and Jarobi stick together for some kind of project. Because solo Q-Tip never really gripped me.

    • Premium User Badge

      subdog says:

      It’s the best album I’ve heard all year, easily. That verse by 3 stacks got me misty-eyed.

  10. MyKeyboardSucks says:

    Im writing this here because i don’t know where to get the right help, and hope that im not intruding.

    Im suffering from deep anxiety possibly related to video game addiction and i don’t think my doctor can help me. What ever im doing or who ever im with i can’t fuction in the real world, my mind constantly fixated on whichever virtual world im invested in at the time.
    I work full time and live with my girlfriend who doesn’t share my passion, nor does she know that all the time im spending with her im unable to concentrate, unable to enjoy romantic occasions or take my mind off the next chance for me to escape to my game. My life is now work, all aspects of it are a necessary sacrifice to ensure im undisturbed when i get back to my game. Ive started to resent her for taking my time and think about leaving her regularly which fills me with a dreadful sense of self-loathing.
    As i write this a week has past since ive had time to play. I feel restless, cold, empty and developed shivers not unlike a drug addiction. But it wont end, i wont feel comfortable or able to function properly untill im plugged back in.
    Im not one to cry for help and im sure this community will understand this is not something i can discuss with family or even friends, because im likely to be laughed off, but im desperate i guess.
    If someone is able to provide me with some advise or point me in the right direction to get help id be very grateful. This website has been a massive inspiration for me in the past and im only comfortable posting this here. Love you all.

    • Premium User Badge

      DelrueOfDetroit says:

      Your doctor can absolutely help you. That would be the first thing to do. There could be other factors relating to your anxiety (diet for example.) They will also help you to get a sense of how serious your problem is. Here is an article RPS did on videogame addiction if it helps: link to rockpapershotgun.com

    • Traipse says:

      I’ve been in a similar situation before, but things got better for me, and they may well for you too. You may have worked this out for yourself already, but: Keep in mind that the underlying problem isn’t “video games” — they’re a symptom. The underlying problem is the anxiety and depression that’s making real life so intolerable that you feel such an irresistible urge to escape from it. But real life has a way of not letting you ignore it for long.

      Don’t look at it as “How can I stop playing video games so much”, because while that’s not necessarily a bad thing to work on, it’s treating the symptom. Think about “Why am I driven to play video games so much?”, and then try to change that. What about your existence is so intolerable that you need to get away, and what can you do — even the simplest, smallest step — to make it a little bit less scary? Keep finding one small step, one little goal at a time. It’s like climbing a mountain: if you look up at the peak, you think “Christ, that’s so far away. I’ll never make it.” But if you concentrate on the ground right in front of you, on taking that first step, and then another, and then another, you get there eventually.

      If the answer to “What small steps could I take to make things better?” is “I have no idea”, then you should really try to find a therapist. Having someone safe and non-judgemental to talk to who can help you drill down into the roots of your problems is invaluable. I don’t know enough about your location or situation to offer useful advice in finding a therapist, but it’s easy enough to Google. (And that’s a good “small step” goal to set: “Today, I will set up an appointment.” If that’s too big, break it down into steps: “Today, I’ll look up a therapist’s phone number. Tomorrow, I’ll call one.”)

      Good luck, buddy. It can get better. Well done for having the courage and self-awareness to post this; it’s a good place to start.

      • MyKeyboardSucks says:

        Your right on, it’s escapism. Not the video games themselves but the fact they provide a suitable alternative to reality. I knew it myself but i guess i couldn’t bear to face the fact that ive lost control of my situation. I think ive manged to deny myself the right to say ‘im not happy’.

        Thank you, really thank you for taking the time.
        Im going to take your advise and start looking for a therapist.

    • Jediben says:

      Don’t discount the possibility that your relationship is the thing that drives you to games.

      • Premium User Badge

        Kushiel says:

        Don’t discount the possibility that you’ve got zero means of discerning what the source of their problems is.

        MyKeyboardSucks, ignore this idiot and find someone you can talk to who’ll be able to et to know the context of your life, like a therapist as others have suggested.

    • Phasma Felis says:

      I don’t think I can offer much direct help, but if you want more discussion than this, you might look at the RPS forums (far right button on the red bar at the top of the page). They’re less transitory than these comment threads, so you might get more thoughtful responses.

      Please do talk to your doctor about this. You would probably benefit from professional help, as with any addiction, and a good doctor can help point you in the right direction. Best of luck.

    • Premium User Badge

      Grizzly says:

      If it makes you feel any better, John has been suffering from anxiety disorder for quite a long time now:
      link to rockpapershotgun.com

      When you suffer from a mental health issue (and it sounds like you do) too remember that your ability to diagnose issues is also partly affected. Otherwise said: Your brain has a problem with realizing that you have a problem. By making that post, you’ve already gotten past the first hurdle. Well done.

      My advice would be to caplitalize on the momentum and find support with your doctor or amongst your friends. It’s certainly not going to be easy, but it’s worth it.

    • Kala says:

      “Im suffering from deep anxiety possibly related to video game addiction and i don’t think my doctor can help me.”

      Please try. I think they’ll help you.

      It’s worth considering that your video game addiction could be a symptom of your underlying anxiety (though probably a negative feedback loop re ; as the longer you reinforce the avoidant behaviour, the harder the real-world becomes to cope with).

      I.e your behaviour could be how your anxiety is expressed (a need to escape into games). We’re hard-wired to have these kind of responses; it’s fight or flight and completely normal to want to escape or avoid things that upset or trouble us. It’s only a problem when taken too far.

      Maybe consider telling your doctor that anxiety is affecting your ability to function and having a negative impact on your personal relationships. Describe your symptoms and explain how you’ve played video games to try to make yourself feel better but have developed a dependency on them that’s making you more withdrawn and contributing to the problem.

      They might prescribe medication or refer you to a therapist or (ideally) a combination of the two, to help break the cycle that you’re in.

      I suspect you’ll feel much, much better when you’ve talked to the doctor and got the ball rolling. (I did, for depression).

      You’re totally not alone with this. It’s just people don’t tend to talk about this kind of stuff openly very often.

      • MyKeyboardSucks says:

        Thanks everyone for commenting on my post. I never imagined I would get such a heartwarming response.
        After reading through all your comments and John’s article on AD (thank you grizzly) ive managed to break from some deep denial. So sobering in fact, i found myself running to the toilet as my eyes started welling.
        I don’t feel any better today, but now i know where to start. I called my surgery today and made an appointment to see my doctor.

        Again thank you all. To think i very nearly didn’t hit the ‘Opinion, away’ button for fear of rejection. My friends and family may have told me to see my doctor, but under the circumstances i would likely ignore their advise. It took the kindness and empathy of fellow ‘gamers’ to really put things into perspective.

        Much love and respect.

Comment on this story

XHTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>