THE WORD ON THE .NET

Writer T. James' Exploration of Words, on the Internet.

Author: T. James (page 1 of 10)

#Gamergate, it’s ‘Them and Us’ All Over Again

The end of society as we know it? Probably not, but there’s plenty of fallout for those too close.

August-November, 2014 and #Gamergate hit the proverbial fan, setting off waves across the net:

  • ‘Lack of ethics in games journalism’ saw female dev-minxes allegedly grinding completely innocent journalists until they were so hot on testosterone they willingly lay naked on floors, laptop-typing feverously positive game reviews that were stiletto heel edited with jabs to the neck.
  • Hidden left-world think-tank, oestro-powered cranium-women sent Telepathic Mother Waves that were downloaded through big loopy earrings and regurgitated, unedited, by glam, pretty young things.
  • Hidden left-world think-tank, testostro-powered unwashed news hacks sat around in hairy-huddles, picking fleas from each others armpits and groin-sniffed and chest beat until they thought they were Alpha Kong-Dongs and could defecate on everyone else from on-high.
  • White, fat, hairy neckbearded menchildren responded and declared themselves the new oppressed minority majority, except the journalists had already killed them, so it was too late.
  • Left to to carry the torch were women-trans-gay-coloured gamers who shouted at the open-minded and completely unbiased mainstream press who didn’t listen – they wanted to demonstrate sympathy with the fem-left by acting in an utterly patriarchal way: ‘helping’ distressed women against their online male oppressors because it was what their audience expected, and gamer-hating brought in the ratings and ad revenue.
  • The Rabid-Fem community heard the ‘gamers’ who refused to conform though. Clothed solely in totally functional and ungenderising armour woven from whiter-than-white lily petals, these humanitarian souls labelled other women, non-whites and every gender imaginable, ‘white mens’ bee-atches’, ‘house-n*ggers’ and ‘gender-traitors’.
  • The non-majority gamers retaliated with angry signs declaring ‘#NotYourShield’ and accusations of control, hypocrisy and prejudice.

Not nice, is it?

The confusion, clash of ideologies, nepotism, deceit and arrogance displayed through the whole debacle has left lives in tatters (no, really) and enraged  people on- and offline. So, who’s to blame? The Quinns, Sarkeesians, or Wus? If women had that much power, even the most rabid man-haters would be appeased, their desired matriarchy firmly established over all men and any women still willing to treat the breast-less as human beings. Whatever their actions or politics, those three have taken enough flak and it’s time to let them get on with finding their lives. Zoe Quinn will, hopefully, eventually find joy in developing games and sharing them with an open-minded audience. Yes, Anita Sarkeesian will probably release another video or several criticising males and video games and appear on mainstream TV and in editorials, but that’s what she does. I’m not going to tell her she can’t. I’d even fight for her right to do so but she doesn’t need my help.  Whatever she says or does, I hope those that threatened her are caught and dealt with. And Brianna Wu? I hope she keeps finding the courage to send a few mocking tweets – there are plenty on  the internet who need a good prodding. My hope is that they’re big enough to take it, and restrict their responses to tweets-in-kind.

So, that leaves the misogynist gamers (no matter their colour, creed or orientation), the corrupt games journalists, the sociopathic trolls, self-serving mainstream media, the Boadicea Wimmin Warriors and Fem-Bashing Neanderthals. Who’s your tribe? Which group(s) do you hate?

Personally, I blame the cliques; group-think works for any ideology. It’s the safe way to live.

How to fight an historical patriarchy that remains as part of the establishment, making the life-slope steeper for women to climb? Solution: define yourself by opposition and become a man-hater pushing for preference, not equality.

How to fight racism and discrimination against human beings who just happen to have more melanin in their skin than I do? Solution: define yourself by opposition and call white males bigoted ‘rednecks’ and ‘neckbeards’.

How to fight the corrupt media? Solution: in-focus and huddle, until you call for boycotting of every site that hosts reviews you just don’t like, and not just because they manipulate and grant behind the scenes favours. Follow up by nit-picking every little mistake your opposition makes, as if that proves your point. (But your opposition does that too, so it doesn’t matter.)

Instead, do you join the corrupt media? Answer: absolutely, because you get to close ranks with your mates when the finger pointing starts, insult you readership, and refuse to even consider signing up to ethically sound journalistic guidelines to ensure a level playing field for everyone.

That leaves the disenfranchised, what should they do? Answer: form an anti-whatever group and send the hate ‘they’ dissed you with back at ‘them’, ten-fold.

What’s so utterly obvious, yet apparently so hard to believe and act on, is that no one is perfect. Prejudice, self-righteousness, anger, hatred, judgemental-ism: it’s part of all of us. People are complex. No-one’s online self is all that they are. But, whoever we are and whatever our weaknesses, we’re defined by our choices. So, which have you made? Do you hate/despise/belittle those who oppose you? Attempt to silence them? Attack them personally?  (Note: criticising someone’s work is different – maybe just keep the bile out of it?)

Are you defined by being anti-something, or are you for something, and no, they are not the same.

Humanity doesn’t need hate-filled feminism any more than it needs self-interested patriarchy. It doesn’t need self-appointed, self-interested power groups any more than it does those who would resort to abuse or attacks to fight them. It doesn’t need groups or individuals labelling and condemning each other and not listening.

Whether our bits jiggle when we walk, or not, whether we turn pink in the sun, or not, when did we leave parts of our minds / souls / spirits behind?

Tomorrow is another day, so why not make it better?

#Gamergate: What Does it *Mean*? And Should You Use it?

Like many writers, I find stringing words together gets my thoughts in order. I wasn’t sure I was even going to publish this… but I decided to. It’s not an academic piece. It’s not referenced, it’s opinion. It’s pretty much an unedited stream of consciousness written at 3am after a private disagreement with another writer about gamergate. Was it ethical to use the hashtag on Twitter, to participate at all?

‘#Gamergate’ is something that’s become a massive controversy in the gaming community. Gaming has been a huge part of my life, nearly 30 years of it in fact. I took a break recently to explore my own creativity and have come full circle writing in a game universe. (Usual disclaimer: these opinions are completely my own and are not representative of anyone else’s. I’m an indie writer and enjoy the privilege of spouting off without undue concerns about being censored.)

Gamergate is a complex, many headed hydra. It started with an online ‘exposure’ by Zoe Quinn’s ex-boyfriend of intimate details of her life, their previous relationship, naked photos, and accusations of sleeping with games journalists for favourable reviews of her game, amongst other personal attacks. The ‘sex for favours aspect’ was subsequently rebuffed by Kotaku (the site the games journalist she had a relationship with wrote for), stating what was written was not contemporaneous with the relationship and nothing was written after it started. But the internet had already got hold of the story. Some vicious thugs, because there is no other name for people that do things like this, persecuted Quinn to such an extent she was driven out of her home and it’s wrecked her life. Other female gamers/developers/critics have encountered similar hateful treatment. Perversely, some of the gamergate movement denied this ever happened, that the abuse isn’t real – I’ve read the tweets. Whether this stems from ignorance or a wilful desire to ignore the evidence, I don’t know, but I’m not convinced by either.

Others accuse those affected of cynical victim-hood to push an agenda, and even engineering the evidence of the abuse for personal gain or furthering of political agendas antithetical to gaming culture. Personally, I don’t think this likely. The victimisation is real, it’s ugly, and is a stain on the gaming community as a whole… And for some that’s gamergate. Jealous ex -> stigmatisation -> vilification -> victimisation. Ruined lives. The label of gamergate stood for, and will always stand for, the systematic abuse of women in the gaming community. After the hateful experiences of those concerned, that’s a perfectly reasonable interpretation. Gamergate for them will always be when their community turned on them. Many people of conscience also feel this way about the tag. (Watching someone go through that, you’d have to be a real git not to empathise.) They argue that to use the tag is to perpetuate the abuse, even implicitly endorse it. Some of those under the gamergate banner still espouse viewpoints I think most reasonable people would find utterly offensive. So, this leaves a question, how can anyone use the tag online, support gamergate, and even defend it? Is gamergate now not just another misogynistic label and rallying point for sexist bigots and abusers?

You’d think so. I was surprised when I read the tweets.

As well as the abuse, I found a diverse range of people: white, coloured, male, female, trans, gay, bi… all using the tag. Surely this is morally indefensible and reprehensible? It comes down to motive. I read, listened, watched. I went back in time and and did more of the same. Some of it was about the victimisation/affront to gaming of Zoe Quinn, Anita Sarkeesian, and Brianna Wu; some viewpoints were sympathetic, some not. There was, and still is, threads running through the tag highlighting the minutiae of the lives and event-sequences for all three individuals: who did what, when, to whom; what this tweet/vid/blog/interview means. But that wasn’t all that was there. There were many who were genuinely concerned about the ethics of games journalism and political agendas. Whether or not Quinn was guilty as charged didn’t matter, there were other things wrong with games reporting. Nah, I thought. So I did some more digging. Major companies have pulled advertising. Gawker has been found to have broken Amazon’s advertising-host Terms and Conditions and lost its backing; games journalists and forum moderators sites have been called out for bullying and abusing ‘gamers'; professional cliques (ProJournos) are thought to communicate behind closed doors, having the power to make-or-break a title before release. There was, and is, a massive community outcry to have these issues and concerns heard, to have them discussed within the gaming news sights that purport to represent ‘gamers’. Most were silent and gamer resentment mounted. Then several sites released ‘Death of the Gamer’ articles. Gamers were labelled as fat, white, heterosexual misogynist ‘neckbeards’. There was abuse from people who called themselves professional journalists towards a community that, apparently naively, thought they were there to provide a service and share there love of gaming. White male gamers didn’t like it. But neither did women gamers, coloured gamers, or gamers of other sexualities. This isn’t us!’ they shouted. ‘We are gamers too!’

The antipathy had been there a long time. Some reviewers were evaluating the content of the games, in a way that asked, ‘Were they “PC”?’ Many gamers wanted reviewers to just review games, not add in ‘progressive’ political footnotes. The divide, dislike and distrust between journalists and many gamers grew, until some journos declared they wanted them, and any male-based culture, ‘Dead’ and gone. From outside, a storm in a tea cup? It can look that way, but for many gaming is a passion, and for some of the most vulnerable, their only escape. The defence started. No one likes being called a misogynist, sexist, a bigot because they play some games featuring women lacking a full set of clothes and pneumatic breasts. (The debate as to whether this makes you a misogynist or not is one of the central ones of gamergate.) Other non-white/non-male/non-hetero groups were outraged at being misrepresented by those who supposedly thought gaming should be more inclusive, and that this wasn’t going to happen until the old, stereotypical white male culture was dismantled. ‘Gaming is already diverse; we’re here and we have our own voices, thank you very much,’ came the response. So gamers of all stripes, genders, and orientations protested. Some gamers allied with the journalists, some stayed neutral, and some idiots stirred the pot. The dialogues had all been happening under the label, the hashtag, of ‘gamergate’. The label was irrevocably attached to the conversation/debate/war. Everyone now knows what ‘WWII’ means: six years of hell to push back an evil regime, but to some in 1939 it meant a local territorial dispute that would be sorted by Christmas. ‘WWII’ is a label whose meaning changed over time for the people that lived through it. So it is now for many moderate gamers: ‘gamergate’ is no longer just Quinn’s story, or Sarkeesian’s, or Wu’s – it’s still their stories, yes, but there’s now many more. To anyone whose watched trends and ‘movements’ come and go on the internet, this shouldn’t be a surprise. Repackaging, reinventing, rehashing of meaning is endemic to such a transient medium as social networking. The word remains.

So now you have camps: those who are disgusted by anyone who identifies with the gamergate tag; those who feel it represents them, their community, their concerns and stand in opposition to a press that they feel has betrayed them; those who want it to implode, to display the moral bankruptcy of the white male patriarchal gaming culture; those who want it to disappear so they can go back to playing games; and those who couldn’t care less. (There’s probably more.)

Whatever their viewpoints or agenda, the meaning of ‘gamergate’ has changed, for the people that use it (or not), and over the course of time. It will continue to change as more moderates feel they can/need to affiliate with it to actively engage in a discussion things may settle down, develop, mature. Useful dialogues and accountability, a vilification of those who peddle hate and violence may become hallmarks of the virtual culture crossroads that is gamergate. Either that, or it will fall into the hands of one extremist mindset or another and drift into obscurity leaving the disillusioned middle behind… or everyone will get bored and drop it as yesterday’s fad. Whatever happens, the collective meaning of gamergate is different: from yesterday, to today, into tomorrow.

The meaning for those whose lives were chewed up by gamergate’s genesis will not change, however. And whatever their politics or viewpoint, my heart goes out to them.

Whether you choose to use it depends on what it means to you.

 

Review: Grammarly Premium, Grammar Checker

 Interesting Image of a Very Angry Grandmother‘You’re never going to meet my standards, little boy.’

First, a confession:  in order to write this review, Grammarly Inc. provided me with a free upgrade to a premium account. However, I remain unbiased for three reasons:

  1. When I attempted to use Grammarly Premium over a year ago to help proofread my novel, I gave up on it. I’m only now revisiting the software and it has a lot to prove.
  2. I’m not the kind of person that can be bought with a freebie.
  3. It’s taken me so long to get around to this review, my year’s free upgrade ended halfway through writing it. Luckily, I finished the Premium testing last week, but this review has only been checked by Grammarly Basic. (After reading my prose, you may decide Grammarly Premium is an essential purchase after all.) ;)

Introduction

As one of its most established players, Grammarly is the Old Dear of the automated grammar checking business and is used by students, legal eagles, and writers. I wanted to find out whether it was impossible to teach the premium edition to suck eggs or whether she’s an awkward ol’baggage only fit to bury. Continue reading

I’m Still Alive – Just Working on Other Things

When I started my latest project I thought I would keep posting regularly on this blog, but alas I haven’t had time to do both. This blog isn’t dead, and new material may surface from time to time, but until Out of the Darkness is complete that’s where I will be committing the bulk of my writing time.

I’m blogging about the progress of the novel; just click on the picture below if you are interested in finding out more:

Out of the Darkness is a science fiction novel set in the Elite: Dangerous universe. Release estimated to be Q2-3, 2014.

Featured Book Giveaway: “Girls & Monsters” by Anne Michaud

Anne Michaud girls and monsters

Girls & Monsters

by Anne Michaud

Release date: Apr 30, 2013

Win a free trade paperback copy of Anne Michaud’s Girls & Monsters a month before it’s released!

THERE’S ONLY ONE WEEK TO GO BEFORE THE GIVEAWAY CLOSES…

***CLICK HERE TO ENTER***

 

This dark but uplifting collection of five Young Adult novellas includes:

Death Song: Liz is in love with Joe, but the monster of the lake has other plans for them.

Black Dog: Scarlet is engaged in a struggle for her sanity, but according to the voice in her head, she may be too late.

A Blue Story: When Katherine’s beloved dog goes missing, she fears her strange new neighbor might be involved.

Dust Bunnies: Christiane faces her childhood arachnophobia and ends up confronting even greater fears in this test of sisterhood.

We Left at Night: Brooke and her family must abandon their home and their lives to make it out of a disease-plagued town overrun by zombies.

 

Girls & Monsters is for everyone who has ever been brave enough to confront their childhood fears…and lived to tell about it.

 

About Anne Michaud

“Anne Michaud is an author of many talents, especially getting distracted by depressing music and dark things. She likes to write and read everyday, and speak of herself in the third person.

Since her Master’s degree in Screenwriting from the University of London, England, Anne has written, directed and produced three short films,  distributed by Ouat! Media in Toronto, Canada. The lyric documentary Worth a Thousand Words (2006) can be seen here.

And then, after hundreds of hours spent on studying and making films, she changed her mind and started writing short stories, novelettes and novels. Some have been published, others will be soon enough.

Keep your eyes open, she’s behind you.”

More information can be found about this monochrome yet colourful French-Canadian and her writing on her blog and her Facebook page. She has also been known to Tweet.

Taking Tea with Mr. Mole: A Nonsense Poem

There once was a vole, a fox, and a mole—daintily tippling tea from cups with filigree—down inside Mole’s burrow.

Said the fox to the mole, “If you are free, can I trouble you for some giblets or possibly steak riblets, to munch on with our tea? It would do much to lessen my sorrow.”

“My apologies dear Fox, for with meat I’m quite lost, but I do have a worm that will make your innards squirm?” said Mole, his voice touched with frost.

“No. I can’t be doing with all that wriggling and jiggling—my insides I don’t want grumbly. But some lovely intestine is really quite fetching and my digestion will not pay the cost.”

“So sorry, Mister Fox, for your cuisinal loss, may hap you will have to go hungry. Now Vole, a question, no, consider this suggestion: would you like some worm pie, garnished atop with toad’s eye?”

“Ah yes, Vole,” said Fox, “you’re a plump fellow, and despite wearing yellow, I think I’d like you for my tumbly.” And quick as a flash he stripped off Vole’s sash, and swallowed Vole whole with a sigh.

Mole’s mouth was agape as Fox reached for his cape. “M…M… Mister V…V…Vole!” he stammered, as his little heart hammered. “Fox, you’ve just eaten my dinner guest!”

“Mole, fear not, for Vole has ended my lack of a small, furry snack, and now I should be going. But I’ll return next Wednesday to this passable assembly—just invite someone else I can digest.”

—♥—

Taking Tea with Mr. Mole, a nonsense poem, copyright © T. James, March, 2013.

Image: “Cup Of Tea With Cheesecake“, courtesy of  Marcus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Guest Post by Michael Brookes: On the Shoulders of Giants

Last year I wrote a post on my blog about why I consider John Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ the greatest story ever told. I’m not going to repeat the reasons why here, if you’re interested then please visit http://thecultofme.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/paradise-lost-greatest-story-ever-told.html. In today’s guest post I want to examine how this wonderful story influences my own writing and how I stand on the shoulders of giants. Continue reading

Fan Fiction: Evil Plagiarism, or Innocent Homage?

Fan fiction (fanfic)—fans writing fiction based on an author’s book—hit the headlines in 2011 when E. L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey became a best-selling self-published ebook. The publishing rights were purchased by Random House and the (eventual) trilogy went on to become a mainstream best seller, with the first novel becoming the fastest selling book of all time, outstripping (cough) even Harry Potter. (The series was originally inspired by Stephanie Mayer’s Twilight novels, but later morphed into something quite, well, different.) At the time it was vilified  by “proper” writers and shredded by critics, but the books have sold over 65 millions copies. Fan fiction splits opinion, both of authors and readers, but recently I started a new writing project that has forced me to re-examine mine. Continue reading

Featured Novel: ´Conversations in the Abyss´ by Michael Brookes

This week I’m handing over to Michael Brookes—imagineer of things fantastical and metaphysical. He works far too hard, so show him some love and check out the details of his latest novel below, it’s probably not quite like anything you’ve read before…

‘Conversations in the Abyss’ is the sequel to the 5 star rated supernatural thriller ‘The Cult of Me’

Stealing Lazarus’s miracle gifted him immortality. Combined with his natural ability of invading and controlling people’s minds, this made him one of the most dangerous people on Earth.

But the miracle came with a price. His punishment was to be imprisoned within the walls of an ancient monastery and tormented by an invisible fire that burned his body perpetually. To escape the pain he retreated deep into his own mind.

There he discovers the truth of the universe and that only he can stop the coming Apocalypse.

Buy now from Amazon:

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00BCP08JU/

US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BCP08JU/

About Michael Brookes

Michael Brookes is an Executive Producer with a leading UK games developer. Working in games and writing are two of his life passions and considers himself fortunate to be able to indulge them both. He lives in the east of England, enjoying starry skies in the flattest part of the country. When not working or writing he can sometimes be found sleeping. Which is good as that is where many good ideas come from.

Michael’s Blog: The Cult of Me

Other Books by Michael Brookes

‘The Cult of Me’
For too long he dwelt apart, watched those who passed him by. With his unique abilities he entered their minds and inflicted terrible suffering upon them. They didn’t even know who he was. The game has lasted for years, but now the game has become stale. On an impulse he decides to make a final and very public last stand. After surrendering himself to the police he enacts his plan to seize the prison for his final bloody act. 

There he discovers that he’s not as unique as he once thought.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Cult-Third-Path-ebook/dp/B008O7ZVXW/

‘An Odd Quartet’
A quartet of dark short stories (10,000 words) to thrill and chill.

‘The Yellow Lady’
Grave robbing is a dirty business, in more ways than one. When he disturbs the grave from a childhood scary story he discovers it’s not always treasure to be found.

‘This Empty Place’
At the heat death of the universe, Death contemplates his existence.

‘Forced Entry’
Terrorists seize an average suburban house. A Special Forces hostage rescue team is sent in and encounter more than they were trained for.

‘The Reluctant Demon’
A young demon prepares to take his possession exam.

http://www.amazon.com/An-Odd-Quartet-ebook/dp/B009QJMMPC/

Mind the Mundane: A Guest Post by Steve McHugh

This week I am handing my blog over to the talented and debonair Steve McHugh: writer of paranormal fantasy and breaker of hearts across the internet. Below are his very own words. (You may stroke your screen if that helps you feel closer to him, but salivating over your electronic web device may result in an electric shock that has nothing to do with Steve’s charged personality.) Continue reading

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