Sunrise

DAY 3: I’m a  recovering addict, trying my best not to sound like an evangelist. It’s a tough ask, some days, especially when the weight of evidence shows how gullible I was. Companies are to blame for feeding addiction, and in due course one can only hope common sense will prevail… but don’t bet on that. However, if as individuals we are unable to discern truth in our own shortcomings and failings, all is lost.

This, in a certain light, utterly is confirmation bias at work. Someone else (as a result of my flagrant disregard of The Community) is already indignantly decrying this attack on freedom of choice, and that’s absolutely fine. However, if you continue to throw money at companies whose entire modus operandi is to get you to do just that, stop complaining they don’t cater to your tastes. That’s when you take your money away and go elsewhere. No really, that’s how it should work.

If it doesn’t…? Who has the problem here, exactly?


I do love my gaming friends. Some have moved on, others staunchly remain wedded to their MMO’s of choice and all of them wear gaming as a badge of honour. It is how you know if someone’s gonna grasp your point of view or not: meeting gamers makes a ton of metaphors applicable in any conversation. It’s the difference between awkward and relaxed, almost instantly.

Currently I have a History of the Internet poetry collection under submission and once it is summarily rejected (because half the references will be lost on people judging) I will go about getting it published myself. This is what I am. Like it or not, good or bad, there is never the means to separate gamer from woman. It’s why indignation rises over cheap stereotyping, that this same stupid, pointless rhetoric hasn’t gone away for the 40 years I’ve played.

This whole ridiculous argument isn’t about women being good at games, it’s about women being good at ANYTHING and part of me wants that association to be 360 No Scoped back into the 8 bit age. I don’t fucking care how good or bad I am, I deserve the right to play unchallenged.

This is a fundamental problem with Humanity that really should have been fixed by now.


Rejecting a space which is specifically designated as one in which performers may do as they wish is artistically limiting, Kanye.

You need to listen to more people, mate.

That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore

Technology is a harsh mistress, as I have found to my cost on many occasions. How you deal with it, what it means to others, and ultimately how it is learning to deal with us can be tough to grasp. Someone linked this to me this morning, remarking how amusing they found it. I’ve watched it four times, and only now grasp why.

Why we laugh is an extremely subjective set of variables. Often we do so just to fit into the social situation that we’re placed in, and certain actions will be hilarious to one person and offensive to someone else (see setting fire to bonfire effigies earlier this week.) ‘Funny’ for me has always been a tough ask, especially on days when the ASD brain just sees things for what they are, and is unable to either assign subtlety, meaning  or depth. Things like this video are particularly difficult to fathom. After all, the computer is doing is using an algorithm to place the most popular posts by likes and views in a certain order.

Is this funny because there’s only one friend, or are you laughing in relief relief that this car crash of a life isn’t ours?

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This week has also highlighted a gulf in empathy and understanding between quite a few groups of people. It’s made me aware of how others form relationships in cyberspace, in a manner that has never really clicked before. For that I have a YouTuber to thank, linked by a mutual Twitter person on the back of the massive row over a video game being launched as a mobile game. I don’t normally allow my lives to overlap, but in this case it’s a pretty significant revelation, that rolls over into everyday existence.

This is a concept that I grasped a couple of years ago, shortly before realising that the future was not attempting to become something that I was never happily going to be. It is particularly difficult to be critical of an organisation when your friends love it so much that they went to work for them, but in the last week it has been hard not to feel a sense of disappointment. It most definitely isn’t my friends who’ve made me feel like that: all of them are hardworking, dedicated and singularly driven individuals. It is the company they work for who should be criticised, because as this entire debacle has moved on, nobody involved in PR and senior management has covered themselves or the brand in glory.

It really came home for me when I made a joke about the new Samsung phone, which folds out to become a small tablet: could this be a good thing to play Diablo on? When you laugh at the expense of other’s reprehensible behaviour, you become no better than they are. Then there has to be pause, and reconsideration of what matters. In Blizzard’s latest earning’s call, it was made abundantly apparent every Blizzard IP will have a mobile game in the future, and that microtransactions will feature. There’s no hiding the fact that what matters isn’t gaming as a lifestyle choice, but as a continuous means to make money,  from Blizzard’s gaming ‘family.’

Mobile gaming allows that earnings generation to be opened up to a wider demographic.

The quote from senior management in TB’s video is horribly telling, and uses language that makes me cringe: of course, most people don’t care, aren’t interested or (as I’ve discovered this week) are more likely to start muting or blocking people who continue to rant and rave about these events than take time to look at the bigger implications. For me, actually… this is funny. Not roll about on the floor amusing, but ironic and perhaps inevitable in it’s stupidity. I know many gamers who can’t laugh about themselves when a mirror is held up to their quirks and foibles. Far too many people take themselves too seriously, and that’s where I’m now drawing a line.

This is not life and death. This is not saving the planet or improving other people’s existences. It is a bunch of blinkered individuals who are obsessed with what they want from their time on this planet, which matters more long term than any real social enrichment. However, if this highlights the fact that Blizzard is not a person then the whole thing will be worth the trauma, because maybe that will allow other people an opportunity to take a step back from obsessive behaviour and see the World for what it really is.

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I’ve got a lot to think about going forward, especially in reference to how I deal with those people for whom such principles effectively overtake everything else, including common sense and reason. Personally, the last seven days have proven that whether I like it or not, some people just can’t grasp appropriate reactions to certain situations. Maybe they’ve never been taught, or perhaps they are so entitled they don’t see the problem. It’s not funny any more, it is sad and ultimately enough for me to walk away from people who, in some cases, I held real respect for.

If these people were as a tenth as passionate about saving the Planet or changing social injustice as they are about a bunch of pixels, think what might actually get done.

The Race

Last night, there was a minor epiphany over my gaming lifestyle. In the past year or two I’ve bought a handful of games, none of which have been played with any seriousness, or indeed at all. The reason, of course, is simple; not enough time to do the things that really matter, and still fit in the writing, because most of the titles picked are not easily put up or downable. They take hours to get right and master, and then to retain relevance require you to keep playing. In effect, they consume existence.

It took a blast from the past to remind me of what matters most for gaming as relaxation.

Although some of my friends would argue otherwise, doing modern gaming properly ends up as a job. Even casual playing requires an investment of time and attention that is often enough to drive the sane, rational minded individual away, because they grasp how important it is not to be lost in pixels at the expense of actual reality. I am looking for a part time, voluntary position when it comes to enjoyment right now, and as it transpires a bunch of old DOS games on Steam are probably the simplest solution, because I’m the one who decides what matters and not a group of my peers.

This way, nobody gets hurt.

If you wonder what I’ll be doing as relaxation across the Summer Break? It is time to rediscover the past without destroying the present.

The Winner Takes it All

Apathy is the single biggest problem on the Internet. 

It isn’t trolls, toxicity, or the corporate giants who decide they’re going to algorithm us all to extinction. We, the vast majority of ‘normal’ users, are the ones with the potential to ruin it for everybody, and we do. Most of the time you won’t even realise this is happening either, until someone turns up on your feed suggesting a course of action you disagree with. If you’ve already got a beef with their actions, that’s pretty much a guarantee that something is going to kick off.

Life is hard in the affluent Western World right now. There’s an almost daily assault of terror incidents, natural disasters and threats to national security. My country’s trying (and largely failing) to successfuly leave a fourty year relationship. The American people are being governed (between rounds of golf) by a white supremacist (allegedly.) In all of this, people continue to pin their affinity and loyalty to a dizzying array of virtual saviours, or pray at the altar of corporate churches with the the belief their brand loyalty maintains a safe and trusted output, however much money that might cost.

It is no surprise therefore that compassion fatigue is becoming recognisable in larger sets of online communities with each passing day. The main upshot of all this trauma is individuals becoming less and less willing to consider a contrary set of beliefs to their own, being more likely to fly off the handle with the slightest provocation, and feeling that as long as they don’t name names or continue to hide behind a virtual persona, they can get away with being toxic because nobody cares enough to call them out.

So, what happens when a safe and trusted organisation does just that, shaming the nasty people for what others say they are? Overwatch is big news right now, and the level of ‘toxic’ game play is never out of my Twitter feed, reported third hand by person after person. So, when a company (that has never really been that keen on labelling anyone who pays for their games as anything other than a customer) takes the bull by the horns and starts calling out the bad people (and encourages players to do the same) what could possibly go wrong? Why would anyone complain about a company taking steps to eliminate the toxic element in a game that’s clearly full of just that?

Here’s where I stop one train of thought and ask you to pick up a second.

For as long as I can remember, there’s always been a jocks vs nerds fight happening somewhere in my earshot. Whether it is disdain for ‘sportsball’ or esports being a ‘joke,’ the two groups seem to have nothing in common, and continue to be pitted against each other whenever possible. The fact that so many sports fans play games is neither here nor there: they come to the table with a natural advantage, which is often overlooked. It is only by understanding the psychology of team games, the importance of playing as part of a whole, that individuals really begin to understand the need for co-operation and empathy.

The basement nerd, used to playing alone, has a hard time grasping the mechanics of team sports. She’s not been taught how to play well with others, and immediately becomes a disruptive, confrontational force. This has one of two results: people either attempt to help her understand how to play, or they reject her as a disruptive element. Then, it doesn’t matter whether what she says about others’ game play is right or not, whether she’s prepared to do as she’s told becomes irrelevant. You choose to play by the rules of the game, or you don’t. If the latter is your path, and there are rules in place that dictate these actions are against the spirit of this game?

Like it or not, you lose.

Overwatch’s decision to call out bad game play assumes that the majority of players just want to participate in a specific way. I wish them luck in making this stick, but when you are fighting ‘players’ who don’t understand what it means to be part of a team, or why that matters, you’re likely on a hiding to nothing. The internet is full of individuals who believe that their opinion, attitude and outlook are all that matters, that teams need them far more than the other way around. The concepts of loyalty, empathy and belonging are simple flimsy constructs for most; no real ‘friends’ just those who believe in a particular set of ideas, to a point, who refuse to allow reality to damage their persona. This is not just a white male preserve either, before you start giving me that look. I know countless women who perpetuate the shock/bitch persona. White men don’t get to die on that hill alone, oh no.

So what has apathy got to do with all this, the more astute of you will now be asking? This week came a powerful, personal revelation: sitting at a screen, being unwilling to name names when you see someone do something you don’t like because that just causes drama is slowly destroying everybody’s lives. It’s the lump on your arm that might be more than just a mole, but you’re unwilling to get it looked at and diagnosed in case the consequences end up as cancerous as you can’t handle the consequences to begin with. At some point, if you want to be a real human being, there has to be an acknowledgement of what matters most. I’ve realised I’ve had enough of reading social media where individuals aren’t prepared to call others out when there’s been something they disagree with. If you don’t have the balls to put conviction to a claim, then shut the fuck up.

If you won’t, don’t expect people to keep listening.

In effect, I have implemented my own response to toxicity. Watching somebody else complain at others but not rock the boat too much themselves, when multiplied up thousands of times, becomes apathy that destroys communities. If there is a genuine beef with someone, then go talk to them. If, after you talk to them, all that they’ll offer as explanation to your issue is glib platitudes and ‘well, I can hardly be expected to read my feed the whole time’ then it should be apparent your relationship is not as important as it appears was the case, and everybody should really move on. If you’re playing an online games where there are teams of people and you flatly refuse to play by the rules set down by the majority? Expect to get royally owned by those who do, even if you feel you are the one in the right.

If you really want to succeed in the future: be the team player who understands that the rules only work to a point. Play games as just that, and don’t live them as if they mattered more than life itself. Most importantly of all, when someone upsets you online, don’t say a fucking thing about it to anyone, deal with the problem internally or away from social media, and just move on. The real winners don’t need to prove they’re right, they know in their hearts that they’re doing the right thing, and everything else is irrelevant.

In a world where nerds have become their own enemies, the only way to win is not to play.

Even Better than the Real Thing

Occasionally something leaps out at me from my conversations with Twitter with the capacity to change thinking completely. Last night, @_thunderspank linked a trailer for the new PS4 game Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, making extensive use of the Unreal 4 ‘engine’ which, for those of you who don’t do gaming, is a software framework in which it is possible to capture and create completely believable virtual versions of reality. This is a system used both by commercial companies and the military to run simulation tech. With the help of a combination of other specialist organisations, motion capture has finally become possible with the minimum of inconvenience to an actor. Sure, there’s a phenomenal amount of work to get to the stage where an individual can manipulate their virtual avatar, but the results… well, they’re amazing.

Viewing this trailer last night it was only at a minute in that I realised I wasn’t watching a real actress.

Things have come a long way from the early days of pixelated avatars: one only needs to look at Mario in his current incarnation to realise the differences and improvements that have been wrought by better processor power and higher resolutions. However, the consequences of this ‘format’ wielded by a true independent member of the game world could allow the door to open for more organic developments of the technology, possibly along unexpected lines. Certainly the game that allows you to play as yourself cannot be too far off, and with the current obsession with image that many people possess and flaunt on a daily basis online, the consequences of going down that path are enough to make me feel distinctly uncomfortable.

However, I suspect the porn industry will be looking at this tech very closely indeed, because with the ability to create hyper realistic humans that can be controlled in real time? The future has to be VR Sex without a single Robot Woman in sight.

This is one of those moments where gaming is at a crossroads: a large proportion of the industry appears obsessed with esports and monetising the planet to exploit that, whilst others have a more theatrical and artistic vision of the future. I know which version I’d like to ascribe to, especially as the former appear to have only passing interest in diversity or anyone over the age of 30. Once someone has the common sense to float a ‘Senior’s esports league, or actively encourages women to take part? Then I’ll listen. For now, the future for me will be gaming where I’m the one who dictates the action. This then raises the question of whether I’d even want an adventure where I was able to be myself.

In retrospect, I don’t find any enjoyment in simulations of reality. What really drives interest and longevity for me is the ability to be someone else, or something… in fact, anything EXCEPT what I am. Virtual reality will require an investment from the user in the exact same way any normal game would hope for. The longer you are prepared to invest in a virtual world, the more likely you are not only to succeed within it but get an equal amount of enjoyment in return. Hyper-realism is great, to a point. Like most concepts, it will very much rely on the quality of material provided by developers in order to produce an engaging product.

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My favoured escape is about to launch its latest round of online content next week. One upon a time this would be enough to have me excited, but now there is simply a quiet acceptance of time passing, and the ideals I signed up for effectively becoming insignificant. As long as I remain able to enjoy myself, I’ll keep playing. As to what will drive people to play and spend money in the future?

I can pretty much guarantee I won’t be the target audience.

Ful Stop

I see I’m going to have to explain this to a few people. That’s fine, it is no big deal. I’ve not really discussed the details of my illness with you so, tell you what, let’s do that now. 

Anxiety is a big deal around these parts.

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Being ‘not good enough’ is something I’ve carried about, in one form or another, since my teens. Taking the easy route, for a long time, was just how life happened. Only when I met my husband did life start being about better than that, but it is only in the last decade that I’ve really understood what the paralysis of fear and inability has wrought on my life. The whole exercise path has opened up an entirely new world for me to explore, but yesterday I was back in my teens. My PT suggested a series of repetitions using gym equipment, that she thought I was capable of doing, but my brain said no. In the end I was in tears, after 20 minutes of fighting both mind and body simultaneously. I couldn’t do what was asked, even though my body was more than capable of the task.

Sometimes, I am my own worst enemy.

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When you live so much in your own head, reality gets skewed. Because it is safer not to open your heart in case you get hurt, or simply hide yourself away because you feel people will not understand, there is potential for trouble. Inside your mind there is no failure or fault, and nobody will laugh at you if it all goes wrong. The problem with all of this internalising however is that when reality does happen, it can be difficult to live in both places simultaneously. The last few weeks on social media, with the terror of US Elections looming plus UK issues over Brexit and an increase in fascism as a concern… well, there’s a lot of people both unintentionally internalising and and quite deliberately externalising, all over my social media. This is, for many people, what they perceive as a ‘safe space’ for such things, but more importantly an opportunity for opinions to be heard, often by individuals who might have an influence on change.

It only occurred to me recently that I might be one of those people to others.

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The problem I have is believing my own hype. I am well aware that as a result of things I have both written and said, things have changed in the World around me. However, this does not make me an Influencer in my own mind, that ‘label’ is somebody else’s to stick. I just sit here and write shit and occasionally, I hit a target. I don’t think there has been anything I really wanted to change that ever did, either, and that’s the point that gets lost in amongst all the hand wringing and navel gazing. I’ve never been able to make someone like my stuff, and it was never the intention for anyone to hate me. Those are the only two things that matter, in the end, and when it matters most you will not be capable of altering the world to the way you’d like it to be. I wanted a Remain vote but got Leave. Bond’s never going to be a woman. The stuff that matters to me is so intractable, it’s just easier to live in my head for those things and not stress at all.

However, when I’m trying to be happy both inside and out and people won’t let that happen?

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Yes, sometimes it’s an effort to be happy. Fucking hell, people, anything worthwhile takes at least SOME notion of application. I can’t just eat chocolate and become a size 10. You don’t get good at gaming overnight. Maybe, if you grasp this, then understanding why making an effort to be positive is so fucking important, but NOPE that’s no on some people’s agenda. You’re only happy when it rains, when things are complicated and you’re stuck somewhere back in the mid 1990’s in your teens where everything was just so much easier. Well, newsflash Bucko, I did that midlife crisis and it fucking STANK so if you could just shut up and go away… and here’s the thing. Social media is two ways. Otherwise they’d call it ‘listening in an echo chamber’ media and nobody would have the Internet to begin with. All those brilliantly helpful people with their open arms and open hearts who are willing me to greatness don’t need to be told this shit. YOU DO.

It isn’t about ignoring you either (though I’ll be honest, some of that has gone on when it becomes apparent that arguing is pointless.) You can only balance when there’s two sides to your scale, or if you have impeccable gravitational awareness, and lots of you can’t even turn on your brain before pressing Tweet, so no chance there. In these cases, I don’t say anything, yet compose Tweet after Tweet in that wee window before deleting every word, over and over again. Part of me wants to tell you how to be better, to put the record straight, to direct your misplaced perceptive reasoning to important shit like cats or memes. Then I stop, and breathe, and know that maybe the reason you did it is that you want just this, me to respond, in one of those ‘notice me Senpai’ moments. Then I remember that the good people don’t need any validation at all. They don’t check Twitter until they’re awake, if at all. Those are the people I need to emulate, and this month I am determined to do just that.

Moan all you like. I just made a choice to stop listening.

Voodoo People

Today, I live streamed a video game to Facebook. As this is a sentence I never thought I would ever type in my adult lifetime, it probably deserves some explanation.

My PC is not old, but it’s hardly bleeding edge technology. It also refuses point blank to play with Windows 10, which I suspect may have something to do with the rather Heath Robinson manner of its construction. I’ve tried and failed on so many occasions to get Twitch to operate with it, and recording to video and editing is a process that I have neither time or patience to entertain. When Facebook Live was announced to work with World of Warcraft, I determined this was probably my best bet for giving streaming a try, because it did not involve real money to upgrade anything or any more technical knowledge than simply a few clicks of a mouse. However, the main reason I’m using a platform I detest is that, like it or not, I can ultimately control EXACTLY who watches, and that’s not possible anywhere else on the Internet.

This is my project, and my rules.
 

 
It’s not an attempt to be popular or special, or become an Internet celebrity (at peak, EIGHT PEOPLE WATCHED ME) it is just a way to chat for an hour a week to people and add content to my arsenal. It works well in lieu of Podcasting. It allows people to see how I play in game and what matters to me. Mostly, I can fuck about and enjoy myself and record this to become a history of what I’ve done. If it works with this platform I can use Facebook Live to do video diaries for other stuff. In the end, it shows willing to give a bit more of myself than I have before.

Mostly, it is rather enjoyable.

If I keep getting people interested? I’ll keep doing it.