Better Living Through Chemistry

Let us begin this week correctly.

This has been an earworm since my husband left hospital, so putting it here (hopefully) might finally release the pain of repetition, though I doubt it. There is a phenomenal amount of Real Life Gubbins to achieve today, and I have the uncomfortable feeling my PC hard drive is close to failure. As a result, this morning will also be spent ensuring I have a backup of everything important somewhere else.

After that? New calendars on the wall, new goals to achieve. A major collection from last year gets a re-write. I’m going to start a new one. There’s a plan for NaNoWriMo that this year I may actually be able to stick to along with everything else, if the planning will support it. That’s the key, in all of this. Proper organisation will win the day, it just has to start now and be executed thoroughly.

I think that means I’m gonna stop playing games again for a while.

fuckthis

I came back before the holiday to play Warcraft which I’d not touched since before Christmas. Now I’ll admit that the urge to log on every day is rapidly diminishing, mostly because of the effort required to get what I want. There are no quick fixes any more, of course you have to work, and that time is better used doing other stuff. The next iteration of the game will be announced next month, and then we’ll see where we are.

Until then, what matters more than online satisfaction is real life progress.

Walkaway

I am one of many adults who enjoy PokemonGo as a mobile game. It served a useful purpose as coping strategy and relaxation up until I started having mental issues back in January, and the cessation of playtime roughly coincided with my acceptance of needing help and the subsequent counselling. That means I’m now back in the saddle: yes I spent 10 quid to update my wardrobe and buy some useful items.

Assuming that the release of the Harry Potter game will have altered this game world a bit, there are now far more Gyms and Pokestops in this area than was previously the case. It will hopefully make my task of catching up that bit easier, especially as I can legitimately combine step counts with research. I’ve become very good at grinding video game progression over the years. This is no different.

prdfudg

Doing things that make me happy is a GOOD THING. That’s a part of my equation that has been missing for a while. When you’ve gamed for forty years plus, knowing that you’re most content when it’s doing summat like this is an important acknowledgement. There is no shame or fear in being the person who plays games to relax. So, if you’ll excuse me, I have some eggs to hatch… :D

Civilisation

I wrote a list yesterday, of things that had to be done before there was permission to slack, and by 4pm, it was done. No, it wasn’t EVERYTHING, and last night I didn’t do two things that were on the list but which I never got to. Instead, it was a much loved game that got played, though through half a dozen restarts I could not generate a map that was decent enough to save and keep. Last night was learning the ins and outs of a title I’ve owned since launch but never really got to grips with. All that’s now staring to change.

I’m a painfully slow learner.

Sid Meier's Civilization  Beyond Earth Screenshot 2019.01.14 - 13.29.23.80.png

I’ll be writing more about this on my gaming blog, once the current deadline piece is sorted, but the backlog of titles I possess is significant and needs addressing. There’s also a ton of ‘classic’ games that deserve my time and effort, but relaxation is often shoved to the bottom of the To Do list. Last night, what was needed was time to just faff about, in between sorting out washing and doing chores. Once upon a time, Warcraft would have been the backdrop. Now, building my own civilisation is far more attractive.

Yes, I am moving forward.

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?

boosh

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.

explodingcornflakes

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.