Venting a bit

Hey, I’m gonna vent a bit. Ok? Ok. Slap me with a fish if it’s not ok.

So I played two Twine games that… whew. I didn’t play them through, I quit quite early on. I didn’t like the attitude, I didn’t like the way they were going on.

(sidenote: these days I’ll stick with any game that I like the attitude of, the atmosphere. If it looks like the devs really had fun making the game, and put in little touches for our enjoyment, I’m way more likely to play a game through, even if the game occasionally pisses me off)

And this attitude seems representative of some things intruding into gaming and IF, and well, you know what, here they are, without further ado.

There’s a Twine game called “Queer Romance and Gaming”;

Listen up folks, this isn’t going to be some kind of love story where I talk to you about how perfect and peaceful my love life is.

No way.

In my dream.

Nope, we’re going to talk about why I’m so angry at media, specifically gamer culture, because I’m an avid player of such games as Call of Duty (pick one, I’ve played them all) and… actually that’s about it. BUT I’ve watched a lot of other people video games on the YouTube’s and

My point is, as I play these games, I don’t really see myself in the game, kicking all kinds of ass and shooting everything in sight.

Sure, my avatar is there, but last time I checked, I wasn’t a white guy with huge muscles and oozing masculinity from every fiber of my being.

Do you want to listen to me rant on for a while or accept that there’s very little variation in race, gender and sexuality and start your own rant?

Erm… this person only plays Call of Duty, has seen other games played on YouTube, and is complaining that they don’t see themselves in the game… and are rallying against media and gamer culture?

Instead of, you know, playing the games which actually do exist and are a bit more conscientious? This person plays Call of Duty, takes that to mean media culture, and rants about that?

I mean, is this the sort of people that keep ranting on about how video games are racist and sexist and what have you? People who can’t be bothered to look for alternatives?

The other thing is in a game called “Resistance Digitized”. It starts off talking about porn and how it’s really a universal language, and then hits you with the line “I mean I encounter problems because I’m trans (I wasn’t always hey I’m Maria and yeah I’m trans so deal with it)”.

…I’m trans so deal with it?

I’m already being slapped before I had a chance to say anything? Someone comes up to you and goes “I’m trans, so deal with it”, this is supposed to be normal? What’s my reaction supposed to be? Should I start telling people that I’m cis white and they should deal with it? (actually, sometimes that’s enticing) Should I tell people that I’m a nerd and they should deal with it? I avoid lactose and gluten, should I tell people they should deal with it?

So, I just wanted to vent about that. Both examples seem to be a case of pent-up aggression directed at pretty much the wrong people - the people who are actually your audience. I can understand what causes that aggression, especially in the second case, but surely they can also understand that I’m less likely to be responsive - or even interested in what they have to say at all - if the hostility’s just pouring out from the very beginning.

And this is a general thing, too. What vaporware encountered in Euphoria the other day…

…by the way, I checked it out and trust me that vaporware posted the nice, edited version; he was met with absolute vitriol, for no discernible reason, I took a log of it because it was so bad that I felt I had to be reminded, once in a while, that sometimes people will just hate instead of reasoning…

…is an example of this.


…except that’s too long to cry out, and I get hoarse, so I don’t.


Well…I can’t blame you. This sort of thing feels like listening to someone complaining at work about this or that, and well, you have to admit they have a point? And if you don’t, you’re a bad person and don’t care?

I agree it’s a big problem that works like this seem to say “You’d better agree, right? And even if you do, you don’t agree enough, and you can’t really feel it.” And it feels as bad as disagreeing with someone I think is obviously wrong.

I’ve been around people like that, and quite bluntly it’s the sort of thing I play games to get away from. And if people call this a work of art, well, I think it feels more like someone on the bus cornering you with their problems while you are trying to read a book and if you say please back off, they say, you have to admit, my initial approach is certainly compelling!

I forget where I read it, but I loved the phrase “oppression olympics.” Let’s not compete in them. I also forget who said it, but I think it was a GamerGater: “As a teen, I got picked on for maybe being gay. Now, I’m picked on for not automatically supporting the latest gender issues. That’s not fair.”

Now, there are bigger issues than that, but it’s a real and valid concern. And it’s one that’s important to deal with expediently. I’ve certainly felt squeezed that way, and efforts like the above don’t help.

But the very best works are those that put out a problem and try to deal with things with humor or logic or both. And I try to hit that.

And it’s difficult not to complain. Sometimes we need to. But when it feels like the default, or it’s something that results from sitting and thinking and polishing, it’s a problem. And when we complain too much, it loses its punch.

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That’s interesting, and reminds me of something else.

If anyone here hasn’t played Bloom yet, I recommend it - I don’t know whether it’s finished yet. Like cis gaze, Bloom takes exactly the right approach - it draws you in, rather than punching you in. It’s hardly a spoiler to say that it involves a person’s realisation that they’ve been living with the wrong gender their whole lifel Something very interesting happens to the PC at one point:

[spoiler]She (the PC) has a friend, who is intensely feminist. You’d think she (the friend) would be happy that the PC has found herself as a woman, right?

Wrong. Oh so wrong. The feminist friend is so caught up in her struggle that to accept a man into her gender is the ultimate transgression.[/spoiler]

I found this fascinating enough to stop and think about it for long enough for me to understand what was going on in that NPCs mind, and of course it made perfect sense from her perspective, but it ties into what you were saying.

Well, you provided a real world example, and I provided a couple of fictitious characters, so your example’s better. :slight_smile: (not that this is a good thing to compete in, I don’t think!) But you reminded me of this, and it looked like a good time to plug Bloom, a game which may not be for everyone (depending on how saturated you are of the whole thing) but which I can recommend. Well written, well paced, and like Cis Gaze it made me think.

I dunno, I think making me think is a helluva lot better than making me flinch. More productive, y’know?

I go even further. I realized I’m rare in a game letting me have my space to miss things, and sometimes I felt Cis Gaze breathed down my neck a bit. But I realize I need a lot more space than most people.

And while I have strong opinions, I think the potentially fluffy “attract more people with honey than vinegar” thing works & it’s tough to do that.

So I think of it as letting you think/giving you something to think about >> making you think. Because “making you think” can often lead to what to think about and how.

Now, my games are guilty of making people think but I hope they’re up front about what sort of thinking. And if anyone is traumatized by a logic puzzle, I can only do so much for them. But it is nice to give the player/reader something to do along the way so they can see the depth even if they ultimately don’t appreciate it.

The examples you gave don’t seem like they would have bothered me in that way, but In general I do tend to be put off by abrasive rhetoric, regardless of whether I agree with the views being expressed. It’s like, “It’s hard to hear your argument over your apparent contempt for fellow human beings.”

Though I would guess that, with the games you mentioned, trying to win people over may not necessarily be their goal. (I haven’t played them.)

While I’m not in favor of vitriol, I also don’t find it difficult to see how vaporware’s comment about gender could have been taken as provocative. (I say “could be taken” because I don’t know how he intended it to come across.) When people are passionate or deeply concerned about an issue and you say something that looks like you’re mocking that concern (and thus, them for caring about it), it’s not exactly an olive branch. I can understand and agree with the general goal of treating people fairly and in a way that respects their humanity, even if I don’t always agree with people’s strategies for achieving it. Sometimes in heated arguments I think that distinction gets lost, and “I think you’re going about this the wrong way” can come across as “I don’t care about respecting people as human beings.”

That said, I’m also tired of the tendency I’ve seen in various conversations to interpret people’s comments in the worst possible light instead of giving them the benefit of the doubt.

Even so, the response was amazingly inadequate to the perceived offense.

[WesLesley] HEY GUYS don’t start ahead of schedule I’m still working on my surprise for you guys!
[WesLesley] ladies, same goes for you.
[Ade] what’s the surprise?
[WesLesley] its a surprise
[Lorenzo] And those who don’t fit cleanly in the gender binary :stuck_out_tongue:
[vaporware] I can’t believe you left out those of us who exist in a quantum superposition of binary and nonbinary. So offended right now.
[Sequitur] Please don’t.
[furkle] yeah, not to be a dick, but do i recall correctly that you were the one who told porpentine last year that the opposition to her game obviously, self-evidently had nothing to do with her transfemininity? either way, if this chat is going to be a “let’s slam-dunk on queer people,” i’ll bow out
[Sequitur] Anyone who decides to slam-dunk on trans people will be forcibly bowed out.

I mean… WOW that escalated quickly. I certainly feel the passion. But I also feel a knee-jerk reaction which is, frankly, all about hate, and those are supposed to be the good guys?

Later on someone actually says “furkle, just ignore vaporware. I do.”

…I’m like, what the hell?! It’s Vaporware! He’s behind Guncho and ZILF (and ZLR, which is sort of like Git for the ZMachine, I think). He wrote FyreVM, on which stood Textfyre when they were still active. He was actively involved in Inform 7 (according to the IFWiki). This isn’t a random guy coming in to cause trouble, this is one of the people who belong here!

…so yeah. They’re passionate about that, and I’m passionate about this. That’s why I came here to vent, rather than elsewhere. :smile:

A good point, and absolutely it isn’t their goal. Those are rants rather than games, and they’re impassioned, and they’re worth reading for that reason alone. Funny thing, if I wasn’t saturated with the whole thing I probably wouldn’t have felt this way about either of those two examples; I would have welcomed them, just to see other points of view. “I’m trans so deal with it” is a phrase loaded with history, with stress, with hurt, with defensiveness, and if I weren’t so raw from so much passion flying everywhere (including, I should say, actual misogynists and other hatemongers) I’d probably find it an interesting read.

I can’t anymore, because I’m no longer distanced from the whole thing. It’s shit that got into our back yard.

And I’m still trying to figure out why, because I don’t recall the back yard ever having had any sort of this shit. It’s like there was a shitstorm outside, so the people indoors got so panicky that when someone indoors forgot to flush they thought it was the outside shit invading their home. And so the shit-flingers won.

…huh. Quite a… colourful… analogy.

EDIT - BTW, FWIW, after the vaporware exchange there’s something else that’s very interesting, where another user just goes “i’m -this- close to just calling people “sentients” so I don’t get “male/female/cactus/other” anymore.” This user proceeds to spiral into a monologue that’s rather uncomfortable because they feel really claustrophobic about this sort of thing, and it starts getting a bit personal. The response to that monologue also completely fails to understand how deeply this person was affected at this time.

So, the need to theoretically protect people from the jokes of vaporware (theoretically because no one actually said “You offend me”; they said “Shut up, you’re going to offend people”) actively wounded another person. But you don’t see anyone talking about that

EDIT 2 - In a response to the monologue I mention above, there is a little gem: “[furkle] not at all, just wanted to make sure it wasn’t going to turn hostile around here. thanks for being understanding!”. Considering where the hostilities start, that’s rather precious.

To be clear, mostly I was reacting to your phrase “for no discernible reason,” which took me by surprise…I’m not trying to make any claims about the proportionality of the response to the comment.

Oh. Ok. I missed that. :smile:

I guess, thinking about it, that there’s a discernible reason… not one that I’d call reasonable but, as you say, something that some people, if they were passionate enough and concerned enough and believing they could avoid what they perceived to be incoming offense… I suppose that person could find a discernible reason in vaporware’s statement.

(but I had to think about it, in light of your comment. In context, and as a segue for the “gender binary” line immediately preceding it, I still see no discernible reason. I had to work a bit to see that other people might discern such a reason! That’s probably a reflection on me. Huh)

I’ll mention a big pet peeve … respecting other people’s passion. The problem is that, well, I have my own passions but am not as demonstrative about it, and there is a line between being oneself and letting it all out and kind of trying to get in someone’s face. I see it more as “something I’m willing to spend time on, even if it doesn’t give me great advancement” but I think the connotation is more “something people love to yell about.”

And I think certain games and types of games have more rapidly diminishing returns to scale than others. This doesn’t make them morally wrong, but at the same time, if they push our boundaries too much, we can and should feel secure saying, I need a break from this.

I was recently reading Brene Brown’s (she has a very popular TedTalk) latest book Rising Strong. It discusses boundaries and how we need to set them, even with people we like. This has helped me in non-gaming contexts, but also, I think games like the above that want to take risks–well, we should feel free to say, these risks failed with us. We should not just feel free to say that to ourselves and move on but also realize we have a duty to ourselves to do so.

I also find that a passage from a book review of Philip Larkin helps me not get driven up the wall…

Now one must clear one’s mind of cant and admit, firstly, that everyone is free to live as he likes as far as society will let him; secondly, that other people besides Angel Dan Davies enjoy poetry, jazz and sex; and thirdly that, appalling as it would be to have Itchy Dave Gelden coming in one’s door ‘fidgeting and scratching his crotch’ (‘Hi, what’s cookin’? Are we gonna blow some poetry, maybe?’), he would probably be no worse than a guardee subaltern talking about Buck House, or your father-in-law telling you how his new golf clubs cost more but aren’t as good as his old ones.

Sounds intriguing. Boundaries are so important. You (the general you) want to be kind to people…but being kind isn’t the same as agreeing with people about everything and always doing what they want. It’s not your job to be the caretaker of someone else’s emotions (which isn’t to say that you should be a jerk, of course), and you have to be free to have opinions and disagree about things, or it’s really not a very healthy situation.

Balance is incredibly difficult–and I think her books go beyond saying “Well, you know, balance is important.”

Her lecture is on shame and I think it’s a very good one, because we use shame and are used by shame and don’t know it. And I think some of the works that bother us do try to shame the reader, or force the writer’s shame on the reader, and I think people are right to want to distance themselves from that, even if they don’t know why. We need friends like that to help us deal with things personally, but all the same, I don’t think shame etc need to be front and center, and being around too much of it makes me feel like I’ve been forced into a jalapeno eating contest or something.

My takeout from after reading that book, and the sort of work Peter describes, is that in a story that shames the narrator or other people, critics (imaginary or real) can say “you should be ashamed if you don’t understand it…” thus keeping the chain going. And establishing boundaries and saying, no more of this, means–we can break that cycle, and that’s important.

Thanks, that’s a good read. The transcript, I mean.

There has been a lot of that towards Jesse lately and I know I’m getting really sick of it.

Thanks for the support, guys. :smile:

Honestly… the way it was taken was not entirely off the mark.

I was wondering if that chat room was the kind of place where participants would have to avoid using expressions like “ladies and gentlemen” or else get dogpiled by blowhards pointing out that “actually, some of us are neither ladies nor gentlemen”, and I got an answer: yes, it is.

[Edit: See this comment for a more detailed response.]

Well, maybe. But I can see how a couple of people who weren’t part of the community two years ago, and who since then have mostly been known for working with Twine and Undum, might not care about any of that.

Thank you very, very, very much, AndrewS; if nothing else, something extremely positive came out of this. That transcript might just be exactly the sort of thing I needed exactly at this point of my life, especially the bit about being afraid to fail, and shame. At the 11:50, it starts being… well, let’s just say it starts being personally relevant, and has given me some stuff to mull over.

I tend to play games for fun or entertainment value or because I find the subject matter
really interesting, so when I come across a game like the ones you’re describing
here – which aren’t really games as such, just thinly-disguised rants against
one thing or another dressed up as games – I avoid them like the plague.

This sort of game doesn’t interest me in the slightest. I’m not interested in playing something
which is basically the author throwing a temper tantrum. People are entitled to
their opinions but that doesn’t mean anyone wants to listen to them.

As for that transcript PeterPiers linked above… that’s just unbelievable. Vaporware makes a
harmless jokey comment and people immediately jump on him for it. I can’t
really believe they’re so stupid that they genuinely think he meant any offence
by it, but at the same time it seems obvious they’re stupid enough to kick up a
fuss over nothing. Is this the way the main IF community is going these days? A
bunch of bleeding hearts just looking for an excuse to bash someone?

Ah! I’m not the only one who just reads the transcripts when I’m a bit busy.

I have to admit, I’ve felt half ashamed to recommend this to others (see what I did there?) But seriously, it’s a tough subject to approach. If you’re not very ashamed, well, you can deal with it, right? And if you are, well, you probably have other things to deal with first.

I know one big thing for me is I said “I’m not as ashamed of my beliefs/etc as I used to be and that’s good enough.” But people can and should ask for more. It just requires more (mental) work.

Well, I think a problem with any criticism is that if it isn’t checked, it does just try for right or wrong, or it looks for an excuse to bash someone. I may’ve alluded to an author in the IFComp 2015 forum who saw my game as an attack on the RAIF community I was never aware of -as well as- choice-based/Twine games. It was impressive in its own way, and the thing is, that sort of thing has a “they wouldn’t say it if it wasn’t true” vibe to it. But I’ve always had that pause for writing my stuff, above and beyond “does this make sense? Would it be fun” and it’s hard to ignore.

And critics will always be louder than people who just liked stuff, which kind of sucks. And I think it gets in the way of creativity by being too clever for its own good and also sucking other people’s attention and efforts away from creativity. Games with more social implications will get more attention because they are more critique-able. But sometimes I want a game I can just stand back and enjoy.

Social commentary is important, but when I’m playing a game or whatever, I’m explicitly looking for a break. And I’m not going to feel guilty about that any more. I don’t think anyone should.

Were you… erm… ashamed of that? (hehehe)

Hey! You’re not even TRYING to stop the vicious cycle! You ought to feel…

…oops, heh heh heh.

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sure, most twine and choice of games aren’t about gaming, just about “empowerment”. That’s why they kick out who doesn’t share their propaganda from places they control.

that’s also why most such “games” have no puzzles nor any interaction more meaningful than “next paragraph” or “let me choose my sex and who I’m sleepin with”

I’ll stick with classic parser IF and real games, thank you zynester indies…