This was my Grandmother’s birthday.
One of the things patriarchy teaches men is that they own, in a way, what they look at. It also teaches non-men that that they are, in part, owned by being looked at.
Simple little lesson. Simple little idea. Advertising to men often just shows them things and the natural intuition is that they’re entitled to it. Women are shown things with an explanation for what’s wrong with them and why they need to get them.
This idea is part of why there’s not really a structural comparison between the male gaze and female gaze. The thing is, The Male Gaze is the default structure, an observable trend that comes about not because a bunch of dudes looked at a textbook for Male Gaziness, but because men, given control and means to, did things, and afterwards, people observing that work were able to find a really clear, consistant pattern.
It was a byproduct of giving guiding control of a medium to mostly a single gender for generations. And it grew in part out of that same starting mindset: The idea that you were entitled to the things you looked at.
In the Bible there’s this passage:
27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
This passage has been used heavily to talk about the dangers of lust as an action. It’s one of the times the Bible weighs in about whether sins are things you do to people or objects, or if they can happen in your mind. Which, well, the Bible is pretty clear, yes, they can. If you think it, you did it, and adultery isn’t just about bodies and grinding, it’s also about the mere capacity to want it.
Which makes a kind of sense, if looking at something is an action of power.
It makes sense if you own the things you look at.
Okay, that’s CanCon over!
The short story is we went to Cancon this weekend, and there, we sold games and bookmarks and postcards and other neat things and we stayed in a nice dorm with our friend, and we all had a Pretty Good Weekend and came home. We ate some pizza, we played some games, we talked to people and we had a bunch of fun. Then we came home.
Let’s talk about love for a moment.
Content warning; I’m going to mention some bad people, bad actions and some church stuff.
Okay so here’s the sequence of events. This is a story I shared on my CuriousCat a while back, but that site is kind of a pain in the butt to search through if you’re not directly checking. Consider this more archiving.
When I got onto the internet, I bounced around trying to find places to be, mostly Christian Network places and Christian IRC channels and Local Christian websites (augh). Eventually, I found through newsgroups, the alt.fan.eddings group dedicated to the fantasy novels of David Eddings. I had read some David Eddings because a friend in church had already vetted it and thought I might like it.
Anyway, in the Eddings fangroup, almost everyone, except gilmae, had handles based on the characters from the books, and when I arrived and hung out there, I didn’t have ‘a name’ yet. Also, this was back when you didn’t release your real name or real information on the internet, a thing I was … stunningly responsible about, now I think about it? Wow, hang on that’s weird. Anyway, point is, to fit in, the group discussed, in newsgroup posts, what my handle should be.
All they knew about me was that I was fourteen, and they… weren’t, and the only Eddings character who existed who was both male and young was ‘Talen,’ a thief who in the first books was like, ten, and in the second was fourteen. He was also often referred to as ‘Boy’ and they liked that. Anyway, so that’s where Talen came from, and it wasn’t usually taken anywhere on the internet, so I used it as I went around.
Eventually I hit on places where it was taken, particularly the Wizards of the Coast forums, where I needed something to add to the name to make it usable, but also where I really, really didn’t want to be that dickhole with numbers after his name, or something that would date it immediately like MewTwoCrusher (sorry MewTwoCrusher, I didn’t realise how long-term important Pokemon would be), and I wound up smacking on the surname ‘Mist.’ I’d like to say there was some story behind that but I really think it was just… kinda cool. I want to say this relates to a period in an #animorphs channel on the Chee Database, but I’m not sure and it may relate to a grand project to re-fanfic the entirety of Final Fantasy 6 (yes really).
Anyway, fasterforward to another forum, another shakeup, and I’ve been dating this stack of hairy trolls named Fox Lee for about two years, and this time, rather than ‘Talen Mist’ I used ‘Talen Lee’ instead. She’d recently asked me to marry her (we wouldn’t for another few years), and I thought it was, because it was something that mattered to me, worth making into part of my identity, because… I’m a huge dork and I didn’t expect to ever break up with Fox, which okay, turns out to have been a safe bet.
Anyway, at that point I had ‘Talen Lee’ and it is mostly never taken anywhere. But even more interesting is that it flies under ‘real name detector’ because it’s just real enough. It is an Asian name, which I am occasionally selfconscious about?
So there you go. That’s your lot. My name is shaped by my past, in a way the name I was given never was.
If someone is using your preferences to attack you, then they’re just being an asshole. If they’re using media you like as a way to belittle and hurt people in general, they’re being an asshole. If they’re pursuing you to make you answer for something you like, they’re being an asshole. Continue reading
I normally sit down to write something for this blog after I’ve gotten my day’s PhD work done. Today, that work was almost entirely smothered under work for marking, because marking is important, and when I do try and write without some burning need already in place, I tend to survey three things:
- My incoming directory
- My twitter feed
- My bullet journal
Today, all three of those things are blank, because my day has gone away in a cloud of trying to mark a lot of students’ work in a timely, respectful fashion while still organising all the normal operations of the day like feeding and walking the dog. It’s been a rough one, and that means I haven’t actually done one of the things I’m finding I enjoy, and that’s readings.
One of the books I just finished reading is Jesper Juul’s the Art of Failure, which I’m sure I’ve mentioned elsewhere in the blog by this time. It’s a really neat book, pretty short and breezy and doesn’t require a lot of specialised knowledge. Juul is pretty good at that. You could probably knock it over in an afternoon if you weren’t taking notes on everything.
In it, Juul talks about the paradox of games. He suggests that games are things we fail at, usually, and we don’t seek out failure, but we do seek out games, despite the fact we’ll fail at them. By contrast, the students I’m dealing with are examining the design side of things with the principle of fail early, fail often.
I see the word ‘fail’ a lot.
Juul’s position is interesting, as I sit up late and muse on it, because it presents a very binary view not just of human experience, but of human consciousness. That is, that humans are a single perspective agent, which has singular motivations and good, clean judgment. Some parts of us don’t believe we’ll fail. Some parts of us want to fail, to get falsifiable information. Some parts of us want to fail because we’re curious. Some parts of us are constantly redefining failure as we play.
This isn’t really addressing Juul. It’s more musing on what the book doesn’t do.
And not doing something is not the same thing as failing.
Just like how today, I didn’t read any books for my PhD. That doesn’t mean I failed my PhD today. I hope.
You know how these things are kind of strands out of time? Because I write so far in advance, nothing I write is actually timely to my personal experience.
Anyway, I’ve been sick for the past three days. Three days ago, I was so sick I did nothing really all day. At night, I put out a draft, did a bit of a glance over of some of my research material. The next day as I recovered, I tried to do a bunch of contributions to my students’ work, and that was all I had in me. The next day, the Friday, I had to go do a presentation to a group of students, which I did, as best I could, and now I’m writing that now, which is now a month ago.
I didn’t get any other work done, not really. I didn’t do anything fascinating or clever. I didn’t hit my normal goal of 2 drafts or schedules a day. I didn’t record or edit podcasts or video, didn’t really generate anything on my current projects, like the Clout box, I didn’t work on my little ship game or the Pipesman conspiracy and I feel
so bad about that.
And right now as I write this, I am bundling up those feelings and just trying to throw them away. Because it’s okay to not be able to create. It’s okay to have times when the urge isn’t there, because you’re in too much pain, or your head is full of goop. It’s okay.
And I need to be okay with that.
I wrote this a few months ago. The day it goes up, today, I am recovering from another cold.
Damnit, this isn’t supposed to be timely.
I had a weird nightmare last night –
I say last night, based entirely on when I’m writing this. You know I load this blog ahead of time so it’s no secret that I’m not writing this literally right now. I actually really like the distance it gives me when I write about something emotionally entangling. With the knowledge I’ve written about it, I can talk about it dispassionately, but nobody I know is going to react to this text now when I’m raw about it, and nobody’s going to read my blog like tea-leaves trying to work out my mood or whether or not I’m okay.
Anyway, it was a really weird nightmare because all I can really remember is the end. I was at a revival church meeting with my parents. Big white tents, sunny day, and like, there were tubs of soda drinks, and bags of chips and lots of things that normally make me happy – indulgent things, the kind of free food nobody checks up on you about or tut-tuts about you having too much.
Then the organ started to play and everyone filed to sit down… and I realised I didn’t have any paper or pen.
And that was… strange. It was deeply strange to wake up, with the lurching feeling of horror from that. Every time I went to church I took notepaper along, ostensibly to ‘take notes’ but realistically speaking it was to draw things, write things, or just play in paper space while I listened. Really, the main discipline of church was being taught how to sit quietly and not cause a fuss – you don’t actually learn much. Sermons are often really basic, really bad demonstrations of ideas or points, they’re much more about setting a tone and a style, and part of that means they have to be boring because if they were fun or exciting or interesting or easy it’s not ‘serious’ enough.
To be caught without paper and pen means staring down this boring demonstration of information by someone who is interpreting a book and if you’ve read the book as well you know what they’re leaving out. It means you’re going to be bored and angry and you will be so for eleven billion hours.
Today, I was bustling my hump at Comic-Gong. This is a local fandom convention, and the first year that Fox and I felt, with our finances as they are, that we could get a pair of tables.
The day starts at nine and ends at four. It really starts at seven, and really, really, starts at midnight the night before when you have to start making cuts of what you get made. And then you get three hours of sleep because you push yourself all night to try and get things made.
It’s a rough night. It’s a rough night because when you’re the smallest of producers, when you’re not a proper business yet, and your entire stockpile is just a set of small card boxes, you’re left with this weird paranoia for everything. Should I stock this? what if it doesn’t move and I wasted the space? Should I not stock that? What if someone comes by and there’s exactly one person who really wants it? What if someone was holding out for this one thing?
There’s a chance that you were one of the people I spoke to today. In which case: Hi! I’m super glad you’ve taken some time checking this out. I make games, I talk about games, and I believe in your ability to make games.
I hope you enjoy what you find here!
You can check out the pages for our games at the main Invincible Ink website!
It’s my birthday today! This doesn’t mean much.
I worry about my age, a lot. I keep seeing people my age doing more and being more successful, because they started earlier, or they had better support growing up, and I know those years I lost to restarting my life were more deleritous than I want to think about.
I do however, think right now, in my life, I’m doing a lot of things I want to do for my sake. I’m enjoying what I do, and I’m doing it for people who value me. I am able to put up boundaries between myself and people I dislike and do not trust, and I am able to build those connections with people who matter to me. I have seen my sister more now in this past four months, I feel, than I had in the previous four years. I have spoken to my parents, I have confronted my emotional problems, and I am doing what I can to take care of myself.
This time last year I did a rundown of every game I’d made on my birthday. This year, this would be a woefully unwieldy list. Maybe the urge will seize me as this day grows nearer. Maybe I’ll get a bright idea. Or maybe I’ll just keep on going and enjoy myself as best I can with this day where I will be going to a classroom, talking to students, hearing them talk about games, caring about games, and watching them learn and uncover ideas of how humans interact with things, what they engage with, what matters to them, and how they can show me that through games.
That’s pretty cool.
The story of the city of Sodom is barely worth recapping, but in case you’ve never heard it, basically there was this place that God didn’t like that was basically named Doomedsville, and the only good people who lived there were shown in one incident how they were too good to live there, before God told them the town was hecked and they left. I’m glossing over some plot points, but it’s honestly not important, because what’s really remarkable about this story is what it’s about.
See, right now, if you ask people, it’s about the sexual immorality of the city, the way that the people of Sodom used to stick their hoo-hahs into butt-holes and that’s why it was a sign of what a problem things could be. That’s why God hates gay marriage.
Except those people, these days, are also opposed by people, equally certain of their familiarity with the religious texts of the now, who want to assert to you that, in fact, the sin of Sodom was their failure to show the messengers proper comfort: That the story of Sodom was a place that failed to respect people enough, and right, and therefore, God loves gay marriage.
This is not, in any way new.
Back during the 1930s, the city of Sodom was a story about a failure of the people to care for their travellers and interlopers, brought up as an example of people who weren’t in the proper spirit of Christian Charity. In the 1940s and 1920s, Sodom and Gomorrah were known to be about the vile practice of race-mixing. In the 1890s, Kelogg was certain that Sodom and Gomorrah were a story about the foulness of indulgent humanity who ate fancy food.
Now this is no secret to anyone familiar with Christian movements: Everything in the story is just a justification for today’s latest problem, and nobody wants to read any further than the destruction of the city for their metaphor.
The stories we tell, and how we tell them, shape our worldview. This isn’t ‘media programs you,’ not a satanic panic fear-of-the-demons-in-your-media, but something slower, more grinding, more insidious. There’s an acretion of the world around you as you pass over it, little bits of the everyday. Making everyone’s clothes show ads, we thought, would be about making sure you were always showing off the #brand. Turns out that it mostly just meant people saw ads on clothes as normal and not worth noticing any more.
It’s hard to turn that kind of ubiquity into money in a pragmatic one-on-one sense. It’s difficult to monetise a brand if the main job monetising it is to be everywhere all at once, you need a certain scale for that to have an impact. You need to be Pepsi, for example. What you can do with it, though, is reinforce an idea of what’s normal, and thousands of sources doing it all the time can do a lot to shape that idea of normal.
It’s Marketing Whiteness.
CW, gunna talk about slavery and fundamentalism and whiteness and dismiss the historicity of the Bible, which just gets some people up in a dander.
Five years ago, I spoke about myself very differently.
I have a complex relationship with monsters.
I had to try to remember to write this. I even noticed when I’d forgotten about the whole thing. I got off the bus, noticed the lights, ran to it, crossed the street and headed into the food court, where I thought, hang on, what was I thinking about? It took me a moment of concentration. Then out into the produce aisle at Aldi, I thought more about it and tried to remember what I was planning to write about – then remembered it. I had to work at it, I had to try.
I don’t remember what it was they chucked. I don’t remember your shirt, but I remember it had something written on it. I don’t remember if you had glasses or not. I’m writing this after trying to commit this moment to memory to write this piece. It’s going to go into a scheduler and it’ll get put up in maybe a week, maybe a month, depending on if anything bumps it, whatever. By the time this goes up, I will not remember you or your kid or the baby or any of it. It is a comforting amnesia, a thing that our brains do, pushing unpleasant things out of the way where we don’t need to deal with them.
I need to you to understand that: Because I need you to understand how I looked.
I know I looked uncomfortable. I know the screaming kid made me uncomfortable. I know that’s how I react to that sound. Your kid was screaming, and I mean screaming, I think, or maybe it wasn’t that bad, it’s hard to remember now, but the thing is, there was a screaming baby. Or small kid. Jeeze, this is hard to remember.
I know that sound makes me deeply uncomfortable. Me, I have a bad reaction to that screaming, and I know my problem solving for that tends towards aggression – I tend to shout at little kids or get mad at them when they behave badly, and I know there’s a part of my brain that thinks ‘hitting a kid will shut them up,’ and I don’t like struggling with that feeling. It’s just this little subroutine going on in my brain, over and over. Either way, I know I didn’t look happy. I know you and I made eye contact – that I sure remember.
And I remember feeling guilty, because I knew, in that moment, you almost certainly thought I was thinking you’re a bad parent, because that’s what I know people think and say and mutter to one another about people with screaming kids.
I just wanted to say : It was a fraction of my day. It was barely a moment. It didn’t matter. And I hate that I know this minor incident, this nothing event led to a person like you, doing a hard job and trying to decipher the behaviour of a small and loud bundle of person, thinking a person like me – multiple people like me – were mad at you. I don’t know about anyone else, but I knew in that moment that I was going to forget about this. That it was okay. That the screaming of a child wasn’t going to impose on my life for a long time, just annoy me for a minute.
I get it.
I wish it was easier on everyone, but it’s hard on me for a small amount of time.
Let’s mark out some clear, distinct, achievable goals.
- One completed game design a month.
- One t-shirt design a month.
- Daily blog posts, with weekly entries for:
- a Magic The Gathering article
- a Game Pile article
- a Story Pile article
- A video a month
That seems doable to me. What makes this complicated, though is that I’m also going to be doing a PhD. So… that might transform my workload. We’ll have to see.
So why do I bring this up? Well, first, laying it out like this is a good way to make sure I have a plan. I’ve found making something of what I do accountable is important. The other thing is, I’m going to spend January looking into launching a Patreon, which will be about:
- work-in-progress stuff on game designs
- group sales of games where if I can get 20~ people interested, I’ll send out bulk copies of games without postage
- voting and contributions directly on future game content
- raising money to hire artists!
There. That’s it. Stated. A plan.
I can’t necessarily weasel out of this easily. Weasily? We’ll see.
Here’s a one-part diary, one-part itinerary, one-part aspirational documentation of what I did this past year as best I can explain it and we’ll see how well we go as we go with it. This wrapup is at least in part to look at what I did, but also to try and get a handle on my own feeling of yawning lack of accomplishment. If you didn’t do a lot this year and you get overwhelmed by lists, please don’t read this because it might make you upset. On the other hand if you want a wrapup of the kind of things I do and try to do… well, hey, checkit out.
Yes, Christmas is passed, but that doesn’t mean we’re done with Decemberween. C’mon. Decemberween is a spirit, Decemberween lasts all the way to July.
Also, one thing this exercise has shown me is how few people I like and respect keep good online portfolios or presences. How many of us treat our twitter page like it’s our dang home page? That’s weird. Anyway, SAV FERGUSON!
Sav is a game developer, writer, radio presenter, and – albeit I believe amateurly – philosopher, who I met I think three times before finally, at GaymerX AUS 2017, we finally had a moment where I could finally remember who the hell I was talking to, because my memory is garbage.
A few weeks later, a Event in Games happened, and it hit close to my knuckles – and I angrily spat about how the people talking about it had no idea about the experience, because it was something I lived, and nobody I knew was talking about it from that perspective…
And Sav popped up and said ‘yeah, I know what I’m talking about.’
And then we talked about it and dissected the discourse going on around us.
Now I want you to understand how hard that particular exchange is for guys. Because I had just effectively challenged him – heck to you, you don’t know what you’re talking about – and he very legitimately shot back, saying that actually yes I hecking do. We could have just clashed against each other and stopped – but Sav’s more mature than that, and we were able to find our common ground and talk about a deeply troubling thing. I was impressed, genuinely so, especially in the middle of a time when everyone around both of us was shouting about a thing that upset us.
The most recent game release from Sav is That Boy Is A Monstr, a game about being queer and dating on a website. Check it out.
Awww, yeah, yeah, yeah. Duh.
Of course I’m going to spend some time this month talking about Fox.
Fox Lee, my partner, is an artist, designer, writer and web developer. She manages our websites, writes ad copy, edits rulebooks and creates entire games on her own. Fox has made a free otome game, which is great, and I recommend you go try it.
This year, we released a game called Cafe Romantica, and I want to underscore of this 120-card, big card game, I did so little of the total product it is dizzying. Fox did the art, the backgrounds, the card faces, the wording structure and wrote the rulebook – even up to the night before the game launched.
Fox is great. Fox works hard, Fox holds work to a high standard, and Fox is often sharply contrasted with my positions – where I’ll work hard to get a product finished, she’ll hold things back to make sure they get done right. I love Fox, and you should check out her great work so you can send us money for how great she is.
Obviously I had to put this one up here, today, on Christmas Eve – because Fox sharing her life with me is the greatest gift I’ve ever received.
As with Rachel and Clay before them, I once more turn to point to someone I know, and love, and care about, who hasn’t had a fair shake.
Melissa Elliott, two ls, two ts, is one of those people who, if the 17th century wasn’t just the most awful, would have been one of those academic thinker types we sit around now wondering where they find the time. She’s done infosec research, drawn comics, built a twitter brand, built videogame AI, done some work on videogames, reverse engineered some things, won a My Little Pwnie award for her work in information security –
er, specifically for writing a silly song –
Now, none of these are raging successes, by the standards we use to determine success. This is in part because none of us grew up in cultures that value artistic expression, and I know that moreso of Melissa’s upbringing because she and I shared a particular horrorshow that was American Fundamentalism. This is not an experience and a place that, let me tell you, does much to encourage the creative efforts of young women.
I am grateful this year that Melissa has been part of it – the whole way. I feel like a walking firework alongside her, where she needs some degree of quiet, some emotional space, and I, with my big loud idiot elbows smack into spaces that can distress her without even trying – but despite it, she still shares with me what she makes, and what she wants, and what she’s interested in, and that means a lot to me.
Incidentally, she hates card games, and that’s okay – because when I share what I do with my friends, I don’t do it because I want them to feel obligated they should like them.
The mighty Maximum Fun podcasting network may host the entire McElempire, with both MBMBAM and their related shows of which there are roughly a fifty hojillion fold (and I like that, that’s cool), but there is one show I found from an ad in My Brother, My Brother and Me, and it’s Can I Pet Your Dog.
Can I Pet Your Dog is almost impressively nothing. It is a short podcast of two people talking about their dogs (in early episodes, they did not both have dogs). They are not exceptionally or exquisitely funny. I mean, they’re funny, but it’s not uproarious comedy; I don’t find myself quoting it or recommending it (except here, I guess).
Can I Pet Your Dog is, however, inoffensive, sweet, and comforting. It is funny without reminding me of gross comedians; it does not feel I’m about to stray into realms of vile jokes or random political stuff about this person or that person and how dare they. It is, when I do find the time to sit down and tune in, a balm of comforting, simple, pleasures of owning a dog.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that I’m fond of someone I record a podcast with. To counter the claims of nepotism, I want it known that I love Clay despite him routinely making fun of me for being related to a ventriloquist.
Now, Clay’s situation is such I feel reluctant telling anyone how great he is. I don’t feel comfortable waving my arms in the air and shouting about the glory of this wonderful friend, this thoughtful man who has had to learn twice as much as I did in half the time with worse handicaps.
As Rachel, Clay is someone who makes me sure the world would be better if people like them just had the freedom to make things, to tell stories, to care about the things they care about and not deal with malarkey like the right change for the drier and washer.
Three years ago I was told it was important for men to foster stable, emotionally mature relationships so they didn’t rely on women to take care of them. I tried that, I joke, then it turns out they were all girls. Despite all that, standing out from that, there’s Clay – who has had his own path through life from similar spaces as me, making him one of the few people I know who can get a lot of the things I normally need to spend so long explaining.
This year has been our most active convention-going year. We have gone to almost a convention every two months – and every time, this year, we have done it with the company of Pendix, of Ex Manus Studios.
Now obviously I like Pendix. We’ve been friends for years, almost since high school. But it isn’t just that Pendix is reliable, and kind, and thoughtful – gee, I like a lot of people with those traits. What I want to highlight here is that Pendix is a person who craves to create.
If you sit around Pendix, idly, if there’s a table on hand and there’s just free time, he will have plastescine in his hand, and he will be sculpting. There’s a drive, an energy, a want to create going on there and I really admire and respect that. I work with fast media, I can see the results of what I do, and yet at the same time I can save almost everything I do. Pendix works in a medium that is slow and at times impermanent. If something goes wrong, the entire thing has to be destroyed.
It might just be that the man is patient beyond the measures of saints. I mean, he’s put up with me for years.
There is however, a lesson from him I want to impart: Wanting to create is enough reason to create. Pendix spent a lot of time practicing his craft before he started making models he could sell – I mean, like a decade of just hobby practice, doing things to see if he could do them. Your hobbies grow, and help you grow. They give you skills. And if you want to make things, you can just make them. Maybe one day they’ll take you places, but it’s okay if they never do.
It’s enough to love, for now, the doing of the act itself.
I am loath to be too nice, too quickly. I worry sometimes if this means that my first impression to Ettin was that I was a standoffish dick. In my defence, Ettin likes Death Note and FATE, two things I’ve been noisome about making fun of.
As a peer, Ettin is impressive. He has built community, and interest and fanbase for his work; he’s monetised it successfully, and he’s proven that he’s capable of repeating the success. He’s got good advice for anyone trying to do that and he expresses himself directly, honestly, and fairly.
He’s also done sterling work pushing back against pro-harrassment elements of the tabletop games industry. Without going into specifics, Ettin has tried to get rid of broken stairs in the industry as best he can, even when that involves endangering his own online space and infringing on his own potential for success. No, not everything is fixed, but I at least know where Ettin falls when there comes a time to Say Nothing And Get By or Tell Evil To Go Fuck Itself.
When I approached Ettin with ‘I’m thinking about X-‘ his immediate response was to try and set up a plan. He wanted to enable what I was trying – and even when it wound up not working out with the timetable we had in mind, it was still done helpfully and enthusiastically.
Ettin may have this form of deliberately self-deprecating humour that resists praise, but seriously, I’m glad Ettin helped me out this year.
How to lead into a discussion of Ted… oh. Okay.
My Ordinary Life, Ep 535 –
Betrayed by Betrayal at House on the Hill pic.twitter.com/rzGKRGTxQ3
— Ted (@teioh) June 18, 2017
Ted is many things. Ted is an artist. Ted is an academic. Ted is a father, a fishmonger, a mormon, a missionary, and a friend. Ted is a person who, by the sheer mathematics of my own upbringing and perspective, I should not have become friends with. I’m a militant (!) anti-theist atheist (booo, throw rocks at him), and even then part of my upbringing included a section on hunting the cult of Mormon.
I am so glad none of that took.
Ted is a wonderful person. I talk to Ted most weeks. We talk about marking or students or research or applications, or we talk about anime, or, more often than not, he expresses incredulity at the utter ridiculousness of the latest thing I mentioned. Sometimes he consults on Asian history for game design. Sometimes he reality checks me. Sometimes we console one another about the way things are that shouldn’t have to be.
Ted is a good person, noble, and someone I am proud to know.
And okay, while I have an older sister, I kinda have a younger sister, too.
Rachel Stevens is a writer and designer, though much more world design than game design. Rachel’s writing work is over on Women Write About Comics, a website which kind of explains itself just fine.
What I love about Rachel – well there’s a lot about Rachel I love, but one of the things I love about Rachel is she’s an enthusiast. She cares about books and movies and pulp and webcomics and transformer toys and gunpla and about her Vivian and about people being kind, and about fighting Nazis and about – even considering the state of things – doing an okay job.
Rachel is a modern tragedy in that if we had universal basic income, if she wasn’t stuck working the way she is for the work she’s got, she’d be running five goddamn series and making TV shows and graphic novels and videogames and so on. There is no meritocracy where Rachel is doing anything but being able to effortlessly, constantly create the visions of a better future she wants the world to have.
I got help from Rachel this year. In Sector 86, I asked her to name all the spaceships. Not all of the names she gave me got used – you might know if you recognise them – but here’s the sheet of initial notes she gave me.
Hey Rachel. I love you, and you are wonderful, and you matter. Thank you for being part of my life, you gigantically hopeless lesbian with teen tiny hands.
I don’t do a lot of information leaking on the internet. I don’t put things out there that can connect you to People Around Me. If I take photos of people it’s either at an event with their permission and permission to share, or it’s without identifying marks. I have been, therefore, pretty careful about giving out information about my family as much as I can. It may be news somewhat to some of you that I have an older sister.
My older sister has a pair of sons.
Those sons, my nephews, are great.
They are not remarkably great. Alright? I have to level with you. They do exactly what kids do, which is they shout and they jump from idea to idea, and they don’t listen to you and they’re prone to forgetting what they’re doing in that way that, let me tell you, I would be super annoyed if a coworker did it, I mean just my word how irritating. Their fashion sense is also just awful, and they haven’t read any of the classics. Shout out to my sister for having the stamina to support the little goons.
On the other hand, they love games.
I have told this story and will tell this story many times more, but I’m putting it here. There are three games in our catalogue that I made explicitly because I went to my parents’ place and hung out with my nephews and they learned I made games. We talked about it, we talked about what that meant, and they talked about things they thought games should be about, what games should do.
Then I went home and I made those games.
Some games I couldn’t make. I couldn’t make the game called GOOD COP, LOLLY COP – which conspicuously, came about when I told them we couldn’t play GOOD COP, BEAR COP, because they were too young and wouldn’t understand it. But these kids are part of my life and I am happy to be part of theirs.
This year I made a protracted plan to try and visit my family every month – at least once. I didn’t do it every month – but the point we knew was we tried. We knew we wanted to go every month, we knew we expected to. There was one embarassing day when I turned up at my parents’ place and nobody was home, and I just piled into the bus and went home.
This year has featured an effort to draw together tighter the love and the need of my family to be connected. To shoulder the people closest to me and to know they are willing to shoulder me. There are unfortunate choices ahead of us, but I’d rather face it together.
I said I’d say something about this and I never did, and this sucks and it’s in my head and now I’m going to share it with you. For as there are good things in this world, there are dark and miserable reflections, and with Christian Replacement Media on my mind, let us speak now of some of its worst examples.
In the late 90s there was a ska boom. Ska music got on the radio. There was also the peak era of South Park, as a generation of teenagers tried to convince their parents that they didn’t care about your opinions, dude and they liked edgy, powerful, dangerous media like this thing about children talking to poop.
Two media trends, two chances to capitalise and milk money out of other Christians? Well, of course it was time for the Christian Replacement Media machine to get involved and get involved hard.
“What,” you may be asking, “the fuck was that.”
That, my friend is the evil mirror to Five Iron Frenzy. It is the fundamentalist-enough Christian alternative to South Park’s visual aesthetic branding and opposition point to the radio’s sinful Mighty Mighty Bosstones. It is a musical Waluigi, an entity created entirely in opposition to values rather than expression of values. It is ash. In as much as art can be, it is sin.
By the way, boy, the people on the Mexican border really had a problem that they weren’t getting enough Americans telling them about Jesus. Mexico’s a country with a real problem with Christianity, right? Let’s set aside the Anti-Catholic and patronising probably-Racism of Mission Trip To Mexico and instead examine what I feel is probably their worst song, Homeschool Girl.
Public school is full of drug addicts, boring, and lies to you. But Homeschool girl, well, she’s super great.
Augh I’m listening to it again.
It literally exhorts how good she is at preparing him stuff! It holds up how smart she is by how many grades she is ahead except because she’s homeschooled that doesn’t mean anything, since the person telling you that isn’t a fucking teacher! This is literally propoganda for a lifestyle that I know’s inflicted tremendous harm on people!
Sometimes you can think about the impact of a piece of art in terms of what it made seem normal, what it impacted, who it really influenced. And I am sadly certain that there are people, right now, homeschooling their kids, who are doing it in part because when they were young teens, they heard this song and it helped to form what they thought of as ‘normal.’
Hmm, let’s see, other countries, homeschooling with some overtones of sexism, what about –
Oh yeah, Abstinence!
Fucking hell this fucking group of fucking dickheads.
Okay okay, not going to talk about the lyrics or message of this media – the pain of having had sex? the fuck, you’re doing it very wrong – but I’m going to talk about how boring this ska music is. It’s very competently arranged, but very poorly mixed, and if you listen to all this stuff in a row you’ll be struck by how all BOB songs more or less sound the same.
All their album is up on Youtube, if you give a shit to go listen to it. I think their least obnoxious track is I Saw Pastor Dancing, which is just intensely cringey.
Oh and if you’re curious: Yes. I owned this album. And I owned it instead of owning All The Hype Money Can Buy.