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Simon Steele

Gamergate? Toxic masculinity? Ready Player One?

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4 hours ago, Simon Steele said:

Agreed. If you celebrate the 80s, I think you can also acknowledge the terrible aspects too and use those moments to see how issues like rape culture are still so prevalent and hand-waved away as if non-existent.

One of the better shows that did this was Life on Mars and its sequel, Ashes to Ashes, which were set in the 1970s and 1980s and evoked a lot of the good things of the era - the movies, the music, the spirit of invention, new technology  and so on - but they were also utterly merciless in depicting the racism, casual misogyny, the corruption, the drug use and some of the really dark shit that went on as well.

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the big problem with RPO isn't the nostalgia or even that it celebrates things that kind of suck - it's that it celebrates an attitude that if you don't know some trivia you are on some level Not A Good Person, and the best person is the person who knows the most trivia. 

that exclusionary gatekeeping is what sucks. 

Black Panther was a celebration, but it wasn't exclusionary and actually did some self criticism. this is another reason it is so good. you didn't have to know about tribal cultures or comic lore to get anything, but if you did good on you. approachable but having depth is great. RPO is designed to be unapproachable and shallow. 

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53 minutes ago, Simon Steele said:

I also think it came out at a time with heavy competition. Games that came out that fall: Divinity 2, new Middle Earth, Evil Within 2, South Park 2, Destiny 2 (!) the week before Wolfenstein 2, Assassin's Creed Origins the same week, Call of Duty World War the following week--I mean, I'm not saying those are great games, but attention stealers for sure. 

It came out the same day as Mario and the new Assassin's Creed, if I recall correctly.  They probably would have benefited immensely from releasing it in a less crowded month where there wasn't so much big name competition, and the fact that it was getting great reviews would have stood out a lot more as well.  Not that Wolfenstein isn't a big name, but it's also a single-player only experience that was only about ten hours long.  I'd imagine a lot of people were waiting to pick it up until it was on sale, or perhaps are still waiting. 

It's also worth noting that Bethesda only reports physical sales numbers when they release them, so anything they released doesn't account for digital sales, which would be a huge chunk of the PC market and probably sizable portions of the console markets as well these days.

Edited by briantw

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24 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

it's that it celebrates an attitude that if you don't know some trivia you are on some level Not A Good Person, and the best person is the person who knows the most trivia. 

Yeah that's what it looks like, and even what it's marketed as, and is a big part of why I didn't see any point in going to it even before the reviews.

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3 hours ago, Werthead said:

One of the better shows that did this was Life on Mars and its sequel, Ashes to Ashes, which were set in the 1970s and 1980s and evoked a lot of the good things of the era - the movies, the music, the spirit of invention, new technology  and so on - but they were also utterly merciless in depicting the racism, casual misogyny, the corruption, the drug use and some of the really dark shit that went on as well.

I hadn't heard of this before--it looks really interesting. I'm trying to see if one of my five streaming services has it.

3 hours ago, Kalbear said:

the big problem with RPO isn't the nostalgia or even that it celebrates things that kind of suck - it's that it celebrates an attitude that if you don't know some trivia you are on some level Not A Good Person, and the best person is the person who knows the most trivia. 

that exclusionary gatekeeping is what sucks. 

Black Panther was a celebration, but it wasn't exclusionary and actually did some self criticism. this is another reason it is so good. you didn't have to know about tribal cultures or comic lore to get anything, but if you did good on you. approachable but having depth is great. RPO is designed to be unapproachable and shallow. 

Black Panther seems like it's about a way forward as opposed to nostalgia though, right? I haven't seen it yet (movie theater prices!). A thought I while reading was if this kind of criticism makes certain types of pop culture exclusionary. Donkey Kong, Mario, (Castlevania, my favorite), these certainly were enjoyed by all kinds of people, and to say it's the domain of white men, and to further reduce it to the domain of the angry white man, takes something fun and turns it into something gross. I guess that's all I'm trying to say. But again, I am out of my depth here, as I haven't read the book (or seen the movie). I have ordered the book now. I might better understand after I finish it.
 

3 hours ago, briantw said:

It came out the same day as Mario and the new Assassin's Creed, if I recall correctly.  They probably would have benefited immensely from releasing it in a less crowded month where there wasn't so much big name competition, and the fact that it was getting great reviews would have stood out a lot more as well.  Not that Wolfenstein isn't a big name, but it's also a single-player only experience that was only about ten hours long.  I'd imagine a lot of people were waiting to pick it up until it was on sale, or perhaps are still waiting. 

It's also worth noting that Bethesda only reports physical sales numbers when they release them, so anything they released doesn't account for digital sales, which would be a huge chunk of the PC market and probably sizable portions of the console markets as well these days.

And just considering the number of games, it's hard to decide. Last fall I bought one new game. Divinity 2. Why that over the others? I can't really say at this point.

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12 hours ago, Simon Steele said:

The toxic culture, though, I really think permeates much more than gaming. It's like saying because school shooters were gamers, that's what caused them to be killers. I think we're just finding places where these groups of nasty people are concentrating, but one is not the other. 

Though, to be fair, since my son (now 13) has played more online games on his PS4, he has picked up some real shitty turns of phrase that I have to work diligently to coach him out away from: such as "your mom."

Oh absolutely. Gamergate is when it became clear to the larger, more serious, far right groups that there was this large cohort of young people (who had previously been assumed to lean left) that were ripe for recruitment into serious far right movements. And that's exactly what has happened - the entitlement and resentment is being used to channel young men into MRA movements and then from there into actual nazi and white supremacist groups. That isn't gaming doing it, and there is nothing inherent to gaming which causes it - its a cultural problem that has been left unaddressed as no one took it seriously.

We let abuse become the norm, and then after that death and rape threats became more common. When there were no consequences for that, they started SWATting. And now those that followed through to the extremes have actual body counts, and still its not being taken as the serious problem it is. And the argument gets derailed so easily by people focusing on how their attachment to a particular property makes them feel targeted, or (on the other side) by fixating on single properties when the issue generally isn't that of single properties but of the overall trend, the media taken as a whole. Any single problematic case can be largely ignored in isolation, its when everything is like that that it constitutes a major problem.

 

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8 hours ago, Kalbear said:

Black Panther was a celebration, but it wasn't exclusionary

I think the overall intent of the film is not exclusionary, but I fear some  fans definitely took an exclusionary message out of it, and embraced it. There's a whole lot of people who feel the museum scene -- what with its cold-blooded murder of white museum staff who have the temerity to curate an African art exhibition, and be wrong about a provenance of an item from a culture that has done all it could to hide itself from the world -- is a kickass moment that is worth cheering.

There was a recent situation involving the Brooklyn Museum appointing a white woman to be a curator of its African art section, and there were a number of angry people who posted images from that scene as a response which, frankly, would feel pretty threatening given what happens in it.

Obviously, artists are not responsible for what people take out of their art. And I think this holds for RPO, for that matter. The real difference between them is that Coogler and co. are better at making movies than Cline is at writing books.

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I’m not sure it’s a particularly fair assessment to say that RPO promotes the idea that the more trivia you know the better.  The message of the book and the film is very much that you need love, friendship, understanding and similar bullshit much more than you need to know stuff.  Toxic gamer culture is really kind of rejected in favour of strong real life relationships in fact.

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18 hours ago, Werthead said:

One of the better shows that did this was Life on Mars and its sequel, Ashes to Ashes, which were set in the 1970s and 1980s and evoked a lot of the good things of the era - the movies, the music, the spirit of invention, new technology  and so on - but they were also utterly merciless in depicting the racism, casual misogyny, the corruption, the drug use and some of the really dark shit that went on as well.

Another show I might compare Ready Player One to would be Spaced, which I think does a better job of appealing to nerd nostalgia while at the same time acknowledging the absurdity that such obsessions can lead to:

Quote

Bilbo Bagshot: I was like you once. Blond hair. Scraggly little beard. Childlike ears. Full of beans and spunk. I let my principles get in the way sometimes. I punched a bloke in the face once for saying "Hawk the Slayer" was rubbish.

Tim Bisley: Good for you.

Bilbo Bagshot: Yeah, thanks. But that's not the point, Tim. The point is I was defending the fantasy genre with terminal intensity, when what I should have said is "Dad, you're right, but let's give Krull a try and we'll discuss it later."

RPO does make some effort in the later parts of the book to suggest that maybe there is more to life than having a superb knowledge of 80s trivia, but it felt like a bit of an afterthought.

14 hours ago, Simon Steele said:

I hadn't heard of this before--it looks really interesting. I'm trying to see if one of my five streaming services has it.

Life on Mars was a great show, not to be confused with the American remake which seemed to be generally regarded as disappointing (I've only watched the UK version).

Edited by williamjm

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Quote

 

I hadn't heard of this before--it looks really interesting. I'm trying to see if one of my five streaming services has it.


 

 

Just make sure it's the UK version and not the really godawful American remake.

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15 hours ago, Simon Steele said:

Black Panther seems like it's about a way forward as opposed to nostalgia though, right? I haven't seen it yet (movie theater prices!). A thought I while reading was if this kind of criticism makes certain types of pop culture exclusionary. Donkey Kong, Mario, (Castlevania, my favorite), these certainly were enjoyed by all kinds of people, and to say it's the domain of white men, and to further reduce it to the domain of the angry white man, takes something fun and turns it into something gross. I guess that's all I'm trying to say. But again, I am out of my depth here, as I haven't read the book (or seen the movie). I have ordered the book now. I might better understand after I finish it.

Those were enjoyed by all kinds of people - 30 years ago. Right there, this movie starts with the premise that basically the 80s were awesome, which means that you really have to agree with that to even get the movie on some level.

But there's more to it than that - it's not only that the 80s are awesome, but the idea that if you don't like the 80s in a certain right way you are A Bad Person and Not One Of Us. There's a specific scene in RPO which is very deliberate about this, where he's quizzing the villain on his 80s trivia to ensure he's legit, and because the villain is A Bad Person he obviously doesn't get this stuff. 

The heroes of RPO are the ones who are both the best at this esoteric knowledge and the best at snuffing out the posers who don't know as much as they do. 

10 hours ago, Ran said:

I think the overall intent of the film is not exclusionary, but I fear some  fans definitely took an exclusionary message out of it, and embraced it. There's a whole lot of people who feel the museum scene -- what with its cold-blooded murder of white museum staff who have the temerity to curate an African art exhibition, and be wrong about a provenance of an item from a culture that has done all it could to hide itself from the world -- is a kickass moment that is worth cheering.

There was a recent situation involving the Brooklyn Museum appointing a white woman to be a curator of its African art section, and there were a number of angry people who posted images from that scene as a response which, frankly, would feel pretty threatening given what happens in it.

Obviously, artists are not responsible for what people take out of their art. And I think this holds for RPO, for that matter. The real difference between them is that Coogler and co. are better at making movies than Cline is at writing books.

Right - while you can read parts of it as exclusionary, one central point is that Eric has a real grievance, but he is still the villain. Whereas the kickass part of RPO is the hero being able to tell the villain that he doesn't belong to his cool club. There are a lot of ways in which these movies are dissimilar, but at the core BP is about the ramifications of dealing with exclusion and the pain it causes, and RPO is about the awesomeness of exclusion and being insular to the point of being up your own ass. 

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3 hours ago, Kalbear said:

Those were enjoyed by all kinds of people - 30 years ago. Right there, this movie starts with the premise that basically the 80s were awesome, which means that you really have to agree with that to even get the movie on some level.

But there's more to it than that - it's not only that the 80s are awesome, but the idea that if you don't like the 80s in a certain right way you are A Bad Person and Not One Of Us. There's a specific scene in RPO which is very deliberate about this, where he's quizzing the villain on his 80s trivia to ensure he's legit, and because the villain is A Bad Person he obviously doesn't get this stuff. 

The heroes of RPO are the ones who are both the best at this esoteric knowledge and the best at snuffing out the posers who don't know as much as they do. 

 

Yeah...I saw that in the review (the quizzing thing). It sounds really lame, and maybe I missed it in the article, but I didn't realize the villain was partially defined in this way. That's really interesting. I think this is an argument I've already lost, I understand that. I need to see the source material to really understand the exclusionary aspect too. A lot of movies are exclusionary, though, in the sense that they're built on ideas and concepts that certain groups like and others don't, but I understand this is about white males gate keeping, and I think the details of RPO would likely reveal this.

Alternatively, I don't think a show like Stranger Things (which is about the 80s and 80s references) is about gate keeping. I think it ignores a lot of issues, certainly, but sometimes it surprises you, like the little Ghostbusters switcheroo. I got the sense from the linked article that this type of nostalgia and fun is considered toxic. Perhaps RPO is something different.

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15 hours ago, karaddin said:

Oh absolutely. Gamergate is when it became clear to the larger, more serious, far right groups that there was this large cohort of young people (who had previously been assumed to lean left) that were ripe for recruitment into serious far right movements. And that's exactly what has happened - the entitlement and resentment is being used to channel young men into MRA movements and then from there into actual nazi and white supremacist groups. That isn't gaming doing it, and there is nothing inherent to gaming which causes it - its a cultural problem that has been left unaddressed as no one took it seriously.

We let abuse become the norm, and then after that death and rape threats became more common. When there were no consequences for that, they started SWATting. And now those that followed through to the extremes have actual body counts, and still its not being taken as the serious problem it is. And the argument gets derailed so easily by people focusing on how their attachment to a particular property makes them feel targeted, or (on the other side) by fixating on single properties when the issue generally isn't that of single properties but of the overall trend, the media taken as a whole. Any single problematic case can be largely ignored in isolation, its when everything is like that that it constitutes a major problem.

 

I'm in a doctoral program currently, and one of my courses is about engagement and motivation in learning. We were talking today about what character education in classrooms has looked like in the past (and why it's been ineffective), and how it might be implemented in the future in terms of addressing how to interact on social media. The interventions against bullying and cyberbullying have been largely effective (at least physical bullying) in elementary school, but become almost insignificant in high school. A completely different approach in how we approach helping our kids understand online (and in person) interactions is really necessary.

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1 hour ago, Simon Steele said:

Alternatively, I don't think a show like Stranger Things (which is about the 80s and 80s references) is about gate keeping. I think it ignores a lot of issues, certainly, but sometimes it surprises you, like the little Ghostbusters switcheroo. I got the sense from the linked article that this type of nostalgia and fun is considered toxic. Perhaps RPO is something different.

I think the core difference between Stranger Things and RPO is that ST is obviously wanting to be about nostalgia on some level, but it doesn't require you to be versed in it in order to enjoy it, nor is it a particularly relevant plot point; it's a setting, but the story itself barely has anything to do with the 80s. For stranger things the nostalgia and references are stylistic, not formative. For RPO a large chunk of the value of both the book and the movie are the actual references and how much you get them. For those people who get those references it literally makes you feel like the actual hero, because your knowledge and skills are basically the same as theirs. That's not remotely the case in ST, and while its neat to get things like the demogorgon or the mind flayer, it's not particularly important. 

I think ultimately the way to look at it is whether or not it's a period piece (as Stranger Things is) or not. RPO isn't a period piece at all, it's fans doing fanfic of stories and characters and things. 

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15 hours ago, Kalbear said:

I think the core difference between Stranger Things and RPO is that ST is obviously wanting to be about nostalgia on some level, but it doesn't require you to be versed in it in order to enjoy it, nor is it a particularly relevant plot point; it's a setting, but the story itself barely has anything to do with the 80s. For stranger things the nostalgia and references are stylistic, not formative. For RPO a large chunk of the value of both the book and the movie are the actual references and how much you get them. For those people who get those references it literally makes you feel like the actual hero, because your knowledge and skills are basically the same as theirs. That's not remotely the case in ST, and while its neat to get things like the demogorgon or the mind flayer, it's not particularly important. 

I think ultimately the way to look at it is whether or not it's a period piece (as Stranger Things is) or not. RPO isn't a period piece at all, it's fans doing fanfic of stories and characters and things. 

That makes a lot of sense. My son loves Stranger Things as much as I do, but you're right, he can love without nostalgia activation. I suppose without reading RPO, I thought it was similar, but I see a distinct difference now. I'll go back and read the article I posted (to clarify--reread the article). This is helpful.

Edited by Simon Steele

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On 4/5/2018 at 3:25 PM, Kalbear said:

Those were enjoyed by all kinds of people - 30 years ago. Right there, this movie starts with the premise that basically the 80s were awesome, which means that you really have to agree with that to even get the movie on some level.

But there's more to it than that - it's not only that the 80s are awesome, but the idea that if you don't like the 80s in a certain right way you are A Bad Person and Not One Of Us. There's a specific scene in RPO which is very deliberate about this, where he's quizzing the villain on his 80s trivia to ensure he's legit, and because the villain is A Bad Person he obviously doesn't get this stuff. 

The heroes of RPO are the ones who are both the best at this esoteric knowledge and the best at snuffing out the posers who don't know as much as they do. 

I've only heard some snippets from RPO the book, but that gatekeeping aspect of fandom is something that jumped out at me. The writing seems to use references in place of description, and the recall games that comprise the plot are based on rote memorization, not any kind of deeper examination. Honestly, if that's the majority of the book, it's not something I'd want to read in full.

I imagine the movie could improve upon this aspect of the book with good visuals and a good cast, but I'm in no hurry to spend money to find out. 

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11 hours ago, Liver and Onions said:

I've only heard some snippets from RPO the book, but that gatekeeping aspect of fandom is something that jumped out at me. The writing seems to use references in place of description, and the recall games that comprise the plot are based on rote memorization, not any kind of deeper examination. Honestly, if that's the majority of the book, it's not something I'd want to read in full.

I imagine the movie could improve upon this aspect of the book with good visuals and a good cast, but I'm in no hurry to spend money to find out. 

This satirical piece is relevant.

 

 

Quote

 

“You villain!” I shouted, as I swung my keyblade. “You’re just as bad as Evil Willow in season six of Buffy the Vampire Slayer!”

“Please,” my arch-nemesis, Sephiroth But Also A Wolf, rolled her eyes. “The real villain of season six of Buffy the Vampire Slayer was Buffy.”

I gasped. Could she be using subjective thematic analysis against me, instead of just knowledge of trivia? Unthinkable.


 

 

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Gamergate had some valid criticisms and some good and well-meaning proponents, like Total Biscuit. And there are alternative readings of the whole thing that should be heard as well. I think it is a lot like the topic of who started WWI: a messy business and not that much worth considering.

 

What I am really flabbergasted about is, how in the nine hells anybody can say that Black Panther is a good movie is way beyond me. But I also think that the only superhero movie worth thinking about is The Incredibles...

Edited by Proposition Dirk
sense

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1 hour ago, Proposition Dirk said:

What I am really flabbergasted about is, how in the nine hells anybody can say that Black Panther is a good movie is way beyond me.


Yeah mate you are completely wrong here. Not that you are required to believe Black Panther is good- it's not that kind of masterpiece- but neither is it The Room and pretending that its popularity is some kind of mind-bending puzzle is frankly pure snobbery.

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