I caught sight of a post on a blog I hadn’t heard of called, Zen of Design. It’s titled, ‘our growing fuckwad problem’. It’s quite badly written, in the sense that it took me about a third of it to work out whose side the writer is actually on. And it’s a nice little rant about how there are too many nasty evil people on the internet and Zoe Quinn’s boyfriend is an asshole for putting his dirty laundry on the internet and blah blah blah and fucking blah.

The writer’s initial error can be summed up nicely with this logical fallacy that I’m going to quote from his post:

“… The Internet should be a safe place for everyone …”

Shoulda, coulda, woulda. I suppose you’d also say that the world should be a safe place for everyone too. Well, it’s not. Sometimes I wonder if people who play fantasy games really do live in a fantasy world. The internet is a reflection of the world. It is a reflection of human beings and their behavior. How could it be anything else? And our little Damion Schubert, (at least I think that’s who wrote this shit), is all upset at the nasty wasty people on his internet. According to him they need to go away! The internet is not a place for them! I’m going to break down his rubbish one point at a time based on his own subheadings. Let’s go, shall we. His original posts in bold:

1. If you think this is an isolated problem, limited only to a handful of ‘celebrity women’, you’re wrong. For a small sampling of the abuse that women can take, look no further than Fat, Ugly or Slutty.

So what does this prove? That there are some bad men out there? So what? Oh, I see, you’re making the illogical assumption that this means that there are no nasty women out there …

ihatemen, endofmen, dead men don’t rape, and this was from just a cursory few minutes on Google. Yahoo Answers is always a go-to site for rabid anti-male threads and moderating, and oh, let’s just add some more while we’re at it. I’m a woman who hates men, kill all men, and my personal favorite, I am a feminist: All men can go die…that is after I cut off their dicks.

As a man I have to say, I’m not feeling the love.

2) It doesn’t take many assholes to poison the well. Here’s a secret – the ‘not all men’ camp is technically correct, and even moreso, they’d be accurate in saying ‘most men’, as in ‘most men are not colossal manchildren incapable of holding a coherent conversation with a woman’ and ‘most men are not, actually, potential rapists who spout out vile obscenities the moment a player with a female voice whips their ass’. Here’s the other secret – that doesn’t matter. At fucking all.

Can anyone out there tell me what that means? In English, mind you. he goes on, at length, something about one person can stuff it up for everyone. Yeah, that Stalin chap was a real bummer, wasn’t he.

3) Having thick skin should not be a requirement to be a game developer or academic – but right now it is.

Oh, poor little game designer, he needs a think skin. Has he tried being a high school teacher, or a primary school teacher for that matter? Or a cop? Or a politician? Or the poor person at the airport scanning x-ray machine that has to wave the wand over people’s body parts and gets abused into the process? Or how about bus drivers? Or … do I need to go on? And then he goes on about Anita Sarkeesian, the woman who has made an art form out of scamming gullible saps in the gaming industry to give her money because she’s so hard done by. And once again, women get abused so they leave, it’s that logical fallacy again. Is he assuming that men in the industry don’t get abused and leave? Actually they probably just kill themselves seeing as men make up 80% of suicides.

4) If your response to a failed relationship is to post your dirty laundry to a toxic and inflammatory web forum and egg them on to harassing your ex, you are a Grade-A Major League Asshole, and you’ve justified her decision to leave you and seek affection elsewhere. Sorry, that needed to be said. I don’t even need to hear her side of the story. She figured you out, and tried to escape. Good on her.

Really? I mean, really? I’m glad this guy isn’t sitting on any judicial bench.

5) If you don’t think that being a white, straight male grants you undeniable and unassailable privilege in modern Western society, then you need to get your head out of your MRA ass.

Straw-man much? Oh, and I’ll post all of this again just to make a point.

6) Manufacturing a scandal to be able to keep calling a woman a slut is pretty much the definition of shitbag behavior. You know how many people would care if a male developer slept with a female journalist? Roughly zero. It happens all the time. Hell, sometimes we even marry them. It’s not just game journalism – Washington DC is full of journalists who have had relationships with the people that they’ve covered. And yet, somehow, the Washington Post manages to maintain their integrity and reputation.

She slept with them to further her own career at the expense of other people. All discussion of the topic was neutered from the internet. For a truly in-depth look at why the Zoe Quinn debacle is a very big deal, look no further than here. Also, don’t you love this guy’s double standards? On the one hand it’s all, “ARGGHHH, only one bad person can cause everyone else to be tainted by the same brush and you are all evils ARRGGG!” and then on the other hand when it’s a woman who may have been nasty and naughty it’s all, “It happens all the time, nothing to see here, move along move along quietly now …”

Here’s my favorite part:

But there is a contingent of gamers who seriously need to drink a cup of Shut the Fuck Up. It’s not all gamers. I suspect that, if you’re reading this, you’re not one of them. It is, in fact, a minority of gamers, and probably a tiny minority at that. But the amount of noise that they make, and the amount of damage that they do, is vastly out of scale with their small population.

I agree. There is a small group of so-called gamers that make a huge amount of noise relative to their numbers and who ruin it for everyone. Feminists, the pink brigade, white knights like this moron Damion Schubert, and any other of the socialist nutbags who want to ruin gaming for everyone. Finally something this guy writes makes sense.

A brilliant post from a female game developer on Zoe Quinn, or for those of you who are unfamiliar with her, she who sleeps around to get ahead due to being a talentless crack-whore while undermining all those around her.

A couple of particularly choice quotes:

“… This is just one example of how only those who toe the social justice line are allowed by the press and the devs’ clique. Even those who just try to keep quiet and uninvolved are often called out for not doing enough, or being a poor “ally.” To succeed in this industry you have to meet the standards of this clique, when it should be about meeting the standards of gamers …”

And my favorite:

“… Let’s be completely honest: most women don’t play Quake III. Most of those few women like me who actually like first person shooters, grand strategy, space sims, and all those other genres that make up “core” gaming don’t care if they can play as a female protagonist, or if the girls are wearing skimpy outfits, or if you have to rescue the princess. They like the exact same things as men who like those games, and they just want good games, nothing more nothing less. And most of them feel that all this rambling on about representation is distracting from the real issue: big developers and publishers are making shitty games for mass appeal instead of the kind of awesome games we played growing up. When you distract from that to rant about what is literally imaginary misogyny you’re hurting women like me who just want good games. There’s a reason the only new game I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this year was the new Strider, even though I’d rate it an 8 out of 10 at best: it’s a simple premise with solid execution. No attempts to speak about how the social justice topic du jour, just solid gameplay and enough of a story to string it together. Not that I’m opposed to games telling a story, but for the vast majority of genres stories aren’t all that important, and speaking out on social issues is irrelevant to what I want: gameplay. Most other women, if they play games at all, play Candy Crush and Farmville and Solitaire and whatever else is popular on phones. By conflating us with them you’re hurting us and keeping the games we like from getting made …”

Read the rest of her post, it’s dynamite. And it’s important.

A shout out to Vox Day for the heads-up.

Oh, that’s right – a lot of people already have.

And so it comes down to this. For some time now the pinko-lefty social drama campaigners have been on a holy mission from an abstract entity to bring equality and inclusion to the world of video games. Not satisfied with completely fucking up the science fiction & fantasy genre with their boring platitudes and dull novels bereft of anything remotely resembling a story but chock full of gay Asian heroes struggling with their existence in an alien world, they then set their sights on video games and all it contained. At first the complaints were small and centered around the fact that they were being abused in chat for being a woman. Notwithstanding the fact that the vast majority of people abused in chat in MMOs are because they either:

A: Suck as a gamer, or
B: Suck as a person,

These were always equated back to I am being being abused because I am a woman.

It’s a funny thing about these feminists. On the one hand they scream about GRRRRLLL power and how they are so much better than men, but yet on the other hand they roll around in their victim-hood status as soon as someone gives them the finger. Power and victim-hood the two do not equate.

But facts, rationality, and logical thinking are anathema to this bunch, and thus we progressed to such fascinating topics as there not being enough statues of females in WoW city areas and OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE SHOOT ME NOW ARE WE REALLY TALKING ABOUT THIS???

Which is what they count on. Disinterest. ‘Why, this isn’t going to effect me, I’ll just ignore the awful feminists and their gay hanger-ons and stick to my games.’ Yes, well that’s what the science fiction & fantasy community thought too, until most of the novels released started to well … suck. And Zoe Quinn is just the tip of the iceberg. I mean, who wouldn’t release a game called ‘Depression Quest’ about depression, and a text adventure at that, and not expect it to sell really well? That was fucking irony by the way in case you hadn’t noticed. Game not going so well? Why not sleep with a bunch of so-called journalists and executive bigwigs to make sure that your game gets on steam? Ex-boyfriend spills the beans on you publicly? That’s okay, let’s just shut down all discussion and remove all threads related to the subject on major forums and ban everyone into the bargain? I mean, nobodies going to notice that shit, ammiright?

This is a turning point, my friends. This is the time for you to take notice of sites such as Kotaku and boycott them forthwith. To stand up and say that this shit won’t fly. Good games are good games in of themselves. There is no quota system required for a game to have X number of blacks, gays, women, lesbians, Hispanics, Asians, transexuals, etc. This is not about what a game is. A game is a good game when it gives enjoyment and an escape from the real world. I said it four years ago when I got into a fight with these wankers and their ilk, and I’ll say it again:

Hands off our games.

And screw Zoe Quinn, though not in the biblical sense. I mean, ewwww.

My main in TESO is now level 32 and the proud recipient of a full matching armor set from our dear guild leader. Not only do I look awesome, I look like I know what I’m doing. Every time I run through a major town someone invites me to a guild. I, of course say no. But in a polite way, as one must not obviously look down on the little people. Quite.

With this new gear I’m also a lot better at killing things. I have now completely changed my set-up. Before I was an assassin Nightblade wearing heavy armor with a sword and shield because I could. Because it looked cool. The problem was that I did about as much damage as a kitten on morphine. Now I’m wearing medium armor, I dual wield a dagger and an axe, and I primarily use my bow. I can kill most things before they even get close to me, and even if they do get close I have an ability that hurls them back a good distance when I use it. As an added bonus I get hurled back as well. It’s particularly good for bosses and the like.

Right now I’m questing in the Alik’r Desert. I really like it, a lot. It’s possibly the best desert zone I’ve ever seen in an MMO. It gives the impression of vastness, of sand stretching to infinity. In the distance a sheer cliff will shimmer in the heat haze while a dust devil whirls past you. Poetic, eh? But you can really believe that you could die of thirst out there. Or die of loneliness.

However, there is one thing that is missing from this scene. Star Wars, Return of the Jedi didn’t get many things right, but it hit the nail on the head with Princess Leia dressed in a metal bikini while lashed in chains in front of a giant slug. But so far I am yet to encounter a single desert slave girl. How is this possible? Where is Frank Frazetta when you need him? [dead, you imbecile - Ed]. What I wouldn’t give to come over a sandy rise to see a long line of near naked slaves lashed together by the neck and being led by some nasty and brutish slave owners. Why, what I’d do would be to charge straight up and buy a couple of the hottest girls I could see. Why haven’t you done this TESO? Why??

Don’t tell me the drooling feminist socialists have finally co-opted the gaming industry for their own awful political ends. At least there aren’t any statues to women who look like Zoe Quinn in TESO. Honestly, the thing I don’t understand about that drama is why five men would want to sleep with the ugly bitch. Come on guys in geekdom land, you can’t be that hard up, surely.

Anyway, I’m going back to sandy adventuring. If I find a slave girl I will buy her, treat her awfully and post a screen shot. The things I do for my readers.

Last weekend I logged on to Elder Scrolls where I participated in my first guild event, a skyshard run in the pvp zone of Cyrodill. Skyshards are glowing spheres that give you one third of a skill point once and once only. Some bloggers, (Nils, I’m looking at you), didn’t like skyshards. I don’t mind them. They’ve built them into the game so obviously the skill points take this into calculation. And anyway, you can get skill points from quests as well. Lorewise, I couldn’t really care less. They’re a good incentive to see the world, go exploring if you will.

 

And go exploring we did. Cyrodiil is big. Really big. Here’s a map of it.

 

 Cyrodiil-Skyshard-Locations-500x500

 

This is the PvP zone of Elder Scrolls with three factions competing to hold it. I zoned in for the first time to find my fellow guildies grouped around a summoning area. They were all sitting on horses. I didn’t have a horse. And then I had a terrible premonition. I typed in chat:

 

“Is not having a horse going to be a handicap on this run?”

They let me down politely. So I ran over to the nearest horse vendor and sank 17K on an ugly nag that looked as if it were destined for the knackers. I had been holding out for the most expensive option but events forced my hand. I rode back, (the horse animations in this game are quite cool), and we rode off. Everyone galloped off into the distance. Seems that you can level your horse in this game. Mine obviously wasn’t. I lent on the stamina button like an old man leaning on a street lamp on a windy day. Somehow we kept up. There were twenty of us in the group. I followed like a mad-man, learning my horsey skills on the way, space bar to jump, careful going downhill or you might dismount, avoid the water, stay clear of enemy PvP guards. I’m in Australia, I’m playing on the North American server, there were twenty of us and I had zero lag. Some of you might use this as an opportunity to pour scorn on the number of people playing Elder Scrolls, but it really ran well.

The other nice surprise was group fights. Being used to the multicolored acid-toned visual attack chaos of WoW, this was a pleasant surprise. It was easy to pick out enemy combatants due to the lack of visual wankiness from spells and abilities. We poured around Cyrodiil like a storming rush of crazed harpies on crack. Occasionally a player from another faction would be unfortunate enough to stumble across our path only to be vaporized in a fury of bolts, arrows and spells. Two hours in and with over 20 skyshards under my belt for the run, I pulled the pin. The group went on to collect over 40 shyshards overall for the night. 

Excellent guild event, check. Games works seamlessly with many players in the one location from thousands of miles away, check. Enough skill points to rub them under my armpits while singing Ave Maria, check. Loving this game, double check. No, make it a triple.

 

I backed the initial Pathfinder kickstarter. Got myself a signed book thingy and a poster. Yey me. I was a somewhat active participant on their forum. I had hope for this game. I had dreams. I had dreams, man!!

Dreams die. Sorry kids, that’s just the way it goes. This one died early, but there are a lot of people still hanging on to their dream. They don’t want to let go. They don’t want to be disappointed. Which means when they eventually do realise how terrible their dream has become, the backlash is going to be very nasty indeed. For me, I knew the game was up when Pathfinder announced their second kickstarter. The first kickstarter was to secure investors, the second kickstarter was to move the project forward quickly so that they weren’t constrained by investors’ small-mindedness. Which led me to believe that all the would-be investors had looked at their product and decided that it sucked so the only thing left was to secure more money out of their audience to get the game going.

This was when the forums took a turn for the weird, with Ryan Dancey, the smug-faced moron running the project, jumping down the throat of anyone who dared to question their creative genius. In the last two years things haven’t changed that much. Dancey is still being a prick to people, the game still looks fucking awful on the videos that have been released, and they’re still extorting money out of their future player-base.

Early enrollment costs a cool $100. Players who backed the second kickstarter, (us poor saps who backed the initial offering didn’t get jack squat), got to play in the alpha, ($1000 for all of you so desperate to get in and test their bugs for them), but after that you have to shell out more money. And now they’ve introduced premium items, in other words a high priced cash shop. Care to blow $50 on a base camp? That lasts for only five days? Or how about a cool $250 for a smallholding?

“… Smallholdings will have an upkeep cost. The Smallholding will consume a certain amount of bulk resources and crafting materials each month. If the Smallholding’s upkeep cost is not met, the Smallholding will be closed and despawned.”

“Any inventory in the Smallholding when it is removed from the game (through destruction or despawning) is lost”

“The deed to a Smallholding that is destroyed or despawned will return to its owner’s inventory and will have a 30 day cooldown before it can be redeployed.”

God, I almost want to pay to get in so I can go around burning these things down.

How much do you think their core playerbase has already shelved out on average, what with two kickstarters, alpha access, early enrollment, and now a premium cash shop? Has any game ever cost this much before it was even released? And more to the point, has any other business in the history of the world ever charged its future customers to set itself up in such a way?

But people are paying for it, for now. Which says two things really; people are stupid, and the MMO industry is in dire straits indeed.

Traveling around the lovely landscape of Elder Scrolls Online, one is struck by the bewildering assortment of lootable sacks, barrels, crates, large crates, heavy sacks, sacks which are not so heavy but not that light either, wardrobes, nightstands, desks, bags, backpacks, more barrels and crates, samsonite carry-on luggage, smart designer handbags, and some more barrels just to even everything out somewhat.

You may think it would be prudent to ignore all of this and you would be wrong. very wrong indeed. More wrong than getting involved in a land war in the Middle East. For while the vast majority of lootable items are along the lines of onions and corn mash, every so often there is a flash of blue and you discover a copy of Orc Racial Library as I did yesterday which was a big boon to my blacksmithing and very excitable let me tell you.

It’s not a very big chore to open all of these containers. It’s even quite relaxing in a ‘mouse in a maze finding a piece of cheese to keep going and not go insane’ kind of way. The problem lies in what to do with all these food ingredients. Do you leave them to rot or do you loot them and eventually succumb to the awful travails of having to level provisioning?

It all started well and good – I had a few low level recipes that I had found in a train station wastepaper basket, and finding the ingredients was fairly easy. But now I’m in the position where I need to allocate valuable skill points into provisioning in order to progress any further. This has me in a quandary. With my bank space overflowing with Orc Eyes and rabbit nut-sacks, I’m unable to use all the higher level recipes that are cluttering up my inventory space. The food and drink that you make has some nice buffs, but you can purchase similar goods from most inns and have the added bonus of gazing with mottled drool at the local comely wench’s lovely heaving bosom into the bargain.

And skill points are valuable. Right now I have a skill point that I got for completing a quest which involved listening to some god-awful story narrated by a boring fruit-bat with no heaving bosom. There are a bunch of different uses I could put it to as well. There’s a juicy bow skill I can take, a very good block attack buff with my sword and shield, a much needed heavy armor buff, and a very cool blacksmithing skill that lets me research two traits at the same time. Or I can stick it in second level recipes and be able to cook a troll sandwich.

I’ve just realised that this is a fine example of a meaningful choice. And that’s one reason why I’m still playing this game.

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