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This is why Kickstarter is stupid, and why people pledging money in Kickstarter projects are at best misguided, (I use a polite word there as I myself fell into this trap when I pledged money for the Pathfinder Online project – incedently did any of you see their last video? Looking really shit guys, really shit.)

So in that first link our poor misguided Kickstarter comic book writer, (really, I fail to see why you need 50K to write a fucking comic book), falls down hard on his butt because he is no good with money. He then goes into a spectacular tirade against Capitalism as a way of explaining away his apparent need to not deliver on the Kickstarter pledges. At least with this level of public meltdown no one will ever take this guy seriously again. I mean, he’d have to get a sex change and move to Saudi Arabia to have any credibility at this point.

But this is the whole reason that Kickstarter is a bad joke – it enables people with no business or entrepreneurial skills to get their “dream idea” off the ground. If they had any of these skills they wouldn’t need a Kickstarter project. They would be able to sell their idea and even if they had no cash, not one dime, because the initial idea was great, (the really important part), they’d be able to get real life backers. But the internet does not follow real life. So now we have a situation where some douchebag with no financial skills at all is given 50K, screws up the entire business idea, (note – it’s not enough to start a business, you have to be able to run one too), and then burns a copy of the book he managed to produce each time a pledger asks for something they gave money for. Current book burnings stand at 127.

Entrepreneurs are very important people in society. Look around your home and everything in it that you own will have been produced by entrepreneurs. No government or bureaucrat produced a single thing in your home. If you don’t believe that then ask someone in Venezuela right now how much fun it is not being able to purchase basic things like toilet paper. Entrepreneurs are the true heroes of our soceity, not least because for every one that succeeds a whole bunch have to fail. But those that failed were necessary for the one that got up and running. That’s how the system works – everyone learns from what everyone else is doing, tweaks are made, ideas are adjusted based on those that went before and fell at the first hurdle, and then … success!

John Campbell, the individual with the comic book idea, was not an entrepreneur. He risked other people’s money and then didn’t even have the decency to ship what he had produced even when he had it in his hand. He rails against Capitalism, but it is exactly that system which enables people to succeed as entrepreneurs. Which means he is a fraud and a phoney and has no respect for other people’s hard earned money. And the Kickstarter system enables people like him.

Exclusion and oppression are big words. Lots of groups of people have been excluded and oppressed over the ages of time. Only this week the Spanish government voted to allow descendents of the Spanish jews who were kicked out over 500 years ago to come back. Those that didn’t leave were generally burnt alive, so leaving was pretty much the only decision available to them. That is oppression and exclusion. You lose your house, your land, your business, your income, your prosperity, your social hub, your friends, your family, and possibly even your life. And it took 500 years to attempt to correct it.

So when I see those same two words used to make a point about video games, my initial reaction is somewhat along the lines of areyoufuckingkiddingme? When the argument in question is because an upcoming game hasn’t included playable female characters then I wonder why my brain is beginning to hurt so much. Because yes, someone really did use those words in this context. I’m not sure that because of this decision on the game designer’s part that she is going to lose all her possessions and be exiled to some lonely atoll, but hey, it’d be a start wouldn’t it.

Here is the post in question, from someone called Brenna Hillier. She is very upset, very upset indeed. How dare those nasty game designers release a game with a story where women aren’t involved. This is nasty and evil, and wait for it …

“… I’m actually deeply personally ashamed that it took a financial argument to convince me of this, given the inherent, objective immorality of exclusion and oppression …”

It’s funny, but I don’t remember thinking this back in the day when I was playing Lara Croft. None of the people I know were gnashing their teeth in rage because they couldn’t play a male character in that game. But that’s because we are gamers. For us, the game is the thing. It has always been the thing and so it shall always be. But people like Ms Brenna are not like us. They are political activists first and gamers second. Which means they are not interested in games, they are only interested in being fucking stupid.

I mean, really? You’re not going to play the game now even though you had been so looking forward to it?

“… I had been really, really looking forward to Deep Down. I would like to wake up tomorrow and find a statement from Capcom saying the translation was bungled somehow, and that playable female characters will be included in the game – if not at launch, then by god as part of a 100% free patch in the near future …”

So don’t play the game then. Who gives a shit? Go back to pretending that you’re being excluded and oppressed. You don’t need to play a game because you already exist in a fantasy world.

UPDATE: Vox Popoli has a good reply to this as well: http://voxday.blogspot.com.au/2014/02/why-we-dont-put-girls-in-games.html

So according to Paul Mason writing in that bastion of balanced political views, The Guardian, computer games, and specifically Skyrim, can help overthrow Capitalism. Who wouldda thought it? Here’s the crux of his argument:

“… But what if you could choose to play any of these games without trying to gain wealth through conquest, violence or the mercantile capitalist strategy of buying cheap and selling dear? What if you could pursue a strategy to create things collaboratively, outside the market, and give the basic necessities of life away for free? Would you be able, singly or in groups, to screw the slash-and-grab economy so badly that you forced it into a transition state beyond destructive competition?”

Apparently delusion knows no bounds. Look Paul, I appreciate the effort that must have gone into this astoundingly complicated piece, but taking away from the fact that under a socialist community commune Skyrim wouldn’t have been developed in the first place, your argument shows a complete lack of understanding of the online community, and thus human behaviour itself. Far from working in groups to screw the slash-and-grab economy, players would circumvent this in any number of ways. Firstly, there would be a well-meaning and misguided core group of followers who would throw themselves into this great idea at its inception. They would soon become jaded however, at discovering that their efforts were being splurged on by coat-riding slackers who would sign up after promising to do all the required work only to do next to nothing while taking as much of the group’s output as they could get away with.

Que the next inevitable step where the collective sets up a series of rules and restrictions designed to counter this unscrupulous behaviour only to discover that all it does is restrict their own core membership while a few individuals at the top skim off all the profits under the guise of benevolent leadership while ruthlessly purging any members unwise enough to speak out until the whole thing self-implodes in a wave of acrimony and pain. If anything it sounds like just about every guild of which I’ve ever been a member.

But the real hilarity would ensue if this was done in a sandbox virtual world. Can you imagine the licking of lips in anticipation of raiding the “communist socialist popular gnomish front” and taking all their hard-earned gains while skewering them just for good measure? I don’t even want to think about this possibility as I may get too excited and the people next door will call the police on me again.

Mr Paul Mason continues with: “… These are good questions, because a whole school of economists thinks what they describe is the basic problem facing us in the real world.”

No, they’re not good questions, Paul. They’re fucking brain-dead questions. And the fact that you talk about this in terms of the real world and then go on to cite someone from the Harvard Law school, that bastion of ivory-tower group-think which bares no relation to any real world that any half-sane person comes into contact with, (although to be fair, at least he didn’t try to quote some from the Harvard school of Economics), just shows how ridiculous all this is. I mean, Wikipedia? Really? That’s your example of something that creates a glitch within Capitalism? Of course it does, you moron. It’s free. Although, just about every time I open it there’s a pathetic appeal for funds which seem to grow even more desperate with every passing week. Maybe that’s because they’re discovering that providing a free service does not put bread on your table, let alone pay for the bandwidth. But hey, you guys at The Guardian are making such an awesome profit, right?

As to be expected there are many comments deriding Mr Mason’s ability to think rationally about this matter. The best comment? It has to be this one:

“… I was once a capitalist swine like you until I took an arrow to the knee.”

Thank God for that.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/no-longer-a-crime-to-be-an-incorrigible-rogue/story-e6frg6so-1226782301291

I went to Perth last weekend for a few days and didn’t take my computer, so no gaming, no internet, and much catching up and boozing. The good wife and I joined some old friends at a new bar in Perth specialising in American whiskey. We sampled the 23 year old Pappy van Winkle and found it to be well worth the $80 price per 30ml nip. Jetsetting back into Melbourne I then had a meeting with my editor who has finished examining the second draft of my book. This we dissected and managed to come up with a way of solving a structural problem which had reared its ugly head. This will probably consume my time for the next week or so.

I have dipped into the Emerald Dream, but my dipping has been sporadic. I’m still sitting at level 26 so for those of you who are trying to catch up to me I’m sure you’ll be able to as I won’t be on for the time I’ll be working on the revision. If you do see me on then I am obviously being a very naughty boy indeed. The other news is that I have been selected for my first cricket match with my new club and I’ll be playing this Sunday. I would like to think that I will make a glorious debut but let’s be honest here: I’m just going to try and not stuff up too much. I have my flashy new whites and a nice new helmet which I have been busy scruffing up so I don’t appear too much like the returning newbie that I am. Stay tuned for a match report next week. Exciting stuff.

Yesterday I wrote why the newbie blogger initiative is a poor idea. But I left out the biggest reason to back up my view on this so as to make a seperate post of it today. Not just to wring blood out of a stone, but because I consider it to be so important. Milady commented yesterday that:

“… I know one of the organizers for this year and I can assure you that he is only thinking of attracting more people into the ‘fold’ …”

This actually sums up the greatest issue I have with this idea of forming what will ultimately become a bloggers collective. When a group is formed you are either in the group or out of it. Being left out of a group can lead to disallusionment and feelings of resentment that the excluded are not part of the clique. The knock-on effect can be that people who were once willing, engaged and active participants now decide that this is not a place for them. And they may well be right in making that decision. I am not talking about bloggers who are not in the cool blogging collective. I am talking about you, my friends. The readers.

Forming a clear and identifiable group of bloggers merely serves to highlight to the average reader that they are not part of that group. To me the most valuable comments I receive on my blog are from people that I have never heard from before. Perhaps they have been reading the blog for some time before they find the urge to write a comment. It can be a big deal to write that first comment and then wait to see if the blogger has responded or if other people have weighed in with their thoughts. The average reader does not have a link on their name to their own blog. They have no vested interest in making a comment. They are doing it because they are engaged to a level where they want to participate. That is priceless, and if you are a blogger those are the most valuable readers on your site.

I called yesterday’s post a circle-jerk, and that was with reference to this idea today. Bloggers posting on other people’s blogs, bloggers writing a post in response to someone else’s blog post, these are things that occur on a regular basis and they are fine. The readership puts up with it, even though I know for a fact that it annoys some readers a fair bit of the time. But making a blogging clique is taking it too far. This merely serves to rub it in the face of the reader that they are not part of this group. They are not on the same level. They are not as important or valued as other readers who also happen to blog.

Authors do not form cliques that alienate the reader while they ingest the product. Nor do journalists, or musicians or film-makers. There are however, some isolated examples of these groups doing just that. The film Oceans 12 is a prime example of this. The first film in the series was a big success, the second not so much. The reason was because the film-makers and the actors made the film for themselves. The audience were not in on the joke, unlike the first and third films in the series. You can’t do this and expect the audience to put up with it. At best the NBI posts disengage the general reader. At worst they cause them to never come back. And who can blame them? The posts are certainly not for them so why should they read the blog?

This NBI thing won’t alienate every reader, far from it. But it will piss off some. And how much it will have a detrimental effect is unknown. There should be no reason to make such a visible group of this nature. If people want to know how to blog they can ask. But really, what is there to know? You blog when you feel that commenting on blogs is not enough for you and you have more to say. In other words, you have your own beliefs and opinions that you have a strong desire to put out there on a visible basis. If there is any value to your opinions you will attract readers. If not, then you won’t. Couple that with writing on a regular basis so that readers keep coming back and you should be able to develop a clear voice over time. Joining a group usually means that you end up following the group’s beliefs and opinions. I have seen group think evolve many times in my life and this will be no different. If you’re serious about writing a blog I would stay far away. Successful blogs, the ones that readers keep coming back to, are unique.

There is another push to get poor unwitting people to become MMO bloggers, and now they have their very own site so it’s official and everything. I wrote about this last year when this syndrome rose its ugly head, and my views have not changed in the last twelve months. Here is what I wrote that best sums up my feelings on the matter:

“… Obviously being a person who blogs about videogames is not felt to be high on the legitimisation scale. So they believe that if they pull lots more people into their chosen activity, then by default of weight of numbers their activity, (blogging), will now be somehow more respectable …”

But there are a couple of further points that I now wish to raise concerning this topic. The first is these people’s assumption that more MMO bloggers is of itself a good thing, a worthy cause if you like. Are we sure about this though? Why are more voices to be encouraged to join what is already a vastly overcrowded field a good thing? If anything we should have a blogging cull, and get rid of some of the dead wood that’s floating along riding the coat-tails of talented, respectable, and dare I say it, handsome bloggers such as myself. Check out the killtenrats blogroll if you don’t belive me. I dare you to count how many blogs there are on that list. I can’t, because I’m not able to count that high because my parents mistreated me. But you can. That’s a lot of blogs. Are people able to read this many blogs, on the same subject, every fucking day?

I don’t think so. Thus, the first premise holds up. We don’t need more blogs about MMOs or videogames in general. We need to have a blogging cull. My second point naturally becomes, why are these people still doing this? I mean, how many blogs are still around from last year’s effort? I don’t know, I can’t find any info about this. I’ll bet my nutsack however that a bunch of people started blogs that were abandoned faster than a Polish position in front of a Panzer division. But I think I know why these bloggers are so invested in being kind and helpful and all-knowing to people who most probably didn’t even realise that they so desperately wanted to become a blogger. It gives them vindication, yes, I wrote that last year. But it also gets more people on their side. What? I hear you say. There are sides? Of course there are sides, dear reader. We are witnessing one being busily created. By doing this NBI thing they are slowly pulling in more like-minded people who might well suck as bloggers, (and hey, if you need special help to work out how the fuck to put up a blog and write words then I reckon the suck factor is going to be up there with my pal Linda L), but they will all be on the same team. And thus, by default, when their team gets large, when it has lots and lots and lots of “bloggers” then they will be able to implement phase 2 of their dastardly plan which I also wrote about last year:

“… The next step along this line is the desire to partake in the imposition of new rules concerning bloggers in an attempt to “raise the bar” and “clean up their act”. Now the true control freaks will rise to the surface much like scum floating on top of your nice pot of fresh chicken stock. Stay tuned for this one …”

In the real world in the fields that I am a recognised expert, I have noticed the curious phenomenon of the least able of the field always being the ones that end up appointing themselves the go-to experts and organisers. It’s their way of making up for the fact that they basically suck. And of course they end up sucking in their role as self-appointed expert as well. But gullible people get sucked in, and that’s the way of the world I suppose. Now I am not insinuating that the organisers of the NBI all suck, no-sir-ee. I leave my dear readers to make that decision for themselves.

September being my best blogging month for close to three years, I wanted to close it off with another post. The problem is what to write. I’ve only logged on once in the last few days, and in that time I ran around, killed some things, avoided some high level horde raiders, and mourned the state of my gear. Not really that exciting and certainly not blog worthy. Then again, most things I see written, (and most probably write myself), just aren’t that blog worthy. This makes me wonder what the definition of worthiness for a blog post might be. Perhaps it would be something that causes me to continue reading after the first few lines. I jumped over to Nil’s blog just now to have a look at his blog list and see what other bloggers were writing about. I clicked on a few of them, but each time I began to read I found my eyes glazing over of their own accord and I skipped to the next one. And so on, repeat ad infinitum.

For those of you who have managed to get this far, on what seems like becoming a suitable nothing blog post, I applaud my own powers of captivation and your own willingness to suspend disbelief. The thing that has kept me away from playing make-believe online video games and forced me out into the real world where the sun shines and people make hay, is the beginning of the cricket season. I am involved in this noble pursuit as a proud card-carrying member of my local cricket club. The fact that I haven’t played any form of competitive cricket since the year 1988, a year I may add that certain of my team mates were not even born, gave me some pause a few weeks ago when the notion of joining first arose.

For I find myself living in a city which is new to me and where I know literally a handful of people. While playing MMOs is certainly fun it does nothing for mixing with the social set, so I cast around for some medium with which I could meet people with the least amount of pain involved. Thus I cast aside kickboxing, social chess, and the horror of political association, and came up with my favourite childhood sports activity. It turns out that I am still quite passable, at least on the bowling front. Getting my eye in while holding a cricket bat has been somewhat of a greater hurdle, but that is progressing nicely at this point. I did pull some sort of ligament in my back the other week in my over-exuberence at casting down missiles to make batsmen quiver, but all in all it’s proving to be an inspired choice for widening my social horizons and getting back into shape. Plus I’m hoping that the younger lads will all be of the sort to entertain bevies of local beauties to whom I can cast an appraising eye while sipping my post-game gin and tonic washed down with a couple of bottles of Verve.

I will of course continue to blog on video-game thingamajiggys, but perhaps it is best to not get too used to the whirlwind of posting activity that has enthralled all 23.5 of you this month.

There are no achievements in Vanilla WoW, obviously, as the system wasn’t implemented until much later. But having played both before and during the achievement period, it is interesting to go back to the game when the achievement system was not in place. I have always considered the achievement system to be one of firmly tieing players down into the role of a mouse on a never-ending treadmill. No thought is required – achievement will pop up for doing some banal act, which is of itself completely the opposite of what I would consider an actual achievement to be, and this then sends the player off on a mindless merry-go-round to collect more of the same achievements, usually for no better goal than having a title above their head that should read, “Not only do I have no life or brain but I have no awareness of either.”

But then I considered the early quest system. I mean, is this much better? Isn’t this more of the same, the mindless running-around for not very much which is merely designed to keep us busy? Actually I think it is different in a variety of ways. Firstly there are tangible rewards, experience, gold and gear, as well as reputation with different factions which enable you to purchase other gear. So there is a tangible benefit. Also, a lot of these early quest lines are very good indeed. I’m presently involved in the old hunt for that nasty Stavlan fellow. It’s a nice atmospheric detective story which is keeping me nicely entertained even the second time around. Admittedly quite a few of the Vanilla quests are downright terrible, the pages of Stranglethorn Vale anyone? And a good many are simply kill a certain number of floozles. But they create a foundation of meaning in the world with which the player can do as they please. Which is in of itself a choice. You can choose to take a quest or you can choose that it is not for you, for whatever reason. Maybe you don’t like that style of quest, maybe you don’t want to go to that area, maybe you hate quests in general and will only do one for a specific piece of gear.

Achievements leave you no choice, at least as far as I can remember. You’re running through a zone and BAM! – achievement simply for wandering through a zone, aren’t you great???? Well, actually no, I think that this is facile and condescending and a pile of doggy-poo, but I have no choice in the matter. I must participate in this system and the more I am forced to do so the more infuriated I become. Much much worse is when I inadvertently find myself willingly participating in the mindless madness. For the achievement system is simply a cheap and unimaginative way of disguising the fact that the game designers are not prepared to put much more effort into the world. The rationale is to keep the players running around, nice and busy, on the mindless spinning-wheel so they don’t notice that the designers are not doing really that much that’s inspiring any more.

It is so nice to play in a world with no achievements. The only achievement here is are you any good at playing your class and that has to be earned the hard way. And more importantly, with some modicum of effort. Achievements are the MMO gaming version of political correctness; every child has to get a ribbon for running in the race. Which pretty soon makes all ribbons worthless except to the truly deluded. Which is most of you. So go back to your achievements, why do I care anyway?

I got a whisper from an unknown quantity wanting to know if I wanted to do a Blackfathom Deeps run. I was helping some other players fight some elite mobs but on hearing this I dropped that group like a hot potato. There’s some good rogue loots in BFD and I desperately need some upgrades. I joined the group and saw that only one player was in the Ashenvale area. As I handed in a couple of quests I dinged 24 so I let them know that I wanted to level up my skills in Stormwind and they were fine with that. I got to Stormwind and did what I had to do. By this stage the others had all made it to Ashenvale but on the map I noticed that they were running across the map towards the Raynewood Retreat, in other words in the opposite direction from where the instance is located. This was troubling. They had also been carrying on a conversation for some time debating whether it was more fun playing WoW on weed or acid. I was beginning to have sincere doubts about how this was going to proceed.

Somehow they sorted themselves out and eventually I got a summons. There was a paladin tank, a paladin healer, a warlock and another rogue. Clearing up to the entrance went well, and then we cleared the mobs to the first pool. Swimming across I suddenly remembered the old BFD jumping test that was looming, but I cleared the obstacles with epic grace as did the other rogue. Then we waited there while the other party members spent a good deal of time falling into the water. As we proceeded I noticed that the other rogue wasn’t watching her threat. At all. In all other aspects she was very skilled, but the tank wasn’t getting a look-in. I sent her a whisper to give the tank a few more second before unloading and I got the reply that she didn’t speak English.

The first boss went down without too many issues and we proceeded down towards the murlocks, but now I was beginning to understand that the real issue here was the tank. From the previous conversation I knew that he was stoned but that still didn’t quite excuse the total lack of initiative now on display. He seemed unable to pull any mobs. We would stand there, and he would stand there, and someone would suggest something, and still nothing would happen, and on and on and on. The other rogue decided that enough was enough and she became the expert puller, creeping in to distract, hit a sap, gouge another one while running full pelt back to us whereon finally the tank shambled forward as threads of drool hung down from his chin. At this point I would unload as the other rogue had no chance of dumping the threat until we balanced things out somewhat while the tank ran back and forth wondering what day it was.

The rogue began to just use her bow to pull, even on bosses. I pleaded with the tank to at least mark some of the mobs so we would have a vague idea of who we needed to take down. This happened occasionally. Other times it didn’t. We wiped once when the rogue pulled a bunch of mobs at once and the warlock forgot that he had AoE attacks. Finally we got to the second last boss, where we got him down. I bent down to light one of the flames and as I stood up I saw that three other players had done exactly the same thing. Oh oh. The walls opened up and we got pounded. Somehow one of the paladins didn’t die and managed to rez everyone and then we took out each group one by one. Unfortunately the door to the final boss refused to open due to some bug. I had got zero drops as everything had been mail or cloth and the whole thing had taken over two hours from first contact. I thanked the others for the run, polite to the end. They all agreed that it was a great group. I hearthed the fuck outta there.

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