The Greater Picture: Gamer Culture and the latest scandal

I’m currently writing my thesis on the subject of narrative in video games, a crossroad project between literature theory and games studies, so it is safe to assume that I love video games. But there are moments where I loathe those who play video games, the gamers, especially when there are situations like the one that has been playing out lately, namely the “Zoe Quinn Scandal” (And no, you don’t have to tell me that it isn’t all gamers. But it is the most public and visible face of gamers and gaming culture.) An angry mob, hiding behind the anonymity and safety of the internet, attacking and spreading hate towards her for her personal life and the fact that she is a gaming media celebrity. Here is a short summary of the situation; an angry ex posts on his blog about her alleged infidelity and her relationships with several people in the gaming news industry, which re-ignites the hate-campaign that was aimed at Quinn earlier on, in connection with the release of her game Depression Quest. She is accused of using sex and contacts to promote herself and her work and for actively destroying other people’s work, of using friends in “high places” (i.e. forum mods) to silence opposition against her and more.

 

I can go further into the details, but I won’t bother, there are few facts and too many conspiracies and too much hate, and it all started with a biased post by a person making public what is their private life. Yet none of this actually matters; this blatant attack on her and her person is just a disgusting witch-trial. The focus should be on the state of video game journalism, not her sex- and private life. The focus should be on how the gaming-community handles the situation. I’m not trying to defend Quinn and her actions, I don’t care about them and I don’t really care that much about her; if you’re not her or sleeping with her, then it’s none of your concerns, simple as that. Her sex life has nothing to do with you; the accusations of corruption and the state of video game journalism are the only things that should be discussed. No matter the gender of those involved. Gender has no part of this.

 

The fact that video game journalists, and others in similar positions, open them selves up for such accusations of corruption (whether they are true or not) point to a need for change. While I am a firm believer that no one can truly be objective, it is a goal to strive for where it comes to journalism. Do not put yourself in a compromising situation, be open about the situation and make sure that your audience knows it. If you have a connection with the person or company in question, be upfront about it, so that no one can question your legitimacy. It’s as simple as that. It is journalism 101.

 

If the accusations concerning Quinn and the journalists et.al. are true, then that is a horrible case of corruption and a loss of integrity for all those concerned, both individuals and businesses. What Owen Grieve discusses here is rather important:

 

“There are campaigners out there who genuinely think that any friendship between journalists and developers is an immediate conflict of interest that illegitimises their reporting. I can sympathise with this sentiment, although I have to add that I think it’s kinda misguided. I basically see two sides behind this line of thinking – people who have no experience of game development or journalism (who simply don’t know what they’re talking about) and developers who are angry because they don’t know any journalists and feel unfairly ignored (which is a valid criticism of an unfair system, but I don’t consider it a sign of moral decay – people can’t write about you if they don’t know who you are, and sadly there isn’t some Meritocracy Fairy who will get journalists’ attention for you, which is one of the many reasons I hammer on about the importance of networking in Advice For Students).” [Source]

 

Connections and the use of connections lies at the core of journalism, it is how you discover content to publish, but the reverse is also true; connections with journalists and the use of those connections is necessary to get your own content (be it a product or an opinion) put forward. It’s all about working the angles. But there is a limit to how far you can go before you lose your integrity, when you end up in a conflict of interest.

 

Another interesting point to all of this has been put forward by Carolyn Petit:

Inherent in the statement that, by being an “activist”—which, here, I take to mean “someone who has attempted to raise certain questions and concerns about the meanings present in some games”—I’ve failed at being a “journalist,” is the idea that journalists don’t ever try to challenge existing power structures or political ideologies or give a voice to the voiceless or any such thing, that the role of journalists is always to simply dryly report the “facts” in such a way that never favors one “side” of an issue over another, but always presents both as equal, even when those sides are not equal at all.”[Source]

 

And I agree with her. Journalists can be activists; as I mentioned earlier, nobody can be truly objective, and you should not be. We need journalists to have a critical voice and to present causes and subjects to us. That means that they will have their own causes, that mean that they will be biased. There is no getting away from that. But I will also repeat myself: There is a limit to how far you can go before you lose your integrity. Petit goes on to say: Games are not politically neutral. Neither are mainstream romantic comedies, or action films, or any novel I’ve ever read. They may sometimes appear politically neutral if the values they reinforce mesh with the value systems of the larger culture, but our culture is not politically neutral, either, and it is not outside of the role of a critic to comment on or raise questions about the political meanings embedded in the works one evaluates.”

 

But the witch-trial against Quinn and against Sarkeesian? That has no place anywhere; if you are against their opinions and what they stand for, discuss it, do not attack them, and do not threaten to rape them or to murder them. Do not fucking force them to leave their homes because you make them feel unsafe. I’m surprised that this is something that people have to be told. Seriously. It isn’t Quinn and Sarkeesian that is ruining gamer-culture; it is gamers who do shit like this. Something that has become a rather hot topic lately, where several people have begun discussing the term “gamer” and gamer-culture.

 

I’ve written about this ugly side of gamer-culture earlier [linkie] and it hasn’t changed much since then, unfortunately. It also shows a side of gamer culture that is a far more serious situation than this scandal; it shows the ugly face of it. The fact that gamers are willing to attack someone in this manner, that gamers are willing to whip themselves into a frenzy over this. If we focus on Quinn, we see but a minuscule part of the greater picture. If the accusations put forward are true, her actions and those of the others involved are at best questionable and at worst critique-worthy. Quinn’s actions, if verified, are largely a domestic situation, the journalists’ et.al. actions are a question of journalistic integrity or business etiquette. But the outlash, the attacks against her as a person, the threats and the hate, this is at best deplorable, likewise in the situation with Anita Sarkeesian. This is the greater picture; how gamers react in the situation.

 

This toxicity that is running rampant in gamer culture, or at least what some people want gamer culture to be and who claim to have the power to define what gamer culture is and isn’t, what a gamer is and isn’t. This is the greater picture.

 

What I’ve seen so far shows this: People are conducting a witch-hunt against her, they’re not being critical or making a stand against her and her opinions, they’re building a fucking firepit in the middle of the town square and getting ready to put here to the bloody torch. Not because she did something wrong, but simply because they don’t like her. Though I’m sure some of those that feel struck by this will argue otherwise.

 

This is the filth let off its reins. The beast hungry for its spectacle. The mob smelling blood. This is the ugly face of gamer culture, and more and more its becoming the public face of gamer culture. Unfortunately. We’re creeping closer and closer to the ugly caricature that Jack “Games-cause-serial-murders” Thompson claimed we were.

 

Is it any wonder that people have begun calling the term “gamer” dead? [link] That people are beginning to see the way we describe ourselves as a pejorative? Personally, I’ve begun to disdain gamer culture because of situations like this; how we treat the new voices in our medium, how we treat those of our own that have the guts to criticize and to innovate, how we refuse to let others come into our playground, how we treat the Other and see ourselves superior to it. This disgusts me. We need debate and we need criticism.

 

If you are outspoken and critical about games, especially if you’re female, you’re a target. You’re not taken seriously, you’re attacked. You’re not debated with, you’re ridiculed. The angry, anonymous mob is attacking the messenger, not the message. This has to stop if games are to grow as a medium, we need to be able to discuss games and what games are if games are to evolve and not stagnate, as both an art form and as a form of entertainment. We can see it in both of the campaigns against Zoe Quinn and we can see it in the campaign against Anita Sarkessian, of Feminist Frequency and Tropes vs Women in Video Games-fame. If you say something negative against video games, if you criticize them, people will hate you and they will attack you. Why? Is it that they are afraid that someone will come and take their toys away? That they are afraid that they’ll have to share their toys with women and girls? Video games are not above criticism, nothing is above criticism. Personally, I think it is a symptom that video games as a medium and cultural product is growing up, becoming more refined, but that a lot of people are having trouble keeping up with this growth, seeing all change as a danger to themselves and their identity, their sense of self. Change after all, can be scary. Mind you, this is not a defense of these people and their antics, merely a hypothesis on where it comes from.

 

Video games and games culture have not seen as much criticism and study from within its own ranks as it has the last few years, and this is a good thing. We’re starting to see what we are and who we are and how we fit into the larger picture of the world, as nothing exists in isolation. We’re coming into territory where other cultural products, film and literature for instance, have already been living for quite some time. It hasn’t destroyed either of them and it won’t destroy us. We need more voices in gaming, fresh voices with fresh perspectives. Even if that scares some people. We need not only to allow other voices than those that have so far been dominant, both on the consumer end and the producer end, to have a go at the medium, but to actually encourage these other voices. Race and gender issues are amongst what we need these voices to bring. The rampant voices that shout that women can’t be gamers and that women don’t actually enjoy video games are horrifying.

 

This isn’t an attempt to censor content or stifle creativity; this isn’t the purpose of critique. Critiques are reflections on the medium and the content of the medium. Criticism is essential for further development; this is true for all aspects of human culture, we critique and review in order to evolve our culture. Criticism is not telling game developers what they can or cannot do, but it is giving them an opinion on what they do. Sexism and objectification of women is one of the headlights on video game critique the last few years, which are valid topics, especially as women are making a greater foray into gaming, both as consumers and producers. This is the foundation of Anita Sarkeesian’s Feminist Frequency, for instance. It is both a thorough interpretation and analysis of video game past and an attempt to broaden video game future, to further establish room for exploration of the medium. Allowing new voices does not mean that the old voices are pushed away, but the medium is growing and there will come a time when old voices become irrelevant to the current situation. This does not invalidate them, be they opinions or content, but it means that the medium and the community has evolved to a different place, where what that voice says no longer is relevant. We simply need to look towards film as a medium, where there is now a long tradition of criticism and interpretations, where theories, interpretations and forms of criticism has grown and evolved, leaving some behind as new theories et.al. have appeared. Film and film creators have not had their creativity stifled, but their content and their message is open to criticism and we need the same situation with video games. But the important part to remember: Keep it civil.

 

I read somewhere that the average gamer is in their late 20′s and early 30′s, i.e. the Nintendo generation. We’re growing up and we need the medium that we love and cherish to grow up with us and we need to be open about this, open and upfront, public about this.

 

This is an open letter to the gaming community, from several game creators, from both triple-A studios, indie studios and academics:

 

“We believe that everyone, no matter what gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or religion has the right to play games, criticize games and make games without getting harassed or threatened. It is the diversity of our community that allows games to flourish.

If you see threats of violence or harm in comments on Steam, YouTube, Twitch, Twitter, Facebook or reddit, please take a minute to report them on the respective sites.

If you see hateful, harassing speech, take a public stand against it and make the gaming community a more enjoyable space to be in.”  

The letter can be found here

We need that those people who love games are vocal and make it known that those spewing this sort of hatred are not all there is to “gamer culture”, even if it might seem that the term has reached the end of its life. We need to be able to discuss and debate what games are and what games mean, both as content and to us as individuals.

 

People who play games are all ethnicities, all genders and sexual identities, all ages, all political viewpoints, all economical situations, and all nationalities. Games are a way to allow all these voices a channel in which to express themselves, where we can learn their stories and their ideas. There is room enough for us all. That means that there will be content that you, personally, might not agree with or like, but there is room for it none the less and even if there wasn’t room, we should make room for it.

 

Sin City

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There are those night, when you head out to town, that you know the mood in the city is a bit… off… Those nights where you know that people aren’t happy, they’re just fucked up and want to fuck each other up. I noticed it this night as I was heading out; the mood was wrong. People weren’t happy, people weren’t enjoying themselves, they were just looking for an excuse to get pissed off at someone. Drunk, way-too-cocky-looking-to-make-a-scene people in the line at the bar, ordering all the shots they could before the bouncer tossed their ass out, making a bloody fool of themselves as they were tossed out, then starting a fight with someone, anyone, on the streets as the bars are closing and people are making their way home.

Maybe it’s just an occupational hazard, but I’ve started to feel this more and more. When the city is wrong, you know it and you know it at the bottom of your heart. You might have a bloody good time, meet nice people, have fun with friends and drink your worries away, but deep down, you’re always weary that something might suddenly explode and it usually does. Tonight had all of the above, the drunken bro cutting in the bar queue and daring anyone to say anything as he orders a ton of shots to show how much of a man he is, the bunch of inbred idiots fighting it out in front of the bar as it closed and everyone had to leave. For what reason they fought, who the fuck knows? Maybe one of the guys didn’t compliment the other guy’s penis well enough?

It’s those nights when people become angry children, throwing tantrums and acting out. Angry, drunk toddlers that shout, act out and demand attention because mommy didn’t love them enough. Is it any wonder that I loathe people? There are moments and weekends where I miss being a bouncer, but then you have these nights and it is then that I remember why I quit being a bouncer. People are idiots and immature, and if you add alcohol and drugs to the mix it just intensifies. Tonight I just stood and watched, from a proper distance, as the inbreed idiots duked it out and screamed and shouted in the middle of the street, then running away like scared little children caught with their hand in the cookie jar when the police arrived. Normally, I’ll try to break up a fight if I see one, but on nights like these… I’d rather watch the world burn as the idiots play with matches.

King of Monsters

Tonight has been movie night, the night when I’ve dropped working on my thesis to just relax and actually watch some movies. Not that I don’t drop working on my thesis or watch a lot of movies at other times, I usually have Netflix showing some kind of cheesy horror movie in the background while I try to “work”. Admittedly, I am not the best at focusing, but I am getting better, much better. Cutting back on caffeine has helped. Too much coffee is not good anymore, I am not as young as I once was and thus I cannot subside on a diet of only caffeine, nicotine and alcohol, however much I so wish.  So, tonight I actually sit my ass down to watch some movies instead of just having them on in the background and somewhat paying “attention” to them. Seriously, butchering and screams from horror movies is my version of white noise.

But I digress; tonight has been movie night and I finally got around to watching Godzilla. I love Godzilla, he is my spirit animal. Huge, goofy and grumpy. He’s like a scaly panda. And I digress again. Anywho, after Godzilla from 1998, I had lost hope that there would be a good Americanized Godzilla movie. That movie was a colossal piece of shit that ate away at all that is good and just about Godzilla as a concept. I prefer to think of it in the terms presented by Twisted Kaiju Theater; G.I.N.O. (Godzilla In Name Only). G.I.N.O. was an abomination, and that is pretty harsh, what with later entries into the Godzilla series were a bit… strange and silly. But that strange and silly was good, it didn’t try to be anything but strange and silly. It was part of the charm.

Now then, the new Godzilla movie. I’m considering investing in a better sound system just for this movie. I love Big Ass Monster Movies and this delivered and did so with flying colors. I’m not saying that it didn’t have its flaws, it had plenty of those, but it was good. It more than made up for the failure of G.I.N.O. I wish that Godzilla himself and his Kaiju friends had gotten some more screen time, since I was hoping for a movie about Godzilla, not a movie about Godzilla as basically a background plot for the stories of the human characters, who were good-ish actors for a huge budget B-movie. But then again, I’m not watching a Big Ass Monster Movie for the quality of the actors, I’m watching it for the world to shake and my spine to tremble as the Big Ass Monster lets out a earth shattering roar that defies the heavens and proves once and for all who the one true God is. In case you didn’t understand, that means Godzilla. Godzilla is the one true god. It’s in the name.

I’ve been cruising on the wave of Cloverfield to satisfy my urge for a modern Big Ass Monster movie and Godzilla has now returned from the abyss of the ocean to reclaim his glory. Thank God. The Godzilla franchise has been close to my heart ever since I was a wee little lad, sneaking out from bed in the dead of night in the weekends to watch the movies on late night TV after my parents had drifted off to sleep. The first one I saw was Godzilla vs. Mothra (1964) and for a little kid, that was just magical. Huge, colorful and strange monsters fighting and destroying everything, parts exciting and parts scary. It was pure movie magic, that fantasy dreamland that a good movie drags you into and you take with you when you leave. Then came the others, in random order and out of context from each other, not that these movies need much of a context or a continuity, they’re Big Ass Monster Movies after all. If kids these days have grown up on Harry Potter and Twilight, I grew up on Godzilla. Fuck, if I remember correct I think I saw the Godzilla movies before I even saw Star Wars.

I do believe it’s time for a Godzilla marathon, both to watch the good old ones and to catch up on the newer ones that have passed me by. I think the latest one I saw was Godzilla 2000: Millenium (1999), so I’ve got at least 4-5 movies to catch up on, as far as I can remember. They’re not good movies, but they’re awesome b-movies with a certain magic that only they can deliver, and this is what I loved about the new american version; it was big budget and expensive CGI, but it still had that movie magic that you got from the old movies, just turned up to eleven for both scale and awesomeness. New and shiny, but still Godzilla as we know and love him from our friends at Toho.

 

-Still a Big Ass Monster Bastard-

Polar bears are not meant for heatwaves

Yet another day of scorching heat. Hooray… 30+ degress celsius is not ideal temperature for thinking work, and when there is no wind to occationally lick your body with its cool tongue, it is even worse. Sitting at a sidewalk coffeeshop trying to stay alive with some iced coffee and, I kid you not, the world smells like it is about to catch fire. Violent, scorching fire.

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Deadlines be damned in this weather! Now I shall enjoy the rest of my iced awesome and look at pretty girls in sun dresses, I can worry about writing in the evening when it gets cooler.

-Still a hot bastard-

Everybody expects the Thedian Inquisition

I’ve been keeping an eye on the latest videos and other information about the new Dragon Age: Inquisition game from Bioware, like 90% of the rest of the internet, and the more I see of it, the more I can’t wait to get my dirty little hands on.The updates promise a game that will deliver several things that I’ve been wishing for in gaming, especially when it comes to narrative. I expect great things from this game from that perspective. The significance of choices, play style, companions utilized, they promise that all of this will have a meaningful impact on the overall experience. The more agency, the happier I am. Hopefully it will not just be window dressing, but actual meaningful play and meaningful narrative agency. That is the reason why I fell in love with CD Project RED’s the Witcher and, to a certain degree, the Witcher 2 (which was somewhat weaker in the delivery; less difference in kind and more difference in degree when it comes to choices and agency).

I admit, I love games that focus upon narrative, more than those that focuses upon play, which is why I rarely bother with multiplayer games, save for those few evenings with a some buddies and some beers. I love a good story, and games are capable of telling very good stories, in ways that we haven’t been told stories before. It is the shaping of a story, to see that our own interpretation of a story is brought to life, that intrigues me. This is part of what disappointed me when it came to Mass Effect 3, the feeling I was left with that I had no proper agency when it came to the outcome of the game, but I am hopeful that Bioware has learned from this experience. Sixth time is the charm, right? (Counting the two series as “one” is justified in the similarities between the two game systems, in my opinion). Though it has to be said, I love the conclusion to the Mass Effect series and think it was a solid entry into the series, so don’t get me wrong.

Deep and meaningful play is what I can see in the videos they’ve shown so far, and I am hoping that they will deliver in the final product. I just hate the wait until October, and hoping that there will be no further delays, ’cause damn I want to play this. Also, how many times will I repeat the word “meaningful”? It’s starting to lose its meaning.

-A meaningful bastard-

Summertime, fun time, not-getting-any-work-done-time

I love the summer, don’t get me wrong, but Oslo has recently been struck by either thunderstorms or heatwaves. Either of which fuck me up royally when it comes to getting work done. I feel like I’ve been walking around with a headache for the last month. Not a great idea when I’m stretching a deadline further and further. But, it can’t rain all the time and as the temperature has taken a turn for survivable, the work commences yet again. And with that, we can enjoy the summertime. And the sundresses. How I’ve missed you, sundresses. You make me smile all day long, while I’m sitting on a sidewalk pub, having a beer to cool down and try to survive the heat. That is one good thing about a heatwave, the sundresses become more sunny, and skimpier. Who doesn’t love skimpy sundresses?

I kinda lost track of where I was going with this. I’m not sure I had somewhere I was going with this. Sundresses… they have that effect.

It is reassuring to see that people smile a lot more as the sun brightens up a dreary everyday and people take their clothes off in the park, to just lounge about and simply enjoy life. What is life for, if not for enjoying? Which reminds me that I haven’t seen Candyman in ages, should dig out that DVD from where ever I put it. Probably gathering dust, as most physical formats do these days thanks to the digital revolution. Wireless is the way to go, as the great prophet once said. Either way, happy faces all around, ‘cept for those that fake it and haven’t quite made it yet, but A+ for trying. Save the sulking for the winter, it is what I do.

It is now just a few short weeks until I head for the mountains to go fishing, barbecuing and drinking while the sun gently licks my bearded face and Dog licks my toes. I wish I could get her to stop that, but can’t teach a old bitch new tricks, and you can’t make an old bitch stop doing something that she’s learned will have me giggling like a catholic schoolgirl so that she can steel food of my plate. I’ve been told it is a hilarious sight…

God, I could use a smoke right now. A proper cigarette and a cold beer. Unlike the cyborg cigarette and ice tea I’ve got at the moment. Cravings, why must they haunt me so? But it is time to stay strong and keep away from temptations. I SHALL BE STRONK! (Cue dramatic music and thunderstorm, ala old timey vampire movies)

-Still a bastard-

 

 

Have fun AND study?

This clip from Extra Credits is a bit old, first uploaded back in 2012 (the speed of content creation and evolution on the internet makes the tag “a bit old” strangely credible for something that happened only two years ago) but the message is one that strikes a chord with me and touches both upon what I am personally trying to do with my thesis and upon several views I’ve seen in people, both online and in real life: “Why do you bother studying games? they’re just games!” “Doesn’t studying games take the fun out of them?” Studying and understanding something does not  take away the fun of the subject, it opens up potential for MORE fun, not less.

 

 

-Still a bastard, but an updated one-

Vintage Car or Vintage Game?

Yesterday there was an article on Pressfire.no, that also was posted to VG.no, about a NES cartridge that was for sale on Ebay, the auction being finalized now, with the winning bid being just under $100k. You can read the Polygon article they referenced here. The cartridge in question is a very limited edition (116 cartridges all in all), namely one of the Nintendo World Championship cartridges from 1990, used in said tournament. As such, it is a rather unique memorabilia for the gaming culture. But I’ve seen and heard a lot of people both before and after this that were flabbergasted that “people would spend so much money on a GAME?!” But, on the other hand, if it had been a vintage car, it would barely have raised attention at all, despite that the car would most likely see as much use as the game would. It would be taken out for special occasions to show off, played with now and then, and the rest of the time put somewhere safe.

$100k is a lot of money for a piece of plastic, but it is also a lot of money for a car that you won’t use on an every day basis. It is a hobby, it is memories and it is love. It is most of all a luxury. The kids who grew up with the vintage cars and are interested in cars are willing to pay big bucks for cars that by today’s standards are not worth what they’re charging, just as the kids who grew up with vintage games and are willing to fork up for games that are far less by today’s standards.

I love the fact that we’re at the point where gaming culture has it’s own “vintage cars”, but I’m hoping that the shock value of it will eventually disappear.

-Still a nostalgic bastard-

The New Better You

On the subway on my way to Uni this morning I noticed an ad for Fresh Fitness, a gym chain that I’ve never heard of before. The ad said something along the lines of “are you tired of those sweaty, red faced, huffing people fresh from the gym next to you on the subway? Are you tired of those people going to the store in gym clothes to only buy healthy food? Join us and they won’t be annoying anymore!” First of all, I go to the gym and I eat healthy, but those people are annoying anyhow, and secondly, your idea is that if I am annoyed by some people I should just join them and all my troubles will disappear? Doesn’t sound like too good a deal, as I am rather annoyed by both religious nutjobs and neo-nazi scum too. But hey, if it will give me a change and a better life, who am I to argue?

-Still an annoyed bastard-

Snap goes the vertebrae!

Ruts. Ruts are terrible things to be stuck in, kinda like a soggy armpit of that smelly, hairy thing that you brought home from the bar yesterday, that you were certain was looked just like that hot model that you’ve always been into. Sadly, in daylight it looked like a grizzly bear survivor, whom the grizzly bear attacked just because it was too horrid to live. Ruts are just like that. Only worse. Much worse.

But then something shiny comes along and the rut begins to roll over and off your arm, so that freedom is approaching. Then you can burn your sheets with fire. As opposed to burning your sheets with water or jello. If you try to burn stuff with jello, I personally recommend kiwi/lime. That shit is horrible and good for little else. If any of your friends or family are eating kiwi/lime jello, I recommend that you contact your local exorcist and check your cupboards for signs of a Scientology invasion from the planet of Xenu. ALL HAIL XENU! Ehm, where did that come from?


Ok, back to ruts. They’re horrid to be stuck in and it feels so liberating when you finally feel that they’re letting go ever so slightly. Personally, ruts mean that I need some change. The Gears of Life (next big hit game by Not-So-Epic Games!) are winding down and you’re just sitting there in front of the computer watching hours and hours of netflix and porn as you’re very very busy “working” on that text document in front of you. Honest. Cross my heart and hope for coffee. So, changes. Which this time around means kicking into action the plans for a new RPG campaign and buying a shiny new camera. The camera was something I’ve been thinking about for fucking ages, but haven’t been able to justify using that much money. Now that I’ve gone and upgraded my gear, I HAVE to get more active on it. It is sitting there on my desk, constantly reminding me that I have to walk it and feed it and bathe it… scratch that last part, but the rest is all good. It’s my new pet that demands what a pet demands. Attention and time.

The RPG campaign is called Dark Roads and borrows themes from Twin Peaks, Supernatural, American Gods and The Devil’s Rejects. Folklore, rural mysticism and the Road™ is what we’re going for here, played out in the Mage: The Awakening system, with all that silly goof-gaff about Atlantis conveniently tucked away in a corner where it shall stay out of sight and out of mind. If it knows what is good for it. I’ll be using the system for M:AW and themes and settings more in tune with M:AS. The orders will be cut away too, as they don’t quite fit in with what I have in mind for this game. The sense of being alone in a world of mystery, no global magical societies, no back up, no one to hold your hand. It’s as much an exploration of magic and mysticism, as told by old men and women down along the road, shamans and mountain men and women that live with nature, as it is about slaying monsters. There will be no damsels to rescue. If you’ve read the book Crime in Southern Indiana, there is a lot in that book that I want to incorporate into this game. I’ve also put together a soundtrack for this campaign, which is a first, as I’ve usually just put on something something in the background, just to have something on.

And yes, a lot of this game comes from the fact that I want to move to the mountains, build a log cabin and live out my life there. At least until I get bored and need a beer and some metal, in a sleazy dive, with skanky ladies. Three days at the cabin this X-mas did nothing but ignite my love for the mountains again, the simple life. The life of no stress and no ruts. I’m slowly turning into a stereotype, I admit that. But the flannel shirt matches my eyes and beard just so gosh darn well!

-Still a bastard, and now stealing your wife-