when the status quo frustrates.

Comic book geeks 14, Westboro Baptist Church 1.

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

Best protest signs evar. My favorites:

I think we all know how I feel about the Hypnotoad.

I think I have that one somewhere in the back basement room, too!

Mushrooms, not better carrots

Friday, July 16th, 2010

I haven’t paid money for a computer game for about a decade, but I am seriously tempted by Farmcraft 2: Global Vegetable Crisis.

Ginger’s story is part mystery, part success story: some of the time she’s working diligently against difficult odds to bolster the people who depend on her, and the rest of the time she’s trying to figure out what is going on in the world’s agricultural markets.

In the end, that means rejecting the lifestyle and game structure that has brought us this far. The bad guys sort of win — that is, they get rich at the expense of others, and they also save the world from disaster (one which they engineered in the first place). Ginger gives up farming and joins a monastery in Tibet, where she spends the rest of her life looking for inner truth. This is the happy ending.

The search for better ways to grow carrots (which has been occupying us for most of the game, really) is recognized as meaningless or, at worst, actively damaging. The urge towards relentless business expansion has driven down prices to unsustainable levels and brought the world agriculture market to the verge of collapse.

This final transition away from farming and the whole capitalist rat race is framed in terms of the desire for enlightenment and discovery… with a side of mind-altering chemicals, as Ginger has to collect 12 mushrooms in order to gain insight into her life.

“Rapelay”

Sunday, February 15th, 2009


Not RapeLay. More like what my head does every time RapeLay comes up on the internet.

I’d heard of this game once before, sometime last year, I think–my initial and instinctive reaction was revulsion, of course, and it was the same this time when I came across it again

But, I thought, for some reason this time impelled to actually analyze my feelings…why am I so revolted? The reason I actually felt moved to give it more thought this time round was because of a recent few minutes I spent watching my older son play Fallout 3.

I absolutely loved the first two Fallout games, and if I weren’t still deeply inmeshed in World of Warcraft, would no doubt have been all over it as soon as I gave it to my son this past Christmas (with a small token pause in my headlong rush in acknowledgement of the fact that I bought it for him, not me!). Naturally, by this time he’s already played it through more than once, but he was feeling at loose ends the other day and decided to give it another run, and I sat and watched him play for a little while.

If you haven’t played Fallout 3 yourself yet, lemme tell you–some of those deaths are gory. The Fallout 3 graphic captioning this post is actually not the most grotesque end your various foes in the game can come to at your hands–and just like the earlier games, you can target specific body parts, but unlike the previous games, the special effects graphics are really state-of-the-art when it comes to depicting the mayhem subsequently wrought. I was simultaneously fascinated and repelled, and it came back to haunt me later–why am I so up-in-arms about a videogame displaying cruel and graphic rape and yet relaxed enough about a game that displays cruel and graphic murder enough to buy it for my son for Christmas..? After all, I even consider murder a worse crime than rape–murder is the worst crime there is. Any other crime committed against your person, the chance always exists, however great or slight, that you may someday recover some to all of your quality of life. When you’re murdered, guaranteed! you will never get over that.

After some brow-furrowing thought, I managed to boil the salient differences between the two games down to three points:

1. The point of the game: Fallout 3 is not Murder 3. The object of the game is not simply to murder as many different people as possible, one after the other. In RapeLay, the object of the game is simply to rape, period. In Fallout 3, the player is trying to complete the main and side storylines present in the game–generally rescuing person A or finding site B or recovering important object C–the killing is also frequently in self-defense or in defense of others. In RapeLay, the player is there to rape every member of a specific family that crosses his path; there are no storylines to complete and certainly nobody that can be saved by the rapes committed–quite the opposite; the goal is to torture them all until they break.

2. The specificity of the victims: Fallout 3 is not Klansman 3. The people that are killed are of every race, gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation–those attributes are generally cosmetic only and quite irrelevant to the point of whatever storyline the player is engaged upon. Now, it would be quite different if the player was portrayed as white and every single person the player could kill was portrayed as black, wouldn’t it? In RapeLay, the player is there solely to assault females. Women. Girls. Period. The violence presented is aimed solely and only towards one specific subgroup of humanity.

3. The age of the victims: Fallout 3 is not Pedophile 3. As a matter of fact, in Fallout 3, you can’t kill kids at all. There are child characters, but they are unkillable. By contrast, in RapeLay, you are specifically encouraged to rape, I quote, “virgin schoolgirls.” ‘Nuff said.

Rape culture, anyone..?

When World of Warcraft Goes Bad

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

Perhaps because of the recent large patch download in preparation for the second WoW expansion pack, Wrath of the Lich King (be still my beating heart!), I and my gaming buddy have been witnessing an unusually high number of glitches. Most of them are just annoying, but there have been a couple of rather fascinating ones.

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Woman as Knight Errant: Escapism for Her vs. Escapism for Him

Saturday, September 13th, 2008

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I already derailed the comment thread on Hugo’s first post of three about the book Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men by Michael Kimmel, and I flatly refuse to do it again to his second post, darn it! So I’m going to express myself here instead. (Amanda has another take on Hugo’s second post over at Pandagon as well.)

The title of Hugo’s second post, “Escape, Entitlement, and Empowerment: young men and the ‘Four Ps’” pretty much says it all (the “Four Ps” being Pot, Playstation, Porn and Poker). Focusing in on the “Playstation” P, he quotes a few paragraphs of Kimmel–as a “Playstation P” woman, I was fascinated to try and analyze where I coincided with the “guys” and where (if anywhere) I took off on my own, and what meaning that might have in terms of gendered arguments such as the one below. Let’s examine it!

Because, as it turns out, the fantasy world of media is both an escape from reality and an escape to reality — the reality that many of these guys would secretly like to inhabit. Video games, in particular, provide a way for guys to feel empowered. In their daily lives guys often feel that they don’t measure up to the standards of the Guy Code — always be in control, never show weakness, neediness, vulnerability — and so they create ideal versions of themselves in fantasy. The thinking is simple: if somebody messes with your avatar, you blow him away. It’s a fantasy world of Manichean good and evil, a world in which violence is restorative and actions have no consequences whatsoever.

This doesn’t resonate with me at all. It isn’t that I don’t feel I always have to be in control and never show weakness, neediness and vulnerability–quite the opposite! As a woman in a heavily male-dominated profession, I must show more control and far less weakness/neediness/vulnerability than even your average guy can get away with, if I want to be taken at all seriously. In my personal life, as a feminist single mother raising two sons, again, the pressure to provide such an invulnerable role model is constant and unrelenting. However, I have no urge to physical violence–I rarely ever have such an urge, except in situations where I am directly physically attacked by another person. Therefore, I find no psychological freedom or release in the knowledge that oh hey, I CAN kick that sumbitch’s ass here! Woot! As a matter of fact, the need to suppress weakness, neediness and vulnerability is no different in the virtual world of Warcraft than it is in the real world on Earth, not for me. I am a woman in a MMORPG (for all you noobs, that’s a “massively multiplayer online role-playing game”); I’d better not act like some kind of pussy if I’m in a group! The lack of consequences does not appeal to me either, again, as there are certainly game consequences for acting like a dumbass–the only “consequences” that could be said to be escaped are, if you choose to massacre other players or computer-generated characters, you won’t go to jail. Since I have no urge to do so, there is no relief of any suppressed feelings for me.

They’re getting a parallel education to the formal curriculum — complete with its own Three Rs: Relaxation from the weight of adult demands and of the rules of social decorum (also now known as political correctness); Revenge, against those who have usurped what you thought was yours; and, Restoration to your rightful entitled position in the world.

Oh now, Relaxation I understand! World of Warcraft is most definitely an escape from the real world, with its stupid obsession with minutae and social interaction–it’s puzzle-solving and ass-kicking fun, pure and simple and wholly engrossing. Revenge…again, that does not resonate. Revenge against whom? Those I might possibly want revenge against are still quite in power in the mythical World–there are kings, commanders, wealthy merchants, etc–the World is just as hierarchical and biased in favor of those with money and power as the real world. Now, WoW does offer you a far more straighforward path to success than the real world does–it is the most basic and pure distillation of the highest ideals of capitalism and the Protestant work ethic–as long as you are willing to buckle down and spend lots of time and effort at the earning, you will guaranteed rise to a position of great power and wealth, without the unfairnesses of pre-existing family and coinage and irrational prejudices that beset us in reality. I do quite appreciate that…but there really is no revenge factor there. It’s much more along the lines of the first R, relaxation–not having to navigate pitfalls to success that are a function of the real world and none of my personal making.

Restoration–oh yes, that DOES resonate with me, though after reading the next paragraph, I realize that I have finally hit upon the strange dichotomy that is the real gendered difference in the “Playstation” P.

They spend so much of their lives being bossed around by other people– teachers, parents, bosses–it’s really a relief to be the meanest, most violent, and vengeful SOB around. And they spend so much of their lives in a world that is, if not dominated by women, at least is characterized by women’s presumed equality, that it’s nice to turn back the clock and return to a time when men ruled — and no one questioned it.

This is almost funny.

Here is how it would look if it were rewritten for me.

She spends so much of her life being bossed around by men–bosses, politicians, religious leaders–it’s really a relief to be in a place where her gender is only a matter of aesthetic choice; it in no way affects her career, her autonomy or her physical abilities both real and perceived by others. No matter what others in the World say or think or even try to do, they cannot discriminate against her on the basis of her gender–she can be and do anything she wants, finally and incontrovertibly–the most anyone can do is spit a few obscenities, and that is easily remedied by simply placing them on Ignore.

Whereas the “guys” apparently want to be conscienceless reavers, motivated by and answering sheerly and only to their grossest whim at the moment and are therefore freed by that state, what I want to be, as it turns out, is a hero. Women aren’t heroes, you know. There is one form of “heroism” and one only that women are encouraged (we might even say “forced,” betimes) to pursue, and that is the “heroism” of complete self-immolation. Women are lauded for sacrificing every personal inclination to further the ambitions of their husbands and devoting themselves to raising children. The “heroic” woman is one who lives in a permanent and driven state of personal servitude to men and children. The ultimate sacrifice, of giving your life for your freedom, the freedom of others, an ideal–women are actively discouraged from any form of that heroism except that of dying in the name of pregnancy. A woman’s heroism is never exciting, never results in great power or prestige or personal gain or adulation–a woman’s heroism is by definition hidden behind those surrounding her, done in as much silence and humility as possible, and always in the channel of her reproductive and homemaking function.

In the World, I can be a hero in all the ways men are encouraged and lauded to be heroes–I can use my force of arms to defend the weak; I can choose any number of professions to further my defense of the weak; I can gain great fame and riches in pursuit of my heroism and my name will be known throughout the realms. (Seriously!) My reproductive function, in fact, does not exist at all.

So, interestingly enough, in an unregulated fantasy environment, I aspire to the ideal of heroic manhood–that is what I find so freeing and liberating–and guys aspire to the ideal of amoral piracy–that is what they find so freeing and liberating–apparently no one aspires to the ideal of self-sacrificing womanhood–er, surprise surprise..? Probably the most intriguing (and distressing) aspect of this is how said guys can perceive themselves as living in a society where women control them so strongly while I perceive myself living in a society where men control me so strongly…the SAME SOCIETY..? A puzzle. I expect I will give it a lot more thought and perhaps a follow-up post will be forthcoming–stay tuned!

I Really Think The Federal Government Should Be Subsidizing This

Sunday, June 22nd, 2008

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“My administration will give unprecedented support to strengthening marriages. Many good programs help couples who want to get married and stay married.” -President Bush

Apparently there’s money for it. See?

So all I need to do is write up my grant proposal! I’m conducting the efficacy study right now.

First we created our characters…together. (oh sigh!)

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Then we began questing…as a team!

We bonded over Midsummer Festival Flame dancing:

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By the end of the night, waiting in the Deeprun Tram station, we were exhausted but absolutely inseparable.

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Our relationship has a new strength, a new thrill, a new depth, a new joy. For only $14.99 a month.

Top that, Lehigh Valley Healthy Marriage Coalition (LHMC), Community Services for Children (CSC) (Allentown, PA)!

Welcome To The Nation’s Capital

Monday, June 16th, 2008

Yep, this weekend my older son and I pre-ordered Fallout 3. Not just any Fallout 3, but the Amazon.com Exclusive Survival Edition, which includes a Pip-Boy 3000, be still my beating heart!

We are still duking it out over who gets the poster.

Release date is October 7. Be warned; I may abruptly vanish after that date and not reappear for weeks or possibly months.

Another World of Warcraft (!) Post

Monday, May 26th, 2008

Because Aogail finally got her horse.

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More pics below the fold. Share yours!

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Back In The Saddle Again

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

I took a long hiatus from WoW (that’s World of Warcraft for all you noobs) partly due to an extended period of crazy business travel and partly due to trying to buy a house amidst all that chaos…but I’m ba-aaaack!

Unfortunately while I was away, my account went inactive and I have not been able to reactivate it so I lost my previous ladies. THAT was painful. I was in possession of two of the coolest kick-ASS chicks in the Realms…and now they’re gone. (sniffle. sob!) But I have begun again! For the similarly obsessed or masochistic, pictures and brief descriptions below the fold.

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