That Stephen Seagal Moment

About a year ago, I decided to lose some weight with the Rock Band Exercise program.  In short, Rock Band on Expert Drums will totally and completely kick your ass.  Along the way to losing about 40 pounds, I gold starred 400 songs.  Yay, me.

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Well, most of those pounds found their way back on me, and I have some time to kill while I seek out funding and/or jobs, so I’ve been picking the drums back up.  I decided a good place to start would be to re-gold star the songs I’d gold-starred in the past (gold-star is above ‘5-stars’ and means ‘near perfect’ on most songs).  So far my hit rate is… not good.  About 40% of the songs, I’m able to gold star again.  The other 40% will take me getting back into fighting shape.  Some percentage of that, I have no idea how I beat it the first time through.

But there’s some joy in there as well: the Stephen Seagal moment that Bad Romance gave me.  Yes, for a long while, Lady Gaga’s best song was my great white whale.  It had one tricky drum part that made it trivial to 5-star, but almost impossible to defeat.  It was on my list of songs to beat for some 5-6 months, as I kept getting closer and closer to the desired score, but not hitting it.  Beating it was difficult, grueling, and rewarding in a bloody and bruised sort of way, like the ending to The Karate Kid.

Well, now, well out of practice, I just obliterated it.  Played it once, it clicked, then followed up immediately and decimated it.  No Ralph Macchio here, this was more like Stephen Seagal in Under Siege 2.  (Spoilers!) The movie goes to great lengths to convince you that a major fight is coming up and, when it finally happens, Stephen Seagal finishes what he started in about 10 seconds.  It was an ultimate display of mastery.  It was a brutal beatdown.  And it perfectly describes the feeling that was just crushing Lady Gaga’s gauntlet.

The Stephen Seagal moment is often used in games as a way to display progress.  RPGs do it all the time clumsily, by sending you back to areas you have levelled past, just to demonstrate your growth to yourself and the world.  So do games like God of War – a Minotaur Boss may be a grueling fight at the end of act 1, but once you’ve unlocked some more health and attacks, the game has no qualms about throwing them in multiples, or as part of larger waves.  It truly gives a great sense of your own personal growth.

But even that is somewhat artificial, hand-crafted by the designer.  In skill-based games like Rock Band or Mortal Kombat, such moments are even more magical.  Because you, as the player, have to earn them.

So screw you, Lady Gaga, you’re my white whale no more.  Your Bad Romance is in my rear view mirror, and that feels pretty good.

However, I simply cannot at this time see a reality where I figure out how I ever beat Duran Duran again.

Posted in Game Design, Personal | 1 Comment

In The Process of Trying to Find a More Comment-Friendly Theme

I’ve changed the theme to be more readable than the previous, particularly in the reply chains.  I’m still looking for potentially better layouts, particularly for comment threads.  If you have feedback, or better ideas on WordPress templates (keep in mind, I am disinclined to do more than hit the ‘install’ button on one), then the comment thread here is where to give feedback.  Once I find something that I (and or whoever comments) likes, I’ll then replace whatever key art is in the template.

Also, I’ve been importing my old blog posts from my old blog into this one.  I am now up to late 2007, otherwise known as ‘the last round of console wars have entered full flame’.  Also, it was right before the first round of post-WoW MMOs came out, so you can still taste the optimism.

It seems like there’s a lot more to go, but my blogging really slowed down in around 2010 or so, so I’m pretty sure I’m through the worst of it.

Posted in Behind the Scenes | 5 Comments

Sarkeesian Effect Duo Reanimates Defeated Corpse of Jack Thompson

Dear GamerGate,

I know that you guys are starting to think about the Holidays, and what Black Friday stunt you can pull.  I know, in particular, game developer outreach is top of mind right now with Operation Rebuild, where you attempt to send nice letters to game developers to let them know that YOU ARE ON THEIR SIDE. And that’s a tough deal for you guys, because in the past you have slutshamed them, brigaded them when they outreachharassed them out of their home, released their hacked financial datafinancially attacked their primary industry journaltried to organize boycotts of their games if they disagree with you,and tried to get them fired if they tried to stop the constant slew of rape and death threats thrown at them on twitter.  And many female devs still feel silenced by the very existence of Gamergate. It’s really no wonder that devs who aren’t too cowardly to hide their names have definitely broken in one direction on the subject.  I guess what I’m saying is, ‘good luck with that’.

Continue reading

Posted in Gamergate, Social Justice Stuff | 109 Comments

The Lost Gamergate Episode of Seinfeld

One of the more annoying things about #GamerGate is trying to explain how it definitely started as a harassment campaign, but has long since migrated past that.  It really sounds like the plot of a terrible sitcom episode.  Based on that, I wrote the following.


George suspects that his girlfriend is cheating on him with a games journalist.  So he writes a shitpost about the guy, starting a protest of a bullshit ethics complaint.  The movement takes off, as people who legitimately care about ethics in games journalism and progressive games writing pick up banners.  It starts to steamroll out of control, as George’s dad takes up the cause like a religion.

Frank: I refuse to live in a world where I can’t kill the hookers in GTA after they have sex with me!
George: But… you don’t even have a Playstation, dad.

Jerry tries to talk George into calling off the dogs, but George is embracing his new role as a de facto leader.

Jerry: But seriously?  THIS is the stuff I’m supposed to be angry about?  SHE GIVES THE GAME AWAY FOR FREE.
George: These people are all outraged!  All the time!  These people are my people, Jerry, and I am their King!
Jerry: So what you’re saying is, it’s a leaderless movement.

Kramer discovers that he can earn money on Patreon just shit talking other people who earn money from Patreon.

Kramer: It’s gold, Jerry!  Gold!
Jerry: It’s just Reddit Gold, ya moron.

Jerry tries to distance himself from the whole thing, but he discovers that everytime he says “What’s the deal with Ethics in Games Journalism?” in his act, the crowd goes nuts.  He keeps riding the issue, feeling guilty about it.  He tries to stay as neutral as he can.

Jerry: And what’s the deal with Kotaku?  I mean, ethics, schmethics, why do they keep running stories on weird Japanese shit I don’t understand?

Elaine goes to KiA intending to tell them they’re all wrong, but along the way, gets flushed and flattered, and becomes a proud member of #NotYourShield.  This lasts until she mentions that she thinks Bayonetta is ‘a little bit sexist’, at which point she is disowned, her house is swatted, and her mailbox fills with gorror porn.

Kramer writes an angry letter to his landlord that is accidentally massively sexist.  Return of Kings invites him to be a regular correspondent.

The whole time, George finds it impossible to keep the angry mob under control and focused on games ethics.  Near the end, we discover that Newman is trying to shanghai the movement to harass feminists from his secret command base on 8chan.

Jerry: Newman.
Newman: Hello, Jerry.
Jerry: But why?
Newman: The postal service hates feminists, Jerry.  If they win, no more Playboys to deliver.  No more Maxim, Cosmo or Victoria’s Secret catalogs. And then I’m just a junk mail delivery boy.  And that’s just a life without meaning.
Jerry: You do realize you can get porn on the Internet now, right?

Based on this revelation, Jerry and Elaine decides to go onto the David Pakman show to disavow the movement.  Unfortunately, he promises his fashion designer friend that he will wear a shirt of her design.  The puffy shirt she gives him is a little bit tacky.

Jerry is contrite and eloquent.  He talks about how he’s sorry, how everyone should be, and how people should all be worrying about more important things, like Net Neutrality, ISIS, Ebola, or the fact that Assassin Creed: Unity was clearly shipped before it was ready.  People are genuinely moved.  Things start to calm down.

Jerry: Can’t we all just get along?
David Pakman: Indeed.  Certainly now, we can all agree it is time to move past all this.
Elaine: Isn’t that shirt just a little bit sexist?


Posted in Gamergate, So-Called Humor | 13 Comments

Guitar Hero Finally Gets a Bad Review

This guy’s complaint: “Guitar Hero broke my knee!”

We were neck in neck in points… I had to do something special. I needed STYLE points. I breathed deep, my rock meter was maxed out and I was going to make this audience feel it. I twisted to the right and threw my guitar in the air! Instead of a roaring audience I heard a loud snap! My knee slid to the outside of my leg and my leg bent sideways as I fell to the ground.

Half the people in the room were concerned the other half called me a pussy. I was writhing in pain and pushed my leg back into place. I hobbled to the bathroom to a closer look and couldn’t bend my swollen leg anymore.


Posted in So-Called Humor | 1 Comment

Weekly Roundup: Gaters Gonna Gate

For those who view #GamerGate as a Macabre Theatre, this week was far less spectacular than last week. But that’s to be expected, I guess.  Last week was a masterpiece of the surreal – it was GG’s Red Wedding.  And let’s face it – you just can’t keep that up week to week.  The audience would be exhausted.

In all honesty, Red Wedding Week was good for those Gamergaters who actually have noble ideals about ethics in games journalism, in that it did actually expel or minimize some of GamerGaters worst agents who were driving some of the stuff that riles up opposition and makes Gamergate look very bad.  Enthusiasm on both sides has been waning.  As such, events were much more subdued in the last week than previous weeks.  Which manifested itself in a lot less horrible stuff happening.

But no shortage of very silly stuff.


GamerGate did have a couple of victories.  Not very meaningful victories, of course.  For example, they managed to push the Kotaku curator list to the second page of the Steam curators.  The Steam Curators are so prestigious and important, I couldn’t even FIND it in the main Steam GUI. But don’t worry, GamerGate didn’t achieve this goal by forming a new Curator group.  No, instead they did this by simply hijacking the Anime Games group that was closest to completing that goal.  Which is a pretty good clue that even #gamergate realizes they don’t have 40K people capable of clicking a button.

They do have at least 20K, though.  This week, GamerGate’s primary reddit, KotakuInAction, hit 20000 users which is — erm, not a whole lot.  KiA is roughly #1380 on subscribers out of all subreddits – the stats are just slightly out of date, and do not reflect that they recently jumped above EnlightenedBirdMen.  Sure, it’s one of the most TRAFFICKED reddits (i.e. it’s small pop posts a lot), but the population is still quite small.  Among the reddits that beat it:

Gamergate was also kind enough to help make ggautoblocker a more effective twitter block list thanks to Operation Skynet.  In this brilliant plan, all GG Twitizens made an effort to follow each other and retweet each other, Voltron-ing into an even more perfect echo chamber that made anyone only tangentially interested in the cause defollow them in order to reduce the spam of their Twitter feeds.  The net result?  In what is described by everyone as a Twitter-centric revolution, we discover that there are fewer than 10000 engaged GamerGaters on Twitter.

Based on these datapoints, one conclusion is very likely. GamerGate is very active, but still suggests its active core is a small, fringe movement.  The fact that it is still this small so long after its conception suggests that it likely will always be so.  Hey, if you set things up to be you against the world, don’t be surprised when the world takes you up on the offer.


For pure comedy, a good place to check is the attempts by GamerGate to write their own wikipedia entry after being directed to do so by Jimmy Wales himself after he addressed them repeatedly harassing their Wikipedia arbitration committee.   So… how’s that been going, Jimmy?

Those who want to continue pulling pure industrial-grade comedy right from the comedy mines can go to this thread watching the efforts.


GamerGate hero Nero had a big week.  He started off the week with a Twitter suspension, and then came back just in time to adverrtise his most recent article, which aired unsubstantiated rumors that Zoe Quinn was a murderer and labelled Brianna Wu a “dissheveled, psychologically unstabled transexual’ before admonishing #gamergaters not to stoop to ‘personal attacks’.

Oh, and he painted the whole anti-GamerGate movement as a leftish fringe. Just as a reminder, the opposite true.  The most notable sites that have backed GamerGate are Breitbart, the right wing tabloid site, the Daily Caller, a site trying to be more right-wing than Breitbart, and Return of Kings, who just this week published a nice article about how wives needed to not be uppity bitches and know their place.

Anyway, I digress.  This week, after doing a victory lap for this GamePolitics correction (on the heels of my own – but hey, this week Breitbarters shouldn’t get too cocky)  he tried to convince #Gamergaters they should not support Net Neutrality.  For those who don’t know what Net Neutrality is and why its important, let Oatmeal tell you.  For what it’s worth, 80% of both Democrats and Republicans strongly favor the principles of Net Neutrality. Milo is unfazed.

Response was predictably negative – hey, one thing you do NOT do is get between a GamerGate and his fast pings and HD streaming porn.  


The big story of the week was that, on Friday, Gamasutra announced that they had resumed their advertising with Intel.  This is significant because it marks the total rollback of #GamerGate’s only significant boycott victory of an actual game-related site.

If I had to guess why Intel folded, I’d guess it’s because Gamasutra is the top game developer website, and Intel probably looked at the stats I did and realized they sell more CPUs to game developers in a month than to angry GamerGaters in a year.

GamerGate apparently failed a roll to disbelieve, because there is still a healthy contingent of Gaters who were convinced that Gamasutra was lying to them, even after Intel spokespersons confirmed the ads were legit and intentional.  Orders came down to wait until after the weekend, so they could directly reach out to Intel to confirm.  Until then, this weekend, the plan would be to DO NOTHING.  In particular, they launched #OpMute, a plan where they would attempt to systematically ignore, block and not retweet any of the Literally Who women. This plan earned hearty endorsement from many.

Then some asshole doxed one of her close friends.


There were a ton of minor stories.  


If there is any significant milestone of the week, it’s that this is the week that a huge part of #GamerGate stopped pretending they were about ethics in games journalism.  There was a minor scandal this week, where Assassin’s Creed: Unity had a press embargo on their reviews that didn’t release until 12 hours AFTER the game went live, in an attempt to screw over early purchasers and pre-orderers (the game is not reviewing very well).  This story did not get much coverage – largely because GamerGate villians Kotaku and Polygon were the ones who broke the story.  There’ve been a couple of threads, but no one wants to admit that these two sites actually did a good job breaking the story and, in general, protecting gamers from unscrupulous publishers.

Compare that to #Shirtstorm coverage, though.  Holy living fuck, the last three days have been a never-ending cavalcade of Twitter feed coverage and yesterday, at least half a dozen and probably more than a dozen KiA articles about the topic dominated discussion.  The most notable thing about this, of course, is that this is a new story that is neither about games nor games journalism, much less ethics.  It is completely about the influence of feminists, progressives  and SJWs in the media, and it’s driven almost completely by the outragecore brigade.  To quote me from yesterday:

Yes, the shirt merited comment, the comment was made, and yes, there are those on the left who were altogether too entirely precious about all this.  But man, the reason this story is dominating my twitter feed has nothing to do with the progressive/leftists in my feed, but rather those on the other side who are determined to be outraged on behalf of a contrite Matt Taylor.

The other story that got talk?  A stupid scandal about ‘banning the word feminism’ from a Time poll due to brigading.  As Gamergate starts to unravel a tad, more and more posts keep popping up talking about how SJWs were always the endgoal.  Again, this is not all GamerGate participants.  But the voices who are in GamerGate because they want to exclude feminists and progressive voices from geek culture made their voice loud and clear this week. And the ones who actually care about Ethics in Games Journalism this week were marginalized in favor of the assholes determined to be on the wrong side of history.  

Posted in Gamergate, Social Justice Stuff | 34 Comments

Don’t Let #Shirtstorm Ruin an Amazing Scientific Achievement

This week, humanity did something pretty cool.  The European Space Agency landed a drone lander on a comet.  It was a monumentally incredible and fantastic scientific achievement, and everyone associated with it should be very proud.  Instead, we’re talking about a shirt.

View image on Twitter

This is Matt Taylor.  He was part of the team that did it.  This is awesome.  He also made the decision to wear this shirt, which made a lot of people upset.  The response to it resulted in the guy giving a ‘teary, heartfelt apology’ for his decision.

You kind of felt for the guy.  As one woman commented wryly on Facebook, “You have to feel sorry for the scientist though. Imagine what it must be like to have all his accomplishments ignored in favor of his appearance and what he was wearing.”

Still, good on him for doing so – he seems like a genuinely cool guy.  I can only imagine that he is somewhat horrified on how he has become a hero for some of the worst, most ardently anti-progressive voices on the internet.  Speaking of which, remember how I said that #GamerGate was  stridently anti-feminist movement?  Well, right now, the primary reddit for the cause has half a dozen threads about this topic, which appears to have nothing to do with gaming other than blending into their utter distaste for uppity SJWs telling them what to do.

Here’s some quick thoughts on the matter.

1. Man, landing a lander on a comet is FUCKING AMAZING.  I mean, seriously cool.  The fact that WAY TOO MANY people know more about this fucking shirt, than this truly staggering scientific achievement is tragic (and I’m looking at people on BOTH SIDES of this thing.  Seriously.  Do the world a favor, and take the time to read up on it.  The guys and gals who did this are seriously hardcore motherfucking rocket scientists, and are worthy of the utmost respect for their accomplishment.

2. I actually like the shirt. Look, I’m no puritan.  I’m also the guy who is pro-Boobplate in games.  Younger Damion probably would have owned such a shirt, but now I’m trying to pretend I’m more dignified than I actually am.  However, younger Damion still would not have tried to wear the shirt to work because, even though I am sex-positive, not a prude, and like the slightly kinky does not mean that I’m not open-minded enough to realize that other people have very different tastes.

3. That shirt is totally not workplace appropriate for many, many workplaces.  I’ve been a manager for a long time and I can tell you, there are a lot of places you’d be asked to change or sent home for wearing that shirt – even in the games industry! Why?  Because there are a lot of people, mostly but not entirely women, who would feel uncomfortable being around it.  If you don’t see why, perhaps some of the the gender-bent variants would make this more clear.  Part of being sex-positive is respecting that other people react very differently to your kinks than you do.

Oh, yeah, I definitely have friends who would buy and wear these alternate shirts, seriously.  And all of them would be smart enough to not try wearing them to fucking work.

4. Even if it was okay in his workplace culture, it shouldn’t have been worn in this environment.  I’ve done innumerable interviews, speeches and other press interactions in support of various games, and in almost every case, I’ve worn a company T-Shirt.  Why?  Because you are representing YOUR company and their principles and ethics when on a stage.  And you don’t want to shanghai all of your companies’ good works with unfortunate choices.  Now, Matt may never have done this before, or maybe he did, and he either didn’t think about it, or didn’t think it was a big deal.  But certainly, on the biggest day of these scientist’s lives, there should have been Public Relations Personnel managing things that said, ‘dude, seriously, just for today, not cool, maybe a bowling shirt WITHOUT tits?’  In my mind, these are the guys who really fucked up here.

5. The fact that the shirt was made or designed by a woman is fucking irrelevant.  Seriously, people.  Women can be sexist.  Women can also not be sexist, but make work that other people think is sexist.  Black people can be racist.  This is plainly obvious.  The argument is stupid.  And you people making it should know better.

6. For all the bitching about how the SJWs are making a big deal about it, it has NOTHING on the furor of the anti-SJW howling. Seriously.  Yes, the shirt merited comment, the comment was made, and yes, there are those on the left who were altogether too entirely precious about all this.  But man, the reason this story is dominating my twitter feed has nothing to do with the progressive/leftists in my feed, but rather those on the other side who are determined to be outraged on behalf of a contrite Matt Taylor.

7. There is still hope for humanity.  Despite the fact that idiots on both sides seemed determined to turn shirtstorm into a thing, let’s not let it.  Keep in mind, landing a lander on a comet is still SERIOUSLY FREAKING COOL.   And it did the amazing – it beat Kim Kardashian’s ‘internet breaking’ photoshoot handily in terms of retweeting.  Maybe, just maybe, there’s hope for humanity after all.

Posted in Gamergate, Social Justice Stuff | 12 Comments

WAM is Merely a Patch for Twitter, Which is Broken

Update: interested parties may also like this article by Sarah Jeong that talks about some other initiatives being developed by Twitter to improve the state of things

Andrew Sullivan is one of my favorite bloggers of all time.  I’ve always loved his stuff, his infamous article on Obama converted me to the ways of hope and change, and the way that he wades fearlessly into any topic.  But I fear on GamerGate, him and I see things in a different light, both with his initial entry , and even moreso with his most current alarmist coverage of WAM providing help to Twitter in getting rid of sexist assholes.

Let’s talk about the latter.  There are a couple of things here that are overlooked. Continue reading

Posted in Gamergate, Social Justice Stuff | 20 Comments

The Best Game Reviews of All Time

Nobody asked, but: here are, in my opinion, the best game reviews of all time.

3) “Chess”, by Greg Kasavin.
2) “World War II Online” by Lum the Mad.
1) “Anne McCaffrey’s Freedom First” by Old Man Murray.

Anyone have any better candidates?

Posted in Games Media, So-Called Humor | 7 Comments

Five-Baggers and Dead Sharks

I’m always on the search for new terminology to use in the science of game design. No, I don’t mean building a game design lexicon for academics (although I’m glad someone’s trying to). What I mean is building a slang that makes me look smarter and hipper than I actually am. Fun terms: toyetic, pattern-breaking, high school problems and no man’s land.

Another one is “five-bagger”. On the UO2 team, we used to measure crazy ideas by crack-bags – a mildly silly idea got one bag of crack. An idea that made a room bust out laughing due to it’s preposterousness got the coveted five-bagger category. Only three ideas ever reached that status during the 3 year development of UO2, and no, I won’t tell you what they are. I don’t want anyone questioning the game design chops… or sanity… of my former teammates.

All that being said, I’m proud to say that I’ve managed to add the term ‘Five bagger’ to the lexicons of both companies I’ve worked at since. Still, a five-baggger can still ship. Tell me this gameisn’t a five-bagger, and yet it’s probably the most innovative game of 2004.

So what’s the new lexicon term? A “Dead Shark”, a term that Grand Text Auto comes up with, stolen from a Woody Allen movie.

A relationship, I think, is like a shark. You know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we’ve got on our hands… is a dead shark. — Woody Allen, Annie Hall

So a ‘Dead Shark’ is an idea that can’t progress forward, and so it has to die. This term is so much more fun than ‘non-starter’, the term I was forced to bandy about before.

Posted in Game Design | 3 Comments