Tags: lol whut?



THIS came up on Twitter the other day and it's painfully groan-worthy reading. It's also ironic since it's making 'fun' of people's common tacks to dismiss arguments while, at the same time, essentially being a guide to arguments that must be dismissed.

Additional irony comes in with on the one hand criticising scientific studies for being biased and at the same time complaining that the argument 'you have an agenda' has no merit. Science at least works to eliminate bias through peer review and the confirmation of results through repetition. If you do have an agenda that cannot help but colour your views through confirmation and cognitive bias. To choose a less emotionally triggering example than persons of minorities, take climate change deniers or creationists. Their agenda very much colours how they interact with and perceive data. People with an agenda will tend to filter everything they take in by rejecting that which doesn't conform to their pre-existing worldview and only accepting that which supports - or which they think supports - that worldview.

This is true with any strongly held position and it take a lot of work to overcome, particularly through exposure to other points of view than your own and examining them rationally.

The 'article' also attempts to simultaneously invalidate the personal experience of the 'privileged' person while sanctifying the personal experience of the person claiming discrimination. Both are personal experiences and are anecdotal, functionally useless when examining an issue dispassionately and factually.

There are some good and occasionally humorous points on this article, but overall it ends up shooting itself in the foot through hypocrisy, irony and, perhaps most awfully, carrying with it the implicit idea that in order to comment or hold an opinion on any issue (with or without supporting evidence) relating to a minority you must, per force, be 'privileged' to be a member of that minority.

As a left-anarchist by ideology and a socialist by pragmatism I'm for equality and the tearing down of privilege in whatever form it takes but I can't help feeling that this sort of overblown pomposity and total lack of humour, perspective or introspection is counter-productive, whatever and whoever you are.
just me

Slayer's Guide to Female Gamers

Hopefully Matt won't mind me dredging up his evidential post from RPGnet in 2002. Funny to see GMS was being a bit of a dick back then too. The more things chance, the more they stay the same... you can find the thread on Google with a search for the book title and 'review' but you'll have to view it 'cached'. Set the Wayback Machine to 2002:

Anybody else get the feeling that this is going to be a contender for longest thread on this forum :)

A few interesting points about the Slayer's Guide to Female Gamers to consider;

1. At both Gen Con UK and US it was our best selling book by far, even eclipsing Slaine at the former. We sold out at both conventions.
2. I estimate around 75% of all books were bought by females.
3. To date, I have had one, just one complaint from someone who has actually _read_ the Slayer's Guide to Female Gamers. Support for it has been pretty incredible, mostly from the female audience. I ain't making that up :)
4. This book has proved quite controversial - but only among those who have _not_ read it.
5. There is a clear warning label on the back cover. Basically, it warns that this is a gender parody.

Those who have raised pro- and anti-feminist arguments against this book are reading _way_ too much into things. It is a joke. A Michael take. A bit of fun. You personally may not find it funny at all - that is your perfect right. However, it is not the work of Satan, it does not target women, nor does it belittle them.

I am quite prepared to listen to anyone who wishes to criticise this book - but only _after_ they have read it.

A small bit of history. When this book was first announced, several people on industry-only forums (the ones most of you guys don't get to see but where, apparently, publishers are supposed to bait one another) went completely over the top, claiming it was heralding the end of RPGs as a mass market medium, that female gamers would be turned away in droves and all sorts of other nonsense. One publisher even advised retailers that they should not stock this book, nor its twin, SG Rules Lawyers. Think about that for a moment - one publisher was actively going around telling people not to buy another publisher's book. If my mortgage did not depend on our books, that would have been really funny. . .

In short, I have heard enough rubbish about this book. We have had one complaint from someone who has actually read it which, considering sales, is rather good going. Slag this book off all you want - but please read it first. You don't even have to buy it. Just read it.

As for Gareth - you really need to take your head out of your rear end, mate. Please understand that your opinions do not impress me that much and I am getting rather tired of your attitude towards us across the industry forums. To bring your beef with us here beggars belief. If you have any salient points to raise, please contact me in private and I will do my level best to answer them.

Now that is over, many thanks to everyone who has supported us over the past 18 months or so. It is _very_ much appreciated and we are working hard not to let you down with future releases. Oh, and check out Slaine when you get a chance. No, it is not as funny as Female Gamers. But it has a lot more axes, Warp Spasms, witches and druidic rites (funny that this sort of subject material doesn't get anyone excited any more. . .).

Have fun gaming!

Matthew Sprange
Mongoose Publishing

Of all the book signings I've ever done, I think I signed more copies of this SG than anything else I've done, primarily for women, even more than The Munchkin's Guide to Powergaming. Anyone who even passingly knows me knows that I'm not sexist and frankly, I shouldn't have to defend myself against illiterate liars like this but, as a writer, it can't help but bother me when people get entirely the wrong end of the stick.

This is why I stopped going to RPGnet, too many kooks.

Abuse? I came here for an argument

I enjoy arguing with people, it's fun, it's challenging, it's good practice. It's like mental exercise. Other people don't seem to view it the same way though and I have little tolerance for cheap shots or poor arguments.

Lately - as you may have noticed from my work blog - the topic of sexism and gaming has come up again in its two tired, boring, usual ways. That is art and the use of the female pronoun. That's why I did my blog about 'tits' the other day on the work blog and why I spent a lot of the afternoon arguing about the pronoun thing... again.

As per usual when we get onto this one, people are extremely resilient to reality or facts, or - even - to what you're actually saying. Far preferring to squeeze you into stereotype 'a', 'b' or 'c' or to take offence at something you're not even saying.

What I object to in the art argument is that we're talking about fantasy. I want to be inclusive and have all sorts of depictions of male and female forms in games, INCLUDING cheesecake but it seems like those who do object the most strenuously are determined that any such depiction must be stopped. Which is immensely disrespectful to other people's wants and desires from their games. There's room for plurality.

What makes it particularly aggravating, to me at least, is that RPGs already go to ridiculous and comedic lengths to be accommodating, even to concerns that aren't even factual. I've gone on about this before, the language mangling of reinterpreting 'he' to be an exclusive rather than an inclusive term.

What particularly got my goat this time, however, was someone claiming to be a linguist (yeah, well, it's the internet) who didn't know much of anything, or so it seemed, about the history of the English language, or the way it's developing, despite claiming to study just that. That's the kind of thing that pisses me off, pseudo-intellectuals making claims that they can't back up. I would have been fine with that except that they ended up being dickish and ended up accusing me of sexism... which was entirely counter to the point I was making... and trying to defend using sexist terminology as a counter.

I used to think this was mostly an American disease but this was a Canuck and not so long ago a fellow Brit developed similar hypersensitivity as well. Yes, I've considered that it might be me being a dick, I'm the common denominator after all, but given the number of people that don't react that way and ARE capable of sensible argument, I don't think that's it after all.

There's a dangerous aspect to the internet - that I've touched on before - where you end up creating insular groups of personal 'yes men', that never challenge your held viewpoints. This is part of the reason I seek out argument and different points of view, to stop myself falling into that trap.

I never feel good about ignoring people but had to do it with this guy, simply because it seemed that neither of us would back down.

I can only repeat 'you're wrong' so many times in so many different ways before it gets tiresome and, you know, excuse me, but if you're going to change MY mind you're going to need logic, reason and evidence, not bald, falsifiable assertion.

What I Learned from Draw Mohammed Day

1. That viewpoints I once considered to be limited to Islamic extremists are held by a considerable number of relatively wealthy, educated and literate Muslims. It seems that Muslims of actual moderate position are the 'lunatic fringe'.

2. That Paedobear and Muhammed are a marriage made in heaven.
3. That Islamic Creationists are more fun than Christian Creationists because they think this is a new argument.

4. That there's apparently no Islamic concept of freedom of speech, so they don't get the concept and can't separate it from hate speech or incitement to violence.
5. That a lot of Muslims think we're all Christian in the west and can't wrap their heads around atheism.

6. That Islam has no answer to Muhammed's having sex with Aisha when she was nine. Or rather that the excuses make the whole topic even worse for them. This appears to be Islam's Achilles heel. Their unanswerable question.
7. That /b/ is the cancer that is destroying not just 4chan, but the internet as a whole, mind you, they did only appear to start playing up AFTER the Muslims missed the point of the whole thing and started slinging the abuse around.
8. That someone can say: "You cannot make fun of Islam, that's racist! Besides, this is all a Jewish plot!" with a straight face.

9. That a lot of Muslims equate the systematic murder of over six million people with doodling a 1400 year dead paedophile bandit with epilepsy.

10. That it isn't Nick Clegg's fault, it's the Jews. Always, always the Jews. Lose your car keys? It was the Jews. Spill milk? Jews. 9/11? Jews. Facebook allowing EDMD? Jews. Jews, Jews, Jews...
I used to think this insanity was limited to extremists and those in more backward and oppressed nations but I'm no longer convinced that's the case due to the sheer volume of Muslims approving of censorship, making death threats, displaying obscene racism and hatred (ironically while complaining about alleged racism and hatred) and approving of hacking in order to silence critics.

I may have to bump Islam up my 'threats to humanity' list ahead of Christianity (but after Apple) at this rate.

(no subject)

As participation in 'Everybody Draw Mohammed' day (tomorrow, May 20th), in celebration of free speech in defiance of religious censorship I've done what I do and have dashed off a very slapdash and amateurish - and horribly blasphemous - card game.

You can download it HERE, ready for tomorrow.
Alternative download HERE.

Originally posted over on business/work blog apresvie 

Balls and Chains (Mostly balls)

One of the greatest teachers I ever had was Mr Kettle, he was an English teacher of fierce determination who managed, through sheer force of enthusiasm and his classroom antics, to engage even the brutish dunces with the joy of the English language. He used to let us play RPGs in his classroom at lunchtime and acknowledged that they were great for our English skills - amongst others.

Mr Kettle died of an aneurism a few years after I left school, just as the internet was starting to come into its own and sometimes I wonder if I'm headed for the same fate when I read the latest bout of nerd-rage, especially when it comes to gaming nerd-rage and particularly when it comes to some of the idiocy around the English language and gamer insecurity around women.

This latest argument - and its spin-offs - is one such aneurism-inducing event.

This one's about GenCon's non-gamer havens, or Spousal Activities (SPA) which is a nice idea to give non-gamers who have been dragged along to the conventions by their better half, something to do while their significant other is killing things and taking their stuff and having multiple nerdgasms.

So far so good, right? Providing a useful service, helping the convention-goers maintain marital harmony and broadening the appeal and inclusiveness of the con. But wait, what's the icon that they use to advertise SPA in the guidebook?:

Oh, a ball and chain, a traditional term for the other half of a relationship and thematically appropriate for a hobby that invokes dungeons a lot. So where's the problem? Oh... apparently it's sexist? It's a horrible thing to do? It insults and marginalises women and makes the hobby look more male-oriented and discriminatory than it is?

Unfortunately, in comments HERE

It emerged that this programme and its icon has been used for some 5 years, without incident, was chosen by women for an event primarily run by women and the SPA events are for anyone and include both gamer widows and gamer widowers. So why such a fuss? Why is gender such a massive issue for gamers? It's not like this nerd-rage over nothing is the first incident and this brings me back to my English teacher.

You may or may not have noticed but a lot of gaming books deal very clumsily indeed with pronouns. You'll find books that only refer to 'she'. You'll find books that alternate between 'he' and 'she' and you'll find other sorts of peculiarities that I'm unaware of having any real purchase in publications beyond the more extreme end of feminist literature (examples such as hirstory for history and other ridiculousness).

Now, I'm not attacking political correctness, the intent there is good, but the idea of deliberately changing language in order to promote a particular agenda is rather Orwellian rather than PC. That's not political correctness - seeking to minimise offence -that's attempting to control.

The irony is particularly thick when it comes to the linguistic issue and I've banged on about this before. Defaulting to 'he' does not indicate a presumption of maleness on the part of the person being described, 'he', like the term 'mankind' refers to humanity as a whole, regardless of gender. This is because we've actually LOST the particular terms that referred to males. 'Man' - for example - used to be prefixed by 'wer' or 'wyf' to indicate gender. When you use the term 'he', unqualified by context, you're being linguistically inclusive compared to when you use the term 'she' when you are, specifically, referring to female. Then you're being exclusionary.

1. 'A first time author can expect to have his manuscript repeatedly rejected.'
2. 'A first time author can expect to have her manuscript repeatedly rejected.'
3. 'As a first time author, Alex found that his manuscript was repeatedly rejected.'

In number 1 there's no hint as to the gender being talked about, it's speaking generally.
In number 2 it's specifically talking about a woman.
In number 3, despite the gender neutral name, we can gather from context and phrasing that it's talking about a specific man. Changing he to she would swap this around.

So, why do we do this to ourselves? Is the sight of a 'she' improperly placed throughout an RPG book suddenly going to make a neophyte gamer out of Jane Doe? Is it fuck, it's linguistically incorrect and, frankly, patronising I even find it a little sinister, which I'll go into in a minute. This kind of linguistic mangling is our equivalent of the pink Nintendo DS.
Why is gaming so neurotic and insecure about women? Face it, huge parts of the hobby are not and never will be appealing to women. It is a classically obsessional, largely male-appealing blend of adolescent power fantasy, fun with maths and borderline aspergers. You're not going to turn the appeal of the game around by fucking up the language in some misguided and erroneous attempt to be inclusive. If you're genuinely serious about reaching out to female gamers you need to pull a game-changer like the Wii or the DS (minus the patronising pink). There's plenty in RPGs that can appeal to women and has in the past. White Wolf pulled it off with V:tm and their LARP organisation, but the heyday of that is behind us. If you want to appeal to women more play to those strengths, the storylines, the romance, the characterisation, the whimsy. Yes these are stereotypes but they do exist for a reason and if past experience is anything to go by, it's what works.

What this makes me think of is a sort of hive-mind gamer version of the rather creepy geek dating fallacies, I can't find the exact link I'm thinking of, but THIS is close.

Yes, we want more women to be into gaming partly because we think gaming is awesome but, let's be honest here, a lot more of it is in wanting to increase the dating pool for dysfunctional nerds. If only we can get more women gaming they'll UNDERSTAND and then they might let me touch their boobies! All this linguistic abuse and special treatment isn't treating women equally or appealing to them, it's being patronising and stupid and it's as creepy as being the 'nice guy', lingering around being a 'good friend' in the hopes that you'll eventually get into a girl's pants.

In getting involved in some of these arguments the accusations have come thick and fast that, in defending proper English or pointing out the fallacies in these arguments, that you're somehow coming from a position of 'privilege' as though that somehow invalidates a truthful argument or a fact even if it were true.

I had a similar spat over a tweet I made to promote Boobquake (no such outrage about that) because I INCLUDED post-op transexuals 'Girls, ladies, women, post-op transexuals, lend me your boobs!'. Somehow, I'm not entirely sure how, someone took that as being exclusionary and insisted that post-op transsexuals ARE women. Sorry, but no, you might be legally women and you deserve to be treated as such, but the tweet was inclusive, by including them and no matter how much plastic surgery and hormone therapy you get, your chromosomes - the things which actually determine gender - aren't going to change. You're genetically male. Facts are SO inconvenient...

It seems people everywhere are looking for reasons to get upset and insulted and are getting thinner and thinner skinned, which is quite peculiar given the rough-and-tumble of the internet.

So, let's wrap up...
  1. If you think 'he' is excluding people, you don't understand the English language. If you must pick something neutral it's not going to be crowbarring 'she' in there. The consensus appears to be that the plural is the gender neutral way to go about writing, so you use 'they' instead of either.
  2. Just because you're offended, particularly by something genuinely innocuous, doesn't mean that everyone else is, or that they should be. You might only be offended because you're ignorant or hypersensitive. Getting offended on other, imaginary, people's behalf is also a bit strange.
  3. The ball and chain thing is meaningless and it's pure White Knight Syndrome to go charging in half-cocked on this. 'Look at me! See how sensitive, caring and progressive I am! Please fuck me!'. That it's run, approved and chosen by women blows away your argument. Ironically a little investigation has turned up that 'Ball and chain' these days can be used for either partner. It's lighthearted joshing and secure people with a sense of humour can deal with that.
  4. Just because you're offended doesn't mean other people are and doesn't mean something is offensive. A TV programme can attracts millions of viewers but 10 complaints is often enough to get it apologised for and withdrawn. I'm sure we can all agree that this is ridiculous and this is NO DIFFERENT.
  5. You're not going to get more 'chicks in gaming' by being creepy or treating women as some special, strange, alien creature that must be appeased with symbolic, self-deriding changes.
just me

Well Burqa Me

If it has escaped your notice otherwise, the UKIP Party* came out in favour of a France-style Burqa ban, though perhaps not for the same reasons as the French since they're petty NIMBYS with enough guile to hide their racism behind a thin veneer of anything else they can come up with.

While I don't agree with their reasons I do think the burqa or veil (yes, I know the western terminology isn't accurate) is a problem for two main reasons.

1. Fairness. Hoodies are banned many places, hats have to be taken off in many shops, crash helmets have to be taken off at service stations. We don't allow people to hide their faces most of the time for reasons of crime, identity, safety and security. Just because it's your religion (which is arguable) doesn't get you a free pass to flout these rules and social conventions.

2. Despite protestations to the contrary the concept of the veil or the body covering is one of oppression and control. Values which aren't compatible with multicultural Britain's aspirations to fairness. It carries implications of property, of shame and saying that it's a woman's choice isn't entirely accurate when it can be enforced by the men of the family and when generational cultural indoctrination is at work.

I find kinky BDSM as much fun as the next guy, maybe more, but we don't see leather clad doms walking their slaves down the street on a leash for a reason, plus that's generally role-playing and consensual, which can't necessarily be said for the burqa.

The idea that the burqa is respectful of women is often bandied about as well, that it stops them being sex objects. Newsflash, it doesn't. It hypersexualises whatever you can see. Much like a flash of the ankles in the Victorian era, whatever you can see becomes immensely more meaningful and erotic, the imagination fills in the gaps, generally far more erotically and effectively than reality (especially given the higher chance of rickets).

Like anything else, we all have to compromise in the public arena, whatever we do in private is up to us but, perhaps as a bonus, living free of these things even for a little while might give people more options and a bit of an eye opener.

*A bunch of no hopers who are basically the BNP** with middle class sensibilities.
**Fascists without the uniforms or even a pretence of being intellectual.

No, I don't think I'll be buying WFRP 3.0

I like RPGs and I like Fantasy Flight Games' board games like Descent and Arkham Horror so I'm clearly in their target demographic for WFRP 3rd edition, right?

Well, I still don't see myself getting it. While I'm willing to drop £30 to £40 on a game idea that interests me - even if I'm never going to play it - I can't justify that for this.
  • It's not a system I can produce material for
  • Nor is it one fans are going to have an easy time producing home grown material for.
  • It's big and bulky - and fiddly - which means transporting it around isn't going to be easy and it's likely to lose components and fall apart.
  • Speciality dice means people can't use their own dice and I've still not managed to purchase any spare descent dice.
  • All the fiddly bits take up table space, we don't usually play around a table and don't like to...
  • ...not to mention for people who DO play around a table, all these fiddly bits take up valuable battle-board/miniature space.
  • It was already expensive, but now we find out that we in the UK will be effectively paying $30 more than the US people are.

Usually a positive argument for RPGs over computer games is that they offer better value for money. WFRP 3rd is going to cost about as much as two console games, which for CRPGs you can get up to 80 hours of play out of each, so WFRP would have to offer 160 hours of gaming goodness to represent equal value.

I don't see that happening before something goes missing or gets broken and I don't see supplements being particularly quickly released, or affordable either. I'm curious of course and I'd like to get a look at a copy, but I'm not £80 curious.