Playpen

Welcome to the Playpen, our space for ferrety banter and whimsical snippets of things that aren't quite long enough for articles (although they might be) but that caught your eye anyway.

at 09:44 on 07-09-2014, Arthur B
Games journalism being in cahoots with the industry to retain favourable access to previews and review copies, and more generally entertainment journalism being in cahoots with the relevant entertainment industry for similar benefits, is as old as the hills and the resultant terrible quality of journalism is well known. (There's a Zappa quote to the effect that music journalism consists of people who can't write interviewing people who can't talk for people who can't read.) Criticism of this state of affairs is fair, valid, and not new.

GamerGate, however, the specific hashtag and associated outpouring, isn't just wrapped up with and helped along by vile garbage, it was specifically spawned by said garbage using vague notions of journalistic integrity as a stick to beat women with. Witness the fact that, to my knowledge anyway, there's barely anyone on the pro-GamerGate side who is able to discuss the issue without alluding to the Zoe Quinn saga.
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at 03:32 on 07-09-2014, Daniel F
I don't think anyone regularly reading this page is likely to have much sympathy for GamerGate nonsense, but if you want something to counter people talking shit about how it's a spontaneous protest against game journalism corruption rather than an organised harassment campaign against individuals, here's something.

I suppose I'll be daring and say that I'm not without sympathy for the gaming protest.

It's beyond question that sexism/misogyny played a major role in getting this whole protest started, and that there's still a nasty current of hate running through it; but it seems to me that it's also difficult to deny that games journalism is terrible. As much as I dislike the 'gamer' identity, the GamerGate protest does seem to have a legitimate point about online gaming media being in bed with developers.

The difficulty I have is that legitimate protest is wrapped up with and indeed helped along by a lot of vile garbage. The protest itself is so diverse and multivocal that it's nigh-impossible to generalise about the people carrying it out. It's not just 4Chan, is it? It's a movement that started in a quite sexist place, and which still incorporates a substantial contingent of people who seem to view it as an opportunity to strike back at a 'social justice warrior' strawman: but neither of those points mean that the movement is wrong about gaming journalism. GamerGate has the power it does precisely because it's right about journalism.
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at 23:07 on 06-09-2014, James D
So, the Pathologic remake kickstarter is off to a good start. I admit, I'm pretty excited.
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at 19:51 on 06-09-2014, Arthur B
So it turns out that Zoe Quinn has been monitoring and documenting the 4Chan "GamerGate" harassment army's IRC channels for weeks and caught them planning all kinds of shit.

I don't think anyone regularly reading this page is likely to have much sympathy for GamerGate nonsense, but if you want something to counter people talking shit about how it's a spontaneous protest against game journalism corruption rather than an organised harassment campaign against individuals, here's something.
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at 04:53 on 04-09-2014, Alasdair Czyrnyj
Yeah, I was talking about the movie. I rewatched it a little while ago, and I just started to notice some affinities between it and the generic concept of New Weird. We've got the bugs, of course, but we've also got the teeming exotic urban environment of the Interzone, with peoples and beings mixing, interacting, and merging. We've got all manner of social and sexual transgressions. We've even got the horror aspect with Cronenberg's focus on sex, transformation, and human grotesquerie. (Seriously, the entire movie is just seething in malignant organicy.) There's nothing in the movie that can be argued in sf terms, and it also leaves the possibility that everything is in Bill Lee's head easily arguable, but there's a fair amount of material.

Honestly, this is one of those "brainstorm at 2 AM" ideas. The big difference with Blade Runner is that the latter appeared just as cyberpunk was getting underway and immediately influenced the subgenre, while New Weird began to appear about a decade after Naked Lunch. 'Course, a number of the initial wave of New Weird authors were publishing material they'd written in the 1990s (or earlier) that sat in desk drawers/untranslated before Perdido Street Station showed there was a market for these books, so Cronenberg's influence is not out of the question for some.
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at 03:38 on 04-09-2014, James D
Oh duh, I misread Alisdair's original post as being about Naked Lunch the book, not the Cronenberg movie.

Honestly, I don't think there's a single movie that encapsulates the pseudo-archaic "look" of New Weird like Blade Runner does for cyberpunk. Maybe The City of Lost Children?
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at 23:45 on 03-09-2014, Arthur B
Well, as a literary inspiration rather than a cinematic one, I'd say that Viriconium is more like what Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is to cyberpunk. ;)
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at 22:56 on 03-09-2014, James D
I'd say the title of "the New Weird's Blade Runner" goes to M John Harrison's Viriconium series, if anything. It has the focus on a single richly-described fictional urban setting; the mixture of fantasy, sci-fi, and horror; the dream-like atmosphere; the post-modern aspirations; the vivid, bordering on purple sensory descriptions; the focus on characters and individual scenes rather than a driving plot as the primary source of interest.

Of course, M John Harrison is a much better author than any of the New Weird types, at least from what I've read.
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at 10:41 on 03-09-2014, Arthur B
You mean like how Blade Runner synthesised a lot of the influences on cyberpunk into an aesthetic which cyberpunk subsequently latched onto and ran with?

I mean, I get what you're saying with the bugs, but I don't recall much New Weird with an actual 1950s beat aesthetic (or, for that matter, genuine Weird on a Burroughs scale).
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at 05:04 on 03-09-2014, Alasdair Czyrnyj
Topic question: Is David Cronenberg's Naked Lunch to the New Weird what Ridley Scott's Blade Runner is to cyberpunk?
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at 20:14 on 31-08-2014, Arthur B
Not typically a fan of Let's Plays, but this one of Hopkins FBI is completely hilarious, mainly thanks to the source material's bizarre mixture of high-quality graphics for 1998 applied appallingly badly, goofy dialogue, and ridiculously gruesome violence that's completely inappropriate tothe otherwise cartoonish tone of the game.
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at 19:05 on 30-08-2014, Fishing in the Mud
Maybe he'll grow up and do a real comic one day.
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at 09:31 on 30-08-2014, Adrienne
Wow. The really depressing thing about that is that some of his art is actually really good. He's got a young-Foglios vibe going on, and his sense of color on the covers is excellent. What a waste.
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at 03:37 on 30-08-2014, Michal
Some of the anatomy in that comic is absolutely terrifying.
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at 01:37 on 30-08-2014, Arthur B
I guess it's because he's a Nice Good Guy he can give you purely platonic, friendly hugs three times better than those jerks who can only hug you with two arms.
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at 01:10 on 30-08-2014, Melanie
Wait, why is there a portrait of himself(?) with six arms? (There's also an uncropped version on his facebook.)

Did he draw himself as a Hindu god.
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at 17:25 on 29-08-2014, Arthur B
Well, obviously by definition he's a feminist, he's protecting women.

/sarcasm
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at 17:13 on 29-08-2014, Kit
Also, way to spectacularly, repeatedly and obstinately miss the point about what Nice Guy has come to represent, Mr. I'm-a-Good-Guy-let-me-explain-not-a-Nice-Guy-a-GOOD-Guy-like-authentic-and-honest-and-brave-and-did-I-mention-I'm-a-Good-Guy-already?

And I bet he thinks he's a feminist, too.
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at 17:08 on 29-08-2014, Kit
his inevitable encounter with Lady Who Eats People's Insides


I was hoping you made that up. But then I (very reluctantly) checked the comic and of course.

*heaves a deep, weary sigh*
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at 15:58 on 29-08-2014, Arthur B
@Arthur What the whaaa? Bzuh? What in the actual fuck is that guy's point?

I guess we will find out as the comic progresses to his inevitable encounter with Lady Who Eats People's Insides.
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at 15:41 on 29-08-2014, Kit
@Adrienne: that's a very interesting article, even though I always get overly emotional (i.e. sick to my stomach) whenever I read anything Sarkeesian-related. For some reason I find the hate she gets particularly triggering...

@Arthur What the whaaa? Bzuh? What in the actual fuck is that guy's point?

On an utterly positive note, does anyone here watch My Immortal: The Web Series? Inspired by the most infamous, cracktastic and really really goffik Harry Potter fanfic (relating the insane adventures of Ebony/Enoby Dark'ness Dementia Raven Way, Mary Sue extraordinaire), it somehow manages to turn the source material on its head, be simultaneously a parody and a homage to original text and fanfic both, be silly, funny, completely nuts, breathless, heartwarming and, well, totally awesome (to quote another incredible product of HP fandom). It's an ironic but affectionate riff on the concept of Mary Sues, it's got two POC main characters (Harry and Hermione), it's incredibly non-heteronormative, brimful of nods to various parts of the fandom, and the whole cast is very clearly having the time of their lives doing this. I just watched the second season, which, even though it's busier (read: even more all over the place) than the first, is still made of squee and happiness and utter insanity. If you have a little time to kill, preread a little something about the original fanfic (not too much or you might need brain bleach) and then go at least watch the first season.
Oh, and their tumblr is great, too.
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at 14:26 on 29-08-2014, Arthur B
Self-proclaimed Nice Good Guy produces semiautobiographical webcomic about his romantic history. The actual comic is so cringeworthy it evokes the rarely-felt full-body cringe. (His explanation of why a Nice Good Guy isn't the same thing as a Nice Guy is also really something.)
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at 10:15 on 29-08-2014, Adrienne
Of possible interest to Ferretbrainers, a great, in-depth essay about the ongoing anti-Sarkeesian bullshit.
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at 10:18 on 28-08-2014, Ash
@Cheriola: Thank you for acknowledging genderqueer people. (And thanks to everyone else for not dismissing that outright.)
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