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 18:51 on 16-03-2012, valse de la lune
Juneau takes what a bunch of women supposedly said as god's own truth and--contrary to his stated aim to lecture the world that women! are all! different! come in many shapes and sizes!!!--sets up rigid definitions of womanhood. He makes the errors of interpreting anecdotes as absolutes, and anecdotes were probably all that they were meant to be. He doesn't think women are people with vastly differing ideas, he thinks we're a hivemind.

Having said that, I wouldn't be happy with hearing those things from women either, like "I think 99.9% of all women are bitchy-some more so than others of course" or "Females are nurturers. Men are fixers [...] When a woman lays out a problem, often she is not asking for it to be fixed, but is asking for sympathy" or "One last thing: women have a tendency to be passive aggressive." Indeed, were I interacting with women who say such things--again, assuming these women exist--I'd have told them to fuck right off, because these are stated as absolutes and reek of internalized misogyny. That's not even getting started on the repulsive heteronormativity in several of them.

On the other hand, things like this strike me as an anecdote about men being sexist fucks than a "this is how to write women":

I once told a male friend that while some men may have a constant sex drive, for women who are tuned in to their bodies and their husbands, ovulation can be like mating season. I swear I could see the mental wheels turning as he plotted to go home and figure out how to track his wife's cycle and take advantage of it.

My final point is that women are extremely sensitive, insecure about their looks, and slow to forgive and forget when someone makes us feel unattractive, stupid, masculine, or any other undesirable thing. I was a late bloomer and I still remember every person that teased me about my flat chest. I remember when I hit a growth spurt and a man told me I was getting "big". (I was 15...wrong word!) I remember the male coworker that told me I had big hands, and the boy in high school who told me my butt was getting jiggly after the end of basketball season (and I wasn't exercising enough, apparently).


...and interpreting it as "this is how women are, so write women like so" speaks of obliviousness whose level cannot be measured in either words or numbers.
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at 18:30 on 16-03-2012, Robinson L
Re: Eric Juneau's Twisted Philosophy on Writing Women

The first part read to me like a guy with a fairly reasonable outlook and a fairly immature grasp of feminist issues which might conceivably improve with guidance (aside from the occasional tasteless joke, I could imagine my younger self writing something quite similar).

... and then the bullet list. After about point three, I'm sitting their with my mouth hanging open thinking 'Are you SHITTING me?' And the it gets worse. So much worse.

Girls are stupid, women are smart. Teenage girls think about boys and sex a lot.

Okay, you know what, fuck you. That's my sisters you're talking about right there; and most of my best friends, not too long ago. I think I just threw up a little in my mouth.

James D: You know who I'd take advice on writing female chararacters from? A fucking female author. I hear those exist now.

I see nothing wrong in taking some advice on writing female characters from a male author. Taking most-to-all of your advice from a male author? That's another story.

I'm not sure when he posted it, but Juneau has added an update clarifying that 1) it's Farland's list, not his (so why the fuck are you hosting it unless you endorse it?), and 2) Farland "is directly quoting other women."

The post Juneau "condensed and simplified" most of his bullet points from is available here. To me, the fact that the context of these women's remarks makes a huge difference in interpretation. (Contrast: "I am told by older female friends that menopause is very freeing, because they don't experience the emotional ups and downs that younger women do" from the original with Juneau's "condensed and simplified": "Menopause can be very freeing, because they won't have the emotional ups and downs.") I haven't been through all of Farland's post yet, but what I'm seeing so far strikes me as much less problematic. Do other folks here agree, or is there something I'm still missing?

Re: David Farland
Axiomatic: He's one of the worst fantasy authors I know. He doesn't even have the benefit of sucking due to being exceptionally offensive, he is just REALLY, REALLY bad at writing.

Oh, huh. It's been a while since I read Courtship of Princess Leia but I remember quite enjoying it, despite all the dodgy gender stuff. Hmm.
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at 16:18 on 16-03-2012, Axiomatic
Ye gods, the "other author" whose tips this guy is using? It's DAVID FARLAND.

He's one of the worst fantasy authors I know. He doesn't even have the beneift of sucking due to being exceptionally offensive, he is just REALLY, REALLY bad at writing.

No wonder I bought his "something something Runelords" for 2.99 euros. I don't mean used, or having it marked down by the store, this book was published with "ONLY 2.99!!!" on the FRONT COVER.
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at 16:03 on 16-03-2012, James D
Yeah, I get he was supposed to be the 'untried youth' type of character, but in order for those sorts to not be frustrating, you have to really like them and their bumbling has to culminate in an eventual success at *something*, and that usually parallels their maturing into adults. Dill wasn't bad at the start, but we never had much reason to like him; he never had a clear motivation, except maybe wanting to walk in his father's footsteps and become a heroic Archon (but that's never really emphasized). Anyway all his sucking just culminated in
getting his ass killed, then getting resurrected, then doing absolutely nothing important for the rest of the book.
Ugh.

Anyway the whole notion of a "how to write a non-straight/white/cismale character" article is flawed at the outset, unless the thrust of it is "how to write about people whose life experiences are very, very different from yours can't be summed up in a brief blog post, read books written by them and ask people you know who belong to these groups (and take them out to dinner to make your incessant stupid questions worth their while)."
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at 15:36 on 16-03-2012, valse de la lune
Told you so. >:) Dill's the kind of character, I imagine, that aggravates you the longer you spend time with him in-text. Long after you've finished the book, even if you remember almost nothing else about it, you'll probably remember that Dill was incredibly annoying. He is distressingly central to the second book, too, though fortunately
he doesn't talk much in Iron Angel.


A friend's speculated that perhaps Juneau will embark on a "how to write people of color" guide next. It could begin with "first I start off with a white person, and layer a thin veneer of brown, black or yellow on top..."
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at 14:49 on 16-03-2012, James D
Hahaha I took note of the 'personal slave' part too. He'd really like his wife to be a personal slave, but she won't do it, and she's not any good at doing his laundry anyway, so he's got to settle for this equality crap. Oh well, that's life!

And those bullet points, ugh. You know who I'd take advice on writing female chararacters from? A fucking female author. I hear those exist now.

By the way valse de la lune, I just finished Scar Night, and the second half of the book made me more or less agree with your estimation. The setup was good but it utterly failed to make me care about any of the characters before just throwing a lot of plot at me, so all of it was happening to people whose motivations weren't properly built up and whose continued existence was utterly irrelevant. They make this Ulcis guy seem like a real threat and then he's dead within like 2 pages of meeting him. It was a big mistake to try to stuff *six* POV characters into a book that wasn't even 600 pages long. I did appreciate his staying away from cliche fantasy characters (no big strong manly hero types at all, surprisingly), but it's like they were all just outlines of characters rather than real people. Also fuck Dill. The book should've been about Mr. Nettle and Rachael and focused way more on them as people, rather than just launching right into a subpar plot. Perdido Street Station, for all its faults, was very good at making the characters feel like real people and making you care about what happened to them.
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at 14:23 on 16-03-2012, valse de la lune
He insists the bullet points are sourced thirdhand from another male writer who conducted some kind of shitty anecdotal non-survey, but even then...

Then I layer a thin sheet of woman on it -- a little more emotional intensity, a little more nurturing, more connectivity with people. She's not aggressive and violent, she's not a linear thinker, not a constant crier, not so goal-focused (though goals are important and necessary, they are less tangible). A Barb Wire, high-heeled, cold warrior bitch is not a woman. It is a woman doing an impression of a man doing an impression of a woman. It's a fantasy -- unrealistic and implausible.


This is why sometimes I'm obliged to tell "feminist" men that I'd like to put on an iron-toed boot and kick them in the cock.

It's stupid to think that woman are there just to make laundry or sandwiches. As much as I'd like a personal slave, marriage doesn't work that way.


We're meant to give him a standing ovation here, I think. Such a nice guy!
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at 10:29 on 16-03-2012, Arthur B
At first I thought you were talking about the illustration at the top, which tries to counter people's fantasies about gamer girls with slut shaming (not to mention perpetuating a whole different set of stereotypes about women who play games).

Then I realised there was an article and it kept getting worse. D:

(This is probably terrible of me but when he says "Then I layer a thin sheet of woman on it" I start hearing Goodbye Horses - you know, the Buffalo Bill song from The Silence of the Lambs.)
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at 10:19 on 16-03-2012, valse de la lune
So Arthur and Robinson were talking about being a Minority Warrior in the Conan article... well, this is a textbook example of how to be the worst kind possible.
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at 10:13 on 16-03-2012, Arthur B
On Kickstarter: this one is about half done and isn't going so well, having only got a quarter of the way to the target.

I guess the big difference there is that the market as a whole probably isn't desperate for yet another FPS - it's hardly a genre abandoned by publishers like point and click adventures and isometric RPGs. Granted, the project's supposed to address gripes people have with the general tendency away from realism of current FPS games, but I guess that isn't a widespread enough gripe for people to put their hands in their pockets.
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at 19:29 on 15-03-2012, Arthur B
Oooh, I wonder if they'll implement that mod which ties all the games together into one big megagame?
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at 19:23 on 15-03-2012, James D
Or maybe it will be Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance 3!

It's an 'enhanced edition' of Baldur's Gate, apparently. Sounds interesting, especially if it's on Steam.
http://www.beamdog.com/files/newsletters/BGEE/bgannounce.jpg
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at 19:18 on 15-03-2012, Arthur B
I like Miss Longbottom and acolytes charging forth to be the real hero of book 7.
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at 19:14 on 15-03-2012, Wardog
Yes, and super-cute! :D
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at 18:56 on 15-03-2012, Dan H
Dude Hermione is kinda cool too, as are the Twins.
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at 18:53 on 15-03-2012, Axiomatic
It's just like one of my japanese Animes!
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at 18:42 on 15-03-2012, Michal
Awww - look gender-swapped Harry Potter!

You mean...Worst Witch?
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at 16:19 on 15-03-2012, Wardog
Awww - look gender-swapped Harry Potter! Part one and part 2. Hot sneering girl Draco is particularly delightful.
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at 16:11 on 15-03-2012, Arthur B
It's more or less the computer game equivalent of releasing albums for download and letting people pay what they want in a tip jar. If you're Radiohead or Nine Inch Nails then of course it's massively successful, there's people out there who'll pay top dollar for a few drops of your sweat. If you're Sweaty Joe and the Generics, who formed yesterday and have recorded a few MP3s in your bedroom, nobody is going to care.
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at 15:58 on 15-03-2012, James D
Honestly I don't see how this kickstarter thing can continue on for much longer; the wild success of a few of these is going to bring in hoards of hungry developers, and there are only so many 'nostalgia sequels' from known quantities to fund. Once it becomes a sea of people you've never heard of asking for money for something you never wanted, it's going to lose its lustre pretty quickly for most people.
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at 14:55 on 15-03-2012, Arthur B
I still wait for the day when one of these really huge Kickstarter projects fails because the developers realise they've run over budget and simply cannot afford to complete the project without more money.

The screaming will be glorious.
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at 14:44 on 15-03-2012, valse de la lune
Compared to that The Ant Experiment is a bunch of people asking for money from an audience who mostly don't know who they are, for a project nobody crying out for someone to attempt, in order to make a game idea which sounds interesting on paper but where I suspect most people will have little to no clue as to whether or not they'd like it.


Yes, but that describes a lot of kickstarter projects that mysteriously get funded anyway (all those weird smartphone accessories and god knows what else). I don't think this one'll do all that well either, but it's either interesting or troubling that some indies are turning to what amounts to pre-orders for empty air to fund themselves.
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at 13:15 on 15-03-2012, Arthur B
@valse: I can't help but think that the Ant Experiment is missing a lot of the things which made the Double Fine kickstarter a huge success and pushed the Wasteland 2 kickstarter past the finish line with over a month to go still. Namely:

a) Known developers with a proven track record.

b) A type of game which had real commercial success in the past and, therefore, a lot of people feeling nostalgic about it (and a fair few who feel bad about missing out on the golden era of the genre in question).

c) And the key point: the developers of a) are specifically known for being genius innovators in the genre of b), so people have confidence that if anyone is going to be able to make an old school game of that variety, it's these guys.

Compared to that The Ant Experiment is a bunch of people asking for money from an audience who mostly don't know who they are, for a project nobody crying out for someone to attempt, in order to make a game idea which sounds interesting on paper but where I suspect most people will have little to no clue as to whether or not they'd like it.

@Kyra: Shimmin has the right of it, plus if you qualify for even the lowest tier of the kickstarter rewards you get the game in question. So it's not so much like buying DLC so much as buying the full game.
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at 12:41 on 15-03-2012, Shim
I suspect they reason that Kickstarter projects = creators making what they want for an audience of people who want it, without clueless publicity and managerial types causing grief, or compromise for mainstream commercial interests. So artistic freedom, direct connection to the fanbase, and so on.

In contrast, people are pretty suspicious about DLC being stuff cynically omitted from the game to sell separately, or at least stuff that would have been in the game as sold had it been made before DLC was a thing. So they sometimes view it as ripping them off, and it certainly doesn't have the made-to-order, fan-supporting feel as a default.
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