Friday Freebie, plus some other stuff

The incomparable Leigh Alexander wrote this piece about Tidus and Final Fantasy X, which I can identify with deeply. I’ve played the game four times and sobbed at the ending every time. This is a game that will forever have a place in my heart.

With the approach of GenCon, a lot of people have been saying smart things about convention-preparedness. Rather than link to them all, I’m going to link to one post by Hans Cummings which starts with a roundup of convention advice posts and then goes on to provide some really great tips for how to make sure that you aren’t impinging on the con’s accessibility for people around you. (This should be required reading for people who attend conventions.)

Science communicator Vanessa Hill made this excellent video about the psychology of online trolling. So of course Lewis’ Law was proven once again when Vanessa Hill subsequently… got trolled. (Which feels strangely recursive.)

You look stressed. Have some animals taking selfies.


Now that things are calming down a bit at the day job, I’m starting to turn my attention back to more complex posts, as well as more posts about actual games I’m actually playing. I’ve also started chasing data points for my thing about sex workers in video games, although simply opening the spreadsheet makes me wince:

This is just a small snapshot.
This is just a small snapshot.

I fear this is turning into my white whale. I WILL CONQUER YOU! NO SPREADSHEET CAN DEFEAT ME!


I also intend to write about my thoughts on Lightning Returns, which I’m mostly enjoying. And of course I’m sure I’ll have several posts about this year’s GenCon. So there’s a preview of what’s brewing.


I’ve been really busy with prep for GenCon. That said, instead of actually finishing up GM prep materials, I found myself having to write this. And after writing it, I thought it would be good to put up a bit more visibly:

WRT “proof” of harassment, I am not obligated to “prove” my personal experience, not even to have it evaluated so that it might be (in)validated by an “objective” third party. The entire idea is nothing more than victim-blaming, because it places the obligation on the harassed person to “prove” that they have been victimized. If you’re not willing to believe me when I talk about my lived experience, how can I reasonably believe that you’re suddenly going to take me seriously if I jump through this extra hoop? Especially when that lived experience dictates that jumping through the hoop is useless, because the goalposts are just going to get moved anyway. “He wasn’t being serious”, “it wasn’t actual harassment“, “that’s just the way he is”, etc etc etc. So if I say “I’ve been victimized” and your response is “prove it”, you’ve already proven to me that you don’t have the basic human empathy for this interaction to be worth my time.

I get to decide who is worth my time and who isn’t. You are not entitled to my time OR my attention. Nor am I obligated to care if you think that I am lying.

Which, by the way, is an accusation that has gotten thrown around a lot. And you know what, FINE. We’re part of a hobby where the harassment and marginalization of women is so routine that it’s taken for granted. Anita Sarkeesian. Jennifer Hepler. Jade Raymond. All documented, all in the public eye. But if I speak up about my particular experience? And I don’t provide reams of documentation spanning multiple years, or if I say I don’t want to name someone because I’m trying to avoid the inevitable fallout of such an act? Easier to believe that I’m just making it up for the fun of it. You know, for attention. Because it’s not like women face social and professional consequences for speaking out about that stuff. And we certainly never have to try to balance the desire to speak truth to power with the need to protect our own personal well-being.

Lastly, the idea that victims of harassment would pay attention to what the person who instigated that harassment has to say on the subject of their harassment is, frankly, ludicrous. You know what many victims of harassment want? To be left the fuck alone. And that’s what block functions on social media are for! Which many victims of harassment use to keep their social media mostly tolerable. So if a guy that I’ve blocked makes a call to have people report his block-worthy behavior with a supposedly “neutral” third party… Good for him? I’m not necessarily going to be aware of that. Because again, NOBODY IS ENTITLED TO MY ATTENTION.

That said, it’s not anyone’s business but I have been having conversations with people behind the scenes and am trying to make something positive come out of all of this nonsense. Make of that what you will.

So that’s a thing that happened.

10 thoughts on “Friday Freebie, plus some other stuff

  1. I hope your GenCon goes well!

    Thanks for the link to the “impinging on accessiblity” post. I realize now that I’ve been doing similar things in theatres & music halls, where I step over the legs of someone who is sitting between the stairs and my seat. I always told myself “if they look like they would have trouble getting up and squeezing out of the way, I can just step over their feet”. I think I’m tall & skinny enough that it isn’t always a problem, but I should really be more considerate & ask if they’d rather get up, rather than deciding for them.

    If only our society had a pre-established “you don’t sit down at the edge of the row when there are middle seats left” protocol this wouldn’t happen at all. I guess part of my tall & healthy (for now) priviledge is recognizing that people “in my way” are doing the best they can and don’t deserve to be treated like obstacles.

    • Something else which might be worth considering: those people who are sitting on the outside edge of the row might well be people with (for example) mobility issues, or sensory processing issues. If you have mobility issues, it can be hard to move in a confined, narrow space (such as between two rows of seating). If you have sensory processing issues, it’s often a lot easier to get up and leave, should you find yourself reaching overload point, if you aren’t sitting in the middle of the row of seats. People can have valid reasons for not taking the centre seats in a row of seating. It all has to do with the difficult process of living as someone less abled and/or non-neurotypical in a world which is built by and for the neurotypical fully abled.

      (I’m mainly pointing this out for the sake of information. It’s not intended as a personal criticism).

    • I have many pet-peeves related to things like that, especially with regards to big crowds in public transportation, or large crowds at festivals, or people just walking on the sidewalk but “pet” is the important part of that mini-rant. It’s a petty annoyance. It’s nothing compared to what less-abled people have to deal with.

      A lot of the problem is that people in general tend to have bad tunnel vision, especially in crowds. It can be hard to look further ahead to see where space will be, or be aware of who’s behind you, etc, etc, etc, and it applies in more meta/intersectional ways too.

      I’m lucky in that I was a lifeguard for a few years and if there’s one thing I learned from that job it’s “scanning”. Look around. All the time. Be aware. Look in someone’s eyes. Look in the next person’s eyes. See space. Notice things. Don’t stare, don’t get tunnel vision. It’s a very useful skill to have in a big city, and it can be hard to adapt to quickly if you find yourself in a big crowd.

      It’s also a good skill to apply in more meta ways, and I was bad at it for a long time.

      But to be petty again, if I could hand out monetary penalties to people who stand on the escalator during rush hour I would be a happy man.

  2. Something I have been thinking about in the run-up to Gen Con and throughout the various recent kerfuffles is that some designers and publishers are indeed taking quiet stands in favor of inclusiveness and (occasionally) even against harassment. But we don’t see a strong and visual public movement among convention goers to show how we feel as a community. And the demographics of our population still allows those who think they speak for all straight white males to feel justified in spouting hatred and bile.

    What I want is a Gamer Ally Pin.

    Similar to the various Straight Ally pins with which I can show my support for equality across all spectrums of gender and sexuality, this would be a pin that in its small way would show that I support inclusive game design and inclusive play, and that I do not support or tolerate harassment of anyone for any reason within my hobby.

    I realize this seems like a merely symbolic gesture, but I know many people that would wear them. And the more visible this idea becomes, the more we can isolate the reactionary jerkfaces who falsely believe their opinions to be in the majority.

    So, does anyone know of a symbol or button like that, and if not, who’s going to make one I can buy?

    • I feel like one probably exists? But if it does I’m not aware of it. I really like the IDEA, but it’s not something I can devote bandwidth to at the moment. But if you’d like, I know a lot of artists who might be interested in helping?

      • I completely understand. You have books to draw. But yes, I would be willing to suggest the idea to multiple people and see if anyone wants to design it. If you have thoughts on who might be interested, I would be happy to follow up.

    • At my school you can get lowercase “f” buttons from the Diversity Office. I think they just make them in-house with a button-maker. That gave me an idea for how to implement your idea:

      1. get/borrow a button-press (e.g.×500.jpg)
      2. Set up a table, with a poster describing the goal of the mission, and invite people to “make their own ally button” using construction paper, magazine cutouts, and the button press. People could donate 0-50c per button for the cost of the raw button materials. Most conferences I’ve attended have had informal/flex room available for non-commercial activities like public games, so you could set up there. If it’s not available, you could set up near the entrance during the entering rush.
      3. Print out some of these blog posts & articles to hand to people when they make buttons.

      Easier said than done of course, but this is definitely an implementable idea with a couple volunteers, assuming you can find a button press.

      • That is a SUPER AWESOME IDEA that I would totally do if I wasn’t leaving for GenCon in, like, less than 48 hours. (AAAAAAA!!!) But I’ll talk to some folk and see maybe if that’s a thing that might get adopted for the future?

        Seriously. It sounds super fun.😀

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