Thursday freebies: so happy it’s Thursday!

I don’t often link to Patreons here (mostly because there are so many that are by really great people that it’s really hard to know who to support. You know? But here’s me pimping a Patreon anyway, because DifferentPlay is a campaign looking to increase the diversity of TRPG game designers by helping designers from underrepresented backgrounds publish their games:

Diversity can’t be founded on charity. We want these designers to connect with the broader community as equals, which means paying them like the professionals they are.

We don’t believe in “working for exposure”. We plan on paying the writers, the editors, the artists, and the layout people at market rates. It helps support our designers, as well as the ecosystem of people creating independent analog games.

Now that they’ve met their first milestone, they’re going to be able to start publishing games! Which is exciting! This is exactly the sort of thing the game design community needs.

The Spawn Point Blog is going to be holding a gaming marathon on January 17th and 18th to raise awareness of police brutality and raise money for Eric Garners family. It will be streaming live on Twitch. #BlackLivesMatter


As has been pointed out on Twitter, GamerGate is doing a really great job!

gj gg

That’s right, Intel is finally making up for their Gamasutra ad boondoggle by massively investing in diversity in the tech industry. Exciting stuff!

Brianna Wu’s Patreon is now raising enough money that she can hire someone to document illegal online harassment!

Read these in reverse order, because Twitter is irritating



I am very curious to see if anything positive comes out of this, enforcement-wise.

I happened to see this screenshot from the new Wolfenstein game and immediately facepalmed.


I could write 2000 words about the game industry and its dangerous obsession with toxic masculinity. Thankfully, Tracy Barnett did such a good job that I can just point you all over here.

(Predictably, the post itself got trolled. Although it was a B- effort at best.)

In this post, Ann Leckie is actually talking about sci-fi writing and the inability of many sci-fi writers to even perceive the sexism problem in their community. But honestly, this analogy is perfect for the gaming community as well. Just perfect.


26 thoughts on “Thursday freebies: so happy it’s Thursday!

  1. Wow, I love the last article by Ann Leckie. It’s basically saying:

    “Yes, if you make a product (game, book, etc) that is in all ways the exact same as a previous one EXCEPT for the fact that it’s not (or less) sexist/racist/etc, this is indeed a genuine improvement in the field.”

    I wonder if any AA video game companies are trying this. Make obvious knock-offs of AAA-titles but with less misogyny and racism. It might actually be a good business model until the AAAs catch on.

    • I know that I, as a consumer, am increasingly less inclined to consume media that regurgitates the same old stories about white cishet dudes. I’m tired of that shit! So if there’s a well-reviewed game that’s actually good at being inclusive, there’s a good chance I’ll play it.

    • Yeah. For awhile, I was wanting to make a version of LotFP that had cutesy art instead of all the weird and horrifying stuff it has. Because there’s nothing implicity gross or wrong with the system re: mechanics, just the implied setting re: art. I read the blanked out art-free system and thought “Hey, this is great!” Then my girlfriend immediately found the Something Awful thread about it and was all “WTF!?” My only defense was “I didn’t know! I never actually saw any of the art, and I’d only heard about it because a feminist game blogger I followed was working on a module for it!”

    • Well, I’d certainly be interested in seeing whether they can re-make some of the games without the sort of “casual vomit” sexism which turns me away from them (I’d be particularly interested in a re-make of Star Ocean IV without the upskirt shots, the jiggly boobs and the “oh I’m just a girl, ignore me” level-up and stat increase comments. The fan service shower scene can go bye-byes for all of me, too). Maybe I’d be able to actually enjoy the whole plot line, rather than getting fed up and walking away from the console.

      [Maybe I should explain the “casual vomit” thing – basically, the way I feel about coming across obvious sexism in games is it’s like someone’s thrown up on the sofa next to me, or on the floor in front of me. Just done en passant, as though it doesn’t matter. Then I have to sit with it for as long as I can before I need to throw up myself. Casual sexism is like casual vomit – I’m more willing to live with it if you’re going to make it a one-off thing, and clean up behind yourself.]

    • Could work for them for a decade, but ultimately the AAA companies will start making toxicity free products exclusively and AA ones will have to rely on shock value of (by our current standards mild) sexism and racism.

      I mean it’s already happeing with Indie games. Just look at Hatred.

  2. Sigh. I am happy that Wolfenstein The New Order is an excellent hybrid of old school shooters and the new school shooter trying to take the best of both,but after watching a guy beat the game in a single sitting 20 hour playtrough the story actually put me off of playing the game for one simple reason: the story had the kind of stupid I stopped tolerating a couple of years ago in shooters (there is at no time in the game an attempt to communicate with people on the enemy side and to try to get them to leave or join your cause, you just shoot them). It does have some good complex characterization of your allies, but the enemies are all blah we are human monsters.

    Guess I can add the difficulty menu to that list, also the menu thing is worse than most people think because the settings in the old shooters used to go: easy,normal,hard,hardcore,insane. Only hardcore and insane had some flavor language to them in some shooters and in most games it was not filled with such blatant toxic masculinity.

    • Even the original Doom flavour-filled difficulty levels don’t seem to have this level of offense:
      “I’m Too Young to Die”, “Hey Not Too Rough”, “Hurt Me Plenty”, “Ultra Violence”, and “Nightmare”.

      I guess UV being a possible reference to A Clockwork Orange might put some people off, but I’m glad the hardest setting isn’t an ableist slur. I mean the names definitely say harder == “you are tougher”, but it doesn’t seem to look like toxic masculinity like “Daddy, Can I Play?” does.

        • The impression I got from the difficulty options, along with the other flavour text on the menu, was more that it was poking fun at that kind of overt hyper-macho nonsense than unironically indulging in it. Along with the “Can I Play, Daddy” one, when you quit the game the “are you sure” notification has options like “press no to save the world, press yes to be a weenie” – it’s so absurd it comes across more as an in-joke at the expense of the kind of old-school shooters it’s harkening back to mechanically. The rest of the game also plays its gung-ho ridiculousness with much more self-awareness and humour than the majority of “generic white guy with no personality guns down zillions of faceless mooks” shooters at the moment, and at times seems to be trying to subvert itself a bit (though how much it succeeds is debatable and highly dependent on personal taste).

          On an unrelated note, the other thing I noticed about the game was that, even with the camp, pulpy tone of a lot of it, it’s one of the few games I can think of where the Nazis are depicted as, well, *Nazis*. It was a kind of interesting reminder of how although the Nazis have been used as generic stock enemies in a huge number of games, it’s surprisingly rare to see a video-game depiction of them that makes a point of reminding you *why* they ended up in that standard-issue bad guy role in the first place.

          • I don’t agree with the levels looking self-mocking. I tried searching for other lists of difficulties for e.g. Rise of the Triad and I was unsurprised to find a huge listing on TVTropes: (open the drop-down menu for Q-Z to find Wolfenstein).

            It looks like the Wolfenstein: The New Order ones are actually just copying the names from Wolfenstein 3D. Do they get a pass because they just copied them without thinking? Is auto-pilot toxic masculinity worse than original toxic masculinity? = \

            Related: look at the extreme difference between the Quit messages between Doom and Doom II:

            • Fair enough – I never played the original Wolfenstein or Doom games (a bit before my time) so I didn’t realise the menu options were just copies of the original. I still kind of feel like it’s too overtly ludicrous to be anything other than tongue in cheek, though.

              Some of those hidden “extra” quit messages from Doom are seriously just unpleasant, by the way.

    • One of the things that struck me about Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold that put it above games like Doom and Wolfenstein in my mind was that there were actually people that you didn’t shoot or didn’t have to shoot. Some of the scientists would be all “Oh, hey, Blake, here’s some meal tokens. Good luck with the Pod Monsters down on Level 6!” Loyal scientists didn’t have to be killed and would attack unless you bothered them or started shooting.

  3. I have read Tracy Barnett’s great post about Wolfenstein, as well as many other insightful comments, but it seems I can’t think of any in depht analysis of my own: my mind stops at how utterly stupid and out of place is to use the word “über” the way they have done for a game set around the events of WWII and nazi invasions.
    My brain sees that and just goes “I can’t even…”

    • Über used this way is always stupid and out of place. I dare you to find one example of well used “über”.

        • I don’t see it. Über is a loanword in englishat this point with slightly different meaning from the original german word. Only group that could be offended by this usage of the word are nazis.

            • Nazis and other fascist are usually antagonists in AAA games. Being universaly accepted as utter evil by everyone else, they are very convinient to use as such.

              BTW, nazism is a subtype of fascism. Fascist ideology doesn’t have to be antisemitic too. If you searched hard enough, you’d probably find some Jewish organizations that could be described as fascist.

  4. I love how gamergbleurgh is totally backfiring now. It’s sad that it took something this bad to wake a lot of people up to the toxicity of some elements of the gaming community, but it’s made the problem too big to ignore or handwave away.

  5. I kind of don’t agree with your criticism of the Wolfenstein difficulty menu. I’m not posting a rebuttal though. This is more a lament about how when people disagree about these issues, they get mad, they go into strawman mode. Like, the person in the G+ thread who declared that because Tracy had a different opinion, he “wished we lived in a world where everything was so pastel”

    • The W:TNO difficulty levels menu was apparently a direct copy of the original Wolfenstein 3D menus from the ’90s. I still lean strongly towards giving W:TNO the benefit of the doubt considering it’s by far one of the least obnoxious out of the current FPS crop (and probably my favourite FPS of the generation, for the record), but at the same time if people mess up then you have to let them know otherwise nothing changes. Mistakes exist to be learned from, and you can only learn from them if people tell you that you made a mistake in the first place.

      • I know all that. I’m not trying to silence wundergeek. I believe her position is valuable and I respect it even if I don’t fully agree. I’m just not personally currently interested in debating my position that the difficulty screen in question doesn’t represent toxic maculinity, but I thought that my view on that was necessary to my comment. I was just trying to say that it’s not necessary to be a jerk when disagreeing about these issues, and it’s sad that so many people who don’t agree resort to jerkdom as a default, as if people talking about these issues at all is some sort of attack. Individuals can disagree. There’s a thing called nuance. The mistake many opponents of social justice make is thinking binary “RACIST/NOT RACIST” type thinking is cherished. I also think it’s valuable to be reminded that not everyone who disagrees is automatically interested in being a verbally abusive asshole who misrepresents the position in question.

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