Friday Freebies: the apology edition

Before I get started, a few notes:

So here’s the deal: we’ve just entered the busy season at my day job. More workload means less time and bandwidth, means less ability to post here. Go Make Me a Sandwich is going to be my first priority when it comes to writing, but I still have to go to my job and be a mom as well as all that other stuff. Not to mention that this is convention season, and I’ll be attending a couple of those. Lastly, I just signed all of the paperwork to start a big, really exciting project that I’m super excited about. I think it’s going to be a really good thing for tabletop! Unfortunately, it’s on a deadline and it’s not something I can really talk about until after it happens. So that will be a factor too.

My goal is to get one paid post up per week, and I will try to get freebie link posts up as well. Realistically that may not happen. I promise things will pick up again once we get into late summer, and I do have some cool stuff in the works. Thanks for bearing with me.

And now on to the linkage!

Leigh Alexander is totally killing it

Over on Offworld, a new BoingBoing affiliate, Leigh Alexander has been totally killing it with a ton of interesting articles. My favorites lately include: A look at the disturbing trend of bootleg Frozen games, a really interesting profile of indie game developer Nina Freeman, and a piece about Holly Gramazio’s absurd game Pornography for Beginners which lampoons the UK’s new anti-pornography laws.

I would say that OffWorld is definitely worth subscribing to.

Noelle Stevenson, similarly killing it

Noelle Stevenson, the creator of Nimona and one of the writers for Lumberjanes, is one of my favorite people on Twitter.

Recently, she did a series of tweets about the lazy trope of introducing a male antihero by having him wake up to a beautiful woman he clearly has just slept with, suggesting possible alternatives which are all brilliant:

 

antihero
CLICK FOR LARGER MORE READABLE VIEW

 

anti-GamerGate awesome meets GamerGate shenanigans

Recently, ABC did a radio story about GamerGate that characterized it as, you know, what it is – an abusive hate group. Predictably, GamerGate responded with complaints about biased coverage and ABC responded with actual, journalistic integrity! Who knew?

Twitter unveiled some new policy updates regarding harassment, which look promising! However, in the same week they also unveiled a “let any old rando direct message you whenever” feature that left most of my Twitter feed asking WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK WHO WOULD WANT THIS? (Thank heavens it is opt-in.)

The Verge had some great coverage of an awesome story: Zoe Quinn spoke to Congress in a congressional briefing on online harassment and cyberstalking!  It should be noted that The Verge is an example of how to correctly cover such an event, while Polygon’s coverage gets everything so wrong I can’t even. Brian Crecente does some amazing verbal footwork to completely dance around journalistic responsibility; not once does he mention the fact that GamerGate is an actual literal hate group. Worse, he falls back on false equivalence in attempting to present “both sides” which is both reprehensible and cowardly in the extreme.

One of the things that I have been interested to see is how the internet community has been responding to GamerGate as a new reality by creating new tools and platforms to help targets of abuse deal with that abuse. I’ve linked to Crash Override and the Online Abuse Prevention Initiative before, but now there’s an awesome KickStarter by the creators of iHollaback! to fund the creation of HeartMob:

WHAT: After 18 months of planning, collaborating, and creating working prototypes, Hollaback! is launching HeartMob, a platform that provides real-time support to individuals experiencing online harassment – and gives bystanders concrete actions they can take to step in and save the day.

HOW: HeartMob allows users to easily report their harassment and maintain complete control over their story. Once reported, users will have the option of keeping their report private and cataloguing it in case it escalates, or they can make the report public. If they choose to make it public, they will be able to choose from a menu of options on how they want bystanders to support them, take action, or intervene. They will also be given extensive resources including: safety planning, materials on how to differentiate an empty threat from a real threat, online harassment laws and details on how to report their harassment to authorities (if requested), and referrals to other organizations that can provide counseling and legal services.

Bystanders looking to provide support will receive public requests, along with chosen actions of support. You can “have someone’s back” and know that you’re helping them out in a time of need while directly contributing to safer spaces online. HeartMob staff will review all messages and reports to ensure the platform remains safe and supportive.

They’re currently $2000 shy of their goal with 21 days to go. I hope they meet all kinds of stretch goals because this seems like it will be a really great tool.

[Trigger Warning: Harassment and pedophilia]

Okay, this last one’s a bit convoluted so bear with me.

Last week at Calgary Expo there was a booth funded by Honey Badger Radio – a GG/MRA-affiliated group – which was selling GG merch and sending MRAs to troll panels. Calgary Expo, thank god, took swift action and booted them from the convention.

Enter Anne Wheaton (yes that Anne Wheaton), who blogged about this in light of her attendance at Calgary Expo. Predictably, GamerGate didn’t take kindly to that, and started flooding Anne Wheaton’s mentions with harassing messages. So she announced that for every harassing message she got from a Gator, she would donate $1 up to a cap of $1000 to Feminist Frequency. John Scalzi jumped in and said that he would match, and unsurprisingly they got to $2000 in pretty short order. Go Anne!

…unfortunately, GamerGate – ever eager to prove that even when you think you’ve hit bottom there is always another basement where the internet is concerned – responded by saying they were going to donate a matching amount to NAMBLA. (I hope to god that this wasn’t serious.)

Tuesday Freebies: the edition with infinite class

Well, folks. I’m hard at work on another paid post, and it’s an art post! And it will be glorious. (And maybe a bit NSFW.) Unfortunately, it’s not done yet and I won’t get a chance to finish it until tomorrow. So in the mean time, let’s have some freebies!


Things that are useful

This post is a fantastic look at communication styles, and how clashing communication styles can cause women to just quietly leave gaming groups without ever addressing the problems that are bothering them. This should be required reading for GMs who frequently game with new people.

Also, I really do try to avoid linking to The Escapist, because seriously fuck them and their #GamerGate apologism. However, this piece is an excellent look at swords and those who say it’s “unrealistic” to portray women fighting with them.

Lastly, this isn’t useful so much as “really effing cool”, but I could totally see this getting used in tabletop campaign, so… Turns out, a Swiss taxidermist did a facial reconstruction of the tattooed Siberian princess that was unearthed last year. And she looks so metal! I’m totally going to play her in a game some time.


Thing related to #GamerGate

The incomparable Leigh Alexander gave a talk about 90’s culture and how it ties into trends that led to the current state of game culture. It’s super fascinating (especially for me as a child of the 90’s), and the entire talk is online for free. Though make sure you skip to about 10:00, since before that they were just streaming technical difficulties in setting up the stream. Of particular note, the second question that she took was some dude trying to punk her using #GamerGate talking points. Beautifully, she dismantled him and his BS question – politely, and with infinite class. It was pretty much the best. (Transcription of the exchange is here for those who don’t want to watch the whole video.)

Also of note, Feminist Frequency released its first annual report since becoming a registered charity. And like everything that Anita Sarkeesian has a hand in, I am super impressed by how polished it is, and how it paints an honest picture of the current state of game culture while also remaining full of hope for the future.

Lastly, you may have heard about the flap over several feminist Wikipedia articles being censured for their part in a dispute over articles about #GamerGate. Turns out, initial reports may have been exaggerated? This is an interesting behind-the-scenes look at what’s going on that manages to be informative without being boring.


Things I wrote!

Lastly, I posted the following on G+ in a private thread in response to someone asking how people with longer-running Patreons feel that Patreon has affected their art. It covers ground I haven’t previously covered here, so I thought I’d repost my comment in full here on my blog:

Okay, so disclaimer, I’m using it to support my blog. So, you know, is blogging “art” and all that…

I think the first and most important factor for me is that I wouldn’t have been able to re-launch my blog without Patreon support. I would need to chase other paying work. That is a not-inconsiderable factor. If you are economic circumstances that privilege you from needing to consider profitability of art that you make, that’s awesome! However, for myself and other artists with constrained budgets, Patreon is invaluable simply because it gives us freedom to make what we want to and not simply what will sell like gangbusters.

Now, from a personal standpoint, what has it meant to me personally and my work?

If anything, I find that my standards for what should be a paid post have risen since I first started blogging again. I’ll admit that it’s in small part due to the scrutiny that I’ve gotten from some quarters over being a “professional victim”. But mostly it’s because I want my patrons to stick with me for the long haul, and since I’ve hit a plateau in terms of patron support it’s important to me that I maintain strict standards of quality/quantity in terms of posts that I make as paid.

As far as does it influence what I choose to blog about? Sure. Of course it does. Some of that in good ways and some of that in not so good ways.

The not-so-good is that because I feel pressured to deliver quality posts, I sometimes fall into being silent when I don’t feel like I have things of worth to say. And that’s a trap! (I wrote about it at length here.) I’m trying to be better at not doing that, and also trying to do more free, off-the-cuff things so I don’t fall into that trap of not making paid posts because I’m feeling particularly worthless that day.

However, the good is twofold. First, that the accountability that I feel to my patrons has pushed me to improve my craft. I spend more time on my posts than I did pre-Patreon, for the most part. And I think the difference shows. Also, again because I feel pressure to deliver value, I’ve pushed myself to break out of my comfort zone and start experimenting with different kinds of posts. Like Claustrophobia! That was done with the intention of making it a Patreon thing. I never would have thought to do that sort of thing pre-Patreon, because I wouldn’t have been able to believe that people might find it valuable.

It’s not 100% awesome. There are the above difficulties. I also did another roundup of pros and cons here.

And then there’s just practical stuff. Like how Patreon’s UI SUCKS DONKEY BALLS. But for me, it’s been a game changer. And I think it’s a great thing for art overall, and for me as an artist personally.