I enjoy having unpopular opinions

There’s this weird thing that happens where something I wrote a year ago (or two, or three) doesn’t get much attention at the time that I write it, but then someone on Reddit (or Twitter, but usually Reddit) finds it and posts a link and all of a sudden I get a flurry of views and nasty comments about GOD HOW WRONG AND AWFUL I AM.

This has actually happened a few times with my post about the ways in which The Last of Us could have been better, which is especially amusing given that I wrote that post after writing my post about the reasons why I loved The Last of Us to little bitty pieces. But apparently, expressing criticism of a thing completely invalidates any other statements you might make about the thing and I should have known that. Because saying “here’s how thing thing I love could have been even better” is the same as saying “here is a thing that should be destroyed with fire and if you like it you should feel bad because you are bad.”

And I thought that if people are determined to misread me writing about a thing that I actually really, really liked, well shit. Why don’t I at least give these guys some decent ammunition?

So with that in mind…

Unpopular opinion the first: Violence is boring

VIOLENCE IS BORING.

And games where the system or mechanics exist only to create violence? Those games are boring as shit. Hell, I’ll go even further and say that any piece of media centered on violence and/or murder and nothing else is just really, really dull.

For example – this weekend, at the insistence of a friend, I watched John Wick, which is basically 20 minutes of Keanu Reeves being sad about his dead wife (always with the dead wives[1]…) and then like 1 hour of Keanu Reeves just straight-up murdering like a jillion guys, interspersed with people speaking subtitled Russian. Except it was even more boring than how I made it sound, because he didn’t even go on a murderfest because of his wife, it was because someone killed his dog and stole his car – which for some reason inspired this total murderpalooza that happened while Keanu Reeves displayed absolutely no facial expressions. ACTING! And Christ it was So. Goddamn. Boring. It wasn’t shocking or edgy or any of that. It was just the dullest fucking thing I’ve watched in at least a year.

Increasingly – how I feel about John Wick is how I also feel about games.

I’m not saying because I think violence in games is evil and it should go away forever! I was part of the first generation of people to grow up playing video games with explicitly graphic violence beyond just a few red pixels[2] – so it’s certainly something I’m used to seeing.  Plus I’m addicted to Final Fantasy and BioWare games, which means I’ve played a lot of games that feature violence. But unless a game brings some significant not-violence gameplay to the table along with the “murder a ton of [bandits / orcs / demons / robots / aliens / zombies / whatevers]”, I’m just plain not interested.

Call of Duty? Counter-Strike? Hell, even any of the Hitman games? Yeah I have less than zero interest in ever playing them. BioWare at least brings relationships, romance, sex, diplomacy, and alliance-building to its games, and advancing the game means you have to take breaks from murdering all the things in order to deal with the talky bits – which are just as important as the murdery bits. And even despite my deep-seated love of BioWare games, I’m finding the gameplay of Cities: Skylines more engaging and compelling than Dragon Age: Inquisition right now[3].

The same goes for tabletop games. If the rules support only killing things and maybe taking their stuff? I’m just not interested. So things like Warhammer? War Machine? Yawn. No thanks. And even D&D I find I’m increasingly bored with. There’s very little room for innovation in tabletop murder/violence-simulators these days. The design stuff that excites me are the people working on different ways of telling stories that aren’t centered on violence.

But wait, there’s more!

Now that I’ve said I don’t like violence in games, that’s pretty much the same as admitting that I’m not a real gamer, right? However, I’m still concerned that these might not be grounds enough for you to dismiss me, here are some additional opinions that I hold that you can use to completely discount anything I have to say from now on.

I am bad at being a gamer (in the spirit of #badatfandom)

We ❤ Katamari is a better game than anything made by Ubisoft

For that matter, so is Bejeweled Blitz.

So is Angry Birds.

Hell, so is Triple Triad.

I hate every Final Fantasy before 7.

I didn’t finish FF6 because I didn’t care what happened to any of the characters.

Final Fantasy X-2 is a fucking masterpiece and I will cut anyone who says it’s not.

Payne forever and always.

I would rather play Chocobo Hot and Cold for three hours than play a tabletop minis game.

I would rather do laundry than play Warhammer.

I would rather clean my bathroom than play StarCraft.

I hate playing D&D and wouldn’t be sad if I never played it again.

That said, point buy all the way. Random stat rolling is for chumps.

Larry Elmore’s art is okay, I guess, but it’s really not my cup of tea.

Despite having written for Vampire, I’ve never played a tabletop WoD game and I don’t really mind that.

Steampunk is not a genre, it’s an aesthetic, and a baffling one at that.

No BioShock isn’t some deeply philosophical journey. It’s just Ayn Rand plus bazookas.

I enjoy things inspired by Cthulu far, far more than I enjoy anything that actually adheres to the mythos. For that matter, I don’t ever intend to read any Lovecraft.

I only buy one or two roleplaying games per year, and I’ve only ever backed two KickStarters.

I think origin stories are tedious and boring.

I would kill Ashley every time. In a heart beat. EVERY TIME. Don’t like Kaidan? Don’t care. At least he’s not some xenophobic asshole.

I romanced Kaidan.

Peter Molyneux’s games aren’t that great.

The last decent fighting game was Soul Calibur 2. Everything after that is dead to me.

I’ve never played a Zelda game.

Kirby is more interesting than Link.

I only played 3 hours of Elder Scrolls: Oblivion. I found it tedious and boring.

I played 10 hours of Skyrim. I found it tedious and boring also.

I played in a Vampire LARP for 12 years and I still think that the system is complete fucking gibberish.

The “dumbed down” gameplay of Civ 5 (before the expansions) was better than any of the Civ games that came before it.

Xenogears/Xenosaga are terrible terrible games and I would rather do just about anything than play them.

The exploration in Dragon Age: Inquisition is way, way more fun than the combat.

Describing something as “gritty”, “dark”, or “grim” is the perfect way to get me to never ever play it

[1] Jesus. It’s enough to make me say that any movie where a wife/mother dies in the first 20 minutes is automatically a bad movie. That shit is so overused it’s just plain BAD WRITING.

[2] I remember specifically promising my mother to never become an axe murderer if she would let me buy Mortal Kombat.

[3] Though to be fair, that’s probably because DA:I is hands down the worst PC port I’ve ever played. The UX is SO SO BAD.

>Some followup: Jim Sterling, Reddit, and DM’s Roundtable

Before you read any further

So the funny thing about people is that they change. Imagine that! At the time of writing these posts, I never could have imagined that Jim Sterling would have a change of heart, but he did indeed. He was actually gracious enough to let me interview him about how he’s reversed his stance and how that happened; you can read the interview here on Gaming as Women.

The internet being the internet – there’s no real point in taking this down. It’s out there forever. But I can at least put it in context.


 

>DM’s Roundtable follow-up interview

Hey, folks. Before I get to the meat of my post, I just wanted to update you all that last night was the followup interview done with the folks on the DM’s Roundtable podcast. After hearing the podcast that originally went up in which I got fairly lambasted, I was pretty wary of going on. But, happily, things went really well and we had a really positive conversation. Those of you who want to give it a listen can find it here. Fair warning, though, it’s long. (A little over an hour, iirc)

Reddit response to yesterday’s post (trigger warning! rape jokes…)

Why do I read the comments on reddit? Whhhhyyyy? After the backlash I got from reddit over my post about gaming not being sexist against men, you’d think that I’d have learned my lesson? But no, I guess I’m just a glutton for punishment.

So, some dude over on reddit called me an “ignorant judgemental cunt”. The fact that all the horrible shit Jim Sterling has said was meant as humor apparently puts me COMPLETELY in the wrong. Of course, given that in THE SAME COMMENT this dude joked that the difference between football and rape is that women don’t like football.

…so, yeah. I guess I should feel vindicated rather than annoyed. But. Wow. Yuck, dude.

Jim Sterling. Sorry? Well….

Okay, so here’s the thing that prompted me to write a followup post, rather than tackling one of the many other things that I’ve been working on entries about. Kaonashi forwarded me the email from Niero that was mentioned yesterday, and the summary was pretty accurate. “Sure Jim crossed a line and he knows it but he’s a nice guy”.

Which, you know, fine. As an apology it kind of sucks. I have yet to see anything resembling an apology that isn’t full of defensive bullshit from either Destructoid or Sterling, but I’m not about to hold my breath since I honestly don’t expect it to get better than that. An acknowledgment that a line was crossed and that it’s not okay to call people feminazi cunts is about as much as I can reasonably expect since Jim Sterling has proved his worth to Destructoid by being able to get pageviews to Destructoid by saying inflammatory things. Is that out of the ordinary in the gaming world? No. Is Kotaku worse? Oh fuck yes.

Still.

I was skulking the Destructoid site yesterday looking to see if there were any editorials offering a more official apology for Jim’s conduct (there weren’t) when I spotted this post by Jim Sterling about a recent “news” segment on FOX in which the recent rise in reported rapes is blamed on sexy scenes in video games. As is to be expected from FOX, the segment offered no supporting evidence or really any reasoning beyond “be afraaaaaaaiiiiiiid! only FOX can saaaave yooooouuuuuu!”.

Now, is this worthy of ridicule? Absolutely. Does this sort of thing deserve coverage on a major gaming site? Sure. Do the people at FOX deserve to be lambasted for making the same groundless accusations that no one has been able to prove for the last thirty years? Right on. As someone who had to promise her mother not to become a serial killer in order to be allowed to buy Mortal Kombat as a child, I get just as tired of the blame that video games get for just about every social ill that exists. So for once I was cheering Jim on, until I got to the last sentence:

 

Now if you’ll excuse me, there are some vaginas that have not been raped yet, and Kirby told me I need to “get on dat sh*t!”

…really? Really, Jim? Wow. This doesn’t make me all that confident that Jim has, in fact, grasped the nature of the line that was crossed. Calling people feminazi sluts? Not okay. But you know what else isn’t okay? JOKINGLY SAYING THAT YOU’RE GOING TO GO RAPE A BUNCH OF WOMEN.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that hottest chick lists aren’t going away any time soon. Will I mock them? Sure. Are they a staple of “game journalism”? Unfortunately, yes. Ditto with all of the stuff masquerading as “news” that boils down to “hey look! Boobies! We all like boobies, amirite?”. It’s crass, it’s tasteless, and it carries with it an undertone of “tits or gtfo”. But that is still something I can roll my eyes at and walk away from. Jokes about going out and raping a bunch of women? Not so much.

So I’ve just sent the following email to Niero, the editor-in-chief of Destructoid:

Dear, Niero

A commenter on my blog was kind enough to forward the email that you sent him in response to his complaints about Jim Sterling’s comments in the twitter dust-up that occurred last week and I was very happy to see that in that email there was a clear acknowledgment that Jim’s comments were entirely out of line. I want to make it clear that in no way do I support Daphny’s actions – her comments were entirely disgusting and tasteless and I do agree with Jim that no one gets a free pass on discriminatory language just because they happen to be a member of said group.

That being said, I have grave concerns about the larger context of this twitter dust-up when viewed in light of a larger history of things that Jim has said as an official writer on your site. When the flare-up originally occurred, I refrained from taking sides on my blog, but I did put together a chronology of offensive comments that display a consistent trend of denigrating feminists, feminism, women, domestic abuse, and rape. So when I saw your email to Kaonashi, I was very pleased and had every hope that perhaps Jim would be a bit more thoughtful in his official commentary in the future.

Imagine, then, my dismay, when yesterday morning I saw a post by Jim about FOX news blaming Bullet Storm for the increase in reported rapes. Did FOX deserve to be thoroughly lampooned? Absolutely! But Jim ended by saying: Now if you’ll excuse me, there are some vaginas that have not been raped yet, and Kirby told me I need to “get on dat sh*t!”

This makes me very concerned that perhaps there wasn’t any sort of real lesson learned at all and that the apologies were just lip service to win back those publishers that Jim managed to offend with his comments.

Look. I don’t like the boob-centric nature of your website, but I’m not about to start a crusade to take down Destructoid because you folks like boobs. Whatever. I just really hope that you can understand the difference between jokes about liking boobs and jokes about going out and RAPING A BUNCH OF WOMEN. I really do. I’m not trying to be a “humorless feminist here”. I just really hope that you can make it clear to Jim that just as it is never okay to call a woman a feminazi cunt, it’s also never okay to joke about engaging in rape. The fact that it’s a joke does not obviate the fact that Jim is an influential guy within the gaming community who gets a lot of respect for the consistency of his gaming scores and, like it or not, there are people who look up to him.

I do hope that you will relay this message to Jim. And I do very much hope to see Destructoid clean up its act.

Thank you for your time and attention.

I’m not sure if I’ll get a response, or if anything positive will come of it. I mean, I’m not a user on their site and I’m a woman, which already puts me at a disadvantage. But it’s worth a shot, and I hope that those of you that agree with me that rape jokes ARE NOT OKAY in game journalism (or, you know, anywhere) will also send Niero an email and let him know where you stand on this.

That’s all for now