Two Heads are Dumber Than One (A response to Jessica Valenti and Anita Sarkeesian)

Never thought that I would be seeing this.  A grand moment when two hucksters would come together to try and make some kind of grand point that everyone can latch onto.  When these two ideological charlatans would try and change definitions and move goalposts to a place where they are in the right.  Oh wait, we see that kind of shit all the time.  No joke, it’s been the bread and butter of modern feminism.  They spend so much time trying to redefine everything they can that it makes one wonder if there is anything that they can agree on what it means.  Now, we have these two trying to redefine a lot of things.  And because Sarkeesian was just given the ultimate echo-chamber in which to voice her thoughts, she decided to give a whole interview.  Naturally, because Valenti can only “Listen and Believe,” there was no fear of any kind of contradiction.  And because The Guardian has no standards of any kind, they put this shit on their site.  Here’s a link to the article. Now let’s talk about it.

Anita Sarkeesian doesn’t give me the address of her San Francisco apartment over email. Instead, she texts it to me a few hours before we’re set to meet. After thousands of rape and death threats, a bomb scare and an email promising a mass shooting at one of her speaking events, a woman can’t be too careful.

I see that Valenti wastes no time helping Anita get up on her cross. *obligatory statement that I, in no way, condone death or rape threats.  I just know that someone will try and use that against me, so I’ll just head that off now*

For some male gaming aficionados, the most frightening enemy isn’t an animated foe but this 31-year-old feminist with a penchant for hoop earrings, sitting across from me. They’ve called Sarkeesian a con artist, and raised thousands of dollars to film an exposé-style documentary about her (which exposes nothing). Some even created a game in which users can punch an image of her face until it is bloodied.

We don’t consider her a “frightening enemy.”  We consider her a minor annoyance.  She was a more major annoyance, but after all the garbage that has been dug up about her, along with her, along with her extreme sex attitude coming to the forefront, this woman’s days of relevance in the gaming community are numbered.  Oh, and it isn’t the fail-tastic “documentary” that we believe exposes her.  I know that Valenti is utterly-incapable of doing impartial research, but Sarkeesian’s own words damn her.  Or did you not see the “I’m not a gamer” video.  It’s easy to find on YouTube, Valenti.  Listen and Believe.

Sarkeesian, who wears red glasses that match her dye-tipped hair, is extraordinarily friendly and upbeat, considering the level of vitriol directed at her. “It has less to do with the actual content of the work than with ‘How dare a woman say anything about our toys’ – especially a feminist,” she tells me.

No, Valenti. We don’t like a huckster coming into our community and putting out videos where her “research” is other people’s Let’s Play footage and using bad reasoning to give this perspective that video games are sexist and hateful against women, when anyone who has involved themselves in this industry knows that to be patently false.

She found academia somewhat alienating: “The texts are impossible to read if you’re not trained, and I wondered why we would lock away this information for just a privileged group of people.” The feminist theory she read seemed more approachable: “bell hooks used media in the classroom to engage with her students; that idea of pop culture being a common language really resonated with me.”

This line is telling.  There was a great video by Investig8ve Journalism where he looked at Sarkeesian’s work, including her Master’s Thesis, and was able to extrapolate that because she isn’t smart enough to look critically at complicated things, she looks critically at simple things.  That says a lot about Sarkeesian and her worldview.  Yeah, academic texts can be dense.  There’s a reason that I prefer reading Nietzsche to Machiavelli.  That and Nietzsche basically made his works giving the finger to other philosophers for how pretentious he saw the whole exchange.  Fun guy.  But you read things that are complicated because you want to learn.  Sarkeesian doesn’t want to do that.  She wants things that she doesn’t have to think too hard about.  She admires women who dumb things down for her.  And this is reflected in her videos, where she dumbs things down for her audience to the extreme.  While also ignoring dissenting voices.  Because if lesbian and bisexual women don’t exist in her worldview, then she doesn’t have to treat their opinion like it matters.

But the vitriol sparked more interest and support, and by the time her Kickstarter ended, Sarkeesian had raised almost $160,000. The attacks haven’t stopped since: some detractors have manipulated images of Sarkeesian to make them appear pornographic, or depicted images of her being raped by video game characters. All because a woman wanted to make a YouTube series about video games.

People gave $160,000 to a con artist.  I love how you don’t mention the fact that it’s been over three years, and she still hasn’t kept ANY of her Kickstarter promises.  Not one.  She’s three years late on everything, but she is totally in the right.  Feminist logic on display.  And Valenti, do I need to explain to you how Internet trolls work?  How they are loyal to no one, and just want to stir up shit?  How they are ideological mercenaries who will go with whatever idea they can use to make trouble?  Should I also talk about how Sarkeesian has been doing nothing but feeding the trolls for years?  It’s so utterly ironic that she has gone out of her way to feed the trolls, yet now condemns what they do in response.  Methinks this Mrs. Valenti and Ms. Sarkeesian doth protest too much.

While Sarkeesian admits the harassment has taken its toll – how could it not? – she brings the conversation back to the bigger picture. “There are a lot of people who are being targeted who don’t get the attention I do. Women of colour and trans women, in particular, are not getting media attention and not getting the support they need.”

Again, not a mention one of lesbian or bisexual women.  This is not an accident.  The moment, the second that Sarkeesian admits that these groups of people exist (people who may not agree with her assessment of how sexist and awful hot women in games are), her house of cards built on lies comes tumbling down.  It’s all one big joke, really.  The punch line is that you are helping to tell it, Valenti.  That is just awesome.

It got even harder once GamerGate happened. For the uninitiated, GamerGate is a Twitter hashtag, which became an online movement that purported to be about journalistic ethics, but which actually focuses on attacking and harassing women such as Sarkeesian.

Given how Valenti has shown that she does not do any research outside of her echo chamber, the fact that she is so misinformed doesn’t surprise me.

She is frustrated by the way GamerGate has been covered in the media. “All the stories kept decentring the fact that it was domestic violence,”

Remember what I said about redefining terms?  Here’s a good example.  Valenti and Sarkeesian try to redefine Eron Gjoni’s blog post about the end of his relationship with Zoe Quinn as a form of “domestic violence.”  A statement that is both annoying and laughably absurd.  It’s annoying because I am DYING to know how a blog post airing out their dirty laundry is domestic violence.  For real, come on here and explain to little ol’ me how that blog post can be conflated with an act of violence against women.  They could call it libel or any number of things (which it isn’t, as testified by the fact that Quinn is trying to drop her legal case against Gjoni), but domestic violence?  How the fuck does that work?

To GamerGaters, Gjoni’s post laid bare how female game designers get preferential treatment from the media – leading to the movement’s much-mocked mantra, “It’s about ethics in journalism.”

Mocked by people in your echo chamber, Valenti.  Real nice way of showing how biased you are.  Where did you get your journalism education, again?

Besides, as Sarkeesian points out, if this “movement” was about journalism, why wasn’t it journalists who had to deal with a barrage of rape and death threats?

Funny you say that, Valenti.  I guess that you didn’t know about the knife and needle full of an unknown substance that Milo Yiannopoulous was sent in the mail.  Or how a writer for The Escapist was driven to hide herself from social media because her and her family were getting so many threats.  And these people are pro-GG.  Gotta love those research skills you have.  Real winner you are, Valenti.

The truth, Sarkeesian says, is that GamerGate existed for years before it had a name: the same core players, the same harassment, the same abuse. The hashtag just put a name on this “loosely organised mob” that attacked women in gaming, she tells me.

Of course she does.  You’re giving her a pulpit in what was once a respected publication that has become an SJW rag.  Of course she is going to say the most inflammatory things she can about GamerGate.  She does feed the trolls, after all.  She wouldn’t want them to starve.  Where would her next article about how much of a victim she is come from?

“That’s the reason I don’t like the words ‘troll’ and ‘bully’ – it feels too childish. This is harassment and abuse,” she says.

And here we go.  This is kind of what I wanted to get to.  Sorry it took so long to get here.  This is the new deal.  See, Sarkeesian isn’t winning the culture war.  She knows this.  I give credit where it’s due, and she is a brilliant con artist.  But she is aware of just how little the media cares, and how the gaming companies care.  So, since she can’t win the war of hearts and minds based on merit alone, now she has to try and move the goalpost by redefining terms so that she seems even more the victim.  The goal being to get the rest of the media to come back to making her out to be a hero.  It’s brilliant, when you think about it.  A way for her to look like the angelic hero fighting tooth and manicured nail against the EVIL GamerGate.  Since she has no other leg to stand on but her victimhood (because her arguments are garbage and nobody who matters takes them seriously), this is the best she can do.  Since I actually play games, I can have a real discussion with people about them.  I can talk for hours about my favorite games, and debate with people the merits of certain games over others.  When’s the last time that Sarkeesian talked about games without segwaying into her victimhood?  Outside of her hit-piece videos, I mean.  What public event has she done where she’s not a victim?  All ears.

I mention that I’ve noticed an uptick of younger online abusers. Ten years ago, the harassment I received (not uncommon for feminist writers) was mostly from middle-aged men. Today, I get comments calling me a “cunt” on Instagram from boys too young to grow facial hair.

Oh, I see you there, Valenti.  Getting in on that victim train narrative?  Well, you are a third-wave feminist.  No surprise there.

“It sucks,” she says. “It really sucks, and I don’t want to think too much about it, because I can’t do anything about it. It’s my new normal.”

I don’t believe for a minute that any of it bothers her.  Not one.  She’s worked too hard to cultivate this victim narrative for it to genuinely be something that hurts her feelings.  Sarkeesian has made herself into the ultimate martyr, and it’s what she wants.  She wants all this attention and adulation.  She lives in this hugbox of love from all these women who think that she’s so great.  They give her money.  Boatloads of it.  The press has given her so much positive coverage.  Her name was bigger than ever.  She went on The Colbert Report, and that big shit-eating grin of hers told me all I needed to know – she knows she’s on TV  Stuff like that makes me think that not one bit of this bothers her.  Unless she has become so good of a con artist that she is conning herself.

Sarkeesian is exhausted – she hasn’t taken a break since 2012 – but she’s not willing to give up. Even with the death threats, the obsessive abusers, the fear and the enormous personal cost, she asks a question asked by so many change-makers: “How can I give up now? I’m not going anywhere.”

Neither are we, Anita.  You may ignore every opinion that isn’t from a white man, but we are still here.  Gamers have been dealing with this bullshit for forever.  For as long as gaming has been a thing, we have been dealing with disapproval from society.  But you are losing the culture war.  You showed your hand too early.  You started adopting Jack Thompson’s ideologies.  You won’t address that women who like sexy women exist.  You are making too many mistakes.  And now we have AAA devs coming out in support of GamerGate and just wanting the politicization to stop.  Your side is losing this battle, and thank the Spirits.  This battle needed to end years ago.  Now, maybe we can actually focus on moving forward.  You will keep up the victim narrative, so long as you see dollar signs in it.  People like Valenti will keep sucking up to you and heaping praise on you, because she is a needy worm.  But this is what it will be.  Gamers are willing to stick this fight out until the end.  A battle of words, that you will eventually lose.  What’s more, I refuse to believe that Sarkeesian hasn’t planned for that.  As good a con artist as she is, she must have an end game to this.  Or maybe she is overconfident.  Maybe she genuinely believes that she can win this out.  As I said, she may have started to con herself.  If so, then her delusions will destroy her.

Until next time, a quote,

“It’s an election year. We would prefer that voters didn’t use common sense.”  -Aaron Sorkin

Peace out,

Maverick

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SIONU: Until Dawn vs. Life is Strange

When I first played the game Life is Strange, I thought that I was seeing the pinnacle of a game with choice and consequence.  So many choices, relationships that you foster, it all seemed so damn perfect.  However, in this last episode, my faith has been shaken.  Part of that is just how rushed the last third felt.  Like they were trying to tie off loose ends.  Which, to me, says that this game is going to have some plot-convenience that makes it so that there is only one ending.  However, the other thing that has me worried is that I’ve seen a game that does it better.  So much better.  This game has set the bar for me, in terms of a narrative with choice that matters.  It isn’t subtle about the nature of its choice and consequence system, but the number of different endings and different events that could have happened makes it so that you keep wanting to go back and find out what else could have been done.  That game is Until Dawn.

Sorry, Dontnod, but these people took the formula that you are working with and took it to the next level.  Not only do your choices affect who lives or dies, but it affects the relationships and personalities of the characters.  Given the short time frame, the way that they are able to develop characters so well is pretty astounding.  You can sink or save friendships based on your choices.  You can lie to save a friendship that would be utterly destroyed by truth.  You can abandon people that your character loves, or risk everything to save that person.  The level of interpersonal connectivity is just amazing.  And you get to see real results of those choices.

A great example – Chris and Ashley.  By far my favorite two characters in that game, you can develop this relationship into romance, or choose to have her hate him.  Which can end up killing Chris.  You first start this relationship with some conversation options, showing that there is real romantic tension between the two of them.  Then, she is strung up, along with Chris’ best friend, Josh.  You have to make a choice on who to save.  I chose her, and thus you see their relationship really growing.  However, you get another chance.  When the killer ties the two of you to a chair, with a giant saw overhead, they finally confront their feelings.  However, you are again given a choice on who to save.  You can either take the gun in front of you and kill her, or yourself.  I chose to kill myself.  It was kind of touching when she demands to save your life, that you give her that choice.  I didn’t do that.  Yet, when Chris goes to save Josh, she catches up with him at the door and kisses him.  That relationship was developed by the choices that you made.  It was your decisions that made that relationship work.  It was the best in the whole game, in my opinion.

Let’s go to Life is Strange.  I was under the impression in this game that there were two major relationships that you could either develop or let lag.  The first was between Max and Warren.  He’s a sweet guy.  Part of me felt bad that I was going to eventually have to let him down.  I was going to let him down easy.  I thought that it would be at the “Planet of the Apes” marathon.  There could have been this great discussion.  Would have made for a sweet and uplifting conversation.  The second relationship is between Max and Chloe.  At least, I’m pretty sure that was a relationship that could be developed.  The game kept giving me signs that that was an option.  However, in the last episode, both relationships just get rolled over.  No joke, Warren gets treated like an extra, and Chloe…well, I’ll get to my deal with that in a second.

In Until Dawn, your choices have real consequence in respect to the narrative as well.  Your gathering of clues ultimately affects the way that the mystery plays out, and does have a real connection to who lives and dies.  How the characters go into a situation can leave them more prepared for the events to come.  Whether they moved a weapon, looked at certain clues and talked to characters about those clues.  These things mattered.  Meanwhile, in Life is Strange, you do much the same, but it all comes back to how things were handled in this last episode.  Again, it felt like the game was trying to tie off loose ends.  Like the deal with the “Everyday Heroes” photo contest.  That was so rushed.  It all was.  There was this bit where Stella was jealous of Warren giving Max attention.  Did they address that?  Nope.  There are a ton of things that felt glossed over or just forced to be fixed.  Like the connections I made with Taylor and Courtney.  Both of whom offered to give Max a makeover before the Vortex Party.  I was kind of interested to see where these things went.  However, these smaller things got lost in the plot.

The argument against what I am saying I can already hear, and I kind of agree –

Lucien, come on now!  This game is so much smaller than Until Dawn.  You can’t judge the fact that it has to cover things quickly.  They only have five episode.  And each one is roughly 5 gigs.  That’s not a lot of space to tell a very rich narrative.

I do agree with that, to a point.  But there are so many obvious places where the narrative should address things.  Like the deal with Max going to the alternative timeline.  In my playthroughs, I killed Chloe.  Given that she was slowly dying, and I do believe in assisted suicide for terminal patients, I gave her a way out.  It was such an emotional moment.  Yet, when they get back to the first timeline, the game sees fit to say, “yeah, let’s just not talk about this.”  Are you kidding?!  Talk about a great emotional moment!  Having Chloe confront Max about what happened.  For Max to tearfully tell her the truth about what had been done, and for Chloe to realize how much power and how much fear her friend has.  For her to see how much it is maturing her, way too fast.  It could have been a great moment to confront their feelings.  But that ties back in to what happens with Chloe.

Let’s go back to Until Dawn.  In that game, you can have relationships die on the vine, when the people in said relationships die.  Or, as with the characters Matt and Emily, the two can get separated and you never see how their relationship ends.  Of course, Emily hates Matt for abandoning her, and I hate Emily, so I hope that he finds his way to a girl who won’t treat him like garbage.  For real, fuck Emily.  She’s SO annoying.  But the game treats a situation where a character dies and makes it just part of how things go.  I was accepting that Mike and Jess were never able to fix things between them.  They were separated, and for the bulk of the game, I thought Jess was dead.  The scene where she comes back is actually kind of surprising.  Though, they gave her this insane turnaround for her character that is pretty damn depressing.  She might have been a blonde bimbo character to start, but by the end, she is a tragic one, when you find out that this girl has lost some part of herself.  A part she may never get back.  The scenes where she is being interrogated by the cops at the end are so creepy.

The final minutes of Episode 4 of Life is Strange have Chloe being shot, in the face.  I can’t go back.  I can’t save her.  There’s nothing that I could have done to change this outcome.  So, all that relationship building that I have done went absolutely nowhere.  Makes me feel kind of gyped.  Like, seriously?  I go through all that time to make sure that they are on the path to finding each other in a romantic sense, and the game just takes that away from me?  How did I have agency in that?  What choice did I have?  I may watch Ashley get her head ripped off by a monster (it’s shown in a totem), but I have the ability to stop that from happening.

Games that treat choice like it matters have to be done with care.  They can’t just shoe-horn in elements or just go out of their way to ignore or tie things off.  Yes, Dontnod Entertainment has a very limited amount of space to tell their story.  I get that.  But they have created a game where every episode begins with the tagline – your choices matter.  Choose wisely.  That’s what they start the episodes with.  Given the vast amount of choices that I have made, the direction of this narrative seems like it’s going to just ignore stuff out of limitations.  For example – the “Handicapped Fund.”  I was so certain that was bullshit.  After all, an envelope stuffed full of cash in the desk of a drunk who has proven to be corrupt?  That feel so shady, to me.  But the game just glosses over that?  If you are going to argue that they are too limited to address things, then doesn’t it stand to reason that maybe they should have taken the time to have a bigger platform?  I don’t mind downloading something that is more than 4 gigs.  That isn’t too much to ask, if the product is worth it.  The last episode was so bare, in a lot of ways.  Where it shined, it didn’t live up to the personal narrative that this series has been working to tell.  I gave the episode a good score, and I meant it.  However, this game could have been so much more, and it rightly should be.

The last episode is where it all comes to a head.  I am worried that they are setting this up for one of those “it could only have ended this way” narratives.  This wouldn’t be the first game to do it.  Mass Effect 3 had many defenders who said that that was the case with that game.  However, people like myself panned  the ending (the rest of the game was awesome.  It was the last third that was garbage.  Let me make that clear) because of how bad it was, and how much it was just trying to wrap up the plot.  Until Dawn has a plethora of endings.  I am hoping beyond all hope that Life is Strange does too.  Hopefully one where I can somehow save Chloe’s life, because I want my choices in respect to that relationship to mean something.  The groundwork is there.  The elements can be done.  If it’s a little longer than normal, so be it.  Dontnod, do NOT fuck this up!

Until next time, a quote,

“Expectation is the root of all heartache.”  -William Shakespeare

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Until Dawn

Until DawnIn case my gushing about how much I am enjoying Life is Strange hasn’t informed you, I love games where my choices matter.  That’s something that I will always enjoy.  A game that does it well is something I am utterly infatuated with.  It’s part of why I am so nervous about the last act to Life is Strange.  Games that do it poorly piss me off.  When I heard about this game, it was just before it came out.  Then, all my friends tell me – play this game, bro!  So, I go to Gamestop, and they were out.  But then I went to Fred Meyer’s, and I got a copy.  I brought it home, put it in my PS4, and now I can safely say – I’m in love with this game!  This year has had some sleeper success stories.  It’s been a slow year, and I’m glad to say that even though it’s slow, what we’re getting is quality stuff.  Let’s talk about this game.

When I say that your choices matter, they really do.  And this game is NOT subtle about reminding you.  There are several instances in the beginning of the game that throw in your face – YOUR CHOICES MATTER!  Thankfully, the lack of subtlety feels right.  Early on in this game, there is nothing subtle, and thank the Spirits for that.  I love the lack of subtlety.  To put it simply – this game puts you in the driver’s seat of a teen slasher flick.  That’s the best way to describe it.  This is a teen slasher movie, and you have total control over the narrative.  Remember all the times that you said, “man, if I were in their shoes, I wouldn’t have done any of that!”  Now you get to see what you learned from horror films.  Hopefully you were a good student, because now your skills are going to be put to the test.

After a dark event, the full details of which I won’t say because it is a bit of a spoiler, seven friends are gathered at a mountain retreat, a full year after a tragic event in their past.  It’s an attempt to put the past behind them, fix the bonds of friendship that have been tearing them apart, and have some sexy fun.  However, all is not as it seems when they are being hunted.  By whom?  Why?  Well, if you play your cards right, you can find out.  Play them wrong, and you find out just how quickly this game will fuck you up.

If you’re gonna have a teen slasher flick, you gotta have teens who are stereotypical and annoying.  This game has that in spades!  If you thought that the dialogue in Life is Strange was bad at times, you ain’t seen nothing yet.  The dialogue in this game can be bad in ways you can’t imagine, but don’t worry.  This was totally intentional, and I love it.  However, because you control the events of this game, how annoying, stupid, or derpy these characters are is up to you.  You shape the relationships of this game, and since the voice acting is done well (once the plot gets rolling), you care about these characters by the end.  Who lives and dies does become a hard choice, and you WILL get stuck in positions where you have to make those choices.  These are fun characters, and part of that fun is cultivating the relationships and making these characters grow in unique ways.

The next thing that I absolutely love about this game is its atmosphere.  Oh my god, this game looks great!  From the way that the jeans hug the perfect ass of the blonde, to the scenery of the environment, this game looks phenomenal.  It isn’t like the visuals in Bloodborne, but it still has so much depth.  Plus, it takes its time to get you sucked in.  When this game wants to shine, it truly does.  For a good horror film, you need the right atmosphere.  It’s clear that the people who made this game took the time to watch as many slasher flicks as they could, and I am so grateful.  There were moments that made me think of Evil Dead (the original, not that shit-bird remake.  Fuck that movie) or Cabin in the Woods.  Given that this game is meant to be a derivative of teen slasher films, that fits.

Then there is the horror elements.  It’s a teen slasher flick, you need a good slasher.  This is just awesome.  The voice acting the presence.  I have been gripping my controller for hours.  Why did I decide to play this game at night?  In the dark?  Alone?  Is there something wrong with me?  Doesn’t help that there is a party going on across the way at the apartment complex next to mine.  The shouting into the night of drunk people is freaking me out.

I love this game.  With the multiple endings, I guarantee you that you will not finish the game the same way twice in a row.  It is the kind of game that almost demands multiple playthroughs.  Some of the mistakes that you can make are ones that aren’t connected to choices.  There are quick-time events that can just as easily affect who lives or dies.  But the really crazy thing is that sometimes this game puts you in a situation where you can choose to do nothing, and that’s a totally valid choice.  It’s crazy.  Then there are times when the game tells you to freeze.  You can’t move anything.  Not even your controller.  So many options!  So much to do!  Gathering clues, learning, surviving.  It’s a blast!  What sick bastard thought of this game?!  I love them.

Oh yeah, and get this – Peter Stormare is in this!  My friend told me that, and I’m like, “Oh, so does he play some cooky or creepy character?”  He’s like, “Nope.  You’re gonna love this.  He’s in the game just to fuck with you – the player.”  I have no singular reason why they decided to have this element in there, but it’s awesome.  It sounds like Stormare had loads of fun with this role.  Hayden Panettierre is also in here, looking hot as ever.  Haven’t seen her in anything since Heroes

Compelling mystery, derivation on the teen slasher genre, lots of choices, lots of endings, if this sounds like your think – buy this game!  Buy it now!  You probably already have bought it, so I am talking to no one.  Everybody may be gushing about Metal Gear Solid V (a game I have no intention of playing, sorry), but this is the game of my fall.  If this sounds like what you want to play, then do it.  Trust me, you haven’t played anything like this before.

Final Verdict
9 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Critical Examination: Flower

FlowerYou all are about to think that I am such a hipster, because I am about to critically examine a game where you play as the wind and collect flower petals to help you with objectives.  That sounds so simple, and when you say it out loud, kind of dumb.  But there is a lot of subtext in this game, which only my unbelievably-strange and overly-analytical examination might help you all to see.  But don’t think that this is something where you can’t contribute.  For real, if you have your own take, let me know.  I love some good gaming conversation.  Though, if you just want to call me a pretentious hipster faggot, I won’t stop you.  I get that there is something to be said for that argument.  Stick with me, though, and you might see where I’m coming from.

Part One: The Lonely Apartment

Let’s all be willing to admit that there has been a point in our lives where we are somewhere that we don’t want to be.  How many of you reading this have a flat or an apartment in a part of town that we don’t want to be, and the place isn’t that great either.  My first apartment was in the worst part of town, with mold growing somewhere in my bathroom.  It was constantly giving me stomach aches. I could smell it, and I knew it was there, but had no idea where.  I have a feeling that it was behind the shower.  It would explain why my ex and I got so sick the first week we lived there.  That wasn’t fun.  However, all of us have been in a place in our lives that we didn’t want to be, and had to accept it because we either don’t have the money or don’t have the opportunity to go further.

When you first enter Flower, you are in the main character’s apartment. The main character isn’t the wind, as so many think.  It is a nameless person, man or woman, who is in an apartment that they don’t want to be.  It’s grungy, and you can hear a loud computer monitor in the background.  This is not a nice place.  And that, in turn, opens up the world of the wind.  See, those worlds are connected to the protagonist’s mind.  They are daydreams or fantasies.  As you go through each level, and return to that apartment, you begin to notice things.  At the end of the first level, the place has been cleaned up a fair bit, but is still very drab.  That ties in to the next level.  At the end of that, the apartment now has color and looks pretty nice.  However, there is that closed window, like the outside world doesn’t really exist.  Which ties in to the next level.  When you arrive at the apartment again, night has fallen.

The end of the night has you coming back to a rain storm.  Given that each level is showing off the character’s frame of mine, this is when they are at their lowest.  The worlds of their fantasy reflect that, but I’ll get to that when I do.  The end of the storm level is symbolic for more reasons than one.  At the end of it, you have the sun shining through.  The protagonist is finally ready, to accept their life, and move forward.  You get through the last level, and you see the apartment and the rest of the world.  There is sunshine, color, a nice breeze, and everything appears right.  After going through the whole game, this person in this lonely apartment has come to terms with life, and is ready to move forward.  The credits level is a reflection of this.  It’s telling that, instead of it being accessed through a flower, it is through a picture.  All of it is a reflection on life and how far this person has come.  But it also goes back to memory.  That picture is a memory of where they started.  Now, they have come full circle.

Whenever we go to a place where we don’t want to be, not all of us realize that it can be as good or as bad as we make it.  That’s something that I had to figure out.  I got here, and I saw this place.  It’s white and colorless.  But I have found ways of making it my own.  I have a painting that my grandmother left me.  It was the only thing she owned that was to go to a specific person.  Part of me feels weird about that.  Like it is somehow disrespectful.  But I digress.  I also got this really pretty glitter lamp.  With these things, I have helped to make this place my own.  The main character in Flower was in much the same place.  They were somewhere that they didn’t want to be, but through each adventure through their mind, we see that they have been working as well.  Not just to improve their own life, but the life of their community.  By the end of the game, you hear life in the street, and music..  It’s a community that was helped to come alive, with hints that this is something that you have been a part of.  Both you and this protagonist have helped their world in some small way.  But that small way makes a world of difference.  It’s the thing that makes communities grow.

Something that people in the 21st century are seeming to forget is the community bonds.  I’ll give the San Fransisco hipsters one thing – they do have a lot of community.  These people go out and do things to improve the lives of the communities they live in.  That’s not to say that other places don’t have that.  I have heard and read stories about poor communities coming together to improve things.  Goes to show that while there isn’t a lot of hope for humanity, it’s there all the same.  But what about the fantasy?  What about the realms of the protagonist’s mind?  Well, let’s talk about those.

Part Two: The Wind

As I said, each level is a journey into the protagonist’s mind.  And each level has some symbolism to where their mind is.  The first level is, in my opinion, in the most beautiful.  Maybe that’s just because I love nature so much.  However, there is also the amount of detail in this level.  Anyway, that first level is very specific.  The way it’s presented, this place is a memory.  Perhaps of somewhere that the protagonist grew up.  They don’t like the world that they are in, so in their mind they go to a better one.  A world of light and fresh air and freedom.  Despite the limited nature of the game’s design, the way you see that world of grass go on forever, it feels free.  That’s where the main character wants to be.  They want to be free.  They imagine roaming those hills, and the level ends at the base of a giant tree.  That’s important.  Was this tree significant?  A symbol of something being planted?  That could go anywhere.  So let’s end with saying that it is important, even is we may never know why.

The next level is still very much filled with nature.  However, this is something else.  It is a colorless world.  Given that in the real world, things are very colorless as well, the fantasy realm no longer reflects just what the character is imagining.  Now it is affected by the world.  You go through the level, and with each objective you accomplish, you notice that color starts to come into the world.  From the grass and flowers, to the rocks and even the sky.  The color seeps into every part of this person’s world.  When you see what becomes of the world after the level, it is a very clear indication that the color of their fantasy is tied in to them trying to make their world world more colorful.  The thing that I think is most indicative of that theory is when, at the last section of the level, you are able to use the wind to spread color to the areas around these color hubs.  In essence, you can paint your world.  You even get a trophy for it.  That painting definitely says that you are helping to paint your own life.

While I will say that the next level is a little trickier to analyze, let’s talk about it.  You start off on a windy day.  But that isn’t the thing that catches my attention.  The thing that is important to notice is that you have windmills in this level.  It’s the first time that we see technology in this fantasy world.  The world that we know has finally entered the mind of our protagonist, and through this level, you are bringing these windmills to life.  That’s important.  For so long, this character has been fighting against becoming part of the world around them, but now they have a chance to truly embrace it.  They use the wind to bring it all to life.  It is a sign of things to come.  The level ends with the sun going down, and you can see a world beyond where there are street lights.

It may not be the biggest or grandest or most beautiful level, but the night level is no less important.  Here, in this place, the world of technology and nature collide.  Not always in obvious ways, either.  The biggest example of technology entering the world is how you are lighting up street lamps and hanging lights.  You use the wind to also bring nature to life, but it is in a very strange glow, that feels surreal.  Like it doesn’t belong.  That’s important.  However, there are some interesting other parts to the level.  Like how there are these ponds that you can also light up.  You can have fireflies come up, and hear the toads croaking.  A sign of those memories of free days and nature, and how they are becoming lesser because of the technological world that is encroaching.  Each of the ponds is in a secluded place.  You have to look for them.  That isn’t a coincidence.  The memories of childhood are becoming put to the side as well.  The main character is growing up, and they are starting to realize it.  When you get to the end of the level, you begin to have things breaking down.  The lights go out, and it gets very ominous.  Dark shadows are all around.  This is your mind fighting against this world.  It is no longer inviting.  Now it’s cold, and frightening.  You don’t want to be a part of it anymore.  Which leads into the next place.

When we face down adulthood, there is a period when we feel hurt.  When we don’t want to accept it.  Fight against it, but you can’t beat it.  Eventually, we all have to grow up.  The stormy level is the protagonist fighting against it.  It is them not wanting to accept.  The fantasy is falling apart, with technology now a dark and terrifying storm.  It shocks and hurt and destroys.  It is unkind and won’t give you what you want.  Hitting the electrified metal will damage you.  This is that border between depression and acceptance.  They are starting to come to like where they are in the world.  They’ve been working to make it better.  How can they surpass it now?  What will happen?  That’s not an easy thing to ask.  The last part of the level is that darkness collapsing around the character, and depending on how well you do, you may or may not make it out unscathed.

At the apartment, when this level ends, you are looking at the light of dawn coming in through the window.  The night is over.  The worst of the pain is over.  Now, our protagonist has come to accept their life, and is able to move forward.  This level is all about acceptance.  Let’s look at how it begins.  You are literally taking in the light of dawn and using that to destroy the ruins of darkness that have been haunting you.  Smashing through the wreckage, and as you do this, a beautiful and colorful city rises up around you.  The light is not just metaphorical.  It’s spreading to everywhere.  Every place that you touch with the light, as you take out the wreckage, it spread to the city and makes it glow.  If you’re anything like me, you wanted to make every part come alive.  The wreckage gets more densely packed, the further you get in, but using the power of the light, you are able to bust through it.  Eventually, you take that light and then use it to smash through the last of the darkness, in a massive tower in the center.  The further in you get, the faster you go.  You rise and rise through the tower, destroying the darkness and wreckage, until you reach the top and a massive tree sprouts in the center.  It all leads up and up, until you go through a window and see a picture on a table, back at your apartment.  Finally, the main character is able to leave behind the world of fantasy and move forward with their life.  A picture of their time is what’s left.

The credits level is the main character remembering how far they have come.  It is a way to look back and see just how much they have done.  But it is all framed inside a picture, so this is no longer a fantasy.  Now it’s just memory.

Part Three: Adulthood

While this game is partly about a person who is living in a new place and has a new life, there is a very clear parallel to growing up.  We all have to do it.  It isn’t easy.  In this economy, growing up is harder than ever, but we don’t have a choice.  None of us can escape time.  It’s our eternal companion that we walk with.  But it is hard.  The journey from fantasizing about days gone by, to finally accepting that we have to move forward is arguably the most difficult that we will ever have to make.  Though, there is also the fact that we are going to grow old and die that we have to contend with.  That isn’t easy.  The milestones in our lives on the journey from birth to death are the things that make this world nice to live in.  The first kiss.  The first apartment.  The first time waking up with wind blowing in your window and the sun shining.  All of these landmarks make their place in our lives.  We mark them all in our own way.

Flower is a game about growing up, accepting a new lot in life, and making the most of whatever we are given.  Sometimes it isn’t easy.  In fact, it never is.  But that’s the cost of living.  For some, that cost is more than they can bear.  It’s a shame when those people choose to cash in.  There have been times where I’ve thought about it.  However, we all have to make our choices, and live with the consequences.  This person decided to choose to improve not only their apartment, but also their world.  So next time you are looking at your drab wall and feel depressed, hang something on it.  You never know what you might find.  That little splash of color could be what brings you out of the fantasy, into a better reality than has ever been.

What are your thoughts about this game?  Think I’m being WAY too analytical?  Let me know in the comments down below.

Until next time, a quote,

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” -Lao Tzu

Peace out,

Maverick

Ray Comfort and The Flag-Hammer

Here’s something to know about Ray Cumfart – he’s a butthurt little bitch.  I’m about to be really, unnecessarily mean to an asshole that really deserves it.  This charlatan needs to be put in his place.  And since he goes so far out of his way to flag videos about his cinematic stool samples, I know that he reads this stuff.  Or has his ministry’s lawyers read it.  Either way, I have a good feeling that this will somehow reach his doorstep.  But if anyone wants to send this his way, by all means.  Let’s get our opinions out there to this conniving troglodyte.

See, there is a YouTube channel called The Bible Reloaded.  They made this really well-done and difficult video that they put a ton of effort into about Ray Cumfart’s latest stool sample, Audacity.  They made very certain to show NONE of the video or audio footage, but Cumfart and his people are known to get the flagging-hammer out and get videos pulled for copyright.  See, Cumfart is a little bitch.  And whenever someone says bad things about him or his little gay lover Kirk Cameron, he gets the butthurt going.  He got the butthurt going with The Bible Reloaded’s video, even thought it showed NONE of his footage.  Not one little bit.  There was NONE in there!  Yet they still got a DMCA take-down on their video.

This is bullshit!  And it so clearly illustrates how pathetic these Fundies are.  These people do NOT engage in ideas.  They just don’t.  When I heard that Kent Hovind has agreed to have a debate on The Drunken Peasants Podcast, I was in shock.  He will actually come and have a real debate with someone?!  That’s incredible!  Thankfully, the guys at DP have gotten JF Gariepy to debate him.  He’s a really smart scientist and a reasonable person, who I know will do right by the debate.  That gives me hope that it will be something that is interesting to listen to.

But it’s telling that Cumfart has a reputation for bringing his company to bear on anyone who bad-mouths him or his work, even if the people who do this have used NO footage from said work.  Well, Ray, I am bad-mouthing you, you snake in the grass.  I am calling you out for what a shitty person you are.  And just to help make sure that you or your lawyers see this post, here’s an image of your movie.

AudacityRay, let me tell you what you’ve done.  You have attacked someone and done damage to them, for making fun of your cinematic garbage.  You gave a copyright strike to that channel, on NO grounds whatsoever!  I really want to know what grounds you have for doing this.  What?  I’m all ears, ya fucking snake!  Tell little ol Lucien how Ray Cumfart and Living Waters was able to somehow get that video pulled down.  Oh, right, I know.  It’s because YouTube is a bunch of lazy cunts who decided to make a system where someone is guilty until they are proven innocent.

Ray, you got a strike on The Bible Reloaded’s channel, even though they showed no evidence of your video, and even if they had, it was a review, and would have been covered under Fair Use!  But they didn’t!  They used none of the footage!  They made these dorky little animations that were funny and cute.  Now, because you had to be a fucking asshole about a little bit of negativity, they nearly couldn’t post videos longer than 15 minutes, which is the bread and butter of their channel.  You were hurting their income, and the work that they do.  For a video criticizing you.  And the only reason that you dropped the claim is because you could have faced legal action.  Gotta keep that money coming in from the people who buy your shit.  This is so much bullshit, and the fact that you can defend that, along with your gay lover Kirk, is amazing.

Let me say this clearly – Ray Cumfart is a charlatan.  He is a demagogue.  He will go after you if you criticize his works.  He will destroy your livelihood out of spite.  He will fuck up your work, just so that he doesn’t have to get his pwecious feewings hurt.  That’s the kind of man this is.  So, whenever I hard someone talk about how good a person he is, I think to myself – does this person just not pay attention, or do they simply not care?  It could go either way.  And for that, I will happy say – Ray, you suck.  Your movies are cinematic pukestains.  You and Kirk should just come out of the closet and be done with it.  Fuck you.

Until next time, a quote,

“When you tear out a man’s tongue, you are not proving him a liar.  You’re only telling the world that you fear what he might say.”  -Tyrion Lannister, Game of Thrones

Peace out,

Maverick

Another Heartbreak

It’s been long enough that I have my thoughts in order.  A personal post.  You can skip it, if this sort of stuff isn’t your schtick.  I don’t blame you.  This isn’t what I am a fan of either.  But I felt like writing this, because I honestly feel like I am losing some part of me that is really important.  Each day, another part fades away, and I can’t get it back.  I don’t know what to do.  Do I yell?  Do I lash out?  Why can’t I feel anything?  But the question that has been keeping me up at night lately – what’s wrong with me?

All my life, I am have been used by people.  My better nature compels me to be a person who does right and never tries to hurt anyone.  I feel like that’s a good way to be.  The Golden Rule and all that shit.  Do unto others that which you would have done unto you.  But that’s not the world we live in.  There’s no such thing as karma.  There’s no such thing as reward for goodness.  In fact, the world we live in punishes good people for their kindness.  Because it’s too easy to be evil.  Life rewards underhandedness.  It rewards cruelty, because people look for the cruel.  The cruel get things done.  The cruel do whatever it takes, and consequences be damned.  Actually, that’s not entirely true.  The cruel understand the consequences.  They are very careful.  Every move is calculated.  Each action has a purpose.  That’s the true merit of the cruel.  Hence why they go far in this world.  Every part of me wishes that I could be that way.  Because then I wouldn’t be used the way I am.

That’s how it’s always been.  I get used, thrown away, then used again.  Part of that is on me.  I allow it to happen.  I don’t have to, but I do.  That’s a personal flaw.  One that I will have to work to correct.  Not easy, but I figure that it must be possible.  Should I ever grow the willpower.  People use me, and when they no longer can get anything from me, when I no longer serve a function, they case me out.  To quote the Joker, “like a leper.”  Lost so damn many friendships along the way.  But you know, that isn’t what bugs me.  Not at all.  What bugs me is the relationships I’ve lost.  Like just recently.

I got dumped.  Again.  Dumped by someone who didn’t even give me a chance.  I got a Dear John text.  That’s right, a fucking text.  Little bitch didn’t even have the balls to say it to my face.  Didn’t have the guts to come to me and tell me that she doesn’t want to be with me.  She had to go and do it at work, and I was stuck spending the next several hours trying not to cry.  Trying not to let my emotions show.  That’s how she did me.  Why?  Because I have depression, and she doesn’t want to date someone with that.  Yeah, because it’s not like we worked last time!  We were good!  We were better than good!  But just like last time, she had a problem and then chose to not talk to me about it.  The fundamental bedrock of a relationship, and I guess that it was totally lost on her.  So, I get a text, at work, telling me that I am being let go.  However, it didn’t end there.

See, she chose to excise herself from my entire life.  In every conceivable way.  You’d think that would have made it easier.  I wanted to be mad.  I wanted to be upset.  I wanted to feel something.  Anything!  I feel nothing!  Ever!  My whole being is numb.  I feign emotion.  I feign feeling things.  But the truth is that everything is just numb.  That’s the thing that is keeping me up at night.

I feel like my soul is slowly dying.  Like I am decaying from the inside out.  Everything is just rotting.  The process will take many years.  But each day, I wake up with a little less of who I am inside.  My old life died in a hospital bed, and my new life is slowly dying with each dawn that I wake up.  Imagine that you are in bed, but when you wake up, some part of you is left behind.  And that part just shrivels up and then blows away in the breeze.  So when you get back to bed the next night, it’s gone.  That’s what I feel like.  How many dawns before I’m not leaving something behind?  Where does it end?  Way I figure it, it ends when I die, but I could have a LONG time before that.  But when I get there, I will be so rotted and so hollow that the very act of showing emotion will be too much effort.

So I guess that this is a self-fulfilling prophecy, isn’t it?  She doesn’t want to be with me because she doesn’t want me to end up like her dad, miserable and alone.  Now, here I am, miserable as fuck and alone.  I swear, the little cretin has a gift.  As I stare into the glitter lamp that now fills my apartment with gentle light, all I can think of is – I am such a fool.  I kept wanting to believe.  Wanting to believe that if I tried hard enough, put enough effort in, that things could work out for me.  But it’s not true.  Instead, here I am, 26 years in on this waste of time that is my life, and I’m not wiser, better off, or fulfilled than when I started.

My inner romantic is dead.  After years of trying to bury it or ignore it, it has finally died.  I gave it so many chances, but it kept throwing me in the dumpster.  Now I threw it out.  I feel no more desire for romance, of any kind.  The story is done, and you know what, I’m glad.  Now all I have to do is play out the rest of my story and then go see who is the right.  If it is the Christians, and I go to get judged, then I have a beating to give God.  The kind that he isn’t getting up from.  If he exists, he can die.  Might as well be me who does it.  None of it matters.  In the end, I will just fade away.

No one will miss me.  Not one person.

Until next time, a quote,

“We are selfish, base animals, crawling across the Earth. Because we have brains, we try real hard, and occasionally aspire to something that’s less than pure evil.” -Gregory House, House M.D.

Peace out,

Maverick

SIONR: The Last Airbender Sequel is Happening…

I have only one question – who keeps giving M. Night money?!  This man is a shit director who can’t make a good movie to save his life!  My cousin Peter said, “this just goes to show the power of making one good film.”  He of course was talking about The Sixth Sense.  I pointed out that it was two good movies.  The other being Unbreakable.  Two good movies is all it takes for Hollywood to ignore all the flat-out garbage that this man has made?  How does that work?!  Hollywood nepotism must be the stuff of legends.  Never mind, we already know that, don’t we?  After all, Tyler Perry and the Wayans Brothers keep being given money.  But after taking a fucking dump on one of the greatest animated series of all time, Shyamalan is back, and he’s ready to do it all over again.

This is a genuine mystery to me.  How on Earth does this man keep convincing people to throw money at him?  Do the people funding his movies even watch them?  Does he dutch rudder the producers when nobody is looking?  What is the reason?

Let’s look at M. Night’s career.  The Sixth Sense was great.  It was iconic.  The fear was there, the atmosphere was good, and the twist at the end caught us off-guard.  Unbreakable was also pretty damn good.  A serious look at how much being a superhero in real life would be very unpleasant, with another good twist.  It isn’t anywhere near as famous as your previous film, but it was still pretty alright.  To all the people who like Signs, I’m sorry.  It sucks.  It’s so stupid.  I mean, the aliens can’t get through a wooden door?  Really?  And they came to conquer a planet that is filled with the thing that kills them?  Really?  Who can defend that garbage?  That’s when the path really started to turn.  Lady in the Water was pointless.  It was basically Shyamalan sucking his own dick.  After all, his character is the chosen one, whose works would not be understood in their own time.  Real subtle, Night.  Really fucking subtle.  Then we have The Village.  That movie.  Why does it exist?  For real, what was the point?   Nothing happened.  Nothing at all.

Then came the films that were so awful that they are amazing.  Like The Happening.  It was plants!  The twist is that it was plants!  The moment in the film where it’s discovered that it’s just plants were great.  But it gets better.  Like the scenes where Mark Wahlberg is talking in a squeaky and nasal tone.  Or when he talks to a plant and asks it if it’s okay for them to use the bathroom there.  That scene is iconic.  Oh, and let’s talk about After Earth.  I guess I can’t blame you too much for this, M. Night.  After all, Will Smith was all over this production.  Kind of dropped the ball there, huh big guy?  Yeah, that was pretty bad.  But still kind of funny.

However, the crowning achievement of failure from this man has to be his adaptation of The Last Airbender.  That film is so bad and takes such a giant dump on its source material.  What’s more, I can’t even laugh at the admittedly-funny parks because of had badly it shits on the source material.  Aside from Dev Patel, who admittedly was doing his best, every single character in that movie was fucking garbage.  Complete and utter garbage.  Where did any of those child actors learn to “act?”  They clearly learned in a place where they did no actual learning.  I hope they stayed in school, because there is no future for them outside of that.  Add to that the TERRIBLE bending in the film.  All that fluidity and smooth motions that were praised in the original series, based on actual martial arts, were thrown out the window for that film, so they could have people flailing their arms around like imbeciles.

After how unbelievably-bad that movie was, who is looking forward to the sequel?  That’s not rhetorical.  If any of my audience is, please tell me.  And be so kind as to tell me why.  I legitimately don’t get it.  I mean, you want to see more of that?  You want to see more terrible child actors and their terrible “acting?”  M. Night recently came out and defended his film.  He just didn’t get why people didn’t like it.  After all, he got kids too!  The show had kids!  M. Night logic.  Reminds me of when I would see the director of Birdemic try and defend his work.  Neither of them seem to realize that people only watch their movies now to make fun of them.  Actually, that’s not accurate.  M. Night seems to know that.  He just doesn’t get why.

Well, if M. Night wants to waste his time and money on a movie that people will only see because it is guaranteed to suck.  It is a genuine mystery to me who gives this man money to make movies.  Either they never watch his stuff, or they just don’t care about quality.  That’s Hollywood for ya.

Until next time, a quote,

“I would gladly have accepted a heaping spoonful of nepotism when I got out of college and was looking for a job.”  -Sloane Crosley

Peace out,

Maverick