Getting Older as a Gamer

For those of you who don’t know, which is all of you, I’m a 30 year old man.  Yup, I’m a man of 30 years, and I am a gamer.  As you can imagine, this is something that isn’t easy to rectify in modern society.  My age group has all gotten older, and as they have, their interests have changed.  Which leave me being stuck wondering if I have less and less in common with everyone as the years go by.  And having fewer and fewer people to talk to.  The future doesn’t look good, from where I’m sitting.

I work at an office that is primarily women.  You know what that means?  It means that the bulk of everything that everyone talks about is mom stuff, home life stuff, and female as fuck stuff.  As you might imagine, I have ZERO dog in this.  Of any kind.  Got a ton of girly-mates, but to date only a couple of them have made the jump to have kids (because they didn’t accept that overpopulation is killing our species), and of those who remain, I have some common ground enough to talk to about other stuff.  Even the female things can be engaged with, to a point.

As I have no children, and as of this year will no longer be able have children, my reference point in this is that they exist.  And because I am a giant, they like me.  The reason why is always going to remain a mystery.  Maybe it’s because while the adults are talking about their gardens and their family vacation, the kids could swarm into my den and I’m playing games and they can talk with me about their favorite superheroes or ask me questions and I would give them candid answers.  Instead of their parents who would give them stupid answers.  Like a Jehovah’s Witness mom whose kids used to chill with me and I would give them smart people answers about things like evolution and the nature of reality.  Something their mother knew precious little about.

With no family of my own, and no personal life to speak of, I don’t have a whole lot going on.  I do my job incredibly well (too well, in my opinion.  It’s gotten REALLY boring), and then go home to my empty fridge, laptop for Internet perusal, and my TV, which is where my consoles are hooked up to.  What does this have to do with anything?  I’ll tell you.  I have no one to talk to!  Got all a hobby that I think is fun, is part of my ongoing mission to find a good story that I can sink my teeth into revel in.  But who do I have to talk to about it?  No one.  If I even tell people I work with about my hobby, then I’m a man-child.  Just some loser who never left high school.  Being a gamer as one heads into middle-age means that you are looked down upon.  There is a HUGE cultural stigma against people like me.

Granted, this is going to change.  Gaming is now a bigger industry than Hollywood.  It’s outpacing Hollywood pretty fast in terms of financial and social engagement.  It’s one of the fastest-growing industries in the world.  Sure, it has its rough spots, but overall, it is still growing.  With more and more people engaging in his hobby, in a growing time of social isolation due to anxiety at dealing with real people, it’s a virtual guarantee that I am not going to be alone in my 30’s while still gaming.  The numbers are going to keep going up.

But that’s down the road.  For right now, I’m in this place where I have absolutely no one to talk to about anything.  I have to regale people with my endless amount of knowledge that doesn’t even to the slightest degree tie in to anything I do.  My vast plethora of useless knowledge that not one single person gives one dusty fuck about.  That’s what I got.

I lead a lonely life.  While more and more people are announcing marriages and whatnot, I sit here thinking “Can’t wait for November!  Finally gonna get to see what Death Stranding is like!”  Or “April 2020!  They’ve finally announced a release date for Cyberpunk 2077!”  However, I know there is absolutely no one that I can talk to about this.  It’s just gonna be me, listening to myself.  While I keep clicking away at a keyboard where I do my job, managing over 1,500 cases.  This is my life.

In the broad scheme of things, it could be a lot worse.  But as human beings (a species that is built on connection), perhaps you can imagine what it’s like to be in a situation where you are all alone in a place that you work.  I did have a coworker who I at least could talk movies with.  She would get all mad at my thoughts on modern Disney.  Loves her some Disney in the most die-hard way ever.  I’ve never been the most popular guy wherever I go.  Trust and believe.  I’m a contrarian, jaded, nihilistic, a bit of a libertine (but I keep it classy), and reject tradition wherever I find it on the basis that it is a tradition and should be gotten rid of for that reason.

As you might expect, it goes beyond where I work.  With more and more people having babies, starting families, or just becoming busier as they get older, I realize that I am the odd man out of most engagements.  So I go back to my home and turn on whatever game I’m playing, show I’m watching, or go online and just fuck around for a while.  Anything that passes the time.  Maybe I’m just embracing whatever brand of escapism to whatever point I can in order to escape the reality that my life is headed nowhere and that I am secretly just getting older.  Wasting my intellect on a job that a trained monkey could do (I’d know.  We have a whole bunch of them running this outfit), while trying to find something better.  Or at least something that makes me feel like each day I don’t wake up and ask why I even bother.

Until next time, a quote,

“Why the hell am I still alive?” – Gene Starwind, Outlaw Star

Peace out,

Maverick

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Top 10 Additional Questions About Cyberpunk 2077

Several months ago, I did a post where I asked a series of questions that were on my mind about the game, knowing full-well I would almost-certainly not get any answers.  I did try to send it to CDPR on Twitter.  But now that we’ve learned more and more about the game, with a release date out, some more stuff came to me.  In case my posts about people detracting from this game haven’t clued you in, I’m kind of obsessed about it.  This is my most-anticipated game of 2020, hands-down.  There is no other competition.  The more has come out about this game, the more hooked I have become.

A new piece of information has dropped about the game.  Apparently the install size is going to be at least 80gb.  Eighty freakin’ gigs of space needed.  To me, that spells that this game is going to be packed to the brim with content.  And this isn’t even the last of it.  There will be story DLC that adds whole new sections on to it.  This game could end up being one of the most packed with content ever, and since it’s CDPR who’s making it, you know it will be interesting content.  So now my mind is racing about all the things that could be in the game.  If you want to know what my original questions were, here’s a link to that.  Now, let’s look at 10 more.

10. Will there be a humanity tracking system in the game, like in the pen-and-paper RPG?
One of the big themes of this game’s universe is the idea of how much humanity is left when people start integrating more and more of themselves into cybernetics.  Where does the human being and the machine end?  In the original RPG, we had a system of tracking Humanity, which was something you could lose.  And if you did, you could potentially go insane.  Is something like that going to be in the game, or no?

9. Will you be able to customize your vehicles?
I actually have a lot of questions about how much we can customize.  I know that clothing shops will exist.  That’s cool.  But how much of our look can we?  We start out with a set look at the beginning, but can that be subject to change?  Bringing it back to the question at hand – can we customize vehicles?  Get our own paint jobs, maybe armor just as security, and stuff like that?  Integrate defense systems into them?  Will we get to have a garage where we can house our vehicles and do work there, or does it have to be a vendor thing?

8. Can we save Jackie?
In the last trailer, we saw a scene with V and Jackie escaping from a corpo facility, and Jackie dying in the car from a bullet.  From what I understand, in the closed-doors gameplay demo, Jackie is no longer our partner in crime.  But I loved him from the gameplay demo from last year, and I want to save my bro.  Since I plan to have a play style that leans on being quiet and smart, the hope is that I can get in and out of wherever that place was without raising the alarm, so he should be fine.  Can I save my bro-tastic bro?

7. How many businesses are scattered around that we can frequent, and is it like them just being around, or are there hub areas?
I remember back when I was on the Final Fantasy XV hype train, seeing all the little shops around, and wondering how many of them are ones I could visit.  I’m kind of wondering the same thing now.  This game has a TON of vendors selling stuff.  You even have a guy who tries to sell you a camera on the street.  How many of the places that are scattered around can I visit?  Can I get some noodles and a slice of pizza from those places?  Really hoping the record dealer is a dude whose establishment I can purchase from.  I want to have some rad tunes in my game.  Also, is this game going to have hubs where businesses are, or are you just able to run up on them at random places?

6. Are the police going to be a faction we can work with, or just a foil for the player?
I remember a press thing saying that players can’t underestimate the cops, as they are not fucking around, but are they a faction like all the rest, or just someone who we have to deal with?  I ask because it would be kind of cool to be able to pit groups against each other.  Or if there’s someone who is being a pain in the ass, being able to give info to the cops covertly to have them get them out of my hair.  What role does law enforcement play in this game?

5. Will various clothing options have their own benefits?
In the last gameplay demo released, the narrator talks about how your jacket has armor stats, along with street cred.  But will that translate to other styles?  Not sure the punk rock jacket is my style.  Was thinking of going the Deckard look from Blade Runner.  Or maybe the Turks from Final Fantasy VII.  Is each style going to have its own benefits, or is it all kind of uniform?

4. Are we ever gonna get a break-down of the weapons we can use?
In YongYea’s video of what he saw in the closed-door demo, he talked about a weapon the stealth character had that was like a razor wire, and could slice up enemies.  I asked in my previous post how it would work with a katana.  Now I’m wondering if there will ever be a point where we get to see various weapons in the game.  Or at the very least a kind of break-down of what kind of stuff we will be working with.  Nothing too detailed.  I wanna have my katana be my weapon of choice.  Really hoping combat with those is cool.  But I also heard that there will be sniper rifles in this game.  Would really like to see what Cyberpunk’s world has in respect to one of those.  That could be awesome.

3. Can you own pets?
This is something that came to me last night.  I got to thinking – it would be rad as fuck if I could have a little companion.  Get me a kitty!  Gonna name it Lizzy, after my late cat.  Then another thought came to me – if we can own pets, can we cybernetic them?  It would be rad as fuck if I could get a cyber-kitty.  What’s more, since I want to go the route of a net-runner style character, if I could have my cat help me with infiltrations.  Maybe hack doors or something.  But even if we can’t go that far, can I at least have cyber-kitty waiting for me back home?

2. Are we ever gonna get a break-down of the cybernetics in the game?
I’m not talking about a complete list.  I do want there to be some surprises.  But going into this, I’d like to have some kind of base-line of what we’re working with, and from there getting to be surprised.  We’ve seen some pretty crazy stuff, and I want to learn more about it.  Especially because, if there is a humanity system, I’d like to know what stuff I’m upgrading and be careful about planning it if there’s something I want to invest in due to my net-runner path that I want my first play-through to be.  Also, are cybernetics permanent?  Like, say I get a new mod, but it doesn’t sit well with me, am I just fucked?  The question about Humanity is what brings this to mind.  I don’t want to have each upgrade feel like me wondering if I’m making the right decision.

And my #1 question this time around is…

1. What is the loot situation going to be like in this game?
In the previous gameplay demo, V happened upon some pretty sick loot during her mission inside the Maelstrom hideout.  Here’s my question – is that something that was just for the demo, or is loot going to be a big part of the game?  Something to know about me – I scour for loot.  I really, really do.  My first playthrough of The Last of Us was so freakin’ long because I scoured so much for all the things you can find to help you in your playthrough.  So, is loot going to be a big part of the game, or was that just for the demo to help us acquaint with the various weapons we could come across?

What questions do you have?  Let me know.  I’m gonna send these to Cyberpunk 2077’s Twitter again.  We’ll see what happens.  Probably nothing, but you never know.

Until next time, a quote,

“Wake the fuck up, Samurai.  We got a city to burn.” – Johnny Silverhand, Cyberpunk 2077

Peace out,

Maverick

The Movement You Never Let Die (A response to A. Khaled)

Does anyone remember 2014?  I do.  Vaguely. I mean, it was an okay year.  I remember losing a relationship and having to look like a total bitch moving back home.  Graduated from college.  That’s about it as far as personal things go.  Though there was something else that happened.  A big movement of online activism against corruption in games journalism that had very limited results because online movements rarely have much success.  That movement was called GamerGate.  Not gonna get into the long and storied history.  Just type in InternetAristocrat GamerGate on YouTube and you’ll find a big compilation of his entire documentation of it as it was happening.

But another thing I remember is that the movement died in 2014.  It burned bright and had lots of people on it, but then it petered out and life resumed with games journalism being just as bought and paid for as they’ve always been.  You know who doesn’t know that it died?  Games journalism!  After all, every time they want to easily smear detractors without having to actually make good arguments, they just throw the word GamerGate into the article and boom!  Instant clicks.  It’s easy, it’s stupid, and those who do it are part of a wonderful world of people who don’t have a single journalistic ethics bone in their body.

Which brings us to today’s piece.  An article written by a guy who wants him to have some of that SWEET click-bait-y goodness to his article, which is about as content-free as his contemporaries.  Here’s a link to the article, now let’s talk about it.

If Gamergate was ever consistent at something, it’s that they’ve mastered the manipulation of the news cycle to their advantage by fabricating controversies predicated on an overarching conspiracy by “the left”, or “SJWs”, to perverse their entertainment.

Let’s not even get into how GamerGate is dead and has been since 2015 at the LATEST.  I wanna ignore that for the juicier bit in this article.  Their implication with this accusation is that everyone who thinks that the Cyberpunk 2077 controversies are bullshit is right-wing.  That’s what they meant to say.  If there’s one thing that games journalism was ever consistent at, it’s using a buzzword to vilify their detractors so as to not have to actually respond to them in a serious way.

But it was the “Gamergate” crowd who fabricated a controversy?  Not you all for finding whatever you could latch onto with this game and running with it?  Okay.  Sure, let’s go with that.  It wasn’t you and yours who made all this shit up.  It’s everyone else.  Why not?

Cyberpunk 2077 headlined Gamergate’s concerns as E3 just concluded, and it’s all for reasons not entirely unfamiliar.

*puts on tin-foil hat*

The tale started as everyone knows it did — Keanu Reeves in an unprecedented gesture walked into the Xbox E3 2019 briefing stage, and with him, he brought along the promise that Cyberpunk 2077 was indeed going to be the game everyone was bedazzled by last year.

Yeah, that shit was pretty cool.  Your point…?

After the dust of the impressive announcement settled, CDPR released screenshots of the game taken on its PC version, and one of them included a an advertisement poster of a trans woman with her dick visibly bulging upwards through her apparel used to sell soda— it’s important to point out the controversy wasn’t strictly stoked by progressives, or even the LGBT+ community specifically, but it was more of a broad observation that if CDPR screwed up their PR campaign about the game previously, that it was quite indicative of a troubling trend in Cyberpunk 2077’s marketing that it doesn’t relish in the body-altering experience some trans people go through, and rather criticizes it without realizing how ironic that looks in retrospect. CDPR used problematic imagery to sell a game supposed to critique said problematic imagery — something was off.

Um…no.  There’s nothing off.  The world of Night City is one of corporate consumerism gone horribly wrong.  It’s a world where people modify themselves into oblivion in order to chase an ideal of absolute beauty.  It’s why we saw the trailer last year with the woman who had no mouth, because it was a cybernetic appendage she could put on.  In this world, if you can use something to sell to people, you do.  Whatever that thing is.

Here’s the thing about cyberpunk as a genre – it’s set in a future near enough to ours to have the cultural issues, but far enough to be believable about the technology involved.  You see in this world that people are able to alter themselves to insane degrees.  Last year, we saw a gang who took modification to such an extreme that they wanted to turn into machines themselves.  This is a world where you can have whatever kind of body you want, so long as you have the money to pay for it.  Not to mention that in this universe, the more you enhance yourself with cybernetics, the less human you are.  Humanity is an actual measure in the pen-and-paper RPG.

Now, imagine that you are a person who doesn’t feel comfortable in your own body in this universe?  Instead of having to go through intense hormonal treatments, you can augment your body however you wish.  You can even finish your transition with your sex drive and potential intact.  This is the world of Cyberpunk 2077.  With this in mind, think about the fact that there are corporations who will do whatever it takes to sell their stuff to everyone and anyone who is buying.  Why exactly is it that you wouldn’t exploit trans people the way you would everyone else?

But that’s called “context,” which is a term I know you games journalist types fear like the fucking plague.  If you all could have any amount of nuance in what you talk about, what a wonderful world it would be.  But then you wouldn’t get as many of the almighty clicks.  Because nuance doesn’t make a good article.  Nuance makes people uncomfortable.  Yourself included.  Having to think critically about things is more difficult.  In this age of apathy, you can’t have things be too hard.  Especially not when you have an ideological ax to grind.

A good gauge for the profile of a controversy is usually to type a neutral search term on YouTube and see if the first result pertains any closely to the terms being searched, or has it conversely been flooded by an algorithmically exploitative fit of rage and outcry.

An “exploitative fit of rage and outcry”?  Really?  It’s especially weird when YongYea’s video is there.  I’ve seen him get worked up, but rage and outcry?  No.  When one of the AAA-gaming companies does some exploitative thing of their consumers, I’ve seen him get pretty skived about that.  And I’ve never seen Cleanprincegaming get raged about anything.  Do you even watch the videos you’re denouncing, or is that too much context for your uniquely-lazy ass?

The content of the analysis isn’t necessarily misleading — outlets like Kotaku, Polygon and Rock Paper Shotgun have all came out in mild reservations against the problematic depiction of Haitians and trans people in the trailer.

As is ALWAYS the case when these kinds of articles come out, it’s always just some mild criticism that people blow WAY out of proportion.  Never mind that it was people calling this game racist, CD Projekt Red racist and alt-right (a buzzword that has lost all reason), and the creator of Rock Paper Shotgun saying that Mike Pondsmith is making terrible arguments to defend racism.  But yeah, it was us who started this.  It was all of us “right-wing” people (anyone who can prove I’m right-wing, give it your best shot.  I’m an unapologetic liberal.  But Khaled here couldn’t handle that nuance either.  No, all detractors must be cut from the same cloth, lest they actually have an opinion worth listening to).

This was the same bullshit back in 2012 when Anita Sarkeesian stuck her ugly head into gaming.  “She’s just making commentary, guys!  It’s not like she’s trying to ban video games!  She doesn’t want to change anything.”  Years later, with her non-profit dying and as she desperately is trying to latch on to gaming companies, a lot of change has happened.  Mostly because you all, games “journalists” (I feign to even ironically call you all that.  You wouldn’t know the first thing about good journalism.  If Edward R. Murrow could see what the field has become) took the banner and ran with it.  Game companies saw that every major news outlet was saying the same thing, and believed that your view was the consensus.

They never did nothin’!  It was those mean “alt-right” people!  They are the ones who made this a big issue!  Our criticism was so mile that it might as well have not even been there! *rolls eyes*

What that however was spun into, is this preposterous notion that the writer of the story in question was out to smear the game as part of a “larger agenda” targeting freedom of artistic expression — never mind that Gamergate contends heavily with the conceit that video games are art at all — when the pointed critique was more about the game’s thematic inconsistency, rather than its ineffectual portrayal of Haitians as having a natural inclination to commit crime, or trans people as… whatever the hell that poster’s artist thought they were.

This is what I love about people who do articles like this.  You can just bullshit your way through whatever narrative you want, with no worry about contradiction.  See, back in the day, when you printed bullshit, you had to defend yourself.  And if you couldn’t do that, you had to print a retraction.  But this is 5th Estate journalism.  Online journalism.  Where you can spin a narrative out of whole cloth and nobody bats an eye.

People weren’t accusing the writer of the Rock Paper Shotgun article of trying to smear the game as part of a “larger agenda.”  We were accusing him of smearing the game for clicks.  It was a hit-piece, designed to get people’s click fingers going.  There’s that nuance again.  Fucking up the narrative.

Also, where did ANYONE ever say that the game is depicting Haitians as having a “natural inclination to commit crime”?  The fact that the Voodoo Boys gang is primarily made up of Haitians is inconsequential.  That’s like saying that Cryps and the Bloods are primarily made up of black people so black people are inclined to crime.  No, it’s just gangs who have these ethnic groups affiliated with them.

To the last point you made – the article was saying that trans people are able to be exploited just like anyone else!  How is that so hard to understand?  Do you not get how corporate marketing works?  If corporations think that there is a market to exploit, they will!  Look at how Disney talks about how much they LOVE diversity, but you don’t see any openly gay characters in their big movies?  Why’s that?  Gee, it’s almost like a major market that they want to appeal to has strict rules regarding depiction of homosexuality.  That’s weird, right?  I wonder who that could be… *cough*China!*cough*  Or how Netflix made a reality TV show where they give two unemployed people a job and make their lives hell, only for them to find out it was all a gag.  Showing that Netflix really does abhor the working class and has no problem fucking with them for laughs.

Corporations will exploit whoever, wherever, and whenever they can.  If there’s a market to exploit, you better believe that those bastards have their fingers in the pie, ready to exploit the ever-loving fuck out of whoever it is.  What is so hard to get about this?  What part of that nuance did you social justice types miss?

“Is it so difficult to accept that Cyberpunk 2077’s world is the kind in which, people in general, regardless of race, just, kill each other for all kinds of fucked up reasons” says YongYea in his video commenting on the issue;

There’s one person who gets the nuance of it.  It’s so weird that people are going after YongYea.  A very safe content creator.  I watch his stuff and I like it.  But I acknowledge that he’s safe, as far as advertising and whatnot goes.  And it’s weird to me that he’s being lumped in as a part of some GamerGate conspiracy.  A man who has talked about how he has no problem with diversity in gaming and how he just wants it to be done with a deft hand.  He’s some right-wing caricature now?  That’s so weird, to me.

It’sAGundam also echoed similar sentiments, he further added a political dimension to the debate by complaining that “People are trying to interject their own politics and personal beliefs in a god damn video game based in a far-off dystopian future.”

I watch Gundam as well, and I don’t actually agree with him that no politics should be in gaming.  I just think that it should be done with a deft hand and not feel out of place in the world one is trying to create.  The problem is that so often, it isn’t done that way.  Besides, his videos are never meant to be taken too seriously.  He’s in it for the performance of it.  To be entertaining.  So is YongYea.  What’s your beef?

LegacyKillaHD went as far as to say the original Rock Paper Shotgun article was a “hit piece”; and the tone of the rest of the videos follows accordingly.

It was a hit-piece, designed to get people’s click fingers twitchy.

What this has been furthered by is a defensive response by the creator of the IP CDPR’s game is based on, Mike Pondsmith, who has deflected accusations of racial inadequacies by advising that people dish it out to their racist uncles in a thanksgiving dinner, promoted the view that “the Animals” as a gang name for a predominantly-colored group is one of endearment,

What?!  A term of endearment?  No, you stupid fuck!  He said that the Animals call themselves that because they want to be powerful, strong, dangerous, akin to a wild animal.  Hence the name.  What weapons-grade bullshit is that?  Also, you have to keep the focus on the fact that black people are a part of this gang?  When Pondsmith said that this gang is ethnically-diverse, it means that it has all kinds of people in it!  Why can none of you ethnically-void hacks even speak about what he said with any amount of truth?!  I don’t get why there isn’t a single one of you fucks who can do this.

And the bit about how, if you want to help with racism, actually tell your racist uncle off at Thanksgiving was funny.  I still laugh. That’s called a joke.  Guess that’s too much for Khaled to process.

It would be really hard to take away from Mike Pondsmith’s own interpretation of what CDPR has been making for the last few years since he’s more closely aligned with the project than pretty much anyone outside of the company, but what appears to have happened, is that Gamergate is taking Mike Pondsmith as a token black creative

If ANYONE is token-izing Pondsmith, it’s you!  We aren’t saying that CDPR can’t be racist because a black person says so.  We’re saying that Pondsmith, the creator of this IP, has explained where this perspective comes from.  And his interpretation of it has more legitimacy than your stupid-ass, nuance-lacking, unrepentantly-biased reporting of it!  You all are the ones who are saying that he’s a token, but just like any good far-right Christian, you try to lay that at the feet of your detractors.  Because you have no good argument for your point of view.  Just one based on your own opinions, indefensible in reality.

Gamergate dressing him with authoritative authorship serves a two-fold purpose: For one, it allows them to come out in stern opposition of criticism which they paint as stifling creators’ freedom of artistic expression, but it also permits them to shift the narrative away from the creative leads and portray the conflict as “PC culture” gone berserk. In both cases, the final outcome is heavily contrived, and is barely based in any grounding of truth or reality — it’s just yet another attempt by Gamergate to capitalize on the current popularity of a video game by painting its criticism as sacrilegious and unduly.

These people live in a fantasy world.  People were accusing Rock Paper Shotgun and those who followed of trying to smear a game, a company, and the creator of the entire franchise, all for the purpose of getting clicks.  That’s where this began and ended.  But no.  You can’t accept that.  To do so would mean you have to look critically at your own medium.  Oh no!  To actually look at the ethically-void hellscape that modern games journalism is critically, I don’t think any of you would survive.  Then you’d have to wonder if you are not making the entire concept of journalism a dead venture, where only the fastest to report on whatever scandalous thing gets those precious clicks and precious ad revenue.

But you’re right about one thing – this is heavily contrived.  You’ve contrived a narrative that you can spin without any worry of any amount of opposition, where I’m sure the comments section is gonna be one giant circle-jerk.  In the process, you’re also gonna prove a lot of points people have made about your industry, but still.

Furthermore, when “artistic freedom” is brought, it is only done in service of Gamergate’s ideological inclinations, rather than any impartial appeal to creativity no matter what part of the political spectrum it hails from. When BattleTech introduced the option for a gender-neutral pronoun, no such defense was invoked, and the backlash was instead directed towards the developers — who might I remind, should have retained full artistic control over their IP. The precedent for “creator over fan voice” just does not bear out.

This is the great thing about being able to smear people with a broad brush.  You don’t have to even bother trying to be honest about something.  Instead, you just say that all people in a group who you made up (because GamerGate is dead) all think the way that you tell your readership that they do.

Meanwhile, I don’t give a fuck about gender-neutral options.  Never heard a word from YongYea, LegacyKilla, Upper Echelon Gaming, or even ItsAGundam.  You took some loud minority of right-wing assholes being assholes (or maybe trolls being trolls.  Everyone likes to forget they exist), and paint ALL of us us as thinking just like they do.  You can have your opinions all day, Khaled, but you can’t have your own facts.  Sorry to say.

It’s even more so the case when the call to collective action is intermittently placed along Patreon links when the authors of such ludicrous claims are already a comfortable level above the majority of their audience on both a financial, and a social level.

There we go!  The other shoe drops.  You are mad that people make money off their work.  You’re made that people choose to pay content creators that they like money.  Never mind that the whole reason Patreon has grown is because YouTube is now basically a unmonetized hellscape where making any money at all is next to impossible.  So many channels who aren’t right-wing, but have honest opinions about what’s happening in the world get demonetized because their content ruffles feathers.

This is how the article ends, and it’s so fucking blatant what Khaled is actually angry about.  So he has to smear everyone.  Defaming whoever he doesn’t like all because they were mean to people in his industry and painted him and his out to be opportunistic bottom-feeders who wouldn’t know ethics if it reached up and bit them in the ass.

Until next time, a quote,

“Our history will be what we make of it.  And if there are any historians 50 or 100 years from now, and there should be preserved the kinescopes of one week of all three networks, they will there fine – recorded in black and white and in color – evidence of decadence, escapism, and insulation from the realities in which we live.” – Edward R Murrow

Peace out,

Maverick

Won’t Someone PLEASE Think of the Billionaires?! (A response to the ESA and Owen S Good)

For those of you who didn’t know, the AAA gaming industry is ruled primarily by companies who couldn’t give one shit about the gamers they are supposed to represent, and instead care only about the bottom line.  Now granted, all companies want to make money.  I’m not saying that making money is bad.  But there’s been this trend of predatory microtransactions that has been growing and growing within gaming, and the players not stopping themselves from taking part in it.  As it has grown, the industry has been getting better and better at refining the predatory nature of these microtransactions, creating loot boxes.  Oh, I’m sorry, “surprise mechanics.”  Lootboxes is a derogatory term created by the people who don’t understand that this isn’t EXACTLY like a slot machine.  EA told the UK Parliament that!  So naturally, it has to be true.

Enter the ESA, a company that exists exclusively as shills for the AAA gaming publishers.  They are industry lobbyists, by definition.  So naturally, when the US introduced a bill that is gaining bipartisan support, followed closely by the UK, the ESA decided that they were finally going to comment on this.  What you are about to read is madness.  In the strictest sense, it is madness.  Let’s get a load of this response.

“This legislation is flawed and riddled with inaccuracies. It does not reflect how video games work nor how our industry strives to deliver innovative and compelling entertainment experiences to our audiences,” ESA CEO Stanley Pierre-Louis said in a statement released Thursday, May 23.

How out of touch are these people?  Who likes these things?!  I mean it, who is it who likes this shit?  I can’t tell you the last time I sat down to play a game and thought – you know what, I want some gambling equivalent to be able to get the content I should have gotten with the $60 price tag of my game!  Fuck that noise!

And do tell me, ESA CEO Stanley Pierre-Louis, how is this gambling bullshit helping innovation?  The games that feature this stuff the heaviest suck!  Anthem was trash!  Fallout 76 was trash!  Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is trash!  And don’t even get me started on what sports games have become.  Thank Groj I never got into that shit.  The games that are featuring this stuff the heaviest are the biggest pieces of shit ever put to pixels.  You aren’t delivering “innovative and compelling entertainment experiences to our audiences.”  You’re delivering corporate cash-grabs to please investors.  Find me a game where lootboxes feature prominently as a microtransaction that isn’t shit.  Find it for me, please.

“The impact of this bill would be far-reaching and ultimately prove harmful to the player experience, not to mention the more than 220,000 Americans employed by the video game industry.

This, right here, is what got my attention with this statement they issued.  So this is a tacit admission that when the cash-cow for these AAA gaming companies dries up, they’re just gonna fire employees.  Massively downsize, but still have the same expectations.  Turn into even more crushing monoliths with deadlines crunches, 100-hour work weeks, and people killing themselves because of the stress.  Gotta love the ESA.  They outright say that they are corporate pieces of shit.  I love these lobbying firms and how they own it.  At least with these guys, they don’t try to couch it in some kind of euphemism.  It’s all right there in the open.

We encourage the bill’s co-sponsors to work with us to raise awareness about the tools and information in place that keep the control of video game play and in-game spending in parents’ hands rather than in the government’s.”

Or, ESA CEO Stanley Pierre-Louis, the gaming industry could clean up its act before governments have to get involved!  My generation understands the predatory nature of these practices, but my generation is just now having kids.  The youth of today who are at risk of these gambling practices are being raised by people who are just removed enough to not understand this stuff.  The AAA gaming companies had EVERY opportunity to walk this back, try and make it not as bad as it is, but no!  They decided that instead they are going to make it worse.  Like how 2K just released their latest NBA game that has in-game advertisements that you cannot skip!  So you don’t want to clean up your act, and instead want to just use your platform to turn gaming into a giant money machine for you.

I agree that it would be great if the industry could regulate this shit instead of government.  There is a slippery slope here that I do worry about.  But you didn’t!  And now, because the companies that you represent are the greediest bunch of scum-fucks on the face of the planet, we have governments deciding that SOMEBODY should do something to fix the problem.  That’s on you, dumbass!

But if you think that was some REALLY bad corporate shilling, wait ’til you get a load of this!  I’ve long contended that sites like Polygon are just proxies for the industry, given that they spend so much money on their sites for ads, but it seems I didn’t realize how right I was.  A guy by the name of Owen S. Good is actually writing an article defending the lootboxes practice.  Oh boy, this should be good.  Here’s a link to the article, now let’s get into this.

How else are those billion-dollar licenses paid?

That’s the tagline.  What goes under the headline as a hook.  Um…how the fuck is it my problem how these corrupt AAA gaming companies pay for sports licenses?  They turned the games into yearly piles of shit, riddled with microtransactions, where the servers are only on for two years after launch, to force you to buy the next game and do this dance all over again.  I don’t care how these companies pay for the licenses.  Maybe they shouldn’t.  Or maybe they should slow down the releases and actually make a good product.  Man, we haven’t even started an I’m annoyed.

If passed in anything close to its proposed form, Sen. Josh Hawley’s anti-microtransaction legislation will punish, if not obliterate, a staple genre of video gaming for offenses it never really committed.

Does the industry’s dick taste good?  I ask because this article is clearly sucking it.

That may be fine with you. You may not like sports or their games, you may hate Electronic Arts because everyone else does. But this is the feeling I get when I read the text of the proposed “Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act,” because it goes well beyond what actually got everyone angry — Star Wars Battlefront 2’s original loot boxes. The list of no-nos the bill proscribes cover all the ways in which licensed team sports video games now make a lot, if not most of their money.

Awww!  The poor dears.  The poor multi-billion dollar dears.  I’m sure they’re just hurting inside thinking of how they aren’t making enough billions of dollars!  Man, I feel so bad for them.  Don’t all of you?!  I mean, then they can’t buy that expensive yacht they wanted!  I’ve never had a yacht, but that expensive one does sound nice.  I feel so bad that these companies aren’t gonna be able to exploit children and people who are prone to gambling in order to make billions of dollars.

Hawley’s bill has a broad reach and broadly defined terms, but it isn’t ignorant of the video games marketplace. It has carve-outs for widely accepted things like MMO subscription fees or premium cosmetics (provided they aren’t awarded at random in a loot box, I guess). It goes so far as to exclude charging for extra difficulty modes. And none of these things should be prohibited, in law or practice.

Um…yeah, they should.  They should ALL be destroyed.  I mean, you can have your MMO subscription fees.  Whatever.  But premium cosmetics.  That should be in the game.  Extra difficulty modes?  That should be in the game!  You’re arguing to sell half-finished games, dude!  What the fuck?!

So Hawley probably thinks he’s leaving publishers DLC or microtransaction options; that’s probably why he so glibly dismissed hypotheticals about outlawing loot boxes and pay-to-win transactions, declaring they wouldn’t kill an industry that “can design games that don’t rely on gambling directed at children.”

Yeah, they can!  The gaming industry was doing that for years!  Tens of years!  And they were still making money hand over fist!  This is a multi-billion dollar industry on game sales ALONE!  What is your fucking counter-argument?!

But for sports video games so reliant on ultimate team modes, that is easier said than done, if it can be done. FIFA Ultimate Team, which Hawley acknowledges is square in his bill’s crosshairs, delivers an estimated $800 million (as of 2017, probably more today) to EA’s “live services” revenue, which in its most recent fiscal year was $2.2 billion. You don’t get those kinds of dollar figures selling extra soccer kits and ball designs.

Those poor billionaires.  They aren’t making enough money, everybody!  Don’t you feel bad?!  Owen wants you to feel bad!  Naughty gamer who doesn’t think that companies should take advantage of people.

I don’t point this out to cheerlead for someone’s P&L sheet or consider it the civic duty of gamers to do so, either.

Though you are cheerleading extraordinarily well.

Hawley, in last week’s interview with Kotaku, lumped in “pay-to-win transactions” with the gambling bogeyman because he says they condition or exploit addictive behavior in kids, too. To me it’s more revealing that he justified banning them as “a microtransaction that’s not necessarily expected,” and describes hearing from constituents who are more upset at their children using their credit cards, not loot boxes or the gambling behavior alleged.

Yeah, fuck those parents who don’t understand the predatory nature of what these AAA gaming companies are doing.  Morons.  Let’s instead defend the companies doing it, instead of trying to promote that they control their greedy actions without the government getting involved, you stead say that everything is above board and how people are just being haters.  I’m so glad to see that Polygon is finally wearing what absolute industry hacks they are on their sleeve.  It’s very enlightening.

This confirms, in my mind, the hatred that games media has for Cyberpunk 2077.  Of course they hate it.  It’s popular.  It’s making money hand-over-fist without even being out.  It has NO microtransactions.  It has NO lootboxes.  It is consumer-friendly in the extreme, and made by a company who joined in the chorus of those making fun of companies like EA for saying that single-player games are dead.

I wonder how much the ESA and all the sport game-making companies paid for that little plug?

Until next time, a quote,

“You reap what you sow.  You have heard of this, no?” – Imad ad-Din, Kingdom of Heaven

Peace out,

Maverick

Is Humanity Doomed?

This is one of the foremost questions on the mind of people who actually pay attention to what’s happening in the world.  Predictions look more and more dire.  Temperatures are spiking every year.  Each year is hotter than the last.  The heat index in my own state has grown so much over the last 15 years that it’s passed what level of redness it can go to.  It’s damn-near black.  And it keeps getting worse.

I’ve been following the amount of grey whales that are being found dead with some interest.  The big question is – why?  So many, and these are just the ones we know of.  Groj knows how many have sunk into the cold depths without anyone knowing anything.  What’s the cause?  Some say it’s the military.  Endless usage of sonar and explosives is destroying the brains of sea mammals.  There is some science to this.  It’s been found that the sonar of a submarine is so loud that it can liquefy the brain of a dolphin.  So is that it?  Is it the unending river of plastic we keep pumping out into the oceans?  Each whale found dead has a large amount of plastic in their gut.  Hell, all sea life we find dead these days has some amount of plastic inside it.  So what is it?  What’s the answer to this ominous question?

Satellite imagery has recently showed that the Himalayas are melting.  The Arctic Circle had a winter so warm that parts of it weren’t freezing right.  The verdict is in that climate change is real and that its primary influence is man-made pollution.  Conservatives LOVE to trot out the fact that back in the age of the dinosaurs, it was really freakin’ hot and that heating is natural to the planet with the world being just fine.  Never mind that volcanic pollution was already killing the dinosaurs before the asteroid showed up.  Of course, the planet will keep on going long after we’re gone.  To deny that would be asinine.  It may take centuries of natural processes to finally bring an end to the damage humanity has done, but it will get sorted out.

But what about humanity?  Will we survive?  Is our species doomed?  I’ve been thinking about this concept as a topic for quite some time.  It’s a fascinating intellectual exercise.  What are the points for and against?

For: human history is a litany of making horrible, horrible mistakes and learning absolutely nothing from them.  We just went through a recession, and instead of learning from the Great Depression, we decided to just keep shoving money into the maw that is the American debt.  They tried to stop cash injections that still go on with the banks to this day, and the DOW plummeted.  We currently have over 14,000 nuclear weapons in active circulation.  Of this, over 3,700 of those are in American hands.  Let me put this in perspective for you – it would take roughly 100 nuclear weapons being detonated to destroy humanity’s ability to exist on this planet.  So that means that America alone could end the world over 370 times.

As a species, we are doing next to nothing about climate change.  America especially, which is even more disheartening.  The EPA calls greenhouse gas emissions “freedom molecules.”  That’s not satire.  I’ve talked about this before.  Go look that shit up.  It’s pretty fascinating.  We have just rolled back the restriction on coal pollution so that individual states can decide how much they want to add to the pollution problem.  All southern states are gonna do that just to spite those awful libs.  Gotta trigger the libs!

Speaking of, that brings up another thing – here in America, we have a rate of civil unrest not seen since the days before the Civil War.  Two ideological groups, diametrically opposed.  Conservative America loves to talk about how they have lots of guns, and that is true.  But here’s the thing – the radical-left has already shown that they will take to the streets and actually make war.  They’ll attack people they don’t agree with.  The right has guns, but how many of those with guns actually have the stones to make good on their bravado.

Against: Um…I’m not sure.  Some countries are actually getting with the freakin’ program about climate change and doing something.  But this is nations who weren’t contributing to the problem all that much in the first place.  Corporate America is seeing the tide of public opinion and is already looking to make some amount of effort, but that is contingent on it not hurting their bottom line.  Chance of that?  Unlikely.  Hopefully our species is wise enough to see that nuclear war is a horrible idea that wouldn’t end well for anyone.  But we do have a crazy orange monkey in the White House, so who knows what the next Clown Town President will be like.

There may also be some hope in that China is looking to expand into space.  They want to take their growing empire into the stars.  It seems that somebody there figured out that there is a future in space, and they are looking to make good on it.  I honestly don’t care if America falls behind China.  Our days as the head of the world are coming to an end if we don’t actually try and come into the 21st century.  But don’t tell conservative America that.  Their utopia of Leave it to Beaver world doesn’t adjust for such things.  If China secures the gateway to the stars, who knows what the possibilities are from there.

Humanity is starting to have their eyes opened to the reality that we are in a tight spot, and if we don’t do something soon, it isn’t if we are going to die as a species, but when.  So, back to the question we asked at the beginning of this?  Is humanity doomed?  It’s a coin-flip, really.  It really could go either way.  Let us hope that somehow, beyond all historical evidence, human reason actually does prevail.

Until next time, a quote,

“Is there any hope?” – Pippin
“Only a fool’s hope.” – Gandalf, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

Peace out,

Maverick

Media Collusion Never Dies, Cyberpunk 2077 Edition

Back in 2014, when the #Quinnspiracy tag first came up, people started to uncover some shade-y connection between game journalists and developers.  Lots of stuff was uncovered.  Right before #GamerGate became a thing, there was a series of articles that all dropped in unison.  They were all about the same thing – gamers are dead.  The fact that they all dropped at the same time, and were all about the same thing, it was impossible not to wonder if all these media outlets had colluded to do this.  If it was all part of a big conspiracy.

At the time that the unmistakable proof of collusion was coming out, the whole thing was dismissed by the apologists for the industry as a witch hunt and that nothing had been proven.  It was later on that a series of chat lots from Crash Override Network (CON) were released showing that yes-indeed it was all orchestrated and that everyone in GamerGate who had been talking about this was 100% vindicated.

What does all of this have to do with today?  I mean, that was 5 years ago.  Who cares about it?  Well, let me tell you.  See, we have a new target of media collusion.  One of the strangest targets I’ve ever seen.  A video game and the company behind it, both of which are well-loved and the former of which has everyone very excited for.  I’m talking, of course, about Cyberpunk 2077 and the company who made it, CD Projekt Red.

After the E3 2019 press conference where they definitively stole the show with Keanu Reeves, along with a closed-doors gameplay demo, there was an article written by Rock, Paper, Shotgun that quite blatantly accused the game and its developer of racism.  I did a response to that article (blatant shilling!  Click here!), and it was a beautiful combination of complete click-bait, and an unapologetic hit-piece.  It was so absurd that Mike Pondsmith, creator of the Cyberpunk 2020 IP came out and wrote a response on Reddit defending both the game and the company, along with making a poignant point about people telling him what he should be offended by and how insulting that is.

What followed was the company’s founder coming out and attacking Pondsmith for his rebuttal, along with those who defended the game and the response.  From there, more and more articles were coming out.  Each one eager to demonize the game and the Polish developer.  From more about racism, to how the game is transphobic, and also sexist.  They hit all the talking points.  Some of the Internet’s attentive people started to wonder – why all this?  Why now?

The obvious answer is that this is a game that is incredibly popular.  The Internet couldn’t love it or the production company who is making it more right now.  CD Projekt Red is pulling out all the stops to make a game people want to play, and making their purchase worth every penny.  They set themselves apart from the rank and file AAA companies and lead by example in making something that isn’t like anything else, and without all the predatory practices that the other companies are becoming increasingly notorious for, and which more and more governments are taking steps to legislate against.  All the major developers must be shivering a little.

For something to be this big and this popular, if you are a “news” website that wants to get easy clicks, the obvious solution is to go after a game that everyone wants, so they will click on your article.  It’s cheap, easy, integrity-free “journalism” that so many of the biggest trash fires like BuzzFeed are notorious for.  Given that they all read like hit-pieces, it isn’t a stretch to make the accusation.

However, what if the connections go deeper?  Just like with how the accusations of collusion for #GamerGate started as just conjecture, here it is conjecture as well.  I saw a very interesting video from a YouTuber I hadn’t heard of until it popped on my feed (linked here) showing that the major gaming “news” outlets and their financial collections to the direct competitor of the PC game marketplace that CD Projekt Red owns, GoG.  They all have tangential connections to their newest direct competitor, Epic Games.

So imagine the surprise when Polygon, Kotaku, and Rock, Paper, Shotgun all go after this game all at once.  I do have to make very clear that this is all conjecture.  There is no proof.  But when there is a history of collusion between games media companies, does it make you perk up and at least have to wonder if we’re seeing this all coming back to roost?  It does to me.  In fact, that’s the most reasonable thing I’ve heard thus far.

It’s never been a secret that games media is bought and sold by the ads that AAA developers put on their site.  These outlets have ZERO journalistic integrity.  Everyone has gone after the fact that they never give any majorly-anticipated game bad reviews, unless they don’t pay them well enough.  The story of Gamespot getting rid of the guy for giving a bad review of the sequel of Cane and Lynch is notorious.  These companies have their nose buried so far up the ass of the companies they are supposed to give good coverage about, for better or worse, that the idea of a corporate overlord commanding all their subsidiaries to attack this latest project that is already raking them in a ton of cash doesn’t sound so far-fetched, does it?

What do you think?  Is all of this just opportunistic and integrity-free “journalists” writing hit-pieces for the purpose of getting the almighty clicks, or is there something far more nefarious?  The speculation behind this interests me.  If it wasn’t for the fact that we’ve seen these companies do this shit before, I might be more inclined to just shrug this off as people putting on the tin-foil hats.  They only have themselves to blame.

Until next time, a quote,

“I’m not mad!  I’m the only sane one left!” – Manuel, Mass Effect

Peace out,

Maverick

The Fall of Feminist Frequency, the Rise of Pop Culture Detective Agency

A long time ago, I did a post talking about how Johnny McIntosh was basically gonna run what little fame he has into the ground.  After Anita Sarkeesian kicked him to the curb and took her “non-profit” to a whole new level, she ditched him like a bad habit.  He then started a new YouTube channel with a Patreon, and I figured his story would end there.  Her story, meanwhile, was leaving gaming behind and doing some history analysis highlighting women who were trailblazers throughout the ages.  For both people, I honestly assumed that that would be that.  How utterly wrong I was.

The most interesting part of this is how Johnny’s rise as a YouTube analysis personality has been completely unnoticed by what remains of the anti-SJW community at large.  A community I myself have little to no part of, these days.  That brand run itself into the ground, now just being “hot takes” by people who I ideologically couldn’t disagree with more.  We were brought together in 2014.  Now, we couldn’t be further apart.  The same battle lines that were lost back then to take on a greater enemy are now right back where they started.  Man, that was a digression.

McIntosh was a joke to people, and everyone left him alone.  To be fair, Feminist Frequency was left pretty alone too.  The meme had been run dry, you could make fun of the occasional Twitter outrage that Anita would try and generate, then go on with your life.  However, both people saw their popularity go in diametrically opposite directions very quickly.  It’s not hard to see why.

The story’s been out there for a bit that Feminist Frequency is financially suffering.  Their reporting numbers for the last couple years raise far more questions than answers.  They are losing money, precipitously.  All while making nothing but audio-only podcasts whose views are a joke in comparison to the amount of subscribers on their YouTube channel, a couple videos with mediocre production values, and doing live-streams where nobody is watching.  Where did the money go?  The biggest theory is that it went to all of their trips to other first-world nations to preach their gospel to whoever would pay them to listen.  It’s a guarantee that they were staying in nice hotels and getting lots of perks.  All while it ate into their budget.  They started laying off staff, and now have no paid positions of any kind.  The company is essentially dead.

At the same time, with the rise in popularity of analysis videos, maybe Johnny McIntosh knew how to capitalize on a market right at the perfect time.  His format from the days when he was writing Feminist Frequency’s videos hasn’t changed.  Not at all.  He just was a little bit smarter about it, and instead of marketing how much hate he got, he just kept making content.  Safe, YouTube-friendly content.  Then people would watch and his views and likes to dislikes aren’t bad.  I don’t like his content, but credit where it’s due.  He’s probably raking in a lot of money.

All of this tells me that it really was Johnny McIntosh who kept Feminist Frequency popular.  The moment she got rid of him, the channel lost something.  I mean, she is a con artist, and maybe her con just got so old that it was completely unsustainable.  So now we know that while she was trying to bilk for money, McIntosh is a believer.

For those who have seen the history of large feminist movements online, this shouldn’t come as a shock.  WAY back in the day, there was Atheism+ that reared its ugly head.  It split what was the atheist community back then in two.  However, after the dust from the infighting subsided, something happened.  The movement became less and less productive.  To the point that it devolved into just an Internet forum where everyone who wasn’t a mod was banned.  The once touted FreeThoughtBlogs is now just PZ Meyers ranting about whatever he doesn’t like.  The big feminists names back then are all cashed out at the talent bank.

What does all this mean?  What is the thing to take away from all this?  In my mind, it’s pretty simple.  These movements are typically started and kept going by people who are piggy-backing on an ideology, marketing themselves as victims, and then building nothing up with the fame that they get from the media coddling them.  It’s why Brianna Wu is trying and failing to get into politics.  It’s why Zoe Quinn is desperately trying to maintain any relevance.  Rebecca Watson has disappeared. Big Red doesn’t exist except as a meme that is long dead.  And Anita Sarkeesian is trying desperately to get CD Projekt Red to take her on as a “consultant” along with get EA to donate money to her cause, all while still playing the damsel.  I could have swore she said that being a damsel is a bad thing in a whole series of videos, once upon a time.  All of these people are cashed out and have no future.

This will, definitively, be the last time I talk about this Feminist Frequency.  This isn’t really about her, truth be told.  It’s about those in the entertainment arena who adapt over time.  Pop feminism was utterly unable to do this.  While social media panders and old-school media kisses ass still, their voice is so much less than I remember.  These days, it’s just bitching about whatever movie thing, along with CD Projekt Red and what they are doing.  It’s encouraging to see that CD Projekt Red and Mike Pondsmith have stood their ground against such attacks.  Time was, NOBODY did.  But these people aren’t quite the dragon they used to be.

So I was wrong about what would happen to McIntosh.  I admit that.  It genuinely does shock me.  Happy trails, Anita.  The Internet already doesn’t miss you, but the thing to keep in mind is that eventually, you will be utterly forgotten.  I wonder if that bothers her.  Since she’s not rich anymore, probably.

Until next time, a quote,

“History repeats itself.  The same thing will happen to Duke Red, his Marduks.  Only this time, it won’t be the gods who bring about the change.  It’ll be us.” – Atlas, Metropolis

Peace out,

Maverick