Thursday, February 26, 2015

Why I'm Disappointed in Revolution 60

Don't get me wrong: I was hardly super-excited for Revolution 60. I've never planned to play the game, and I certainly have no plans to buy it.

But all the same, I had high hopes for Revolution 60. Well, perhaps more for the idea of Revolution 60 than Revolution 60 itself.

Many women insist that video gaming, if not a hostile environment for women, is at least not inclusive enough of women. They claim that not enough games are made that attract women to gaming. They insist that more games should be made that would appeal to women.

In the latter point, they're not wrong.

In fact, many of the people we refer to as "social justice warriors" believe that more games should be made that would appeal to people of any number of different identity groups.

They're not wrong.

Where they veer into untenable territory is when they demand that AAA companies make such games, and that they only make such games. No one has any business attempting to dictate to any games developer what types of game they should or should not make. That is what the market is for, and it works well.

Games that are more inclusive of such various identity subgroups is what the independent market is for. As a subgroup of the video game industry, robust and healthy indie gaming is the key to ensuring that video gaming is, and remains, inclusive.

Breanna Wu says she doesn't believe video gaming is inclusive enough. She says she believes it's hostile to women. Or so she says. She's certainly willing to lie in order to make it seem that way.

And if she really believed that, Revolution 60 could have been part of the answer to demands for more inclusive games. That is, it could have been if she had actually delivered what she promised.

Wu essentially promised that Revolution 60 would be true to its name. She promised a game inclusive of women, mixing empowering female characters with inventive gameplay in a way that would transform how women are portrayed in gaming.

Instead, Revolution 60 is the mediocre product of a mediocre developer. By all accounts, vast gaps in its gameplay are filled in with banal QuickTime events. Her female character designs are the most hackneyed and typical -- yet unappealing -- imaginable. And Revolution 60's graphics are reminiscent of the worst eyesores of the PS1 generation of games.

In the midst of all of this, Wu's constant wailing to the press about "harassment" and her self-aggrandizing behaviour cannot be ignored. It forces upon me the impression that Wu, whose game is achingly substandard (if not antiquated), is fully aware that her work is substandard, and so insists on injecting herself into the #Gamergate discourse in hopes of using the controversy to coverup the terminal flaws in her work.

In doing so Wu actually becomes the embodiment of the journalistic ethics issue that remains at the root of the #Gamergate discourse. Wu isn't getting coverage from NBC, CBS or CBC because her work is newsworthy, or even because her stunts -- such as "pulling out of PAX East" -- are newsworthy. She's getting coverage because she's connected.

If Wu spent the amount of time that she spends pulling stunts such as suggesting that #Gamergate supporters threatened PAX East with Sarin gas -- it was in fact a #Gamergate opponent who mused about using Sarin gas against gamers -- working on her game, then perhaps Revolution 60 could have become the game she promised it would be.

But instead Wu would rather create threads on Steam message boards asking if she's a terrible person -- only to delete them when she realizes she did so using her own account -- than doing the work giving Revolution 60 the polish that would make it a passable product.

In other words, Brianna Wu is too busy actually being a person to produce a product that deserves people's money.

I can't help but conclude that Wu's plans to not show up to PAX East has more to do with avoiding having to answer any questions about just how awful a product Revolution 60 is, and why it's so awful, than it does any belief that there are any credible threats against her.

After all, the whole Jace Connors debacle did turn out to be a #Gamergate opponent attempting to give other #Gamergate opponents more ammunition to use against #Gamergate. A lot of #Gamergate opponents managed to fall for that, too. Sam "Bring Back Bullying" Biddle even declared Connors "all that's left" of #Gamergate.

How very droll.

Thus, the heartwrenching disappointment in the overwhelming lousiness of Revolution 60. When SJdubs are told to go make the games they want to see made, lousiness of this magnitude is unequivocally not what anyone means.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Thinking the Inadvisable: TV's Newest Most Uncomfortable Moment Ever

What went wrong? First impressions tend to be lasting impressions. Most of the time, anyway.

Barbara Kean seemed so grounded a character. That was the first impression. But that impression began to slip as the series wore on. Within a few episodes, it was gone entirely. Barbara was what you may call a girl with a history: drugs, lesbians, possibly even crime, and the series' writers only know what else.

But last night's episode of Gotham hit a pop fly into left field.

There were plenty of shocking and/or uncomfortable moments in the episode. In case you haven't seen the episode I'll refrain from spoiling most of them. But it's necessary to spoil one in particular: an extremely-uncomfortable exchange between Barbara and Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova).

Barbara -- still reeling from her discovery that James Gordon has moved on -- tells Kyle she's growing into "such a lovely young woman." She tries to touch Selina, but Selina shies away from contact.

She then takes Selina inside and offers her fancy clothes.

I instantly became a good deal more uncomfortable, but decided to sit on the particular thought that sprung to mind. Until I received a Tweet:
It turns out I was far from the only one to pick up this particular unwelcome vibe.

Why is this so interesting? Well it turns out that pedophilia isn't something that is associated with lesbians. A quick websearch turned up evidence of only a single study attempted into the subject. The study argued that pedophilia is more common among homosexuals than among heterosexuals, but this particular study strikes me as something not to be taken seriously.

At the risk of committing a genetic fallacy, it was published in the Regent University Law Review. What is the Regent University Law Review? "Regent University Law Review seeks to present academically excellent scholarship on relevant issues facing the legal community today from the perspective of a historic Christian worldview."

I'm not the type of person who is ordinarily dismissive of anything said by a Christian on the grounds that they are a Christian. That being said, socially-conservative Christians have hardly been welcome or accepting of LGBTQ people. So my first impulse is to take anything published in the Regent University Law Review which refers to "the homosexual movement" with a grain of salt.

The study garnered great interest on a number of fringe websites with track records I would consider questionable.

The other focal point of discussion on the subject of lesbians and pedophilia seems to centre around MRA (Men's Rights Activists) websites. While I have limited sympathies with MRAs (although I'd consider "men's studies academia" to be preferable to "men's rights activists"), this is not a discussion that I feel they've approached from a constructive perspective. From what I've seen, discussion of this subject on MRA websites has been more grievance-based than public interest-based.

That's just how I see it.

For their own part, MRAs seem to blame feminism for preventing any discussion of lesbians and pedophilia -- or, for that matter, homosexuality and pedophilia -- as a deliberate means of creating and/or maintaining an association between pedophilia and heterosexual men. In the case of toxic radical feminists, they may even be correct.

In the seeming absence of any serious study into the subject matter, no conclusion can currently be drawn.

A controversial 1999 study by Dr Harris Mirkin ponders, among some deeply objectionable ideas, one that is far more interesting.

The abstract of Dr Mirkin's paper reads as follows:

"There is a two-phase pattern of sexual politics. The first is a battle to prevent the battle, to keep the issue from being seen as political and negotiable. Psychological and moral categories are used to justify ridicule and preclude any discussions of the issue, and standard Constitutional guarantees are seen as irrelevant. The second phase more closely resembles traditional politics as different groups argue over rights and privileges. Feminist and gay/lesbian politics have recently entered the second phase, while pedophilia is in the first."

It stands to reason that in order for such issues to be considered "negotiable" there must be some sense of normalization. Discussion and good faith academic studies of these issues is necessary for that normalization. In the first phase, the battle to prevent the battle is waged by attempting to prevent discussion and study.

Let's make one thing crystal clear: pedophilia should never, ever be normalized. Ever. But key to preventing pedophiles from abusing children -- such as, say, through therapeutic means -- is a thorough understanding of it.

So while the goal cannot be to "normalize" pedophilia, serious study of it is obviously in the public interest, even though the subject alone is revolting and generally discouraging. I'd suggest that a problem that wreaks social and personal damage as deeply as pedophilia befits study through various methodologies, even if from limited perspectives, would be of tremendous societal benefit.

Dr Harris Mirkin credits feminism with the advancement of women's issues and LGBTQ issues from the first phase to the second phase.

In this he's definitely not wrong.

If "The Red Hood" episode of Gotham serves as a jumping off point tor second-phase discussion of pedophilia, an interesting detail is that Erin Richards, the actress who plays Barbara Kean, is a self-professed feminist.

Time, and how far Gotham is willing to take this uncomfortable moment, will tell just where this awkwardness leads.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Will Mike Colle Run in Englinton-Lawrence?

So, is Mike Colle planning to run federally for the Liberal Party?

A step into the not-so-way-back machine to only February 15, 2015 seems to suggest an answer. Upon hearing that "prized" defector Eve Adams was planning to run against Finance Minister Joe Oliver in Eglinton-Lawrence, Colle declared that would happen only over his dead body.

So is he planning to contest that nomination against Adams?

That's a very good question. For everyone involved.

Recently, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau was stood up at a party fundraiser by Luo Zhaohui, China's Ambassador to Canada. Just what was the Ambassador supposed to be doing at a Liberal Party fundraiser? As the guest of honour?

Your guess is as good as mine. But it does raise some serious questions about the growing coziness between the Liberal Party and the Communist Party of China.

Just how cozy are they getting? There are numerous links between the Liberal Party, both provincially and federally, and various Beijing-friendly groups which are essentially proxies in Canada for the Communist Party of China.

Mike Colle himself is something of a central figure in that growing coziness.

In 2007, Colle was the Minister of Immigration and Citizenship in the Ontario provincial government. Or at least he was until the end of July that year, when he resigned following a report from Ontario's Auditor General that found he had issued citizenship grants in a manner that was "not open, transparent, or accountable."

The report found that many organizations given grants by Colle's ministry had political ties to the Liberal Party, and that many of these grants were not based on the applications of the group. In one case the Ontario Cricket Associaton -- applying upon the Minister's invitation -- asked for $150,000 for a project but instead was granted $1 million.

In one case, the Chinese Professional Association of Canada -- a group that has echoed the Chinese Communist Party's stance on every matter imaginable -- was issued grants totalling $275,000.

CPAC board member Michael Huang was, at the time, employed as a policy advisor in Colle's office. No fewer than twelve members of CPAC had attended a fundraiser for Colle's reelection campaign just six weeks before CPAC received a $25,000 grant.

Much more recently, CPAC championed a partnership between the Toronto District School Board and the Confucius Institute, an institution known to act as an espionage wing of the Chinese Communist Party.

“Confucius Institutes are essentially political arms of the Chinese government,” explained Canadian Association of University Teachers executive director James Turk. “They restrict the free discussion of topics Chinese authorities deem controversial and should have no place on our campuses.”

It would be very interesting indeed to know just what the Chinese Professional Association of Canada used that $275,000 for. That $275,000 Mike Colle granted to the organization while one of its board members worked in his ministry.

Almost as interesting as whether or not Mike Colle plans to run for federal office.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

An Update on My Challenge to Amy MacPherson

Bad Company readers may recall a challenge I issued to Free the Press Canada's Amy MacPherson, wherein I challenged her to register her blog with the Ontario Press Council, whereupon I would file an ethical complaint regarding her Jian Ghomeshi coverage.

Today, I phoned the Ontario Press Council and inquired about Free the Press Canada's status with the organization. Executive Director Don McCurdy was aware of no such application.

He did advise me that FTPC could be considered eligible for membership in the OPC if it was judged that they (MacPherson) were judged capable of conducting themselves according to professional standards.

Based on her handling of the Jian Ghomeshi story, I don't think that's the case.

More specifically, I did ask Mr McCurdy's opinion about MacPherson's famed "civilians won't substantiate the Star's claims, but the army will" remark regarding Lucy DeCoutere coming forward. He didn't consider it to be reasonable or accurate.

It took an awfully long time, but I'm getting the sense that MacPherson does feel embarrassed about that particular column. As I noted previously, she flushed it down the memory hole prior to deciding to pursue ethical complaints against Jesse Brown which turned out to have very little basis.

I noted previously that Google residue remains which prove the article's existence. Upon that being reported MacPherson set out to attempt to purge that residue, but she won't be able to do that this time.

For the record, I've seen no sign of a genuine apology to Lucy DeCoutere for this conduct. I've seen MacPherson try to harass DeCoutere into granting her an interview -- all while trying to pretend that her original smear of DeCoutere never happened -- but never any real, genuine or sincere apology.

Intriguingly, and comically, MacPherson revealed last week that she has decided to take her complaints regarding the Toronto Star's refusal to take her complaints seriously to the Ontario Press Council.

I wonder where she got that idea from?

If you ask me, it represents the utter height of hypocrisy. Amy MacPherson, who declines to answer to any independent arbiter of ethics, runs to that very same independent arbiter of ethics because the Toronto Star won't take the baseless complaints of a common crank seriously.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Kimsgman Smashes Deep Green Ecology

For a guy who speaks with a lisp, Valentine is a scary dude.

Samuel L Jackson chews the scenery with the best of them and perhaps has more fun doing it than any of them. In Kingsman: The Secret Service he looks like he's having more fun doing it than he's ever had before.

In Kingsman Valentine essentially serves as the backdrop for the story of the transformation of Gary "Eggsy" Unwan (Taron Eggerton) from down-and-out urban lowlife into gentleman spy. Acting as his Fairy Godfather is Harry Hart (Colin Firth), known within the Kingsmen as Galahad.

Hart recruits Eggsy to replace Lancelot, a Kinsman killed by Valentine at the beginning of the film. By film's end Eggsy and Merlin (Mark Strong giving his most singularly awesome performance to date) are all that stands between Valentine and the destruction of nearly all human life on Earth.

Valentine, you see, is a deep green ecologist who believes that humanity is a virus, and that the planet can heal itself after humanity is mostly extinct.

Of course he doesn't plan to exterminate himself, his friends, or a very select group of international celebrities and dignitaries who are going along with his plan.

They never do.

And I say that because the premise of Valentine's role in the film is not entirely fictional. Deep green ecologists -- who literally believe that a decrease in the human population is necessary in order for the planet to flourish -- really do exist.

Not all of them believe in exterminating human life. Some of them do. Some observers have even adopted a separate term for people with such beliefs: dark ecologists. Dark ecologists exist as a deranged and violent subset of deep green ecologists, who venerate eco-terrorists such as Ted Kaczynski or Wiebo Ludwig.

What separates deep green ecologists from dark ecologists? In my opinion, one thing: deep green ecologists are willing to wait for human life to be reduced through attrition. I disagree with this, but I don't consider it especially threatening. Dark ecologists are not content to wait for such things, and are perfectly willing to kill.

There are only two things that separate dark ecologists from the villain of Kingsman. First, the obvious cartoonishness of the film -- something that characters in the film brilliantly remark about throughout the film. Secondly, dark ecologists are so far removed from any kind of power that a global mass slaughter is simply not plausible for them.

But if they were ever permitted to attain power, the results could be absolutely catastrophic.

The deep green ecology movement will always be a bunch of Malthusian whackjobs. They can at least earn themselves some moral and ethical capital by rooting out, isolating and expelling any dark ecologists in their midst.

If they instead shelter these dark ecologists, deep green ecologists should be treated as no less psychotic than their more murderous compatriots.

After all, it isn't Valentine's lisp that makes him scary.