Thursday, 6 November 2014

Did The Rest Of The World Even Know Gamergate Was Happening?

A scandal sparked by pervading misogyny within the Gaming Industry causing tension and division, the likes of which the Gaming World has never experienced.

The unfortunate legacy of the clumsily named Gamergate will be one of sexual harassment, death threats and just plain nastiness. This, however, does not give a clear reflection of what has transpired in the passed couple of months and the consequences which will continue to be seen in the following few. Anita Sarkeesian, who found herself very much on the front-line during the height of this scandal, claimed during her interview on the Colbert Report that Gamergate was in actual fact not about ethics in gaming journalism, and that it was actually centred around attacks from males on females within the gaming space. Perhaps a forgivable amount of egotism is at play here, given the ordeal Sarkeesian had to endure, because this is simply not true. Sexism and misogyny in gaming was certainly the fuse, and should be the most important takeaway from Gamergate, but what took place once the fuse was lit spiraled beyond that realm.

To preface the journalistic debacle which took place, one must first look at the terrorism which engulfed prominent female members of the gaming world. Anita Sarkeesian, who I previously mentioned, is head of the online feminist group known as Feminist Frequency. A video which she posted on Youtube about blatant misogyny and the objectification of women in gaming caused quite the stir as many male gamers felt her points were a threat to the creativity and free will of developers. In reality, however, males most likely felt their dominant stance within the industry being threatened. This lead to verbal abuse, cyber harassment and death threats sent to Sarkeesian's house which caused her to leave her home in fear of her own safety. One depraved person went as far as threatening to shoot up the college that Sarkeesian attends if the college did not kick her out. This gives one an idea of just how ugly the scandal became.

To compound the vicious collusion which took place between some (and I mean some) scornful male gamers, a new scandal emerged. A sexist crusade which sought to expose Independent game dev Zoe Quinn as a callous adulterer. Former colleague and butt-hurt ex-boyfriend, Eron Gjoni, wrote an extensive blogpost outlining how Quinn was a deceitful self-promoter and should not be trusted. To my amazement while writing this, the blog has still not been taken down, despite the hateful tirade of abuse towards Quinn which this caused. Again, including the increasingly tiresome yet still worrying death threats which females had to endure. Sure, Zoe Quinn might be a terrible girlfriend, but to try and tarnish her name professionally is just nasty. Furhermore, many of the claims made by Gjoni held no evidence to back them up.

Gamergate became so uncontrollable, seeming to turn any forum related to gaming into a contemptuous debate through cyber-osmosis, that Reddit admins of gaming related subreddits began to delete any threads even somewhat related to the issue. 4chan, as always, did not have such a sensitive persuasion. The deliberation on gaming-related forums on 4chan spoke about the ethics involved with the abuse women received. Tactics used by these bigots, however, were not so honourable. Threats of violence and attempting to hack social media accounts held by prominent female members of the industry, for example Zoe Quinn's tumblr, became part of the daily crusade to dismantle these people's reputation. Brianna Wu, founder of Boston-based developer Giant Spacekat, who recently came out claiming that she expects jail time for those involved in the harassment, was targeted simply for being a critic of the Gamergate movement. And also, it would seem, for being female and having an opinion on matters related to gaming.

This crisis came in the wake of a sustained retreat from gaming journalism, which has caused many journalists to become resentful towards their audience. The jaded and in general more elderly journalists, frustrated by the fact that the gaming world was no longer the little boy's club which they felt they had influence in, concluded that this debacle was caused by the death of the gamer. Multiple articles began popping up on GamasutraDestructoid and inevitably on Kotaku claiming that 'Gamer Identity' was now a thing of the past. Never mind the fact that the vast number of members within the gaming community were very outspoken in condemning the campaign. This explanation for the scandal was bore out of a frustration for no longer being listened to, and worse of all, for being seen as pawns of the mainstream, multi-billion dollar gaming heavy-hitters such as Sony, Microsoft and the other major players in the AAA market. The gaming journalists were essentially trying to bite off the last hand who bothered to feed their petulant mouths. To better understand this from someone who's a far better writer than I am, I would highly recommend reading any of David Auerbach's articles on on the topic.

Gamergate is about the truth that the seemingly most advanced and post-modern members of western society still hold sentiments deemed by modern standards as archaic. Gamergate is about the accelerated decline of Gaming Journalism. But Gamergate is not about the Gamer. The Gamer, sitting at home playing their console, PC or handheld device shouldn't be bothered by pathetic journalists, but they should be very aware of the vicious sexism which exists in the industry and could well be exposed in other tech industries if the recent Tinder scandal is anything to go by.

Friday, 24 October 2014

TIL: America; THE Consumerist Society

To preface this piece of writing, I would like to say that I have thus far thoroughly enjoyed my time in the States, and Texas for that matter and found the American people nothing but welcoming. Any of the gripes expressed in this blog are not intended to give the impression that I have been another one of those snooty European visitors who complain about every insolent characteristic of US society.

Within the first few days of life in the US, one thing became apparent to me: The three R's are not high on the American people's agenda. Now I have visited America before, but only in the tourist capacity. On this occasion, I have been a temporary resident, which means that I have had to engage in all the various American affairs necessary for making my time in the States as comfortable as possible. For example; shopping in Walmart

Before charges for plastic bags became a common feature in supermarkets across EU countries, people were far too frivolous with the consumption of bags given to them for free. Rarely did anyone reuse a bag or find a suitable place to recycle these throwaway items. Keep that era in mind, and then double the usage and half the occasions when people find suitable recycling locations and you have your average Walmart customer. I won't go through every encounter I have had with this shop, but on one occasion I had bought a bag of apples which I had bagged myself before weighing the items. The worker at the cash register saw it fit to then wrap my bagged apples in a plastics bag before eventually bagging them in another plastic bag. In all, there was my doubly bagged apples and a bagged can of Febreeze in one plastic bag. You could have easily fit triple the items in there. This was the first of the major consumerist culture shocks which my brain had to take.

I'm not quite sure if the next brand of consumerism is unique to the desert and swamp states of the South and South-West of America, but the majority of people here simply do not drink water from a tap. Or faucet as the Americans call it. Instead, people purchase cheaply bottled mineral water in huge bulk for a very low price. This would be fine, were it common custom for the American people to then recycle the plastic bottles appropriately. But of course they do not. And just for equities' sake; the European exchange students exercise much of the same behaviour which this society is conducive to. The amount of non-biodegradable waste which this must amount to almost makes me wince when I think about it.

Driving through San Antonio during the night for my first time presented me with a whole new environmental offence which again, boggled my mind. Almost every light in every shop, bank, hotel and any other type of establishment is on for the entirety of the night. In other words; 24/7. I realise that this is in order to deter thiefs and to make it easier to identify the faces of those who attempt to steal from these places, but even the most minor and pointless of lights are still on. Like the lights above the tables in a McDonald's. The cash register I can understand, but who is trying to steal a couple of benches and a table screwed to the floor? 'Luckily', gas is not an issue in Texas and the electricity bill might not be as substantial as one might think, but again, the heinous amount of natural gas that this must consume wracks the brain. All because humans can't trust each other.

The last point leads nicely into the final part of my rant, about a consumerist trait which is not uniquely Texan, but is certainly heightened in this part of the country. I would estimate that 3 out of every 4 motorist in Texas drives a pick-up or jeep of some sort. Even the girliest of girls in Texas drive a Chevy. Again, this does not cause too much of an upset in the wallets of those living here as petrol and diesel prices are absurdly cheap. This gives free reign to the Texan people to have zero qualms about driving their souped-up 2014 white Chevy pick-up with gigantic wheels and custom alloys to buy a can of coke and some cookies in their local supermarket. To only exasperate matters, cities in Texas are so expansive and public transport is so weak that residents are forced to drive almost everywhere.

While I realise this has all been documented to death in the media, seeing first-hand just how much resources American people expend for day-to-day tasks which could easily be achieved in a less wasteful manner is quite shocking. I would implore anyone who stays here for a period of time to try and not give-in to this way of living. It really is very easy to find yourself throwing plastic bags and bottles into general waste like Starburst wrappers and hitching a ride with the local rich friend you made because he's one eighth Irish in his father's Land Rover to the cinema.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Why "Winning At Any Cost" Is A Misplaced Sporting Sentiment

When these players step onto the field, winning can be all that absorbs their thoughts. So much so, that they forget recreational enjoyment is the sole reason they are even there.

Mario Balotelli famously said that "When I score, I don't celebrate. It's my job, does a postman celebrate when he delivers post?". This type of humble-brag quote swept the sporting media and football fans reveled in its sentiment. Not too many stopped for one second, stepped away from their photoshop template of Balotelli donning his sincere face and actually worked through the pragmatics of this mantra. Does Mario actually believe that his 'job' is to deliver a spherical piece of leather through a 24X8 foot gap? If so, then could he please start performing this pseudo-job at Liverpool. But of course it isn't. Whether he likes it or not, he's an entertainer.

Lets take it back around 100 years in the anthropology of modern day sport, to the birth of professional sports men and women. People played sports as part of recreation when they weren't working or studying. People enjoyed watching the people who were best, which I'm sure in most cases were men (Yes. I said it. It's just science; shoot me). People with an entrepreneurial persuasion noticed this, and set-about finding a way to monetise this attraction. Thus, the birth of the modern day professional sport business.

When sports became a business, winning took centre-stage. You want to make more money? Get better players, employ better trainers and coaches, or buy-off the referee if you have to. In the sporting arena of today, the money-making aspect of a sport can often seem to eclipse what the game is about. Enjoyment for the layman. An interest or hobby. No matter how much money a Suadi oil tycoon invests in a football club, the core of any club is the support. Since the money pyramid has become so impossibly complex, investors can oftentimes forget that be it directly, or indirectly, the money starts in the fan's pocket.

José Mourinho came back to Chelsea last summer. In conjunction with this, he brought in players that would feed into his system. Any players already at the club who did not facilitate this system were cut loose, R.E. Juan Mata. Mata who was voted Chelsea player of the year the season before. Discord between Hazard, arguably Chelsea's best player, and Mourinho is already evident. It is admirable to see a manager who isn't afraid to impose their authority on the 'bigger' players, but putting a system in place that stifles a player of that talent showcasing their skills is criminal. If he wins by parking the bus, then the fans may remain content, while apposing fans will look on in disgust. But if he does not, then he will find no safe haven for his crimes against sport.

Similar to this, Jimmy McGuinness has a system in place which he believes is the recipe for victory. Immediately from his appointment as manager of the Donegal footballing team, he cut loose big names who would not suit his system. In conjunction with this, he made sure his players were super-duper fit and played the type of possession football which is a real eyesore. Jimmy won matches, and brought joy to the people of Donegal who craved success, but what are the knock-on effects of his blanket defence system?

In response to this, teams see it fit to try and emulate such negative tactics both in Gaelic Football and Soccer. Kerry, a county that prides itself in playing an attractive style of football and producing exciting players, have just pulled off an astonishing victory in reclaiming Sam for the 37th time. Sacrifices were made, however. Fitzmaurice, who, to his credit, has pulled off an incredible feat in winning an All-Ireland with a team 'in transition', was pressured into adopting a negative system of play which, in turn, made for an ugly final with Jimmy's men. In the premiership, teams such as Liverpool, Everton and Man City, have been meekly rewarded for their positive play so far this season. Their attractive style of football dazzled supporters last year and made for an exciting league. However, with the flaws of their high pressing, one-touch football tactics being exploited in games so far, will this put pressure on the ambitious managers of these teams to implement a more reserved style?

Ultimately, this victory complex is hurting the supporter. Those who make the sporting globe spin. Who put their money, time and effort into following a sport they find pleasurable. This rift between the supporter and those in charge in today's sporting arena is evident. For how long it will continue, is difficult to say.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Do We Really Want the Americans Liking Soccer?

Footie elitists oftentimes become butt-hurt over what they view as Americans not 'getting' the beautiful game. But do we really want our friends from across the pond loving our most treasured sport?

Based on TV ratings; one would not be quivering at the lip with the thought of John Brooks' dramatic late winner against Ghana in last week's World Cup finals game encapsulating a nation of people who, until now, have viewed football as a children's game to play on Sundays, in contrast with how many Europeans and South Americans see it: as a way of life. Just over 11 million Americans tuned in to see their national team's first match. This year's Super Bowl piqued at 111 million. If my Leaving Cert pass-maths serves me correct then that's 100 million more. 

And yes, one might say that comparing the two within the context of America is a jaded way to view the popularity of the sport. However, I urge you to bear in mind that this is no ordinary sporting event. This is the largest sporting event in the world. Yes, even bigger than the Olympics. Impressive, considering that 163 out of 195 countries do not take part in it. Yet, the US barely takes part in the celebrations-and they are in it! One needn't look past the following of MLS clubs to understand that soccer is simply not the status-quo of American sporting.

Due to this obvious glitch in American society, Europeans feel the need to express their frustration at this misunderstanding by exclaiming such tenets as; "well, they just don't get it" or "do they not realise that American Football and Baseball are shite?". Many Europeans could write a whole new 96 theses based on reasons the Americans should like football, but still don't. I instead have begun to take a new approach to dealing with this matter by envisaging a world where football was the most popular sport state-side. We'd all be fucked.

After all, America is the third largest country in the world in terms of population and the largest, by a considerable margin, in terms of stepping on other nation's toes. Imagine if football was as popular as their indigenous sports? They would probably be up there with the Spains and Argentinas, if not much better. Sure, they don't have the pedigree in this generation, but give them 16-20 years and they'd be lifting the FIFA World Cup in the definitely-not-rigged host nation of Kuwait. 

And the gloating...We would never recover as a species. I could see World War III kicking off, and I do not speak of the type of kick off which occurs on a Sunday afternoon.

While the sport becoming more popular in America is a good thing insofar as betterment of the game should be fostered, I think I'll let the Yanks wear their ridiculous-looking armour-plated suits and wife-beaters for now.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

How Social Media has Exasperated Social Inclusion

It's safe enough to say that every single being in the entire multi-verse has seen the selfie that Ellen DeGeneres took with all those A-list Hollywood actors at the Oscrars and then retweeted it 700 times each (cannot confirm whether these numbers are accurate, but a decent estimation I would say). However, an image which many people may have not seen was the view from behind this photo, of Liza Minnelli desperately trying to grow 5 or 6 inches.

Of course, the good people in Ellen DeGeneres' PR group made her privy to this micro-publicity crisis. Ellen was quick to make amends with the star in order to avoid any tarnishing of her good name by taking a selfie of just her and Liza, in which she looked decidedly less fervent in comparison to her world-record breaking pic:

Mind you, Minnelli herself does not look particularly excited either. Disdain, if anything is to be read from her poker-face. 

So what is this all about? Well I believe this occurrence brings some interesting points to light in regards to how social media has created a tense arena where it is almost impossible not to feel excluded by one thing or another. People enjoy to capture the most idyllic and picturesque moment of any occasion. Be it a Sunday walk with their neighbours, or a night out with friends. The denizens of the social media do not tend to post deflated imagery which displays moments of tedium. 

When people are traversing the various realms of social medium, they might not always be in the best of spirits. I'm not saying that they are depressed, but simply feeling less confident, and somewhat downtrodden. Being surrounded by imagery of people having fun merely heightens this demoralisation which can lead people to feel withdrawn from life and view the perceived merriment that everyone else is experiencing to be that bit sweeter.

Pining over someone else's life experiences is never a fun exercise. It can only ever result in denial and wanting. Everyone's been to a party or on a night-out which was crap, yet people will marvel at the deceptive pictures posted on Facebook the next day. This works much the same for everyone else. So remember to relish the truly good moments in your life, rather than sitting at home and longing for ostensible joy. 

Monday, 3 February 2014

The Curious Case of Blogging vs. Vlogging

Disclaimer: Realising there's a very thin hypocrisy line upon which I'm treading - by all means, call me out for any comments you believe come across as such.

While perusing the infinite expanse of youtube, I stumbled across a video by Jenna Marbles, y'know that Blonde lady with an overtly hardball New York accent who seems to only use the right side of her mouth to speak? Well if you don't know who she is, she's a vlogger. That being a 'video logger' who exercises somewhat the same practice as I am now in that they talk about subjects and topics with an audience that doesn't exist yet, then posts this media up on the internet for the audience to flock to them.

Now when I say "stumbled across" this video, I'm not using the meaning of the phrase exactly. It's more like stumbling across an island rather than a rock. This video, entitled Things I Don't Have Time For, has nearly 2 and a half million views. It really makes one muse upon the attraction of such a video. Frankly, *rant warning* I could not give a flying fuck about things that someone else doesn't have time for. This person, who has nothing noteworthy achieved in any other field or strand in life, switches on a camera and talks about personal gripes and opinions with an unseen audience, then puts this up on youtube and receives millions of views, and this is her full-time job *rant subsided*.

However a blogger couldn't do this. Imagine if this was my blog:

Things I like

Baby Ducks 

New Car Smell....mmmm

Opening a can of coke

Wearing funny hats

Being the last to clap in a crowd (BTW, look at all the happy multi-cultural people!)

Not a single person would bother returning to your blog if it looked like this, which is essentially what Jenna Marbles does only through a different medium. And this different medium, holds the answer to my pondering.

You see, with writing for an audience, there must be a captivating title with an intriguing context which the writer probes and analyses in order to make conjectures or to formulate an educated opinion backed up by facts and reason. A blog is no different (on a side-note, how meta is this blog?). Anyways! This medium creates a barrier, or opportunity depending on how one views it, in that the writing must sound and read a certain way to hold an audience whilst also sticking to the context which initially attracted the reader.

Video logs work differently. A weak context can be easily substituted by a person's looks, accent, charisma and personality which tend to saturate the content and subject matter. Furthermore, seemingly 'likeable' people can be more persuasive in their rhetoric and therefore captivate their audience in what some might view as a primitive manner. However, There are clearly more layers to this topic which I could not possibly cover or even begin to understand and deviate from person to person.

This isn't a ripping on vloggers by the way. I'm sure some put a lot of work into making the quality of their content as good as possible. On a final note, fuck Jenna Marbles. Thanks for reading folks!