Fortress Europa Wrap-up & Minor Updates

The final nail in the coffin was hammered on the September IV turn.  I managed to make one last heroic strike and was even able to take out SHAEF, but without enough troops to form a line, my few strong piles would get surrounded by Allied troops and would so be unable to escape (units retreating through enemy ZOC are immediately eliminated).

Anti-climactic, I know.  But we will be starting Avalon Hill’s Bull Run this week, which we are both pretty stoked about.  After bagging Fortress Europa, we set up the Order of Battle Cards, were both impressed and perplexed by the granularity of the forces, attempted to extrapolate the system based on the pieces and were delighted as we figured out that some of our guesses were correct.  On the surface, it looks like a far more complicated game than it probably actually is.  I’ll go into that in the first post of our run on that game.

So, time for a few updates.  First, the zine:

I may have found an artist for the first issue of Cirsova.  Once contracts are signed and everything is official, I can make the official announcement.  I’m pretty excited about it.  This week, I’ll be doing a bit more work on adspace; I’ve figured out how much adspace I have, now I just need to get some exact print dimensions so I can provide those specs to potential advertisers.

Now that I may have an artist, I have figured up my costs for this first issue, crunched numbers and have something in the way of rewards tiers planned out.  All rewards will be some combination of “investing” for one copy or many and buying an ad or not buying an ad.  I’m going to try not to harp on this too much, so I don’t burn people out before I get a chance to actually launch the kickstarter, so my next updates prior to launch will simply be to announce the artist, show off the art once it’s done, and to promote the kickstarter.  I’ll include details on those things here, naturally.

Second, Drasmyr Week:

It’s not quite going to be a full-blown Drasmyr week like I did when The Children of Lubrochius came out, but I will have the author Matthew D. Ryan here on Wednesday talking about Tolkien.  Hardback for Sceptre of Morgulan comes out on Lulu tomorrow and you can bet I’ll be ordering it!

Now, the AlisonScam:

I wanted to try to say something about the whole Alison Prime/Steve Polk massive troll, but I can’t really put together anything that doesn’t sound like I’m saying ‘this person is being pilloried and that’s probably a good thing’.  For those who don’t know, Alison Prime was a self-described boob obsessed lesbian gamer girl who was also a cancer survivor and survivor of domestic abuse who was loudly pro-gamergate (though from what I’ve heard, she would mostly derail conversations by bringing up boobs); this person turned out to be a sock-puppet account of some dude named Steve who used pics from a (supposedly dead) friend and other various similar looking women to create a composite fake gamer girl.  Steve’s house burned down and got outed when people were raising money for “Alison Prime” whose house burned down.

I was only vaguely aware of Alison Prime, because I mostly only paid attention to a small handful of streamers whom I had time for (Sargon, Vee, Queeny before she left, Sox and the Honey Badgers.)  Most GG drama is pretty bad for GG, but I don’t know if it will be bad in the long run that everyone in all corners of GG can be united in being pissed off that someone lied about being a cancer and abuse survivor for attention. It also shines a bit of an uncomfortable light on how the internet affects our empathy: many people seemed to love and genuinely care about this weird and kooky person who turned out to never actually exist.  To find out that someone you cared about was not only lying to you but didn’t actually exist must be pretty gutwrenching, and I feel pretty bad for the folks who’ve been affected by it.

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My Gamergate & Sad Puppies Apologia

It has been a little over a year since Gamergate started and a little over a year since I became involved with it. My traffic has more than doubled in the last year, so I think it’s a good time for a reflection on the matter for new folks. I will also go into my relationship with Sad Puppies. This is a personal disclosure, rather than a defense of all the particulars of either movement; I want to put out there why I supported these things.

Gamergate
First things first, for those who are wondering about that image over on the right side-bar, that’s Vivian James: she’s the unofficial mascot of Gamergate whose creation was crowdsourced by the artistic members of the community that grew around the whole debacle. Why is she standing in front of a Confederate flag? That image was created in part of the response to game storefronts who decided earlier this year that the Virginia battle flag was so offensive that historical games featuring it were being pulled from digital shelves. As a historical war gamer, that was a pretty big deal for me. The OpSkyNet hashtag it links to was created as a networking tool.

Why did I come out in support of Gamergate? I first heard about the whole debacle that started Gamergate from James Desborough back in late August. In his post, he actually defended ZQ to some extent while acknowledging that there is corruption in games journalism. What followed, however, were wave after wave of articles condemning anyone who questioned journalistic practices all sorts of ugly names. The media spun a provably false narrative of Gamergate being comprised of white male misogynists who wanted to run all women out of gaming; what I saw was an incredibly diverse and talented group of creative people who were not only upset that the media covering their hobby was corrupt but that the media was accusing them (many of whom are non-white and women) of trying to impose white male hegemony over gaming. It was absurd!

Gamergate is a very different thing today. As a movement, it accomplished a lot, and being acknowledged by the Society o Professional Journalists as having a legitimate grievance about media corruption was huge. Is there still media corruption? Absolutely. But the initial push was about exposing and getting people to recognize the issues regarding media malpractice. What has happened, however, since SPJ (and to some extent leading up to it) is that the movement (as all movements do) began to slow and wind down; the community is still there, and there is a very diverse (including politically diverse) group of people who are not quite sure what to do now. Keep fighting, or plant the flag and go home? A lot of folks don’t want the party to end, and to an extent, I understand that: it feels good to have been part of something. The community is still there and the cause is still there, but some of those differences in opinions manifest themselves in unpleasant ways, and the community (not Gamergate) is struggling to deal with them.

In the end, I think it was a good thing filled with mostly good people trying to accomplish a worthy goal, and I’m proud to have been a small part of it.

Sad Puppies
Not long after I started blogging, I became a member of the now more-or-less defunct* RPG Blog Alliance. One of the many blogs I was a regular reader of from there was Jeffro’s Space Gaming Blog. When he was announced on the Sad Puppies 3 list, I had no idea what Sad Puppies was or the whole story behind the Hugos drama; I just thought it was cool as heck that someone from our community had been noticed! This was a big deal for those of us in the tabletop community.

Then I started noticing something happening. Something so familiar! News outlets were saying that a bunch of racist white men were trying to run women and minorities out of science fiction! I saw a mind blowing amount of not just hatred and meanness but falsehood being directed towards these people, including someone I really like and respect.

Now, I’m very fortunate that this did not spill into my personal life more than a little. I did nearly lose a friend, however, who sent me numerous blog posts and articles, including one that invoked the Holocaust, trying to convince me how terrible these people were. If anything, it had the opposite effect; the worst and even many of the milder things they were accused of struck me as so obviously false that I couldn’t help but sympathize with them. To the “this individual is pompous, rude and disagreeable”, I may say “Okay”, but to the “these people want women out of science fiction!” I must raise my eyebrow in suspicion. I’d seen this very thing before reported about a different group of people in many of the same outlets.

The gist of what I saw was “These people are racist sexist misogynists who have bad taste in fiction!” It was the old Arson, Murder and Jaywalking. See, if the response I had encountered was simply “The Sad Puppies have bad taste and they’ve nominated bad stories”, I don’t think I would have been inclined to take any position on the matter. Ultimately, I may have found myself disappointed with nominations I did have time to read (I did not participate in nominations and did not vote in categories wherein I did not read all the works), but I still sympathize with any group who has been so unfairly, wrongly and falsely maligned.

So THAT is why I wound up on the side of the Puppies this year.

I am not interested in fielding “what about (something gamergate/sad puppies allegedly did)?”questions, but if anyone has any questions for me about my interests or involvement with either of these things, I would be happy to discuss them off-site.

*There is a G+ community, but it has a largely different membership and just really does not feel the same; with the exception of Rumors of War, none of the stuff posted there is from the blogs I regularly followed from the old web portal days.

Fictional Milquetoast Leaves Fictional Abusive Girlfriend Following Actual Feminist Accolades

UK rag craps all over itself.

You read that headline right: “Feminists are angry that Kermit the Frog’s new girlfriend is young and thin”

Despite being a caricature of the loud, abrasive, violent, bullying, self-centered actress type, something went dreadfully wrong with pop culture and a generation grew up mistaking Miss Piggy as some kind of a role model, simply because she was tough, female, and got what she wanted.  Nevermind that she usually got it by whining and throwing temper tantrums while being a nuisance and a danger to those around her.

Why Miss Piggy became a feminist icon in the last 20 years ought to be beyond me, but for some reason i can kind of see it.

Maybe Helena Horton is a professional troll. Given her job as Trending News Journalist for the UK Telegraph, sounds fairly plausible.  But more likely she’s been trolled by twitter because of wanting to pursue the narrative that’s been fed by all of the BS awards and accolades Miss Piggy has been given by the actual feminist community.

Best part that a lot of the tweets being used as supposed ‘evidence’ of feminist backlash are coming from accounts I recognize as individuals associated with Gamergate.  Most folks seem to be getting a kick out of the fact that Kermit was dumped by the violent bullying ‘feminist’ and is now dating an ‘attractive’ pig who’s probably a hell of a lot nicer to him.

scamille

Scamille_crosby seems taken aback that his/her tweet was taken to mean that it was a “backward step for feminism”:

Slipping Down the Slope: Gamergate Card Game to Today

When the Gamergate card game was banned, Steve Wieck boasted about how Onebookshelf had only ever had to ban one thing ever, and hey, it was okay because it was just Gamergate, the maid rape and crack whores were safe. Well, first they came for Gamergate, now they’ve come for Tournament of Rapists. Because that’s how fucking far through the looking glass we are. Yeah, the inoffensive card game satirizing the events of the first few months of Gamergate was banned first, but now Onebookshelf has gone down the “We’ll ban offensive stuff when we see it” slippery slope that everyone said would happen because of some tacky open d20 product that got brigaded.

So it’s been shown that brigading titles on Onebookshelf could be the new primary means for the perpetually offended to attack things they don’t like in tabletop. In the meantime, James Raggi, creator of Lamentations of the Flame Princess and world famous provocateur of tabletop gaming, has possibly threatened to leave the industry in response to this:

“I checked my stats and according to the ranking function they have in the Publisher tools, I am a Top 2% seller on OBS. (which says more about how small the 98% are more than how big I am) I have done over $100,000 gross sales over the six years I’ve sold through the site, which isn’t nothing.

If one of my products gets pulled, or if the products of my peers are pulled without their consent, I am taking every LotFP product off of that site, which will be something of an economic armageddon for me and a hardship from everyone on my roster getting royalties from sales. I’ll also have pretty much no mechanism for conveniently delivering PDFs to people. (even reinstating PDF sales on my site would leave me no mechanism to provide access to people that do not purchase the title; I have rather cheap software and investing in more sophisticated software will be quite impossible without OBS sales money coming in.)

This past weekend a brainless howling mob showed they were in charge of this industry and have the power to disappear ideas and products they disapprove of. Whether this is the majority or a very vocal minority doesn’t make much difference to me; I consider myself at war with them. That this is within our industry feels like an intense betrayal; I have been literally shaking mad over the past several days. Simply shitting out pieced-together cheap crap POD versions of what I owe people and simply quitting has crossed my mind.

Without the ability to freely create, and freely reach people who might be interested in those creations, participation in this hobby and this industry is simply not worth doing.

Anyone who would restrict that creativity, or make it more difficult to find people who are creating things you might enjoy, anyone who restricts imagination and works of fiction, anyone who works to ban any work, is simply evil.

Evil.

We have lost a great deal over the past several days.” James Raggi via Google+

Frankly, I don’t care much for Raggi’s products and would probably never buy them, but I cannot dispute his importance to the tabletop market as a creator, consultant, and product developer. Tournament of Rapists, disgusting as it is, likely had no importance or significant impact on the tabletop market until this week.

What do you do about gross things? You don’t buy them!

People aren’t mad because you can’t buy a game about rapists, people are mad because they see the existential threat to creative free speech looming on the horizon. We didn’t want to hear Steve Wieck say “Rape is fine!”; what we wanted to hear Steve say was “Tournament of Rapists sounds gross; I’m not going to buy it. If you think it sounds gross, you probably shouldn’t buy it either!”

Weekend Haul & Other Stuff

Because I can’t help myself, despite having more stuff than i can reasonably read, I managed to expand my collection on a number of impressive fronts. I got several Jack Vance books, another Andrew J Offutt, and a few Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser books, some I didn’t have and one that was a first edition paperback of the one I already had (so I can pass along my reprint to a deserving person who needs it). What’s really cool, though, is that I got the serialized form of the High Crusade as well as a couple issues of digest sized pulps with Vance pieces as the feature stories.

Cirsova has been receiving a good bit of attention lately. As a review resource for MYFAROG, the new Basic edition has sent a good bit of unusual traffic my way. I’ve said before that Jeffro’s G+ feed is like Drudge Report for gamers, and some of the stuff of mine he’s reshared has ended up in cool strange places, like Conan message boards. Not only was I one of the Dyvers best reads of the week, I was in the top 10 of the month! What’s terrifying though, is that in a world where Wikipedia does not consider Breitbart and several other well known conservative/libertarian outlets reputable sources, Cirsova has been cited as a representative member of Gamergate and evidence that Agness Kaku doesn’t “blame” Gamergate for the harassment she has received on the Kickstarter Wikipedia page. Also, with the latest slippery slope flap over at Onebookshelf, I’m sure that at least one those “Unknown Search Terms” that has been giving me traffic is “Steve Wieck Hypocrite”.

I think the part about the 1488 ballots being thrown out might come from a misreading of this second paragraph, but this was a pretty good post-Hugos stream.

And yeah, Gamergate was not all that involved in the Hugos this year: case-in-point, I am probably in the top 10 ten most influential members of Gamergate actively involved in the worldcon debacle this year.

Later this week, I’ll talk about Thomas Burnett Swann and force myself to write a bit about Joseph Green’s A Star Is Born.

Media’s Go-Tos for Horrific Crimes: Gun Owners and now #Gamergate

“This was not a war zone. Journalists were doing a perfectly safe story all local TV stations do. Yet they get shot, on air. This is America.” – Ram Ramgopal, CNN Editor.

“Why did I do it? I put down a deposit for a gun on 6/19/15. The Church shooting in Charleston happened on 6/17/15… What sent me over the top was the church shooting. And my hollow point bullets have the victims’ initials on them… Alison made racist comments… I filmed the shooting see Facebook.” – Vester Flanagan, Murderer

Yep, this is America. Already we’re seeing this terrifying and tragic story being turned into part of the existing anti-gun narrative. No, it has absolutely nothing to do with a perfect storm of crazy and a race obsessed media.  But that’s not the only angle now.

Look out, Puppies, I know you’ve been accused of some bad stuff, but apparently you’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg.

Nevermind that the murderer gave us his exact reasons, it’s already being blamed on #gamergate.

In a virulent reaction to powerful, strong women who have gained opportunities following the emergence of the Feminist Movement in America, it has become common for failed men to turn their anger, fear, and vitriol at themselves onto women. Often, like Bryce Williams, onto women who are more successful and competent than they are.

Women working in the video gaming industry who had the nerve to speak out against the macho culture and over-sexualization of women in the gaming industry were met with threats of rape and murder. The trolls of #gamergate pounced with threats of rape and murder trying to intimidate these women into shutting up. (emphasis mine)

Fuck. Me.

Minor update: Comment section has been repeatedly scrubbed down to one “herp derp, you’re so right!” comment. Archived comments can be seen here: https://archive.is/qrQ6N  https://archive.is/kGi2M

#Gamergate SPJ

Articles on the SPJ Gamergate Airplay Bomb-threat justify SPJ Gamergate Airplay.

“Bomb threats closed down a debate on the controversial topic of women’s representation in video games at a Society of Professional Journalists event in Miami on Saturday.” – Rise Miami News

(Also, Gamergate is one word, guys.)

So, Gamergate had its day, Koretzky Koretzkyed, and the thing ended with the bomb threat which we feared but all knew might happen. Fortunately, the event was NOT totally shut down, and some of our voices were heard. I say some, of course, because not only did several people that we would have loved to hear speak dropped out, either for personal reasons or because they were so offput and alienated by Koretzky that they refused to go, but even if everyone had gone, there’s no way that everyone would hear their concerns voiced.

I’m sure that anyone who cares about this story has already seen Milo & Christina’s remarks, but here are the links anyway.

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/08/15/what-you-missed-this-afternoon-at-spj-airplay-from-christina-hoff-sommers/

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/08/15/what-i-meant-to-say-before-that-bomb-threat/

What struck me was Ren, one of the journalists on the panel who were all “Derp why are you concerned about ethics & Gawker? We all know Gawker’s unethical, lolz! It’s readers fault for not knowing Gawker is Gawker.” Seriously? Journalistic victim blaming. Dude who stood up and said Gawker destroys lives? Kudos to him! Totally sent Ren all “Well, I’m not saying blah blah, i’ll shut up now…”

If more Journalists were like Lynn Walsh, there would not have been a Gamergate. To paraphrase, she said ‘If someone was involved in some way with a story, I would not even let them touch the story: writing, notes, meetings, anything. And to avoid even the appearance of impropriety, because there might be ‘shop talk’ going on, I would note in the story that an employee who did not work on the story had ties to the story.’

GG side of the morning panel was super-pro; I just wish they’d been able to talk about more examples than vague generalities that the Journalist panel steered things toward. I didn’t know anything about Mark, but he handled himself really well and I was impressed. I wish Ashe spoke as well as she wrote, but I was happy to have her there because she does know her stuff. One thing that she touched on was journalists in politics being in relationships with politicians, staffers and consultants, but, unlike what Ashe says, it DOES happen in real journalism. To me, the biggest disappointment about gamergate is that it remained so focused on gaming journalism that gamers did not take the next logical steps to say “Not only are the people covering Ubisoft sleeping with the PR heads of Ubisoft, the people covering Washington are sleeping with staffers and political consultants!”

I haven’t had a chance to catch up on all of it, but I hear that Ollie DID end up filling in on the panel after Milo and Christina left following the bomb threat. He looks like Blade.

Ollie

It’ll take me ages to catch up on all of the post SPJ news, but I’m starting with my two favorite sources combined into one: Veemonro & Sargon did a stream of the whole thing. Check it here.

The next big clusterfuck this month will be Worldcon. No matter what happens, nothing will be fixed, there will still be wailing and gnashing of teeth, and the ordeal will go on. Unlike Airplay, I don’t know that there will be as much to celebrate about because of the event’s nature. Sasquan isn’t going to vindicate either side, and follow-up stories will be either “Sexist, racist homophobes sweep Hugos, destroy science fiction!” or “Sexist, racist homophobes defeated in bid to destroy science fiction!”

Update: Kudos to Rise: Miami News for issuing a (rather poor) correct, but especially for offering the opportunity for people who were there to weigh in.  Even if they did manage to give us a really bad example of “Cowboy Bebop at His Computer“.

The following is an opinion piece penned after multiple bomb threats shut down a Miami based discussion on ethics in video game journalism, also known by the shorthand- GamerGate.”

Update 2: God, the second half of SPJ is like a retread of the Fox debate; supposed moderator doing all of the talking. Even Derek Smart called Koretzky out on trying to derail.  Also, the whole “Well, gee, what if we’d talked to one of those e-celebs like Sargon of Akkad for his opinion?” “That would’ve been a great start.”

Update 3: Lynn Walsh is probably going to be Gamergate’s new waifu, at least for the next couple of weeks.