#1ReasonWhy More story != more words My mystery flight

My mystery flight

(0) October 19th, 2012

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be a part of something I think is pretty cool, I was given the reins of the @WeMelbourne twitter account as a guest tweeter. It’s kind of like @Sweden, where each week a different person is behind the account, tweeting about their life and what they’d like to get off their chest. Except more Melbourney. Trams ‘n shit.

I’d watched the @Sweden account from afar for a while, watching how different people drove it, how people drove it differently, and the shitstorm that inevitably ensued when people didn’t “like” what “Sweden” was saying this week. I found the whole thing quite fascinating.

So when I heard about one for my first love (Melbourne), I got super excited. Here we’d see in black and white the beautiful melange of what made Melbourne, Melbourne. Curated by the exquisite @stokely, we’d see the diverse (and sometimes not), the sophisticated (and sometimes not), and the progressive side of Melburnians. Or sometimes not. Either way I was keen to see how our city represented itself. Complicated beast that she is.

What I wasn’t expecting, was how I reacted when I was in the driver’s seat.

Now try and quell the little bit of vomit that’s trying to creep up your throat when I say this, or try to tame the scoff that will attempt to escape from your lungs due to you being super cool with your “outdoors” and “real lives” and stuff, but twitter is really important to me. Twitter is a reach to the outside world. Twitter is where I keep in contact with many of my “IRL” friends, where I make new ones, where I learn things, where I get support when I feel alone, and also (very importantly) where I get basically all of my paid work from. It’s friends I’ve made and relationships that twitter has strengthened that actually put food on my family’s plate. It may come as a shock to some given that some of my tweets contain bulging swears or talk about things that you wouldn’t want to bring up in a board room, that I consider it at times a work space. At times. Then there’s pictures of funny stuff and amazing reaction gifs.

This has a lot to do with how carefully I’ve curated my twitter feed. The old saying “Your twitter is what you make it” (I think it was Aristotle or something) is not only entirely true, but it’s a reminder to prune every now and then, and hone in on what’s good for you, what’s not, and what you want more of in your eyeballs. My twitter feed is a careful blend of games stuff, politics (only the kind I agree with, I don’t “hate follow”, there be dragons), writing stuff, kid stuff, pop culture stuff, and some comedians (or people even funnier than comedians, ‘sup @Brocklesnitch). It’s changed over the years, and it’s constantly evolving even now. No one’s twitter feed is the same, it’s deeply personal and people use it in many different ways. Some only broadcast, some only consume, some only follow celebrities, some only follow friends from IRL.

The weirdest thing about being behind the @WeMelbourne twitter account for a week, was the sudden realisation I hadn’t curated this twitter feed. That sounds like it shouldn’t have that much of an effect, but it really really did.

It was like stepping onto foreign soil. Not being sure if you speak the language. Not much was familiar, and I was being exposed to much more than what I was used to in my little bubble. I didn’t know many of the faces lined up on the left-hand-side of the feed. I didn’t recognise very many names. I missed certain personalities from my feed. I missed the avatars that I would stop scrolling when I saw, to check what they were saying. (We need a name for those scroll-stoppers. How about scroll-stoppers.)

I saw RIGHT WING tweets! (mostly being retweeted by others, for various reasons, not necessarily endorsements) and MEAN people and slut-shamers and fat-shamers and all these things I didn’t have to worry about very much in my feed. (It’s weird how easy it is to forget The Right even exists, once you carefully lance all traces from your life.) People talked about The Right in much more detail than I allow on my feed. Probably a self-preservation thing.

I saw people blaming videogames for bad things happening in society, and not actually taking the piss.

Before this sounds like some kind of spoiled-white-girl’s Vietnam flashback, it wasn’t bad. At all! It was quite fun. I saw some great tweets I wouldn’t have otherwise seen, and have thusly followed their authors. I’ve had people who were very kind to me while I was behind the account continue to be kind afterwards back in my Twitter country. Overall the experience was lovely. @Stokely was kind and professional and organised, and I had no qualms. It wasn’t a feed-full-of-Right, it was just a balanced look at the world — and the twitter world I’ve created myself is stacked. I became very aware of this (and totally cool with it, incidentally).

But nevertheless I was genuinely shocked with how I taken aback I was by this foreign twitter feed. It was paralysing. “Normally I don’t shut up on twitter, what gives?”, I said to myself, like a crazy person. I was busy the week I took over, which didn’t help, but I also didn’t know what to tweet about. I barely tweeted. I did a terrible job of being interesting, and an even worse one at giving any insight into my life. When I tweet from my account, I know generally how it’s going to be received (in that it won’t be a complete stab in the dark). I know my twitter feed’s “personality”, and the personalities contained within it. I have comfort in the fact if I’m being sarcastic about something, most people following me will know I’m not being serious because they have a vague understanding of who I am and what my beliefs are. I was stripped bare of this when tweeting from @WeMelbourne, and I didn’t expect it to stop me tweeting as much. Normally twitter is like an extension of my hand, and the bullshit just floooooows like molten lava from a really dumbass volcano. No, this wasn’t “my” twitter.

It was like the first day at a new school. I felt like I was being looked up and down, and that was completely unexpected. There was an obligation and a responsibility to not piss anyone off, that I don’t think I feel in my own twitter world. The context in which I exist, is normally enough to avoid any large conflicts, and unless you’ve been following me for a while, you don’t have much context for who I am. There’s ample room to tread toe. I don’t think I’m a “bite sized” tweeter. I think I’m a big messy package.

I think if I were to do something like this again, I would keep in mind that it isn’t just tweeting from a different account, like I’d hastily assumed. Shit can get weird, yo. I lost myself a little bit and became concerned with how I’d be received. That isn’t something that takes up too much of my grey matter on my own personal twitter account. I don’t tweet from a vacuum, I tweet from a carefully constructed safe space, and I tweet knowing that I’m not alone. I tweet knowing that generally those who have made the decision to follow me have done so for whatever-the-fuck their reasons are, and have consented to falling down that particular rabbit hole.

There was pressure that came with people not consenting to follow ME. They followed the account on a promise, an idea. It made me realise how easy it is to take for granted the little community you build yourself on your social networks. I think I like tweeting better when people have consented to listening to it.
It’s a bit like real life really. As much as I like to pretend it isn’t, sometimes.

If you ever get a chance to take the reins of a new or different twitter account, try it. Because honestly it’s truly bizarre. I didn’t think it would be that confronting at all. If you think you’re familiar with twitter, you’re probably really only familiar with one twitter feed. If you want to fuck shit up, start a new one (Or give app.net a go. Come say hi) and go in a completely different direction and see the change not knowing where you’re going will have on you.

A bit like a mystery flight. Who knows what you’ll need to pack.

For (not so) immediate release

(2) August 31st, 2012

Studio behind “Liam van Deventer” to be embarking on a new project, due March 2013.

After the release of “Liam van Deventer” to great critical success in May 2008, the studio has been keeping very quiet, saying they would “alert press when appropriate” of a new franchise. Since then the development team have been focused on making improvements to Liam, applying patches, updates, and providing ongoing support. Occasional challenges arose soon after release where some minor bugfixes were administered, but no time was spent offline. 2010 saw some engine issues, but an overhaul of their “Discipline™” engine and a firmware upgrade soon saw added stability, and reduced load on the servers. 4 years later it’s revealed that they’re working on another product.

Using existing proprietary tools that have proven to be successful in the past, the studio has embarked on a new journey, revolutionizing the way we play, and the dynamic of the team.

According to sources close to the studio, this new IP has been in development as far back as June 2012. Given that it’s now 3 months since that date, there is little to show to the public, and the tight-lipped studio is supplying only one screenshot to tide us through until closer to release.

“The team are expecting to see some expansions” said Leena van Deventer, designer. “Especially on the front end. I’ve alerted the team to keep an eye on the back end and make sure we don’t see the same kind of bloating we did with Liam’s development. It got a little crazy.” She goes on to explain “We have a strict 40 week deadline, after which extreme measures will be taken to ship the product as soon as humanly possible. Liam had a 41 week development cycle and we are not wanting to repeat the same pattern again”.

Co-designer Bart van Deventer declined comment, saying he hadn’t been involved as much since the pre-production phase (where his input was integral), but will be focusing on post-release support.

Fans of Liam van Deventer are excited about the news, but have said they won’t stop playing with Liam after release.

Where were you when we needed you?

(0) August 24th, 2012

I’m tired. Exhausted in fact. I’m a vocal opponent of douchebaggery and I make no bones about my hatred of people being absolute arses to each other. When I feel the offense is great enough, I speak up when someone does something I find unacceptable. Normally it takes the shape of a barrage of shouty tweets, a FB rant, or perhaps a long winded blog. (You’re outta luck pal, you scored the latter.) When someone is offended by the Shitstorm Du Jour, the formula usually goes like this:

Complaint: “Whoa, I’m offended by that” or even sometimes “I’m offended by that because X and Y”
Response: “Pfff, no you’re not” or “That’s a dumb thing to get upset over, be quiet”.

I’m of the camp that people’s grievances should be heard. If you’re hurting, you should be met with a hug instead of an inquisition into your pain or reasons why it doesn’t really hurt that bad.

So when I heard people were upset about this Polygon documentary, I had my huggin’ arms at the ready. I started by watching the documentary trailer.

I blinked.

I watched it again, really trying hard to see what was so horrible about it. I turned the volume up. I looked for offensive pictures in the backgrounds. I scoured for signs we might be being Punk’d. I found nothing. Not a twang. So I started reading articles people were writing about their grievances, to get a better idea (read: any idea) of what they were upset about.

“Pompous, self-aggrandizing, and utterly without perspective”
A vanity exercise.
Pure ego.
“Pretension overload”.

Wait, I thought. Where are the hard-done-by people? Who are Vox Media hurting here?

Then the anger started to rise.

Some of the very same people who tell me to cool my jets when I talk about legitimate fucking issues are FUMING that a company wants to memorialise the genesis of their site?

Are you FUCKING kidding me?!

Like I mentioned before, I’m not in the business of deciding what people are “allowed” to be upset about. If you’re genuinely upset by the presence of a documentary based on its trailer then A) Go for it, and B) Maybe don’t watch the film when it comes out.

I’m just really, really disappointed in you. And not in a way that attempts to shame you, or elevate me as some purveyor of moral righteousness. I just need you to understand that watching you expend energy bitching about something that doesn’t actually hurt anyone is a slap in the face. Seeing people shrug at misogyny but rail against game journalists journaling their experiences is like a burn that keeps throbbing and aching after the initial injury.

Where were you when we needed you? Where was your anger when it could do something constructive? We needed this anger when Anita Sarkeesian was being attacked, both in character and in effigy. We needed this anger when Jennifer Hepler was being harrassed. Or Jade Raymond. Or Miranda Pakozdi. We needed this anger when dickwolves. We needed this anger when three of our country’s best female games writers all said that shit was really uncomfortable for them sometimes.

We needed you to direct this anger to when someone is being a dick towards someone else. For when someone is being excluded. Made to feel less-than, not welcome, or worse, hated, just because they wanted to fucking play.

What you’re saying to me is that displaying any kind of ego or vanity are far more serious offenses than discrimination and exclusion. That taking yourself seriously is bad. That it’s “silly” not to be silly. That wanting better is not acceptable. That games journalists are insulting you personally when they say they want to try something new, sans the dumbassery and immaturity we see a lot of in this culture. What you’re saying is that in a time where journalism is changing, where the once-giant Fairfax has posted a $2.7 billion dollar loss, when advertising models are in complete flux, and online bloggers working for free are putting a strain on paid journalists, that trying something new is to be discouraged at all costs. You want a fucking hug for that?

Seriously?

Take your hug, shove it nice and deep into your privilege (might want to use gloves), and go back to discouraging creatives from trying new things, acting like wanting better is a bad thing, and flailing wildly about how games “can’t cure cancer” so they can’t do anything positive at all. Because that’s worked great for us in the past.

I’ll be over where the cool shit is happening and the new things are being tried. Because we haven’t perfected it yet.

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