MagicAmy and the new age of Trial by Media

Published March 2, 2015 by immaterialideal

Recently, a prominent pro Hearthstone player, MagicAmy, faced unsubstantiated accusations by the Reddit community that a man was playing the game for her. After a thorough three day investigation by her team, they found nothing that supported this claim. Regardless, she has retired from the game over this incident. A more detailed summary can be found at this link.

So, why is this important news? This comment should sum up why:

It’s becoming a trend to throw acusations at people over the internet but never fully back them up, instead just bullying people into dropping whatever they’re doing.

Whether or not MagicAmy is who she says isn’t the real issue now. The issue is a lot more disturbing. It’s like the next terrible step up from the Sam Sheppard “trial by media” fiasco because now there isn’t even a jury of peers to be influenced – the judge and jury is the internet.

-Ohshiftson, commenting on a PCGamer article about the MagicAmy fiasco.

All it took to ruin MagicAmy’s reputation and drive her away from eSports is to make a claim that appealed to the prejudices of video gaming’s infamous machismo culture, no proof necessary. The online community is already inclined to believe any “Fake geek girl” accusations, and once the accusation is thrown, no amount of evidence to the contrary will sway the mind of a conspiracy theorist. It’s why Gamergate has lasted long after the accusations against Zoe Quinn were debunked, and it’s why, despite the investigation, much of the online community still believes the libel and blames MagicAmy for, well, whatever excuse that allows them to deflect responsibility. And they receive no repercussions whatsoever.

This enabling of libel and sexual harassment has gone on for way too long in the eSports and online video game community. It’s treated as mere trash-talk, and even a part of the culture according to the guy responsible for harassment at the Capcom Cross Assault tournament. News flash, if you pulled this crap outside your insulated community, you would be ostracized by the rest of the world. Many people are well aware of the invisible barrier to participation just for being female and are repelled by the toxic culture within. Is this how you recruit new followers? By forcing people to put up or shut up? And as the MagicAmy case shows, it doesn’t even matter what you say. It sends a strong message: “it doesn’t matter how good you get at a game. You are not one of us. And you will never be one of us.” And then you wonder why people don’t take eSports seriously. So if you want eSports taken seriously, for people to join, then start acting the part. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

For too long, we’ve trivialized Internet “drama”, treating it like some sort of dream world detached from reality. Well guess what? A Nightmare on Elm Street isn’t fiction anymore. What happens on the Internet has real-world consequences, worst of all, high-profile suicides such as Amanda Todd and Rehtaeh Parsons. The witch-hunt against MagicAmy is yet another black mark on the gaming community showing our acceptance and enabling of hate speech. This must end.

Fake Geek Girl Adventures Act 2-1: “That’s Every Day of my Life”

Published February 15, 2015 by immaterialideal

(previous)

(Classroom at dawn)

a.k.a. Stacy(walks to desk, avoiding eye contact)

(chatter) Hey look, it’s Fake Geek Girl.

“I love RPGs! Zelda is my favourite!”

“Playing since the Nintendo. What’s a NES?”

“You need to beat a game to be a gamer?”

“What’s a Shenmue?”

Hahahahaha!

a.k.a. Stacy(Frowns, bites lip while staring down aimlessly at her desk)

—-

(school bell rings, outside the classroom)

a.k.a. Stacy(while quickly walking away, sees Oliver running towards her) Oh, it’s you.

Milking a pun for all it's worth.You feeling all right?

a.k.a. Stacy(keeps walking)

Milking a pun for all it's worth.Look, I’m sorry about yesterday.

a.k.a. Stacy(keeps walking)

Milking a pun for all it's worth.Oh, c’mon, don’t be like that! The club leader was scary!

a.k.a. Stacy(keeps walking)

Milking a pun for all it's worth.Okay, okay. I was wrong to throw you under the bus for cheap popularity. But you don’t know what it’s like, to constantly be told you’re not good enough to fit in.

a.k.a. Stacy(stops) You think? You heard everyone call me fake, and you think I don’t know? All my life, I’ve looked for the real me, someone people could accept, someone in the mirror I could be happy with. But no matter who I tried to be, I was always shut out. Every identity I put on, a fraud. If games are as uncool as everyone tells me, I’m not even cool enough to be uncool. So tell me I don’t know my own feelings.

(pauses) You were right. Who wants to be friends with a faker, anyway?

Milking a pun for all it's worth.I do. Because, I’m a faker myself. You saw how terrible my Pokémon are. Everyone seems to know more than I do, so I always lose. I can’t even beat Gobblegut.

a.k.a. Stacy…you mean from Super Mario Galaxy 2?

Milking a pun for all it's worth.Uh-huh.

a.k.a. StacyDo you mind if I come over to your house? I’ve got all the stars except for the last one. That is, if you still want my help.

Milking a pun for all it's worth.Sure. Meet you there!

—-

(Oliver’s house, night.)

The Winner is…Zelda!

Milking a pun for all it's worth.Aw, you would have been toast if I didn’t screw up that Aether!

a.k.a. StacyProve it then. Let’s go again!

Milking a pun for all it's worth.Hey, did you hear? They’re hosting a Smash Bros tournament at the university! We should totally go! Besides, the Gamer Club will be there! If we win, it’ll show them!

a.k.a. StacyOh, I’d love to stuff their “faker” crap in their faces. But let’s get real. They’ve been playing for ages. I can’t even find anyone else to practice with. How are we going to get as good as them in a month?

Milking a pun for all it's worth.Oh, right. We need to find some gaming guru or something…

a.k.a. StacyWait! That just gave me an idea. My uncle’s been an avid gamer since the arcade days. He was around for all the classics: Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, the like, and he’d always best his buddies in Street Fighter II! He could teach us a thing or two!

Milking a pun for all it's worth.Do you think he’d really want to play with us?

a.k.a. StacyUh, I’m not sure. We haven’t talked to each other for years. But it’s worth a try.

The motive for kindness

Published February 14, 2015 by immaterialideal

It’s Valentine’s Day, so I guess I ought to think of something vaguely love-related. I was reading an interesting blog post by Eseld Bosustow about her motives for helping underprivileged students and arguing against MRAs, which got me thinking about my own, I guess, “rational self-interest”. I’ve always distrusted classical economics because of terms like that. If you conflate rational behaviour with selfishness, we wouldn’t have people helping others for the sake of it, right? And yet I can’t help but wonder if my own desire to help the underprivileged stems from my own selfishness.

There was a time in which I felt guilty of my own existence, feeling that I was only capable of making others miserable. At worst, I felt that I was an error of a human being that would do the world a favour if I disappeared. Part of it was because I was slow to learn social cues to understand when I was upsetting people, but it still didn’t help that I was a narcissistic brat back in junior high. That’s a reason I place a high value on empathy; it’s a reaction to my past self both hurting others and being hurt emotionally. My one disappointment with regards to this is learning not to be so narcissistic only to find out that society places a high value on narcissism for the select few, like businessmen who mistreat their employees such as Steve Jobs and racist, bloodthirsty warmongers such as Chris Kyle (I can’t believe American Sniper is a thing considering that the Iraq War was a crime against humanity based on false premises). Still, I don’t want to be like that anymore because it would upset me too much to see others suffering.

Later in my life, when I started having friends, I was surprised when people said how kind I was. So I started thinking, maybe I can make a positive impact. Maybe I wasn’t created for the wrong reason. If I have any selfish motivation for trying to help and understand others, it’s so I can tell myself I don’t exist for the wrong reason, that I can make others happy instead of miserable.

There’s also the fact that we’re all going to die someday, and when we do, all the money and possessions in the world will mean nothing. After passing, the only things that survive in this world are memories and legacy, to be held by the people whose lives we’ve touched. So it logically follows that pure selfishness is a losing investment. Sure, you can build up an illusionary legacy like the aforementioned men, but your victims won’t forget your trail of blood and pain. Even if you don’t believe in an afterlife, is it not worth it to leave a positive footprint?

For me, my life has no inherent worth, because I am aware I will die someday and accept it when it comes. My life’s meaning is to give others the chance to find their own meaning. So, whether it’s selfish or altruistic, I guess that’s my motive for fighting against racism, sexism, climate change, and the modern capitalistic structure that enforces these ills by valuing money over people. I will always want to end the suffering of others and give everyone the chance to find and fulfill their purpose in life, not as a narcissistic martyr, but a piece of the solution. And I hope one day, I can eventually die without regret, knowing that I have made a positive impact on the world.

I guess talking about death is a bit morbid for Valentine’s, but this year, I decided to celebrate Friday the 13th instead. And I wrote all this because I felt similarly to Eseld. It’s nice to have a fellow traveler in life, especially with regards to relatively unorthodox perspectives.

Fake Geek Girl Adventures Act 1-2: “The Wrong Sort”

Published February 1, 2015 by immaterialideal

(previous)

(outside)

a.k.a. StacyThe nerve of that guy. “Oh, I’m so high and mighty because I have a game you don’t.” He didn’t interrogate anyone else like it’s some freaking job interview!

Milking a pun for all it's worth.Excuse me, miss. Were you just in the Gamer Club?

a.k.a. StacyUh, sort of? I just got kicked out for being a “Fake Geek Girl”.

Milking a pun for all it's worth.Oh. Sorry about that. Do you think I have a chance? I’ve trained up my Arcanine just for this event.

a.k.a. StacyWell, let me check…no, no, your moveset is all wrong. You’re supposed to use more than just Fire moves.

Milking a pun for all it's worth.Well, fine, Miss Know-It-All. If you’re so smart, what moves does yours know?

a.k.a. StacyHere’s mine. See the different attack types? It’s to take on whatever Fire can’t handle alone. There’s a lot of good reference sites for Pokémon moves, such as Serebii. (hands over phone)

Milking a pun for all it's worth.(flips through site) I can’t get those moves.

a.k.a. StacyThen you should have checked before you used your Fire Stone. You’ll have to start over.

Milking a pun for all it's worth.Oh, whatever.

—-

(club meeting room)

...and I mean...baaaaad.(Another noob, huh? They just keeping coming.) Name?

Milking a pun for all it's worth.Oliver. Sorry I’m late.

...and I mean...baaaaad.Welcome aboard, Oliver.

a.k.a. Stacy(from window) (Oh, of course he gets a free pass.)

...and I mean...baaaaad.It’s too bad you didn’t get here earlier. You should have seen the last girl who tried to sign up. Fake Geek Girl thought Zelda was an RPG and never even heard of the Dreamcast. And she never shut up. Heh, stupid girls. They’ll do anything for attention.

Milking a pun for all it's worth.(nervous chuckle) Oh, I think I’ve met her just now. I asked her for help, and she’s like, “Look it up online!” No wonder she has no friends.

a.k.a. Stacy

Milking a pun for all it's worth.(meets gaze, shocked)

a.k.a. Stacy(angrily storms off)

...and I mean...baaaaad.(looks at window, then back to Oliver, smirking) There are many fakers like her out there, trying to get in just because our hobby’s getting popular. The same sort who mocked us in elementary. Do you know what happens if they take over?

Milking a pun for all it's worth.No. I thought having more people to play with was good.

...and I mean...baaaaad.Dumbed down mechanics. Censorship. Political correctness. Games so diluted even a baby could play them. You think those are good? Maybe to a filthy casual who only plays baby games like Pokémon. Stick around, and we’ll show you real gaming.

Milking a pun for all it's worth.…I think I can play real games on my own time, thanks. Good day.

...and I mean...baaaaad.(glares as he leaves)

—-

(Night, Stacy’s room)

a.k.a. Stacy(looks into mirror, trying to feign smile) It’s okay Stacy. You’re real to me. And your family. Everyone else…

(starts sobbing uncontrollably)

What is wrong with me? All the other girls have no problem fitting in. What is their secret? “Just be yourself.” That’s what they always say. Even if I’m not pretty or charming, other geeks had to be out there! And I thought I was right at home to Hyrule and other game worlds. Surely I could find someone in real life to come on the adventure with me, right? Right?

But I was wrong. Video games are not my home. All along, no matter how much I tried to fit in, I was just a trespasser. (rips off glasses) And nobody is like me. I can’t be myself, because I’m just an annoying bitch that gets on everybody’s nerves. (gazes at mirror in tears) I’m never going to fit in as a geek! I should just stop trying! (forcefully tosses away glasses).

(looks back at mirror, vision completely blurred) But then, if I can’t be cool, or a geek, who can I be? (sighs)

(picks up broken glasses, puts them back on) Maybe…I’m just not meant to have friends….

(end of Act I)

(next)

Fake Geek Girl Adventures Act 1-1: “Our New Celebrity”

Published February 1, 2015 by immaterialideal

(School yard at daybreak)

a.k.a. Stacy Can’t be late! The first meeting’s today! Finally, a club where I can meet my fellow gamers, people who don’t think I’m crazy whenever I mention Terra, or Yuna, or Samus. Just think, late-night parties, fanart contests, it’s all so exciting! I hope I don’t make a fool out of myself. This is my one chance!

(walks into Club meeting room)

a.k.a. StacyHi everyone! I’m here for the Gamer Club sign-up!

(silence)

(whispers around the club) A girl!

We never had a girl around here before.

I never met a girl gamer before. Heck, I didn’t even know girls played games!

Do you think I could get her number?

a.k.a. Stacy(Why is everyone looking at me like that?)

...and I mean...baaaaad.So, you’re new here?

a.k.a. StacyYeah! My name is Stacy. I’ve been playing games ever since the first Nintendo system came out. I play all kinds of games, but I adore RPGs especially! My favourite games are Pokémon, Zelda, and Final Fantasy! I’ve been looking forward to joining the Gamer club because it’s so hard to find someone to play with. All the other girls think games are lame. But you guys make games seem so cool! Um, well, not that they aren’t, but you know, cool-er! I can’t wait to see the games library!

...and I mean...baaaaad.…Zelda isn’t an RPG.

a.k.a. StacyUm…I didn’t say it was. At least, I don’t think I did. I meant…I love RPGs. And Zelda. Yeah, that’s what I was really trying to say.

...and I mean...baaaaad.(smirks) Stacy is it? Well, if you’re such a big fan, then clearly you can tell me which Pokémon evolves into Seviper.

a.k.a. StacyUm…It doesn’t evolve from anything. Wait, no one told me there’d be a test.

...and I mean...baaaaad.Oh, we just want to find out where you’d fit in. Have you beaten Emerald and Ruby Weapon?

a.k.a. StacyUh, no. I never beat those guys. You need to do that to be a gamer?

...and I mean...baaaaad.Well, most of us here have. Hmm…have you played Shenmue?

a.k.a. StacyWhat’s Shenmue?

...and I mean...baaaaad.(snickers. Crowd chuckles along with him)

a.k.a. StacyWait, you’re trying to make me look stupid, aren’t you?

...and I mean...baaaaad.I don’t need to “make you”. Any real gamer would at least know one of the most famous Dreamcast games. But I can’t expect much from a girl who thinks Zelda is an RPG.

a.k.a. StacyNo one I knew ever had one. And knock it off. How would you like it if I repeated every slip of the tongue you made?

...and I mean...baaaaad.Okay, initiation’s over. Just give me a moment to make a decision…That didn’t take long at all. What a joke. You may look like a geek, but you’re just a poser. You think you’re so cute and funny with your inane babbling, do you? Sorry, we don’t accept Fake Geek Girls around here. Go suck up to boys in some other club.

(everyone stares at her with a mixture of shame and disappointment)

a.k.a. Stacy…that was harsh.

(next)

Fake Geek Girl Adventures – A tale of a nerd, and a faker

Published January 23, 2015 by immaterialideal

A group of nerds, playing their favourite games.

Among them, saboteurs. And traitors.

Gatekeeper Fake Geek Girl

Who is the faker and who is the nerd?

FAKE GEEK GIRL ADVENTURES

(Inspired by Rachel Edidin’s article on taking back the meme and Elizabeth Simins’s Manic Pixel Dream Girl. Lucas Barton from The Wizard is property of Universal Studios. Oliver Twist from the 2007 miniseries is property of BBC. I claim no profit from this work.)

2014 Year in Review: Ferguson, Jian Ghomeshi, Burnaby Mountain, and…ethics in game journalism

Published December 31, 2014 by immaterialideal

Awareness. I’m often split regarding what to think about it. On one hand, it can end up a form of slacktivism since it implies that you’re stuck in that first step rather than taking further steps to get something done. On the other hand, a lot of people haven’t even taken one step. Maybe I’m being overly optimistic, but if there was anything good to come out of Michael Brown’s death, it’s that more Americans (and people around the world, for that matter) are paying attention to the systemic police brutality against black people. I myself am ashamed that it took such a tragedy (and ensuing travesty of justice) for me to realize the full extent of this considering it’s a fact of life for so many. Sure, there are still people who try to treat it as an isolated incident in willful, but at least for now it’s a serious conversation. So for me, that is the most important issue of 2014, and I hope it’s not one to be forgotten as these topics typically are. Maybe then we can start taking more than one step towards ensuring fairness and accountability in law enforcement not only in the USA, but here in Canada as well with regards to the disproportionate criminalization and violence against First Nations.

The case against Jian Ghomeshi was also significant as it seems to signal a change in how we as a society treat sexual assault accusations. Aaron Sorkin aside, people seem to be becoming more willing to trust women rather than treat them with the same contempt as characters in a slasher film trying to warn others about the killer on the loose. Similarly, the accusations against Bill Cosby are also beginning to be taken seriously, and students are becoming more vocal about sexual assault on campus even if administrations are slow on the uptake. The narcissistic “what about the menz?” mentality is still a significant force particularly on the Internet, but I hope this all means we are more willing to give empathy a chance.

I must admit, I haven’t posted much in the past year due to adjusting to PhD life and moving to Vancouver, but I did get to witness the protest camp against the Kinder Morgan pipeline on Burnaby Mountain in person, albeit during the twilight hours. Its origin sounds like it came straight out of The Lorax as it started with Kinder Morgan cutting down trees for survey work. I’ve always admired the environmentalist culture of British Columbia, and how it seems to have no boundaries with regards to age, race, gender, etc. despite our federal government saying otherwise. There’s a wonderful sense of camaraderie at the camp site, and when Neil Young was blasting the oil sands, I remember thinking I wanted to be that cool when I grew that old. I get the same feeling with the seniors that fearlessly took part in the protests in the past months.

And last, but certainly least, GamerGate. I avoided bringing this up previously due to the swarm of trolls waiting to mansplain, but fuck it. It’s stupid because the supposed impetus of Zoe Quinn sleeping for reviews was completely made up. It’s stupid because despite its members constantly terrorizing women online, GamerGate was never responsible for harassment (that last bit was sarcasm, which I had to point out because Gators are that stupid). Most of all, it’s stupid because the Ferguson protests happened about the same time, yet they think video games are the defining culture war. Yeah. Video games, which nearly everyone has played these days. Those are the stakes. Unfortunately, with every step forward, there are reactionaries such as these, but we can always hope for a net positive.

So, for 2015, let’s try to maintain the lessons we learned in the past years, prove that love isn’t an old-fashioned word, care for the people on the edge of the night, and change our way of caring about ourselves. I guess I’m optimistic because the alternative, cynicism, is counterproductive to those goals, but as long as people give love a chance, it’s worth being optimistic.

Also, let’s hope 2015 not only means the end of Stephen Harper, but that we also reform, or at least keep a close eye on the flawed political system that gave him so much power in the first place.

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