A Minor Reflection
Inspired by: Free Muslim Women… To Wear Whatever Caroline Overington Says They Should by Rawand Al-Hinti, on New Matilda; further comment from As Australian Muslim women we don't have to be told what we can wear by Lydia Shelly, at the Grauniad.
It's intriguing the way women who wear modest clothing and follow the rules of their religion are automatically marked down as "oppressed". It's equally intriguing none of the concern for such women extends to the women who are members of fundamentalist Christian sects, or even to women in ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities - two groups where the oppressive and overtly misogynist and controlling nature of such dress codes are pretty clearly reinforced by scriptural interpretations which point to the intended nature of such things. (If you've never heard a Fundamentalist Christian preacher holding forth on some of the more openly anti-women parts of the letters of Paul... well, firstly I'm sure there's an example of same somewhere on YouTube; and secondly, you've missed one of the clearer statements of anti-woman hatred in popular religious discourse). For the Fundamentalist Christians and the ultra-Orthodox Jews, it's clear the subjection and limitation of women and women's agency through these dress codes is a feature, rather than a bug.
By contrast, as far as I can tell, mainstream Islam is fairly egalitarian in practice, even though it comes (in the same way that Christianity and Judaism do) from a set of guidelines formulated aimed at tribal groups in the Middle East. Certainly there's been a lot of work done by Islamic people (and with Islamic people) in creating sporting gear, swimming gear, fashion-wear, personal protective equipment, uniforms and so on which both comply with the requirements of modesty codes (which makes such clothing suitable not only for Islamic women, but also for women in Fundamentalist Christian groups, and for ultra-Orthodox Jewish women; as well as for secular women who feel self-conscious, in this age of constant scrutiny over personal defects, about putting their bodies on public display), and which allow freedom of movement and action, as well as participation in the wider mainstream of society. The "modest fashion" movement is, in effect, about breaking down the current divide between clothing which allows one's body to remain a private thing (as opposed to clothing which requires one make one's body into a public spectacle), and fashionable clothing. To my mind, this can only be a good thing.
I should note, as a fat woman, and a woman on the autism spectrum, I'm in favour of all women (regardless of their religious identity or lack thereof) wearing whatever it is they feel most comfortable in. If this means wearing clothes which you feel are functional and practical - you do you. If it means wearing clothes which make you feel feminine and attractive (however you define this), then, again, you do you. If it means wearing clothing which covers your arms and legs, and wearing a covering of some kind over your head (whether that be a baseball cap, a fancy hat, a kerchief held in place with hair clips, or a full scarf) then you do you. To my mind, "liberation" comes from being able to do what you want to do and need to do, without having to worry about whether or not your clothing is going to cause a hazard or a scandal while you're doing it.
 This is not necessarily the Wahaabi Islam preached, practised, imposed as a state religion in Saudi Arabia by the Saudi royal family, and actively evangelised elsewhere by Saudi oil money (a code followed by, at most, 5% of the people of a small region world-wide is not really representative of the whole of Islam, any more than the Jehovah's Witnesses are representative of the whole of Christianity).
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On Geekdom, Fandom, Being a Fan, Being a Geek, and Disagreeing with People
I'm busy re-reading some back issues of Tiger Beatdown at the moment (great blog, love it to bits), and I'm currently going through the stuff from about late August last year - back not long after Sady posted her critique of either "Song of Ice and Fire" or "Game of Thrones" (whichever one is by George R R Martin, anyway) and started getting inundated by the nerdrage. And one of the things I'm realising is that while I
may be am a geek (I geek statistics, for fuck's sake; there's not much more out there which is geekier), I don't really identify myself as a member of a particular geek community.
There's a reason for this. The majority of the most vocal geeky "communities" out there tend to be represented in public by people who are possibly their least likeable members. The ones who are blatantly and openly sexist, for example. The ones who are ardent Mansplainers. The ones who take out their rage at the Mean Girls and Jock Guys from high school on the internet at large. The ones who perpetrate the worst acts, and then try to excuse it on grounds of being geeky, being fans, being nerds, having been bullied at high school, or basically anything other than "I'm finally on ground where I feel unassailable, so I'm going to make everyone else's life hell".
Basically, a lot of the problems I have with identifying as a geek, or identifying as a member of any particular geeky or nerdy community (including fandom, in a lot of ways) is that I get a strong feeling that I'm immediately supposed to become entirely passionate about the subject in question. For example, I consider myself a fan of Dr Who - I've been in love with Doctors One through Seven for years now (since I first started seeing episodes of Dr Who at around age five or six - so about 1976 - 1977), and even found a few good things to say about the telemovie which introduced the Eighth Doctor. But recent Dr Who fandom, I find, is entirely too damn polarised. One has to be 110% passionate about the subject, one has to be completely and utterly engaged with it, one cannot criticise things AT ALL (when at least part of what I loved about the Old School fandom was their willingness to engage with the wobbly sets, point out the plot holes, make fun of the scenery chewing, and the regular double-entendre of "we must act now!"). Instead, in order to prove one's membership of fandom, one has to be completely passionately devoted and delirious about the subject to the point where I'm certain the actors and writers must find at least some of this just a little scary. That's not the fandom I want to be identified with.
I'm a fan. But that doesn't mean I'm blind to the faults of what I'm seeing. For example, I have a lot of problems with a lot of what Stephen Moffat (the current show runner for DW) writes, and have done since I was first watching "Coupling" on DVD. Yes, he's capable of writing good dialogue; yes, he has a nice touch for comedy; yes, he can handle drama very nicely too. But he also has a rather nasty streak of often unremarked-upon sexism in his writing.
I have problems with the current formula timewise, because it tends to lend itself more to the one-shot sequences - one of the things I liked about the old format was the way that a plotline was strung out over multiple weeks. I dislike the high-tech effects, too, because quite frankly one of the things I loved about BBC science fiction back in the late 1970s and early 1980s was the way that the BBC's effects team worked to suggest so much with so little. Watch "The Ark In Space" - there's a moment in there where an actor manages to pull off a very convincing performance as someone who is undergoing an horrific transformation into a totally alien creature, and all he uses to do it is a green-tinted bubblewrap glove. These days it's all CGI or high budget effects, and we lose that wonderful combination of good scriptwriting and good acting skill which put the BBC stuff several cuts above what came out of the US studios in my book.
I don't like the constant "reunion" episodes at the end of each series - that was one of the things the old format had very right, I thought - the ability to convey that the Doctor went out of the lives of these people, and their lives went on without him. What isn't pointed out quite as obviously is that as far as the Doctor's life goes, he had to go on without them - and he'd lived over nine hundred years by the time Tom Baker's tenure was done (I'm not too sure how old the character is by the time Christopher Eccleston stepped into the role, but I'm sure by now he's hit his millennium). The Doctor has had to learn to be very good at leaving people behind, and learning to live with that. Bringing everyone back at the end of each season for a grand final reunion is just rubbing it in, to my mind.
Now, yes, I do have these problems with New Who. But that doesn't mean Old Who was completely faultless either. As I said before, there were the wobbly sets, the zip-up-the-back rubber-suit aliens, the chewing of the scenery, the stories with the Obvious Filler chase scenes, the Monster-of-the-Week format, the recurring monsters who weren't used to their full capacity. For example, the Daleks were sometimes used as rent-a-thugs - yes, in some of Terry Nation's scripts, back before he wrote "Genesis of the Daleks". Then again, Terry Nation actually meant for the Daleks to die off at the end of the first storyline they were introduced in, but they became fan favourites, so he was stuck writing them for about twenty years. There's actually a lovely story in the commentary or interviews on the DVD set of "Genesis of the Daleks" where the script editor points out that "Genesis" was the second storyline they'd requested from Terry for the Daleks - the first one was a rather predictable chase sequence, and it was knocked back as a result. So then he sat down and did a full retcon on the origins of the Daleks, and a new legend was born. But that was the other great thing about Old Who - while there were some absolute shockers, there were sometimes these unregarded gems in the middle of things. For example, the 5th Doctor story "Kinda", which actually turns out to be a very interesting piece of genuine science fiction storytelling (provided you're willing to ignore the giant snake effect at the end).
I count myself as a fan of the Final Fantasy series of games, too. But I'm aware they're not perfect. They're written from a Japanese perspective, which means that yes, there's a lot of embedded sexism in the way that gender roles are visualised, and yes, there are a lot of in-game tropes that I sometimes don't have the cultural background to understand. In the earlier ones, the graphics are clunky, and in the later ones the hero-figures are, quite frankly, irritating (Tidus and Vaan both inspire me with a strong desire to thump them over the head). The fixation on providing add-ins to the Final Fantasy VII continuity annoys the crap out of me (particularly the whole business of Crisis Core - Genesis wins my personal prize for "video game character I'd most like to slap"), as does the tendency to create sequelae to just about everything (whether or not there's actually a story hook to hang things onto). The outfits for the female characters in the later games tend to be somewhat stripperific (exhibit one: Fran the rabbit-woman and her "playboy bunny" armoured lingerie), and Tetsuya Nomura definitely majored in "impractical armour", since I think the last properly-armoured major character in the FF series was Cecil, in FFIV! Don't believe me? Check Dissidia. Bartz from FFV is wearing a tunic. Terra from FF6 wears a mini-dress and leggings. Cloud (FF7) is in cargo pants and a knitted top, with one paudron. Squall (FF8) wears leather pants, a t-shirt and a leather jacket (at least he wouldn't get too seriously flayed in a motorcycle crash). Zidane (FF9) is wearing boots, a poofy shirt, and trousers (all apparently fabric). Tidus (FFX) is at least wearing that glove-cum-arm-protector thing. But really... there's at least two (if not three) of these people who live in cultures where a battlefield generally means there are bullets flying around. Is it too much to expect they're going to have at least a little bit of protection from high-velocity lead poisoning?
(And yes, this is my geeky side coming out again - I'm a practicality geek, I'm a plothole geek, and I qualify for life membership of the Overthinkers Club. I am the type of person who will spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to make the worlds of Blake's 7 and Firefly co-exist, who will write a long and involved post about the political and economic situation of Minas Tirith post-Ringwar, and who will spend much time and effort trying to figure out what the fsck is going on with the world of Final Fantasy VII to create the Shinra Electric Power Company).
I find things interesting because they make me think. Even if what they're making me think is along the lines of "how the fsck does that work again?" I'm not set up correctly for unthinking adoration and devotion of my source material. I'm more set up for mild-to-moderate irritation at various qualities of it, and a willingness to make snarky comments about it. I get pissed off when the only fan-space I'm allowed to inhabit is one which requires total and utter worship of the creators and everything they do - I think that fan-space not only insults me as a fan, it also insults the creators of the original work, because it sets them up as beings incapable of handling critique, incapable of handling dissent, incapable of handling any different viewpoint to their own. I write myself, and what I find I appreciate most as a writer is not the person who writes a simple "loved it, plz rite moar!", but rather the person who asks questions, the person who offers bits they liked and why they liked them, the person who engages in dialogue about what I've written (I so rarely hear from these people - I've started being a bit more open with being one myself in the hope of encouraging more of them!), and the person who isn't ashamed or afraid to tell me "this sucks, and this is why!". I'd like to believe that the creators of some of my favourite fan properties have a similar attitude toward criticism.
My point is, being a geek, or a nerd, or a fan, should not mean that we switch our minds off and become uncritical worshippers. In fact, I believe very strongly that as a fan (of a series, a genre, or a writer), I'm in a better position to offer criticism, because it's coming from a position of overall love.
I'll be honest, though - I'm more than just a fan, more than just a geek. So I'm always going to be a little on the outer with these communities, always feeling I don't quite fit in, because I just cannot maintain the posture of unquestioning adoration which appears to be required. I can do enthusiasm. I can do critique. But I think I'm a bit too old and cynical for adoration these days.
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Triggered by Strossblog - Reflections on The Grand Goal Of Getting Things Done
First up, have a read of this entry and the comments thereupon.
Next up, we pause for a note on context and perspective - that of a chronic perfectionist with an anxiety disorder to show for it, plus chronic depression which feeds into the anxiety and vice versa.
Those two things considered, might I offer an alternative path toward the great goal of Getting Things Done.
( TL,DR - Years of strategy below the fold )
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Further Philosophising on the Idea of Monetarizing (dreadful word) Fandom
There's been a fair bit said lately about how making money from fandom isn't the aim of people who are in fandom. I'm going to burble for a bit about what I think might be the reasons why.
Effectively, it boils down to there being three main types of people. There are makers - people who make things, whether this be through material creation such as cooking, sculpture, tailoring, rebuilding an old car body into a working car, etc, or through intellectual creation such as computer programs, writing novels, and yes, fanfiction. Makers make things because that's how they get their psychological satisfaction - they can point to things and say "I did that". Makers make things because the making itself is psychologically rewarding - a maker would be making things if they were living in luxurious splendour in an isolated compound in the middle of nowhere with no connection to the outside world.
The next group of people are the breakers. Breakers destroy things. They take them to pieces with no intention of putting them back together. And yes, they get psychological satisfaction from this. An extreme breaker is a force of entropy, and they're the type of person who'd be destroying the raft which is protecting them from the sharks. They're not necessarily bad people - I regard them as being a necessary part of the universe, since if you allow makers to make things unrestrained, the universe rather rapidly becomes cluttered.
Finally, there are the takers. These are the people who take things and use them. They don't destroy it - they may take it apart and put it back together in a slightly different order, or repaint it - but they don't make anything new, either. They just use what's available, without making any major alterations to it. They can do making and breaking activities, but they'll do them out of necessity, rather than out of any particular passion - it's the difference between cooking yourself a meal because you need to eat, and cooking a meal for friends and family because you want to share your enjoyment of the food.
Everyone has bits and pieces of each of the three types in them. We all have a bit of maker, a bit of breaker, and a bit of taker within us, and our various maker, taker and breaker facets reveal themselves differently concerning different fields. But generally one facet tends to predominate. If a person is a majority maker type, they'll get their psychological fulfilment from maker activities - the creation of something new, something different. If a person is a majority breaker type, they'll get their psychological satisfaction from breaker activities - the destruction of existing structures and items. The problem arises when a person is a majority taker, because taker activities don't really come with an inbuilt measure of psychological satisfaction. A maker can point to all the stuff they've made, a breaker can point to all the stuff they've destroyed. So majority takers tend to use money as a scorecard (note, they're using money - they've not created the idea, they're not destroying the structure, they're just using it within the framework available) to measure what they've done.
This tendency to be using money as a way of keeping score leads to majority takers being mainly interested in ways of boosting their score (or their supply of money). To them, this seems to be the only legitimate activity, or the only legitimate reason for involving themselves in making or breaking activities - if I'm not getting paid for it, they think, why bother?
So a majority taker will tend to be bemused by a majority maker's tendency to create new stuff and not sell it. Or to create new stuff and just show it off to their friends. Or just to create new stuff, without any notion of whether or not it can be sold. Or creating new stuff that they know they can't sell, that it isn't legal to sell, where selling it can never be a priority. They sincerely do not comprehend that makers do things for the love of making. To be fair to them, the majority taker will also be completely overwhelmed by the majority breaker's tendency to saw off the branch they're sitting on, or to destroy things simply because they exist - again, there's the whole "if you're not being paid, why bother?" thinking to deal with.
Bringing this back to specifics, and in particular the specific case of Mr Mander and the LOTRFF archive, I get the strong impression that Mr Mander is primarily a taker, rather than a maker or a breaker. His resume doesn't actually list any making hobbies (he's not a cook, a musician, a programmer, an artist, a sculptor, a writer) - instead, he lists things like advertising, poker and magic (which are about manipulating your audience) and lucid dreaming (which is about manipulating yourself). He's stepped into a primarily maker culture (that of transformative fanwork) that he really wasn't aware of previously, and its his particular misfortune that he's stepped into a very active, very noisy, very old-established part of this primarily maker culture. His previous two ventures have been into less active, or less established parts of the fandom world, and he really wasn't prepared for what he was confronted with.
So, for Mr Mander, and any other primary takers out there: trust me, maker cultures are gift cultures. We get our satisfaction from the process of creation - we make things because that's what satisfies us (and heck, we don't even have to finish making the things to get the satisfaction, she says, looking at the large pile of unfinished fic on her hard drive). We don't want to sell it; however, we'll readily share. We aren't interested in the money because by and large, we don't really need it to feel happy about the process of creation. This doesn't make us stupid, it just means we have different priorities to your good selves. What we primarily want from our places where we display and store the products of our making is that they exist, and that they remain in existence, even if nobody profits from them; even if nobody likes what we've done.
It's worth noting: copyright law is a taker's way of understanding makers - it puts a monetary value on the results of creation, so that a taker can understand what's so important about intellectual property. But fan fiction and other such transformative works are still part of the same maker mindset as literary, musical, or artistic creation, so often there's an understanding between the two groups of makers - so long as the fans don't attempt to profit from their works (generally they don't want to anyhow), or deliberately bring those works to the attention of the IP creator (because then they have to take action) they're allowed to carry on making them, and the original creator will feel somewhat flattered by all the stuff their stuff has inspired.
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The scandal over the phone message data theft in the UK is terrible, and one of the questions which is being asked is "who is responsible?". Who is responsible for this terrible thing happening? Who should take the blame? Who should we punish?
Well, from one angle, the Murdoch family and their News Corporation bear at least some of the responsibility, for creating a news climate where such things can happen, where they can be tried, and where they can be covered up with such success that the true depth of the scandal is only starting to become visible five or six years later. This means everyone in the chain, all the way up from the first journalist to pay the PI for information, right the way through the corporate hierarchy to Rupert Murdoch himself. They profited from the misery of others, and they haven't paid the price. Some of the responsibility is theirs.
From another angle, some of the responsibility lies with the advertisers, who are always seeking the ideal vessel to purvey their product - they want something which will attract a lot of people to see or hear their ads, but they don't want their precious product associated with anything bad. So the advertisers play their part in this, through demanding both the high circulation that the News of the World achieved, and through also demanding the cover-up of sources, and the hiding of illegal behaviour. They were willing to accept the high circulation figures, without asking what was done in the name of achieving this circulation. So some of the responsibility is theirs, also.
From a further angle, there's the responsibility of the telephone companies to provide education and data security for their users. In a large part, the crime of hacking into the message databases was caused by the lack of knowledge on the part of people who owned phones - they didn't know the pass-code existed, didn't know they could use it, didn't know they could alter it. So the pass-codes were left at their default. A simple procedural change, such as ensuring that the account was locked to external access should the user not attempt this within a month of opening their account, would have secured the vast mass of this data. That there was a back-door left not only unlocked, but practically gaping wide open, is not decent data security. So the phone companies bear some responsibility, too.
The journalists who paid for the stolen data bear responsibility, because they knew this data wasn't coming from kosher sources. They knew they weren't respecting the privacy of the people involved. They knew they were effectively breaking the spirit of the law, if not the actual letter of the law, by using this data in order to create their stories. They knew they were encouraging further breaches of the law by paying for the data.
The private eye who figured out how to hack into the phone message banks, and then sold on the data to the News of the World, also bears responsibility, as the one who committed the crime. According to reports, he was paid 100,000 UKP for his services.
There's the politicians who permitted the Murdoch family to purchase so much of the world's news infrastructure (the world's largest news gathering organisation is a privately owned family company). There's the police, who didn't understand the magnitude of the crime when it was presented to them (not to mention the police who were bribed into silence). There's the various managements and journalists of other news organisations, who let their concerns about their own profitability over-ride their interest in the privacy and rights of the people they purport to represent. All of these people are responsible, and all of them will probably be mentioned in articles regarding the whole scandal.
But there's one responsible group the news media won't mention. One group who will be allowed to skate by scot free. One group who won't ever be expected to look their responsibility in the face and name it for what it is. And that's us.
If you've ever bought a newspaper, if you've ever clicked on a link to a news site, if you've ever listened to news radio, or watched the news on television, you bear some responsibility for this as well.
As viewers, listeners, readers, we create the demand for news articles. As viewers, listeners and readers, we've fed the Murdoch machine, given it the money it needed to create a monolithic view of the way news "should" be, a monolithic view of "what sells newspapers, what sells advertising space". We have allowed our news to become tawdry, cheap, nasty, vicious, invasive, insensitive. We have allowed this, because we haven't spoken up and said no. We have allowed this because we've purchased the products the advertisers sell. We have allowed this because we've bought the papers, listened to the radio stations, clicked the links, watched the programs, bought the magazines. We have allowed this, we have facilitated this, by demanding more and more and more and more from the news media; by not criticising it enough; by continuing to feed the maw.
If you feel sickened by the actions of the News of the World; if you feel angry about the actions of the Murdoch family; if you feel self-righteous about the way the advertisers are fleeing the sinking ship, remember: we asked for it.
We asked for it. Now we have it.
Maybe we should start asking for something different.
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Thoughts on The News.Corp Phone Hacking Scandal
Latest news in this ongoing disaster is that the newspaper imprint at the centre of the scandal, the News of the World, is being shut down.
Certainly, the paper has been haemorrhaging advertisers since the scandal started breaking, and as the breadth and depth of the depravity involved has been further exposed, the advertisers are running further and faster to put distance between themselves and the newspaper that published the majority of the stolen voicemail data. But I have to wonder: what about the rest of the News International/News Corporation stable?
It's worth noting that the executive who was the editor of The News Of The World at the time when most of the data theft occurred is still employed. She's now the Chief Executive of News International, and while she's offered to resign, that offer has been resisted - apparently she "knew nothing of the crimes allegedly committed when she was editor" (sourced from News of the World shuts amid hacking scandal). Which, to me, doesn't really sound like an outstanding endorsement of her managerial ability, to be honest. Either she didn't know about such things (in which case, what the hell was she doing in order to earn her salary?) or she did know and pretended she didn't (which leads me to wonder whether she'd do the same sort of thing when faced with evidence of an embezzlement), or she did know, and took steps to cover it up (which means she's criminally culpable too). She's still employed by News International.
That Ms Brooks is still considered a valuable employee by News International leads me to question the management and ethical practices of the entire damn corporation. The problem which was "resolved" by data theft didn't start in the newsroom of The News of The World. It started further up the corporate ladder, with the constant push on all the News Corporation properties to obtain ever-increasing profits, ever-growing circulation, ever-climbing advertising revenues.
Another thing which interests me is the way that the various News Corporation properties tend to pass a story around. For example, here in Australia, the Australian newspaper will report on a story which "broke" in the magazine New Idea (both of these are News Corporation properties), or they'll pass on a story which started off on Fox News in the USA, or in the Sun over in the UK. So there's the potential for the scandal to go far further than just this one newspaper. If we examine stories propagated across the News Corporation stable of properties throughout the period in which one News Corporation property was buying information obtained through data theft, how many other stories are tainted with this same brush? How far did the rot spread? How far up did the rot go? Did it go all the way to the top?
(It's worth noting that the Australian head of News Limited has officially denied that such a thing could happen over here:
Today, News Limited chief executive officer John Hartigan told the company's Australian journalists "the behaviour that has been uncovered at the News of the World is an affront to all of us who value the integrity and credibility of good journalism, the reputation of the company and our own reputations as professionals."
"Phone hacking is the antithesis of everything we stand for. It is a terrible slur on our craft," he said in a statement to staff posted online.
"I am confident that the practices that have been uncovered in the UK do not exist in Australia, at News or any other respectable media outlet." - sourced from Murdoch accused of tabloid closure 'stunt'
If, like me, you're a fan of Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister, you know never to believe anything until it's been officially denied.)
[I feel I should mention at this point that I have absolutely no monetary interest in seeing the Murdoch family go down. However, I do feel a certain moral and personal interest in the challenging of their ideology that what people are interested in is solely the cheap, the tawdry, the nasty and the unfriendly. The Murdoch family's News Corporation is a big part of the global kyriarchal bully culture, one which glorifies the petty, nasty side of the human psyche to the point where they present this as the only damn option there is. I don't want to read, watch or hear nasty comments about other people, so I don't purchase their products. Now, if only there were a viable alternative.]
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Female, Middle-Aged Gamer Speaks
Just read through that one, and yeah, I agree with the author: the range of games available is decreasing by the year. I've been playing various computerised games for years now (since I was about fifteen or so) and quite honestly, the console gaming range these days is pathetic compared to even the variety available five years ago. Ditto the range available for PC gamers.
This is becoming a common problem across multiple media, where the amount of money required to provide content means the investors are less and less willing to take risks with what they have, so they're only willing to provide a new version of something that's already been proven to have worked. Their justification for this is "everyone liked it". There isn't any money being spent on the smaller, niche markets - instead, colossal amounts are being poured into efforts to capture the eyeballs of the One True Demographic (which appears to be 15 - 25 year old, white, middle-class, suburban, heterosexual, Christian-raised, American males).
The rest of us, unfortunately, get to spend our lives looking through shelf after shelf of what "everyone likes", searching vainly for something even vaguely different to the endless loop of FPS; FPS; oh look another FPS; and gee, did you realise there was an FPS here? We're never asked whether we might want something different. (See multiple previous rants re: choice of salt-and-vinegar crisps or vinegar-and-salt crisps when what I'm actually looking for is barbecue flavour.)
( Why I'm not interested in online or 3D gaming )
If there's a game company exec out there browsing around haphazardly, looking for inspiration, here's what I want out of a game (and even though I may be a rare bird as a 40 year old heterosexual, female, Australian gamer, I'm not the only one):
* I want a good story - something that catches me and keeps me interested. Give me plot twists, give me character interaction, give me a reason to keep playing the godsdamned game past the first five minutes and the second cutscene. If you're not sure how to do this, get hold of the writers for the Final Fantasy series and ask them, because they certainly have it down to a fine art. Bioware also appear to have writers who can tell the difference between a plot and a hole in the ground.
* I want gameplay which is consistent. There are four buttons on the average console, and I'd prefer to be just using those. I should not have to remember the equivalent of the emacs macro set (look it up) in order to be able to defeat the second mini-boss.
* I want gameplay which accepts that not everyone is a hyperactive teenager hopped up to the eyeballs on caffeine and energy drinks with the reflexes of a greased ferret on crystal meth. My visual processing and verbal processing are slower than average to start with - they're only going to slow down more as I get older (and I'm part of Generation X, the first gamer generation). So have stuff which doesn't rely on pinpoint pixel perfect accuracy, or exact timing, because otherwise I'll get fed up and switch the game out.
* Oh, on that "growing older" thing, and the slower-than-average verbal processing speed - give me subtitles, and give me a way to turn off the fucking background music (for verily, background music on constant repeat is the number two reason why I'll give up on a game; no subtitles is number one these days, because I don't like trying to guess my way through games).
* Make the game in third person perspective (Third person omniscient if at all possible). I'm one of those weird people who finds First Person perspective (whether shooting or not) makes me nauseous. I get motion sick, because my eyes are telling me I'm moving, but my body is busy saying I'm sitting right there on the couch. I had enough of motion sickness as a kid for a very similar reason (scenery says I'm moving, body says I'm strapped into a seat in the car) to find the combination distasteful. Given the opportunity to avoid it, I will.
* Give me the option not to have to hear about online/multiplayer content if I don't want it. This is something I'm finding slightly annoying in games like Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep and Little Big Planet - there's such an emphasis on the online stuff that I feel somewhat left out because my PSP doesn't connect to our household wireless network (not a deliberate choice on my part; rather an inadvertent choice on the part of my partner, who opted for a secure network rather than one the PSP could participate in). So I don't play those games much.
* Have a pause function in the game. I'm female, and most of the time I'm the only person home. This means I have to be able to put the game on hold while I do things like answer the door, go to the loo, answer the phone or stir dinner. If there isn't an easy way to put the game on hold (even if it's just ducking into character menu mode), I'm going to get annoyed fairly quickly.
* Don't worry so much about making the next version of whatever everyone else is busy selling. If we want any of the famous franchises, we know where to find them. To be honest, the only franchise I'm really all that sold on is the Final Fantasy one - because they very rarely make sequels. Instead, each new FF number is a completely different plot, a different set of characters, a different world to every other Final Fantasy game. Most of them are mediaeval-style worlds, but there's a few futuristic dystopias thrown in there (FFVII, FFVIII, FFXIII) and the characters from one Final Fantasy plotline generally don't interact with characters from another (Dissidia is a special case of pure fan service, ditto the Kingdom Hearts games).
* Oh, here's a thought: have the guts to try risking a tragedy on the market. Not everything has to end all happy and smiley. Take a hint from Square Soft (now Square Enix) - their big breakthrough game for the English-speaking market was a tragedy: Final Fantasy VII. (No, really, the plot of FFVII is a revenge tragedy of a type which wouldn't have been out of place on the Jacobean stage).
( What's On Meg's Consoles, and Why )
Basically, my preferences can be summed up thus:
* If you're going to give me a story, give me a flamin' story. Make it long, make it convoluted, make it tricky to understand - if I'm playing the game to get through the story, I'll come back and play it again to catch the bits I missed the first time (I re-read books for the same reason...). Of course, make sure that the vital plot points are made clear, but the little subtleties can be skipped over.
* If you're not going to give me a story, then give me something I can make a story out of myself - even if the story is just "How I beat the crap out of this next opponent". But don't give me a story which is so scanty it puts some of the costumes on the female characters to shame.
* If you're going to offer eye candy, have some which is suitable for a het female (or maybe even a gay male) to ogle as well. Yes, most of the gamerbois out there won't like it. Did I mention I'm not a gamerboi? It might just be worth doing a little market research and finding out precisely which proportion of the electronic gaming market these days is composed of members of the One True Demographic (see above for description) - I've a feeling they're a smaller proportion than they think they are.
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