A long-delayed batch of randomosity (the first in more than a month) begins with the discovery of the newest local “mainstream microbrew.” Underachiever Lager appears to have begun as a promo vehicle for Tacoma designer-casual-wear company Imperial Motion, but is now being rolled out as its own thang in select local bars.
pelican bay foundation via capitolhillseattle.com
First, another “sorry folks” for not getting something up to the site lately. I know some of you enjoy these li’l linx, even when I don’t have a major essay about something.
For now, back to Randomosity:
art_es_anna at flickr via kplu
imagined audio-book listeners on a train, 1894
Back in the early days of telephones and phonograph records (1894 to be precise), essayist Octave Uzanne claimed “The End of Books” would soon be at hand. Uzanne predicted people would much rather listen to storytellers (with what are now called audio books) than read:
Our eyes are made to see and reflect the beauties of nature, and not to wear themselves out in the reading of texts; they have been too long abused, and I like to fancy that some one will soon discover the need there is that they should be relieved by laying a greater burden upon our ears. This will be to establish an equitable compensation in our general physical economy.
Elsewhere in randomosity:
tacoma news tribune
erika j. schultz via twitter
the fullbright company
The Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) is one of the video-game industry’s biggest conventions. Appealing to both fans and industry people, it often sells out its annual occurrence at the Washington State Convention Center.
One game company, with a major new product to promote, won’t be there.
The Portland-based Fullbright Company has a “story exploration” title Gone Home. Set in a large, mysterious Oregon house in 1995, it includes musical tracks by ’90s Riot Grrrl-era bands Bratmobile and Heavens to Betsy.
Fullbright got an invite to show off Gone Home at PAX’s “Indie Megabooth,” a portion of the Convention Center show floor dedicated to games from small developers.
Fullbright’s small staff turned the invite down.
They cite several reasons, but basically they’re offended by stances and “jokes” made by PAX founders Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik.
It’s a long story, but here’s the short version:
PAX, as anyone who’s even thought of going to it knows, is an offshoot of Penny Arcade, a web comic by Holkins and Krahulik. The strip is full of in-jokes about games and gamers.
In August 2010, PA ran a strip called “The Sixth Slave.”
The strip was a one-off gag about user challenges in multi-player games such as World of Warcraft, in which users challenge other users to “kill 10 bad guys” or “save five prisoners” in an allotted amount of time.
In the cartoon, a character pleads with another character to save him from slavery:
…The comic features a (white, male) slave begging for rescue from another character. “Hero!” he pleads. “Please take me with you! Release me from this hell unending! Every morning, we are roused by savage blows. Every night, we are raped to sleep by the dickwolves.” The hero tells him, “I only needed to save five slaves. Alright? Quest complete.” The prisoner protests, “But…” The hero interrupts him, “Hey, pal. Don’t make this weird.”
The above description comes from a post by guest blogger “Milli A”, at the feminist/political blog Shakesville. As you might expect, she didn’t like the gag at all.
She explained that she didn’t like any reference to rape in a context of attempted humor. Even in meta-fantasy situations; even with a male victim; even when it’s mentioned as a violent crime, within a list of other violent crimes.
Holkins and Krahulik’s attempted explanation in a subsequent strip merely further annoyed critics. Many of these critics interpreted the explanation as the product of game-geeks who didn’t “get” the experiences of real-life victims of violence.
Holkins and Krahulik’s subsequent responses to the increasing controversy seemed to depict their critics as outsiders who didn’t “get” gamer culture and the strip’s humor (which, admittedly, is sometimes morbid and often requires deep knowledge of gamer tropes).
Krahulik, in particular, seems to have gone “extreme” in condescending Twitter and email “jokes” about the critics. It’s as if he were consciously trying to affirm the common stereotypes of male game-geeks (and of male scifi/fantasy geeks in general) as socially-inept dweebs who can’t relate to anyone outside their own subculture, especially if that anyone is a female who’s not wearing spandex.
This is a shame for many reasons. One reason is that PA and PAX have been supportive of female gamers and game creators in the past.
Can they realize, and once-n’-for-all state, that there’s nothing daringly “politically incorrect” about their past statements?