Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday afternoon tidbits

By the time you read this post, I will be watching District 9. I am expecting it to be awesome. While I'm doing that, why not check out these links?

-The big story this week was the New York Times' massive article about The Beatles: Rock Band. It's an extensively reported piece with quotes from all the big players, plus some insightful commentary about the value of music games (some of which echo what I wrote about earlier this year, here and here). Excellent reading. I also realized just now that it's The Beatles: Rock Band, and not Rock Band: The Beatles, in contrast to Guitar Hero: Aerosmith and Guitar Hero: Metallica. Not that there's much to take away from that, but it's interesting.

-A rather bizarre conversation developed earlier this week, between Penny Arcade's Gabe and Tycho, on the subject of pick-up artists. Amanda Marcotte wrote a perceptive response to their exchange, with which I agree almost fully. I just want to say this: I know Gabe isn't some cretinous, cave-dwelling woman hater, but perhaps because of that, his comments go far toward illuminating the unfortunate mindset that many in our community seem to have about male-female relationships (which we also talked about a bit last week). Still, this isn't a problem exclusive to the gaming community, for better or worse.

-Since we're getting all political here, take a gander at L.B. Jeffries' explication of TIE Fighter as a post-9/11 parable. It's a fascinating and educated take on the nature of empire, which also reminded me that TIE Fighter was freaking sweet.

-Bill Harris's running series about playing through the NHL playoffs with his son nearly melted the ice around my cold, cold heart. I recommend you start from the beginning, because otherwise you probably won't be quite as mushy as I was when you get to the end.

(As I said to Dan Bruno on Twitter, this whole experiment -- in which Bill actually made a playoff schedule for him and Eli to follow -- reminded me of Ben Abraham's Far Cry 2 perma-death experiment, which is still ongoing.)

-Congratulations to Simon Parkin for his Games Media Award nomination. He's one of the best, and in very good company.


Tyler said...

That Amanda Marcotte article is incredibly UN-perceptive. There's a long history of ignorant journalists and bloggers writing articles that essentially say "this is what the pickup artist thing is about" and getting it completely wrong. She is operating solely on speculation, assumptions, and hearsay. It's not far removed from shouting down the speaker at a town hall meeting with "THIS IS AMERICA!"

The cultural mainstream has a deep aversion to the idea that men learning to become better with women is something that can be learned. It violates some of our basic assumptions about the male-female dynamic (much of which has been invented by Hollywood in the first place). I think the "unfortunate mindset" you refer to is really the mindset held by the majority. It seems that for many people there is no middle ground between hopelessly waiting around to "get lucky" and MEGA RAPE SHARK. The assumption is that there is no legitimate way for men to improve their ability to meet women (and, gasp, even sleep with them!) that doesn't involve power struggles and violence.

There are plenty of great guys who are hanging around hoping to someday meet a woman who sees them for what they really are. That's all stuff like Love Systems is about... giving those guys the ability to show women that great guy.

Mitch Krpata said...

Yeah, the kinds of guys who attend these workshops are just a little shy and don't have deep-seated, irrational fears of interacting with women OH GOD

Mr Durand Pierre said...

I know you're joking, Mitch, but don't tell me you're going to blame those workshops for a massacre, the way the mainstream media tries to pin school shootings on videogames?

That being said, this is the first I've heard of this sub-culture, so I have yet to fully gestate an opinion on it. If it treats women as objects, that's bad. If it endorses lying about who you are to get laid, that's terrible as well. But if it's to help men work on how they're perceived (i.e. not treating women as objects, but rather being cognitive of how your actions may come off), that could be useful in helping men gain perspective. As Tyler said, there are some great guys who don't know how to portray their best qualities around women they're attracted to either because they're shy, nervous, etc... I'm not confident that that's the goal of these courses though.

I took issue with Marcotte's article more than anything Gabe said. Maybe I'm just sensitive, but I objected to the tone of the piece. It was such an angry rant that it made it hard for me to give her any credibility. You may disagree with Gabe, or Tycho, but aside from one use of the word "asshole," they kept things civil and polite all throughout and merely had a difference of opinion. I found their honesty refreshing and applaud them for debating such a hot topic.

Tyler said...

In Future's email to PA he wrote:
More than anything our material is about understanding what makes women attracted to men beyond the obvious answers of looks and money and power, beyond the simple snipe of "confidence". We then help our students implement that understanding through practical application, i.e. actually trying to pick up the girls you are attracted to.

I kind of wish he had said "meet and date" rather than "pick up", which is really the intended meaning...more than anything, I think the terminology of that stuff puts people off.

Regardless, I just really fail to see what's demeaning or disrespectful about that.

Tyler said...

I also suspect that most people who are determinedly against this stuff have rarely or never flirted with a stranger in a neutral venue, and therefore have zero frame of reference for how those sorts of male-female interactions work.

Gravey said...

Harris' playoffs story was nice and mushy, but that's not why I'm crying.

/Canucks fan, robbed again

Mitch Krpata said...

I am 100% blaming that shooting on the existence of pick-up artists.

Obviously not, but you do have to ask yourself what about that guy's feelings toward women led him to seek out pick-up artist workshops, conducted by a man calling himself "R. Don Steele." Obviously it is not because he was a decent guy who, gosh darn it, was just too nice, and women only date assholes!

We're getting way beyond the purview of this blog here, but I am well aware of the existence of pick-up artists who blog about their "SNLs" and who happily keep a tally of their conquests. And they don't give themselves a point for second dates, do they? Let's be real here. There's a world of difference between guys who need to boost their confidence, and guys who have a really warped sense of what it means to relate to other people.

If both of these people occasionally attend the same conferences or read the same books, well, fine. Guilt by association isn't fair, and I was intentionally being provocative before. But just as we gamers have a responsibility to police our own community when it comes to our attitudes about violence, bigotry, and the like -- something I've argued before -- those in the PUA community ought to take some responsibility for what they're encouraging, too. Let's not be disingenuous here.

Mr Durand Pierre said...

I never said that they didn't have to take responsibility for their community. Just to take any mainstream media spin with a grain of salt.

Beyond that, misogyny in games is a very big problem these days. But one could devote an entire blog to that sort of thing, and we could be here all day.