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Culture war games: moral panics and comstockery

A Book of Prefaces
By H. L. Mencken

The moral gladiators, in brief, know the game. They come before a legislature with a bill ostensibly designed to cure some great and admitted evil, they procure its enactment by scarcely veiled insinuations that all who stand against it must be apologists for the evil itself, and then they proceed to extend its aims by bold inferences, and to dragoon the courts into ratifying those inferences, and to employ it as a means of persecution, terrorism and blackmail.

The newspapers, with very few exceptions, give them ready aid. Theoretically, perhaps, many newspaper editors are opposed to comstockery, and sometimes they denounce it with great eloquence, but when a good show is offered they are always in favour of the showman—and the Comstocks are showmen of undoubted skill. They know how to make a victim jump and writhe in the ring; they have a talent for finding victims who are prominent enough to arrest attention; they shrewdly capitalize the fact that the pursuer appears more heroic than the prey, and the further fact that the newspaper reader is impatient of artistic pretensions and glad to see an artist made ridiculous. And behind them there is always the steady pressure of Puritan prejudice—the Puritan feeling that “immorality” is the blackest of crimes, and that its practitioner has no rights. It was by making use of these elements that Comstock achieved his prodigies, and it is by making use of them that his heirs and assigns keep up the sport today. Their livelihood depends upon the money they can raise among the righteous, and the amount they can raise depends upon the quality of the entertainment they offer. Hence their adept search for shining marks.


Posted in Games.

Culture war games

#GamerGate – An Issue With Two Sides
By Allum Bokhari

Critics of GamerGate argue that the revolt is nothing more than a pushback against a ‘broader’ audience. They say it’s anti-diversity, anti-inclusive. Most often, we hear it’s ‘toxic’.

Dozens of articles have been published in this vein. They have been a long time coming. For years, politicized games journalists have harbored a simmering mix of contempt and fear of the current gaming audience.

The problem with this narrative is that it mistakes opposition to culture warriors with opposition to diversity. It mistakes a disdain for ideology with a disdain for inclusivity.

GamerGate, Sincerity, and Horseshit
By Decado

GamerGate is, at its heart, a question of sincerity. Are game journalists sincere in their attempt to inform? Are social justice warriors sincere in their efforts to reform? Are game developers sincere in their efforts to be more inclusive? And perhaps most important: are gamers sincere, at all, or have the dual barrels of Twitter and Chan blasted all possible sincerity from the floundering corpse of gaming in general?

Sincerity is important. Without it, nobody believes you. If you don’t at least appear to be sincere, every word you utter or type is automatically dismissed under a variety of waved-hands: you’re a troll, you’re a con-artist, you’re a misogynist, you’re a shill, you’re an ideologue, etcetera. At the bottom of it all, these are insults meant to indict you for a lack of sincerity. This is important, because a perceived lack of sincerity is one of the only ways to dismiss someone’s views without honestly engaging them . . . unless of course you are a hypocritical shithead. And we’ll get to that.


Posted in Games.


Who exactly are you gamers anyway?

That you’re a significant bunch seems indisputable. Everyone certainly seems obsessed with you these days. It’s been gamers this and gamers that for months now. And it hasn’t been complimentary for the most part.

For all the discussion about you, though, determining who you gamers are precisely continues to be difficult. Game developers have a vested interest in knowing who is and who isn’t part of their target audience and even they have trouble agreeing on a definition. According to professional game makers, a gamer is either a games enthusiast, anyone who plays games, anyone who considers themselves a gamer or any human being.


Posted in Games.


When a consumer clicks the dislike button on a YouTube video, that’s not censorship.

When a consumer hits the unsubscribe button on a YouTube channel, that’s not censorship.

When a consumer submits a one-star review for a book on Amazon, that’s not censorship.

When a consumer submits a one-star review on Yelp, that’s not censorship.

When a consumer complains to the Better Business Bureau, that’s not censorship.

When a consumer informs a sponsor that they will no longer visit a website the sponsor is supporting in order to reach the consumer, that’s not censorship.

When sponsors refuse to support a bigoted hatemonger, that’s not censorship.

Posted in General.

Breeding ball

Do you know how the world’s heaviest snake, the green anaconda, mates? Just imagine a dozen of these huge serpents all coiled so tightly together that you could hardly tell individuals apart. This mass of writhing flesh, the breeding ball, can last up to four weeks. Well, now you know and knowing, as they say, is half the battle.

And now for some miscellaneous links …


Posted in Games.