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A Fan’s Perspective of the PewDiePie Scandal

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PewDiePie has been in the media quite a lot lately. Now that it’s starting to simmer down, I thought I’d give my two cents. As a fan of PewDiePie as well as a fan of his network, RevelMode, which hosts most of my favorite YouTubers (such as Markiplier, JackSepticEye and KickthePJ), I feel I have a well-rounded scope of the situation.

For those of you who don’t know, Felix Kjellberg (AKA PewDiePie) runs a very successful YouTube channel (he has over 50 million subscribers). He pioneered the whole Let’s Play side of YouTube. If not for PewDiePie, there probably wouldn’t be YouTube Gaming and Real Women of Gaming probably wouldn’t have our own channel. He has also raised millions of dollars for many different charities around the world.

That being said, what PewDiePie did was unacceptable. Pewds is known by his fans as a man who tries to push boundaries. He’s constantly making points about the media or about society, which is what drew me to him in the first place. He has a tendency of going too far in order to make a point, but he’s never gone so far that he had to suffer actual consequences… until now.

In an effort to make a point about how some people will do anything for money, he went on to Fiverr (a website where freelancers can sell their services for $5) and paid Funny Guys $5 to display a message that read “Death to all Jews” in one of their videos. Once Funny Guys actually displayed this message, PewDiePie reacted to it by saying he didn’t think they would actually do it.

Because of this stunt, both YouTube Red and Disney have dropped the YouTube star. PewDiePie’s show Scare PewDiePie was also cancelled, effective immediately. Rightfully so.

Do I believe that PewDiePie himself is antisemitic? Not even a little bit. I think he’s a normal, dumbass guy who takes things too far to try to get a laugh. He went about it all wrong. He could have had Funny Guys write anything on that piece of cardboard, instead he tried to be controversial and it backfired.

PewDiePie released an apology video in which he stated he will accept the consequences of his actions, but not before blaming the press for blowing it out of proportion. In a way, yes, the press did make the situation worse. For example, The Wall Street Journal went through his videos and took a lot of his content out of context to make it seem as though he’s been antisemitic all this time.

What PewDiePie doesn’t seem to realize, though, is that he wasn’t dropped from YouTube Red or Disney because the press blew it out of proportion. They dropped him because he was blatantly antisemitic. Not only have his actions caused his career a major setback, but they’ve also impacted other people.

Scare PewDiePie not only employed over 100 people, but YouTuber JackSepticEye flew to Los Angeles from his home in Ireland to collaborate on the show. JackSepticEye put a lot of work into Scare PewDiePie to play the villain of season 2. Pewds mentions this in his apology video, but puts the blame on YouTube for cancelling the show in the first place. No, Felix. You need to think about these things before you attempt to “push boundaries.”

When you’re in the spotlight, you can’t just say or do whatever you want. When you’re in the spotlight, other people get hurt by the consequences of your actions. For example, I wouldn’t go on Twitter under Real Women of Gaming’s handle and spew hatred because that would not only impact me, but also all the other wonderful people that make Real Women of Gaming what it is today.

Being an adult doesn’t mean you can say or do whatever you want. I means you can understand your mistakes and learn from them. So, Felix, I hope you learned from your mistake like you said you have.

What are your thoughts on the situation? Let us know in the comments below!

Another Cosply Competition Show Coming to Syfy

Another Cosply Competition Show Coming to Syfy

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Cosplay Melee, a new show hosted by Yvette Nicole Brown, is coming to Syfy on March 21st.  I looks to be similar to shows like Face Off, pitting contestants against each other in a competition to create their own designs.  In each episode four top cosplayers will compete to create full costumes as well as original characters.  Other judges include special effects artist Christian Beckman and cosplayer LeeAnna Vamp.  If it follows the format of similar shows we may also see guest judges from similar fields.

This looks to be Syfy’s second venture into the cosplay world, though other shows have touched on its aspects, like Fangasm and Naked Vegas.  The network’s previous attempt, Heroes of Cosplay, had a bumpy two seasons.  The show was criticized for negative portrayal of the community, cosplayers, and even causing problems with contestants who weren’t part of the show when they changed the format of a competition.  While I personally enjoyed the show, I did see some of the issues that others saw in the show, and I’m inclined to believe that’s why it didn’t come back.

Other than Steampunk’d, which isn’t exclusively about cosplay, there isn’t really anything else on TV right now featuring this art form.  What began as just a hobby for super fans to express their love of pop culture, and their skill as crafters, has become a worldwide business.  Some cosplayers not only compete for a living, but model, sell branded cosplay props and costumes, and appear as featured guests at conventions.  With the immense popularity of other similar fandoms, it is surprising that we still have so little abut this on television.

What I hope we don’t see?  The catty, snarky, and backstabbing nature of most of these shows.  It’s a staple of reality competitions, whether it be makeup, tattoo, or cooking, there always seems to be a lot of back room bickering.  It’s hard to tell if it’s manufactured, or just the result of putting a group of dis-likable people in a room together and making them compete.  It’s bound to happen; not everyone gets along, I just hope it doesn’t become part of every promo and ‘next week on’ clip.

I also want to see amateur contestants.  As much as I like seeing the work of Nigri, Han and Doomkitty, I’d love to see the show feature less-known artists, and those just starting out.  Beginning cosplayers look at the work of the big names, and can be intimidated by the level of craftsmanship.  It’s especially disheartening when the work is portrayed in a lightning fast montage between commercial breaks when that kind of work can take a beginner days or weeks.  It’s like being a new writer (like me) and seeing how fast James Patterson can crank out a best seller.

I can’t deny that I’m excited for this show, but I’ll go into it with a bit of hopeful skepticism.  I haven’t been able to get into other programs like it, except for background noise while I’m doing something else.  I want to see a good cosplay competition.  I just don’t want to see a re-skin of Inked or Face Off.  What do you think?

Influential Female Characters: Chun-Li

Influential Female Characters: Chun-Li

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Let’s just be honest about this from the jump; Chun-Li is a boss. She is the first female playable character in fighting games. The unofficial First Lady of arcade games. She has a great backstory and an unwavering sense of justice. Also, it is just so fun to play her and kick the actual snot out of people.

Chun-Li is also one of my favorite characters because she is closely tied with my early childhood.

When I was a kid, we went out for pizza a lot. Most of the local pizza places had some arcade style games. The real arcade was too far, so this was where my brother, my cousins and I played these games. One of these restaurants had Street Fighter. My brother and I loved Street Fighter. I always played Chun-Li. I loved how strong she was. I particularly loved how she could kick forever and kick so high. Thankfully, the owners thought it was cute to have me yell; “KICK! KICK! KICK!” as Chun-Li would decimate her opponents in battle. You can get away with causing some shenanigans as a cute little girl in pigtails bent on slaughter till your pizza is ready.

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There weren’t a lot of choices for me as a little girl to play a female character that were not a damsel in distress. Chun-Li was that option. She has always been a capable and highly ranked character in the games. She high kicked her way into my heart and let me know I could get myself out of situations and even be a little sassy about it.

Now that I am older, I can also really appreciate her backstory. Most of the time her origin story is that, as a little girl, she was very interested in martial arts and her father trained her. Her father was a detective who would go missing. She became a detective herself to find him. From there, she goes to all sorts of places and lengths to stop villains. 

chun-li_various_agesChun-Li fights for justice. Sometimes she fights for vengeance. She is a police officer and an overall likable person. She has been voiced and played by some pretty cool actresses, including Ming-Na Wen in the movie of which we do not speak from 1994.

Chun-Li is a fun character. She doesn’t have to be someone’s girlfriend. She is a career women with a backstory that is a part of her but does not define her. She uses her talents to help others. Chun-Li is also a favorite of cosplayers and who could blame them with her cool outfit? Honestly she is just a really great character to play.

Let us know what you think about Chun-Li in the comments below!

Always keep sparkling (and kicking), my friends!

Overwatch Just Can’t Catch a Break

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It wasn’t long ago that one person managed to complain hard enough to get Tracer’s pose changed in Overwatch.  Nevermind that the new pose isn’t really that much different from the original, or that the original is just like many of the other character victory poses.  Ignore the male victory poses that have them thrusting themselves forward as if proclaiming their victory with a burst of manhood at the screen.  This one character had to be changed, and Blizzard changed it.  They didn’t change it so much though.  She still shows her backside, looking over her shoulder, flirty look; not much difference at all.

Then comes winter.  Blizzard releases a fun holiday skin for Mei and people get upset.  It’s a fun skin, perfectly matched to the season.  It fits her character theme, and her original costume design.  Again, Blizzard apologizes, for a design choice!  They wanted to create something fun, fun being an entirely subjective word, and the company says sorry.  Of course gamers have a right to voice their complaints, but when’s the last time a painter apologized for a painting, or a writer apologized for a book?  It doesn’t happen all that often does it?  The artists that create our games, however, they always seem to be apologizing.

If only that were the end.  Now comes the Lunar New Year update and people are upset about Mei again.  Now, while the profile view looks odd, and yes it could either be her clothing or a strange bug, people weren’t just complaining about that.  Take off her thick fur parka and voila, she’s still a curvy girl but sans a thick parka.  Blizzard is saying this bug will be fixed, and granted they may not change her all that much.  How can we know, at this point, whether it was a bug, a design choice, or just a mistake?  Is it Blizzard just apologizing again?  We won’t know for sure, because they’ve set a precedent.

It’s not just them though, and no this isn’t going to turn into an ‘entitled gamers’ rant.  If you don’t like a game, something about a game, or the company that makes it, say so.  Don’t buy the game, express your suggestions, and do whatever you think best.  What I have a problem with is every company bending over backwards in an attempt to please everyone.  It creates an environment where if a few of us yell loud enough we can make an artist change their creation however we want.

It’s one thing to apologize about a mistake, a large number of bugs, or delays of release.  The list of apologies for design choices is long however.  Christina Love recently apologized and censored her own game because of complaints about one sex scene.  Just this past year a handful of games were censored because of outrage, localization or fear of outrage as in the case of Uncharted 4.  Watchdogs 2, a game featuring male genitalia, had to be changed to remove one instance of female nudity that was found (not readily on display), and shared to social media.

We’re creating an atmosphere where creativity is chained by fear.  Where art has to run through a checklist of things that are allowed and aren’t, and where artists are always questioning their decisions because someone might be upset.  I’m here to tell you someone will always be upset.  I’ve seen games change things to please one group, only to piss off another, then change something else that pisses off the first group again.  I’m a writer, and I can tell you there’s nothing less creative than having to work off a checklist of things you can and can’t do, things you have to do.  Then there’s the realization that even if you check off all those boxes, and do your best to make sure it doesn’t seem like you’re just checking off boxes, someone will still be pissed.

Don’t get me wrong.  Voice your opinion and give feedback.  Let them know when a game’s broken or that you are upset at a ridiculous delay.  Report bugs and offer suggestions.  Just remember that those hard-working artists that put all those hours into the games we love are people too.  They’re creative, caring, and real people.  When criticism turns into just a mob crapping over a design choice, or getting offended by a joke, we’ll wind up with games created by automatons rather than artists.  I don’t think any of us want that.

Artists, stop apologizing so much.  If you have to change your art to please some people, then you inevitably lose others.  If some people don’t want your work because of what it involves, guess what…that’s normal.  Not every person in the world is going to read my book, like someone’s painting, or play your game.  Make the stories you want to tell.  Create the art you want to share.  Never apologize for creating what’s in your heart.  If you make an honest mistake then own up to it, but when you bring something artistic out of your mind, or your heart and soul, that’s not a mistake, a bug, or an error.

Top 10: Video Game Soundtracks to Get You Through the Work Day

Greetings! Rinshi here. I haven’t written an article in a looooong time, huh? Well, part of that has to do with the fact that I’ve started working full time in an office. I know, I know: “But Rinshi! You can’t become just another boring office drone, forced into a routine of soul-crushing drudgery!” Fear not, gentle readers, for I have no intention of going quietly into that good night. My geek flag is flying higher than ever. The background on my dual monitors is of a super star destroyer and accompanying tie fighters. Jamison “Junkrat” Fawkes (my dear trash husbando) watches over me from his framed print on my desk, as do figures of Beetlejuice, David Lo Pan, and The Riddler. Once a week I play Dungeons and Dragons with coworkers over lunch. Even in the office, my nerd soul is sustained. I know there are many others who are not so lucky.

The work itself is not terribly exciting, being only somewhat more interesting than pure data entry, and so to help me get through the day’s tasks I like to pop in my earbuds and stream music from good ol’ YouTube. I soon found that soundtracks from video games were a wonderful resource, being intended already to serve in the background while you focus on more important things. Thus, I present to you ten of these gems so that you too can take advantage of them should you also have to pass your Mondays through Fridays, 9-5, in a desk chair staring at one or more computer screens. Lose yourself in the soothing sounds of adventure, beauty, wonder, and even a bit of excitement from the worlds contained within our incredible hobby. I found it wasn’t terribly fair to give them specific rankings, as there really is no single “best” and it is better to take them all as a whole to be enjoyed and rotated through throughout the day, so they are presented in no particular order.

Read the rest of this entry

Real Women of Gaming’s Top Things We’re Thankful For

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Thanksgiving was days ago, yes, but the spirit of being thankful is still upon us. In this spirit, the Real Women of Gaming Staff has shared what they are thankful for this holiday season. Let us know in the comments below what you’re thankful for!

I am so thankful for the friends that I’ve made while embracing and celebrating all the things that I love and nerd out about. I’m finally living in a time where I can openly talk about my love for Dungeons & Dragons, gaming, fandoms (ALL THE FANDOMS). This has helped me to make some deep connections with friends that I was previously unable to make while hiding so much of myself. I am blessed that I have them all and all of the RWoG staff are true and dear friends to me. I love them all to bits. ~Crymson Pleasure~

I should start off by saying that I am grateful for many things, however one thing that has consistently made my world better is fandom. Some of my best friends have been made by “geeking out.” I joined this wonderful group because of a conversation that started with fandom. I truly am not sure if I would be alive if not for the friends that I have made because of fandoms. Fandom have been my shield, my safe space, a place to hone my talents, my mirror and my fun!

Always keep sparkling -Thia the Bard

I am thankful for my parents. Whatever my Dad could do for us, he did. He worked two jobs, moonlighting as a drummer in a wedding band while fixing vending machines during the day. My Mom, aside from the massive task of raising 3 boys and a girl, taught us how to play. Every board game we got we learned through her. All the classic parlor games, she taught us. When we got our first console…she kicked us off of it so she could play. She’s the reason I create, the reason I play games. I’m thankful for Mom and Dad. -MaxUrso

Over the past several weeks, I’ve been working overtime to keep my guild running smoothly, ensure its stability, and maintain its growth. It’s left me stressed-out, exhausted, and unhappy. My in-game friends know me well enough to notice, and care enough about my wellbeing to intervene. In this ‘intervention,’ they insisted I take a break from raiding and offered to take over some of my duties as a guild officer. It’s given me the chance to recharge and catch up on some RL duties I’d been neglecting. I couldn’t be more grateful. I am so, so thankful that these people, people whose faces I’ve never seen with my own eyes, are looking out for me. -Solyria

I’m thankful for many things, including my husband, my friends, my family, and my health. More specifically, I’m thankful for my new, full-time job and the geeky friends I’m making there. It’s awesome to be working in an environment where coworkers tell me that I “rolled a 20” or got a “critical hit” on a piece of work, where people play D&D over lunch, and where we’ve set up biweekly board game nights after work. It certainly makes the daily grind that much more bearable, and sometimes even enjoyable. -Rinshi

Things I am thankful for…A steady D&D play group of fun friends to play with that make me laugh and enjoy the game. Being able to go out on Friday night and play Magic: the Gathering for a few hours with other friends and get stomped and do some stomping. Waiting on the news on when I will get my new Kitty Mango  -Fluffy the Necromancer

This year’s been a tough one. I’m thankful for the friends and family that were with me, and are still with me. The health of my family, and my son getting his GED. My job still being great, and my writing starting to get some notice out in the world. -Trever

I’m thankful for conventions. A lot of the time I feel like my world is very small. It’s easy to me to retreat to the familiar and I end up feeling like it’s impossible for me to meet new people and make new friends. Conventions get me out among awesome people who share my love of awesome things and I have made some great new friends going to them. -UC Booties

I am thankful for a roof over my head. It has been a rough year I think for everyone but personally it had gotten to a point where things were getting to the unknown. I am very thankful for my amazing husband who supports me in this endeavor of being a part of this group and my streaming career. I couldn’t do it without him. -KinkedNitemare-

I am thankful for video games, which make me happy even if some of them are as old as I am. Video games have evolved with technology and there is something to fit every person now. They help teach children, they help people focus. They provide escape from tough times, even if only for a little bit. VR is now helping people approach situations that are scary to help them get over their fears as much as it is entertaining.

Hearing the do-do-do-do of the dungeon song in Mario makes me smile, every time. Seeing the old games from Atari and SNES brings me back to a childhood where video games were primitive but oh so thrilling. My family used to gather around to play… or watch my dad play Dig Dug for the millionth time. Even now, my family gathers to play. Separately, hubby has his World of Tanks. My 62 year old Mom, has her World of Warcraft, played religiously. My brother, the traitor with the PS4. The XBox One is all mine. But together, we have Mario Kart. We have board games like Monopoly made into video games (no banker cheating, yay!), among others.

So I am thankful for video games, without which my life would have gone on, but would have been a great deal more boring for it. -Chritter

There ya have it, folks! What are you thankful for?

Am I Addicted To Video Games?

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I’ve been considering this question a lot over the past month, as I’ve been working on this article.  It started when Crymson posted an article(1) about reSTART, a rehab facility near Seattle that specializes in treating video game addiction.  The article profiled some of the patients, and I saw myself in them.  Guild Wars 2 is a huge part of my life.  I spend hours every day playing, just like the men in the article.  Do I belong in reSTART, too?

Addiction is a complicated disorder with many factors.  The traditional view of addiction is chemical: the brain releases pleasure-neurotransmitters based on a certain stimulus (usually a drug), then person performs the behavior again and again to initiate the pleasure response, while the brain releases less and less of the chemical each time.  The person has to perform the behavior, take the drug, at higher and higher doses to feel the same effect, and isn’t able to stop without experiencing withdrawal.

Newer theories of addiction look deeper.  Scientist Bruce K. Alexander believes that addiction is a social problem.  In a famous 1981 study(2), he looked at how rats’ addictive behaviors changed based on their environments.  Alexander et al found that rats housed in isolation became addicted to morphine easily, whereas rats housed in large enclosures filled with enrichment items and other rats did not.  He believes these findings can carry over to addiction patterns in humans.

The theory goes that people who have difficulty connecting with others socially may instead turn to drugs, ‘connecting’ to the drug when there is nothing else to connect with.  History seems to back up this theory: according to Alexander’s website, “Addiction can be rare in a society for many centuries, but can become nearly universal when circumstances change – for example, when a cohesive tribal culture is crushed or an advanced civilization collapses.”(3)  Maybe the cliche about having an ‘addictive personality’ has less to do with actual personality traits than it does the addiction-prone person’s social and economic circumstances.

Looking at addiction as a result of social isolation puts video game addiction in an interesting position, because many so-called ‘video game addicts’ play social games.  World of Warcraft is famously addicting, and the majority of the patients mentioned in the reSTART article were at the facility because they played WoW, or similarly massive multiplayer online games, so much that it interfered with their other activities and relationships.  Were those men addicted to the games themselves, or to the social connections they formed through those games?  If addiction is a social disorder, is it even possible to be addicted to social connection, regardless of the form it takes?

Dr. Hilarie Cash, reSTART’s co-founder and executive director, has a theory that social connections formed over the internet are lacking compared to in person interactions.  She claims that “limbic resonance,” a brain process related to the warm fuzzy feeling we get when we interact with people, doesn’t occur when the people who are interacting are not face to face.  “We have to be able to see and hear and touch and feel and smell each other for that release to occur,” she told an interviewer. “But what happens is that people seek to satisfy their social needs online.”(4)

I’m not convinced that this is true.  Some of the most important relationships in my life right now are with people I know through online gaming, whom I’ve never met face to face.  Interacting with them feels different from interacting with my “RL” friends, but I can think of plenty of times when I’ve had the warm, fuzzy feeling that Dr. Cash associates with limbic resonance while chatting over text or voice.  I have a different hypothesis for why gaming can become addicting in a way that in-person socialization doesn’t.

Laws against talking on cell-phones while driving have become commonplace.  When they were first being enacted, there was a lot of controversy.  “How is talking on a phone while driving different from talking to the person in the passenger seat?”  It turns out that there’s a big difference.  David Strayer, a leading researcher in the effects of cell-phone usage on driving ability, conducted a study comparing the two types of conversations.  The results revealed conversing with passengers to be much safer than cell-phone conversation.  According to Tara Parker-Pope of the New York Times, “There is something uniquely distracting about talking on the phone when you’re behind the wheel; conversations with people inside the car are far less distracting to drivers. Unlike cell phone callers, chatty passengers instinctively stop talking when driving conditions change, and they offer an extra set of eyes to alert drivers to nearly-missed exits or erratic drivers.” (5)

I believe something similar is going on with MMO addiction.  We get the same feelings of connection, the same social benefits, from interacting with each other online and in person.  The difference is that, while our computer screens are windows into other people’s lives, they are narrow ones.  It’s easier to hid things from the people we know online: things like gaming may be negatively impacting our performance at work or our relationships with our families.  You can raid with someone every week, all the while never realizing that their life is spiraling out of control.  Instead of being an extra set of eyes in the passenger seat, we are the cell phone caller: oblivious to danger.  It’s no wonder that so many of our friends and guild-mates crash and burn.

I’m one of the lucky ones.  Over the past several weeks I’ve been working overtime to keep my guild running smoothly, ensure its stability, and maintain its growth.  It’s left me stressed-out, exhausted, and unhappy.  My in-game friends know me well enough to notice, and care enough about my well being to intervene.  In this ‘intervention,’ they insisted I take a break from raiding and offered to take over some of my duties as a guild officer.  It’s given me the chance to recharge and catch up on some RL duties I’d been neglecting (writing this article, for example).  I couldn’t be more grateful.  With American Thanksgiving approaching, the RWoG staff have been asked to submit a short statement about something (preferably gaming related) that we are thankful for, and this is mine: I am so, so thankful that these people, people whose faces I’ve never seen with my own eyes, are looking out for me.

So, am I addicted to playing video games?  I don’t think so, at least not in the classic sense.  And, thanks to the people in my life, both online and off, I don’t think I’m going to be.

If addiction is a social disease, then we, as social gamers, have the power to combat it.  One of my guild’s founding principles is game/life balance.  We have a flexible attendance policy and prioritize members’ wellness over progress and scores.  I hope other guilds will do the same.  If we can stop being ‘callers’ and become ‘passengers’ in each others lives, gaming addiction will never be able to take hold.

References:

  1. NPR staff  20 October 2013.  “When Playing Video Games Means Sitting Along Life’s Sidelines.”   http://www.npr.org/2013/10/20/238095806/when-playing-video-games-means-sitting-on-lifes-sidelines
  2. Alexander, Bruce K. et al 1981.  “Effects of Early and Later Colony Housing on Oral Ingestion of Morphine in Rats.”  Pharmacology Biochemistry & Behavior vol 15, pp 571-576 http://www.brucekalexander.com/articles-speeches/rat-park/212-ratparkjournalarticle1981
  3. http://www.brucekalexander.com/
  4. Gravening, Jagger 2014.  “A Day at the First Video Game Rehab Clinic in the US.”  Motherboard, VICE.com http://motherboard.vice.com/read/a-day-at-the-first-video-game-rehab-clinic-in-the-us
  5. Parker-Pope, Tara 2008.  “Chatty Driving: Phones vs Passengers” NYTimes.com.  http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/12/01/chatty-driving-phones-vs-passengers/?_r=0