‘Ethics in Gaming’ Open Thread: Another Trumpshow of Farce

The Verge reports:

Today, President Trump brought together top executives of the gaming industry, parents groups and members of Congress for a meeting to discuss violence in video games. Announced last week as part of President Trump’s response to the Parkland shooting, the meeting was hastily assembled and has been criticized as a purposeful distraction from more concrete gun-control measures.

The proceedings were closed to the press, but by all accounts, the meeting was a strange one. The President opened the meeting by showing a supercut of hyperviolent gameplay scenes apparently compiled from online streamers — a compilation that was later posted to the White House’s official YouTube account…

Attendees said there was little serious talk of government restrictions on content (which would present significant legal challenges), and the conversation focused on more robust age restrictions or voluntary measures that could be undertaken by the industry itself. “The president encouraged [game developers] to explore things they can do on their own to make things healthier in society,” said Media Research Center President Brent Bozell, “and that’s where it was left.”

In part, that may be a result of who was in attendance. None of the three conservative critics in attendance have any particular focus on video games, and each is better known for their work in other areas. Parents TV Council member Melissa Henson writes primarily about liberal values in Hollywood, while fellow attendee Lt. Col Dave Grossman specializes in teaching military tactics to police officers. (He was quoted telling officers “It’s your job to put a piece of steel in your fist and kill those sons of bitches when they come to kill our kids,” in a recent profile in Men’s Journal.) Bozell himself has most recently focused on raising awareness about allegedly anti-Christian bigotry on ABC’s The View…

No doubt it will be explained that it is very triggering for wanna-be Nazis to see their idols treated as the bad guys in games like WOLFENSTEIN. Why can’t we think of the poor lil’ Nazi snowflakes!

Late Night Open Thread: Doubling Down

When life gives you a new version of an old Nazi-punching video game to market… own the fuck out of your Nazi-punching.

Thereby chafing the highly refined sensitivities of a group that usually delights in screaming snowflake! and flaunting FUCK YOUR FEELINGS t-shirts…

Critics aren’t exactly arguing that the Nazis were nice, decent folks, but they say that in co-opting the president’s tagline, the video game company is quietly equating Trump supporters with Nazis.

Others claimed that the video game — or at least its marketing — is simply parroting the aims of the antifa, a loosely affiliated group of mostly communists, socialists and anarchists who aim to stop the advance of white supremacy, sometimes violently.

Is it good to give people in that group tacit justification to attack people who fit an ever-expanding definition of Nazis?…

The definition is hardly “ever-expanding”; marching with Nazi flags and screaming Jews will not replace us! has fit the parameters ever since the 1930s. It’s just that you didn’t used to see them mobbing around American college campuses, at least not with their faces unmasked.

Read more

Friday Morning Open Thread: Gotta Catch ‘Em All

Say this for the HRC campaign, they’re quick. Thanks to commentor Matt McIrvine for news of this Vox explainer:

So campaign organizers for Clinton, like her Ohio organizing director Jennifer Friedmann, started showing up at PokéStops and gyms to register Pokémon Go players to vote:

The Cincinnati Enquirer‘s Mallorie Sullivan reports that Clinton’s Ohio staff spent the past weekend going “from Cuyahoga to Athens to seek out players in their communities to register them to vote.”

There’s even an official Hillary event scheduled in Lakewood, Ohio, pegged to the game. “Join us as we go to the Pokestop in Madison Park and put up a lure module, get free pokemon, & battle each other while you register voters and learn more about Sec. Hillary Clinton!!!” the event description says. “Kids welcome!”…

The Clinton campaign’s eagerness to use an app to organize the same week it comes out is also an indication of the importance of on-the-ground field organizing. This sort of thing only works if you have field staffers on the ground to organize it, and who can do so without reducing the campaign’s ability to canvass, phone-bank, and engage in the other routine, necessary field activities. And Clinton had almost 700 people on staff already as of May’s Federal Election Commission filing.

Trump, by contrast, has only 70, many of them national staff. He’s at a big, big disadvantage when it comes to field work. It’s not just Pokémon Go: Trump’s staffing disadvantage means less contact with voters, and less registration, through any number of mechanisms. And at least when it comes to registration drives and get-out-the-vote operations, there’s good experimental research showing that well-done canvassing really does work….

Hopefully, even if the Pokemon Go craze is ephemeral, the players’ memories will last a little longer. Six years from now, I’d rather be soliciting new voters for the party they remember from that fun afternoon swapping characters than the party of that weird orange dude their parents kept screaming about.

trump locoman go toles

(Tom Toles via GoComics.com)

Late Night Gaming Open Thread: Deeply Inappropriate, Niantic…

On the one hand, healthful exercise out in the fresh air

… New Zealand police have issued multiple warnings about the addictive app after people swam and kayaked out to a “Poké gym” in the middle of Oriental Bay in Wellington, gathered outside public toilets at night, and turned up at the headquarters of Hells Angels in Whanganui – all in the name of the game.

The New Zealand Herald reported that a man who answered the gate at the Hells Angels club did not know what Pokémon Go was and told players to “go talk to the police”…

On the other hand, still a few bugs in the system:

… According to the Washington Post, three places within the D.C. Holocaust Museum are PokéStops, or real-world locations where players can collect items to be used in the game.

Andrew Hollinger, a spokesperson for the Holocaust Museum, told BuzzFeed News that playing the game “in a memorial dedicated to the victims of Nazism is extremely inappropriate.”…

The Holocaust Museum isn’t the only questionable game location: the 9/11 Memorial is a PokéStop too…

Also, Gizmodo warns of malware:

Security firm Proofpoint is now cautioning those who couldn’t wait for an official app store release, saying that one specific APK was modified to install a backdoor called DroidJack. The app is different form the official version, but is close enough to fool anyone who may have picked it up…

And the Guardian says Senator Al Franken has questions:

… The lawmaker wrote a letter to Niantic Inc’s John Hanke on Tuesday with a list of demands for further information regarding the app’s privacy settings.

“I am concerned about the extent to which Niantic may be unnecessarily collecting, using, and sharing a wide range of users’ personal information without their appropriate consent,” he wrote.

Franken, who sits on the Senate subcommittee on privacy, technology, and the law, accused the company of collecting users’ information and potentially sharing it with third-party service providers. He highlighted that most users are children and the app’s default setting is to automatically collect data, with users having to specifically “opt-out”…

The app was immediately controversial because it asked new users to provide “all access” to their Google accounts. It later became clear that this was simply clumsy wording and the app only had limited access to password information…

Franken, a former comedian on Saturday Night Live, gave Hanke until 12 August to respond to his request.

Open Thread: Pocket Monsters

“At least they’re outside in the fresh air, getting some exercise.” How long before Pokemon GO is proposed as an Olympic sport? From the Washington Post:

People are really getting into Pokemon Go, a new mobile take on the classic franchise. In fact, they’re maybe getting a little too into it.

The game, made by Niantic and the Pokemon Company, was released late on July 6, and allows players to capture Pokemon in real-world locations. The app makes the little monsters appear on your smartphone screen, through the camera, as you walk through your neighborhood — making it seem as if they are right in front of you. The game quickly shot to the top of the charts for Apple’s free apps and has gathered at least 100,000 downloads on Google’s Play store. It also quickly led to an unexpected side effect: a number of reported Pokemon-related injuries…

The Pokemon Go app itself includes a warning in the loading screen asking players to pay attention to their surroundings, but it’s clear that some people are getting so excited that they forget to heed it. Niantic, which partnered with the Pokemon franchise to create the game, has some rules of the road for it’s other major title, “Ingress,” that may prove useful.

“Pay attention to your surroundings; you never know what beautiful or interesting things you’ll see while playing the game,” the company cautions in its advice to players…

Buzzfeed, which aims for the kewl-kidz (as opposed to the WaPo get-off-my-lawn-you-kidz) crowd, helpfully posted “13 Pokémon Go Hacks To Help You Be The Very Best“. Some odd phrasings for those of us who didn’t grow up on the anime…

1. You can spin your Poké Ball for a nice curve…

3. To catch Pokémon properly without wasting Poké Balls, make sure you tap and hold…

6. If you have some time to play, use an incense to get a bunch of Pokémon to come to you…

7. If you’re out of incense and don’t want to spend money, try heading to a well-populated Pokéstop…

Which, I assume, is the real easter egg: The game is free, but if you choose to spend your money, they have a store where real cash can be converted into virtual “accessories”.

Not that I can be sniffish — if I had a smart phone, I could no more resist a game like this than a cat can resist a laser pointer.

Fun Stuff on the Internets

First, a very useful Chrome script:

When beloved celebrities of color die, there’s a particular way that the media likes to remember them that lauds the deceased’s legacy of somehow having “transcended” their race.

In the days following both Prince and Muhammad Ali‘s deaths, both men were remembered for the ways in which they “defied conventional notions of race” and made it so that their color and religion were nearly invisible. For the record, Prince was unabashedly proud of his blackness and Ali was widely known for the ways in which his blackness deeply informed his personal and social politics.

Still, though, for many celebrities of color (both living and dead) positive media coverage often goes hand in hand with the intentional downplaying or erasure of their race.

With that depressing fact in mind, Los Angeles Times editor Dexter Thomas built Un-Transcender, a handy little Chrome extension that will scan through any articles you bring up in the browser and replace the words “transcended race” with “was retroactively deemed safe by white people.”

I know everyone says they laugh our loud when they see stuff like this, but I actually hurt my self with a deep belly laugh when I saw this.


Second, I love movies and television in general, so I found this very interesting.

It’s also taking over video games. If you want a great channel on youtube to follow regarding movies, I would recommend Every Frame is a Painting. Here is a sample. He’s great.


Speaking of video games, I just finished the final expansion and end of the series for the Witcher, Witcher 3, Blood and Wine. I loved everything about this game, from the play style, to the story line, to even the dreaded cinematic cut scenes. It’s just a beautiful game.


I easily put this game up there with the original Deus Ex, Knights of the Old Republic, Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines, and the Baldur’s Gate series.

As to games I am following closely for their release, I have pre-purchased the Technomancer (because it was on sale and I knew I was going to buy it and I have 2 adult men, myself, three dogs, and a cat to feed and someone is always getting sick or injured every payday), Seven: The Days Long Gone, Cyberpunk 2077 from the guys who made the Witcher seriers, the new Deus Ex, the second Divinity: Original Sin, and finally, this joyous news:



That’s it for me for a couple hours. I’ll be back after Hitler is crowned ruler of Mordor and watch alleged progressives lose the fucking plot in real time on tv and twitter.

Late Night Open Thread: Dungeons & Dragons & Memory Holes

Evidence that progress has been made, in some areas; there are still individuals who regard D&D as the Devil’s Doorway but nowadays the rest of us laugh at them. From the NYTimes article:

The 1980s were prime years for accusations that the game fostered demon worship and a belief in witchcraft and magic. Some religious figures cast it as corrupting enough to steer impressionable young players toward suicide and murder. As Retro Report recalls, fears began to be stirred in 1979 with the disappearance of James Dallas Egbert III, a gifted 16-year-old student at Michigan State University and a devoted D&D player. The game warped his thinking and drove him to behave erratically — or so some insisted. In reality, the boy was already troubled. After a month’s absence, he was found. But in 1980 he ended up taking his own life.

A nationwide focus on his plight propelled interest in D&D. Sales soared, with the numbers of players leaping from the thousands into the millions. Condemnation rose as well, usually after bad things happened to D&D gamers….

Agitation over the game has subsided. So has general interest. D&D is classically low-tech, played with pens, paper, dice and figurines. Its influence, however, abides, notably among creative types who acknowledge that they qualified as full-blown nerds in their teens…

Figures that the Grey Lady somehow manages to overlook the real reason D&D has been “normalized”; the kids playing it today are the kids and grandkids of those original 1970s gamers.

As for the foundational horror story highlighted in the video… I was working on that campus when Dallas Egbert went missing and William Dear discovered his perfect marks in Egbert’s parents. Even the campus and city newspapers reported — obliquely, as was the custom in those days — that Egbert was a gay sixteen-year-old, bullied by his older dorm mates’ jock friends, seeking to explore his sexuality and consuming whatever intoxicants he could get his hands on. Given his extreme youth, all the men were older & he couldn’t legally consume so much as a beer. He also played D&D. Private Investigator Dear might not be able to track down a flatulent St. Bernard in an old-fashioned phone booth, but he could spot a gullible media personality like a hawk hunting mice. And since the campus bullies, the still-mostly-underground local gay community, and the people who sold Egbert drugs & booze weren’t exactly eager to speak for attribution, Dear made himself an easy profit blaming Those Witchcraft-Addled D&Ders who were Egbert’s only street-legal comrades.

It’d be nice to believe Dear was genuinely afraid that gamer voodoo had ensnared an innocent child, but his every action during those dark days belies that. Like every other outbreak of Satanic Panic in America, the Great D&D Terror was 60% gullible idiots, 30% victims / victimisers looking for something to blame, and 10% grifters honing in on the latest profitable outrage. Only the proportions change, and that not by much.

Commentor Condorcet Runner Up linked to a great post by Annalee Newirtz at io9, “How We Won the War on Dungeons & Dragons” — the NYTimes reporters would have done well to read it, too. But then they’d have risked their readers (or their editors) seeing comments like…

It was never a fair fight between fundamentalist Christianity and D&D. One was a dangerous system full of dark mysticism and threats to warp a young mind beyond repair, and the other was a tabletop RPG.