International Person of Mystery.
347 stories
·
31 followers

Conversations We Have In My Head

1 Share

screenshot1

I’ve released a new game, called “Conversations We Have In My Head”. It is on sale for the price of “whatever you want” (including free) on my new favourite videogame storefront, itch.io.

Many of us have voices in our heads that constantly remind us of our perceived failures and inadequacies. Sometimes, those voices appear to us in the form of a once-important, now-estranged person from our past. This is a game about having one of those conversations with that voice in your head, and the many ways it can go.​​

Contains some strong language and discussion of heavy topics. Probably not the sort of thing you’d want young kids to play.

Read the whole story
squinky
1273 days ago
reply
Santa Cruz, CA
Share this story
Delete

"Where's My Cut?": On Unpaid Emotional Labor

3 Shares

320px--Boy^_Did_we_do_a_day's_work^_They_give_the_job_all_they've_got-_-_NARA_-_513983Jess Zimmerman’s previous work for The Toast can be found here.

I am not a big fan of psychic charlatanry, which often preys on people who are in genuine grief. So when I read about psychic fraud Priscilla Kelly Delmaro, arrested in May for second-degree grand larceny, I should have felt smug about her downfall. Delmaro had induced a male client to give her over $700,000 worth of payment and gifts, including a diamond ring and a Rolex – all in exchange for her mystic advice on how to woo a woman, Michelle, who’d made her lack of interest very clear. Technically the diamond was to “protect his energy,” the Rolex was to “go back and cleanse his past,” and some of the money was to build an 80-mile solid gold bridge into the spirit world, but that was the general formula: woman has no interest, man needs to feel hope, Delmaro is willing to provide that hope for a price.

Psychics in New York are supposed to clarify that their services are “for entertainment purposes only,” but Delmaro was clearly advertising concrete results, even if some of them (like the bridge) were also intangible. It was obviously a con, and thus probably a more justified arrest than two-thirds of the ones NYPD made that day.

But that wasn’t my first thought when I read this story. My first thought was “how do I get in on this game?”

Here’s the part that made me thoughtfully stroke my imaginary beard:

Ms. Delmaro told him the trouble had come from a spirit that was stalking him. She needed $28,000, then $28,000 more. Michelle had grown cold so suddenly, he thought, that the spirit explanation sounded right, and so he paid.

Recall that this was a woman who’d made it explicitly clear that she had no romantic feelings for this fellow. A reasonable person might note Michelle’s complete lack of interest and come up with a few more plausible explanations for her coldness than “evil spirits.” But for this guy to follow that thread, he’d have to give up on an article of deeply-held faith: that any woman he wants is rightfully his and just needs to be collected. Much easier to believe in poltergeists, and pay to have them removed.

Believe it or not, I’m not unsympathetic to the man, who must be very lonely. But when I see how desperate he was to have his delusion of entitlement confirmed, when I read that he found “Michelle is influenced by evil spirits” easier to swallow than “Michelle is a human being with preferences and agency,” I find it harder to feel too sorry that someone took him for what he was willing to pay. “Men gonna men,” as the New Yorker’s Caitlin Kelly tweeted; they often ignore women’s explicit stated opinions, and it’s always annoying, so why not get a Rolex out of the deal? The real travesty is that Michelle didn’t get a cut. The other travesty is that I didn’t think of it first.

*

Of course, I don’t really want to make a living giving men false hope. But what if I wanted to make a living yelling at them about why their false hope is dumb?

This is a thing I do frequently now for free. Somehow, despite increasingly noisy misandry, I have amassed a small cadre of men who think I’m a good person to confide in. These are friends and partners, so it goes without saying that they are generally not confiding fucked-up attitudes about women, but they’re also straight men with feelings; consequently, I’ve seen my share of “how do I make her fall back in love with me,” “how do I make her regret rejecting me,” “how do I change her mind.”

The answers are “you can’t,” “you can’t,” and “you can’t,” respectively, but I’ve come up with enough different ways of saying this that occasionally one gets through. It’s something I’m happy to do for the people I care about, but it is not effortless. I’ve fielded hundreds of late-night texts, balanced reassurance with tough love, hammered away at stubborn beliefs, sometimes even taken (shudder) phone calls. I’ve actually been on agony aunt duty for male friends since high school, so if it’s true that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at something, counseling bereft dudes may in fact be my only expert skill.

And yet, it is basically impossible to monetize, short of demanding funds to build a gold bridge. Not that I’d charge my friends – but I don’t charge to edit stuff for them either, nor do usually they charge me when they knit me something or draw me a picture or feed my dog. Yet that work is still considered to have value. I’ve offered to pay for dogsitting, they’ve offered to pay for editing; often we arrange some kind of barter in lieu of payment. If we wanted to charge someone else money for these services, it would not be considered absurd. But emotional labor? Offering advice, listening to woes, dispensing care and attention? That’s not supposed to be transactional. People are disturbed by the very notion that someone would charge, or pay, for friendly support. It’s supposed to come free.

Why?

*

In May, Lauren Chief Elk (@ChiefElk) started the Twitter hashtag #GiveYourMoneyToWomen, based on a conversation with @cheuya and Bardot Elle Smith (@BardotSmith). The basic idea behind the hashtag is that a woman’s time and regard has value – it cannot be had for nothing. Men like to act as if commanding women’s attention is their birthright, their natural due, and they are rarely contradicted. It’s a radical act to refuse them that attention. It’s even more radical to propose that if they want it so fucking much, they can buy it.

The originators and adherents of #GiveYourMoneyToWomen didn’t just suggest that women should get paid for existing, although yeah that too if you’re buying. Rather, women should get paid for all the work they typically do for free – all the affirmation, forbearance, consultation, pacifying, guidance, tutorial, and weathering abuse that we spend energy on every single day. Imagine a menu of emotional labor: Acknowledge your thirsty posturing, $50. Pretend to find you fascinating, $100. Soothe your ego so you don’t get angry, $150. Smile hollowly while you make a worse version of their joke, $200. Explain 101-level feminism to you like you’re five years old, $300. Listen to your rant about “bitches,” $infinity.

It was beautiful to watch #GiveYourMoneyToWomen unfold. Men got angry, and then women explained to them that to have their anger acknowledged, they would have to pay. This made them angrier, of course, but without a donation, who was listening? Even now, when you Google the hashtag, nearly the whole first results page consists of furious MRAs. (I didn’t click through, though. Who exactly was going to make it worth my while?)

But women – purportedly feminist women – also expressed confusion and affront. Huffington Post UK blogger Katy Horwood, who has boasted in print about getting out of a £50 traffic ticket by flirting, suddenly came over all high-and-mighty when it was suggested that female attention might have direct monetary value. “You want money? Cut out the bitching and moaning and go the f**k out and earn it,” she wrote. Because affirmation, forbearance, consultation, pacifying, guidance, tutorial, weathering abuse: these earn nothing. These have no worth.

*

It’s not just emotional work that’s supposed to come free of charge. Feminist scholar Silvia Federici wrote in 1975:

[N]ot only has housework been imposed on women, but it has been transformed into a natural attribute of our female physique and personality, an internal need, an aspiration, supposedly coming from the depth of our female character. Housework had to be transformed into a natural attribute rather than be recognised as a social contract because from the beginning of capital’s scheme for women this work was destined to be unwaged. Capital had to convince us that it is a natural, unavoidable and even fulfilling activity to make us accept our unwaged work. In its turn, the unwaged condition of housework has been the most powerful weapon in reinforcing the common assumption that housework is not work, thus preventing women from struggling against it, except in the privatized kitchen-bedroom quarrel that all society agrees to ridicule, thereby further reducing the protagonist of a struggle. We are seen as nagging bitches, not workers in struggle.

Emotional labor has followed the same path. We are told frequently that women are more intuitive, more empathetic, more innately willing and able to offer succor and advice. How convenient that this cultural construct gives men an excuse to be emotionally lazy. How convenient that it casts feelings-based work as “an internal need, an aspiration, supposedly coming from the depths of our female character.”

It’s also hard not to draw a connection between #GiveYourMoneyToWomen and sex work. Sex workers are selling something that’s legal to have, that belongs to them, and that people are willing to pay for – and yet the sale is subject to both moral and legal censure, unlike almost any other transaction of that kind. For all the rhetoric about protecting workers, a lot of opposition to sex work comes down to “this should not be sold, for reasons.” That moralizing, paternalistic viewpoint – “please ignore the fact that there’s a market for this, because we think it shouldn’t have monetary value” – has roots in common with Horwood’s call to “get a job.” It has roots in common with people who look down on domestic workers, or judge their employers for apparent failure to keep up their own homes.

Housework is not work. Sex work is not work. Emotional work is not work. Why? Because they don’t take effort? No, because women are supposed to provide them uncompensated, out of the goodness of our hearts.

*

All that said, I’m not sure how I would monetize the emotional labor I do, how I would turn my hard-earned expertise into something that puts capitalism to work for me. Maybe I have to become a therapist – once your feelings work is ratified by a Sainted Old White Man like Jung or Erickson or a college dean, it does seem to magically turn into a job skill. Maybe I should advertise “friend services” on Etsy, an agreed-upon number of carefully customized supportive texts just when you need them, like Joaquin Phoenix’s job in “Her” but less twee. Maybe I really should hang out a psychic shingle, and tell men I can give them insight into the minds of the women who spurned them. Sure, all the tarot cards come up as the Queen of Brass Knuckles, representing a woman who already goddamn told you she wasn’t interested, but each time I read it directly from her mind! Also, if you believe that, I’ve got an 80-mile gold bridge to sell you.

The “how” isn’t really important, which is lucky because these are all probably bad ideas. What I’m trying to do, for now, is just recognize that this work has value. It’s very easy for me, and maybe for you, to wind up in a friendship or relationship or passing acquaintanceship, especially one with a man, where our labor is never rewarded, never returned, never even acknowledged. We let this happen because patriarchy is so good at training women as its proxies; we’ve internalized the idea that our effort is men’s birthright.

Enough of that. We don’t necessarily need to insist that men just give us their money – though you should, if that works for you, and write down what they say because I bet it’ll be funny. But we absolutely get to recognize that the constant labor of placating men and navigating patriarchal expectations is exhausting because it’s work. (Incidentally, women of color should probably be getting recompense from men and white women; emotionally pampering white people while living within white supremacist culture is just as much of an effort if not more, and they’re doing both.) It’s counterintuitive, but it’s worth trying to think of emotional labor as a service – one that’s provided in response to constant demand. Whatever your opinion of capitalism, we’re soaking in it, and by its own rules we should get some kind of remuneration for work that’s highly sought.

I don’t expect to get $700,000, now that I’m trying to remember that emotional labor has value. I don’t expect to get anything, really. But at least now I know that when I get nothing, I’m being cheated. That’s a start.

Tags:

emotional labor

,

feminism

,

friendship

,

jess zimmerman

Read the whole story
squinky
1275 days ago
reply
Santa Cruz, CA
Share this story
Delete

Labels, Not Identities | Thing of Things

1 Share

This is a thing that helped me, and it helped some other people on Tumblr, so I’m going to turn it into a real blog post.

When you think about your sexuality and gender, think about what you want to signal.

There are basically two reasons to identify as LGBA. First, you might want to signal to prospective romantic partners: you might want to say “I’m bisexual” so cuties of all genders know that you’re into them, or you might want to say “I’m a lesbian” so that men know not to waste their time hitting on you (as tragically unsuccessful a strategy as that might sometimes be). Second, a lot of people want to know who does and doesn’t experience homophobia and compulsory heterosexuality, for a whole bunch of reasons. A lot of LGBA people are more comfortable talking about their experiences with people who share them. Many people will take your opinion more seriously if they know it’s informed by life experience. Groups ranging from health centers to suicide hotlines are primarily open to LGBTA+ people.

So: if you want to signal to guys “hey! Guys! I want to kiss you!”, and you want to signal to girls “hey, girls, not my thing!”, congratulations, you get to identify as a gay dude.

And it’s 100% okay if you want to change your label. Because this isn’t some Basic Reality Of Your Fundamental Being: it’s just a word. It’s just signaling. If you used to be a gay dude and now you’re like “actually, that whole sex thing is not my bag, baby”, you can be asexual– homoromantic, if you still want to signal to boys that you want to hold their hands and get gaymarried (which we can do in all fifty states!), or aromantic if you’ve decided that’s not your bag either.

Similarly, trans shit.

The best advice I got when I was transitioning was stop worrying about your fucking label. A lot of times it’s easier to answer questions like “do I want people to use female pronouns for me? do I want to change my name? do I want to wear makeup or dresses or girl-cut jeans? do I want to tuck or wear falsies? do I want to take hormones? do I want voice therapy? do I want sexual reassignment surgery or electrolysis or facial feminization surgery?” than it is to answer questions like “really, on a fundamental level, do I identify more with men or women?” There is no empirical way you can answer the latter question. On the other hand, if you want to find out whether skirts are fun, you can go out and buy a skirt. Problem solved.

(Skirts are fun, by the way.)

And eventually it’s going to turn out that one set of vocabulary is the easiest to use to explain what’s going on with you. You can say “I’m a crossdresser” if you want to wear falsies and lipstick sometimes but mostly want to be called “he” and wear pants. You can say “I’m a woman” if you want to take HRT and use “she” pronouns and be called “Mary.” You can say “I’m nonbinary” if you like “they/them” and you want a boob job but you’re okay with your current hormone balance. You can say “I’m genderfluid” if your preferences change a lot, or “I’m a demigirl” if you’re mostly female but like “zie/hir” sometimes, or even “I’m cis” if this whole process ended with you going “actually, chest hair and Michael Bay movies are the shit.”

If Deep Essences of Ineffable Whatever are your deal, it’s cool. None of this blog post should be taken to say that you can’t go about having a deep essence of gay if you want to. But if you’re worried about being Fake Trans or Fake Gay or Fake Ace or Fake Bi… it’s fine. It’s just signaling. As long as you’re signaling what you want to signal, you don’t have to worry about whether you count or not. You do.

Like this:

Like Loading...

Read the whole story
squinky
1279 days ago
reply
Santa Cruz, CA
Share this story
Delete

Conferences and Crisis - Technoculture, Art and GamesTechnoculture, Art and Games

1 Share

At the end of April, in the midst of one of the worst academic crunch periods I’ve ever experienced, I travelled to California to attend the IMMERSe Medievalism and Video Games Symposium in the small town of Davis. I spent most of my first day grading papers, but managed to escape my hotel room for a few hours to attend a joint reception and launch event for the GameCamp Game Jam, an initiative organized by Amanda Philips and Josef Nguyen from the ModLab at UC Davis, in partnership with a local game development club. The project consisted of a series of workshops and prototyping sessions, all of which culminated in a month-long game jam on the theme “I can’t breathe,” a reference to the rallying cry against police brutality and systemic racism adopted by black communities and activists after the murder of Eric Garner. It was a provocative choice, and I wonder now, in retrospect, how many of the participants were prepared to deal with the full weight of that phrase. I suppose I’ll have to play the games to find out.

The symposium itself was spread over two days, the first of which was dedicated to the intersection of medieval studies and digital technologies. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this, having never attended a medieval studies conference before. Each presenter was given an hour and 45 minutes to present, including questions, and while that might have felt long in other contexts, the presenters were engaging and many of the issues raised, including the materiality of texts, mouvance (textual mobility/variability) in medieval and digital texts, the reprogramming of humans and human relations by information streams, the equation of technology and humanity, and the oscillation between modern enthusiasm and postmodern irony, were both relevant and accessible to those of us in the room who were not practiced medievalists.

By far the most memorable discussion that emerged however, at least for me, was about the status of the humanities and the future of academia as a whole in the face of the neoliberal regimes of late capitalism. The discussion was prompted by a paper on zombies and MOOCs (massively open online courses) by William Kuskin, and Neil Randall’s response paper, which focused on the difficulty of attaining funding for humanities research and the constant need to justify everything in terms of direct economic impact. In other words, why is it so difficult to get the Harper government to give us money? A number of people pointed out that the type of value provided by the humanities was not something that could be quantified, nor could the experience of teaching and learning in a traditional humanities class be replaced by more cost-effective solutions like MOOCs. Many expressed fear about the difficulty of communicating the relevance of humanities research and teaching to parents (who want their kids to get jobs), students (who need jobs), administrators (who want to extract as much “productive” labour as possible from their staff for the least amount of money), and the broader public (who are told repeatedly that their lives are tied to the health of the “economy,” narrowly defined). Others suggested that it would be more effective to “learn to speak their language” by adopting the lingo and know-how of more highly favored fields to explain our work and prove that we can “do what they do,” and more. Only one person argued that we shouldn’t be so willing to adopt the limited measures of value provided by market ideology.

neoliberal_banner

Source: <a href="http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/quebec-student-march-draws-larger-crowd-than-expected-1.888723" rel="nofollow">http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/quebec-student-march-draws-larger-crowd-than-expected-1.888723</a>

Eventually, frustrated by the defensive stance that so many in the room were taking, I decided to raise my hand. I suggested that perhaps the problem wasn’t that the humanities were irrelevant, but that they were, at their best, too relevant, too critical, and too much of a threat to the established order that the government was set up to protect. It’s not that we weren’t providing any value, or that that value wasn’t recognized, but that it was valuable to the wrong people, for the wrong reasons, and was valuable in a way that might run counter to the interests of the financial, corporate, and political elite. Rather than trying to defend ourselves in the face of institutions and structures that are never going to recognize us in the way that we want to be recognized, we should instead be going on the offensive and reaching out to the people whose lives we directly affect—to students and local communities—and empowering them to push for alternatives. I argued that the student movements in Quebec were an example of what is possible when people are given the time, the space, and the tools to think critically about the world they inhabit. This is what happens when the humanities are allowed to thrive. Why would the Harper government, or any other reigning power, want more of that?

A few people supported the idea that this defensive stance was getting us nowhere, and another student spoke up and stated, point blank, that from her point of view the humanities were already dead. Someone made the point that other fields and disciplines are struggling too, and that we shouldn’t assume we are the lone victims of austerity and privatization.

Source: http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=1425

Source: <a href="http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=1425" rel="nofollow">http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=1425</a>

Since then I have seen and read a number of things that have reinforced the idea that the university, as a social institution, is in a state of crisis. The values we’re told that academia is supposed to uphold and respect, such as academic freedom, social critique, and the advancement of knowledge, are increasingly either exposed as a farce, rejected, or redefined as universities focus more and more on job training, the acquisition of intellectual property, and entrepreneurship. Students are the customers and the products, pumped through a bureaucratic machine that burdens them with debt in exchange for marketable skills. From the point of view of employers, this is a great combination, since it produces workers in vast numbers who are both skilled and desperate. Not only that, but the farther up the academic ladder we go, the more we are trained to accept long hours, low (or no) pay, abusive working conditions, precarious employment, and arbitrary measures of productivity, all in the name of “passion” and “service.” This is not just my own opinion, but a view that is shared by an increasing number of academics, who have written about it in brilliant articles like “For Slow Scholarship: A Feminist Politics of Resistance through Collective Action in the Neoliberal University.”

phd050415s

Source: <a href="http://phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=1797" rel="nofollow">http://phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=1797</a>

I think as game scholars and students we may, to some extent, be sheltered from some of the worst realities of the neoliberal university (particularly in Quebec, where the game industry is booming and social support structures, thanks to a history of popular struggle, have still not been completely eroded). In June I attended the annual Canadian Game Studies Association (CGSA) Conference, along with a large number of other students and professors from the Mlab and TAG. Partway through we had a meet-and-greet for new members, and the room was completely packed. As the organizers noted, this was the largest CGSA to date, and the sense of excitement and congeniality as people discovered their peers, some possibly for the first time, was almost tangible. At the same time, given the current state of academia and of the game industry, I can’t help but wonder, “How long will this last”? How long will the boom years go on for, before the inevitable bust? What does it mean to be part of a growing field when the building is collapsing around us and the rugs are being pulled out from under our feet? Are we participating in a vast charade, trying to act as if we have long, productive, and fulfilling careers ahead of us when many if not all of us know that this is not the case?

Source: http://turbulentlondon.com/category/uncategorized/

Source: <a href="http://turbulentlondon.com/category/uncategorized/" rel="nofollow">http://turbulentlondon.com/category/uncategorized/</a>

Earlier today I read a short blog post by Liz Morrish called “A Feminist Leaves Neoliberal U.” In it, she states “In the speeded up university, with its distorted constructions of academic ‘productivity’, schedules are crafted to eliminate the necessary practices of caretaking.” In response to this, and other concerns, many of the people who participate in and value this type of work are leaving. However getting out may not be an option for everyone, and as the author points out, those who remain are often left more isolated and vulnerable as a result of the exit of critical voices. Thus the support networks that are devalued and undermined on the one hand are becoming all the more necessary on the other. So what do we do? Do we abandon ship, or do we try to keep sailing and ignore the fact that people are being swept overboard on a regular basis? Do we count on existing institutions to save us, or do we search out new possibilities? What would an alternative to the neoliberal university look like, and how do we get there?

Read the whole story
squinky
1292 days ago
reply
Santa Cruz, CA
Share this story
Delete

Hollywood Visionary

1 Share

I have been greatly looking forwards to Aaron Reed’s Hollywood Visionary, in which you play the founder of an ambitious new Hollywood studio in the 1950s, trying to make your first independent movie.

hollywoodvis

Visionary is a long way from the kind of bold innovation that I generally associate with Aaron Reed; it closely follows the Choice of Games house style (character-creation, multiple easily-wooed romance options, branch-and-bottleneck structure, a plot that follows a high-flying career, a relatively large granularity of action, capably unobtrusive prose). But within that range it does some atypical and cool stuff; it’s definitely among my favourite Choicescript works to date.

In the opening scene, you pitch your beloved movie idea to the head of an established studio, who always shoots it down: this is a small but effective negative-agency moment, a play on the CoG expectation of, basically, declaring what you want and being given it. Visionary is centrally about the artistic process, and what you’re willing to give up for your art; your political ideals, your creative control, friends, lovers or family, the favour or respect of your co-workers, solvency, health and peace of mind? The difficulty level, the need to compromise something, is pitched somewhat higher than is usual for CoG; the first couple of times I played, stress sent my character to the hospital.

It has,in toto, somewhat broader options in the sexuality / gender department than I’ve seen in a Choicescript game before – there is the possibility of a polyamorous ending, distinctions between various layers of gender expression, and you’re given the explicit choice to determine the gender and name of your love interests. Taken individually, none of this is massively audacious – they’re all next steps on an obvious trajectory, and other games have done similar things before – but taken together, and in the context of the 1950s, it’s non-trivial. While it doesn’t confront you directly with the worst of it, the game makes it quite clear that certain kinds of presentation, identity, relationship are hazardous in this era, and place an extra strain on an already-straining situation.

The really striking thing about Visionary is that its major subplot is about McCarthyism and the Hollywood blacklist, and that it draws strong parallels between the McCarthyite witch-hunt and certain contemporary reactionary movements in videogames. It doesn’t insist on the parallel in all its details; these are two separate things. But it does present the question: what does one do, as an artist, when you find yourself at risk of being targeted by unscrupulous radical conservatives, who might identify you as an enemy based on the most arbitrary and ridiculous of grounds, and who are eager to destroy anyone who doesn’t toe the line? How much of a stand are you willing to take for your art, or your politics, or on behalf of friends and colleagues who get it worse than you? If you’re going to take a stand, where should you make it? And how much damage is done directly, and how much by nervous moderates who don’t want to take a risk on controversial artists? The advantage of the Choicescript approach here is that this question gets presented not as a single cheesy dilemma, but a whole organic series of them, situated in a broader context of other needs. And it retains a much tighter, more personal focus than, say, the broad-survey approach of Choice of Robots.

Visionaryis not very good at depicting the actual movie you’re making, which is not surprising. This is a thing that most stories about artists struggle with, and it’s massively compounded by the player’s broad ability to choose between artists, genres and styles. It’s possible, I think, to make this work as a field for the player to fill in with their imagination; I fondly remember playing Sim Cinema Deluxewhich honestly offers considerably less information about each film you make than Hollywood Visionary does, and forming vague but fond imaginings of the movies. But Visionary‘s focus is so weighted towards things other than content that this never really figured for me. Similarly, the pace, scope and player-defined characters of CoG’s house style have always made strong characters difficult: some efforts have been made here to give the major romance options an existence beyond their roles as satellites of the PC. In an earlier post I talked a little about how Visionary‘s NPC-renaming attempts to pick out individual tokens of a character(I didn’t mention that the ‘pick a random name’ option didn’t seem to work properly, producing the same name for a given character every time). These are sensible steps to take, but they don’t overcome the basic difficulty.

There’s one sequence, round about the middle of the piece, which is obviously a homage to slapstick comedy of a certain era, although my knowledge isn’t good enough to identify its exact provenance: you’re at a party, a lapdog has stolen something irreplaceable, and capers ensue as you try to get it back. This stands out because, for a substantial period, the scale and pace of the action breaks from the big-jumps-between-major-decisions Choicescripty default and zooms in to lavish attention on a continuous train of action; it’s totally a set-piece, playing out much the same regardless of your choices up to that point. There’s a good deal more going on in this scene than comedy – it establishes Fish as your reliable ally, moves along an important subplot, it makes a point about being at Cool Parties with Famous People – but mostly this feels made out of a love for the form. A good deal of my initial interest in the game has to be ascribed to the sense that Aaron was having a great deal of fun making it.


Read the whole story
squinky
1304 days ago
reply
Santa Cruz, CA
Share this story
Delete

A Linguist Explains How We Write Sarcasm on the Internet

2 Comments

Gretchen McCulloch's previous linguistics columns for The Toast can be found here. They are all perfect.

Sarcasm. It's an Essential Part of a Healthy Breakfast™, but it's also "dangerous", especially in writing. What if ~no one~ gets that u are being sarcastic.

this is literally the most srs bsns question ever.

Right, okay, that's probably enough of the sarcasm voice. The point is, we can speak sarcastically by rolling our eyes or using a particular tone of voice, but what about writing? Why don't we have a sarcastic equivalent of a question mark or an exclamation mark?

Turns out, it's not for lack of trying.

There's a venerable history of proposals for irony punctuation. The backwards question mark ⸮ is probably the most popular: it was first proposed in the 1500s as the percontation point, and was subsequently re-proposed by several people in the 1800s as the slightly catchier irony mark. The 1800s also saw a proposed "oversize arrow head with small stem", the 1600s saw a proposal for an upside-down exclamation mark ¡, and the 1900s saw the Greek letter psi with a dot underneath (approximately Ψ̣ if my fonts would line up better). And it hasn't stopped: in the 2000s, we've already gotten proposals for both a lightning-bolt exclamation mark and a (proprietary) round-swirly symbol with a dot in the middle, the Sarc Mark. (You can read all about them in detail on the glorious Irony Punctuation Wikipedia article.)

800px-Ironie-Larousse-1897-p329

Irony mark as designed by Alcanter de Brahm in a French encyclopedia from 1905

But while these geniuses were coming up with fanciful additions to the keyboard, regular citizens were taking matters into their own, air-quoting hands. We've ended up with a whole lot of them, and for the most part they've been spontaneously invented by residents of the internet. Let's take a look — and then we'll get back to why these methods succeeded where centuries of proposed irony punctuation had failed.

Read more A Linguist Explains How We Write Sarcasm on the Internet at The Toast.

Read the whole story
squinky
1304 days ago
reply
lol
Santa Cruz, CA
Share this story
Delete
1 public comment
lelandpaul
1305 days ago
reply
<3
San Francisco, CA
Next Page of Stories