Sunday, 27 October 2013

Let me tell you about my cosplay hypocrisy

Very recently, I had a discussion/intervention on twitter regarding a piece on Buzzfeed, asking cosplayers at the recent New York Comic Con what's the creepiest thing someone said to you.And why he labelled the girls in that piece, disparagingly, as "victims." Because they dress in a eye-catching way, they should expect attention, sexual or otherwise. And woe betide them if they don't like being stalked and have the cheek to speak up about it, like the cosplay is not consent movement does. Now, if you're one of the 5 people who regularly read this blog, then you expected me to tear this ignorant victim-blamer  a new arsehole. But I'm not. Not in the way you think at least. Because firstly, he has enough problems as it is- being a writer for Ready Up. And secondly, because I used to hold the same opinion. Growing up is a gradual process, and sometimes it takes an outsider's view to point something out that's been right under your nose. So let me tell you about the time I was a hypocrite over cosplayers.

Many moons ago,  during my failed attempt at being a professional games writer, I did the easiest way for fledgling writers to get a whole bunch of game previews (and hopefully some networking with the PR bastards) in one go, going to conventions. There's loads of different games and publishers exhibiting, you don't need an invite from some marketing scumbag, you can usually go for free with a press pass. And if you can't, you can still pay to attend.
As is the case with non-paying sites and blogs, as well as "legit" gaming sites and mags, part of reporting from a convention will usually involve getting photos, if not interviews, with cosplayers. And although I appreciate the effort and creativity that goes into a good costume, I have never really been mad about copslay as a concept- and the close association it has with the, "That's so kawaii" anime/manga crowd anyway. But when you have to spend hours interview to them. Trying to get think of something other than, "how long did it take to make?" while breathing in the acrid vapours of the collective body odour of everyone inside the venue, having your ears assaulted by over loud anime themes or J-pop songs being bleated out of the tinny speaker of numerous mobile phones just exasperated that minor annoyance into full on anger, thanks to a cocktail of booze, sucking at my job and my overall hatred of loud, obnoxious teenagers. Since then I saw sense, quit games writing, going to conventions and drinking.  But I didn't think anything of my disdain for cosplayers.  It wasn't something I had to deal with any more, so why address it? I still thought it was a bunch of hyperactive weaboos, hopped up on too much Pocky and vicariously living through the personality of a fictional character because they have no personality of their own.  In short, I thought they were attention whores.

I honestly thought that the only reasons someone, especially women, would ever cosplay was because they were looking for a short cut to self confidence by dressing up as a popular genre character and feeding off the adulation of total strangers. So if they got some untoward comments, then that's just par the course. Even though, outside the confines of the convention centre, I would not have thought a woman on the street, wearing revealing clothing, was, "asking for it." But I figured, "If you didn't want attention, then you shouldn't have dressed up as Power Girl in the first place". In short, I was a fucking hypocrite. How dare these people spend their time, money and effort into a creative activity that they want to display at an event, solely created to celebrate the comic, movies, anime, and video games that so inspired them, and to allow people to look at them too? They must like Hitler, a nazi Hitler! Because it can't be anything wrong with my outlook on the situation, can there?

I guess  being so entrenched in geek culture for so long, I wasn't able to step back and see things more objectively with an outsider's view. And it was the viewpoint of someone heavily connected to geek culture, yet kept a outsider's perspective on it that made me realise what I hypocrite I was. That viewpoint belonged to Bruce Campbell. Yes, that Bruce Campbell from Burn Notice, The Evil Dead, Xena: Warrior Princess, and that bloke who told Peter Parker to fuck off in Spider-Man 2.

"We have Andrew Garfield now. Go home."

I was watching a Q&A video, with Bruce Campbell, when he pointed out the, seemingly de rigueur,  anime cat ears a girl was wearing, when she said, "I don't want to be one of "those" anime fans, but I had the ears lying around." To which groovy Bruce replied, "Those anime fans keep the lights on in this building."

It suddenly hit me, that I had let my own prejudices against a section of  fandom turn a blind eye to a line of thinking I already thought abhorrent.  Look how she was dressed. She was asking for it" Because if you think that any of the women and girls- yes, girls,because not every cosplayer is over 18- speaking out over being harassed, stalked or groped are just making mountains out of mole hills and it's all harmless fun, then your indifference is just as harmful as those boys, or grown males who should fucking know better, who think that  female  wearing revealing clothing is purely for their sexual kicks and whatever they say or do them is fair game. At best, it ignorance. At worst, victim blaming.

A convention is not a nightclub, and someone isn't purely dressed in a costume, of any description, isn't wearing it to attract a date, build a modelling career or feed off of the attention of horny males. As if male attention was some kind of quantifiable, valuable substance that must be protected at all costs, like that stuff everyone is fighting over in Avatar.

"They must not take our planets attention. DON'T LOOK AT THEIR TITS!"

For those guys out there, especially the younger ones, seconds away from jumping on their MRA-shaped soap box. Let me put it to you straight...No, there's nothing wrong with being attracted to someone. It's a perfectly normal, biological instinct. But, if you weren't aware, that girl you like is a human being, who didn't turn up for the sole purpose to be your future girlfriend. Which, by the way, is NOT a female conspiracy to deny you sex because she won't give you her number. And you'll do well to throw out those assumptions and maybe try talking to them like a person, not a sentient love-pillow? Instead of thinking the confines of the convention hall gives you a free pass to act like you're on a building site and you can cat-call any passing woman with gay abandon. Or follow her around because, just by speaking to you, she actually means, "Book the wedding!" Or taking pervy photos without her knowledge. They have just as much right right to be there as you, and such have the right to dress up and creatively express themselves without fear of harassment. No matter how annoying or attention seeking they appear to be to you. I woke up to my hypocrisy,  it's time you did too.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Anonymous guest spot: Support our arcade, just don't come to it.

Due to my increasing lack of spare time and talent, once again I have to rely on an actual, proper games journalist to keep the lights on, as it were. They get the chance to write about whatever subject they want, under the safety of having their identity hidden, for fear of having to return their GMA award.

Rodney Knacker is a jobbing games writer and meat-fed lummox. Originally the porn boy at OXyMoron Magazine until working his way up to cocktail snatcher, he know edits the newly relaunched Playstation Plus, "TITS, TITS, TITS!"

Support our arcade, just don't come to it

What's crackin' you mongs? Jokes, jokes, good jokes. But forget that because the hype thing to happen in gaming since Capcom nerfed the hitbox around Sentinel's dick in Marvey 3, the people at the punchy game tournament organiser, "Next Castle" have opened their own arcade. That's right bruv, that news is saltier than a salty biscuit that just spunked into the Red Sea, while eating a bag of ready salted pringles. Pringles, baby! When the old Tecmo Finger Bash arcade wanted to throw out all it's arcade cabinets, to make space for a Irish theme hotel, bare mans were vexed about the arcade scene in London dying, but thanks to Next Castle stepping in and getting all their members to fundraise the price of hiring a van, we were able to save all the good cabinets for our very own arcade, "Big Sticks"

It's the sickest thing ever bruv, for Next Castle to have been the boss of organising punchy-kick game tournaments in the London town to now running it's own arcade, getting hype for keeping the scene alive. They got all the classics, six Street Fighter 3 machines, four Street Fighter 4 machines, one Super Street Fighter 2, a knackered Ladybug and a DDR to bait some gals to turn up, so we can all chat about giving them a chocolate finger but be too scared to actually talk to them. All housed in our prime London location, a industrial estate on the outskirts of Tooting, sick pringles bruv!  Big Sticks is gonna be the sickest, saltiest kind of hype when it opens. Its even getting attention from the games press! Not from my magazine obviously -I'm too busy writing my latest, "You only hate Killer is Dead because you're skank at it" article to do that. But Big Sticks got covered in the Daily Reveal, the London Yell and the local paper, the Tooting Wafer as well as several websites and now this blog. That is both salty and peppery bruv! Hype! Salt!

Now days, the arcade scene is pretty much dead, so it's really hype to see people excited at Next Castle for not allowing the arcade to die. And being cool to set up a pay at the door, unlimited play set up for going to Big Sticks, so mans don't have to bring bare coins in their shell suit bottoms. And I see on my Bebo page mans are well hype for coming to Big Sticks, but here's the thing. It's sick that you want to spread hype about New Castle giving the arcade scene it's rebirth and it's sick if you're hype, salty and sick about playing, but you can't. Seriously though, don't come. No salt on your pringles!

That's not me trying to use pure jokes, I mean it. Don't come to Big Sticks to play the games, you don't belong and you'll only be waisting your, but mostly our,time. Everyone at Next Castle is proper dedicated to punchy-kick games, and that why it was the top organiser of tournaments in the outer South East London area -well, up until last Christmas when it stopped hosting regular tournaments when players stopped turning up. But anyway, the hype is back with the Big Sticks arcade now the saltiest players are all gonna come back and bring their wank-tier skills and greasy elbow techniques back to the punchy-kick game community. So we don't need any newbies, with their scrub, Sagat chicken cottage combos, taking up the valuable game time for the real players. Real players that study frame data, that don't spam shoto-biscuits and would never play a punchy-kick game with some blatant, regular game pad, like some  pussy 'ole. You got no place playing against us top players or daring to take up their valuable practise time by coming down to Big Sticks, paying actual, real  money for a one or two hour free-play session just to play your weak, scrub tactics when mans has got to work on his negative edge sexual harassment in between bouts of stalking Asian girls and trying to nobble Evo rankings. You ain't part of the real punchy-kick community, bruv. And you never will be, so don't ever come to play in our arcade.

Don't get me wrong, if you want to support the scene, then save up your coins for when Next Castle will probably set up a Kickstarter to pay the rent on Big Sticks can't be paid. So long as you stay away from our games, ok? Because we get hype, you get fucked.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Namco Bandai are good at PR

If there's one thing "core gamers" (for lack of a better term) tend to be less than welcoming about- apart from differing opinions, review scores and any minority within gaming- is the mobile gaming, free-to-play phenomenon that they fear poses a threat to the traditional gaming of buying a disc, which has been subject to the insidious trend of microtransactions as it is. So it wasn't much of a shocker when Namco Bandai's announcement that the latest  Ace Combat title, "Ace Combat Infinity" will be free-to-play went down like a feminist on youtube. So much so that, as Ace Combat Infinity's project lead, Kazutoki Kono told, Namco Bandai now refuse to talk about the F2P monitisation plan at all now.

 "We actually tried to explain the monetisation and how it works at first, but it made people confused and some people just said negative things because they didn't understand the whole of the game"
"That's why we actually stopped saying the details of it and are right now asking the players and media to try out the beta and see how it actually works as a game. Then we finally can get deeper into the details of the monetisation explanations."
And that doesn't sound remotely suspicious, does it? Right on the heels of the Xbox One, always-on DRM debacle, where most suspect Microsoft really don't understand what exactly it was they did wrong, Namco Bandai seem set on committing the same PR disaster of essentially telling fans, "Oh, you're worried about this new way we have for publishing a game? You maybe don't trust us not to nickle and dime your balls off? Well, we're doing free-to-play Ace Combat and fuck off! That's why!"
Everyone likes to have a laugh at the likes of Phil Fish kicks off like a bastard on twitter, but it's understandable at least. Indie developers are more likely to take criticism personally because they do so much of the work themselves and don't have the resources for a PR department. So it's all the more puzzling/ hilarious when someone from an established publisher undoes any potential goodwill done by the soulless, PR fucksters would try to put out. Although, in Namco Bandai's defence, it's a fucking miracle if any of their PR people tell you anything beyond the title and release date, so actually saying nothing would of been business as usual.  Not saying you're gonna say something like a bratty eight year old who's pissed their dungarees  in a huff because their schoolmate won't share their novelty pencil, "Well I'm not talking to you if you don't like our new F2P model, so there!"

As stupid and painful as it is to see developers and publishers repeatedly  miscommunicate and totally fuck up how they talk to their audience, part of me takes a perverse  glee at industry types crash and burning in spectacular fashion. Because they don't see it coming, that's the best part. The F2P by the nature of how games are accessed on phones works because those games are played in short bursts. So Ace Combat Infinity's idea of fuel running out and the player having to wait for more, or just pay for a instant top up,  doesn't necessarily ruin the flow of the game because your jet is refuelling while you get off the bus. Consoles are  stuck in the living room, so console games have always offered prolonged experiences. The first hints at using F2P ideas on home consoles have so far meant buying your game, only to find out bits of it have been cut off or locked on the disc so it can be sold back to you. And Namco Bandai's refusal to explain it doesn't exactly do much to put anyone's mind at ease that Ace Combat Infinity will be anything other than, at best, the wrong format choice or the kind of rip off that toddlers play to run massive bills on their parent's smart phones. I'm sure it's the former, not the latter, because everyone knows if you have a great product that loads of people will like, you don't tell them about it.