Some Books What I Read This Year And My Thoughts On Them (The Books)

I read a bunch of books this year in an attempt to make my brain bigger. Here are some of them.

1. 1984, George Orwell, 1984

I’ve never actually read 1984 before, although thanks to the magic of cultural osmosis I basically absorbed the entire plot and most of the catchphrases at some point over my adult life. In the last few years I’ve become an insufferably woke socialist so a lot of the themes of 1984, which it turns out actually run a lot deeper than what if surveillance, but too much were particularly resonating with me as I read it. The entire second part of the book, where George Orwell basically uses the flimsiest pretext to drop in a blatant self-insert character and writes an enormous essay called “HI READER, IT’S ME GEORGE ORWELL, CAPITALISM IS BAD”, is especially great.  

I started to wonder why this book was never taught in school to me or any friends I know, but quickly realised that there were probably two reasons for it. The first, that it directly asks the reader to question undemocratic social hierarchies and the artificial poverty which is deliberately created and maintained by a state of constant war and fear (hmm, doesn’t ring any bells); and the second, that every time the main character meets up with his girlfriend they absolutely go to town on each other and fuck like rabbits.

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Bethesda, Games Media, And The Uncouth Vulgarity Of Acknowledging Capitalism

Off the back of the critical and commercial success of DOOM, Bethesda have formally announced their intention to continue with a policy of providing media outlets with review copies no earlier than 24 hours in advance.

Their announcement (which quite tellingly offers no justification for the change other than “the game sold a shitload of copies, so fuck you”) is being met with no small amount of criticism from games media who have correctly labelled it as anti-consumer.

That’s not the issue. Of course it’s anti-consumer. It’s difficult to think of something more anti-consumer than to proudly brag about how your game is 100 hours long or needs to be played twice to be properly understood, while simultaneously doing everything possible to make customers pre-order a year in advance and to prevent media outlets from reporting on any possible shortcomings until it’s too late.

The problem is not that it is anti-consumer; the problem is that the industry as a whole is anti-consumer. It has been for a long time, and Bethesda’s formalisation of that anti-consumer position is doing for the games industry what Trump’s racism did for the Republican party: scandalising the establishment by saying out loud the racist things that were previously only conveyed through polite smiles and racist policy*.

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Common People

This post comes about as a result of watching three people who I sincerely love and respect – Patrick Stafford, Lance McDonald, and James Pinnell — discussing stuff on Twitter, so I want to be clear that this is not aimed at any of you three specifically but rather something that has been sticking in the ol’ craw for ages and needs to be put down in words.

I absolutely hate the idea that one internet community is objectively better than another.

(Or to put it another way, I hate the subtext here: the idea that one place where Humans Exchange Opinions somehow either creates, or is automatically populated, by Better Humans.)

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Maybe You’re An Arsehole

As I go through the old comics I have drawn over the years, sorting them, cleaning them up, getting them ready for public presentation, one thing becomes clear: I have, in the past, been an arsehole.

There’s no shying away from it, and I don’t have any excuses for it. It’s the ugly truth. I have been an arsehole.  I look back through my comics and I see that I have made jokes about self-harm. I have made jokes where “being gay” is the punchline. I have made jokes about “fake geek girls” — not ironically, but genuine gatekeeping bullshit.

(I have never made a rape joke. I am proud of that, I guess.)

These comics will not be seeing the light of day. I do not shy away from them and I do not disavow them. I am their author and I am responsible for them. But I am choosing voluntarily to censor myself and to not display them to the world.

Why do I do this?

I do this because I believe in improving myself. I believe in changing my behaviour as I learn new things. I believe in making others feel comfortable and welcome around me.

Here’s another thing I believe.

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An impassioned answer to the question that nobody was asking

Last week, Christina Sommers released a video as part of her series The Factual Feminist asking the question “Are video games sexist?” (A bizarre and inflammatory headline and not a question anybody has ever asked, but nevertheless). You can watch this video below.

Sommers’ video has seen overwhelming support from people who feel “social justice warriors” are taking over gaming, but she has also been labelled as a conservative and neocon by her critics. However, Sommers political leanings — and she’s a registered Democrat voter, for what it’s worth — are wholly irrelevant.

What is relevant is that the arguments she makes in her video are, despite the research cited, wide of the mark, ignorant, and largely irrelevant to current calls for better representation in gaming.

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