E3: Now with more rape jokes!

In an absolutely brilliant move, someone on stage at the E3 conference made a joke about rape. A female player was onstage demonstrating a fighting game, and the terribly scripted dialogue was more than cringe-worthy.

“Just let it happen; it’ll be over soon.”

[EDIT: The video I embedded is broken, so check out the one on Kotaku]

I haven’t really posted about rape jokes before, but in a post-Dane-Cook-being-an-asshole world, they’ve become their own thing.

You can find years’ worth of reading on them all over the Web. These are some of the best, if you’re interested.

If you’re not, here’s a little wrap-up:

They’re often labelled as edgy and hilarious. But they’re really just tired, outdated and sad, much like the people who insist on making them.

Rape jokes aren’t okay. They’re not the equivalent of an edgy “your mom” joke. Rape, believe it or not, has victims.

Putting this drivel on stage at a huge tech conference is just another way to say that it’s for straight men only, kthxbye. It’s another way to say that we play by frat boy rules, or we don’t play at all.

I’m sick of it. I’m waiting for the day when humor is funny again, and not just the same old misogynistic refrain.

Update: Apparently the rape joke wasn’t scripted. I’m not sure that this makes it less offensive.

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Facebook privacy settings aren’t that difficult, I promise

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Maybe it’s because I’m a Millenial and I was raised on tech and over-sharing. Maybe it’s because my life is relatively dull—no illegal substances, no scandals, minimal drama. But I really can’t wrap my head around why people freak out over Facebook sharing settings.

There has to be some sort of expectation at this point that Facebook is going to sell pretty much whatever information it has about you. And really–does it even matter that Best Buy knows that you like action movies? They’re not going to raid your home with a display case of movies they’ll force you to buy. They’re just going to show you more relevant ads.

More often than not, it seems like people are just getting squicked out about their “rights” (please imagine dramatic finger quotes) to privacy instead of the actual micro-shares that are taking place. Let’s be clear: You definitely have a right to privacy. But if you put something on a social network, you’re giving up a piece of that right.

If you find yourself still questioning Facebook privacy, it’s a good thing you’re here. I have a definitive guide to understanding privacy options on Facebook:

*Don’t post it if you don’t want it seen. It doesn’t matter what your privacy settings are. If you don’t want it seen,  leave it entirely off of Facebook. This advice is repeated more often than “Don’t shoot your eye out” around Christmas (and is starting to sound just as corny), but people still don’t seem to understand. Don’t want your boss to see you bitching about that customer? Tell your friends in private. It’ll make a better story than a post anyway.

*Understand the nature of the beast. Facebook is a business, and its currency is data. When you give them something (birthday, email address, information on what products you like), they’re going to use it somehow. They’re not making their money by ad sales as much as they’re making money by knowing you. If this makes you uncomfortable, that’s okay. Stop feeding the machine.

*Craft a public image. Since we’re assuming that everything is going to be seen by everyone, go ahead and think of yourself as your own PR expert. Unpleasant things like your political opinion, that fight you had with your husband and your child’s poop don’t belong on Facebook. If you really want to create a space where you can talk about that, consider a more private application.

Hopefully that’s helpful if you’re privacy paranoid. Thoughts? Opinions?

In defense of embracing labels

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Confession time: I haven’t always called myself a nerd. In high school, I would’ve called myself “studious,” and then gone back to outlining my essay comparing the treatment of women by Tolkien, Hemingway and Scott. After that, I went home to play Need For Speed on the PS2. But you know, I wasn’t a nerd or anything.

Once I got to college, I got even more into video games, and even more into traditional nerdy stuff. I still tried to be conventionally cool, but I also tried learning Elvish. Weekend consisted of epic Risk games just as often as they did of parties and shopping. I didn’t constrict myself to “being” anything.

Then, I met a lovely nerd who loves me. And, my life got even nerdier. The first time I played Dungeons and Dragons is almost as fond a memory as setting up my first dorm room. I branched out from Risk and started playing Dominion and Carcassone. The Spiel des Jahres seal (which represents the German Game of the Year) started meaning something to me.

And that, dear homies, is when I started calling myself a nerd.

It was enlightening. I allowed myself some nerdy t-shirts (but only when I felt “worthy” of a fandom), and started skipping a couple classes every month to get some more video game time in with my best friend.

Today, I’m rocking a black sweater and Batman earrings. I’m going home and reading comics in my Superman pajamas. Thursdays are  Minecraft days during lunch at work. Let’s not even talk about how many video games I manage to squeeze into a week.

The main difference when you’re not afraid to label yourself is that it’s easier to find something in common with people. Sure, they might not actually be nerds, but they may have a tabletop game obsession, or go home to play an MMO. It’s a conversation easy button, which is great when you’re not particularly conversationally adept like me. I’m grateful to everyone who takes the time to talk about their own hobbies with me. Labels also give you room to grow inside a community. Maybe you’re into hobby trains or tea, or makeup. If you embrace a community, you instantly get to experience your hobbies in a new light.

Obviously, we’re all more complex than our labels. But sometimes labels-as-shorthand can be incredibly helpful! Thoughts?

Things I Fangirl Over: Dollar store edition

Guys, seriously. Every time I go to the dollar store, I imagine writing blog posts about it.

  • “How I learned to stop paying more than $1 for dish soap”
  • “I’m never paying more than $1 for this shit again”
  • “Unicorn poop and glitter! $1!”
  • “I laugh in your general direction for paying $3 for cleaning supplies”

See? The possibilities are endless! Much like the dollar store’s awesomeness! Let’s talk about everything you can buy,  for just $1.

*Wine glasses. Perfect for those who didn’t put wine glasses on their registry. They’re also great for decorating for bachelorette parties and anything else you choose to do with glass paint and near-disposable wine glasses!

*Crackers. Yeah, I know, it’s weird. But seriously, have you ever had expensive crackers? They taste like crap. Go simple, go cheap. You won’t regret it! Plus, they come in these cute containers with swivel tops.

*Carpet deodorizer. Okay, so it’s basically scented baking soda, but it’s scented baking soda for ONE DOLLAR. Epic.

*All cleaning supplies. You think that chemical filled shit expires? Nope. No reason not to pick it up for the lovely dollar store price!

*Grooming products like hairbrushes, bobby pins and hair ties. If you have difficult hair, this might not be the best solution for you. The bobby pins aren’t quite as durable as their $3 counterparts. However, if your hair just needs to be held back (and doesn’t fight with you), they’re great!

Alas, some of us must buy our self-esteem $1 at a time.

Alas, some of us must buy our self-esteem $1 at a time.

*Salt. Fun fact: the dollar store has sea salt and regular salt in the same sized containers as your local grocery. Sometimes, it even goes on sale as a 2-for-1. The awesomeness…is overwhelming.

*Seasonal décor. I’ve come to terms with the fact that in my apartment, sometimes it’s easier to get disposable things than keep them. My inner tree-hugger cries a little, but my fear of becoming a hoarder rejoices. Whether it’s decorations or disposable seasonal plates, the dollar store has your jam.

*And speaking of jam…condiments! I only buy Simply Heinz, so not ketchup, but backup condiments like mustard, barbecue sauce, syrup, hot sauce, syrup, you name it, are all at the dollar store. Some are generic brands, others aren’t. I like to get a good mix (meaning I grab whatever they have).

*Canned foods. Seriously, it’s got to be the same as the stuff in the regular grocery store. Good enough for me!

What’s your greatest dollar store find? Have you gone recently? Do dollar store burritos make you feel icky inside?

Sometimes a Furby is just a Furby

Demonic eyes, much?

The Furby perched silently on the closet shelf. No longer was it begging me to play that weird game that never actually worked for me, or to pet it, or for God’s sake, just give it all my attention. Some of my attention. Any of my attention.

I could tell you that in staring at it I saw how what was important to a child didn’t matter to an adult. I could tell you that it was the grand metaphor of my life—that what I had once strived to be the best at (Furby care, natch), didn’t even warrant more than an annoyed look now that I was in college. That glance should’ve been poignant; it held all and simultaneously none of the mysteries of growing up. It should have occurred to me that it was a symbol that the old me was now gone, wrapped up in purses and clothes and cello lessons; not taking care of freaky toys that crave attention more than Lindsay Lohan.

But—I’m not that deep.

All I felt at that moment was a stab of annoyance that it was in my way, trying to make me feel guilty for not taking care of the inanimate (yet somewhat possessed) former toy of the year. The Furby sat, glaring at me, unblinking and unforgiving.

Then—it leaned forward. “Furrrrbyyyyyyyy,” it wailed.

Damn, I thought. How long do those batteries last?

 

Why you won’t find my gamertag

I play a variety of games on Xbox almost every night, assuming carpal tunnel hasn’t claimed my fingers by the end of the 10 hour work day. I’ve played online a total of four times in my life, all from my husband’s account (and thus his manly-sounding gamertag). Three of those times were so that Commander Shepard could have a better chance at saving the galaxy, the fourth was a round of Call of Duty with Zach’s friends.

For a long time, I thought it was just me, that I was being silly, to put it nicely. After all, I am a quiet sort of person, though I wouldn’t describe myself as reclusive by any means. I enjoy people, and I’ve participated in online forums since I was a youngster on Neopets. But Xbox Live just isn’t for me.

Have you heard of the site Fat, Ugly or Slutty? It chronicles the types of things that men (and boys) say to the women (and girls) who play online. When women do well, they’re most likely rewarded with particularly crass insults about their sex lives and/or bodies. When they’re simply identified as female, they’re often asked to show fellow gamers their umm…assets. Communiques range from the sad “do u want to be my xbox live gf?” to the disturbing, to the downright creepy. Some of them even think they’re being nice and complimenting a player (Here’s a hint: If she’s not your girlfriend or wife in real life, she doesn’t want to know your opinion of her chest).

Beyond the fact that these idiots are more likely to get struck by lighting while shaking hands with Mitt Romney twice than to receive a positive response to these sorts of propositions, these types of insults are ruining gamer culture. They’re completely unnecessary for the gaming experience, and they’re the worst sort of distraction from what games are trying to accomplish.

Men, of course, are the subject of Xbox Live ridicule, too. I’m not trying to downplay any bad experiences they’ve had. I’m guessing some individual men have had horrible, awful things happen to them while playing online. They may have even had to give up a game. But, overall, the pattern of threats, insults and sexual harassment seem to happen much more to female gamers.

And, honestly, my life is fine without any of that. I’ll just keep sneaking around using Zach’s ever-so-manly gamertag with the mic off when I need some extra points for a campaign mode. I’ll stand back and salute the women who choose to play online. They’re braver than I am. Maybe someday the culture will be able to police itself or control its members. Maybe games will even start implementing systems like the ones suggested in this Jezebel article. Send me a raven, though, because I’ll be offline.

A young gamer (doesn’t) grow up

Ahh, childhood

I wish I could tell you guys about the first time I picked up a controller and played a video game. I wish that it was inspiring, that I could tell you that I loved it instantly and people stood back, in awe of my 8-bit prowess.

But the truth is–I don’t remember a time in my life before I played video games. I’m not sure how early my parents stuck the controllers in our tiny hands, but my sister and I were so young that I’m pretty sure we chewed on them a little before we got down to business.

There’s a picture of my sister pointing a plastic gun at our tiny television while I sit nearby in a diaper, intently watching. For awhile, I think, we played Duck Hunt more often than Mario because the one-button controller was easier to handle.

When we started playing Super Mario Bros, though, shit must have gotten real. I don’t remember the first time, though, I just remember that as we aged a bit we played it more and more often.

Mario was a dance, and it wasn’t icky to do it with your sister (though you did have to take turns on the floor). We knew when to jump in the bee level and when to swim lower in the water levels. We instinctively picked up on the fact that warp level were cheating, but sat in awe of our father when he cleared the game by using them.

As for my sister and I–we never finished a single game. That’s what happens when there are no save files, kiddos. Thanksgiving would end, and we’d be packed from one house with a console to the next. We got pretty far at Christmas once, but the last level was just too much. Besides, we had more fun polishing our skills on the lower levels.

That was a simpler time, when we didn’t know that games were for boys or that we weren’t really supposed to be playing them. We didn’t know they were geeky and nerdy, we didn’t know that it made us less cool to spend so many afternoons with those square controllers. We just knew it was fun.

Fast forward to today, and not much has changed. Except now I always finish games, and I can’t play quite as long thanks to budding carpal tunnel. Games have always been, and always will be, a part of life for me. It’s something that my husband and I can do together, and it’s something we can do when we need some alone time.

Moral of the story? Give a writer a blog, and she shall ramble. Other than that, pick up your favorite old school game and enjoy a little nostalgia!