Category Archives: Rant

Appropriating Project Management Culture

I’ve always loved project management. Planning, execution, control, these are all things I’m very passionate about. I remember when I was just a wee lass, sitting on my father’s knee, working on Gantt charts together. I’d plan out everything from the building of Lego structures to breaking down how I’d spend my time at the park each weekend. Such good memories.

As I grew up, my passion for project management only grew. I read the PM body of knowledge guide yearly, tracked down all the articles I could as the Internet became a source of information. I wasn’t just a fan of one particular methodology – waterfall, agile, process-based… I did them all. I took all the PM-related business courses, got all the certifications I could. Now I stand here, a proud, lifelong project manager, working among people just like myself.

But something’s been happening. Something terrible. Outsiders are infiltrating my field.

The other day I met a woman at a project management conference. I only had to glance at her to know that she was new to this, she didn’t grow up immersed in the culture like I did. When I asked she couldn’t even tell me the date the first project management software was released. Maybe she should spend less time perfecting her winged eye-liner and overall presentation and more time learning important facts like these. I walked away then, as she clearly had nothing of use to say and wasn’t worth my time.

The next week, after meticulously researching her background, finding her on professional networks and asking other project managers about her, my worst fears were confirmed. She was new to this. She didn’t go to school for project management – she had a psychology degree! She also had other interests – reading, cooking, rock climbing, video games. How she has the nerve to call herself a project manager when she spends so much time on other, less schedule-driven, pursuits is beyond me.

How did she get here? From talking to people who know her, it seems she had started at an inferior position, then because people “enjoyed working with her” and “found her to be very competent and organized” some people started calling her a PM. I can only assume these phrases are euphemisms. Yeah, she “communicates well,” I’m sure. Hmph.

The thought of this woman, this FAKER, calling herself a project manager was bad enough, but I soon found out it was even worse than I expected. Over the last couple years she had managed (if you can call it that) a number of projects, for which she received financial compensation. She was paid! She doesn’t love project management, she isn’t a fan, she’s doing this for money! My stomach churns at the thought of hapless corporations handing over their hard-earned money to this phony, being taken advantage of, dazzled by her smart business suits and exceptional cheekbones. I don’t care if the project stakeholders are satisfied, if people are choosing to work with this wretched woman. She’s no project manager, and I’m sick of people like her using this thing that I love for their own personal gain.

This can’t be allowed to stand. I’m going to tell the world.

Mourning Rant

David Bowie has died. It hit me pretty hard, harder than any other celebrity death. He always seemed so ethereal, whether he was playing Jareth the Goblin King, Ziggy Stardust, or Phillip Jeffries. He’s an artist who was always evolving, always re-inventing, and the world is poorer for having lost him. Luckily, the influence he has had on music, popular culture and ideas about gender and sexuality aren’t going anywhere.

Content warning for the next part: discussion of underage sex/statutory rape

Yesterday, amidst bouts of crying over the Bowie’s death, and reading other people’s thoughts and memories of him on social media, something infuriating kept popping up. A few people kept bringing up a tumblr post, referencing a VH1 special that mentions Bowie had sex with a very young girl (13 or 14) while he was 23. Like, “hey everyone, I know you’re sad that an artist who means a lot to you has died, but check out this bad thing he did 45 years ago.” I saw a couple people tweet out this post and I just wondered…why? Why is it important to share this right now? Is it to tell people their heroes aren’t perfect? That they make bad decisions and are problematic like every single other person on the planet? Is it to detract from his career or his death? To say don’t feel so bad, he wasn’t that great a guy? I just don’t understand the motivation here.

While I agree that the trend of rockstars sleeping with young teenagers is gross, and something to be discouraged, it’s also important to take the thoughts and feelings of the girl in question into account. From the post:

at one point, Pamela Des Barres, the women who made the documentary, brings up Lori Mattix being young at 10:39 and that she may have gotten “overwhelmed” by the scene, but Lori gets very defensive and says she felt much older – it’s clear Lori Mattix doesn’t see what happened to her as rape or assault and as consensual…

My point here isn’t to defend the bad, most likely illegal, decision to have sex with a minor that the recently deceased made many years ago, but to question the decision of people who are still around to bring this up right now.

First of all, this is shitty timing. It’s just generally disrespectful to broadcast out to people who are in mourning that the person they’re grieving for did a bad thing once and try to undermine their feelings.

Second, I think it’s also shitty to the woman involved (Lori). Legalities aside, Lori didn’t see her sexual relationship with Bowie as a problem when she was a teenager, and still didn’t see it as a problem many years later during this interview as an older, and hopefully wiser, woman. It would be different if she looked back and said she felt taken advantage of or abused. There’s a huge problem in our culture of people not listening to women when it comes to sexual assault. Women are not believed or are blamed when they say they’ve been raped or assaulted and as a result, crimes go unreported and unpunished. The message, which is one I believe in, is that we should believe women. However, it also goes the other way. If Lori maintains the feeling that it was consensual, and doesn’t feel like she was taken advantage of, maybe we should believe her and not impose our own indignation on her experiences.

Pointing everyone to this extremely cursory post condemning a man who just died seems really cheap and opportunistic. And I honestly still don’t understand the motivation for doing it. Please don’t do this.

One Girl Gamer to Rule Them All

Walk with me, if you will, into the mire that is YouTube comments…

Well, that’s a shitty invitation if I ever heard one. Are you still here? As my YouTube channel has been growing, so has the amount of terrible comments. I guess you can say that’s to be expected, though that’s really fucking sad. Some comments are so awful they can be immediately brushed off as coming from terrible, sad, angry people, such as “Fuck this dumb hoe” or “Die you cam slut whore”. Though, I would ask everyone not to refer to these kinds of comments as trolling. “Die, bitch” isn’t trolling. It’s harassment. I share the worst comments on Twitter because I like to call out this stuff, but it’s kind of losing it’s novelty. Can you believe at one point I thought to myself “Hey, my first harassing comment, I’ve made it.” The Internet is gross.

Anyway, those aren’t the comments I want to talk about. There’s another kind of comment, a more sneakily sexist kind. It intends to be complimentary to a woman but it does so by putting all the other women gamers down. Things like:

“You’re the first girl I’ve seen review video games, and you’re great at it!” This one is puzzling and makes me assume you live under a rock.

“It’s nice that you don’t get too much into gender politics and focus on content.” As back-handed as it gets. I like you, because you don’t talk about things that try to make me see the world from someone else’s perspective. Also, it assumes that anything outside of gameplay mechanics is not real content and makes me want to talk about gender politics more.

“Nice to see a female gamer  who is about something more than sex appeal.” I suppose that if I were to wear more low-cut tops (of which I own many), my credibility would fly out the window. Everyone knows that being interested in games and wanting to look hot are in direct opposition to one another (just as these kind of comments are in direct opposition to the ones I receive that focus solely on my looks and ignore what I’m talking about).

“It’s so nice to find a female YouTuber who’s actually a fan of gaming” or “Wow, a girl who knows about games!” Because all those other women talking about games (which don’t actually exist according to commenter 1 above) are faking it. Hours and hours dedicated to videos and streams on a topic they don’t even like, those liars.

This last one is the one that bothers me the most. A compliment that depends on comparing you to other women and putting those women down isn’t much of a compliment at all. I’ve gotten it on my channel, I’ve seen it on many other women’s channels. A man will decide that this woman is the one true female gamer, to be put on a pedestal. This woman knows what she’s talking about, she really loves games, she doesn’t spend too much time talking about things they don’t like. She stands head and shoulders above all the other women, who pretend to like games for attention or to push their social agendas. She’s real, and the rest are fakes.

This kind of thought process is really sick and kinda scary. Women gamers aren’t some special fucking unicorns.  They’re everywhere and what they wear, or the games they prefer, or whether they’ve been playing games for 1 year or 30 doesn’t make any one of them better or more real than any other. If you like me because I talk about retro games, shitting on the women who don’t doesn’t make me feel special, it makes me think you’re an asshole.

There’s this pressure to respond positively to these kinds of comments because hey, they like my stuff, they’re trying to be nice. But these really aren’t compliments, this isn’t nice. I mean, at least they’re not calling me a whore? That’s a pretty fucking low bar, because comments like these are indeed sexist. What if men on YouTube were treated the same? What if each viewer felt that there could only be one true male gamer, and the rest were garbage? There would certainly be a lot less content to chose from. Want to see more women talking about games? Stop making it a competition. Of course, I don’t think that seeing more women in games is really the desired outcome from the people who make these kinds of comments.

Tips for Commenting on YouTube

  • Stay on topic. If you’re watching a game review, a comment about the presenter’s appearance is not necessary. Also, unless the video specifically mentions your penis, never bring it up in a comment.
  • If you want to compliment the YouTuber, tell them why you like their video or opinions. Don’t compare them to other YouTubers, or put other people down.
  • Don’t send a private message when a public comment will do. It creates more pressure and is kinda weird. You can’t force a personal relationship.
  • Watch the whole video before commenting. If you’re going to ask a question or try to teach the video maker something about what they’re talking about, and it turns out that gets mentioned later in the video? You’ll look dumb.
  • If you want to insult or threaten the YouTuber, just go take a fucking walk instead. 

Censorship in Video Games

There’s currently a movement going on in games (no, not that one) called 1 Million Gamers Strong for Japanese Gaming. It’s a petition to a number of Japanese developers to a) release their games in the West and b) not modify their game’s content for release in the West. On the surface I don’t see anything wrong with this. Other than the name, because based on the petition it should be called something more along the lines of 7 Thousand Gamers Strong for Japanese Gaming. But otherwise, it’s cool. I personally won’t sign because I don’t care that much about any of the games that aren’t being released or think any changes are altering the fundamental nature of the games, but to each their own. Some of the changes being rallied against are: lack of release of Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 in North America, removal of skimpy optional costumes for a 13 year old character in Xenoblade Chronicles X, and removal of a close-up butt slap of R Mika in Street Fighter V. For more examples and a look at censorship vs. localization check out this investigative article.

R Mika Street Fighter

What I do have a problem with is who is being blamed for Japanese games being modified and how easily the word censorship is thrown around. Big surprise, the supporters of this campaign (who seem to have some overlap with that other gaming movement) are blaming the evil games media and those darn SJWs for any changes to games that come out of Japan. Will some people criticize a game for over-sexualizing female characters? Sure. Do developers have to listen to those critics? Nope. So, while I think petitioning a Japanese developer to not change things is all well and good, assigning blame to people who have no control over the games is not.

ESRB

Let’s talk a little bit about the Entertainment Software Ratings Board, which can influence games to modify their content. Its rating system encompasses guidance about age-appropriateness, content, and interactive elements in Canada and the US. It was created in 1994, as a response to concerns about violence in video games. Though it has no legal authority to enforce retailers sales policies, Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony all refuse to allow games rated Adults Only (AO) to be published on their platforms and most retailers won’t stock these games either. AO ratings are given to games that are found to contain high amounts of content that is violent, profane, sexual or pornographic. Because many game companies and retailers won’t publish or sell AO games, it’s in the best commercial interest for games to not be rated AO. So, sometimes the most extreme content gets removed. Examples of this include Indigo Prophecy removing full frontal female nudity to obtain an M rating in 2005, and Manhunt 2 removing some of the more graphic violence to obtain an M rating on consoles in 2007. Few games have been given an AO rating, though funnily enough there’s one that I did QA for and captured footage to submit to the ESRB on the list.

Game companies can get in trouble for misrepresenting the content of their game to get a lower rating, and in Canada the law prohibits the sale of M or AO-rated games to people under a certain age. But there’s no law that says Microsoft can’t publish or sell an AO rated game. If there was, that would be actual censorship. But as it stands, these actions are voluntary. If people have problems with these kinds of changes, that’s fine, but blame is often miscast. When the ESRB was started in 1994 no one had heard of Anita Sarkeesian and the phrase “gamers are over” had yet to embed itself in the minds of scared gaming fans everywhere.

Slippery Slope

One of the arguments that gets brought up often is that game modifications (not calling it censorship, because it’s not) are a slippery slope. If a developer feels pressured to take out a gratuitous ass close-up today (though since developers stay mostly silent on this issue we can’t even be sure that they are feeling pressured), what changes will they have to make tomorrow? Here’s the thing… games have been modified to take cultural differences into account since the beginning. Sexual content has been removed from games that come from Japan to North America. Violence has been removed from games that go from America to Japan. Drug references have been removed from games sold in Australia. Some games made in Japan just don’t get released here – Mother, Policenauts. It wasn’t due to delicate Western sensibilities, it just didn’t work out that way.

xenoblade chronicles x lynlee

Nintendo specifically has a long history of modifying games to bring onto their consoles. Deja Vu, a game which initially came out for Mac in 1985 had visual references to alcohol, drugs and blood removed from the game. Maniac Mansion, first released for DOS in 1987, removed all sexual innuendo (and as a result was a lot less funny) on the NES. Super Castlevania IV (1991) removed crucifixes and clothed a naked statue for the North American release of the game (compared to the Japanese version). Reign of Fire (2002) was cut in order to obtain a Teen ESRB rating for the Gamecube, while it was left alone and rated Mature on other consoles. Nintendo has historically been a company that sells itself as family-friendly and makes changes to games to make them both culturally and age appropriate. Small changes like removing an optional skimpy costume or changing a character’s age seems exactly like something Nintendo of America would do and consistent with their history – no SJW boogeyman necessary.

It’s not just Nintendo. Let’s take one of my favourite games – Snatcher, developed by Konami. Between its release in Japan in 1988 and its release in North America in 1994 a ton of changes were made. A female character (who you see almost naked in the Japanese version) has her age changed from 14 to 18 and appears less naked in the NA version. The naked breast of another female character was covered up. Also, a controversial in-game meal of whale meat was changed to buffalo meat. Why? Because Japan and North America are culturally different and find different things weird. There were also a ton of changes made for copyright reasons so Konami didn’t get sued.

So, we’ve got a character’s age changed and a naked breast removed in Snatcher in 1994. And now a character’s age has been changed in Bravely Default in 2014 and some bare asscheeks shifted out of frame in Street Fighter V in 2015. Hmm… 21 years, exact same types of changes to games coming from Japan to North America. This slippery slope doesn’t appear to be all that slippery. In fact, it seems more like a plain.

So…

If people want to petition Japanese game companies to not modify their content when bringing it to North America, that’s A-okay with me. I have no problem with it (though to be honest, if you’re really that upset about not being able to put a 13 year old video game character in a bikini I may question your life choices). However, target your energy at the companies actually making the changes, don’t scapegoat the “hostile” media and the mean feminists who may be critical of the games. People will criticize games – whether it’s about sexualized characters, bad writing, or shitty game mechanics – and that’s a good thing. If we want video games to be accepted as an art form, protected from censorship, we need to accept that criticism is an important part of art. Criticism is what pushes a medium forward and asks it to be better. It’s what relates video games to the rest of the world. If gaming companies change their content or don’t want to release their games here because they can’t handle criticism or want to avoid it altogether, that’s on them.

Dragon Age: Injudicious

Dragon Age: Inquisition was one of my favorite games of the year last year. It had its shortcomings to be sure, but there was enough sweet story and charming interactions with other characters to make up for it. Plus, it was a Dragon Age game!

I played through the game once. However, it was a 300 hour playthrough. I did everything. I always meant to play again. I wanted to choose the Templars instead of the mages, I wanted to have another romance (or 7), I wanted to let the Chargers die and leave Hawke in the Fade. I want to find out who the hell this Blackwall guy is that I totally missed. But, after 300 hours of playing I needed a nice, long break from the game.

I finally went back to it this past week when the Trespasser DLC was released. I picked up all three of the DLC packs and hopped back in. I started with Jaws of Hakkon. This was a mistake. I wish I never played (or paid for) this content. The few hours of gameplay it offered put a spotlight on all of the annoying aspects of the game and offered none of the good parts. It also made me re-examine the game as a whole.

We all know where Dragon Age shines. It’s in the conversations, friendships, romances, and rivalries with your companions. It’s in the choices you make and seeing the results of those choices in the world. It’s in the banter. It’s in shaping an Inquisitor into what you want her to be. The rest, looking back at the game a year later, is kind of shit. Open world was a huge mistake. Adding the ability to jump (and making it use the same button as interactions) introduced all kinds of annoyances. Collection quests are bullshit. Inventory management and the crafting process are annoying (even if the gear is pretty). The codex… fuck the codex, I shouldn’t have to read a novel to understand what’s going on. Making your average conversation with an NPC have a free-roaming camera instead of fixed, more “cinematic” fixed camera angles make conversations feel cold and unengaging. Combat could be okay, if every fight didn’t take a million years and feel exactly the same. Also, I’m pretty sure this game gave me a repetitive strain injury from clicking left stick every 3 seconds to look for items.

DAI map

There’s just so much shit to get through in order to get the parts that make the game worthwhile. Jaws of Hakkon just added another huge, open map with more shards to collect and too much combat and travel time, with nary a glimpse of what makes Dragon Age charming. And it made me realize…that’s what 90% of my experience with the main game was.

I continued on to play through the other DLC. The Descent was good. It didn’t fall into the same traps that Hakkon did. It was nice and linear, there was more story and interaction with other characters. I actually got to see close ups of characters I was talking to during conversations. There was still some shitty collecting of gears but there was an actual purpose to it (opening doors) and you didn’t need to get every single one. It did have a lot of boring combat and for some reason there are no walls in the Deep Roads, meaning I Leaping Shot to my death about a billion times. If you don’t play an archer, Leaping Shot is the most fun and visually appealing ability, plus it makes noise like bowling pins being knocked over, so not using it is not a reasonable option. However, the DLC was decent. Some of the Dragon Age Charm was there.

Trespasser is the last story DLC so I expected a lot of story. For the most part I got it. It had a number of charming bits. Seeing my companions again after so long was nice. Though when I met up with my boo Cullen, I said hello then 3 seconds later we were married. That was a bit jarring. It was great to go to the theater with Josephine and the spa with Vivienne, to hear the bard sing again. Then there was a bunch more combat in more high up areas with no walls. Lots of falling. The end was alright, though it’s the narration during the credits that ended up being my favourite part of the whole thing. Cassandra’s great. Makes me almost want to play the game again to romance her.

However, I think I’m done with my Inquisition experience. Going back for the DLC made realized just how much useless, un-fun filler is in the game and I just can’t bring myself to take part in that again. No matter how much I want to kiss all my companions.

Top 5 Gaming Pet Peeves

I’ve got a new video up about my top 5 gaming pet peeves. Who doesn’t like talking about things that bug them in games?

If you’re not a video watcher, my pet peeves (right now) are:

  1. Games that don’t let me invert the Y-axis.
  2. Episodic games.
  3. Durability and gear repair.
  4. People who constantly correct you about minor details, or try to “teach” you about a game that you clearly already know a lot about.
  5. Quibbling about review scores.

Feel free to share your pet peeves!

 

Things I Don’t Get About Gaming: Respect for One’s Time

So here’s something I’m becoming more and more perplexed by as time goes on – gaming’s relationship with time. More specifically, the relationship between time and enjoyment.

I’ve talked before about how I find it strange that “short” is so often used as a criticism of games, or something included in the negative column of a review. I’ve actually made a whole video about it. I love short games. They don’t overstay their welcome, you have less of a chance to get bored. There’s less “busy work” like fetch quests or loot grinding. If it’s a story-focused game, the narrative is usually tighter. That’s not to say I don’t like long games too – I love a lot of those but honestly I probably would have enjoyed Witcher 3 or Dragon Age: Inquisition more if I spent 50 hours with them (which is still a very long time) rather than 100+. Did looking for weapon and armor patterns or shards add anything to the game but extra playtime? Not really.

Destiny loot grind

Today there was an opinion piece about Destiny over on Polygon. My history with Destiny is quite short. I picked it up not long after release and gave it a fair shake. It looked nice – not exactly glowing praise. Are there really any current gen AAA games you can’t say that about? The shooting mechanics were solid. The story was almost non-existent, and what little there was was wedged into a phone app rather than in the game. The gameplay got repetitive and boring real quick. Playing alone was dull. Playing with a friend (who outleveled me) was dull (and full of death). Loot grinds are dull. Plus, the number one strike against games for me right now – it doesn’t end. So I quit. This was not the game for me.

Anyway, one quote from this article made me kind of sad.

I’m like many of you in that I only have an hour, maybe two, of non-working game time every night. So I tend to play games that allow me to make some forward progress in that time. Diablo 3 was a perfect game for that rhythm, as you could play a little here and there and always gain a bit of level or some loot.

Destiny actively pushed players like me away with its endgame leveling scheme, which depended on an arcane “Light” system. You were completely reliant on random item drops to level up and, while there were certain things you could do to maximize your time, if you didn’t pull any good items in your evening of playing, you were sunk. The time was all but meaningless.

It felt like a grind that ended with a slot machine that would determine whether or not you wasted your time. It sucked, and it sucked hard.

I understand that things like gears and levels serve as both goals and rewards in games. However, shouldn’t the simple act of playing the game be something worth your time? Shouldn’t playing be fun? Fun might be a bit reductive – but it should be engaging, or entertaining, or thought-provoking, or interesting. If the time you spend with a game is only worthwhile if X happens (you get a piece of gear, you gain a level, you get an achievement, you win) but is considered a waste of time otherwise, is that a good game? Does it deserve your time?

Say you play for an hour. At the 58 minute mark you get a piece of gear. Whether it’s useful or not will certainly impact your enjoyment and mood for those last 2 minutes of the game. But what about the first 57 minutes, before the loot dropped. Were you enjoying yourself? If not, why are you playing?

My thoughts on this have evolved over the years. I can think of many, many times in World of Warcraft where I spent hours in a raid and was just miserable the whole time (heroic Garrosh springs to mind). These times weren’t contained to a certain tier or xpac, there were lots times I spent in WoW that were unequivocally NOT FUN. But I did them for some larger goal – an achievement, a boss kill, a better arena ranking.

Now I’ve come to a point where if I were to play a game for 2 hours and consider my time wasted I don’t think I’d be going back to that game. Life’s short. There are a lot of games to play.

What do you think? Is it worth it to power through uninteresting gameplay, to do things you consider a waste of time, in search of some bigger in-game goal? The more work you put in, the better the “win” will feel? Or do you think games should always be fun (or at least interesting) to you in some way?