Thursday, 28 August 2014

Birds Fly (Whisper to a Scream)


Yeah, there goes August...

Surprisingly, many things have gone exactly as planned this month. The writing has been one of them, though there'll be no more talk of novels until the kids return to school and I can get some clear air, because REALIST and ONLY SO MANY HOURS IN THE DAY (insert sanity break here.) Today, we return after an absence due to not being pissed off with anything enough in the Real World to want to rage about it on a Blog. That's how this seems to work. It's Therapy for my Brane when the gaming blogging won't cut it.

Surprisingly I'm not writing about the Death of Gamers either, before you ask.

Yesterday, Twitter released an analytical tool it has been playing with quietly for some time. Basically, it tells you who is looking at your tweets, and when, and what happens when they do. It is the equivalent of ignoring the frantic requests to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain and allowing people to understand just how important their words are IN REAL TIME. A great deal of the problems currently on the Internet, like it or not, are wrapped up in two intractable factors: how fast you can respond to a thing, and what you say in reaction to said thing. This is where it all counts, the reaction and the meaning. From the brief time I've been playing I can inform you immediately that if you're not getting your point across on Twitter using pictures (or indeed video) you really are doing it wrong. Even Twitter know this, and that's why Twitter Cards are big business for advertisers.

Images matter far more than words in the current climate, and yet I don't see anyone threatening female game designers with photo montages. Words have become the cheap and easy way of scaring, when that shouldn't be their job at all. Except it should, but not in this context, and here is my point.





The cheap and nasty threats that are being written about those who challenge the perceived status quo of the World around us come from the mouths of ignorant cowards. They are morons, incompetents who think the only way words can hurt is when they are blunt, when used as the most basic of weapons. No-one should be put in danger by words but still they have a way to destroy trust and mangle common sense. The truth, it seems, more and more is the damning pictorial evidence, even if it is neutered or often Photoshopped into a version of reality that simply doesn't exist in the Real World. People will only read, it seems, if there is a threat or a motivation. The picture becomes easier to digest, more palatable because it is often impossible to hide a deeper meaning and people are growing tired of the noise the words make around them. Others walk away,  and somehow feel that not taking part in life is easier or more preferable because it all becomes too much.

This is the legacy we are creating for our children, and although some of it is laudable, other parts are clearly dangerous. It is time to learn how to live in this new World of Words and Pictures, and not pretend neither of them actually exist. It is the moment to understand that if you allow words to drive your fears, there will be no space left to love them any more, they will lose some of their lustre. It is, more importantly, learning how you use them to fight back, to make as much noise as the people who seek to drown you out in ignorance. Ironically, it is tools such as Twitters analytics that will give people the ability to understand what they say and how it is heard in the Modern World. The future is in data management, of demographic surveillance. You only need to look at the experiments Facebook has undertaken on users to understand the significance this data already has on the world we live in.




I read the stupid about gaming. I see the women being driven from their homes. I watch people patently fail to think before they press 'Tweet.' Everyone is affected by the words, like it or not, and everyone has the power to deal with the consequences as they see fit, and they will. In the UK, people are already being prosecuted for trolling on Twitter. As the World changes, so will the punishments, and anyone who is stupid enough to believe that their actions are beyond the law is setting themselves up for a fall. Major corporations will not hide you. 'Anonymity' is a front for all but the most intelligent of individuals. Even then, don't think sticking yourself behind a facade is going to help you for long, because it won't if you piss off the wrong people. The problem is with the Internet, everyone's here, and often in forms they've long forgotten. If I believe what I read, that on-line presence in developing countries happens before they can even use a computer so don't think peoiple won't be looking up your entire life, embarrassing moments and all, because they can.

It is time to learn how to use your words well, and to pick the right pictures. It is the moment for you to control the analytics and not the other way around. Most importantly, it is really important you don't just worry about what's safe in your kitchen or in your house for your child. 

Time to do a Virtual Reality Check on all of your lives, not just those you consider as vulnerable.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Dirty Laundry





There will be a 'State of the Writing' post later today. For now, I am compelled by events in other online places to make some comments regarding being a dick.

I have some skeletons in my closet. I'm not proud of what I've done at certain points in my past: I hope I've learnt from those experiences, because that's all you can reasonably aspire to in the one hit you get at life. What I absolutely refuse to do is try and pretend these things never happened: I have no excuses, after all. The fact I walked away from parts of my life and deliberately left them as the past might be viewed by some as weak; this I can also accept. The fact remains, I understand what happened, and I have worked to consistently improve everything as a result. I am aware that I have left people hurt too, but in the end I believe, to the best of my knowledge, this has not negatively impacted their lives.

You see, you can be specific but deliberately vague and get away with it ^^

I use the phrase 'being a dick' quite a bit, as it happens, although I know some people may be disappointed at such a sexist turn of phrase. I use it to refer to myself as well, not because I feel I'm thinking with my ladyparts, but because it just encompasses for me a form of behaviour that screams 'stop it you selfish bastard.' It is the moment when someone turns off their brain and simply does what I used to do so often in my younger days: focus on my own basic needs and forget everyone else's part in the equation. Of course, there are moments when thinking about only what you need is relevant, and indeed significant, and I am not here to belittle such moments because they are important regardless.

However, there is such a thing as proportion, and there is also the understanding that however bad your individual situation may be, often you are more capable than you realise of affecting change. There are many people however who are completely trapped and helpless: often these people are children (Syria and Gaza spring immediately to mind) without any means of helping themselves.

These are the true victims of circumstance.


Go Sir Chris... :D

I have been asked on many occasions why I don't have a 'Donate' button on my Gaming Website. The answer is simple: I don't need the money. It is true, I don't work full time at anything, but I'm by no means poor, or needy, and if money was what really mattered in all of this I would be more than capable of dropping my writing desires and going for the cash. I am incredibly fortunate as a result to be able to pursue what I do with the support of people who care about me, and that means I don't believe I have the right to ask people to give me money to help pursue my goals. I don't need cash, I require someone in the right place to read my work and give me a break. In that respect, I just have to keep plugging away a this until the right set of circumstances combine.

I am aware just how damn fortunate I am in this regard, and I'm certainly not going to push my luck.

The future is yours to create and shape, if you are prepared to grasp the challenges it throws at you. There are terrible things in the world happening to many, many people, and I wish as a planet we could spend less time obsessing about land and borders and the various notions of 'freedom' and focus on some basic decency from person to person. That doesn't just mean being the good friend and helping out, it goes both ways. Don't take advantage of people's generosity, don't try and pretend you are something you are not. If you are truly in trouble and utterly incapable of looking after yourself there are ways and means with which the world around you can and will help, you just need to know where to look and who to ask. However, if you are trying to pretend you are one thing whilst in truth the past consistently demonstrates you are another, be ready to be found out, because there is nothing the people love more than dirty laundry, and the truth is increasingly difficult to hide in a World where EVERYTHING is saved and archived.

In short, if you want people to help you, don't be a dick.

If you want to give money that will help the World be a better place, go to UNICEF.

[EDIT: I'm not even making this up. Go Wil Wheaton :D]

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The Message


CONTEXT.


I said I wouldn't be back here until the novel was done. See me on Friday.

Before that? It is time for another episode of 'Don't Fuck with my Context.'

Tonight I got into a fight on Twitter because someone took issue with a comment I made. For the record, I would like to state the following:


  • I know how this works. I will NEVER directly attack someone via ANY form of social media, or through a Blog post or indeed anywhere else. My disdain, in this case was very general and non-specific, because all I seem to hear lately is people complaining about how awful their portion of the world is. No, it's not, unless you are unlucky enough to be ill, caught up in a global conflict or under any kind of restriction or duress. Pretty much EVERYTHING else is doable/liveable, trust me.

  • I have the right, in my personally designated space, to offer and present my opinion. I then have the option when in said space to remove you if I desire by blocking you. No it isn't pleasant, but those are my rules. Consider it my choice of walking away in public if I decide I've had enough of pointlessly arguing a position nobody is prepared to concede. Notice the wording of that last sentence as well.

  • I have as much right as anyone else to believe in a viewpoint. Just because it isn't YOUR viewpoint does not make it any less valid or indeed relevant, despite what you may say to the contrary.


In the end, I have my sanity to consider, but I do grasp the bigger issues whenever a discussion occurs that uses creativity as a stick to beat people with. In this case, what started all of this was this change by Marvel. Yes, a comic is being used as the spark to light many different fires: gender equality, religious freedoms... you name it, someone will hijack this/champion this/grasp this for their own interpretation of the change they believe it will bring. The cynics amongst us will think it's all being done for the money and the publicity anyway, but the fact remains, creativity as human beings allows us to change the rules. That's what the poster above grasps so beautifully, and this is the most important point no-one will make in this argument. Thor could be a dog, and if Marvel could support that in a manner that people found believable and compelling, it would still work. That's what human minds do best. They take ideas and make them into new things that are brilliant and unique and special. That's why with all this good there is inevitably bad, because creativity is ultimately toxic. For the plus, there is always a balance with minus.



The Universe.

So, when people decide to pick fights with other people because they think they are rude, or ignorant, or disrespectful, there is always a reason. Often, it didn't start with that moment either. Historically often such flashpoints begin a long way back, at a moment where Person A upset person B by dissing them over something completely different, which they assume is related to the current incident, because there's a history in place. That's when it is good to check your context, to ensure that what you've said isn't abusive and deliberately generic to admit your displeasure at a turn of events without specifically pointing at people and declaring them to be whiners who should shut up. Yeah, I did all that. Nothing I said was aimed at anyone except in a generic 'World is stupid because a man became a woman' sense. Still, a fight happened.

This is going to keep happening until two very important things change:


  1. All men and women realise, regardless of individual context, that without each other the Human Race ceases to exist in the form it currently inhabits. [*]

  2. All women and men, regardless of context, treat each other as equals and with respect 100% of the time.


That shouldn't be too hard to achieve, right?

Oh yeah.

I'm sorry if I offended you tonight by being human. I still have a great deal to learn in that regard. I grasped the valuable lesson however that sometimes it isn't better to keep your mouth shut and leave it to the other else to make the point. Passion is necessary and important and if you don't like it, then there's an issue you need to address, because that's what makes us human. Without it, we are nothing.

More importantly, you should pick your social media 'friends' with far more care than you are currently. Trust me on this.

[*] Dystopian Futures aside.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Staring at the Sun


Established. I would.

Yesterday was... well, interesting.

I made radio drama. I made progress as a Human Being. I recouped my Mum losses from earlier in the week (see last post) and I made some really rather basic connections between why I often prefer to write inside men's heads. I stared a lot at Michael and realised why it is I don't do this normally, because if I did no work would ever get done (and not much does normally, if I'm honest.) But the biggest groundshaker was the death of someone I never knew but only passed by on Social Media, because it was the salutary reminder that every day is a gift and I can't afford to fuck about any more and I need to get my life sorted.

It's also a bit of a wake up call to make me count for something more than I currently do.

I should write letters to the people that matter to remind them how we may not talk very often, but when we do it is glorious. Yesterday I reconnected with someone that I really do miss terribly, and we had a conversation in 140 characters that I realise will probably have to last me some time. I miss the physicality of relationships, and by that I mean being able to hug someone when you know its the right moment. Many people would have been hugged yesterday, and I would have found my solace in giving security back to other people because I realise now that's how I manage with not having it myself. It is an indicator that things are getting better, at least in the method by which I cope with things. Now all I need to do is keep growing the thick skin and to remember how you act as a grown up 24/7.

Yeah, easy game.

There is a plan this weekend, and I am going to stick to it. When I talk to you next, my novel will be finished.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Lies

GOAL.

Yesterday, despite indications to the contrary, was not great.

Where normally today I would run away and hide I have no such luxury. I have committed myself to many things, and all must be done. That's a big change from recent years when I'd do my utmost never to agree to anything in case I screwed it up. This is now about being a grownup and trying to learn.

There is Football this week, and I suspect it will become a metaphor for what I do. The constant struggle, a lack of consistency, aiming for the title I can ever become good enough to attain. Yes, I am the National Football Side. I'm utterly doomed.

I also wanted to put something here because these are the days when I want to try and ignore what I am and bury myself in distraction. I'm here to remind myself it's been doing that for so long that's caused a lot of the issues to begin with. Time to start doing things differently.

Time to Change


Thursday, 5 June 2014

Tell Me on a Sunday


Hard Work Pays Off.


Yesterday, five years worth of hard work finally gave me something extremely personal that I've craved for a very long time.. What I do as a Blogger was acknowledged as being significant.  The Alpha invite to Warlords isn't my first, but the difference this time was, as the initial wave of invitees checked mail and discovered their access, I was among them. This is the kind of validation that rarely happens for me, and it means more than actually having the game to write about. Because, you see, nothing is EVER a given. You can never assume that you're good enough for anything, because the moment you do the person you are fundamentally changes.

I've watched a lot of people react to events in the last day or so, and it reminds me of many things. Just because you assume someone's important to you doesn't mean they are to anyone else. Being in the right place at the right time is pretty essential for progression anywhere these days, and the adage 'it's not what you know but who' should never, EVER be understated. What makes all of this all the more bittersweet for me are the events of the last couple of weeks in reference to Blizzard's stance on social progression in gaming, an attitude that has been enough to drive many people away (quite justifiably) in disgust. It boils down, it seems to me, to a number of factors. If your enjoyment is derived by certain criteria being met and one of those is the moral fibre of the people driving the design ethos, then it will be enough to eventually force you away. My problem, and it is that I suspect for many, is the enthusiasm I have for this game may wax and wane, but it never goes out.

In fact, this is the most enthusiastic I've been about an Expansion since the one on which it is modelled was first released.


My Brane, this week.

To keep everything balanced is hard work. However, as time has gone on it has become increasingly apparent that if I'm going to stay sane, immersion in a virtual world is actually the absolute last thing I want. I stayed up to 2am this morning not because I was compelled, but because I knew I needed to have a working Client for the morning so I could capture video and images for blogging. This has become a job for me, one I do garner a small wage from, but the modus operandi is the same. I am looking forward, trying to think the next move, working out what needs to be done in two separate time zones. I revel in the ability to piece together things that don't seem to connect but will in time. I love it when I'm able to work out what's going on without having to refer to someone else's Guide. This morning I streamed Twitch for the first time ever, on my own, and I had TWELVE people watching me. Seriously, I'm flabbergasted I could even manage one, let alone break double figures. It makes me realise that actually anything is possible if I decide to put my mind to it.

It is also a salutatory reminder, after I allowed myself to be baited and trolled last night, that my destiny needs to remain very much in my own hands. I can choose to stand or walk away, and pick my moments, where as before I would inevitably be dictated to and have nowhere to go. I am no longer a victim, this is my path, and it is fabulous. However, the validation does matter, not because it suggests that I'm some kind of significant force in anything. It just proves to me this is the right way forward, because if it wasn't no-one would give a damn. I realise I need to be honest with everyone, and in the end I'd rather that was the way it was. I've watched lots of people react to NOT being part of this first wave of testers and frankly, some of it wasn't very pretty at all, which is odd, because many of these people don't seem to really care that much about the game at present anyway. In fact, not being invited to play it is just another reason why Blizzard are the evil axis of doom that they clearly were right up to the point where people stopped enjoying themselves and needed something to blame.

Who am I kidding. I don't have a fucking clue why anyone does anything. The only person I can accurately predict the behaviour of is myself, and that's not even 100% guaranteed.


Also no longer relevant.

What is apparent, on the back of four and a bit hours sleep last night, is that's I'm really getting to old for this 'staying up all night' shit. If I'm going to keep on top of everything I'll need to plan far better and use all those latent organisational skills to good effect. I'm not about to start tearing the world up with You Tube subs or anything that impressive, but I can carve a niche. The trick is to stick to what I'm good at and to not try and cover anything I'll feel uncomfortable with. Yeah, I've got this.

Cover me, I'm going in.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Tonight

Dear Twitter Troll

You were right, in everything you said. Absolutely no argument there.

My mistake was being stupid enough to respond to that Tweet in the first place. I think I did a pretty good job of burying myself. Well done on destroying me when I surfaced with aplomb.

Needless to say, I don't make the same mistake more than once, because I have begun to learn.

Just to be clear. I'm not a fucking victim any more. I have people like you to thank for that.

Your efforts, therefore, are appreciated.

Me.