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  2. Hey, so I’m looking for a new design job in New York City. You can check my portfolio and contact info here. There’s also my resume here, if you want it. 

     
  3. I can finally share what I’ve been working on for the past month - set design for Victoria’s Secret! 

     
     
  4. Just a little follow-up to my recent post about Adland. 

     
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  6. WHITENESS WORLDWIDE: The Trouble With Tomb Raider

    It’s tricky to talk about whiteness in games. Yet we have to recognize how it’s infected the medium and its surrounding culture to its very core. It’s insipid, it’s overwhelming, and sometimes its hard to wrap our heads around. Yet, it needs to be addressed, it needs to be called out. Much like Bioshock: Infinite and it’s false equivalence between racists and the oppressed, Tomb Raider has, by its premise alone, propped up extremely racist connotations, and I’m sad to see its issues completely ignored by people who I thought we could safely assume knew better.

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    There’s a post going around today from Cara Ellison about how the next Tomb Raider should be made. Which is weird to me, because I thought games critics were beyond the armchair designing that plagues message boards riddled full of people wanting to be the ideas person. We’re critics, we’re supposed to engage with the medium and confront it, not sit in up in the rafters (edit 8/18 - just learned the racist connotations behind the term “peanut gallery,” my apologies) and abstract over our ideal game free of context or responsibility from the environment and constraints games developers deal with when trying to make a game. It’s almost always vague and entirely worthless, detached from the realities of game development. So we don’t do it, as an unwritten rule. We all have ideas, we all have the capacity to the imaginary ideas person at an infinite and sovereign game development studio. Our individual ideals or perceptions of what a games franchise should be are frankly irrelevant, regardless of how many rackets we’ve been featured in.

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    However, the problem with Tomb Raider is a problem that exists at its core, something it shares a similar ideal with in the Indiana Jones franchise, and in some cases even goes farther. Tomb Raider, in name alone, is riddled with imperialism. You know, I thought maybe we as a medium, had perhaps moved past affluent white person robbing the tombs of people of color all around the world until Crystal Dynamics rebooted Tomb Raider. Yet I guess we never really realized the issue at hand here with the fantasy and the execution of the franchise, especially considering the elements that make Tomb Raider in certain regards worse than Indiana Jones is the fact that at least Indiana screams “it belongs in a museum!” while Lara just stashes the physical history of ancient people of color in her oversized mansion for her personal amusement.

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    Yet, racism in archaeology is very much a rampant and potent issue to this day. So it feels odd, if not horribly offensive, to make a violent power fantasy celebrating what is essentially the reality - people of color having their tangible history taken from them and placed in white owned and white run museums and collections for profit. So I’m surprised to see Tomb Raider in its rebooted form propped up by games critics who claim to care about social issues in games - it’s one of the worst when it comes to upholding white supremacy over people of color, striking at their very history and stealing it out from under them. 

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    This is a large part of the problem with the games industry’s love for rebooting old franchises - maybe back in the 90s, our culture in attempts to be edgy and eXtreme, stuff like Duke Nukem, Shadow Warrior, and Tomb Raider were more acceptable, but as they’ve been brought back and given new blood, they’ve fallen flat on their face, to varying scales of acceptance. Duke Nukem Forever was universally rejected, Shadow Warrior received mostly positive reviews while it kept a great deal of sexism and hid away some spats of racism, and Tomb Raider, a bizarrely dissonant game of attempting to have a gritty, realistic story stuffed full of bizarro mechanics which illustrate an ideal of Lara Croft being a Magical Gun Witch who steals the ancient trinkets of people of color (referred to as salvage, mind you) and turning them into gun parts like silencers and high capacity magazines over a campfire, this was a game that was almost universally celebrated, and if you didn’t like it or consider it Game of the Year you’re a borderline sexist! (minus the fact that the author of this piece would go on to help develop a game with four varying-levels-of-white female protagionists) The problem, frankly, is that there are numerous critical arguments to be made why Tomb Raider is not a good game, much less a GOTY contender.

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    Much like Gone Home’s weirdness of being a kleptomaniac orb deceived into thinking its human as it floats around hearing voices and absorbing the data of people’s private lives, there’s a far more interesting story in Tomb Raider that the mechanics tell that is never explored to tell a far less interesting tale that’s been done a million times before. But this is irrelevant - the game still centers around one white woman running around raiding the tombs and stealing the history of people of color for her own empowerment. We simply cannot, as a community of games critics, celebrate and support a franchise that is centered around the conquests of whiteness. 

    Tomb Raider (2013) is one of the biggest offenders as far as “collectibles” are concerned - relics are simply something to farm for an achievement. How crude, how offensive it is to devalue the physical history of the Sino-Japanese into nothing more than something to run around and collect in order to gain another 50 achievement points. Especially since in the 2013 reboot’s attempt to get away from the racist connotations of the franchise spend the majority of the focus on shooting murderous cultists serving under angry white dude Mathias and doing consequence free platforming a-la Uncharted, it instead reinforces the lack of importance of history being trampled on to forward this plot between white people.

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    We as a medium, or at least as games critics, need to acknowledge that we need to let the old franchises die, or at least recognize, instead of celebrate, the imperialism of these old 90s franchises we enjoyed and cherished for one reason or another. Duke Nukem was the worship of the smug white guy with an attitude who loved 80s action movies for all the wrong reasons, Shadow Warrior was about the othering of Asian culture and how “exotic” it is when you mindlessly blend them together and reduce it to a joke, and Tomb Raider was about how the physical history of people of color was something to steal and collect for the empowerment of white people.

    Tomb Raider belongs in a tomb of its own, to be forgotten, and for newer, fresher, and more beautiful ideas, franchises, and characters to take its place, perhaps even centered around characters that exist to accomplish something other than the personal crusade of furthering white imperialism. 

     

  7. CAD MEN: Bigotry Is Not An Opinion

    As a professional ad-man who has been around the world and back, I would be the first to tell you the advertising is stacked top to bottom with awful, dreadful, spineless people who would do anything for attention in a society of information overload. We are desperate for page views, for metrics, for people spamming hashtags with empty drivel. Advertising is no longer the business of selling a product, it’s the business of onslaught on the senses. The recent Madden Season advertisement is a prime example of this, the commercial itself is a bizarre, terrifying attack of sight and sound trying to force you into getting “hype” about the next Madden NFL 15. Even E3 press conferences have forced hashtags in the corner for the sake of “joining the social” even though a general Twitter search for “Yoshi” would provide the exact same results without a forced hashtag - it’s an utterly bizarre and nonsensical approach to try and force an end result that again, at the end of the day, doesn’t really create an actual ROI.

    Our industry is becoming a joke. And the people within it are failing to grow a fucking spine and take some responsibility. Instead, they’re getting paid to make car commercials that are literally nothing but hashtags. 

    Recently, a minor celebrity within the industry, Gavin McInnes, was put on leave of absence by his own company that he was Chief Creative Officer of, Rooster, for his recent transphobic dribble on Thought Catalog, a site proud to post absolute garbage from racists, sexists, transphobes, and other assorted excuses for human beings. Which is great, I am all for bigots being fired for publicly spreading hate that only inspires and incites more hate and violence against oppressed members of society. You should be to, because bigotry in our society really needs to be met with harsh, unsympathetic consequences. Activists have tried playing nice for decades, centuries even. It hasn’t done that much good. If we can’t live in a respectful society, we can at least deal with The Racist Tree. 

    However, there are those within this industry, and the rest of the world, who feel the need to defend bigotry, to make men like Gavin a martyr. To paint a false equivalence between free speech and spewing bigotry. And then they get paid to write these opinions, and then you have to realize the horror when someone you thought you knew better, someone you respected, is willing to give them a platform. 

    What the fuck, Åsk Wäppling. Why in the fuck are you running crap like this on your website. Why are you giving space to transphobic bigots like the pathetically anonymous coward Kidsleepy, who writes the most goddamn pathetically overdone defense of transphobic bigotry painted as martyrdom that I have ever seen? What exactly in your mind, thinks this is acceptable?

    In other words, rather than discussing the article’s points, asking if there was any relevance to it, or even asking whether it was satirical comment on society in general, the pitchfork wielders and knuckle draggers put on their Fahrenheit 451 hats and screamed HATE SPEECH, before anyone had a chance to discuss it.

    No, let’s get one fucking thing straight here. I’ve read the piece. Many of us have read the piece. Trans people aren’t required to sit back, light up a cigar and pour a stiff drink, and have a good long ponder at whether or not crude bigotry they’ve heard a million times before is actually all in good fun, much less “satire.” You don’t have that entitlement to the time of the oppressed when you are spewing hate. Don’t even bother to fucking start. Why is it that when it’s the bigots getting shut down, the comparisons to Orwell or Bradbury start coming out of the woodwork, but never when it’s those who aren’t lucky enough to be a white dude? 

    SPOILER ALERT: Dear pitchfork-wielders and knuckle draggers: This article has nothing to do with the content of Gavin McInnes’ essay. It has to do with your response to it.

    We live in a free society where people are entitled to their responses and pretending like the content of is “essay,” if you’re really courageous enough to even call it that, has nothing to do with this piece, is a coward’s tactic to dodge accountability. 

    If you were living in Czechoslovakia in 1972, an expressed a dissenting opinion, or refused to comply, you were interrogated, intimidated and imprisoned. If you were a member of the intelligentsia they punished you by making you work in manual labor, where your job would not be to think, but to do. The totalitarian communists who ran that Soviet country did everything in their power to ensure you were silenced.


    Today’s America is looking at lot like Soviet Czechoslovakia. We no longer espouse Voltaire’s philosophy of “I do not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Now, it’s “Shut the fuck up.”

    Out of context this could be taken as a defense of people like Anita Sarkeesian speaking out, out of context this could mean anything. Instead it’s a defense of the bigotry of the status quo - which is frequently used to silence and police those our society chooses to oppress on the basis of indentity. This is where you get it twisted, Adland - it is you and Gavin who is the Gestapo of Ideals, not trans people - and instead of being dressed in Hugo Boss, you’re getting your outfits from the same place you buy car batteries. 

    Today’s America doesn’t see any value in contrarian thinkers like Christopher Hitchens or Ralph Nader or satirists like Jonathan Swift for that matter. We drown them out and make them go and hide as quickly as possible. Because we can’t deal with opinions and mistake them for something they are not. These days satire is followed by demands to Cancel Colbert as the twitter activist generation sincerely believes that satire should “punch up” not down, confusing satire with comedy and thereby missing the point.

    Hitchens was a prominent racist against Arab people, who face enough violence in our society. Nader has been on the record saying Obama “talks white.” Hitchens still maintained a presence in the public spotlight until his untimely death, and Nader still holds some influence in Washington. As far as Cancel Colbert, and the “twitter activist generation,” do we really need to get fucking started about how you oh so conveniently left out the onslaught of racism, rape, and death threats that were thrown towards Suey Park’s way? If there is any “thought police” running about, it is not the oppressed who are simply asserting their rights to exist without harm. 

    So again, go fuck yourself.

    We have lost the ability to discuss, and debate respectfully, too. Whether it’s the topic of man-made global warming, fracking, space travel, or the Middle East crisis, we no longer want to debate. Now, we want to end the debate. How many times have you recently heard the phrase “The debate has been settled?” At the first sign that someone disagrees with our perfectly constructed bubble, we do everything in our power to dismiss, discredit, have the fired, or boycott their company. So by implication, we ask the business to maintain thought control, or else.

    Debate is a term that seems to be reserved solely for angry white men, as the onslaught of media teaches us. Trying to compare minorities asserting their rights to man-made global warming? Pathetic. “Debate” would be how best to resolve global warming. “Debate” would be a discussion of how anti-racist/sexist/transphobic movements should move forward in defeating structural bigotry. Debate is not for arguing whether or not water is wet and whether or not spewing transphobic drivel is an “opinion.” This crybaby act is again the thought police here, the attempts to control a conversation that has been trying for oh so long to move past such a pathetically low baseline.

    Before the 1970’s in America, Gays and Lesbians were told to shut the fuck up, keep quiet, stay in the closest, hide who they are, what they think, and what they believe. Exactly the same thing that is happening to Gavin McInnes. Ironic, no?

    Weird, because the LGBTQ community is still, to this fucking day, told to shut the fuck up, keep quiet, stay in the closet, hide who they are, what they think, and what they believe. When they do, assholes jump on prominent platforms like adland.tv and Thought Catalog and try to tell them to shut the fuck up. At best. That’s when they’re not being beaten or killed for who they are.

    Gavin is not in fear for his life. That is the key difference here.

    Here in good old America, we just put you “on leave of absence” for having an opinion.

    Do you even know what the hell an opinion is? An opinion is “make the logo bigger.” Bigotry is trying to make Gavin out to be some sort of martyr locked up by an imaginary thought police.

    I don’t know whether McInnes’ article was meant to be sincere, satirical or both. I don’t care, either. What I know is, Gavin McInnes is a master at getting lots of eyeballs on his content. From his days co-founding Vice to this Converse ad from 2005, to his latest project at Rooster for Meowington Headphones, the guy’s one of the few people in advertising who are still good at it. Rooster sure benefitted from them, and I’m sure they’ll take all the publicity they can get, too. But the idea that Rooster (and by extension all of advertising) is kowtowing to those who don’t believe in having a contrarian opinion rather than saying “It’s his opinion and one that isn’t connected with us” is unsettling.

    You see, this is how pathetic the ad industry has become. That it apparently doesn’t matter whether or not Gavin’s a bigot, as long as he gets “eyeballs on his content,” regardless of why they might be there. “He’s one of the few people in advertising who are still good at it,” obviously fucking not, if he has managed to inadvertently advertise himself and his own company as a safe space for bigots - which has forced Rooster to put him on a leave of absence. Kicking out transphobes is not “kotowing,” it is the bare minimum what a decent organization of people who possess a slight bit of empathy are supposed to do.

     I just find it interesting that Ogilvy’s quote reflected a different kind of America. Back then, despite our intolerances, we were also tolerant.

    Why the fuck is it white men always waxing nostalgia about some fantasy America that never really existed while structural violence was and still is inflicted on anyone who doesn’t share that same identity? Isn’t that a little weird? Isn’t it just a bit odd how the author seems to only bring up the names of white men over the entire course of his “adrant?” As if we’re somehow some poor, oppressed group of people who don’t make up the vast majority of Creative Directors in the industry? 

    What’s really disgusting and spineless is watching the tweets from Adland.tv’s Åsk Wäppling and “Kidsleepy” as this pathetic drivel “goes viral,” and really shows how pathetic our standards and practices in this industry have become.

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    Awh, all kissy kissy because hey, no matter if we helped embolden the status quo that keeps its bootheel on the neck of trans people, we got eyeballs! 

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    Hey Åsk, you’re the one who runs the place. And the Twitter account for Adland. You signed off on this, and now you’re upset you’re getting anger about it?

    Also, just what the in hell do you think entitles you, much like kidsleepy, to try and control the conversation by directing it to the comments section of your own website? Are you so afraid of “Twitter Activists” dragging your good name through the mud as if you should be able to support transphobes without consequence, much less vitirol directed your way? But hey, it’s going viral! Yep yep hooray for you! Eyeballs! Goo-goo, shiny things!

    Åsk, I’m ashamed to have called you a friend and to have thought you might be better than this. But instead you let your platform be used to police the response to transphobic drivel, and further support a violently oppressive status quo whose bodycount continues to grow across the world. How you try to make this about respectability politics and to police the anger of people denied dignity, careers, and even their lives absolutely disgusts me.

    Go to hell. 

     
  8. Games Journalism in 2014, everyone. Or should I say, “DRINK COKE”

     

  9. POLYGONAL MISFIRE: Sometimes You Have Nothing To Say

    Oh, Polygon. That crisply over-designed, flashy games journalism racket trying to prove the relevancy of videogames as an artform in modern culture. You know, I can respect the brute force approach, as ineffectual as it might be, there’s a certain amount of effort to it. I get it. Tipsy off a couple beers playing a friendly game of chess in Washington Square Park the other day, I caught myself trying to explain the appeal of DOTA2 as a sort of evolution from the thousands of years old game. Doesn’t always work out, but it’s worth a shot.

    We’re dealing with a national crisis right now, and a failure of authority on every level in Ferguson, Missouri - which is representative of a massive problem of how racism has infected our nation to it’s very core, since before it’s inception. I have not tweeted a lot about it, nor written about it - because I, frankly, don’t have anything of value to add, mostly due to the fact that I’m some white guy who has nothing of any real value to contribute. This is a time to amplify voices, not forward one’s own, for a great deal of people. Games Journalists should certainly be the first to realize this issue. Not, you know, getting paid by exploiting a tragedy to make a very loose tie to videogames. We all know this, right? Unwritten code of ethics, and all?

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    Oh, god damnit. 

    First of all, are you so sure on what exactly does an open world Domestic Terrorist Simulator with vague cyberpunk ties have to do with the brutal murder of a child by the police, and the violent occupation that followed? 

    Second of all, why did you need two white wannabe-journalists to write this nonsense? 

    Third of all, how did your eight editors (including blog favorite Ben Kuchera) all sign off on this being an acceptable piece to write, less than a week after Mike Brown’s murder? Are you that fucking insensitive, and that out of touch as an establishment so desperate for clickthroughs that you think this sort of schlock is acceptable? 

    These are all entirely rethorical questions, but lets see your answer for the first one, Charlie and Danielle. I’m strapped in, I’m good to go. I’m ready! Ready to be amazed at such an impressive and well thought out insight! 

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    One photograph has stood out as emblematic of the police response to these protests. It’s a photo of an African-American man, arms raised to surrender, walking backward. Nearly a dozen heavily armed St. Louis County officers march towards him.

    But look closely at the picture above.

    Do you see it? There, near the center of the photo, bolted to one of the officer’s black helmets.

    It’s a video camera.

    You’re journalists, right? Paid journalists? Part of your job is research and fact-checking, yes? Are you sure? Are you entirely sure? Your entire article is resting on this! Okay, well, you published it, so the answer to that is obviously yes. 

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    Because that’s a night vision monocle. Not a helmet-mounted camera. Which if you spend ALL OF FIVE SECONDS ON GOOGLE, is a pretty obvious difference. If you also did your due diligence and realized that assuming it was a camera makes zero sense, since the Ferguson P.D. hasn’t bothered with implementing dashboard cameras, which are usually standard issue on police cruisers. But that’s okay, you were just lazy, and didn’t know that. Like, no way that would have been easy information to find out. At all. 

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    Except you retweeted this information on your goddamn Twitter, Charlie. Amazing. Mind-blowing. How. How? How exactly have your critical thought processes become so corrupted that you could commit a grand fuck-up on this scale? 

    So in other words, the entire basis of your entire article is based on entire half-assed bullshit! The whole piece, the entire point, a waste! And I haven’t even gotten to the Watch Dogs part yet! At all! It gets even better! This is how Watch_Dogs ties into the crisis in Ferguson!

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    And they’re in Watch Dogs as well. Every time you come up against an Elite enemy, there’s the chance that one of them will be wearing a “hidden camera.” The main character, Aiden Pearce, can hack into those cameras and use them against the paramilitary forces in the game.

    Okay, so I recently finished playing through this game. The story becomes a total blur and it’s the standard issue open world GTA-like with a weird gimmick, which is a style of game I honestly enjoy, this one being that you can hack into all sorts of technology - and the point he’s trying to make is that somehow the ability to hack into smartphone cameras and get a real time feed of what they see is somehow connected to the ideal of putting cameras on militarized police doing their best Battlefield: Hardline cosplays.

    It’s total horseshit. It’s especially criminal to be a white games journalist making Astro Dome sized stretches into complete and total thin air, and collecting a paycheck off of the backs of black suffering at the hands of white police officers. Unethical, criminal, and frankly proves that games journalism and criticism will remain hilariously irrelevant in any sort of larger cultural discussion as long as practices like these by established outlets remain acceptable. 

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    Polygon would go on to change the article title, but the content remains the same - as if somehow this quick fix would make everything okay. A website founded with a quarter of a million dollars from Microsoft pretending to put out journalism, but can’t fucking bother to give a damn about diversity in hiring practices nor have the restraint or perspective to realize that maybe sometimes you have nothing to say.

    Frankly, It’s okay to shut the fuck up. Better that instead of putting out crap like the above and getting a paycheck for it. I said it on Twitter and I’ll say it again here - frankly Charlie and Danielle, you have a goddamn obligation to give up whatever revenue you receive from putting out this piece and donate it to the Mike Brown Memorial Fund. You simply cannot sit there and try to call yourselves journalists (Features Writer and Senior Reviewer, respectively) when you are profiting off of the backs of black suffering and writing hilariously irrelevant diatribes that have nothing of value to contribute.

    Games Journalism is, as an institution, frankly corrupt and irrelevant - and today’s shitshow with Polygon only proves the pure worthlessness of it all, in that you don’t need to be a good writer, you don’t need to have a valuable perspective with something to say, hell you don’t even need to be an actual goddamn journalist to get a decent paycheck covering games. Frankly, the sheer lack of ethics is goddamn insulting, and the utter absence of accountability is goddamn criminal.

    Now, moving forward, normally I wouldn’t tell you what to do, but the pages for Charlie and Danielle on Polygon have contact information if you want to reach out over Twitter or e-mail if you want to ask what they’re doing with the money they’ve made putting out this crap, and on the About page there’s contact e-mails for the numerous editors if you want to ask where their ethical standards begin and end when it comes to profiteering off of racist oppression. 

     
  10. babylonian:

    "i think it hurts more as an adult"

    Giant Bomb is a website about Videogames. 

    (Source: tlcvr, via teenally)

     
     
  11. Not sure what I’m doing with this look.

     
  12. God, life used to be so much simpler… can anyone tell me the song in this video? 

    (also a younger, far more handsome me is in this video, but sshh) 

     
     
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  14. Smugglers Landing In a Storm - Phillipe Jacques de Loutherbourg

    expectare et sperare.

     

  15. sunsethflips:

    the ultimate reaction photo