Words and Chaos

Month: February, 2014

Twitch Plays Pokemon: An Unintentionally Awesome Social Experiment.

How a linear RPG from over a decade ago creates a social microcosmic mirror.

The Twitch Plays Pokemon thing is ridiculous.  It’s also awesome. There’s a very powerful component that gets used in any story: making a choice. It’s powerful because it’s divisive. This mass-choice driven semi-coherent, vaguely random demonstration has, to my eyes, given us a brilliant little insight into, a rather exaggerated, human social brain.

Now it’s nothing we haven’t seen in one form or another several times before. The factions that have sprung up out of these choices and actions interest me:

The choice to store the Helix fossil.

Throwing away the moonstone.

The choice to release two of the Pokemon, including the starting Pokemon.

The Evolution of Eevee into Flareon.

The result seems to have created a couple of minor religions and a couple of social groups.

The Religions:

The Spiral of the Helix

The Order of the Dome – and the Prophet Eevee/Flareon.

The Existing Social Groups:

The Society in Mourning for Abby and Jay Leno.

The Golden Society of the S.S. Ticket

At the moment you have the two religions preaching at each other, while the Society in mourning for Abby and Jay Leno kind of stumbles around in the midst of the madness screaming incoherently.

What I’m hoping is for more decisions/choices and divides. Red has become a kind of stand in for society – stumbling around blindly in a maze, gambling and buying stupid amounts of useless products while everybody on the ride screams and shouts their agenda in an almost futile bid to steer him to victory.

I know this is a somewhat exaggerated look at the whole thing, but I love how people will form these strange little groups around, apparently, anything. It’s fantastic. It’ll be interesting to see if this continues like this, with it’s now insane following, or if it’ll taper out and die off.

There is Only Chaos #7: Gaming, Scenario, and Race.

That’s Racist! Or is it?

I was watching Jim Sterling’s video on the overhaul to Revelation’s 2012 and I have to say I’m getting tired of hearing: ‘They are a different culture, and you shoot them so it’s all racist.’ Because that’s bullshit. I get that Jim Sterling has his tongue wedged in his cheek when he says this, but it’s too prevalent now, not just in gaming, to ignore. I’ll keep this within the confines of gaming just to keep it short, but I have a problem with the wider modern issue of branding everything and anything racist if it happens to contain people that are not from the USA or the UK. By this strange, ‘there are other nationalities ergo it’s racist’ logic, how is massacring Mayan natives in one game racist, but another game isn’t?

Of course you’re going to be shooting Mayans! Who in the world else would you be shooting? Canadians? The choice of enemy is determined by the story (lacking though it is) and the setting. That’s basic. If you base a game off of Mayan myth/modern urban legends concerning Mayans/whatever that nonsense was about, you’re probably going to run into Mayans. If I walked through a Southern American setting and had to shoot waves of the French, would that make any sense? No. So we have the Mayans. But that’s racist! Or it just makes sense.

CoD is too easy a choice here, so I’ll try something else, with less of a tarnished reputation. If we consider Counter Strike terrorists to be a the middle-eastern, or Russian, or whatever national context the map is set in, and the Counter terrorists to be the Western, how is Counter Strike then not racist on the same terms? Clearly Valve are interested in portraying the Middle East, Russia, and others, as horrible scum who want to destroy all the democracy and rape your wives, children and your priest. Yada yada yada. How about any other game that has two different nationalities in conflict? Is every fucking game with opposing sides now about racial hatred?

Because that’s what racism is. Racial hatred. Have we forgotten that, or is the existence of other skin tones, cultures, etc, now the criteria for racism? When the British opposed Germany, where we doing it for racist purposes? By the above logic, yes. The first and second world wars were entirely based on the fact that they weren’t British, and that’s all it was. When the Danes invaded the UK, clearly they were horrible xenophobes and wanted to purge our blood because it was inferior. Or the Romans! Caesar crosses over to Britain kills a bunch of us, and it was clearly because of our pasty pale skin and flawed genetics. When Boudicca rebelled and slaughtered her way across Roman Britain, it wasn’t because her daughters had been raped and her people abused. It was because these new people had slightly drier skin. Didn’t anybody tell you that? But it wasn’t. Is the only legitimate conflict now civil war? What’s the rational behind any of this?

People really need to stop throwing this term around. You’re not helping anyone. If anything you’re making the problem worse by diluting what it is to be racist.

Word Clusters #6: Cowboy Births Are Increasing.

With extra for last month’s fail.

I’m still doing these – though I missed the last one.

 

  • Cowboy births increasing
  • Willow that is rising wants…
  • Necessitarianism might [transitive verb] the Ostrogoths
  • Overshadowed wards limping
  • Retaken to the messengers
  • Conservation is yellow
  • Croatian with ironies
  • Ethics that are literally the army’s
  • Yeoman if attraction
  • Mummified but vibrating
  • Indistinguishable since ballast
  • Classification of the Astrologer
  • Muffler cannot [transitive verb] signatories
  • Management begets champion
  • Rejoice rises incipient
  • Inherited when flanked
  • Crux after libidinous
  • Pressure opposes affording
  • Ennoblement before Chief
  • Scales will [transitive verb] passenger

 

When physical description meets random generation:

I was wondering what would happen if I ran some of my lists and phrases through a generator in order to spit out some interesting physical descriptions. I had to, naturally, make some adjustments and alterations to the things it spat out, but here’s an example of the type of thing I got.:

A womb giving the impression of a username generator.
A tail that is literally a planet-wide billboard for sensualism.
A skull resembling a noir water-strider.
Lips reminiscent of an earthquake.
Nipples resembling fossils.
A beard reminiscent of trifle.
A fist comparable with a smeared colonnade.
Her vagina was giving the impression of pre-linguistic warm weather.
A navel that put one in mind of a bloody bear.
Teeth like a snarling diaspora.
The hair of an encumbered snowball.
Knees that put on in mind of halibut.
His bones were giving the impression of an experimental shrieker.
Buttocks imitating a correctional horseman.
His penis was imitating an anti-semite activist.

There is Only Chaos #5: The Hipster – A Borough’s Best Friend?

Is the coffee-shop haunting hipster crowd underappreciated?

 

If you’ve lived in London for a long enough period of time you’ve almost certainly noticed the fairly dramatic changes to Hackney over the last few years.  It wasn’t an aeon ago that Hackney embodied more or less the opposite of what it stands for today. Less than a decade has passed since walking a dog in London Fields involved the sight of scrap metal and rotting food.  These days it involves health food retailers and coffee shops filled with hipsters.  The hipsters seem to be the key.

This group of middle-class urban millennials in tight jeans, lensless glasses and a taste for neo-liberal ideologies, with their fat free lattes, get a lot of flak from just about everyone else who are aware of their existence.  But how do you criticise a group of people who seem to have breathed new life into a part of London with a well-embedded reputation for stagnation?

Hackney’s property prices have skyrocket in the recent years, with a 17% rise in the last year alone according to the Guardian.  While that is a dishearteningly steep incline for anyone looking at the borough, it does come from a significant amount of urban development, and an unexpected number of successful businesses in the area. You can’t fail to notice the sudden leaps upward that coincided with a steady migration of hipsters out of locations like Shoreditch, still known for its up-and-coming, in-the-scene culture and atmosphere.

The E5 Bakery is a recent addition to Mentmore Terrance and frequently has a queue for the door, despite a loaf of bread starting at £3.20.  Broadway Market, after a necessary revival since 2004, has become a Saturday-shopping powerhouse and hotspot for trendy millenials looking for vintage fashion, independent retailers, and cheese.  There’s an alarming amount of cheese for sale.  The newly opened Ziferblat on Old Street, a Russian chain of cafes where you quite literally pay for your time, speaks volumes about the heel-turn of focus that the borough has undergone.  Who else but the young and fashionable would flock, in droves, to these kind of gimmick-based outlets?  Certainly not the poor and downtrodden denizens of London, Hackney was previously known for.

And is this rapid development and image-overhaul a bad thing?  Surely not.  It’s happening in other parts of London, too.  Lambeth seems to be the next target. Despite any and all objections to the character and culture of this demographic, it’s hard to argue against the idea that they seem to have an incredibly positive effect on the areas they choose to inhabit.  If the hipster as a person is typified by shallow consumerism, extremely vague or outright uninformed political philosophy, and questionable choices in style; they seem to have achieved, apparently by sheer presence and caffeine addiction alone, the kind of transformative affect on their surroundings that any person with political power would sacrifice their first born for.