Beyond character representation in video games

I’m lucky that the Queerness and Games Conference is right by where I live, and has many fascinating talks on the subjects of queer theory, games studies, and game design.

QGCon logo

A major theme at the conference is the idea of going beyond mere character representation.  That is, a queer game doesn’t just mean having a character who is queer, or giving the player the choice of who to romance.  It could be about having queer themes, such as the theme of rebelling against the status quo.

Of course, me being me, I have a rather different style of thinking from most people at QGCon.  At QGCon, no one ever voices disagreement, and everyone is happy and constructive.  Who would ever want to discourage all these awesome but anxious creators by saying anything even mildly critical? But personally, I don’t feel like I have properly engaged in any subject until I have cast a critical eye upon it, and listed its disadvantages.  So this is the critical discussion of non-character representation that I wish I heard.
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A theory about queer/ace politics

The politics of whether aces “count” as queer is a tiresome subject for many people in the ace blogging community.  People have been arguing about it since 2012.  And you can’t treat it as a dry factual question, because it’s very emotional and raw.  It’s not just a linguistic debate about the definition of “queer”, it’s about whether people acknowledge our lived experiences, or dismiss them as if we’re straight people trying to downplay our privileges.

But I have a different perspective, having participated in these arguments since before 2012.  To me, these are not the same tiresome arguments we’ve been having forever.  The arguments have changed.  They are completely different from how they used to be.  And I have a theory why. Continue reading

Hear me on Bi Any Means podcast

Trav Mamone, who is a blogger for Queereka, interviewed me for their podcast, Bi Any Means.  The podcast is about the intersection of humanism and social justice, and the interview was primarily about my personal experiences as an ace and atheist.

Go listen!

I haven’t listened to the edited version of the podcast yet, and I’m afraid that I always experience dysphoria when I hear recordings of my voice.

From what I recall, my biggest regret was that I kept on using “asexual” as a synecdoche for the asexual spectrum, which is a quirk I know many people dislike.  Also, I neglected to mention demisexuality at the appropriate time.  It went pretty fast!  I look forward to the day when everybody just knows this stuff already and I don’t feel bad about any particular omission.

Atheism is a cliche, like not collecting stamps is a hair color

Another persistent frustration I have with the atheist community is the cliches.  Nothing shows off freethought quite like a regurgitated meme.  In particular, I hate these memes:

Atheism is a religion like bald is a hair color.

Atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby.

My boyfriend recently suggested a more apt analogy on Facebook:

Atheism is a religion like theism is a religion.

This provoked some people to insist that, no, atheism isn’t a religion, let me explain to you what atheism is.  They’re totally not getting it.  For the benefit of people who only understand cliches, let me explain it in the form of a cliche.

Atheism is a religion like bald is a hair color.

Theism is a religion like having hair is a hair color.

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The Extremely Simple Model of Orientation

When it comes to models, simplicity is a value. The point of a model is not to tell you everything, but to isolate the information that you actually want to know. When people try to model human sexuality, they often undervalue simplicity, leading to such misguided attempts as the following:

The Universal Equation Model of Orientation (TUEMO). Image borrowed from Sean Carroll.

Proponents of this model argue that they are making simplifications, and far too many. For instance, they already graciously ignore quantum gravity, under the assumption that black holes aren’t involved in most human relationships. But I say it still doesn’t go far enough. I propose a bolder simplification…

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The freedom and the script

I first encountered the idea of the “magic circle” at a games studies conference, where it was described as the boundary between what happens in a game and what happens in the real world.  The things you do inside a magic circle are assigned special meaning and special rules that they wouldn’t have if you weren’t playing.

If you want to learn more about the magic circle, search engines may be confounded by the existence of The Magic Circle, a video game about video games.  And yes, that’s what I’m here to talk about as well.  I do not aspire to write games reviews, so this is in the realm of commentary, including spoilers.

the magic circleI really like this logo

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Intersections as marketing

On my new blog, I’m resolving to be more unapologetic about talking about my various pet issues.  In the past, I’ve often moderated my views in light of who I think my audience is.  I know lots of readers are not ace, and therefore I tend to save the inside ace baseball for The Asexual Agenda.  I know some of my readers are religious, or otherwise unsympathetic to the atheist movement, so I try not to be terribly unfair on religion.

Well it’s my blog and I will talk about the topics I want.

But I wonder.  If I’m being more unapologetic, does that mean talking about intersectionality more, or less?

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Blog rewind: Ways of knowing

I thought it would be fun and/or mortifying to look backwards and see what I was blogging about eight years ago.  On this day, eight years ago, I wrote “Science and other ways of knowing“, which begins as follows (comments in red):

In my previous post [That’s the hook?  Who cares what I wrote in the previous post?], I think I just kept on saying “science, science, science,” etc. etc. etc. [Is that self-deprecatory humor I detect?  I’m already sick of it and of the person who is using it.]  I am perhaps a little self-conscious [more like self-absorbed]—I wonder if I look rather arrogant saying, “I know I’m right because SCIENCE [ironic capitalization of science, what novelty] is on my side.” “Aren’t there other ways of knowing?” my hypothetical second reader asks. [Har har, because the first reader, the writer, is the only one who isn’t hypothetical.  More jaded self-deprecatory yet self-indulgent irony bullshit.]

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