Thursday, June 29, 2017

A Harrow warframe giveaway in honor of Vex Harrow

Yesterday, Warframe – a massively multiplayer third-person shooter developed by Digital Extremes – released a new warframe called “Harrow.” With it came a distinctly and beautifully done horror quest line that pits players against the psyche of things best left untended.

While playing mine today, I ran into another player who really wanted one. Having some extra platinum in my account, I bought him one. And then I realized that the warframe has the same name as the surname as Vex from Mill Avenue Vexations.

So here’s the deal. If you are a Warframe player (on PC) and you want a free Harrow warframe send me the answer to a bit of Vexations trivia:

What is Vex Harrow’s childhood nickname used by her father?

I will gift a Harrow warframe to the first three people who properly guess that answer in a PM to me on Twitter at @kytsune.

This deal lasts until August 31, 2017.

= = =

And… for the first person to correctly guess what Vex Harrow’s middle name is: I will gift you the full “Harrow Collection” on PC Warframe.

This last one is much harder than the former. You can actually discover Vex’s childhood nickname by reading Vexations, but Vex’s middle name has never been published.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

BURN gathers in GW2 city Hoelbrak to support gravely ill guildmate

[This article was originally posted on the Vox Ex Machina gaming news blog by Kyt Dotson under the moniker Helvetica.]

Today, visitors to the Norn capital city of Hoelbrak in the massively multiplayer online (MMO) game Guild Wars 2 will find a group of friends gathering in support of one of their own who is currently in the hospital.

Desertfox, one of the leaders of Dragon Slayers aka [BURN], is said to have been fighting cancer for years and recently went to the hospital for surgery. According to guild members, Desertfox’s condition took a turn for the worse during the early hours of the morning.

Current BURN leaders, Enlightened Queen and Nikki Fayre, spoke during the vigil and numerous guild members gathered both in GW2 and the guild's TeamSpeak channel.

Although this morning’s prognosis gave him mere hours to live, news at the moment is that his condition has improved. As a result, guildmates have been waiting for further updates.

“We’ve been chilling waiting for updates and we got another update that he was doing a little better,” said Monoui, an officer in BURN who helps newbies and greets people.

Monoui put together the vigil shortly after waking up and learning the dire news. After posting information about the gathering held in Hoelbrak it didn’t take long for members to jump into the game.

BURN guild members and others gather in the Norn city of Hoelbrak in Guild Wars 2.

Guild member and former guild leader X J U S T I N X has been advertising the gathering in the city in map chat with well-wishes for Desertfox. The guild also set up a guild keg, fireworks, and several buff banners for passersby to enjoy—and maybe stay a moment to honor Desertfox.

According to guild members, Desertfox took over as one of the leaders when JUSTIN stepped down. He joined almost eight months after the beginning of the guild and is best known for heading up decorations in the guild hall as well as leading the guild’s World vs. World efforts and running guild missions.

BURN was named for some preliminary information about Tequatl the Sunless, a major world boss in GW2 that was changed dramatically late 2013. According to JUSTIN, the name refers to the “burn phase” of the boss.

Although the guild started out as a Tequatl raiding guild, it has since become more of a social guild where members mean more than achievement.

“Some guilds are really about the grind, getting the best gear, best stats… But we always approached gaming and the guild like a family,” said Monoui. “It’s not like about the next raid or the next fractal but how we can help each other.”

“Primarily a social guild,” JUSTIN added, “we do have excellent players here, but it’s primary about people here.”

This coming together of membership is a testament to the guild’s people- and social-centric commitment. The vigil in Hoelbrak continues, at time of writing, to bring together members of BURN and other guilds who know about Desertfox.

Guildmates describe Desertfox as a person who is coarse but a very deeply caring person. He is said to have a dry sense of humor but one that sparks laughter and adoration from his peers. He is described as a man of few words, but of good intent and action.

Amid the stories told about Desertfox's exploits include running every jumping puzzle in the game--and oftentimes dragging others along to help them. He also attempted to take up residence in one of GW2's secret areas that contains a reproduction of fictional pirate One Eyed Willy's ship from the movie The Goonies.

The location was chosen because Desertfox’s character in game is Norn and the Hall of Legends is the place where stories are told about Norn heroes.

“We’re here celebrating him in true Norn fashion, telling stories so that his memory lives on forever,” said Monoui.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Je suis Charlie Hebdo #JeSuisCharlie #IAmCharlie

This week, French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was attacked by masked gunmen and 12 people murdered. The gunmen used religious slogans and speech in order to make it obvious that they were Muslim and that they chose to attack Charlie Hebdo’s office because of satirical cartoons criticizing many religions including Islam, the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, Islamic states, and similar geopolitical issues.

Below is my reaction to these murderers and their attempt to silence dissent.

To the terroristic murderers:

You may be Muslims; but not for a moment do I believe you represent all Muslims. You may be French; but you certainly don’t represent all French people. In the same way that you are human beings and do not represent all human beings. And, because you are people like me, the responsibility for this bad act falls on your head and I stand with everyone else in the expectation that you will be found, tried for your crime, and preferably imprisoned for it.

Do not for a moment think that you’ve scared me as a writer into not criticizing what I find problematic in the world—and that does still include Islam, in whole or in part. I am not afraid of you; I am disgusted.

You cannot defend a sacred idea in this era by committing murder.

I do not take seriously your religion because of what you did; instead, I take seriously your acts of murder.

I will remember you as people who committed horrific acts in the name of a religion, and the people you killed as artists who tried to bring the world’s attention to afflictions very similar to what you’ve done.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The shirt from #ShirtGate is not just ‘little stuff’

Sexism and misogyny is a systemic problem present in multiple cultures throughout the world. Bad behavior that dismisses and extinguishes the accomplishments of women is so prevalent that it’s atmospheric across every strata of Western society from the home, to the street, to the workplace. So when the European Space Agency landed a space probe on a comet (an amazing event in of itself you should read about) and scientist Dr. Matt Taylor wore a shirt covered in pin-up women in provocative poses it wasn’t an act that represented the ‘little stuff.’

The reason why Taylor’s shirt is a problem arises not only because it was grossly inappropriate to wear during a broadcast about a scientific accomplishment, nobody should have been wearing that shirt in a professional environment where women are already commonly treated as objects. That shirt was already the reification of how women’s accomplishments in science are often boiled down to their bodies and appearance.

The shirt was already bad before it appeared on TV. When it appeared on TV it became the perfect example of why it’s unacceptable.

To his credit, Taylor apologized for wearing the shirt. And, while certainly he’s socially accountable for choosing to wear the ambient misogyny of his profession literally on his sleeve, he and the European Space Agency staff have done the best they can do in the aftermath of their insensitivity to a problem they were only making worse.

Social media made the problem obvious

To answer foolish responses and silencing people who were not happy about the shirt: “You misunderstand what ‘little stuff’ is if you think people shouldn’t talk about it.”

The “little stuff” is aggregate. Little stuff is the pebbles moving in the avalanche; little stuff is the droplets of water battering down in the tsunami. When you are buried beneath “little stuff” it’s organized together into “big stuff.”

Every little act that makes me feel like less of a person in any space where I should be welcome as a person adds up to an atmosphere of ill will. That ramps from little stuff such as making jokes about women’s sexuality in the workplace all the way up to dismissing their accomplishments. A group of people who spend their time thinking about, talking about, and treating women like they exist only as abstract “things” have the foundation that makes ignoring their deeds an afterthought.

Don’t do this people

Finally, if you responded to people who had a problem with the shirt with an image that says anything like: “Ask me what I was wearing.” (A thinly veiled wink towards how rape victims are often asked what they were wearing when they were attacked.)

You are a bad person and you should feel bad.

Taylor is not a victim in the reaction his shirt generated. Wearing that shirt demonstrably adds to an environment that is already harmful to women and by wearing that shirt on TV he simply managed to make it obvious there was a problem.

He is most certainly not a rape victim (re: the shirt) and borrowing the language used against rape victims is profoundly contemptible.

Taylor was called-out for his choice of expression because it communicates, reinforces, and buttresses a massive, recognizable problem.

In the end, Taylor is also much more adult than many of the people outraged that he was called-out for the shirt: he acknowledged the problem and apologized. People who use rape-language to comment on the reaction to the shirt belittle Taylor’s own autonomy and dignity by acting as if he is not a moral agent who can make choices.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Upcoming review of Star Trek Online's Benthan Assault Cruiser

The Benthan Assault Cruiser is a new lock box ship that bears witness. It's a strong cruiser, with a staggering amount of firepower, and I enjoyed my career with the ship. She may become my liberated borg's new vessel for a while.

Friday, October 10, 2014

I think I know that idoru with Dave Letterman

This caught me by surprise when I saw that Hatsune Miku appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman. She's an idoru, or a virtual pop star, and extremely popular in Japan. Although the technology for virtual pop stars isn't exactly science fiction level yet, the phenomenon has been around for a while for the Japanese.

I've even written about her before, in article about how a programmer used augmented reality to give her a second life (in his virtual reality specs). Western audiences are certainly not used to this sort of show.

According to Polygon, David Letterman wasn't quite ready for it either.

I wonder what it would be like to have Hadaly from Black Hat Magick projected into my living room. I think she'd be amazing company.