Geekdom is thought of by some as the only place where socially shunned males can be safe and be themselves. I am a socially awkward male geek who sometimes has all the tact of a rhino in a china shop (a bull in a china shop turning out not to be that bad). But I don’t want a pure safe space simply because I’m awkward and mess up. When I mess up I want to know about it so I can try to do better next time. I do want somewhere I can share interests and a sense of fun, and that it has its own rules is a good thing. But that’s a different issue.
It’s hugely different because the single easiest way for someone to hide being deliberately harmful is behind a veneer of awkwardness.
Don’t think it could happen in geek circles? We’re going to talk about two alpha-geeks from the 60s. A married couple, in fact. Walter Breen and Marion Zimmer Bradley. (OK, who spotted the hook in the first paragraph?) In geek circles, Marion Zimmer Bradley was a famous and prolific SF and fantasy author, ran several fanzines, gave numerous authors their start in her various anthology collections, and much much more. Together they were founders of the Eastern chapter of the SCA – and Walter went on post-divorce to become an extremely influential coin collector. They were both highly influential members of various deep subcultures and put a lot of work in.
There are a lot of people at this (and every other) election talking of voting tactically. Whether you should is an interesting ethical question – and one outside the scope of this blog post. The only thing I’ll say on the ethics is that many people voted Lib Dem at the last election to keep the Tories out. This is a guide coming from a keen amateur game designer for the would be tactical voters to making the best use of your vote under the First Past the Post system. A system designed for game playing rather than getting representative results. Continue reading →
“I want to vote Green, but it might let the Tories/Lib Dems in.” – a common refrain for anyone who spends long round the Green Party. I used to hear simmilar round the Liberal Democrats, and I’m sure some UKIP supporters hear the same thing.This is very seldom the case as our First Past the Post system has many issues.
No knowledge is useless, and the world is fascinating. Even knowledge about the most seemingly inconsequential information can be incredibly revealing as I found out recently, and am going to share. A working knowledge of fashion shows a lot of what was wrong with what looked initially like an incredibly successful, powerful, and effective empire: The Third Reich, and its snappy uniforms.
Urban legend says they had great dress sense and it’s a pity they had Hugo Boss working for them, and his sense of style. (For the record he worked for the Nazi Party, not the Wehrmacht). Urban legend also says the Germans were great engineers and equipped their troops well early in the War. Looking at the standard Wehrmacht uniform (the M36 Feldbluse) we’re going to see whether this is true or whether it demonstrates a lot of what was wrong with the Nazi mindset.
I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective — the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.
– Martin Luther King
This is the first Forward Thinking project I consider genuinely easy. What would I do for a safety net if I ruled the world? Simple. Single Payer Healthcare Free at Point of Delivery plus Guaranteed Income. And then look for anyone who slipped between the cracks or didn’t get the help they needed and fix that.
Sounds utopian? Possibly it is. The NHS is quite simply much more cost efficient than almost any other healthcare model out there with the possible exception of Japan. Its main problems stem from having two thirds the per capita funding of France or Germany and less per capita government funding than the US healthcare model; I’ve been into this in more detail on my blog previously. And trials of Citizen’s Income/Negative Income Tax such as Mincome (Canada) and BigNam (Namibia) have generally been spectacularly successful in terms of outcome to the recipients.
In my penultimate post in this series I mentioned Ron Edwards and the Forge. The Forge closed down in 2005, having done its job (and Ron Edwards ensuring that he was controversial by talking about bad games giving people brain damage) – and most of the community there moved to Story-Games. And they’ve been producing interesting enough games that they are worth the final post in this series. Story Games tend to have seven aspects; three which are common in the Forge-ist narrative RPGs of my previous article and almost ubiquitous in the Story-Games wave, and four that are almost distinguishing features of what are often referred to as Story Games.
The three that are common in the Forge-ist RPGs are:
Challenge Based Resolution
Everyone designing the universe
And the four that are almost distinguishing marks of this wave are:
Intentional, rules-mediated inter-PC drama
Less, or even no role for the GM
Actions matter more than potential
I’m also going to mention four games in this category (or three and one hybrid toolkit game) and why they are awesome to illustrate this wave of games:
Like a number of my blog essays, this is a response to a Forward Thinking prompt – this one on the subject of cruelty. I also might entirely be heading off in the wrong direction here. (The blog title comes from the opening to the musical Chess).
I started out thinking of the topic of cruelty by doing the obvious – a websearch to see what people had said. Although the Psychology Today column was interesting nothing I turned up whether vanilla or kinky had much to say on why people are cruel. And searching for cruelty’s very close cousin, teasing, produced even less useful results (and a lot more kink). But I don’t think you can get to grips with cruelty without understanding teasing. I think I have an answer – but this is only what I can come up with.