White Knight has come to be my most personally loathed term on the internet, probably because it its most likely to be the one aimed at me (yeah I can be selfish, sorry). But adding to that, mind-blowing levels of ignorant hypocrisy infest the term. So let's get straight to the point: the act of calling someone a white knight is in itself one of the more horrifying acts of sexism I've run across. Essentially, white knights are men who enter into debates, conversations or arguments about any gender issues, who support the same, or largely the same, arguments that a female participant supports. The term is used pejoratively, to accuse that "ally" of being somehow sexist themselves.
I wrote an article over a year ago in response to Ars Technica openly discussing their dilemma regarding generating cashflow. Theirs is the same problem faced by many, if not all, commercial websites providing media content. I am inspired to bump that article again here, as the problems have come to a head today. The Escapist have, up to now, hosted a remarkably successful video series Extra Credits. A very nasty disagreement has erupted quite publicly between the two. From Extra Credits, there are accusations of non-payment and breach of contract, along with unreasonable claims made on charitable donations to cover medical expenses. From the Escapist, various explanations, mitigation, and an admission that they simply didn't have the money to pay their content providers, such as Extra Credits. (Here's a post that seems to be tracking and updating the situation.)
Siding with the perceived 'little guy' in this situation is all too easy, especially since I really like the content Extra Credits produce. Yet I feel for the Escapist in this situation too, as a representative of a huge slew of online publishers that I'm learning a bit more about lately. Paying creative producers like the EC team is an absolute necessity, I have no doubt about this. But where does that money come from? The standard set all those years ago is that content on the internet should be free, so the money doesn't come directly from the consumers, that's for sure. The alternative, up to now, has been to rely on advertising revenue. Is it working? Well I'm not privy to the accounts of enough websites to know for sure, but from what I do know, online games sites aren't all rolling in cash.
So I ask again, all the same questions that are in the article, one of the first I wrote for this blog. Where to now?
So this is a knee-jerk response post to the R18+ discussions at today's meeting of the Standing Committee of Attorneys General in Australia. While the reporting on this issue is likely to be all over the usual outlets (GameSpot.com.au, Kotaku.com.au, ABC's Tech site and it seems likely the Laura Parker will be featured on the major TV news broadcasts tonight), its also a little confusing. From what I can tell, despite the reports of NSW AG John Rau opposing the rating earlier in the week, he doesn't actually oppose it. Further, ABC's story calls this a delay, when in fact this meeting signposts the most progress since, well, ever on this issue.
So all around this is good news, though apparently South Australia consider a ten year old and 17 year old to be the same thing, such that any game rated MA15+ will be rebadged with the R18+ stickers before being sold. Bizarre. As someone deep in my Twitter feed said, this only deepens the gulf between ultra-childish and ultra-adults only. Its a deep conception of games, that they are either entirely juvenile, or entirely pornographic with no middle ground whatsoever.
Still, the most disturbing thing I heard flew a little below the radar, regarding a proposal by Rau to make Facebook an 18+ website... somehow. Of course he didn't go into details, but rather gave anecdotal evidence of a mother who was concerned about the slutty pictures her 13 year old daughter was posting on the site. Having discovered them, the mother found that she could not force Facebook to take them down. So this is why Australia should prevent all children in the country from using the single most widely accessed website in the history of the internet, because one woman is a terrible mother. Not only can she not keep enough of an eye on her own offspring to stop her from taking, then posting the pictures, but she is unable to sit down with her, explain the situation, and have the daughter take the pictures down herself? I'm sorry but I call bullshit.
This is obvious avoidance of parental responsibility. Out of the hundreds of millions of users of Facebook, some percentage are going to get themselves into trouble. That can't mean a government needs try to legislate this fact into non-existence. Rau trotted out the same old "Parents can't be around their kids 24/7 to watch what they do. Gee whiz kids these days are so clever," argument that is so prevalent in these kinds of discussions. But this is not a new thing. Parents have never been able to do this, why are we suddenly making laws about it in the case of new-ish media? I mean, any parent who doesn't realise their kids are a little different at school or in that God-forsaken space between school and home is delusional. Of course the difference in some kids is greater than in others, but there aren't any laws against this. Where and when did today's adults learn to swear or talk about sex and drugs and whatever else? Around the kitchen table? I think not.
At one point, I heard the phrase "Managing the flow of information through the internet." They still don't get it. They don't get the internet and they don't get liberal democracy.
On the 21st of June at itjourno.com.au, Allie Coyne posted the following story after an interview with me about this very blog. What follows is reprinted with her kind permission.
ITJ’s ‘BlogWatch' takes a look at some of the lesser known Australian tech sites and media outlets, and this week we have a chat to the founder of the Flickering Colours games review website, Adam Ruch.
How much thought do we put into how the worlds in videos games are developed? How far do we really delve into how fictional worlds work? It’s not hard to get on the net and find out how the latest game has rated, who likes it and who doesn’t, but for those who want a critical, academic review of LA Noire, there’s not a whole lot out there.
PhD student Adam Ruch saw the hole in the market and took advantage of his thesis work, understanding videogames in a critical context, to launch a blog at the start of 2009, focusing on critical reviews of video games.