On Ask Polly: I Moved To A New City To Be With An Emotional Vampire

@Myrtle I thought that was disconcerting too, but then if someone really takes psychiatric medicating as a reason to bolt on partners, well, those partners are probably better off without them. And the odds aren't bad that they'll end up with someone who self-medicates in ways that are blissfully overlooked.

Posted on January 31, 2014 at 12:58 am 0

On Ask Polly: I Moved To A New City To Be With An Emotional Vampire

Polly's right on here (natch). Maybe the biggest step in developing a sense of self-worth is setting a threshold for emotional pain, beyond which it becomes possible to think "I don't deserve this" and believe it. There has to be a point at which sunk costs don't matter and ending a relationship isn't a failure in any way, shape or form. When you despise yourself it's exceedingly difficult to even think that way. You can't consider wildly dysfunctional (understatement) relationships as evidence of fucked-upness or natural outputs of your putting work into them. They're not the weather, they don't just happen. You can't punish yourself for being in a shitty relationship by clinging to it.

Maybe it shouldn't surprise me that this dude is so successful at manipulating people while being so glib. Was it Polly who once wrote that when people tell you revealing things about themselves they're not being self-effacing but in fact are forewarning you? Because that is the case. There's a point in this story at which the things that dude says and does cease to be red flags and become overt attempts to drive the LW away.

It seems to me that fucked up needy people are not fond of seeing themselves in their partners. When you're not right with yourself and you start something with someone who's desperate to be with you, you develop contempt for that person in short order. When you lay bare your deepest dysfunctions (which are not just things that you deal with but things that define you and the way you experience life) and your partners are undeterred, how can you possibly respect them? Their love for you belies their fundamentally deficient character. It makes them weak, and people like that detest weakness.

I've definitely been on the receiving end of that, for what it's worth, though it wasn't really romantic per se. Eventually one of the woman's attempts to pry me off of her hull took. http://the-toast.net/2013/07/19/the-fabulist/

Posted on January 29, 2014 at 9:56 pm 2

On Fake Smoking Gets Real, I Dunno, Art Thing

@Alex Balk get out of here with your tobacco, I'm a Coloradoan. And edibles are NOT the same, they're different. They're different!

Posted on January 28, 2014 at 4:39 pm 0

On Fake Smoking Gets Real, I Dunno, Art Thing

Some of us get canker sores in our throats when we smoke for real, Alex

Posted on January 28, 2014 at 4:30 pm 0

On How Should A Game Be?

@stuffisthings RPS is pretty great on the whole, I agree. Their PC focus and perhaps their Britishness might factor into that. For whatever reason it seemed like console-bound multiplayer shooters really changed the scope and tenor of gaming. Not that it was particularly progressive before that, but suddenly we had gamers as a demographic, and thus a market, and thus a culture (both critical and end-user).

Fwiw there are some critical, trenchant writers on the fringes of the usual conversations. Soha El-Sabaawi wrote a couple of pretty strong pieces on Infinite when it came out, Porpentine shows up on RPS pretty often (and is on the Hairpin today!). But mainline criticism, Kotaku and Polygon and Penny Arcade and the like, is for the birds. In my opinion, at least.

Posted on January 17, 2014 at 5:44 pm 0

On How Should A Game Be?

Wowee here comes a long comment.

Part of it is the stratification of production - while the comparison of video games to film seems spurious in the context of consumption, it's not spurious at all in terms of budgeting. You average AAA game (that is, a game by a major publisher that doesn't run its own hardware platform) is made for probably $30 million on average, over 2-5 years. A lot of that isn't just for the sake of garishness, it's just that the amount of legwork and tech needed to provide the basic gameplay mechanics that consumers generally expect - full 3D (high-res, high-poly) modeling, real-time lighting, physics, etc - is intense and expensive. That's where the gap mostly resides, I think.

I mean, there's a lot (a hell of a lot) you could point to in order to explicate how the medium got to where it is at this point in time, but the criticisms you could level at game publishers are the same you could lob at major film studios - that expense has made them risk-averse, and that risk aversion has made them dull. When Bioshock Infinite was first revealed the villain / crux of the story was an American ultranationalist rather than a charismatic christian prophet.* There are a lot of reasons why that might have changed but I don't think cutting examination of American nationalism would have flown with any major publisher. The other day someone on twitter wrote that the problem with games like Call of Duty is not that they normalize violence but that they reinforce the inherent righteousness of military / paramilitary forces and all they do. I think that's on point. I can't even really play Mass Effect 3 anymore without the cryptofascist romanticism of it blaring like a siren (universally heroic soldiers, faceless and nameless civilians who are utterly hopeless without them, conniving and obstructionist civilian democratic authority, etc). Games are not all that removed from dreck like Lone Survivor.

Maybe I'm all over the place here. It is kind of a shame that with games you can have bran or cocoa puffs but not both, but if you're going to be critical (in the political rather than aesthetic sense) of games then it's true that "fun" is an inadequate measure, and indeed the concept of fun itself can be interrogated as an aspect of hegemonic cultural production, or whatever. But somehow putting games through the Brecht grinder seems pointless. That we should strip games of the elements that make them engaging and expose them as naked mechanical systems of inputs / outputs, as twine projects tend to, seems pointless. But it only feels that way because the point of games is to be fun, or so it's thought.

A lot of people are touting Kickstarter as being sort of a bridge, allowing self-styled auteurs and indie types budgets more in line with their ambitions, but I'm not sure of the extent to which that's true. This year seems like a test, since all of the big, nominally progressive kickstarter successes are due to be released. We'll see what changes, if anything.

*There might have been some avenues of criticism their eventual approach would have afforded, around the birth of the modern born-again movement and its endemic white supremacy and nationalism, but they weren't pursued from what I could tell. It all fell into a rote "extremism is bad" sentiment. And I loved the game!

Posted on January 16, 2014 at 6:14 pm 2

On Ask Polly: My Parents Don't Want Me To Marry This Short Man And I'm Freaking Out!

@brad hey now, I used "ambivalent" incorrectly in a community college ethics class once (the best possible setting to blank on that word, btw) and I am stupid erudite.

Posted on January 8, 2014 at 5:33 am 1

On Ask Polly: My Life Is A Beige Pointless Hellscape!

I consider it a privilege that I can read these things every week. HH seems to be in a state that I would like to be in someday. I just hope that when I get there I won't look back on all this time and see a waste.

Posted on December 5, 2013 at 5:40 am 2

On Ask Polly: I'm Dating A Girl, But I'm Falling In Love With a Man!

@queenofbithynia The great thing about Awl comments is that you can never tell when a Bret Easton Ellis protagonist is going to show up, but when they do, it's spectacular

Posted on September 26, 2013 at 7:07 pm 1

On Ask Polly: I'm Dating A Girl, But I'm Falling In Love With a Man!

@Kristina Sears@facebook It doesn't sound like a casual fuck buddy thing, not anymore

Posted on September 26, 2013 at 7:04 pm 1