First Impressions: Gravity Ghost

I have a tiny bottle that lives on my bedside table. Inside this tiny bottle, there lives some sparkling blue sand, little seashells, and a tiny, clay fox that smiles when you shift him out of the sand. Finally, I know that this fox’s name is Voy.

Gravity Ghost is puzzle physics game by Erin Robinson’s Ivy Games and I played it first at PAX in 2013, where I acquired my tiny bottle and Voy. I was immediately drawn in by it’s soothing music, whimsical colors, and girl floating through space. Gravity Ghost was still a full year and a half away from release at that point – it came out yesterday, January 26, 2015, and is why I just so recently learned the fox’s name. I had pre-ordered, so I was able to get in a few days beforehand. Score.

I finished Gravity Ghost in four hours, across a three-day period. This series is called First Impressions, where I generally talk about a game before I finish it. I started writing this a few times before I finished, but I couldn’t finish it before I was compelled to finish the game. You know those dreams you have, when you suddenly slam awake, gasping for breath, feeling like you just fell? Gravity Ghost doesn’t wake you up gasping for breath, but you do fall, and when you fall, you keep on falling, around planets and in circles and through stars. That is to say, I couldn’t write beginning thoughts without finishing it, as I fallen headfirst into its music, story, and characters. What I can write here are my middle thoughts, because even though I’ve completed the game, I’m nowhere near done with the story (or talking about).

The main character is Iona, a ghost girl searching for her fox friend. Along the way you learn about her family and friends, and meet new animal friends too. Gravity Ghost is physics based and its means is through planets – you jump and swing around them, collecting flowers that increase the length of your hair (why this doesn’t exist in real life, I don’t know). Your hair acts as your inventory, storing the animal friends you find along the way (I, also, keep animals in my hair). Eventually you gain abilities to terraform planets, through elements like ice and fire. You collect stars that open up new levels and puzzles and you reunite your animals with their bones, freeing them to scatter more flowers into the stars as they joyfully bound away.

Sound quirky? It is. There are a few problems, of course. The gameplay can be repetitive and some levels feel frustrating. I thought the skill level ramped up with no warning, which is just my take on it as someone who is admittedly bad at actually playing games. Those levels are few and far between, though, and most outlets have called Gravity Ghost out for not being challenging enough, so take that as you will. The game also uses its main three voice actors for several different characters and while they all do admirable jobs, it’s a bit jarring in practice. My main problem was the length: I could easily, easily play for much longer in this planet system.

The flaws are far from distracting, however. This game is everything that I love about indie games. It feels tender and touching and heartbreaking. The music and almost chalk-like art work together flawlessly. It’s scored by Ben Prunty, who brought us my personal favorite soundtrack, the soundtrack for FTL: Faster than Light. When I heard that he was doing the music for Gravity Ghost, I was excited. Rightly so, it turns out. The game opens with the Ivy Games logo, and then the following quote by Charles Simic: “Inside my empty bottle I was constructing a lighthouse while all the others were making ships.”

When the quote fades, you see Iona and Voy the fox happily playing together. Together, the quote, the words, and the music took my breath away, before I even exited the menu screen.

Maybe that “waking up, grasping for breath” metaphor works, after all.

You can purchase Gravity Ghost on Steam here, and the soundtrack here.

Twitch: Behind The Music

Today Twitch introduced Twitch Music, a new site brimming with 500 songs for casters to use, royalty free, on their casts, and to prevent those pesky muting problems that have been happening with VODS and streams. Twitch’s new music library features EDM artists and playlists for your perusal and use.

Last year, Twitch started muting VODS and streams that played copyrighted music “without permission.” Understanding the tenuous relationships between musicians, particularly games musicians, and their copyrights, permissions, and dealings with services like Tunecore is tricky. Services like Tunecore are meant to obtain royalties and, up until Twitch and Youtube, had been used primarily for collecting royalties from songs used in movies and television. Now, services like Tunecore, jointly with services like Content ID, mute videos of games being played, as the copyright maker isn’t being paid for their music being used.

It’s a mess without an easy solution and a host of questions. Music makers, and gamemakers, for that matter, deserve to be paid. But many of these creators want broadcasters to be able to play their games and music without a hassle for the caster. How does that happen without potentially harming these creators financially? Should they be paid? How much? It’s free publicity, right?

These questions, and more than I can think of right now, will need to be answered, and soon. Twitch is taking preliminary steps to try and present a solution with their free music library. It leaves much to be desired, though. On their site, they welcome musicians to apply to be part of the library but with a pretty steep catch:

If you are an artist, label or other music copyright holder and are interested in making music freely available to the Twitch audience and you have a minimum of 250,000 subscribers or followers on YouTube, Facebook and/or Twitter, we would love to hear from you.

What? Twitch pls. 250k followers? You have to have some serious public trajectory to get on that list. Games musicians generally do not meet that limit. Most musicians in general do not meet that limit. I’m baffled at why Twitch would ask for such a high following to be allowed to use their service – I can only imagine that they’re paying these artists or labels, and so don’t want to open it up to everyone, as that would open the gates to having to pay everyone, too. I’m on the side of “pay for what you use,” so if Twitch is paying those people, cheers for them. At the same time, you’re cutting off a community that has been thriving and building its own music scene, that can’t participate and will be punished for trying. Streamers will resort to the library to make sure that their VODS and streams don’t get muted, leaving these musicians out in the cold. What strikes me more is that popular games musicians don’t make the cut, either. People like Austin Wintory, who scored Journey, or Grant Kirkhope, who scored iconic games like Donkey Kong. Their follower counts fall far below the necessary 250k required to be part of Twitch’s library.

The second part of Twitch’s announcement today had to do with an experimental “beta music category.” Which, I have to say, isn’t that experimental, as “Music” has been an option as “Game” for months now, with games musicians creating music for games on Twitch already. Still, it’s nice to see Twitch opening up to broader horizons. I hope they go far with this. Once again, though, this seems aimed at already high profile musicians, as they namedrop Deadmau5 and Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst, to name a few. While I’m heartened by this change, I hope Twitch doesn’t lose focus on the community that made it what it is today.

Twitch provided an FAQ, that you can read here, if you so choose.

The Smite World Championships

The SMITE World Championships were this weekend (is it SMITE or Smite? I think it’s the former, but damn, that’s obnoxious. I’ll stick with the latter). To recap, Smite was my GOTY for 2014. It’s the first e-sport I’d ever gotten into. And this weekend was more or less magical.

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When I was young, my parents enrolled me in cheerleading. I stayed in this sport for a hot second before I landed in softball, where I stayed for approximately six years – from six or seven years old up until I moved to Arizona, when I was thirteen. My family are still big baseball fans; I’m a big baseball fan. I now live in Seattle, where the people who live here live, breathe, and die for the Seahawks.

I get it. I get sports. Unlike what feels like a good portion of people in gaming, I get it. I remember oiling up my first glove, wrapping it in a rubberband, and stowing it under my mattress to break it in. I know the smells of the baseball field and the satisfying thwump of the ball hitting the glove. I know the joy of heading into a giant stadium, in a sea of people wearing the same colors, hollering your heart out for your team down on the field. My parents pay for MLB Ticket, a service so that they never miss a game for our team (the Los Angeles Dodgers, if you wanted to know). My parents have converted their guest room into a shrine to baseball: Dodger posters lining the walls, blue bedspread and pillows. Mine and my siblings’ old sports trophies line the walls in this room. When I sleep in this room, I close my eyes to the warm feeling of nostalgia.

So. I get it. Which is why, I think, when I discovered an eSport I could finally understand, it felt a little like coming home.

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I don’t remember when I heard of Smite, but it came to me like a lot of games, through my partner. I think the conversation went like this, as it typically goes:

“Hey, we should play this game.”

“I’ll be really bad at it.”

“Play it anyway.”

“No.”

“Free cuddles.”

“Done.”

I will do anything for cuddles, let it be said.

I don’t even remember how I fell so swiftly in love with it. I tried Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard’s MOBA, before I tried Smite. I even tried DOTA. They both left me feeling foolish and that nothing would ever click, that nothing would ever make me feel adequate enough to play those games with other people. Smite was different, immediately. As someone who didn’t grow up playing games, I still occasionally feel clumsy around a mouse and a keyboard, especially if I can’t WASD my way through games. With previous MOBAS, I couldn’t hack my way through. With Smite, I could.

We played with a friend at first. That grew. Eventually we grew to a group of about seven in a Skype chat, who would tag in and out and help each other level up and give advice. We all founds gods – champions, in League of Legends terms – that we were most comfortable playing, and then started working on mastering more. It became a daily ritual. It came somewhere, this Skype chat, where we could chat about not only the game, but also other things happening in gaming. Some people have gone, others have joined.

It feels like a team, like a home.

Right now I mainly play Kukulkan, a mage. I support. I poke. I clean up. I like this role. I’m no ADC. I can’t carry. But there isn’t pressure to. I have a place. I have a role. I have a home.

I have a team to support.

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My rehashing of the Smite World Championships would pale in comparison to Philippa Warr’s excellent write ups for Rock, Paper, Shotgun, so I refer you over there to get a play by play of all the action. I watched on Twitch with my partner, while we both chatted in our Skype group about what was happening. Unfortunately I missed a lot of it (East Coast time is not my friend), but still enough to feel like it was something big.

The final prize pool was over 2 million dollars, making it the third biggest prize pool in eSports history, after DOTA’s 2013 and 2014 Championships. The winners took home just around 1.3 million dollars, the rest of it split between the lower ranking teams. The last matchup was a tense “best out of 5″ gameplay, that actually went to 5 games. I’m no stranger to “best of” game series. Baseball’s World Series is, after all, best of 7.

I rolled out of bed on Sunday and blearily headed straight to my computer, the Smite Twitch channel still open in a tab from the following day. I paused to get breakfast and then set up for the last few matches of the tournament. In Skype, we talked about the choices the players made, the gods they were banning. I dug up this amazing match from a previous qualifier and we chatted about it in awe. The last match was a blur. But I remember it being tense, and that tight feeling when it became clear that one team was pulling ahead handily. It became obvious that it wasn’t going to be a nailbiter.

And yet somehow, it was still one of the most magical things I had ever experienced in video games. I had never before watched a sporting event like this, talking in a chat, instead of cheering on a field or on a couch with my family. And yet somehow, it was still solidifying. I was connected to a community, to a vision, to the human experience that always rises and falls with sports, any sport. I was there. I was part of it. It felt alive. It felt, once again, like home.

My 2014

How are we going to remember 2014? I’ve been thinking of it in two terms: BG and AG. If you didn’t guess immediately, those stand for Before Gamergate and After Gamergate. I don’t want to write anything about that, as countless others have done better jobs, but it gives you a quick guide to how I’ve viewed the year.

I started 2014 with accepting a Conference Associate position at the Game Developers Conference. I had applied in the fall of 2013, telling next to no one, and was surprised when the email showed up in my inbox inviting me to accept the position. I was honored. I still feel honored. It was, without a doubt, a life changing experience that I’m eternally grateful for.

Before heading to GDC, though, I penned a piece in February about DayZ, which prompted the making of this site, as I needed somewhere to house it. That was this post, that spawned a cascade of comments, page hits, and interviews. I was interviewed by On the Media’s TLDR podcast in April, by Jed Pressgrove in May, and by a talkshow host in Ireland (an interview I didn’t even tell anyone about – the host had no understanding of video games and, I later learned, was the equivalent of a morning show DJ. I’m embarrassed by it still.). The piece was linked to in the Huffington Post, the New Statesmen, and showed up in Patrick Klepek’s weekly roundup on Giant Bomb and Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s Sunday Paper, as well as in Critical Distance. It was recently mentioned in the December issue of Bitch Magazine. For someone who hadn’t expected anything, who hadn’t written anything involving games before, I was blown away by the response. I wrote a followup, which got its own share of comments.

When that tornado finally staved of a bit, I decided I wanted to try my hand at writing more about video games, since it was the media I was spending the most time with. I started my First Impressions series and my journal of my experiences in DayZ, where I blogged a couple of times a month in each series. I spoke to a few people that I considered peers about possibly pitching a panel to PAX considering women and the livestreaming community. In July, I interviewed Jasmine Hruschak, a streamer I had long admired, for a series I called Women Who Stream, which the Border House hosted. I intended to continue that series, since I consider Twitch and livestreaming in general a new frontier, one that needs to be treated with care and explored thoroughly and carefully.

That was all BG.

I didn’t continue my Women Who Stream series (though I hope to revive it in the new year). I wrote very little from August until December. Part of this has to do with going back to school in the fall, and the other has to do with the sheer, overwhelming amount of feelings of hopelessness and from Gamergate. It feels a little silly, considering the little traffic my blog gets – though I remembered, of course, my picture being screencapped and shared on DayZ blogs, and the comments and few threats I got from my DayZ piece in February, that still trickle in now. A few of my comments about Gamergate were screencapped and on the web as well, particularly considering a developer friend I less than graciously unfollowed on Twitter. I don’t know if I’m using this as an excuse, but I want it to be considered that I, someone with a little blog, felt under attack. That Gamergate made everyone I know in the industry feel under attack.

Like I said, I don’t really want to write about Gamergate. But I wanted to mention its’ personal impact and try to put it into context in my view of the world. All in all, I wrote 24 articles in 2014. Definitely not something I’m extremely proud of, but something to think about. I want to double that – at least – in 2015.

I wrote little in the latter half of the year, for the reasons mentioned above, though I did get more involved with fat acceptance and activism. I was invited to appear on a panel at GeekGirlCon about being fat and in fandom. With a few lovely ladies, I submitted panels to GDC 2015 and PAX about fat characters in video games (both were declined – but I was happy to even have the courage to submit). PNW Fattitude, a great fat acceptance community in Seattle, interviewed me recently. I’m happy to have done these things, because fat acceptance is near and dear to my heart, and I’m glad that I had the opportunity to speak about it in relation to video games, the other thing near and dear to my heart.

Currently I’m working on a piece about fat acceptance and the video game community (a piece I’ve been working on and off on for six months, so I’m not expecting it to be done any time soon), a weird little fanfiction (yea, fanfiction) based on Desert Golfing, and more things about Smite and the Twitch community. I’m currently also helping out with a new game convention in Washington called OrcaCon, and a scholarship program associated with GDC that awards and helps house and plan activities for international people hoping to attend the convention. I’m also crossing my fingers that I’ll be selected as a Conference Associate again for GDC this year.

As far as personal goals, I’ve only set a few. I’ve set a challenge for myself, that I’m putting here publicly: a post a week, which I am more than capable of accomplishing. I’m in school again this week, to finish my Associates and then a transfer to the University of Washington for a degree in Media and Communications Studies. I’m toying with the idea of taking a programming class at the community college I’m in right now, because I have ideas of things I want to do and don’t have the skills to do them. I have an ever growing love and ever growing interest in the community of livestreaming and Twitch and e-sports, particularly in relation to gender and fair representation, and I hope to explore these things more in 2015. I want to seek out more diverse media, I want to be diverse media, I want to share what I have with a community that is only growing more diverse.

Most of all, I want to believe that my voice matters, and not to be afraid to raise it. I’m terrified of pitching to mainstream games outlets, but I feel that my writing is at least comparable to most things that they publish. If I don’t pitch anything this year, that’s fine – but I want to get rid of this Imposter Syndrome and stop believing myself to be a phony if I call myself a games writer. The only person I’m hurting is myself with these thoughts.

As for everything else in the AG, I hope we, as a community, can continue to grow and depend on each other, and move past what has been the most miserable six months I’ve ever experienced as a person in the games community. I only see it getting better from here, that this was our rock bottom. Optimism is the only tool in my arsenal right now that makes it possible to get through wanting to tear my hair out from the awful things happening to the people I care about, the community I know. Here’s hoping.

2014 GOTY List

Welcome to my very first top of the year list! This list will be more focused on games. If you want to know what I did in 2014, in terms of writing and other stuff, you can find that here. For this unnumbered, unfiltered, RAW OFF THE CHAIN list, you will find games that I played and enjoyed, even if they weren’t necessarily released in 2014. So! Off we go! Spoiler: there are only five, because thinking of ten was too hard.

Threes!

What can be said about Threes! that hasn’t already been said? Not much, but I’ll try. Threes! is a mobile puzzle game, made by a team of three (hah). The music is undeniably catchy and whimsical. The look is pastel and pleasing and the voice work is so satisfyingly on point. Really, what else can I say about Threes!? Threes! reinvented mobile gaming for me. I’ve always been picky about what games I have on my phone, because I don’t use my time on just anything, and Threes! opened my eyes to what mobile gaming can and should be.

Desert Golfing

Desert Golfing showed up relatively late on my consideration for this list; that is to say, about a week ago, when it first started showing up on GOTY lists across gaming sites. I downloaded it and blew through to hole 200 immediately. I like Leigh Alexander’s piece on it quite a bit, which you can check out here. Like Threes!, Desert Golfing is mobile and simplistic in its design. My partner prefers to chart out his moves, while I prefer to blast through each hole, my score for each hole repeatedly in the double digits. And I don’t care. If I randomly get a hole-in-one, I’m ecstatic and pumping my fist in the air. If I miss it, it ain’t no thing. And I like that. There is no fanfare except what I abscribe to a hole-in-one. There is no punishment, except a seemingly arbitrary score ticking away at the top of the screen. But in this game, it’s just you and the sand and the hole and the ball. You are your worst enemy. You are your best friend. Sometimes there’s a cactus, but mostly it’s just you. I’m obsessed; I’ve started writing fanfiction. I haven’t written fanfiction about a game in years. Thanks, Desert Golfing, I thought I was finally clean.

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

Hearthstone introduced me to CCG’s. I’ve written previously about Magic the Gathering, and how Hearthstone eased my way into it, with a softer landing than I would have experienced had I gone in with zero CCG experience. Hearthstone is an experience all on its own – its presentation is sleek, on both mobile and desktop, the art is stunning as always, and the core game mechanics are as brilliant as anything Blizzard has ever done. I haven’t played Hearthstone in a few months, but I’ve given it up in favor of Magic, and its more intense gameplay and human interaction. I have grown to love Magic in a way I didn’t think was possible and I owe some of those feelings to the gentle way paving of Hearthstone.

Quing’s Quest VII: The Death of Videogames

This is a game made by Deirdre”Squinky” Kiai, who brought us the unique Dominique Pamplemousse. Quing’s Quest is made in Twine and in a few words: it is a sparkly ball of light, with feelings of intense joy and lots of glitter. This is the only game this year where I romanced anyone – sorry, Dragon Age: Inquisition. Nero, you foxy, smart, wondrous thing, you, I will romance you every day if you let me. Anyway. 2014 was an ugly, ugly year for gaming culture, with the rise of Gamergate and all the awfulness it entailed. It was easy to feel hopeless; frankly, it’s still easy to feel hopeless and frustrated about video games, to wonder why I even care about advancing this medium of art. Quing’s Quest took those feelings and personified them, literally. I don’t want to give away the ending, because this game is an utter delight that you need to play immediately if you haven’t. Seriously. Stop reading this and go play it.

Smite

Smite is my GOTY. I’ve written about Smite before, and a little about why I love it, and the problems that I feel it has too. Those problems haven’t gone away; if anything, it’s even more of a glaring offense now, with the addition of gods that continue to fit the mold of Nearly Naked Lady Syndrome, culminating with Awilix, a Mayan god who, when she dances, leans forward and wiggles her chest. Hi-Rez, PLS. It’s extremely aggravating, considering the time I put into Smite. So, then, why is this my GOTY? Let’s say you’re a girl who played baseball when she was younger, but was never any good. Or really, felt any good at anything. Even video games. I wrote a little about that before, that Smite makes me feel like I can play video games, and that I can be good at them. That feeling as only intensified. My favorite game of all time is Kingdom Hearts 2, and the feelings I feel when I play Kingdom Hearts 2 all come down to happiness and love and connection, and when I play Smite, the feelings more boil down to adequate and self confidence and good enough. Have I felt those in other games? I think so, but never do I consistently feel them as I do in Smite. Other than that, I’ve simply spent more time in Smite than I have in any other game this year. It’s awoken me to an interest in e-sports, a career path, something to strive for.

Just fix your goddamn ladies Smite, and we’ll be peachy as all get out.

So that’s my 2014. A lot of small games, and mostly mobile. I had a lot of things happen in 2014, and I wonder if that’s why most of these games are repetitive and able to be played on the go, without the use of my main rig. For 2015, I hope to play “bigger” games – games like No Man’s Sky and Night in the Woods, games that have an end. I’d like that. And maybe I’ll even take a crack at Dragon Age: Inquisition, and romance someone other than Nero for the whole year.

First Impressions: Elegy for a Dead World

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game quite like Elegy for a Dead World. The closest I can think of is Lydia Neon’s game Player Two, which invites players to explore their feelings in a safe environment, by responding to open ended questions in a chatbox. Elegy for a Dead World plays similarly, asking for your words in chatboxes, except the scope is much larger, and the prompts more varied.

Eerily pretty, Elegy for a Dead World places you as an astronaut, floating in a vividly bright space, with stars twinkling in the background as you fly along. The central area is surrounded by clouds, and you are meant to fly toward bright, circular portals that will lead you to the worlds written by three famous deceased authors: Lord Byron, John Keats, and Percy Bhysse Shelley. As you explore these worlds, you are tasked with completing writing prompts. Yes, writing prompts. This game wants you to write.

Imagine that!

I was instantly sold. Challenges emerge from these worlds, ranging from songs to rhyming couplets. The game asks you to create stories told from the perspectives of people who lived on these worlds. The “gameplay” is fairly simple: you enter one of the worlds and choose a writing prompt. From there, you fly or walk, side-scroller style, until you find more words to help you complete the prompt. You keep going until you reach the end and from there you can re-read your story and edit, and then, if you choose, publish it on Steam Workshop. There, other players can read and “commend” it. If you get enough commendations, you get a Steam achievement (hot diggity).

There’s also a free writing exercise, which lets you drift through the world without a prompt. I went in thinking that I would like this option better, since I consider myself a writer already. I can think of my own prompts! I thought smugly, as I sat down to play it. And then sat there for a few minutes trying to think of what words to put into this bold, colorful universe. Properly chagrined, I selected what seemed like a simple enough prompt, without too many constraints, and blasted through it, enjoying the fuzzy ambient sound. I published it and moved onto another prompt eagerly. This one tasked me to write about a villain who had destroyed a world and write about what had happened. In the middle of my solitary journey through the landscape, it was revealed that had destroyed the world. Uh-oh. I enjoyed flipping the narrative, though I did have to go back and make some adjustments to my earlier writing.

I’m looking forward to working my way through more of the prompts. As I floated through space and what felt like time as well, I wondered what my younger self would have done with a game like this. I filled up notebooks and notebooks with words when I was younger, mostly fanfiction – which, if you think about it, Elegy for a Dead World sort of feels like, since you’re taking the atmosphere of dead poets’ worlds and springing from those. This is a game that I wish younger me would have had. She would have really enjoyed it.

Twitch’s New Rule: Cry More, Boys

Multi-million dollar company Twitch changed their Rules of Conduct recently (not to be confused with their Terms of Service – a distinction worth noting). The new rule is below.

Dress…appropriately
Nerds are sexy, and you’re all magnificent, beautiful creatures, but let’s try and keep this about the games, shall we?

Wearing no clothing or sexually suggestive clothing – including lingerie, swimsuits, pasties, and undergarments – will most likely get you reported by the community, as well as any full nude torsos*, which applies to both male and female broadcasters. You may have a great six-pack, but that’s better shared on the beach during a 2-on-2 volleyball game blasting “Playing with the Boys.”

* If it’s unbearably hot where you are, and you happen to have your shirt off (gents) or a bikini top (ladies), then just crop the webcam to your face. If your lighting is hot, get fluorescent bulbs to reduce the heat. Xbox One Kinect doesn’t zoom? Move it closer to you, or turn it off. There is always a workaround.

We sell t-shirts, and those are always acceptable. #Kappa

(it’s worth noting, also, that the third paragraph, the one starting with an asterisk, was added after the initial post).

While Twitch’s new rules seem designed to specifically make streams family friendly, in terms of nudity, at least, the response has been anything but heralding the now Amazon-owned property as “friendly.”

People don’t have problems with male nudity, it seems – only problems with girls who do it for the attention.

Listen, guys, I get it. You don’t have lady parts. You know, instinctively, that breasts are attractive – most people do, myself included. Ain’t no shame in that (unless you’re the weird, grabby, oversexualizing type of person, in which case, yet, get the hell away from women). I can, maybe, see why you would call it an “unfair advantage” if women have their breasts prominently displayed on a cast, especially with Twitch being such a cutthroat place do business in. What I don’t understand is why you take it personally.

I get it! It’s a tough place for men out there who feel personally victimized by a woman’s success. It’s a tough place when you think that women are successful solely based on their sex appeal and not on their merits or entertaining personalities. It must be tough, going to the front page of Twitch and constantly seeing rows of men on the front page every single day, knowing that you’ll never achieve their success and somehow thinking it’s because their entertaining and maybe one day you can be them, if only for those damn breasts. Must be tough, in a world where men make 23% more than women (not including women of color – a number far more grim, where men make something like 32% more). Must be tough, in a world where women now make up more than half of people playing video games and your special toys are no longer so special.

Twitch has its problems, don’t get me wrong. But it isn’t women who stream with low cut shirts. If people complained half as much about the hate-speech filled language that fills chats, maybe I would care more about what they said. But no, the hill that people are choosing to die on is the hill filled with sexist, misandrist speak, already on fire and burning from an industry that already turns its face away from women suffering.

Livestreaming, I firmly believe, is the new frontier, the understudy in the wings waiting for its chance to shine, and Twitch is at the very forefront. Amazon and Google seem to believe this too, if you remember the chatter when Google was first rumored to buy Twitch. With all this press and the pressure to live up to, we need to be vigilant about the precedent it will set when it bursts onto the stage of mainstream consciousness. Girls with low cut shirts isn’t what we need to rein in if we want to keep the image of games as art progressing forward – it’s the sexism, the racism, the homophobia, the hate speech that lurks in every Twitch chat and around the corner of every stream. If viewers on Twitch want to burn something at the stake, let it be that.