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Thursday, December 11, 2014

On the Topic of GamerGate, Ethics, This Anime/Game Blog's History and Future

I think I've made it apparent on social media in the recent months that I'm indeed a Pro-GamerGate game developer (and a blogger, voice actor, anime store owner, anime fan and of course, long time gamer).  Before I say anything else I want to get that out of the way.  I also want to quickly point out that my goal going forward in this blog is to not make everything GamerGate/AntiGamerGate/etc related; I want to keep the blog anime, game and otaku themed.  If you want to hate me, my anime mascots that have been here since 2003, my games, my anime figure business, etc for my choice, that's your decision and I won't call you a "harasser" or "hate group" for a simple disagreement.  I'm an anime fan and gamer first before I am a blogger, game developer, voice actor or anything else that brings me any sort of income.

GamerGate and It's Influence in the Game/Anime & Blogosphere

Before I move on I also want to note that in case you have any Wil Wheaton level of ignorance as to what being pro-gamergate means... no I am not out to doxx, harass or hurt anybody...frankly I've seen that far, far too often coming form the other side...and no, criticism is not harassment.  As bloggers, site mods, etc, we should be welcomed to honest and constructive criticism... shutting that off and yelling "I'm right, you are harassing me, lalalalalala!!" is not how you create discussion on the web or in person.  Shutting down the ability for discussion makes it look like you are guilty of knowing you are wrong.

My support of GamerGate stems from a number of things from experiences both in and outside the businesses put in the spotlight these past months.  As I've said, I'm a game developer/programmer, a blogger since 2006 and somebody who's been a part of the internet culture since the days of AOL in the late 90's.  I've been through a number of the changes caused by the raise of the internet and on a few occasions almost became one of the so-called "web celebs" because of it. I've been there when Newgrounds was the only place to post content and be known, this very site here was one of the first to host/create AMVs before the raise of Youtube. I've seen Digg fall from their ver 4.0 update, the Digg Patriots and other nepotism-related garbage...an event that led to the raise of Reddit.  I watched as a subreddit (section of Reddit) called /r/ShitRedditSays went from a circlejerk joke section to place the progressively became more serious and forgot that all of it was a joke.  That subreddit became the breeding grounds for the so-extreme-left-they-are-extreme-right I'm-offended-by-everything, so-called "Social Justice Warriors".  I watched as they "claimed Tumblr" and gave a first try to "claim" 4chan.. a site a year younger than mine here that was started by a anime fan who's now lost himself in the SJW rhetoric.  Honestly, I didn't even know about /r/ShitRedditSays or SJWs until a little over a year ago when they came after me for when I defended my stance with the LGBT community by pointing out something off with the southern community's chicken-touting support of Chick-Fil-La.

It was that point that I saw the events leading up to GamerGate, from the disintegration of blogs-turned-ego-maniac-journalism like Polygon and, a once site favorite here, Kotaku.  I saw the terrible review of Dragon's Crown on Polygon by the same reviewer who later praised the game Going Home.  Her connections with the Going Home and the weak defense of hating Dragon's Crown over the sexy characters made the gamer, game reviewer and game developer in me see right behind the curtain put up by these sites.  These are the same sites that were younger and newer than my own here and all of whom started as simple blogs like the this blog here that I added to this then 4 year old site as an addon.  This site almost became one of them and as they rose to power, I sat and just watched yet another escape from the 9-5 job world slip past me.  I too was a game reviewer given "swag" for the post I made simply for the love of gaming and anime...but when I didn't clickbait like they did, I got left to the wayside.

I've also seen the wave of new game developers and not too long began to question their apparent rise to fame.  I saw people like Phil Fish (whom I at one time supported) get tons of accolades for a game he hardly completed until much later.  That's like if I suddenly got nominated for an Indie award for my long unfinished game, Tenshi-Oni. I got my degree in Compute Science back in 2005.., back when there really was no such thing as game development courses... hell, it was taboo to even mention that you where in CS for the purpose to program video games.  I remember learning on my own how to take C++ and make Game boy Advance games on printouts I got from the library.  I remember starting Tenshi-Oni in 2003 in actionScript2 back when I taught myself Flash from reading an entire ~900page book on it.  I later in 2011 brought back Tenshi-Oni (called "Project Fumi" originally) after teaching myself Objective-C and using the coding skills I learned way back in college in formal CS programming courses.  Even more recently I read the book on Apple Swift and released my first completed game after all these years, PikiPop, written almost entirely in that language (sans the custom Obj-C fonts I talked about in my past post back in October).  It's a very simple game, done in honor of our since passed pet bird, Pikachu and done to finally shut up those in the job search world that I'm indeed a freaken programmer.

So here I am going through all of this, for all these years, juggling a demanding 9-5 job that I must keep to make up for the debts created from events I couldn't have prevented (Hurricane Sandy), doing as many side jobs/skills/etc to try to break free form the stupid job (from doing voice acting, the anime figure business, blogging, the game development, etc) while these newbie, "I only know JavaScript & perl yet I'm the greatest game programmers around" game journo-approved "devs" get put into the limelight for their unfinished and sub par products?!  Most of these "devs" only got there because either 1) They got the funding handed to them (either via Kickstarter.. or in the case of Brianna Wu, $200,000 from her rich mommy and daddy and/or 2) The knew somebody in the game journo industry.

How in the fuck is that fair to people like me and many others who built their businesses from scratch for YEARS and have yet seen enough fruit from their labor to quit the stupid day jobs and run their craft full time?!

My anime figure business was created from $300 I saved that I used to originally sell Swarovski crystals I was able to buy from a dealer from a past job which then sales from that lead me to be one of the first official sellers of Good Smile Company's Nendoroids and other products in the US.  Hell, every year since 2011 I've paid the $100 yearly fee to Apple to be a developer to have the rights to test my apps on actual devices.. it wasn't until last month that I finally published my first app after the development hell (caused by Apple's changes) they've made it for me with Tenshi-Oni.  My having to do this stuff part time with a needy family, insane debt and a dumb, dumb ass day job makes it all the more tougher than somebody like Wu who can just go to mommy and daddy for $200,000.  My fiancee and I have been together since April 2002, a month after this site went live, and have been engaged since Xmas eve of 2007.  We grow tired every year hearing "when are you getting married" from those who, like Wu did with her studio, got everything paid for.  Our extra long engagement is due to the lack of money.. a problem we try to fix with our anime business, this blog, my game development, her animations, my animations, my voice acting, etc. I'll admit, my content, game(s) etc aren't ground breaking are amazing... but unlike those propped up who know far less programming than I do... I know when to be humble about my creations.  A real creative person is always looking to make better and never sees their creations as perfect.  Some of those promoted by the game journalist think they are the second coming yet I know I can code ad dev circles around them.

It's a complete insult to me and others like me to see some of these games and "developers" get the limelight all because of nepotism and money and hen us gamers & anime fans get the added insult of being called "dead", "misogynists" or what ever else these fake journalists want to spout at us.  How could I not stand up to this as a game programmer since 2003 and a gamer since 1985?

The whole SJW mantra right now is exactly equivalent to the 1950's "decency" propaganda that was promoted by extreme right wing Christians with just the added caveat that "you must hate yourself for being a straight white male."  This same mentality was what the 1970's feminism and social freedom movements of the late 1960's, early 1970s fought against.  A woman (be it an real woman or imaginary game/aim character) being shown as sexy is in no ways an insult to women.. it's the opposite frankly.  This false feminism propaganda that has permeated into large internet media sites like Gawker, Kotaku, Polygon, and even TheGuardian is a joke and an insult to gaming and anime culture.  If you like sexy anime girls (or guys) congrats to you, and/or if you like violent videogames..you shouldn't be vilified by these clickbaiting "swag-taking "journalists"  I've seen this mentality born from /r/ShitRedditSays even get to the cosplay circles.. where attractive cosplayers get harassed and called "sluts" by these tumblr SJWs because they feel that an attractive cosplayer is some sort of front.  If you are attractive or not, have a great costume, or not... you don't deserve to be harassed and belittled by those hiding behind "social justice" who are simply upset out of envy and spite.

This mentality hitting the internet in full force and effecting anime and game culture is why I am so passionate about it enough to make this post, to disclose my own site's/blog's background & dealings for the sake of transparency & ethics and why I now want to once again make this blog (and the one on anime.fm) become as a daily as I used to make it.

What GamerGate has shown is that we need the small independent blogs again... since the ones who got big back when I started.. have long since lost their way and are using their power to silence discussion and bring on some sort of fake-feminism authoritarianism.

I have actually seen this industry for the inside a little bit and that's where I bring on my next segment...

Disclosures & How I Almost Became A Game Journo

This blog was added to the site back in ~2006.  Back then Digg was a growing entity, personal blogs became where you'd go for info on the internet if you didn't want to see the main stream media.  Sites like Digg (and early Reddit before it got all imgur happy) promoted smaller sites using the upvote and downvote system. Wordpress wasn't the powerhouse it is now and SEO was the name of the game... so me and many others used Blogger as our tool to write our blogs.  Heck, it's still what I use here and in it's original format, was completely hosted here on ChucksAnimeShrine.

My initial goal was not exactly to make money, but to discuss what I like, anime, videogames, etc.  If I eventually made money... great.. but it wasn't the goal and back then, there really weren't many blogs giving independents and livable wage.  To this day I still have adsense ads on this page and just at least was looking to pay for the upkeep of the site.  I posted sometimes, here and there but tried to make it more steady as I aw that I indeed was able to pay for this site and a bit more.  At it's best, I was making $100 every 2-3 months from Google... this was probably only the year's span of 2008-2009 back also when I got invited to BusinessWeek's headquarters and wrote an article about the need for companies (particularly IT) to stop outsourcing.  I also eventually added the Project Wonderful ad box you might see up top (if you don't have adblock of course ^^;;).  From that I probably in total made about $100 in those years...nothing stellar but for some time until maybe around 2011, enough to keep the site up.  Sadly, not enough to quit my day job... something that was actually almost done thanks to my anime figure store... that sadly fell a bit from grace (recovering now though) after the events of Hurricane Sandy in 2012.  So, for years I've been a slave to debt, a stupid day job and the various anime/game/voice acting/ video editing projects I try to do to get the hell out of a stupid day job and be my own boss.

There was one post I made years ago (I'll link it if I can find it) where I out of the love for Final Fantasy VII, made a full review of Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core for the PSP.  I made that review purely from the wanting to make a review and because FFVII can actually be attributed to the creation of this site as well as my meeting my wonderful fiancee, Danielle.

About a month after I made that Crisis Core review.. I got an email from Fathom Entertainment.  They told me that they will GIVE ME GAMES to review here on this blog.  I want to disclose a few things about that deal:

  1. I indeed got those games for FREE..but I never got paid.. just hops of my traffic and thus more ad revenue
  2. I was never told to review positively or negatively for ever game I was given.  The score was up to me based on my review.
  3. I was given a time to finish the reviews as I got the games early before other people saw them.
  4. The list of games is not in my head at the moment (it was honestly no more than like 5-6 games) but one of them was a DBZ game for the Xbox 360.  That review and the others were indeed the result of me getting the games early for free to promote.
Eventually though... with Kotaku and others gaining more fame compared to this blog... Fathom Entertainment left me in the dust and never again gave me games to review.  Once again, I was left to fend for myself simply due to others growing quicker than me... an later, thanks to the raise of Let's Players (which I am one now and whom I support greatly).

For the sake of being true to my stance on ethics, if me having those games given to me for free to review was something leading to mistrust of my info here, I apologize.  If at all in the future this blog (and my Let's Play videos on my YT channel) get me in a similar "swag" situation, I will fully disclose it. It think I might have then but going forward, if I am lucky enough to be in that circle again, I will disclose that.

It also goes without saying so much but when I promote anime figures or my games or my mascots here on this site.. it is indeed to help their exposure for my benefit.  Again, my goal is to eventually be free from my 9-5 job ad just be a blogger, voice actor and game dev full time, so I will indeed try to build things with the goal of making a living... but unlike the other blogs and "journalists" the goal is the content and not the money; the hobby, not the Kickstarter; the creation, not the limelight that creation might bring.

I've also seen how stupid some of the new "journalist" sites can be.  Particularly with a certain, UpWorthy site. You see, since Hurricane Sandy ruined my anime figure business's chance of freeing me from my 9-5 jail...my work on this blog, my web design and programming has gotten me a number of IT recruiters messaging me daily. (Yet, oddly here I am still at the same stupid day job almost 3 years later!!)  

Some of those recruiters come from blogging & social media job companies... particularly when I was a member of Flexjobs.com.  One of those companies that reached out for me was indeed Upworthy.com, one of the many clickbait trolls on the internet.  The recruiter/rep of the company was very nice to me (at first) and she wanted to get me to the next step in the interview process.  Those of you looking for work in any of these fields know that getting beyond the resume submission is now effing rare.  Now I was at the time (and still) talking with a number of companies daily.  It's tough to honestly look into the details of companies on the spot and while talking to others.  Over the phone her question was, "What do you think Upworthy.com is?"  I answered honestly from what I saw browsing it... a "Reddit-like news site with individual contributors"... apparently she didn't like that answer, completely changed her tune and rushed to tell me of this so-called "Curation" test I needed to finish.  Which, was one of the most time consuming and dumbest things I've ever freaken seen.  Basically I was told to make a blog post with images matching some odd scavenger hunt.  I took most of the day to complete it.. Emailed her it and tried to call back confirmation that it was seen by them over at Upworthy.com... no answer.  I was left in the dark and put some stupid cryptic post on my own separate blog outside of this one.  

For those maybe wondering.. here's that post:


Yes, observe in awe at what those at Upworthy and those at the clickbaiting journo sites feel is a test to determine your ability to blog..I'm sorry.. be a "journalist".  Confused? Don't worry, that's a legitimate human reaction to something like that.  If maybe you aren't exactly human, drank some pumpkin spice while on a Skype call with Upworthy and touted about "the patriarchy"...then maybe you'd pass this "test" and get the job at one of these "news" companies.  Or, as it seems to be done, sleep around with those in the industry.. or know them personally (or financially)  Nepotism...who needs talent and hard work when you "know a guy"?

The Return Of The Independent Blogs

No matter where you stand (or don't stand at all) with GamerGate, a few things have arose from this.  For one.. companies are learning quickly that it's not ok to crap on your customers.  Are there bad people out there harassing others for their hobbies or for being against those hobbies/products... absolutely.  Be it doxxing or harassing, if you do it, you are wrong.  Don't try to confuse criticism for harassment though as that is an insult to those who have been harassed for real. In my experience since seeing the first downvote brigades of /r/ShitredditSays... where this prudish & false representation pf feminism and "social justice" first took place.. it seems to be more those crying wolf that have been doing the most harassment and personal insults. To say either side hasn't harassed is a lie but at least I've seen GG point out trolls and denounce their actions...something I fail to see from the other side and from the side of forum moderators on reddit and the big journalist sites.  This disillusion with their clientbase and denying of their own mistakes has actually done a good thing by bringing back blogs like mine and other small independent voices who since the rise of these giants, been left in the dust and are now becoming the places to bring up real discussions without being called terrible names for simply criticizing the points of some their peers; peer whom they fail to disclose as peers.   A blog and site very similar to what I wanted this blog to be, NicheGamer has rose in the ranks since the start of GamerGate because people don't want to be silenced on the web.  Nobody should have to adhere to an extremist left (yet so left it's extreme right) agenda that has since the early days of just /r/ShitReddit says, has been bought out with both sex and money in the name of "social justice".  If anyone wants to talk a "hate campaign" see how some of these SJWs treat men, minorities and themselves at times.  It's a sad sight to behold and probably stems from many having strong bipolar issues that probably need medical help instead of tumblr echo chambers and disgruntled game reviews of boobies.  another great independent voice who doen't have an army of clickbaiters behind him is my old friend Robert Catalano (robertcatalano.com).  He is indeed somebody I have known outside of the confines of the internet and who has promoted me in the past. If I'm not mistaken I knew Robert and his family since our school days and he separately has made a name for himself until we recently reconnected via social media.  To keep with the promise of ethics, I wanted to make sure I disclosed that too going forward.  

Back to the topic of this segment, that's what good has come from this... the need for more independent blogs via transparency and correct ethics.  I'm very happy to see Robert's site and Brandon's site over at NicheGamer move into a bit of that limelight due to the failings of the bigger blogs.

So, going forward with this blog.. I know.. many many times I go and say "I'm back" and then go away from blogging but I will from now on try to make it an effort to bring back this blog.  I thought that with the bigger blogs taking over since a few years ago that nobody cared about the little guys.. but it seems maybe, just maybe we smaller blogs might have a chance due to this.  

To help support this site, you can do a number of things, 

-you can download my game(s) like PikiPop (I promise to make more to the game if I can.. I know it's really simple ^^)

-Support my mascots by making fan art and hopefully being on board with Tenshi-Oni if I can get free enough to make it full time

-Shop with my anime store

-Comment and visit this blog.. especially as I try to add more content

-and maybe support mine and Danielle's YouTube channels (Chucks Anime Shrine & PikaLoveChu).  We both want to make more content but we sadly are caught in the catch 22 of having to work soul less jobs thus can't make enough quality content.

Is this a plug to my stuff.. to be transparent.. absolutely... I won't lie and say that it's not.  But going forward I will just keep trucking and trying to make as great of content as physically possible.  We are not the best in the world at this stuff... probably why we are still small, but as part of the goals of GamerGate, the plan is to give everyone a fighting chance and via hard work.  From bloggers like NicheGamer.. to independent game developers like Jennifer D'aww who recently got her SeedScape game green-lighted on Steam, we want people to continue to gain internet fame and recognition not because the "know somebody" or fulfilled a political demographic.. but because they make content worth following.  I will try to do that yet again going forward.  I want to keep this blog going, renewed and maybe, better than ever; same with everything else we do creatively to exit out of the dayjobs we have to do.. and work doing what we WANT to do.  

(Note: Not sure who made that awesome Vivian Jame image but will credit them here or in the comments below)

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