Friday, 10 May 2013

Male Student Athlete Privilege

I watched a fabulous Australian film the other night, Wasted on the Young, which I think really gets to the heart of issues around rape and male sporting privilege. I'll try not to give too many spoilers, but the key event is that members of a private school swim team gang rape a female classmate who's been given drugs (presumably GBH) without her knowledge.

She's not portrayed as responsible for them raping her - the perpetrators are (yay!). But their response to it is heavily criticised: as many rapists in positions of privilege do, the swim team captain tells his victim that no-one will believe her, because he has all the power. But the film doesn't leave it there, it interrogates how those positions of privilege exist, and two of the characters say that it's because 'we' (ie: everyone who doesn't use a position of power to rape people) let it. So, audience, these athletes have these positions of power because *you* adulate them, *you* want to be like them, *you* let them get away with things that others would be punished for, *you* believe them over others because them swimming/playing/running on the team is more important than any person they might victimise.

It makes a pretty strong indictment of the bystander generally, showing that those who stand by and watch violence (sexual or otherwise) without trying to stop it are actually participating in it, particularly those who make up an 'audience'.

It's a bit uncomfortable to watch at times, but definitely worth watching!

Friday, 3 May 2013

Why farming is just like storming castles...

Farmville, the social media game where you grow vegetables and raise animals, would seem a far cry from Stormfall, where you build armies and raid your neighbours' castles (preferably when they have abandoned the castle and won't fight back). However, the social aspects and pleasures the games afford are actually very similar.

Both games employ various strategies to keep gamers online and provide incentives to encourage their friends to join, for obvious commercial reasons. However, these incentives also encourage new, online friendships, particularly in Stormfall, creating one of the great pleasures of the games: a co-operative, collaborative effort. 

In Farmville, this is made really explicit, as the game prompts players to 'share' and 'help' each other, but in Stormfall the practices of the 'League' I am involved with are very similar. The League's 'code' is in fact even selfless compared with Farmville, as while farmers are directly encouraged to share and help their friends, it is always done to obtain a similar 'gift'. Members of the League speak of each other as 'family' (although most have never met offline) and freely donate items to assist one another without necessarily expecting anything in return. Members also defend each other's castles when enemies attack, and help capture and defend neutral settlements that provide resources, which is a little different from farming... but the principle is the same. 

Another key pleasure of these games, at least for me, is the acquisition of stuff. Cool stuff like dragons and golden chickens, that it takes time and effort to achieve. There seems to be a capitalist drive and pleasure here that I might expand on at a later date, even leaving the issue of literal commercial transactions aside. 

Still - having three dragons is just awesome.