Wherein I discuss: Wackadoo fantasy race issues. The leakage of one of the most anticipated games of all time. Why Twitch is a bad platform. And… that’s about it.
Rundown Preamble Ramble:
The Race (Change) Question
No, I’m Not Transracial. I Just Like Race Change.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been regularly talking to a Nigma Box reader, and she raised a very reasonable question: “Do you want to be non-White?”
Normally, that would be an incredibly odd thing to ask a person, but with me… there are a lot of reasons why someone might get that impression. Why would someone look at my work and think that I am ‘transracial.’
- Every one of my ‘waifu’ characters has a darker complexion (namely Maxxie Flare and Abigale Quinlan).
- Whenever you hand me a character creator, I always make a brown skin lady.
- My profile pic for the past 2+ years has been that of a drawing of a lady with brown skin.
- MANY of my stories involve some transracial element. Including TSF Series #001, 002, 003, 004, 010, 011-2, 013, and 014. Along with my novels Verde’s Doohickey, The Malice of Abigale Quinlan, The Saga of Vincent Dawn, Psycho Shatter 1985: Black Vice Re;Birth, Psycho Bullet Festival 2222, and The Dominance of Abigale Quinlan.
- My author surrogate character, Verde Dusk, is transracial, having made her skin darker over time
- I used to run a TG Caption site that, due to my uncommon focus on black women (About 38% of all captions featured them) several readers thought I was a black man. When, um, I’m neither of those things.
I could go into more granular stuff, or bring up Weiss Vice: Glory Unto Genocide, but that’s a good enough list.
So, back to the question, “do [I] want to be non-White?” My answer is no. No, I do not. As a young, physically-able, skinny, middle-class-ish, White person, I have an incredible amount of privilege. And while I threw some of that away by going about my gender transition (but not as much as you might think), I would not even consider changing my race if I could.
In general, I’m a sheltered dummy when it comes to a lot of race related stuff, but I am gradually learning more about it. Whether it be my listening to the words of an acclaimed civil rights leader (who I’ve been thinking about once a week for over a year). Or some cuddly dad on YouTube.
However, I suppose that I should try to articulate why I incorporate so many race changes in my work:
While I do not consider myself a TF fan, I consider myself to be a transformation author. I write about people physically becoming different people. And, to me, the three biggest factors that physically differentiate people are sex, age, and race. To me, race change is a tool for crafting a transformation narrative, and one that helps make the character pre and post transformation look like a remarkably different person. Naturally, I do not always do this, just like how I do not always include an age change.
However, my fascination with the concept is uncommon in the world of TSF fiction. Hell, just looking over the 37 TSF comics that I praised back in May, literally one of them included a race change, and that was just French to Eastern European. Which is not a real race change. This is not surprising though, as the vast majority of TSF media out there does not explore race. It centers on white boys becoming white girls, Asian boys becoming Asian girls, and anime boys becoming anime girls.
Much like how I think it is a shame that FtM content is so sparse, I think it is a shame that more TSF media does not incorporate race change. That creators and audiences focus on such a narrow sliver of what the genre can do. And rather than bemoan the lack of content, I am trying to, in my own way, enact change by producing stories that feature a race change element and explore race under the context of TSF.
Do I always succeed? Nope! Do I sometimes treat race as a ‘cosmetic feature?’ Totes! Just because a character is Black or whatever doesn’t mean people need to mention it all the time. Have I screwed up and done some super racist shit? Absolutely! And Imma do it again!
That answers why I incorporate so many race changes… But my race changes disproportionately focus on White males becoming Black, or dark skin, females. And I should try to explain why that is.
Reason one is that… I just think that Black and dark-skinned women are physically attractive. I, generally, enjoy looking at them more than any other group. Why is that? I don’t know!
Maybe it’s because some of my only female friends as a child were darker skinned girls named Manar and Anam. Maybe it’s because my first body swap fantasy as a kid involved Anam. Maybe it’s because I watched a bunch of Aladdin and Hunchback of Notre Dame as a little kid (ages 3 to 6). And for those not familiar with either film, the female leads were both of a darker complexion and were presented in a fairly… provocative manner. Or maybe I just got sick of fantasizing about white women when I was scrounging for good TG Captions from 2009 to 2014. (I still miss Alicia BTW, but at least I saved 1,660 of her captions).
Reason two is that… I’m a White trans woman. So it should not be too surprising that my protagonists tend to be White, and I do far more MtF stuff than FtM stuff. I try to diversify with the stuff I do, and pursue different transformation types. But White protagonist undergoing an MtF transformation is kind of the default my mind goes to. …And that is the default of most TSF media I peruse.
Reason three is that doing it the other way has some iffy connotations. While one might think that there are no major difference between White to Non-White and Non-White to White transformation, that is not the case. This is a tricky discussion to tackle, and I know my perspective here is flawed, but I shall try to articulate why I do not do this as often.
In my mind, taking a White and making them into a Non-White is… additive. It gives them a new racial identity and helps them become more nuanced people. It makes them more aware of the injustices of society by giving them a new perspective and urges them to reflect both inward and outward as they reinterpret their views on race. It is a beneficial transformation internally. While externally, their life would become more difficult.
In my mind, taking a Non-White and making them into a White is… subtractive. It robs them of their old racial identity and gives them privilege in exchange. They already know of the injustices of society, do not gain a new perspective, and the only real reflection they can do is further comprehend just how shitty White folk can be. It is a beneficial transformation externally, but does not help them become better people. It helps them become part of a higher ‘caste.’
This is a far, far, far more complex issue, and one that I am steadily understanding as the years go on, but I hope that I at least sort of explained this quirk of my work.
No acquisition news this week, and no press-release-type gaming news this week. So instead, let’s talk about some controversies!
Now That’s What I Call Grand Theft!
(Grand Theft Auto VI Development Footage Leaked)
After the Bloomberg article from July, it became clear that Grand Theft Auto VI would not have a positive lead up to release. Before seeing even a scrap of footage of the game, the outrage factory was already kicking things into high gear, accusing Rockstar of being ‘woke.’ Because that is the term that status quo warriors, white nationalists, and miscellaneous bigots appropriated after they ran SJW into the ground.
And my goodness did these same people get all worked up into a hissy fit after a leaker acquired 90 videos of pre-alpha and developmental footage of this game. Naturally, this spurred Take Two to take legal action and mass DMCA a lot of people reposting this content, but once something like this gets out, especially during a weekend, there is no way to fully erase it.
I saw some of the footage before it was delisted, and… it sure looked like a video game in development. Elements were clearly not finished, placeholder assets were featured, and it did not appear that every system was working in the build I saw. However… It looked like a game whose development was progressing smoothly. At least, to my plebeian non-game-developer brain.
Most people did not seem to understand that though, as they were expecting final, or near-final, gameplay footage to be part of this leak. When people voiced against this backlash, the ignorant audience accusing the game of looking bad claimed that ‘graphics are the first thing finished when making a game.’ Which is… blatantly wrong.
Most games are developed using a series of prototypes before crafting a ‘vertical slice.’ Something featuring every mechanic or system that will be featured in the final game. This vertical slice is then used as a base for building the rest of the game.
That is not the universal way that games are made, but that is typically how it works. While graphics, models, and animations are made throughout the development cycle, they are among the last to be implemented. So, if anything, it is impressive that this mid-development footage of GTA 6 is this detailed and its assets look so good. Because at this stage in development, many, if not most, assets are mere placeholders. Simple and less detailed assets that exist to not impair performance during the testing phase.
Also, I love the fact that this leak was accomplished by a 17-year-old in England. Someone who is younger than Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Someone who legally cannot purchase any GTA game in their home country. Hopefully, this person won’t be penalized too much, but they ought to have known that this would happen.
Twitch Does Not Care About Its Streamers
(Twitch Is Adopting a 50/50 Revenue Split Effective June 2023)
This past month has not been very kind to Twitch, and three stories slid onto my desk this past week. The first of which is pretty straightforward. Gambling was such a problem on the platform that they had to explicitly ban gambling sites that “aren’t licensed either in the U.S. or other jurisdictions that provide sufficient consumer protection.” Which is a pretty cut and dry case for me. It was a problem, they took care of it, and the problem shall be less of a problem going forward. They probably should have done so sooner
Instead, one of the things I want to dig into is the revenue split. Despite getting bigger and drawing in more traffic, Twitch announced they are getting rid of the 70/30 revenue split they had for certain partners. Instead, starting June 2023, they will only offer a 50/50 split. An insulting split, especially when considering how little Twitch as a platform does for its streamers.
Twitch partners are the reason why people use Twitch. They are the reason Twitch makes any money. But instead of treating them like workers, they are treating them as partners. A people who put in their ‘fair share’ and insinuate that they are ‘in this together.’ Which is utter bullcrap. They provide a service and infrastructure, so yes, I would say they are entitled to having a revenue share. But unless Twitch is providing streamers with all the tools, resources, and support they could ask for— which they are not— then they do not deserve anything more than the, unfortunately, standard 70/30 split.
‘Oh, but Twitch needs to make money’— they don’t. They are a subsidiary of Amazon. They could burn $100 million a year and Amazon would barely be affected by that. Just like how YouTube could pay video creators 100% of all ad revenue and still not destroy Google. Because Google makes that much money.
I have zero tolerance or patience for people with power punching down, and this is exactly what this is. Powerful institutions taking more money from people while sitting on their ass, doing bupkis.
Despite having only watched a handful of hours of gameplay streams over the years, I heavily believe and support the idea of streaming. It is presented as a ‘good and fun thing to do’ in The Dominance of Abigale Quinlan and Verde’s Doohickey – Session Extra for a reason. However, the machinations of YouTube and Twitch have continuously destroyed this good, all in the pursuit of appeasing their corporate masters and greedy rights holders.
They could do so much to help streamers, to make Twitch a better platform for people. Instead they created an ecosystem that thousands of people rely on to make a living, and said they are getting a 28% pay cut. Thanks, assholes.
Twitch Is Lousy With Child Predators
(Twitch Has Enabled Child Predators to Target Over 279,000 Children)
Oh, but that is nothing compared to this next story. Based on a recent Bloomberg article, it turns out that Twitch is lousy with child predators. Over the past two and a half years, Twitch has grown dramatically, as oodles of people began taking on the hobby of streaming during the pandemic. While many of these people were a mixture of adults and teenagers, children (those under the age of 13) were similarly invested in streaming, and began starting their own channels.
This might sound innocent enough, but whenever a child posts anything of themselves on the internet, they are at risk of being targeted by predators. People who wish to groom and influence these children, using them as tools to satiate their sexual desires. People who request that children show their bodies in detail, do suggestive actions, or say things beyond their understanding.
How did these children even get on the platform? Well, Twitch requires users to be 13 or older, but beyond that, their security measures are… lacking. With Twitch, new users can immediately begin streaming on mobile, and most children use the internet via mobile devices. Other platforms require streamers to have a set amount of followers/subscribers, be of an older age, or validate their account with a phone number and email address.
This lack of verification, combined with the ease in which predators can scan newly started streams for children, has been widely exploited. How widely? Well, the Bloomberg article discussing this has claimed that over 279,000 children have been targeted. …Or in other words, this problem has still grown into a goldarn endemic.
This is bad… but this is not an issue specific to Twitch.
Children nowadays have greater access to the internet than ever before. They have devices with cameras and microphones, that allow them to record and livestream themselves. They have the ability to not only communicate with adults, but to present themselves on platforms where they can be systematically targeted by adults. I
The modern social media climate is one where children can— more easily than ever before— be groomed, raped, or otherwise exploited by predators. And I do not even want to think about how many children have been victims to these monsters.
While there is a cacophonous quantity of stuff wrong in this world, I consider child abusers to be the lowest of the low. The worst people humanity has to offer. And sadly, platforms have not developed a satisfactory way to protect children from these people… partially because this is a problem without an obvious solution.
Requiring identification cards would put too much power in the hands of big platforms, as they would have access to thousands of government-issued documents. To me, ID cards should only be provided to governments, banks, and employers. Do you really want Facebook (or rather Meta, but everybody still calls them Facebook, so whatever) to have access to your government ID number? Probably not.
Most of these platforms do not allow users under the age of 13, legal children, to join these platforms. There is really no way to verify or prove that someone is below or over 13 without introducing more issues, and there is some debate if this age limit is too low. With some saying that people below the ages of 16, 17, or 18 should not be allowed access to all flavors of social media.
This would not really work for two reasons. One, minors have found ways to get past basically every age-based barrier, and are craftier than people think. Two, minors benefit from using these platforms. They allow them to make friends, to express themselves, to learn things (often indirectly via discourse), and so forth. They are also an essential part for certain minors to cultivate audiences and skills needed for their careers.
People might not like to think about this, but a lot of teenagers have YouTube channels where they make videos on all manners of topics. The skills they learn by scripting, recording, editing, and marketing their videos can help them later in life. And to deny them this opportunity just makes it harder for people to launch a successful video-based career. Just off the top of my head, that’s precisely what Veridis Joe did. Dude started when he was 14 or 15, and now he’s 20 and has nearly 200,000 subscribers.
There is a complex and nuanced discussion to have about making the internet a safe place for children and minors alike. Hell, there is a complex and nuanced discussion to have about making the internet a safe place for everyone. But sadly, these discussions likely will not manifest as anything more than that. Discussions. Changing large systems is an arduous and challenging task, and most people in charge of these systems want to do the bare minimum.
It really makes me wish there was some way to turn these institutions, these massive platforms providing a public good, into not profit-seeking entities. That they were able to focus on enriching people’s lives with services, instead of… screwing over their workers and becoming a bastion for the worst people on Earth.
Also, the senior vice president of global creators at Twitch left during these two controversies, which is probably a telling move.
Ends and Updates:
The Down Low on Dragalia Lost
Tax season is ramping up, my boss is continuing his bad habit of sleeping 12 hours a day and coming into work late, so shit is going to be BUSY for me for the next three weeks. But here is a progress report on my Dragalia Lost Archive.
Adventurer Stories: 1,440/1,480 Archived – Need to request recordings from other community members or download archives produced by Hunter’s Lodge.
Castle Stories: 52/52 – Completed by the communal archive team (I replaced about 12).
Dragon Stories: 266/266 – Completed by the communal archive team (I replaced about 6).
Event Stories: 478/505 – Need to download archives produced by Hunter’s Lodge.
Main Campaign Story Recordings: 265/265 – Completed by the communal archive team.
Main Campaign Quest Recordings: 125/250 – Teams curated. Need to record.
Kaleidoscape Recordings: 08/64 – Need to assign 1-2 hour chunks of time to record gameplay.
Event Compendium Recordings: 0/28 – Teams curated. Need to record.
Regular Quest Recordings: 70/259 – Teams curated. Need to record.Additional Recordings for representation of all Adventurers: TBD.