TSS#65 – My Shaky Moral High Ground

In the past, I’ve talked about my core beliefs and ideals already. It has lead to the decision to not review Heartbeat, for instance, because I wouldn’t want to review and promote a game that is made by people actively harming others…

But as time went on, I noticed that my thinking may be flawed. It’s causing me a headache again because that’s a moral standard or an opinion rather that I can’t really hold that easily. If I don’t support this Indie Studio because there is one dev that is a terf, that’s one thing… but why do I stop there? 

I still regularly play League of Legends because I love the game and the champions in there… but I know that Riot Games (and Tencent) are full of a lot of issues like sexual harassment, discrimination, toxic masculinity, and a lot of other things. There are a lot of things going wrong at Riot Games and there are more and more stories coming out about the behind the scenes stuff right there. One of the higher-ups saying that “no doesn’t always mean no” (linking one of the many articles I found but if you want to dig into the topic, sure, go ahead and you’ll find plenty more dirt without digging too deep) is not at all in line with what I believe in… and yet, I’m not boycotting Riot Games. I’m not spending any money on League of Legends, TFT, Legends of Runeterra, Valorant, or anything else… but I’m still playing these games and even writing about it here and there… and that’s a contradiction, isn’t it? 

The gaming industry is full of cases like that. There are plenty of shitbags in the Industry and plenty of companies and dev studios and publishers that are full of shit – but I love video games and alas, am still playing games and writing about it… and my moral high ground of not wanting to support the TERF and her girlfriend who worked on Heartbeat or not wanting to support the homophobic Brazilian Muslim that reached out for a video game review but ended up trying to convince me that I’m sinning for being bi and coming out like that… well, that moral high ground is shaky. I can’t stand on it. I can’t just go ahead and ignore review requests from studios that I know are bad… and go ahead and play games by people that are equally full of shit. 

I love the games published by Chucklefish Ltd. – But even they have mud on their shirt with them not paying some devs or whatever (haven’t really dug too much into that). 

And well, there’s also Blizzard, Activision, Ubisoft, Valve, and a lot of other bigger companies that are equally full of shit than the ones I mentioned before. But I still play their games, which is shitty and hypocritical in a way. In the long run, I won’t be able to hold up that moral high ground of mine where I don’t talk about some games but still support other games that I personally like but who are made by equally bad people. 

Uh, lots of (not exactly) Ivory Towers and uh, a High Ground… I guess?

And as previously mentioned, stuff like that gives me headaches. I’m in a conflict with my own beliefs of what’s right and wrong. I get migraines at the worst possible time and I end up questioning whether or not I should maybe write a review of Heartbeat. 

I mean, even TERFs quite often have a reason for being the way they are. If you’ve been traumatized by men in the past, you probably don’t feel that safe around anyone who’s been a male before or who still is a male – especially in “safe spaces”. At the same time, I still disagree with them and I do feel like there are better ways of handling things. Insulting and discriminating against trans-women isn’t at all what I want to defend here… but at the same time, I can’t say that I know their stories. I don’t know whether or not, I can just shit on terfs without ever really knowing what they’ve been through – and I doubt that I can get in that mindset either since I’m just a male myself. 

It’s a tricky subject and while I will not support that dev who tried to “make me hetero” because he personally harmed me, I may consider actually writing a post about Heartbeat… as a game… made by people that cared about the game. People that actually are inclusive. People that spread love and make games for the sake of bringing joy to people of all kinds. People that created something that taught me a lot about self-love and loving others despite our differences. In the core, Heartbeat is a great game that I really recommend. My stance on that one dev doesn’t change necessarily. That one dev isn’t part of the studio anymore. Everyone in the studio distanced themselves from that one dev or left the studio. 

A lot of the things that that one dev did to harm others are unforgivable. The way they handled things shouldn’t be able to get excused purely by trauma. I don’t think violence solves violence – physical or verbal doesn’t matter in that regard. I don’t think it’s fair for me to judge someone from this ivory tower that I’m sitting in. I mean, if someone actively harmed me or my friends or anyone in my community, I wouldn’t want to support them. 

The Gaming Industry might as well be as rotten as the Curse-rotted Greatwood! idk, it’s just a picture, move on.

My ideals don’t change. My ideals are the same as before. Transwomen are women. Transmen are men. Trans rights are human rights. For every bad person, there are ten good people in the world. Love and let love, live and let live. I’m still trying to be my best possible self and I want to grow as a person and I feel like taking a look at these stances that I took in the past and that I’ve been thinking about for the past couple of months already is only natural and actually quite important. You can’t always stick to one opinion unless you’re really stubborn. 

So what I’m trying to say is that I still don’t know if I can hold that moral high ground up. I doubt it. I’m still against people that cause other people harm and I still want to improve and become a better human being. My ideals and principles haven’t changed at all… but I can’t act as if that one small Indie Studio is the worst part of the Gaming Industry when it’s really just one dev there… and I can’t just ignore all the other parts of the Gaming Industry. Instead, I feel like it’s a lot easier to put up a disclaimer of sorts in a review. “The members of the studio distanced themselves from the lead dev (aka the terf) and I personally don’t like what the terf did but a lot of other people put their heart, sweat and blood into this game, so I’m still writing a review on this game. I hope you can understand” or something like that. 

I’m still torn about this. I still don’t know what to do about this. I’d love to hear a lot more opinions on the matter. If you’ve got one about it, please let me know. I’d be more than pleased to know. 

The Stray Sheep #35 – en passant

So, I thought I’d talk about the new headers I made for my blog (which I’m rather proud of!), how uni has been (as it just started), and what the current situation/final decision on the Heartbeat review is & something else.

Regarding the “en passant”, I thought it’d be cool to talk about how my week’s been now and then, like a diary – but public. And I like chess, so “en passant” felt like the right choice to make here!
Also “en passant” is a lot better than “Headerache!”, right? 🙂

The original pic

First things first, I love Dr Pepper and I thought the blog should resemble that.

But I needed more cans for that, so I had to buy three more cans which I enjoyed a lot (of course) and then I just shot the photo of this Dr Pepper Wall, made it look better (saturation and stuff?), then I’ve also added different “effects” to it. I really love the Pixel and Spiral one! Though the mosaic-esque (mosaesque? :D) is quite neat as well… Oh well, they’ll cycle through at random, so whenever you reload the page, you’ll see one of eight different header pictures! I may add more to the future and do special ones for Christmas and stuff but for now, these should be good enough.

The reason for me changing it at all was the fact that I actually wanted to do that quite early on when I created my blog back then in July, but then I kind of forgot and when I got annoyed by my headers being so different every time and also not cropped in the right way, I thought I should make a change.

That change was to crop them all in the recommended way, resulting in some games not being recognizable (as a friend mentioned, while someone else said that it sucks).
Also it didn’t make sense to see a header of “Cat Quest 2” when you’re reading a review on any other game.
Now, it looks better, in my opinion, and I’m kind of proud of it. Also, I can get rid of around 78 Dr Pepper cans. I’ll show you some in this post, I guess!

On to the other topic: University!

Uni has just started and I kicked it off with a fever, which was why I missed six hours worth of philosophy classes about Nietzsche, Freud, something about “objectivity, rationality and relativism” – and my Geometry course, which sucked. But apparently, those classes (apart from Geometry) were too full anyway, so that a friend of mine couldn’t listen to the Prof at all. I may have to change my Tuesday-lectures, which will be difficult and annoying to deal with.

Wednesday is my new Monday!

On Wednesdays, I’ve got Uni from 10 am to 6 pm and from 6 pm to 9 pm I’ve got literature club meetups. The courses themselves are quite full as well but really cool. I’m learning about thought experiments in one lecture while I’m trying to understand Machiavelli’s “Discorsi” in another. It’s quite cool actually. The other three hours are filled with math classes, so that’s that, I guess. On Thursday and Friday, I ended up having a huge migraine again, so I decided not to go to uni and instead ask a friend to send me pics of it.

So, I’ll be rather busy in the upcoming semester but I’ll also learn a lot for sure!

And the nearly-last topic is about Heartbeat, again.

I had a huge headache for quite some time now – and it may have been caused by me thinking too hard about whether or not I should review it. Recommending it means supporting a transphobic dev, while not recommending it would means giving some devs at Chumsoft shit for one dev’s views. Not writing a review about it, would be like denying that game’s existence solely based on someone else’s political views… in the end, I’ve decided not to post at all, which I’ve declared in a post-posting-edit, in “Large”. Thought I should say it here as well.

Last but not least: Drama with a person twitter

I don’t like it when people argue and I myself don’t like arguing at all, either. If possible I’d like to resolve things nicely. A while ago I got that rude message (which I’ve made a post about that was meant to be a bit uplifting as in “Don’t change yourself for others” or something like that).
Long story short, that person was rather rude to me in the private messages, called me a stalker in several tweets as I’ve answered to her message once and she kept blocking me, then unblocking me to write a rude and toxic message before ultimately blocking me again.

In the end, I decided to block her myself, too. Blocking someone doesn’t seem like something an adult should do as you should try to just avoid people on your own when you can’t get along with them. Blocking people is like running away while ignoring someone is a bit less childish, in my opinion, but I guess sometimes it’s necessary.

So, all in all:

Ever since I decided not to post about Heartbeat and ever since I’ve blocked that toxic person, my head’s been better, so I guess it’s all fine now. I’m quite sure that the Heartbeat-matter messed with me more but removing all kinds of saltiness and toxicity can’t be bad. Next step would be to stop playing League of Legends, I guess! (that’s a joke btw)

Tomorrow I’ll have to get some duties done and finish this other review here up, but I may as well post it on Monday or Tuesday, as I don’t want to stress myself too much, still being sickly and all of that.

Either way, I hope you all enjoyed this post and I hope that you all are well/not sick at all. Stay hydrated!

Cheers!

The Stray Sheep #34 – my dilemma

This week is full of posts because of creativity and me being bothered by something for quite some while at the same time hyped for the new Riot Games (who still is a small indie company for sure, kappa). A bit after posting that RoL post, my account was activated for Legends of Runeterra, which is awesome! But the post had not have had any views at all at that point, so I doubt that it had to do anything with it. 

On to another topic that is a bit heavier than other stuff. Naithin covered it on his blog already, but we basically had a discussion on the Blaugust blog just yesterday about taskbars. It’s really bothersome since my taskbar is on the right while apparently, a ton of people use it at the bottom (normies…) while some people use it at the top (hipsters…).. I mean, the right is perfectly fine and makes a lot more sense as you’ll be able to read more of your posts that way.

And of course, I’m just joking around. While it is interesting, it’s not today’s topic. 

I recently have posted about what’s up and my quick little break and the fact that I haven’t posted much and that I said that I was gonna cover three games quite soon: Heartbeat, Guacamelee!, and The Swindle. 

Cute little kitties and stuff that resemble some of Heartbeat’s characters.

This post is about something very bothersome about Heartbeat. 

So, Heartbeat is basically an Indie Game where you are a Conjurer who battles feral Mogwais and helps out people in your town. You then embark on a journey to find out about weird wisp that’s been stealing the cores (hearts) of Mogwais that are from The Den. To do so, you train, solve puzzles, battle Mogwais, find new friends and allies along the way who will fight by your side or help you out, and do lots of other stuff! 

The game is overall very cheerful and happy and embraces ideas and values about empathy, love, lesbianism, friendship and other great things! I love the soundtrack, the fighting system, the story, the characters and my little Mao, a cute little baby moth that you raise and that evolves depending on what you feed it. It’s got a ton of cute little system and you can fish in it (which is, as always, the most important reason), achievements, an arena mode of sorts, alchemy, interesting upgrade systems, tons of humour revolving around meta-jokes about it all maybe being a simulation and not real at all, which got me to chuckle quite often, and a lot more reasons why I love it. It has waited for so long in my backlog and I only know had the time and urge to play it, which I kind of regret. 

A gatcha minigame in the game.

If I had reviewed it in Blaugust, I wouldn’t have had this dilemma right now, as it all started in September. 

Nicotine, the lead dev’s girlfriend, is a TERF. By that, I don’t mean the slur or insult (as that’d be super rude, even for a TERF….) but rather the term that describes trans-exclusionary radical feminists, feminists that end up not seeing trans-women as women, excluding them from women’s spaces, and fighting against trans-rights. 

TERFs are basically shitheads. And while I don’t want to make my blog about political or other views, I myself am an LGBTQIA+ ally (apparently you can’t be pro LGBTQIA+ if you’re straight, so you gotta be an ally) and I’ve got tons of friends who fall into that spectrum and who had it tough with the coming out and all of that. Even in Germany, there are still people that believe that all gay or trans people have to die or whatever, which is ridiculous.

Thankfully the town I moved to and my uni are great places to be and there’s no space for trans, homo and xenophobia and all of that. If you’re a misogynist, a transphobe, a homophobe, a racist, or xenophobe, or even a TERF, please don’t comment any of that stuff on here or on my blog in general as I don’t want this to become a place for that stuff.

Back to Nicotine: She made clear that those things were “her opinion” and that she just listed it and that her girlfriend’s game has nothing to do with it. Shepple and Nicotine are in a lesbian relationship and should be fully aware of the hardships of people in the LGBTQIA+ spectrum and yet, they are TERFs. I say “they” but, so far, only Nicotine said stuff like that, right? 

Secrets!

Well,… actually… Shepple herself is getting accused of having said similar things in DMs and in a secret channel on her discord server.

Also, after a statistic came out. 

“The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute report the attempted suicide rate among transgender people is 41%. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims 35% of transgender high school students have also reported suicide attempts.”

And at the same time, Shepple (apparently coincidentally) put a discount on the game on Steam for 35% and 41% when combined with the game’s soundtrack. Absolutely. Disgusting. It can’t really be a coincidence, but at the same time, the Heartbeat community is full of transgender people and promotes empathy and love! 

So, there’s the benefit of the doubt there, but still…

In the end, one dev cut ties with Chumbosoft, the studio of Heartbeat. Other devs and Chumbosoft distanced themselves from Shepple and her views.

My dilemma is the following: I love Heartbeat and really recommend the game. But I can’t support a game whose lead dev is a TERF. I can’t support a dev who is mocking trans people in such a disgusting way. By recommending it I’d be giving a – rather small but still a – platform to possible transphobic thoughts or people that want to support Shepple or people that also TERFs or shitheads. I don’t know if I can do that. But I also cannot not-recommend a game that is so good and those many things that are done well along with the beautiful messages that should also count for trans people about empathy, love and everything. 

I planned on listing the shitheaded-ness of Shepple as a flaw. A paragraph on the end of my review but that’s not enough, I guess. 

“Here’s the game, it’s great, I love it. But that dev is a shithead and you’ll support someone who’s transphobic while also supporting people that distance themselves and that aren’t.” 

That felt like the best possible compromise, or just making a post about (which I ended up making). Naithin from timetoloot.com made a post about the matter and I hope that this post about the matter justifies the heaviness of the whole thing. In the end, I cannot not-recommend a game this good to people. I want to write a review on it. But I’ll add two disclaimers to it stating a short brief summary of the matter and what happened at the beginning and the end of the review, linking to this post here, before then reviewing the game. 

It’s similar to the dilemma of artists and their personal life, where you can’t support an artist who is also a child abuser as you don’t want to support a child abuser, but at the same time you cannot avoid his movie as you’d be missing out on that actor’s movies that are “this good”. 

I’d like to see personal views/life as a completely separate thing from their art and craftsmanship. But it’s not possible in every case.

I don’t know how many racists have made the comfy pants I’m wearing. I don’t know how many homophobes have worked on my jacket, and yet I wear them. 

I don’t know if really only Shepple is responsible for the whole 35%/41% thing and if there’s not a transphobe in hiding at Chumsoft, and yet I love Heartbeat. 

I bought Heartbeat a year ago and now this story blew up in September but Blizzard’s decisions are covering it up quite well, which isn’t good at all. 

This post is longer than usual. As a summary: I don’t agree with Shepple’s or Nicotine’s views, I support LGBTQIA+ in every way, if you’re a jerk, a misogynist or whatever, please don’t comment here, and I will probably review this game in a few days but will put a fat disclaimer about the situation and tell people to not buy it if it bothers them. I guess that’s a compromise that I can live with. 

My head feels like it’s exploding from this migrane that I’ve got for two weeks now and I kind of think that Heartbeat and my dilemma have been reasons for it but maybe I’ll just need to get a checkup at a doc’s. Who knows. Anyways,…

Edit: I decided not to cover it.

I wish y’all a good day and hope that you get to live your life to the fullest in every way possible! I love y’all.

Edit: Added hyphens and “phobes” to certain passages for better understanding. Thanks for pointing it out, Nathin!