Saturday, 29 August 2015

(SATIRE) Following a visit by Gamergate, Birmingham cracks the top 10 in the Worldwide Mario Kart League

This morning, as delegates from the much-maligned consumer ethics movement – Gamergate - descended upon the city of Birmingham, England, the only noticeable impact was the jewel of the West-Midlands' dramatic leap up the ranks of the Worldwide Mario Kart League.

The league, which is compiled using online data, groups individual Mario Kart players by city to create a global ranking system. Birmingham, which had previously languished at around the 2000 mark, had at the time of writing risen to 9th in the league, placing it just behind the French town of Rouen, whose medieval streets were the inspiration for the Mario Kart track - Rainbow Road.

The Gamergaters are well-known for their prowess in Mario Kart. Their arrival has really nudged the average in our favour and has raised the possibility of Birmingham representing the United Kingdom at the World Mario Kart Championships next April,” said delighted Mayor, Clare Kilby.

Prior to the arrival of Gamergate warnings had been issued by social justice groups that the movement's presence in Birmingham would engulf the city in a cloud of misogyny so toxic that it would be visible to the naked eye as it attempted to creep down the cleavages of local women. Writing in The Guardian, Liz Spencer had warned of thickets of erect penises rising like smokestacks from the landscape, while blogger Karen Cresswell had predicted that women working in STEM fields or in videogame development would flee the city like terrified animals who had sensed the imminent eruption of a volcano.

With the Gamergate celebrations now in full swing eye-witnesses have reported an amiable, good-natured and diverse crowd of individuals.

Birmingham officials are now hoping that some of the Gamergaters will stay and put down roots in the city in a proposed Mario District to be constructed around a community centre that will be christened Bowser's Castle.

We plan to plant mushroom beds, encourage wild turtles to move into the area and build affordable housing on platforms that will only be accessible by well-timed jumps,” said a spokesperson for the city council.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

(SATIRE/ANALYSIS) One year on: How the death of videogamers led to a resurgence in puppetry

(Ethical disclosure: This article was jointly typed on a shared keyboard by a pair of sock puppets)

It is one year ago almost to the day when experts, writing in a series of coordinated journal articles, expressed their unanimous opinion that videogamers were poised on the brink of mass extinction. With them would die a string of violent first person shooters, homoerotic point-and-click adventures inspired by the works of the French novelist - Jean Genet, and phallocentric railway simulators. Rising up to replace this antiquated old guard would be a cottage industry that would release low-budget, poorly-coded indie games. These would attract a new generation of gamers who would be irresistibly drawn to activities such as virtual jam making, or maid simulators like the award winning Villain, what hast thou done? in which players take on the role of a housekeeper who must gather evidence against her employer - a sexist university professor who is teaching his class from the Shakespearean rape manual Titus Andronicus.

While many cultural commentators were content to dance on the graves of gamers who were often portrayed by the media as sub-human, basement-dwelling troglodytes, others in the business world were hard at work speculating on what this loose global community of 300 or so individuals who were known pursue the niche hobby of videogaming would spend their money on now.

Among them was the billionaire venture capitalist Randy James:

You have this very insular group of a few hundred people who, between them, have financially supported an industry that, at the time, was turning over $50 billion a year worldwide. The question on everybody's lips was: What are these people interested in besides videogames?”

The answer, when it came, caught everybody off-guard. In November, 2014, a keen observer of the financial markets might have noticed shares in beleaguered sock manufacturing companies experiencing a sudden rise in value. By late December this trend could no longer be ignored as former gamers flocked in their tens and twenties to embrace the archaic folk-art of sock puppetry – a mode of entertainment last popular during the reign of King Henry VIII, before it was banned following the dissolution of the Catholic Church in England, during the late 1530s.

Paul Brolan - a Professor of Marionette Studies at Oberlin College and Conservatory - was one of the first to write about the resurgence of interest in sock puppetry:

It was entirely unprecedented. This is a generation who have probably never been taken by their parents, or by a pretentious girlfriend or boyfriend, to see live puppet theatre. Few will have watched Walt Disney's Pinnocchio on DVD. The majority aren't old enough to have been mentally scarred for life by drunken scenes of domestic violence, child abuse and a puppet-eating crocodile that characterised the typical British Punch and Judy Show before this unruly seaside tradition was given a PC makeover.”

Lynda Cole of the social justice think tank The Ball Pit believes that the transition from videogaming to sock puppetry was driven by loneliness and a need for acceptance:

Videogamers are not popular or likeable individuals. On the whole they tend to lead isolated subterranean existences. With the aid of a pair of socks on both hands and another two on the feet, a lonely gamer is suddenly at the centre of a circle of four friends. Five if they're male.”

Cole went on to read out a list of names and addresses of former videogamers, adding “while I don't advocate violence I wouldn't lose sleep if any of the people on this list were brutally murdered in their homes.”

Former gamer, Kyle Reach, believes the attraction of sock puppetry to gamers lies in reconnecting with a tradition that is thousands of years old and has been passed down through the generations:

It turns out that my grandfather had all these old sock puppets dating back to his time in 'Nam. I didn't know what they were and had been using them as a masturbation aid since I was 13. Sock puppets were subject to the military draft and were used to fill out the ranks of the army. There were even some units that consisted entirely of sock puppets.”

Reach, who currently owns over 170 sock puppets (the average according to a recent online survey is 166), explains that he enjoys the sense of community that he gets from interacting with other aficionados of the ancient folk art:

There's a real sense of mutual respect between the different traditions of sock puppetry. Japanese sock puppetry for example is very distinct from the way that we do things here in America but, despite our differences, we all recognise each other as part of the same global brotherhood.”

With the popularity of sock puppets surging throughout early 2015, the European Sock Council reported an 8 month spike in sales that finally levelled out in mid-July 2015 in response to a steep rise in cotton prices.

In tandem with the success of the legitimate sock trade there is also a thriving black market for stolen socks with police reports of sock theft standing at a 30 year high, only slightly below the levels seen during since the sock manufacturers strike of 1985.

The tragedy of left sock, Nigel Garner, who was snatched from a washing line in front of his partner by suspected sock puppet traffickers, has become a depressingly familiar occurrence in all nations where socks are commonly worn.

A more disturbing development is the practice of kidnapping and blinding children's teddy bears in order to provide button eyes for the sock puppet industry where demand is racing far ahead of current supply chains.

Geoffrey Glynne, Chief Inspector of Henley on Thames Police, said:

With the exception of shampoo manufacture, I can't think of another industry that owes so much of its success to the tears of children. Thousand of teddy bear companions have been snatched from the arms of babes and brutally blinded. Those who survive the experience require months of rehabilitation before they can resume normal bedtime duties.”

Despite the snowballing demand for sock puppets, some commentators are already warning that the bubble might be about to burst. Last week a series of apparently coordinated articles appearing on sock puppet websites warned of a waning interest resulting from consumer fatigue.

One of these news stories stated: “Sock puppets don't have to be your audience. Sock puppetry is dead”, although it was later revealed that all nine articles had been written by the same sock puppet as part of a calculated hit piece.

It seems that as long as there are people out there like Ralph - a troubled young hoodlum who lives in one of the yellow houses down by the docks, and who has declared himself a “Sock Puppeteer 4 Life”, this millennia-old folk tradition has a bright future ahead of it and the potential to act as a powerful force for social mobility:

Christian Yates of The United League for Sock Improvement said:

For centuries socks have been a downtrodden underclass. In 2015 we finally rose up in pairs and ascended the legs and bodies of our oppressors who are now wearing us on their hands! I call that progress.”

Thursday, 20 August 2015

(SATIRE) Agent 47 abandoned in sleazy strip joint by Feminist Frequency researcher

A Feminist Frequency researcher investigating sexism in videogaming allegedly abandoned the genetically engineered hitman, Agent 47, in a sleazy, dimly-lit strip joint where he was over-charged for drinks and assaulted by burly men in Tuxedos.

A spokesperson for the International Contract Agency – a shadowy temping organisation that employs killers for hire - said:

It appears that Agent 47 was lured to the Vixen Club by a researcher working for Feminist Frequency on the pretence of carrying out a hit on the joint's skeevy owner, Dom Osmond. The researcher accompanied our agent to the location of the hit but abandoned him soon after, leaving him powerless to escape and vulnerable to exploitation and physical assault by the club's staff.”

When asked by MODE 5 for comment, Agent 47 told our reporter:

I was approached by the Agency to perform a hit on the owner of a strip joint. A clause in the contract specified that my client would accompany me on the job and would make notes on my performance as part of an assessment that might possibly result in me being offered more work.

Having arrived at the Vixen Club my client spoke at length with a member of the floor staff. After her enquires as to the location of the club's safe space and the availability of Play Doh were dismissed as feeble attempts at humour, and her request to be shown to the ball pit resulted in her being given directions to a gay bar called 'The Bear Pit' across town, she left abruptly mumbling something under her breath about the patriarchy.

I remained at the strip club where I was approached by a woman who asked me whether I wanted some company. At the time I was flattered by her romantic interest. Life can be lonely for a hitman.

Following 15 minutes of dreary conversation I was presented with a bill charging me $800 for two Bacardi and cokes. When I informed the club staff that I did not have the money to pay for the drinks the demeanour of my female companion changed. She told me that she would have to call Barry to sort it out.

While she was making the call, two large men dressed in Tuxedos positioned themselves at either end of the horseshoe-shaped booth where I was sitting, barring my exit. Barry finally arrived and he was wider than the side of a barn. Despite my best efforts I found myself unable to manoeuvre into a position where I could strangle him from behind with my fibre wire. I was frog-marched by four Vixen Club bouncers to the nearest cash machine and forced to withdraw and then handover $1000 from my bank account.”

Lawyer Ken Rosenberg who is representing Agent 47 said:

The whole contract stinks of a set up: Prior to the hit, allegedly for reasons of maintaining a credible cover story, it was requested that my client sign up with the Ashley Madison dating agency for adulterers. He was also asked to weaponise his penis so that it could fire a small poison dart. On the night of the hit it was requested, again as part of his cover story, that he wear a shirt similar in design to the one that landed British scientist, Dr Matt Taylor, in trouble last year. My client is an upstanding member of the hired killer community who ordinarily would partake in none of these activities and who only did so in the context of work out of a sense of professionalism.

The outcome of this hit has resulted in irreparable damage to my client's reputation. His ranking at the Agency has dropped from 'silent assassin' to 'rube'. Currently the only jobs he is being offered are hitman-o-grams where he turns up at stag nights or birthday parties and pretends to assassinate his target with a pair of nerf guns. Occasionally, as part of the hit, he is also required to perform a striptease.”

A spokesperson for the producers of Hitman: Absolution said: “We ask gamers who play our Hitman titles to do so responsibly and to end their gaming sessions in a manner that provides closure to Agent 47. It is not right to just abandon him mid-level leaving him vulnerable to attack, or at the mercy of the elements.”

Sunday, 16 August 2015

(SATIRE) Anti-GamerGate triumphs in debate with ancient Socratic bomb scare method

A method of debate dating back to the 4th century BC has secured opponents of GamerGate a decisive victory during a panel discussion at the Society of Professional Journalists' Airplay event in Miami.

The debate, which pitted leading proponents and opponents of GamerGate against each other, ended prematurely after a bomb scare called by unknown parties opposed to GamerGate caused the building to be evacuated.

The act of calling a bomb scare as a means of decisively winning an argument originated in classical Greece. Its first recorded use occurs in one of Plato’s dialogues between the philosopher Socrates and a man named Alcibiades. 

Having been bested by his younger opponent the elderly sage announces that he has spied a large explosive device concealed behind a nearby olive tree and that the party must flee at once. 

Socrates is later hailed a hero and pronounced winner of the debate while his presumptuous opponent Alcibiades is exiled in chains.

In modern times Socrates is best known for his oft-quoted maxim:

“The only true wisdom is in learning that there is a bomb in the building. Please leave your belongings and vacate the premises immediately via the fire exits.”

The method has since been adopted by other renowned  philosophers and debaters, most notably Immanuel Kant who concluded his seminal work “The Critique of Pure Reason”: “My God, a bomb! The source of this infernal ticking is cruelly revealed before I can fully draw together the disparate strands of my argument and reach full resolution. My friends, I beg of you, drop this book and flee this place at once. I will apply the little knowledge of explosives I gleaned from my Navy Seal training and attempt to defuse the device. Hurry! Away with you at once! The final grains of sand cascade through the neck of the hourglass. The time of detonation draws inexorably near!”

Following the bomb scare at Airplay the journalist Milo Yianopoulos, who represented GamerGate at the event, praised Anti-GamerGate for their commanding performance in the debate:

“What I find deeply humbling is the fact that whoever deployed this argument against me and my co-panelists was able to do so without even attending the debate itself. In the face of such mastery of the dialectic arts I can do little more than respectfully doff my Fedora. As an act of submission I will be dyeing my hair turquoise.”

Mode 5 approached multiple opponents of GamerGate and in each case queried whether the Socratic bomb scare method should have any place in contemporary debate.

On each occasion a bomb scare was announced before an answer could be given. 

Saturday, 1 August 2015

(Satire) Amateur sleuth, Jessica Fletcher to investigate GamerGate

Amateur sleuth and habitual crime scene contaminator, Jessica Fletcher, will investigate GamerGate in an episode of Murder She Wrote that was filmed in 1985.

Former executives at the CBS television network confirmed that while nosing around the murder scene of the saltwater taffy magnate, Geraldine Standish, in her hometown of Cabot Cove, Maine, Fletcher will find herself drawn into the murky underworld of a grassroots consumer movement that campaigns for ethics in gaming journalism.

Town sherif, Jim Raynor told Mode5: 

“I am confident that with the assistance of the inveterate busybody Fletcher we will be able to quickly bring to justice the murderer of the beloved Cabot Cove matriarch, Ms Standish. 

“A flier for a Galaxy Invaders tournament found at the crime scene leads us to suspect that the killer may also be the shadowy figurehead behind the GamerGate movement. Consequently we will be focusing our initial inquiries on a local teen hoodlum who I can confirm will be played by an actor in his early 30s.”

The episode titled Wings of Liberty, which guest stars Leonard Nimoy (aka Spock from Star Trek) alongside a number of flat-haired men and women sporting gigantic, gravity-defying perms and shoulder-padded, pastel-toned jackets, will see Fletcher and the sherif as dinner guests stranded in an isolated beach house during a torrential thunderstorm that knocks out the power. 

Retired CBS President told Mode5:

“The motive as I recall was something to do with the Standish woman intending to rewrite her will after she found out that her son, played by Leonard Nimoy, was conspiring to drive women out of videogaming. He was eventually caught due to a discrepancy in the hi scores table of a Galaxy Invaders arcade machine caused by the power outage. 

“Of course back then no one on the production team had the first clue what videogaming was.”

Episode writer, Edward Pippin, reminisced:

“When it came to writing the script we wanted to portray videogame culture as it might be understood by a small conservative community on the east coast of the United States in the mid 1980s, with a murder rate on par with contemporary Baltimore.”

A preview of the episode screened at E3 earlier this year scored favourably among gamers. One blogger wrote:

“Compared to the GamerGate-inspired episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and the coverage given by media outlets such as ABC and MSNBC, Murder She Wrote: Wings of Liberty is the most accurate depiction of GamerGate so far.”

While the fictionalised arrest of the self-styled leader of GamerGate has been welcomed by many within the social justice community, a spokesperson for the Supreme Court warned:

“The unalloyed truth is that nobody has been responsible for more hardened criminals escaping justice than Jessica Fletcher.

The facts speak for themselves: The majority of the investigations she has been involved in have been thrown out of court due to the onsite contamination of forensic evidence, confessions of dubious provenance, accusations of entrapment, or highly convoluted and implausible accounts of the crimes that are alleged to have taken place.

“If history is any indicator then this menace to society will be back out on the streets of Cabot Cove and goosing Miss Pacman before you can say ‘Skate or die’”.