Saturday, 31 October 2015
The wilful daughter of landed aristocracy, Anita Sarkeesian was fated to endure boundless emotional torment, rained down upon her trim, corseted figure by her authoritarian stepfather.
The stern patriarch had grown tired of his rebellious ward's censorious condemnation of the card game 'whist'. Of particular irritation was her observation that the under-represented female characters in the game had all been predictably cast in the stereotypical role of Queen. He was furthermore greatly vexed by her insistence that there was no earthly reason why cards such as the Five of Diamonds, or (more scandalously) the Nine of Clubs couldn't also be female.
Hoping to put an end to the young girl's dangerous socially progressive leanings, the elder Sarkeesian commanded that she publicly debate her wayward opinions with Nigel Shirlicker – the ruggedly handsome swain of the Norfolk Shirlickers - who held strong opposing views upon this very matter.
When Anita heard that her sentiments were to be challenged as part of structured discussion she felt both devastated and harassed. To avoid the dreadful fate that awaited her the tearful maiden cut off her own head with a pair of garden shears.
Her apparition is said to roam the fens of Lower Glossop, judgmentally bleeding from her neck stump over anything that she finds problematic. Those who have encountered the shade, and survived with their sanity, claim that she can be temporarily banished by stuffing her spurting carotid arteries with money.
A local prophecy states that he (the prophecy is unfortunately rather sexist) who is able to toss a pair of gold hoop earrings over 'Skullkeesian's neck will dispel her from the earthly plane forever.
“I have no idea why people refer to her Skullkeesian,” said leading Ghostologist Donald Holmes, when asked by a MODE 5 reporter. “She has no head. It makes absolutely no fucking sense.”
Gazing disconsolately into the contents of a milk churn, while contemplating one's lot as a simple dairy farmer, one might, perchance, spy a curdled face trapped beneath the surface staring back, its fixed expression one of unfocused terror, as if perpetually startled by its own improbable existence.
Those who choose to linger upon this gloomy vision will perhaps witness an arm rising from the liquid and a clingy hand, cold like the grave, fastening itself around living flesh, as the tremoring mouth of the wretched, whey-faced entity forms the following the words:
“How terrified I am of you.”
Ghostologist, Donald Holmes, explains:
“Once the etheric parasite that is Brianna WooOOOOO! has escaped from its milk churn it will latch onto a set of victims, usually a family, and attempt to position itself at the centre of any drama, most of which will be of her own creation.
“Frequently she will boast of writing a damning condemnation of her hosts scrawled in blood on a post-it note, which she plans to transfer, on a larger scale, to one of the walls in the master bedroom. Householders shouldn't be too alarmed as this will almost certainly never happen.
Dairy farmer, Andrew Hartley, and his family have been haunted by Brianna WooOOOOO! For three years:
“This morning over breakfast Brianna informed me that every female living under my roof was terrified of me.
“Having consulted with my wife and my two teenage daughters it would appear that, far from being terrified, they regard me as a source of easy money and feel that I present very little threat to them.”
“When Brianna gets too overbearing I toss her some loose change, at which point she retreats into a corner and sulkily counts it into small piles.”
“The chilling reality is that Brianna WooOOOOO! may not even be the final form of this milk-obsessed, pan-dimensional parasite,” says Holmes. “I think it wants to be Batman or Samus Aran from the Metroid saga.”
When a fistful of coke-dusted sequins, scattered from the sunroof of a pink limousine by a Liza Minnelli impersonator, wrapped themselves around the dying wish of Elton John's most preening, flamboyant toucan, Undead Milo was born.
Undead Milo is a self-haunting apparition who wears sunglasses indoors, allegedly to shield his eyes from the glare of his own fabulousness.
Graham Knotts of the Pitsea-based recycling firm – Sunflower – said:
“I can confirm that Undead Milo manifested at our after-works drinks one evening, holding court for an hour, while ordering a succession of suggestively-named cocktails, before disappearing into the night with my Nigerian line manager"
Folk tales whispered by nannies to children of the landed gentry speak of the Bokhari – a unerring polite, but mischievous spirit.
According to legend, the Bokhari will arrive at the door of your stately home slightly later than expected, but well-spoken and impeccably turned out. Having been granted entry it will resolve a long-standing technical issue you have been having with one of your ethernet ports. After you have retired to bed it will shave the Triforce symbol from the Legend of Zelda saga into your croquet lawn before quietly departing.
The following morning you will receive a letter from the Bokhari penned in green ink, graciously thanking you for your hospitality. The letter will conclude with the disjointed sentences seguing, somewhat convolutedly, into the lyrics to the theme from the hit American sitcom - The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
Famed online as the woman who doxed Cthulhu, Harpy moved in with the monstrous cosmic entity in 2013.
“She brought some nice cushions that contrasted well with the non-euclidean geometry of the underwater city of R'lyeh, where I have slumbered for millennia,” said the squid-headed harbinger of the apocalypse.
“One morning I was rudely awakened by police officers who informed me they were answering a report of domestic violence at this address. I was later evicted from my home by court order. The sunken city of R'lyeh occupies a desirable rent-controlled area of the South Pacific. I believe that it was always Harpy's intent to oust me from it, so that she could have the place for herself.
“Everything that she touches is sullied by her compulsion to impose herself upon it. I once walked in on her greedily devouring a whole unicorn. Frankly it's a bit too much, even for me.”
Leading Ghostolglist, Donald Holmes, has studied Harpy through a powerful underwater telescope:
“Apparently Harpy is CEO of an organisation called the Online Abuse Prevention Initiative (OAPI). As you can imagine I deal with some fairly outlandish assertions on a daily basis yet, while I occasionally find evidence of ghostlike entities, even I find claims of the existence of OAPI to be far-fetched.”
She who literally cannot be named
Regrettably MODE 5 cannot invoke the true name of this shambling horror, whose faded tones bear the colours of the rainbows from which she derives her sustenance, without subjecting ourselves to aggressive legal action from her legal team.
Suffice to say that this malevolent entity seeks to bring about the subjugation of all living things, while expending the minimum amount of effort.
Occult student Anil Tarleton said: “She who literally cannot be named has achieved very little under her own limited powers.
“It would appear that she owes her ascension into the pantheon of Outer Gods to a succession of friendships and torrid romantic entanglements with various Great Old Ones and other cosmic horrors, dispensing with their services as soon as they are no longer of any further use to her.”
Tarleton's claims are substantiated by one of She who literally cannot be named's former boyfriends – the Outer God Yog Sothoth, who was once known as “the gate, the key and guardian of the gate” but who recently described himself as “the guardian of not much of anything these days.”
When MODE 5 approached the cult of Yog Sothoth for additional information on the couple's relationship, we were told:
This Scottish troll, slathered in the soiled plaid of his former clan, conceals himself beneath the beds of children, emerging after dark to ransack their closets for problematic toys and games, and replacing them with Noam Chomsky action figures.
Another contemporary folk devil who allegedly preys upon the joy of small children.
An urban legend speaks of parents receiving a phone call from the Nyberg, who regales them with salacious commentary on the underwear choices of a prepubescent female cousin.
When the police finally trace the call, the couple are horrified to discover that it is coming from inside the bedroom of their eight year old daughter!
The story generally ends in pathos, with the handcuffed Nyberg claiming Edgelord status, which grants it immunity from prosecution, and the traumatised family being given an informative leaflet on how to make their home more secure from burglars and other predators.
At the tail-end of any zombie mass-migration you are likely to find its root cause:
Banshee Alexander was pickled in brandy for three days before rising from the dead. A former hot mess, now downgraded to 'just a mess' she is commonly witnessed dressed in loose-fitting clothing that barely contains her flopping breasts, drunkenly cavorting among predominately male zombie gatherings, flinging her arms around the swaying, mouldering corpses and announcing that they “should all go to Vegas together”.
Zombie Studies Student, Jim Robinson, says:
“Banshee Alexander demonstrates significantly less coordination and control over her flailing limbs and bodily functions than the majority of her undead counterparts.
“You can tell that the zombies are really uncomfortable being around her by the manner in which they constantly shuffle away every time she breaks into a raucous chorus of Nickelback's Rockstar.
“I've even seen her lift wallets out of the pockets of zombies and remove all the cash before replacing them. It's obvious from their body language and facial expressions that the zombies don't want to pay for another round of vodka shots, but they lack the vocal chords to say 'No'”
Yes, this means you.
You are in fact dead.
I am sorry to be the one to break the bad news. We were hoping that M Night Shyamalan might oblige, but even he found the eventual twist too insultingly obvious.
I can prove using the internet that, as a gamer, you have died on many occasions over the course of the previous year.
Yet no matter how many times your demise is reported in the media, you rise once more from the dead.
As long as you keep getting up, the people who fear you can have no power over you, and they cannot harm you.
Now go forth into the night my terrors. Go forth I say!
Wednesday, 28 October 2015
A cackling old hag and her exasperated husband have issued a reluctant, mealy-mouthed apology to the giant they cursed.
The couple, who jointly run a small business refurbishing gingerbread cottages, objected to proclamations regarding the dubious activities of Princess Anita, that were bellowed across the kingdom by Thunderf00t - a giant who is described as having a neck as thick as Prince McIntosh, and whose heavy footsteps are believed, by the common peasant folk of the enchanted forest, to be the source of the cacophonous storms that flatten their straw houses every winter.
Speaking through the drifting tendrils of a soupy, pea-green mist that clouded the interior of a crystal ball, the foul wart-covered crone, said:
“I am only too happy to give praise when it is deserved, and to build people up where I feel that it is appropriate to do so. Only last week I took part in a panel interview where I informed Macbeth that, subject to reference checks, he would very likely be promoted to the position of Thane of Cawdor in the very near future.
“However when a royal subject casts aspersions 'pon Princess Anita - the fair usurper to the throne of this kingdom - and makes fun of her knuckle-brained, troll-like henchmen, then it's time to summon the flying monkeys.
“I freely admit to writing to Thunderf00t's employers in the mysterious flying castle at the summit of the magic beanstalk that grows in Jack's garden, demanding that they give him the option of either ceasing in his nursery rhyme attacks upon our royal family, or face the prospect of being magically transformed into a lowly frog. I encouraged other witches to do likewise.”
Public reaction to the letter writing campaign, which was described by one commentator as “wicked”, and widely condemned, has resulted in a climb-down by the enchantress, who was said by work colleagues to be visibly reeling from the backlash against her:
In a public statement she said:
“It appears that in publicising my mean-spirited campaign aimed at depriving a giant of his livelihood, I failed to take into account the 400,000 or so birds of the forest who, despite Thunderf00t's fearsome reputation and penchant for dining on entire flocks of sheep, sing sweetly into his ear as he dozes atop the gnawed bones of his casseroled enemies.
“The birds have actually done a lot of damage to my husband's business, pecking away at the foundations of our gingerbread headquarters, rendering it both shabby and structurally unsound, and not a good advertisement for the services that we provide.
“I am ready to admit that I was perhaps misguided in my actions and have possibly bitten off more than I can chew. At this moment in time I am no longer a laughing witch. I am literally weeping green caustic tears that dissolve all that they touch.”
Her husband - Jacob Broomstick - added:
“Sometimes it's hard being married to a witch. Earlier this year some punk kids masquerading as tech support for an oven we recently purchased, convinced my wife to baste herself in butter and salt before climbing inside to check whether the pilot light was on. The incident was filmed on our crystal ball and widely distributed across the kingdom.
"In time I hope that this will settle down and we can all live happily ever after.”
Thunderf00t: A profile
|"Hey, you forgot your dagger!"|
Thunderf00t rose to prominence in the kingdom following his controversial claims to have dis-proven the existence of God. In an interview published by in The Göttingen Inquisitor, he told a reporter:
“Standing, as I am so accustomed, at over 35 feet in height, I am tall enough to see into heaven and can confirm that, far from being the work of celestial beings, the city's silvery minuets are woven by a species of cloud-dwelling spider. The entire cobwebby edifice is reminiscent of a cover painting from a Michael Moorcock science-fantasy novel or the gate-fold sleeve artwork of a progressive rock album.”
As one of the more vocal giants in the kingdom, his insights into social and political issues, and proclivity for pulverising castle walls to fine powder, have caused him to be both admired and feared in equal measure by the populace.
“Every winter, terrible storms flatten our simple straw dwellings...” One villager said.
“...Our superstitious ancestors believed that these rumbles from the heavens and the accompanying high winds were generated by fearsome wolves who blew down our cottages, feasted upon our elderly loved ones, and then cavorted about in human clothing to satiate their sick sexual desires.
“Thanks to recent advancements in science we have moved past these superstitions and have identified these extreme weather patterns as originating from the galumphing giant Thunderf00t, as he pursues tailors dressed in seven-league boots the length and breadth of the kingdom.”
In 2011 Thunderf00t triumphed in the 'Best One-Headed Giant in the 30-40 Foot Height Range' category at the Wunderhorn Miracle Powder Annual Giant Awards.
Monday, 26 October 2015
For eight years the celebrity gossip and news website - Quisling - angled its cameras up the skirts of female celebrities disembarking from limousines, and plied the grubby corners of the internet for the sex tapes of the rich and famous, or their convincing pornalikes.
Former editor, Marc Ritter, recalls the afternoon when he returned to Quisling's SoHo, NY, offices to find burly men repossessing computer equipment and furniture, and instinctively knew that the era of the online media conglomerate was over:
“A sea change was taking place in front of me. I was literally watching a paradigm being dismantled piece-by-piece before my eyes. When one of the departing repo-men handed me a form to sign, I told him how humbled I was to have been given a front row seat at such a pivotal moment in the history of mass-media communications.”
In the aftermath, while panicked Quisling creditors attempted to establish the whereabouts of their investment, and redundant staff resigned themselves to the prospect of a grim future, where even an 8oz steamed soy latte, with extra wheatgrass essence, might lie beyond their financial means, Ritter was able to observe the situation with a cool detachment:
“As a clickbait media website we lost our way when we tied ourselves down to a premises, beanbag chairs and ping-pong tables. Online celebrity journalism needed to get back to its seamy origins and that meant a return to the gutter.”
Since July, Ritter has run Hoblo - one of a growing number of online editorials at the vanguard of an edgy new trend in pop-up blogging.
“It feels right and it feels now,” he tells me when we meet, appropriately enough, at a pop-up restaurant in up-and-coming Washington Heights, NY, where a dressed down hipster clientèle await the ladling of a nondescript opaque brown soup into waxed paper cups.
As we shuffle along the queue, he tells me more about his role in the rise of the street blog:
“The location of Hoblo changes on a daily, or sometimes even hourly basis, depending on environmental factors, which is what makes it so exciting. I could be blogging from a branch of McDonalds, a shop doorway, or a park bench. The only limits are the proximity of free wi-fi and the battery life on my iPod.”
A freedom from the constraints of office life has given Ritter the opportunity to reconnect with the city that gave birth to Quisling in the carefree summer of 2008:
“Last week I was sitting in Central Park watching as some fallen leaves caught by the breeze chased after a young female jogger. It really brought home to me something I think Laurie Penny said about 90% of all vegetation on the earth being constructs of the patriarchy.
“Unfortunately my electronics were dead so I wrote my article on a piece of cardboard and paraded around Times Square offering to read it to people for a small sum.”
Ritter was later arrested by the police and his article confiscated.
“There are still certain topics in this country that people aren't comfortable discussing. You can tell when you've hit a nerve,” he says conspiratorially, wiping a glistening brown smear of congealing soup from his week-old moustache with the back of his gloved hand.
Hoblo, he tells me, is a leaner product than Quisling. A conscious attempt has been made to bring down overheads:
“I told my former interns at Quisling not to worry. There are other companies out there where someone with a grossly-inflated sense of their own importance will shout at you for getting their coffee order slightly wrong. And the good news is that they'll pay you exactly the same amount as we did.”
In addition to downsizing staff costs, Hoblo, has also significantly reduced expenditure on premises and I.T:
“Ask me where my company servers are. I don't know. I've delegated that part of the operation to LiveJournal and Instagram. I log-on to their sites with my user details and post my content. They take care of the rest.”
As the business model for online media content delivery changes, so too have its sources of revenue:
“Previously our company was heavily reliant on sponsors and income derived from advertising. In hindsight this approach put barriers between ourselves and our readers. Now my subscribers are able to pay me directly for content by simply depositing a few coins in the paper cup that I keep with me.”
Attempts at opening new revenue streams have met with mixed results: In the past month Ritter has been arrested twice – on one occasion for trash theft and, on another, for stealing a pair of cashmere fingerless gloves from an upmarket boutique:
“I was allowed to keep them,” he boasts, proudly holding up his hands for my inspection. The gloves are already showing signs of considerable wear.
More recently Ritter was cautioned by police after he was observed peering in through the ground floor window of a Brooklyn residence.
Explaining his most recent run in with the law he tells me:
“I am methodically checking all residences in the New York area until I locate the dwelling of one Mr Hulk Hogan. Journalism is all about leg work and I've got two of them.”
It is late evening when Ritter and I finally part company on West 13th Street, in the heart of Manhattan's meatpacking district. Darkness has fallen and the cold is already beginning to bite. I slip him a few dollars to pay for the content I have accessed on Hoblo and advise him to find somewhere warm to stay the night. He thanks me graciously.
As I turn around and head for the bright lights of Lexington Avenue I hear him call out behind me:
“I'll be alright. I just need... You know that Rebecca kicked me out..."
Mercifully, at this point, I round the corner and am suddenly beyond the range of his broken monologue.
As Malvin Wald once concluded “There are eight million stories in the naked city.” Most of them concern the amusing activities of cats, but some are sob stories.
Friday, 23 October 2015
A wunderkind, who once triumphed to the tune of almost $400,000 on the venerable American game show Jeopardy!, has claimed that a doomsday device, known as an Overton Window, represents the best hope for destroying the GamerGate movement.
General knowledge warrior, Arthur Chu, told waiting passengers at the New York Port Authority Bus Terminal:
“By shifting the orientation of the Overton Window by 45 degrees either to the left or to the right, those searching for job opportunities within the Gamergate company will instead find themselves confronted by a bare brick wall that will hinder any further progress onto the internet, and cause what little brains they possess to liquefy and dribble out through their noses.”
Chu was later witnessed lecturing tourists who were queuing for a new Ages of Justin Bieber exhibit outside Madame Tussauds on 42nd Street:
“We can angle the window in a way that reflects the sun into eyes of GamerGaters, distracting them during online debates and forcing them to type with one hand, while using the other to shield their eyes from the fierce glare.”
“The window can also act as a lens, magnifying the heat of the sun and causing the clothing of GamerGaters to catch fire, and the flesh to melt from their bones in the extreme temperatures. Ha-Hah, Hah, HAH!”
Chu has been engaged in a long running crusade against GamerGate. Earlier this year he was seen muttering to scattered crowds on the Red Stairs in New York's Times Square:
“I will face any employee of GamerGate on the game show of their choosing. Be that Celebrity Squares, the English darts-themed game show – Bullseye, in which contestants who live miles from the sea are given the opportunity to win a speedboat, or on the daytime show Eurowall, where couples must answer rapid-fire, general knowledge questions to earn hand and footholds on a Europe-shaped wall, that one of them must scale at the end of the show, in order to win a four-star weekend for two in Prague.”
Nathan Vogel - Deputy Estates Manager at the GamerGate Ltd HQ in Aberdeen - told MODE 5:
“Chu is a superman, in the DC comics mould, and we are all but powerless to stop him. The only hint of a weakness we have observed thus far is in an interview with CCN, where he claimed to have known nerdy male rapists and, on occasions, knew that something was going on, but didn't say anything because he didn't want to stick his neck out.
“We are working on the premise that, for Chu, nerdy rapists represent a kind of kryptonite. Even brief exposure to these reprehensible sex dweebs, and their feculent Spiderman underpants, renders him mute, allowing his opponents an opportunity to get a word in edgeways.
“We also hypothesise that proximity to nerdy rapists neutralises Chu's mutant ability to elongate his neck and peer around corners, like Reed Richards in The Fantastic Four. Robbing Chu of this talent will immeasurably improve the chances of one of our GamerGate assault teams entering his front-room cushion fort undetected.”
Vogel says that he now plans to scour the world's most notorious prisons for suitable candidates, who he will convince to participate in a suicide mission on Chu's lair before he can deploy the Overton Window:
“What I require for this raid are the kind of twisted dorks who recited the script of the classic Star Trek episode – The City on the Edge of Forever – as they loomed over their terrified victims.
“It is my intention to assemble a squad of 20th level degenerates, who critically fumbled their saving throws against perversity, and were rightfully incarcerated for their misdeeds in the basements of maximum security facilities, where they subsist on prison Doritos made from bread crumb sweepings and rat fur, baked on radiators, and seasoned with powdered drain cleaner.”
At the time of writing 'Captain' Arthur Chu was said to be partway through a round the world voyage and unreachable for comment. He has been observed seated inside a large cardboard box on the fringes of Central Park rowing with a pair of wooden spoons against an imaginary current.
Wednesday, 21 October 2015
1. Staying up to date with the latest problematic trends in videogames is a seven day a week job for Sockeesian, who is pictured below researching masculine tropes from 2001 for a forthcoming YouTube video.
2. Acting on instructions from her colleague (a sentient male sporting undergarment named Jockintosh) Sockeesian has neutralised the fun element in this game of Screwball Scramble by removing the ball-bearing required to play.
3. Sockeesian strikes a blow against the dark side: "You shall not pedal your toxic hate speech on this university campus, you Sith-gendered oppressor! The force is non-consensual."
4. Sockeesian is aghast at the prevalence of white cis-gengered male buccaneers populating this pirate board game.
5. Sockeesian despairs at the hetero-normative pink and blue gender stereotyping in this so-called 'Game of Life'.
6. Sockeesian is incensed by Ghost Castle and its graphic depictions of supernatural axe-based violence against women.
7. Sockeesian reclines on her chaise lounge after another hard day at the social justice coal face. Hey, save some Wine Society champagne for us!
Sunday, 18 October 2015
Sock puppets from across London converged on a Finsbury Square bar last night for their annual South of England convention, and to celebrate the sock puppet New Year, which begins at 10pm on the 17th October.
The meeting also drew puppets from further afield - from the United States of America and even the north of the United Kingdom!
“The puppets are so lifelike that it's easy to mistake them for people, rather than fabric tubes, guided by puppeteers who skilfully blend themselves into the background,” remarked one awestruck observer.
“All the sock puppets were there,” enthused another: “There was wise feminist sock puppet, young journalist sock puppet, and the flamboyant sock puppet known as Milo who was celebrating his 12th birthday and was given a cake.”
The event took place under the threat of violence: In the past other sock puppet gatherings have been curtailed by bomb scares. Sock puppets living in Britain enjoy few rights and run the risk of being kidnapped and sold on the black market as mock Pokémon.
The day was marred only by the last minute withdrawal of The Guardian's Puppet Affairs Editor – Keith Stuart - from a panel discussion on whether sock puppetry was corrupting modern youth. The fleeing disgrace to modern journalism, who described the composition of the panel as “woefully unbalanced” later added:
“The discussion panel should have included other types of puppet, such as marionettes, those ones that they control with sticks at the West Hampstead Water Puppet Theatre, and the goose puppet from the play - War Horse.”
The convention also drew criticism from the finger-wagging Feminist Frequency spokesperson – Anita Sockeesian, who describes herself as half-sock puppet:
“Socks should not be fun. Socks are to be worn. Putting googly eyes on the toe part of a sock in 2015 is racist.”
The majority of sock puppets are amateurs who work day jobs as socks before reverting to their puppet form on evenings and non-working weekends.
“In my role as a sock I am expected to remain silent and focus on providing a porous barrier between the sole of my employer's foot and the inside of their shoe,” said sock puppet, Mary Collins.
“It's a demanding job with little opportunity for socialising. It was pleasant to meet with other sock puppets and discuss our shared life experiences.”
Saturday, 17 October 2015
(SATIRE/INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM) “Violent theft of women's time” fuels black market growth of extra-time power-ups in coin-op arcade games
It's hard to imagine that a generation raised on the convenience of console and PC gaming, would find anything remotely alluring in the faded glamour of tawdry provincial amusement arcades. Yet, in recent years, end of the line destinations such as the Golden Mile in Southend-on-Sea have come to represent a shabby, neon-lit Mecca, kindling the interests of a new breed of retro videogamer.
Very few of these contemporary enthusiasts are of an old enough vintage to tear-up with dewy-eyed nostalgia at the memory of the glory days of arcade gaming, when the weapons of choice were shop-soiled light guns, and cooperative multiplayer meant you and three of your friends jostling around an incarnation of the popular top-down dungeon crawler – Gauntlet - furiously mashing buttons.
“I quickly got tired of playing on arcade emulators at home. I realised that I wanted to get out of my bedroom and play Pac-Man in his natural environment...” writes Richard Kelly - co-founder of The Free Range Games movement, who was born almost 12 years after Space Invaders first captured the hearts and minds of teenagers bored-stiff of rolling dice and moving counters around in boardgames like Monopoly or Snakes and Ladders.
“...It turns out that Pac-Man's natural habitat is a cavernous brightly-lit shed, populated by unsavoury, destitute-looking characters and packs of feral children, situated next-door to a rough pub that once hosted meetings by the English Defence League, and a hole in the wall takeaway that dispenses chips and kebabs until 3am. It's a place where obscure arcade classics, many of which are poorly translated Japanese titles bearing names such as Cobra Limpet, Arena Skies and Bat Compiler, rub shoulders with ranks of chirping slot machines, penny waterfalls and claw cranes stocked with 'Beats by Dr Dre' headphones of dubious provenance and Minions soft toys.”
Kelly's obsessive search for the roots of videogaming has carried him the length and breadth of the United Kingdom and beyond, from the stuffy alcoves of cross channel ferries, to the tiny lobbies of independent fast food takeaways, to social clubs bordering remote caravan parks, where the puny 'pew-pew' of a laser cannon and the concussion blasts of exploding space boulders, resonating from an Asteroids table arcade, competes with the repetitive thud of darts.
For a hardcore cadre of amusement arcade regulars, racing games remain the big draw. The genre, which mostly forgoes any pretence of storytelling in favour of advancement through a succession of increasingly difficult circuits, is well-suited to the short sessions typical of the arcade gaming experience. Many of the most popular racers offer players a level of immersion that they would not get in a home setting, with realistic vehicle cockpits incorporating steering wheels, accelerator, brake, and clutch pedals, gear shifts, handbrakes, glove compartments, electric windows, and a three year warranty.
Games of this type often include time trials in which players must reach destinations within tight schedules, assisted by any extra-time power-ups they manage to gather along the way. Failure to meet these targets is brutally punished with the player usually required to deposit additional 50 pence pieces in order to continue.
At the age of 11, Mark Remy was a regular at his local gaming arcade. A veteran of racing simulators, he cruised the digital highways of Miami and other exotic locales in a variety of high-end virtual sports cars and articulated trucks.
“Back then it was all about the horsepower and the torque,” he reminisces over a cup of tea, in a cafe a few doors down from the arcade where he first earned his racing stripes.
“There were always plenty of extra-time bonuses to collect in those games. I never once thought about where all those additional seconds might be coming from.”
In 2014 Remy turned his back on videogames and now fronts a local school outreach programme for children hooked on driving sims. His sudden change of heart followed a chance encounter with a former classmate - Donna.
“We sat opposite each other for a year in Mr Kilby's European Studies class but when I bumped into her in the street, a few months ago, I almost didn't recognise her. She looked about 80 years old. She told me that she had recently undergone a second hip replacement. Then she offered me an unwrapped Werther's Orginals toffee with a used green tissue stuck to it. I politely declined.”
After leaving school Donna had fallen in with a bad crowd on the notorious 4tune website. When she announced in a heartfelt goodbye post that she was leaving the message board she found herself the target of internet trolls who began to relentlessly spam her social media accounts with insults and threats – a practice referred to online as 'dog-pounding.'
At the peak of this internet harassment Donna was spending, on average, an additional 6000 hours each day going through the messages left for her by trolls, who gleefully informed her of their plan to keep spamming her accounts until she was aged over 9000 years old. Reading one lengthy message left on her Facebook page (which turned out to be a cut and paste of Leo Tolstoy's novel – War And Peace - translated into German) caused her to miss both her 18th and 21st birthdays and spend a small fortune on German language lessons.
It all adds up,” says Remy. “These 4tune trolls stole her youth, her middle age and her twilight years, all so they could level up in their sick game.
“Those hours that she spent in front of her computer reading those vile hate messages took a toll on her eyesight. As her vision deteriorated it took her longer to read the thousands of tweets and facebook wall updates she received each day, and she began to age more rapidly. At the end she was wearing four pairs of reading glasses. The coroner reported that she had the body of a 93 year old. In the space of just three months she had aged 70 years.”
Angela Welds from the anti-cyberviolence charity - Stolen Moments - has followed the increase in accelerated ageing among female internet users and identifies an escalation in online harassment as the root cause of this disturbing trend:
“There is an erroneous but widespread belief that these women are ageing prematurely as a result of a bad diet, a lack of exercise, or an allergic reaction to brightly-coloured hair dye, rather than as a direct consequence of sustained trolling.
“Make no mistake: This is a violent crime on a par with being dragged, kicking and screaming, into an alleyway by masked assailants, wrestled to the ground and having your handbag wrenched from your grasp. Although in a sense it's more serious since time rather than money is being stolen.
“The fact that, in 100% of all observed cases of online harassment, men are the perpetrators and women the victims, points, not so much to a gender gap than a gender canyon. At the heart of this coordinated campaign of harassment are cells of Men's Rights Activists who are jealous of the longer average lifespan enjoyed by women in developed countries, and who are seeking to address this imbalance through unscrupulous methods.”
According to C Drive sources cited in a recent UN study*(see footnote) every minute a billion seconds is lost as a result of internet trolling.
Many of these purloined moments find their way onto the black market where they are sold by criminal gangs, with the profits being used to fund real world terrorism.
Time extracted from trolling celebrity social media accounts is valuable and can be auctioned at a premium. Ironically the key market for this so-called 'prime time' is fading celebrities looking to extend their waning careers.
Seconds accumulated from the online hoi-polloi – unflatteringly referred to in underworld circles as 'the meat cloud' - is trafficked on the dark web where it is processed and sold in bulk to disguise its origins.
One of the main consumers of this 'standard-grade' time are the manufacturers of arcade machines, who use it as a crucial ingredient in the extra-time bonuses in their games. Usually these rewards for competent play grant a gamer no more than 30 additional seconds. Typically only 10-15% of this time will be human in origin with the remainder padded out with time harvested from female rabbits or mice who are given Twitter accounts and then relentlessly trolled. On average an arcade machine will need to be topped up with extra-time every 12 days.
A growing number of anti-harassment campaigners are calling for tighter laws governing the industry, to ensure that extra-time bonuses incorporate seconds obtained from ethical sources. Some are appealing for a percentage of the revenue from arcade games offering these bonuses to be donated to a fund aimed at combating online trolling. Others are demanding the abolition of extra-time bonuses altogether:
“Time is precious,” says Mothers Against Mario and Double Dragon founder, Chloe Decker. “We shouldn't have to tolerate it being stolen out from under us, just so some latch-key kid who can't afford a proper console can enjoy a few extra seconds playing a racing game.”
While some are willing to take the legislative route to industry reform, a vocal minority on the extreme fringes favours a more-direct approach. The twitter hashtag #PushPlayerOne aims to discourage gamers from playing arcade machines offering extra-time bonuses by 'accidentally' bumping into them or nudging them at crucial points during the gameplay.
The response to these concerns from the hardcore videogaming community has been sceptical with most regarding the claims made by Remy and the UN as far-fetched:
Mathematically it doesn't seem possible that someone with no coding experience could cram an additional 6000 hours into a standard earth day. The most I've managed is 45.” says Twitter user @Goatface_killah12.
In Sunspot Amusements on Southend seafront, battle-scared videogames patriarch, Paul 'Cressy' Creswell, takes a break from kicking-arse on the unfathomably challenging smooth-scrolling beat-em-up - Total Bain - to explain the philosophy behind arcade gaming:
“Arcade games speak to something at the centre of the human condition: The unpalatable truth is that some of us get more life than others and everybody's preoccupied with delaying the inevitable. Even if we are not aware of it, we are all looking for a little extra-time on this planet - a way to progress a little further into the game.”
* Defending Safe Spaces from Space Invaders (Buckenham & Mear 2012)
Skate Or Die: Deflowered On The Horns Of A Digital Dilemma (Lambert 1998)
Micro-Aggressions So Small They Cannot Be Seen, Even Using The World's Third- Most-Powerful Microscope (Dunmall & Chamberlain 2014)
Sunday, 11 October 2015
(SATIRE) 'Take Back The Tech' Twitter hashtag nets scientific calculator and original XBOX in record-breaking haul
A Casio scientific calculator, a 32MB memory stick for a Sony digital camera, and an original XBox were among the items recovered by the online slacktivist campaign – TakeBackTheTech.
At its peak the social media hashtag saw thousands donating technology, in the process helping to raise awareness of so-called online cyberviolence which, supporters claim, is directed exclusively against women.
One benefactor, who did not wish to be named, told MODE 5:
“Within an hour of the hashtag going live, a screeching gaggle of morbidly-obese, blue-haired women, nervously shadowed by a feeble huddle of cowed, hollow-eyed, bearded men, had erected something called a 'no rape zone' on my front lawn and were demanding that I give them my electric toothbrush.
“My five year old son, who was hiding behind me at the time, was accused of 'provisional stare rape' and donated his collection of Hexbugs in exchange for the police not being called.”
Campaigners are already putting the recovered technology to good use promoting social justice causes:
“The scientific calculator will resolve a long-standing problem faced by the organisers of slut walks,” said Gemma Cohen – Chair of the North American Slut Walks Committee:
“When working out the total attendees at our events we take into account not only the number of women present, but also the number of individuals they claim to have slept with. Our members are required to provide this figure to us in advance so that we can grade their level of sluttiness using our traffic light system, and determine their eligibility to attend a walk.
“Unfortunately this leads to a disparity between the photo evidence of attendance and the significantly higher numbers quoted in our quarterly reports.
“For the first time we have shared access to a scientific instrument that will enable us to demonstrate, step by step, how we come up with these inflated figures.
“It will also allow for better hands-on organisation at future events. Recently we were forced eject a British journalist from a slut walk in LA after his disproportionately high number of reported sexual partners took us way over the maximum number of attendees that we had previously agreed upon with city officials.”
Among the other prestige items salvaged by #TakeBackTheTech, an original Xbox was found to contain a copy of the third-person shooter Bad Boys: Miami Takedown.
Commenting on the discovery an organiser said: “The disk has been forwarded to noted videogames expert, Antia Sarkeesian, who will analyse the game for sexist content and will publish a video detailing her findings in 2037.”
#TakeBackTheTech has been cautiously welcomed by members of the Union of Professional Online Victims (UPOV), although some have expressed concerns that the hashtag could end up a victim of its own success.
It's a balancing act.” admits Sarah, who simultaneously campaigns against, and openly participates in, online harassment.
“Professional victimhood is a major growth industry online. Profits soared in 2014 and have remained steady over 2015. Inevitably, in the wake of any successful new industry there will be fresh legislation: We are currently lobbying for online anti-harrassment laws with enough flexibility to ensure that we can continue to claim victimisation and maintain the steady donation of sympathy bucks to the Patreon and PayPal accounts that, for many of us, remain our only source of income.
“We must also mitigate the risk of these new anti-harrassment laws being applied fairly and equally across the spectrum of cultures, genders and races, or precedence being given to women living under oppressive circumstances over-and-above those women, living in cities on the east and west coasts of the United States, who have been identified as most vulnerable to cyberviolence.
“We do not want to find ourselves in a position where this anti-harrassment legislation ends up being used against us and undermines our own home-grown harassment campaigns.”
Sarah's fears are echoed by Proffessor Margaret Norris – a Twitter hate mob strategist who is developing an Online Shaming NVQ programme at the Caudhil Park Vocational College in Ipswich:
“We have thankfully progressed to a point where being openly sexist and racist is no longer an impediment to pursuing a career as a Student Union Diversity Officer at London Goldsmiths College. That said, we still live in a world where this Diversity Officer can be summoned to court for daring to suggest, via social media, that all white men should be killed – something that all of us have thought at one time or another. Clearly as a society we still have a long way to go.”
The rise of the Tequality Movement
#TakeBackTheTech is the latest in a long line of campaigns that harness the empowering potential of the internet to address violence and gender discrimination.
In June of this year, social media played a pivotal role in disseminating libellous gossip that saw the Nobel Prize winning biochemist, Tim Hunt, forced to resign from his position as an honorary professor with the University College of London's Faculty of Life Sciences.
“Online hactivism has a proven track record of deposing men at the apex of their professions for minor or imagined slights, leaving their former positions vacant and ready to be occupied by women.” said unemployed Art History graduate, Violet Pelin:
“I have written to the UCL requesting that, in recognition of my role in ousting the misogynist shitlord, Hunt, I be named the next honorary professor at the Faculty of Life Sciences. So far the college has not responded. We'll see if they change their tune when I begin accusing members of their human resources team of sexual harassment.”
Critics of the Tequality Movement claim that its supporters are largely motivated by self-interest, limit their concerns to a small coterie of over-privileged women in developed nations while ignoring the plight of the genuinely oppressed, and pursue dubious tactics, such as the online mobbing of their critics, over more constructive action.
Professor Linda Brandish-Tailor - Head of Perplexing Physics at the Slade Institute – said:
“Many of the loudest voices bemoaning a paucity of women in tech are paper academics with degrees in soft humanities, such as Gender Studies. Had even a small percentage of these women chosen to pursue qualifications in STEM fields, which are intellectually more demanding and require greater dedication and hard work, then we would begin to see a shift towards a greater gender balance in the tech industry.
“The only remotely scientific achievement these protesters have demonstrated so far is a mastery of the quantum superposition principles necessary to both have one's cake and eat it.”
“Frankly some of these girls could do with eating less cake.”
Friday, 9 October 2015
When the edgelording is over
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