The Doom That Came to Cowtown

Avacal June Coronation 2015 GBU
An actual picture of me.
2015, or as I could put it, Avacal's first Coronation.

  • Hey, we're a Kingdom now. Cool.
  • Lots of deserving folks got recognized for stuff. Of note, snooness is on vigil to become a member of the Order of the Laurel.
  • First camping event in a long time where I wasn't freezing my nuts off at night.
  • Good camping neighbours.
  • Really good archery tournament - and I'd have said that even if I wasn't the...
  • Kingdom's first Champion of Arrows! That would be me. More on that below.

  • It was stinking hot. This wasn't so bad on Saturday, where most of my exertion was retrieving arrows. Friday when I was setting up camp, and Sunday when I was taking down camp, OTOH, left me soaked in sweat.
  • the spectre of anxiety and depression where ever present. I honestly don't know where I found the spoons to keep them away, but I did. That would normally warrant a "good", but it pisses me off that I keep having to exert mental resources.
  • Plenty of people I would have loved to sit and chat with. Largely didn't happen unless they were on the range.

  • Umm. Nothing? That's good, right?

  • Court was really long. It needed to be, but knowing that doesn't stop your butt from getting sore from sitting for four hours.


    Oh my god, I won the archery tournament. I didn't think I would, because of the tendency for people good at something to focus on their faults. Which is to say, I know enough about archery to recognize the huge amount of stuff I don't know about archery. And I paid attention to all the shots I missed, instead of to all the shots I made. I'm sure I'm not alone in that regard. I sometimes wonder if the SCA is just a large meeting of people with Impostor Syndrome.

    Evidence suggests I'm a good shot. I need to remember that, because saying "No, I'm really shit" isn't good for me, and is also insulting to the people who competed against me. Besides, they're pretty good.

    After the competition, my friend MJ convinced HRH and the previous champion to let us know who won, using the rational that the competitors in the heavy tournament know who won. This is probably a good thing, because I don't think I'd have stuck around in court otherwise.

    Other than that, court was pretty anxiety-provoking, because I hate being called up in court. Thankfully future courts will be OK, because no one pays attention to the people behind the thrones. Right?

    So what do I have to do? At a minimum, show up at the principle Kingdom-level events and any wars, attend any royal court for an event I'm at, and run a tournament to find my successor next year. In general? Promote archery and serve the Crown. Still not sure what that entails, but I'm sure I can figure it out. I'll be going to three times the number of events this year though, starting with A/T War, which I had no intention of attending, but there's allegedly an archery war point, and it would be kind of groovy if Avacal got it.

    I really hope I don't burn out.

    In the mean time, I'll be doing a lot of archery, but not competing in any of it. It's a good thing I like archery for its own sake.

    And for the record, it's been two days, and I'm still freaking out. I think this feeling will pass sometime in June of 2016.
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  • From Fantastic to Mundane
    An actual picture of me.
    My mind wanders; sometimes it hits upon fantastic ideas that would be great for an SF story or RPG. Then my brain starts imagining the outcome of those fantastic ideas. Then those outcomes spawn more mundane concerns. Here's an example:

    • What if all of our stuff just vanished, leaving us behind. Alien Space Bats fuck with us in a way similar to the Emberverse.
    • Ugh. A lot of people in airplanes and high buildings are going to fall to their death.
    • I wonder what the odds of that happening to me are?
    • my office is on the ground floor - if I fall, it will be into the pit where my building's basement is.
    • Wait... Does my building even have a basement? I imagine it does, but I've seen no evidence of that. There's no parking garage, no low windows, and no doors that lead down.
    From post-apocalyptic scenario to wondering if my office has a basement... in seconds!

    Touristy in the UK 2015, Part N - Bad Day, But Not as Bad as Others
    I'm trying really hard not to beat myself up mentally now, and I'm largely failing. No self-deprecating comments coming from the demons of depression... I hope.

    So anyway, Today was the day that I was going to fly back to Canada. Short version: that didn't happen. What did happen was a combination of problems small and large that conspired to keep me from the airport in time to make my flight.

    My flight was to be at 6:50, and I aimed to be at the airport by 4:30. I was a little late getting to King's Cross, where I had stashed my luggage. Getting my luggage killed about 15 minutes of my leeway. No problem, I still had plenty of time.

    Next up was trying to find a stamp for one of the postcards I needed to mail. Post office was across the street from King's Cross, so that blew another 15 minutes. Getting on the train, I still had 90 minutes to go, which is more-or-less what they tell you to do.

    The train lurched out of the station and a 77 year old lady standing about 5 meters away from me fell backwards onto the floor of the train. There was immediate screaming and she was clearly in a lot of pain. Also she was immediately surrounded by people offering help. At this point she was in major distress and someone hit the train's emergency button. The train immediately came to a halt between stations and the driver used the intercom to ask what the problem was. Once he got an answer from one of the helpers, he slowly proceeded to the next station and asked the other passengers if there was a doctor or someone with first aid on board who could assist. A young lady arrived to help and showed the train officials her official "Me Doctor" card. She was quickly followed by another doctor, who opted to let her be the primary while he just hung around to run interference for her.

    "Running interference" turned out to be pretty accurate, as the train officials really wanted to push the train to the next station for some reason (I'm guessing to route other trains around better). They really wanted his or her blessing to do this, and neither were having it (The old lady had apparently had spinal injuries in the past, and you don't just shake and rattle a possible spinal injury. The phrases "As a Doctor we're telling you to not move this train", "That's against our recommendation", and "If this was your mother, you'd agree with us". They eventually 'compromised' by driving really slowly to the next station.

    At that point they announced that the train would be here for at least a half an hour, so if you wanted to exit and find other transport methods, to do so. It was at this point that I should have high-tailed it to the surface and grabbed a cab. I didn't, reasoning that - even with a half-hour delay - this was still my best bet to get to the airport in a timely fashion. I settled in to see how this all turned out.

    First thing was that it took a really long time for the medics to arrive. I'm wondering if they arrived at the correct station, since they moved the train. The lady doctor stuck by that old woman the whole time, slowly making a prognosis. I fell a little in love with her. A random bystander was helping make her comfortable. Eventually a group of three showed up and took over from the two doctors. They stuck around in the background, just in case.

    Next, a second set of medics showed up, so there was now a total of six. They repeated a lot of what lady doctor did, but also used more equipment than she and her stethoscope had. After much assessing, they administering of some kind of pain killer gas (and eventually, a shot of morphine). The gas and the morphine got her laughing towards the end. Then they finally got a back board under her and they were off. The male doctor took off and the lady doctor sat down and, after several stops of people swapping on and off the train, resumed just-another-commuter status. I should have given her the box of chocolates I had for bribing the flight attendants.

    Now at this point I was fucked, but didn't know it. I was still in central London and it was 5:30. I had an hour until my flight. Unbeknownst to me, they won't issue a boarding pass after T-45 minutes, and security won't let you through at T-35 minutes. There was no way I was going to get to Heathrow from central London in 15 minutes. To add insult to injury though, they switched the train's destination from terminal 5 to terminal 4, saying that the earlier destination was "in error". NO IT WASN'T YOU COCKSUCKERS, YOU MADE THE DECISION TO CHANGE IT. That cost me another two minutes as I had to get off at a station and wait for the next train to terminal 5.

    I got to the airport and ran to the departures level to print my boarding pass. The machine wouldn't let me, and I was directed to the British Airways agents.

    "My flight leaves in 25 minutes. Can you help me get on it?"
    "Short answer is no, but I can try to help you in other ways."

    I explain the problem and she eventually concludes that there are no more Calgary flights that day, and she starts looking at other alternatives. I notice that she's frowning at the screen.

    "That's a look that suggests there are no good options."
    "Very astute. The only flight I can get you on is the same one, but tomorrow."
    "So what's the problem?"
    "It's very expensive."

    She looks at a few other things and finally decides they're even worse.

    "Normally I'd charge you the difference in fares and then £180 fee on top for changing a booking. Seeing as how missing the flight wasn't your fault, I'm going to just charge you the £150 because the system won't let me not charge you something. Is that OK?"
    "It sounds better than the alternative, do what you have to do."

    She didn't have to do that, so I gave her the box of chocolates, even though I still think lady Doctor deserved them more.

    I left to find a hotel room. Heathrow has a kiosk where that's all they do and after some WTF moments ("I have a room for £350." "No!"), I finally got a room at the Marriott for £260 that included supper, breakfast, and wifi. When I told my tale of woe to the front desk clerk, he upgraded me to an executive suite. Note that an executive suite in UK parlance is a standard North American hotel room. Still, after two weeks of sleeping in broom closets, I'll take it.

    I'm finishing up the night writing this, and dwelling unhealthily on alternate scenarios that are in the past: What if I had decided to get that stamp at the airport - then I'd have been one train ahead and would never have heard of this or old lady. Hell, maybe she wouldn't have fallen. Maybe I should have grabbed a cab - I'm sure even the most expensive cab would have been better than the near £500 pounds missing my flight has cost me so far. It's unhealthy and depression-inducing, and yet I can't find a way to stop it. Oh well, it's late, maybe if I sleep. Still, I was really looking forward to sleeping in my own bed tonight. I just want to go home.
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    Touristy in the UK 2015, Part 1 - Unwanted Baggage
    An actual picture of me.
    Day one was really one and a half days, since it began Tuesday morning, and aside from a few fitful hours of sleep on the plane, ended late Wednesday night.

    The flight was uneventful, my seat was good (and I hold out hope of getting a similarly good seat on the way back) and British Airways does a fantastic job treating the second class customers. Heathrow was not as nightmarish as I’d been lead to believe (possibly because I was only in Terminal 5). I made a few mistakes though. The first one was buying a sim card at the first vending machine I saw. I should have waited for a shop, then I could 1) get a good one and test it, and 2) use Heathrow’s free wifi to look up my unlock code, which I seem to need every time I use a new sim. (2015-06-09: stumbled on a Three store and the tech fixed everything in less than two minutes - all is forgiven).

    Instead, I’ve had to endure several days of spotty internet because I can only use free wifi. That was easier ten years ago when wifi was new and people didn’t understand wifi security. Now, there’s wifi everywhere, and it’s all locked down.

    Then I had to take the tube to my hotel. Good: Only one tube line, Piccadilly, from Heathrow to the neighbourhood I wanted. Bad: Even so, it was a 70 minute trip, followed by a fifteen minute walk. Ugly: No room.

    I get to the Beaconsfield Inn (Recommended by othelianna with a solid “I still have my kidneys!”) only to find that they have no idea who I am. Thankfully I have a confirmation from Expedia. The staff vanishes into their secret lair – seriously, it was a secret door behind the door that was only four feet high – for a half an hour while they tried to figure out who’s fault it was. They claim Expedia never sent the confirmation to them.

    All of that was moot as far as I was concerned, I just wanted my room. Problem was, they were booked solid, they had no rooms in the hotel. They did, however, have a second building a kilometre away with microsuites that they rented. They insisted this was an upgrade. I’m not convinced, since the upgrade consists of a kitchen I’m not using, and 50% more walking to/from the tube station. Still, I’m impressed that my suite includes a double bed, toilet, shower, kitchen in the same square footage as my bedroom back home. And allegedly free wifi. I could connect to the wifi network easily, but the wifi router couldn’t talk to the internet.

    I explored for a bit and eventually returned to my room when I realized that I could barely keep my eyes open. That’s when the anxiety attack hit. I was exhausted, but could not sleep. I had no internet to distract me from my jerk brain. So I laid there in the dark, slowly gnawing on all of my failings, on how the trip was going to go horribly wrong, on how I’m going to die a miserable lonely failure, etc. Basically like I spend two minutes every night, but when my filters aren’t all down I just answer with “maybe so, but don’t dwell on it today” and move on. That night, I didn’t move on – instead, the demons feasted. And of course, I couldn’t even fall asleep.

    I think they only thing that kept me from simply packing everything back up and catching the next flight back to Canada was 1) Disappointing othelianna, and 2) having to look in the mirror afterward.

    I did have an amusing reprieve. Around two in the morning, I heard a car pull up and a couple got out. They proceeded to have a conversation for five minutes outside at full volume. Not yelling, just making no attempt to be quiet on a residential street during the wee hours. They went around the corner and I heard the door to my building open and close, then the door to the apartment immediately below me open and close. And the full volume conversation continued. They also played with the yappy dog for a few minutes. You know how when you play tug of war with a dog and they make that growling/savaging sound that sounds like they’re trying to shake a smaller animal apart? Lots of that. That stopped and the dog started making these really odd noises I couldn’t identify. At least, until I realized it wasn't the dog making the noise. Once I realized it was the woman making moaning/gasping noises it made a lot more sense. Did I mention that they never once used their inside voices? Yeah, that continued during the sex. Also, it was a hot night so we both had our windows open. Ugh.

    They went on for an acceptible amount of time and sounded like they both enjoyed themselves. Also, it didn’t go on forever, so that’s all right. And then, five minutes after it ended, something odd happened. He left. I heard the doors open/close and he got in his car and drove away. A fuck-and-run, buddy? Really? Later, I got to thinking, if her room is anything like my room (which is likely) there’s really no other way to entertain anyone than screwing. My room doesn’t even have a chair, or a place to put one. The only place to sit is my lap.

    That escapade didn’t help my “forever alone” vibe. I continued to have my anxiety attack. Eventually, around 4 am, I heard birds singing. That gave my brain something to latch onto and I fell asleep.

    Preview for later postings - this was the worst of it, and I've been enjoying the trip aside from that first night. More details as I write them.
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    Tortuga Backpack Modifications
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    I'm largely talentless at anything crafty, thus making my time among the SCA or movie/theatre folk an exercise in low self-esteem. However, I can still get purely functional things done if I don't mind them not being pretty. And sometimes I get lucky and it doesn't look too bad. Here's an example.

    About a month ago, after a lot of research, I bought a Tortuga Travel Backpack. It was kind of expensive (just shy of $300 given the current exchange rate and shipping to Canada), but I'd just emptied my penny jar, so this felt like "found money". It also looked like the closest thing to a perfect backpack that I was going to find.

    Lots of pictures ahead...Collapse )

    I now have a Tortuga Travel Backpack with detachable pockets. It doesn't look worse for wear. I'm quite happy with it.

    Now to do a test pack for my trip to the UK.

    Beauty & the Beast, Part 4 - Dreams and Nightmares
    Gaston shows up at Belle's house and proposes marriage, in a scene rife with the threat of sexual violence. This is a Disney Movie? Maybe I've been watching too much Game of Thrones, but it was a little shocking just how scary this scene plays to me now.

    The beginning plays as broad humour, with comic-relief villain Gaston bragging to assorted townsfolk (who go along with this) how he's getting married, but first he has to ask the bride! As I pointed out earlier, the animators' continuity was really good - all of the townsfolk are from earlier scenes.

    Belle is quietly reading her book when there is a knock on the door. She uses one of Maurice's inventions to see who is at the door and it's Gaston, who despite being in 17th century France, knows to look into the camera! Viewing the scene for this commentary, I noticed something new: Belle does not open the door for Gaston, he barges in without being asked. I imagine that Belle would have quietly pretended to not be home otherwise.

    And what does Gaston do in the house? He moves into her personal space, invades her privacy, and gets mud on her new book! Belle, in turn, repeatedly evades him, both physically and verbally, going so far as to put pieces of the furniture between the two of them (which Gaston lightly tosses aside). He never actually asks her to marry him. He does, however, insinuate that she will marry him, repeatedly.

    "This is the day your dreams come true."
    "What do you know about my dreams, Gaston?"
    Finally, he figuratively pins her to the door.

    "Say you'll marry me", insists Gaston.
    "I'm very sorry, Gaston, but... but... I just don't deserve you."
    Belle really does have a masterful way of speaking the truth. I'm going to pay attention now because I suspect that she never once lies in this movie.

    Again, this is a Disney movie, so the gravity of the threat isn't going to impact children (though they'll certainly get that this is threatening). As grown-ups, we can recognize the true nature of the threat. Maurice isn't home (interesting coincidence that - I wonder of Gaston knew Maurice would be out of town for several days), Belle is alone, unarmed, and unable to defend against Maurice in any realistic way. He barges into the house, repeatedly tried to corner her, and he certainly wasn't taking no for an answer. In a more realistic setting, she'd have been in real danger of being raped, and I think the presence of half the village was about the only thing staying Gaston from some cartoon-equivalent action.

    Anyway, Belle evades Gaston's kiss with some door-judo, and gravity launches Gaston into the pig sty, where the use of an actual pig to underline his pig-nature is made clear. At this point, Gaston is no longer a comic-relief villain, and has graduated to full-on evil bastard. An evil bastard that vows to do whatever it takes to "have Belle". Is there any question that Belle's life in the village (sans a supernatural encounter with a cursed prince) isn't going to rapidly become a nightmare?

    Belle comes outside once everyone is gone and reiterates in song that she wants "much more than this provincial life". I suspect that I'm not the only person who cannot separate this sequence from the signature prancing-in-the-meadows scene front The Sound of Music. Apparently it was a deliberate homage.

    Finally, Phillipe returns home, indicating to Belle that something has happened to Maurice and simultaneously giving her a way to get to him.

    I really am going to try to do these more often than once a year. This one is small, because, aside from the implied threats, it really just underlines the characters some more, and sets up Gaston's later actions.

    An actual picture of me.
    The Furry With the Syringe on Top

    I saw Oklahoma! today. It's on it's 60th anniversary release and it was this month's oldie movie at Cineplex. I was expecting an oldie, somewhat staid, musical. That's not what I got.

    Oh, it was a good musical all right, with some good dancing to go with it. It also had:

  • A fair amount of violence.
  • A surprising amount of enjoyable ballet.
  • Casual use of pornography by both cowboys and old ladies.
  • A couple successfully negotiating a polyamorous relationship.
  • A nightmarish dream sequence involving cross-dressers that could have been filmed by Fellini.

    I feel that someone could do a successful version of this movie with the sexual subtext cranked to 11 that would end up being high low comedy.

    For you folks who have no idea why I added the picture above:
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  • Rambling Thoughts on the Eve of an Election
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    Alberta goes to the polls in twelve hours. And unlike elections past, I am tentatively hopeful. It's looking like we might get a New Democrat government. Someone governing from the left is just what this province needs.

    What it needs even more is a change. In the past, the Progressive Conservatives have managed to put a leader and a new coat of paint onto the party and claim it was change. And Alberta bought it time and again. In the end, the policies of the government remained the same.

    What were those policies? Bluntly stated, provide a business-friendly location for the oil and gas industry.

    That policy created fiscal mismanagement. Because we thought we were going to be rich forever, but we were just pissing away a windfall. Other oil-rich regions invested their windfall; Norway, notably, invested almost everything they made off of their oil reserves into a trust fund. That fund is now in the neighbourhood of a trillion dollars - the most recent downturn in the oil industry was easily weathered by the Norwegians through their dividends alone.

    We should have done the same thing. Specifically, we should have charged the most we possibly could to sell that oil. Oh maybe not as much as Norway could (their oil is "sweeter" making it easier to extract and refine), but certainly more than we do now. A lot more.

    But how would we pay for everything, if we're pumping all of that money into a trust fund? The same way all the non-oil rich provinces do - with a proper progressive tax scheme. If Ontario can pay for all of its programs without resorting to oil revenues, so can Alberta. Don't agree with me? Then you're admitting Ontario can do something we can't.

    So where did all that money go, if we didn't take our rightful share? Corporations. They wanted cheaper tax rates and we gave it to them. They didn't want to pay what the oil was worth, and we gave it to them. I think it's long past time we corrected that.

    They'll fight it, of course. There's been a lot of "Nice economy you've got here, shame if anything happens to it" talk recently. Corporations warning that if things don't stay the same, they just might have to stop giving to charities (that should be handled by proper taxes), or maybe even leave the province all together.

    That's bully talk. And you don't acquiesce to bully. You stand your ground.

    We'll have to, because I don't think those are idle threats. I think they really will try to "punish" this province if they vote New Democrat. They will shut in wells and try to wait us out. And in that regard we need to push back. Because they're bullies.

    There will come a day when we wean ourselves off of oil. If we give the petroleum oligarchy exactly what it wants - carte blanche to extract as much oil as they can without paying what it's worth - what are they going to do for us when we have to shut off the taps? They're not going to do us any favours - we'll be stuck here, and they'll simply go somewhere else.

    So fuck those guys. Charge what it's worth, stick it in a trust fund, and pay for government with progressive taxation that includes corporations. Maybe we'll have something to show for it in twenty years. It can't be any worse than the last thirty.

    I think the current economy actually helps us here. The Saudis are basically engaged in an economic war with Russia, and have driven the price of oil below what Russia can economically extract it for. Coincidentally, that's less than what we can extract it for. The corporations are already shutting in wells and laying off people, and they started it long before the election was called. The Saudis probably can't keep it up for four years, so assuming we get an ND majority, we can weather this and the economy will improve all on it's own. The New Democrats can take credit for that, even though it was really the actions of oil players on the other side of the world. This is basically the opposite of what happened with the National Energy Policy back in the 80's. The economy collapsed, people lost their jobs, and they blamed the Federal Liberals, even though the NEP didn't cause it, oil players on the other side of the world did.

    Not that that stopped the corporations and the PCs from blaming the Liberals. It's a story I've had to listen to for years, and I bought it until I did the research. But now the shoe is on the other foot. The economy is down and has nowhere to go but up (once the Saudis and the Russians make peace).

    Anyway, I think the New Democrats are the way to go, and I'd think that even if we didn't have oil. Basically, I like the idea of progressive taxes being used to make a better province/country.

    Of course, there's other options. You could vote Wild Rose. If you follow my blog, that's unlikely. To that I'll just say it's a common business practice to give the appearance of competition while there is none. Best Buy and Future Shop were the same company for years, for example. I don't think there will be a bit of difference between a PC government and a WR government in terms of economics. And WR is likely to be worse in terms of social issues. They've managed to keep their wing nuts silent this election, but there's a deep streak of reactionaryism in the WR party that isn't as bad as the PCs (because the PCs did have a small group of "Red Tories").

    The Liberals and the Alberta party both exist. With the exception of a handful of candidates who wielded personal popularity, the Liberals haven't been able to grab many seats. And the Alberta party hasn't done anything to distinguish themselves from anyone else. Honestly, I have no idea where they even exist on the political spectrum.

    Anyway, go vote. If you don't want to vote because you think it won't make a difference, well, now's your chance to make a difference - an honest chance to change a government that's been in power since I was three. If you think there's no difference in the parties, I think you're wrong. Politicians can't always deliver what they promise, but that's just the reality of living in a democracy. I know some people who don't vote because, when told to vote, their knee-jerk reaction is "you're not the boss of me" - I don't have a lot of patience for that sort of attitude. In the end, if you don't vote, you're saying you support the status quo. I don't support the status quo - I think we can do better.

    Mixed Feelings
    I rejoined Weight Watchers a few weeks ago. Well, technically I never quit, I just skipped going to meetings for several months. Anyway, I knew I was up a lot but I also knew that if I looked at the numbers, I'd get depressed (I make despairing remarks about my weight all the time, but getting slapped in the face with the facts always crushes me). So I resolved to go, and to just have them tell me if I was up or down. Provided I was constantly going down in weight, I could feel good about myself without having to see how Jabba-like I've become.

    This worked until this week, when - out of the corner of my eye - I saw that they added a star to my weight record. So I looked. I'm down five pounds since returning. Yay me! Except, I'm down to 255.5, which means I was actually ten pounds heavier when I restarted than I thought I was. I'm currently five pounds higher than my estimate. Boo!

    So I'm not sure how to feel about all that. It's a little like running for an hour only to reach the starting gate. Sure, it's an accomplishment, but it sure is discouraging.

    In other fitness news, I've decided to do the Victoria half-marathon again. Given how close it is in time and proximity to this fall's trip to Leavenworth, I think it's a reasonable goal. Plus, thirty weeks of training for a half-marathon can't help but bring me down to where I can believe someone would find me attractive.

    Incidentally, my lowest adult weight was when I went to the UK eight years ago. I've been steadily gaining since then. Maybe when I go to the UK five weeks from now, I'll find where I lost my fitness mojo and bring it back to Canada with me.

    Two Computer Gaming Ideas
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    Two ideas. One is likely already a thing. The second... well, we'll leave it for last.

    While attending the Gaming Controversies panel, people touched on the idea of customizable characters. Now this has been a thing for awhile now, but the point the audience member wanted to make was "if you customize your character into a sexual stereotype - is that on you or the developer?". Are developers obligated to be inclusive, or should they respond to market forces? I'm of the opinion that that's not necessarily an either/or scenario. We can be biased while simultaneously ignoring "the market" - i.e. making toys needlessly gender specific when the kids don't care; then using that data to "prove" that girls like pink dolls and boys like blue trucks. Besides, "the market" isn't the be-all-and-end-all of metrics.

    The commenter pointed out that one game had a "sexiness" trait that one could use to customize your character. It sounds like it basically increased boob size on the women. Not sure what it would do to the men. Given the number of women I know who appreciate any Marvel actor named "Chris", while simultaneously liking bishōnen, I'm not sure what it would modify. Penis size? Hard to show in a PG game, I imagine.

    Why not have your modifiable skills and attributes, in turn, modify your characters appearance, rather than changing their looks directly. You want a stronger character, they look more buff. Smarter? Better choices of dialog. Have the sprites reflect actual morphology. Fast characters look like sprinters; agile ones look like gymnasts, strong ones look like weightlifters or bodybuilders.

    As I mention above, I'd be surprised if someone hasn't attempted this already, though maybe not to the extreme I'm describing.

    Second idea: Let's say you're playing a Halo-like game where the character is always wearing full body armor. You finish the game and it's time for the big reveal as you stand atop a mountain of vanquished foes as a the sun breaks over the horizon. You pull off your helmet to reveal... A manly white man with blue eyes and a strong jaw!

    Assume the game doesn't suck; it gets rave reviews and becomes a best seller.

    After the first month, things change. Now there's a random chance they'll get manly white man, or a black woman, or an effeminate Asian man, etc. In fact, all of the visible character traits of the character's face can change. Maybe they're ugly, maybe they're plain or have one eye, or they're tatted up, or have piercings. Their skin and eyes come in any naturally occurring human variation; their hair could be anything under the rainbow. Maybe have ten or so diverse characters with unique looks and back story that players could access online.

    Why not do this from the start? Because it needs to get past that initial promotional/review stage with none the wiser. The reveal should be a surprise to the people who could use a little surprise in their lives.

    The players have a feedback option that includes "I'd like to complain about how the main character looks in the finale". They click the button, which opens a MessageBox:

    For the last 60+ hours, you've played a genetically enhanced super soldier wearing powered battle armor in the far future. Does it really matter what they look like underneath?
    No game designer would ever do it of course, because profits. Still, I can dream.

    And if they wanted to play it again, they could do so, choosing a character they haven't played yet.

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