Since the publication of Ben Kuchera’s article on Polygon yesterday, there’s been much attention on this supposed “Gender Swap” VR experiment.
There’s much to say on the topic of technological panaceas for supposed ‘empathy’, and much of that has already been said, very eloquently, by the brilliant Sophie Houlden, who not only outlined the specific problems with Kuchera’s Polygon piece, but in an earlier post, also excellently summed up why the entire concept of VR for empathy is so problematic:
“…it’s important nobody thinks “Oh, so this is what it’s like to be X” because your life is more than what you see – it’s also years of other people seeing you, speaking to you, touching you AND how they do all that. It’s what you see happen to people who are like you and people who are not. It’s your own head thinking for years on end trying to come to terms with all of this. You can’t be someone else without going through this.”
The Polygon article also mentioned the recent similar ‘race-swap’ VR experiments, which apparently showed participants apparently display reduced implicit racial bias after ‘inhabiting’ the body of someone with darker skin than their own. (Incidentally, I’d be interested to see participants tested again for implicit racial bias a few weeks, months, or years after exposure.)
I recently briefly commented on this for the latest edition of the Eastern Eye British Asian newspaper. Though my full comments didn’t make the piece, I did expand on those comments for the TEDxEastEnd talk I originally wrote and rehearsed, though I ended up panicking and leaving out that entire section. Nevertheless, in case it’s of any interest, I’ve embedded the entire video of my talk here, One Weird Old Trick to Solve Sexism and Racism, followed by the notes for the extra bit I managed to omit:
Welcome to the new and improved The Tiniest Shark website, which has also merged both my personal blog and development blogs, so that I am no longer seized by indecision on where to post, and end up posting to neither…
Thank you to the brilliant Fully Illustrated for helping us add all these new fancy new pixels everywhere, and especially for the new TTS logo, who has now increased in resolution significantly.
Redshirt is a game that lends itself to some customisation if you’re willing to dig, and I thought I’d begin writing a series of blog posts which detail how you may begin to do this.
As you may know, when you begin a game in Redshirt, the station is filled with non-player characters, who are all completely randomly generated in terms of their names, profile pictures, and personalities. The simplest customisation is the ability to ‘seed’ Megalodon-9 with names of your own, so the NPCs can have names of people you know, or of characters from your favourite television show or movie, of course!
It’s been almost a week since Redshirt was released, and I’m so grateful to everyone who has supported the game so far. Thank you so much!
I just wanted to post a quick notice however, as this entry on tumblr was brought to my attention: “Trigger warning for anyone interested in playing the indie game Redshirt”, which relays one woman’s experience of playing as, seemingly, an Asrion character, and therefore receiving repeated unwanted attention from men, despite stating on her profile that her character is interested in only women.
The author writes that she was triggered by the experience of playing, and I am deeply sorry that there was no clearly-stated warning that this would happen when playing as an Asrion.
As the awesome Border House Blog covered Redshirt in their Bunk Bed series last week, this particular dynamic of the game was also touched upon, and I left a comment further expanding upon the way this works in Redshirt. I’ll reiterate that here, too…
Good news, nuchachos! There’s a date next week that’s circled in red marker on my calendar. (Well, it would be if I had one; as it happens, I’ve just typed in ALL CAPS on my Google Calendar.)
That date is the official Redshirt release date, and it is 13th November 2013. (That’s November 13th to some of you.)
On that date, it’ll be available to purchase via Steam, GoG, and of course, direct download, for Windows and Mac.
After a long, long journey, it’s really exciting to have an official release date. As you can imagine, there’s lots I need to do to prepare. Thank you to our awesome pre-orderers/beta testers who’ve been so great at providing feedback. If you want to join them, you can preorder Redshirt right now, start playing the beta, and let me know your thoughts on the forums.