There may not be money in the future, but you will live on Likes
July 17, 2014 6:46 PM   Subscribe

Gamasutra describes one indie game developer's experience of creating a game (Redshirt) that satirizes social networking, and includes a playable race of 'sexy alien babes' who can suffer sexist comments from NPCs. When a player complained that this was unwanted and triggering, and the developer apologized and added a trigger warning tothe game, the developer received criticism as if she'd compromised her creative vision.

My favorite bit in the article is the developer's statement that she is "...dimly aware that Redshirt can be read as tech panic about social networks -- and I suppose to an extent that might be true, but only on a superficial level. It's more anxiety about human nature, and human social structures."
posted by AaronDaMommio (13 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

I'm not sure about the game execution without playing it myself ( and I've seen lukewarm reviews), but I love the concept of Redshirt itself - it's a truly brilliant and huge concept - there's so much more to it than the "triggering" incident.
posted by Bwithh at 6:58 PM on July 17

I really, really like her response to critique, and her reiteration that she and the critique were on the same side, and her reiteration that being open to this kind of critique is both good and important.
posted by Deoridhe at 6:59 PM on July 17

but you will live on Likes

Yeah it's called Whuffie. Cory Doctorow and all that.
posted by localroger at 7:27 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]

Yeah it's called Whuffie. Cory Doctorow and all that.

Wouldn't it be really easy to game a system like that? Like, I could create a couple million fake accounts to send me likes? Or hack people's computers to get then to serve me likes?
posted by happyroach at 12:57 AM on July 18

The developer appears on the not a game podcast, which is worth checking out
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:58 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]

the not a game podcast, which is worth checking out

Hey, it has RPS folks and other cool folks! Thanks for the tip!
posted by Drexen at 2:39 AM on July 18

Wouldn't it be really easy to game a system like that?

You could game it if Facebook was the sole arbiter of Whuffie, but if there were many metrics maintained by different entities all contributing to the overall score it would be hard to game them all and some of them might even be dedicated to dinging you for actions that look like attempts to game the others.
posted by localroger at 5:53 AM on July 18

Similar to Derek Yu, the creator of Spelunky, getting flak for daring to agree that the game's use of damsels in distress (basically, a character in the levels you can save) was problematic. I don't recall when the change was made, but at some point he modified Spelunky so that instead of the "damsel" always being female, you could pick from a man, a woman, an adorable pug, or a random selection from all three.
posted by chrominance at 6:02 AM on July 18

I've been wondering for a while now: Is it possible that trigger warnings are counterproductive?

For example, if I had had an extremely bad experience with, say, alligators, such that I was traumatized by seeing them or reading about them or whatever, I imagine I might be triggered not just by articles mentioning alligators or videos showing alligators, but also by reading "Trigger warning: alligators". I imagine -- but it is not certain to me -- that I probably would be less traumatized by "Trigger warning: alligators" than I would by a video of an alligator, but on the other hand, given the relatively large number of descriptions I read of what's behind a link relative to the significantly smaller number of links that I click, I also imagine that I would see a whole lot more occurrences of "Trigger warning: alligators" than I would of videos of alligators even were the warning not there.

So maybe (I think probably, but again I'm not sure) a single occurrence of "Trigger warning" would affect me negatively less than single occurrence of an alligator video would, but at the same time I think it would still affect me negatively to some degree, and it would be a whole lot more frequent than occurrences of what it's trying to warn me against.
posted by Flunkie at 7:38 AM on July 18

Instead of hypothetically simulating how you might feel, you can rely on the experience of people who get triggered, ask for trigger warnings, and appreciate them to inform your opinion of whether they are productive or not.
posted by gilrain at 7:56 AM on July 18 [4 favorites]

Huh? Is it somehow wrong for me to ask, and give an example illustrating why I think it could possibly be the case? I get the feeling from the way you phrased your response that it's somehow wrong for me to ask, and give an example illustrating why I think it could possibly be the case.

In any case, though, your answer strikes me as heavy on the confirmation bias; of course people who ask for trigger warnings prefer relatively many instances of "Trigger warning" to relatively few occurrences of encountering the thing that the trigger warning warns about.
posted by Flunkie at 8:05 AM on July 18

It's not wrong to ask, of course. However, that you can imagine a hypothetical person who finds trigger warnings worse than triggers seems like an odd basis on which to question their usefulness to the real people who do state their preference for them. That's what I meant to point out.

I don't think it's confirmation bias to assume they are useful, at least until a real person indicates they are triggered by the warning as well as the thing. As it is, the only people I've seen object to trigger warnings are people for whom the triggers don't apply, but for some reason find the warnings annoying. Whereas I've seen a lot of support for them by people who get triggered.
posted by gilrain at 8:23 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]

But I wasn't "questioning their usefulness to the real people who do state their preference for them". I was questioning whether they might be counterproductive in general, overall, not for certain specific people, and certainly not for the certain specific people who ask for them.

Your point of not having seen people who claim to be triggered by "Trigger warning" is a good point. I personally have seen a lot more trigger warnings than I have seen people asking for trigger warnings, so I don't personally know how frequent "triggered by trigger warning" requests are, but I'll take your word that it's zero or nearly so.
posted by Flunkie at 8:36 AM on July 18

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