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December 24, 2015 2:00 PM   Subscribe

Porpentine, creator of excellent games such as Ultra Business Tycoon III (previously) and High End Customizable Sauna Experience (previously), writes on the topics of PTSD, exile from feminist spaces, online and offline harassment and abuse. Hugely insightful and amazingly relevant.
posted by odinsdream (17 comments total) 57 users marked this as a favorite
I didn't know. I think Porpentine is amazing—someone wonderful I found through weird Twitter. I had no idea all of this was happening. Thanks for posting this.
posted by limeonaire at 2:36 PM on December 24, 2015 [3 favorites]

(Apologies if this is rambling - this hits so close to home that it is hard to find coherent words)

Thanks for posting this. It's eerily similar to my experience of being pushed out of my town's transgender circle in the last 18 months. I made the mistake of dating a raging narcissist, and when I wouldn't acquiesce to their emotional abuse, I was frozen out. Nobody will tell me why, everything I say is scrutinized and derailed, and I find that people I am meeting for the first time already know all about me. Somehow.

Every time I try and speak of my experiences, I find that my abuser has already pre-loaded anybody I might discuss this with the idea that this is precisely what a monster like me would say.

It is a no-win situation, as far as I can tell. There is no way to hold those responsible accountable without playing into their untruths. Social isolation kills, and it enrages me that we do it to each other, and for such petty reasons.
posted by transitional procedures at 2:40 PM on December 24, 2015 [26 favorites]

Amazing. So much to digest here. Thanks for this.

Reading about abusive feminists like this makes me want to abandon the label in disgust much like gamergate made me abandon the label "gamer"—even if in both cases we're talking about minorities within the respective groups (though I confess not knowing for a fact that what she describes applies only to a particularly horrible minority group within all feminists; I merely hope that it does).
posted by jklaiho at 2:59 PM on December 24, 2015 [3 favorites]

Porpentine's one of the most interesting voices in game design today. It's horrifying that she was put through all this.
posted by JHarris at 3:00 PM on December 24, 2015 [7 favorites]

I'm so sorry that Porpentine had to experience this, and I'm also so grateful that she wrote this. It's one of the most nuanced understandings of the downfalls of feminist and queer spaces, and how 'crabs in a bucket' due to structural oppression and hurt people hurting others so badly and thoroughly is extremely real and needs to be a conscientious reminder when building any space. Also, it is a fit reminder of how no one is exempt from this accountability, and it's a whole different world from the shiny, bright "feminism is for everyone!" articles that are so popular on the internet now.

I wrote a long, huge comment, but it's re-triggering me so I'm gonna come back later if I can figure out how to string it together and paste it.
posted by yueliang at 3:36 PM on December 24, 2015 [9 favorites]

Also like wow, does Porpentine have a Kickstarter or something? For housing costs or gaming costs, or even a Patreon? I just played High End Customizable Sauna Experience and that was one of the most thrilling things I've played in a while! Reasonably priced reptiles! Let's support trans fems who are abused and fucked over by their so-called safe spaces!
posted by yueliang at 3:46 PM on December 24, 2015 [6 favorites]

Exciting!! I have located the Patreon!
posted by yueliang at 3:49 PM on December 24, 2015 [7 favorites]

She does have a Patreon. Her games are sheer brilliance, and I love that you always play trans women in them.

She also has a recent game from November, just a few weeks ago called Dream Crypt!
posted by bile and syntax at 4:23 PM on December 24, 2015 [5 favorites]

This article makes me really, really glad I went with that intuition to stay the hell away from queer/trans/feminist spaces during my transition. Not that the furry scene can't fuck people right over as well.

also i am glad that i have a lot of financial/skin color privilege that gave me multiple options during that time in my life
posted by egypturnash at 4:43 PM on December 24, 2015 [3 favorites]

Porpentne is AMAZING. Just bought a bunch of stuff at her website because the game world (and real world) needs more people like her in it. Plus she's given me more fun and feels than 99% of games I'd pay $60 to play.

Also, really good, extremely upsetting article. Thanks for posting.
posted by mosschief at 4:47 PM on December 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

She stabbed me. It was the happiest dream of my life. Because finally an abuser had done something to me that people would pay attention to. When I woke up my entire spirit was crushed because I had not been stabbed. I felt the weight of all these years of abuse. I wished so badly I had been stabbed.

I do not think I will be making a coherent comment in this thread, because this piece was the reading equivalent of dermabrasion and I am feeling very bleedy and sore after it, and I tried to write a comment earlier but it didn't come out right, and so I started to try to think about why it didn't come out right--it was a comment on her mentioning of poetic tweets that people assumed were about them--and what I began to put together was the thought that if you spend your whole life understanding that there are things you must not tell people, if you embody the notion that certain traumas can't be spoken of (you won't be believed, you will get in trouble, you will break up the family, it was actually your fault, you asked for it, you have no proof, maybe this explains why you are this thing we don't like), your only choices are to either be silent (with the various kinds of death and injury that involves) or be oblique. And when you spend many many years being oblique, it becomes really hard to talk about anything directly, you are always approaching it from an angle that sounds like you are making these inappropriately stretched analogies, when actually you're performing a kind of anamorphosis, you're sneaking up on truth in a way that nobody is really going to understand unless they are standing in just the right spot in relation to you.

And so anyway this is to say that the need to be stabbed--the need to be hurt in a visible and undeniable way, to finally have proof, is so powerful a fantasy. In my own language about these things I refer to shallow graves being stumbled upon, to ghosts haunting their still-living bodies, to the surgical adaptation of the body to painful new alien realities, to the pivotal scene of undeniable revelation (that does not involve, that never involves, actually having to speak) that ties up the narrative, or perhaps the better verb is to say it scabs it over, it begins to heal the wound through the mechanism of someone else other than you finally discovering and believing the wound.

To read this piece is to feel that someone has stood in just the right spot in relation to you, and that the truth has suddenly snapped into focus around you.
posted by mittens at 5:02 PM on December 24, 2015 [43 favorites]

And another twine that she just posted, this one less a game and more a simple day/night exploration of space.
posted by bile and syntax at 6:54 PM on December 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

"The community practiced compulsory BDSM sexuality, which was deeply inappropriate considering it was one of the only visible spaces for trans people interested in making games. I didn’t need that coercion in my life; I needed safety and mentorship."

I am experiencing angry feelings. I'm sorry she's been through this, I hope new doors of community support and healing are opened for her.
posted by xarnop at 8:24 AM on December 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

Too many feelings to write much; just want to say that Porpentine is my favorite living artist in any medium and this breaks my heart; her games are like tuning into a transmission on the shortwave and hearing this mesmerizing voice and wondering if anyone else is out there listening. Thanks for posting this and the link to her Patreon (I've finally signed up!) and thanks for your insightful comment, mittens. This is one of those links I'll be returning to again and again.
posted by thetortoise at 9:22 AM on December 25, 2015 [6 favorites]

I've seen minor versions of this play out in some of the queer scenes I've been involved in. Like porpentine describes, they mostly happened quietly and distantly to an observer who wasn't in the middle of it—usually impacting someone who hasn't yet built (or been able to build) enough social capital for others in the community to feel compelled to notice/care/intervene. This is a great/difficult/discomfiting reminder that mutual care also means looking out for those who don't have the means to call for help.
posted by LMGM at 4:11 AM on December 26, 2015 [12 favorites]

"And when you spend many many years being oblique, it becomes really hard to talk about anything directly, you are always approaching it from an angle that sounds like you are making these inappropriately stretched analogies, when actually you're performing a kind of anamorphosis, you're sneaking up on truth in a way that nobody is really going to understand unless they are standing in just the right spot in relation to you."

mittens, thank you for articulating this. I instantly recognize and relate to this in such a powerful way, there is much mulling and feeling to be done with such. odinsdream thanks for sharing this.
posted by abhardcastle at 6:20 PM on December 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

So when people write all those apologist articles about call-out culture and other instruments of violence in feminism, I don’t think they understand that the people who most deserve those things can usually shrug off the effects, and the normalization of that violence inevitably trickles down and affects the weak. It is predictable as water. Criminal justice applies punishment under the conceit of blind justice, but we see the results: Prisons are flooded with the most vulnerable, and the rich can buy their way out of any problem. In activist communities, these processes follow a similar pragmatism.

Punishment is not something that happens to bad people. It happens to those who cannot stop it from happening. It is laundered pain, not a balancing of scales.
posted by haltingproblemsolved at 1:55 PM on January 1, 2016 [10 favorites]

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