November 21, 2012

Fifteen Minutes Of Forever

Well, that certainly took off, didn’t it?

I’ve had some pretty mixed feelings this week; putting a ton of time and effort into a startup that doesn’t take off and then seeing a tiny little side project blow up has had me quietly making Scumbag Internet ragefaces, but I suppose if Internet Fame was going to find me, I’m happy it’s for doing something I’m proud of. Sure beats falling down an escalator on Youtube and then being Youtube Escalator Guy forever.

Here’s a video of the introduction to WindWaker running in Dolphin, with my pronoun patch applied.

So anyway, that Windwaker mod? Huge, and kind of all over the place. The first wave of web coverage started with Hackaday, followed quickly by an unfortunately-titled Ars Technica article before metastasizing to Metafilter, Kotaku, Joystiq, and a bunch of international sites I can almost but not quite read.

One Dutch site declared, “Vader hackt computerspel dochter om van hoofdpersonage vrouw te maken”. I have no idea what that means but if I try to say it in English it reads “Vader hacked computerspells doctor on van hoofed-personage vroom to making”, and how awesome is that? (Update! It’s actually Belgian, my mistake.)

Funny anecdote: I looked all over the place for software that would record from a segment of my screen and capture the audio coming out of my speakers. Quicktime, incomprehensibly, will do video but only record from the microphone or line-in but not audio-out. After trying a bunch of free/trialware that was all garbage, I had one of those embarrassing “self, you’ve been stupid” moments-of-clarity and solved the problem by plugging a male-male headphone cable into both jacks on the Mac. Man, solving software problems with hardware: so gauche.

Dear Quicktime devs: that’s right, I’ve added a missing feature to your software with a copper wire. “Plaatsvervangende schaamte“, speaking of awesome Dutch words, roughly means “transposed shame”; embarrassment you’re feeling on behalf of somebody too oblivious to feel it themselves. I’m feeling plaatsvervangende schaamte right now, and I’m looking at you.

So, a couple of general points, mostly random notes or observations I’ve made in the last week and a half or so.

  • First and foremost: thanks for the positive press and lots of public and private messages of support. There’s been quite a bit of interest in this, and I’ve taken those opportunities to to talk about how women are treated by the video game industry and gamer culture, and how I think things need to change. I doubt I’ll get a podium like this one very often, and I’m glad I feel like I’ve done the right thing with it.
  • If you want to try it out but all that stuff about hashes and patches in the original post was offputting, one commenter has got a thing that will make it much easier for you, for which I’m grateful. Thanks, Daniel!
  • Boy, trying to do anything progressive on the ‘net sure brings out the cranks, doesn’t it? I suppose there’s always going to be somebody out there with the time to tell you you suck, saying “FAIL” and fantasizing about murdering your family while yelling at you to google Ron Paul, especially if you’ve got the temerity to suggest that women should have an equal voice in the world and maybe aren’t property. Brendan Behan once said that “Critics are like eunuchs in a harem: they know how it’s done, they’ve seen it done every day, but they’re unable to do it themselves”, and while I don’t agree with that every day, that sentence has definitely been rattling around my head for the last two weeks.

    But the ‘net’s usual cadre of reactionary neanderthals aside, a number of white dudes have suggested that this was somehow unnecessary because there are plenty of strong female role models in video games, citing Samus Aran and Lara Croft, and leaving me shaking my head. Truly, those people haven’t been paying attention or can’t read, two problems that may be reinforcing each other; neither of those characters are in games suitable for a child, and both of them have been horribly mistreated in the most recent editions of their franchise, for the most patronizing, misogynist reasons imaginable. So dudes, while you’re making a strong argument there, it’s not at all the one you think you’re making.

    In any case: there were fewer death threats than I expected, but not none. Way to stay in character, purse-dogs of the Internet.

  • Etherpad – and presumably any collaborative text editor, but specifically Etherpad – is so much better than doing interviews over the phone. A bit slower, a bit clunkier if you’re not a touch-typist maybe, but being able to actually have both sides of the interview collaborate, be able to walk away for a few moments without breaking anything, and having something you both have a record of and can cut and paste? So good, and outweighing the alternatives by quite a bit.
  • Even if it still has tremendous reach we all suspect old media is doomed, right? Well, funny story about that, you can sort of tell how doomed various segments of the media are by how they try to get in touch with you. I was interviewed by a couple of people, and how people got in touch with me was informative:
    • Lukas Blakk at Geek Feminism found me on IRC and proposed doing the interview in Etherpad right away. Ok, you’ve got me. I’m in.
    • A number of people who found the article scrolled down to the Contact page, and found me through that. That’s cool, that works; when Skype got a little choppy we could switch to Etherpad, and it worked out well.
    • A smaller number of people – some independent journalists, some larger media organizations – googled me, found Bespoke I/O and contacted me through that; some of those people used Skype or otherwise on voice recordings of their interviews, which is OK even if it seems like a lot of retyping.
    • Nobody’s tried to fax me yet, but two people saw the article and then looked me up in the phone book and left a message on my land line. Doomed, guys. Doooooooooooooooooomed.
  • We all kind of know URL shorteners are bullshit, but you really don’t find out just how bad they are for small shops and the Web in general until you’re trying to learn things from your referrer logs. No joke, URL shorteners are a straight-up theft of knowledge. In fact, I’m wondering if being able to hoard all that redirect info for themselves is the specific reason that Twitter has decided to tell their entire ecosystem to go die in a fire. As an aside, it is such a shame to watch them blow another opportunity – “Become Infrastructure” – that most startups would cut off an arm for, but hey, that’s Twitter. Maybe everything that new guy learned at MySpace will be able to help them hahaha *sob*.
  • It seems a little churlish to complain about media rights, given the nature of the project, but my Flickr feed is flagged “All Rights Reserved”. Among larger media outlets NBC News, Der Spiegel, Huffington Post, Buzz60 and the Toronto Star were noteworthy for actually asking for reprint permission, as were a handful of smaller blogs. Precisely zero of the big-name techblogs – Ars Technica, Kotaku, Jezebel, Joystiq, any of them – bothered to ask.
  • Oh, Today Show… closing out with “Oh, the things a Pop will do for his princess”, really? Go say that in an empty room; listen to the echo. That’s the sound of your being part of the problem.
  • Nobody cares about Google+. For real; I have evidence. Ever heard of Plurk? Yeah, neither have I, and maybe this is some sort of unexpected sampling bias, but Plurk’s numbers destroyed Google+ as far as my referrer logs are concerned. Google actually does run a vibrant, engaging and competitive social network, but it’s called Google Reader.

A lot of people have asked me if I’m going to do this again with some other game, and I started last week saying that it depended on what my daughter wanted and which way her interests went. The amount of pushback I got for it though, the threats and hate mail, have certainly helped me make up my mind.

Definitely, yes.


  1. Just popping in (saw this linked on G+) to say that even as a certified member of the anti-progressive forces of reaction, and all, I thought it was pretty damn awesome.

    Comment by Alistair Young — November 21, 2012 @ 2:50 pm

  2. 1) I have been intently following this, and of course you deserve huge kudos.

    2) I don’t care about the popularity of G+; a giant chunk of rasferjians found their way there, and I love my private circle.

    Comment by Kenneth Cavness — November 21, 2012 @ 3:02 pm

  3. In re: 2) I know, I know! And I’m sure it has much to recommend it. But it’s still really niche-ey.

    Comment by mhoye — November 21, 2012 @ 3:03 pm

  4. My use of it is super-nichey too!

    Comment by Kenneth Cavness — November 21, 2012 @ 3:08 pm

  5. “One Dutch site declared, “Vader hackt computerspel dochter om van hoofdpersonage vrouw te maken”. I have no idea what that means but if I try to say it in English it reads “Vader hacked computerspells doctor on van hoofed-personage vroom to making”, and how awesome is that?”

    That’s actually Belgian. De Standaard is the largest legacy newspaper in Belgium, AFAIK. Translation, literal, preserving word order (and I’m sure I don’t need to put it into good english further):

    ‘Fathers hacks computergame [of his] daughter to of main-character woman to make’

    I also noticed it got 72 upvotes just on that site.

    I’ve seen the “Google+ doesn’t drive traffic, therefore it is a ghost town” logic before — but I think the issue is that people are using it in a different way to Twitter and Facebook. Facebook doesn’t drive as much traffic as Twitter, despite having a much larger userbase, and my hunch is that on whatever scale that comes from, Google+ is on the far side of Facebook. So what I mean by that is that for a given number of humans interacting on it, they’re not as much about sharing links and especially about clicking them.

    (And the rasfwrj community in exile needs more of its former members to join up!)

    (I have interacted on G+ with Jay Denebeim and ESR among others — I really do think it is this decade’s equivalent of usenet.)

    (If you click on a link in a private G+ post, does that show up in the referrer logs, or just from public posts?)

    Comment by Jasper Janssen — November 21, 2012 @ 3:42 pm

  6. I just think this whole thing was totally awesome. And that your daughter is very lucky to have you for a father.

    Comment by Jeff Huo — November 21, 2012 @ 7:54 pm

  7. And if some of us want to talk to you, we’ll just hit you up on Xbox Live. You really should join us on G+, even if only to hang out with the old Usenet crowd.

    Comment by Jamie — November 21, 2012 @ 9:24 pm


    and it’s turned to high suction!

    Comment by Buck — November 22, 2012 @ 12:53 am

  9. Pretty much the only people I see in my G+ feed are rasfwr-jians.

    Comment by Dave Hemming — November 22, 2012 @ 4:14 pm

  10. Wait, that’s where rasfwrj went? Dammit, Google already runs way too much of my life.

    Hoye, fantastic work. I hope I have a daughter some day who always gets to be the hero of her own video games, so I get to tell her I kinda online-met this guy who helped make it happen.

    Comment by Ben Ryan — November 22, 2012 @ 10:00 pm

  11. I actually saw multiple shares of your story on G+ (and most from non-rasfwrjians; most of them didn’t bother re-sharing it because of the incestuous closed circle that they use G+ as), but almost all of them were shares to coverage of your story on some other site, not to your site at all. So you would only have seen referrals from that news site, not from G+…

    Comment by Skwid — November 23, 2012 @ 3:14 pm

  12. Look into SoundFlower for recording system audio. I’ve used it for years with good results.

    Comment by mike — November 24, 2012 @ 9:15 pm

  13. Hey there! I am super-excited to let you know I’ve been playing your patch for this game and am finding it quite fun to play as FemLink. I’ve so far only noticed three places where it seems you missed gender references that I thought I would leave here in case you ever wanted to update your patch. Even if not, thank you SO MUCH for making this in the first place, it’s a delight to have it.

    (After saving Tetra from the mighty tree branch:)
    Gonzo: But Miss… What about this boy?
    Tetra: Don’t worry about him. Come on!

    (Acquiring the Hero’s Shield message:)
    You’ve got the Hero’s Shield! This is the legendary shield said to
    have been used by the legendary hero himself.

    Comment by Anonymouse — December 21, 2012 @ 3:45 am

  14. Nice, nice! Thanks, I’m glad for the feedback; I’ll be rolling out an update soon, and I’ll include this information. I’m setting up a forum for this sort of work, but feel free to contact me here or directly if you find anything else.

    Comment by mhoye — December 21, 2012 @ 11:11 am

  15. I’ve only just made it to Dragonroost Island, so the only other ones I have noticed so far are the Windfall NPCs after first meeting King of Red Lions. When you’re looking for the sail and afterward — one weird instance was with Mrs. Marie (the schoolteacher) who calls Link a young man, then says something about asking a young woman their own age to speak to the Killer Bees, referring to Link both times. The man in the Chu Jelly Shop also calls Link “Sir” quite a lot in his sales pitch. (I couldn’t find any of this dialogue in the game script I used to find the other instances, so unfortunately I couldn’t point to specific lines for you this time.)

    Definitely excited for the update. Hopefully some kind soul will include a way to update the patch like they did before! My eye will be kept open for that forum, too. Sounds like it could be fun.

    Comment by Anonymouse — December 22, 2012 @ 2:04 am

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