Tag Archives: Morality

Just in Time for Easter: Zombunny Cookies

Jesus knows a thing or two about rising from the dead, so it’s not a huge stretch to envision re-animated rabbits crawling out of their pastoral resting places during the Easter holiday. A simple sugar cookie recipe, some cookie cutters, and creative icing skillz are all you need to bring these ferocious zombunnies to life in your own kitchen:

Zombunny Easter Cookies from ZombieGameWorld.com

Mmm … sacrilicious.

No-Fail Sugar Cookies

  • 6 cups flour
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 cups butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla or almond extract
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • fresh brains, to taste

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, and mix well. Mix dry ingredients and add gradually to butter mixture. Mix until flour is completely integrated and the dough comes together.

Chill for 1 to 2 hours, or press dough between parchment paper and place in the fridge. By the time you’re finished doing this, the initial batch of rolled dough will be chilled enough to work with. Fry brains and strain them of excess juices. Dry brains on a plate, and crumble over cookies immediately after removing them from the oven. Leftover brain juices may be used in unwholesome ritual ceremonies.

Roll dough to desired thickness and cut into bunny shapes. Bake on an ungreased baking sheet at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Yields one small army of zombunnies.

Zombunny Easter Cookies from ZombieGameWorld.com

Poured Fondant Cookie Icing

  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups icing sugar, as needed
  • 1 tbsp corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 tbsp water

Mix ingredients as needed until the icing is runny enough to pour, but thick enough to set. Apply to cooled cookies with an icing bag or jam knife. Plastic baggies with holes snipped out of their corners make inexpensive icing bags, and allow for easy clean-up*.

Zombunny Easter Cookies from ZombieGameWorld.com

*Rampaging zombunnies may make clean-up more difficult.

Visit ZombieGameWorld.com for more fun stuff!

Where Credit is Due

[this article was originally posted on MochiLand.com]

Credits are those long, scrolling pages of text at the end of the movie that you watch just to see if the filmmakers added a special jokey tack-on scene at the end of the flick. If you read closely, you’ll see that they are the names of people who worked on the movie, listed alongside their job titles. In film, there are credits for the big people – the executive producer, the director and the principal actors – all the way down to the little people – the sandwich grip, the second-line gaffer, and the assistant schloob.

Credits

The elusive and rarely-seen credit roll, photographed here in its natural environment.

If you look closely, you’ll begin to see credits everywhere. They’re tacked on to the beginning and end of teevee shows, they’re inside album liner notes, and they pop up at the end of your favourite home console or computer video games. But the one place you won’t find them is in online free-to-play Flash games – partly because Flash game developers decide not to put them there, and partly because developers are actively blocked from adding credits to their games by corporations with selfish interests.

Flashsploitation

More than just being a token kind gesture recognizing the hard work and effort people put into an entertainment product, for mature industries like film, television and music, credits are actually a key cog in the machine. The CVs and resumes of performers and technicians rely on the credits system; often, your ability to land future jobs is based on the credits you’ve amassed on earlier projects. Because of this, there are unions and guilds strictly guiding the practice of giving credit, in order to protect entertainment professionals from exploitation.

Nunsploitation

It’s equally important to protect entertainment professionals from nunsploitation.

The Flash game ecosystem is notorious for being packed with non-professionals, but we boast our fair share of pros. Many game developers do what’s called “service work” to pay their bills. A company will approach a known game developer, and will contract him to build a Flash game to certain specifications. My own company, Untold Entertainment Inc., is just such a developer. We survive on service work, largely building Flash games and Flash websites for clients like kids’ television production companies. If a prodco has a teevee show, especially if it’s targeted towards kids, they’ll also want someone to build them a web game to help promote and extend their brand. Companies like Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, and Disney regularly contract Flash game developers to build their arsenal of online games.

Disney

Disney. i’m posting their logo because i have a death wish.

If you wanted to find out which developers built these games though, you’re largely out of luck. Try fishing through the games on the sites i mentioned and look for production credits – even a single logo of the developer who built the game. With a few rare exceptions, you’ll come up empty-handed, game after game. Before founding Untold Entertainment, i worked at a media conglomerate serving a number of kids’ teevee stations. Throughout my time there, i made over fifty games. i was not credited for a single one.

Keep it Secret, Keep It Safe

Once out in the “real world”, i began to actively ask my clients for credits in the games i produced for them – a logo, at the very least. Credit is one way to boost morale and mutual respect among your developers, and beyond that – it just seems RIGHT, you know? When teevee and film are crediting their most important people down to the very guy who tapes the pylons to the road, it just didn’t seem right that the team or individual who created the entire game wouldn’t be recognized. And having my logo feature in the game somewhere could be a compelling driver for future business. All a prospective client need do is cruise through Cartoon Network’s site, for example, see my logo, and call me up with a contract offer.

Bananaphone

With any luck, they’ll call me on the bananaphone.

Aye – there’s the rub. That’s exactly the situation that a client like Disney or Cartoon Network or Nickelodeon wants to avoid. They don’t want anyone else contracting out “their” developers. More competition for developers means that the devs will be more highly paid, and it may be more difficult for them to get their games made if the best devs are in higher demand.

No Promo

The second excuse i hear for not allowing credit is that these companies don’t want to let on that they didn’t do all the work themselves. There’s this strange macho corporate pride in pretending that all of their interactive work was done in-house – or at least, that’s the excuse they all give me. But a quick look through the credits of any special effects-laden film, for example, shows that individual effects shots are farmed out to numerous different special effects houses. This serves the special effects team in two ways: they can say they worked on Blockbuster 2: the Awesoming, and prospective clients can see their name in the credits, which both increases their brand recognition, and enables clients to contract them for new work.

Explosion

The Awesoming is two and a half hours of explosions, nudity, and Hasselhoff.

But surely, a Flash game developer can at least SAY he worked on a given project, right? Actually, no. Many of these clients specify in the contract language that the game developer cannot even say he worked on the game. That means no screenshots on his site, and no link to the game. The developer must disavow any knowledge that the project ever happened, Mission: Impossible style. On one of my contracts, the client forbade me from ever mentioning i worked on the project. This became a sticking point, and when i fought for the right to promote, the client struck a bizarre bargain: i could promote my involvement in the project anywhere but online. Of course, the web is the only place i ever promote my work with Untold Entertainment.

It Doesn’t Ad Up

You could argue that the work we Flash game developers do for these companies amounts to advertising. Creating a game to promote The Family Guy or the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse shows is tantamount to creating an interactive advertisement online. And since teevee commercial spots don’t credit their creators, games promoting shows don’t need to either.

This argument falls down for two reasons: for one, there’s really no room in a teevee spot to credit the creators, but there’s plenty of room in Flash games, as they’re not temporally limited to 30 seconds. On the second count, advertising agencies promote their work all the time. Visit any agency website, and you’ll see the logos for the brands they’ve repped displayed proudly and prominently on the main page. Many sites actually do list credits for the commercials they created. Industry awards like the Clios list teevee commercial and print ad credits in full on their websites.

2010 Clio Award Winner

The 2010 Grand Clio Award winner

Credits are important. They serve as proof that a developer completed the work he said he did. They help to increase a developer’s brand awareness, and they help new clients reach Flash game developers that they otherwise may not have known about. Clients who refuse to credit developers, and who actively block developers from promoting the work are preventing the industry from maturing in the name of their own selfish interests.

Resistance by Insistence

So what’s to be done? When I started hearing from new clients that they wanted to use me instead of my more well-known competitor, i asked what he’d done to lose their business. Their answer? “He started getting pushy about credit.” Asking for credit, or even demanding credit that is rightly due to us as developers, is apparently hazardous to your health. It can harm your business. It may even be possible to land new contracts simply by forfeiting your game credit. Clients really seem to go for that type of thing.

But you know what i say? Screw that. The solution is for ALL Flash game developers to demand the credit they are due on ALL projects. Even if you’re not in this fee-for-service racket, you should add a Credits link to the main page of your Flash game as a matter of course. You need to create a logo and preface your own game with it – or simply use your own name (e.x. “A game by Ryan Henson Creighton”) Build your personal brand so that if clients come calling, you’ll have established a credit expectation in all of your games.

If ALL Flash games have a credits page (just as ALL teevee shows, movies, album liner notes, gallery installations, operas, stage plays, and nearly every other mature form of artistic expression or entertainment already has), then it will be simply unspeakable for a client to ask that you remove your name from the game. You can also support the IGDA in their efforts to create a Credit Standards guide, and point your clients to that guide during contract negotiations. For our part, Untold Entertainment now requires credit and promotion rights on all of our contracts – otherwise, we simply don’t take the job. If we as developers band together and demand recognition for our creative efforts as they do in so many other entertainment industries, together we can drag online games kicking and screaming from adolescence to adulthood.

Credits: this article was written by Ryan Henson Creighton, assistant schloob.

Sucked Back Into the Vortex

The Vortex Game Conference & Competition, an (increasingly) annual event, has launched its promotional campaign. i’ve been an entrant in the event twice now, and a very vocal critic of it for a number of years. One of my colleagues said it best: “You criticize because you care, Ryan.”

And i do! i want Toronto to have a really first-rate, world-renowned game design competition, but Vortex falls so far short of its potential that its participants, speakers and volunteer staff come out scathed every year.

Some of the problems plaguing the event in the past have included an impossibly short six week development time frame from funding approval to event date, lack of interest/commitment from industry (as the competition demanded too much commitment), and an outrageously imbalanced judging process that would make Middle East elections officers blush.

Here’s hoping that this year’s event improves on past transgressions. These are the changes i noticed from touring the new website:

Site’s Set High

Vortex Competition Website

The new Vortex website has much higher production values than in previous years. The design is far brighter and more Web 2.0-looking than the black and pink (??!) morass it once was, but the old design lingers in the occasional corner badge and logo treatment. It’s easier to find crucial information, like dates and prices, on the new site.

DIG Didn’t Get Buried

DIG London

The Vortex site now partners with DIG (Digital Interactive Gaming), a mostly student-focused conference in London Ontario. Last year, presumably due to the six week ramp-up, the Vortex event was scheduled right on top of DIG, and the two events had to fight for speakers and attendance. It’s heart-breaking to see that happen – i’m very glad that this year, the two events are not only co-existing, but cross-promoting. The Vortex semi-finals take place in London at DIG this year; semi-finalists will be ferried for free to the event in a special Vortex shuttle (read: the organizer’s car ;)

The Calendar is Roomier

Last year’s competition clumped three days back-to-back at a rather nice venue near the train tracks, just East of Parkdale – the former site of Mildred Pierce, across the street from Famous People Players (that’s the one where mentally challenged performers put on a black light show – i recommend a visit!) The event felt like a bit of a death march – partly due to some incredibly dull speakers and drab presentations by entrants – so i’m not suprised that Vortex is parceled off into four separate dates, spread out across four months and (technically) two years, on into February 2011. (The site says “ONE room, FOUR days”, because “ONE room FOUR days THREE months TWO years” makes it sound like a sentencing hearing.) i hope this will make it easier for the organizers to source speakers and to get the kind of commitment they need, now that the ask is a little more bearable.

Likely owing to organizer Sari Ruda’s TIFF ties, this year’s event takes place at the new Bell Lightbox building (which may or may not be haunted by the souls of dead Irish immigrants who fled the potato famine, and on whose graves the building was constructed).

Inflation

Canadian One Dollar Bill

The fees are jacked, to the tune of a 135% increase for industry entrants, and a 65% hike for students and individual industry team members. There is a multi-tiered pricing schedule (perhaps too multi-tiered?) that enables participants to experience the event’s three big dates a la carte, or as a complete package. Despite whatever lofty goals the organizers put to this event, it’s no secret that Vortex intends to earn money from its participants. i’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but let’s just call a spade a spade. Even at $235, Vortex is a great deal less expensive and contains potentially more (and certainly more game-focused) content than, say, an interactiveontario event like IN10 ($695!!), their recent INPlay conference ($899!!), or the amount of power required for the DeLorean to travel through time (1.21 jiggawatts!!).

FUN FACT: Last i checked, Vortex is a registered charity. That’s right – you don’t actually have to cure diseased orphans or nurse roadkill dolphins back to health to call yourself a charity in Canada.

Ryan Henson Creighton

Please give generously to the “Ryan Needs a Colonoscopy” fund.

It remains to be seen whether the price hike will scare students away. i felt last year that one big improvement would be to cull the entrants far more mercilessly, to avoid these drawn-out days where groups of ten college students would cluster around the podium mic, not saying anything, while their ordained leader would mumble something incoherently about the year-end project they (barely) completed.

i’m not saying that students shouldn’t be involved, but i think there must be a better way to help train and inform mediocre presenters during the boot camp phase of the event. i’m picturing something like an interactive presentation workshop (rather than a podium sermon) where participants get to stand up and practice their public speaking skills in front of the group. We did something like that two years ago with the feds when they ran a GDC preparedness seminar. It was a video conference between Toronto and Montreal delegates, and we were each asked to give our “elevator pitch” – a one-minute spiel on ourselves and our companies in case we met Rich Investor von Jinglepants travelling between the 4th and 18th floors or whatever.

Clarity

The Vortex Competition has vastly improved its stated intent. Here’s what the main page of the site said last year (i’m recounting this from memory, mind you, because i couldn’t find an archived copy of the site):

Hey, kids! Do you love to FRAG N00BS with your BFG on your PS3 while GETTING CRUNK?? Do you have a GREAT GAME IDEA that came to you while you were HUFFING GYM SOCKS? Super! Give us $100 to enter our game design competition and you could win $2000 and an Xbox 360! Daaaaaaaaamn, son!

In stark contrast, here’s how the site frames this year’s competition (emphasis mine):

Enter with your submission for a game concept or prototype. It will be reviewed by the stellar Vortex industry panel from whom you’ll receive feedback. Some of you will then get the opportunity to actually pitch your concept or prototype at the Vortex competition. The Vortex Conference and Competition is the only place in Canada where emerging game designers and developers can present their concepts to an outstanding line up of international industry honchos, financiers and venture capitalists in the hope of winning the competition and along the way getting their creation to market. Think a kinder, gentler “Dragon’s Den” with massive networking opportunities and prizing, coupled with industry sessions and coaching from the most successful entrepreneurs in Canada.

“A kinder, gentler ‘Dragon’s Den’”. That’s the key, folks. That’s what Vortex was supposed to be all along, and only now is it being made crystal clear. Gone is the phrase “game design competition” from the site. That’s because Vortex isn’t a game design competition. It’s much more about the bidness of games. Successful entrants and presenters will have their entire gameplan worked out, from timeline and budgeting, to development and marketing costs, to actual marketing and launch specifics. This is a presentation of a game concept as a business proposition. If you’ve ever applied for one of Canada’s content funds, or pitched a game to an investor like a VC, angel, or the Bank of Mom, you’ll know that the actual game idea is only one component in the complex machinery of your proposal. i’m very glad to see that the intent of the event is being made more clear, and i hope word spreads about what’s expected of entrants.

Final Words of Warning

Am i going to enter this year? i’m actually amazed Vortex hasn’t shown up at my office with a pipe bomb by this point. i’m not their favourite person. If i enter, i’ll likely be burning my $235 entrance fee, because it sounds like they’ll be culling their entrants. And man, they’re probably itching to “cull” me.

Hitman Bathtub

OHAI! You say Vortex sent you? Sure – i’d LOVE some toast!

Take a quick look at their Privacy Policy, where they admit they’ll share your personal details to “like-minded organizations” and possibly hit you up for money. If you’re not cool with that, make sure to opt out, and to wait their two business days (!!) to be removed from the list.

Finally, i find it amusing that Vortex claims to be “only place in Canada where [you] can [present your game] in the hope of winning the competition”. So … Vortex is the only place in Canada where you can win the Vortex competition? That’s most likely true.

However awkwardly written, the sentiment that Vortex is the only place in Canada where you have access to industry “honchos, financiers and venture capitalists” is a bit off the mark. Thankfully, there are a LOT of great game-related events going on in this country. Here are just a few (and i’ve highlighted those that are free to participants):

Go forth and game!

Gimme Some Credit

i introduced myself to residents at the Canadian Film Centre Media Lab this week, by telling them about my background making web games for a Canadian broadcaster. i said that after my tenure there, i had over fifty games to my name … and then i paused. “To my name.” i corrected myself – i had worked on over fifty games, but not one of them had been to my name. In over seven years at the place, i had not been credited on a single game.

Mystery Man

If i could receive credit, i would reveal that this is, in fact, a picture of me.

The story continues today. A new client – an animation company – asked to partner with us on a Request for Proposal. They asked me to provide a credits list. i had never heard of such a thing. i told them that i could provide a list of games and projects we’ve worked on, but i confided that i hadn’t actually been credited on anything. This was despite over two years of operation as Untold Entertainment.

Disavow All Knowledge

A prospective client, a broadcaster, contacted me a few weeks ago and asked me to bid on a project. i came back with a very competetive price, but one of my stipulations was that i wanted to link to the finished project from my website, and to host a video of gameplay on my site in case the client’s link ever went down. The prospective client adamantly refused to allow this. “Media Conglomorate X is a self-contained, self-sufficient entity that does NOT outsource work to vendors (even though we do).” The issue was a sticking point for me, and i declined the contract.

Still another teevee client made it a make-or-break condition of a contract on a six-month job that we didn’t link to or mention the project on our website. We could talk about the project in any medium other than web, including (presumably) film, teevee, physical sell-sheets, and interpretive dance. They allowed for these, knowing that the only place we promote our work is on our website.

i have taken work from teevee clients who have revealed to me that they’re no longer hiring a colleague of mine, because he has started asking for credit on final projects.

The Credit Double Standard

This all leads me to believe that while those of us who have been involved in video games all our lives see it as a legitimate medium, the Old Guard – particularly teevee people, and especially Canadian broadcasters – don’t. Everyone who works on a film, down to the seemingly most insignificant person who holds the lunch platter (the “sandwich grip”), gets credited by name at the end of the movie. And in cases where animated movies or special effects-heavy flicks outsource shots to other production companies, you see those production companies listed by name, with all of their employees individually credited.

Ever read the liner notes on a music album? The guy who played the triangle gets a credit.

Pig playing a triangle

i don’t mean to knock it – it’s a beautiful instrument.

Ever watch the credit roll at the end of a teevee show? The Executive Producer on the broadcaster side who had nothing to do with the conception or production of the show gets a credit – usually top-billing.

But what do they give a web game developer who handles the art, animation, programming, writing, voice-over, sound effects, music composition and performance, bug testing and sandwich holding? Bupkiss. No credit. And worse – the threat of a lost contract to anyone who dares ask for credit.

Bear bending over

This picture comes up in a Google Image Search for “bupkiss”. No idea why it does, but the image seems appropriate.

Disgrace

i know many of the posts i write here are rife with griping, ranting and finger-pointing, but in this event it’s justified. Old Guard teevee types who pack a show’s credit list with names, but who refuse to acknowledge that a single soul (and in my case, ONLY a single soul) worked on a video game supporting that show, should be publicly shamed. So here i am, publicly shaming them.

For shame!! The people who work on a project must be credited for their work on that project. Vendors must be permitted to showcase that work on their own sites, so that they can successfully contract more work. And the medium of video games – web games included – must be treated as a significant one. The creators of web games are worthy to be recognized to the same degree as producers of film, teevee, music, and radio.

How to Sell Video Games to the Ladies

Quick OMGPOPQUIZZZ!!! You’re creating a registration form, and you’d like to know if your registrant has a PENIS or a VAGINA. Do you ask for the registrant’s GENDER, or do you ask for his or her SEX?

Female-ish warrior

Choose wisely.

The correct answer is “SEX”.

It annoys me to no end to see “GENDER” on a form asking me whether i have a penis or a vagina, because gender is not determined by that factor alone. Gender – masculinity and femininity/maleness and femaleness – is determined by a number of factors, and is not solely influenced by the amount of testosterone / progesterone / estrogen / Legolas / pepperoni in your body. i reflected on this while i read guest author Julia Barry’s How to Create/Market Games for Women article on Taylan Kay’s “The Selling Game” blog.

Sissy Boy

i comment a lot on violence in gaming, often complaining about it, as i would if i were a filmmaker who wanted to create great films, but the dominant genre in my industry was porn. Or if i was a television producer, and the top-ranking shows were fishing shows, and you couldn’t get any considerable love or attention unless you created a fishing show. It’s depressing.

But i was reminded throughout Julia’s article that i have had a far different upbringing than most men. i was raised the only child of a single mother who abhorred violence of any kind. Most of the men in my life were baddies. And today, i am the only male in my family unit save for the two cats, and we cut off their testicles years ago.

LOLCat Neuter

So when i rail against violence – when i commit to non-violence in my company credo – i’m doing so from a unique position where, through my upbringing and conditioning, i skew further toward the feminine end of the gender spectrum than the masculine end. And i’m okay with that. It helps me to appreciate and understand Julia’s perspective far more than if i’d been raised on a steady diet of blood n’ tits.

Barbarians at the Gate

With many videogames, we are entrenching a world of values where boys impress each other by being violent, and girls impress boys (and compete with other girls) in being pretty and inviting of sexual encounter.

i agree with Julia here, as long as we replace “are entrenching” with “have entrenched”. It feels like this attitude of betterment-through-beheading has been firmly set, and we are enslaved to it. This value system was already in place in other media while the pioneers of video games were creating Space War!, Pong and Zork on monstrous machines at the turn-of-the-80′s. Video games were far less visceral while i was growing up – not because we lacked the technology to depict dismemberment and disembowling, but because i believe the people creating games were kinder, gentler and more thoughtful. Dare i say it? More feminine.

It wasn’t until the 90′s that jocks got involved in gaming in a big way, thanks mostly to id software. Suddenly, there was an influx of customers whose needs were being catered to – in this case, manly red-meat-eating macho MEN with back hair and cocks the size of SUVs who wanted to kill, compete, maim, humiliate, screw, devour, shoot, mock, explode and teabag their way to that thrillingly blunt endorphin release that the more reasoned among us can achieve with a particularly stimulating crossword puzzle. Simply put, dumb, base males aged 18-35 hijacked the video game industry in the early 1990s, and they remain the ruling customer class to this very day.

Chet

Hey, FAGS. Where’s the Playstation at?

But Julia’s article gave me hope: hope of a day when we see a similar shift as the jock renaissance of the early 90′s, and game developers figure out how to best appeal to women – how to reliably give ladies their endorphin release (hint: it takes longer, but they can experience it multiple times). Then – who knows? We might see another complete shift that sees the game industry dominated with games about buying and selling real estate, improving situations through the power of colour and texture, nurturing the growth of plants and animals, stealing each others’ friends, and other more feminine pursuits.

Hope Only Exists in an Alternate Universe

Realistically, though, i don’t see this happening, unless we see a major shift in the way electronic entertainment is designed and built. The dominant programming languages, techniques and methodologies, hardware and software have all been designed by certain types of men, so that the same types of men can understand and use them to create more tools and technology, which beget more tools and technology, and so on. All of these created elements play to the strengths of an analytical, scientific mind – the type of mind that is most often found pulsating inside a body that has a penis. PLEASE DO NOT EMAIL ME INSISTING THAT WOMEN CAN ALSO BE ANALYTICAL AND SCIENTIFIC. i’m speaking generally here. And generally, the tools and technologies have been built by nerdy males and for nerdy males, and now that the beget-ball is rolling, it’ll be very difficult to stop.

In trying to create “girl” games … companies pander even more to gender stereotypes. Marketing games to girls shouldn’t mean making everything gossipy and pink, yet there are countless products in that vein. Games and toys aimed at the female population are often shallow, fluffy screen versions of dress-up and shopping.

The challenge here is that women – and men, for that matter – don’t know what’s good for them. i remember sitting at a panel discussion on this topic, where the game developer said that they tested a number of themes and concepts on little girls and female gamers, and the results that consistently scored the highest involved pink, shopping, dress-up, baking, and pets. The OOO (Three Rings) crew defended the sexy, skimpy female pirate clothing in their Puzzle Pirates online game by revealing that not only did pirate bikini tops sell better than other female characters’ clothing, but that they started the game with more modest attire and were hounded by their female players requesting sexier clothing options.

Pirate girl

Alright, i confess – i’m ready to swash some buckles.

So this begs the question: are less-sexualized, more thoughtful and more “3-dimensional” (as Julia puts it) games something that:

  1. all women want
  2. some women want
  3. all women should want, but don’t know it
  4. some women want on behalf of all women, who should really know better?

My suspicion is that it’s that last point, in which case i suppose i am similarly one man in a minority of men who want something better on behalf of all men. Masculinity and manhood are not proven through achieving the most headshots, or ripping the most still-beating hearts out of digital characters’ chests, in the same way that femininity is not demonstrated by combing and washing the sparkling mane of your pink flying unicorn vagina pony. A better, more balanced world, both virtual and actual, lies somewhere between the extreme ends of the gender spectrum.