Thursday, 25 July 2013

The Definitive Steps to Becoming a Conservative Pundit

The trappings of being a prominent conservative political commentator, especially in this era of Gay Hippie-Islamic Femi-Nazi Liberal Political Correctness, are all too alluring, as unconventional ideas invariably lead to instant spotlight and, subsequently, sempiternal fame and continual panegyrics and support from other conservatives. The success of many conservative pundits is proof of these perquisites.  Indeed, Ann Coulter is constantly throned on the list of New York Times best-selling authors, Michelle Malkin's website is one of the most visited blogs online, and Rush Limbaugh has thousands listening into his radio pulpit like clockwork.  Joining the audacious coterie of conservatives is an instant way to win the hearts and minds of many people who share views that liberals deem "narrow-minded" or "pessimisitc" (which in reality is PC for "realistic").  You see, a common love for something is a uniting factor, but a common hatred is a bonding one.

People contend that conservatives are bitter, racist, sexist and homophobic.  However, that is bullshit.  Conservatives believe in equality for all God-fearing, virtuous men regardless of their denomination. Further, conservatives are colour-blind towards people of all shades from pale to alabaster. Any disagreement with this mantra is, in reality, mere coating of that disagreeing party's deep disdain for the West and their undying love for terrorists.

However, conservatism is not just about race; it's also a very complex ideology that varies from person to person, yet there are some rudimentary, cardinal elements shared across the board, which should be used to unite the conservative's front in their battle against dangerous opposing views.  Being a conservative might be simple, but it is not easy.  In the face of the liberal enemies, conservatives ought to always exude rectitude and be propelled by the following instrumental platitudes:

1) Anger and bitterness appeal to wider audience

There is a persistent motif in almost all conservative publications.  Anger and fear are natural human responses to danger, and they are the fuelling emotion for these publications, which in turn account for their popularity and success. Indeed, conservatives seldom sugarcoat how they see the world. There is always a constant problem that needs to be inveighed against ad infinitum, be it health care reforms or illegal immigration.  Amongst conservatives, niceness and common courtesy are concepts more foreign than Mex-Islamic illegal immigrants.  Conservatives like to say it like it is.  These are testing times. Nothing is ever okay, and current trends are foreboding.  Everything is turning for the worse, and it's all the fault of none other than, of course, liberals.  So, don't be a sissy, be bold and rude. Other like-minded individuals will cheer you on for 'saying it like it is'!

2) Unlike minorities, conservatives are not racist

Conservatives have a totally non-racist trends of targeting certain groups who just so happen to be of a variably higher level of pigmentation.  The target of conservative posts are usually people who, for some reason, have specific skin tones. Meaning, conservatives do not hate darkies; they just hate certain  bad people who just happened to be dark-skinned.  For example, fighting against illegal immigrants is not racist.  Illegal immigration IS illegal.  It's not racism, it's upholding the law when conservatives take a stand, swarthy, Spanish-speaking foreigners, regardless of their ethnicity, hopping their borders and stealing their jobs.  And Muslims? Oh please. Islam is a religion, not a race. As such, opposition to these towel head sand niggers is not racist, nor is it racist to call for ethnic profiling of people of the Muslim faith.  It has nothing to do with race.

Conservatives are not the racists here; it's minorities, especially blacks, who are racist.  These minorities often pull the race card and bemoan their alleged persecution, discrimination and inequality.  Even with all the rights they've been privileged with, they incessantly talk about how oppressed they are at every opportune moment. Conservatives support equality for all, including underprivileged straight white males who are often discriminated against, unfairly targeted by society and are perpetually persecuted.  This, conservatives believe, is the real racism.  Any white person who supports these minorities is most likely a liberal hippie driven by "white guilt" who should be publicly mocked by all conservatives.  But unlike minorities, conservatives won't pull the race card when discussing discrimination by minorities and liberals against Caucasian men.

This could be surprising to some, but conservatives are actually more passionate about equality.  It is no surprise, then, that conservatives bravely express frustration at gross unfairness and grave injustices in society.  Such injustice is most exemplified in the case of the "N-word" (pardon the PC here!).  Why, conservatives ponder, is it that only blacks are allowed to use the N-word?  How is it acceptable for one group to have the enviable, exclusive privilege of using the N-word? Even worse, society does not bat an eye at a "Black Entertainment Television" but if there were a "White Entertainment Television," all hell would break loose.  Even when touted as a noble cause, some allegedly "educational" campaigns like "Black History Month" serve as nothing but to divide, and are proof of unbounded minority privilege.  There is no "White History Month" unfortunately, so inequality is here to stay unless conservatives balance this injustice by introducing such a program.

3) The degree of crimes and violence are measured by the perpetrator

Such sound logic is often deemed a 'fallacy' by liberal elite institutions.  They belittle this logic by using Spanish words like Dicto simpliciter as a way of derailing the discussion from the pressing issue at hand.  And when it comes to violence, contrary to what these liberals say, correlation does equal causation. Any exception to that is just an exception that proves the rule.

One of the problems that plague modern society is violence.  These acts are almost always carried out by minorities, especially blacks and Muslims.  Statistics show that most prison inmates are people of colour, which is the ultimate proof that immigrants and minorities are the problem, not guns.  In these times of trial, conservatives need to address minority violence.  These are the people who should not be allowed to carry guns.  Guns should be distributed to school kids instead, because it is the only to prevent violence and mass shootings on school campuses. Conservatives strive to defend everyone's rights to use weapons, either by buying them or confiscating them from minorities.

Foreign violence threaten our way of life.  When the attack took place in Norway in 2011, we were reminded by the grim reality of the threat of terrorism, perpetuated by the permeating Muslim population.  Thankfully, however, it was not terrorism.  It was the act of a frustrated Norwegian man who wanted nothing more than to defend his homeland from violent foreigners.  Since the degree of violence is determined by the perpetrator, this sporadic disturbance is a simple case of psychological frustration that led to action.  As such, conservatives changed their stance on this act.  In fact, when conservatives realised it was one of their own, many came to his defence.  This "terrorist" act was just "mass murder" by a lunatic.  As you can see, this person does not conform to the idea of a terrorist, and his action, as such, is just another case of mass shooting and, quod erat demonstrandum, the crime is defined by the perpetrator, not the crime itself.  Remember, only minorities and liberals are capable of terrorism.  Other attacks are just random acts of violence by fringe groups or people who are simply trying to prevent foreign threats.

4) Finally, every opposition to conservative ideas is merely a case of "political correctness"

Indeed, the sheer idea that all humans should be treated equally regardless of their gender, colour or sexual orientation will be the downfall of civil society, which is what conservatives are trying to prevent.  Conservatives want to preserve their way of life, they believe in God, good religious morals, a divine code of ethics, universal societal norms, and traditional families, where a man is the bread winner and the wife is the food maker.  They strive to make the law based on holy scriptures and improve society by inculcating religious morals on children.  They also protect their way of life by valiantly standing against the Islamic threat of imposed religious views and limited women's rights.  Conservatives want to protect freedom and their way of life, so they courageously try their hardest to achieve that by stopping these menacing gays from being allowed to get married, and women from making their own decisions.   Don't let liberals guilt you into their views; they're just being politically correct by demanding equal rights.  And be blunt, speak your mind! You have the right to express your opinion.  If anyone is offended, well, tough fucking luck.  They can't censor your protests, so stand your ground and rightfully voice your protest without fear. For example, if you see sickening scene on TV of two guys kissing, you have every right to, and should, call the network and demand that that show be removed and banned from television.

At the end of the day, you have the right to express your opinion, so speak your mind, and anyone who disagrees with you should just shut the hell up.

Being a conservative pundit is not without its challenges, but it is ultimately rewarding.  You will carry that trophy of triumph and bask in your accomplishment whenever a random person online is offended by what you have to say.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Are girl gamers "attention seekers"?

Note: Before we delve this topic, allow me to make a clear distinction between two terms that I shall be using throughout this post: first one is "female gamer," which is what I use to refer to the group of gamers who happen to be female.  In other words, they place more importance on gaming than their gander.  The second term is "girl gamer" (or 'gurl,' or 'grrl,' or any variation thereof), a group which does the exact opposite.  They are the focus of this topic.

It's trite but ubiquitous.  In the myriad of online matches, namely in Call of Duty, gamers of all genders have witnessed the occasional girl who, upon joining, obnoxiously asseverates her gender to the masses.  Beyond that repetitive herald, their usernames and clantag almost always accentuate their gender.  More than once have we seen that gamer with a name like xCoDxSEX-CxGurrlx with a clantag of "girl," "gurl," "lady" or "miss."  To fuel the brazen vexation, perhaps just in case, you know, we're illiterate buffoons who are unable to read or, heaven forbid, suffer from a learning impediment and cannot see the obvious signs, they almost always invariably have their headsets on to confirm and emphasize their gender (also as a pulpit for her predictable utterances, but more on that later).  Their modus operandi is far too predictable; to let the other gamers know that they are female.

With signs more glaring than the neon-lit billboards of the streets of Tokyo, their continual underscoring of their gender almost invariably have one purpose - to coax attention from the guys.  Negative or positive, with the above-mentioned modus operandi, the attention these girl gamers get is almost always guaranteed.  After all, gaming is an ostensibly male-dominated scene, so to be the girl amongst the guys does seem to carry an array of perks.

However, let's be honest, it takes two to tango -- the guys are at no less fault; upon hearing a girl's voice on the mic in an online game, they will either begin to serenade her and stew her with compliments and flirtation, or cast aspersions and bedevil her with misogynistic and sexist epithets, some of which include the preparation of certain comestibles.  Either way, the attention is there, and the gaming scene is fertile ground for this kind of attention, be it vehement derision or blind adoration.

What's worse, these girl gamers seem to uphold the postulate that their good performance in an online game must be perceived as something prodigious or extraordinary, and, accordingly, merits exaltation.  They continually emphasize not only their gender, but every opportune victory over the opposite gender.  They occasionally wonder out loud on the mic, in an obnoxious manner, to their opponent, whether their gender added insult to injury, "like, are you butt-hurt you got beaten by a grrrrrl?.'  Yes, we get it, "girrlzzz" play Call of Duty and they "kikk boyz ass!!111!1"

Their obnoxious ostentation doesn't end there.  Some go the extra mile to foreground their gender. They often blazon their "girly-ness" with the colour pink in their player cards, in-game profiles (where possible) and, in certain games, in modifying their guns to that colour.  Some even use pink controllers to accentuate their femininity.  While some may genuinely favour this colour, these gamer girls invariably use this colour to stand out in the predominantly male crowd.

Beyond the online game, many will try to coyly draw attention to their status as girl gamers in online forums, websites and YouTube videos.  They occasionally ask questions like, "what do you think of girl gamers?" or "Why do people make such a big deal out of the fact that girls can game?" In discussing girl gamers, these women often use sultry attire and display protruded cleavage while thinking they'd be taken seriously.  They take provocative pictures of themselves holding a game controller, all with the ultimate focus of procuring attention and accolade from other guys (and believe me, MANY guys are dumb enough to do exactly that).  I respect a woman's right to choose whatever she wants to wear, and if she works hard on her body, by working out and eating healthy, she should show it off.  But wearing revealing attire that begs for attention in a YouTube video that demands that girl gamers be respected and taken seriously truly defeats the purpose (and sad as it is to judge people by their wardrobe, it happens).

So when one of those asks, in the manner outlined above, "why do guys make a big deal about me being a girl?" the question answers itself; it becomes a big deal because they make it a big deal.  Yes, female gamers exist.  And no, only idiots give your gender any sort of importance.

To make matters worse, some of these "girl gamers" are often belligerent towards fellow gamer sistren.  Despite their bumptious display on their female-ness, they often see themselves as "one of the guys." Many even admit not liking other girls or having a hard time befriending them.  It is surmised that their uniqueness will be eclipsed by having another girl around, and that they will no longer be given undivided attention.  Indeed, Chelsea Thomspon (AKA Nintendoll) of Negative Gamer (now called Nukezilla) nailed it perfectly

“Gamer girls” hate on each other because they feel threatened by each other. Another female in this “boy’s club” diffuses the overall attention that a girl will get. Therefore a “gamer girl” will rip into another female gamer to protect her status as the most important girl in this male-dominated social circle. This is not unique to the video game industry, I’ve seen it happen in other predominantly male territories such as tech schools and the local rock climbing gym I used to frequent.

It's not just frustrating to me, but also to many, many female gamers out there who just want to game.  They love gaming, both singleplayer and multiplayer.  But despite the myriad of sexist twerps online, they are not the only source of frustration.  Why does a female gamer have to be twice as good to be considered equal? Why does she have to work hard to be taken seriously? It's because of the perpetuating canard that female gamers are rare, and that those who are girl gamers do so for attention on Halo or Call of Duty.

To the people to whom the earlier points applies, here is some newsflash:
1) You are no longer a minority or an exception by virtue of your gender.
2) And if it seems like you're the only girl in the game, it's because 90% of the girls who play don't make any obnoxious references to, or mentions of, their gender.
3) By demanding special attention to your good performance, as a girl, in any game indirectly insinuates that girls are inherently inept at video games and as such, any good performance they make must be given an exceptional recognition.

What about the men?  Why not focus on them?

While, like female gamers, most male gamers are decent human beings, there is a sizeable population of social scum that are sexist and/or sexually desperate.  Some of those I ran into in Call of Duty even admit being ex-convicts (the veracity of their statement is an entirely different matter).  They are, as far as I am concerned, a lost cause and an insignificant stratum of the population that are inconsequential in the greater scheme of things.  They are also the population that gives attention to those gamer girls that crave it.

I would gladly have written about them too, but that would mean that I actually care, and I really don't.  I did emphasize that men contribute to this "gurl gamer" phenomenon by giving these girls the attention they want, but beyond that, I see no point to discussing them.  I'd rather discuss more interesting topics than them.

A little disclosure, lest I be considered a hypocrite: As a gay male gamer, I am all for equality.  I'd like to see the day where we, without adjectival qualifiers, are all consider gamers, and are judged on our skills and passion with videogames.  Yes, in Call of Duty, I do emphasize that I am gay.  My clantag is "Gay" and I do announce my sexuality.  And yes, I do get attention, but it's mostly negative.  I've had people tell me they want to hang me, or that all gays should be burned.   I'm not saying I don't enjoy the attention, because I do.  However, it's not because I find it gratifying, but because it's amusing to see the entire lobby writhe in agony.  Most often than not, nobody really cares.  I don't get "attention" 99% of the time, and that is fine.   And this is ONLY in Call of Duty. Beyond that game (If you play that game, you know the kind of crowd it can attract sometimes), I make minimal to no mention of my orientation. I just like to hit a discordant notes with the bigots out there whenever I can.

And finally, despite the above-mentioned, I am not pontificating.  I am by no means a moral authority nor am I telling people how to play their game.  That is their absolute prerogative.  Not once in this post have I said how should one game, because, frankly, it's none of my business, but remember that certain actions, as unfair as this sound, can have negative effects on innocent bystanders - in this case, gamers who happen to be female.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Reflections on the Terror Attacks in Norway

Two attacks, a bombing outside the Norwegian Prime Minister's office in Oslo, and a shooting a youth organization camp of the Norwegian Labor Party in Utøya, shook Norway to the core.  Home to the Nobel Peace Prize awards, Norway is a country that always boasted a peaceful nation and humanitarian aid on a global scale.  But what was once a veritable paradise of peace and love has turned yesterday into a bloodbath of over 90 innocent lives, in two attacks orchestrated by none other than the cowardly Anders Behring Breivik, a 32-year-old Norwegian with far-right leaning views.

But what does this all mean?

This is not just an act of violence.  I believe that this is a pragmatic and sobering reminder of the reality that any kind of extremism and excess in belief can yield some detrimental outcomes.  Yes, I am one of the biggest supporter of freedom of conscience, even if it were a racial supremacist neo-Nazi, but only insofar as he or she doesn't use his or her belief to harm, much less kill, others.

That said, the magnitude of yesterday's events only goes to illustrate the unbound potential of extremism, be it social, political or ideological, which can, and did, manifest in the most abhorrent ways.  The obtuse perpetrator was motivated by his ideology; a right-wing extremist ideology of opposition to multiculturalism, and used terror and violence to act out on his beliefs.  That, to me, makes him the quintessence of terrorism.  His Norwegian origins and Nordic appearance are inconsequential to this assertion.

In this regard, it is simply outrageous that many news outlets eschew the label of "terrorist" when discussing the perpetrator.  Much more disgusting is the fact that many people, especially on the right, despite their (ostensible) intelligence, have fallen victim to the fallacy of Hasty Generalization, and immediately pointed the finger at Muslims.  Not surprisingly, many of those who made such allegation continue to obstinately cling onto their dogma and refuse, whether out of hubris or simple stubbornness, to repudiate their assertion.

But equally reprehensible is the manipulation of perpetrator's identity to gloat over the fact that he doesn't conform to the 'stereotypical image' of a terrorist and that, as such, 'the teabaggers are wrong! Ha-Ha!'  This is not the time to gloat, but to reflect, and come to terms that terrorism knows no colour or specific beliefs, but is an act of violence motivated, first and foremost, by belief, using the instruments of fear and terror.

To this end, I refuse to join the chorus of finger-pointing, hasty generalizations and puerile gloating, and simply see this as a reminder that the concept of terrorism is real as it is abstract, defined as it is vague and deleterious as it, to certain people, irrelevant. It is very real, and very relevant, and to have it happen in one of the safest countries in the world, by a very 'unlikely' perpetrator, goes to show that the aspects of terrorism have transcended conventional boundaries to become more dissonant, more ill-defined and much more difficult to identify and tackle.

Most importantly, let us remember the victims who, despite of how we see terrorism, have died in the most reprehensible way possible. Regardless of how you see this, the victims did not deserve to die. Let's a take a moment of silence for the victims and pray for their families; that they find solace in the most difficult times. May the fallen rest in peace.

Norway, Canada is with you, always.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Xbox Live Through the Eyes of a PSN User: A Comparison

It is no secret that Sony's utter disregard and lack of communication with consumers, which apexed and crystallised at the downtime, pushed me away from my PlayStation 3 into the arms of the rivalling archnemesis, the Xbox 360.  Though in reality my goal was to diversify, as opposed to divert, my gaming budgets onto two platform, my fleeting yet deep experience with the Xbox Live did not, in any way, alleviate my hankering for PlayStation Network.  If anything, it only made it worse.  And I'll explain why.

I'll admit that the incessant gloating of the virtues of paid services drove me to see just what, exactly, is so great about the Xbox Live.  My 'investigation,' for lack of better words, was eye opening.  Not to the axiomatic, but to the things the XBL fanboy cannot see.

Before I continue, let me point out that this is not a discussion about Xbox 360 vs. PlayStation 3, as similar comparisons have been done ad nauseam.  This is simply the examination of Xbox Live, through eyes of a PSN user.  In other words, this is a discussion of network features only.

In reality, for the average gamer, both networks have a lot of resemblance.  The difference is unremarkable.  Both have instant access, lots of media outlets, friends lists, multiplayer and various things that does not exactly set them apart from one another.  Even Call of Duty: Black Ops, a game ever fabled to be better on XBL, shows almost no difference at all.  The only difference was that one required payment, and the other required nothing.

"So, what does PlayStation Network have that Xbox Live does not?"

In the age-old debates of XBL and PSN, what is often discussed is how the XBL is superior to PSN, but rarely is the comparison made the other way around.  In actuality, these are not comparisons, but contrasts, where XBL features are listed that the PSN lack.  I decided to do it the other way around.  Here is a few:

  • Trophies vs. Achievements:
      While Achievements, in truth, were introduced long before Trophies debuted for the PlayStation 3, it is the PS3 itself that truly honed this award system to perfection.  For starters, Achievement points are disorganized.  In addition to yielding an alert sound that resembles an unpleasant sound heard in washrooms, Achievements lack uniformity and structure.  There is no equivalent to a platinum whereby a person can surmise how many retail games the person has completed without looking at the Achievements.  Even then, the Achievements may include downloadable content achievements, which, in return, reduce the completion percentage to a lower rate, giving the illusion of a lack of completion.  Trophies, by comparison, show the Platinum icon, which, in turn, shows the completion of the game proper, even with the less-than-100% completion rate.  In addition, the total number of Platinums also show how many retail games were actually completed (this is not including PSN games that lack platinum trophies).  That, in itself, gives a much higher simplicity for Trophy structure over Achievements'.  Even simpler is the fact that the value of Trophies are limited and universal.  You get, in increasing order, bronze, silver, gold and platinum.  The Achievement system has every number ("points") from 1-200, some even prime numbers, and some Achievements don't even include a number (The 15th Prestige Achievement from Call of Duty: World at War).  This results in a very messy and disorganized Achievement list that truly vary from game to game.
  • PlayStation Home:
      While XBL users often boast about how their network is more 'social,' in reality it's quite hard to meet other gamers on XBL; this is where PSN has an advantage - PlayStation Home.  PS Home a virtual hub for gamers (of various degrees), rendered in Sims-like avatars, to meet, socialise and chat in virtual spaces.  It is a place where a newcomer can make new friends on PSN, and where veteran members can 'hang out' with other friends.  PlayStation Home has 'virtual' spaces dedicated to various games, and while it is contingent of the users themselves, you can guarantee meeting fans of that particular franchise.  Further, it is a place where you can not only tailor your avatar to your appearance, but also that of your favourite video game character. 
But make no mistake: an anonymous social hub is not without its neanderthals and trolls.  Every so often you will run into the occasional buffoons who thrives off the discord he causes, or the random G.I.R.L. (Guy In Real Life) who will be 'hitting' on you, it is after a short period of time that you can learn how to avoid these.  The former, especially, are multitudinous even in multiplayer, so it's nothing new, exactly.  
But in the greater scheme of things, it is inarguably one of the better places to meet other PSN users.  It's social gaming made easy.
  • Free Access:
      It's free, that alone is a selling point for many.  On XBL, not only do you have to pay for basic functions like gaming online, chatting or even private messaging, but you also have to pay that to access other services that require payment, namely Netflix (which, by the way, is also available on PSN).  

"So, what is so great about Xbox Live?"

In reality, nothing apart from Party Chat.  But I will concede that this is a pretty darn awesome feature.

Live Parties, a 'lobby system' for people to group together, allows not only for parties to join games, but also for party members to voice chat while playing two different games.  This is the most demanded feature for the PlayStation 3 --Cross-Game Voice Chat-- and it is the only that, while only one, can truly put PSN even further ahead.  If you want a closed group of friends to chat across games, this is the way to do it.  On PSN, the furthest you could go is a text chat room, though audio/video communication is available while outside the game.

There are other gimmicks such as listing friends playing the game when you launch it, but that, at best,  can be done in a few clicks more on the PSN.

There is also a Twitter integration, along with Facebook, but those are simply applications that work outside the game (a few games integrate them, just like on PS3, but the PS3 also has Facebook status updates showing recently earned trophies), and are, for all intents and purposes, just simple apps which functions that can be doable on any portable devices with similar apps (in addition to your computer/laptop).


"So, what's your verdict?"

Both are great, but if you have a PS3 and a PSN account, Xbox Live is not really worth it.  Sure, both have their pluses and minuses, but while XBL's party chat system may really be that awesome, XBL lacks quite a few features that leave PSN, at least in my eyes, a far better choice and network platform.

(Though I sincerely hope this never happens to anyone on any platform, for the XBL fanboys who gloat over recent PSN outage, saying that "you get what you paid for" (i.e. nothing), just remember that Karma is a bitch and that one day, you might be in the same exact situation, except this time people will say "you don't get what you paid for.)

Friday, 3 June 2011

It's the PR! Why I was so upset with Sony during the PSN downtime

(Note: I wrote this post a while ago (two weeks ago, actually) but never got around to publishing it.  Still, it's overdue, but better late than never!)

It goes something like this: you leave a comment out of the blue, thinking it'll be like a drop in the water, but before you know it, hate mail starts pouring in, people are calling you a troll (some even send death threats), and media outlets end up quoting you. If you think your opinion doesn't matter (I certainly thought mine did not!), you're sorely mistaken.

The fact is that this issue, on which I commented, exploded in many ways, transcending from mild inconvenience for PS3 gamers to a full-blown case of identity breach almost unprecedented on a global scale.  Now news outlets, non-PS3 gamers and even governments turned to the US PlayStation Blog for updates on the situation.  And guess whose comment was the first to be read by these people? Yup, yours truly.  I should point out, however, that I'm still sticking to my opinion, which I'm fully entitled to.  And feel free to disagree, but do read on first.  You'll come to see I was not trolling nor casting aspersions out of unseemly intentions.

I hate to start this blog on such a discordant note, with so many ideas I had in store, but the situation necessitated it.  As such, instead of regurgitating my points to everyone who asks, I'll explain here and just link everyone who would like to see my point of view.  Also, let it be known that I do love my PS3 otherwise I would not have cared so much nor spent so much of my income on it.

First off, let me preface this post with two important points:
  1. While I am critical of the PR handling of the PSN outage, let it be known that I do not mean the PR team directly.  In fact, while my comments were critical, there were not, in any way, personal, and even though I know they might not read it, I would like to take this opportunity to publicly apologise to the person who made the blog posts in which I left these comments (Patrick Seybold, who is the director of communications at SCEA) for anything that might have appeared personal. Even if nothing seemed personal, he was under tremendous pressure and I did not help at all, and that fuels my guilt even further.
  2. Having interned at a PR firm, I know for a fact that this is not how PR works.  You see, they usually have strategies for these situations, but it is often due to veto orders coming from "above" that pretty much tells them to keep silent, and of course, the PR department has to follow through.  Now, I'm not saying that that's how it was with Sony and the PSN, it's how it seemed.  I was critical of the PR handling, yes, but never have I criticised the PR team because I do not know who was behind such fiasco. So, whoever was behind these decisions takes the blame.
That said, it was still the PR that ticked me off.  It wasn't the downtime per se (though I did miss PSN and PlayStation Home, but I play singleplayer mostly), it was the lack of proper updates throughout.  Add that to the frustration that Sony's utter disregard for direct communication and transparency had fostered in me, and it all spilled over onto my keyboard and continued to pour out through the outage.

"Are you a troll? Who cares what you think?"

Seriously, who cares what I think? I honestly thought nobody did, yet I keep getting messages from people on my PSN (some worse than others), and news outlets also quoted me. Not to mention the person reading this post now.  Clearly, some people care.

So, was I trolling on the Blogs?

While it may have seemed that way, that I only came to the Blog to throw in a figurative Apple of Discord then leave, the tumult that I may have caused behind me made my comment ostensibly trollish.  It's not. I am not a troll. I'm just your average 20-something consumer who:
  1. Has two PS3's
  2. Over 80 games (NOT including the downloaded ones from PS Store NOR the ones I had to leave behind when I moved into my new place).
  3. Purchased every DLC to each game, where available.
  4. Has over 80 platinum Trophies. (check the DLC trophies to prove the former point)
  5. Spent a fortune on PlayStation Home.
  6. Oh and an extra cookie to anyone who can guess the brand of my flatscreen TV.
The fact is, Sony has been our household brand for electronics since before I was born.  I have PSone, PS2, and had a PSP that I left on a plane (oops).  Many of our equipment were manufactured by Sony.  I have lived an exceptional life, changed schools, gym memberships, cities and even countries, but Sony was, in a way, one of the few constants in my life. I bought my PS3 in 2008 at almost double its price today when it had nothing going for it.  Why? Because I saw the PS3's potential, I knew it would be manifested in spectacular games, that Sony will redeem itself. Add in my brand loyalty, and you'll see the point behind my decision.

In truth, I'm a huge fanboy.  In the many silly PS3 vs. Xbox 360 I was one of the few who were still fervently defending the PS3. I always recommended the PS3 over other consoles not because of my loyalty, but also because it is that great.

So to see that negligence and disregard for consumers' concerns, especially those who have been nothing but loyal since times immemorial, felt almost too personal.  And in my frustration I lashed out with that utter conviction that probably no one will hear me out.  I do not have a sense of entitlement, I do not demand special treatment for the money I spent, I only want to see some respect for the undivided loyalty I've given to Sony throughout the years, like many, many, many others who are just as loyal, if not more so.

So you see, the point I listed above were a) to prove that I am not a troll, and b) it was not to show how much money I spent, but to show how loyal I am.

"So, it was the PSN downtime ticked you off?"

Actually, no, it went beyond that.

There is this sense of negligence that I felt throughout the years.  Many concerns were rarely addressed, demanded features rarely implemented, questions never answered.  It seems that there is a soundproof wall between Sony and its consumers where concerns go to die.  Yes, this sense of 'negligence' has manifested in so many ways, which is why I usually kept it to myself, knowing it would never be heard, but that only added to the bottled up frustration of many, many users.

First of all, I have yet to see a forum where Sony employees discuss the PlayStation system and features with its users, or even engage in some sort of dialogue. (They do respond sometimes to the comment in the blogs, so I'll give them that, but it's usually pertaining to the topic in the blogpost, so not exactly an 'open forum.'  Even then, you have to be one of the first to comment, 1st or 2nd page of comments. -- Thank you, Twitter! <3--.  Beyond that, you might as well blather into an empty shot glass.  Still, I am very thankful that they still respond!).  The official US PlayStation forums, barring the PlayStation Home subforum, has virtually no Sony employees to help with various aspects.  Even the technical subforum for Sony consoles has users helping other users instead of official Sony representatives (don't forget - Asia doesn't even have a separate forum!).  SCEA launched the Share blog last year, which sent me excited.  I thought: "finally, I have some great ideas to share" (Many of them were not approved to be even listed and, in fact, overlooked in favour of these suggestions).  But it was fleeting at best.  The list of implemented ideas, over twenty at best last I checked, however, have now disappeared.  Most of the ideas implemented were not due to user demand (except perhaps the 'Ideas In Action' feature), however I cannot substantiate that since it's no longer there.  The most popular idea, Cross Game Chat, has yet to be implemented.  I'm not overly excited about this feature, but I voted for it because I want to see if fans are TRULY being heard out (some point out technical limitations (limited RAM, some argue), and that may be the case for cross-game chat. If CGC is still being discussed, I guess that means cross-game VIDEO chat is completely out of the question).  Finally, The @AskPlayStation Twitter account was a wonderful idea at first but shortly fell from grace thereafter. It gives responses once in a blue moon, provided it's a dumb question. It does Tweet some great tips, but if you want a reply to your Tweets or question, you actually have a better chance getting a response from the @DalaiLama than there (I know it's unseemly, but if you want to know how make a great customer service Twitter outlet, maybe try asking these people - they actually respond!). 

These are just the main points which only served to prove my point.  I feel as though I've said more than enough but if you're pathologically curious, let me know.

"So, your response was to be a condescending "anatomical rear exit" in your comments during the outage?"

Well, yes and no.  I'll concede that some of them may have appeared somewhat indecorous, but never, and I mean never, have used any expletives (like the F word that has been uttered continuously).  I have never insulted anyone.  My comments were critical but within the rules, guidelines and formal etiquette, and even then, if they were deemed inappropriate, the staff have every right to remove them.  I believe the only reason they got such notoriety was due to the fact that it was amongst the first.

Here's how it went:

It all started out that fateful night on the 20th of April.  The PlayStation Network went down, assumed to be a simple technical hiccup, or just simple maintenance.  No one was really bothered.  Hey, it happens.  Right? I was so blasé, in fact, I made a dumb joke to lighten the mood.

Then a few days had passed, and suddenly it didn't seem funny anymore. During those days, not a word had been said (of course I didn't know what was going on).  The longest PSN had been inaccessible was during the February leap year bug for 24 hours (well, it was mostly inaccessible from older PS3's) but even then, the negative reaction was massive and resonant.  While 3 days, today, might seem negligible in the greater scheme of things, you need to understand that back then it seemed like a long time.  Suddenly rumours started flying around, and there was some uneasiness amongst the gamers.  The silence did not help, in fact.  It fueled it even further.

That silence was the last straw broke the camel's back for me, and in my frustration I thought, screw it, and went and bought another console, making sure to leave a comment showing how it seems like they're pushing even the most loyal customers away (notice how I bought it before I was told the PSN was hacked).  My point, however, was not that I was jumping ships, but to say that my gaming budgets will no longer go exclusively to Sony.

Then the worst case scenario was confirmed; the PlayStation Network was hacked.  It was worse than anyone could have imagined.  Tons of data might have been stolen, personal addressed exposed to hackers (I'm sure that possibly half of the 30+ million US account holders who were living at the address of Beverly Hills, California, 90210 were in an exceptional panic mode).

Let it be known, however, that I have never accused Sony of anything, unlike many others.  I never called them "incompetent," unlike many others. I never held them accountable for the intrusion, unlike many others.  I was simply frustrated by the lack of proper updates, as they slowly went from "simple," to "vague," and finally, to completely "abstruse."  The only time they provided substantial update was a) when they were legally obligated to, and b) when the US House of Representatives demanded it.  Must we be updated only when it's required by law and authority?

Make no mistake, my anger over the intrusion was against the hackers.  I was one of those who never lashed out on Sony for the intrusion itself, but my explanation seem to be unheard in a massive chorus singing in completely different notes.

However, my tactic was, admittedly, shorthanded: In the midst of the PR nightmare, the general anger and when Sony was most vulnerable I decided to strike, and strike hard.

It was critical, but it was within the confines of social etiquette.  I was critical, but not ONCE have used profanity.  I was critical, but dignified.  It was my timing and the message itself that created such a negative reaction.  I had the various things hurled at me, from "petulant" to "FAGGET [sic]", people quoted me in news outlets.  Yes, I got many people angry, even if it wasn't my intention.

But guess what? It worked.

They heard me out.  To me, that's what matters.  I have never been a believer in the mantra of "the end justifies the means," but this case was an exception. 

It was not to get attention (I do not enjoy it that much.  Plus, the attention was negative.), but if that was the case, then so be it.

Negative as I may have been, however, I:
1) never used profanity.
2) never engaged in personal attacks.
3) observed proper dialogue to the best of my ability.
4) actually thanked them (more than once) where gratitude was due.
5) finally wrote a letter explaining my position.

Most importantly, I wasn't trying some sort of "war of attrition" or engage in a David vs. Goliath battle (a la GeoHot).  I wasn't rallying people against Sony.  In fact, even as I type this, I'm using a VAIO laptop (ha!).

Critical as I may have been, I was still understanding

I know Sony wasn't intentionally provoking the customers.  I know that what happened was beyond their control.  I know they needed moral support and I would've been happy to give it.  I only wanted to be informed, not for my sake, but for everyone else's, WHAT work is being done.  You see, "working on it" is what I tell someone when they expect something from me that I'm procrastinating.

I know it was due to security reason that little updates was provided, but no one demanded to know the ins-and-outs of what is being done.  Corporations are entitled to their secrets, and some information are security-related and cannot, not should they, be discussed. But the least they could is just state at which stage the "PlayStation maintenance" is at.  Hey, if the hackers decide to attack then, at least it'll expose the loopholes, to see what to fix before the PSN goes public! (I should note, however, that I am no expert in IT so if someone sees a flaw in this suggestion, please point it out!)

I do not want to stress the negative.  There were positive things like the welcome back package that truly offered some great deals to show apology for the downtime, even if they weren't required to do so.  That kind of initiative, even if I personally would benefit little from it, is met with nothing but gratitude.

So in closing, my point was that I wasn't being a troll.  I was genuine.  I want more communication and openness.  And in moment like these I want to be updated.  I still thanked them where gratitude was due.

"Ah, okay, I see! Alri-- wait, what about those "Xbox 360" comments?"

What about it? It's still sitting there.  Again, I never stated that I would jump ships, I just did this at first, before I even knew the hack had taken place, just to send a message that my money will no longer go exclusively to Sony.   Simple as that.  Plus, I can at least "check out the competition" now. 

Oh and expect a very juicy review of the Xbox 360 and XBL soon.  But to give you a preview: it ain't all it's cracked up to be. Trust me.


I know it's an overdue post, I know it's a something that I should've said a long time ago, maybe I wrote this because I wanted closure of some sort.  The fact is, I still stand firmly by my opinion, I will not change it.  I am legally entitled to my opinion.  That will never change.  I believe that I was 100% right in my criticism about lack of proper communication.

I wrote it to show how genuine I was, for those who kept thinking I was a troll (not that I need to prove them otherwise, but even some friends thought so).

Most importantly, I think I wrote all this for me.  On some personal level I have this weird sense of guilt, almost as those I was attacked specific people personally.  None of the hatemail will stop me (in fact, I quite enjoy them for the lulz), but part of me feels bad, for something I cannot exactly pinpoint.  For anyone who felt I was personally attacking them, I'm deeply sorry.  For my opinion, I am, however, not.  I see it as constructive criticism, not trolling.

Saturday, 16 April 2011