24 October, 2019

Uncomfortable with Blizzard

Watching Day[9]TV's 10 year anniversary broadcast, I can't help but feel sad. Don't get me wrong; I love learning about behind-the-scenes info on things that I remember enjoying over the years. But it really hits home that I have a very long history of enjoying StarCraft, and I just cannot help but to feel sick to my stomach about the company behind it: Blizzard.

Put simply, at a Hearthstone tournament, a player expressed their approval of the Hong Kong protests. Blizzard responded by taking away that player's earnings, banning them for a year, and firing the casters who allowed him to say this on air. The official Blizzard response in China was even more extreme, saying "We will always respect and defend the pride of our country."

After days of not saying anything, even internally, Blizzard eventually reduced the punishments, but they did not give any disapproval of China's stance. This was not enough of a walkback for me, and neither was it enough for several US senators and many others.

It makes me feel legitimately sad. StarCraft is a not insignificant part of my life. I've spent many many thousands of dollars on Blizzard products. But I don't think I can support Blizzard any longer. And it hurts.

(Even though it gives them no money, it feels even weird to watch WCS. It's a part of my life. It's been building up all year. I can't imagine not watching it. But it just feels so very, very icky.)

15 October, 2019

Divisions of My Lines

I've spoken before about the dividing lines that make up my lives. Much of that introspective essay was about how the divisions mean something to me (and honestly it's a much more interesting read than this blog entry). But today I want to make a much smaller point, perhaps too small to matter, but hopefully of some interest:

My life seems to be divvied up into different video games that I've played.

I expect that something similar applies to other people. Surely this is not so strange. There's the Blockbuster era, where every weekend was a different game. I played at my grandmother's house, oblivious to everyone else around me. There's Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, played at my own home, too small to really play well, inviting my father to help me beat an especially difficult battle against Shadow Link. There's Final Fantasy VI, when I finally felt grown up, reading Relativity: the Special and General Theory and pop-science books on physics of all kinds, including flatland and the meditation on the tater tot. There's Chrono Trigger, when I started going more into mathematics, getting stuck on the very first book of the Feynman Lectures on Physics. There's Final Fantasy VII, when I started talking about planets of various sizes, and Final Fantasy VIII when tried to reinvent myself in a new school. There's Command & Conquer: Tiberium Sun, where I acted so hatefully and regretfully. There's FF IX, played in solitude, and Chrono Cross, played in the mountains while I ate hot pockets for two weeks straight. There's a period of no gaming at all where everything blurs together in a haze of unremembered nonsense. There's the purchase of a 3DS, sad and defeated. The purchase of a Wii, trying desperately to regain my sanity. The Wii U, covered in friendship and glad caress. And the Switch, lazy and eager.

I remember buying the PS2 with my own money and thinking it a big deal. Playing it in a home without heating, way too interested in rekindling lost worthlessnesses.

I remember the GameCube, almost always on, ever excited and constantly fulfilled, but only in the worst of ways.

I remember Suikoden, on the large television in the game room, played late at night when no one is looking.

I remember Majora's Mask, with a cloth to catch spare drops from my pen.

I remember Culdcept, played achingly, but with thoughtfulness.

I remember Picross, lovingly enjoyed.

Listening to music from any of the games I've played, so long as they were long enough to represent a period of time in my life, will instantly take me back to those times. Strangely, the reverse tends not to be true. If you ask me about some past event, I often have trouble remembering the details. What state was I in during 9/11? Did I take the PSAT? LSAT? Was I in the hospital that time? Or was that just another dream? But if I was playing a game during that time, then merely play the music and I am instantly transported back.

I wonder how other experience this sort of thing. Or if they experience it via media in the way that I tend to. But in the meantime, I'm going to youtube to play a few songs from interesting times in my past.

10 October, 2019

Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom

Yesterday, a friend came to me with a financial request. This isn't unusual for me. I've publicly posted about my 25% giving pledge in the past, and my donations are on record with various EA sites, so it's not unusual at all for me to receive emails and facebook requests from people asking for money. I never give to these strangers, of course. My pledge is to give to effective organizations. But friends are a different matter. When friends are in trouble, you should help them.

The problem is that this particular friend has repeatedly needed help. They have repeatedly asked for loans, which I've given them. But they have not been nearly as good at repaying those loans.

In the grand scheme of things, it's not that much money that they've "borrowed" from me. Under $20k, over a period of a decade or so that hasn't been repaid. But, all the same, it is too much for me to go on supporting them like this.

They did not take the news well. I tried to explain my reasoning; I tried to not just say no, but to also explain about how the lack of trust on repayments is the reason for my not loaning them money, and not because I thought ill of them in other respects. In return, I was called vile names. They reminded me of past wrongs I did, saying that I had not changed from those days. They told me how horrible they thought I was, how terrible I was being right now, and how downright mean it was for me to leave them in the lurch like this.

The entire experience has left me feeling rather unwell. I am ashamed to admit that I sent a very small token amount to them. It only incensed them further.

Would the same thing have happened in branches where I had acted differently?