PATREON FURY

Or, the Long Road to Patreon

Over breakfast this morning I looked into what, were it an episode of the godawful Big Bang Theory, we might call “The BT Hub Enablement Project”. Or, to put it another way, getting a Patreon.

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The only reason I’ve even got a Patreon login is so I can enjoy period investigative occult drama with regional accents.

Immediately (unsurprisingly) I started to bleed from the nose and had to go have a lie down in a dark room with a wet Maelstrom crew t-shirt over my head.

Given I’m kind of used to using WordPress now, I looked at how to put some kind of monetisation bollocks and it seems there’s an easy plugin that takes care of it through witchcraft … but to do plugins I’d need to upgrade to a business plan. Which as near as I can tell means paying WordPress  2.50 a month rent which is fair enough. But now I need to raise like 35 quid a month. That’s literally 35 people all playing a quid to read me ramble about why we’re changing Swim Leviathan’s Depths so that the Big Whale is only available to phone at certain times of the day.

Obviously I already donate to a couple of creatives – and I’m happy with my wash in general. But at the back of my mind is the nagging suspicion that if I just stopped contributing, that’d cover the internet but that’s austerity talk and we’ll have none of that here thank you very much. Even though it would literally be at least 78% easier than doing the Patreon thing. Never mind the actual writing regular stuff.

That’s one of the two bigger worries of course. At the moment I’m mostly doing this as and when I get inspired and that’s lead to sporadic content generation. I managed two months of daily updates and that proved to be a challenging schedule to keep up. I also write for my day job, and after a day of wrestling adjectives into place on a Wind of Fortune do I really want to (notionally) come home and do some more adjective wrestling? Obviously that’s a rhetorical question as putting adjectives in front of nouns is literally the only skill I have and I’m obviously doing it for fun as well as profit.

The other worry is the nagging suspicion that what I do has no value. I’ve not even got a short story in an Amazon Kindle Unlimited collection. Sure in simple word-count the boss and I have written around sixteen short novels over the last four years just in terms of Winds of War and Winds of Fortune but the quality can be pretty variable. I think. I mean the bit where I thought the recent Winds of War were terrible but people queued up to enthuse about them still makes me do my what-the-fuck face when I think about it. Its like live roplayers are just as keen on excuses to froth as to complain or sutin.

Nagging Voices and a Lifelong Commitment to Easy Mode

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Don’t be taken in by the wings on the guy on the left. He’s on his way to a fancy dress party. I call these two “nagging doubts” and “reasons you definitely shouldn’t do anything ever”.

What else? I got the PATREON FURY prompt in November, and I’d planned to use it to write down all the reasons I wasn’t going to get a Patreon anyway but kept putting it off. I know several people who do Patreon but they are all people who produce stuff. Audio dramas, artwork, photography, roleplaying game crunch – all of which require assets that cost money. Wheras putting nouns and adjectives together costs only time and a wee bit of your soul and that.

So I guess “internet access” now counts as an asset I need to do things with? It’s still not in the same league as construction paper, sellotape, recording studios, and whatever it is people use instead of exciting dark rooms full of photographic chemicals and red lights in this digital age.

Other reasons not to do it.

I’ve already touched on content and value worries. Then we have spellchecking. Ever since the cat managed to somehow fuck my spellchecker I have to move anything I write in OpenOffice onto another platform to spell check it – and I’ve never been a big fan of spellchecking because that’s just the kind of (lazy) maverick I am.

Also easy accessibility. One of the reasons I started up on the WordPress was so I’d have somewhere to put my … essays? … about Empire and live-roleplaying where I wouldn’t have to run them past the Boss first but could also link to them on the Facebooks if I needed to. So obviously I’d want to set up a Patreon in such a way that at least some of the content is then made public an amount of time afterwards – and that’s almost always going to be the only content anyone sane would be even slightly interested in (the Empire stuff). Nobody is paying to read 250 words of prose, even if there’s a nice picture I’ve ripped off the internet.

And another thing – some of the stuff I was planning to put up is tabletop roleplaying related. Is it ethical to write something like (say) “Who are these academic drow and what are they doing?” or “Twelve random bits of colour for Perch” and then put it behind a paywall even temporarily. Fuck, is it even legal? I can probably find out but that’s just another thing on the task list moving this out of Easy Mode and into Effortland.

Oh man. Critics. It may surprise you to know that I’m sometimes a bit sensitive to criticism. I’ve been torn since I started that I get almost no feedback on the stuff I write here unless I cross-post it to Facebook (in which case the nagging voice asks why I don’t just put it on Facebook in the first place and stop pretending). I get some – but I have to downplay my response to it because of that back-of-the-head awareness that if I pay too much credence to it it will be that much more painful when someone tells me (for example) that I’m too ciswhitemale to have an opinion on diversity in live roleplaying. Once people are paying, I am (in the words of one old friend) pretty much their bitch.

What if I, say, the Usual Suspects start sending Angry E-mails to the Boss about me putting Empire-related content somewhere that paying PeeDee customers can’t see it? Is it appropriate for me to preview stuff I’m working on for my empoyer on a Patreon even temporarily? What if it leads to … conflict! I never signed up for dealing with actual complexity!

I’m also intimidated, if I can be honest for a moment. I read things other people in my vague area of expertise write and compare it to my own rambling stuff and it makes me feel complicated emotions. With the best will in the world, I am not the kind of person who is comfortable talking about “diagesis” or “bleed” or “narrative structures”. I get mildly dizzy whenever I mention “emergent narrative” even. What I do is not on the same level as an ongoing audio drama series or professional live-roleplaying photography or beautful art (or even occasionally disturbing art), or prolific tabletop roleplaying content creation. Never mind the assorted YouTube creators whose videos I watch on a morning with my Coco Pops when I should be checking the work calendar.

The Loving Support of My IT Department

As I write this, my IT Department (my partner who hates being called my IT Department but doesn’t read anything I write  so it’s fine) has just asked me what e-mail address I’m linking my Patreon to so it’s all got a bit real all of a sudden.

(And don’t get me started on the shivers caused by realising I’ll have to semi-regularly check e-mail if we do this. I hate e-mail even more than I hate telephones).

This is largely her idea – well hers and Harry Harrold’s. He has been poking me about exploring Patreon for about a year – I think it’s part of a revenge plan arising from the bullying I participated in around the Musketeer game he’s running later this year. Harry has a blog of his own incidentally which you can find here. It talks about live roleplaying like its a real ting and has regular guest posters. Heck even I’m on there somewhere. Now I think of it I can’t help but notice that what he doesn’t have is a Patreon of his own despite being an organiser of high quality award-winning live-roleplaying games himself. Huh.

Anyway. My partner has now gone from “you have nothing of value to say” to “we’ve got a BT Hub to pay for” and if nothing else it’s this refreshingly straightforward attitude like this that keeps me grounded. Also now I am the sole earner in the house for a bit, we apparently need to “milk every penny” out of me so we can continue to dine on vegetarian spready cheese and wholegrain crackers and such.

I’m sure she says things like that with love.

So as she is also my Legal Department (it’s a full time job looking after a Raff), she’s ben reading terms and conditions and it looks like the plan is to post stuff directly to Patreon rather than dick about with WordPress plug-ins, and then may be cross publish some of it here after a suitable period of time. That will probably work. Assuming the formatting is straightforward enough.

Dammit. This is all becoming irritatingly real.

The Final Hurdle and the Elephant in the Room

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Caption wise I am torn between “Now we are going to take this button and give it to someone you have never met” and “What do your fans call you is a very loaded question mate.”

So there’s 1,500 words containing significant amounts of whinging and self-pity, all dedicated to not confronting the real problem with getting a Patreon.

Specifically, that if I do press that button and put myself out into the marketplace, I’ll have to commit to a single consistent spelling of “live roleplaying”. Given I’m refusing to use either LRP or LARP for various complex reasons (not least of which is that if I write it out in full each time it counts as anywhere from two to three words each time rather than one), I need to work out how many words I’m going to commit to it and where the fucking hyphen goes (if there is one).

Plus I’m going to have to decide which swear words I can use in a Patreon post.

This is all starting to feel too much like hard work, I’m telling you.

Political Statements and Vampires

New Pastures (By Which I Mean Hills)

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The real reason to live in the North. Also the vegan sausage rolls are very nice.

Well I’ve moved, and more or less settled in. I now live in an attic, but it is a nice attic as long as I don’t stand up from my chair too quickly and smack my head off the roof beam that sits directly above it. There is the small issue of it being up four flights of stairs, and having something I have christened the Disappointment Landing (because whenever I get to it I think “oh thank goodness” but then remember I have two more flights of stairs to go). I also now live on a hill, which is basically a punishment sent by a cruel God for my assorted sins. Everything I own more or less is still in boxes; cardboard ones in the attic or plastic ones in the back of the Boss’ van somewhere in Preston.

The cats have settled in more or less. Muppet seems to have barely noticed we’ve moved (she went downstairs to look at Sam’s parents on the second day, then largely ignored everyone). As near as we can tell Truffle is having adventures exploring the house at night when everyone is asleep as she is still extremely nervy around other humans.

Oh and there’s a Greggs. I’m glad to be living somewhere with a Greggs again.

A Quick Disclaimer

I warn you – this is a long and rambling piece in which I try to put some thoughts in order. I’m on a self-imposed break from Facebook in an attempt to improve my productivity, and this is turning out to be significantly more dangerous than I thought it would be. I’m also like most of the UK a bit stressed about fucking Brexit, and irritated that I missed the deadline for something I was looking forward to due to Writer’s Block and moves.

Also, this isn’t really what I was planning to write about tonight. I’d spent part of the morning planning to go with with the long delayed RITUAL REVIEW : SWIM LEVIATHAN’S DEPTH. Or possibly a 2,000 word rant about CALL WINGED MESSENGER – I spent the last day and a half tidying up two years of WINGED MESSENGER data and now I hate everyone.

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In this episode, our suburban couple realise that this is the Internet and we’re not allowed to have nice things. Also someone’s mother-in-law is probably awful.

Unfortunately/luckily I got distracted by some in-theory great news that went in a direction so predictable its hard not to imagine it’s a Terry and June plotline. So instead there is going to be ranting.

This isn’t going to be pretty, and ultimately is unlikely to go anywhere good. I’d maybe skip it and come back when I’m writing about live roleplaying.

A Monster I Am…

Paradox Interactive have just announced Vampire the Masquerade : Bloodlines 2. There’s a cinematic trailr you can watch on YouTube and everything. I’m stoked. I’m a massive fan of the first game (I reinstalled it just the other week in fact, and nearly did a ranom blogpost about it after reading up about the game on wikipedia). I was once a really big Vampire:The Masquerade fan but then I became a Vampire:the Requiem fan and then I gave up on Vampires and sulked for a good many years for reasons too many to go into.

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This prick. With his stupid goofy face and stupid rolly eyes and stupid haircut.

So there I am. Stoked. Potentially a good single-player roleplaying experience with familiar tropes and, if it’s anywhere near as good as the first one, an engaging story with cool characters and a certain amount of sneaking about. Plus character customization so I don’t need to look like that crap pasty-faced weirdo this time round.

I read a Rock, Paper, Shotgun article about the game. I watched a nice Jim Sterling video, in which the normally garrolous Jim said positive things about good games and such. A spirit of optimism prevailed.

Jim having informed me that it was on Steam, I popped over there to stick the game on the old wishlist, and check out the forums which I anticipated would be chocka-blocka people like me enthusing about a fourteen-year-old game and being stoked and hyped and a bunch of other words from a 90s teen romcom.

Oh dear. Oh deary me. I really should have known better.

Something About Abysses And That

What I found was an inexplicable, growing shitstorm already on twelve pages. How? I thought. How can people be angry about this?

Aaaaand then I remembered. The RPS article mentioned you could customise your character “including choosing pronouns separately from your body type“. I’d thought nothing of it at the time, because this is 2019 and I’m an upright primate who can speak in sentences. Also I was more interested in what Brian Mitsoda (original designer and writer of the first game) had to say.

I’d forgotten what an age it is in which we live. Pages of people squealing about LGBT+ content, and real-world politics invading their entertainment, and virtue signalling, and how there were going to be fifty pronouns to pick from, and how people have nothing against gays but they shouldn’t be forced into computer games (and more than a few who do have something about the gays and wotnot and hurrah we live in a world where they get to say that our loud as if its normal), and Social Justice Warriors, and things being shoved down people’s throats (honestly, they must know by now how Freudian that probably is?), and the obligatory “My thread of hooting hate and manbabyrage has been locked censorship” and “people who force diversity on us are the real racists!” and how leftist politics kill puppies and… oh man. It was like being hit in the face with a bucket of bloody diarrhea in slow motion. Someone else’s bloody diarrhea at that.

It made me angry, but also sad. So very sad.

And also full of hate, obviously. I hate being reminded that there is a vocal faction that squats in my notional living space hooting and crapping out hysteria while rubbing at its stubby little penis with its shitstained little hand-claws. I hate the way they get their stink on the things I like. How they mar things with their high-pitched little-yapper-dog style barking.

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My Gamergator joke from 2014. I thought it was very funny at the time.

They stopped being Gamergate as near as I can tell, and just slumped into the welcoming arms of the so-called alt-right and now they pop up and yammer and squeal whenever anything threatens the narrative that the cishetwhitemale is the only thing worth being. Here they’re out in force pushing the “politics has no place in entertainment” line.

It’s political, you see, to recognise that trans people (among others – there’s a lot of pronouns out there I understand, although I am by no means an expert) exist and play computer games and are geeks like me. It’s political to allow a gay player to have a gay character and enjoy their roleplaying game. It’s political to have people who aren’t white in your game (that one I will admit I haven’t seen in this particular arena – that was from a discussion thread about a game called Vampyre). It’s political to say that all the geek journalists seem to be cishetwhitemen so maybe its okay to make an effort to let some other people in to do an interview.

But it’s not political, apparently, to erase trans people, to just assume that everyone is happy with the heterosexual romance options, that white is just normal, that wanting to hold the door open so more people can get into the elevator is the real racism, sexism, whatever.

Of course it’s fucking political, you fucking pricks. Just because it’s been the baseline expectation of too many geek spaces (never mind the world) for so long doesn’t mean its not political.

… Lest A Monster I Become

I fucking loathe these people, I really do. I know I’m meant to be tolerant of different opinions, and avoid the echo chamber, avoid the Lotus Eater scenario of basking in your own progressiveness, but fuck me it’s hard to remember that when the dripping baboons are jumping up and down on your stuff.

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“Thanks”, philosopher Karl Popper. Thopper.

Sometimes I wish I’d remained unaware of the annoying Paradox of Tolerance because it was all a lot more Easy Mode when I could legitimately just shrug and say “everyone’s entitled to their opinion”. Except it increasingly feels that nodding and smiling and trying to see both sides and open a dialogue and allowing people to have their opinion is actually causing harm to people who are better people than the people squealing about political correctness gone mad.

Unfortunately/luckily, when it comes to the ol’ Social Justice Warrior activity I’m a lazy coward. I’ve got boundless respect for many of the people fighting the good fight but I’ve not got it in me to actually do something. I’m not even a Social Justice Cleric support-character – more like one of those shitty NPC-only classes from the 3rd edition Dungeon Master’s Guide back when some prick had the epic idea of making everything work the same way as players did and forcing DMs to spend hours statting stuff and applying templates to giant rats. Social Justice Commoner.

I digress.

So tonight I’m angry. And frustrated at feeling impotent. But mostly angry that there are these humanoid turds out there campaigning to drag us back to the 80s when only spotty white straight guys were allowed to be real geeks. Fuckers.

I wish I had some answers but I don’t. Just getting on with getting on, and practicing my welcoming facial expression without coming across too creepy-uncle, and ranting on the internet and what have you is, not coincidentally, also the cowardly, lazy, easy, weasel way out of having to actually do something.

CampOfTolerance

Some people learn about tolerance and acceptance through reasoned debate and academic study. Others – surly fat men for example – learn about it from South Park. It’s like Sesame Street for misanthropes.

What I want to do, what my ample gut tells me I ought to do, is actively work to exclude these people from my hobbies and from my geek spaces, until they learn some manners – or at least until they wash some of their shit off their paws. Round them up and put them somewhere we don’t have to look at them, or listen to their fucking stupid opinions, and make them paint pictures of people of all races and creeds living together in harmony.

More than that though, I want to silence them. I want them to shut up about their hateful, shameful, shitty opinions because they’re basically fuck knuckles. Frightened, hateful little shit goblins three missed meals away from jackboots and smashing shop windows with toffee hammers.

I suspect these are the kind of sentiments that make me a terrible person.

Oh well. I guess I’ll see you on the barricades. I’ll be the one handing out sandwiches and occasionally waving a little flag while everyone else does the actual work.

(There you go. A 1500 word Raff Rant like some of my readers apparently enjoy. Just think – if I’d gotten a Patreon you’d have had to pay for this drivel)

 

 

 

In Which I Am Very Sad

You might want to skip this one. It’s for me, rather than you. I just don’t want to lose it in the slurry pit that is Facebook.


Gemini

This was Gemini “helping” me write stuff. I think you can just make out Muppet on the floor below.

Just packing away some last few bits and bobs and suddenly hit by the awareness of something we aren’t taking with us. When we left Sunderland we brought two cats with us. Gemini turned up when Sam and I moved in together officially for the first time and was with us for quite a while. She was small, and we got her because the people who had her decided they didn’t want a cat.

She was nervy, although not as nervy a Truffle. She was crotchety, especially as she got older. She didn’t have a huge amount of time for me but she would come and sit on my knee with Muppet and we’d joke about cat kneepads. She did *not* like being put in a box and ISTR it took all Ben’s supernatural martial arts abilities to get her into the cat carrier to bring her down. I don’t think she ever forgave us.

She died just at the start of Y1E4 Empire. I dashed home when Sam rang me in tears that she was not well and we sat up with her all night and then that was that. She’s buried in the wilderness that is the back garden. I remember having to go downtown and buy a spade in tears. I miss her, very much. Muppet missed her too. She followed her everywhere and when she was gone it was heartbreaking.
It’s a maudlin note to be going to bed on I guess. It’s quite taken away my enthusiasm for last minute packing and tidying. So I wrote this. It’s made me sad that days can go by when I don’t remember to miss her. When we get settled in I think its time to finally print off one or two of the photos I still have of her and out them somewhere within easy reach.
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Muppet and Gemini on the window of the place we briefly lived in when we came to Hatfield. None of us liked that place, the cats least of all. But they liked sleeping together in the windows when it was sunny.