Superopinionated is the personal blog of Courtneys Stanton. Based in Portland, Oregon, their posts examine life through the lenses of addiction recovery, intersectional feminism, and mental illness.

Power Club #6 - Sitting in their ivory towers 'til they're covered up with flowers

Welcome to another meeting of the Super Opinionated Power Club!

Sorry for the Great Font Debacle last week...hopefully this week they aren't all messed up? I have no way of sending a test email just to myself, so y'know. Anyway, stare at this, which is available for sale as a print right now:

The Most Important Thing in the World

TEEN WOLF MIDSEASON TRAILER. I thought about not doing all-caps for that, but I think you know what kind of party this is. I'm still (perpetually) a week behind on Teen Wolf (because I don't have cable and I cannot stay awake until 11pm on a weeknight, consider me your gram-gram), but some thoughts anyway:

  • One time when I was babysitting my cousin (who is now, what, 23? It's rude to need to ask that, right? I shouldn't text her and ask?) and she was in grade school, she asked me what a compact disc was, so I find it highly unlikely that any of these kids have a cassette deck just laying around to play that tape.
  • "They are gonna burn us to the ground" GAME OVER MAN, GAME OVER /Aliens reference (which is WOW ALSO very old what do kids watch now? Anime? Which anime? Someone reply and tell me.)
  • Peter being the bad guy is y'know...nice of you to get around to that, show? The pacing sometimes, I swear
  • #NotALLMonsters (sorry not sorry)

Time's Inexorable March

  • Kim Kardashian keeps being successful no matter how poorly I think and speak of her

So Kim Kardashian: Hollywood is doing really well (as I'm writing, it's the #4 free app across all categories in the US, and I feel like that's impressive enough that I can't be bothered to check other countries). Whenever a free-with-in-game-purchases game (alt: "freemium", God help us all) has a large install base, the meta-game begins of "how much are players spending in the game" aka How Profitable Is This Thing aka How Rich Are The Developers Now? You can get a glimpse of how this game is played by reading this Bloomberg article, and I commend them for sticking to the traditional rules here, despite the variant piece on the board. 

The variant piece, of course, is that this isn't just a game, it's a game with Kim Kardashian's licensed name, image, voice, and entire concept of Hollywood as part of the player experience, and that's where we start to see how far "respect for women's choices" actually goes once a woman chooses something other than a sensible pair of heels and an apologetic mien when turning a profit. Kevin Fanning earnestly answered Bustle's repugnant 31 Questions about the game, and you need to go read that before we continue. You also need to read this interview snippet (from this month's GQ cover profile of Kayne West) of Kanye talking about Kim and why he loves her. That man may well be the only one on the planet who understands and values the work Kim does.

And make no mistake: What Kim Kardashian does is work. Play the game for half an hour and you'll begin to feel how much work it is, how much genuine labor is involved to make oneself visually interesting and decorated, to surround oneself with people and ensure they're enjoying themselves at a sponsored party, to appear pleasing and on-brand as part of a photo shoot, to network and date in highly visible public spaces, to engage and be engaging. I cannot count the number of times I've heard a game designer entreat other game designers to "find the fun", but they never actually give the full quote or cite the source: "In every job that must be done there is an element of fun/Find the fun and snap/The job's a game." -- Mary Poppins (who would like a raise, in case your coworkers hate you and nobody forwarded this to your inbox). Kim Kardashian's game shows us her job and let's us find the fun in it, but it doesn't pretend it's not a job in the first place, and I entreat you to question if that is (at least in part) the source of the anger in each of the angry articles you find yourself reading about her and this, her most recent successful business venture.

Additionally, the celebrity ladder-climb is one of the better fits for this core game loop that I've ever seen, personally. (Traditional example: Farmville.) Back in 2011, Naomi Clark and Eric Zimmerman gave a talk at a game industry conference related to what they called "the fantasy of labor" in social games that Darius Kazemi took copious notes at, thankfully. The notes are a bit jargon-y (again: industry conference), but there is a lot that is very relevant to how games like this work, and why this game in particular works especially well. The cultural fantasy of becoming famous, of having great style -- these things are powerful motivators for the player to spend time and money on. There is little mystery about why someone would spend money in-game to give their avatar more or better options for clothes, any more than why someone spends money outside a game to give their own body more and better options for clothes. (If there was a machine in our physical reality that let me put in a $20 and it spit out the willingness to make chit-chat at bar, a lot of people would see me a lot more regularly, is all I'm saying.)

To speak to someone about what the KK:H game "is" is to only learn how they're choosing to play it -- personally, I'm a single, hard-working model with a very deep closet (the bar appearances with all those people felt stressful, and it creeped me out to be tweeted about every time I went out on a repeat thousands of other players, "too real, game"). I still take the bus everywhere because I haven't bothered to buy a car yet, even though I'm on the A list. Yeah, I know. I realized very early on that I'd be spending my actual dollars on this game, and it was just a question of how many. $60 felt right, since that's how much a console title costs, and I certainly like this game more than any of the last [pick a number] major console titles released. No regrets, I hope Kardashian and the developer team all enjoy my money as much as I've enjoyed talking shit about Willow Pape on in-game Twitter. (Impossible: I enjoy that an infinite amount.)

I realize I have written A LOT already, but I cannot end this without mentioning that the writing in this game is incredibly good. The characters of my publicist and manager are hilarious, as are just about everyone else, but while the game is playful and cheeky, it's rarely mean. (Or at least, I haven't encountered a lot of meanness so far.) Example: My manager is an older man with a teenage daughter, and he keeps trying to use her slang, which at one point meant he told me he was "DTF" about something. Because he thought that meant "excited" or "on board with". Yeah. So. It's great, go play it, have fun, don't hate women!

Stare at This Immediately

Stills from Bikini Kill footage in The Punk Singer

[...] of the Week

Animated gif: Dark Spirit Has Invaded is how I'm going to imagine my own depression from now on
Fanfic pairing: IT'S A TIE between Derek Hale/Richard Gilmore and Dana Scully/Albus Dumbledore I know, they are both so incredible, and I would watch at least a miniseries about each one.
Quote: "You are not a drop in the ocean. / You are the entire ocean in a drop." -- Rumi
Twitter: Preschool Gems
Subject line song: Bettye LaVette - Games People Play

Power Club #7: Ain't never had a friend

Power Club #5 - When nothing else fits pick up the pieces and move on