Gamergate – The Underlying Problem

To be honest, I’m not really privy to all of the details of Gamegate. All I know is what the media and the almighty Wikipedia tells me.

What I’m more concerned with here is the general form of the issue which is misogyny, misandry and the ego.

The whole Gamergate thing in and of itself is an effect rather than a cause. It wasn’t brought about by the sole actions of a woman or a man or a company (since, you know, they’re legally individuals). Rather it was born long ago from this (now) ridiculous idea that someone who is of a particular gender is somehow inferior to those of the opposite. That state of inferiority breeds all sorts of methods, limited only by the creativity of the human mind, for both bringing it out in the open and making it worse than it is. Unfortunately the collective of society hasn’t progressed to a point yet where that mentality has been flushed down the toilet belonging to the Jungian Subconscious, rather it’s propagated itself into modern day to create even more bigot assholes.

One of the many paradoxes with our society is preaching equality for all in a way that is agnostic of any, and I do mean ANY, factors that would imply differences even in the most minute way. While on the other hand, indirectly applying discriminations based on biases that are either formed from some personal experience or via osmosis from an equally idiotic family. To give an example, a manager considering a male and female employee for a high-salaried position and despite the fact that the woman is a far superior choice on account of work-related talents, the manager, being a male himself, favours the male on gender alone and gives him the job instead. This isn’t just applicable to the Gamergate fiasco (nor is it what happened, I’m just providing an extremely tried-and-true example).

Here’s the interesting thing – this goes both ways. This is something that we conveniently forget because it’s easier to turn on the news and hear about Bob Harrold beating the shit out of Cindy Little while in a drunken stupor (you know, because women don’t drink alcohol and can’t fight). While I can’t necessarily provide examples of misandry, they have occurred otherwise someone wouldn’t have gone through the trouble of creating a word for it. We just don’t hear about it as often. In the same way that a woman can fuck a man to gain favour in some way, a man can fuck a woman to gain favour. In the same way we have extremist feminists, we have extremist chauvinists. In the same way we have males who are rapists, we have women who are rapists.

Get what I’m saying yet? Sexism, in any fashion or any degree, isn’t unique to males and females so much so that we need to go though the trouble of classifying it as either misogyny or misandry.

Please send me hate mail for that last statement. Because it’ll prove how genuinely uneducated you really are.

That being said, it’s not enough to simply (and basically) void the applications of misogyny and misandry. They’re not really a cause either as they’re also more of an effect. Argumentatively they’re an effect of the ego. I made reference to this earlier. Some primordial instinct tells a man that he’s better than a woman and rationalises the stance with piss poor examples like “I bring the money in!” Well what happens when money no longer means anything? (Hard to think about I know but currency is easily invalidated). “I work sixty hours a week!” And she’s not capable of doing that? “I have a penis!” Gender Reassignment has been available for some time bub. Nice try though. Try it the other way around. “I have tits!” Men have nipples too. We can grow them out as well – it’s called eating KFC for a month. “I have a vagina!” See Gender Reassignment. “I bear the children!” Well I can’t argue with that. I’ve seen that enough to know that it sucks.

The point I’m trying to make here is that nearly 99% of the time, our ego is artificially inflated by our own machinations. A recursive issue if you will. Our own ideas of what makes us better than other people, according to the ephemeral laws of our society, give us this ridiculously false notion that we’re someone special. That we’re someone so powerful that others tremble in your presence.

There’s a difference between earning respect based on your actions featuring a wonderful personality and commanding respect because of your artificial position and being an asshat.

Overall, there’s not much we can do to correct this issue of sexism unless society as a whole is prepared to accept a version of equality that truly is agnostic of gender and all that goes with it. However being an extremist on the issue isn’t going to help anything either. Going around screaming “Fuck all men!” just makes other men go “Fuck all women!” and we’re back to square one. As people, we can individually start to foster and nurture the idea that if we start divorcing the archaic notions of differences between men and women and leave it strictly to the anatomical state (barring said Gender Reassignment), it’s going to be easier to help remove sexism.

All that being said, we have to talk about art. Since one of the core arguments surrounding Gamergate is this far-too-long drawn out discussion of if video games really are a form of art.

Video games are as much of a business as they are a form of art. Sure the development team behind a game may be creating it for the love of the art that they chose to profess in whether it be modeling, storytelling, graphic design or programming. But the superorganism that is the company they work for could rightly give two shits about one of their employee’s dreams. The only thing they’re concerned about is profit margins, development costs, advertising and the hopeful evolution of a franchise to continue to rake in the cash long after the game has worn its wear. We’ve all fallen prey to this as well.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, art is defined as such:

The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power…

The storied and colourful (no pun intended) history of art will show you that long have artists of various disciplines covering various topics have come under scrutiny for their work and that is based strictly on the times. Understandably we can’t appreciate something if it carries with it a personally negative connotation that strikes horrible memories in you but that’s the power of art – the ability to invoke those things in you. Not just the positive but also the negative. If a form of art chooses to work with and reveal the horrible nature of sexism and the hatred that men and women harbour for each other, it should be appreciated for what it really is. If it makes you think about those things, makes you think about how horrible it is for something like sexism to exist, then maybe you should start working to mentally train yourself to remove those biases from your life. The art will always be there regardless if a mass of barking feral dogs that are the “Artists Are All Fucks League” comes demanding it be burnt to the ground for some reason. It’ll come back in one way or another.

That doesn’t mean throwing tits and ass all over the front covers of games is tasteful either.

But let’s clarify one thing here. The actions of a sole independent developer shouldn’t deter from the underlying issues at hand. Bashing her and taking sides between her and her ex only makes you part of the problem. As a male gamer/programmer/tech guru, nothing about this makes me happy.

Starting the SFML Journey with Fedora

I am a Fedora Fanboy. I love the distro. I will always recommend it to everyone. Despite that love, it seems like we have to cater our minds to how Fedora wants to do things. And believe me, it does things very differently when compared against Debian or any of its common derivatives. One major point of contention early on was getting used to how differently Apache works on Fedora opposed to Ubuntu. I actually prefer using Apache deployed on Ubuntu than I do Fedora. I fucking hate administering Apache on Fedora systems.

That being said, I wanted to take a few moments to discuss my adventure with SFML (Simple and Fast Multimedia Library) on Fedora from getting it installed, setting it up and actually compiling a simple source file with it.

First of all, I’m diving into SFML because there’s a project that I’ve been piecing together for a while and I think SFML fits the bill nicely based solely on research and reading the API. It also allows me to take a break from Java development and step back into C++ which is my favourite language. I feel all warm and fuzzy writing in it. I’ve always had 100% success getting SFML setup and configured on Windows computers with Visual Studio 2012. The obvious problems there are (A) I have to use a Windows computer (it’s bad enough that I’m surrounded by them at work and my laptop has Windows 7) and (B) while Visual Studio may be really pretty, I’ve never jived with how you have to use the GUI to configure all of the esoteric settings for the compiler and linker; it just feels clunky. I’d much rather type it out on the terminal or use a makefile.

Furthermore, as a bit of a primer, SFML is a multipurpose library for creating programs that need audio, graphics, networking or GUI resources in a cross-platform way using C++. The obvious use is video games but it can be applied to other types of programs as well.

Installation

Typically, when installing software libraries on Linux, you just hope and pray (if that’s your thing) that somewhere in your repositories that a pre-configured package exists for them. We shudder at the alternative method which is manually compiling and installing. I do anyway. So I was overwhelmingly pleased to see that the default repositories on Fedora did in fact have packages for SFML (SFML and SFML-devel). Cool!

First Attempt

For shits and giggles, I copied the source code that’s given on the SFML tutorial site and attempted to compile it (not link). I get my first ding.

#include <SFML/Graphics.hpp> not found

Fuck. Right off the bat, g++ can’t find a critical header that’s needed for the source to compile. So I did some digging. Knowing that library headers are typically under /usr/include, that’s where I started at. What a surprise! The headers got installed in a directory tree that went like this:

/usr/include/SFML-2.0/SFML/<blah-blah-blah>

Well that’s not going to work at all. So I moved the SFML directory out to /usr/include and removed the SFML-2.0 directory. Compilation success!

What About Linking?

This is usually the step where things get hairy when they go wrong. After getting a successful compile with an object file, I tried to link based on the steps in the tutorial.

g++ <file>.o -o <file> -lsfml-system -lsfml-window -lsfml-graphics

Result? ld can’t find any of the sfml-* libraries! Fan-fucking-tastic!

So there were a few things going on here that could have been causing the particular problem. First of all, I’m using a 64-bit version of Fedora. All libraries that are automatically installed by Yum, unless specified otherwise, will install the 64-bit version of the library. These files go under /usr/lib64. Some people have said that they’ll find them under /usr/local/lib64 but on my Fedora system they were under the former. It’s best to find out before you go rooting around and changing shit.

Second of all, ld wasn’t looking in /usr/lib64 for libraries. You can find out where ld is looking for libraries by looking at the /etc/ld.so.conf file. Although not entirely proper, I simply tacked the path to the end of the file and wrote it out. Once you do that, you need to run ldconfig (as root) to enforce the changes. If this step weren’t done, you’d have to keep linking with -L<path-to-library>/lib every time.

Lastly, even after all of that, my linking attempts were still failing. The reason this time? Name mismatches! That’s right the damn names of the libraries were wrong. The tutorial tells you to link to -lsfml-window. By default, I should have linked to -lsfml-window-2.0. Fucking bullshit. That went for any of the SFML shared object files. So I renamed those symlinks and took out the “-2.0” at the end so that -lsfml-window would work.

The End

After all that, I finally got a successful build of a demo SFML program and got the green circle in a 200×200 window. Why I had to go through all that trouble to get the trivial tutorial program to compile is beyond me but now that it’s working, I can move forward with my deeply laid plans to make shit happen.