Gamer Gate

Full disclosure; I consider myself to be, and tell others that I am a gamer.

I’ve been playing games for as long as I can remember. I played games on my father’s commodore 128. I had my mother read to me from my gameboy game manuals. I remember when the family got a 486DX processor and I could play Doom at it’s full resolution. Now I game on a three monitor setup that I put together myself, with over 500 games in my Steam library. I like games.

It was a huge surprise to me when at the end of August news outlets everywhere were calling an end to the “gamer”. Site after site after site after site claiming that the term gamer is no longer being used and the culture is dead. Because of the sexists and violent tenancy of the male gamer,  the identity is forever destroyed, and good riddance. I didn’t notice any of this, because in true gamer fashion, I was playing games.

Below is a review of what this #GamerGate is all about. (click to enlarge)

Gamer GateAs a gamer, I’ve run into all sorts of people that play games. Men, women, kids, misogynists and asexual xenophobes.  The framing of this issue as a barbaric male VS oppressed female doesn’t fit with my experience. I know plenty of female gamers. During a ski trip a friend of mine brought her XBox so she could keep playing Skyrim. I know a woman who can speed run the first world in Mario 3 in under 10 minutes. I’ve bought video games for girlfriends before and talked about Final Fantasy at bars in a mixed gender crowd. In the UK, it turns out female gamers out number male.

This death of the gamer mantra is bullshit. Gamers love their games and will continue to do so. Yes, there are dicks out there that will say awful things; that’s true everywhere. Yes, people will say very mean things on the internet; they also do that in politics in plain view of everyone and keep getting elected.

There is a simple formula that you need to follow on the internet.

 

And ways to fix it.

So, game on my fellow gamers, and game proud.

Where We Should Build Our First Off-World Colonies

This post is in response to an article posted on the Discover website. The author claims we should forget Mars as a destination, and that of course gained my attention. He made some assumptions that I don’t agree with, and I’m going to go through the post and point out a few things. This is in the spirit of open discussion of course, and I welcome feedback on my own ideas.

First, lets stop calling it colonization. That world has too much negativity associated with it. I much prefer to talk about human settlements on other planets.

I don’t agree with the authors premise for off-world settlements.

It’s not because it would be cool to have people on multiple worlds (although it would). It’s not because Earth is becoming overpopulated with humans (although it is). It’s because off-world colonies would improve the chances of human civilization surviving in the event of a planetary disaster on Earth.

The fear based reasoning doesn’t work for me. Of course we want to have humans survive a disaster on Earth, but that speaks to our base instincts. We are better than that. We have a whole solar system to explore and live in. I would love to see humanity fly among the stars, but we must first master living in our own backyard, our solar system. We have mastered living on Earth, but we chose to use that power negatively, causing famine, climate change and pollution. These are the consequences of the choices we’ve made. To me, going to Mars is a hopeful journey, not one that should be done in fear. Fear will only lead to more negative outcomes.

Creating a Mars Colony

David jumps right to the conclusion that a settlement would be terraforming from day one. His information is sound, but the conclusion is off on the wrong direction. Neither Mars One, SapceX or NASA has terraforming in any of their plans. It’s so far off that it doesn’t make any sense to talk about. By the time we are in a position to terraform anything positively (Climate change is accidental terraforming) our technology will be vastly different than today. The first settlers will be busy with staying alive, not planetary engineering. The cart is fully in front of the horse here.

The Problem of Distance

He gets ahead of himself here again. He’s using a study of an interstellar generation ship to generalize a Martian settlement. The two are very different. It could take 10,000 – 40,000 people to maintain genetic diversity, I don’t know. I do know that the main driver for population increase of these settlements would be immigration. The population would grow from people leaving Earth as more room became available. He then goes on to see how long SpaceX would need to hit 40,000 people using the immigration model, not realizing you don’t need to hit 40,000 people if they keep immigrating; that’s only for a closed system where no new people are added.

Distance is something you have to deal with when working in deep space. It’s a frontier that humans just don’t understand. The vast distances between objects don’t make sense to what we see and interact with everyday. It will take a new sort of thinking to deal with it. Anyone making the trip to the Moon, Mars or beyond knows it’s dangerous. We’ve gotten quite use to flying anywhere in the world and being able to rent a hotel and buy a lunch. The universe isn’t setup like that and we won’t have these luxuries as we travel beyond Earth. Accepting that is much easier than trying to bring all the comforts of Earth with us.

Close to Home

I don’t think anyone in the space exploration community is suggesting that we pick one spot over the other. If you want to go to the Moon, go for it! Making a space station, have at it! Private companies can do what they like, and I encourage us to go after all the targets. Governments have to chose specific targets, due to budgets and politics. But governments aren’t going to set up a settlement either, NASA has said it will bring all of their astronauts back. At the moment, it’s only private companies talking about settling on Mars. There could be MoonCorp that shows up tomorrow wanting to set up a spa on the Moon, and they are free to do that. The location is a trade off however, and if we want to get to the stars, Mars is the best place to start that journey.

The Problem of Gravity

Here’s a common misconception; that the adaptations of astronauts to micro gravity is negative. There is bone loss and muscle atrophy, yes, and that’s part of the adaptation process. If they never left micro gravity environment, it wouldn’t be a problem. The loss of body mass is a problem if they return to Earth. If future settlers don’t plan on returning to Earth, the adaptation to their new environment is just that, and adaptation. There will be changes that we can’t foresee, but for those of us who want to live on Mars, it’s all part of the process.

A New Home in the Solar System

There are plans for Moon bases and space stations. The great thing about space is that there is room for everyone. Let’s get out there, and let everyone create what they want. There are no limits in space.

De-Orbiting from Space Camp

It’s been a month since I finished the 9 week course in Montreal with the ISU. Since then it has been a bit of a struggle getting back to my “normal” life. The school calls it de-orbiting and is a common occurrence with participants. Because the schedule, pace and tone of your life for those 9 weeks is so different than what you are use to, coming back to your life can feel very alien. That’s been true for me.

My summer was amazing. I spent it with some of the most amazing and positive people I’ve ever met. Everywhere you turned there was a group of people discussing interesting things, having a drink, laughing and making plans to change the world. We would be up at all hours, trading stories from our countries, comparing experiences, asking questions and literally doing rocket science on napkins. It was immensely inspiring.

Back home in Calgary, things are much the same as when I left. My task now is to take the enthusiasm that I’ve gain over the summer and apply it in my everyday. Take the momentum of the summer and use that to, well, change the world.