Thanks everyone who came out to Caveat last night! If you missed the show or couldn’t watch it live, there’s a copy on YouTube. It was a blast and it was super cool to meet so many of you! If you want to get the scoop on future live events, as well as extra content and Discord access, hit that mf subscribe button!
Enter The Boyfriend Dungeon Discourse
If you haven’t been following this, there’s a massive online brouhaha over a dating sim called Boyfriend Dungeon. I’m not sure what it is about dating simulators, but they really bring out the worst in people.
The premise of Boyfriend Dungeon is that you fight through various dungeons with gorgeous hunks that turn into weapons. It’s a cool idea! Also, basically the plot of the anime Soul Eater.
The reason everyone is upset about Boyfriend Dungeon is that the game has content warnings. One of them notifies players that they will be receiving in-game text messages from a character named “mom” and another content warning notify players that the game includes themes such as stalking and emotional abuse. There’s a character in the game named Eric who functions as the main antagonist of the game and he’s apparently pretty vile.
Fans have, basically, lots their minds about all of this. They’re sending abusive messages to Alexander Gross, the voice actor behind the Eric character, and are also fighting amongst each other about the role of content warnings in art. The main argument is that the content warning wasn’t explicit enough and players felt like the game had violated their consent. This debate kicks off on fan fiction site Archive Of Our Own pretty much every month. Here’s a good Twitter thread about all of the Boyfriend Dungeon discourse. Click through to read the whole thing.
And if you’re looking for a good deep dive further into this whole mess I’d recommend reading this Kotaku piece on it. My take on this — and with content warnings in general — is that they’re an editorial choice and, like all editorial choices, sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. One of the weird side effects of having massive companies define how we communicate online is that we no longer think about what we see on our screens as editorial content. I think a lot of people, particularly those that spend a lot of time online — the kind of people who would spend days sending death threats to a dating sim voice actor — oftentimes forget that fiction, whether it’s a video game or a TV show or a young adult fiction novel, isn’t Twitter. There are no community guidelines or mandatory content warnings for a piece of art and that’s just sort of how it works.
Personally, I’m not against them. I use them for Garbage Day sometimes and sometimes I don’t. I think it’s all about context, though, honestly, part of me feels like if something is told correctly and presented well, you shouldn’t need them at all.
Kitfox Games, the studio behind Boyfriend Dungeon, issued a statement earlier this week, saying that the content warning will be changed to be more explicit about the themes within the game. “The content warning for Boyfriend Dungeon inadequately describes the events of stalking and emotional manipulation that exist in the story,” the studio said via Twitter earlier this week. “We'll update the game next week with a more accurate CW. We apologize for any hurt inflicted by our mistake. Thank you for playing!”
This is all well and good and if Kitfox believes this is necessary to make the game better for players, that’s fine. But it’s also a huge bummer and it feels like no one has really learned anything and we’ll all have this fight again about something in like two months.
What Platforms Can The Taliban Use?
Sam Shead, a tech reporter for CNBC, has a good thread looking at the Taliban’s presence online. Right now, the group is officially “banned” from all Facebook products, including WhatsApp. YouTube has since clarified that they also have banned the Taliban. As of yesterday, the Taliban was not banned from Twitter. And TikTok is currently blocking any content that’s glorifying the group. It’s unclear if this is still the case, but as of two weeks ago, Taliban members were running Clubhouse rooms. They’re also using Telegram.
As media researcher Rasmus Kleis Nielsen pointed out, enforcing this kind of content policy against the Taliban is only going to become more complicated as the group takes power. “Will also be interesting to see enforcement of prohibition on ‘praise, support, and representation’ of the Taliban when e.g. Pakistan [Prime Minister] is praising Afghans for ‘breaking the “shackles of slavery’,” Nielsen tweeted yesterday.
The Most Popular Links On Facebook
Facebook released its “Q2 2021 report” this week and it offers a fascinating look at what the most viewed pieces of content on the platform are. Here are some interesting takeaways:
57% of people see content from friends and people they follow, as opposed to posts shared in groups or pages.
The number one URL shared on Facebook is youtube.com.
The most-shared link on the site was playeralumniresources.com, which is a website for an organization that wants to “increase the interaction of Alumni Green Bay Packers players and Wisconsin sports celebrities with Wisconsin communities, organizations, and fans of all ages”???? Which is very weird.
The most-viewed Facebook page was Unicef’s.
And most-viewed single post was from an Indian motivational speaker named Gaur Gopal Das.
The first three words I saw were “alignment, connection, and creation,” wow amazing.
A Good Tweet
TikTok Finds A Streaming Partner
TikTok has partnered with a streaming service and it’s not Spotify or Apple Music. It’s a blockchain-based social music platform called Audius. Rolling Stone had the scoop on the partnership:
On Monday, company execs tell Rolling Stone, Audius will take a big jump forward, revealing a first-of-its-kind partnership with TikTok that lets its artists quickly and directly upload their music to TikTok’s Sound Kit
“Any artist can take a song they already have on Audius and just export it over to TikTok in one click,” Forrest Browning, Audius’ co-founder and chief product officer, says. While there are already ways to get music on TikTok without help from a streaming platform, the process is “clunky,” as Browning puts it. “Teenagers producing in their bedrooms might not even have distributors,” he points out. “A common way that unsigned artists get their stuff up there right now is by holding their phone up to a laptop while it plays their song, and they add it as background music. It’s not great.”
TikTok teaming up with a streaming service is big. The platform basically is the main way music in America becomes popular now. By integrating Audius it seems like they’re very aware of that and plan to take that even further. The fact that Audius runs on the blockchain is also interesting. There’s a pretty vocal contingent of NFT enthusiasts who think that the blockchain could be really good for musical rights management online, so this might be a good test case of whether or not that’s true.
New Sport Dropped
A Good Dog TikTok
This was dropped in the Garbage Day Discord by katato. It’s really good.
The Multi-Year Fight On Wikipedia About Whether Alberta Canada Has Rats
This map has occasionally been included in the Wikipedia article for “Brown rat”. It is not currently in the article. The red is everywhere where brown rats are. If you’ll notice, there’s a big gray patch over Alberta, Canada. This is because the region has extremely strict anti-rat measures and have effectively eliminated the animal. This fact goes viral on Tumblr a lot, but what I didn’t know is that for years, Wikipedia editors have fought over exactly how many brown rats live in Alberta. The debate has been going on for years.
Here’s a really hilarious timeline of all the editors’ comments. My favorite comment is from user TheSpiritOfTheWest, who wrote in 2019, “Show evidence that there is a population of rats living in Alberta. One or two lone dead rats do not indicate there are rats living in Alberta. Aside from people working in science or a zoo, encountering a rat, living or dead, would a very very unlikely occurrence. Now please stop vandalizing the page.”
Another Good Tweet
Some Stray Links
P.S. here’s a very interesting GIF.
***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***