Thoughts on Ethical Consumption (and Review) of Entertainment Media

I would like to start by saying I really hate getting politics all over my leisure activities, but sometimes, it’s unavoidable. That said, for all of you out there, this particular post is completely avoidable, so if you just want to click onward, I don’t blame you.

It’s not what I’m here for most of the time either.


The next step, I suppose, is to talk a little bit about the idea of “ethical consumption” (otherwise known as “ethical consumerism“) – I find that a lot of people who are quick to talk about voting with their wallets don’t even really understand it. Heck, sometimes, I don’t think I really understand it. There’s a lot of complexity to it, because a person or a corporation might be really excellent in some areas, while sorely lacking in others.

Take, for example, this completely made up scenario: Maybe you buy all your notebooks from a company that works with 100% recycled paper. That’s great! I mean, recycling is great, right? That notebook maker is sure to slap that information on every product they put out. What you may not realize is that they’re making those recycled notebooks overseas using child labor. Uh oh. Not so cut and dry now, is it?

In a perfect world, we would all have the means to make all of our purchasing decisions based on ethical considerations. This is not a perfect world, and there are a LOT of economic concerns as well. That’s why so many people shop at mass market retailers that consistently pay their employees below market wages and avoid giving benefits – because it’s what they can afford based on their current economic state.

There are things I need, and although I’d like to say I make ethical purchasing decisions, when it comes to needs, I find that I most often have to make economical decisions. I need to buy food, I need to heat my home, put gas in my car and keep the power on.

Because of this – because need and means are so closely tied in a way that frequently makes me more than a little uncomfortable while staring down my non-choice – I make damn sure to allocate my “luxury” spending more thoughtfully.


And here, we get to what I really want to talk about – the ethics of non-necessity spending, specifically as it relates to entertainment media, most specifically to PC gaming.

Being disabled, I probably consume more entertainment media than your average person, as a lot of things people do for fun just aren’t options for me. So I watch a lot of television and movies, I listen to music, I read books, and I play a lot of video games.

Because it’s the Age of the Internet, and everything is recorded and screenshotted and posted online, it’s not really possible anymore to separate the creation from the creator. Still, it’s not new. I vowed to never by anything written by Orson Scott Card after he wrote an essay in which he advocated for laws against homosexual sexual relationships. Even when I was a teenager, I understood that giving my money and my attention to someone who believed that was not something I wanted to do.

But it’s everywhere now.

No longer do we have to wait for someone in the public eye to do something so incredibly boneheaded for us to see the skeletons in their closet. Activism is in, and people are out there actually searching for things to blast folks out about on Twitter and Reddit. So how do we, the consumer, decide who should and shouldn’t get our attention and our money?

I can’t tell you that. I can only tell you how I do it.


Firstly, I don’t get all caught up in the drama surrounding loot boxes and microtransactions, because I understand the simple fact that corporations exist to make money. If someone else is doing something, and it’s making them money, other companies will jump on that bandwagon.

Now, I think it’s shitty to expect your customer to pay full price for a game, and then add in a zillion micro-transactions in order to make the game fun (or perhaps even playable), but here, I think the consumers are just as problematic as the companies. These types of games frequently don’t appeal to me, so it’s not a moral quandary, and when I do play paid games with micro-transactions? I don’t indulge in them.

When I find out something awful about a person or company who has made or published a game I am interested in, I absolutely will factor that into my decision. I honestly don’t spend hours hunting for a reason not to buy things – I tend to stumble across things in the process of trying to find out more about a game. Sometimes, I have a visceral reaction which immediately flops something onto my “never buy” list. Most often, I need to mull it over.

First, I will ask myself if this is an issue relevant to my core values. I am not even going to pretend I’m a perfect person and that I feel strongly about every wrong thing back to the beginning of time. I’m not going to boycott a developer who was arrested once for smoking a joint, because I don’t care. I won’t necessarily decide not to buy something because one of the development team got into a Reddit argument 15 years ago and called someone an asshole (especially not if that person was – well – being an asshole at the time). People are PEOPLE and they’re going to fuck up, but that doesn’t invalidate everything else.

Now, again, these things will mostly apply to small development teams or solo devs, because I don’t want to know the business of every employee that ever worked for a huge publisher. But I won’t be buying a game if there are credible reports of the devs being abusive towards women, children, animals, or people in his or her employ. I also refuse to support anyone who is publicly supporting (and yes, folks, if you can connect someone on social media to their game, that’s publicly in my book) disenfranchising or dehumanizing any marginalized group of people.


Of course, sometimes, you’ve already spent the money when you find out that the person behind the creation is in complete opposition to your moral compass. Then what?

I won’t judge you for playing it anyway, I promise. Only you can decide if the end product is still worth your time, and your money isn’t coming back. But for me – personally? If I hadn’t played the game in question already, I’d toss it into the never-to-be-played pile and move on. If I had? I certainly would never ever recommend it to anyone else – while they too can decide where and how to spend their money, I want no further part of supporting someone I find morally reprehensible.


I can’t tell you that it’s easy being an ethical consumer, on any level. It’s not. It’s not a thing I want to think of when I’m looking for a bit of escapism from all the other awfulness around me, but sometimes, I feels like the only thing I can do, y’know?

So I won’t be eating at Chick-Fil-A, and I won’t be buying any Cosby Show DVDs, and I won’t be buying or playing Heartbeat. It doesn’t feel like enough, but it’s something.

Real Neat Blog Award Questions from Rakuno

So, there’s a Q&A making the rounds of #Blaugust2019 folks, and I was tagged by Rakuno over at Shards of Imagination. It’s just seven little questions – how hard can it be?

1. What is your favorite game? (It can be a video-game, tabletop game, card game, etc.)

Ok. This is a hard question. I mean, shouldn’t there be a rule against things like this? No one would ask which kid was your favorite, would they? Would they???

I could make you an all-time top 10, or tell you my favorite game of the moment, but anything I tried to put out there as an all-time, most favoritest game would be a bald-faced lie.

I can tell you that the game that had the most impact on my life was World of Warcraft – it was a social outlet when my life was falling apart, and something my (now) husband I and bonded over while we were dating. I met some of my favorite people via WoW, and although I’m currently on an extended hiatus, my life would be entirely different if I had never played.

2. Do you have or ever had a pet?

There were always pets in my house growing up, but it took me until a few years ago to have animals in my life that were my pets, if that makes sense.

Currently, we have two dogs, Charley (named after the incomparable Charlie Bradbury from Supernatural) and Dakota. Charley is a Lab / Great Pyr / Golden mix – although from looking at her you’d swear she was pure black Lab. Dakota – the best we can figure – is part Lab, part Bull Mastiff, part mystery beast, and 100% love bug.

Dakota is most emphatically my dog, or more precisely, I am her person. Charley also thinks Dakota is her dog. It’s confusing.

3. Your favorite developer/publisher chose you to design their next game. Budget isn’t a problem and you can hire whoever you want to help out. What kind of game would you make?

So, after giving this exactly one hot minute of consideration, I think I want to make a Telltalle-esque Tales of the Elder Scrolls game. There’s so much lore there, I could totally see it being a thing.

4. You suddenly got god-like powers. Limited god-like powers. They are so limited that all you can do is remove one species from this world and bring one back from extinction. Which ones would you choose?

I am REALLY hesitant to mess around with evolution because I know, no matter how much I hate some insects and such, nature is a weirdly delicate balance, and it would have far reaching consequences I would never imagine. However, if we could assume it’d be consequence-free, I think I’d have to take out the lowly mosquito, and bring back the sea mink, since that one is 100% on humans.

5. What fantasy or science fiction race do you identify yourself the most with and why?

Oof. Again, for an off-the-cuff answer, I have to go with Betazoid from Star Trek because I’m way too empathetic for my own good.

And when I say that, I mean more Deanna Troi than Lwaxana Troi. I’ll keep my clothes on, thank you very much.

6. You died in a freaky, embarrassing accident. When you open you eyes you are in front of a goddess who gives you two options:


Option 1) You can either reincarnate in the real world as a newborn baby to a random  family without any memories of your previous life.


Option 2) You can be teleported, as you are, to a fantasy world with your choice of a magical item. However if you choose this option you must defeat the Demon Lord that is plaguing that world.


Which option do you choose? If you choose option 2 what kind of magical item would you pick?

I would absolutely choose Option 1 because I’m boring. I like to play video games. I don’t want to live one.

7. You are trapped in an isolated location with five random strangers with no way to communicate with the outside world. There is also a killer on the loose. How many people die and how do you survive?

The location can be anything you want. (a cabin in the woods, a scientific station in Antarctica, even an extra-dimension) Same for the killer, it can be as mundane or as supernatural as you want. However the killer cannot be destroyed, at best it can only stopped long enough for you to flee.

I want to say I would be all over this. My extensive horror-movie-watching experience, with a concentration in the Ontological Mystery, should enable me to save not only my bacon, but at least most of the people with me.

But the wildcard in this story – as it always is in these types of stories – is the people trapped with me. Are they panicked? Can they be reasoned with? Do they have any actual useful skills (because I really really don’t)?

Assuming a no, yes, yes best case scenario, I would be the measured reasonable person who keeps the others from doing anything stupid, and co-ordinates all the escape efforts. In any other scenario, sadly, I’m probably dead meat (and likely first because I’d think I was too smart to get killed).


Hopefully Rakuno isn’t too disappointed in my answers, and I’ve done all right for myself going off my beaten path!

If you’d like to answer these questions, make sure to comment and I’ll drop a link to your blog entry here for others who might be curious.

A Summary for Sunday

I had intended to use a chunk of my free time yesterday to get a little bit ahead on blogging – thankfully, the ideas are flowing, but I’ve been struggling with the actual sitting-down-to-write aspect of things.

Instead, I ended up splitting up my day into other endeavors. I caught up on some television while sorting and organizing our Magic: The Gathering card collection. I had bought some new, larger storage boxes, and wanted to get everything at least sorted by color in preparation for the much larger project I have in mind.

For years, I’ve been talking about getting all of our cards cataloged. Not only do I want them physically sorted by color and then by card type (creature, sorcery, instant, enchantment, etc.), I’d like to create a database so that we can see what we have without having to drag out all the boxes and look for the individual cards. It’s an enormous undertaking (which is probably why I keep putting it off), and we still have another batch of cards that need to go through the initial sort, but it’s a project I’d love to have completed by the time Nerd Central renovations are finished.

Once we’re fully organized, we plan to drop a little bit of money at our local gaming store and at The Wizard’s Cupboard to fill in any gaps in our collection. Although I’m less interested in a lot of the things my husband wants to use Nerd Central for, I’d love to get back into playing Magic: The Gathering on a regular basis again. To be honest, I’m not a great player; I have no trouble coming up with solid – sometimes even diabolical – decks, but I never can seem to play them as effectively as I should.


As far as video games go, I think I’m going to be shelving Gray Matter unfinished. It’s been over a week since I last launched the game, and the slow-pace was really starting to wear on me. Now, I don’t necessarily think I need tons of action to enjoy a game, but I had forgotten how painfully tedious the walking gets in point and click adventure games, and the older I get, the shorter my attention span seems to be.

I have been logging into ESO faithfully, so that’s a start. I’m making sure to do a Wrothgar Delve daily every day for my event tickets, because although I might claim to not care so much about mounts in ESO, I would really like to get myself an Onyx Indrik. I already missed the majority of the first third quarter event, so I want to make sure I at least get all my berries gathered up in time.


Given the amount of time that passed between my last blogging adventure and this one, I suppose it’s to be expected that I would have at least partially forgotten that writing about games absolutely changes the way I play.

I have ideas for posts I’d like to make, but first, I need to reinstall some games, spend some time with them, and get a screenshot or two. On the one hand, it’s great to get to revisit some old favorites, but on the other, I’m not doing my backlog any favors here.

That said, I feel like this blog is starting to come together for me, and I most definitely have #Blaugust2019 to thank for it. I had forgotten how much I missed not just the writing, but the community of other game bloggers. I find myself checking the Discord multiple times a day, and catching up on the writings of other participants whenever I have a few minutes to spare.

So thank you, readers, who are coming on this silly little journey with me, and who are being patient while I figure out exactly what this is. I hope you all are having a fantastic weekend!

Real Life Renovations

Today, I wanted nothing more than to catch up on a few episodes of TV, start poking at the ESO Orsinium event (which started today), and maybe draft up a couple of blog entries.

Instead, I spent the day going through boxes of … if we’re being honest … mostly complete crap. It’s one of the first of way too many steps in getting a room set up to be Nerd Central – a space for board games, tabletop, collectible cards, and miniature painting. The process is dreadful, but having that kind of devoted space is going to be fantastic.

I try to remind myself of how great it’ll be when I’m dusty and tired and can barely string a coherent sentence together, but I mostly find myself looking forward to the weekend, when I can really spend some time getting my game on.