Author Topic: GAMERS THREAD  (Read 403874 times)

Offline Battle

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 11167
  • M.A.X. Commander
    • View Profile
« Reply #1110 on: March 18, 2021, 10:55:37 am »
It's official... 

Marvel's Avengers - Official Black Panther Reveal Trailer | Square Enix Presents 2021

Last year, Square-Enix announced that it was delaying the reveal of the Black Panther expansion to the Marvel's Avengers game in the wake of Chadwick Boseman's unexpected passing.

Today, Square-Enix showed the first trailer for the add-on content, now titled Black Panther: War for Wakanda.

The teaser starts with a series of panning shots of the Wakandan wilderness, pausing on a few ruins and structures before revealing Black Panther himself and a Wakandan city skyline.

All the while we can hear a sinister voiceover from Klaw, conspiring to launch a "full-scale invasion" with Doctor Rapaccini.

"You get me the army," he says, "I'll get you the vibranium."

« Last Edit: March 18, 2021, 01:11:38 pm by Battle »

Offline Emperorjones

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 14594
    • View Profile
« Reply #1111 on: April 05, 2021, 10:26:31 am »

Offline Battle

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 11167
  • M.A.X. Commander
    • View Profile
« Reply #1112 on: April 11, 2021, 08:02:30 am »
Sunday, 11th April  Twenty One
Webster University Chess Coach Susan Polgar to Retire
by Webster University

Susan Polgar, one of the most celebrated chess players in the world and the most successful college chess coach in U.S. history, will retire this year.

She and her husband, Webster University Assistant Chess Coach Paul Truong, are moving to Florida to be closer to family and for health reasons.

Polgar will be replaced by chess grandmaster Le, a former captain of Webster’s chess team.

During his four years as the leader of the team, Le helped the team win four of Webster’s five Final Four Championships, and four of the eight PanAm Intercollegiate titles.

Le graduated summa cum laude in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science degree in finance and a Bachelor of Arts degree in management.

Since graduating, Le has placed first or second place at several national and international chess tournaments.

As for Polgar and Truong, the two said they will keep in touch with the University and help support Le.

“I am extremely grateful for my time at Webster University and for being able to build and lead the top-rated collegiate chess team for the past nine years,” Polgar said.

“I want to thank everyone at Webster University for showing support and kindness to Paul and myself.

“And we will keep on recruiting new players for Webster whenever possible,” Polgar added.

“We will always be Gorloks at heart.”

« Last Edit: April 12, 2021, 09:37:50 am by Battle »

Offline Battle

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 11167
  • M.A.X. Commander
    • View Profile
« Reply #1113 on: May 12, 2021, 11:55:10 am »
Wednesday, 12th May  Twenty One
The Mandalorian Pinball

Stern Pinball, Inc., announces a new line of pinball machines inspired by the Emmy award-winning Star Wars series, The Mandalorian, streaming only on Disney+.

These new pinball machines are available in Pro, Premium, and Limited Edition (LE) models now.

The story of The Mandalorian is set after the fall of the Galactic Empire and before the emergence of the First Order.

The series follows the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy, far from the authority of the New Republic.

In this action-packed pinball quest, players are transported to a galaxy far, far away as they play as the Mandalorian, teaming up with key allies and protecting Grogu, while battling dangerous enemies and forces across their journey.

Would You Like To Know More?
« Last Edit: May 12, 2021, 04:13:32 pm by Battle »

Offline Battle

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 11167
  • M.A.X. Commander
    • View Profile
« Reply #1114 on: July 01, 2021, 09:29:19 am »
Thursday, 1st July  Twenty One
The Parts Seller Keeping Atari Machines Alive
by Steve Kupferman

Every old video game console dies eventually.

Moving parts seize-up, circuit boards fail, cables wear out.

If a user needs a replacement connector, chip, ribbon, gear, shell—or any of the thousands of other parts that, in time, can break, melt, discolor, delaminate, or explode—they’re usually out of luck, unless they have a spare system to scavenge.

But there is an exception to this depressing law of nature.

In San Jose, on a side street next to a highway off-ramp, inside an unmarked warehouse building, is part of the world’s largest remaining collection of factory-original replacement Atari parts — a veritable fountain of youth for aging equipment from the dawn of the home computing and video gaming era.

This is the home of Best Electronics, a mail-order business that has been selling Atari goods continuously for almost four decades.

But if you'd like to share in Best’s bounty, as many die-hard Atari fans desperately do, there's a very important piece of advice you need to keep in mind: whatever you do, don't piss off Bradley.

Almost everyone who spends enough time loving, collecting, and using Atari products eventually finds their way to the Best Electronics website.

And many of them quickly develop strong feelings about Bradley Koda, Best's proprietor, who, by outlasting most of his competition, has become a sort of one-man Atari-parts powerhouse.

His stock spans all Atari eras.

Would you like to buy only the buttons and faceplate circuitry for an Atari Lynx?

Just the keyboard for an Atari 800?

Maybe you'd like to replace an individual faulty chip on the motherboard of an Atari 7800?

Or perhaps you’d like a brand-new mouse for an Atari ST?

Best has all these things and much more.

And the crucial thing, from a buyer's perspective, is that these are not salvaged parts.

They're unused originals, for the most part acquired directly from Atari's warehouses and preserved, for decades, in Koda's sole custody.

He has simply never run out.

A single order from Best can transform a malfunctioning, beat-up Atari system into a thing of beauty — a portal to a time when 64K was all the RAM a person could ever want.

No other seller on the planet has managed to maintain as extensive an inventory of brand-new Atari replacement parts and peripherals in the 25 years since Atari exited the hardware business.

And this inventory has become intensely desirable to retro-tech devotees over the past two decades, as trade in ancient gaming and computing gear has evolved into a passion-driven collector’s market.

Most of Koda's customers adore him.

He's a skilled service technician with an encyclopedic knowledge of Atari systems.

He helps customers put the joy back in their joysticks with fresh replacement circuit boards.

He has been known to diagnose complex Atari ailments over the phone.

He even occasionally produces his own fresh runs of crucial replacement parts when his vintage stock runs dry—most recently a brand-new AC adaptor for the Atari 2600, to replace his customers’ malfunctioning 40-year-old power bricks.

But even those who love buying from Koda admit that they experience a slight tingling of animal fear every time they order from Best Electronics.

“If I don’t hear back from him in three or four days, I get nervous trying to reach out again,” said Steve Maks, an Atari Lynx collector from the Chicago area who has placed orders with Best occasionally over the past 20 years.

“It’s like, am I going to get on the ban list? Will I not be able to buy for six months? He’s the only source for some of these parts.”

“If you call him too many times in a month, he gets annoyed with you,” said Xavier Ulyanovich, an Atari enthusiast from Oklahoma and a longtime Best customer.

“If you try to order too many things, he gets annoyed with you. It just comes down to having to adapt to the way he does business. Once you’re on his sh!tlist, it’s kinda hard to get off.”

Among Atari fans, Best is almost as famous for ignoring and blacklisting badly behaved customers as it is for selling Atari parts.

A first attempt to buy from Best Electronics is a sink-or-swim proposition: learn the rules, or accept your fate.

Every purchase from Best Electronics requires personal interaction with Koda.

Although he’s fond of using the editorial “we,” he is a one-man operation, and he doesn’t believe in automation.

"We prefer to talk, Via E-Mail, Phone or E-FAX to our Atari customers, and make sure you getting the Right Atari Replacement Parts / Items the first time,” he explains on the Best website, in his inimitable prose style.

Koda is a monopolist, of a sort, but he’s no Jeff Bezos.

Best Electronics has no virtual shopping cart, or any other Amazon-esque conveniences.

The store’s website looks the same as it has since the early 2000s: it’s a lengthy, multicoloured text scroll, as if Jack Kerouac quit the novel-writing business (but not the benzedrine) and started typing about Atari.

Best’s catalog is only available in print.

It costs $7.50 plus shipping, is the size of a small phone book, and is more than 20 years out of date.

It needs to be cross-referenced with an “addendum” section on the Best website, where Koda has logged about 65 typewritten pages’ worth of piecemeal price changes and other corrections over the past two decades.

Anyone who can’t figure out this system risks being deemed a time-waster.

In emails to customers, Koda often laments his busy schedule, and he seems to take distractions personally.

He would rather lose a sale than suffer someone who hasn’t learned the rules.

At least two users of the AtariAge forums, a large online Atari fan community, have reported being blacklisted from Best for the same crime: revising their orders repeatedly.

Koda processes each order by hand, and complains bitterly when made to write up more than two invoices for a single buyer.

Both users claimed, in outraged AtariAge posts, that they were banned from buying for a year.

Another common infraction is trying to buy more than a few items at a time.

Koda will not handle large orders.

Repeated attempts to convince him to make an exception will cause a customer's future emails to be ignored.

(Recently, the limit has been three items.)

The no-large-orders rule has an important corollary: Koda will not accept PayPal orders under $50.

Failure to find a happy medium quickly enough can scuttle a sale.

As Koda’s supplies of certain sought-after parts have dwindled, he has imposed lifetime one-per-customer limits on some of them.

Attempts to circumvent those limits can also result in a buyer being shunned.

And there are more creative ways to get banned.

One AtariAge user told me that, in 2014, he had just finished paying for a purchase from Best Electronics when he noticed that Koda had refunded his money.

Along with the refund came a note:

"see your email to Best Electronics dated 2012.”

In 2012, the user had tried to buy 20 cables at once — a rookie mistake.

When Koda declined the order, the user retorted with a promise to shop elsewhere.

The meaning of the refund was that Koda had decided to hold this buyer to that promise, even if it meant not making a sale.

Kevin Lund, a retro computing enthusiast from the Bay Area, used to work near Koda's offices.

“I had been in the habit of going to his office to pick up parts on my lunch hour,” Lund says.

Over a period of several years, Lund was a loyal customer.

According to his recollection, he placed an order with Best once every few months.

One day, he made a fatal mistake.

“I had ordered a speaker for an Atari 800 computer I was restoring for a friend,” Lund says.

“And I forgot to pick it up from Best at the agreed time. When I went to place my next order a couple months later, Bradley reminded me that I hadn’t picked up that speaker from him at his office and that he’d waited for me for two hours. And he said he wouldn’t sell to me again.”

As in, ever again.

Being exiled from Best Electronics can be sort of a Paradise Lost situation.

Expelled from Koda's Eden of pristine replacement parts, buyers are forced to wander the earth's thrift stores and junkyards, scavenging circuits from husks of yellowing plastic.

(Or they have their friends secretly order from Best on their behalf.)

Working one's way back into Koda's favour after exile can be difficult, or outright impossible.

“He rarely returns any of the emails I send asking for forgiveness,” Lund says.

“I had been doing it every six to eight months or so, hoping he might change his mind, but he holds a grudge pretty good. And this was over a five-dollar part.”

But Atari fans keep coming back.

There are, after all, no true alternatives.

And, for some, there may be a certain appeal to buying computer and gaming parts from a store that still sells them the way they were sold in 1983.

“It’s almost part of the charm, maybe,” says Maks, the Atari Lynx collector.

“Is there some sort of nostalgia for the Best website, in the same way there’s nostalgia for Asteroids on the Atari 2600? Maybe that’s part of it.”

Successful orders are richly rewarded.

Days later, a box lands in the buyer’s mailbox, like a meteoroid from some alternate universe where it’s still 1995.

Even before they open that box, they know it's something special.

Koda wraps every package in Atari-branded shipping tape from the 1980s.

It seems he has a lifetime supply of it.

So, how did one person corner the Atari-parts market, and why is he apparently so indifferent to selling his stuff?

I sent Koda an email to request an interview, and received the expected response: I was wasting his time.

"Sorry for the delay in getting back to you Steve," he wrote.

"It is very simple here. Unless your E-Mail is about placing an Atari order we do not have the free time to answer it."

He closed with a suggestion that I try again in six to eight months.

Although he wouldn't talk to me, he has given two extended interviews that I'm aware of: one to a German Atari enthusiast named Andreas Bertelmann in 2007 and another to ANTIC, an Atari podcast, in 2014.

In those interviews, he explains the unique circumstances that led to him becoming the Standard Oil of Atari parts.

According to Koda, he was living in the Bay Area, not far from Atari’s Sunnyvale corporate headquarters.

It was the early 1980s and Silicon Valley was awash with Atari goods.

Even the injection moulding plant where he worked was under contract with Atari, cranking out plastic parts around the clock.

He started moonlighting as an Atari dealer.

“I saw an opening in the way Atari did business, a long time ago,” he told ANTIC.

“They had their dealers set up for replacement parts, but it wasn’t very good. We were always getting requests from people saying I need this, I need that, so I saw a little bit of a window there. As a part-time hobby I started buying stuff at dealers or whatever I could find in the Valley here. Sometimes dumpster divers would bring us pallets of stuff. That’s how it started.”

The great video game crash happened in 1983.

Almost overnight, Atari was transformed from a fast-growing, ludicrously profitable tech company into a money-losing albatross.

In 1984, Atari’s corporate parent, Warner Communications, sold Atari’s consumer products division to a company fronted by ex-Commodore CEO Jack Tramiel.

Along with the company, Tramiel inherited warehouses full of excess 8-bit computers, consoles, and software Atari had produced during its brief heyday.

Distributors were no longer keen on it.

Retailers were no longer buying it.

Tramiel and his sons spent years liquidating that stock — sometimes by tossing it into scrap heaps.

Meanwhile they committed their own string of product blunders, culminating in one of Atari’s most notorious mistakes: its 64-bit home video game console, the Jaguar.

In 1996, Atari reverse merged with a hard drive manufacturer and effectively ceased to exist.

(Atari's brand name and intellectual property are now owned by an unrelated company.)

Best Electronics was one of a handful of small businesses that discovered they could profit off of Atari's constant overproduction and market failure by buying up unsold products and parts in very large quantities, at large discounts, directly from Atari warehouses in the Sunnyvale area.

They were essentially betting that there would continue to be a small but active market for product lines that Atari had abandoned — which, of course, turned out to be a good bet.

A pivotal moment for Koda and his contemporaries came as Atari was facing its final demise.

The company's last Sunnyvale warehouse was choked with unwanted goods, and there were fewer willing buyers than ever before.

Another Atari store that partook in some of these liquidation deals was Minnesota-based Video 61, which was (and is still) owned by a genial midwesterner named Lance Ringquist.

“Regular dealers that dealt in Atari were pretty much wiped out by poor support for the machines and for the market,” Ringquist told me.

“Atari would try to invite whoever they could into these warehouses to buy this stuff. They were always looking for someone to unload it on, because there was so much of it.”

“By the last warehouse, there was hardly anybody interested at all. Atari was pretty much dead,” Ringquist said.

But Best was still interested.

In the Bertelmann interview, Koda claims to have purchased over 8,000 pallets of items from Atari’s warehouses over the course of his career.

And it appears that a lot of that purchasing happened towards the end of Atari’s run.

Prior to Atari’s collapse in 1996, Koda’s catalog was 46 pages long.

After Atari folded, he released a new version, with 228 pages.

But none of this explains the endless rules and stipulations, the blacklisting, or the website.

Ringquist’s operation is similarly bare-bones, so I’ll let him speak for old-school Atari dealers everywhere:

“There are boxes in my warehouse that I have not opened yet, from the late 1980s,” he told me.

“I don’t need a fancy modern site. The stuff sells itself. It sells faster than I can unpack. So, I mean, how much faster do we want to sell it? I have no spare time at all. I should be retired by now.”

In some markets, a merchant with a pattern of refusing sales and banning customers might eventually be out-competed, but Koda has no true competition.

His stock is unique in the world.

For many years, it was possible to buy new-old-stock Atari goods from a few other suppliers, but most are now out of business or greatly diminished.

San Jose Computer and American Techna-Vision are long gone.

B&C Computervisions, a California electronics shop that worked directly with Koda to buy large lots of Atari goods in the 1980s and 1990s, still sells a few things on eBay.

But the store's owner, Bruce Carso, is semi-retired.

There is some concern and speculation among Atari enthusiasts about how much longer Carso intends to stay in business, and what will become of his inventory when he finally chooses to step away.

Lance Ringquist's Video 61 is still open for business, and it still has a decent stock of new software for certain Atari systems.

But Ringquist told me that he's recovering from a serious injury he suffered while working in his warehouse.

He's not sure how long he can continue.

When he retires, he plans to pass whatever remains of his stock on to his children. He's not sure what they'll do with it.

Koda himself is most likely in his mid-60s, and his stock is starting to dwindle.

“I imagine he’s probably tired all the time,” Ringquist says.

“It’s probably not so easy.”

“We’ve got to conserve our strength, and do the best we can to keep serving the community as long as we can. Because when we’re gone, that’s it.”

When Best is gone, the world's Atari users will be without a centralized source of factory-original replacement parts for the first time ever.

In a very literal sense, Koda and his inventory are all that remains of a once-great American tech empire.

He saved it all for himself.

But the important thing is: he saved it all.

Offline Battle

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 11167
  • M.A.X. Commander
    • View Profile
« Reply #1115 on: July 21, 2021, 09:46:23 pm »
Thursday, 22nd July  Twenty One
Activision Blizzard Sued By California For Allegedly Allowing “Frat Boy’ Workplace Culture
by Bruce Haring

A lawsuit claiming Santa Monica, California game manufacturer Activision Blizzard,  created a workplace environment where sexual harassment and discrimination flourished has been filed after a two-year investigation.

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing said in its lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, that Activision Blizzard allowed a “‘frat boy’ workplace culture.”

The accusations claimed executives sexually harassed women and male employees openly joked about rape and drank alcohol while engaging in “inappropriate behavior” toward women, it was further alleged.

Women were paid less than men and were less likely to be promoted, the lawsuit also said.

Activision Blizzard’s workplace “is a breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women,” the agency wrote.

“Female employees are subjected to constant sexual harassment, including having to continually fend off unwanted sexual comments and advances by their male co-workers and supervisors and being groped at the ‘cube crawls’ and other company events.”

In one particularly shocking case mentioned in the lawsuit, a female employee died by suicide during a business trip.

Before her death, male colleagues allegedly shared explicit photos of the woman, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit claimed company executives and its human resources department failed to address misconduct when informed of it.

« Last Edit: July 26, 2021, 03:06:13 am by Battle »

Offline Battle

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 11167
  • M.A.X. Commander
    • View Profile
« Reply #1116 on: July 28, 2021, 06:50:18 pm »
Wednesday, 28th July Twenty One
Blizzard is encouraging its own employees to attend Wednesday’s walkout with paid time off
by Sean Hollister & Zoe Schiffer

On Wednesday, Activision Blizzard employees will walk out of work to protest the company’s response to a giant sexual harassment and workplace discrimination lawsuit filed by the state of California.

Now Blizzard, the studio at the center of many of those specific allegations, is giving the protest its blessing.

Blizzard leadership emailed studio employees today to let them know they won’t face repercussions for attending — and in fact, that they can have paid time off for the duration.

The Verge obtained a copy of the email, which we aren’t sharing here to avoid potentially identifying sources.

After over 20 percent of Google employees walked out of work in 2018 to protest that company’s mishandling of sexual harassment revelations (among other grievances), several Google Walkout organizers said they faced retaliation despite the company’s supposed support of their cause.

They left, or got pushed out of the company.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found earlier this year that Google “arguably violated” labor law by firing several other organizers as well.

Over 2,600 Activision Blizzard employees have signed an letter condemning the company’s response to the state of California’s lawsuit.

That’s nearly a third of the company, assuming it hasn’t grown or shrunken significantly since Activision Blizzard’s official tally of 9,500 employees in December 2020.

« Last Edit: July 29, 2021, 11:24:25 pm by Battle »

Offline Battle

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 11167
  • M.A.X. Commander
    • View Profile
« Reply #1117 on: July 28, 2021, 06:54:27 pm »
Wednesday, 28th July Twenty One
Fired Blizzard developer’s reveals ‘Cosby Suite’ existed
by Sean Hollister

As employees walk out of Activision Blizzard today over allegations of “constant sexual harassment” and workplace discrimination — and how poorly they felt the company responded — Kotaku has released a report backing up allegations that a fired developer kept a hotel suite named after alleged rapist Bill Cosby.

In case you’re catching up, the state of California sued Blizzard for gender discrimination last week.

The allegations include claims specifically naming Alex Afrasiabi, the former senior creative director of World of Warcraft.

The suit says that on top of sexually harassing women, Afrasiabi had a hotel room during BlizzCon 2013 nicknamed the “Cosby Suite” — and it suggested that other employees knew about it.

Neither Kotaku’s report nor the California lawsuit say anyone was sexually abused specifically in the Cosby Suite, but it’s increasingly clear the suite was a real thing.

As you can see above, there’s a picture of alleged Blizzard developers literally holding up a framed photo of Bill Cosby.

Kotaku says the suite was “a hot spot for informal networking at BlizzCon ... where people looking to make inroads at the company would go to meet and hang out with some of its top designers.”

One source told Kotaku that the original intent wasn’t sexual — saying it was a reference to Cosby’s “iconic ugly sweaters” — but Cosby already faced multiple sexual assault accusations at the time and other sources apparently understood it as a reference to them.

Kotaku says it has a fakebook album full of photos from the suite, comments of a sexual nature, screenshots of an alleged chat with several named Blizzard developers identifying themselves as the “BlizzCon Cosby Crew,” and sources attesting to the existence of a “boys club” there.

One former Blizzard designer allegedly bragged in comments about “gathering the hot chixx for the Coz.”

It’s not clear how serious the “BlizzCon Cosby Crew’s” statements were intended to be, but Activision Blizzard confirmed to Kotaku that it terminated Afrasiabi after it was made aware of the complaint’s allegations last month.

That’s something the company hadn’t previously revealed publicly.

« Last Edit: July 29, 2021, 01:07:53 am by Battle »

Offline Emperorjones

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 14594
    • View Profile
« Reply #1118 on: August 26, 2021, 04:05:45 am »
Marvel Resurrects the Midnight Suns for New Tactical RPG Game

Offline Emperorjones

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 14594
    • View Profile
« Reply #1120 on: September 10, 2021, 04:32:41 am »

Offline Battle

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 11167
  • M.A.X. Commander
    • View Profile
« Reply #1121 on: September 12, 2021, 09:35:59 am »
Sunday, 12th  September  Two Thousand & Twenty One
Hou Yifan and the Wait for Chess’s First Woman World Champion
by Louisa Thomas

Even by the standards of chess prodigies, Hou Yifan stood out.

It wasn’t so much the way she played the game—dynamically but not dazzlingly, with an aggressive but flexible style.

It was that she was a girl.

Thirteen years after she became a Grandmaster, at the age of fourteen, people still mention the two big barrettes that used to pin back her bobbed hair.

“I never felt restrictions or limitations,” she told me recently, from her home in Shenzhen, China, where she is a professor at Shenzhen University’s Faculty of Physical Education.

(Last year, at twenty-six, she became the youngest full professor in the university’s history.)

“My parents never taught me that as a girl you should do this or that,” she said.

“Teachers never shaped my views in that way.”

These days, her hair falls to her shoulders, and black cat’s-eye glasses frame her face.

She speaks English quickly and precisely; she spent a year at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, studying public policy.

She is the only woman among the hundred best chess players in the world, at No. 82.

The second-ranked woman, Aleksandra Goryachkina, a Russian in her early twenties, is outside the top two hundred.

Chess is not like basketball or soccer.

Men and women face one another on equal terms, and no one can tell the gender of a player from the moves on a scorecard.

Still, of the seventeen hundred and thirty-two Grandmasters in the world, just thirty-eight are women.

Much of this gap stems from how many women compete, versus the number of men who do: around sixteen per cent of tournament players identify as female, and most of them are children.

As a purely statistical matter, you would expect few, if any, women at the extremes of the rankings.

Still, this appears to be an incomplete explanation of the disparity at the top of the game, about which Hou is blunt.

“You cannot deny it, you cannot pretend it doesn’t happen,” she told me, of the absence of women from chess’s highest echelon.

For years, she has been the only one who stood a chance.

Hou was born in 1994 in Xinghua, a small city near China’s coast.

As a child, she spotted a chess set in a shopwindow, and liked the shapes of the pieces: the sturdy pawns and slender-necked bishops, the castellated rooks and horse-headed knights.

When she was five, she started playing the game with other kids at the home of a chess teacher, and showed enough talent that her parents enrolled her a year early in the local school, which had a chess program.

She and her classmates would consult a large chess dictionary and write out the first few moves of famous openings—the Scotch, the Ruy Lopez—on a sheet of paper.

Then they’d set up their boards, dutifully execute their copied instructions, and launch their wild attacks.

Hou liked calculating how one move would provoke another, and started thinking in terms of sequences.

She developed a sense of where to push and when to defend.

Her coach at school could take her only so far, but, at a tournament, she met an International Master and former national champion named Tong Yuanming, who taught chess in Shandong Province, a few hours north.

Tong said that he would consider taking her on.

He sat Hou at a board and had her face his top pupils, all boys.

They had studied chess theory; they knew how to checkmate with only, say, a bishop and a knight.

Hou did not know endgames, but she beat most of them anyway.

She was seven years old.

She moved to Shandong with her mother and attended chess classes.

Two years later, she joined the national team, and her family moved to Beijing.

Her parents told her that she could “go back to normal life” whenever she wanted, but she was not a normal talent.

She won the girls’ under-ten championship in 2003, and, the next year, finished the boys’ under-ten tournament tied for first, placing third after tiebreaks.

In 2005, she was the youngest player on the one female squad at the World Team Chess Championship, in Israel.

She lost her first two games, and, while sulking, got thrashed in the third, despite starting with the white pieces.

(The player with the white pieces always moves first, giving her a slight advantage.)

The experience hardened her mind-set, making her more disciplined and professional. She was eleven.

Hou’s competitors started taking note not just of her performances but of her disposition.

Irina Bulmaga, a contemporary of Hou’s who lives in Romania, said, “My parents and coaches were always telling me, ‘Look how focussed she is during the games.’ ”

Bulmaga, like most young players, struggled to contain her emotions and to concentrate throughout games that could last for five hours and were sometimes played back-to-back.

Hou was stoic.

“My personality wouldn’t push me to an extreme,” she told me.

It is not that she never got emotional or distracted, or didn’t feel pressure.

It is that these experiences were so rare that she can cite each time they happened.

In some respects, China was a good place for a girl to pursue chess.

The International Chess Federation—known by its French acronym, FIDE — has overseen a world championship for women since 1927.

For years, it was dominated by the Soviets.

Then, in 1991, a young Chinese player named Xie Jun qualified for the finals against Maia Chiburdanidze, of Georgia, who had held the title since 1978.

China had never had a championship contender, and Xie’s preparation became a collective project.

The country’s top male players helped coach her.

She won, becoming a source of national pride and establishing a path followed by other women’s chess champions.

For a long time, the top Chinese men and women trained together in Beijing—though that has changed since China got two men into the top twenty.

When Hou was fourteen, she shared third place in the open section of the World Junior Chess Championship, in Turkey, and became the fifteenth-youngest person, to that point, to achieve the rank of Grandmaster.

Later that year, she reached the finals of the Women’s World Chess Championship, and finished second.

She developed a reputation on tour for kindness, and for mental strength.

In 2010, she returned to the finals, and came into her fourth game needing just a draw to win—and lost.

It was one of the rare occasions when a game got to her.

That night, she walked with her mother and her coach around the garden of their hotel until she was calm.

The next day, in tiebreaks, she overwhelmed her opponent and compatriot Ruan Lufei.

At sixteen, Hou was the youngest-ever women’s world champion, and among the world’s best teen-age players.

It was possible to imagine other summits that she might climb.

But Hou had her own ambitions.

The most famous female chess player in the world doesn’t exist.

Beth Harmon, the protagonist of “The Queen’s Gambit,” is a fictional character, invented by the novelist Walter Tevis, in 1983, and lately given new life in a Netflix miniseries.

Harmon conquers the chess world of the nineteen-fifties and sixties and faces only the mildest sexism along the way.

The Hollywood version of her story, though fanciful in many respects, evokes the glamour of Lisa Lane, who became a media sensation in the early sixties but quit the game in 1966, unhappy with the focus on her looks and her love life, and unable to make a comfortable living as a pro.

Lane became the national women’s champion twice, but never beat the best women in the world, let alone the top men.

(Tevis seems also to have been inspired by Bobby Fischer, the eccentric American champion, who was a notorious chauvinist.)

Shortly after Tevis’s novel was published, three women emerged whose stories rivalled Harmon’s.

They were sisters, from Hungary: Susan (née Zsuzsa), the oldest; Sofia (née Zsófia); and Judit, the baby of the family.

Their father, László Polgár, believed that geniuses are made, not born, and set out to prove it.

He kept his daughters on a strict educational schedule that included studying chess for up to six hours a day.

There was also a twenty-minute period dedicated to telling jokes.

In 1950, FIDE had regularized the titles applied to the best chess players, and created one title just for women: Woman International Master.

The bar was set two hundred rating points lower than that for a standard International Master, the title below Grandmaster.

Twenty-six years later, FIDE introduced the title of Woman Grandmaster, and placed that title, too, at a threshold lower than not only Grandmaster but also International Master.

Polgár wanted to insulate his daughters from the damaging effects of low expectations: the sisters sought titles available to men, and, with a few exceptions, they avoided women’s tournaments.

Some of the men they played wouldn’t shake their hands.

One, after losing to Susan, threw pieces in her direction.

In 1986, when Susan was seventeen, she should have qualified for a regional tournament for the World Chess Championship, based on her result at the Hungarian national championship, but the Hungarian federation, angry about her insistence on playing men, refused to send her.

FIDE eventually intervened, officially opening future world championships to female competitors.

Susan became the third woman to earn the title of Grandmaster.

Sofia, who, at the age of fourteen, won a tournament against respected Grandmasters in spectacular fashion, reached the level of International Master.

Judit eclipsed them both.

A diminutive girl with long red hair and arresting gray eyes, Judit, by thirteen, had a shot at Bobby Fischer’s record for youngest-ever Grandmaster, and Sports Illustrated ran a story about her.

“It’s inevitable that nature will work against her, and very soon,” the world champion Garry Kasparov told the magazine.

He added, “She has fantastic chess talent, but she is, after all, a woman.”

Polgár beat Fischer’s record; two years later, she beat Boris Spassky, a former world champion.

The first time she played Kasparov, in 1994, he changed his mind about moving a piece after lifting his hand, breaking the rules; Polgár looked questioningly at the arbiter, who seemed to see the infraction but did nothing.

Kasparov won that match and, for seven years, every other game they played, except for a handful of draws.

Then, in 2002, at a tournament in Moscow, she faced him in a game of rapid chess.

The format gave each player about half an hour to complete their moves.

By then, Polgár was ranked No. 19 in the world.
Kasparov was still No. 1.

Playing with the Black pieces, he deployed a defense that was unusual for him, and Polgár, an aggressive and psychologically astute player, noted that he had opted for a line that his rival Vladimir Kramnik had once used against him.

Seeing what was coming, Polgár seized control.

With her rooks doubled on the seventh rank and hunting the Russian’s exposed king, Kasparov resigned.

Polgár later said that she would have preferred a more brilliant win, strength against strength.

Still, it was a historic occasion: the best woman had defeated the best man.

Kasparov now regrets his chauvinism toward female chess players, and Polgár in particular, he told me.

“There was no epiphany,” he explained in an e-mail.

“I just got older and wiser, and can only apologize that it took as long as it did!”

He has since become an outspoken supporter of women in the game.

(He served as a consultant on “The Queen’s Gambit.”)

Polgár, who retired in 2014, having peaked in the rankings at No. 8, told me that the absence of women at the top has nothing to do with innate ability.

It has to do, she said, with how rarely girls dedicate themselves to chess at the expense of everything else.

For every Polgár sister, of course, there are countless young players who have burned out, pushed too hard by ambitious parents and coaches.

Still, Polgár is firm about what it takes to become a top player—and when one must begin.

“You have to be, really, a kid to get involved,” she said, “so that it goes simply under your skin.”

In 2012, Hou Yifan became the first female player to beat Judit Polgár in a classical game in twenty-two years.

She did it at a tournament in Gibraltar, in a field that included some of the world’s top Grandmasters.

FIDE ranks players using the so-called ELO system: winners take points from losers, and the discrepancy in their ratings coming into a match determines the number of points won and lost.

The ELO system is also used to calculate performance ratings achieved at specific events; Hou’s rating for the tournament in Gibraltar was an astonishing 2872.

She tied for first place with the British Grandmaster Nigel Short, once the No. 3 player in the world.

Short won the title in tiebreaks, but Hou emerged as the star of the tournament and the heir to Polgár.

Suddenly, she carried tremendous symbolic weight every time she sat down at the board.

In some ways, the lack of a female world champion is more troubling to people outside the game than it is to those within it.

In the popular imagination, chess is nearly synonymous with intelligence, but professional players know that the game is a highly specialized activity.

László Polgár’s attitude toward women’s titles and tournaments is not typical; most female players see these tournaments as opportunities for finding camaraderie in a male-dominated arena.

The trans writer Charlotte Clymer, an avid amateur player, described women’s tournaments to me as “a reprieve from worrying about the palpable discomfort that some men have with trans women.” ⚧️

Crucially, the tournaments also provide financial and sponsorship support.

“I think it’s really important for women to have their own competitions, their own titles,” Anna Muzychuk, a Ukrainian Grandmaster, told me.

“It motivates them to work, to become stronger. We can see that it can be our profession.”

Success in women’s and girls’ tournaments, though, can be a “trap,” the chess writer Mig Greengard told me. ⚧️

While Greengard believes that girls-only tournaments are positive social experiences for female players, he worries that the best, like Hou, aren’t routinely challenged in the way that the boys are.

“The way you get better is by having your ass kicked hard and often by better players,” he said.

There is something disquieting about a system that uses the word “woman” to devalue a title—and sexism in the chess world unquestionably persists.

Jennifer Shahade, a Woman Grandmaster, is the director of U.S. Chess Women, an initiative of the United States Chess Federation that organizes and funds programs for girls and women.

(Shahade is also a friend of mine.)

A few years ago, she and her husband created an art installation titled “Not Particularly Beautiful,” an interactive chessboard filled with misogynistic insults that she and other female chess players have received.

Anna Rudolf, an International Master who has become a popular chess streamer on Twitch and a commentator for matches, told me that when she played on a team in Hungary’s top club league the venues often had no women’s bathrooms, or left them locked.

Rudolf was once falsely accused, on no evidence other than her strong performance during a tournament, of hiding a microcomputer in her lip balm.

Some men resent that there are prizes available just to women, and bristle at the idea that women who are rated lower than many men can make a living from chess, while the vast majority of those men can’t.

Shahade told me, “In chats online, people will ask, ‘Why are there Woman Grandmaster titles?’

They know the answer, but they want to bring up female inferiority.

Then someone will bring up the greater-male-variability hypothesis” — the idea, going back to Darwin, that men exhibit more natural variation than women, and so are more likely to appear at the extremes, both positive and negative, of human ability.

“It always goes the same way,” Shahade went on.

“It’s not really done in good faith.”

Hou has nothing but good things to say about her interactions with male opponents, but remarks like those which Shahade described aren’t made only on Twitter.

Nigel Short, a few years after beating Hou in tiebreaks, claimed that men were “hard-wired” to be better than women at the game.

“I don’t have the slightest problem in acknowledging that my wife possesses a much higher degree of emotional intelligence than I do,” he said.

“Likewise, she doesn’t feel embarrassed in asking me to maneuver the car out of our narrow garage. One is not better than the other, we just have different skills.”

When Short’s remarks were condemned, he claimed that he was speaking in terms of general populations, and that the existence of exceptions proved nothing.

“Men and women do have different brains. This is a biological fact,” he responded to one critic on Twitter.

Short is now a vice-president of FIDE.


Offline Battle

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 11167
  • M.A.X. Commander
    • View Profile
« Reply #1122 on: September 12, 2021, 09:42:41 am »
In truth, the science on the subject is far from settled.

There are measurable differences between men’s brains and women’s, on average, but it is not entirely clear what those differences mean, and there is enough variation within the sexes to lessen any explanatory power the differences might have.

Several studies have found disparities in men’s and women’s relative ability to rotate 3-D objects in their minds, which might have a bearing on proficiency at chess—but that skill is teachable, and other studies have shown that experience and training can overcome average differences between the sexes.

What’s more, emphasizing biological differences may, in itself, discourage women from pursuing certain activities, a possibility that has been explored in research on the gender discrepancies in stem fields.

Talking to women in chess, I found it striking how many seem comfortable with the presumption that men have inherent advantages.

Eva Repková, a Woman Grandmaster from Slovakia, is the chair of FIDE’s Commission for Women’s Chess, which promotes gender equality in the game.

Last October, in an interview with a newspaper in India, she was quoted as saying that “it’s more natural for men to pick chess as an interest or women to maybe pick music or arranging flowers,” and that women lacked men’s “physical endurance” and “fighting spirit.”

She insisted to me that her remarks were taken out of context:

“I totally believe in gender equality,” she said.

But Muzychuk, the Ukrainian Grandmaster, made similar points to me about endurance and competitiveness.

Even Hou, in an interview a couple of years ago, brought up endurance as a possible male advantage, though she played it down, and pointed out that girls are discouraged from having high ambitions.

“Most girls are told at an early age that there’s a kind of gender distinction, and they should just try their best in the girls’ section and be happy with that,” she said.

“So, without the motivation to chase higher goals, it’s harder for some girls to improve as fast as boys as they grow up.”

Many girls drop away from the more competitive tracks of the game when they reach high school.

In 2012, after Hou beat Polgár, she stunned the chess world again by announcing that she would be attending Peking University as a full-time student.

Few of the current top players went to college, and some didn’t finish high school.

Polgár told me that, at the time, she thought,

“Of course, she can still play great chess, even improve her chess, possibly. But to get in the top ten in the world, compete with the top male players in the world, who are completely dedicated professionals, I don’t think it’s possible.”

Hou was at peace with her decision.

“I did not want to spend my life wholly on chess,” she told me.

She played wonderfully while in college nonetheless, climbing to her peak rating, 2683—just below the 2700 threshold of the so-called super Grandmasters, players who are generally considered possible contenders for the world championship.

She thrived at school, too, embracing campus life and taking a wide range of courses outside her international-relations major: geology, anatomy, Japanese art and culture.

Hou won the Women’s World Championship again in 2013 and in 2016, as she was finishing her senior year in college.

She had never been particularly outspoken, but, after winning her fourth championship, she declared that she would not play for the title again unless the format was changed to be more like that of the World Chess Championship, which takes place every other year and uses a “challenger” system: candidates compete for the right to face the sitting champion.

The women’s title was being held every year, and alternated between the challenger system and a knockout tournament, in which sixty-four competitors, including the defending champion, were placed in a bracket and faced single elimination.

Knockouts favor upsets and chaos, which lend them a degree of excitement—and may help attract sponsors—but they undermine the format’s ability to determine who is truly the best.

(FIDE, in 2019, adopted a version of the changes that Hou had proposed.)

It wasn’t the only stand she took.

In 2017, in Gibraltar, Hou showed up thirty minutes late to her final round and resigned after five moves.

Afterward, she explained that she was protesting being paired against women in seven of her ten matches.

(Men far outnumbered women at the event.)

Tournament officials said the pairings were an unlikely but statistically possible accident.

Hou’s resignation sparked an unusually heated debate in the typically staid chess world.

When I asked her about the protest, she described it as a thing of the past, and said she’d rather look forward.

Some of the excitement around Hou’s potential grew from her adaptable style, and from the sense that her abilities were instinctive as much as learned.

“This very natural feeling of the game is hard to describe,” Vladimir Kramnik told ESPN the Magazine, in a piece about Hou.

“She doesn’t need to calculate, to come logically to a certain good move—she just feels it. That’s a sign of big talent. I experienced something similar when I played Magnus Carlsen for the first time.”

Carlsen, a thirty-year-old from Norway, has been the top player in the world for nearly all of Hou’s career.

She has never beaten him in an official game, though she has come close.

In the spring of 2017, she faced him at the Grenke Chess Classic, in Baden-Baden, Germany.

She was coming off a spectacular win against the No. 3 player in the world, the American Fabiano Caruana.

Carlsen, unfazed, chose a riskier opening than he normally selects: he was playing for the win.

The game was more or less even through twenty-two moves, then Carlsen carelessly advanced a pawn on the queenside, weakening his center of the board, and Hou found the perfect rook move to punish him.

Suddenly, it was a two-outcome game: Hou would almost certainly either win or draw.

She looked serene; Carlsen did not.

Against someone else, she likely would have kept applying pressure.

Facing Carlsen, she traded pieces to simplify the position, and settled for the draw.

She knew how many players had seen their fortunes improbably reverse against Carlsen, how many had watched him wring water from what looked like stone.

Carlsen learned how to play chess alongside his sister Ellen.

Their father, Henrik, decided to teach them the game when she was six and he was five, but they lost interest after a few months.

He tried again the following year, with similar results.

A few years later, he tried a third time, and then, some months later, a fourth; finally, it stuck.

Both children now liked the game.

Magnus liked it more.

I asked Henrik recently what he would have done if it had been Ellen, not Magnus, who showed great promise.

He said that he hoped he would have encouraged her the same way, but that it wasn’t really the right question.

If anything, Ellen picked up the game more easily.

But Magnus had a single-mindedness that his sister didn’t share.

“At the age of four, he could sit for six hours, building Lego,” Henrik said.

“And when he went to bed his eyes were still swimming with Legos.”

When Magnus and Ellen began playing chess, they made the same amount of progress for a while, and then Ellen turned her mind to other things.

Magnus, bored with his schoolwork, started carrying a chessboard around and reading chess books.

He wanted to go to every tournament he could.

The family spent six months driving around Europe, ferrying Magnus to competitions and sightseeing.

Ellen started playing again, and their younger sister Ingrid began playing, too.

Ellen became a strong club player, with a peak rating of 1939.

“Some of my best friends are girls and boys from the chess world,” she told me.

But she tired of the attention that came with being one of the few women in chess, and one with the last name Carlsen.

It made her anxious, she said, to see the best players in a hall gathered around her board, studying her moves.

She didn’t feel her intelligence was being judged, she noted.

“I don’t think I have ever felt intellectually inferior to any of the guys I played against,” she said, adding,

“I think to most people it is clear that your chess rating is not identical to your intellectual abilities.”

Her brother became a Grandmaster at thirteen, and world champion a decade later.

Ellen became a doctor.

In 2017, after Hou beat Caruana and drew Carlsen, the chess world began buzzing again about her prospects.

It had been an up-and-down year.

There was the match in Gibraltar that she’d thrown in protest; she’d also had a dismal showing at a tournament in Geneva.

In August, she won the Biel International Chess Festival, in Switzerland, with a performance rating of 2810.

She said that it “showed I could compete at the top.”

But she had applied for and was accepted into a master’s program at the University of Chicago.

She’d deferred the admission and, instead, while in Geneva, she’d interviewed for the Rhodes Scholarship.

In December, she announced that she was headed to Oxford.

She got less pushback for this decision, she told me, than she had for going to college.

I’ve spoken to a number of people who are convinced that Hou would have risen higher if she’d made the game her singular focus.

“I believe she could have been top twenty,” Irina Bulmaga told me.

Bulmaga admitted that a part of her was disappointed that Hou hadn’t done so.

“The more you see, the more you believe maybe you could achieve it, too,” she said.

Hou, though, speaks without regrets.

Enkhtuul Altan-Ulzii, a Woman Grandmaster from Mongolia who is one of Hou’s closest friends, told me,

“She is not actually results oriented. She plays for fun and enjoyment.”

Hou remained a popular invite for tournaments, including those featuring the world’s top players.

Quiet, fashionably dressed, sometimes with a pot of tea nearby, she was often the only woman in the room.

Last year, during the pandemic, Carlsen organized an online chess tour, with five events and a million dollars in total prize money.

(He won.)

Now called the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour, it expanded in 2021, this time with an accompanying challengers’ competition, designed to encourage gender equality.

The challengers include ten of the top girls and women under the age of twenty-four, and ten of their male counterparts.

They are divided into two mixed-gender teams, one captained by Vladimir Kramnik and the other by Judit Polgár.

Hou is a coach for Kramnik’s team.

The point, Polgár told me, isn’t to show that the girls can compete with the boys—for one thing, the ratings of the boys, almost to a person, are higher, and the standings so far have reflected that.

“They are not worse than boys because they are girls,” Polgár said.

“They are worse because they are not playing the same amount of time, with the same focus and dedication.”

One of the participants is Carissa Yip, who, at ten, became the youngest girl to defeat a Grandmaster, and now, at seventeen, is the highest-rated American woman.

She loves chess—“every single game is different,” she told me, like “art”—but she has not made every decision in her life with an eye toward her chess career.

A few years ago, when choosing between the public high school near her home, in Andover, Massachusetts, or the prestigious prep school in town, Phillips Academy, which strictly limits the number of classes that students can miss, she chose Phillips Academy, even though it would complicate her participation in chess tournaments.

“Obviously, it wasn’t great for my chess life,” she told me.

“But I wouldn’t change what I did.”

Hou has been thinking lately about the impact that chess has had on her life—the chances it gave her to travel and to develop her mind.

At Shenzhen University, along with helping with the school’s chess team, she is looking for other ways to use the game.

She has begun commentating at tournaments, and is advising on a Chinese translation of “The Queen’s Gambit.”

There is something to be said for using chess to enrich one’s life instead of using one’s life to master chess.

Jennifer Shahade told me, “I think there’s too much emphasis on being the highest rank.”

Women have begun to thrive in other parts of the chess world, such as online streaming, which exploded in popularity on Twitch and YouTube during the pandemic.

Two charismatic sisters from Canada, Alexandra and Andrea Botez, have nearly a million followers on the former; Alexandra is outside the top twenty-five thousand in the fide rankings, but in an interview with CNBC she estimated that she will make “at least mid six figures” through streaming and sponsorships this year.

Shahade said that, in the past couple of years, more girls are playing in schools and local clubs.

The U.S. Chess Women initiative has a robust—and growing—girls’ club program on Zoom.

The fide Commission for Women’s Chess, led by Repková, is trying to expand the number of female arbiters and tournament officials in addition to female players.

Addressing the gender disparity at the top “comes from addressing the disparity at the bottom, at the base of the pyramid,” Kasparov told me.

“You can have a similar conversation about why there aren’t more Grandmasters from different parts of the world, or of different races or cultures. Talent is equally distributed, but opportunity is not.”

In June, Hou competed in her first major tournament of 2021, the Women’s Speed Chess Championship.

She hadn’t been training, she said; she made a few uncharacteristic blunders but won the tournament anyway.

Simultaneously, she became the first woman to compete in the Meltwater tour.

In the third game of the second round, she faced Carlsen.

The match was streamed on the Web site Chess24, and Carlsen, in a white shirt emblazoned with the logos of various sponsors, looked sharp, his thick caramel hair swept upward.
Hou leaned in as she concentrated, such that her head was often cut off at the chin, and the lighting appeared to blur her face.

Carlsen played opening moves that were clearly aimed at stopping Hou from taking the initiative.

He guided the match into its endgame, keeping the upper hand.

He got his pieces onto active squares, and Hou’s light-squared bishop became stuck in a corner.

Carlsen’s passed pawn moved up the board, and Hou knew that the game was lost.

She tilted her head to rest it on her hand.

It was an uneven tournament for Hou.

She suffered a series of losses against the weaker part of the field, but, against Wesley So, Anish Giri, Levon Aronian, and Ding Liren—four of the best players in the world—she managed draws.

Against Ding, her countryman and the world’s third-ranked classical player, she clamped down in a so-called hedgehog structure, the black pawns forming a row of tight little spikes, and waited for her chance to counter.

When it came, she took control, until the position simplified into a draw.

It was the kind of performance that inspires some chess fans to think about what might have been.

But that’s not what’s on Hou’s mind.

“I’m sure that my future life will have a connection with chess, maybe a deep connection,” she said.

“This connection is there all the time.”

She has been working with a group of psychologists and statisticians on a paper exploring why there are so few women in chess at all levels.

The insights she contributes are gleaned from her own career.

Whether or not there is an “innate difference” between men and women, she said, what interests her is the way “society shapes you.”


Offline Battle

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 11167
  • M.A.X. Commander
    • View Profile
« Reply #1123 on: September 12, 2021, 10:11:07 am »
Sunday, 12th  September  Two Thousand & Twenty One
Twitch Sues 2 Trolls for Repeatedly Flooding Chats with Racist, Homophobic Language
by J.L. Cook

Twitch has filed a legal complaint against two users for flooding the chats of Black, queer and disabled streamers with racist, sexist and homophobic language–a phenomenon on the streaming site better known as “hate raids.”

The Washington Post reports that the two users, referred to in the suit by their handles “CruzzControl” and “CreatineOverdose,” are accused of repeatedly evading bans on Twitch by creating new accounts and “seriously harmed and will continue to harm the Twitch community.”

This lawsuit, filed Thursday, comes after marginalized streamers participated in a one-day boycott of the platform to draw attention to the rampant issue of hate raids and to push Twitch to take more action against those behind them.

From the Post:

According to the complaint, CruzzControl and CreatineOverdose, whose real names remain unknown, are based in the Netherlands and Austria respectively. The suit alleges that CruzzControl has explicitly admitted to using bots for the purpose of hate raids. It also says that on August 15th, CreatineOverdose allegedly “used their bot software to demonstrate how it could be used to spam Twitch channels with racial slurs, graphic descriptions of violence against minorities, and claims that the hate raiders are the ‘K K K.’”

Twitch claims in the suit that CreatineOverdose and CruzzControl continue to operate on Twitch under a variety of aliases and avoid detection by “continually altering their self-described ‘hate raid code.’”

The streaming platform provided a statement to the Post that said, in part, that this complaint is only one step of its long-term plan to address hate raids.

Organizers of the one-day boycott previously said that they took a day away from streaming on Twitch not because they wanted to impact the site’s finances, but more because they wanted to see more tangible action against hate raiders.

Here’s more from Twitch’s statement on the lawsuit it provided to the Post:

“Hate and harassment have no place on Twitch, and we know we have a lot more work to do — but we hope that these combined actions will help reduce the immediate and unacceptable harm that targeted attacks have been inflicting on our community.”


9/12/21 12:20pm

Glad to see the one-day boycott seems to have spurred Twitch into some sort of action, but they definitely to moderate their platform. They likely rely on the same “engagement” algorithms that every single other social media platform relies on, where they’re not willing to take a stand against racism, sexism or hatred, because it gets people commenting, and hate engagement is just as good as happy engagement to their metrics.

sigmapapi...(No me importa!)
9/12/21 5:16pm

Why are they referred to by their Twitch handles.  f*ck that real names for real life consequences.

9/12/21 2:00pm

The biggest issue is that there’s no real threat to Twitch’s dominance. YouTube kinda tries every now and then, but it takes the threat of being replaced (sound familiar?) to get these platforms motivated and that’s only if they care. Think about how Vine, Snapchat, and other platforms went away as brands. They tried to adapt and straighten up towards the end. Didn't matter. But Twitch has that Amazon money to buy any competition that gets close.

Get The Funk Out
9/12/21 2:07pm

I hope they out those two bot-creating racists, the public deserves to know who they are. Cowards hiding behind bots just like their kind on the other platforms. I’m really quite sick of White people’s crap.

Having been to Austria and the Netherlands, I’m not surprised the users are in those countries. White Europeans are even more racist than the American variety of White supremacists.

Non Sleeping Giant
9/12/21 11:29pm

Hobby racism: when actual hate is too much effort

9/13/21 10:19am

If it were possible to just find them, their real names would already be public knowledge. If they’re not, who are they going to subpoena to get their real names? I don’t know. Maybe they’re able to tell which internet service provider in those countries the connections came from, and maybe those ISPs, based on date, time, etc., could reverse engineer who the accounts and the real people are who have retained their services as an ISP and thus who actually did the attacks. Failing that, without their real names, this complaint is almost purely performative. They could even - purely theoretically as I highly doubt any Court would permit it - grant them permission to serve the complaint via publication throughout those two countries based on these nicknames alone. However, even if they could serve them that way and thus could get a default entered against those nicknames and thus could get a default judgment against those nicknames, how are they supposed to actually collect on that judgment against the real people attached to those nicknames?

Maybe the answer is at national government level. Perhaps no country should permit full anonymity on the internet. Like perhaps anonymity at the Twitter/Twitch level for instance, but no anonymity allowed at the ISP level. Any country that doesn’t enforce such a law and/or provide a means to target the assets of the person responsible can be subject to liability - as a nation - for the damages awarded for whatever violation occurred. This would require a near universal treaty as well and would no doubt have tons of loopholes to attract sufficient support from all countries, but it would at least be something. It also makes sense as the internet really grants people what amounts to an ephemeral way to enter other countries. Just an interesting idea with lots of complications (including technical ones I would know nothing about).

TPJohnson - There are some who call me...
9/12/21 12:30pm

Wow. So does that mean that all of the users could be bots? And maybe the content could be made by bots? Then it could just be bots watching bots. And we could all go back to being people again.


9/12/21 10:44pm

You jest, but there is a conspiracy theory called “dead internet” or something like that, that posits that everyone on the internet is a bot and that bots are just making content for bits.

To me, that veers too closely to the “NPC” conspiracy theory (where people start thinking that the random people they see aren’t ‘real people’ but NPCs or non-playable characters, generated to fill up the world)

Both of them hint at a degree of mental instability when people start disregarding everyone they dislike as not “real people.”

That said, there are a TON of bots on the internet and I could easily believe 1/3rd to 1/2 of twitter accounts are bots. There’s a lot of automated content on Twitter, like bots that tweet earthquakes, weather, spam, etc.

I don’t use Twitch so I have no idea what’s going on there.

« Last Edit: September 14, 2021, 06:22:46 am by Battle »

Offline Battle

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 11167
  • M.A.X. Commander
    • View Profile
« Reply #1124 on: September 12, 2021, 08:16:06 pm »
Sunday, 12th September   Two Thousand & Twenty One
Apple Wins!
by Ian Sherr, Shara Tibken, Lisa Eadicicco & Carrie Mihalcik

Apple's iPhone and App Store won a mixed victory in court Friday, when a federal judge mostly sided with the iPhone maker against Fortnite maker Epic Games in one of the tech industry's biggest lawsuits.

But the judge also said that developers must be allowed to inform users of alternative ways to pay within apps, striking down a key part of Apple's App Store rules.

The question at the heart of Epic's lawsuit against Apple was how much control a tech company is allowed to exert over its products.

Apple refused to allow Epic to open its own competing app store for iPhones or iPads and wouldn't allow Epic to collect payments directly from people for certain features such as a new look for their character.

Epic said Apple's obstinance constituted a monopoly and asked the court to strip away some of Apple's power over the iPhone.

In her decision, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of the US District Court for the Northern District of California said she agreed with Apple's claim that Epic had violated its developer agreements, and awarded damages equal to 30% of the $12 million Epic collected from iOS users between August and October 2020, plus 30% of any such revenue Epic's collected since then.

Rogers also said Apple's rules against allowing developers to direct users to other payment systems was anti-competitive, and issued an injunction to allow developers to do so in their apps.

"Once acceptable, Apple's commission rate is now questioned by some consumers and some developers, like Epic Games, as being overly burdensome and violative of competition laws.

Indeed, two related lawsuits were already pending before the Court well before the commencement of this action," she wrote as part of her ruling Friday.

"The Court is not persuaded by Epic Games' broad-brush argument that it should not be bound by certain portions of the agreement."

Rogers presided over and decided the case, rather than a jury doing so.

Her ruling goes into effect in 90 days.

After the announcement from the court, Epic pushed back.

"Today's ruling isn't a win for developers or for consumers," Epic CEO Tim Sweeney wrote in a tweet shortly after the ruling.

Apple applauded the judge's decision, adding in a statement that it "faces rigorous competition in every segment in which we do business."

"We remain committed to ensuring the App Store is a safe and trusted marketplace that supports a thriving developer community and more than 2.1 million U.S. jobs, and where the rules apply equally to everyone," the company added.

Though the decision is almost certain to be appealed, it marks a critical first sign of how the legal world is considering the larger questions of antitrust in the modern age.

At first glance, this court battle appears to be a petty argument over who makes how much money when we buy things on our phones.

But the outcome could upend the way Apple does business and change the way we get and pay for apps on our devices.

Apple isn't the only company that Epic is fighting with over these issues.

The Fortnite game maker also sued Google last year in a similar disagreement over the handling of payments.

Lawmakers and regulators have joined in too, pushing Apple to justify its up to 30% commission on sales made through its App Store and its tight control over its platform, while probing Google's behavior as well.

Apple and Google have defended their app stores and payment policies, saying their developer guidelines are designed to protect users and to ensure equal treatment of app makers, who've made millions of apps for both platforms combined.

Apple in particular touted its "walled garden" approach -- in which it has approved every app offered through its App Store since it opened in 2008 -- as a feature of its devices, promising that users can trust any app they download because it's been vetted. 

"For Big Tech, there's a sigh of relief because the walls of their gardens will not come tumbling down today, even if this ruling tries to put some cracks in it," said Paul Swanson, a lawyer at Holland & Hart who specializes in antitrust issues.

"The main thrust of the Court's ruling is that 'success is not illegal.'"

But it may not stay that way. Paul Gallant, an analyst at Cowen, said the ruling may spur lawmakers in Washington to pass legislation that would force app stores to change.

"The core of today's ruling is that Apple is not in violation of federal antitrust law," he wrote in a note to investors Friday.

"That's been Democrats' argument -- that new antitrust laws are needed to deal with tech platforms' business models"

While Epic largely lost its case against Apple, Rogers said it didn't necessarily have to.

Throughout her ruling, the judge took moments to underscore how she was "not persuaded" by Epic's "broad-brush" arguments.

"While the Court has found that evidence suggests Apple's 30% rate of commission appears inflated, and is potentially anticompetitive, Epic Games did not challenge the rate," she wrote.

"Rather, Epic Games challenged the imposition of any commission whatsoever."

She hinted at her concerns during court proceedings earlier this year as well, telling lawyers she wanted to hear more argument about anti-steering provisions.

In her ruling, Rogers repeatedly said she's worried about Apple's business practices.

"Ultimately, Epic Games overreached. As a consequence, the trial record was not as fulsome with respect to antitrust conduct in the relevant market as it could have been," Rogers wrote.

"Epic Games failed in its burden to demonstrate Apple is an illegal monopolist."