Month: February 2021

EP13: Boss Battles

EP13: Boss Battles

The video game industry is a behemoth. It shapes our culture, it shapes our discourse, and it’s on its way to becoming something like a $200 billion industry. But what is it like for the people who make the games we enjoy? Unfortunately, many developers deal with long hours, precarious contracts, hostility, and harassment. There’s pushback, however, from workers who expect and demand better — and who are organizing to get just that. On this episode, we set out on a quest to level-up our knowledge of the video game industry.

  • First, (@12:15) Carolyn Jong is a freelance video game designer and a founding member of the Montreal chapter of Game Workers Unite — a worker-run, pro-labour industry group. She discusses “crunch,” work weeks of 50 hours that can creep up to 80, even 100 hours as the rush to release a title intensifies. She also talks about the pushback: the struggle for workers’ rights.
  • Then, (@31:41) Johanna Weststar is an associate professor at the University of Western Ontario. She runs large-scale international surveys with game developers, tracking crunch since 2014. She goes beyond the culture of the industry to reveal the heart of the matter: how games are financed and developed from the top down.

——————-FURTHER READING & LISTENING——————-

——————-SUPPORT THE SHOW——————-

We need your support. If you like what you hear, chip in. You can find us on patreon.com/dartsandletters. Patreon subscribers — such as Camille, Robert, and Adam — usually get the episode a day early, and sometimes will also receive bonus content.

Don’t have the money to chip in this week? Not to fear, you can help in other ways. For one: subscribe, rate, and review our podcast. It helps other people find our work.

—————————-CONTACT US————————-

To stay up to date, follow us on Twitter and Facebook. If you’d like to write to us, email darts@citedmedia.ca or tweet Gordon directly.

—————————-CREDITS—————————-

Darts and Letters’ is hosted and edited by Gordon Katic. Our lead producer is Jay Cockburn, and our chase producer is Marc Apollonio. We had research and support from Addye Susnick and David Moscrop. Our theme song was created by Mike Barber. Our graphic design was created by Dakota Koop.

This episode received support by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research, which provided us a research grant to look at the concept of “public intellectualism.” Professor Allen Sens at the University of British Columbia is the lead academic advisor. It was also part of a wider project looking at the politics of video games, housed at UBC and also advised by Lennart E. Nacke at the University of Waterloo.

Darts and Letters is produced in Toronto, which is on the traditional land of Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat Peoples. It is also produced in Vancouver, BC, which is on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.

EP12: Left Jab (w/ Garth Mullins of CRACKDOWN)

EP12: Left Jab (w/ Garth Mullins of CRACKDOWN)

 

As the pandemic drifts into its one-year anniversary, all eyes are on the end of the thing. Whenever that may be. Discovering, producing, and shipping vaccines is the big plank in the world’s plan to move beyond the coronavirus, but there’s more to it than that. We live in an era of distrust — of corporations, of governments, of experts, of science itself. We also live in an era of inequality. So, getting the vaccines out the door is one thing. Getting people to take them, including in communities that have traditionally been marginalized, is another.

But often these stories are told in a particular kind of way: distrustful people are dummies, and they simply have to be educated. If that doesn’t work, disciplined. We think that’s not going to work. Plus, it’s mostly punching down. Instead, Darts and Letters punches up. This episode looks at government miscommunication, political hypocrisy, journalistic obsequiousness, and industry profiteering. When you understand all that, distrust makes a lot more sense. But we still need that vaccine. So what to do about it?

  • First, (@14:24) Garth Mullins is the host of Crackdown, a podcast about the drug war covered by drug users (co-owned and produced by Cited Media, the parent company of Darts and Letters). He warns that there’s no real, clear vaccine plan that can  build trust  in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side and with other marginalized communities. But Crackdown has some ideas. .
  • Then, (@38:32) Srinivas Murthy is a clinician with British Columbia’s Children’s Hospital in Vancouver and Health Research Foundation of Innovative Medicines Canada Chair in Pandemic Preparedness Research. He takes us into the world of vaccine production and procurement, the public funding and private profit, and the inequities that this produces time and time again.
  • Finally, (@55:22) Linsey McGoey is Professor of Sociology at the University of Essex and a critic of Big Philanthropy. She argues that free gifts come at a cost — often a high cost. While the Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation are reaping accolades for funding vaccine research, there’s far more to the matter than what you read in the headlines.

——————-FURTHER READING & LISTENING——————-

——————-SUPPORT THE SHOW——————-

We need your support. If you like what you hear, chip in. You can find us on patreon.com/dartsandletters. Patreon subscribers — such as Janice, Hart, and Sean — usually get the episode a day early, and sometimes will also receive bonus content.

Don’t have the money to chip in this week? Not to fear, you can help in other ways. For one: subscribe, rate, and review our podcast. It helps other people find our work.

—————————-CONTACT US————————-

To stay up to date, follow us on Twitter and Facebook. If you’d like to write to us, email darts@citedmedia.ca or tweet Gordon directly.

—————————-CREDITS—————————-

Darts and Letters’ is hosted and edited by Gordon Katic. Our lead producer is Jay Cockburn, and our chase producer is Marc Apollonio. We had research and support from Addye Susnick, Polly Leger, and David Moscrop. We also had consulting from Professors Joel Lexchin and Sergio Sismundo. Our theme song was created by Mike Barber. Our graphic design was created by Dakota Koop.

This episode received support by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research, which provided us a research grant to look at the concept of “public intellectualism.” Professor Allen Sens at the University of British Columbia is the lead academic advisor. It was also part of a wider project, with Cited Podcast, looking at the politics of pharmaceutical research and policy. Professors Joel Lexchin and Sergio Sismundo are the academic advisors on that project.

Darts and Letters is produced in Toronto, which is on the traditional land of Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat Peoples. It is also produced in Vancouver, BC, which is on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.

EP11: Gaming the Stock Market (w/ Matt Christman of Chapo Trap House)

EP11: Gaming the Stock Market (w/ Matt Christman of Chapo Trap House)

For a moment, all the eyes of the world were on GameStop. It’s unexpected, meteoric rise. It’s inevitable fall. The saga became a rorschach test for our politics. Was it a revolutionary moment, the many pushing back against the few? Was it an old school pump and dump, just folks out to make some money? And who was against whom, exactly? 

Well, it was…a spectacle. That’s for sure. We dive into the wild world of stocks, the bubbles of present and the past, and the spectacularized social media environment that is distorting our very understanding of true politics. Abandon all hope, ye who enter. 

  • First, (@8:28) Karim Hummos is a high school senior in Chicago, Illinois. While he waits for college application decisions, he spends his time on r/WallStreetBetsand making a pretty penny too. He takes us into the world of the stock (or stonk) trading subreddit, including “loss porn” and more. 
  • Then, (@27:42) the “Cushbomb” himself. Matt Christman, is the co-host of the podcast Chapo Trap House, and he offers up a real poster’s lament. He argues that the GameStop phenomenon is a perfect example of just how unreal our politics has become. We post and we post, but will it ever change anything? 
  • Finally, (@41:34) James K. Galbraith is a titan of left-wing economics and Professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. He co-signs the argument that the stock market is all about spectacle– it always has been But our political leaders have decided to embrace the show. They’ve made the stock market so integral, but it didn’t have to be this way. 

——————-FURTHER READING & LISTENING——————-

——————-CORRECTIONS——————-

In an earlier version of this episode, Gordon says that Wall Street ‘put the squeeze on Robinhood, and Robinhood obliged.’ He was referring to widespread speculation about whether particular hedge funds influenced the company’s decisions. Robinhood was asked to testify before Congress about such questions. But they denied the accusations. Upon reflection, we really don’t have evidence to support our strong claim–so we retracted it, and re-uploaded a version of the podcast without that line.

Still, there are investigations about their revenue model, and a potential conflict of interest here between their funders and the retail investors they are supposedly serving. This deserves greater scrutiny.

——————-SUPPORT THE SHOW——————-

We need your support. If you like what you hear, chip in. You can find us on patreon.com/dartsandletters. Patreon subscribers usually get the episode a day early, and sometimes will also receive bonus content.

Don’t have the money to chip in this week? Not to fear, you can help in other ways. For one: subscribe, rate, and review our podcast. It helps other people find our work

—————————-CONTACT US————————-

To stay up to date, follow us on Twitter and Facebook. If you’d like to write to us, email darts@citedmedia.ca or tweet Gordon directly.

—————————-CREDITS—————————-

Darts and Letters’ lead producer is Jay Cockburn, and our chase producer is Marc Apollonio. With research and support from Addye Susnick and David Moscrop.

Our theme song was created by Mike Barber, and our graphic design was created by Dakota Koop.

This episode received support by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research, which provided us a research grant to look at the concept of “public intellectualism.” Professor Allen Sens at the University of British Columbia is the lead academic advisor. 

Darts and Letters is produced in Toronto, which is on the traditional land of Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat Peoples. It is also produced in Vancouver, BC, which is on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.

EP10: Whose Mine Is It Anyway?

EP10: Whose Mine Is It Anyway?

Canada likes to trade on the “middle power” trope. Tucked away among the many, snuggled up with peer states just outside the focus given to global hegemons, the country goes about its business, friendly and mild. Nothing to see here. 

But behind the facade is a past and present of neocolonial plundering. Canada is a mining powerhouse, off on extractive misadventures in the Global South. It’s also a notable contributor to the global arms trade, including a weapons deal that helps fuel the devastating Saudi-led war in Yemen.

We look at Canada’s role in ripping up the world and selling it military weapons. We also look back a 20th century movement that might have put a stop to all this.

  • First, (@9:01), Rachel Small is an anti-war activist and organizer with the Canadian Chapter of World BEYOND War. On January 25th, she joined others in a protest aimed at disrupting the shipment of light armoured vehicles (LAVs)  also known as, well, tanks destined for the Middle East. She breaks down Canada’s arm sales to Saudi Arabia and discusses direct action efforts against the country’s arms traders.
  • Then, (@21:05) Todd Gordon is assistant professor of Law and Society at Laurier University and co-author of Blood of Extraction: Canadian Imperialism in Latin America. He busts the myth of Canada as a weak, subordinate power held down by bigger foreign states and runs down the country’s history of exploitative extractive projects in the Global South, especially in Latin America.
  • Finally (@39:17) Vincent Bevins is a journalist and author of the extraordinary book The Jakarta Method, detailing the US Cold War policy of backing brutally repressive military regimes. He reminds us that the imperialism and colonialism of this century and the last were not inevitable. The Third World Movement was premised on the idea that non-Western and non-Soviet states would chart their own path and take their place alongside the “first” and “second” world countries in a post-colonial world. Washington, however, had other ideas.  

——————-FURTHER READING & LISTENING——————-

——————-SUPPORT THE SHOW——————-

We need your support. If you like what you hear, chip in. You can find us on patreon.com/dartsandletters. Patreon subscribers usually get the episode a day early, and sometimes will also receive bonus content.

Don’t have the money to chip in this week? Not to fear, you can help in other ways. For one: subscribe, rate, and review our podcast. It helps other people find our work

—————————-CONTACT US————————-

To stay up to date, follow us on Twitter and Facebook. If you’d like to write to us, email darts@citedmedia.ca or tweet Gordon directly.

—————————-CREDITS—————————-

Darts and Letters’ lead producer is Jay Cockburn, and our chase producer is Marc Apollonio. With research and support from Addye Susnick, Polly Leger, and David Moscrop.

Our theme song and outro was created by Mike Barber, and our graphic design was created by Dakota Koop.

This episode received support by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research, which provided us a research grant to look at the concept of “public intellectualism.” Professor Allen Sens at the University of British Columbia is the lead academic advisor. 

Darts and Letters is produced in Toronto, which is on the traditional land of Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat Peoples. It is also produced in Vancouver, BC, which is on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.