Adam Thornton has published StiffyMakane.com, a simple website tracking the checkered past of one of modern IF’s most resolutely recurring characters.
Mr. Makane originated from the turgid imagination of an adolescent Mark Ryan in 1997. It was not a very good game — for starters, it famously lets the title character drop his own genitals on the floor and walk away — but it somehow struck a chord with the burgeoning IF community. Stiffy has since then appeared in several text-adventure sex comedies from multiple authors, culminating this year in both Thornton’s own Classical-era epic Mentula Macanus: Apocolocyntosis (praised by Emily Short as a rival to Graham Nelson’s genre-defining Curses), and Sam Kabo Ashwell’s The Cavity of Time, a choose-your-own-adventure work authored in Undum.
The original games aren’t necessarily worth your time to play through (the added blunt humor of the “MSTified” take on Ryan’s original work does little to improve the whole), but I still appreciate Adam’s little shrine to this truly unlikely serial protagonist.
Alex Feinman writes a very insightful analysis on the cultural assumptions and pressures that caused the “Straight Male Gamer” to feel threatened when his male player-character in Dragon Age received come-ons from other men. Even though the game prominently offers the choice to turn these offers down, Alex argues, that player’s culture lacks adequate training — especially for boys — on gracefully rejecting benign-but-unwanted advances.
So now that poor, helpless gamer is stuck in quite a conundrum. He doesn’t want to fuck this man. But he doesn’t know how to say no in this situation. He doesn’t even know that he doesn’t know—he just knows that he feels trapped. He can’t even see the problem. So it must be the fault of the rejected—that’s the pattern he knows.
This pattern is writ large in our society. “You can’t let a woman ask a man to dance! What if he doesn’t want to?” We mostly learned that one already. “You can’t have gays in the military—what if one of them comes on to a Marine?” Gee, I guess then the Marine has to learn how to say no, in a way that doesn’t harm unit cohesion. “You can’t have interracial marriages—it makes me feel icky. What if a black woman asked me out?” Well, maybe you should date her. Or maybe you should say no in a manner that doesn’t upset her. “You can’t let fat people think they’re sexual human beings who deserve to live! What if—”
Bonus reading: via Twitter, Adam Cadre points out a relevant excerpt from the webcomic Bad Machinery.