Grindr wants people to be Kindr

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Grindr, a premiere sex and dating app for queer people (though men comprise the platform’s predominant user base), has launched what appears to be a new initiative, according to a slightly cryptic post to the brand’s official Instagram account. The post features audio messages of intertwining various voices. One such message is someone saying, “When [someone] says to me that I don’t date black people… that can be referred to as sexual racism.” There’s a logo reading “Kindr,” using Grindr’s logo.

*sound on* 🔊 It’s time to play nice. Dropping September 2018.

A post shared by Grindr (@grindr) on

Grindr has faced criticism from users since its inception from those who have been subjected to types of mistreatment — including, in some cases,violent anti-gay hate crimes — based on the notions of individually defined sexual preferences, usually by cisgender men.

Some users have sworn off the app completely due to experiencing discrimination, and, as mentioned, Grindr is no stranger to criticism, or even lawsuits, around what constitutes acceptable free speech, and best internal practices for monitoring forms of hate speech without censoring sexual preference.

It’s tricky, and only time will tell how this all shakes out, but if Grindr pulls off its Kindr campaign with tangible results, it may actually be something of a revolution in the queer community. This also comes on the heels of trans model and activist Munroe Bergdorf’s announcement of her involvement with Grindr, after publicly acknowledging the platform’s need to call out racists and transphobic users.

(German users might face some uncomfortable questions once people see an app called Kindr on their phones though…)

The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit

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Captain Spirit stars a young boy named Chris who lives in a small house with his dad. For reasons I won’t spoil, the two live alone; Chris’ mom is out of the picture, and his father is struggling to deal with that. He’s an alcoholic, depressed former basketball star who — at least initially — puts on a good front as a kind, caring parent. But it’s not long before the signs of neglect show.

The game plays out as something of an interactive drama. If you played any of Life is Strange before, or similar series like those from Telltale Games, you’ll feel right at home. Much of the experience is simply walking around and looking at objects and listening to Chris talk about them. There’s also lots of dialogue and player-driven choices. For example, when Chris’ dad has a few too many, you can choose whether to tell him he’s had too much or simply change the subject.

Chris deals with things the way many kids do: with his imagination. The titular Captain Spirit is a superhero Chris created, and when he puts on a Captain Spirit costume, Chris becomes braver and has superpowers that exist only in his mind.

Much of what you’re actually doing in Captain Spirit is mundane household chores. While Chris’ dad becomes progressively inebriated, his son takes out the recycling full of old beer cans, fixes the water heater so he can wash the dishes, and makes his dad something to eat. But these seemingly boring activities are imbued with childhood whimsy. Chris doesn’t microwave some macaroni and cheese, he iridates it using his superpowers. He doesn’t fix the water heater, he has a heart-pounding battle with an evil villain called the Water Eater.

These moments are charming, and they really drive home what a sweet kid Chris is. He’s in a bad situation, but he does his best and tries to have some fun along the way. But there’s a sense of impending dread that builds over the course of the episode, which lasts around an hour. Early on, Chris’ dad promises that the two will go out and buy a real pine Christmas tree as soon as he finishes watching the basketball game. He then proceeds to grab a bottle of whiskey to wash down his beer.

The climax of Captain Spirit isn’t especially surprising — I could feel it coming early on — but I still dreaded it the entire time I played. I found myself stalling for time. I’d check every item in Chris’ treehouse to see if they were significant, and if there was a chore to do around the house, I did it. At one point, I spent 10 minutes laying on a bed listening to Chris’ mom’s old records. This triggered some wistful reminiscing from his dad, and gave me some really great insight into the family and their situation. This also meant that when the big moment did finally hit, it hit especially hard.

The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is available for free on PS4, Xbox One, and PC

How Teens use Grindr

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Anyone who’s used Grindr knows that it can be a better way to make friends than lovers. Sometimes hookups become friendships, once the masc4masc posturing is over and you realise a conversation might be more successful than fumbling around in the dark. Now, happily, a new study has confirmed what we already knew to be true.

The Journal of Adolescent Health took a survey of 200 sexually active teenage boys from ages 14 to 17, and found that more than 50% of them said they used Grindr and other hookup apps for more than just sex. This is despite the apps being 18+, which as we know, has never stopped anyone from looking at porn.

The study’s been seized upon as showing that Grindr and its ilk provide a sense of community for often closeted teens. “We found that teens in this study were super excited that somebody was paying attention with what was going on in their lives, and how these apps played a role in their sexual development and coming-out process,” Dr. Kathryn Macapagal told the Chicago Tribune when asked about the survey. “I was surprised we didn’t know this information when we started the study, but a lot of folks don’t do research on people under the age of 18, especially on LGBT teens under the age of 18, for a variety of reasons.”

While those polled reported greater risk of unprotected sex, they also had greater odds of getting tested for HIV and more engagement with sexual health services. “The sooner we understand the role these apps play in the lives of gay and bisexual teen guys, the sooner we will be able to tailor sex education and HIV prevention efforts for this population and help them live healthier lives” added Dr. Macapagal.

Grindr, obviously, released a predictably lame statement that will do nothing either to stem the tide of sexually active teens using dating apps, or reassure adults who worry about them. “Grindr does not condone illegal or improper behaviour and we are troubled that an underage person may have been using our app in violation of our terms of service. Grindr services are only available for adults.”

The sooner e know more about adolescent sexuality, the more we can do to help at risk teens find the safe spaces and access to the community they so obviously need and want.

Morning Glory Tracker

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Need to document your morning erection? Now there’s an app for that! Roman, the men’s sexual health app that launched last year, wants guys to start logging their “morning wood” as soon as they wake up.

Once a day, when you first open the aptly named “Morning Glory” app, it will prompt you to answer the simple yes or no question: “Did you wake up with morning wood?” The fun begins from there.

Depending on your answer, the app will take you to a GIF-filled screen. According to Roman, logging three morning erections in a row unlocks a “confetti party” to celebrate your streak success. But behind the the silliness is a serious concept: tracking your sexual health.

“One of the best indicators of a guy’s overall health is whether or not he wakes up with an erection,” a company spokesperson tells Inverse. “If you wake up with morning wood it means your blood flow & hormones are working properly, and that you’re at a lower risk for things like diabetes, heart diseases, or other chronic diseases.”

 For example: if you log “no erection” for three consecutive days, the app will suggest you chat with a physician and offers a free phone consultation with Roman’s Clinical Director. Responses will also be automatically logged in a calendar that displays your monthly history of “morning wood” and “boner streaks” to help generate monthly data.
 

Despite the fun marketing, the Morning Glory app is being backed by Dr. Steven Lamm, the Medical Director at the NYU Center for Men’s Health, who explains the important signals men’s bodies send via erections.

“If you’re experiencing a diminished erection, it’s often the first sign of a far more serious condition that could be brewing,” Roman says in the app’s preview. “Think of ED as the man’s equivalent to a car’s check engine light.”

Coming Out On Top

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Coming Out On Top is a lighthearted visual novel about exploring queer sexuality as a young adult. It’s also a game where you can bang a goldfish.

Originally released via direct PC download in 2014, Coming Out On Top is a visual novel that leans heavily on letting you mess around with folks and build relationships. While you’re dating and getting to know people, you’ve got to be careful about who you’re investing in, and what you ultimately want from these (often) temporary flings. As in Persona, who you choose to spend time with and how you choose to spend it forms the bulk of the game. Not as in Persona, you can get with a goldfish.

You’ll only experience the scene if you follow just the right pathway, but if you do, the pet goldfish you’ve had since you’ve come to college enlarges to giant size, and you spend a romantic, albeit very tongue-in-cheek, evening together. “Glub glub,” he whispers.

While there’s a lot of in-jokes among Coming Out players—particularly about the goldfish—underneath the goofiness is an earnest desire for an experience that’s fun, heartfelt, and earnest.

“I was a big comedy geek, and prior to COOT I had been playing around with writing comedy screenplays,” said the game’s developer Obscura. “So I guess I come from the perspective of someone who loves comedy films.”

At the same time, Obscura said, so many games of this type often include non-consensual scenes, or be really intense and packed with tension and drama. Instead, this game was about tapping into the frenetic, zany energy of being a college student, coming out, and experimenting.

“College, for a lot of a people, is a time full of anticipation, exploration, and general weirdness. It seemed like a good setting for a guy looking to meet other guys,” Obscura said.

A Thousand Years

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This is a bit really off-topic but maybe it can serve as a reminder to be nice to people online. Especially kids. Life is tough enough as it is for many of us, right? A few warm words can mean a lot.

Cobra Club: A Dick Pic Game

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dickpicsIf you’re into weird video games about sex that carry some form of social critique within, you might have heard of indie developer Robert Yang. Creator of games as Succulent (where you suck a phallic object while travelling through dimensions) and Stick Shift (about jerking off a gay car), Yang is the master of making games that while odd & sexual, carry an interesting and intellectual message.

Over the weekend, Yang released his newest free game, Cobra Club. So, what do you do in Cobra Club? You take a whole bunch of interactive dick pics, send them to people on a fake social media program and get sent other dicks to look at.

Set your dick length, level of erection, girth, ball size, ball bias, pose, lighting, filters, rotation, skin tone and zoom. Get that perfect dick pic and send it to every hot guy who wants it. Add some sparkle, turn off the safety limiters, see dicks as they were always meant to be seen.

While it may on the surface appear to be just a silly experience, Cobra Club has a real level of depth and social commentary hidden within it. You’ll have to dive quite far down the dick photography rabbit hole to find it, but the game makes some really interesting points about body image and online data security.

The photo above is there just for illustration and has nothing to do with the game ;) If you want to see actual screenshots check out this in-depth review here.

Gaming in Color

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“Diversity in games is a huge problem that the industry knows about, and is going to have to do something about,” says game developer Naomi Clark in the trailer for Gaming in Color, a documentary film about queer and genderqueer players and creators in the world of video games.

Created by Midboss, the company behind the GaymerX convention, the film deals with the harassment faced by LGBT gamers, the importance of representing them within games themselves, and the shifts already taking place within gaming and game development communities. “There are a lot of gamer and game designers who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or genderqueer who are really seeking to reinvent games,” says Clark.

The film is now available through on a plethora of sources: iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Playstation, Xbox and more.

via Boing Boing

The Power of Wanking

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Back in 1947, the U.S. government imprisoned Dr. Wilhelm Reich, Sigmund Freud’s star student, for trying to turn orgasms into harnessable energy. Turns out he may have been onto something.

wankband

PornHub claims that it’s created the first (and probably only?) wearable that converts the signature up-and-down movement of male masturbation into energy that charges your phone, laptop, tablet, whatever. The company is on a mission to save the world by doing what they do best — by getting you to, uh, give yourself a hand.

It’s called the Wankband, and according to Pornhub, “It’s the first gadget … that allows men to love the planet by loving themselves.” A weight inside the band — which is worn around your wrist — goes up and down during sexytime. That motion generates energy that then charges your various devices. You simply plug your phone into the band’s USB port and stroke away.

If you’re interested in testing out the Wankband, you can join the beta testing team here. PornHub says girls can enjoy the energy-saving benefits of Wankbands as well, but somehow we’re skeptical of this claim since the band is solely powered by vertical movements. If any ladies out there signs up, let us know how it goes, OK?

Magic: The (Queer) Gathering

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Wizards of the Coast has revealed Magic: The Gathering’s first ever trans character. The new character, named Alesha, Who Smiles at Death, is part of Magic: The Gathering’s latest expansion, Fate Reforged. While her card doesn’t mention her gender, a story published on Wizards of the Coast’s website reveals the details of her origin, weaving her background into the tale of combat.

magic-aleshaAlesha’s clan tradition allows its members to pick their own name after earning glory in battle, with members usually picking names that reflect battle feats. “She had been so different—only sixteen, a boy in everyone’s eyes but her own, about to choose and declare her name before the khan and all the Mardu.”

When it comes time for Alesha to choose her name after killing her first dragon, she goes in a different direction and takes the opportunity to come out to her battle comrades. “And the whole gathered horde shouted ‘Alesha!’ in reply. The warriors of the Mardu shouted her name. In that moment, if anyone had told her that in three years’ time she would be khan, she just might have dared to believe it.”

Alesha does eventually go on to become kahn, leading the horde of humans, goblins, and orcs into battle.