So anyone who knows me knows I have Opinions about Representation. Representation in anything — games, movies, books, the gamut of communicative arts. So let me tell you about this thing that I just found because YES. It’s a game called Aberford in development by an outfit called Sketchy Panda Games. Here are their four primary protagonists: Yeah. That totally got my attention. In a sentence, Aberford follows four women in post-WWII America faced with a zombie apocalypse. There’s a single-player story mode and a multiplayer zombie-smash mode, too. But if you worry that this is being handled poorly, that the characters are cardboard cutouts and the story will be a thin veneer of zombie bashing dressed in June Cleaver’s best, let me point you to this excerpt from their tumblr, which they update quite frequently: Besides being a game about 50’s housewives and zombies, Aberford is about people finding their voices … Read on!
This is the most fantastic thing I’ve seen in a while: A Soft Murmur, which lets you mix your own background ambient noise loop.
Mix your own background ambient loop. BRILLIANT.
I don’t know how long it’s been out, but it’s fantastic. There’s no hiccup where a track loops back on itself, and you can have all of the sliders up and running if you like and it doesn’t slow anything down, nor does the sound stutter. And you can set it up with timers — a timer to start, a timer to end, and a timer to just gently fade out. They’ve got an Android app, but no iPhone yet.
You can even share your own mix. Mine is rain, thunder, and waves, with a little wind and a hint of singing bowl thrown in. I’m absolutely in love.
There is a fierce joy in being sore. I’m one of those people who doesn’t really respond to cardio; I’d rather chew glass than walk thirty minutes on a treadmill. But I love pushing pieces of metal around. The idea of bulking up never bothered me. I want to look badass! I want to be badass! My life has been, more or less, an extended attempt to attain and maintain some kind of dignity, which I never think I have. Stupidly Sisyphean. But we all have our quirks, I suppose. So anyway, I love pushing weights around. I love feeling the steering in my car get softer — it’s an old car, with a carburetor and “assisted” steering, a term describing something that is almost, but not entirely unlike, power steering; I love feeling how stable I am getting up the stairs after apparently years of screwed up posture leg … Read on!
There are days I feel like I’m striving toward something, striding. Something purposeful, something meaningful. Today is not one of those days. I suppose it’s all right; I suppose you can’t always be on the march, you can’t always double-time through the shadows with a burning brand smoking up the corridors. But it leaves me hollow and empty and with no motion at all. I don’t like being motionless. Well, that’s not entirely correct; I like being motionless when it’s a thing I’ve chosen, and serves a purpose. Or even if I didn’t choose it, but I know it leads to something else later on. An enforced sabbatical. That’s not what this is, though. It’s a permeating fog of dissatisfaction, and I think that’s what I hate most. If something’s not quite right, I like to be able to try to fix it, or think about why leaving it alone … Read on!
You know the person who, when telling you about some achingly mundane event in their lives, turns it into a sort of narrative epic of questionable insight and imagined valor? That’s me. And I know it’s me, when I’m in the middle of explaining the emotional context of a 3 AM subway ride and I can hear the rusty creaking strain of patience from my friends, and I can’t stop myself. I just can’t. So thank you, friends, and family, for your patience. It’s times like those that make me wonder if my lack of self-esteem isn’t some foreign overlay, because when I’m telling you about the joyous schadenfreude of watching the jerk who cut me off halfway to my destination get pulled over by the cops for speeding, I am certain that you are feeling the righteousness just as much as I am, even though I’m only a third of the way through … Read on!
The focus of my research has changed again — or more accurately, has refined itself even further, or become more fundamental. The upshot and downside is that the creative output for the research is now completely different (again). No game now, which is all right because I can put that together on my own once I’m finished with this research. Now I’m helping on a larger project. And I couldn’t be happier, to be honest. For someone who spends a lot of time writing, I spend a lot of that time in the company of others. Yeah, sure, I’ve got short stories that have been accepted, and I’ve got a couple of ideas for novels that are quietly keeping warm on the backburners of an extraordinarily large oven, but a lot of the making stuff I that I do is in the company of others. I spend at least one … Read on!
Valentine’s Day is fraught with all kinds of baggage. I used to be one of the people who vehemently hated it. I mean, I spent — spend? — most of my life feeling like I’m on the periphery of acceptable society (fat woman who likes to play and make games and enjoys learning how to use swords and can accurately diagnose and sometimes fix serious car problems), and VD (heh) was one of those things that just made that feeling worse. This was the case even when I was already married. Human connections are complex and nuanced and commercial pressure is about as antithetical to that sort of thing as you can get. But this year has been wonderfully low-key, completely by accident, and it’s been much easier to appreciate the non-commercial side of Valentine’s Day which is in reality non-existent and requires personal construction by those involved. The reason … Read on!
Home is a hard concept for me, or maybe it’s just hard for me to reconcile it with the usual societal notions of home. Maybe that’s a part of growing up, learning that societal notions are rough guildelines and not strict rules, many of which are set up by people who do not have your best interests at heart. I’ve been home in the US since mid-May. I got here in time to spend the little time my dad had left, and for that I’m enormously grateful. And I was able to be here for my mom, and for me. And that’s what I’ve been doing for the past couple of months. Grieving, logistics, supporting my mom, and having a brief getaway weekend to see a ton of friends in New York City. And seeing family from Mexico! People I haven’t seen in years. Home is absolutely awesome, and home … Read on!
powered by Fotopedia So before the middle of the year hit, I was in the middle of refocusing my research from the application of polyphony to transmedia storytelling, to examining polyphony and its role in shared emergent narrative in tabletop role playing games. A friend of mine calls this a “PhD&D.” There are studies on the culture and anthropology of gamers and gaming (and when I say gaming here, I mean tabletop RPGs); there are studies on performativity in gaming, the potential of gaming in therapy, and in education. There are evaluations of gaming materials as literature. But so far, there are no examinations of narrative processes happening in a game in progress. Because polyphony posits that every voice influences the collaborative results of the interaction of those voices in a given work, and because an RPG setting constitutes a voice contributing to a game even partly based in … Read on!
How awful is that, a mid-year update. Well, for the moment, a good part of my life is on hold due to a close death in the family. My research is on hold while I help my family with paperwork and the other inevitable logistics that come out of these things, but if you want a good snapshot of where my thinking was going as recently as April, Josh T Jordan at Tell Me Another just posted an interview with me conducted at that time with co-host PK Sullivan. Tell Me Another is a bi-weekly interview show featuring storytellers of all kinds, and I’m honored and delighted to have been asked to participate. I also had a story accepted by Tiny Owl Workshop for Unfettered; I have no idea how my story will appear, which is part of the fun! I’m honored and humbled to be included in this project. In … Read on!