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.
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! →
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! →
Is it me, or is it like some perverse wrestling sculpture event? It’s like cooking, or carpentry. There’s heavy lifting and assembly and then disassembly when you inevitably get a joist wrong. And there’s a lot of staring. And pressure. And waiting. Scripts for me can grind, sure, but the grind is different, spooling too far too fast in a direction that I later realize doesn’t work. Lots of spooling. Tire smoke. But this theory thinky stuff is a different thing, like trying to walk through gel. Pushing through. Stopping for a breather. Is it always like this? Does it loosen up the more you get used to it? Or is it easier for some people? I can completely understand if it’s not the kind of thing I’ve got a knack for. I dunno.
Okay, so, I’ve been gaming since, like, forever. And my family wasn’t the kind to get an Atari or a Nintendo or whatever. No, my gaming was pen and paper and the kinds of stigma you expect when not being whatever’s popular that week in high school (I actually started earlier, but hey). I’m not here to talk about that, I’m here to talk about why I made my impulse buy. Which was a weekend pass to GenreCon here in Brisbane. I’ve know about Chuck Wendig since my White Wolf days, and then somehow, years ago, I stumbled onto his blog. If you haven’t read it, you should quit my site right now and go do so. I even linked for you just above. There’s a bit of a naughty word warning, but whatever, he’s a George Carlin variety of profanity-slinger. Trust me on this. Anyway. He was coming to … Read on! →
It’s funny, seeing as how the work I’m doing is all about choice, that I’m critical of it. I just saw an ad for RSVP, an online dating service, and the theme of the ad was winnowing down preferences. “Must like dogs. Loves to cook.” Blah blah blah. We’re spoiled for choice, and by choice. Before we could move across great distances at will or chat with strangers on the other side of the world, we had who we had, and that was about it. You grew up in your family, your town, your neighborhood, and you took the things you disliked with the things you liked. And because you didn’t have an option to get away, surround yourself with the safe and adored things of your heart’s desires — physical, political, imaginary, whatever — you had to learn how to cope. I am forgetting how to cope. I am … Read on! →
I’ve managed a bit of a breakthrough, tightening the pacing on the story (improving the first episode significantly) and getting a much livelier sense of the characters, which is immeasurably valuable. I did it by eliminating/consolidating three characters. Reminds me of a phrase used when it comes to modern media technology: “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” Polyphonic stories require ensemble casts: it is the nature of the tale. But too many characters and you muddy and confuse everything, and no one remembers who anyone else is. Too few, and you have no tension at all. I’ve had to be mercenary about this story, looking at every scene from a screenwriting perspective: no wasted airtime. No wasted words, no wasted sound, no pointless scenes. But the difference here is that in a three-act film, every scene pushes the story forward on the shoulders of the main character (even though … Read on! →
He says it much better than I can get my thoughts to string together. Also, do take time to check out the link he includes in his post. That’s also well worth the read:
…You’re also allowed — encouraged, even! — to not like stuff. While I don’t know that “hating” something is valuable, at least in the sense that, say, That New TV Show is worth the hot irons of your internal furnace, but hey, you feel what you feel. Once again, unless you’re a paid critic, you’re allowed to dislike something without any rational or cogent reason presented. You can just be like, “Man, that show Homeland just, it just, gnaaaarghle vvvzzzzz ahhhhhh. You know?” And then you flounce about and angrily eat a churro. CRUNCH CRUNCH FROWN.
Pukka: Is this what it’s supposed to be like? It’s not even a game, it’s a dance. Everyone knows their place, and there are songs and people move to them and sometimes a country gets an advantage and sometimes another, but nobody pushes really hard. No one starts a real war.
Neyu: It’s why Sami left. She knew things were going to get a lot worse. She wanted to help stop it.
Pukka: …She told you about that?
Neyu: She said we shouldn’t stop trying to do the right thing even if people told us to stop, even if no one else did it. But how do you know what the right thing is? If everybody’s doing something different, how do you know which one is right?