2007: Gaming Ground Zero

Maybe you’ve heard of cultural ground zero: 1997. Now let’s talk games, because unlike other institutions of culture, the games industry kept on growing and innovating for another 10 years. Then 2007 happened, and as far as the bigger publishers are concerned, games reached their peak and no more change or risk was required or even advisable. Gameplay seemed to stop changing almost entirely after 2007, and the extent to which it did change is usually in the negative, involving the watering-down of mechanics and general reduction of difficulty. Of course, there were plenty of amazing games prior to 2007,…

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Rabbits and Social Credit

Courtesy of Brian Niemeier, I read a great short graphic novel (available free and digitally) by Minna Sundberg this week regarding control, social credit, and human conditioning… through rabbits: https://www.hummingfluff.com/lovelypeoplecomic.html I think this is a great comic for a few of reasons. First, the subject matter is on-point and topical. We in the west tend to look over at China and their social credit system (sesame credit) and think we are much better when it comes to thought control, and in a way, we are. That is to say, the west is good at controlling thought in more opaque manner.…

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Auto-Allegory, or how Starfire is a Terrible Mother

I don’t like to give publicity to garbage like this, but it’s such an instructive moment for writing and understanding people I can’t help myself: Basically, this is about DC superhero Starfire’s daughter (Raven, I think), who is an angsty 90s-2000s goth girl who is also obese and a lesbian, and of course resents her beautiful mother. The surface level complain is obvious – this is bad fan fiction and denigrates established characters, pushes a gratuitous woke agenda at the expense of a good story, and is generally low-quality writing and art. Add to that the fact that it will…

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The Millennial Obsession with Harry Potter

It’s a curious case – Millenials, particularly in the “literary” and “writing” (I use those terms as ironically as possible) community are constantly referencing Harry Potter, particularly when it comes to some of the basic parts of the moral play, such as Lord Voldemort, who represents whatever current-year evil they happen to be personally obsessed with (usually just orange man bad). Why? Why so much obsession with a children’s book series, to the point where people put their Hogwarts house in their twitter bio? Yes, you are so Gryffindor, Miss Keyboard Warrior! Here’s my basic explanation: Mythological vacuum Social reinforcement…

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The Process of Deplatforming

Having been around, carefully observing the process of “deplatforming” (that is, banning) of so-called “right wing” personalities on social media, I’ve noticed a few patterns. I’ve noticed that the platforms, YouTube in particular, operate in a series of steps, with the final collision of banning across all platforms (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) happening last. Let’s take a look: Phase 1: Shadowban In this step, the offender is identified either manually (that is, by a person) or through new elements added to the algorithms and filters, and is essentially cut off from the normal organic boosts that a social media account will…

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How Short Fiction Died (and how it can come back)

If you want the deep read, check it out on JD Cowan’s blog: https://wastelandandsky.blogspot.com/2020/07/what-are-friends-for.html The ultra-short summation is this: Science fiction short fiction didn’t lose popularity like wearing bellbottoms, it was destroyed through the actions of a small clique of contemptuous busy-bodies who took over the scifi magazines and shifted their subject matter away from what was popular towards what they wished to be popular. The result, of course, was a loss in popularity over time, but process repeated multiple times, until brands which were important in the 1930s are worn like skin suits by people who hate what was…

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Color: The Key to Impact and Emotion

Time for something different – some tips on choosing the right colors for art, ad copy, and things like book covers. Let’s start with some examples of great fantasy art by Kerem Beyit: Kerem’s proficiencies are many, but one of the reasons his art has such a vivid “pop” and stands out so much is his use of color, specifically limited color range centered on two different (but rarely complementary) colors. Rather than attempting to go for some “realistic” approach to color representation, he distills things down to a few charged areas. The result is really eye catching. Notice in…

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The Greatness of the Hobbit

I’m not talking about the movie, which was so far from the greatness of the book it deserves its own dissertation, I’m talking by the original work by JRR Tolkien, originally published way back in 1937. This book was a landmark for fantasy in a whole host of ways, and many of those ways are not at all obvious to those of us who have inherited the literary landscape of Tolkien. None of those new and original things would have mattered, however, if it hadn’t been a great yarn. Let’s talk about a few big ideas: The main characters are…

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On Reviews and the Indie Movement – An Optimate Memo

I haven’t done much in the way of book reviews, either here or on my YouTube channel, but I’m reconsidering how I approach this. First, take a look at this blog post by Alexandru Constantin, regarding where he has settled on book reviews: There are few things I want to cover here related to all this, before I get to prescriptions: Tradpub may be a facade, but it is one that normal folks think is real – and perception matters What is the point of a book review? Is there any point to negativity? The “political right” doesn’t think strategically…

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The (Game) Song Remains the Same

A good thread to kick things off: Games are first, and foremost about their gameplay, NOT their story. Story in games can be great. You can tell stories in unique and interesting ways that other mediums just can’t do. However, gameplay is a prerequisite for a gaming experience to be… well, game. I never finished The Last of Us because its gameplay was, quite frankly, too boring. It also looked boring. The story started off with a good hook in the form of tragedy, but then became a slog. There was very little game at the macro level, and none…

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