Category: Media

I’m a media studies graduate and with that comes a raftload of tools that I’m repeatedly told aren’t actually useful for anything, to which I counter that I like using them and enjoy the experience of applying those tools to all the media around me I partake in and therefore my life is enriched and overflowing with wonderful experiences of interconnectivity. By this point the other person has usually wandered off. Anyway, this is the category for anything that I think of as being connected to ‘media’, whether it’s a type (like TV, music, movies or so on), a brand (like Disney! Hi Disney!). This category also covers my weekly critical engagement column-type-thing currently called Story Pile.

Story Pile: Good Will Hunting

I don’t really like chess.

I mean I don’t play it. I never have. Not really. Played a few games, sat down to try and learn it, pushed pieces around, failed to identify a way to win, lost a lot, never really got into it. Chess isn’t very fun. Being good at chess is, from what I can tell, pretty great. As an actual game though it’s really basic and there’s this huge investment of research to be good at it and the people who play it tend to include some really tiresome people.

It’s not that chess is a bad game really, I just find it really boring.

Gotta know the basics of chess, though.

That’s what smart people do.

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Decemberween: Desert Bus

This year, I contributed a print-on-demand game, The Pipesm’n Conspiracy, to the Desert Bus for Hope 2018 event. I’ve shared some pictures of this game, both in development and once it was finalised.

The game was made over the course of a month, and printed at Gamecrafter, then sent to the LRR folks. I have never handled a copy of this game, but I’ve tested a prototype I made myself.

It was made into a silent auction, where it it raised a thousand dollars for Child’s Play, with a bid of $987.65. This obviously blows my mind and I’ve spent the intervening time processing the feelings as a result. I’m confused, I’m stunned, I’m honestly ashamed – because I know the work that went in to getting that stuff in place.

To tell you the story, briefly, of how this happened; I made the game, in my home, on cards and in GIMP. I then exported the files and sent those to The Gamecrafter, and had them print and send them to Vancouver, to my friend Hazel.  At this point, expected delivery was within the week, but something went wrong, and instead they were delayed on the way to her.

That means they arrived at Hazel’s place late. Hazel is in Vancouver, which for the Munchlaxen amongst you is basically the next city over from Victoria, its destination.

Hazel received the games, then bagged them as per Desert Bus requests. Then, with the deadline ticking down, as we fumbled through the records for address information, we did our best to find our shipping options that would get it to the right place at the right time. We almost got it right, but I want to shout out to Hazel here – she was willing to personally get on the ferry right there and detective work her way to the right location to hand the game over to people personally to make sure it got there on time.

She didn’t have to do that, as we got her the address, but I messed up on the information, and that meant the prize got there but wasn’t labelled for Desert Bus and went into general Mail Time.

What happened after that point was, thanks to encouragement on the Discord when my prize wasn’t showing up on the Desert Bus page, I contacted the Prize people, who then – while they were very busy– went digging through packages for my mislabelled one, found it, put it on the website, put it on the schedule, and that’s how it got to happen.

I feel awful about putting people out like this.

I want to thank Hazel so much for her part in this – she did nothing wrong, she executed on the information I gave her perfectly. She gave me tracking information which was invaluable for getting the right package. I also want to thank the hard work of Fugi (Foo-Jee) and Ashley Turner (and anyone who helped her, who I cannot name by name), in getting the prize into the pool. Everyone involved was doing other stuff, they were busy, and I made everything a bit harder, and a bit more complicated. I’m so embarassed by this messup and I’m sorry that it went the way it did.

I’ve been trying to approach LoadingReadyRun with my games for a while; you might remember the ridiculous way I got excited when they opened some of my games on Mail Time last year. Except thanks to a cock-up on my end, they arrived without boxes and therefore, without rulebooks, a point of unprofessionalism that also hugely embarasses me. I don’t like twitch chat very much, so I feel very bad being this person @-ing people on twitter like I’m an exciteable fan going oo oo Mr Stark, Mr Lauder, please pay attention to me!

Desert Bus is an amazing charity that does things that matter to me a lot; it aims to be inclusive and respectful and indulgent, which is what I want out of my games. This year they passed the $5,000,000 lifetime earning mark, brought in dozens of amazing people, and in a tiny way, in the tiniest of ways, I was part of that. Not only was I part of that, but people involved in that worked to keep my contribution from falling away. They didn’t need my thing to raise that money, they didn’t need it. They could have kept it for next year, or told me sorry, you messed up, or sorry, we’re too busy.

They could have and they didn’t.

I feel ashamed that it’s necessary, but I am so, so grateful to the people who spent their time and effort in such an incredibly busy time to make something like that happen, to let me and Hazel be part of this.

Desert Bus is wonderful and good and as much as I hate the way I lose a week of my life just paying attention to this stream, I am so blessed by the work and actions of the people involved to be included in it.

Thank you, Desert Bus.

Story Pile: Star Trek: The Next Generation

At the start of this year I was in a really weird space when it came to free time. I was at the time, technically unemployed, because I had work contract coming, with the next semester, but at the same time, I didn’t have a job (or my PhD project yet). This meant that I has an absolute void of free time, and I sought things to fill it up.

And let me tell you.

There’s a lot of Star Trek.

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Say Your Name

I have beef with superheroes that wouldn’t ever use their own name.

Given the way I’ve been complaining about the Iron Fist series for the past two years, it really should stand to reason that I have a fine example of why a character wouldn’t use their superhero title, because Danny looks like a stupid asshole every time he says it. Now, the answer to why that’s a problem is because, as I’ve said many, many times, is that Danny sucks, but the real problem is that, right now, superheroes are being written and conceived as if they are too cool for hero identities.

Cool in this case not actually being a quality – you know, Luke Cage is super cool, for example. No, cool meaning aloof, possessed of a certain removed quality. That quality means these characters often don’t want to think about themselves as people others see them. Heroes who are tangled up in their own heads, but aren’t interested in being a public figure, aren’t interested in what their hero identity means to people around them.

This is the complex problem, and it’s complex because it often requires you to write a character with an inner life that is at odds with the simplified version of the superhero we see. In Daredevil, Matt Murdock does not call himself Daredevil – other people refer to him as the Daredevil. The identity is an observational one, and it doesn’t connect to the way the hero sees themselves. Sure, the Netflix Marvelverse is a fine place for this – you have basically five superheroes, and they are Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Daredevil, The Iron Fist (Danny sucks) and the Punisher. Two of them are street names, one doesn’t like the title, one is Danny, who sucks, and whose use of the name is a literal joke, and the Punisher doesn’t go by his name either.

This carries through to the DC movie universe where Superman doesn’t have an S on his chest for superman, it’s the Kryptonian symbol for hope. Batman is Batman, but Batman is a symbol of terror, who brands people (though they seem to have quietly dropped that plot point). Wonder Woman introduces herself as Diana of Themyscira, Cyborg is a cyborg that calls himself Cyborg, while also being actively ashamed of being a cyborg.

Now why does this matter to me?

It matters because the ability to construct an identity, the ability to make a brand of the thing you are, is both empathetic and indicative of an inner life. You can’t create an illusion of what you are, you can’t make an identity if you’re not capable of considering how other people are feeling. You can’t create an identity, then inhabit it, without showing not only what you think, but how others think about it. That requires some empathy. That shows us some of your values. This is often drawn at a long series, that moment when a character finally dons their outfit, finally picks up their weapon, or maybe, just maybe, finally refers to themselves with their name.

He’s a character I regard as a complete tit, but I really like how Iron Man – the movie, not the guy – handle this. Tony is able to look at himself, look at the way people think of the identity of Iron Man, and makes the snap decision to be okay with wearing that identity.

In the end, these identities are created and assumed. These identities are the byproduct of empathy and values.

Many of these heroes don’t have those.

The irony is that of the lineup I’ve listed, the one who has the most values, the one who has shown the most concerted ideology of what he’s doing, and therefore the one constructing an identity is Luke Cage. He wants to be a symbol, he wants to matter to the people around him, and he wants that person to be someone the people around him can respect and look up to.

Anyway, this is just something that makes me mad. If your superhero would never use their name, they don’t belong in a story with that name in it. Just write a story that doesn’t use that word and stop pretending you want to write about superheroes.

Story Pile: Iron Fist, Season 2 – Danny

Joking aside, the fact is, I think Iron Fist Season 2 deserves some consideration as an object lesson for writers. It’s a series that has a structural problem – something is wrong in the way that the series is made, there’s a brokenness in it, and that break means that everything that connects to it is itself, in some way, sharing in that brokenness.

Spoilers, in a broad sense. I’ll tell you some of the plot points, but not in any kind of specific way.

The problem with Iron Fist, Season 2, is that Danny sucks.

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Friggin’ Venom

I’m seeing a lot of Venom fanart.

Some of it’s being shared by people genuinely horny for it, and we’ll just set that aside for now. Some folk are amused by it, who like the transgressive comedy in treating Venom and Eddie as if they’re boyfriends. It’s a fairly widespread thing, which has both a broad texture (in that there are lots of fairly specific opinions and niche representations of both symbiote and Brock), and almost entirely generic taste (it all kind of feels the same).

Mostly, I hate it.

In amongst this, someone pointed out that it’s weird how, in all this fanart, nobody can draw Tom Brady. He doesn’t look the same in any of them, sometimes not even from the same artist. They all wanna tell a story or show a moment, and yet, despite all of it, none of them seem to be able to represent the person they’re supposedly so driven to draw.

This is the kind of thing I’d normally find as kind of concerning. It’s not quite like how in Overwatch, where every artist brings their own style to the characters they draw and inevitably, the way they represent the unknowable or flexible facts of those characters’ bodies. That’s fine, that’s normal. What’s really strange to me about the Venom fanart is how utterly unable they are to ever represent anything of the character they’re trying to show.

But it doesn’t matter, because they don’t care. They don’t need to show him, because by being the guy with the Venom parasite he’s talking to, you know it’s Eddie Brock.

This is both excellent character design and terrible character design. Eddie is literally nothing, a vessel for Venom to exist next to; he can be anything, do anything, and there’s no reason to doubt or expect anything of him. There can be no out-of-character behaviour, and therefore, no really in-character behaviour. There’s nothing there to get wrong.

This is pretty saddening, really. Because people love this character, even though all he is is a set of fenceposts they can put whatever they want in the middle.

I’d love to put some sort of high-minded, positive coda here, some sort of ‘and isn’t it great that everyone can have that space to create in’ but, like, no. No, I actually find it super annoying that when critics point out problems the movie has, the work of criticism and analysis is discarded because The Venom In My Head Is Better Than The One You Saw, and therefore the critic must be clueless. I hate that a multi-million dollar movie franchise being made by someone who apparently doesn’t have a flipping face is given so many special breaks and given so much love not because of what it is but because of things it absolutely and definitely is not.

And as someone who makes things, who makes things for people to love, it makes me sad.

Because I can’t do that.

And I probably never will.

And that’s just how it goes.

Sorry about hating Venom. I’m sure not all you fans are just monster-frickers.


I’ve been informed that Tom Hardy is the actor I mean when I say Tom Brady and you know what, I’m willing to let that mistake stand because that’s how little of an impression Tom Buckley makes.

Story Pile: Iron Fist, Season 2 – Mary

Let’s get the bookkeeping out of the way. Here’s your spoiler warning, I discuss a character and their backstory and if you somehow wanted to go into Iron Fist for the surprise, then you want to skip out now. Mild content warning for mentioning traumagenic mental health issues.

Iron Fist has been cancelled, but I don’t really believe that. I think it’s much more likely that these shows have been shut down for a point of soft continuity with Netflix and Disney’s upcoming streaming service. There might not be any more of this Iron Fist but there almost certainly could be more if Disney decide it’s worth their return on investment.

The question that keeps coming up is why do this?

One might wonder why I feel the need, after consideration, to turn to the second Iron Fist season and engage with it critically. After all, the series has been cancelled; there will be no more of it. It’s gone, I’ve won. Right? That’s what critics do, they engage with media purely as part of a way of exerting their power on the object. Stop, stop, I won, it’s already dead! And what if someone out there really liked it? By criticising a thing they liked, am I not hurting them, am I not reflecting upon them and maybe making them feel bad, because my opinions and theirs disagree?

And here, I want to offer you comfort. Even if it was somehow meanspirited to kick this series while it was down, it is a multi-milion dollar project and everyone involved is doing fine. If you, personally, feel attacked by my talking about this series being bad, please, don’t read this article and go elsewhere. Live your life.

I want to talk about Iron Fist Season 2 because I like stories, I like this kind of story, and I want to talk about ways to do this kind of thing well. That means, when the time comes, recognising when something bad does something right. With that in mind, I want to talk about the best thing in Iron Fist, Season 2.

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Story Pile: Something YOU Make

Hey, there was meant to be an article here and there wasn’t, and so now you get this, which is me flying by the seat of my goddamn pants because reasons. Hey, no, you don’t get a big important Story Pile about Meaningful Themes because it’s NOVEMBER, which means people are doing NanoWriMo, and I wanted to take a moment to take you, and encourage you to make something.

I write Story Pile posts because I like looking at and thinking about the things stories tell us about ourselves and other people when we partake in them. I like stories, a lot, and I like it when a story does a good job of expressing itself, where the things that the story cares about are shown to matter to that story. It’s one of the most jarring things to watch a story that preaches nonviolence and truth to an ideal decide to chicken out and use a rules loophole, ala Avatar: The Last Airbender, or for a story to build itself around a central character who’s a Very Important Person that Everyone Cares About but the story presents that character as a thoughtless unlikable dick, like in Iron Fist.

What I want to encourage you to try instead is something that is thematically resonant, much smaller, and expresses something you want to exist. And I want you to make it despite the fact that there isn’t a big important genre legacy for it. I want you to make it despite the fact there aren’t millions of people taking part and getting mad at it and being insufferable to their friends. I don’t want you to spend November writing 50,000 words.

If you want a writing project this November, I want you to try out writing about 8,000 to 20,000 words, in the form of a Lite Novel, for Light Novelember 2018. But this isn’t the only thing you can make. You can offer to make illustrations for someone else’s story idea. You can make fake covers for books you want to see get made, but don’t know how to make. You can make the story for someone else’s cover! The point is not to get hung up on word counts and the novel as it is to express yourself in a way that means something to you. Something fun. Something indulgent.

Here are three basic reasons to do this instead of NanoWriMo.

1. NanoWriMo Encourages Volume

Hey, I may just be talking as someone who just marked 50,000 words of essays but do you know what’s really hard? Conveying good stories in small spaces. Know what’s comparatively easy? Waffling on and creating lots of excessive words while you watch a word counter go up because you can at least construct a coherent sentence while you’re following around this little buzzing bee in the back of your head.

The drive for word counts is the same thing as the drive for an aggressive update schedule, which is why Instagram hasn’t got any novels on it but it does have lots of boobs, and why Fifty Shades of Grey has so many pointless arguments between two people over nothing in spaces that are pretty much meaningless to the conversation. Once you get past the basics of how to commit to a story structure of beginning-middle-end, padding that word count gets easier and easier. Just introduce a new character. How about a twist and now it’s cyberpunk. Oh but now there are zombies!

This won’t get you a story. It’ll usually get you six or seven stories which individually, could be polished up into something pretty good, if you allowed yourself to leave them as small stories.

2. Small Stories Teach You

You may have a big epic trying to get out of you and that’s good. I don’t want to dissuade you. But big epic stories take a lot of time to make, and if you’ve never made anything else you’re going to make mistakes, mistakes that you won’t notice until you’re well along, and that may be too late to fix them, or it may make the whole project fall apart.

Small stories can change a lot. They can fix themselves. They can even be released, with their mistakes, because they didn’t take up months of your life. They can be learning experiences, and what’s more, when you make a small story, and share it, you’re sharing it with other people who may be scared to try stories too. They’ll see what you did, and recognise that it’s not so hard, and maybe they’ll make something as well.

If you think the first step to being a writer is writing a novel, you’re going to falter so many times before you can get there.

3. Nobody Will Make What You Make

There aren’t going to be people telling the stories that sing to you the same way as you do. Your stories may appeal to others in ways they weren’t expecting, but if you want to tell a story about nagas or tonberries or sentient talking strawberries or whatever, the easiest way to see that story come into existence is to make it yourself.

And I wouldn’t have thought of it.

It’s true!

You might find common ideas with other people, you might find inspiration in common, but in this space, there’s room for all sorts of oddball ideas, for your specific wants, to give voice to your specific desires for a story.

And it’s okay, because we’re here to tell stories and have fun. Make a story about smooching, or about rayguns, or about the bold trans dude biologist who saves the day by deducing the way to communicate with dragons through the bone structures of their jaws. This is a time to write something indulgent and not worry about if it’s serious enough or good enough or important enough to be treated ‘seriously.’

I have written about how to write a Lite Novel in the past. Here’s the guide to that. If you want to talk to me about this on Twitter, please do. This here is an unscheduled, off the cuff announcement, so I probably missed something.

Geanette, To Weebs

I’ve talked about Gerard Geanette, a French academic, who published books in the 1990s about a vision of media that we call structuralism. His idea was that you can divide media into different parts that all make up the experience, and the ways it change from person to person is a matter of changing parts of the structure while not necessarily changing parts of the text.

Also, Geanette? Looooved him some books.

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Story Pile: Monster

I’ve talked about the challenge of talking about big work in the past. I sometimes use the term mile wide pie, where some experiences are so time consuming or have some single facet engaging enough that you can’t really judge the work as a whole. All I can do, really, is talk to you about my experience of the thing, but how can I do that without simply sitting by your side as I recount the whole thing? I don’t think there’s an interest in me doing a Manga Reread Podcast or something like that. Monster is a big series – eighteen volumes of manga, filled with short stories and diversions that reinforce the central theme of the story, things I could leave out of the retelling but which still matter to the story. Then there’s an anime, a rare example of an almost perfectly faithful adaptation that does as little as possible to change the original work, yet highlights just how tightly the manga is devised.

What I can offer instead then is a sort of snapshot. A handful of moments, things that stand out to me in a work that resonated with me powerfully. Before we go on, though, two warnings. One, I will talk about some of the events in this series.

Two, this series gets a lot of content warnings. It is not a light series, it is not a breezy read. Without comprehensive review, the book features child endangerment (and how), suicide, depression, repressed memories, child abuse, enfant terrible, actual literal real neo-Nazis, Hitler Stuff and good old fashioned violence, but really it’s quite sedate there. This is not gory, it is terrible. It is a horror story. It is an extremely horrifying horror story. It is also uplifting, and humanising, and helped me feel whole.

I want to talk to you about Monster.

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Your Worst Fan

I’ve spoken in the past, about an old TISM song, Play Mistral For Me. For those unfamiliar, the lines of the chorus are

Each man kills the thing he loves
A fisherman caught in his own net
It’s frightening but you deserve
The audience that you get.

It’s meant to be a haunting meditation (like they’d call it that) on the idea that if you’re destined for an audience, your audience’s actions are part of your destiny. It’s something that I’ve mused about lately as I watch students talk about their takes, and as the world increasingly spins around people who have let’s say a not great take on the meaningful metaphors of works like The Matrix and Fight Club.

Spoilers for some movies I feel comfortable assuming you’d have seen by now or don’t care about ever seeing them unspoilered. Continue reading

Iron Fist Cancellation

I was planning on doing a Story Pile about Iron Fist season 2, talking about the problems it has, the reasons it doesn’t work, the reasons I hate it (Danny sucks) and all that.

Then I got the news, today, just out of the blue, after one week of being live on Netflix, that Season 3 of Iron Fist has been cancelled.

I don’t know how to feel about this in its entirety. Like, I was unhappy with the series, but it was a hate that came with a want for a good version of the thing. I wanted an Iron Fist series that was good. When Iron Fist season 1 was bad, I wanted the badness to inform season 2, and when season 2, I had it in me to hope that season 3 could be good, or at least interesting as a failure instead of the black hole of suck that season 2 wound up being.

And then, today, the abrupt news that Marvel and Netflix have decided to just kill Iron Fist season 3.

I mean, it wasn’t going to be good. The people who made Season 1 made a bad thing and the people who made Season 2 with fewer excuses for it being bad. Now I’m wondering if it’d be worth my time to even commentate on the series as a media object itself, or if it’s more of a closed circle. Is there a meaningful autopsy there? Is there a sincere, reasonable purpose to dismantling the terribleness of Iron Fist season 2? Would it be interesting, or edifying?

I’m not sure.

But it is pretty weird to sit back, watch a show on Netflix, say ‘this is garbage’ and then have the voice from on high agree with me.

Story Pile: Jennifer’s Body

hoo boy.

If you don’t remember this movie, I don’t blame you. The marketing for it sort of oriented itself around the selling point that Megan Fox is hot, and She makes out with Amanda Seyfried in this movie. The trailer even seemed to dedicate quite a bit of time to showing off that sequence, which had about it the waft of a movie that was trying very hard to make its 15 racy seconds feel like 30. A transgressive, raunchy, highschool-aimed horror movie, Jennifer’s Body showed up just long enough to make everyone I know roll their eyes and go ugh about it as they went on to talk about how horribly exploitive it probably was.

The thing that nobody seemed to know at the time was that Jennifer’s Body wasn’t a Species-style exploitative horror film with nothing going on, it was a Frankenstein-style exploitative horror film with nothing going on. By that, I mean that this movie is basically the mediocre bits of three other movies that were killed, stitched together into something that resembles a whole. Continue reading

The Fifty Two Flags Wrapup, Part 4

These are the final two rounds of voting, the top eight of flags. Now, thanks to the vagaries of the voting tournament, there are some flags here that do not belong in a top eight of US state flags. But them’s the breaks in a randomly seeded tournament.

I preserved the order of loss in my original thread, but let’s make no mistake: The original thread had some absolute turkeys last way too long. Texas, for example, probably belongs in the final eight, certainly. Really, a more refined version of this poll would be one where all the unforgivably bad flags are just dumped, but then there might be as few as sixteen options.

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Story Pile: Pacific Rim

Just as Game Pile has developed away from its roots of being a pure videogame review section of the website and instead developed into a house for me to talk about stuff in videogames, using videogames as ways to talk about anything else that interests me as well, I realised that one thing that paralysed me was a movie that I enjoyed but didn’t have anything super-meaningful to say about.

I mean, what am I gunna say about Pacific Rim? Just eight paragraphs of enthusiastic wibbling about big robots and big monsters with three pictures interspersed? Is it enough for me to just talk about disjointed stuff I liked in a movie without some greater, central thesis?

Let’s find out!

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The Fifty Two Flags Wrapup, Part 1

A month or two ago, in the lead-up to the United States Flag Day I made a twitter thread – and what a thread it was. Here’s a link. But Twitter threads break, and they sometimes lose information, and so, in the interest of preservation, here’s that chunk o’content, reproduced on my blog.

This thread got really big and it had some sass and comments, so I’m going to represent the rounds of voting, then the loser’s brackets. Continue reading

Story Pile: Aquaman, But Moreso

Alright, so if I’m not happy with the way Aquaman is being treated based on a trailer and the quite safe assumption that the DC Expanded universe is being made by a neverending stream of teapots that suffer from such fundamental failings as objectivism or being Joss Whedon, what would I do differently? Yes, it’s me jumping on a bandwagon of popular analysis form where because I’ve gotten your attention thanks to talking about media that exists, I think I can talk you into listening to my ideas about media that should exist.

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Shirt Highlight: Voregoisie

Inspired by a tumblr post, I made these designs.

What it says, in fancy font so fancy it’s hard to read, is Voregoisie: The Rich Are Made Of Meat.

Note, I do not recommend the literal eating of the literal rich. Consuming human beings is a good way to get yourself sick and run the risk of getting prions, which are all kinds of bad news.

Anyway, here’s the Voregoisie design in white and black.

Story Pile: Aquaman Trailer

I at some point in my life shifted from the kind of person who made fun of Aquaman, because he was a character you kind of knew about but it was easy to imagine making fun of him, to someone who spends his time arguing about how much interesting potential Aquaman has as a storytelling agent, frustrated at the previous group of people.

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Ways To Fail And Be Failed

Trying to be concise with a concept. This time, the concept is from Jesper Juul’s The Art of Failure: An Essay On The Pain Of Playing Video Games.

In this, he describes three different types of failure that you can encounter:

Failures of Execution. You messed up.

Failures of Motivation. You weren’t encouraged to do the right thing.

Failures of Function. You did the right thing, but it didn’t work.

As a player, what does it matter how you fail? You may have no idea why you’re failing, or what the type of failure is. Watching Lucy Morris play The Witcher 2, I watched all three happen in quick succession, without any indication that they were at all happening.

The section of the game is a stealth section in the mission The Search For Triss Merigold. First of all, the game has a failure of function – you can be stuck in a place where you can’t earn any money, and your only alternative to the stealth section is to spend a lot of money. This means you’re presented with a choice that can’t be a choice; you didn’t have any reason to turn up with your pockets bulging and you can’t go do anything else to earn money.

Then there was a failure of motivation. The correct course of action in the game was to sneak into a camp, avoid several guards, sneak to a location, dose a chef, then sneak out through a path that opens up. This particular sequence of events was so obscure, so utterly without, that Lucy didn’t even know she wasn’t doing the right thing. When she messed up in this stealth section, at all, she was killed without any recourse – which meant anything she tried that didn’t work was immediately discarded. She wasn’t getting a clear feedback on why she was failing, and that meant she had no idea what the right thing was to do.

Eventually, Lucy opted for a walkthrough, because what other alternative was there?

And then, then there were failures of execution. Lucy knew what she had to do, but still died a few times trying to get there. This was extremely frustrating, but the knowledge that she was working towards the correct plan was better than nothing.

Alright, fine, The Witcher 2′s stealth section sucks, but what does this mean for me and my life, you wonder?

Well, As a designer, what does it matter how a player fails?

First, failures of function are on you – the player can’t make the game behave right, you’re the one that does that.

A failure of motivation lies more on you than on them, too – because you want to induce them to do things in your game. A player might not care enough to pay attention, sure, and that’s not entirely on you, but you can do more to guide players than you think, and plenty of games have messed up letting players know what they should be doing.

And failures of execution, if they happen regularly, may be a sign that you’re expecting too much of a player. They’re also the kind of failure that players find the most satisfying to overcome. Succeeding despite a game failing is less satisfying than succeeding despite your own previous failures.

Western Canon

What with people, aka racists, talking about the importance of defending western values they’ll often tout the artistic importance of the west and how it’s resulted in transcendental things like Van Gogh and Leonardo Da Vinci and some other artist they primarily remember because of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

The thing about this thought that always rattles around is that the imperial world did indeed produce an enormous amount of art we can recognise as important, but that it was always as a byproduct of cultural states that had disproportionate wealth enough that thanks to sheer randomness and the precarious position of the people randomly bequeathed with ridiculous wealth, money got scattered down onto the people who make art. Look at the history of these artists, the people of this western canon, they’re all either paid for by some rich dickhead who was already getting more than his fair share of pies, and there were a lot of artists who failed to find an agreeable rich patron who supported them and the tended to live lives that were poor, short, and miserable, even if the ever did make something cool. It should really be seen as a stinging indictment of capitalism and western colonialism that it had to acquire something like half the wealth in the world at the time before it was able to produce twenty or thirty artists, when any kind of efficient system might be doing something like making sure everyone was well-fed enough that if they wanted to bung out some art they weren’t going to be hosed for trying it.

Still, what do I know, I’m not an expert in media creation oh wait hang on I might be by now, holy heck.

Anyway, the real lesson here is that when a racist wants to talk to you about the importance of colonialism to world art, the correct response is to tell them to go fuck themselves and to not bother arguing with them about the logical or rational reasons for rejecting their racism. They’re always lying.