Smooch month draws to a close, and you know, while I found it very hard to produce content this month, the last few days rounding out content for it was a lot of fun, especially when I got the video made and uploaded (which is typically the last thing I do each month, to give myself as much time as possible to react).
Articles this month have been lots of fun, too! I really like my piece on Poison Ivy, which it turns out was super timely because shortly before it went up, DC Comics tried to No Homo the statue of Harley and Ivy they made and sold, so, you know, weird, cowards. I did an article about ways you can be a high-Charisma character in 4e D&D without necessarily just being a sorcerer, and that was fun to write too. Also, the article I did about how clingy Planeswalkers could be made me laugh and I think the targeted audience thought it was funny. Also, finally, I did a serious piece on the roll to seduce that’s a thing in D&D and discourse around same. It’s a really interesting topic!
This month’s shirt is dedicated to Karen. And Casey. And a demon who knows who she is. Really a lot of my friends seem to be happier with the idea of biting or punching me. Weird.
Annnnnd then there was this month’s video! Which was a really, really big one and the size of it made it hard to mix up techniques. Still, I was very happy with the kind of content, the fact it was asked for by friends on twitter, and that I had fun talking about a lot of different and interesting things while just approaching the idea of hey is this Fire Emblem character hot?
And personal life stuff? I got to spend a lot of time with my family, who I love heaps; I got to spend time with Fox, who I love heaps; and this month, the summer rains have hit and that means the oppressive heat is sometimes mixed with gentle, sprinkling rain.
I’m doing okay. And okay yes part of that is punching through this month’s difficult workload elements (Smoochy games are so hard y’all), but now I’m looking at two months ahead of me and they’re pretty exciting.
Ah, February. February, the month with Valentines’ Day in it. February, the shortest month. February, the worst month, the hottest part of summer, the month of my grandmother’s birthday, the month in which romantically themed candies and sexcapade based romps will abound and people will share their definitely not bothersome jokes about marriage. February.
It is a month for smooches, a month for media about smooches, or about conspicuously choosing not to have smooches. During this month you can expect the game pile to look at romance games, which… probably means more visual novels, like, actual visual novels about finding and making relationships, and the story pile to talk about media that wants to talk to the experience of havin’ a smooch or not having a smooch.
I’m being very ambiguous here because the reality is that it’s hard to define what ‘romantic’ media even is any more in a useful way, and last year’s experiment of playing visual novels and writing about them was a deeply alienating experience of finding games that literally had no space for someone like me while doing things that made me feel guilty. I skirted the topic at the time, because heaven forfend I be honest about how a videogame makes me feel if it’s anything but positive!
This is gunna be a month where I talk about games and media where interpersonal romance is focal; where I look at works I normally avoid and try to bring them to bear on ideas that do mean something to me; and who knows, I may even talk a little bit about romance, building relationships, and things I’ve learned after losing my entire friend network leaving the church.
It’s gunna be fun and hopefully I’ll find some other romcoms to goof around with, because they’re more fun than thought.
New year, new set of blog posts, new planning tools, and how have they gone? This month, I spent more time on blog posts for longer, which made it so some blog posts were kinda longer than I really expected them to be. There are fewer 400-500 word posts, and a lot more 1000 worders. I am real happy with the article about Sidekicks, which even gets to do a funny Sonic The Hedgehog thing, I liked my article about Overwhelm, where I learned a valuable lesson about difficulty in games, and for just being funny on its own merits, I liked my article about the Taco T-Shirt Cannon.
This month’s video was a stilted little half hour of me running around playing a little bugge and trying very hard not to cough in your ear… and it turns out I didn’t render it correctly. Don’t worry, I will be fixing this and reuploading, but thanks to CanCon, I haven’t had that time to work.
Shirts! I had a lot of great shirts this week, with three different Allstar Themed designs:
It was CanCon month! That eats a ton of time and space! Then, I took the great opportunity to be sick for a week! While we were getting ready for CanCon! That was a terrible idea!
Still, we’re here, we’re okay, and things are not as bad as they could be, so let’s keep going! ♥
Hey, do you want to write more?
I write a lot, and you may notice that if you frequent this blog and notice that for the past thousand days or more it’s pretty much always been updated with something new, that hovers around the 200-500 word mark, depending on how well I keep focused on my point aardvark. Well, part of how I keep a schedule of my blog going is having a chart for if I’ve got a post set up for the next day.
I also have ‘events’ each week; two posts that fit a schedule, Game Pile and Story Pile, and they happen on specific week days. I made something for that, which I used to do on my bullet journal, which was great, except for two things I learned the hard way:
- Tracking one full year in a paper book can get pretty tatty.
- Any time I misplace my bullet journal, I kind of get paralysed about what to work on next.
With that in mind, for my blog tracking, I decided it was time to set something up that I could access as conveniently as my blog itself, and so, I made a google sheets spreadsheet for this. And since it’s a handy tool, and you can just copy them if you use google sheets: Here!
It’s pretty simple. By giving each month a theme or notes, I can make sure that any articles that don’t necessarily fit a current month may go in a later one that fits it better. By having these trackers on hand I can make sure I don’t do four or five articles on a theme in a month and risk boring audiences that don’t like them. This lets me look at my work overall, for a whole year, and plan ahead.
Just a little tool! Hope it’s useful!
Alright, let’s look forward to 20/20!
Currently, this blog is a daily blog. Every day, there’s an article, with each week featuring a Story Pile article and a Game Pile article. Story pile is when I look at a piece of media (like a TV series, a movie, an album, or something sometimes more obtuse), and Game Pile is when I look at a game. I also release, each month, a Video on Youtube, and a t-shirt design.
That’s it! That’s the basic plan.
Now, what I’m going to be doing this year is laying out our schedule of theme months. Every even numbered month is going to have a theme, all concentrated into one spot. I like theme months, they give me something to focus on, and our themes this year are as follows:
- February is SMOOCH MONTH
- April is TALEN MONTH
- June is PRIDE MONTH
- August is TRICKS MONTH
- October is DREAD MONTH
- December is DECEMBERWEEN
Last year taught me that forward planning is valuable, and now I’m trying to do that with an even longer view. There are articles that came out in 2019 that in hindsight, I would have wanted to put at a different time of the year – to put them in a theme month that fits them best. That means that right now I’ve made a few articles that are sitting way down in the hopper. I’ll share how I plan that out later, but for now, expect a bit more cohesion.
There are also a few types of articles I like doing but I want to space them out in the interest of not just repeating myself endlessly. There’s room for one-and-two parters like I did with 2019’s orc-and-elf articles, but I want to keep the blog varied rather than just burrowing down into one topic for a long time. Twitter is really good for those momentary obsessions, the blog is where I want to tidy it up.
Here are the things I expect to do once a month, maybe pushed around a bit to avoid landing in theme months:
- One Magic The Gathering article a month. You might see two, if I’m feisty.
- One How To Be article. These take some planning and research.
- One Jimmy Buffett album article. These are super easy and I don’t wanna just spit them all out at once.
- One 4th Edition D&D Themed Article. This is stuff like overviewing specific books or character classes or things 4e did that differentiate it from 3.5, or things you should borrow for your characters or your own games.
- One 3.5th Edition D&D Themed Article. It’s super easy to dunk on old books which I can now critically regard, and I don’t want to be too mean but I do love going back and looking at weird or dumb 3.5 game rules or flavour problems.
If this sounds okay to you, great! And if you’d like more of any of these things or less of them, let me know. I want this blog to be approachable and fun and engaging, and understand these are not the only things you’re going to see.
Overall, the thing that most likely gets an article type reiterated on is positive reactions. Someone once told me she didn’t read the magic articles I wrote, and because I had no other responses on that front, I just… didn’t write any magic articles for a bit. Then someone said they really missed them and boom they came back.
If there’s content you want, ask me for it, because odds are really good I’ll respond and try and do more of it.
Decemberween is over, and with it a month of gratitude and promotion of my friends and things my friends have done. I don’t think of this as a time to go back and say ‘hey, check out these previous posts,’ especially in this case. Just click the Decemberween 2019 tag and check them out. ♥
This month’s video is hanging out with me and Fox playing Minecraft. This was a really hard video to record, because Fox and I are in the same room, and her mic and my mic are different beasts. There were some possible alternatives – we record one audio track through one of the two mics, but our two computers are very distant. Turning up the gain to get us both would involve getting more background noise, and clearing that out would make us sound really distant.
Shirts! Well, don’t worry, I absolutely did make shirts this December (I mean, c’mon, I have a hard time stopping). But since the Decemberween slots wound up taking up all this month, I decided to bump talking about them to January. Basically, there are going to be a fairly large number of January shirt designs, and if you wanna go check out my Redbubble or Teepublic store, the designs are there right now.
This month, there’s been some work done on LFG and the upcoming card game Die Rich, which will hopefully happen in January! Looking back on games this year, there were two major releases – Freight Expectations and Hook, Line & Sinker, and we did our first time selling games in a standup store, which I’ll talk about more next year when we have the whole thing summarised.
On my personal life front, though, it is now Summer. That means that the temperature is higher in the mornings, and Elli, the dog, will hug close to me of a morning, forcing me to wake up earlier. This means if I can’t sleep, or if I get to sleep late, I can’t catch up in the mornings. This sucks! It’s also full of fire and fear! That also sucks! And existential anxiety! That sucks too!
It’s also Christmas! Which is a time for stress out of the wazoo! But it’s also a time when there are people I can share my time with, time where I can hold out my arms, lift, and care, and hug and love… and that’s pretty nice.
Oh and bonus detail: My arm and back are really messed by my sleep patterns? Don’t know what to do about that.
I did say that part of Decemberween would be giving you stuff that cost very little to engage with, right? Well, how about this very blog, where there’s a bunch of stuff that you might have missed?
I get readership statistics on my blog, which I can break down to teach me all sorts of interesting things. One interesting thing is that even a mild bit of interest from Reddit explodes my statistics, and also that the most popular thing I’ve ever done is probably always going to be the No Magic Colour Is Transphobic piece. Magic content gets more attention, reddit-friendly content gets more attention, it do be like that though.
Here’s a curated list of the top stuff that I wrote this year, sorted by how much I like them. Note that this year has featured three hundred and sixty five articles, so this is going to give you a long list of maybe thirty of the ones I like the best out of the ones that audiences have indicated they like the best.
Okay, so what are some of my game pile articles that I liked? Well, I wrote about Kingdom Hearts, after watching a video on it and I think the ensuring research was so fascinating I might be able to be considered something of a fan of it? Look, there’s a nonzero chance I’m going to buy this game to talk about it more in depth.
Easily my favourite, most self-indulgent piece this year was my two parter discussing Exalted and Exalted: The Infernals. Not only were these articles extremely fun to write and read, I’ve seriously considered turning them into long-form videos. They’re about one of the most bombastically excessive, beautifully evocative and dizzingly incompetent Roleplaying Game sourcebooks and settings I’ve ever seen. Bonus, it has probably my favourite joke of the whole year in it.
It wasn’t a proper Game Pile article, but back in June I did break down the enormous and preposterous Fabula Nova Crystallis in a summary fashion (and missed some important details and context, by the way!). I may still hate how excessive and extra everything Final Fantasy is trying to do has become, but you gotta respect the completely wasteful and foolhardy development process, or don’t!
I also made some videos about games! Particularly, I made one about Mirror’s Edge and Platform Capitalism, one about Skyrim and Gaps In Language, one about Love Is Strange, The Game You Asked For, and one about Abe’s Oddysee and Meatpunk. I’m pretty happy with these (I need to get used to using backing audio to make my voice sound less like a lecture in an empty room), but I’m glad at how I’ve improved and sped up at making these videos.
I talked about three critical darlings this year: Majora’s Mask, Bloodborne, and Braid, and one of those games got a real kicking. I looked at a bunch of visual novels as well, and of them, my favourite, DoraKone still stands out to me as being worth sharing and suggesting you check out.
Finally, at the start of the year, I codified a new direction on kindness and cruelty with my view of Risk of Rain. Be kind with energy, be cruel with purpose (Exalted).
Dungeons & Dragons!
Oo boy! Lots of stuff this year, and some of it surprisingly well received. None of my Hunter’s Dream work cracked the metaphorical top twenty, but that doesn’t matter that much. What does surprise me is that double digit groups of people wanted to check out my takes on 4th Edition D&D.
First, an article about how 4th Edition’s structure limited it. Then there was an article about how you should give 4th edition a shot (because it’s cheap). Then another article, about making halloweeny heroes for 4th edition, and finally, my favourite so far, the How To Be Hilda article.
There was also some setting stuff I wrote about, things that are more generally applicable than just my 4th edition treatment, which mostly focused on, weirdly, races. There’s an article about how Dwarves relate to goblins (dwarves are bad, yo), my article about how I and only I get Tieflings right, and the twin pair of articles about Orcs and Elves.
The Story Pile!
The most popular Story Pile this year was my piece on Touhou Project as a storytelling canon, which it turns out, was one of those social groups that click links a lot, especially if it’s saying that they are doing something good. I don’t imagine ‘Touhou is hollow and everything meaningful to it is created by the fans’ would fly well!
I took a month to go in on the new Voltron series, a project I greatly relished, and still hold that series out as an excellent and positive franchise that more people in fandom should look to, and that more writers and creators should embrace because of its positive attitude towards fandom. Hunk sucks though.
I finally sat down and pulled apart a retro anime series called Geobreeders, because it’s one of those things that kind of just hangs around the back of my mind, a weird and remotely removed unimportant anime series that was nonetheless composed mostly out of the mind of a lone creator’s personal obsesssions. I went in on one of my favourite characters in Young Justice and even talked about my favourite Disney movie, Lilo And Stitch.
Finally, I explained not anything about the story but about the presence in the culture of the immense anime titan Neon Genesis Evangelion. Mixed in amongst this there’s also a little slip about the Gen 1 Transformers, The Stunticons Are Gay.
This year brought with it a handful of different pieces about longer-form criticism, tools for talking about game making and media criticism. One, I got to codify my problem with TvTropes Criticism, and a longer form response to Chris Franklin’s piece where The DM Is Removed. Inexplicably, my piece on how a game of Scrabble ends was really popular?
I also talked about the role of erotic roleplay in academic studies of people and their relationships in online spaces, which was in response to a year of watching people who I used to respect deciding to mock people for using the internet to have sex.
At the start of this year I said I wasn’t going to write about Magic regularly. This is something I’m glad I did, but also it’s kinda funny that this year would have been the best year to write about it weekly because there was always something going on to write about. There were four major set releases over the course of the year, there was a banning, a whole new format introduced, major story related stuff happening, announcements and special projects and all of that and hey, we may have gotten rid of Nicol Bolas! For a bit!
Still, I did write some stuff about Magic, and I even collaborated with Fox on a two hour long video where she basically passed her opinions on which members of the cast she wanted to do smooches on.
Then I did some articles about custom magic design: One about why we should ignore the bottom of the deck, and one about how to manage your word counts and why that matters.
And then there was the absolute doorbuster of an article I put out in April, where I spent three thousand god damn words talking about how the discourse comparing a random distribution physical game without a central server was and had the same moral pitfalls as a Gacha game might. Since I wrote it, literally nobody I know has criticised me for it, so I have to assume I just got it right, and now that discourse is over.
And that’s that! It’s a bunch of reading that you, the audience, has deemed to be popular and good! thank you for your attention and I hope you keep reading!
This is the time of year when the last thing I want you to read is Here’s How This TV Show Should Make You Sad, or Videogames Are Made By Assholes, Maybe, and so instead, I dedicate December to a festival of fun stuff.
Now, that means this month is going to be about trying to put forwards people who don’t qualify by my normal metrics as Game Pile or Story Pile candidates. It isn’t to say they’re not good, mind you. I try to avoid putting people making non-commercial or extremely indie work on the same platform as work that is, in no small part because it seems unfair to compare people with a marketing budget to people with none.
The aim is going to be stuff you can enjoy with minimal expenditure or cost, stuff that’s good for sharing or good for binging, stuff that I feel grateful for in small and personal ways, and stuff that yes, unashamedly, puts forwards my friends.
Hope you have fun this month!
Quite frankly, I was very proud of myself this month. I wrote a lot of posts, I got caught up on my backlog, I have planning done for next year, and along with that I also wrote some articles that seemed to hit it off with an audience.
First, the worldbuilding articles about orcs and elves, where I discuss the ways I’m choosing to make these two races different from one another and not have to shoulder the idea of being Human Subraces (in a way racists point to as meaningful). I also wrote about Races of Destiny, an article that’s been in the can for a while now about kind of reviewing one of the many 3.5 sourcebooks and giving it a kicking for silly ideas. Of course the best D&D related article I did this month, and which I hope to make a series out of was this month’s How To Be, an article about being HIL-DA, HIL-DA!
I made an article about a truly absurd Atla Palani commander deck, which has been a lot of fun to playtest now I’ve got all the cards. I also put down some words about how much I liked A Wrinkle In Time, a movie of a book that I completely failed to know about until after I’d seen the movie.
Also, with this month I themed the Game Pile entries around ‘games I didn’t actually play,’ which resulted in articles about Skyrim yes, and venting about Doki Doki Literature Club, but also an article about Kingdom Hearts which has pushed me into the space of Kingdom Hearts fandom. It’s really weird to say but I think I’m technically a fan of Kingdom Hearts now, just because Jacqueline Meritt’s video is so good and the thing she loves is so bad. Look, what I’m saying is I can tell you what Norting is now. This also got me thinking about how gay fanfiction is the storytelling medium of a queer youth and how many people learned about sex from these sources, or at least, got an idea of it from these sources.
Basically, lots of articles I’m happy with this month!
This month’s video was about Skyrim. When it started out, this video was going to be about how controlling language was a key way that our cult controlled us, and therefore, there were some ideas like bisexuality or asexuality or feminism that were themselves, blunted and hidden concepts, and how that sometimes that can lead to people having a magical recognition when they finally get acquainted with a word that explains some concept they didn’t know how to grapple with before.
What I wound up doing instead is a more broad vision of talking about language (and therefore, a bit more of Skyrim), and how the game uses its presentation of language to advance your character and transform the world. That’s really neat, and I managed to do it without just endlessly dunking on Skyrim for being eh.
This month, I should have released a Christmas shirt so you can get something that’ll work as a gift. I guess this will work if you have teachers in your life and they’re fed up with marking. You can get this design on Redbubble (in white text or black text) or on Teepublic (again, in white text or black text).
Games games games, well, we have four major notes about games this month.
First, this month my Nsburg tourism game, the Pipesm’n Conspiracy, was mentioned once more on Mail Time by Loading Ready Run:
That’s cool! I’m really hoping this means that next Desert Bus I might be able to (say) donate five or ten copies of the game to be distributed to other donors? That’s my aim. It seems to me best as a raffle prize. It’s a smol game!
Second, I was able to do a bunch of ‘mask’ prototypes for a few of my games! That’s where I get some cards, and scribble on them and I even shared some pictures of it, particularly for my game of feckless, useless Roman nobles, currently temporarily known as Desidia. Desidia is now at the state where I am so comfortable with the playtest, I can construct the game on the spot, which means after my testing, what I need to do is construct some playtest or print-and-play copies for my patrons. Which is cool! There’s also some work on this hero drafting game, which was poleaxed for a little bit as supergroup drama happened.
Third and finally, though, Fox did a bunch of work on some characters that are going to be a part of a thing for fans of LFG!
Now, on the personal life front, well… November is a month with Desert Bus in it, which I love, and the ceremonial rewatching of everything in desert bus that we missed, which I’m not quite so fan of because it eats a lot of time. It’s also exam and final assignment season, which means in the start of the month I have all my free time consumed by trying to gauge student work, double checking the work against one another, talking with other tutors, negotiating with myself about marks, about whether I’m doing the right thing by my students, about doing the right thing by the work, if I’m preparing them for the future, and also avoiding sounding too mean.
I legitimately worry if the way I mark students during the semester is too different to the end of the semester. My mid-semester marks are about guiding them to produce better work at the end of the semester, and then I have to look at what and how they’ve taken that on board. Which means they can get five posts of feedback telling them ‘hey, have you thought about or tried this?’ and then an end mark of ‘good grief, what is this.’
I worry I’m too mean! I worry about being mean. That worries me that I worry about that.
Anyway, it’s back onto the reading horse this month. Maybe a little break for crimmus stuff, but broadly, I expect to be doing more daily reading and writing, which is great because I like doing those things and it’s one of the things my patreon subscribers are paying me for.
This month however, I did have an answer for everyone who asked how I was doing: I’m tired. I’ve been tired all month. I haven’t been sleeping great, or enough. I haven’t been doing things to help me recover. And I’ve been feeling so bad at how bad a job I’ve been doing at being a friend because of it.
And with that, spooky month draws to a close! Well, then, what happened during?
This month’s blog posts had a sort of mini-event feel to it. I’d planned to play some horror videogames and watch some horror movies and mostly found myself unhappy with the results, but I did get to finally put my thoughts out there on the fantastically terrifying Tickled.
I did a series of posts about me and my own experiences with trauma; stories about the first time I drowned, stories about the histories of serial killers and stories about the relationship I have to horror. Most importantly, though there was my reflection on the way ‘God’s Vengeance’ is more horrible and horrifying than anything a reasonable person would conceive of.
I didn’t wind up making a deep dive video about Bloodborne. I think that I can still turn this article into a video, maybe for greater access, but the footage of Bloodborne I tried to record off my PS4 just wasn’t available, so that was a bummer. In the end, though, I feel that the article is really good in no small part because I think it’s worth calling out the way that games are forgiven their sins if they are deemed to have Proper Goodness.
Also, I finally sat down and told the story of Acephale in a way that’s suitably creepy!
After the blog posts, though we had my video on Blood, which was fun to record and also pretty quick. I like making these videos about games as I play them, with a certain degree of freedom to discuss. I think that I’d like to maybe try doing them on-and-off.
I’m also finding I have more video ideas than I have video article ideas. I’ll deal with the way the scheduling works in the new year, but for now there may be a bit more casual chat game videos coming up.
T-shirts! I made a pair of spooky designs for November, both based on the Hunter’s Mark from Bloodborne. I like them! The Hunter’s Mark is one of those bits of iconography I love from games and I really appreciate the subtle joke of ‘I’s in the ‘Inside’ being marked differently.
Games we didn’t get tons of work done on! I did a bunch of playtesting of games I had already underway, but this month has been heavily focused on teaching, which means a lot of my creative time is spent exploring things that my students might be interested in, so I can meaningfully comment on it.
And finally, personally? I have felt really tired and groggy this October, which means a lot of work I’d have gotten done just melted away in hours of playing picross in bed while I tried to muster the energy to stand up.
For the month of October, my Story Pile, Game Pile and general posting will be wound around the theme of dread month. And why dread? Because I needed a word that didn’t exclude things.
It’s not a horror month; criminal history and real world cult stuff isn’t really horror. It’s not a death month, because, well, death isn’t actually a universal element to the things that creep us out. And sometimes, there are things that are the aesthetic of ghosts and ghouls and scary things but isn’t actually very scary, because it’s being used to some other end.
This isn’t really about Halloween per se, though I’m going to ues it as an excuse. Halloween isn’t a thing here, not really – people trick or treat in the hopes of finding anyone who might have treats and the one or two kids that turn up at our place who actually are trick or treating, we give them all the candy. But Halloween does mean that y’all have been rocking haunted twitter avatars since early September, and who am I to waste an opportunity?
And so this month, we’re going to have creepy stuff, horrible stuff, threatening stuff and critical self-examination of my relationship to fear and, you know, maybe some of that cult stuff. And I’ll probably mention Hitler!
I knew, ahead of time, this month would not be full of bangers. It’s been a busy month, with time spent on marking student work and time spent on a major component of my PhD. That means that the month of September was just not a time for writing to be done, certainly not writing I wanted to do. I still met my goals and made sure that every day something got added to the queue, but in a month of intense, terrifying writing when dealing with confrontational unreceptive audiences, I still put out some articles I liked: My three pieces on Pokemon Go and my fondness for Gen 5 Pokemon, for example, my rip on Titans for being bad (it is bad, boom gottem), and the Pop Stars article that was necessary to set up making fun of an album cover.
Technically, this is a two-video month. I put up a video of me showing off a Minecraft base I made, but only one person saw that, so it’s a bit of an unrelated non-factor. The other video this month is a bit of a voice-overy one that wants to connect Speed Running, Algorithms, Big Data and Neoliberalism, so what better to do than talk over Mirror’s Edge?
This month is also my first time dealing with my new upload speeds from my new ISP, which has meant that suddenly I get a few extra days of time to work with video. This time around, thanks to these improved speeds, I was able to download another person’s video (and used it with permission, don’t worry), to make making this video a shitload easier. Rather than needing to capture the video myself, I can use games I’ve already played and didn’t record (like Mirror’s Edge, which I at first played almost ten years ago) and instead focus on the writing, knowing that there’s video on hand that can be available if I ask for it.
So hey, my infrastructure has improved and my videomaking has been able to improve with it.
I’ve also taken on some advice from Chris Franklin, aka Campster, who noted that an hour or two of video essay is pretty wasteful and self-indulgent, and I realised that I don’t need to make a video an hour long to convey some very important, interesting points. That gives us ten minutes to run over the idea of Platform Capitalism and Speedrunning, as told by Mirror’s Edge.
Anyway, this month’s shirt is this Byleth inspired pair of designs:
I’m not a Fire Emblem person, but I did watch as for a chunk of August and September just kinda seeing my friend network dissolve under the presence of a Fire Emblem game releasing. I made these shirts for no greater reason than I think the iconography on the chest of Byleth is kinda interesting, but after extracting them I gotta say it’s kind of a rip how boring the dude set is.
Game work, not much has happened, but it’s been a big month (see below), but it is now the time when I start working on some games for University. Which is going to be interesting because I don’t honestly know how this projects outwards going on. I have a plan but is it going to work? Who knows.
In my personal life, this has been a very demanding month in terms of my University time (where I have had to meet the needs of my PhD) and my family time. The backlog of articles this month got as low as twelve at one point, but it did get brought back up, and we should be good to go into October, a month with a theme.
You know how I write something every day?
Some of those things aren’t good enough to share. Some of them aren’t funny or interesting or engaging. Some of them are just a bit short. I know I’ve had my word counts creeping up this year – I mean, a thousand words is pretty typical. It’s weird, because as I write more, I find myself feeling obligated to do more research, and while that’s great for sinew, it does mean it’s a little hard to write anything light.
Here’s some stuff I didn’t write, or if I did write it, you can’t prove it.
- A full write-up of the Halflings from 3.5 D&D which mostly just rearranged sentences as I tried to make them sound interesting and couldn’t
- A review of Mirror’s Edge from 2009
- A short story about a tower being climbed by some adventurers, with the big twist being that the staircase was a screw that drove the tower down into the eart, to literally no meaningful end
- A short story about mind controlling chip tunes with a ‘but jake was a zombie!’ twist at the end
- An entire outline for a 3.5 Race book meant to focus on orcs and gnolls
- A review for ‘ozechoc’ an out-of-production chocolate milk powder
- Writing from back when I had to schedule caching youtube videos overnight
- A step by step guide to breaking the stat cap in Quest For Glory 2
- An autopsy of a supergroup collapse from almost ten years ago that nobody cares about any more
- A discussion of just how weird a human Mitt Romney is and why it’s supremely weird that he’s taken seriously
- A long list of insulting things I’d called Tony Abbott in one pre-discord group chat
- Spreadsheets for organising superhero powersets
- New spreadsheets for ensuring an interesting gender spread across different character roles
- An analysis of the 4th Edition D&D characters I’d played in weekend games and their comparative threat value
- A bunch of posts that just talk about how great my dog is
Sometimes, you gotta clean out the cobwebs.
With August over, it’s also the end of Magic Month and it’s time to look at how that worked out.
I am pretty unhappy with the way Magic Month played out, because while I was able to find a bunch of youtube resources on the subject that I enjoyed, a number of them went away over time, meaning I had to pull articles that were originally going to point to wonderful tutorials. I also just couldn’t find that many games that related to magic, the kind of magic I wanted to, and that meant the game pile games kind just wound up being about how hard it is to do magic in the first place. In games, it’s much easier to just fake stuff.
I don’t think Magic Month was a total bust, though: I still loved getting to talk about Ace Attorney: Apollo Justice, and my article on Thimble Riggers and the challenges of dealing with people who believe in actual, real ghosts. Also, I did some writing about a character from City of Heroes, which was unexpectedly popular. The world building is the main reason I shared it.
Every attempt I had to make a video this month kinda fell through. I have one more trick up my sleeve, but at least for now, enjoy this last half of my previous video – playing out a very conservative The Swindle.
But then, at the last minute, I finally concocted a solution! It was pretty intimidating, but it also taught me a tool I can use and hey, that’s part of why I’m so dedicated to using this video software. Process, right? Anyway, that means I made a second video this month, about the card game Solitaire:
This month’s shirt was born out of the most basic spite – I told my class I’d get this shirt, and so, I made it.
If the subject outline is unclear, tell me how, tell me where. I want to make good subject outlines! I want them to have the information in them that you need that we don’t have to change!
Game work? Well, that’s been subsumed into the PhD this month, despite having a prototype game idea I’m working on. Keep an eye out for a thread on that.
This August has been also part of a major process for me in the PhD. There’s a part of the process known as the Research Progress Report, which is due for presentation in September, which means it needs to be done by August. This was a real work, because it was both building up enough words and then going back from too many words. There was a lot of reading and revising and struggling with a task and managing that task around the time I had to send it.
This is also a month where my backlog of written articles really dwindled – fact is, the RPR took a lot of my effort. Just straight up, it was more important than this blog. I was able to meet both demands, I didn’t miss anything – but I know that throughout these weeks, I have been focusing more on one thing than the other.
This may mean you get some more lists and popcorn style articles. Strangely, though, I’ve noticed a positive response to some of those! I know I’ve said in the past that listicles are a good structure to use, especially when learning how to do things, but I don’t do them very often. I think part of it is that I just don’t have many things I have lists of. I’m more inclined to do single deep dives on things.
Also, a key on my keyboard is failing. Can you guess which one?
I’ve found that this past year, the average length of blog posts have, according to WordPress’ stats, gone up. It used to be my blog posts were around 300 words per day, now they hover around 900. A modern professional blog can usually maintain that pace per author, and usually employs a rotating staff to make sure that hopper is always full.
Now, this is something I thought about, and wondered if I was saying more stuff, but I think the main thing that’s changed over time is not so much that I’ve been saying more stuff, but that I’ve been providing more context. Back when I started out, I had this feature I used quite a bit – ‘if I were Peter Molyneux’ based around writing fantastic game concepts to relate to puns. The idea was that if I had Peter Molyneux’s industry clout and could get nonsense games made on the strength of seeming visionary, I’d make a bunch of silly things that I could imagine being fun or cool.
That was fine, but you had to know who Peter Molyneux was, and why I titled the post that. You had to know what I thought of Peter Molyneux, and all that.
Now there’s a power to that, a freedom and a flexibility. It’s pretty cool – it expresses my voice. Maybe if I was using the blog to tell jokey jokes, it’s a good idea, but I tend to use twitter for that sort of short form. What I want this blog to do is to give meaningful context and process to people who don’t have access to that, and that means sometimes, the posts have to get big and sprawling to explain three or four related ideas.
At the same time, I don’t actually think it’s a good idea to keep going for a thousand words a day on this blog. Chris Franklin gave some useful advice about how anything that takes too long is either best reserved for a format that encourages deep readings (like books), or split up so the ideas are given their own foundational space. Three hours or fifteen minutes, I know what I’d rather use of your time.
No, not Magic: The Gathering. And honestly that would be harder. And kind of terrible?
This August, the theme is Magic, but not magic the way it normally works. I want to talk to you about stage magic, about attainable magic, about performers that play with expectation and with conception.
Now, here’s a thing to think about: Just how much stuff do I have to be paying attention to in the space of ‘stage magic nonsense’ that when confronted with things I want to spend a month talking about in bits and pieces, how much of a complete dork am I that I thought ‘oh hey! Stage magic! I notice a lot of things about stage magic!’
I mean when it comes to writing about magic, magic is in so many things I write about or care about, because magic – sorcery, wizardry, that nonsense, is all about the direct manipulation of the human body and the mind and things like ‘expressing wants as powers.’ That’s all nonsense, though, that’s magic, which is interesting in its own way, but it’s nothing compared to the challenges of stage magic, which is magic that has to simultaneously be human executable while also being seemingly not.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to start talking about how-to guides and breakdowns of things that I am absolutely not qualified to talk about. Instead, I want to talk to you about the real and the magical and the ways we tell stories around things that you perceive as real, and the ways that we are fooled. There’s a long history of the seemingly impossible, and how it has been a useful, important thing in my life.
And hey, I need to make sure you don’t ever think I’m not a massive dork.
July’s over! Yay!
This month’s had quite a lot of that good Tabletop Gaming Content, with posts about The 3.5 Book Of Vile Darkness, about the process of making a game like Halls In the Mark, the way that D&D gatekept through complexity in Owlbear Traps, the view of violence in Vampire: The Masquerade. Far and away, though, the most popular article of this month has been The Dwarves Wrote The Histories, where I talk about the way that dwarf mechanics in 3.0 and 3.5 D&D paint an unspoken one-sided history. Also popular was The Dragon As State, where I talk about how dragons represent things and we can use that in stories.
This month’s video is half of a two-parter; I plan on uploading the other half next month, because even if it’s not in-theme, it’s still a thing I started, so I want to finish it. One of the problems with this kind of content is that I know it’s not very high demand compared to things like the Meatpunk and Heterotopia essays, but it’s much, much easier to make by comparison, and it’s good practice for free speaking, instead of scripted stuff.
Now, part of this is a function of how much of my writing time is dedicated to the big job of my uni work these past two months. That’s going to change a bit but not as much as you might think.
This month’s shirt, UWUNIONISE is a tribute in part to my friend who is very squishy and lovely but also extremely good and tough, and the plight of the tech worker striving to unionise
This was the month of SMASHcon, which is an Australian anime convention that has nothing to do (inherently) with Super Smash Bros, but that didn’t stop all the questions I got being about that other con that’s a different time and in a different country. Great SEO from our parties, I guess.
That meant we got Con Prep into Con Crud. This month also saw writing on my PhD intensifying, and meetings about the next semester. It’s all been a bit of a blur, and my general mood has been pretty down. There’s been a lot of people who need someone, if only for a few minutes, and it’s been extremely wearying. Also, despite the fact I normally sleep better in winter, I just haven’t been getting to bed at good times this month.
Sorry, sometimes it just sucks.
I simplify talking about this blog as “I write something every day.” And I do that, generally speaking, but it’s not like what I write, every day, goes into this blog. For example, in May and June, I did a flag thread on twitter, which was a huge amount of research and work, and a lot of that work was writing work. That all got put onto twitter, and that work didn’t show up on the blog here.
Now, there was something that went up every day, because I made a backlog on my blog. I’m happy with that. This week – which is back in June – I have been sick. And like, surprisingly sick. One part of that has been difficulty sleeping, and difficulty composing complex thoughts. Bonus: This is the time I’m revising a most important part of my next stage of my PhD, which means if I have 12 points of brain-think each day, those 12 points are going to get used on my PhD, sorry, and that means nothing much else happens.
I’ve been trying to prioritise and one thing that that prioritising means is that at the end of the day, if I need an extra six hours of sleep, those extra six hours are going to happen before another blog post. Which does mean that now, as I start to feel better (he says, hoping), I need to climb back in to the backlog.
It’s easy to get the impression from me that I’m this endlessly productive super-beast, which I’m just not. I have my setbacks too. I’ve just set things up to make these things less obvious.
I know some of you are just starting out working on writing. It can be really scary to look at what other people are doing, and think they’ve always got on top of it, they’re always fine. I’m not fine right now. I’m not producing as much or as easily as I want to be. And now I am recovering.
The theme months are proving to be really challenging – so far the only month that’s felt easier for having a theme is April, where I got to voice basically whatever I wanted and gave myself license to be a bit mean or spiteful. This time around, Pride month has been a challenging time of finding things to talk about that weren’t The Same Thing over and over.
Still, there were some articles I was proud of; I liked my piece on the Stunticons, I liked musing about queer mechanics, and I spent a bunch of time considering just what I meant by ‘queer media,’ too. I liked my review of Billionaire Banshee, and so did its creator! My feelings are still up in the air about the huge post about Final Fantasy Crysal Favela Nibilis, but I’ll give it this: I had to do a lot of research to make it happen.
The video this month was a lot of fun to do. I didn’t want to make it so simply, but thanks to coordinating time and audio needs, here’s what we got: Fox and Talen talking about character design and the dateability of various Planeswalkers in War of the Spark based on their Japanese art!
Shirts, well it was a big month for shirts. Without filling this post up with a bunch of pictures, I’m just going to link to the many different shirts I made this month. Something I did this month that I’m pretty proud of is a giveaway contest; I gave stickers and shirts away this month, for each of the shirt designs I released.
What effect did this have? I have no idea. Hopefully it’s good, but I don’t really know. I like these designs, and I kind of wish they were being bought more, but I also recognise that not many people have a lot of money to spend on Redbubble shirts.
Game work this month has been bored in with a laser-like focus on my PhD work. Sorry, folks. It’s been getting some partial inference – I’ve been playing this little Carthage game idea. There are also some more pieces on Hunter’s Dream going up in the next month, which are a bit more long-form and detailed about problems and solutions.
In my personal life? This month has been really weirdly difficult. Not difficult because I’ve been experiencing pain or trauma, or anything in particular has been really impacting me? But I haven’t been getting sleep, and I haven’t been productive. My backlog this month has dipped down to as few as 24 articles ahead. There were numerous days when my PhD readings were all I could manage to do, and I don’t know why.
I think I might just be really sad in a weirdly generic way. I don’t know what to do about it.
One thing that I did this month was mark my students’ final dossiers, and you know what? Students are really good. I keep saying it, but it is still something that makes me smile. I’m lucky, my students are in a position where mostly they don’t have to try and fool me into thinking they did or get something they didn’t. We don’t do exams or quizzes the way that other subjects have to; the project they make is about demonstrating to me in a clearly communicated way what they did and what they’ve learned. Every time I do this, I find it so rare to find a student who was blowing it off. I even had one student who tried to blow it off, but they got caught up in their project, they focused on what it meant, and suddenly they’re producing this insightful study! It’s great!
Also, this month – and May – I did a flag thread that took most of my nights, and it wasn’t that fun to do. It was a lot of work and a lot of the content was very generic, so I felt like I wasn’t doing a good job.
I don’t have any smart or clever addition here? I’m just… really tired. And I want to be honest about it.
The month of the sin I’m probably the worst at, it’s Pride Month!
I don’t know how clear it is when this blog posts go up and are removed from context, but I don’t feel like I make a big deal of whatever queerness I have. I mean hell, I just referred to it as ‘whatever queerness I have.’ Like, I’m really reluctant, even with the way ‘gay pride’ has been so uselessly broadened, to think I belong in ‘the gay community’ or refer to myself as any kind of ‘gay.’
Still, I am a bisexual dude, and while I talk about media from queer perspectives time to time, I am not just giving information based on reading and listening, but also from my own experience.
This month I am going to write about Queer Media, I’m going to try and foreground some Queer Games, going to make some more Pride-related shirts, and maybe talk some about queer takes on non-queer media, and what ‘Queer Media’ even means. I’ll try to keep a lid on this, try not to get too overtly and ridiculously salty.
Once again, I promise I will not talk about Undertale, Steven Universe or She-Ra. I dunno, maybe if someone wants those takes, they’ll pay for them.
- Blog posts
This month’s blog posts featured a few ideas I was glad for the practice to do; I took to my old D&D setting, Cobrin’Seil, and went over the names in that space and the way we talk about the characters and nations there (parts 1, 2, 3, 4). I also tried more rapid-fire Story Pile videos, which I liked a lot because there were plenty of things I’d watched that had maybe a bit of a point to them, but which definitely didn’t warrant a larger article (parts 1, 2, 3, and 4).
Independently of these sets, I also made this piece on the remoteness of a storyteller in a videogame, which evokes the same basic problem of the self-driving car. I also put together a thesis about normality, or normality in game, and how I want to work for it and work towards it. I also touched on a weird thing in Game Studies, where Wittgenstein comes up a lot.
The video this month hit our first irreperable problem! The original video is still going to happen, but since it failed, I instead put this together in a rush:
This month’s shirt is this absolute banger:
This month saw Comic-Gong happen, and with that came out two new games – Hook, Line & Sinker and Freight Expectations! These games will be going up on the invincible ink website soon, and there’s a print-and-play version of Hook, Line, & Sinker over on my patreon for you if you wanna check it out!
Another cool thing about the game work is… something… I can’t… talk about. But it’s cool! Trust me, it’ super cool! Here’s hoping it works out.
We had an election. It didn’t go well.
I feel like this month whipped by especially quickly, perhaps because I had so many deadlines I was desperately trying to manage. It was however, lots of fun to do, and I want to do this kind of thing, give myself this kind of freedom more often.
I knew going in that this month, as the month I gave my self permission to be salty and let out some topics that’d been cooking for a while, I’d have some corkers ready to go.
First of all we have the steadily brewing article tackling the idea that Gacha games directly map onto Magic: The Gathering that led to a host of articles last year about how corrupt and dangerous and bad Magic: The Gathering was, and wasn’t it like making children gamble? This is a position that’s pretty widespread amongst the so-called intellectuals of the gaming space and so I finally let some of those thoughts out. Since the article was written, nobody has come around to really argue with me on it, so I guess I’m right, and that means the whole conversation is done.
I also went in to the elbows on Exalted, a game that disappoints me as a game and disappoints me as a setting, but in some fascinating and strangely damaged way I can’t help but see the game it wishes it was and I wish it was that game, too. I first described the game at core, then went in on the Content Warning Fest that was the Infernals.
I also needed to invent a term, Narrative Adventure, to describe the category of all those games that reach from Zork through to Bandersnatch, so I wrote a long-form article about it that was, once, going to be a video, but editing together so many different videos seemed a bit of a bore and I wanted something easy this month. Maybe I’ll go back and turn that article into a video essay.
Here’s my second attempt at play-and-talk gameplay. This one took some work – I actually recorded about seven versions of this video, because each of them was a different exercise in mic levels and trying to not sound moist. Still, this type of video is really fun to do.
Don’t worry, I don’t intend to go on like this endlessly! If I get more comfortable with this model, and get more subjects and games to play, I might do more of this. Any requests?
I did a fair few shirts this month but the focal ones, the ones I consider ‘this month’s’ shirts are my Etoile Island sports team shirts which conspicuously tell Nerva and Grandville to get stuffed and also kind of disrespect Booty Bay.
Hey, I finished up Hook, Line & Sinker! I got to place an order for it! I also finalised the printing for my shipping (as in boats!) game, Freight Expectations, and I wrote a bit about that and how to write a rulebook using Unit Operations.
Also, this month, I put out a set of articles explaining the translation of game design from the videogame Bloodborne to my 4th edition game expansion, Hunter’s Dream. You can check them out: Parts 1, 2, and 3.
As I’m writing this paragraph, it’s a week before my birthday, and I’m making decisions about how to handle a document that needs to be done by the end of the month, and orders for a convention that’s happening at the mid point.
The thing is? The way things feel right now, I kind of feel like I won’t have anything interesting to say about my personal life this April. It’s a full schedule. I wake up, I read and I write, I go to uni to teach, I come home, I write for the blog. It’s a time when I need to keep myself focused so there’s not that much going on in my life.
I did however get news this month that wonderfully, my friend’s daughter can now, if put on her belly, drag herself around in a circle. That’s super cool.
It’s easy to make bigger things into smaller things.
Sometimes when I talk about a movie or a book or a tv series I’ll do it in a way that makes the content of that thing pretty insignificant to some other point I want to make. You don’t learn a damn thing about how to play Hyrule Warriors from me, but if you read the book you know some fundamental postmodern theory. In that, a big idea is crunched down into a smaller thing.
This has presented an awesome and dreadful problem for writing about two things I wanted to write about this month. First, the Animorphs series, a set of 64 books published over 7 years, and which mean an awful lot to me. It would be hard, if not impossible, for me to write an article about that series without discarding the enormity of what that series means to me. Animorphs is, to me, a very important series of books, and the importance of them involves a lot of quietly glossing over, let’s say, weaker bits, and the Very Different Time.
But if Animorphs is too big to talk about in one article, there is a vastness to the impact on my life of the work of Terry Pratchett. It is an embarassment perhaps to those of you who believe people shouldn’t be getting valuable life lessons from young readers’ books about gnomes and wizards, but I owe an enormous amount of my actual human character, the metaphors for my own existing to the work of this man. Do I discuss every book, one by one? That’s too much for a month – hell, the task of rereading every Pratchett book over the course of a year asks for a book a week, which is a pretty heavy task.
I could have filled this month with my favourite Pratchett books. With weeks of discussion of the Animorphs. But even then, doing that would feel, in a weird way, like a waste. They deserve more and better. They deserve to be enjoyed and approached without being a way to understand me. These works are, in my mind, a sort of holy writ: Not because they were rendered by the divine, but because they were so clearly not, and they gave me tools I needed to make me.
We’ll talk about some Pratchett stuff this month. I couldn’t not. But narrowing it down to two Pratchett books to talk about would be a hard task, to give you perspective on this.
Funny-odd not funny-haha but maybe funny-snort-through-the-nose-at-the-momentary-irony is that the role of someone who shows you the big things in small things is sort of the purpose of this blog. There are so many huge interesting things out there and so often we hide them from ourselves and think they have no relevance or interest to our lives. It is not even that I am capable of doing this to everything, or that I should be your font for all lineages of the vast, it’s just that I love to do it, love to show the vast in the small like it’s a kind of personal magical trick.
And when I sit down and seriously talk to myself about the excellent, the truly wonderful work that I love so much I cannot help but share it, I find myself lost.
There is simply too much that is too good.
Since my birthday falls in April, this month’s theme, for our Story Pile and Game Pile is going to be me-centric media. Expect this month to be full of stuff that matters to me, things that I’m talking about because I want to talk about them, and for some reason or another I’ve chosen not to.
How’s that different than normal? Surely everything I put on this blog is out there because I wanted to. Not really: There’s a bunch of stuff I haven’t written about, because I think it’s a bit too niche, a bit too specific, or reveal or relate to something really specific about myself. This isn’t like Decemberween, where I spend a month non-stop listing good things I like and hope you will try. This is going to feature some of the awkward faves or the painful drags, times when I take a game I have a beef with to task, or maybe talk about how a tv series handles fascist cults from the perspective of someone who’s been in one.
Last year, I did an in-depth read of the Infinity Engine games I loved, and in the process talked about modding communities, and the way Planescape Torment informed my development and maturity.
Expect something like that.
And we’re going to look at some stuff that’s ugly. Some stuff that may not uplift you or may not make you happy, and which I would normally leave alone because it exposes too much of me, of who I know I am.
That said, here’s a real quick lightning round. You may be afraid I’m going to go in on any of these topics this month, and you might have to avoid my blog for fear of Dealing With These Topics, I have no intention of talking about Undertale and its associated media, The World Ends With You, or the New She-Ra. Maybe if someone wants to pay me to write about those topics, I will, but for now, I think these topics just aren’t generally interesting enough to warrant the potential emotional harm that my (admittedly sensitive?) readership want.
I will try to CW some stuff this month, but broadly, if you like Ranty Talen or Talen On His Bullshit, this month is going to try and be that. A month to give myself permission to kick things I like down the stairs and not worry too much about anyone being over-sensitive about But What If Talen Says A Mean Thing About A Videogame I Bought.
Curse this smarch weather!
Oh Mercy Me, we’re all outta February!
This isn’t the kind of thing I wanted to do for Smooch Month, but I figure it’d be just a kind of lie if I wasn’t willing to admit it. Finding stuff to Story Pile for Smooch Month has been really hard.
Normally when I approach a topic it’s easy enough to start because I want to talk about things I find interesting. That means I have things already in mind for interest. If I wanted to talk about overrated RPGs, for example, I’d think ‘are there any games I think are bad but are critically acclaimed, oh, TWEWY, FFT and Undertale and that’s most of a month’s content done right there, no problem.’ When it comes to Smooch month though, I explicitly wanted to get out of my comfort zone.
Part of why is because I don’t watch a lot of smoochy media, because it mostly makes me unhappy, or reminds me of being unhappy. There was a time in my life, I, no joke, seriously sat on the verge of tears because of an anime opening theme subtitle, and the series it was from was DearS, which, if you don’t know it, good. It’s bad. Don’t watch it. It’s real real bad. Avoid it. Anyway, the point is, the times in my life when ‘romantic’ media hit me the hardest were some supremely messed up times, and that meant I responded to some dreadful garbage, movies that today I think of as actively bad, things that spoke to a person I’m not any more, and am supremely grateful that I’m not.
That meant that I’m both starting pretty fresh and, since ‘boy grouses about genre he doesn’t like’ is supremely dull, I wanted to take the chance to watch some Smooch Media that I could both talk about and maybe connect people to their new favourite thing but also broaden my tastes and horizons.
First I asked friends. I got some good suggestions, but not things I could use – Australian Netflix and Stan, after all. I wanted to avoid anything that needed shipping to make it good – so the Tangled series was right out, even though I like it a lot. I wanted to avoid movies that treated their audience like they were stupid, which meant a lot of rom-coms I knew were gone (Sarah Michelle Gellar has starred in some bunk). I also didn’t want to just watch action movies that had a romance in them, because it felt like cheating. No. This was about Smooch Media! That’s when I started looking at lists online, google searching ‘good romantic movies,’ and, well, that’s when I ran into the maw of the algorithm.
Did you know Kristen Stewart’s done a Tragic Lesbians Movie About Theatre? I did. It’s called Clouds of Sils Maria. Not going to talk about it here, it’s depressing as hell and is really more about the transient nature of fame and the disposable vision of women. How about Snow White And the Huntsman? Well, that’s an action film, and it’s really bad too, which is maddening because how hard can it be to make Snow White not garbage? Also didn’t write about Blue is the Warmest Colour because it’s really steamy and gay and that makes me really uncomfortable and exploitative. I read all of My Dragon Girlfriend, too which is also super steamy and gay, and that made me feel even more intrusive because it wasn’t a multimillion dollar international production. Mixed in amongst all these movies and series, though, there were all these things that the Algorithm thought I’d like, things like thrillers and horror movies and suspense movies which were all masquerading as Smooch movies, with the general message of Maybe Don’t.
This subject has been really hard to cover! And part of that is that when you ask the internet about ‘romantic media’ you get ten thousand answers that aren’t very helpful.
Smooches are pretty cool.
They’re not a universal positive; not everyone is pro-smooch, and not everyone is interested in smooching media.
It used to be that there were two things I had to remember in February: Valentines’ Day, and my grandmother’s birthday, the day beforehand. But Fox and I don’t really do Valentines’ day, and my grandmother passed away last year, which means that now, for me, February is a sort of nonspecific month of romance.
I was tempted to do a silly ‘romantic universes’ themed month, and maybe you’ll see that come up (that’s a teaser, folks). Still, I considered whether or not I should check out my lineup of loved media, of games I’d been meaning to play, to see if I could see a thread of games or media about people doin’ smooches in a fun and sexy way, and I was kinda despairing to notice that I largely did not. In fact, of my very small collection of Actually Bought Permanent Media (like, DVDs and stuff), I owned almost nothing you could consider a proper romantic movie or series.
That seemed, to me, like a fine time to take the bull by the horny. This February, we’re going to talk about games and media that falls under the broad common heading of romances. And no silly buggers: I’m not going to cover Shrek Cart and talk about it in the context of how it’s technically about a romance because Fiona existed in a movie.
Buckle up! You’re going to get to see an awkward bisexual dude with a wonky dating history talk about games and shows with cute people in them, and the Vicarious Smooch-Want those media are going to try and instil in us.
The ending of a month and the time to reflect on what was made in that month. How’s 2019 shaping up so far?Continue Reading →
2018 I set down some achievable goals, and I met them mostly. There were some complications with some of it, but I largely feel I met the goals. Particularly the largest, hardest goals were met.
So here’s this year’s clear, distinct, achievable goals.
- One t-shirt design a month.
- Daily blog posts, with weekly entries for:
- a Game Pile article, on (my) Monday mornings
- a Story Pile article, on (my) Friday mornings
- One video a month, released near the 20th.
There’s not going to be Magic articles this year, at least not on a regular schedule and I’ll go into why later in the week. I intend to make each month themed, maybe with a description of what the theme is at the start of the month, but we’ll see. You might notice there’s also not a monthly game release, too, and we’ll get into why on Patreon.
Now, off the blog there are going to be a few commitments throughout the year that I already expect. The biggest one is my PhD needs what’s called an RPR – Research Progress Report. RPR is basically a stand-up presentation where I stand in front of a room full of my peers, my PhD Supervisor, other academics in the field, my sub-supervisor, and try to justify the past two years of reading lots of books and talking about board games.
It is terrifying.
Just imagine standing up in front of a room full of people tacitly asking the question well who do you think you’re fooling. And everyone in that room is an expert and it’s going to be awful. That is the big thing this year, study wise. Maybe that’ll effect the schedule on the blog, we’ll have to see!
Last year had high-productivity points and low-productivity points. Right now as I write this the future log is only 15 articles long; throughout 2018 there were points where it was 60 posts, which I don’t mind – after all, I like being able to take some days off. Still, this year is going to feature a lot of reading and writing that doesn’t get to go on this blog, and we’ll see how that works out.