The Hugo Rules for Fanzines need to be adjusted


John Scalzi’s latest blog post got me thinking – and this started off as a comment, but became a little too long for a comment, so I started to take it Tumblr… until it became too long for Tumblr, so I’m taking it here.

One of the support levels of my Patreon gets you a print copy of my fanzine. However, as of this writing I haven’t put out a new issue, because… well… I don’t have any cover art. I have the issue written, with the main article being a big piece breaking down the “Nasu-verse”, but before I put it out – I also wanted to get some cover art that reflected the topic – ideally of Saber, and in particular something that showed her as an active co-protagonist as opposed to cheesecake.

Except the artists I’ve contacted have not responded back, and I can’t blame them – because I can’t pay them. Not because I have no money… but because under the rules of the Hugo Awards, to remain classified as a Fanzine, I can’t pay them. Continue reading → The Hugo Rules for Fanzines need to be adjusted

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Editorial: Thoughts on Trump’s Video Game Violence Conference


Kotaku has reported that the Trump administration held a conference at the White House of industry executives and various “Think of the Children” groups like the US PTA about violence in video games in the wake of the most recent school shooting. Now, for the past 8 or so years, this had been a settled issue, since the Supreme Court ruling in Brown vs. EMA ruled that video games were an artistic medium and thus could be art, and in turn the 1st Amendment applied to them. Continue reading → Editorial: Thoughts on Trump’s Video Game Violence Conference

Editorial: State of the Patreon


Hello everyone,

This year was my first year in a while where I had no Patreon backers. The backers who I did have previously decided that their funds were better used elsewhere, and considering world events at the time they dropped out, I couldn’t argue with that. I can’t particularly argue with that anyway – your money is your money. However, going a year with no backers got me thinking that perhaps I could do more to provide more for my backers, so I’m making some changes to my support levels.

If you’re already a $5 backer, by this point you’ll notice that you’ve also been getting copies of my written reviews about a week in advance. That’s going to stay a common thing going forward. Since a lot of the reviews I’ve been doing (outside of Nintendo Power Retrospectives episodes) have been adaptations of earlier reviews for video, this gives you even more of a head start.

On top of this, starting in January (with either my second video or my first video, depending on how I’m able to wrangle the Youtube back end), all of my future videos will get uploaded with their privacy setting set to “Unlisted” instead of “Scheduled/Private”. This means that Patrons at the $5 level will get episodes up to 1 week early (concert and film vlogs will be made available when the episode is uploaded).

As far as my Let’s Plays go, currently the archives for the LP are stored on YouTube as “unlisted” – and from there I take my copy, chop it up into reasonably sized pieces, and upload those onto my YouTube channel. For backers who would like to see these earlier, which would you prefer: getting the YouTube archive its entirety, uncut (and at its full length), or would you prefer it cut into more manageable pieces for easier viewing?

Currently I’m not putting that much work into editing them, mainly for the interests of time, as only have a couple days a week to do recording and editing at present (the rest of the week – when I’m not at work – is spent on the Nintendo Power Retrospectives). If backers show enough of an interest, I can put more time upgrading the presentation on these. With the time I have available, I can probably do presentation on par with the videos on Gopher’s channel.

Is there a perk that get you to back my Patreon? What level would you be more willing to pay for some of the existing support levels? Please let me know in the comments and I’ll take it under consideration for future adjustments to my perks.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

 

A bunch of random thoughts related to discussion coming up around the closure of Irrational Games


What bugs me about people who rip into the stories of games which try to tell good, interesting stories but fail (at least in the eyes of the people doing the ripping), like, for example, Bioshock Infinite, is that the language used to mock the games often comes in the form of saying “Games can’t tell good stories, why should you try?”

Not that they’re saying games can’t be art – they know that games can be art, and often the people saying these things want more games to be art. However, dismissing the narrative of the Bioshock games as being too simplistic or too trite or playing with the players heartstrings too much is a bit like making fun of little league baseball players because they’re not hitting home runs like the pros. They may get there someday, they may not – but what good can mocking them for trying do?

If you really, really want better video game stories, then signal out the people who do what you want to see for praise, and if someone does something wrong, don’t just mock their decisions, talk about why it didn’t work for you.

I can’t code well enough to work on a AAA, but I can tell when a story works, and when it doesn’t and if it doesn’t work I can tell why. Hell, depending on why the story doesn’t work, I can tell you what it would take to fix it.

Shifting the topic somewhat – games like EVE Online and DayZ aren’t “fixing” game stories, or “telling” better game stories. People are using those games to tell interesting stories, sure, but describing them as the future of game storytelling (as I got the impression Patrick Klepek​ was kind of alluding to in his discussion of the Irrational Games closure with Alex Navarro), is at best erroneous. EVE Online and DayZ aren’t telling game stories to or with players – they’re giving them handycams and a box of props. At best the cameras will get used to make some interesting stories, sure. However, the difference is that EVE Online and DayZ have the added “feature” of facilitating a kind of electronic “happy slapping” that games like Dragon Age, Bioshock, Final Fantasy, The Elder Scrolls or other more single player, narrative driven games can’t really do.

There’s certainly a place for Minecraft and DayZ, and I don’t begrudge the people who enjoy those games the fact that they like them. However, I really don’t want the future of video games to be more games like that.

One last thing – if Ken Levine’s plan is to make games like The Way Z with his smaller, leaner team, I find the fact that Shawn Elliot lost his job at Irrational Games because of this slightly ironic – at least to me. You see, back when Shawn was on the Games for Windows podcast, he liked to talk about how he enjoyed griefing people in video games. In particular, one incident that has permanently stuck out in my mind is one where he, and another host of the podcast discovered a Grand Theft Auto IV Multiplayer Role-Playing server.

Shawn and his friend found this example of emergent gameplay in a sandbox environment utterly hilarious, and decided to stomp all over everyone’s sandbox. They logged in, and went on a rampage until they were kicked. Then they posted on twitter about this, and got a whole bunch more people to go into the server and continue rampaging until, ultimately, the server was shut down. Mr. Elliot considered this a wonderful success. That even probably happened about 5-6 years ago, but I haven’t forgotten it, and it’s forever colored my impression of Mr. Elliot. And thus, while I feel bad for the other 184 other employees of Irrational Games who have lost their jobs because of the new creative direction that Ken Levine has decided to go in, I don’t feel bad for Shawn Elliot.

With Shawn Elliot, at least, the bully has gotten his just desserts.

A long awaited update


I’ve been swamped with schoolwork lately, but I do want to give this quick update: I have a fanzine up on eFanzines.com, which you can read here.

This is a quarterly fanzine, so the next issue should come out in January.

Editorial – Harlan Ellison’s Lawsuit


This week, I’m going a little more topical with my videos and discussing a current event – Harlan Ellison‘s attempt to stop the release of the film In Time.

[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/AYLTvCUA width=”1280″ height=”750″]

Commentary on Frontline: News War


Get Frontline: News War from Amazon.com
Get "Frontline: News War" from Amazon.com

So, I don’t have one of my standard reviews for you this time. I’ve watched another Frontline documentary series, titled “News War” which covers the state of American Journalism… only with the last installment, it kind of changes tack with an episode of Frontline: World which aims to put things in perspective with the state of foreign journalism. This is fine and all, but I wrote a bunch of great stuff in my physical journal while I was watching the first four installments that I don’t want to totally change my tack. Yeah, being flexible is good, but I had some commentary to make, and the discussion of the episode on foreign doesn’t necessarily reflect it. Further, to a certain degree, the episode has been rendered somewhat obsolete based on how citizen journalism in the Middle East (specifically, Iran) changed how the media in general (not just American media) handles the news. So, moving on…

The Premise: The state of American Journalism is in what can lightly be described a crisis. More and more newspapers are laying off reporters, the Bush Administration was manipulating the media like a puppeteer to justify the War in Iraq, and when the media didn’t dance to their tune the Administration retaliated directly, through legal action (or threat of legal action), and through castigation by through right-wing pundits like those on Fox News. This documentary tries to figure out how things got this way, and possibly how to fix things. Continue reading → Commentary on Frontline: News War

Interview with Ralph Baer at Retromags


Normally, I don’t do much in terms of blog posting on my weekends, instead preferring to take the time to kick back, relax, and get some serious gaming done (as opposed to gaming for work). However, I came across this little update on Retromags.com. It’s an interview with Ralph Baer, who worked on the development of the Magnavox Odyssey and Simon. You can find the article here, and I encourage all of you to give it a read and enjoy it.

Quick update about posting schedule


As you who have been reading my blog for some time have probably been aware, I normally do my EGM updates on Sunday, Nintendo Power Recap on Monday, a Quality Control for the Nintendo Power issue on Tuesday, a Gamepro Recap on Wednesday, and then possibly another Quality Control on Friday.

I’m going to bump this back a day, to give myself a bit more of a weekend, and a more standard working schedule. You’ll still be getting my updates, I’ll just pushing things back a little bit for a more reasonable schedule.

The Handly Case – This Is How Liberty Dies (or is at least Badly Wounded)


One of the news stories I’ve been following recently is The Handly Case, which is an obcenity case in Iowa – the state which was sufficently progressive enough to legalize gay marrage (an act I support), involving Christopher Handley for posessing recieving child porn – in the form of a Hentai (porn) Manga (or Japanese comic book) containing sex involving people who are underage.

I’m not going to defend Lolicon here. For starters, Lolicon isn’t my thing – and in any case, if the material was prosecuted as being obcene for an entirely different reason (bondage material) that still wasn’t my thing, it’d be hard to defend it – because it’s hard to defend a kink that’s not yours, especially to a someone who doesn’t have that kink (and besides, if they already have that kink, you don’t need to defend it to them). I’m going to refrain at this time from going into my kinks anyway because they’re irrelevant (and if you really care what they are, you can post a comment and ask – this doesn’t mean that I’ll answer, but I’m not getting into them in this blog post).

I’m also not going to get into the free speech reasons why this case is bad, because, frankly, Neil Gaiman did it better than I possibly good. I strongly encourage you to Neil’s post, because it’s excellently well written, and explains why you can’t slack off in the defense of free speech – because unfortunately, if you let icky speech be outright banned in a particular medium (video games, comics, film, etc.) it becomes easier to ban speech you support. This doesn’t mean you can’t marginalize certain types of icky speech (hate speech, NAMBLA), but banning icky speech outright bad (note: I’m not defending actual photographed and filmed child porn as icky speech – a crime must be committed in its creation, thus making it by its nature illegal – though I find the prosecution over sexting absurd, but I’m digressing – just read Gaiman’s essay.) Continue reading → The Handly Case – This Is How Liberty Dies (or is at least Badly Wounded)

On Vacation – Sort Of


So, today I will leaving on my grand vacation. From today, Thursday, May 14th to the following Thursday, I will either be in Hawaii or on my way to/from Hawaii. Fear not, dear readers, for I have scheduled content to come up on the site on the course of my vacation, so you needn’t worry about 7 days of dead air. There may still be dead air on Saturday, but my Where I Read posts and my Quality Control posts will continue apace. Once I get back, and once I have some digital pictures I can put up, I’ll try to get a post togeather with an accounting of my vacation or something.