Disseminating the Fantastic

Like with my posts on the uncanny and the abject, I am here providing the raw text of my description of the fantastic, a literary genre described by Tzvetan Todorov in The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre. The fantastic (and Todorov) is extremely straightforward, but this particular theory is actually key to the work that I’ve been doing. As such, I may have spent a bit more time describing it than needs be, but I want to make sure everything is clear (something you can help me with). In any event, here is the text of the final theory being described by my thesis.

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Disseminating Abjection

As in my last post, I am trying to make sure that my thesis writing is accessible to a wider audience. Since psychoanalytic theories are difficult to grasp without a psychoanalytic background, I am doing my best to distill texts down to meaning. This time, it is for Julia Kristeva’s concept of the abject, as described in Powers of Horror. Kristeva can be more difficult to understand than Freud, so I have tried to be redundant in my description of the abject. Although it is not required, the following text will have expected you to have read the previous passage on the uncanny.

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Trash: A Story of Uncertainty – Postmortem

Last week, I participated in Mini Ludume Dare 53. A mini Ludum Dare is a much more relaxed version of the full version, and it usually has some specialized rules. The number of entrants are usually much reduced (this one spawned 63 entries). In the case of Mini Ludum Dare 53, the rules were quite the same as a regular Ludum Dare (make a game in 48 hours with readily available tools). I chose to participate in the mini LD mostly because I’m moving next month right after the full Ludum Dare event, and I wouldn’t have the time to participate then.

For this mini LD, I made a game called Trash: A Story of Uncertainty [download link]. What follows is my postmortem, a look at how I made the game and what I was trying to portray with the game. As with all of my postmortems, if you haven’t played the game, then reading further will completely spoil everything that the game offers, so if you haven’t played the game, read on at your own risk.

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What We Make Will Be Interpreted

Today, Nintendo issued an apology to its fans about not including same-sex marriage as a possibility in the game Tomodachi Life. This is essentially the end of a journalism and marketing snafu that started last year and has been bubbling on the internet for a few weeks now, since the announcement of the game’s release outside of Japan. I’m going to give a very brief description of the events that transpired, but I’m not going to go into detail. If you want that, Christian Nutt has written a very good article about what happened and why it’s important. Please see his article if you want to know more. It started with some Japanese players making opposite sex Miis in Tomodachi Collection: New Life and making them look like the same sex so that they could marry, which was misconstrued due to a bad translation that the game included same-sex marriage and that this was a bug that Nintendo intended to patch out. The game never included same-sex marriage and it wasn’t removed, but because of the bad translation and rumormongering, Tomodachi Life was on everyone’s radar. So when it was announced for western release in April, a petition spawned to have Nintendo include same-sex marriages as a point of equality, to which Nintendo offered a response, which was received very poorly. Two days after the response, was when Nintendo issued their apology and pledged to make future Tomodachi games more inclusive, stating that they could not retroactively redesign the game to allow same-sex marriages. That’s about all I’m going to say about the situation. Again, if you want a more in-depth look at the issues here, take a look at Christian Nutt’s Gamasutra piece. He explains it better than most I’ve seen. Instead I’m going to talk about something that comes from Nintendo’s first response: “Nintendo never intended to make any form of social commentary with the launch of ‘Tomodachi Life.'” This is going to be about understanding what happens when you make something and put it out there.

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Coversations With Game: Abdication of Design

The following is a conversation that I witnessed happening on Twitter and I thought that it would be a shame to have it lost to the fleetingness of the way Twitter works. These kinds of conversations go on all the time, but usually they disappear after a few hours and aren’t able to be located again. So I checked with everyone to see if they would be alright with me putting it together into a readable form, and then throwing it up on my blog. I received no objections.

The conversation started when Naomi Clark (@metasynthie) asked the question “Is the “abdication of design” phenomenon really a problem, or just a series of missed expectations sprouting from design idealism?” and many people joined in to help tackle the question. The participants included: Naomi Clark, Mattie Brice, Raph Koster, Harvey Smith, Liz Ryerson, Ben Johnson, Lex Johnson, Brendan Vance, Todd Harper, and Stephen Winson.

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Making the Epic of Sadko: Overall Update

Today, I am providing you with an overall update on The Epic of Sadko. As you may know, I am developing The Epic of Sadko as part of my course credit for a class I am taking on game engine design. One of the upcoming deadlines for this is our final design document and a presentation of the game design. Of course a design document is never really done (I’ve submitted my “final” one twice already), but having submitted this document, I feel like I have a good idea of how a lot of the game will work and what people should expect. With that in mind, I’m going to give an update on some ideas I’ve come up with over the past few weeks.

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