mammon-machine

What Was Brought

mammon-machine:

Gone Home is pretty coy.

I appreciate this sort of thing as someone who made a lot of jokes about speedruns and noscoping a game where the most difficult task is finding a light switch without peripheral vision. I think I’m a little happier having gone through the game knowing just enough about it to know there wouldn’t be any ghosts or murders, though it’s ideal I didn’t know the ending, because it surprised me by being a happy one.

That’s something I really can’t forgive or relate to; I relate a lot more to Merritt Kopas reacting to Gone Home than I do to Gone Home.

(Gone Home does a lot right, too. Sorry if this sounds harsh right now, but this one’s about me this time.)

I can’t disagree with Ian Bogost’s review of Gone Home—it’s melodrama, though charming melodrama, and the substance is thin, and I’m not going to let Sam get away with that just because she’s supposed to be a teen. Still, when Merritt says what she does about Gone Home, I feel that tug, and I can’t help it, oh no, this is going to hurt.

Which is terribly unfair because I also agree with Bogost that it doesn’t really deserve the reaction it is generating from me. Even Merritt knows she’s bringing all of her own stuff into the game and that’s why it’s doing what it does to her. I have read Jeanette Winterson, so why do I feel this way, why is this happening anyway, and why did I cry in the lap of someone I really care about while watching the season finale of Sailor Moon last week, tilting my head so they wouldn’t see?

The answer is probably there are a lot of problems in there. The other answer is that while Gone Home may be too neat, too melodramatic, just not quite full enough, it is an empty house, and you can fill it with what you bring to it. Gone Home allows for a certain kind of connection and a certain kind of experience to be brought in that could never, ever be brought in—to use a pertinent example—Bioshock.

I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m excusing their faults when I say video games are good vehicles for projection, but they are, like the threadbare melodrama of season two of Sailor Moon (about as nineties for me as Lisa Frank binders for me) a place where a lot of me comes to rest. That’s not exactly to Sailor Moon’s credit, or Gone Home, which I guess I am supposed to be talking about. Simply, Gone Home has room in it for us, and it can let Merritt in, and she wrote about it, and that let me in too, and I’m glad to be there even if I’m happy to be there more for what I brought in than what the designers left. 

Not everyone, not even other queer women, feel like Gone Home lets them in, perhaps in the same way that most other games (and let’s face it, most everything else too) are, at some level, always trying to kick me out. Which has nothing at all to do with art. Hemingway doesn’t want me, even though I can read it and like it (love it). Access is different from craft. It’s structure rather than execution, and that’s not good because really good art is that which is executed at the highest possible level. It’s not the ideas and the themes, but how they’re realized, and I learned this in creative writing programs by heart.

They are right. To write like a writer, we read good writers, who wrote in a way I wanted to match about subjects I couldn’t relate to, feeling progressively more upset and alienated and possibly insane because even when it let me in, there was nothing there, and no room for me. Well now I know why and it’s really my fault for not doing anything about it earlier. But it is now impossible to ignore how much access matters even if execution is what actually takes us to the Real Thing. It’s also something I can credit to the work, when access feels more like something I should credit me or critics but now I’m not sure. “It shouldn’t be remarkable, but it is.” And it is. 

Unlike Merritt who mourns her childhood, what’s lost to me is so dead I can’t even miss it. Or maybe I am wrong, and there is a house somewhere that will let me in, and I will be able to bring to it all the things I have missed. Here I am, after all, reading all this into a game I finished less than two hours ago, and this is all really happening and deserving doesn’t enter into the equation. Just can’t fucking help ourselves I guess.

Major Storyline progress

Storyline meeting tomorrow, major progress on the scripts.  First priority is going to be getting Act 1 complete and taking stock of the scenes already written.  Pete, the Keenan Caine scriptwriter, continues to be better at writing Keenan than I ever was; there’s been a lot of progress on his storyline because of it.  Derek and Meredith storylines are next, followed by Anna Lin’s and Yuuki’s.

liveinmekakucity
yafictiondoublefeature:

Ahahahah I had forgotten that I’d saved this motivator.  Can’t take credit for it, though.  In fact, if someone knows the image source I’d appreciate it if they told me.
As the Berkeley Duke of Fandom and the biggest Bliss Stage fanboy in the western hemisphere I can assure you that this motivational is 108% accurate.  Of course, this mostly applies to the tabletop game.

In all seriousness, though.  Spoilers for Madoka follow.
Bliss Stage is a game about a broken world and the broken people in them, and - at least, in the games I’ve run - how these unlikely teenage heroes manage their damage, defy the odds, and change the world for the better at great cost.
Evangelion set that mold, although it could be called a story about how Shinji’s damage was too much to overcome (the other trajectory of tabletop Bliss Stage).  Madoka told the same sort of story using the framework of a magical girl show - Hell, the ending, where Madoka merges with the universe and prevents the creation of further Witches, would not be out of place as a Resolution: “We can prevent more people from falling to despair.”  (Not to mention that this is a fundamentally Buddhist heroic story…)
Bliss Stage is fundamentally about hope.  In an ANIMa, you can fight the broken nature of the world, and you can win.

yafictiondoublefeature:

Ahahahah I had forgotten that I’d saved this motivator.  Can’t take credit for it, though.  In fact, if someone knows the image source I’d appreciate it if they told me.

As the Berkeley Duke of Fandom and the biggest Bliss Stage fanboy in the western hemisphere I can assure you that this motivational is 108% accurate.  Of course, this mostly applies to the tabletop game.

In all seriousness, though.  Spoilers for Madoka follow.

Bliss Stage is a game about a broken world and the broken people in them, and - at least, in the games I’ve run - how these unlikely teenage heroes manage their damage, defy the odds, and change the world for the better at great cost.

Evangelion set that mold, although it could be called a story about how Shinji’s damage was too much to overcome (the other trajectory of tabletop Bliss Stage).  Madoka told the same sort of story using the framework of a magical girl show - Hell, the ending, where Madoka merges with the universe and prevents the creation of further Witches, would not be out of place as a Resolution: “We can prevent more people from falling to despair.”  (Not to mention that this is a fundamentally Buddhist heroic story…)

Bliss Stage is fundamentally about hope.  In an ANIMa, you can fight the broken nature of the world, and you can win.

I just spent three straight hours writing a scene between the two player characters of Bliss Stage: Love Is Your Weapon, from Sara’s perspective.  And it’s not done!  I still need to add some decision points.  I’ve mostly been working on variants of AI!Joshua triggered by the accumulated consequences of the player’s earlier decisions in his shoes.

When sufficiently valiant and motivated, I’ve written Sara as a shameless flirt.  I am totally okay with this.  More characters need to be unashamed of that aspect of themselves.

pepsimangb

Hanmun, Hangul, and Humanism: Why Chinese Characters are a Big Deal in Hate Plus

pepsimangb:

It’s probably pretty apparent by now to those of you who follow me on here that Hate Plus, the futuristic Korean-themed visual novel sequel to my personal Game of the Year 2012, has been on my mind a bit. Like its predecessor, Hate Plus is one of the most poignantly provocative games I’ve ever had the morbid pleasure of playing and it’s given me a lot of food for thought, even on topics I thought I’d retreaded to death in my mind philosophizing over again and again. Having clearly been crafted by a dyed-in-the-wool writer, the game’s quality prose is refreshing in a time when most games are still confused about what to do with writers in general.

Anyway, one of the things that caught me by pleasant surprise in Hate Plus was its discussion of the place of Chinese characters, or hanja/hanmum in Korean depending on context, in Korean language, society, and culture. As is the case with loan words and loaned writing scripts for most any language, the varying extent of hanja in Korean and other languages over the years has subtle, but profound implications for today’s speakers, as well as clearly those in the future. You can’t have language without meaning and semantics and when you start importing language from non-native sources, you start importing cultural and philosophical ideas as a matter of consequence. As Hate Plus is keen to point out at times, sometimes these ideas might not be for the good of all people. While I feel that Christine Love has done an admirable job trying to make a very complex linguistic and political issue as accessible to non-Korean audiences as she possible could, I thought I would try to elucidate a little more for those who don’t speak a major Asian language on why characters like *Hyun-ae find the rise of hanja and hanmun to be such a troubling historical trend aboard the Mugunghwa, especially from a feminist perspective. The things that come to mind for characters such as *Hyun-ae when they think of hanja go far deeper than just conservatism and moral backwardness and it’s my sincere hope is that I’ll make that logic more clear for those who aren’t already blessed/cursed with such literacy.

image

Before starting, I’d like to point out quickly that while I don’t actually speak Korean, I do speak Japanese bilingually. Much more so than Korean today, Japanese continues to make extensive use of hanja within day-to-day living. Given that Chinese is obviously the original source of those characters for both languages, it’s not a stretch to say that Japanese people also have ongoing dialogues about the usage and connotations of their equivalent to hanja and hanmun in contemporary society. This includes their use as it applies to sex and gender in Japan, too, which is why I feel comfortable talking about this subject at all, even if I lack specific experience with Korean as a language. I also maintain extensive Korean contacts and have familiarity with Korean culture in general, so I’d like to believe that I’m not entering this discussion completely blindly. Nevertheless, I’m fully aware of how different Japan and Korea remain in terms of language, history, and culture, so if I make any mistakes along the way, you’re free to call me out and I’ll try to revise my work to reflect the new knowledge.

With that out of the way, this discussion should stay pretty general with regards to plot references in Hate Plus. I don’t foresee any big spoilers showing up, but in case I’m dumb and undervalue something, hey, maybe hold off on this post until you’ve cleared it yourself if you’re still interested. I’ll also be typing the occasional hanja myself to illustrate certain linguistic examples, so if you don’t want to see error boxes show up in your browser, I suggest you install the necessary Asian fonts before proceeding if you don’t already have them; doing so is thankfully now pretty easy to do regardless of your operating system. Having said all that, let’s throw up a break so Tumblr feeds aren’t made to throw up too much text all at once!

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Hate Plus and Analogue are really important games, and attention to these kind of details - language and culture, and how they shape each other - is part of why it’s frighteningly good.

Plus it was written in my programming weapon of choice, Ren’Py.