My review of the first Tropes vs Women in Videogames video is up at Bag of Games. It was something I tried to approach with caution. The series creator, Anita Sarkeesian, had to deal with over the top harassment for the crime of being a woman with something to say that was somewhat critical of the industry status quo. But I have to be honest and say that so far the series isn’t a particular deep analysis of the very real issues about gender portrayal in videogames. That said, she deserves credit for at being willing to endure the slings and arrows of outrageous dweebdom in order to bring the subject to the discussion table.
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So, I’m putting my keyboard where my mouth is on the whole art game thing. So I downloaded the Ren’Py engine and got to work. Lethe is a bit of an experiment– a full playthrough is about fifteen minutes, tops, and that includes going back and redoing sections. But I want to keep it simple for now, as I’m exploring how narrative translates into an interactive environment.
I’m quickly finding that you can’t just write a short story and plug it into game format. There’s a greater feeling of immediacy in a game, even a visual novel game. The delivery of lines is almost like blank verse– each phrase is restricted in length but simultaneously more focused in impact. That’s the idea, at least. And the perception of time is different. It’s less a story being told than something being experienced. I decided to shift to present tense, for example. And there’s less room for introspection: that gets left to the player.
Lethe follows a the ghost of a dead man called back from beyond by a woman worried about her husband she hasn’t heard from. Obviously, it’s not a super upbeat theme, but at the same time I’m trying to keep it from being all emo morose. I’m using a track from Apparatus, the experimental CD Janet made with the late Harry Castle. So if nothing else, it’s got some kick butt music!
And artwork– my friend Dawn Lyons is on that. Here’s some of her concept art for one of the characters:
Call it “Betty Boop goes to a seance.” As I said, yes, it deals with themes of death and loss (what have I written lately that doesn’t?). But that doesn’t mean you have to lose all sense of whimsy and humor!
Yep, been busy over at Bag of Games Hey, gives me an excuse to wind down with a videogame in the evening. This week’s entree was a fun little indie game with retro graphics that has you exploring an island as it morphs through the seasons. The part I liked was how its minimalist sound track would pick up themes depending on where and what you were exploring. I couldn’t help but be reminded of “In C” by Terry Riley, with its score added to and changed at the player’s whim– a sort of composer driven form of improvisation. Janet and I actually made a videogame based on In C, but it’s in Director so I’m not really sure how to put it online.
Anyway, Proteus is worth a look
A review of a little art game about a fellow whose wife dies. Yes, I was able to get through it. Ambitious with some lovely music and art, but the narrative itself uses a bit too much cliche for my liking (wife lives on in his memories, all that). Still, free and definitely worth a look.
Quick little review of a quick little game. A bit no frills but amusing.
Thrilled to death to be working on this– along with several fellow WotF’ers like Paula Stiles, Nick Tchan, David Carani and our illustrious editor Jordan Ellinger!
Symbiant Studios is proud to announce that we’ve brought three more award winning writers on board. @David Parish-Whittaker, Paula R. Stiles, and Nick Tchan will be writing novelettes set in the Dragon Assault universe, which will be available to purchase in-game and through online outlets like Amazon and Barnes & Noble .
Everything H.G. Wells could have written.
Everything Arthur Conan Doyle thought of,
but never published – because it was too fantastic!
More cover art by the amazingly talented Adam Burn, this for the first book in season two.