More mildly offensive trash. All the appeal of 'Teenage Dirtbag' (which I did listen to at the height of my teen-angst, Mena Suvari...) with a much narrower audience. Who is this aimed at anyway? Who would listen to this?
At PAX I passed the line for Jonathan Coulton. He was headlining the night's prescribed entertainment, but I was on my way to the MTG Mirrodin Party with the real nerds. Comedians get away with performing preschool-level songs because they're really a medium for the humor that is their trade. What are musicians who forgo skill for gimmickry selling? I suppose they are trading in popular culture.
In-jokes have evolved into 'meme's, whose entire purpose is to create a feeling of tribal inclusion by excluding those that don't 'get it'. When they drop a line about a certain level of a certain game that you have played you think 'hey, s/he's played it too!' and feel both validation and belonging. It comes down to something of a pep-rally. A vibe that PAX in it's entirety emanated.
'We are the same, we are a community. We haven't met before, yet we share so much.'
This isn't a bad thing, in fact it's a fantastic feeling. It's perhaps the core of my documentary and the highlight of my travels. But is the frenzied affirmation any different to that of a sports or religious fanatic? Perhaps only in it's innocence. Sports focuses on victory over rivals and religion on virtue through worship. Games are about play and interaction at a nascent level. No one is vilified and at worst outsiders are seen as those that 'don't get it' and always as welcome n00bs.
I've been silent for a while for a number of reasons. Firstly it's difficult to write when no one is really reading. This becomes a dump-site for my opinions and thoughts and only when I have the need to expel such emotion. I've been busy with paid work lately which was been very awesome for my career but not so much for the documentary, still languishing in editing limbo.
I watch and re-watch the footage, looking for a story. Story writing is something I don't have enough experience in. I've absorbed enough film/books/comics/television to put together some great moments but the secret to a strong narrative and an overarching plot slip through my fingers times and time again. I'm also trying to outline the plot of a graphic novel which will perhaps find it's way into this blog as it's many cables and wires worm through my cortex.
Lastly with the Dickwolves controversy rearing it's head once more I've tried to restrain from writing about it. Nothing I say is going to have any positive effect on the non-issue and so it's best left to blow over. I expected it to come out at PAX when I was there but it seems only now that it's boiled over. All I can say is that arguments can get muddy when they aren't clearly defined. One side defends women's rights, the other Penny Arcade. But they were never conflicting entities to begin with.
Last fortnight a good friend made the arduous journey to visit me way out in the countryside. He stayed for a few days and in that time we managed to assemble no less than five 'Commander' (formerly EDH) Magic decks and complete Dead Space 2 and Bulletstorm in their entirety. A mighty effort indeed. Dead Space 2 was reserved for the night and it did not fail to follow the first game in being terrifying on every level. I don't normally enjoy survival horror games but this one I do for two main reasons.
First I was one of the few who was excited enough to pre-order the first game knowing it would be an instant sci-fi staple, and a milestone* for EA as their first R rated franchise and an original in-house-developed title. For this reason playing the game was powerful gratification for my ego as it is excellent. Secondly the game design is so genius it had me guessing and double guessing at every corner in an endless battle of wits. It was like I was competing against the designers directly, trying to figure out how each room would go down and knowing they would use fear to control me.
For example; the deepest darkest corners usually had rewards for bravery stashed away but sometimes they would be soured by monsters or empty boxes. Just often enough for you to question the value of trying. A body springs to life and attacks you, but it doesn't happen again until the very point you become tired of checking every corpse and then, as if the game senses your complacency, boom! Some moments are so spectacular that I felt like I was at the design meeting, ready to applaud the employee who pitched the concept.
At all times I was glad to have someone to turn to and share a collective look of terror and excitement.
Bulletstorm was the antithesis. Crude and well... crude. However after complaining about every stumbling line of gear-of-war-grade dialog and shortcoming of the controls we began to enjoy the game for what it was. Interactive cartoon murder on an epic scale. Talk of 'Dick-killing parties' and fruit-related decapitation become hilarious once the tone is set and all expectations are set aside. And so, barring the complete and utter gameplay failure of a remote controlled Mecha-Godzilla, we trundled through the game laughing heartily at every swear-word and nut-shot.
I did some design work for a friend on a sci-fi pilot called Barrier last year and now I'm working on something new with him. He has some great ideas solidly grounded in the works of classical science fiction (before one dared abbreviate) and I'm happy to be involved. The reason I mention this is because in my annual anime catch-up I got all excited about Redline, a new film that won't be out 'till September:
When I say new, it's been in production for the better part of seven years. So you know it's going to be good. Duke Nukem good. The art style is amazing, the subject matter intriguing (I thought Speed Racer was great purely for the editing and style, it actually looked fast) yet not unfamiliar. My favourite episode of Astro Boy was the race episode (The White Planet?) and I still remind people that Yogi's Space Race did in fact exist.
The girls who've served me at games stores a) don't know anything about or even play games and b) are generally more useless than the guys. Sad but true.
*I had to double-check whether to use the word Milestone, Watershed or Hallmark here. All nonsense words with interesting etymology