A writer interested mostly in video games and fantasy novels.

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    Latest Articles

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    The rise and fall of the turn based rpg

    Turn based rpgs were at one point the height of video games. Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy are some of the most well known, as their success lead to huge franchises that continue today, but there were also many more inspired by them or experimenting on their format.
    Turn based rpgs still exist today – just look at the sweeping success of Undertale, or at strategic turn based rpgs like XCOM or Darkest Dungeon. But turn based rpgs are no longer at the forefront of gaming, instead primarily being a genre used by nostalgic games or indie projects.
    Even Final Fantasy, a game that was once synonymous with the turn based rpg, no longer uses that play style. The popular Fallout series did similar.
    This article would discuss the turn based rpg, why it was so popular in its heyday, and why many major studios moved away from it.

    • This could be a very interesting topic to discuss. I think it's important to focus on the fact that the turn-based RPG stems from the Dungeons and Dragons model of pre-video game role-playing games. The evolution (for better or worse) has evolved as technology has allowed for more immersive experiences for the gamer. On a personal note, I still love playing FFX, but as much of a huge FF fan I am, there's still a reason they added fast-forward modes on the other ports. – A G Macdonald 2 months ago
    • You also can't ignore the pokemon games, probably the most popular turn based RPG that's still doing numbers, even if it isn't exactly the same vein as FF. – Cedarfireflies55 2 months ago
    • Miitopia, which originally came out in 2016 and was re-released in 2021, is an interesting game to consider because it uses a very simplified turn-based combat system. The player can control their avatar in battle, but the turns of the NPC party members are all controlled by AI. If the player wants to, they can even select an option that allows AI to control their avatar’s turns as well. While this is just one game (and it has more in common with Pokémon than Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy), Miitopia’s simplified turn-based combat system could suggest that even when contemporary games do use turn-based combat systems, they are not the intensely strategy-focused systems of the past. – Magnolia 2 months ago
    • Another thing to consider is that is wasn't just rpgs that were turned based; essentially every video game was, even platformers--you lose your lives and go back to the beginning of the level/game or hand the controller over to your friend. This could be because the notion of what constituted a "game" was perhaps more rigid then. Games were primarily competitive and turns where part of ensuring fairness. So, pretty much all games were turned based. Even solitaire had turns. If anything, it might be rpgs and their focus on narrative experiences that helped evolve the idea of what a game is, which, maybe ironically, led to the downfall of turn-based rpgs. – zmedlin 2 weeks ago

    The effect of streaming and let's plays on the video game industry

    The gaming community, from twitch streamers to youtube let’s players, is synonymous with video games at large.
    This has had a number of effects, both on the way that games are made (with features like ‘streamer mode’ which substitute copyrighted songs so that streamers don’t get copyright strikes) and the way games are marketed (with big streamers becoming just as important to get good reviews from as critics).
    This article would discuss these effects, and more, that streaming has had on the video game industry. Both in terms of the positive and negative sides – and perhaps what this may mean for the future of video games.

    • I think an interesting point to discuss in the article is the accessibility that streaming provides. For example, someone who may not have the ability to afford the latest console, game, DLC, etc. can watch someone play it for free (more or less) and still enjoy it, even if they're not the one playing it. – LeoPanasyuk 3 months ago
    • You may want to mention how this contributes to a game's popularity. Millions of people have watched Let's Plays of, say, Undertale or Detroit: Become Human, but how many have actually bought and played those games? Likewise, a Let's Play can also damage a game's reputation or lock players into the idea that they can or should only play it a particular way, all of which might be worth exploring. – Petar 2 months ago

    Modernizing Old Stories

    In the new Death on the Nile (adapted from Agatha Christie’s book), they made a number of changes to ensure the work was better appreciated by a modern audience. This included changing certain motives and secrets for characters (having a former kleptomaniac instead have a secret lover, for example) and adding a romantic subplot for the main character.
    Regardless of whether one thinks these changes work or not, I wanted to open up a discussion on why we feel the need to modernize old stories (even bringing some into the modern day rather than keeping them set in the past), and if these efforts help our understanding of these stories.
    After all, movies tend to be made for a wide audience. There is a risk that many viewers won’t understand what certain decisions or plot elements imply, because they don’t have a knowledge of the time period it was originally created in. Changes are made to ‘translate’ the work for modern audiences. But on the other hand, it can easily go too far and attempts to modernize can remove beloved parts of the original work.

    • This could be an interesting larger discussion, for instance the modernisation of Shakespeare's works. – Sarai Mannolini-Winwood 1 year ago
    • I think that one reason why certain stories lend themselves to modernization is that at the time they were written they would have seemed "modern" to begin with. A lot of the technologies and cultural references used by Agatha Christie would have been considered modern, even cutting-edge, at the time her books were written, and it's only nowadays that they seem old-fashioned or "period." This was also the reason why the BBC decided to set its "Sherlock" series in modern times. Sherlock Holmes would have been considered a "modern" detective at the time the novels were originally written, and so, paradoxically, the best way to honor its original vision is to tell a version of the story set in modern times. – Debs 1 year ago
    • Updating language is always a good reason to 'modernize' a story. Without the ability to actually understand Shakespeare, for example, people might be mislead into thinking it's high-brow classical storytelling instead of a collection of dick jokes stuffed into a thriller jacket. – kgy121 1 year ago
    • Nice topic, but it feels a little broad. Try narrowing it down. For instance, you could do a whole article on the language issue alone. – Stephanie M. 1 year ago
    • It may be of great importance to end the article by drawing a line between the elements that are essential to protect an art piece's identity and the elements that can be changed in response to time, place, and culture without altering its identity. – Samer Darwich 1 year ago
    • One unavoidable problem is the change of thought with time. The core of the old story was based on The Times and social environment at that time, but now The Times and social environment we are living in have undergone great changes, and the core of the ideas conveyed are sometimes difficult to be accepted by the contemporary era. – Bruce 7 months ago

    The dog dies: use of animal death as an emotional pull in film

    A number of movies, tv shows, and other pieces of fiction use animal death for one main reason. Generally, it’s to show a particular character is evil, and to pull on the viewer’s heartstrings by showing the death of an innocent creature (most often, a dog).

    This technique is often very effective, and many viewers feel very emotional at the death of animals on screen, to the point that sites such as ‘Does the Dog Die’ exist simply to warn viewers who find animal death (among other things) to be too much. But due to being effective, some find it over-used, a bit of a cliche.

    So, why is it used so often? Is it just so effective that it’s worth the cries of unoriginality? Is it just such a simple way to portray a character’s cruelty? And why is it so effective, anyway? Why is the death of an animal more effective than that of say, a child?

    • This topic is so refreshing and alluring. It reminds me of "Bad Moon" (1996), a movie about a werewolf who attacks a family, but the family dog, a German shepherd--the hero of the story--confronts the beast and saves the day (sorry if this qualifies as a spoiler). I wonder how many movies there are out there where the death of a dog is the main part of the plot and not just an excuse to sympathize with the main character or to trigger the journey, as in "I Am Legend" or "John Wick." – T. Palomino 11 months ago
    • Building off of T. Palomino's comment, I feel like this topic could be fruitfully contextualized by unpacking the duelling tropes of "kick the dog" and "save the cat" as screenwriting techniques that are specifically poised as shorthands for modulating the audience's which characters are innately evil vs. inherently good. – ProtoCanon 11 months ago
    • What I've always found funny about white America is that a dog dying on film was always viewed as more heartbreaking than seeing a black man attacked and maimed by dogs on film. On a different note, Cujo provides an interesting look into the death of an animal. Because we are introduced to Cujo before he is fully rabid, we see that he is a gentle animal. His eventual 'going insane' is not his fault. Thus, although we do not root for Cujo to be victorious in his pursuit of humans, it is somewhat tear-jerking when the animal dies. This also begs the question, are these innocent animals really innocent just because they don't act based on evil intentions in the same way as humans? – Montayj79 11 months ago
    • I've often wondered why I'm so affected by the death of a dog in TV and movies. I love dogs, but I'm also a mom. When a child dies on a movie, I'm horrified and feel deep sympathy for the parent characters, but it doesn't affect me the same way as the death of a dog (ONLY speaking about media, of course!) I'm also widowed, so when a spouse or partner dies, I find it sad. Still...that deep, hurt, sad feeling after the death of a dog on TV is more affective. My thought is that it's because dogs are: 1. Totally innocent. 2. Completely loyal. 3. Totally trusting 4. Helpless 5. Unaware of mortality So, when you have a character who can do no wrong, who's entire personality is based on being loyal, trusts almost anyone, is mostly defenseless (they can bite, yes, but their loyalty toward people usually tells them to hold back) and especially is unaware that it is can die (or is dying, or about die) it completely tugs the heart strings. – brandy 10 months ago
    • A couple things I'd like to point out. In this article please clarify that this hook is mainly used with dogs (even the article title can be reworked). You don't see turtle, rabbit, or cat deaths. The "dog" is a symbol not just a pet. It's a symbol of friendship and companionship, so is it just a way to restate "death of a companion" much like death of a wife - a construct overused already? Second, does it REALLY allow filmmakers to put less work into having to build that "I lost someone dear" empathy for the character? Losing a father, wife, or girlfriend is extensively overused and might have lost its touch. You see a movie with the lead having lost his wife and going on a revenge-killing spree is redundant, but doing the same for a dog is fresh (until it becomes mundane). Is that the sole purpose? I'd wager it is, but the piece needs to have at least 3-4 examples and the importance of the animal clearly marked out for reference and comparison. For example, how much screen time did they get? Did we see any bonding moment or did the movie start from "dog dead now, dust off your shotgun"? If there was no bonding moment (basically if the dog was not a character in the movie but a hook symbol), have we truly become that shallow or is this device such an ingenious shortcut to gaining sympathy and must be celebrated or at least respected? A lot to unpack here, but we really need at least 3-4 good examples. – Abhimanyu Shekhar 10 months ago

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    Latest Comments

    I remember seeing one analysis that posited that a lot of the best horror games are short for that reason – the longer it is, the more likely the horrors will lose their impact. Varying things up (in later stages of the game or in sequels) can definitely help prevent this as you’ve said.

    Analog Horror: Analyzing an Eerily Nostalgic Genre

    Analog horror is definitely an interesting topic, and I’m glad to see an article on it. Good stuff!
    I think another thing worth noting about the old-style cameras used for found footage and analog horror is that because the visuals are less ‘crisp’ and distinct, viewers can’t always see things clearly and this adds to the horror. With analog horror, it can be hard to tell if that indistinct shape on the camera was a horrifying monster, a person, or simply a visual glitch – adding to the tension felt by the viewer. If you use a crisp, modern camera, it can be harder to get this indistinct blurriness. Similar goes for ‘weird noises’ in analog horror works using older recording devices, which once again are very uncertain – is that spooky noise an audio glitch, or a monster? It definitely sets analog horror apart from other styles of horror media made today, where they use clean and crisp visuals and sounds and as such need to work harder to make them especially horrifying.
    As someone who likes a bit of analog horror, I’m definitely interested in seeing how this genre evolves in the future, and to what the analog horror based off of the technology of today will look like.

    Analog Horror: Analyzing an Eerily Nostalgic Genre

    I definitely think the demographic part is an important point to raise. After all, a lot of what becomes popular (here in the West, but in Japan as well) is shonen and seinen, and they tend to be watched by a lot of women rather than just men. As a female viewer myself, I tend to watch more shonen/seinen than shojo because a lot of the shojo that gets brought here and becomes popular is romance (a genre I’m not super into). While these labels can be helpful in some circumstances, the sheer variety in what is considered ‘shonen’ or ‘shojo’, and the fact that some pieces are hard to put in these categories, means that at the very least more classification is needed.

    Marketing vs. Genre in Manga - How They Can Get Confused

    There’s an old saying that the past is another country, and I think it really holds true for modernizations of older works. A lot won’t necessarily be understood by modern audiences, both language and cultural references. Shakespeare often comes with a guide in classrooms for a reason, after all. In some ways, and for certain types of retellings, I feel like you can see the modernization process like one of translation – translating an old piece for a modern audience.
    Not all retellings are an attempt to do that, of course. Some are just playing in the space that a classic or fairytale provides. But many seem more an attempt of translation, to make a piece understandable to a modern audience without extensive study of the original time period.

    Preservation, Insight and Growth Through Literary Modernizations

    While I understand your point, I’m not sure if the ones about mental illness do receive more accolades and attention than other topics. The most popular games of the last year or so that I’ve seen the most focus on haven’t really been about mental illness at all.
    That, however, is very much my personal experience and opinion.

    Is Mental Illness an Over-Explored topic in Indie Games?

    Personally, I wouldn’t say she has schizophrenia. While obviously you can definitely take that as your interpretation, I think that in the story of the game, Badeline is not a normal hallucination, but a magical one. Madeline says that she has depression in the game itself, and while misdiagnosis (or multiple issues at once) can occur, I’d never considered that she could have anything other than depression.
    I think that could be an interesting topic, though. Schizophrenia is a mental illness rarely portrayed in media, and portrayed sympathetically even more rarely.

    Is Mental Illness an Over-Explored topic in Indie Games?

    I watched the ’93 Addams family movie as a kid, and I quite enjoyed her in that – I found her over-the-top dark humor appealing. I hadn’t realized that she’d started out so young in her original appearance, and in some ways I think I prefer the slightly older version.
    As a teen, however, I’m not so sure.

    The Appeal of Wednesday Addams

    Many of the films, studies, and art pieces you mention in this article sounds fascinating. The Clock in particular sounds like good fun; I half feel surprised that every second on a clock is represented in film, even though it makes sense given how many movies have been made.

    A Cinematic Journey Through Time