Sarai is a free-lance literature enthusiast who current works as a sessional academic. An avid horror and fantasy reader she is an advocate for its cultural importance.

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Latest Articles

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Have you got a grinding addiction?

You know you’ve done it, we all have, who hasn’t?
What I’m talking about is the act of "grinding" in games, meaning the repetition of crafting, farming, playing level one fights for bonuses – the simple act of repeating a step over and over and over again for seemingly inconsequential gains. Now in real life none of us would often willingly engage in this (generalisation I know), but really people seem to go out of their way to engage in innovative, unique, interesting jobs – no one wants to do the same task ad nauseam. So why do we choose to do this in our down time when gaming? What really is the appeal of grinding?

  • Personally I have been guilty of this when it comes to RPGs, especially in the Final Fantasy series. There is always the main objective of completing the story itself, but knowing that there are other potential sidequests, bonuses and easter eggs often leads to an uncontrollable urge to spend time grinding to levelling up characters. Another element that has added to this addiction is the use of achievements and trophies, and the need to have that sense of completion. On a side note I have also experienced this with some mobile games, only to delete them after months with the question "what was actually achieved by this?" – midado 2 weeks ago

Crossing the line: 'Game of Thrones' treatment of incest

Incest is a fundamental taboo in society. We recognise this for many reasons.

Yet for some odd reason it has begun to rear its ugly head within television, and it does not seem to be demonised as much as one would expect. The perfect example of this is the relationship between the siblings, Jamie and Cirsei Lannister, in ‘Game of Thrones.’ This is ridiculed within the narrative and by other characters, yet it is shown in somewhat graphic detail in the first episode. They are both very attractive actors and the act, without context is an attractive bit of television soft-porn. How are we meant to interpret this? There are a myriad of other inferences by other characters, often used to symbolise the unhealthiness or negative representation of a character, yet this seems largely undermined by the treatment then of the characters within the narrative as redeemable heroes (somewhat). A recent episode of ‘Rick and Morty’, already known for its dark humour, but on the pulse cultural reflection, a "Morty" made a wish that "incest porn was more mainstream" – it was a line used to punctuate the scene with humour before one of the "Morty’s" leapt to his death. However, this is still an open discussion of incest in a somewhat positive manner.

Obviously, this is a highly contentious discussion and one that needs to be handled carefully. However, akin to the inclusion of "rape fantasies" in much of paranormal romance, it is a concerning trend that should be discussed.

  • Check out this link... – Munjeera 3 weeks ago
  • Why incest is taboo (and perhaps the best argument against it): – J.D. Jankowski 3 weeks ago

Noir Hilariousa: 'The Tick'

The recent release of the television series ‘The Tick’ has presented one of the most interesting genre mash ups. With clear nods to the Film Noir style: in the cinematography, the editing, and the structure of the narrative. It is also obviously a superhero show with some strongly comedic and traditional tropes in place: the hero’s journey (actually pointed out in dialogue), the abilities of the characters, the motivation of the characters and the various costuming, choreography of fight scenes, etc. that we are used to associating with such texts. The superhero side leans so heavily into the bright, ridiculous world of comic books that it seems outlandish that the elements of the darker, serious Noir style would even work, yet oddly the mash up is remarkably appealing and visually interesting. If this is the new future for television superhero shows then my faith has been restored!


    Riverdale's loss of innocence

    The new revival of nostalgic television has taken a darker path. The success of ‘Stranger Things’ has been a catalyst for encouraging the development of nostalgia projects, however, at its heart it is a dark and disturbing tale. The recent release of the ‘Riverdale’ series based on the ‘Archie’ comics has been an interesting progression down this darker road. Utilising the same characters, the television interpretation has developed a show full of murder, death, drugs, gangs and violence all obviously in vast contrast to the actuality of the comic series. Yet this series is resonating with the viewers. It seems that the rose-coloured lens of viewing the early American Dream as a reality is truly dead, yet because of it this is becoming a must view series. Have we as viewers now completely lost our innocence?


      The revival of Dungeons and Dragons due to Geek & Sundry's 'Critical Role' series.

      Dungeons and Dragons has been a long established franchise that has experienced noticeable rise and falls of popularity structured around changing cultural interests. With the mainstream appeal of fantasy films and "soft fantasy" programming on television there has been a slow interest arising around the old RPG paper and pen games. However, it was not until the occurrence of the show ‘Critical Role’ by Geek & Sundry, as streamed by Twitch, that a noticeable and traceable resurgence has occurred. The popularity of a show about watching voice actors play DnD live has lead to a release of new manuals, gaming equipment and surge of fan material. Is this the start of the mainstreaming of DnD?

      • This would make a great article. It might also be good to talk about Felicia Day and her contributions to geek culture; both before and after the creation of geek and sundry. Also the show Community lured a few people into the game. – AGMacdonald 5 months ago
      • I've heard multiple sides to this. On the one hand, a fun hobby is regaining popularity. On the other hand, Critical Role and shows like it (Acquisitions Incorporated, for example) may give people the wrong idea, because not all games have a Game Master as skilled as Matthew Mercer, let alone a cast of that caliber (they're professional voice actors who have been doing this together for years). So a possible question is, should shows like Critical Role be the motivator for the mainstream resurgence of DnD? – noahspud 3 months ago
      • I am interested in how you might prove Critical Role as the source of this resurgence, as I think you might need to look at cultural trends that come before the first episode of critical role even airs. The 2011 new york-times best seller Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and, even, the wild success of Felicia Day's own "The Guild," seems to be a strong indication that this resurgence touches on a significantly wider interest in the production of the fantasy world. Rather than asking is DnD now mainstream, I think I am more inerested in why is DnD mainstream: why are we once again interested in the creating the fantasy world? What about the world we live in now encourages us to be interested in this kind of table top gaming? – Dethlefs 3 months ago
      Taken by lucyviolets (PM) 1 day ago.

      The (alien) cultural interference debate, and 'The Orville's' gender bending.

      In a relatively recent episode of the new Sci-fi comedy show ‘The Orville,’ titled ‘About a Girl’ an interesting discussion is raised about the issue of gender identity, sexual categorisation, social acceptance and cultural interference. In the episode the same-sex couple (aliens known as the Moclan, of which all are male) give birth to a female, an unusual but not unheard of situation. The Moclan believe that growing up as a female in an almost exclusively male society is the equivalent to experiencing a form of social disability or social isolation. Yes, already an incredibly confronting concept. However, the two fathers differ on what is to be done, with one wishing to have their girls sex organs altered to allow her to live a "normal" life as a male Moclan.

      The mostly human-based crew of the space ship become involved in this debate, strongly arguing for the right to her original gender to be honoured. Arguments concerning genital mutilation, female rights, and nature versus nurture all arise. This episode comes to ahead when a trial is held to decide and a very rare female Moclan is found. She has been living up in a cave in the mountains, but is also the races’ most celebrated writer and philosopher. She argues for the right of the child to be allowed to remain a girl. However, the council ultimately rules in the favour of having her sex changed. A decision The Orville crew must accept as being a culturally acceptable choice.

      Now, this discussion is not a new one, as often Sci-fi, and especially Space Operas, will use the alien race division to debate topics relevant to cultural and racial difference. However, an unusual choice by the writers is that unlike usual network shows, the alien race does not "come to its senses" and perceive the world from the human (privileged and thus better) viewpoint. Well, while I can respect this as a creative choice, and perhaps and interesting sociological choice, I can not help but be left with a bad taste in my mouth. Is this because I am so Westernised in my view I cannot accept that other culture’s have the right to their view? Is it as a feminist that this is too close to genital mutilation for me to stomach? Or have I become so used to the stereotypical television norm of "making it all better" that I find it difficult to reconcile my expectations of entertainment with real life?


        Co-operative gaming has changed the face of table top games

        With the increased market share of Euro Style table top games (TTG), which typically emphasize collaborative and strategy based game play, a mainstreaming of TTG has occurred. The success of launching independent or related games through crowd founding sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo indeed appear to support that a tangible popularity in TTG can be mapped financially and through social media. This can also be seen in the rise in popularity of streaming shows such as ‘Table Top’ hosted by Wil Wheton, which rather than more niche gaming such as RPGs has placed an emphasis on "family" appropriate and collaborative game play. Even low level concept games such as ‘Cards Against Humanity’ have become known as "gateway games" that encourage non-gamers into becoming avid TTGs. However, is the rise due to this increased popularity of collaborative gaming or simply due to the social media format of sharing in common activities? Have co-operative games really changed the face of TTG or is this just a fad?

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          Latest Comments


          I had never heard of this! What a fantastic and engaging article. I really enjoyed reading this, although I realise for many it was not actually an entertaining experience to go through, but thank you for capturing it in an article.

          The Lost Civilization of Pottermore

          Not a text that I know anything about, so well done on evoking my interest. Thank you for sharing your analysis.

          Macleish’s play J.B. and the Problem of Evil

          Well done for attempting this topic, as it is not an easy one since such disparate opinions about the writing process exist. I think it has become quite difficult for writers with the plethora of advice available, in a way this can be less helpful as you begin to fall into the trouble of not even knowing whose advice to follow. I think that the best way to attempt beginning a writing program though, is to find out how your favourite authors began – or what their actual process is – because you already know their style and voice, and may be writing in the same genre, you are more likely to find their processes engaging or meaningful rather than some generic advice online.

          The "Write" Way

          A good read. I think, like travel, any experience that prompts a writer to move beyond their own comfort zones is always a positive (in the sense of constructive) act that can aid in the development of their writing. Travel especially captures the imagination as it can include “culture shock” that forces us to reconsider our perceptions of the world around us, but lesser acts can also allow a writer to find new points of view.

          Travel and literature: Broadening your horizons

          A very well discussed and researched paper that presents a number of great observations. In fact I will be quite interested to see what the next few years of zombie films will reflect about the current American climate. Great work!

          Race and the Revived Dead: White Zombie and Night of the Living Dead

          I am officially blind and deaf! However, I will now make the effort to have a look at this series. Thank you for your passionate discussion.

          Attack On Titan: Anger as a Source of Motivation

          I love, love, love dystopian stories – and I think that a huge component of this is what makes people respond also to “disaster/apocalypse” films – it becomes about the innovation and durability of the human spirit. Dystopian films provide a framework of unreasonable rules that the protagonist can stand against, and most often they are surmountable challenges. I think often in our real lives we face the dystopia of our own world and heave a sigh of ‘what can I do?’ Whereas dystopian literature, in particular rather than film versions, provides a direct issue that reduces human rights that can be acted against. I think it is like most “thematic settings” for literature in that it provides a framework for a protagonist to work against rather than simply existing within, which is what creates their role as the protagonist and change-bringer. Another great classic dystopian is ‘The Chrysalid’ by John Wyndham, and if you want a YA version of the same story also ‘Obernewtyn’ by Isobelle Carmody.

          What is the Purpose of Dystopian Literature?

          An interesting discussion that summarises the text well. I would have been interested to know, as Donald above comments, how much the author’s own experiences could be aligned to the narrative. I think some further analysis is in need for such a worthy play.

          Cat on a Hot Tin Roof: Internal Guilt