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.
Sound Tracks and Tone
How important is the soundtrack in a film? The selection or creation of soundtracks is big business in the movie industry, but how important really is it? Movie goers today are fairly savvy creatures and understand that particular scores match particular scenes. But what happens to a scene when a contrasting score is played to the expected tone of the scene? Does this change the entire "feeling" of the scene or can it offer a more complex examination of traditional representations of emotion in-situ? What happens when no music is used in an emotionally wrought scene? Or what happens to scenes when music is removed – are the scenes still able to portray the emotional depth of the moment?
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?
The animals that inspired their work
It is a fairly well accepted concept that many artists and authors have used the animals around them as inspiration. For some it comes from the animal beside the heath, the pet that enriches the household. Others, such as Beatrix Potter, are known for embracing the wildness and the animals that inhabit the land. In some cases the animals involved are even considered to be humanising influences – an animal connection that keeps them grounded.
The suggestion for this article would be a look at the influence of animals on art and literature. This could be taken further to include the symbolic and allegorical role of animals, or it could focus on the anthropomorphic inclusions in their art. Or it could simply be a broader follow on from ‘The truth about cats and artists.’
Importance of narratives in table top gaming
A steady rise has begun in table top gaming, which can be linked to the increased awareness of gaming through online forums and social media. There has become a larger sense of community in being able to discuss a personal engagement with particular games. I would argue that part of this has been the increase in narrative style table top games, both those being released by large corporations such as the Arkham Horror and Betrayal at House on the Hill style games, but also smaller kickstarters and independent games, such as the beautiful Dreamwell, and smaller games like Stuff and Nonsense. Narratives do not need to be complete directed stories, but also the invitation to engage in story telling, such as in the Fiasco style games. Regardless of type part of their success is that there is a narrative in place, it takes it from being something very generic into becoming an immersive experience.
It would be interesting to discuss what are some of the latest trends in narrative styles or content, what are the most popular types of narratives that have endured and where we think narratives in games is heading next.
The rise of text-based gaming
When one opens the usual source for their gaming apps there seems to be a plethora of text-based gaming role-playing-games, beyond what we once were seeing. Is this simply due to the ease of making such games versus a visual game? Or is there actually a rise in the market for such game play? Has this then replaced the popularity of the choose-your-own-adventure book? Many questions, does anyone have the answers?
The blank page and writer's block
An issue I think all writers experience at one time or another, whether they are writing fiction or non-fiction. Firstly, however, is writer’s block a real thing? What does it actually mean? How can it present? What would be interesting to follow this is a discussion of a range of strategies that are often suggested, along with some anecdotes from published writers (from literature, to television, films or even journalists) on the ways they have overcome their own writer’s block.
What will our future bring?
Many different TV series and films offer various visions of the future. Spanning from a dystopic universe where water is scarce and people scavenge, such as Tank Girl, or where the water levels have risen and earth is scarce, such as Waterworld, to futures where we have expanded into the stars, Star Trek, etc.
There are many interpretations of what comes next for us, and I thought an interesting topic would be to map some of these and look at the origin concept at their core. The easiest example would be to use Waterworld: rising sea levels due to climate change lead to eventually all but the highest peaks become completely under water that is more salt than fresh. Humanity moves to living in floating communities and diving for materials from the world before.
Many of these interpretations are not that far into our future and offer some interesting points of view on where the human race is heading. Can you think of other examples?
The meaning of food
Food, a staple of life, has often had significant meaning attached to particular types of food. For instance, the most commonly known are foods that are considered aphrodisiacs, or chocolate that is linked to lust and decadence. An interesting article could be the exploration of these meanings and how in literature these have also changed over time and across different cultures.
A few examples to whet the appetites would be: the easiest would be the role of chocolate as lust, desire for worldly sensuality in Joanne Harris’ Chocolat; sandwiches eaten on a picnic rug in Wind in the Willows represent friendship and trust; wealth is often represented through food, such as cucumber sandwiches in The Importance of Being Earnest when cucumbers were imported from India; or food as taboo, as in A Doll’s House where the macaroons represent secrecy, concealment and rebellion.
It could also be included in the discussion the rituals that surround eating: many novels will include a moment that captures the family eating together or even the break in this ritual, such as in Harry Potter where family meals with the Dursleys highlighted Harry cooking or serving but not often eating. Or even looking at subversions of food and rituals, as in Alice in Wonderland with the Mad Hatter’s tea party or the enlarge/reduce eat/drink items, all of which acted to challenge the over emphasis placed on Victorian rituals surrounding food in that period.
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