Hi there. I'm an explorer, rogue academic, natural historian, athlete, anarcha-feminist and mystic. So naturally this means I write about video games, Star Trek, the 1980s, Alice in Wonderland and Garfield. My column is Wednesday morning, Eastern time.
My biggest project to date, and probably the one you're looking for, is Vaka Rangi: A self-described work of comparative mythology examining the motif of the voyaging starship (namely Star Trek) through the lens of post-scarcity utopianism, myth cycles and anarcha-feminism. I'm also working on a deconstructive heretical exegesis of The Legend of Zelda series called Hyrule Haeresis, and a semiregular critical exploration of the comic strip work of Jim Davis called Permanent Saturday. I sometimes write about other things too.
Have you ever thought about how we experience media?
A book is a book is a book, surely. Reading is reading, no matter what device or medium you do it on. And yet, you'll still hear people say the experience of reading on a computer, phone or e-reader isn't the same as holding a physical book forged from dead tress in their hands. Many people still prefer the sound of vinyl records to digital music. Watching a play live is a manifestly different experience than watching a recording of the performance or reading a script (just ask Jack about Shakespeare sometime). And once you move into more thoroughly modern forms of creative expression, movies, television and video games, medium becomes even more important to consider.
Ever since the dawn of television, movie studios have played with unconventional and experimental aspect rations (or 3D film) to provide an experience than can only be had in theatres. For one TV example that should be familiar to many of you, I have previously, somewhat infamously, raised cane about what I consider the “proper” way to experience and judge Star Trek: The Next Generation. To briefly summarise that ...
Over the summer, I posted a rough draft of what I called a “Reading Guide” for Tom and Jerry. You know. The cat and mouse cartoon. I've since rewatched the series and revised my picks and criteria, so here's “Version 2”.
(Also, apparently something happened with the latest DTV Tom and Jerry movie? Apparently it went mememtic this summer without me noticing?)
I've been thinking a lot lately about the history of animation, particularly during the Golden Age, these past few months for a variety of reasons. I used to watch theatrical shorts all the time on Cartoon Network and I have a real affinity for that genre, but I think I've come to the conclusion now that Tom and Jerry is probably my favourite out of all the Golden Age series. Naturally, it's the most controversial one.
Some of the criticism I find perfectly understandable. Some of it I find utterly preposterous and born from media illiteracy. But to take the more valid complaints, while there are certainly some pretty appallingly racist shorts in the Tom and Jerry catalog I tend to find this disproportionately overemphasized in modern criticism, making it seem like racist ...
This is the first year I've paid serious attention to Gamescom, which basically amounts to Europe's E3. Perhaps it's because I've even less chance of getting to go it than I do to E3, but it's kind of a blank spot in my games journalism career, if you want to call it that. But with a suite of teases at this year's E3, not a lot of solid details and a whole slew of games all coming out in the next 2-4 months I'm actually interested in, I figured it was time to give the big game show on the other side of the Atlantic a try. With Bethesda saving most of its content for QuakeCon, which ran at the same time last week (which I'll get to later on), and me not being terribly happy with Sony and Microsoft it was naturally only Nintendo I cared about, so here's a rundown of what they did at Gamescom this year.
I'm not sure if companies do the big press conferences at Gamescom like they do at E3-If they did I didn't see anywhere to stream them, and either ...
Sonic Mania released this past week on consoles, with the PC version delayed a few weeks for additional tweaks and optimization. This is one half of SEGA's 25th Anniversary celebration for Sonic the Hedgehog (the actual anniversary was last year, but that's just how SEGA rolls), a game made by a team of former Sonic fangame developers led by Christian Whitehead, famous for his HD remake of Sonic CD and his extremely high-quality conversions of Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Sonic Mania, as you might expect, is thus a game self-consciously indebted to the style of the earliest Sonic game releases and plays out as a kind of fan's version of Sonic Generations: A bunch of “reimagined” classic stages with the occasional crop of new material, but this time done in a manner that slavishly attempts to recreate the style of the original games on a new platform.
This is not a review of Sonic Mania. I don't even have the game as of the time of this writing, though I do have the Nintendo Switch version of the special collector ...
Update 8/29/2017: And now the original XBOX One has been discontinued to make room for the XBOX One S (which is *different* from the XBOX One X). Only two years and nine months after it was released. Think about that, and remember how the SEGA Dreamcast was considered a colossal failure.
Can I make an appeal to the video game industry? Can we cool it with the technological determinism shit already, please?
I want to apologise in advance if this turns into more of an angry, ranty polemic than what I'm comfortable presenting these days, but I'm deeply upset this week. I've always been exasperated and annoyed with the line of thinking in games criticism that graphics tech is the most important thing in the industry and needs to be privileged above all else, but at this point I've officially had it. The state of the current industry is so out of control I don't really even have words to express how stunned and aghast I am by the aggressive, mindless technofetishistic lust that seems to be driving almost everyone on both sides of the Pacific ...
This past week I treated myself to two recent Blu-ray releases that oddly seem to compliment one another: The brand new Collector's Edition release of Species from Scream Factory (which gives the film a proper HD transfer for the first time and features a whole slew of interviews, making-of featurettes and commentary tracks), and Funimation's Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack release of their localization of Shin Gojira, known as Shin Godzilla in the US.
I currently don't have access to an HD TV so I can't actually watch most of the material here yet...I haven't even touched Species, which is killing me because this set looks really interesting: Just the prospect of getting people like Natasha Henstridge and Michael Madsen to talk candidly about their experiences with that curio is tempting enough, but add to that the fact there's an alternate ending included and I truly cannot wait to be able to put this set through its paces. Whenever I get the chance I'll be sure to give this release a proper analysis and any re-evaluations I come to will definitely influence the revised version of the Species essay that will go ...
Today's video over at my channel is the first in a new series featuring full playthroughs of a number of different video games, all centred around the same set of themes and motifs. These will probably be split up into 15-30 minute episodes of pure gameplay footage. First up, the original BloodRayne from 2002, which was available on the Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2, XBOX and PC. I'm playing the PC version, modded for controller support and widescreen HD resolutions. Now I know this perhaps doesn't seem like the kind of game I typically like to talk about and some of you might have questions about that, but all I can say right now is to please trust me-I'm going somewhere with this :-)
Edited text from the video description:
Bloodmoon is a series that looks at the evolution and apotheosis of specific themes and archetypes throughout various video games via the medium of full playthroughs with open discussion prompts.
Questions and observations:
Why does the intro cinematic seem to be, at first, trying to mislead us into thinking Rayne is a villainous monster when it would have been immediately obvious to anyone buying this game ...
I talk about it in the video, but this was originally meant to be cut from outtakes of the recording session for the original superplay video, but in the end I recorded a whole new session just for this commentary. That wound up being good though, as I learned a few more tricks and techniques between the recording of that video and this one that I think makes the run I close out with here better than the one I uploaded before! Other topics of conversation include parkour, the discipline of training, movement and Japanese spiritual philosophy.
The video itself is kind of a hybrid experiment for me. I've been told working from more of a defined a script would do me well, so I wrote one this time. I vastly underestimated how far 3000 words would get me though, so the back 2/3 is completely off-the-cuff and extemporaneous, which should provide a nice contrast! I ...