Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

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America, America

July 14, 2010

Just felt like posting the introductory story to Wildfire Industries while I’m getting ready for this weekend’s second play test with the newly modified rules from Xavier Fox Shandi.  Should be interesting.

Of course, feedback on my writing is always welcome, and I hope you guys enjoy the short story.

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America, America

For an election night, Burning Forest was quiet.  The perfectly spaced trees along the downtown street were covered in midnight blue as the lone biker pedaled along the concrete river.  The red strobe light on the front of her bike turned the road into a patriotic disco, and the sound of the flag taped to her helmet laid down a tempo that matched only the beat of her heart.

She felt as if she could fly her bike right off the street and towards the stars.  The long, grueling election was over, and the nation had a new president — Blake Asgard.  The Warrior himself.  No longer did she have to worry about government regulating the corporation she worked for.  No longer did she have to worry about government tangling her workplace in red tape.  She was free.

She was the lead accountant at The Rainman Group, and the last thing she wanted to see in her office was the man from Washington looking over her books.  There were projects the government didn’t have to be concerned with hidden within those dollar values.  Projects that were better left as ink on the page, rather than as a man trapped in a testimony box.

The smile on her face was the brightest thing on the street on that cold night.

“O beautiful, for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,” she sang to the stars.

Her bicycle passed by the dilapidated store fronts, her voice resounding off of the foreclosure signs and tightly fastened wooden boards.  The downtown was a shell of what it once was, as many of the workers had been hired by the five mega corporations that now resided in the city.  Small business could not hope to compete against the signing bonuses that the new corporations were providing, nor could they ever hope to offer the benefits packages the corporations held out on fishing hooks.

“For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!”

She turned left on the corner of Main and Shady, passing the old Mayor Wisenberg Memorial Park.  The space had been sold by the city to Industrialized Industrial, where they quickly set up a briar patch of brass and steel that kept the steam mains of the city pressurized against their corporation’s heavy steam usage.  The corporation had given back to the community, however, by making sure that only 80% of the park space was used for their control station.  The remaining 20% housed a children’s playground, complete with requisite slide, sandbox, and merry-go-round.  All brass, of course.

“America!  America!
God shed His grace on thee,”

Two police officers were standing on the corner of Shady and Third Street, turning around as she drew nearer.  She reached inside her black blazer and produced two white envelopes, handing them out to the officers as she passed.  The burly officer on the curb grabbed them from her hand as she passed and gave her a friendly wave.  She turned around and nodded, smile still spread across her face as the officer’s partner lit the Molotov cocktail in his hand.  The flaming bottle smashed through the window of the Green Dragon owned building.  Light flickered on their faces as they opened their bounty, eyeing the checks inside of the envelopes. The sound of melting server architecture mixed with the air.

“And crown thy good, with brotherhood”

She turned onto Fourth, heading towards McClintock as her voice began to reach a crescendo.  She closed her eyes and took a long breath of the damp air.  Sirens began to break the quiet of the night, but she didn’t mind.  Everything was perfect.

She didn’t notice the silhouette woman on the roof, idly standing next to a darkened billboard.

“From sea to shining…”

The loud groaning of metal from above her snapped her from her trance.  She hit the brakes on her bike and looked upwards, towards the billboard.  It bent and snapped from its metal stand, the thick advertisement blotting out the stars, only leaving an empty, depthless rectangle in the night sky.

“…sea.”

The billboard marched towards her, shadow paired with the outline of a woman holding the huge object above her head.  She hurled the whole thing towards the biker on the road, her astonished face and dilated pupils explained why her legs weren’t moving.

As the billboard careened downwards, it slowly flipped in the air, briefly catching the light of the moon.  The painting depicted a happy, nuclear family having a picnic in the city’s main park.  Emblazoned across the beautiful, painted blue sky were the words “Burning Forest: An exceptional place to live!”

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Gaming Journalism vs. Real Journalism vs. Media Journalism

January 13, 2010

So there seems to be this interesting wave going through the blogging community regarding the state of gaming journalism.  It seems to be the usual “gaming journalists aren’t real journalists because they have opinions” tomfoolery that seems to rise and fall every once in a while.  It’s not the first time that this subject has come up, and it certainly won’t be the last.

But sitting down to think about it got me on an interesting train of thought — one where I actually began to think about gaming journalism against topics like “real journalism,” aka, news, and journalism that focuses explicitly on media forms.  Not “the media” mind you… journalism that centers on the entertainment industry or perhaps books.

Now, mind you, I’m in a very lucky position.  I have training as a “real journalist” thanks to my college writing track and I work for a MMO news website where we take pride in our integrity and, for the most part, post our news articles (not our op-ed columns) without bias.  We say what happens, we try to make it interesting to read, and that’s it.

Yet, even with our stances, you wouldn’t believe how many times we’re accused of being opinionated in our news posts, or how many times we’re yelled at by a reader for “manipulating” them with yellow journalism.  And that leads me to the problem that separates our news from other media outlets — fanboyism.

Make no mistake — we’re a culture founded on being competitive.  Pac-Man and Donkey Kong to World of Warcraft and beyond, we love trying to one up one another.  We’ve always taken our competitions to more meta-grounds, such as our irrational need to proclaim one game as “vastly superior” to another.  (See: World of Warcraft vs. Aion vs. Warhammer vs. Whatever Floats Your Boat.  The odd need to proclaim a game as shit.)  I personally thinks that this taints our view of our media in two ways: from the staff side and from the reader side.

Let me, first of all, back up Brian “PsychoChild” Green‘s assessment of my sister site — Joystiq.  When they wrote up their notice that Near Death Studios was going under, their post was a little caustic for a rote news article.  (Especially when you compare it to Massively’s coverage, and we’re sister sites.)  Obviously Randy Nelson was using Joystiq’s standard style of being slight cheeky and acidic in every post, but it seems to resonate harshly in this article.  These are the times when fanboyism is very clear and very unwelcome in a journalistic style.  Now, I can’t fault Randy… what he wrote is simply the site’s style and he stuck to it.  It works for them and it gains them readers, but it does certainly taint the idea of rote journalism for the rest of us.

However, the side that people aren’t noting or talking about is the stupid shit I have to listen to every day when we at Massively try to do our jobs professionally and to a more neutral standard.  When we talk about all of the games that surround us, we get accused of being biased simply because we talked about X game.  If we talk about a smaller game, obviously we’re being paid off by a developer to talk about it, such as when we cover Eskil Steenberg’s Love.  Other times, if we cover a story that negatively affects a company, we’re being the big evil media site who’s out to smash the little guy.

Honestly, when I and the rest of the staff pick up a story, we do it because we believe it to be newsworthy and of interest to our target audience.  The two key tenants of our target audience.  Hell, we even make sure that we’re trying to talk about all games in the industry, even the ones that people don’t exactly love to death.  Why?  Because that’s what being fair means — we give page space to everyone.  Is it always equal page space?  No, because not all games generate news at an equal rate. Yet, because our audience reacts with a very competitive edge and hates to see anyone offend their game of choice, we are accused of “assumed bias.”

In short, what I’m saying is that the nature of our very culture taints how we read our news.  Because of how opinionated we get as a culture, when others talk rationally, we see that as opinionated out of a defensive mechanism.  It’s really unfortunate.

As to comparing our journalism to physical news coverage or entertainment news, it’s extremely hard.  Physical news coverage doesn’t have the same level of opinion contained within it.  You can’t say, “Man, I loved it when they covered that presidential election.  That presidential election was the best sequel ever.”  People don’t have that same type of reaction to the news.  News happens, you talk about it to others, and that’s that.  You can’t undo what actually happened.  (You can spin it, however… and that’s what so many “real media” outlets are being accused of nowadays — heavy spin.)

As to entertainment news, once again, we don’t have that same type of rivalry with movie companies.  You usually don’t say, “Shit!  Guillermo Del Toro is way more badass than Peter Jackson!” or “Lord of the Rings really kicked Harry Potters ass.  Harry Potter shouldn’t even be in the fantasy genre.  Who the fuck subscribes to that shit anymore?”  What happens is that people go out, view the movie, form an opinion if they liked it or not, and go on their way.  Case closed.  They don’t compare and contrast (even the critics) nearly as much as we do in the gaming industry.  We, in the industry, feel that every freakin’ game needs to be compared to some other game in that genre and how it’s either X much better or X much worse.  And I’m not saying we do it as critics… players do this every single day without even thinking about it.  We’re all freakin’ critics around here.  Competitive critics who have to be right.

But even the entertainment news has problems… how many times do we call them “Rag Magazines” when they pry into the personal lives of actors and actresses?  How much is that media industry stained with useless gossip that most people brush off as petty?

So let me finish out with this clear cut statement — stop fucking comparing game journalism to other forms of journalism, as if you’re putting other forms of journalism on a pedestal.  They all have their problems and it all comes down to people, as a group, calling every form of media “opinionated and biased.”  Someone says the gaming media is tainted with opinion and bias.  Someone else says mainstream media is full of spin and mistruths.  And someone else calls entertainment media a bunch of petty star chasers or unreliable critics.

Guess what everyone?  All this tells us is that we’re all opinionated and we’re all biased. Whoops.

~Sera

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On leaving The Border House

December 18, 2009

Today was my last post on The Border House, for those of you who have read my few posts over there.  I know it’s a sudden departure, but I think it’s for the best for both The Border House and for myself.

I want to take the time to thank Cuppycake, Alex, Brinstar, and the rest of the staff for taking me on the site and explaining feminist ideals to me.  They’ve been really good and nice in dealing with my non-existent knowledge on the feminist perspective, and I’ve learned a lot from my short time on the site.  It’s really important that we have a site that looks at things from another perspective different from our own, and I wish them all the best of luck with the blog.  It has the potential to do a lot of good for many people.

I don’t want to dwell on my reasons for leaving.  To put it simply: I’m just not a feminist.  I’m a female transgendered person who identifies with pretty much everyone out there in one way or another, but I’m just not a feminist.

But, as I want to reiterate, I’m very thankful for the time I got to write there, I’m thankful for what I’ve learned and read, and I hope they continue to kick ass and do good.

~Sera