rynling: (Ganondorf)
The Small Press Expo was amazing this year. One of the highlights of the convention was that I got to say hello to Sara Goetter and Natalie Riess, and they both signed my copy of The Legend of Gay Zelda Zine.

Back in the day, I had Sara draw an illustration for Ganondorf&!, a ridiculous fic I wrote about Ganondorf and Bowser being shitty gay dads together. She remembered this drawing because how do you even forget something like that, but what surprised me was that Natalie remembered it too.

Anyway, they drew me a thing, and it is transcendent.

Read more... )
rynling: (Cecil Harvey)
- I wrote the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth stories for my Ghost Stories zine.

- I finished the thirteenth chapter of The Legend of the Princess. I'll edit it and post it at some point during the next week. Since it helps me to see text in different formats and on different types of screens, I'm considering setting up another account here on Dreamwidth to post each new chapter as I edit it.

- I edited the eighth and ninth chapters of The Legend of the Princess for continuity. For example, I've decided that the library where a number of scenes take place has two doors and not just one, so I changed "door of the library" to "doors of the library" in the eighth chapter. I also decided (just this past week) that one of the previous Zeldas did not have any children, so I deleted two words from the ninth chapter that suggest that she did. Also, I tried to make some awkward phrasing slightly less awkward. These are small changes, but I'm doing my best, you know?

- The Legend of the Princess is a stupid shipfic that no one cares about, but the reason I'm keeping at it is because I want it to become the framework of my first novel. Turning this fic into a novel is going to involve more than filing off the serial numbers, especially since I'll have to introduce a lot of lore, geography, and fantasy taxonomies to the reader. I hate both exegetical infodumps and stories (especially science fiction stories) that throw out all sorts of nonsense terms without any explanation at all, so I've started taking notes on how I can better incorporate the worldbuilding into the plot. The fic is intensely focused on Zelda's point of view, but in the novel I'll have the opportunity to develop other characters, which is how I think I'm going to tackle issues related to what the hell is going on in this fictional world.

- I wrote about half (maybe?) of a short smutfic I intend to post on a separate account on AO3. I'm doing my best to employ all of the patterns and phrases from the Subclauses to Rule 34. It would be nice if producing smutfic were a skill I could develop. It's also possible that my efforts would be better directed elsewhere, but you don't know until you try.

- I spent more time cleaning up my art gallery and favorites gallery on DeviantArt. This could just be my imagination, but I'm getting the impression that people are starting to migrate back to DA from Tumblr.

- This was a hard week for me. Bad feelings were felt and many tears were shed, but I kept going anyway. I'm not entirely sure this is healthy?
rynling: (Default)
I saw the movie IT last weekend, and it was a good, solid, well-made piece of Hollywood cinema.

Twitter has also been a lot of fun this past week, with people making all sorts of jokes and comics about how they could easily be lured into the sewers with promises of controlled rent and affordable healthcare (this is a good example). This somehow (it's a long story) morphed into fan art of Pennywise and the Babadook dating and doing things like reading picture books and holding balloons (and so on). Some people have tried to explain this by saying that the young Scandinavian actor who plays Pennywise is actually quite attractive (which is true), but I think Twitter's recent obsession with Pennywise is nothing more than people playing around with something that is inherently silly and ridiculous.

If I had to read more deeply into this, I might say that there is a long history of horror movie monsters being coded as queer, and so people facetiously shipping Pennywise and the Babadook is about the normalization of queer romance, which was often characterized as monstrous in the era of postwar American horror films that IT references. I might also say that, now that many people have been forced to confront real-life political monsters due to the rise of militant xenophobic nationalism on a global scale, something like Pennywise (or the Babadook, whose film is widely understood as a Marxist-feminist critique of contemporary Australian society) doesn't actually seem that scary. In the end, these comics seem to be suggesting, it may be preferable to hang out with one's fellow "monsters" in the sewer than to be forced to deal with the monsters who are currently in charge of creating public policy.

Meanwhile, on Tumblr, there are several posts in circulation that are basically saying, WHY ARE ALL THESE ASSHOLES WHO SHIP PENNYWISE AND THE BABADOOK RUINING EVERYTHING BY DEMONIZING QUEER ROMANCE. These sentiments are so performatively radical and ignorant of actual queer issues that they read almost as parodies of Tumblr culture, yet they've received tens of thousands of notes and have been reblogged by people in my own circles of fandom who, by all rights, are old enough to know better.

Personally, I tend to think that people who care about representation in popular media would be better served by celebrating all the things that the actual movie did right, especially in its adaptation of the source material. Let's be real, the book was borderline homophobic in its villainization of queer sexuality. To give an example, in the original novel, Mike Hanlon (the farm kid who stays in Derry and becomes a librarian) is only allowed to join the central circle of friends because another kid turns out to be gay and thus too weak, mean-spirited, and cowardly to fight evil. In the movie, however, one of the child heroes is not only very clearly coded as gay but also gets a lot of screentime, character development, and fantastic lines. Also, unlike the book, there is no bizarre and intensely heteronormative child orgy at the end of the movie, thank goodness.

I feel like, if you want to talk about social justice as it applies to IT, there are so many more interesting and meaningful ways to go about it than to yell about how gay artists on Twitter are making jokes about the love life of a fictional clown monster, good grief.
rynling: (Gator Strut)
Do you ever have one of those days where you really encouragement and support?

This is one of those days for me.

If the internet pornbot overlords are listening, this is my prayer:

Please let people leave kudos on my fic on AO3. Please let people like my art on Tumblr. Please let me not lose any followers on Twitter after tweeting about gay comics.

These are such small things, Oh internet pornbot overlords, but they mean the world to me.
rynling: (Mog Toast)
- I wrote the second, third, and fourth stories of my Ghost Stories zine.

- I edited and posted Chapter Twelve of The Legend of the Princess. After I posted it on AO3, I put it through two more edits, both of which were highly necessary. This week I need to figure out a way to get a chapter in better condition before I post it.

- I emailed Lightsintheskye to ask about commissioning an illustration for the narrative arc I just finished, which took a lot of courage. No one is reading this stupid story, and no one cares if it updates, and probably most people see these illustrations as delusional narcissism on my part, but I managed to make a firm decision that I DO NOT CARE.

- I'm still editing Claws and Lace. I think at this point I could write an entire fucking MFA thesis about what this process has entailed, it's getting kind of ridiculous.

- I made one post to my professional blog and one post to my video game blog. When I linked to these posts on Twitter, people liked them, which was nice I guess. I've been trying to be more active on Twitter lately, and it's difficult. The platform has never really worked for me, but what can you do?

- A friend of a colleague is helping to edit a textbook about video games commissioned by Routledge. She got in touch with me to ask if I would contribute roughly 7,000 words about Final Fantasy, and I said yes because OF COURSE I DID. I sent a rough precis of the content to her yesterday morning so that she can send it along to the publisher. I then went out and drank almost an entire pitcher's worth of mimosas because this sequence of events is most definitely outside of my comfort zone.

- Against my better judgment I posted two of the Human Bowser character designs I've been messing around with in Photoshop, here and here. I also posted a rough design for Peach.
rynling: (Celes Chere)
There's an expression in Japanese that roughly translates as "You can see a lot of great scenery if you start from the bottom." Someone mentioned it at work yesterday, and it really resonated with me, especially in terms of how much I suck at art.

I'm not usually in the business of applying aphorisms to my life, but I think the fact of me not being any good means that I can try a lot of new things without having to worry too much if something doesn't work out. I'm therefore thinking about going to an event hosted by the DC Zine Lab next Thursday just to see what's up. If it's strange and unpleasant, I can bow out like a boss, but then again it might actually be cool? If nothing else, the city of DC spends a lot of money on its public libraries, so at least the architecture of the meeting space will be interesting.

Also, it's supposed to be sunny and warm tomorrow, so I've already let people know that I'm going to be leaving work early. My plan is to have a leisurely Friday afternoon drink at a hotel bar in Dupont Circle and, thus fortified, head over to Fantom Comics to ask about drawing groups.

I also decided to go ahead and try to pull off my "Let's Draw Zelda Characters from Memory" idea at Anime USA, which is apparently being held in December (instead of October; bad decisions were made) this year. I'm going to need to start thinking about what this will entail, but not just yet. One step at a time, my dudes, one step at a time.

I know that sincerity and enthusiasm are not cool, but I will BE BRAVE and FACE LIFE!!
rynling: (Ganondorf)
Last night I put up a post on Tumblr...

(Or rather, early yesterday morning I wrote a post and scheduled it to go live last night, because that is how I handle my business with Tumblr. I'm subscribed to a handful of Tumblr blogs on a reader service called Feedly, so I get my fan art along with the news. From Feedly I'll open Tumblr posts in a new tab and schedule all of my reblogs for the day. This means that I end up spending less than five minutes on Tumblr, which suits me just fine.)

...about how it's reasonable to expect that many gamers would be attracted to a character like Ganondorf. After all, if the average age of console gamers is 35 (source), then it makes sense for "the average gamer" to be attracted to a character in his thirties instead of the teenage protagonists.

I love young people, I really do. I admire their energy and their creativity and the sincerity of their convictions. I want to support young people and see them rise in the world, and I'm always interested when someone in their teens or early twenties shares their opinions with me. That being said, the idea of sleeping with one of them creeps me out, and sometimes I can't help but get the sense that their thoughts and feelings are immature because, you know, they're still kids.

Age doesn't necessarily have anything to do with maturity, of course, and I know plenty of people in my own generational cohort who I wish would just grow the fuck up already. This is why, when someone mentions an "adult" topic implying adult responsibilities like children or a mortgage, I am instantly put at ease. (Also, childcare and real estate are endlessly fascinating, even if you, like me, don't have kids and will probably never own a house).

Unfortunately, I'm at a weird intersection of maturity in which I consider myself to be an adult but have the artistic ability of someone still in high school. This means that, if I join some sort of comics drawing group with other amateurs, they'll more than likely be younger than me, and it will be embarrassing that I still suck so much. Although honestly, what scares me even more is the prospect of joining a meet-up of enthusiastic adult hobbyists, because let's be real, those people can be kind of strange.

Ah well. You don't know until you try. I really need to get over myself and talk to the people at Fantom Comics. The people who work at the store seem to be in their late twenties and early thirties, and there's a good gender and racial mix, so I always feel comfortable there.

Just for the record, though, Japanese video games are really weird about age. Like technically, if Tidus is 17, and Auron says that he was Tidus's age when he went on his pilgrimage with Braska ten years ago, then Auron is 27, which means that according to JRPG logic if you're older than 27 years old then you should be probably just be put out of your misery already.
rynling: (Mog Toast)
So far I've written three short stories for my "Ghost Stories" zine. I haven't been spending too much time on this, but I've been enjoying myself. Is writing supposed to be fun? I honestly can't remember.

In any case, I've been supporting a Zelda webcomic called Growing Up Gerudo on their Patreon for about a year now. The authors have published their first zine, and I just got a copy in the mail. The zine actually doesn't contain the comic, but rather a few character bios and stories set in the world of the comic. The print quality isn't particularly high; but, because this is essentially a fic zine, it doesn't need to be. I think this is a case in which the form fits the content perfectly – it's attractive without being pretentious.

I'm kind of afraid of the Zelda fandom, which I've found to be hostile and unpleasant, but this comic and zine were made by two sweet children who have never hurt anyone, so I figured I might as well ask them where they got it printed. They got back to me almost immediately and said that, although they worked with a service local to Cleveland, it was extremely slow, so they recommend spending a bit of extra money and just going to Staples. Good to know!

I also reached out to Cynthia Liu, whose art zines I've been buying for more than five years. I emailed her to ask what service she uses, and she recommended Smartpress. Granted, their publishing quality is really high, but so is the quality of her artwork. I don't think I'm even remotely at that level yet, but maybe one day.

This begs the question of whether I intend to put together a zine of my own Zelda comics; and, if so, what name I'm going to publish them under. These are difficult questions, so I'm not going to worry about them right now.
rynling: (Celes Chere)
Earlier this year I managed to secure a commission from Grace Allison, a professional artist who does a lot of work related to games, including a fantastic Mario-themed illustration for the cover of the program for the Seattle Retro Gaming Expo (link). I told her that I wanted her to draw Princess Peach in contemporary clothing. When she asked me specify what sort of fashion I was inspired by, I gave her two words: Michelle Obama.

These are two of the design sketches she's sent me! )

Although I am obviously in love with Peach myself, this is also something I want to share with two of my female friends from college who are gearing up to run for public office in different parts of the country. Girls be ambitious!
rynling: (Gator Strut)
- I wrote the twelfth chapter of The Legend of the Princess. This means that the fic is exactly half done. All of the plot points have been set up, and now I need to go about resolving them. Over the past four chapters I ended up simplifying a number of things I planned to be more complicated and nuanced because I have completely run out of both stamina and interest. As was the case with The Marriage of Lanayru, I just want to get to the fucking and then finish the story.

- I'll post it when it's ready, probably at some point later this week. In the meantime, I edited the eleventh chapter a bit more.

- I wrote the first piece of flash fiction for my Ghost Stories zine. It's about 490 words long.

- I got back to work on my nonfiction book project about comics.

- I wrote and sent off an abstract for a talk I'm scheduled to give in Toronto next spring at a media conference.

- I put together my annual self-evaluation report for work. I am objectively awesome, but this was still irritating and unpleasant.

- I've been spending a lot of time with Photoshop this week, and I filled a forty-page sketchbook (one of these) with doodles of various Nintendo characters. None of this is worth sharing, and in fact I think I've been having a lot more fun because I don't feel pressured to update my Tumblr. The plan is to spend enough time away from the site that I no longer give a damn about things like "friends" and "community" as I blithely post whatever the hell I want. Self care is playing your fiddle while Rome burns.
rynling: (Mog Toast)
It's time for me to start taking writing seriously!!1! I proclaim here on Dreamwidth, but that's easier said than done. I'm constantly perplexed that I am absolutely unable to motivate myself.

One of the tricks people use to encourage themselves is to set small, concrete, and reasonable goals. I think that, if I'm going to get anywhere with this whole "writing fiction" business, I'm going to have to take things one step at a time.

Let's say that my first goal is to table at the DC Zine Fest next summer. I order to do this, I need to have a zine. I already have several left over back from when I lived in Indiana (during which time I sold them at Quimby's in Chicago), but I want to make a new zine with new material. Specifically, I want to write ten pieces of flash fiction and accompany each story with a small illustration. I'm going to need to figure out formatting and printing, and I'm going to need to figure out what to do about the cover, and I'm also going to need to figure out whether I'll use my own stupid name. The first item on the agenda, however, is to write the fucking stories.

The theme of the zine is going to be "ghost stories," which I think is going to be the title as well. What I need to focus on now is writing ten pieces of less than five hundred words that fit the theme, and I'll worry about the rest later.
rynling: (Default)
I'm more or less constantly editing my more recent fic, but what prompted me to go back to my old FFVI fic was embarking on a deep dive into Vrazdova's archives. We used to be friends of a sort on DeviantArt (where she went by fashion-jerk), and when someone recently sent me a link to her BBC Sherlock story Adagio Lamentoso I recognized her name immediately.

Her writing is good, and I mean like, really good. Flawless, actually.

I'm gradually working my way through her FFVI novel Unbalanced; and, even though I'm very much enjoying myself, it also pains me to see that she wrote this in 2012, especially since the only thing I wrote in 2012 was, well... Anthro Bowser in Leather Pants. In other words, while I was partying Vrazdova studied the blade. This is why she is a fantastic writer and I am still embarrassing myself every time I post something.

I wasn't just drinking and goofing off, though. Up until around 2013 I maintained a fairly steady flow of content on LiveJournal, and 2012 was also the year that I finally managed to establish myself as a professional writer, albeit in an entirely different style and genre of writing. I was working my ass off at the beginning of my career, which is probably why I thought that I didn't have time to write fiction. I told myself that it was something I would do once I didn't have to worry about paying the rent, and in any case I didn't know anyone who also wrote fiction and could have encouraged me or given me feedback.

I think it's probably fair to say that Vrazdova has an innate level of talent that I simply do not, and there's really nothing I can do about that - but also, I should have started taking my writing a lot more seriously much earlier than I did. As things stand, I feel like I'm having to work extra hard just to catch up.

The take-away point here is that, if I want to be serious about writing, I am going to have to stop wasting time and (a) start writing original fiction so that I can (b) start getting challenging and constructive feedback. What this means in concrete terms is that I am going to have to deprioritize writing fic in order to put together a body of work that can be submitted along with applications for writing workshops.

More on this story as it develops, I guess?
rynling: (Mog Toast)
Because why write new fic when you can torture yourself by editing old fic?

After the World Was Won
This is a story about sexism in STEM fields wherein Daryl is frustrated with Setzer for achieving more recognition for doing basically the same work. Now that I am closer to the age I intended Daryl to be in the story, however, I realize that intelligent adults don't express frustration in quite the way I had her doing. I therefore made Daryl's language less blunt and her sense of ironic detachment drier. Setzer has an awkward monologue that I could have edited, but I decided that it's in character for it to remain a bit stilted.

Another Chip in the Pile
Dubious consent was a major theme in m/m fanfic when I wrote this story. I remember being bothered by that but at the same time interested in what dubious consent can do that depictions of healthy relationships cannot. For whatever reason, I still find stories of emotionally damaged people stumbling backwards into sex compelling, and I'm surprised by how fond I am of this fic, which is about Owzer attempting to fuck Setzer out of his depression. Politics aside, editing this fic taught me that the word "guttural" achieves semantic satiation very quickly, and I am hereby instating an ironclad rule that it can only be used once in any given story about buttsex.

Every King Needs His Guard
This is a very short postgame fic about Sabin assassinating Cid so that Edgar doesn't have to. I edited it to get rid of some of the more florid phrasing while making Sabin a bit scarier.

The Lure of Machinery
You can really tell I was still developing my chops when I wrote this one. Instead of fixing the numerous instances of stylistic awkwardness, I just deleted them wholesale. I should probably delete this entire story, but I am still to this day super into the idea of Setzer and Edgar being engineer husbands.

Float
I wrote this Setzer/Edgar story only five months after "The Lure of Machinery," but it is worlds better. It's not good, exactly, but it's moving in the right direction. I edited the dialog to make it tighter and crispier. I've been so tits deeps in the pretentiousness of Zelda fic that I forgot I enjoy writing banter... I should get back to that at some point.

Two Kingdoms
A year or two ago the great and noble Kashuan reblogged a post about how the OP immediately hits the back button upon realizing that a fic is written with a first-person narrative voice. I thought of this specific Peach/Bowser fic when I read that post, and now I have finally edited it to be in third person. This actually took a substantial amount of work, but I will not embarrass myself by revealing just how much. The story is still a heap of weird and pretentious garbage based on deep lore culled from the instruction manuals of the NES era Super Mario games, but at least now it's marginally less cringe-inducing.

Claws and Lace
This is not old fic, but I've been returning to it to make edits every week since I posted it. When I said that it needed a lot of editing I meant that it needed A LOT of editing; I am very serious about my crackfic and would never joke about something like this. If I am going to write a story about Peach and Bowser having awkward monster sex then it is going to be classy and well edited, so help me Crackfic Jesus.

Okay wow, making these cosmetic changes has indeed made me feel a lot better about my monumental lack of progress on more meaningful projects. Good job team!
rynling: (Default)
It's been three weeks since I wrote one of these! What have I been doing in the meantime? Playing games, reading fic, and drinking. Life is good, mates.

- I put up the eleventh chapter of The Legend of the Princess. Now that I'm off Tumblr, I don't feel obligated to post something new every week, so I edited this chapter a little every day for two weeks instead of destroying my weekend by gang pressing myself into an intense five-hour editing session.

- Why was I working so hard? I can't remember tbh.

- I edited a bunch of my old fic! I'll write more about this tomorrow.
rynling: (Teh Bowz)
Yesterday evening I spent a good bit of time on TV Tropes (as one does) trying to find the name of a specific sexist trope. What I found instead was that TV Tropes isn't particularly interested in documenting that sort of thing, which is a deliberate decision attributed to editorial policy. The rationale behind this is that the mods don't want to deal with flamewars. This seems like it makes sense, except...

...except there is a lot of borderline sexist nonsense on the site. For example, tropes related to male-gendered wish fulfillment are treated seriously, while tropes related to female-gendered wish fulfillment are ridiculed as the products of bad writing. The word "fangirl" is always used with negative connotations, frequently in tandem with "bad fanfiction." This is especially the case when female fans interpret a story in a way that is not 100% compliant with the male-authored canon, or when female writers create empowered "Mary Sue" female characters in their own work.

When I was a senior in college, I once found myself in a dorm suite with a bunch of nerdy guys who all fancied themselves to be creative types. Even though they had obviously never read any fanfic other than the sort of thing pilloried on the Something Awful forums, they spent a good hour talking about how disgusted they were by female fans, who insist on ruining everything for everyone by getting their nasty little fingerprints all over High Art like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. I stopped spending time with these men shortly after that, and I gradually learned to avoid people who remind me of them.

This is why I sometimes forget that entire congregations of these howling assclowns still dominate large swaths of the mainstream internet. I suppose there's nothing to be done for it except to shake my head and step away.
rynling: (Mog Toast)
Me: The puzzles in Rime are annoying, and the platforming elements are awful. If this turns out to be one of those indie games where the kid is dead all along, I'm not sure it's worth it to...

Me: *checks spoilers on YouTube*

Me: GODDAMMIT.

I think Rime is supposed to be about four hours long. Not counting my first hour of wandering around aimlessly, I put about two hours into it, and I think I'm done. Rime is like Journey without the charm and like Wind Waker without the cleverness and solid gameplay. Where it succeeds visually are its brightly colored landscapes, but it forces the player to spend a lot of time in unlit interiors. I think there's supposed to be an emotional payoff at the end, but I'm not feeling it.

Spoilers... but not really, you already know how this ends )

I think I would have preferred a more straightforward story of a kid being shipwrecked on an island and discovering the remains of an ancient civilization. The game is structured so that the kid is able to visit the island in what seems to be different time periods: in one it is lush and green, in another it is filled with ghosts and sand-choked ruins, in another there are robots, and so on. Also, many of the game's puzzles involve circles, orbits, the sun and moon, light and darkness, and other elements that suggest the cyclical nature of time. It would therefore make sense, both in terms of game design and gameplay, to have the game's theme be the ultimate ephemerality of even the most monumental human achievement within the endless flow of time.

I think it would also be cool if the game involved the kid gradually realizing that they are the heir to this ancient civilization but then leaving everything behind on the island so that they can go home. Or the kid inadvertently (or deliberately) destroying everything on the island and being okay with it. Or the island being some sort of trial or pilgrimage the kid has to undertake in order to become an adult, kind of like a spirit quest.

I guess I wanted the game to be more thematically cohesive. As it stands, it's a waste of what could have been some gorgeous environmental storytelling. I'm not sure that even the most resonant of themes and the most brilliant of storytelling could have made up for the shitty puzzles and platforming, though.
rynling: (Default)
What Remains of Edith Finch is a walking simulator that takes about two and half hours to complete. I think it was released back in April on Steam, but it just made its way to the PlayStation 4, and oh my goodness it is gorgeous.

What Remains of Edith Finch falls into the most perfect category of video games: It was created for an adult audience by a small team of developers who take full advantage of the interactive gaming medium but have no intention of fucking with the player. The game is emotionally challenging, and there's a lot to explore and take in. The design is flawless, and the atmosphere is never broken by the player having to get up and check a walkthrough.

You play as a young woman named Edith Finch who is returning to her family's house on a small island off the coast of the Pacific Northwest. The house has been abandoned ever since Edith's mother moved away in order to escape the family curse, which seems to be that everyone who is born into or marries into the Finch family dies in a tragic accident. In order to find closure, Edith tries to reconstruct the details of these deaths, which the player is allowed to experience for herself in a series of games within the game.

The story progression is definitely on rails, but it doesn't feel that way. Even though we know that each story will end in death, the player's interaction with the game is integral to the storytelling. The example I'm going to give isn't so much a plot spoiler, then, as it is a spoiler for the firsthand joy of figuring out what's going on for yourself.

Read more... )

What Remains of Edith Finch is one of those games that made me cry not because it's sad, but because it's so goddamn beautiful. It doesn't give the player the same sort of transcendent experience as something like Everybody's Gone to the Rapture or Abzû but instead offers a smaller and more self-contained story. Epic postapocalyptic science fiction is all well and good, but it's also nice to see the gaming medium used to apply magical realism to a Gothic drama of family ghosts and dying communities.
rynling: (Terra Branford)
"Everyone's smiles shine so brightly. Those smiles led us to so many other people. And those meetings will lead us to a bright future. I'm so glad I got to meet everyone. I'm so glad I got to meet you."

- Lillie

Pokémon Sun is such a sweet and gentle game. It only took me about 45 hours to finish it, but I spread it out over ten months because the world of the game was a surefire source of happiness and joy. Breath of the Wild was a lot of fun, but Pokémon Sun healed me.

As I wrote when I started the game (link), Pokémon Sun is an unapologetically positive model of what a postcapitalist utopia might look like. Money isn't much more than a game token, everyone's needs are met, and there is no scarcity; jobs pay well, leisure is abundant, and volunteerism is common. There is a state, but it only exists to provide basic services. The villains in the game are aberrations that have to be tolerated as a byproduct of the functioning of the local market system, which is driven by individual interests. Basically, even in a postcapitalist system with no scarcity, some people will still insist on behaving according to capitalist ideology, and those people will create problems for everyone else if someone doesn't talk sense into them.

What I especially appreciate about Pokémon Sun is that it repeatedly emphasizes the message that everyone's talents are valuable. Success is achieved through cooperation and mutual support, and the goal is not to "get stronger" but to develop one's unique strengths. The character Lillie is a good example of this value system. She wants to get stronger at the beginning of the story, but gradually she finds the courage to resist the expectation (enforced by one of the game's villains, who happens to be her gorgeous and fascinating mother) that there is an absolute standard to which she should aspire. That being said, Lillie isn't content to "be herself," as she acknowledges that change isn't something to be afraid of, and she makes a firm decision to direct her own character evolution by setting her own challenges.

If you choose to play as the female protagonist, the relationship between this protagonist and Lillie is the most pure and perfect thing I have ever seen in a mainstream game. I'm actually really surprised that Nintendo allowed this, considering how gay it is.

The people who wrote the entries in the pokédex are complete savages, though. That shit is dark, and whoever is responsible for it needs to reflect on their life choices and think about what they've done.
rynling: (Gator Strut)
I’m going to be taking a break from Tumblr for a while. The polarization of the politics there has convinced me that it’s not a safe or sane place to be right now.

According to the dictates of what’s become known as “purity discourse” on Tumblr, media that contains elements deemed to be “problematic” is a direct threat to human life and civil liberties, and fans who create work referencing the wrong character or romantic pairing must be violently called out for the good of the community. This is why, between April and October of 2016, I received messages containing murder and rape threats on a weekly (and sometimes daily) basis. In addition, multiple Tumblr users who didn’t even bother to send messages anonymously bombarded me with detailed instructions on how to commit suicide.

Although these intimidation tactics reflect those of alt-right communities on 4chan and reddit, they are a direct result of global reactionary political movements. In other words, people who justifiably felt as if they were under attack in the real world vented their frustrations on the targets within their reach, many of whom unfortunately happened to be members of other marginalized groups on Tumblr.

In the wake of the American presidential election, this activity intensified, and many people have responded to aggressive radicalism by discounting progressive ideas altogether. Since purity discourse has shut down a number of conversations concerning issues such as race and representation, what has filled the void is content that has become popular because it presents a facade of the diversity privileged by Tumblr culture while actually supporting conservative beliefs.

Within my own particular corner of fandom, almost every progressive voice was driven away by the same sort of harassment I suffered; and now, in the absence of these voices, expressions of white supremacy are tolerated and occasionally even tacitly encouraged. To speak out against these sentiments is tantamount to identifying oneself with purity discourse, thus inviting backlash and ostracization.

I refuse to choose between ideological purity and casual racism, and so I think it’s best if I distance myself from Tumblr until I can clear my head a bit.
rynling: (Ganondorf)
I think one of the main problems with getting older and listening to NPR on my car radio all the time is that I don't know whether songs like this are actually popular or just widely appreciated within the subset of internet people who share my particular interests.

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