Fans of the series Avatar: the Last Airbender really aren’t hard to find, particularly here on the internet. I consider this a good thing, and as far as I’m concerned the show is entirely deserving of the praise that has been heaped upon it. Which is what makes the hot mess that was the first season of its sequel The Legend of Korra, so damn depressing.
Don’t get me wrong, Korra is fun to watch. The animation is beautiful, the voice acting is well done, the characters are compelling, and the story’s premise is interesting. It’s just that the execution of that story is so amazingly lacking that it’s left me stunned and somewhat perplexed on how to analyze it. Continue reading
Warchief Garrosh Hellscream has been getting a lot of attention in the WoW community lately, and rightfully so. With the bombshell announcement that he will be featured as the last boss of the last patch of the Mists of Pandaria expansion, it’s really only fitting. To be honest, his impending violent deposing comes as no surprise to me. Garrosh is an interesting character in the WoW-verse. He was one of the first major characters to be introduced in World of Warcraft itself, and not a previous game or book. His character arc has been truly sweeping, going from depressed village chieftain to celebrated military commander to Warchief of the Horde to End Boss. Along the way he’s inspired a lot of passionate feelings in the fanbase. On the one hand, contempt and loathing from those who love the redemption arc of the Horde storyline and feel that Garrosh represents a narrative backslide. On the other, celebration and pride from those who embrace the “War” in “Warcraft” and who are attracted to the Horde-focused straightforward values of physical strength and honor through combat without petty politicking. For me, the fondness I maintain for Garrosh exists in a peculiar sort of limbo. I feel curiously detached from, yet deeply invested, in his personal story. It’s eerily similar to the sentiment I often felt toward the cadavers I helped my students dissect when I taught human anatomy. To me, Garrosh is a subject; one from whom I learned deeply, but to whom I feel no particular obligation. Allow me to elaborate. Continue reading
A few weeks ago I was served a very depressing reminder as to why I generally avoid multiplayer games, or multiplayer aspects of games, like they are some fungus-infested formerly edible resident of my refrigerator. I recognize that this is probably an odd thing to hear from someone who is best known as a World of Warcraft player/fan/writer/whatever, but it’s true. The vast majority of my time in WoW is spent on single-player activities, like questing, exploring, dailies, and other things that can be done alone. There is a reason for this and it’s really quite simple: crippling anxiety. Continue reading
Friday night I was lucky enough to catch a showing of “Indie Game,” a documentary film about the efforts of a few independent game developers as they work on bringing their visions to life. Four men are the focus of the story: Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes, developers of Super Meat Boy, Phil Fish, developer of Fez,1 and Jonathan Blow, developer of Braid. In a way Jonathan Blow is the odd man out. At the time of filmmaking Braid had already been released to wide critical acclaim, so Blow’s interviews were mostly a retrospective on the process. The others, however, were all neck-deep in the development process for the duration of the film. For me, it was pretty fascinating to listen to all four of these people discuss their thoughts, their motivations, and their work. Continue reading
There is a part of me that half-smiles at using the term “post-mortem” in this context. I find the phrase evokes fairly strong connections to my life, strange as it may be to refer to a life currently being lived as in any way “post-mortem.” My first paid position in graduate school was teaching a human anatomy dissection lab to allied health students, thus we really did deal with post-mortem human remains (and their insides). Furthermore, the Blizzard developers themselves have dubbed their reviews of their own design processes in the same manner, and I find a certain degree of amusement in that. Lastly, and unfortunately, there is the business of the massive layoffs at Blizzard on February 29th, an event which saw our recently-ascended forum manager, Nyorloth, lose his position on the Blizzard Publishing team. Nyorloth is a close personal friend of mine, and also ran the Blizzard Global Writing Contest. The termination of his employment almost unquestionably means the end of that annual event as well. Given my own connection to the writing contest, and its significance to me, I think it only fitting for my analysis to be framed with the end of this era in mind. Continue reading