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Showing posts with the label Movies

Home Media for the Holidays

Another holiday season is upon us, and hopefully you’re reading this on the cusp (or in the middle) of some well-deserved time off where you can enjoy some media and games. But the clock is always ticking, and if you take too long to decide what to go with, you might not get to enjoy anything! This week, we thought we’d talk a little about strategies to help work out just what it is you want to experience when your available time is concentrated, but limited, whether it be film, books, television, or games of both the electronic and tabletop varieties. B : For me, the most significant starting point is always going to be tone and feeling. Even if you’re focusing on things specifically relating to the current holiday, you’ll still have a lot to choose from. Sometimes I’ll want something breezy and uplifting to inspire holiday cheer, but sometimes (most times, if we’re being honest), I’ll go for something darker and bleaker that fits the colder weather and shorter days - the first Dishon

...Spins a Web? Any Size?

Spider-Man, Spider-Man, Does whatever a spider can Spins a web, any size, Catches thieves just like flies Look Out! Here comes the Spider-Man. Spider-Man has been a pop culture stalwart since the early 60s, with no signs of that slowing down. He's had numerous comic series, spin-offs, cartoons, blockbuster movies and, of course, video games. His appeal is unquestionable, as most people can relate to his dilemma of power and moral responsibility. The Atari 2600 Spider-Man from 1982 may not have been a masterpiece, but electronic gaming has come a long way over the years. After a break from video games since the PS2 generation, Marvel's Spider-man seemed a perfect fit for Captain Jumpy Andy's return to consoles. Little did he know when he picked up a PS4 and the game early in the 2020 pandemic just how appropriate the game's plotline would be... Prophetic or not, what does Never Say Dice have to say about this incarnation of the world’s favorite web-slinger, and how

Batman's a Scientist!

Once again we find ourselves posting on a day that celebrates a beloved fictional character . And why not? After all, we’ve had days (and posts) celebrating these holidays before, even if our inner cynics know they're mostly marketing ploys to sell media and merchandise. We’ve talked about the nature of Superman and his stories in Strange, Familiar Visitor from Another Planet . We've taken tips for our tabletop games from Mario's adventures in the Mushroom Kingdom with Details: The Power-Up Mushroom for Your Narrative . And while he's arguably a vigilante, there's no argument against celebrating the enjoyment of our favorite caped crusader - Batman! In various forms, the character has always been a big part of our households, with many birthdays and Halloween party themes featuring hero (and villains) of Gotham City. There's plenty of inspiration to be found in the tales of the Dark Knight, so let's race to the Batcave and discuss them in today's Bat-Po

Fun With Murder: The Narrative Ethics of Assassination Games

It's funny. As someone who views "detective" as an integral part of their personality , I sure have a lot of crime games. Well, crime media in general, especially movies, but games have certain... implications. You're the one committing the crimes , not watching other characters do them or following a protagonist as they piece together criminal events through evidence and investigation. You're right there, doing all the bad stuff yourself. Recently, in the ongoing quest to tackle my massive game backlog, I've been playing the first Tenchu game, released in 1998. I bought it because the creators would later go on to make my beloved Way of the Samurai series, but if one looked at my shelves, they could easily assume I chose it thematically, as Tenchu 's neighbors include numerous Hitman , Assassin's Creed , and Dishonored games - a subgenre we'll call "assassination games." I've seen it remarked that there's an irony that, while

Odd Taxi's Genre Subversions

No matter what (or who) we're engaging with, first impressions carry a lot of weight. But even before we've made them, we already have a set of expectations and preconceptions. These can be based on deliberate signifiers (this taxi is available because it's parked and the light is on), cultural preconceptions (I can talk to the driver, but they won't engage with anything I say in-depth), and underlying, unquestioned fundamentals of reality (the driver will appear human). This takes place in media as well, and largely defines the way we engage with genre works . When our actual experiences don't line up with expectations, we experience a sense of confusion as our brains struggle to catch up and make sense of what it's been presented, confusion that may (or may not) be proportional to the nature of the dissonance. If someone was familiar with anime conventions and the types of stories typically featured in anime, but not, say, the convoluted, darkly comedic crime

The Space Between Blows: The Audience's Role in Narrative Combat

POW! BIFF! ZOT! Fight scenes have been a part of narrative media for... well, as long as there has been narrative media . The Illiad , for instance, is full of the granular blow-by-blow we expect of fight scenes today, regardless of medium . So this is not a topic for which I can do any kind of justice - I'm sure there are people who have dedicated their entire careers to the study of narrative combat, and there will always be more to talk about, more to discover. Rather, this post will explore some recent thoughts inspired by (what else) a mostly-forgotten twenty-year old video game. Oni is a third-person action game with a focus, despite the arsenal of weapons featured in the official art, on melee combat. Today, it's remembered mostly as the game Bungie made after Marathon and Myth , but before Halo . Culturally, it's a rather bizarre relic: a western attempt at making an "anime game" based on limited reference points that the creators lifted wholesale, partic

I Am Camp Incarnate: Trash History and Return to Castle Wolfenstein

Today is V-E Day, and earlier this week, by sheer coincidence, I declared victory over Return to Castle Wolfenstein - specifically the Playstation 2 version. I'd started it a while ago, but picked it back up both to try and cut down my gargantuan list of  “in-progress” games and to build up to playing the more recent titles in the series with Andy. Playing RtCW in 2021 was certainly... an experience . I haven't chosen the games I've played during the pandemic specifically because of their relation to current events, but an eerie number have featured infectious disease plots ( Metal Gear Solid V , Dishonored , and Marvel's Spider-Man ), so gunning down Nazis at least gave me a chance to engage with a different aspect of our unfortunate times. Return to Castle Wolfenstein is, obviously, an "historical" game, but in more ways than might seem obvious (or intended)., The era it conveys is not the 1940s in which it was set, but the way that period was conveyed in

Stay on Target: Bringing Star Wars to the Table

Star Wars, as a roleplaying universe, is one that is near and dear to my heart. In fact, long before I got into Dungeons and Dragons, Star Wars was my gateway into the world of tabletop roleplaying games. My father had mentioned D&D to me before, and we’d even played Dungeon! , but Star Wars was my first foray into what would become a lifelong hobby. It should be no surprise that the universe of space wizards and scruffy looking nerf-herders drew me to roleplaying. After all, I was already wearing “Jedi robes” and swinging around plastic lightsabers as a wee lad. Obviously, it was an already beloved world of pretend play, I just needed some dice to go with it. Add a best friend who had acquired the West End D6 system books, and the rest is Never Say Dice history. How do you recreate the excitement and magic of Star Wars at the tabletop though? In celebration of Star Wars Day , I’ve done my best to answer that question for my regular Dungeons & Dragons players in what may becom

Generic Post

Over the years, I've heard many an author, agent, editor, and publisher claim (facetiously or otherwise) that the concept of “genre” exists solely to make it easier for bookstores to arrange their stock, that it’s ultimately a marketing invention to better move product. It’s funny, though, I don’t think I’ve ever heard this sentiment from the people who enjoy said product, jokingly or otherwise, whether they be readers, players, or audience members. A divide of this scale can’t help but lead to questions. Are both groups talking about the same thing? What exactly is a genre, anyway, and what role does it play in the telling and experiencing of stories? I first began to question "genre" in a college creative writing workshop. Until then, I had taken for granted that the categories of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, horror, and thriller had been structured and organized by nature like the Periodic Table. This certainty wasn’t broken by coursework or  some newfound clari