I am, by nature, a roleplayer.
This perhaps isn’t a shock given the existence of this blog in the first place. I play roleplayings. Occasionally, I write for roleplaying games. I’ve got two roleplaying games fleshed out and ready for a creation that may never happen. When given Doctors’ diagnoses, I mentally argue why I deserve a saving throw.
This, naturally, extends to the online arena. I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time playing MMOs. While I’d tried Everquest back in the day, it wasn’t until City of Heroes — now so painfully gone — that the form sunk its hooks into me. Since then, CoH, along with Champions Online, Star Trek Online and Star Wars: The Old Republic have all grabbed my cerebral cortex and refused to let go. Among others, of course, but that’s not important right now.
However, there has often been a question… are these really roleplaying games? Do they truly constitute the assumption of a role, the playing within the context of that role, and the resolution of that role’s activity. Given the lack of a proper gamemaster responding to your actions, is there really a role being played, or is there just a well constructed avatar? And doesn’t everyone more or less just admit this isn’t any kind of RPG? They used to be called MMORPGs — Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games. Now… they’re MMOs. It’s still ‘massively multiplayer,’ with thousands or tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands or millions of players, but the ‘role playing game’ is left off.
It’s actually a more complicated question to answer than you might think.
My first really long essay in a while, on my Grognard Pedant blog. It’s mostly about RPG theory fu, to warn.
The start of the school year — or “f’ing September,” as we tend to call it — is a brutal thing. Nothing not school related happens, and it has gotten worse over the years. This year, we had an exceptionally tough summer with some heavy infrastructural upgrades and network expansions/changes/reformulations, and none of it is known to work until you have a full student body using it.
As a side note — so far it’s going very well indeed. But I digress.
Needless to say, my already pitifully small number of posts became “no posts at all,” and that’s the way it was. Honestly, I’m in no position to pick back up (in part because I have a rather ambitious plan for online doings — no, it does not involve a Kickstarter — that will shape what my online life for 2013 and beyond will look like, and so this is not the time to redevote my scrivenorial efforts to essay-writing) anytime soon.
But I just had a discussion with a coworker that I absolutely needed to pass along to you, the folks who I like passing stuff along to.
The discussion was on a technique he used for commenting code, and through it composing and documenting code. And it’s brilliant.
And it would work for almost any form of writing, cartooning, or creative endeavor just as well.
More after the break. I’m Terry Gross, and this is Fresh Aire.
Sometimes, even at this late date, people ask me why I’m so fast to disregard Authorial Intent in a work.
It’s a fair question. After all — all creative people feel inexorably bound to their creations, for good or ill. It feels like a tiny chunk of you has been wrapped up in descriptive text, imagery, lyrics, melody or what have you. And for many (not all) people, there is generally something you’re going for. Something you want to say, whether directly or indirectly. Something you want to imply. Some meaning behind your words. That meaning may be prosaic — sometimes a running gun battle is just a running gun battle — or obscure. (Sometimes a running gun battle is a metaphor for the individual finding himself opposed by his own dark reflection while the world of conformity around him is shattered in collateral damage which rains down upon the innocent and guilty alike. Also there are doves. Just accept that part, okay?)
The latest run of Young Justice is called “Invasion,” and while it is not in any way the same, it draws certain elements off a late 80’s comics crossover called “Invasion,” in particular focusing on the discovery and exploitation of the Metagene and ways to eliminate powers, control metahumanity and the like, as well as the use of shapeshiftes (Durlans in the original).
"Invasion," the comics crossover was plotted largely by Keith Giffen, working with scripter Bill Mantlo. Mantlo, known more for his Marvel work, where he created and developed long runs on the Micronauts and Rom, as well as creating properties like Cloak and Dagger, was involved in an automobile hit and run in 1992, which gave him irreparable brain damage. He had some progress getting better, after institutionalization, but his insurance ran out and he ended up in the only care facility his family could afford (and that just barely). The story is heart-rending for anyone to read. For someone who grew up with his comics, it is agony to think about.
DC? Warner? You don’t owe Bill Mantlo anything, legally. He did a job for you, did it well, was paid and you both move on. I don’t mean or want to claim otherwise. (I might have choice words for Marvel in this regard, but not DC). But here you are, drawing elements off work Mantlo did for you for a storyline in a popular cartoon. This is an opportunity. An opportunity for great press. An opportunity to have a public statement — to say “we recognize that we have no financial obligation to Bill Mantlo, but we and all the modern comics industry owes a lot to this man, and as the “Invasion” storyline develops, we want to demonstrate the kind of heroism we have always stood for.”
Please. Subsidize Mantlo’s care. It might be too late to give him the kind of recovery he once could have had, but at the least you can greatly improve his quality of life. At the least what progress could be made could be made.
I don’t have much I can offer as inducement, but here’s what I can offer. I’ve been critical of the New 52. I don’t apologize for that. But if you do this… I’ll buy every issue of every comic in the New 52 produced in its first year. It will take some time — I’m not particularly flush — but as long as they remain available via Comixology I’ll do it. I’ll buy all the good ones I couldn’t get to. I’ll buy all the ones I don’t care for. Hell, I’ll buy all the ones I actively dislike. Red Hood and the Outlaws? I’ll buy every. Stinking. Issue.
Like I said, it’s not much, but it’s what I can offer. It absolutely pales in comparison to what you can offer Bill Mantlo, his family and his legacy.
Upon hearing of the death of Gore Vidal, I had an immediate, almost visceral reaction, which I immortalized in Twitter form. That is the rhetoric of the age — immediate thoughts, put out in a form that was immediately visible for all to see. It was, in its way, the anthesis of Gore Vidal’s writing.
Still, I stand by it the next day, and will cheerfully reproduce it here:
I called the (inevitable) political cartoons of Vidal at the Pearly Gates inappropriate for two reasons: one, because Gore Vidal didn’t believe in Heaven. As with Christopher Reeve (an Atheist) and George Harrison (a Buddhist), there is something vaguely offensive of depicting Gore Vidal’s undergoing Heavenly judgment in an affectionate style. And two, because Vidal claimed Buckley was in Hell, and I have to believe if given the choice, he’d pursue him down there.
But, if there’s a Buckley knife fight. I’ll forgive them. More after the break.
I am not a Christian. I am also not a Conservative. I have opinions which are not held by neither the average Conservative Christian nor the average Christian Conservative. This is my right, even as they have the right to be Christian and Conservative.
However, I am also a writer. Right now, I’m writing a (I believe this is the term) fuck-ton of fiction.
I work very hard, both in terms of necessary research and in building writing skills, in making realistic, sympathetic Christians, Conservatives, Conservative Christians and Christian Conservatives in my stories. I have been dismissive before, and been rightly called on it. And I try to learn from my experiences. And, when I’m writing, I’m trying to reflect the world and nation I live in — in particular, a nation where forty percent describe themselves as conservative or very conservative and (as of 2008) seventy-six percent describe themselves under the very broad rubric of Christian.
I have very little interest in making forty percent of the characters in my stories one dimensional strawmen. I have even less interest in making seventy-six percent of the characters in my book intolerant ideologues. And when I write about those forty or seventy-six percent, I would like to do so accurately.
Why? Well, one seminal Christian principle, which is common to many other religions, is summed up in two verses. Matthew 7:12 (Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets) and Luke 6:31: (And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.) I would like my own philosophy, ethics, beliefs and principles to be represented well in the fiction of others. Further, I would like a character modeled on myself to have nuance and depth, being more than a mouthpiece for an overly simplistic interpretation of what someone on the other side of the aisle thinks about Liberals or Agnostics. The only way I know to encourage that is to live by it.
And if it doesn’t happen? If my ilk are characterized… well, as ideologues of any political or philosophical bent often characterize those different than themselves? Hey, at least one of the two of us will write with the empathy and compassion mandated by Scripture, right?