This week on “Cartoons Today are So Much Better Than in the 90’s”; Nickelodeon’s family-comedy serial The Loud House manages to get the obligatory “modern technology” storyline right! It seems like ever since smartphones ushered in the social media lifestyle, cartoons never managed to get through an episode dedicated to the topic without muttering about dang kids and getting off lawns. While there there’s usually a begrudging acceptance of modern technology, the Boomer mentality always seems to get the moral high ground based on how social media is supposedly turning kids into zombies/snowflakes/communists. The adults in the show tend to always be the wise ones when the younger protagonists inevitably delve too deep into their vidja-ma-games or Facebook analogues.
So how does The Loud House do it better? To summarize the relevant episode: dad determines the kids are using their electronic devices too much. Bans them. Kids hold a meeting and decide the way to get the ban revoked is to show dad how useful and entertaining the devices are. They succeed, and dad becomes too hooked on everything the kids wanted to be doing. Roles reversed, the kids have triggered the Aesop and now must acknowledge their own shortcomings and work to overcome them in someone else. They succeed, a Healthy and Reasonable Medium is struck. This is the first time I’ve personally seen an Aesop-based show acknowledge the positive aspects of technology, rather than making jokes about teens being “phone zombies” or oversharing everything on social media. The episode was written by people who are actually comfortable with technology and likely grew up with it from a young age, rather than having it “thrust upon them” once they were already an adult. This episode also avoids the equally-annoying stereotype of an adult being completely technologically-illiterate; once Lynn Sr., the father, learns how engaging technology can be, he quickly becomes an aficionado, even using “social media slang” in unironic ways (i.e. not just trying to mock the younger generation, but doing it for his own fulfillment).
Ultimately, the children and parent reach the conclusion together that a good balance can be achieved between online life and offline family time, with no one being the “I told you so”er. The show acknowledges the substance behind older folks’ anxieties that stem from seeing such a dramatic shift in a whole generation’s focus into a digital world that adults at the time had no knowledge of or control over. And then the show addresses that by bringing the adult into that world and showing them why the kids are so into it, and how he can use it just as well as they can. Personal technology and social media ten years ago probably felt like a fad to people who had already been around for decades. It’s almost 2018 now, and copping that attitude now feels trite. It’s high time we adopted more mature and informed standards on digital lifestyles that now connect the world, control markets and influence elections. As always, cartoons serve as an excellent barometer of changing social values.
Kamen Rider Calliope Update #1!
When I write something, especially a fiction piece, the question “why am I writing this?” passes through my mind a lot. It’s not referring to the large-scale, navel-gazing “why”; if that hadn’t been answered for me already, I wouldn’t have even started writing the piece in the first place. It’s the smaller, more close-and-personal “whys” that make me sit back sometimes and take a more scrutinizing look at how I’m writing something.
Why am I writing a character that embodies certain traits? Why am I using this setting? Why am I skipping over these details to focus on some other ones? For a writer, every word is a drop of paint on a canvas; no matter how small it may be on its own, a single tiny morpheme ultimately plays a part in shaping the audiences’ perception of your piece. To quote some already-abundant advice, make every word count.
This fiction piece I’m writing, Kamen Rider Calliope, is meant to fit into a pre-existing framework with well-established tropes and traditions. However, using prose instead of film as a storytelling medium creates another degree of separation between my story and the “purest essence” of what Kamen Rider is as a work of fiction. It would take a work of genius beyond my imagining to write a fanfiction that would perfectly evoke the sensation of watching Kamen Rider as a TV show. I never want to say that a creative endeavor is utterly impossible, but saying it would be attainable is almost insulting to the art of cinematic storytelling. There’s magic that can be produced through the lens of a camera when actors, script and cinematography all catalyze perfectly; words fail to describe the many layers of emotion and symbolism that can be seen in a tiny instant of a film.
I’m going to stop there because I’m in no way trying to say that prose is inferior to film; the two are simply different, and there are creative apexes that neither medium can truly cross over into, respectively. In following my intention to evoke the trademark feeling and pace of a Kamen Rider show, I’ve found that the scenes I’ve got planned out require a much higher wordcount to get through than I was expecting. At the time of this writing, I’m about halfway through act one of my outlined narrative, which would translate into the first two episodes of a Kamen Rider TV show. I’m predicting this act will be around 15,000-20,000 words in all… Now consider how most Kamen Rider series are 40 to 50 episodes total.
I’m not quite sure what I’ve gotten myself into, but for now I’ve still got the optimism to keep going full-steam.
Hello, readers and writers! I hope folks are having a productive NaNoWriMo. I’m plugging away on my own work, which ties into the news I have today.
In the coming months I will be publishing a serial fiction story through BloodLetterPress, the Kamen Rider Calliope Project. Every week you’ll be able to check in on our site to read the latest installment, similar to novels published in newspapers or magazines in the 19th and 20th centuries. The format has since mostly migrated online, and I’ve been interested in exploring the medium for awhile now.
Continue reading New Project Announcement!
BLP had an amazing time running our game Stars Fall Up with folks who attended Jiffycon this past weekend! A huge thanks to all who showed up and hung out with us. Seeing people be excited about the game makes us 1020% more excited about it as well, and personally speaking, it makes me want to keep making supplements for the game.
So here’s our first offering. Below you’ll find six pre-generated character that we used at Jiffycon for our SFU session. They’re totally free to use and remix however you feel like, so go nuts. The character templates are purposely vague to allow for a great amount of customization from players, while not having to fret over coming up ideas for backgrounds and #tags.
Continue reading Meet The Locals: Premade Characters for Stars Fall Up
Hey all, I (Nagi) am in charge of this week’s Going Around feature. I wanted to stick with the theme of fall, but we already did spooky last week. But the autumnal times are also periods of wonderful color, at least if you’re living in certain climate zones. So I want to ask:
Why is color important in creative media? What are your favorite examples of color in a piece of art or a narrative?
Continue reading Going Around: Colorful Descriptions
So, last week, I introduced the problem I was having with making engaging combat encounters with my teenage player group with a DnD homebrew system I’m running. And I promised an answer for my game design woes. Well, here it is:
I don’t really enjoy combat encounters myself. (Was that dramatic reveal worth the wait? Don’t answer that).
And from what I’ve seen, my players don’t either. But games like DnD are literally designed around combat encounters (or at least the first four editions were, I don’t have much experience with 5e); your character gains power and levels through EXP and loot obtained after beating up baddies. It’s more than something you’re encouraged to do via game mechanics; it’s the game’s M.O. It’s how you play the game.
Continue reading Are We Having Fun Yet? (Part 2)
A generational gap that divides opinions on what makes a game worth playing
My first roleplaying game experience takes me back to when I was 12 years old. I stepped out of a December snowsquall into Phoenix Games, a hole-in-the-wall game store squeezed into a strip mall five minutes down the road from my house. After purchasing the 3.5 DnD Player’s Handbook there, I joined a game group made up of kids who would become my closest friends for the next six to fifteen years. The game was run by the owner of the store, a late gen-X geek in his mid-twenties who got paid either nothing to way too little to put up with all of our teenage bullshit for the next few years. It was a seminal time for me, is the picture I’m trying to paint here.
Continue reading Are We Having Fun Yet? (Part 1)
I described Stars Fall Up as a “Communal Action” roleplaying game in the launch post. It’s a term I came up with myself, so I figured I should elaborate a bit more. In a roleplaying game that uses the Communal Action model, all players share equal power in creating the world they’re playing in, and determining the consequences of the actions their characters take. Many would recognize similarities to improv theater or collaborative writing.
Continue reading Dev Log 3: What are “Communal Action” RPGs?
Identifying the differences between stories that build up and stories that burst brightly
I have an issue with some stories that I don’t have with others, even when the pieces of media are relatively similar in aesthetic or narrative scope. I wondered about it on and off for years, trying to figure out the “X factor” that switched the paths in my brain between “I’m thoroughly engaged in this” and “I can’t figure out if I’m only watching this ironically now”. And while my analysis is far from complete, I feel confident enough in my results to write this post, which I’m hoping will be the first in a series of thoughtpieces on this topic.
Continue reading Fireworks vs Castle Narrative, Pt.1
Yesterday, July 25th, we did the first print run of our zine-based RPG. All of us at BLP are immeasurably proud to bring you Stars Fall Up: A mini-RPG for Us Damn Millennials.
Continue reading STARS FALL UP official release! BLP’s first (IRL) production!