Things have been quiet here for a few days while I’ve been away at a wedding and then polishing up a couple papers to submit to a conference. Now I’ve got more links of interest than I can shake a stick at. I’ll skip the stick-shaking, then, and just try to post a bunch of stuff without much further comment.
First, links of general geeky interest, and then, some more specific stuff about games, comics, and Harry Potter (or rather, Dumbledore).
Nerdy Boston Weekend: Tomorrow, I’m headed to a Beauty and the Geek casting call to do some participant-observation research. I figure the best way to justify my presence there and get a sense of the process is to just try out myself, but it would probably overcomplicate my life if they actually found me interesting. (My guess is they won’t, as I plan to make no secret that I’m there for my own research.) Later in the evening, I’ll be headed to Nerdnite in Jamaica Plain for some more participant-observation. I wanted to just go as an attendee this time around, but I promised that I’d present something next time if they’re still interested and I’m in town again.
A Trip Back in Time: I happened upon an article from a couple years ago by Lev Grossman, Time‘s current “Nerd World” blogger, about how ‘geek’ is becoming mainstream. This led me to a longer interview with Neil Gaiman and Joss Whedon, which I remember reading some time ago but wanted to link again.
Our Geeky Military: Via Boing Boing: “New book features US Military emblems, shows the Pentagon is full of D&D geeks and X-Files fans.” The book is titled I Could Tell You but Then You Would Have to Be Destroyed by Me: Emblems from the Pentagon’s Black World.
Geek Chic: The other day, someone asked me if there is really such a thing as “geek chic.” All I could think to say at the time was that it’s in the Oxford English Dictionary dating back at least as far as the early 1990s (a classic geek answer, if i do say so myself). In case that’s not proof enough, apparently this concept has its own Wikipedia entry separate from the main ‘geek’ entry. That entry includes a picture of Steph the Geek, whom I had never heard of before, but that seemed worth a link.
More Nerdy Writings: I feel the need to update this post with a couple things I just stumbled upon. One is Nerdblurb, which a friend recommended to me (well, its podcasts, anyway). The other is Stephen Fry’s new column at the Guardian, whose inaugural entry is titled Welcome to dork talk” (link via Daring Fireball, sent to me by Dan Moren, with whom I’m sharing a booth at Diesel Cafe in Somerville).
Games Should Not Be Movies: In “Constructing Artificial Emotions” at Gamasutra, Daniel Cook makes the case that video games should skip the script and focus on what they seem to do best. (Link via Kotaku.) This kind of goes in the opposite direction from my own recent postings on games and narrative.
Serious, Artsy, Congressy: The Escapist has a whole issue now on interesting game formats, including articles like “Ten Myths About Serious Games,” a piece on video games in art exhibits, and a piece on Fantasy Congress.
RPGs, Sort Of: This review of The Witcher at Eurogamer (link via Kotaku) explains that video game “RPGs” have more to do with the formal properties of early Dungeons & Dragons than with actual “role-playing.” I link to this because people are always asking me what on earth makes a video game an RPG.
Life Without Achievements: One Kotaku writer reflects on how life is better without Xbox Live Achievements: “Jesus, since when was it fun to force yourself to play through parts of a game just to earn yourself an arbitrary point score? Last I remember it was around 1987. We moved on from there for a reason. Because it’s stupid.”
Another Sort of Game Review: Hipster, Please! refers us to Little Miss Gamer: “PBC touts Little Miss Gamer as ‘a game review show for everyone,’ but I respectfully disagree. Itâ€™s actually more of a game review show for those gamers who are neither Xbox Live douchebags nor Evercrack addicts; itâ€™s a game review show for folks who game for pleasure, as opposed to those who do it for the sake of following the lead of their respective demographics.”
Formerly Known As “The Guide to Comics”: Wizard Magazine is now billing itself as “The #1 Men’s Pop Culture Magazine.” Anyone who has read Wizard will not find this much of a surprise; that’s why Frank Miller famously tore up an issue on stage at the 2001 Harvey Awards, explaining, “Even though this monthly vulgarity . . . [cries] to all the world that weâ€™re as cheap and stupid and trashy as they think we are, we sponsor this assault.” (I wish I could find a full transcript online still.) Nevertheless, Dirk Deppey collects all the surprised responses (search for “fangirls” on that page).
Comics Can Be Successful: Tom Spurgeon sums up recent developments in webcomics business models. Also: an ironic link with the text “Hooray! Comics finally saved!” to an article on the 30 Days of Night film adaptation, which “takes graphic novel films out of the fan-boy ghetto” Also: “Essentially, 30 Days of Night is a hit-and-miss step in a direction that opens the possibility for audiences who donâ€™t eat smelly nachos and live in their parentsâ€™ rumpus rooms to enjoy the movie as well.”
Color in Comics: One of the papers I just submitted to a conference had a paragraph or two on experimental uses of color in comics, which made it the least discussed formal technique of the paper. Fortunately, Derik A. Badman has me covered in Panel & Pictures: Changing Colors.
In Brief: Yes, I need a whole category for links related to J.K. Rowling’s announcement (or rather, explosive, offhand comment) that she “always thought of” Dumbledore as gay. The story was broken by Potter fan site The Leaky Cauldron, where the news about Dumbledore shares a headline with some other characters’ marriage plans.
On “Geeks Gone Wild”: The most extensive single-story write-up I’ve seen so far has been from Bay Windows, “New England’s Largest GLBT Newspaper.” It discusses Rowling’s possible motives and general reaction, both positive and negative.
On Authorial Authority: Jason Mittell questions what it means for Rowling to keep making addenda to the series after its completion: “The press & blogs Iâ€™ve read seem to be treating it as a statement of fact – itâ€™s Rowlingâ€™s fictional world, and thus her statements are canonical. … But something changes once a series is complete.” Neil Gaiman, meanwhile, explains that authors know plenty about their characters that they just don’t have the space or the inclination to share with you.
And the Rest: The revelation about Dumbledore’s implied sexuality has made one man regret his tattoo. Also, this whole situation reminds me of how some exhibit claims to have proven that Superman is Jewish, as if he were a real man and not the product of many writers over the course of decades.
My brief response: Of all the fictional characters that I’ve ever seen interpreted as gay from media I’m very familiar with myself, only two have struck me as making a lot of sense within the source material rather than willful reinterpretation to satisfy the interests of the reader. These are Dumbledore, and Leon Kennedy from Resident Evil 4. Also, despite protests that Dumbledore should have said this himself in the pages of the series, I don’t find it so far outside the realm of believability (aside from the wizardry part) that a gay guy who had been in love with a Hitler-like figure and who goes on to head a boarding school for children in the late 20th century might have kept his sexual preferences to himself.