My Fascination With Weedopia

tokeymon

Weedopia is a RPG Maker game from Gaming Roach Entertainment that they are currently attempting to kickstart for six thousand Canadian dollars. It does not appear that they are going to make it, but I’m fascinated by the idea that someone might try to make this thing a reality.

A gloss on Weedopia: it is a traditional Japanese-style role playing game where everything is marijuana-themed. The villain is Lord Nohemp. A sidekick is named Tokachu. There is a pot-themed crafting system. Everything about it screams “weed! weed is so cool!” and I love it.

Which is weird, because I don’t care much for that kind of thing in general. I don’t smoke it, and I’m not caught up in “pot culture.” I don’t have button-down shirts covered in leaf patterns, and I don’t think I’ve even seen an issue of High Times in years.

What I love about Weedopia is that it leans into its theme as hard as possible without ever giving any hint that this might be sarcastic or comedic. Hell, it is probably isn’t, and the fact that it rides this line of complete and total ambiguity regarding its potential ironic theme is absolutely wonderful to me. I don’t love it because of its post-ironic hypersincerity, but precisely because there is no way to know what its position on itself is. It is a beautiful, opaque object, and displays this fact better than most fine art objects enshrined in galleries.

 

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On The Uncle Who Works For Nintendo

There was a time when the specter of the uncle who worked at Nintendo haunted every recess period in the United States. I first heard him in the pickup spot where parents would pick up their kids after school. The same place where I borrowed a Gameshark for the GBC. The same place where I left my copy of Expert Gamer with the Pokemon Stadium strategy guide.

Some kid’s uncle worked for Nintendo and that’s why he had all sorts of superpowerful Pokemon and knew about all the games that were going to come out. Some of those games came out. Some of them never existed.

Now we have a game by Michael Lutz (with illustrations by Kim Parker) called “The Uncle Who Works For Nintendo” who takes that recess-and-after-school phantom and puts you in his world. 

 

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Deleuze, Francis Bacon, and Icosa

[The diagram] acts as a relay. We have seen that the diagram must remain localized, rather than covering the entire painting (as in expressionism), and that something must emerge from the diagram. – Deleuze, The Logic of Sensation

The entire time I spent reading this book I was thinking about Andi McClure’s various art creation toys. They give us the diagram, algorithmically generated, that allows us to grab the infinite excess of things that could exist and generates an existing piece of art. Playing with Icosa is a constant revolutionary moment of watching something emerge from nothing and then recede again. Sometimes we can see the figure, some representational object, emerge from the discord and it is horrifying. Why something from nothing? Why anything at all?

When Deleuze wonders if we can “dismantle the optical,” is there any better affirmation than McClure’s work?

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I Was Given A Wristband That Says “Synergy Motherfucker” And These Are My Thoughts

1.
I was watching someone play a game called Lichdom Battlemage and some form of PR person handed me that wristband. I didn’t look at it until I had walked away, but I verbalized my confusion: “what the fuck?”

2.
I asked the PR person if you can fly in the game and she said no. What a boring game about wizards.

3.
We’re in the midst of something called “GamerGate.” I’ve been paying attention to it, read Storifys and tweet conversations about it, and even had conversations with ‘gaters myself. I don’t know how anyone can come to a conclusion other than this one about those events: it is a longform anti-women harassment campaign cloaked in concerns about ethics in games journalism.

Today I saw that a trans* developer who was previously a supporter of the “movement” was pushed out of it by extensive transphobia from the GamerGaters themselves. I saw responses to her announcement that she was abandoning the cause that asserted that she was being too sensitive.

4.
I wonder who decided that “synergy motherfucker” was the best way to go with this small throwaway tchotchke. I wonder who they think they’re appealing to, and who the “edge” is supposed to play heavily toward.

I have this experience a lot in “videogame culture.” The same set of questions apply to the “tell it like it is” YouTubers who recycle videogame common sense in a hyberbolic, extremist tone. I wonder about who is wearing the wristband right now or idly watching the YouTube video and nodding along.

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5.
The wristband, the YouTubers, and GamerGate share a skeletal substrate of self-righteous indignation paired with twenty years of marketing horror. They sell the values of their audience back to them as common sense packaged in edgy language. They present the standard beliefs of their audience back to that audience as truth telling, like they are speaking through some kind of cultural taboo in order to enlighten the people. In reality, it is the rhetoric of Bill O’Reilly used to shovel videogames into the screaming maw of consumers.

None of this, of course, is new. A thousand people have written this blog post before me. But if you’re going to make a wristband that embodies all of this violent garbage culture, maybe don’t do that. #badassmage or whatever.

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Metal Gear Solid, Exile, and Skyrim in my new Five Out of Ten Piece

I have two essays in the new Five Out of Ten, which you can buy for a few dollars.

I’m incredibly happy with them. In the first, I talk about “playing the radar” in Metal Gear Solid. I’m in a weird place right now where what I am writing rides the line between design analysis, criticism, and historical contextualization, so if any of that sounds interesting to you, it is worth your $5-$8 or so to buy those things up.

I also write about hearts, quest hubs, and Jean-Luc Nancy. I’m pretty sure that no one has ever done that before, and if you’re curious about what a heart transplant has to do with Skyrim, you can find out here.

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On Temper

temper2

Temper is a game about having a demon inside of you that gets out whether you want it to or not. The only thing you can do is preempt it. You know it is coming. You belch it out. If you vomit this horror onto other people, you get hurt, they get hurt, everything hurts.

Sometimes it isn’t other people. Sometimes they are strange, small animals. Sometimes they will hurt you no matter what.

There’s an obvious allegory going on in Temper. In the middle of this incredibly tight, well-designed, tiny experience there’s an entire narrative about personality and interpersonal communication and what happens to us all (some more than others).

In Temper you always get a do-over.

Play Temper.

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Tim Cain on same-sex marriage in The Temple of Elemental Evil

When we were putting together The Temple of Elemental Evil, we’d put together all kinds of ways you could get involved with nonplayer characters. We had a good-looking woman who a male character could get involved with. We also had a really horrible woman whose father would try to convince you to get married to her so he could get her out of the house. We also had some male characters for female characters. It was Tom Decker [producer/designer] who said, “Hey, we don’t have any male-male or female-female relationships.” And I said, well, write some up! And he did the male character who was a pirate on a ship and a female character who was working at a brothel against her will.

Atari made us take out the brothel, though, so we lost the lesbian relationship–and I though that was a sweeter relationship, because she didn’t want to be working there, and you got to rescue her. The pirate one was kind of sad, because the gay pirate had been kidnapped as a child and forced to work as a cabin boy. It’s a hard luck story, and you felt less like his rescuer and more like you won him from his master. It had a different vibe than the lesbian relationship, but in both you had to work to get them. I remember seeing some people on forums saying, “Hey, I didn’t see this in my game.” Well, you’re not going to see it unless you make it happen. There’s a lot of dialogue paths you have to go down before Bertram is offered to you. It’s no accident that you’re character is married to another man. I like that.

- Tim Cain in Matt Barton’s Honoring the Code

I feel like every single “positive” claim here needs to be deconstructed and really points to why we need an incredibly diverse set of game developers.

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