Thinking Deeply About Fictional Worlds

So, despite the fact that I call myself a writer. I don’t often dole out writing advice. I’ll correct those around me on grammar and language choice if they want but I’m not in the habit of shaping myself up as an expert. Mostly because I’m not. I’m a practitioner of the craft but I have some way to go before I can call myself an expert. With all that out of the way, let’s talk about worldbuilding. When I say worldbuilding I refer to the practice of creating fictional worlds usually employed in works of science fiction and fantasy.

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How Do We Solve a Problem Like Apu?

So, I’m a big fan of the Simpsons. The classic era is one of my favourite shows. Recently, the Simpsons responded to the criticism it received over its caricatured portrayal of Apu. This response was prompted by Hari Kondabolu’s documentary about South East Asian American representation ‘The Problem with Apu’. In the documentary, Kondabolu interviews notable South East Asian American actors regarding their feelings about the character of Apu. This documentary included Kal Penn, who you may know as Kumar from Harold and Kumar or as Kutner from House, whose intense dislike of Apu extended to the Simpsons as a whole. Kondabolu himself enjoys the Simpsons but finds the character of Apu to be a racist stain on the show.

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The Eyes of God

The shimmering eyes stared down at them from enormous backlit billboards. In days gone, they might have been confused for an advertisement. No longer. The eyes were cruel. Although to give them that much agency was to personify them. The eyes felt nothing. They weren’t really watching from their point above everyone, plastered to the side of ever-growing skyscrapers. The eyes were merely a warning. God is watching, though a god of their own making. A god that was above but was also hiding in their pocket and their watch. The machines had won, and they were God now.

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Democracy 3 or How I Learned to Perpetually Worry and Build a Socialist Utopia

So, there’s this game called Democracy 3. The game is an intense political simulation. The goal is to be continually re-elected. That’s not my goal when I play the game. My method of gameplay could more be described as an ideological crusade. I’m quite left-leaning by nature, which is unsurprising considering my environment (economically lower-middle class, university educated creative who has had first- and second-hand experience with the welfare system). With this left-leaning nature, I tend to be in favour of higher taxes for those in the top brackets of society. Call me crazy (and also not an economist) but one percent of people owning most of the wealth while homelessness is still a problem and people are routinely harangued by the welfare system over less than a billionaire earns in a second, doesn’t sound like a great system. Does that make me a socialist? Sure, if that’s what you want to call me.

Rants aside, why is my admittedly simplistic view of the situation important to how I play this game. Well, like I said, for me this game becomes an ideological crusade. Every time I play I convince myself that I can increase taxes and welfare spending, but something goes awry. Here is the story of how I keep getting targeted by capitalists and conservatives in Democracy 3.

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The Trouble with Trolls in GTA Online

So previously I’ve spoken about the problems with the GTA Online. While previously I spoke about how hacking and griefing can make the game un-fun at times, I didn’t really examine why individuals do these things. I looked at how the system doesn’t really disincentivise this behaviour, but I didn’t look at the psychological profile of the trolls. So what are the reasons for a person to act this way?

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Why You Should Play D&D

I am a new but passionate advocate for Dungeons and Dragons. I can’t recall where I first heard of D&D but because of the circles I travel in, it existed around me. I probably first encountered it in films like ET. Being a player of fantasy RPGs like the Elder Scrolls, you’d think that I would have been all up in D&D since I was fifteen or something, but no. So, first I’ll explain how I got interested in D&D and why the game isn’t necessarily what you think it is if you’re not all that familiar with it.

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Returning

Stepping on the creaky boards, a million memories came flooding back. The space has barely changed in twenty years. She noticed the new paint in places. The stage was in a halfway state, vaguely resembling the set from the prior set. She had acted the words of a dozen notable playwrights on this stage from Shakespeare to Ibsen to Brecht. She had played everything from Lucy in Cosi to a gender-swapped Hamlet. That was many years ago though. The face of a younger woman adorned the posters that hung all around the foyer. Her hair had begun to grey, and wrinkles had formed at the corners of her eye. Whereas she had once played the role of ingenue Cecily in The Importance of Being Earnest, she now feared that the role of Lady Bracknell was not far off.

‘Hasn’t changed a bit, has it?’ a voice came from backstage.

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