Dragons are emblematic of the fantasy genre. Chances are that the word dragon conjures up some very specific ideas in one’s head. Dragon: wings, between two and four limbs, scales, breathes fire, hordes wealth. Now, if you were being contrarian or were brought up on different fantasy media, your mind might instead be drawn to the idea of the Chinese dragon. These are often the two forms we most often have in our heads. With such a clear vision of what dragons are, it’s worth using dragons as a yardstick for other fantasy tropes.
So, this last week I returned to a game I first played in 2015. Prison Architect is a management simulation game where you run all aspects of a prison. The game might be comparable to games like SimCity or Cities Skylines on a much smaller and more violent scale. The game represents figures in the world in a style akin to stick figures. Initially, when I played Prison Architect I was very particular about caring for individual prisoners. I think I even had a good sense of prisoner names and the troublemakers. Now I treat them a bit like cattle in an abattoir. So that’s what I wanted to talk about. When is a human not a human in games?
Darius was the last one alive. His friends lay at his feet. The scent of their blood reached his nostrils. Why had any of them thought this was a good idea? Galindon has smiled at the townsfolk and assured them that the night raids by undead creatures would cease. Darius had been travelling with their troupe for about six months now. Together they had achieved things that none thought were possible alone. They had managed to end the blood curse on Galindon’s family. They had slain the giant that killed Elska’s parents. They had even managed to recover Edric’s lost family heirloom from a band of monstrous hyena people. Now, when the group agreed to save Darius’ hometown, they had all died fighting for his cause. He looked upon the face of the creature who slew his friends. The skeletal face that peaked behind the tattered midnight blue robes just laughed.
So, I’ve just started watching Netflix’s adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events because I’m always six months behind the conversation. Earlier this year, the second season dropped and I’ve been enjoying it more than the first. Now, I did read the series when I was younger. My memory of the books is hazy but from my memories, the show is rather faithful. The area in which it probably differs the most is in expanding the role of the adults in the series. Now, as I made my way through the series I had a thought. A Series of Unfortunate Events reflects the Trump era in an interesting way. Now for me to explain why I am going to spoil both series to a point. The discussion of the series will probably spoil The Vile Village and all preceding episodes. With that out of the way, let’s begin.
So recently, I went back and watched Avengers: Age of Ultron. It might be a strange choice but I was doing some research. Anyway, there was something fascinating about rewatching the film as some kind of inkblot test for the MCU as a whole. After two films and three years of evolution for the Avengers and the MCU, what can Age of Ultron illuminate? It’s all a bit said and done about this film, one might think.
Now, here’s the obvious. There are a couple cracks in the form that resulted from the intense pressure of a follow-up to the pillar of the MCU to that point, The Avengers. There was conversation at the time centred around a few points of the film’s development. Whedon was bowing out after this film due to the pressure of an Avenger’s film. Studio mandates called for the cave scene or to lose the farmhouse. Finally, there was lots of disgruntlement with Natasha’s romance with Bruce. I’ll discuss all of these and offer a perspective based on how things feel on the other side of Phase 3 as it were.
So, a while back I went to see the Incredibles 2. Unlike other corners of the Internet, I hadn’t been clamouring for a new instalment in the series. However, I like a Pixar movie as much as the next guy and it had potential. Generally, I enjoyed the movie. Shifting the focus to Elastigirl was an enjoyable turn. However, when it got to the villain’s revelation of their grand master plan, I was thoroughly whelmed. It wasn’t bad, however, there was potential for so much more.
So recently the social media account for CD Projekt Red, of Witcher and Cyberpunk 2077 fame, made an off-colour ‘joke’ relying on the played-out line “Did you just assume my gender?”. Their apology was that classic non-apology ‘Sorry if you were offended’. Now, I read the replies to that tweet and boy howdy, I hate gamers. In the same way that a high school bully defends themselves when consequences come knocking, most of the replies boiled down to ‘it’s just a joke,’. Is it though? I’m going to explain why these sorts of ‘jokes’ are tired.