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Weekly Links #262: combating extremism edition

24 March 2019 — No Time To Play

Hello, everyone! After getting last week's project out of my system, the announced follow-up fizzled out. Instead, another old idea returned with a vengeance. And this time it's coming together amazingly well:

(Screenshot of a digital gamebook presenting an encounter with three choices.)

It's just the latest incarnation of encounter-based game design, a notion I came up with almost two years ago and tried repeatedly to implement, with mixed success. Of course, two years ago I didn't have a suitable RPG rule system, or a good backstory (the high-concept one I was clinging to simply refused to come alive). Now I have all the ingredients, and can't believe how well it's shaping up.

And yes, that's SugarCube 2, though this time I'm using Tweego, not Twine.

In the way of news, this week we have some discussions on why and how to keep extremists out of gaming communities while fostering better representation. On a different note, there's a fascinating case study on procedural generation, and a reminder that No Time To Play needs your help. See below the cut.


This week was a sad one for the world, and videogames are on the line again. If it seems to happen a lot lately, it's our fault for keeping our heads in the sand for so long, pretending our medium is somehow "apolitical". On Gamasutra, Katherine Cross discusses what we owe our game communities after ChristChurch. And GamesIndustry.biz reports on Meg Jayanth bringing up the same issue at the IGF awards. To quote:

"[...] if we don't utterly, and vocally, and wholly reject these people -- these Nazis, and fascists, and white supremacists -- then we are inviting them in. If we make room for them, then there is no room for anyone else."

See, that's the open secret the "but, but, free speech" crowd pretends not to get: that extremists don't want to be accepted alongside the rest of us; they want the rest of us out. It really is an us-versus-them issue, because they won't accept anything else. So we can put our foot down... or we can have the world stolen from under our feet before we know it. There's no third option. No possible compromise.

On a related note, I should mention this scholarly article from last week about better representation in Dungeons&Dragons. Which ends up being mostly about fantastic racism and colonialism: an issue I couldn't help but notice as of late in the increasingly popular OSR (old-school revival) movement. Its proponents, you see, are all about reviving the style and spirit of original D&D, but fail to examine the seminal RPG with a critical eye, and so end up perpetuating an apalling amount of bad things.

Last but not least, on Friday we have a very interesting article about procedural generation in Skeletal Dance Party, an acclaimed indie game I was fortunate to watch take shape in real time. The technique described is worth looking into, and ironically very similar to what I'm doing in my current project. Except I kind of stumbled into it after trying a number of different things. Oh well.

Before signing off for the week, I'll ask again that you send a couple of bucks to my PayPal account if you can. It's not for me, it's for hosting bills. I'd rather not pay them out of pocket with healthcare-related expenses coming up, not to mention other issues. Thanks, and see you!

Tags: procedural-generation, representation, rpg, interactive-fiction

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