Monday, 1 December 2014

My Pick of Video Game Titles that Elevated the Medium to an Art Form

'As artistic as a video game' isn’t a phrase that gets bandied around often. While perceptions are gradually changing, video games have long been associated with degenerate teenagers mashing buttons to effect a mysterious 'pew pew' sound. News and media outlets almost unanimously condemn them as being at the root of all youth violence, and the parents who purchase mature-rated games for their sprogs seem to think of them as little more than sophisticated toys. Video games as art might be a divisive subject – if only because the concept of what a video game should be and do is such a limited one in the first place. Besides. What is art, if not the search for meaning in the abstract? Or something. The following 'game changers' are just a few of a growing number whose interaction design, storytelling and musical direction make a compelling case for video games as a legitimate art form.


Tuesday, 25 March 2014

A Job Well Done (Short Story)

The following short story was inspired by a prompt to combine a broken watch, peppermints, and a hug that went too far. Enjoy and please share any feedback!
Kayleigh slowly unwrapped a peppermint, her own state of calm a sharp contrast to the screaming, excited children who careened around the yard in front of her, kicking about birthday balloons and chasing each other with ice-cream-sticky fingers. Placing the peppermint delicately in her mouth, Kayleigh let the taste tingle over her tongue. Sweet, but sharp, much like unrequited love, she reflected.
          “Mommy, mommy! The clown is scaring me!” A shrieking blonde-haired six-year-old, resplendent in party hat and sparkling pink tutu, threw herself into Kayleigh’s lap. The woman sighed good-naturedly and kissed her daughter’s head.
          “But you insisted on having the clown, darling. Don’t be afraid; go ask him to teach you how to juggle.” She pressed another kiss on the little girl’s curls and exchanged amused glances with one of the other mothers at the birthday party.
          “Enjoy every moment you have while she’s so young and precocious,” the neighbor said. “Before you know it she’ll be all grown up, out risking life and limb for the Revolution, like my eldest.”
          Kayleigh raised her eyebrows and pushed a strand of auburn hair out of her freckled face. “I hope the Revolution will be over by the time my Jessica is old enough to understand what it’s about.” 

Monday, 17 March 2014

The Profitability of Catflexing Guides and Other Things I Learned Working in a Used Bookstore

The definitive fantasy antiquities bookstore, St. George's Books of Jane Jensen's
adventure gaming classic, Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers

One of my dreams has always been to run my own hybridised bookstore/teashop. Antique stained-glass windows, chintz teacups suspended from the rafters, an elegant tufted armchair set before an open fireplace... and one of those bitchin' ladders on rails for swooping dramatically during spontaneous sing-songs.

Like Belle. Not Nigel Thornberry.

I'd actually considered this to be one of my more down-to-earth dreams, but given the proliferation of online book giants and the dwindling presence of high street indie booksellers, it now seems about as likely as my teen aspirations of edging out Mrs Bon Jovi.

Nevertheless, the appeal of being paid to spend my days surrounded by books never quite left me (if the Kingyo Used Books series has taught me anything, it's that the life of a bookseller is a continual voyage of self-discovery with neat, metaphor-rich tie-ins to each episode's book-of-the-week). So, when I found myself "between jobs" and discovered that my local Oxfam was recruiting book team members, my book-nerd senses got a-tinglin'. Here's what I learned in my first few weeks:

Sunday, 26 January 2014

A Burst of Creativity... and a Jealous Priest (Short Story)

Thank goodness for Writer's Club, an oasis of creativity for the dry deserts of a college student's soul. Today was the first time in months that I've had chance to do any creative writing, thanks to a writing game in which characters, settings, and conflicts are written up randomly and then chosen according to the roll of a dice.

My prompt required me to write about a Catholic priest whose flaws of jealousy and pride were eating his life away. Twenty minutes later, and I had written this short story. Enjoy the fruits of my burst of creativity!

Caleb played by Nathan Fillion from Buffy


"O gracious Lord, grant rest to this good man's soul," the elderly priest intoned as he stood over the bed of his dying parishioner. Father James stood quietly in a corner of the room as he watched his superior go through the last rites with the wizened old man, and he couldn't help noticing how the sorrowful family at the bedside looked on Father James's mentor with the kind of reverence one might reserve for a god.