Diversity and Being – Part 1: Aspiring

This will be a two-part exploration on writing diverse characters. This first part focuses more on the need for such characters and how we should approach them as audience members. The second part will dig into how I address this as a writer and game designer, including how this approach helps me to write “for” rather than “about.”

Tanya DePass of I Need Diverse Games reminded us just yesterday of the tired and stupid argument against diversity that there is somehow a zero-sum game of aspirational hero characters in movies, games, comics, etc. That somehow making more A-list properties with characters that are women, or black, or gay, or (heaven forbid) all of the above will take heroes away from straight white males.

Tanya’s post dismantles this complaint pretty handily, so I don’t need to add anything to that. But there’s another side of this that I want to address:

What does it mean to aspire? Continue reading


GRRR #2 – Krendel Core

[This is my second review in the Game Review Round Robin group organized by Eleri Hamilton.]

Many generic game systems, particularly the ones that are in widespread use these days, grew organically from the mechanics of a specific game. Savage Worlds grew out of Deadlands, the Cypher System grew out of Numenera, Fate (in its modern form) grew out of Spirit of the Century and the Dresden Files. If Cortex Plus succeeds as a generic system, it will largely be because of Leverage and Marvel Heroic.

The late 80s and early 90s were the heyday of generic systems created from the beginning to be generic, but that doesn’t happen as much anymore. (And yes, people still play GURPS, but it’s much harder to establish a new generic system in the modern market.) With this in mind, I have to give props to William Altman for even attempting it. So let’s dig into his generic system, Krendel Core.

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Winifred Ward and Harriet Finlay-Johnson, LARP’s Forgotten Mothers

I have backgrounds in two communities that do not realize they are related. Mostly, this is because they are not aware of each other. Their members tend to move in different spaces both physically and intellectually, and they are each sufficiently obscure that few people from one are likely to see articles or information about the other. It is in an effort to correct this that I have written this article.

The two communities are Creative Drama and Live Action Roleplaying.

Recently, members of the Live Action Roleplaying (LARP) community held the second Living Games Conference. As this was partially an academic conference, there were a wide variety of presentations and talks, many of which were filmed and are available for viewing online. Although I could not attend myself, one of the most fascinating segments for me was the Role-playing and Simulation in Education Conference Hub. As you can see from the archived videos, there are many educators and gamers exploring ways to use immersive improvisational roleplay as an educational tool. There is some great work that these presenters are doing, and you should definitely check it out.

The only thing that’s missing is the awareness that this practice already has a 100-year-old academic legacy, and it’s called Creative Drama. Continue reading

GRRR #1 – Rewind: Temporal Tales

You might be wondering why the headline is growling at you. Well, GRRR is actually the wonderfully evocative acronym for the Game Review Round Robin, a group of game designers who have all agreed to read and review each other’s games. This group is the brainchild of Eleri Hamilton, who designed Unwritten. Eleri also did the legwork of setting up the review assignments, so that the rest of us can just sit back and read games. Thanks, Eleri!

My first review is Rewind: Temporal Tales, a solo/duet game by Todd Zircher.


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Narrative Innovations of The Force Awakens

I have mentioned in the past that I really love all of Star Wars, so there was no question that I was going to enjoy The Force Awakens. I could go on for hours about all the wonderful things in it (and I have).

But then people started posting all these complaints about how this movie is just A New Hope all over again. Ignoring for the moment the easy response to this that Star Wars is supposed to be cyclical, I still find this complaint to be extremely superficial. It ignores the amazing new things that TFA brings to Star Wars that none of the previous movies had. Since I am a writer, I am particularly focused on characters, and I wanted to take a blog post to just examine the main characters and the narrative innovations they bring to the Star Wars universe.

Spoiler warning. We are definitely entering spoiler territory. Continue reading

Recent Teen Band Movies

While I try not to use the term “guilty pleasure” – because it implies that there are things we should feel bad about liking – I admit that I don’t quite understand my enjoyment of teen romantic comedies. With a few notable exceptions, I hated most of the movies targeted at me when I was a teen. They didn’t really speak to me about my own life experiences, and often rang quite hollow. Continue reading