Friday, May 28, 2010

rest in peace gary coleman

I only came to know of him through Avenue Q (and he supposedly wanted to sue the producers for the depiction - being made fun of after you have hit the bottom of the barrel bottom must be kinda sucky), and he wasn't even my favourite character (go Trekkie Monster!), but RIP mr. Coleman.

Friday, May 21, 2010

my old livejournal

Reading my old LiveJournal brought me so many good memories. College stuff, cosplay woes (I haven't cosplayed in like 6 years), my very early days at World of Warcraft, intense Musashi fanboy highs, random anime and manga chatter from the days before I sworn myself off manga and anime because they consumed my life (rather hypocritical considering I've been WoWing for over two years)... I miss those times. It feels like so long ago and everything seemed so much easier.

Looking back, it seems funny how, even though I wasn't open to my RL friends, I never hid my unhealthy liking of oyaji and manly guys. I mean, I wrote about mens love, even if not saying out loud that it was Mens Love... I wonder if they ever googled the crap I wrote in there and had a nasty surprise, heh! I was also wordier and more prolific. I think now that I'm older, I don't have much to say - or maybe I realised silly pointless rambling of youths really shouldn't be published in the internet. My appreciation for clean, monochromatic, minimalist blog layouts didn't change much... then again, I'm a bureaucrat, not an artist.

I liked my LiveJournal so much. I regret having abandoned it.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

a fanboy high

Today I had lunch my boyfriend in the Japanese neighbourhood and we decide to look for Mens Love books in a nearby Japanese bookstore. I’ve seen Gengoroh Tagame, Takeshi Matsu and Tsukasa Matsuzaki books in there on previous occasions, but it hasn't had anything "bara" for quite a while. I always wondered if they actually manage to sell those, considering Mens Love is still obscure around here (although it's pretty obvious that the books would still be there if they weren't sold).

Not thinking I would find anything of note, I take a quick, casual glance at the manga shelves... only to find a copy of Shoutaroh Kojima’s old compilation from 2007, Koisuru Ossan (恋するおっさん, or “The Fellow Who... Falls in Love”), my number one favourite Mens Love publication in this very world.

In shock, I grab the book to take a closer look. My boyfriend assures me I’m not dreaming. I already had it - I placed an order in Rainbow Shoppers as soon as it was made available several years ago. But being as big a fanboy as I am, could I manage to put it back in the shelf where I found it? It’s frigging Koisuru Ossan!

I’m now R$ 35 poorer and the proud owner of two copies of the best Mens Love compilation ever published.

Monday, May 10, 2010

quests and the importance of narrative

In World of Warcraft, quests are mostly seen as a means to an end. You do them because they are an efficient leveling method, not because you particularly enjoy doing them (especially considering most of them are variations of the infamous "kill 10 rats" cliché). Almost all players check the "instant quest text" option and don't even read the role-play part of the quest text - we skip to the objectives. Quests that can be considered a mean in themselves are very few and far between.

I recently came across a particularly good quest from Vanilla WoW: Until Death Do Us Part. It's a grim, depressing quest from an Undead mother who asks you to place a pendant in the grave of her late husband. However, this isn't a tribute to honour his death or anything alike – she wants to get rid of the necklace that reminds her of him because he failed in protecting them from the Plague! He was a paladin whose only concern in life was "the Light", and he ended up neglecting his wife and children in order to fight the Plague. She was left all alone in raising the kids and when the Scourge won, they ended up infected by the very evil he fought so much against. Indeed, she has no reason to be grateful.

(BTW, this is one of the reason I cannot relate to the Forsaken. As a commenter said, the Plague changed them. They don't have human feelings. It's all very alien and unsettling)

There is no redeeming end. Since you turn in the quest at his grave, there is no dialogue, but rather gloomy, haunting narrative. I take the liberty of copypasting: "You place the worthless pendant on the grave, and the gemstone within the setting seems to dull noticeably. As you stand to leave, you look down at the pendant; it lies lifelessly over the hands of the relief sculpted into the top of the coffin. Your thoughts are interrupted by a stiff, cool breeze passing over the Sepulcher. For a moment everything around you is silent."

The peculiar pessimism of the quest made it a favorite. It's a major classic to me, in the veins of Pamela Redpath (the most heartwarming quest ever), Saving Sharpbeak, Tirion's quest chain in Plaguelands, Linken's odyssey and the sweet references to Zelda and Bridenbrad's attempted, but ultimately unsuccessful rescue.

MMOs aren't well known by their plots, they even have "lore" instead - a very malleable backstory that often seems to be all but an afterthought. It's remarkable that there are quests who, in spite of being contained in a media that by design is almost wholly deprived of depth, somehow manage to bring out emotions of the player. Good narrative being such an underutilized tool might be the genre's biggest shame.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

no gay shepherd

So you cannot have a gay Shepherd in Mass Effect 2. A shame, really. I was looking forward to be gay in Mass Effect 2.

The biggest disappointment is that this came from Bioware, out of all developers. After Dragon Age Origins, a superb game, I trusted they could be relied on for arguably tasteful homosexuality in games. But I guess only elves are stereotyped enough to fill the unwelcome role of gay character.