Fantasy: Defining a Genre

Fantasy: noun, plural fantasies. 1. imagination, especially when extravagant and unrestrained. 2. the forming of mental images, especially wondrous or strange fancies; imaginative conceptualizing. 3. a mental image, especially when unreal or fantastic; vision: a nightmare fantasy. 4. Psychology. an imagined or conjured up sequence fulfilling a psychological need; daydream. 5. a hallucination. 6. a supposition based on no solid foundation; visionary idea; illusion: dreams of Utopias and similar fantasies. 7. caprice; whim. Normally, when someone says the word ‘fantasy,’ a person is most likely to think of one of two things:

  1. A literary genre, or films and television shows in that same genre, involving magic in a world, most likely in the milieu of the European middle ages, that often includes elves, dwarves, goblins, and other semi-mythological beings.
  2. A desired or preferred sexual activity.

Obviously, we’re not going to talk about the second of these. But as gamers, we often find ourselves in games that fit the first. Continue Reading →

ZOE (Zombie Orpheus Entertainment) – A Great Little Company

The ZOE logo: a white circle with five hands rising up from the bottom in silhouette, as if they were the hands of zombies erupting up out of the ground. A short arc, about a quarter the circumference of the white circle, concentric with the white circle, runs along the bottom edge of the circle, bisecting three dots. This logo is white on a background of dark blue fading to black in gradient, is the inverse of the normal colours: a black logo on a white background.One of the booths I stopped at whilst I was at Gen Con was the Zombie Orpheus Entertainment booth. I knew I wanted to see what they had, because I’d enjoyed Dark Dungeons so much. ZOE was the company that had produced that particular film. So I stopped by and talked to one of the representatives for a moment, This is what they had to say.

Before we hear about their projects

Here’s a little background on ZOE. Back around the turn of the century, a group of friends from Washington released a couple of low-budget indie horror films called Demon Hunters. They later formed a company called Dead Gentlemen Productions, and subsequently created a humorous short film called The Gamers. This film was wildly popular, so they made a sequel: The Gamers 2: Dorkness Rising. Despite the popularity of the sequel, the company had issues with distribution, and most of the members decided to take a hiatus to deal with feelings of burnout.

But one of the members from Dead Gentlemen decided to keep working on films. So, with a new vision of how the company should be run, he formed Zombie Orpheus Entertainment. A big part of his vision was to make ZOE a fan-driven venture. He hoped that this would help alleviate the issues they’d had that caused burnout for Dead Gentlemen. Continue Reading →

Board Game Review: Tell Me a Story

The box, about 3 centimetres by 7 centimetres by 5 centimetres, with the game Tell Me a Story. The box is black with various white line drawings all over it, and a large speech balloon with the title n the front and the lid.A brand new company called Escape Hatch Games had just released their first game a month or so before Gen Con. As I was wandering around the exhibit hall, I saw their booth, with the name of this first game proudly displayed on a banner behind them, and I knew I had to check it out. I stopped to ask them about it, and they did a quick one-round demo with me, and I knew I had to have it. Last week, I finally got to play a full game for the first time with three of my friends. It was epic. So now I shall review for you, my loyal readers, the wonderful game called Tell Me a Story.

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Creativity: The Driving Force in Games?

A photo of a sunset being painted by a hand holding an artist's paintbrush, symbolising the creativity of painting the world.The Oatmeal recently released a comic about creativity. In a nutshell, it points out that creativity is like breathing. You have to breathe in before you can breathe out. In this analogy, you can’t produce creative content if you don’t also consume creative content. Creativity is an energy, like electricity or heat; in order to use that energy, you have to get it from somewhere. This can come in the form of reading, watching TV or movies, listening to music, looking at visual arts, and many other forms besides. But in consuming the creativity of others, one becomes more able to create works of one’s own.

This is in part because ideas don’t spring fully formed into a creative person’s head. They are reworkings of things these people have seen or heard or felt or experienced. As a friend of mine is fond of saying, ‘Good artists borrow. Great artists steal!‘ Which is a valid, if somewhat flippant, way of saying that consuming the creative works of others is the essential fuel for one’s own creativity.

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Stories in Games – Our Most Fun Experiences

A game of Stipulations: people sitting around a table reading what players have written on their cardsWhen people sit down to play games, what exactly are they doing? I spoke of this a bit a couple of weeks ago. Depending on the nature of the game, we are doing things that can be just as difficult as a so-called ‘job.’ Games come in so many different forms; games of luck, of physical prowess, of strategy, of skill (broken into many different types of skill; spatial reasoning, manual dexterity, mathematical ability, and so forth), games of knowledge or memory or bluffing or deduction… It may be obvious by now that I am most strongly drawn towards games that have a series element of telling stories.

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