Hello! The newsletter keeps chugging along now... for those of you who'd like more of an intro to what precisely is going on here, you can check out the previous issue, but honestly now I feel like getting right into it!
My piece on investment scams and financial subjectivity went up on Real Life! It was really cool to be able to write for a site I’ve been a long time reader/admirer of, and came with pleasantly minimal engagement by replyguys. If you’re not familiar, Vicky Osterweil’s column on gaming is some of the best commissioned writing on the topic.
Plaintext Distro orders are now sent! The first digital table was still somewhat successful despite the higher overhead costs of A) having to ship things and B) not being able to print everything off for free/cheap thanks to library xerox machine access. A more thorough financial report and tentative plans for the future (?) will be coming next week through THAT newsletter.
Digital copies of Academics Against Networking 1 & 2 are now available on their website. If you missed the print run, I have a piece in issue 2.
And finally, some kind of big news! I met a long-standing goal of mine recently and figured out how to make a Visual Novel project myself. I decided to rework a story I’d been floundering on for a while into a minimal VN type thing for believeinthe.net’s 1Jam. The WIP page will soon be up on my itch, so you can play it, and also get a peek at its current state after a week of solid work on it, as well as my development plans going forward…
I am also still working on the longer VN/Fata Morgana themed piece that will be going up on my blog. In addition to what I talked about with regard to perspective and first-person address in the last issue, another thing I was really struck by and found impressive about the game was how, while still being very much a gothic fantasy type story, it also brings in a surprising amount of social critique with its themes. It touches on a wide variety of topics but the most effective, and most interesting to me, is the way that it depicts the process of enclosure and especially its effects on women. So I may try to weave that into the piece a bit even though it’s totally different from the main idea!
Writing a Visual Novel script using RenJS, a program designed more to suit the workflow of writers, also gave me a new angle for thinking these things through. I noticed that I was thinking in terms of the rhythm and tone set up by Fata Morgana a lot while I was writing; like many VNs it is an object that encourages you to reverse engineer how it “works” and re-build it yourself. I feel like this is an element of why the genre is so long-lived and varied, even as developing more “gamey-games” becomes more accessible, it’s welcoming, and many of the classics of the genre are very much works of individual passion that somehow carry themselves (despite, for example, how the hands look in the original Higurashi games).
I’m still working through The Magic Mountain (and/or New Pokemon Snap) on the evenings. However, because I can’t stop myself, I’ve also gotten my hands on some short theory and fiction books to de-novel myself. This year I set the goal for myself of working through some major tomes, this one but also Ulysses and Lanark, if I have time, since I usually tend towards things I can finish in just a few sittings. I went right into this one from Elif Batuman’s The Idiot, which I absolutely loved, but even that one was on the longer end of books I tend to read.
Rob Gallagher, who does some really amazing work in Game Studies, has a new article in the Architectural Review about game spaces, which I really enjoyed. I also found this reflection on the George Floyd rebellion in the larger context of civil rights and social justice struggle very moving and informative.
I feel like a “magic action” happened close to me recently; seeing the news of the de-arrest of two Glasgow Southside residents reaching many people in the states and around the world was kind of surreal. The Southside is home to many important community hubs that support the LGBT and refugee populations of Glasgow, like Category Is books, the Glasgow Autonomous Space, the Glasgow Zine Library, many orgs offering welcome, advice and legal support to those affected by the UK Hostile Environment, and most recently, the Remade Network (and unfortunately I haven’t had a chance to visit any of them since returning to Glasgow as I remain unvaccinated!).
Obviously a community which supports and sustains these things can also support an important and inspiring action like this. It shows that it’s important to pay attention, not only to protest against urgent international issues, for example, the displacement and death the IDF is increasingly inflicting on Palestinian civilians, but also to how, at the local level, communities can grasp moments where the ultimate goal of a world without colonization, borders, displacement, and the violence inherent to these systems, becomes visible in significant ways.
That’s a lot! I was worried that rounding up everything from the last few weeks would end up a lot shorter than the previous issue, but I feel like this one is also pretty huge. We’ll see how the next one goes.
Thank you again for your support,