Friday, July 31, 2009

Marriage and Murders

I've been a role-player for quite a while, in fact I think its been over a decade since I first joined my brother and his friends in their dungeon clearing pseudo-murderous adventures. At the height of my efforts I was role-playing three times each week with three different groups. Each Tuesday I would play with a group that was quite open and free while still structured within a rule set; on Wednesday I'd still be playing with my brother and our friends in the same murderously efficient dungeon clearing and on Saturday I would play in a small group of three people as we basically made everything up as we went along. Each session had its own attractions, I suppose, but eventually the small Saturday game died off as other commitments over took our leisure.

At the moment, in the Wednesday game, I'm getting married. Since the beginning of the Nordic style campaign I decided that I wanted a shield maiden. I chose the local barmaid (as indeed there are very few other women that exist in these types of worlds) and then began to accrue a dowry or bridal gift. I chose to try and use the "apprentice" rule set that already exists in this game so that she might be able to gain experience and strength as I do. This meant however that I would have to wait until I'd spent over a hundred points of experience. So during these months of gaming, I gathered a treasure of not jewels or finery but rather livestock. By the time I had spent enough points I had a herd of cattle and a number of mules - a fine bride price indeed. On the Wednesday past, I finally went back to the original town and proposed to the father my intention to marry his daughter. I've decided that my character will take her surname of "Kraken Slayer" as it sounds more impressive than "Horn Blower". It was agreed and in the Wednesday coming we will travel off to the main city to have the ceremony. I'm sure there will be time for a spat of murdering.

Next year in June, in Croydon, I'm getting married. I can't help but wonder if my partner is not at least a little worried about my fantasy version of marriage. Especially when, to all apparent views, the lead up to our engagement was so different. We met online, dated, had dinner with each other’s parents, moved in together, then I proposed on a beach in New Zealand. There were no mules, no murdering, no waiting for a "100 points", and I'm pretty sure that her father was one of the last of our family to know about it. The only thing that reflects at all is that I might be taking her surname of "Weisz" over my name of "Willcocks". I think that anyone doing a deconstructionist reading on my role-playing efforts would have to be at least a little afraid at the best of times. Or maybe I'm thinking too hard about it. Maybe I’ve been role-playing for too long.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I love Valve.

Not long after the release of Half Life, I read a post mortem that described the following axiom to me: If you show them where the trap lies, then show them how it works and they still run into it you can be as brutal as you like. (I can’t find the direct quote, but that’s basically what I took away from the comment.)

I’ve used this axiom many times in any number of creative experiences, especially in regards to roleplaying . It really turns a challenge into a puzzle, and I like puzzles in a gaming environment.

It was earlier this year when they gave me another axiom, quite different yet no less profound: “Pirates are just underserved customers”. They really shook me awake to a quite obvious idea that people who copy your work and try to give it to your potential customers for a seriously discounted price/entirely free are quite simply a competitor. It was a paradigm shift, before software pirates were a ubiquitous phenomenon that stole and perverted peoples work and now they’re your competition. And we as a global society have become very good at dealing with competition.

I love this example. When Jon Rawlinson used a tune from indi band Barcelona for his YouTube video, their reaction was simply that they were flattered. They drew the video into their domain and utterly endorsed it which allowed them to basically use it as a marketing tool. Try doing that to some ubiquitous phenomenon.

I’m not saying that Valve created this philosophy, or that they educated the world in this shift, it’s just that they simply educated me.

I love Valve.

Monday, July 27, 2009


The line was long and posted with many warnings and advertisements. I knew I shouldn't be here, but I just had to if I wanted to see the Last Event. I had my ticket in my hand and a large mobile phone in my pocket - surely I could get out of here alive. The floor was sticky from years of alcohol, blood and the last tears of those many losers who had too much of the former and too little of the latter. A chime went off and outside a huge window that covered the length of one wall horses sprung from their gates, cheered on by the swarm of desperates. I hate crowds for they depress me and make me cynical. The truth is that not everyone at the race-day was a desperate, there were nice people here, social people who simply wanted to go out and spend their money in a creative and entertaining way - they should not be punished for their sociality. But they will be.

The line moves along slightly and I look down at my ticket, my girlfriend and I won the last race, or came second or something, which meant that I had to line up and collect "winnings". In truth, we were far behind. The room was filled to almost bursting with people. It must have been a special day for racing or something as there was little room for moving about. Anyone who wanted to go to the toilet or to the bookie's booth had to try to shove their way though, leaving a wake of people like a knife dragged through dirty dish liquid. There were tables and chair's here that looked like they'd been stolen from train-station waiting areas or the very dingiest of beer gardens. A couple of sheets of butcher’s paper had been taped to the tables in an effort to give it a semblance of that restaurant look. Every now and then you'd see a whole table would rise and leave one guy who was designated table holder and make their way to the huge yellow-light buffet which held tubs of McCain’s chips, lasagna and basically everything else that can be cooked in a commercial oven and left under a heat lamp for five hours without losing it's golden glow. I hadn't yet been brave enough to assault the buffet yet. I’d have to wait until I got a bit drunker. My girlfriend is down there at the window sitting at the best table in the house that we'd reserved by arriving a full hour early. Her unknowing friends always commented on our luck.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

That quote doesn’t suit me as much as it previously did. It’s not so much that I’ve reached some kind of potential or that I no longer feel virginal, it’s perhaps that I’m no longer seeking for adventures to fill some hidden space.

I used to worry about my career, but now I don’t like to plan journeys that will ultimately lead to death. I now only lay plans that lead me to food and love. This has led me away from a sense of purpose and change towards a happy kind of love. I feel like I’ve lost something however, an innocent lust of direction, a holy sense of seeking.

I found some old journals that my father wrote when he was a teenager.


What in God’s name is an Artist doing selling Ball Bearings?

To be precise I’m not even selling them, I’m still learning what is what and where what goes. But to what purpose. To just(?) to job in a society that demands for at least modest successes and security. A Secure Artist. God, what next? A. Secure Bum. Why not a secure Artist. And why not a Secure Artist. I know from books of many Artists but none to me seem Secure. Not even Leonardo Da Vinci. And certainly not my friend Goya. Am I a Goya in New World. Or am. A. Gauguin not yet bloomed. God I wish that I only knew.




He went on to manage any number of small retail chains in a variety of industries, all the while raising his families, first one then the other. He has not yet become Goya in the New World but I wonder if doing so would have lead to a greater place, or any filled inner space.

I thought I might start off with better words than mine, as I've been told it's desirable to give a good first impression.

“Who was I?

I had grown from the soil of Australia; its promise of greatness was my own; it was unique, as I was; in a sense it too was an outcast, like I feel I am; it is alone in the world in a special way, as I am alone; it has a strength which has not yet been tested, not yet been developed; it is young, like me; it has resources in its body; like me it doesn’t quite fit with the world as it is, though it yet may do; it waits, gathering its strength, which is its enormous silence about it like a coat, waiting for an idea friend, a lover, a spouse – who does not come.

The country is a virgin, as I feel I am, essentially. The hidden place in me has not been touched; my trivial adventures have not touched it. Besides, in a larger sense I am not the person who did those things; I am different.

Am I perhaps Australia?”

-David Ireland, “A Woman of the Future”