I wanted to write a poem that was long, angry, and contradictory. I wanted to write a poem about the future and do it lovingly. Did I come out on the other side of meanness? That’s not for me to say here, that’s not for me to know. At least not now. Ask me to write a prefatory note ten years from now, we’ll see what happens. I wanted to see what would happen, so I wrote NOW THEN WHATEVER. Now you can read it, if you want.
I’m 2000 posts into this blog, so I thought I’d reintroduce myself. I’m Jonathan Schoenfelder, I’m 26 years old, I live in Boise, Idaho where I currently work as an animal cremator. This blog was originally meant to be a companion piece to a poetry project I was doing, but that project kind of sucked and was pretty ill-conceived, so this blog has become a hodge-podge of things I like and write about. That’s mostly video games atm, but also some poetry and politics, music that is to my taste, a smattering of news, and puns as often as possible. I’ve been trying to make a better practice of writing critical or poetic work on this blog, but I’d rather not commit myself to anything concrete since I end up reblogging compulsively. All that said, I really like talking to people on tumblr, so if you ever have a question you’d like my take on, or if you’d like to strike up a conversation with me, I’d likely be enthusiastic to hear from you (esp. about poetry and video games).
The origins of the game that would become known as Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? are confused, with lots of oft-contradictory memories and claims flying around. However, the most consistent story has it beginning with an idea by Gary Carlston of Brøderbund Software in 1983. He and his brother Doug had been fascinated by their family’s almanac as children: “We used to lie there and ask each other questions out of the almanac.” This evolved into impromptu quiz games in bed after the lights went out. Gary now proposed a game or, better yet, a series of games which would have players running down a series of clues about geography and history, answerable via a trusty almanac or other reference work to be included along with the game disk right there in the box.
Brøderbund didn’t actually develop much software in-house, preferring to publish the work of outside developers on a contract basis. While they did have a small staff of programmers and even artists, they were there mainly to assist outside developers by helping with difficult technical problems, porting code to other machines, and polishing in-game art rather than working up projects from scratch. But this idea just seemed to have too much potential to ignore or outsource. Gary was therefore soon installed in Brøderbund’s “rubber room” — so-called because it was the place where people went to bounce ideas off one another — along with Lauren Elliott, the company’s only salaried game designer; Gene Portwood, Elliott’s best friend, manager of Brøderbund’s programming team, and a pretty good artist; Ed Bernstein, head of Brøderbund’s art department; and programmer Dane Bigham, who would be expected to write not so much a game as a cross-platform database-driven engine that could power many ports and sequels beyond the Apple II original.
Gary’s first idea was to name the game Six Crowns of Henry VIII, and to make it a scavenger hunt for the eponymous crowns through Britain. However, the team soon turned that into something wider-scoped and more appealing to the emerging American edutainment market. You would be chasing an international criminal ring through cities located all over the world, trying to recover a series of stolen cultural artifacts, like a jade goddess from Singapore, an Inca mask from Peru, or a gargoyle from Notre Dame Cathedral (wonder how the thieves managed that one). It’s not entirely clear who came up with the idea for making the leader of the ring, whose capture would become the game’s ultimate goal, a woman named Carmen Sandiego, but Elliott believes the credit most likely belongs to Portwood. Regardless, everyone immediately liked the idea. “There were enough male bad guys,” said Elliott later, and “girls [could] be just as bad.” (Later, when the character became famous, Brøderbund would take some heat from Hispanic groups who claimed that the game associated a Hispanic surname with criminality. Gary replied with a tongue-in-cheek letter explaining that “Sandiego” was actually Carmen’s married name, that her maiden name was “Sondberg” and she was actually Swedish.) When development started in earnest, the Carmen team was pared down to a core trio of Eliott, who broadly speaking put together the game’s database of clues and cities; Portwood, who drew the graphics; and Bigham, who wrote the code. But, as Eliott later said, “A lot of what we did just happened. We didn’t think much about it.”
On Carmen Sandiego and the rise of edutainment gaming.
The New York Times front page is an article giving “equal” weight to the stories of Darren Wilson as a quiet tortured officer with a rough job and Michael Brown as a rough kid who “was no angel” and beat up store clerks.
This series of images was brought to us through our friend & collaborator, Harsh Patel, who said he was gifted these scans from Bay-Area artist Michael Guidetti. With names like Daytona Park, Namco Wonder Egg, and Time Travel House, we can only image the what the experience of stepping foot into one of these obscure arcades would be like. Please enjoy Japanese Game Parks.
Rihanna:Those who hate themselves cannot love or trust others.
Drake:I am wicked... a coward... weak... and...
Beyoncé:If you know yourself, you can be kind to others.
Drake:I hate myself. But... I might be able to love myself. I might be able to stay here. Yes. I am nothing, but I... I am myself. I wish to be myself. I wish to stay here as myself. I am worthy of living here!
My name is Arden, and after a few days of thinking I’ve decided that I’m going to ruin video games.
I’m going to be doing everything in my power to destroy them completely. Walking simulators about feelings and emotions as far as the eye can see! Guns that shoot kisses! Lady characters that aren’t designed to cater to the whims of straight men! I’m hiding loving queer couples in every treasure chest instead of new armor. Every game will now be required to have at least one section that can be described as “too” personal. Fuck, if I’m feeling really bold, I might even throw some non-white characters into a game or two! I’ll magically replace every copy of every big-budget first person shooter with either Gone Home or Dear Esther and listen to the agitated shrieks of gamers.
Non-men have been “ruining” games for a long time, of course, by virtue of existing and trying to make the medium and the spaces around it more inclusive and less festering garbage. I’m just owning up to it now, so there can be no doubt: I’m here to ruin games. The space gamers have carved out is broken and vile, and I’m done with it. This is not their hobby anymore, it is our art.
I’m ruining video games! Join me! Make a personal story in Twine, nothing pisses gamers off more than interactive fiction sharing experiences that don’t cater to them! Make something in RPG Maker! You don’t even need to put combat in it! Make a dating sim or a visual novel in Ren’Py! Ruining games is easy, I know you can do it too!
This is a fund set up for the people who have been arrested while protesting in Ferguson. Please donate if you can and share widely. This is concrete action we can take to support the people of Ferguson. Also please call your local representative and let them know you do not agree with what’s happening. Here’s a script and a way to find the contact info for your local reps.
I can’t stay at my house anymore because a drug dealer has been making threats against my life for being trans. I have no idea where to go or stay, but have some money to pay rent. Please contact me as soon as possible Nepenthe@temple.edu