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Reload the Canons!

This series of articles is an attempt to play through The Canon of videogames: your Metroids, your Marios, your Zeldas, your Pokemons, that kind of thing.

Except I'm not playing the original games. Instead, I'm playing only remakes, remixes, and weird fan projects. This is the canon of games as seen through the eyes of fans, and I'm going to treat fan games as what they are: legitimate works of art in their own right that deserve our analysis and respect.

Friday, March 17, 2017

To Train Them Is My Cause: Why Do We Care About Our Pokemon?

Pokemon games, whether canon or fan-made, live or die based on the bond between Pokemon and players. Can we use the mechanics of the games and the way those mechanics are altered in Pokemon Uranium, Pokemon Insurgence, and Pokemon Infinite Fusion to explain why we care about our Pokemon?
Reload the Canons! is an ongoing Storming the Ivory Tower project where I play through The Canon of videogames. Except I'm not playing the original games. Instead, I'm playing only remakes, remixes, and weird fan projects. This is the canon of games as seen through the eyes of fans, and I'm going to treat fan games as what they are: legitimate works of art in their own right that deserve our analysis and respect. You can support Reload the Canons! and my other projects on the Storming the Ivory Tower Patreon.


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Modern Myth-Busting: Are Rogue One's Characters Worthy Star Wars Heroes?

"Rogue One is too dark and gritty," cries the Internet! "It sullies the black and white morality of the Modern Myth, Star Wars!" But are these thinkpieces, reviews, and fandom metas really paying close attention to the movies they claim to love? And what does it say that Rogue One's cast is held to a different standard than Han Solo?



Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Starkitecture: Should We Be Worried About Black Panther's Concept Art?

A few weeks ago we got our first glimpse of the MCU's Black Panther in the form of several concept art pieces. The images look cool at first glance, but does Wakanda's setting design suggest some deeper limitations to the Marvel imagination, and the potential for this film to give us something really original? And what does a movement called The International Style have to do with it?


Thursday, February 16, 2017

An Eternal Golden Helix Fossil: Three Years On, What Can We Say About Twitch Plays Pokemon?

Three years ago I wrote an academic article about Twitch Plays Pokemon. The article was never published anywhere, but despite that blow to its notability TPP continued on, and is still going three years later. This week, I take a look at this article, which in many ways is a predecessor to my Reload the Canons! series, and comment on what I got right, what I got wrong, and how the issues surrounding TPP have shifted and changed over the past three years.
Reload the Canons! is an ongoing Storming the Ivory Tower project where I play through The Canon of videogames. Except I'm not playing the original games. Instead, I'm playing only remakes, remixes, and weird fan projects. This is the canon of games as seen through the eyes of fans, and I'm going to treat fan games as what they are: legitimate works of art in their own right that deserve our analysis and respect. You can support Reload the Canons! and my other projects on the Storming the Ivory Tower Patreon. 



Thursday, February 9, 2017

A Galaxy Very, Very Near: Are Time And Space in Rogue One Core to its Resistance Narrative?



Rogue One is a film about resistance and domination, time and space, environment and technology. Can linking these concepts together tell us more about the film's science fiction storytelling... and reveal something about our own forms of contemporary resistance?





Thursday, February 2, 2017

Announcing: Two New Twine Projects!


Twilight of the Superheroes

Narrowly winning the recent vote for what book project I should tackle next, Twilight of the Superheroes will collect my critical writing on superhero media that didn't make it into My Superpower is Manpain!, and release it with a bunch of bonus content and an overarching structure drawing upon Alan Moore's planned-but-never-realized superhero crossover epic of the same name. Like If The Train Stops We All Die, this will be released in an experimental Twine format that uses hypertext to imagine new possibilities for a series of essays about the failure of imagination in superhero media.

Twilight of the Superheroes will be available to $5 Patreon backers, and the raw text and bonus essays will be available to $1 backers.



A Host of Gentle Terrors

(a walking simulator)

You remember wandering in a strange and disorienting land, a land of fluid geography and unstable biology...

A Host of Gentle Terrors is a text-based exploration of a constantly shifting world and its strange inhabitants. Currently in demo form, this twine might be called an open-world procedurally generated walking simulator, or it might just be called a free-form narrative about discovery, monstrosity, and being alone in an often surreal and unsettling landscape.

This demo will be available both to Patreon backers and on (as yet undetermined) other platforms in the near future, with a fully realized release possible depending on interest.

This Cool Walking Simulator Features:

  • No Leveling
  • No Crafting System
  • Bullets! (but no guns to shoot them with)
  • No Stamina Meters
  • No Retro Pixel Art
  • Some Zombies?
  • Non-Euclidean Geography
  • Uncomfortably Biological Machinery
  • A Fishing Mini Game Everyone Loves Fishing Mini Games Right?
  • Tyranny And Mutation (The Concepts, Not The Album)
  • Queer Shit I Mean It's A Twine What Honestly Did You Expect
Keep checking Storming the Ivory Tower and the StIT Patreon for these releases, coming soon!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

So Much To Do/So Much To Say: What Even Is Neil Cicierega's Mouth Moods?

This week, rather than the normal StIT article, I'm instead releasing several pieces of more experimental criticism. The first, going up today, is a live commentary on Mouth Moods, the new mashup album by Neil Cicierega. The second, coming tomorrow to Eruditorum Press's blog, is going to be a more traditional article on some apocalyptic music that all coincidentally came out around January 20th for some weird reason. And finally, there will be a bonus Patreon-exclusive piece posted tomorrow as well on a recent form-shattering Idea Channel video.

You can find some guiding thoughts on this whole experiment, as well as links to the Patreon content, below the cut.

You can listen to the podcast here.





Thursday, January 19, 2017

My God, Steven Universe is Full of Stars!: SU and Golden Age Sci Fi

The most recent Stevenbomb introduces five episodes of golden age pulp sci fi adventure... but what does the recontextualization of old narrative techniques in this new interconnected narrative form say about golden age sci fi, about Steven Universe's quest for the truth, and... about the fandom's understanding of the show?



Monday, January 9, 2017

Video Killed The Yurio Star: Why Is Yuri On Ice's Soundtrack So Weak?

The homoerotic skating anime Yuri On Ice places great importance on the choice of music for performance. But can its soundtrack live up to its own implicit standards? And what does that say about the rest of the show's creative direction?


Monday, January 2, 2017

If The Twine Stops We All Die

Over this break, I decided to teach myself Twine. As one does. The result, which I'm releasing to all of my Patreon backers as a thank you for supporting me over the past year, is a now hyper version of my last article, "If The Train Stops We All Die." There's nothing too complex going on here, but I've tweaked and expanded some of the text and I'm hoping that the results help to highlight the intertwined nature of this article (which was always written, actually, with a hypertext format in mind).

As my $2+ backers know, I like making my stuff as accessible as possible, and the great thing about these Twines is that you can actually pull them into the program yourself and decompile them to see how they work, in the same way people are welcome to look at my original Krita files to see how I compose the layers for my artwork! This is still pretty dour stuff, of course, to ring in the new year (Happy Yekaterina Bridge! Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!) but I really am thankful to all of you for your support, and I wanted to do something extra and experimental as an added sort of end of the year perk.

So check out Patreon to download this new Twine (and something extra...), and if you haven't yet subscribed consider doing so to get access to a couple years' worth of exclusive bonus content!


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Monday, December 12, 2016

Crazy Noisy Bizarre Town: Mob Psycho 100, Diamond Is Unbreakable, and... Post-Shonen Anime?

Mob Psycho 100, like comicker One's previous work One Punch Man, has a premise that seems to undermine core aspects of Shonen narratives... or even action narratives in general. Coincidentally, the current arc of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Diamond Is Unbreakable, has developed in ways that also disrupt traditional storytelling. Might we call these two works post-Shonen? And what can a 1961 short story by Kurt Vonnegut tell us about what these shows are trying to do?



Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Look Inside And You Will Find: Are Glitches Part of the Pokemon Experience?

The fan game Pokemon Uranium has some weird behaviors and some astounding glitches, but are those glitches just flaws, or are they important to make Pokemon Uranium feel like a genuine Pokemon game? And what can it tell us about the hype cycle surrounding canon games Sun and Moon, and spinoffs like Pokemon Go? 
Reload the Canons! is an ongoing Storming the Ivory Tower project where I play through The Canon of videogames. Except I'm not playing the original games. Instead, I'm playing only remakes, remixes, and weird fan projects. This is the canon of games as seen through the eyes of fans, and I'm going to treat fan games as what they are: legitimate works of art in their own right that deserve our analysis and respect. You can support Reload the Canons! and my other projects on the Storming the Ivory Tower Patreon.

Monday, November 28, 2016

A Horizon of Jostling Curiosities: Homestuck and Form RELEASE


Homestuck made headlines in 2012 when it earned 2.5 million dollars to fund the creation of an adventure game based on the series, but few commentators were equipped to discuss the most remarkable part of Homestuck's success:

Homestuck was arguably the first truly successful hypercomic, a comic that can only exist on the web.

A Horizon of Jostling Curiosities analyzes Homestuck in the context of the new hypercomics boom that it inspired. Containing newly revised and updated versions of five articles from Storming the Ivory Tower on Homestuck's formal techniques, the book places them alongside brand new and exclusive reviews of works like Awful Hospital, Ava's Demon, and Neokosmos, digging into the techniques and technologies that make these comics possible. 

Laying out the history of hypercomics for the first time, this book is an essential read for anyone looking to better understand why Homestuck is successful, and the possibilities that its formal techniques offer.

You can instantly access the fully illustrated ebook of A Horizon of Jostling Curiosities, as well as my previous three books, through a $5 subscription on Patreon, or access the text draft for just $1. Additionally, becoming a backer gets you loads of other perks:

$1 Backers: Prequel Adventure Review

Is Prequel Adventure a story about making a cat cry, or is it more a story about coming together to dry her tears?

$1 Backers: Ruby Quest Review

Ruby Quest is uneven as hell, but might it offer a glimpse into an emerging rhetorical mode for fiction?

$1 Backers: Neokosmos Review

Could Neokosmos represent hypercomics becoming the most attractive medium for professional visual storytellers?

$1 Backers: Ava's Demon Review

Does Ava's Demon represent the future of how hypercomics are produced?

$1 Backers: Alastere Review

Does a JRPG actually need an active player at all to tell its story?

$1 Backers: Awful Hospital Review

Does Awful Hospital's blending of form and theme surpass even that of Homestuck?

$3 Backers: Sleuth And His Problems

In this StIT Podcast, I ramble in dazed fashion about Problem Sleuth and get distracted by researching the entire history of HTML development.

$2 Backers: Original Art

Download the original Krita file I used to paint the cover image!

FREE: Problem Sleuth Review

Problem Sleuth, Bard Quest, and Jailbreak may not be as renowned as Homestuck, but they helped put Andrew Hussie on the cultural map. But is Problem Sleuth really a comic? Or is it a game? Or a hypertext? Or is it something else entirely?

$5 Backers: A Bodyless and Timeless Persona

$5 Backers: A Horizon of Jostling Curiosities

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