Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Characters We Play

A few weeks ago we finished up a Vampire: The Masquerade forum game. The game ran from the beginning of February to the end of October. Two weeks later we had a wrap party and for the first time I got to meet the players behind the characters.

I know it's been officially one month since the actual end of game and two weeks (feels so much longer!) since the party. This is something I had wanted to talk about during the game, but one thing led to another and I never got around to it. Now that the emotions left over from the game have settled and I am looking back over the last nine months I thought it would be a good time.

This was the first forum game I've ever played in and it ended up being my BEST rp ever. It was also extremely emotionally intense. Even though I was able to keep the characters and actions in the game separate from reality, I still became exceedingly attached not only to my character, but also to some of the other characters in the game. So attached that I can say with absolute honesty that I truly love them. There were other characters I couldn't stand in the same way.

While I do feel these strong emotions for the characters the feelings are not translated to their players. The I don't love them or hate them the way I do the figments of their imagination. I know they are not their characters, even if I do still occasionally refer to them as their characters. (That's an old habit born from continuously referring to people by their handle or username or character name when you meet them online.)

When the game started I didn't know what to expect. I had a vague idea of the character I was playing and where I wanted her to go. Her backstory evolved organically during the first month or so of the game as I began to find reasons for why she was the way she was. I hadn't intended her to be that way, but she took on a life of her own. The path she followed through the game was almost entirely developmental. She did not contribute to very much major plot, but she wasn't in a position to do anything. Her story was one of self exploration and, ultimately, tragedy.

As the last two weeks of the game came to a close people were rushing to complete their stories and scenes. Knowing that I would be away the last few days of the game I rushed to complete the last few scenes I was in.

Her story hit a climax as the two characters she and I loved so very deeply killed each other. I tried frantically to see if there was anything I could do to save them, but there was nothing. I spent days sobbing hysterically, curled up in my bed unable to move. It was an effort to force the last few posts out for the scene. At one point I thought "if I don't post, they can't continue, and they won't die." Of course, this didn't work. When I didn't immediately respond they continued on with out me.

The death of the characters felt as though I had lost two people I loved, because in a way I did. Did I over react? Possibly. A lot of people would say I had, but I don't think it's a bad thing. Whenever I read a book or write a story or play a character, especially if it's well done, I become invested in those characters. They become real to me. I live and breathe with them, I often dream extensively about them, and they become alive. Their world becomes mine for the brief period I spend with them. I know they are not real, and I don't pretend that they are, but they feel real. The love, fear, sorrow, and anger I feel for them is real.

I love the people I got to play with. They were fun and gave me one of the best role playing experiences of my life. They are also excellent players and they are the ones that made their characters come alive for me. To them I salute. They gave me such a wonderful thing, as tragic as it was. I still miss the characters. I still love them, and I still think about them quite a bit.

Occasionally I go back and read the scenes we were in, to see if it still resonates with me the way it did the first time. Yes, I still get misty eyed. I still feel the same frustration and anger and love. Are there things I would have changed? Some. Going back I now have a different perspective and I wonder how things might have turned out if I had done certain things differently, or didn't do others at all. Perhaps it may have had a happier ending. Perhaps it would have been the same. Perhaps some day we'll go back and retell the story differently. Maybe the characters will be given a new life in a different game or story.

Whatever the case, the characters we play and interact with often change us, leaving something of themselves behind even when they or the game are long dead and gone. Whether we become as emotionally attached as I do, or not it doesn't matter. A good character and a good game will leave it's mark. They touch us in ways we'd never expect, and I think for that moment. For that feeling. For the joy of telling a story with others. For the chance that we will somehow connect with these characters and players in a deep and meaningful way is what brings us together.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Oh, God. Make the Hurting Stop

I was going to talk about the guy who swallowed a mini sound system to become a human jukebox, but then my brain melted and my eyes almost bled out of my head. I promise, I'll talk about him another time. There's no way I can't.

Not working for several weeks, an unfortunate round of depression, a long holiday weekend, and the various projects I've started have left my sleeping and eating schedule erratic, which made the first day of my new temp job painful.

It's boring in an eye bleeding and brain melting sort of way, but overall not entirely unpleasant. A little bird told me the well-to-do of the department are looking for someone permanent, and I am clearly a lot better than the last girl. She lasted a week, and I've spent the day correcting her mistakes or doing the work she said she did, but clearly didn't. I've already got the job aced, but I have to wonder how I managed to get a job where I have to do mat.

I failed math. Repeatedly. I failed most classes that required a lot of linear, reason based logic. In other words, most science and math. I did wonderfully in English, Art, and Philosophy. Even History wasn't too shabby. But Algebra I failed twice in college. I failed geometry in High school. I failed Statistics in High school. I barely made it through Chemistry and Physics. I wasn't too bad in Biology... but maybe that was because I was excited about dissecting dead things, incredibly fascinated by their inner workings.

I digress.

Math and I don't get along. I've forgotten how to do long division and anything not in an even increment of five or ten I need a calculator for. So, how I landed a job making sure all the numbers on the dimensions and conversions are correct beats the hell out of me. So far I've got it aced, but it's only been one day running on four hours of sleep. I still have the rest of the week to go through, and there's plenty of time to sink.

Right now I'm going to go veg out doing something that doesn't require brain power. Maybe curl up in bed with a movie until I fall asleep. Hopefully I can run on full tomorrow and I'll have something more interesting and enthusiastic to talk about.

Friday, November 26, 2010

ColorPic - Short Review

As a designer it's useful, if not downright mandatory, to know all the information you can about the colors you're using, not least being the hexadecimal number. Web deisgners, programmers, and anyone creating anything for the web need this information.

I recently started creating web designs and I needed the hex number for some of the colors I was using. I haven't found anything in Adobe that tells me this (there might be something built in, please tell me if there is!), and so a quick search yielded immediate results.

I found ColorPic by Iconico. It's a simple, easy to use, free program that tells you everything you could ever need to know about a color anywhere on your screen. You can get it's hex and decimal number, the RGB values, the CMYK values, and it converts the color to websafe with just a click of the button. How cool is that?

Another great thing about the program is that it magnifies the section of the screen so you can quickly and easily select the individual pixel you're trying to get. Handy for those intricate images you're trying to get the color pallet for.

EDIT: I just found where I can find the hex number in Adobe. I knew it had to be in there somewhere! Even so, this program is still really neat!

Black Friday Rule - Christmas WTF - Part Two

Black Friday is here. It comes this day every year, and it is a really sad and terrifying spectacle to behold. With the angry, crazed mobs lining up for blocks outside stores hours before they open, what has this turned into? What does this say about us? 

What happened to spending a few days around Thanksgiving with friends and family? What happened to just enjoying some time before the next holiday quietly (or not so quietly) eating left overs, watching football, and slowly breaking out the Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanaza/Yule/whatever decorations?

Is it really necessary to perpetuate the idea of extreme consumerism with a major shopping event EVERY year? And why do the stores and corporations need to incite such a frenzy? How many times have people died, trampled to death, or crushed against doors that won't open? 

I'd be terrified to be a shopper or an employee in any retail setting on this day. Just look at the guys up there. (Is it weird that my main concern is what do they do when they have to pee? Like getting through THAT is an option.)

This is an utterly ridiculous tradition and it is exactly the opposite of what this season, cumulative of Thanksgiving and Christmas (or whatever winter holiday you celebrate), is supposed to represent. What happened to actually being Thankful? It's like we're doing nothing more than paying lip service to Thanksgiving and then jumping right into the shopping frenzy of Christmas, which is supposed to be about family and community. It's so not supposed to be about presents. Only the smallest of us seem to truly get that (ask any 2 year old about Christmas and they'll tell you about snow, cookies, candy canes, and going to see grandma. They won't say a thing about presents unless you tell them, though they might make mention of Santa and his reindeer.).

I boycott Black Friday on principle. Buying gifts, for others or for yourself, should not be done in a frenzy where people are fighting over the last Tickle Me Elmo, or the last Thingamabob, or whatever it is they're wanting. If I do ANY shopping on this day it's from the comfort of my home and the internet. I likely won't darken any store doorway for another week or two at least.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Christmas WTF - Part 1

(This is a part one because I'm pretty sure I'll find some more WTF moments as the holidays get into full swing.)

I was at CVS today browsing their holiday section trying to get ideas for stocking stuffers for people and I was admiring some of their ornaments when I came across ones advertised as Mom's Favorite.

Really? We are encouraging parents (mother's specifically!) to choose favorite children and bestow upon them an ornament that proclaims this for everyone to know? Why is this okay?

As children we are simultaneously hit with the ideas that "All parents have a favorite" and that "There aren't supposed to be favorites." As we get older we are told that you shouldn't pick favorites among our children, and yet we are again bombarded with the idea that we should have a favorite.

What is wrong with this? Why can't we be unbiased toward our children? Why are we being encouraged to choose favorites and to then put this favoritism on display?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A new image?

It's time for some self exploration, as well as an expanded definition of what I want this blog to be.

I started this blog with the intention of posting rants and raves about various geeky things, the occasional game review, and as a home for my blogcomic. However, I am a fickle creature and while I occasionally have a lot to say about those things, and I have this great idea for a blogcomic (Really, I do! It's got Cthulhu in it! Who doesn't love Cthulhu?), I don't seem to have the energy? More like focus. To post with any sort of regularity on any of those topics, or any topic at all.

I used to be a blogger. Back in the day I was addicted to LiveJournal. I had a HUGE number of people following my blog, and I, too, followed a huge number of people. At some point I just stopped caring. About the blog. About the people, or at least about their blogs. A few of them I still talk to, but our interactions are entirely outside of the blog world. I didn't have time to follow all the blogs I was supposed to, and I lost interest in posting constantly. My blog, originally a place for me to rant and rave about the things in my head, whatever they might be, had become a place of self absorption and angst. (I was told my LJ was angstier than a White Wolf book! WTF?)

Now, years later, I want to blog again with some semblance of regularity. I want to express myself, but with less angst. Less self absorption. Less whining.

I want the things I say to be meaningful, not only to me, but hopefully to others out there in the blog world. I want to talk about really geeky things, but I also want to talk about life, the things I'm going through, and how I'm dealing with them.

I am not the most eloquent person, nor am I the most wise or intelligent. My story and life is no better or worse than anyone else's. It's just who I am, though maybe not who I want to be.

This blog is going to be the place where I put down my thoughts. Where I sort through my own head, and hopefully it will become that place where I do post that blog comic I SWEAR I'm going to do. (Just not sure when.) It will not just be geekery, it will be life.