Castle Joyeous Design Document

Background/Narrative Description:

Emerging from the depths of forest, the awe-struck PC suddenly beholds the breathtaking sight of Castle Joyeous, Malecasta’s opulent residence, rising formidably from a spacious green plain. After the battle on the plain, the six knights lead the PC inside of the castle. Upon entering the palace’s walls, the traveler finds himself in a great luxurious chamber, its walls and pillars crafted from pure gold and beset with sparkling jewels. Beautifully crafted tapestries adorn the chamber’s walls, depicting the myth of Adonis and Venus’s passionate romance.

The knights usher the enamored player down the length of hallway to a large door at the opposite end. Approaching the door, the PC can hear the faint notes of a distant song and the din of lively chatter, growing ever louder. In the next room, richly attired damsels and squires swirl across the marble dance floor to the soft, undulating beats of a sensual melody. Wine and spirits flow freely. Spanning the center of the feasting hall stands a long golden table, upon which an abundant banquet is spread—plates heaping with braised meats and exotic fruits and mouthwatering pastries.

Awestruck, the PC stands and quietly beholds the magnificent delights of opulent hall, but the knights break him from his state of wonderment and lead him over to the fireplace, where a dark, sinister beauty sits on a sumptuous high-backed chair, her blood-red lips tightly pursed into a sly grin. The PC is then introduced to this captivating enchantress, whose name is Malecasta. The lady of Castle Joyeous, Malecasta is lustful, wanton, and dangerously beautiful. As she regards the PC, her black eyes shine with an amused, almost lustful glint.

At last, night has befallen the castle, and all the guests retire to their bedchambers. Malecasta’s personal bodyguard courteously leads the PC into a comfortable-sized guest room with a large four-poster bed. The PC climbs under the covers and immediately lapses into a sound slumber. In the middle of the night, the door of the bedchamber creaks open, and Malecasta, clad in a white nightgown, slips quietly into the darkness of the room. Slowly and silently, a lustful gleam in her eye, she creeps toward the bed, where the NPC continues to doze in sweet oblivion. When she reaches the bed, she carefully lifts the bedcover, her fingers trembling with animal, greedy desire, and peers under the sheets.

The PC, sensing Malecasta’s presence, leaps up in a state of disheveled shock and instinctively grabs his sword, brandishing it aloft. Upon seeing the sharp weapon, glistening in the silken moonlight streaming in from the window, Malecasta omits a loud, ghastly scream that pierces the silence of the sleeping castle. Immediately, the six knights rush in, and a confrontation ensues in the darkness of the bedchamber. The PC must successfully defeat the six knights in order to leave Castle Joyeous.

Quests:

I. The Lover’s Quarrel

Quest Items: The love note

Goals:

  • Goal 1: Speak to the suspicious female reveler who will prompt the PC to spy on her allegedly unfaithful husband
  • Goal 2: Search the couple’s bedchamber, finding the love note addressed to the mistress of the castle
  • Goal 3: Speak to the suspicious female reveler’s husband
  • At this point the suspicious female reveler’s husband will offer the player monetary compensation in return for the love note.  The player can…
    • Goal 4 A: Give the note to the husband and receive a gold reward and negative chastity
    • Goal 4 B: Refuse the husband’s offer and give the note to the suspicious female reveler, gaining positive chastity

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II. Mistress of the Castle

Quest Items: The Bedchamber Key (This key will allow the PC to access the guest bedchamber)

Goals:

  • Goal 1:  Speak to Malecasta’s personal bodyguard to discuss the background of Castle Joyeous
  • Goal 2: Speak to Malecasta and receive the bedchamber key (Malecasta will attempt to seduce the player)
  • Goal 3: Follow Malecasta’s personal bodyguard to the guest bedchamber

Quest Script:

Bodyguard: Welcome, fair knight, to Castle Joyeous. The fair lady who sits before you is the keeper of this grand residence. Her name is Malecasta, and she is renowned throughout the land for her unparalleled, rare beauty and unmatched charms. No mortal man can resist her temptations.

PC: ‘Tis an honor you meet you, my lady.

Malecasta: Ah, fair knight, the pleasure—I can assure you—is all mine. Please, take refuge for the night in the castle; we have many spare rooms. It is fast growing dark, and at this most uncertain hour it would not be prudent to wander outside among the night’s shadowy dangers.

PC: Thank you, my lady. Your hospitably is most appreciated.

Malecasta: A good knight deserves hospitable treatment. Here, take this—it is the key to your bedchamber. My manservant will lead you there. Have a sound and restful sleep, my knight.

Quest Notes:

When the PC accepts the key the queen’s bodyguard should begin walking to the guest bedchamber. This will ensure the player promptly follows the storyline.  Once the player has entered the bedchamber a cutscene begins in which the player climbs into bed and falls asleep.  While the PC is sleeping, Malecasta enters the bedchamber and approaches the bed.  The PC awakes, grabbing his sword, and Malecasta lets out a scream.

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III. Flight from Castle Joyeous

Goals:

  • Goal 1: Find Redcrosse (at this point Redcrosse will join the player’s party)
  • Goal 2: Return to the guest bedchamber and battle the six knights with the assistance of Redcrosse
  • Goal 3: Exit Castle Joyeous

Quest notes: When the player awakes and brandishes their sword, Malecasta should be trembling, about to faint.  Redcrosse should be standing directly outside of the bedchamber and should join the player’s party.  The encounter with the knights should be rather difficult and should take place within the bedchamber.

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In addition, we would like to implement a basic morality system.  Certain actions taken by the PC will result in a change of morality.  A player’s morality alignment will affect interactions with NPCs.  A given player’s moral alignment will determine conversational options.

NPCS to be added:

  • Malecasta
    • Should originally spawn in dining hall and later follow the PC upstairs into the guest bedchamber
    • 6 six knights
      • These are the same 6 six knights that the player encounters on the plain outside of the castle. They should initially lead the player into the castle following the confrontation on the plain.
    • Malecasta’s bodyguard
    Anna Dickens & Zack Goldman

Team 4: Castle Joyeous

Anna Dickens & Zack Goldman

Book 3, Canto 1, Stanzas 32, 41, 63-66

Emerging from the depths of forest, the awe-struck PC suddenly beholds the breathtaking sight of Castle Joyeous, Malecasta’s opulent residence, rising formidably from a spacious green plain. After the battle on the plain, the six knights lead the PC inside of the castle. Upon entering the palace’s walls, the traveler finds himself in a great luxurious chamber, its walls and pillars crafted from pure gold and beset with sparkling jewels. Beautifully crafted tapestries adorn the chamber’s walls, depicting the myth of Adonis and Venus’s passionate romance.

The knights usher the enamored player down the length of hallway to a large door at the opposite end. Approaching the door, the PC can hear the faint notes of a distant song and the din of lively chatter, growing ever louder. In the next room, richly attired damsels and squires swirl across the marble dance floor to the soft, undulating beats of a sensual melody. Wine and spirits flow freely. Spanning the center of the feasting hall stands a long golden table, upon which an abundant banquet is spread—plates heaping with braised meats and exotic fruits and mouthwatering pastries.

Awestruck, the PC stands and quietly beholds the magnificent delights of opulent hall, but the knights break him from his state of wonderment and lead him over to the fireplace, where a dark, sinister beauty sits on a sumptuous high-backed chair, her blood-red lips tightly pursed into a sly grin. The PC is then introduced to this captivating enchantress, whose name is Malecasta. The lady of Castle Joyeous, Malecasta is lustful, wanton, and dangerously beautiful. As she regards the PC, her black eyes shine with an amused, almost lustful glint.

At last, night has befallen the castle, and all the guests retire to their bedchambers. Malecasta’s personal bodyguard courteously leads the PC into a comfortable-sized guest room with a large four-poster bed. The PC climbs under the covers and immediately lapses into a sound slumber. In the middle of the night, the door of the bedchamber creaks open, and Malecasta, clad in a white nightgown, slips quietly into the darkness of the room. Slowly and silently, a lustful gleam in her eye, she creeps toward the bed, where the NPC continues to doze in sweet oblivion. When she reaches the bed, she carefully lifts the bedcover, her fingers trembling with animal, greedy desire, and peers under the sheets.

The PC, sensing Malecasta’s presence, leaps up in a state of disheveled shock and instinctively grabs his sword, brandishing it aloft. Upon seeing the sharp weapon, glistening in the silken moonlight streaming in from the window, Malecasta omits a loud, ghastly scream that pierces the silence of the sleeping castle. Immediately, the six knights rush in, and a confrontation ensues in the darkness of the bedchamber. The PC must successfully defeat the six knights in order to leave Castle Joyeous.

Quests:

The Lover’s Quarrel

Quest Items: The love note

Goal 1: Speak to the suspicious female reveler who will prompt the PC to spy on her allegedly unfaithful husband

Goal 2: Search the couple’s bedchamber, finding the love note addressed to the mistress of the castle

Goal 3: Speak to the suspicious female reveler’s husband

At this point the suspicious female reveler’s husband will offer the player monetary compensation in return for the love note.  The player can…

Goal 4 A: Give the note to the husband and receive a gold reward and negative chastity

Goal 4 B: Refuse the husband’s offer and give the note to the suspicious female reveler, gaining positive chastity

Mistress of the Castle

Quest Items: The Bedchamber Key (This key will allow the PC to access the guest bedchamber)

Goal 1:  Speak to Malecasta’s personal bodyguard to discuss the background of Castle Joyeous

Goal 2: Speak to Malecasta and receive the bedchamber key (Malecasta will attempt to seduce the player)

Goal 3: Follow Malecasta’s personal bodyguard to the guest bedchamber

Flight from Castle Joyeous

Goal 1: Go to sleep in the guest bedchamber, eventually awaking to the sound of a scream

Goal 2: Find Redcrosse (at this point Redcrosse will join the player’s party)

Goal 3: Return to the guest bedchamber and battle the six knights with the assistance of Redcrosse

Goal 4: Exit Castle Joyeous

In addition, we would like to implement a basic morality system.  Certain actions taken by the PC will result in a change of morality.  A player’s morality alignment will affect interactions with NPCs.  A given player’s moral alignment will determine conversational options.

Spenser for Dummies

Viciously, wrathfully, they descended upon him, surrounding him on all sides. Weariness began to spread through his aching arms, and the breath came from his mouth in short, shallow spurts, but he refused to give up. Blood gushing from his sides, he continued to deftly deal blows onto his attackers. Every time he made a move, wreaking a storm of violent wrath in his wake, they recoiled, death flashing before their eyes.

Now, we will read another account of this same incident, rendered in a different style:

“Mainly they all attonce upon him laid,

And sore beset on every side around,

That nigh he breathless grew, yet nought dismaid,

Ne ever to the yielded foot of ground

All had he lost much bloud through many a wound

But stoutly dealt his blowes, and every way

To which he turned in his wrathfull stound,

Made them recoile, and fly from dred decay,

That none of all sixe before, him durst assay.”

The second passage, an excerpt from Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, is wrought in a style so eloquent, so timeless, that it defies replication. It is a relic of a beautiful, long-forgotten way of speaking that has all but disappeared, erased by centuries of linguistic upheavals and sullied by the informality of modern slang.

But there’s one little problem: what, exactly, is Spenser trying to say???

There’s no doubt about it: in terms of sheer readability, the first passage wins hands-down. However beautiful Spenser’s prose may be, it’s not exactly ideal for your typical lounge-on-the-beach or curl-up-by-the-fireplace sort of book. Reading the The Faerie Queene is no light endeavor. I’m not just referring to the fact that the poem is of mammoth proportions, as large and as cumbersome as a high school science textbook. Rather, the biggest challenge reading Spenser lies in achieving basic comprehension. Slowly, painstakingly, the reader is forced to trudge through line after line of archaic Old English, struggling to uncover meaning somewhere within that jumbled heap of peculiarly-spelled words and outdated vocabulary (um, since when does “yode” mean “went”?). Even with a handy vocabulary bank, I still often find it necessary to stop and re-read (and even re-re-read) certain stanzas just to figure out what the heck is going on.

In this sense, The Faerie Queene, although undeniably eloquent, doesn’t exactly engage or immerse the reader as much as, say, Harry Potter would. In my opinion, reading Spenser feels more like piecing together a puzzle or solving a math problem than anything else; I spend too much time fumbling over the language to become fully engrossed in the storyline. But this could be because I am a decidedly right-brained individual who cowers at the idea of basic math computation. Discerning codes and patterns was always my demise on the Math portion of the SAT. Sudoku? No thank you.

On the other hand, someone like an ITS programmer—someone who is science-oriented and familiar with the complex language of computer processing—might gladly accept the challenge of decoding the bewildering, quirky language of The Faerie Queene. Aided with a math and science background, such a person would be more adept at picking up on the subtle nuances and patterns of Old English than a math wimp like me. Surely, if you are able to read binary code, decoding Spenser will be a breeze.

So, Professor Hall, perhaps you could be persuaded to take pity on a math-and-puzzle-challenged soul and make another one your impressive educational YouTube videos, this time entitled “Spenser for Dummies.”

-Anna Dickens

Walking a Mile in a Gamer’s Shoes

In high school, I frequently bemoaned what I perceived to be the lack of suitable guys in my grade. My mom, thinking I was simply being too picky, always tried to reason with me: “Anna, you’re telling me there’s not a single boy you’re interested in?” she would ask dubiously.

“No, Mom!” I protested. “I mean, come on—all they ever do is play video games!”

Video games. I would spit out this word contemptuously, as though playing video games was a vile, perverse hobby and the mere fact that the boys in my grade took interest in such a hobby provided sufficient grounds to banish them into the category of “weird” or “not cool.” But let’s face it—the label “gamer” doesn’t exactly carry the most flattering connotations in our culture. Most often, it conjures an image of an overweight, unemployed and un-groomed male, his face ghostly pale from never surfacing from the recesses of his parent’s darkened basement, muttering curses left and right as he frantically jostles a video game control.

Flash forward to my freshman year of college. I find myself in a first-year writing seminar entitled “Worlds of Wordcraft,” and suddenly, irrevocably, I’m eating, sleeping, and dreaming video games. For the first time in ages, I am dabbling in the world of video games again. I say “dabble,” because I haven’t yet found myself so engrossed in the act of gaming as to render a noticeable effect on my everyday life. It’s not that I didn’t find LOTRO interesting or engrossing. Rather, I just don’t think I’ve been endowed with the skills necessary of a true “gamer”—I’m always fumbling over the controls, bewilderingly trying to figure out where in the name of Gandalf I’m supposed to be going, or panicking when faced with the prospect of attack. The sad fact of the matter is: I don’t got game.

However, as a result of my (rather pathetic) gaming endeavors, I have emerged from this semester with a more nuanced appreciation for the art (yes, I said “art”) of video games. What I used to view as an immature, contemptible hobby that enabled future serial killers to blow things up to their hearts’ content, I now see as the product of careful design decisions and attention to detail, as a seamless integration of art, literature, music, and technology. LOTRO, for example, juxtaposes brilliantly-crafted graphics with an engaging narrative to breathe life into Tolkien’s vision of Middle Earth. Now that I’m finally able to step back and admire these small yet crucial details with more of a discriminating eye, it’s hard for me to go back to viewing video games as a childish activity devoid of redeeming qualities. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here: don’t expect me to suddenly turn into a video game zealot. On any given day, when seeking a diversion from the daily grind, I’d much rather prefer to go on a run or read a book than play LOTRO. But I have arrived at a deeper understanding of something I used to rashly dismiss as frivolous and meaningless.

Once again, the old adage proves true: “Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes.” Well, this semester I’ve walked a mile in the shoes of a gamer, and after having done so, I can now see that I was perhaps…a bit harsh on my video-game playing peers in high school. Ok, so they opted to play Fifa rather than attend the sophomore-year Homecoming dance? Eh, more power to them. Everyone knows high school dances aren’t that great, anyway.

–Anna Dickens

The Wimpy Gamer’s Response to Video Games (Narrative vs. Combat)

Growing up with an older brother, I was fated to experience firsthand one of the most disturbing cultural phenomena of our time: The “Halo Party.”

Whenever I heard a series of loud, barbaric shouts emanating up from the basement, I could immediately infer what was going on down there and knew that it was in my best interest to stay away at all costs. There were a few hapless occasions, however, when necessity required me to venture into the basement’s uncertain depths, straight into the war zone itself.

On these occasions, as soon as I creaked open the basement door, a sharp, pungent stench—cheap cologne mingled with body odor—would immediately clog my nostrils. Silently, warily, I would tiptoe down the stairs, plunging ever deeper into darkness.

When I reached the bottom of the stairs, the image before me was like a sort of sick, twisted camping trip. Huddled around the glow of the television screen in a semicircle, my older brother and several of his friends were frantically jostling their video game controls, engaged in an intense game of Halo™. Judging from their sweat-stained shirts, their gaming efforts must have been causing them a great deal of exertion. Whenever a character died, they would emit inhuman, animal yells of frustration. Quickly, trying to remain unnoticed, I grabbed whatever it was I needed from the basement and clambered back upstairs, into safety.

I probably wasn’t the only little sister in America forced to endure the infamous testosterone-fest known as the Halo Party. After all, the game was—and still is—tremendously popular, not just among sweaty preteen boys, but also among a more sophisticated adult crowd (my high school German teacher, a self-proclaimed gamer, was conveniently “sick” on the day Halo 3 was released. Hmmm…).

It makes sense why Halo has amassed such a devoted following.  To be sure, the game boasts impressive graphics and a fairly engrossing narrative; but, as Matt Thumser so aptly put it, people don’t play Halo to admire the beautifully-rendered trees or to ponder the avant-garde extraterrestrial architecture. Rather, Halo’s biggest allure is that it is thrilling, suspenseful. The epitome of a perfect first-person shooter game, it provides harrowing and challenging objectives for the player to conquer. Gunning down machines, slaughtering aliens, operating heavy artillery—indeed, Halo beckons to the trigger-happy masses itching to blow things up. It is also highly competitive, which is why it lends itself so well to large-group social gatherings.

Perhaps I might mention that I am not the biggest game enthusiast the world has ever seen. In fact, aside from dabbling (rather unsuccessfully, might I add) with LOTRO, my knowledge of video games is mainly confined to older, outdated breeds dating back to the N-64 days—games such as Zelda, Mario Kart, and Super Mash Bros. In my novice opinion, however, I prefer video games that craft a rich, vivid story. This could be because I am a nervous sort of gamer, becoming all jumpy and panicky whenever I am faced with the prospect of attack, so I find it infinitely more enjoyable to stroll around, admiring the scenery, than to subject my poor avatar to humiliation. But I do think that a meaningful, engrossing storyline—especially when coupled with a series of interactive objectives—goes a long way towards immersing the gamer.

This is what makes LOTRO the ideal game: it seamlessly incorporates both of these aspects to form one comprehensive, all-encompassing video game. With its abundance of quests and battles, it would undoubtedly appeal to the legion of Halo enthusiasts, who seek the thrill of challenging combat; but it also provides an intricate, magical world and a captivating storyline to intrigue the less-competitive, more story-based breed of gamers. For someone who—to put it bluntly—sucks at video games, LOTRO offers more than pure combat to keep me engaged. Perhaps in Halo I couldn’t stop to muse at the beautiful landscape without being annihilated by a friendly alien; but in LOTRO, at least, I can take a few moments and explore Tolkien’s fantastical realm.

Anna Dickens

Poor Impulse Control: Gender Relations in “Snow Crash”

Most of the time, Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash is a playful, high-speed romp through his new-age universe, complete with motorcycle chases and robotized dogs and samurai sword fights. But Snow Crash is not all fun and games. Frivolity aside, the novel is also a biting indictment of modern society, a society fraught with skewed, corrupt social processes.

With tongue-in-cheek sarcasm as sharp as Raven’s glass-bladed knife, Stephenson examines modern America’s corroded patterns of gender relations. Increasingly, Stephenson suggests, women are treated like commodities but fail to do anything to stop it. Sex is most often a hasty, casual occurrence. These are only a few of the crucial flaws of gender relations that Stephenson pokes at, prods, and probes throughout the course of the novel, and he does so primarily through the character of Y.T.

I like YT. She’s got spunk, pizzazz. She’s shrewd and brazen enough to defy the cookie-cutter ideals of conformity her “Burbclave” upbringing has pounded into her brain. Even better, she doesn’t succumb to that exhausting “damsel in distress” persona, instead slipping comfortably into the role of unstoppable superwoman, outwitting villains left and right and effortlessly slipping from the clutches of men twice her size.

However, Y.T.’s casual, hasty approach to sexual relations stands in stark contrast to her strong and independent image. For example, wherever Y.T.’s adventures take her, she is always slightly conscious of being leered at by older men—the “perverts,” as she sometimes calls them—but is seemingly unnerved by this attention. If anything, she almost revels in it, exploits her sexuality to her advantage. In fact, when the brain-washed, babbling, robotic minions who infest Rife’s ship don’t give her lecherous-uncle looks, she notes this lack of attention with surprise—disappointment, almost.

And then, of course, there’s that whole relationship thing with Raven.

Suffice to say, Y.T.’s good judgment doesn’t exactly shine through in this episode. While aboard the Enterprise, a massive man approaches Y.T. with a lewd, lopsided grin on his face, reeking of fish and stale beer, the words “poor impulsive control” plastered on his forehead (literally).  Out of pure infatuation—enamored by his power and strength, perhaps—Y.T. allows this strange, older man to take advantage of her. Not just any man, mind you: the man. We’re talking about Raven, the homicidal, nuclear-weapon-wielding psychopath.

And then, as if matters couldn’t get any worse, Y.T. realizes after the fact that she neglected to use birth control. Whoopsie.

After this episode, you’re tempted to wag your finger at Y.T. and say, “Come on! You know better than that!”. But at the same time, it is important to remember that Y.T. is a product of her society, and as such she is infected with its beliefs and customs. When examined from this perspective, Y.T.’s behavior isn’t too outlandish. After all, she comes from a place whorehouses abound on every street corner and arcade games beckon challengers to “strike the mammory gland!” for just a quarter. Society definitely carries some of the blame, to be sure.

Through the character of Y.T., Stephenson comments on the disintegrating sexual relations of America, in which meaningful, long-term commitments have given way to lustful, careless “one night stands.” Or, it could also be a comment on rising pregnancy rates in America due to a lack of information about birth control. Either way, Stephenson’s ideas regarding gender relations eerily anticipate the future hip-hop era, which has drastically exploited women and blurred the distinction between racy and downright pornographic.

When it comes down to it, this is what I admire most about Snow Crash: while it does offer some meaningful social commentary about issues ranging from race to gender relations, it also doesn’t take itself too seriously. Stephenson manages to skewer serious societal flaws in a hilarious manner, such that the pages are never dripping with pessimism. But let’s face it. How seriously could the novel possibly take itself when the protagonist is a sword-wielding, pizza-delivering hacker named “Hiro Protagonist”?

Anna Dickens

Technology: Friend or Foe?

Anna Dickens

So, you may be wondering why the subject of my blog today is slightly…off topic. Trust me: in a perfect world I’d be discussing the various perils and delights of LOTRO just like everyone else. But of course, the world isn’t perfect, and neither, to make a gross understatement, is technology.

As one of the hapless few Mac users in my English 115F class, I was fated to spend several hours in a dark room of Vanderbilt’s Information Technology Services building, having software installed that would outfit my Mac with all the goodies of Microsoft and thereby allow me to access LOTRO. I won’t bore you with details, but let’s just say the installation process was horribly painstaking, time-consuming, and frustrating.

And that, my friends, to make a long story short, is why I have yet to hone my gaming skills (or lack thereof) and quest through Middle Earth.

The bottom line is: sometimes, technology sucks.

Take Facebook, for example. My relationship with this website is love-hate, at best. To completely dismiss Facebook as frivolous and stupid would be hypocritical on my part; after all, I’m the girl who, every Sunday morning, dutifully posts a photo album documenting the weekend’s festivities. Although I usually scorn busybodies, I am ashamed to admit that I consider Facebook my primary informant for weekly gossip, utilizing it to see who’s-dating-who and who’s-doing-what and OMG-what-is-she-doing-in-that-picture??? I also owe it to Facebook for enabling me to handpick my current freshman-year roommate, a very agreeable arrangement that probably wouldn’t have transpired had I opted for the random roommate search. So yes, Facebook does offer an entertaining diversion, a fast and convenient way to network with friends, and a beneficial means of communication.

But then there are times when Facebook is the bane of my existence. Consider this scenario: 12:00 pm, Wednesday night. Slumped tiredly over the keyboard, Sugar-Free Red Bull by my side, I struggle to punch out the last few lines of an English paper. The computer mouse, as though possessed of its own will, keeps sneaking over to the Internet browser, drawn by the irresistible urge to log on Facebook and mindlessly click through people’s pictures. I shouldn’t, I think to myself. But at the same time…Oedipus can wait. I’ll only log on for five minutes. Five minutes turns to ten minutes, which turns to twenty…and before you know it, I’ve wasted the better part of an hour doing absolutely nothing. Let’s just say Facebook is not one for spawning productivity.

Another technology phenomenon that I regard with ambivalence is the Kindle. For voracious readers who devour a book a day, investing in one of these devices is sound and financially-incentive, to be sure. Personally, though, I’m too “old-school” to bring myself to purchase a Kindle. When it comes to reading, I am somewhat of a purist, much preferring to hold a real book in my hand rather than reading the text off of a screen. When reading Gone with the Wind, for example, I used my grandmother’s copy, leftover from when she was a young girl. I loved reading from this book because it had character—the yellowed, frayed pages that omitted a deep musky stench when you turned them; the dusty, weatherworn cover; the elegant old-fashioned print. A beautifully-crafted, antique book, in my opinion, lends itself to a much more nostalgic, emotional reading experience than an impersonal electronic device ever could.

Much of the magic of books, I think, is derived from the physical book itself, from its feel and smell and look. The same can be said of newspapers. I enjoy utilizing the internet for news updates as much as the next person, but the fact that print newspapers are increasingly becoming a dying breed is troubling to someone who values a tangible reading experience. To replace books and newspapers completely with technology would be a crime, in my opinion.

Don’t get me wrong: I am in no way condemning technology. Technology is an undeniably invaluable asset of our world; I couldn’t even begin to list the many ways in which it has enriched my life personally. As much as I hemmed and hawed about my little LOTRO mishap, I would much rather endure the occasional technology woes than forfeit my computer altogether (no more Facebook! Gasp!). But a certain point exists, I believe, at which our world can become too saturated in technology. Am I speaking of an ominous, bleak dystopia looming on the horizon, similar to the one Huxley portrayed in Brave New World? Of course not. But I do think that some elements of our existence are better left untouched by the mark of technology.