The Faerie Queene – Kyle’s Cut

by Kyle (Kylan) Osborne

Britomart everyone’s favorite heroine stands 5’6”. Her lean build often makes her appear taller when she is wearing her armor. Her armor is dazzlingly white and is a fearsome sight to behold. In her attempt to seem like a man, Britomart may have overcompensated when she chose a suit of armor with interlocking plates and multiple dangerous looking protrusions. Despite its near sinister construct the armor looks nothing less than commanding and noble when donned by the fearsome Britomart. Her shoulder length black hair is often covered by her deceptive helm, while eyes reveal the many trials she has endured. When it comes to the election there are many arguments. Some could say that she is not content to sit back waiting for things to happen, so she goes out to change her place and realize her future…thus Obama. But others would describe her as a Maverick who longs to show that she won’t be tied down or classified by a group, in this case her gender… thus McCain. In all truth, Britomart would have voted for Ralph Nader. He is the only candidate that she felt she could truly trust. Now you might ask… why could she trust Nader? Since you asked… Britomart is impressed by Nader’s perseverance and loyalty to a cause that he cares for and loves. As she journeys on her quest Britomart would gladly help anyone who is searching and persevering to find the thing that he loves and feels is his destiny. I think if I had to compare Britomart to a contemporary woman I would probably chose Hillary Clinton. I might be way off and misinterpreting the work, but for a historical comparison I would at least have to consider Queen Elizabeth. J

Setting the scene: I am peacefully seated in the highest room of the tallest tower of my castle with a guest. Suddenly (and quite rudely) Britomart bursts into the chamber in full armor brandishing her cute little enchanted spear.

Britomart: AHA! Halt thyselfe where yvo stand. Keep away from the Faer maide.

Lord Kylan: Dang it! Seriously Britomart… again!?! We just went through this two weeks ago!

*scene* I may have forgotten to mention that my companion was actually the daughter of the local grain-seller, who I may or may not have been holding hostage.

Britomart: As the defender of trve loue’s chasitie, my dutie and conscience brought me to this near travestie!

Lord Kylan: Come on… if you just let me get away with it once you won’t have to deal with this every few weeks and…

*Britomart raises her spear*

                Fine take her! But you can’t kill me. I’m a noble and that would stain others’ perception of you.

*Britomart knocks Kylan unconscious with the butt of her spear and escorts the maid home*

I would consider writing more… but this is probably starting to be painful for any who may be reading and this post is starting to look massive!

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Source of Friends and Distraction

By Kyle Osborne

While gaming has always been an important part of both my life and my social interactions, this semester it has served as a way of meeting new people in the real world. When I tell people about the seminar I’m taking, it is surprising how many people either recognize or have played Lord of the Rings Online. Just yesterday I met someone who not only plays LoTRO, but has an active account on the Gladden server. He instantly began sharing some of his gaming stories and advice. As I got to know him he became a good friend and one more person I know on the Vanderbilt campus. The common online experience has also allowed for the entire class to converse. It’s easy to become friends when you share a set of experiences.

 Lotro has also given me  an engaging way to pass unfilled time. When I have a free night or I am bored I can just log on to Lotro for an hour or two. On the other side of this argument I also have used lotro as an escape from school work. While trying to avoid a paper or test I find myself gravitating toward Lotro as a means of procrastination. How could I not, when this game can be considered homework. While Lotro has given me a way to occupy myself, it has also provided a way of avoiding some of my studies.

The Double-edged Sword

By Kyle Osborne

The ongoing feud for the ownership of virtual gamespaces cannot be solved with a simple decision.  Both sides hold power and are looking for the other to yield. Some aspects of the debate show that it might be best if players held more control than they currently have. But when it comes to the protection of the narrative of an MMO I find it imperative that the corporations retain control of their product.

While the world could not exist without players, these same players often violate the integrity of the narrative. Everything from gold farming and spamming to the use of offensive and demeaning language destroys the narrative experience for the other players. With the corporation in  a position of control, these in-game nuisances can be eliminated or at least dealt with.

But this power is a double-edged sword. While players fear the exploitation of a company’s tyrannical power, the company equally fears the results from these abuses of power. When a company runs its game in a way that is contrary to the will of its players, the players leave and the game and the game goes under. So if I am controlling the game, my goal is to both keep the game running smoothly (both mechanics and narrative) as well as to keep my consumers (source of profit) happy. As a right-minded corporate tycoon, I want to give the people what they want to keep them as customers.

When all is said and done, it is best for the corporations to retain control in order to keep their narrative running smoothly and to halt the unnecessarily destructive antics of some users, but through their participation or lack thereof the users can dictate how they want the game to run.

Another Elf Bio.

by Kyle Osborne

Here lies a brief account of Deuil sole survivor of The Brothers Five. Also known as my avatar in The Lord of the Rings Online:

One of five brothers, Deuil is an ancient elf born in the early days of Middle Earth.  In ages long past Deuil was known, along with his siblings, for his involvement in The Brothers Five. These five brothers were a powerful force and were well known in the early days of Middle Earth. In the defeat at first battle of Beleriand, Deuil witnessed the slaying of his four brothers, and the destruction of The Brothers Five. While his loss was great, Deuil survived to see the end of Morgoth’s reign.

After the loss of his brothers, Deuil laid down his bow and began to take an interest in the finer aspects of life. As the age passed Deuil developed a strong love for the wearing and crafting of jewelry as well a small interest in the preparation of foods.  While this time of artistic peace calmed Deuil’s spirit, he would later find purpose again in battle.

As war mounted against the Dark Lord Sauron, Deuil found need to march into battle once again. He fought valiantly in the battle of the last alliance, reminding all of his brotherhood’s prior accomplishments.  Even with the defeat of Sauron, Deuil knew that as long as the one ring was allowed to persist, war would come to Middle Earth. But as with all elves who share a love for peace, these thoughts faded as he returned to his simple pleasures.

Now as Deuil sees the events unfolding in Middle Earth just as they did in each previous age. He has makes his decision, it is once again time to loose his bow against the fires of Mordor and the tower of Angband.

Tolkien was a RACIST!!!

By – Kyle Osborne

I knew it would come to this. I knew at some point this issue would be forced out into the open, and I’m going to tell you the truth. I’m not going to play it safe or pull any punches. In the land of LoTRO, all races are not equal. I know it’s appalling and I sound like a racist, but please bear with me.

                It’s just the truth, a simple matter of fact, not every (or any) young hobbit can fulfill his dream to become the next great Lore-Master. Before you tell me that I’m putting the hobbits down and stifling their dreams, let’s analyze the source, Tolkien’s works. Where in The Fellowship of the Ring does Tolkien comment that hobbits share a love for the history of Middle Earth? If you can find it let me know. From what I read, hobbits rarely care much for their own lore, hate to leave the shire, and care nothing for the history of other races. In their agrarian society this knowledge holds little value. From what Tolkien has written it seems unlikely that a hobbit, or a Dwarf for that matter, would ever consider being a Lore-Master. To save face with any hobbit or dwarf out there I will say that I find the races with more limited class choices to be the most interesting around; men and elves can be pretty boring at times.

                Tolkien was intent on creating an interactive and living world, filled with various cultures and a rich social structure between races. Given the fact that they were imitating a master, the game designers of LoTRO did a decent job. As necessary the various free peoples of Middle earth, work together against their common enemies, but thankfully the designers didn’t stop with only these basics. Evidenced as early as the Epic Prologue, there is a tension between the dwarves and the elves that was ever present in the novels. They are quick to consider blaming each other when an elven envoy is kidnapped, even though neither party was to blame. As in the books, the rangers of the north are looked down upon or spoken ill of by others. Their secrecy and isolation makes them suspect for conspiracy. In the game the rangers have their encampment away from others in the North Downs. These are only a couple of examples of the complex social structure of Middle Earth, which was graciously included in LoTRO.

                Whether or not they suggest racism, these limitations, characteristics and interactions of the different races of LoTRO help to draw the gamer into the plot and the mechanics of the game. I am willing to admit that when it comes to the representations of Middle Earth, I am a racist. How about you?

Where are the Drunken Hobbits?

By – Kyle Osborne

Maybe it is appropriate that the inn and pub in the Shire is named The Green Dragon.  Dragons in and outside of Tolkien’s world are often represented in different ways.  In a similar fashion, I felt that the Green Dragon was treated differently across the three forms of media used to portray The Fellowship of the Ring.  

                The movie version of The Green Dragon is probably the most well remembered of all of the representations. A fun and invigorating scene full of laughter, ale, and tipsy hobbits. It all starts with a great drinking song by two of my favorite hobbits and manages to keep this light mood throughout the scene. Even as the conversation turns to darker topics the characters treat it lightly and manage to throw in some hobbit wisdom. The Green Dragon catches your attention and holds it as tales of strange things and Sam’s possible love interest are introduced. Although this portrayal is a lot of fun, it draws a stark contrast to The Green Dragon in the novel and game.

                The novel treats this conversation in a more somber and serious manner. Sam, who is the focus of this passage, has a conversation concerning the “strange happenings” around the Shire. While the argument itself is not necessarily dark, the passage seems dark. First of all there weren’t any dancing hobbits, but the reader also knows that foul things are afoot in Middle Earth and can’t help worrying as these hobbits ignore sign of danger. Sam’s demeanor also plays a large role in the mood of the passage. Sam is contemplative and quiet after his discussion, which also seems to dampen any of the drinking song feeling that might have been present in the passage.

                While the novel’s portrayal is dark, the game’s is boring. All of the life and vitality that is present in the movie was sucked out for the game. I understand that you can’t have a whole house of hammered hobbits, but they can at least be moving around. Not only are the NPC’s uninteresting, there are also very few of them. Instead of the fun and engaging setting of the movie, I walk into the lifeless area in the game and feel sad. The way the inn is presented in the game, it fails to draw me in or make me want to see it again. In a sad, but ironic realization, I found that the Forsaken inn is much livelier than the Green Dragon. At the Forsaken Inn at least I can sit around and listen to the sarcastic waitress tell customers to get their own drinks or speak with many of the people who inhabit the space.

                In these completely different portrayals of the same place, it was interesting to see how the different media caught or failed to catch the interest of the audience.

                Honestly, I just wanted to be able to walk into the Green Dragon and see drunken hobbits dancing.

Apples to Oranges

– Kyle Osborne

 

While comparison of characters is a common exercise in the English classroom, I found my attempts to compare King of Kong to LoTR quite strange. Honestly, I can’t say that I’ve ever compared real world arcade titans to fictional fantasy characters. I found it strange to compare two things that I had considered so different. Of course after the initial shock of comparing a sword to a joystick and the dark lord Sauron to a digital ape, I found that some undeniable similarities show up in the characters of these two seemingly opposite works of seemingly opposite media.

As I thought and analyzed (more like pondered as I went to sleep), I realized that Billy was tough to find a suitable companion for comparison. Maybe if I had really disliked Billy I could have easily said that Billy was like Sauron, because he was the champ, he had wide influence, and HE’S EVIL! Unfortunately, I didn’t have that point of view so my task became more difficult. I started looking for a character who I believed to be good, but possibly miss-represented or overly criticized. I landed on Boromir. Yeah, he tried to take the ring from Frodo, but he was a strong and noble character who was corrupted by a desire to protect his people. Wasn’t the ring supposed to corrupt people anyway? So, he couldn’t help it. Being forced into something evil doesn’t make you evil does it? It’s similar to Billy’s predicament. Since he is the rival of the movie’s main character, he is presented as manipulative, cruel, and unfair, whether or not it is the truth. Although Boromir isn’t a perfect match for Billy’s character, I feel that they were both presented in a similarly negative fashion, which causes them to be interpreted by an audience in similar manners.

Steve, on the other hand, I was able to immediately place. It seemed that everything about him pointed to Faramir. Maybe that’s cheating, but I can’t help it. Steve is quiet and almost refuses to stand up for himself. Faramir endures endless abuse from his father for not being like his brother, and both Faramir and Steve suffer from an inferiority complex that pushes them to prove that they are the best and worthy of those around them. These shared characteristics make these characters almost painful to watch as each tries to prove himself on his own field of battle.