Bloody Tears of Agony

by Calvin Patimeteeporn

 

Professor Hall:

Imagine you are playing the game Tetris. You’re playing along but you slowly begin to realize that the game is only giving you the awkward (and devastating) “Z” shaped blocks and you can never make a line. No matter how hard you try, the blocks fall down in unwanted patterns, creating tiny spaces that prevent you from your goal. Even though these “Z” blocks have the same number of blocks (4) as the other pieces you need, you are not able to win.

Now retain with this image but add bleeding tears of agony.

This, Professor Hall, is what reading Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser is like:

bleeding

If you think this is bad, you should see me when I read Twilight.

Continuing with my Tetris metaphor, while the number of “blocks” of the “Z” shaped blocks are the same as the others, its the arrangement that throws you completely off. Spenser wrote this epic (epic in its actual definition, rather than the modern slang) in a time where spelling was just as set in stone and mature as Stephanie Meyers’s writing ability. Thus, words he used were spelled completely differently than that of today, resulting in eye-bleeding-worthy confusion. Misspellings and archaic diction both contribute to the verbal pandemonium that ensues when encountered with non-literature savvy people. Much like the scenario in the game above and with Spenser’s work, you can’t win.

 

As well as confusing words, the structure of Spenser’s writing brings grief and frustration as well. Last week in biology, I learned that only 3% of the billions of base pairs in our genome actually code for proteins. This is much like Faerie Queene where basically most of the words used are, for the lack of a better term, junk. There is a small percentage however that actually contribute to story. In Book III Cantos iii, Glauce, the nurse to warrior maiden Britomart, takes said maiden to Merlin to seek help, as Britomart has been struck and sickened by love. Merlin explains to her that she is falling for her destined husband, Arthegall. He could have done so in maybe a few stanzas. However, Spenser decides to switch the characteristics of the wizard Merlin out with that of the Twilight saga, boring and far too long.

Faerie Queene is filled with enough odd spellings to make anyone think they are as illiterate as R. Kelly, and enough unwanted material that Matthew McConnaughey would think he has competition for the next  new romantic comedy movie. So here I warn you Professor Hall, approach Faerie Queene with the caution you would use with a rabid bear. Now if you will excuse me, I feel like this eye bleeding problem has gone out of control.

Did..did he just decapitate someone?

-Calvin Patimeteeporn (Calvirth)

While walking through the Shire in LOTRO, Calvirth is quickly spotted by hostile toads and is immediately attacked. Calvirth grasped his great sword and began to run towards the charging creature. Letting out a battle cry, Calvirth launches himself into battle, only to have all of his actions taken over by the computer. Every attack, ranged and melee, are all automatic. The game takes over combat entirely, leaving the gamer only controlling when he/she wanted to use a special attack. The combat system of LOTRO is completely non-interactive and extremely, for a lack of a better term, boring. Each attack in the game is completely up to a secret formula within the system that calculates the winner and the loser. However, rather than broadcasting that result in an efficient manner, gamers are put through choppy and repetitive animation. When I roam Middle-Earth in LOTRO, I purposefully avoid engaging in battles. Not because I am of a low level (13!) but because I dread the inevitable mundane process that is to follow: you attack, the enemy attacks, you attack, the enemy attacks, someone dies.

What Happens When I Play LOTRO:
LOTRO
Not Pictured: Fun

However, Snow Crash has an entirely new structure. Hiro Protagonist slices and dices people from page to page and Neal Stephenson writes these battles in great detail. Each fight is dynamic and captivating. Though the media of a book is not able to demonstrate animation as well as a game, the power of prose perfectly portrays these events. When reading Snow Crash I found myself completely captivated by the fight scenes. Whether it was Hiro decapitating a greased up guy trying to get on a boat or Raven throwing bamboo spears through people, I was engrossed. Sure, there weren’t pictures or videos displaying these fights but the imagination can take these scenes beyond what artists are able to create (corny!). Imagining Hiro lashing out his blades and dismembering multiple enemies from page to page is certainly an amazing experience, if not horrifying.

Me Reading Snow Crash
SNOW
Not Pictured: A Healthy Childhood

Thus, while a video game has more opportunities to be more compelling than a book, Lord of the Rings Online fails to captivate gamers in combat while Snow Crash does.

Books: 1 Video Games: 0

A New Story

I have never played an online role-playing game, so I was a little confused when I started playing Lord of the Rings online. I didn’t who exactly I was, where I was, and who the people that were running around the map were. I started out as a Hobbit, since that was the race I was most familiar with. When the actual game started, I saw that I was in a small room with a number of other people. I spent about five minutes trying to either leave the room or talk to someone, before I finally figured out I had to talk to the postmaster. I didn’t read what he was saying, because I was anxious to start playing the game. After leaving the post office and meeting Bounder Boffin, I got my first taste of combat. It was mostly just jabbing the mouse button, but it was still fun. I then fought some more spiders, talked to some people, and discovered a town, before getting bored and logging off.

As for my impressions of the story, I didn’t see enough of it to make a judgment, and I did not really see the dialogue because I wanted to see what the game was like.  However, I did like the fact that  you got to make your own character and your own story. If I had been forced to play as Frodo or Sam or any of the other characters in the story, I would have felt I would not be able to make my own choices. With your own character, you can project your own personality and character onto him. Another thing I liked was that I had freedom to walk around and explore the world. I recognized a number of  places from the movies and book, and it was interesting to explore the game’s setting, and I suspect I’ll be able to do quests in a variety of locations on the map.

Overall, I think I’ll like the game. The story will probably get more interesting, the setting is dynamic and diverse, and I have my character just the way I want him: a guardian Hobbit.

– Kashyap Saxena

Sweet, Glorious Australia

by Calvin Patimeteeporn

It had been 3.5 hours of playing and our Risk game was finally coming to a close. My allies had been completely wiped off the board and a previously “neutral” friend sided with my enemy and I was left to defend Asia.

By myself.

I prayed every time I rolled the dice and I  heard my friends’ maniacal laughter grow as my they pushed back my army further and further into Asia. The room was filled with yelling, trash-talking, and laughing at this point and I was loving it, despite the fact that half of my army was slaughtered in less than 4 turns. But soon enough, the sinking feeling set in my stomach as I realized how far my peers have beaten down my army.And then, I saw the solution.

Australia.

Sweet, glorious Australia.

I rushed my army in that direction and succeeded in holding back their armies from there. We reached a stalemate  after another hour of constant fighting and decided to end the constant death that surrounded Australia. While, I did not win the game, I had never had that much fun with a piece of cardboard, plastic figures, and dice. The whole sense of the cliche “warm feelings” as the game progressed (or regressed) was a winning experience in itself.

With console games, while there is still the option of playing with friends (and even some online) it never gives the same feeling. When I played Xbox Live with Halo, I was actually insulted and “face-humped” in the game, which, surprisingly, does not give me the “warm cuddly feeling.” My other experiences with online gaming, including Lord of the Rings: Online resulted in the almost same experience. Being called a “newb” multiple times is not as rewarding as it sounds.

However, this might just be the ravings of an old teenager who lives at the end of the block shaking his cane at youngsters. But I am more inclined toward traditional board games. Sure they don’t have 3D worlds to explore and they don’t have amazing character designs and graphics, but they do have a medium in which my friends and I can project our inner Napoleons.

Even if my Napoleon gets trapped and retreats into Australia.