Monthly Archives: July 2011

Outed

Hi. My name is Rhonda. I’m forty-one years old, and I make Sims 2 machinima.

There. I said it. In public. And you know what? The sky didn’t fall. My family didn’t disown me and my dog is still sitting in my lap. My IQ level didn’t drop and by golly, I’m still an adult.

Why did I say all that? Because over the past few months, I’ve run into several people just like me, who appreciate the potential of machinima and enjoy creating it, yet keep their guilty pleasure a secret because they’re “too old” by conventional gaming standards. These people include teachers, managers, meat cutters, DJs, graphic and interior designers, men, women, and folks with all sorts of temperaments and backgrounds. Like me, they’ve hidden their interests from real-life friends and their ages from the machinima community. We’re oddballs in both worlds, yet the lure of creative storytelling is much stronger than our embarrassment.

In my everyday world, the subject of machinima rarely comes up. But when it does, I feel like I’m being “outed” every time I admit being involved with it. The facial expressions people suddenly develop are priceless. Most are polite, in a “let’s don’t upset the crazy person” kind of way. Some are outright detractors and one or two have actually snickered out loud.

I understand the skepticism. Really, I do. Machinima does seem like a childish and pointless time waster—at first glance. I won’t defend its merits in this post or explain all the reasons I love it. But I will throw the scoffers a bone: machinima is not for everyone.

Neither is sushi.

The primary audience for machinima is young females between the ages of twelve and twenty. Therefore it stands to reason that any adult who dabbles in this hobby must have serious age regression issues. Right?

Let’s revisit the first sentence of the above paragraph: “The primary audience […] is young females between the ages of twelve and twenty.” Okay—who did I just describe? None other than the very people who made “Twilight” a worldwide phenomenon and Stephanie Meyer a household name.

Yet no one accuses Stephanie Meyer of having regression issues. She’s an author—a storyteller—and everyone knows that reaching today’s generation of kids is a noble and commendable achievement, even if we have to use vampires and werewolves to do it.

If I sound condescending toward Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series, I certainly don’t intend it that way. My point is that authors of children’s books and young adult (YA) literature never come under fire for being childish themselves no matter what characters or tactics they use. So why is machinima such a point of ridicule by so many? Isn’t it just an alternate form of storytelling, one that the audience can actually participate in themselves? What’s so “childish” about creating entertainment that children can enjoy? Not to mention the fact that well-done machinimas appeal to all ages, not just kids.

I have a feeling that machinima-esque productions will become more and more prevalent in the entertainment and advertising fields. How many young machinima directors of today will be tomorrow’s Steven Spielbergs? And how many will go on, using the storytelling skills they learned by making countless crappy machinimas, to write enduring literary classics and produce C-gen or even live action movies our grandkids will treasure?

So if I have serious regression issues, or if I’m childish for enjoying machinima, then so be it. I’m sure Lewis Carroll (Alice In Wonderland,) Roald Dahl (Willy Wonka), Lyman Frank Baum (Wizard Of Oz), JK Rowling, and of course Stephanie Meyer had to endure some good (and not so good)-natured ribbing, too.

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When meshing goes horribly wrong. . . .

 

All through the process of filming this machinima, I’ve shared with Carol all the goofy stuff that happens on set and with my attempts to create custom content. She’s been after me to make a blooper reel, and that isn’t out of the question. But for now, here are some screen shots that some folks might find entertaining. 🙂

 

So THIS is why Dr. Pixel said to never move the Milkshape object from its original position. . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

uhmm. . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, his mama always said his head wasn't screwed on right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What happens when Windows 7 meets Sims 2. Or, what happens when your crappy video card loses the texture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chorus line, anyone?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dude! Your ass is on fire!

 

If you’re looking for a good book. . . .

I recently had the opportunity to read and review a pre-release novel by a wonderful new author, and I’d be remiss for not sharing it with those of you who might be interested. Below is the review I posted on Goodreads, and trust me when I say I didn’t just say these things about Ann’s book because I like her–I definitely like her, but I like her novel on its own merit, too.  🙂

For you paranormal buffs out there, this isn’t a traditional “ghost story,” but it will keep you up at night. First reading, then thinking about the layers of humanity Ann has painted on a very unique canvas.

Check her out at Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2904199.Ann_Hite

I woke this morning thinking about Nellie Pritchard. Or maybe it was Annie Harbor—since finishing Ghost On Black Mountain, the lines between them have started to blur.

What makes this noteworthy is not my shifting perception, but that the characters of Anne Hite’s novel stayed with me long after I turned the last page. The women of Black Mountain linger in the mind and imagination. And they feel as solid and speak as clearly as any living, three-dimensional person.

For readers who crave sophisticated and enlightening character development, this novel will satisfy. Women like Nellie Pritchard and Rose Gardner tell us more about ourselves than any mirror. What mother couldn’t identify with Josie Clay, who watches helplessly as her daughter makes one foolish choice after another? Even characters some might consider “secondary” demand our full attention, like Shelly Parker, the “seer” of Black Mountain. Shelley is the moral compass of this novel, a backbone of common sense when all the women around her seem bent on self-destruction.

And Hobbs Pritchard—what can be said about him? A narcissist or plain old sociopath? My vote is with the latter. I’ve seen antisocial personality disorder defined in these terms:

People with this disorder
*may exhibit criminal behavior.
*may not work. If they do work, they are frequently absent or may quit suddenly.
*do not consider other people’s wishes, welfare or rights.
*can be manipulative and may lie to gain personal
*pleasure or profit.
*may default on loans, fail to provide child support, or fail to care for their dependents adequately.
*are likely to engage in high risk sexual behavior and substance abuse.
*possess traits such as impulsiveness, failure to plan ahead, aggressiveness, irritability, irresponsibility, and a reckless disregard for their own safety and the safety of others.

The above description fits Hobbs Pritchard. So why would intelligent, strong women like Nellie Pritchard and Rose Gardner fall for him? The answer is simple and well-grounded in science: sociopaths can be extremely attractive, especially to women. Remember Ted Bundy?

Ghost On Black Mountain is so rich in character and culture that I intend to share it with a local professor of English. I live in the heart of Appalachia, on the Virginia side of the Blue Ridge range. Literature about local culture and heritage is of keen interest to readers in this area, and this novel rings true. Each of the five stars that I give it is well-deserved. I will (and already have) recommend this book to friends.

The Hurricane Novelette: “Before Our Time”

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