Monday, February 1, 2016

Life Lessons from the Codex: Astartes


picture courtesy of
Life is hard. But life in the Grim, Dark Future of the 41st Millennium, is a little harder. So let us lend our ears and listen in on the wisdom of the Space Marines.

(Read in your best Capt. Titus impression)


{Transmission Incoming.}

[The Brother-Librarian regarding Terran looks. Preparing His Emperor's Chapter for invasion of Ulsar IV - 0172545.M40]

"Brothers! We stand here at the threshold of yet another chance at glory! Beyond the portal of this gunship lies another enemy of Mankind, and therefore an enemy of OURS!

Look upon your superiors, Brother-Initiates! The scars they carry are from the hells of a thousand battle fields upon a thousand worlds. But do they hang their heads in shame? No. For the marks they carry endow them with the experience of those failures, so they may serve the Emperor even finer!

Look upon the oldest of us, young Battle-Brothers, and see the deep lines drawn into their features. Do they pine for their lost youth? No. For the weight of their wisdom burdens those features so, and wisdom is the greatest power of all. And power is with what we serve Him.

In the world of humanity, our flesh is our blessing and yet our curse! It is most coveted and yet most abundant. It's injury is our greatest weakness. Constant perfection of the flesh taints the minds of the weak with illusion of self-aggrandizement. But the Marine is not led astray by such trivialities, for His word is our action.

My Brothers, I order you to look upon your humanity not just as shape, but as symbol! A symbol which binds us together against the common foe: 

The Mutant. 

[*Brother Marines begin to growl under their breaths.*]

The Alien.

The Heretic.


[*A seething silence of hate*]

So the next time you gaze into that mirror, Brothers, look upon the scars which line your image with pride. For we are better for our failures!

The next time you consider that which you have lost, remember that which you have gained. Your lost youth is but the toll paid for the ever expanding power of our wisdom. Celebrate what remains of your flesh through service to Him!

And whether we face our mortality on this or in a thousand-thousand sols, we shall face it with the Word of the Emperor on our lips and Pride in our hearts!


[*Marines erupt into a battle-cry. Landing Zone Reached*]

{Transmission Out.}


A fan written Codex entry  by me. If you like my writing style let me know!


Space Marines, Codex: Astartes, and Warhammer 40K all © Copyright Games Workshop Limited 2016

Friday, January 15, 2016

A Thoughtful Analysis on Media Narrative: Roger Rabbit

Yo-Ho, internet!

As recompense for my non-existent blog for the last, uh, forever, I wanted to post TWO things in one day. Yes I know, it more than makes up for everything.

I recently took a mass media class at my local college. Kind of a snoozer. You'd think they'd be able to make an interesting curriculum out of ideas in t.v., movies, comic books, etc, right?

So could I do better? 

Luckily, my teacher set out to make me look good by giving us this assignment. The instructions were to create an assignment that could be used in the class. Ingenious use of indentured labor, I must say.

So I took a stab at not only creating the assignment, but completing an example paper that might result from it. I posted it up for you to consider. I figured this sort of relates to what we do here. Ya know, figuring out why we do stuff n junk and how it's like, sweet. 
(Real answer: sitting as an empty blog ><)


- MKG Out.

PS- Bonus points to anyone who replies with the assignment! Or you know, reads it....

Create & complete your own mass media assignment.

My assignment is entitled, “Message Effects Embedded in Narrative Media.” Students are to select one piece of mass media which is narrative driven or tells a story. After watching, reading, or maybe even playing it, the student then has to conduct an analysis of the piece of media.

I received the inspiration for this assignment from the content in chapter 2 of the textbook, “Mass Communications Effects: How Society and Media Interact.” Specifically the section of message effects. I find the psychological influence of media on the masses very interesting. Especially cognitive and attitudinal effects that alter the behavior of the audience. My assignment challenges students to put several ideas from the chapter to the test. Students will be required to analyze the plot, identifying the themes and ideas of the story and how they might affect a receptive audience. Afterwards, student should have a stronger sense of media literacy and be able to identify messages inside of popular narrative.

This would be an example of the instructions to the class:

Message Effects Embedded in Narrative Media

Select a piece of your favorite narrative media. Your selection should tell a complete story. Remember a story can be told in many ways, feel free to select an episode of your favorite tv show, a segment of an interesting video game or movie, even a comic book. View your selected media to completion and afterwards answer the following questions. Try to dedicate about 2-3 paragraphs to each idea, your plot synopsis will probably need to be longer.

Questions to answer:

  • Summarize the plot of your selected media.
    • What happened? Who are the main characters? Who are we, as the audience, supposed to identify with?

  • Themes and Ideas
    • We learned in Chapter 2 that a message can often carry an agenda, like in the case of propaganda. Is there an underlying theme to the narrative of this media? If there was a message attached to this story, what do you think it was? What are we as the audience supposed to walk away with, if not?

  • Social Context
    • Do you think the message of your story carries any ideas of sexism, racism, nationalism, etc.? Does the narrative attempt to address a social issue in a new or symbolic way?

  • Public Effect
    • Imagine someone was to take the message of your selected media literally. Perhaps they equate Russian soldiers being the villains in a movie as Russia the country being bad in the real world? Think of how your selected work might affect the worldview of a person like this. Describe why your selected story would be positive or negative to this effect.

Use this opportunity to expand your awareness of media’s affect on you. Has your selected media contained ideas that you never stopped to consider? Refer to the text whenever you have made a relative link to ideas discussed in chapter 2. Your answers should be about 2 - 4 pages in length.

Your answers should be arranged as one comprehensive idea. This could be an essay, if you wish, or arranged in a question/answer format. Either way, have your answers talk back into each other, maybe some social context enriched the theme for you that much more?

(Examples would follow for the student’s clarity and submission instructions.)

Here is an example of the completed version of the assignment:

Message Effects Embedded in Narrative Media

Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Movie (1988)

For my assignment I selected the film, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? The movie is a murder mystery comedy which pays homage to classic film noir like Chinatown (1974). 

The film stars Bob Hoskins as Eddie Valiant, a down on his luck private eye that becomes embroiled in a larger plot after he is hired by the owner of a cartoon studio, R.K. Maroon. Maroon. is upset that his picture is behind schedule because his literal cartoon-star, Roger Rabbit (voiced by Charles Fleischer), has been worried if his wife, cartoon bombshell Jessica Rabbit (voiced by Kathleen Turner), is being faithful to him.

Eddie delivers some revealing pictures of Jessica playing “patty cakes” with the owner of ToonTown and owner of the Acme gag company, Marvin Acme. When Acme is later found dead, Roger becomes the prime suspect. 

Don't Google "Jessica Patty Cakes"

Eddie investigates the crime scene, where Acme has been murdered by having a safe dropped on his head. Here he meets Judge Doom (played by Christopher Lloyd), an overzealous lawman with jurisdiction over ToonTown and his gang of cartoon weasels. 

Doom shows he has no respect for cartoon life or due process by demonstrating the use of a substance he has discovered, the Dip. In reality, it is just powerful paint thinner. Doom summarily executes a cartoon shoe that he finds nearby, exclaiming the Dip is,  “the only thing that can kill a toon!”

Look at its, "I'm getting murdered" eyes.

Returning to his office, Eddie is met by another cartoon, Baby Herman. Herman tells Eddie he believes Roger is being set up. Acme owned ToonTown and promised to leave it in his will to the cartoons if something happened to him, although no one has ever seen it.  Entering his office, Eddie finds Roger has been hiding there. He begs Eddie for his help. Eddie helps Roger hide by keeping him in a secret room at the restaurant of a friend.

Eddie puts himself at risk many times for Roger, constantly narrowly avoiding Doom and his obviously murderous henchmen. This contrasts with Eddie’s general attitude toward Roger, and cartoons in general, who he treats with disregard. We come to learn Eddie’s brother had also been murdered by a cartoon during a job in ToonTown years ago. Eddie has been an alcoholic ever since.

Eddie keeps his brother's desk just as he left it. This shot sums up Eddie's pain and is what makes movies special.

We see that Eddie talking to Roger helps him process this grief. Eventually, Eddie believes he has found a connection between the murder and the cartoon studio. A large public transportation (Cloverleaf) company bought the property for the failing studio, but needed the property to ToonTown, as well. Eddie forces a meeting with Maroon, lying that he has Acme’s will. Maroon admits to Eddie that Acme was murdered. Before Eddie can discover by who, Maroon is shot by an unknown gunman.

Looking out a nearby window and seeing Jessica running, Eddie chases her to her car, where she escapes into ToonTown. Eddie follows her through the crazy town, eventually cornering her in an alley where she draws a gun on him. Firing, Jessica hits the unknown gunman who had shot Maroon before he can kill Eddie. We find out that it was Judge Doom. As Eddie and Jessica try to give chase, Doom and his weasels ambush and capture them.

Doom ties up Eddie and Jessica, and reveals the truth. He had killed Marvin Acme after he refused to sell his property in ToonTown to the Cloverleaf Company with R.K. Maroon. Cloverleaf was planning on building a new superhighway through the area and add many expensive tolls to it. Doom prepares to kill them while using a custom vehicle that would fire thousands of gallons of pressurized Dip to destroy ToonTown.

Some quick thinking by Eddie and a last minute arrival by Roger manage to thwart Judge Doom. We find out in the end that he was in reality a cartoon himself all along, and he had been the one who kill Eddie’s brother. The will to ToonTown is discovered and everyone lives happily ever after.

I imagine the universe of Super Smash Brothers probably started this way too...

Why We Play: Focus


Happy New Year all!

Anyone else think it's funny that the piece entitled "Focus" comes out like 2 years later? Just me?

These past 5 months, much like all my time since getting out of the military, has been a long series of chances, changes, and challenges. I switch jobs often to make room for my school schedule, and it has been quite the waltz transitioning back and forth between that and working full time. 

But I have now circled the wagons for a time and will continue working on all the crap I like to make which means more posts!

So if nothing else, it gave everyone ample time to digest the previous articles! :D 

So worry not, dear readers! (reader? ...anyone?)  The show, it must goes on!


Thursday, June 18, 2015

San Andreas

There's no better way to rot your brain for 30 minutes than a good Donek...


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Why We Play: Intro

Why We Play

-A series on the value of play in healthy development.-

Ahoy ahoy Internet, MKG here. I just got back from California, I had a long job training with Digital Media Academy, a technology camp for kids based all over nationwide. I'm not blowing smoke when  I say it's one of the most positive environments I've ever been in professionally. I highly recommend them.


Anywho, all that training getting to know kids made me start thinking of a good topic for today's post. I thought a good place to start would be at, well, the beginning.

Why do we, as human beings, do anything? The answer? Because something motivates us to. Now, this is a very different subjective experience for every human that has ever been, but essentially, we all have the same basic needs. Abraham Maslow, an American psychologist, created this chart to illustrate the point:

While transcendental ideas; like finding your calling, answering destiny, etc, are complex notions and different for all people across all possible lives and modes of existence, simple needs like food, warmth and sleep can be easily understood by all people. All living creatures, really. If you've ever watched a movie and witnessed someone starve to death, or burn, or drown, you didn't need to be explained why that was bad. Your instinct and knowledge of these states of being inform you of this, thus filling the scene with tension of your own creation.

"Why do we, as human beings, do anything? The answer? Because something motivates us to."

This is illustrated in the pyramid by the use of layers. The very foundations of your entire sense of identity lies in your ability to feel safe. This is why children raised in environments where they cannot, (for whatever reason) feel safe, display extreme developmental disorders. This is also why people, when afraid, do awful things like trample each other. Their sense of identity has been compromised, and their bodies will fight to preserve themselves. The after effects of this type of psychological "injury," for lack of a better word, can be witnessed in the effects of PTSD :

  • Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event
  • Reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again (flashbacks)
  • Upsetting dreams about the traumatic event
  • Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the event

(courtesy of

I would call these feelings a type of "wound" to the psyche. The pain will fade, but the memory will never, much like a scar on an old injury. 

So this, naturally, leads us to but one conclusion:

What the fuck does this have to do with video games?

Well, everything. The reality of the situation is life is very difficult. We aren't all born with the exact same potentials, the same access to resources, not even the same destinies. This makes what we could call, the "game" of life, a very subjective game. It would be like if every time you played a game Skyrim, your hero could only access a random set and number of abilities, instead of being able to put experience into anything they wish. Sometimes, the Dovahkiin is gonna blow.

To alleviate this, as we have evolved and developed civilization to keep our safety a little more "guaranteed," we have seen to the development of games. In a game, the goals are clear. In most, every player has the same advantages, to cheat is to violate the unspoken contract of the game, and, most importantly, goals come quickly and feel good to accomplish. In this way, a game can sometimes become (psychologically) almost "better" than life.

Now, to understand what a "game" can really be described as, we need to think of a definition of what it means to 'play.' There are many people who have taken many stabs at defining what "play" is, or even what it means to animals, in general. For our intents and purposes here, let's create a working definition. 

In my opinion, to "play" is to engage in structured (or unstructured) activity for the purpose of satisfaction, fulfillment, or, well, fun. 

This makes things a little muddy, as fun is different to everyone. 

I personally enjoy long drawn out military board games like Axis and Allies, but when I played it with my girlfriend, she got termites, she was so bored. So does that mean she doesn't understand fun? Of course not, her neural pathways are simply different, meaning she finds pleasure through different forms of play.

"This is what I imagine the Earth looks like in Heaven."
Copyright © 2015 Livid Labs, LLC. All Rights Reserved

People naturally want to play. Babies and children best exemplify this. A babies natural state is to be playing, making a mess, hurting itself. These simple notions we now take for granted are the organism's first attempts at interacting with, or controlling, the world they are able to perceive.

Think of when you were a child, everything was very fun. Not because of the inherent way you interacted with the activity, but because it was among your first attempts at doing so. We experience this memory most powerfully during moments of nostalgia.

This is why "play" has evolved into games. A game is that same unstructured (or structured) activity, but now influenced by a presence of rules and goals. Adults, having more complex minds, want a more complex experience. All games have a point, if they don't, you will probably think to yourself at some point while playing, "this isn't a very good game." These types of games, like say, hoola-hooping, usually are done for the satisfaction of simply performing the action. The goal of how many rotations you can make is an enjoyable one, but it is such a shallow goal, it is almost never adhered to for very long, other than to boast mastery of the activity, that is, "Eh, yous guys watch hows longs I can dos da thing."

To rectify this, games have become increasingly complex over the millennium, mostly driven by available technology and the basic concerns of present society. One of the earliest board games existed in ancient Egypt. It was called Senet, a game similar to Backgammon, the premise being the player is passing souls through the netherworld. This narrative aspect (the pieces of the game representing something greater) is almost always central to help create meaning in the experience.

A Senet set, the dice would have not existed in the ancient world, instead being replaced with "throwing sticks," an archaic way to create chanced rolls.

During Sony's last E3 presentation, they announced a game called No Man's Sky (24:20), a game where an entire galaxy is created for the players to explore, from the deepest seas to the farthest stars. The developers lamented that there are places in the game where no player will likely ever go.

How far we've come...

Gamepro walk through for No Man's Sky, level 1

Now rules and goals are all fine and dandy, but how can they make something fun? No one like rules, right? Well, yes and no. The reason we are ultimately playing the game is because the goals you can achieve during that short time of playing can mimic, and sometimes even surpass, achieving similar, tangible goals during actual, practical life. This means that landing that clutch final hit on a tough boss, or escaping the base at the last second are every bit as fulfilling, psychologically, as say, climbing a tree, getting a job, or even eating a sandwich (when you are not starving). 

To your brain, a challenge has simply been met and accomplished, a desire fulfilled, and you are now better for it.

But with playing, as any educator will tell you, comes learning. In the act of goofing off in a tree, children learn hand/eye coordination, build upper body strength and balance, and have a blast. In a biological sense, this also increases their ability to climb, in general. This means food that needs to be gathered from trees are now accessible to you. Your brain encourages these advantages by giving you the feeling of satisfaction when you learn something new and exercise mastery of the activity.

The same learning occurs in a game. Anyone who has played a particular game for long enough will report moments where they can observe similar patterns in real life because of the deep immersion in the experience. 

For example, anyone who has ever played Tetris, a simple block stacking game, for extended periods of time will likely report a feeling of looking for the natural ways for shapes to "fit" together. People still often refer to stacking groups of objects most efficiently as "Tetris-ing" them, thus demonstrating the principle and the effectiveness of the game play.

People who play a great deal of Guitar Hero note how they will often look at music in new ways, often listening for the patterns that were once invisible to them through the nebulous nature of a song. 

People who play a great deal of Portal are excellent in spatial reasoning, that is the awareness of what is around you in physical space and how you mentally 'map' your traversal through it.

Every game engages us in a different way, every activity motivates us through a different type of learning. Nothing exists in a vacuum. 

During the course of this blog, I hope to highlight some specific titles throughout the course of gaming history that are near and dear to my heart. 

I want to dissect them. 

I want to not only gush over my satisfaction with them, but why I derive such joy from such a seemingly trivial activity. 

I hope to open your eyes and challenge you to evaluate the experiences we enjoy for more than what they appear to be at face value and display in further detail, 

Why We Play. 

Thanks for reading.


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Welcome to the Show...

It's hard writing an opening statement. I mean, it's the first thing the audience is going to hear (or read, I guess) and in many ways, it's going to determine if they tune in or tune out. Hopefully me explaining the obvious to you was sufficient enough to invite the former. :p

This blog will be devoted to my own personal examinations of the world around me, through the context of the mediums I consume. I may choose to relate cultural biases with video game narratives, I could review release schedules of movies in line with propaganda for foreign policy, but mostly I just want to get a good chuckle and a "hmmm" from you.

Most of my posts will be various series of articles, if I get any readers they will always have first say of which series should continue, die, change, etc.

If I may, allow me to present my first article and planned series:



Why We Play: A Look Into the Mechanics of Mechanics.

WWP will be an ongoing series in which I take a popular video game, play it, then attempt to explain the true engagements of the experience. From a gamer's perspective, why is it fun? What do we see in the bleeps and boops other see as so trivial?

Very often games are falsely attributed as being appealing solely due to gratuitous depictions of violence or over sexualization of characters.  This is a stigma I wish to clarify as to when this is absolutely true...:

(Warning, extreme depictions of sex & violence, duh)

Dead or Alive (Strangely, not the violent one)

...and when knee-jerk reaction has rendered people unable see anything different:


These will start out as mainly text posts with links to relevant video, but I hope to eventually graduate to making full videos. Well I think that explains everything nicely for now. First installment of WWP should be up in a few days. Enjoy the ride.