Friday, January 6, 2023

Quick Sips 01/06/2023

Sorry about the recent absence! The end of the year just kicked me in the teeth and honestly I haven’t been settled enough to sit down and do an update. For all that, I don’t feel there’s even much to report. I am behind on a lot of things and in the middle of a lot of things and generally screaming. But that’s not precisely new. With the new year I will renew the resolution to be less of a fuckup than last year, but I haven’t had much luck with that historically, so… well, hope remains!

There are some little announcements. I do have a new poem out at Kaliedotrope, and my short SFF smut continues to be released two stories per month at JMS books. I am still not doing much in the way of writing, but maybe that will change soon? Maybe? We shall see! Anyway, I’m also doing a lot with the non-profit I volunteer at, including putting together a panel discussion on LGBTQ+ representation and presence in publishing with a number of awesome writers. Just as an fyi if you feel like supporting that, we’re taking donations here: (if prompted at any point, feel free to say that it’s for the panel event). This will be recorded and posted for anyone to view, so I’m really excited to get to put this together.

In other news…heh. Well, I’m trying. I’m still failing mostly to stay on top of my things, including putting out a recommended reading list. Sigh… I am still hoping to. What’s not helping is the winter continuing to cycle through annoying week-long snow systems that seem to eat up a lot of time. Between that and other commitments, it’s just treading water. I do think I might have a reprint sale incoming, though, so that’s nice if it pans out. And…yeah.

Media-wise, I’ve mostly still being poking at Breath of the Wild. It’s a fun game, and while I’d like to see a bit more done with the character of Link, I think the gameplay is wonderful and there’s certainly a lot to do. I’m contemplating getting the expansion pass to do even more, but I’m not in a huge hurry there. We’ll see how it goes.

It does, however, remind me of something I have vague opinions on—the silent protagonist in video games. It’s something that many games do, preferring to have a protagonist that doesn’t really speak or have much in the way of personality. It gives players maybe more of an opportunity to put themselves into the character because it’s not distinct enough to push them out. Which often leads to a sense that there’s an openness to headcanon that other games might lack, which can be further great because headcanon remains the greatest source of queer content in videogames. But it can also be rather annoying, because without a voice, the character tends to lack a huge amount of agency.

I am reminded of the Suikoden series, which has often had a mostly silent protagonist. Then Suikoden III happened and there was a rather strong pushback because that game had all the character have personalities and names (there were other complaints but the loss of the “silent” protagonist was cited quite a bit). That, however, led to the rather unfortunate choices in Suikoden IV and the ridiculously silent protagonist who was…well, rather boring. Who nodded but otherwise didn’t do much, and this in turn lead to the blended approach in Suikoden V, which found a mostly silent protagonist who at least got dialogue options and more of a personality.

With Breath of the Wild the issue I have is that Link is defined fairly heavily in the flashbacks as silent because of the weight of the expectations put on him. Because of his family, because of all the people around him who are waiting for him to fulfill a prophecy. And I just personally could have liked to see, especially after losing his memories, a personality and voice begin to emerge. Without that, the whole point of the game isn’t breaking a cycle so much as it is about restoring it. The cycle of the great hero Link, and the princess Zelda, and their victory over Ganon. But what victory is it when really that’s the expectation and it’s always met? This victory has been delayed 100 years because of what happened, and in many ways it’s really impressive that Zelda has been fighting that long. But it’s still the story about the return of the status quo. The first part of that being Zelda’s magical power, which she didn’t have for most of the flashbacks.

And that lack is actually framed as a lack. It’s not something they get around, not something where she finds that her skills as they are will be enough to triumph against Ganon. It’s the same powers that she couldn’t activate despite desperate effort that end up saving the day, as they were “supposed to” and the fault for it, such as there is fault, is still hers for not figuring it out sooner. I actually would have liked to see this all play out a bit differently, and there be more of a focus on breaking cycles that CLEARLY ARE NOT WORKING. Ganon just keeps on coming back. If the moral is that constant effort against the forces of entropy and corruption are necessary and often require periods of brutal violence/revolution, then okay maybe. But it’s a grim, fatalistic moral. And wrapping it in nostalgia isn’t actually something that manages to hide that fact, for me at least.

Maybe it’s just me wanting a Zelda game to not be a Chosen One narrative and it’s always going to be one. I wish though that Link could get some relief from the weight he’s carried consciously about being this fated warrior and body guard. He gets to have some goofy and less serious moments in the game, and it seems like that could be a part of him he never got to really lean into or express, and instead he’s being pushed back to suppress his desires to save the day, fulfill his destiny, etc. And I just think that more could have been done to subvert that. Though hey, maybe the game will surprise me. I just doubt it.

That’s about it for now, though. I hope you’re all having a happy new year so far! Cheers!


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