A Seattle-based podcast about games, comics, superheroes, zombies, robots, wizards, dinosaurs, and other things relevant to your interests. We're SJW FTW, and we’ve been nerding out about nerd stuff since way before everybody was a nerd.
We got another chance to interview Friend of the Hole and rockstar game designer Jonathan Tweet, whose magnificent book Grandmother Fish comes out today in his new deal with Macmillan. We’re going to the launch party at Ada’s Technical Books in Seattle on Saturday 9/10 from 10am-2pm, and you should too.
In the interview, we also got to talk a bit about Clades, a game Tweet is designing to teach evolution to kids and their adult companions. We played a bit of his early design and had a great time. We’ll let you know when he fires up that Kickstarter next month.
Hey, it’s a Nerdhole sampler! We talk about a cool, short book by Kai Ashante Wilson, the sweet new video game by the folks behind Limbo, and a board game that briefly made NASCAR seem interesting. And we managed to bust out an entire podcast without talking about television. Achievement unlocked!
Rob Heinsoo recommended both Sorcerer and Thunder Alley, and you should be sure to check out his upcoming Legendary expansion based on Big Trouble in Little China. We playtested it and it is delightful–his blog has some neat previews and design notes.
I watched the first two episodes of The Shannara Chronicles last night, and my feelings are well and thoroughly mixed. Please remember that I’m the illiterate one here at Nerdhole, so of course I haven’t read the books despite their near-ubiquity when I was a teen. That means I’m unencumbered with baggage related to characters or plot or setting–but it seems as if the producers of the show may have the same issue.
Don’t get me wrong–it’s not bad through and through, and there are elements that stack up well against the best genre television out there. The production design is gorgeous, with sets and costumes and makeup that draw in the viewer just as well as another famous fantasy production filmed in New Zealand. But once the beautiful actors open their pouty little mouths, the jig is up. If you’re the sort of viewer who wants your intelligence respected, you’ll have to look elsewhere. The writers seem to resent exposition as much as the most hated chore, like a frat bro’s approach to foreplay. This makes some of the dialogue jarringly bad, and when it’s paired with some of the less-talented actors in the cast, it makes for an excruciating, eye-rolling grind.
So yeah, disappointing, right? But somehow, despite myself, despite my self-respect, I’m in. It really is beautiful, and the overarching story does seem cool and worthwhile even if it is layered in occasionally crappy dialogue. I don’t like that side of me, or of nerd culture a whole, but I will accept it. Provisionally. Same goes for The Shannara Chronicles.
Most of us lucky enough to have played in a kickass RPG campaign have dreamed of bringing our adventures to the page or the screen–and now we know that it can be done. The Expanse, currently running on Syfy, is based on a series of books with a storied RPG history. Paul schools Mary and Rob on that very engaging history as we explore our fascination and frustration with the show.
This deep article from Barnes and Noble lays out the history of the franchise at great length.
We spoke with author and game designer Jonathan Tweet about his new book Grandmother Fish, which tells the story of evolution for pre-K kids. We also delved into his storied history as a game designer and got some terrific inside stories from his super-smart daughter Tessa.
This week, we toss one game and one book down the Nerdhole to see what happens. Rob is back to playing (and enjoying) SolForge, a game he’s ragequit more than once. He thinks you should try ragequitting it until you like it, too! Then Mary refrains from spoiling any of Neil Gaiman’s new collection Trigger Warning. Is it a spoiler to say you like something?
Some progressive nerd news and discussions from the past week:
Rewriting The Future: Using Science Fiction to Re-envision Justice
More on Octavia’s Brood, the project we mentioned on our podcast a few weeks ago, by one of the editors, Walidah Imarisha:
We started the anthology with the belief that all organizing is science fiction. When we talk about a world without prisons; a world without police violence; a world where everyone has food, clothing, shelter, quality education; a world free of white supremacy, patriarchy, capitalism, heterosexism; we are talking about a world that doesn’t currently exist. But collectively dreaming up one that does means we can begin building it into existence.
Star Wars Adds First LGBTQ Character to the New Canon
Yub fucking nub: not only does Star Wars now have canonically female stormtroopers, but Paul Kemp’s upcoming book Lords of the Sith is also about to introduce the first official LGBTQ character to the new canon.
Black developers speak out on stereotypes in gaming
Professor and game designer Derek Derek Manns and Dennis Mathews of Revelation Interactive Studios held a roundtable discussion at GDC 2015 (the Game Developers Conference) on how black characters are portrayed in games as well as stereotypes of black game developers and designers.
Mathews summed up the biggest reason why diversity is needed in one phrase: “People don’t know what they don’t know.” He explained that often developers who aren’t black don’t even realize when they’re drawing on stereotypes because they don’t have any black coworkers to call it out.
Doctor Who vs. the Bechdel Test
Sarah Barrett of The Mary Sue watched all 117 episodes of modern-day Doctor Who and analyzed how many times it passed the Bechdel test, and frankly we’re surprised it did so well. (Though things aren’t as good when you measure by people of color.)
It’s the first-ever Nerdhole Book Club! Mary and Rob, ever in sync, found out they were each reading John Scalzi’s Old Man’s Way series at the same time (though Mary was and still is far ahead of Rob), so we grabbed the brass ring of synchronicity and casted a pod all about it.