Pure Ecstasy:A Science Fiction Short Story

I thought this post had best have a nice picture at the top. It's tangentially linked to the story

I thought this post had best have a nice picture at the top. It’s tangentially linked to the story

I wrote a short story for the Wells Literature Festival competition. Chances are I’ll never hear back so in the interests of getting my work recognised to some small degree I’m posting it here. I fear some of the important points of the narrative may have been lost when I had to mercilessly cut the word count to less than 2000. Similarly, some points may have been under-explained. Let’s hope not though. I present to you ‘Pure Ecstasy’.

“Do you believe that happiness can exist without suffering, A-Mov?” Alma asked as she slumped across the table, staring at the tissue box on her desk, contemplating why she had allowed it to remain when she no longer sneezed.

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Morality Plays-Being the Good Guy in Tabletop RPGs and the Trouble of GMing for Psychopaths

Never let the GM force you to be a terrible person

Never let the GM force you to be a terrible person

Much has been said about the fun one can have whilst embracing their darker side in an entirely fictional setting, be it in a choice-driven video game or a tabletop RPG. As the old adage goes, it can be good to be bad, especially when your insistence on flamethrowering the knowledgeable prisoner actively hinders your fellow players’ mission. I speak here though in defense of the saint, the hero, the martyr, those characters so committed to doing what they feel is the right thing that they would sooner surrender themselves than see people hurt. Making people that are ‘nice’ goes against our usual fantasies of no nonsense badasses and in any other fiction an impossibly noble hero would be criticised, but in an RPG the narrative can adapt to exploit their conscience. It’s up to the GM to challenge the moral compass of the character, and often the player.

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My Games from the Year Awards 2013


Last year I attempted to write a series of articles about the new game releases that held my attention in 2012 before eventually crowning an ultimate winner and three runners-up.  I ended up writing so much before reaching those runners-up that I burnt out and coursework came along (that’s my excuse anyway). For the record, since I never wrote about them, my GOTY was Mass Effect 3 and my three equally placed runners-up were Borderlands 2, Far Cry 3 and Dishonoured.  2012 was a fantastic year for games, both in the big and little scenes. 2013 was strange. I was ready to decry it as a comparative big disappointment until I played a number of little gems over the Christmas period. And now, to sum up in what will hopefully take much less time than last year’s effort, my Games from the Year awards.

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What I Thought of Dishonored’s Downloadable Content

You'll have a whale of a time with this DLC

You’ll have a whale of a time with this DLC

Dishonored was one of my favourite games of 2012. While it had a number of flaws, at its core was an intelligent, liberating immersive sim (though I hate that genre label). DLC has left a bitter taste in the mouth of many gamers in the last few years but it seems that people are finally starting to be turned around. With developers like Arkane offering packages as substantial as the games they’re expanding on these additions get more and more tempting. The Knife of Dunwall and The Brigmore Witches can contend with almost everything the original game has to offer, whilst also managing to avoid repeating many of its mistakes. Continue reading

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Who are the real Rancors?-A look at the questionable ethics employed by the ‘good guys’ of Star Wars

jar-jar-binks terrifying

This is perhaps too deep an analysis. After all, the films of George Lucas themselves were presumably never meant to inspire deep philosophical debate or be complex character studies.  That side of Star Wars is better seen in the other media that surrounds its universe, such as the many books and comics and in Bioware and Obsidian’s series of games set in ‘The Old Republic’. Within the first half hour of the first film* the world is polarised between the evil dark side and the good light side. Regardless of this, there are still some pretty blaring ethical quandaries and, after all, it never hurts to tear apart the things we love (unless you do it literally).

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Comic: Pikachu the Scholar

Pikachu the Scholar

“I could make a webcomic.” I naively thought to myself. “It would be a good place to put those shorter ideas I have that wouldn’t suit written articles, and they wouldn’t take as long to do.” Ha. Believe it or not this took around an hour and a half to produce, and I couldn’t even keep my art style consistent. Yes, I did cop out and get a picture of Chespin from the internet rather than drawing him myself, but it was probably for the best. Just look at what I did to Pikachu in the third panel. I was planning on making comics an irregular (but slightly more regular than my other pieces) thing on this site, but given how long this took I don’t know if it’ll happen again.

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How to reboot education-Sorting school with technology

A recent Guardian article about parents having to pay significant amounts of money for iPads highlighted some of the major problems with the lazy and ill-considered approaches to technology taken by many a modern British School. There are so many reasons that using iPads was a silly idea, half of them are simply arguments for using laptops over tablets, demonstrating how little consideration must have been taken when the decisions were made. Continue reading

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And the Tywinner is… A short Crusader Kings 2 Game of Thrones diary

In the Game of Thrones you Tywin or you die

In the Game of Thrones you Tywin or you die

Crusader Kings 2 is a game of maps, faces and family life, but don’t let that put you off. It may bombard you with a mass of unknown names such as ‘Count Emmo of Loon’ and wacky phrases like ‘de jure ducal claim’ but make no mistake, this is no mere history lesson (though it is helpful on that front). It’s basically the Sims if it were made by Paradox Interactive (don’t quote me on that). Crusader Kings 2 is all about political intrigue and family management (and a bit of war, if you’re unable to avoid it). You’ll spend most of your time sucking up to your superiors, arranging marriages for your children, excommunicating your spouse, deterring rebellions and deciding on memorable names for your children (I called one Pikachu, I immediately regretted it). It can all be a bit overwhelming; the game has many systems I still don’t understand or make use of and the tutorials don’t do a great job of explaining the technology and building systems. It can help to play in an environment you’re more familiar with.

It perhaps says something about the British secondary school education system that I’m probably more knowledgeable about the history of Westeros than I am about Europe in the Dark Ages. Like the majority of gamers, it seems, I’m a big fan of the Song of Ice and Fire books/the Game of Thrones TV show. As with most every modifiable game set before the 1700s or in a fantasy world CK2 has a Game of Thrones mod, and it’s a wonder. The game adds hundreds of familiar and not so familiar characters, tons of new mechanics and a big ol’ Westerosi map (with the other locations set to arrive later). This a short account of one of my attempts to play the Game of Thrones.

This should contain no spoilers for anything beyond the point at which the first series of the show/the first book ended, my own plot deviated pretty quickly from old George’s.

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My Daemon Story by Jim-Age 15 and one month

This was the picture I attached to my homework to represent my very soul

This was the picture I attached to my homework to represent my very soul

Having a daemon (Philip Pullman’s portable souls from His Dark Materials trilogy) would be great. I’d always have someone to talk to and it could help carry the shopping. Phillip Pullman is one of the best-loved, by myself at least, authors of books for children that have reached that age where they’ll get all stroppy like little babies if labelled as such, and anyone older. When my English class read his first book, Northern Lights/The Golden Compass, in Year 9 we were tasked with writing a first person story involving ourselves and the daemon we believed we would have. My choice of daemon (not that you can choose in Pullman’s universe) was a monkey, not because I believed myself to be cheeky but because a primate is so much more practical than anything else. I wanted practicality above all else, which I suppose is a good representation of me. I called my chum ‘Tallelia’, don’t know where I got the name from.

I don’t know that you’ll actually find this worthy reading but my past self certaintly did; I thought I should have got a Booker prize. I was so proud of my jokes and references to the rest of the fiction. To this day I still stop suddenly in my tracks to laugh at the concept of ‘Grand Theft Aero’. Ha! Hilarious!

I now present to you ‘My Daemon Story’. Catchy title, right? All grammatical and spelling errors have been left in for effect.

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Things that I have realised will never happen, that have thus made me sad

Whilst walking back from college today the idea of fighting dragons suddenly surfaced itself in my mind. For a short, wondrous moment I was in the air, clinging to the scaly spikes of a flying beast’s back as I dug my blade into its side like an icepick.
“Fighting a dragon would be cool.” I thought to myself, my mind back in reality. It was then that I realised, very suddenly and with much distress, that such a scenario will never actually happen, because dragons don’t exist (sorry, kids). After my ever so momentary moment of intense grief I started to recall some of the other times in my life where I’ve envisioned something impossible only to feel the cold, hard slab of boring reality smack me hard in the face (time alteration is a common theme). There are many things in life that I will never have or experience, by virtue of the fact that they simply do not exist or are impossible, and knowing that makes me a little bit sad. I have decided to collate these things here, in a vain hope that I will, not just make people laugh and appreciate me, but also create a sense of catharsis for myself. So here is my list of things that I have realised will never happen, that have thus made me sad. Try it yourself, it’s liberating.

Perhaps some are just slightly feasible, I sure hope so. Time travel would be ace.

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