Posts Tagged ‘art

26
Aug
12

A Beautiful Reality

Fabricated Realities is a story game convention in Olympia where games are played inside art installations. Last month I attended for the second year running. It was, once again, one of the richest, most socially bonding and energizing experiences of my life.

It’s hard to describe why. I mean, the art was delightful. And the games played were rewarding and emotionally resonant. And the folks at the convention are some of the sweetest, most thoughtful and wildly creative folks I’ve ever known. But it’s more than the sum of its parts. All those factors combine in an indescribable alchemy to produce something truly wonderful.

How does this alchemy occur? What’s the process? Well, let’s start with the most obvious ingredient: roleplaying inside FREAKING ART INSTALLATIONS. Seriously, from the moment I first heard of the concept, I knew this alone would be worth the price of admission. Even if nothing Olympiaelse was altered from my usual play culture and tecnhiques, it would be wonderful to play games inside art. Self-evidently.

Continue reading ‘A Beautiful Reality’

21
Feb
12

Monsterhearts is Monster Love

At the time of this writing, the IndieGoGo fundraiser for Joe McDaldno’s story game Monsterhearts has about 24 hours to go, and it’s raised over $10,000, in excess of its $2,500 goal.

This is exciting for a lot of reasons. For one thing, Joe’s a friend, so it’s great to see his project attract a lot of support do well. And for another, Monsterhearts is a great, exciting game. It’s about teenage monsters and their messy, sexy relationships, and it’s a strange mixture of camp, transgressiveness, parody and emotional honesty. Somehow the game simultaneously manages to celebrate, deconstruct and transcend its source material all at once. And it’s super fun to play.

The fundraiser is also exciting because Joe’s put a lot of passion, craft and ingenuity into his contributor rewards and milestones: handcrafted zines, mix CDs, postcards, stenciled folders, charity donations and new game material. It makes me want to back him at the highest level just to receive such wonderful gifts from his hand. And it speaks volumes of Joe’s love for personal expression and self-publishing.

Continue reading ‘Monsterhearts is Monster Love’

25
Nov
11

Local Christmas, Local Joy

It’s Black Friday, and the season of consumerism will be upon us, and the race to Christmas Day will dominate our lives. The holidays are a time of giving, a time of faith and tradition, a time of family and togetherness and celebration. But with the mad shopping dash to buy Christmas gifts, it’ll also be a season of stress, financial anxiety, and even debt. It’ll be the most significant contribution of the year to the coffers of huge retail conglomerates who hoard wealth, monopolize markets, and prey on consumers and their workers.

This line of thinking is nothing novel or new, but it’s especially on my mind with my involvement with the Occupy Movement. And whether you’re bothered by billionaires or not, I hope there’s something we can all more or less agree on, which is:

It’s a really wonderful thing to shop local.

Continue reading ‘Local Christmas, Local Joy’

28
Jun
11

Shakespeare for all of us

I attended the Original Practice Shakespeare Festival‘s “Much Adoe About Nothing” in Kenton City Park. I loved it. The cast were a fun and energetic bunch, and the intimacy of our close proximity on the grassy lawn, with the players’ antics spilling freely among the audience, made the whole spectacle a delight.

The most eye-opening part of the production was the “Original Practice” itself. The troupe is dedicated to reviving the actual acting techniques of Shakespeare’s day, when new plays were being written and performed at breakneck pace, and an acting company didn’t have the luxury of extensive rehearsal and meticulous preparation. Instead they carried their lines on scrolls, and charged in with “limited rehearsal; an onstage prompter; fast-paced, energetic acting; and lots of audience interaction.”

OPS Fest recreates that practice, and the result was enthralling. I love live Shakespeare, and I’ve seen some fine performances, but what I experienced at Kenton park on Sunday was like nothing I’d seen before. You might think reading their lines from cue scrolls might render the performances lifeless, but not so! Instead the play crackled with life, brimmed with humanity, and embraced messiness.

Continue reading ‘Shakespeare for all of us’

24
Dec
10

On Shoulders

On Story-Games.com, Tazio Bettin (Suna) has been asking how one copes with “standing on the shoulders of giants” in game design; that is, feeling like everything you might design has been done before, and possibly done better than you could hope to do yourself. This is an issue that’s always been close to my heart as an aspiring creator of art in any form. it’s easy to become intimidated by all the brilliant and inspiring works that have proliferated throughout history. And the more you love art, the more you’re likely to be overawed by that brilliance.

One of the things I cherish about roleplaying and storyjamming is the affirmation of the concept that everyone is an artist. Everyone has a unique voice that can gain expression in any number of artistic forms–storytelling, painting, poetry, you name it! Every person has precious gifts to share

I truly believe this. And yet Tazio’s question lingers: in the presence of greatness, how does one muster the drive to create at all? How do you shake the feeling that all the ground has been covered, or that you can never measure up?

Continue reading ‘On Shoulders’

02
Sep
10

PAX Dreaming

I just wanted to let my readers know that I’ll be at the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle this weekend, playing and selling my brand-new, revised edition of The Dreaming Crucible, my game of grueling and transformative Faerie journeys, with gorgeous art by Erin Kelso. At right is a taste of the artwork that’ll be gracing the cover, with more works in the interior.

If you’ll be at the show, come see me! You can stop by The Dreaming Comics (no relation!) dealer booth and demo space to check out the book and play the game with me. I’d be delighted to tell stories with you.

And that’s all the time I have right now; so much to do! I’ll be back in the blogosphere when this whirlwind has subsided.

Peace,

—Joel

29
May
10

Would you like to buy a dream?

Recently I made a declaration of sorts on Facebook. My frustrated creative urge was reaching critical mass and I realized something: I have no reason to be timid or apologetic about making, sharing and even selling art. I had a big ball of angst in my belly about asking friends for money, even for something dear to me that I’ve lavished with hard work and care.

So, SbtT now has a publishing arm, Story by the Throat! Press. This consists of me, Joel P. Shempert, making games and selling them and playing them. Right now, I’ve got a PDF of my first game, Spectre of the Beast, on sale at RPGNow, and I can sell print copies of both Spectre and my new game, The Dreaming Crucible, in person or by mail order. Click on the link under the site banner for more details! In the meantime, think of this as a combination manifesto and press release:

All right folks, I’m going to be frank. I got dreams, big ones. But right now it’s difficult to take even small steps. Work sucks away the premium of my energy, fatherhood drinks up on the rest, and marriage subsists on the fumes. Dreams? Well, dreams suffocate, living on as lingering whispers of despair at their passing.

Well, NO MORE! Continue reading ‘Would you like to buy a dream?’




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