The Importance of World Building

World building is typically associated with genre fiction like fantasy or sci-fi, but I’d argue that it’s just as important for stories set in the real world.

Why? Check out my full article on Pop Culture Uncovered!

World building is a key element of story craft in which an author creates and defines the universe in which he or she will write. Good world building is consistent above all else—and also gives the story meaning. A Google search of “world building” pulls up almost 150 million results, almost all of them relating […]

Character Development in Harvest Moon

Howdy, everyone!

With the semester as busy as it’s been, I haven’t been able to write as much as I would have liked, but the good news is, I did have some time to put together a piece on one of my favorite video games of all time, Harvest Moon. Even better, I got to write about how some of the characters were especially well-developed for a kids’ video game.

Check it out! 🙂

Pop Culture Uncovered

Character development—the process of creating a believable, nuanced character—can be tricky. Spend too much time detailing a character’s past experiences and you risk boring your audience; don’t give them enough depth or information, and your characters feel flat and two-dimensional, Mary Sues less than fully fleshed out.

Video games in particular struggle with this—books and movies have to make us care about the protagonist to keep us watching or reading, but we don’t have to care much about Master Chief’s past or his relationship to Cortana to finish playing Halo; fun multiplayer, good graphics, a cool story mode, etc. are enough to keep people playing whether or not Master Chief seems like a believable, complex character (if you want more info on him, check out this interview with his voice actor Steve Downes).

Marcus Schulzke sums the character development issue up best in an essay anthologized in Game on…

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To Choose or Not to Choose: Biological versus Chosen Family in GOTG 2

I’m a big supporter of people doing what works best for them — and that includes choosing their own family when biological family isn’t treating them right, a theme brought up by the new Guardians of the Galaxy movie.

Check it out on Pop Culture Uncovered!

Pop Culture Uncovered

Haven’t seen Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 yet? Then you might want to bookmark this page and come back later – this is about to get spoiler-heavy.

Though some people are lucky enough to experience love and protection from their biological family, that doesn’t happen for everyone – and Marvel tackles the complicated problem of biological versus chosen family in their recent release Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2. Unlike most movies – which feature a main character happily reconnecting or reestablishing a relationship with a family member, or forgiving an absent or cruel relation – GOTG 2 cuts straight to the chase: There’s nothing wrong with trying to connect with your biological family, but if they aren’t treating you right, you can choose your family instead. No guilt attached.

Quill’s relationship to Ego and Yondu, as well as Gamora’s relationship with Nebula, are far more complicated and nuanced…

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A Person First, and Overweight Second: Body Image in Doctorow’s “In Real Life”

Diversity in literature (or movies) is about more than race and gender — body image is an important topic to discuss.

The following is an article on body image I wrote for Pop Culture Uncovered. Check it out!

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Pop Culture Uncovered

In Real Life is a graphic novel based on Cory Doctorow’s short story “Anda’s Game,” initially published as part of his 2007 collection Overclocked. It was supposedly inspired by a true story in which a Mexican man announced at a conference that he paid players to amass virtual wealth that he could then sell to Western players.

However, we’re not here to talk about economics or even MMORPGs. We’re here to talk about body image – and both versions’ vastly different approaches to it.

Though a number of things differ between the short story and its comic adaption, two major things remain the same: one, Anda is a young gamer who joins an all-girls MMORPG clan called the Fahrenheits, and two, Anda is overweight.

In the short story, Anda’s weight struggles are a key plot point: she’s medicated for a skin condition called Acanthosis Nigricans which often precedes obesity-related diabetes. She…

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Harvest Moon: An Exploration of Gender Stereotypes

“Video games of varying genres shaped my childhood, but none more so than the Harvest Moon series – which (accidentally) introduced me to characters that broke the gender norms I’d come to accept as facts.”

Check out my recent publication at Pop Culture Uncovered!

Pop Culture Uncovered

Scientific studies laud video games for the variety of real-world benefits they offer players, ranging from neurologically combatting depression to restructuring the way we think. When it comes to gender, though, we rarely hear good news; it’s easy to find discussions on the sexualization of female characters and the harassment faced by cosplayers who dress as these characters.
But that doesn’t mean that there are only negative stories. Video games of varying genres shaped my childhood, but none more so than the Harvest Moon series – which (accidentally) introduced me to characters that broke the gender norms I’d come to accept as facts.

Girls and Flowers
Also known as Story of Seasons, Harvest Moon is a franchise built on a simple premise: your character has decided to revive a derelict farm. Your main goals consist of planting and watering crops, caring for livestock, and creating a life in…

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