Lately I've been visting two websites rather frequently; Insert Credit
and The Gamer's Quarter
. There is a distinct lack of intelligent discussion and criticism available on videogames, so the writing found on these sites, which some have termed 'New Games Journalism', is like water in the desert. Personally, I can take or leave most of it, but there are two writers on there whose work I particularly enjoy. In fact I, uh, got a little obsessed with them. I tried to seek out everything they'd ever written, read their blogs, lurked on the forums they posted on, and generally became their e-stalker. They are Eric-Jon Rossel Waugh
, and a lady called Anna who on the internet is known as 'Dessgeega'
There's a process I think we all go through with any writer whose work we enjoy- we build up a mental image of what they look like. We never pause and try and work this out, the images just somehow pop into our heads as we read. In my case, it usually turns out to be way off. I remember when I was a kid I thought Terry Pratchett was a thin cockney man with a side-parting and a moustache, when he's actually fat and bald and talks with a lisp. As an exercise today I made drawings to illustrate this process, along with images based on photographs I found of what they actually look like, so you can see exactly how far off I was!
Firstly, this is how I imagined Eric-Jon Rossel Waugh to look.
When I look at it, my version of Eric-Jon looks a little bit like one of the guys on the Film Studies MA at my university. I guess this guy's general appearance suggests someone tidy, organised and intelligent, plus he seems approachable, like a big teddy bear. Since I had warmed to Eric-Jon through his writing, maybe I projected him into the body of someone I found non-threatening, someone I wouldn't mind being friends with, perhaps.
Ok, this next picture is more or less what Eric-Jon actually looks like. I would link to the photographs but I can't seem to find them right now:
The real Eric-Jon is thin, with prominent cheekbones and big floppy manga hair (I also noticed he seems to have permanently erect nipples in all the photographs I could find). His features actually look kind of Scottish to me, so I was way off there too. In fact it seems like the only think I was right about was the glasses. Other things about Eric-Jon that surprised me were:
-He really likes Doctor Who.
-He doesn't like music.
-He has a website where you can look at his ineptly-drawn Furry porn.
I'm not disappointed by the new Eric-Jon; he seems to be a man of contrasts, and a lot more textured and interesting than my imaginary Eric-Jon. It hasn't affected my enjoyment of his writing; I enjoy reading him talk about Doctor Who, even.
. Dessgeega programs homebrew videogames, usually very simple acrade-type games based around one solid, original idea. She also writes poems about games, which (and no-one is going to believe me in a million years here) are excellent, records playthrough demos which showcase her considerable gaming skill (she can SKANK Mr Driller A) and writes for The Gamer's Quarter (her articles are usually the best-written things in there).
Her website is written and designed in a clean and functional style where everything is in its right place, and nothing is superfluous. She gives away little about herself; her bio simply reads 'she plays a lot of games'. Nethertheless this didn't stop me from imagining she looked like this:
So I guess I saw her as a slightly dowdy 32-year-old woman, who is unconcerned with her appearance (represented here by a baggy t-shirt she got as a freebie 7 years ago at PC World). I saw her as physically unattractive, probably because to be a homebrew games developer and hardcore gamer suggests a self-inflicted life of solitude, which suggests insecurity around other people, which to me suggests unnatractiveness. It's funny that my mind threw up a stereotype such as this, since I've spent a lot of time around animators, which is just as solitary a profession as programming, and I know plenty of pretty female animators. I even know someone who is a programmer and a hardcore gamer just like Dessgeega, and he goes clubbing every weekend! He even worked in a pub. It's weird how stereotypes like this still prevail in my mind, when I should know a lot better.
There only seem to be two photographs of Dess on the whole of the internet, and both of them are taken from funny angles so it's hard to really see what she looks like. Basically though, I think she looks roughly like this crappy little picture here:
Not ugly and not 32. (In fact she's 23, the same age as I am). That there's only two pictures of her and they're both from funny angles means I was right about her being insecure about her appearance though, hooray! Plus I was right about the spectacles. Again, the image change did not negatively effect my enjoyment in reading her stuff.
There's another writer on those sites worth noting: Tim Rogers. Tim's writing is quite self-indulgent and he never seems to be actually saying all that much, as lengthy as his articles are, but his passion for the subject matter always comes across and he's usually entertaining, at least. When I first started reading Insert Credit my favorite article of his was about Super Mario Bros. 3 and why it is the best game ever made. The bulk of the article was anecdotal, about his experiences playing the game as a child and then later as an adult.
I quickly established an image of Tim as a likeable oaf, or a simpleton. In some articles he mentions being overweight as a child, so that probably went some way towards my seeing him like this:
Turns out I was way, way off.
Tim is apparently seen as some kind of games journalism rockstar. Men want to be him, women want to be with him! Or something. Tim always mentions in his articles how he was talking to some girl about something or other- it crops up all the time, 'I was talking to a female friend of mine', etc. I figured they just liked talking to him because they found him non-threatening. No! It's because he's a super-stud. You can download videos of him talking about games shit, and in the one I saw he was wearing a leather jacket and had a toothpick hanging out of his mouth. He plays electric guitar and lives in Japan and dates models.
So this time, the image change completely affected the way I read his work! I started picking up arrogance where I hadn't before. He went from likable, tolerable oaf to 'dude who's better than me, and I'm jealous, waaah!'. The shortcomings in his writing style went from charming to irritating in an instant. I guess it's because now I get the impression that everything he writes has a cocky, self-assuredness behind it. Whereas before I could imagine him saying 'is this alright, guys?' now I just think of him saying 'of course it's alright, I'm TIM ROGERS MOTHERFUCKER'.
Also I was right about the spectacles.
So that's the end of that little exercise, that was fun. Hey I did some other drawings... (I felt like I needed a bit of a break from 3D animation these past couple of days)
Want to see the geekiest thing I've ever done? I was looking at the very early Penny Arcade
cartoons from 1998, back when the drawing wasn't so good, and I tried to see how I would improve on them. Compare and contrast!
By this page I kind of got bored of drawing PA and my attention wandered.
One last thing: I also did a bunch of drawings of Columbia's most fearsome band of masked rogues, the Pancake
, but they didn't turn out so good. Here's one of them, anyway.
Sleep now. I have to 3D animate all tomorrow ;_;