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My Dream’s a Nightmare: Aspiration and Ambition

I have a confession to make: I am a terrible artist. No, I don’t think the quality of my work is garbage (though there’s of course always room for improvement), rather, I am terrible with being consistent with whatever I create and I have fallen into boasting my works to others prematurely.

From my early teenage years, I was practically starving for some sort of online presence. Content creators such as Chuggaaconroy (https://www.youtube.com/user/chuggaaconroy) and the Completionist (https://www.youtube.com/user/ThatOneVideoGamer) were like gods to me (and still are an incredible inspiration to me), and I remember wanting to be just like them. I must have sunk upwards of five hundred dollars into recording equipment for my small HP laptop between the years of thirteen and fifteen. I was convinced that I, too, could be a star Let’s Player and eventually inspire my own audience the same way I had been inspired. I attempted a handful of recording sessions and found myself frustrated that my first video wasn’t going to be some magnum opus. My recording equipment has been sitting in the drawer of my TV cabinet ever since (though I occasionally am tempted to take it out again).

Of course, YouTube wasn’t the only thing my middle school self envisioned for the near future. I wanted to be an entertainment virtuoso, also creating web comics and video games. Fueled by the bizarre humor of Adventure Time and Regular Show (which had just begun airing) and the “Brawl in the Family” web comic (http://brawlinthefamily.keenspot.com/), I started brainstorming a project called “The Epic Adventures of Cody Winn”. The lead was a Mary Sue of sorts, naturally based off of me in appearance and in personality (that’s the greatest Commandment in making a middle-schooler’s comic). In Regular Show fashion, he worked an average job while being constantly swept up into bizarre circumstances with his friends and coworkers. No, none of it was original, but I was incredibly proud of the idea alone. I began drawing one-page comics at school, showing off my work at lunchtime every day. My classmates liked what I made, and the teachers that saw it were very affirming (which I am still incredibly grateful for). Things were good. That is, until one day when I happened to get bored while drawing the daily update. I had “stories” (titles and single-sentence descriptions more than anything) lined up for a month. That didn’t stop me from slacking off, and the comics soon vanished.

Fast-forward to 2017. I’m a freshman in college, majoring in Computer Sciences and minoring in Art because, guess what? I’m still trying to make something out of Cody Winn. The concept has naturally changed a lot, going from a modern sitcom of sorts to a fantasy adventure. “So, instead of Regular Show, it’s Adventure Time?” … well, dang. Whatever the case may be, I still have a desire to produce content online, though I’m falling into the hole of “self-hype” once more. I think it’s safe to say that everyone I know has heard me say “Cody and Jenny” or “Motley Crew” on some occasion, and anyone who follows my social media accounts can see sketches and concept art I’ve drawn most every weekday for about two months now. I can’t help but be angry with myself, though, for failing to actually put the dang story to paper. Well, I actually managed to draft up a first chapter (insert self-plug here: http://jackthehatguy.deviantart.com/), but “official” progress has been halted since that upload. My – dare I use the word – hiatus should be justified (what, with me starting college), but I can’t help but regret that I’ve been pushing a product on people that isn’t finished (and has barely even started).

I was recently watching JelloApocalypse on YouTube, when I found this video on making web comics: https://youtu.be/aOLzS2MmkzQ (language warning for the youngins and/or the pious). The guy had nailed me, right down to the hat I wear! I wouldn’t say that this is what brought me to realization, but it certainly helped in cementing my concerns. I’ve come to be very aware of the dangers of being “too inspired”, looking at my work, writings online, and even successful web series like RWBY (team behind it obviously adores Final Fantasy).

Recent reflection brought me back to a video from last year by Satchel Drakes, which, as I remembered, both convicted me of my ways and gave me hope for my work’s future: https://youtu.be/POFXGhA0AoY. I and other content creators like me should recognize and need to remind ourselves that Rome wasn’t built in a day (pardon the cliché). It wasn’t built effortlessly, either. Creative outlets typically don’t yield immediate results, so we have to be prepared for an incredible uphill battle. I’ve chosen to believe in my dream despite the difficulties that lie ahead, though, because I know that this has been the case since Creation. I’ve seen countless works that resulted from frustration, hunger, and tears, and I’m come to see beauty in the struggle. The idea that I’m not the only one pushing Sisyphus’ boulder gives me courage and determination in my craft. Whatever people may think of the finished result (which I pray does come), I know that I will be most satisfied with my work when I have finished.

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Cheers, Love: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Blizzard’s Storytelling

Hey, everybody! Name’s Jack, though I also go by HatGuy. I’m an INFP with a love for video games, movies, animation, et cetera. So, of course, I’m making my debut here with a post that could not only involve politics, but religion as well. I’m a lot of fun at parties!

With the release of Overwatch’s “Winter Wonderland” event, Blizzard Entertainment also released a lore-based comic, named “Reflections”, in which the team revealed the franchise’s flagship character, Tracer, to be LGBT. In the comic, Tracer is on a mission to retrieve a last-minute gift for a dear friend on the streets of London. Due to unfortunate circumstances, from stores closing to having to stop a robbery, it seems that she won’t be able to buy the gift, but is rewarded for her previous heroism with a gift to take home. She is seen in a flat, recuperating and talking with her friend, Emily. Her friend mistakes Tracer’s present for one addressed to her, and opening it, is overjoyed with a lovely scarf. Emily and Tracer share a kiss, and with this image, the Internet exploded. The rest of the comic gives audiences insight to the whereabouts of the game’s various characters, so whatever you think of this, if you’re a fan, I’d highly recommend it.

The controversy surrounding this revelation was possibly the greatest exposure the game has ever gotten, right next to the “Tracer’s booty” incident (Tracer seems to have a track record online). Many are obviously (although reasonably) divided over Blizzard’s decision. Despite what my introduction may have implied, I’m going to try and avoid shoehorning in politics and/or religion into this discussion. I’d like to discuss this storytelling element or, rather, its announcement and reception, simply as that.

There’s no denying that LGBT culture is emerging in the current day, so it really came to no surprise to me a few months ago when Blizzard revealed a LGBT character already present in the cast of Overwatch. However, my first response could be described as, “Meh. I knew they’d do that.” This response, I feel, is the greatest mistake Blizzard has made regarding Tracer’s story. With this announcement alone, excluding the actual reveal, the team made LGBT representation nothing more than part of some quota. With a premature announcement such as this, it feels as if Blizzard was simply trying to keep a demographic pleased, rather than incorporate a unique storytelling element.

On the other hand, with the reveal, Blizzard did make quite the step by making Tracer, their flagship member, a representative of the LGBT community. Tracer’s sexuality in the comic doesn’t come off as pandering to the community, and it isn’t shoved into audience’s face in-game or even have any impact on gameplay. Her sexuality doesn’t define her; it’s another dimension to her character, whether we politically agree with it or spiritually accept it.

As a Christian gamer, I often consider how my faith and hobbies are supposed to be integrated. Overwatch brings an interesting and difficult question of what and how much of the world we allow to influence us, as does much modern media and secular thinking. Rather than solely looking for bullet-points of disagreement that we may more easily write off another’s thoughts or works, however, we must look for writings and creations that show integrity, those that do not rely on some demographic or gimmick to engage its audience. I feel that despite the marketing shortcoming, Overwatch’s integrity remains intact, but that is, of course, open to discussion.

Thanks for reading this spiel of mine, all. This has been a ginger-ale-fueled Jack the HatGuy, writing to you from 1 A.M. See you, Space Cowboys.