The Baroness's articles
The Accidental Podcaster: The Garden of Entenmann's
Aug 10th 2015
When I was a little girl, my grandfather used to play the most delightful pranks in the garden. If you planted a watermelon seed there first thing in the morning, it would be grown and ripe by dinnertime. Cheerios sprouted entire boxes of doughnuts still in their packaging. Popsicle sticks similarly bloomed, the audacity of their frozen liquid popping out of the ground making my sister and me giggle as we raced to “pick†them before they could melt in the last rays of an August evening.
Of course, as we got older, we knew such things couldn’t be. For something to bear fruit, whether it’s a flower or an idea, simply planting a seed isn’t enough â€" there’s an incredible amount of time and work involved in preparing the ground to accept the seed, digging out the weeds that threaten the plant, picking off the bugs and parasites that threaten the plant’s well-being. The list goes on. Some of my earliest memories are of helping my grandfather thin out the seedlings to give the others room to grow, which just goes to show how many seeds may sprout and then not continue in that garden.*
My adventures in writing and podcasting remind me of working in that garden. To be successful, you have to take the time to prepare - what do I want to accomplish? In which section of the garden (in our case the Internet) do we need to be in order to thrive? Is there enough sunshine (content material) available to remain healthy and vibrant? Have I properly molded the mounds around the seeds and provided enough drainage so that when the rains of negativity inevitably come, the plant (or in this case, the creator) is able to weather them without drowning?
Implementing Experiments
Jul 17th 2015
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This started off as a reply to teh_leet_haxor's article from earlier this week. It is an unwritten rule with the RCM Creative team that if one's reply post starts acquiring its own footnotes, it's usually best to spin off onto it's own seperate (but connected) article piece. Due to a combination of sleep deprivation and genuine interest in the original topics, the following post grew to do just that. That said, if you haven't read Experimental game development concepts yet, you need to read that first in order for the following to make any sense.
As I was reading through your article this evening, my interest was piqued on a number of things, not the least of which was what in the hell a cloudy lemon was (because it sounded new and delicious and I immediately wanted one). Alas, as with my adventures in finding a proper crumpet, Google informed me that this was not only something I already consume regularly under a different name, but something I actually had in my hand at that very moment, sipping on while I was reading. That minor disappointment aside, here are my thoughts/ideas/suggestions regarding the other things that caught my interest, as well as specific scenarios where some of your ideas could be implemented:
Soundtrack for 2015 Year in Review, as told by Jen (Part 1)
Jul 5th 2015
Welcome to the halfway point of the year! From the onset, 2015 was destined to be a banner year - the kind of story that was packed with so much that a narrative would be epic and the movie version a two-parter. And since I’m narrating this story, that means the soundtrack would be a multi-disc compilation as well.1
At the stroke of midnight last New Year’s Eve, RivalCast Media was in the process of moving to video streams and trying new projects designed around building and engaging our community. I was starting what I’ve come to refer to as “finishing school for badassery:†combining management skills and team building with projects and marketing, creating and running public events, building networks, making friends, writing consistently, sharing that writing with others, kicking ass, and taking names.2 2015 was a time for ideas, but more importantly, it was a time for setting those ideas into motion. No more sitting on our hands saying “wouldn’t it be nice if…†No. As I said to my creative team numerous times over the past few months, I wasn’t walking into this looking to make a splash. I was looking to cannonball into the deep end with such force that the spectators on the pool deck would be left dripping wet in my wake, looking around at themselves going “what the hell just happened?†And the best part was, I’d finally found the team I’d been looking for to give us the best chance of being successful.
2015 for me started off, literally, with a bottle of my favorite pink champagne paired with a promise of late nights and early mornings. The first “early morning†took place a few hours later when I found myself slightly hungover and driving to Pittsburgh to meet up with a friend from the RCM community. We followed that up with a plan for using our social media outlets more effectively, launched a new show, negotiated the organization of the very first Orbfest open to the public, experimented with new marketing ideas, created new partnerships and started making outside broadcasting friends, laid the groundwork for what I hope (nay, fully expect) to be a solid writing and mentorship program by this time next year, and then as June came to a close we executed not only the first massive RCM convention,3 but also did it with a live video feed from the middle of nowhere, in the mountains, during a thunderstorm.
The Back-up Speech (or, my message to the Class of 2015)
Jun 17th 2015
Many of you who know anything about me personally are aware of the fact that "Murphy's Law" applies to my projects on a fairly constant basis. Many of you also know that in my alternate life as a university administrator, I have served on the campus graduation committee for the past nine seasons. As with any event, they never go exactly as planned - one year the vocalist didn't show, another year they somehow ran out of scrolls in the middle of the graduates' walk. In fact, in the years I've helped run the ceremony, the only thing that hasn't happened yet is a last-minute loss of the keynote speaker. And now that I'm responsible for coordinating and running the show, you can gather that a disappearing keynote is bound to happen at some point.
So for the past five years, starting with my masters' graduation, I've written my own back-up speech to deliver on that inevitable day when it's finally needed. This year's address read as follows:
Happy Constitution Day Norway!
May 16th 2015
Gratulerer med dagen!
Today marks the celebration of Norway’s Constitution Day. Usually referred to as syttende mai (17 May) or Nasjonaldagen (The National Day) in Norwegian, the holiday commemorates the date when the nation's constitution was signed at Eidsvoll in 1814. What piqued my interest was the way the holiday was described to me: “Imagine your Fourth of July, but on crack.â€
Welcome to the Deep End
Apr 17th 2015
During my early days as an undergrad, while in a conversation about some of the summer projects I was working to set up, one of my professors made the comment that she hoped when her daughters got to my age that they turned out just like me. She meant it as a compliment, which is why she was clearly taken aback at my involuntary and absolutely horrified response of “dear God, why? I wouldn’t wish that on ANYBODY.â€
To be fair, I knew what she was getting at. My friend was referring to someone who tried new things, stayed involved, worked hard, and was always seeming to push forward. The one who didn’t adhere to the traditional way of thinking, who shot creativity from her fingertips and rallied the people around her to achieve amazing things. In other words, the person a lot of people told me I was and the person I wanted to be.
But what she didn’t (and realistically couldn’t) take into account was to get to that point, one has to overcome the cacophony of thoughts, values, insecurities, motivations, and outright neuroses crammed into the six inches between their ears. And my head is only five inches, so you can imagine it feels a bit more crowded. Then add to that the external factors and baggage that trigger the aforementioned cacophony, and the discussion gets a little more interesting.
[April Fools Prank!] A Letter from HR
Apr 2nd 2015
I've been thinking a bit recently on current events in the gaming industry. Perhaps it was the mandatory workshop led by Mysti, our amazing HR lead, but my eyes have been opened. We've been wrong about this all along, and today is the day we rectify it.
You claim to demand disclosure and transparency of potential bias due to personal or material connections to a game/product by promoters or critiquers. You may think this improves the industry and gives an even playing field for both indie and AAA games, but do you know what you're really doing? You're literally killing puppies. Although Mysti is a cat person, she said we can no longer support this type of behavior, as it is NOT okay. As such, RCM moving forward will be against any forms of disclosure that could trigger someone to kill said puppies. Think about it. Disclosure is harmful. Why else would PR firms representing video game publishers make journalists and popular YouTube personalities sign Non-Disclosure Agreements when getting early access to a game? Clearly disclosure is harmful to the industry (and the puppies).
Demands to focus on a pro-consumer review of games/movies/books/etc will be met with mockery from this point forward, because consumers are so last decade. The playability of a game based on such mundane things as game mechanics or potential glitches is clearly supporting the social construct known as gravity, which is currently plaguing the gaming industry and the planet at large. We at RCM want to instead focus solely on the evolution of this work of art and the implications it has moving forward on society. What was the developer thinking when they put the holster of that weapon on the right side instead of the left? Clearly it was a statement against left-handed people, and we are not going to allow them to get away with this kind of irresponsible behavior, because it's clearly marginalizing.
Levelling Up
Mar 18th 2015
In which the Baroness explains life philosophy through the medium of RPG video games and simultaneously tries to smash Hax’s record for most footnotes in a single front-page article offering.
So I turn thirty-one this week.
The Good in Gaming
Feb 17th 2015
There’s been a lot of negativity centered around gaming and “gamer culture†of late, some of it justified but most of it not. Rather than continue fruitless arguments about why objectivity is important and that gamers consist of more than just socially-repressed tech nerds and violent frat boys, I thought it might be a nice change of pace to talk about some of the positive aspects that have come out of video games and the people who play them.
A couple months ago, as I was working on a writing project and listening to the shenanigans of my friends playing Artemis, it struck me how much they were able to accomplish in a short amount of time just by working together. The thought wasn’t all that revolutionary â€" teamwork is a key component to the success of any group, and especially in games like Artemis (where the entire point is to work together to pilot a star ship). So it follows then that having good teamwork skills can make you a better gamer, but does that necessarily mean that being a gamer can make you a better team player? While the logical part of my brain wanted to say “yes†to my question and help amplify the positive aspects that come out of game play, I didn’t want to just run to the Google and toss out whatever opinion pieces justified my argument. Fortunately, there have been plenty of studies over the past several years that not only support the idea that gamers exhibit better teamwork skills, but also that gaming can help build certain social skills, problem solving, and decision-making abilities.
For example, two separate academic studies, one in 2008 from the University of Sunderland (UK) and another in 2014 from Brock University (Ontario, Canada), showed evidence that violent video games can help improve teamwork skills. The 2014 study focused on an experiment where two groups of students were invited to play Call of Duty: Black Ops on a mode where players shoot and kill zombies. While each group was actually playing with fellow students, one group was told they “they were playing with a student at the University of Buffalo, just across the border, which was false.â€
Where Do We Go From Here?
Jan 17th 2015
A couple of weeks ago, while working on writing projects and half-watching the football playoffs with Baron, I looked up from my laptop just in time to see Freddy Kruger stab through a box of Chicken McNuggets before offering the tasty morsels to a machete-wielding Jason Voorhees. The act of kindness is repaid with Jason pulling an open sauce dipper out of his pocket like a dude presenting an engagement ring to his lady, then the scenes transitioned with hearts floating through the air while girls sing the word “love†in the background. Rubbing my eyes, the next scene was Mario offering a FireFlower to King Koopa, followed by the Democrat donkey and the Republican elephant hugging, a knight in shining armor presenting a soft-serve cone to a dragon, and Wyle E. Coyote blowing up a box of love at the Roadrunner. I was dazed and confused by what I saw.
What I’d caught was part of McDonald’s new TV spot titled “Archenemies,†which the company is calling an evolution of the I’m Lovin’ It campaign "by introducing a new platform that puts more focus on lovin'." Basically, the idea is that life-long enemies become good friends by the sharing of McDonald’s food â€" interesting idea, and I’ll admit there have been a few occasions where the presentation of a Quarter Pounder with cheese has prevented me from slugging someone who deserved it. My problem with it is the pairings they chose and how the “sharing†was presented: of the seventeen pairings of “archenemies,†the majority were very distinctly guy-centric and targeted at my generation. That’s not surprising â€" we’re in charge now, and guys are more apt to grab fast food on the go, so that’s an understandable audience. What bothered me about it was that they took these classic pairings of good versus evil, iconic things that meant something to most of my guy friends growing up, and pissed all over them in the name of love and harmony. I mean, OF COURSE Pacman and Blinky will meld into a giant heart-flower on contact, because heaven forbid we allow conflict to intrude on our world of unicorns and rainbows. What’s more is that with all of the pairings, only two of the seventeen has the “bad guy†of the pair reaching out to the “good guyâ€; in one, The Wicked Witch of the West takes Dorothy on a broom ride and posts selfies to commemorate the occasion, and the other features the Joker making a balloon animal for Batman (which I maintain is really a distraction for some nefarious plan because we all know the Joker is a psychopath). Seriously, I’d buy into the Freddy/Jason bromance before I ever believed Batman and Joker would share a Coke together. So in essence, it’s almost always the good guy bending over to make things happy and sunshiny.[1]
And that really pissed me off. But not as bad as the next ad that came up.