Kara

a must see new short film / development trailer by Quantic Dream (via IGN)

(Source: youtube.com)

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Neither Breton, nor French, but from Saint-Malo am I!

The motto of the town of Saint-Malo, which, in 1144, bishop Jean de Châtillon gave the status of rights of asylum which encouraged people of questionable scruples (pirates, corsairs, privateers …) to move there.

Inspired by playing online multi-player with The Ancestors Character Pack DLC in Assassin’s Creed: Revelations.


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Quod est inferius est sicut quod est superius, et quod est superius est sicut quod est inferius.

A line from the Emerald Tablet. Latin; translation: “That which is below is as that which is above, and that which is above is as that which is below.”

Inspired by Uncharted 3.


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Sic Parvis Magna.

Sir Francis Drake’s motto. Latin; translation: “Greatness from Small Beginnings.”

Inspired by Uncharted 3.


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WikiFlow #1: Uncharted 3, Occultism, &… Kevin Bacon?

This WikiFlow was initiated while I was playing through the story mode of Uncharted 3 last night, when a few historical names, places, and events were mentioned that caught my attention. So I documented the trip through Wikipedia that ensued.

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It starts with English historical figure, John Dee, who is mentioned several times in Uncharted 3 because of his relationships with Queen Elizabeth I and Sir Francis Drake , but particularly because of his interests in and contributions to various avenues of occultism, including Hermeticism.

Now the Hermetic belief “as above, so below” is used to progress the plot in the game and it turns out that the belief is depicted in The Magician card in Tarot decks. It’s no coincidence, of course; it’s because the illustration for that card was developed by occultist, A. E. Waite, for the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn is heavily referenced in pop culture and what interested me was that it is at the center of Chapter 4 - Frater V.O.V. of the Divine Science Pack from the Facebook game, Assassin’s Creed: Project Legacy. More importantly, however, the order was so influential on occult traditions that its concepts are central to modern pagan religions, such as Wicca and Thelema. Incidentally, both of those philosophies are vastly interesting, and I suggest you look into them, if you’re interested in anything from spirituality to fiction writing, for inspiration.

In particular, Thelema was founded by oft-referenced occultist, Aleister Crowley, upon the ethical code, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law,” which itself was derived from the French motto of the Hellfire Club, “Fais ce que tu voudras.”

I’m sure that if some comic fans just read that, they made the insta-association, like I did, to the Marvel Universe’s incarnation of the Hellfire Club (peek at the end of this article for some Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon!). Fret not DC comic fans, for in the Batman comic, Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, Amadeus Arkham meets with Aleister Crowley; they discuss the symbolism of Egyptian tarot and play chess. I also found out that comic book author, Alan Moore, is also a practitioner of magic and his works, From Hell and Promethea, feature incarnations of Crowley. Neatly enough, both Aleister Crowley and the Hellfire Club are also referenced, although merely in passing, in Uncharted 3. Speaking of links to comics, a very off-hand reference is made, in Uncharted 3, to John Dee’s relation to Sir Francis Walsingham, who may be considered the first modern spymaster, interestingly enough. His ‘black-ops’ even included the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots. Now, a wild pop culture factoid appears for all my fellow comic fans out there: in Neil Gaiman's comic mini-series, Marvel 1602, the character of Sir Nicholas Fury was partially inspired by none other than Sir Francis Walsingham!

Back to Wicca and Thelema, symbolism from both religions is scattered throughout Uncharted 3 and several plot devices and puzzles are based on the fact that John Dee recorded an occult language, known as Enochian, in his private journals. Uncharted 3 isn’t the only game to use the Enochian language, it’s found in other games, including: Bayonetta, The Black Mirror and Dante’s Inferno. While reading about Enochian, I also learned two popular culture factoids: a) that the title of the track, “Faaip de Oiad,” by one of my favorite bands, Tool, actually translates to “Voice of God” in Enochian - b) that the title of the album, “Vovin,” by another one of my favorite bands, Therion, actually translates to “Dragon” in Enochian

However, John Dee wasn’t the only one to use Enochian. He shared its use with fellow occultist, Edward Kelley, who claimed that he knew how to turn base metals into gold, via alchemy. In fact, Edward Kelley is the historical figure that spawned the stereotypical characterization of an alchemist, despite sharing the Renaissance alchemy spotlight with the likes of Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa. As a gaming side-reference, Agrippa plays a role in the computer game, Amnesia: The Dark Descent.

The partnership between John Dee and Edward Kelley is referenced in a lot of media, like in the track, “The Alchemist,” by heavy metal band, Iron Maiden. Anyway, this partnership led the two occultists, along with Kelley’s wife, Jane Cooper, and his adopted daughter and future poet, Elizabeth Jane Weston, to settle in the town of Třeboň, under the patronage of Count Vilem Rožmberk before eventually impressing Emperor Rudolf II and moving to Prague to be employed in his court. These events, recounted from Elizabeth’s point of view, form the basis for Chapter 3 - Elizabeth Jane Weston of the Divine Science Pack from the Facebook game, Assassin’s Creed: Project Legacy. In the game, one of Elizabeth Jane Weston’s ‘memories’ involves an encounter with a golem on the streets of Prague (this struck me as extremely random when I was playing the game, by the way). Some quick research uncovered the legend of the Golem of Prague, the events of which take place in the late 16th century, at the time that Dee and Kelley were in Prague.

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That concludes this first WikiFlow entry. I hope you enjoyed it and if you have any remarks, let me know! Don’t forget to check out the arguably lame bonus below!

Oh and for those readers out there, who embrace curiosity and enjoy surfing Wikipedia but who lack reasonably interesting jumping-on points, I recommend playing Project Legacy, and the rest of the games within the Assassin’s Creed franchise for that matter. Needless to say, the Uncharted series of games is equally recommended. The games are brimming with historical facts and I personally love how all the people, places, and events that are alluded to are woven into one another and framed to fit within the Assassin’s Creed or Uncharted universes. Anyway, if you like WikiFlowing, these games will provide plenty, and I mean PLENTY, of jumping-on points.

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BONUS: Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon!

#1 - Sir Francis Drake

was the first Englishman to circumnavigate the Earth, for which he was knighted by

#2 - Queen Elizabeth I

who had many consultants, including

#3 - John Dee

who was known for studying and contributing to the Hermetic philosophy, which spawned The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, influential members of which included

#4 - Aleister Crowley

who founded Thelema based on the ethical code derived from the motto of the Hellfire Club, which is fictionally portrayed in the Marvel comics universe as having an Inner Circle, a member of which is

#5 - Sebastian Shaw

the role of which was played in the film, X-Men: First Class, by none other than

 #6 - Kevin Bacon

TA-DA! Ok, it’s not the neatest Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, so sue me.

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WikiFlow #0: What is a WikiFlow?

I think I’m starting a new type of post for my blog, in the form of - “FORM OF!” any Wonder Twins fans out there? No? - … anyway, in the form of WikiFlows, with the general idea being that I sort of display the multifurcation (<- learned this word while writing this entry), or the division into multiple paths, that occurs as I read through Wikipedia articles, given a jumping-on point.

It isn’t like the WikiPaths game or like the Plot-Your-Route game (mentioned in Episode 15, Season 2 of Extra Credits), in which a person attempts to get from one Wikipedia article to another, seemingly unrelated one, in as few links as possible. These WikiFlow entries are simply the routes I take as I start with an article and end up at with a handful of articles, stumbling upon interestng facts and popular culture references along the way. Cool, right? Hey, nobody’s forcing you to read this blog…


∞ Revisiting- Dragon Age: Redemption

I’m still waiting to get the DVD so I guess I’ll just have to enjoy Dragon Age: Redemption over the interwebz again!


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Suspension of Disbelief: Is the Onus Actually on Us?

We do it every time we read a novel or comic book, every time we watch a movie or an episode of our favorite shows, and every time we play a plot- or character- driven game. What do we do, you ask? We suspend our disbelief. But is the onus on us to willingly suspend our own disbelief? Or is the onus on the creators of these story-telling media to suspend our disbelief instead?

Earlier today, I watched the 3rd and most recent installment of the Starz original television series, Spartacus: Vengeance (follow on Twitter @spartacus_starz). In my humble opinion, this series, along with its predecessor, Spartacus: Blood and Sand, and the prequel, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, are simply amazing. Now normally, an abundance of nudity, sexuality, violence, and gore is used to distract the audience from registering the lack of character and/or plot development, long enough for them to reach the end of the piece, as is the case with many so-called B movies (and C movies or even Z movies…) like those straight-to-DVD horror sequels that are always on sale in the corner. However, the Spartacus saga cleverly interweaves those elements into the setting to bolster the storyline with greater historical credibility (for those of you who, like me, wiki everything: see Third Servile War). Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the series utilizes cleverly executed slow-motion sequences, overexposed video stylization, and a historically-evocative soundtrack, but my point remains. I mean: how believable would gladiatorial combat or the War of Spartacus be without violence and gore? These were bloody events in bloody times, as we are led to, and willingly do, believe. In much the same way, the scenes portraying nudity and sex do so matter-of-factually; they are not meant to distract the audience from the narrative, but to immerse the audience deeper into the setting, in which the narrative unfolds. For example, throughout the series, nudity is often used to emphasize the social chasm between Roman citizens and slaves (who were not even considered people, but possessions); slaves are nude because they are destitute and unclothed, whereas roman citizens are nude because they are opulent, shedding their clothes to indulge in a bath or a sexual act. Similarly, sex or sexual acts are used in tasteful scenes that develop character romances and relationships to highlight emotions and reveal motives, but also in those excruciating scenes, like those in which slaves are forced into sexual acts against their will, to highlight class differences and create further motives. I know that I’m starting to deviate, but the point is that these elements are seamlessly woven into the narrative fabric in such a way that they allow the audience to be more engaged with the show as they watch and voilà: suspension of disbelief!

To recap, I argue that the extremely talented Spartacus cast and crew, helmed by creator/head writer/executive producer, Steven DeKnight (follow on Twitter @stevendeknight), have effectively induced the audience’s suspension of disbelief, as I personally experienced just a few hours ago…

… but what of the audience’s role in the suspension of disbelief? Have you ever watched a show or a movie with a group of friends, one of whom decides to blatantly disregard everyone else’s captivation and knit-pick all the impossible stunts, improbable scenarios, and other potential plot holes? (As an ironically immersion-breaking side note: if you are that person, then Y U BREAK IMMERSION?!) If you’ve been the victim of such an act, then you may have realized that you sort of willingly re-immerse yourself in order to resume your enjoyment; you are willingly suspending disbelief.

Now, I could go off and give a different example, but I’d rather stick to the Spartacus saga in order to keep at least one variable constant and help clarify my point. Let’s assume that there are two people watching the latest episode of Spartacus: Vengeance side-by-side; Ms. Enthralled is willingly suspending her disbelief, whereas Mr. Knitpick is willingly encouraging his disbelief. Mr. Knitpick complains: it’s ridiculous that the Roman citizens and Gallic or Thracian gladiators are speaking English fluently and eloquently or that, of all the grave wounds the characters have suffered, none have proven fatal or at least problematic. Ms. Enthralled’s immersion is briefly broken by those statements; she now realizes that she is watching a group of modern-day actors, none of whom are really Roman or Gallic or Thracian, none of whom actually speak the respective languages, and all of whom use props to choreograph battles, in which no one is injured or killed. She shoots Mr. Knitpick a rather exasperated sidelong glance, shrugs the unpleasant experience off, and in no time at all, resumes her enjoyment of the show. This isn’t a case of cognitive estrangement, in which Ms. Enthralled’s belief is suspended because she doesn’t know any better or because she’s ignorant of the facts; she is willingly suspending her disbelief in order to enjoy what the show is offering: entertainment, a brief form of respite from the real world. I presume that the same can now be said of any other form of story-telling, regardless of medium (call me out in the comments, if you think I’m wrong about this).

Let me ask the question one more time: is the onus actually on us, the audience, to suspend our disbelief or is the onus on the creators of the story-telling media? If the creators do a shoddy job and produce ridiculously non-immersive experiences, then what hope does the audience have of suspending disbelief. Conversely, if the audience approaches media while willingly encouraging disbelief, then the creators’ work would have been all for naught from the get-go.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that the onus is really on both parties. The creators ought to produce media that lend themselves to the suspension of disbelief, and concurrently, the members of the audience ought to willingly suspend their disbelief as they enjoy said media.

Am I right? What do you think? Let me know in the comments!

Hmmph :S

Oh! For more, see suspension of disbelief

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Hello, Blogosphere!

I know I’m late to the party, but here goes nothing!

Well, here goes something, actually- something that’s been in the works for a while. This is definitely not my first blog, or attempt thereat, but this will be the one that I hope finally strikes that critical balance of consistency, relevance, focus & likeability.

So if you’re a gamer and/or a fan of gaming-related media, keep an eye on this blog and maybe you’ll find something you like.

Hmmph :S


delicious? come back for more!

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