Show & Tell

Elena Kosowski’s Example of Appropriation

My example of appropriation is the song “Pixel Galaxy” by Snail’s House. I listen to Snail’s House often, and when I first heard this song I thought it sounded very familiar. After some research, I realized that this song uses samples and melodies from a Kirby song. As a huge fan of Kirby, learning this only made me love the song more. The Kirby song that it samples is called “Green Greens”

Indie Game Show and Tell: Hyper Light Drifter

The game I chose for the show and tell was Heart Machine’s 2016 game Hyper Light Drifter, a 2D action role-playing game in the style of the original Legend of Zelda,

In Hyper Light Drifter, you play as a nameless wanderer, travelling through a destroyed, alien land as you attempt to complete a quest of unknown consequences. Aside from the menu, there are no words of any kind. Instead, the player is presented with alien script and beautifully rendered pixel art and have to discern for themselves  what is going on and why.

You know a few things, such as the world is destroyed, and that the player’s character is afflicted with some unknown illness that, from time to time,  causes them to cough up blood and pass out from time to time.  But what you don’t know makes the game that much more interesting.

Hyper Light Drifter is not just a game about dealing with illness (Alex Preston, the game’s director, has spoken about how the game acts as a way to express his own experiences with Congenital Heart Disease), but a game about loneliness and isolation. Aside from your floating robot companion, the only people you talk to are shop owners and travelers you meet along the way.  Most times, you are alone, trying to complete an esoteric quest by solving some unknown riddle. It can be confusing and disheartening at some points, but when you finally complete a task, you really feel like you’r fighting back against some unknowable terror in a world you don’t belong in.



Ed Sheeran “Photograph” vs. Matt Cardle “Amazing”

My choice for the appropriation show and tell ended up being the use of notes and rhythms by Ed Sheeran in “Photograph”, copying Matt Cardle’s “Amazing.” In it, you can clearly hear the same note pattern from Cardle’s song in Sheeran’s, just sped up and an octave higher.

Here is a video playing the chorus side-by-side with each other, and you can clearly hear the resemblance:

I’m very interested by this because it seems to be one of those “big fish vs. little fish” battles. Matt Cardle, a former X-Factor winner, is not nearly as big as Sheeran is. Sheeran can easily win this battle popularity wise, as people won’t pay nearly as much attention to Cardle’s song. A lawsuit was filed over this by Cardle, which was settled out of court for $20 million.

This, to me, seemed suspect. Sheeran has the resources and the money to fight this and probably win out of sheer money and power alone, but he decides to concede. In my opinion, this seems to be an admission of guilt by Sheeran. It also sort of makes you wonder: did he expect a lawsuit out of Cardle? Did he include the bit knowing full well that he had the money to pay whatever Cardle wanted and still turn a massive profit off of it? These sort of situations beckon these questions, questions that likely will never be answered.

Indie Game Show and Tell

The game I’d like to present is “Limbo”, a 2D platformer released by an indie company called “Playdead”. This game tells a story through very minimalistic visuals and gameplay, but with the few things this game does, it does very well. For example, the game’s color palette is merely black and white, with a shadow-box/silhouette kind of aesthetic, but the amount of detail the game provides through other means such as dust clouds or inertia is incredible. Because a player’s focus is drawn away from the normal things eyes gravitate towards, they are able to notice the more minute things that really pull together how believable an environment is. The game also does not give you a direct narrative, but rather incorporates that through small interactions of nuances in the visuals.

Limbo does an excellent job of creating a game with a captivating world through very unconventional methods, and overall I enjoyed playing and replaying each stage of the game. It was a refreshing take on platformers, and I would definitely recommend others to play this game.

Image result for limbo

Show and Tell: The Magic Circle

The Magic Circle is a game made by Studio Question. It is about the process of making a game, and the difficulties that come with that process. The game itself is set inside a game that has been in development hell for a long time. It has a crappy, quarreling dev team, a fanatical fanbase, and a terribly designed game space.

The game is about how the magic circle, the idea that the game has its own space where our reality doesn’t interfere, doesn’t exist, because the game is clearly being affected by real world problems. It is built around the story of the stagnant game and the ways it could be better. The game within the game, also called the Magic Circle, is supposed to be a critique of the typical heroes journey and all the dramatic cliches that story writers include in their games, and how all that doesn’t work.

You play as the main character of the game within the game, able to mess with the game’s “code” editing creatures, moving, deleting, and recreating features in the landscape, and interacting with the devs. All of this is made to seem really open, but it’s also very railroady. You never notice this while playing because the game is just so fun and so strong narratively.

Indie Game Show and Tell: Stories Untold

Stories Untold is an indie game created by No Code that features four short horror experiences. I focused on The House Abandon, in which the player plays a text-based adventure game about an abandoned house on an old PC. It is essential that the player can see and hear their immediate surroundings, as the game eventually restarts and actions the player takes in the game begin to happen within the house the player is in. The horror of the game comes from the duality of the player character – is the player character the one sitting in front of the computer screen? Or is the player character the one being controlled in the text adventure? The text adventure player character encounters the player character sitting in front of the computer, and the uncertainty of who the player is actually controlling gives the player a strong sense of unease.

I chose to present this game in class because it plays with perspective in an interesting way. We often think of the player character as an extension of ourselves, our way of interacting with the game world, our lens through which we view the game. But when a character in a game like The House Abandon has to play a game themselves, who really is the player character? Who is the player really controlling? The House Abandon asks this question, and forces the player to confront their expectations about perspective in games.

Show and Tell #1: Appropriation

I brought in memes for my appropriation show and tell – specifically Twitter memes that mix text describing relatable scenarios or cultural narratives with seemingly unrelated videos as examples or reactions.

I really enjoy these memes because of the endless possibilities of humor and weirdness that it opens up. This meme/reaction video in particular has been used in SO many tweets, it’s incredibly versatile.

I also love this one because it speaks to the usage of cultural narratives with this phenomena and also ascribing funny context-less videos with a Bible story which is one of the most universal mythos in our society.

This one is also Very Choice because both the text and video are varying levels of absurd/bizarre but it is also very relatable?? Lots of these memes mix absurdism and hyperbole with relatable, everyday things (the first thing that comes to mind when I think about that version in particular is those tweets with a video of explosions or someone being electrocuted that are captioned “that first sip of McDonalds Sprite”.)

This one is somewhat derivative of this kind of meme because the video has been edited to serve the purpose of the tweet but still uses a video ripped from it’s context (and therefore still gives off the same feeling as the others). It’s also an example of the “relatable scenario” component of the meme.

Honestly this meme trend and weird or hyperbolic videos as relatable content in general are (in my opinion) so much more relatable than earlier memes that are essentially “That feeling when you go to school (pic of grumpy cat)”. A lot of Millennial/Generation Z humor and culture is centered around hyperbole, absurdism, and appropriating media content – so it’s not surprising that it’s so popular online.

Show & Tell: “Genderwrecked”

For my Indie Game Show & Tell, I’d like to present a visual novel called Genderwrecked, by Ryan Rose Aceae, because I think it’s a fantastic example of what indie games can do that bigger games currently can’t.

Genderwrecked is a small experience. It’s arguably not even a game: the player sometimes chooses dialogue options, but all the options eventually end in the same place. There’s no strategy. No real decisions. No fancy graphics (it’s all cartoons and ascii art).

Despite all this, though, Genderwrecked feels ridiculously real. Over the course of the game, the player speaks with eight or so vaguely monstrous characters, while on a quest to discover the meaning of gender. And every one of these characters, whether they’re a robot dad or a pretentious tree or a pile of gay worms, feels like a real person. Furthermore, many of the odd creatures in Genderwrecked remind me viscerally of genderqueer people I personally know. It’s unusual to play a game and not only grow to like the characters, but grow to realize that the characters are actually just the people you see every day.

In succeeding so utterly at creating recognizable genderqueer characters, Genderwrecked illuminates a flaw in the commercial game industry: any game designed for profit must inherently cater to the largest audience possible, which leaves some people left behind. Indie games, often made to deliver a specific message rather than make a specific sum (Genderwrecked retails for the flippant price of $6.66), can better tell the stories of more marginalized groups. In addition, with smaller teams, indie studios can focus on a single person’s story and perspective more easily than a huge development firm.

In summary, I really believe that everyone should play this game. Gender is a frickin’ confusing thing, and a frickin’ important thing, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a better meditation on it than Genderwrecked.

Get it here:

Appropriation Example: Disneyland Paris and Nars Man Ray

I showed two things: the Disneyland Paris version of Space Mountain, and the Nars x Man Ray makeup collaboration.

Instead of a Tomorrowland in Disneyland Paris, they had a Discoveryland, which was themed after a steampunk future and based on the works of HG Wells and Jules Verne. Space Mountain specifically was themed around Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon. In the queue, guests go through the meeting place of the Baltimore Gun Club and can see their plans for the gun that will launch them into space. The story on the ride is that the guests are aboard the vehicle to be launched. I chose this because it was a very obvious example of direct appropriation, and it ties into my interests in theme park history. Disney is known for its frequent appropriation of other intellectual properties, especially without proper compensation.

The Nars x Man Ray collection was a makeup line from the brand Nars, with artwork and packaging using Man Ray’s works. I chose it because of its use of a Dada artist, tying into our discussions in class. However, the makeup itself doesn’t do much with the Dada inspiration and instead just uses it as an overlay and a tool for selling products, which contrasts with the actual ideas of many Dada artists.