Tag Archives: challenge

Because it’s too complex and long for a hashtag. Black Lives Matter. Yes All Women. The Mockingjay Lives.

27 Nov

It’s Thanksgiving in the year 2014 (by a certain reckoning) and I live in a world where people behead other people. Seriously! Beheading! I live in a world where women are scared to be women. Where people with darker skin get shot at and killed. Where shooting and killing other people is often considered (and then demonstrated) to be ok.

I want to live in a world where humanity is free to discuss the exciting stories of our times. “Hey! There’s a new Star Wars teaser trailer coming out tomorrow!!” “Star Wars Episode 7: The One Where Han Solo is Old.” “Have you all seen the brilliant Mockingjay (part 1) yet?”

In one corner of my Facebook newsfeed people are discussing how the cops in Boston are pretty good and that being afraid of them doesn’t make too much sense. In another corner a friend of mine posted about their experience peacefully protesting and being forcefully pulled across a barrier and then arrested by Boston police. They’re pretty good though and being afraid of them doesn’t make too much sense. Maybe I read too much Facebook.

We are human beings. We ought to live in a humane world. I like to start from there because it’s the ultimate purpose behind things. The goal isn’t “just” equality. We are human beings. We ought to live in a humane world.

We ought to live in a world where it is never ok to shoot another human being. We ought to live in a world where everyone is encouraged to be who they are and given the support they need. We are human beings. We ought to live in a humane world.

Theoretically, we tell stories because they help us learn and grow. Well told stories can inform us about being human, and about how we can work towards that humane world that we all ought to be living in. I want to talk about the story of The Hunger Games, I don’t want to live it. Heck, the point of telling The Hunger Games is to show us all how to avoid living it.

And yet… here we are.

We ought to live in a humane world. Katniss is a hero because she is deeply human. She is powerfully humane in even the most inhumane and cruel circumstances. She is not a hero because she kills other people. She is not a hero because she can fight well. Indeed, when she fights and kills she becomes less human.

We need more empathy and less fear. We need to remember not just to love our friends and our families, but every human being. Every. Single. One. Even the ones who behave inhumanely.

Happy Thanksgiving. May the odds be ever in our favor, and The Force be with us. Especially since it’s waking up.


Beyond Good and Evil

21 Apr

At Quaker Meeting some weeks ago there was some interesting discussion of good and evil. When you’re a pacifist, what is the best way to confront evil? When does inaction become an active stance? Can you slay a monster without becoming a monster yourself?

On that last query, our modern myths seem to tell us that only evil can destroy evil, because destruction is itself an evil act.

They tell us that if you are good and you slay a monster, even with pure intentions, you will lose part of yourself in the process. You will be forever altered, injured, damaged, different…

Harry Potter can’t destroy Voldemort without dying himself. Anakin can’t destroy Darth Vader and Palpatine without destroying himself. Luke can’t help him without losing his hand. Gollum can’t destroy the ring without destroying himself. Frodo can’t help him without losing his finger.

If good and evil/dark and light/yin and yang are simply two sides of the same thing, then one cannot exist without the other. We cannot eliminate the Dark Side, or evil, because without them we would know not The Light, or the good. This is mythological wisdom.

But can we move past mythological wisdom? Can you imagine a world where it wasn’t true? Can you imagine a reality where good, in a vast continuum of degrees and complexities, is all there is? Where there are challenges and disagreements, but never violence, and never evil?

If you can’t imagine it, will it ever come to pass?

People Want Lightsabers – Game Design Challenge

30 Sep

So LucasArts (the George Lucas company that makes video games) recently announced that their new video game, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, will be available for the Nintendo Wii. This is exciting not because it’s a new Star Wars video game (there have been many, very few of which I’ve actually played) but because people want to have lightsabers.

See, in case you’re unfamiliar, the Nintendo Wii uses motion based controls (in addition to traditional buttons) for its video games. The two part controller includes a “wand shaped” (or, perhaps, “lightsaber shaped”) remote, which you hold in one hand while playing. This “Wiimote” contains a speaker, vibrates in your hand, and is motion sensitive. This is one reason the Wii is so fun. If you want to play baseball, you swing the remote like a bat and your character swings his bat. If you want to play tennis you swing the remote like a racket and your character swings his racket. If you want to bowl you “throw” the remote like a bowling ball, releasing a button when you would release the ball, and your character bowls the ball. Finally, and perhaps most obviously, when you want to swing your lightsaber (which is humming and vibrating, like a real lightsaber does) you simply swing the remote like a lightsaber and your character does the same… except that there is no lightsaber video game for the Wii. Yet.

This is why LucasArts’ announcement made such waves on the internet. People want to have lightsabers, and the Wii potentially brings us that much closer. Closer than we’ve ever been, really. I say potentially because this is actually a very interesting game design challenge.

If you take a real lightsaber and swing it at another lightsaber, they hit each other and stop. This is physical feedback which requires physical strength. Short of hitting two Wii Remotes against each other (which I wouldn’t recommend) there is no equivalent physical feedback with the Wii. So how is LucasArts going to actually do this? If it just involves waving your arm around wildly it actually won’t be all that fun. If it actually manages to be 1:1 with its movements, which a lot of people seem to think they want, the game would require actually being good at fencing/swordplay – and thus it actually won’t be all that fun, since that’s really hard. Hopefully the game designers there are up to the challenge. Because people want to have lightsabers.