Abraham Lincoln

Episode 96: Yardarm Shortage

July 4th, 2014 | Robin

All hail the audio majesty of editor Rob Borges, who rescued this and next week’s episodes from the scourge of electronic interference, leaving only a touch of distortion in Robin’s sibilants.

It’s time to talk terms in the Gaming Hut, as we toss around the distinction between simulation and modeling.

In the Conspiracy Corner we review the disputed death of Indian independence leader turned Axis ally Subhas Chandra Bose.

Inspired by this piece by Leigh Alexander on Gama Sutra, How to Write Good asks if suffering is the hallmark of the modern hero. And if so, what does that mean for our portrayals of female heroes?

The Eliptony Hut hosts the ultimate deniers as we consider Flat Earth Societies and their legendary five corners of the world.

Take a moment to patronize our fine array of sponsors, starting with Atlas Games, who with a twinkle of fairy dust revive their 2nd Edition Once Upon a Time clearance sale.


Then take an eerie cinematic journey with The Dreamlands, the first filmic adaptation of Lovecraft’s dream cycle, from the director of the acclaimed Die Farbe. Check out the trailers and decide whether crowdfunding or crowdinvesting is right for you.


6 Responses to “Episode 96: Yardarm Shortage”

  1. Cecily says:

    I don’t agree with your thoughts on the depiction of suffering of male vs. female heroes. To me, having Lara Croft go through a lot AND still be cool and victorious means that she is somebody who can take it. If some people get a kick out if seeing a woman suffer, that only says something about themselves. And watching the handsome (male) hero getting beat up might not do anyhing for male viewers, but most women find it rather exciting. Equality of the sexes means that we get to have base instincts too.

  2. George Pletz says:

    I found all the talk about genre modeling to be very interesting. So when you are talking about simulation, you are talking about verisimilitude? Often I get flummoxed by people who think they actually want reality in their entertainment. What they seem to want is something that matches up with their experience and bias. As soon as dramatic necessity and time compression show up on the scene, all realism is compromised. Thanks again for the brain food.

  3. Mailanka says:

    Regaring the simulation/modelling discussion, I often found the Gaming/Simulation/Narration model offered by the forge to be fundamentally flawed because all of it is gaming. A good game focuses its set of choices and balance points around some particular element, whether that be a “realistic” set of choices (“simulation”), or a “narrative” set of choices, or a rather arbitrary set of choices (“Gamism”). Your model point, Robin, seems to center on the same point. No game can or should try to model everything. It should pick and choose its focus, where it wants believability and where it wants to abstract away an element that doesn’t fit into it themes (Economics just isn’t really important in Feng Shui, but it might be important in Gumshoe), and where it wants to build a complex set of interesting choices, and where it doesn’t want to focus player attention.

    But then, if I had to pick a single phrase to describe the Robin Law’s model of game design, it would be “Simplicity and focus.”

  4. […] and Robin talked about the Flat Earth Society, female heroes and trend of ‘Batmanization’, simulation vs. […]

  5. Cambias says:

    I find the “Batmanization” of heroes to be a peculiarly contemporary phenomenon, which will likely seem as weird and dated as bell-bottom pants or post-nuclear-apocalypse stories. If you survey the history of literature back to Greece, if not to the Epic of Gilgamesh, it’s striking how most heroes are not victims who rise up against their tormentors. They’re pretty much all “iconic heroes” — exemplars of virtue, in both the moral and worldly sense. Sure, they face tough odds sometimes, and suffer setbacks, but they are not heroes simply because of the fact of victimization. That’s a modern quirk, with roots in a murky stew of Marx, Freud, and (more healthily) the wholesale rejection of anything which even looks a little like the Fascist cult of the “Ubermensch.”

    But it’s so easy to do badly. Too often we’re given people whose ONLY virtue is the fact of being a victim, and then invited to approve and sympathize as they do rather non-heroic things. (Think of the “Death Wish” films.) It also, as Ken and Robin point out, can slide rather alarmingly into a kind of victimhood porn, in which the victimization gets laid on so heavily as to become a kind of titillation — the way that old pornographic novels would revel in the naughty bits, then wind up with a stern moral lesson to Not Do This.

    I wonder if the success of the Marvel Studios films is in part due to their absence of Batmanization and heroes-as-victims?

  6. John Burgess says:

    Dear Ken and Robin,

    As a librarian, I am a big fan of the optimal organization of information. Can you tell us a little bit about your your approach to organizing the copious research that goes into a game like Bookhounds of London or Esoterrorists?

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