Month: March 2012

thatgamecompany flower

Interactive Storytelling: Thatgamecompany’s Flower

As a fan of video games ever since I was introduced to Pac-Man and Dig Dug by my uncle at the age of three, it pains me to admit that most gaming stories are in fact quite terrible; many of them are riddled with cringe-worthy clichés and written expressly to stimulate and titillate. It’s understandable and almost forgivable: Crafting good stories takes time and effort. It is not often a high priority for most game developers when they are justifiably concentrating their energies on things that make games playable: interesting level design, enjoyable game mechanics, user-friendly controls. As a result, few games have stories that approach the quality of ones routinely found in more established mediums such as literature and film; fewer still deal with environmental themes, ideas, and connections of any depth. But once in a while, something comes along and fuses interactivity, the unique strength of the medium, with a compelling narrative to create an affective and emotional experience about the relationship of humanity and nature. Flower, released by thatgamecompany, is one of …

Ged and Lebannen

Le Guin’s The Farthest Shore, Part 2

Welcome to part two of the analysis for the third Earthsea novel, The Farthest Shore. In this entry, I would like to explore more thoughts and connections I had that were sparked by the narrative. They include society’s relationship with nature, the perils of greed and consumption, and qualities crucial to environmental leaders and educators. 

Ged and Lebannen

Mindful Action: Le Guin’s The Farthest Shore, Part 1

The Farthest Shore is my favourite story of the Earthsea series. It is also one of my favourite novels of all time. While I loved Wizard more growing up, Shore is the book I come back to as an adult.  The prose is graceful and fluid, written by someone with mastery of the language. The exchanges between the characters are honest, heartfelt, and thought-provoking. It is a story that tackles the one theme we all must face: Death. I have taken both meaning and solace from its pages during times of loss and grief. The exploration of The Farthest Shore will be split into two parts; there’s simply too much material to cover in one entry. I’ve spent a tremendous amount of time with this book, so it’s no surprise that I have forged many connections with it. Let’s get started!

Rebecca Guay The Tombs of Atuan

Freedom’s Burden: The Tombs of Atuan

As a ten year old boy reading The Tombs of Atuan for the first time, I felt tremendously let down. On the surface, it appeared to have little to do with its predecessor. I was crestfallen to discover that Ged didn’t even appear until a third of the way into the story. Why was there such a focus on this girl I couldn’t relate to? Why would a great wizard – my powerful wizard – the one with whom I journeyed to the ends of the world, require help from someone with no apparent powers or magical ability? It was really all too much. I finished the story, shelved it away, and went on with the rest of my childhood. I grew up. I came back to the austere desert-scape of Atuan, revisited Tenar, and understood her a little better. I came to admire her, in some ways more than Ged. I also came to understand the significance of Ged’s role in Tenar’s story. Within the claustrophobic labyrinths, I learned the importance of identity, the …

A Wizard of Earthsea. Image by Rebecca Guay

Know Thyself: A Wizard of Earthsea

“Only in silence the word, only in dark the light, only in dying life: bright the hawk’s flight on the empty sky.” – The Creation of Ea, A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin, p. 1 The books that profoundly shape one’s thinking don’t come along very often. I was fortunate enough to stumble upon one at the age of ten. Randomly grabbed out of a crate of assorted novels for English reading class, A Wizard of Earthsea immediately drew me deep into its world of magic, adversity, and adventure. But unlike other young adult books that were read and subsequently forgotten, Wizard’s story stayed with me. The beautiful use of language and imagery, coupled with the mythic quality of the writing style, definitely didn’t hurt. But I think as a child of two cultures, I was most particularly attracted to the unique way in which Le Guin wove Eastern philosophy into her works of fantasy. Whatever its appeal was, I have reread Wizard of Earthsea and subsequent entries of the Earthsea series many …

Ekostories: An Introduction

“… A person who had never listened to nor read a tale or myth or parable or story, would remain ignorant of his own emotional and spiritual heights and depths, would not know quite fully what it is to be human. For the story- from Rumpelstiltskin to War and Peace – is one of the basic tools invented by the mind of man, for the purpose of gaining understanding. There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories.” (Ursula K. Le Guin, Language of the Night, p. 22.) Few things move us like a captivating story, told by a master storyteller. Stories can be grand and epic narratives that guide the thoughts and actions of entire societies and cultures. They can also be of a smaller quieter nature – tales of personal trials and tribulations, comedies and tragedies. They can range from light-hearted escapist adventures to deep meditations of the human condition. Regardless of their scope, the stories that endure share the …