The Asian Weird

Allen Varney | 8 Nov 2005 07:01
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More to the point, an authentic quality of strangeness can help a game survive, at least in memory. In a field that routinely bulldozes its past into the afterlife landfill of dead platforms and abandonware sites, weirdness can linger. It marks that quality that is rare and valuable in any creative field: an individual perspective.

Writer and futurist Bruce Sterling made a famous speech at the 1991 Computer Game Developers Conference, subversively titled "The Wonderful Power of Storytelling" (a "power" the speech derides and debunks):

"Follow your weird, ladies and gentlemen. Forget trying to pass for normal. Follow your geekdom. Embrace your nerditude. In the immortal words of Lafcadio Hearn, a geek of incredible obscurity whose work is still in print after a hundred years, "woo the muse of the odd." [...]

You may be a geek, you may have geek written all over you; you should aim to be one geek they'll never forget. Don't aim to be civilized. Don't hope that straight people will keep you on as some kind of pet. To hell with them; they put you here. You should fully realize what society has made of you and take a terrible revenge. Get weird. Get way weird. Get dangerously weird. Get sophisticatedly, thoroughly weird and don't do it halfway, put every ounce of horsepower you have behind it. [...] Working seriously, improving your taste and perception and understanding, knowing what you are and where you came from, not only improves your work in the present, but gives you a chance of influencing the future and links you to the best work of the past."

Allen Varney designed the PARANOIA paper-and-dice roleplaying game (2004 edition) and has contributed to computer games from Sony Online, Origin, Interplay, and Looking Glass.

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