The Third Mask and the Dark Knight

While 90% of the time I’ll simply blog about my D&D Encounters experience, on occasion, I’ll write about whatever strikes my fancy.

So for those unaware, 2014 is Batman’s 75th Anniversary. There has been quite a few ways DC has celebrated this event. Two of my favorites have been some animated shorts on DC Entertainment’s YouTube channel, and embedded below:

Batman: Strange Days

Batman Beyond

Tons of fun, if you’re at all a fan of the DC Animated Universe, and at any time in your life watched Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited.

The reason I bring up Batman is that last night, I watched a livestream Paley Center event regarding Batman’s 75th that included: Kevin Conroy (the voice of Batman), Chip Kidd (writer Bat-Manga!: The Secret History of Batman in Japan), Marc Tyler Nobleman (writer of The Secret Co-Creator of Batman), Kevin Smith (probably most famous for Clerks), and Michael Uslan (Executive Producer of the Dark Knight film trilogy…man, I wish I had his job!). It was a super cool event to watch, and I wish I had gone. I’m not sure it’ll be archived or appear on their YouTube channel, but here’s hoping. It’s definitely worth multiple viewings for the Batman fan. Supposedly it was sold out, but I swear that I saw an empty seat or two throughout the audience.

But I digress…

Near the end of the talk, one of the things that Kevin mentioned as being a contributing factor to the Dark Knight’s popularity is the dichotomy of Batman and Bruce Wayne, and how we all live with this type of mask. Batman is the person; Bruce Wayne is the mask he puts on when needed. For us, there’s our public persona, the face we put on throughout the day. Then there’s our private persona, the person we are behind closed doors, the person we have the most difficulty sharing with people, even our friends and loved ones. For some people, they may be one and the same, or at the very least, they believe their personas to be one and the same, but I believe that for most people this is an accurate remark. It’s part of our humanity, and helps us relate to Batman at a very human level, beyond the lack of superpowers and what not.

So what is the third mask?

Well, I’m a Wil Wheaton fan, and both him and his wife Anne maintain blogs. In Anne’s latest blog post (as of this date), she writes about her PTSD, past abuse, therapy, etc. It’s very well written, honest, and open. I was going to post a reply saying something along the lines of:

Wow! That was very well written, honest, and pretty damn gutsy to put yourself out there like that. Especially in this day and age, with so many keyboard warriors and trolls permeating the internet. I must admit that I probably would have refrained from writing something so personal.

This relates to experiences on online gaming (which can feel like treading a minefield at times) as well as past “discussions” I’ve had in forums in the past, where the most innocent comment can set people off, and they feel a need to bully you into submission. That’s probably the first time I ever heard the phrase mentioned: Don’t feed the troll.

So in the age of social media with twitter, facebook, instragram, linkedin, etc., is the internet persona we promote and maintain our third mask? I’m fairly confident that with at least some people, how they act online is vastly different from how they’d act if they were standing next to the person they’re “yelling” at with their keyboards and internet slang. And perhaps, we judge others far too often and too harshly based on the third mask alone.

Then again, I’ve been wrong before. Perhaps I’m over-thinking it, but at least a part of me thinks this is a topic worthy of discussion.

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Game Industry Quest, Part 21

Wow, it has been awhile. I guess the the idea of blogging is related to genes, it’s definitely not in my blood. Oh well, let’s see if I can improve on this for 2014.

Regarding full-time employment in the game industry focused on entry-level production, I have now officially been looking for 1 year, 8 months. I have a part-time job on a Kickstarted project, and that’s about it.

A part of me finds this frustrating, while another part finds this fascinating. Having been looking for so long, I can say with confidence of all the various production openings I see, many are for high-level or mid-level positions. This leads me to the question, where are the entry-level production jobs?

A third part of me wants to submit to pitch to Gamasutra, where with some suggestions / feedback, I work on an article not necessarily talking about my experiences job hunting, but more in line with where production / producers stand in the game industry. Basically, I’ve been led to believe the following:

  1. There are companies that do not use producers. Off the top of my head, Naughty Dog (Uncharted series), and Valve are on this list.
  2. There are companies where producers emerge from quality assurance testers. But who are they?
  3. There are companies where it is preferred that QA testers stay in their field. But who are they? I believe Bungie is one of them, as they are one of the few companies I have seen entry-level positions.

The idea needs some work, and to be clear, I have zero interest in trying to get into gaming journalism, as I’m probably not a talented enough writer to pull that off. By the end of the day, I would want this to be informative, not a bitch-and-moan session.

While I continue to look, onto more fun writings, I game store recently opened in my area. When I say game store, I don’t mean Gamestop. I mean a brick-and-mortar store that sells board games, collectible card games, and tabletop role-playing games. So last week, I participated in Dungeons & Dragons Encounters. Since it’s tough to routinely blog about stuff, since his adventures are weekly, I can at least blog about that.

We are using the latest D&D Next / 5th Edition rules, and I guess 40% through Legacy of the Crystal Shard. At the time, the party consisted of a Dwarven Cleric who routinely saves our bacon with his healing, a tank-like Human Fighter, and an incredibly unique Dragonborn Druid. Thinking we needed either some magic or the skills of a rogue, I ended up creating an Elf Mage named Gavan. Why Gavan? I’m not the greatest fan, but earlier that day, I had heard the opening song to “Space Sheriff Gavan“, an 80’s (I think 80’s; may have been 70’s) Japanese tokusatsu (live-action) show. If nothing else, it’s a catchy song, so Gavan it was.

So the adventure began with us aiding the Elk Barbarian tribe rescue hostages from the Bear Barbarian tribe. Apparently lots of Barbarian tribes in Icewind Dale. So we opened up with storming up a treacherous hill; 3 dexterity checks of moderate difficulty to make it up this hill unscathed. Naturally, Gavan failed all three checks; at the bottom of the hill, he began with 14 hit points; by the time he limped to the top, covered in cuts, bruises, blood, broken ribs, probably a broken arm, a fractured leg, and busted eye socket, he had 2 hit points.

Remember the secret of comedy?

What’s sad is that Gavan actually get’s a bonus to Dexterity checks! (Negative bonus on Strength though.) I felt like Jerry Holkins or Wil Wheaton rolling my D20. Still, Gavan managed to redeem himself later in the fighting, taking out an an enemy spellcaster with two Magic Missile spells, and helping contribute to take down an Ice Queen that may-or-may-not have been the real Ice Queen causing the problems in the area with areas. Oh yeah, an Ice Queen has been terrorizing the lands with monsters, and elves in D&D Next are proficient with longbows and shortbows.

Hopefully, Gavan will be less clumsy this week.