Saturday, April 30, 2011

On Source Material

So, I've been poking at the cultural work for "the Other" done by Elves (hinted at in my original post on the matter), and one common influence for what Americans think of Elves is the game Dungeons & Dragons (yes in addition to Tolkien, of course). A common quote, widely found via Google (or here for example), for the D&D source is attributed to D&D creator Gary Gygax, supposedly from an old Dragon magazine. Gygax (supposedly) said,

Drow are mentioned in Keightley's The Fairy Mythology, as I recall (it might have been The Secret Commonwealth [of Elves..., by Kirk]--neither book is before me, and it is not all that important anyway), and as dark elves of evil nature, they served as an ideal basis for the creation of a unique new mythos designed especially for the AD&D game. [Supposedly from "Books Are Books, Games Are Games" in Dragon #31.]
So I looked at both -- Keightley online via Google Books, and Kirk in the 1933 edition at the NYPL although I later discovered it is also online. It's in neither (well it is once in Keightley, as a verb). The nice thing about the online sources is, you can search both via Google (Google Books or Google with the URL for the Kirk).

The searches:

What does appear is trow in Keightly, but they are little green-clothed Shakespearean fairies: they are "of a diminutive stature" and "are usually dressed in gay green garments" (p. 165).

According to the Wikipedia page on Drow (the D&D version), Gygax later corrected his source. But the uncorrected quote was what I ran into a lot initially. This isn't an "interent good, internet bad" story, it's more a story about people (Gygax misremembering, people putting up quotes and then never noticing corrections....).

Sadly, I can't verify the Dragon quote by Gygax.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Leisure Suit Larry's Last Laugh

Recently, with the game series Dragon Age (Origins and II), Mass Effect (1 and 2), and even Grand Theft Auto IV, there has been a focus on relationship management in-game. GTA IV was a bit heavy in this respect, whereas you can ignore it somewhat in the others if you want. But, the thing is, if you choose the right dialog options with the right characters, you can have sex with them. Ok it isn't usually shown very explicitly, isn't realistic (nor is the dialog or the whole scenario in the first place), and it seems like an odd addition to the game that isn't related to what the point of the game is.

An LSL screenshot - love me some pixels.

But there was a game series where sex was the entire point of the game, the Leisure Suit Larry series (which, according to Wikipedia, survivied longer than I thought). I remember them from when I was a teenager, although I never played one. They were generally thought of as rather weird, they weren't quite games, they weren't quite legit uses of your computer, and they weren't real porn either (now we have the internet for all that).

But with the intentional, direct inclusion of dialog to get to sex in hugely popular, successful, and mainstream games, Larry is vindicated to some extent. (I still don't find these weird sex scenes in games anything worthwhile or even hot, they're just creepy.)

Scenes are easy enough to find in YouTube. Here's a search for Mass Effect 2 scenes, and a video making fun of one (a combination of the gameplay footage and real people -- that makes it sound creepy -- real people as if they were other characters on the ship who do not get it on with the digital in-game characters). I've tried to watch a few to see what they are like but they are all so creepy right away I give up. (And I gave up on Mass Effect 2 since I found it rather tedious and repetitive.)

Edit: I totally forgot The Witcher, which I really see no reason to play.