Your blogging today got me into looking up choice of games/ rpg text adventures and oooooh my god! :DDD I don't know where to start, there seem to be so many cool stories around!
They’re so great, aren’t they? :D I loved choose-your-own-adventure gamebooks as a kid, and so you can imagine how delighted I was to come across Choice of Games. (also I really love that you can play as gay/straight/bi/pan/ace, and male/female/nonbinary; that you can make a character who looks like you and has the kind of relationships you would want to have.)
In terms of where to start, some of my favourites are:
- Choice of Broadsides: where you play a young midshipman or -woman in the Age of Sail, dealing with mutinous shipmates, incompetent seniors, the marriage market, those damned Frenchies, etc. Sadly the ending I want, where you get to run off with your French frenemy and become lesbian privateers in the Caribbean, doesn’t seem to exist, but other than that it’s absolutely captivating.
- Affairs of the Court: about sleeping your way to the top and staying there in magical AU 16th-century Spain. I’m not at all cut out for that sort of ruthless scheming, and found myself doing what I always complain about in bad historical fiction, i.e. wanting to marry for love rather than my family’s advancement, but it’s tremendously fun to see just how wicked you can be - and how much you can get away with.
- The Eagle’s Heir: steampunk Napoleonic intrigue, where you play the companion and bodyguard of Napoleon’s illegitimate son, and try to put him on the throne of France. I really enjoy Jo Graham’s Numinous World writing, and am so glad to see that she’s done something for CoG.
- Choice of the Deathless: this is the one you liked the fanart of! It’s secondary-world urban fantasy; you play a newly qualified corporate lawyer in a world where contracts bind with magic, where your clients and colleagues are wannabe-artist demons with beautiful voices and immortal wizards, where rats and ravens replace email and dreams/scrying videoconferencing, where HR literally want documents signed in blood and you literally owe law school your soul in student debt. It’s really cute and imaginative and fun and has a love scene written entirely around the fact that the English language lacks a plural form of ‘you’. And if you enjoy it, there’s a whole series of books - the Craft Sequence - set in the same universe! (start with Three Parts Dead, which takes another baby lawyer and throws her into a murder mystery involving a dead god. You don’t have to read/play one to enjoy the other, but I find that the books make sense of the world, and the quieter, smaller game makes sense of the Craft. and one of the game characters - your Draco Malfoy-esque rival Ashleigh Wakefield - appears in Four Roads Cross!)
Lastly, I also have to mention a couple of the ones in progress; When In Rome….. (which I’ve posted about here; basically you get to hang around with a very thinly-disguised Martial and write terrible poetry) and Guenevere, where you play the Queen and try to prevent the downfall of Camelot. Everyone in it is so likeable and your choices genuinely make a difference to how they treat you; I can’t wait for more but am dreading the inevitable tragic ending.
#tagamemnon definitely needs to come together and write an ancient Rome-themed game, though. perhaps something where you play a love elegist and try not to get yourself exiled??
Note: this is a submission from another user which I am publishing anonymously under request.
On the pizza post, and cultural appropriation
People have been attacking this blog saying you have no idea what cultural appropriation is. I say it’s a matter of having said the wrong words to explain a rather simple concept. Now, to start with, since what sparked the argument was the pizza post, let’s just come out and say what seems to have ruffled the most feathers: there is nothing wrong in the existence of American Pizza. The fact that it’s a popular dish in America, the fact that italian-americans are serving it, or even americans who have learnt to love it, or chain restaurants … that’s all fine! It’s fine if you prefer your american pizza, too. Sharing food is not appropriation, and evolution is a natural thing — it only stands to reason, then, that pizza and other recipes will also evolve with time when brought to another place, much like language. That’s fine. Anyone who argues against that is frankly a prick.
What is not fine, however, is saying such things as “fun fact, italians actually invented a single topping, everything else was invented in the US”. I’ve seen americans claim that american INVENTED pizza many times before, and THAT is appropriation. It’s not unlike some guy going to say, vietnam, and then coming back to the good U.S and deciding he’s opening a vietnamese restaurant — only the dishes are “improved” with a good american touch, and upon interview, the owner claims he “understands the spirit of their cuisine better than them”. It’s not the fact pizza exists in american that is insulting, it’s people who claim with conviction that this dish belongs to them, and it’s certainly not about who’s more oppressed than other people — no one is arguing italians are oh so oppressed, but appropriation is appropriation.
For a bit of a history lesson, aside from the fact there are countless toppings in italy (it would be impossible to have a single pizza type for centuries), margherita is an EXTREMELY RECENT recipe. It was made in honor of the Queen of Savoia (see? Pizza is tied to our culture and history), and that’s why it carries her name — because among the pizza dishes presented to her, that was her favourite. But mentions of pizza date back to ancient rome days (though certainly it wasn’t anything near what it is today). Just a quick google search can actually give you a bit of insight in the history of pizza.
That said, who do you think brought pizza over to the U.S? It was italian immigrants. Pizza first showed up in american cities with a dense italian population, and it was sold in the streets of italian districts. So no, Pizza was most certainly not invented by the U.S, and that settles it.
On “italians only get mad about food”
We do not. Yes, of course we’re passionate about food, it’s an important part of our culture as stated countless time. It’s a brand we bring overseas. It’s something we pride ourselves in. Don’t forget that a culture’s food is part of its identity, and it’s very strongly tied in with their history. To dismiss our concerns about food saying we’re making a big deal out of “just food” is dismissing our very identity, and that’s it, there’s no going around it. No one wants to admit to be doing a disrespectful thing, but if someone is telling you “hey, this is actually insulting me because food is part of our culture” the decent thing to do is acknowledging it and apologize. You don’t know about italy’s culture: italian people do. That’s basic and natural.
That said, we get mad about italy’s misrepresentation overseas and the glorifying of mafia too, and a lot. But our voices are drowned out because “it’s no big deal”. Now, I’ll say right here that I don’t care much about misrepresentation, because I’m in a position in which I can just not give a shit about how people overseas view me (I live in Italy, after all). But for people living overseas it’s much different. It’s not a issue I can speak about though, so someone else’s experience might be something better to hear!
The glorification of mafia, though? OH BOY. I happen to be very involved with various fandoms, and anyone who’s involved in any fandom can be sure to one day end up seeing the much dreaded mafia aus. Fans tend to view them as just innocent fun who doesn’t hurt anyone, and that’s because of ignorance. Now let me get this straight: I don’t blame or fault anyone for not being privvy to Italy’s problems. If someone tells me “I didn’t know mafia was actually still a thing in italy”, I believe them. And I think that misconception is at the heart of why many people do not understand how dangerous that kind of fanwork is. But! Mafia is very alive and kicking in Italy, and it’s not cool gangsters fighting each other and not involving anyone else. It’s criminals killing innocents, children, indiscriminately. It’s people living in fear because they have to pay the pizzo or the local family will set their home or store on fire, or kill them. It’s people having TO stay silent, because if they talk, they’re gonna die. It’s people being trapped in a vicious cycle and unable to escape. For many people, even many people who are currently on tumblr it’s a reality they live every day. When I see AUs going about “cosa nostra” and talking about “good” mafia families, I fucking cringe.
You like gangsters and cool hats? Make a vague gangster AU with no actual connection to mafia and for the love of god don’t use an italian setting or italian words or ever mention cosa nostra or the pizzo or anything for which people actually die daily. That’s basic decency. And yet asking people on tumblr to stop is a roulette: some people are fantastic and understanding and apologize, because they just didn’t know. Some people deny it’s a problem at all and insult you for “being so sensitive”.
Let that sink in. If you speak up about how that’s not kosher, people insult you for being too sensitive. Sounds familiar? Yep, it’s a normal silencing technique.
On “you’re not oppressed”
It’s true, we’re not, no one is questioning it (and no one has any interest in oppression olymics, anyway). Though need I remind you that Italians have faced heavy racism throughout many countries? Let’s not forget that we were not considered white until very recently, and the stereotype of lazy trouble-makers are alive and kicking right now. Not even a few years ago I’ve had an american friend very casually joking to me about “those lazy good-for nothing italians”, who did not see how offensive it was until I confronted her about it. Brushing this aside as no big deal and “get over it” is rude, and disrespectful, and it’s most certainly not on the same level of a white american who is 3% irish, 6% italian, 10% dutch-whatever-else-mix claiming they are oppressed for their origin, so let’s not confuse the two — we are an actual culture, and it’s natural of us to want to clarify misinformation and hurtful things when we stumble upon them. Don’t assume because we’re “white” then we’re TOTALLY LIKE WHITE AMERICANS!! You know who’s also white? Polish, Romanians, Russians. You know who’s discriminated against as hell in here? Polish, Romanians, Russians! “Whiteness” isn’t about skin color, it’s about what culture is in charge and commonly accepted at the moment. Don’t apply america-centrism version of racism everywhere in the world, that’s short-sighted and guess what … racist … Saying we should just shut up because we’re white is silencing us, and really fucking rude when people are actually doing shit that’s quite honestly wrong.
Going back on food again, I wanted to add a very small note about why this attitude is hurting our economy: it’s not the fact that people make italian food overseas (that’s ridiculous), it’s the fact that products made in the U.S are being passed of as of italian origins and sold at ridiculous prices while claiming to be imported — and meanwhile, our actual imported products aren’t being bought as a reason. That’s why. That’s the reason such dismissal is hurtful for us. It’s not because there are italian restaurants here and there.
Friends, Romans, countrymen: Donatella Versace was in the mood to celebrate the classical athletic physique in this collection packed with toga draping and wrapping, gold fastenings, and enough shiny Versace merchandise to fill the Colosseum. Models strode down the catwalk in white bikini bottoms wrapped like loincloths and adorned with gold fastenings. They were accessorized with gilt-edged, branded beach towels draped, Caesarlike, over one shoulder. Some — proud as discus throwers — even carried Versace plates. Others wore togalike pastel tops that fell loosely under the arm and were pinned at the shoulder with shining fastenings, while leather biker jackets were covered in black silhouettes of athletes, midaction. The Versace empire stretches far beyond ancient Rome, though: In her show notes, the designer cited the hot streets of Havana as another inspiration. Versace tapped into the tropical trend being seen on Milan’s runways so far this season with roomy suits in sun-kissed colors such as dusty pink and cornflower blue, while an abstract palm leaf pattern blossomed across silk shirts. Jeans were tailored to hot climes — and toned quads — and came riddled with embroidered cutouts. Tropical or toned, the collection was firmly aimed at the Versace man.
William V. Harris, a professor of history and director of the Center for the Ancient Mediterranean at Columbia University, studies mental illness in the classical world—ancient Rome and Greece. Though the body of knowledge we have at our disposal is still not totally sufficient to understand mental illness today, there’s an added level of difficulty involved in trying to apply today’s knowledge to earlier civilizations. Or in understanding those civilizations’ concepts of mental illness in a time when the gods were thought to be involved in everyday life, and hallucinations weren’t something to worry about.
Harris is the author of several books, and most recently edited Mental Disorders in the Classical World, published last summer. I spoke with him over email about how the ancient Greeks and Romans approached mental illness and what we can learn from them today.