Pixel Scroll 3/15/22 Here’s One Weird Trick To Nominate For The Hugos. SMOFS Hate It. Click Here For More

(1) TIME TO PANIC. Nominations for the 2022 Hugo Awards, Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book, and Astounding Award for Best New Writer close at 11:59 pm Pacific Daylight Time (UTC-7), today, March 15, 2022.

If this was a cooking show, the judges would be yelling, “You should be plating!”

Or you could just panic.

(2) REGISTER FOR NEBULA CONFERENCE. The 2022 SFWA Nebula Conference registration is now open. The online event runs May 20-22.

We know that many of you have been eagerly awaiting the opening of registration for this year’s Nebula Conference, tamping down the anxious space bats fluttering in your stomachs as you waited for news. We are pleased to announce that registration is now open! 

Registration Price: $150.00 for One Year of Access Starting May 1st!

Register Here: https://events.sfwa.org/

This year’s conference is fully online, and filled with all the panels and networking opportunities that we can possibly fit into a three-day weekend! The 2022 Nebula Conference Online will once again host the SFWA Nebula Awards Ceremony. 

(3) A SPLASH AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WELL. Chris Barkley is excited that someone on the Chengdu Worldcon committee acknowledged his message “about the current status of the Committee on whether or not your group will be able to fulfill their duties in administering the 2023 World Science Fiction Convention.”  

This morning, at 9:58 am EDT, I received the following response from that account:

Chengdu Worldcon 2023:

“Hi Chris, thank you for the message and concern over the status of our committee. Since we are fully committed to run a most successful convention, we are working hard with locals for the best possible services for our members, including a very affordable membership package. The plan will be announced soon. Sorry for this delayed reply.”

(4) GAMES HUGO SUPPORT SITE GROWS. Ira Alexandre, proponent of a permanent Best Game or Interactive Work Hugo category, has updated the “Games Hugo – FAQ”. They’ve also written a series of tweets defending watching “playthrough” videos as an alternative way for voters to inform themselves rather than playing the games. Thread starts here. (See also “Games Hugo – Playthroughs”)

And if you don’t agree, well —

The category definition itself has been updated to prevent the possibility of conventions being considered in the category. 

(5) WERE YOU THERE? On Twitter, a cosplay fan pointed out a half-hour news documentary of the 1987 Worldcon in Brighton, UK is available on YouTube. “The Human Factor – World Science Fiction Convention”.

(6) MS. MARVEL. “The future is in her hands.” Marvel Studios’ Ms. Marvel comes to Disney+ on June 8. Variety remembers where it all began: “’Ms. Marvel’ Trailer: MCU’s First Muslim Superhero Debuts on Disney+”.

In 2013, Marvel Comics introduced Kamala Khan, a Pakistani American teenager from New Jersey who idolizes Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel. By 2014, Kamala had superhuman abilities, her own solo series and her own superhero moniker — Ms. Marvel — making her the first Muslim superhero to headline a Marvel comic.

Nine years later, Kamala is making history once again in “Ms. Marvel,” the latest Disney Plus series from Marvel Studios that debuted its first trailer on Tuesday. The series will debut on June 8….

(7) WHO SAID CASH OFFENDS NO ONE? “Do Ya Wanna Taste It? Thoughts on Peacemaker by Abigail Nussbaum at Asking the Wrong Questions.

I had no intention of watching HBO Max’s Peacemaker. The whole concept seemed to me indicative of the cynicism and blatant manipulation that characterize this most recent chapter in the lifecycle of the superhero-industrial complex. Superheroes are now the leading product of the increasingly consolidated entertainment empires vying for our money, and each of those empires is now promoting its own streaming platform. Ergo, each superhero property has to function as a launching platform for a spin-off show, be it ever so esoteric and hard to justify artistically. Did you think that The Batman‘s take on the Penguin was weird and over-emphasized, a waste of Colin Farrell under a distracting fat suit in a role that could have been played by any character actor in Hollywood? Well, just sit tight for The Penguin, coming to HBO Max in 2023!

It would be one thing if these shows were bad and easily ignorable. But the same self-correcting mechanism that allows Marvel to keep chugging as the biggest pop culture juggernaut in existence despite the failure of individual movies is clearly informing the production of these shows, which repeatedly forestall the “who asked for this?” reaction with top-notch casting, stratospheric production values, and (up to a certain point) good writing….

(8) MORNING IN THE METAVERSE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber discusses the sf origins of the metaverse.

It tells you a lot about the state of the tech industry that much of its terminology is pilfered from dystopian science fiction novels.  Isaac Asimov gave us ‘robotics.’  HG Wells named the atomic bomb, and Neuromancer author  William Gibson came up with “cyberspace.”  Meanwhile in his 1992 novel Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson popularised the term ‘avatar’ to refer to the digital embellishment of a human in a shared world he called ‘the Metaverse.’  His vision of how humans might behave in a virtual world was quite prescient. ‘If you’re ugly, you can make your avatar beautiful,’ he wrote.  ‘You can look like a gorilla or a dragon or a giant talking penis in the Metaverse.”,,,

…The idea we’re being sold of the metaverse is essentially a video game, and it’s a dreadfully boring one.  All the exciting promises that glitter among the metaverse hype–the ability to socialise in digital spaces, engage in virtual economies, or build genuine friendships online–have existed in games for decades.  See the sophisticated societies in MMORPGS such as World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV, or the virtual universe of Fortnite and Roblox. They are more like a ‘true’ metaverse than anything Meta has to offer:  virtual worlds where you can customise an avatar, spend digital currency, attend concerts and, in what is becoming a metaverse specialty, tolerate obnoxious branding partnerships with your friends.

(9) EASY BIRTH. Goodreads does a brief Q&A with authors Jo Harkin, Sequoia Nagamatsu, Sue Lynn Tan, Olivia Blake, and John Scalzi in “Today’s Hottest Speculative Fiction Authors Answer Our Burning Questions”. Here’s part of what Scalzi has to say about writing The Kaiju Preservation Society.

GR: What sparked the idea for this book?

JS: The complete and utter collapse of an entirely different novel I was writing and the panic that came from knowing I was going to miss a publication date unless I came up with a new idea, fast. To which my brain said, OK, well, how about big monsters? And I said, YES BIG MONSTERS YES, and then my brain dropped the whole plot into my head.

GR: What was the most challenging part of writing your novel?

JS:  Honestly, nothing was challenging about writing this novel. It was a complete and liberating joy from start to finish, and I completed it quickly and easily. I want my next 60 novels at least to be just like this experience. I may be willing to do some unspeakable live sacrifices to achieve this. 

(10) LESLIE LONSDALE-COOPER. Publisher and translator Leslie Lonsdale-Cooper has died at the age of 96 reports the Guardian.

…Following a move to Methuen, where she became a rights specialist, she met [Michael] Turner and with him began translating the Tintin stories, a project that continued for three decades. “Translation” in this context meant rendering Hergé’s Brussels slang into English utterances that could be fitted into the speech bubbles of Hergé’s original drawings. Leslie was especially proud of their invented Tintinian oaths, such as “blistering barnacles!”…

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1973 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Some affairs are mostly harmless to use. The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy phrase. So it was with The Girl with Something Extra series that debuted forty-nine years ago. That the lead actress was Sally Field tells you how deep the story was intended to be. She was a wife who had ESP, and her husband never quite understood her. It was intended to be cute, really, really cute. 

Rounding out the cast was Teri Garr, Henry Jones and Zohra Lampert.

One critic noted that “The plot for The Girl With Something Extra TV show immediately brings to mind another show that ended in March of 1972 after a whopping eight seasons on the air! That series of course was “Bewitched” which also featured a young newlywed couple with the wife having super-human powers that caused many problems for her and her husband.” 

The audience apparently didn’t grasp its charms and it was canceled after one season of twenty two half episodes. I believe that it might be streaming on Netflix. (I have four streaming services but not that one. I have Britbox, HBO Max, Peacock and Paramount. That’s quite enough, thank you.) 

Lancer Books published a tie-in novel by Paul Farman, The Girl With Something Extra. 

I see a signed script is for sale on eBay. Huh. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 15, 1852 Isabella Augusta, Lady Gregory (née Persse). Irish dramatist, folklorist, theatre manager. With William Butler Yeats and Edward Martyn, she created the Irish Literary Theatre and the Abbey Theatre. She produced a number of books of retellings of stories taken from Irish mythology. Gods and Fighting Men, all seven hundred pages strong, is the best look at her work. It’s available at all the usual digital sources. (Died 1932.)
  • Born March 15, 1911 Desmond  W. Hall. He served as assistant editor of Astounding Stories of Super Science. His writing career is best remembered for his Hawk Carse series which would as Space Hawk: The Greatest of Interplanetary Adventures in the Fifties. These were co-written with Harry Bates, Astounding Editor. Unfortunately, it appears that he never stayed in print, either in paper or digitally. (Died 1982.)
  • Born March 15, 1920 Lawrence Sanders. Mystery writer who wrote several thrillers that according to ISFDB had genre elements, such as The Tomorrow File and The Passion of Molly T. Now I’ve not read them so I cannot comment how just on how obvious the genre elements are, but I assume it’s similar to what one finds in a Bond film. One of these novels btw is described on the dust jacket as an “erotic spine tingler”. Huh. (Died 1998.)
  • Born March 15, 1924 Walter Gotell. He’s remembered for being General Gogol, head of the KGB, in the Roger Moore Bond films as well as having played the role of Morzeny, in From Russia With Love, one of Connery’s Bond films. He also appeared as Gogol in The Living Daylights, Dalton’s first Bond film. I’m fairly sure that makes him the only actor to be a villain to three different Bonds. (Died 1997.)
  • Born March 15, 1926 Rosel George Brown. A talented life cut far too short by cancer. At Detention (1959), she was nominated for the Hugo Award for best new author, but her career was ended when she died of lymphoma at the age of 41. She wrote some twenty stories between 1958 and 1964, with her novels being Sibyl Sue Blue, and its sequel, The Waters of Centaurus about a female detective, plus Earthblood, co-written with Keith Laumer. Sibyl Sue Blue is now available from Kindle. (Died 1967.)
  • Born March 15, 1939 Robert Nye. He did what the Encyclopaedia of Fantasy describes as “bawdy, scatological, richly told, sometimes anachronistic reworkings of the traditional material“ with some of his works being BeowulfTaliesin (which was the name of my last SJW cred), FaustMerlin and Mrs. Shakespeare: The Complete Works. His Falstaff novel is considered the best take on that character. Some of his works are available at the usual digital suspects. (Died 2016.)
  • Born March 15, 1943 David Cronenberg, 79. Not a director whose films are at all for the squeamish. His best films? I’d pick VideodromeThe FlyNaked Lunch and The Dead Zone. Though I’m tempted to toss Scanners in that list as well. ISFDB says he has one genre novel, Consumed, which was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. Oh, and he was in the film version of Clive Barker’s Nightbreed. And he’s playing a recurring role in Star Trek: Discovery as Federation agent Kovich. 
  • Born March 15, 1967 Isa Dick Hackett, born 1967, 55. Producer and writer for Amazon who helped produce The Man in the High CastlePhilip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, and The Adjustment Bureau, all of which are based on works by her father, Philip K. Dick.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro shows a long-time household member having a problem with a new arrival.

(14) PRIDE MONTH. Honoring Pride Month, Marvel’s Voices: Pride returns for its second annual showcase of LGBTQI+ characters and creators in June.

Marvel Comics is proud to highlight its commitment to LGBTQI+ representation with stories that spotlight existing stars AND introduce brand-new characters to the Marvel mythology. Ranging from poignant to action-packed, here are some of the tales that fans can look forward to, each one capturing the joy and promise of PRIDE MONTH!

  • In last year’s MARVEL’S VOICES: PRIDE, Steve Orlando and Luciano Vecchio introduced the dreamy mutant hero SOMNUS,  who now stars in the ongoing X-Men series MARAUDERS! New York Times-bestselling, multi-award-winning author Charlie Jane Anders continues this tradition with the debut of another new hero to the Marvel Universe – and it won’t be the last you see of them. Stay tuned for more info!
  • IRON MAN scribe and lauded TV showrunner Christopher Cantwell takes on Moondragon’s complex legacy for a heart-bending story across space and time.
  • Shuster and Eisner-winning writer Andrew Wheeler makes his Marvel debut with the Marvel Universe’s real god of love – Hercules! Drawn by PATSY WALKER artist Brittney Williams!
  • Nebula, World Fantasy, and Locus-award winner Alyssa Wong reunites the Young Avengers fan-favorite artist Stephen Byrne in a story guaranteed to please fans new and old! Byrne will also depict the team in a vibrant variant cover that you can check out now!
  • Comedy writer Grace Freud (Rick and Morty, the Eric Andre Show) brings her talents to Marvel with a story about the power of responsibility featuring the Marvel Universe’s favorite gay ginger, D-Man! She’s joined by Eisner-nominated artist Scott B. Henderson in his first work for Marvel!
  • Television writer and podcaster Ira Madison III explores the legacy of Pride in his Marvel debut!
  • Champions scribe Danny Lore revisits the legacy of two characters long left in the closet in a tale of love and redemption! 

(15) PUTTING ON THE WRITS. NPR shows that even when you win in court, you don’t necessarily win: “Try as she might, Bram Stoker’s widow couldn’t kill ‘Nosferatu’”.

The world’s first vampire movie premiered 100 years ago. After a long copyright battle, Florence Stoker, widow of the author of Dracula, asked for all copies of Nosferatu to be destroyed. Were they?…

(16) A LARGER CANVAS. Rich Horton spotlights a first novel from a gifted short fiction writer in “Review: On Fragile Waves, by E. Lily Yu” on Strange at Ecbatan.

…On Fragile Waves is a powerful novel on a very contemporary theme, that if anything has become more powerful, more apposite, since it appears. It is the story of an Afghan family, fleeing the chaos in Afghanistan. At one level, it is purely naturalistic fiction, and very effectively so. But there is a fantastical level as well (or “magical realistic” as many reviews would have it) expressed in two ways — the stories the parents of the main character tell, traditional stories (with variations) … and, more obviously, a dead character who returns to haunt — or inspire — the main character….

(17) HOW MANY LIVES WAS THAT? A trailer has dropped for Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, the upcoming movie that stars Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek.

DreamWorks Animation presents a new adventure in the Shrek universe as daring outlaw Puss in Boots discovers that his passion for peril and disregard for safety have taken their toll. Puss has burned through eight of his nine lives, though he lost count along the way. Getting those lives back will send Puss in Boots on his grandest quest yet. Antonio Banderas returns as the voice of the notorious PiB as he embarks on an epic journey into the Black Forest to find the mythical Wishing Star and restore his lost lives. But with only one life left, Puss will have to humble himself and ask for help from his former partner and nemesis: the captivating Kitty Soft Paws (Salma Hayek).

(18) OWLKITTY. NPR profiles the creator of OwlKitty in “Videographer imagines what it would look like if Steven Spielberg made cat videos”.

…MARTIN: In one of Charroppin’s latest videos, Lizzy co-stars with Leonardo DiCaprio in “Titanic.”…

CHARROPPIN: The hardest of it is not adding the cat, it’s removing Kate Winslet. That process takes about three-quarters of how long it takes to do video.

MARTIN: Lizzy has 6 million social media followers, which is something Charroppin and his wife hope that animal shelters actually benefit from. They adopted Lizzy five years ago.

CHARROPPIN: If there’s one reason to do all of this, it’s to mostly raise awareness that adopting cats is way better than going to get full breed cats. Anything that we can do to help makes it all worth it.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: The Elden Ring,” Fandom Games, in a spoiler-filled episode, notes this new game, designed by George RR Martin, is a world where “every animal, person and plant wants to kill you” and features a dozen different killer swamps.  But the narrator thinks the scariest monsters are the crabs and lobsters. “I haven’t been this frightened by seafood since I got food poisoning at Red Lobster!”

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Rich Horton, Chris Barkley, N., Martin Easterbrook, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

43 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/15/22 Here’s One Weird Trick To Nominate For The Hugos. SMOFS Hate It. Click Here For More

  1. (4) I wanna point out that the category definition itself has been updated to drop the possibility of conventions being considered in the category. That’s also outlined in the thread and I think it oughta be in the File.

  2. (12) I’d rank The Dead Zone as the best film adaptation of a Stephen King novel (and one of Christopher Walken’s finest performances), but I’d rate the non-genre A History of Violence as Cronenberg’s best movie. It has a brilliant and hilarious cameo by the sadly-departed William Hurt. Cronenberg’s next movie, Eastern Promises (also not genre and also starring Viggo Mortensen) is terrific as well.

  3. I’ve never been a huge fan of comics. The whole DC/MCU leaves me cold. Continuity? Oh, we want to be “edgy”, so we’ll change everything… and then again, and again, and again. And all heroes must have feet of clay (so they look like our feet, say the producers)”

    I’ve come to distinguish franchise fans from real fans. How can I tell the difference? I saw, before I dropped out of ConCancellation, someone literally post “will people hate me if I jump fandoms?”

    I look at any real con, and see everything, not just one set of rights owners’ productions. Ours is much, much larger.

  4. (11) Husband played by John Davidson, whose dimples were ubiquitous in ’70s TV.

    (3) Playthrough videos (or summaries of them for the visually impaired) are probably adequate for judging a game from a few different perspectives. It’ll be interesting to see which ones the voters like.

    @mark Agree. I liked the funny comics like Groo and the hippie stuff like Freak Brothers and Weirdo, and even the artsy ones like Elfquest, but I’ve always found superheroes extremely non-relatable.

  5. (3) I want to thank Ira for the vast amount of work they’ve done to get the proposal to this stage. Games are now commercially the largest part of the SFF genre. Additionally, unlike books and movies, most games have SFF elements. It’s time for the Hugos to include games and I hope that the proposal that goes to WSFS this year is as robust as it can possibly be and that as many WSFS regulars as possible have had a think through the issues that arise and raise any concerns well before Chicon. That way Ira and the Hugo Award Study Committee can make sure the proposal takes them into account.

  6. (4) GAMES HUGO SUPPORT SITE GROWS.

    I feel like I’m only becoming more sceptical not less. I am impressed by the thought and commitment that Ira Alexandre has put into the proposal but for the games I haven’t played (or can’t play), I really don’t see myself watching playthroughs.

  7. 12: Hawk may not be in print anymore, but it’s send-up – Space Vulture – by Gary Wolfe (Roger Rabbit) and Archbishop Myers (yes…boyhood friend of Gary’s…and if you’re going to parody a series written by collaborators, you write that piece of humor as collaborators).
    Funny and pointed as all hell. Give it a look.

  8. 4: so…reading cliff notes and/or reviews of novels will now be considered sufficient exposure to a work to make a decision on whether to vote for something or not? (Publishers will love that…they can send out excerpts instead of complete novels .,.. lets make it real fun and send different excerpts out to different groups of voters)

    Personally, that idea takes the concept of representative democracy a bit too far. Which Fan artist should I vote for? Jones, who one set of my friends says is really good, or Smith, who a set of different friends say is really good?

    I looked at the Amazon entry on line: this novel is 256K, but that other one is 611K.

    Don’t bother your head about any of it…the Puppy’s will publish a slate that will tell you how you should vote….

    Sorry, but this subject and its presentation just begged for a little sarcasm and some pointy-stick poking.

    Are we seriously considering adding a category that the majority of voters would not personally experience directly before voting? I thought that’s what the Dragon Awards were for.

  9. It’s impossible to legislate for how or why people vote(1). Or how other people feel about that(2).

    (1) but they really should see the movie, read (or hear) the book, play the game
    (2) see (2)

  10. 4) I feel watching game play-throughs might be acceptable for a fairly narrow niche of narrative driven games, but even then that’s nowhere near as satisfying as watching a good movie. I certainly wouldn’t want to sit and watch someone fail repeatedly at Super Mario before finally learning the level and moving on, or to watch somebody figuring out a puzzle game. Computer games have to be experienced as games to be appreciated.

    6) I look forward to the second season where she ditches her boyfriend and embarks on a career of standup comedy: The Marvelous Ms Marvel.

  11. Thanks for the title credit!

    (6) Really looking forward to this.

    (12) Cronenberg has a relevant acting credit – he’s playing a recurring role in Star Trek Discovery as Federation agent Kovich

  12. (5) Yes, yes I was. My first WorldCon. I was blown away. Best memory was Bob Shaw doing one of his Serious Scientific Talks. Turns out you really can laugh so hard it hurts.

  13. 12) My list of favorite Cronenberg films would definitely have to include eXistenZ, which, weirdly, might also be one of his more accessible genre films?

  14. 7) I received a lot of flack on FB when I posted that I would like studios to stop pumping out Marvel/DC/Star Wars/Star Trek properties for at least a decade. My wish list to fill that gap would include, but not be limited to:

    Too Much Coffee Man (live action)
    Milk and Cheese: Dairy Products Gone Bad (live action)
    Johnny the Homicidal Maniac (but only if produced by Pixar)

    …because those other properties just aren’t weird enough.

  15. 4) Play-throughs and streaming aren’t my thing, but they’re not radically different from sitting with friends watching them play. I don’t see it as big deal – though I guess I’ve always thought the media Hugos skew mainstream lowest-common-denominator, and I don’t expect games to be different.

    12) I was a big fan of Videodrome when I was younger. Though with hindsight, I think I was trying to tell myself something when I adopted “long live the New Flesh” as my sig

  16. (4) My thanks for the update and coverage. Although I’m not a gamer, I have been part of the Hugo Awards Study Committee working on the Games Hugo among other things. I am impressed with the positive mix of expertise, enthusiasm, experience and care put into the proposals being worked on, especially on the Games “Best Games or Interactive Work” Hugo proposal.

    I had to have the “play-through” thing explained to me. I do think it’s an important part of the overall picture of how people can experience games, even if it may not be critical to some or many gamers.

    I am excited about this effort and the proposal and I will support it at the appropriate Business Meeting, hopefully Chicon 8.

  17. “I couldn’t see myself enjoying watching a play-through” and “I would have to play the game myself to feel I’d experienced it adequately,” does not logically lead to “EVERYONE should play the game themselves…” as some people seem to think. Basically, I agree with Ira that how you experience games is your choice, but you don’t get to prescribe or proscribe other people’s choices here.

    There’s a lot of potentially award-worthy narrative and cinematic content in today’s games which, if you can’t personally beat the levels/boss monsters/puzzles (why? because you just weren’t dedicated enough to GET GUD and so don’t DESERVE access to that content? or maybe because your work, life, etc. doesn’t afford you the hours of gameplay it would take to progress through multiple iterations of trial and error? or because you have a disability that prevents you physically manipulating the controls just so?), you just don’t get to experience–except via playthroughs.

    …Kinda like if you can’t read print material, you rely on audiobooks. I think that’s a much better analogy than “cliff notes”, as was unkindly scoffed about upthread. Audiobooks and playthroughs both let you experience the story/game/media from beginning to end (or ends, in the case of games with multiple outcomes depending on player choice) without requiring you to see the page or physically manipulate the controller/keyboard. And Audiobooks even have their nay-sayer contingent clogging up Twitter with hot takes about how you shouldn’t say you’ve “read” a book if you haven’t laid your personal eyes on the words on a physical or electronic page! Which is just as shamefully ableist as “PLAYTHROUGHS ARE CHEATING IF YOU DON’T SMASH THE BUTTONS AND WORK OUT THE PUZZLES YOURSELF IT DOESN’T COUNT”

    No other Hugo Award at this time requires the voter to have special skills beyond the ability to read/listen to/watch a story. You get to finish reading the novels even if you didn’t personally figure out the plot twists and reveals ahead of time, or direct the midbook battle between hero and villain. I don’t see that a Hugo for Best Game should have a higher barrier to voting than the rest of the Hugos.

    (“But a game should also be evaluated on first-hand game play experience!” I mean, that’s one opinion. There are lots of opinions.)

    Meanwhile, the Nebulas have had a Best Game Writing award for a few years now. Has there been significant kerfuffle there about playthroughs associated with them? I haven’t heard of any, and I’m a SFWA member. But I could have just missed it. (Maybe because it’s Best Game Writing, people are less fussed about whether voters personally play their own way into experiencing that writing?)

    At any rate, regardless of whether you personally disapprove, playthroughs are demonstrably part of gaming culture. So they’ll naturally be part of the culture of giving games awards. Declaring a huge part of existing gaming culture to be somehow out of bounds, or cheating, or invalid, seems futile at best.

  18. @Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    I think there is quite a bit of difference between Best Game Writing and Best Game. On the whole I would be much more accepting of a Best Game Writing / Narrative. It focuses more on the writing and less on the game play.

  19. (4) As admittedly Totally Not A Gamer, i (think I) understand how playthrough videos would be an effective way for people who do/enjoy gaming to reasonably experience the game. I sincerely can’t imagine how listening to a summary would be anything like experiencing the game. And no, I don’t think the comparison to reading text vs. listening to the audiobook is valid at all. It sounds more like listening to an audio of the Cliff Notes for the book–but, as Not A Gamer, it’s possible I Just Don’t Understand.

  20. (4) I used to game more, now I am a casual gamer. I don’t think a games category would be a good fit for the Hugos.

    Games can be exhilarating joyful experiences, and they can be a different form of immersive/interactive story-telling. But you really need to play them to get the full experience. Watching a playthrough just isn’t the same. And if you do actually play the game, the time & technology investment is non-trivial.

  21. Before the pandemic, I thought watching game play-throughs was a silly thing, and didn’t understand why people would bother. Post-pandemic, I find I’m a bit hooked on them, and now have at least one favorite game (Subnautica) that I’ve only experienced through watching playthroughs. And, while I’m not going to suggest that everyone rush out and start watching playthroughs, I will say that I strongly disagree with the idea that it’s more like a trailer or Cliff’s Notes than it is like an audiobook. It’s a lot more like an audiobook!

    In fact, I might go so far as to suggest that you can learn more about a game from a few hours of a well-edited playthrough than you can from the same number of hours playing the game. Especially if your reaction time, like mine, is not what it once was! (Looking at you, Elden Ring!)

    That said, I’d prefer if the Games Hugo was focused on the writing–but then I feel the same way about the DP categories.

    Also, I’d like to remind folks that you don’t have to vote in every category. I mean, I don’t watch much TV, so I generally skip the DP Short category. But I do think that games, like dramatic presentations, are a category that deserves awards, whether or not I plan to participate in the voting. And, much as I might like to insist that other Hugo voters follow my rules when it comes to voting in particular categories, I can’t, so I don’t. 🙂

  22. Xtifr says wisely Also, I’d like to remind folks that you don’t have to vote in every category. I mean, I don’t watch much TV, so I generally skip the DP Short category. But I do think that games, like dramatic presentations, are a category that deserves awards, whether or not I plan to participate in the voting. And, much as I might like to insist that other Hugo voters follow my rules when it comes to voting in particular categories, I can’t, so I don’t.

    I skipped entire categories when I voted four hours short of the deadline last night as I simply lackred the knowledge to intelligently cast nominations in those categories.

    For example, I really don’t read enough short fiction in any year to do nominations to those categories whereas I do know the video categories well. I did however a vote for editor, short fiction as several of the nominated sent me samples of their works. So I knew what they’d done.

    Novels were easy as that’s an area I’m versed in.

  23. Soon Lee says You can get a sense of a movie by watching a trailer. But that is not the same as watching the whole movie.

    I find trailers to be rather odd creatures. Some do an absolutely fine job of capturing the essence of a film which the trailer for Clue as did the one for The First Great Train Robbery. Oddly enough I thought that the Bull Durham one fell far short of capturing the feel of the film.

  24. @Cat,
    Looks like your comment is stuck in moderation. (ETA: Nope.)

    Yes, some trailers can definitely capture what a movie is like, some trailers most certainly do not. Ultimately, playing the game or watching the movie allows for a better gauge how how good something is, for the purpose of determining what to vote for.

  25. Sometimes it is fun to see a trailer that completely misconstrues the movie it’s about, such as this one for The Shining

  26. Soon Lee says Yes, some trailers can definitely capture what a movie is like, some trailers most certainly do not. Ultimately, playing the game or watching the movie allows for a better gauge how how good something is, for the purpose of determining what to vote for.

    Yeah you really need to watch a film or play a game to vote for it. I’m not a gamer since the last one I played the Travellers’ Aid Society RPG many decades ago. Just not my thing.

    The original Travellers’ Aid Society material is being re-released via a Kickstarter project in an awesome edition.

  27. (4) I play a lot of games and watch a lot of Let’s Plays (I didn’t spend all that time posting on Something Awful to ever call them ‘play-throughs’). Sometimes I play the game first and then watch a LP, sometimes the other way around, sometimes it’s just one or the other. My take is a good LP is a perfectly fine way to experience the game.

    @Cliff; “I certainly wouldn’t want to sit and watch someone fail repeatedly at Super Mario before finally learning the level and moving on,”

    As of time of writing (7:11 p.m. 16MAR22) I found a channel on twitch streaming a kaizo Mario to over 120 people (and IIRC some of the big-name kaizo Mario streamers can have a lot more viewers). And of course there’s things like this AGDQ 2019 run: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-BWX8aKpk4&t=59s

  28. The thing I come down to is we’re either voting on games or we’re not. And you’re only playing games if you’re playing the games. Yeah, if it’s a very cut-scene heavy game you can probably get a very good idea of the story through watching those online without losing much, but that’s a very specific and not broadly representative type of game (and, in my view, not necessarily a good one).

    I’m all for accessibility in gaming. I have had many very frustrating arguments with the sort of gamers who think accessibility features are only for the entitled, who probably also have little devil horns and a goatee and a personal vendetta against both artistic integrity and fun. But accessibility in gaming is about ensuring that people can play the games, not watch other people play them.

    It’s more than a little frustrating to see it reduced to that, honestly.

    I can see why they’re so gung-ho on selling let’s plays as a solution – it does a neat end run around the very real problem that with console exclusives around, even a dedicated gamer might well have to spend hundreds of pounds to be able to vote, and since the range refreshes every few years it isn’t an expenditure that you’d only have to do once. But it isn’t accessibility in gaming, and I’m still not convinced it’s good voting practice, either. Games are games. They’re not films.

  29. For me, there’s a pretty fundamental difference between saying that Let’s Play’s and Twitch streams and the like are fun and entertaining and worthwhile and even art in their own right – they are – and whether they’re a close enough equivalent to playing the game for the purposes of informed voting on a video game award, and not a best online playthrough award.

    With an audiobook, you’re doing the exact same thing as someone reading it, just by a different method. If someone played a game in an unusual way or with a wildly different controller or with a seeing-eye-player (not unheard of) or on a difficulty that isn’t “recommended” by the developer, that, to me, is more like audiobook vs physical/ebook. They’re still playing the game. I really do think that if there’s going to be a video game Hugo at all, that it should matter that they’re games, and that means we shouldn’t be coming up with excuses and workarounds to justify not treating them as games.

    (I agree that the Nebula’s game writing choice did a much neater end run around the problem. There are relatively few games which truly can’t be followed as writing without personally playing them.)

  30. I still don’t get the playthroughs = cliff notes analogy at all. All the playthroughs I’ve experienced are videos of people playing through the game. The whole game. I mean, maybe not all of them make you watch their five unsuccessful attempts at Boss X followed by yet another repetition of the unskippable cut scene, but I’m not in it for recreational frustration/boredom/exasperation. If all the animation/film/plot/character content is there, including the different branches you get from different player choices, that’s a heck of a lot more than cliff notes!

    And it being a Hugo category, and every other Hugo category being about writing and story, in whatever medium, I’m inclined to focus more on the writing and story inherent in the game than I am on the physical gameplay aspect. To treat it like a Best Game Writing Hugo even if it’s actually a Best Game Hugo. So, yeah, in a hypothetical Hugo year where I’m a voter, I’m inclined to vote based on those things I can experience via playthroughs if I don’t have the time, budget, ability, or inclination to access the game’s storywriting first-hand.

    Yeah, I hear people saying I shouldn’t. Some people also said I shouldn’t rank Sad/Rabid Puppy nominees below No Award without reading them first. Le shrug, yeah?

  31. No, definitely not cliff notes, not at all, you get much more of the game than that. Just not playing the game – listening to an audiobook – either. Maybe… having someone narrate a book to you as they read it, but everything filtered through their own experience, and you don’t get half the words (gameplay is actually a very important part of games! it’s why they’re games and not films!)? And maybe they also skip bits they find boring that you might have actually liked a lot, or at least would have liked to have known more about to make a fully informed judgement.

    As I said, I think Game Writing dodges the issue entirely – it takes the gameplay out.

  32. @Jake – I stand corrected. That was mildly entertaining to watch.

    I certainly don’t have a problem with people enjoying watching others play games. But, speaking as an ex-developer, I think it’s important to emphasise that games are made first and foremost to be played. In a third person game, for example, avatar animations are tweaked to allow motion at a speed that makes sense for the gameplay and which may actually look a little unnatural. It’s a subtle trade-off that wouldn’t be apparent to an observer. Weapon damages are carefully balanced, difficulty curves tweaked, etc etc. Locations are designed not just to look atmospheric, but to provide cover in shooting games, opportunities for surprise, hidden doors that reward the curious, and so on.

    People who watch games rather than play them, then they’re likely to favour games that look good and have strong narratives over games that are fun, exciting and challenging to play. If a large fraction of the voters are watchers, then the nominees and winners will be skewed accordingly.

  33. A big part of watching a playthrough is the reactions of the player. If the good-looking game with an excellent story has awkward or frustrating mechanics, you’ll hear all about it. And, generally, see it. Likewise, if it’s really good, you’ll see it in their face, and possibly in their screams and the way they show off their trembling hands after winning a particularly challenging and satisfying boss fight. Even in a game with meh graphics and a vague and confusing story (looking at you, Dark Souls I, a great game to watch).

    I admit, this is all not quite the same as experiencing it for yourself, but then, as far as I’m concerned, a Game Hugo should be primarily about the story and writing. After all, it’s supposed to be for genre games, and it’s the story and writing that make a game genre. So I would most likely vote based on story and writing (at least as the main factors), even if I had played each and every game before voting.

    This is, after all, the Hugos, and we’re all allowed to pick our own voting criteria. I can vote DP based purely on writing, if I choose. Or vote for the work with the fanciest FX. The rules don’t tell me to pick one or the other, but they don’t tell me not to either. So why should we have rules telling people how to pick best game?

    And if we accidentally end up picking the game with the best story, well, as far as I’m concerned, that’s a good thing! 🙂

  34. Too Much Coffee Man (live action)
    Milk and Cheese: Dairy Products Gone Bad (live action)
    Johnny the Homicidal Maniac (but only if produced by Pixar)

    These are such excellent suggestions I had to doublecheck to make sure I didn’t post your comment. You and I clearly were indie comics fans during the same time in the 1990s.

    Too Much Coffee Man deserves a movie or TV series. I met creator Shannon Wheeler at a signing in Fort Worth way back when and discussed our common experience of working for school newspapers in Texas. He’d been at the Daily Texan at UT, which was where TMCM was first brewed.

    These days he’s having trouble with fraudsters who first tried to rip him off and are now impersonating him in attempts to rip off other cartoonists.

  35. I used to hit up a coffee shop in Portland (and I don’t drink coffee) just because they taped up copies of Too Much Coffee Man by the register. Man, that takes me back.

  36. Late 80’s – Early 90’s Indie Comix you say? How about “Those Annoying Post Bros” (I’m surprised that Quentin Tarantino hasn’t optioned them from Matt Howarth.)

  37. JeffWarner says Late 80’s – Early 90’s Indie Comix you say? How about “Those Annoying Post Bros” (I’m surprised that Quentin Tarantino hasn’t optioned them from Matt Howarth.)

    Several volumes of Those Annoying Post Bros are available from the usual suspects for just five dollars and ninety nine cents, a good deal I think. I think I was in Seattle when those first came out. Or maybe the West Coast Portland. I’m trying to picture the comics shop I got them from.

    They’d have to be an animated feature to do them full justice.

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