Recommendations ​for the Week (I)

A brief overview of what I’ve been consuming.

Book: Tools of Titans (Tim Ferriss)

Great review of the best content from one of my favorite podcasts. It is not a manual for life, but may very well serve as an almanac.

Movie: Ghost in the Shell (2017)

It is not the best science fiction film, but I can feel that the people involved hold the original animated film (1995) close to their heart. Not all movies have to be an intellectual tour-de-force. It manages to capture the spirit of the animation without turning into goofiness or surrealism.

Podcast: Hardcore History – Blueprint for Armageddon

I had already recommended this a few days ago, and I am more and more impressed as I keep listening. With each episode running for an average of three hours long, it’s hard to find time for other podcasts!

Videogame: Hearthstone

The launch of a new set of cards combines with the imminent advent of the holidays to cultivate the ambition to reach the top of the rankings. It is no longer just about playing the game, but also about studying the matches of the best players in the world, trying to learn how each deck works. The fact that the game is so determined by the luck of the draw further exalts the importance of looking to play without fail in those moments when the Lady Fortune smiles upon us.

Music: Age of Rage (Shiryu)

In a week of much confusion and constant interviews, my head has no room for lyrics. This remix of Streets of Rage’s legendary soundtrack by Shiryu borders on perfection: it’s not noisy enough to scramble my tired brain, but it’s lively enough to keep me awake.

The Daughter of the Sea

There is a certain quality that only time brings. Those who tell stories long enough, consistently and without milking their worlds and characters predatorily, end up  building great, well-grounded works.

Most video game producers create decades of history for a single product. A song may refer to events from 10 years ago in the game world, but it is an artificially constructed historical date – the player can feel that the genesis of the song is that same as that of the story that gave rise to it.

Video game producer Bioware suffers from this malady. Always shifting from universe to universe because of the present trends, the volatile, almost childish creativity of its artists, and the demands of its investors, it never gets  to create a historical past for its worlds in an organic way. Everything must be settled in a single development cycle, or over a single generation of consoles.

At the other extreme, a much more uncommon scenario: developer Blizzard has cultivated the same universes for more than twenty years. One can argue their art has become paler, staler, by virtue of growing corporate pressure. But one can not deny its narrative consistency. The result is that in 2018 they can launch a musical work based on 15-year old ”historical” facts, not as measured  by the passage of time in the game universe, but in our “real” time.

There is more to this work than colossal budget and impeccable artistic talent . There is a lived quality, a historical truth that has been refined over the years. I bet that several people who worked on this were there fifteen years ago, living the events that are portrayed in song today.

Most video game producers seem to think money makes art. Money helps. But what makes art is the passing of time.