Home Movies featured only a handful of locales and purposefully unfinished backgrounds, creating a kind of stylistic ugliness that kept focus on the characters.

It started when I was in about fourth or fifth grade. My bedtime was at nine o’clock, but if my parents got distracted by something, I could watch TV in the basement long enough to see the switch: Cartoon Network’s kid-friendly fare would stop and a black screen with white text would announce that a new block of TV was about to start. I usually manage to see the thin piano intro and a couple minutes of improvised dialogue before I was collected and sent to my room. Obviously, as a child, it’s easy to be obsessed with the things…


Courtesy Bully Pulpit Games

Roleplaying Games

Junior Lieutenant Oksana Boykova lay on her cot in the infirmary at the Buchholz Airfield. Until recently, it was a major airbase for the Luftwaffe. Now, it housed the 588th Night Bombers Regiment of the Red Army Airforce. Boykova had flown many dangerous mission with the 588th, as a pilot and Section Leader, and then as a navigator. But tonight she was recovering. A mission near embattled Berlin had resulted in a shattered windshield which had wounded her face, possibly even damaging her eye.

She listened in the waning dusk light as her comrades took off in their rickety Po-2…


About 35 years ago, Nintendo released Super Mario Brothers for the NES. It was not only the start of Nintendo’s flagship franchise, but also one of the most historically significant video games ever released. It spawned many imitators and influenced entire schools of game design. Its characters would go on to provide a friendly on ramp to gaming for many. People who otherwise might not get into racing games or fighting games might feel more comfortable playing Mario Kart or Super Smash Brothers, knowing that Mario and friends’ friendly faces would be there to greet them. …


This weekend marked the 25th Anniversary of the Pokemon franchise. On February 27th, 1996, Pokemon Red and Green were launched in Japan, immediately launching a massive craze in kid’s pop culture. A quarter of a century later, and it’s become a massive media franchise, with new games released regularly, including remakes of old games, various spin offs, a long running anime, movies, toys, and a successful trading card game. Anyone who was a kid in the late 90’s and early 00’s had Pokemon in their life in some way. You may have been a massive consumer of Pokemon content, like…


Roleplaying Games

“Adaptation Quest” is an ongoing series of game design experiments about what certain tabletop adaptations would look like. Inspired by countless discussions in Dungeons & Dragons Facebook groups about how to adapt this or that property to the world’s most famous TTRPG, I hope to actually break down what a tabletop adaptation might be like, without having to write a 100-page document or playtest the thing. In this edition, we’re translating Metal Gear Solid using the Cypher, or should I say Cipher, system.

Over the last two months, I’ve finally been catching up with the Metal Gear series. I never…


Roleplaying games have come to encompass all kinds of genres and tell all kinds of stories. There are sci-fi games and horror games of every flavor. There are dramatic games, games about war, and even a game where you play as a community of rabbits. One genre stands above the rest, much to the chagrin of some and the delight of others: fantasy.

There are all kinds of games that tell all kinds of fantasy stories. Some, like The Sword, The Crown, and the Unspeakable Power, draw on a variety of characters in different locales. But the bread and butter…


The most important books in my life are the ones I read by accident. The little copy of Son of Laughter which I rescued from a Seminary bookstore bottom shelf during one of my shifts, for example. Or the slim little paperback of Woman at Point Zero I grabbed on a whim during a library bag sale. You may not know these books, but I do. Their contents are as much a part of me as the lauded classics I read for my undergrad degree in English. …


I was in Second Grade when Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace came out. My dad took me to see it in theaters opening weekend, and I’m sure it was the biggest movie event of my life up to that moment. You see, I was already a huge fan of the movie long before I saw it. My shelf was covered in toys from the movie, including the collectable Mountain Dew cans that featured information about different characters, cans I was convinced would be “worth something” some day, so long as I didn’t crack them open and drink the…


Let’s talk about elves

Everywhere you go in the world of Fantasy RPGs, you find elves. They are elegant, they are possibly immortal, they are good at shooting arrows and doing magic. They have pointy ears and usually speak a language that sounds vaguely Celtic, like a Welsh-language sleep meditation. In Fantasy RPGs where they appear, Elves are usually a playable race that lends itself toward sneaking, shooting, and doing magic. This broadly comes from Tolkien, whose shadow is still cast over most fantasy fiction, and even deeper in the world of fantasy RPGs, thanks to Dungeons & Dragons. …


Like many people, I was surprised when Sony Pictures announced that Oscar Isaac would star as Solid Snake in their production of Metal Gear Solid. Not surprised at the casting, of course: Oscar Isaac is everywhere and he certainly looks like he’d make a good Solid Snake, but because it was the first I had heard that someone was making a Metal Gear Solid movie. I had only passing familiarity with the series, but from I did know about it, it was dense, with complicated lore and constant twists and turns. …

Michael A Gold

Michael writes about video games, RPGs, history, and a little bit of everything else. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and Netflix account.

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