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quote from the film 'Cinema Paradiso' by Guiseppe Tornatore

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Favourites

Sometimes it feels like I'm interested in too many things. My favourite medium is the computer game, especially (action) adventure games. My favourites subjects (any medium in no particular order) are:

  • narratives & storytelling
  • trans-, cross-, inter- and intramedial storytelling
  • historical fiction
  • affect and emotion
  • Tolkien & fantasy
  • Anglo Saxon and Icelandic myth
  • Middle Ages
  • Arthurian legends

And since I'm a woman, you can add +gender to all of the above.

My first idea was to keep track of what I was playing, seeing and reading, but I soon discovered that that would mean having to change this page too often. So I decided to only list all time favourites and works that I particularly liked (or not) and those that otherwise impressed me.

 

 

Favourite Platform

Sorry Nintendo, although I really liked playing the legend of zelda twilight princess, as the Wii now only seems to be about the fitness craze and new Zelda games more often appear on the DS, I play on the Wii less and less. My favourite platform at the moment has to be the Playstation (3 and 4). I really got hooked when I played the second instalment of assassin's creed.

 

 

GK1 PC game box

Computer Games, all time favourite

The problem with computer games is that they take so much time to play. And the problem with good games is that you want to play them again and again. As I play on several consoles, I'm usually playing more than one game at a time.

If I had to pick my all time favourite games, I' d have to choose the gabriel knight series by Jane Jensen (from my PC days). The more I analyse these games the more impressive they get. Until now I haven't played an adventure game that can hold a candle to this series.

 

Never thought I would show signs of game addiction after all these years of playing. Yes, I remember the all-nighters when I was a student and Sierra's graphic adventure games where the rage, but assassin's creed ii almost revived the all-nighter. Still I played every evening and weekend until I finished the storyline. (I've played the game several times now and as with gabriel knight I keep on discovering new things).  As the narrative in the gabriel knight series is less linear and does have several endings it still is my all-time favourite, but assassin's creed ii comes pretty close.

I try to keep up with the complete assassin's creed franchise, i.e. the major games (played and finished them all apart from assassin's creed iii (I'm stuck, but it is the only one of the major games I really do not like and therefore I'm not playing it fanatically, I've finished assassin's creed iv: black flag though and almost finished unity, working my way through rogue and just started syndicate). I also played the games that where released for the handhelds (including assassin's creed iii liberation which I really like); the books; the comic books; the French graphic novels; the new comics, and all the online games. And, despite earlier misgivings I'm really looking forward to the 2016 release of the film.

  GBA LOTR TT cover

Computer Games, great game

I'm trying to collect all the lord of the rings games that have ever been made. Of the 2000-2010 games I find the GBA titles the most compelling (not the fellowship game). They are not literal adaptations of the films but role-playing games that take you to locations from the books. Perhaps the fact that they do not follow the narrative slavishly, but let you 'peacefully' hack and slash your way through loads of crebain, wolves, trolls and orcs, makes them so appealing (I'm usually not the hack-and-slash type, but here it did feel part of the storyworld). They are interactively sound and make you feel part of Middle Earth and after all that's what games are really about. 

  XBOX Fable cover

Computer games, Impressive

Lionhead's fable is a very intriguing game. I did not like black and white simply because I have this thing about being responsible for virtual creatures. Logic tells me that they are virtual and bits and bytes aren't sentient, still...

fable is the classic hero myth with a twist. Through your actions you decide how your hero ends up. Some reviewers and critics said that Lionhead missed an opportunity by not allowing for a heroine. As I've grown up with all-male hero action films and TV-series, that didn't bother me too much. My only critique so far is that they stick very literally to the classic hero tale, which makes it too predictable. But IMHO the first game still is better than its successors.

  Zelda Wii game cover Thank you Nintendo for giving us the Wii (the original one). It takes great courage to take a different approach and not go for ever better graphics but give us a totally new game play experience! And best of all, every one can play. the legend of zelda twilight princess integrates this new gameplay with in a captivating and immersive story and was therefore great fun to play. But after that I have not seen a title matching in storyline and immersiveness (OK haven't played its successor yet). You designers out there, please give us more titles like this game.

Now that the Wii-U's days are also numbered I guess I won't buy one after all and wait for things to come.

  joystick nation book cover

Non-fiction, must read

J.C. Herz (1997), Joystick Nation, Little, Brown and Company, Toronto.

O.K. I said that I wouldn't do non fiction, but rules are there to be broken. This book is a classic for everyone who's interested in computer games.. Great insight in the American market, key players and key issues of the time. And if you add the documentary get lamp the text adventure documentary (2010) by Jason Scott you have some great interviews with the pioneers of the story structured game. 

  Samurai from outer Space book cover

Non-fiction, interesting

Antonia Levi (1996), Samurai from Outer Space, Understanding Japanese Animation, Open Court, Chicago and La Salle.

I've always been interested in Japanese culture in general and game culture in particular, especially the underlying stories and myths (thank's to the final fantasy series of games). My friend and fellow game researcher Joris Dormans recommended this book to me some time ago and ever since it was stuck in my bookcase, but not any more!

  LOTR FOTR book cover

Fiction, legendary

J.R.R. Tolkien (1954-1955) The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Shouldn't come as a surprise. What I particularly like (having studied English philology) is his use of languages and how he interweaves Old Norse and Old English stories, poems and myths in the trilogy. I first read this book when I was nineteen, just after I followed my first lectures on Old English (Anglo Saxon). Tolkien's books were the reason I decided to continue with Old English and Middle English and also took lectures on Old Norse. Just some fun facts: Gandalf is derived from the Old Norse gandr = magic + alfr = elf. Radegast is Anglo-Saxon gerād = wisdom + gāst = spirit, mind, soul

  Song of Ice and Fire book covers

Fiction, favourite

G.R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series. Still do not know how these books could have slipped my attention until the appearance of the TV-series. And to think that I had been familiar with his non-fictional work long since. Still, it should be obvious, shouldn't it, seeing that the Lord of the Rings is up there as number one. But why isn't this series number one? Well the later books do start to become a bit long-drawn-out, although I wouldn't be surprised if the final books show us that everything so far was relevant and necessary.  

  Nicolo Rising book cover

Fiction, favourite

Dorothey Dunnet House of Niccolň series. I first read Dorothy Dunnet's Lymond-series, which got me hooked on her style of historic fiction. But the Niccolo-series has to be my favourite. Although the characters and plot are somewhat 'predictable' after Lymond (just a tiny bit) this is still the best historic fiction there is. I haven't read anything yet that can match her depth of knowledge about history, people and places and her mastery of weaving all this knowledge into an intricate web of beautiful and compelling fiction. Impressive and immersive, but beware, the stories are so dense in information both factual and fictional that some people will struggle.

  Last_Kingdom_uk

Fiction, favourite

And then there are the books by Bernard Cornwell. Can't quite remember which historic series got me started, I love them all: The Warrior Chronicles / Saxon Stories, the Arthur books, the Grail Quest series, Sharpe, Agincourt, etc. There are other great books on historic fiction written by others such as Ken Follett and Sharon Penman and many more. So I could go on and on. Let's just say that if it is a series on Arthurian Legend or one about the Middle Ages chances are that I have read it. I'm also really glad that The Last Kingdom has been turned into a TV series by the BBC.

  bookcover tai-pan

Fiction, favourite

Due to the release of the Shogun mini-series on DVD, I decided to read the James Clavell books. I started with the Noble House, because I also remembered its television adaptation. So far Tai-pan is my favourite Clavell book. Interestingly there also is a computer game adaptation based on the book. A trading game where first you have to borrow enough money to equip a ship and then you have to hire or kidnap a crew before you can attempt to amass a fortune trading. See the above link and the Mobygames entry for screenshots.

  LOTR FOTR Poster

Film, favourite

Peter Jackson, dir. (2001) the lord of the rings, the fellowship of the ring

Again this should not come as a surprise. I think that Peter Jackson created a visually beautiful adaptation of Tolkien's books. My favourite is the Fellowship because although this is a modern interpretation it is visually convincing. I prefer the first film because in the other two, Jackson departs too much from Tolkien's version for my liking. I can understand his reasoning and film, as a visual medium, demands its own translation. And I guess you can't fault a director for wanting the please the crowd...

And after seeing them again recently the cinematography is stunning.

  Fried Green Potatoes DVD cover

Film, favourite

Jon Avnet, dir. (1991) fried green tomatoes at the whistle stop cafe

The past portrayed in this film is very much the past of my great aunt. And although we are speaking about two totally different continents, this film just conjures up memories of the summers in my early youth when I spent time at her house. The same goes for To Kill a Mockingbird (book more so than the film version). Apart from films like the lord of the rings, starwars IV and Dances with Wolves, Fried Green Tomatoes is the film I've probably watched the most times. The female roles are strong, the acting is quality and the alternating storylines between the present and the past keep you interested. And, as I said, the visualization takes me back to those happy summer days.

  Carmen poster

Film, favourite

Carlos Saura, dir. (1983) carmen

This film was a massive hit in Amsterdam when it was released (at least for the female part of the city, as well as my fellow students and flat mates) . Everyone (except me of course) was taking flamenco lessons afterwards. The film is a beautiful mix of 'reality' and fiction. And it's a very passionate film in more ways than one. The combination of Bizet's original music and the flamenco interpretation works extremely well. Unfortunately my DVD version is only mono, but even then the music and the dancing are totally immersive.

  Life on Mars poster

Broadcasting company, favourite

This definitively has to be the BBC or good old Aunty Beep (unfortunately we cannot receive any of the other English TV Channels). My first computer even was a BBC Microcomputer (also called the Beep for short). What can you say about the BBC? Good drama, good detectives, good SF, good documentaries, good children's television, etc. Here's a list of some of my favourites series:

opsommingsteken life on mars (unfortunately the series has ended, but its on DVD to enjoy every day)
opsommingsteken poldark
opsommingsteken sherlock
opsommingsteken ripper street (back)
opsommingsteken silent witness
opsommingsteken the last kingdom

 

  Game of Thrones TV-series poster

TV-series watched and watching

Apart from those produced by the BBC there are of course other (mini-)series out there

opsommingsteken game of thrones
opsommingsteken suits
opsommingsteken elementary
opsommingsteken blindspot
opsommingsteken vikings
opsommingsteken black sails
opsommingsteken lucifer
opsommingsteken etc.

In the past years TV-series have taken over from film. But I have joined the league of those who rather watch a whole season in one go, than wait every week for the next episode (except for game of thrones and the last kingdom of course).