12 August 2017

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The Power of Playlists


Did they really put Kieron Gillen on a panel first thing in the morning on the second day of the con? Was that wise ? Even worse… it was in one of the rooms requiring complex investigative skills to find. Thankfully, the rest of the panel were also interesting folks – Megan Leigh , Lucy Hounsom and Charlotte Bond … aka The “Breaking The Glass Slipper” Podcast. Based on that panel, I will probably be checking out the podcast, too.


The general gist of this session was the four panellists talking a bit about how they use playlists in their writing process, and in particular, to help them get into moods, locations or characters.


Different creators leaned different ways, some preferring whole albums to track-by-track playlists…  some creating playlists for characters or locations, some who heard songs and just knew “I’m writing this now”.


Sometimes it starts with random associations, sometimes it starts with specific lyrics or specific moments. Much like the way I make associations between characters and music in gaming, only writ large and much more widely expressed.


There’s also a reminder to myself that I need to put together a playlist for a tabletop RPG I run… ran? Will run again? It’s been a while, but I want to get back to it!


For reference:



scanned sketchnotes - "The Power of Playlists" panel
Sketchnotes from the “The Power of Playlists” panel (1 of 2)

a second page of scanned sketchnotes
The Power of Playlists – Sketchnotes (2/2)

Access No Areas: Access Issues in Entertainment and Fandom


The sketchnotes here are largely a list of the problems mentioned. I will immediately apologise for any accessibility issues with this website – I do know better than to leave them there, but I fix web accessibility issues so much for the day job that I largely leave it to WordPress and their themes and UI here. This is my downtime activity, and I need to not be spending my whole life doing it.  I only have so much brain-space.  So, if this site has accessibility issues, please do let me know, but you’re more likely to have success by contacting WordPress.


Given the subject matter, here’s a bit more of a text summary of the content of the image:



  • Events like uniform seating, which doesn’t always work.

    My understanding of this one is that there’s a misguided idea that it’s required for fire regulations.  As far as I can tell, that’s not entirely true, although fire safety can be a concern with more freeform layouts.  It doesn’t mean they’re not possible, but it does mean it has to become somebody’s job to care , and they need to know what they’re doing…  which means you need to pay them for that knowledge.

  • Booking services are frequently actively hostile – if you can get through to one at all.  In my experience, they’re pretty hostile to anyone who uses them – not just those with particular requirements – but that doesn’t make it okay.

  • Strobes.  Just strobes.

    Interestingly, walking into this very room (albeit for a different session, I think) I spoke to Tech and pointed out an overhead light with a dodgy starter or bubble which was flashing at more than three times a second. This is particularly bad as that’s right in the “sweet spot” for photosensitive epilepsy and a bundle of other issues. The next time I was in the same room that light was dark. Nine Worlds has good tech crew .

  • Often a need for sustained assistance means you can’t do things.

    Sometimes, just having somebody help you into a space to do a thing isn’t enough – they need to stay with you in that space and be around you whilst you do that thing.

  • Often an ability to get by with only occasional assistance means you’re not disabled enough

    Venue staff have been known to spit out their dummy because somebody stands up from a wheelchair. “Miracle!”, they cry, “You are cured!”. Many wheelchair users can get up and walk – just not for sustained periods or in all situations. They are not “faking” just because they stand up.

  • Often venues have some accessibility support front-of-house, but none whatsoever backstage or on-stage

    I can second this.  In my past life as a techie, I have fallen down unmarked holes backstage, I have been hit in the head by invisible beams and I have been almost garrotted in the dark by neck-height dangling loops of cable.

  • Venue policies of “no more than two wheelchair users at once”

    I can see reasons.  They’re mostly bullshit reasons.

  • Less visible problems exist too!

    Not every disability is highlighted for your convenience.


There is more, but I can’t quite work out how to sum it up. Basically, if venues and organisers start thinking about some of this stuff, a lot of it is easy to deal with just by actually bothering to think about it!


Scanned sketchnotes from "Access No Areas" panel
Sketchnotes from “Access No Areas”

Lunch & Pop-up Market


These are both things which happened.  I can’t entirely remember what we did, and I skillfully resisted buying more RPGs that I would never find time to play. Although I was tempted!


I do wish I could find a way to make gaming fit in my life a bit better.


Redemption in Sci-Fi – From Vader to Teal’c to Aeryn Sun


Another of those “we’ve got an idea for a panel, but we’re not entirely sure how to make it work” panels. Interesting, but a bit all over the place. Reading the panel description wouldn’t quite have been a stand-in for attending the panel itself, but it’d be close!


The one bit that wasn’t in the panel description, and which made it worthwhile for me, was a discussion of the gender differences in redemption arcs – there are remarkably few female characters with redemption arcs in their stories. They tend to die instead.


It was pointed out that that’s not uncommon for male characters either – redemption closely followed by a sacrificial death at a pivotal moment is a common trope…  but for female characters, it seems to be rarer.  More often, they stick to being evil to the end.


Scanned sketchnotes for Redemption in SF
Redemption in SF (1 of 2)


Creating Characterization in LARP


I went into this one worried that I wouldn’t get much useful advice… but I shouldn’t have.  More accurately, I was worried it wouldn’t provide me with new advice and would instead just talk about stuff I already know, but which goes out the window the moment I get to a game because anxiety is a git .


I shouldn’t have worried – it had plenty. Sure, it had plenty I had already thought of, but it had more too and was a fun panel along the way.



Limits of Horror


I confess this is one of my less readable sketchnotes.  But I like it because I picked a thematic layout and managed to largely stick with it all the way through.


Ed (a friend and the moderator of this panel) gently prodded the panellists enough that they could have a discussion in which he was also a participant without taking over… feeding in a few examples or cues along the way to keep things rolling, and also being a walking encyclopedia of film – always useful on this kind of panel!


Unsurprisingly, the general opinion of the panel seemed to be that there isn’t really a hard line between Horror and Thriller… and a lot of where that fuzzy line sits doesn’t come down to the majority of the work, but instead to how much it leaves hanging.



A Word on Panel Moderation…


I’m not going to name names on the internet, but this was the day that made me start looking for certain people in panel descriptions and just not bother going to their panels unless I know there’s a really good moderator.


If they are the moderator then I’m just going to skip it, too. I’m pretty sure they don’t mean to, but they have a tendency to speak over and interrupt the rest of the panellists.  If they’re delivering a solo slot, I suspect they’d be fine.  If they’re on a panel with a good moderator, they’d be a great contributor…  but otherwise? Nobody else gets to finish a sentence, which not only scuppers my enjoyment of the panel but also clearly troubles the other panelists.


I’m putting it down to them having a style that doesn’t work for me, rather than anything else… and I know moderating is hard – especially when you have opinions.  I know this feeling well – I do contextual enquiry interviews in my day job. Sometimes in those, I have to sit there biting my tongue while the person I’m interviewing is being wrong about something I designed, or while they’re missing a plainly obvious thing that’s right in front of my face.


But still.


(No, Ed, I’m not referring to you!)


Thus ends Day Two – Saturday.  I’ll get to Sunday at a later date.

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